Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas: A Few of My Favorite Things

I can't remember a Christmas season that I have enjoyed any more than 2009. Perhaps it is because we are all excited to spend time with our new grandson Aiden. I have been blessed to have wonderful tradition passed down to me.

So to Aiden and all of you, here are a few of my favorite things at Christmas time:
  • Jesus!
  • Family
  • The Christmas Story from the Bible
  • The Music: Favorite Carols ( Oh Holy Night, O Come All Ye Faithful)
  • The buzz in the air of excitement
  • Church Choir programs
  • Children's choirs
  • fudge
  • sleds
  • galoshes (boots?)
  • kids
  • babies
  • Mom's cooking
  • Salad that has mandarin oranges, marshmellows, cocunut, nuts ( You get the picture)
  • Spending on others
  • A great bargain
  • Christmas treat bags at church
  • Red Poinsettias
  • Snow
  • Hearing from friends
  • Charlie Brown Christmas
  • It's a Wonderful Life
  • White Christmas
  • A fire burning
  • A lit tree.

And this brings me to my point. As we were gazing at our tree the other night, all but two strands of lights went out at the same time. It was very sad looking. Renee searched and found out that one strand went out, and after removing and reconnecting, it was soon shining in full beauty. That's the way it is with God. He wants to remove all of the stuff in our lives that keep Him from shining through us. When we connect with Him, people will see Christ is our lives, especially this Christmas.

Merry Christmas from Pastor Greg and Renee.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Just Like That? Merry Christmas


Prov. 17:6 Children's children are the crown of old men, and the glory of children is their father.

He came around the corner, walking tall. My son was about to introduce us to a little man that would change our world. Our new grandbaby. A boy! Aiden Andrew Jackson.

As Renee and I had the chance to hold him in those first few minutes of life, it was as if we were stepping back in time twenty four years. It was our boy that we were supposed to hold, as parents. But just like that........ we became grandparents.

What will he call me? Papaw, Poppy, Granddad, GRANDBROTHER Greg? You know what, what ever he decides will be perfect.

The spoiling, the fishing rods, the ball games, the fun ahead of him.... and us! These are exciting days. What a hap...happiest season of them all.

Christmas is the perfect time to have a baby. It is a fresh reminder that Jesus is Christmas. Can you imagine looking into the eyes of your newborn, knowing that you would one day have to give them up to die on a cruel cross of sacrifice? Can you imagine cringing everytime your heard a hammer drive a nail? Can you imagine watching him suffer, while being inocent the whole time?

Some say they can't live the christian life. None of us can keep it by ourselves. Remember that it is Jesus that does the saving. It is God who gives the gift of eternal life. That first Christmas He gave us a gift that would never fade. He brought hope to mankind. Why not accept Christ as your own personal Savior this Christmas, and just like that... your sins will be forgiven, heaven will be your home..... and your world will be forever changed.

The verse in Proverbs came to life. Aiden indeed is a crown... and just like that, I must be getting old.

Merry Christmas to all of you readers. Keep Jesus first!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Hope in a Box


Romans 6:23 (New King James Version) 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

One of the most moving altar calls I have been involved in as a pastor, took place in tonight's service. Our people came forward to pray over each individual Operation Christmas Child Shoe Box that will be sent out this week.

One thing we can know for sure, is that each one has been prayed over. We prayed that God would prepare the hearts of those who receive these boxes, and that they would come to know the Lord Jesus as personal Savior.

What an awesome thing to realize that these boxes will make a way for the gospel of Christ to be presented.

A shoe box is much like a heart. It has to opened in order to be filled. God fills empty things. If the gospel of Christ can be shared through a simple shoe box, surely the gospel of Christ can be the main theme of our Christmas season. The message of Jesus is the gift and the heart's of our loved ones and friends represent the boxes that need to be filled.

Take a minute and pray for Franklin Graham and Samaritan's Purse. What a great ministry to be part of. We will be sending over 150 boxes this week.

We will be sharing, hope in a box.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Fallen Leaves

James 4:14 (The Message)
13-15And now I have a word for you who brashly announce, "Today—at the latest, tomorrow—we're off to such and such a city for the year. We're going to start a business and make a lot of money." You don't know the first thing about tomorrow. You're nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing. Instead, make it a habit to say, "If the Master wills it and we're still alive, we'll do this or that."


