Sorry for the lack of blogs lately. I have been dealing with the aftermath of the church fire, extra people in my house, and a barrage of other stuff that has had me a bit distracted. Through it all, God has been in touch with me, mainly through Twitter and Facebook, but sometimes right in my face. I thought that I could share a few things that He showed me.
He is in the stuff that I find irritating. I know that this may sound as if I am saying that God is irritating, and I am not. I do get rather flustered with Him from time to time because He refuses to let me be in charge or He lets me and everything gets all messed up. But, God is in the stuff that has been irritating me in some really cool ways.
I love my grandkids and I love the kids in my church. But kids irritate me. Unlike my wife who is a kid addict, I can only tolerate kids in small amounts and in short bursts. So with the fire at our church rendering our children’s area unusable, the kids have been coming into the adult worship area while I am preaching. The result; several of them have accepted Jesus as their Savior and I got to baptize 5 of them in the last two weeks. Many of them have come up to me and told me with all the excitement of a little child about how cool it was and thanked me for it. WOW! God is all in that irritation.
Lately I have been trying to do more with my grandkids, especially my oldest grandson who is 7. He lives with his dad and mom and a bunch of girls, and girls are trouble, we all know that. His dad works rotating shifts and does not get to take part in things like scouts and a lot of weekend stuff, so I am trying to fill in. In the past few months I have been to three camping events with him and slept in a tent and gone without a shower and fed him more junk food than he should have ever been allowed to eat.
I also took him to a Gamecock football game this weekend. There is about an hour drive to the stadium from my house and to help keep him entertained, I took the wife’s tablet so he could play games. I find it hard to have meaningful conversation with a 7-year-old for more than a couple of minutes, much less for an hour. Guess what? The tablet was not charged. So for an hour, we talked. Did you know that a 7-year-old can talk continuously for 15 minutes without stopping or even breathing? And I learned that I could throw a Chees-it and hit him in the mouth while I was driving but can’t catch one when he throws it. I also learned that if you slowed down beside the semi truck while he pumped his fist, that after several miles, even the toughest truck driver will eventually blow his horn.
I love to watch the Gamecocks play. Having a 7-year-old with you limits that ability. But when it is really cold and the wind is blowing hard and you told the kid to leave his jacket in the truck because you were not taking yours, kids can be an excellent heat source. So he sat in my lap most of the game and that was a great way to talk about the game, and eat pizza at the same time. And because it was military appreciation day, I got to tell him how God allowed us to be free to do what we are doing because of their service. Then to hear him say, ” God wanted us to be here today” was the icing on the cake.
I came home that night to find my 1-year-old grandson there. He will be staying with us for a few days. I don’t get to see him that often because his parents live a couple of hours away. But when I walked in, he ran to me. I tried to run away, but God wanted him to hug me and kiss me. I get really irritated when slobbery little kids try to kiss me, especially when I am not ready and they kiss me in the mouth. (gag). I am not sure why I felt the overwhelming presence of God at that time, but I did.
And finally, the fire at the church. What a pain. But I have met some really awesome people who are working to clean up the mess. I have talked to them about our church, invited them to attend, and had several tell me that they will come. My church folks have been amazingly understanding about the inconvenience and have stepped up in more ways than I can count to make this really irritating circumstance more than bearable.
God has really been in the middle of this most irritating time. He has been the peace when things are hectic. He has been the wisdom when things are crazy. He has been the love when I felt like I did not want to love or be loved. But I don’t know why I am surprised. He promised that He would never leave me or forsake me. He never lies and never disappoints. He gives me so many reasons to be thankful and just in time for Thanksgiving. What an awesome God I serve!
Sorry for the lack of blogs lately. I have been dealing with the aftermath of the church fire, extra people in my house, and a barrage of other stuff that has had me a bit distracted. Through it all, God has been in touch with me, mainly through Twitter and Facebook, but sometimes right in my face. I thought that I could share a few things that He showed me.
