Bro. Bill's Devotional

August 16

Good gosh, I hate running in the morning on days like this. The humidity is so high and by the end of my run it looks like I've been swimming. Every inch of me is covered in sweat and it takes forever to cool down. But over the years I've learned just to push through the hot difficult days. It's kind of funny, at the end of my run, there's a great deal of satisfaction knowing that the exercise is complete and the task is accomplished. But it's not easy.

The same is true with our lives. There are days we experience which are long, hard, and demanding. The road we must travel and the cross we must bear is at times overwhelming. The best we can hope for is just to survive and push through the journey. However, there's a strange phenomenon which takes place in those dark moments. A power and strength beyond our own enables us to face and finish those hard days. When the fog lifts and the night turns to day there is a sense of comfort and accomplishment. Those hard days allow us to appreciate the high moments in life.

Today if your feeling a bit tired and worn out, push through. Allow the Spirit of God to guide and walk with you. Your faith will grow more when you depend on His strength to see you through the sweat and the tears. By exercising your faith, it will strengthen and move you forward. Rest assured, cooler and calmer days are coming. Until then, push through. Godspeed.

August 15

There's a simple lesson which Jesus emphasized over and over again. The lesson dealt with the issue of love and how it's the main factor in every relationship. As a matter of fact he said: "You will know my disciples by how they love one another." In other words, the world will see God in the love Christians have for one another.

On another occasion Jesus stated: "You can't love God whom you've never seen and hate your brother that you have seen." The Bible is clear about the subject of relationships between ourselves and others. You may not like another individual's actions, but you must treat them with love and respect.

That brings us to a difficult subject and one which continues to tear up our society on a daily basis. As I read and handle the word of God carefully, it's clear to me that you can't be a follower of Christ and be a bigot. It's spiritually impossible. Furthermore, racism is a choice and a learned behavior. A child isn't born hating another simply based on the color of their skin. That characteristic is taught and learned over a period of time by people of influence in one's life. Hatred in the name of Christianity is a false doctrine which needs to be snuffed out by true followers of Christ.

My parents certainly weren't perfect by any means, but there was a lesson they drove home over and over into the hearts and minds of their four boys. That lesson was simple: "You don't judge people based on the outward appearance, but rather by what's in their heart." Today's parents would do well to follow this teaching. The last time I checked, it's not only Biblical, it's the very heart of true Christianity. Godspeed.

 

August 14

In the past two months I've had the unique opportunity to speak at two churches I pastored. In June I preached a memorial service at FBC Canton and yesterday I had the privilege of preaching at FBC Natchez as they kicked off their fall revival. Both of these churches are near and dear to my heart.

I served at FBC Canton for 10 years. The unique aspect of that church is, it was my Mom's home church. It's also where my Mom and Dad were married. Both of my girls were baptized into the Christian faith there as well. I was the youngest pastor that church had ever called and I'm sure they were often pushed to their wits end under my leadership.

We left Canton in 2000 and began our service at FBC Natchez. There is no place in the world like the city of Natchez. It's almost a world unto itself. I always said we considered Canton our home, but Natchez stole our hearts. I probably had as many friends outside our church as I did inside. I always love having to opportunity to travel back to that special place.

Looking back on those two ministries in my life there are a few take aways to consider. First, those two churches did way more for me than I ever did for them. There is a debt which I owe both congregations, which I could never pay. Second, you never know the effectiveness of your ministry until you leave. Sometimes a word of encouragement will come from the least likely of sources. They remember a sermon, an event or even a visit which made a difference in their life. I'm just thankful I had the opportunity to serve these two great churches in my life.

 

Now it's time to travel back to Columbus and continue the work God has for us at PHBC. I can hardly wait to see where He's going to take us. Godspeed my friends.

 

August 13

When you see someone who is struggling with a personal or spiritual issue, never say: "That could never happen to me or my family." Too many folks have had to eat those words and change their attitude towards a particular issue when it hits their life.

 

When I was serving my first church, we had a man elected by the church as a deacon. One man on our body of deacons was furious at his election. One evening during our meeting this man said: "We're not longer a New Testament church. The man we elected as a deacon has married a woman who has been divorced." Sometimes, even today, I'm amazed at how we pick and choose to interpret scriptures. I haven't the time to argue this passage about divorce. But this man was unyielding in his banter.

A strange thing happen just months after his outcry against divorce. His son, who was a deacon, ended up getting divorced. You can bet, Daddy took a much difference stance on the subject when it hit his house. And so would most of us. 

Don't ever say: "That could never happen to me" because you'll make yourself out to be a liar every time. Instead, you might want to say: "There by the grace of God go I." Never say never. Godspeed.

 

August 12

Several years ago, following a Wednesday night service which a preached on the need to forgive others, I had one of my members approach me and he was furious. He pulled me to the side and blasted me. "I can't believe you did tonight!" he said. "You saw me come in and decided to preach a message directly to me. How dare you!" Now what you need to realize is he was serious. He actually thought I saw him enter a room of about 200, and changed my message just to make him feel uncomfortable. To be totally honest, I didn't know he was in the room.

