Thursday, December 30, 2021

Lonely Time

 I love the feeling I get at the end of the year of closing something out and starting something new.  It's kind of like finishing the end of a gallon of milk in the refrigerator so I can throw it away and make room for something else.  The end of the year is the one time I look over successes and failures from the previous year (personal and business) and make plans to be better in the coming year.  I would guess my goals aren't that different from most other people - eat less, exercise more, read more, learn more, spend more time with family and friends, work less, produce more.    One of the other goals that I always have, but am terrible at achieving is to spend more time quiet - not working, not watching TV, not listening to music - just quiet.   Being quiet should give me more time to listen, and I think that should be good  for me.  Some of the other goals come easier to me, so I think I will focus on that one this year.  I think I will do that right now.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Believe

There were shepherds camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”   At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises: "Glory to God in the heavenly heights,  Peace to all men and women on earth who please him."  Luke 2: 8-12 (The Message)


There are no better words to describe why those who believe are doing what they are doing this week.   I hope you believe, but either way, I would love to talk to you about it.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Funeral Favor

 

Caroline and I are taking an unexpected trip to Durham, NC this week.  Regrettably, it is to attend the funeral for our Uncle Dicky.  Dicky's wife, Delma, passed away earlier this year, and now Dicky is with her again.  He missed her desperately.  His world revolved around her, and she took great care of him always, but even more as his health was failing.  After her death, I got to see his daughter-in-law, Tanya, step in and take charge of his care, along with help from the rest of the family and some professional help.  While all of us will miss  Dicky, I am comforted knowing that his health is restored and he has been reunited with the love of his life.   I used to dread funerals.  But as time goes on, I have found a way to see the beauty in a family's love on full display, and the love of God for all of us.  He will be there with us at the funeral - and always.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

The Temptations

 When Jesus was tempted by Satan, I always assumed that He had a choice as to whether to sin or not, but He chose not to.   Jesus IS fully human.  W.G.T. Shedd wrote, "When the logos goes into union with a human nature, so as to constitute a single person with it, He becomes responsible for all that this person does through the instrumentality of this nature...Should Jesus Christ sin, incarnate God would sin."  And we know that is impossible.  I have know way to know if Shedd is right or wrong, but his body or work pretty much ensures he knows better than me.   So, if we know that Satan's temptation of Jesus could not result in Him sinning, what is the point of the temptation?  I believe God wants us to know Satan is real and that Satan's main purpose is to lead us away from God through sin.  By Jesus taking on flesh, he wanted to experience all that we will experience and demonstrate to us how to resist temptation and encourage us that we can.  Some will say, "how could He have experienced what we do if He was God?"  Fair question.  I hope I get to ask Him one day.  Until then, I will keep trying to understand.

Friday, December 3, 2021

He Gets Us

 


Christians frequently get a bad wrap. And a lot of times we deserve it.  Believers in Jesus are sinners that want to be better. We want to become more like Him, but we will never make it,  until we see him face to face.   The Servant Foundation is a non-profit organization that wants those who don't know Jesus to understand this about us.  They recently released a media campaign to help paint a different picture of who Jesus is.  Take 30 seconds to see an example of what they are up to, and click here for more information on The Servant Foundation and their work.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Thanks For Giving

Tomorrow we celebrate Thanksgiving.  I have a lot to celebrate.  I have my mom of 90 years next door to me.  I have my brothers and their families nearby.  I have my wife of 38 years right next to me.  I have my 2 children, their spouses and their 7 children that will be joining us for a couple of days over the holiday.  In addition to family, I have my friends and my work.   I am especially thankful for Janet who has been working with me for 14 years and has proven to be an invaluable part of the Spot On The Lake team.  I thank God for the people that He has put into my life and for sending His son Jesus to die for my sins.  

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Addicted To Love

 


One of my good friends has a son who has struggled with alcohol addiction most of his adult life.   I imagine almost all of us have friends or family that are struggling with addiction now or have struggled with it in the past.  It is a horrible life-robbing disease.   And it robs not only the addict's life, but it robs the lives of those closest to him or her.  In my friend's case, his struggle between strength and grace is palpable.   He wants to love his son - and he does love his son.  But what is the best way to show love?  Strength, acceptance, grace, withdrawal?  Showing grace can lead to enablement.  Showing strength can lead to broken relationships.  There is no easy answer, but God sent his son to the earth to help us - to set an example for how to be.   We can study and meditate on Him, and He will help us.   

