Category: Uncategorized

Prayer Requests

Requests as of July 31, 2015

New Requests: Ronnie Collins family (died 7/30; funeral 8/2 3 PM at LMPC); Sarah Hoffman & Michael Reid Hoffman (new baby 7/27); David Evans; Johnnie Sites, mother of Amee White- hospital tests; Bill Morrow- pacemaker 7/24 then knee surgery; Kay Sloan (knee replacement 7/21); Tracie Stewart’s uncle; Samantha and Eric Kaufman (new baby); Alysson Grimsley (new baby- grandparents Alan and Janina); Joe David (lost brother- and chemo); Sandy Brossard (father died); Julia Hermelin (mother died); Jordan Gill (granddaughter of Midge Burgess- fell off horse), Charles Blau (carotid artery surgery); Cal Cruz (heart ablation and wreck); Addy Hinston (tonsillectomy); Samantha Kauffman (baby Robert on the way); Ryan Batson family (grandmother died in wreck, aunt in ICU); Hadley & Gentry Eddings family upon the loss of their children; Susan Mullis; Ellie George Howe at MUSC (granddaughter of Stan and Mary Jim Howe); Jackie Rhame (cancer); Melinda Rogers (back surgery 5/15); Kirk Burnett and family upon the death of his father Donald (5/8); Mark Johnson’s father; Lynn Hill (daughter of Joanne Coker); Joe Williams (stroke recovery); Lodi Williams upon the death of her brother, Thadeus Huggins of Hemmingway 4/27;  Leann Edwards; Family of Zach Wenham (USC student who died this week); Chas Nicholson- heart surgery 3rd week of April; Stuart Peters (heart surgery recovery); Tricia Cullum (shoulder surgery recovery). Elinor Harris as she recovers from her Good Friday successful surgery;  Neva Loftis’ as she grieves the death of her mother, Tilde Armette (funeral 4/14 Loris, SC); Steve Holleman upon the death of his father, Hugh.  John LaFond, our treasurer- as he faces back problems and his son-Phil;We rejoice in Erik & Ashley Norton joining 4/12 with their children Sara, Anna, Margaret, and Charlie.   We rejoice in Gene and Kirstie Livermore who joined 4/5;  We rejoice in Evelyn Shealy born to Aaron and Virginia on 3/31/15.  Howard McKeone in Afghanistan; Our men and women in the armed forces.

Bereavement: Zach Wenham family (funeral 4/29);  Neva Loftis family upon the death of her mother (funeral 4/14/15); Steve Holleman upon the death of his father Hugh in Franklin, NC (4/10/15); Danny Hood family upon the death of his father, Jean (died 3/16/15 Goldsboro NC), David Ewan family, Buster Rhame family,  Lewie Harrell family; Betty McEntire family; Olin Rowe family Memorial service LMPC 7/19 2 PM; Lovic Brooks upon the death of his father, Lovic Brooks II- funeral 7/18 11AM Rosalayn UMC in Atlanta; Anne Peters upon the death of her mother 6/23; Pam Helms upon the death of her mother. Eric Rogers upon the loss of his grandmother; Ryan Donahue upon the loss of her grandmother;  Pat Griffin family (funeral at Westminster 5/15 7 PM); Shay Rube upon the death of her father; Kit Oswald upon the death of her mother; Becky Hash upon the death of her parent; 3/1 – John and Lee Riser upon the loss of his father.  2/7- Dede Elmore and family upon the loss of her mother, Betty Deane; 2/5- Danny Hood and family upon the death of his mother; 2/4 Will Clary- death of his mother in May, step-father in February; Jondy and Ken Loveless upon the loss of their nephew, Chase Loveless , Bill Salisbury Family, Hanes McEntire Family, Jenny Aldrich upon the death of her sister, Cathy Cook; Glenna Shuler Family, Bob Gjertsen Family, Neva Loftis Family, Sue Madden Family, Roland Lavigne Family, Dwayne Taylor Family, Mike Truluck Family OnGoing Health Concerns: Midge Burgess, Tricia Culluam, Paul Scott, Wendell Ligon Sr. (cancer);  Mike Burgin (Paul’s brother- heart 7/25); Nancy Whiteside, Shannon Harrill; Van Brown, Vickie McGahee, Phil Trefsgar, Paul Burgin, Joe David, Roxanne Edwards, Bill Bradshaw, Ruth Palassis Dave Shuler, Kay Sloan, Lewis Harrell, Otis Bobb, Marty Milam, Walt Rucker, Charles Cothran, Daniel White and Family, Serving our Country: Howard McKeone (Afghanistan); Cody Millager (Marines) Relatives and Friends:  Maureen Boeke- sister of Lorraine Gjertsen (cancer); Deborah Shields, sister of Judy Jarrett Brown, Bruce, Joanne and Mary Grace Loveless,brother of Ken Loveless; Praise and Thanks: Creighton Edward’s birth (Trish and Eddie grandparents); New Rogers baby- Julia Lane Rogers 6/15. LMPC concerns: “A Child Shall Lead Them” Campaign and Project, Construction- Speed and efficiency of the work; Session decisions, our church, presbytery and denomination, Sunday Schools classes and Bible studies, new offices, new parking and new daughter church “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor His ear to dull to hear.” Isaiah 59:1

“Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.”

“Pray continually.” I Thess. 5:17


5-3-15 “The Light in the Window”

To View Video of this sermon, click here;

The Light in The Window  5-3-15 1 Jn. 1: 5-7; Mt 5:14-16

This past week I attended a funeral of a senior at the University of SC.  There must have been a thousand young boys there in blue blazers.   The young man died of an overdose.   The young man appeared to be handsome, nice- had lots of friends, smart, his family even went to church.  Friends, we have to do something to keep our young people alive and give them hope- let them see the light of Christ and give themselves to Him.    There is a light in our window.   I think it got there one Christmas.  Like Tom Bodette- “we’ll leave the light on for ya.”  The Methodist minister in town said, “I see your light in your window each night- what is that about?”  That light is a prayer of welcome for all the prodigals out there- for those who stray away from hope and meaning, purpose and truth- to come home to the light.      I THERE IS AN IMPORTANT LIGHT TO HOLD OUT- One of the great images of the church for many years is a lighthouse.  The job of the lighthouse is to both show you the hazards and to show you the way into the harbor where the still waters are.  Jesus is that light.  We are called to reflect that light- and shine it.  As we hold forth the teachings of love and truth- grace and holiness together we bring something to the world that it does not normally see.        Several have asked me, “Okay so we have a new building, where do we go from here?”  Well the building is not an end in and of itself.  It is a tool to reach children and families with the faith hope and love of Christ.    Our mission statement formed years ago- and that I think is still very valid, says that we exist to “call the wandering heart home to Christ.”  We are to be like a light house.  It is not about the numbers or the money or the building.  In fact, we have said in our thinking that we do not want to purposefully become a mega church.  Yet we also know we cannot put signs out saying, “we are full- and you are not welcome.”   Our task is to be a lighthouse.  The church is an ark- but we are also  an ark that lights up and says “get inside  its raining out there.”  I am totally convinced that if we seek to love each other and to hold onto the light of the faith and hold out the light of the faith God will guide us- and be a lamp to our feet and a light to our path.
II. OUR TASK OF LIVING AS CHILDREN OF LIGHT- We should not just talk about the light- we should live in the light   Our passage says, “Let your light so shine before people that they may see your good works and glorify your Father.”  1 John says, “if we walk in the light as He is in the light we have fellowship with one another.”  Let us walk and not just talk.  40 years ago some started this church.    I hope we can have the vision that we do not want to keep our light under a bushel. Let me give the example of Peachtree Presbyterian in Atlanta.  Peachtree is a model church in many ways- the largest Presbyterian church in our denomination. I love Peachtree.  I have been there many times, and held our graduation ceremony there.  Many of you once were members there.   It ministers to a diverse group and is mission and outreached focused. I wish we could do half of what Peachtree does for missions.  But Peachtree has lost 3,000 members in the last five years.  Part of the reason is what is going on in our culture- but I refuse to buy that.  There are other churches around Peachtree that are growing.  Part of it is it stopped starting new daughter churches.   When you stop being a light- you grow dim.  God will not bless your witness if you are embarrassed or withdraw.  We have something to say that no one else can.  Peachtree had it as a goal to start a church a year and to build three Habitat houses a year for the needy. When it did this the church ironically exploded in growth.   Some have said we should not start new churches because of the denominational problems.  I say that is all the more reason to start a church.  Never does the Bible say to stop your witness when the church is in decline.  It should be just the opposite.  Everyone knows there are subdivisions popping up everywhere in the Chapin Irmo area.  There are new really good schools going up, and the low crime rate- sparked in large part by our faith and values-  will attract people to our area.  