What Are We Going to Do?

Work in progress

Have you ever said or acted in a way contrary to your stated convictions?

Have you ever, at any time in the past or maybe even in the present, behaved in a way that was or is contrary to godliness or living Christ-like?

Have you ever become caught up in a group conversation and spoke what you should not have?

Have you ever tried to cover-up your mistakes, sins, or crimes against God or man?

Welcome to the club! Get in line right behind me. Just save a place for the rest of the sinners like me including those running for President.

If you watch American political news, are around other people in the US for more than five minutes, or have any type of social media account, then you know how sinfully terrible (maybe that should read “terribly sinful”) the other party’s candidate is – even those candidates from the parties that the media seems to ignore. How could you vote for ____________?! Don’t you know what they have done?! Did you see the video?! Did you hear the recording?! How can you support someone like that?! NOTE: I am not proud of any of our nominees.  I did not cast my vote for any of them. I am not even proud of the way the one I voted for in the primaries has handled himself since then.

Believe me when I say that the reason quality people do not run is that they are painfully aware of the skeletons in their closet that they want to keep there. If they do not have skeletons, well . . .  never-mind, we all have skeletons. There was only one perfect individual and even He had people accuse Him of all sorts of criminal and nationally subversive activities. He was, after all, a leader of splinter cell group of 12 other tight nit followers and multitudes of others who hung on His every word. He was dangerous! Let Him live and He would have changed the world. (Oh, yeah, they put Him to death and He changed the world anyway.)

Back to you and me and our  – ummmm – problem. “You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things.” (Rom 2:1 NLT). I am not perfect. I am a sinner with a past.

Do Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, and Darrell Castle have sinful behaviors in their past and present? YES! Am I highly disappointed and disillusioned by what they all have done or said? Definitely. Can these things be a hindrance to their performance as the President of the United States? Likely. Can we get a do-over on the nomination process? I wish! But who would we get?  Whomever those nominees might be would probably be more of the same; they would be sinners with a past and a present.

What are we to do?

I will answer that indefinite question with a few answers because I am not sure what you are asking.

  1. What am I to do about my sin (what are you to do about your sin)? Find forgiveness at the cross and the shed blood of the Savior Jesus the Christ.  He came into the world not to condemn, but to save. (John 3:17). Clothe yourself with Christ (Gal 3:26-27),  give up the guilt, and let God’s Grace teach you how to live godly lives (Titus 2:11-14).
  2. What are we do to about the sins of our potential President? Lead them to forgiveness in Christ, if we have the opportunity. Pray that someone does. Pray for them to humble themselves before and submit themselves to God. (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
  3. What are we to do about our choice in the voting booth? Remember that ourgovernment-of-the-people-by-the-people-for-the-people-shall-not-perish-from-the-earth government is not a one man or one woman show. We have three branches of government: 1. Executive (President), 2. Legislative (Congress), and 3. Judicial (Supreme Court) that work in a system of checks and balances with the goal of keeping our nation on track. Remember that they each answer to the true government – the people of this nation (Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed – Declaration of Independence). We must hold them accountable.
  4. What are we to do about the juxtaposition we are in? We as a nation created the mess we are in over time. We will have to take time to correct what our apathy created. Before and on November 8, 2016 look deeper than the individual and look to the party platform (core beliefs) then vote the one that best aligns with your values. Look at the fact that the next President will appoint and the next legislators will approve at least one if not more Supreme Court Justices. Vote according to whom they will likely seat.

Personally speaking, I am ready for this election to be over and the dust settled. Then we can begin picking who will run in 2020. Maybe by then we can have a renewed and restored vision for our nation.




A Start to the Week

Will you join me in prayer?


God our Father,

In our world, wars begin and wars end.

In our world, economies strengthen and economies weaken.

In our nation, Presidents come and go.

In our nation, laws change with the passing of time.

In our world, what is “in” today is “out” tomorrow.

In our world, good is becoming evil and evil is becoming good.

But You, O Lord are steadfast; unchanging.

Help us to depend on You.

