Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Reflection from my message today at NRN

Today I shared principles of Risky Faith.  One principle was:
Risky faith means unlearning irrational FEARS   and BELIEFS that keep us from becoming who God wants us to be.  This means we may need to unlearn some beliefs we have been taught.  Consider this:

Back in the 1980s, when he was a professor of religious studies at Brown University, Jacob Neusner sent an article to the student newspaper. It was a commencement address he knew would never be delivered, but which he believed needed saying anyway.

Neusner, a noted scholar and the kind of no-nonsense professor that most students avoid like the plague, lamented the erosion of standards in higher education, not only among students but in the ranks of faculty, who he said could restore academic excellence, but won’t. Or anyway don’t. It is the kind of complaint that simultaneously offends and resonates with professors.

We the faculty take no pride in our educational achievements with you. We have prepared you for a world that does not exist, indeed, that cannot exist. You have spent four years supposing that failure leaves no record. You have learned at Brown that when your work goes poorly, the painless solution is to drop out. But starting now, in the world to which you go, failure marks you. Confronting difficulty by quitting leaves you changed. Outside Brown, quitters are no heroes. 
With us you could argue about why your errors were not errors, why mediocre work really was excellent, why you could take pride in routine and slipshod presentation. Most of you, after all, can look back on honor grades for most of what you have done. So, here grades can have meant little in distinguishing the excellent from the ordinary. But tomorrow, in the world to which you go, you had best not defend errors but learn from them. You will be ill-advised to demand praise for what does not deserve it, and abuse those who do not give it.
For four years we created an altogether forgiving world, in which whatever slight effort you gave was all that was demanded. When you did not keep appointments, we made news ones.  When your work came in beyond the deadline, we pretended not to care.  
Worse still, when you were boring, we acted as if you were saying something important.  When you were garrulous and talked to hear yourself talk, we listened as if it mattered. When you tossed on our desks writing upon which you had not labored, we read it and even responded, as though you earned a response. When you were dull, we pretended you were smart. When you were predictable, unimaginative, and routine, we listened as if to new and wonderful things. When you demanded free lunch, we served it. And all this why?
Despite your fantasies, it was not even that we wanted to be liked by you. It was that we did not want to be bothered, and the easy way out was pretense: smiles and easy Bs.
It is conventional to quote in addresses such as these. 
 Let me quote someone you’ve never heard of: Professor Carter A. Daniel, Rutgers University (Chronicle of Higher Education, May 7, 1979):
“College has spoiled you by reading papers that don’t deserve to be read, listening to comments that don’t deserve a hearing, paying attention even to the lazy, ill-informed, and rude. We had to do it, for the sake of education. But nobody will ever do it again. College has deprived you of adequate preparation for the last 50 years.  It has failed you by being easy, free, forgiving, attentive, comfortable, interesting, unchallenging fun. Good luck tomorrow.”
That is why, on this commencement day, we have nothing in which to take much pride.
Oh yes, there is one more thing. Try not to act toward your co-workers and bosses as you have acted toward us. I mean, when they give you what you want but have not earned, don’t abuse them, insult them, act out with them your parlous relationships with your parents. This too we have tolerated. It was, as I said, not to be liked. Few professors actually care whether or not they are liked by peer-paralyzed adolescents, fools so shallow as to imagine professors care not about education but about popularity. It was, again, to be rid of you. So go, unlearn the lies we taught you. To Life! 
(Originally published in the Brown University newspaper The Daily Herald on June 12, 1983.)
   “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.”  1 John 4:18

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Preparing for worship on June 30 2013

As I prepare for the time of worship tomorrow at NRN I am very excited about my message.  I am praying for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon our time together.  Last Sunday was the first Sunday of summer and it was evident with our attendance reduced by 23 people from the previous week.  I am praying for a summer jump this Sunday - as people invite their friends to join us and our faithful attendees come prepared for worship!

Here is a preview of our time of worship unto the Lord:

Series: The “Game” of Life


“And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world
but lose your own soul?”             Mark 8:36 (NLT)
“There was also Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant warrior from Kabzeel. He did many heroic deeds, which included killing two champions of Moab. Another time, on a snowy day, he chased a lion down into a pit and killed it. Once, armed only with a club, he killed a great Egyptian warrior who was armed with a spear. Benaiah wrenched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with it.”                           2 Samuel 23:20, 21 (NLT)
If you take the meaning of those two names, in the order of seniority, you get the secret of how to kill a lion on a snowy day. Jehoiada means "God knows," and Benaiah means "God builds." Those twin truths are the secret of how to meet a lion, the worst possible foe, in the worst possible place, under the worst possible circumstances, and win. Remember to rest upon the facts that God knows, and God builds.

