Category Archives: General Observations

Just things I see that make me think.

Observations from a Middle-Georgia Pastorate: Showers of Blessing

It’s Raining!

My first day “on the job” here in middle Georgia (Warthen) was August 1, but we were here a day or two before that. And since that time, I had not seen a drop of rain fall in our yard or on the church building until Sunday…and that was brief.

Sure, it has rained a couple of times since the 1st of August (it’s now Oct. 15), but I was out of town, so I didn’t see it. Other than a major storm that nearly washed everything away with 6 inches of water falling in just a few minutes (which I missed), it’s been pretty dang dry. Frankly, we’ve been in a drought for 3 months.

So, today, as I was driving into the church parking lot, I saw for the first time the church building through a rain drop-covered windshield! I was so taken aback by the unusual sight that I had to take a picture.

Praises!

Since the sound of rain landing on the rooftops has been missing, when it finally did rain again the folks around here took notice. Eyes looked upward, heads tilted like a dog hearing a strange noise, and people literally exclaimed, “It’s rain! Praise the Lord!”

Can any of the worthless idols of the nations bring rain? Or can the skies alone give showers? Are you not the LORD our God? We therefore put our hope in you, for you have done all these things. – Jeremiah 14:22 CSB

The folk around these parts know the importance of rain. Without rain, there’s no harvest. Without rain, there’s ruin. Without rain, there’s desperation. Without rain from the sky, there will be tears from the eyes. Therefore, praises were appropriate.

Rain Will Come

But what I’m waiting for, even more than the rain that will bring an earthy harvest, is the spiritual rain of the Holy Spirit upon the dry and thirsty hearts of men and women, boys and girls.

When I heard the audible praises upon the sound of rain falling on rooftops, my heart longed for the same type of rejoicing at the sound of hearts being renewed, revived, and re-energized.

Ask the LORD for rain In the time of the latter rain. The LORD will make flashing clouds; He will give them showers of rain, Grass in the field for everyone. – Zechariah 10:1 NKJV

I’m asking, I’m praying, and I’ve got my umbrella ready.

 

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Filed under Church, General Observations, Thanksgiving, Weather, worship

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

Observations from a Middle-Georgia Pastorate: the Gnat Line

GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

Gnats

I had never heard of such things growing up in Tennessee. And when living in Kentucky, there was nothing like it in the blue grass. But down here in middle Georgia there are these critters called eye gnats, or simply “gnats.”

You see, where we are is where the soil is just right for a particular kind of pest that will quite near make a non-native preacher cuss. These things will fly (no disrespect intended) into your eyes, your nose, your ears, and even your mouth. They’re dreadfully-annoying flying flecks of near demonic frustration.

But however annoying these little critters can be (and one just flew by my computer screen), at least they are not flies. Annoying is one thing, but at lest they’re not disgusting and deadly.

Believe it or not, the average fly is much worse than a hundred of these ear-buzzing hellions.

Flies

I don’t want to gross you out with all the stuff that flies do, but I could.

The worst part is that in order to eat they have to regurgitate stomach acid onto their food source (your food), dissolve it, then suck it back up. In the process, whatever was left in the gut of the fly from its last meal (road-kill or doggie poop) just got puked onto your burger or ice cream.

Now THAT is DISGUSTING!

Because flies are so nasty, annoying, and ever-present, the writer of Ecclesiastes chose to use them (not gnats) in an illustration. He said,

Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savor: [so doth] a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom [and] honor (Ecclesiastes 10:1).

What does that mean?

Well, an apothecary was someone who made perfume, or a medicinal ointment. Some of these ointments could take a long time to create, not to mention use a lot of costly ingredients in the making. If left uncovered, the sweet smell would attract flies. Only one fly landing in the ointment could cause it to spoil and create a foul odor.

Losing its beautiful smell, the ointment was no longer capable of doing what it was designed to do.

Like the ointment of the perfume maker, our reputations (testimonies) are hard to come by, but easy to ruin. All it takes is just one little mistake, misstep, or sin to cause a big stink. So, watch out for the little sins that can ruin your hard-earned reputation.

Keep the lids on and the screens closed.

“The Fly Song” (Dead Flies)

A few years ago, in a moment of creativity, I stayed up late one night putting a song together on my 8-track Tascam. A while later, my friend (Roy Cavender) came and laid down the lead guitar track.

I’m going to let you listen to it, but you need an open mind and a sense of humor. Maybe one day I will have the time and money to take it to the studio and do it up right, along with some other works recorded late at night when I should have been asleep.

