OCTOBER 3

It has happened to all of us on both ends of the spectrum. We’ve been the one who has said it and we’ve been the one who has heard it. The scene varies from place to place. A friend tells you they are going to the doctor to have some tests run on them. You quickly reply: “I’ll keep you in my prayers.” But do you? You find yourself at a funeral visitation and when you speak to the grieving family, the following words come out of your mouth: “We’re going to be lifting you up in our prayers.” But will you? A co-worker of yours get a call concerning a family emergency. As they are headed out the door you reassure them: “We’re praying for you!” But are you?

We’ve almost reduced the word “prayer” to a cliche used in time of distress and emergencies. When you tell someone you’re going to pray for them and don’t, it’s almost blasphemous. I’d rather have someone say: “We’ll be thinking about you” if they’re not going to pray for me. Praying for someone is the greatest thing you can do for another person. You are taking that individual’s burden to the throne of the Creator of the Universe. You are boldly and confidently going into the presence of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. There is nothing higher that you can do for another person.

The next time you tell someone: “I’m going to pray for you.” Why not do it right then and right there. You don’t have to pray for an hour, just a sentence or two will be fine. But do it. Will it make a difference? Of course it will. Don’t miss the opportunity to be a blessing to someone in need. Godspeed my friends.

 

OCTOBER 2

One of my biggest pet peeves is when a sports team loses a game, some individuals feel the need to reaffirm their allegiance to that team on social media. For instance, if Mississippi State goes down in defeat in a humiliating fashion, like this past weekend, someone will post: “Our boy’s came up short, but I still love my Bulldogs! Hail State!” Or if Ole Miss takes it on the chin, the Rebel faithful will exclaim: “We might have lost the game, but we won the party. Love my Rebels! Hotty Toddy!” At least LSU fans are a little more transparent. They can go 11-1 and they want to fire someone!! That’s why I love my LSU buddies. But why do we feel the need to reassure our sports teams that we’re still faithful?

 

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen the same passion in the spiritual realm. When was the last time you saw someone post the following: “My family is falling apart, but I’m holding on to my faith.” “I lost my job today, but I know the plans God has for me. Plans to bless me, not harm me.” “I was diagnosed with cancer yesterday, but I’m still trusting God!” “I lost my spouse, child, parent, or friend, but even in the darkness, I’m holding on to God.” It’s easy to follow Christ when you’re on a winning streak, but can you remain faithful when all you feel is defeat? I know I’m being just a tad bit sarcastic, but sometimes the world needs to hear from believers that God does make a difference.

 

Anyone can sing: “How great is our God” when all is well. But can you sing when your life seems out of control? Start proving to others that He makes a difference in this life and the life to come. Godspeed my friends.

 

OCTOBER 1

Over the last four weeks I’ve been leading a men’s group at our church through Dennis Swanberg’s book, “The Man Code.” It’s a study based on various relationships men ought to have with other men. I think this is the fourth time I’ve had the opportunity to facilitate this study and each time I’m encouraged and sometimes discouraged. I’m encouraged by the guys who faithfully show up each week for the study. However, I’m often discouraged and hurt when I’m reminded at how lonely so many men are in life. I would highly recommend that all men get this book and read through it. If you’re a pastor, consider leading a group of men through this much needed study.

 

Last night’s lesson was on the importance of having 12 friends you can do things with in life, apart from your family. Family time is a given. While preparing for the study I sent a text to my wife and two daughters and asked them the following: “If something happened to me, who would you ask to be the pallbearers at my funeral. (Of course within five minutes, Tommi Jo not only had the pallbearers but the order of service and the place she’d be moving. I had to remind her this was a hypothetical situation for my study.) I was amazed how close the three lists were, but also how hard it was to pick just a few men.

 

Friends are a gift we give ourselves. Friends are those folks who know all about us and still love us. Ladies, you need to allow and encourage your husbands to have men friends. Remember, “Iron sharpens Iron.” I’m so grateful for the friends God has blessed me with over the years. The Lord knew I needed all the help I could get so He has surrounded me with individuals better than me. I pray I’ve been half as good a friend, as mine have been to me. Hopefully the same is true in your life. Now excuse me, I need to go as Tommi Jo is now picking out my casket. Godspeed my friends.



SEPTEMBER 30

Man, you talk about a rough weekend, it was tough. First of all I woke up Saturday morning with a touch of the stomach bug which kept me from running that morning and attending a family function. Then, to make matters worse I was Auburn score and score, and score as if they were playing against air as my Bulldogs took it on the chin. My football fantasy team got drilled and the Cowboys took a tough loss. The Yankees lost two of three. And to make matters worse, I almost lost a dear friend and staff member in an automobile accident. But wait a minute, maybe the weekend wasn’t so tough.