The fall here in Ohio is beautiful, while at the same time, it is the call for some hard work as I try to get a handle on the leaves that are falling. I have approached this task in several different ways, and each year I seem to learn a little more about what to do, and what not to do. There have been years when I have waited till they all fall, (only problem with this method is that they get too deep to even mow over) I have tried to keep up with them as they fall. (Only problem is that you work yourself to death trying to accomplish it) I have also raked and hauled them off. One thing is for certain, they are an issue that you must deal with.

Are you ready for the spiritual application?
Leaves represent a season. We all have seasons in our lives. I am eagerly awaiting the season of hearing a soft little voice say, " I love you Papaw." I can't wait to look into the eyes of a new grand son and pray that God will bless this new life. (I am already doing that, along with many of you) We are heading into a new season. It will be the first time I have ever dated a grandma(Renee). We are looking forward to it.

When you think about the past few weeks, some of our folks had to die in order to live. They had to shed this old tent; or, they had to shed the leaves of their body, in order to step in to eternity with the Lord Jesus.

There is one thing for sure about a tree that loses it's leaves, winter will come, and spring is on it's way.

Tell somebody about Jesus today. God may have them ready to respond to the greatest gift available to man. Jesus.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Talking Back to the Preacher!

Psalm 119:9 (New King James Version)
How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.

The church was full, the pews were packed, the songs had been sung. It was now time to open the Word of God. As I often do, I asked the question, "If you have your Bible, hold it up in the air?"
From somewhere in the midst of the crowd, a little boy's voice rang out,
" I don't have a Bible?" We all laughed at his honesty, and later found out that he does have a Bible.

The truth is, that is exactly the way many christians live. We have plenty of Bibles on the shelves, but we don't have too much of it in our hearts. I have 9 Bibles in my study at church alone.

We can say that we don't have certain things, but God has given us what we need. Philippians 4:19 (New King James Version)
And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Can you imagine a christian in a foreign country who cannot even get a Bible, thinking that someone has 9 at the tip of their fingers? And if they were able to even get a copy, risking their lives just reading it.

As you go home tonight, remember that God has given you a book, a book that you had better not take for granted. While christians are being persecuted for their faith, remember Jesus laid down His life so that we could live.

The Bible will tell the story. Jump in and look for Jesus! It won't take you long to find Him.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Revival and golf?

Romans 12:1-2
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.


Recently, Trevor and I played golf with the evangelist,on a day that began with these words from the lady at the golf course. "You are actually going to try to play in this wind?"

As we hacked our way around the course, it became obvious that the elements would play a big role in the outcome for the day. Another interesting observation began to take shape during the round. I am not as good a golfer as I think. Actually,the ball began to become harder to locate and find, due to so may leaves starting to fall. As a matter of fact, there were times when the golf ball looked just like it's surroundings. We would drive right by it.

As a christian, we are called to live lives that are pleasing to the Lord. If we do that, we may not blend in too good with the world. We are called to be in the world, but not of it. Even though there may be lostness all around, I am grateful that God still saves and changes lives.

I once found a golf ball in the woods with this inscription. "I once was lost, but now I am found."

That is what God does. He finds us in our lostness, cleans us of all of the dirt that has accumulated, then puts us back in play.

Do you know Him? He knows you.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Days Of Our Lives


Psalm 90:10
The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.


Many times soap operas try to represent some fictional world for others to get involved in. The past few weeks have reminded me of a reality that we all will face if the Lord tarries. Over the past ten days I have had the privilege to preach and be part of three funerals of folks in their nineties.(92,95,95)! This is the exception, and quite unusual. What great lives these had, and just think about the changes they had seen in the world.

The good news is that all three were Christians, saved by the shed blood of Jesus on Calvary's cross. What a tragedy it would be to live a long life according to earthly standards, then die without Christ.

I recently took a ministry trip and drove by myself. On the way back, the thing that encouraged me the most to keep going, was the fact that I was heading home. I knew who was there, and who would be waiting for me.

My prayer is that as we live life, we would be reminded as Christians, of who is waiting for us. Let us live and serve, desiring to please the Lord. Let us make the best use of today, redeeming the time, and remembering that life passes like sand through the hourglass.

James 4:14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Hallmark Moment

Rev.2:2-4
I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; 3and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name's sake and have not become weary. 4Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.

Jesus addresses the church at Ephesus and has some good things to say to them, yet it is the "first love" statement that grabs our attention.

Twenty-six years ago today, Renee and I exchanged vows to unite as husband and wife. I can remember how I used to do certain things. I wanted to impress her by opening doors or letting her have the first sip of a cold coke, or the first hot Burger Chef french fry. (You get my point) I would do little things to show her how much I loved her, even going out of the way to say it and to show it.

