Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sunday Flashback

Sunday on a Christmas weekend. Lots of our folks are still "over the river and through the hills", but while the attendance (particularly at 9) was down, the spirit was high!

Thanks to the MP13 Band for keeping Christmas in our hearts with a couple of songs about the coming of the Lord. Chris Tomlin's version of "Joy to the World" just makes a great song even better. All told, the music today was top notch and as I watched from my vantage point on the front row left I could tell the worship was heart-felt.

I'll miss the decorations when they come down in the next few days. Set against our black background, the trees, lights, packages and bows pop! As one guest said, a "visual treat".

I started a series today that will take us through the month of January from Isaiah 55. There, the Lord is telling Judah what it will take after they return from 70 years in Bablylonian captivity to become again the holy people of God. And He invites the Gentiles to join in. All this was 190 years before the event.

Our focus today was on verse 6 - the heart of the passage. "Seek the Lord while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near." With "seek" being the verb it is telling us that we can't move from point A to point B passively. And the thought that God may not always be "near" to aid us is a scary thought.

Tammy S., one of our newest partners also shared with us about her mission in Nepal, where she'll be building an orphanage in a remote area. First, she goes to Thailand to get training in a machine that will be used to make the bricks! We committed to praying for Tammy's safety and for her witness of the Gospel to a culture with hundreds of gods.

So as we move into a new year, let's evaluate the old and take whatever steps are needed to grow.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 25, 2009

And the best is yet to come!

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us.
And the government will rest on his shoulders.
These will be his royal titles:
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

His ever expanding, peaceful government will never end.
He will rule forever with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David.
The passionate commitment of the LORD Almighty will guarantee this!

The Prophet Isaiah
c. 700 BC

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Ebb and Flow of Life

My racquetball game got interrupted today. A police officer was on his way to the Y where I was playing to get me to accompany him to make a death notification - one of my roles as a chaplain in public safety.

Often when someone has died suddenly, unexpectedly or violently (as was this case), next of kin, if they are in another location, are notified by their local police who have been contacted by law enforcement at the scene of the death. Telling someone, even a stranger, such news is always sad. That is is 3 days before Christmas even magnifies the pain.

Thankfully, however, death is only one end of our existence. At the other end of the scale is birth, and as making a death notification is painful, receiving a birth announcement is joyous.

While we were tracking down the next of kin I received a phone call from a close friend that her daughter had just given birth to their first grandchild! Her joy was in stark contrast to the misson I was undertaking at the time.

That's life. The Bible's Job understood more clearly than most when he said about God, "He gives and takes away. Blessed be His name."

Thursday, December 17, 2009

How Can It Be?

The mystery of the humanity of Christ, that He sunk Himself into our flesh, is beyond all human understanding.

- Martin Luther

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sunday Flashback

Today was the 2nd message in our Christmas series "Christmas in Our Hearts". We're taking a look at our Christmas traditions and how to ensure they allow us to worship and celebrate the birth of the Savior, but how to use them to teach and reach. This morning my message was about our tradition of Christmas carols and songs.

If all we had at Christmas were our songs - no decorations, no cards or gifts or movies to watch - would our songs be enough? Hope it gave us all something to think about.

Our "Contagious" youth band opened up our worship this morning - their first time in "big church", and they did great! They taught us a song they do at our youth group called "We Shine" and then did an awesome rendition of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" that totally rocked. It's so great to see teenagers leading worship and serving the church.

Again we showed a video from Advent Conspiracy. Along with that movement, we're collecting winter coats to give out Friday night to those in need in our community, taking an offering this month for foreign missions and will be providing the meal and serving at our local "soup kitchen" later this month. Friday night at our Christmas Concert (Unspeakable Joy!) we took up an offering for a local church that sustained a fire a few days before Thanksgiving. The spirit of giving and serving is never so strong, it seems, than at Christmastime.

Like most churches, this time of the year finds us with several MIA partners due to sickness. Get well soon! But it's so great to see others stepping up to be sure the gaps are filled. Team spirit is something we find both a spiritual sign of maturity and also something we value greatly.

After church we had lunch with our son and daughter and their families, then went together to visit grandma in her new digs. She's moved into an assisted living home that is really great! Her only complaint is that they give her more food than she can eat!

Tonight we're visiting with visiting missionary friends Larry and Sheila for pizza and I'm sure, lots of laughs.

BTW, Friday night's concert played to a full house and was most excellent! My son, Nathan, who is our worship leader has done a fantastic job pulling together a great band and a choir that knocked it out of the park. Lots of new Christmas music as well as new renditions of the old. It was incredible. Next year we'll do it twice!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Remember Pearl Harbor

Before the day passes I want to say "Thank you" to those who served our country on Dec. 7, 1941 at Pearl Harbor, HI.

Few of you remain. We owe much to your generation.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sunday Flashback

This first Sunday in December felt like winter is arriving! And I think the colder temps kept people sleeping in, because the 9AM gathering wasn't nearly as well-attended at the 11 o'clock. It's tough getting out of bed on these chilly mornings!

This morning kicked off a new series "Christmas in Our Hearts". We all have Christmas traditions. Our take in this series is how our traditions can and, I believe, should pass on the celebration of Christ's birth to future generations, and point those who don't yet know Him to Him.

The Worship Choir joined the MP13 Band to start off the morning with a couple of great contemporary Christmas songs, including "Gloria" (I can't escape the line in that song that asks 'How could heaven's heart not break on the day that you came?') and a new song from Chris Tomlin, "My Soul Magnifies the Lord", taking lyrics from Mary's prayer in Luke 1 and Isaiah's prophecies that His name would be called "Wonderful, Counselor.." It may be one of the greatest Christmas songs this generation has produced.

At the end of my talk I asked the congregation to respond by bringing the names of friends and family who need to know Christ up to an "altar" of Christmas gift-wrapped boxes. This is the season for us to give ourselves to others. Everyone who participated wrote the name of someone they care for on a Christmas gift tag and affixed it to the boxes while the band played "You Gave Your Life Away". This is the most wonderful time of the year to share Christ with others.

Via video we were challenged to join in with The Advent Conspiracy and make our Christmas count. Did you know that Americans spend $450 BILLION on Christmas gifts? Check out their site.

Each Sunday I am amazed that God can use me, especially when I know my own failures and imperfections. Today was one of those days. His grace is amazing and His faithfulness uncompromised.

Have a Merry Christmas! Let it joy begin. In excelsis Deo!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Christmas Series Starts Sunday

Wish Me a Merry Christmas!

