JANUARY 19

The Carpenters in the mid 70’s reminded us: “Rainy days and Mondays always get me down.” But it doesn’t take long to add to the list. Not only do rainy days and Mondays have a tendency to slow us down, but you can also add to the list: political climate, health issues, wayward children, unreal job expectations, financial uncertainty, demanding parents, raising grandchildren, and mosquitoes. I guess the song wouldn’t have had the same ring to it if all those issues were mentioned. Richard would have had a hard time playing it, Karen would find it difficult to sing, and every time we’d have heard it, the channel would be changed.

It doesn’t take long for a life to head south with all the negative things which are happening in our world. All one has to do is turn on the news and listen to the headlines about shutdowns, murder, embezzlement, and corruption. We’re left to ask: “Is there anything positive to celebrate? Before you know it, we become a society of pessimists who always see the glass half empty.

When you become pessimist, a strange thing happens. We not only lose faith in others, but we lose faith in God as well. Do you remember when we’d sing: “Have faith in God, He’s on his throne. Have faith in God, He watches o'er His own. He cannot fail! He must prevail. Have faith in God! Have Faith in God!” Maybe our faith has been placed in the wrong things and the wrong people. Just a thought. Godspeed my friends.

 

JANUARY 18

Have you noticed there are a few people out there who love to live in drama? The sad part of this is, they don’t realize their own craving for type of lifestyle. However, when you talk to them, they’ll tell you about all the drama that’s happening at work, home, school, and even church. But a strange phenomenon happens when you remove these individuals from the equation. The drama all of a sudden comes to a screeching halt. The problem for most of these people is they haven’t quite figured out they’re the source of all the chaos. When I see this in an individual’s life, it literally breaks my heart because that’s not how God intended for us to live.

She one reads the New Testament we run across the words of Jesus where he says: “I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10) He never said he had come that we might live in drama or chaos. If your life is filled with dramatic relationships, I can assure you, it’s not only wearing you out, but it’s wearing most everyone around you out. Maybe it’s time to have a change of heart and disposition. Leave the drama to the soap operas and the politicians. As a child of God, it doesn’t belong in your life. Trust me, when you rid your life of it, things will be smoother, you’ll be happier, and the people around you won’t mind actually being around you. Godspeed my friends.

 

JANUARY 17

There are so many individuals out there who feel as though they have somehow walked beyond God’s grace. The truth of the matter is quite simple. God loves you as you are and not as you ought to be. In other words, stop thinking that you have to clean yourself up and get your act together in order to come before God. Just the opposite is true. All you need to do is fall into his loving arms and allow Him to clean you up and restore the relationship you once held so dear.  But remember, the choice is yours this day. The good news is, God’s already decided to meet you. Godspeed my friends.

 

JANUARY 16

Brad Paisley recorded a song years ago entitled: “Online”. In that song Paisley simply says: “I look so much better online.” Of course he was talking about making his profile look better for a particular dating site. To say he slanted the truth would be an understatement. But have you noticed that most of us look so much better on social media. Man, just scroll down Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat and for the most part, most folks look happy and prosperous. We’re left to think: “Am I the only one not struggling in life?”

However, remember this, people for the most part are going to color their lives the shades which make them look the best. Don’t assume because the picture or the background looks beautiful, that all is well. How do I know that? Because for the most part life is messy and often times ugly. To admit that would mean we’d have to come to grips with our own sins and shortcomings. As Charlie Rich once sang: “No one knows what goes on behind closed doors.” Ah! But someone does. God sees beyond the smoke scream and trick mirrors.

There are no perfect situations because there are no perfect people. Most people are struggling as bad as you and me. The evil one is responsible for putting the notion in your head that you’re the only one. Don’t buy it for a second. God sees the mess and wants to help you clean it up and get healthy. The problem for so many is, they don’t want to admit there’s a problem. So the cycle continues. If you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired. Help is just a prayer away. Godspeed my friends.

 

JANUARY 15

The recent craze on Facebook is comparing your current profile picture to your original profile photo. It’s amazing to see the changes in hair styles and hair colors. Some folks have aged quite well while others, well let’s just say, you’ve changed. I haven’t and don’t intend to do the comparison pictures because I haven’t changed physically a bit since I sign up for Facebook. Be my guest and just scroll through some of my photographs. If you do notice a slight change, negligible to the common eye, it will be due to countless deacons, personnel, budget, and building committee meetings. Those things alone will change a person.

