Tag Archives: Charleston

Crawling Through the Charleston, S.C. Coffee Scene

Let me begin by saying that the Charleston, S.C. coffee scene is ALIVE and WELL!
Keep reading to discover why!

Vacation

I can’t tell you about the coffee in Charleston without first telling you about what got all this started. Last week we went to Charleston to see our oldest daughter and son-in-law (Alicia and Josh), and, of course, our first grand-baby, Emma Louise.

Emma Lou and Me (I don’t know why she looked worried)

We had a wonderful time staying with Alicia and Josh and Emma, but what made it great was that Emma puked on everyone else but me! YAY me!

We were there from Sunday night till Saturday afternoon, and I had plenty of time to read, study, and eat shrimp and grits. But during our visit I thought it would be great to spend some quality time with my youngest, Haley, who is also a coffee lover. Therefore, I came up with the idea to visit at least 10 (we ended up with around 14, I think) of the “best” coffee shops in the Charleston area.

Backstory… A few years ago a day came when I had to visit four (4) funerals in one day. Being the dutiful PK (preacher’s kid), Haley went along with me. So, in order to put the “fun” in funeral (sorry), we came up with a contest – which funeral home had the best coffee? So, now you know why this idea for a Coffee Crawl through Charleston didn’t seem that crazy.

The Plan

The plan was simple: Go visit at least 10 (ended up with 14) coffee shops in the Charleston area, primarily in the downtown area where they’d be closer together. One reason for keeping it close to the downtown area was the time involved: I wanted to do this quickly, hopefully in one day. The other reason was that I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on gas!

Since I only knew of one coffee shop in the area, the one where my son-in-law buys all his coffee, I did a quick Google search. From that I was able to pull a list of the most recommended establishments and their locations, and from that I developed an agenda.

Unfortunately, the best-laid plans are always subject to unplanned events. So, when 4 inches of rain fell in a few hours and the alternator on my car died (which Josh and I had to replace), the Charleston Coffee Crawl got spread out to a total, including the final visit to buy a bag of beans, of four days! In the video I made I only mention two days, but I wasn’t trying to mislead.

Below you will find a list (in order of our visit, not ranking) of every coffee shop, cafe, and roaster we visited, along with what we thought about each one. There will also be links to their websites and such in the reviews so that you can find out more about them and hopefully pay them a visit 🙂

1. The Orange Spot

From Haley’s Instagram 🙂

1101 East Montague Avenue, North Charleston, South Carolina 29405

The Orange Spot was the first place we visited. If I had gotten the hang of things a little earlier, I would have done some video there, but I didn’t. Nevertheless, Haley and I really liked the little place. The atmosphere was inviting and casual (as most places are), and evidently a great place to hang out – we couldn’t even find a seat!

Jenny was the lady we spoke with, and she was the first to hear our idea for the coffee crawl. We asked for a sample of their regular coffee – the already-brewed kind – and she was happy to oblige. When we tasted it, I thought it had a hint of citrus and a slight acidity; Haley thought it was bitter. I did think it had a smooth finish, however. Jenny said that she likes it a little “zippy.”

The Orange Spot wasn’t exactly in downtown Charleston, but we decided to drive through North Charleston on the way from where we were staying with family.

Overall: Good coffee. If I lived in North Charleston, I’d definitely go back.

2. Mercantile and Mash – Gourmet Foods Emporium

701 East Bay Street, Charleston, SC 29403

Mercantile and Mash is located in a “recently renovated cigar factory,” and it was our next stop on the crawl. We were nearly blown away by the merchandise of this mercantile, so it took a little longer than we planned as we strolled around. Unlike any of the other coffee shops, this place actually had a meat shop! I mean, they sold gourmet cuts of meats, not your average hamburger.

Not a dedicated coffee shop, Mercantile and Mash is also known for its adult beverages, specifically the kind with a little more kick than caffeine. However, even though coffee wasn’t the big seller, the folks behind the counter were happy to talk and offer advice.

They were the first to offer us samples of coffee in actual espresso cups, and that set a new standard for the rest of the crawl. And as for the coffee, I thought their basic black coffee was excellent. Haley said, “This is some of the best black coffee I’ve ever had!” It was light, low in acidity, but rich in flavor.