In Jesus’ name,

Be Happy and Smile

smilie_800According to Facebook, today is World Smile Day.  So . . .  SMILE!

There doesn’t that feel good on your face?  It looks good! You should keep it there.

Below is an article fro January 2010 about happiness.  I share it again to make you smile.

Happiness has less to do with what we have or accomplish and more to do with what we value.   In the July 2008 Reader’s Digest, Arthur Brooks’ article “Why We’re Happy” explains as  Mr. Brooks states, “I had always thought that marching to the beat of my own drummer and making my own values as I went along were the right things to do, and that traditional values, to put it bluntly, were for” the gullible. “Turns out I was in for some surprises.”[1]

It seems Mr. Brooks reviewed the results of hundreds of surveys of thousands of people across the land to find out what characteristics most people felt made them happy.  Here are the happiness predictors he says we can learn from these surveys:

 Happiness Predictor 1: Faith

Faith is a common value connecting happy those surveyed.  Almost 85% of respondants identify with some type of religious group and those who attend worship regularly were happier than those who rarely or never attend worship.

Happiness Predictor 2: Work

Most Americans indicated that even if they were to suddenly become wealthy, they would still continue to work.  Why?  Most people really do like their jobs.  Almost 95% of people who were happy in their lives were also happy in their jobs.  While this certainly is not true for every person, working does seem to bring about some satisfaction in people’s lives.

Happiness Predictor 3: Marriage and Family

Almost half of married adults report that they are very happy compared with less that one fourth of never married adults.  Evidently family is as characteristic of a lifestyle of happiness that includes religion and marriage.

Happiness Predictor 4:  Charity

According to the article, “People who give money to charity are 43% more likely than non-givers to say they’re very happy. Volunteers are 42% more likely to be very happy than non-volunteers.”

Happiness Predictor 5: Freedom

This is a more complicated characteristic.  While economic, political, and religious freedoms bring people much happiness, having no constraints on moral freedoms does not.  The article states that, “People who feel they have unlimited moral choices in their lives when it comes to matters of sex or drugs, for example, tend to be unhappier than those who do not feel they have so many choices in life.”[2]

The article concludes by reminding us values – not things – matter most.

Isn’t this what God has revealed to us through His word?  Faith in God, service to Him, and fellowship with the saints will bring happiness.  Being productive in our work and home life will bring happiness.  Giving to others and doing for others will bring happiness. Having freedom, but freedom within the guidelines God has set for us, will bring happiness.

As a matter of reference, the Preacher, son of David, spent years trying different things that purported to bring happiness.  He begins saying, “Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity” (Eccl 1:2 – ESV). He concludes ten chapters later saying, “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Eccl 12:13- ESV). We would do well to read what God revealed about happiness long, long ago.

Well?  What makes you happy?


A fan video of Uncle Kracker’s song “You Make Me Smile.”


“Gracias, Dios”

20Gracias, Dios; Thank You, Lord

This morning as I drove through the early light of the day the sun was only just breaking the horizon in the east. I drove with for a little while with the windows in my truck rolled down. I felt he crisp air that promises the arrival of cooler temperatures in days to come. Thank You, God for another day and the changing of the seasons.

Yesterday, I walked outside the house and listened to the sounds around me; neighborhood dogs barking, lawnmowers and leaf blowers humming, the sound of traffic on the highway, a siren in the background – I stopped to pray for the unknown emergency – I heard the rustle of branches and a bird moved through a tree, and I heard that bird sing. I watched a wasp searching for a home. Thank You, Lord for the nature around me, for my neighbors, and the tools of our lives.

I texted with Andrew, our son; our only child, this week. I am grateful for the good choices he is making. I am thankful for the young man that he is. I have a loving and supportive wife in Amy. I am not exaggerating when I say, I could not and would not be who I am without her. She is the reason for the best in me. I am grateful for her, her love and support. Thank You, God for my immediate family.

Family. There is a larger family around me. My parents, my brothers (for the time we had with Charles) and their wives, my nieces and nephews along with their spouses and children (those who are married), Amy’s parents, Amy’s sister and family are all a blessing. We are blessed to be able to spend time with them through out the year. Each one of these people brings joy to my life. Thank You, God for my extended family.

