Thursday, December 31, 2020

New Year's Resolutions

Another 365.25 days pass, and the earth completes one more revolution around the sun.  Revolution (1) - the time taken for a celestial body to make a complete round in its orbit.  A second definition of the word revolution is "a sudden, radical or complete change".   For the year 2020, most of us are hoping that the newly released Covid-19 vaccination will create a revolution of sorts against the virus.  I always take the time around New Year's to consider how I can make the next year better than the last.  Ideas almost always include health-related items like losing weight and exercising more.  I definitely want to read and learn more, and sometimes I think about committing to a new skill like golf or learning a new musical instrument.  Those are tough.  This year, I am thinking about something different.  What if instead of tired resolutions, I could start a personal revolution. A third definition for revolution is "a fundamental change in the way of thinking about or visualizing something".  In 2021, for every day, I want to think of others more, think of God more - and think of myself less.  That will be a revolution worth celebrating in 365.25 days.  Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Shared Desire

One of the things that I missed most during the pandemic is worshiping side by side with my friends at church.  Thankfully, a few of us have had the chance to be together in a smaller group once a week for the last 12 weeks.   We have been reading and discussing, J.I. Packer's Knowing God, and I have written about a couple of the chapters in this blog.  The content has been inspiring, but I am mostly inspired by the others in my group.  They read, prepare and share every week, making each meeting meaningful.   But the greatest blessing is knowing that each of us spent some energy that week desiring and working to know God more.  I know that He is pleased by that.  Thank you Jamie, Julie, Ron, Karen, Mike, Kim, Pam and Caroline.  Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 18, 2020

Mended Heart


This time last year, we traveled with good friends to Nashville for a little Christmas getaway.   I have several fond memories of that trip, but the highlight was seeing Amy Grant and Vince Gill's Christmas concert at the Ryman.   Amy and I are the same age, and she has been a part of our family's playlist for all of our adult lives.  Her early Christmas album (yes vinyl) got broken in well between Thanksgiving and Christmas every year.  I love Amy's story.  Yes, she is a celebrity, and I'm sure she has all the money she needs, but she took a beating when she tried to transition from Christian to Pop music.  Her first marriage to Gary Chapman ended in divorce, and she recently underwent open-heart surgery to correct a birth defect.   In 1992, she released a song she wrote entitled "Breath of Heaven".  She tells the story of Jesus' birth through Mary's eyes.   I found this performance of the song with the Boston Pop's from 2003, after her return to Christian music and her marriage to Vince Gill.  The performance isn't perfect.  We never are.  But I love her mended heart.

Friday, December 11, 2020

Jealous with a Z

One of the more puzzling traits of God is that He is a jealous guy.  Jealousy in today's world is almost always considered a sin, so how can a sinless God also be a jealous God?   We think of jealousy as an unwarranted desire for something that isn't ours.  Envy is another word describing that feeling. Well, it turns out jealousy hasn't always been used that way.  "Jealousy" came from the Greek word "zeal" which meant "to seek, request, desire" and biblically, "tolerating no unfaithfulness".  One author described it like this.  If you are at a party, and you see someone flirting with your spouse,  that feeling of jealousy is like righteous jealousy because you are the only one that has the right to flirt with your spouse.  That resembles God's jealousy for us.  When He sees us flirting with the world, and not giving Him the attention He deserves, He is jealous, as He is the only one deserving of our attention.  I want to do a better job of finding ways to give Him what He deserves.

Friday, December 4, 2020

Path to wrath

Our small group from church has been reading and discussing J.I. Packer's "Knowing God".  The last few chapters have been dealing with God's judgment and wrath.  Many churches these days don't like to talk much about that - many Christians don't either.  But, the Bible does, so it makes me want to sit up and pay attention.  God created the world and the rules for how it works best.   For those that believe this, and don't follow the rules, it makes God angry and his wrath will follow.  We don't know exactly what form that will take, but what we do know is that our sin separates us from Him.   I think that feels like Hell.  Thank God that He allowed his Son to die on the cross as payment for all the times I mess up.  Thank God that He loves me despite my sin.  Thank God that he forgives me when I ask.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Giving Thanks