While the years have worn away some of the luster from our wedding bands, I love her more today than I did back then. One reason I believe is that we continue to grow as a couple.

Yesterday I bought her a card from Hallmark. I studied it, and after carefully reading the inscription, I made the purchase. I was proud of the choice, signed it and put it in her purse.

When I jumped in the car this morning there was an envelope laying on the seat. A card from her. I tore into it and began to recognize the young couple on the cover. It was the same card. I couldn't believe it. What chemistry! What compatibility! It was a Hallmark Moment. The only thing missing was seeing her car back up in reverse and her getting out of the car, and then we run toward each other as we hug, and then with passion we both say ........... "We got each other the same card!"

That's what God wants us to do as christians. He wants us to grow in our love for Him, and always be willing to run to Him. He will always be there with open arms. Don't run from God, run to Him.

That's what God did, when He sent Jesus, He cared enough to send the very best!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What is your life?

James 4:14
whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.

Yesterday I stood in a long line to pay my respects to the family of a young man who was tragically killed while riding a bicycle. My soul ached as I watched high school friends leave with broken hearts and plenty of questions. There were students everywhere. Many were carrying in portraits that they had painted in class of their friend.

One relative said, I can't believe how many students have come from school. He thought he had no friends." What a reminder. You never really know the impact you have on other people.

My prayer for this family and their great loss is that God will use the death of a young man much like he used Samson when he passed away. (Judges 16:25-30) While many were touched with his life while he was living, may many more be touched by God and come to know Christ through this great loss.

Hug your kids today and thank God for their life. Spend some time with your teenager and ask them about their life.

Believing God's Word and that life is a vapor, make the most of today and leave the pain of the past at the foot of the cross. God can handle it.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Shopping

Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Recently we came by the new Outlet Mall on opening day, only to discover an unbelievable traffic jam. That told me two things. People like to shop, and people like a good deal. I am the same way to a point. Renee says that I like to shop until I find what I am looking for. After that, I am uninterested ready to go home. Sporting goods, electronics, lawn and garden, hardware, and I'm ready to go.

People shop in all kinds of ways. Some even church shop. We visit and take a look at all a church has to offer, hoping to find one that has the most bang for the buck, for me and my family. After we weigh everything involved, we make our decision. Like retail shopping, sometimes we purchase before we pray about a decision to buy. Think of how costly it could be to join a church without praying about it and seeking the Lord.

I am grateful that as a Christian, I have discovered the greatest deal ever offered in the history of mankind. Jesus died for my sins so that I could have a relationship with a Holy God. The good news is that the offer is still available.

You might be searching and shopping for the answer to life, and you might be frustrated and desperate thinking that you'll never find it.

The good news is that the search can be over. Jesus Christ is the answer! You don't have to shop for a Savior anymore. Invite Him into your heart today. He is patiently waiting to come in.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Whatever Happened to Mr. Misty?


Ephesians 5:15 So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. 16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. 17 Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. NLT

I can remember as a boy, the dog days of summer. A trip to Dairy Queen by bike, and a grape Mr. Misty. You know, when days seemed really long, and you had all kinds of time to do whatever you wanted to do.

What happened? Everything seems to be rushing by and we hardly have any time at all. The clock still has 24 hour days, and 60 minutes per hour, 60 seconds per minute, that is all the same. It must be us. It is me, I am the one in a hurry.

I believe the Bible teaches us to slowwwww.....downnnn! Paul shared with the Ephesians that we should redeem the time we have today, to make the most of it.

One way I believe the Lord wants us to redeem our time, is to make Him the topic of as many converstions as we can each day. In order to do that we must pray for boldness, and step through the door of opportunity when God opens it.

Remember the sound of the straw when you hit the bottom of your Mr. Misty, the irritating noise, and that sense of disappointment that is almost empty and that the joy is over.

Let me remind you that we still have plenty of summer left to redeem the time. Let's begin today, to slow down a little more than yesterday, and enjoy the work of Christ in our lives, and in the lives of those around us.

I wonder if DQ has a 24 hour drive thru?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Looking for Jesus

We are in the midst of Vacation Bible School and each year I stand amazed as the kids flood through the doors with great anticipation. The decorations are colorful, the teachers prepared and working hard, the music upbeat and catchy. The crafts are fun and the snacks are looked forward to each night. The missionaries come to life as we see what God is doing all over the world. This is the place to be this week.

