I don’t mean how much would it cost to buy one. I mean, instead, what is the true value of a Christian Radio station in a community? Let’s take this opportunity to evaluate the situation and see for ourselves.
The best way I know to answer these questions is to examine the outreach and impact of a radio station. If a radio station is not listened to, it has no impact and does no good in the community where it resides. Once, we owned a radio station in a very depressed area in Southeast Alabama. It was a cotton mill town, and the mill had just closed as we took over, putting the majority of the town’s citizens out of work. It was a terrible time. People turned to all kinds of things, but not to our small AM Christian station. So convinced that we didn’t have any listeners, I got on the air one day and told the audience that I had a 100 dollar bill that I would give to the first caller, and nobody called! I decided then and there that we needed to get rid of that station because there was no ministry value there. On the other hand, at our new FM radio station in Tullahoma, Tennessee, we have found the exact opposite. We operated WLYJ via “remote control” from our home in Tupelo, Mississippi for a full year prior to our relocating here. During that time, we have had numerous calls, emails, Facebook messages and the like from listeners! We went off the air once due to technical problems, and the phone lines lit up like a Christmas tree! People are listening to WLYJ! There is a good audience in Coffee County, Tennessee and surrounding areas who love Classic Gospel Music!! We have a wonderful ministry in this area, and fully expect WLYJ to grow and flourish as time goes on.
Perhaps the more pertinent question in our little debate is this: What would be the cost to the community if Joy Christian Radio went off the air? I think that is obvious! I have heard more than once about other Christian stations in the area that went off the air or were sold to others who changed the format to something else. They have told me that the Southern Gospel stations in this area just can’t make enough money to stay on the air. That is a tough place to be in…we’ve been there. I am thrilled to report that Joy Christian Radio is debt free!! WLYJ is completely paid for; the cost we have now is lease on our studio building and operational costs. I can say with a great deal of certainty that WLYJ has a bright future, and I have every reason to believe that God’s people in Tullahoma and surrounding areas will support this station and keep it on the air!!
With that in mind, then we should consider this while we’re at it: How much does it cost to KEEP our Christian Radio station on the air? Other Christian Radio stations have a major budget because they have a full staff and powerful stations that reach major portions of the state. Joy Christian Radio is a small operation with an all volunteer staff (including me). We have had a part time employee from time to time during our 13 year existence, but for the most part, it has been done by volunteers. I can’t begin to tell you how phenomenal that achievement is! I don’t know of any other Christian Radio organization with that track record over 13 years! Most people work to get paid. But, God led us to do this as our labor of love, and that’s exactly what we’re doing. So, to answer the question, it currently takes a mere $2500 per month to operate the Tullahoma operations of Joy Christian Radio! And, once we reach our financial goal of $2500 per month, we believe there will be enough left over to allow us to hire a part time employee without having to raise the monthly budget!
Joy Christian Radio offers “information you and your family can trust” as well as “inspiration for you and the whole family.” That is our motto, and it is our offering to our listeners; wherever they might be. And, God has blessed that stance! So, how much IS a Christian Radio Station worth? I answer that with questions: How can you put a price on a human being who is discouraged and has gotten away from God and His Church, and they “accidentally” tune in our station and ends up listening, only to find their way home to Christ? How can you put a price on the telling of the unmitigated Truth about things that are happening in our society that Joy Christian Radio disseminates to the Body of Christ; especially in the midst of this troubled and heartbroken world in which we live? How can you put a price tag on that day when you or I were discouraged and defeated; that day when the burden of the whole world had crashed down on your shoulders and you just didn’t think you could go another step? But, then, you turned on the radio and heard a song, that Scripture or that thought from the announcer that uplifted your spirit and gave you the courage to keep going! How much is it worth to look into the face of that person who found Jesus on the radio, and to hear them sing His praises in church and watch families be mended?
When God’s Word penetrates the human heart, it brings healing and peace that passes understanding. Joy Christian Radio is being used of God as a vehicle through which the Gospel can find its way into the human heart through the hearing of the Gospel! People will listen to music when they refuse to listen to anything else. It is interesting that all of us will sing along with a familiar song when our hearts are smashed and left in the ditch as dead by the world’s hatred and anger. Maybe now would be a good time to ask another question, “how much profit is there in a dollar given to Joy Christian Radio? The answer to that question is abundantly clear. You cannot put a monetary price tag on the return you will receive on your investment in Joy Christian Radio!! Now, that is what I call an “infinite return” that never stops giving!! A dollar spent on Christian Radio is a powerful investment that will bring more blessings than we could ever enumerate.
At Joy Christian Radio, we have a monumental task ahead of us!! In addition to our monthly operational costs, Joy Christian Radio currently needs a major makeover at our transmitter site here in Tullahoma. We need a new broadcast antenna and transmitter, as ours are on the order of 15 years old, and are beyond the average “life span” of that type of equipment. We are having trouble with the equipment, and are not operating as efficiently as we should be, causing a loss to part of our footprint. This makeover will cost a lot of money. In addition to that, there are other radio stations across the Southeast US that are available to us; one of which we already own, but are about to lose as I write this letter because we simply don’t have the money to put it on the air before the FCC deadline comes and goes later this week. Other radio stations; both AM and FM across the Southeast are also available to us, and even though we could get these facilities for little-or-nothing, it will take makeovers on these facilities in order to get them on the air; again taking a lot of money. I have found myself praying and asking God to give us the money to build these stations, but He keeps telling me the same thing; God wants His people to give if this is to come to pass.
Before us is a golden harvest that needs to be brought in while there is still time. With your prayers and financial support, we will take a whack at that harvest as best we can! The opportunities before us are staggering, but the supporters and laborers are few. The finances are tight; often choking, but God never fails to provide our needs. And, now, we are coming to you asking that you join hand in hand with us as partners in ministry so that we can watch Joy Christian Radio grow and become a powerful voice for the Kingdom of Christ!
My final question for this time is this: Will you pray and ask God to lead you as to what you should do to support Joy Christian Radio? If you are not able to financially support us, please don’t feel guilty. This is not about a guilt trip. In fact, many who are not able to financially support our ministry support us in another way that is actually more valuable than money. They are our prayer warriors! So, will you stand with us today? Join us as we “Build the Foundations” and help us to reach that goal of $2500 per month. And, we would love to have 2500 people praying daily for our ministry, too. Could you just imagine the power of that many people praying for a single ministry? It is mind-blowing! To those who are led of God to financially contribute, remember that your contributions are always tax deductible when you give to Joy Christian Radio. May God richly bless you and yours!