Can Christians just sit back and allow the politically correct and secular whims of a culture moving farther away from our moorings to secularize the birth of Christ?

Here's a movement that says they shouldn't.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Tiger Woods' Wreck and Refusal to Talk

It's none of our business.

Sunday Flashback

I'm late getting this out because Sunday was unexpectedly busy.

A priority at Nags Head Church is global missions. That's part of our passion and purpose. So when we have the opportunity to have members of our Global Team (missionaries) visit, we love to have them share what God is doing in their part of the world.

Yesterday John and Cindy Peterson, with Campus Crusade for Christ spent the morning with us. They've been part of our team since 1985, and have served in the US, Ukraine and Hungary. Now they are in leadership positions stateside working with student leaders and faculty in universities in the southeast.

One of the fun things we've done in the past two or three years is to interview our Global Team mates in our worship gatherings. It allows them a relaxed opportunity to share their hearts, passions and burdens with us in a personal way. Our folks seem to really love it. And so do our missionaries!

The MP13 Band put together a great package of new and old, along with songs that speak of our need to be sent out to a needy world. I'm looking forward to this Sunday and a month of Christmas music.

Following the second gathering we baptized three Christ-followers, making four for the week. One, converted from Islam, was baptized on Thanksgiving Day. In the colder months we usually find an indoor place to baptize since we like to take this celebration out to the public. The water in the YMCA pool was just right! I don't have any numbers, but it seems to me that we've seen more men and women follow Christ in this first step of discipleship than any year I can remember. God is at work!

On a personal note, with all three of our kids and spouses in town we got the chance to get in some new family photos (including the grandgirls) at the beach Sunday afternoon. I'm looking forward to them.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

"Overflow with Thanksgiving"

Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. And they lifted up their voices and said, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’” (Luke 17:11-13)

They were on the border where two cultures converged. The Jews were God’s chosen people - steeped in tradition and knowledge of God’s Law. Their survival as a people was testimony to God’s covenant relationship with them. The Samaritans were looked upon with disdain by the Jews. They were considered Gentiles, although they were actually biracial, a mixture of Jewish and non-Jewish heritage. Cultural norms prevented the two cultures to intermingle. Racial segregation was the norm.

Luke records that existing outside a border town were ten lepers, infected with a disease that slowly disfigured people as their flesh rotted away. Because of the horrible physical effects of the disease and its possibility of spreading, lepers were legally exiled from residing within the town limits.

It was commonly thought by most in both cultures that leprosy was some sort of punishment from God for evil. Lepers were outcasts socially, dying physically and felt rejected spiritually because of their disease. Their meeting with Jesus changed all that for them.

These ten, outcast from their friends and families, found each other and formed their own pitiful community. As Jesus approached the gates to their town they didn’t dare come near to Him because of the law. But here was an opportunity they couldn’t let pass. Keeping their distance they called out to Him to show them mercy.

In His compassion He simply told them to go to the priest, before they were healed. To return to society a leper first had to go to the local priest for an examination. With simple yet amazing faith they did as He said and as they walked, and with every step their diseased skin and limbs were being healed. By that by the time they found a priest they were disease free.

One of the ten, a Samaritan, not a Jew, sensing his healing take place turned around to go back to Jesus to thank Him. He fell down on the ground before Jesus and worshipped Him. The other nine? Maybe they thought about coming back after seeing the priest to give thanks. Maybe they were too excited about reuniting with their families and friends again that they hurried to the priest and wouldn’t take the time to stop and give thanks.

Jesus told this one that his faith had made him well. But the others were healed, too, right? And they were healed because of their faith, too, right? Yes. They simply believed Jesus and by acting on that faith their leprosy was healed. So what’s the difference between them and him?

Our faith that saves us, gives us eternal life and forgives our sins is simple belief that Jesus is the Son of God who died and rose again to be our Savior. But apparently that faith that saves us should also prompt us to be thankful. There’s something about being thankful that says we genuinely appreciate what God has done for us. Those other men were healed, but this man was healed beyond his skin disease. He showed that his heart was healed as well. His faith was followed with an action of worship and thanks.

Paul wrote to the church at the city of Colossae these words in Colossians 2:7b: “Let your lives overflow with thanksgiving for all he has done.” When a container overflows it spills its contents on everything around. What a great witness it would be, for those of us who were healed by faith in Christ of our sin disease to be so thankful that it spills over on our neighbors and co-workers and friends.

We’re lepers – all of us. Wouldn’t it be great if more than ten percent of us allowed our thanks to overflow and share the life-changing power of Christ’s grace?

Monday, November 23, 2009


One student to an eighth grader: “Are you Italian?” (Her last name makes no doubt about her Italian heritage. I point out her grade to show she’s not in kindergarten.) “No. What’s [Italian]?”

I spent two days substitute teaching at the local Alternative High School last week. All the students are considered highly “at-risk”. They’ve either failed academically or socially in the “normal” schools, and the alternative school is the last hope to keep them in school and work toward a diploma.

As I observed their behavior these two days I couldn’t help but wonder how they arrived here. Where are their parents? For most, the answer is they’re at home. But what broke down, or perhaps better when did the break down occur in their culture resulting in the byproduct before me?

Some of these kids, I’m told, are in abusive homes. Most, I suspect, are in negligent homes at best, which is another form of abuse. Some have criminal records. And now here they are - adolescents with little hope of lasting in the real world that is rapidly spinning their way. Most will wind up being supported by “the system”. (Our tax dollars at work.)

I see the problem. The question that disturbs me is “Is there anything I can do to stem this tide; to make a difference?” Probably not for these kids. Pessimistic but realistic. The faculty and administration here are trying hard, but it doesn’t take long to read the futility in their eyes and voices. Banging your head against a wall can do that. But I can try.

But what about the kids coming up behind them – the ones in pre-school and elementary school who are still moldable? Is the long range solution to focus on the kids or on the parents who produce them?

Wait a second. These kids will be the next generation of parents. Some already are.

“What grade did you fail?” “A bunch of them. Second grade, third grade, tenth grade…I can’t help it.”

If I didn’t believe in miracles I’d be really depressed right now.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday Flashback

I'm on vacation this week (at home), and after finishing a long series last Sunday I am taking a couple Sundays off from my preaching duties. So this morning's worship gatherings were a great time to just worship!

Andy brought a message about the importance of not being ignorant of the strategies Satan uses to defeat believers in Christ. In the past when Andy has done the teaching we've usually finished early. Not today! Both gatherings went a bit "over time". I feel vindicated!

