September 30

This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

September 29

 

This morning I got up for what was suppose to be a recovery run. Yesterday was a long run day, so I decided last night that Saturday was going to be a easy, slow pace recovery run. Unfortunately there was a problem. I had forgotten to recharge by running watch. Also, the Ryder Cup opening matches were coming to a close and I wanted to be finished in time to watch the second session of the day. What to do, what to do?

 

The good thing about these electric devices is, they recharge pretty quickly. So the decision was made to charge the watch while getting ready. I also knew if I didn’t use my music, the charge wouldn’t drain as fast. That wasn’t happening. So the journey and game was on. With two miles left to go in my run, I was down to 10% of the power left. With a quarter of a mile left to go, the watch went dead.

 

All this got me thinking. How many of us have miles to travel, but don’t know how much time we have left. This day is the only day you’ve been promised. You don’t want to get to a place where you have so much to do, and no time to do it. This is the day, don’t squander your opportunity. The good news is, I did run 2 of the fastest miles I’ve run in quite a long time. Bad news, I couldn’t outrun the clock. You can’t either. Godspeed my friends.


September 28

Tomorrow marks the return of Dan Mullen to Mississippi State. This is Mullen’s first trip back to Starkvegas since he left for the Florida job. A lot has been said and written about how State fans will react to his return to Davis-Wade Stadium. I personally think every MSU fan owes Mullen a great deal of gratitude. If you disagree, just ask yourself: “Did he leave the program better than he found it. The answer would be, “yes”.  Sometimes coaching is like preaching, you get to a place where you’ve done all you can do and it’s time to move on. Thanks Dan, for doing a great job in Starkville and making us relevant for the first time in years. Godspeed my friends.

September 27

 

This coming Sunday I will be preaching on Suicide. Over the past few days as I have been preparing this message, I’ve found it quite hard to concentrate and focus on the task at hand. It’s not that I’m distracted by phone calls and pop in visits, but rather distracted by the subject material at hand. For you see, the message being prepared has a face, a very familiar one, a very personal one. I find myself drifting into a land of “what if’s” and even anger. I’ve seen first hand the damage and the hell this topic can bring on a family. However, I’m certain without a doubt that the subject needs to be addressed and discussed. It’s sometimes the 800 pound gorilla in the room.

 

Suicide is never, I mean never the answer. In fact, it’s one of the most selfish acts an individual can do. The devastation, pain, and grief is usually unbearable to those left behind. It’s something you never get over, you just learn to live with the pain. I still hurt for some special people in my life that have been hurt by the choice of a loved one. Hopefully, God will use the message to help someone or even a family. That is if I can navigate the fog in my own mind. Godspeed my friends.


September 26

 

There are some people in life that take great delight in being miserable and unhappy. More than likely they were weened on a pickle as a child because they never have anything good to say. They rant about the people they work with, criticize public leaders, manipulate their family, and even gripe about their church. They’re stuck in a bad situation, a bad relationship, a bad job, and a horrible church. However, if you look at the common denominator in all those bad relationships, the obvious eludes them. They are the problem.

 

Do you remember the story about the lame man Jesus healed at the Pool of Bethesda? (John 5:6) Before performing the miracle, Jesus asked this man a question: “Do you want to be healed?” Now the answer would seem quite obvious, right? But understand this, if the man is healed, everything changes in his life. Where as he had always depended on others, now he would be responsible for his life. In other words, he had a decision to be made. Do I want healing or familiarity? The same is true with many of us. If we’re going to be whole or healthy, it might require some changes that will get us out of our comfort zone.

 

I guess one question I’d like to ask to some miserably unhappy people is: Do you want to be healed? If so, the time to start is now. Godspeed my friends.


September 25

 

It’s called learning to live amidst the interruptions. In reality, that’s the life of a minister. Yesterday, following a great morning of golf at the Jim Futral Golf tournament sponsored by Blue Mountain College, one of my pastor friends received a call that one of his church members had just suffered a heart attack. My buddy had planned to spend a couple of days in West Point and play another round of golf. If there has ever been a pastor that deserved a little rest and relaxation, it’s him. However, due to the situation, he canceled his plans, loaded up his car and drove home to be with this family in their time of crisis. He’s learn to live with the interruptions.

