A Reason To Celebrate!

11 08 2011

I honestly can’t believe how fast the summer has flown by. It seems like just yesterday that my children were all anticipating their big SUMMER BREAK. We had so many activities and plans we were making together — things we wanted to do and ways we wanted to celebrate the warm summer days. And as I look back over the past few months, I think we did most of the things we wanted to do. There were movies we saw, camping activities in the back yard, evening fires and smores, as well as outings and a week of vacation to the Smokey Mountains of North Carolina. All in all we had a great summer.

Some of the more memorable moments for me came the past few weeks. In my home, the months of July and August are filled with BIG DAYS! It began with my wife’s surprise birthday party. This was a big one…but I’ll just say it was her “29th” (again!). This was the first time I had ever thrown her a big party — and a surprise event to boot! It was a ’70’s themed gathering complete with platform shoes, huge afros, bell-bottoms, and my green plaid polyester pants! We discoed the night away.

The next big moment was to celebrate my daughters 11th birthday…quickly followed by my middle son’s 8th birthday. And did I mention that the summer began with my oldest son’s 13th birthday. Well, at least I get a break before my youngest turns 6 in December. But then the celebrations continue right through Christmas and the New Year!

Well, here’s what I’ve come to discover. Life is worth celebrating. My family and friends are worth celebrating. Life was meant to be enjoyed with those I know and love. Jesus said his primary purpose was to come and give “life”. Life to the max. Life lived in connection with Him. Abundant, joy-filled, celebratory life! I love the way Jesus ends the story He told His followers about the Prodigal Son in Luke 15. The father declares his love for his son and reveals his heart of celebration. The father said, “…We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.” (Lk. 15:23-24, NLT).

Isn’t that great? “So the party began!”

Oh, by the way…this Sunday my wife and I celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary! How awesome is that? I am truly blessed beyond measure.

Let the party BEGIN!

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I’m Gonna Love You Forever!

6 02 2010

I make no apologies…this post goes out to my wife, Lori!

Everyone else is welcome to listen in on this conversation to her — but this is clearly from my heart to hers!

Lori, I want to begin by saying: “I love you!” I know in our home (with 4 busy children) our lives sometimes seem to be spinning so fast and doing so much that those words can get lost in the chaos and the busyness. That being said, I never want to take for granted that you know the depth of my love. So, let me take a few moments and tell you how I feel about you.

It’s hard to believe, but it was 19 years ago that I first laid my eyes on you. Your beauty nearly took my breath away. The softness of your eyes, the beauty of your skin and the tenderness of your voice struck my heart like one of cupid’s arrows. I remember our long walks around Lake Hollingsworth, our dinner dates to the Panda Chinese restaurant, and I remember the evenings spent in the library together as you studied your books and I studied you!

You know, as wonderful as those early days were – none of them compare to the times I have with you today! I so enjoy every moment of our lives together. I still look forward to coming home every day and hearing your voice. I cherish the dinners around our table (with our 4 children) as I get to sit across from you and trade the stories from our day along with smiles that speak volumes of our love. I appreciate the way you care for our family and work to provide a safe place to call home. I am grateful for those few hours every night when our children are in bed and we get to cuddle together on the couch. Though we don’t have everything we wish for and our budget is tighter than we would like…there is nothing in this world that I would trade for my life with you today!

I love you. I love you. I love you!

Thanks for being my wife and my love!





Belong – Believe – Become!

12 05 2009

Jesus SavesFor some time now, I have been thinking some deep thoughts about the ministry we call “CHURCH!” Now, just for the record, I know that “the church” is the global body of believers in Christ. It has very little to do with where we meet…or even when we meet for that matter. But just so that we are all speaking the same language here today, let me use the word “church” to describe the event that takes place each week when believers and non-believers come together to hear the message of hope and life as the gospel of Jesus is presented. Are you with me on this? Okay.

Here’s what I have been dealing with on an intellectual and spiritual level. Are we doing church the way we should? Is God pleased by what is taking place “at church” (remember – the gathering together event each week)? And are we really serving a purpose – making a difference by what we do each week. And as if that isn’t enough, who do we do church for — is it for those inside the family of God (believers) or is it for those outside of the family of God (unbelievers)?

Pretty deep stuff huh? Well, let me tell you what I have discovered…and it is revolutionizing my way of approaching ministry. I am rediscovering that the church exists to glorify God, unite believers in the faith & serve as the primary force for reaching the world. The church is here (in my case, in Greenville – South Carolina) for the purpose of coming together to share and shape our faith, honor God, and connect lost people with the love of Christ! So how do we do all of those things? Is it really possible? I have discovered it fairly difficult to do it all, and when it is working — it still isn’t easy. Let me tell you a story…

Some time ago, a lost person began attending the church I pastor (we’ll call this person Mack – though that’s not their real name). Well, Mack finally came after numerous invites and many relational moments he had had with someone in our church family. Upon his arrival, it was clear to him that church was very different than the world he ran in week each week. And to be honest, Mack was even a bit uncomfortable by everything (people prayed aloud – at the same time, they sang songs with much enthusiasm, raised their arms in the air, were all friendly…almost overly friendly, they hugged each other – and even hugged Mack). But there was something about this “event” that intriggued Mack. He began to come regularly and even brought a friend with him (honestly, I don’t think he wanted to be alone). It was clear to Mack that most everyone he met was different than him…and it was clear to most everyone, that Mack was very different than them. But he continued to come. Mack and his friend very growing in their curiosity of this thing we called “faith in God”. They were asking a lot of questions. Deep questions. Hard questions! But they kept coming. Their lifestyles were very worldly to say the least…yet they never quit attending “church”. One week, about 7 weeks into the “church experiment”, Mack told me that he and his friend were really enjoying the church. He said, there was still a lot they didn’t understand – but they were enjoying the fact that the people accepted them and welcomed them in. Mack even went so far as to say, “We are really becoming very comfortable at your church.” Now, when I heard that statement, I have to admit – it took me back a little bit. What did that mean?  Comfortable? Really? I had aways been un-officially taught that church should be the last place where anyone is comforatble. And yet, here are two people from a very “worldly” background saying they were comfortable. I was so confused..and concerned. And then it happened. On week 8 – Mack’s friend lifted his hand after a time of prayer and acknowledged that he had just given his life to Christ. WOW! I was stunned…and yet excited. I called a pastor friend and explained the whole story to him and this was his reply. He said, “Chuck, what you have done is created a place where (he) could belong before he believed!” And you know, that is exactly what has happened. But that’s not where the story ends. The next part of the story is about that friend “becoming” all that God wants him to be. He is growing. Small steps – but steps never-the-less. And that brings me to my conclusion.

Church ought to be a place where people (lost and found people) can BELONG. A safe place to connect and hear a very dangerous message about life in Christ and hope for tomorrow. It ought to be a place where people can BELIEVE. An environment that encourages life change and daring to trust in Jesus. Where the natural meets the supernatural and people put their faith in Christ. And it ought to be a place where all people BECOME. Where they new believers and the long-term believers continue to grow in their faith and spiritual walk. Where no one ever arrives, but everyone is encouraged to discover the life God has designed them to live. I am convinced that our church (TFC – Trinity Fellowship Church in Greenville, South Carolina) must be a place where people can Belong, Believe and Become!

What do you think about all that? Let’s chat!