Faithfulness

November 12th, 2017

There seems to be a lot of personnel turnover in the restaurant industry, especially when it comes to fast food.  These jobs are often entry-level positions that are forsaken when a better opportunity arises.  However, there is one sandwich shop in our area that seems to defy this trend.   I patronize them almost weekly and most of the day shift workers have remained the same for years. Although we’re not on a first name basis, there is something strangely comforting about the same folks working on your sandwich week after week.  From my perspective, their longevity seems to have given them a greater sense of pride in what they are doing.  They are in it for the long haul.  They try to treat you right, because they have a vested interest in you coming back tomorrow.
 
I trust today that you realize just how important your consistent presence and participation is to the long-term mission of the church.  We have a lot of folks passing through here who likewise need to see some familiar faces.  Your faithfulness denotes a stability and healthiness that I believe can be a real draw for those who are looking for a church home.  Bottom line… you matter.

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering…
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,
not neglecting to meet together… “
Hebrews 10:23-25

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

October 15th, 2017

DeSoto Hills turns 11 today! The first service took place here on October 15, 2006.  This family began with 350 charter members who were on mission out of Carriage Hills to start a new work on Getwell.  In the years that have followed, we have been greatly blessed by the hand of the Lord.  We have witnessed an increase in numbers as our current membership now stands at 1,461.  We have seen 329 proclaim Jesus as Lord and follow Him in baptism.  We have added new staff positions, expanded ministries, and recently made the exciting move into a much-needed addition to our facilities.  God is good!
 
HAPPY EVENT
We were here on this new site less than two weeks before we held our first Fall Fest at DHBC.  Every year we see our numbers grow and last year our festival was nominated as one of DeSoto’s Best along with Southaven’s Spring Fest and Hernando’s A-Fair.  Pretty neat, huh?   As always, we need your help in bringing this huge outreach all together.  Please sign up today.  
 
HAPPY DAYS
Thank your prayers and your participation in this unique family of faith the Lord has put on this site for such a time as this.  These continue to be exciting days.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men… Col. 3:23


Much love,

Big Lessons

October 8th, 2017

Sometimes the smallest things teach us the biggest lessons.  I was reminded of that several weeks ago as we were shutting down the church building after a long Wednesday full of activities.  As you can imagine, there’s quite a bit to check before setting the alarm.  One of the most time consuming aspects of this is simply turning out all the lights. 

However, there is one set of lights that has always been more like a game than work.  Although we have a pretty elaborate lighting board in the media booth upstairs in the worship center, there is a switch downstairs that can turn all of them off at once.  It has several preprogrammed buttons and has always been a hit with staff kids and grandkids who like to “help” close the church by pressing the buttons and watching the lights dim. 

On this particular evening, all my crew had already gone home, so I asked Mary McKenzie (Bro. Grant’s next to youngest) if she wanted to turn off the lights in the MPC.  She happily headed that way with Esther Kate (Grant’s youngest) close behind her.  What happened next was priceless.  Instead of hitting the button, Mary McKenzie reached back to help Esther Kate climb into the chair. She then pointed out which button Esther Kate needed to touch and allowed her the honor of dimming the lights.  The expression on both of their faces was one of elation. 

Thank you, Mary McKenzie for your small, but significant gesture of selflessness.  May we all learn to imitate it.
 
“And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them”
Luke 6:31

Intense Weather Patterns

October 1st, 2017

This continues to be a record hurricane season not only in terms of ferocity, but also the frequency of these intense weather patterns.  On the day the remnants of Harvey spawned tornado activity in our area, I was out running an errand as I heard the sirens go off.  When I arrived back at church, the offices were cleared out.  Rightfully so, I found everyone huddled in an interior stairwell, one of the most secure places in our building during threatening weather.  At that moment, it certainly wasn’t business as usual at the office.  We had all heard and heeded the warning.   Although the weather didn’t look or seem that severe, we later heard that a tornado had indeed passed over nearby. 

The truth is, all of us have been guilty of ignoring the sirens.  These may be weather or even health related, but more times than not, the warnings that people tend to ignore the most are spiritual in nature. 

I hope today that you will lead by example.  Heed God’s sirens found throughout the scripture and encourage others to do the same.
            
“Let each one take care how he builds… for no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.”         
I Corinthians 3:10-11
 
Bro. James
 
P.S.
Tonight I start a revival at Underwood Baptist Church in Florence, AL.  I been there many times and look forward to renewing my friendship with that church family.  The evening service here will consist of a “Missionary Moment” with Jay Lemonds and his family.  They are presently serving with our International Mission Board in Central Asia.  Jay is the former Director of Missions for our association.  Don’t miss this opportunity to hear from the field.  See ya next Sunday. 

Fading Garden

September 24th, 2017

For most of us yard and garden enthusiasts, the season of abundant growth is winding down. While some plants will continue to bloom until frost, others are already fading out. In our yard, though, one plant seems to have just gotten started. The strange thing is we don’t remember planting anything in that particular spot. It’s growing close to our front door and has taken root in some very inhospitable soil. Several times I have been tempted to uproot it, but the novelty of it just continues to fascinate us.

At first, we thought it was a squash plant, but then someone mentioned it looked like pumpkin foliage. That’s when it hit us. The mystery was solved. The plant is growing in the spot where we had several pumpkins sitting last autumn. Evidently, a seed made its way into the soil and we now have our very own “pumpkin patch” growing out over our driveway.

Every time I pass by it I’m reminded that although our witness for Him should be intentional, there are times unbeknownst to us that we plant gospel seeds by our daily living for Him. Sometimes those seeds may flourish in what might be considered some very unfruitful places. Although they may lie dormant for a time, you never know when the soil (the human heart) might be receptive to the seed (the gospel message) and the end result will be fruit (eternal life)!

Silence is Golden

August 27th, 2017

In the spring of 1970, Apollo 13 launched from Kennedy Space Center with the objective of being the third mission to land on the moon.  The lunar landing was aborted two days into the mission after an oxygen tank exploded, crippling the Service Module.  In 1995, Ron Howard dramatized the story of this incredible saga in a now classic film.  Tom Hanks, who portrayed the real-life character Commander Jim Lovell, uttered one of the memorial lines from that event.  It has now become an iconic phrase:

                                    “Houston, we have a problem.”

I borrow that phrase today to let you know that:

                                    “DeSoto Hills, we have a problem.”

It’s certainly not a life-threatening problem or one that is going to force us to abort our God-given mission.  However, it is an issue that needs to be addressed and hopefully alleviated.  The noise level in the Grand Hall while services are still going on in the MPC has become increasingly louder and is definitely distracting.  Please do your part in helping us to deal with this issue by lowering your voice and encouraging those around you to do the same if you are in the Grand Hall.  It is a grand gathering place, but conversations must be kept low during services.  Thank you for your help and cooperation.

I continue to celebrate all that God is doing in our midst.

A Sad Grandpa

August 6th, 2017

It wasn’t a typical Saturday.  Kathy was visiting her mother.  There was no pressing work to be done at the house and I had already been to the fitness center.  I decided to make a rare visit to the outlet mall.  I went early to beat the heat and the crowds.  I hit a couple of stores and was then lured into the Krispy Cream donut shop by a seemingly irresistible desire. Part of me fought the urge and part of me reasoned that I had already burned some calories that day. I normally try to avoid a lot of sugar, but why not indulge? I really should check out their store. I’d never been inside before. After all, I have a civic duty to try and keep the economy going by buying locally – even if it’s just a donut.

As I was leaving Krispy Cream heading to my truck, I passed by the splash pad at the mall playground.  There were already three kids enjoying the relief from heat that only promised to get worse.  Their dad was sitting at a picnic table in the shade.  The youngest of the three children was desperately trying to get his dad’s attention.  He hollered over and over again, “Dad, watch this!” The man never looked up.  I’m sure you can guess what had his attention.  It certainly wasn’t his children. It was his so called SMARTPHONE.  Staring into it, he was totally oblivious to the pleas of his son.  Maybe what struck me was the father’s smile.  Whatever had captured his attention on the phone was evidently something that pleased him as he ignored the young child.

Now I am certainly not trying to bash technology or ban cell phone usage.  My smart phone not only allows me to stay in touch with my family, it allows me to get in touch with my flock as I minister. However, my brief encounter at the mall that day reminded me that if we are not careful, it can end up putting us out of touch with the very things that are most important in life.

“Extra! Extra!

July 16th, 2017

Long ago when newspapers were the primary source of information, young distributors referred to as “news boys” or “Newsies” would stand on street corners hawking papers to folks passing by with the now iconic phrase

“Extra! Extra!  Read all about it!”

