A Crowd and A King

This Sunday commences Passion Week –  a journey that is full of emotion, anticipation, and truth.  It begins with celebration and festivities and within a period of 4 days, turns abruptly.  It culminates with a final act and victory on Resurrection Sunday, when the tomb is rolled back and is found empty once and for all.  We will get to Easter for sure.

For now, I recommend that you take some time, starting this Sunday, and go on the journey with Jesus.  Follow Passion Week in the Gospel narratives and records, and put yourself in the crowd.  Imagine you are there for Passover in Jerusalem and you are witnessing the events firsthand.  Prayerfully consider your reactions to the fanfare, the activities, the happenings.  I submit that if you do it authentically, trusting God to be your guide, that you will encounter our Lord and Savior and Passion Week in a life changing and transformational way.  Who knows?  You may never be the same again! – in a God way, of course.

Join us this Palm Sunday @ 10:00 a.m. at the Clocktower in Beaufort (Front Street).  Bring your family & friends.  This is where we will gather for worship, and with the Holy Spirit’s lead, we will encounter God in a Passion Week way.  My prayer is that we will be more than just a “crowd” on Front Street – may be we willing participators in what God desires to accomplish.

Be blessed!


Is it real?

Ever watch PBS’ hit program, Antique Road Show?  I love that show, though I don’t believe anyone else in my family does.  No problem.  I catch it late at night or simply hit the DVR.  If you’ve never caught the show before, here it is in a nutshell:  A traveling show hosted in various cities, with supposed “experts” on antiques and artifacts, will appraise and survey items that are perhaps valuable (to the surprise of the actual person who owns the item), or, share that it is a “hack,” a “fake,” or a “dud.”  Case in point:  Recently on a show, a lady took in a 4-piece set of what she thought were simply “old” dishes.  It was a complete set: 4 dinner plates; 4 bread plates; 4 matching glasses; a pitcher; and a large serving platter.  It had been in her family for decades, handed down multiple times.  On the back of each piece, it read: “W.H. P. Collection.”  For years, the family reasoned that it meant something different, but instead, it actually meant White House Presidential Collection.  Those plates, which she thought may be worth $100.00 or so, ended up being dated to Abraham Lincoln and were valued at about $10,000.00 at auction.

On just about every program of Antique Road Show, you see stories like this.  Many people are pleasantly surprised at the uniqueness, the history, and the value of things they thought were virtually worthless.  On the other hand, there are those times when people arrive with something, thinking it is valuable, and then find out it is really worth very little.  Usually, that doesn’t go over to well.  In fact, some people get a little upset.  Not often, but it does happen.

What I find interesting is how authenticity is essential.  That is the very first thing the appraisers are searching for:  Who made this?  When was it made?  What period was it crafted in?  Are there any seals or watermarks?  Is it real?  The experts have been trained on HOW to tell.  They have an eye and a knowledge of what is real and what is fake.  Often times, that tells the true tale of the tape.

Lately, when I have been able to catch the program, I have started to somehow liken it to God and what He is looking for.  Last week, God gave me a message on our choices.  Taken from Romans 14, v.12, which states:  “All of us will have to give an account of ourselves to God,” I couldn’t help but think of the Antique Road Show.  And here is why:  One day, on that day that has been appointed for all of us, God will assess and determine this:  Are we real?   In other words, are we authentically His?   He will surely know – He surely knows even today!

On the show, something that is fake has no chance of ever becoming valuable.  It can’t be made into something that has value no matter what kind of process it goes through.  But with God, all things are possible!  He makes all things new and He makes us real and authentic through the gift and presence of His Son, Jesus Christ!

Are you being made new, today?  If not, the good news is that today can be the beginning of the rest of your life.  Don’t let the past dictate your present, or your future.  In the words of the great philosopher:  “Let go, and let God.”

He is Alive and He is Able



Humility Redefined

I expect this to probably be the most heart-wrenching blog I have written.  It will be for me, no doubt.

