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Showing posts with label The Truth As Far As I Can Tell.... Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Truth As Far As I Can Tell.... Show all posts

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Faithful - The Truth As Far As I Can Tell...

Luke 16:10 – If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.

We are called to be faithful.  Faithfulness is the concept of unfailingly remaining loyal to someone or  Christians—those who put their faith in Jesus Christ and follow him as their Lord—promise to be faithful to Christ.  At my church (Pleasant Grove United Methodist Church), we formalize our commitment with vows.  We promise to:
something, and putting that loyalty into consistent practice regardless of extenuating circumstances.
·       Renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, and repent of our sin,
·       Accept the freedom and power God gives us to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves,
·       And confess Jesus Christ as our Savior, put our whole trust in his grace, and promise to serve him as our Lord, in union with the church which Christ has opened to people of all ages, nations, and races.

Our promise is to serve Christ as Lord, in union with the church.  So we ask people to become members of our church congregation who promise to faithfully participate in its ministries by their prayers, their presence, their gifts, their service, and their witness.  Prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness seem like little things, but they are the building blocks of a vibrant spiritual life.  We hinder our spiritual life when we neglect any of them.  Furthermore, we harm our fellow church members when we are not faithful.  Are you faithful to Christ?  Are you a faithful member of a church?  Ask yourself:
·       Am I faithful in prayer? Do I pray daily?  Do I pray often throughout the day?
·       Am I faithfully present at church?  Do I attend Sunday worship weekly, missing no more than five Sundays a year?  Do I participate in a Bible study, a Sunday school, a small group, or a prayer group?  Am I present regularly at special events like Trunk or Treat or the Easter Egg Hunt?
·       Am I a faithful giver to my church?  Am I committed to give 10% of my income to the church?  If not, how much will I give and how might I begin to work toward the goal of one day giving a full tithe?  If I already give 10%, how might I go further and be even more generous?
·       Am I faithful to serve in my church?  Do I volunteer regularly (as a teacher, or choir member, or help with cleanup, or changing the church sign, or serving Wednesday night suppers, or helping with youth, or something else)?
·       Am I a faithful witness for Jesus Christ?  Do I try to live a life of integrity that represents Jesus well?  Do I tell people how important my faith is to me and what Jesus is doing in my life? How many people have I invited to church this year?

Faithfulness is vital to the Christian life.  If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones.  But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.  Of course, I’m no expert and I certainly don’t claim to know everything, but that’s the Truth as far as I can tell…

Remember, God loves you and so do I!

Thursday, August 30, 2018

I'm Cool - The Truth As Far As I Can Tell...

1 Thessalonians 2:4 - For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts.

It took me 44 years, but I've finally done it.  I’m cool.  I always wanted to be cool.  When I was a kid, I used to watch the TV show “Happy Days” and idolize the character Arthur Fonzarelli (AKA Fonzie or the Fonz).  I was only five or six-years-old, but I wanted to be like the Fonz.  Fonzie was the epitome of cool.  Looking back now, it seems silly.  He had greasy hair, wore a white undershirt and a black leather jacket, and his “office” was in the men’s bathroom of Arnold’s Diner.  How in the world would anyone in real life think that was cool?  But somehow Fonzie was cool.  He could start the jukebox with the bang of his fist and snap his fingers and two beautiful girls would magically appear beside him.  I wanted to be cool like Fonzie my whole life.

In high school, my friends and I tried to be cool.  We dressed the way we thought cool people should dress and tried to hang out with the cool crowd.  But deep inside, I knew we weren't cool.  I’ve never had fashion sense; I’m socially awkward and shy.  Cool didn’t working for me.  I needed a new plan.

I resigned myself to just being ordinary.  I focused on my school work and went on to college thinking, “I will get a good job and make lots of money and maybe that will make me cool.”  Then, God laughed and called me into what the world might say is the most “uncool” career possible (and certainly not very lucrative): Christian ministry as a pastor of a mainline church.  (As Fonzie would say, “Ayyyyyyyy!”)