Friday, June 28, 2013

The story of Jack and the Beanstalk - a lesson about risk


Remember the story of Jack and the Beanstalk?  Jack and his poor mother were going in the hole.  Maintaining the status quo wasn't working any longer -- and they realized that a change needed to take place.
So, Jack's mother sent him to town with the family cow and some specific instructions.  "Sell Bessie and bring back as much cash as you can."

Now, it was hard to give up old Bessie.  She had been a good cow, and a great source for ice cream.  But now, the ice cream days were over, the budget was tightening -- and Bessie was a goner.
And then, miracle of miracles, as Jack was leading Bessie to the village market, he came upon a gentleman with a handful of beans -- not just your regular garden variety beans, mind you -- but magic beans!  At least, that's what the man said.

Somehow, Jack left the realm of sensibilities, and traded Bessie for the beans.  To him, although it was hard to explain, it seemed like a pretty good idea.  Somehow, there was fresh, bold, new opportunity in those magic beans.
His poor mother, however, saw neither the opportunity nor the magic.  Instead, she only saw hair brained foolishness.  How could her son be so stupid??  Their good cow for a handful of beans?   In fury and snit, she threw the beans out the window.

Ah, but those "worthless" beans were indeed magic.  They took root and grew overnight -- far, far into the sky, beyond the reach of human eyes -- beyond the level of comprehension or even possibility.
The next morning, Jack climbed to brand new heights and explored a fabulous world of dangerous delights!  Giants!  Talking harps!  A Goose that laid golden eggs!

There was power in those beans!
And when he grew old, Jack lived in the retirement center.  There, he entertained his friends with spellbinding tales of the beanstalk adventures.  A few believed him, but most didn't -- because they were the type who would have kept the cow.

It really didn't matter to Jack, however, whether they believed him or not.  The opinions of others don't matter so much after you've had some life-changing experiences.
Every day, he closed his eyes, smiled contentedly, and thought, "I'm sure glad I traded the cow for the beans."

Moral of this story:  You have to give up the cow if you want to climb up the beanstalk.  What is your cow?  What is your beanstalk?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Pastor's Mama - a little humor...

An elderly woman walked into the local country church. The friendly usher greeted her at the door and helped her up the flight of steps.  

"Where would you like to sit?" he asked politely. 

"The front row, please," she answered.. 

"You really don't want to do that," the usher said. "The pastor is really boring." 

"Do you happen to know who I am?" the woman inquired.
"No," he said. 

"I'm the pastor's mother," she replied indignantly. 

"Do you know who I am?" he asked. 

"No," she said.
"Good," he answered.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

My prayer life is in a rut

In most areas of life, ruts are a bad thing. Drive your car over one and, ouch, there goes the alignment. Let your marriage get into one and you will be bored and dissatisfied. But when it comes to spiritual exercises, ruts can be a really good thing.

 My favorite rut is my morning prayer. First thing every morning, I pray four things for myself, my family, my church and special request. I pray for the salvation of four of my family members. I thank God for the new day and ask Him to use me to add value to each person I will be meeting with. (I use my calendar for that part.)

I pray almost the same thing in almost the same words every morning. This rut has a cleansing effect on me. It draws me close to the Lord and drives His power into my life and concerns. On the rare days when I don’t practice this prayer rut, I feel like is missing all day long.

I have other things and people I pray for throughout the day, but this first prayer of the day is a no-brainer for me. Infrequently-practiced disciplines can be a chore. Routinely-practiced disciples become a joy.


 What ruts are working for you?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

What's in your box?

As part of my message last Sunday I closed with an object lesson about placing the “BIG ROCKS” first in your life.  I also thought about asking everyone to draw an empty box on their notes. Then have them write the three things in their box that meant the most to them.

If you were to write the three things in your life that mean the most to you, what would you put their?

Family? Money? Some sort of achievement? A certain vacation? A sport, hobby or thrill?

Once they listed their three items, I would ask them to eliminate one of them.  I am sure someone would think: “I can’t!”

Then I would push the point by asking them to eliminate a second item. Now there was only had one thing in their box.

I wouldn’t feel bad about this, because really, all of us only have one thing that’s the most important to us in the world anyway. Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters.” Boil it all down, and we all can have only one true master, only one thing in our box.

So, what’s in your box?

What’s the most important thing in the world to you?

What’s the thing you would trade everything else for, if you had to?

