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The Great Coffee Controversy

2015 November 21
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Bishop David EppsMany in the Christian community are up in arms. Social media is abuzz with the controversy and even people with the stature of a Donald Trump are calling for boycotts. The so-called Faith Driven Consumer group has also urged people to boycott and take their business elsewhere. Some are calling the controversy an “outrage” and a “war on Christmas.” What is the source of all this uproar? Starbucks has introduced a red holiday cup. Yep. A red coffee cup. Seriously, people?

It’s nonsense such as this that causes some people to think of Christians as loons. No, not the big bird that dives for fish. One definition of a “loon” is a crazy person. Starbucks has red holiday cups. Why do you care? Throughout the year Starbucks has plain white cups with their logo. During the holiday season, they have a red cup with their logo. In the past, the red cup had snowflakes and other “Christmassy” non-religious designs on it. This year the cup is plain red. While red is a traditional color for Christmas, as is green, neither color is the proper liturgical color for the seasons of Advent and Christmas, which would be purple, blue, and white. And maybe gold. Still, I am confused by the reaction of so many. Especially Christians.

A 33-year old former pastor and self-described “social media personality” named Joshua Feuerstein, who wrote, “Starbucks REMOVED CHRISTMAS from their cups because they hate Jesus,”has produced a video clip which states that Starbucks’s decision is against Christ and against Christmas. He suggests that a “movement” be started where every Christian who goes to Starbucks and orders coffee gives their name as “Merry Christmas.” Then, when the coffee is ready, the employee is forced to call out “Merry Christmas.” Oh, good grief! How silly can one be? And then there’s Student Pastor Nate Weaver at the Crosspointe Christian Church in Sarasota, FL, who vowed to never visit Starbucks ever again. Well, bless your heart, Nate.

If Christians really wish to get riled up this coming season, let me make a few suggestions:

  • Christian believers are being murdered by the truckload by ISIS. They are being drowned, burned alive, beheaded, their throats slit, shot, and crucified.
  • 4,400 children in America alone had their lives ended yesterday by abortion. And today. And tomorrow. In fact, in America, some 55,000,000 unborn boys and girls have had their lives ended by those who should have been their protectors.
  • 150,000 Vietnam veterans have committed suicide since the end of the war. That means that nearly three times the number of people killed in battle have died by their own hand.
  • Speaking of veterans, some 50,000 U. S. military veterans are living on the streets. They are homeless.
  • 16,000,000 children in America are on Food Stamps. Prior to the “great recession,” the number was 9,000,000.
  • 500,000 children in the Unites States this year will be sexually abused before they turn 18.
  • 460,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome
  • The Unites States has the largest prison population in the world with 2,220,300 inmates. In addition to this, there are nearly 55,000 juveniles who are locked up.
  • There are 1,347,983 people in U. S. nursing homes, many of home receive not one single visit from anybody. Ever.
  • According to Christianity Today, about 160,000 Christians are martyred (murdered) for their faith every year. Every year.

Where’s the outrage for all of this? Hmm? How does Starbucks having plain red cups compare with any of the situations on the above list? I’m sorry. I have little patience for people who see a conspiracy behind every bush when there are real bogey men in the world and when there is genuine suffering a stone’s throw from any church. If you want to get involved in a real controversy, check the list. Somewhere, there is someone you can help. Maybe you can make a real in positive difference in someone’s life. Just don’t be a loon.

David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, Sharpsburg, GA ( He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese which consists of Georgia and Tennessee ( and the Associate Endorser for the Department of the Armed Forces, U. S. Military Chaplains, ICCEC. He may contacted at

NTOs – Christmas at the Legacy Theatre

2015 November 19
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by Admin

Please join us for an “Appalachian Christmas” at the Legacy Theatre in Tyrone on Saturday, December 5th. Listen to the story of three generations told through beautiful music and memories in this family-friendly holiday treat.

The performance begins at 3 P.M. We will continue our “NTO tradition” by having dinner after the performance at the Downtown Grill located directly across the street from the theatre.

Please RSVP no later than this coming Sunday, November 22nd!
Tickets are $25 per person.

You may email me at or call at 770-632-7959 to let us know you are coming and how many tickets you will need. Also let us know if you will join us for dinner so that we may make the reservations.