One of the exciting things for me as a pastor is to see 92 of our folks On Mission together at the same time serving the Lord by serving the kids. VBS is about the kids meeting Jesus.

I stuck my head in a classroom last night and a little girl said, "Hi Jesus". What a humbling thought. For someone to think that your name is Jesus. Well, I certainly realize I am not, but oh, that my life would glorify the Lord so that people see Jesus in me.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

It All Comes Back To Jesus

"God's love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him." 1 John 4:9 H CSB

Have you ever thrown a boomerang? Years ago I saw a guy at a kiosk in the mall around Christmas time. I was amazed. He was throwing these paper airplanes toward the ceiling, and they were circling and automatically flying back to him, much like a boomerang.

I had to have it, so I bought one, and soon in my frustration, realized that the success of the return must have something to do with the one who was releasing it.

That picture is a good reminder as we prepare for"Boomerang Express", this years V.B.S. which begins in just over a week.

If we are not careful, as we serve on mission in this great week of learning about Jesus, as a worker, we can feel like a frustrated paper airplane thrower, wondering why that warm feeling doesn't return the way it used to when I worked in V.B.S.

So I pray and want to encourage all of our workers. Let's allow the Lord to release us for His glory as we serve. When He releases us to serve for Him, the joy, excitement, and enthusiasm will return. I pray the focus is on Him.

How do we know that? Because it "all comes back to Jesus."

That is the way life is. We go many different directions in life, but ultimately it will all come back to Jesus. We will all bow our knee to Christ, either as Lord or as judge.
Romans 14:11 (KJV) For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.

Talk to the Lord today, He knows your heart already!


See You Sunday.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I just call him Dad

Proverbs 23:24 (The Message)
Listen with respect to the father who raised you, and when your mother grows old, don't neglect her. Buy truth—don't sell it for love or money; buy wisdom, buy education, buy insight. Parents rejoice when their children turn out well; wise children become proud parents. So make your father happy! Make your mother proud!

This Sunday is Father's Day. An opportunity for us to let our earthly Fathers know how much we love them. Many have lost their father, and we pray for every one who will spend this weekend without their dad. It is also one of my favorite preaching days as we challenge the men in our congregation to live for Jesus , and to lead at home.

When I think of my dad, I could not have been given a better one. As a boy, I thought he could do anything. The older I get, I have realized, he can do about anything. He may be a little slower than he used to be, but his wisdom about life and how to do things is still a great teaching tool for me.

I can still picture him at one end of the driveway, and me at the other, passing baseball with our Regent ball gloves, before he headed off to McCall's on second shift. He probably didn't think to much about it then, but I will never forget that he always made time for us growing up, even in the little things. Now it is corn-hole, and I still can't beat him.

On Friday nights as we played high school basketball, he would slip in, taking a few unpaid hours off to see me play. I can still remember making eye contact with him as he walked underneath the basket heading for the bleachers. He probably didn't think I was looking for him, but I was. He was my dad.

It took years for me to realize that a lot of boys I grew up with, didn't have a dad like mine, and they would tell me, how fortunate I was. Now I get it. I cannot recall a time in my life, when he wasn't available to help if needed. He is always there.

Dad would never say it, but he has taught me a great deal about the love of God. The love the Father has for his children. You see our heavenly Father is interested in the little things in our lives also. He wants to spend time with us. He wants to encourage and help us, and He can always be counted on. In the tough times and the good times, He will be there.

The older I get, people tell me I look like dad. I consider that a great compliment.

I wonder if people ever say we look like Jesus, in the way we live our lives? Do others see Christ in our everyday life?

If you are blessed to still have an earthly dad alive, make sure you talk to him this week. Tell him what he means to you. Don't put it off. Make it a priority.

Thanks dad for everything, I love you. Happy Father's Day.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Rain

Psalm 72:6 (NKJV) He shall come down like rain upon the grass before mowing, Like showers that water the earth.

This morning on the way to the office, I thanked the Lord for giving the ground a good drink. While it has been a beautiful spring, it seemed to be getting dry.

The Christian life is like that. There are times when we may begin to get a little dry, or our heart begins to harden. It seems that God is right on time when we need rain in our Spirit.

How do you detect a spiritual drought? How do you know if you need a fresh touch of God in your life?

