Thursday, July 31, 2014

Sunday Mind Dump (Thursday Edition)


Last Sunday was a great day for me.

After leading PCC for 16 ½ years I still have a blast on Sundays.  I love seeing everyone – faithful members, newcomers, and friends.

What a privilege it is to teach God’s Word to so many people each week.

Our church is really experiencing momentum right now. 

Have you seen all the new people coming in?  Not only that, attendance among our regular church family has been stronger this summer than any previous summer I can remember.

Have you ever noticed how many people cram their way to the front rows?  I love seeing that!

It has to be a “God thing” because we’re not doing anything differently than we’ve always done – we’re still preaching, teaching, worshipping, lifting up Jesus, exalting God, and fellowshipping with one another.

I think we’re simply in a season of God’s blessings.  It’s great to see such an outpouring of His Spirit in so many different ways.

Then there are the stories – stories of life-change.  Hundreds of them.

Financial giving is very strong too – about as strong as it has been since the economy turned down a several years ago.

And all of this is happening in spite of a few critics.  They gravitate towards the negative and point out minutia, but they fail to see to all the good things God is doing around here.

Hey man, you know it’s a God thing when giving is up, when attendance is up, when morale is up, when unity is up, when joy is up, and when we have more newcomers than ever before! 

We have hundreds of happy people at PCC.  What a delight they are for me. They always see the positive, anticipating what God is going to do next.

I feel sorry for the grumpies.  They miss out on so much.

The singers on the worship team have such good talent.  They are a pleasure to listen to and make it easy for me to be “drawn in” to worship.

The new message series on Abraham has been a big hit so far.  The CDs are flying off the shelf each week.  BTW, we give them away for free.

I love being an expositor of God’s Word - going verse-by-verse most of the time.  Our congregation seems to enjoy it too. 

One thing I’m certain of, it’s healthy for our church family.

Many preachers skip all around the Bible, pulling a verse here and a verse there, tailoring the sermon to say what they want it to say rather than allowing the text (in its context) to speak for itself.

And they offer sermons that sound like Reader’s Digests titles; i.e., How to Have Better Relationships; How to Overcome Fear; How to Have a Better Marriage; How to Overcome Worry; and other such emotional issues.

My goal, however, is to make better Christians and better disciples… because that is the tone of the Bible.  It’s all about making us better servants of Jesus Christ. 

Besides, when we become better disciples, all those other areas have a way of improving automatically.

”Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.”

Faithful preaching and teaching of the Word must be the very heart of any church’s ministry.  Any other approach replaces the voice of God with human wisdom.  Philosophy, politics, psychology, homespun advice, and human opinion can never accomplish what the Word of God does.  Those things may be interesting, informative, and entertaining, but they are not the business of the church.

The business of the church is to preach the Word and make disciples.

Never underestimate the worth of a great church and the value of spiritual nourishment.

PCC is a great place to belong to.

"I was glad when they said to me, 'Let us go to the house of the Lord.'"



Saturday, July 26, 2014

Saturday on the Water


I woke up this morning needing salt air therapy.  This is how my day began.


After a few hours on the water with a couple of buddies, this was our catch.


Later in the afternoon and early evening, me and Renae took a trip to Ft Pickens and set up a beach camp.  We had a nice family picnic with Jonathan, Jamie, and the grand-kids.


Here's Nolan, (my grandson), completely tuckered out and ready to head home so he can go to bed.


Fun day.  Glad I live here.

Friday, July 25, 2014

This Sunday


Now that the series introduction has been taught, we are off and running with the full content of Abraham’s dramatic life story.  This Sunday’s message title is:  “When the Faithful Fail.”

From the text we will be reminded that the good and godly are weak and imperfect.

  • The powerful still have feet of clay
  • The faithful can fail
  • Spiritual giants can fall
  • And our role models can crack and crumble
More importantly, we will learn that God’s grace and faithfulness continues in our lives even when we make bad decisions.  That is the silver lining in Abraham’s failure… and in our own.

If you know anyone who would benefit from solid Biblical exposition, who would like to learn Bible content that never sugarcoats the truth, and a word of encouragement about God’s marvelous grace and goodness, then bring them to church with you.

It’s going to be a great day.

A Word on Prayer


Keep them short.  Almost all prayers in the Bible were brief.  Conversely, hypocrites think they will be heard for their much speaking. See what Jesus had to say about such babbling in (Matthew 6:7).

Don’t yell, scream, whoop, howl, or holler.  Pagans think they will be heard for their loud prayers.  The Baal-worshippers on Mount Carmel are the poster children for this foolishness.  (See I Kings 18:26)

Don’t pontificate.  The overly religious think they will be heard for their pious words.  They just pile scriptural phrases on top of scriptural phrases and use weird words outside of their normal vocabulary.  God is not impressed with that sort of thing.  See what (Ecclesiastes 5:2-3) has to say about this affliction.

In Scripture, the length of one’s prayer seems to be irrelevant.  Measuring our prayers (by time, the volume of one’s voice, pious words, the length, etc) is an exercise in futility and ranks as the ultimate in silliness.

When the sweetheart goes into her house at night, she does not gauge the depth of her boyfriends love by the length of his monologue.

Just talk to God.  Just talk.

Be Authentic.  Transparent.

Be real.  Not pious.

The thief on the cross uttered a nine word prayer, “Lord, remember me when You come to Your Kingdom.”  Jesus accepted this prayer and told him, “Today you’ll be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:42-43).  One thing I love about this prayer is that it confirms a short, fervent prayer can change one's entire destiny even at life’s last minute!

 As a new believer I would often pray softly throughout the day.  And, with a new believer’s imperfect understanding, I refused to speak a final ‘amen’ because I that felt like I was ending the prayer and closing the door of communication with God, and I wanted Him to be with me all day long and to be able to pray to Him at any time.