Yesterday, while traveling through Carteret County, navigating the get togethers and getting to some appointments, God birthed this blog in me while the song, “How Great is Our God” blasted through the speakers.  And yes, the volume was elevated while the tears rained down my cheek.

This past Saturday, Fat Fellas Restaurant in Newport hosted a generous fund-raiser for Eli’s Allies – the name given to the love, compassion, and effort to help my son’s battle with cancer.  So many people, families, businesses, and organizations are involved now – it is truly amazing and it has virtually rendered us speechless.  Anyway, it has been our position to not personally advertise any of the benefits (and by “our” position I mean Angela and I).  In fact, while the BBQ benefit was happening on Saturday, it was clearly God’s desire for us to support the restaurant and that is what we did.  We went inside, sat down, and ordered regular items off the menu.  I feel it is important to share that, but what I really want to share is what happened when we first arrived at Fat Fellas.

We had just come in from a game earlier that morning, in New Bern.  Our second oldest son, Jacob, was playing an All Star Game against Morehead City.  So the game ended, we departed New Bern, and it was nearly 12 noon before we arrived at Fat Fellas.  We had no idea what to anticipate or expect as we drove into downtown Newport.  But as we rounded the corner, made the turn, and drifted forward – there was a line down Chatham Street.  Tears streamed from my eyes.  I could hardly see, and what I did see in that moment was a community rallying to support my little boy.  People I didn’t know, people from all walks of life, people from Newport, and Morehead, and Beaufort, and DownEast.  All I could see, in that moment, was the heart of God poured out, filling others, and overflowing.  Regardless of the # of boxes or the donations raised, I saw God’s amazing love for my 6 year old boy, who is in the midst of the greatest challenge of his life.  And naturally, his greatest challenge has become our greatest challenge as well.

Somehow I managed to pull into the parking lot of Red & White as there was no parking at Fat Fellas or the BP Station next door.  Angela was coming behind me in her vehicle, and within a few minutes, she pulled in right beside me.  We parked, got out, and the tears returned suddenly.  Even many of the bikers, who were there for a bike show that was simultaneously running, were ordering BBQ Plates for Eli’s Allies.  I didn’t know one of them.  So after getting ourselves back together, we journeyed down the railroad tracks and made our way into the restaurant.

Upon entering, I knew we had to go and thank Jeremy, the owner-operator of Fat Fellas.  I have to confess: I had never met him officially.  I had seen him around town and had met him a few months before, when we all went there for dinner one night.  Of course, that was long before Eli’s diagnosis.  So I wasn’t sure if he would even remember me – but that was not important.  He and his staff had worked and were working extremely hard for this benefit, for Eli, and I was compelled to go to him no matter how emotional, or sentimental, or speechless I was.

We walked through the door, headed directly to the register, and informed a member of the Fat Fellas team that we wanted to see Jeremy, if he had a moment.  They went to get him (he was working the Drive Thru Line, outside).  A few minutes later he entered, rounded the corner of his kitchen (where we could just capture each other’s face), and he made eye contact with Eli and with us.  A few steps later, without any “formal” verbage or greetings, all we could do was hug one another.  He hugged me, he hugged Angela, he hugged Eli.  Then it repeated a second time:  He hugged me, he hugged Angela, he hugged Eli.  And all through that process, the 3 of us (Jeremy, Angela & I) could only weep.  Not in sadness; not in dismay; not in fear.  It’s as if God sealed that moment in time and overshadowed it with unity and with love.  I know I felt it.  And then, all I could say was “Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you for the love shown toward Eli!”  This daddy felt a love for his son that was perhaps as deep and far-reaching as I have ever felt.  I try to capture it in the title of this blog: “Humility Redefined.”