There is another family. The family that carries Your name, Lord. My brothers and sisters in Christ. They are scattered in many assemblies, Tidwell Chapel, Double Springs, Midway, Sixth Avenue, Niceville, Bay Minette, Calhoun, West Hill (Gateway), Leonard Street, Parrish, and Central are just a few of the congregations that mean so much to me. Some are from when I was young, some are from my college years, some are from Amy’s youth, some are places that repeatedly invite me to be with them, and some are places where I served along side of them in God’s kingdom. Each is a part of who I am. Each is a part of my spiritual family. Thank You, God for these wonderful Christian brothers and sisters.

My life is not perfect. Problems, hardships, and heartaches occur. Storms come. Disease and death knock on our doors and spend time with our families. But God is faithful. He walks with me through the tough times and are there to comfort me when I am down. Thank You, Lord for sustaining me.

I am not perfect. I fail to live up to the standard set before me. I speak when I should listen, run when I should walk with caution, sit when I should stand, and hold my tongue when I should defend the Faith. I give in to selfish behaviors and put myself in God’s place. But God is good; He is Love; He forgives through Christ whom death could not defeat and the grave could not hold. Thank You, God for His sacrifice, for His sinless blood than cleanses the fallen. Thank You, Lord for Grace!

The radio show hosts this morning ask what one thing I WOULD NOT change about my life. I cannot narrow the blessings You give to just one. Thank You, Lord.


An Open Letter to Christians in Alabama

Friends and neighbors in my state,

Our Governor, who promised early in his campaigning to not support a lottery andgambling-is-the-result-of-post-modern-pessimism-the-hopelessness-of-practical-atheism-that-says-there-is-no-god-no-hope-no-future-no-reason-no-rationality-just-luck has until recently opposed gambling in our state, has turned coat on his constituency. He wants to establish an advisory council to study gambling and specifically the efficacy of a lottery in Alabama. This change make him appear to be acquiescing to pressures from lobbyists and special interest groups.

Thankfully, he still wants to hear the voice of the people. So I am writing to you, Christian to Christian. I am asking those of us who are followers of Jesus as Christ to consider what I have to say. Please, consider my thoughts and what we can do about gambling in our state.

God’s Word has something to say:

Isaiah 65:11-12, But you who forsake the LORD, who forget my holy mountain, who set a table for Fortune and fill cups of mixed wine for Destiny, I will destine you to the sword, and all of you shall bow down to the slaughter, because, when I called, you did not answer; when I spoke, you did not listen, but you did what was evil in my eyes and chose what I did not delight in.”

Fortune and Destiny were gods, idols of nations in Isaiah’s day. Fortune was “gad” or good luck and Destiny was “meni” or bad luck. We need to understand that faith in luck is not faith in God. Luck or chance seems to be the basis of atheistic evolution that teaches is so many words that we are fortunate to be here because a primordial soup. According to this popular theory, our existence is by chance everything just happened to work out. “Egad!”

The gods of fortune and destiny are the idols of lotteries or gambling in all its forms. In this way, gambling shows a discontent that opposes joy in Christ. Gambling says, God is not enough and I must play the odds to get rich quick. Gambling communicates that I do not trust God to fill my needs, when He promises over and over again that He can supply all our needs (Phi 4:11-19).

Gambling at its core is wanting what belongs to others.  We do not gamble to give; we gamble to get. No matter how a lottery or bingo is sold, they are not profitable because they give. They have a profit because those that play lotteries and frequent casinos want to get what they do not earn. Gambling, even when some of the proceeds go to charity, profits off other’s losses. Legalized gambling becomes legalized theft. Scripture uses a word to convey the idea of wanting what others have – covetousness. A sin God warned about in both the Old and New Covenants. The apostle Paul puts covetousness in the same bag as sexual immorality, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. (Col 3:5).