In Our Master’s Joyful Service,
Joy Christian Radio
I don’t mean how much would it cost to buy one. I mean, instead, what is the true value of a Christian Radio station in a community? Let’s take this opportunity to evaluate the situation and see for ourselves.
Joy Christian Radio is off and running at our brand new studios and offices in Tullahoma, Tennessee! On March 21, 2012, Joy Christian Radio began operations at WLYJ-88.5 FM, Tullahoma from our home office (in the garage) in Tupelo, MS. Joy Christian Radio had come through an incredibly tough 2 ½ years in which we thought that, between my poor health, the terrible economy, the stresses of family problems and the stress of taking care of an elderly parent in our home would surely crush our efforts to keep the radio ministry alive. But, in spite of the terrible storms that raged outside, God was at work. He was far from finished with Joy Christian Radio! And, we are here as a result of His handiwork!
On December 21, 2012, my wife, Marie and I began the incredibly difficult task of moving to Tullahoma. Now, you must realize that I’m talking about more than a personal move – I’m talking about relocating an entire radio network operations center, equipment and a warehouse full of things in storage. It took a solid month…we turned in the last trailer rented on January 28, 2013. At that point, the boxes were stacked to the ceiling at home and at the radio station. Much of the radio station equipment was stored in a rented storage unit in Tullahoma. The inside of the radio station building was painted pink. Yes, pink. Now, after seven weeks of back breaking work, Marie and I are glad to announce that we have opened the doors! There is still much work to do, but the office and studios are functional, and we went on the air “Live” this very day! It is the first completely “live” broadcast we’ve been able to do in over three years! It was wonderful, and I am looking forward to doing it again!!
In order for each of you to get a grip on the miracle that accompanies this story, you need some background information. First, I suffer with severe heart problems. In 2006, I nearly died after triple bypass surgery that went badly wrong when a femoral artery was punctured during the bypass procedure. I ended up with three major surgeries instead of one. As a result of the edema (swelling; I gained over 65 pounds in “fluid weight”), damage was done to my hands and feet. Muscular loss was experienced in the back of both hands, and neuropathy on my feet got out of control. I now wear a brace on my right foot, and saw a podiatrist last week who has now prescribed a brace for both feet. Yes, it’s getting worse. I am a severe diabetic (and I am thrilled to report that my A-1C is down to 7.1!! PTL!!), and I suffer from what the doctors called a triglyceride disorder (I can’t begin to pronounce the name of the ailment). And, while in the tough times back in 2010, I had to have an implanted defibrillator put in. That’s another story in itself that I call my “miracle nightmare.” Perhaps I’ll share the details on that sometime. All of this, and Marie and I have been able to move ourselves and the radio network; paint the pink walls blue (Marie did a FABULOUS job painting) and set up the network in time for the Grand Opening this morning at 9:00 AM Central Time. Yes, God is at work for sure.
Originally, we had plans that would have allowed us to move a bit more slowly in our initial fund raising, but, as happens many times, our plans didn’t pan out; so we are forced to become a bit more aggressive. Now, please understand, we will not ever engage in an “eternal share-a-thon,” where we beg for money for week after week after week as some radio stations do. Our pledge is simple when it comes to donated money. We promise to be the best stewards of all that God provides us to the absolute best of our ability. That means that we won’t waste money, spend extravagantly or spend unnecessarily. We didn’t get to the place we are today by spending money unwisely or foolishly. God has blessed us, and He is blessing us today.
With this Grand Opening and Open House notice, I also want to let you know about our “Building the Foundations” program. We have adapted a well known fund raising system that is used by several missions organizations that I have been affiliated with for decades called the “Faith Promise Share” system. We changed it somewhat to fit our needs, but the basic system is the same. I need to say this: Please don’t get the term “share” confused with a Stock Market term. You are not “buying” shares (or anything else) when you pledge your support. A share, as we use the Biblical term, means to our program that we “bear one another’s burdens…” We carry the burden of broadcasting the Gospel and ask that you share in helping us pay the bills. We simply cannot do this alone. A Faith Promise Share (often, we call it simply a “share”) is $20. per month. You can take a “partial share” if you can’t do a full share; or you may take multiple shares if you wish to give more. Also, you are not required to participate in the share program to donate. Please feel free to donate any “one time gift” that you are led to give as you choose to participate. The Faith Promise Share program is merely a tool that allows us to track the pledged income so that we can prepare a budget. If you have questions, please call us at 931.222.1633, and we will strive to answer your questions. You can also use the link to our account at “gofundme.com” that is here on this website, if you wish. There, you can give one time or recurring (your choice) if you are using your credit or debit card.
Thank you for your support of Joy Christian Radio!!! This miracle came to pass because of many friends and loved ones who gave sacrificially through the years and prayed consistently for us! Without your prayers and support, we could not exist. Please visit us when you can (especially during our Open House this week), or call or email if we can be of assistance in any way!
In Our Master’s Joyful Service,
Joy Christian Radio
It’s FINALLY OFFICIAL! Joy Christian Radio was granted the assignment and renewal of WLYJ, Tullahoma, TN, and it has now been consummated!! It is FINALLY ours! We began this LONG journey back in March, and it has taken this long to get the license renewed and assigned to us; but the day is finally here! It’s been a long and joyous journey, and now we look forward to many years of ministry from Tennessee!!
We officially started operating WLYJ under a lease agreement back in March of this year. The previous licensee of the station and our dear friends at American Family Radio were gracious as we worked through the potentially obstacle-laden pathway to the regular cycle of station license renewal with the FCC and the subsequent assignment of license process to get it in our name. The FCC officially granted the license renewal over the summer and the assignment of license to us this past Friday, September 14. We successfully consummated the deal on Monday, September 17, 2012.
That brings us much closer to our goal of restructuring our organization as a result of the poor economy and my declining health. This move will give us stability at the headquarters such as we haven’t had since we started Joy Christian Radio back in 2000. Please join us in prayer that we might be able to sell our final station that is on the market. It is an AM station in Greenwood, MS. Once that sale is accomplished, it will open the door for us financially as we prepare to relocate our headquarters to Tullahoma!! Our desire is to remain as close to debt-free operations as possible as we seek to serve the Lord during these troubled times we live in.