So many are doing so much:  Jody, Sam, Linda, the teachers and staff at NES, the teachers and staff at NMS, Melissa, Lenee’, Curt, our entire Bridgeway Church Family, St. James UMC, Fat Fellas BBQ & Jeremy, Pop Warner Football (the Black Family and everyone else), Newport Basketball Association, Newport Fire Station, Newport Pig Pickin’, Hair Factory, other church bodies here in Carteret County and all over the east coast, Carteret General Hospital, servants and volunteers from all over, family & friends, businesses, etc.  Please know how grateful we truly are for the love that is the root of it all.  Know how grateful we are for the prayers and for the way you are shining Christ to our family.  You are loved much!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Porter (Eli’s daddy)

With a Kiss

If you are like me, you have probably at one time or another asked yourself:  “How is it possible that one of the disciples (Judas) could be that close and intimate with Jesus, and yet, betray Him?  And of all things, betray Him, the Master King Jesus, with a kiss? “

I have been in Matthew 25-28 here lately.  Studying it, reading it, looking at it from all angles.  But no matter how much I ponder and try to understand the “Benedict Arnold” of the 12 disciples, I find that the more I need God’s help in grasping it as a reality then, and reality today.  In fact, I believe sometimes we focus so much on this horrific choice of action by Judas that we overlook some very similar acts that are occurring around us. 

Now, this may be related to our sheer difficulty in fathoming how this disciple, who followed Jesus and heard His teaching, could be bought for a nominal amount of money.   The more I read the account and examine the Scriptures though, the more it becomes clear that sometimes we just minimize sin and the deadly and dangerous path that sin binds us to.  My finding is that it is not as much about Judas as it is about kicking sin to the curve and living each moment, of each day, for God. 

Judas rode the fence.  Judas wanted a little bit of this and a little bit of that.  For Judas – betraying Jesus with a kiss, would be his legacy.  When Jesus failed to meet his expectations and goals, Judas bailed out (i.e. jumped ship) and sought a way to get his expectations met.  In some way, of course, Judas realized this horrific error in the aftermath.

Today, there are fence-riders still.  But the key for us is to ensure we don’t fall into this category.  Sin will have its way with anyone if someone will let it in.  All it needs is a nook or a crease, and once sin is in, it will run rampant.  Soon, it will marginalize things and begin to destroy, decay, and dismantle.  Sin leads to death, make no mistake.  Today, people from all walks of life are deciding what is most important in life.  People willfully and unknowningly fall into traps.  Some are enticed while others are being deceived by gimmicks, gadgets, and creative marketing and advertising ploys.  But over and over again the NT states, pleas, and urges us to “not be deceived.”  Sin deceives.  Sin destroys.  Sin betrays.

I hate sin because I love God.  For me, I have come to that conclusion because sin breaks God’s heart and will.  I hate sin because its impact is felt, and seen, and experienced, in life.  It is crafty, hidden, worshipped, and marginalized.  I hate sin because “in Him there is no sin.”   It is o.k. for us, as God’s people, to despise the act of betrayal (or the act of any other sin).  That is healthy.  Betraying someone is but one form or action of sin – but it should be a reminder of the greater depth of what sin does and what sin leads to:  death.  The Gospel tells us that forgiveness in Christ is available to all who will believe, receive, and confess.  And in this forgiveness is God’s amazing grace, which surpasses (far surpasses) all sin and the sum total of sin.  Sure, there will be betrayers who never seek forgiveness, who will continue to betray, and who may even make it known and promote it.  In these instances, we pray earnestly and we continue to forgive – because that is exactly what God has done, in Christ, for us.

Paul reminds us:  “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  Yes, He died for you and for me.  Humbling isn’t it?  In the words of the songwriter:  “His love is a boundless love, that reaches down and touches me.”  Note the present tense action.  It’s not a  past, historical, long ago and far away memory; it is here and it is now.  May it be a current reality in our lives!  May we encounter and experience His cleansing power each and every day of our lives!

Love and joy to you, in Christ Jesus, our Lord,

Pastor Porter

What is Truth?