Notice that we come back to where we started. Gambling is covetousness, covetousness is idolatry. Gambling is a plea to the idols of gad and meni – fortune and destiny – good and bad luck.

Christians, we must stand against any form of gambling in our states and nation. If we lose the fight against it, I plead with you not to fall prey to the temptation to gamble. It is not worth the risk of your eternal soul.






Going Home

I made a few extra trips home this summer because of Charles’ battle with a malignant 11679_577499380780_199773113_nbrain tumor, his death, and funeral. We wanted to spend as much time with family and at home as we could. We hoped for more time and were planning our next big family get together when Charles took his final trip to the hospital. I thought a lot about these trip and especially Charles as I prepared a lesson at Central about Going Home.


Even though my parents do not live in the house they raised us in, their house is still home.  I suppose every healthy family feels the same.

Home – Going Home.

There is something wonderfully sweet about thoughts of home. Maybe the people, maybe the food, maybe the history or stories, maybe because most of us feel that “home” is where we belong.

Going Home.

That was the title of the lesson for our LIFE Groups and our Sunday evening message yesterday. The video below is the lesson I posted for the LIFE Groups to use:


Home! Are you preparing for an Eternal Home with God?


We Need to Talk

Anytime I hear these words I panic a little.  My heart rate increases, my blood pressure 2016-04-25 07-15-44.941elevates, my forehead and palms start perspiring some, I have to loosen my collar, and take a deep breathe then release a sigh.

The words, “we need to talk” almost always mean bad news. Am I in trouble? Have I done something wrong? Have I hurt someone’s feelings? Is someone about to hurt my feelings? Am I about to get bad news about a friend or a loved one?

So when I title this post, “We Need to Talk,” I think I know what you are feeling.

Before we talk, let me offer my credentials. I am not sharing them to be braggadocios, but so that you know where I am coming from and why I think I have the right to say, “we need to talk.”

My experience in ministry spans approximately 30 years. That includes two internships in the first 3 years and starting fulltime in ministry in May of 1989. My internships were in NW Georgia and South Alabama. The last twenty-seven (27) years I spent serving in fulltime in three (3) congregations. I served ten years in NW Florida (5 as a youth minster and 5 as preaching minister in the same congregation). Following that I served in NW Alabama for fifteen years, and in May 2014 I moved to Central Alabama where I am now. In all of this time I have noticed some things, some tendencies we have as Christians.

We need to talk.

Brothers and sisters, we need to shift our focus. We are becoming increasingly worldly.  I see it in the what we choose to fill our time. We allow concerts, spectator sports, recreational sports, youth sports, and physical fitness temples gyms to overtake our schedules.  We are making time for these events while neglecting others. No one can create more time in our day. We have twenty-four hours and that is all.  We either take time for these events away from work, school, sleep, family, or God.  Many of us are taking that time away from God.

Time away from God.  I am not talking about missing assemblies or small groups. Although some do skip, others are not skipping out but are neglecting God in their lives. We are using worship assemblies, small groups, and special events to soothe our guilt for not spending time with God in private (family) study and prayer. We are not taking up our cross daily and living each moment for God.

Now is the time to change!

We need to talk – no! We need to get busy living daily for God.

Please allow me to offer some suggestions, advice I am taking to heart to improve my daily walk with God.

  • Start each day with prayer.  My prayer includes a promise that I will live this day for Christ and not for self. I ask God for help to keep this promise.
  • Take time in the morning to read a short passage or two and maybe a good spiritual blog post.
  • Take time at lunch (or if you are an overachiever and go to the gym instead of eating lunch – take time in the locker room) to pray again. Not just for the food or for an injury free workout, but over the way the morning unfolded, for the afternoon ahead, for family and Christians in your life, and for government and our leaders.
  • If your job provides a break, take time to read another passage or article and pray some more.
  • Keep your eyes open for opportunities to serve in the name of Christ. It maybe praying with someone who needs a friend. It may just be listening to someone who is hurting or excited. You may discover a small need you can meet or a larger need you can bring to other’s attention so they can help.
  • Think about the influence you have for Christ. Let that thought affect the things you talk about. Let that knowledge impact the way you respond or react when things do not go your way. Consider how your choice of clothing impacts those around you, in other words do not dress to draw attention to your self, but dress modestly and appropriately. (Recently, I had a couple of events one day. The second event later in the day required a suit. I attended an early breakfast in that suit and I stood out. To other’s it looked like I was trying to impress the hosts. In reality, I was too lazy to change, but my suit gave off a wrong impression. My point is that dressing to be seen can be too much or too little clothing.)

