Each Easter Sunday, it is our custom here at Christ Coastal to celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord with a sunrise service on the beach. The service begins with a large bonfire in the dark and just as the sun comes up, we begin singing. Following the singing, there is a preaching on the reason for Christ’s death on the cross, His victory there, and then His triumphant rising from the dead. The large ten foot by five foot cross is very prominent in the event. We have refreshments afterwards, and we get to meet a lot of the unchurched locals and tourists.
Last year we were gathering all the materials, including the firewood and the cross on Saturday just before that Resurrection day. There was a small hut which sheltered the wood to be used the next morning, and the cross was placed on the ground next to the fire wood, to be easily arranged the next morning in the dark.
The next morning, I got there early to begin stacking the wood to start the fire, and the cross was missing. We looked everywhere. There was no time to make another one, so we had the service without a cross. It was all very curious: did the enemy want to upset the plans of making the cross the visible symbol of why we would gather there on the beach? Was it some neighborhood kids pulling a prank?
After the service was over someone approached me and said, “We know what happened to your cross. Two little boys about seven or eight years old were seen lugging that big thing up our street yesterday afternoon. What was curious was we heard one of the kids complaining to the other one about how heavy it was, and the other one said, ‘Well, he carried the cross for us, the least we can do is carry this one for him.’ Oh, by the way, the two boys came from that house over there and the cross is up on their deck, abut the sixth house on our street.”
Then, the owner of the facility where we have our beach service (801 Ocean, on Oak Island) came out to the fire and talked to a man who was watching the fire. He introduced himself, “Hi, I’m Ed Burnett. We’re glad you were here today.” The young man Adam replied that he was the father of one of the boys, and uncle of the other one, who borrowed the cross.
He went on, “The two boys were concerned for their grandfather who is up at the house in bed, in hospice care. They had seen the cross lying there and figured nobody needed it, so they wanted to give their grandfather some hope while he lay in that bed. They set up the cross so that my father-in-law could look out his bedroom window and be cheered by that cross. They sure didn’t mean to be doing anything wrong.”
Ed assured the man that there could not have been a better use for that cross, and then he went and got me. I got to meet the man there by the fire, and I was given permission to go see the grandfather. The Lord graciously gave us a ministry to that whole family! The older gentleman was a believer, and he died in Christ shortly after we began visiting him.
The cross is back in use at the bonfire–this past Resurrection Day celebration on the beach was complete, with a well used cross. And all that family was there to celebrate with us!
One island local quietly said, “I get it now. That cross and the resurrection. Now i see my hope like I’ve never seen it before.” How thankful we all can be for the Word preached about the “emblem of suffering and shame,” and that glorious resurrection of our Lord!
My wife’s Mama was ‘promoted’ on June 15, at 6:15 am. The overriding joy for her freedom is not only comforting, but stabilizing for all of us. I will never forget an interview she had with Joni Erickson Tada, many years ago when Val and I lived in the cane fields on the Bayou Teche in southwest Louisiana. Both ladies were brimming over with excitement as they talked about what heaven will be like. She knows now–completely. Hallelujah!
Happy Mom’s Day to all the moms!
I trust all our people are well–and no damage was sustained in this first of-the-season tropical storm. I felt awfully wimpy calling off church–all our five leaders were supportive of the call. And it’s till going to be gusting and raining til this afternoon. As I called around I’m giving thanks that no one is hurt or has any report of too much damage to their property. I was kinda holding my breath about the Burkhart’s farm, though.
If you saw the State Port Pilot on Thursday you may have noted that I was to preach on this mother’s day, a sermon entitled, “Sympathy for Jezebel.” Please, I know that would make for an awkward moment or two. But I need to explain a couple of things:
1) I am not in favor of Jezebel, especially the one who was wife of King Ahab.
2) I am not trying to emulate the Rolling Stones song, “Sympathy for the Devil.”
3) I am not suggesting that Jezebel be commended, or in any way be the model for young women any where–not even Brunswick County.
4) I am certainly not trying to make her a model for Moms on this Mother’s Day or any other day, for that matter.
5) And, last but not least, I haven’t lost my mind—at least not yet!