Preaching 101 reminds the speaker to never, I mean never center a message around one person. You just don't do it. First, it's totally selfish on the preacher's part. Two you sacrifice the rest of the congregation for the sake of one person. Three, it's totally unprofessional. And finally, even if you do it, more than likely the person you're directing the message to will think you're talking about someone else. I've never done it, though I've been tempted to do so, and I'd never do it.

So here we are, at the front of the church having this conversation. I asked my accuser to come to my office and discuss the situation. Finally I'd had enough and said: "How arrogant can one person be to think that a preacher would see you and decide to preach his entire message to you. Your problem isn't with me, but rather your problem is with your God and yourself. I would suggest you follow some serious soul searching my friend and find out why you're so mad." Before I could ask him to pray with me, he stormed out of my office. To say the least I was stunned and a bit ticked off.

The next day, I received a call from this man. He apologized for his actions and accusations. The reality was, he and a coworker had gotten into it prior to his arrival at prayer meeting. He had said some pretty awful things to this individual. Well, now this is making sense. He went on to say he had apologized to them as well.

The next time you think the preacher is stepping on your toes, you might want to notice that he's 30 ft away from you. The feet you might be feeling may belong to someone greater than him. You might not like the message, but don't blame the messenger. Godspeed my friends.

August 11

Yesterday would have been my Mom and Dad's 71st wedding anniversary. When asked how they met, my Dad would always tell the same story. They were both attending Mississippi College at the same time. My Mother was dating or seeing a guy named Funchess. Now you have to realize, my Mom and Dad barely knew each other, and as the story is told and my Dad saw Mom and this guy walking around together. As they approached my him, in all of his subtlety, he simply said: "Hey Funchess! What are you doing with my girl!!" The rest they say is history.

My three brothers and I were blessed to be raised by great parents. Our home was a place of love and discipline. There was no doubt who was in charge. There was a standard that was set by Mom and Dad and we knew there would be consequences for our actions.

We need parents to act like parents today more than ever. Our children need to be loved and nurtured, but they also need discipline. Children, whether they admit it or not, want boundaries in their lives. It up to the parents to be the adults in the house and set those boundaries. I'm so glad my parents loved me enough to discipline me when I needed it. There's no doubt, I am the man I am today because of their love, acceptance, and discipline. Happy anniversary Mom and Dad!!! Thanks for the times when you got tough. I love and still miss you each day. Godspeed.

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August 10 

Forgiveness is a tricky and slippery slope. It actually involves three levels of action. When I think about forgiveness in my life, I have to confess my sins to my Heavenly Father. In doing so, I have the assurance that He not only hears my prayers, but he is faithful and just and forgives my sins completely. In other words, I don't have to continue to bring it up to Him again and again.

However, there's a second aspect of forgiveness that sometimes gets lost in the shuffle and that's the forgiveness of others. When we've been hurt or mistreated by others, we have no other course of action but to forgive those individuals. Here's the tricky part. My willingness to forgive others is directly tied to my forgiveness from God. In other words, God can't forgive me if I'm not willing to forgive others. That's a Biblical truth that sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. Also remember, our unwillingness to forgive others eats at our soul like a cancer and it affects our lives more than the one who offended us. Before we know it, we find ourselves cut of from God and others and that's a place of misery.

Finally, in order for forgiveness to be complete, one has to forgive themselves. Too often we walk through life burdened by our mistakes from the past. Don't hold a higher standard of forgiveness for yourself than God. If He can forgive you, don't you think you can forgive yourself? Leave the judgement aspect of your life to God, that's his job, not yours. When all three pieces of forgiveness come together, an abundant life begins to take place. And after all, isn't that what Jesus came to offer you and me? Godspeed.

 

August 9 

For the first time in my life I'm working out with a personal trainer. I still do my running each day on my own, but now I'm working to strengthen my upper body and arms. I knew it was going to be a tough day when I walked into the gym Monday and my guy said: "We're going hard today. What you need to understand about my trainer is he once owned his own gym. Also, about a month ago he made his public profession of faith and I had the high honor of baptizing him. He has an expression he uses on me everyday: "I trust you on Sunday, you trust me on Monday." We were doing bench presses and I watched him press 498 lbs for his final round. You read that correctly, 498 lbs. He only did it once, but that was the goal.

 

After he finished, he set the weight on my bar. It was twice what I had ever done. I looked at him and said: "I can't do that!" He replied: "All you have to do is get it up and down once, maybe twice." I got it up and lowered the bar to my chest, a pushed it up. I lowered it a second time and it was unmovable going up. All of a sudden, it felt lighter. The push upward became easier. How was that possible? I looked to my right and my guy was helping me lift the weight. All of a sudden, the impossible became possible.

The same is true with the weight that you're carrying in your life right now. It may be a weight of guilt, grief, or darkness. You find yourself struggling and straining to lift it on your own, only to find it's too heavy. You do realize there's a power available to you at this moment, don't you? There is a voice crying out which says: "Cast your cares upon me, because I love you." A strange thing happens when we seek his help. Our burden becomes lighter. Don't let the pressures of life overtake you today. Call upon His name and your personal spiritual trainer will help lift the weight. Godspeed.