I think the words of the apostle Paul have application, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Phi 4:8).

Not everything is bad in Christianity.  I see more and more people focusing on reaching out to others and into the community at large. I read more and more from Christians who are increasingly spiritually focused. I am having more conversations away from the “church building” about spiritual things than I have in the past. The current generation of young adults are and want to be spiritual. They want Christianity to impact their daily lives.  I am glad. Christian living is, was, and as long as life lasts will always be essential to our daily lives. But only if we let Christ be our daily life.

Thank you for listening.




That was Close

“That was close, a little too close.” Those were my thoughts that afternoon. What if theypersecution had chosen me?

The summers of my teen years a number of congregations in the Pensacola area helped sponsor the annual Southeastern Soul Saving Workshop on the campus of the University of West Florida.  The part of the workshop specifically for teens travelled to Gateway Church of Christ for special speakers and classes.  Three hundred plus teens assembled and learned from like “Cool Joe” Beam, Larry Sawyer, and Dick Webber.  These men and others would challenge us to live up to what we began in Christ.  We would sing “new” youth songs which are now the “old” classics, and we would attend “break-out” classes.  One of those classes at Gateway stands out in my mind.

I do not remember the year.  I think it was 1983, because I vaguely remember driving there.  When we arrived, the registrars directed us to choose a colored sticker to go on our name tags,  these stickers would determine what classes we would attend and when.  One of the classes I chose was a class that promised an experience of 1st Century worship.  This class choice came with instructions for finding the classroom.  We were told to look for certain colored marks (stickers) on the walls, doorways, and posts.  These marks would direct us to a secret location where our class would meet.  We were told to tell no one where we were going and to be sure we avoided the men wearing read bandannas on their sleeves making did not follow us.  This class was already fun and we were not even there yet.

When my friend(s) and I finally made it to the class room, we quickly realized we were in a large storage closet along with about twenty other teens and adults.  The lights in the room were battery powered lanterns.  The teacher spoke in soft tones so that those outside the room could not hear what he was saying.  The teacher welcomed us, made sure we were not followed, and then he told us the history of the struggles of early Christians meeting in secret locations, such as private homes or catacombs for fear of death.  Then we began a worship assembly beginning with singing.  At first we all sang softly, but as we continued to sing (our voices blending in harmonies) our volume became louder.  Soon we forgot we were hiding.  That was when the door burst open and three men came in with red bandannas on their sleeves and carrying plastic (toy) machine guns.

The three “soldiers” were yelling threats, making accusations that we were violating the law by assembling here.  One of them pointed his toy gun at the girl sitting next to me, as he did he asked her in threatening tones, “Are you a Christian?”

Tears, streaming down her cheeks, she replied, “No! I just came with a friend.”  The room became deathly silent, she had spoken up earlier about her love for Jesus. Now she denied Him. As she did, we all began asking ourselves the same question, “Would I have said, ‘Yes’?”

It was just pretend or was it?


A Midweek Prayer


Dear Father, Creator, Sustainer, and Savior,

You are greater to me than I deserve. You provide blessings immeasurable. My words fail to express my gratitude.

Thank You for Grace. Thank You for the Grace that sent Christ to this world to die for my sin. Thank You too for access to forgiveness that His blood provides. Thank You for washing the sins of my past away.

But I still fail.  I know I let You down.  I return to selfish thoughts and actions. I know that You are in a battle with me for me and God, I want You to be victorious. Fight with and against the idol of me that misleads me. Thank You for Your gracious forgiveness when I fail.

