Thursday, June 1, 2023

Living The Life

 

When I was a child, I hated funerals - putting on a coat and tie in the middle of the summer to go hear sad stories about somebody I may have never met.   I'd rather be swimming.  But life has changed me.  I now anticipate attending funerals, especially if I know that the deceased is a Believer.  Otherwise, it can be terrifying.  David, one of my past pastors, and one of my closest friends, lost his mom this week.  I didn't know her personally, but I feel like I know her because I know David.  Apparently, a lot of him came from her.  David posted the note below which includes a tribute written by his brother.  David's mom's life makes me want to live a better life.  Isn't that what Christians are supposed to do?

On Friday evening, Deb and I inched our way through Memorial Day traffic to be with Mama. When we arrived, she was breathing rapidly and Jesse was patting her forehead with a damp cloth. Less than an hour after we arrived, Deb suggested we pray for her. We held her and prayed briefly that Jesus would welcome her home, and as we said "Amen" she passed from our arms into the arms of her Savior. Below is a beautiful tribute written by my brother Jesse (so it includes a Latin phrase). A memorial service is planned for August 19 at Memorial United Methodist in Franklin, NC. Time TBA. Consistent with her character, Mama left a specific instruction regarding her funeral: "Be brief. Be jovial. No folderol."

Ruth Crawford Slagle, 96 years of age, passed away on May 26, 2023 at her home in Franklin, North Carolina. She was born at that home place on June 20, 1926 to Cecil and Flora Robinson Crawford.

Ruth was raised on the family farm up on Wayah Creek in Macon County, worshipped at Mount Hope Baptist Church and was baptized in Cartoogechaye Creek. She attended Slagle School and Franklin High School. She was a diligent student and was accepted to Mars Hill College. Upon her graduation she became one of the “Atomic Girls” and worked at Oak Ridge, Tennessee on the Manhattan Project until the end of World War II. After the war she taught school in Highlands and Wilmington, North Carolina.

Ruth married Frederick Slagle at Mount Hope in September of 1949. Theirs was a blessed union for 73 years. She and Frederick were said to have met on the floor under a quilt frame as their mothers and other women in the community gathered and stitched together. Frederick said it seemed like they had been married all their lives. After careful consideration and consultation with her mother and mother-in-law (formerly a Presbyterian missionary) she decided to join her husband in the Methodist Church, not a forgone conclusion. They moved to Forest Park, Georgia in 1956. A faithful and diligent member, she served the congregation of Jones Memorial United Methodist Church for forty years. They raised a family of five children and were active in their lives and the community in which they lived. After their children were grown, they returned to Franklin where they became faithful members of the congregation of Memorial United Methodist Church.

Like her mother, she was a long-time Master Gardener and continued to learn and grow in the garden for as long as she was able. She was gifted with an astonishing knowledge of the plants around her and they prospered under her care. Her most wonderful gift was her ability to cultivate relationships. Her thoughtful care and concern produced a harvest of hundreds of close and loving friends, fellow travelers in the faith and loving family from the east to the west coasts and in between. A humble person, full of grace, she profoundly touched the lives of all kinds of people through thoughtful acts, kind works and beautiful handwritten letters. She had the gift of the right words offered in love that healed many. The steady and unchanging character of her Christian witness informed everything she did. A true daughter of North Carolina, she embodied the state motto: Esse Quam Videri.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Majestic Creations

 


Caroline and I were lucky enough to visit the Pacific Northwest with friends for the past few days. We are still there returning on Friday. We started in Banff Canada, rented a car, and made our way through the Canadian Rockies to Victoria on Vancouver Island.  This has to be some of the most beautiful topography that I have ever seen. The word that keeps coming to mind for me is majestic. The beauty that we have witnessed confirms for me that there is a God, and he is an amazing artist. The majesty of his creation can only be surpassed by his own majesty.   Praise Him.  Worship Him.--

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Child's play

 


On Saturday, Caroline and I had the privilege of hosting my grandson, Evan's soccer team and their families at Lake Hartwell.  That added up to about 45 kids and adults.  I spent some time with the adults, but the kids stole the show.  It was so much fun seeing them play with each other and encourage one another.  At one point we had 15 of them on tubes behind the boat, and as far as I know, they all made it back ashore.   We also had some of the kids trying new skill sports behind the boat. And jumping off the top of the dock catching a football mid-air went on for hours.  In the gospel of Matthew, Matthew reports that the disciples approached Jesus and asked "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"  Jesus called a child over, placed the child in their midst and said, "Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever humbles himself like this child, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  And whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me."  I want to try to find all of those childlike qualities that Jesus loved.