Today I have some extra, EXTRA, EXTRA exciting news.  Construction of our new addition is almost complete.  We should be able to take possession of it soon and hopefully given the green light for occupancy sometime around the middle of August.

This expansion will enable us to relocate some classes that are presently meeting in areas never designed for that purpose.  At the same time, the preschool space is being doubled and our Children’s Ministry is moving to the 3rd floor of the new building.

However, what really has us grinning from ear to ear is the space we now have to start a variety of NEW classes.    If you are not attending Sunday School, now is the opportune time to get involved.  I am convinced being part of a small group such as this ensures that you will be a much happier and healthier believer.  Great days are ahead.  In fact, they are almost here! 🙂

Change

July 9th, 2017

On our recent trip to the beach, I was surprised by the number of churches we passed that had changed their names.  We’ve gone that same direction over the years, so I was vaguely familiar with at least the exterior of those churches along the way.  Most of them at one time had reflected the name of their community and in most cases their denominational affiliation.  However, some of them had now taken on what appeared to be more trendy names like Destination Church, Oasis Church, or Redemption Church.

I speculate that possibly these churches experienced some change of leadership, or change of circumstances, change of direction, or maybe even a change of heart that led to this change of identity.  It could well be that it was a combination of things.  I’m sure they contemplated and calculated that a new name might give them a new start.  Maybe they felt it more accurately reflects their mission.  Churches, and for that matter denominations, can certainly lose sight of why and what they are.

Sadly enough, there was a time when our mere existence said something about us.  Being affiliated with a denomination was not seen as a hindrance to reaching folks with the gospel, but could actually help.  I’m certainly not trying to sit in judgment over churches that change their name.  That is between them and the Lord.  When we started DeSoto Hills in 2006, a transition team came up with our name.  DeSoto reflects our location in the center of this county, Hills is in tribute to our sister church Carriage Hills, and Baptist indicates the denomination we cooperate with as we seek to promote His Kingdom.

Although it may sound a little traditional, I pray we have a reputation for making a positive impact in our community and what can at times be a very negative world.  I suppose if you need a nickname for our church as you seek to reach out to folks, just invite them on over to “the Hills.”

Gratitude

June 25th, 2017

Words cannot express the gratitude my heart feels for all of you who participated in VBS 2017. The MPC was packed each morning with the kids and a host of volunteers eager to jump into the day’s activities. I know many of you who could not be here were still involved in talking the week up, as well as praying for us on a daily basis.

In my heart of hearts, I believe we conducted some Kingdom business that will have eternal consequences for many who were here.

This afternoon we are looking forward to our annual Salute to Summer (church picnic) down at the pavilion. Side Street Steppers will once again be providing us with some entertainment, and there will be lots of food. For those who want to get wet and wild, we will have an array of water inflatables. The fun begins at 5, so bring your lawn chair and join us.

A Blessed Husband

June 4th, 2017

I first met her in the fall of 1975 on the campus of Blue Mountain College. I was starting my third year and she was part of the freshman class. It probably wasn’t love at first sight (especially for her), but I was immediately awestruck with this girl from Ridgeland, MS. I finally got the nerve to ask her out, and the rest as they say is history. We dated for two years, and soon after I graduated from BMC we were married on June 4, 1977 at Ridgeland Baptist Church. After 40 years she continues to be my best friend, and the love of my life. We have been blessed to serve in some remarkable churches, but even at its best, ministry can take its toll on you. Home has always been a refuge for me. A place I found love and support regardless of what was happening beyond those walls. I credit her for helping Marc and Jami keep a sense of equilibrium even as they grew up in the glass house of ministry. At this juncture in our life she excels at being a grandmother, and is a beloved KK to four precious grandchildren.

Thanks Kathy Lynn Pope for accepting my proposal so long ago. As we stop to commemorate this anniversary I look back with a sense of gratitude for the years behind us, and I look forward to those ahead. Thanks for the memories.

 

 

A blessed husband,

Another Lesson From Life

May 28th, 2017

“Looks can be deceiving.” We all know the phrase, and without a doubt, we’ve all experienced the reality of this iconic statement at one time or another. I was certainly reminded of this in a rather amusing way several weeks ago.

As usual, I arrived at church very early on Sunday morning. To my dismay, I saw that someone had placed a small log under the back axle of the golf cart. Who would do such a thing? Why? Everything else on the cart seemed to be fine. There was no apparent tampering. It looked like someone had very deliberately placed the wood underneath the carriage so when you tried to go forward, it would get stuck.

What the culprit did not realize is that their escapades had probably been captured on our newly installed security cameras. I was already contemplating coming in on Monday and rewinding the footage to identify the guilty party. I went on about my business that morning, but every so often I would walk by the crime scene and ponder again the questions who and why?

It was on one of those passes that I decided to take a little closer look. When I did, I discovered the astonishing truth. What was lodged under the cart wasn’t a log at all… just a piece of insulation from the construction site! It was the size of a log… it was the shape of a log… it had the shading of a log. But to tell the truth, no one had put it there. It had been blown there. I had to laugh at myself for the erroneous conclusions I had reached, as well as the non-existent person I had blamed.

Remember today things are not always what they seem. Looks can be deceiving. Before you jump to conclusions, you may need to take a closer look.

Another lesson from life,

Bible School Bound

April 30th, 2017

Throughout the years, the “nook” articles have basically fallen into one of two categories.  Some are intended to be INSPIRATIONAL, while others are simply designed to be INFORMATIONAL.

Today, however, I hope the information I give you will inspire you to pray for, and if at all possible, to participate in VBS 2017.   The dates for this exciting week are June 12-16.  The theme for this year is Passport to Peru, where we will be discovering God’s good gifts.

You can volunteer to help by signing up at the north end of the Grand Hall.  There are a variety of tasks associated with this event… such as setting up the week prior to the event, working in a particular area, to tearing down and cleaning up on Friday afternoon.   I’m confident that some task would fit you just right.

If you are thinking about volunteering for the first time you need to know that it is probably one of the most exhausting, yet at the same time rewarding weeks you will ever experience. J

Don’t delay.  Sign up today.  We are counting on you.

Bible School Bound,

A Grateful Shepherd

April 23rd, 2017

It is a powerful word and an inspiring concept. It’s found all over the world, and is frankly motivated by a variety of reasons, some loftier than others. While in some cases it would be considered a nice gesture, for those of us who make up the church it is a very necessary thing. We simply cannot accomplish our mission without the help of VOLUNTEERS. This is certainly a foundational principle in the life of the early church. It was not only taught, but caught as those early believers listen to, and looked at the life of their leaders. Perhaps Paul says it best when writing to the Philippians.

“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.” Philippians 1:3-4

Today we pause to thank all of you who voluntarily partner with us each week. We literally could not do it without you. From the parking lot to the preschool, from the cameras to the coffee makers, from the tech personnel to those who teach you are greatly appreciated. The reception in the Grand Hall between services today is a small gesture of thanks from a very grateful church staff.
If you have not yet found a way to plug into a ministry here don’t fret. We are ALWAYS in need of more help. Check with some of us today, and we will put you to work pronto.

A grateful shepherd,

Drive Through Funeral Home

March 26th, 2017

It seems like everyday someone is coming up with a new concept bent on making our life just a bit more convenient.  Take for example the newest craze in grocery shopping.  You can go online, order the items you need, pull up to a front parking space at the store (it’s actually where I used to park, but I’m not bitter, well, maybe just a little) and someone will load your groceries.  They not only pick them out and bag them up, but they will place them in your car for you.   This takes consumer friendly to a whole new level.  I haven’t tried it yet, but it appears to be taking the industry by storm.

However, some new trends aimed at making life simpler, simply don’t make a lot of sense.  Take for instance the article that appeared recently in a mid-south newspaper about the man who has turned a bank building into a funeral home.  Really nothing all that unusual about it except for the fact that he gives folks the opportunity to offer their condolences by viewing the deceased from the comfort of their own car.  That’s right.  You just pull through the drive through window.  I’m not making this up.  He said he got the idea while in California….  No further comment.

The truth is sometimes life demands that you put on your Sunday best, park the car, and actually engage with folks on a personal level.  In the end, you will be glad you did.

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord  Jesus Christ.”                       
Ephesians 1:2
Stopping to smell the roses,

Fitbit

March 19th, 2017

Some of the most popular shows on television these days seem to be programs following the real life drama of folks who are getting back to the basics.  They are living off the grid and learning to make a life for themselves with very few modern day amenities.  While I may occasionally enjoy watching some of these shows, I have absolutely no desire to live off the grid… maybe off the highway a bit, but not off the grid.

