JUNE 30

All over our country we see signs which read: “God bless America.”  Now I’m all about God’s blessings being bestowed upon our nation. However, have you ever stopped and considered how blessed we are? May we need to reverse our thinking and rather than asking for His blessings with no effort from our side, our cry should be: “Bless God, America!”  After all, didn’t the Psalmist write: “Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and all that is within me bless His holy name.” ? (Psalm 103:1) Then and only then can we truly be one nation under God. Godspeed my friends.

 

JUNE 29

The other day my brother sent me a text message. He had a great idea and wanted to share it with me. He asked: “Do you have any teachers from first grade on that would be surprised you wrote a book? You ought to give them a copy.” Well, that list would include every teacher from kindergarten all the way to seminary. My Mom would also be on that list as she was my kindergarten teacher. I told him we had already thought of this and I had a couple out there targeted for such a gift. Why am I sharing this with you? It’s to encourage some of you parents and grandparents as you deal with your children.

If there has ever been an average individual in life, that would be me. From elementary school all the way through high school, I never made the principal’s list or superintendent’s list. My senior year in high school, typing kept me from the principal’s list. TYPING!!!! How is that even an academic course? Never once was my name called for any award, not even perfect attendance. Average, I was just average. I had no clue what I was going to do with my life. I was so envious of some of my classmates and all of their accomplishments and awards. Just being transparent.

I read where 2 or 3 students at Clinton High School made perfect scores on their ACT test. I took that test twice and if you added my score together, I’d still come up short by several points. When my friends were graduating Magna Cum Laude and Summa Cum Laude, I was graduating Praise and thank the Laude!!! Why? Because I was average. Good at a lot of things, great at nothing.

Remember, God has chosen the foolish things to shame the wise. Of a class of over 120, there was no one less likely to accomplish something significant than me. Not that I’ve done anything really significant as the world understands significant.

When you get frustrated with your child or grandchild because of grades. When all their friends seem to be sailing past them, remember, God has a plan for them. Be patient and let it unfold. My parents did. By the way, I graduated from seminary with a “A” average and my doctorate with an “A” average. Miracles still happen, my academic record is a prime example. Godspeed my friends.

 

JUNE 28

Last night around 8:30, I was surfing the channels of the television. I had been working in the yard until 7:45, taken a shower, and was now ready to relax. The problem with scanning the channels on your television is, there’s just not much on these days that I want to see. At this time of the year, the Yankees games are usually the choice for the night. And last night I had rather been beaten over the head with a piece of stove wood than watch the Democratic Presidential debate.

Finally, after exhausting most of my options, eureka! I found it. The movie, Sandlot, was beginning at nine. I normally don’t stay up that late, but I watched the whole thing. I laughed, I cried, but mostly I reminisced. Tommi Jo asked me: “Did you really do those things growing up?” My response was: “Yes, and on a regular basis.” It’s hard to remember a summer day when we didn’t play baseball, wiffleball, swim, or go to one of the local parks sponsored by The Cleveland Park Commission. That’s just what we did. We rode our bikes to Wiley’s gas station, purchased wax lips or wax bottles filled with juice shots. That was our summer.

I’ve noticed two things about our young people today. They don’t know how to play and they don’t know how to talk. They’re great on video games and they can text the stars down, but playing and talking eludes them. I could go on and on, but I won’t. Some memories I’ll keep to myself. As for the Sandlot, it was real in Cleveland, Ms. And by the way, in the fall, there wasn’t a week that went by that there wasn’t a football game going on at the grounds of Immanuel Baptist Church. I miss those days. Godspeed my friends.

 

JUNE 27

You’ve heard the expression: “Close only counts on horseshoes, hand grenades, and slow dancing.” It’s frustrating to get so close to a goal or significant achievement, only to come up short. You may not know this about me, but I can be pretty competitive. Shocking, right? When I run in the morning it’s frustrating to run a 10 minute mile. 9:59 just looks a lot better. When playing golf, shooting an 80 may seem good, but you were one stroke from posting a 79. With just a little more effort, or better decision making, it would change your whole outlook on your performance.