Jesus once told a parable about a pearl of great price. It’s his shortest parable: He said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.  When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”

What would you sell everything you have in order to attain? What would be worth the investment of your one and only life?

In the book of Philippians, the Apostle Paul is in prison. Night and day, he’s chained to a guard, under house arrest. Yet the book of Philippians is the most joy-filled book in the Bible.

How can a man in prison be joyful?

The only way is to have something in his box that can be fulfilled, even from prison.

Paul says the reason he is happy is that the cause of Christ is being advanced by his imprisonment. The palace guards he was chained to were also chained to him. And day after day, shift after shift, he was leading them to Christ. As a result, members of Caesar’s household were coming to Christ. These guards would eventually take their faith to every place occupied by the Roman legions.

Paul’s happiness, and the fulfillment of his life’s purpose, was not hindered in the least by physical confinement. He explains why in Philippians 1:21 – For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.  As I shared this in my message last Sunday, I said “For to me, living means opportunities for Christ, and dying, well, that’s better yet!”

What do you think Paul had in his box?

I would love to hear Paul preach on the first of our DNA statements: We call people to a whole hearted relationship with Jesus Christ. It is more than saying Jesus is first in my life, He must be the Center of our life. We give up things we love for the One we love even more.

Paul gave up his freedom, gladly.

What are you happy about today, because of the work Jesus is doing as a result of you putting Him in the center of your life?


Monday, June 24, 2013

10 Characteristics of Leaders Who Last

I recenlty read an article that I felt I should share.

As a seminary professor, I work with young leaders. They have passion, vision, energy and zeal. They understand the importance of social justice and global outreach. In both the church world and the business world, I have met young leaders who give me hope for the future.

I have learned the most, though, from leaders who have been long-term leaders. To be honest, I have seen far too many young leaders quickly lose their integrity and sacrifice their leadership influence. Too many start well, but do not end well.

That’s why I so enjoy talking to leaders who have led for years, if not for decades. Admittedly, these findings are anecdotal, but here are 10 common characteristics of those long-term leaders from whom I have learned.

1. They begin with a determination to finish well.

I have not yet met a leader who led well over the course of time by accident. Instead, they decide up front that they will run the race with the end goal in mind. They establish appropriate boundaries to maintain their integrity, and they continually push themselves to improve.

2. They always have a vision bigger than they are.

Regardless of their age, these leaders do not settle for maintenance mode. Their vision is so big — so “God-sized,” in theological terms — that relaxing makes little sense as long as more remains to be accomplished. Nor do these leaders ever want to fail morally or ethically; their task matters too much to let that happen.

3. They take care of themselves spiritually.

I realize this point sounds cliché, but it is nevertheless valid. These leaders understand that what they do behind the scenes matters. They read the Scriptures, pray, study, worship, fellowship — and lead out of the overflow of their walk with God.

4. They take care of themselves physically.

Again, this point is obvious, yet significant. The long-lasting leaders I have met eat properly, exercise regularly and sleep well. They cannot avoid the effects of aging, but they don’t contribute to poor health by making bad decisions. I confess I have much to learn here.

5. They invest in their family.

My experiences reveal a common pattern: Leaders who last are good spouses and parents. They work hard at their profession, but not at the expense of their family. Indeed, their relationships keep them grounded; nothing they gain through their work is worth harming their loved ones.
6. They treat people well.

To put it simply, these leaders are nice people. They respect others, including those who disagree with them. They are seldom rude or impatient. Long track records of strong, healthy relationships give them credibility as they lead over many years. Some of these leaders are so kind that I have never heard a negative word about them.
7. They share the workload.

These leaders delegate well without shirking their responsibility to lead through influence and vision casting. They have learned that failing to share the work is not only exhausting, but it is also arrogant. In fact, it is nothing less than idolatry of the self.

8. They do not let discouragement set in.

It’s not that they don’t get discouraged; it’s just that they don’t wallow in that emotion. They deal with fires of conflict before they become consuming. They do not like failure, but they know failure is seldom the end of the story. Sometimes, accountability partners have permission to challenge them when they seem emotionally down.
9. They have genuine friends.

Their friendships may not be numerous, but they are nevertheless real. Because they have friends, these leaders know they always have a support system. Regardless of what leadership challenges they face, they know they are not alone.
10. They have learned to laugh.

Some of the best long-term leaders I know are also the ones who most readily laugh. Somehow, they are deadly serious without taking themselves too seriously. They can put their followers at ease even while they cast a vision with life-changing ramifications.
I’m grateful for what I’ve learned from leaders who last. Give us your insights so today’s young leaders might remain strong leaders for years to come.