I would like to remind each one who reads this blog or listens to our station or the stream feed from this website that we are a non-profit organization and we depend on the prayers and financial support from friends and people like you who believe in our work and share in its ongoing mission. If you feel led to pray for us, please do so and let us know you are praying! And, should the Lord lead you to support us financially, you can use the PayPal link on this website to use a card or mail a donation to us at PO Box 3, Tullahoma, TN 37388.
Thank you for your prayers and support during this time of transition and new opportunity!!
In Our Master’s Joyful Service, Ed Smith
A satirical look at a too often reality in many churches these days.
So, you don’t like all those pesky new people who visit your church? Well, here are a dozen ways you can get rid of them once and for all, and get your place back in this church that you helped to build.
1. Make first-time guest parking inconvenient by having your family park alongside you at the spaces closest to the door, even if they are marked “handicapped only.” Make the new people park in the back. After all, it is you who have supported this church all these years and you should have the best parking spots.
2. Use grouchy people as greeters. Teach your greeters to meet visitors with a complaint; such as by telling them all that is wrong in the world, or how much the preacher will get on their nerves because he tends to chew on his pen in business meetings, or how long-winded his sermons are. And, be sure to mention that the preacher’s wife has her nose so far up in the air she would drown if it rains. Those kind of things.
3. Pretend that this is a doctor’s office and treat guests like a doctor treats new patients! Ignore the guest for a few minutes. Make them stand and wait until you finish with what you are doing before you acknowledge their presence. Finish that chat with your friends; after all, it would be rude of them to interrupt while you’re talking with someone else. You should always act like the guest has been to your church before and knows what to do and where to go. Post a lot of signs. And best of all, hand them a clipboard and ask them to fill out some lengthy forms!
5. Don’t escort guests to their classrooms or help them discover where their kids will go to Sunday School. Just point in the general direction and send them on their way. After all, you have more important things to do.
6. When parents show up with their snotty nosed kids in tow, put questions in the parents’ minds about the safety and security of their children. You might mention that convicted sex-offender who is now a Sunday School teacher that you heard about once at another church or ask them if they heard about the latest priest or preacher that was arrested for sexually abusing boys. Remind them that this kind of thing could happen anywhere; after all, we are all “sinners saved by grace,” and we are imperfect. Right? I’d go as far as to say that if you do a good job on this one, you could likely ignore the other eleven.
7. Make finding a good seat in the auditorium really hard. Don’t save any seats at the back of the room or on the aisles. Learn to turn your heads away from the door so nobody sees newcomers enter. If you can make a guest come to the front of the room, or crawl over several people to find a seat. That one really works well. And, most importantly, NEVER, EVER give up your designated seat for a guest. After all, this is YOUR church; and these people won’t come back again anyway more than likely.
8. Have guests stand up while everyone else sits … or sit while everyone else stands. I’m not sure which of these two ideas work better. I almost think the practice of having guests stand while the rest of the congregation gawks at them is better if you want to make guests feel unwelcome. Either way, it will make your visitors feel awkward for that moment they are in the spotlight.
9. Randomly call on visiting people to read or pray without asking them in advance. After all, if they really want to be part of this church, they will have to get with the program.
10. Don’t ever take the initiative to great someone yourself if it is not your turn to be a greeter, and when you are asked to be a greeter, do it half-heartedly when greeting visitors. Remember, you opposed the idea of having appointed greeters in the first place because , after all, that is what you pay the preacher for, isn’t it? But, the church elected greeters and you just need to make the best of it. Remember, it’s not your place to be friendly to new people because they just wreck this perfect church that we’ve built with their wild ideas anyway.
11. Gossip is very important in the war on maintaining our standing in this church. So, you should stand around the Welcome Center or the front door and turn it into a place where people can come to hear the latest gossip. After all, “inquiring minds want to know.” Be sure to gossip about things that make the visitors feel uncomfortable.
12. Intimidation is a powerful tool in the war to protect our church from takeover by hostile visitors. Here’s a good idea that’s bound to work. Somewhere along the way, get the visitor into a place where they hear you as you talk to another person in the church who is fighting in this war alongside you. You should call the visitor’s name to your friend in your “private” conversation, being sure the visitor can hear you as you talk. Ask your friend “privately” if they know anything about this person, and if they are known to you already, you could insert some juicy tidbit of gossip about them. Then, when in the presence of the visitor, pretend the conversation never took place. Works every time.
And, we wonder why our churches are dying on the vine and people are going to hell because they hate the organized church. May God open our eyes to what we are doing….and not doing.
You are loved with an everlasting love; and I love you, too.
In Our Master’s Joyful Service, Ed Smith
A sermon by Ed Smith
(inspired by the teachings of Chuck Swindoll)
2 Chronicles 26: 1, 5
1. Then all the people of Judah took Uzziah, who was sixteen years old, and made him king in the room of his father Amaziah.
5. And he sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God: and as long as he sought the Lord, God made him to prosper.
As the reign of Solomon, King of Israel ended, his extremely greedy son, Rehoboam came on the scene in his place. This son was wicked and cruel to his people, so the ten northern tribes (under Jeroboam’s leadership) seceded from the nation, and formed a new nation. The tenth king down the line from Rehoboam was Uzziah (also called Azariah). Uzziah ruled from 792 BC until 739 BC. He took the throne as a teenager, and for many years he sustained an impressive reign. However, while in the zenith of his career, things changed. The results were tragic, both nationally and personally.
Uzziah’s first years were filled with unbelievable success…the last years though, were full of horrible failure….because of sin. The main thing is that “as long as he sought the Lord, God made him to prosper…” But, Uzziah was a narcissist.
I. Uzziah as a youth (2 Chronicles 26:1-5)
A. His beginning (vs. 1a). By unanimous vote of the citizens of the nation of Judah, he was made king at the age of sixteen.
B. (the latter part of verse 1) Amaziah, the father of Uzziah was murdered by his people. The writer of the Chronicles tells his life’s story in a single sentence: “He did right in the sight of the Lord, yet not with a whole heart” Amaziah was a “fence rider” given to compromise and vacillation. He never put his whole heart into his work as king; the same with his relationship with God.