 I wish I could come up with a clever spin on Thanksgiving, but nothing is coming to me.  Let me just say that I have so many things to be thankful for, and I am quite sure I take most of them for granted most of the time.   Here's what I got:  The opportunity to work at something I love with my son, Michael, and Janet.   Relatively good health.  Close friends to share life with.  My mom and brothers close by.  Kids that are close by and grounded.  Six grandkids that are pure joy (and energy).  My precious wife, Caroline.  A church with people we love and that loves others.  A Savior that died for me.  I hope your list is long, too.  But if it isn't, I pray that 2021 brings you new hope and new life.  Happy Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Uncommon collaboration


For those of you that follow this blog, you know how important music is to me and my family.  I love most styles from symphonic to pop to country.  I wasn't that interested in country music before Carrie Underwood made her debut on American Idol.  I get that most long-time country fans don't consider Carrie "real"  country music, but she is what started it for me.  I think my country horizons have expanded some since then.  Caroline and I are currently watching Ken Burn's documentary on country music which is fascinating.  Many see the Carter family in SW Virginia as being the roots of country music in the United States.  My parents were from this area, and we visited the Carter Family Fold as young adults, way before I was able to appreciate it.  There are two trends in pop music that I have noticed.  The first is the collaborations between different genres.  The second is that artists from all genres are getting more bold singing about their faith.  I don't know what is in these artist's hearts, but I choose to believe they are sharing something that represents truth to them.  I was thrilled to see this collaboration from Carrie and John Legend, who  is also one of my favorites.  Merry pre-Thanksgiving Christmas.

Friday, November 13, 2020

...building up

 I watched our country, my friends and my family struggle with the decision over who to elect as president.  I struggled myself, but not publicly.  I can't imagine the pressure that will be on Joe Biden as he takes office.  The problems are enormously complex, and there won't be any easy solutions.  Complicated solutions will cost a lot of money, and I understand I will be paying my share of that.  I am encouraged that Biden is claiming to depend on his faith and on the Bible.  I hope that is true and becomes more true over time.  He referenced Eclesiastes: 3, 1-3 in one of his speeches. " For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up."   I am praying hard for that building up part.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Unbridled Love

I was shocked and saddened this week when I learned that the sister of one of my best friends was killed in an automobile accident this week.  My friend was devastated, but I treasure the few minutes we had to speak by phone.  I could think of nothing to say that would help.  His love for her is unbridled, and he misses her deeply already.  I just listened.  In the midst of unspeakable sadness, it is only God that gives us strength because of the promise of being reunited one day.  One of my friend's pastors recorded this message, no doubt with my friend in mind.

Friday, October 30, 2020

His Hands and Feet

I was fortunate to be able to take a few days away from work this week to visit some of my relatives in North Carolina this week.   Caroline is my wife, and her brother has some serious health problems that have put him in and out of the hospital.  He is currently living on his own, but some basic life tasks are difficult.  It was great to be able to spend time with him and address some of the things that have been slowing him down.  But the best part of my visit was getting to see Caroline in action.  She is one of the most nurturing people I have ever known and is amazing at finding a balance between providing for her brother and loving him with strength and grace.  I got to see Jesus working through her this week, so I feel like I know Him a little better now.

Friday, October 23, 2020



If you are an NFL fan, and especially if you are a Colts fan, you know about DeForest Buckner, or "Defo".  Buckner was traded offseason this year to the Colts from the 49er's in exchange for a first round draft pick.  (Buckner 49er's highlights here.)  While he was initially disappointed with the trade, he tweeted yesterday, "Coming here, they went beyond my expectations. This is where I'm supposed to be." In addition to the excitement of being the NFL's highest paid defensive lineman, and a win over the Bengals on Sunday, Buckner had something else to celebrate.  He committed his life to Christ and was baptized.    Defo gives a lot of credit for his decision to follow Christ to the 49er's chaplain, Earl Smith.   Earl has his own great story.   After being shot 6 times in a drug raid in 1975, Earl committed his life to Christ and to a 25 year prison ministry that led him to the opportunity to be the chaplain for the 49er's and the Golden State Warriors. I love to see God working in His people, and with so many celebrities/athletes seemingly having no interest in God, I love it when He finds a way to break through to one of them.  Praise God.

Friday, October 16, 2020



Josh grew up in a small town in North Georgia.  He was relatively athletic, but was more into tennis and wakeboarding than team sports.  His dad, William, also grew up in North Georgia.  William had a job working at one of the carpet manufacturers, but his real passion was fishing, and he developed a knack for making his own lures.  His friends that he fished with saw his fishing success and hoped that the lures might have something to do with it.  William started making lures for his friends in his garage, and after several years, was selling them on eBay.  The lures became very popular, and a friend of Williams approached him about turning William's hobby into a business.  With money from the friend, and William's lures and reputation, the "lure" business grew into a successful company selling several lines of products for the outdoorsman.