What have you learned from leaders who have led well for years?

Author: Thom S. Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources ( Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and six grandchildren. He was founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism, and Church Growth at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His many books include Surprising Insights from the Unchurched, The Unexpected Journey, and Breakout Churches

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Reflections from my message today

Here is a reflection from my message this morning:

In my message I said: "Today we are taking the lid off the game Trivial Pursuit and I want to talk about priorities.  Trivial Pursuit is a board game in which progress is determined by a player's ability to answer general knowledge and popular culture questions. You see, its one thing to be educated, to have knowledge, it is quite another to have wisdom. Wisdom is the application of knowledge. Wisdom is knowing what to do with all of that trivial information that is floating around in our brains. And unfortunately we live in a society that is filled with knowledge and yet lacking greatly in wisdom. We have a lot of intelligent people that are living their lives in very trivial ways."
I quoted A.W. Tozer:
"I want deliberately to encourage this mighty longing after God. The lack of it has brought us to our present low estate. The stiff and wooden quality about our religious lives is a result of our lack of holy desire. Complacency is a deadly foe of all spiritual growth. Acute desire must be present or there will be no manifestation of Christ to His people. He waits to be wanted. Too bad that with many of us He waits so long, so very long, in vain."
                                                  ~Aiden Wilson Tozer  (A.W. Tozer)
I closed with a similar illustration:

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Preparing for worship on Sunday June 23 2013

I am very excited about what God is doing at our church!  Today I really looking forward to preaching the message God has laid upon my heart.  This morning I plan to join the neighborhood visitation team and invite our neighbors to church as I give them a freshly made loaf of bread.  At the lunch hour I will be at a meeting with some individuals from the church to discuss the possible launching of another new ministry.  God is moving in our midst. 

I invite you to join us tomorrow as I launch a new teaching series:

Here is the worship set we are preparing for tomorrow:
We will begin by clapping our hands in praise as we sing...

As we offer our worship to God by returning to Him a portion of what He has given to us - we will place our financial offerings in the bucket as an expression of thanks to our Lord!

As the worship leads us - I pray that the Worship Center will be filled with praise as we join in song together!

Friday, June 21, 2013

How He loves us

Sharron and I have taken some time away the first of this past week to attend a Pastor's Conference and renew several important friendships from our past.  We are so blessed to have such good friends and partners in ministry.

We stood in a worship service and sang a song that has resonated in my heart for several days.  I cannot escape singing the chorus over and over.  Listen to this great message in song:

Thursday, June 20, 2013

He's been faithful

This past Sunday a group of friends sat around a table near the Connection Cafe' enjoying conversation and true fellowship.  When I stopped by for a brief conversation someone asked me about a church, which I soon recognized as the Brooklyn Tabernacle.  This church is known for prayer, and it's awesome choir.  I have thought often this week about that brief conversation and thought you would enjoy a clip of the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.

Enjoy and be blessed.....

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Developing the mastery of prayer...

I recently read the book:

In standardized math tests, Japanese children consistently score higher than their American counterparts. While some assume that a natural proclivity toward mathematics is the primary difference, researchers have discovered that it may have more to do with effort than ability. In one study involving first-graders, students were given a difficult puzzle to solve. The researchers weren’t interested in whether or not the children could solve the puzzle; they simply wanted to see how long they would try before giving up. The American children lasted, on average, 9.47 minutes. The Japanese children lasted 13.93 minutes. In other words, the Japanese children tried 47 percent longer. Is it any wonder why they score higher on math exams? Researchers concluded that the difference in math scores might have less to do with intelligence quotient and more to do with persistence quotient. The Japanese first-graders simply tried harder.

That study not only explains the difference in standardized math scores, the implications are true no matter where you turn. It doesn’t matter whether it’s athletics or academics, music or math. There are no shortcuts. There are no substitutes. Success is a derivative of persistence.

More than a decade ago, Anders Ericsson and his colleagues at Berlin’s elite Academy of Music did a study with musicians. With the help of professors, they divided violinists into three groups: world-class soloists, good violinists, and those who were unlikely to play professionally. All of them started playing around roughly the same age and they practiced about the same amount of time until the age of eight. That is when their practice habits diverged. The researchers found that by the age of twenty, the average players had logged about 4,000 hours of practice time; the good violinists totaled about 8,000 hours; and the elite performers set the standard with 10,000 hours. While there is no denying that innate ability dictates some of your upside potential, your potential is only tapped via persistent effort. Persistence is the magic bullet and the magic number seems to be ten thousand.