Being married for 32 years and pastor of a growing and busy church and playing host to an international teenager and having grandkids all would seem to be a dream come true for most people. For the most part it is for me too. But it cramps my style a bit when it comes to date night with my favorite wife. In case you don’t know, she is an incredibly gorgeous woman and dating her has been one of my favorite activities from the first day that we met. We try to date as often as possible because it is fun and keeps the romance alive. She loves taking me out in public and showing off her “trophy husband” and then telling all of her girlfriends how lucky she is. I love taking her out in public and watching the eyes turn to have a look at her and knowing that I am going to cut the night really short so that I can get her home where only I can look at her.
I want to encourage married couples to date. Not to schedule a time away from kids to go eat, but a time to get dressed up, open doors, turn heads, flirt, and get a good nights sleep…Right. We need to have fun as married people. Life gets really busy, really fast, and really often and this can cause the romantic fires to dwindle down to nothing but a pile of ashes if we are not careful. It doesn’t have to totally depend on date nights, but they sure do stir the embers. Getting dressed up as if you wanted to impress the other person and then walking around in public and holding hand and sneaking a kiss or an accidental touch here or there makes you remember that you use to do this a lot and you enjoyed it.
I am very fortunate that my wife and I know how to enjoy ourselves without date nights. Like many of you, a busy lifestyle makes date nights few and sometimes far in between. But we still sit around and flirt across the living room and hold hands around the house and she still tries to cop an accident touch of my butt while I get a Diet Mtn. Dew from the fridge. We flirt on Facebook and send texts that say silly things like “oh baby you sure look good in those cut off gym pants” and “what the heck is that in your hair?” We know that being married is much more that flirting and romance, but one thing we are really good at is flirting and romance. Yes, she is a lucky woman and I am a great husband.
Last night we got away for a date night and it was just as much fun as the first date we ever had. The only difference was that I knew I had enough money to put gas in the car and I knew that when we got home, I didn’t have to meet her dad. Other than that, we looked good, we had fun, flirted, and neither of us can wait until the next time we go out for date night.
18 Let your own fountain be blessed, and enjoy the girl you married when you were young,
19 a loving doe and a graceful deer. Always let her breasts satisfy you. Always be intoxicated with her love.
I would want to disobey God’s word now, would I? And you shouldn’t either. Date again and again and again.
Proof- evidence sufficient to establish a thing as true.
Last night in our men’s Bible study we talked about proof of God. We were mixed on whether or not you can prove that God exists. I say no you can’t. But, you also can’t prove that He doesn’t exist. This all started as we were talking about evidence and particularly the verse in the Bible that says that faith is the evidence of things hoped for and the substance of things unseen, (Heb. 11:1) We were actually studying from Paul’s 2nd letter to the church in Corinth and he was telling them that Christians need to live their lives as if we believe in this unseen God and therefore provide evidence of His existence to those who don’t believe.
Sadly the most common statement made about Christians by those who are not Christians is the we are hypocrites. Not a great witness if we are trying to provide proof of God. We tell people about a God that loves them and provides for them and is our source of happiness and complain at the first hint of trouble in our lives. We tell people who God has blessed us with a great job but don’t give from the money that the God-given job provides. We say that God made our lives better but are the first ones to post on Facebook how miserable we are at work, school, with our relationship to others. We tell people that we pray to a God that answers us and yet we have no idea what answer we got because our prayers are basically, “Bless them”.
Years ago a man wrote a song called Amazing Grace. Now there is evidence of God. Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see. We need to live like we have been saved. We need to live like we have been found. We need to live like we received our sight. We need to live like we use to be something that now we are not.
Because we are not made perfect in the flesh there will always be some hypocritical ways left in us. But those need to decrease with time and while we are struggling with this new-found grace, we need to allow God’s grace to cover us. We need to be able to tell others through our actions that God is changing us and let the words be reflective of our actions.
We will never be able to prove that God exists at least in the sense of being able to touch and see Him. We can only offer evidence as we discover Him through the truth of the Bible and put those truths into practice. If the evidence we present is contaminated with lies and inconsistencies then it will be hard to convince others that God is anything more than Santa or the Easter Bunny. But if we live our lives with integrity and true change that comes from God’s strength and words, then over time, as the evidence continues to mount up, people will have no choice but to weigh the evidence and find that the evidence is overwhelming, and the only verdict that can be rendered is that of, yes, there is a God.