 

August 8

I know you've heard this a thousand times, but let me remind you of a simple truth about life. Some of the most valuable lessons we learn in life is when we face difficult situations. When adversity comes our way we learn a lot about ourselves and our faith. In other words, it's easy to follow God and sing praises to Him when everything in life is coming up roses. However, can you be faithful and obedient when your life is collapsing around you? Can you sing: "God is so good" when your house is on fire? Can you be light in a dark world when your health is threatened? Can you cling to your Maker when you don't understand why things have unraveled so fast in your life? What you truly are is revealed in moments of testing and uncertainties.

 

Several years ago I had to walk through the hardest times in my life. I remember walking my dog one night and thinking: "God is this it? Have I come to a place now where I'm finished? Are you through with me? Am I ever going to preach again?" What I found to be true in those days is what I have found to be true throughout my life. Even in the darkness and doubt, God is faithful. Those dark uncertain days prepared me to be used by God in ways I never dreamed possible. In other words, God is still God and He still has a plan for every life.

 

So today, you get to choose. Will you trust Him even when you don't understand His ways or will you curse your situation? The Christian life is about trusting the one who loved you enough to die for you. Your dark days can be an opportunity to make a difference in another's life in the future. That is, if you allow God to teach you. Godspeed.

 

August 7

Back in 2009 I got this bright idea to run in my first marathon. Yep, 26.2 miles of running delight. For months I trained as hard as I had ever trained before. In other words, by the time race day was here, my body, my mind, and my spirit was ready. If you've never run a marathon, what you need to understand is, the race is really two separate runs. There is the first 20 miles and then there is the last 6.2. Around mile 22 I was struggling for the first time. I even walked for about a quarter of a miles just to give my body a rest. However, as I got to the finish line I saw my youngest daughter, Melanie Brashier, holding up a sign which read: "Leave it on the road Daddy!!" It was just the shot of adrenaline I needed. All of a sudden the pain took a back seat and a surge of energy shot through my body. All it took was a word of encouragement.

The same is true in this race we call life. There are some of us who are hurting, suffering, and struggling to get through. We're trying to push through the pain and the darkness, but quitting seems much easier and desirable. Maybe what we need is a little encouragement. Maybe we need to be reassured of someone's love and support. Quite possibly we just need to remember we're not alone.

One valuable lesson I've learned over the years of my running is: I have to focus on where I'm going and not look back at where I've been. The same is true for our lives. Stop thinking about the failures of the past and focus on the task of the present. You can do this!! How do I know this? Because you're not alone. There's a power of a presence available to you this day. When the race gets too long and the hills too steep, just walk, but keep moving. In other words.....Leave it on the road!!! Finish strong. You and the Lord have this. I have faith in you. Encourage others as you run your race. You can be a difference maker even in your struggles. Godspeed.


August 6 

What are you doing with the opportunities God is giving you? Are you taking advantage of them or squandering them away? You've heard the old expression: "Opportunity only knocks once." Over the years I've found this to be a true statement. I can't tell you how many times I've been given a chance to touch or minister to someone and I've just flat blown it and wasted the opportunity.

Today I want you to think about what you do with your time. In reality, time is about opportunities. So many of of live with the mindset that we have an abundance of days. Therefore we think: "Well, I'll do that tomorrow." We fail to realize that today is the only day we have. Don't blow it.

Is there someone you need to encourage through a word or deed? Is there someone you need to thank? Is there someone you need to tell that you love them? Is there someone you need to forgive? In reality the answer to all those questions is a resounding yes. So get off your spiritual duff and get moving.

Several years ago I had a church member that was a great leader and a wonderful person. However, for years we couldn't get him to serve in any capacity in the church. Every year he was asked and every year he said no. One Sunday night he pulled me to the side and said: "I need to stop saying no and start serving. You guys put me where you think God can use me." Two weeks later he was dead. You see, time is of the essence and when it's over, it's over.

So, the choice is yours. What are you going to do with the opportunities God gives you? Don't wait until tomorrow because that day may never come. Godspeed.

August 5

There's a unique quality about grief. Grief always waits its turn. You can deny it, ignore it, push it back, and even try to forget it, but it just waits you out. Sooner or later you have to deal with it.

A pastor friend of mine relayed a story to me about how grief stood in line and waited on him. My friend's mother passed away and like many of us preachers, he assumed the pastoral role for his family. The arrangements were made for her funeral and he preached her service. As expected, he conducted himself in a professional manner and did a stellar job comforting his loved ones. Months later he found himself in a small town bank closing out her account. As he was filling out the necessary paperwork, it hit him like a ton of bricks. All of a sudden a flood of emotions overwhelmed him. He told me he cried like a baby right there in that bank. Yep, grief waits it turn.

 

Grief is also personal. We all grieve in different ways. For some of us we are outward with our emotions, while others are more private. I find myself at times, when I'm alone a flood of emotions sting my heart and mind to the point of feeling overwhelmed and at times, lost. However, as you grieve, make sure it's constructive and healthy and not destructive and unhealthy.

