Category Archives: Prayer

A Special Blessing

I appreciate the prayers and e-mails I have been receiving from so many of you. It is a wonderful encouragement and I am thankful to say I have seen much improvement in my health. I am still not back to 100% yet, but I am a lot closer than I was.

This song has been a special source of encouragement to me over the past few weeks. I want to share it with you and hopfully it will bless you as it has me.

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Where I’ve Been

I hope all of you had a very merry Christmas and are enjoying this gift of a new year that God has so graciously given us.

I wanted to share with you what has been happening in my life over the past couple of weeks. I do not do this for pity or sympathy, but first of all to say that God is good, and secondly to  ask for your prayers.

On Christmas Eve, as my wife and I were preparing to attend a candlelight service at her parent’s church in Palatka, FL, my lungs suddenly began to fill rapidly with blood and fluid. I couldn’t get my breath and experienced a severe attack of anxiety. This lasted for about ten minutes and then it cleared up as quickly as it started. It is the opinion of doctors that I suffered a pulmonary embolism or blood clot.

During the medical followup, I was found to have an infection in my lower right leg (of unknown origin) that was causing my leg to swell to over twice its normal size. Additionally, my blood pressure was sky-high requiring me to go on medication.

After a battery of tests, bloodwork and x-rays, it seems that I don’t have any more clots (praise the Lord). Antibiotics and rest have helped my leg tremendously. We are still trying to get the blood pressure meds balanced out. Anyone who has ever gone through that knows how it makes you feel.

So this is why I haven’t been around the old blog block the last few days, it certainly isn’t because I haven’t been interested in seeing what my friends had to say, I just haven’t had the energy. Please keep me in your prayers that I will be able to get around again soon like I want.

During these days I have found much for which to be thankful. The gift of life itself has become so much more precious, I don’t think I have ever appreciated a Christmas more than this last one. The outpouring of love from my physical and church family has been amazing, I am truly blessed. Most of all, I thank God for my wife who has taken so much better care of me than any nurse would. Amy, I love you a bunch.

God bless.

Still Undecided? Maybe This Will Help.

For those who still haven’t decided for whom they will vote, take a look at this video clip.

Please pray before you vote.

“God Is Real”

   For children who grow up in church, it is very easy for them to view it as nothing more than a religion if they never see the evidence of God at work. This fact was brought home to our church in a very real, but positive, way this past week.

   Bro. Jackie and his wife were a dear couple in their seventies. After he had a stroke about a year and a half ago, they moved down from Illinois to live with their daughter. The stroke affected his speech and his mobility, causing him to be mostly confined to a motorized wheelchair and leaving his speech somewhat halting. Additionally, he was dealing with Parkinson’s disease and a number of other ailments.

   Over the last few months, Bro. Jackie had two or three close calls with death, going in and out of the hospital and nursing home.

   Sunday before last, he was able to be in church. It was always a pleasure to see him there. He had a million-watt smile and an obvious hunger for the Word of God. He was one of those people who could make a preacher hurt himself preaching.

   At the end of the service, he motored his way down to the altar and requested that I and the elders of the church pray for his healing according to James 5:14. I called the deacons to the front and we gathered around Bro. Jackie and prayed for God’s hand to raise our brother up.

   That night, Bro. Jackie slipped into a non-responsive state. Over the next three days his vital signs began to slip and it was obvious that the end was nearing. On Wednesday, about an hour before prayer meeting, he went home to be with the Lord. His family, as well as the church, felt a real sense that God had answered the prayer of faith and given him ultimate healing.

   This past Sunday, one of our young boys at church, age 11, approached his Sunday School teacher and told him he needed to be saved. This young man had been raised in church and had actually been baptized at an earlier age. When I talked to him about his decision, he shared with me that his earlier baptism had not been based upon a genuine profession of faith. He further testified that seeing Bro. Jackie come forward for prayer, and then seeing God take him home had convinced him without a doubt that God is real.

   Most of us have seen the staggering statistics about 85% of those church members who reach the age of 18 leave church, never to come back. Could it be that in their entire lifetime in church they have never seen God working in a manner that proved His reality? This is certainly not the fault of God as we know that He responds to faith.

   The answer to reaching our young people is not another program, trip, rally, camp, car wash or (dare I say it?) class. They need to see real faith in the lives of those who are older, real faith that produces real results from a real God.

   This song says it best, listen and be blessed.

A Blessed Week

Last week was one that was full of blessings. I suppose we could really say that about every week, but this one was especially so.

Our church held Vacation Bible School beginning on Sunday evening. We had an incredible week that was the highest attended we have ever had. The kids were enthusiastic and the adults really worked together as a team. Several good contacts with unchurched families were made. Most importantly, two children placed their faith in Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

On Tuesday, we got the news that my oldest son, Clay, had received a good report on an unusual mole that had been removed from his back a couple of weeks ago. The doctor said that it was not malignant. Thanks a bunch to all of you who offered prayers on his behalf.

After such a full week, we were ready for a little getaway, so my family and I travelled to the Julian Bruce State Park at St. George Island, Florida. We had a wonderful day at the beach and experienced some beautiful sights. Some sea turtles had recently hatched and you could see the trails through the sand where they had made their way to the water. We saw a number of different birds, but to cap everything off, we had all four swam out to the sand bar that was about forty or fifty yards offshore. While we were there, playing in about three feet of crystal-clear water, four dolphins came swimming by within just a few yards of us. They were unhurried, one even stuck his head out of the water to get a better look at us. It was an amazing moment.

