Category Archives: Church/Faith Articles

His Name Is (SS Presentation SJUMC 08052018)

Several people have asked if I could share the powerpoint from the Faithbuilders Sunday School class presented at St. James UMC in Athens, GA on August 5, 2018. The purpose of the lesson was to call attention to the large number of people who have yet to hear the good news of Jesus. This in spite of the fact that some 2,000 years ago He gave directions to his followers to go into all the world and make disciples.

I have added two items to the presentation:

  1. A brief description of the three stories I told in movie blurb format to help you recall
  2. A list of sources of the information  I used in the preparation for those who would like to go deeper.

The presentation can be accessed below by clicking on the link. This will lead you to a thumbnail that you can download to your computer or you can click on the thumbnail then start the slideshow to see the presentation online.


Note: If you were unable to be in class Sunday but would like to know more, please call or text me at 404.538.0628. I genuinely love talking about this topic.

That time God. . .

I am an introvert. Always have been. Those elementary, junior high, and high school moments where I would have to stand before the class and quote a poem, summarize a book, or give a report were sheer agony for me. As a teenager, I was asked speak before my home church on Laity Sunday as one of three other speakers. I had prepared and felt I had something good to say. As the Sunday got closer, my confidence got weaker. It was so weak by Sunday I begged off claiming a sore throat. Every personality test I took during my career confirmed that I was and am a bona fide introvert. Continue reading That time God. . .

Finding a Church

I have a peculiar trait. I rarely return from an auto trip, no matter how short, the same way I went. Such was the case when seeing my neurologist. Upon leaving her office, I turned left at the tee instead of the normal right. I quickly left the area of shops and fast-food restaurants and entered a lovely residential area. After a mile and a half, I came upon a church that was off my radar screen because it was outside our 15-minute radius of churches we were considering as a church home.

Just for kicks, I glanced at the clock on the dashboard and set my GPS to get me home the quickest way. I was surprised to find that the church was only 12 miles from home and the trip took 19 minutes. Deborah and I decided to visit the church the next Sunday.

Upon arrival at the 11:00 service we were greeted by ushers who seemed genuinely glad that we had joined them for worship. We settled into a pew and shortly a dapper gentleman approached and engaged us in conversation. He recognized that we were new, asked us how long we had been in the area, where we lived, and a few other non-invasive questions.

I particularly noticed he had taken out a paper and jotted down something as we spoke. I later found out he had written our names down so he could remember them and to give to the pastor in case we did not fill out the guest information in the pews. Shortly thereafter, another gentleman came over and introduced himself. I remember him well for he was holding a shofar. I made a quip about how nice it was that he was welcoming us with the sound of horn.

Several things stood out in the service. One was the energy of the congregation and the joy on their faces.  Nothing contrived here, just authentic worship. Lest you think I am only speaking of the music, the authentic worship was evident in every aspect of the service.

The next afternoon, around 6:00, the doorbell rang. Two men had stopped by with a  small gift and a word about how much they appreciated our visit. Over the next several weeks we were contacted by the senior pastor and executive minister of the church. They encouraged us to get involved in one of the classes the church offered. We were invited by a church member to the Wednesday night supper. More and more church members were engaging us and little by little this church was drawing us into relationship.

The worship services continued to impress. One thing that stood out was the worship leaders seemed devoid of ego. The senior pastor readily shared the pulpit with the executive minister, even doing a tag team message on one occasion. He often utilized lay people from the congregation to share experiences as illustrations of points in his message. The same selfless approach could be seen on the worship team as various skilled musicians and singers move in and out of spotlight roles.

Within my bailiwick, I was delighted to see an Acts 1:8 model being played out, whether by design or chance I do not know. I was especially impressed that they have singled out a roughly one square mile urban area within their Jerusalem and are in partnership with a church there. Would that more churches would intentionally identify and engage in ministry in a strategic and specific way to make a difference in their community.

After more than a year and a half of searching for a church we could call home, we are delighted to have found one. One that will challenge us spiritually, allow the development of deep and dear relationships, and provide an outlet for the gifts and graces God, through his Spirit, has given us. So, this Sunday, we will be transferring our membership to St. James United Methodist Church in Athens, GA, and we look forward with eagerness to see what God has in store.


