APRIL 30

Are you familiar with the psychological term, “scripting?” It refers to the messages written in your mind and heart by people of influence throughout your life. These individuals may include: parents, grandparents, teachers, coaches, and ministers. The messages they have written over the course of your life can effect how you view yourself. For example, your parents may have instilled in you that you’re loved. However, to contrast that, other parents have communicated to their children that they don’t measure up to their standards.

One very important scripting which took place in my life happened in the 9th grade. As we were preparing for high school, we had to decide if we were going to take trigonometry or general math. Our teachers at the time helped guide our decision. My teacher told me to take general math. He went on to tell me that I’d never attend college and the best I could ever hope for was an associates degree or some trade school. Basically he told me I was a “bonehead.” (That point has been proven true many times.) As a result, the highest math I ever took in high school was general math. Fortunately, for me, my parents scripted on me: “You can do anything you set your mind to do.”

If you were to look at what God has scripted on your heart, you would read the following: “You are loved.” “You have great worth.” “You are the crown of my creation.” “You are fearfully and wonderfully made.” “ I died so that you might live.” “I was raised on the third day so that you might rise with me.” Listen to the voice of the one who created you. Let Him finish the story you’re writing. After all, He is the author, perfecter of our faith. You are His child. Never, ever, settle for less. Godspeed my friends.

 

APRIL 29

Yesterday was one of those days of constant motion. How many activities can we squeeze in 24 hours. Now I have to admit, the choices to do as much was no one’s fault but my own. Following our morning worship service, I quickly changed clothes and headed to Starkville to watch us complete the sweep of Georgia in baseball.

When the baseball game was over, I had to quickly come home, shower, and change clothes for an associational meeting in West Point. The highlight of that service was getting to hear my friend, Jim Futral preach.

On the way coming home last night, there was a stop at the hospital I needed to make. A young couple in our church family have just welcomed their new child into this world. I didn’t have an opportunity to see the new mom, dad, and baby, but I did get to visit with the grandparents. Now, I’ve visited new parents throughout my ministry and never been so moved emotionally. You see this is a special child. The reason why? Well, that’s not my story to tell. All I kept thinking was the story of Hannah and her son Samuel. “This is the child I prayed for. For his whole life he will be given unto the Lord.” Don’t ever take the miracle of childbirth for granted. It’s still one of God’s greatest works. Godspeed my friends.

 

APRIL 28

My Dad passed away in March of 2005 and my mother in August of 2007. Still till this day there are moments I miss them so much that I can hardly breathe. I long to share this journey called life with them. There’s no telling how many times I’ve found myself in need of their encouragement and wisdom. However, the feeling of love and acceptance they gave me is always with me. I know this sounds silly, but every Sunday I wear the ring my father gave me and usually the pair of cuff links as well. I always have on the watch my mother gave me as it has engraved her birthday and date of death on the back. Their spirit lives in me.

Likewise, when Jesus left his disciples, He said I will send another, an advocate. You and I know Him as the the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was never meant to take the place of Jesus, but rather extend His role. It is the Holy Spirit who teaches us and guides us in the direction God wants us to go. If we are walking and living by the Spirit, we will love and keep God’s commands. However, the commands are not a list of rules nor just a lifestyle. It is following the example Christ embodied on this earth. Just as my parents spirit lives in me, so should the Holy Spirit dwell in me and teach me about God.

The only way to have true peace in your life is to live and walk by the Spirit of God. The good news, He’ll never leave nor forsake you. Godspeed my friends.

 

APRIL27

In Dr. Seuss’s book, “Oh the Places You Will Go,” he reminds us that in life we may end up in a slump. Seuss tells his readers: “Unslumping yourself isn’t easily done.” I’m not sure a truer statement has ever been made. Getting out of a slump is one of the hardest things to do in life.

We often equate slumps with sports, especially baseball. The announcers may say the following about a particular player: “He mired in an 0-25 slump.” Or, you might her that another athlete can’t find his/her way out of a winless slump. It is said about golf: “To play good and know it will end...To play bad and think it will never end.” However, what’s true in sports is also true in life.

There are so many slumps we find ourselves in during our journey here on earth. There are physical slumps, emotional slumps, relationship slumps, and even spiritual slumps. In order to unslump yourself, you have to acknowledge the problem. But there is hope for all who find themselves in this position. Wherever you are in your journey, you’re not alone. What I’ve come to understand in my life when I deal with slumps, if I get unslumped with God, the rest usually fall into place. Start there in your life. Everyone goes through this, however, the serious one learn how to get out of the slump. Don’t you think it’s your turn now? Godspeed my friends.

 

APRIL 26

You can pick your friends but you can’t pick your family. Sorry, you’re stuck with each other. My oldest brother Al always says: “I love my brothers, warts and all.” Too be honest, I’m always grateful for his acceptance because I have a lot of warts. So remember, you have a responsibility to love and accept your family. Now don’t misunderstand me, you don’t have condone bad behavior nor an unhealthy life style, but you have to love your family, warts and all.

The same is true with your extended family as well. When you marry someone, you marry their entire family...warts and all. When I do premarital counseling, one of the first questions I ask is: “How do you get along with his/her parents?” Sometimes the response is: “I’m not marrying his/her parents.” Oh but you are! So when you pick a spouse, guess who else you pick? Yep, you got it. You pick the entire family. That doesn’t mean you have to be buddy, buddy with everyone in the family, but you need to love and respect them.

