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.