At first Josh wasn't that interested in his dad's business - except for the fact that his company's success did allow the family to own an above average wakeboard boat.  Josh took full advantage hosting his high school buddies for hours of fun at the lake.  


But as Josh begun considering colleges, he recognized that his dad's company might offer him a place to land when he graduated.  He elected to go to a technical school to study process improvement and advanced manufacturing techniques.  He had seen how time intensive it was for his dad to make his lures and knew that the cost to produce them could be less with a better process.  He studied hard and made good grades.  On the weekends, when his dad was out fishing with friends, he would spend hours in his dad's workshop exploring what materials his dad had used to make the lures and pouring over pencil sketches of lures stored in one of the drawers in his shop. 

In one of his final classes in college, Josh had to redesign a manufacturing process for an existing product.  Without direct help from his dad, Josh used everything he had learned from his dad's shop and in college to redesign the manufacturing process for a new fishing lure.  Josh hoped that his commitment to the project would help secure a place for him in his dad's business.

After graduating college with honors, Josh got with his dad to present the new lure manufacturing process.  His dad listened intently and was pleased with his son's work.  Then Josh asked his dad if he could be the Director of Manufacturing for the lure side of the business, promising to reduce production costs by 20% within the first year.  William looked at his son, but didn't respond.  A growing feeling of rejection started welling up in Josh's stomach. It was so strong that he thought he was going to puke.  He didn't know whether to bust out crying or scream in rage.  "All of that work.  All of that time.  Wasted.  All for nothing.", he thought.  Finally after what seemed like hours to Josh, but was probably only a few seconds, his dad said, "Josh, I love you so much.  I will help you find a good entry level position in the right company - whether it's my company or another company."  Josh couldn't believe it.  "How could you do this to me, your own son, after all I have done?"  His dad replied carefully, "I just wanted you to come fishing with me."


(Disclaimer:  While this parable is mine, the idea was completely inspired by J. I. Packer's Knowing God.)

Friday, October 9, 2020

Broken Vessels

I have a good friend whose son committed suicide several years ago.  I posted then about the helplessness I felt and the unimaginable pain and loss of his family.  That pain is complicated by the feeling of wondering if there was anything we could have done to prevent it.  I have a good friend whose nephew is struggling now.  He doesn't know God and has mentioned killing himself on multiple occasions.  We don't know if this is a plea for attention or something he is actually considering.  He has lost respect for his family, and his friends support his "I am only living for me attitude".   What do we do?  We have a chance to do something.  We can love him and pray for him.  We can also pray that someone in his life that he respects, or someone from his past who knows God, can show him that there is a lot to live for when we recognize that we are children of God.  I found this song about the hope that God can make out of his broken vessels.  Please join me in praying for Justin.

Friday, October 2, 2020

Polemical debate

 I learned a new word today - polemic.  A polemic is a strongly written or verbal attack on someone and comes from the Greek word, polemikos.  Apparently, polemical debate has been going on for multiple millennia and continues vividly today.  Jesus was frequently the subject of polemics, but he almost always chose a different response in his debates.   His most famous debate was with the most powerful opponent the world has ever known, Satan himself.   The story told in Matthew 4, 1-11 first tells of the devil tempting Jesus to perform a miracle turning stones to bread, as Jesus had been fasting for 40 days.  Jesus responded, "Man should not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the Word of God".  Satan then tempted Jesus to save himself after jumping from a cliff.  Jesus responded, "It is written, 'do not put the Lord your God to the Test'".  Then Satan offered Jesus the whole world if Jesus would bow down and worship him and Jesus responded, "Away from me Satan for it is written, 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.'"  In the face of polemics, I pray that I might have more of what Jesus has, so that I can respond like he would.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Change of Plans?

