Sunday, August 27, 2023

Starting Seminary - Step of Faith (part 2)


I was a little nervous about going back to school. It had been 32 years since I'd taken a college course, and this is grad school.

Could I keep up with everything else I have going on? My schedule at Love In Action is extremely busy. In addition to all of the ministry that we do each day, there's the studying and preparing for our weekly "Sunday Morning with Love In Action" on The Joy FM. There's the recordings of the "Love In Action Minute" on The Joy FM.

We are an international ministry, so when our part of the world is sleeping, our Brothers and Sisters in Asia are awake. There is the business side of ministry that needs to be done as well as websites and social media, and more.

I'm taking two classes this semester - Discipleship & Spiritual Formation and Biblical Theology. The first week my professors went over the syllabus for each class. Wow! All of the reading, quizzes, papers to writes, discussions to post, and a weekly small group to join had me wondering if I made the right decision.

I really knew I had. It was just overwhelming at the moment. Thankfully, I have a praying wife and two professors who are praying for us students. I prayed and felt much better about everything. Now I'm already in a rhythm. I've been staying ahead so far. I know it's early, but I'm feeling good about everything.

I don't know what kind of grades I'll make. Of course I hope I pass and make good grades, but I'm not going to stress about it. I'm not here for the grades. I'm here for the Holy Spirit to teach me what He wants me to learn.

As I work toward earning a Graduate Certificate in Theology, and perhaps a master's in theology, I'm just wanting to learn more about God through His Word. If my professors like the papers I write and the good grades come, then great. It's like I told the good folks at WBS, I'm not going there for a piece of paper. I don't need it for career advancement. I already have the best job in the world. I just want to go deeper into God's Word.

From what I've experienced so far, that's exactly what's happening. I thank God for His grace and mercy in making all of this happen. I'm thankful for my wife's support and encouragement. I'm thankful for Harvest Church and my friend who not only gave me $500, but he's also praying for me.

I'm thankful for WBS. It's an excellent seminary with professors who truly care and can rightly handle the Word of God. I'm thankful for all of the prayers and encouragement from so many. I'm thankful for our small staff and volunteers at Love In Action who step up when I need to be in class or study. I'm humbled by it all.

I thank God for the life He's given me and for His call on my life. I wouldn't want it any other way.

Starting Seminary - A Step of Faith (part 1)


I'm only two weeks into my first semester at Wesley Biblical Seminary, but I'm already thankful for making the decision to pursue a graduate certificate in theology. It may turn into a master's in theology, but we'll see how it goes with the certificate first.

It's been 32 years since I last took a college course. The year was 1991 and that was my senior year at then Troy State University. They have since dropped the "State" from their name. I graduated Troy with a Bachelor of Science in Print Journalism and Public Relations on Aug. 9, 1991. Whew! Seems like a lifetime ago.

I considered off and on for years about going to graduate school to earn a master's in journalism or business, but never did. Costs were too high. Later as I started serving Jesus in the ministry, I would look every now and then at seminary, but once again cost was the prohibitive factor.  

I pretty much gave up on the idea until this spring. I really felt God telling me it was time. I teach a lot - Bible studies, sermons, discipleship, systematic theology. I felt God telling me it was time for me to learn and grow more in His Word so I can grow personally and lead others even deeper into His Word.

My first question was, "But what about the costs?" Being president and lead pastor of a ministry to the homeless and poor doesn't earn a big paycheck. You don't get into ministry to get rich.

I earned a rather nice salary the last eight years of my newspaper career. If anything, that would have been the time to pursue seminary. But it wasn't. However, I knew this was the time and the direction God was leading me, so I started looking at schools and seeking guidance.

My friend and one of the best Bible teachers I know, Dr. Bill Ury, said I should take a serious look at Wesley Biblical Seminary (WBS). He said for what I was looking for, WBS would be a perfect fit.

After much prayer and research, it came down between WBS and Liberty, but I felt the Holy Spirit's leading to go to WBS. It seemed every conversation was God-ordained and things kept lining up. And, the costs were affordable. I will say that Liberty was also affordable. However, any extra costs on our budget is a challenge for us, so even applying was a step of faith.

Martha encouraged me all the way, so I took the step of faith and applied and I was accepted. The next step was paying for the semester. I told the finance director that I would not be taking out a loan, because I don't believe in going into debt. I told him, "If God wants me to do this, and I believe He does, then He will provide every penny."

