Saturday, October 31, 2015


If you ever watch golf on tv, you'll notice some guys who hold up "Quiet" signs.  They do this to let the crowd know when someone is about to swing their club and hit the ball.  And it works!  Everyone gets mighty quiet when the sign is held up.
Well, I got my hands on one of those signs yesterday.  Then I immediately had an idea and chuckled to myself.  So this is what I did...
I pulled into our driveway, got out of my truck, and walked into our home.  Lara was sitting there talking to the kids.  When she saw me and started talking my way, I simply held up the "Quiet" sign and said nothing back.  At first she looked confused and surprised.  Then she started laughing.  A big smile came across her face and we both got a kick out of it.
Whew!  I'm glad she got the joke.  It worked once.  But  I don't think I'll pull that sign out again at home.  It may not be a marriage helper to use that joke too much.  Ha!
The truth is, if I got home every day to a quiet home, it would get lonely.  I would miss hearing the chatter of my family.  And I would long to hear their voices.
I feel the same way about God.  One thing I don't want is for Him to be quiet.  If anything, I long to hear more of Him.  The voice of the Almighty is a beautiful sound.
Personally, I've never heard God speak in an audible voice.  Some folks say they've heard that.  That's never happened to me.  But I do hear God speak in other ways, and I'll bet you do to! 
God speaks to us through His Word, the Bible, which is a letter from Him to the world.
God speaks to us through His indwelling Holy Spirit by nudging us in certain directions.
God speaks to us through people we meet, when He leads them to say things we need to hear.
It's true.  God talks to us.  And what He has to say is always significant.
No, I don't want my family to be quiet.  It's good to hear them.  Even more so, I don't want God to be quiet.  It makes all the difference in the world when He communicates.
Almighty God - I value what You have to say.  Your words are always true, important, and life-changing.  I beg this of you: Please, do not get quiet.  Your voice is what I long to hear.  In Christ's name I pray, Amen.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

All Day Long

It's been big news lately.  McDonalds is now making breakfast available all day long.  And people are mighty happy about it.
You want an Egg McMuffin at lunch time?  Go for it! 
You long for a bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit late in the afternoon?  It's all yours!
You want a sausage biscuit for a late night snack?  Enjoy!
There's no doubt that plenty of Big Macs and fries will still be sold under the golden arches.  But plenty of people out there especially love breakfast items, and they are super excited about this.  It's a happy day for those folks.
Here's a cool thought:  Just as McDonalds makes breakfast available all day long, God makes Himself available to you and me around the clock!
He is here for us morning, afternoon, and evening.  Regardless of the time, God is present.  He never checks out or takes a break.  God and all of His life-changing blessings are here to stay.
You need His courage to begin your day?  It's there for the taking!
You require His strength for the afternoon responsibilities?  Have at it!
You want His peace to comfort you in the evening?  It's waiting on you!
You don't have to wait until tomorrow morning.  You don't have to hold off until you get to church on Sunday.  God is here for you this very moment.  And the moment after that. 
Good news, my friend!  You get to enjoy God all day long.  So go ahead and experience the blessing that has no end.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Fried Green Tomatoes & Pimento Cheese

I was in Greenville, South Carolina this past weekend when I saw it.  There before me was a plate of fried green tomatoes with pimento cheese spread on top.  Never before had I heard of putting those two food items together.  I've had pimento cheese plenty of times on sandwiches.  But never once had I tasted fried green tomatoes.

For some reason, I decided to try it.  I stepped outside of my comfort zone, and took a bite.  Surprisingly, I liked LOVED it.  I ended up eating two of them and enjoyed every bit of it.

Sometimes we surprise ourselves at the things we like.  It's a risk when we venture outside of the familiar, for sure.  But it can prove to be worth it!  The willingness to open ourselves up for something different can lead to awesome experiences. 

This is especially true with God.

"Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him."  This verse is found in Psalm 34:8.  It's a wonderful invitation to try God.  Just have a taste of Him.  And in so doing, we will be thrilled with what we discover.  He is good and proves to be a blessing to us.

God is loving, peaceful, strong, wise, pure, and perfect.  He is good in every way.  And when we encounter even just a little bit of Him -- a "taste", if you will -- we are way more than satisfied.

If you have not already done so, try God.  Don't turn your nose up at Him.  Place your faith in Him through His son Jesus, and see what a difference God makes in your life.

I'm glad I tried a couple of those fried green tomatoes and pimento cheese.  That was a fantastic experience.  But I'm much gladder that I've tried God.  Opening my heart up to His saving grace and awesome presence has led to the greatest blessings I've ever received anywhere.

