Saturday, October 15, 2016

If I Say What I Think ...

If I say what I think, some will be offended, maybe even hurt...
If I say what I think, I will be labeled... (pick one)...
If I say what I think, I will be considered an alarmist...
If I say what I think, I will be condoning things...
If I say what I think, I will be condemning things...
If I say what I think, I will be "judging" somebody or something...
If I say what I think, I will be unfriended (removed from a list)...
If I say what I think, I might inspire someone (who knows?)
If I say what I think, I might inform someone (who knows?)
If I say what I think, I might help someone (who knows?)

This may be a good place to decide to read no further ...
Because here is some of what I think ...

I think the choices we have for president is a very sad and telling commentary on the state of our nation ... I think our country has followed the cycle of every democracy in history (200 years is usually when democracies eventually fall according to historians) which is as follows ...Bondage...Spiritual Truth ... Courage...Liberty...Abundance...Selfishness...Complacency... Apathy...Dependence... and then back to Bondage! (I think we have probably passed complacency and are well through the Apathetic stage)... I think we have swallowed lots of lies and deception ...
I think there is a dangerous spirit of unrest and anger in our country ... I think respect and humility is at a dangerous low in our country...
I think a culture that accepts an Intact Dilation and Extraction procedure for pregnancies beyond 20 weeks (or any time for that matter) should understand that The Sovereign God of the universe and the sole Giver of Life can not be pleased ... I think much of the good of the days of my childhood is a thing of the past ... I think some of the bad of the days of my childhood have returned ... I think aside from some great Spiritual revival, we are in dire straits... I think opening the door (literally) to the girls bathroom to any sick mind that may walk in under the guise of "identifying as a women" on any given day with evil thoughts and for evil reasons is another sad commentary on our country (A true transgender using the bathroom or dressing room does not concern me, I'm sure that has been happening without incident for a long time) ... I think the most important issue regarding the current election is The Supreme Court issue ... I think, that as disgusting and annoying and childish as Trump is, he is the best hope for a Supreme Court that will preserve the rights we have enjoyed throughout our existence...I think Clinton will be a very bad choice for America and under her leadership our decline will continue or worsen...However, I also think she will win this election...

Those are some things I think, here are some things I know ...
I know God is not shaken ... I know Jesus is our Hope and our Ever Present Help ... I know in pure perfection Jesus stepped out of Heaven to pay once and for all for mankind's sins and I know that " many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believed in His name." (John 1:12) ... I know Eternity is near, and Through Jesus Christ, mine is secure and Holy and waiting for me ... I know Love conquers and heals ... I know "My Hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' Blood and Righteousness ... On Christ the solid Rock I stand ...ALL other ground is sinking sand..."

Some are looking to the donkey and some are looking to the elephant, but our real and only Hope is to ... Look to the Lamb!

[This blog is my opinion and is shared as such and does not necessarily reflect the thoughts or beliefs of all who are the family of Fellowship Baptist Church]

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

My Love For June

I love the month of June for the many topics she inspires.

High School graduation is a major one. Schools all across America will say good-bye this month to thousands of young people who are about to find out how good they have really had it.
Now I do know that not all young people have have it made as many have faced struggles that no kid should ever have to deal with. However, life is definitely about to change for many people. Saying good-bye to friends who have been there and helped you through some tough times and have laughed a thousand laughs with you is going to be very difficult.
Walking out of that school one more time, this time knowing that if you ever walk back in for any reason it will never mean what it has meant for the last few years.
There will be teachers who you owe a great deal to and others who you would like to unload on, but now they are in the rear view mirror.
So, to you, congratulations and Godspeed!

Then there is Father's Day. Woo hoo! Dads get their day! A new tie, a bag of kit kats and a home-made card. It's a great day! Maybe your favorite meal and definitely some "do-nothing" time.
Okay, that days over, next topic!

Summer officially starts. Hot days, rainy weekends, horse flies and grass to cut. Cook outs on the grill, days at the beach and longer periods of sunlight! Vacations, baseball and weddings. I always wondered why the most popular month of the year for weddings, where everyone seems to wear extra clothes, happen in one of the hottest months of the year. 
I love strawberries on a hot biscuit, fire-flies flashing in the dark and children playing outside. Shorts and flip flops and tank tops. Visits to the ice cream shop and cantaloupe and fresh peaches.

June also gives us Flag Day which doesn't seem to have the same bang it did years ago. I love the flag and I'm glad there is a day set aside just for Old Glory! 

June begins the time of year for Vacation Bible Schools in neighborhood churches and dinner on the grounds. Okay, if mind hits the ground I aint eating it but you get the idea.

One of my favorite things about June is how nicely she introduces us to July. I really love July. More heat, more cookouts, more flag and more ice cream. Thank you June!

