Friday, July 31, 2009


It was on this day, July 31, 43 years ago that I confessed Christ to be my Savior. As I look back I think I had already believed that He was a week or two earlier, so I can't really say that this is my spiritual birthday. But that doesn't matter.

What matters is that I was fortunate enough to have someone (actually it was several people in my life at that time) explain in a way a ten year old boy could understand that I needed Jesus as my Savior to have everlasting life. Up to that point in life I was aware of Christianity in the sense that I believed God existed; that Jesus was His Son who lived, died and rose from the dead; that there was an eternity, etc.

But until I was ten no one had really explained to me that knowing facts about God and spiritual things wasn't enough. I had to make Him my God by believing - having complete faith and trust in His provision - in order to be one of His everlasting famly.

So thanks to the man who was my Sunday School teacher at the little Bible Baptist Church in Jacksonville, NC. I don't remember your name, but you taught the Bible in a way I could grasp it. And thanks to the pastor of that church, Walter Kirk for making sure I heard it from him, too in plain talk. I told Pastor Kirk that day, "I want to be saved". It's so gracious of God to not make it complicated.

Having Christ become my Savior at such a young age no doubt helped to spare me from who knows what I could have experienced in the years to follow. It really was a life-changing moment. And hanging my eternity on God's promise is one reason I am so excited to be part of a church that is overflowing with young families and children.

For of such is the kingdom of heaven!

Stop the presses! Extra! Extra!

With all that is going on in our world this is what we in the US deem to be front page news.

We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto.

Monday, July 27, 2009

If you pray, please remember this family.

I've asked for prayer for them in the past. I ask again now.
Little Stellan is again so critical.

Sunday Flashback

It was a great Sunday for lots of reasons. But I want to share one story from yesterday.

After one of the gatherings I was introduced to Butch. He's a young man from Ohio who is "special" in many ways. I wish we could keep him here.

Butch couldn't wait to tell me about his church, Hudson Community Chapel, and Pastor Joe. Obviously he is in love with the family of believers of which I suspect he is an intgral part. He gave me some printed info on the church; he told me when they meet for worship and let me know that Pastor Joe's sermons can be heard online in case I needed some help! (I love transparent people!)

I'll tell you this: If I lived in Hudson, OH, and met Butch on the street somewhere I would have to check out his church. It brought him (and me) great joy to tell me about what is so important in his life.

The truth, however is that in many environments Butch might not be taken very seriously. In a lot of places Butch might be overlooked because of some of his challenges. Some people might not think Butch has much to offer. There are some in our country who would even imply that perhaps Butch shouldn't have been born.

But I wish I could bottle what Butch has and give it away to everyone in our congregation. Why is it that so many of us with less difficulties find it almost foreign to share our joy and faith and exuberance with others without fear of rejection or failure? How can we possess all that comes with the salvation package yet not be overflowing with it?

I know the answer. It's because we are still wrapped up in ourselves. We're more motivated by what others think about us than what Jesus thinks. We think we're not qualified to share our story. We're full of excuses, aren't we?

Thanks Butch for being free to tell. How I wish that I could capture a little of what you have, for you have so very much. And great things are ahead in your future. What an ambassador you are!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Cowabunga indeed!

One body surfer died there yesterday.

I have nightmares of attempting to bodysurf 12 footers at 15th Street in Newport Beach as a teenager. A near-death experience that day. But no way would I have attempted the Wedge. Look, but don't touch. But it is amazing to watch.

More Wedge photos from this week's swell here.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sunday Flashback

Botts' Dots. Ever hear of them? You likely have if you live in California or were present in on of Nags Head Church's two worship gatherings Sunday.

Yesterday we moved in The Journey - Start to Finish (a series on the life of Moses) with a look at God giving His people the Law. In thundering out the Ten Commandments God established clear boundaries, which we all need, to help us stay in the right lane on the journey of life.

From more than one person I heard something like this yesterday: "I've never seen so many cars parked so far down the road!". It was super crowded. But I'll confess, I still am perplexed why so many people who come to church pull into the parking lot 5 minutes or less before the start of the gathering. But it's probably not really that perplexing. It seems in most churches (and the vast majority of those who come in late are guests) fellowship is the least of their priorities when meeting with the church.

Yet fellowship is one of the primary purposes for being part of God's family. So my encouragement to everyone is "Get there early!". Spend some time with others in the family. Practice for eternity! And the added benefit (at least at NHC) is that you'll find a closer parking place and get to choose where you'll sit.

A 74 year old first time guest made it a point to seek me out after church. I could tell this guy was full of joy. He made it known that our worship gathering was quite different from his home church, but with a smile said, "This was cool!" He then revealed that he fully understood why we're reaching young people at NHC. Rock on, dude!

Andy told me that Lil' K (our pre-school worship gathering) filled up quicker than ever Sunday and many had to be turned away. That's good news/bad news depending on how you see the glass. But there's hope coming soon. This week we'll get our rough-in inspection and be able to sheet rock the walls upstairs. God willing (and the funds come in) we'll be occupying our new Kid's Zone by Labor Day weekend.

Once again our Volunteers showed the meaning of Paul's words about the church in Ephesians 4 when he wrote that in the church it is necessary for everyone to do their part. When a church of 200 partners ministers on Sundays to 600+ it only happens because our volunteers get it. Service is the heartbeat of Christianity.

After church and lunch with the Staples, Nathan and Gwyneth I went to The Outer Banks Bear Factory and did some Christmas shopping for my two granddaughters. Then after a quick visit to the fire house to see Tom Watson fizzle I was back at NHC for Burnie's "Discovering My Mission" class. Good stuff!! And a great bunch of "students", too.