We had some spirited discussion in our ConnectGroup from church this week over the topic: "God is unchangeable".  We all agreed that his character, his purpose and his will are unchangeable, but one of the sections in J.I. Packer's book, "Knowing God", talks about his "ways" being unchangeable.  When we look at the Old Testament, we see some practices, seemingly condoned by God, that aren't accepted at all today - animal sacrifice, slavery and polygamy to name a few.  My pastors helped me understand that in the Old Testament, we see people reaching up to God trying to do anything and everything possible to get his attention and get closer to him.  In the New Testament, we see God coming down to us and showing himself to us through the person of Jesus.  This was God's plan forever, so his plan didn't change.  It is playing out in each one of our lives day by day.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Ancient History

 Our ConnectGroup from church met for the first time this week.  We are studying J. I. Packer's book, "Knowing God".   Most of the reviews I saw about the book were very positive, but there are a few recent reviews that said the book was old-fashioned and out of touch with today's world.  It was written in 1973, so almost five decades have passed since it was released.  In trying to learn a little more about Packer, I found that he was born in England and finished his career and life in Canada.  He was influenced by writer's including Charles Ryle, Jonathan Edwards, John Owen and John Calvin.  I was only familiar with John Calvin.  These men were born in 1800, 1703, 1616 and 1509 respectively.  If Packer can go back 50 decades to study the truth, I think we can go back 5. In Packer's own words, "I would rather be old-fashioned and clear than modern and muddled."  I can't wait to get some clarity.

Friday, September 11, 2020

From the tomato fields to the cross


Yvan Sagnet was born in central Africa in 1985, but dreamed of living in Italy someday, primarily because of the influence of one Italy's most famous soccer players, Robert Baggio.  In 2007, his dream was realized when he was granted a visa to study at the University of Turin.  After scoring poorly on some early exams, he lost his scholarship, and needed to find work.  He was introduced to the tomato-picking industry in southern Italy and accepted a position working there, but soon found that the position was more like one of a slave than an employee.  Over 800 workers labored for over 14 hours per day with no contract and below minimum wage, often enduring verbal and physical abuse from the caporali (gang masters).  Yvan wanted more for himself, but more than anything, he saw the struggle of his co-workers and wanted more for them.  He led a protest that eventually led to massive public support and new laws against the coparali.  In 2017, 12 members of the corparali were convicted of enslavement and human trafficking.  A Swiss filmmaker, Milo Rau, was moved by the efforts of Yvan, and has just released a film entitled "The New Gospel".  Instead of choosing an actor for the film, he chose Yvan.  The film is a parable of sorts, showing the parallels between Yvan's fight for his coworkers and Jesus's fight for each of us.   I haven't seen it yet, but I hope to.  In the meantime, I just choose to be inspired.

Friday, September 4, 2020

Q is for Question

 I learned some new words this morning:  QAnon, 4chan and cabal.  I am not too great at social media.  If I were, perhaps I would have known these words earlier.  I think I may be happy that I made it this long without them.  So for any of you that are as disconnected as I am, QAnon is a conspiracy theory started by a poster, Q, on an an anonymous message board, 4chan, that claims that a cabal of satanic pedophiles running a child prostitution ring will be taken down in a day of reckoning.  Qanon followers believe members of the cabal are Hollywood celebrities, members of the news media and powerful politicians, mostly democrats.  So why give QAnon even a moment's notice in this post or others like it?  It is now thought that there are hundreds of thousands of people following the theory, and regrettably, some of them claim to be Christians.  Some of the QAnon theories have even worked themselves into church leadership and the pulpit causing some churches to split over divided loyalties.  It breaks my heart to see people hurting so bad that they will crave anything that might explain why they are hurting.  I am broken, too.   I have craved other things besides Jesus, too.  But I am convinced nothing can help me but Him.  If you have more curiosity and more time, I found that this recent video helped to increase my understanding.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Swing Shot


Swing Shot

Work has been quite busy for the SpotOnTheLake team over the past three months.  Apparently, there are a lot of people who have been cooped up inside that are looking for a weekend getaway place.   It has been somewhat of a challenge to balance work with family, but this morning, I had a fun break.  While the moms took care of a little shopping, I got some time with three of my granddaughters and my mom at the play park.  This is what makes all the work worthwhile.  I hope you can make time this week for the people that are most important to you.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Generous Receiving

 Jeff Shinabarger is an author, speaker and social entrepreneur that lives in Atlanta with his wife, Andre' and their two children.  I came across his TedX talk from several years ago when I was doing some research on generosity.  Jeff does a good job talking about how in order for one person to give, there has to be someone to receive.  Many have gotten better about giving, but how good are we at receiving?  By looking for ways to receive, we acknowledge that we don't have it all together, creating humility in ourselves.  At the same time, we are becoming an outlet for someone else's generosity.   Take 10 minutes to listen to Jeff's talk and think about ways that you can receive generously.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Country Kudos

