Birthdays have always been a family affair for me. When growing up, mom would cook a big meal, make a chocolate cake, and invite my favorite aunt and uncle (my second parents) over to help commemorate the event. For the Lewis clan, birthdays are still pretty much about family, although the pace, place, and partying has changed just a bit since the arrival of grandkids. Our little ones absolutely love a decorated cake with flaming candles. No one’s celebration is complete without lots of help for the ceremonial blowing out, and maybe a slight spitting, on the cake. Hey, a little spit from a child, especially a grand one, is acceptable.
This past week, my celebration took on a little different aspect for me because I’ve reached another milestone. I hit the big 6-0. I’m not looking for sympathy or applause … just stating a fact. That front number I’ve been dealing with the past 10 years just changed. I am now slightly into my sixties. Hmmm. There was a time that seemed really old, but now not so much. It’s all a matter of perspective.
I am truly grateful for the years the Lord has given me and look forward to the days ahead. I am so thankful that He has put us all together here “for such a time as this.” There is much He continues to want to do in and through us. This pastor is not quite ready for the pasture.
This week DHBC celebrates our anniversary. On October 15, 2006 we started this incredible journey as a new church in this facility. Today I look back with a grateful heart over all that has taken place over the past nine years. What’s even more amazing, and a testimony to the spirit of cooperation that abides in our congregation, is that after only one week of being open back in 06, we held our first Fall Fest on this campus. The kitchen wasn’t even finished. Through the years this community event has continued to grow and has become a massive undertaking, but a wonderful outreach opportunity. We literally cannot put it together or pull it off without lots of support from each one of you. There is a volunteer sheet on the board at the North end of the Grand Hall. Please pick a place and sign up today. If we all pitch in, then we can take turns and give each other a break! This year’s event is October 25 from 3pm to 5:30. Also keep in mind that we need plenty of help setting up and tearing down.
I also want to thank those of you who responded to the challenge of Beyond Beyond Measure. To date we have received 3 year pledges amounting to $594,913.00. We anticipate that number to rise over the next few months as others covenant with us to see the dream of expanding our facilities become a reality.
I heard the prolific songwriter Bill Gaither say that there were only two kinds of songs they sang – ones they had written and those they wished they had written. I understand that sentiment. I heard a statement the other day that I wish I had thought to say:
“If you think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, maybe you should try watering your own pasture.”
Wow! What a simple but profound observation. We are sometimes casting a wistful eye over the fence when we probably ought to be spending a little more time tending our own yard. At DHBC we are committed to helping provide the tools that will help you focus on your own spiritual yard instead of just admiring others. However, I remind you today that you have a responsibility in all of this. As the old saying goes, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” I pray that your “church experience” here will result in some abundant living. According to the actual words of Jesus, it is exactly why He came and what He wants for you.
P.S. Oh, by the way, the grass is not always as green as it looks from a distance… it could just be artificial turf.
“I came that you might have life, and have it more abundantly.” John 15:15
Below is a letter that I received recently from the President and CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention. I hope it will encourage you as it did me. May we never stop joining with others to fulfill the Great Commission.
Dear Pastor Lewis,
On behalf of Southern Baptists across the world, I want to say a word of heartfelt thanks to you and your church for your increased Cooperative Program giving this past year! Every Cooperative Program dollar is an investment in SBC missions and ministries, and provides DeSoto Hills Baptist Church, as well as 46,494 other Southern Baptist churches, an opportunity to embrace a balanced Acts 1:8 missions strategy. I cannot overemphasize the importance of our cooperation in the gospel and the high leverage impact of our beloved and time honored funding strategy, the Cooperative Program.
This brief letter is woefully inadequate to express a sincere sense of heartfelt gratitude on the part of every international missionary, every church planter in North America and Canada, every plateaued or struggling church, and so many other people who are impacted by the sacrificial and generous missions giving of DeSoto Hills Baptist Church, through the Cooperative Program.
Think about this. If every Southern Baptist church were to increase their Cooperative Program giving as DeSoto Hills Baptist Church has done this past year, it would result in almost $100 million dollars for SBC missions and ministries each year! Again, I thank God for your missions giving, and I trust you and your church will continue to “set the pace” for Southern Baptist churches in missions giving! As partners in the gospel through SBC missions and ministries, fueled by the Cooperative Program, Southern Baptists, no matter where they are in the world, are not alone!
God bless you!
Frank S. Page, Ph.D.
President and Chief Executive Officer
Southern Baptist Convention
On October 15, 2006, DeSoto Hills Baptist Church opened her doors for the first time. From the beginning, it has been an incredible journey. I am so thankful for our wonderful facilities, but because of rapid growth, we’ve been challenged to work with limited space. We knew we’d need to start out with two sessions of Sunday school, but within only a few months saw the need to add a second worship service.
Education space continues to be a concern for our growing fellowship. We need to expand the preschool area, create a dedicated space for our children, have some larger classrooms, and develop new adult classes. These issues will be addressed in Phase II of our Master Facility Plan. The project is called “Beyond Beyond Measure”.
We are approaching the end of the three-year commitment that many of you made to give above and beyond your tithe so that we could be in a better financial position to build. We are now asking you to consider continuing this commitment for the purpose of helping us make the loan payments associated with this expansion. For those of you who are new, or for whatever reason were not a part of Beyond Measure, this will be an opportunity for you to get on board to help us build for the future.
The Long Range Strategic Planning Team is making an official proposal outlining the project today. We will be asking you to prayerfully consider making an anonymous pledge on October 4. If the amount pledged is favorable and if financing can be secured, the team will follow up as soon as possible with a motion that we proceed with Phase II construction.
These are exciting times. Please continue to pray for the Lord’s guidance as we seek to meet the needs of our community and our church family.
A sister church has recently made the difficult decision to close their doors after decades of ministry to their community. Southcrest Baptist Church on Rasco Road had their final service last Sunday morning. DHBC has had a special connection with this congregation because one of our own, Brandon Ullrich, has faithfully sought to shepherd them for the past eight years while at the same time working a full time job. (Not an easy task) Please join me in praying for the remaining members of Southcrest this week as they come to terms with the finality of this decision and begin the task of finding new places to serve the Lord. It’s my prayer they will not view this merely as “the end”, but rather as “the beginning” of a new chapter in their spiritual journey.
