Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Having just finished our Christmas Program this past weekend "The Song of Christmas" today I want to reflect and thank God for all of the effort and time put into what was witnessed. The Choir has never sounded better, the lighting and sound, the graphics were  top notch, the Drama Ministry surprised us all, and we discovered that we have some great actors and actresses.  With great crowds and an opportunity to share the Gospel what a weekend!

This Christmas here are a few lessons I continue to learn and have been reminded of several important truths.

1.  Nothing done with excellence is ever easy.  God is worthy of our best and honors our hearts and talents when we give them to Him. This program took place after months, and many late night practices and rehearsals.

2. Thank God that we have and He continues to send us gifted people. I am grateful for you all.  You may say, "I don't feel like I am gifted."  My response is 1 Corinthians 12:11-12 (NKJV) 
11  But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. 12  For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.

3. Camden, and Preble County deserves our best. They expect it!  God has placed us here for His glory, not ours. whether someone say thank you, good job, or recognized me for anything, God deserves my best.

4. We must be on guard! He will attack! The Devil is not happy with a Church going forward for the Gospel of Christ.  Whatever he can do to create disharmony is one of the Liar's greatest tools. If He can get our hearts distracted and our eyes off of the Gospel he will.  Stand firm.

5. I want to close out 2014 and start 2015 with a clean slate.  Is there anyone I need to forgive, or ask forgiveness from? Do I really want peace on earth?  Do it today?

On behalf of Renee, Drew and Ashley, Aiden , and Eli, Stacy and Kyle and Koby,
We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and look forward to serving the Lord in 2015 or until He comes!  Bro. Greg

Friday, November 28, 2014

Am I Always Thankful?

Recently Renee picked up a plaque for the house that reads, “ What if you woke up today with only what you thanked God for yesterday?” I must confess, there would be some days that I don’t have much due to taking so many things for granted.  God help me to understand that I am the richest man in the world in every aspect of life.
 
 Today the Lord blessed me to pop in on one of our shut ins, Barry Clutter, who is recovering from surgery at Sycamore Hospital.  For those who may not know, Barry has battled MS for many years, I believe he shared over twenty years.  I remember when Barry played softball, golf and was very active.  Many of us have called upon his computer genius in some form or fashion.  He has been confined to a wheelchair many years, and now has nearly no use of his hands and arms.  Despite, these challenges, he and Linda have remained encouragers to those of us that know them.

 I noticed that Barry’s meal had been delivered and ask if I could help him, with his lunch.  He whispered that would be great.  As I fed him and listened carefully to his instructions, his patience and gratitude for the smallest things were so refreshing and convicting to me. Things like moving the sheet off of his hands and adjusting pillows.  As I held his bowl as he ate his tomato soup through a straw, he smiled and looked my way responding, “That is delicious.” I was the one who was ministered to today.

 Dear Lord, give me the heart of Barry Clutter.  Keep me grateful and thankful more than ever for the simple things of life. Even a bowl of tomato soup.

Would you take some time and pray for Barry and Linda Clutter this Thanksgiving?

 Have a great day tomorrow.  Bro. Greg


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Slow Death

Renee and I just returned from a Smoky Mountain Vacation that included three days of Southern Gospel Music at the Smoky Mountain Praisefest. Some of my earliest and fond memories growing up on Canary Ct. in Dayton involved Southern Gospel music. A quartet that featured four parts, a piano, and a bass guitar to me was all you needed.  We really did enjoy the Praisefest, yet I recognized a hard truth.  Most of the nearly two thousand in attendance for each session were in their golden years, Senior Saints, Classics, Fifty Uppers, whatever term we can come up with, an older audience.

I mean here I am now fifty three and love this style of music it, yet there were very few  younger than me.  I overheard a group member sharing with a man and he indicated that when this generation of fans pass on there will not be anyone to sing too.  For some reason folks who have not grown up with southern gospel music don't seem to appreciate or follow it. things have changed.  Let me go on record.  I love it and will sing and listen to it until the Lord comes or calls me home!