The same is true in our relationship with God. For many of us we’re so close to taking our faith to the next level, but we’re coming up short. It has nothing to do with church attendance. You can go to church every Sunday and still not be what God wants you to be. You long for more in the spiritual and faith realm of life. The only way it’s going to happen is to spend time in God’s word and with God Himself. All it takes is a little effort on your part and a little time. Your time with God is more important than your time on Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat. It’s more important that the television programs you watch. As a matter of fact, there’s nothing, absolutely nothing more important than your walk with God.

Stop coming up short of what you were created to be. Stop settling for less. The rewards will far outweigh the time and effort. So what are you waiting for? Godspeed my friends.

 

JUNE 26

It’s one thing to have someone say: “I love you.” The list of individuals who would make such a statement might include your spouse, children, friends, and neighbors. However, it’s quite different to have someone know everything about you, the good, the bad, and the ugly and still utter those three words. The reason I say that is no one knows everything you’ve done, said or thought. That includes those who are the closest to you. As I thought about this concept, the closest person I could come up with is your mother. I certainly know that was true in my house and throughout my life.

Just for a moment think of some things you’ve done in your life. Destructive things. Embarrassing things. Immoral things. Think about the words that have come out of your mouth. Hurtful words. Degrading words. Think of those actions you have committed in your past that you pray no one will ever discover. Many people live with the fear that if others really knew them, they wouldn’t like them and they certainly wouldn’t love them.

But there is one today that knows everything about you and loves you still. He knows your fears, sins, and shortcomings. He knows every action and every word that makes up the symphony of your life. He knows what no one else knows about you. Here’s the good news, He loves you unconditionally. He loves you as you are and not as you ought to be. There’s not one thing you can do to make Him love you any more or less. All you have to do is call upon His name. That unconditional love and complete forgiveness is just a prayer away. Godspeed my friends.

 

JUNE 25

I’ve been running since 1998 if my memory serves me well. I started while I was working on my doctorate to help deal with the stress. When I began, I ran seven days a week. It didn’t matter where I was or what I was doing, running was a high priority. These days I’ve reduced my schedule to about three or four days because my body can’t take the pounding that running puts on your knees and back. In other words, I do just enough to stay in decent health.

I also run out of fear. If you haven’t figured it out yet, fear is a great motivator. The fear of getting out of shape stimulates me to get out of bed and put the feet in motion. This is a fact which can’t be refuted. It takes a long time to get in good physical shape. It doesn’t take nearly as long to get out of shape. If you take a few days off, believe me, your body will pay the price.

The same is true with our spiritual fitness. It takes a long time to grow and discover God’s will in your life. It doesn’t happen by osmosis, it must be intentional. You have to spend time in prayer, Bible study, cooperate worship and Christian fellowship. It takes a lot of time to get into physical shape. It doesn’t take long to get out of shape. Your prayer time becomes less and less. The time you once spent in Bible study is now spent on social media. You miss one Sunday during the summer and one Sunday turns into two and before you know it, you’re out of church for a month. All of a sudden your entire life seems out of whack. It’s time to get back into spiritual shape.

Don’t let the summer months take you away from what is important. Stay in spiritual shape by walking with God and being a part of His family. The time you spend with Him and His people will make all the difference in the world. Godspeed my friends.

 

JUNE 24

I love listening to my music. I listen to it in the car, office, while running and even on the golf course. I developed a love for music at an early age from my oldest brother Al. He’s ten years older than me, so I just learned to listen what he liked.

At the age of 15 I started working at the Sound Center, music store in Cleveland, Ms. It was there that my musical taste was broadened. Today if you were to listen to my playlist it would include rock, jazz, Broadway musicals, pop, Christian, and of course country music. About the only thing you won’t hear is rap music. Mainly because I think that’s an oxymoron.

I hate it when the music stops. While I’ve been running, either my earphones or music source has run out of power. On the golf course, my speaker has gone dead. In the car, a signal has been lost. When the music stops, it can be an unsettling situation.

The same is true in life. There have been several times when the music has stopped in my heart and soul. Because of a heartache, tragedy, or disappointment, the music dies. I remember several years ago, two to be exact, I was in my office when a friend dropped by to see me. When he entered he said: “Where’s the music? This is the first time I haven’t heard music in this place.” It wasn’t that day, but eventually the music started playing again. Not just literally, but spiritually.

When you can’t recall any words to a song, just sing: “Jesus loves me this I know. For the Bible tells me so.” It may not be The Hallelujah Chorus”, but it may be just the thing that brings back the song to your soul. Godspeed my friends.