C. Uzziah’s spiritual condition is discussed in versus 4-5. Words reminiscent of his father are recorded: “he did right in the sight of the Lord according to all that his father Amaziah had done” – Like his father, Amaziah, Uzziah’s goodness and service to God was only half-hearted.
II. Uzziah’s accomplishments as King 2 Chronicles 26:6-15 tells us that Uzziah was quite a Statesman. His growing success that began in his youth continued throughout this part of his life. These were good years for the young king. Nationally, he was a prosperous official. Some of his National Accomplishments are listed in versus 6-7 and 9-10) These can be viewed from two perspectives; away from home and at home in Jerusalem.
A. Accomplishments away from Home. (vs. 6-7)
1. he won a decisive victory over Israel’s longtime enemy….Philistia. He broke down the walls of such cities as Gath, Jabneth, and Ashdod.
2. He helped rebuild cities in the region, once those victories had been achieved. He was hailed as a mighty conqueror.
3. With God’s help he successfully fought against the Arabians from Gur-baal (we don’t know the location of this place), and the Meunites (perhaps people of the Edomite Desert, from due south of the Dead Sea.)
B. Accomplishments at Home (vs. 9-10)
1. He fortified Jerusalem against invasion from enemies.
2. He built cisterns and towers in the surrounding regions in conjunction with his livestock operations,
3. He engaged in various farming projects that provided an abundance of food for his people.
C. Accomplishments from a Military perspective. (vs. 11-15)
1. He organized a fine-tuned military machine composed of 2600 officers and 307,500 soldiers.
2. He made provision for their clothing and weapons: shields, spears, helmets, body armor, bows, and slings (no small task in that day and age).
3. He utilized the inventions of his people and manufactured “engines of war” (catapults). These were placed on the walls of Jerusalem to shoot arrows and large stones at advancing armies attempting to overtake the city.
D. Personal Accomplishments:
1. Uzziah gained personal fame and was well known in his kingdom and beyond. (vs. 8 and 15b).
a. The Ammonites to the East gave tribute to Uzziah. People as far away as Egypt did the same.
b. His power base spread substantially beyond his own borders.
c. The source of his might must be remembered during these years, however….”God prospered Him (v. 5). God helped him (v. 7).
2. Looking at the surface of his kingdom, Uzziah had it all. His neighbors, the Ammonites praised him. Just the same, Uzziah apparently began feeding upon such accolades….forgetting from whence his strength came. The writer of Chronicles says it this way: “He was marvelously helped until he was strong. (vs. 15b).
Unfortunately for Uzziah, he did not remain humble. He became arrogant and his half-heartedness began to mark his daily actions. This change in character marked a turning point in the life of Uzziah. He had become strong in his own eyes and in his own strength…until pride (the beginnings of narcissism) took over his life.
III. Uzziah rebelled against God. (2 Chronicles 26:16-18) His life began to demonstrate things that resulted from his rebellion both inwardly and outwardly.
A. Inwardly, he became PRIDEFUL. The Chronicles report “but when he became strong, his heart was so proud that he acted corruptly, and he was unfaithful to the Lord his God….” This was Uzziah’s big step away from his God. This step took place within the privacy of his heart, and it came after a slow erosion of the bedrock that had once been his to enjoy. This is the sign that the prideful king had begun to fall helplessly in love with himself. In short, Uzziah became a narcissist.
B. Outwardly, CORRUPTION became a way of life. (vs. 16b – 18)
1. He crossed boundaries which even a king had no privilege to violate.
2. He went into the temple to perform the service reserved only for a priest — he went in to burn incense at the altar of incense.
3. He was confronted by Azariah the priest, and 80 of his associates who told the king to get out….(vs. 18).
4. Uzziah had his eyes on himself, and arrogantly ignored his limitations.
IV. Uzziah paid the ultimate price for his rebellion an disobedience to God. (2 Chronicles 26:19 – 23)
A. When confronted, Uzziah responded with rage. He was clearly out of order, but refused to acknowledge that fact.
B. While as yet the censer for burning incense was still in his hand, leprosy broke out across his forehead……
God had smitten the once powerful and popular king in reproof for his evil deeds. This man, once mammoth in the eyes of all those who loved and respected him, became a shivering, obscure, forgotten leper. He went too far….
Uzziah fell because of inward pride that led to sin and ultimately defeat. God commands us over and over in Scripture to “humble ourselves.” The famous inventor Samuel Morse was once asked if he ever encountered situations where he didn’t know what to do. Morse responded, “More than once, and whenever I could not see my way clearly, I knelt down and prayed to God for light and understanding.” Morse received many honors from his invention of the telegraph but felt undeserving of them: “I have made a valuable application of electricity not because I was superior to other men but solely because God, who meant it for mankind, must reveal it to someone and He was pleased to reveal it to me.”
Lessons for those of those of us who are now, or will become successful in your lifetime….
1. There is absolutely no Genuine Success is possible apart from God.
2. There are few tests like the one success, power or wealth brings.
3. The Lord who blesses us with success is also able to bring down the proud, arrogant person who disregards His teachings and plan for their life.
Narcissus was the handsome youth in classical mythology that beheld his own reflection in a pond and fell helplessly in love with himself. Because he was so self-absorbed, he became unable to tear himself away from the image of his beautiful reflection, and he wasted away and died at that very spot. His own self-absorption led to his destruction, and the coining of the word we know as narcissism.
Narcissism permeates our society today. Many people are wasting away spiritually, emotionally and physically because of the self-absorbed lifestyle of a narcissist. Our ability to maintain a healthy attitude of ourselves is tied up with the reckoning of who we really and truly are…and are not in Christ. “Without Him, I could do nothing,” the old song says. We are nothing apart from Christ. We accomplish nothing without His blessing. We wouldn’t even be here, except that God created us and gave to us life and life more abundantly through Jesus Christ. Jesus died to pay our legal penalty for sin in order to secure our forgiveness but He also died so that we could be delivered from the power of selfishness and narcissism. He rose from the dead representing the proto-type of a new human race, fixating on glorifying God, and serving others and maintaining a healthy knowledge of who we are in Christ. He endows those who put the full weight of their trust on Him with a new nature – a new life in the Spirit.