After thirty three years of walking with Him, I still feel the same way.



Friday, July 18, 2014

This Sunday



THIS SUNDAY we begin a new series of expository messages based on the life of Abraham.  The series title is:   Abraham - The Friend of God.   

If I could choose one word that best describes what we will experience from the series opener this Sunday (entitled “Called Out of Darkness”), it would be the word ENCOURAGEMENT.  

I can hardly wait for Sunday to get here!

Friday, July 11, 2014

A Local Cast Netter


That's a 14' net this guy is throwing. I met him a few weeks ago and he catches more fish than anyone I've ever seen.

I went fishing this morning before work, about daylight, and had a couple of hours on the water. Although I didn't catch any fish myself, another fellow made one throw and caught 32 x-large mullet. It was amazing.



Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Southern Field Peas


These are heirloom field peas.  Specifically, they are:  knuckle purple hull brown crowders.  The shell is purple when ripe having a knuckle (bumpy) appearance, while the pea on the inside is a brown crowder (very crowded).

They have a stronger flavor than other peas and make a dark pot liquor (or potlikker). 

They've been in my family (on my mothers side) for decades. This is my fourth year of growing them myself (after having been given a handful of seed from my uncle).

Of all that I have experimented with, these are my favorite. I always save the largest space in my garden for this variety. 

After work today I picked this row, brought them home and shelled them.  I will be cooking them tomorrow night.  Can't wait.


The Pecking Order and Protecting the Weak


On the farm you’ll notice something about chickens.  Some poor hen ranks at the bottom of the pecking order and could literally be pecked to death by all the others.  Unless someone steps in and protects her, her life remains miserable and grows worse by the day.

Humans do the same cruel thing.

Let me tell you a story.

Bill was a big awkward, homely guy.  He dressed oddly, and drew the attention of a few fellows in the shop where he worked, guys who enjoyed making fun of him.

One day someone noticed a small tear in Bill’s shirt and reached over to rip it a little more.

It became a joke that morning. Anytime anyone passed Bill, they tore the shirt just a little more.

Bill was hovering over a machine, working on it, when the ripped part of his shirt got caught in the wheels.  Inside of two seconds, he was in real trouble. Alarms sounded and someone shut off the machine just in time and trouble was averted.

The foreman had seen all this.  He walked over, pulled the switch on the power for that section and called the men around.

He said, “I’ve been watching you fellows, and it’s time for us to have a talk.”

“Guys, when I was young I worked in a small factory.  We had a big galoot there named Mike.  Now, Mike was happy and strong, witty and loud, and he enjoyed playing his little jokes.  We also had a fellow on the crew named Jake. Now, Jake was older than the rest of us. He was quiet as a mouse, stayed by himself, and minded his own business.”

“Jake being a loner, he always ate his lunch by himself and never joined in the card games or horseshoes during the lunch hour.  Now, for reasons known only to him, big Mike loved to pick on Jake.  Sometimes he’d put a frog in his lunch pail or a dead rat in his hat. And, Jake took it all in good humor.”


“Then one day when the work was slow, big Mike announced he was taking off a few days to go hunting. If he did good, he’d share the meat with the rest of us. Sure enough, the next Monday he was back and had shot a big buck.”
“At lunchtime he was going to give each of us a package of meat. And, Mike told the rest of us, He was going to play a little trick on old Jake.  He had taken the deer’s hooves and ears and tail and packaged to give to him.  It would be a big joke.”

“When Mike gave each man his package, he unwrapped it and thanked Mike.  Finally, Mike pushed the big package to Jake, sitting by himself down at the end of the table.  And Jake did something that surprised everyone.”


“He stood up and gave a speech.”


“This from a man who hadn’t said a hundred words in three years.”


“I knew you wouldn’t forget me, Mike.”


“You’re big and you’re playful, but I knew all along you had a good heart.”


“I know I haven’t been too chummy.  But I never meant to be rude.”


“You see, I’ve got nine kids at home, and my wife is an invalid.  She’s been in the bed the last four years.  She’s not ever going to get well, and it takes most of what I make for doctors and medicine. And sometimes there’s not enough to make ends meet.”


“Maybe you see I go off by myself to eat. I guess I’m a little ashamed for you to see I don’t have any thing between my sandwich. Today, there’s just a raw turnip in my pail.”


“But this really means a lot to me because tonight my kids will really have a….”


He wiped the tears and tugged at the string to open the package.


Big Mike jumped for that package but Jake already had it open.  One by one he pulled out the hooves and the ears and the tail.


No one laughed. No one moved.


Jake mouthed “thank you” to Mike and tried to smile.


One by one every man in the room got up and put his package of meat on the table in front of Jake.


And no one ever played a prank in that factory again.”


When the foreman finished, all the crew silently got up and walked away, some of them laying a hand on big Bill with the torn shirt as they passed by.


Do you know that fellow in your office or plant who seems a little strange?  You never know what burden they may be bearing.


Do you know that strange family you see at church from time to time?  As every family has its secrets, they have theirs and you and I are not privy to it. But one thing we know for certain:  They can always use a real friend.


The following verses are all from the same place in the Old Testament, Leviticus 19….
  • “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field, neither shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest…. You shall leave them for the needy and the stranger. I am the Lord your God.” (v. 9-10).
  • “You shall not curse a deaf man nor place a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall revere your God; I am the Lord.” (v. 14)
  • “When a stranger resides with you in your midst, you shall do him no wrong. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you; and you shall love him as yourself; for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.  I am the Lord your God” (v.32-33).

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Peppers


I picked these beauties at 6:00 a.m. this morning.