Category Archives: America

Observations from a Middle-Georgia Pastorate: Dirt Roads

A portion of the unpaved southern half of the road where I live.

Georgia Red Clay

I’m sure you’ve either heard of it, or maybe you’ve even gotten your clothes stained by it, but Georgia is famous for “Georgia Red Clay.”

The reddish soil that covers much of the state of Georgia, along with areas in surrounding states, gets it’s color from iron oxide, the reddish-orange shades varying as much as any shade of red rust. It’s almost everywhere.

As a matter of fact, a good portion of the secondary roads in my area look just like the one above.

Georgia White Clay

On the other hand, especially around these parts (Washington County), there is another kind of clay: Kaolin.

4 oz. for $7 on Etsy!

As opposed to the common red clay, Kaolin (nicknamed “white gold” because of its color and its profitability) is mined, processed, and sold locally and around the world in various forms for use in products ranging from paper to lipstick. Actually, over 50% of it is used to give coated paper the “gloss” you might see in quality printer paper or magazines.

FYI, just click on the attached link and learn about one of the world’s largest producers of Kaolin located just 10 miles south of me in Sandersville, GA: Thiele Kaolin Company.

However, what I wanted to write about was not the types of clay that can be found in middle Georgia, but those red clay dirt roads…just like the one two houses down from me…right where the pavement ends.

It’s About the Dust

Two days ago, as I drove by one of these dirt roads, I sensed there was something profound…an important lesson…that I needed to learn then share. However, asking myself “What’s so spiritual about dirt roads?” over and over didn’t bring me any closer to a revelation. Then, as I was in the shower this morning, the truth of it all became clear (or clean, whichever):

It’s about the dust!

What do you get on your car after you travel down a paved road? Nothing. What do you get when you travel down a dirt road? Dust! It covers everything.

Think about it. You could drive a thousand miles down a nice, paved highway, and nobody would be any more the wiser of your long, hard journey. But travel down a dirt road and people will know you’ve been somewhere.

It’s About Serving

In a small, rural town like mine, the people have the tendency to care a little more about their neighbor. It’s not a firm and fast rule, but generally speaking, here you’re more likely to have someone lend you a helping hand than in the middle of a metropolis.

Yet, how do people know when you need a helping hand? How do people know you’ve traveled down a long, dirt road?

So often, in our “big cities,” we live such guarded, relationally-sanitized lives that we could be driven to near exhaustion and no one would be able to tell from the outside. In other words, our cars are clean.

But get down to a place where “everybody knows your business” and what do you find? A more openness about the road of life, a transparency that admits the road is dusty and dirty and has an affect on you.

Are bigger towns with the paved roads really all that better? Consider what the Dictionary of Biblical Imagery had to say about “streets” under the heading of  “A Window into the City’s Common Life”:

[The] street as a setting in the Bible represents what is commonly true of the mood, spirit and well-being of the city. Streets typically line the entirety of a city and serve as its reference points. Descriptions of what takes place “in the streets” therefore function as generalizations about what is going on in the city as a whole. – Leland Ryken et al., Dictionary of Biblical Imagery (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 820.

If the streets of this middle-Georgia pastorate are any inclination, there’s a lot of opportunity to be like Jesus…to be a servant. At least down in these parts people are a little more willing to admit the need to have their feet … or their tires … washed.

So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for [so] I am. If I then, [your] Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. – John 13:12-16 

It’s easier to be a servant where the roads are dirt 🙂 

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Filed under America, Christianity, community, General Observations, Life Lessons, ministry, places

5 Reasons to Stay Home On Wednesday Night

Hey, don’t be ashamed! Listen, you don’t have to feel guilty for NOT going to church on Wednesday night. It’s not like it’s the Lord’s Day, or something, right?

Look, should that crusty, old, Bible-thumping preacher come at you with a large-print Ryrie, using words like “backslidden” and phrases like “God rewards faithfulness,” just hold your ground. There are actually several reasons why staying home while the faithful few gather to pray is perfectly acceptable.

5 Reasons to Stay Home On Wednesday Night

1) The Genesis Argument. Wednesday was not the day on which our Savior was resurrected, nor is it the Sabbath; it was the day the sun, moon, and “lesser lights” were made. Therefore, should we “go back to Genesis,” the most logical thing to do on Wednesday is enjoy the sun till the moon comes out, then rest under the lesser “night” lights until Day 5.