 

As we were eating lunch, the two of us began sharing stories of the altered schedules of our lives. There have been vacations cut short, dinners canceled, and family outing rescheduled due to unforeseen tragedies and emergencies. As we shared one story after another, one of our friends sitting with us said: “Well this is an uplifting conversation.” To which I said: “Nope, this is our lives.” It’s the part of our job that few people ever see or realize. Today with cellphones and electronic devices, one is never away. But in reality, I’m not sure I’d have it any other way. When people I love are hurting, I want to be with them. Does it make a difference? That’s not for me to say. I just know that the nature of the job. Sometimes hurting people need someone just to stand by them and hold them up in their time of need.

 

My friend won’t receive a medal of any recognition for his effort yesterday. But what he did and will do will make a difference in the life of that family. In the end, that’s the only way he’d have it. He just wants to be faithful. I’ve observed he’s all of that and more. May his tribe increase. Godspeed my friends.


September 24

When I became the pastor of First Baptist Church, Canton, Ms. in 1991, I gave my testimony on the weekend I came in view of a call. I told the congregation, if this works out and I become your pastor, there will be a time when you’re involved in a conversation with some people about church. The question will come up: “Who’s your pastor?” When you reply: “Bill Hurt.” Someone is going to nearly choke to death because they knew me from my college days. They will say: “Bill Hurt, man I never dreamed he’d be a minister. You should have seen all the things he once did. I’m not sure he’s minister material.” I went on to tell the church: “I haven’t always been a preacher. You need to know that.”

 

We all have skeletons in our closets. No matter who you are, there are things you’ve done that bring back shame and guilt. Not just you, but remember some of the greatest heroes of our faith who failed miserably. They were imperfect vessels that God used. Moses was a murderer. David was an adulterer. Elijah suffered greatly from depression. And the Apostle Paul, well don’t get me started on him. The good news about the gospel of Jesus Christ is, God is more concerned about where a person is today rather than where they were 18 years ago.

 

There’s no doubt in my mind that if Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, or Franklin Roosevelt were seeking office today, they’d be unelectable because of their past or because of their present conditions. We’d find a reason, and some have been discovered through the years, not to elect them. Let me make myself clear. There’s a difference in a pattern of a life and isolated events that have taken place in one’s youth. I can tell you without reservation, I wouldn’t be in the ministry if my past was paraded in front of the church I was called to serve.

 

Several years ago, our church elected a man to serve as a deacon who was a recovering alcoholic. He hadn’t had a drink in over 20 years. I would say that 99% of the church knew his past, as he grew up in that community. He told me he didn’t think he was worthy to serve. I told him God was more concerned with were an individual was right now, rather than in the past. One mistake doesn’t signal divine foreclosure on a life. Too bad it does today in the political world. People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. I know I’m guilty, but forgiven. Godspeed my friends.



September 23

Today is “Tailgate Day” at PHBC. We’ve taken the concept that occurs each Saturday in the fall all over college campuses and have adopted it into a Sunday celebration. Our Life Groups have setup tents on our grounds and following our morning worship, we’ll enjoy a time of food, fellowship, and conversation. Everyone is encouraged to wear their favorite team’s colors to worship. Some will wear them with a bit more pride than others, however, while together, we’ll all be on the same team.

Today our lesson will be on “Understanding Suffering”. No, it’s not an epilogue to last night’s game. It’s trying to understand why there’s so much suffering in the world. So often I’m asked: “If God is so loving, why does he allow bad things to happen to good people. If you’re interested in the message, you can find it tonight on our webpage. Godspeed my friends.


September 22

I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked: “Why is there so much suffering in the world.” The truth of the matter is, there is no simple answer. When you look at the world in which we live, you notice bad things happen to good people everyday. Some of the most Godly people I’ve known have suffered from cancer, heart disease, grief, and other physical and emotional setbacks. And yet, if we’re all honest with ourselves, in those dark moments of life we ask: “Where was God when these tragedies occurred?”

First, we need a valid concept of God which is demonstrated through the life of Jesus Christ. In him we see that God is love, merciful, and forgiving. He doesn’t send suffering on anyone, but he does allow these things to happen because of the free will he gives to his children. When we violate the laws of his universe, we bring destruction into play.

Second, we need a valid concept of the world. Sin is our personal rebellion against God. But not all evil comes as a result of personal choices. There is a natural evil that exists in our world. When you grasp that, then you can have a better understanding of suffering. When God created the world he said: “It is good”. He didn’t say it was perfect.