I qualified for a $500 scholarship with my GPA from Troy.  Then the financial director told me about a scholarship I could apply for that would be even better than that one. I had to write an essay and have three reference letters. Those letters made me cry when I read them. They were so humbling. 

As it turned out, I along with another WBS student, received the scholarship. It pays for half of my tuition for two semesters. Praise God! But, there was still half the tuition left. No worries. God would take care of it, and He did.

I was talking with a mentor and good friend from my journalism days and told him about my schooling. He loves Jesus and was excited. He said, "The Lord just told me to send you $500 for your seminary." Praise God! Another blessing from God!

Then just two days before tuition was due for this semester, WBS received a check from my home church, Harvest Church Dothan, that paid the remaining balance of my tuition. Praise God! Hallelujah! What can you do but praise God and cry tears of joy?

I had already purchased my books, which were a lot cheaper than my days at Troy. I paid under $300 for nine books. One text book would nearly cost that much back in my Troy days.

I'll end this blog entry here. As a newspaper editor I told my reporters to get in and out of a story. I'm having a hard time getting out of this one, so I'll make it a two-part blog.

In part 2, I'll write about starting classes.

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Harvest time

I was reminded on my walk this morning that despite how hot it is, harvest season is coming soon. Cotton in this field was looking pretty. It’s our Alabama snow.

The most important harvest is ready now. Jesus says in Matthew 9:37-38, “Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”

Are you a laborer for Christ? We need more who are willing to obey our Lord’s Great Commission (Mark 16:15 and Matthew 28:18-20) to go proclaim the Gospel and make disciples. We need more who are willing to provide for those of us who can and do “go proclaim the Gospel” and “make disciples of all nations.”

As the Apostle Paul writes in Romans 10:14-15, “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

Come on! The harvest truly is plentiful. Let’s go and be used by our Father to reap the harvest.

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” - Galatians 6:9

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Zooming for Jesus


A discipleship group started with an email from a woman named Melissa in Illinois, although at the time I didn't know she lived in Illinois. 

I received an email from Melissa asking me about our Love In Action School of Discipleship. I explained what we teach and when and invited her to join us. She emailed back that she lives in Illinois. Being the observant person that I am, I quickly understood commuting weekly from Illinois to Dothan, Alabama, might be a little tough.

I had never considered teaching discipleship classes on Zoom, but God spoke to my heart about it, so I asked Melissa if she would be interested in taking discipleship classes on Zoom if I could get a class together. She said yes. I posted on Facebook about it, and soon we had a Zoom class.

That was a year ago and this group of precious disciples of Christ are still going strong. We have met on Zoom every Tuesday night for a little over a year now, and it's been life-changing for all of us. We have completed the following courses: DM2 (Disciples Making Disciple Makers), 50 Commands of Christ, and Creation to Christ. We are now in "Bible Doctrine," which is a systematic theology class.

I love this group more than I can put into words. Everyone is from southeast Alabama except for Melissa. We have another Melissa who is from Headland, Lynn from Cowarts, Renee from Enterprise, and Josh and Rochelle from Daleville. We've recently had Benjamin from Dothan join us. He switches between our Zoom class and our class on campus that is on the same course, depending on his work schedule.

It's amazing how close knit a group can become through an online class. We truly love and care about one another, and we have all gone through good and tough times together this past year.

In addition to studying online together, this group prays for one another. Rarely does a week go by when someone doesn't ask for an update on personal prayer requests from the previous week. 

God has brought together a wonderful family. "Illinois" Melissa has a passion for the lost and hurting and is one or the sweetest people you could ever meet. She has a big heart for children, and took her passion for children to an orphanage in Africa on a mission trip earlier this year.

Lynn is a dear friend and a faithful volunteer at Love In Action. She is in our Zoom class and the class that meets on our campus that's at the same level. She also teaches two DM2 classes at Love In Action. She is a disciple making disciples.

Renee and I worked together at the Enterprise Ledger back in the 1990s, so when I saw she signed up for the class I was excited. I hadn't seen her in a long time. She's a precious woman of God with a big heart for Jesus and is not shy about telling others about Him. She even witnessed to a couple of NASA astronauts recently. Outer space ... the next mission field. LOL

I didn't know our "Headland" Melissa, but what a blessing she is. She wants to learn more and more of God's Word and be a doer of His Word, and she is. She has also volunteered at Love In Action since starting our discipleship classes.

I didn't know Josh and Rochelle prior to starting our Zoom class. They moved to the Wiregrass from Utah, and I'm so thankful God brought them here. They not only are involved in our Zoom class, but they also volunteer at Love In Action on Saturdays. It's been a joy getting to know them and their family. Their son Ace is an outstanding lacrosse player and will be competing at the Div. 1 level as he begins college this fall.