2) 2 Timothy 2:15. Even the Apostle Paul would approve of you staying home on Wednesday night instead of heading over to where the worshippers are gathering. Was it not Paul who told Timothy to “study to show thy self approved”? Hey, you’ve got homework to do! If you make a bad grade you WILL be ashamed.

3) Old People Like Saving Money. Only the old people go to church on Wednesday night. Modern people, especially the younger ones, aren’t used to going to church “every time the doors are open.” For crying out loud in an unknown tongue, everybody knows the doors are open too much as it is, anyway.

Seriously, staying home to watch a movie…going out with friends…making ready for the weekend to the the lake…hey, all of those things would save the church money by not having to keep the lights on for an extra hour and a half. Don’t the older, depression-era saints like saving a penny?

4) We Can Pray Anywhere. The older generation needs to get with it! We don’t have to meet on Wednesday nights to pray; we can pray anywhere and anytime – that’s in the Bible! And for that matter, if we could just do a group message on Facebook we’d all save a little gas and driving time. Besides, this generation would rather text than shake a hand or hug a neck.

5) Sunday Is More than Enough. Let’s be honest, all the Christianity one needs can be gotten on Sunday morning from 11:00 to 11:47 a.m. (no need to stay for an invitation or after-service chit chat). Early Christians met on the Lord’s DAY, not night.

So, even though there are millions of people in the world who daily risk their lives to go to church whenever they can, this is America; we’re getting along just fine. Besides, the fewer times we meet the less risk we run of a church split, and who in the world needs that?

And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. – Matthew 24:12

No, I’m not serious.

 

 

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Filed under America, Church

I Will Remember

Eighteen years have come and gone, and many have already forgotten what happened on September 11, 2001. But I won’t forget.

Not only will I not forget, I will choose to remember.

I will remember…

  • that freedom isn’t free, and there are those who want to steal it.
  • that Christ came “to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to [them that are] bound;” therefore America is never more “Christ-like” than when its people shed their blood for the freedom of others, whether they love us, or not.
  • that it wasn’t secularists, militarists, or a bunch of Baptist preachers who crashed four aircraft on that day, killing thousands.
  • the Byzantine Empire and Constantinople – they weren’t converted to Islam through peaceful conversion.
  • who is considered the “Great Satan” and what countries are truly religiously intolerant.
  • the heroes who went back into those buildings to rescue anyone they could.
  • the heroes who fought back and said, “Let’s roll!”
  • the heroes who go into harm’s way for freedom every day.
  • that America was founded by men who knew God; who recognized the hand of Providence; and who knew when to bow a knee and call to God for deliverance.
  • that we (and all freedom-loving people) are in a life-and-death struggle between opposing worldviews – a war. Losing can’t be an option.

I will also choose to remember, and not forget, that America, no matter its current faults and flaws, is made up of a people, who, when push comes to shove, will take the fight for freedom anywhere in the world. We will also defend it. That’s who we are.

God Bless America!

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Filed under America, Culture Wars, the future, World View

Responding To An Article Attacking the Billy Graham Rule

I am not blessed with a lot of free time these days, especially because of the hectic details of moving while trying to finish out my last week of driving a school bus. As a matter of fact, below is a picture of where I am writing this very piece – on a school bus while waiting for elementary-aged crumb crunchers to finish swimming.

It’s 90+ degrees on this bus, I only have about 30 minutes to write, and I’m sweating like a glass full of ice on a hot day – except I’m not icy. Please allow me the opportunity to rant.


There used to be a time in American life when a man who actually tried to stay true to his moral convictions was considered the kind of man we respected. That kind of man, by all respects a hero of virtue, would be lauded, placed on a pedestal, and pointed to as a standard for young boys to emulate.

Joseph (the one in the Bible with the multi-colored coat) and Dr. Billy Graham are two such men who come to mind.

But nowadays, when a Republican running for governor of Mississippi wants to keep things above board and honorable, the first thing you hear from the media is that this guy is a sexist. In other words, when he tries to honor his wife and his marriage by avoiding the possibility of impropriety, the substance of which could not only harm his marriage and his livelihood, but also the reputation of one whom could be falsely accused, he’s labeled as a woman-hater and abuser of his wife’s integrity.

