Sunday Sermons

I have been reflecting this morning about some new ideas for the blog. One of these is “Sunday sermons”. On Sundays, I will either post a link to a sermon I have preached before or the basic typed thoughts from one of the few hundred messages I have preached in the past. 

I do not believe I have this on the media page. This message was preached on May 26, 2013, at the church I pastored in North Carolina. The title is “What Is a Healthy Church?” God wants churches and individual believers to be spiritually healthy. I pray this message will be of help to you today.


Advice to Single People Who Are Called to Ministry

If I knew that I could speak to high school and college students who definitely have a call on their life, I would talk more about one thing above all others – who you marry. Your spouse can make or break you! How do I know? I’m divorced and remarried. I would do a million things different, and so would my ex-wife. I won’t speak for her, but I can clearly speak for myself.

  1. If you see any red flags before marriage, don’t ignore them! These red flags are often placed by the Holy Spirit to let you know that you and that person are incompatible. If your religious beliefs, philosophy on spending, or any crucial matter is questionable, find someone else. It is not worth being miserable when God has made it clear to move on before you get married.
  2. If someone does not share your call to ministry or resents it, move on. Don’t expect that person to change! He or she will not eventually warm up to it. 
  3. If this person suppresses who God made you to be, move on! If you have the choice of who your mate will be and that person constantly belittles you, run!
  4. Listen to the advice of others! If friends, family, and wise believers are advising you not to marry this person, move on! Godly counsel has been put in your life for a reason. Heed their warnings! It will save you some heartache.
  5. Find a counselor who will tell you like it is. There a lots of nice men and women out there who may have known you for a long time. Don’t use them! Find someone who doesn’t know you and can play devil’s advocate. If you can survive that, you might have a future.
  6. Don’t get married just for sexual pleasure! Many young men and women are guilt-tripped into marrying rather than burning with lust (see I Corinthians 7). Many couples have allowed lust to bring them together. It will eventually fade. The Scripture says, “What GOD has joined together, let no man separate.” Be sure that the Lord has ordained your relationship.

Being called to vocational ministry isn’t easy. You don’t need the added stress of a spouse who creates constant drama for you. You may minister well to some degree, but your home won’t be a sanctuary. Another thing – the church will pick up on the marital discord and have a ton of fun with it. If you are single, you can choose now. You don’t have a marriage deadline before you turn into a pumpkin. Let God align your relationship. You’ll be glad He did.

Lessons About Open Doors

Over the years in my ministerial life, I have had lots of open doors. Those increased as I hit my late 20s. I have learned some valuable lessons about those open doors. I hope these will enlighten or ring true with you.

  1. Not every open door comes from God. Some are to tempt you. You may sacrifice your family because you take that opportunity for more money or notoriety. In the day of “climbing the corporate ladder”, many make this mistake and regret the losses because they outweigh the gains.
  2. You can’t force doors open. I can’t tell you how many times I have tried that, especially in recent days. God has put a vision in my heart, but I have tried to force the door open. My flesh can’t stand that God won’t put His stamp of approval on my timing. However, I’m not the only one who is waiting on God right now. God knows what is best for me, but I want to get ahead of Him. Can you relate?

The hardest thing to do is wait. Modern philosophy says, “God helps those who help themselves”, so you better do something to help Him out. God is not going to bless your laziness, but He also won’t bless your efforts to act on His behalf.

If you are waiting on an open door in some area of your life, trust your loving Heavenly Father who is preparing and protecting you. One day He will say this, “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name” (Revelation‬ ‭3:8‬ ‭NKJV‬‬). 

We Move On…They Don’t 

As I drove by the construction site for the Clemson NewSpring Church campus today, something occurred to me. It has only been a few weeks since the news came out about Perry Noble’s departure. He went public about his battle with alcoholism and checked himself into a treatment center. Many of us have moved on from that news, but Perry, his family, and many NewSpring members are still adjusting. We often move on, but they don’t. 

This is so common. A tragic death happens. While we move on, the lonely family grieves deeply. The man or woman who was blindsided by divorce tries to put the pieces of life back together, but everyone else has gotten over the shock and moved on.

In my job as hospice chaplain, I also serve as bereavement coordinator and follow up with many families after the patient’s death. Life goes on for most people, but the grieving process keeps going. I watch many people have to adjust to a new normal. 

How can we be intentional about ministering to the hurting and not forgetting them a few days afterward? What will it take for us to see beyond ourselves and minister to that hurting individual?