Click the link below to listen! Then, by all means, be thankful if all you have buzzing around are middle-Georgia gnats 🙂

Dead Flies

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Filed under Christian Living, General Observations, Life Lessons, Uncategorized

Being Judgmental of Angels

So often, when people do crazy stuff and have their actions questioned by a believer in Christ, they respond with the creme de la creme of rebuttals: “Christians aren’t supposed to judge.”

It matters not they usually have no earthly idea what they are talking about, or where they even get that phrase; they simply respond with a pious sneer and proudly shut down any criticism from those concerned enough to say anything.

Sadly, many Christians don’t even understand what Jesus meant when He said, “Judge not, that ye be not judged” (Matthew 7:1). Therefore, as so often is the case, unbelievers, who only know enough about Jesus to use Him as an excuse, intimidate Christians into silence.

But what is really sad is when Christians REALLY do what we’re accused of (make assumptions from which we cast judgment).

It happens all the time… like when we see someone on the side of the road with a sign that says, “Will work for food,” or, when you are sitting in your car and a woman walks up and taps on the window, only to ask if you have some spare change.

Who are we to say that they are lying?  Is it possible they really do need money for a fan belt, a gallon of milk, or a bus ticket home?  Is it just possible the scruffy-looking, unkempt fellow or madam you’re looking at is, in actuality, a heavenly messenger?  An angel?

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. – Hbr 13:2 KJV

During this time of world chaos and financial uncertainty, it is far more likely that the “bum” on the side of the road is actually homeless or out of work.  Who knows for what reason he/she is there?  Are we to pass judgment upon them?

Maybe we should just love them and do what we can to help when we are confronted – or before.  In one of the same chapters that talk about not judging another unjustly are found the following verses:

Give what you have to anyone who asks you for it; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. Do for others as you would like them to do for you. – Luke 6:30-31 NLT

By not giving that dollar or two to the one who asks, are we not, in actuality, disobeying a direct command of Jesus?

Really, by not giving, are we not committing two sins? One would be that we did not give when asked; the other that we judged them unworthy.  It would seem to me that it would be the better part of wisdom, not to mention a display of our faith in action, to entertain the “stranger.”

Who knows, he may actually be taking notes for his Boss in heaven.

God will be the Judge. Just be faithful.

 

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Unity, Do not judge, General Observations, legalism, Uncategorized

A Helpful Heave for Hump Day

Hump hill

It is Hump Day (i.e., Wednesday)!

So, besides using the Paint program on my computer to draw an amateurish illustrative, I have creatively compiled a collection of encouraging encouragers which may help heave your heavy heart over Hump Hill.

10 Reasons to be Glad It’s Wednesday

  1. At least it’s not Tuesday.
  2. Going uphill works muscles you use all the time; going downhill works the other ones.
  3. Oh, Monday is now two days in the past!
  4. Wednesday night is prayer night at many churches. That means tonight you can finally vent and feel spiritual at the same time.
  5. If you’re reading this that means your power hasn’t been shut off or your fortunate enough to have a charge on your phone. Yay for you!
  6. People don’t like you? That’s OK! The people still liked Jesus on Wednesday and look what happened to Him by the time Friday rolled around. It’s Wednesday, but it could be worse.
  7. If you like Wednesdays, it’s only 7 days (or 6, depending on your time zone) till the next one! Yippee!
  8. Unless you’re using it as a metaphor for impending doom, or unless your brakes have failed, you just fixed your hair, or there’s a swarm of bees ahead… going down hill can be fun!
  9. It’s easier to coast on a bicycle and yell “Look Ma! No hands!” when you’re going down a hill, as opposed to peddling up it. Take advantage of the week winding down to lift your hands in praise!
  10. Sunday is that much closer! Hallelujah!

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Filed under current events, Easter, General Observations, Humor

Thoughts On My Birthday

I did the icing. Not bad!

Today is my birthday, so I thought I would share some quick observations before all the celebrations begin.

Actually, there isn’t anything planned, just a pastor friend coming over for coffee and AT&T coming by to install internet service in our church (THAT’S worth celebrating).

Oops! Just got a text… my friend is not feeling well this morning, so he won’t be here. I guess that means I get all the coffee to myself.

First thought. I woke up this morning realizing what today was, and the first thought that came to my mind was how unfair it is that mothers don’t get any praise. I mean, if it wasn’t for mothers, we wouldn’t be here to celebrate, right? So, Happy Giving Birth To Your Son Day, Mom!