My words and thoughts seem hollow as I write them.  I came across this TedTalk delivered by a recovering alcoholic and drug addict.  I praise God that He put a person in her life to help her, and I praise God that He gave her the strength to help others.  I love that she closes her talk with a message of hope for each one of us.


Thursday, November 11, 2021

Fear what?

Last night in our ConnectGroup, we discussed the emotions of Jesus.   There are references in the Bible to Jesus feeling the emotions of happiness, sadness, anger and compassion.   The author of the book we are reading, Knowing Christ, did not mention the emotion of fear.   So while we could think of no direct mention of Jesus being fearful, we have to suspect that Jesus, being fully human, experienced fear.  But Jesus told us to "fear not", so is fear a sin?  We believe the emotion of fear is not a sin, but our response to it can be.  It is right for us to fear an approaching train as our car is stalled on the railroad track.   We should do something.   But our response to fear can often be sin.  If we don't do the hard things we know we should do out of fear, that is a sin.  The Bible also tells us to fear God, but for a believer, fearing God means to have a healthy reverence for his power and strength.   We can't fully surrender to Him without that.  That reverence for Him should push us towards Him when we are feeling fearful.

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Pain Relief

 




We love getting together with our ConnectGroup from church on Wednesday nights.  We make time to have a meal together, discuss the book we are reading, and pray.  Several of our members are struggling with the health and wellbeing of family members, so the prayer time has been that much more important the last few weeks.  We know that when things aren't going just right, it can push us closer to God.  This song by Laura Story is one of my favorite songs that puts those ideas to music.  I hope you will take time to listen.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Spirit Sighting

The Trinity is one of the great mysteries of the Christian faith.  The Triune God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Three - but one.  It is something I will not fully understand while on this earth, but I want to try.  It's easier for me to think of the three as separate.  The Father is the Creator.  The Son is Jesus, and the Holy Spirit is the part of God inside each one of us believers.  But last night in our ConnectGroup, we talked about how the Holy Spirit has a bigger role to play than that.  The Holy Spirit came upon the virgin, Mary, to create Jesus in her womb.  The Holy Spirit descended on Jesus like a dove at his baptism by John.  The Holy Spirit anointed Jesus as King, Teacher, and Miracle Worker.   The Holy Spirit comforted Jesus as he was tempted by Satan.  The Holy Spirit sustained Jesus after his bodily death on the cross and was the power that resurrected Him from the grave.  So while I have always thought of the Holy Spirit as the person of God that is within me, the Holy Spirit was also in and around Jesus giving Him all He needed to claim the title, Prince of Peace.  As important, since the Holy Spirit dwelled within Jesus, Jesus was able to fully reflect how it should look for the Holy Spirit to dwell within each of us.  While I may not fully understand on this earth, I know God is pleased when we try.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Another Lion King

 

I don't read very much.  I don't read enough.  I want to read more.   But I have posted in the past about my love for C.S. Lewis and his writings.   If I am reading a book by another author, and happen to scan ahead on the page and see those two defining initials, "C.S.", in the text, my attention level is immediately raised.  I know the author has the same affinity that I have for Lewis, and I wonder if what is ahead is something that I have read before or something that might be brand new to me.  Either way, I know it will be good.  The first book I read by C.S. Lewis was "Mere Christianity".  I fell in love with the way he made complex ideas understandable.  I also fell in love with his humor and his humility.  But C.S. Lewis was not just a theologian.  He was also an artist with a vibrant imagination.  His ability to reflect truth through fantasy was a gift like none I have ever seen before.  The most popular of his fantasy writings was "The Chronicles of Narnia" and specifically "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe".  I was excited to see today that a new film about Lewis is being released on November 3rd, "The Most Reluctant Convert".   I look forward to seeing it.  If you are interested in a quick look at C.S. Lewis's life, this article is a good review.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

DIY - with a little help

 

For 20 years, I had a career in Information Technology starting at IBM.   As I think back on that time, I feel like going to work mattered about one day out of five.  It wasn't always one day a week.  Sometimes, I would be working on a project that would keep me busy for a few weeks, but other times, I felt like there was nothing worthwhile to work on.  When I changed careers to real estate 18 years ago, that all changed.  Everything I do now is because I think it is worthwhile.  It's not always easy or fun, but it is something I choose to do because it is important to me.  I wish the same for all of you.  I hope you have work that is meaningful and brings gratification.  I found this story about Brooke Riley who started Re-fabbed.com.  She was in a corporate job that was beating her down.  She had to stop for health reasons.  She started a DIY blog that now has over 800,000 followers on facebook.  Her reliance on her Creator helped her through the transition, and she is faithful to give Him the credit.  Cheers to Brooke and her success.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Pause Button?