Overall: Great place. Great atmosphere. Lots and lots of seating with room for computers or books. LOTS of stuff besides coffee. Dustin served us, and he was originally from Tennessee 🙂

3. The Daily

Coffee samples at The Daily

652-B King Street, Charleston, SC 29403

The Daily was a hoppin place! I’m talking busy! After getting our samples, along with a wonderfully-moist and tasty lemon cake-like-thing, I proclaimed that the basic coffee they gave us was the best-tasting coffee so far – and it ended up being my favorite of the whole trip. They offered a blend roasted by Springbok Coffee Roasters (affiliated with Kudu Coffee) called “Butcher and Bean.”

Interesting note: Come to find out, several of the coffee shops that didn’t roast their own coffee used Springbok Coffee Roasters beans or specialized blends (like the “Restoration Blend” made for the hotel in which The Rise coffee shop is located).

Overall: Wonderful place. Fast-paced initial atmosphere, but plenty of room to sit, chill, and sip a fantastic cup of coffee.

4. Babas On Cannon

11 Cannon Street, Charleston, SC 29403

The rain really put a damper on our tour of Charleston, and as you can see in the video I’ve attached, many roads were actually closed! However, as we were driving out after leaving The Daily, a random turn led us right by Babas on Cannon. Here we thought we were done for the day, but the next thing we knew we were in unique coffee heaven.

Go to their website (linked above) and you will find that Babas is not your average coffee shop. As a matter of fact, the barista who helped us that day (I never got his name, but his photo is in the video) was the most hospitable, proud-of-what-they-offered kind of guy we met! Not only did he gleefully agree to give us samples of their regular coffee, he practically pleaded with us to let him make for us two other drinks to try! One was a tall, cold, shaken coffee that was as smooth as water; the other was a shaken, cold, foamy espresso that left Haley and I speechless – except for “wow.”

Overall: Totally unique. Great coffee and service. Very hospitable. Quaint.

5. The Rise Coffee Bar

75 Wentworth St, Charleston, South Carolina 29401

The Rise was the only coffee shop that we visited that was attached to a hotel. By comparison, the Rise was small. It really didn’t offer too much by way of coffee options, options for food, or even merchandise to take home to the waiting family. No, The Rise was simply a place to get a good cup of coffee made with beans specially roasted by the Springbok folk.

As strange as it may sound, two things made our stop at The Rise memorable: the marble counter and the reading room. Well, I don’t know if the counter where we sat was actual marble, but it was certainly nice! But it was the suggestion from the barista to walk through a door into the library and reading lounge of The Restoration (a hotel) that made all the difference.

I’ll be honest, it was really funny when I stepped out of the men’s room at The Restoration and was met with “What did your bathroom look like? Was it nice?” Haley was totally impressed with the ladies’ restroom, so much so that she had to show it to me…and it was fancier than the men’s – just saying.

Overall: The Rise is a good place to pick up a cup of coffee as you’re passing through to see the sights, read a book in the library, or before you visit the swanky restrooms. Oh, and sitting at the white marble bar asking strangers what they think about it is fun, too 🙂

6. Second State Coffee

70.5 Beaufain St. Charleston SC 29401

Second State Coffee was the first one of the coffee shops that we visited while walking around downtown Charleston. And let me just say that doing the walking tour of coffee bars is totally worth it. I mean, it’s not just the coffee that makes the walking worth it; it’s the sights you see along the way, especially the ones you miss while driving, that add to the experience.

My first impressions of Second State were that it was very friendly, cute, bright, and lively. Those might not be words you’d choose, but surely charming and inviting might be. I just loved the look of the old place from the outside, then fell more in love as soon as I opened the door.

Second State serves their own roasted coffee blends, and the day we visited they served us an Ethiopian blend that had a “sour” tang to it, was a little acidic, but needed no creamer, that’s for sure. Ethiopian blends are not my personal favorite, but this one was nice. Haley said it “wasn’t her favorite.”

Overall: This is the kind of place where college students and professors alike come to sit, compute on their MacBooks, and enjoy a good cup of coffee prepared by people who care about what they do. I’d go back in a heartbeat.

7. City Lights Coffee

141 Market St, Charleston, South Carolina 29401

When I think of a “bar,” coffee is not the first thing that comes to mind. What comes to mind is either a smoky dive where unhappy people consume beverages meant to numb their pain, or the stereotypical “Cheers” place where everybody knows your name. City Lights Coffee had an atmosphere a lot like the latter.