But if we say we don’t care that these new folk have a place to come as long as we meet our church budget and our sanctuary is full is so very sad.  If you want to keep your values- if you want to keep the low crime rate then continue to reach the new people for Christ.  That is done best when we start new churches.  Many would rather join something new and plug in right away.  Today the confirmation class joins.  Statistically, about half of this class will stop coming to church, Sunday School, and youth group in the next two years.  Probably one fourth will never come back to church.  This is my challenge to this class.  Do not snuff out your light.  Pass on the light of Christ to the next generation- do not let the light die with you this day.
III. OUR TASK OF HOLDING UP THE LIGHT- Don’t hide your light under a bushel.  Instead glorify God- let your light out.  If you believe Christ has helped you- then that is a reason to tell someone else about your faith.  There is a sense in which we are called to find content and peace in the light of God.  But that does not come at the expense of reaching out to others.  You don’t have to know everything about the faith to share it- in fact some of the best and our best evangelists- are children who simply invite another child to church or Sunday School.  Don’t let fear make you hide your light- someone needs you to be brave. Don’t let your own comfort level keep you from inviting another to join you.  Christianity is an inviting religion- whosoever will- let them come to the light  I have seen some of our teenagers pick up other teens and bring them to lock ins or conferences.      One of the things I have really appreciated about this church in its past is its willingness to be flexible and to put reaching out to others ahead of being comfortable.  It has been this attitude that has seen us through some tough times and has been a guiding light for our future.   As we grow, we must be patient and flexible with each other- just like a good family does.  We must respect each other- our differences- but also not lose sight of the light that brought us together in the first place.  There is room here for young and old.  We have added this sanctuary- one of the largest and most beautiful around to accommodate people.  We have added space for children and freed space up for adults and youth by doing so.  We are not like the people who move to Chapin and as soon as they see what a great place it is put up a sign that says, “Keep out and go away.”  Our church is a lighthouse- calling the wandering heart home into the harbor of Jesus Christ.  The world needs that.      There was a long running TV show called ER- ran from 1994- 2009.  Dr. Mark Green was a character-star and he was dying of inoperable cancer.  He decided he would go to his boyhood home of Hawaii to die.  He gathered his children around him and gave them his last bit of advice- “Be generous” is what he said.  Now there are many things we could say, but this is not a bad word of advice.  Be generous with your time- your money- your life- your smile- your kindness.  The Bible says “a generous person will themselves be blessed.”  Be generous with your faith.  Share it in action and in words.  Don’t hide it- but let all the world see it.      One of the things that isn’t told that much is the role the church played in calming things in Baltimore where riots were destroying the whole west side of the city.  One hundred seventy-five ministers gathered on North Avenue- a hot spot in the city.  They joined arms and stood between the rioters and the police  They had no idea what kind of reception they would get, but what they found was that thousands of citizens joined them.  They marched toward burning cars and looters and they scattered.   Even some gang members, surprisingly, joined behind them in the end.  It is the pastors and church members who need to go to our communities and tell our young people to get off the drugs and to avoid alcohol abuse.   I am not saying this because I am a saint- but because I know God saved me from drugs- I have friends who died in the 70s or ruined their lives with drugs and alcohol.  We have the light. We have hope and meaning in a world without both.   We need to hold it up.  These confirmands stand in sharp contrast to the young people who stray away from the light.  But there is a light in my window.  I pray that there will be a light in yours as well.