This picture of this music genre is a little bit like a church.  We have to take a hard look at times and look at our congregations.  Do we have young people, young families, middle agers coming, serving, leading, giving, or are we really depending on those who are in front of us when it comes to years to carry the load?  When we are at that point here is the sad news, once those in front of us are gone, what will the Church landscape look like when it is up to us.

Unlike music styles, the gospel of Christ does not change.  We are living in a day where it seems that Bible preaching has taken a back seat to non offensive feel good messages to keep a crowd. It can sometimes feel like convenience is now more important than commitment.  Schedules more sacred than worship. More time can be spent on Facebook than in the Word of God.

God help us. Now is the time, today is the day for us to step up for Christ and serve Him with everything. Christ is about life, he paid for it with His death.  Thank you Lord.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

"Thirteen Years Ago Today"

When September 11, 2001 is mentioned, my generation, those older and those younger who could understand will never get over it. It is etched in our minds and we will never forget it. We know where we were , what we were doing, and who we were with when we saw or heard the news that the World Trade Centers in New York had been hit by planes, soon identified as terrorist attacks on America.

As today's calendar marks the anniversary of this horrific event, we don't celebrate the thousands who lost their lives to this senseless act, nor do we celebrate with the families who were left behind.  What we do is we pray for those affected.  Whose lives were changed forever.

I remember going to the Preble Shawnee football game that Friday, as we played Dixie in New Lebanon.  One of the first public events post 9/11.  Pastor Jim Wharton offered a sweet prayer over the public address microphone as the band prepared to play the National Anthem.  As we stood there, a large plane was making it's way into the Dayton airport.  It was a surreal moment, as if time nearly stood still.

Isn't it amazing that prayer has been labeled a threat to America by many, even by
many in leadership, yet when we have a crisis in our community, our state, or in this case our nation, we recognize that there is only one place to turn, and that is to the Lord.

God forgive us for what we take for granted.  Help us to pray for those serving to protect our freedom.  Help us to pray for our President and those under his command.  Today on 9/11, thirteen years later, we remember those who were lost in this attack and the families that still remain to pick up the pieces.

2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV)
14  if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 





Tuesday, July 29, 2014

First Prize = Blue Ribbon

This week marks another anticipated time of fun.  The Preble County Fair! I have always wanted to enter some produce just to see how I might do, but it never happens.  I just don't get around to it.  One cause for my delay to enter may simply be, "What if I don't win?"

That is the mentality that I believe some folks have when it comes to surrendering their lives to Christ. "What if I do this thing and then mess up?" Good question, and I have liberating news!  The truth of God's Word is that we are not saved because we don't mess up.  We are all sinners, separated from a Holy God.  Romans 3:23  It is the Lord's death, burial, and resurrection that has purchased our forgiveness.  We will mess up, and as the Holy Spirit convicts us, we don't lose what we had received, we confess and repent and are forgiven based on the the finished work of our Lord and Savior.

I am glad that my reward is not based on what someone else thinks, but based on what God knows.
We are winners in Christ.  Don't ever let the Devil make you think otherwise.

Philippians 3:13-14 (NKJV)
13  Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
14  I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A Lesson Learned from my Brother in Law

Several months ago, a neighbor to my Sister and Brother in Law was diagnosed with terminal cancer.  His health deteriorated quickly and he began to make arrangements.  In the process of planning, the family decided that they wanted Rick, my Brother in Law, who is not a pastor, to preach the funeral. This would be his first to lead and be in charge of. (He had shared in a loved one's service years ago in Kentucky.) In the weeks prior, Rick talked to his neighbor about his faith, planned, then presided over a sweet spirited service for a grieving family.  I think Rick and Sheila's  presence brought comfort to the family, just knowing they were walking with them on the journey. 

Watching them minister to this family as they prepared themselves for the loss of a husband and dad once again taught me several important lessons.

1. Time is too short not to get to know your neighbors.
Four years prior to the death a new family moved next door.  A bridge was built that allowed these friends to trust their neighbors, Christian neighbors. We do seem to be living in a day where people work hard, pull in to their driveway and then hit the garage door opener. As soon as the car is turned off the door is down until for many, Monday morning.We act like we want solitude, yet look at how many people are on a phone.  We also seem to want to be connected.