In the Fall of 2019, I was browsing upcoming concerts and saw that Lauren Daigle was coming to Atlanta in April of  2020.  I purchased tickets for me and Caroline.   That same month, Lauren was performing one of her newest songs in Wichita, Kansas for the first time ever. Fast forward several months to March of 2020, and we were disappointed that the April concert was being postponed until Fall of 2020, and then again to Spring of 2021 and then again to Fall of 2021.   Caroline and I attended the concert last Thursday night.  It was beautiful.  The highlight of the concert was a "new" song that Lauren first performed in 2019, but didn't release until 2021 - Hold On To Me.   In some ways, it's like the pause button was hit for a year and a half.  In other ways, it's like we have been changed uniquely and permanently.  Listen to Hold On To Me here and hear the rest of the back story here.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Hypostatically speaking

I had never heard of "the hypostatic union" until last week.  The root, hypostasis, has both a medical and philosophical meaning.  The philosophical meaning has to do with the "underlying qualities or substance".  The hypostatic union is used by Christians to describe the fact that Jesus was both fully human and fully divine.  That is a hard concept for most of us to fully comprehend.  In trying to understand something difficult, we often try to compare it to something that is more familiar.  Last night in our ConnectGroup, we talked about a marriage being a commitment between two people.  The people are still both individuals, but the marriage is also a unique thing on its own.   A child is formed from the physical union of a man and woman.  The child is a unique being on its own, but the genetic material from both parents still resides within every cell of the child.   I love that God reveals His nature to us in His creation, which we have the joy and honor of being a part of.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Smile Big

For those of us lucky enough to be parents, we all have times when we look back over our children's lives and find memories that we are especially proud of.   It doesn't get much better than seeing one of your kids sacrifice themselves for the good of someone else.  I can think of multiple instances with both of my kids where this happened.  This week in our ConnectGroup meeting, we talked about the question that God the Father asked of his Son.  "Will you strip yourself of the power and authority due to you, put on human flesh and go live among our creation to show them how I intended for them to live?  By the way, while you are there, you will be ridiculed, rejected, and despised.  Then they will drive stakes through your wrists as they nail you to a cross where you will suffer the most excruciating (derived from Latin: "out of the cross") death imaginable. "  I hadn't considered before that Jesus had to accept the covenant request from God.  It gets pretty complicated if you consider the trinity and know that the Three are One.  But here is what I do know.  I love that Jesus accepting the covenant from God mirrors our adoption into the family of God when we accept Him as our Lord and Savior.  I can only imagine the joy that God the Father had for his Son as Jesus accepted the covenant to give all of Himself for us. 

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Ken, Barbie and Joe


When you were a kid, did you ever wish you could make one of your dolls come to life? Maybe it was a GI Joe or a Barbie (I am not suggesting what I played with, or who should play with which.  I know that is taboo these days.) Let's just pretend you could have done that.  It's quite possible that the doll would not have been at all interested in being human.  They might much prefer to stay plastic like their plastic friends.  They might fight tooth and nail to keep you from ruining their precious plastic, for that is all that they have ever known.  Now what you might have done about that rebellion, I don't know, but when God looked down on his creation, He knew exactly what to do.  He made himself human, so that he could come to our world and show us what each of us was intended to be.  And He didn't enter the world as a King, but as a pauper.  One that was despised by some and betrayed by those closest to him, and was then executed on a cross.  But his execution was not the end, because he returned to Earth, both fully human and fully God.  And then it was complete.  One man (one doll) had now come fully alive connecting himself with all of humanity and with God simultaneously.  But here is where the analogy breaks down.  If the doll had successfully come to life, it's quite possible that none of the other dolls would care.  But when God came to Earth as man, he was immediately connected to all of us, not just at that one moment in time, but from the beginning of time to eternity.  I hope you feel connected.