I wasn't much of a country music fan when I was young.  One of my first memories of enjoying country music was in 1988.  I was at an IBM event with Caroline, and Dolly Parton was the entertainment one evening.  I liked her music, but I loved her.  She was so down to earth - and so likeable.  Many years later, I watched Carrie Underwood win American Idol and was impressed by how she handled her new-found fame.  Later she sang, along with Vince Gill, one of the most memorable versions of How Great Thou Art that I have ever heard.  This year, I noticed that Zach Williams was nominated as the Dove Award's Artist of the Year.  I didn't know a lot about him, but was delighted to find this duet with Dolly Parton, connecting several decades of memories for me.  Some celebrities take a lot of heat for only looking out for themselves.  It's great to see these country artists looking out for something else.

Friday, August 7, 2020

Lions or Tigers or Bears


King Darius needed some help managing his kingdom.  He appointed three administrators to assist him.  One of those administrators, Daniel, showed a lot of promise.   So much promise, that King Darius wanted to set Daniel over the whole kingdom.  The other administrators were envious and worked to find some dirt on Daniel that would subvert the king's plans.  Finding none, they suggested that the king issue a decree that anyone who prayed to a god or person other than the king would be thrown into the lion's den.  Hearing this, Daniel went to his room and prayed to the God of Israel, as he had always done before.  When he was found out, the king announced that per the decree, Daniel would be thrown into the lion's den, but he told Daniel, "may the God that you serve continually rescue you."   The next morning the king ran to the den to see if Daniel was alright.  Daniel emerged unharmed.  The men who had falsely accused Daniel were thrown into the lion's den with their families, and all were slaughtered.  The king then issued a new decree:  "May you prosper greatly.  You must fear and have reverence for the God of Daniel, for he is the living God and endures forever."

Keep the faith.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Just 3

3 years into Jesus' ministry, Jesus declared that He would be leaving his apostles to be with his Father.  3 years earlier, the apostles had uprooted their lives to follow Jesus, watched him perform miracles, and even performed miracles in his name.  They were shocked and saddened, and they questioned his reason for leaving them.  Jesus led 3 of them, Peter, James and John, to the 9000' peak of Mount Tabor - just 3.  At that site, Moses and Elijah appeared to them.  Peter exclaimed, "Let us put up 3 shelters, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah."  Just 3.  Jesus' clothes became dazzling white and there was a radiance that surrounded him that was other-worldly.  A cloud covered them, and a voice came from the cloud saying, "This is my Son, whom I love.  Listen to Him."  Jesus' transfiguration gave these 3 apostles the strength to accept Jesus' approaching departure and the will to pass his message on to all who followed.  600 years later a church was erected at the base of Mount Tabor, which was most certainly considered one of the most holy places for followers of Jesus.  The discovery of that church was announced last week, 1300 years after it stood at that location.  The exterior walls of the church are clearly visible.  An apse is a semi-circular, domed recess area in a church frequently used to display statues of deity.  This newly discovered church has 3 apses.  Just 3.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Iron Sharpens Iron

I continue to be embarrassed that sometimes my first introduction to great men and women occurs at their death.  J. I. Packer passed away last week, and I now learn that he is one of the most influential evangelicals in North America.  I hope that many of you are already familiar with his work.  I was not.  One of his most widely read books is "Knowing God" which was written in 1973.  That book is now on the way to my house in hopes that I can learn how to know God more from someone who obviously does.  This is the most recent video I could find of him when he was 90 years old - still full of life.  I hope you will take time to listen.  

