Saturday, November 08, 2008

What we empty nesters do in our free time

Thanks to some good friends Julie and I spent some quality time with TSO (Trans-Siberian Orchestra) on 11-7-08

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Drive Time Video

I have been working on a new ministry outlet since July and have finally got everything up and running. It is a twice per week video podcast called Drive Time Video, if you watch any of these videos you will get the name. You can visit to see more. You can subscibe via iTunes or get on my e-mail list at the website. I would appreciate any feedback you may wish to offer. For a sample I have embedded the player below.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Advice for Husbands

Tim Hawkins offers this musical advice to all of us husbands...

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

If the Cross Never Happened

During my years of ministry I have preached many times on the death of Christ. Having covered the same territory so many times, I am always on the lookout for a fresh way of looking at the same events. Recently, I ran across a book edited by J.C. Squire and published in 1931 titled "If It Had Happened Otherwise." This genera of writing is known as counterfactual history, and this work is a series of essays by various authors (including Winston Churchill) imaging what the world would be like if a particular event had not occurred. Such questions are considered as: What if Booth had missed Lincoln? Or what if the Confederacy won the Civil War? Interesting mental exercises to be sure, but none of the authors of this book dared to ask "What if Christ's crucifixion had never happened?"

The list of potential disasters would grow long without the crucifixion and resurrection of the Lord. The church would not exist, much of western civilization would be drastically altered, and we would remain in our sins forever. Not pretty options, but stark reminders of the manifold blessings of Jesus Christ’s work on our behalf.

However we approach it, we must remain enthralled with the centrality and eternal necessity of the cross. Don't allow your gaze to veer too far from Calvary's hill.

Jesse Waggoner

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Blessing in the Thorn

Here are the lyrics to the song that ended the service on 9-21-08, May you find the blessing in your "thorn in the flesh" (2 Cor. 12:7-9)

The Blessing in the Thorn

I read about a man of God
Who gloried in his weakness
And I wish that I could be
More like Him and less like me
Am I to blame for what I'm not
Or is pain the way God teaches me to grow
I need to know

When does the thorn become a blessing
When does the pain become a friend
When does the weakness make me stronger
When does my faith make me whole again
I want to feel His arms around me
In the middle of my raging storm
So that I can see the blessing in the thorn

I've heard it said the strength of Christ
Is perfect in my weakness
And the more that I go through
The more I prove the promise true
His love will go to any length
And reaches even now to where I am
But tell me once again

Lord, I have to ask You
On the cross You suffered through
Was there a time You ever doubted
What You already knew

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Don't Stop Praying

“Pastor, I have been praying for this for 45 years.” These were the words of an elderly Christian lady as she talked to me about her desire to see her husband come to Christ. Now he lay in a hospital bed after radical surgery for cancer and he was left unable to speak. During this conversation I was struck by two things. The first was the love and persistence of this long-suffering wife. The second was how after years of praying and years of no response she did not give up her trust in the Lord.

There are times when it seems like God is saying “no” to our requests, or at least a positive answer has not yet come. Do we view this as a rejection or do we look for what God is really saying? Often times, when it looks like God is saying “no”, He is really saying something else - things like…”trust my timing,” or “I can accomplish more by not intervening than coming to a dramatic rescue.” As Paul learned in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, sometimes a “no” is really a “yes” to what He wants to do in and through us, in spite of difficulties. Perhaps we should never take “no” as the final answer.

And what of the wife who didn’t give up? Shortly before her husband’s body could no longer fight off the cancer, through nods and hand signals we both were convinced that he had put his faith in Jesus. To God be the glory!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Go Directly to Jail

If you have ever played the game Monopoly, you will remember that there was a space called “Chance” and if the roll of the dice left you parked there you would have to pick up a card and do whatever it said. Sometimes the news was good. One card I particularly remember said, “Go directly to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200.” This was usually not a good moment in the game. To this point in life, I have avoided jail except to be there for ministry, and I consider that a good thing. But God has allowed and used his people in some special ways behind bars.

