Tag Archives: Fire

A Tree House Burns, Hearts Break

I am wiping the tears away from my eyes. 

This evening I found out that something iconic, something magnificent, a true testament to one man’s love for God was destroyed by fire.

The world’s largest tree house burned to the ground.

The news of it literally sucked the air out of my lungs.


I went there seven years ago and made a video with my puppet, Mr. Monkey. I never thought I’d look back on that video with a broken heart, but that’s exactly what I’m doing today.

But as heartbroken as many of us are, I can’t imagine how heartbroken Mr. Horace Burgess is right now.

I pray God will give him a hug, because a God-sized hug is what he probably needs right now.

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Filed under current events, ministry, places

The Lie of “God Helps Those Who Help Themselves”

An Old Saying

There is an old saying that has floated around for ages. Have you heard it? Have you quoted it like you were quoting the Bible? It goes like this…

“God helps those who help themselves.”

Oh, I understand the thinking behind this statement. We have always had too many people who would rather ask for handouts than work for anything. As a matter of fact, the Bible has a few things to say about those who refuse to work…

People who refuse to work are: 

  • Brothers to those who destroy (Proverbs 18:9)
  • Big dreamers, but don’t do anything (Proverbs 13:4)
  • Worse than unbelievers, or “infidels” (1 Timothy 5:8)

However, it is terribly UNBIBLICAL to suggest that “God only helps those who help themselves.” Ask yourself the following questions…

  • When Isaac was on the altar, who provided a sacrifice?
  • When the children of Israel were pinned between a blood-thirsty Egyptian army and the Red Sea, were they told to go ahead and try to swim first?
  • Before Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into the furnace, were they expected to use some diplomacy and bow down just a little?
  • Before the aforementioned Jewish boys were thrown into the fiery furnace, were they expected to spit into the flames?
  • When Daniel was thrown into the den of lions, should he have smacked the lions around before God closed their mouths?
  • Did Jesus ask the crippled man to crawl a little first?
  • Did Jesus ask the blind man to go get an eye exam after trying a little saline solution?
  • Did Jesus ask for a plan from the hungry 5,000? Did He ask for an offering?
  • Did God ask Paul and Silas to first yank on their prison chains, then kick a little on the gates?
  • Did Jesus expect the demon-possessed man to watch his mouth, clean himself up, and get his act together?
  • Should Lazarus have made some effort on his part before Jesus raised him from the dead?

No, I didn’t think so! 

The Truth Is..

When the chains are unbreakable…When the disease is irreversible…When the money is unobtainable…When the marriage is unsavable…When the enemy is unstoppable…

When all hope is lost…

God helps those who CAN’T help themselves!

Help me, O LORD my God! Oh, save me according to Your mercy, That they may know that this [is] Your hand–[That] You, LORD, have done it! – Psalm 109:26-27 NKJV

In a fire? Lions ready to pounce? Bound by chains? Hungry and without hope? There is Help!

  • When I was lost, He found me!
  • When I was dead, He gave me life!
  • When I was blind, He made me see!
  • When I was an orphan, He adopted me!
  • When I was condemned, He took my place!

Thank God! He helped me when I COULDN’T help myself!


Filed under Christianity, grace, politics, Work

Phoenix Shmeonix, We Have a Pumpkin!

Mythical Birdie

Greek mythology tells of a bird that rises from its own ashes to live again. They call this kind of bird a pheonix.

Personally, I’ve never seen a pheonix, nor have I seen any bird rise up from the ashes of its own dead body – not even that turkey we burned to a crisp one year. I’ve seen some chicken go up in flames, but once the ashes were cleaned out of the grill, that was it.

So, when it comes to freshly-feathered foul flying from the fire, I’m kinda skeptical.

But when it comes to pumpkins, that’s a different story.

Mysterious Gourd

If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I might have thought some muffaletta-munching Greek had been up to another one of his tall tells. Yet, there it was, right there, smack dab in the middle of our burn pit… a pumpkin!