Maybe it took parenting teenage children to make me cool.  It’s enlightening to listen to teenagers talk about cool fashions and say things like, “You're too old to wear those shoes.”  And it’s revealing to see some ridiculous fashions from yesteryear suddenly become cool again.  Last year, my family harassed me for being a lame dad who wore Crocs with socks.  Last week, I was in a trendy restaurant and the fashionable waiter was wearing Crocs with white socks.  I pointed it out to my wife and she said, “Yeah.  It’s the cool style now.”  Really?  Who decides this stuff?  

I’m didn't become cool because I took anyone’s fashion advice.  It happened because I finally realized I just don't care what people think about me anymore.  That’s actually the definition of cool.  I mean, look at the Fonz; he didn’t care.  He dressed how he wanted, talked how he wanted, lived how he wanted.  Nobody told him how to be cool.  Cool people don’t worry about all that lame stuff.  If they set any trends, it’s because they’re not trying.  They’re just living who they are.  That’s why people think they’re cool and try to copy them. (Ironically, trying to copy someone who's cool automatically make you uncool.)

So I guess I've just reached a point in my life where I really don't care what people think about me.  I care about the people, but not about their opinion of me.  I care what God thinks; I think it’s cool to walk with Him and seek His will for my life.  Now I'm not saying I don't care about people’s advice.  I want to be the best person I can be and sometimes feedback helps me be a better father, husband, pastor, or friend.  However, I'm not trying to make anyone think I'm cool.  

I've already spent too much time in my life trying to please people.  Walking with Jesus—the coolest person I’ve ever met—helps me worry less and less about pleasing people.  I'm 44-years-old and I feel pretty cool.  You might not think so, but I don't care.  Sorry, not sorry.  That's why I'm cool.  You can copy me if you want.  I don't care about that either.  I'm not trying to be like anyone or be different than anyone.  I'm an original creation by the One True God of the universe.  There’s no one else like me and that’s incredibly cool.  Guess what: you are too.  Of course, I’m no expert and I certainly don’t claim to know everything, but that’s the Truth as far as I can tell…

Remember, God loves you and so do I!

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

R U Fruity - The Truth As Far As I Can Tell...

John 15:5 – “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”

Are you fruity?  If you were put on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?  We are called by God to be a royal priesthood, a holy nation.  We are set apart, sanctified to God.  Sanctified means dedicated for a holy purpose.  As Christians, we are to be dedicated to God.  Set apart from all other people—peculiarly different.  The difference between Christians and non-Christians should be obvious.  Why?  Because the Holy Spirit of God lives inside us and changes us.

The more we realize the price Christ paid to redeem us, the more it will profoundly affect who we are.  It affects the way we live.  It affects the way we think.  It affects the things we do.  It even affects the things we desire.  Soon it is obvious we are indeed different from those around us who do not have faith, because faith in God is a powerful and life changing force.

Think of two people, wandering in the desert, each holding a glass of water.  They are both thirsty but won’t drink the water because they think it’s actually poison.  Suddenly, God opens the heavens and tells them both, “Drink.  This is not poison.  It is water.  It will save you.”  One believes God and the other does not.  The one who believes will drink and be satisfied.  The one who does not believe will remain thirsty.  So you see, true faith leads to action.

It is the same with us, except our faith is not in water.  Our faith is in the living Son of God!  And more than that, we believe He lived a perfect life, suffered and died in our place, was buried in the earth for three days, rose again to live forever, and that we will join Him!  How can that not affect us?  How can that not change our lives?  It most definitely will, unless we don’t really believe.

Galatians 5:22-23a says, “The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”  As we let the Holy Spirit guide our lives and change us, we begin to exhibit these kinds of spiritual fruit more and more.

And that brings me back to the original question of this article; are you fruity?  Do you really believe what you profess?  How has your faith changed you?  Are you now different from the way you were when you first believed?  Does your faith cause you to bear fruit?  I hope so, because true faith changes us from our old way of being into the fruity new creations God wants us to be.  Of course, I’m no expert and certainly don’t claim to know everything, but that’s the truth as far as I can tell…

God loves you and so do I!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Bearing Good Fruit - The Truth As Far As I Can Tell...