 

On Friday night we had the opportunity to enjoy a meal with some good friends. On Saturday evening I was feeling good enough for my grandson to come see me and go to church with us the next day. During our service God used that time to speak to the hearts of several individuals. My friend who had the car accident was feeling better and realized God’s not finished with him yet. All in all I’d say the weekend was pretty decent when you realize what’s really important.

 

Sometimes we need to prioritize our lives and remember what’s most important. If you have your faith in God, a healthy family, and good friends, consider yourself blessed. Because blessed is what you are if those things exist in your life.


SEPTEMBER 29

Remember, as a church, we are the body of Christ. If you don’t show up to worship, it has a negative effect on the entire body.

SEPTEMBER 27

 

I’ve noticed over the years that some of the most critical people of a coach and the team are individuals who never played the sport. But somehow, someway, they have all the answers to why the team is underachieving. It’s probably because they’ve read the latest blog of a so called expert. But I can assure you it’s not because they know what it’s like to be in the trenches fighting against an opponent that wants to win as much as you.

 

I also find it interesting that people who are so critical of teachers have never taught themselves. They’ve never known what it’s like to make out a lesson plan or give extra time to a struggling student. And by the way, for the most part, your child’s teacher isn’t being unfair to your child for the fun of it. Do you know what it’s like to try to make learning fun and interesting to a child that’s known how to operate an iPhone since they were a year old?

 

I’ve also noticed over the years that those who are most critical of ministers and others serving in the name of Christ are usually doing nothing themselves to advance the Kingdom. These individuals are quick to point out the faults and weaknesses of their ministers, but they’ve never preached a sermon, planned a worship service, or even led a single person to faith in Christ.

 

Before you start criticizing those who are diligently serving everyday and trying to make a difference in people’s lives, roll up your sleeves and start serving yourself. When you do this, you’ll find it’s harder to be a fault finder in others. Unless you’ve been there, be careful how you judge and speak. Godspeed my friends.



SEPTEMBER 26

 

So often we look at the lives of others and then look at our own situation and wonder why we merited the mess we’re in at the moment. These feelings are especially frustrating for a Christian because we ask the same question that’s asked over and over again throughout scripture: “Why do the wicked prosper and the righteous suffer?” I mean all you have to do is go to any social media site and you’ll see how everyone has it all together except you. There are moments when you want to scream: “God, if you’re not going to work with me, at least don’t work against me.”

 

Before you stop reading and start accusing me of blasphemy, you need to understand that God honors an honest prayer. He’s big enough to handle your anger, frustrations, your doubts and your fears. Whatever you’re feeling, He can handle it. So how do we handle the seemingly unfairness of life?

 

First, you need to understand that everyone’s life is messy and every family has its own level of dysfunction. There are times when I think my family has put the “fun” in dysfunction. One of the biggest lies Satan whispers in your ear is: “See, everyone else is doing well and this Christian stuff ain’t cutting it!” Don’t buy the lie. God has not promised us a life free from pain or suffering, but He has promised us that nothing will separate us from His presence.

 

Finally, remember when He created the world He said: “It is good.” He didn’t say it is perfect. The reality of life is there are times when we’re up and times when we’re down. Remember, there was only one perfect man on earth and they certainly made Him suffer. Wait on the Lord. Be patient and wait on the Lord. (Psalm 27:14) Trust me, He’s closer than you think. Godspeed my friends.

 

SEPTEMBER 25

The other day I tweaked my hamstring in a freak accident. Now if you’re a runner, you’ll understand how important that hamstring is when you’re hitting the pavement. Yesterday when I went out for my morning run it was slow, short and deliberate. I was so worried that I’d do further damage to the injury that was being nursed back to health. This morning’s run started the same way, but a voice inside my head said: “Sooner or later you’re going to have to push this thing a little harder.” So we kicked it in and ran faster and farther than the day before.

 

In times of testing and uncertainty, sooner or later you’re going to have to kick in your faith and push through. In order to do that draw from your experiences from the past. Remember how God was faithful then and understand He’ll be faithful now. A good pilot practices every emergency possible so that when it happens, he/she knows what to do. Doctors and nurses practice many different situations so they’ll have the knowledge to face them as they come. Every football team will practice for what their opponent tends to do so they’ll know their assignment when it happens. Likewise, each and everyday exercise your faith and draw on the experiences you’ve had in the past. However, there are things you need to be doing to prepare.

 

First, you need to be reading God’s word. The Bible wasn’t meant to be admired nor debated. It was meant to be read and applied to our lives. You can’t know God if you don’t read His word.

 

Second, you need to talk to God. A personal prayer life is the heartbeat of the Christian faith. When we talk about prayer that means a time of talking and a time of listening. Have you ever thought God might want to be saying some things to you?

