Tuesday, December 22, 2015

"Torn Paper"



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

John 1:12 (NKJV) 
12  But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:

Christmas wrapping paper has come a long way.  If I recall correctly, there was a time when it was so thin that you could literally read the name of the gift through the paper.  Anyone been there?  It would tear easily, and when you cut it with scissors, it tore as you cut.  Stores like  Elder Beermans,  J.C.Penneys, (Rikes) had gift wrapping available.  This year it is hard to even get a free box to wrap a gift.

This week as Renee and I wrapped some gifts I was surprised to find out that the back of the paper of a certain brand had a grid on it.  A straight line grid to help you cut more accurately.  Now there is a great idea.  Something to make sure I stay on track.  Do you realize that God has given us a life grid, something to help us stay on the right track and that is His Word, the Bible? It is the bestselling book of all time. There will be many Bibles given and received as presents this year for Christmas.  I recently had my preaching Bible returned after be rebound and I love it. It cost the price of three new ones, but it is special to me.

The purpose of any Bible is to be read, not left in your car until next week, or packed away to preserve it's newness.  We all love new Bibles, but it's purpose is to be read. Read, internalized, then applied to your daily life.  It is the wrapping paper life grid for the believer.  Hey, every now and then the paper may get torn, and life may get a little off the line,  but there is One who specializes in torn paper, torn lives, torn relationships, torn hearts, who is in the business of repair and restoration.

Someone once said, " A Bible that is falling apart, usually represents a life that isn't."  May that be true for all of us.

Merry Christmas!  Bro. Greg

Monday, December 14, 2015

"The Heart of Christmas"


What this Past Weekend Really Taught Me About "The Heart of Christmas"

Wow what a weekend of worship and ministry!  God came through again for us in a miraculous way as the Choir, Kids Choir, and Drama Team, along with our sound, media, and lighting folks  did an outstanding job for the Lord. Marcia with the music, Adults and Children, and Bev leading the Drama and setting up the lighting (While still singing in the Choir!)  reminded us once again that we have two of the best and should thank God for their tireless effort. Saturday night marked our largest attendance on opening night and we had another full house Sunday morning as we learned there is hope for the lonely, the hurting, and the torn family this Christmas.

What did I learn from this past weekend?  

1. God honors prayer. I know many of you prayed for us, and let me assure you we prayed. A special time of prayer took place Saturday evening in the choir room prior to the presentation as different people stood and and ask God to touch those participating who may be ill, and for every area of ministry in "The Heart of Christmas!".  It was a special time.

2.  God allows us to sweat sometimes in order to see His hand. (Sunday morning at about 10:20 A.M. Marcia shared, "The lights are not working!"  Bev was frantically working with Andrea and on the phone to Tim, the Lighting Engineer that set up for us.  Yes, no lights and it is about tip off.  What do we do?  We prayed together upstairs and ask the God of the universe to help us.  Why were the lights so important?  Because the storm and power outage were key players in the entire drama.  Lighting was crucial.  As we stood in the vestibule ready to come in not knowing what to expect, Dave Fyffe popped in and said, "They have got it!"  Praise the Lord!  What happened?
Hands that should have not touched the controls, touched the controls Saturday night sometime after our presentation! Wow!  God came through for us again! No one knew that God came through once again in the 11th hour!

3. God honors hard work.  I was reminded that productions and cantatas don't just happen. Months, and late hours of practice paid off.   In some places they might, but I believe like the former President of Cedarville, Paul Dixon always said, "Anything done in the name of Jesus should be done with excellence."


4. People come to Church when they are invited by a friend.... and their kids are involved.  I loved hearing and seeing the kids involved. I hope this is the beginning of a new era in Children's Worship.  I believe they are going to be singing at the Christmas Eve Service.


5. I have the blessing of pastoring a great Church with people Renee and I love with all our hearts.  Thanks for making this Christmas even more special.