Here’s a poem I once wrote:
This way friend!  Look, what do you see?
Here, taste the fruit of this fruitful tree.
A good tree bears good fruit.  It’s a pleasure to behold.
A bad tree bares bad fruit—rotten, mushy, mold.
Crisp refreshment, sweet juices drip.
Scents so heavenly—fruity, airy, whiffs.
Abundance, running over, the harvest bursting full.
This good tree bears good fruit, with a bounty left to pull.
Sour repulsion, slimy, mushy pulp.
Pungent, reeking odor—worm-ridden bulbs.
Worthless waste of labor, good only for the flies.
This bad tree bears bad fruit, and those who eat it die.
The soil is richly fertile, prepared with care and love.
The trees are pruned so neatly and watered by God above.
The roots do their duty and nourish each budding branch.
But the only thing that matters is if the fruit will make Him dance.
So what makes it bad or good?  What makes the discrimination?
Come on, you already know! It’s within your determination.
Good fruit is sweet and tasty—a pleasure to behold.
Bad fruit is spoiled and sour—rotten, mushy, mold.
Matthew 7:17-20 – 17A healthy tree produces good fruit, and an unhealthy tree produces bad fruit. 18A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. 19So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. 20Yes, the way to identify a tree or a person is by the kind of fruit that is produced.
Of course, I’m no expert and certainly don’t claim to know everything, but that’s the Truth as far as I can tell…
Remember, God loves you and so do I!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

A Special Letter - The Truth As Far As I Can Tell...

Matthew 4:19 – Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!”

In a recent study on Wednesday night at my church, we were challenged to write a letter to the person who led us to Christ.  I want to share mine with you:
Dear Children's Church Volunteer,

            When I was 8-years-old, you helped lead children's church where my family worshiped.  I’m sorry I don’t remember your name.  I was just a kid then and I only attended for a few years, but I remember going to children’s church.  I didn’t know the other kids, but you had a friendly smile that made me feel welcome.
            I’m glad you shared your joy for the Lord.  It probably wasn’t easy to keep all the kids under control, because we didn’t always want to be there, but you did your best to help us have fun and learn something.  We sang songs like: “Father Abraham” and “Do Lord” and “The Lord’s Army.”   Then, we would listen to a Bible story.  One Sunday, you told us how Jesus came to save us from our sins so we could live with him in heaven.  You said we needed to let Jesus into our hearts.  I believed in Jesus and I knew I was a sinner who needed to be saved, but I was too shy to say anything.  So I didn’t.
            You didn’t give up though.  You invited the kids to ask Jesus into their heart every Sunday.   You would sing the old invitational songs like "Just as I Am" and "Earnestly, Tenderly, Jesus is Calling".  I felt Jesus calling to me while you were singing.  There was just something about your tenor voice and the way you seemed transported as you sang, “Come home!  Come home!  Ye who are weary, come home!  Earnestly tenderly, Jesus is calling. Calling, oh sinner, come home!”  Even as a kid, I could feel it.  I knew Jesus was calling.
            It took three weeks for this shy 8-year-old to get up the nerve, but I finally answered Jesus’ invitation to come home.  I walked to the front of the chapel while you sang and someone prayed with me to receive Christ.  I became a Christian that day and I’ve known ever since that one day I will be with Jesus in heaven.
            Thank you for the part you played in my salvation.  You changed the course of my life.  I try to live my life for Jesus every day.  My faith in Christ carried me through some rough years as a teenager and the struggles of young adulthood.  He has been with me as a parent and preach and lead my congregation.  Jesus leads me through it all and has never let me down.  So, thank you.  Thank you for giving yourself to the kids who attended children’s church.  There’s no telling how many eternities you altered, but I’m so glad you altered mine.
            I hope you’re doing well and will always be willing to invite someone to church or just pray with them or tell them or show them God's love.  And whenever you have a chance, invite them to come home to Jesus.  Maybe they will, just like I did.