Joseph received vision while in prison in Egypt (Gen. 39-40), and Daniel shared a “cell-space” with lions (Dan. 6). In the New Testament Barabbas (Luke 23:18-24) was set free from prison as Jesus was condemned. Peter was sprung from prison by an angel (Acts 12:5-11) Paul’s jail break was accomplished by an earthquake, (Acts 16:24-34) John was in on the prison-island of Patmos when he received the revelation (Rev. 1:9-11). Each of these jail-time experience was used of God in a special way. This reminds me that whatever we may view as a limitation, God views as an opportunity -an occasion to show that He is God and in control. What is limiting you? Turn to God in trust. That is even better than a “Get out of Jail Free Card.”

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Tom Terrific

If you look up the name Tom Seaver in Wikipedia it will tell you that Tom was a professional baseball pitcher for the New York Mets and later the Cincinnati Reds. It will tell you he is a member of the baseball hall of fame, and that he was known as “Tom Terrific” and “The franchise” Tom however did not submit to the definition of a “pitcher.” He once stated to an interviewer that he considered pitching to be a performing art! He so studied, practiced and refined his craft to the point that he saw it as elevated above a mere athletic endeavor.

What would an encyclopedia consider your occupation? I would submit that we should consider whatever we do a performing art. You may be a painter or philosopher, a factory worker or shop worker, a teacher or preacher. But as a follower of Christ your life is really a command performance for an audience of One. We are “to do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).

So, when you next walk into the office, the garage, the sales floor, the baseball diamond or the loading dock let me remind you, that you and I should seek to so study, practice and refine our craft so as to offer God our best. As we do we will bring glory to our God and bring some light to those who dwell in darkness.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Traditional Service

Here is a sample of a traditional service at Bible Center Church

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Bible Center - Video

Here is a video produced by Ward Hiney showing some of our Praise Team at Bible Center Church.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


Here is a video produced by AIM Air, the ministry Brandon is working with in Africa this summer. You can also visit his blog at or view his Photo Album at:

Hog Pens

This month I want to share with you an experience from our family's summer vacation. I could share with you our stay in a mile-high mountain range. I could tell you about our hike to a rushing mountain waterfall. I could mention many other delightful experiences, but the one I have chosen to write about is our visit to a hog pen! While exploring the Mountain Farm Museum in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park we enjoyed the log structures, the cellar, the water-house and the barn, but in the back corner of the farm was an animal pen of some kind. One of our children asked what it was? I could identify it with my nose even before we could see inside. The hog-pen display was not primarily a visual or auditory experience; it was most strongly an olfactory one. The smell was horrendous!

This encounter (or, I should say odor) jogged my memory back to the Story of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32. In this parable, Jesus tells the story of a young man who was restless to be out from under the restrictions of his father's house. He asked for his share of his inheritance, left home and lived in the fast lane. After he had run out of money and the friends it could buy, he could only find a meager existence tending hogs. His circumstance was so bad that he even envied the food the hogs were getting. It was then that he saw the benefits of his father's house and said to himself: "I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants" (Luke 15:18-19). It was only when he sniffed the stench of the hog pen that he looked back at what he used to be and do.

The story of the prodigal son teaches much about the forgiveness of God, but it also serves as a dual warning. First it warns those who are in the hog pen, or on the way, that they must turn around and come back to the Father's house. Maybe you should look back at what you used to be and do. If there was time in your life where your service for God was more consistent, your love for God was deeper and your fellowship with a local church was more frequent, perhaps you have left the Father's house; you are on the road to the hog pen. You have willingly stepped outside the protection and blessings of the Heavenly Father's house. You can turn around at any point; you can reverse your course and head home. Admit your straying ways to Him and seek His forgiveness and restoration.

The second warning is for those still in the Father's house. It is better to stay put than to stray away no matter how appealing the freedom of the outside looks. The world, the flesh and the devil make what is out there seem so appealing, but remember the end of road will lead to the bondage in some sort of "hog pen." Guard you heart.

I like pork as much as the next guy but I must tell you I was glad to leave the hog-pen display and stroll along the tree-lined banks of the Oconaluftee River as it continued its desent toward Cherokee, NC. It was definitely more pleasant to take in the shade, the sound of the rushing water and fresh air of the river bank than the foul atmosphere of the hog pen. Yes, it is better to stay in, or return to, the Father's house.