I love my gadgets.  In fact, I have recently acquired a new one that is pretty interesting.  It’s a Fitbit, a small device you wear on your wrist that counts the number of steps you take everyday… a pedometer on steroids!  While I have been exercising regularly for years, this new piece of technology has the potential to be a very helpful tool.   Since I started wearing it, I’ve upped my game a little at the gym.  I also get up more often at church to stretch my legs, adding some steps to my daily count.   I find myself looking at my smart phone app on a regular basis for an update on my progress.  I get some satisfaction in the fact that my weekly total is typically above average and that I often reach my daily goal long before the sun sets.  This is especially true on Sundays.   Hey!  Aerobic preaching pays off!

However, I wonder how well any of us would do if we had some type of device to calculate our spiritual steps.  We might do all right on Sundays or even Wednesdays, but what about the other five days?  The truth is most of us need some kind of accountability in life, yet where we need it the most, we probably have it the least.  How many steps have you taken in your spiritual walk since last Sunday?  There is no gadget to measure that, but we do have a resource in the person of the Holy Spirit who will guide us in all things.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside the weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith…”
Hebrews 12:1-2

One of Those Days

March 12th, 2017

It had been “one of those days”. You know because you’ve ALL had them. It started out with a little mini crisis at church. Someone had misplaced her wallet/keys. We knew they were here somewhere, but a rather extensive search had yielded no result. I was beginning to fear the unthinkable that someone had picked them up in the parking lot and was at that moment enjoying a spending spree. Happily though, the keys were finally located and the crisis was averted.

By the end of that very crazy workday, Kathy and I were both exhausted and decided to put a Christmas gift to good use and head to a restaurant. Normally we would hit an eating establishment early to try and avoid some of the crowds, but of course this particular night we were way behind our schedule. Traffic was bumper to bumper and my blood pressure was still in the rafters. Things were not looking promising for a calm supper. I was convinced we would have a long wait time and be stuck out in the middle of a crowded room.

Much to my surprise, we were immediately seated in a quiet corner booth. The delicious meal helped, but what really spoke to our weariness that night was the attitude of our server. She waited on us with an efficiency and eagerness that unfortunately is a rare commodity these days. It serves as a reminder (no pun intended) that your approach to life and work does have an impact on those around you.

Food for thought,

DeSoto’s Best

March 5th, 2017

Congrats to all of those in the DHBC family who made the list in this year’s edition of DeSoto’s Best sponsored by the Times-Tribune.  More than twenty businesses and individuals connected with our church took honors in the 2016 online voting campaign.

Our church placed second in the “Place to Worship” category.  Our Fall Fest was voted third in the “Best Local Festival” venue, coming in behind Hernando A’Fair and Southaven Springfest, two city sponsored events.  That’s just pretty impressive.

While the results are certainly not scientific, they are a reminder of the impact our members and ministries are having across DeSoto County.

 

“…whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
I Corinthians 10:31
Busting at the seams,

The Solid Rock

January 29th, 2017

This new year has taken a sudden and difficult turn for our family. On January 16, a much beloved nephew, Matthew Pope, tragically died of a heart attack at the young age of 39. His father is Kathy’s oldest brother, Randy, and his passing has left a gaping hole in our family circle.

Less than 24 hours after hearing of Matt’s death, I stood at the bedside with another family as their loved one was slipping into eternity. His passing was not sudden. He had been suffering for a number of years and his family was lovingly encouraging him to take his last breath and go on home.

As I stood there, I realized there was such a contrast to these two and their passing which happened only hours apart. Both Matt and this man knew the Lord, but what made the difference that day was their age. Herman Hayes (Peggy Childers’ brother-in-law) was 94 years old. In so many ways, his life was behind him. In Matt’s case, so much of his life still seemed to be before him.

As someone so accurately stated at Matt’s memorial service, “The real question is not whether you will die young or old, suddenly or slowly, sick or healthy; what’s really important is will you die READY?”

Today I encourage you to be sure your feet are firmly planted on the solid rock. None of us know what storms we may face in the coming year, but we can be assured that on Jesus Christ, The Solid Rock, we can stand even when all other ground is sinking sand.

 

“For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 3:11

Open Doors

January 22nd, 2017

I continue to give thanks for the foresight of Carriage Hills Baptist to purchase this wonderful acreage that DeSoto Hills now calls home. Although future growth was projected for this area, no one could fully envision what is here today.

At the time they acquired this property, there were no businesses, no schools, no sports complex and amphitheater, no restaurants, and very few houses. How blessed we are to now be sitting in the middle of such expansive growth. From the beginning, with our high visibility and very functional facilities, we wanted to open our doors for community use whenever possible. Throughout the years we have hosted a variety of groups for school functions, community Bible studies, and homeowners associations, just to name a few.

One group that has used our facilities on a consistent basis during the school year is the community student choir, Coro Rio. They are here in numbers every Tuesday afternoon. Tonight you will have the opportunity to hear this extraordinary choir at 6:00 PM in the MPC. Don’t miss it.

I’m out today sharing with the folks at First Baptist Church, Carthage, MS as they celebrate “Men’s Day”. It’s only about 20 minutes from the farm, where we’ve spent a few days with Kathy’s family as we’ve mourned the loss of her nephew, Matthew Pope.

I also want to clear up something that was in last week’s “Nook.” Someone corrected me that the arrows on the floor at IKEA are not painted, but are actually illuminated on the floor from the ceiling. Therefore, they are not quite as low tech as I thought. However, the message remains the same… we all need direction from Him.

Reach and Teach

January 8th, 2017

They say “a picture is worth a thousand words”, but sometimes words just say it all. Recently, some grandparents in our church were trying to help one of their grandchildren understand the relationship between Kathy and me. The child knew Mrs. Kathy, but had never made the connection between us. The grandparents told her that Mrs. Kathy was Bro. James’ wife. The child’s reaction was priceless and right on target. “Oh,” she replied, “is he the old man who walks around all the time and talks about God?”

That pretty much sums it up. I am getting older. I definitely walk around a lot, and it is my prayer that I will keep talking about the things of God in 2017. Although I’m excited about the new building taking shape just to the south of the MPC, I am even more excited about the opportunities we will have in this new year to help build up the kingdom of God.

The church has the awesome responsibility to “reach and teach” a new generation of disciples. In essence, it is our sole responsibility and mission. Regardless of the times, trends, or trials, we march on with a simple and significant message:

 

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Ephesians 2:8-10

Evangelistic Emphasis 3151

December 11th, 2016

My spiritual gift is exhortation, so as an encourager I’m always a little hesitant to share bad news. The truth is “the church” is losing ground. Certainly not all churches are seeing decline, but as a whole, we are failing in the Great Commission to reach our world with the Good News of Jesus Christ. Although we live in very complicated and cynical times, the Biblical mandate for expanding the kingdom remains ever true: each one needs to reach one.

We have attempted to underscore this plan through Project Andrew over the past several years. However, in 2017 we want to expand this ongoing ministry focus through an evangelistic emphasis sponsored by the Southern Baptist Convention entitled “3 1 5 1 Challenge: Tell Someone.”

3 – Pray daily for three lost friends

1 – Learn one spiritual conversation

5 – Invite five people to attend Sunday School with you

1 – Share the gospel one time during this campaign

More information will be available early in the new year, but for now, begin praying for and planning to participate in this “Tell Someone” campaign.

 

 

“He (Andrew) found his own brother Simon and said ‘We have found the Messiah’. He brought him to Jesus.”
John 1:41-42

Much Love

December 4th, 2016

You don’t have to look far at the Lewis household to find photographic reminders of our family. They are everywhere. No occasion is too big or too small, too crowded, too chaotic, too casual or too formal not to merit some kind of snapshot. Kathy is most often the ring leader in this. Although at times, some of us may have a tendency to balk at all the posing, she has throughout the years provided us with some great shots and even better memories.

As the family grows, it has become increasingly difficult to get everyone positioned and smiling. Okay, let’s just forget the smiling and just attempt to have everyone at least looking in the general direction of the camera.

I suppose this is all fresh on my mind because last Sunday we all came prepared to take a family photo for this year’s Christmas card. It was like herding a bunch of cats. There were quite a few attempts. It’s certainly not a perfect pose. However, it sure is a perfect reminder of how blessed I am this holiday season.

Take the time or should I say, make the time to enjoy your family during these festive days.