Great worship music was provided again by the Milepost 13 Band. They introduced a new song today, "To Know Your Name" that was most excellent. One thing I appreciate about Nathan's leadership is the great new music he's able to find and bring to us.

After the second gathering we had lunch (provided by our hospitality team) with a group ready to take the plunge and join us. That's always an exciting time to meet with them and hear their faith stories. And next Sunday several will obey Christ's command and be baptized, publicly announcing their life-changing faith.

Tonight was our annual church conference when we come together to adopt a budget for the coming year. Our budget is a reflection of the vision God has given us for ministry and outreach. What a great meeting! In the midst of this recession God has shown Himself to be more than faithful to us. So we're trusting God for even greater things.

No doubt the best thing I experienced today was meeting a young Muslim man from the middle east who has been reading and studying the Bible for the past two years. He has become convinced Jesus is the Son of God and the way to the Father, and while visiting American friends here, wants to go public with his faith through baptism. He shared with us that if he did this in his home country he would be killed. I'm humbled just to hear his story and the joy he has in knowing Jesus.

In many ways this has been a trying week as we trudge through life. But God continues to show us that even through all the junk we sometimes must deal with, He can give perfect peace and do amazing things.

He's also giving us great opportunities to share with some in our community who are struggling with meals provided by our church and The Black Pelican.

If you're on the Outer Banks for Thanksgiving please join us Wednesday night for an evening of Thanksgiving Worship at 7PM.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Manhattan Declaration

WASHINGTON — A diverse group of Christian leaders joined together Nov. 20 to declare a commitment to defend the sanctity of human life, biblical marriage and religious liberty without compromise.

Read more here.

Where do I sign?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunday Flashback

(Note: I've missed entering these posts the last few weeks and have been chastised for it!)

After a major weather event the wind has died down, the seas are calming (slowly) and the sun is back out. It was good to be back together for worship after such a dreary week.

Today was "Shoebox Dedication Day" for us. For 15 years Nags Head Church has participated in Samaritan's Purse's Operation Shoebox. This year we promoted it a bit more by using some of the excellent videos they provide each week for the past few weeks and by encouraging everyone to bring in their shoeboxes today. Burnie Staples, our Missions Pastor, explained the purpose behind the shoeboxes and introduce a powerfully gripping video story that illustrated how these simple gifts open doors to sharing the Gospel with children around the world.

The MP13 Band then stepped up and played "The Power of Your Name", Lincoln Brewster's challenge to confront the world's needs with Christ. And while they were playing those with shoeboxes brought them to the front, presenting them to the Lord. Burnie then led us in a prayer of dedication that the boxes would not only bring joy, but bring the Gospel. It was a powerful moment as we realized God can use little things to accomplish wonders.

My message today was the finale of "The Journey - Tracking the Life of Moses". I gathered comments from emails and our church blog on the lessons we learned from Moses' life and we listened to Buddy and Aleena read them as they were projected on our screen for all to read. It was rich. You can listen in, not only to today's message (which should be up by mid-week) but to the entire series on our podcast.

I met several first time guests today. A couple I knew. Another was invited by one of our ladies in the parking lot of CVS last week.

At the end of my message I also shared a story about going through the motions but never experiencing new birth. One of our ladies realized that her new life began a few years ago, and now wants to celebrate it with baptism. It's going to surprise a lot of people! But how many very religious people have never truly believed?

Great day today. Now I'll take the next two Sundays off to prepare a new Christmas series to follow.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

This week say "Happy Birthday" and "Thanks"

"Happy Birthday" to the United States Marine Corps, founded on November 10, 1775, and our oldest branch of the military. From the Halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli they continue to be the few and the proud. Find a Marine and say "Happy Birthday", whether he/she is active duty or not. Once a Marine always a Marine. Semper Fi.

"Thanks" to anyone who has ever served our country's armed forces on Wednesday, Veterans Day. We should be more aware of their duty and sacrifice than ever before with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan coupled with the tragic killings last week at Ft. Hood. God bless all who have served. Maybe you can find a local Veterans Day ceremony and show your support with your attendance.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Planned Parenthood Director Resigns After Viewing Ultrasound of Abortion Procedure

The truth will set you free.

Here's the link to the video story.

That's more than biological tissue being removed.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hulk Hogan?

I don't keep up with this kind of stuff...really. I don't find much redeeming value in today's pop culture celebrities and their escapades. But I came upon this interview and was surprised by what I heard.

If you watch it, hang in for the second half. That's where he says some things that caught my attention.

Here's the link to the interview.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Happy Birthday Gail!

Every day you're special! Hope you enjoy this one.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Hey Blue! What Game Are You Watching?

Nobody's perfect. Let's start with that. We all make mistakes. Some are inconsequential, but some can ruin lives.

Baseball is a game. It's not life and death. But it is also a game of rules. Without the rules it would, like anything else be nothing but chaos. Last night's Yankees-Angels game got pretty chaotic.

I can easily understand an umpire missing a bang-bang play at a base, or calling a pitch traveling at nearly 100 MPH on the edge of the strike zone a ball happens. A throw arriving from 300 feet away to be caught and then applied to a sliding runner arriving at the same moment can be a difficult at best. Wearing blue can be a tough job.

It's even tougher when a stadium full of fans and millions more watching on television know that among the foundational rules of the game is that if you're not on the base you're not safe, and everyone in the universe sees it happen but the umpire standing feet away.

As the catcher Napoli applied both tags I screamed, "Double play!" (I'm pulling for the Halos, but my hope level is pretty low right now). I thought I saw a most unusual double play. Two runners, neither touching third base were tagged out by the catcher. I know I saw it. So did you if you watched the game. And that's the rule. Both guys are out. It wasn't close. A Little League umpire would have made the right call.

But not last night. It was in so many ways a less than perfect game. But it's just a game.

There is an Umpire who gets every call right every time. He never misses a play. His strike zone is consistently the same. He not only knows the rules, He wrote them. Arguing His calls does no good because He always wins.

Grace is a great thing.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ed and Edith are on the Pulpit Search Committee

In the Baptist tradition a "pulpit search committee" is given the task of finding suitable candidates for filling an open pastoral position in a church.

Below is a composite from real advertisements in a Baptist paper. I find them both amusing and typically sad. How did both Ed and Edith get elected to this committee?

First Baptist Church is seeking a full time pastor to lead and love our congregation. We are seeking an energetic and innovative minister who can recognize the untapped potential of influence in our community and restore our church to its vibrant past. The prospective minister should possess strong pulpit and leadership abilities and have a heart for the community. The prospective pastor should have excellent communication skills and work well with others.

