Previous month:
September 2009
Next month:
November 2009

Posts from October 2009

Somer Thompson Funeral Service - Audio Only

Somer thompson photo copy I talked with Diena Thompson, Somer's mother, earlier this week and she gave me permission to post the audio from the funeral service.  There were many who attended the funeral and many more who wanted to, but could not.  So many of you have asked to have a copy of the service, and this is the best way to get it out there.  This beautiful little girl was tragically taken from us last week.  I pray that the words from this message bring peace and hope to you during this time.  We continue to pray for the family and for the Clay County Sheriff's Office as the seek to find Somer's killer.

Hopefully, this version of the service will be fed over to iTunes as a podcast.  You will need to subscribe to the podcast in iTunes or by clicking the link on the menu to the left to download it in this format.  Otherwise, just click the link below to listen.  To pause, click the link again.

I shared the message and Shelvin Lamb, Brandon Phillips and the praise team presented the music.  The last song on this recording is Brandon and the band presenting "Let Me Love You" which so clearly shared the message of God to this family during this time.

01 Somer Thompson Funeral Service

Problems with Podcast

My blog's settings were corrupted once I uploaded the Somer Thompson funeral service.  I will upload it again and hopefully, won't have problems this time.

I have had to delete my podcast and resubmit it.  So, if you subscribe to my podcast, more than likely, you'll have to resubscribe.  I figure that iTunes will now show two versions of my podcast, beginning tomorrow.  Hopefully not, but probably so.  So, beginning tomorrow - Sunday, November 1, 2009, if you wish to subscribe to the free podcast on iTunes, you'll have to resubmit the subscription request.  You can do so by clicking the "Subscribe to My Podcast" link in the side menu or better yet, go to iTunes, click on the iTunes store and type my name int he search box at the top right.  It should come up.  I'd wait until Sunday to do this, though.

Let Me Love You

Wow!  What a day.  People keep asking me "How are you doing with all this?"  You know.  I'm great.  The reality is, I'm doing so much better than the Thompson family.  I came home, hugged my kids and had dinner.  Somer's family doesn't get to do that, so in the big picture - I'm doing great.  Still praying for Diena and the other family members.

Our church stepped up today (and last night) in so many incredible ways.  Your willingness to put aside your own schedule and serve this community and the Thompson family is the very best way to show the love of God to a community that needs hope.

So, today we were able to take a break and focus on Somer Thompson's life.  I was able to share some things about her that actually hadn't been on the news before.  There was even laughter at the service, which, by the way, is not irreverent.

Brandon and Shelvin and the praise team and band did an incredible job at this funeral today.  I asked Brandon and the band to sing a song I first heard last Saturday.  I had this CD in my truck and was praying while driving for God to give me a special message for the family.  Then, this song came on.  Wow!  Wow!  Wow!  It was God saying, "This is what the family needs to hear."  Maybe you need to hear it as well.  God loves you so very much.  Are you letting Him?

The song is called "Let Me Love You" and it's on Third Day's "Revelation" CD.  Click below to hear it.

Ever Since the world around you shattered
you've been looking everywhere for something more

Sometimes you feel like your life doesn't matter
But it does
I tell you it does

Oh yeah

Come on let me love you now
Come on let me love you and hold you through the storms
I will keep you safe and warm
Come on let me love you now
Come on let me love you and kiss away your tears
I will always be here

Come on let me love you

Yesterday you found your heart was broken
And Tomorrow doesn't leave much room for hope
Today you'll find that my arms are wide open
And my heart, my heart is full of love

Give up on all the other things
'cuz my love can bring you more
And if you take a chance on me
I'll give you what you're looking for

Come on let me love you

Protecting Our Kids In Memory of Somer Thompson - Orange Park - "S.T.O.P."

NOTE:  I had to repost this and re-do the stop sign.  Before, it looked like it said "stop protecting kids" - Hopefully, this is better.

I was talking with Somer's grandfather today and he shared that yesterday he thought of this image - a purple stop sign with S-T-O-P meaning Somer Thompson Orange Park.  It's a symbol or icon to remind us to do everything we can as a community to stop what happened to Somer from ever happening again.  I think it's a great reminder and memorial to Somer.



Children, Heaven & the "Age of Accountability"

This question has come up much this week regarding children and heaven.  While some may not agree with what I state here, know that I have a peace about this. 

Rather than re-writing an answer, I thought I'd share the answer from the website

Question: "Where do I find the age of accountability in the Bible? What happens to babies and young children when they die?"

Frequently lost in the discussion regarding the age of accountability is the fact that children, no matter how young, are not “innocent” in the sense of being sinless. The Bible tells us that even if an infant or child has not committed personal sin, all people, including infants and children, are guilty before God because of inherited and imputed sin. Inherited sin is that which is passed on from our parents. In Psalm 51:5, David wrote, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” David recognized that even at conception, he was a sinner. The very sad fact that infants sometimes die demonstrates that even infants are impacted by Adam’s sin, since physical and spiritual death were the results of Adam's original sin.

