Tuesday, June 21, 2016


We went to EdVenture a few days ago in Columbia.  It's a neat, interactive place of learning for kids.  Everyone in our group had a fun time.

While there, two of my daughters got their picture taken in front of Eddie.  He's really quite impressive at 40 feet in height and 35,000 pounds in weight.  His heart alone weighs over 500 pounds.  Each of his shoes are 12.5 feet in length.  His shoulders are 22 feet in width.  And his smile measures in at 3.5 feet across.

That's pretty big!  And it's a definite attention grabber.  Everyone marvels at Eddie when visiting EdVenture.

Here's something even more impressive:  God is big.  REALLY BIG!  Check this out....

In Isaiah 66:1, He tells us "Heaven is my throne, the earth is my footstool."  God is so big, He could prop His heels up on our planet if He so desired.  Incredible!

In Isaiah 40:12, we learn that He can hold all the waters of our planet "in the measures of His hand", and He can hold "the dust of the earth in a basket."  Amazing!

In Isaiah 40:22, we are taught that when God looks at Earth, "it's people are like grasshoppers."  Compared to Him, we humans are like tiny bugs.  Remarkable!

Friends, God is gigantic.  As a matter of fact, it's impossible for us to measure Him.  That's why He asked Job this rhetorical question:  "Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?"  The obvious answer is "No way!"  No man can fathom how HUGE God is.

This is just one of many reasons why God is worthy of praise and worship.  He stands above everyone and everything else in multiple ways.  He is not threatened by anyone or anything.  Simply put, He is mighty!

Find comfort today in this truth:  God is BIG!  Big enough to handle whatever happens.  And big enough to take care of you and me. 

What a great God we have!!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Father's Day 2016

It's been a great Father's Day!  I've enjoyed every bit of it.  The kids showed me a lot of love today.  And they really made it a special time together.  We went to church, ate a delicious Mexican meal, and hung out around the house.  I love Sunday's like that.

As I sit here tonight, I realize it's a privilege to be a dad.  In addition to that, it's a sacred responsibility.  It's my job to protect them, provide for them, and to guide them.  Of course the most important thing I am to do is point them to God, who has all the answers and a life changing dose of amazing grace for all four of them.

I've also reflected today on this reality:  The greatest Father of all is God.  He is the ultimate Protector and Provider.  He is the wisest Father that ever has or ever will exist.  And He has a LOT of love for all of His children.  When it comes to fatherhood, He reigns supreme as the best.

So that's what I'm thinking tonight.  God is good, and I'm glad to be one of His children.

Katie, Elizabeth, Rachel, and Emerson, I love all four of you.  It's a joy to be the one you call "Dad".  May God bless each of you, and may God give us many more happy years together.

Friday, June 17, 2016

The Confederate Flag

I've been thinking the last couple of days about the Confederate flag.

Because I was raised here in South Carolina, I'm used to seeing it.  And that should not be surprising.  It's part of our history.  My parents never displayed one at our home when I was a kid.  And I don't display one now at my home.  But when I see it, I am reminded of the fight that broke out between the states in the 1860's.  On an emotional level, it does not affect me too much either way.  It does not offend me or excite me.  While I do understand it's history and significance, I don't get too worked up about it.

Other people, however, see that flag and are offended by it.  They have a strong reaction against it.  For them, it represents a time in our country when slavery was legal.  And the other problem for them is that some groups, who are known for being hateful and bigoted, proudly wave it as their symbol.

So that's the deal.  Some people are offended by the Confederate flag.  Others are not.  What should we do about it?

Well, I think about the Apostle Paul.  In the New Testament times, there was a controversy.  Some people thought eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols was acceptable and no big deal.  Others were greatly offended by that idea and would not participate in such a thing.  Paul, who greatly cared about reaching people for Jesus, decided to take this stand:  If eating this meat caused problems for other people and offended them, he just would not eat meat.  To him, connecting with other people mattered more than a plate of meat.  (You can read this for yourself in 1 Corinthians 8 by clicking HERE.)

That's how I feel about the Confederate flag.  It does not offend or hurt me personally.  To me, it's just one of the many flags from our nation's history.  But, it really does cause problems for other people and offend them.  It hurts them.  That's just the way it is.  So because of the pain it causes others, I do not wave a Confederate flag at my home, on my car, or anywhere else.

