Tag Archives: life

Observations from a Middle-Georgia Pastorate: Stay On the Float, Don’t Give Up

I’m going to be totally honest with you, OK? There was a post I published for just a few minutes this morning, but then I took it down and added it to the “draft” bin. Even as I was writing it, it seemed forced. So, no matter how I tried to edit it, it never seemed “right.”

So, what did I do? I decided I’d try to do a video blog ( a Vlog) post. I mean, hey, I’m a preacher, so why not just TELL my story? Yet, what happened? After multiple recordings, multiple edits, and multiple times trying to upload, only to see “Upload Failed,” I almost gave up.

Nothing was working!

YET, I still felt I needed to post something, almost like it was imperative that I do so. Why the pressure? Why the stress?

So, I decided to try one more thing – record straight to YouTube. No editing, not fancy camera work, no script…just raw, unedited video of me sharing what’s on my heart.

As I’m writing this, I’m waiting for the video to upload to YouTube (it’s taking awhile). If it uploads with no problem, you will see it below.

It’s taking a looooooonnnnng time.

Ah, finally 🙂

God bless!
Anthony

 

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Filed under blogging, Christianity, current events, Depression, Life/Death, ministry

Observations from a Middle-Georgia Pastorate: Not Just a Pretty Building

Precious

Do you remember the pretty pictures of the last church building where I was the pastor? It was the “little white church with the red door” that so many people in our community raved about. It was an historic edifice to a by-gone day when old-fashioned 7-day revivals were still a thing and people went to church because it was expected.

Everybody thought it was a “precious little church [building],” but they had other places to be come Sunday.

Unfortunately, because the outside of a building does not reflect what goes on inside, the admirers who drove by in their cars every day did not know that looks alone couldn’t keep the red doors open for business. The cute little building, despite desperate injections of love and effort, was destined to close.

Picturesque

Now, let’s talk about Georgia…

I didn’t intend to look mean, it was just the sun in my eyes and I was looking down at my phone 🙂

The church I now pastor gathers in one of the most beautiful structures around! Not some wedding-chapel-like building, Bethlehem Baptist Church is known all over the area as a picturesque, post-card-worthy example of 19th-century architecture. I have no idea how many times the building has been photographed, but I know of three framed pieces of art depicting the structure hanging on different walls inside!

I mean, seriously! It’s one thing to know your church building is special, but it’s a whole different level when you’ve got three paintings of the outside on the inside! Needless to say, you’re not likely to forget where you are on your way to Sunday School.

As a matter of fact, the building itself was built in 1890 as part of the church’s centennial celebration! It’s listed, as you might imagine, as a protected historical site, too.  The structure is so well known that when I tell people where I work, if they don’t immediately recognize the name, they remember the building when I describe it.

People know Bethlehem Baptist Church.

Or do they?

(To prove the point, I am sitting at McDonald’s using their WiFi to write this. I asked the lady sweeping the floor, “Do you recognize this building?” She did. She’s from New York, not been here long, but remembered seeing it when driving by – and she’s looking for a church…so I invited her.)

Whited Sepulchers 

Before I go any further, and before anyone here at Bethlehem who’s reading this gets upset with me, I think Bethlehem Baptist Church is more than a building; it’s a fantastic congregation of Jesus-followers who love each other and their community. However, somewhere along the line the fame of the building outstripped the fame of the congregation’s deeds.

Jesus said that we should let others see our good works so that the ones seeing them might glorify our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16). Jesus also said the following:

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead [men’s] bones, and of all uncleanness. – Matthew 23:27

Is the building where I pastor a whitewashed tomb?? NO! It’s not! But if our church is known more for our outward beauty, more needs to be done to express the Life that is inside.

When people hear the name Bethlehem Baptist in Warthen, GA, I want the first thing to come to their mind is how much like Jesus the people inside are! I want the beauty of His grace to pop into their minds, not the memory of some architecture made with hands.

We’re NOT just a pretty building; we’re a living body of believers who gather in a pretty building. There’s a difference, and the difference is critical.

What’s in YOUR walls?

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Filed under Church, General Observations, ministry

He Lives! He Lives!

We celebrate many holidays in this world, but one stands out among the rest…

Easter.

Now, I know that some of the more legalistic among us will label all the celebrations “moot” because of certain “pagan” links, like that to Ishtar and fertility rites. The unbelievers will laugh off this day with arrogant disdain (especially with it being April Fool’s Day).

But for the majority of Christians around the world, this day is a day to rejoice in the Son of God’s victory over the grave.

