March 31

Several years ago while pastoring another church, we were on a staff retreat. Our task was to plan the calendar for the upcoming year. As we started planning Easter, I shared with the team my vision for Holy Week. One of the aspects of that week was our Good Friday Tenebrae service. I wanted to climax the week and the service with a live crucifixion scene outside. In my mind’s eye, a visual picture of what Jesus did would be more powerful than any sermon or music we could present. What followed in our discussion was something I hadn’t anticipated.

Instead of this idea being embraced by the team, much to my surprise, it received a great deal of pushback. I was told to do such an event might traumatize some of the people including the children. Was the risk worth the negative feedback we might receive from the people? Now I’m a bit simple in my approach and thinking. But I kept thinking: Every Christmas in our big musical, we always had the Nativity scene included in the production. My question was: “How can we do Easter justice without a cruxifixction scene? Well, to be transparent, I dug my heels in and said this was something we were going to do. Much to the surprise of many, it was the most moving part of our week.

The problem with so many of of as Christians is, we really don’t want to see a bloody, half beaten, half dead Jesus. For when we see such an image we have to come face to face with our own sinfulness. We’d much rather see a resurrected Christ because after all, that’s what Easter is all about, isn’t it? Yes and no. True, his glorious resurrection defeated death and Hell. But friends, his suffering paid the price for our salvation. We can’t share in his suffering, so we better be thankful for it. I have to see the stripes and the wounds, for it is by them that I am healed. Hallelujah! What a Savior. Godspeed my friends.


March 30

Don’t be so quick to run to the empty tomb without reflecting on what happened on Good Friday. Remember the pain, humiliation, abandonment, disgrace, and death. Calvary was a reality. He loved you enough to die in your place so that you may experience life everlasting. Thank you Jesus for all you did for me. Such love requires a response from all of us. We either accept it or reject it. There is no neutral ground. Godspeed my friends.


March 29

 

Last night, about an forty-five minutes before our Wednesday Holy Week service, I got the surprise of a lifetime. I looked up and sudden saw a young man I pastored six years ago appear in our sanctuary. He’s a senior at Troy University and his night class had been canceled so he decided to drive up for our service. I told him he was in for a treat as our guest speaker was Bill Harden, one of the finest preachers in the state.

 

I’ve watched in amazement at how God has used this young man. He has given him the opportunity to speak at several DiscipleNow weekends and he has basically been the chaplain for his fraternity. Currently he’s pastoring a small church in south Alabama and plans to attend seminary in the near future. He has all the ability and potential to become a great leader and preacher in our denomination. He was 12 when I became his pastor. Now at the age of 22 he’s poised to become something special for the Kingdom.

 

Last night as I closed our service, I did so by reciting Hebrews 13: 20-21. “May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

When I got home last night he texted me the following. “I close out every service with that benediction.” A tear ran down my cheek as I thought: “I guess in a time when I felt lost and abandoned, God still used me in some way. Thanks Heath, for blessing my heart. You did more for me than I ever could have done for you. Godspeed, preach the word in season and out.

 

March 28

Each year as I journey through this event we know as “Holy Week “ or “Passion Week, my heart is overwhelmed by a flood of emotions. I experience sorrow, shame, inadequacy, and heart break. When you consider the events that surrounded the last week of our Lord’s life, how can one not be moved to tears and gratitude?

 

Think about it for a moment. He was betrayed by a friend. Convicted of a crime he never committed. Beaten within a inch of his life. Humiliated in-front of his mother. Mocked and insulted by people he forgave. Endured the pain and the suffering on the cross. Felt the abandonment of his followers and his Heavenly Father. He died alone on a wooden cross. One cannot imagine the suffering and horror surrounding such an event.

 

However, what moves me so much and drives me to my knees is the fact that he did that for me. Furthermore, he did that for you. As you walk through this week remember, such love demands a response from you and me. It requires our best. The question we need to ask ourselves is: Are we willing to give it to Him? After all, he deserves it. Godspeed my friends.



March 27

 

Over the years I have the opportunity to to invite different people to special events. Some of these events include football games, basketball games, baseball games and even musicals. There something special that happens when you extend an unexpected invitation to another person. Their eyes light up and there’s an excitement they can’t contain. In their minds a thought runs through their head: “Wow, he thinks enough of me to asked me to attend this function with him!” On the other side, it fun to see that exuberance in another’s eyes. All it takes is a little effort and a few words.

 

Likewise, this coming Sunday is Resurrection Day in the life of believers in Christ. Across our nation, thousands of preachers will stand behind a pulpit and proclaim a message of hope, truth, and life. But we need your help. All we need from you is a little effort and a few words. Invite someone you know to church. It may be a co-worker, a neighbor, a friend, or a family member. You have an extra ticket and we all have a vacant seat waiting to be filled with another individual.