We are looking for a strong leader who has passion for children’s ministries and missions and will show compassion for our elderly church members. Local residence requested. We are seeking a pastor with vision, leadership, and administrative ability to guide us to become the missional church we strive to be.

The successful candidate will have graduated from an accredited seminary. Preference will be given to candidates who have obtained a doctorate.

What I found so telling is that of the seven ads for pastors in this particular issue only one mentioned any sort of spiritual qualification, and that was "a spiritually mature, Christ-led pastor". Even more telling was that this was the only one of the seven that did not specify candidates possess at least a masters degree from an accredited seminary. How does education trump godliness? (FYI, I have no problem with being a seminary graduate. I are one.)

There's nothing wrong with seeking a pastor who can lead, communicate, is visionary, etc. But are those primary or secondary to having a growing spiritual life? And the comment about restoring the church to it's vibrant past...

How about "Looking for a pastor who's life models the qualifications found in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1"?

But nothing Ed and Edith do surprises me anymore.

Friday, October 9, 2009

What's Geography Got to Do With It?

This morning I enjoyed 3 games of racquetball. Played doubles with 3 guys I've played with before. It was a good workout.

One of the guys has been careful in the past to curtail his language when we've played. It's not been something I've requested. But I think he has just tried to be "respectful". Until today!

After a while I said (with a smile), "Man, if words beginning with the letters "S" and "F" were removed from your vocabulary you'd be a mute!"

His response? "I can't help it. I'm from Jersey." I have to add, I've heard that same line before from others.

I happen to know some folks from New Jersey who aren't potty mouthed and rude. So someone help me understand why your home state gives you license to be offensive.

Maybe it's too much time on the Turnpike?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sunday Flashback

It's one of those absolutely perfect days in October on the Outer Banks. But it began with a great morning at Nags Head Church. And the 9AM crowd woke up!

Dale Hamilton is back from a year in Iraq! We're glad to have him home. Mark and Sue Burns came home for a quick visit from FL. We really do miss them. And there were 4 young Chinese students in church visiting friends from NHC they met last year in China in a student exchange.

It was great to have Nathan healthy and back up leading the band and worship today. We're so spoiled with the quality of the musicians God has brought here. But it's not just that they're good, they lead us as they worship. And that's the difference between performers and worshipers.

Two videos were used today. One to promote Trunk or Treat. Last year's event drew some 2000 kids and parents to our facility. The second I used at the start of my message "Nip it in the Bud", about negative criticism. Both are up on Youtube.

I saw some faces this morning I haven't seen in church in a long time. That's always a positive thing. God is indeed into second chances, as we saw this morning in Numbers 11.

We're getting so close to finishing the new Kids Zone upstairs. This last week the carpet was installed, some base trim and door trim installed and the shower tiled. This week we hope the lights come in. The plumber can install the fixttures; the HVAC guys wrap it up and the foyer floor tiled. Our hope is to give tours to visiting families at our annual Trunk or Treat on the 31st. The kids are going to love it up there. And we'll get to use our admin area for what it was intended.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sunday Flashback

(It's about's Tuesday already...)

The past few weeks we've had a homeless fellow worshipping with us at NHC. In some locales, especially in urban churches that might not be unusual. But we really don't have many homeless here (I know of two), so for us it's a "new" experience. He shows up early, parks his bike and the "trailer" with his belongings out by our picnic table, gets out his Bible and enjoys a cup of coffee before the gathering begins.

A couple of weeks ago he made the comment to me that "This is where God wants me right now". I have no argument with that. So I'm watching from a distance to see how he is received by the flock. James 2:1-13 is the background support for my observations. I'm looking to see if grace, mercy and hospitality is being shown across the board.

Sunday's message from Numbers 11 perked up a lot of ears. Who among us hasn't complained to God about how life is going? I gave these three points from the stories there on how to avoid being a whiner:
1. Learn to be content.
2. Listen to godly influencers.
3. Lift one another's burdens.

At the 11AM Gathering something else got our attention! Just as I was talking about God's anger about their whining and His response to it, suddenly it thundered. Eyes (including mine) got big! Hello! It couldn't have happened at a better moment.

It was a great worship morning. But I think the 9:00 crowd needs to either get up a bit earlier or be sure they get tanked up on caffeine! It took them a while to loosen up.

I was glad to see a pastor friend and his wife from another community worshipping with us on vacation. They've been through some rough waters at their church (it's full of Eds and Ediths), but they're seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. He came up to me afterward and gave me a big hug. He was "blessed" he said to have been there.

I hope we all were.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Happy Birthday Rachel!

Your first one as a mom!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Soap Box

"Praying" about obeying words that come from the mouth of God is a cop out. Think about it..."Dear God, do you want me to do what you just told me to do?". I have NEVER understood Christians who hear the Word and respond with "I'll pray about doing it".

It may sound spiritual to say "I'm praying about it", but really it's just disobedience.

Soap box over.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Presidential Dictionary

It seems American Presidents speak a different language than the people they serve. Or maybe they just have their own dictionary. Have you noticed that?

For example, (and let's be fair and balanced here) we can go back in my recent memory to Richard "I am not a crook" Nixon. How do you define "crook"? Wasn't Watergate a break in and didn't segments of incriminating Oval Office audio tape vanish?

Bill Clinton's struggles, too, with American English are well documented. He was unsure of the words "is" and "sexual relations". Wonder how he would fare on "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader"? I'll bet they know what "sexual relations" are.

George W. Bush had a different understanding of the word "accomplished" (as in "mission accomplished") than the populace. We still don't have a clue as to where Osama Bin Ladin is hiding or how to get him. We do have modifiers in our language that could have helped such as, "somewhat" or "partially".

Our current President is confused over a word that we hope he would know well: "tax".

What is it about living in the White House that renders men with above average intelligence suddenly ignorant of simple words?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sunday Flashback

A picture perfect weather day on the OBX, with the exception of a still strong NE breeze keeping the ocean stirred up. But we had a back up plan for our baptism today and went to the sound instead. Five believers in Jesus proclaimed their new life by rising from a watery "grave". It's always a great moment of celebration for NHC.

Nathan is in recovery from his surgery on Monday so the MP 13 carried on superbly without his leadership. It was good to see him attending at 9:00. They're quite the capable team. The songs focused on being in Christ and His glorious presence, which is where the message from Exodus 33 took us.