No matter who you are, where you are, or what you're going through, just do this today.  Try God.  Just try a taste of Him.  You'll be glad you did.  I guarantee it.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Sunday Night Rewind - 10/25/15

*  Been a great Sunday here at New Calvary Baptist Church!
*  Our church family recognized me during the 11:00 am worship service and gave me a nice gift for "Pastor Appreciation Month".  That really meant a lot.
*  Really enjoyed being in Sunday School today and hearing a good lesson taught by Ms. Janice.  I enjoy the times I can be there, sit back, and hear someone teach.  It does me a lot of good.
*  Tonight was our church's Harvest Festival.  Plenty of kids dressed up in costumes for games, supper, Trunk of Treat, and (of course!) tons of candy.  The hayride looked mighty fun too.  Many thanks to our ladies and guys for their hard work.  They put on a great time for everyone!!
*  I preached on the prodigal son this morning out of Luke 15:11-32.  My two points were as follows:  [1]  There is emptiness in sin.  [2]  There is grace in the Father. 
*  I returned to my college alma mater yesterday in Greenville, South Carolina.  Took Katie, Lizzie, and Emerson with me.  Showed them around the campus and then enjoyed the Furman - Citadel game.  I graduated from Furman University in '93, so it was fun showing them around my old stomping grounds.
(Kids & me at Furman University.  10/24/15)
(Our view at Furman - Citadel Football Game)
(My Emerson & Furman Paladin mascot at the stadium)
*  Alvania, one of the ladies in our church, handed me a quote on a tiny sheet of paper this past week.  It's definitely the quote of the week for me.  Here you go:  "Courage is fear on its knees."  That's good stuff!!  When afraid, get on your knees, pray to the Lord, and let Him fill you with His courage.
*  The new Star Wars trailer :  FANTASTIC.  Haven't seen it yet?  Then just click here. 
*  My dad can wear a bow tie and look good doing it.  Mighty impressed with him.  He was styling at church today.
*  Clemson's football team looks mighty good to me.  It's shaping up to be a special year for those Tigers.
*  Glad to see our community quickly recovering from the flood.  Some people and their homes are still struggling though.  Let's still be mindful of them and willing to help.
That's all for tonight, folks.  Been a good weekend. 
I've got lots of new blog posts coming up this week.  Hope you enjoy them.
God bless you and yours!!

Friday, October 23, 2015


I was reading our newspaper, The Item, yesterday about a volleyball tournament having to be relocated from Sumter to Spartanburg, which is three hours away.  This is because of damages due to flooding in our area.  The article was about whether or not moving the tournament would affect the high school students who would be playing it.  Rip Riley, who is the coach for Wilson Hall, had this to say about it:  "We told the girls when you face adversity, it's 10% of what happens and 90% of how you handle it."

I've never met Rip Riley.

I don't know much about volleyball.

But, I do know those were great words of wisdom!

Stuff happens.  Tough times come our way.  It's part of life.  It can be really unpleasant.  And we often aren't in control of what hits us.  That's usually out of our hands.  But we absolutely can control how we respond to it.  We can choose to stay calm, make necessary adjustments, persevere, and work through it.  The possibility lies within us (thanks be to God!) to still succeed when our days get challenging.

"Don't be a victim of life."  That's what my dad taught me.  And he was right.  Don't roll over, play dead, and quit when the going gets tough.

Have you been knocked down?  Whisper a prayer.  Get back up on your feet.  Respond with courage, patience, and a determination to win anyway!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


I remember the snowstorm of 1973.  It's one part of my childhood I'll never forget.  Our state of South Carolina was covered in a thick, white blanket.   And pretty much everything outside was blocked out of view by the beauty of the snow.

That makes me think about Jesus.  When we ask Him to forgive our sins and save our souls, His righteousness covers us.  The beauty of everything about Him blocks out our sins and imperfections.  Then when God the Father looks at us, He sees the purity of Jesus all over us.

We sing a hymn in church called "Jesus Paid It All" and it speaks to this idea.  At one point of this sacred song, we profess, "sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow."  This imagery recalls while sin makes an ugly mark in our lives, Jesus washes it away powerfully with His forgiveness and cleans us up with His beautiful righteousness.

Would you like to be spiritually cleansed from the inside out?  Try Jesus.  He will rub out any inner ugliness He finds and then will coat it thoroughly with His own purity.  Your shame will be gone, your heart will be transformed, and your life will be blessed.