 

Finally, one must walk with God. When trouble hit, you shouldn’t have to call out to Him because He should already be at your side. The one thing He’s promised us as His children is, He’ll never leave us nor forsake us. Grow in your faith and the heavy burdens will be lighter and the trials will be shared. Of this I’m quite sure. Godspeed my friends.


SEPTEMBER 24

Bitterness and anger can eat at your soul like a cancer. Oh, it may not take your life, but it can keep your life from being what it’s supposed to be. Maybe you're  stuck in neutral because of what someone has done to you in the past. Maybe some friend violated a confidence and now you don’t know who to trust. Quite possibly someone turned on you without warning and now you don’t want to get close to anyone. Or it could be in your greatest moment on need, the one you thought would be there, never showed up. Now you feel alone. The bad part about loneliness is your thoughts will betray you. In your mind you’ll hear a voice that says: “Nobody really cares and you can’t trust anyone.” Before you know it, bitterness and anger set in your heart. You become cynical to life and you wonder how can it get better?

Well, you get to decide today if you want to get better or stay bitter. We need to come to the realization that people aren’t perfect and if you put you faith and trust in them, sooner or later they’ll let you down. Sometimes, and most often, it will happen unintentionally. However, the evil one will tell you just the opposite. If you decide to stay bitter and angry, the person you’re hurting the most is you. Don’t you think it’s time to get healthy?

Finally, remember that God loves you in spite of your shortcomings. How many times have you let Him down? How many times have you broken your word to Him? If He can forgive you, you can forgive others and remove the thorn of anger and bitterness from your heart. It’s your choice, better or bitter? One little letter can make a huge difference. Godspeed my friends.

 

SEPTEMBER 23 

Never enter into a relationship thinking you’re going to change an individual. If that individual was selfish, self-centered, abusive, and ill-tempered before you, there’s a good chance they’re going to be the same while with you. So don’t be surprised when the “real person” shows up in your presence. Furthermore, it’s not your job to change people’s hearts and personalities. Your job is to love others and provide a Godly influence for them. I’ve learned the hard way over the years that often times, people will revert back to their old habits.

Several years ago, while pastoring in another town, a young lady came by to see me for counseling. She lived in another community and county, so she must have wanted to go where she wasn’t known. She had moved out of her home with her parents and married a man who was physically abusive. She thought she could change him. She said to me: “If you’ll come to our trailer and talk to him, I’m sure he’ll listen to you and start living right.” I asked her if he knew I would be coming? “No” she said. “If he knew, he’d never let you in. We need to surprise him.” I told her one of three things would happen if I showed up unannounced. “First, he’d beat me up. Second, I’d beat him up. Or third, he’d listen, then when I left, he’d kill you.” I finally talked her into calling her Dad and going home. I’ll never forget the reunion they had. The past was over and all that was important was her safety.

People were never meant to be projects. If you need a project, paint the bathroom. Remember, you can’t change a person. However, God can. Remember your role and allow God to do His. Godspeed my friends.


SEPTEMBER 22

You can be in a crowded room and still feel alone. You can be driving down the interstate with GPS and map in hand and still be lost. You can be laughing your head off and still be unhappy. You can be sitting in a church and never worship. So the choice will be yours today. As you gather for cooperate worship you’ll either be an asset or a liability. The good news is, you get to choose.

You can be a liability by your attitude. Do you realize that as folks are coming into your church they are observing you. A visitor will decide before the pastor ever opens his mouth whether or not they’ll return. You’re also a liability by how you participate in worship. You do understand that worship is a verb which calls you to action. In other words, do something.

You can be an asset by how you conduct yourself. Are you friendly? Are you active? Are you aware that the Living God wants and desires your worship this day. Are you ready to say: “This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it. Help others see Jesus in you this day! Godspeed my friends.

 

SEPTEMBER 21

This past Wednesday I had the honor of caddying for my good friend John McIntyre in the Sanderson Farms Pro-Am. This is my third year to be on the bag for John. If you don’t know how this works, three amateurs are paired up with one of the professionals participating in the tournament. Our pro turned out to be John Stallings who won the Sanderson in 2012. What I found out about this young man was he’s a PK. Yep, he’s a preacher’s kid. We shared a lot of interesting stories.

What I’ve learned over the years is, caddying is a hard job. When you see them on television each week, it doesn’t look too bad. Just strap 50 or more pounds to your back and walk 8 miles or more in 98 degree weather. It’s hard. The caddy is there to serve the player. He not only has to make sure he’s hydrated, but the player as well. He has to be available to give valuable information to help his player be successful. Nobody knows who he is, for the player is always more important. In reality, it is a life of service.