How does your life as a Christian present the evidence? Is it convicting enough that you live like you believe it in order for others to begin to believe too?
Politics can really put a strain on relationships. It makes me wonder if we shouldn’t put a bit of thought into what is happening in our politics, or better yet, in our friendships, if we can become so divided over something like an election.
I have really tried to avoid voicing my political opinions very adamantly because I know that it would strain some relationships with some of my friends. It has already cost me one or two Facebook friends, which obviously were not real friends, because I either responded to something they said or they did not like what I said. Sadly, we can allow politics to interfere with friendships when they are rarely why we became friends to begin with.
Have we forgotten that as Americans we all have freedom of speech? It seems as if one side is always trying to make the other side sound as if they are anti-American or even bigoted if their opinion differs. But the beauty of America is that we all have the right to say what we think. Yes, even bigots can voice their opinion and I can’t do anything about it. I can lobby against their cause and I can vote against their candidate, but I cannot stop them from saying what they want to say, and yes, they can call me names too.
Isn’t friendship stronger than politics though? What makes your friendship strong is a relationship. That makes me wonder what kind of relationship we think that we have if an election season and ruin friendships? Facebook friends for the most part are not really friendships. I am talking about people whom we know or at least thought that we knew for some period of time. This precious bond of friendship is supposed to be one of respect and mutual admiration. We are supposed to know more about our friends than what pages they like and what pictures they share on a web-page. We should know what their deep-rooted beliefs are. Do they think that wealth should be redistributed or do they feel like they should be able to keep the money they earn and give to charity as desire? Do they believe that life is a precious gift from God and it begins at conception or do they feel like a woman can do whatever she wants with something that is within her own body? Do they feel like marriage is already defined or needs to be redefined? But do these things really make a friendship?
You know what surprises me? These things are rarely talked about when two friends get together for a lunch or game of cards or to watch a movie. These things are important, but most people don’t meet at political rallies to begin friendships. most friendships begin in school or on the golf course or at a kid’s soccer game. Most friendships are formed with the idea that you like that person for who they are, not what political views they have. And, these friendships should last even when you find out that he is a Republican and you are not or she is a liberal and you are not.
Some of my best friends hold vastly different political views than I do. I have known that for a long time and though they are wrong for disagreeing with me, (haha), we work together, play together, laugh together, cry together, and yes, we attend the same church together. We do this because politics is not the driving force behind our relationship. We can be different and still like each other. We can hold views that are very polarizing in the political world and not let it cause our friendship to suffer. Different is not always wrong and even if it is, how will you ever change someone’s mind if you don’t like them as a person?
America is a beautiful place where people from every walk of life can live together and voice their opinions and still love each other as fellow Americans. We can work together and play together and vote opposite of each other and at the end of the day, still be friends. If you can’t do this, perhaps you should evaluate who you call friends and what a true friend really is. Perhaps you should decide if politics is more important than a friend and if so, be prepared to live a lonely life. Politicians will say whatever it takes to get your vote, a friend will doesn’t care about your vote, whoever it is for, they care about you.
Our Cub Scout troop from our church is taking a weekend camping trip to the beach this weekend. Because my son has to work, I, Papa, will be taking the 7-year-old boy. I have the tent loaded up, sleeping bags, flash lights, munchies, laptop, and wireless card, all necessities for this trip, ready to go. I will be picking him up as soon as he gets home from school and driving 3 and a half hours to the campground.
Because I have to be back for church Sunday morning, we will only be staying the night and most of the day tomorrow. The others will be staying through to Sunday. On the agenda is a beach clean up. cook out, and some fishing. We will have a good bit of free time Saturday, so there is no telling what else we may do. I am trying to decide if I want to take the bikes and or the dog.
Those who know me know that me and kids are a weird mix. I love them and enjoy watching them when they are with others. So now I get to hang out with a bunch of them and get to spend the night in a tent with my own 7-year-old boy. I WILL HAVE FUN!
I am looking forward to fishing and taking the boy to the beach. If I take the dog, I look forward to trying to get her in the water. This is the little white dog and she is not a big fan of swimming, but loves to wade. I look forward to cooking breakfast in the morning. There is nothing like bacon and eggs cooked outside after a night in the tent. I am going to work hard and show the boy how to serve with a smile. I am looking forward to seeing how many strange pictures I can take and post on Facebook.