 

JUNE 23

They say vacations are nice because work is at both ends of it. As important as work is, taking time away is just as vital. This is just as true in the ministry. There is a certain amount of guilt one feels when he’s away from his congregation. I’m not sure I’ve ever been completely away except when we visited the Holy Land. Now with texting and social media, it makes it impossible to not be available.

Notice in the ministry of Jesus how many times he withdrew from the people to be alone. Why? Because the when one gives and gives and gives, the tank starts running empty. Don’t make your pastor feel guilty for getting away. As a matter of fact, encourage it. He’ll feel better and as a congregation you’ll reap the rewards.

I have two meetings in Jackson tomorrow and then it’s onward to home. It’s time to finish up the summer and hit the ground running in the fall. But today, I’ll enjoy one more opportunity to relax. Just after I finish up packing. Godspeed my friends.

 

JUNE22

We come to Orange Beach each year at the same time and stay in the same condo. For an entire week, this is our home. Our stuff is here. Our children are here. We cook here. We sleep here. For all practical purposes, this is our place. However, it’s only our place for a very short time. It’s easy to fall in love with this place when you have the sun, beach, food, and yes, even golf. But we don’t live here, it’s only a temporary stop each year.

The same is true with this life we live. No matter how good you have it, don’t fall in love with something that’s temporary. This life was never meant to be a destination, but rather a temporary stay when compared with eternity. The problem with so many of us is we’ve swapped the best for something that’s only good. How sad it is that this world is the only Heaven some people will ever know. How comforting for some that this world is the only Hell they’ll ever know.

The choice is yours. The journey on this earth is exciting and adventurous, but it was never meant to be the final destination. Make plan for eternal life because it is a reality. Godspeed my friends.

 

JUNE 21

One of today’s biggest sports or activities is dodging responsibility. In other words, our failures, defeats, and shortcomings are someone else’s fault. It’s like when two boys are fighting and the teacher breaks it up, she asked: “Who started this fight?” To which one lad responded: “He did when he hit me back.” The responsibility clearly lies on the the shoulders of someone else. As we grow older this blame game becomes bigger and more inclusive. “It is my parents fault.” “Teachers have always been against me!” “Society has never given me a chance.” And of course if you’re a Mississippi State fan this morning, it was the umpire’s fault. Even though the umpire didn’t walk two in the 7th inning nor did he make a wild throw on a pick off move. Sometimes you just get beat.

Of course, the passing of responsibility is no new phenomenon. It goes all the way back to the beginning of creation. Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the snake. Sooner or later you have to look at your life and realize the person most responsible for your life and actions is you. I heard a college president say once that a B.A. degree stood for “builder of alibis.” I’m not saying that our parents, society, and others don’t shape us. However, they don’t have to define us. When we accept responsibility we can begin the process of restoration, forgiveness, and wholeness.

Don’t be like the character in one book I read who said: “Yes I have sinned, but I have several good excuses.” Forget the excuses and seek forgiveness by accepting responsibility. It’s not always the umps fault. Godspeed my friends.

 

JUNE 20

Yesterday, my son-law and I played golf at Peninsula Golf Club in Orange Beach. We play here each year because we love the course and the people. It was just the two of us and as we were about to tee off, the marshal came up to us and said: “I have a single that needs to play with you guys.” Now I have to tell you, normally I don’t like playing with strangers because it’s either real good or real bad. I asked the marshal if we had to play with him. (Ease up, I know it wasn’t very Christian of me, but I was just being honest. I’d have visited him if he dropped into our worship service. But this is golf.) He informed me that we had no choice. So we played with Charlie from Washington state.

We got on the first tee and just before Charlie hit his drive, he turned and said: “Before I say anything, neither one of you are preachers, are you? I got stuck with one the last time I played and it was miserable. I couldn’t say a word.” I looked at him and said: “Well, Charlie ole boy, I hate to inform you, but you got another this round. But feel free to say what you want because I’ve heard them all. Said a few of them myself.” He just smiled.

At the end of 18, we shook hands and he said: “I really enjoyed the round today guys. You made it a lot of fun.” Remember, people need to see a sermon rather than hear one. They don’t always have to be told how bad they are, most already know it. Sometimes all the need to know is you’re a sinner saved by grace. You never know what one positive encounter will have on another person’s life. Charlie may not remember me, but hopefully he’ll remember I’m no different than him. Godspeed my friends.