Although we've been telling Moses' story now for 24 weeks, each new step in his journey brings us fresh insights into our own. Today was about staying as close as possible to God. That's where He wants us to be. But, as Israel learned, disobedience can remove us from that place.

The Kidmo kids got into it in the room behind us, especially at the 9:00 Gathering. I could see the looks on guests' faces as they wondered why the kids were screaming so loud! In the next few weeks they should be moving into the new Kids Zone upstairs and I know they can't wait.

After the baptism I had lunch with Gail, who is up in the air somewhere between here and Las Vegas. She says she's going to a wedding convention. Then Gwyneth came over to play for the afternoon with her dad and later her mom. We watched the Redskins win a pretty boring game and the Steelers lose a good one to da Bears. Pizza courtesy of Papa Johns.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Race Card

(I'm thinking like Jimmy Carter here, so bear with me.)

If you stop and ponder it, our nation was founded on racism. After all, at the original Tea Party a bunch of white guys dressed up like Indians when they turned Boston Harbor into Earl Grey soup. Wonder what Jimmy C. thinks about them?

Where's Billy when you need some sage wisdom? Would you please pass me a piece of that peanut butter pie? Forget the politics. Let's get a softball game going here.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday Flashback

Today was the final day of a 4 day reunion I've been attending at my alma mater. Some 300 of us who were involved in youth ministry during our college years from 1971 to 1980 gathered for the first time since then. It was enriching in many ways, relationally and spiritually renewing.

Part of the reunion involved attending the worship service at Thomas Road Baptist Church. About 100 of the group had rehearsed an old song they were requested to sing and did an amazing job with it. Our leader, Gordon Luff led the "choir" and had to be about to explode with emotion. TRBC has indeed come a long way since I last attended there in 1977. Their new pastor, Jonathan Falwell is doing a great job.

After that service my friend Richard from CA and I grabbed breakfast then went to worship at Blue Ridge Community Church, which is where my brother Scott and his family are partners. Scott was playing in the band today and I've been wanting to sit in on this cutting edge church. The whole experience was great.

After hanging out with Scott and Julie in their home for a while we hit a local Mexican restaurant for a late lunch/early dinner. Then back to the LU campus to pick up a couple of things for my granddaughters.

Word is that things back home went so well that I should take another week off. Sounds great to me!!

A chapter closed today

Today my Aunt Nita was buried next to her husband, parents and sister. She died Thursday after a long illness. It was her time and she was ready.

In November Aunt Nita would have been 99 years old. Think of all the changes she has seen in her lifetime. It's mind-boggling.

The last of her generation in our family, she was a great little (I don't think she ever quite made it to five feet tall) lady with quite the sense of humor. Laughing at things she said and did was great sport in our family, from her fondness for burnt toast to her calling team mates Andruw and Chipper Jones when they were on the Braves "salt and pepper".

I guess her death moves me up one more step on the ladder to the position of "next to the oldest generation". There's a sobering thought.

Last night at the reunion I'm attending I heard the word "legacy" mentioned more than once. That's an important concept to me - leaving behind a legacy. I heard it put this way (reminding me of what we used to say as Boy Scouts about our campground): "Leave it better than you found it."

Aunt Nita did. Any life she touched was the better for it. I hope the same will be said of me, whether my time is now at 54 or (heaven help my children) at 98.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Find a way to remember and say "Thanks" today, Sept. 11

Stop by a fire station, police station or rescue squad to say "Thanks". And fly your flag at half mast today.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


I'm at the age when reunions are in vogue. You know, before the memory totally fades away it is good to come back together with friends from those "thrilling days of yesteryear". (5 points to the old timer who can pinpoint the origin of that quote.) We're literally coming from around the world.

This week I'm converging with a couple hundred others who together were pioneers in a fledgling college and were trailblazing an innovative major in church related ministry. Most of us haven't been together for over 30 years. But it is very much a special group. The ties that bind are still strong.

My guess is they're all old. But knowing this group, they'll still be a lot of fun. You have to be partly insane to want to work with adolescents. For some I'm sure the flame still burns brightly. For others maybe not.

So we'll stay up way past our bedtimes reminiscing about those good old days, showing off pics of our kids and grandkids and wondering how the time has flown by so quickly. Then before we know it we'll be back to reality.

But escaping, even for a brief time will be good.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Bully Pulpit

That's what Teddy Roosevelt called the presidency. When the man at the top speaks, people listen.

Tomorrow our president will address the nation's public school students, encouraging them to strive for excellence; to be responsible; to stay in school; to listen to the adults in their lives. I read the speech and it's my opinion that here is good use of the bully pulpit.

Especially among the black American community President Obama is a role model, as is his family. I find it refreshing that he is communicating with our student population (although my guess is he'll lose the younger ones quickly) about being their best.

But I do have a question. Will the liberals like the ACLU renounce his speech because (in our public schools!!) he will say the words, "God bless you and God bless America"? I think not; at least not this time.

I'll be doing some substitute teaching this year in our public schools. I wonder what response I would get if at the end of each class I said goodbye to the students with a "God bless you"? Now that our president has set the precedent, I just may give it a whirl.

But because I speak from a different pulpit I think I'll get censured. What do you think?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Sunday Flashback

This was one of those long Sundays, but a whole lot of fun.

It began in earnest with our two worship gatherings. A holiday weekend on the Outer Banks means extra guests with us at church. Several came up to talk after the gatherings to let me know how much they appreciate the ministry and worship and spirit of the church. That's always an encouragement!

Mike and Tina H. were MIA today due to sickness in the family. They both are big time volunteer leaders in our Kids and First Impressions teams. But they're such good leaders that their absence, although noticed, didn't cause a hiccup as far as I could see. That's one sign of solid leadership. The troops can carry on when you're down.

I tried my best today to condense the Tabernacle and Ark of the Covenant into one Sunday message. My purpose wasn't to get into the details, although that's an incredibly rich study, but to put a handle on worship. Here were my main points:
1. God's Desire is to Dwell Among His People
2. Worship Begins with Sacrifice
3. The Design for Worship Belongs to God

Then I made several practical and contemporary applications. After all, we don't have a Tabernacle or an Ark. We don't have a pillar of smoke or fire or altars and animal sacrifices.
1. If my life's activities are a wheel, worship is the hub.
2. Worship always takes me into the presence of God.
3. Jesus Christ is the only one worthy of my worship.
4. God's dwelling place is me!