3-22-15 “Not Serving Sin”

“Not Serving Sin”  3-22-15 Rom. 6:11-14; Eph. 5:3-8
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In Romans 7 Paul asks the question “Who will rescue me?”  He feels trapped.  He says, “The good I know I ought to do- I don’t do it.  The evil I know I should not do – this I keep on doing.  I have the desire to do good but cannot do it.”  This is what Paul describes as slavery to sin.  George knew he was asking for trouble in his marriage if he met that woman alone at the bar- but he did it anyway.  Lacey knew she shouldn’t look on that other paper during the test but she did it anyway.  Calley knew she was opening up a war when she brought up her husband’s past mistakes- but she did it anyway.  The two year old knew they were not to wake that sleeping baby.  In fact that two year old looked right at her mommy who just told her not to wake the baby- and went over to the baby and poked him til her little brother cried.  Who will rescue us from ourselves?  We seem to be addicted, enslaved to doing what we know is not right. I. SIN TAKES AWAY OUR FREEDOM- There are some who are so shackled with guilt and sin that they refuse to hear.  They will never set foot in a place where they might hear the gospel because it is so painful to them.  We live in such an addictive culture that is self centered that we all know people who have been addicted to drugs or alcohol or work or shopping or something else.  Such addiction is not freeing.  Sin is part of our common problem.  Not everyone believes this.     Rousseau believed that we are naturally good and that sin was just something we made up to feel guilty.  He said if we would just eliminate all talk of sin- eliminate influence of the family, the church, and give all power to the government- who was also naturally good because it was a collective of naturally good individuals- then we would be set free. The French Revolution bought into this notion- Robespierre tried to put Rousseau’s beliefs into practice by eliminating the church and Sabbath.  300,000 nobles, priests, and political dissidents were arrested, and 40,000 were killed 1793-94 in what is now called “the reign of terror.”  Karl Marx followed this idea saying humans were basically good- they just needed the state to engineer their lives and if people worked hard they would find hope.  Stalin and Mao tried to put this into practice- and Stalin killed 50 million according to Norman Davies between 1924-53 not counting war deaths and Mao killed between 40-70 million in the cultural revolution.  Nietzsche also bought into Rousseau’s idea and added it to Darwin- coming up with social evolutionism which evolved into the idea of a super-race which led to Naziism.  French satirist Anatole France once observed, “Never have so many been murdered in the name of a doctrine, as in the name of the principle that human beings are naturally good.”           Truth is, God has offered us freedom In Him.  Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  Galatians says it like this: “For freedom Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and to not submit again to the yoke of slavery.”      Sin is like whatever addicts us. Not all addiction is sin- but all sin is addictive.  It may be gluttony, laziness, workaholism, gambling, or you could be a shopaholic.  It could be we are addicted to secondary things- social media, video games, entertainment, TV.   We can learn how sin works by looking at the twelve step program- think of it like alcohol.  You become tolerant to the lower levels- so you have to do more and more in a quest to get that same satisfaction that you had.  You tend to deny that you have a problem.  So the first step in the 12 step program is to admit you have a problem.  Sin actually keeps us rationalizing and excusing away our problem. You know you are really hooked when you try to escape the problems caused by your addiction by doing more of the thing to which you are addicted.  So Paul says I have the desire to do good but cannot do it.      John Newton was the captain of a slave ship.  He was an admitted alcoholic.  He was washed overboard on one of his voyages and it was this that made him call out to God.  He was dropped a life line and was hauled back in- a changed man.  He became a minister.  He wrote “Amazing Grace How Sweet the Sound that Saved a Wretch Like Me.”  William Wilberforce knew Newton and he was a champion for the elimination of slavery in England.  He often said that because he had been a slave to sin but was set free- that he fought hard for the illegalization and elimination of slavery from England. II. SIN TAKES AWAY OUR PLACE- A slave was a slave in that they were led to places that they did not want to go to do things they did not want to do.  I can remember getting a call from a very wealthy woman who said her son was in a very bad part of town and she was worried about him. He was there because of drugs.  I went there with another to find her son and it was a terrible, nasty, dark, scarey place.  My first question when we got the teenager into the car was, “How did you end up here?”  He had no idea. Have you ever asked that question?  