We are prone to celebrate many things, like who won a game, that new promotion, or a birthday. We throw parties when political candidates squeak out a win, or when that big contract gets signed. Some will even fire thousands of AK-47 rounds into the air while shouting “Allah Akbar!” at the top of their lungs. But nothing is more worth celebrating than Jesus keeping His word and rising from the dead to secure eternal life for those who trust in Him.

Today, as I stand before a congregation, I will attempt, in the power of the Spirit, to stir the imagination, to take us back in time, to recreate a fraction of the excitement that must have been felt when those who were convinced of defeat were shocked by the greatest come-from-below victory of all time.

Today, before all those present, whether in flesh or spirit, I will celebrate victory over sin, death, and hell. The Enemy has been defeated, his tools are obsolete, for Jesus died and rose again.

He Lives!

Click on the link to listen to my favorite Resurrection Day song, “Gone!” (sung by Teddy Huffam).

Also, here’s a group that’s new to me singing a medley of Easter-related songs (none of them about a bunny).

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Filed under Easter, Faith, God, Preaching, salvation, worship

Undeniable Waiting Room Truth

Like Rush Limbaugh or Jethro Gibbs, you may have your own list of “undeniable truths.”

Or, like me, you may have nothing more than an unorganized list of life truths haphazardly stashed away in the cluttered files of your brain.

But as I sit here in a waiting room waiting to be called back for an ultrasound to my throat, one of the undeniable truths of life I’ve noticed in the past is equally true here today…as other patients and I wait…and wait…and wait.

Undeniable Truth: The more boring and dated magazines there are in a waiting room, the longer the wait will be.

Pick up a magazine you actually WANT to read and they’ll call you back 10 seconds in.

Am I wrong?

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Filed under General Observations, Life Lessons

When I Die, Will They Come?

If you’re looking for an inspirational blog post to start off your day, this one might not be for you. It’s dark and rainy as I write this, so don’t expect a lot of literary sunshine.

You see, I went to a funeral, yesterday, which is nothing new… I go to them all the time as a preacher and chaplain. Heck, it’s a common thing to go to more funerals as one gets older, and I’m certainly getting older. After a while everybody you know starts dying off.

But a common worry – yes, a worry – struck me as I sat in the funeral home chapel. It’s a low rumble of a fear that is noticeable only to me, but one that seems to be growing in intensity with every funeral I attend.

It’s the fear that no one will come to my funeral.

Take it however you want, but every time I go to a funeral and see empty seats in the chapel or church sanctuary, I wonder what it will be like when I die. Will I have affected the lives of enough people to warrant my life being memorialized or celebrated?

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not a King Herod who wishes people to mourn when I die. No, all I’m afraid of is that I will not have made a big enough difference to be missed.

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

I’m not afraid of dying, per se; I’m afraid of dying having not done enough to be missed when I’m gone.

Do any of you ever feel this way?

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Filed under Life/Death

Things to Do In 2019: Don’t take time for granted

“Man is like to vanity: his days are as a shadow that passeth away” (Psalm 144:4)

Every hour that passes, ever second of every minute, is another moment in time we will never get back. Our time here on Earth is so short, so fleeting, that we are compared by the Psalmist worthless self-perceptions and the nothingness that is shadow.

When I was young, Christmas morning was always 10 years away. Monday morning meant that I’d have to wait a lifetime until Saturday-morning cartoons. High school graduation was a moment that didn’t come soon enough.

Now that I’m much, much older (although I still watch Bugs Bunny), I have children that are adults, bills that come far too frequently, and calendars that fly by faster than a starving bat after a June bug.

Years ago I spent a couple of hours talking with a young man about his soul. I shared verse after verse, gave reason after reason, but he would not give his heart to Jesus. I’ll never forget how he agreed with everything I said, yet said, “Not tonight…maybe later.”

No more than a week later, after going to the hospital for a headache, he died of spinal meningitis. As far as I know, he went into eternity without God.

We don’t know how much time we have left. We don’t know how much time our loved ones have left.

One thing I’ve learned is that no matter how old you get, and no matter how old your friends and loved ones get, whenever some one you love dies it’s always too soon; you always wish you had more time.

We should never take the future for granted, like it’s going to be here for us. Actually, it will be here, but someday we will not.

Use every moment wisely. Cherish every moment. We only have so many.

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Filed under Family, Life/Death, the future

Who Was that Young Man?

I saw a picture of a younger me and wondered what ever happened to him.

Oh, I know what happened to him! He learned what it was like to fall flat on his face, fracture every thing worth treasuring, and fail in his efforts to fix it all with God.

In short, he learned the hard way what Grace was all about.

I’m glad he did.

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Filed under grace