Psalm 88:1-3 (ESV)
O Lord, God of my salvation,
I cry out day and night before you.
2 Let my prayer come before you;
incline your ear to my cry!
3 For my soul is full of troubles,
and my life draws near to Sheol.

If my memory is correct, today marks 3 months since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the US. I believe it was a gentleman who had been in China, maybe even Wuhan Province, and returned to the US. At that time, it was basically a Chinese problem. Since that time, we have found ourselves confined to our homes, wearing masks and gloves, our restaurants are now take-out only, our stores are limited to essential business only and our churches find their pews empty and (hopefully) their parking lots full. We have become an imprisoned (I use that term only to mean confined and for the purpose of contrast) people living in a free nation. We have become a nation of beautiful church buildings but we are now a church of street preachers and techno-evangelists. Everything has changed.

It is at this time that I would like to draw your attention to Psalm 88. Whatever the Psalmist may have been facing at that time, one thing is for certain, it was not what he had expected his life to be like at that time. In his time of uncertainty, even despair, he cried out to the Lord. I think today may be a great time for us to “cry out day and night” to the God of our salvation. I already know what you are thinking. You are thinking “I have been praying since the very beginning.” I can assure you, I know how you feel. In fact, you may be feeling like the psalmist when, in Psalm 22:2, he says, “O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.” Sometimes when we feel overwhelmed it becomes easy to believe that God is not listening. We pray and things keep getting worse, not better.

I remind you of the parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18. There, Jesus says “And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them?” Rest assured that God hears our cry and He will respond. His timing is perfect for His purposes. We must trust Him.

I would encourage you to read the post “Becoming Thankful” below for additional encouragement.

Ephesians 3:20-21
20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Take time to cry out to Lord, day and night.  Set aside a time and designate it for prayer and let nothing interrupt or disrupt that time.

Becoming Thankful

Posted: January 9, 2019 in Uncategorized

give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18, ESV)

There are some verses in scripture that are just hard to digest at first.  This may be one of them if you do not read it carefully.  You may think, “Wait, is God saying I should be thankful for my accident (my cancer, my divorce, my whatever you may be facing)?”  That would make this a difficult verse to understand.

God is not commanding (and this is God’s command, not just a suggestion by the author of this letter) us to give thanks for all circumstances.  That would be crazy.  When my house burned and I lost nearly everything I owned in 1992, I didn’t thank God for the fire and for taking everything away from me.  However, I learned to be thankful even in the tough times.  In 1992 I wasn’t at this point in my faith.  I was angry at God and what “He had done.”  However, I have learned over the years of reflection just how God was there even as my house was burning.  My oldest son, Joshua, was 2 at the time.  He had been sick and had been placed in our bed so that he was with us instead of at the other end of a mobile home, where he surely would not have made it out alive.  We were renting from a family member and did not have renters’ insurance.  However, my cousin’s homeowner policy had a provision that neither of knew about that covered a limited amount of “family property.”  Wow!  God had shown up in big ways and I missed it.  Despite His goodness, because I had not learned to give thanks in all circumstances, I became bitter and angry.

I don’t know what you are facing today.  Chances are it is not as drastic as losing your home and everything you own.  However, whatever it is I am sure it is as significant to you as that was to me.  Learning to give thanks in all circumstances will not change the circumstances, but it will change you.  It will give you peace because it means you have learned to trust God.  It means that you come to trust what we say we know:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28, ESV)

Do you trust Him in all circumstances today?

Worry Free 2019

Posted: January 2, 2019 in Uncategorized

Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6, CSB)

Will the stock market crash or soar? Will there be another terrorist attack on American soil? Will there be another natural disaster? Life can be full of worry. Will I do well on my finals and get into that great college? Will that special person reject me? Will I ever get married? Will we have kids? Will someone I love die this year? Wow! There is a lot of uncertainty in our lives.

Satan loves to distract us from what God is doing by getting us to worry about things in the hopes that our worrying will somehow help change the future. Not a moment of worrying will change anything in the future, but it will help to expose a potential flaw in our Christian character that we can work on in 2019. When I am worrying, I am forgetting that God is in control. When I am worrying, I am denying something I say I believe, that if I trust God he will work everything out  for my good. (“We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28, CSB)

This doesn’t mean that we are “concern free.” It means that we should have a healthy concern over things in our lives, but we will trust God to help us take care of those things. “…in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving…” God wants us to be concerned, because in our concern we will turn to Him for conversation and help. God already knows our concerns, but He wants us to talk with Him about them. Let 2019 be the year that you become “worry free” and walk in the freedom of trusting Him. Pray through all the troubles and trials we know we will face so that we may have His peace. Jesus tells us “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.”” (John 16:33, CSB)

God bless and Happy New Year!