Friday, July 17, 2020

Together Again

My good friend, Richard, is working through some health issues right now.   He cannot see the doctors he needs to see until they get the results of his COVID test, and those results have been delayed.  He is in a waiting period that I can only imagine to be excruciating.  Many are praying for peace and healing for him right now.  His daughter-in-law sent him this worship song, and he shared it with all of us.  I see the congregation in this video worshiping together, and I yearn for the time when I can do this again with my church.  But I believe in the power of prayer - and the power of God.  Watch the video along with me and ask God to fill you with his spirit as if we were physically side by side. Pray together with me for Richard.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Worship al fresco

I have missed being able to gather with friends at The Vine Church for worship on Sundays.  We are hoping to start back in August, but for July, we are meeting al fresco in the parking lots of our two campuses.  The staff has done a great job planning safe events so that people can at least see each other, even though we're not shaking hands and hugging like we used to.  Most importantly, it has provided a time for me to slow down and focus on God and his amazing creation.  I hope you are finding time with Him.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Sacrificial living

I have never served in the military and not many of my close friends have either.  At 59 years old, it seems a lot of us avoided that opportunity.  Lucky - I guess.  Sacrificing for family and friends is one thing, but I can't even imagine a life dedicated to sacrificing everything for people that I don't know.  The best I can do is appreciate and honor those that do.  I think this poem does a good job of that.  Happy Independence Day.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Piracy - not on the internet

This week is Pirate Camp.   We get together with some friends and some of our grandkids (ages 4 and up) at the lake for three days packed with fun.  This year we have 7 pirates.  This is one of the most exhausting and fulfilling weeks of the year.  I wish I had the energy to do this more, but this will have to suffice for now.   Being alone with the grandkids without the parents gives us a chance to really connect and get to know them.   The theme of searching for the stolen treasure chest stays the same, but it never seems to get old for them.  This is the 5th year for the older pirates.  I posted some short videos to 
facebook if you would like to see some of the fun.  

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Our Race

One of my best friends and spiritual mentors and I had a good conversation this week about race in our workplaces, and how we should respond to the concerns that are being amplified right now.    He introduced me to a preacher named Voddie Baucham via YouTube.   I was first mesmerized by Mr. Baucham's clear and deliberate delivery - probably the best I have ever seen.  I then got to dwell in his words, each one carefully selected to deliver a message which I believe to be saturated with God.  He has several sermons online, but this 7 minute clip will give you a taste.  Prepare to be inspired.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Color deaf

One of my close friends is a different color.  While he was born in the United States, both of his parents are from Mexico.  As we were eating lunch outside, there was a protest gathering across the street to denounce the way black people have been treated by law enforcement.  Discussion of the protest led to a discussion of how he had been treated by law enforcement and by others over the course of his life.  When visiting his family in Mexico, he was pulled over by the local police.  He was yanked from the car, beaten and robbed by the policeman.  Horrific.  He then told me stories of how he was ostracized in US schools by other Hispanics, because he wasn't born in Mexico and chose not to participate in some of the less productive activities that they were engaged in.  His stories reinforced that I have lived a sheltered, white life.  I want to hear.  I want to listen.  But while my true desire is to have compassion for all people,  I will probably never fully understand the pain that others have had to deal with because of the color of their skin.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Mr. Floyd

I watched with horror the video showing a police officer kneeling on George Floyd's neck as he suffocated.  I can't imagine what Mr. Floyd could have done that would have elicited such a heinous response.  If he was handcuffed, but they feared he would run, couldn't they have restrained his legs?  Now Mr. Floyd is gone, and his family and friends are grieving.  We, who don't know him personally, are left with the news and social media in outrage.  But what are we going to do?  How can we be outraged without doing something?  I believe in prayer, so I will pray.  But am I really listening for what God wants me to do?  Here is all I have this morning.  I may not be able to comfort Mr. Floyd's family, but there is probably somebody in my sphere of influence that needs comforting.  I should do that today.  And if there isn't someone in my sphere that needs comforting, maybe I need to think about expanding my sphere.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Moving Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a tough one for me.  Not because of memories awakened, but because I have so few memories to awaken.  My dad served in the army, but I know little about his experiences there, and he is now gone.  I don't have many close friends or acquaintances that have served.  But I do have this feeling of thankfulness for those that do choose to serve, and I feel very undeserving of their sacrifice.  I found this Memorial Day message from 1953 by Billy Graham.  While the years and the decades have changed, his words could not be truer today.  Take 8 minutes to be inspired.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Live Love

I love music - especially live music.  I have posted frequently about my participation in bands since I was in the 6th grade.   Caroline and I are currently in the Georgia Wind Symphony.  I also love church music - all kinds - from the pipe organs to choral arrangements to praise and worship music.  One of the things I have missed most during the pandemic is worshiping live with my church on Sundays.   Watching online is ok, but it isn't the same for me.  Passion City Church went to a little extra trouble on Mother's Day to get a large group of musicians together live.  Check this out and be blessed.  To see the original live version from Elevation Worship, click here.  This was shot at the beginning of March and was probably one of the last times all of these people were together in the same room. 