 

Studies have revealed that when invited to church, most people will respond positively and attend. So what are you waiting for? Eternity for many is hanging in the balance. Will you commit to investing in one person’s life? Who knows what God will do with your effort. Our world need a huge dose of Jesus and it’s about time we did our part. Are you with me. I hope so because God is in the business of changing lives. Let’s be fishers of men, women, boys, and girls and allow God to change and clean the fish. Godspeed my friends.



March 26

 

The other night, while eating in a local restaurant, a lady came up to our table and asked me: “Are you the guy I see running each morning around the Pleasant Hill area?” I replied: “Yes I am.” She went on to say: “I’m the bus driver that passes you each morning.” A little later I went up to her table and asked her: “Do you have any trouble seeing me in the mornings.” I’m always concerned about my safety with oncoming traffic. I wear a reflective vest and a flashlight on my cap. She smiled and said: “I can see your reflection from that vest for miles.”

 

I thought about what she said for a couple of days. “I can see your reflection for miles.” In a real sense, shouldn’t the world see the reflection of Christ in our lives each and every day? In our work place, shouldn’t others see Jesus in our actions? At school, our friends and teachers should see the radiant reflection of the Father in our lives. Everyday we are a witness or a reflection of something or someone. Your actions and words with always betray you or give credence to your faith. So we better be careful of the light or the darkness our lives are giving off to others.

 

What are you reflecting today in your life. I’d never noticed the driver of that school bus, but she sure noticed and saw me. You better believe the world is noticing you. Reflect Christ and all he stands for each day. Godspeed my friends.



March 25

 

Have you ever considered how quickly your life can change? In just a mater of minutes or hours you can go from the highest of the high to the lowest of the low. It happened to me in August, 2007. On a Sunday night we celebrated an installation service at our new place of ministry only to learn 12 hours later that my mother had passed away. You talk about your extremes emotionally, I’m not sure I’ve ever gone from 100 mph to zero so fast. Everything changed, and not for the good.

 

In a similar fashion, the same thing happened in the life of our Lord and Savior over 2000 years ago. On Palm Sunday he entered the Holy City of Jerusalem to the shouts of the people: Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! It was really a cry of “Save us now!” A few days later he was betrayed by a friend. Denied by one of his closest companion. Accused of a crime he never committed. Abandoned by his followers. Ultimately he was publicly executed like a common criminal. Literally he was hailed one minute and nailed the next. However, he was prepared for the journey.

 

When life stops on a dime and does a complete 180, will you be prepared? I can tell you this, the events of life will either draw you closer to God or move you away from His felt presence. This is Holy Week and it’s a time to prepare you for whatever life deals you. It’s going to happen regardless, so you might as well walk hand in hand with the Savior. Godspeed my friends.



March 24

Have you ever noticed how bad you feel when you’re out of fellowship with a friend? There’s been a misunderstanding, a conflict and all of a sudden a few words are spoken and the relationship is on shaky ground. You want to restore the sweet spirit that once existed, but pride stands in your way. After all, you didn’t do anything wrong. Or so you think and after all, perception is reality. Time passes and things just get worse due to neglect. Before you know it, there’s an empty feeling in your heart and soul. There’s two things you can do. First, you can confront the problem and be reconciled with the individual. It’s risky because restoration can be painful. The second option is easier. Just do nothing and allow the distance to grow deeper and longer. You don’t realize it, but this is the worst thing you can do because it effects your walk with God and others. 

Maybe today the conflict you’re experiencing isn’t with another person, but rather it’s with God. Over a period of time you’ve allowed other things to come in between you and Him. You know in your heart of hearts things aren’t where they need to be. So what are you going to do? The same two principles apply. You can either do nothing and the chasm will get deeper, or you can call upon His name and draw closer to him. A funny thing will happen, you’ll find his arms open wide and ready to receive you. Why? Because he loves you. 

When a relationship is restored, lives are put back together. When a relationship with a God is restored, a heart is back where it belongs. The choice is yours. What are you waiting on my friend. Godspeed.

March 23

 

I had a former church member who would often say: “If we all got into a room and everyone threw their troubles out on the table and you saw what other people were going through, you’d quickly pick up your own.” All of us are dealing with something in our live and no one is exempt. In the book of Job we’re reminded that: “Man is born in trouble as sparks fly up.” However, the evil one will whisper in your ear that your alone and everyone else has their lives all together. Don’t believe the lie. 