“The emerging picture from such studies is that ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve a level of mastery associated with being a world class expert—in anything,” notes neurologist Daniel Levitin. “In study after study, of composers, basketball players, fiction writers, ice skaters, concert pianists, chess players, master criminals, and what have you, this number comes up again and again. No one has yet found a case in which true world-class expertise was accomplished in less time. It seems that it takes the brain that long to assimilate all that it needs to know to achieve true mastery.”

Is prayer any different?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Crisis Care Kits

Over the past few weeks we have been collecting items for Crisis Care Kits.
It is not too late to bring your items and participate in this project to help others in need.

Disasters happen.  That is an unfortunate fact of life.  Many times the victims of these disasters are left without even the most basic needs and supplies.  Crisis Care Kits are designed to help meet that need.  When a disaster happens these kits are distributed to those in need to give a little comfort and the encouragement to know that someone cares!  If you would like to prepare one of the kits, several kits or simply donate some of the items needed for the kits you can be assured they will be used to help meet a great need when a crisis arises.  The list of what should be included in the kits is HERE

You may bring the kits to the church office during the week or leave them at the welcome center in the  church lobby.  Please call the church office to arrange for someone to meet you to accept your donations. To see what the Church of the Nazarene has done with these kits both in the U.S. and around the world click HERE.

Monday, June 17, 2013

In prayer for One Heart - Many Hands

Today we are in prayer for the team from NRN to serve in Indianapolis, IN.   Let's remember Pastor Jordan, Brian Cherry and Jacob Hartsell as they gather with others from around the country to serve the Lord.

One Heart - Many Hands announced this week plans for a large scale service project during the summer of 2013 (June 16-21). Partnering with the Church of the Nazarene in advance of the denomination's General Assembly and Conventions, OHMH volunteers will return to the city where OHMH first began in 1993 with hand full of volunteer home repair projects.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Preparing for worship on June 16, 2013 - Father's Day.

As I prepare for worship tomorrow at NRN I am in prayer for Pastor Jordan, Brian Cherry and Jacob Hartsell as they arrive in Indianapolis, IN to participate in One Heart Many Hands.

This Sunday is Father's Day.  I feel God has given me a message for all fathers and especially men who are grandfathers.  We have a gift for all fathers.  They will receive a CD of encouragement and wisdom for 21st Century Dads. A special gifts for all grandfathers will also be a CD.  This CD is about Courageous Grandfathering - The legacy of serving and affirming.

“The man who is blessed and fears the Lord will live to impact his children’s children.                                                                            Psalm 128: 5-6

Here are the songs we are preparing for worship tomorrow:

I hope to repeat this song at the close of my message and ask all the men to sing a portion of this great testimony to God.

Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I'll worship Your holy name

The sun comes up, it's a new day dawning
It's time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes

Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I'll worship Your holy name

You're rich in love, and You're slow to anger
Your name is great, and Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find

Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I'll worship Your holy name

And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending
Ten thousand years and then forevermore

Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I'll worship Your holy name

Jesus, I'll worship Your holy name
Lord, I'll worship Your holy name

Sing like never before
O my soul
I'll worship Your holy name
Jesus, I'll worship Your holy name
I'll worship Your holy name

Friday, June 14, 2013

Pastor Rick - When he had hair...

I have recently heard a few comments about the wedding pictures I posted last Sunday at Sharron and I celebrated 35 years of marriage.  One person commented  "Wow Pastor Rick, you really did use to have hair."  

I thought you would like to see a few other pictures when I was a youth pastor, back in 1980's.

 The first is when I was a seminar speaker at a December Youth conference in Urbana, Ill.

 This is from a brochure when I shared the speaking responsibilities at a conference with Dr. John Maxwell.  
Here is a picture of the pastoral staff of Christian Fellowship Church in 1983.
Can you locate me and Sharron holding our daughters?
Enough of the laughter from the past.
Here is one of my favorite recent pictures:
Papa and Alyse


Thursday, June 13, 2013

A school valedictorian speaks out at graduation ceremony.

PICKENS COUNTY, S.C. —A school district under pressure to keep prayer out of meetings and gatherings got an unexpected delivery from one high school valedictorian.

On Saturday, May 30, 2013, at Clemson's Littlejohn Coliseum, Liberty High Valedictorian Roy Costner IV took his speech to the podium, and in front of the crowd, tore it up.

John Eby, Pickens County School District spokesman, said, "They write their speeches. They send them to someone on staff to have them approved."

But Costner clearly had something else in mind.

After speaking for a few minutes, he thanked his parents for leading him to the Lord at a young age, and then he said, "I think most of you will understand when I say, 'Our Father, who art in heaven…" as he began to recite the Lord's Prayer.

