A few weeks ago when Shawn asked if I would speak today I immediately began thinking about a topic. I first went to the lectionary to see what the scripture was for today…it’s Luke 10: 25-37 the story we know as the Good Samaritan …. It’s one of my favorite stories and I was excited to speak on a story that holds so much meaning for me personally.

But as time went on, it didn’t seem like where I was supposed to be. I became very stress about what words I was to share….for weeks everywhere I went, everything I did, I was thinking OKAY how does this relate to the Good Samaritan and what I am supposed to take from this to share? But the answers never came.

Last Monday was Independence Day, or as is more commonly called these days, the 4th of July. As is our practice Jenn and I had planned to take our bicycles to South Port via the ferry. As we were preparing our bikes, and thinking about the projected heat index for the day (107) and the number of days last week we needed to be outside and the forecasted heat, we decided (wisely I might add) to nix the bike ride and opt for a trip to Sunset Beach and a show at the Ingram Planetarium. In the evening we went to downtown and watched the fireworks display.

When our day was done and we were headed home, Jenn said ‘”we had a theme to our day” and so I asked “Really, what was it”

LOOK UP she said.

Tuesday, as I took time to meditate on today’s message it occurred to me that the message of look up was where I needed to focus my attention. God put it on my heart to speak about looking up. As this past week’s events unfolded. I have realized why….

As you know….It’s been a tough week. In our land.

It’s been a tough month is our world.

For many of us it’s been a tough year or couple of years in our lives.

But the good news is we walk in faith.

We live in love.

We are loved by and we belong to a God – to THE God that is greater!

Greater than all our problems.

God is greater than all world’s problems.

God labels us (the WHOLE world) only as his children…not black or white… not liberal or conservative….not gansta or goodie 2 shoes….God labels EVERYONE in the world as his children. His beloved children.

We create divisions. We add labels. We join in divisive and damaging rhetoric. This is not of God. We just must remember that we are the reflection of God. If you grew up as I did you’ve heard the saying “you may be the only Jesus people see”. Are you comfortable with that?

I am sure, absolutely certain, that the answers to our world’s issues are not with the ways we separate, protect and insolate ourselves.

The answers are not with politicians.

The answers we need are of God and from God.

We MUST look up! We must look up to God.

I have two bible stories I want to share today. With your indulgence, I’ll paraphrase the back story of each.

The back story of our Old Testament text for today….is about Abraham (whose was still known as Abram at this time – but that’s another story).  Abram, whom God had blessed was traveling with his wife and all his possessions as well as with his nephew Lot. Abram and Lot have grown to be exceedingly wealthy men. The bible says they had so many possessions between them that the land couldn’t support both of them. And that they could no longer live together.  Conflicts were breaking out between those herding Abram’s livestock and those herding Lot’s livestock. So Abram says to Lot “Hey, we’re family. It’s silly for us to have disputes. Let’s separate. If you go north, I will go south; and if you go south, I will go north.” So that where we join the story in Genesis 13: 14-17

After Lot separated from him, the Lord said to Abram, “From the place where you are standing, look up and gaze to the north, south, east, and west, because all the land that you see I give you and your descendants forever.  I will make your descendants like the dust of the earth. If someone could count the bits of dust on the earth, then they could also count your descendants.  Stand up and walk around through the length and breadth of the land because I am giving it to you.”

Now, I’m not saying that God is saying to each of us….Hey, you can have it all. I seriously doubt any of us have heard God say that our offspring will be as plentiful as the dust of the earth.

However, I do believe God is saying look up and see what he is doing in your life.

Are you listening?

How many times in our lives when we feel overwhelmed and downtrodden and we begin to look at our feet. We begin to see only obstacles to see all the stones that block our path. But God says look up! God is in control and he has great plans for you.

One of my favorite verses comes from Jeremiah 29 when God says to the people of Israel “I know the plans I have in mind for you, they are plans for peace, not disaster, to give you a future filled with hope.  When you call me and come and pray to me, I will listen to you.  When you search for me, yes, search for me with all your heart, you will find me.”

I am assured this is as true for you here today as it was for the people of Israel thousands of years ago– If you will only search for God with all your heart, God will show you all the good he has planned for you.

We as humans mess up. We run off trusting our own knowledge, believing we have answers.

Thinking we know better.

Through our own vanity we get ourselves in trouble but if we can find our way back to God, if we search for God with all our heart God will show us the good he has planned for you and me.

God wants good for each of us. For all his children worldwide.