God gave us perfect weather today for a church picnic. It was a huge turnout with amazing food and fellowship and fun. Lots of children. Corn Hole, kickball, soccer, football, horsehoes and farkle were being played. It gave me the opportunity to meet some new folks who have been attending our church.

And I have to say it: Nathan and I were undefeated as a team today in horseshoes. They tried, but couldn't quite defeat us! Better luck next year!!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Connection Groups - So easy...

A big part of the DNA of our church is our small groups which meet throughout the week all over the community. It's in small groups that we really get to "do church".

Here's a link to the last of a series of "commercials" we produced to show in church in August to promote the September re-launch of our groups. (Most of them take the summer off.) You can find the rest of these and other videos we've done at NHC by going to Youtube. Look for "Connection Groups" and you'll find the caveman videos.

As you'll see, we like to have fun and to laugh.

History repeats itself...

This is from the 1934 Chicago Tribune. Be sure to read all the fine print.

Enlarge by clicking on the image.

Monday, August 31, 2009


Today I was in attendance at the retirement party of a true gentleman and a tribute to his profession. The venue (his church's gymnasium) was crowded as many of his oldest and closest friends and fellow police officers stood and gave tribute to Nags Head Police Chief Wayne Byrum.

As the chaplain for the Nags Head Fire Department most incidents requesting my response will include police response as well. And on many occasions, more often than not it seemed, Chief Byrum was there, not because he had to be, but because it was important to him to do whatever he could to lend a hand, even if it was just his presence. On more than one accident scene, while junior officers were conducting the investigation I've seen Chief Byrum quietly directing traffic, allowing his troops to do their jobs.

Of course, I often found ways to raise the chief's blood pressure. He is not fond of donut jokes (I discovered), and when I posted a Krispy Kreme logo over the coffee pot in the mobile incident command center he didn't find the humor. He told me that one day he was going to "take me for a ride...". Something about the Oregon Inlet Bridge. He was a cop through and through!

Earlier this year Wayne and I worked together on the most difficult of duties for a chief or a chaplain. As we walked up the driveway at 0430 to inform a wife and children that their husband and father died in the line of duty I asked him, "Wayne, have you ever had to do this before?" He was a 30 year veteran. Surely, I thought, he's been through this before. His presence was giving me strength. But he replied, "No. Never." I could feel from the way he said it that this was the hardest moment of his long career.

I also knew that Wayne is a committed believer in Jesus Christ. So I said, "Let's stop and pray." And right there in the driveway we bowed our heads and asked God to help us, but more importantly to wrap His arms around the four people we were about to wake up and give the most devastaing news of their lives.

Then I asked him, "Wayne, do you want to talk, or do you want me to do it?" And here's where I truly saw his leadership as the chief. He quietly said, "I'll start, but you might have to finish." And there on the porch he both started and finished. I'll be honest. I'm was grateful he did.

Today at 1700 he began his well-deserved retirement. He served and protected us well. May he enjoy farming and have the best times with family. And the deer and trout of southwest Virginia need to be put on notice.

Today as I approached to shake his hand he reminded me, "I never did take you on that ride."

(*10-42 is "ten code" for "ending tour of duty")

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sunday Flashback

The last Sunday of August! Summers for us is our busiest time of year. Being in a resort area means our population explodes June through August, and that also means that attendance at church swells from the vacationers seeking to worship with us.

After a four week series on holiness with the help of Matt Glock we jumped back to our series on the life of Moses today, talking about how easy it is to go from proclaiming our devotion to God in one breath to finding God substitutes in our lives with the next. Israel did it. Their leadership failed them. And they likely had unresolved issues with God after leaving Egypt. All of it came to a head when they crafted a golden calf and proclaimed it to be the LORD.

The MP 13 Band intro'd two new songs for us today. The first, "In Christ" gave Larry C. and opportunity to add his saxaphone to the mix. Great job! The second, "You Alone are God" was a great song to give us time to do some introspection about the possibility of idols in our lives.

A couple of encouraging comments today. First came from one of our partners who along with her husband is seeking God's will in a difficult situation. She said that it was just like God was speaking directly to her this morning. (My guess is she was right!) The second one came from an elderly couple who were guests from out of town and who are members of a very different church. She actually attended NHC as a girl back in the 1940's when on vacation! But she said she looked around at all the young people in church and was so excited!

Following the worship our leadership team, about 15 of us today, had lunch together and shared what God is doing in our ministry teams and talked about how we deal with conflict as leaders. Good stuff. We have the best volunteer leadership ever.

I got to run upstairs after the meeting and take a look at the progress in the Kids Zone. The painting is almost done and the tile floor in the bathroom is coming along great. Can't wait until we have kids up there learning and worship and growing in Christ!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Virginia Tech Students Brutal Slaying

Perhaps you've heard/read this terrible story. Reading it here I just realized that not only were these two young people committed Christians, but were part of the church Gail and I belonged to back in my seminary days. We do not know them, but know many in the church.

It's a solid church with a strong faith family, but I hope you'll pray for them, especially Pastor Kroll. Their funerals are back to back on Monday afternoon.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Show some respect, please.

In the past couple of days I've been dismayed by the less than compassionate way many bloggers, Facebookers and especially conservative talk radio hosts have attacked Sen. Ted Kennedy.

For Pete's sake (not sure who Pete was) the man gave his life to serving our country. He cared for the poor, and as one born to wealth saw it as his calling in life to defend the helpless.

Just because you didn't agree with his politics or some of his personal choices in life doesn't mean you should hit the man below his belt as he lies in state.

Show some restraint, please. And lower our flag to half mast. It is our flag, not yours.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Check your back pocket - part 2

I'm still mulling over the "Cash for Clunkers" deal. You know, the government gave away $4500 to people who traded in their cars in the way of credit for purchasing a new car.

So now after all those trade-ins those driving around in their still new car smelling rides are getting a taste of government freebies. Your $4500 we "gave" you toward your new car purchase is taxable income. What? The dealer didn't disclose that information?

Gotta read that fine print, especially when it's printed on government stationery.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sunday Flashback

After three Sundays of doing tag-team messages with him, Matt Glock flew solo for us today and talked from Isaiah 58 about our holy mission in this world and how we must be proactive in confronting injustice, protecting the abused, feeding the hungry, clothing the poor. It's when we live the Gospel that we're able to gain a hearing from those who haven't heard.

Matt and Sylvie and family fly back to France tomorrow after almost 2 months here with us. It's always great to have our missionaries be able to stay for extended visits. When they come back in two years the kids will all be grown up!