I care more about my relationships with people than I care about that flag.
I care more about seeing people get saved by Jesus than I care about that flag.

I do think the flag should be preserved in a museum.  It is important.  It does matter.  History should not be erased and removed.  Our heritage should not be forgotten.  But we also need to remember the importance of caring about people and connecting with them on a spiritual level.  That matters greatly.

So if you have a Confederate flag or choose to wave it, that's your business.  That's between you and God.  I'm not your judge, and I'll still be your friend. 

But I'll just stick with my conviction to not wave it.  I don't want to offend people unnecessarily.  And I just don't want anything (a flag included) to destroy an opportunity I may have to share Jesus with a lost soul.

At the end of the day, the cross of Christ matters way more than a flag of the Confederacy.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

High For All To See

I walked out of our church's sanctuary and into our parking lot the other day when I glanced up at our steeple.  For some reason, I noticed it more than I have before.  There was the cross of Christ lifted high for all to see.  As I stood there, I thought "That's exactly what this church should be lifting up."
We live in a dark, hurting, lost world.  People are struggling everywhere we look.  And they need hope.
Christian churches have the answer that the world needs.  Here it is in one wordJESUS.  He is the Son of God, the Friend to sinners, and the Hope for the hurting.  And His cross is a really big deal:  It's at the cross where we find forgiveness, love, and salvation.
The Apostle Paul wrote these words in 1 Corinthians 2:2 - "I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified."  Paul wanted to know Jesus and make Him known to others.  What a perfect way to minister!
Churches, we can say and do a lot of things in our communities.  At any time, we can play softball, host covered dish suppers, start up book clubs, and take trips to amusement parks.  And there's nothing wrong with those things.  But the most important thing we can do is lift up high the name of Jesus for all to see.  Let's proclaim Him, worship Him, lock our hearts on Him, and fulfill the commission given to us by Him.  Nothing matters more than Jesus.  Nothing.
This world needs Jesus.  Desperately.  Let's make sure we help them find Him.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Lizzie's Big Adventure

I'd like to tell you about my Lizzie and her big adventure.  One reason for this is that I think it'll interest those of you who know her.  Another reason is I think it may inspire you even if you've never met her.
Here goes...
Lizzie was blessed with the opportunity to attend Girls State here in South Carolina this past week at Presbyterian College.  That's a pretty big deal.  It was an honor for her to be a part of it. 
On Sunday of last week, Lara and the girls drove her to the college and checked her in.  Lizzie found her dorm room and quickly came back down stairs to hug them and tell them "Goodbye' before they left.
She got a picture with her sisters...
And she got a picture with her mom...
Then Lara and the other two girls made the trip back home, while leaving Lizzie behind for her big week.
The next day, which was Monday, I got a text from Lizzie.  She was homesick.  It was tough on her to be away from here.  While it was an honor for her to attend Girls State, my girl was struggling a little bit.  And she was saying that she'd like to leave and come on back to Sumter. 
Now, I'm a normal parent.  I don't like to see my kids sad or hurting.  But something Someone would not let me allow her to quit.  I just couldn't do it.  So here is part of what I texted her in response.
My point was pretty simple:  People made sacrifices to get her there.  And she needed to strongly fight through it.  I reminded her that life can be difficult at times, so she needed to learn how to work through adversity rather than run from it.  Of course I assured her that I loved her, and I knew she could do it. 
A few minutes later, she texted me back and said, "Yes sir.  Love you."  That was all she had to say.  But I knew from that moment on, she would give her best effort to work through it.
Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday were busy days for her.  Lizzie hung in there, made friends, and grew more comfortable with her new surroundings and schedule.  She didn't sleep much, but she did have a lot of fun.  As time went on, she adapted.
Then, on Friday, all of the students from Girls State and Boys State converged on Columbia, SC, our capital city.  Totaling over 1,200 people, these young ladies and gentlemen marched in a big parade, led by a band.  They made their way to the capital grounds and filled up the steps, which was quite an impressive sight.  We knew that we would not get to speak with Lizzie, but we went just to see her in action. 
Lara, Rachel, Emerson, and I were all excited to get a quick glimpse of Lizzie.  Here is a picture of us waiting on all the fun to begin, while Emerson was striking a cool pose...
Then, as the parade made it's way towards us at the capital, we saw our girl.  She was smiling, waving, and having fun with her friends.  And while we didn't get to speak with her, I did hold out my hand and get a "high five" with my daughter.  Here is Lizzie marching in the parade...
The girls and guys filled up the steps of the capital and began singing and chanting.  It was really quite a sight.  We enjoyed watching this.  Here are all of the students from Girls State and Boys State on the capital steps in Columbia...
There were speeches and recognitions.  Proud parents were everywhere snapping pictures of their kids.  It was really a cool moment.   
Lizzie got us all laughing when she scored somewhat of a "selfie" with Governor Nikki Hayley, who made an appearance, and texted it to us...