Finally, God uses pain and suffering to help us grow as Christians. Through trails and tribulations we develop character and faith. Setbacks actually become springboards for Christian grow. How do I know this? Read Romans 8:28. If you want to know more about this concept, I’ll be preaching on this subject tomorrow. You can find all our sermon on our webpage. Godspeed my friends.



September 21

Over the years I’ve observed as a pastor, some folks “get it” and other don’t. Mr. John most definitely gets it. Over the years, more than seventy if you’re counting, life has dealt this sweet man some serious blows. He has known the pain of losing a wife and he has battled cancer. A few years ago he spent six weeks in the hospital battling this fierce opponent and finally got back to nearly full speed. He moves a little slow these days, as he walks with a cane, but it hasn’t stopped him from serving his God.

One Wednesday night, following our time of Bible study, he came to me with an idea of how he could help our office workers at the church. Each week our order of worship is filled with extra pieces of paper. One of those is the outline of the morning message, while others include sign up sheets for various trips and other information. He asked if he could come to to church each week and stuff our bulletins. He has faithfully done just that. Each week, on Thursday, he comes to the church with his CD player and sits in a room just off of our office and goes to work. While he’s working, he’s listening and singing those old gospel tunes. Yesterday, I walked into his room, and his back was to me and he didn’t know I was watching and listening to him. A tear rolled down my cheek as I hear him sing:

“And I’ll cherish the old rugged cross.
Till my trophies at last I lay down.
I will cling to the old rugged cross and
exchange it some day for a crown.”

No truer words have ever been spoken by any individual on this earth. Well done John, you ministered to me when I needed it most. Thank you for actually getting it. It’s a life of service. Do what you can while you can. Godspeed my friends.



September 20

There are certain things I hear from time to time that break my heart as a pastor and as an individual. It’s when someone share with me that they’ve been told their no good enough. These words for the most part have been uttered by a parent, spouse, sibling, teachers and yes, in some cases, even from ministers. How devastating it is to hear from someone you love and trust that you’re worthless and without hope. I watched and listened to the stories over the years from broken individuals who have lived in the lie for years.

If you’ve ever felt this way or been told this by another, don’t believe it because it’s a devil’s lie. You need to understand that you are the crown of God’s creation. You made a little less than the angels. Before the earth was created, God had you on his mind. You weren’t a mistake, as a matter of fact you are uniquely and wonderfully made. Your value was proved when Christ died on a cross so that you might have life and have it more abundantly. You matter more than you’ll ever know.

Go look in the mirror. When you see your reflection remember this: If you had been the only one on earth, Christ would have died for you. Talk about worth! More than you may ever realize. Godspeed my friends.



September 19

My brother Richard taught me how to ride a bike. I remember it like it was yesterday. My training ground was the sidewalk just across the street from our home at 1101 College Street in Cleveland, Mississippi. It wasn’t the easiest task to accomplish but we finally got it done. It all came down to a matter of trust. As I recall, he’d run behind me and hold on to the seat of the bike while I peddled with all my might. Then he’d let go, and I’d turn my head and look back at him and then......fall. In a moment of complete exasperation, he said: “You’ll never do this if you keep looking back! Keep peddling and look ahead.” It was now or never, we took off. I peddled and he let go earlier than I expected. I kept my I focused on where I was going and rode solo for the first time.

The problem with so many of us today is, we continue to look back at the past and lose focus on where we are and where we’re going. God want to bless and use you in the present, but we keep focusing on the the victories and defeats from the past. As God moves us forward he keeps telling us: “Keep peddling, keep running, keep moving because there’s so much I want to do through you.” Here’s the kicker and the word of comfort. Unlike my brother Richard, God will never let go. His hand will always be on your shoulder. That’s a promise that can move you out of the past and into the present. Godspeed my friends.

 

September 18

Getting over the pain experienced in life is easier said than done. It doesn’t matter if the wound was inflicted yesterday, last month or even years ago. “Getting on with it”, as so many encourage us to do, is almost impossible because we’re not really sure how to begin. There is no magical cure for a broken spirit or a a shattered heart. So where does one begin.

First and foremost, you need to remember you’re not in the battle alone. Throughout scripture we are reminded that trouble, grief, and pain are a natural part of life. In the book of Job, the writer reminds us: “Man is born to trouble as sparks fly up.” (Job 5:7) So if you know it’s coming, prepare for the bad times during the good days in life. Also remember, God has promised us that nothing separates us from his love and presence.