I type this to encourage sensitivity to those around you. A simple gesture to show you care can mean the world. Put a reminder in your phone to make a phone call, set up lunch, or drop by for a visit after work. It will be a while before they move on, so make a lasting memory they will cherish for years to come when they can look back and see God’s emotional healing in their life.

Blessings Focus

Yesterday, our hospice administrator posted something on Facebook about our sensitivity to those around us who are hurting rather than our own petty complaints. That post provoked some thoughts about some personal blessings.

I thank God that He sent His son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to provide salvation for me when I saw that I could not save myself.

I thank God for sending me a wonderful wife who has been a strong emotional supporter from the beginning. After a divorce, I feared what I could have married. God stepped in on this one for sure.

I thank God that I have a running car (or at least it will be up and running next week). That car was forced upon me in my separation, I’m upside down on it, but it works. I refuse to complain when some people have it much worse.

I thank God for wonderful coworkers. We laugh together and share the ups and downs of life together. I’m glad I can go there and perform a job with a team I dearly love.

I thank God for my children (those who are biological and those who came with my marriage). 

I thank God I have a job. Many do not. I thank God that my wife is employed also.

I thank God for friends. There are people who have walked with me through the darkest times of life and still love me. I’m blessed.

I thank God for a new church home with a pastor and people who care about me. 

I thank God that He is making a way in some areas I won’t share publicly, but He is at work.

I am blessed to be a blessing. So are you!!!! God did not put you here for you. Spread love, joy, peace, and the blessings He has poured out in your life. Don’t keep it to yourself.

Our Greatest Battle, Our Greatest Victory

Christian Articles

Understand that sometimes our greatest battle becomes our greatest victory.

“My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death” (Mt 26:38).

Often the place of our greatest pain becomes the place of our greatest triumph. Gethsemane was the place of Jesus’ greatest trial. Three times He asked the Father to let this trial pass. It was not to be. The Father sent His Son to the cross to pay all the debt owed by humanity of those who believed in Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

Jesus was faced with His own temptation to quit, to not fulfill His destiny, to run from his assignment. It was a personal battle to persevere. Sometimes we face situations that cry out “I quit! I cannot endure anymore!” We want to throw in our towel of what little faith we have left. “Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him” (Lk…

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When God Doesn’t Fix It

As many of you know, I’m pretty open with my readers about my thoughts and feelings. My prayer is that God will use them to help others. So many of us struggle. I don’t want this to be a complaint blog but an opportunity for someone to relate and find hope.

We are so prone to think that God has to fix everything. Somehow, we have this entitlement mentality that demands God to give us what we think we deserve. The sad part is we have such a higher view of ourselves than we should. We think we don’t deserve a thin bank account, a car that breaks down a lot, people who mistreat us, family problems, a house with lots of problems, personal health problems, etc. Jesus promised us in John 16:33 that we WILL have tribulation. I’m glad He didn’t stop there. He said, “Be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.” Hallelujah! Jesus is greater than our problems!

If we could somehow get a glimpse of Jesus through our problems, we would do okay. Our greatest problem is that we are so busy looking at ourselves. We miss the Victorious Savior who walks over top of our problems, showing us that He has this. It took a newfound pastor friend to remind me that we may royally screw things up, but God works through it. If we could focus on eternity rather than on the disintegrating things of this world, we might get a glimpse of the mind and heart of God.

What if God doesn’t fix your mess? He never promised He would. He promised grace to get you through it. He promised to develop our character and make us stronger. It is not our preferred method, but it’s the only way us hardheaded people would learn anything.

So what do we do? We fight life through. We press on. We get back up again, only to realize that God picked us up and carried us this far and He won’t stop now!

(This blog is not a commentary on Laura Story’s book but was inspired by it.)

Thoughts on the Presidential Election

As many of you know by now, I am a conservative. I make no bones about it. Do I love liberals? Yes! Do I agree with them? No! Can I be civil and lovingly disagree? Yes!

What I am noticing now more than ever is the fact that my ultra-conservative friends just can’t unite in regard to this election. Many are already throwing up their hands in surrender. I want to say a few things about this.