Finally, just as grief is personal, so is the presence and comfort of God. He and He alone reminds us that we don't grieve alone and without hope. Those two things at times are all we have to hold on to in our times of heartbreak and sorrow. 

If you are waiting for grief to arrive in your life, rest assured it's coming. How you deal with it will say a lot about your life and faith. Godspeed my friends.

 

August 4, 2017

I was applying for the doctoral program at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, part of the process was getting letters of recommendation from former professors of mine. This included former instructors of mine from college and seminary. One of the individuals that I contacted to secure a recommendation was my former professor of preaching at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, where I received my my master of divinity degree. He had not only been one of my favorite professors, but he had given me a lot of his personal books for my library.

One evening I called this individual and explained my need for his assistance in pursuing my next degree. What followed in the course of our conversation shocked me and brought me to tears. After he agreed to write this much needed letter for me, he thanked me for calling and entrusting him with this responsibility. He then said the following: "I've never made a single difference in anyone's life in all my years on earth. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to help." What I didn't realize at that moment was my former professor, a man I loved dearly was suffering tremendously with depression. He went on to tell me how lonely he felt and how life had no purpose.

Depression and loneliness are a dangerous combination in anyone's life. It makes you feel as though no one cares and life itself is not worth the struggle. The reality of this situation was, he had made a tremendous difference in countless lives, including mine. I reminded him out the churches he pastored and the lives he changed through his ministry. I reminded him of the deacons and ministers he ordained and the countless individuals he baptized. Yet, at this moment in life, none of that mattered to him because he couldn't see it.

There are a lot of you out there who can identify with my former professor. You have either felt that way, or feel this way now. One of Satan's biggest lies that he uses over and over is that you're alone in this journey called life. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is light in the midst of darkness and there is hope in the presence of hopelessness. God hasn't promised you a life free from trouble, but he has promised He'll never leave us nor forsake us. You can take that to the bank.

At the end of our conversation my friend and mentor said: "I'm so glad you called." I told him that I loved and appreciated him and reminded him of his influence in my life and ministry. Maybe you need to be reminded that you are important and yes you matter. Of that I am sure. Godspeed.

 

August 3, 2017

Back in June of 2004, I was playing golf on a beautiful summer morning in Natchez with our regular foursome. That same day some of my family members were having a memorial service for my uncle in Colorado. Due to the distance, I was unable to attend. When we got to hole number 7, a relatively short par three, I hit a beautiful shot just past the flag that backed up and found the bottom of the hole for an ace. Yep, a hole in one. Later that day I called my aunt and told her that my uncle, who had been an avid golfer must have kicked it in for me. We chuckled a bit and she was so glad that I called and told me about his service that day.

I've shared this story with you to help answer another question which I'm often asked: "Can our loved ones who have passed away come back to earth in some form to either communicate with us or let us know they're at peace?" Again, to answer your question openly and honestly, we must answer it Biblically and not emotionally.

The best resource and answer we have for this question is found in the gospel of Luke chapter 16. It's the story of the rich man and Lazerus. First, there is no indication that this is a parable which Jesus made up on the fly. I personally believe this was a factual story he told about two actual individuals.

You will recall that the rich man and Lazerus both died around the same time. Lazerus received comfort at the side of Abraham and the rich man found himself in torment and pain. He asked Abraham if he could go back and warn his brothers on earth. However, Abraham replied that wasn't an option and it wasn't possible. Here is where we find our answer.

I don't believe our loved ones can come back from any eternal destination and communicate with us here. I've found myself at grave sides with grieving families and all of a sudden a butterfly appears at the scene. It immediately brings the thought to this family that this may be their family member. I keep my mouth shut, for if it comforts them, who am I to admonish a grieving wife, husband, son or daughter?

But let me tell you what I do believe and think is possible. The Bible teaches us that our God is a god of comfort. As a matter of fact, the Holy Spirit is our comforter in this life. Throughout the Bible God used various signs to communicate to His people that He was there. There was the rainbow, a dove, earthquakes, wind, and of course an empty grave. Our God is a big and mighty God. He hurled the stars in the sky, created all things, parted the Red Sea, and conquered death and Hell. The last time I checked, He hasn't gotten out of the miraculous sign business. Who's to say that God himself doesn't give us little signs as a reminder that our loved ones are just fine in His presence? I can buy into that my friend because I've experienced it.

When my father died in 2005, I remember just prior to his death I prayed that God would spare his life because I wasn't ready to let him go. I remember a voice, an audible voice speak to me: "He was mine before he was yours." That's all I needed to hear. I'm not a highly intelligent individual, but that's something I can wrap my simple mind around and it brings me comfort. Hopefully it can help you. Godspeed.

 

August 2, 2017

Have you noticed that everybody has "a guy". You need a repair on the roof of your house, somebody's always knows a guy. If your car is in need of repair, someone knows a guy. If you need advice on investments, yep, someone knows a guy. And if you need tickets to the big game, there's aways, always a guy.

Well let me tell you, I know a guy that can help you in a lot of different situations. If your having family troubles, I know a guy who can help. If your having trouble with issues form the past, I know a guy you can call. If you're feeling like life is hopeless, I know a guy who can help. If you're feeling like life has no purpose or direction, I know a guy you can call. If your life is a mess and you don't know which end is up, I know a guy who can help.