Thursday, May 7, 2020

The Big C Church

We are almost 2 months into the pandemic in the US, and I miss Church.  Our church, The Vine, has been doing all it can to provide continued opportunities to connect online, but I miss Church.  I don't miss the building, but I miss the people that are the Church to me.   I miss greeting them, talking to them face to face, singing with them, praying with them and learning with them.  Our one-on-one connection with God is essential, and we can work on that all day long whether we are with others or by ourselves.  But God also instructs us to gather corporately, and by doing so, he created the Church.  I look forward to the chance to have Church again, and I pray that the longing I feel now will never subside.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Rules and Regs

Our ConnectGroup from church completed Ravi Zacharias's book, The Grand Weaver, a couple of weeks ago.  The group enjoyed it, and I would recommend it for other groups or for you individually.  We are wrapping up our Winter/Spring season and have spent the last couple of weeks sharing from our personal bible study.  I wanted to pick a book that others might not pick, so I chose Leviticus.  The only thing I really knew about Leviticus was that there were a lot of rules about what to do and not to do, especially as it applies to food preparation and who you choose to sleep with.   But then I stumbled upon this in chapter 26:11-12.  "I will live among you in my sacred Tent, and I will never turn away from you. 12 I will be with you; I will be your God, and you will be my people."  This is the promise God made to us, if we will try our best to walk with him.  I want to do that more.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Determined Devotion

There has been a lot of disruption to our lives over the last month.  Many have faced serious health crises and some even death.  Health workers have put their own well being at risk.  Many have lost their jobs and are facing severe financial hardships.   I have to say for me, for now, that it has been a series of inconveniences: a different work schedule, more cooking at home, no haircut, etc.  My biggest hurt has been not being able to see my kids and grandkids except over FaceTime. There have been some minor revelations.  We have spent more time outside walking and sitting on the porch.  This has allowed us to see more of our neighbors in the last month than we have seen them in the last year.   While sitting on the porch, we noticed a bird's nest on top of one of the posts.  In the past, I might have viewed this as a nuisance, a mess to be cleaned up later. But this year, we have just been watching.   Watching the momma bird sit on the eggs and then watching as the momma and daddy bird brought worms to the four hatchlings.   It is an amazing thing to witness their complete devotion to their babies.  It certainly mirrors God's determined devotion to each of us.  I hope we can hang onto something good that came to us during the pandemic.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Going Home

Have you ever been away from your family or loved ones for an extended period of time?  Do you remember the longing for getting back home?  Do you remember the joy of seeing, hearing and hugging your loved ones upon your return?   I think that yearning for home is similar to the yearning that believers should have when they think of heaven.  God gives us glimpses of what heaven will be like in this world.  There have been a lot of those glimpses recently as we take the focus off of ourselves and our schedules and think about others and God.  In CS Lewis's essay, The Weight of Glory, Lewis describes our longing for our eternal home.  He writes, "..(it's like) the secret we cannot hide and cannot tell, though we desire to do both. We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience.  We cannot hide it because our experience is constantly suggesting it."  I hope you get a glimpse of heaven this week.

Thursday, April 9, 2020


Caroline and I keep thinking about the movie Groundhog Day.  That's the one where Bill Murray's character keeps living the same day over and over again.  That's how the sheltered-in requirements make us feel.  It's like we are living the same day over and over again.  When I really think about what is different from the way it was before, I keep landing on Sundays.  Sundays were the day we got to go to church, see friends, serve and worship.  I keep thinking about how sweet it is going to be the first Sunday back after the pandemic.  I also wonder how many weeks, months, years that I will be able to hold on to that sweet feeling.  I hope forever.  Until then, we have groups like this getting creative to find ways to worship that has never been done before.  Maybe now is the Breakthrough.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

It is well

The governor of Georgia just announced that schools are closed for the rest of the school year.  There are a lot of sad people out there including my kids and grandkids.  I love that my grandkids love school and the people there, and I hate that they won't get to go back until fall.  I have to try to find other things to focus on.  My pastor reminded me of these comforting words today in a facebook post.

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.  