True success is more than a satisfactory completion of goals. Our freedom in Christ along with our divinely purposed destiny as human beings and Christians is found in the escape from that which keeps us enslaved by self-interest, self-aggrandizement and self absorption. The absence of narcissism plus the presence of Christ as our Savior is the definition of a healthy and joyful heart.
On Tuesday, August 14, 2012, my hero, my earthly father, Edward David Smith was laid to rest. I had the incredible honor of officiating his funeral service. By request, I am posting my funeral message. This is an edited version of the sermon I preached that day.
The first two verses of the Book of Hebrews chapter 12 contain an incredible description of our lives here on the earth, considering them as though it was a race that we are running. The race the writer of Hebrews is referring to is a race that is somewhat different from our earthly competition-type races, in that he refers to the earthly race that began the minute you and I were born. The finish line for this race is crossed the minute we die. The rules of this life-race are different in many ways compared to our competitive earthly races. For example, in our life-race, we are not in competition to see who gets across the finish line first; and it doesn’t matter who the best trained or most qualified. Another difference is that we are instructed to help others along the way who stumble or fall instead of taking advantage of the situation in order to get ahead of them. The only important thing about this race is whether we will run it faithfully or just drop out. You see, the only losers in this race are the ones who refuse to accept the baton and carry it along with us. Christ is the baton I refer to and living our lives faithfully to Him is the way we run the race.
Dad chose to run his race faithfully. Although his words were often few, his example in deed spoke for itself. While Dad was anything but perfect, he remained faithful until the end. And, when he failed, he didn’t sit on the ground pouting. He got up, dusted off his knees and started to run again. He didn’t cheat either. I can honestly say that Dad finished his race well.
William Shakespeare said, “When a father gives to his son, they both laugh; when a son gives to his father, they both cry.” It wasn’t until I came so close to death in 2006 as my family gave sacrificially to care for me as if a newborn babe that I began to understand what Shakespeare meant by that. These past 4 years and 8 months of caring for Dad during his last days brought with them a lot of laughter and many, many tears along the way.
Dad has always been my hero. He taught by example, and he lived what he believed. He made a difference when it mattered the most. And, I have learned so much from his faithful example. I watched him smile when he was hurting and didn’t feel like smiling. I watched him keep going when many others just quit and didn’t care any more. Dad didn’t know the meaning of the word “quit.” Others around him continually told me how his quiet presence at church or other functions was an incredible blessing to them because they knew he was deaf and that he really didn’t feel like being there that day; but he came anyway and he worshipped God without complaining or bemoaning his circumstances.
I’ve been preaching and ministering on Christian Radio for well over 36 years, and Dad often told me that he would give anything to hear my voice; yet he never heard it one time since I was about 3 years old. As Dad left us for Heaven this past Sunday just after 6:20AM, I looked at the family gathered around his bedside at our home as he took his final breath. I said, “that’s it. I think he’s gone.” Immediately, Marie responded with tears welling up in her eyes, “He can hear!! And his back doesn’t hurt any more!” We all shed tears of joy for Dad because we knew that was the first words he had heard Marie or me say! I think that Dad may well be listening in on this funeral service today, so I want to say those words that he could not hear me say during his lifetime, “Dad, I love you dearly. And, I want you to know how much you impacted my life. Now, go and rest in Christ. I’ll see you soon.”
Danny, you and I are the only two people in the world who are blessed to have been able to call him “Dad.” Plus, there are 4 grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren (plus their families) who have been blessed to be able to call him PawPaw. But, no matter what title you addressed him by, be it friend, co-worker, neighbor or family; you knew that he was a man of integrity and honor. I think that it would be fair to say that each of us who knew him, whether we are his family, extended family, friend or acquaintance could all say that Dad influenced our lives in a positive way by the example he set before us. Dad thought it was better to live by example than by words alone. And, he was right. Actions always speak louder than words, and he knew that well.
Over the past few months as Dad’s health declined, Marie had become his nurse and primary health care provider. Sweetheart, you already know that Dad loved you as though you were his own flesh and blood. I’m not sure he could have loved you more if you had been his own daughter. People everywhere were shocked to learn that you were his daughter-in-law because you took such good care of him. He genuinely appreciated everything you did for him, and so do I, sweetheart. Marie, you are an incredible blessing to our family, and I couldn’t love you more.
Of course, we have been reminiscing a lot over the past couple of days, and I am blessed to have some precious memories that will go with me the rest of my life. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of Dad playing with Danny and me outside in the summertime. It was always a struggle for our parents to get by in those days, so money was never plenteous at our house. But, our creative Dad always came through. One time, he took some old lawnmower wheels, some junk and scraps of wood that he had picked up somewhere and built us a soapbox derby “car.” It was a wooden box on wheels complete with a rope “steering wheel” and a crossbar to put our feet on. We would push with our feet and pull on the rope to turn that contraption. If you measured whether we liked it or not by how much we played with it, you’d have thought that crazy thing had leather bucket seats and plush carpet on the floor. We would get on that thing and go screaming down the hill at our house and run off the end of the driveway and down the bank; then drag that thing back up the hill and do it all over again. I’ll never forget the way he smiled as he watched his kids at play….and then we’d watch Dad climb on it with us and ride down the hill, and we’d scream all the way down. Years later, Dad built another “improved model” for his grandkids; and once again smiled as he watched his kids scream down that hill.
And, Dad loved our mother, too. I was told many years ago that he said of her that if he could marry that Caldwell girl, he would have everything any man could ever want in life. And, marry her he did…and there is no doubt that he loved her. I remember how she always wanted to live in a brick house, but they couldn’t afford to move, so they compromised and decided that Dad would brick our house. Dad didn’t know the first thing about brick masonry, but he saved up his money and bought some bricks and mortar and a few crude tools and did it anyway. During the long months that followed, he worked patiently as brick by brick he wrapped that house with love and determination to do his absolute best work possible. Often, he would spend more time tearing down something he didn’t like than actually getting the job done; but after a very long time and a boat-load of patience, he finally finished it. I remember another time that Mother wanted a rock fireplace, so he went into the hills and came back with pick-up load after pick-up load of rocks that he piled up in the yard and sat there with a mason’s hammer breaking them in half; in search of the rocks he wanted until he perfected his collection and built a rock wall that housed a fireplace. It was not experienced or qualified hands that built that house; it was Dad’s love for his family that built it.