Merry Christmas,  Bro. Greg

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

WELCOME HOME

Today something unusual  happened.  I was in line at a store today and a man and his wife were checking out and being assisted by the clerk.  Another couple was behind them and the second man said to the first, "That is a nice coat. When and where did you serve.  "The Coat" he referred to was a military jacket with patches on it. You may have seen veterans wear them. As I listened, they both served in Vietnam at the same time, one on the north side and another in the southern part of that war torn region.  It was the next statement that caused me to dictate it immediately into my phone. The first man stepped away from the clerk, outstretched his hand and said, "Welcome Home. Thank you for serving our country." Wow, Welcome Home? As I pondered that touching reunion, it hit me.  Those and some of you who served in Vietnam prayed to just live through it and make it home.   The victory for some was just making it through the war alive and coming home.

When I think of Christmas, it is overwhelming that Mary carried the Savior of the world.  The safest place that the Christ Child would  physically be would be in His mother's womb, and  think about the many times she would say to him as a boy and young man, "Welcome home."

That Savior would one day be brutally beaten and nailed to die on a cross.  Watching it all unfold would be His precious mother.  Jesus Died so that Mary, and those of us who have given our lives to Christ could hear Him one day say, "Welcome Home."   We believe everyone is going somewhere when they die.  Are you going to Heaven?

Luke 1:30-35 (NKJV)
30  Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
31  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS.
32  He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.
33  And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end."
34  Then Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I do not know a man?"
35  And the angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Thank You Veterans!

On this November 11, 2015 we stop to say we remember you and we thank all of our Veterans. While neither my dad, myself, or son served in the military, our family is forever grateful for the sacrifice our men and women have made to protect us and keep us free.  the following link is a tribute  to Veterans as recorded by Rick Warren.  I hope it is a blessing to you as we say thanks.
-- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8Mn1hngPiE

I want to say thank you Commander Scott A. Gobar upon his Naval retirement after 35 years. He was and is one of my best friends and I am honored to be associated with someone who has served and loves our country as he does.-- 


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Whirlwind

Sometimes life is on cruise control, sometimes stressed out, or you fell like you are in a whirlwind. That is the case for me as I just returned home after being in eleven states in one week.  It began with an invitation to meet with  Speaker of the House John Boehner in D.C. with 9 other pastors to discuss the defunding of Planned Parenthood.  After a long van ride, we arrived in D.C. after dark and had the privilege to sight see and then get some rest. I was like a wide eyed boy in a candy shop.

The following day was jammed with meetings and culminated with a face to face meeting with the Speaker who is also our District 8 Representative. It ended on a note of prayer, and served us to remember  the great pressure our elected officials have on them. My prayer is that this movement will continue to gain support and that as a nation we will make a strong stand in regards to life and the atrocities that we have watched on video and what PP is doing with baby parts.

We left for home at 6 P.M. and got to the house at 4 A.M. to get up at 8 A.M. to drive to Milwaukee to speak at a Worship424 conference and do some break outs the next day.  What a blessing to have gone and to have been there with other ministry partners and to meet the pastors serving in the trenches there. God filled my heart and did a fresh work in my spirit.

As we returned home, we received a call that Renee's uncle had passed away in Tennessee and the service would be Tuesday. We made it home from Milwaukee around 6.  Thank the Lord I had two preachers lined up to preach for me, so it was an honor to just sit and be fed.  We left Monday evening at 6 P.M., arrived at 11:40 for a quick night and participated in the funeral at 1 the next day.
Renee's mom is now the last of her family.  She is a real blessing to us.  I could have not ask for a better mother in law.  It is ironic that our parents (Renee and myself) are from nearly the same place in Tennessee.  Due to that fact, after the funeral I was blessed to reconnect with an Uncle and one Aunt for a few brief moments.  It was a real blessing to my life. They both encouraged me, while battling health issues on their own.  We got back in the car, and arrived home around 11 last night.
I have never had a week like this.  Crazy, yet rewarding.  I am glad to be home, and want to do a better job, preaching the Word, and shepherding His church here in Camden.  Thank you Lord for the opportunities that you have brought my way.