Today, in our society, not many want to be the caddy. I’m not talking about being an actual caddy, but rather a servant. We want to be served rather than serving others. However, I believe it was our Lord, on the night he was betrayed, who took a towel and basin and washed the feet of his disciples. Didn’t he say: “The greatest of all is the servant of all.” Maybe we need a few more caddies out there in our churches, work places, and our homes. When we find ourselves by losing ourselves, then we find life and purpose. Are you ready to pick up the bag and serve? If so, begin today. Godspeed my friends.

 

SEPTEMBER 20

Each year about this time I have the opportunity to serve as the chaplain for the Sanderson Farms Championship Golf Tournament. Now this really doesn’t mean that I have any involvement with the players, but I serve the employees and guests of Sanderson. Before you think it’s all fun and games, two years ago a young employee of Sanderson Farms choked on a piece of steak at one of the dinners. A few days later he lost his life. I spent most of my time with his sweet family.

Yesterday we went into a weather delay, so we headed back to the hotel. We were sitting in a hospitality room, just me and my good friend Robbie Savant. A young man from Sanderson walked up and we began to talk. On Tuesday night, at the pairs dinner, I had the opportunity to speak and tell about my grandson Miles journey. The young man told me I wept as you told the story. Come to find out, he and his wife had suffered multiple miscarriages. I asked him if we could pray for him right there. He agreed. After we prayed, we exchanged numbers so we could keep up with each other. He said: “I don’t believe it was a coincidence that you were here for me. I told him I agreed.

Always be ready to be a blessing to someone. There are hurting folks all around us. The problem is, we’re just too busy to notice. Someone you meet today might need a special touch or a word of encouragement. You may need to be the hands and feet of Christ today. What are you waiting for? Godspeed my friends.

 

SEPTEMBER 19

I met Frank and Mike last year, but didn’t get to spend much time with either one of them. However, this year was different. We shared four meals and two rounds of golf. We talked, told stories, and laughed. These two highly successful businessmen freely gave of their time to get to know me. Are we best friends? No, but we’re now friends who plan to stay in touch with each other. As you navigate through life, you need all the friends you can get. Remember, friends are a gift you give yourself.

The same is true with God. Do you know Him or know of Him? Do you have a casual relationship with him in that you’ll call on him when you need something, or do you know Him personally? In order to know Him, you have to spend time with Him. I can tell you this, He knows everything about you and still wants a relationship with you. In other words, He wants to call you friend.

I’m thankful for my two new friends. God knows in all my weaknesses I need good people around me. Hopefully you have the ultimate friend for life in a man named Jesus. He’ll make all the difference in this world and the world to come. Godspeed my friends.

 

SEPTEMBER 18

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve witnessed good people going through horrific situations. It seems when the bad days start coming our way, they come in waves. Some have suggested they come in groups of threes. For example, you lose a loved one to death, then you may have to put a parent in an assisted living facility. Next, your work starts piling up on you and the pressure becomes unbearable. The final straw is when your child starts rebelling against everything you ever taught them. You get to a point where you want to say: “God if you’re not going to work with me, at least don’t work against me. Let me remind you of a few things which may help you.

First, no matter what you’ve heard or been taught, life at best is hard. It’s hard even when you feel as though for the most part you’re doing things right. Why? Because we live in a fallen world where bad things happen to good people. Just because you walk with God doesn’t mean you won’t experience setbacks and disappointments.

Second, life’s not fair. If you want fair, you need to head to the place where the merry-go-round and Ferris wheel is operational. And by the way, no matter how bad it is, be glad you don’t get what you deserve because it can always get worse.

Finally, remember, God hasn’t promised us a life free from sorry and pain. However He has promised us that He’ll never leave you nor forsake you. You may not mount up on wings like eagles. You may not run or walk. But strength will be given to stand. The key is, you’ll never stand alone. Godspeed my friends.

 

SEPTEMBER 17

Tony Bennett, head coach of the University of Virginia, turned down a lucrative raise two days ago. This comes on the heels of Bennett and his Cavaliers winning the National Championship this past year in men’s college basketball. Instead of cashing in on his success, Bennett requested for the school to give raises to his staff and make improvements to their facilities. Then Coach Bennett turned around and gave a gift of 500,000.00 to the Career Program at the University.

What you may or may not know is, Tony Bennett isn’t motivated by money. He is a dedicated Christian who lives out his faith each and every day. He doesn’t yell or cuss at his players or coaches. He doesn’t throw hissy fits on the bench. Last year one commentator said: “He might be too nice to win the big one!” What that commentator didn’t realize is this: Through Christ, Toney Bennett has already won. Godspeed my friends.