Our New Testament text come from the 4th chapter of John. The back story goes like this, Jesus and his disciples left Judea and were traveling back to Galilee. Jesus got tired around noon and sat down to rest near Jacob’s well in Samaria. While his disciples went to get take out.

A woman came to the well to draw water.

He asks this woman for water and they have a discussion. Now there are lots of elements to this story:

One, her gender was all wrong for Jesus to start a conversation with her.

Two, her nationality was all wrong for Jesus to start a conversation with her.

Three, She wasn’t what we’d call a ‘good’ person.

None of those things stopped Jesus (the person we are to imitate) from striking up a conversation and sharing God’s love with the woman.

John 4: 27-38 says “just then, Jesus’ disciples arrived and were shocked that he was talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”  The woman put down her water jar and went into the city. She said to the people, “Come and see a man who has told me everything I’ve done! Could this man be the Christ?”  They left the city and were on their way to see Jesus.

In the meantime the disciples spoke to Jesus, saying, “Rabbi, eat.”

Jesus said to them, “I have food to eat that you don’t know about.”

The disciples asked each other, “Has someone brought him food?”

Jesus said to them, “I am fed by doing the will of the one who sent me and by completing his work.  Don’t you have a saying, ‘Four more months and then it’s time for harvest’? Look, I tell you: open your eyes (or Look up) and notice that the fields are already ripe for the harvest.  Those who harvest are receiving their pay and gathering fruit for eternal life so that those who sow and those who harvest can celebrate together.  This is a true saying, that one sows and another harvests.  I have sent you to harvest what you didn’t work hard for; others worked hard, and you will share in their hard work.”

This is the word of God for the people of God

Thanks be to God


There are two things I want to point out about this passage. One, once the woman at the well received the forgiveness Jesus offered to her, it was not long before her whole community was coming out to see this man who could save the vilest of sinners.

I read a story recently about a car crash. The vehicle was on fire, trapping the driver inside the burning car. A bystander described what happened. He said, “We heard tires screeching. We heard the bang…It was a huge fire. Flames were shooting a good six feet over the vehicle…I realized there’s someone in the vehicle!’…I saw the [driver’s] hand…reaching up and I heard his voice: ‘Help me. Just take my hand and get me out of here!’”  Fortunately, he was able to rescue the man from the car, and save his life. The bystander commented “It was scary. You know you could be burned. But it was scarier knowing that this guy is going to die if I just stand here.” The work of sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ, is not merely a program or ministry of the church. It is not just a push to put more people in the pews. It is not simply an effort to enlarge the ranks of the Christians. It’s the work of rescuing. It is putting aside ALL fear and hesitance, knowing that we cannot stand by without doing something.

There is so much to be unpacked in the story of the woman at the well (it’s a great story); the second part I want us to focus on the most is what Jesus says to his disciples after the woman leaves.

What was Jesus talking about?

One Jesus is saying he was nourished and satisfied by doing the will of God. Doing God’s will is fulfilling.

In May of 1965, Rolling Stones guitarist, Keith Richards, said he woke up in the middle of the night with a guitar riff in his head, and the words, “I can’t get no satisfaction.” He recorded the riff and the words on a tape recorder, and then went back to sleep. Later, he and band mate, Mick Jagger, finished writing the song at a hotel in Clearwater, FL. By June, the song was released as a single, and became the band’s first number one hit. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Stones fan or not, but most of us can relate to its message. Studies show that most people today are largely disappointed and dissatisfied with their lives. Jesus teaches us that there is true satisfaction to be found. There is a fulfillment that comes from obeying the will of God.

He was saying to his disciples that taking the love of God to the woman at the well was his mission.” Doing the will of the one who sent me and completing his work” And even more his disciples were to do the same….to a world ready for harvest.

Church, I tell you the world is ready for harvest. People are starving….for the love of God!

Jesus pointed to the anticipating faces of the Samaritans coming towards Him, and He told His disciples, “Look, the harvest is ready to be taken if you are ready to take it.”  As the influence and size of the church continues to shrink, the problem is clearly not with a lack of people needing the love of God. In fact, within the shadow of most churches there are countless people in need.  The problem is not that the fields aren’t ripe, and the souls aren’t ready. The problem is that most of the laborers have found every reason we can to put off entering the field and gathering the harvest.

Any good farmer will tell you, the harvest doesn’t wait for you. When it is time to bring in the crops, you either reap them or you lose them! Jesus said to His disciples, “we don’t have months to stall and wait for the harvest. The harvest is here, and it is ready for us.”