A Fellow American

November 13th, 2016

Like many of you I stood in an unprecedented long line on Tuesday in order to exercise the privilege of voting as citizen in these United States of America. Far from being ill about the wait, I was elated that so many had turned out. I was grateful to have a voice even though at the time, none of us were quite sure what the outcome would be. Now the election is over, the results are in, and our nation has duly elected a new president. Regardless of how you voted it is now time for us to come together as one nation under God. As followers of Christ, we have a Biblically mandated responsibility to pray for our leaders. We have fervently been praying for the election results, now it is time to pray for the results of the election. Paul clearly reminds us of this in his letter to young Timothy:

“…I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions”

I Timothy 2:2

Pray for the so called transition of power as one administration shuts down and another cranks up. Our constitution was designed for this to be a smooth process. We are not a nation of chaos, but rather one founded upon the principle of government of the people, for the people, and by the people.

A fellow American,

Ten Years in the Place

November 6th, 2016

Today we pause to mark a milestone in the relatively short, but significant history of DeSoto Hills. For a decade now we have been gathering in this place to worship. We’ve been seeking to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ and to help point others to Him. It continues to be an incredible journey. I am so very thankful that for “such a time as this” the Lord is choosing to bless this wonderful family of faith.

Likewise, I’m grateful that some 20 years ago the leadership of Carriage Hills took a step of faith by acquiring this great piece of property. Little did they realize the impact that decision would have for all of us, but more importantly for the kingdom of God. A movement that began as a RELOCATION vision ended up being a REPRODUCTION vision and the rest, as they say, is history.

On a different note, a huge thanks goes out to all of you who helped us pull together and pull off another great FALL FEST. It seems this event gets bigger and better every year. The fire inspector estimated our crowd between 3,500 and 4000! Go ahead and mark your calendars for October 29, 2017 and join us as we throw another “block party” for our community.

VOTE Tuesday. Please continue to pray for our nation as we head to the polls this week. The choices seem difficult and at times the future may seem bleak. However, we (the church) are called upon to be the God ordained lampstand holding up the light that can pierce even the thickest darkness.

 

“In Him (Jesus) was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:4-5

Attitude

October 23rd, 2016

Below you will find some great insight on the subject of attitude from the heart and pen of Charles Swindoll. You might want to even consider placing these words in a prominent place so that you can be reminded on a daily bases how important your attitude truly is.

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company … a church … a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude … I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me, and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you … we are in charge of our Attitudes.”

Food for thought,

Happy Fall Y’all

October 16th, 2016

One of our biggest community events of the year is almost upon us as we make plans for our 10th annual Fall Fest. Although we certainly need the rain, we are hoping that the weather will be clear and crisp on the Sunday afternoon of October 30. As you may remember, for the first time ever we had to cancel last year’s festivities due to the weather. So we are doubly excited about the fun, food, and fellowship that’s just around the corner.

Let me thank all of you who will go the second mile helping us pull together and pull off this massive undertaking. We literally could not do it without you. Please volunteer today. We need you! Sign up sheets are on the bulletin board as you enter the Grand Hall.

Although we are not going to have a contest, we will still need about 40 crock pots of chili!!! YUM!

For further info on how you may help, contact the church office, Kathy Lewis, or see a staff person.

Fall Fest fliers are available at the Welcome Center. Please use them to invite your friends and neighbors to join us. What a PERFECT opportunity to reach out to the unchurched! Don’t forget to wear a nametag and welcome our visitors.

 

How Firm a Foundation

October 9th, 2016

These days you don’t have to look far at DeSoto Hills to be reminded of a major spiritual lesson. Although I trust that our Sunday School, midweek studies, music, and messages each week are conducive to your spiritual growth, there is something taking place right outside our doors that ought to speak volumes to us.

A firm foundation is being laid in preparation for a new education wing to our building. The process has been slow. It’s not very visible, at least from the street. But day after day I have marveled to see all that has gone into getting us to this point.

Without this strong foundation, the new three-story building would not be feasible. Even if you could manage to throw something up, it wouldn’t survive the test of time. This thick slab is a visible reminder of the warning from Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount about choosing wisely where you build your house (life).

Paul likewise echoes this sentiment in his first letter to the Corinthians:

“For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ”

I Corinthians 3:11

It is my prayer that the expansion that is underway will further enable us to help others find SOLID GROUND.

A “Little” Life Lesson

September 18th, 2016

I recently met Kathy and the two youngest grandchildren at a local restaurant for lunch. They had just left the library when KK bravely accepted my meal invitation. I say “bravely” because with two 2 year olds, you just never know how a restaurant outing will go.

When I arrived, Kathy and the children were already seated. Squeals of delight greeted me as the two little ones saw me headed their way. Everyone was in a great mood and things went smoothly until we got ready to go. As McCager was leaving the booth, Keelyn tripped and stumbled into his back. It was like one of those slow motion things you know will happen; yet you are powerless to do anything about it. Both toddlers hit the floor in a flash. It certainly wasn’t a hard fall so I wasn’t actually concerned about them being hurt; however it did hurt McCager’s feelings. Sobbing LOUDLY, he turned to Keelyn and sternly rebuked her for pushing him. He even took a halfhearted swipe at her. She was unfazed by the whole situation, but McCager was visibly shaken. Things went from bad to worse when KK and I both tried to quickly explain that it was an accident and she didn’t mean to push him. He was inconsolable. Even as she was buckling them into their car seats, McCager still snubbing turned to KK and quietly stated, “She did push me.”

It’s a reminder today that not every mishap in our life at the hands of someone else is intentional. Accidents do happen. Although they can be painful… especially hurt feelings, we must be willing to forgive and move on.

“I urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called…”forbearing one another in love…” Ephesians 4:1-2

To God Be the Glory

September 4th, 2016

Last Sunday the Student Ministry Search Team shared the following recommendation in both morning services.

“Over the last several weeks we have been prayerfully weighing everything that goes into the deliberation of searching for a new student minister. God’s timing in this whole process has been nothing less than amazing. So on behalf of the entire team, we would like to recommend with no reservations, David Burgess to be our new full time Student Minister. After hearing his heart there is no doubt in our minds that the Lord has brought him to our church, and more specifically our students. Please join us on Sunday morning, September 18th as David shares with the church his testimony and vision for Student Ministry. Thanks to all of you who have been praying for us throughout this process.”

Latham Stevens

Michele Dubois

Heather Williams

Ryan Diffee

Greg Drumwright

Greg James

Lindsey Watkins

I want to thank this team for their diligence in this matter. Over the past month they have looked at countless resumes, including David’s, in their search for God’s man. After much prayer and deliberation they now believe His will has been confirmed to them. Therefore, they have unanimously shared their decision with the church. You will have the opportunity to vote on this recommendation on the September 18 in the Evening Service.

Wise Words to Live By

August 21st, 2016

In a recent edition of the DeSoto Times Tribune (8-13-16) Dale Lilly had a quote from Mother Teresa that I thought was worth passing along:

“People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered. Love them anyway.

If you do good, people may accuse you of selfish motives. Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you may win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway.

The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.

Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.

People who really want help may attack you if you help them. Help them anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you may get hurt. Give the world the best you have anyway.”

 

Thinking Out Loud

August 7th, 2016

I was pleased several years ago when I heard that a convenience store was being built near our home. I correctly assumed that the price of gas would be high and the selection small. However, it’s nice to have somewhere close to grab some milk or fuel when you don’t have the time or energy to head to the supermarket. It is an attractive building and although I only use the store occasionally, two things about it really bug me. They don’t sell bread and their hours of operation are sporadic.

I’m not saying you have to open early, but if you advertise that you open at 5 am, then do so. For a convenience store to be truly convenient, it really needs to be consistent. I know that hours of operation may have to vary occasionally, but when opening at sporadic times becomes the norm, then you have a problem.

Likewise for the church to be effective, we must be consistent. We certainly try to start on time, but more importantly, our message needs to be the same yesterday, today, and forevermore. Folks need to consistently hear about and witness the saving power of our Lord every time they are around us.

P.S.

I start a revival tonight through Wednesday in Ashland, MS at Pinegrove Baptist Church. Please pray for me as I share with this sister congregation and also for traveling safety as I drive back and forth each night.

Porch Ponderings

July 31st, 2016

It’s early morning and I’m on the screen porch at the farm listening to the crows announce the beginning of a new day. I’m supposed to be on vacation, but as always, I find it impossible and frankly unrealistic to completely shut down all thoughts of ministry. It’s who I am and what I do. Thankfully, Kathy understands so I’m out here writing and studying in the wee hours.