  1. We are not voting for a pastor; we are voting for a president. I have yet to see but maybe one candidate throughout history that is a strong Christian and is as narrowly conservative as some would like. I know that ultra-conservatives think that they have to always point out the error they see in everyone, but please look in the mirror first. As conservative as Dr. Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist in Dallas, TX is, he still endorsed the more conservative party’s nominee and stated the same point I made. You can find plenty of churches around with pastors who are as narrow as you. This country needs leadership, even if the candidate doesn’t dot his I’s and cross his t’s like you.
  2. We need our voice heard like never before. It’s not time to sit home and pout because your favorite candidate didn’t get the nomination. Don’t refuse to vote and then complain about the state of our country!
  3. It’s time for similarly minded people to unite, even if we don’t agree. I have seen this toxic mindset pour forth from the church. If the church of the Lord Jesus Christ can’t unite, why do we sit back and wonder about our country?

This country is at a crossroads, and the American people will choose its fate in November. Mark this truth down – only Jesus Christ can make America great again!!! God can use people, but the people of this nation must live as though Jesus is King. He is King! 

What are you going to do? Whine? Complain? What about pray? “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” (II Chronicles 7:14). 

Don’t Believe the Lie!

Today, we are bombarded by news of murders and hate crimes. It seems that, at every turn, we are hearing, seeing, or experiencing something negative that reminds us about the disintegration of our society. Many would say there is no hope. Don’t believe the lie! 

For quite a while now, some pastor friends on Facebook have posted about the revival going on in Burlington, NC. It just keeps going and going and going. These people are hungry for a move of God and are experiencing it. People are being saved, lives are being changed, and they can’t get enough. People are driving for miles because they’re hungry for it. I know that people are saying that revivals and tent meetings don’t work anymore and that people don’t have time for something like that. Do the bare minimum at your church to keep them interested – Don’t believe the lie!

God is up to something. He is just as capable now as He was years ago. We can still cry out to Him because He is still able to answer prayer and do “exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask or think”. He can still save the most “screwed up” people. When someone tries to tell you all the doom and gloom trumps the power of God, DON’T BELIEVE THE LIE! 

If I were preaching this right now, I would probably be slobbering all over a microphone. I believe this. My God can do anything. We spend a lot of time saying it, but do we really believe it? When the devil tries to convince you otherwise, be bold and refuse to believe the lie! 

It is high time that we as Christians get fired up about something. When evil starts prevailing around us, we need to get fired up and start loving people who are acting out of their own sinful nature. We need to get fired up enough to tell our friends, coworkers, and anyone who will listen about the One who is able to forgive all sin if we will call upon Him. The devil will say you’re not qualified, but don’t believe the lie! 

I know things are bad, but they’re not over. While we still have time, we must take advantage of the time we have left. When you’re tempted to believe you don’t have enough time to do what God has commanded you to do, DON’T BELIEVE THE LIE!

Not Now: A Tough Pill to Swallow

In a world of instant gratification, none of us want to hear the words “not now”. This generation is convinced that if we can’t get what we want when we want it, we must “help God out”. Have I been guilty of this? Yes!

When God put me on hiatus from vocational church ministry, it felt good for a little while. I have had 5 churches contact me about positions since that point, but He never released me to pursue them completely. Perplexing? Somewhat.

For those who have read my blogs for some time, you may be tired of reading about this subject. I can easily understand. Please hear me out because I want to aim at your heart with what God is trying to teach me (and I’m being a little slow about learning).

Countless people throughout history have experienced God say “not now”. God promised Abraham and Sarah a son named Isaac. The problem was that they didn’t want to wait. Sarah devises a plan for Abraham to have a baby with Hagar. The repercussions of that poor decision exist today. Joseph had a great life until his brothers sold him into slavery. He went through several things before he was promoted. Job went through immense suffering before God restored things back to him.

What is God up to in all of this? It is a season of preparation. Is there a set length of time for my season or your season of preparation? Unfortunately not. A pastor who is also taking some time away after a horrendous situation shared some wisdom with me recently. He told me to focus on being with Jesus during this season. Don’t focus on trying to impress a church to hire me. Don’t focus on trying to impress people with my abilities, wonder what I’m doing wrong, or what other people think because I’m not doing what I used to do. The devil loves to use these things to distract us from what God is doing. 

Jesus told His disciples in Mark 3 to be with Him before they ever went out to minister. What do most of us ministers do? We fall back on our preparation, study, skill, personality, and anything but our personal, daily walk with the Lord.

So, what are you going to do when God says “not now”? Are you going to pout? Wander away from God? Give up on the church? Our response reflects our level of maturity in Christ. Our best response would be to trust that God knows best and knows what we need when we need it.

Let the Lord embrace you during this time. Take time to be still and know that He is God. Pour your love on Him. Just as your earthly parents delayed certain things for your good, your Heavenly Father does the same because He loves you.