Second thought. If you don’t express what you want for your birthday, as in gifts, don’t complain if you get underwear. Granted, getting underwear as a gift from anyone other than my wife – like my daughter’s boyfriend – is always a surprise, but maybe I should have thought of something simple, like a pound of coffee.

Third (and final) thought. It might sound a little morbid, but even before I got out of bed this morning, and after the thought about mothers, a verse from Ecclesiastes came to mind.

A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one’s birth. – Ecclesiastes 7:1 

I wonder if Solomon was a Debbie Downer at parties?

This Thursday I am going to be attending a service celebrating the life of a great man of God and former pastor of mine, Bill Stafford. You may know him as the old preacher who gave Kirk Cameron advice in the movie Fireproof.  As funerals go, this is going to be a humdinger! One like I hope my funeral will be one day.

Solomon understood that what is more important, in the long run, is how you are remembered – what you’re remembered for – not simply the fact that you were born. Sure, it’s not that I want my death to be celebrated with cake and ice cream, but I would hope that when I do go to receive my final reward there are people down here celebrating a life well-lived.

We can’t help being born, but we do have a say in what we are remembered for. May this day be a reminder for me to keep preparing for that party still to come.

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10 Tips for Having a GREAT Monday!

Good Morning!

This morning I was blessed to wake up, smell the cooler fresh air outside, get a cup of coffee, pet George, and read Proverbs 4. On top of that, I didn’t have to drive a school bus – or punch the clock for any reason – it’s technically my day off.

But not everyone knows how to have a great Monday, so I’ve decided to lend y’all some advice.

10 Tips for Having a GREAT Monday!

  1. Wake up. Yeah, I know this might sound like a given, but some people have the habit of sleeping through the whole day just to avoid it. Don’t do it! Wake up! Seize it, brutha!
  2. Don’t check the news, Facebook, or Twitter till at least lunchtime. Listen, I am an information junkie, even a smartphone addict, so I understand the hankering to tap those colorful little icons – just don’t do it today (Monday). If war has broken out, you will find out through other means; you don’t need to click on Fox or CNN or Yahoo News. If you got comments and likes in the middle of the night, don’t worry – Facebook will keep them on ice for you. The only thing you need to check before 7 a.m. is blog states and anything WordPress-related.
  3. Pray before you pee. I’m serious about this, folks. If you get out of bed and go to your earthly throne room first, it won’t be long before you forget about checking in with the Heavenly Throne room. Even if you have to tell Jesus: “Lord, I want to thank you for another day to serve you and bring you glory, but I will talk with you about some other stuff just after I get through in the bathroom,” do that. I’d rather you acknowledge your creator first than forget to thank the One who gave you Monday.
  4. Eat whatever you want for breakfast. I mean, hey, it’s Monday…just eat something and get on with it. You already have enough stuff on you plate to make you dread Monday, so why not make Monday-morning breakfast something to which you look forward? Pancakes, Fruity Pebbles, donuts, cake, pie, pizza, chocolate gravy and biscuits, cookies, waffles, and pure sugar are all legitimate options. Just make sure you include coffee.
  5. Read your Bible. Look, even if you don’t want to sit down with your leather-bound KJV or your plastic-covered NIV, find some way to consume the Bread of Life before your day gets going – you’re already going to be eating enough junk.
  6. Wake up to a catchy song for your alarm. If you have a smart phone that wakes you up, and if you can set your alarm to be a song, download Gloria Estefan’s “Conga” and shake your body out of the bed. It works! seriously!
  7. Tell your spouse you love her/him before you leave the house. Believe me, it makes for a better Monday… or Tuesday… or Wednesday… etc.
  8. Plan a God hunt. What is a God hunt, you ask? Determine that even though Monday’s can be depressing, determine to look for God working in some way. Make a game of it! See if you can beat last Monday’s record.
  9. Don’t forget to brush your teeth. Bad breath will guarantee a bad day. Wishing you’d remembered to brush your teeth will aggravate you all day. So, don’t forget.
  10. Don’t dress in the dark. Yes, if you want to have a GREAT Monday, make sure your clothes match before you head out for the day. Either that, or ask your spouse how you look.

BONUS: Don’t let your wife ask you how she looks; there is no way to have a good day once that happens.

There you have it! Hope these tips help!

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Filed under General Observations, wisdom