With two children that are both married, we are becoming accomplished at managing holiday schedules. We alternate Christmas and Thanksgiving with the in-laws, who are very easy to work with. This Christmas, we loved having our kids and grandkids with us in Braselton. We attended two Christmas Eve services, enjoyed several trips to the playground and of course consumed more than our share of food and beverages. The holiday fun is made complete by our six grandchildren. We have two new girls this year, Brynn pictured here with Caroline and Blakely who was featured recently in an earlier post. I hope that you were able to find joy with the people you were with this Christmas.
Thursday, December 27, 2018
Wednesday, December 19, 2018
The sun beats down
Heat rules the day
The rains lie silent
Plants and animals alike
Scaling the steep terrain
In search of a foothold
And a spot of moisture
The seed blows to still
Breathless and famished
Feet begin to scavenge
Deeper and deeper
Thirsting for nourishment
The course is slow and arduous
Rocks form blockades
Patient and determined
Each treasure uncovered
Passed upward to feeble arms
Reaching for the sky
Arms fall open
Searching for structure
Security, protection, and balance
As they grasp tight
They grow stronger
Month to month
Year after year
The trunk grows sturdy
Essential and steadfast
With feet set firm
Nutrients rushing through its veins
And arms reaching for the sky
Fingers open as a bloom
Presenting the first fruit
To any that will taste of it
Wednesday, December 12, 2018
My parents were both from southern Appalachia, and this bluegrass arrangement of Carol of the Bells caught my attention. Some of you may have seen this already, but if not take a moment to listen. I love the quality throughout - from the arrangement to the musicianship to the video editing. I dug a little deeper to find out more about Berea College in Kentucky where these musicians attend. Berea College was founded in 1855 by the abolitionist, John Gregg Fee, was the first non-segregated university in the south and provides full scholarships to all of its students through a work-study program. The school's motto is "God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth". I imagine there are many more beautiful things that are produced on this campus.
Wednesday, December 5, 2018
12/7/18 UPDATE: Due to unforeseen circumstances, The Georgia Wind Symphony concert on 12/9 has been canceled. Please stay tuned for information on future concerts.
If you have been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that music is an important part of my life. I met my wife in grade school, and we played in bands together through high school. We took a break from the band for about 30 years, but are now playing together again in the Georgia Wind Symphony. This Sunday at 4PM at Cambridge High School in Milton, GA, we will be performing our annual Christmas program. We will be playing one of my favorite compositions of all time, O Magnum Mysterium - O Great Mystery, written about Mary and the birth of Jesus. We would love to have you join us this Sunday if you can, but if location or schedule keeps us apart, you can enjoy our performance of O Magnum Mysterium from last year here. Here is the translated Latin:
O great mystery,
and wonderful sacrament,
that animals should see the new-born Lord, lying in a manger!
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb
was worthy to bear
the Lord, Jesus Christ.
and wonderful sacrament,
that animals should see the new-born Lord, lying in a manger!
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb
was worthy to bear
the Lord, Jesus Christ.
I hope your Christmas season is filled with music you love.
Thursday, November 29, 2018
Last week, I wrote about my sixth grandbaby, Blakely, being born into this world. It made me think about how much more I love Christmas because of young children. I love watching their faces as they are surprised by their gifts. We have a favorite saying in our house that is a quote from my son, Michael, on Christmas morning when he was a toddler. As he was unloading his stocking, he pulled out a pair or socks, and exclaimed with excitement, "just what I almost needed". That sums it up for most of our gifts - just what we almost needed. But what I really need is more Jesus. If you need a lift today, take 4 minutes to watch this video telling the Christmas story through the eyes of a child.