 

SEPTEMBER 16

You’ve heard the expression: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” That, my friend, is an outright lie. Sometimes our words can hit harder than our fist ever could. Have you ever thought about the power of words? Words can encourage us or discourage us. Words can build us up or put us down. Words can motivate us or they can take the wind out of our sails. Words can start a relationship and they can also end one. Never underestimate the power of the words that pour out of your mouth.

But on the other hand, there are times when we have held back the words that could make a difference in someone’s life. I can’t tell us how many men have told me that they never heard their father say: “I love you.” I can’t imagine a person never expressing love to their own child. But on the other hand, how many times have we never said: “I’m sorry.” A simple apology to someone we love can make the difference in whether that relationship will continue or end. However, our foolish pride keeps us from saying the very words we need to say.

The Psalmist reminded us: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, oh Lord, my strength and redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14) May that be true of us today. Godspeed my friends.

 

SEPTEMBER 15

Here a few things to consider today. If you choose to attend church, you’ll probably get to sit in an air conditioned room. More than likely you will know the people around you. You shouldn’t have to pay for parking. The refreshments, if served are usually free. If you don’t know the songs, the words will be provided. You probably won’t see anyone pass out due to heat exhaustion. And more than likely, a member of the staff will speak to you.

If you attend church today, you’ll have an opportunity to have a one on one encounter with the Creator of the universe. You’ll have an opportunity to express your gratitude to Him for all the blessings He has given to you in your life. If you attend church, you might witness something supernatural in that the Holy Spirit may speak to someone’s heart. If you attend church, your heart and life might turn back to what it was intended to be from the beginning. If you attend church, you just might experience a life changing event.

People who say church attendance isn’t important are dead wrong. Get up and get ready to worship The King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Godspeed my friends.

 

SEPTEMBER 14

The last few days I’ve told you about the struggles your pastor might be facing. For the most part, you’ll never hear these individuals express the burdens they’re facing. To do so for many would be the perception that their faith is weak and their walk with God is null and void. Neither is the case most of the time. The expectations they have to live up to are sometimes unrealistic and unattainable. They are to preach like Billy Graham, have a heart for missions like William Cary, be personable like your favorite uncle, and compassionate like Florence Nightingale. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt to be a great fund raiser like Oral Roberts or Jerry Falwell. And for goodness sakes, don’t be like our last two preachers, But be just like our former preacher because we all loved him.

 

Have you ever thought that the majority of things a pastor deals with is negative? He is constantly surrounded by hospitals, funeral homes, broken lives, and messy situations. The pastor has a hard time balancing home and work, stress and relaxation, and encouragement and discouragement. There’s never a line at his door telling him what a good job he’s doing. However, you can bet if the toilets overflow, or the A/C units go out, he’ll hear about it.

 

So why does he do it? Because he has a higher calling that most people will never understand. Oh, and the good stuff like a 70 year old woman, a 53 year old man, and an 8 year old boy giving their life to Christ in the last month gives them the strength to carry on in their ministry. I have a great church that encourages and loves me more than I deserve. However, some of my preacher friends aren’t so fortunate. Tomorrow, while attending church, tell your pastor you appreciate him. You’ll be surprised at the difference it will make. Godspeed my friends.

 

SEPTEMBER 13

In light of the recent death of Jarrid Wilson, pastor of megachurch in California, so many questions have been raised. The notion that a man of faith and an advocate for mental health and suicide prevention could take his own life is almost mind blowing. But let me remind you that pastors and ministers aren’t super heroes nor perfect people. No, sir! We are regular individuals who suffer and hurt just like everyone else. 

Several years ago, around 20 to be exact, I was talking to a group of high school classmates at our 20th reunion. A question was asked by one of my friends: “What is the hardest part of the ministry?” Without hesitation I replied: “  It’s the loneliness that one deals with in their life.” Now I don’t say that to garner your sympathy, nor to sing along with Linda Rhonstadt, “Poor, poor pitiful me.” Folks  just a plain and simple truth. 

Also, a hard lesson we ministers have to learn and the same will apply in your life. Sometimes the individuals you do the most for in life are the ones that turn on you the fastest. No matter how many times it happens, it breaks off a piece of your heart that cannot be replaced. The voice of one disgruntled person can drown out a choir of folks singing your praises. That’s why I live with the understanding that I’m one sermon or one decision from being handed over to an angry mob. 

I grieve for Pastor Wilson and his family. Most folks would say: “He should have known he was loved.” When you’re in the darkness, it’s hard to find the light. Encourage someone today. It will and can make all the difference in the world. Godspeed my friends.

 

SEPTEMBER 12

Yesterday as I was scrolling down on Facebook, a headline caught my attention. It read: “Megachurch Pastor Commits Suicide.” As I read further it went on to say: “Jarrid Wilson, pastor, author, and mental health advocate apparently took his own life.” Now to be perfectly honest, I had never heard of Pastor Wilson, but he was obviously loved by a lot of individuals. He, himself ran a suicide outreach operation to help save the lives of others who were dealing with the same issues that ultimately led to his death. What would drive someone in his position to do such a thing? 