 

Each and every Sunday I have the unique opportunity to preach the word of God to a group of people I love. As I gaze out into the congregation, I’m aware of some of the hurts and pains they’re dealing with on a daily basis. Some are suffering physically, while others are dealing with emotional problems. Some are dealing with family issues while on the other hand there are others struggling to make it financially. The struggles are often compounded by the feelings of inadequacy and aloneness. They’re wanting relief, but somehow it’s slow in its arrival in their souls and lives. It’s hard to hear another person say: “Hang in there. Things will get better.” Too often we’re not sure what better looks like. 

I hear an old preacher say his favorite verse in the Bible was: “It came to pass.” He went on to say: “Notice, it doesn’t say it came to stay.” Remember, the sun still shines somewhere, even when it’s raining. Learn that while you’re in the storm of life to remember, you’re not alone. Sometimes that can be the real difference maker. I know it does in my life. Godspeed my friends.




March 22

 

Yesterday I received a text from my brother informing me that the school where he works had received a threat of violence through social media. As a result many students were held out of school by their parents in fear of what could happen. The same thing took place in a school in our community about two or three weeks ago. These actions of violence or the threat of attacks have become common place in our world today. It seems as though we’re living in perilous times now day and fear and anxiety over what may happen has almost paralyzed us. Where do we turn for comfort and security?

 

Many people have suggested that one of our problems is we’ve taken God out of our schools. That may be part of the dilemma we face these days. However, a greater problem is we’ve taken God out of our homes. We have forgotten as parents that part of our responsibility is to teach our children to love the Lord with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength. Somehow, some way we have pushed Christianity to the background and allowed other gods to take its place. This isn’t just happening in bad and ungodly homes, but rather it’s happening in good homes as well. In doing so we’re raising a generation that has no respect for others and no fear of God. And the irony is we can’t understand why the world is spinning out of control. If believers can’t act in a godly manner, why are we surprised when the world acts in the same manner?

 

Revival and renewal can’t break out in our world if it doesn’t start in the local churches and the hearts of God’s people. We have to take the lead and responsible to set the pace spiritually in our world and get serious about our walk with God. If not, expect Satan will continue to have a field day in our world and in our churches. Heaven help us if that’s the case. Godspeed my friends.

 

March 21

The other night I attended the Mississippi State ladies basketball game against Oklahoma State. The winner of that contest would advance to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. The coliseum was sold out and the estimated crowd was over 10,000. Now what you need to take in account about that night is there was a tornado watch in effect until 11 pm. The tip-off was scheduled for 8 pm. And yet, the place was packed. There were senior adults and children present. I saw people in wheelchairs and crutches. Nothing was going to stop those folks from showing up come hail or high water.

Before the game started a thought ran through my mind. These people really wanted to be in that arena that night. I know I did. After all, a lot was at stake that night. But as I sat there, another thought passed through my simple mind. “I wonder how many of these people would show up for church under the same conditions?” If there was the threat of bad weather, would these same people brave the elements and get to their houses of worship. Without being judgmental, I would say, probably not.

For many of us worship and church attendance has become a matter of convenience. We’ll show up if there’s nothing else better to do. Then we look at the shape of our world and wonder how we’ve gotten ourselves in such a mess. It’s simple, we’ve forsaken our first love and knelt at the alters of false gods. Don’t blame God for He was warned us time and time again. I wonder if we’ll ever take him seriously? If not, don’t be surprised at what will take place in our society. It’s really scary. Godspeed.

 

March 20

We’re just a few days away from Holy Week. So often we’re quick to run to the empty tomb and we forget or ignore the events leading up to the resurrection. It’s easy to gloss over the betrayal of a friend. It’s easy to forget the crowd changing from, “Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”, to the cries of: “Crucify Him!” We want to skip the denial of one who was among the inner circle of our Lord and Savior. For many of us, we want to look past the beating, the insults, and the cross bearing to Calvary. He certainly find it easier to close our eyes as as they nail him to the cross and later gamble for his clothes. It’s difficult at best to hear him cry out: “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?” And it’s certainly hard to think about Him yielding his spirit to the Father and dying.

It’s so much easier to think about his glorious victory over death through his resurrection. However, we must remember the suffering and his death. We have to remember that he endured all those horrific events because of his love for you and me. “Greater love has no man known than he who will lay his life down for his friends.” Don’t rush the process, but rather think about his love. Such sacrifice demands a response from you and me. Hopefully you have called upon His name and accepted him as Savior and Lord. If not, now is the time. Godspeed my friends.

 

March 19

Last night I was preaching on the story of Ruth out of the Old Testament. It’s a beautiful story of love, devotion, and loyalty. There are moments in my own life when I read the words Ruth spoke to her mother-in-law, Naomi and my emotions get the best of me. “Wherever you go, I will go. Wherever you lodge, I will lodge. You’re people will be my people and your God will be my god. Where you die, I will die and where you are buried, I will be buried.” Can you imagine the love, commitment, and loyalty Ruth demonstrated to one who wasn’t actually a part of her immediate family? It reminds us all that we don’t have to be blood kin in order to be family.