This world in which we live is like the Samaritans – IN NEED. The savior of the world is Jesus and this world needs a savior!

We have lulled ourselves into a passive state where we believe we bare no responsibility for strangers. We expect someone else to be the messenger to the world. But you’re it!

I’m not suggesting we start a door knocking campaign. I am suggesting living your faith out loud. I am saying look for the opportunities to share Jesus, or your’ Church. I am saying don’t be afraid to love radically. Radically love everyone.

Wake up church! Wake up! Grab your candle and run into the darkness. There is no superior cause. There is no allegiance greater. Here at St Paul’s we have a plan for the next 5 years to make disciples….to take the love of Jesus to Carolina and Kure Beach, OTB and beyond.

You, me, we are under a mandate to take the love of Jesus to a lost and dying (literally dying) world.

I’d like us to begin today by having a time of prayer.

I invite you to join in prayer….from where you are, silently or aloud….pray for our world, pray for us to look up and see what God is doing in our lives, Pray for us to wake up as a mighty people and for us to run into the darkness with the light of Jesus, pray for peace through our land and world.

I’ll begin our time of prayer….After a time, when all have had a chance to join as you feel lead, I will close us with a prayer of St Francis.

Pray with me:

God of peace, Help us to see your vision for our lives. Grant us the ability to listen for your voice in a sea of angry words and hate. Hear us as we pray now….


“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”


Love ’em or hate ’em in the past 48 hours  the ‘Be Like Me’ or ‘Be Like Bill’ memes have taken over the world, at least the social media world.

None of the ‘canned’ ones suited me. So, I made my own.

Be Like Gayle













They have been my team since they first took the field in 1995. I hope this is THE year they come home with the Lombardi Trophy.

This is a sermon I preached at St Paul’s United Methodist in Carolina Beach, NC on May 10, 2015.

are you my god
The scripture is 1 John 5:1-6

Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.  For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? This is the One who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood. It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.

As you all know, it’s Mother’s day – it is a day we celebrate the earthly heritage we received from not only our biological mother’s but also from our spiritual mothers – those women of faith that have lead us, encouraged us, and brought us to the place we are today!

For some of us this day is bittersweet as we mourn those who have left us here or those who never made their way here. Some are able to celebrate with those who sit next to them. And for some we will connect by telephone or travel later today or in the days to come.

I have been blessed in my life to have been mentored and mothered by a host of extraordinary women. I carry the lessons and the love of those women with me daily. So, I encourage you to not be bound by biology today but to think of the women in the whole body of Christ who have brought you to the family of God, celebrate them and thank them today.

As I was preparing for today the first verse reminded of a story I used to tell often, and I beg your indulgence to tell it to you today: In 1997 my parents were in an automobile accident. My sister and I had the unenviable task of burying our father while our mother was hospitalized. No doubt it is the hardest thing we have ever done in our lives. As we humans often do in horrific situations, I have held on to humorous moments from this time – like my youngest nephew, who was a young lad at the time and well-schooled by his grandmother, asking if the funeral home gave ‘senior discounts’.

While standing with my sister and her family as we stood in, for lack of a better word – a receiving line, to accept the condolence of people who are but a blur in my memory, a little old lady approached me and asked ‘are you a member of the family?’ My mouth opened to offer a “smart” reply about how I was just wandering by, had on a black suit and thought it would be fun to stand among the family members and hug too many people….instead, my mouth confirmed my lineage as Don and Libby’s youngest. Then to my surprise this stooped little old lady grabbed me in a bear hug Hulk Hogan would have envied and whispered gently in my ear how much she loved me. For me the story ended there….how funny someone would question who you were then claim their love seconds later.

A couple of years ago I made the mistake of telling this story within earshot of my mother. I received proper chastisement (because you’re never too old to be chastised by your mother) for thinking this was funny. But the words of my mother have stuck with me – she loved us, so of course she loved you!

To love the parent is to love the child!

I’ve heard Kathy Bordeaux tell several times how St Paul’s loved them before they arrived and how it was like coming home when they got here….because this church knows and loves Charles and Barbara – of course they loved Chuck and Kathy.

To love the parent is to love the child.

I dare say that none of us here today grew up with an perfect mother (or parent). Because mothers and parents are people they were flawed (although as a side note, the further my childhood is in the rear-view mirror the more nostalgic and idyllic it becomes). My parents may have been imperfect, but I have always been blessed, as you are, with the perfect parent of God.

The inverse of our first verse is also true….to know a child is to see the reflection of the parent.