Well, I’m not going to pretend for a moment to have any answers to such complicated questions. However, I do know that depression and mental illnesses are real and they are dangerous. The problem with the church is we don’t want to talk about such messy and possible embarrassing subjects. Listen closely, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and other mental illnesses can happen to anyone. If one suffers from one of these diseases, and yes it’s a disease like cancer or heart disease, it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with their Christian faith. Also, there are certain problems one cannot simple pray themselves out of in their lives.

In my opinion, the church over the years has done a sorry job of addressing the subjects of depression and darkness. And the sad part is, these issues are dealt with time and time again throughout scripture. If you don’t believe me, read about Elijah, Jeremiah, David, many of the writers of the Psalms, and even John the Baptist. The reality of the situation is, life at best is hard and no one is exempt from the dark days 

But finally, remember, suicide is never the answer. Find someone to talk with about how you feel. Seek a friend, family member, pastor or counselor and get help. Jarrid Wilson turned his back on the very people who could have helped him. Because of his actions, his family, friends, and church will never be the same again. The reality is, it didn’t have to end this way. The same is true for all of us. Help is usually one call away. Godspeed my friends.


SEPTEMBER 11

Have you said what needs to be said? Have you left undone those things which you should have done? Can you say with full confidence: “If something were to happen to me today, I’d leave this world with no regrets.” You might think: “That’s just preacher talk and you’re trying to scare us.” Nope, that’s not the case at all. 18 years ago today, 3000 people left their homes for what they thought was a normal ordinary day. They never returned home. You and I remember it as 9/11. Their families and friends remember it as the day that forever changed their lives. 

You do understand that today is the only day you’ve been promised. Proverbs 27:1 reminds us: “Boast not of tomorrow for you know not what a day may bring.” James in his short epistle suggested: “Life is like a vapor.” (James 4:14) It’s here one moment and gone the next. Today is the only day you’ve been given so you might have some work to do. You may need to ask someone to forgive you. You might need to tell someone you love them. You might need to have a long talk with your creator. Whatever you need to do, get it done. Why? The simple reason is, life at best is uncertain.

3000 people 18 years ago thought: “Oh, there will be other days.” Little did they know, that was the only day. Don’t make that mistake. Godspeed my friends.

 

SEPTEMBER 10

The other day I went into the post office to mail out some of my books. We designate Friday as our mail out day so we won’t be going to the post office every day. Due to the fact that each package has to be weighed and stamped, I gave a copy of my book to the two ladies who help me. This past Friday, the one who was helped me said: “ I’ve been enjoying your book. My son tore up his ankle and he’s been reading it too. But I have to ask, do you have a ghost writer?”

I told my sweet friend that usually only famous folks have ghost writers, of which I’m not. She came back and said: “Well you’re the only person I know who wrote a book, so that makes you famous in my eyes.” I guess it’s all a matter of perspective.

There are times when we need a little perspective and change the way we see things. We may think we have it tough in life until we see what others are going through. Then we realize how good we have it in our own world. Maybe today you need to refocus your life, count your blessings and not your troubles. Then you’ll see how good God has been and is being in your life. Godspeed my friends. 

SEPTEMBER 9

Yesterday I had the opportunity to worship at my home church, First Baptist, Clinton, Ms. Whenever, I’m back for a service it always surprises a lot of my old friends because they realize I don’t miss too many Sundays at my current church. Well, one dear friend of mine, which I’ve not seen in a while came up to me and said: “Well, if it’s not the obnoxious grandfather. You know he’s not the only grandchild in the world, don’t you?” This did affirm to me that I’m doing the grandparent gig the right way because most grandparents feel like their grandchildren are the only ones on the planet. I simply grinned and said: “To me, he is the only one and there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for him.” 

When you bring that thought into the spiritual realm, you begin to understand the magnitude of God’s love for you. Consider the most familiar passage in all the Bible, John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” You are so important to God that he was willing to give His son as a ransom for your sins. That’s some kind of love.

I know a lot of you extremely well as my friends. You’ve been encouraging and supportive throughout my ministry. But if you think for a moment I’d sacrifice my children, or my grandchild for your mistakes. You have another thought coming. But that’s what God did. How can anyone turn their back on such love? Hopefully you haven’t. Godspeed my friends.

 

SEPTEMBER 8

There are a lot of things we miss as pastors. Things you take for granted each week. For instance, we never get to sit with our family during a worship service, unless we have a visiting preacher or special program. There is no such thing as a weekend. Frank Pollard, former pastor of FBC Jackson was asked one Sunday: “How was your weekend?” He reply: “What’s a weekend?” It’s just the aspect of the job and one knows what they’re signing up for if called into the ministry.