Much of the crowd broke into tentative applause that then grew into cheers that nearly drown out Costner's voice as he continued the prayer. 


Brian Hoover, who is from Liberty and attended the graduation, said, "You couldn't even hear him doing the prayer anymore because everybody was clapping and cheering."

Costner finished, pointing his finger in the air for emphasis, saying, "For Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen," followed by more cheers and applause.

Hoover said, "From the ACLU sending FOIA requests to every district in the state this year after the Chesterfield County case, then the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent us a complaint about religion at board meetings and some other issues as well. That is why the reaction to the prayer at graduation was loud."

The district says there will be no repercussions because of the prayer.

Costner was out of town on Monday, but he said he added the prayer to the speech because God is the biggest part of his life.

According to a school publication, "Costner plans to head to Clemson University in the fall to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science. He said he hopes to work as a computer programmer overseas, but has dreams of saving up enough to come back and start a chain of restaurants in the U.S. He said computer programming was an interest he picked up outside of school as he developed a local news website, "Liberty Speaks."

In the publication Costner is quoted as saying: “I have big ideas for mobile applications, and even for starting a new social network, but I don't have the knowledge to pull it off yet."                                    Read more:

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The reason we don't pray

Here is a primer for our time of prayer this evening:

Tonight at 6:30pm  we will gather for corporate prayer at NRN. We are preparing for revival and an outpouring of God's Spirit upon us! 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Thank God for His provision

As I consider the financial situation of our church and many other churches I felt I should encourage you with this simple yet true story:

Tony Campolo tells of being invited to speak at a ladies meeting.  There were 300 women there.  Before he spoke the president of the organization read a letter from a missionary.  It was a very moving letter.  In the letter the missionary expressed a need for $4000.00 to take care of an emergency that had cropped up.  So the president of the organization said, “We need to pray that God will provide the resources to meet the need of this missionary; Brother Campolo will you please pray for us?”  Tony Campolo, who is very outspoken, said “No.”  Startled, she said, “I beg your pardon.”  He said, “No, I won’t pray for that.” He said, “I believe that God has already provided the resources and that all we need to do is give.

Tell you what I’m going to do.  I’m going to step up to this table and give every bit of cash I have in my pocket.  And if all of you will do the same thing, I think God has already provided the resources.”  The president of the organization chuckled a little bit and said, “Well, I guess we get the point.  He is trying to teach us that we all need to give sacrificially.”  He said, “No, that is not what I am trying to teach you.  I’m trying to teach you that God has already provided for this missionary.  All we need to do is give it.  Here, I’m going to put down all of my money I have with me.”

He wrote, “I only have $15.00 in my pocket so I wasn’t too worried about that.  One by one the rest of the ladies filed by and put their money on the table, too.  When the money was counted they had collected more than $4000.00.”  Tony Campolo said, “Now, here’s the lesson.  God always supplies for our needs, and he supplied for this missionary, too.  The only problem was we were keeping it for ourselves. Now let’s pray and thank God for His provision.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Celebrating 35 years together!

Today, Sharron and I celebrate 35 years of marriage.  On this date in 1978 we stood before family and friends to vow our love for one another. Through out the years, our marriage has been through the fire; celebrated mountain top experiences; and our love has grown deeper and deeper. 

Sharron is my best friend, my partner in life, my love, my compass, my wife.  I love her deeply and cannot imagine life without her.  Today we celebrate by being in service to the Lord and others on this Lord's Day.  This afternoon and this evening we plan to cherish some time together.

Here is a short pictorial directory of the day we were married... enjoy


Sharron and I were married in an evening ceremony at St. Paul Wesleyan Church in Charlotte NC.
The day following our wedding we traveled with Sharron's family to Canada for a big family reception.  Below is Sharron's picture used in the paper in Canada to announce our marriage.
Also is a picture taken of me the day after our wedding as I prepared to meet Sharron's extended family.

Sharron and I are very happy and truly blessed today!
This picture was taken in 2010 in the backyard of Sharron's childhood home in Canada.

This picture was taken today - June 9, 2013 - after a delicious meal at Bonefish Grill.


Saturday, June 8, 2013

The worship set for Sunday June 9

I am so excited about this Sunday at NRN.  I have a BIG SURPRISE for the family of North Raleigh Church of the Nazarene.  It will be a time of celebration and thankfulness.  Plan to join us for a time we will long remember.