Last month I did a blog on how God was testing me and how for some reason I was being blessed with being around a bunch of Kids. Well, God is still blessing me. I have got to figure out what I am doing right. Perhaps it is time for a week of rebellion? Just kidding. I am learning patience and I am being given some time to make memories. After the death of my dog this month, God has shown me just how precious time with someone or something you love really is. So I am going to make the most of this. I am going to remember that when I was a kid, I didn’t have a granddad that spent time with me. I am going to make some memories.
So please pray for my patience and pray that I stay focused on the blessing at hand. Pray that I remember to laugh before I scream and only scream if I am having that much fun. Pray that the 3 and a half hour ride down there and back goes quickly. Pray that it doesn’t rain, but if it does, the wi-fi works. Pray that this time next year the 7-year-old boy remembers how much fun we had and wants to do it again.
As I was taking our international student to school today I noticed that all the other kids were back to school this week. He goes to a private school that started over a week before public school did. The traffic was heavier and slower thanks to the buses on the road. I was starting to think about letting Freddy ride a bicycle so that I could avoid that morning madness. The way my wife is feeding him, he could use the exercise.
Going back to school always made me sick. I got sick more during the school year than any other time. I never got the kind of sick that made me run a fever, usually it was a stomach ache. Most of the time it was only an 8 hour bug that really seemed to start easing off within an hour of the bus going by my house. My guess is that I was allergic to something at school; probably having to do with those old books.
My mom never posted pictures on Facebook of me going back to school. She didn’t cry and get all emotional either. Well, I did see her laughing hysterically a few times as I looked out the bus window. I don’t remember any parents, “back in the day” posting kids going to school on Facebook. Parents just sent their kids off on the bus or that dreaded 3 mile, uphill walk in knee-deep snow, and then they would all meet to celebrate with moonshine, fresh from the still.
When my kids were young and going to school, we never had to worry about sending them back to school. They never got out of school through the summer. But on the rare occasion that one of them passed a grade and got a break from school, we did not post their pictures on Facebook. To be honest, we did not take many pictures of our kids at all. We figured that because they had to live with us anyway, why create any evidence that could be held against us when they moved out.
Facebook is a great thing. I use it to post my blogs, stalk, I mean, keep up with a few close friends, and find material for my blogs, like thousands of pictures of kids going back to school. I do not believe that Facebook was created for back to school pictures posted by parents. It was created by a college student. College students don’t post anything that parents are proud of, why should parents do otherwise? Facebook should be limited to pictures of those report cards, or, pictures of that letter from the truant officer and/or notice of suspensions that will drive many of you to drinking again. But then again, my parents didn’t post those things about me on Facebook either.
So, rejoice that the little ones are going back to school. Go ahead and post those cute little pictures, we know what is coming later. Those little angels who look so cute now, will be those fallen angels with colored hair, stuff sticking through their nose, and pre-drawn tattoos as they wait to turn 18 and really embarrass you.
I want to leave you with a Bible verse to go with all of this. Philippians 4:4 Always be joyful in the Lord! I’ll say it again: Be joyful!
Now that Mitt Romney has gained enough delegates to officially receive the Republican presidential nomination, the campaign is gonna get nasty. If you think that what you have heard up until now was bad, wait for what you are going to see in the next few months. These guys better put on their toughest skins and hang on for dear life.
I would be lying if I said that I totally hate the political season. I do get tired of the lies that are told from both sides. I also get tired of the smears of a personal nature. I wish that the candidates would just say what they are going to do and how they are going to do it and let us decide for ourselves about their character. But there has to be some way of knowing about a person’s past and who they associate with. It would be nice if the media would research this and put out an information source for those who want to read it. But that won’t happen and we, the voting public, will have to sort through the slants and angles that is called the news.
