Monday, September 19, 2016

Finish!!!

Lately in football, there appears to be an epidemic of runners celebrating too early and dropping the ball before they even cross the goal line.  I am not sure what is going on but it happened again Saturday night as the Buckeyes played Oklahoma.  I originally missed it, but soon instant replay and Social Media were exploding with proof that Joe Mixon dropped the ball before he got to the end zone. How embarrassing!  All caught on national TV.  As a coach, I would be fuming.  It has happened more this year than I have ever  witnessed as a sports fan.

Sometimes I fear that as Christians, we may be doing the very same thing that these players are doing. We are letting up, taking it easy.

Like the players involved, we think we have really done something.  As we turn and look for high fives from our teammates, we get them because they missed it as well.  As a matter of fact, the crowd is slapping us on the back and shouting with great joy, but you see, they missed it as well.  The camera is like the eye of God, it doesn't miss a thing.  Cameras can malfunction, but God never does.

As we celebrate with each other, our community and neighborhood continues to live in darkness, blinded by sin.  We really think we have done something exceptional, only to be reminded daily and on every sports news channel in America that we will be known more for the fumble before crossing the goal line than the ninety seven yard return. the lesson?  Don't let up, don't show boat about something you think you have accomplished!  In the Christian walk and race, finishing is what matters!

My goal is to finish, and finish well!

Hebrews 12:1-2 (NKJV)
1  Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
2  looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Glory DAZE

This has been one of the first times Renee and I have waited to go on vacation so late in the year.  I can tell you we are looking forward to it.  It is also one of my favorite times of the year as everything seems to get going again. School resumes, families begin to return to church, football is back, and everyone seems to have a little more get up and go. It is exciting for our family as well as our oldest 6 year old grandson Aiden is in first grade, and 4 year old Eli is in pre-school a few days.

We have a good group of teachers and students here at FSBC.  My hope is that these kids will enjoy and cherish these school days because they will come and go quickly.  You never think that when you are sitting in a hot room after a long day looking at a Geometry textbook.  The days seem to drag. Into our twenty third year here, it is a great blessing to watch some of these kids now, go to college, and even do their wedding, when I remember when they were born.  School certainly can be the glory days for some if we let it.

The more I pastor, it is easy to see how a church can be stuck thing about a day that used to be.  that memory can paralyze forward thinking and taking new territory for Christ with a "Glory Daze."

We are happy once again to be providing a meal for the Preble Shawnee football team and Cheerleaders on Thursday nights.  It is a great opportunity to bond and build relationships with these student athletes.  Pray that some of these kids meet Jesus this season.  May His glory, fill our days!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

(A Letter to My Grandsons) Following the Shootings in Dallas


This is a letter I read from the Pulpit at the close of my sermon.
 July 10, 2017

In the aftermath of two young black men being shot and killed by police officers in Baton Rouge, LA. and Minnesota, and seeing it played all over the news and social media,  it makes me ask the question, “Why did it have to happen and end that way?”

Days later there were protests all over the country over the shootings.   In a peaceful protest over those losses in Dallas, Texas, a sniper like gunman opened fire downtown during the protests on the innocent police officers of Dallas.   Killing five, and wounding many, traumatizing families, and those who had given an oath to protect us, traumatizing America, and causing me to ask another question, “What has happened to our America?”

It has also encouraged me to write this letter to you:

An Open Letter to my Grandsons:
Aiden (6), Eli (4), Koby (2), Jordy (2 Months) 

July 9, 2017

A Letter From Papaw

Boys, words cannot explain the joy you have brought into our lives.  All of you are beautiful and special. So different, but so much alike as blood unites us all. You are Created by a loving God to glorify Him with your life.  My prayer for you all is that you will grow to love Jesus, His Word, and the things of God. That there will be a day when you all ask Him into your heart to save you, and to be your Lord and Savior.  That we will together, spend forever in heaven, with the One who died for our sin.

I write this to you today, because the America I grew up in seems to look a lot different than the one you are growing up in.  This week two boys were shot in encounters with police officers and died.  It appears that it didn’t have to happen and many have said it was because they were black.  Because of this, it has continued to divide people in our country just based on the color of our skin.  Never in my 54 years of life has it been this bad.  Not since the civil rights movement, when Martin Luther King led a change in America and reminded us all that all men are equal.

I want you to remember, that the color of someone’s skin, whether it be white, black, red, yellow or whatever, does not make them any different than you.  God loves us all.  Since recent victims have been black, some shout black lives matter!  I want you to remember and never forget all lives matter!  God loves you and he loves everyone.  Always treat others the way you want to be treated.  With respect, dignity, truthfulness, and honor.  Love people. Jesus did!

