April 19

There are individuals out there that think they’ve somehow walked beyond the grace and love of God. As they examine their life, they’re constantly reminded of the the mistakes and bad choices they’ve made throughout their life. If that describes you, then you need to hear the following:  Just because you’ve made a mistake does mean you are a mistake. There’s no place too far that God can’t reach you and restore your life. The question you must ask yourself is, are you tired of the same old things. If so, then be of good cheer because God is making all things new. If you’re going to run, then run towards Him. You’ll find the distance isn’t nearly as far as you thought. Godspeed my friends.

 

April 18

I’m not a big fan of autocorrect on text messages and Facebook. It does come in handy when you need to spell a difficult word, but it can make for an embarrassing situation if you press send before you proofread your message.

Over the years as I’ve typed out a morning messages to you, there have been times when autocorrect doesn’t have a clue. For instance, when typing the word “God”, autocorrect sometimes inserts “a god”. Now I’m no genius, but my God isn’t “a god”, but rather He is the only God!!!! Apart from him, there is no other. We often hear in our world today that all roads lead to the same place and the same God. That’s a devil’s lie and don’t you believe it for one minute. In the 14th chapter of John, Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes unto the Father except through me.” That simply tells me that there’s one God and only one way to get to him. Any other concept makes Jesus out to be a liar.

The most important verse in the Bible is Genesis 1:1. “In the beginning God”. You can stop right there. Everything we believe and follow hinges on that verse. He is the God that has always been and will always be. The question you need to ask yourself this morning is very simple. Do you know him? I pray you do and if you don’t, I pray you’ll find him. The road sign is marked “Jesus Christ”. Godspeed my friends.

 

April 17

There are little things in life which can make a huge difference. They may not seem significant to others, but it can be the difference in how one actually views and navigates life itself. Let me explain and give you an example.

Yesterday was one of those days in the ministry which makes your job hard. After a drive to Jackson and a visit with a hurting family, my heart was pretty heavy. I decided to drive to Clinton and surprise my daughters in their classroom. The look on their faces when they saw me was priceless. No matter how old your children are, they’re still your children. Our visit was brief to say the least, but it was the shot in the arm I needed at that moment. As we parted, the sweetest words ever spoken was what carried me all the way home. “I love you Daddy. Thanks for dropping by.”

I think in a similar sense there are moments when we least expect it in life when God drops in for a visit. It might be in the most hectic of circumstances, but there’s a touch on our shoulder and a gentle reminder that he’s there. When that happens, take a few moments and just say: “I love you Father. Thank you for all you do.” You’ll be surprised at the difference it makes in your day and ultimately in your life. Godspeed my friends.

 

April 16

There are things I don’t understand and a pastor and as a Christian. Some circumstances which happen in life leave me baffled to say the least. Last week we had two precious baby boys born into our church family. As a matter of fact, I had the honor of holding both of those children in my arms and praying with the new parents. However, things have a way of changing.

One of those babies will make his journey to his new home today. His Mom and Dad will pack up everything in that hospital room and make the journey home with all the excitement and uncertainty that goes with raising a child. Things will be different from this moment on, but as of this moment, everything looks good.

However, the other family had a different journey. Just about an hour after I held that precious child, we received notice that he had been airlifted to the children’s hospital in Jackson, Ms. You see, while he was on his mother’s womb, there were parts of his little body that hadn’t fully developed. ReconstructI’ve surgery has been done to help this child live a normal and healthy life. However, he still has a long way to go.

How do you reconcile the fact that one child is healthy and the other is in ICU? The question isn’t always so simple. But I do understand that we live in a world where unpleasant and bad things happen to good people. In those moments we can’t flee from our faith, but rather we must embrace it and run to our Heavenly Father. Don’t take the small things in life for granted and when the storms of life rain down, trust and follow God. Even when you don’t understand. Sometimes that’s all we have to cling to as believers. For me, it is enough in my my moments of uncertainty. He’s never let me down. Godspeed my friends.