Benjamin is the one who attends via Zoom or on campus depending on his work schedule. He is also a faithful volunteer at Love In Action, in addition to working three jobs. I don't know how he does it, but he does smiling the entire time. If you ever need someone to pray for you, Benjamin is the one to call. This Brother can pray!

Mine and Martha's lives are richer because of this wonderful group of Brothers and Sisters. I look forward to everything God has planned for us. We will finish Bible Doctrine this fall, and then go through a "Seeker Study" and apologetics.

There are other classes I will add to the curriculum, and as long as they want to study on Zoom, we will continue meeting weekly. I look forward to us all growing together in Christ and growing closer together as a family.

Thank you Melissa, Lynn, Josh, Rochelle, Melissa, Renee, and Benjamin for loving God and His Word like y'all do, and thank y'all for loving Martha and me. We both love y'all so much and are forever thankful God brought all of us together. Thank you Illinois Melissa for that first email.

Being a Great Commission Christian is the best life ever, and living this life with y'all makes it even better.

Friday, July 8, 2022

The Deception of the Dark Side


I was a teenager when Stars Wars first appeared on the big screen. I remember being in awe of the cinematography and special effects. The youngsters of today look at that movie and laugh at the special effects. But, at that time, we had never seen anything like it, so back off youngsters (saying this in my best Adam Sandler voice). Lol

As many from my generation, I was hooked on Star Wars from that point. However,  some how the 2005 movie "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith" escaped my attention. I guess that was a busy year. How did I miss it on TNT or on a long flights to and from Asia? 

Whatever happened, I made amends a few nights ago and watched it on TNT. The movie focuses on Anakin Skywalker's transformation into Darth Vader. As I watched it something immediately jumped to my attention. The Darkside in Star Wars is an excellent example of the dark forces of Satan.

Before you Star War fans get upset, I'm not trying to compare Star Wars to Christianity. I don't think that was the point George Lucas set out to make. There's actually more dualism in the series than anything else.

Young Anakin was supposed to be the "Chosen One" who would bring balance to the Force. Obi-Wan Kenobi trained him in the way of the Jedi. Things were going well. Anakin was learning and the Force was strong within him. He discovered his wife was pregnant and they were excited about the future.

That's when things started going in a different direction. Long story short, he becomes friends with Chancellor Palpatine. During that time, Anakin dreams about his wife dying during childbirth just as he dreamed about his mother.

Palpatine started planting seeds of deception in Anakin's mind. He began separating Anakin from his mentor and those on the Jedi counsel. He planted seeds of doubt in Anakin's mind about their commitment to him. Palpatine then reveals that he is on the Dark Side and he can give Anakin the power to save his wife's life.

As we know, Anakin succumbed to the lure of power and joined the Dark Side and became Darth Vader. His wife does die during child birth, and Palpatine, who is now Darth Sidious, tells Vader that he killed his own wife. Deception leads to death ... both physical and spiritual. 

What jumped out at me was how evil can look so good and lure us into its trap. Satan can make sin look so appealing. If we allow deceptive thoughts to enter our minds we start to focus on them until they consume us. Then we're trapped.

Satan has many weapons of deception at his disposal - lies, money, power, sex, drugs, and alcohol just to name a handful. Our appetites can quickly change to desire those things, which will eventually destroy us. Do not be deceived. Satan's desire is to destroy as many of us as he can. 

"Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour," God warns us through the Apostle Peter in 1 Peter 5:8. Once we slip into the darkness, we begin a journey to eternal destruction.

However, there is a way out, and it's the only way. His name is Jesus. We read in Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Jesus will bring us into the light as He is in the light. "But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin." 1 John 1:7

Luke, Darth Vader's son, eventually saves his father by turning Vader back to the Light Side just before Vader dies. That's Hollywood. What I'm talking about is reality. We have a choice. Do we want Light or Darkness? Life or death?

"If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved." - Romans 10:9-10

I encourage you to confess Jesus as your Lord and believe God raised Him from the dead and be saved today. Heaven and Hell are both real, and those are the only destinations after this life. Heaven is eternal life. Hell is eternal destruction, which will be thrown into the Lake of Fire for eternity. I pray you will choose Jesus, therefore choose life. You can also click on the following link to a page on our website for more information,

If you have any questions or if you made that decision today, please email me at

Jesus loves you. He loves us all, and He wants to spend eternity with each one of us.

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