I’m not  joking when I say this, but “character” was the first word that came to mind when I walked into City Lights Coffee. And I’m not exaggerating when I say that the girl who served us seemed more like a sympathetic bartender than someone who works at a coffee bar. The next time you lose your job, or should your wife leave you for a millionaire, instead of getting drunk at some dive, pay a visit to City Lights – the coffee will do you good 🙂

Overall: I really liked this little place. Keep in mind, it’s not a place you drive to, park, and then go inside. There is literally NO parking; you have to walk to it. They served an Ethiopian roast that Haley actually liked.

8. Bitty & Beau’s Coffee

159 Church Street, Charleston, SC 28403

I’m going to be totally honest with you on this one – you really need to visit Bitty & Beau’s, whether you like coffee, or not.

Bitty & Beau’s is not famous for its coffee, but for those who are employed to serve it to you. This company has three locations, but we, of course, went to the one in Charleston. However, at all three locations Bitty & Beau’s hires people who are intellectually challenged or were born with Down Syndrome. This, alone, will make your day. The coffee is just icing on the cake!

Overall: Honestly, the coffee was good, but had it been through-the-roof great I wouldn’t have noticed. The joy I received from watching people do their jobs with such enthusiasm and pride; being reminded as I stood in line that even though the world sees a disability, those with Down Syndrome are #notbroken; the visit alone made the coffee worth it.

9. Caviar and Bananas

51 George St, Charleston, SC 29401

Honesty is the best policy, right? Well, if so, I must tell you the truth about Caviar and Bananas: It’s NOT a coffee bar.

Maybe it was all about other things, but we were really looking forward to visiting this establishment. My son-in-law’s brother made a big deal of the place and told us we “had” to put it on our list. I mean, if “caviar” is in the name, why not? But it was not too long after we walked in that we were disappointed with the lack of “coffee shop” atmosphere. Oh, don’t get me wrong! The place was pretty nice and hip – it was like a scaled-down Whole Foods store meant for a college campus crowd, but it had little charm.

Here’s probably the biggest difference between Caviar and Bananas: the counter staff. Haley and I both felt no love from the people who served us – to them we were just another customer. Basically, the people that work there seem to do a good job, but they aren’t there because they’re passionate about coffee.

Overall: This is a great place to stop for a quick sandwich or salad, some pastries, a cold beer, a cup of coffee, and then get on about your day. It’s not a place to bring your laptop and sit while you enjoy an espresso.

10. Tricera Coffee

41 George St, Charleston, SC 29401

If you want to visit a cute little coffee bar that pays homage to one particular extinct dinosaur, look no further than Tricera Coffee. As a matter of fact, all you have to do is walk out of Caviar and Bananas and turn right – it’s not even a stone’s throw away! Ironically, I asked a couple of ladies who were grabbing a bite to eat with their kids at Caviar and Bananas if they’d ever been to Tricera Coffee. Neither one had heard of the place, even though both had lived in the area for 3 years! Seriously?

Anyway, there is a whole triceratops theme going on at this place, and it’s pretty cute. As a matter of fact, if you want a good laugh, make sure you go to Tricera Coffee’s website and look at the pictures.

Overall: The coffee was acceptable, but not the best. Maybe it was just the roast they had that day. Haley thought it tasted like “mud.” I thought that was too harsh of a comparison. It might have not been my favorite coffee, but it was nice and had a sweet finish.

11. Kudu Coffee & Craft Beer

4 Vanderhorst St, Charleston, SC 29403

Kudu Coffee was the only coffee establishment that was recommended to us by at least four other coffee shops. Literally, at least three other baristas asked, “Have you been to Kudu’s, yet?” I mean, if the other coffee shops are telling you to go there, what else do you do?

Kudu Coffee and Springbok Roasters were both started by the same South Africans. Actually, the names Kudu and Springbok come from the names of South African animals – the long-horned antelope type. Therefore, there is a horn theme to some of their logos and decoration. When we found out about the animal names it all made sense.

On the day that we visited Kudu, we were treated with a creation by the local award-winning barista who made a pretty cappuccino for us (you can watch it in the video I made).

On a funny note: Right across the street from Kudu’s is the offices of an evangelical Lutheran church. I told Haley that I’d bet a dollar the staff of the church drinks more than coffee when they step over for meetings 😉

Overall: Some parking on the street. Plenty of sitting room inside, plus a beautiful and spacious coffee/beer garden outside. And since the other coffee shops recommended this place so much, it really doesn’t matter what I think the coffee tastes like, right?