Each person, infant or adult, stands guilty before God; each person has offended the holiness of God. The only way God can be just and at the same time declare a person righteous is for that person to have received forgiveness by faith in Christ. Christ is the only way. John 14:6 records what Jesus said: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, except through Me.” Also, Peter states in Acts 4:12, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Salvation is an individual choice.

What about babies and young children who never reach the ability to make this individual choice? The age of accountability is a concept that teaches those who die before reaching the age of accountability are automatically saved, by God’s grace and mercy. The age of accountability is a belief that God saves all those who die before reaching the ability to make a decision for or against Christ. Thirteen is the most common number given for the age of accountability, based on the Jewish custom that a child becomes an adult at the age of 13. However, the Bible gives no direct support to the age of 13 always being the age of accountability. It likely varies from child to child. A child has passed the age of accountability once he or she is capable of making a faith decision for or against Christ.

With the above in mind, also consider this: Christ's death is presented as sufficient for all of mankind. First John 2:2 says Jesus is “the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” This verse is clear that Jesus' death was sufficient for all sins, not just the sins of those who specifically have come to Him in faith. The fact that Christ's death was sufficient for all sin would allow the possibility of God’s applying that payment to those who were never capable of believing.

The one passage that seems to identify with this topic more than any other is 2 Samuel 12:21-23. The context of these verses is that King David committed adultery with Bathsheba, with a resulting pregnancy. The prophet Nathan was sent by the Lord to inform David that because of his sin, the Lord would take the child in death. David responded to this by grieving, mourning, and praying for the child. But once the child was taken, David's mourning ended. David's servants were surprised to hear this. They said to King David, “What is this thing that you have done? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” David's response was, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who knows, the LORD may be gracious to me, that the child may live.’ But now he has died; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.” David's response indicates that those who cannot believe are safe in the Lord. David said that he could go to the child, but that he could not bring the child back to him. Also, and just as important, David seemed to be comforted over this. In other words, David seemed to be saying that he would see the child (in heaven), though he could not bring him back.

Although it is possible that God applies Christ's payment for sin to those who cannot believe, the Bible does not specifically say that He does this. Therefore, this is a subject about which we should not be adamant or dogmatic. God’s applying Christ’s death to those who cannot believe would seem consistent with His love and mercy. It is our position that God applies Christ's payment for sin to young children and those who are mentally handicapped, since they were not mentally capable of understanding their sinful state and their need for the Savior, but again we cannot be dogmatic. Of this we are certain: God is loving, holy, merciful, just, and gracious. Whatever He does is always right and good.

This may be a controversial subject and some may never have an answer that fully satisfies.  I believe that Jesus is the way to salvation.  I also believe this is the case for any who have died.  If they could come back and say anything to us from eternity, they would say "Get your life right with Jesus today."

Continuing to Minister to Somer's Family & Community. . . Plus What To Do Now

First of all, to the church and those in the community.  Well done!!!  This tragedy with Somer Thompson has hit all of us like a ton of bricks.  The emotions that run through us from fear to anger and everything in between seem overwhelming.  But. . .our God is bigger than all of this. 

When the Clay County Sheriff's office asked for food for volunteers, more than enough was provided.  We have provided and delivered food from all over the county for the Thompson family.  Volunteers were out en masse Wednesday.  I had the great privilege (and Ed Hill did as well) of driving these volunteers around to locations in the area to search.  What a great community.  You really did step up.

Last night's prayer vigil was what I needed and I believe what the community needed.  There were numerous vigils going on and I'm so glad that prayers were being lifted up throughout the county and beyond.

We continue to minister to the Thompson family.  In talking with Diena, Somer's mother, I know she is so overwhelmed with the great love and help that so many of you have given.  This journey will be a long one, but she will not be alone.  As we've collected food, we're at a point now to say "No more food."  It really is overwhelming.  I asked Diena "How about if we tell folks who want to give, to give gift cards to grocery stores, Wal-Mart, Target, and local restaurants and she thought that if folks wanted to, that would be good.  So, if you'd like to do this, bring them by the church office, or mail them to us (1140 Kingsley  Ave, Orange Park, FL 32073) and we'll make sure Diena and family get them.

Now, what do we do?

I talked with Principal Braxton at Grove Park Elementary School (keep praying for her and all at GPE, please) about my idea of having a ministry (or program - churches have ministries, public schools have programs) to help those kids who walk home to have a "safe adult" walk with them.  Another option would be to have adults on the sidewalk (all adults would have to be screened and background checked) along routes home so that kids can be seen and can see them.  Then, I found this site.  Take a moment to read about "The Walking School Bus."  Us_nc_apex_olive3

I think it's a great start.  I've been getting calls from folks in the community and in the church.  I think we can do this, or some variation of it.  Not just at Grove Park, but throughout our county.  If churches, schools and communities partner in this, we can create a safer place for our kids to walk to school.