Hope to see you there!
-Fr. Jim and Karen

What Veterans Teach Us

2015 November 14
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Bishop David EppsEddie Kirk is a deputy with the Coweta County Sheriff’s Department in Newnan, GA. He grew up in the shadow of Fort Benning, an Army base in Columbus, GA. After high school, Kirk enlisted in the United States Army. At a recent Veteran’s Day observation at East Coweta Middle School, Kirk shared with the student body and assembled guests what he had learned from veterans. The categories below are his. The additional comments are mine:

1.HONOR – Samuel Johnson defined honor as “nobility of soul,” which is my personal favorite. It is a way of carrying one’s self, of walking in self-respect. It is having high expectations of one’s self and it means having a good name. To be a person of honor is to have a high standard, to be a person of integrity, and to conduct one’s self in a blameless manner. It is also to be humble. The concept of honor has been valued throughout time but never more so than in warrior cultures. To live as an honorable person and to die, if need be, an honorable death is not an uncommon attitude among military personnel and veterans.

2.LOYALTY – The definition of loyalty from King Solomon in Proverbs 20:6 is “trustworthiness.” To be loyal is to be trustworthy. If a friend or spouse is loyal, she or he is worthy of our trust. The Webster’s definition of “loyal” is “unswerving in allegiance.” Robert Bowdrie”Bowe”Bergdahl is a United States soldier who went missing from his post in Afghanistan. He is alleged to have deserted his unit. The soldiers he served with have publically voiced their disdain for Bergdahl. Why? He was disloyal. Good soldiers are not disloyal. Good soldiers are loyal. They have unswerving allegiance to their nation but, especially, to their unit.

3.COMMITMENT – To commit is to “go all in.”Warriors are committed—they are committed to their country, to the cause, and to their comrades in arms. Courage is not the absence of fear. Almost all sane people experience fear in the presence of genuine danger. On September 11, 2001, hundreds of firefighters and police officers who rushed into the Twin Towers in New York perished. Were they unafraid? No, they were scared, afraid for their lives. But they were committed. It is the commitment that pushes people forward in the face of deadly danger. When we see this kind of commitment in action, whether in peacetime or in war, we call it “courage.”

4.SACRIFICE – “No greater love has a man than this, that he lay down his life for a friend.” Veterans understand sacrifice. They know too many people who have demonstrated it by giving their all. I played football at Dobyns-Bennett High School in Kingsport, TN with Joe Meade. Joe was a year older than I and, after graduation, he joined the Marine Corps. In January 1969, during an operation in Vietnam, Private First Class Meade was attempting to rescue fellow Marines whose lives were in danger. He was killed by an explosive device. Joe was 20 years old. For his courage and sacrifice, he received the Silver Star, the nation’s third highest award for combat valor.

Every year the nation recognizes its veterans. It’s not just that they served honorably. It’s that they have acquired characteristics and attributes that they pass on to others and that they bring back to the civilian world. One person said to me, “You act like veterans are special people.” They are. With rare exception, they are honorable, loyal, committed, and understand sacrifice. They bring much to any table. As Deputy Kirk learned, they teach us much by their lives and by their examples. To all our veterans who served honorably—Thank you for your service! A grateful nation salutes you!

David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, Sharpsburg, GA ( He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese which consists of Georgia and Tennessee ( and the Associate Endorser for the Department of the Armed Forces, U. S. Military Chaplains, ICCEC. He may contacted at

Thinking about Death

2015 November 12
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by Admin

Bishop David EppsI attended a conference in Stockbridge, GA last week, sponsored by the College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy. The subject of the conference was “caregiver care.” To my surprise, a good deal of the subject matter dealt with death. Not death in general, or the death of others, but our death—in my case, my death.

In one group exercise, we were asked to imagine ourselves at home, in our favorite chair or place, surrounded by family and friends. Then we were to “fade out” and imagine ourselves gone from the scene. Imagine that we had died. Now, what did we see? How were our friends and family reacting? Our thoughts were then shared and explored. It was not a comfortable exercise.

Later, in a small group, the leader said that the five leading causes of death in America were:

Heart disease
Lung disease

We were then asked to choose our preferred death from the list. It was another uncomfortable exercise. My father and maternal grandfather died of cancer. My mother died of lung related issues as did my paternal grandmother. My good friend and bishop took seven years to die of a debilitating stroke. My maternal grandmother had a heart attack before my eyes and died within minutes in her home. My paternal grandfather died of heart disease. I have had good friends die of accidents over the years. None of the options looked attractive to me.