Friday, September 11, 2015

9/11/01 The Day Things Changed

Dear First, as we prepare for Miracle day this Sunday and the celebration of  giving to pay off our worship center this Week, let us not forget the meaning of this day, September 11. Fourteen years ago on this day in 2001, the world changed, America changed, and our lives changed. Terrorism had a new face and we found ourselves victim to senseless, malicious killings that struck at the heart of innocent people and families and at the very heart of our nation.

Today we remember  those who were killed and pray for those who lost spouses, parents, children, grandparents, brothers and sisters, and friends.  America has many flaws, and seems to change daily, but it is still the greatest nation in the world, as we witness by the thousands who want to come and live here.

Always know that the Devil is real and wants to destroy your life, and your testimony.  May the Lord shield you today to be a light for Him, not a tool for the enemy.
Ephesians 6:12 (NKJV) 
12  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 

This Sunday morning I will be preaching a sermon entitled "Don't Miss the Miracle" from Matthew 13. I hope you will join us for a wonderful day of worship, sacrificial giving, and being part of a miracle that began in the year 2001 as we celebrated 50 years as a church,  We began a capital campaign that would allow us to build and occupy in 2004.  "Thankful for the Past, Building for the Future." We can pay it off this week!  That was our motto, we are now in the future, and the work to reach our community is not finished? To God be the glory!  Tell someone about Christ today!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Lessons from Yesterday!

Yesterday was one of those days that you pray for as a pastor.  It began knowing that we were going to baptize two brothers. That is always wonderful to know that we are baptizing.  Both having received Christ as their Savior in Bible School.  One this year and one several years ago.  Lesson #1 Bible School is still our Church's most fruit bearing ministry.  While we were talking about how I was going to baptize, their young brother Wyatt was with them and he indicated that he wanted Jesus to come into his heart.  Wait a minute, the worship service had not started yet! Lesson #2 Jesus still saves!  With our worship guest, This Hope (thishope.org) standing there, we knelt and led this young man to Christhurch joyfully proclaimed our gratitude and thanksgiving to the Lord.  What a morning, what a way to begin a service.  We baptized all three together as we celebrated together as a church the hand of God moving in a mighty way.

This Hope led in a Spirit filled  and led worship experience followed with an invitation to come to Christ.  There were no public decisions, but many hearts were moved to tears.  Lesson#3 God continues to remind me that He is at work whether we see it or not.  We concluded with a Parent/Baby dedication and I could hardly talk as I looked at two precious babies in the arms of their parents.  Lesson#4 All lives matter, and we must speak up for those who have no voice yet. Watching the soft tears stream down the faces, it was obvious, god does call us to give our kids to Him and He is counting on us to show them the Love of God.

Lord, thank you for the great privilege to be a pastor, a preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Thank you for letting me be part of the lives of those who You have entrusted to me as their pastor.  Thank you for continuing to teach me lessons.

Monday, June 22, 2015

2015 SBC Annual Meeting Takeaway

Having the Southern Baptist Convention here in Ohio was a wonderful treat.  First of all the proximity, a little over one hundred miles from Camden to Columbus.  Secondly, for Southern Baptists led by Ronnie Floyd to really see what God is doing in our great state.

The Pastor's Conference was tremendous.  Willy Rice put together a home run lineup with hometown Columbus Lifepoint Church Planter Dean Fulks leading off.The worship, and each preacher blessed my heart and challenged me to remember that "He must increase" in my life and ministry if it is going to be effective.  The offering that was taken, is going to Stow Mission Center Metro Columbus downtown Columbus.  That is tremendous.  In years past, preachers would beg people to give to pay for the conference.  Vance Pitman began a trend several years ago of getting sponsors to underwrite it and the offering is now ministry given.