I guess what bothers me the most about this time of year is how I am almost forced to choose sides between friends. I know that I often voice my opinion in my blogs, but I try my best to keep it civil. I also feel that a blog is a place for thoughts, feelings, and opinions to be voiced. But sometimes Facebook, and yes I know I post this on Facebook, is a place where some really hateful stuff is posted that is very stereo typical and often down right ignorant and hateful. I am talking about people who I consider in many cases, personal friends. But they use Facebook to say things that I have never heard them say in person and it is often very decisive. I have seen this especially in the political realm. Right and left hate blurbs that are meant to somehow make you seem involved, often make you think about who your friends are. If they feel that strongly about their point of view and people who view things differently, then maybe the friendship needs to be examined.
Right now many of you are jumping to the conclusion that I am talking about you. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that I care that much about your stupid rants on Facebook. I care more about what they do to relationships. I never knew some things about some of my friends until they made that one really thoughtless posts that said something that lumped me into the group of worthless, lowlife, scum that you were talking about. And I bet you didn’t know that about me. Maybe we need to spend more time talking to those who are different from blasting a stereo type on Facebook.
Here is something that I know about differences. They are healthy in a relationship. My wife and I are almost complete opposites in many areas. We have been married for over 30 years even with those differences. But I never post something hateful about something that I know that she feels strongly about. That would hurt our relationship. Instead I appreciate our differences and have found that they make us a stronger couple. There are some things that I am passionately against that she likes, but that does not make her wrong or lump her into a group of hate mongers. I have found that some of those things make her far better at dealing with some situations than I could ever do.
In our political arena, we have become so polarized that we can see no good in the other party. But that is not the way our founding fathers intended it to be. They understood that there must be checks and balances in our leadership and that if each party used its strengths, together we would have a great country, like the one that we are in danger of losing if we continue the trend toward total one-sided hatred. Healthy debate is a wonderful thing, but stereo typing gets you to the point where nothing gets accomplished. Sadly we see this in Washington today. And I am sure that you know exactly which side is the problem (HAHAHA).
I have learned in my years of dealing with life and relationships that there is never only one side who can take all the blame. Sure there can be a degree that is greater on one side than the other, but never is it completely one-sided. We shouldn’t let politics divide us to the point of losing our ability to listen to other opinions and solutions to problems that need to be solved. And if we can’t agree that one side’s ideas are right for us, we don’t have to throw them into the category of evil.
We just celebrated Memorial Day to honor those who gave their lives for our freedom. I served in the Navy with people from every walk of life and never once did we let our differences stop us from serving the country that we love. It is freedom that allows us to have our opinions and to voice them. It is freedom that allows us to be different and still be Americans. So be careful not to get locked into the polarizing speech that causes folks to choose a side over a friendship. Strong friendships are far more valuable than strong opinions spoken behind the screen of a computer.
You see the weirdest stuff on Facebook. People who air their dirty laundry, complain about people they never met, and are experts on everything. One of my least favorite things to see on Facebook is conversations about Christianity. It is amazing that the experts on Christianity are usually the ones who don’t believe in God. Those who do believe are so weak in their knowledge of the Bible that they sound quite foolish at times and even go as far as admitting that they don’t really believe what they are hoping to be their eternal destiny. I do consider myself an expert on the Bible and believe that it teaches assurance and simplicity for salvation that we can be absolutely sure of.
I know that last statement will get some feathers ruffled, but I do consider myself an expert on the Bible. I have my Masters in theology and am half way to my Doctorate. I have read the Bible completely more times than I can count and make a living teaching what it says. I take this very seriously, because I believe that there is a God just as much as I believe that 1+1=2. No, I can’t prove that God exists, but no one can prove that He doesn’t. I have the ability to understand that order never comes from chaos and that where there is a creation of any type there must be a creator. I know personally that God changed my life and that the Bible has been true every time that I have tested it. Yes there are things that I can’t explain and don’t fully understand, but that is true with about anything in life.