Many years ago, a relative asked me what it was like to live with a father who was handicapped. I responded by saying, “I wouldn’t know. My Dad is not handicapped.” You see, Dad was deaf, but he was not handicapped. He made the best of whatever situation he was in and became an over-comer.
Dad’s influence reached deeply into my family. The result is a life-long impact that will outlive him by at least another generation. Dad leaves behind several “name sakes” in the family. Our oldest son, David is here today, along with his family. David was the first to be named after Dad. And, our David brought his son today, and his name is “Isaiah David.” Our second son, Vern is here, along with his son, Aaron David. So, you can plainly see that Dad made a lasting impact on our family. If you are here today and have any doubt that Dad loved everyone in this family, please let me assure you today that your doubts are misplaced. There is no doubt that PawPaw loved his family….each and every one of you. One by one, Dad asked to see each of his family as he prepared for his own death. The day we told Dad that he was not going to get better and the doctors had done all they could do for him, he just patted Marie on the arm and smiled. And he continually told us how much it meant to him that everyone came to visit with him. He went to church two weeks to the day before he passed away. He never quit, and he finished his race well.
I mentioned earlier the great life-race that we are in that is recorded for us in Hebrews Chapter 12, the first two verses. Let’s look at those verses for just a moment.
“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance (patience) the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Who are those witnesses? Perhaps the best way to answer that question is to ask another one: Who is not in that crowd?
1) Those people are not in the cloud of witnesses.
a. Those who are in hell. The parable of the rich man and Lazarus gives this bit of information.
i. Those in hell see what is going on earth but are powerless to do anything about it or to communicate with their loved ones on earth.
ii. Those in hell are in torment themselves and are quite preoccupied with their own suffering.
iii. God refused to hear their request to send someone back to their loved ones who are still behind on the earth.
b. Those on earth are not in the cloud of witnesses. They are in the race themselves, so they cannot be a spectator or witness to something they are involved in. They have limited sight as to the track compared to a spectator who is in the stands with a full view of the track and the runners.
2) Those who are likely in the crowd of witnesses.
a. Angels. God’s messengers have always been cheerleaders among humans.
b. Those who are already in heaven.
c. Those in Heaven who have an interest in each of us specifically. I believe that our friends and relatives in Heaven are watching each of us as we run this race just as we might pick out a favorite athlete to cheer them on as they run a race in the Olympics. I can see them leaning over the banister rails in Heaven watching us run our race, and hear them as they shout encouragement to each of us along the way. So, from now on, when I get discouraged or depressed, I’ll think of my dear old Dad and listen closely to hear him as he cheers me on, then I’ll be aware that he falls to his knees asking God to bless me and deliver me from the things that would ensnare me in their trap as I run my race. Dad is now a cheerleader in Heaven, and he is cheering for each and every one of us this very minute.
So, Dad has finished his earthly race, but his legacy and his example lives on. He has joined that chorus who is cheering us onward and he is now praying directly to God the Father on our behalf. He can hear!! And, his degenerative discs in his back are healed! He is singing loudly in the Heavenly choir, and I can almost see a tear in his eye as he watches us even now. Right now, he is resting high on that mountain with his Savior, as the song says. I remember catching Dad trying to sing that song along with Vince Gill with tears in his eyes a few years ago. I believe that if Dad could come back to this place just for a few minutes right now and address each of us, he would tell us to live honestly and faithfully before God, to love our families and most importantly, to love God with all of our heart, with all our soul and with all of our might. This next song that we’re about to play is one Dad asked me to play today. So, Dad, this is your requested song, and it is dedicated to you. I miss you, Dad! But I know I’ll see you again someday soon.
Remember that you are loved with an everlasting love. The Love of Christ. And, I love each of you as well.
I have had the privilege to serve our Lord in Ministry these past 36 years as of July 24, 2012. On that date so many years ago, I stood from the altar and proclaimed to the attendees at Georgia Camp in Butler, GA that God had called me to preach and to work in Christian Radio. It has been a wonderful 36 years, and I have had many experiences along the way….some really good, some not so good and some terrible experiences as well. The gamut of emotions runs from deep sorrow to ecstatic joy beyond words, and about everything in between. The truth is that I wouldn’t trade these 36 years in ministry for any other career on planet Earth. Although it has been heart-wrenching at times, the joy that my work brings makes it worth it all. I can honestly say that serving our Lord in His ministry has been and continues to be the most satisfying career I could have ever undertaken in my lifetime.
Through the years, I have shared some of my more harrowing tales with folks along the way, and I often get the same response. “Why don’t you write about those things?” I’ve been encouraged to write a book more than once, and I just might do that if the Lord allows me to. But, for now, I’ll blog about some of my experiences as a pastor, preacher, counselor, teacher, camp chairman, toilet scrubber and Christian Radio Broadcaster for the past 36 years.
I suppose the best place to start is at the beginning. The first job I ever held in Christian Radio was in the mid-1970’s at WJXN in Jackson, MS. The station was located near the Bible College where I was enrolled as a student. The radio station was owned by a gentleman who has been a lifelong friend all these years. His name is Rodger Earl Ownby, and I still communicate with him from time to time. At that time, the radio station had adopted “The Colonel, your Gospel Station” as its logo. It was one of the first Southern Gospel radio stations in the area. On my very first day there, I was introduced to another young man who has also become a life-long friend, Jeff Steele. Jeff went on to form a Gospel Group by his family name, The Steeles. He was single then, as was I. We had some really good times working at The Colonel. A person with a calling from God such as mine could not help but to fall in love with radio ministry working beside men like Jeff Steele and Rodger Earl Ownby. Their love for Christian broadcasting and their passion to tell others the Good News of Jesus Christ through radio broadcasting impacted me deeply during those days, and it has been an encouragement many times as I remember the days we had together so many years ago at The Colonel.
