Saturday, November 30, 2013

Volume 4: "Christmases Past"

I miss many things about "Christmases Past" and today I'm thinking about those miracle moments when I was a participant in community Christmas parades. Yes, for six Christmases, from ages 12-17, I marched and played drums as a part of East Carteret County school bands. The Christmas parades were always the highlight of being in the band for me personally.

Music has been and continues to be essential in my life and is such a wonderful part of the Christmas Season year-after-year.

Honestly, playing drums gave me a tangible way to connect hands-on with The Holy Days and it also helped to connect my heart to the season through the simplicity of seasonal songs. There's even a favorite seasonal song titled "The Little Drummer Boy". 

As I write this post, I am sitting on a Saturday evening in our local church sanctuary listening to one of the most beautiful tenor voices God ever created practicing Christmas Carols. Yes, Brian Arner is giving me a private concert. I am overwhelmed in my soul in such a wonderful way.

Brian will be singing in both of our worship services in the morning as we celebrate The Christ Child on the first Sunday of the Glorious Advent Season. My heart is presently warmed as my mind reminisces about "Christmases Past".

One thing is for sure. As much as I treasure yesterday's musical memories, no way in the world would I ever trade what I am feeling at this very moment or the expectations today's Christmas music gives me for the future.

In my own opinion, Christmases keep getting better and better. And just maybe singing and hearing Christmas music in December is the closest thing to experiencing Heaven we will know while on Planet Earth. 

Think about it and be inspired deep in your eternal soul. Blessed Christmas to you and to yours. 


Volume 3: "Christmases Past"

In Volume 2, of this "Holy Days" series: "What I Miss Most About Christmases Past", I was "writing" down memory lane wanting one of my Granny's beautiful and delicious, holiday, jelly cakes to reappear in my life. And guess what? After writing about the childhood remembrance, I talked on the phone with my Mom and she revealed that My Aunt Edith does still have the recipe and she actually baked a jelly cake for their Thanksgiving in North Carolina. A few slices have been placed in the freezer until I revisit my homeplace in a week or so. How unbelievable is that! And, yes, the recipe will indeed be coming home to my wife's kitchen so she can prepare jelly cakes for our Christmases future, Lord willing.

Now for Volume 3. Something else I really miss about Christmases Past is getting new pedal cars and bicycles.

I remember my first pedal car. It was a red fire truck, complete with a bell and a mesmerizing battery operated, red-flashing light on the hood. It was one of the most wonderful and fun forms of transportation a boy could ever hope for. 

And when it comes to bicycles, I only remember owning two -- a green Schwinn cruiser and a gold English Racer with ten gears.

There's nothing quite like getting a new bike for Christmas. A bike was a thing of freedom especially when I was young. Riding the roads of the island I called home was in itself pure joy. In many ways my journey around the world started with pedals and spokes.

Yes, funny how my "writing" down memory lane, reminded me of riding down memory lane. The fire truck pedal car helped me go from walking to riding around the home place. The bicycle got me off the Willis property and onto the roads that would lead to the rest of my life.

As much as I love riding down memory lane, I am so glad that because of The Christ Child born in Bethlehem, today I am promised that the rest of my journey will be the best of my journey. 


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Volume 2: "Christmases Past"

In Volume 1, of this spontaneous series: "What I Miss Most About Christmases Past", I talked about how I miss cutting down a live Christmas tree each year at the mountainside Evergreen Tree Farm with our little children. While that was a while back, I continue Volume 2 with a much older memory.

I really miss the "holy days" at my Granny and Grandaddy's house on the west end of the little East Coast island I was raised on. 

I especially miss my Granny and Granddaddy and my Granny's kitchen.

While Granny's major expertise was cooking seafood, she was also quite the holiday cake baker, too. And her specialty cake was called a jelly cake. It was a yellow layer cake with a secret-recipe frosting made of a glistening red jelly plentifully applied between each layer and totally adorning the outside. I have never ever seen a more beautiful dessert and I have never ever tasted a more delicious sweet holiday treat.