Here is the order of songs we have planned as we worship the Lord:

We pause to remember the Lord in a time of communion and prayer to God.  I plan to invite people who wish to be released from habits and seek an emotional healing in their life; and people suffering from any form of pain in their body to come forward to be anointed with oil as the prayer of faith is prayed over them. 

I am trusting God for a supernatural moving of His Holy Spirit and the power of God to be felt by all those who open their heart to Him.

As we worship the Lord by bringing our financial gift to the Lord we will honor Him by returning to Him just a portion of what He has entrusted to us.  Each Sunday people face the challenge of wondering if they can afford to give God a significant offering.  What would happen if we all gave an offering that represented more than a "tip" to God , but a true expression of our thanks and praise to God?  May the offering this Sunday be view as an awesome day to remember because God's people are listening to what God is saying about giving.  I am trusting and giving a gift as we sing this song with such great truth:

The message of the morning is important. 

Friday, June 7, 2013

I simply ask for one thing....

Today, I am praying for one thing.  I simply ask one thing from our church family today:

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Alyse asking Jesus into her heart

One evening this past week Sharron and I viewed a preview of a new Christian film to be released in a few months.  It was very enjoyable and I was moved by the message of redemption.  Here is the link for more information.   When we returned home I went upstairs to check emails and work on a few projects needing my immediate attention.  I had sat in front of the computer for over an hour when I heard Sharron talking on the phone downstairs. 

I went downstairs to take a break before retiring to sleep for the night.  Sharron was close to tears and I soon discovered why.  Our 6 year old grand daughter Alyse had come into her mother's room and asked if she could ask Jesus to come into her heart.  Memories flooded into my mind of when Danielle and Stephanie made that decision when they were young children.  I watched a short video sent to Sharron's phone.  Then tears flowed from my eyes!

Technology has certainly changed over time. Stephanie recorded the moment of decision on her phone.  Here is a moment that changes everything:

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Pray First, Pray More

“After this the armies of the Moabites, Ammonites, and some of the Meunites declared war on Jehoshaphat. Jehoshaphat was terrified by this news and begged the Lord for guidance."
                                                                                                  (2 Chronicles 20:1, 3 NLT)

Sometimes it seems the odds are against you. Brian Hice from Provo, Utah, had a day like that. First, his apartment became flooded from a broken pipe in the apartment above his. When he went to rent a water vacuum, he discovered that he had a flat tire. He changed it and went inside again to phone a friend for help. But standing in water and grabbing the phone gave him such a startling electrical shock that he accidentally ripped the phone off the wall. By the time he was ready to leave, water damage had swelled his door shut, and he had to yell for a neighbor to come and kick the door down. While all this was going on, somebody stole Brian's car. That evening, he attended a military ceremony at his university and injured himself severely when he somehow sat on his bayonet, which had been tossed on the front seat of his car. Doctors were able to stitch up his wound, but no one was able to resuscitate Brian's four canaries who were crushed by fallen plaster from the wet apartment ceiling. When he got back from the university, he slipped on the wet carpet and injured his tailbone. Brian said he began to wonder if “God wanted me dead but just kept missing.”

Have you ever had a day like that? What do you do when you're facing insurmountable, overwhelming problems?

Before you do anything else, you go directly to God. You say, “God, I am overwhelmed!” and you ask, “God, what do you think about this situation?” Your perspective is limited while God's perspective is eternal, so he can see the beginning and the end. He can see past, present, and future all at once. You need to get a bigger picture of what the problem really is that seems so overwhelming to you right now.

Too often we see prayer as a last resort rather than as our first thought. Prayer is usually something you do way down the line after you've tried everything else. People will say, “I guess all we can do now is pray!” like it's their last option.

Prayer should be your first choice, not your last resort. If you want God to help you overcome the odds in any area of your life, you have to turn to him first.

2 Chronicles 20:1, 3 says, “After this the armies of the Moabites, Ammonites, and some of the Meunites declared war on Jehoshaphat. Jehoshaphat was terrified by this news and begged the Lord for guidance" (NLT). The "this" refers to a great national revival, a spiritual awakening. There was great prosperity and blessing in the land, and soon after there was war.

With every high, there is a low. After every victory, there is a letdown. And with every blessing, there comes a testing. You may not be in a battle right now, but you're going to be in one tomorrow or the next day or the day after that. You should expect blessing in your life, but you also need to expect battles in your life. You're going to have difficult times.

But you should never let an impossible situation intimidate you. Let it motivate you to pray more and turn to God first.       Taken from Daily Hope by Rick Warren

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Tuesday Thoughts

Here are a few random thoughts I had today:

I really enjoyed this recent posting from a friend on Facebook

This speaks for itself......