Ronnie Floyd did an outstanding job of leading, presiding, and his sermon will be played here this Sunday night, "It's Time to Lead."  He hit all issues that we are dealing with as Christians, Pastors, and Churches.  I am glad to say that I am part of a denomination that is going to stand on the Word of God.  Culture is not going to dictate our beliefs, God will.  We will stand firm on the definition of a marriage , with one  man to one woman.  We will continue to fight for the right of a baby to be born.
May we do these things while still loving those who don't agree with us.

The Tuesday night prayer service, changed me, will change our Church, and the SBC. As we prayed for a Great Awakening in America let us not let up.  As we prayed for racial reconciliation, little did we know that the next night  a young man would sit in a Bible Study and then murder 9 innocent people in Charleston, S.C.   May God send Revival to our nation, using a group of brave, grieving, sold out Christians in Charleston as catalysts.

The NAMB and IMB reports were powerful with a commissioning service taking place. Kevin Ezell and David Platt represent a new face, the next generation of SBC leadership.

The Business was on point with very little wasted conversation on insignificant things.

I have been to most SBC Annual Meetings since 93, and by far, Ohio has been my favorite.
Thank you for the opportunity to go.  Bro. Greg

Monday, May 4, 2015

Don't forget Mom this Mother's Day

This Sunday we celebrate Mother's Day.  A time to say thanks and remember Mom for all she has done.  I realize I am blessed to still have a Mom as many have lost theirs. May we all be sensitive to the needs around us at this time of the year.  Some are spending their first Mother's Day without their Mother or perhaps it the first without a wife.  May the memories flood souls with warmth, joy, and comfort.

 My Mom has always been there for us.  She is interested in all of our lives and is living to spend quality time, not just with grand kids, but great grand kids.  I praise the Lord for that!

Renee is a great mom. I married the best. Willing do anything for the family, not just for her own kids and grand kids, but anyone. She is an example of selfless living.

This year Stacy our daughter is enjoying her first Mother's Day as Koby approaches his first Birthday Celebration. I am amazed at what good Mothers both she and our daughter in law Ashley are.  I guess a Mother's love is woven into the fabric of who she is, and like Christ, a Mother loves unconditionally.

This Sunday take some time and remind Mom of just how special she is. She is worth it as her price is far above rubies.  Proverbs 31.

Bro. Greg

Friday, March 13, 2015

Seasons

After a bitter winter, this past week began to feel, smell, and produce signs that Spring can't be far behind.  One thing about living here in Ohio is that we get to experience the change in Seasons.

Our Church is going through a season of change that I pray will draw us closer to the Lord.
Many of you were here Sunday when our Student Pastor and his wife, Eric and Nicole, came forward sharing the news that God was calling them to plant a Church in their hometown of Carlisle, Ohio. While their departure, around June 1,  is bittersweet, how wonderful it is to know that God is still in the business of calling people to follow Him, calling people to plant churches and reach folks in a certain area.

It has happened fast, and one reason is because Eric is working with the Cincinnati Association which is a Send North America City.  What used to take many months to accomplish has been accomplished in a few short weeks.  The interviews, assessments, references, have all been completed,  Following our recommendation Sunday night to be the Sending Church, things will move forward with their approval. One unique thing is that the Send City Coordinator for Cincinnati is Dennis Holmes.  Dennis grew up in our Church and is from Camden.  Only God could orchestrate that.

Both Eric and Nicole have fine pedigree in the area of ministry.  Nicole's dad, Mike Holmes, was the longtime Pastor at Westside Baptist church in Hamilton, and Eric's dad, Don Clarkson, is serving on Staff now in Centerville and has served several Churches in our Association.
They both know what is at stake to plant a Church. Their vacancy serving here will be a challenge. They both wear several different hats, and my prayer is that it will allow a number of folks to step up and use their gifts as we continue to rich our Jerusalem with the Gospel.