 

April 15

Without question, John 3:16 is the most beloved and familiar passage in the Bible. However, because of its familiarity, it has lost a bit of its power and punch. Most of us can grasp the idea of a God who is omnipresent , omnipotent, controlling, and one who creates. However, we often struggle with a God who is so inclusive that He loves the entire world. Some of us have a difficult time believing God could love someone like us. But remember, God’s is different from our concept of love. It’s always more than we can imagine.

As humans, we don’t find it hard to love a precious new born baby. It’s not difficult to love someone who is beautiful or kind. The reason is, preciousness, beautiful, and kindness acts like a magnet which attracts people quite easily. However, someone who has nothing to offer but a life of sinfulness and an abundance of bad mistakes believes they have nothing in their life to love. Here’s where that passage of scripture becomes so radical and earthshaking. God takes the initiative to love the seemingly unlovable. He loves us as we are and not as we ought to be. No one is beyond the love and grace of God.

Here this verse again: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” That is a love and a promise that you can claim today. Godspeed my friends.
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April 14

Last night we attended the “Wizard of Oz”, presented by the Annuciation Middle School here in Columbus. What an outstanding job they did in reenacting this timeless classic. The sets, costumes, and characters far exceeded my expectations. Sometimes we fail to realize how talented young people are these days. Especially when they are challenged to reach deep outside their comfort zone. This will be an experience that will serve these students well as they move forward in their lives.

During the play, I was struck by one of the lines delivered by the character Dorothy. In the middle of her encounter with the Munchkins she made this observation: “People don’t stay around here very long.” I’m not sure if that line is in the original production, but it caught my attention. (I did however remember the words from the Lollipop Guild.) How true and prophetic that statement is for us to remember.

The truth of the matter is, all of us are here on this earth for a relatively short time. Even if we live to be eighty years old, it’s short compared to eternity. People don’t stay around here very long. So with that in mind, we need to say what needs saying and do what needs doing. James in his short epistle notes: “Life is like a vapor.” It’s here one moment and gone the next. With that in mind, you better make it count with those closest to you. Who knows what tomorrow might bring? Don’t live with the regret of what you didn’t do. Who knows what may happen over the rainbow? Godspeed my friends.

 

April 13

It’s a big day in a toddler’s life when their car seat is turned to face forward. For over a year that child has only seen where they’ve been instead of where they’re going. For the first time they can actually see Mom and Dad and not just hear their voices. It’s hard for us to imagine the excitement in their lives when their entire perspective is changed with just an adjustment in one seat. Now all things are new every time they take a ride. I would think this thought has to run through their mind: “So this is what I’ve been missing!”

The same is true with our own lives. Far too many of us are living in the past. We’re concentrating on where we’ve been, what we’ve done, and who we were. He continue to hold on to the victories, the defeats, the pain, and the misery of the past. The problem with this philosophy is, it robs you of the joy of today. Listen close, you aren’t what you use to be and thank God you’re not what you’re going to be.

Don’t you think it time you made a simple adjustment in your vantage point on life? It’s time to stop harboring feeling of resentment, regrets, shame and guilt. God desires to make all things new in your life. The old can pass away and the new had infinite possibilities for an abundant life. The only thing holding you back is your pride and resentment. Stop looking back at where you’ve been and start looking where God is leading you. The choice is all up to you. Imagine the excitement that awaits you in this day and in the days to come. Just turn the seat around. Godspeed my friends.

 

April 12

I’ve had people ask me over the years: “How old do you have to be to get married?” My reply is similar to my Dad’s answer. “You have to be an adult, because marriage is for adults only.” That means it’s different ages for different people. We live in an adult world where we have to make adult decisions. The problem with many parents is, they never let their children reach adulthood where they actually have to face life on their own. We as parents do our adult children a disservice when we try to swoop in and fix all their problems. In doing so, our children never grow up.