Monday, June 3, 2013

Man loses leg, not faith after 18-wheeler crash

Floydie Harris remembers waking up face down in a muddy ditch next to an 18-wheeler the morning of Jan. 31. His legs broken and mangled, he waved his hands and screamed for help.

Moments earlier, the 45-year-old Dudley man had been clearing a fence line on his Wayne County farm when he heard the unmistakable rumble of a tractor-trailer’s Jake brake, an engine braking mechanism that some say sounds similar to a machine gun.

Startled by the loud noise, he turned around and said, "Oh my God!" as the trailer collapsed on him.

“I remember seeing the trailer, feeling it slap me down,” Harris said. “I remember looking at my legs and seeing how they were twisted, and my feet were facing back at me, and I remember feeling the blood pumping down my pants leg. I immediately started praying.”

Nearly three months later, Harris says the crash that altered his body and his life has not altered his faith.

“I know God has a plan. If God didn’t have a plan, I would’ve been dead underneath that truck right now," he said. "I think God preserved my life, that I can be a better servant for Him, that I can teach my boys to be better servants for Him."

The truck severed Harris’ right leg, broke his left leg in seven places and left him with head and back trauma. Doctors performed about a dozen surgeries on him, including inserting a steel rod to hold his left leg together, and there are more surgeries to come.

The injuries made it impossible for Harris to continue working as a general contractor, so his oldest son stepped in to helped with the business.

"I’ve been the sole income for our family for almost 20 years. Now, to have my way of life jeopardized, there’s been a lot stolen from me when you look at it that way. But I can’t harbor malice in my heart for an accident," Harris said.

Harris family members say they have not heard from the driver or the company, Guy Shavender Trucking, Inc., in Pantego.

The driver, Marcellus Humphrey of Jacksonville, N.C., survived the crash and was charged with failure to maintain control. Troopers say the 61-year-old swerved to avoid hitting an oncoming tractor-trailer on the narrow road.

Harris' wife, Rhonda Harris, says she came upon the crash and helped Humphrey get out of the truck, not realizing her husband was injured nearby.

"I immediately began to call 911, because I saw somebody inside the cab of the truck that was struggling to get out," she said.  "I climbed up onto the hood of the 18-wheeler."

Another driver stopped to help and asked, "Who is the man laying face down embedded in the ground behind the truck?" Rhonda Harris recalled. She jumped off the truck, fearing it might be her husband, and ran to the unknown man's aid.

"I just started praying, 'Please don’t let it be my husband,'" she said.

After realizing what happened, she took off her jacket and tried to rip off the arm so she could use it as a tourniquet to stop her husband's bleeding. When she couldn't rip the jacket's fabric, she and another driver got her husband's belt and tied it around his leg.

“I remember laying my head on his back and asking if he was awake. Could he hear me? Was he in pain? He said, ‘I’m alive. I do feel some pain,’” Rhonda Harris recalled.

In the months since the crash, the Harris's extended family and church family have offered prayers and support for Floydie Harris, who still can’t put any weight on his left leg. He hopes to start rehabilitation soon and possibly try crutches. Despite the challenges, he and his wife have maintained a positive attitude.

"He didn’t lose both his legs. He didn’t die. He didn’t lose his arms. He still has his mental faculties … He can hug us. He can talk to us," Rhonda Harris said. "When you get to the point that God is all you have, you realize He is all you need."

Floydie Harris has used the experience to teach his family about being grateful for each day.

"A half a second is the difference between me standing up there working and me laying face down in the mud, crying out to my God," he said. "Every second’s precious … We must be right with God at all times, because you might not have the next second to get things right."

To view the televised report click HERE.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

A reflection from the message today - June 2 2013

As we gathered today Pastor Jordan Unfried , Youth Pastor of NRN brought the morning message.  We honored our graduating seniors from high school and the youth worship team led the worship.

The message of the morning spoke to our heart about what the Scripture say about purity.  Here is a reflection from the message:

Psalm 119:9-11
How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to
your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your
commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
Philippians 1:9-11
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and
depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure
and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes
through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
We followed the worship today with a family style carry in meal.  It was a fun time for all who were there! 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Preparing to worship for June 2 2013

This Sunday will be another Youth Sunday at NRN as Pastor Jordan and the youth worship team will lead our time of worship. We will honor several high school students preparing to graduate.  Pastor Jordan will bring the message of the morning.

Here is the plan for the songs of worship:

How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to
your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your

commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
                                                                                                                  Psalm 119:9-11
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and

depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure

and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes

through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.      Philippians 1:9-11