Tuesday, November 20, 2018
This week, Caroline and I were blessed with grandbaby number 6. Lizzy and Trey brought Blakely Grace into the world. Mom, Dad and Baby are all doing great. Caroline and I were in the waiting area waiting for the text from Trey that Blakely had arrived. There was an announcement over the PA system that said, "Code Pink in LDR 11", which we recognized as Lizzy's room. Not knowing what a Code Pink was, I asked the first hospital employee I could find, and she let me know that the baby was in some sort of distress, but she didn't have additional details. For the next 5 minutes, which seemed like 5 hours, we were in the dark about what was going on. Every possible scenario, most of them horrifying, went through our heads - and for me, those thoughts centered around the possibility of serious health problems for Lizzy and/or Blakely. The only thing we knew to do was to pray. We soon found out that everyone was fine. Blakely had a somewhat awkward birth, but the amazing hospital staff responded quickly, and Blakely arrived just fine. I can't imagine the additional pain of getting through this without my God to comfort me. I give God honor and praise for the miracle of birth and the gift of comfort every day.
Thursday, November 15, 2018
Our ConnectGroup from church wrapped up our Andy Stanley video series, "What happy couples know" last night. Andy continues to deliver a message that is fresh, as if I was hearing it for the first time, but grounded in words that were spoken and written 2000 years ago. In last night's video, he spoke about the gap that exists in relationships between expectations and experiences. There is frequently a gap that has to be filled with something. That something is either "believe the best" about the other person or "assume the worst" about the other person. It feels like a reaction, but it is actually a choice we make each time the gap is created. Assuming the worst drives the other person away and can actually push them to do the very thing you are scared they are going to do. Believing the best creates an upward spiral of trust and love that can become the bedrock for happy couples. Nobody said it would be easy. It will be hard, but it is one of the most important things that happy couples know. To see the full message, click here.
Thursday, November 8, 2018
It would be hard to escape the division of the people in our country over the past couple of weeks. Some see the division as a plea for power, others see it is a plea for recognition and still others a plea for justice.
Myanmar is a mostly Buddhist country in southeast Asia that has struggled with its own division for centuries. While the government currently has an elected parliament, it is largely a military state, in that the military controls all of the local police. Myanmar has had some ugly moments in its history. Among 135 different ethnic groups, you will find the Rohingyas. The Rohingyas are a Muslim minority living in a Buddhist country. Quite a while back, a small faction of rebels in that area attacked a military base, and the Myanmar government used the incident as a trigger to kill over 9000 Rohingyas people, raping and maiming thousands more along the way. It is widely believed that the genocide was the result of the Buddhist government's fear of a growing Muslim population.
This feels like an event that would have occurred centuries ago or even in the first millennium. Not so. It was last year - August, 2017. I'm sure some of you reading are well versed on the event. I am embarrassed to admit that I am just becoming aware of it this morning.
Reading about this stirs emotions for me. Disbelief that this could happen. Sadness for the victims and the victims families. Anguish over what could be done to prevent this from happening again. Thankfulness for living in a country where it doesn't. A desire to make things better where I am.
I read about most of this in an article by Brian Stiller. For more on his perspective and a ray of hope for Myanmar, click here.
Thursday, November 1, 2018
This week I read about pharmaceutical company that reported first year's sales of $4.5K. Yep, that's a K. Not a M - or a B. $4470. Doesn't sound like much of a year - until you know that the year was 1876. And the founder was Eli Lilly. Lilly's first products included gelatin capsules, quinine, and fruit flavors for pills to make them easier to consume. Bad experiences with drugs that he had received during the Civil War caused him to have an intense focus on quality control, and his reputation as a drug manufacturer grew quickly. Now Lilly's brands include Prozac, Cialis, Methadone and Cymbalta, and annual sales have now passed $22B - with a B. I also learned that Lilly is not your typical mega-pharmaceutical company. In 1879, just three years after its inception, Eli Lilly became the primary patron for the Charity Organization Society in Indianapolis, which was a forerunner to United Way. Now the Lilly Endowment is one of the top 10 wealthiest non-profit philanthropies in the world with $11.7B in assets. Grant recipients include Emory University's Youth Theological Initiative here in Atlanta. The summer program for high school students encourages them to explore the Christian faith and how it can be a powerful force in today's world. Kudo's to Eli Lilly for establishing a company that still values giving back as one of its founding principles.