Last night at supper I observed a real “nook moment.” We had been at a rehab facility in Philadelphia, MS checking on Kathy’s mom. Before returning to the cabin, we decided to grab a bite to eat at a local Mexican restaurant. The place was absolutely packed. There was even a mariachi band moving from table to table performing a variety of music. By the way, you really haven’t lived until you hear a mariachi version of “Sweet Home Alabama.” It was awesome. There were plenty of servers and once seated, one immediately took our order.

Throughout the meal, a lady I deduced was the manager worked the dining room checking on folks. At one point, she even picked up an armload of dishes and quickly headed towards the kitchen. In route, the load shifted and dishes hit the tile floor right in the middle of the crowded dining room. Glass shards went everywhere. Without a word, every worker in the room sprang into action. I mean they all stopped what they were doing and quickly pitched in to take care of the mess. Within seconds it was if it had never happened.

There was none of this “it’s not my mess, so it’s not my problem.” It’s a lesson that we probably need to relearn not only as a church, but in a larger sense, as a nation. We can complain about the mess or we can “go the extra mile” that just might help clean it up.

“…the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve…”
Matthew 20:28

A Lesson From the Soil

July 17th, 2016

Except for my family, I rarely name names in this space. However, recently someone said something to me that had such profound spiritual significance that I just had to pass it on. They weren’t trying to be spiritual, just being honest about how they viewed a particular area of their life. However, their words are a great reminder of how we ought to view our walk with the Lord and our work for Him.

Patsy Bevill is without a doubt the most passionate person I have ever met when it comes to daylilies. Along with others, Kathy and I make an annual pilgrimage to her and Jimmy’s yard at the peak of the season to take in the beauty of God’s handiwork through these floral masterpieces. Besides her ferns, hostas, and other beautiful flowers, Patsy has over a thousand daylilies in her yard. (It’s a treat not just for the eyes, but also for the taste buds because there is also plenty of homemade ice cream on hand.) Each daylily is well groomed, fed, known by name, and loved by Patsy.

A yard of this size and splendor takes a lot of work, but even with some major health issues weighing on her, Patsy and Jimmy take it all in stride. Keep her in your prayers as over the next few months, Patsy is facing some extensive procedures at Vanderbilt in Nashville with the hopes of improving her mobility that has been affected by Parkinson’s.

I joked with her that she was having all this done between yard seasons. Next summer their yard will be part of the National Daylily Tour. Pretty impressive, huh? When I lightly heartedly said they would really have their work cut out for them next year, Patsy’s response made me smile. She simply stated there would be no more work involved in preparing for the tour than normal because they do what they do for their own pleasure. I guess for Patsy, other’s enjoying her landscape is just icing on the cake.

While others may benefit from your walk with the Lord, I encourage you to stroll in the garden with Him today because it will most assuredly benefit YOU!

“…whatever you do…do it all for the glory of God…” I Corinthians 10:31

Summer Sizzle

July 10th, 2016

Summer continues to sizzle at DeSoto Hills and I’m not just talking about the weather. Many things of paramount importance are happening here. A few weeks ago, you approved the recommendation from the deacons that the following people serve as a Student Ministry Search Team:

Ryan Diffee
Michele DuBois
Greg Drumwright
Latham Stevens
Greg James
Heather Williams
Lindsey Watkins

Please pray that this team will have clear direction from the Lord as they seek to find a new Student Minister. This is a vital part of our church life.

Construction on Phase II of our Master Facility Plan is slated to begin TOMORROW. Hopefully by this time next year, the project will be near completion. We look forward to this much needed addition.

I had a wedding to perform this weekend in Jackson, so Kathy and I have taken the opportunity to spend a few extra days at the farm. Praying you have a great day.

Now that’s a tune worth humming!

June 26th, 2016

Okay. I know I am a creature of habit. Perhaps too regimented, but I do like sticking to my predetermined plan as much as possible. I find I get more done if I think it through, and plan it out. Life and ministry are not an exact science, and certainly there are times when my routine has to take a back seat to the pressing needs of the day.

However, there are some habits I try to stick to regardless of whatever else is going on. One of those is my weekly exercise regimen. Four times a week, rain or shine, cold or hot, early or maybe even earlier, I’m at the gym doing some light weights and cardio workout. With ear buds in and music humming, I sweat to the oldies and get my day jump-started.

Not surprisingly, several weeks ago while VBS was in full swing, I found myself at the fitness center a little earlier than usual. A lot was going on that week and I suppose I was deep in thought that particular morning as I worked out. When I finished, I reached to turn Pandora off and realized that I had been on the treadmill for 25 minutes with my ear buds in, but had forgotten to turn on the music. That was a first. I was shocked and stirred all at the same time.

Maybe today you are deep in thought, deep in trouble, or just kind of weighed down with the cares of life. Let me encourage you not to forget the music. The melody of God’s grace and goodness is always a comfort for the soul.

“…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”

Philippians 4:6-7

Prepare to Launch

June 12th, 2016

Without a doubt one of the busiest weeks in the life of DeSoto Hills is upon us as we prepare to launch VBS 2016. What we have been praying for and working towards for months now begins tomorrow morning and will run through Friday from 9 until noon each day. As you can imagine, this is a massive undertaking that inspires us to bring our A-game to the table. We have an incredible opportunity to impact so many young hearts with the truth of God’s Word. I ask you to pray for Laura as she once again leads the charge for Vacation Bible School, and be sure to invite or bring those children around you that do not attend church. May He be glorified!

Let me also encourage you to be in prayer for and to attend the service next Sunday morning. Nick Walters will be back with us to share his extraordinary testimony in both services. If you were with us on Wednesday nights in May, you know he is a gifted speaker and teacher. You will not want to miss this opportunity to hear him again.

I strongly encourage you to invite your friends and neighbors. This could well be one of those “Project Andrew” moments. Nick is NOT a preacher, but rather a layman who has a passion for the Lord and His Word. His life experiences are a testimony to the faithfulness of the Lord in the midst of some very difficult circumstances. Hope to see you here on Father’s Day 2016.

A fellow pilgrim,,

Chris Layton

May 29th, 2016

It seems like only yesterday that we were welcoming the Layton family into our fellowship and now it’s time to say goodbye. Chris has accepted a position at First Baptist Church in Brookhaven and will be joining their staff in July. I am grateful for the years of ministry he has given to DeSoto Hills and I know you join me in wishing them God’s richest blessings as they embark on this new journey.

Due to Chris’ departure, I’m pleased to announce that the Personnel Team has asked David Burgess to join our staff as a Student Ministry Intern beginning the first of June. David is certainly no stranger to DeSoto Hills, or for that matter, Student Ministry. He married one of our own, Hannah Beasley Burgess, and has served as a part time Youth Minister at a local church. Although David has a full time position with LifeWay Christian Bookstore, we believe he can be very effective helping us during these days of transition. Pray for him and the future of this critical aspect of our church life.

I want to reassure our students, parents, and volunteers that none of this caught the Lord by surprise. As always, He will provide. Below you will find Chris’s resignation that was shared with the church family last Wednesday evening.

Bro. James
DeSoto Hills Family,

It is with a bittersweet feeling that I am writing to inform you I will be resigning from my position as Minister to Students at DeSoto Hills Baptist Church. Through much thought, prayer and tears, Christen and I believe God is calling us to move. We will be moving to First Baptist Church Brookhaven, MS where I will serve as Associate Pastor/Minister to Students. We are so thankful for the time God has given us at DeSoto Hills. This has not been an easy decision for us and we covet your prayers for our family as we make this transition. We are so thankful for all the relationships we have made and know those will not be lost. We will continue to serve at DeSoto Hills until June 26, which will be my last day. We love you all and thank you for showing our family so much love during our time here.

Soli Deo Gloria!
Chris Layton

Past Due Notice

May 22nd, 2016

Hey, it can happen to anyone. You get a bill in the mail, it gets lost in the shuffle, and suddenly, you’re receiving a notice that it’s past due. However, the likelihood of this happening to me these days is greatly reduced due to the convenience of online banking. The bill comes in, the amount is entered into the payment center, and it’s all done electronically. You can easily see your payment history. Therefore, I was shocked to get a bill in the mail the other day for a city service that boldly showed I had a past due amount. It was due immediately and failure to act promptly would mean an interruption in service. What was even more shocking was the fact that I had indeed paid the prior month’s bill, but for some reason had missed putting in the full amount. They were sending me a past due notice and threat of termination because I had unintentionally short-changed them by one cent! Now to be fair to the city, I’m sure all of this is computerized. A rule is a rule. If you are delinquent by a penny or a hundred dollars, the consequences are the same.

