Monday, May 7, 2007


Someone asked me if it's more difficult to do a funeral for a stranger or for someone you know. I think it's actually easier to write a memorial service for someone you don't know very well (or not at all), but it's harder to deliver the message for someone you know well.

I performed a memoral serve yesterday for a man I really did not know. I had met him once about a month or so ago - he was dying and his family called and asked if I would do his service when the time came, and if so would I come see the family so I could meet him. I drove out to a nearby rest home and met this gentleman who, through the rapid onset of some physical problems, literally watched his life slip away over a period of four and a half months. When we met, his family told me some things about him (a stroke had left him with diffficulty in communicating, so they did most of the talking that day). I knew there were all sorts of things I could ask about this man - what he had done for a living, his likes and dislikes and what not - but I really wanted to know just one thing, so I asked him. "Do you know Jesus?" He nodded yes, and I said, "Thats all I really need to know about you - becasue now I know you're going to heaven when this life is over. When you walk those strets of gold, you'll have no more tears, no more pain, no more sickness..." And as I talked about all of that, he began to weep. THese were not tears of sorrow, but tears of joy.

We had a nice service for him yesterday. It was a beautiful sunlit Sunday afternoon, filled with the hope and assurance that he was now singing for the Lord in heaven. I'd been told he loved to sing, and it made me wonder if all his singing here on earth was just his way of practicing for all the singing he'd do in eternity.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Church Mice in the News

It seems the upcoming Church Mice episode of "American Bible Society Presents" has brought my name across the desk of more than one newspaper reporter. In the past week I have been interviewed by three different news organizations, and as of today have been featured in two of them, with the third running an article next week. Following are the articles from this week:

Wilmington Star-News
Whiteville News Reporter

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The New Preacher

The Methodist Church practices itinerancy - that is, pastors are not hired or fired by individual churches, they are appointed to a particular church for a particular season by the Bishop and a council of elders. Each June, throughout the NC Conference, some pastors will pack their belongings, bid farewell to their congregations, and head off in a moving van to become part of a new church family. As the van disappears around the corner, the old congregation waits and wonders, "Wonder what our new preacher will be like?"

I am happy to say that this year, my family and I are not moving. At least not as of today - this is the week we receive appointment phone calls, and it's now late Thursday afternoon so I think we can leave our packing boxes stored in the attic of the parsonage for at least twelve more months.

I did receive a letter today from the pastor of my home church, announcing that he is leaving for a new appointment. I mention him here today because he is the one who helped get me started in the ministry. It was under his pastoral care that I was confirmed at charge conference to enter the ministry of the Methodist Church, and it was under his leadership that I received my first appointment. The last Sunday I was in my home church was a beautiful service, and felt like a sending off or commissioning... I'll never forget that morning as long as I live.

Oh yeah, he also married Cheryl and I, and baptized Aspen. He's been an important part of my lfe. I wish him well in his new appointment, and I pray that those in his new flock realize what a good man they're getting to shepherd them.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Church Mice on TV

Back in January I was interviewed for a television series called "American Bible Society Presents." The episode with Church Mice will air April 22-28. The listing of stations and times that will carry the show can be found at

The guy from Associated Television suggested to check your local listings to make sure the time is correct.

Unfortunately, none of the local stations are carried by our satellite provider, and if I were to get a set of rabbit ears to try to pick it up it wouldn't do me any good either becasue I have a men's breakfast that morning. (Actually, I'm sure they would understand if I missed the breakfast). I will be receiving a DVD in the mail after the show has aired.

I would never have believed this in all my wildest dreams. God has been so good to me.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Maundy Thursday

This evening I held a special Maundy Thursday Communion Service at both of the churches I serve. At Lebanon, we had four people show up: Daphne, Harold, Mary and David. At Bethel, the turnout was not much better: Bill, Milton, Pam, Cathy, Ruth, Vernon and Betty Jo. But at both services, I spoke of how the small number allowed us to share an intimacy at the Lord's Table not possible with a large turnout. Instead of being nameless faces in a parade to the altar, we were a small band who came to the altar as individual sinners, but left as a family. On the way home, I realized that counting myself there were a total of twelve who took communion this evening. That's twelve individuals who took the bread and the cup... just like the twelve who gathered with Jesus for that Passover feast. Funny, I was disappointed with the turnout; but now I see that there was something special about the number who showed up. There were twelve of us. It gives me a new appreciation for the faces around that first table. We're all different - twelve unique individuals - just like the first twelve.