(from April 2002)

A Sense of Direction

I have always thought I had a good sense of direction. I can usually tell where I am and which direction I am heading. I am sure such knowledge comes from a semi-conscious awareness of the location of the sun (it comes up in the east and goes down in the west) or of a general knowledge of geography (If one leaves Charleston and goes to Atlanta they are generally going south). Perhaps it is some internal navigational sense similar to a biological clock. (Is there such a thing as a biological compass?) I have tended to trust my senses and have never seen the need to lay down $400 for a GPS system. However a recent experience has reminded me of the limitations of my own senses and the need to have an external reference point to keep one on track.

I was on my way in late August to Hong Kong to spend twelve days visiting with a missionary team. After brief flights from Charleston to Pittsburgh (heading North) and from Pittsburgh to Newark, New Jersey (heading East), I began a sixteen hour flight from Newark to Hong Kong. There were already a number of unique aspects of this trip for me: this being the longest non-stop commercial route flown in the world meant this trip was going to be more than twice as long than any I have ever endured on an airplane. Further, Hong Kong is twelve hours ahead of our time, so (if it is noon here, it is midnight there) I knew a number of adjustments lay ahead. The biggest adjustment, however, was dictated by our flight plan. We traveled North, nearly over the North Pole. The views out the window were unique to me. We flew over vast undeveloped land in Northern Canada, over the brilliant blue water of the Hudson bay and over seemingly endless expanses of ice flows in the Arctic Ocean. The Boeing 777 I was on had a video screen which constantly displayed flight information including a map showing our present location over the globe. I was traveling North, my video map confirmed what my internal compass was telling me. But at some point the little plane on the video screen suddenly stopped pointing toward the top of the screen and began pointing to the bottom. The plane had not made a 180 degree turn, the direction of sunlight had not suddenly shifted. In fact the inside of me was telling me we were going North when in fact we had topped the globe and we were heading South. I had packed a small magnetic compass in my carry on bag and it too confirmed our new direction. But for at least an hour there was an internal argument going on in my brain. One part seemed to cling to the data that had seldom failed me and said that if you are going North and you continue in a straight line you are still heading North. The other a part argued just as forcefully that I was in a place that I had not been before and I had to readjust. I do want you to know that I understood the logic of where I was, but there was a real sense of inner confusion or discomfort that is hard to explain. Perhaps if you have ever been lost and without any sense of direction you can relate, except in this case there was no fear --just a faint feeling of perception and reality not matching up.

Well, no great harm done as I was not responsible for getting the aircraft from point A to point B. I should have been sleeping rather than considering such things at 41,000 feet, but it did remind of this: I have spent far too much of my life following my own "sense of direction" rather than following an absolute compass. God knows that we are easily fooled, easily misled and often choose our own way which is often the wrong way. He has given us the Word of God which is an absolute standard of direction for behavior and life. He has likewise given Christians the Holy Spirit to indwell us and guide us through the murkiness of living. Such gifts are only of value if used. How easy it is to default to trusting one's instincts, to follow the crowd, to follow the path of least resistence. Perhaps it is time to get back to church, to get back to the Word of God, to get back to listening to the still, small voice of the Spirit.

As I tucked my compass back into my bag and tried to get as comfortable as one can get in a coach seat on a 283 passenger plane, I whispered a prayer that God would give me the good sense not to trust my "sense of direction" but to seek His leading each day.

(From Septeber 2001)

Saturday, June 28, 2008


I grew up in the space age. Men going into space and going to the moon was big stuff back in the day. Above is one of my favorite pictures, it shows Jim Irwin standing on the moon in August of 1971. Even though He was a long way from home he was in some ways more connected to the his fellow earthmen than most of us will ever be. I tell this to illustrate a particular truth…

A couple of the first verses I learned as a junior higher was Proverbs 3:5-6, the reason I learned them was Mr. Lester Arnold my Sunday School teacher would often (like every Sunday) do Sword Drills and these two verse were always going to show up. Looking back he was teaching us more than we and perhaps even he thought. These verses warn against self-reliance (“lean not to your own understanding”). If I would have followed that part faithful since the age of 13 I would be better off. It seems as if the default setting on most of is trust in our own ingenuity, our plans, or own schemes. This has led to many a disaster! The verses also recommend trust in the Lord with ones whole heart. This is always good advice. Verse six promises that if we are obedience if we live up to our responsibilities God will direct our paths – I like that – no more head scratching, hand wringing, squirming about what to next in life. There is one last element in this text that for the last 30 something years that has remained elusive. What exactly does it mean when it says “In all your ways acknowledge Him.” Whatever it means it is the key ingredient to gaining God’s direction in our lives. Here are few stray thoughts I have had on the subject of acknowledging God in life.