Thursday, October 25, 2018
Our ConnectGroup completed the HeroMakers segment, and we have moved on to the Andy Stanley sermon series called "What happy couples know." I continue to be amazed at how Andy can craft and deliver a message. One of the points in his message last night dealt with the frequently abused passage in scripture where Paul tells women to submit to their husbands. I feel like men and women have both used this for their own selfish gain. Some men have used it to make their wives feel guilty for not doing everything they need for them to do. Some women have used this as a reason to reject Christianity altogether due to the seeming inequality it represents. What is almost unbelievable is that so many people ignore the rest of the passage where Paul instructs us to submit to one another. At the time when Paul was living, women were actually considered "the property" of their husbands. They were not treated equally, and neither men, nor women, expected men to treat women equally. Paul's instruction that husbands and wives should submit to one another would have been considered blasphemous to some and shocking to almost everyone of that time. This teaching was the seed that grew into the current state of our culture where men and women should be treated as equals. I understand that we are not there yet, but it least in our western society, most would agree that is a standard to work towards. Paul was instructing us to love each other like God, through Jesus, loved us. Jesus gave us everything, including his life, and expected nothing in return. We are called to do the same with the people we know, and especially with our spouses. Click here for the full message series. This content was taken from the second message.
Thursday, October 18, 2018
A friend of mine died this week, and I attended his funeral. He was a successful businessman, had a rock-solid marriage, raised three kids and was committed to his church. He was humble, served others, and loved God. He was described as a legend by those who knew him best. I probably only met him a half dozen times over the last 30 years, but I feel like I knew him well. He was 95 years old, sang in the same church choir for 60 years and was married to his wife Sue for 72 years. I know him well, because I know his son, and his son has told me all about him. His son is one of my best friends and mirrors the qualities that his father lived out every day. I know the father through the son, and that is God's plan for us to know Him, too.
Thursday, October 11, 2018
Our ConnectGroup series on HeroMakers wrapped up last night with a lively discussion on Kingdom building. Members had different ideas on what kinds of actions contribute to kingdom building, but for me, I see anything that helps bring heaven to earth a part of Kingdom building. That could be quiet time alone where God gets a bigger piece of me, me helping people at work for their gain and not my own, or me telling someone who doesn't know Jesus what Jesus means to me. If we do it for His glory, I believe the Kingdom is growing. I found this fun videofrom Rend Collective asking God to help us build His Kingdom here. Enjoy.
Whose kingdom are you building?
Thursday, October 4, 2018
Most of my family lives still on the east coast, but my sister-in-law, Polly and her husband, Larry, raised their two kids in Oklahoma. Their daughter, Kimberly, was married this past weekend to Mark, and all of us went out to join the celebration. Polly and Larry live on a mini-farm complete with chickens and horses outside Tulsa. We had a blast unwinding and getting a taste of what it be like to live out in the country. I am so proud of how Polly and Larry have raised their two kids, Phillip and Kimberly, into vibrant adults, and so happy that we were able to spend time with all of them this week.
Thursday, September 27, 2018
Last night in our ConnectGroup, we talked about the power of multiplication - how one act of kindness can get multiplied in a family, organization or throughout a whole community when the person being encouraged passes it on to others. I have written frequently in the past about my high school band director, David Gregory. He inspired us to work hard to create something great that could only be produced when all members were contributing to their fullest. I took some of him with me from high school into the rest of my life. At a previous church we attended, he encouraged me and helped me to start an instrumental ensemble at our church. With no formal training or experience, I led a group of about 30 people to play together as a part of our worship service. David recently retired as conductor of the Georgia Wind Symphony, where Caroline and I still play. The group is make up of mostly school band directors, and for most of them, it is their only chance to perform. I know that each of them take a little bit of David into their band room every day in an attempt to inspire their students, too. If you have 10 minutes, listen and watch what we have carried with us over the last 40 years thanks to David's influence.