This past week my daughter was in an automobile accident. Fortunately for us, only the car was damaged. My first inclination was to get on the phone and start trying to help them out. In a matter of moments I was remembered she was married and together with her husband, they could figure it out. Over the last few hours I’ve learned that they are quite capable of doing life without Daddy’s involvement. (It’s hard because as a father, you always want to be needed.) But on the other hand she’s learning how to do life.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with helping your children as long as you’re not enabling them. The sooner they find out that life is tough, hard and unfair, the better off they will be. After all, isn’t that how we were raised? Godspeed my friends.

 

April 11

Last week I was away from home for five days. During that time there was no chance for me to get in my morning runs. As a result when the dust had finally settled, it had been over a week since my feet hit the pavement. There are two things you need to know. First, I live in constant fear of being out of shape. That alone motivates me each day. Second, the longer you go without exercising, the easier it is to just blow it off. This past Monday morning was the day and let me tell you, it was hard to get out of the bed and get going. Tuesday wasn’t much easier as well. But the routine is now back in place.

The same is true with our relationship with God and his church. The longer we’re away from both, the easier it is to stay away. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a conversation with an individual or family and they have told me: “We just got out of the habit of going to church.” Others have stated similar feelings by suggesting: “I use to feel so close to God, but now I can’t remember the last time I prayed. I’m not sure how to get back to Him.”

Does that sound familiar? We all go through those moments of spiritual staleness and wilderness wandering in our lives. We want to feel the vitality we once felt in our faith, but we’re not sure how to get back. To compound the problem, the evil one comes to our ear and whispers: “God’s mad at you because you’ve drifted too far.” Don’t believe that lie! Do you remember the old hymn we sang that reminded us: “If you take one step towards the Savior my friend, you’ll find his arms open wide.” That’s what you need to hear. Stop making excuses and just start doing. It may be hard in the beginning, but it will get easier. Now is the time. I pray you’ll make this a priority in your life. Godspeed my friends.

 

April 10

Today is one of those days for reflection and gratitude. You see, today would have been my Dad’s 97th birthday. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t miss his wisdom and guidance. For you see, when I lost my Dad, I lost my father, pastor, mentor, and best friend. He was the one I looked to when times in the ministry got hard. He was always able to help me understand the situation I was dealing with and how to address it. When he was gone, I felt like my compass was lost. There are days in my life when I wish I had the opportunity to talk to him just one more time. However, I’m thankful for the spiritual base he and my Mom provided for me and my brothers.

Also on this day in 2004, Tommi Jo’s Dad went to be with the Lord at the age of 60. Wes and I had a deep relationship that went beyond a son-in-law and a father-in-law. He treated me as one of his own. Because of that, I will be eternally grateful. I hope and pray that I can be half the father-in-law he was to me to my two son-in-law’s. I fear that such a standard is hard to live up to for me.

I preached both of their memorial services upon their deaths. When I look back, I really don’t remember much of what I said or did. However, I do remember the emptiness that was in my heart and the brokenness that I felt and still do to some degree today. I would say these two men had more of an impact on my life than anyone. There’s a fear that constantly haunts me that I can never measure up to the example they set.

In the midst of grief and sorrow, there’s a hope that I claim. Though they’re no longer here, I know exactly where they are. I don’t grieve for them for they’re better than they’ve ever been. I just miss them so much. Thank you Dad and Wes for always loving me even though there have been moments when I’ve let you down. No man has ever been more blessed than me to have had men like you in his life. Godspeed to both of you. I love and miss you both.

 

April 9

A couple of weeks ago, I was in my front yard picking up trash. For some reason my yard serves as a giant garbage can for all those who pass by my house. As I made my way through the slope on my lawn, I noticed something unusual. There were deer tracks in a muddy section of my yard. Evidently, one night a huge deer walked from the other side of the road straight through my yard and right beside my house. In the six plus years that we’ve lived here, I’ve never once seen a deer on my property. However, the tracks prove that indeed they have not only been here, but they’ve been close.