For any of you that have read C. S. Lewis's, Mere Christianity, you will recognize this story.  It is all his.  I just changed the names to protect the innocent and shortened it so that more people might take a moment to read.  I hope I didn't butcher it too bad.   If you have another 7 minutes, listen to his words here.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Something Worth Remembering

Football is back.  And after almost two years of limited football with very limited onsite fans, it may be hard to remember where you were or what you were doing 2 years ago.  But this Saturday, every one of us will remember where we were 20 years ago on that date.   I had just returned on Sunday from a trip to New York City to see the US Open with Caroline.  While we were there, we talked about going down to the World Trade Center, as I had never been there before, and Caroline had been only once when she was very young.   We elected not to go thinking it would be a great place to visit when we had our kids with us. On that following Tuesday, I was at work at Cap, Gemini, Ernst and Young on the 14th floor of our building on Northridge Road in Atlanta when I saw some of my coworkers standing around a television in the conference room.  The terror that followed was unfathomable.  Who could have imagined that 48 hours after being in New York, that the World Trade Center buildings would be rubble and thousands of people would be dead.    The terrorists committing the attacks hoped to tear our country apart, but most believe that the country was more united than ever after 9/11.   We all struggled to understand how something so evil could happen and many of us went to God for comfort.  While answers were slow to come for me, my searching did bring me closer to Him.  Billy Graham left this earth three and a half years ago, but his legacy of faith will remain with us forever.  I hope you take time to listen to his message of hope delivered just a few days after 9/11/01.


Thursday, September 2, 2021

Purely pursuant

We began our fall semester of ConnectGroup last night.  We are reading and discussing Mark Jones' book, Knowing Christ.   Mark is an author and pastor of Faith Presbyterian Church in Vancouver.   His studies of theology have included works by John Owen, a Puritan pastor living in England in the 16th century.  John Owen followed Martin Luther in attempting to purify the church from anything extraneous that had been added to Christianity by those in power in church and state.   I'm not sure what images "Puritans" bring to mind for you, but most of what I know has been shaped by TV and movies - people dressed funny and never having any fun.  It turns out, they were some of the most joy-filled people around.   I look forward to learning more about the one true joy that they were pursuing - knowing Christ more.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

The Blessing


Caroline and I are excited for a quick getaway to Greenville this weekend.   Greenville has a vibrant downtown area that we love to visit.  We plan to ride bikes on one of the many paved trails and eat some good food.  But this weekend was selected because Kari Jobe and Elevation Worship are leading worship Saturday night at an outdoor venue in Simpsonville.  I have posted music from Kari before.   This tour is called The Blessing Tour, and here is a link to her performing the title song.  I just checked and tickets are still available here if you want to join us in person.


Thursday, August 19, 2021

Terror

 At the age of 8, Ali Ehsani was terrorized as Islamic extremists murdered his mother and father in Afghanistan.  His family was one of thousands of families that practiced Christianity in that country, and his parents were sought out and killed for their belief.  Ehsani spent the next 5 years fleeing the country and making his way to Rome.  Since that time, he has dedicated much of his life to helping Christians in Afghanistan.  Ehsani befriended another Afghan Christrian living in Rome who had escaped as well.  His friend's family is still in Afghanistan, and the friend's father has recently been arrested and separated from the rest of the family.  Ehsani has been reaching out to Pope Francis in an attempt to gather any available resources to assist this family and others who are trapped under the Taliban regime.  Pope Francis made this appeal just hours before the Taliban takeover of Kabul, “I join in the unanimous concern for the situation in Afghanistan. I ask all of you to pray with me to the God of peace, so that the clamor of weapons might cease and solutions can be found at the table of dialogue”.  I join him in praying.  For the complete story as reported in the Washington Post, click here.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Just A Farm Boy From Idaho


Neal grew up on a farm in Idaho.  At eleven years old, he declared he was going to make a million dollars raising cows to support his family's missionary efforts.  He aborted that plan when he found out his success would be dependent on very low mortality rates and a very high percentage of heifer twin births.   His tribulations raising cows helped to teach him some great life skills:

1. getting to the heart of what's needed for a project, and what isn't.
2. designing, implementing and launching a prototype to market quickly
3. connecting technical direction with the real goals of a business
4. getting a whole team's work accomplished with only me on the job
5. working on or leading a team

These life skills have paid off for him.  Neal Harmon is the founder of Angel Studios which has produced the highly regarded TV Series, The Chosen.  The Chosen takes stories from the Bible and brings them to life.   The Chosen is different from other TV Series in that it was crowdfunded.  Angel investors and the public pay it forward so that the studio can produce content that is not controlled like it is in traditional production companies.  It inspires me to see men and women use what they have and what they know to help build God's kingdom here on Earth.