Be covered with the goodness of Jesus today.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Pulled For NOT Doing Something

I got pulled one year ago.

While driving down Broad Street here in Sumter, I noticed a cop pulled up behind my car.  He followed me for a while before he threw on his lights.  Needless to say, I felt sick to my stomach.  And I was confused because I couldn't think of anything that was wrong with my driving.  

The cop walked up to my car and said this:  "Sir, I don't think you realize this, but your headlights are not on.  You need to go ahead and flip them on now, please."  I replied, "Yes Sir, I sure will.  Sorry I didn't realize that."  He nodded, walked away, and did not give me a ticket.

Whew, what a relief that was!

But it got me thinking...

Sometimes in life our failures are not so much what we do, but what we DON'T do.  It's neglecting important matters that can prove harmful.  We call this "sins of omission".

At times we may choose to NOT
love our neighbor,
help the suffering,
feed the hungry,
shelter the homeless,
befriend the lonely,
warn the wayward,
count our blessings,
worship The Lord,
or spread the gospel.
And failing to do these is not good.

As we look back on our lives, it's possible to regret more than wrong things we did.  Way more!  It's also possible to regret the good things we did NOT do.  

It was Mark Twain who wrote the following:  "Twenty years from now you'll be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do.  So throw off the bowlines.  Sail away from the safe harbor.  Catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore.  Dream.  Discover."

Let's take care of business.  Loving God and loving people are what we need to be doing with our lives.  And when this happens, we will not neglect those things that matter most.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Temptation Of The Coins

I was tempted today.

The vehicle I was driving needed to be vacuumed.  I pulled into this place and stopped beside a big vacuum cleaner.  For $1, I could use it for several moments to do the cleaning that was needed.

When I walked up to the machine, I noticed a pile of coins.  Someone had left them there.  And these coins could have paid for me to vacuum my vehicle.
My mind began to wonder.  "You know, I could use these coins for the vacuum.  Then I wouldn't have to use my own money.  And besides, nobody else is out here to claim these coins."

Then some thoughts came to mind.
1.). Those coins do not belong to me.
2.). God and I will know I took them, even if nobody else finds out.

Finally, I considered this:  My true character is who I am and what I do when nobody else is looking.

Thanks be to God, I was able to leave those coins alone and use my own money.  It felt good to do the right thing.  I knew that's what I was supposed to do.

I'm glad I had that experience.  It reminded me to live right privately as well as publicly.  And it forced me to focus on what matters most in life.

We all face temptations in life.  Every single one of us.  May God help us all to obey Him when nobody else is looking.  And may He forgive us for when we fail Him along the way.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Disaster or Delight?

Around our city of Sumter we can see the leftover damage of last week 's flood.  Carpet, furniture, and other items that were thoroughly soaked with water are now sitting by the sides of streets so they can eventually be hauled away.  It's sad to ride through our community and see how many people are losing their possessions.

Seeing the yards has me thinking about more than just the lasting impact a flood can leave on a home.  Much more!  I'm also thinking about the lasting impact we can leave on the lives of people we encounter.    

We meet lots of people along the journey of life.  And we impact them one way or another.  Either we are a disaster or a delight.

Some people are left hurting by us.  They feel used, abused, and mistreated in general.  And they are left behind with painful memories and deep scars because of their time with us.

Other people are left feeling blessed by us.  They feel like their lives are better because of the time they spent in our presence.  And they are left behind with a mixture of happy memories with warm feelings because of their experience with us.

How do we leave people feeling in the aftermath of our time with them?  Would they say their experience in our presence was a disaster like a storm or a delight like a sunny day?  It's a question worth considering.

May God help each of us be a blessing to those we know and meet!  Let's make the lives of others better and brighter with our words and deeds.  When we do this, they will always remember us as being a delight for which they are truly thankful.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Yes, You Can! Think Positive!

You know what you need to do.  It's always on your mind.  But you're not doing it.  Fear and doubt are causing you to hesitate.  Frozen in your tracks, you haven't sprung into action yet.

What's really holding you back ... is you.  You think you're not good enough or ready.  And you have convinced yourself this will be too complicated and too difficult for you to handle.

It's time to change the way you think.

It's time for you to think positive.

The way you think will affect the way you live.  It's just that simple.  The quality of your thoughts determines the course of your actions.

It was Zig Zigler who once said, "Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will."  And this statement is still true today.  Think "I can" instead of "I can't".  Think "I will persevere and win" instead of "I will quit and walk away from this challenge."  