In a similar sense, throughout my life there have been moments when I’ve questioned the presence of God. I’ve wondered where He has been in the midst of my pain, grief, suffering and aloneness. For all of us there are moments in our spiritual journey when we ask God: “Are you with me and do you even care about me?” When one is struggling in the darkness it’s hard not to feel isolated and abandoned. Some of the greatest saints who ever walked the face of the earth have felt the same way. Those heroes include, Elijah, Jeremiah, Job, and even John the Baptist.

However, when we stop for a moment and look back on our lives we see His footprints all over our lives and circumstances. Even when we didn’t see Him or feel Him, He was there. The tracks of his footprints prove that over and over. He never promised us a life free from heartache and pain, but he has promised us that nothing will separate us from his love and presence. Look back and you’ll see a His tracks made all the difference. Godspeed my friends.

 

April 8

Have you ever heard the term, “The G.O.A.T.? I have to be honest, several years ago I had to google the meaning of this word. I was familiar with the “scapegoat” and given a chance I could give you a list of folks who acted like an “old goat.” However, this word and the way it was used was new to me. The term G.O.A.T. is an acronym for “The Greatest of All Time. For the most part it is an expression used in sports. It denotes the greatest player to play a particular sport. For instance, many think Michael Jordan and Tom Brady are the Goats of their particular disciplines. The problem with making such a claim is, it’s always subjective. Everyone has their own opinion.

But on the other hand, when you talk about the greatest person who ever lived, there is no debate. It’s quite simple. The answer is an overwhelmingly obvious. It was Jesus Christ. From his birth to his death he demonstrated the qualities of greatness. But what made him so unique is, the greatest he demonstrated wasn’t for his glory, but rather for the glory of the Father. In other words, it was a life which reflected the love, grace and mercy of a loving God.

The good news for us is when we accept his free gift of salvation, we share in his greatness. What he did, what he said, how he lived and why he died, was for you and for me. Furthermore, he calls us to live a life of greatness through service and faith. Remember, God judges greatness much different from the world. We can’t share in his suffering, but we can share in his victory. The greatest of all time calls us to a life and journey of greatness. Don’t you think it’s time you joined him and lived up to his standards? He’s waiting. Godspeed my friends.

 

April 7

There are still good people in this world and don’t you doubt it for a moment. Also, you never know when one act of kindness will lead to another. Sometimes it’s like a line of dominos, it only takes one to start the chain of action. Let me give you an example.

Wednesday at the Par 3 Tournament at the Masters, we sat in the same place we’ve been for years. We like the spot because the players walk right by us after they hit their shots off of the eighth tee. We can also see the play at hole nine. In the past it has also been a great place to get autographs. One year I got 56 players to sign my pin flag. Over the years they’ve limited autographs to two places. Around the practice range and off of nine green at the Par 3. Still some players sign in our location. I’ve retired from autograph seeking because it’s just not worth it anymore to me.

Sitting behind us were two children from Mexico who were attending the Masters with their mother. The children included a 9 year old boy and a beautiful 6 year old girl. (Oh, and by the way, they spoke little or no English.) They wanted to get some autographs, but had nothing to get signed. I told them they could get their badge signed and off we went. They quickly filled up that small badge and had nothing else to get autographed. I had nothing else as well. A nice gentleman had been watching this all unfold and brought out a pin flag he had bought. He gave it to the children out of the kindness of his heart. Now it was game on.

One of the best groups playing was Jordan Speith, Justin Thomas, and Ricky Fowler. There was no way they could stop and sign. When Fowler walked by, he hand my little girl a golf glove. When I looked closer at it, I noticed not only had he worn it, but he had already signed it. The mother was in tears. She said: “All they wanted was a few signatures and now look. However, she did have to ask he who Ricky Fowler was. So what.