Don’t let your family or friends talk about someone and be mean just because our skin is not the same color.  Jesus died for everyone.  You are no better or worse than someone else, regardless!

Because of this tension in our nation, kids are being robbed of the innocence of childhood where your job is to have fun, play ball and enjoy life, to not worry.  You should be able to trust your parents and family to protect you and make sure you are safe.
I pray for you to have as  fun a  boyhood as I had growing up.

You have a lot of things I didn’t have as a boy, and one of them was news on TV all day long.  Another was video cameras everywhere.  You are seeing things that scare you and I don’t want you to grow up being scared. Always know that God is there and will be with you.  Always remember God is bigger and stronger, and can fix anything, even racial strife and prejudice in America. He can do it again. I pray you grow up happy and content wherever you live and whatever school you go to.


Another thing I want you to know is that you must respect authority and the law.  If you are ever pulled over by an officer, listen to him and be respectful. He has stopped you for a reason, for some concern.  He is trying to protect you, even if you don’t think so.  Pray for those that protect us.  They have families and little boys and girls just like you.  Every time you hear a siren, pray for first responders.  They put their lives on the line everyday for all of us.

It has been reported that the gunman who killed the 5 officers and wounded the others in Dallas was upset over the shootings by the police of the two young men, as well as others who have been killed across our nation. We all should be concerned over what we have witnessed.  Reports from eyewitnesses shared that before he died he had shouted he wanted to kill white officers, white people.  I don’t want you to ever hate anyone except the Devil.  The Devil is the liar. God loves us all.  Remember that killing is never the answer.  God commands us not to kill.  Those officers will never go home again either, and they have little boys just like you who will cry themselves to sleep because daddy isn’t coming home.

Always respect the power of a weapon. When you see one, you tell your parents. Never touch one and tell  Your daddy who will let you know when you are big enough and ready to be trained to use a gun responsibly.

One last note, I love you more than you will ever know, and I pray for you everyday. I pray that you will always be a man of peace and reconciliation.  May you never fall into the pit of hate and prejudice..  May God use you to show people His love.

 Always remember Psalm 56:3 “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in thee.”  Because of Jesus, we don’t have to be afraid.”  Jesus is the only One that can help, heal, and change our nation.

 I pray you have a happy boyhood.  Enjoy it.  It only comes by once. 


Love Papaw

Monday, June 20, 2016

SBC 2016 St. Louis/ Preaching and the Cross

I have been blessed to attend many SBC Annual Meetings since 1993, but none were any more moving than last week's meeting in St. Louis. John Meador put together an outstanding Pastor's Conference.  We arrived Sunday night, just as James McDonald was starting his message.  I missed Noah Oldham's message but just listened to it archived and he brought a strong, moving Word!

After the evening message, the praise team led us in beautiful worship as we sung about the cross, the blood, and the love of God.  As they sung, a man stepped out and began to notch a huge cross propped up.  He worked feverishly as sweat rolled form his brow.  You could tell he was in shape and that he was laboring.  He did the large beam  and then moved to the smaller.  He tied and hammered it together.  the choir continued to sing and was reaching a crescendo when about ten young men came out in black attire, took ropes and raised the cross to stand center stage.  Pastor Meador then ask all Pastors to come to the cross.  As we prayed together , with tears and repentance, the power of God had touched me, us, afresh.  I saw a Preacher buddy from Cincinnati and we embraced.  The words that came out were these, "No better place to see each other, than at he foot of the cross."

The old hymn says:

1. Jesus, keep me near the cross; 
there a precious fountain,
free to all, a healing stream,
flows from Calvary's mountain.
Refrain: 

In the cross, in the cross,
be my glory ever,
till my raptured soul shall find
rest beyond the river.

2. Near the cross, a trembling soul,
love and mercy found me;
there the bright and morning star
sheds its beams around me.
(Refrain)

3. Near the cross! O Lamb of God,
bring its scenes before me;
help me walk from day to day
with its shadow o'er me.
(Refrain)

4. Near the cross I'll watch and wait,
hoping, trusting ever,
till I reach the golden strand
just beyond the river.
(Refrain)  

Jesus will you keep me near the cross?  I need you to do it.


Monday, May 23, 2016

The Power of God unto Salvation!