Especially pray for Brandon as he looks to and waits on the Lord to open up new avenues of ministry. In the meantime, we welcome him back to DeSoto Hills. I have a suspicion his wife Laura will have him pretty involved in our Children’s Ministry. You know what they say happy wife… happy life.
It’s hard to believe the unofficial “end of summer” is upon us as we pause to enjoy this long Labor Day weekend. It seems like yesterday we were all excited about Memorial Day and kicking off another season of fun in the sun. However, now that school is back in full swing, the relaxed days of summer already seem far behind us.
I want to take this particular holiday time to THANK the many of you who LABOR here week after week to help do the ministries of DHBC. As I have said on many occasions, we literally could not function effectively as a church without you. You teach classes, hold children, pass plates, move chairs, cook meals, and the list goes on and on. If you have not found a place of service yet, I encourage you to get involved. If you need help finding how or where to get plugged in, just ask. We always have a long list of needs.
“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”
I Corinthians 15:58
Last Saturday, Kathy and I were in Louisville, Mississippi doing what my folks called “window shopping.” We were spending a quick night at the farm and decided to make the half-hour drive to Louisville to check out the inventory at a local car dealership. We were just looking, but as you know, they love to get you in the door and quickly start their sales pitch. I can’t fault them for this, its just business. There is always a chance that “looking” might turn to “buying” if – in the words of Bob Barker- “the price is right.” Anyway, the folks in the dealership were very nice and obviously wanted to help us find the perfect vehicle.
Somewhere in the conversation, the young salesman asked me what I did for a living. I told him I was a pastor. We talked about church for a little while and then he asked something that surprised me, “I suppose it’s too early for you to tell me what you’re preaching on tomorrow?” Now just ponder that question a moment. It was almost noon on Saturday and I was 3 hours from home sitting in a car dealership and this guy thinks I don’t have a clue what I’m going to be preaching at 9:00 AM the next morning? I don’t know what world he’s living in, but it’s certainly not my world. I quickly told him that I was preaching through the Gospel of Mark and we would be looking at Jesus’ wilderness experience. I also added (with a smile on my face) that if I were not ready for Sunday, I would not be sitting with him even remotely talking about the possibility of purchasing a vehicle. Kathy laughed and wholeheartedly agreed. I’m not saying God can’t give you a message at the spur of the moment, but I learned many years ago that He is normally more than willing to give me a word Monday morning if I will simply have ears to hear. I am fully aware that there are some bi-vocational pastors who have limited time and may have to prepare on Saturday, but that’s probably more the exception than the rule. I’ve found that when it comes to preparing to preach, early is always better than later.
“Do your best (study) to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has not need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”
II Timothy 2:15
Throughout my 40 plus years of ministry, I have always been very cautious of appearing to have some kind of political agenda. My political views are just that … mine. My challenge and responsibility is to continue to help all of us have a biblical worldview. The Lord and His Word should be our guiding light during these dark times. However, while I steer clear of telling you how to vote, I have no reservations in reminding you that it is your patriotic privilege and responsibility to vote. Our last election saw only 25 percent of registered voters casting their ballots in DeSoto County. Yes, only 1 out of 4 voters took the initiative and time to let their voice be heard. You should exercise this right no matter how major or minor you consider the office or issues addressed by the ballot.
However, in an election that decides who will stand at the helm and guide DeSoto County Schools in the foreseeable future, it is absolutely mind boggling that so few would go vote. Even if you don’t have children within the system, the public schools have a tremendous impact on the economy and well being of our county. Businesses and industry look carefully at the educational opportunities for employees’ families before making a decision to locate in a specific area. Don’t forget. We have a runoff election on August 25.
Please weigh your decisions before the Lord as you go to the polls. Let your voice be heard and breathe a prayer of gratitude that you live in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
A couple of years ago, a consultant from LifeWay that I know and respect, visited our church on a Wednesday night. Our regular “365” schedule was in place and activities were going on all over our facilities. As usual, the place was humming. Tom looked at me during supper and said, “There is a lot of energy in this place.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Well, I’m happy to announce that the “365” surge starts back this Wednesday evening, August 19. Mission organizations, children’s choirs, the youth service, and adult classes including Divorce Care will all resume along with THE MEAL. Volunteers are in place to help cook and serve. You can look forward to enjoying a good meal at a great price served from 5-6pm. So join us for food and fellowship, followed by a variety of inspiring classes.
After some prayerful consideration, I have asked Bro. Grant to take over the responsibilities of sharing a brief study with you during our “Praise, Prayer, and Proclamation” time. He is a gifted teacher and I wanted you to have an opportunity to hear from him on a consistent basis. I will continue to be teaching “Discovering DeSoto Hills” as part of the 365 schedule
The first time Kathy and I met her face to face was in the Memphis International Airport concourse. We welcomed her that day to the Mid-South and it wasn’t long before we all welcomed her into our hearts. They say time flies when you are having fun, so I guess we’re having a ball. It’s hard to believe it’s already been five years since Laura joined our church family as Minister to Children. A lot has happened since her arrival. Ms. Smitherman became Mrs. Brandon Ullrich in March 2012. In December 2013, she and Brandon welcomed their precious baby girl Addisyn into the world. Next Sunday morning, August 16, we will be recognizing her in both services and honoring her with a reception in the Grand Hall from 10 to 10:30. I hope you will join us for this time of celebration.
As summer begins to wind down, we are gearing up for another great fall season at DHBC. Today we begin a new Sunday morning VENTURE that will take us through The Gospel of Mark.
I have also decided to start using a different VERSION of the scripture. The English Standard Version is a solid translation that has been around for a long time. As always, the scripture will be up on the screens, so there is no need for you to rush out immediately and buy a new Bible. However, if you are in the market for one, you may want to check out the ESV. Most bookstores, including LifeWay, have a large selection of this translation. We have some paperback copies available ($3) at the Welcome Center if you would like to test drive one.