He Is Able

Posted: April 28, 2017 in Uncategorized

Easter Sunday was an awesome service for the church I pastor, East Sanford Baptist Church.  No, it wasn’t because of me, but because God reminded us that He “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (NKJV).  If you were there, you would have heard about a lady who had been given no hope in her battle against cancer.  Her husband shared their story of struggle, strength and prayer.  He told of her last PET Scan and that the doctors had informed them that her cancer was gone.  It was indeed a great moment of miraculous proportion.  One would think that nothing could be greater, and for them, that probably was the case.

However, what struck me must about that awesome service was the lady who was sitting in the third row.  Like the first, she has a story of struggle, strength and prayer.  She has battled cancer before and won, temporarily.  Now, she is battling again.  This time, she has chosen not to undergo any treatments.  Back in November, when we had our delayed Homecoming service (a hurricane kind of altered our original schedule in October), she raised her hand in praise and thank God for just being there.  She had been given until October, and there she sat in November.  Fast forward to Easter.  There she sits, singing and praising God, looking as healthy and happy as she ever has.

Two different stories, one great God.  We often celebrate the miraculous healings and the unimaginable outcomes as the work of God, and they are, and we should celebrate.  However, what gives me the greatest peace is not when He gives complete healing, or He moves the mountain or stops the storm.  What gives me the greatest hope and peace is when I can see Him at work in the fights, storms and hardships of our life.  It reminds me of what Paul say, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’.”  While I always pray for healing and for God to remove mountains and stop storms, I can have confidence that even if He does not, His grace is sufficient and He is still able to exceedingly abundantly more than I could ever imagine.

I thank both of these ladies for living their lives out before our church, letting us see their struggles and their strength.  Because of them, I am ever more confident in Jesus Christ, my strength and comforter.

Why I am voting in this election

Posted: November 1, 2016 in Uncategorized

One week from today America will have chosen a new president. Many have posted of the horrors of both a Clinton or Trump presidency. I understand. Many of my pastoral friends have suggested they understood the dangers of a Clinton presidency but would not vote for Trump either, because voting for the “lesser of two evils is still voting for evil.” That is true, and I agree. However, a popular vote has been cast for a perfect man only once, and in unison they cried out “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” The only vote cast for a perfect man was not to elect Him leader, but to get rid of Him. Prior to that vote and every vote since, we have chosen between the lesser of two evils. Never has there been a perfect candidate, and we should remember, never has there been a perfect voter. We vote for the lesser of two evils because we are a fallen people in a fallen world.

So, I will be voting in this year’s election. I will be voting in light of 1 Timothy 2:1-2 “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people — for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” I have heard people make the argument that voting in light of the Supreme Court appointments or to lessen persecution of the church is for weak Christians. Some have suggested we want the government to make things easy for us. In light of 1 Timothy, I would suggest that is what we should be pursuing. We are to pray for and seek “peaceful and quiet lives” in our communities. In this country we have the privilege of choosing those in authority, not just praying for them. We should choose those who will make our lives most peaceful and quiet.

I will vote in light of Mark 12:17 “And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marveled at him.” Though I am a citizen of the Kingdom of God and all things are His, some things also belong to our life as citizens of a country. Those who “will not vote for the lesser of two evils” because they are citizens of His Kingdom still pay taxes to those committing that evil, those by their own standards are active participants in the evil. I am a citizen here as well as in His Kingdom. I have an obligation to prefer the better each time, in the hopes of preventing greater evil being done with money I provide (through taxes). It is not enough for me to withdraw from the process of choosing those in authority if I am going to turn around and support them financially in whatever evil they do. If withdrawing from the process is the answer for you, stop paying taxes. Obviously, none of us are going to do that, so, we should choose who is spending that money that we are going to send to those in authority.

So, I am voting. I am voting for Donald Trump, not because I believe that he is the answer to all of our problems, not because I support or endorse everything he says or does, not because I believe that he would be great for America or even good for America. I am voting for Donald Trump because he is the lesser of two evils, because his America will allow a more “peaceful and quiet” life for me in my Christian walk. I am voting for him because his Supreme Court appointments will mean a more “peaceful and quiet” Christian life for me than Hillary’s. I voting for him because in this nation I have the privilege of voting, of attempting to influence the direction of our nation, so I will not stand by and let it take a direction that is more dangerous. I once ran my Mustang off the road. It was going to be a wreck, there was no way to avoid it. I didn’t take my hands off the wheel and say, “Oh well, Lord, it is all up to you.” He gave me eyes to see and hands to steer, so I steered into the ditch rather than the woods. Yes, it damaged my car and required a tow, but it didn’t destroy the car. I chose a direction and accepted that it wasn’t the best option, but it was much better than the only other option at the time.