Thursday, September 20, 2018
In our second week of ConnectGroup, we talked about how important "team" is. Whether we are talking about a sports team, a team at work or a family team, going it alone can be difficult and unfulfilling. But building a team can be difficult. It can take hundreds of good decisions and deliberate actions to get team members to see the purpose and to get fully on board. Encouragement is one of the essential ingredients, and this week we were each encouraged to think about people that had encouraged us in the past, and how that felt. Then, we were encouraged to find a person in our sphere of influence that we could encourage and lift up. I was thinking this morning about how our community is just a little closer to God this week, even if only a small number of people followed through on that. I was also thinking of the change in me if I can make the act of encouragement into a habit. Want to join in?Buil
Thursday, September 13, 2018
We had the first meeting of our ConnectGroup for this semester in our home last night. For the first half of this semester, we are digging into our church's sermon series: HeroMaker. We spent time talking about public heroes, who our personal heroes are, and about what it means to be a HeroMaker in God's eyes. We also spent time praying. We are all concerned for the people who will be affected by Hurricane Florence and will be praying for them over the coming days. I found this story about Virgil Smith who made his mark during Hurricane Harvey. Hero or HeroMaker? What do you think?
Thursday, September 6, 2018
Frances Perkins watched in horror as a Manhattan building was engulfed in flames and workers began jumping from windows in an attempt to save their lives. On that day, 146 people died, ranging in age from 14 to 43. The building was the Asch Building in the garment district of New York, and the year was 1911. The Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire marked the worst industrial disaster in the history of the city, and one of the worst in the history of the country. Frances had gained statewide attention serving as the head of the New York Consumer's League, but after serving in several state positions, she was named as the Secretary of Labor under Franklin Roosevelt in 1933. She was the first female cabinet member to serve under a president, and maintained that position for 12 years, longer than any other Secretary of Labor. Frances devoted her entire life to improving working conditions for everyone including workplace safety and child labor laws. Her love of labor helped pave the way for better working conditions for all of us. Click here for the rest of the photo.
Thursday, August 30, 2018
There are so many opportunities for division among us, I was thrilled to see the OneRace movement step into action last weekend. On Saturday, over 2000 people from all races marched up Stone Mountain as an expression of unity under the love of Jesus. The group sang worship songs atop the mountain in the same spot that the KKK burned crosses over a century ago. Praise God for anyone who takes the time to pull us together as opposed to pushing us apart. Click here for a quick video recap.
Thursday, August 23, 2018
Rick Rigsby has served as a college professor for over 20 years, most of those years at Texas A&M, but he became more broadly known after delivering a commencement speech in 2017. That speech was viewed by more than 30 million people in just a few days after being posted online. Rick's words honor the most important man in his life, a third grade dropout, and the valuable lessons that he learned from him. If you weren't one of the first 30 million to watch, prepare to be inspired. If you were, it probably wouldn't hurt to hear this message again.
Thursday, August 16, 2018
thoughtful article about when he thinks it is appropriate to block people from his social media timelines. I think he has some good ideas here. Let me know what you think.
Thursday, August 9, 2018
I am usually a pretty serious guy. People close to me tell me I need to laugh more. And I agree. I admit that I am kind of humor snob. What some people think is laugh-out-loud funny, doesn't get the same reaction from me. Things I do react to are usually things that include a lot of truth. John Crist is a Christian comedian that has made a career out of making fun of Christians. Some may consider him a little on the edge, even sacrilegious. I think he is hilarious. I have watched a lot of his videos but saw this one about church parking lot rage for the first time today. Laugh a little more.