I also plan to experiment using a new VEHICLE to read the passage each week in an attempt to help us savor the scripture in an even greater way. It’s an experiment that is certainly worth trying.
This is the day that the Lord has made, so let’s rejoice in it!
In January 2013, we started a scriptural journey through four of Paul’s epistles that I referred to as the “Chain Gang” due to the fact that he wrote them all from prison. Our two and a half year journey ends today with Paul’s letter to Philemon. In a couple of weeks we will begin a new Sunday morning study through the Gospel of Mark. I look forward to intentionally focusing on the life of Jesus through this unique gospel account. (I’ll be out next week taking some vacation time with my family.)
Let me take this opportunity to reiterate that when it comes to preaching, I have a personal conviction that I should make sure I’m teaching the Word to my flock. It may not work for everyone, and frankly it may not appeal to everyone, but I believe the best approach for me is to preach through books. I may detour from time to time, but my rule of thumb is to just take a book of the Bible and preach through it passage by passage. This allows the scripture to pick the topic. We have to look at it all…not just pick and choose what we want. Some say to be relevant, you need to stay away from this style of preaching, but I believe a systematic approach to the scripture continues to be a viable way to enlighten folks, regardless of where they are on their spiritual journey.
Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction.
II Timothy 4:2
“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” a lady came to my office with a long list of grievances against me, one of which was that I mentioned my family too often from the pulpit (and also that I did not stay behind the pulpit while preaching, but that’s a story for another day). Anyway, she did not like the fact that I periodically made references about my family and my love for them. I hope none of you feel that way because now that grandkids are in the picture, that tendency has multiplied…..
I was playing with Riley in the pool our first swim of the summer. We were enjoying the typical stuff with her jumping off the side into my arms and me holding her up while she paddled around. It seemed to me that only yesterday I was holding a pudgy and rather timid baby in the water. Now she was a lanky little girl having the time of her life and that’s when it hit me. I told Riley that I believed she was now tall enough to touch the bottom of the pool with her head above water. To her credit, she quickly tried it and the look of absolutely wonder on her face is something I will never forget. Standing on her own in the pool changed everything. Since that time she has taken some lessons and is paddling around all over the place. Life is good.
Perhaps today you know someone who needs to be assured that they can stand on solid ground. They may feel like they are drowning in a sea of concerns, but take heart… Jesus is still the firm foundation. You might just be the very one to help lead them to sure footing.
“For no one can lay any foundation other than the foundation that has already been laid, which is Jesus Christ.” I Corinthians 3:11
This summer’s Independence Day celebrations were probably a bit overshadowed for many of us due to the current affairs dominating the headlines. It’s hard to fathom, not to mention swallow, the overwhelming moral decline that is taking place in our nation. It seems that everywhere you turn, wickedness is being glorified, while those who stand upon Biblical principles are being vilified. If you dare question the direction our country is going on these issues, you are labeled as being out of touch, old fashioned, bigoted, or a hate monger.
We certainly join with others in condemning hate crimes like the one committed recently in Charleston. There is simply no excuse for that kind of behavior. We grieve over the attitudes that would result in such a horrific act.
However, let’s be clear. It should never be a crime to hate that which the scripture defines as sinful. In fact, the Bible clearly states this in Romans 12:9 when Paul reminds the Christians in Rome that they should
“Hate what is evil, cling to what is good.”
Recent events highlight how prophetic and spot on the words of Jesus continue to be for His followers:
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belong to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you…I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 15:18-18, 16:33
I trust His words will help us stand firm and faithful during these difficult days. Let me caution you in dealing with all of this not to shoot from the hip, but rather from the heart. We need to continue to hold high the light of Jesus to a world that is in need of Him. He continues to be our only hope. No matter what, remember this:
“Greater is He that is in us, than he that is in the world.” I John 4:4
Recently I had to make a quick and unsettling trip to the Nashville area to check on my mother. She was in the hospital recovering from a mild stroke, which thankfully, had not left her with any kind of paralyses. Both she and my sister were insisting that I not come since she was doing well and was scheduled be dismissed after spending only a couple of days in the hospital.
However, all that changed since the very afternoon she was to go home, she had a reaction to some medicine and then fell in the hospital. My sister called early that evening to give me an update. I could tell in her voice that things were not good. Although she told me to wait and see what the MRI showed before coming, I headed to Nashville very early the next morning anyway. A little after 7am I was sitting in Mom’s room talking with my sister while mom slept. Thankfully her condition had improved during the night and she was resting well. As we talked, Mama woke up and was surprised to see me sitting there. She talked a few minutes and then my mother, always the fashion icon said, “You have on a new pair of shoes, don’t you?” If fact I did have a new pair and she obviously liked them. We had a good laugh that after a having a stroke, taking a fall, and having some major side affects from her medication, my mother still noticed my stylish shoes. Life is good.
Thanks for your prayers and concerns. Mom is home and improving everyday.
“A merry heart does good like medicine” Proverbs 17:22
I hear that tech savvy people call it “the white screen of death”, but at the time, all I called it was BIG TROUBLE. I was on I-55 heading south when suddenly, my smart phone froze up and the screen went white. I could not make a call, or text, or even shut the thing off. There was seemingly nothing I could do besides stare at it helplessly. I was traveling alone on my way to the farm to join the rest of the family as they were gathering to celebrate Jami’s birthday. I hadn’t slept well the night before and after preaching twice on Sunday morning, I was pretty worn out. Kathy was concerned about me being on the road, but I assured her I would stay awake and in touch. Little did I know that the “in touch” part of that statement wouldn’t happen. What made the whole situation worse was that she kept calling me repeatedly. My phone was ringing, but I could not answer it. Of course, these days there were no pay phones along the way. As I silently made my way towards Leake county, I was reminded of how very dependent we have become on these devices. There was a time when no one thought anything about climbing into a vehicle and driving hours upon hours without talking to anyone other than your fellow passengers. I made it to the farm without incident and Kathy, as you might imagine, was elated to see me. Marc arrived and showed me how to reset my phone. To my great relief, it starting working again.