Most of us have individual we call when things need to be repaired or replaced. But who do you call when you are in need of repair? Who do you look to when your life is falling apart? I know a guy and his name is Jesus and he's waiting to hear from you. There's no problem too big and no problem too small. The funny thing about him is, He's always more than you expect. Give him a call today. Godspeed.

 

 

August 1, 2017

How's your heart feeling today? Oh, I'm not necessarily talking about physically, but rather emotionally or spiritually. There are some of you who are dealing with issues which are tearing your heart apart. As a matter of fact, some feel like their heart has been ripped out of their chest.

For some of you, grief is your heart problem. You've lost a special individual in your life and now our days are covered in darkness. The task that once seemed simple and easy now has become difficult and at times impossible. You wonder if you'll ever be happy again in this life?

Others of you are dealing with a prodigal child. You've given your heart and soul to this child and now he or she is rebelling against everything you hold dear in your life. At times, you're not even sure you recognize your own flesh and blood. The weight of hurt and disappointment at times is more than you can bear.

Still, some of you are dealing with physical ailments which have robbed you of your independence. The treatments and prognosis are uncertain at best, and now your heart wonders if the quality of life is better than the quantity.

In the 34th Psalm, the writer reminds us that God draws near the brokenhearted. Now if God comes close to us in our time of brokenness, wouldn't it stand to reason that we might want to draw close to Him. He will and can make something of the broken pieces in your life. Godspeed.

 

July 31, 2017

Over the years I've had a particular question asked again and again by church members and friends. The question is this: "Do our loved ones in heaven see or know what's going on in our lives here on earth?" Now before I answer that question, you need to know my purpose isn't to persuade you or change your point of view. I'm going to give you my opinion which is based on what I believe the scriptures teach. It might just give you a little food for thought.

When a believer dies, their body is commended to the ground and their spirit, the very essence of who they are goes immediately into the presence of God. The Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth and reminded them: "To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord." (II Corinthians 5:8) There is no holding place, no waiting area, but rather a prepared place for prepared people. Do you remember what Jesus said to the penitent thief in Luke 23:43? "Today you will be with me in Paradise." So when a Christian dies, they go into the presence of God.

In Revelation 21, we get a glimpse of what Heaven is like. It's a place where there is no mourning, no crying, no pain, and no death. As a matter of fact, those things have passed away and all things are new. It's hard for me to imagine how my loved ones in Heaven could rejoice and see this world with all its sin and corruption. There's no question that if my parents could see my every move here on this earth their hearts would be broken at times and their spirits moved to tears. That's not possible in Heaven.

Also in Luke 16 there's an interesting story about a rich man and a poor man named Lazarus who both died. If you read the narrative carefully you'll notice that Abraham told the rich man there was no going back and no crossing over after death.

Well now we've gotten to a point where you ask: "What about the great cloud of witnesses that surrounds us found in Hebrews 12? The writer isn't talking about an audience which watches our every move, but rather reminding us of our rich heritage of those who went before us. He reminds us that the race is worth running.

Before you tar and feather me, remember I'm not trying to convince you, I'm just sharing my thoughts. However there is a bright spot and an encouraging word. God has given us a special gift in the form our of memory. Everyday I live and breathe, there's an opportunity to see my parents and loved ones in my mind. For you see, they live in my heart. I'm comforted knowing they are just fine where they are and knowing they are still a part of my life. They live through me. I also know one day I'll see them again and I will know and recognize them. That's good enough for me.

If you disagree with me that's fine. It won't be the first nor the last time. If your view works for you, more power to you. Just make sure you're prepared to be in a prepared place. Godspeed and I love you guys.

 

July 30, 2017

Yesterday while mowing, two Jehovah's Witnesses pulled up in my driveway and made their way towards me. I shut down my mower and greeted with with a friendly: "Good morning! How can I help you?" Immediately they went into their prepared presentation about the perilous times we are living in today. After listening to them for a few minutes, I asked them this question. "If you died tonight do you know for certain that you would go to heaven?" Of which they replied: "No, but we are assured we'd live in an earthly paradise." I went on to present the gospel to them right there in the front yard. As they quoted scripture, so did I. I never argued with them, never was rude, never preached down at them. Finally they looked at our church next door and asked: "Is that your church?" I replied: "No ma'am, that church belongs to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I just have the honor of preaching there every week. We'd love to have you come visit." To which she replied: "I can't go to your church." Now they are looking for an exit strategy. I'm continuing to share the gospel and explaining how Jesus loved them enough to die for them. As they were leaving, they asked if they could leave me some information. I declined and they couldn't leave fast enough. As they left, I just prayed for them.

You better know what you know about Christianity and your faith. We are encouraged to always be ready to give a defense of what we claim to believe. Hopefully those ladies have a few questions running through their mind today. I told them in our conversation: "I wouldn't give two cents to a religion that couldn't keep me out of Hell." What about you? Are you ready to stand up for your faith? I hope so. Godspeed.