2. You never know the impact you are making.
We have to redeem the time now.  One wrote, "Blessed is the man who plants a tree knowing he may never sit in it's shade."  Only eternity will reveal how God has used you for His Glory. Don't underestimate the power of God and His outstretched hand.

3. God uses humble people.  The Church opened their doors to meet the needs of the family. I could tell Rick was nervous, (he later shared that he flipped over a whole page of notes without realizing it) he chose his words carefully, inserted appropriate personal humor that helped the family smile through their tears. I could tell he had put a lot of time in prayer and preparation for the service.  I did not know the family, but walked away feeling I had known their loved one.  May we never get to big, or too professional to think we can just step in to a ministry need and do it ourselves.  We need the power of God to take the weak and use for his Glory. 

Let us always be learners in this journey called life.  Thanks Rick.

Friday, April 25, 2014

I Can't Believe You Still Have Revivals in Camden?

We are almost ready to begin our Spring 2014 "It Could be Tomorrow"  Bible Prophecy Revival with Dr. Gary Frazier from Texas.  Revival?  Isn't that outdated?  No one is having a Revival anymore!  Bro. Greg, surely you don't expect your busy people to attend service throughout the week do you?

Let me answer the last question first.  Yes!  I absolutely expect the First Southern Baptist Family to support Revival, through praying, attending, inviting, and giving.  Why?  We need it!  We all need it!

The second question is partly true. Many churches, led by pastors are not scheduling Revivals.  Some for different reasons that may be valid.  The majority I believe would fall into one of these categories.

 Why a Church may no longer have a Revival.

1. The People have voted in previous Revivals by their lack of attendance and have embarrassed  the Lord, the Pastor and  the Church.

2. The Pastor doesn't want to put the work in required to pray, plan, and prepare for an Evangelist to come.

3. The Pastor feels threatened by the thought of bringing in a preacher who may be a better preacher than he.

4. Giving. Either the Love Offering may be so small that it dishonors the Lord and makes the church look bad, or on the other hand there are some folks have a hard time supporting a Love Offering that God may bless and indeed be a sizable gift.

5. Real revival will bring conviction and repentance.  This is uncomfortable for many pastors.  The very thing we pray for and need is also the thing that can really make us squirm.  It causes me and you to look honestly at our sin.  It is when God prunes and purges.

6.  Perhaps the saddest commentary may be that the Pastor and/or the church no longer has a passion to see people saved.

Folks, I really don't care if others plan a Revival or not, I am not their Pastor, that is their call, but what I can tell you is that we will continue to do so.  We normally always see spiritual growth and people come to Christ. I also hope that after 21 years you realize that I do bring in much better preachers than me.   The fact that you have allowed me to travel and attend some great Bible Preaching Conferences, God has allowed me to network with some gifted preachers. Gary Frazier will be no exception.

One other reason we will have Revivals.  On April 13th, 1976 at North Dayton Baptist Church, Evangelist T.D. Hall was preaching on a Tuesday night and I surrendered my life to Christ as a fourteen year old boy.  A kid that was raised in Church, yet it was a Revival service that God used to forever change my life.

 Why will we continue to have Revivals?  Because Revival, is never outdated. God still saves We need a fresh touch of the Holy Spirit power of God.

I look forward to seeing you next week in Revival.  It might just be meant for you. I don't want to miss what God may want to do during these days of Revival.

Bro. Greg

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Why I love Easter

I love Easter Sunday Services!  One reason is the excitement.  It contains the excitement that is really rightfully ours each day of our life as a Christian. Easter is the crescendo echoing across the corridors of history that shouts, "Jesus is alive!"  Another reason I love Easter Sunday is because of family. , Lord willing Renee and I will get to spend a little time with ours, but this Sunday morning many families will walk through these doors, young and old.  It seems like yesterday that Renee and I were toting Drew and Stacy into Sunday School and Church, and can still see in my mind the way they looked on some of those Easter Sundays.