Thursday, August 2, 2018
Most of us are familiar with the big band sounds of Tommy Dorsey, but at about the same time Tommy was performing, there was another Dorsey making his mark. Thomas Dorsey was the son of a Baptist minister in Villa Rica, GA. His father taught him to play piano, and Thomas first launched a jazz career under the Paramount label. In 1932, he lost his wife, Nettie, during childbirth and wrote one of his most well-known songs, Precious Lord, Take My Hand, which served as a cornerstone to a new career in gospel music. That song has been covered by artists from Elvis Presley to Beyonce, but this performance by Mahalia Jackson is my favorite. Thomas is now known to be the father of gospel music.
Thursday, July 26, 2018
I had the pleasure of attending the annual meeting for my wife's company, Northwestern Mutual, this week. We get good updates on the company, but they also bring in outside speakers who are making their mark on the world. Mick Ebeling started an organization called Not Impossible. He looks for someone who needs help that has been told there is no way to help them. Then he gathers the resources to make it happen. After that, he produces a film that tells the story to try to encourage other people to help more people. If you want to be inspired, watch this three minute video on how he was able to help this boy who lost his arms in a military bombing in Africa. Cheers to Mick for helping make the impossible, not impossible.
Tuesday, July 17, 2018
We spend so much energy trying to live up to what other people want us to be. I can only imagine the peace that would come with fully knowing that I am accepted and loved by the only one who's opinion really matters, my Creator. His love for me should ignite a fire that makes me want to live for him every second of every day. I have posted about the Christian singer, Lauren Daigle, in the past. While I have continued listening to her early music, it has been several years since she has released anything new. She has a new album dropping on September 7th, but her single, You Say, got released early. I wonder how much pressure Lauren was under to release something new before now. I think I am glad she waited.
Thursday, July 12, 2018
I don't have any special stake in the recent rescue of 13 people from the cave in Thailand. Those people were on the cusp of a disaster, and that disaster turned into a miracle. The death of the rescuer, Saman Kunan, was tragic and sad, but his death was not in vain. The overwhelming feeling I had was how an event like this could unite the world. I can't imagine that there was anyone who wasn't hoping for the best outcome possible for everyone involved. I know there were a lot of people praying. With all of the divisive forces pressing on us every day, this was a good feeling for me.
Friday, July 6, 2018
I am thankful this Independence Day for the men and women who fought and died for me so that I can live where I want to, work where I want to, and worship where I want to. The purest expression of my thankfulness can be be found in spending time with friends and family and the joy expressed in their faces. It just doesn't get any better.
Thursday, June 28, 2018
If you have been following this blog for a while, you know that Caroline and I are members of the Georgia Wind Symphony. Our conductor, David Gregory, retired this year, and our Spring Concert was his last. Les Miserables is one of my favorite stage shows, and we performed a piece with selections from the show. Matthew McCord and Alison Holmes joined us as vocal soloists. The entire piece is 14 minutes, so if you have time, please enjoy. But my favorite song from the show, "Bring Him Home" is at 4:40. This was the first time that Matt had performed this song since he lost his infant son. Truly unbelievable.
Thursday, June 21, 2018
I've been thinking about my father this week and thought the best way to honor him would be with the words I spoke at his funeral 14 years ago:
One of my first memories of my dad was when he took me to try out for a stage production of the Music Man at the Springer Theatre in Columbus. He was cast as Ali Hakim and I as Winthrop, the 10-year old with a lisp. I had no idea at the time how that day would shape my life by initiating my love for the performing arts. One of my favorite photographs is of me and my dad after our last performance. I remember the pride of standing there with him after the show greeting family and friends who had seen the performance.
My father wanted to be with me.
In the play I was supposed to play the trumpet. I remember the anticipation of getting the instrument that would serve as my prop for the play, just as the character, Winthrop, anticipated the arrival of the Wells Fargo Wagon in River City. It was then that I decided I would really learn to play the trumpet when I got into the sixth grade and it was in sixth grade that I made eyes at the flute player, sitting across the band room, who 10 years later became my wife. I remember the joy I felt standing at the front of St. Paul Methodist Church, as the doors opened and Rick McKnight began playing the most triumphant version of the Wedding march that you have ever heard as Caroline walked the aisle. Dad was my best man.