I can picture the scene.  Pilate standing there in a cloud of semi-arrogance.  Probably somewhere in his palace under the watch of Roman guards.  For that time period and culture, he was among the elite of the elite.  He was on top of the world, even though we know historically that he was a little undone about having the territory that included Jerusalem.  Yet, he had power and ability.  He was intelligent and effective.  He was wealthy and he was respected.  But for some reason, on this particular day, when this man named Jesus was dragged in before him, Pilate asked the question:  “What is truth?”

Today, as we read this account and look back over some 2,000 years of history since Pilate asked the God-man, we can be sure it one of the deepest philosophical questions that a man, or a woman, can ask.  For me personally, it is the deepest of the philosophical or religious questions – if you want to title it as such.  What is truth?  Or better yet, Who is truth? 

Pilate had a problem as he contemplated the question and the answer.  I am sure he thought, “These Jews keep bringing this man to be crucified, but I can’t find a reason to do it.  At the same time, I have to keep the peace in order to get promoted to a better territory.  If Caesar finds out these uproars between the Jews and Romans is systemic, I may be demoted or fired.”  I can almost see the battle raging in Pilate as I read the passage in the NT.  He was trying to find a path that would please everyone, honor Caesar, and catapult his own career.  Now, let me ask you one question (just one):  Does that sound familiar?

For 20 centuries, mankind has debated, argued, and sought further evidence for “truth.”  Some have to see it.  Others must receive continued reinforcement.  Experimentation.  Academia.  Knowledge.  Reason.  All are ways and means through which people seek and define “their” truth.  Like Pilate, for some it is purely relative.  We know this from multiple surveys, polls, and data that continually comes in from organizations that spend time and money to conduct scientific studies each year:  Barna, U.S. News & World Report, Pulpit & Pew, Gallop, etc.  Over the past 10, 20, and 30 year periods we know that truth has become more relative and less absolute.

On that day, when Jesus was before Pilate, it seems that Pilate was inquiring about absolute truth.  I get the feeling he was done with the same old, make it up as you go and feel, truth.  Pilate had Truth standing right beside him.  I sense that he knew that, and from the Word, I believe it is equally evident that he decided to do nothing about it that day.  He was interested to the point of asking Jesus, but unwilling to engage in actually receiving the Truth into his own life.  My, how that sounds familiar today.  It’s almost epidemic.  I can say that because I know from past experience what it is like to be hungry and thirsty on the inside while maintaining a lukewarm and distant acceptance of His Truth.  But we really only fool ourselves.  God is not a half truth and He doesn’t mandate a half-hearted response.  To Him, whether we like it or not, it is all or nothing.  He states:  “Be hot or cold” and “Decide this day who you will serve.” 

Philosophical theories of truth often attempt to answer the “nature question”:  What is the nature of truth?  Properly stated, it should be:  What is the nature of Jesus Christ?  People look to the stars or to textbooks and theories for truth, but they are focused on creation instead of the Creator.  Some look inside themselves to find truth, but given our sinful nature, that’s like looking in an oil drum for drinking water.  In the worst cases, people look toward unholy spirits for guidance.  There is no shortage of supply here.  But Jesus clearly said that He is “the truth,” not “a truth,” and followed it with “no man comes to the Father but by me.”  The question that trumps all questions is this:  Is Jesus Who He said He is – is He truth; or, is He merely a liar?  In my own life it is settled and determined:  He is Truth, and in Him is all Truth.

Paul warned all who believed (and would believe):  “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.” (Colossians 2:6-8).

Truth, according to the world, is relative or unobtainable.  That is why the pursuit continues, why new “religions” are processed, and why so many institutions seek answers to life’s deepest questions.  Jesus, however, is an absolute.  He is present and he is faithful.  He is the only way.  Any other “path” to truth leads to destruction and broken promises.  But when you know The Truth, He will set you free, and if the Son has set you free, you will be free indeed!

Be blessed in His Truth,