12. Broom Wagon

1630 Ashley Hall Rd, Charleston, SC 29407

Let me share with you the exact words I wrote in my notebook just seconds after walking through the doors of Broom Wagon, a coffee shop that wasn’t even on our initial list until it was also recommended by other coffee shop owners: “Pretty, lively, happy, fresh, upbeat music.”

Broom Wagon was not on our initial list, but it was recommended…and it was on the way back from downtown Charleston to the Ashley River area. So, even though we were running out of time that day, I convinced Haley we should stop. We were both glad we did.

John was the one who served us that day, and let me just say that he was full of energy, enthusiastic, and happy to share his knowledge about coffee with us newbies.

Overall: Like I implied  earlier, this is a happy-feeling place with plenty of parking, easy access, and a super friendly, knowledgeable staff. Oh, and the coffee was great, too! The only place that served us nitrogen-infused coffee and took the time to explain it. I’d like to go back.

13. Highfalutin Coffee Roasters

27 Magnolia Rd, Charleston, SC 29407

Here’s a neat article that describes what Highfalutin is all about (since they don’t have a regular website).

If there was an overall favorite with Haley, this was it. I can’t blame her. There was just something about this place that struck a chord with us, and maybe it’s because at Highfalutin Coffee Roasters the main thing is not pastries, ambiance, or craft beer – it’s the art of fine coffee. And we’re not talking about sugary, syrupy, froo-froo concoctions people who don’t like coffee drink in order to make believe they like coffee, either. This place just makes dang good coffee.

When we first walked up to the counter, Haley asked the owner and founder Adam Hunt the following question: “We’d just like to try a sample of your regular coffee.” Adam replied with: “There’s just one problem with what you’re asking. We don’t serve regular coffee; we serve exceptional coffee.”

So, what did he offer us? A small batch from Burundi that he’d imported in an effort to help encourage the quality of the coffee growers there. His description: “Sweet with big fruit acidity and creamy mouthfeel; chocolate, sugar cane, lavender and grapefruit flavors.” Dude, all I can say is that the man knows his stuff and is serious about coffee – and you can taste the difference.

Overall: One of the top 3 coffee shops in all of Charleston. Plenty of sitting area inside and out. Parking could be better, but oh well. The only place we went to where there was live music – and that was good, too!

14. Charleston Coffee Exchange

2875 Ashley River Road, Suite 1, Charleston, SC 29414

This is the place where my son-in-law buys all his coffee. Literally, it’s only a mile or two down the road from his house, so that’s a contributing factor. However, like I told my youngest, no other coffee place smells as nice as this one when you walk in the door. Part of the reason could be the 20 or so bags of coffee sitting out in the open!

Charleston Coffee Exchange is certainly the place to go if you want to buy a good cup of coffee and take home with you a bag of coffee beans. The choices leave little to be desired.

Overall: Really good coffee by the cup. Not as personable as some of the other coffee bars, but still friendly. Plenty of parking and room to sit for a while. In a shopping area, so a little more fast-paced and less-likely to see more than one or two people chilling and chatting.

Conclusion

After all was said and done, even after visiting the most wonderful coffee shops around, the best part of the Charleston Coffee Crawl was spending time with my beautiful daughter, Haley Brianna.

Take the time to do something fun and inexpensive like this with someone you love, especially over a cup of good coffee 🙂

Watch the video I made on my iPhone!

 

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Resting and Reading

I’m not going to be posting much by way of original stuff this week – I don’t think (one never knows when he will be inspired). I’m spending my time with our daughter and son-in-law and our new granddaughter in Charleston, SC.

But aside from the visiting, I’m spending a lot of time in resting and reading. No TV. No amusement rides. Maybe a little time today at the gun range with my youngest, Haley, but mostly a lot of time reading and studying.

Reading: The Art & Craft of Biblical Preaching.

Studying: The Bible, specifically the book of Ephesians and John 3:16.

So, if you don’t hear much from me this week, understand that I’m retooling, refreshing, rearming, recharging in one of the most beautiful and historic cities in America.

And I’m sure there’ll be a bowl of shrimp and grits in my future 🙂

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Filed under Bible Study, blogging, Family, places, Preaching, Vacation

It’s Just an Alligator, Move Along

Remembering the Trip

Like I said all last week, my family (most of us) made the nearly 8-hour drive down to Charleston, S.C. to visit with our daughter Alicia and her husband Josh. We had a good time.

But one thing I noticed just blew me away: The casual attitude toward alligators in one’s backyard!

