Commentary

My co-worker Michelle gave her heart to Jesus when she was 14 years old.  Over the years, she has served at her church in many ways:  children’s church, Sunday School, VBS, and wherever needed.

Snoopy, the Peanuts cartoon’s favorite beagle, was agonizing over losing his doghouse to the new freeway coming through. In one panel, Lucy unloads, “All right, so they run a freeway through here and you lose your doghouse. You think you’re the first one who’s ever lost his home? You think you’re the only one? Huh? Stop feeling sorry for yourself!”

Let's begin at the end. I am writing this on the plane.  We are boarded and ready to back away from Gate 5 in Nairobi, Kenya. The captain has just finished making the traditional announcements in both German and English.  The flight attendants have shown the obligatory video regarding every emergency imaginable. We are heading home.

Just as we arrived home from vacation last week, we had a horrible, unexpected storm. It seemed to come out of nowhere. Wayne and I both have the weather app on our phones but there was no warning or alert for this storm. When I say it was bad, it was very bad. The wind was blowing so hard at one point we thought it might snap the tree in our front yard. The poor thing was bent all the way over from the force of the wind.

“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19, ESV The calling given by Jesus to brothers Peter and Andrew as they were fishing in the Galilean waters was life-changing. Jesus then walking further up the shore called two other brothers, James and John, to follow Him as well. Both sets of brothers immediately dropped their nets and followed Him, leaving their old lives behind.

One of the perils of life is putting too much value on “stuff.” Stuff can be about anything. It can consist of what we have or what we don’t have.  Much of life is about our stuff.  Our house, cars, things in the house. Things around the house and things in the garage, storage building, barns and more barns. If we work hard, it’s possible to accumulate lots of stuff. Often, we have more than we need. 

Thursday thoughts: God provides, always

It’s hard to believe that 45 years ago today a 19-year-old girl walked down the aisle to marry a 20-year-old guy. The love story of a high school basketball player and a cheerleader. It just doesn’t seem possible to me. I mean, I can’t be that old, right?

“Do you know you have sleep apnea?” the woman at the doctor’s office asked by phone. “No, I didn’t know that,” I said. “Do you have headaches in the morning?” “Not really,” I said. “Do you lack energy in the morning?” “No, I feel pretty good most mornings.”

Several years ago, Shaun Cunningham treated his son Landon to a Spring training baseball game between the Atlanta Braves and the Pittsburgh Pirates. Landon was looking at his dad’s cell phone sending pictures of the action to his mom when, suddenly, Pittsburgh’s Danny Ortiz swung hard and lost his bat, propelling it into the stands.

Winnie, about six or seven years old, came to the clinic because she had a toothache.  She opened her mouth wide and I saw the problem.  Two of her back teeth were broken off.  They looked painful.  I work for a pediatric dentist.  Helping kids get out of tooth pain is my favorite thing.

Decisions made in haste or on emotions don’t usually turn out as planned.  I can attest to that. One morning in 8th grade, I did something very, very, very not smart.  It seemed like such a cool idea at the time.  Trendy even.  No one had ever done it before. I would be the very first.

I had my annual eye exam a couple of weeks ago. Needless to say, it seems that every year my eyesight gets a little worse than the year before. This requires me to get a new prescription for contacts and glasses.  The funny thing is I don’t realize that my eyesight is not as clear as it should be until I have that eye exam. You know the one, where they say, “Which picture is clearer? One? Or two?" Then two or three, etc.

The only beef I have with my fellow Kentucky native and 16th President of the United States Abraham Lincoln is that he never joined a church. I’m quite sure he was a Christian, not to mention a great leader and honest man. Yet, history tells us he never officially connected with a local congregation. So what’s the big deal, many would say, especially in an age of cascading commitment and denominational decline?

As we recognized our graduates in a worship service recently, I made the comment that, “It’s been a loooong time since many of us graduated from high school.” A light chuckle rippled through the congregation as people briefly recalled their own graduation. I reflected, also, with a sense of disbelief at how fast the past 40-plus years since high school have flown.

Steve is a genius.  Really.  He is a pharmacist, a deacon, a missionary, plus so much more.  I can’t think of anything he can’t do.  His wife, Alicia, is also very intelligent.  They both have hearts for Jesus, serve Him faithfully, and are dear friends. Steve and Alicia are leading our mission trip to Kenya this summer.  They encourage us, guide us, and lead us as we prepare for the trip.  In that prep is the e-visa for entrance into the country.

Are you a planner? I definitely am! I love to know the plan, make the plan, and see the plan come to fruition. There is a sense of accomplishment in this, at least for me there is. I also have a hard time when the plans change or fall apart. It can leave me with a sense of panic and disappointment. There is a feeling of defeat in this. I can take it as a personal failure.

Graduation is a wonderful time — even through the tears.  While excited teenagers look to the future, their nostalgic parents replay scenes from their graduates' childhood years. I remember it well.

If you have children or grandchildren you have probably read or heard of the book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. It's about a boy who wakes up and everything in his day goes wrong, from gum in his hair to fights with friends and the dreaded lima beans for dinner. He threatens after every bad thing to move to Australia. He also learns at the end of the book from his mother that “some days are just like that.”

Pansies are my favorite flowers in the spring.  My great-grandmother loved them, too.  The bright colors with the black centers are the ones I love best.  Because my beloved knows that, each spring he makes sure I have lots of them to plant in pots on the front and back porches.  This year, he got me more than ever before.  They are hardy in the cool weather and make me smile every time I see them.

I’m sure you all know what “stepping stones” are. I’m particularly referring to the ones you place on a path or walkway. I can remember as a child my grandparents had stepping stones and we always thought it was great to jump from one to the other. Before we moved to Jefferson we lived in Loganville and we had some stepping stones that led from our driveway to our front porch. Our grandchildren played the same game either jumping from one to the other or taking giant steps from one to the other.

A near tragedy providing an up-close encounter with firefighters gradually evolved into a different direction for pastor Frank Mercer’s ministry. The Fayetteville, Georgia, pastor served Rolling Hills Baptist Church at the time. Several years ago, in the middle of the night, the home’s fire alarm roused the Mercer family, who found their back porch engulfed in flames.

Baptisms are always a special occasion, a worship service highlight. This outward expression of one’s spiritual commitment to Christ brings much joy. Some are more memorable than others. One of my most unique ministry experiences happened one bright Fall morning several years ago. 

Often during my 30 years as a senior pastor, I got the itch to move on to another church. Some of those urges were legitimate, but many were not. Feeling like “you’ve pulled that ole wagon as far as you can pull it” and waiting for your next assignment can be brutal. Here are nine lessons I learned in the process.

One of the key elements in prayer is petitioning, or praying for yourself. Some people shy away from such prayers, thinking that it violates humility and draws attention to themselves rather than God. Yet, it’s absolutely biblical.

My first car was a green Ford Maverick with the shift on the column and a broken gas gauge. I had to keep up with my miles between gas purchases so that I would not run out. I think it was a 1971 model. I bought this baby for $500 with my grass-cutting earnings. When I was 10 or 11 years old, I decided it was time to make some money. I hung a poster in the nearby convenience store on Highway 49 in my hometown of Milledgeville that read “Will mow lawns in Allenwood. Call David Chancey at . . .”

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