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Connecting


 Our ConnectGroup from church is getting ready to kick our fall semester.  In our last session, we read and discussed J. I. Packer's Knowing God.   In doing some research for one of our lessons, I found this video of Packer introducing a book by Mark Jones called Knowing Christ.  Jones is a Presbyterian minister in Canada and is a lover of the Puritans.   His doctoral dissertation was on Thomas Goodwin, a Puritan who lived from 1600 to 1680.  After reading several reviews of Knowing Christ, we decided to read and discuss that book this season.  Topics from this book will probably be popping up in this blog, so if you would like to read along, we would love to have you.  If you live in the Braselton, GA area, we would love to have you join us in person.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Fight like a girl

 

Photo Credit: Tim Clayton/Corbis/Getty Images

At the 2016 Olympics, Helen Maroulis became the first USA athlete to win a gold medal in wrestling.   She handed the defeat to Saori Yoshida, who had been the world champion 13 times previous to that match.  In 2017, she won the world championship in Paris, but in 2018, her wrestling world crumbled as she was diagnosed with multiple concussions and PTSD.  Her recovery and questions about her return to wrestling dominated her thinking for the next year.  But, there was a phrase that she remembered when she was battling Yoshida in the 2016 Olympics.  "Christ is in me.  I am enough."  I, for one, will be cheering on Helen this coming week as she competes in the 2020 Olympics.  Check out this video for more on Helen.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Pirate Party

 


My real estate business at Lake Hartwell keeps me pretty busy.  I love what I do, but I sometimes feel like I do a bad job of enjoying the lifestyle I am selling.   For the past several years, Caroline and I have joined up with good friends to host Pirate Camp for our older grandkids.  We have 8 pirates this year.  This is an anything goes, "just say yes", 3-day event.  It takes a significant amount of planning, and I count it as one of the most important things I do all year.  I hope that when they grow up and think back on their time with us, that the memories we make at Pirate Camp will be top of mind.

Friday, July 16, 2021

The Jesus Music

If you follow this blog at all, you know how important music is to me.  My wife, Caroline, and I were in high school band together.  My whole family played in the church orchestra when my kids were in high school.   Caroline and I still play with the Georgia Wind Symphony.   One of my first introductions to contemporary Christian music was through Amy Grant.  One of the first concerts Caroline and I attended after getting married was Amy Grant's.  Two years ago, we went with friends to Amy and Vince Gill's Christmas concert at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.   I was excited to see this trailer for a new movie coming in October called "The Jesus Music".    Amy is a part of it, along with some of the other artists that have shaped the industry and helped to shape our hearts.  I can't wait to see it.  Check out the trailer here.

Friday, July 9, 2021

After The Fireworls


Independence Day celebrates our country's freedom from the tyranny of England.  One of the most iconic symbols of that freedom is the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia.  It is inscribed with the words "Proclaim LIBERTY Throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants Thereof", which is a biblical reference to Leviticus 25:10: "And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his clan."  One of our country's core principles is the freedom of religion, but it is interesting to explore the influence that the Bible had on our founding fathers and the establishment of our country.  So interesting that the American Bible Society has just opened the $60MM Faith and Liberty Discovery Center in Philadelphia near the site of the Liberty Bell.  The center was designed by the same company that designed the 9/11 Memorial and Museum and attempts to engage the visitors through interactive media.  The Center promotes the values of faith, liberty, justice, hope, unity and love and focuses on how the Bible helped to encourage and support those values in our founding fathers.  I hope I get to experience that in person one day.

Friday, July 2, 2021

Freedom


For most of us, Independence Day is about fireworks, family, bbq, and pie contests.  Writing this note each year forces me to focus for a moment on what Independence Day really means. I have never had my freedom taken from me, so it's hard for me to understand.   I certainly know of people who have been mistreated and even been abused, but I don't know people personally who have had their basic freedoms denied.  I found this 
short video of three people once denied their freedom that have since found it.  It is the closest thing yet to helping me understand.  Please take three minutes to watch with me.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Anniversary Present

38 years ago today at 7:20 AM, Caroline and I were making final preparations for our wedding ceremony.  The night before, our families had gathered at the Rankin House in Columbus, GA to celebrate a successful wedding rehearsal.  My dad was the host, and I remember him saying, "Tonight, we will be having desert Russian-style - Wanavich" (one of each) - maybe the first dad-joke I can remember.  At the wedding, I remember Rick McNight, the organist, playing the most triumphant "Here comes the bride" that I had ever heard, and seeing Caroline at the end of the aisle brought tears to my eyes.  The ceremony proceeded as planned, with the reception following in the church fellowship hall.  We made our way to Atlanta to spend the night before flying to Nassau for our honeymoon.  The rest, shall we say, is history.  Today, at 7:26AM, we wait in anticipation for our daughter, Lizzy, to bring our 7th grandchild into the world.  We aren't allowed inside the hospital today, but we are on alert and plan to meet her on Sunday.  God has blessed us tremendously, and today, I think Him for bringing Caroline into my life.  Happy Anniversary, Caroline.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Son's tribute

This week is Father's Day.  I hope I get celebrated and have a chance to celebrate my son and son-in-law.  My dad died 18 years ago.  I miss him.  I can't think of a better tribute than to post what I said at his memorial service.  I hope you have a chance to celebrate some dads this Sunday.