I quickly fixed my mistake and breathed a sigh of relief. First of all, nothing would be shut off. More important was the spiritual lesson I was reminded of in the midst of all this. I am thankful that I will never get a notice from heaven that my spiritual account is past due. It’s all been PAID IN FULL. Hallelujah!

 

Singing in the shower,

We Still Have Biblical Standards

May 8th, 2016

Recent legislation signed into law by the governor of Mississippi has brought down a firestorm of criticism upon our state along with what seems to be an unprecedented loathing for the religious community. Never before has the anti-Christian sentiment been higher than it is at present. The court of public opinion in our nation has been shifting toward this attitude for years, fueled in part by groups that are frankly appalled that we still have Biblical standards.

As one Memphis radio disc jockey said in response to House Bill 1523, “I can’t believe that in the evolution of planet earth that we still have people who think like this.” Perhaps he hit the nail on the head as so many are focusing on man’s so-called evolution instead of God’s resolutions. Folks on both sides of the issue will continue to debate the merits of this bill.

However, the bigger question for us is what are the people of God to do as the tide continues to turn against us?

Should we expect and accept a measure of PROTECTION from government? Yes, but I certainly would not put all my eggs in that basket. Paul used his Roman citizenship while in Philippi to gain some traction for the gospel message. However, it was short lived. He eventually ended up being opposed and imprisoned through the Roman system.

Should we expect some measure of PERSECUTION? Of course. Jesus made it very clear that when it came to persecution, it would not be a matter of “if” but rather “when.”

“If the world hates you, know that it hated me before it hated you.”

John 15:18

Let’s just be sure they hate us for the same reason they hated Jesus.

Do we need to keep some PERSPECTIVE?

Absolutely, we must not become distracted by all of this. Our mission has not and will not change.

“Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”

II Corinthians 5:20

The political climate does not make or break us. We march on as faithful soldiers of the cross and in doing so, we are reminded of the final message Jesus gave before ascending back into heaven:

“And behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:20

Standing on His promises,

From a Grateful Heart

May 1st, 2016

 

There is a word that’s been hijacked by those who are constantly pushing towards a world where there are no absolutes. Truth is in the eye of the beholder and so called “political correctness” has become the new standard by which all things are judged. They justify this by twisting what God intended to be a good thing into something that means whatever you’re doing is okay because we are all DIVERSE.

It’s time we took that word and concept back. Long before man distorted it, the Lord placed a wonderful diversity into His world and also into His body, the church. Paul reminds the Corinthians of this when some tried to stress the importance of one gift/group over the other.

“For the body does not consist of one member, but of many.”

I Corinthians 12:14

“Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”

I Corinthians 12:27

I am so very grateful for the diversity that flourishes at DeSoto Hills. Unlike the folks in Corinth, we are not a church where individual groups are jockeying for recognition or predominance. We understand the marvelous truth that we are one in Christ and we celebrate the diversity of ages and personalities that contribute to the health of any church. I may not always spend a lot of time bragging “to” your particular bracket, but I guarantee you that everywhere I go, I am bragging “on” you.

We are so blessed to have so many young children, youth, young families, and singles here along with those who are young at heart whose steadfastness is an example to us all. From the nursery to senior adults, we are united in our quest to praise and serve Him.

 

Full Steam Ahead

April 24th, 2016

It’s full steam ahead as we move forward with Phase II of our Master Facility Plan. As you can imagine, a project of this magnitude requires a lot of pre-construction planning before the first spade of dirt is ever moved. Paul Wardlaw continues to work tirelessly to help us get all our ducks, not to mention documents, in a row so the bulldozers can start prepping the site. Below is a summarized progress report and the tentative plan that Paul recently shared with the church family:

  • Financing agreements have been completed and approved
  • Staff has reviewed and revised ministry space requirements
  • Architects/Engineers targeting end of April for construction documents
  • Submit plans to the City of Southaven for design and code review by the first week in May
  • Bids in and General Contractor selection by mid-June
  • Ground breaking and construction start mid-July

He also reminded us that we are able to embrace this massive project because of your faithfulness in giving above and beyond the tithe to “Beyond Beyond Measure”. Thanks to all of you who have stepped up your offerings for this purpose. If you have not done so, would you prayerfully consider your involvement in this process? These are exciting days for the DeSoto Hills family.

Yellow Ribbons

April 17th, 2016

Not long ago I used some “yellow ribbons” in my message as a reminder that we need to always be sure we welcome Jesus in this place. His hometown of Nazareth missed an opportunity to show their love for Him. We do not want to make the same mistake. This illustration reminded me of an overwhelming show of love given to my family years ago via some “yellow ribbons.” After three years, a relatively short ministry for me, I sensed the Lord leading in a new direction. This major decision weighed heavily on me. Moving has never been an easy thing for my family. We lay down roots and make a place home. However, this change of address had the potential to be much more difficult than most due to the age of our children. Marc was finishing up his junior year in high school, so a move would mean spending his senior year at a new school. Jami was right behind him starting her junior year. It’s one of those timing things every pastor prays he does not have to face.

However, the more I worked through the process, the more convinced I was that this was the right move for me. Therefore in 1998, I came to Southaven in view of a call to become pastor of Carriage Hills. I preached in the morning service, the church voted that night and I accepted the position. It was a bittersweet drive back home to New Albany as we dealt with the reality of saying goodbye to one church family in order to begin our journey with another.

Evidently word had gotten out at FBC why my entire family was gone that Sunday. When we arrived back home late that night, to our amazement the place was a sea of yellow ribbons. They had been tied everywhere… on the trees, the porch railings, the hedges, and the doorknobs. Our precious old cat “Puddin” even sported a ribbon around her neck. The touching gesture made resigning that much more difficult, but I’m so glad we heard and heeded the call to come to Southaven. What an incredible journey it continues to be.

Food For Thought

March 27th, 2016

If I were to write a modern day proverb, it might go something like this:

“Where lawsuits do abound, warning labels abound more.”

Manufacturers and service providers have discovered, sometimes the hard way, that if there is even the slightest chance of their product being even remotely dangerous, then they had better slap a warning label on it.  Some of these are certainly needed, while frankly, others lean towards being silly.  But be that as it may, this is the world in which we live.

However, today I want to point out one dangerous product that is sadly missing any kind of caution label.  The scripture even warns us about its potentially deadly nature over and over again.   Every dictionary sold in a store or accessed online ought to carry the following notation:

WARNING

Use of this product can be extremely hazardous.

Proceed with caution.

The use, and sometimes misuse, of our words is certainly not a new problem, but the potential to misspeak seems greater than ever.   Technological advances offer folks so many more opportunities to share their thoughts.  Social media sites provide a wide and immediate audience.   I don’t know who first coined the phrase “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me”, but they could not have been more mistaken.  Your words can literally make or break someone’s day.  Remember that the next time you talk, text, or post something.

 

“If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.” 
James 1:26
Food For Thought,,

Learning from Life

March 13th, 2016

I am elated to say that for the past several weeks, we’ve been baptizing folks on a regular basis.  What an awesome way to begin a worship service!  I am so thankful for those who have been coming to publicly express their love for Christ and their devotion to Him through this Biblical mandate.

However, recently we have had a few “logistical” problems.  More precisely, I guess I should say “I” have had a problem.  My waders have been leaking.  In case you didn’t know, the reason I can transition so quickly from the water to the worship center is due to the pair of duck hunting waders that theoretically keep me from getting wet. They are a great tool of course, unless they leak.

At first it wasn’t a big deal.  I just felt a little dampness in a boot area, but lately, the soaking became more apparent.   Then, I literally had to wring the water out of my sock before putting my shoe back on.  Believe me, soggy socks on a roaming preacher are not a good mix.

We discussed trying to find the leak and repair it, but eventually decided to just replace the waders. The results were awesome.  Last week I stayed high and dry!

The moral of this soggy story is simple.  Small leaks or problems can often have severe consequences.  Ignoring a problem rarely fixes it.  In fact, it typically only makes it worse.  So in the infamous words of the great philosopher Barney Fife, we need to  “nip it, nip it, nip it!”  Or in this case, “replace it, replace it, replace it.”

Backyard Wisdom

March 6th, 2016

As many of you know, I’m not much of a “handy man” when it comes to working on stuff.  My “want to” far outweighs my “know how.”   I’m just not mechanically minded.  The problem is I’m surrounded by machinery that I depend on all the time.