In my life I’ve had the honor of establishing friendships with individuals who have become more than friends. They have become family. They have become fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons, and daughters to me. Along the way, some have even become grandchildren in my eyes. The family of God is like that. It brings certain people in our lives at the right time and they change the course of our lives. There’s no one who has been blessed more than me through these relationships. They have helped me in my darkest hours and they have rejoiced with me in my highest moments.

When individuals tell me that the church is no longer relevant and it’s out of date. I simply remind them of the blessings we all receive when we invest in one another’s lives. There’s no telling where I’d be today without the love and acceptance I’ve known over the years at a place called “church”. There are no people, like God’s people. Godspeed my friends.

 

March 18

Have you ever known a crisis Christian? You know what I’m talking about, don’t you. These are the individuals who turn to the church when everything in their lives are falling apart. It could be when a couple is experiencing marital problems. It may be when an individual is facing a medical uncertainty. Or it just might be when an individual or family is going through a financial disaster. When we find ourselves at the end of our rope, we turn to God and the church to solve our problems.

I can’t tell you how many people we’ve helped over the years when they have no other place to go. The church pays a light bill, buys groceries, fills up a car with gas or helps with counseling. We pray with these people and try to minister to them and like a cloud of smoke their gone when the problem is solved. Usually without as much as a thank you.

However, our churches are full with individuals who only get serious with their relationship with God when facing a storm in life. What we need to remember is, Christianity isn’t an insurance policy to protect us from the calamities of life. To the contrary, it is a way of life which prepares us for the uncertainties that come our way. You don’t learn how to fly a plane while you’re in the air for the first time. You don’t learn to swim in the middle of the ocean. And you don’t wait to call on the name of the Lord when you’re in trouble.

God wants to be a part of every phase in your life. Start now by spending time with him everyday. You’ll be surprised at how He’ll navigate your life in the sunshine and the rain. It’s a whole lot easier that way. Of that I am sure. Godspeed my friends.

 

March 17

his past week I received an interesting question through Facebook Messenger from a a former church member and dear friend. The question dealt with prayer and how often we should pray about a particular situation. Their spouse was facing a medical situation and their question was: “Should I keep praying about this problem or just pray once and trust God? In my opinion, this is a very interesting and valid question.

First, we have to understand what prayer is before we answer the question. Prayer is an intimate conversation between a believer and God. In other words it is a dialogue and not a monologue. We don’t just talk, but we listen as well. Too often we rush into God’s presence with a list we want Him to tend to on our behalf. But do we ever listen. Are we still and understanding that He is God. Do you realize there are things He wants to tell us?

Second, prayer is not just asking for things. A good was to remember how to pray is using the arostic, ACTS. Our prayers should consist of adoration, confession, thanks, and then supplication. In other words, we need to acknowledge who God is, confess our sins, seek forgiveness of our sins, then bring our petitions to Him. Remember, unconfessed sins block us from God.

Third, as I read scripture, I see two individuals who prayed over and over

 about a particular situation in their lives. Jesus prayed time and time again that the cup of suffering would pass from him. The Apostle Paul prayed over and over that a thorn in his side would be removed. In each situation, both said, not my will, but your will be done because your grace is sufficient.

Jesus told a story about a widow who continued to go before a crooked judge to get justice in her life. He went on to demonstrate that if a man who had no fear of God and respected no one could be moved to compassion, how much more will your Heavenly Father hear your prayers.

Finally, remember that prayer does more for us than God. It changes our position and heart. But it doesn’t mean that God says yes to every petition. Every prayer is answered either yes, no or not now. But we have to leave His alter and say: “Your grace is sufficient and I trust you by faith.” It’s not always easy, but it wasn’t meant to be. Godspeed my friends. I hope this helps.

 

March 16

I just kept thinking yesterday if I’d known it was the last time I’d ever see you, would I’ve said something different as we parted? We had gathered together as a family during the Christmas holidays as we’d done so many years before. I remember where you were seated when we arrived and I recall the pleasantries we exchanged before we parted. But if I’d known that was the last time we’d ever be together on this earth, would I have said something different? Would the atmosphere have been more serious? The problem so many of us have is we take this moment for granted and never think that tomorrow may not happen.

What about you? Are you living each day as if it’s the last one you’ll ever see? When you read scripture very carefully you’ll notice that this day is the only one we’re promised. So if that’s the case, you better say the things you need to say and do the things you need to do right now. Don’t take for granted that the people you love know it. Don’t think that the individuals who have invested in your life know you’re grateful. Don’t put off till tomorrow those things you need to do today. Who knows what tomorrow might bring?