When thinking about this comparison of photos from the past to the present, something crossed my mind. I think it would be interesting to see how much an individual has changed spiritually since they came to know Christ. What if you had such a measuring stick?Would we know, love, follow, service, and obey God deeper today, or would we be stuck in some holding pattern? The Christian faith is all about advancing and growing in our walk with Christ. There’s no neutral position as a child of God. You’re either progressing or regressing.

So how would you look today compared to when you first met Christ? Hopefully you love Him more today than yesterday and less today than tomorrow. Godspeed my friends.

 

JANUARY 14

When I was a child and we’d travel to Memphis, Tennessee or Jackson, Mississippi, we’d often park our in a nearby garage and walk to our destination. When we’d come to a busy intersection my Dad would extend his hand to me and I’d immediately hold it while we crossed the street. This was a common practice of my childhood. You’d hold your parent’s hand while crossing a busy intersection.

It was about the time when I was sixteen and my Dad and I were in Memphis once again. We found ourselves at one of those busy streets and when the time came to cross, Dad floated his hand towards mine. I simply looked at him and said: “I think I’ve got this one.” I’ll never forget the look on his face. He wasn’t trying to embarrass me or make me feel inferior. He was just looking out for his son. He realized at that moment, I didn’t need his assistance. It’s a moment every parent faces sooner or later. There are times when we need to hold on as mothers and dads, and there are times we need to let go.

However, over the last 13 years I’ve missed those hands. There have been moments when I’ve needed a little assistance or guidance in my own life. But in those times when I struggle, there’s another hand that reaches towards me and a small voice that simply says: “I’m here! Don’t be afraid.” It’s the same hand that pulled Peter out of the water. It’s the same hand that touched the blind, the lame, and the deaf. It’s the same hand that’s offered to you when faced with an onslaught of busy traffic at a dangerous intersection in life. Let that hand not only comfort you, but also guide you to safety. It’s the hand of your Heavenly Father. The good news about that hand is it will never leave nor forsake you. Godspeed my friends.

 

JANUARY 13

Yesterday I watched Indianapolis Colts play the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC playoffs. The game was played in Kansas City. Just prior to the kickoff I received a text and pictures from a friend of mine who lives in KC. It seems as though they had gotten nine inches of snow. Just think about that for a moment. Nine inches!!!However, when the game started the stands were filled with fans ready to cheer on their home team. The weather simply wasn’t a factor in attendance. Oh, and by the way, the game was held outside.

Today it’s a bit cool and there’s a chance of rain. I wonder how many folks will allow the weather to determine their church attendance? It would be nice if we were as passionate about our faith as we were about our sports allegiance. If we were serious about our worship and our walk with God, we’d see a huge difference in our cities, schools, homes, and nations. Oh, and by the way, we’re having our church services inside and we also have covered drive throughs. If the church is going to be the church, then God’s people need to get their priorities in order. It’s our only hope for our nation and world. Godspeed my friends.

 

JANUARY 12

Yesterday I watched Indianapolis Colts play the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC playoffs. The game was played in Kansas City. Just prior to the kickoff I received a text and pictures from a friend of mine who lives in KC. It seems as though they had gotten nine inches of snow. Just think about that for a moment. Nine inches!!!However, when the game started the stands were filled with fans ready to cheer on their home team. The weather simply wasn’t a factor in attendance. Oh, and by the way, the game was held outside.

Today it’s a bit cool and there’s a chance of rain. I wonder how many folks will allow the weather to determine their church attendance? It would be nice if we were as passionate about our faith as we were about our sports allegiance. If we were serious about our worship and our walk with God, we’d see a huge difference in our cities, schools, homes, and nations. Oh, and by the way, we’re having our church services inside and we also have covered drive throughs. If the church is going to be the church, then God’s people need to get their priorities in order. It’s our only hope for our nation and world. Godspeed my friends.

 

JANUARY 11

In my lifetime I’ve experienced some awesome adventures. “Bucket List” items as some folks refer to them. These events and experiences have excited and thrilled me. For example, I’ve driven an M1A1 tank. Yep, had a 15 minute crash course and then turned loose on the tank range. I remember being a little overwhelmed and asking my instructor: “What if I wreck this thing?” He replied: “Sir, you cannot wreck an M1A1 Tank!”

