Monday, November 26, 2012


On social networks this month, many have listed things they are thankful for each day. I decided to write a blog about it.

1. Most importantly, my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He's the reason I make it through life. I can not imagine life not serving Him.

2. My wife, Sasha. I am the first to admit that I married out of my league. She is an incredible wife, mom, teacher and person.

3. My girls, Mady and Mackenzie. They make me smile, laugh and are a true joy to me.

4. My family. I am especially thankful for my Godly heritage. So glad my parents raised me and my sister in church. I'm also thankful for the kindness my (other) family, Sasha's parents and family, show me.

5. My friends. I have a group of guys that are true friends and have been that way for years. You guys know who you are.

6. My church families, past and present. It is an honor to serve the great people of Northside. God has used every ministry stop to shape me in to the person I am today.

7. My Pastors - These are the men who have touched my life from childhood to now. BJ Smith, Paul Palser, Brent Williams (my youth pastor in high school), Tom and Scott Wilson, Dennis Land, Mickey Ellis, Kayln Brassfield and Jimmy White. I have learned so much from each of these Godly men.

What are you thankful for?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tribute to my Pawpaw, Billy R. Shipp

On April 9th of this year, my grandfather, Rev. Billy R. Shipp, went to be with The Lord.  I have debated about posting this. In the end, this is just for me and the family.  It is the transcript of the eulogy I gave at my Pawpaw's funeral.  I was honored to be able to share a few words about his life.

Pawpaw's Eulogy

Pawpaw was a character.  He loved to laugh and have a good time.

Last night, as I was walking around the visitation, I was listening to different ones of you talk about your memories of Pawpaw.  A couple of you reminded me of one of his favorite catch phrases.  Pawpaw used to carry around the biggest cups known to mankind.  I don't where he and Memaw would buy these things.  They had to be like 128 oz. cups.  If you said something about it.  He would just say "It takes a lot of water to keep this Shipp afloat."

If Pawpaw were here....he'd repeat that punch line several times until you were either laughing at the punch line or you were laughing at his enjoyment of telling his joke.  My oldest daughter, Mady, has a love for jokes and tells them just like Pawpaw.

When Pawpaw would come visit, he would hog the bathroom. For a normal man to get ready, it takes 20-30 minutes.  For Paw Paw, it took about an hour and a half.  I remember him using oil of olay on his face and as he applied it he just smile and "Son, one day you'll grow up and be big and pretty like you Papaw."

He spent hours making sure every hair was in place.  I was going to bring his hair care products to show today, but I didn't have a Uhaul truck.  When he grew his beard, he thought he looked like Kenny Rogers.  When we visited Memaw and Papaw in Panama, I remember one of the Panamanians running up to him in the Mall. They were holding a Kenny Rogers album and pointing to him and then Pawpaw.  They wanted an autograph.  Pawpaw signed it for them and put "kenny rogers looks just like me."

Pawpaw loved his grandkids and great grandkids.  While some grandparents would say "Come on over here and let Pawpaw give you some sugar."  Not Pawpaw, he would say Michelle, Brad, "Shurl lynn"  "Come on over here and let Pawpaw give you some Whisker Pie."

As many of you can attest to, Pawpaw was an incredible pulpiteer. If he heard something someone said that was good, he was say "I'm going to take that and preach it like it ought to be preached."

I remember him having to carry an extra dress shirt when he went to preach because he preached so hard that he would sweat through his undershirt and dress shirt.

Pawpaw left us a great legacy.  As we gathered around his bed Monday Night, there were several instances that reminded me of the legacy Pawpaw gave to us.

He left us a legacy of love.  1 John 4:7  states "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God." (1 John 4:7 NKJV) Pawpaw left us that legacy.  He wanted to make sure that we all knew that he loved us.

He left us a legacy of forgiveness. He made sure there was nothing between him and anyone that came in the room.

He left us a legacy of faith.  He preached, prayed and sang his way into eternity.

He would sing: Oh yes, oh yes, I'm a child of the King
His royal blood now flows in my veins
And I who was wretched and poor now can sing
Praise God Praise God I'm a child of the King.

Another time he sang "He's all I need.  He's all I need.  Jesus is all I need."

Still later we sang together "This world is not my home I'm just a passing through
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue
The angels beckon me from heaven's open door
And I can't feel at home in this world anymore

Oh Lord you know I have no friend like you
If heaven's not my home then Lord what will I do
The angels beckon me from heaven's open door
And I can't feel at home in this world anymore"

I watched as he took time to challenge different ones with their faith.  For me, he pulled his hand out of my hand and placed it on my arm and prayed for me one more time.  There never has been a time in my adult life that I can remember that Pawpaw didn't tell  me at some point while he was talking to me that he was praying for me.  I'm going to miss that the most.

The last song we could understand him singing....he mixed up some of the words, but the tune was was the old rugged cross.

"On a hill far away, stood an old rugged Cross
The emblem of suff'ring and shame
And I love that old Cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain

So I'll cherish the old rugged Cross
Till my trophies at last I lay down
I will cling to the old rugged Cross
And exchange it some day for a crown"

Pawpaw has exchanged that cross for a crown.  And judging by the way he lived and the way he died.  He has taking that crown and laid it at the feet of Jesus.

I know this for day those of us who know the Lord and live for him.....will see Pawpaw again..  We'll walk the streets of gold.  We'll worship the king of kings and the Lord of Lords.  We'll sit down together and eat at the marriage supper of the lamb.....where as memaw would say....we'lll have the best stuff we ever put in our mouth.

We love you Pawpaw and we'll see you again soon.

Monday, November 5, 2012

What's robbing your focus?

Yesterday was a typical Sunday morning for me.  I arrived at the church and went through my normal routine....walked through the building, turned on lights, adjusted the A/C, etc. After that comes worship practice at 8:30.  Then, I typically venture out to the foyer for a bottle of water. After that, I head over to the Kid's Check-in area to make sure the computer is ready and the workers have arrived.

At this moment, my normal routine changed. I was talking to one of the parents when I received a phone call from a Kid's worker.  Our powered mixer that controls the sound for the Kid's Church was acting up.  I immediately headed upstairs to the Kid's Church and walked into the door less than 30 minutes before service.  After looking at the board and making sure that everything was plugged in right, I realized something major was wrong. I called our sound guy who is incredible at these things.  The two of us had installed this system and I figured two heads were better than one.  While he worked on diagnosing the problem, I worked on Plan B...another powered mixer that our college ministry had used. Plan B was set in motion and I walked into the green room just in time to pray with the worship team before we headed out.

I went from focused on building relationships and leading people into worship to crisis management (ok, that may be a bit too much hyperbole, but I assure you it was a crisis to our Kid's workers who needed the sound for their curriculum and worship songs). The lesson is there are things that rob your focus. Some of these things are good unexpected call from a friend or family member, etc. Other things are negative, like a crisis or situation that must be handled.  At the end of the day, we control our minds. We control what we allow to steal our focus from where it needs to be.

This can also happen in our spiritual life. Hebrews reminds us to keep our focus on Jesus. Hebrews 12:1-2 (NLT) states, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.[a] Because of the joy[b] awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne." 

My challenge to you today is keep your focus on Jesus and strip off the things that are robbing you of your focus and the sin that will trip you up.