Second, you get to decide how long you’ll bear the anger and the pain. Now this isn’t necessarily true with grief, but it is true when someone does us wrong. The longer you hold on to the grudge, the more damage it does to your life. The amazing thing is, it does nothing to the person who hurt you. So, pray for that individual as you pray for your own life. A funny and unusual thing will happen, your bitterness will turn to something else. It actually with strengthen your relationship with God and others.

Finally, realize that life is just too short to go around with a bitter spirit. No one, I mean no one wants to be around a grumpy and complaining individual. That’s just a fact. So, it up to you. How long will you bear the grudge? Relief begins one prayer at a time. Godspeed my friends.

 

September 17

“It doesn’t look good.” I can’t tell you how many time I’ve heard those words over the course of my ministry. As a matter of fact, in the past three weeks I’ve had very close friends of mine relay those very words to me about loved ones of theirs. As a minister, you form special relationships with people over the years. The changing of churches, relocation, and the miles apart can’t sever those bonds which have been formed over the years. In some people’s eyes, no matter where you are as a minister, they still consider you their pastor. The reason? You’ve shared life experiences with them which has changed that relationship and moved it to a deeper level.

There are moments in a pastor’s life, and moments in this pastor’s ministry when you wish you didn’t care. But for whatever reason, I’m just not cut that way. The pain experienced by people you love often becomes the pain you bear. It’s a process called transference. To be honest, it’s at times unhealthy because there’s only so much a heart can carry. I’ve learned over the years a very important lesson taught to me by my Dad, a fellow pastor as well. He told me when you lay your head on the pillow at night to turn the world and its burdens over to The Lord. “He’s big enough to handle it.” It’s sometimes hard to practice, but I’ve noticed that God does some amazing things when the burdens of life are transferred to him. Sometimes you here the words: “Things are looking better.” And yet, why should we be surprised? Godspeed my friends.


September 16

Death is a subject that many of us would like to avoid. You can ignore it, allude it, escape it, but sooner or later, you have to face it. Death has many faces and wear a variety of masks. It is an unseen malignant cell that suddenly consumes a body. It is a train that derails. Death comes as a result of the malfunctions of the brakes on a car. The bad thing about death is that it sometimes come unexpectedly and brings devastation to a family.

Death is universal in that no one can escape it. They say there are two things which are for certain, death and taxes. The ratio of people who die is one out of every one. However, we have a difficult time even discussing the subject because it makes us feel uncomfortable.

I guess over the years I’ve had more people ask me about what happens to a believer when they die. The only way I can answer that question is through scripture. The Apostle Paul wrote: “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” (II Corinthians 5:8) Jesus said to the penitent thief: “Today you’ll be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43) Death for the believer that’s them directly into the presence of God. Their bodies are commended to the ground, but their spirit goes immediately into the presence of God.

But listen carefully. The assurance of eternal life only comes to those who have trusted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. It’s not a universal thing, it’s very exclusive. That’s why we as Children of God have hope and a future. When our loved ones die, they don’t fall into some endless black hole, but if they’ve made the decision to follow Christ on this earth, then they go into his presence. It that were not so, then life as we know it is meaningless. But “because He lives, all fear is gone.”

For more answers, look up our sermon today on this subject. You can find it on our webpage at phbccolumbus.com. Godspeed my friends.

 

September 15

I hope each and everyone of you have a great Saturday. Tomorrow, I shall be preaching a message on facing death. This is a part of a series on facing issues from the dark side of life. Death is a subject that many want to avoid. But one has to remember that one of of every one dies.  I’ll have a special devotion for this in the morning. Until then, may your day be filled with laughter and happiness. Also, when you go to church tomorrow, we’re all on the same team and our victory is guaranteed. Godspeed my friends.


September 14

Just recently a school outside Augusta, Georgia (a moment of silence please) made national news because they have decided to bring back paddling as a form of punishment. The parents had to sign a consent form to allow the school officials to carry out this form of discipline on their child. The alternative to paddling was a week of in school suspension. Around 35% of the parents signed the form allowing school officials to carry out this action. The story went on to say that this form of discipline is still prevalent in 13 different states. There’s no doubt that this is a subject that we can debate until the cows come home and yet change no ones mind or opinion. But there’s no doubt in my mind that young people today have little fear and respect for authority. Why? Because they’ve never been wrong and Mama and Daddy fight all their battles for them.