Perhaps today it is not your electronics that are giving you trouble, but just life in general. You may feel like you are experiencing “the white screen of death” where nothing seems to be working. Take heart. All is not lost. Allow the Master to set things right and your life will be running again in no time.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
We were eating supper when Kathy quietly gave me the news, “Today was the children’s last day at our house.” Now typically “no kids” is okay. We adore them, but it has been an extremely busy year with KK keeping all four little ones. Any break is appreciated and the summer months will be nice. However, this year the news of their departure hit me like a ton of bricks. My eyes began to water as I looked over toward Kathy who quickly said, “I don’t want to talk about it!” This actually meant that she didn’t want to even think about it.
The reason for our sober mood is because this Fall our two oldest girls are heading to PreK. Although we’ve had them since they were tiny babies, Kathy won’t be keeping them on a regular basis anymore. I know it’s part of growing up and we’ll still have the two younger ones to dote over awhile longer. However, it pains me to think about not seeing the two smiling faces every morning that started this whole wonderful era of our GRANDparenthood. Their hugs and kisses brightened my day as I headed off to work. It’s been such a privilege watching them grow right before our eyes. The days were often hectic, but we would not have missed this for the world. I truly believe these precious little ones have been greatly impacted by someone they affectionately call “KK”. May it remind all of us to make the most of every day.
Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
All I can say is “WOW!” Words typically come fairly easy for me, but there seems to be none available to accurately convey what a tremendously awesome week we had at VBS 2015. The weather was perfect, the crowds were large, the volunteers were prepared, the kids were pumped, the décor was creative, the music was exciting, and the teaching was Biblical. What a wonderful opportunity we had to touch so many young ones in such a short period of time. A big, BIG, BIG THANKS to all of you who worked so tirelessly to see this year’s event come together. Also, a heartfelt thank you to those who faithfully prayed for us. We could not have made it without your support. Some of us worked long and hard Friday afternoon getting the building back in shape for today. However, if you should find something out of place, just stop and breathe a silent prayer of gratitude for the children who filled this place to the brim last week. It is our prayer that what they heard and experienced will have a powerful and prolonged impact upon their life.
It gives me great delight to announce that Vicki Bullock will be joining our staff as my new Administrative Assistant beginning in July. She and her husband Al are charter members of DeSoto Hills and were instrumental in helping us make the move from Farmington Drive to Getwell Road back in 2006. Vicki also served on the Pastor Search team that brought me to Southaven in 1998. For the past 37 years she has worked with the DeSoto County School system in a variety of capacities both as a teacher and administrator. Her experience and people skills are going to be a great asset to the DHBC staff. I am convinced that for “for such a time as this” the Lord has once again provided for the needs of our church in a remarkable way. Pray for Vicki as she closes out one chapter of her life and prepares to begin another.
It was a comedy of errors in the midst of a very serious situation. A church member was having surgery at Regional One (formerly known as The Med.) Typically any surgery done there is more in the category of emergency rather than elective. However, this procedure was part of an ongoing struggle due to a very traumatic automobile accident.
I checked with the patient and they were to be at the hospital at 6 AM. Because I had never been to Regional One to check on a person having elective surgery, I decided it would be wise to arrive a little early. The only doors open at that time of the morning are at the Emergency Room entrance. Once inside I encountered two security personnel behind a glass enclosure. I told them why I was there and they both stared at me as if I were from outer space. Finally, they directed me towards a receptionist in the ER waiting room. As soon as I told her why I was there, she sent me right back to the same two security guys I had just left. Eventually they figured out where I needed to be. After passing through the mental detector, I was told to take the elevator to the 4th floor and hang a left. The place seemed deserted. There was no outpatient surgery center in sight.
Finally I did what strikes fear into the heart of every male… I found two hospital employees and asked for help. One of them brought me to a small set of doors, swiped his card, and led me into what appeared to be a holding center. When I asked about the patient, the lady in charge directed me into a room where she said his family was waiting. That’s when I hit another roadblock. I know the family… this was not them. Once again I had people looking at me as if I had lost my mind. The lady apologized and directed me to another room where I could go and wait. After about 30 minutes as I was wondering if I was actually in the right place, the doors opened and in walked the person I was there to see. He likewise had trouble finding the correct place and had in fact been just down the hall the whole time, waiting in the wrong spot. Thankfully, the surgery went well and this story certainly ends better than it started.
This entire episode should remind us to try and be a little more attentive and a lot more helpful as we seek to guide people through what can sometimes be a maze of church life.
My mother is homeless. Well, let me rephrase that… she is actually houseless. She decided months ago that it was time to downsize. She’d mentioned it before and I had always kind of talked her out of it. However, this time she seemed more determined than ever and I sensed it was time. Her house was put on the market and recently sold. Mom wants to move to some senior adult housing in downtown Gallatin. She’s on their list, but an opening has not become available. In the meantime, she has put her stuff in storage and moved in with my sister. I am not saying the decision has been easy or painless, but all in all, I think she has done remarkably well to make such a life-changing move at 82 years of age.
On this Mother’s Day 2015, my hat goes off to all you moms who make the tough decisions everyday as you deal courageously with life that is ever changing.
I recently spoke at an event for a church several hours south of us that was an exercise in perseverance for the speaker, but even more so for the listeners. I was teaching the Book of James in one evening. There were four sessions with a 15-minute break between each one. We began at 6:30 PM and ended around 11:30 that night. As most of you know, I typically do not use notes when I’m preaching. I suppose I find them cumbersome since I tend to stray from the pulpit. I prefer to memorize my sermons. However, due to the nature of this event and the amount of material I needed to cover, a note-less presentation was pretty impractical. Thinking a little outside the box for me, I decided to do something I had NEVER done before… I downloaded my notes onto my I-Pad (with a little help from our Children’s Minister.)
This particular church is pretty laid back. Maybe in the back of my mind, I guess I was thinking it would be very tech savvy of me to walk into the pulpit with my Bible and I-Pad. The first session started and I bounded into the pulpit and soon discovered two problems with my plans. Number one, I didn’t know to mark the sensor that determines the position of your notes. I needed them to read from top to bottom, but they wouldn’t cooperate and kept switching left to right. The second problem came when I discovered that the machine was going into sleep mode just about the time I needed a little help with the next thought. I had to slide my finger across the pad to wake it up! What a disaster.