Then, when it was over, tons of busses got the girls back to their campus, and the guys back to their campus.  Lizzie was gone.  But we were glad that we at least got to catch a glimpse of her.
Yesterday, which was Saturday, my Katie and I picked her up.  Girls State came to an end.  It was time for her to go.  And we were glad to get her back.  We got Lizzie and all her stuff in the car, and made the two hour drive back home.  Katie took a picture of all three of us while I was driving us home yesterday...
It felt good to get Lizzie back to our town and here under our roof.  I could tell she was tired.  But I could also tell she felt good about what she had done.  I think my girl was pretty proud!  She smiled as she told us lots of stories about her exciting week.  It ended up being a very positive experience that broadened her horizons and blessed her life.  Girls State was definitely a good thing for my daughter. 
As I reflect on all this, I realize that sometimes we parents need to push our kids out of the nest, and encourage them to spread their wings.  I knew that to go up there, pack her up, and bring her home early would have been a mistake.  She needed to rise up to the challenge without me rescuing her.
When it comes to raising kids, may God give us dads and moms the wisdom to know when to step in and when to back off.  There are some challenges they need to face and some lessons they need to learn on their own, without us interfering.  So let's seek wisdom from above to know how to handle the struggles our daughters and sons face in life.
And here's another lesson I've been reminded of this past week with Lizzie's big adventure:  Let's work through challenges rather than run from them.  When times get tough, we grow and develop mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  Adversity can enable us to mature in good ways.  With a little encouragement, Lizzie hung in there and got through it.  And with a little help from above, we all can do the same with whatever may come our way.  It was worth it for Lizzie to hang in there.  And it'll always be worth it for us.
Way to go, Lizzie!  I'm proud of my girl.  And thanks for inspiring all of us to hang in there and work through the little (and big) challenges that may come our way.
P.S.  If you are not familiar with what Girls State is, you can visit their website, read their information, and view their pictures by clicking HERE.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Southern Baptist Reality

I read today some news about the South Baptist Convention.

For the 9th year in a row, our membership is in decline.

We lost more than 200,000 members in 2015.  [Now down to 15.3 million.]

We saw our weekly attendance decrease by 97,000 people from 2014 to 2015.  [Now have 5.6 million people involved with Southern Baptist churches on a weekly basis.]

We saw our baptisms fall by more than 10,000 people from 2014 to 2015.

Frank Page, one of our Southern Baptist leaders, had this to say about it:  "God help us!  In a world that is desperate for the message of Christ, we continue to be less diligent in sharing the Good News."

I've been a Southern Baptist since 1987.  And I'm glad to be a part of it.  Here are a few thoughts I have on this situation...

[1]  I'm noticing that loyalty to a denominations mean very little to people these days.  Just because they were raised a Baptist, Methodist, or Presbyterian, don't assume they will always remain a Baptist, Methodist, or Presbyterian.  It seems to me that people today want to go to that church where things are clicking and running smoothly.  Gone are the days of denominational loyalty.  Of course, I'm not saying that's a bad thing.  Not at all.  That's just what it is.

[2]  We've got a lot of work to do!  I hope all of us churches will get more passionate about reaching lost people with the Gospel and helping them mature spiritually.  That matters so much more than preserving outdated programs, remaining fixated on the past, and majoring on the minors.

[3]  We spend a lot of time telling the world what we're AGAINST.  Perhaps we should put more emphasis on what we're FOR. 

[4]  Let's make each church a "place of grace" where sinners, rebels, and hurting souls can come and be ministered to in a loving environment.  Let's be about the business of restoration rather than condemnation. 

[5]  Go back and read number [2] again. 