What was i trying to do? Well, you know that I was testing to see if anybody reads the Pilot sermon lists. And, I am giving some background on the sermon series I am beginning on two prophets Elijah and Elisha, who were God’s voice calling the nation of israel back to trusting in the Lord. It’s not a bad idea for our study in this day and age, is it? But if you will find the time this week, read IKings, starting in chapter 12 to get some back ground for our sermon series, as we see how powerfully Jezebel features in that dark history in luring God’s people from the Faith. She doesn’t just seduce the people of God, she yanks them around, and hard! And look for Christ in those passages–we cannot leave Him out of our study of the Old Testament–ever!
May He keep on blessing us all, to be His blessing to a whole lot of folks who live down in this part of Brunswick County.
We’ve just been informed that our meeting site/facility is under contract to be sold. We are scrambling now to find a place. Would you pray that our “scramble” takes on a more manly response, as in an orderly, prayerful search?
Another couple Dirk and Shirley have two book clubs in their home–one night is a Men’s Book Club, and on another night there’s a Women’s Book Club. The membership is all unchurched, and they are extremely loyal to their groups.
Praise the Lord with us as we continue to thank Him for our Sunrise Resurrection service on the beach, at the 801 Ocean facility on Oak Island. All in all probably 75 unchurched were there with us. Early that morning around five, I was down at the beach setting up with a couple of our guys, making a big bond fire, and planting a large cross fashioned for the occasion. We could not find the cross any where. So we had the service without the cross, much to my befuddlement. I like to point at a cross while preaching on the cross. One of our entrepreneurs fashioned a cross out of the big pieces of the firewood, and it sufficed.
After the service and during the meet and greet going on with coffee and danish, a couple came up to me and said, “We know where your cross is.”
And here’s their story: “On Saturday two little boys about 8 and 9, were seen carrying this huge cross up our street. We heard one of them say to the other, ‘Well, He carried the cross for us, and so we can carry the cross for Him.’ ” it seemed mystery to the couple, as well.
I did not know what to say then, but just as i began asking them about themselves, a man came up to me and pointed out a man by the fire, and said, “That’s the father of the two boys who stole our cross.”
Well, it turns out that the two boys have a grandfather who is dying in his home with hospice care, and the boys thought the cross would do him a world of good up there at the house. To make a long story short, we have engaged in a little ministry with that household since that Easter morning. The elderly gentleman loves that cross–he can see it out his bedroom window. And that cross is serving a much better purpose than I had planned!
I do want to thank folks for praying with us. I have buried my Mama since the last prayer note went out, for which we thank the Lord. We know where she is! Halelujah!
Was it two or three weeks after the resurrection of our Lord, when He had breakfast with them on the beach? Peter, also loved by the Lord is restored and commissioned by Him, and when asked about the other disciple John, he is treated brusquely by His master. Shepard’s message, “And So, What’s It to You?” brings home the application to us all.
As we close in on Holy Week soon the sacrament of Communion is observed with this thought from pastor Shepard: “How Does God Reconcile Proverbs 17:15 and Romans 4:5–How can He Justify the Wicked?” How can a guy like me get away with a free pass? It is the scandalous and wonderful message of Christ–and this Sunday it’s your turn to preach, as we participate at the table together!
Prayer–is it just a ‘religious activity’ we are supposed to be about, or is it something else? Shepard’s sermon from St. James 5:16 is ‘Effective and Powerful Prayer–Who Is Righteous to Pray that Way?
From the 20th chapter of Acts, we are provided the apostolic model for badly needed pastoring. Shepard will bring the message, “The Long Good-Bye.”
He has commanded his covenant forever.
The Lord’s people delight in the covenant itself. It is an unfailing source of comfort to them as often as the Holy Spirit leads them into the banqueting house and waves the banner of love. They delight to contemplate the antiquity of that covenant, remembering that before the daystar knew its place or planets ran their course, the interests of the saints were made secure in Christ Jesus. It is peculiarly pleasing to them to remember the certainty of the covenant while meditating upon God’s “steadfast, sure love David.”1 They delight to celebrate it as signed, sealed, and delivered! Their hearts often overflow with joy to think of its immutability, as a covenant that neither time nor eternity, life nor death will ever be able to break-a covenant as old as eternity and as everlasting as the Rock of Ages. Continue reading