I’ve noticed, however, through the years, there are two things that will change a person. Getting married and having a child. (By the way, you might think money changes a person. It doesn’t. It only heightens and brings out the true character of an individual.) I’ve witnessed how individuals treat their in laws before they get married and after. And it’s not the same. I’ve seen the same thing before a child is born and after. So what changed? I Timothy 5:8 basically says: “Those who don’t care for their families are worse than the infidels.” And we know we’re to honor our father and mother,” (Exodus 20:12.) Put your family in a win-win situation by getting along with your family. It’s hard to walk with God when you can’t even walk with your family. Godspeed my friends.P

 

APRIL 24

Be careful about how you judge the actions of others, for the very sin you abhor may come and lodge in your life. Let me give you an example. Early in my ministry I had a deacon who had zero tolerance for divorce. For some reason in his mind that was the unpardonable sin as far as holding a leadership position in the the church. I can’t tell you how many discussions we had on the subject, nevertheless, he was immovable on his position. That was until his son got divorced. Then he saw the matter through different lenses. You see he never dreamed that situation would ever hit so close to home and when it did, his mind, theology, and position on the subject changed.

It’s easy to sit back and cast stones towards the actions of others. After all, their sins are much worse than ours. However, the last time I checked, sin is sin. There is no big sin, little sin, and medium size sin. Just always remember how you judge the actions of others is the same measure God uses to judge yours. I have found over the years that I’m in no position to judge anyone due to the sinful nature of my own life. As we have been reminded time and time again: “It’s our job to love, the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, and God’s job to judge.” I don’t want my words on condemnation to come back and bite me in the rear when I least expect it. Trust me, neither do you. Godspeed my friends.

 

APRIL 23

Yesterday I had the opportunity to spend the day with my best friend and my grandson. That’s a day which is hard to beat. In the course of our time together, my friend said: “Over the years, because of our friendship, I’ve come to understand the human side of the pastor.” However, he went on to say: “The sad part about it is, too many people in the church have set a standard that no man can reach.” Unfortunately, my friend is spot on in his assessment.

Over the years, due to circumstances beyond my control and in my control, I’ve learned that I can only let so many people in my life. In other words, there are very few people I can trust completely. Even recently I learned that when you let your guard down around individuals you think love and care for you, there’s a pretty good chance you’re going to get burned. In this day and time it has almost become impossible to fully trust someone with your ministry for fear that they may turn against you.

So what does that mean for a minister. It actually means there are many lonely days and lonely nights. For the minister’s family? There’s always the lingering question in their mind: “Who’s going to be the one next to get a bee in their bonnet?” I’ve had people tell me: “You couldn’t pay me enough to do your job.” I always reply the same way: “Me either.” Godspeed my friends.

 

APRIL 22

Sometimes as pastors we need a wake up call as to why we do the things we do. This past Friday night we had our annual Tenebrae service which is a service of darkness. Now you have to realize, from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday we have 8 services observing Holy Week. Due to the weather and other circumstances out of our control, we had to totally redo our Friday night service. Our team worked hard to pull that night together.

However, due to the fact that we were under flash flood warning and other weather conditions, or maybe our people were just tired, it was the lowest attended service of the week. To be honest, I was frustrated, disappointed, and embarrassed. In my seven years of serving this church, this was the most disappointed I had been. I had totally forgotten two important things. First, our crowds had been tremendous during the week. Second and most important, I forgot who we were doing the service for that night. We had an audience of one.

I was reminded of a story one of my seminary professors told us one day in class. He had attended an Evening Song service in Europe at a famous cathedral. Upon his arrival he noticed the crowd was small. He expressed his disappointment to the Bishop at the lack of attendance that night. The Bishop responded: “We don’t do it for them.” Point noted and received. Sometimes even we pastors need to be reminded of this important fact. Godspeed my friends.

 

APRIL 21

Today of course is Easter Sunday which means large attendance in most churches. Many of our congregations will be full because families travel home to be with their parents for the weekend. Nevertheless, most churches will be busting at the seams and the shouts of Hallelujah! He has risen! will reverberate throughout our country. But do we really believe it? Do we claim it as our own?

When I was serving at my first church while attending seminary, each year on Easter one family showed up for worship. They took a group picture in front of the church, worshipped with us, then we didn’t see them for another year. I wanted to wish them a Merry Christmas as they exited each time, but thought better of it.

Next Sunday will tell the tale if we really believe what we cry this day. Lord knows our churches need a little boost and excitement. Where will you be next Sunday? Don’t make this a one time deal. Godspeed my friends.

 

APRIL 20

I’ve had several people say to me: “All this stuff about Jesus’s resurrection, you can’t prove it really happened.” In reality I can’t scientifically and historically prove the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Ultimately it has to be accepted by faith. Faith, as you know is believing in things we don’t see nor fully understand. However I can point to a couple of things that would suggest it really happened.

First is the reaction and response of his disciples. Remember, they were all in hiding following his execution. All of their hopes and dreams had been destroyed after his death. However, something changed to turn these sniveling cowards into flaming evangelists and preachers. After they met the Risen Lord everything changed. As a result of their preaching and faith, all of them were martyred for their actions. Only John, who was placed in isolation on the island of Patmos, died of natural causes. Do you really think these men would have died for a hoax?

Second, none of the ancient historians, such as Josephus, refuted the resurrection. If in fact all of this talk about a death, burial, and resurrection of a Jewish Carpenter was just a bunch of lies, the historians of his time would have gone to great lengths to deny it. They didn’t.

Finally, how do I know the resurrection is fact? It’s simple to me. “You ask me how I know he lives? He lives within my heart.” Mic

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