Seriously, my daughter lives in a fairly upscale neighborhood, not in a swamp. Yet, because it’s South Carolina, and because there’s lots of water in various places, the swamp critters have become accustomed to the upwardly mobile millennials. I guess they’re more afraid of the reality show crowd than the realtors.

So, as you can see from the picture below, it is not uncommon for the people in Alicia and Josh’s neighborhood to sit out and watch living cowboy boots and purses sun in their backyards. You can also tell by the quality of the picture that we decided to keep our distance.

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Too Common

When we see things too often they become mundane. In the beginning one might scream, “There’s an alligator in our yard!!” Then, after only a few mortgage payments, one ends up telling her guests, “It’s just an alligator, Mom.”

Unfortunately, the way we view sin can be the same way. At first it shocks us and we cry out in disgust, “Did you see that??” But then a little later, after a few seasons… after a few dates… or after a few drinks, cries of shock morph into indignant apathy, “It’s just the way things are! Jeez! Quit being so dramatic.”

“And even as they did not like to retain God in [their] knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;” – Romans 1:28

“Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.” – Ephesians 4:19

“…having their conscience seared with a hot iron…” 1 Timothy 4:2b

The danger of growing too accustomed to sin is that God will turn us over to it and let us be destroyed by what we have come to believe is harmless.

Be forewarned…an alligator is an alligator, and sin is still sin; both will bite in the end.

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Spring Break Slide Show

The Story

Over the last few Saturdays I’ve shared my thoughts about the “selahs” in the Psalms. More will come in the weeks to follow. But for today I want to change pace.

This past week my wife and I, along with Haley, Freaya (our exchange student), and Jack (Haley’s dog) traveled to Charleston, S.C. to spend sometime with our daughter and son-in-law, Alicia and Josh. So, instead of writing a traditional post, I’m going to share some highlights with pictures.

Worth a Thousand Words, or so

 

For most of the trip I was driving eastward into the sun. smart me brought my sun glasses.

 

Cold and windy…no hat or jacket. But hey, it was the beach.

See Haley and Jack. See Jack smile. Don’t see Freaya (because Korean culture has some serious vanity issues).

 

See Haley try to convince Jack to go into the water. See Jack say, “Not even for a Scooby snack.”

What a beautiful place to worship!

The Angel Oak tree. One of the cool places one can visit for free.

 

Part of our family tree under a tree. The photo was taken by a nice girl from New Jersey. i returned the favor.

If you are going to visit a tree, why not visit the restaurant?

This was a really neat place. Low country charm.

 

It’s been a while since I’ve done food stories, but the food at Angel Oak was superb. Here I ordered their take on Shrimp and Grits, with sweet tea and a side of collard greens. Fantastic.


 

The faithful steed. Oil changed and new wipers. Outside washed. Ready to say goodbye to the palm trees, Fred Anderson Toyota, and Charleston, S.C. Tennesse here we come!

 
Not pictured are late-night card games, going to a movie, visiting a wonderful Bible study, and getting the oil changed in our van before heading home (correction: I just added the Saturday morning oil change). By the way, Fred Anderson Toyota in Charleston is a great place to buy a car. 

Instead of a sunburn, I got some relaxing study time in while on this break. Now I’m just looking forward to preaching on Sunday!

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Meant for Evil, Turned to Praise

A Second Visit

photo 1 (3)Several weeks ago I wrote about visiting Charleston, S.C. While we were there on the first of a couple of short vacations I took the time to go pray on the front steps of Emanuel A.M.E. Church, the church where 9 people, including the pastor, were shot and killed by a young gunman.

Then, a few weeks later a terrorist opened fire here in my city of Chattanooga. All of a sudden we had much more in common with Charleston than we wanted. Both cities were rocked by acts of senseless hatred.

So, the next time we went back to Charleston, I had to do more than go to the front steps of Emanuel A.M.E.; I wanted to worship inside. Once I made a phone call to confirm service times and other specifics, that’s what we did. I’d like to share what we experienced.

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But First…

Before I go any further, I have a couple of things to make clear. First, I am going to be very candid with my thoughts. Please, if anything I say offends or comes across as racist, insensitive, or in bad taste, believe me, that is not my intention. All I want to do is share my honest opinion on several things.

Second, a couple of you have suggested (rather lightheartedly) that I have become “ecumenical” by attending a non-Baptist church. Believe me, if that is what you truly believe, then you need to go back to seminary and do some more research; I am not an ecumenicalist. The problem is that for far too long a lot of fellowship with Family has been missed all because of some of you folk’s interpretation of the “Doctrine of Separation.” You guys need to get out more.