Uncomplicating Evangelism

On many weekends, I have the privilege and blessing of being in a local church delivering TMS Global’s Activate Conference. These churches have invited me to either help ignite a passion for missions among the membership or to assist in taking their existing missions program to a higher level.

In the context of these weekends, the issue of evangelism has been increasingly raised. Continue reading Uncomplicating Evangelism

Reclaiming an Overlooked Missions Strategy

Those of you who fly are very familiar with the pre-departure instructions. “In the event of a decompression, an oxygen mask will automatically appear in front of you. To start the flow of oxygen, pull the mask towards you,” the flight attendant announces, and then, after more operating instructions, tells, “If you are traveling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask first, and then assist the other person.” Continue reading Reclaiming an Overlooked Missions Strategy

We Are a Friendly Church

Over the past sixteen years, as I have visited churches around the country, I often asked the parishioners what is the distinguishing characteristic of their church. By far and away, the most common response is, “We are a friendly church.” They are not alone. If you do a Google search for that specific phrase, you will get over 18,000 hits. It seems like a lot of people think they attend a friendly church.

A closer look at those 18,000 Google hits reveals that if you want to experience this “friendliness,” in most cases you are going to have to seek them out. Over and over again you see phrases such as: Continue reading We Are a Friendly Church

A Kingdom Approach

I was watching the President’s Cup Golf Tournament when a commercial grabbed my attention. The ad explained how a professional basketball court is always 94 X 50 feet; an Olympic swimming pool is always 50 X 25 meters; a tennis court is always 78 X 36 feet, but a golf course is different. No two are exactly alike. In other words, no matter the city in which LeBron James plays, he can count on the court being the same as all of the other courts he plays. Whether Serena Williams is at the US Open, Wimbledon, or any other venue, the Continue reading A Kingdom Approach

Of Shade Trees and Fruit Trees

Back in the day when short-term mission ventures were a novelty, I, along with two of my cohorts, received an invitation to speak about one such mission at the morning worship service of an historic denominational church.  The church building itself was lovely with four massive columns at the front, beautiful woodwork on the inside, and a seating capacity for some 400 worshippers. On the morning we were there, the congregation Continue reading Of Shade Trees and Fruit Trees

The Urgency of the Gospel

Dr. Maxie Dunnam, President Emeritus of Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky,  is fond of saying, “Last words are important.” Most often, he is referring to the last words of Jesus spoken to a group of His followers gathered on the Mount of Olives immediately prior to His ascension. His final words as recorded by Luke in Acts 1:8 are, “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 

I have spoken last words enough times to know that on these occasions Continue reading The Urgency of the Gospel

A Holy Communion to Remember – Part 2

One thing I have noticed, except in the more highly liturgical churches, is that Holy Communion has become less of a focal point in our church services and more of a tack on occurrence. In my younger days, I recall communion Sunday as a day when the pastor’s message would be somewhat shorter and much more time was given to “the ritual” with its Scripture readings, congregational responses, and high reverence given to the elements. As a youngster, I remember the phrase, “We acknowledge Continue reading A Holy Communion to Remember – Part 2

A Holy Communion to Remember – Part 1

It was a Palm Sunday weekend that my wife and I were visiting our favorite southern coastal city.  We decided to attend the Sunday services of one of the many historic churches in the downtown area. After looking up churches in our own denomination, we discovered none were all that historic compared to some others, so we chose one in the Anglican tradition that George Washington had attended when he was in the area.

We arrived a bit early and were immediately confronted with a dilemma. Instead of the normal long pews to which we were accustomed, this Continue reading A Holy Communion to Remember – Part 1

My First Mother’s Day Without My Mom – And All Is Well

Tomorrow will be the first Mother’s Day since my mom passed from this earthly life this past December. It is easy to become super maudlin at a time such as this.  I would not and do not fault those who do. However, I choose to do otherwise. Yes, it is my first Mother’s Day without my Mom—and all is well. Lest you think me insensitive or cold-hearted, let me explain by giving three reasons I feel the way I do. Continue reading My First Mother’s Day Without My Mom – And All Is Well