Invariably when I was younger, and my family would travel back to where my mother grew up someone who knew my mother when she was a girl would say to me ‘you’re just like your mother’.

As a youngster, I hated this! For I was my own person!

As an angry teen, I would argue….I’m nothing like my mother!

As a seasoned adult, I recognize the complement. I can look in a mirror and recognize that genetics creates my reflection but I also can see that my common sense, and my can do approach comes from my mom…and I aspire to possess her strength of character and ability to have faith through life’s most difficult journeys.

It is all well and good that I reflect my imperfect earth parent. But do people see my perfect parent when they see me?

When people see us – do they see God?

In Genesis 33 verse 10 Jacob says “If I have found favor in your eyes, accept this gift from me. For to see your face is like seeing the face of God, now that you have received me favorably.”

When people encounter you on the street do they see the reflection of God?

The scripture text for today goes on to say (beginning with verse 2): By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.  For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

If we love god, it looks like this:

  • obedience,
  • living like Jesus.
  • Our lives reflect who our God is.

are you my motherHow many of you have read the book ‘Are You My Mother?’  It’s a children’s book by P. D. Eastman (Until I looked it up for today’s sermon I always thought it was a Dr. Seuss book) published by Random House Books for Young Readers on June 12, 1960 as part of its Beginner Books series and is still considered one of the top 100 books for young readers.. The plot of the book is that this little bird goes in search of his mother and asks all kinds of creatures, including a steam shovel are you my mother?

I believe we are living in a culture in this day and age where people are wandering around like the little bird asking are you my god?

Are You My God?

  • They commit to sport teams – asking are you my god?
  • They commit to jobs and careers – asking are you my god?
  • They commit to leisure activities – asking are you my god?
  • They commit to the pursuit of happiness – asking are you my god?
  • Some even commit to motherhood (or parenthood) – asking are you my god?

We are living in a lost society. Where the majority of teenagers have NEVER been thought the doors of a Church! Where the majority of our society is not in a church on a Sunday….any Sunday! The statistics from 2004 say less than 18% or 52 million people regularly attend Church. As opposed to the 40% who claim they regularly attend church…research shows those attend less than 12 times per year.

I recently read a blog post where the author commented that ‘Modern Christianity has this mentality that church is where people meet God. While that can certainly be true in some circumstances, it should never be our focus. People meet Jesus through the way we live. Through the way we speak. Through the way we manifest unconditional love.”

Don’t get me wrong, I believe we need to be in church….I need to be in church. I need to be here to be fed. To be nourished but being a Christian isn’t about church attendance! It’s about being a faithful disciple!

It’s about living for something and reflecting our perfect parent into a world that is searching.

It is taking the real God to a world that is walking through life asking everything imaginable – Are you my God?

We are walking daily beside those who are searching!

We are living among those who are desperate to find something to believe in…

And yet, we are not reflecting our perfect parent!

Is the world seeing God in us?

Does your co-worker think of God when they think of you?

What about your next door neighbor?

Or the guy driving the car ahead, behind or merging into you?

Are they seeing God in me?

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments.

Matthew 22: 35-39 says one of them, a lawyer, asked Jesus, a question, testing Him, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And Jesus said to him, “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  This is the great and foremost commandment.  The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

We have a mission…..to love our neighbors!

We have a mandate to make disciples of Jesus Christ.

In yet another reflection of my earthy parents, I am an avid reader of the Readers Digest.

In the April issue they told the story of Viktor Frankl  a prominent Jewish psychiatrist and neurologist in Vienna in 1941. With his career on the rise and the threat of the Nazis looming, Frankl had applied for a visa to America, which he was granted. By then, the Nazis had already started taking Jews to concentration camps, focusing on the elderly first. Frankl knew that it would be only a matter of time before the Nazis came for his parents. Once they did, he felt he had a responsibility to help them through the trauma of adjusting to camp life.  On the other hand, as a newly married man with a pregnant wife and his visa in hand, he was tempted to flee to safety in America, where he could distinguish himself even further in his field.

At a loss for what to do, Frankl set out for St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna to clear his head.  He was looking for a “hint from heaven”. When he returned home, he found it – in a piece of marble lying on the table. It was from the rubble of one of the nearby synagogues that the Nazis had destroyed.  It contained a fragment of one of the Ten Commandments – the one about honoring your father and your mother.  Frankl stayed and in September 1942 along with his wife and parents was arrested and transported to a Nazi concentration camp. Three years later his camp was liberated, but most of his family had perished (including his wife). In 1946 he wrote a bestselling book about the experience, called Man’s Search for Meaning.