On the way back home, we swung by our old haunt, St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge and drove down to the lighthouse at sunset. On our way in we had a close encounter with a raccoon. Coming out we got a good look at a great horned owl and a pair of ospreys. We even got to see a whip-poor-will. As often as I have heard these birds sing at night, this was the first one I had actually seen.

Praise the Lord for His everlasting goodness.

 

Bits and Pieces

It’s been quite a weekend. On Friday, I took my two sons along with my mom and dad to St. Mark’s National Wildlife Refuge. We had attempted to go the week before, but had to postpone the trip due to sickness.

We had a great time and saw a variety of birds including, wild turkey, bald eagle, osprey (a really big one), white ibis, glossy ibis, wood stork, egrets and herons of several varieties (including a beautiful great blue heron), kingfisher, pelicans and some blue-wing teal. We also saw a deer as we were leaving. Migrating butterflies were everywhere and we were able to see a really nice rainbow.

On Saturday, my wife and I went with some friends to see the Seminoles beat up on North Carolina State. It was a great game, even though the weather was a little wierd. We had a lightening delay of about 49 minutes, but when we re-entered the stadium, there was a beautiful double rainbow arching over the field. (I wonder if there is any significance in that? hmmm).

We had a wonderful day at church yesterday. There was a great spirit in the services and the fellowship was sweet. Last night we had several members share some scriptures that they had been reading and talk about what they were learning from the Word. It was really great and some edifying thoughts were brought out. On the way to church, we saw yet another rainbow, making it the first time in my life that I have seen rainbows on three consecutive days.

I also want to share with those of you who might be interested about a blog that some friends are running right now. Keith and Julie Parker and their son race are the son-in-law, daughter and grandson of Cleve and Judy Dixon who attend Pine Park Baptist Church. Keith recently graduated from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. They are in the process of adopting a little boy from Viet Nam. Julie is keeping a blog of their trip and the process. You can read about it here. Please keep this family in your prayers as they travel.

I hope you have a blessed day. Come back soon.

The Incredible Blackness Of the Human Heart

   With all of you, I have watched in horror for the last twenty-four hours as the awful events that have taken place at Virginia Tech University have unfolded. I have shaken my head at the senselessness of the whole ordeal. I have prayed for the friends, faculty and families of those involved.

   I have listened to the talking heads go on with their speculations, theories and queries. Almost immediately, it seems, people were trying to pin blame on the university administration and security for allowing the situation to escalate as it did. It is human nature,  I suppose, to try to find scapegoats upon which to place our grief and lack of understanding.

   I have listened to so-called “experts” analyze the situation, particularly the mind of the shooter, 23 year-old Cho Seung-Hui. I listened in amazent as one psychologist gave a diagnosis that was based entirely upon theory and guesswork at what might be found if a CAT scan was performed on the young man’s brain. He presented his thoughts that murderers had a different brain than “normal” folk. He had examined the brain scans of a number of murderers and stated that they seemed to have certain “abnormalities” that made them “vulnerable to violence.” His entire thesis was an effort to reassure those who heard him that their basic human goodness was still intact and that this shooter was some kind of deranged victim of a brain configuration that caused him to act the way he did.

   I am not an expert when it comes to matters of the human brain. My knowledge on the subject is limited to the facts that each of us has one and that we do not use it nearly as much as we should. The shooter may indeed have abnormalities in his brain that may have been contributing factors to this outburst of murderous mayhem, but his brain is not the root of the problem.

   The problem is his heart.

   The problem is the incredible blackness that sin produces in the human heart.

   When tragedies such as this occur, it is easy for us to try to identify with the victims, often to the point of feeling violated ourselves. We shed tears of compassion and commiseration. We may actually become sick to our stomach to think of the loss of precious lives. It is indeed sickening to see what sin has wrought in this situation. In one sense, this is a crime against all humanity.

   If we look hard enough, perhaps we can find some way to connect ourselves to these victims. It seems to make us feel better to do so.

   But one thing is for certain, each of us can identify with the shooter. Those words may produce a visceral reaction but they are the sordid truth. Every one of us has a heart that is blackened by the curse of sin. Given the proper series of circumstances and choices, any one of us is capable committing this heinous crime or worse. We can ignore and deny it, try to explain it away, but the truth remains, we are all sinners and there is only one antidote, the blood of Jesus.

   Think about it, the first sin that the Bible records is Adam and Eve partaking of the forbidden fruit. What is the second sin? Cain murdering his brother. Here are two sons from the same family, raised in the same manner. What was the difference? One of them chose to worship God, the other chose to worship self.

   When we put self on the throne of our lives, we remove the moral restraint that prevents us from being murderers, thieves, rapists and child molesters. We become more concerned with self-gratification than we do with obedience to God. His laws become inconsequential to us, our feelings become our prime directive.

   I look at this tragedy and feel incredible sympathy for the victims and their families. I am praying that the peace of God will enfold them and draw them close to Him. I see the utter bleakness of what has happened and realize that only God can bring healing to those who have been wounded so deeply.

   I look at the shooter and say, “There but for the grace of God, go I.”