 

JUNE 19

I read yesterday where Barnes and Noble Book store in Madison/Ridgeland will be having a Pride reading day on June 29th for children. All across Major League Baseball, teams are sponsoring “Rainbow” night. Disney, for years has set aside certain days for “Gay Pride” emphasis. Now here’s the question I have: “Because Christians are fast becoming a minority in this country, will there be public days set aside for us so that the world may have a better understanding of us and our beliefs? I heard all the arguments and reasons for the promotion of the LBGTQ, (By the way, they’re adding initials everyday) however, none of them are scriptural.

Let me make myself clear, just because I disagree with the LBGTQ movement, doesn’t mean I hate anyone. I fully understand the need to love all people, even when we disagree. That means I’m entitled to my own opinion even if you don’t like it. That doesn’t make me mean spirited nor homophobic. It means that I will stand firm in what I was taught from a child to an adult. But here’s the rub and the unfairness of it all. The door doesn’t swing both ways as far as tolerance and understanding. Will Barnes and Noble have a Christian reading day for children? Will Major League Baseball have “Faith Night” (Which some have)? Does Disney offer a Christian Day?

I know this post will make some mad and I’ll be accused of ignorance and intolerance. However, freedom isn’t just for a select few, but for all. Likewise, I don’t expect any hateful comments made. You’re free to agree or disagree, but you will not change my mind, nor my faith. I’ve slowly watched people of faith become a minority today because we’ve kept our mouths shut for too long. Sorry, I’m a little ticked, maybe more should be. Godspeed my friends. And may God help us.

 

JUNE 18

There are some simple lessons I’ve learned over the years. If you want to be a better runner, run with people faster than you. If you want to be a better golfer, play with people who are better than you. If you want to be a better student, study with individuals who are smarter than you. And finally, if you want to be a better person, associate with people of high character and morals. I heard Nick Saban say: “High achievers don’t want to associate with mediocre people and mediocre people don’t want to associate with high achievers.”

My son-in-law has just recently started running. In the first month of his regiment, he had never run farther than three miles and never over a mile without a break. This morning he had an opportunity to run with me. I wouldn’t tell him how far or how fast we were running. Before he knew it, he had run two miles without taking a break and he ran-walked a total of 3.5 miles. Sometimes all we need is a little push and from someone who cares.

Remember, you will become like the crowd with which you associate. The same is true with your children. Believe me, it has taken a village to raise this preacher and get me to where I am today. I was always the weak link in the crowd I ran with. Good folks will make a difference in your life. Godspeed my friends.

 

JUNE 17

There are good Father’s Days and there are great Father’s Days. Yesterday would have to rank up there in the “great” category. It started out with a great time of worship with my church family. From the beginning to the end of the service there was a wonderful sense of God’s presence.

To continue the day we drove down to Orange Beach for a time of rest and relaxation. The drive was uneventful and pleasant. We got here just in time to watch the Mississippi State baseball game and the conclusion of the U.S. Open. I still can’t believe we won that game. By the way, congratulations to Gary Woodland on winning his first major.

Oh yeah, the day got better. Melanie, Morgan, and Miles arrived at the end of the baseball game. They got to see the end and the victory. Then, Doc got to rock Miles to sleep. He slept seven hours last night.

The only thing that would have taken the day from “great” to “perfect” is if Laura and Grant would have made it in last night. Oh well, they’ll be here tomorrow and I can’t wait. Now it’s time to hit the links and the lazy river this afternoon. Godspeed my friends. It’s a rough life, but someone has to do it.

 

JUNE 16

Not everyone has known the love and support of an earthly father. For so many individuals this is a difficult day, not because they lost their father to death, but they never had a close relationship with him. Every child, regardless of what they say, wants the blessings of their Dad. They want to hear their Dad say: “I’m proud of you and I love you.” There have been many emotional wounds caused by a father which have followed individuals into adulthood and made them the person they are today. You may not want to believe it, but it’s a fact.

On this day, for many of you it’s not too late. Settle up with your child. Give them the blessing they so desperately want. Tell them they’re okay in your eyes. It will be the greatest gift you ever gave them.