 

July 29, 2017

At the end of the day, there aren't many things which really matter in life. There's your relationship with God, your relationship with family, and your relationship with friends. The rest of your life is just fluff. I've never seen a hearse with a U-Haul trailer attached to it. The problem with so many of us is, we spend so much time chasing the things of this world that we neglect the ones which are of the most value.

What are you doing to grow in your relationship with God? You do understand it doesn't happen by osmosis. How much of your time and resources are devoting to deepen your walk with Christ. One day we'll stand before Him and He'll ask us: "Why didn't you let me bless you more?"

Do you treasure your family? I mean really love and cherish the ones closest to you? You're time on this earth is brief at best, so you better get this one right. I've never had an individual tell me on their death bed they wish they had spent more time at work. Most will say they wish they had spent more time with their family. Children spell love T-I-M-E. More than anything, your family wants you.

Finally, treasure your true friends. God's word tells us that "a friend sticks closer than a brother." Don't squander special relationships over petty insignificant things. Friends are hard to come by, and you and I need all we can get.

So the task is simple, yet so many people miss it in life. Work on the things which last an eternity and not just a few days. Godspeed my friends. And I'm honored to call you.......friend.

 

July 28, 2017

Yesterday I had the opportunity to spend the day with two of the most inspiring ministers in our state. That being Stan Buckley and Mark Byrd. I've know these two for over 15 years as we've had the opportunity to serve on several boards and committees in the Mississippi Baptist Convention. We traveled to Jonestown, Mississippi to check out the new work But God Ministry, led by Stan, is doing in the Mississippi Delta. For the first time in years an impoverished community has a bit of hope. It was simply overwhelming to see how the hand of God is all over that ministry.

Every time I have the opportunity to spend time with Mark and Stan I come away encouraged and renewed. Their passion for missions and Kingdom work is infectious and desirable. It makes one examine their own life and work and strive to be better. In other words, these men challenge and motivate me to serve my Lord more effectively and enthusiastically.

You've heard the old expression: "You can know a person by the company they keep" That's not only true in the secular world, but in the spiritual as well. If you want to grow in your faith and be a positive influence on others, associate with people who are doing the same thing. The trouble with most Christians is, we tend to be satisfied with a crowd which settles for a mediocre or casual walk with Christ. I heard Nick Saban express it this way: "High achievers don't want to associate with mediocre people and mediocre people don't want to associate with high achievers."

Challenge yourself to grow in your faith with individuals who desire to do the same thing. When this happens, a strange phenomenon occurs. You'll start becoming an influence in your world. Why? Because you're actually being light and salt to a world that needs it. Start the process today. Godspeed.

 

July 27, 2017

My hands smell like Clorox and my shoulders are a bit sore. My youngest daughter and her husband have just bought their first home, so naturally we have spent the week helping them get ready to move. The last two days it's been my job to prime and help paint the inside and power wash the outside. In just a matter of days it's been amazing to watch the transformation of this house. Of course as parents there's nothing, within reason you won't do for your children. You find yourself doing things for them that you wouldn't even do for yourself. Why? It's pretty simple, you love them and want the best for them. We're so proud of what they've been able to accomplish over the first two years of their marriage.

As I was cleaning the outside of their house yesterday, I found myself hot and soaking wet. But the thought of not doing this never entered my mind. One thing kept running through my mind: "I've got to get this project completed.

In a similar way, that's exactly how God views us as His children. He absolutely wants the very best for your life and mine. There's no mountain too high, no river too wide, no sin so greatest that won't get to you. We find Him doing things for us that He'd never to for Himself. As a matter of fact, He loved you so much that He carried a cross to a hill and died so that you and I may have everlasting life. You'll find His love is true and always inclusive. When he enters a life, the transformation is unbelievable. My hands smell like Clorox, but a His hands smell and look like love. The beauty is, those hands are reaching out to you. Godspeed.

 

July 26, 2017

Several years ago, while I was working on my doctorate at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, I was taking a particular class on preaching. One of our assignments was to conduct an interview with two contemporary preachers on their method of sermon preparation. One of the preachers I picked was Dr. Frank Pollard, pastor at that time of First Baptist Church, Jackson.

Dr. Pollard and I had spent a great deal of time together prior to this interview. He had preached two revivals for me in Canton and also had been my program personality at Rotary Club. Dr. Pollard and I had played many rounds of golf together at Annandale and Canton Country Club. I was always amazed at what he would share with me about his ministry, life, family and even struggles. I guess he considered me safe. All I know is he was mighty good to me.

We set up a time for the interview at his office. As usual, we talked too long and the time went by so fast. The last question I asked him was this: "When all is said and done in your ministry, how do you want people to remember you?" His answer, if you knew him, was typical Dr. Pollard. He simply said: "I don't want to be remembered at all, only that Christ and Him  crucified was preached." He didn't want to be remembered. In an age where everyone's trying to make their mark and be remembered, as Christians, when we're gone, may we be remembered for walking with Christ. After all, that is what we're called to do. Godspeed.

