Hopefully, no one missed an amazing article in the Index not long ago about 220 students coming to know Christ on a single night in Carroll County. That article talked about a spiritual shift that is bringing the Bible back to the Bible Belt. “People are searching for truth,” said Kevin Williams, pastor of First Baptist Church of Villa Rica and one of the organizers Gridiron Day.

Recognizing that school districts are struggling to fill bus driver positions, Holly Creek Baptist Church in north Georgia stepped up to help, and, in so doing, opened the door to an outside-the-box ministry that’s paying huge spiritual dividends. Several Holly Creek folks have become bus drivers, fitting bus routes into their daily ministry routines.

A few things I wonder about: Why are doctors’ offices—especially the dermatologist’s—so cold? You’re asked to strip down to your skivvies, and it feels like 50 degrees in there. If it’s intended to prevent lingering, well, I’m ready to go as soon as I get my pants on.

I was searching for a container, a vessel. A tiny fern needed a place to grow. Every spring, my beloved showers me with flowers and plants to be potted on the front and back porches of the parsonage. They are a friendly welcome to family and friends.  Some of my favorites are red geraniums, white New Guinea impatiens, ivy, and ferns. I pile red and white pillows and blankets on the glider and swing.

Thursday thoughts: Stay focused on God

I would not admit this to just anyone, but I am a fair weather driver. In other words, I can drive perfectly when it is sunny but anything other than that proves a challenge for me. It seems like the last few weeks we have had some “bad” driving weather. It made me think about how I can compare the driving weather and the roads.

Retired educator Margie Bowen has climbed Stone Mountain over 1,000 times. The Atlanta resident started climbing Stone Mountain east of Atlanta for exercise, but as she climbed several times each week, she kept count. Eventually, she reached the hundreds, and on New Year’s Eve ten years ago, former students and several family members joined her as she reached the 500 mark.

It caught my eye as I drove out of the church parking lot.  I slammed on the brakes then inched backward to take a look.  There, in the middle of the blacktop, was a tiny sprout of green.

Commentary: Want a friend? Be a friend

You may have heard this before. I went out to find a friend and none were to be found. I went out to be a friend and found them all around.  Where do you find friends?

A man from the big city was driving through the country one day when a billy goat jumped into the road and collided with his car. He had never seen a Billy goat before, so he turned into the parking lot of a country store and ran inside. “I just ran over something and I don’t know what it is,” he frantically explained to a group of old fellows gathered around a potbellied stove.

Uncle Sam is trying to decide if he believes in UFOs — Unidentified Flying Objects. They’re even talking about them in Congress, where some of its members are sounding more and more like aliens as each year passes. All I know about UFOs I learned as a reporter for newspapers in north Georgia. I’ve talked to several sane people who said they spied things in the sky that didn’t belong there.

Pastor's wife: We know we can trust God

Each one of us had lugged two 50-pound suitcases to the check-in counter. One held personal items, the other was full of medical or dental supplies. We also had carry-ons and backpacks. We had a plan and a mission: we were headed to Nairobi, Kenya for a medical and dental clinic with World Hope.

My grandchildren are notorious for using the “pause” button on the TV remote. They LOVE to pause their shows while getting a snack, taking a bathroom break, or just deciding to leave and go play. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked into the den and found our TV is paused in the middle of a show. 

A gregarious Seymour Wattenbarger made a lot of people laugh during his 84 years. The gospel preacher used humor in his ministry. He began almost every sermon with a funny story that grabbed everyone’s attention. When Seymour went to heaven a couple weeks ago, I couldn’t help but notice that the man who had made so many people laugh over the years was now making them cry.

“At exit 15, turn left.  Go eight miles and turn right.  In two miles, turn left and go six more miles.”  We had exact directions.  It sounded like a treasure map.  Indeed, it was.  After an hour and 40 minutes, we arrived at our destination: Bethel.

I love new school supplies. I loved them when I was a child and I loved getting them for my children every year when school started. There was just something about having new supplies when you start a new year, a fresh start. I always looked forward to purchasing their school supplies and honestly, I think they enjoyed it just as much as I did. 

My mom used to say her “quiver was full,” (Psalm 127:4-5).  We would smile because we knew what she meant.  She was saying that her heart was full of joy.  Her family was together, and the moments were just right.  Treasured. I got that same “quiver full” feeling last night — the first night of Vacation Bible School.

I have to admit that I am a “people pleaser.” I don’t necessarily think that is a bad thing because it does say that you care about others and desire to make them happy. However, there is a huge pitfall in people-pleasing – you cannot please everyone!

The story is told of an out-of-work country boy who had applied for an open position down at the factory. “So why do you want this job?” the interviewer asked. “Well,” the country boy answered, “I’ve always felt passionately about not starving to death.”

Life is filled with risks. Perhaps you enjoy skydiving, climbing Mount Everest, or swimming with sharks? Each endeavor involves serious risks. Nothing would be accomplished on this planet without people willing to venture out into the unknown. Space exploration, and medical and educational advances would be stymied without an innate spirit to try new things and to boldly go where no man has gone before. That’s right ,Star Trek would never have existed without the imagination of Gene Roddenberry.

Some of my favorite memories were birthed on the shores of the Chattahoochee River in north Georgia. Now they’re old, like me, but still active, at least on occasions. I learned how to swim in the Chattahoochee. We were walking along the river, my Uncle Jamie and I, when he asked, “Philip, do you know how to swim?”

Perhaps you've heard about the city slicker who bought a cattle ranch out West. Friends who came for a visit asked the name of his spread. “I wanted to call it the Bar-J,” the city slicker said. “My wife favored the Suzy-Q. My daughter liked the Flying-W and my son preferred Lazy-Y. So, we’re calling it the Bar-J-Suzy-Q-Flying-W-Lazy-Y Ranch.”

An unfortunate mix-up put an embarrassing blemish on the 54th annual Fourth of July Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta, the world’s largest 10K. In the women’s elite division, defending champion Senbere Teferi led much of the race, but on the final approach to the finish line, sprinting behind three police motorcycle escorts, Teferi followed a policeman who, unexplainably, turned onto a side street.

The clanging alerted me that there was a problem.  Some sounds are not ever supposed to come out of the dryer.  I hurried to the laundry room.  Yanking open the dryer door, I began pulling out my beloved’s dress pants and shirts. The load was his good stuff for church.  In the still damp pile, I found a small black lid.  And then something much worse: dark greasy stains on all of the clothes.  “Aww man,” I groaned loudly.

Several weeks ago, our family went on vacation to the beach. We rented a house and in that house we had five adults and seven grandchildren. It’s always quite the adventure when you have that many personalities and age differences in the same house. It is precious time that Wayne and I enjoy greatly and our prayer is that our children and grandchildren will have memories of these times long after we are gone.

I heard a Christian comedian the other day talking about some of the places he has performed recently — churches, senior citizen centers, even a nursing home. “The nursing home had a great crowd,” he said. ““By the time I was done, there wasn’t a dry seat in the house.”

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