I know this won't bring Somer back.  I wish it would.  However, something must be done in our neighborhoods to protect our most precious children.

Missing 7 Year Old Somer Thompson - What You Can Do

It's a parent's worst nightmare and it's happening in our community.  The Amber Alert has been issued for seven year old Somer Thompson.  Somer attends Grove Park Elementary School (the school our church adopted five years ago).  Click here for First Coast News report on the missing child.

Many are asking "What can I do?"  Here are some options:

We are praying for Somer's safe return and encourage you do join us. If you wish to come to the church building, you may. Our Intercessory Prayer Ministry room is open from 8am - 5pm daily during this time for prayer. This room is located on the west side of our building.

Many have already gone out through the community to help search. We want to encourage you to to stay alert to what the Sheriff's Office is requesting. At this point, volunteers are handing out flyers and continuing to scour the area. While there is no "organized" civilian effort, many have joined in the search.

We have talked with representatives from Grove Park Elementary School, the Clay County School Board and the Clay County Sheriff's office. Each of these organizations, and many in the community, wanted to provide support for the family by brining food to them.

Our church is the clearinghouse for food that is being given for the family
(10-12 people) of Somer Thompson. Food will be brought from people in the community, the schools and other organizations, as well as any from our church who would like to help.

Food for breakfast, lunch and dinner is requested. Cooked items that can be frozen to be used later are appreciated. Please bring foods in disposable containers and label all food items with the date the food was prepared, type of food, cooking/reheating instructions and the preparer's name, address and phone number.

Meals are to be dropped off at our gymnasium through Friday, October 23 from 8am to 5pm. If you are available to help, please go directly to the gymnasium.

At this time, meals are for the family, but as circumstances change, we may open the gymnasium to feed the officers and volunteers who are searching for Somer.

Thank you for your willingness to minister to this family.

The church is located at 1140 Kingsley Avenue, Orange Park, FL 32073. The gymnasium is located in the back of the facility on the west side.  Click here for updates on our efforts to serve and minister to this family and community.


Bloodbath - A Message on Atonement

There are churches (I use that term lightly) who teach the love of Christ, the life of Christ and emphasize His teachings but intentionally avoid talking about sin and the need for the blood of Christ.   Those churches should have their doors shut.  Why?  Because they're apostate.  They are omitting the key element of the story.  Now, the resurrection is vital and shows us that Christ defeated death, but without the cross, there's no resurrection.  Without resurrection, there's no life.  Without life, there's no hope.

But we are not hopeless. We have life, through Christ and have been reconnected with God through the cross.

Download 01 Bloodbath

Incredible Hockey Goal by 9 Year Old

I'm not really a hockey fan, but I have been to a few games.  I've tried to ice skate, without much luck, so I'm amazed at what these athletes can do on the ice.  This clip has hit the internet this week.  It's the latest viral video and is pretty amazing.  At a Mini - 1 on 1 event at the Boston Bruins rink, nine year old Oliver Wahlstrom seemingly stuck the puck on the end of his stick, spun around and scored.  Be sure to look at the goalie's reaction.  He can't believe it.  Neither can anyone else.

Friday's Random Thoughts

Another day off.  My wife is working.  My kids are at school.  I'm home without a vehicle.  This is a good day.  It's just me and Max the Wonderdog hanging out.  I did just finish vacuuming and mopping the floors.  Ready for some lunch.  I'm sure this is inspirinig to you all.

Friday's a good day to do a "cognitive dump" as my seminary prof used to say.  Clear the mind.  You know, sort those random thoughts that accumulate throughout the week.