One man at the conference said he wanted to die in his bed in his sleep. The leader said that only about 11% of people will die that way so good luck with that. In an effort to lighten the mood, the man said, “Then I want to go in the Rapture when Jesus comes!” Everyone laughed which was a good thing. By that time we needed some humor.

For my part, I do not particularly fear death. On at least three occasions over the years I thought my own death was imminent. Once, I thought I was having a stroke, which turned out to be the beginning of my first severe migraine. Another was a car accident in which I thought my life was over. Once was in Africa when I thought I had fallen into the hands of Jihadists. Thankfully, that turned out not to be so. The method or means of dying is another matter. I don’t think about it and do not want to.

I suppose my thinking is that whatever happens will happen when it happens. I can do little to influence my dying unless I engage in risky behaviors. I don’t smoke and never have. I don’t do drugs. I don’t drink except at Holy Communion and at an occasional special event. I do eat too much and exercise too little. I think about life and I sometimes think about what lies beyond this life. I do not think about the way I will die.

Orthodox monks are known to pray “for a good and peaceable death.” It seems a good prayer to pray. I will pray for that, too. If it is going to be otherwise, I don’t want to know about it now.

David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, Sharpsburg, GA ( He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese which consists of Georgia and Tennessee ( and the Associate Endorser for the Department of the Armed Forces, U. S. Military Chaplains, ICCEC. He may contacted at

Hero Physician to Speak at Marine Corps Birthday Celebration

2015 November 9
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Bishop David EppsAs almost any Marine Corps veteran can attest, the recruiting poster which says, “The change is forever,” is true. Of all the accomplishments in my life, probably the proudest moment came in April 1970 when, after three months on Parris Island, I earned the title of “United States Marine.” It seems the older one gets, the more those years meant. Which is why, from the lowest enlisted Marine to the Commandant, active, reserve, or retired, “there is no such thing as a former Marine.” Just ask Leroy Jethro Gibbs.

This sometimes fanatic dedication, observed by most and understood by few, may seem to border on the cultic. But, it is what it is, which is why the smallest military component in the nation’s arsenal, has the most bumper stickers on cars and motorcycles, flags on homes, and USMC shirts, ball caps, and jackets on veterans. One of the manifestations of that continual loyalty is the annual Marine Corps Birthday Ball. On every base around the world where there are Marines and in thousands of locations stateside, the event is observed by active and veteran Marines alike. This year is no different.

On Friday, November 6, the Sgt. Clyde Thomason Medal of Honor Detachment #1325 of the Marine Corps League is hosting its annual United States Marine Corps Birthday Ball in celebration of the Corps’ 240th Birthday.

The guest speaker will be best-selling author and hero physician Dr. Richard Jadick. Dr. Jadick was an officer with the Marine Corps for six years prior to attending medical school. In the spring of 2004, at age 38, Jadick, now a doctor with the United States Navy, volunteered to go to Iraq with the 1st Bn 8th Marines as the unit’s battalion surgeon. He deployed five days after the birth of his daughter.

What awaited was Iraq and the hell that was the historic Battle for Fallujah. On the very front lines he established a forward aid station and was credited with saving the lives of 30 Marines and Sailors during the second battle of Fallujah. Dr. Jadick was awarded the Bronze Star with “Combat V” device for heroic valor in January 2006 and is considered the Iraq war’s most decorated physician. Dr. Jadick’s story was first documented in a Newsweek cover story titled “Hero, M.D.”. He later published his own account of his experiences in a book called “On Call in Hell: A Doctor’s Iraq War Story.”

Richard Jadick, D.O. earned his Bachelor of Arts in biology from Ithaca College and his Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree (D.O.) from the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine in Old Westbury, NY. He completed his residency training in urology at the Medical College of Georgia and retired from the US Navy in June of 2013 after 23 years of service. Dr Jadick finished his Navy career as the Chief of Urology at the Naval Hospital Jacksonville, FL after returning from a nine month deployment to Afghanistan in October 2012.

He is board certified with the American Board of Urology and he and his wife, Melissa who is a pediatrician, have three children, MacKenzie-9, Eva-6, and Gregory-4. Dr Jadick’s interests include volunteer work with the Independence Fund, a veteran led 501c that provides assistance to all injured warriors looking to regain physical and mental independence following injury.