Why do we need another Church?  Aren't there enough Churches now?  Those are good questions, some I have asked in the past, but I have changed.  The most dynamic growth in the local church has been in the life of new works. Praise the Lord!  If that is the case, we should thank God that for the past three years we have partnered with Randy Chestnut at Hope Community Church in Old North Dayton, and more recently with supporting Walk Church in Las Vegas, with Pastor Heiden Ratner.

The Gospel is being proclaimed, lives are being changed and you are part of it.  Thank you for being a church that is willing to do whatever we can to make a difference for the sake of the Gospel.  This year, when we give to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering, it will be going to couples like Eric and Nicole Clarkson who will be Church Planters in Carlisle.  Praise the Lord!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Until we meet again Barry!

Tomorrow we will pay our respects to the family, remember his life, and preach the funeral of Barry Clutter. I have known Barry for a long time as we went to church together in Vandalia prior to coming to Camden.To the world  his name may not be recognizable, but to his family, those that knew him, those who took care of him,our church, and most importantly the Lord, we will be burying a soldier.

1. He was a soldier of the cross, a Christian, and because of that, according to the Word of God He is in the presence of the Lord. Amen!
2 Timothy 2:1-4 (NKJV) 1  You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
2  And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
3  You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
4  No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. 

Barry was the one who began a Children's Church service for us many years ago.
2. He was a soldier for his family.  While MS may have crippled him it did not take away his love for Linda, the kids, and grand kids. Their undying support and unconditional love for each other is a testimony to what a family should and can be. Proverbs 20:7 (NKJV)
 The righteous man walks in his integrity; His children are blessed after him.
3. He was a soldier in his fight with MS. One thing that will forever be remembered by me is that Barry did not complain.  He tried whatever was suggested, praying, hoping, pleading with God to use it to help or cure him. He never gave up, he fought because of love. Barry taught us that complaining doesn't change things, but that prayer does.  Here is a poem, I heard George Younce of the Cathedrals share many years ago by Red Foley and it reminds me of the lessons Barry has taught us.

FORGIVE ME WHEN I WHINE

Today upon a bus, I saw A lovely maid with golden hair;
I envied her - she seemed so gay - And oh, I wished I were so fair.
When suddenly she rose to leave, I saw her hobble down the aisle,
She had one foot and wore a crutch, But as she passed, a smile.
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine; I have two feet - the world is mine.

And when I stopped to buy some sweets, The lad who served me had such charm;
He seemed to radiate good cheer, His manner was so kind and warm.
I said, "It's nice to deal with you, Such courtesy I seldom find."
He turned and said, "Oh, thank you, sir!" And I saw that he was blind.
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine; I have two eyes - the world is mine.

Then, when walking down the street, I saw a child with eyes of blue.
He stood and watched the others play; It seemed he knew not what to do,
I stopped a moment, then I said: "Why don't you join the others, dear?"
He looked ahead without a word, And then I knew; He could not hear.
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine; I have two ears - the world is mine.

With feet to take me where I'd go, With eyes to see the sunset's glow,
With ears to hear what I should know: I'm blessed indeed, The world is mine;
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Fairest Lord Jesus

This old hymn spoke to me today in my study.  Do I cherish  and honor the Lord with my life?  Lord may you be my soul's glory, joy, and crown.
Fairest Lord Jesus, Ruler of all nature,
O Thou of God and man the Son,
Thee will I cherish, Thee will I honor,
Thou, my soul’s glory, joy and crown.

Fair are the meadows, fairer still the woodlands,
Robed in the blooming garb of spring;
Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer,
Who makes the woeful heart to sing.

Fair is the sunshine, fairer still the moonlight,
And all the twinkling starry host;
Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines purer
Than all the angels heaven can boast.

All fairest beauty, heavenly and earthly,
Wondrously, Jesus, is found in Thee;
None can be nearer, fairer or dearer,
Than Thou, my Savior, art to me.

Beautiful Savior! Lord of all the nations!
Son of God and Son of Man!
Glory and honor, praise, adoration,
Now and forever more be Thine.

1873 translation by Joseph A. Seiss [5]