Today I’ll sit back in the pew of another church and watch as my grandson is dedicated to the Lord. There would have been a time in my ministry when I would have felt guilty. However, I’ve learned not to rob myself of such hallmark situations. I plan to be there when he’s baptized as well.

Remember, allow your pastor to be a part of his children’s and grandchildren’s lives. I can assure you, there’s no do overs in those areas. Godspeed my friends.

 

SEPTEMBER 7

I’m not a big fan of travel ball, be it baseball, soccer, or basketball. From a physical standpoint, the human body wasn’t designed to throw a baseball over and over again. To be honest, I’m not so sure the ankles, knees and back were designed for the pounding of a basketball court for a majority of one’s childhood and youth. I’d rather see children play seasonal sports at the designated time. In other words, play baseball in the summer, football and soccer in the fall, and basketball in the winter. I think a child is better off being well rounded and later on focusing on one sport.

Over the years I’ve watched parents burn their children and themselves out traveling from one city to the next to compete in a particular sport. To be honest, the risk of burning a child out early is high and instead of loving a sport, they’ll soon hate it. Think about the following statistics: Only 7% of high school athletes will ever play college sports. Less than 2% will play at a Division 1 college. Oh, and the percentage of high school football players that will play in the NFL, .009%. The largest percent of high school athletes that play college sports participate in Division III programs where scholarships aren’t even offered.

However, consider these statistics: 1 out of every 1 dies. 1 out of every one will stand before God and give an account of their lives. 1 out of every 1 will hear either: “Well done” or “depart from me.” These facts aren’t up for debate. Make sure you give your child every opportunity to succeed spiritually. In the long run, it’s the only thing that lasts an eternity. Godspeed my friends.

 

SEPTEMBER 6

Football season is now in full swing. High school games are basically in their third week, which I think is absolutely absurd. College football enters into their second week and the NFL began last night. On any given weekend, half of the teams playing will lose. Some will be outmatched and outmanned. For some, a loss will result in not paying attention to the little things. Others, to be quite frank, willnget out coached. But think about it, half will walk away as losers.

My brother Pete Hurt, who has coached at every level, including being a college head coach, once said: “Winning is hard. If the average fan knew what it took to win one game, they might be a little more understanding.” He’s right. Winning is hard because it makes certain demands and decisions which not many are willing to make. However, winning and success has to begin in the mind and the heart. It is in those two areas you can’t measure nor predict.

The same is true in our faith. There is nothing easy about the Christian faith. It is demanding and requires much of every believer. We have to die to ourselves every day. We must love our enemies and forgive those who persecute us. We must not only go one mile, which is duty, but we must be willing to go the second. We have to forgive those who hurt us in order to receive forgiveness. We must remove ourselves from the center of our hearts and allow Christ to be central. There’s nothing easy about it. However, remember this huge truth which often gets overlooked. Our victory is guaranteed. Yep, that’s right, we will be victorious over sin, death, and Hell. So press on and do the little things which will lead to big victories. Have faith, the battle has already been won. Hallelujah, what a Savior. Godspeed my friends.


SEPTEMBER 5

I was never good in math. Not at all! As a matter of fact, I was so bad, in ninth grade mathematics my teacher told me I’d never go to college and might not make it out of high school. (Don’t you love an encourager like that?) Anyway, I digress. It seems to me that though I didn’t learn very much, I did learn some about “common denominators.” If I remember correctly, and I probably don’t, if you have two or more numbers, you need to find one number they have in common. If that’s not it, it’s close enough to make my point.

What’s true in mathematics is also true in life. Sometimes when your dealing with broken or strained relationships, you might want to find the “common denominator.” In other words, if your struggling to get along with your parents, your in-laws, your spouse, or your best friend, you might want to see what they all have in common. It might be you. If you quit a job because you can’t get along with your co-workers only to find the same is true with your new job. What’s the “common denominator?” And finally, if you leave a church because you’re not satisfied or upset and six months later you’re just as dissatisfied with the churches you’re attending, yep, you got it. It may be you.

Sometimes we have to have an epiphany. An eye opening experience. Like the prodigal son, we need to come to our senses. We have faced the enemy and the enemy is us. But what’s so sad is it’s easier just to blame the rest of the world. After all, everyone has formed a confederacy against you. And we wonder why we live in a world of entitlement. Get healthy, stop blaming others and move on with your life. Godspeed my friends.