Aren’t you thankful for all the people who witnessed to you, prayed for you, helped you, and encouraged you?  Jesus wants you to do the same for someone else.  He wants us to be fishers of men.  Of course, I’m no expert and I certainly don’t claim to know everything, but that’s the Truth as far as I can tell…
Remember, God loves you and so do I!


Thursday, April 5, 2018

The Veil is Torn in Two - The Truth As Far As I Can Tell...

The Truth As Far As I Can Tell…

Mark 15:37-39 – Then Jesus uttered another loud cry and breathed his last. And the  curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.  When the Roman officer who stood facing him saw how he had died, he exclaimed, “This man truly was the Son of God

Can you imagine being a Jewish priest in the Temple on the day Jesus died on the cross?  I think it would make an interesting story told from their perspective.  One day, you’re tending the Holy Temple and the curtain separating the Holiest Place in the Temple—the place that was supposed to be the earthly dwelling place of God’s presence—is torn in two, from top to bottom.  The curtain (also called a veil) symbolized how people were separated from God by sin.  Only the High Priest was allowed to pass beyond the veil, and only once a year on the Day of Atonement to make a sacrifice for humanity’s sin.  Can you imagine being a priest in the Temple and seeing that sacred parament mysteriously torn completely in two before your eyes?

The significance is this.  Sin no longer has to separate us from God.  Jesus was the perfect Lamb of God and his sacrifice on the cross atoned completely for our sins.  Before Jesus, no one could go fully into the presence of God; only the high priest, once a year after very carefully spiritual preparation, could go in to make a sacrifice and beg God for mercy and forgiveness.  But then Jesus died on the cross and paid the price for our sins in full!  Now, there is absolutely no need for a curtain to separate us anymore! 

Everything has changed.  Gone are the days of spiritual elitism where only a select few are allowed access to God.  Everyone can come to Him now.  In fact, the Bible says everyone who trusts and follows Jesus is a holy priest.  We don’t have to tip toe around God, fearful that He may strike us dead for the least transgression.  Now, grace abounds and we can relate to God as Jesus did—as children with a gracious and loving father. 

There is power in the blood of Christ to forgive all our sins.  His Holy Spirit no longer resides in a temple behind a current.  Now His Spirit resides in us!  We are His Holy Temple and He empowers us to live holy lives where we love God and love our neighbor.  Isn’t that amazing?  I think it is and I think it changes everything!  Of course, I’m no expert and I certainly don’t claim to know everything, but that’s the Truth as far as I can tell…

Remember, God loves you and so do I!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Eat Your Vegetables - The Truth As Far As I Can Tell...

The Truth As Far As I Can Tell…

Acts 2:42 – All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.