In fact, when I was a young boy, my Granny's sister, my Aunt Dicie, taught me the word "delicious" in Granny's kitchen as I was eye-balling one of Granny's impossible-to-ignore-shiny-red, jelly cakes.

I think my Aunt Edith, Granny's only daughter, might still probably have the secret jelly cake recipe? I must find out! My memory demands to know!

Who knows, maybe my wife will even be able to make these irresistibly beautiful and delicious cakes in our Christmases future?

I know I don't need the calories, but honestly I'd just love to sit and stare once again at one of my Granny's red jelly cakes. The inspiring images from Christmases past are forever saved in my mind's eye.

Yes, I miss so much about Christmases Past, however please know that I am (on this very Thanksgiving Day 2013) totally appreciative that the memories are still being made. Indeed, this present holy day season is most sacredly being embraced within my mind and soul.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Volume 1: "What I Miss Most About Christmases Past"

In no particular chronological order, I spontaneously begin Volume 1 of who-knows-how-many-volumes titled "What I Miss Most About Christmases Past".

So here goes...

I really miss cutting down live Christmas Trees year-after-year at the Evergreen Tree Farm when our son and daughter were little.

Each year we would drive the 20 minute ride towards the mountain, listening to Christmas music all the way there and back. 

We rotated the holy honor amongst the four of us year-after-year, yes the privilege of who would choose each year's special tree. (Okay, with my wife of course having the final approval, as she was and still is the master holiday house decorator.)

Last year, I caved in and I purchased an artificial tree from Hobby Lobby. I personally picked it out and brought it home -- not tied to the top of my Ford -- but in three pieces stuffed into a cardboard box. I must admit, it's a really beautiful fake fir, and once decorated, honest it looks "almost" exactly like a live one. (We even bought a real evergreen wreath last December to hang in our home over the holy days to get that real tree scent.)

With our kids now grown and living in their own homes, I hope and pray their memories of Christmases past are as precious as mine are. They both plan to be home for Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

More than cherishing Christmases past, I am personally grateful for the promise of Christmas present.

For me, the season between Thanksgiving and Christmas is still the most wonderful time of the year.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

God's Mercies

The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!” 
Lamentations 3:22-24 (NLT)

Lord, Your Mercies are Marvelous!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Inspiring Bible Story

This Bible story still inspires my heart even though I first heard it some 50 years ago and I've been saturating in it the past few days:

Jesus was passing through Jericho. A man named Zacchaeus was there. He was the director of tax collectors, and he was rich. He tried to see who Jesus was. But Zacchaeus was a small man, and he couldn’t see Jesus because of the crowd. So Zacchaeus ran ahead and climbed a fig tree to see Jesus, who was coming that way. When Jesus came to the tree, he looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, come down! I must stay at your house today.” Zacchaeus came down and was glad to welcome Jesus into his home. But the people who saw this began to express disapproval. They said, “He went to be the guest of a sinner.” ⌊Later, at dinner,⌋ Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Lord, I’ll give half of my property to the poor. I’ll pay four times as much as I owe to those I have cheated in any way.” Then Jesus said to Zacchaeus, “You and your family have been saved today. You’ve shown that you, too, are one of Abraham’s descendants. Indeed, the Son of Man has come to seek and to save people who are lost.
Luke 19:1-10 (GWT)


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Real Gratitude Births True Generosity

Today, I preached a message based on these three words:

"Gratitude Births Generosity."

As this is the week of Thanksgiving in my home country, I have also come to know these four words are very true:

"Generosity Knows No Economy."

In other words, whether we are rich or poor, if we have real gratitude, true generosity will spontaneously flow from our lives. The giving of our treasures, talents, time and touch are all ways that generosity expresses itself.

Let us express thankfulness as we live our lives, and welcome the generosity that will surely flow from our living. 

May the motive of our giving not be to receive more blessings but to express gratitude for the blessings that are already ours.

Real gratitude births true generosity. 

Holiness Unto The Lord!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Appreciation for The Crucifixion

"Jesus paid it all. 
All to Him I owe.
Sin had left a crimson stain.
He washed it white as snow."