The question was asked of me about how someone who professes to be a Christian can say that they believe the Bible enough for salvation but at the same time believe that God has made other ways that are not in the Bible to receive this salvation. That is a tough one. I personally believe that many people are not truly trusting God for the understanding of salvation but trusting in human understanding. Proverbs 3:5 Trust the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. Humans do not want to believe that they are not the smartest creature in the universe. As a Christian, the thing that we often miss is that God wants us to begin to trust Him and His word and change are hearts and mind. Romans 12:2 Don’t become like the people of this world. Instead, change the way you think. Then you will always be able to determine what God really wants—what is good, pleasing, and perfect. This is hard when we are challenged by those who don’t believe and make it their point to argue what they believe of a non existing God. (I think it is sad to be threatened so much by something that you don’t even believe in.) But for those who say they believe they are Christians, God is the ultimate expert in who He is and what He wants you to know and believe. If He is who He says He is, and you believe that, then we should always try to seek the Godly way in our beliefs.
From the beginning, as the Bible states it, man has doubted God and wanted what we want. It has always led to failure. Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a person, but eventually it ends in death. Religious people have tried to turn what God wants into their gain, whether it was the Pharisees of Jesus’ day or corrupt preachers of today. Those will answer to God for their false teachings. But why do professing believes get thrown off by people who profess not to believe? It is one thing to say, I believe this way but respect your opinion, but never is it okay to go against what God clearly teaches. For instance, Jesus is the only way of salvation. The Bible is very clear about that. Why would a Christian argue against that? It borders on heresy and at best ignorance.
Your eternal life is a dangerous thing to play a game of people pleasing with. If you believe in the God of the Bible, don’t doubt what the Bible says. Faith is believing, not wishful thinking. It is by grace through faith that we are saved. God condemns those who don’t believe. But he made what He wants you to believe simple and direct and easy to obtain.
Proverbs 28:26 Whoever trusts his own heart is a fool. Whoever walks in wisdom will survive. Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. The knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
I think I believe is a people pleaser’s way of saying I don’t know. Salvation is to know.
If you know me then you know that I love Facebook and that I am a sick man. Anyone who loves Facebook must be sick. But I do and I love to goof off and mess with people, while at the same time, try to remember that I have a responsibility to share my faith with others and to defend my faith as well. But you know what that means…trouble. So I should learn to listen to my dad who said to just walk away from a fight. Unfortunately I didn’t walk away from many physical fights when I was young and I didn’t walk away from a Facebook fight the other day. I thought that I would share what I learned and then add some brilliant commentary.
A good friend of mine is a vegan. No, not an old car made by Chevrolet, a person who doesn’t eat meat. I don’t know why I like someone so silly, but I do. She will occasionally post some stuff letting me know how ignorant I am about animal feelings and I can’t resist telling her that I only see a meal. We joke often, but deep down she knows that I am right and that she really wants a steak. It is because of this that I am considering a vegan converting scheme that will cause her to stock a freezer full of yummy beef products. I am going to start a farm where cows are raised and pampered and groomed and only eventually die of old age, and then butchered while soft, sad music is playing. What vegan could resist this? And before you say it, I know, this is a stroke of genius.
Now back to my original thought. I had a few folks who were determined to convince me that anyone who ate meat was sinning. Even though I presented several verses of scripture that showed otherwise, they were insistent that even the killing of an animal was a sin, which would mean that God was a sinner and everyone who ate the Passover meal was a sinner because they were doing what God said. The discussion went back and forth for a while, longer than I should have had an interest in it, and finally ended as I drew everyone’s attention back to my friend by making jokes at her. (She loves it).
I believe that making a choice to be a vegan, eating only plants and plant products is perfectly fine. I believe that if you make this choice because you have great compassion for animals it is perfectly alright. But as soon as you allow this to pervert what God’s word says, it becomes an “ism”. Here is the definition of an “ism” from the dictionary: (noun)- informal, derogatory, often an unspecified doctrine, system, or practice. This is done with race, socio-economic status, beliefs on evolution (Darwinism) and many others.
We don’t like to think of the world in a purely good and evil sense, but it is. Jesus said if you are not for Him, you are against Him. Satan will use anything to drive a wedge between you and God, even the food we eat. The Apostle Paul spent some time explaining that eating meat that was sacrificed to idols was okay, unless it offends the weaker believer. The Pharisees tried to tell Jesus that His disciples were sinning because they ate without washing their hands. Anything that can cause us doubt about God and His word is dangerous to us and is a result of evil forces working against us.