My father wanted to be with me.
Shortly thereafter, very shortly thereafter, I remember the joy of seeing Dad holding our newborn Michael in his arms and three years later, Elizabeth.
My father wanted to be with me.
Another place I remember Dad taking me when I was young was to First Presbyterian Church. I don’t want to paint a picture of the whole family sitting together listening attentively and singing joyfully. I’m sure Mom and Dad were, but I was in the balcony throwing paper airplanes over the rail. I don’t remember it being a particularly spiritual experience. However, while at First Pres., I became close to the youth pastor, Eli Whiddon, who took us every year to Camp Kolomoki in South Georgia for a week each summer. It was on one of those trips that I accepted Jesus as my lord and savior. I was far from being an angel, but at that moment, I was a child of God.
6 years ago, my son, Michael found a new church for our family and Caroline and I had the opportunity to bring music back into our life. All of us became involved in the church orchestra and two years ago, I was responsible for a patriotic music program that required quite a bit of planning. I remember keeping Mom and Dad posted on the plans hoping that they would attend and feeling disappointed that they hadn’t committed to being there. 10 minutes before the performance began, Caroline called me to the lobby of the sanctuary as I was trying to make last minute preparations and there stood Mom and Dad. They had worked with Caroline to surprise me.
My father wanted to be with me.
Another memory I have of my dad was something he said every day to my Mom. Before he would leave for work, he would say “Pat, is there anything I can do for you today?” I never remember her having anything for him, - and I remember being surprised that he continued to ask her the question even though she never had anything for him to do. She had already taken care of everything. However, his example of putting her first created a model for my marriage which I strive for, but fall short of every day. But despite my failure, I am able to say that I know I will love Caroline forever.
Over the past six weeks, Dad and I talked about things that we had never talked about before. We held hands for hours at a time. The love that I felt pouring from him was most certainly a gift from God. I can still see the look of excitement on his face as we arrived to spend time with him.
My father wanted to be with me.
Last Tuesday I was with a group of friends and I shared with them the experience that I had been through with Dad. One of the guys approached me after the meeting and told me how much he appreciated what I had said, and told me that it had encouraged him to start a conversation with a loved one that he had been putting off. I asked if it was his Mom or his Dad, and he told me, “Its not my mom or dad, its my wife”. It was then that I understood more fully the power of the holy spirit that is within each person who knows Christ as the Son of God.
My Father wants to be with me, and I with Him.
Thursday, June 14, 2018
This past week, a group of pirates arrived at Lake Hartwell for the 3rd annual Pirate Camp. Two of my older grandchildren joined two additional pirates, that are the grandchildren of our good friends, Ed and Linda. For three days we immersed them in everything pirate - from costumes, to treasure maps, to a hidden treasure chest and even a pirate ship with firing canyon to search for the treasure and fend off the evil Captain Hook. This is a tradition that we hope will continue in some form as the other grandchildren come of age (4 and older). Three days of our summer - but memories for a lifetime.
Thursday, June 7, 2018
About 2500 years ago, there was a different wall in the news. Nehemiah was serving as cup-bearer to the king of Persia, when he was sent to Jerusalem with the task of rebuilding the wall protecting the remaining Jews there. While the task was daunting on its own, Nehemiah was continuously thwarted by the enemies of Judah. Nehemiah had always been a man of prayer, praising God and asking him to provide for him. But on this day, his prayer was different. He prayed, "strengthen my hands. Don't do it for me. Give me the strength to do it." God honored his prayer, and the wall was completed in 52 days. The enemies retreated when they recognized that the task could have only been completed by the power of God, but in this case, the power of God flowing through the hands of Nehemiah and the people he was leading. I think God wants us all to play our part in the building of His kingdom here on earth.