Christian, I encourage you to vote.

Unto Him be glory

Posted: April 18, 2015 in Uncategorized

What is the purpose of church?  Why do we even bother?  The music has changed, the people aren’t what they used to be, it is just not the same!  The preacher is too young or too old; he doesn’t know what he is doing or he tries to control everything!  There is nothing there for me or for my age group of for my children, etc.

These are some of the complaints we hear (or use) when discussing church.  Maybe you have used one or two of them yourself.  So, what is the problem with stating the “problem” with church?  Each of these complaints make church into something that is designed for us – for me.  Each of the statements above may be true for you, but each of them is based on YOU being the focus of church.  May I share a little secret with you?  Church is not about you!  No, it is not about me, either, even as pastor.  It is solely about Him.  Paul writes “unto Him be glory,” not unto me or you.

Why do I go to church?  Because it is where I find Him among HIs people.  Why do I go to church?  Because it is where I can lift His name above all other names with others who are lifting Him up as well.  Why do I go to church?  Because it is where He says that He will be glorified (Ephesians 3:21).  The church is where I go because He says He will be glorified in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations.

What about you?  Where will you be this weekend and what will you be doing?  There will be those who will stay at home, but declare they are just as much a Christian as everyone else.  There will be those who go to church, but only for what the get out of it, not for Him to be glorified in it.  A right attitude and understanding of worship requires me to forget about me and focus on Him.

Pray that God will be glorified in and through your church this weekend.  Then, go and make it happen.

150 years ago this weekend, a great battle took place just down the road from here. It was a place called Bentonville, now known as Bentonville Battlefield. Two sides met in a fierce conflict that would be the final conflict and lead to the ultimate surrender and end of a great war.

Some would classify one side or the other as good or evil. In fact, for some, the battle still hasn’t ended. They fight it in their minds and traditions and attitudes daily, despite the fact that no matter what they do, say or think, they will never change the outcome.

In fact, this afternoon, there will be yet another re-enactment of that battle, another playing it over again. Even if in the make believe world of that re-enactment, by some “miracle” the south were to win, it would not change the final outcome – for that battle has already been fought and that war has already been won. As a result of that “victory” the chains of slavery would fall silent across this great land. People who had been captive for their whole lives would now be free. For those freed slaves, the battle was well worth it, and in many cases, they had done nothing for the fight.

It would have been around the year 30AD that another battle was being fought, another war coming to an end. The sides were fierce enemies and each had its mighty weapons. On that day, though, a final battle was won that would free slaves of a different kind. These slaves, like many in the southern states of the Confederacy, did not really participate in the battle. Oh, yes, the battle was fought for them, but not by them.

In this battle there were easily identifiable sides of good and evil, or God and Satan. The battle was not fought over a vast field or community, but rather on a hillside, on a plot of land just a few hundred yards by a few hundred yards. This battle did not leave thousands lying wounded or dead, but all of mankind, past, present and future, either living abundantly or dead spiritually. This battle was not about the shape of a country for the next 150 years, nor 300 or 500 years, but about the shape of a soul for all of eternity.

At Bentonville, great generals challenged and called upon their men to defend and die for the cause. At Calvary, Christ challenged great men and women of faith to stand up, defend and live for their way of life. At Bentonville, it might be said that many men died for the cause of a greater number, either the US or the Confederacy. At Calvary, it is said that one man died for all – or maybe even just one. At Calvary, Christ died for me.

What we can learn from Bentonville this weekend – that there really is no need to refight an already won battle. What we must learn from the cross of Calvary – that there really is no need to refight an already won battle. Stop trying to fight the battle of your life over and over. Rest in the victory that has already been won. You have been freed and the chains of slavery loosened for all eternity. Claim the prize.

The arena of worship!

Posted: February 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

Written March 2012 during the ACC Tournament: Tonight in North Carolina there are two sports arenas filled. One worshipping entertainment and sports, the other worshipping the one true God. Sixteen of us from East Sanford are at the RBC Center listening to Matthew West, Lindsay McCaul, Royal Taylor and Casting Crowns. We can choose to bow down at the altar of the world, or we can choose to worship the one true God. Tonight, the choice could not be more clear, yet thousands upon thousands chose to cheer for a team of this world. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.