Whereas many have never known the love and support of an earthly father, we can all know the love of a Heavenly Father. The good news today is He loves you as you are and not as you ought to be. Remember, He loved you enough to die for you. Godspeed my friends.

 

JUNE 15

For a lot of people, Father’s Day and Mother’s Day weekends are difficult due to the death of a parent or parents. I’ve been an orphan since 2007 and I still miss my Mom and Dad. However, I’ve never viewed this weekend as difficult or necessarily hard. Now don’t get me wrong, I miss them both with every fiber of my body. But it doesn’t consume nor paralyze me. I have to admit there are hallmark moments which I’d love to have the opportunity to share with them. Some of them include: building a new sanctuary, my service at the convention board, my grandson, and my book. I think they would have enjoyed those things.

The reason this weekend does bum me out is twofold. First, I have zero regrets when it comes to my parents. There was nothing left unsaid nor undone. I knew exactly how they felt about me and they knew exactly how I felt about them. In a huge sense this gives me contentment when it comes to my relationship with my Mom and Dad.

Second, because of our relationship with Christ, I know the separation is only temporary. There’s no doubt that I will see them again. Remember as parents, there’s only one thing you can take with you to Heaven. That would be your children. I don’t frequent my parents grave in Jackson too often. The reason? They aren’t there. I don’t seek the living among the dead.

This Father’s Day weekend, if your Dad has passed from this earthly scene, don’t dwell on what was taken. Remember what was given and what will be rekindled in the future. Godspeed my friends.

 

JUNE 14

This coming Sunday I shall be preaching a sermon entitled: “Lessons I Learned From My Dad.” In actuality, it should be titled: “Lessons I Learned From My Dad Part II.” You see, I preached a similar message a few years ago, but there was no way to communicate adequately all my Dad taught me as man, father, husband, pastor, and friend in a morning message. As you read this, think about some of the valuable lessons you learned from your Dad as I share just a couple with you.

My Dad taught me to always be prepared, no matter of the circumstances. I remember when I was called to my first church, my Dad shared the following words with me. “Son, Sunday and Wednesday come around once a week, you better be prepared. Don’t you step in that pulpit unprepared. And remember, if the message doesn’t speak to you, it won’t speak to the people.”

I remember when I was asked to preach my first funeral, I called my Dad. I remember asking him what I should do or say. Again, I remember him telling me the following: “The best thing you can do if offer your presence. Find out as much about the individual and make the service personal. It’s not time to hold a revival but do offer hope to the family.”

Finally, my Dad taught me a very valuable lesson by what he didn’t do. My Dad, in the last 25 years of his life, never had a best friend. Now don’t get me wrong, he had people he loved and they loved him, but he denied himself real close friends. In my ministry, I’ve done the opposite. Because of that, I’ve been blessed and burned. I’ve found out over the years, when you truly love, you never lose.

Remember this old saying: “What a child sees, he does. What he does, he becomes.” What have I become? Hope a living legacy to the man who taught me so much. Hopefully in his eyes, it was enough. Godspeed my friends.

 

JUNE 13

As John and Paul sang: “It won’t be long yeah (yeah), yeah, (yeah), yeah (yeah). “Start Here”, which is the title of my book is headed to press. Last week, as I was driving home from a funeral in Canton, I received an email from the publishing company with the final layout. It gave me an opportunity to look at the cover and the back of the book. It’s been a long time since I’ve had anything overwhelm me like that. To actually see what the finished product will look like. We’ll know soon when they will be in our hands for distribution.

As of this moment we know we will be doing book signings in Columbus, Cleveland, Natchez, Canton, and possibly Jackson. Where and when will be coming to you soon. Of course we’ll also accept mail orders as soon as possible. We will probably start a new Facebook page, at the request of my daughter, to keep you informed about scheduled events.

Thank you so much for your encouragement and support. This project would have never gotten off the ground if it weren’t for people like you. Godspeed my friends. Let’s get ready to have a little fun

 

JUNE 12

Golf’s U.S. Open starts tomorrow at Pebble Beach. This year the PGA has changed their schedule in that by this weekend, three of the Major tournaments will already have been played. The PGA Championship, which is usually played in August was played in May. I gotta tell you, I don’t care for the new schedule at all, but it sure doesn’t stop me from watching.

I don’t care for the fact that high school and college football starts before Labor Day. I certainly don’t like it when my beloved Bulldogs play a Saturday morning game at 11 o’clock. However, it doesn’t stop me from attending.