Today as I attend a graveside service for a Brother in Christ, and as I reflect on my life, help me to remember that You are my life. You are the reason for my life. You are the Designer of all that I see and know. You are the Creator of my spirit. Help me to live my life for You in Christ.

In Jesus name . . .

Let Me Tell You A Story

I love stories.  One of my favorite memories as a child is my parents’ reading me bedtime IMG_1173stories. Some of my favorites were “Sam and the Firefly,” “The Firecat,” “Green Eggs and Ham,” and “The Bike Lesson.” I can hear my mom’s soft voice and my dad trying to do voices.

If you are not familiar with these books; well, bless your heart.

One of the reasons, I preach has to do with my love for stories.  The Bible is full of great stories. Some of them are also among my favorites: Noah, Isaac and Esau, Moses, The young boy Samuel, the many adventures of David, Solomon’s early years, Elijah at Mt Carmel, Balaam and the donkey,  many accounts in the life of Jesus, as well as the stories of people following Jesus and turning to His way. I can hear my parent’s reading those stories. There was a slight difference when they read these stories. Something in their tone let me know these were more than fairy tales and fiction. Early in my life, I saw that these stories had an impact on my parents.

On to the story.

As he walked about the capital city, he saw people tipping the scales, so to speak, in their direction. Always trying to cheat the system. Customers would negotiate for the lowest price, store owners would inflate prices and rig the scales. Everyone yelled and everyone felt cheated.

Men and women alike were looking for companionship for the night, not concerned about tomorrow. The addicts filled the streets, their temporary fixes, were . . . well, just that  . . . temporary. Homeless and hungry people begged for handouts – they preferred cash, but would take food. Had selfishness lead people to this?

“No,” he said to himself. These people had abandoned law and order. They were neglecting the constitution that gave true life to his country. Their downfall was self-reliance and not reliance on the Godly morality passed down from The Forefathers. He was proud that he was one of the few conservatives who followed the principles laid down by those who established this great nation.

These poor people were not the greatest threat. There was a new, radical ideology emerging. A claim that his teachers at law school were wrong about how they interpreted the National Constitution. Just a few years ago lawyers like him lead an effort to end this ideology. They had the spokesman arrested, accused of treason, sentenced, and permanently silenced. They hoped this would end this subversive movement. But others picked up where he left off and the message was spreading.

He watched firsthand as violence escalated against one advocate of this new movement, this new way of looking at life. The violence reached a fever pitch and resulted in the death of the radical. He heard what the man said, and he was as angry as the mob. He approved of their actions. This radicalism had to stop! Such teaching would ruin his country.

A fire burned in him. He wanted to do all he could to stop the spread of this dangerous message. He applied for a governmental position that would allow him to help end this . . . rebellion. That’s what it he would call it. Rebellion against the Forefathers, rebellion against the law, and the worst crime of all rebellion against God who established this nation as He guided the Forefathers.

Saul had letters from the chief leaders to travel to Damascus and arrest and put to death those that followed the Way (of Jesus the so-called Christ). While he journeyed something strange occurred. He met Jesus – literally and supernaturally. He came face to face with the Christ. After this encounter he traveled on to Damascus, blinded by the experience. There he spent time in prayer. He realized how wrong his choices were to that point. He was no different that those living for themselves. He was doing the same thing.

A preacher named Ananias visited Saul three days later. Ananias told him more about this Jesus. Saul tells the story better that I do:

“And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, came to me, and standing by me said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that very hour I received my sight and saw him. And he said, ‘The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from his mouth; for you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard. And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’ “(Act 22:12-16)

Life changed for Saul. Life was not always easier, in truth life was sometimes difficult, very difficult. But for Saul, whom many called Paul, life was better. Better because he knew the One he believed and this persuaded him that the Christ would keep His end of the promise to keep and provide for him. No more living for self. No more hurting others. No more hate. Only love.

What is your story?

Are you living for self?

There was a time when I did. But no more. My life is for God. Christ is my life. I live by God’s Spirit and not my own flesh. I am not perfect, I still fall back into old habits in moments of weakness, but by Grace God forgives.