 

July 25, 2017

The other night at church I noticed a member of our youth group was was wearing a semi winter coat to church. Now you have to remember, it was about 90 degrees outside. In the sanctuary it was a bit cool, but certainly not freezing. When I approached her I asked: "Girl, do you realize how hot it is outside?" Her reply certainly made me think. She said: "I like wearing my coat, it makes me feel warm and secure." I have grown to love this girl as has our church family over the last few months. There's such an innocence and purity about her. Every time she sees me, there's a huge smile on her face and her arms are extended to give me a hug. At our place she has found love and acceptance.

As adults, we're not much different from this girl. There are things in life which warm our spirits and comfort our lives. We all long for a sense of belonging. We want to feel love and acceptance from the people around us. A good question you might want to ask yourself today is: "What makes you feel secure?" For some of us it's our savings account. For others it's their job or even their family. However, true security only come in a relationship with God through his son Jesus. In him we find a sense of wholeness and belonging.

This coming Sunday this young girl will enter the baptismal waters and publicly link her life with Christ. Hopefully the warmth of his presence and the support of a church family will give her the comfort she needs. Who knows, she might just shed the coat. Godspeed.

 

July 24, 2017

Today it's hard to know who you can trust. Over the years of my ministry I've learned that lesson the hard way. I can't tell you how many times I've shared something private or personal with another individual only to have that information repeated. You ask the question: "Well, if I can't trust that person, who can I trust?"

The same can be said in all of our lives. Most of us know what it's like to put our trust in another, only to end up disappointed by their actions. Politicians, preachers, teachers, coaches, and family members are at the top of the list. We find ourselves investing our time and resources into these relationships and all of a sudden, a single action or word brings destruction and mistrust. Why is that? It's very simple. We live in an imperfect world made up of imperfect people. Sooner or later, someone you love will let you down. That's just a fact of life.

However, there is one you can count on through thick and thin. There's one who will always go the extra mile for you and your family. There's one who always has your best interest at heart. There's one who will never leave nor forsake you. There's one you can trust with the best and worst of your life. There's one who loves you as you are and not as you ought to be. Psalm 27 reminds us to put our trust in the Lord. Whatever you're facing today, He can help you navigate the situation. All you have to do is trust Him. His track record is spotless and His love is true. Call upon His name today and allow Him to work in you. Godspeed.

 

July 23, 2017

You've heard the expression: "Pride goes before a fall." However, that is a misquote from Proverbs 16:18. Actually the verse reads: "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." The reality is, all sin is a matter of pride. We get to a point in our lives when we feel like we know what's best for our lives. We make decisions, render judgement without a single thought as to what God wants for our lives. Pride will lead to a haughty, yes arrogant spirit which will result in a fall. That fall can be a moral, ethical, or spiritual fall. All of them can be destructive.

One of the greatest sins that pride gives birth to is self-righteousness. We tend to think a little too high about our own spirituality and walk with God. Therefore we have the tendency to judge others short comings, sins, and transgressions. What part of, "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" do you not understand? Today as we gather as believers at church, let's remember our purpose and mandate. We are to worship the King of Kings and remember our own sinfulness. In other words, I've got my own junk and mess so I don't have time to look down on another. This actually frees me up to concentrate on what's important and for most. Giving God my best.

As one preacher reminded us: "Let the church be the church." That means we need to remember it is a place of grace, forgiveness, and restoration and all are welcome. However. It begins first in our hearts. Have a wonderful day of worship. May God truly bless you and your family. Godspeed

 

July 22, 2017

Satan had a big day in Mississippi on Thursday. When he has a big day it's never a good thing. It doesn't matter what school or church you attend, if he wins a couple of big battles, it's not good for the Kingdom of God.

First we had a prominent coach at one of our major universities, who for most of his career has outspoken about his Christian faith, resign due to moral issues. While some may snicker and celebrate, the Kingdom of God took a severe hit. I even read an article which asked the question: "Is This the End of Christian Coaches." The answer is a resounding "No!" What we need to realize is when one believer stumbles, it has a domino effect on our witness to the world. Also remember, none of us are in a position to judge anyone. When we mock, laugh, argue about this situation, guess who rejoices. Yep, the evil one.

Second, one of our major churches in our state dismissed their pastor due to differences in leadership styles. Again, when a pastor is forced out, regardless of the situation, the Kingdom takes a hit. Don't get me wrong, there are times when ministers and churches need to part ways. But often what gets lost in the shuffle is what the "outside world" sees and believes. Also there is always damage done to good people and their families who have have dedicated their lives to the ministry. The emotional, mental, and spiritual toil on a pastor and his family is more than one can fathom. I know because I've been there, done that, and got the t-shirt. So guess who is rejoicing? Yep, the evil one.

There's no doubt Satan had a good day on Thursday. However you and I will determine if he has a good week or a successful month. We do so with our attitudes and responses. Maybe if Christians would rise up and actually be the Bride of Christ we can change the court of public opinion. How do we do this? By loving each other. All Satan wants to do is steal, kill and destroy. Anger, bitterness, hatred, and discord are only overcome by love. Jesus himself said: "You will know my disciples by how they love one another." It's about time we gave the evil one the tail whipping he deserves. He's had his 15 minutes of fame, now it's time we rise up. We lost those two battles, but we shall win the war. That's a guarantee. Godspeed and may God bless the great state of Mississippi. We need Him now.