Kudos to the MP13 Band for doing a superb job leading our worship today sans Nathan. He was off to Chapel Hill for a wedding, but they didn't miss a beat, although Chad missed a guitar string for a song or two.

During the 2nd gathering I was able to slip in and visit our Lil' K class. It was amazing to see a dozen or so pre-schoolers totally captivated by the lesson on having an ear to hear Jesus' words. I can't wait for them to get upstairs in their new digs soon.

Nate has produced a series of videos that use the Geico caveman theme to promote our September launch of our Connection Groups. Great job on the videos! They've been brief but a lot of fun. Speaking of Connection Groups, I was part of this afternoon's group leader training. Twenty one of us spent 3 hours getting ready, including 2 guests from another church getting ready to launch small groups. Great stuff, Burnie!

When we left the lobby was jammed with youth. The threatening weather chased them indoors tonight, but they were having a blast. Thanks for the hot dog!

The Glocks are stopping by to say goodbye in a few minutes. And Nate and Tricia are coming by to pick up Gwyneth and Meka, who have been here since Friday. After they're gone I'm headed to the fire station to spend the night protecting the town of Nags Head!

Can you believe there's only one Sunday left in August? Mike tells me that our attendance this July was 200 per week more than last year. Amazing. We really do need that additional space upstairs for our kids! Go God!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Dancing Around the Constitution?

Thousands of religious leaders got a call from on high Wednesday as President Obama reached out to Jewish and Christian clergy, asking some to sermonize in favor of health care reform.

The 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads in part:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

It does say "Congress". So I guess the President is exempt and can suggest what could be this Sunday's sermon.

I didn't get the invitation to the meeting or pay attention to the call. I'll stick to preaching the Bible.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Adios Mr. Z.

Twice now this week I've received news of the death of someone who was special in my life. I really hope bad news doesn't come in threes.

My earliest recollections of Mr. Z are of him sitting in his living room showing off his dancing poodle Holly. He would sing this little ditty and get the dog to get up on her hind legs and "dance". It brought him great joy. And he did this every time I came over to their house. So, as best I could as a fifteen year old, I would watch in "amazement" and humor him.

Back in those days he was always a pretty serious guy. So my mission was always to say or do something to make him think I was totally insane.

I remember that same year when he and Mrs. Z, then in their forties put their faith in Christ as Savior. An emotional guy, I've often seen tears in his eyes. He was a proud man in a good sense: proud of his family; proud of his church and pastor; proud of his immaculate back yard with fruit trees and chilis; proud of his Mexican heritage; proud of his ability in his 70's to climb a wall when pursued by vicious dogs!

He worked hard his whole life in construction. In his "retirement" he worked just as hard doing concrete and block work in and around his Orange, CA home. His handywork was everywhere. But even more importantly he used his knowledge and experience in building churches in Mexico with missions teams from his church. That brought him the greatest satisfaction.

In my adult years he and Mary often opened up their home to Gail and I when we would go out to California for a visit. It was understood that "Mi casa es su casa" at the Z's home. And the few times I came out and didn't bring her I was chastized by him. "Next time you come you bring your wife!"

When his beloved Mary died a year and a half ago after being married forever it took the wind out of his sails. Yesterday evening she no doubt was escorted to Heaven's gates to welcome him home. I'm sure today she is taking him on a tour of his forever home.

My hope is that he was told on arrival to take off his shoes and go barefooted on the golden streets because it is holy ground. (Those who know him best will understand and smile in agreement with me.) I would love to see the expression on his face.

Hasta luego, amigo viejo.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Leaving a vapor trail

For about a year now I’ve been a Facebooker. (I know…spell-check says that’s not a word, but I say it is.) Via this internet social networking phenomenon I have re-connected with friends I haven’t seen or heard from for decades. Mostly it has been a fun experience.

A lot of my FB friends are men and women from my college days. In fact, Facebook has been a primary tool in organizing a reunion coming up next month. Over 200 of us who were linked together because of our passion for working with youth are getting together to reminisce and compare wrinkles, bald heads and other signs of aging. It will be fun!

One guy who will not be there is Doug Turner. He died Saturday.

Doug and I would often hit McDonalds for breakfast after attending an early morning class together. It gave us time to talk about our lives and school and stuff. Already married to Cindy, Doug was more mature than his age, and I looked up to him for whatever wisdom 21 year olds can possibly have.

When a one-time opportunity for service came up in the ministry Doug led came up he asked me to fill in. That one-time became my regular responsibility (I guess I did OK) and helped me grow, gaining valuable experience for the future.

In 1979 I was living in Oklahoma and Doug had just moved to Texas. We met again with someother friends at a national convention for youth ministers in Minneapolis. Doug and I slipped away during down time on Sunday afternoon, walked across a huge parking lot and went to a Twins ball game in their old stadium. We both were surprised at how cool an August afternoon was up there, shivering in our shirt sleeves. That was the last time I saw Doug.

Until last December. We had once again made contact through Facebook. Doug had settled with Cindy and raised a family and built a successful business in Melbourne, Florida. Gail and I were just 45 minutes away from there, visiting our daughter and son-in-law for a week. So I thought I’d give Doug a call and arrange a visit. I wanted to get by to see him because I knew Doug had been sick.

Scleroderma can manifest itself in a number of ways, and its effects on the body can range from mild, attacking the skin, to life-threatening, attacking vital organs. Doug’s disease was the latter, and rapidly sapped him of his physical health, forcing him to retire and spend countless days either hospitalized or confined to home care. When I saw him at home in December his over 6 foot frame supported just over 150 pounds and his voice was weak, like that of an octogenarian. I was frankly shocked when he came to the door and hoped my expression didn’t convey what I felt.

We sat and talked about old times. But mostly we talked about his career, his family and his faith. Here was a man in what should be the prime of his life and has had his ability to work and be active taken away by an obscure disease, yet there was not an ounce of bitterness or regret. Everything out of his mouth was positive, even though he knew there would be no cure. When so many would turn such a fate into anger against God Doug had nothing but praise and thanksgiving for His Lord and was humbled that God would use his weakness to give him opportunity to share his faith with others. I was humbled even more by Doug.

He’ll be buried on Wednesday. Looking this morning at his obituary I realized he was one day older than me. One day. Fifty four years and one week was all he had. But he lived it to the max, even on the days when the max was barely minimal by anyone's standards.

Life is indeed brief. A vapor that appears then disappears. Someone said that all men die, but not all men really live. Thanks, Doug for showing me that each day is precious and that there’s no time to let anger or bitterness keep me from living it with all the abundance God can give.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sunday Flashback

My day started off with having to turn off the water to the house because of a broken water line in the front yard. It would have to wait. Glad I showered Saturday night!