Thursday, May 31, 2018
This past weekend, I celebrated Memorial Day with my family at the lake. We grilled out, did some boating, played games and enjoyed each other's company. While I feel privileged to live in a country where I am free to do as I please, I feel completely unqualified to speak about the true meaning of Memorial Day, having never served in the armed forces. Roger Brady IS qualified. He served in the armed forces for 40 years and wrote this moving article comparing our freedom to live in the United States with our responsibilities of living in the Kingdom of God. I hope you are moved as he explores the question, "For what shall we live?"
Thursday, May 24, 2018
David, from the Old Testament was a dynamic leader, but had a sordid past that included adultery and murder. His son, Solomon, became king, and could have followed in his steps, but instead Solomon went on to inspire some of the greatest literature ever written which is found in Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon. 1st Chronicles reports Solomon's encounter with God which served as a spring-board for Solomon's life. God appeared to Solomon one night and directed him, "Ask for whatever you want me to give you." Solomon could have asked for fame, power or riches, but instead he responded, "Give me wisdom and knowledge". God honored his prayer abundantly. I may not be leading a nation, but I want to remember this simple prayer to help make me do a better job with the people I come in contact with every day.
Thursday, May 17, 2018
I have posted frequently about our church in Braselton, The Vine. We love everything about it. Our first exposure was to the worship services mornings. The sermon series are planned months in advance, and the music is done with excellence. We got involved in a small group that meets during the week, and while the group has changed over the years, the relationships that get informed each season are enduring. Caroline and I have each found a way to serve regularly, and we love the people we serve and serve with. While I give full credit for everything good we have to God, I want to acknowledge our church's lead pastor, David Walters, for listening to God and leading me and the other members to God. David has the unique gift of making me feel special, as if he is singling me out and ministering to me personally, but I have no doubt that most of the people in our congregation feel exactly the same way. Thank you, David, for your faithfulness. So, if you are looking for a church home in the Braselton area, we would love to see you. We hope your search doesn't feel like this Church Hunters spoof featuring Jenny Jennings who I went to church with in south-Gwinnett 20 years ago (yes, she was a toddler then). I have always believed that great comedy is the perfect blend of humor with truth. I hope you have a great week.
Thursday, May 10, 2018
The father of one of our close high school friends died last week. His funeral was in Columbus on Tuesday, and Caroline and I attended. I remember a time when I dreaded funerals - too much sadness, too much time and too much boredom. I now look forward to funerals. Seeing the sadness of the family hurts, but God always shows up - sometimes quietly, sometimes brashly, but always in His full majesty. The hope that God gives to us of being reunited with those that have left this earth is one of the great things that He has done for me. I want to celebrate that more.
Thursday, May 3, 2018
I wrote earlier this year about a book by A. W. Tozer called The Pursuit of God. I enjoyed it and am now reading one of his earlier books, The Knowledge of the Holy. Tozer will be revealing attributes of God throughout the book, but in Chapter 3, he talks about what an attribute is and what an attribute is not. He defines it as "whatever God has in any way revealed to be true of Himself". God can choose to reveal those truths to us through his creations, or He can reveal them directly to us through prayer and meditation. Understanding that God is infinite, there are certainly truths that we will never know until we meet Him face to face. But we should be assured, that God delights in our seeking to find these attributes on a daily basis, and He will only reveal them to us in His perfect timing.
Thursday, April 26, 2018
This week, an armed man entered a Waffle House and opened fire on patrons of the restaurant. The patrons scattered in an effort to protect themselves from the gunfire - all but one. James Shaw, Jr. was not ready to die or watch others die. He wanted to keep an eye on the shooter, so that he might have a chance to survive. When the gunman lowered his weapon to reload, Mr. Shaw charged him and wrestled the gun away from him, burning his hand on the still-hot barrell. The gunman escaped but was later apprehended and arrested. It gave me great peace to know that after the incident, the place that Mr. Shaw wanted to be was in church. Praise God for his quick thinking and his willingness to risk his life to save others. I wonder where he learned that. Click here to hear his story.