1. First of all the basic meaning of acknowledge is to recognize, to give recognition of something or someone. If see someone I know, I acknowledge them with eye contact, a nod, a wave, a word or a touch. I am letting them know that I know that they are there. I need to need to maintain the discipline of recognizing God’s presence with me and within me.
2. Second acknowledge is a two way street. It speaks of relationship. There needs to be an ongoing dialog between us.
3. I need to do this “in all my ways.” This means God is not to be a super 911 service to call when I am in trouble. His is not to be only on my mind when I am in a setting that reminds me of Him, I am to include Him in my thinking and life at all times.

… back to Jim Irwin on the Moon. While he was walking around on the moon he could speak via radio with mission control in Houston, Texas. His every move was followed on TV by rooms full of experts, and multitudes. If he made a comment about a particular kind of rock a whole team of geologist were listening to offer advice and guidance. If some piece of equipment broke the engineers that designed it were available, and the technicians that built is were on hand. He could easily acknowledge the "presence" of other to help in any situation. I think acknowledging God in everything is similar, I need to remain aware of the presence of God in everything I do, I need to keep the communication lines open and the conversation in motion, I need to evaluate my actions against the grid of my Bible knowledge. I trust I can make progress in my earthwalk.

from 11-20-2005

Monday, June 09, 2008

Hanging out with the famous

I am not above name dropping as witnessed by some of my preceding entries. But this week I met a very famous person. I guess we should define "met" I was in his presence, I saw him with my own eyes, I spoke to him and he to me, I shook his white-gloved hand. We didn’t have a deep conversation and I didn’t get his autograph but I did meet him. He even gave me a Christmas ornament for my tree, with some coupons on the back so I could save money the next time I was in one of his places of business. I met a person that has appeared on Television countless times, is a house-hold name around the world, I have seen pictures of this man on display in my travels to Europe and Asia as well as all over North America. He is a spokesperson for a gigantic international corporation and here he was coming to address the students at Bible Center School. Oh, and you know him too, he is easily recognizable – yellow one-piece jump suit, large red shoes, bright red curly hair, flour-white face, red nose – you know your typical celebrity type. And just so you won’t jump to this line and figure it out without reading all the gifted prose above I will give you his name spelled backward: dlanoDcM dlanoR

Yes it was he of hamburger fame, he of Saturday morning cartoon commercial break fame. It was he and I met him. OK, OK, lest you think I am crazier than I really am, I do know that RM is a fictional character and there are likely several RMs running around the country on a company expense account. I did find it somewhat humorous that RM was giving the third-graders a little talk about a healthy life-style, this was from the same character that has pumped more cholesterol into American’s arteries than all the other fast-food joints combined! Yes, this was just a pseudo-celebrity.

But, what is a real celebrity. What is so special about someone who can sing well, or write a book, or act in a drama or tell a joke, or throw a football or who has won an election, or made a lot of money, or done some heroic deed. When it comes right down to it a celebrity is just an ordinary part of the human race that is known by more than an average amount of other humans.

I assume that if you are reading this you are a non-celebrity. And all of us need to remember that God is not impressed with fame. The Bible states that He is not a respecter of persons. He treats us all fairly. And for those of us who are His children. He delights in us, He writes us fan mail, He is our biggest cheer-leader. To most we are not famous, influential or important. To God we are. Thank Him for it.

Oh and by the way, Julie and I were at the mall last night and saw Santa Claus, in person, with my own eyes...

(From Dec. 16, 2005)

Blasts from the Past

My writing time has been quite limited of late, so over the summer I am taking the opportunity to republish some of my musings from the past. I hope you enjoy

Friday, May 16, 2008


A news story about Brandon's graduation

Sunday, April 27, 2008

We believe

Steve Green was in concert at Bible Center last evening and
sang one of my favorites, "We Believe" the words say it all ...enjoy and be blessed

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Up Up and Away

Short video of flying somewhere over Virginia