As the season of Thanksgiving approaches, I want to express my ever-increasing appreciation for the Crucifixion of the One called Wonderful. 

Where would I be had it not been for a place called Golgotha and a God who would rather suffer unprecedented agony rather than to live forever without me. 

"Amazing Love, how can it be?
That Thou my God would die for me."

Holiness Unto The LORD!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Who is Like The Lord Our God?

"Hallelujah! You servants of the Lord, praise him. Praise the name of the Lord. Thank the name of the Lord now and forever. From where the sun rises to where the sun sets, the name of the Lord should be praised. The Lord is high above all the nations. His glory is above the heavens. Who is like the Lord our God? He is seated on his high throne. He bends down to look at heaven and earth. He lifts the poor from the dust. He lifts the needy from a garbage heap. He seats them with influential people, with the influential leaders of his people. He makes a woman who is in a childless home a joyful mother. Hallelujah!"
Psalms 113:1-9 (GWT)

Holiness Unto The LORD!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

God is Great! God is Good!

Today, I have been thinking and talking about The Goodness and The Greatness of Our Almighty God. 

The Prophet Isaiah asked, "Who is like The Lord!" The answer is obvious: "There is no one!"

Let me encourage you by saying, "God is willing to be your Helper." Too often we focus more on helping God, which is really a funny thought in itself. While He wants us to partner with Him in miracles, God is not helpless without us like we are helpless without Him! 

So, let God help you by inviting Him to help Himself to your life. You can trust His Goodness to deliver Greatness for your good and for His glory. 

Indeed, God is Great.
And God is Good!

Holiness Unto The LORD!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Truths I've Heard

In the revival I'm speaking at this week, these are the truths I've heard for my own life so far:

1. Homesickness for Heaven is a legitimate longing to exist in a land where wrongs have been righted for forever.

2. God loves me as if i were the only soul He died to save and He really wants a personal relationship with me. 

3. More than anything in the world, I know I want my God's never-ending presence as my possession.

Holiness Unto The LORD!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

"Take Grace & Take Heart" (A Blessing)

During a prayer walk this morning, I sensed The Lord telling me to send this blessing to some dear souls on my contact list. And now I pray it over the dear souls who read my blog as well:

"Take grace and 
take heart... 
In all of our joys and 
In all of our sorrows, 
There is a love and 
There is a hope 
for each of our todays and 
for all of our tomorrows...
Jesus is your Courage. 

Amazingly Graced in God's Loving Embrace.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Jesus Will See Us Safely Home

Back in the 1980s, this song helped get me through many storm-tossed days of doubt. The lyrics still help me today:

"He didn't bring us this far to leave us.
He didn't teach us to swim to let us drown.
He didn't build His home in us to move away.
He didn't lift us up to let us down.

There are some promises in a letter,
Written a long, long time ago.
They're not getting older, they're getting better.
Because He still wants us to know...

He didn't bring us this far to leave us.
He didn't teach us to swim to let us drown.
He didn't build His home in us to move away.
He didn't lift us up to let us down (to let us down, let us down).
He didn't lift us up to let us down.

I read those promises in His letter,
And now I claim them for my own.
Filling my heart and making life better
And I just wanted you to know.

Never use the word defeat.
Claim His promises, every one of them.
And every spoken word He'll hear,
Because we're everything to Him.

He didn't lift us up to let us down."

The Master of the Sea, Jesus, will see us safely Home.


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sail Within The Sonrise

Where am I? This photo below is the east'ard end of my native homeland, Harkers Island, N.C.  My youngest brother, Stephen, took this inspiring image on his i-phone at sunrise this Lord's Day morning. How great is our God! 

My dream holds to sail within the Sonrise far beyond the sunset. 


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Project Galilee Summarization & Invitation

Just to summarize our second annual Project Galilee gathering focused on the interior life of Jesus-believers, these are the 8 session themes we have saturated in together. 