You see, down in a field we have a place where we burn stuff like wood and brush, and the occasional box of paperwork that’s too sensitive too be trusted to a shredder. When not being used as document destroyer, the pit is perfect for cookouts and hanging out while listening to the crackling of the fire on a cool night.

What the fire pit is NOT used for is a garden. On top of that, the last time the fire pit was used, no produce was harmed and no seeds were sown. As a matter of fact the last thing that was torched was about a hundred pounds of sensitive files and a couple of trash bags filled with shredded bills.

So where on earth did the pumpkin come from? Charlie Brown?

Don’t Lose Hope

Here’s the thing: you never know what might unexpectedly spring up from the ashes. Even your wildest imagination may fail to prepare you for what might grow out of the remains of total decimation.

It might be nothing like anything that was burned, not even remotely, but it will have been planted by God and nourished by what you thought was worthless.

I literally don’t know where that pumpkin could have come from or how it managed to grow. However, later on, when I’m eating pumpkin pie, I’ll be thanking the Lord it was a gourd that rose from the ashes, and not a pheonix…

The last thing you want to eat is a regenerating hot wing! 


Filed under Faith, Life/Death, Struggles and Trials

Fake Fire

Conclave 2013

This weekend I went with our youth pastor, Daniel Ziegenmier, to Conclave 2013, “a training conference to equip and rejuvenate your youth ministry team.” The great thing was that it was here in our home town, not across the country. 

camp fireWhile strolling through the exhibit hall where various ministries had booths and displays, I came across this neat fake camp fire. The flame in the middle was made of a fabric that fluttered above a silent fan and colored light. From only a few feet away it looked real.

It would have been nice to have one of these back in 1984. There would be less emotional scars.

High School Play 1984

In my junior year of high school the junior/senior speech class wrote and performed a Christmas play. I had a part in everything, from acting to writing and prop design. It was the prop design that had serious flaws.

The Stage

The play was held in the auditorium of Hamill Road Baptist Church in Hixson, TN. The set took up the entire stage where the pulpit usually sat, along with most of the choir loft. It was a big production in a very nice, carpeted church.

Hamill Road had light blue carpet…really nice, comfortable, flammable carpet.

The Set

In one of the scenes the cast went Christmas caroling, so there was a set complete with houses and front doors.

Following the caroling, all the cast went to a house to sit around and talk about the Christmas story. There they drank hot chocolate as they sat around a fire place…

…a fire place in church.

The Prop

It essentially came down to 2 or 3 other guys and myself. We had to figure out how to build a fireplace that looked real enough, but didn’t actually burn wood or gas. Unfortunately, we had no prior special effects experience.

I don’t know if it was Jeff DeHart, Brian Gibson, or myself who decided it was a good idea to take a candle, lay it on its side, notch it out, and expose 3 to 4 pieces of wick. I don’t know who it was, but one of us thought that we could light a candle in front of tin foil, surround it with dry wood, and make it would look like a burning fire place.

Did you know that when you notch out a candle, pull out the wick, light it, and let it burn during a 10-minute scene that the flame would eventually burn through? Nobody told us!

The Fire

I was proud of all of us. Like true professionals, when the fire hit the carpet…that beautiful, baby-blue carpet…we were able to smack the floor with our hands to the beat of another Christmas carol. Nearly in a panic, knowing our semester grades were on the line, not to mention our eternal souls, we put the fire out with our bare hands. Our parents didn’t have a clue.

Providentially, the next to the last scene involved the death of a character and a real casket. Without going into much detail, the layer of smoke created by the fire became a special effect worthy of an Oscar! It was beautiful!

For some reason the air conditioning system didn’t come on, and the smoke spread out like a sea over the congregation.  When the rented spotlight in the back came on, the exposed smoke made the congregation look like an eerie cemetery full of dressed-up headstones. I got chills.


Well, we got a standing ovation and an “A” for the project. Unfortunately, because the play was so well-received, we were asked to do an encore.

That’s when the church burned down…

Just kidding.


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Filed under Christmas, General Observations, Humor, Independent Baptist, Life Lessons, ministry