Over the years I’ve come to understand that passage of scripture from the book of James which states: “Life is like a vapor.” It’s here one minute and gone the next. Today might be the last chance you have to simply tell someone you love and appreciate them. Don’t put off till tomorrow those things you should do today. You may not get another chance. Godspeed my friends. By the way, I love and appreciate all of you.

 

March 15

Today I’d ask that you keep Tommi Jo’s family in your thoughts and prayers. This past weekend her cousin’s husband has tragically killed in an accidental gun shooting. This event has broken the hearts of a wonderful family who has always tried to follow God in their lives. How do you explain the unexplainable? All I know is now a wife will not have the guidance, love and support of a loving husband. A 14 year old son will be be left to navigate the waters of life with no father. Prayers for the Gilbert and Rigby family will be needed and appreciated.

It’s hard for me to imagine how people cope with such events without a Christian faith. Our faith however doesn’t always explain why such things happen. However, it does provide us with the strength and a presence to walk through such trials and heartbreaks. Too often we look for answers and explanations to things which have none. That’s why we learn to walk by faith and not by sight. Thank you in advance for your prayers, thoughts and love. Godspeed my friends.

 

March 14

This past Sunday we set our clocks forward an hour because of Daylight Savings Time. It’s wonderful late in the day as we experience more daylight in the afternoons. However it presents a little bit of trouble for me in the mornings when I go for my daily run. Now days I’m running in the dark which brings with it a whole number of challenges. But before I get a lecture on safety, let me remind you I’ve been doing this for nearly 20 years.

Each day when I begin my route, there are certain things which are a part of my attire. First, I make sure I have my reflective vest on over my shirt. Second, I have a small flashlight on the bill of my cap. As one of my church members told me after seeing me one dark morning: “You look like Thomas the Train coming down the road.” That’s a good thing because you want to be seen. Finally, I’m very familiar with my route. As a matter of fact, I could run it in my sleep. I know every bump and turn on the road and I’m familiar with everyone’s routine in the mornings. In other words, I’ve done about all I can to prepare myself for that run in the dark.

I have a question for you. Have you prepared yourself for your journey in the dark? You see, each and every day you rise and face a world covered in darkness. It may not be a physical darkness, but rest assured it is a spiritual darkness. If your going to survive the evil one’s attacks, you better be prepared. You will need some type of light to guide your path. Jesus said: “I am the light of the world.” Why would you struggle in the darkness when there’s one who knows how to turn on the light. Second, you’re going to need a weapon. Nope, I’m not talking about a firearm, but rather the sword of the word. You might want to read God’s word to prepare you for you journey.

You see, I’m prepared each morning for my run. However, I’ve also learned to expect the unexpected. The same in true in life. However, with Jesus at your side, you’re never unprepared. Godspeed my friends.

 

March 13

There are things in life which I don’t understand. Each and every day events and tragedies happen to good people. A question which pops into my mind at times is the same question asked over and over throughout scriptures. “Why do bad things happen to good people?” As a matter of fact, probably more than any question asked of me as a minister, deals with the complex subject. I’ve had people who are devout followers of Christ ask: “Why did this happen to me? What did I do to deserve this pain?”

First, we need to realize that pain and suffering is a part of every life. Christianity isn’t a insurance plan which protects us from all the unpleasantries of life. However, it is a promise and an assurance that we don’t face these tragic moments alone. God hasn’t promised us a life free from heartache and pain. But he has said that he’ll walk through the pain with us.

Second, life isn’t a byproduct of what you deserve. And we better be thankful that it’s not. As individuals we are sinners by nature and by choice and because of that we deserve punishment. “But God demonstrated his love for us in that while we were sinners, Christ died for us.” Be thankful that we don’t get what we deserve.

Third, when God created the world he said: “It was good”, not perfect. In a good world there is always the possibility for bad things to happen. These tragedies sometimes come through the freedom of choice and also through the law abiding realm of the universe. When we live in harmony with the laws of the universe things rock along pretty well. When we violate them, tragic events happen.

Finally, remember that the only perfect person was crucified for a crime he never committed. So he if he wasn’t exempt, what keeps us from experiencing sorrow and pain? There’s never an easy answer to this question. However, I believe God wants what’s best for us and some of the greatest lessons we learn about our faith comes through dark moments. Anyone can believe and follow when all is right with the world. It takes a special person to say: “ I don’t understand, but I’m following you by faith.” Hopefully you will. Godspeed my friends.

 

March 12

Are the times in your life when you find yourself in the dumps? The circumstances of life have driven you to a place where you experience the dark night of the soul. It may be due to the loss of a loved one, an illness in your life or someone you love, or a time of depression due to an inner struggle in your life. You search for relief but it never comes. You pray, but there seems to be no answers. God seems so distant and silent in the time you need him the most. You want to lash out, but you’re not sure who should should receive your anger. You can be sure the evil one will use this time to convince you that no one else has suffered or hurt like you. He’ll ask you: “Where is your God now?”