After that first session, Chris Layton (who was leading worship for the event along with Marc Lewis) showed me how to keep the thing on, but by then I was a little gun shy. Thankfully, I had also brought along a hard copy of my notes so I pulled them out and salvaged the rest of the night. While I certainly want to stay up with the times and continue to learn new things, I think this one falls into the category of “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”
It may be hard to believe but Vacation Bible School 2015 is just around the corner. It’s June 1-5 and we need all hands on deck. I am so grateful that we have a long standing reputation for making this a fun packed spiritual experience for kids in our church and community. I may sound like a broken record every year around this time, but we simply can’t pull this amazing week off without a host of volunteers. There is a sign up sheet at the north entrance to the Grand Hall. Please don’t wait to be asked, just get on board today. There is a job for everyone. If your schedule doesn’t allow you to be here during VBS hours, there’s a ton of stuff to do prior to us opening the doors on day one. Sign up online, call the church office, or see Laura today. Mount Everest awaits.
I’m in revival this week at First Baptist Church, Oakland, Tennessee through Wednesday. Please pray for the services and also for safe traveling. I’ll be on the road a lot as I work here during the day and drive back and forth each evening. See ya next Sunday as we celebrate The Voice of Hope.
Perhaps like some of you, I am a light sleeper. I rarely go through a night without waking up numerous times. To make matters worse, I often find it difficult to go back to sleep. My mind starts churning over the next day’s agenda, the next week’s message, or as in this case, the next Nook article. It’s not that I’m fretting over anything in particular, I am just awake and the more I try to go back to sleep, the more I awake I become. The whole ordeal is made more difficult this time of year because just off of our screened porch (and beneath our bedroom window) is a water garden complete with a small cascading waterfall that our family built. We have enjoyed watching the goldfish and listening to the gentle flow of water for many years. However, it has become the home (and evidently breeding ground) for a family of frogs who usher in every spring with a chorus of croaks that could wake the dead.
The other day as Riley and I were on the screen porch, I pointed out one of the frogs happily sitting on a rock’s edge. She was fascinated. For some reason, I vented to my 4 year old granddaughter that this was one of the frogs keeping me awake at night. Without missing a beat she simply stated the obvious, “BoBo, that’s what frogs do. They croak.”
Thank you, Lord, for springtime.
And yes, it’s simple… frogs will be frogs. Do yourself a favor. Don’t place an outdoor water feature near your bedroom window. You will most likely WAKE UP to regret it.
For behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove (and frogs ) is heard in our land. Song of Solomon 2:11-12
The desert and the dry land shall be glad; the wilderness shall rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing (… and croaking). Isaiah 35:1-2
So far, 2015 has been an interesting and rather unique year weather wise. In this region of the country, we’ve had our fair share of freezing temps, icy roads, and snowfall during a winter season that never seemed to end. Just when we thought the thaw had finally arrived, it went and started spitting snow during our Easter Egg Hunt. What’s up with that?
It’s just a reminder that although the calendar says spring has arrived, the weather systems may think otherwise. That same weekend I woke up early Monday morning to the sounds of thunder and heavy rain. The fact is there are some things we do not control and can’t always even accurately predict. This is not only true of the weather, but of life in general. You can complain about the storms and even shout at them, or trust Him to help you find a way to weather them. Today we celebrate as we do everyday that we have a safe and secure haven for whatever life throws at us.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress my God, in whom I trust.”
Just in case you been living off the grid, somewhere far away from the civilized world,… let me be the first to share the news with you. After years of rumors and speculation, a new mall is finally coming to the corner of Church Road and Airways. Now you may or may not view this as good news, but there is no denying that it is big news. I imagine all those who are closely involved in the deal are likewise hoping it will mean big business. There are definitely concerns with increased traffic, and of course the decision to name it after the city to our north has been met with some frustration by those of us who proudly call Mississippi home. However, be that as it may, the land has been cleared, drains have been installed, and an official groundbreaking took place a few days ago.
The morning after that event, I hurried out to retrieve the newspaper, eager to find out what stores had announced their intentions to set up shop in the new facility. What I found was interesting. Our local paper had the news of the mall on the front page. It was their headline story. The paper to the north of us buried the story in the business section. Evidently, the news was not all that big for them. I guess they figured their city got the name, but ours got the mall. The fact is this new retail space has the potential of being beneficial for the entire mid-south. Shouldn’t we all be celebrating this in one way or another?
If we broadened our scope, this same question could be asked of the church. Shouldn’t we applaud the work going on around us in other Bible-based, Christ honoring churches? Don’t fall into the habit of “missing the forest for the trees.” We need to see the BIG PICTURE.
Most of us would readily agree that the scripture abounds with promises from the Lord. Those promises reassure us, renew us, and so very often, become our refuge in the midst of the storms associated with everyday life. Many of these wonderful gems are found in the book of Psalms. However, there is also a very bold promise made to the Lord by David in Psalm 65:1
Praise awaits you, O God, in Zion.
I want David’s assertion to become our agenda here at DeSoto Hills. Recently we have been making some changes to try and make the atmosphere even more conducive to praise during our services. One of the more evident changes is the addition of a praise video that will start being aired on a weekly basis about five minutes before the beginning of our Sunday morning service. Hopefully this will further help us prepare our hearts for truly incredible worship.
With that being said, let me offer a word of caution. Your worship experience should not be primarily based upon what you find at the table. Actually, it is more dependent upon what you bring to the table. I assure you we will continue to work on preparing an atmosphere worthy of worship, but don’t forget that you need to bring something to the table each week. I think you’ll find that it makes all the difference.
May praise truly await you, Lord, each week at DeSoto Hills.
One recent Sunday morning I woke up in a cold sweat, so relieved that what I had just been through was nothing more than a dream. I had retired the night before with baptism on my mind. I had been by the church on Saturday to double check things since several folks were scheduled for a public profession of their faith in Christ. Anyway, in the wee hours of the morning I was dreaming that everything associated with that wonderful event was going haywire.