The Marine Corps Birthday celebration will be at Peachtree City’s Flat Creek Country Club. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres will be offered between 6:00 and 7:00 P.M. The ceremony and dinner will begin at 7:05 PM. Tickets are $50.00 per person and include a choice of entrees, two sides, and dessert.

This year the Detachment, which boasts some 90 members, has donated $10,000 to several charities, including: The Marine Corps Foundation, Healing 4 Heroes, The Semper Fi Fund, The Fisher House, Toys for Tots, and the Shepherd Center Share Initiative. The Detachment is also involved assisting homeless veterans and working with the veterans Administration.

Although Marines are welcome, one does not have to be a Marine or Marine veteran to attend the celebration. The Marines are looking for a few good men and women to celebrate their 240th birthday with them. For ticket information, call 678-827-1235 or email For Detachment/membership information, log on to

David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, Sharpsburg, GA ( He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese which consists of Georgia and Tennessee ( and the Associate Endorser for the Department of the Armed Forces, U. S. Military Chaplains, ICCEC. He may contacted at

Ask Father Paul – God without Jesus?

2015 November 3
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I am a fifteen year-old girl and a Christian. My best friend and I have had some long discussions on religion from time-to-time. I say that you must believe in both God AND Jesus to be a Christian and go to heaven. She says that she believes in God, but isn’t so sure about Jesus. One time she told me that she didn’t want people to think she was some kind of “religious fanatic.” Can you help me with some truths to share with her please?

-No Name.


Millions of people are like your friend. Ask them, “do you believe in God,” and they will firmly say something like, “yes, of course I do.”
Recent polls indicate that well over 80% of all Americans are in this group. But when you start to talk to them about Jesus and what God says in the Bible about what is required to go to heaven, they often begin to waffle. If you ask them directly, “was and is Jesus Christ God in fleshly form come to earth to redeem a lost and dying humanity from death and hell, and is he the only way to eternal life in heaven?” many, like your friend, will say, “I’m not so sure about that.”

Fortunately, we are not left alone without clear evidence and guidance from God himself in these matters. God speaks to us through his written word… The Holy Bible. The Bible is truly an awesome, miraculous book… unique and unlike any other. Consisting of sixty-six separate books, from Genesis to Revelation, the Bible was written by over forty different authors most of whom never met each other. The authors were from three different continents. They wrote over a span of about 1,600 years, and in three distinct and different languages. Considering the above facts about the Bible, it is nothing less than amazing that every single one of the sixty-six books of the Bible carries the very same basic theme… the redemption of mankind by God. Equally amazing, every single one of the Bible’s sixty-six books mentions Jesus Christ in some form or fashion at least once. Check out the proof of this for yourself at Truly the Bible has stood the test of time for over 2,000 years… it can be depended upon historically, spiritually, scientifically, archaeologically and prophetically.

Given this, here are some things the Bible says about your question, “do people have to believe in BOTH God and Jesus.”

First… The Bible answers this question by declaring firmly that believing only in God is NOT, all by itself, enough. James 2:19 (New International Version) says this: “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that … and shudder.” The message is clear… believing in God is a good thing, but even demons (Satan’s messengers) believe in God, and there is no way that they are going to heaven! So then what else is required?

Second… Jesus himself, about to go to the cross and die, speaks to people who believe in God alone, but not also in him, when he says in John 14:1 (New International Version) “You believe in God; believe ALSO in me.” He goes on to speak about the eternal dwelling place where he is about to go and prepare for those who love and believe in him.

Lastly… Jesus makes it unmistakably clear that there is only one way to God the Father and that way is through him. Jesus says in John 14 verse 6… (New International Version) “I am THE way THE truth and THE life. NO ONE comes to the Father EXCEPT through ME.” (emphasis mine)

Here’s the bottom line. God, in his great love for mankind, has provided one, but only one, way through which sin and death can be turned into forgiveness and life, that darkness can be turned into light and that the grave and hell can be turned into eternal life in heaven with God simply by confessing and believing in his son, Jesus. That’s the simple yet profound “Good News” of the gospel.

Have a question? Email it to me at

Father Paul Massey is Pastor Emeritus of Church of the Holy Cross Charismatic Episcopal Church in Fayetteville, Georgia. Visit for information.

The Storms of Life: Part 7

2015 October 29
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Bishop David Epps

The Cathedral of Christ the King
Twenty-third Sunday of Pentecost
October 25, 2015

Sermon Link: The Storms of Life: Part 7