The wisdom that Frankl derived from his experiences in the camps, in the middle of imaginable human suffering, is just as relevant now as it was then: “Being human always points, and is directed, to something or someone other than oneself.  The more one forgets himself – by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love – the more human he is.”  By devoting our lives to “giving” rather than “taking”, we also acknowledge that there is more to the good life than the pursuit of simple happiness.

You are put here on earth for a purpose. To share God’s love!

You, we, are the conduit through which the light of God’s love is allowed to shine though to a dark and searching world. Do not hide that light! But lift your gift of God’s love and light HIGH for all the world to see…today and every day.

Join me for our closing hymn….this little light of mine.

No doubt your first question, as was mine, is what the heck is a swivel gun?

swivel gun usually refers to a small cannon, mounted on a swiveling stand or fork which allows a very wide arc of movement. Swivel guns are among the smallest types of cannon, typically measuring less than 1 m (3 ft) in length and with a bore diameter of up to 3.5 cm (1¼ in). Swivel guns were used principally aboard sailing ships, serving as short-range anti-personnel ordnance. They were not ship-sinking weapons, due to their small caliber and short range, but could do considerable damage to anyone caught in their line of fire.

swivel gun Moore's Creek Battlefield

My encounter with a swivel gun took place at Moore’s Creek National Battlefield when I reported for

Selfie de jour

Selfie de jour

duty on Saturday, January 31, 2015. I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived, but was quickly escorted to the trailer filled with period clothing…suit up was the command.  Let me just say, putting on clothes worn by God only knows who to do God only know what, is well, disconcerting! Especially, for this OCD chick….but I found pants, and a tunic. I was fortunate my feet are big (and wide) and the shoes provided wouldn’t fit on my feet….so I kept my own socks and shoes – whew! When I left home I swore I wouldn’t don a ‘silly’ tri-cornered hat….but I ended up in this three cornered job (I’ve been told it’s not a tricorne). The other options were tam-like or when we in the south call toboggans (for you yanks that’s a knit monstrosity).

There was a lot to learn:

  • about the gun.
  • Procedure.
  • Black Powder.
  • and working as a team (we all trained on all positions).

My plan had been to leave at lunch. There were other things I needed (and wanted) to do that day. But I was having fun. The weather was enjoyable. I had settled into the strange clothing (mostly) and most important, we were not firing the gun until after lunch!

Once the three man team takes command of the piece, the first thing done is to search the piece (ie to be sure there is no debris from previous firings). This is accomplished by using a worm ( a corkscrew type tool) down the muzzle of the gun and twisting.

Swivel Gun-worm

 Once the piece has been searched, a sponge is rammed down the muzzle to ensure any possible embers are extinguished.  This is done while the person on the right of the gun is ‘tending the vent’ which means holding his/her thumb over the vent hole to ensure no oxygen can remain in the muzzle.

Once the muzzle is clear, then a charge (pr cartridge) is placed in the muzzle and rammed to the back of the muzzle (pictured)

Swivel Gun-field command firing ramming

Once the charge is in place the command to prime is given. This means to pierce the charge by placing a pick through the vent hold. Then a quill is placed into the powder via the vent hole as well.  The quill is a small amount of black powder rolled in some flammable material (like paper).

At this point the piece is ready to fire and the command to aim is given. Those manning the gun are told to make ready (pictured) and a lintstock (smoldering rope) is touched to the quill.

Swivel Gun field command firing 2

Swivel Gun-fire

Swivel Gun-fire 2
The sound is loud. However, everyone is wearing ear protection… so it is almost impossible to know real how loud. The neatest part to me was to be able to see the fire shoot from the muzzle! Don’t blink or you’ll miss it.

Swivel Gun-field command firing

Swivel Gun-swivel gun training crew

I had a great time and met some really nice people! I can’t wait for my next training….perhaps a cannon or muskets!

The 150th Anniversary of the Battle for Fort Fisher


In January I had the opportunity to attend the sesquicentennial events for the Second Battle of Fort Fisher. Since a rainy Saturday in 2008 – I have attended the events surrounding the Second Battle of Fort Fisher . The weather …


You Never Forget The First One #tbt


I moved to Wilmington on Memorial Day weekend 1995 – it’s hard for me to believe it’s been almost 20 years! In that time I have experienced quite a few storms: 1996 hurricane Bertha hits July 12th with 105mph winds from …