First, I had forgotten about the baptism between services and was late making my way upstairs. When I arrived, I found no one there assisting, just some kids using the baptistry as their personal swimming pool, jumping in and out as if it were the 4th of July. On top of that, eight people I had never laid eyes on showed up to be baptized. Although glad they were there, I was frantically trying to find out their names so we could proceed. All the while, I kept trying to stop the swimming party going on right in front of me. The choir was in place, the prelude had been played, the lights had been lowered and the service was at a standstill, waiting. Thankfully, that is where the chaotic dream ended.
I am happy to report that later that morning, the real thing went off without a hitch. No one was swimming, I had plenty of help, and I knew everyone’s name.
As I look back, I am reminded how thankful we should be that we are seeing folks profess Him as their Lord through baptism. A dry baptistry would truly be a nightmare.
Several weeks ago I slowly made my way to work early on a Tuesday morning. We were dealing with the aftermath of a winter storm. The roads were passable, but the parking lot was a solid sheet of ice. I didn’t have much hope of things improving since the temps were not going to get above freezing and the following day was supposed to be even colder. In fact, I was already contemplating if we would even be able to have our midweek service.
Then it happened. It was not out for long and frankly, it did not seem very bright. The odds of it having any affect on things seemed slim to none and yet, the thaw started. By the time I went home later that afternoon, the roads and parking lots were clear. The only places still frozen were those that had been in the shade. Oh, what a difference the SUN makes.
It was a reminder of just how powerful that amazing star is at the center of our universe. Without it, life would not be possible on planet Earth. Likewise I am mindful of how dependent we are on the SON …the center of our spiritual universe.
“For in Him we live and move and have our being.”
He can bring light and warmth to the darkest, coldest places. Remember that, especially if you are close to giving up on someone or some situation. The SON can make all the difference.
Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness… John 1:3
You hear the phrase all the time… especially from folks advertising their services. It is an effective and universal tool for getting your name and message out to the masses. A person can open up a world of possibilities with these simple words: “Check us out on the web.” Not so long ago, if someone used the word “web”, our immediate thought was of a spider and “surfing” required water, dude. However, these days a web is all about the internet and surfing only requires a mouse. Oh, how times have changed Searching the web has become a way of life for many who have discovered that a wealth of information is only a click away.
We have recently upgraded the web page for DeSoto Hills so I encourage you to check it out. It has taken on a new look and we now have a professional approach to ensure that the info you find there is up to date. So reading the “Nook”, watching a worship service, or giving online is only a click away. You can even find some updated photos of the staff… just in case you forget what we look like. 🙂
While I don’t have any scientific information to back this up, I imagine that high on the list of many folks’ New Year’s resolutions is the determination or desire to get in better shape physically. Typically, gym memberships and attendance takes a major upswing in January. Kathy and I have been exercising for several years now and this year our “resolution” took a little different turn. We both decided it was time to meet some of the people at the gym that we see on a weekly basis rather than just giving a nod. Our routine means that we basically see a lot of the same folks day after day. So, one by one, we are introducing ourselves to our fellow early morning gym attenders. Finally, we are putting names with faces that we have been encountering for a long time. I have been amazed at the response and the sense of friendship that begins to grow out of this common goal we share. It just makes the whole experience a little better and frankly brings a whole new dimension to the exercise thing. Greeting others by name, asking about their spouses, joking about the work outs, and telling them to have a good day just makes the whole process more meaningful.
With that in mind, let me encourage you to try this same approach at church. Make an intentional effort to put some names with the faces you see week after week. It just might put church going into a whole different light.
“Greet each other with a holy kiss (or at least by name).”
Last Sunday, the front page of the Commercial Appeal had a human interest story about the death of an apparent Memphis legend, or maybe “character” would be a better description. She had at one time owned a café in Midtown that was a gathering place for artists, politicians, and journalists. What captured my attention were some instructions this lady gave prior to her death. The article quotes her daughter as saying:
“I am not allowed to put her age even on her tomb marker.”
According to the paper, the age of the deceased was a closely guarded secret. I gather she evidently tried to hide her age behind a rather flamboyant lifestyle, which included some over the top wigs and hats. The truth is, while you may try to act and even look younger, aging is a fact of life. You will either die young or grow old. While some of you might not consider me old enough to really comment on this issue, I do believe in my heart that the key to growing old gracefully is to stay as fit and active as you can, both physically and spiritually, for as long as you can. Sounds like a plan to me.
Instead of hiding them, let’s CELEBRATE our years.
“Gray hair (no hair ☺) is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life."
Prior to leaving for our Tennessee Thanksgiving, Kathy and I decided to stick with our early morning routine and headed to the fitness center for a workout. Although it’s rarely crowded at that time of the morning, the crowd was noticeably thinner as we pulled into the parking lot. I quickly spoke to some of the regulars and got busy.
When I was about halfway through my workout, I noticed a new couple arrive. They were probably in their mid-twenties and appeared to be unaccustomed to this time of day or these types of machines. They slowly moved around the place with a real air of uncertainty. But hey, I’ve been there. Judge not that ye be not judged. However, what really got my attention was the very obvious sour attitude of the young lady. She stood at each machine glaring at her husband with her lip pooched out like a two year old. She apparently did not want to be there and was letting him know it loud and clear. To be fair, I certainly don’t have all the facts about this incident. Maybe she was just having a bad morning, maybe she thought all of this stuff was too difficult, or maybe company was on the way and she wasn’t ready. In any case, if I was a betting man, I’ll wager that she will not stick with the gym for one simple reason… her heart is not in it.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart….”
As we approach this Thanksgiving season, I am reminded once again of how blessed I am to be a part of such a wonderful church family. The growth we continue to experience is a testimony to the fact that the Lord has put us all together “for such a time as this.” I want us to consistently be a lampstand, firmly focusing on lifting high the light of Jesus to a dark world.