I get real aggravated when my favorite restaurant changes their menu without consulting me. It’s frustrating to be caught off guard and not see things in the order of which I’m accustomed. However, it doesn’t stop me from frequenting that establishment.

Nobody really like change. As a matter of fact, the only person who likes change is a baby with a messy diaper. But for the most part, we roll with change because it’s just a part of life. But why is it that people will accept change and be inconvenienced in every aspect of life, but the church? We’ll at least tolerate and accept change in most of the areas of our life, but man, if something changes in the church, we fall to pieces. Maybe we need a little less of ourselves and more of Christ in our lives.

Several years ago, while pastoring another church, we were about to present our Christmas music program. This church did it on the first Sunday of December so they could “get it over with.” I always thought it was sad to get Christmas “over with.” I was talking to the chairman of my deacons, who was in the choir and said: “It would be nice to move this to the second weekend of December.” His response: “You do, and I’ll quit the choir.” The Church is not about our schedule and desires, it’s about honoring Christ and advancing His Kingdom. And we wonder why the church has such little influence on the world. Godspeed my friends.

 

JUNE 11

If you could talk to my senior English teacher, Mrs. Thompson, she would tell you I’m the least likely person to be writing a morning message each day. I remember years ago I had the opportunity to drop by and see her while I was preaching in my hometown of Cleveland. When she found out that I was a minister, she said: “God is truly in the miracle business.” I would most definitely agree with her assessment. Each and everyday God is working in people’s lives. The problem with so many of us is, we’re too busy to see or hear from our Creator.

Today in the business of life, stop for a moment and observe where God is working. So many of us look at the world and think everything is out of control. However, the last time I checked, He still has the whole world in His hands. Who knows, a miracle for your life might happen this day. However, only those who have eyes will see and those who have ears will hear. I’m not talking about a “name it claim it” miracle. But rather the simple miracle of walking hand in hand with the Creator of the universe. That in itself is a miracle that blows my simple mind. Miracles still happen everyday, yes, they really do. I’m living proof. Godspeed my friends.

 

JUNE 10

The other night, while attending a college baseball game, I couldn’t help but notice the cute little girl sitting two rows down and to the left of me. She was probably 6 or 7 years old and acting so independent. She cheered for her team and like any young child, she was in constant motion. However, when it came time to navigate the steps to the concession stand or bathroom, she needed help from one of her parents. You see, she had braces on both of her legs which made it almost impossible for her go upstairs by herself. But she tried. I guess because the parents knew their girl so well, they let her try on her own. When it became exhausting or impossible, she would turn and extend her hand to her father and he would lead her up.

I watched this episode play out time and time again and I couldn’t help but see myself in this precious child. Not that I’ve ever had braces on my legs, but there have been moments in my life when certain situations have slowed me down to a crawl. I’ve found myself stopped by the burdens of life. Over and over again I try to climb up, but my own strength is inadequate. Then I look up to my Heavenly Father and He extends His hand to me. He leads me up and never down. He provides direction and support when I need it the most.

Today, if you find yourself struggling through life, look up. You’ll find a hand extended to help you, not harm you. You don’t have to do this alone. Your Heavenly Father loves and cares for you. Grab His hand right now, for the climb is steep and the burden is heavy. He’ll lighten the load and will lead you home. Godspeed my friends.

 

JUNE 9

Have you ever gotten to a point in your life when going to church didn’t mean anything? No matter how wonderful the music or inspiring the message, your heart is cold and your spirit is unmoved. We sit in a place where God’s grace abounds and the problem is so simple. We’ve come to a place in our life where we feel like we don’t need it. It’s not that we’re guilty of any gross sin, but rather we’ve become self-righteous and feel like we’re okay.

Maybe it’s time we recognized that the church isn’t a collection of saints, but rather a gathering of sinners in need of forgiveness. If you think you’re perfect in your walk with Christ, the chances are you’re not. The people that Jesus criticized the most were the religious folks who thought they had their act together because the followed certain rules. Christianity isn’t a list, but rather a relationship with the Living God. If that’s what’s missing in your life, no wonder church doesn’t mean much. Maybe you need an honest talk with your Creator. The good news is, He’s ready to listen. Godspeed my friends.