Over the years I come to realize that answers to such questions are so easily given. However, remember this important lesson. God will help you get out of the dumps, but you have to do your part as well. This includes taking care of yourself mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. All three of these are intertwined. One effects the other. Physical exercise can be great therapy when dealing with moments of emotional distress. You’d be surprised how a long walk will provide relief to a troubled heart. Also, it helps to talk to someone you trust about the situation. Keeping it bottled up can only hinder your healing.

Finally, understand that in those moments of darkness, God will take care of you. You may not realize it at the time, but he will meet you in the chaos and ultimately bring you out of the fog. It may not happen in a week, month, or even a year, but he will give you the strength to stand. And remember, when the strength to stand comes, you will not stand alone. That is a fact. Godspeed my friends. Hang in there, help is on its way.

 

March 11

Today is the day, if you choose it to be. It’s has the opportunity to be a life changing experience. A game changer if you will. You have a opportunity to experience an encounter with the Living God, but the choice is yours. The burdens you’ve been carrying, the grief you’ve been holding on to, the life you’ve been living can all be changed with a prayer in a time of worship. God has been waiting for you and the only thing holding you back is you. Aren’t you tired of walking the same path and just expecting things will be different? Well friend, it can be if you harden not your heart. Don’t miss it because these moments are few and far between.

Stop debating and arguing the point. Stop taking pleasure in your misfortune. Change the status quo and by faith except the transformation that can come when you surrender your will and heart to God. Remember, he’s making all things new. The question is, are you ready for the change? It can happen if you’ll let go and allow him to take control. Your way hasn’t been working. Now is the time and today is the day. Amen and Godspeed.

 

March 10

A link to someone can be devastating when it’s broken. At the moment it’s broken, you might not realize the pain it will cause until it finally hits you. Let me explain my weird concept because I’m sure you’ve dealt with it at some time in your own life.

A few years ago we had to put our dog down after 14 years of companionship. The overwhelming sense of grief was something I hadn’t anticipated. For a while it was hard for me to understand until I realized that dog was a link to my oldest daughter. We had purchased that schnauzer because she had wanted a dog. When she died, it felt like a link between my daughter and me had been broken. Silly, I know, but it was something we had share together.

Two weeks ago, when Dr. Billy Graham went home to be with the Lord, again I felt a similar sensation. Of course there was the sadness that we all felt at the death of this spiritual giant. However, for me it was a link to my Mother and Dad. I can’t tell you how many times we’d watch one of his crusades on television together. As a family, we even heard him in person at the Orange Bowl. He was one of those links that we shared as a family.

Life is a series of broken links that can cause a heart to break and fell a pain we thought we’d dealt with years ago. However, there’s a link that can’t be broken no matter of the circumstances surrounding it. It’s the bond that Christ Jesus brings to our relationship with others. Though there is hurt in a moment, there’s a feeling of assurance as well. Though the link is battered and worn, it’s never broken. At least that’s how my simple mind copes with grief and pain. He makes the difference in this life and the life that shall be. For that I’m grateful. Godspeed my friends

 

March 9

Sometimes a change in the way we look at certain things in life can make all the difference in our outlook. Too often we use words in our everyday language that can put a negative spin on the activities we are preforming. Let me give you a couple of examples. How many times have we said something similar to the following: “I have to mow the grass today.” Or, “I have to go to work in the morning.” That word “have” puts a negative spin on the entire sentence. The reason I say this is quite simple. There are a lot of people who would like to have an opportunity to do some yard work and others who would like to have your job. However, due to physical conditions, these individuals can’t do the simple task you perform each day without even thinking about them. If we could sometimes change the word “have” and replace it with “get”, the whole dynamic changes. “I get to mow the yard and enjoy the outdoors.” I get to go to work and provide for my family.” Just one word changes everything.

The same is true with our relationship with a God. How many times have we said: “I have to go to church on Sunday.” No, you “get”to go to church and have an encounter with the living God with fellow believers. You don’t “have” to read your Bible and pray. But rather you “get”to read God’s word and “get” an opportunity to have an intimate conversation with the creator of the universe. It sounds rather silly I know, but your attitude can change everything in your life. The amazing point is you get to choose. Do you “have to” or do you “get to”? I get the opportunity to make the most of this day. What about you? Godspeed.

 

March 8

Have you ever had a “flashback”? Some event, trauma, situation, or grief in your present life sends you back to another place and time from your past. Believe me, they’re real. Former and present military personnel experience these phenomenons from time to time. They can be brought on by sight and smells from the here and now and all of a sudden they’re back on the battlefield due to a flashback.