Thursday, May 11, 2023

The Shot Seen Round The World


On Tuesday, February 7th, Andrew Bernstein snapped this iconic photo of Lebron James releasing the shot that broke Kareem Abdul-Jabar's life time NBA scoring record.  You will notice a row of professional photographers seated along the edge of the court who no doubt got multiple photos of this shot from every angle possible.  You will also notice a sea of metal rectangles held by adoring fans who needed their own photo.   Many probably missed witnessing the shot with their own eyes as they were staring into the small screen in front of them.  Why?  I think most would say they wanted to capture the moment. But why?  Wouldn't the hundreds of professional photos do that?  Or maybe they want to prove they were in the arena.  If they told a friend they were at the game, would the friend not believe them?  I think we all know why.  They wanted to post a photo to social media so 20 people might "like" it.  But it's not Lebron or even the photo that needs to be liked.  It's the person that posted it.  It seems a lot of us are captivated by ourselves. I wasn't at that game, but I have posted photos of me doing fun things that I hope people will like.  I try not to focus on who responds, but sometimes I give in to the temptation.  Most of us should do this less.  There is ultimately one thing we should be captivated by and that is God, our creator, who sent His son to live in a broken world and die for the sins of each one of us.  I want to try to do that more today.

The idea for this post and my thoughts were inspired by Marshall Segall at desiringGod.com.

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Idol's Idol

 

I watch too much television, and one of my guilty pleasures is American Idol.  It's no surprise that the entertainment industry is largely void of anything remotely religious.   You may hear about celebrities believing in some undefined higher power, but it is rare that you hear anything about Jesus.  I was surprised and delighted by one of the current American Idol finalists, Megan Danielle, from Danielsville, GA.  She was a bar singer until her grandfather encouraged her to start singing about her faith instead of whatever was in the bars on weekend nights.  In her audition, she sang Lauren Daigle's "You Say".  She did a great job with it and was surprised when Lauren herself showed up half way through her audition.  It was a sweet moment.  I love that Megan has the guts to let her faith show.  Click here for the video, and vote for Megan to keep her in the competition.

Thursday, April 27, 2023

A Living Legacy


I have never attended Northpoint Church, but I am a fan of the founding pastor, Andy Stanley.  I have watched him on television and online and read several of his books.  He has an amazing ability to make ancient biblical truths seem brand new and applicable to what I am going through at that time.   Andy's dad was Charles Stanley.  Charles served in full time ministry for over 50 years and passed away a couple of weeks ago.  I am certain that much of who Andy is came from his dad, Charles.  Their relationship was sometimes strained, especially when Andy made the decision to leave his dad's church and start his own church.  Since then, they have been able to work through any differences, and Andy credits his dad with helping to make him into the man that he is today.  I found this great conversation between them from a few years ago.   I hope that any of you that watch this will take the opportunity to have a similar discussion with your dad - or with your kids.

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Card Tricks

 


Tarot Cards have been used for centuries to assist clairvoyants with seeing things beyond what normal people are able to see.  Tarot cards are still used today as a part of the global phenomenon of New Age spirituality.  New Age spirituality is difficult to define, but it is based on the idea that the mind, body and spirit are all connected and that anything that feels good, is good.  Doreen Virtue was raised in the Christian Science Church and was attracted to New Age thinking and the power of Tarot cards, but she didn't like the scary Tarot cards including the Hanging Man, Death and The Devil.  She created a new deck of cards called Angel Cards that eliminated the scary cards, and the cards became wildly popular.  At one time, she was the highest selling New Age author and was in high demand at speaking engagements.  One day, while listening to a sermon on the radio, she was convicted that everything she had been teaching for the last several years had been a lie.  The key Bible verse from the sermon was 2 Timothy 4:3. "For the time will come when they will not tolerate sound doctrine: but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires."  "Wanting to have their ears tickled" is such a strangely true statement.  Many of us are constantly looking for people to tell us things that we want to believe - that make us feel good.  But what we really need is the truth.  The truth is we are sinners, and we are responsible for our sin.  We can do nothing without the saving grace of God that was purchased by the death of His son, Jesus, on the cross.  Doreen's acknowledgement that her teachings had been false shattered her world, but she now uses her platform to share the message of Jesus.  For more on Doreen and the pastor that preached her saving sermon, click here.