Category Archives: Life Lessons

Don’t Call Me a Hallomeany

The following was originally published in October of 2012 – when I still drove a school bus.

Not a Hallomeany

I am not a big Halloween guy. I don’t get in to the dressing up, and all that. For that matter, I don’t celebrate the holiday.

However, I am not a total Hallomeany. I am not the Halloween version of Scrooge. For example, when a little girl asked what I thought of her costume, I didn’t say, “You look more like a prostitot than a princess.” I said, “You look very nice!”

When the little boys come around dressed like monsters, I always shiver like I am scared. When they dress like superheroes, I ask if they can fly. And when they look like a cat, dog, or freakazoid satanic mutt from the pits of hell, I say, “Wow! Do you have fleas, too?”

Wiggin’ Out

So, even though I don’t celebrate Halloween, I try to keep the kids on the bus from thinking I am a “legalist” about it. What do I do? I wear a wig.

This time I wore an Afro (a.k.a, Bob Ross w/attitude).

One little girl told me she was Little Red Riding Hood. I told her I was Big Black Afro Hood.

But the funny thing about all of this is the reaction of the elementary kids. It really made me wonder what bus they have been riding the last three months.

The Kids: (at least 1,000 times) “Mr. Baker, is that your real hair?”

Me: “Yes. It is. I was bald yesterday, but I put fertilizer on my head and my hair grew overnight.”

The Kids: “No it’s not…I bet it is a wig…that’s not your hair…let me touch it…I bet it’s a wig.”

Me:  “Of course it’s my real hair.”

The Kids:  “Is that really your real hair? You’re wearing a wig…I just know it.”

Me: (I got upset with some children who wouldn’t stay in their seats, so I got serious and took off the wig.)

A Little Girl (that has ridden the bus for 3 months): “Aaaahhhh (gasping, then giggling as she whispers to another child), Mr. Baker’s BALD!

Me:  “You THINK?! Where have you been? Did you not see me yesterday? Are you blind?”

You’ve Known Me How Long?

After telling the above story a few times, it seemed God wanted to tell me something.

I kept thinking of a conversation Jesus has with Phillip in John 14:8-9. Phillip asked, “Show us the Father.” That’s when Jesus replied in the same way I did to the little girl, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me?”

That got me to wondering. How long have I known Jesus? And how many times do I act like I haven’t even been paying attention to His presence? How many times have I been surprised by an answered prayer? How many times have I doubted, only to find Him faithful?

“You’ve known Me how long?” Long enough to know better.

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Filed under Christian Maturity, God, Humor, Life Lessons

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

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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

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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Filed under General Observations, Life Lessons

Alone As Hell?

It was just after midnight, and I knew where my children were (if you’re old enough, you know what I’m talking about).

It was just after midnight, and I also knew where my wife was (thank heaven life isn’t a country song, right?).

It was just after midnight, and believe it or not, I pretty much knew where everybody I love was – and they were not here with me.

Just yesterday I drove from Georgia to South Carolina to pick up a cute little puppy (a chorkie -that’s a dog) that was a gift from our oldest daughter, Alicia. The little puppy was meant, among other things, to help alleviate the pain of the empty nest. But another reason was so that when my wife is out of town there’d be some sort of living being at home to welcome me when I came in the door (mice – and we don’t have any…anymore…don’t count).

You see, I hate being alone. I hate it that the people I love most in the world are not with me. Up until the end of July, the sound of “daddy” (or other versions of it) was a word I heard every day for the last 25 years. Not any more. And then, with everybody out of town last night, I had only 8 ounces of tea-cup cuteness to keep me company… and it wasn’t the same.

I was alone.

Praise the Lord for FaceTime! Can I get an “ amen!”?

But think with me for just a moment. When Jesus spoke words of comfort to a troubled Peter, what did He say to encourage him? Jesus told Peter that he would always have a place in His Father’s house, and most importantly, Jesus would be there with him!

The picture Jesus chose to describe heaven was an eternal home where one would never be alone.

So what is hell?

Hell is a place NOT prepared for us, but for Satan and his demons. It’s not a home; it’s a prison.

With hell there is no hope of Christ’s return or to be received into His welcome embrace. No, it is a place where one is sent, away from the presence of love, to be alone…forever.

No One to speak in our defense. No One to never leave us or forsake us. Only darkness, damnation, and desolation.

Sure, the fires of hell will torment, but how much worse when one is totally, mercilessly alone?

Even if there should be no flame, would not eternal, infinite loneliness qualify as hell?

Here on this earth I am never truly alone, for God is with me. I’m never alone.

But for those who don’t have Christ, no earthly loneliness could ever compare to a place where not even the Spirit of God convicts anymore.

Sure, I may be lonely right now, like I was a little before 1 a.m., but thank God I’m not alone as hell!

Jesus is here.

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Filed under Family, General Observations, Jesus, Life Lessons, Parenting, Struggles and Trials

Just a Little Reminder

Hey, friends!

Hey, creeps!

Hey, predators!

Hey, to anyone who casually assumes these preacher’s daughters will cower and pray – they sold a purse and bought a sword (Luke 22:38).

God bless America.

God bless the 2nd Amendment.

#notavictim

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Filed under Family, Life Lessons, Parenting, Struggles and Trials

Things I Don’t Know

As a husband, father, pastor, author, and perpetual student, I am constantly reminded of how much I really don’t know.

What if I made a list of all the things I don’t know? Well, that would be impossible, especially when there are so many things that I don’t know I don’t know.

However…..

Here are some things I wish I knew more about or could better understand. If it were possible to master these subjects, my self-esteem might go through the roof! Some may even call me a “know-it-all” in a non-derogatory way!

Do you know the answers to the following questions?

  • How can only three knobs (valves) and two lips play an infinite number of musical notes?
  • How do people get clean in dirty bath water?
  • What are hot flashes, and why women hate them in the winter?
  • Why are things like Pi (things that have no answer) so dadgum important?
  • If animals in cartoons and movies can talk to each other in English, not to mention read, why don’t they just write a note to humans when someone is in danger?
  • Why do women wear “natural” makeup to look natural, when natural was what they were before they put on the makeup?
  • Greek grammar – enough said.
  • Who killed Kennedy?
  • Why can’t I just decide to increase my debt limit, instead of balancing my budget?
  • Why do dogs and cats hate each other?
  • Why I could never pick up a snake by the tail, but Steve Irwin could?
  • How did the first person decide drinking something fermented, breathing something on fire, eating something coagulated, or using the anal glands of a beaver for flavoring (castorium) was an appetizing idea?

Life is full of persistent, nagging questions. Some questions may never be answered. I may never truly be a know-it-all. However, when it all comes down to what’s most important, I am reminded of the words of a man who was blind from birth: “I was blind…but now I see.”

I may not know everything, but I know that I will be OK when I die. I know that this world is not all there is. I know that heaven awaits me when I die. How? It’s all written in the Word of God.

 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. – 1 John 5:13

Did you know that?

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