I’ve had these experiences from time to time in my own life. They usually happen to be during the hurricane season. My mind is taken back to August, 2005 when we experienced Hurricane Katrina. Our church served as a Red Cross shelter for as many as 300 people. Whenever we have the threat of a hurricane, my mind can immediately pull up the faces of the people we helped. It’s a strange situation.

Yesterday I had such an event take place in my life. Upon hearing the news of an unfortunate event which took place in the life of a friend of mine, boom!!!! In an instant, my brain and heart went right back to a similar situation in my life. A flood of emotions began to sweep across my mind at a neck braking pace. Before I knew it, I was right back in that traumatic situation. My heart began to race and I’m sure my blood pressure began to rise at a record pace. So what does one do when such an experience happens? Is there a way out?

When you find yourself reliving an unpleasant experience due to a flashback, switch channels in your mind to another time and place. This is a different location and environment. It’s a place where you experienced the love, warmth, and grace of God’s sustaining presence. You need to focus on that moment when He made a difference in your life. Then flash forward to the here and now and be reminded of the fact that God is making all things new. We are a byproduct of our past, but we don’t have to live there and it certainly doesn’t have to define us. Let it be a gentle reminder of the goodness of a Heavenly Father who wants the best for us. That can be just enough to overcome the negative from the past. Godspeed.

 

March 7

How do you view your relationship with God? Do you feel as though God works for you or do you work for him? Does he exist to serve your needs and desires or do you serve him? Is he viewed as the “cleaner” in your life who comes to straighten out the mess you’ve created? Do you view him as a divine bellhop you call upon to carry your baggage in life when they’re too heavy to tote on your own power?

In order to serve God properly in our lives we must have a correct view of our relationship with him. You were created for one reason and one reason only. We were created to have a relationship with our Creator and serve him properly. Everything you have or will have belongs to God. Everything you are or ever will be is a result of him. In other words, he doesn’t exist for us but rather we exist for him. We all need to realize that he expects total allegiance from his children. We are to love him with every fiber of our being and use the gifts he has given us to bring glory to him. It’s that simple.

What’s sad to me is so many of us expect God to bless our lives without putting anything into our relationship with him. We want him to do all the work and we should receive all the blessings. Sorry, it just doesn’t work that way. Give him the best of you and the rest of you and then you’ll find out what a blessed life is all about. Serve him and watch the blessings flow right back to you. It’s always worked that way ever since the beginning of time. There is no other course for an abundant life. Godspeed my friends.

 

March 6

What a difference a day makes. Sometimes all it takes is just a little time. Yesterday morning I woke up not feeling well at all. As a matter of fact, I stayed home all day and was physically unable to attend a funeral in Birmingham. The folks that I work with will tell you I don’t miss many days. But there was no way I could get off the mat and rise to the challenges of the day. The only thing possible was to let nature take its course. Around 8 pm things started turning for the good. I was actually able to take in a little nourishment before retiring to bed. Today’s a new day and all systems are go. Sometimes all it takes is time.

The same is true with a life. There are moments when we feel downcast and alone. There are decisions which need to be made and situations we didn’t expect. There’s a desire to do something but the energy to do so isn’t there. So what can we do? Rest and pray are at the top of the list. Wait for the Lord. Be still and wait for his presence to allow you to move forward. Some decisions in life are better made when we give them the proper time. Things sometimes look different the next day.

Don’t be in a hurry because there are certain things in life you can’t rush. The problem is, we’re fixers by nature and some things can’t be repaired in an hour or two. God is aware of your situation and in time, relief will come. Maybe not like you planned, but it will come. Today is a new day. Wait for God to show you how to make the most of it. Godspeed.

 

March 5

There’s no way in this world that I could adequately express how God is blessing our church at PHBC. Just at the moment when I think it can’t get any better, God does something else to take my amazement to another level. Yesterday was no exception.

During the hymn of invitation, three siblings walked the isle and made their public professions of faith. The oldest, the brother, is in the 9th grade. His sister is in the 7th grade and their little brother is 9 years old. Their grandmother has been a member of our church for about 5 years. However, these three have been a part of our van ministry for 5 or 6 years. Right before our hymn started, the sister went and picked up the youngest brother from children’s church. They had no parent with them, only their grandmother. All three walked down together. Oh, I forgot to mention they are African Americans. Imagine how much bravery it took for those three kids to walk down during a hymn of invitation at a predominantly white church.

How did our folks respond? Just like they do 99.9% of the time. With love and acceptance. You see, those kids already knew they were loved by our people. They’ve been loved on Wednesday night, in Vacation Bible School, at GA camp, in Bible study, children’s worship, and at church. It was a natural progression for them. God continues to bless our church family. I’m just trying to get out of the way so I don’t mess it up. Godspeed my friends.