Today we enter the 3rd and final year of our stewardship campaign known as Beyond Measure. To date, over $500,000 has been raised. This “above and beyond” giving helps us move one step closer to expanding our facilities. We presently have small groups meeting in every nook and cranny of our building. Because many of our classes are bursting at the seams, we are constantly reshuffling room assignments to help with this wonderful problem. Although we need to start some new classes, at the present time there is nowhere to put them. A growing Sunday School is an essential part of what we do. In the past few months we have been in contact with various folks concerning our expansion including bankers, architects, and others who are in the know about this type of project. The latest construction cost estimates are coming in at around 3.4 million dollars. Needless to say, that is a chunk of change. I have some direction that I believe would enable us to begin construction sooner than later. I am calling it Beyond Beyond Measure. Although we may be waiting for the Lord to send the money TO us, it is more likely that He will send it THROUGH us. “Stay tuned” for more details on this newest challenge.
In recent years DHBC has hosted several well known or “big time” folks in the Christian music world. For the most part I have found them to be just down to earth people who enjoy what they do and struggle with the same issues most of us deal with every day. Fame and fortune do not immunize you from such things. The most recent person we hosted was no exception, although initially I was a little apprehensive. Someone from another church had informed us that he did not seem very friendly. They indicated that he had emerged from his bus only when it was time for the concert and had returned to it immediately following the event. They say you never have a second chance to make a first impression and their first impression was not that favorable. This was on my mind that Sunday evening as people filed in for the program. His fans were here, his bus was here, his crew was here, and even his products were here, but just minutes before we were to start I still had not seen him. Then right on cue, a little before six, he appeared. He walked straight over to me with a huge smile on his face and asked if I had any requests. Right then and there any reservations I had began to fade. It was a wonderful concert. It soon became clear why he slips in and out of concerts so quickly… his daily chemo pill affects his immune system. He simply must avoid as much contact with crowds as possible. Now I’m not sure that was the sole reason he did not appear to be very friendly at that other church. Maybe he was just having a bad day. I’ve had a few of those myself. Possibly the person observing him didn’t realize the situation. However, all of this stands as a reminder that sometimes we might just give people the benefit of the doubt. Maybe even a second chance.
Happy Labor Day,
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
It’s a little after 5am and I am sitting on the screen porch at CrossRidge (the farm) listening to a chorus of sounds as the world around me starts coming awake. We had a heavy rain last night and everything seems renewed. This spot is one of my favorite places to pray, read and study. I spent most of the day yesterday on the tractor, and hope to be able to do the same today. There are many things I enjoy about bush hogging. I love the sounds, (the peacefulness of no phones), the smells, the sights, and of course, the success of it all. Watching an overgrown area become more accessible is a thing of beauty. Like eating chips and salsa at a Mexican restaurant, bush hogging gives you “instant gratification. You see results immediately with each pass of the tractor.
However, I am reminded this early morning that not all of our investments of time and energy see such immediate fruits. For instance, some areas that need to be cleaned up at the farm are not so accessible with the tractor and must be sprayed with weed killer. This is a slow and tedious process and the end results may not be evident for weeks. Remember that today as you labor in the Lord’s field. The fruit is not always immediately visible.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
f you like to watch the so called “reality shows”, then I suppose you‘re in luck because there seems to be no shortage of people willing to allow their every move to be documented. Now I’m fully aware these shows are scripted and not quite as spontaneous as they lead viewers to believe. However, at times SOME of them can be entertaining, if not enlightening. They often reveal the good, the bad, and the downright ugly side of human nature. I was flipping through channels the other day when I came across an episode of Parking Wars. Who would have thought a show about folks getting parking tickets would be such a hit? On this particular day, one of the tickets being handed out was to a couple of guys who had parked their van on the sidewalk to unload equipment for an event they were holding in downtown Detroit. This was obviously a violation and they were being ticketed for it. The citation was not a surprise, nor was their response. They were arguing with the officer about it in a very spiteful and sarcastic way, making a huge deal about how they were trying to do something good and positive for the city of Detroit. What did surprise and even shame me about their response was the fact that they were there, parked illegally, arguing with an officer, while setting up for a “National Day of Prayer” event. It seemed they even viewed this as persecution for doing the Lord’s work. I viewed it as a missed opportunity for being a positive witness for the Lord.
Having a reality check,
“Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another…be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing because to this you were called…”
I Peter 3:8-9
You probably wouldn’t be surprised if I tell you one of my life verses is a little proverb that focuses on the value of a “merry heart.” I even believe that healthy humor can be good for the soul. I am not talking about the raunchy kind that often spews forth from the world, but a wholesome funny bone that helps us laugh with others and especially at ourselves. There are moments that just lend themselves to some good ole fashioned laughter. I heard about a recent incident that is one for the record books. It happened at a bridal shower that Kathy was attending. Everyone was sitting around watching the bride-to-be open her gifts. As she opened a particular card, one of the attendees had a look of horror on her face. The card being opened was the one she had given; however, instead of being a “congratulations” card, it was a “sympathy” card. She quickly explained that she had prepared both cards at the same time and in her haste, had put the wrong card in the envelope. Everyone had a good laugh and the shower proceeded. However, some there were thinking the same thing. Did you mail the congratulations card to someone who is dealing with a family member’s death? Yikes! Now that really would be one for the record books. I could not wait to get to church on the following Sunday to have a little fun with the perpetrator. Fortunately, she has a sense of humor and was laughing at herself.
Living on the funny side of life,
“A merry heart does good like medicine.”
It can certainly be a “jungle out there” sometimes, but coming this June, it is going to be a “jungle in here” as we once again kick off our summer at DHBC in a big way. Our annual Vacation Bible School is set for June 9-13. This year our kids will be exploring the nature of God through a fun filled week of activities revolving around a Jungle Safari. Perhaps I always sound like a broken record when sharing about this event, but truth is truth… we cannot bring VBS together without YOU. We need each one of you to help us promote it, pray for it, and if at all possible, participate in it. Please don’t wait to be asked. Go ahead and volunteer today. It will certainly help Laura in her planning and it just might inspire someone else to offer their service as well. There is a VBS volunteer sign up sheet at the north entrance to the Grand Hall. This is a big week for DeSoto Hills and one in which we have an ever-growing reputation for excellence, thanks in part to our volunteers. So join the VBS team today. It is going to be a wild and wonderful week.