 

JUNE 8

I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed, but this is usually the case. When a pastor is forced out of a church and there’s no just cause such as immortality or false theology, those who stirred up the trouble usually leave the church. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve witnessed this. Inevitably someone will begin by saying: “He’s a good man, but we have to have peace in the church.” Before you know it, a good man is terminated or forced to resign because a vocal minority has raised their voice. The sad part is, those who stir the pot usually end up leaving the church themselves.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are times when a pastor needs to leave a congregation. Somehow, someway, things have gotten crossed up. However, let God work the situation out in his time, not yours. Many a ministry could have been saved or extended if God’s people acted like God’s people. I know too many good men who are no longer in the ministry because of a forced termination. Also, I know many preacher’s kids, who are now adults, that no longer have anything to do with the church because of how their parents were treated. What part of: “Don’t touch my anointed” do you not understand. When you tear down God’s man, and inflict damage on God’s Bride, the church, there will be serious consequences. It’s time some folks started understanding this. Godspeed my friends.

 

JUNE 7

We concluded our Vacation Bible School Week yesterday morning. Our schedule is a little different from most churches. We actually begin on Sunday night from 5-8 and then continue Monday morning through Thursday 8:30-11:30. We find this helps us get better prepared and not overwhelmed for the week. Our Sunday night group is about half of what it is through the rest of the week. In addition to being better prepared, we also have more volunteers and observers each year because of the schedule. Oh, and by the way, our faculty loves getting finished on Thursday.

One of the aspects of VBS which is a happy/sad time for me is when I share the Gospel with the children each year. It’s such an encouragement to watch those kids step out on faith and make a commitment to Christ. However, what’s sad is seeing the same child do it two or three years in a row because they don’t have a parent who takes that decision seriously. We talk to each parent about their child’s decision and if they’re not a member of our church, we also send a letter to their pastor. Sometimes it’s like swimming upstream.

A common statement I hear from parents is: “I’m not sure they’re old enough to know everything.” I always respond: “Neither am I.” If you keep putting your child’s decision to follow Christ off, you’re communicating to them it’s not important. Don’t make that mistake. At least make an appointment to sit down and talk with your pastor. Better to cool off a volcano than try and heat up an iceberg. Godspeed my friends.

 

JUNE 6

You never know when something you do will make a huge difference in another person’s life. Even after all these years in the ministry, God has to remind me of this lesson from time to time. So often we a pastors/ministers wonder if anything we do makes a difference in another person’s life. The reason that thought enters into our mind is because we deal with so much negativity in our jobs. Just stop for a moment and think of all the negative things a pastor deals with on a daily basis. There’s sickness, death, crisis situations, disgruntled members, and counseling for broken people. At times it can become a little overwhelming.

Yesterday I got the spiritual boost and kick in the pants that I needed at the time. Following a memorial service, I had lunch with the surviving family. I was seated at the table with a few of the pallbearers. One of them looked at me and said: “Well, you’re two for two!” I had no clue what he was talking about. He went on to tell me that he had attended a funeral I had done a while back. He said that service had a profound effect on his life. Not just my message, but the messages from the family members as well. “That service got me back in church,” he said.

One of the most frustrating aspects of my job is I never get to see the end result of my work. However, God is gracious to remind me from time to time that what we do is important. It has eternal consequences in the lives of other people. I’m honored to have played a small part in pointing another towards the Light. Godspeed my friends.

 

JUNE 5

Last night around 9 o’clock I was scanning the channels following the Yankees game. I came across the ending of my favorite movie, “Field of Dreams.” No matter how many times I watch that show, my eyes tear up when Ray asks his father: “Hey Dad. You want to have a catch?” The sun is setting and and a father and son enjoy a simple game of catch. However, it’s not the catch that’s important, but rather the time they’re together. Those times can’t be recaptured once they’re missed.

I don’t recall my Dad having a game of catch with me, although I’m sure he did. He didn’t teach me how to hunt or fish. Those weren’t his passions. He did teach me the value of making a first impression. I remember when I was in college, I was home for the Christmas holidays. I was invited to a party given in honor of a high school classmate of mine. My Dad asked me what I was wearing. I told him: “Khakis and a shirt.” He quickly said that was unacceptable. He wanted to know if I had my dress clothes. From there he helped me pick out the proper shirt, tie, pants and coat. He told me: “Son, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.” A lesson which has served me well over the years.