God works in mysterious ways.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Favorite Hymns

About twenty years ago I was a member of the White Memorial Presbyterian Church choir and our weekly Wednesday night rehearsal fell on Halloween. THe choir director asked everyone to come to rehearsal that night dressed as their favorite hymn. One woman came wearing her husband's clothes, stating that she was dressed as her favorite "him." Our choir director, a rather buttoned down fellow, walked in that night wearing a cardboard steeple on his head and a woman's bra overtop of a black turtleneck sweater and proceeded to lead the entire rehearsal dressed in this manner. Only at the end of rehearsal did he tell us his favorite hymn: "The Church's One Foundation."

As favorite hymns go, mine has to be "It Is Well with My Soul." It speaks to me of the true meaning of forgiveness:
My sin, oh the bliss of that glorious thought!
My sin, not in part, but the whole,
is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
prasie the Lord, praise the Lord, O My soul!

Jesus Christ died for my sins. On that day, He declared that I would no longer have to bear my sins. He said, "I'll take the burden from now on." I don't deserve His forgiveness, but I will gladly and humbly accept it. What a friend we have in Jesus!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Three Years of Aspen

Three years ago yesterday my daughter was born. Becoming a first-time father at 44, I was late in the parenting game, and I still find myself amazed that now at the age of 47 my life is filled with things like fixing Cinderella watches and watching "Barbie and the Twelve Dancing Princesses" on DVD. The most amazing thing, though, is watching what was a tiny little baby morph into this intelligent little person with her own personality and sense of wonder. In another ten weeks, she'll have a little sister, and I can be amazed all over again.

Chidren are indeed a gift from God.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Easter Cartoon

I know Easter is not for several more weeks, but I'm posting this cartoon in response to the "Easter Drawing Project" on Randy Glover's Chewing Pencils blog. (For those new to my blog site, this single panel is from my online cartoon Church Mice.)

Monday, March 5, 2007

Seeing the Big Picture

I am sitting here trying to put the pieces together at 4:40 in the morning... I received a healing during the night. Yesterday afternoon I began to get a sore throat around 6:00pm. I wasn't sure if I was coming down with something (I had been at the hospital quite a bit during the week) or if I had just strained my voice preaching yesterday. Yet as the evening progressed, I began to go quickly downhill. By around 10:30, I went to bed with a sore throat, very little voice, and chills.

During the night, I awoke on at least two occasions. The first around 2:15, and I felt like death warmed over. I got up with a very full bladder and went to the bathroom, which surprised me because I had very little to drink last night before I went to bed. As the night had been progressing, I kept feeling this sense of things coming to completion. Prayers being answered. Situations of unease being settled - all without any concern to their details. It was if I was receiving some big-picture assurance of things being in control and everything being taken care of.

I awoke a second time around 4:15 with my bladder once again ready to burst. And that same sense of "everything is always going to be okay."

I was also aware on several occasions during the night of another body in the bed. My wife has been sleeping in our daughter's room a lot these days, and with her pregnancy tends to have some transient sleep patterns. But at least one time last night I awoke, knowing she was in the bed, and then when I sat up, there was no one there.

Am I completely well this morning? No. Do I still have a sore throat? Yes, but it is significantly better. I sense that during the night my body was flushed of its toxins and made clean. God has given me a healing - this I truly believe.

But more important than that, I sense He gave me a message during the night: "You are never alone, and I am in control." I think He showed me that we get so hung up on details in our prayer requests, that we miss the big picture of just turning EVERYTHING over to Him. He is the one in control. And maybe He spent the night lying next to me in my suffering...

I wish I could better place into words what I learned during the night - what I experienced.

I also remember a still small voice telling me to "write all these things down," referring to the stuff I do and experience from day to day as a pastor. I hope that by doing so, like this morning, I won't forget the many times God personally reaches out and touches me.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Clipping Cartoons

I have an Andy Capp cartoon on the front of my refrigerator that I consider to be one of the funniest comic strips I have ever seen. When I first read it, I immediately cut it out and stuck it on the fridge. The cartoon has survived several moves, my first marriage, a divorce, and is still on my fridge almost five years into my second marriage. I looked at the cartoon tonight and realized it has been on my refrigerator for almost 23 years! Anyway, here's the cartoon...