One interesting event that happened to me while on the air at The Colonel had to do with the newscast that ran at the top of every hour. In those days, we ran “Mutual News,” a news service company that is now defunct. Mutual News was not a Christian News service; there was no such thing in the mid 1970’s. And, it was a commercial news service meaning that they ran commercials embedded in the newscasts. As it happened, Mutual News had a run of Michelob beer advertising for a time. I came into work the first evening the Michelob spots ran on my shift to discover a large note on the window in front of the operator’s table that read, “DO NOT RUN MICHELOB SPOTS!!! READ THE SCHEDULE!!” We were instructed to “cover” the Michelob spots with something from our local advertising library and then rejoin the news after the commercial played silently in the background. One hour in particular, there was no Michelob spot scheduled to run during that newscast. I had left the operator’s console to go into the next room to rip the weather forecast off the teletype machine (now, there is a real antique!). While standing there reading over the weather forecast, the spot break inside the newscast started. I recognized the jingle. It was Michelob!! I darted back into the control room and dove over the operator’s chair to open the mic and interrupt the Michelob spot (that had already started playing) and did the “ad lib” job of my life. On the air, it sounded something like this, “(Michelob jingle plays) ‘Weekends were made for…’ ‘going to church!! There will be a revival at….’” I filled an entire 60 second commercial with church news….Whew! That was close. Actually, I had that mountain of inspiration from Jeff Steele, who had a similar experience during the day prior to me that evening. Thanks Jeff for saving my neck!!
The long hours at the radio station sometimes got monotonous, and tedious. But, it was always worth it when someone would call in to tell me that the song I’d just played had really been a blessing to them. It was that kind of response that kept me going all these years! There were many more, and I’ll share some of those in a future blog, the Lord willing.
Remember that you are loved with an everlasting love! And, I love you, too!
In Our Master’s Joyful Service,
The human inclination, when faced with a trial or really bad situation is to turn the other way; even to run away. We hope to escape from the clutches of the evil that lurks in front of us.
The Bible tells us 365 times “do not fear!” And, when the Bible repeats something, it does so for emphasis. I would think that God has clearly spelled His message to us when faced with trials! DO NOT FEAR!!
Did you know that our own fear and the bad reactions we often have to trials and troubles often causes much more damage to our lives than the trials themselves? You see, God has given us trials to purify us, not to burn us up! He wants us to be pure as the purest Gold, and trials are one way He puts us through the fire.
Trials are a fact of life on planet Earth. Trials destroy the dross and impurities that live inside us, leaving the purest possible substance behind. Trials refine us as gold tried in the fire. The end result is that we become mature Christians, purified and set apart for service to God and to our fellow man who is lost and in need of the touch of the Master. Today, we will consider 7 areas where trials affect our lives, and consider how each one can help us to become more like Christ.
a. The Trial of Love. The first thing trials do is to reveal who or what we love most in our lives, and help us to get our priorities straight. The Lord wants us to love Him more than anybody else or anything else, but sometimes we get that out of order. The depth of our love to God is revealed during the seasons of trials. The Lord also wants us to love our fellow men; and that includes loving our enemies. The end result is that trials and tribulations purify and strengthen our love towards God and our fellowmen.
b. The Trial of Faith. Trials and tribulations test our faith. Faith that has not been put to the test is weak and untried, but faith that has been through the fire is strong and more impervious to attack. However, the inevitable question comes up during a trial; do we believe the things we say in church about God enough to hold onto them in the midst of pain and suffering? Do we believe in the promises of God even when everything looks impossible? Do we still trust in God even if He chooses not deliver us from the bad situation we’re in? Do we trust in God even when we do not understand His ways and workings in our lives? The depth of our faith in God is tested during trials and causes our faith to grow!
c. The Trial of Obedience. Trials and tribulations are a test of our obedience to God. Are we willing to obey God even when He commands us to do what we do not like or what we wish to avoid? The Lord teaches us obedience by leading us through the path of trials and tribulations. The Bible says that to obey is better than sacrifice. Learning to obey God even during the most difficult of trials builds character and helps to purify us before God.
d. The Trial of Sacrifice. Have you ever offered something that you called a sacrifice that came to you with no effort on your part? Often, false sacrifices are given to God in place of the real thing. These are dross and burn up in the purifying fire of trials. The question is; are we willing to sacrifice everything for the Lord? Are we clinging to the possessions and treasures of this world? “I am crucified with Christ, yet not I, but Christ within me…” The Lord sacrificed everything for us. Have you given Him your life?
e. The Trial of our Humility. Cocky, arrogant and selfish attitudes are dross and burn up in the fire of trials. Trials and tribulations will reveal such attitudes and help us to humble ourselves before the Lord. The Lord wants us to have the mind of Christ who humbled Himself to take the form of a slave and became obedient even to the death of the cross. Humility brings honor. God hates a proud heart. So, trials are a test of our level of humility and act as a guide to help us to humble ourselves before the Lord.
f. The Trial of our Endurance. Trials and tribulations produce endurance or perseverance. How easy is it to serve God when things are going well? And, it is all too easy and frequent that we quit when things get tough. How much are we willing to endure for the Cause of Christ? Endurance is a sign of a champion, and God wants to make a champion for Christ out of you. Will we endure till the end? Trials will help you to grow strong in your endurance in the race we all find ourselves in.
g. The Trial of our Patience. Trials produce patience. Always. The Lord has perfect timing for fulfilling His plans and purposes, but often we try to get ahead of Him and are very impatient. I love the story that was told on the Christian Movie “Facing the Giants,” when the old janitor shares this account with the coach. “Two farmers were in the midst of a drought. Both prayed for rain. But, only one prepared his fields to receive it. Which was more faithful? The coach said the one who prepared his fields. His advice was that God will send His rain when He is ready. Our job is to prepare our fields to receive the rain. That takes patience, and God will give it to you if you ask for it. And, in spite of what you may have been told, praying for patience is a GOOD thing.
A bad reaction to trials can cause us to avoid the fire sometimes, but it will also help us to miss the blessing from the process.
A friend of mine awoke one morning to find a puddle of water in the middle of his king-size water bed. In order to fix the puncture, he rolled the heavy mattress outdoors and filled it with more water so he could locate the leak more easily. The enormous bag of water was impossible to control and began rolling on the hilly terrain. He tried to hold it back, but it headed downhill and landed in a clump of bushes which poked it full of holes. Disgusted, my friend threw out the water-bed frame and moved a standard bed into his room. The next morning, he awoke to find a puddle of water in the middle of the new bed. The upstairs bathroom had a leaky drain.