Folks, life is flying by, James says like a vapor.  Let's not put off what needs to happen in our lives now.  Let's decide today that this Easter is going to be different.  It is going to be the time where I re-surrender my life, my home, my family to serving the Lord Jesus and and once again establishing worship as a priority in our lives. Plan on being in all of our  Bible Prophecy Revival Services beginning April 27-30 with Gary Frazier from Texas.

You don't want to miss Sunday, I am excited to preach part 2 of "God's not Dead, the Empty tomb Confirms it" Luke 24. I can't wait to hear the Choir, narration, and music Marcia and the Music Team has worked hard on to lead on this special day.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

FLASH! An Open Letter to Sports Parents That Are Christian

On this blog I give way to an article that I received from Mike Harland from Lifeway Worship that is painful in many ways. Having been an athlete, married an athlete, raised athletes, and now have grandsons who will most likely play in the days ahead if the Lord tarries. I am a ball loving pastor.  Buckle your seat belt if you have children involved in sports.  This article will offend you at some point, it did me, but may it draw us closer to the Lord.
Pastoring a church where we see Youth ministry struggling to getting our own church kids to come.  Seeing a Sunday School class that was once full with only a few kids.  Could this be us?

March 3, 2014  An Open Letter to Sports Parents That Are Christian
  NEWS FLASH! Your son is not going to play Major League baseball. And, your daughter is not going to be on the Olympic team in volleyball or soccer either.
So, why in the world, and for what possible eternal reason are you sacrificing a vital aspect of their spiritual development in the formative years of their lives in the hopes they will become a sports superstar? What is the best result that can come from that choice? And what is the worst?
Now, come back from the ledge and let’s talk about this.
If you know me, you know I played a lot of ball in my day and went to college on a baseball scholarship. I have coached baseball for many years since my playing days, and love the positives that playing a sport can bring to a young person. But this thing has taken on a whole new form that I believe is harmful to many of our kids. I’ve seen it over and over in the places I’ve served.
Our churches are full of people like you or someone you know, who have children that are playing sports year round. And in the off season of their local league sports, they play on travel teams – some around the country – to play their sports. Many of these are families of faith, like yours, who are making this decision in full conviction that the passing on of their spiritual legacy is not affected at all by this choice. After all, you read the Bible and pray together in the hotels – sometimes you even go to a chapel service at the tournament location or a local church, if the tournament bracket schedule allows. Sure, your kids never do the church camps or go on a student ministry mission trip, and they miss most Sundays during the travel season, but isn’t there more to Christianity than that?
And, you argue, some sons and daughters do play pro sports and find Olympic glory. Why couldn’t it be yours?
My fear for you is this – your kids will gain far less from this experience than you could have ever imagined, and it will cost them far more in their spiritual and personal development than you could have ever feared. Many aspects of Christian maturity are only learned in community with other believers. They are not going to get everything from you – they have to have other people speaking into their spiritual development. And there are no “do-overs” in parenting. You get one shot.
The truth is, if they are gifted and passionate about spending their energy to develop a skill in a sport, they will do that with or without a total focus on it when they are 13 years old. And if they don’t give their lives over to being great in one sport, they might find other interests they can develop as well…that can be part of their lives long after their athletic careers are over.
In sports it’s called “cross-training.” It’s when an athlete trains by doing activities outside of the particular sport they compete in. And I believe that as young people develop, they need “life training” – lots of varied experiences and interests that help them explore where their passions are and how they might spend their lives as adults.
But all too often, parents choose a sport for their child when they 8 or 9 years old and seemingly sacrifice everything else for that child to succeed in that sport. What happens when it’s over?
When my daughter was in high school, we traveled a little ways down this road. Her volleyball coach in high school gave special attention to the girls that played travel ball in the off-season. So, like many families, we made the choice after her sophomore year to join a travel league in the off-season in hopes it would bolster her high school career.
It’s a crazy life these travel ball families live. The low point for me was when she was playing in a tournament in Atlanta – all of our family was there – and we were watching game after game – on Easter Sunday – I knew that day we had fallen victim to the religion of travel ball.
I have a high school friend who is a sad case study in this subject. He was a wonderful athlete in high school and even competed on the college level. But being great at his sport was all his life was about. Now in his early 50s, he sits and reminisces about his athletic accomplishments of long ago. His life has been marked by a failed marriage and a strained relationship with his kids. But he has never found real purpose beyond his college playing days. So sad, indeed.
Here’s another news flash – if your son or daughter has unique athletic gifts and are passionate about playing a sport, they will become great at it without travel ball. And perhaps, being involved in the student activities of church or in some family mission journey could help them become passionate about something that will matter beyond their 18th birthday.
So, how about this – what if – instead of spending the energies of your family to build a “super-kid” in some sport or skill, why not let them have a normal experience of playing different sports and spend those extra resources of money and time investing in their spiritual and personal development?  Why not pour your family effort into service and missions at your church and beyond?
It’s time for parents that are serious about discipling their kids to stand up to the travel coaches that dominate the growing up years of their children. It’s time to realize that kids don’t have to be great at something – all they have to do is be.
God has already made them great.
Mike Harland
Director, LifeWay Worship