I'll let the experts give extensive commentary on what all this means for us Southern Baptists.  But I can say this:  We have a message of God's grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love.  And this world really needs to hear it.  Let's do whatever we have to do in getting that message out there for men, women, boys, and girls.  That's what Jesus wants us to do.  And that's what this world really needs from us. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

True Religion

I was listening to my friend Greg lead a Bible study here at New Calvary Baptist Church.  One of the scriptures he had us look at was James 1:27.  This is what we saw there:  

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this:  
to look after orphans and widows in their distress 
and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

Then Greg went on to another passage of scripture.  But I stayed there and focused on the James passage.  I looked closely at it, and this popped up in my mind while reflecting on it:  God wants us to be people who are compassionate and clean.

Let's consider this for a moment...

[1]  God wants us to be compassionate:
We are to "look after orphans and widows in their distress."  That's two groups of people who need attention, care, and help.  And the truth is, there are additional people out there who desperately need us to get involved with their lives and minister to them.  

Let's help people who can not help themselves.  We can feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, befriend the lonely, encourage the defeated, comfort the dying, and evangelize the lost.  As opportunities present themselves to us, let's care about hurting people and be a blessing to them.

[2]  God wants us to be clean:
We are to keep ourselves "from being polluted by the world."  There is more than enough immorality in this world.  You and I do not have to look far to see the filth that is all around us.

God calls us to keep ourselves morally clean in a world that is polluted by evil and darkness.  Yes, we are to live in this world and make a difference in it.  But we as Christians are not to become like the world and join in it's immorality.  If we are followers of Jesus, we are to be more like Him and less like the world.

What kind of religion does God consider "pure and faultless"?  Religion that is compassionate towards the hurting and clean in the midst of immorality.  That, in a nutshell, is what God wants.  And with His help from above, we all can grow in both of these areas.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Why That Home Mattered

We moved out of our home a few days ago.  It was part of a duplex, so that meant it was sort of like a little apartment.  And while it was a small place, I'm thankful for our time there.  I'll always have good memories of that place.
See, when our family left Florida and came to Sumter in 2014, we were not sure yet where we would live.  Because we needed a place to stay temporarily, part of our family lived with my parents, and the other part lived with Lara's dad and his wife.  We were not all under the same roof for about four months.  Sure, we saw each other every day.  But it felt strange to not have the six of us in one place at night.
Then, this duplex became available.  A friend of mine rented it to me.  This is why that home mattered:  It brought us all together under one roof.  This home meant we could all share a common place.  That was important, and we were glad to have it.
For almost two years we lived there.  Then, another place with more space became available.  That's why we moved a few days ago.  And while it was time to move, I will admit to you part of me was a little sentimental about leaving that place.
We worked hard on emptying that home and moving out last week.  Then we cleaned it up and made sure we left it looking good.  Two days ago, I did the final walk-through in that empty duplex by myself.  It felt strange to see it without all of our furniture and possessions.  And it looked larger.  I quietly thanked God for our two years in that home and shared with Him how much it meant to me.
As I reflect on why that home mattered, I can't help but think about Heaven.  See, the Lord is preparing a place now for His people.  And one day, He will gather all of His children together in that one place.  We all will be brought together under His roof, and we will be a family like never before.  In His home, all of us will be unified.  Jesus is who makes it possible for you and me to get there.  And what a wonderful place it will be.  (To read some scripture about this, just click HERE.)
Home.  It's a special place because it brings loved ones together.  It matters here on Earth.  And it'll matter even more up there in Heaven.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Graduate

It's after midnight now, but a few hours ago our family was having a great time together at Patriot Hall here in Sumter.  Dad and Mom also come out to join us for all the fun.  Our Emerson graduated from elementary school.  And what a night it was!
He was recognized for the following:
The Wells Fargo Academics, Citizenship, and Attendance Award
The Academic Excellence Award for "A-B Honor Roll All Year"
The Outstanding Music Student Award 
The President's Award For Educational Excellence
The Certificate of Achievement for Completion of Elementary School
I'm proud of all four of the kids.  They're all smart and talented young people.  Tonight was just Emerson's night to shine.  And I'm really happy for him.
Way to go, little buddy!
P.S.  His reward was a trip to Baskin-Robbins for two scoops of cookies and cream ice cream.  He seemed pretty happy about that!