...what really makes it work is the artwork in the last panel:

Folks, it doesn't get any better than this!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Inside References

Back in 1980, when I first came up with the "Joe Rat" comic strip, I included an inside reference in the first comic strip that was published. Prior to my drawing the cartoon, I told my best friend David that I would include a nod to "Boscoe" chocoloate drink, and in the final artwork the character was holding a glass in his hand with a straw sticking out of it. Twenty-seven years later, I've done the same thing again, once more for the benefit of the same individual, David, who's still my best friend. The reference this time is a nod to the old SCTV sketch comedy series - one of my and David's favorite shows back in the 1980s.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Preacher Man

I recently came across the following postcard on a website called Post Secret.
I've not yet decided what I think of it, but at times I can relate.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A Cartoon for Valentine's Day

"Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight…
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me…
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me…
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise."
(Psalm 51)

Monday, February 12, 2007


I saw this evening that Found Magazine is publishing a book of lost and/or discarded Polaroid photos that people have come across. Reading this, I was reminded of the time I met the late Red Skelton back in 1984 or 85. He was in Raleigh to do a show at Stewart Theater (or was it Thompson Theater?) at NCSU as part of their Center Stage Series. A friend of mine was a reporter for the Rocky Mount Telegram and invited me to come to the press conference as his "photographer." There were only about 8 or so people at the press conference, and the event turned into more of a visit between all of us and Mr. Skelton. At one point, the venerable comic asked all of us to stand together in a group so he could take a picture of us with his Polaroid camera. Once the picture came out, Red Skelton smiled and said, "Now, you're my friends, and I can put this with the other pictures of my friends." He then produced from his coat pocket a huge stack of Polaroid photos he had taken of his other "friends," and passed the photos around for us to see. It seemed odd to be holding a Polaroid of Queen Elizabeth, and another of Ronald Reagan... these are not folks you generally find in a Polaroid picture! But, needless to say, I was honored to now be a part of such an elite group of friends!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

"I Pray You Will Weep"

At the end of our second worship service this morning when I stepped out of the pulpit to do the benediction, I funny thing happened. I felt lead by God to say something I wouldn't normally have said. I looked at the congregation and said, "I pray you will weep." I was not wanting any sorrow to befall them, I was speaking in terms of praying that each of them would come to an acute awareness of their own brokenness. I was speaking in terms of each person coming to terms with what sin really means - to really grieve over our disobedience to God. As part of this morning's message, I read the words of David in Psalm 51: "Against you, you alone, I have sinned." Our disobedience breaks God's heart, and when we realize how much He loves us, shouldn't it break our heart too when we break His? Do we blow off our sins because we know God will forgive us, or are we truly sorrowful over the fact that we are fallen? Are we sorrowful enough that we would shed tears over our sins?

I pray you will weep.

Saturday, February 10, 2007


On January 25, a producer and film crew for the syndicated television program "American Bible Society Presents" interviewed me for an upcoming episdode. The interview went well, I suppose. But if I never have to sit under the bright lights any time soon again that will be okay with me. My office has an open area of about 8'x10', and in that space we had the following:
· 1 medium size tripod with a spotlight
· 1 medium size tripod with a boom microphone
· 1 huge tripod with a huge television camera (they told me the camera cost about $150,000)
· 1 television monitor
· 1 huge tripod with a 3'x3' square light
· sound equipment
· 1 man to operate the sound equipment
· 1 man to operate the camera
· 1 man to conduct the interview (plus a chair for him)
· me (with a chair as well)

Needless to say it was cramped in here. Once we got started, I was very nervous, and never really did get comfortable in front of the camera - funny thing, I speak in front of a hundred or more people every Sunday, but I was nervous speaking to three men and a camera. But when we were finished, the producer told me it went great. He said I gave them a lot of good stuff to work with.

The show will probably air sometime in March or April, the producer will let me know when and where, so I can post that information here and on the Church Mice website .

Now here's the kicker - this show is a syndicated television program. Way back when I first started Church Mice, I prayed that one day it would get syndicated. (Syndication is, after all, the Holy Grail for cartoonists). It dawned on me after the interview that God answered my prayer. I got syndication, just not the kind I had envisioned. Just goes to show, no prayer goes unanswered!

I am still having trouble believing all of this has actually happened. Someone from California flew out here to do an interview about Church Mice - it blows my mind... God has really blessed me.

P.S. For you 'toonists, get this - the camera operator was telling me he once worked on a project with Chuck Jones... how cool is that?

Church Mice and Me

I am a Methodist minister with an online cartoon ministry. Please check it out by clicking on the banner below:

Click here to visit Church Mice

God gave me the ability to draw, and I pray that these cartoons might help someone come to know God's grace. I spent the first half of my life running from those who would force Christianity down my throat, and so I am now attempting to use these cartoons as a way to present the message of God's love in a non-threatening way.

I am married to a wonderful woman who happens to be a professional clown. We have a beautiful daughter and are expecting our second child at the end of May.

Dipping My Toe in the Water

Thanks to a blog which was begun by a friend of mine, a fellow Christian Cartoonist in Kentucky, I've decided to begin one of my own. I don't know how many people will read it, but if you've found your way here I pray my ponderings might be a blessing to you in some manner.