And of course that reminded me of one of my favorite worship moments of all time.  Take a few moments and focus on Him.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Wars In Italy

Italy is in the midst of one of the worst wars it has ever experienced.  In its war against the Coronavirus, it has lost over 7500 lives - more than any other country in the world.  Over 2000 years ago, Italy was in the midst of another war, a civil war being led by Pompey the Great and Julius Caesar.  Marcus Tullius Cicero was one of the leaders working with Pompey and was eventually executed by Mark Anthony.  Cicero was also known as one of Rome's greatest orators and a master of the Latin language.  One of his most famous quotes is, "Dum spiro, spero".  Translated, "while I breathe, I hope".

One of the disappointments of social distancing for me and Caroline has been the suspension of our Georgia Wind Symphony schedule.  I find peace in listening to this arrangement by Chris Pilsner being performed by our Georgia Wind Symphony and directed by Conductor-Emeritus, David Gregory, "Dum Spiro Spero".

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Fear No More

I hate cliche.  But in trying to write about what we are going through right now, I find it difficult to come up with an original thought.  My heart aches for the people who have been directly affected - those infected, the families that have lost loved ones and those that have lost their jobs.  My heart soars as I see the hospital workers on the front line risking their own health to help others.   I'm confounded over wanting to help others but needing to stay separate.  I am trying to see social distancing as a chance to be closer to my immediate family.   I am trying to remember that God is in control and fear no more.  Listen and take a few minutes to focus on Him.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

I Still Believe

Jeremy Camp's, I Still Believe, is one of my favorite songs of all time.  I didn't know a lot about Jeremy's personal story until this week when I saw that there is a movie about him being released by the same name, "I Still Believe".  After some quick research, I found out that Jeremy's first wife died of ovarian cancer at the age of 23.  "I Still Believe" was the first song he wrote after her death.  These lyrics hold a new meaning for me now, and I am looking forward to seeing the movie.  Here is the original song, and here is a re-release for the movie.  Keep believing.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Apple Orchard

Last night, our ConnectGroup met to continue the study of Ravi Zacharias's book, The Grand Weaver.  Chapter four focuses on morality, and Ravi begins with a discussion of the Garden of Eden.   While I have probably read about the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil dozens of times, I was embarrassed that I didn't remember that there was a second named tree, The Tree of Life.  Not a lot is said in  Genesis about why there are two trees, but I think The Tree of Life is there to represent the choice that we have - the choice to either try to be God or to the choice to try to follow God.  When Adam and Eve ate from The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil,  two things happened: they disobeyed God's direct instruction not to eat from that tree, and they were lured into thinking that by eating the fruit, they would know what God knows and be equal to him.  The Tree of Life represents the life that God makes available to each of us through obedience to him and a recognition that He is almighty and above us.  Adam and Eve spoiled that opportunity for themselves and all that followed them, but God filled the chasm by allowing His Son to come to our busted world and die to pay the debt for our sins - thus becoming The Everlasting Tree of Life.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Two Legends

Darryl Strawberry was drafted by the NY Mets in 1983, and the Mets fans hoped he would be the catalyst for a huge turnaround in that franchise.   The very next year, Dwight Gooden was signed to give them the extra punch that they needed from the mound.   The rise in fame of the two stars was meteoric, and each career seemed to mirror the other.  Regrettably, it wasn't just their performance on the field that was similar.  Both struggled with the high cost of fame including addictions to alcohol and drugs that landed them both in jail.   I came across this documentary which tells the story well.  Since the documentary was produced, their stories have continued.  Gooden was arrested in June of last year for driving under the influence and cocaine possession.   Strawberry's sister introduced him to Jesus while he was in prison in 2002.  He turned his life over to Jesus shortly afterward and he has been on a different trajectory since that time.  Check out this video to see what he is up to now.  My prayers are with Darryl for his continued success and victory over additions and with Dwight that he will find the hope he needs in Jesus.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Not just a clanging symbol

I have had a couple of people remind me recently that when I am feeling disconnected from God, the Psalms are a great place to spend some time.  Last night, my wife, Caroline, reminded me of one of my favorites - Psalm 150.

Praise the Lord.[a]
Praise God in his sanctuary;
    praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
    praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
    praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with timbrel and dancing,
    praise him with the strings and pipe,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
    praise him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord
I have posted frequently about how important music is in our lives and it is refreshing to be reminded that God loves music, too.  I encourage you to spend some time meditating on one or more Psalms that speak to you.