My Observations (in no particular order)

White vs. Black. Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat, OK? Yes, there are a lot of differences between the way most white people and most black people conduct their church services. That shouldn’t be a shocker. Therefore, what my daughters and I observed at Emanuel A.M.E. might well be common in other black congregations, too; I don’t know. What I do know is that every black church I have ever attended, including this one, had the following in common: fans in the pews, ushers with white gloves, and a complete disregard for getting out by noon.

Face it, if you want to get to the Sunday lunch buffet before the crowd, your best bet is to attend a liberal white church, not a shouting Baptist one, and definitely not any black church. As a matter of fact, I think they quit serving lunch by the time Emanuel A.M.E. let out (the service went from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.!).

No Praise and Worship Choruses. Don’t get me wrong, I totally enjoy listening to Chris Tomlin, Hillsong, Keith and Kristyn Getty, etc. But from the beginning instrumental to the closing hymn, all the songs played or sung were old stuff – some even older than what Independent Baptists sing 😉 Seriously, there was not one praise and worship song during the whole service! Why is this amazing to me?

The reason I was stunned by the fact that there were none of the typical praise and worship hymns or choruses, not even a praise band, was that those people were bringing down the house! They were shouting! For crying out loud, it’s the words, not the music, that should make us want to praise God! And, if your heart is already pre-disposed to worship, it really doesn’t matter if the music is being played on a keyboard or a pipe organ.

The Choir In the Back. It may be nothing new to some of you, but it’s not often the choir, along with all the instruments, are in the back of the church where they can’t be seen. Unlike what television usually portrays, at Emanuel there was no stereotypical robed choir doing choreographed dance moves to shallow, show-worthy tunes. No one got to stare at a soloist, either. All the music came from the balcony in the rear of the church as the congregation faced forward. Imagine that!

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Not One Mention of Race. Last year one of my girls attended a local black Baptist church. She and a friend went three separate times, and in each one she was made to feel like an outsider, even though it was a “place for every race.” On three separate occasions race issues were mentioned more than the Gospel. That was not the case at Emanuel A.M.E., at least not that Sunday.

I understand that the historical and cultural context of African-American churches is complicated. Good grief, how many of our white churches would have stayed together during the Civil War had we been forced to meet underground? That being said, the same daughter who left the other black church in tears of regret left this one with tears of joy. She said, “This is what I hoped that other church would have been like – I felt totally welcome!”

Roped In During the Preaching. Believe me, I have been in a lot of churches over my 48 years of life. Few of them came close to Emanuel A.M.E. in the sense of reverence shown to the time of worship, especially toward the reading and preaching of the Word of God. I have been in more than a few “Bible-believing” churches that allowed people to get up and go to the bathroom, grab a snack, even go out for a smoke during the service, even the preaching. Not this church!

Believe it or not, right as the pastor was walking up to the pulpit to preach, ushers were walking down the aisles hanging up velvet theater ropes! If I remember correctly, up and down each of the main aisles there were at least three two-inch thick ropes strung across to prevent people from moving around. In other words, when the preaching started at this church, you sat down and listened! I am going to suggest those in our next business meeting 😉

Invitation First. You know, why do we always wait till the end of a church service to give an altar call? Seriously? Why not start off with one? These people did, and it lasted for about 10-15 minutes!

Oh, and it was no “let’s just gather down here and pray – Bro. Smith, would you start?” type of altar call. No, it was a come-get-your-heart-right-and-pray-for-others kind of altar call. The pastor even said, “When the altar fills up, don’t stop coming; just fill the aisles.” And they did! How many of our white, Baptist, or whatever church services would be transformed if an invitation was given to start?

Powerful Preaching. Some of you – you know who you are – think black preachers are shallow, only preach to music, and are more about theatrics than theology. Well, if you’re referring to what you typically see in the movies or on television, then you’d be correct – that’s Hollywood. The preaching I heard at Emanuel A.M.E. that Sunday was deep and meaty stuff. Oh, it was loud and exciting in that kind of way, but it was much more.