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.

 

While my words today are very personal, they are not original.  They have been laid out for all of us for thousands of years.


Happy Father's Day

Friday, June 11, 2021

Jireh-scope

Abraham is instructed by God to present his only son, Isaac, as a living sacrifice to demonstrate Abraham's obedience.  Abraham tells Isaac that they are going to Moriah to make a sacrifice, carrying the wood for the fire along with them.  Isaac asks, "I see the wood for the fire, but where is the lamb for the sacrifice."  Abraham answered, "God will provide that."  When they arrived at Moriah, Abraham bound Isaac and laid him on the altar."  An angel of the Lord called out to Abraham, "Do not lay a hand on that boy.  Now that I see you wouldn't withhold your only son, I know that you fear God."  Abraham called the place Jehovah-Jireh which means "On the mountain of the Lord it shall be provided".   Abraham's near sacrifice of his only son foreshadows God's sacrifice of His only son, Jesus.  The name Jehovah-Jireh is used for God to remind us that He will provide all we need and more than we can imagine.  Take 10 minutes and join Elevation Worship for their declaration of this amazing promise from God.

Friday, June 4, 2021

Performance Identity

This week, Naomi Osaka, the number 2 women's tennis player in the world, withdrew from the French Open Tennis Tournament due to concerns with her mental health.  She had announced earlier that she would not be participating in post-match player interviews, which are mandatory when participating in the tournament.  Initially, she was fined for taking that position, but when the story erupted in the press, she elected to withdraw altogether.   The pressure that came along with the pointed questions from the press was too much for her to handle.  My heart hurts for her.  Her fierce competitive nature on the court contrasts sharply with her quiet demeanor off-court.  I can only imagine that an athlete performing at that level may feel that her whole person is defined by her results on the court.  I don't know how prevalent this is with other athletes, but Baylor University thought it was important enough to establish the Faith and Sports Institute.  The institute is a team of coaches, athletes, chaplains and scholars who provide education and formative practices for Christian leaders in sports.  Click here for a short video introduction and more information.  A little closer to home, I have been thinking about how I can help our grandkids in sports not feel trapped by a performance identity.  I want to encourage them to participate in sports, and encourage them to excellence, but every step of the way, remind them that their identity is not defined by their performance on the field.  It is defined by the love from their family and the love God has for each one of them, and when the time is right, by their personal decision to be adopted into the family of Christ.

Friday, May 28, 2021

So Much More

For me, Memorial Day weekend represents the kick-off to summer and a chance to get together with family at the lake.  That's all great, but I understand that the Day is supposed to be so much more, and for many it is.  I don't have any close friends or family members that have died serving our country.  If I did, I'm sure I would be thinking of them this weekend.  I am thankful for all those that have served and given everything so that I can live freely.  In an effort to try to internalize that, I looked for some additional inspiration and found this video.  If you take a few minutes to watch, I hope it will be meaningful for you.   I would love to hear about how Memorial Day is made personal to you.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Road to Somewhere

Our small group from church wrapped up our study of J.I. Packer's Knowing God this week.  Packer ends the book by stating that Paul's letter to the Romans is the pinnacle book of the Bible, and that Chapter 8, is the pinnacle of that book.  The world we live in leads us into seeking immediate gratification with our thought life skipping from one thing to the next without landing anywhere of significance.  One of God's gifts to us is scripture.  It is a road map for how to live our lives with greater joy and peace.  Packer challenged us to read, meditate on and memorize scripture.  I accept the challenge and have committed to just 15 minutes alone every day doing that.  I think I'll start with Romans 8.  I would love for you to join me.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Dirty Laundry

My heart aches for the denomination that my home church belongs to.  The Methodist leadership is having a hard time leading.   Some leaders want to change the doctrine that the churches abide by.   The Bible is the Bible, but doctrine defines the practices that those in our denomination agree to, and there is heated debate about what those practices should be.   There is so much discord among members that the denomination is considering dividing.   The lay leadership of the North GA conference of our denomination ran a full page ad in the AJC this week airing our dirty laundry.  I'm not opposed to people speaking out publicly.  I just wish all of the emotional energy that is being invested in the conflict could be invested in Jesus.  I pray that Jesus will somehow be glorified in the controversy, and that the Church will learn to love Him and others more than it ever has before.


