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Showing posts from 2016

Bannister Life Review 2016 (TFC Friends)

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It's been a long time since we talked.  But because of technology, like Facebook, we have been able to keep up with all of you.  The line from the old Michael W. Smith song is true, "Friends are friends forever, if the Lord's the Lord of them."  After being in ministry for the past 15 years and watching all of you stand strong in the faith, I have a profound appreciation of this truth. So let me begin by saying, we are so glad to call you our friends.  Distance tends to make strangers of us all, life continues to happen outside our shared class schedule we had at TFC.  Family, children, jobs, ministry as well as sickness and trouble have appeared on our Facebook feeds concerning all of you, keeping us informed and helping to know how to pray for you, as the years have flown by.
Vacations have been few and far between for us and visitations to our old stomping grounds, because our family is from the area, haven't netted the connection with each of you that we woul…

When "Thank You" Isn't Enough

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Blessed. 

Humbled.

Stunned silent (if anyone can really imagine that for me).

Over the last 15 years, I have had the privilege to be a pastor at Heights Christian Church.  During the last eight, I have shared the task of co-pastoring with Mark.  In 2008, with Mark coming on staff, we had just created our "new" mission and vision statement of "Love God, Love God's People, Love Serving God" for our church.  Our goal was to make a community where making disciples and truly desiring God was part of our DNA.

I wish I could accurately describe how I feel about our fellowship.  The people there are more than just friends and fellow believers in Christ, they truly are family.  As a matter of fact, our children's godparents are there.  Our staff doesn't just have meetings together, we pray together, laugh together, get in one another's faces when necessary and more than anything else, love on one another.  Our elders are much the same as we pray through the…

How far is too far?

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Since I work with youth, you might have guessed that this post is about the election.

I have had a lot of people ask me about the election wanting to know my opinion concerning the mess we are walking into in about 3 weeks.  This represents my thought process concerning the election and the candidates involved.  I realize that not everyone will agree with these thoughts or my decision and I hope to cover some of the other views and the reasonings behind their views too.

If you are repulsed, confused and just plain tired of the election this year...join the club.  Never in all my life have I so sincerely wished for Election Day to just go away.

My dilemma, and the problem for many people, is that the main candidates are so repulsive that whether I vote or not, I feel as if I am throwing away my vote.



I feel like Vizzini from the Princess Bride.  A clever man would want to keep the poison as far away from him as possible, so I clearly cannot pull the lever for Hillary.  But knowing I w…

Why the Gospel is the Best "Help" You Can Give Someone

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As a pastor, I have seen great need come knocking at my door.  It is one of the things that I honestly wasn't prepared for.  Maybe not so much the need itself, but the sheer magnitude of the need and the consistency by which the need has presented itself over the years.  The homeless, the sick, the stranded, the single mothers financially struggling, the hungry, the relationally shattered and the desperate have all visited my office.

They have all come for one reason:  We are the church and this is supposed to be a place of help and hope. 

At the church, the need seems to come in waves.  There are sometimes whole seasons with very few needs presented.  Then, there are times where days and even weeks are filled with encounters of these heart wrenching stories from men, women and families who have come seeking a hope of relief.

I wish that I could say I have always met these needs the way that Jesus would want me to, but I am sure that I have failed about as many times as I have s…

The Problem with "Privilege"

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In a fallen world, we have become obsessed with fairness.  While there are certain admirable qualities about being fair and desiring fair and equal outcomes to equal situations, we have taken things a step further:  We have decided to trace all perceived injustices back to their ancestral roots and blame the current generation for past misgivings and the benefits they may have received (or just assumed they have received) as a result of such injustice.

It is understandable that the world is having a hard time reconciling the idea that while all men are created equal in the sight of God, not all men are born into equal circumstances because of the fallen nature of the world we live in.  However, this very plain truth should be evident for every Christian.

As I search the Scriptures, I do not see God holding people responsible for sins of a past generation, even if there was gain by the current generation because of it.  To be sure, sins of one generation can affect the generations to f…

The One Commodity Needed for Discipleship

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If I were to ask you:  What is the one thing that you need in order to effectively disciple others?  What would you answer?

I can imagine a great number of you would say "A knowledge of God's Word" or "Effective ways for reaching out".  And while these things are paramount, even necessary, they are but an outgrowth of something even more necessary than that.

The one commodity needed for discipleship, above everything else, is TIME.

If I take away time, then I can take away knowledge of the Word of God.  I can take away opportunities for outreach.  I can take away everything that has to do with discipleship, by simply taking away time.

Take a look at the Great Commission:

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.--The words of Jesus (Matthew 28:19-20)

How can we pos…

The Tempting Allure of False Apologies

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"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on My account.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you."  (The words of Jesus; Matthew 5:10-12 ESV)

I wonder how John the Baptist would be treated today.  I know that it seems like a strange place to start...but follow me here.
John the Baptist had basically one job...to prepare the way for the Lord (see Matthew 3:1-12; Mark 1:1-8; Luke 3:1-17; John 1:19-28; Isaiah 40:3).  And he had one message...Repent!
People came from all around in anticipation of the Lord's coming.  So they asked questions of John in practical terms to understand what "repentance" was.  He told the crowds to be generous with what they had to the poor (Luke 3:10-11).  He told the tax collectors, who were used to…

The Blurry Line of Collective Christian Conscience and Individual Christian Freedom

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I worry for the church in these tumultuous times. 