“Eat your vegetables!”  It’s a phrase exasperated parents often exclaim as they plead with kids to eat the healthy food on their plate.  Rarely will you hear them beg, “Eat your cake!  Drink more sweet tea!  Please, have another cookie or piece of pizza!”  But alas, the neglected vegetable—the healthy source of such vital vitamins and minerals and nourishing stuff pediatricians say our kids must have—remain the bane of many a child’s mealtime experience.
Perhaps a parent’s quest to force healthy food down their kids’ gullets is even more difficult because adults often crinkle their noses at the green things on the table too.  Ham and macaroni and cheese are great, but broccoli, spinach, or Brussel sprouts?  How can you encourage your kids to eat wholesome vegetables when you don’t like them yourself? 
Parents will sometimes try to trick kids (or themselves) into eating vegetables by disguising them as other foods.  I saw a segment on TV about using spaghetti squash to make lasagna.  “It tastes just like regular lasagna!” they exalted, “You wouldn’t even know it was good for you!”  Well, whatever it takes I guess…
We need to eat more healthy vegetables.  As I’ve grown up, I’ve found I like many of the vegetables I used to turn my nose at as a child.  I have “put away childish things” (1 Cor. 13:11) so to speak (except for Brussel sprouts, bleh!).  As a mature adult, I enjoy how vegetables offer variety, texture, and flavor to my meals as well as nutrition without all the add calories associated with bread and fatty meats.
There are activities in the Christian faith that many treat like vegetables—things people know are good for them, but they just don’t like to do.  Some of these might be reading the Bible, keeping a daily prayer time, going to Sunday school and church, and receiving Holy Communion.  When the preacher says “Do these!” we crinkle our nose like a stubborn child and refuse or make excuses (or just pretend like we’re doing them and hope no one notices we’re not).
As you look ahead and ponder your goals for the coming year, consider that you cannot progress unless you “eat your vegetables.”  In other words, you cannot fully grow as a person unless you do the things that help you grow.  Jesus’ first believers found growth by devoting themselves “to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.” (Acts 2:42)  Sound familiar?  Those “vegetables” sound I lot like: reading the Bible, attending Sunday school and church, receiving Holy Communion, and daily prayer.
When we eat our “spiritual vegetables,” we find the Holy Spirit produces some sweet spiritual fruit in our life:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).  So, eat your vegetables and you will taste some sweet fruit.  Of course, I’m no expert and I certainly don’t claim to know everything, but that’s the Truth as far as I can tell…

Remember, God loves you

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

What If Churches Were More Like Football Stadiums?

The Satirical Truth As Far As I Can Tell…

Matthew 2:10-12 – 10 When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! 11 They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

            The Wisemen traveled from far, far away to come worship the Savior who was born king of the Jews.  They counted it an honor and privilege to go to such great lengths to see baby Jesus and offer their precious gifts.  Oh that we all were as determined to worship Christ as were they.  
            I am always pondering ways to get more people in church to worship the King.  Football is king in the south.  People go to great lengths to see their favorite team play.  Millions flock into overcrowded stadiums each weekend.  Maybe what football stadiums do will work for the church.  You think?

What if we sold expensive tickets for admission?
            Attending church is free.  Sure, we take up an offering, but
it’s totally voluntary.  Maybe that’s the problem.  The cheapest ticket you could buy for the Nov. 10 Auburn/Georgia game was $189/seat (and that was in the nose bleed section).  Good seats on the home side of the 50 yard line were closer to $800-900/person.  So you couldn’t get your family of 5 seats at the game for less than $945.  With prices like that, our church could generate at least $100,000 per service in ticket sales alone.  The only problem I see here is determining which are the best seats in the House.  Most people want to sit up front and close to the action at the game, but usually on the back row in the church service. 

What if we made people pay for their programs?
            We hand out church bulletins for free and they usually end up in the trash or left in the pews after the service.  Last year’s Superbowl program sells online for $17.99 + tax and it’s a collector’s item.  Churches are tax exempt, so you’d still get a bargain if we sold ours at a comparable price.  We could earn thousands from program sales.  (Now we just need to figure out concessions—Holy Communion maybe?) 
Since people are dying to pay these exorbitant prices to squeeze into cramped stadium seats to watch sweaty athletes chase each other, surely they will flock to our church to sit in comfortable cushioned pews in a beautiful sanctuary to worship the Son of God who died on the cross for our sins.  Our sanctuary will be packed and our parking lot won’t be able to handle all the cars.  So…

We’ll need to charge for parking.
            People will pay $7 to park at the SEC championship game, but that’s 10 blocks away.  They’ll have to pay $40 dollars or more to get reasonably close.  Perhaps the church can be generous and just charge $20 for a spot in our lot and subcontract out the rest to nearby businesses.  Those parking lots will only cost $5-10 depending on how far away they are.