SEPTEMBER 4

In our carport we have two light fixtures. In each of those fixtures there are two bulbs. Over the past month or so, due to neglect and laziness, we were down to one active light bulb. We weren’t exactly living in the dark ages, but rather the dim ages. This is a situation you never think about until the night time. By then, you just don’t want to fool with it. That was until this weekend. Why? Because sometimes you just get tired of sitting in the darkness, and we were one bulb from it.

On Saturday, Tommi Jo remembered our situation and bought four new LED bulbs to solve our dilemma. I installed them in the afternoon between the ballgames which were on TV. It wasn’t until the night that we realized how bright they were and how dark it had been. Our carport now lights up like the Griswold’s house from Christmas vacation. I’m afraid an airplane will mistake it for a small runway. All because the lights are now burning bright.

It’s sad to see the lights go out in an individual. I’ve seen it happen over and over again throughout my ministry. There are individuals who were once excited about their faith. They couldn’t wait to get to church, read their Bible, or just serve. Now they’re suffering an eclipse of the soul. If I’m talking to you, don’t you think it’s time to get back to the joy of His salvation? Sometimes all it takes is for the lights to come on once again. Aren’t you tired of sitting in the darkness? What are you waiting for my friend? He’s one prayer away. Godspeed my friends.


SEPTEMBER 3

Around three months or so, our county decided to repair a bridge on one of our main roads. The bridge that existed was far too narrow and posed a threat to on coming traffic. The construction of a new bridge meant that all traffic was forced to take a detour through the local neighborhood. The problem for me was, I used this road all the time. This route took me to the post office, the barber, and the car wash. Every time I wanted to travel this road, there was that cotton picking sign: “Bridge Out, Detour Straight Ahead.” Until the road and bridge reopened, it was just inconvenient.

But there are detours you and I have to face each and everyday. As a matter of fact, no one escapes them. You lose your job after 30 plus years of service, detour straight ahead. Your spouse decides after 25 years of marriage they want out, detour straight ahead. The doctor comes into the conference room and says: “I’m sorry, it’s cancer, detour straight ahead. A loved one you come to depend on suddenly dies, detour straight ahead. What do you do when that sign suddenly appears in front of you?

Well, it may sound simple, but you have to travel the road before you, regardless of the detour. Joseph, in the Old Testament did. He found himself in prison, detour straight ahead. Then he became the Prime Minister of Egypt. Even in the detour, God was working to bring about good. When that road was out, I found myself not noticing for a while. It gave me a new perspective. Maybe your new road map in life will do the same. Even in the detour, God is there. Now if you’re traveling through Birmingham, you better hope He’s with you. He and He alone will safely guide you home. Godspeed my friends.


SEPTEMBER 2

Can you imagine sitting in a doctor’s office with your child after a series of test have been run on your baby?The doctor comes in with a  solemn look on his face and says: “I have bad news, your child has cancer.” What would go through your mind? Where would you turn? Hopefully you have faith in God, but He also gave you common sense as well. Thank goodness there’s St. Jude! Why? Because no child should ever have to go through the Hell of facing cancer without the best treatment and facilities available. 

Last year I ran in the St. Jude Memphis Marathon, but I didn’t fund raise for the cause. I was shamed by one of my church members, Tracy Crimm Weathers, who told me I could do something. She was right. On this Labor Day, consider giving 10.00 to St. Jude. On this link it will take you all of 5 minutes. If you can do more, then do more. If you’ve already given, give again. Why? Because parents of cancer patient children should never have to worry about money. As a pastor, I’ve had church members with children as patients. I’ve never heard of anyone having a bad experience.

On a normal day, my post generate about 100 or more likes. Many more read them, but don’t publicly acknowledge it. I’m asking you to do so today. If your children are healthy, thank God for the blessings. Take the time to help one child at a time. What else are you going to do today? Give yourself to something that will outlast you. Godspeed my friends.


SEPTEMBER 1

Have you ever planned a party and when the big day arrived and your guests showed up, you were more concerned about who wasn’t there, rather than who was? The same is true about a wedding. You plan the big day, and then when it happens, you notice who wasn’t in attendance and almost neglected the ones who came to celebrate. It’s easy to do in almost any situation. When we put our faith and trust in people, sooner or later they’ll let us down. The best medicine for such a situation is to rejoice with the ones who care enough about you to be at your side.

Today, at church, the crowds will more than likely be smaller than usual due to it being Labor Day Weekend. I’ve learned over the years that families will use this time to cram one more event into their already busy schedule. It’s not like we aren’t already going through life at mach speed with our hair on fire. Nope, we just need one more thing to do. While you’re sitting in church remember there is one who has promised to be with us. We don’t have to invite the Holy Spirit into our worship because He has promised to show up. Concentrate on His presence and not the absence of others. Worship Him in spirit and in truth. When you leave, be prepared to serve. Godspeed my friends.


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