However, the greatest gift he gave me is the love that I have for God. You see, he led by example. If he were here, we wouldn’t have a catch, but no doubt, the conversation would almost be unending. Godspeed my friends.

 

JUNE 4

Sometimes encouragement can come from the least likely sources. For most preachers, Monday’s are a struggle. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve resigned on Monday morning only to have to retract it on Monday afternoon. I’ve had people ask me: “Do you take the day off on Monday.” I always respond by saying: “No, I want to feel good on my day off.” So for the most part, Monday is a day we survive and advance.

Well, this week to compound the situation on Monday, we’re in Vacation Bible School. I love our schedule in that we start on Sunday night, then continue Monday morning through Thursday morning. Yesterday, after a long day which included a long night a Dudy Noble, I walked in for our opening assembly. I was chugging down my coffee to get myself ready for our worship rally when all of a sudden, I felt a little hand in mine. I looked down and it was one of our kids. He looked up at me and said: “I love you Brother Bill.” Talk about encouragement.

As adults we can learn a lot of valuable lessons from our children. Sometimes a kind word is all another person needs to hear. You could be that instrument which plays that sweet music. It does make a difference. It did for me. Godspeed my friends.

 

JUNE 3

Each year around this time we transform our church into a theme which centers around our annual Vacation Bible School. From space travel to sports. From Australia to the Wild West, we’ve done them all. You see, VBS isn’t what it once was. I never remember as a child our rooms and sanctuary being decorated like spaceship or an African jungle. All I know is this: “The cookies at snack time got worse as the week went by and our kickball games were always competitive.

One thing that hasn’t changed is the love and dedication of the VBS faculty. Each year we get some children who come from rather tough backgrounds. For many of them, this will be the most love and attention they’ll get all summer long. Our people on The Hill do a great job of loving these kids where they are. As I observe the kindness and patience our adults demonstrate on a daily basis, I’m reminded of the words of Jesus: “If you’ve done it to the least of these, you’ve done it unto me.” I’m so glad I pastor a church that really gets that premise. If you change a child, you can literally change the future and their eternity. What an awesome opportunity. Godspeed my friends.

 

JUNE 2

Last night I had the opportunity to sit with my brother at the baseball at Mississippi State. We’ve been to games before, but rarely, due to our ticket situation, do we get to be together. As a matter of fact, after our parents died, the brothers four rarely see each other. Each of us live in separate cities and we now have children and grandchildren of our own. But when we get together now, it’s usually good. We reminisce about our childhood and the good and bad times we had. Before you know it, it’s like we’ve never been apart.

The same is true with your church family. Maybe you’ve been out of fellowship for quite some time and you’re wondering how to get back. The first step is to listen to the proper voice. The voice that feeds negative thoughts in your mind isn’t coming from God, but rather the enemy. Just take a step in the right direction and you’ll be surprised at who God puts in your path. Before you know it, it’s like you never left. But it won’t happen if you don’t make the effort. Don’t you think it’s time to come home? Don’t delay and God will honor your effort. Godspeed my friends.

 

JUNE 1

God never calls you to do something and then fails to provide you with the resources needed to accomplish the task. Here’s where a lot of believers fail to understand the Christian walk. Let me give you an example. Many, many years ago, the church where I pastored was in the midst of calling a minister of music/senior adults. In other words, it was a dual role. In the course of a conversation with our potential candidate, he told me: “I know I can handle the music aspect of the job, but I’ve never worked with senior adults. I feel led to the church, but I’m concerned.” I simply told him: “God’s not going to call you to do something and then not strengthen you to do it.” He took the job and performed both aspects of his ministry with excellence.

Also remember, God’s not going to call you to do something that’s not compatible with the talents you already have. In other words, your spiritual gifts are similar to the talents you already possess. Now that doesn’t mean you won’t discover additional gifts along the way, but rest assured, He’s going to use the gifts you already have. If you can’t sing before total surrender to God, you’re not going to be able to sing after total surrender. There’s a strong chance that God’s not going to call you as a soloist or worship leader. However, when we freely give Him what we have, He’ll magnify it and He’ll be glorified. But the choice is up to you.

Stop shortchanging God with your gifts and abilities. Just think what He could accomplish in you and through you if you’d only let Him. The choice is yours. Godspeed my friends.

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