What if a church service was as long as a football game?
  No one will pay football prices for a 1 hour church service.  That’s just dumb.  The average football game last 3 hours (even though the ball is actually in play for only about 11 minutes).  People deserve to get what they pay for, so we’ll graciously extend the worship service to 3 hours.  Preachers need a lot more time to go deep anyway.  Think how fast we will be able to cure the biblical illiteracy and moral decline in our nation when we commit so much time, energy, effort, and money to worshiping and learning about Christ in church.  Of course, I’m no expert and I certainly don’t claim to know everything, but that’s the satirical Truth as far as I can tell…
Remember, God loves you and so do I!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Grace - The Truth As Far As I Can Tell...

John 1:16 – From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
            I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be labeled as “graceful.”  Clumsy?  Yes.  Forgetful?   Sure!  Graceful?  No.  I’m so awkward I can manage to fall up a flight of steps.
Never-the-less, one of my favorite words in the Christian vocabulary is Grace.  Grace is often used to describe the charming way people carry themselves (or the lack thereof as they trip and stumble through life).  However, grace has a more significant meaning for Christians as we walk with Christ.  Grace is the undeserved aid God lends to help us, save us, renew us, and set us apart as His holy servants.  Regardless of how elegant or clumsy we are, the spiritual virtue of grace within comes from the Holy Spirit.  Just as the Father, through Jesus Christ, forgave our sin and continues to forgive our clumsy blunderings through life, the Spirit enables us to offer the same grace to others.  God’s grace encourages and inspires us to never give up, because we know we are loved and that God is on our side. Grace motivates us to do our very best—not because we fear God’s wrath, but—because we love God and want to serve well to show it.  Even if we fail or fall, we believe God still loves us and appreciates the effort.  We believe in grace with our whole heart and believers offer grace to others because we have been given so much ourselves.  It’s amazing to see how grace motivates and inspires and gives birth to more and more grace—and grace is a beautiful thing.  We could all use a little more grace.  We should all offer a little more to others.  Of course, I’m no expert and I certainly don’t claim to know everything, but that’s the Truth as far as I can tell…

Remember, God loves you and so do I!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Serving - The Truth As Far As I Can Tell...

            I don’t really like shopping for clothes.  I know there are some people who do.  There are those who have a really good time browsing through store after store, trying on clothes, picking out the ones they like, and spending their money.  Those people are crazy!  
            Shopping is not for me.  It’s just draining.  I can work hard all day outside in the hot sun doing something I enjoy and not get tired, but I’m exhausted in less than an hour if my wife makes me go shopping.  
            Something similar happens when people serve in the church.  You serve with more passion and dedication when you serve in ways you enjoy, but serving becomes a chore when you serve in ways God hasn’t gifted you or when you have a bad attitude.
            God gives every Christian special abilities so we can serve others.  A person is truly blessed when they discover their gifts and learn how to use them to serve.  There is no greater joy than serving others in ways God designed you to serve.  It is a double blessing because you are blessed and so are the people you serve.
            However, there is another vital factor at work—your attitude.  A bad attitude can spoil the blessing of any act of service—even something you normally enjoy.  I sometimes see this when people serve out of a sense of obligation rather than love.  People often feel guilty because they think they ought to serve in some way, but they don’t really want to or aren’t able.  They may serve anyway, but they do it grudgingly.  Other times people refuse to serve and resent having been asked to do something they couldn’t or wouldn’t do.  Either way, there is a bad attitude afloat and it stinks worse than dirty sock left in the backseat of a hot car.
            This is not the way God wants it to be.  God sent His one and only Son to redeem us from guilt and shame.  The last thing God wants to do is guilt us into serving.  God asks us to serve so we can be part of the rich blessings He plans to give—both to those who serve and those who are served.  And God wants us to serve—not because we feel we have to, but—because our heart is overflowing with love and gratitude for Christ.  God gives us the freedom to decide how we serve so we can serve out of love and with a cheerful heart. 
            The Word of God tells us to have a cheerful heart.  One verse in particular comes to mind.  Although the context of this verse is financial giving, the same principle applies to our gifts of service.    2 Corinthians 9:7 – “You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”” 
    I encourage you to give your time, your talents, your treasures, (everything really) with a cheerful heart.  Don't miss the joy, the blessing, the wonder of cheerful service for it is a sweet, sweet aroma to the Lord.  It is the way the Church was meant to be.  Of course, I’m no expert and certainly don’t claim to know everything, but that’s the Truth as far as I can tell…

Remember, God loves you and so do I!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Home - The Truth As Far As I Can Tell...