Many times sin leads us to positions and places we do not want to go- but sin is like a powerful magnet that at first attracts us, then draws us, then pulls us in a headlong spiral if we are not careful.  We are designed to be children of God.  God desires that we know Him and love Him.  But sin makes us leave the presence and love of God in order to go our own way.  The Prodigal Son is an image of one who left His place at the Father’s house- to go off and squander his life- ending up in the pig’s pen.  This has been duplicated time after time after time.     Islam has it right that life is a struggle against evil.  The Christian image is that life is a battle against evil- so we are called to put on the helmet of salvation and use the shield of faith and the arrows of the Word.  There are personal and spiritual forces that would draw us away from the way of goodness into the way of disobedience and decadence.  These forces have not only been on the outside of the church, but they have also been on the inside of the church.       The place of God is a place of grace.  It is not that we have to do rule on rule- having everything perfectly right to get to heaven.  God knows our weakness.  When he sets us free from sin, he also sets us free from the rigor of the law- thinking we have to do everything “just so” in order to be a good Christian.      There are people who think that we would be better off if we could eliminate all the laws of Christianity.  But what we find is  that new laws and rules take its place, some of them not making any sense.  Instead what we find is that the one rule is no one should be offended in the least.  For some that is the only rule worth keeping.  There are legalists on the right who think that life is all about avoiding certain things-a kind of asceticism.  There also is a legalism of the left.  In the end both of these legalistic ideals have little grace toward each other or toward human beings in general.   The good news is we are not slaves to sin- but that also means we are not slaves to the law.  We live and breathe grace and live in non-judgement.  Christians who judge other Christians on the right- as if they were Neanderthals have forgotten Jesus’ example.  Christians who judge those on the left also have failed to find peace.  God has offered freedom to all people in Christ.  We should take that and go forward. III. JESUS FREES US TO SERVE AND LOVE- we are not set free in order to indulge ourselves. Nor are we set free in order to set up some high walls to keep all sin and the world out.  Donald Bloesch, who taught at Dubuque Presbyterian Seminary, said that the Christian has two conversions with Christ.  The first conversion is  repentance and faith- where we turn from our sin.  But the second conversion is where we turn in mission toward the world.  Calvin said this is what the Christian life consists of- dying to self and living for God.  Living for God always means reaching out to others in love. “Our task is not to make ourselves worthy in Gods sight- but to be available in God’s service” (Bloesch). Have you ever noticed that someone addicted to something cannot do much for others?  Their lives have dissolved into getting that new thing, gambling some more, going for that fix.  People think that their addiction is freeing- but it disintegrates into selfishness.  The drug addict not only doesn’t care about their family- they’ll steal from their family.  The person addicted to texting doesn’t have time to talk to the person sitting right next to them.  But when Christ sets us free- we can look around.         Martin Luther said, “A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none.  A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all; subject to all.”  Paul says, “Who will rescue me- the good I know I ought to do- I don’t do it; the evil I know I shouldn’t do- I do it.”  He asks the question again, “Who will rescue me from this way of death?—thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”  Christ came to set us free.  He releases us from the rigor of the law.  He releases us from perfection and pours upon us grace and mercy.  Tim Keller said, “Jesus lost his freedom so we could be free.”  He was nailed down so we might rise up.      Those who have paid a consequence for sin- are often the best missionaries against sin.  So a large percentage of those who grew up at Thornwell support it- for they know how much it meant to them.  Sue Madden used to talk about this- how growing up at Thornwell inspired her to help others in need. Alcoholics Anonymous is full of teachers who have gone through it and are willing to drop whatever they are doing to help someone they are sponsoring.  If you have been enslaved to some sin- and God has set you free- use your freedom to be a missionary to those in need- still stuck in whatever used to bind you.      If you look on the Oliver Gospel Mission’s website you will see several success stories.  Fred lost his job and apartment and was stuck in a life of alcohol and drugs.  He went to the Oliver Gospel Mission where he responded to the Gospel of Christ.  They put him to work as a cook- then trained him.  He could go and work other places but he wants to stay at the mission where he can do something for others who are like he used to be.