As I look at the headlines of our ever changing nation, I know that I can be overwhelmed with the speed and ferocity by which we see our country's ethical standard deteriorate.  This transition which I am seeing is disappointing, but not unexpected.  As a matter of fact, I have been talking about these changes for about a decade.   

My worry for the church isn't in whether or not Jesus will keep His church.  He has already bought and paid for His bride with His blood.  He has given us the promised Holy Spirit which is to convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment and also to lead the believer into truth and seal him for the day of redemption.  The church...the true confessing, believing church...is safe in the arms of their Savior.

My worry is over whether the church will be one, as Jesus wants them to be:  United as one body with many parts, who all have a function for the edification of the body while providing s…

Has Your Faith Become Counterfeit?

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I worked at a bank for many years.  And for those who know me, I gave them as hard of a time as any of my youth in my current youth group.  Aside from the phone calls that I gave to the person next to me, I actually learned a thing or two about banking.

One of the most important lessons that we were taught was about counterfeit money.  At a seminar in Savannah, we were taught to recognize all types of counterfeit things.  The best way to recognize a counterfeit bill was to be intimately acquainted with the real thing.  Before we even encountered any of the counterfeits, we spent a good part of the day looking at the real bills.  We felt their texture.  We learned every little secret about the bill.  Some are well known to the public.  Some are not. 

To be honest, by the time we were done, we were bored.  I mean, this is the currency that we handled and counted everyday...numerous times a day.  Yes, we know what a one dollar bill looks like.  Yes, we know what a twenty feels like.  Ye…

How "Instant" Has Ruined Self-Control

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Good things come to those who wait...or so the saying goes.  I wonder if the person who invented that phrase could have foreseen the age of the internet and smart phones.

The idea of waiting for anything in our culture has become anathema.  So much so that we have road rage incidents when we are caught in traffic.  We get impatient at the grocery store when we choose the wrong line and have to stay 5 minutes longer because of our misstep.  We are always in a hurry and when we fall behind, we have no grace for those who have cost us those precious moments that we will never get back.  (Just ask my kids as they have been the target of my wrath for the 2 minutes that I think I'm behind...only to still arrive on time.)

This hurried culture has made us a less patient people, and as a result, less self controlled.

This lack of self control manifests itself as a reactionary people whose peace is only found in the feeling of the moment.  If the experiences we have in life make us feel go…

Juggling a Relationship with Christ

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If I were to ask you how you were doing in your relationship with Christ...how would you answer?

If you are like a lot of people, immediately your mind runs to two areas of spiritual devotion:  prayer and getting into the Word.  From these two areas, we often assess our relationship with God.  Usually when looking at these areas, the common response I hear is that prayer is alright and Bible reading is non-existent or could do a lot better.

Responses like that make me sad for two reasons.  First, as Christians, we have identified only two disciplines and called it our relationship with God.  And secondly, we aren't very good at even those two disciplines.

Listen to the following verses from Romans 12:1-2:

Therefore, I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove…

Happy or Holy?

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Our goal as believers is to strive for holiness.  Not just for ourselves but for our fellow believers.  It should also be our prayer for those who don't yet know Jesus. 

However, in our personal conflict avoiding society, we are often settling for far less...happiness. 

"If it makes them happy..." has become the mantra and wish of our generation and many of us, as Christians, have fallen for it.  We may not personally agree with the choices that they make, but instead of taking a stand for holiness, we settle for wishing them happiness. 

Happiness is easy.  It costs you nothing to wish someone happiness.  Happiness has no conviction other than happiness be the goal.  The greatest evil to happiness is that which denies someone the happiness they seek.  Happiness says that relationship must be preserved at all costs beyond condition.  Which is what makes happiness, in our society, one of the biggest hindrances to holiness.

For the sake of happiness (or peace), I have se…

Teaching Children (and Adults) to Avoid Drama

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I have a drama queen in my family.  Maybe you have the same.

Now I love my daughter with this trait with all my heart.  However, as a father, I recognize that this drama queening will get her into a LOT of trouble in life, if I don't guide her through how to properly handle conflict (whether it is conflict with her own desires and wants or with others).

Give me a moment to define the term drama queen (or king).  A drama queen (or king) is someone who over-exaggerates the importance of trivial matters.  These trivial matters then become the most important thing that is happening in their lives...at that moment.  Because of this attitude, there becomes unrest in their lives and everyone else's lives around them.  Their happiness and joy is affected by these trivial matters.  Fights begin.  Pouting happens.  Slammed doors.  Loud wails.  Disconcerted complaining about how unfair life is.  Exaggerated sighs or looks.  And all because you told them "no" to watching their f…