In other words, because the guy wanted to do things the honorable and godly way, he’s a scum bucket worthy of relegating to the trash heap of failed and forgotten politicians. If you think I’m exaggerating, take a moment to read the vitriolic and condescending article by Monica Hesse in The Washington Times (July 11) entitled:

“The ‘Billy Graham rule’ doesn’t honor your wife. It demeans her – and all women.”

Like I said earlier, I’m pressed for time and dripping sweat on my keyboard, but let me say that I think Monica Hesse and Larrison Campbell are out of their ever-loving minds.

What’s even more interesting is that, if true, The Washington Times was originally going to send a male reporter to shadow Robert Foster. According to one report I read, it was only at the last minute that the paper wanted to send Larrison Campbell to be alone with the gubernatorial candidate, forcing him to say no, not unless they could send a male along with her. If this is true, and if they already knew of Foster’s beliefs (which I’m sure they did), this could have been nothing more than a set up to smear him.

Oh, the irony. Oh, the deceit.

And they wonder why we distrust the media?

For the record, I think the “Billy Graham rule” is as wise as ever, and it is one which I abide by as much as possible. There are times when I am alone with a female doctor, for example, but not when I’m unclothed. Even when I am alone, it’s not the same thing as going out to dinner, sitting behind closed doors in my office, or counseling a woman alone in her home. For one thing, the doctor has more to lose than most if she were to act inappropriately and unprofessionally.

There’s so much more I could say about the individual points of Hesse’s article, but it’s not worth any more of my time, and I don’t have much to spare.

Regardless, Robert Foster’s convictions and rules are admirable, not demeaning. Any woman should be thrilled that her husband was taking proactive measures to protect the integrity of their marriage.

But marriage integrity and men of honor aren’t high on the shopping list for people who have no scruples of their own, I suppose. 

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Filed under America, Christianity, Culture Wars, current events, Defending Traditional Marriage, Marriage, politics

Apple Pie and Amazing Grace: Doing Better than I Deserve

The Question

It came from Africa.

No, it wasn’t an animal trying to eat me, or a disease for which no one has a cure (which is more scary). It was a question, one asked by a Facebook friend in Uganda.

Pastor Ndahayo Shine asked: “How are you?”

imageHow am I? How does an American answer that question? I mean, seriously? What do I have to complain about?

Honestly, at the very moment Pastor Shine’s question popped up on Facebook Messenger I was eating a warmed-up piece of apple pie (as American as it gets).

Pie, I tell you!

I’m eating pie, and I get a question regarding how I’m doing from a man in Uganda. Africa! The place where famines kill more people than the NRA is blamed for!

So, I replied with the following answer:

“I am alive, not hungry, and not hurting. I have a roof over my head, a car in the driveway, and children who love me. My wife is faithful, the police are not after me, and the dog hasn’t chewed anything important in a long, long time. I guess you could say I’m doing better than I deserve.”

Am I Blessed?

So many times we answer questions like “How are you doing?” with things like, “I’m fine,” or “I’m blessed.” However, to be honest – which I try to be most of the time – I’d rather admit to being “fine” than “blessed.”

Why is that? 

Saying that I’m blessed has a sneaky way of implying that those in other places – like Africa – are NOT blessed, at least not as much as me. I mean, what does it say about Christianity and the character of God when those who are “abundantly blessed” are the ones who rarely feel the need to trust God for their next meal? What I own or what’s parked in my driveway is not a mark of spirituality, nor should it insinuate I’ve lived a life more worthy of blessing than my brothers and sisters living in poverty.

If I am blessed at all, it’s not because of anything I’ve done or deserve; I am simply the recipient of God’s grace. I have been allowed, according to God’s sovereignty, to live in a country where leftover pie in a functioning refrigerator is commonplace.

Jesus made it pretty clear who the “blessed” really are. They are the poor in spirit, the meek, the merciful, the pure in heart, and the peacemakers (Matthew 5:3-9). And if that’s not enough, “…Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord…” (Revelation 14:13).

What I Don’t Deserve

While saying “fine,” I’d bet the temptation to answer the question “How are you doing?” with complaints is almost overwhelming for most. Oh, admit it – you say you’re “fine” because you don’t think the person asking is really that interested in hearing your list of ailments, worries, and irritations.

You probably answer with “fine” because you don’t want to sound like a cry baby or a hypochondriac, right? Because, admit it, you feel you deserve better than what you have; you don’t really feel “blessed,” do you?