Among other things we celebrated giving school supplies last week to 163 elementary children. Operation Back Pack is a tangible way of demonstrating to the community that the church cares in these tough economic times. Thanks to all who gave and served!

For the third consecutive Sunday Matt Glock and I tag-teamed to bring the message from God's Word. Today was about holiness as a church. We read lots of Scripture, mostly from Ephesians 4 and 5 that pretty much lays out holy and unholy attitudes and actions. I'm enjoying the team approach we've been able to do, but Matt's going to fly solo next Sunday!

Sylvie Glock sang a song in French today about our lives being jars of clay yet carrying the treasure of Christ. Matt had translated the words which were up on the screen for the english speakers in the church. Great job Sylvie! And even though the band usually plays in english, they were able to stay right with you, as was Nick on the computer.

I'm always humbled and surprised when one of our guests says, "Coming to church here is the highlight of our vacation every year!" I heard it again today. Thanks!

After lunch at the remodeled Dunes Burnie and I worked on next Sunday afternoon's training for our small group leaders. We relaunch our groups in September. Nate has put together a promo video series that has been simple but a lot of fun. Something about being easy and a cave man.

After several trips to Ace and Home Depot I finally got the water line repaired. I'm so glad God called me to do something other than plumbing.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sunday Flashback

I'll never get tired of saying how beautiful it is to watch Nags Head Church in ministry and mission every Sunday. Today was one of those "Do we have too much going on for it to be a genuine worship experience?" kind of days. But God pulled it all together so well, from the first song to the expressions of love and thanks shared with our intern Matt French. It was really a God day.

Matt Glock and I again did a "tag team" message - this time on personal holiness. It's about being in agreement with God and living it out. It seemed to flow well as we passed the baton back and forth leading us to the personal checkpoint of communion.

Again serving communion for two big crowds was handled flawlessly by our guys. Mike does a super job getting all the logistics worked out.

Back Pack Sunday was a lot of fun and seeing all the donated school supplies coming in is exciting. Jenny stayed late after church sorting it all out. We're hoping and praying that this outreach will again say loud and clear to our community that Christ is loving them through us. There is still time to bring in supplies before Wednesday night!

This week the band did a scaled down acousitc version of "What Do I Know of Holy" with Nate on the guitar and George on the harmonica. Real quiet and reflective! Well done.

I had time after church to go out and grab some lunch before the start of my Discovering Nags Head Church class at 3:00. Ten men and women took the class that introduces our church to those wanting to know more about who we are. All ten finished by saying, "We want to partner with this fellowship". This has been our greatest year of growth. Special props to Bethany and Melissa who came in and did some child care for the class. Thanks for your servants' hearts.

And what amazes me about this is that of the ten, five are from live in surrounding counties, some driving an hour or more each way to get to church. How is it that we're bcoming a "regional" church? God's doing something very cool.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Check your back pocket

The "Cash for Clunkers" program - giving car owners up to $4,500 to trade in and destroy the engines of their gas guzzlers as a credit toward a new car has been amazingly successful. Sort of.

Car dealers are smiling. They haven't seen sales numbers this high in years. Some have depleted their inventory. New cars are moving off the lots as fast as they're trucked in (by fuel guzzling tractor trailers...). You have to be happy for the car dealers. They haven't exactly had the best year up to this point.

And thousands of people who wanted a new car but couldn't come up with a down payment are driving away with their American dream. They're loving that new car smell. For now.

But that billion bucks that as of this morning went through Uncle's fingers like water, and the 2 billion in additional funds to keep the sales going being requested by the Prez - where is it coming from?

Do you feel your wallet shrinking? Welcome to the world of "government" financed incentive programs.

So if you are a recipient of some of this cash for your clunker, please at least wave at me and smile as a gesture of thanks for your new ride. I'll keep driving my 8 year old gas sucking truck until with my money - not yours - I can afford something newer.

Just this anything like a Ponzi scheme?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Silver Lining

Last night I sat in the familiar (to me) little room just outside of the ER with a wife who just lost her husband in an unexpected death.

As she was asked about organ donation, she admitted he had not signed anything, but yes, she wanted anything to help others by agreeing to it for him.

I thanked her.

He was only 48. How old are you? Have you considered becoming an organ donor? I hope so. Every day people in this country die because there is a shortage of available life-saving organs only because so many never sign up to be donors.

Info on organ donation is on the right of this page. Why put it off? And why make your loved one make that call? Just do it.

Sunday Flashback

It started out as a hot, humid summer day. By early afternoon the temp had dropped 15 degrees, but the bottom dropped out of the clouds! A month's worth of rain today for sure!

Matt Glock and I started a 4 weeker today on the topic of holiness. Lots of positive feedback about the team teaching today. Today was "Our Holy God", talking about the foundation of holiness and trying to give it a definition we can all wrap our minds and bodies around. Next week we'll move to talking about personal holiness.

The band followed the teaching with an awesome first time song - "What Do I Know of Holy?", and followed that with "The Revelation Song". Great songs to help us focus on what we just heard.

Our summer time guests are so awesome. Not only do they fill the house, but they bring an objectivity to what we do, and are so encouraging to us. It was good today to see Beth and her little girl for the first time. She started coming on vacation back when she was a little girl. And Erin L. was with us today, too. She came down to help out with yesterday's surf camp. Lots of others, too.

I took Gwyneth upstairs to see the progress on the Kids Zone. The drywall is 90% hung. What a great addition this is going to be to our children's ministries!! Thanks to all the volunteers who are pitching in.

If you've been following the blog or the podcasts during the Moses series, you know that we've featured original art from Amber Elwood to illustrate. An 11x14 print is now available showcasing all of the art she's done. I got one today that will hang in my office. When we figure out how to make them available online, we'll do so. It really is well done. Otherwise, stop by NHC and for a donation to Amber you can get it.

Every Sunday I revel in the contributions of service our church partners make. They selflessly volunteer their time to make church possible on a weekly basis to over 600 attenders. Now, that's not a huge number compared to a lot of churches, but then they typically aren't serving more than three times their membership every week either. NHC is a wonderful family, indeed.

We're gearing up for Operation Back Pack! In less than two weeks we'll turn our building into a distribution center to give away school supplies to needy families. It's all donated, either by our church partners or by friends. And it's a wonderful way to give back to the community and share and show Christ's love.

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.]