If you believe that evolution supersedes creation as described in God’s word, you are wrong and are influenced by Darwinism. If you believe that following the ten commandments gets you to heaven when the Bible is clear that Jesus is the only way, you are wrong and are following Legalism. If you believe that your race makes you better than another race, you are wrong and following Racism. If you believe that eating only plants is correct and eating meat in a sin, as it was told to me in the Facebook discussion that the Bible says “Thou shalt not kill”, you are wrong and are following Veganism.
I am proud to be white, but white don’t make me right. I love my race, but hate racism. I want to try to follow the ten commandment, but realize my need for a Savior as a law-breaker. I do not abuse animals and I am perfectly aware of some who do, and they are wrong. But eating meat is perfectly acceptable in the eyes of God. Veganism can be dangerous if it perverts the word of God. Many movements start out with great intent but get twisted by people who are misleading, then they risk becoming “ism’s”.
Being a vegan because you have compassion for God’s creation and you made this choice because of your inner conviction, makes you, well, like my friend, the vegan Christian. She can take the jokes as well as dish them out. She stays true to her convictions, and, although I can’t read her mind, I feel pretty confident that her most important “ism” was her baptism.
Be careful little child what you see, be careful little child what you read, be careful little child what you hear. There’s a Father up above, And He’s looking down in love So, be careful little eyes what you see.
Yesterday in my series on Foundations of Our Faith, I preached about gratitude. It was one of the most rewarding Sundays that I have experienced in a while. For me to say that and you to get the understanding of it is difficult, because I am extremely blessed to pastor this church and every Sunday is rewarding. We average seeing 3-5 people each week come to know Jesus for the first time and the people who call this their home church are incredible in their pursuit of true Christianity. They love each other and they make those who come for the first time feel like they are welcome and like they can be themselves. They are unashamed to invite folks who don’t “do church” to come because they will not feel like an outsider or treated as if they are another notch in our cross or something like that.
So what was so special about this Sunday? I have to say that I am not sure that I can articulate it in a way that everyone will understand, but I will try. One thing that happens every week that freaks me out, is that people really listen to what I am saying. That shouldn’t be weird, but I have preached in churches where I thought that I was all alone and the building was full. But there was a different atmosphere this week. Every week these guys listen and I am thankful, but not only were they listening this week, but they were responding with understanding . When our praise band finished their last song, just before we did baptisms, the band was called back for an encore. Sure I may have started it, but the feeling was real. Then instead of people rushing out to get home, they all stayed as we baptized 12 people. It was funny to watch folks jockeying for position to take pictures and videos and then to see them posted on Facebook by the time I got home. We had kids as young as 8 and adults as old as 40 getting baptized for the first time and even had a whole family get baptized. It was fun. It was not a religious experience, it was a family affair. No one rushed out after the baptisms were through, most everyone stayed to clean up water, hug wet people, and laugh about the fact that we need higher ceilings so that we could flick lighters next week when they call the band back for another encore. The whole thing even spilled over to today, as I checked out Facebook and Twitter to see people posting how they were grateful for one thing or another.
It is experiences like this that make you grateful to be a Christian and for me to be a pastor. I have always taught that God does not want us to have religion, but rather He wants us to have a relationship. First, He wants a relationship with us, then He wants us to have a relationship with each others. I know that there are churches everywhere that say they have that type relationship, but I really think ours is special. Yep, I am a bit prejudice, but it is true. We don’t just hang out together on Sundays, but we hang out all throughout the week. Last week, about 30 women from our church spent the weekend at the beach together and skipped church. Something tells me they were more like what God intends the church to be during that time than most people an any given Sunday. Friday and Saturday of this week there were 9 of the guys took off for a motorcycle ride around the perimeter of South Carolina for no other reason than to hang out with each other and have some fun.
To wrap up Sunday, after our evening Bible study, about 20 of us went to eat at IHOP. Moms, dads, kids, pastors and lay people, just eating and laughing. Nothing organized, nothing fancy, but everything about it screamed, “we love each other”. The Bible says that people will know that we are disciples of Jesus by the way we love one another. I think people know this about our church, and although I have felt this for a while, this Sunday it all just seemed to come together in every way.
Nothing says you believe in what you are doing better than having a grateful heart and showing that heart to others. That is what made it all so special: gratitude.