Summer was always a favorite time for me. It was a time to sharpen and utilize my imagination. There were lots of wars to win and Indians to chase and villains to catch. Sometimes I would slow down long enough to catch a doodlebug or chase a butterfly and just hang out with my dog.

Later years were filled with pick up games and hanging out with friends and cruising the strip. If you lived in my home town, cruising the strip could burn, oh three, maybe four minutes. But it was great and all of those things live right in my mind never to be disturbed. They are a great asset.

June is also the  month of starting Summer Camp. I love summer camp and planned to go this year but our week for camp conflicted with family plans so I had to back out. But I have been to my share of summer camps as an adult and as a teenager. I have been the Camp Pastor for a Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) camp of over five hundred teens and one with less than one hundred teens. I have chaperoned camps that were high energy and exhausting. I have played games as an adult that adults are not designed to play. 
As a teen camp was always lots of fun and many great friendships were fashioned in those experiences.

But there is one camp in June that sticks out above them all. It was in 1969 (the best I can recall) and it was in the hills of North Carolina. It had been a fun week filled with lots of adventures. This particular event happened on the last night of Camp as we would return home the next day. No doubt by design that was the night that we attended an out door chapel service by the lake with a fire and a cross. We did that every night, but this night, the last night is when they shared a very specific message. I do not remember a word that was said or who said it that night. But I do remember a tugging at my heart and an inability to stay put as I moved from my split log bench and walked to the front where the fire and the cross was. It was that night that I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ.

My life has not been perfect and I have messed up many, many times. My life in Christ is a work in progress and His incredible grace is more than sufficient to cover all my failures. 
But since that hot Thursday night in June about 47 years ago my life has not been the same and my eternity is set and secure!

So I wish you a Happy June

Monday, May 30, 2016

A Time of Remembering

Okay, so it has been quite a while since I last wrote a blog and I think today is a good time to try and get back on track.

Today, of course, is Memorial Day in our country and for many people it means a day off of work. For many, it also means a day of celebrating, cooking out on the grill, enjoying games and the beach and the family and so many other things. Outdoor activities have been somewhat altered due to the wet weather and lack of sunshine in our area. However, a day off just the same

Truthfully this is day is much less about the things listed above and so much more contemplative of the reality of the cost of the amazing freedoms the fine folks of the U.S.A. have enjoyed for so many years. Originally it was called "Decoration Day" and involved women from both the North and South decorating the graves of their War Dead in the 1860s just after the Civil War.
It grew from that with each war over the years and has since become a National Holiday. A day to remember the brothers and sisters and moms and dads and sons and daughters and cousins and neighbors and all the thousands of others who gave us  the wonderful gift of freedom and opportunity.

A few years ago, I don't remember exactly when, but I started what has become my own private tradition of honoring this day. I bought some American flags and visited a local cemetery. I began by placing a flag at my father's grave and my father-in-law's grave and then just started hunting for random graves of former members of the armed services. Neither my father nor Dawn's father died while serving our country but they both served and are now deceased. Likewise it may well be that many of the random graves I have chosen over the years have held men and women who served but may not have necessarily  died while serving. Nonetheless, they all served at some point in their lives.

It has been interesting and also meaningful for me to walk through the cemetery and find markers that indicate past service to our country. Once my eye catches a marker that identifies the occupant as a service member I read the dates of their births and deaths and the branch of service if provided. Then I begin to imagine something about the individual. My imagination is quite healthy and I have created many stories in mind that may or may not even come close to reality.

Today, I came across two graves side my side. They were graves of two young men, one was nineteen and the other was twenty one. They both were born in the late 40's and died in the 60's, both having served during the Viet Nam era. I wondered what their stories were and why they were buried side by side. I will likely never know. I thanked them for their service, whispered a prayer for their families if indeed they have any and then gently placed a flag in their honor.

At some point I decided to stray from my pattern of visiting just my father's grave and father-in-law's grave and all random graves beyond those two. I began searching for the graves of a few men who had touched my life along the way who had also served our country at some point. All of which served during WWII as my daddy did. First was my childhood Pastor, Dr. R.W. Kicklighter (buried beside his wife Helen who was also a veteran). Next I found Scott C. Callaway, my high school band teacher who taught me much more about life than just music. Finally I found the grave of Melvin R. Daniels who was buried five years ago yesterday on Memorial Day weekend. Melvin not only served our country but he also served as a N.C. Senator and Mayor of Elizabeth City. He became a dear friend to me and I was honored to serve as a pall bearer at his funeral.

I know my tradition doesn't touch the world but it does indeed touch me and fills my heart with gratitude and pride in these men and women known or unknown by me.

I cannot salute in an official fashion having never served but from my heart I salute and from my eyes I contribute a tear of thanksgiving and humility.

May God have mercy on the United States of America and thank you to all who have served!