I’ve flown in an army helicopter from Jackson, Ms. to camp Shelby and back. You talk about life from a different perspective. I’ve ridden and stayed on a mechanical bull. Wow! What a rush of adrenaline. I couldn’t walk for 30 minutes. I’ve sat in the dugout of the original Yankee Stadium. Now there’s something that sent chills up my spine.

I’ve been to the Holy Land and walked where Jesus walked. You want to talk about a life changing event. After touring Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Campernaum, and Nazareth, one never reads the Bible the same.

I still have some things and people I would like to meet in the future. However, there’s nothing that can compare to seeing another person accept Christ as their Savior and Lord. Second, is seeing someone actually come alive in Christ and take their walk to a different level. The things of this earth are temporal. However, the things from above are eternal. Don’t fall in love with this world, it’s only temporary. Set your mind on the things above. When you do this, you’re Bucket List will become shorter and your Spiritual List will become longer. Godspeed my friends.

 

JANUARY 10

Sometimes it’s hard to start over because the beginning point is so hard to find in life. There are so many of us out there who would like to turn things around in our lives, but we don’t know where to start. Our lives have reached a point where we are absolutely paralyzed emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually. We sing: “Lord to my heart bring back the springtime.” However, our bodies seem to be stuck in “Blue Bayou”. Where do we start?

My Dad would often remind us boys: “Idleness is the devil’s workshop.” Well “spiritual idleness” is his summer and winter homes. What I’m suggesting is simply this. Start somewhere. You don’t have to spend 30 minutes in prayer everyday, but spend some time in prayer everyday. You don’t have to spend 3 hours in Bible study each day, but spend some time in Bible study each day. Don’t you think it’s time to give God the priority in your life that he deserves? When that happens, a funny thing takes place. The snow and the ice around our heart begins to melt away. You can actually start feeling warm again in the middle of winter.

So are you ready? Today is the day you can start the journey. Today you can find the beginning point. Start here and keep moving forward. The Lord is waiting to bless your heart and welcome you back. Godspeed my friends.

 

JANUARY 9

It’s one thing to hurt another individual accidentally by word or deed. It’s quite another to intentionally and calculatingly seek to hurt another. In my opinion, I don’t think Simon Peter intentionally set out to hurt Jesus when he denied him three times. However, Judas on the other hand was deliberate in his plan to betray our Lord and Savior for thirty pieces of silver. The actions of both men were equally painful to their master. The difference is, one deliberately and consciously performed the deed. The other melted to the pressure of the moment and did what he never thought he’d do.

We’ve had or been a part of situations like this in our lives. I know in my own life I’ve been the victim and the culprit. There have been times in my life when I’ve said or done something and had no clue it would hurt another. However, there have also been moments when I’ve said something or did something because I knew it would hurt another. When you deliberately inflict pain on another person it is a clear indication that one isn’t walking closely with Christ. That can’t be disputed. The Christian faith is always about elevating others and never tearing them down.

Several years ago I had what I thought was a friend intentionally tell a lie about me. When confronted as to why he did it, his response was: “I did it to hurt you.” What do you say and what does one do? Forgiveness was granted but trust was never restored.

Over the years I come to understand there are miserable, unstable, unhappy, and yes, evil people out there who love to inflict pain on other people. Allow me to let you in on a little secret. Some are in our churches. Our job is forgive and love and sometimes just move on. We determine how long we’ll let another hold us captive by their actions. Once we forgive them, we move on and wholeness begins. It may be your time to start the journey. Godspeed my friends.

 

 

JANUARY 8

They say that nice guys finish last. Well that theory was totally destroyed last night when the Clemson University Tigers, under the leadership of Dabo Swinney, won their second national championship during his tenure as head coach. Following the game, Swinney simply said: “All the glory goes to the good Lord. Our key word for the year was ‘joy’. Joy comes from focusing on Jesus, other, and then yourself.” In the high dollar days of college football, where sex scandals, abusive behavior, and recruiting violations are the norm. Swinney’s program is different. The atmosphere is different. The culture is different. Oh don’t get me wrong, he has been scrutinized and investigated. However, do you know what the allegation were all about? His program was too religious and Christian centered. These charges have been made by folks who are offended by his Christian stance. It’d be nice to have a few more coaches, teachers, preachers, lawyers, doctors, and business men and women act in such an offensive way.