1. Foundations
2. Grace
3. Identity
4. Courage
5. Perspective
6. Obedience
7. Unshackled
8. Community

Has it been a God-week? Well, here's the answer. We already have the dates on the calendar to come together again in 2014 with those who want to know Jesus more. 

I invite you to plan now to join us then. When? November 6-8, 2014. Once again, Lord willing we will gather together at beautiful Beaufort "By-The-Sea" along the crystal coastline of North Carolina.

Deo Volente -- Whatever God Wants!

Friday, November 15, 2013

His Sheep... His Flock...

"Even though I walk through the dark valley of death, because you are with me, I fear no harm. Your rod and your staff give me courage." (Psalms 23:4 GWT)

Exhale. The Good Shepherd is among and within His sheep, yes ahead and behind His flock. Fear? Not!


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Jesus Is Going Ahead of You to Galilee

On the first Easter Sunday morning, the angel gave these words about The Resurrected Jesus -- yes these amazing words of Hope-filled Invitation -- to Mary Magdalene, the other Mary, and Salome:

"Now go and tell His disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see Him there, just as He told you before He died.” (Mark 16:7 NLT)

Today, is our much anticipated launch of Project Galilee -- Year 2 here in beautiful Beaufort By-The-Sea, North Carolina. According to pre-registration, it appears our attendance of pastors and leaders from year 1 will at least triple. To God be the glory. 

Check out the details and please join us in prayer at and know that I am..,

... Grateful 

P.S. The audio of the Project Galilee sessions will be posted to our podcast in the weeks and/or months ahead.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Blood

"The Blood (of Jesus) is the meeting place between God and man."
-- Billy Graham

Thank You, God the Father, for giving God the Son, to be our High Priest. He took Your Holy Hand and our human hands and brought us together by His Blood for forever. Thank You for God the Holy Spirit Who is here with us to keep the relationship right until we see You, Jesus, face-to-face. Amen and Amen.

Holiness Unto The LORD!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Lord Wants Me To Hear These Words

A dear friend shared this passage of Scripture with me from Psalm 118 last evening. What's "funny" is this morning at men's prayer I also read the entire Psalm aloud with my prayer partners without realizing it was the exact chapter given to me last evening. I think the Lord wants me to hear these words. As I understand it, this Psalm is likely a hymn Jesus and His disciples sang at Passover on the night before He was crucified.

Open for me the gates where the righteous enter, and I will go in and thank the Lord. These gates lead to the presence of the Lord, and the godly enter there. I thank you for answering my prayer and giving me victory! The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing, and it is wonderful to see. This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. Please, Lord, please save us. Please, Lord, please give us success. Bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord. We bless you from the house of the Lord. The Lord is God, shining upon us. Take the sacrifice and bind it with cords on the altar. You are my God, and I will praise you! You are my God, and I will exalt you! Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. (Psalms 118:19-29 NLT)

Holiness Unto The LORD!

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Greatest of All Love -- Veteran's Day

Today in the USA, we remember veterans and especially pray prayers of gratitude over them. 

Why? They have offered the ultimate price for our freedom -- their very lives. 

Jesus talks about the greatest of all love in The New Testament. He was foretelling the kind of death He would suffer to free eternal souls from death and Hell. His words recorded in John's Gospel also remind me of our veterans.

Listen now to what Jesus said: 

"There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." (John 15:13 NLT)


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Which Prepared Place Will We Choose?

Today, I preached on Hell. The Lord had me to write the message in the local hospital chapel. It added weight to an already heavy subject.

Though it was a hard word to speak, I am confident that I obeyed God's desire. Seeing never-dying souls responding at the end humbled my heart.

Where will we spend forever? Will we be found forever in Heaven or lost forever in Hell? I choose to dwell forever in a place being prepared for me by Jesus, Heaven, rather than a place God has prepared for the devil and his demons, Hell.

Hear these words of Jesus: “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. (Matthew 25:41 NLT)

I desire an eternal resting place over an eternal restless place.


Saturday, November 9, 2013

My Soul is Sad, My Heart is Heavy

Based on the message topic The Lord is having me to preach this coming Sunday, my soul is sad and my heart is heavy.