Well, I don’t know about you, but I don’t deserve anything but hell. Yet, for some reason God has allowed me to be the recipient of many good things which I don’t deserve, even if I have worked for a lot of it.

I don’t deserve a faithful wife, loving children, and a devoted dog. I don’t deserve to be a pastor, have a regular income, or be respected in my community.

I don’t deserve electric appliances that make life easier or the home in which I live. I certainly don’t deserve the freedom to come and go as I please without having to rely on public transportation or worry about being stopped by thugs demanding to search my car.

How am I doing? What can I say? I just ate pie…because it was there…and I wasn’t even hungry! If I’m blessed, it’s abundantly above and beyond what I need.

God is good, but His grace is Amazing! 

 

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Filed under America, Christian Living, Life Lessons, Thanksgiving

In Their Own Words… The Founding Fathers and Our Christian Heritage

Every year around this time the godless, anti-Christian, anti-religious, “spaghetti monster” fans wear out the keyboards of their iMacs as they hammer any and every posted news article having anything to do with the Christian stones in our nation’s foundation.

Just this week a story about another school taking down a student-donated 92-year-0ld plaque hit the news. The comment sections of various sources that published the story were overflowing with arrogant atheists preaching the virtues of “separation of church and state.” Obviously, their hatred of Christianity (not so much the desire for pluralism) was fueling their snarky vitriol.

As if the trolls got together beforehand and decided what would be the most effective “shut up the enemy” type of argument, one of the most common mic-drop-type attempts to end any defense of the Ten Commandment plaque went like this:

“If you are OK with posting the Ten Commandments, then would you be OK with posting the 5 pillars of Islam or the 7 points of Satanism? If one religion is honored, then all should be!”

Ummm…. no.

You see, the whole reason for posting the Ten Commandments is not to “promote” a particular faith (btw, it’s not just Christianity that claims the TC’s; they came to the Jews, first!), but to recognize the foundational source from which our nation derived its inspiration. Fact is, Islam had NOTHING to do with the founding of our country, especially not Satanism; therefore there is no historical context to warrant the erecting of plaques them or any other religion or religious texts – the Bible and Christianity alone were supremely instrumental to the Founders and the documents they created to form this country.

At the VERY LEAST, the majority of  our founding fathers, even though they did not want to establish a national church or officially promote one religious sect over another, were very religious, and they admitted the country they envisioned would fail if the people inhabiting it were not.

How can I make such a bold statement? Where’s my proof?

I’m glad you asked.

The rest of this article will consist of quotes from our Founding Fathers. Their words should speak for themselves.

In Their Own Words

John Adams (Signer of the Declaration of Independence and 2nd President of the United States)

“It is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free constitution is pure virtue.” – to Zabdiel Adams on June 21, 1776

[W]e have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion . . . Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” – 1798

Charles Carroll of Carrollton (Signer of the Declaration of Independence)

“Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime & pure, [and] which denounces against the wicked eternal misery, and [which] insured to the good eternal happiness, are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments.” – from a letter to James McHenry, November 4, 1800)

Benjamin Rush (Signer of the Declaration of Independence)

“The only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be laid in religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments.” – 1806

“We profess to be republicans, and yest we neglect the only means of establishing and perpetuation our republican forms of government, that is, the universal education of our youth in the principles of Christianity by the means of the Bible. For this Divine Book, above all others, favors that equality among mankind, that respect for just laws, and those sober and frugal virtues, which constitute the soul of republicanism.” – 1806

Benjamin Franklin

(When the Constitutional Convention was deadlocked) “I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth – that God governs in the affairs of men, and if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise with His aid?” – June 28, 1787

George Washington (First President)

The hand of Providence has been so conspicuous in all this time that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more wicked that has not gratitude to acknowledge his obligations…” – from a letter to Brigadier General Thomas Nelson, August 20, 1778

“And now, Almighty Father, if it is Thy holy will that we shall obtain a place and name among the nations of the Earth, grant that we may be enabled to show our gratitude for Thy goodness by our endeavors to fear and obey Thee.” – private prayer, 1779

Samuel Adams (“Father of the American Revolution”)

“The rights of the colonists as Christians…may be best understood by reading and carefully studying the institution of The Great Law Giver and Head of the Christian Church, which are to be found clearly written and promulgated in the New Testament.” – from Rights of the Colonists, 1772)