Finally the long day was capped with the wedding of one of our missionaries and a reception cruise in the sound. Congrats to Emily and Camas! A most beautiful waterfont wedding.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Outer Banks Bear Factory this Sunday

Larry and Helen Czernik, owners of the Outer Banks Bear Factory are doing something pretty cool next Sunday!

I guess with a couple of granddaughters I'll be buying some bears!

(And yes, that is Tricia and Gwyneth in the video.)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sunday Flashback

One of the purposes of our church is missions - taking the message and love of Christ to those who don't yet knowing Him. Many have never heard who Christ is; and many who have heard have never seen anyone demonstrate that Gospel in tangible ways.

Purposes need to be taught and often, keeping them fresh in our hearts and minds. So today we zeroed in on missions. Our music was about living the Gospel from the inside out in real ways. And our message was delivered in the form of an interview with Matt and Sylvie Glock, part of our global team in France.

We've used this method of for a while now, whenever our missionaries come "home" to spend time with us. Matt and Sylvie are part of our church family, and well known by our flock. Yet, with the growth we've had, many had not met or heard from them since their last visit 2 years ago. They shared their calling and how God has been working through them in the two churches with whom they serve. Thanks Matt and Sylvie for what you do and the excellence with how you do it.

We had lots of glitches in the first gathering, starting with me turning the order of things upside down (unintentionally!), and then a couple of software crashes with our video. Sometimes that happens! But fortunately it's rare.

At 9:00 the Pam and Juan Johnson dedicated themselves and their 3 new children from Ethiopia, Zoe, Davis and Justin to the Lord. What a great picture of the Spirit of adoption that makes it possible for us to be His children. God bless the Johnsons and all 7 of their adopted children. We'll miss them as they move away to VA soon.

Big summer crowds continue, but this year we're seeing less out of town vacationers and more locals seeking and checking us out. Another full house twice this morning, and that always adds more energy, especially in the singing.

Chris gave way this morning on the drums to his son Alex. He didn't fall far from the tree! Great job. And thanks to our intern Matt for more than ably filling in on the bass.

What? Only one infant in the nursery at 9:00!! Then at 11 they were slammed! Oh well. Our nursery team rocks. And today there were some new staff in there, which is always encouraging.

Did it seem to anyone else that we're becoming the church of choice of Dare Co. EMS and Sheriff's Depts? Welcome to all of you who are coming.

BTW, we had our first inspection on our new construction Friday. It went well. Before we know it, our new Kid's Zone will open up, creating lots more space for childrens' ministries.

This afternoon I took "Discovering My Ministry", one of five classes we offer in NHCU. It's part of our strategy for developing disciples. I took the class years ago, and got in today as a refresher. Everyone needs refreshing! Great class; great job teaching from our Ministries Pastor Tom Lee.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Sunday Flashback

I was really tired this morning, even as our first worship gathering was about to begin. A late night, returning from Ocracoke at 1230AM overpowered my coffee at the Pier. But the first worship song "Lord, You Are Good (and your mercy endureth forever)" woke me up!

Several people commented on how well everything flowed today in our gatherings. It's great when all the pieces of the puzzle come together to create a beautiful picture. When people realize that it takes prayer and work to put it all together - that we value giving God our best - that's a real encouragement.

We've never served communion to that many people at once since we don't typically have communion on Sunday mornings. So kudos to Mike H. and his team. They worked out all the logistics with precision. Both gatherings were full. Thanks to Ocean View and Kitty Hawk Baptist churches for loaning us extra communion trays! We own enough to serve about 200, but we had about 300 in each gathering. Thanks, too, to volunteers whose willingness to serve made it come together so well - from those who prepared the bread and the cups to the guys in both gatherings doing the serving and to Pastor Tom for leading us to the Lord's Table. Great job.

Exodus 19 tells how God expected Israel to prepare themselves for meeting with God. It worked well with our preparation for meeting Him in communion. God is a personal God who desires to meet with us. At the same time we can't come to Him on our terms. That requires a role reversal that He won't concede. And rightly so.

The Glocks (our missionaries to France) are in town! Also Sheila Benson was there. (Larry is home sick.) They're home from their mission in Honduras for the month. And Dale Hamilton, home for a brief break was in church today. He returns to Iraq Thursday.

Different band set up today, minus the keyboard. We're down to one keyboard player right now, and she deserved the week off. But we had two electric guitars going and the sound was...electric! The new acoustic panels and reappearance of the drum screen allowed Michelle to to magic with Chris' instruments. The kick drum was amazing. So that's how it's supposed to sound. (Now, if we can only crank up the bass a bit...) Songs were right on target about the cross. I love it when we do an old hymn like today's "Jesus Paid It All" with the band. And David Crowder's "Oh the Glory of It All" has been a great "theme song" for this series. Then they sent us off with "Let the Praises Ring!"

I was able to catch a good nap this afternoon! Thanks, God. I needed that. Now I'm about to enjoy a cup of decaf from The Front Porch.

Please consider praying for the people of Ocracoke Island. Yesterday's tragedy there will deeply impact their tiny population. I met some very brave but shaken heroes last night. And also pray for the families of those who died in that horrific explosion.

[The linked song videos were not from today, but pre-recorded from earlier NHC worship gatherings except for the David Crowder link.]

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Birthday USA

Celebrating the birth of the greatest nation on earth.

Praying for her to return to the God of her Fathers.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Idol Worship

In America we aren't superstitious or religious like many other, especially 3rd World countries where you can find statues and likenesses of gods in temples and churches or along the roads in shrines engraved into the sides of mountains. In America we're far too cultured and secular. In America we're Christians...well most of us claim to be.

So you won't find us worshipping idols; bowing down to them. We're far too sophisticated.

Until one of them dies. Then our true religion comes to the forefront and it seems we can't get enough.