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Aging

My dad is right.  The older you get, the faster the years go by.  With that acknowledgement, what will it take in your life to slow you down?

While the weather certainly has crippled, or at least slowed down much of the nation this winter, for some it may be a simple trip to the Doctor for a routine check up. The visit leads to a referral, and the referral leads to a test that comes back with life changing news. For some it is a call in the night that shares heart breaking news that a loved one has passed away.  For others it may be a trip to the supervisor's office where you are finally given the word that you are losing your job.

The Hebrews writer in Pauline like fashion says,
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. Hebrews 12:1-2

When I think of a race, I am instantly thinking, "Get through as fast as you can!" Hebrews tells us to run with endurance, patience. A battle that will require discipline and sweat.  In essence it shouts out, "Don't quit!"
If you have found yourself sitting on the sidelines, I encourage you today to grab your Bible, and if it has dust on it, gently wipe it off and thank God the Word is still alive.  Pour yourself into it.  If you find yourself bitter or mad at someone, get on your knees and ask God to give you a new start and forgive you as you forgive them. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32

Hey, we are all getting older!  We are aging!  Life is too short to miss out on what God may want to do in your life.  See you this Sunday.    Bro. Greg




Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Frozen and Chosen

The holidays have come and gone and we are now settling in to a new year. The winter has been brutal so far. Most of us are longing to see and feel the warmth of the Spring. It is fitting that one of the hit movies this year is "Frozen." We are!

Once again I have stated and hope to read through the Bible, but like many I normally start out strong then fizzle. I don't want to do that this year. By now you have made the decision of whether or not you were serious about any resolution that you have made. In a recent ministrygrid.com leadership lesson by former Pastor of Southeast Christian Church, Bob Russell, he made a statement that really struck home with me as a Pastor.  He said, " Any organization that has been in existence for more than five years runs the risk of having no goals, only activity."
My prayer for our church this year is that we do set goals pursue them, that we don't settle for everything we did last year, but serve the Lord with gladness and a freshness. 

I have noticed in my life that I really do like old songs.  When I say old, I am talking 70's, late 70's, the High School era for Renee and I. I like old hymns and classic southern gospel.  While it is not wrong to do that, when it comes to life in Christ,may my life be one marked by seeing God do new works in us and through us. Throughout Scripture we are called to look back and praise God for what He has done. But let's not stop there, let us trust Him for each step that is front of us and for the new things He has in store.
 

The Psalmist declares that it is the Lord that gives us a new song.
Psalm 33:3    Sing to Him a new song; Play skillfully with a shout of joy.
Psalm 40:3    He has put a new song in my mouth-- Praise to our God; Many will see it and fear, And will trust in the LORD.
Psalm 144:9  I will sing a new song to You, O God; On a harp of ten strings I will sing praises to You,


Praise the Lord that He takes the ordinary, and supernaturally recharges the batteries for us to continue on and serve Him! He puts a new song in us, a song to sing for His glory.

Hello 2014, it is going to be a great year! May the Lord do a new thing in our lives and church!