So, you see, trials are good things. If endured until the end, God will make all our trials blessings for us.
A number of years ago, the McKamey’s recorded a song written by Calvin Clark that thrills my heart every time I hear it. I pray these lyrics cause you to go through your trials with joy in your heart! Here are the lyrics to “God will make this trial a blessing”
“I’ve just come into a valley one like I’ve never been before.
I keep searching for a way out seems like padlocks are on the doors.
Oh there must be another sunrise another sunset that I’ll see.
God will make this trial a blessing that’s the love he has for me.
I was not the first one to come into this place.
You see every child of God this test he must face.
It is here that God will mold you and make you what you ought to be.
God will make this trial a blessing just be patient you will see.
Now I’m standing on a mountain looking back I can see.
When I was in that lowest valley his strong hand was leading me.
Oh its good to see the sunshine and to taste sweet victory.
God has made this trial a blessing oh the grace he gives to me.
God will make this trial a blessing though it sends me to my knees.
Though my tears flow like a river yet in him there’s sweet relief.
There’s no need to get discouraged there’s no need to talk defeat.
God will make this trial a blessing and the whole wide world will see.”
I pray that God Makes Your Trials Blessings, so that the whole world can see! You are loved with an everlasting love! And, I love you, too.
In Our Master’s Joyful Service,
“Jesus’ declared, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). “These days, that statement is highly controversial because it strikes at the core of three great myths about religion,” declared Dr. Lee Strobel in a sermon on the topic. The three “great myths” he mentioned are:
1) All religions are basically the same.
2) Although different, Christianity is one philosophy among many.
3) Jesus isn’t the only way to heaven.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am here today to proclaim to you that Jesus Christ is either exactly who He says He is or He is the biggest fraud known to mankind! And, I assure you that He is EXACTLY who He says He is!! He is not just a “good man” or just one in a line of Prophets of God. He is not simply a good teacher who went around teaching about God’s Love. Jesus Christ is the ONE AND ONLY Begotten Son of God! He is God incarnate in the flesh; born of a Virgin, raised by a Carpenter, baptized by John the Baptizer, He performed actual miracles in front of countless witnesses and was Crucified, Buried and Arose on the third Day to provide the plan of Salvation for “whosoever will” accept Him and follow Him!
As an occasional news anchor for a national Christian radio network (American Family Radio) and the General Manager of Joy Christian Radio, I frequently “bump” into others who declare that Christianity is all mythology. I am amazed how atheists and agnostics are “in our face,” boldly proclaiming their message that is filled with lies and human reasoning that leads so many people astray. They are suing townships all across America that dare to have public displays of anything Christian. They are fighting and intimidating public schools that allow Valedictorians or Salutatorians at graduation to mention God or to lead the audience in prayer. They are standing in opposition to the celebration of Christmas and the Resurrection of Christ at Easter. They are dwelling on Christian blogs and Christian news websites filling them with nasty and angry diatribes against Christianity, declaring the stupidity of anyone who dares believe that “stuff” that is proclaimed.
I encourage you today to put off any false religion that you might be involved in and accept the ONE TRUE GOD, Jehovah God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and His Son, Jesus Christ, our Risen Lord! Jesus Christ is no myth. He is no fable. He is no human concoction. He is our God and our Savior. I pray you accept Him today. Further, I pray that Christians everywhere could become energized in our passion to tell others the TRUTH about Jesus Christ! It is up to us to spread His Word by design of our Heavenly Father. He could have chosen a different way to tell others, but He wants us to do it! So, I encourage you to share the Love of Christ with someone you know who is lost and on the way to an eternal Hell. It is a real place, but God had another real place awaiting us as we spend eternity with Him….but Heaven is reserved for those who accept Christ as Savior and follow Him! Tell someone about Him today!!
You are loved with an everlasting love! And, I love you, too.
In Our Master’s Joyful Service,
When I was in charge of a summer camp years ago, we had a camper who arrived with a severe case of head lice. It was so bad, we had to call off evening service for the first time in camp history because other campers were getting it! The yuppy kids got lice! It was awful! That evening, we had a “borinating” experience with the kids in swim wear and hoses outside with lice shampoo. Bed linens, towels, clothes, etc. had to be washed in hot water. About 9PM, the campers depression level was at a fever pitch, and the adults were worse than that. Several groups told me they were going home the next morning.
I took a walk in the woods, kicking the trees and crying out to God; asking “why?” After all the work we put into preparation for the camp! After all the sacrifice I’d made just to be there with a job where the boss didn’t want to let me off and I wasn’t entirely certain that I would have a job when I got home but considered camp more important! As I prayed, I am convinced that God spoke to me…not audibly, but clearly nonetheless. He said two words. “Bury it.”
I ran back to the campground and met with the group of Wesley College students, the camp evangelist and song leader at my cabin. I had a plan, and God had given it to me! We called for a meeting and everybody came to the open-air tabernacle around 9:30. My plan was to actually conduct a “funeral” for the lice. Using a “cherry RC Cola” can as a coffin, the college group and I conducted this “laugh out loud” farce as the college kids wailed and boo-hooed for their long lost “uncle louse.” People were laughing so hard the tears were flowing down their faces. Then, I did something I’d never done and have not repeated to this very day. I told the preacher what to preach that evening. Yes, I gave the sermon topic to the evangelist and told him to run with it. The sermon? “How Lucifer louses up your life.” Wow! It was absolutely phenomenal! He preached like I’ve never heard him preach in my entire life! God came down and visited us there that night. 28 kids got saved and the altars were full. Our impromptu service ended around 1:30AM. Lives were changed and people accepted God’s challenge to them to service for Him that week. Nobody left the camp, and it turned out to be one of the best camps I’d ever attended.
The point today is that we never know what a simple act of obedience can do. In the face of insurmountable odds, obedience instead of abandonment always triumphs. If God be for us, who can be against us? Obedience is better than sacrifice, the Scriptures tell us.
Perhaps you are facing a huge obstacle in your life, your family or maybe your ministry. God knows all about it. Just listen to the still, small voice of God and obey it; even if you think it is “out in left field.” He always knows what He is doing, and He will bless your faithfulness. Never forget that.
You are loved with an everlasting Love; the Love of Christ. And, I love you, too.
In The Master’s Joyful Service,