At the end of the day we all got a group picture taken by the mother. Hopefully she’ll email me a copy. All this took was a little attention and kindness. That man didn’t have to give up his flag, but he did and it made the day of two children. You never know what one act of kindness will do. Godspeed.

 

April 6

Yesterday I had the opportunity to meet two new friends at The National in Augusta, Georgia. One was the former Athletic Director at Auburn and the other was an independent business man in Las Vegas. Somehow, some way, the conversation turned to the fact that I was a minister. After that, the questions about faith and theology began to pour forth.

One asked: “Are you a ‘Jesus Christian’ or a ‘Paul Christian’?” My response was: “Well, since the Bible tells us that there’s no other way to be saved other than by the name of Jesus, then I’m going to say that I’m a Jesus Christian. However, what you need to realize is that Paul was a Jesus Christian as well. Before his conversion experience he was a rule follower. After the Damascus Road experience he became a Jesus follower.”

Another question which was asked was concerning small children, special needs individuals, and those who have never heard about Jesus. Of course I told them that those who never reach the age of accountability are fine in the eyes of God. In the other case, I told them that God gives everyone an opportunity to respond to his love. The level of their understanding may be different, but no one will not have an opportunity to experience the grace of God. I went on to say that God doesn’t hold us accountable for what we don’t know, but he does hold us accountable for what we do know. So therefore, we in our country are without excuses. Furthermore, there are many things I don’t understand, but I trust God to figure them out.

We are told to always be ready to give a defense of our faith. There were plenty other questions asked as well. At the end of our time we shook hands and parted friends. It was interesting to say the least. Godspeed my friends.

 

April 5

There are still good people in our world. Most folks don’t want to believe it, but it’s true. Tune in tomorrow for a story that will bless your heart. Be looking for me this afternoon on 14 tee box. I’ve got some golf to go watch. God bless you and I’ll see you back here tomorrow. Godspeed and today is a tradition unlike any other.

 

April 4

I hope today is finding all of you doing well. As many of you know, I’m in my happy place this week. After 11 worship services last week, my mind and my body needs a little time away. The same is true for my morning writings.  I’ll be back on schedule soon, but you probably need a break from me. Each one of you have been such an encouragement and a blessing to me. May God’s richest blessings be with all of you. Godspeed my friends.

 

April2

So, now that Easter has come and gone, what do you plan to do with Jesus? The special services are over. He’s been crucified and raised from the dead. The celebration and hallelujahs have quieted down. So now, what will you do with the cross? Hopefully you will deny yourself and take up your own cross and follow Him. Give him the best of your life for the rest of your life. Godspeed my friends.

 

April 1

All of us at one time or another have felt the cold finger of death as it has touched our lives. It may be the loss of a family member, friend, or neighbor. Death seems to come at us unexpectedly and sometimes unannounced. Death dashes our dreams and destroys our future. It leaves us feeling empty and at times without hope. If you’ve ever experienced the sting of death then you need to be reminded of this. Today, thousands of preachers will stand behind a pulpit and boldly proclaim the death of death.

You see, over 2000 years ago someone killed death. Yes, Death Died and it wasn’t by natural causes. Someone took death by the throat and squeezed the very life out of him. That person was Jesus Christ. There’s no need to look for other suspects. He did it when he rose from the dead. As we worship today, remember death has no grip for those who are in Christ Jesus. As a matter of fact, death is swallowed up in victory.

For the believer, when we walk through the shadow of death our lives are elevated to a higher level of living. You might not believe in a life after death and if you don’t, friend you’re making a mistake that will cost you eternity in a place that’s prepared for prepared people. “Death, where is your sting? Death where is your victory?” All things are made new through the resurrection of Christ. Celebrate that! Sing about that! Claim that today and Easter will mean everything to you. Godspeed my friends. He is Risen!

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