  • OK, the boy in the balloon.  Was it a hoax?  Was it a show?  I think the kid was playing and since their family had already been on a TV Show (Wife Swap - now there's good television. Right.)  he probably thought that when dad showed the reporters the hiding spot, it was another show.  At least I hope so.  Regardless, glad the boy is safe.  That was an incredible news report of the balloon going down.  Just trying to imagine if my kid was stuck in it at age six.  I would be going crazy.  Still, didn't the balloon look like a pan of Jiffy Pop popcorn?
  • On Fridays I get to watch the television shows that have been recorded throughout the week.  Fringe is a good one, but Fox has a tendency to move shows I like to time periods that set them up for cancellation.  The Sarah Connor Chronicles was another one. Very frustrating.
  • Was surfing YouTube the other day and found that someone had uploaded old clips from shows that weren't on long, but aired in the 1970s and 1980s.  These were the days before cable for me, so I remembered watching these, because that was all that was on.
  • Here are some of the shows I remember watching as a kid.  Some were great.  Others were just there.  Do you remember any of these:  Makin' It (sit com kind of based on Saturday Night Fever - yeah, that's why it only aired seven times), The Invisible Man (this was a great show, starred David McCallam -Ilya from The Man from U.N.C.L.E. & Ducky from NCIS), Angie (another sitcom, this one starring the co-star of Saturday Night Fever.  Disco was really big, wasn't it?), Family (Kristy McNichol - kind of liked her as a kid), The White Shadow (basketball), Quark (this was a sitcom starring Richard Benjamin.  He was an interstellar trash collector.  Didn't last long), What's Happening (Rerun, Raj and the gang) and Battlestar Gallactica (the original where Starbuck was a guy.)  There were many others that everyone remembers like Happy Days, M*A*S*H and Laverne & Shirley, too.
  • I linked to the video of the NC church having a Bible and book burning on Halloween.  Sad.  Legalism made manifest.  The church is growing though - they have 14 members now. 
  • I like the song "Chicken Fried" by the Zac Brown Band.  Brandon needs to work this up to sing in November during our country music month.
  • Getting a lot of comments about the intergenerational church article I posted yesterday.  Hmmm.  Maybe we're onto something.  Interested to see how this plays out.
  • Fall Festival is tomorrow.  Trying a different strategy this year (a right one, I believe.)  Excited to see how God uses us.  Wouldn't it be great to be known as more than the church that gives away water bottles?
  • Folks are wearing church T-shirts tomorrow.  We're out of most sizes.  My T-shirt guy moved, so I need a new distributor.  Really need some better looking shirts.  Gotta phase out the "REAL" shirts.  As a friend told me. . ."that's so 1980s."  He was kidding.  I think.
  • How come NCIS is the #1 show in America and all the critics don't like it?
  • Went to the high school homecoming parade and pep rally last night.  Wow.  There were a lot of people there.  Each class and club did a skit.  Amazing how many people chose Beyonce songs to dance to.  More amazing how Michael Jackson songs are still popular with teenagers. 
  • Homecoming in Texas is different.  The girls get mums to wear from their dates.  The guys get garters to wear on their arms.  Texas homecomingThis is how it was when I was in high school and a friend told me it's still this way.  Check out the pic of some of the girls I went to high school with back in the 80s.  (Sorry Lynne, shouldn't have let this get posted to Facebook).  The biggest mum I ever saw in high school had three on the front, with a ribbon connecting to one attached to the girl's back.  It even had lights on it.  Oh yeah, all those ribbons on the front?  They have bells, metal footballs, little helmets and all sorts of junk stuck on them. I told my daughter she needed to wear one of these to the game tonight.
  • Just found out that the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation is a supporter of Planned Parenthood.  This is disappointing and disturbing.  Planned Parenthood is one of the largest pro-abortion foundations in the nation.  Perplexing that the foundation that raises funds and awareness for breast cancer also donates to a pro-abortion group when studies show that 5,000 women annually are diagnosed with breast cancer connected to their abortions.
  • Have you seen the commercial that asks the question "What is the dumbest college mascot?" and they come up with the Weevil from the University of Arkansas at Monticello?  I thought it was made up.  It's not.
  • Did you know that Bulldog is the most popular college and high school mascot in the nation?
  • Weevil is probably not very popular.
  • Just listened to "Chicken Fried" for the third time today.  Love that song.  My wife hates it. 
  • Have you used Pandora online radio?  Pretty cool.  You create your own stations and can listen online.  Wonderful if you're in an office where your constant streaming of audio and video slows down everyone else's internet access.  Co-workers love this.
  • Ever realize how much junk we worry about that never happens?
  • Watched the Wendy's "Where's the Beef" commercial on YouTube.  Clara Peller still makes me laugh.
  • Yesterday, I was watching the boy not in the balloon on live streaming news on my computer.  I have two monitors, so I put CNNs feed on the left screen and FoxNews feed on the right.  I thought that was appropriate.
  • I believe the television network TLC should be taken off the air.  Why?  Because I can't stand the shows they air.  They actually have a show about women buying wedding dresses.  This goes on for an hour.  I truly believe that this is what hell is like for men - trapped in a wedding dress store for eternity watching women trying to pick out a wedding dress.
  • They should have a show about the men picking out their tuxedos for the wedding.  The show would last five minutes.  The guys would pick the tuxes, get sized and then go get something to eat.
  • OK, I know hell isn't like a wedding dress store.  I believe the Bible's description.  Don't worry.
  • Speaking of hell.  It is real and I don't want anyone to go there.  So, how come we Christians don't have more of an urgency to tell others about Christ?
  • You have to watch this clip from Crown.  The story of Lazarus and the rich man.  Wow.  Click here.
  • Floors are dry.  Need to eat some lunch and watch NCIS.