That's one reason why I often refer to the preacher's responsibility in three words: "The Glorious Burden".

This Old Testament passage ties to my troubled heart as I consider how a ripe harvest of eternal souls is still in the fields, threatened to be lost if the season of today is not seen and seized:

"Sorrow has overwhelmed me. I am sick at heart! The cry from my dear people comes from a distant land: 'Isn’t the Lord in Zion? Isn’t Zion’s king still there?' They make me furious with their idols, with their foreign gods. The harvest is past, the summer has ended, and we haven’t been saved. I am crushed because my dear people have been crushed. I mourn; terror grips me."
 -- Jeremiah 8:18-21 (GWT)

Pray for the Harvest and for Harvesters before it's TOO LATE!


Friday, November 8, 2013

Lead Us

Dearest Holy God:
Your voice is our reward.
We listen with our ears wide open.
Give us Your direction for our lives.
Lead us in the paths of righteousness for Your Name's sake.
In Jesus' Name. Amen.

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it’” (Isaiah 30:21).

Be Our Way, Jesus.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Happy 95th Birthday to Rev. Billy Graham -- MyHopeWithBillyGraham.Org

If you are unaware of Dr. Billy Graham's last message to the world -- My Hope -- please go right now to:

Check it out. Order multiple DVDs to show or to distribute to others.

This is an amazing and inspiring Harvest-of-souls opportunity. I sense that in partnering with this project, we are on the small end of something BIG!!!

Happy #95 Birthday to Rev. Billy Graham -- a hero of the faith, indeed.

Holiness Unto The LORD!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

My Prayer For Your Life

This is my prayer for your life:

I pray...

...That you will trust in God's Love,
And rely on His Grace,
That you will learn how to rest
In His Loving embrace.

And be...

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Pay Attention Today to Your Life's Brevity

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. (James 4:13-17 NIV)


Sunday, November 3, 2013

"A Royal Priesthood" -- The King's Team

In the New Covenant, the curtain in the temple was ripped open from top to bottom when our King Jesus died on the Cross. Now all believers in Him are priests. The Holy of Holies is opened wide to whoever will come.

In 1 Peter 2:1-12, we read about "a Royal priesthood of believers". So, the question is... "Are we on the King's Team?"

1 Peter 2:1-12 (GWT) Live as God’s Chosen People

 1 So get rid of every kind of evil, every kind of deception, hypocrisy, jealousy, and every kind of slander. Desire God’s pure word as newborn babies desire milk. Then you will grow in your salvation. Certainly you have tasted that the Lord is good! You are coming to Christ, the living stone who was rejected by humans but was chosen as precious by God. You come to him as living stones, a spiritual house that is being built into a holy priesthood. So offer spiritual sacrifices that God accepts through Jesus Christ. That is why Scripture says, “I am laying a chosen and precious cornerstone in Zion, and the person who believes in him will never be ashamed.” This honor belongs to those who believe. But to those who don’t believe: “The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,a stone that people trip over, a large rock that people find offensive.”
The people tripped over the word because they refused to believe it. Therefore, this is how they ended up. 9 However, you are chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, people who belong to God. You were chosen to tell about the excellent qualities of God, who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not God’s people, but now you are. Once you were not shown mercy, but now you have been shown mercy. 11 Dear friends, since you are foreigners and temporary residents in the world, I’m encouraging you to keep away from the desires of your corrupt nature. These desires constantly attack you. 12 Live decent lives among unbelievers. Then, although they ridicule you as if you were doing wrong while they are watching you do good things, they will praise God on the day he comes to help you.

On Team Jesus! And...

Saturday, November 2, 2013

We Do Not Belong to This World

Jesus reminds us that we do not belong to this world.  We have been sent into the world to be living witnesses of God's unconditional love, calling all people to look beyond the passing structures of our temporary existence to the eternal life promised to us.
-- Henri Nouwen

Friday, November 1, 2013

When We Sing

"When we are normal
When we are dying
But when there is more in us than we can contain,
-- Eugene Peterson

May your life overflow with God's presence.