Discipline in our schools wouldn’t be near the problem it is if there was discipline in the home. I well remember the philosophy in our home as a child, it was simple and understandable. “If you get in trouble at school and get punished, you can expect to be dealt with quickly and severely at home.”  Also, 99.9% of the time, our parents sided with the teachers. We were taught to say, “yes sir” and “yes ma’am”. As James Dobson has suggested: “Parenting isn’t for cowards.”

I find it interesting that we can agree that the greatest generation of our nation was the World War II generation. Yet the very principles they lived by and embraced, we’ve abandoned. Maybe in a progressive society, we need to look back at some of the qualities from the past that made us the great nation we are today. Discipline is right at the top of the list. A parent who lovingly disciplines their child will gain respect from that child. The parents that don’t, well expect a lifetime of heartache because you’re probably going to experience it. You don’t have to abuse a child to discipline them, but you do have to parent them. It’s your job. After all, doesn’t God discipline his children? Just something to think about. Godspeed my friends.


September 13

The other day I received an unexpected surprise and blessings. I talked to an old friend of mine, who has never been a member of any church I’ve pastored. He reached out to me and wanted to help me publish a book of devotions. This has been a project that has been on my mind for quite some time.  While we were talking he asked me how many books did I think I could sell?  To be honest, I hadn’t really thought about it. Anyway, I’m letting you know that we’re doing our research to find the right company to take on this endeavor. As we get closer, we will keep you informed and up to date on our progress. Also, thank you for your encouragement to step out of my comfort zone and even think about this. You are truly a blessing in my life. Godspeed my friends.
 
September 12

The other day a heard an interesting story about a high school football team in California. After two games the team decided to cancel the remaining games for the year. The reason? They lost the first two games rather decisively and just decided to quit because they weren’t very good. The story went on to say that the school officials, the student body and the community was disappointed by the team’s decision. However, the rest of the season has been canceled.

As I listened to this story, I came infuriated. You see, here’s one of our biggest problems in our society. We’ve developed a mentally that says: “”Hey, if I don’t like something, I’ll just quit.” Because of this we’re raising a society of quitters. If the piano lessons become too hard, don’t worry, you can quit. If the job is too demanding, don’t fret, you can quit. If your marriage is too complicated, just quit. And when life becomes too much, yep, you can quit that as well. Whatever happened to the philosophy: “If you start something, you finish it.”?

I wonder how the lives of these players will turn out? I can tell you this, if one becomes a surgeon, I don’t want them operating on me or one of my loved ones. Most of them will end up living at home with the parents that supported this selfish decision. You reap what you sow. That’s something they’ll all have to live with.

Paul in his letter to Timothy said: “I’ve fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I’ve kept the faith.” There’s honor in finishing my friend. Oh, don’t worry, I’m sure all the players on the team got a nice “participation trophy.” Ordered and paid for by their parents. Good grief. And we wonder sometimes. Godspeed my friends.


September 11
This date, September 11, 2001, will forever be burned in the memories of our minds and hearts. Nearly 3000 individuals lost their lives due to the cowardly acts of terrorist who tried to destroy our lives and liberties we hold so dear. In honor of those individuals and the surviving families, please take a few moments out of your busy day to pray for the survivors. Pray for the first responders who risked their lives that day. Pray for the families that lost loved ones. Pray for our President, and national leaders. Pray for our world as it continues to spin out of control. Pray with assurance that though we suffered greatly, we know our God is still on the throne and he still has the whole world in his hand. May God bless you this day and may God bless America. Godspeed my friends.
 
September 10

Several years ago, while pastoring another church, we had a young man who had made his profession of faith during Vacation Bible School. However, in order for him to fully understand his decision, his parents brought him to my office to discuss his decision and to make sure he understood what he was doing. At the end of our discussion I told him that he would need to walk the aisle at the end of one of our services during the hymn of invitation. Being a somewhat shy young man, he asked if he could do it on a Tuesday night. When I informed him we didn’t have services on Tuesday night, he simply said: “I know, I don’t want to do this in front anyone.”