The Truth As Far As I Can Tell…
Hebrews 13:14 – For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.
My Uncle, Gilbert Bigham
Recently, I had the privilege of traveling to Clinton, SC with Mom to visit some relatives.  My 97-year-old uncle, Gilbert Bigham (my Grandma Wingo’s brother and last living sibling), has lung cancer. So Mom and I went to see him.  While there, we visited several other relatives and heard many stories about our family history.  I saw where my Grandpa Wingo grew up and stopped by Bellview Baptist church (the church my ancestors helped found by donating land).

Relatives on my Grandma Wingo's side, (Going Clockwise):
Ann Campbell (Grandma's sister Daisy's daughter),
Kenneth Hamilton (Grandma's sister Hannah's son) and his wife,
Elizabeth Beaty's husband and Elizabeth (Grandma's sister Hannah's daughter),
Harold and Joan Smith (Grandma's sister Ruby's daughter),
and Georgia Mae Brewer (Grandma's sister Hannah's daughter)

I have a rather large family.  Grandma was one of eleven siblings and one adopted child.  (So you can imagine how many cousins and aunts and uncles we have.)  Unfortunately, I didn’t see many of my relatives as I was growing up.  While most of my extended family lived in the Clinton and Laurens, SC area—and many still do—my grandparents were more like Abraham and Sara from the Bible; they moved away from home to make a new life. 

My Grandpa's Childhood Home
Bellview Baptist Church - Laurens, SC
First, my grandparents moved to Savannah, GA where my mom was born while Grandpa built ships for World War II.  Then, Grandpa went to Europe to fight the War.  Afterwards, my grandparents moved to Ohio and lived in a few different towns before settling down in Marengo.  Mom persisted in her parents’
migratory methods.  She graduated high school and moved to Washington DC where she worked for the FBI and met my dad.
I was born in Maryland and lived in two different towns in that state—North Beach until I was 6 and then Silver Springs.  The school kids in Maryland joked about the “southern” accent I inherited from my parents until I was 8 and my family move to Macon, GA.  It was closer to my Dad’s family, but miles from anything I was used to.  Now, the school kids said I sounded like a “Yankee”.  We moved one more time, just far enough that I had to change schools.
Now, I’m not whining.  I was used to all this moving.  It was sad to leave friends and homes behind, but it’s just who we were.  Looking back know, I realize this was a legacy that went back a long way in my family—at least to my Grandma and Grandpa Wingo.  What urged Grandma and Grandpa to wander away from Clinton, SC when everyone else stayed?  Was God leading them to find a new “Promised Land” like Abraham and Sara of the Bible?  I don’t know, but I realize it prepared me for the life I live as an itinerant Methodist preacher.  Since Kelly and I married 23 years ago, we have moved from Macon to Marietta to Lithia Springs to Griffin to Forsyth and now we live in Dalton.  And if the Lord is willing, we will have many more cities and towns to call our “home” over the next 40+ years. 
            People often ask, “Where’re you from?”  Well, you tell me.  Where am I from?  Where is my “home”?  Is it where I was born or where I first went to school?  Is my home where I met my wife and got married?  Is it where I graduated from high school or college or seminary?  Is my home where I live now or where I’m going next?  Or is “home” in Clinton, SC where my ancestors came from or Ireland or France where their ancestors came from?  Well, my life and my faith have taught me this: “Home” is not some place you go back to; “Home”—our real Home—is where we are going.  With Jesus help, we shall get there one day.  Of course, I’m no expert and I certainly don’t claim to know everything, but that’s the Truth as far as I can tell…
Remember, God loves you and so do I!
The Wingo Brothers - Robert (my Grandpa) is second from the left