Friday, May 7, 2021

All Those Moms

 This Sunday, we have the opportunity to honor our mothers above and beyond what we might normally do.  I don't know about you, but I sometimes get a little overwhelmed with all the Moms that deserve to be honored.  Everybody has a mom or had a Mom at one time or another, and there are a bunch of my family and friends that should be recognized for their roles as Moms.  My daughter and daughter-in-law are the Moms to our 6.77 grandchildren (#7 due in June. Yes, I did the math.)  My wife is Mom to our two children.  But it's a fact that I only have one Mom, and I am so fortunate to have her living next door to me.  What a blessing that is for me. I get to see her almost every day, but this Sunday is her day in my eyes.    Happy Mother's Day, Mom.  I love you so much.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Adopted

This week in our ConnectGroup from church we were talking about adoption.   Most of us know families that have adopted children when they weren't able to have children of their own.  But now, more and more often, families who have their own natural children are choosing to adopt as well.  When I was growing up, I regrettably viewed the bond between parents and adopted children as somewhat inferior to the bond between parents and their natural children - something weaker.  I'm sure any of those parents could have corrected me.   Now that I think about it, parents who choose to adopt might have more at stake in that decision than the decision to have a naturally-born child, especially if the naturally-born child is "unplanned".   The sacrifice made to adopt is usually huge.  God offers us the opportunity to be his adopted sons and daughters.  And He made the ultimate sacrifice when He let his begotten son die for each one of us.  Thank God.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Time Off

COVID-19 has caused pain and loss for so many people.  I'm sure that everyone reading this knows people that have been very sick or have died.   Many others have lost their jobs or suffered financial loss.  Our immediate family has been relatively unscathed.  The effect on us has been more of an inconvenience than anything else.  One of the things that Caroline and I have missed is time off from work.  We usually have at least one week a year where we turn work off and decompress.  That didn't happen in 2020.  I am writing this a week ahead of time, because as you are reading this, we will be having our first week off in almost 2 years.  I pray that this time will be regenerative and that we will return with a renewed passion and appreciation for all that our "normal" life has to offer.  I wish the same for you.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Adopted into The family

Last night in our small group from church, we had some spirited discussion about being children of God.  I had mostly considered all people to be children of God, but J. I. Packer, the author of Knowing God, has a different perspective - and his position is pretty well backed up in the Bible.  While we are all God's creation, and He loves everyone, we do not become children of God until we are adopted into his family.  That adoption happens when we recognize and declare that Jesus is His Son and the forgiver of our sins, and that we are choosing to do our best to follow Him.   At that point we are adopted into God's family as His children and into brotherhood or sisterhood with Jesus.  It may seem like semantics to some, but knowing God as Father and Jesus as Brother is both an awesome and sobering thought.  I think I need to take better care.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Another Mom

 

We got some sad news this week.  My wife, Caroline's Aunt Delma passed away.  Delma was Caroline's mom's sister.  Caroline's mom died when she was 18 years old, so Delma has been a mom to her since then.   Delma loved people.  She loved her kids and grandkids.  She loved Caroline.  She loved me.  She loved our children and their children.  But most of all, she loved her husband, Dickie.   She was everything to him, and he was everything to her.   He will miss her dearly.  I pray for comfort for their family and look forward to the day that we all see Delma again in all of her glory.

That's me, Delma and Michael about 35 years ago.


Friday, March 26, 2021

Teacher Tribute

 

Some of you hear about my son, Michael, quite a bit if you follow my Spot On The Lake real estate blog.   Michael is my partner in the company.  You may not get to hear as much about the other half of my offspring, Lizzy.   Lizzy's birthday was this week, and I took a little time to reminisce about some fun memories of her.   I remember her "crew" that she cheered with and did Girl Scouts with.  They were inseparable for a while and enjoyed summers hopping from subdivision pool to subdivision pool.   Her love for the pool developed into something more competitive as she began participating in the neighborhood swim team and then the high school swim team, where she excelled in the breast stroke.   She joined the band playing the flute, but really loved leading the flagline in marching band in high school and carried that love on to lead the Redcoat flagline at UGA.  She studied early childhood education at UGA (convocation photo above) and graduated into a career that gives her the opportunity to teach and mentor her students and her peers.  The common thread through all of this is that she always had friends that loved her, and I know that is because she loves so well.  Now she is married to Trey Joyner and has 2 beautiful girls of her own with another on the way.  While I have a lot of fond memories of Lizzy, nothing gives me more pride than seeing her as Mom to those girls, helping them to know at an early age who their Creator is.  She shows them how He loves us by how she loves them.   I love her so much. 