 

July 21, 2017

Adam was easily led astray. Abraham took matters into his hands and failed to trust God. Jacob was a schemer. Moses was a murderer. Samson couldn't keep his mouth shut. David was an adulterer. Jonah led an entire city to repentance than pouted because God didn't destroy it. Hosea had a prostitute for a wife. Peter was a denier. Thomas was a doubter. And Paul was a persecutor and murderer. And yet all of them received forgiveness and restitution in their faith.

Several years ago, the late J.D. Grey, then pastor of First Baptist Church of New Orleans, was reprimanded by one of his lady members for smoking a pipe. His reply to her was: "That's my sin, what's yours?" It's easy to sit in judgement of someone else, especially if their transgressions are public knowledge. However, remember the standard you use is the same standard God will use on you. And the truth is, you are a sinner, don't forget that. Never rejoice at the fall of another individual who's in the faith.

I sometimes live in a glass house, so there's no way I'm in a position to judge the actions of another. Furthermore, it's not in my job description as a follower of Christ. I'll leave the judging to the only one qualified. And the last time He had the opportunity to cast a stone, He chose not to. When Christianity takes a public hit, it has an effect on all believers. Just remember that while reading the paper and watching the sports today. Godspeed.

 

July 20, 2017

Last night when I came home from church we had baby birds scampering all over our yard. They fluttered about, half running and half flying. One of them found safety and lodging for the night in one of our bushes in the front yard while another one was trying to find the exit from our fenced in area in the backyard. I would imagine they felt worlds apart. Around 9 pm I went to the back fenced in area with work gloves on and picked up the wayward bird. I took it to the bush in the front yard and placed it by its sibling. Later on, we checked on them again and they were both asleep. Now, to the best of my knowledge, nature has taken its course. These baby birds had been forced out of their nest to learn how to fly and survive in the world. I'd love to know the success rate of this process.

This past week I was in a meeting and we were discussing current trends in our society. One area we looked at was the current rate of unemployment in our state and nation. While the rate is down, one current trend isn't factored into that percentage. In today's world, more and more college graduates have finished their degrees and have moved back home to live with their parents. And they are unemployed. There's a fine line in helping a child and enabling them. Sooner or later, our children have to live and make it in our world. Our job as parents is to raise them, educate them, and get them out of the house or nest so they can make it on their own. What's true in nature is true for us. Too often we make things easy for our children and they never learn how to function in society. Let them grow up and be what God has called them to be. If not, you better build a bigger nest. Godspeed.

 

July 19, 2017

In my opinion there's nothing worse than watching someone you love hurt or suffer and knowing there's not one thing you can do to stop it. It may be a physical pain your loved one is experiencing caused by a disease that is literally sucking the life out of them. The slightest movement causes their entire body to ache. You sit by their bed wanting to do something, but in reality all you can do is watch and pray for God's mercy. Still, your friend or family member may be suffering mentally or spiritually. This flood of emotions might be brought on by grief or depression. Nothing you say or do can bring light or hope to this person you cherish so much. They say that time heals all wounds, but in reality, there are some pains and hurts you just learn to manage over the years. In my own journey as a pastor I've learned there is no magic sermon nor words that will remove the pain someone is experiencing. However, there is a power in a physical and spiritual presence. Being there to lighten or help bear the burden is sometimes enough and often all we can do. Our job as Christians is not to fix the problem, but assure the people we love that there is hope. That hope or light may not come today or tomorrow, but it will eventually show up. How can I be so sure? Darkness can never master the Light of Christ. If you have a loved one suffering, suffer with them, for that is exactly what a God does for His Children. That alone can be the difference in making it or not. Godspeed my friends.

 

July 18, 2017

I've owned and used an IPhone now for about 8 years. Like many of you, I've become dependent on this modern foIn my opinion there's nothing worse than watching someone you love hurt or suffer and knowing there's not one thing you can do to stop it. It may be a physical pain your loved one is experiencing caused by a disease that is literally sucking the life out of them. The slightest movement causes their entire body to ache. You sit by their bed wanting to do something, but in reality all you can do is watch and pray for God's mercy. Still, your friend or family member may be suffering mentally or spiritually. This flood of emotions might be brought on by grief or depression. Nothing you say or do can bring light or hope to this person you cherish so much. They say that time heals all wounds, but in reality, there are some pains and hurts you just learn to manage over the years. In my own journey as a pastor I've learned there is no magic sermon nor words that will remove the pain someone is experiencing. However, there is a power in a physical and spiritual presence. Being there to lighten or help bear the burden is sometimes enough and often all we can do. Our job as Christians is not to fix the problem, but assure the people we love that there is hope. That hope or light may not come today or tomorrow, but it will eventually show up. How can I be so sure? Darkness can never master the Light of Christ. If you have a loved one suffering, suffer with them, for that is exactly what a God does for His Children. That alone can be the difference in making it or not. Godspeed my friends.rm of technology. As a matter of fact, too many of us have become addicted to our smart phones

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