John Hancock (first to sign the Declaration of Independence)

“In circumstances dark as these, it becomes us, as men and Christians, to reflect that, whilst every prudent measure should be taken to ward off the impending judgments . . . all confidence must be withheld from the means we use; and reposed only on that God who rules in the Armies of Heaven, and without whose blessing the best human counsels are but foolishness – and all created power vanity,” – April 15, 1775, as Hancock signed a proclamation for a day of fasting and prayer

John Quincy Adams (6th President)

“The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government and principles of Christianity.” – attributed to Adams; cited from Pamphlet on American Revolution, 1860, John Wingate Thorton

Roger Sherman (Signer of all four of the major founding documents)

(In a speech to Congress) “Admiring and thankfully acknowledging the riches of redeeming love, and earnestly imploring that divine assistance which may enable us to live no more to ourselves, but to him who loves us and gave himself to die for us.”

Literally, I could go on and on and on… but I have 4th of July (Independence Day) celebrations to attend – and even a couple of weddings to perform! Tonight, I’m going with my family to a baseball game, after which will be fireworks! How American is that?!!

God bless America! And, may we be bold enough and informed enough to fight for the right to publicly acknowledge His blessings, despite what the Freedom from Religion Foundation and all the religion-hating trolls want to accomplish.

Oh, but wait… There’s just one more quote from John Adams that I need to squeeze in… because it has a direct bearing on the historical context of posting the Ten Commandments…

“The moment the idea is admitted into society, that property is not sacred as the laws of God, and there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If ‘Thou shalt not covet,’ and ‘Thou shalt not steal,’ were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society, before it can be civilized or made free.” – Source: The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States, 1851, Vol. VI, p. 9

Now THAT’S a “mic drop” quote if I ever heard one!

Happy Independence Day!

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7 Words that Distinguish Our Founding Fathers from Modern Americans

“We hold these truths to be self-evident…”

If there were ever any words that are so antithetical to today’s culture, these words from the Declaraton of Independence stand out above them all.

Believe it or not, the founding fathers of the United States of America firmly held to the belief that there are absolute, transcendent truths by which we are able to govern and judge society.

They not only believed there are “truths,” but they believed that these truths are “self-evident.” In other words, they believed that these transcendent truths, rooted in the nature of God, were not hard to find, but plain for all to see, should they only open their eyes. Hence the term self-evident.

Today’s culture has totally rebelled against the concepts of truth and anything that is self-evident. For example, the truth is that God created male and female (Gen. 1:27; Mark 10:6), and what is self-evident are their differences. Yet, modern Americans cannot bring themselves to admit what is obvious, no matter how self-evident.

Not too long ago I read of a transgender activist, Zinnia Jones, who maintains that men who are not attracted to transgender women have “issues”…issues “they should work through.” In other words, Jones believes that biological males who are attracted only to biological females, not trans women, should be relegated to the fringes of society.

In the book of Matthew, chapter seven, we read of two men: a wise man, and a foolish man. Jesus said that a man who listens and does what He says is like a wise man who builds his house on a solid, rock foundation. The foolish man is the one who doesn’t listen to the sayings of Jesus and therefore builds his house on sand. When the storms come, the house built on rock stands firm, but the one built on sand comes crashing down.

A bedrock foundation is un-moving, un-changing, consistent, able to bear weight, and unaffected by the changing weather. However, sandy foundations, although conforming and accommodating, are inconsistent, unable to bear weight, and always changing with the winds of time.

The foundation on which America was built can be found in the “truth” of the Scripture. Without these truths a free, self-governing society cannot not exist for long, if at all.

“[I]t is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free constitution is pure virtue.”

“[W]e have no government armed with power capable of contending
with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. . . . Our constitution
was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the
government of any other.”

– John Adams, Signer of the Declaration of Independence, 2nd President

Unfortunately, modern Americans are rebuilding America on top of a foundation that is comfortable, conforming, and accommodating, always able to shift with the changing winds of culture. And just like the foolish man that Jesus describe in Mathew 7, our “house” will eventually come crashing down, “and great [will be] the fall of it.”

People wonder how long America will survive. My contention is that it can’t survive much longer. How can it when the very foundational truths on which our liberties are grounded has been reduced to shifting sand?

“We hold no truth, and nothing is self-evident; all is relative to self-identification.” – Modern Americans

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