Remember these words of the Apostle Paul:  "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13).  His confidence was grounded in His Lord.  He knew Jesus Christ would empower Him for His tasks in life.

"Whether you think you can or you can't -- your right."  Those are the words of Henry Ford.  And they're true.

Develop a "can do" mindset.  Be positive.  And then aim high.  Shoot for greatness.  With God's presence and power in your life, you will be amazed at how much you really can do.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Our 2015 Carolina Flood Experience

(Sumter, SC.  10/4/15.  Em & me in our flooded neighborhood)

The rains came down and the floods went up.  It's been quite a crazy few days here in South Carolina.  And I think most of us will never forget it.
Parts of our neighborhood were flooded.  It was kind of scary to look at.  Fortunately, for my family and me, our home was not affected.  Our end of the street is a little higher than other spots of our community.  So Lara, the kids, and I are fine.  And our home is ok.  We have electricity, water, and plenty of groceries. 
Others in our area, are not so fine.  Bridges and roads have been destroyed.  Many businesses have shut down.  And schools will be closed for days.
My heart hurts for our town.  Plenty of folks are hurting.  This will impact their lives for quite some time.
Here are two things running through my mind...
1)  Be mindful of others.  We may be doing ok, but others are going through tough times.  Life is about more than me, myself, and I.  It's also about my neighbor.  After we thank God for the blessings we enjoy, let's help others with the burdens they have.  The lives of other people must matter to you and me.
2)  Focus on what matters.  I can't think of anything more important than God, family, friends, and ministering to others.  There are plenty of other things we can enjoy and be a part of in this life.  But when it comes down to it, only a few things really matter.  Let's avoid majoring on the minors during our years on this Earth. 
Thanks for praying for our town and state.  I know a lot of you care deeply.  That means a lot.
Things will get better.
We will overcome this. 
We are South Carolina Strong, and with God's help, we will bounce back!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Burying The Past

Penn State players were hurting a few weeks ago.  They lost a football game to Temple and were deeply bothered by it.  So they did something to put it behind them:  They buried the film of the game in the ground at their practice facility.  One member of the football program said, "We just wanted the guys to know that we're not going to dwell on the past."

I like that!

Sometimes we fail in life.  We make foolish choices and do dumb things.  I have, and so have you.

When this happens, we have a choice:  We can dwell on our failure and beat ourselves up over it.  Or we can learn our lesson, make necessary amends, and then move on with life.

I like what Paul wrote in Philippians 3:13 - "But one thing I do:  Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead."  What a good way to live!  The past needs to be buried and put out of our minds.  Today is a new opportunity to live better and be more of what God has called us to be.

Do you have a hurtful past?  Confess it to God and repent of it.  Receive His life-changing forgiveness, which will free you from the shackles of shame and guilt.  And then move forward with your life in His strength.

Many thanks to Penn State for reminding us all of a vital truth:  Sometimes we need a burial of our past.  There's just nothing good that comes out of dwelling on the failures of yesterday.

Friday, October 2, 2015

The Honduran Soldiers, Guns, And Me

Scared out of my mind.  That's what I was.  And I thought I was maybe about to die.  Seriously.

I was riding in a truck through these back, dirt roads of Honduras.  All of a sudden, two young soldiers stepped out from the woods and into the road.  Our driver slowed down and they jumped into the back of the truck.  I was about three feet from them.  They were young guys, but their guns were intimidating.  I thought to myself, "Well, this is it.  I'm about to get shot."  

After a few miles, our driver stopped.  Then he got out and spoke with the soldiers in Spanish.  They eventually smiled and laughed.  I think they all could sense my fear, and the driver explained they meant me no harm at all.  They just needed a lift for a few miles to their post.

I was so relieved.  Through my translator, I asked them if I could get a picture taken with them.  They agreed.  To be honest, I still was nervous when the camera went "click", but I was glad to know I was not about to die.

At first, I thought something negative would happen between them and me.  But I was mistaken.  They meant no ill will towards me in the least.

Some people have the same kind of suspicion about God.  They think something negative will happen between Him and them.  But nothing could be farther from the truth.

God is loving, forgiving, kind, and peaceful.  When we encounter Him, He wants to save us with His grace and bless us with His goodness.  Because of this, we can approach Him knowing He means well and we will be just fine with Him.

I was glad to know those soldiers were ok with me.  What a relief!  But I'm even more thrilled to know that God Almighty is ok with us!  He is wildly in love with us and wants to make our lives nothing but better.  He wants only the best things in life for you and me.  How great it is to know that!