During a recent warm spell, I decided to drag out my push mower and cut/mulch the backyard.  This particular mower has been a very reliable piece of equipment that typically cranks after one or two pulls, even after setting up all winter.  However, this year I could not get the thing to start.  I pulled.  I waited.  I pulled.  I waited.  I double checked the fuel, even added a little, but to no avail.

I was frustrated and ready to give up when I decided to try one last thing.  I just tipped the machine over and drained out all the existing fuel.  I then poured some fresh gas into it and pulled the cord.  To my great delight, the engine came to life and I happily, if not a little smugly, ran over the leaves in our back yard.  I had fixed it with a simple, but extremely satisfying solution.

Sometimes the things that trouble us spiritually are not always as complicated as they seem.  Although it could be a glaring sin, maybe you are not firing on all cylinders today because you have stale or tainted fuel clogging the line.

 

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
Philippians 4:8

Spring Fever

February 28th, 2016

I know it’s only a respite, but it is the middle of February and I’m sitting on my screen porch enjoying a cup of coffee, listening to the predawn world come alive. The frogs and birds seem especially happy this morning. Obviously, this brief warm spell won’t last.  The icy cold grip of winter will return, possibly even with a vengeance. 

However, in the infamous words of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With The Wind, “I can’t think about that right now. I’ll think about that tomorrow.”  I am not suggesting that we have a flippant attitude about the future, but rather that the cares of tomorrow must not overshadow the now of today.  Perhaps that is exactly what Jesus meant when He said: “Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.” Matthew 6:34

I’m fully aware that spring is not actually here, that cold temperatures will return, and that I will once again be driven indoors.  However, today none of that seems to matter.  I’m outside, a little closer to nature, which refreshes my body, mind, and soul. 

It’s also a reminder that on a spiritual level, things may get worse here before they get better, but the eternal glorious Spring is definitely on it’s way.  Amen and Amen!
 
Bro. James


Andrew

February 14th, 2016

For several years now, February has become “witness awareness” month for DeSoto Hills.  Based on an event found in John 1:40-42, we call this emphasis “Project Andrew”:

‘One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.  He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ.)  He brought him to Jesus…’

This scripture stands as a reminder that the best type of witness is typically a personal one.  Once again I’m encouraging you to think about, pray for, and reach out to those around you who need a touch from the Master’s hand!  These individuals might be unsaved, unchurched, uncommitted, or perhaps, you’re just unsure of their spiritual status.  I encourage you to find one of the “Project Andrew” slips found throughout the church and place their name in the offering plates, offering box, or in the basket located at the foot of the cross in the Multipurpose Center.  You may want to only write a first name. We want to pray over these names and pray for you as you seek to help “bring them to Jesus” just as Andrew did for his brother Peter. 

On Sunday, February 21, Tommy Vinson will be with us in all three services to help us focus on personal evangelism and bring this issue to the forefront.  Bro. Tommy is no stranger to DeSoto Hills or Southaven.  He is a gifted communicator and his insight into scripture is phenomenal.  I know we will be blessed and challenged by his messages.

D-Now

January 24th, 2016

To say this year’s D-Now was a huge success would be an understatement. When I walked in our building Saturday night, there was an endless sea of faces. Some were eating, some were playing games, some were fellowshipping, and others just goofing off. As far as I could tell, they were all just having a really good time. It was exciting to see our facilities so full of students. The energy at first might have seemed chaotic, but it was really just part of a well-planned weekend.

Everywhere I looked I was grateful to see not only teenagers, but adults who had volunteered their time to help make the entire weekend possible. They kept the kids housed, safe, fed, and on-task during the entire event.

While I’m on the subject of volunteers, let me also thank all of you who helped out last Sunday. Because of D-Now, we had a full house. Once again, many of you stepped up to bat. Even as the service started, you were scooting around to make room, or dragging out chairs and setting them up so folks could find a place to sit.

We had another church staff worshiping with us during that service. They were having a retreat in Southaven and wanted to visit with our staff after church to get some pointers on how we do ministry. I was so thankful they were able to see first hand the volunteer spirit that prevails in our church. We are blessed.

Love you all,

Planning

January 17th, 2016

For many years now we have been prayerfully and, I might add, carefully weighing our options concerning the need to expand our present facilities.  Education space has been maxed out almost from the beginning.   For some time now, we have been utilizing spaces that were really not designed for this purpose (kitchen, storage areas, office spaces, etc.)  However, I am delighted to announce that on January 24th in both morning worship services, the Strategic Planning and Stewardship teams will make a joint recommendation that we now proceed with construction on the new addition.  The footprint of the project has been somewhat downsized in order to have a more manageable construction budget.  At least for now, it still addresses the majority of our space problems.  A big thanks goes out to all of you who have been giving above and beyond your tithe over the past 3 years to Beyond Measure.  That seed money and the additional 3 year commitment many of you made last September to give to Beyond, Beyond Measure was instrumental in helping us secure financing for Phase II of our Master Plan.  These are exciting days and I’m so grateful to be part of them.

New Year

January 10th, 2016

It’s early morning and I’m sitting before a roaring fire, sipping a hot cup of coffee, enjoying one last morning at the farm before packing up and returning home.  It’s been a wonderful Christmas season, but frankly, I’m ready to get back home and back to church.

This new year, 2016, has the potential of being such an exciting time at DeSoto Hills.  It certainly will be a year of ANTICIPATION as we work to put the finishes touches on our expansion plan. The dream of increasing our facilities is getting close!  It will also be a year of CELEBRATION.  In October we will commemorate 10 years of ministry at our Getwell location.  For those of you not familiar with our history, Carriage Hills Baptist multiplied back in 2006 and we began with 350 members.  Our membership is now close to 1400. Wow! It continues to be an incredible journey.  Let’s strive to stay kingdom-focused so we can hold high the light of Jesus until He returns.

 

 

 

“You are the light of the world.  A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
Matthew 5:13-16
A fellow pilgrim,

Art

January 3rd, 2016

Although I’m a very transparent person, there are some things you may not know about me personally. Kathy and I enjoy art… all kinds of art. To be more precise, I appreciate it, but Kathy is passionate about it. Her love for the artistic side of life has certainly had an effect on me. Obviously we’re certainly not art collectors in the traditional sense, but through the years we’ve collected some items, including paintings, that are precious to us. Some are originals and others are numbered prints.

One print given to me by a dear pastor friend hangs right above my desk in my church study. I see it everyday. It’s a watercolor depicting a scene of hope in the midst of one of our nation’s darkest times, the Civil War. Two opposing armies are on either side of a riverbank. However, their weapons are not drawn. All eyes seem to be focused on a baptism that is taking place in the middle of the river. Several soldiers are standing in line to be next, while another man is shown stripping off shoes and socks before wading into the water.

This painting is a reminder to me that regardless of what side of the river or issue people are on, they still need the Lord. It is my prayer that 2016 will be a fruitful year at DHBC as we continue to point people to Jesus, the one whose character is changeless and whose message is timeless.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
Hebrews 13:8
Happy New Year,

Black Friday

December 13th, 2015

I don’t know where or how you like to spend Black Friday, but I prefer to happily spend my day in solitude on the farm as far away from the retail world as possible.  For many, the fray of shopping is as much a part of their holiday experience as the turkey. Well, to each their own. 

Typically we leave my family in Tennessee after lunch on Thanksgiving, drive the four hours home to Southaven, regroup for a few minutes, then climb back in the vehicle and drive another two and a half hours to the farm.  It’s a long day, but a few extra quiet hours at the cabin in the woods so refreshes both of us that it’s worth it.

However, this year Kathy and I were almost home when we decided we were just too tired to continue the trip. We’d spend the night in Southaven and get up very early the next morning to head on south to CrossRidge.  Age sometimes has a way of forcing you to alter the best-laid plans or even the most avid of traditions. 

We woke up the next morning, ready for the road long before daylight.  As we talked the whole way to farm, I commented to Kathy that driving into the light instead of out of it was much preferable these days.  Then the spiritual implication of that simple observation hit me.  We, the church, are heading into the light … not out of it.  The days may be dark, but dawn is just around the corner.

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.  Therefore encourage one another with these words.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
A lesson from the road,

Lilly

December 6th, 2015

Last Sunday I was a couple of hours east of Nashville in Monterey, TN helping celebrate the life of my Aunt Lilly who passed away November 27.  Lilly was number eight of the ten children born to Jesse and Sarah Wood in Crossville.   My mother was the last child, the baby of the family. She now finds herself facing the hard reality of being the only sibling left. 

However, as I looked around during the service, I realized just how “fruitful” the Wood clan has been.  Like me, the cousins I grew up with have had children and now those children are having children…. Well, you get the picture.  Life goes on.  I had a great time prior to the service reminiscing with family and of course, relaying the news every chance I could that I now have four GRANDchildren! 