Thursday, April 19, 2018
Technology. TEDTalks. Jesus. These are three of my favorite things, and who better to bring them together than Billy Graham. I found this talk from 1998 where he combined his knowledge of the technology of the day with truths from the Bible over 3000 years old to deliver the most important message of all time. At 79 years of age, Dr. Graham is witty, sincere, knowledgeable, emotive, self-deprecating and of course encouraging - reminds me of another guy I know who lived 2000 years ago. I look forward to meeting them both face to face some day. Set aside 26 minutes to be inspired. You won't regret it.
Thursday, April 12, 2018
Each year for the past 5 years, I have taken the first few months of the year to prepare for a 5k/10k run at Lake Hartwell in May. Last year was the first year I demoted myself to the 5k, but I do enjoy participating. At may age, the training is somewhat painful. It consists of some dieting and some semi-regular runs. The improvement day-to-day is slow but certain - and it is worth it to me.
I met with a good friend yesterday who works for a mission organization that exposes young adults interested in long-term overseas missions to what that might look like by placing them in midterm assignments in those countries. They focus on reaching the people groups in the world that have never heard of Jesus. This could be the single-most daunting task that Jesus left with us, and I love that one of my close friends is running that race. For more about Cafe1040, click here. Well done, Stephen! My good and faithful friend.
Thursday, April 5, 2018
Being in real estate, I get a lot of phone calls that may or may not be directly related to the growth of my business. People don't always call wanting to buy or sell houses. A lot of times I get calls from people who need to find a good plumber or someone to get the leaves out of their gutters. My nature is to view these calls as distractions and quite honestly, a waste of my time. Sometimes, even when people are calling about buying or selling, the calls feel like distractions. One couple was driving through Georgia on their way from Texas to Maine looking for a place to retire. Lake Hartwell was one of their stops, and there was one house they wanted to see that was another agent's listing. I was an hour and a half away, and didn't really feel like going on a goose chase that day. They were persistent, so I reluctantly elected to meet them. The house they wanted to see was not a match, but as I listened to what they were looking for, I thought of a more expensive house that I had just listed. I asked them if they wanted to see it, and they agreed. They seemed to like it, but when finished, they hopped in their pick-up truck to continue their trip to Maine. I honestly never expected to hear from them again. My son, Michael, works with me and usually works with our buyers. Because of my willingness to meet them initially and his follow up for over 6 months, they closed on the house I showed them last week. God asks us to be faithful with the small things, and when we are, sometimes we get trusted with more. I try to remember that every time someone's toilet is clogged.
Thursday, March 29, 2018
My son, Michael, is 34 years old today, but we are all still celebrating the birth of his fourth child. Brynn Elizabeth is pictured here with Dad and her two big brothers, Levi and Evan. That look on Evan's face is priceless. Brynn's big sister, Nora, had a little fever, so she had to meet her for the first time on FaceTime. I can't wait to see the whole family together celebrating their first Easter as a family of 6!
Thursday, March 22, 2018
Our sermon at church last Sunday, my small group meeting last night, and a book I was reading this morning were all focused on being generous. OK. OK. Message delivered! Being generous was never a part of my nature growing up. As Whitney sung so beautifully, "Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all", and I made that my mantra. Now, over three decades later, while I might not agree with all of those lyrics, I think there is some truth there. We have to get right with ourselves, before we have much to give. But more often than not, stepping out in faith to give a small part of what we do have, is just the thing to start getting ourselves right. And when I say getting ourselves right, I mean recognizing that everything we have is a gift from our creator. If I can internalize that, it makes it easier for me to let go of those gifts that God has given me to steward. I am not there yet. I am nowhere close. But today, I want to be a little closer than I was yesterday. Just in case you need a little nostalgia, here is the link.