I believe first of all, that we need to ask ourselves this honest question? Am I reading the Word of God, and what kind of prayer life do I have? Be honest. Remember, it is not how good you can fool someone else. What does God know in regards to how much time you are in the Bible, and the disciplines of your private prayer life?
Secondly, am I being faithful to worship the Lord? Am I where I need to be on Sunday? Has my church attendance slacked off? Does it just not seem as good as it once did? Am I following through on a commitment that I made as a leader?
Lastly, am I more critical than encouraging? A dry heart will become a bitter heart.

These are just a few signs that we may need rain, and the good news is that when I recognize I need it, and I ask God for it, He will send it, right on time.

Oh God, thank you for the rain outside. We ask you to send rain into our lives today, refresh our souls with Your wondrous love.

Until He comes.... we will go!

Monday, June 1, 2009

VACATION

Psalm 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!

I often think back to vacations our family took when I was growing up. With grandparents in Tennessee and South Carolina, most of our trips were to the southeastern part of the country. Some of the great memories include making the three hour drive, when in South Carolina, across the state to Myrtle Beach.

Vacations back then seemed like it was an opportunity to really relax and slow down. Maybe, it was because I was young and did not have as much responsibility. It is amazing how we made it with no cable, no laptop and no cell phone. "How's that for dating myself?" We never stayed at the biggest and fanciest places, but they were always clean and neat. The Breezeview comes to my mind as I type. Most of the time we stayed across the street for a better rate, knowing that the ocean was within sight. The hi light of the day would be to sit around the pool in the evening with the family to just laugh, and enjoy each others company. Who would ever think that to be content as a kid, a bottle of coke and some Lance peanuts was all that you would need.

When Renee and I were married, we had the privilege to go back and this time we went as parents. While some things certainly had changed (quite a bit), it was still a world of excitement and great enjoyment for the kids.

You know, it brings a parent great joy to see their kids happy, whether young or now grown up, and I imagine that our heavenly Father is pleased when he sees us living obediently and happy.

This summer, make sure you slow down to enjoy things, and if you go on vacation, make sure you don't forget the Lord, and when you get home, we'll see you in church.

You know, if the Lord tarries, one day I may go back to Myrtle Beach.... as a Papaw!

May the Lord keep you clean and close.........

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Cool Water

Malachi 3:16 those who feared the Lord spoke to one another,And the Lord listened and heard them; a book of remembrance was written before Him
For those who fear the Lord And who meditate on His name.


Well, the official kick off to summer is here. Hope you were able to enjoy the weekend and the great weather we had for Memorial Day. I can remember when everyone went swimming for the first time on Memorial Day, but it seems as if the water has been too cold, ever since I hit 40, (years ago.) One of the pools we had a pass to growing up was at the Ramada Inn on Little York Rd. Monday we stood at the grave of my Great Uncle Wallace, he was the one who worked at the Ramada, and got us a pool pass.

Like many of you we went to cemeteries to pay our respect to our loved ones who have passed away. It's hard to believe that Renee's dad has been in heaven for twenty five years.

I was amazed at how many flowers were placed and how many flags were flying in the cemeteries we visited and drove by. It was as if every grave had something on it. A gentle reminder that every life counts and matters. Even the graves that were left undecorated, or the marker that perhaps no one even looked at, God hasn't lost track of anyone. Why? Because people matter to God. You matter to God!

Worship on Sunday was a beautiful tribute to our troops and veterans. How proud we all were of our newest Marine as she presented the colors. What an awesome sight as our veterans stood all over the congregation reflecting sacrifice from different conflicts and time periods.

So what was the best part of Memorial Day weekend? A regular attender who walked down the aisle during the invitation and simply said, "I am ready to ask Jesus Christ into my heart to be my Lord and Savior."

After being able to spend time with the family, it just doesn't get much better than that.

Keep up the good work for the Lord. Tell somebody about Jesus! Pastor Greg

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Transformation

Romans 12:1-2
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.


The Christian life is a life that has been changed by the power of God. CHANGED ! It seems as if many of us want to be Christians, While at the same time trying to live as close to the world's standards as possible. When Christ comes in and takes over, we are now His. He wants us to be obedient to Him.

The Christian life can be tough. The road that is easiest, yet at the same time the costliest, is the road of conformity to the world's standards. I would imagine we all have been there at some point in our journey. May we decide today that we are going to live transformed lives because we have met the Transformer, the Lord Jesus Christ.

My desire is to share my heart as your Pastor weekly through this blog with a word of encouragement from God's Word.

Tell someone about Jesus today and remember, until He comes......we will go!