My Mississippi kids haven’t had much contact with my east Tennessee extended family because my parents and sister’s bunch lived in the Nashville area.  However, all of us are uniquely and wonderfully connected by the love of my grandparents who started this ball rolling so many years ago.  Thankfully, that same passion is alive and well in their descendants. 

Although my roots run deep in the soil of Mississippi now, I will be forever grateful for the nurturing I received while growing up in the Volunteer state.
 
All of us are leaving some kind of legacy behind. Be sure it’s one worth passing on.

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.  He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season,”
                                                                        Psalm 1:1-3

Deck the Halls

November 29th, 2015

A big, BIG, BIG thank you goes out to all of you who stuck around last Sunday afternoon to help us “deck the halls” in preparation for the Christmas season.  The church looks photo perfect and I believe it will help even the most avid Scrooge find some Christmas spirit.  As we kick off the holidays, I want to remind you of the simple truth that the message of Christmas still rings out true.  It is a message of HOPE. 

These are desperate times in many ways and darkness seems to be gaining ground everyday.  Yet for us, a significant truth pierces through even the most diabolic of times.  The apostle John’s inspired perspective of the Christmas story is distinctly and wonderfully different from all the other gospels.  There is no mention of a manager, or star, or shepherds, or even wise men from the east.  However, the message is loud and clear and much needed today:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made by Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made.  In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, and darkness has NOT overcome it.
Joy to the world the Lord has come,

Thankful for His Blessings

November 22nd, 2015

If you are looking for me between 3:30 and 4:00 most Wednesday afternoons, there might be a problem. I’m usually hiding. As most of you know, our two older grands started Pre-K this year, so I no longer see them on a daily basis.  However, Marc always comes directly to church from school on Wednesdays to prepare for the student service in The Attic. This year Riley rides from school with him.  So, for about 30 minutes every Wednesday afternoon, I get to have some time with her before Jennifer arrives to collect her.  Riley loves playing ball on # 2 (the second floor) as she calls it, right in front of the offices. She recently has discovered the joy of playing Hide and Seek.  Frankly, Wednesdays are long days and I think all of us in the office area enjoy the break from routine and the enthusiasm for life that Riley brings on those afternoons. 

Children grow up so fast. I know the day will come when “playing with BoBo” will not be high on Riley’s list.  So until then, you’ll find me most Wednesday afternoons hiding from or looking for a precious four year old that captured my heart from the moment I heard she was on the way.

Psalm 17:6 Children’s children [are] the crown of old men; and the glory of children [are] their fathers.

Psalm 103:17 But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children–

Psalm 127:3 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. 

1 Timothy 5:8  Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

Deu. 26:10 And you shall rejoice in all the good that the Lord your God has given to you and to your house… 

Psalm 115:12-15 The Lord has remembered us; he will bless us; he will bless the house of Israel; he will bless the house of Aaron; he will bless those who fear the Lord, both the small and the great. May the Lord give you increase, you and your children! May you be blessed by the Lord, who made heaven and earth!

Enjoy some time with your loved ones this holiday season.

Budget

November 2nd, 2015

The Staff and Stewardship team are putting the finishing touches on the 2016 budget.  I want to take this opportunity to thank all of them for their diligent work.  It can be a tedious job as we try to weigh the needs and even the wishes in light of the resources that are provided week after week.  Some of the increases you find in the new budget have been placed there to help directly expand the ministries at DHBC.  However, others just simply reflect the growing operational and supportive costs of doing church.  I also will remind you that our brand new facility is not so new any more.  As our building ages, there will continue to be maintenance issues that must be anticipated and addressed via the budget.  Below you will find a schedule of events pertaining to this year’s budget:

2016 Budget Presented
Sunday morning, November 8
9 & 10:30

2016 Budget Questions and Answers Session
Wednesday, November 11 & 18
5:30 to 6:30
Church Office

2016 Budget Vote
Sunday night, November 29
6:00
Attic

Mic Stand

October 25th, 2015

I realize I am biased, but for the most part, the services here at DHBC are carefully planned and well executed.  We try to be good stewards of your time and provide an atmosphere that will be conducive to worship.  However, there are times when you just can’t anticipate what will happen.   After years of serving varying sized churches across the state of Mississippi, I have reached a universal and undeniable truth: Preschoolers are UNPREDICTABLE!

You can teach them, rehearse them, and even take them by the hand to guide them, but in the end, it can be like trying to herd a bunch of baby chicks.  They each have a mind of their own.  It is always a joy (and an adventure I might add) when they are scheduled to sing in “big church.”  I watched in gratitude last Sunday as they marched in… and then it happened.  One precious little girl was so enthralled by the crowd that she walked straight into one of the microphone stands.  She centered it with her face pretty hard.   The stand rocked for several long seconds, but remained upright.    Thankfully she was not hurt and actually seemed unfazed by the whole ordeal.  Truthfully, she walked right into the stand because she was waving at her mother.  I have a long time connection with her family, so we were able to joke about it after the service.  I teasingly chided the mom for her role in the mishap.

The moral of this story is simple…  sometimes even good things can distract us.

Join me today in giving thanks for the children and WORKERS who are faithfully here week after week.

Time Marches On

October 18th, 2015

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.

Feeling Blessed

October 11th, 2015

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.

Thinking Out Loud

October 4th, 2015

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

Letter From the Chief

September 27th, 2015

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

 

 

A Fellow Pilgrim,

September 23rd, 2015

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.

Welcome Home Brandon

September 13th, 2015

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.

 

Busy but Blessed

September 6th, 2015

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

Preparing to Proclaim

August 30th, 2015

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
Preparing to proclaim,,

A Message from the Soapbox

August 23rd, 2015

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 message from the soapbox,

See Ya Wednesday

August 17th, 2015

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

 

Excited to see ya Wednesday,

Five Years Already!

August 8th, 2015

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.

A New Vehicle

August 2nd, 2015

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!

Preach Through the Books

July 19th, 2015

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
Much love,

Lessons and Laughter from the Pool

July 12th, 2015

“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
Lessons and laughter from the pool,

Disappointed but not Dissuaded

July 5th, 2015

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

Disappointed but not dissuaded,

Mom in Hospital

June 28th, 2015

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

Lessons from the Road

June 21st, 2015

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
Lessons from the road,

Blessed Beyond Measure

June 14th, 2015

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.”
Psalm 90:12
Blessed beyond measure,

A long time veteran of VBS

June 8th, 2015

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.

A long time veteran of VBS,

Announcing

May 31st, 2015

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.

Lost in the Med

May 24th, 2015

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.

Thinking out loud,,

Happy Mother’s Day

May 10th, 2015

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.

Happy Mother’s Day,

A Low-Tech Preacher

April 25th, 2015

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.”

A low-tech preacher,,

Mount Everest Awaits

April 18th, 2015

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.

Spring Frogs

April 12th, 2015

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
Sleepless in Southaven,

Weather

April 5th, 2015

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.”
Psalm 91:2
Happy Easter,

New Mall

March 29th, 2015

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.

Just thinking out loud,

Making a Joyful Noise

March 15th, 2015

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.

Making a joyful noise,

Baptism Nightmare

March 8th, 2015

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.

Thinking out loud,

Ice and Sun

February 26th, 2015

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.”
Acts 17:28

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
Stay Warm,

Surf the Web

February 16th, 2015

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. 🙂

Happy Surfing,

Gym Names

February 12th, 2015

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).”
Romans 16:16

Growing Old

February 5th, 2015

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."
Proverbs 16:31

Heart Is Not In It…

December 10th, 2014

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….”
Colossians 3:23

Beyond “Beyond Measure”

November 20th, 2014

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.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Happy Labor Day

August 27th, 2014

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.
Ephesians 4:2

The Fruit Is Not Always Visible…

July 8th, 2014

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.”
Galatians 6:9

Reality Check

May 28th, 2014

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

A “Merry Heart”

May 16th, 2014

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.”
Proverbs 17:22

VBS 2014

April 23rd, 2014

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.

Safari bound,

P. S. What a marvelous day we had last Sunday. The totals are in and we had 1332 folks here last week. ☺

Viewing Life Through The Windshield

April 10th, 2014

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

Loving Grandparenthood…

March 6th, 2014

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.

Loving grandparenthood,

A Fellow Pilgrim

February 27th, 2014

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,

P.S.
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.

On The Road Again

February 6th, 2014

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…”

Resolutions???

January 21st, 2014

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.”
Proverbs 17:22