Last night as the clock ticked down and the game came to a conclusion, even the most diehard Bama fans had a little glow in their hearts. What they’ll tell you is: “If we have to get beat, I rather get beat by Dabo.” After all, he’s a former Bama player, coach, and graduate. He’s also one of Bama’s favorite sons. After all, how can you not like Dabo? Oh, only those he offends with his faith. May his tribe increase. Godspeed my friends.

 

JANUARY 7

Sometimes in our attempts to be sympathetic, empathetic, and comforting to others who are hurting, we utter five words that should never come out of our mouth. Those words are: “I know how you feel.” We make a false assumption that because we have had a similar situation as another individual, we know exactly how that person feels and what we’re experiencing. My friends, that’s just not the case because everyone is different.

First, not all relationships are equal. Let me give you an example. When my father died I lost my Dad, mentor, pastor, compass, and best friend. When people would come up to me and say: “I know how you feel.” I didn’t, but I wanted to say: “With all due respect, you don’t have a clue as to how I feel.” Due to the fact that all relationships are different, and we as individuals are unique, then how we process grief and loss is personal and different from others.

Second, it’s hard to put into words how we feel as individuals, so why do we think we can speak as to the feelings others are experiencing? To be honest, there are times I don’t know if I should laugh or cry due to the circumstances of my life. So if I struggle with my own thoughts, and emotions, I sure don’t need someone else to tell me they know what’s going on in my head and heart.

So what do you say or do? Well, you might want to say: “I gone through a similar situation and can’t imagine the hurt you’re experiencing.” Even better, sometimes just an embrace and a presence is enough to make a difference. Hurting people won’t remember what you said, but they’ll remember if you were there. You don’t have to say anything, your love will be expressed by your actions. Godspeed my friends.

 

JANUARY 6

The ability to remember is a gift from God. Can you imagine what your life would be like if you had no memory at all? Everyday would be a blank page and even the simplest of tasks would be impossible to perform. Our memory helps us to live life in a repetitive manner and also learn new skills as well. But as powerful and important as our memory is, it can also hold us back and actually destroy us.

I believe there are things we certainly need to remember, but there are some things we need to forget. Just as your memory is a gift from God, so is your ability to forget certain things. The Apostle Paul wrote: “One thing I do, forgetting what is behind, I press on.” (Philippians 3:13-14) If you’re going to live productivity in the present, there are some things from the past you need to forget.

At the top of the list of things one needs to forget is our resentment towards others. Far too many folks are still walking around with resentment and anger towards others. We’re angry over a word that was spoken or a deed which someone performed against us in the past. Some of these things have literally frozen your heart and prevented God from moving you forward. You may not be able to forgive and forget, but you can forgive and get on with life. Don’t you think it’s time to let go of a few things in life? When you do, you’re ready to allow God to work in your life in the present. Godspeed my friends.

 

JANUARY 5

I always find it interesting at the start of a new year how many people make resolutions or goals for the next 365 days. Gym memberships always skyrocket in January and for a couple of months, if you’re trying to get on a machine, you can’t because everyone is working out. Dietary habits change at the beginning of a new year because you sure can’t have any discipline during the Christmas season. These things are admirable if one can actually follow through with these life changes. However, few can actually follow through because it takes discipline to implement life changes.

Have you ever thought about spiritual changes that need to take place in one’s life as a new year begins? I can’t tell you how many people will tell me: “After the holidays are over, we’re going to make church a priority.” That’s all well and good, but too many folks are missing the main thing. The priority in an individual’s life isn’t about church attendance, but rather a personal relationship with the living God. One has to spend time with God through Bible study and prayer. If you get those things right, the church gig will take care of itself.

So as a new year begins, resolve yourself to read God’s word each day. If you’ve never read through the Bible, now is a good time to start. Dedicate yourself to spending time with God through prayer. It’s more than just a little talk with God. You can lose weight and get in shape, but also strive to grow this year in your spiritual walk. In the long run you’ll be glad you did. Godspeed my friends.

 

JANUARY 4

The weather over the past few days has made it impossible to get outside and run. However, early this morning I was determined to get in a few miles. As I made my way down the driveway, it started raining again. At that moment there was a call for a decision. Do we press on or turn back for the comfort and dryness of home? Well, the decision was made to forge ahead despite the conditions. It seemed like a good idea for the first 20 minutes. The the rain got harder and the wind blew colder. What do you do? You press on and finish.