 

March 4

Many of you are in the process of getting ready for church. But after you’ve showered, combed your hair and dressed, you might be ready, but are you prepared? Have you prepared your heart for an encounter with the living God? Will your Bible study and worship be acceptable and pleasing in the eyes of the Lord, or will you miss it altogether? God’s ready to receive your worship, but the evil one is also prepared to distract you and keep you from experiencing the presence of God.

Where will your mind be as your service opens today? Will your thoughts be on the great love Jesus demonstrated on the cross or will it be on the worries of this world? As one preacher said in his prayer: “Lord, you couldn’t be here more truly, but we could.” Don’t let that happen to you.

Do you realize that worship is a verb and not a noun? It is a word which requires an action on your part. As a matter of fact, worship is the one thing we can do for God. So here’s a good script to follow: Open your mouth and sing praises to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Even if you just make a joyful noise. Open your mind and heart to the preaching of God’s word. Open your wallet and give generously because the Lord loves a cheerful giver. Remind yourself that this time isn’t about you, but rather about God. Leave his sanctuary ready to serve. Now you’re ready to be of use for the Kingdom.

So, I’ll ask you again: Are you prepared? I sure hope so because this is the day the Lord has made. We should rejoice and be glad in it! Godspeed my friends.

 

March 3

Joe Hogan was a member of my church in Natchez, Ms years ago. Now as preachers, we’re not suppose to have favorites, but Joe was one of my favorite individuals. I loved his swag! He was a Georgia Bulldog fan and when they won on Saturday, he’d wear his Georgia tie and red sport coat. I had the high honor of preaching his wife’s memorial service and later I did his funeral. I’m still extremely close to his family and a few years ago, I performed his granddaughter’s wedding in Augusta, Ga. (One of my favorite places on earth.)

While Joe was living, each year on his birthday, he would run his age. If he was 75, he’d run 7.5 miles on that day. After he passed away, each year to honor his memory, on my birthday I participate in the “Joe Hogan Run”. This year, due to weather and injuries, I had to delay my run until today. I’m happy to announce that the “Joe Hogan Run” of 5.7 miles was finally completed this morning. The reality of this run is it gets a bit more difficult the older I get.

Joe’s actions should be an inspiration to us all. No matter how old you are, you can still be active and set goals for your life. In other words, get out and do something. Set some goals for your life regardless of your age or ability. As a matter of fact, while your at it, set some spiritual goals for your life.

Why not read the Bible through in a year? Now that’s a goal worth setting. Or maybe ramp up your church attendance or giving. Find a way to be useful for the Kingdom regardless of your age. Too many of us are just drifting through life with no plan or purpose. That my friend isn’t the Christian way. Our goal should be to grow closer to God each and every day we draw a breath. So get busy. There’s no time like the present to start adding purpose and meaning to your life.

Thanks Joe for inspiring me to do something that at times pushes me to the limits of my ability. However, I’m not looking forward to my 75th birthday. Godspeed.

 

March 2

As one who had the honor of preaching my Father’s memorial service, let me tell you, Franklin knocked it out of the park today. I’ve heard several people say: “Franklin isn’t his father.” Well I can tell you, he was never called to be his Dad. I’m not half the man my father was in any area of my life. But I can tell you this, I’ll stand with Franklin any time and any place.

Also, it seems to me that the memorial services for Princess Diana and Michael Jackson’s were broadcasted on all major networks. You had to search hard for Dr. Graham’s service. I guess there was too much Jesus for some folks. How sad, because that’s just what we need to hear.

 

 

March 1

My oldest daughter, Laura Jo and her husband Grant, gave us a free week of the Blue Apron food service. If you’re not familiar with Blue Apron, they send you all the ingredients for 2 or 3 meals. You select from their menu and pick out the meals that you want to try and a box arrives at your house with everything you need. No shopping. No grocery lines. The meals are actually very good and look like the picture on the menu. They give you a step by step process as to how to prepare the food. Everything necessary right there in a box. All you have to do is cook.

In a similar way, God has done everything necessary for you to spend eternity with Him. You see, you and I are sinners by nature and by choice, and sin separates us from our Heavenly Father. Because of our sin we deserve punishment, judgment, and Hell. However, God sent his son, Jesus Christ to die on a cross for you and me. When he exclaimed with a loud voice: “It is finished!”, it literally meant everything necessary for salvation has been accomplished. He did the work. He prepared the menu. He shopped for the groceries. He left one step for you and me. Do we accept or reject his act of love.

After our free trial week of Blue Apron, we’ll have to decide if the service is worth keeping. In a similar way, you’ll have to decide what you’ll do with this man named Jesus. Godspeed my friends.

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