In a sermon entitled “When Tragedy Comes to Your House,” the pastor appealed to doctrine – yes, doctrine – as the source of comfort when all around gives sway. There was none of that “best life now” stuff; it was the Word of God dug out of Job and Hezekiah. The pastor said when tragedy comes, so many ask, “Where is God?” “But for the Christian,” he said, “that’s when you fall back on the doctrines you know to be true! That’s where you get your comfort!” With a voice growing louder and stronger the pastor shouted, “I believe if God the Father, Creator of heaven and earth, and Jesus Christ His Son…”

Real preaching is the kind of stuff that gives us truth to hold on to when tragedy strikes. That’s the kind of preaching this church has evidently been used to, for they turned to Jesus when tragedy came to their home.

Calling for a Commitment. One day I may actually do this. After the end of the main service, the pastor did something I have never seen done before: he asked for 50 people to come forward if they would commit to come to Wednesday night Bible study. At first he asked for 100, but then scaled it back (even he was realistic). Once they came forward, then he had the church pray for them, that they would not only make it to the service, but that they would learn from God’s Word. Amazing, eh?

But stop for a moment and think about it. It was on at a Wednesday night Bible study that the former pastor and eight congregants were murdered. Would you have been one of those 50? Why not?

Communion. We got to take part in their communion service, too. Each pew was led down to the front (those who wanted to go), then asked to kneel and pray. After everyone had knelt and briefly prayed, a wafer was placed in their hands, then a little cup of juice was given. After the elements were consumed, a minister asked all to rise and go in grace.

I was actually expecting wine, but it was Welch’s. Go figure.

I Got to Speak. Believe it or not, I was actually able to speak to the congregation of Emanuel A.M.E. for just a moment. In actuality, several people had already gone up to speak, such as representatives of family reunions that were present, a couple of local dignitaries being honored for their part in helping the church through the days of crisis, and a guest minister. It was only after I tapped the shoulder of a man in front of me and asked, “How could I get an opportunity to speak?”

Immediately the man I tapped on the shoulder tapped another man to his left and said, “Take this man to the pastor; he has something to say.” “Now?” I asked. “Yeah, go on up there! He’ll take ya’.”

That’s how it happened. I went up and stood in front until the pastor gave me the microphone. At that point I shared greetings from Chattanooga and Riverside Baptist Church. I also thanked them for the example they set for the rest of the country. They gave me a bunch of “amen’s” and a warm round of applause. Later, several members came up to me and thanked us for coming and for the words I shared. Haley was amazed and said, “Wow, they must have actually listened to you – they even remembered your name!”

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God Meant It for Good. If there was nothing else, the most incredible sensation I got from visiting Emanuel A.M.E. was the feeling of God winning and the Devil losing. Hallelujah!

You see, the enemy of God thought he could break a church and burn a community by having some misguided young punk come in and kill the pastor and some church members. What Satan miscalculated was the sincere faith in Christ the wounded families had. He underestimated the fortitude of a congregation that had endured many more tragedies. He underestimated, once again, the ability of a Sovereign Lord who can take the worst the devil can dish out and turn it into good.

Literally, what we saw in Charleston was undeniable evidence that God can turn what was meant for evil into joyous worship and praise. Emanuel A.M.E. is the proof.

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Filed under Christian Unity, current events, Faith, General Observations, Life/Death, places, worship

De Nyew Testament 

Once again I am composing a post upon my old iPhone (would someone set up a GoFundAnthony account and buy me an iPhone 6?). 

I’m sitting in a school bus, under a bridge, all alone, after dropping off a bunch of kids on a summer field trip. They are riding the Riverboat while I sit here waiting. But, it’s a great opportunity to read and study. 

Anyway

One of the treasures I picked up the last time I was in Charleston was a new Bible. But this Bible is a little different – no, it’s a LOT different – from others I have: it’s in a different language! And I am reading it! 

De Nyew Testament is a translation of the New Testament into the Gullah language. No, it’s not a paraphrase or a for-fun parody of the KJV; it’s a literal translation of the NT into a genuine language. Gullah (also known as Geechee or Sea Island Creole) is a language “traditionally spoken along the coastal area of South Carolina and Georgia.” 

According to the preface, it took more than 25 years for folks from Wycliffe Bible Translators and the American Bible Society to pull this translation together. And let me tell you something: it’s worth getting. 

If you are a fluent reader of English, then you can read Gullah. It will take some practice, but you’ll get used to it and start to pick up on its rhythm. 