There are moments in life when the conditions aren’t optimal. There are days which are dark and cold, and I’m not talking about outside, but rather inside. You reach a point where you wonder if life can get any blacker or harder. What do you do? You press on. Take a deep breath and remember a resource greater than your own strength is available. The presence of God may not remove the rough elements, but it can provide comfort during the difficult days. Rest assured, you can’t hold back the dawn and his light will eventually overtake the darkness.

I didn’t run fast this morning, but I ran. I didn’t run far this morning. But I ran. Sometimes all you can do in the rainy days of life is just move in the right direction regardless of the distance you cover. Godspeed my friends.

 

JANUARY 3

Through out my lifetime there has been a rally cry to put God and the Bible back in our schools. Whereas I agree with this premise, and recently had someone tell me about how mandatory chapel services as a Baptist college had a profound effect on his life. However, I think we’re missing the main problem. Yes our children need some spiritual nurturing during their formidable years, but I think it needs to flow from a different source. We actually need to put God and the Bible back in our homes. You see if there’s going to be a great spiritual awakening in our country, it won’t start in our schools, it’ll start in our homes and churches.

So how is this possible. Well, for one thing we need to remove the false gods we brought into our homes and bowed down to and worshipped. These gods may be the gods of leisure, prosperity, hobbies, and achievements. There’s nothing wrong with these things when put in the proper order. However, the first commandment is: “You will have no other gods before me.”

Second, it’s time to make God’s word a priority. We’ll spend hours surfing social media, but we we won’t spend 15 minutes reading God’s word. If you’ll spend 15 minutes a day reading God’s word, you’ll read through the Bible in a year. Are you up for the challenge. My 6 year old great nephew has taken the challenge to read the New Testament in a year. What about you.

It’s time to stop thinking others are going to fix the spiritual mess we’re in today. You, as a child of God have a chance to light the fire that can actually change our culture. Will you? Godspeed my friends.

 

JANUARY 2

Yesterday I came down with a case of vertigo. Now if you’ve never had this before, it’s hard to understand the misery one suffers. If you had the misfortune of having it, you fully understand what takes place when this hits an individual. There was a time when this condition hit me fairly regularly. In some cases it has landed me in the doctor’s office or the emergency room. However, yesterday’s cases wasn’t the worst, but it was bad enough. Since I haven’t had this illness for a while, I didn’t have my medication with me.

When vertigo hits you, it usually hits you hard. The room starts spinning and all of a sudden you can’t walk in a straight line. It’s like being drunk. (Or so I’ve been told.) Loud noises and bright lights can make your head feel like it’s going to explode. Your whole body feels like it’s in a fog. Fortunately for me, today is another day and to be honest, I feel pretty good. I’m not ready to race, but I can walk a straight line.

Yesterday I posted on Facebook my condition and I appreciate all the prayers and love. Some offered advice and treatment. But for me it just usually has to run it’s course. The same is true in life. Some of you have been hit with grief, tragedy, depression, anxiety, or some physical illness. Everyone is telling you what to do and how to handle it. In the case of physical and emotional illness one certainly needs to consult a physician or counselor. However, there are certain things in life that have to run their course. Unfortunately, no one can run it for you. The good news is, with Christ, you never run it alone.

Today is a new day. It can be the day you start coming out of the fog. Sometimes all it takes is a little time and faith. Godspeed my friends.

 

JANUARY 1

As we close the book on 2018, what will make the new year any different than the last one? For many of us, 2018 was a difficult year filled with challenging days and long hard months. Some of you said goodbye to loved ones and close friends. A few of you had to deal with physical situations you never saw coming. Others of you have had one family crisis after another and it has left you emotionally, mentally, and spiritually drained.

However, for some of you 2018 was the best year you’ve had in quite a while. Your business was great and you can’t remember when things have been better for you and your family. You might have welcomed a new baby into your family. It could be that you finally, I mean finally got all the kids out of the house and off the payroll. When you look back over the last 365 days, things just couldn’t be better.

What does 2019 hold for you and me? Well, one thing’s for sure, you have to look ahead to the present and not live in the past. Maybe we need to close our book of complaints on life for a while. It could be that you need to mend a relationship. Quite possibly, 2019 can be the year of reconciliation with God. Whatever the need, whatever the action, the only thing holding you back is you. So what do you say? Make this the year you do something for your Creator and His Church. There’s no time like the present to get your priorities in order.

I hope you have a great new year and you experience a joy beyond all measure. May God bless you and your family. Godspeed my friends.

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