I understand that there are individuals who have real anxiety when it comes to crowds and getting in front of others. But I also know there are moments when we have to conquer our fears. As we talked further, I told this young man about how Jesus walked the streets of Jerusalem with a cross on his back most of the way to Calvary. We then walked down to our sanctuary and sat where he and his family usually sat on Sunday mornings during our service. We got up and counted the steps to the alter. It was less than ten. I asked him if he could take 10 steps for Jesus? After a long pause, he assured me he could.

Sunday morning came and the service entered into our time of invitation. Immediately this young man came down and took me by the hand before the whole church. I whispered into his ear: “How hard was that walk?” His reply: “The easiest 10 steps I ever walked.” Sometimes all it takes is just a little perspective on the Christian faith. When we truly understand what Jesus did for us, how can we not follow Him? Godspeed my friends.


September 9
80% of unchurched people have said they would attend a church service if invited. Just pause for a moment and think about that for a minute. That includes your neighbor, co-worker, friends, and even family members. All you have to do is simply extend a friendly invitation to someone and the odds are in your favor. The problem for many of us is, we’re just not willing to make the effort.
I pastored a church several years ago and in a staff meeting I asked: “What do you guys do for outreach?” I was shocked at the reply. “We don’t do that” they said. “We just figure if folks want to attend, they’ll come.”  Well, if that’s your philosophy, then you might as well just tell the world they can just go to Hell because you don’t care.
Start now by thinking about folks who need to get in church. All they need is a push and an invitation from you. Now just get it done. Godspeed my friends.
 
September 8

I’m not sure Kane knew what he was getting into when he decided to run with me this morning. He caught up with me around mile 2 of a five mile plus run this morning. We didn’t say much to each other and I noticed he was more of an interval runner. That means he’d run for a while and stop, then catch back up with me. He did this for over three miles. When I arrived home, I went inside and prepared a cup of coffee and grabbed my Gatorade and went outside, I noticed he was still there, trying to catch his breath. I wasn’t sure what to do, it was kind of awkward. Wasn’t our time together done? I guess not.

I noticed he had a collar around his neck and a little identification bone with his name, address, owner and phone number. I called his owner who lived at least 2 miles away and informed him that Kane was with me on my front porch. When the white truck pulled into my driveway, Kane’s tail began to wage. The man got out, and opened the back door of his truck and Kane jumped inside. The man thanked me and drove off. It was a satisfying sight to see the two back where they belonged. All it took was a little phone call.

If you find yourself drifting away from your Master and it seems as though all is lost. Remember, He’s just a prayer away. When you call upon his name, he opens the door for you to come home. Just like Kane, you can be back with the one who loves you. Godspeed my friends.

 
September 7
Sometimes it doesn’t matter who’s right, but rather who gets hurt. You can be right on a situation or a disagreement and if it hurts the person you love, you’ve lost. Relationships aren’t contest where we keep records of right and wrong. As a matter of fact, Th Apostle Paul in his first letter to the church at Corinth said in the famous “love chapter” (I Corinthians 13): “Love keeps no record of right or wrong.”  In other words, the only contest that should exist in a relationship is, who serves and loves the other the most. When you do that, less people get hurt and God blesses and honors that relationship. Godspeed my friends.
 
September 6

Yesterday I was given the name and phone number of an individual who lives in our community. He has recently lost his wife and at times the days get hard and the journey almost unbearable. His son, who is an only child is a friend of mine. As matter of fact, he was the one who gave me the number. Because of the demands of his job, he has a hard time getting back home. I told him it would be an honor to minister to his Dad.

Sometimes one doesn’t know how a contact will go when you reach out to a hurting individual. I found this man to be delightful, open, and honest. At the conclusion of our conversation he simply said: “Thank you for the call. You might see me on the back row of your church one Sunday.” What he doesn’t know is, he’ll get another call on Saturday evening reminding him of the times of our services.

Sometimes all it takes is a little time and attention to help someone get through difficult days. The problem is, we’re just too busy doing life that we fail to make the visit, place the call, or send the card. No one was more busy than Jesus, yet he always took time for people. Maybe we’d be wise to do the same. Godspeed my friends.

 
September 5

Last night I came upon a most interesting and at first glance, a rather annoying sight. Three cars in a row traveling about 20 mph. It didn’t take long to figure the situation out. The middle car had no lights. The car in the front was leading with its lights on and the car in the rear had on their flashers to signal caution to the traffic behind. In other words, two were helping one in the the darkness.