So, here I was under a bridge, in a school bus, next to the riverfront, reading a little from the Gullah version of the NT, when tears filled my eyes. And because of that, I wanted to write this post so I could share with you the particular verse of Scripture that got me. Read it through a few times, then let me know if it blessed you the way it blessed me 🙂 

“Look yah! We oughta study pon how de Fada da bless we wid e lob! E da lob we sommuch dat e call we e own chullun, an we e chullun fa true. People ob de wol ain been know who God da, an cause ob dat, dey ain know we.” 1 John 3:1 (Gullah)

“Look yah!” We ought to be studyin’ about how the Father has done blessed us with His love! Glory be to God! 

   

 

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Filed under Bible Study, blogging, book review, God, translations, Uncategorized, worship

Visiting Charleston (Part 3)

History

One thing is for sure, Charleston is full of history. The harbor is full of stories dating back long before the Civil War, even before the Revolution. Battery Point (White Point Garden) has beautiful, massive homes still in use that were built before this country was even a nation! Pictures don’t do this place justice.

Then, of course, there are places like Fort Sumter (where the Civil War began), Patriots Point (home of the USS Yorktown), the Charleston City Market, the H. L. Hunley Museum (the world’s first successful combat submarine), and even The Confederate Museum.

Confederate Controversy

Speaking of the Confederacy, my youngest and I took a few minutes and toured the small Confederate Museum in Market Hall. Originally a place where business was conducted, in 1899 this building was turned into a museum by those who actually fought for Charleston during the Civil War, thereby making the museum historic in its own right.

photo (57)Some of you reading this may have felt uneasy going into the Confederate Museum, and that is unfortunate. So much has been done since the shooting at Emanuel A.M.E Church to sponge away any remnant or reminder of Confederate history, yet what happened back in the 1860’s is part of the fabric of our nation. Much honor is to be found in the stories of the brave young men who fought for their homeland.

Back when there were no cell phones, television, or internet, the average young man’s world was a small one, limited to just a few miles in any direction from the very place he was born. All he would have known; all the people he would have known; everything pertinent to his universe would have been right there in his community, or, at most, his state. How could he be compelled to take up arms against his home?

The Flag Letter

Among the many stunning artifacts from when the Civil War enveloped Charleston was a signal flag – not your stereotypical Confederate battle flag –  a single, simple, signal flag used during the evacuation of Fort Sumter. Attached to this flag was a small letter from the original owner. I will paraphrase part of what it said:

“You may not consider this flag much more than a trinket, but it means much more than that to me. It represents the best years of a patriotic young boy’s life, from age 16 to 20.”

I stood there with my daughter and read aloud the full letter describing the history of the flag written by the one who raised it in victory, then lowered it in defeat. This young man didn’t sound like a slave owner, or a bigot, or a murderer. These were just the words of a patriotic young man who did what he was called to do when his home was threatened.

I’m not ashamed of the South. What I am ashamed of are those who, for political expediency or “white guilt,” want to erase the heritage of a strong, dignified, loyal people without even setting foot on our soil. I am ashamed of those who forget that it was the soldiers who fought each other that came together after the war to heal their wounds and erect monuments to each other’s bravery. I am ashamed of Americans who choose make all Southerners out to be something we are not.

Forgiven His-Story

The folks in the news media only want ratings; they don’t care about truth. Sure, there are bad people, bigoted people out there, but there are also good people – and a lot more of them than the other.

There in the City Market I talked with a black lady about all that had been going on after the shooting at the church. It was at her church that the last of the funerals were to be held that afternoon. It was from her that I bought a New Testament written in the Gullah language (the language of the low country). We talked for a long time about the contrasts between people who chose to forgive and those who chose to burn down their cities. We talked about race, about how the media only wants to further divide us, and how that God loves us all. We talked about Jesus, about loving each other, and then hugged as we parted.

Two strangers in a market…a market in a town that could have gone the way of Baltimore and Ferguson, but didn’t…because people chose to show forgiveness…because good people didn’t resort to painting everyone else with a broad brush.

Honestly, I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that real Southerners are ones who’ve learned how to grow up, admit our mistakes, and move on. We don’t need the modern PC police trying to score political points by opening up old wounds. We can’t change what happened 150 years ago, but we can forgive…as Christ forgives us…and be better people than the history revisionist want us to be.

Now that South Carolina has voted in the house and senate to remove the Confederate flag and “move it to a museum,” I hope they don’t forget to go visit it once in a while. Those who once flew that flag in war were the very same ones who came back together to heal this nation.

I’m just glad my little girl got to see how history can become His-story before all the history is history.

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Filed under America, Parenting, politics, Vacation