P. S. What a marvelous day we had last Sunday. The totals are in and we had 1332 folks here last week. ☺
It is rare to head anywhere in a vehicle these days that you don’t encounter some kind of road construction. The projects seem bent on slowing you down and in some instances, taking you off the beaten path. We tolerate it though, knowing that the end result is ultimately good. The stretch of I-55 running through Southaven is a testimony to that, but at times it all seems to move at such a snail’s pace. They’ve been working on a section of I-240 out east for at least a decade and that’s the route I take to reach a couple of major hospitals… plus Bass Pro Shop. Hey, I call it like I see it. Recently however, the Lord reminded me that there are lessons to be learned in the midst of the slow downs and detours. We were traveling 305 nearing Old Towne Olive Branch where they are doing much needed major renovations. To make matters worse, on this particular day we got behind a residential garbage truck. There was no way to pass, of course, so every few minutes we would stop as the mechanical arm went out and grabbed a can, dumped it, released it, then moved slowly on. At one point during the delay, I noticed that a can up ahead was laying on it’s side packed with trash. No doubt the windstorm the previous night had caused it to tumble over. I began to wonder if the truck operator would have to get out to pick it up or simply pass it by. I imagined that somewhere in their rules it states that a can has to be in an upright position for them to pick it up. However, to my surprise, he stopped, extended the mechanical arm and after a few attempts he somehow managed to flip that thing upright. He had obviously dealt with that before. I was amazed, but really more impressed that he was willing to go the extra mile to empty someone’s trashcan. It was a lesson learned during one of those annoying slow downs.,,
Viewing life through the windshield,
“…whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God”
I Corinthians 10:31
Almost on a weekly basis, someone asks me when will construction begin on Phase II of our building. It is a fair question as the need for additional space becomes more apparent every day. Although at this time we are not financially ready for that major endeavor, there is a smaller project that is part of Phase II that needs to be added immediately. The Strategic Planning Team along with the Stewardship Team is recommending that we expand the Grand Hall by adding an air lock at the north entrance, just outside the existing doors. As most of you know, this is the primary entrance into our facilities and airflow has been a major issue from day one. The problem has only been highlighted during this winter’s frigid temperatures. The teams are recommending that we proceed with this project at a cost of $53,000. The money will come from funds already set aside for Phase II through Beyond Measure. This recommendation will presented for a vote at the beginning of the service Sunday evening, March 16.
In other news, the Lewis family is on “baby watch”. We are just days away from the arrival of our third grandchild (and our first grandson), McCager Carver. Unless he decides differently, “D” Day (delivery day) is scheduled for Wednesday, March 12. Although she is great with child, Jami continues to work at the clinic and make hospital rounds, hoping to save her time off for after the baby’s arrival.
On April 26 and 27, we are having an event at DHBC that we are calling Project Andrew. The inspiration and motivation for this is based on the biblical account found in John 1:40-42 of Jesus’ encounter with the early disciples:
“Andrew…was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus”.
Our goal for this two day event (Saturday evening/Sunday morning) is to help us further emphasize the need for personal evangelism by making a concentrated effort to reach out to the unsaved and unchurched. Gary Permenter, who is well known across the state as a gifted communicator of the Word, will be sharing both days along with some great music from our choir and orchestra. The weekend will also include some very special activities for our children. Steve Winger who is a gifted “Juggler for Jesus” will be sharing with them in the Attic on Saturday night as well as Sunday morning. It is my hope that this special emphasis will become an annual event for us, and that long after the activities have ceased, the awareness will linger.
A fellow pilgrim,
Join us next Sunday night, March 9, for “Church in the Pavilion”. The service will begin at 6 PM, but come early (after 5pm) and enjoy a hotdog with us. Bring your lawn chair and let’s enjoy a night (weather permitting) outdoors.
During the holidays I traveled to Hattiesburg to speak at a Christmas event for a local church. I rarely accept such invitations in December, especially when they are so far from home. However, after checking my calendar, I was able to squeeze it in. Traffic was light and construction was minimal as I made my way south on I-55. Then just north of Jackson at Old Agency Road, I encountered some roadwork. The construction zone required that we slow down to 55 miles per hour and warned that speeding fines would be doubled. I slowed down, but as always, there were those that evidently felt like the speed limit postings were more of a suggestion rather than a requirement. Folks were zipping around me like I was sitting still. One truck was weaving in and out of traffic, waving (and I use that term loosely) at cars he felt were in his way. Moments later I watched in amazement as another car bolted past me. I almost laughed out loud when I noticed the words that were clearly and neatly lettered on the back:
The Mississippi Department of Public Safety.
This was not a highway patrol vehicle. To make matters worse, we had just passed a billboard purchased by MDOT urging us to slow down in construction zones. The moral of this story – we need to practice what we preach.
On the road again,
“… I will show you my faith by what I do…”
So far this January I have resisted the temptation to make lots of suggestions about resolutions for the New Year. Your list may already be loaded, and if not there are plenty of folks that would gladly help you fill it. However, I do want to give you a simple goal for 2014. It is not complicated. It’s very realistic and achievable regardless of age, gender, status, or any of the other factors that seem at times to set us apart. This goal was prompted by an experience Kathy and I recently had over the holidays. She got up one morning at the farm complaining about her eyesight. It seemed that no matter what she did, she could not get her eyes to focus. At first I simply dismissed it as early morning sluggishness. Kathy is definitely NOT a morning person. However, as the moments clicked away, it became apparent that something was actually wrong. She’d rubbed her eyes, washed her face in warm water, then in very cold water, and had even cleaned her glasses thinking some kind of film on them must be obscuring her vision. She stretched and paced trying to get awake, then finally just fell into the rocker in a bit of despair. As usual, I had been reading and studying, but at that point I looked over to try and console her. Suddenly the root of the problem was clear. Her eyes would not focus because she was wearing the wrong glasses. Somehow that morning I had grabbed her glasses and she was wearing mine. Kathy’s lenses are much stronger and mine were just not doing it for her. Surprisingly, her glasses had not bothered me. We exchanged glasses and then both of us burst out laughing. What seemed like a complicated problem had a very simple solution. I suggest that you resolve this New Year to lighten up and LAUGH more, especially at yourself. It’s good for you.
“A merry heart doeth good like medicine.”