There are times in our life when the light of Christ either grows dim or shuts off all together. Due to the circumstances and sometimes onslaught of life we find ourselves in the dark and feeling all alone. Before you know it, out of no where, a light appears. It may come from a note, a text, a hug, a word of encouragement or even a friendly visit. These are two little God winks that the Lord sends our way to remind us we’re not alone. I can’t tell you how many times in my life I’ve felt alone and isolated. In those solitude moments I’ve questioned my calling and my faith. The light may not be out, but there’s an eclipse at midday. All of a sudden, a small light shines through an unexpected source. And when I say unexpected, I mean so unexpected it could come from no else but God. Does it make a difference? You bet it does.

Remember, John in his writings reminded us: “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot comprehend it.” (John 1:5) Your never left alone in the darkness because there’s always one who knows how to turn on the light. Just fall in behind him and he’ll guide you home. Godspeed my friends.

 
September 4

I’ve noticed over the years that a tragedy will do one of two things to an individual. It will either draw them closer to God or move them further from Him. If it moves them further away, the individual is working with the mindset that this tragic situation was caused by God. So often someone will say to me: “Why did God do this to me?” We need to be reminded what the Psalmist said: “I will lift my eyes unto the hills, where does my help come from? It comes from the Lord.” (Psalm 121) Did you notice it didn’t say: “My tragedy comes from the Lord.” You see we live in a fallen world where bad things happen to good people. That’s just the reality of the situation. God doesn’t send them, but he does allow them based on free will of choice.

However, there are those who draw closer to God in moments of heartbreak. They find strength they never imagined. They may not mount up on eagle’s wings or run, or even walk. But strength is given to stand. Suddenly when the fog begins to lift, they notice they haven’t been standing alone. The hand of God has been on their shoulder the whole time. Draw closer to God in the darkness and you’ll find He’s right by your side. Godspeed my friends.

 
September 3

There’s a sentence we often use when trying to comfort a hurting friend. In order to be empathetic to the situation we say: “I know exactly how you feel.” The reason we utter this sentence is because we’ve experienced a similar situation in our lives. Because of that we assume we know how the hurting individual is feeling. Well let me just say this. You don’t know how another person feels.

Every situation in life is different. We respond and react differently as individuals to crisis and tragic events. Not only is every situation different, but every relationship is different. When you say you know how someone else feels, your working under the premise that all the factors in another person’s life is exactly like yours. And that my friend simply isn’t reality.

The best thing you can say to a hurting person is: “I’ve been through a similar situation and this helped me in a positive way.” I’ve always worked under the rule that it’s not as important to say something to a hurting person as it is to be there for them during their time of pain. Misery doesn’t necessarily love answers and cliches, it loves company. Be present and just be silent, you’ll be surprised how much it will mean to another person. Godspeed my friends.

 
September 2
No one said life would be easy or fair. As a matter of fact, Jesus himself said: “In this world you will have trouble.”  However, he also went on to say: “But be of good cheer, because I’ve already overcome the world.”  So in Christ, the victory has already been decided. The only question you must settle in your mind is, are you going to allow Christ to live in and through you? What a comfort to know that no matter how fierce the battle, the war has already been decided. That’s a victory we all can celebrate. Godspeed my friends.
 
September 1
I’ve often been asked the question: “How hard is it to do a funeral for someone you don’t know?”  The answer is always the same. “Not very hard when you have adequate information on the individual.”  The hard services are for the ones you’re the closest to in life. The closer I am to the deceased or the family, the more I have to distance myself from them prior to the service. One has to departmentalize their mind in order to do what has to be done. It is emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually exhausting. The older I get, the longer it takes to recuperate.
At every graveside service I do, I tell the grieving family: “I’ve never sat where you’re sitting today. I’m always the one standing by the casket.”  It was true with my father-in-law, my Dad, and my mother.  However, God has strengthened me over the years to get through some mighty tough services. My preaching professor in seminary told us: “As the minister, you are the symbol and the personification of hope and strength. If you break down and come apart, it will effect the grieving family.”  My time comes later, in the still solitude of the night. When you grasp the magnitude of the situation. I’ve also learned I have to be prayed up and prepared spiritually before the service.
When you lose a loved one, the sting of death is devastating. As a Pastor, you feel that sting far too often and believe me, it can take its toil. But in reality, there’s no place I’d rather be in that moment, than standing by the casket because of the hope found and realized in Christ Jesus. It’s my highest honor as a minister of the gospel. Godspeed my friends.

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