Sunday, May 22, 2016 is a day that we will never forget as a church.  What a blessing to begin the service with the baptism of three.  A mother and daughter, and a man that nearly everyone in Camden would recognize. Fred Green.  Twenty eight years ago, Fred became the owner of the local grocery store in Camden and has been a gracious, faithful friend to our church and this community.  Fred has always been a good, kind, and fair man.  If good men were to to get to heaven, one would think Fred would make it.

Fred's world, and the world of his family was recently shaken as he discovered a life threatening illness, and as God used it, it brought us face to face for conversation about Christ.  In that conversation we were reminded that good men don't automatically go to heaven.  That Jesus died for all of our good, which would never be enough, and for all of our bad which would never be bad enough to be forgiven.  The Holy Spirit spoke to Fred that day and his heart and life were changed in an instance by the power of God.

I was reminded that day as he and his wife left the office, that this is why we do what we do.  God is faithful and we must not give up.  The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation!  Romans 1:16

As this illness has led to an early retirement, and the sale of the store. As he was baptized many of his workers were in attendance.  What a blessing!  I pray God's best for the days ahead.

God's best is still ahead as heaven will be our home one day forever.  Until then, let's pray for the Fred Green's in our lives and community,  Let, pray and not give up!  Let's love people with the Gospel. Good people like Fred, and difficult people,  we are all lost if Jesus is not our Savior and Lord.

Thank you Fred and Lisa Green for your faithful service to the Camden Community.  May the Lord bless you in retirement and meet your every need as you walk with  Him.

Now we are brothers in Christ, let's live for Jesus!

Monday, April 11, 2016

WHY HAVE A REVIVAL?

That is question that appears to be coming from pastors all over the country.  As we get ready for our 2016 Spring "It's A Big Deal" Revival with David Burton from Jacksonville, I am more excited than ever about God using a fresh voice, with a fresh word, to stir our hearts, and bend our knees toward the Father.

April 13, 2016 will mark forty years since I gave my life to Christ... on a Tuesday night...in revival! God used a revival service and a guest evangelist who preached the word to speak to the heart of a fourteen year old church kid.  Revival means something to me and always will.

As a pastor now for twenty three years, we have had some great preachers come to the small town of Camden, Ohio.  Some full time evangelists, some pastors, some missionaries.  Pastor Mike Landry from Sarasota once told me, "You will never know if they will come unless you ask."  That has always stuck with me and I have tried to go after some of the best.  Often as a pastor, we are prone to ask a circle of friends, and sometimes the gifting of a certain pastor friend may not be a good fit for a revival in your church.

By attrition, churches have gone from week long, five services, four services, weekend, to a Sunday revival, then to not having one all together.  While a pastor and church has every right to schedule how they feel, have we gotten to the point where we think that revivals are not worth the time or effort?

Recently I heard of a pastor who  indicated that having a revival was too expensive.  Some claim their people won't come. Some say that a love offering will take away general giving of the church. Some say the lack of attendance was embarrassing to the pastor and church. Some simply don't want to bring in a speaker that their folks may enjoy more than them. Some argue that people are already strapped for time and adding something else just makes it harder. Could it be that revivals become a burden rather than a blessing because that is the way they are treated?  No preparation, no prayer, no excitement from the pulpit is sure to equal no expectation. God's grace still shows up in spite of ourselves.

We always see changed lives, and most of the time we will see people come to Christ.  Leonard Ravenhill has greatly challenged me recently with his heart for revival. "Why Revival Tarries" has become one of my all time favorite and challenging books.  God give me a heart to see you doing something that we cannot explain other than a mighty move of God!

Monday, March 14, 2016

All Eyes On Ohio

They say home is where your heart is!  Oh how I love Camden, Ohio!

As we watch the the news and those reporting on the Primary in Ohio tomorrow, it seems like many feel that after tomorrow we can draw some conclusions.  That some of our questions will be answered.  Regardless of who wins in Ohio, there will still be some important questions that we still face....regardless!

It may sound like a cliche, but it is the truth.  "We are praying for change in the White House.  What we really need is change in the Church House."  The only way that is going to take place is by the power and hand of God.  The change that we can create will be temporary, not eternal.

God has placed each of us here for such a time as this.  One preacher recently shared, "God must think we are pretty special to let us live in a day like this."  While some say it is the toughest day to be a Christian, I believe it is the greatest day in history to let our lights shine for Christ.  The light will be the brightest in the darkest night.

Don't get discouraged by elections and primaries.  Pray and vote!  Vote and pray!
King Jesus is still on the throne.

Join us this Sunday, Palm Sunday, March 20th at 10:30 A.M. as we welcome back Steve Ladd leading us in worship.  You won't want to miss it as we continue our series "Witnesses."