Friday, March 19, 2021

Common Theme

I have known David Slagle for decades and consider him one of my closest friends.  His first career was in nursing, where he served his patients well.  In his second career, he serves as a pastor.  Caroline and I had the privilege of worshiping with him when the church was started, and he is still leading there 20 years later.  His parents are now advanced in age and living at their home in the mountains of North Carolina.  They are relatively independent, but David and his brothers choose to take turns staying with them to ensure they have what they need.  David is still leading the church.  He alternates preaching live at church with delivering the sermon by video when he is serving his parents in North Carolina.   I am guessing you have recognized the common theme.   David has lived a life of service.  When I am struggling with a tough decision, David is one of the first ones I reach out to.  When I need a good laugh, David is one of the first ones I call.  I treasure his friendship and admire his life of service.  To watch one of David's recent sermons, click here.  

Friday, March 12, 2021

 A calendar entry recently popped up that reminded me that Caroline and I were scheduled to see Lauren Daigle in concert.  The concert was originally scheduled for Spring 2020.  It got moved to Spring 2021, and has now been moved to Fall 2021.   Many people have suffered tremendous loss during the pandemic.  My losses have been less severe, but I do very much miss live music.  I have missed playing in the Georgia Wind Symphony.  I missed worship music in church, and I have missed live music at concerts and the theater.  I think I will appreciate it even more as we are able to re-engage.  For now, I have to make do with what is available online.   I was pleased to see that Lauren recently released a new anthem.  In the face of all that is pressing on us, and our continued unfaithfulness, her plea is simple, "Hold on to me". 

Friday, March 5, 2021

Another Virus


 In 1941, Albert Camus wrote about a small French town that was devastated when a virus carried by mice spread to the townspeople and killed hundreds.   At that time, the premise probably seemed fantastical to most, but after what we went through in 2020, the response would more likely be, "the virus only killed hundreds?"  The thoroughly modern town was filled with people going about their business without a care in the world, seeming invincible against something as disgusting as a mouse and a virus.  The virus was eventually eradicated by the hero, Dr. Rieux, and the town returned to "normal". Camus was not writing a thriller about a mythological virus.  He was giving readers an analogy for his worldview that goes something like this.  We are all living with a plague.  All of us have nastiness buried within us, and we will all die at some unknown time though random circumstances.   While we feverishly search for meaning, there is none.  Life is a cruel joke, and we are only meant to endure.  In a word, life is absurd.   This thinking became prevalent in the last part of the 20th century and was given the name, absurdism.  While that word is new to me, I see people living that philosophy of life daily.  I was taught to think differently, and as I grew older, I was able to think more for myself.   While plenty of things are absurd to me, I can't imagine a life where our purpose for being here is absurd.   My heart aches for those that feel that way.


Albert Camus was introduced to me by J.I. Packer in his book "Knowing God" and this video has a review of Camus's book, "The Plague".

Friday, February 26, 2021

Teamworks

This week at our Spot On The Lake blog, we announced that our little real estate team was ranked #5 out of 555 teams in the Keller Williams SE Region.  In case you don't follow us there, my partner is my son, Michael.  I started the company 18 years ago, and Michael has been with me for 8 years now.  Before he joined, I spoke to some of my best friends about the pros and cons of working with your son.  Some issued warnings that it can be difficult and can negatively affect the father/son relationship.   I decided it was worth the risk.  I cannot imagine having a more conscientious, dedicated, productive and ethical partner to work with.  Looking in from the outside, people might see a father taking care of his son and leading him along the way. There might have been a little of that in the beginning, but now I see Michael as a trusted partner that I can talk to about the toughest client situations.   I can always count on him to prescribe the most high-minded responses for the best possible outcome.  Last night, I got to sit beside him as he cheered on his oldest son, Evan, in Evan's final basketball game of the season.  It wasn't Evan's best game.  His team lost, and I got to watch my son be a great father to his son.  I'm glad we get to work together.