Years ago I was shopping for a stereo and learned an interesting lesson in the store. I cranked up the volume on a set of speakers and was impressed with what I heard. But the sales assistant told me that even a mediocre set of speakers could do that. The measure of a speaker’s quality, he said, was how low you could turn the volume and still hear quality sound. Then taking the volume all the way to zero, he slowly raised the level. Before the dial reached “1” I was hearing a full range of music from a quality set of speakers.
The same idea is true in the spiritual realm, as no less than Elijah from scripture can testify. [click to continue…]
(Looking up from below Deer Bluff. The picture doesn’t do it justice.)
Family reunion at the farm, and it was crowd-ed. People were in every nook and cranny, and I don’t even know what a cranny is. I just needed to get away and spend time with the Lord. I so wanted to be refreshed by His presence and hear His voice speak to me in the way only He can.
What better way to do that than to enjoy the Father’s presence in nature? I was about 16 at the time, and for me that could only mean one thing – mount Grandaddy’s old Ford tractor and make the trek to the enchantment of Deer Bluff. [click to continue…]
You wouldn’t believe it. Not unless you saw it with your own two eyes.
You wouldn’t recognize him. Not unless you were with that band of misfits that united under his leadership.
But here you are and there he is and My God, what has happened? This is the guy whose exploits they sang about. This is the Giant Killer. In one afternoon you saw him rally his own people and send an army of Philistines running in fear.
And now he and you are living like pathetic dogs in a cave. Dirty. Haggard. Weak. Exhausted. And there before your eyes the man you knew would be king is at the end of his life.
Because he’s at the end of his courage. [click to continue…]
(Sort-of-random thoughts on the anniversary of infamy and conspiracy theories and high-powered cold medicine, which doesn’t really go with the previous two subjects but can sure make you see them in a whole new way…)
So many years gone… I was only five at the time. Still I remember the solemn funeral, the haunting image of the caisson and that black, riderless horse, and Mrs. Kennedy standing behind the veil. I don’t remember much else of the time, except for the fact that we had a black-and-white TV with three channels available, and when the president was on TV, we could forget watching Captain Kangaroo or Tom and Jerry because he would be on all three channels at the same time.
Wow… how did I ever survive a childhood without Sesame Street, the Cartoon Network, or Nick Jr.? The “Disney Channel” of course! Which came on for an hour every Sunday night at 6:00 on NBC.
Okay, so – in case you missed it – I wanted to let you know that there are people who still believe that no single shooter could have ended the days of Camelot. [click to continue…]
The stress you feel is proportional to the amount of control you have over a situation.
That sounds very intuitive, but there’s a spiritual contradiction to that. More on that in a minute.
Here’s an example of how that idea works out in the natural. A month ago I go to the doctor and he says my lipid levels are high. I roll my eyes and say, “same old same old.” I don’t get stressed about it because there is something I can do to correct it. Anyway, I’ve been hearing that for 30 years.
When he sends me for another test and I find out my heart calcium score is high, almost in the danger zone, again, the first thing I do is look for something I can do about it, because I have a steadfast belief that I can do something about it. So I’m motivated, but not stressed.
Same thing goes, even when I’m told I’m a Type II diabetic because of my lifestyle choices in the past. Well, crud. But I can do something about that by making different choices (and by the way I am making different choices and seeing wonderful results).
But when the doctor says I have a narrowing in the arteries at the top of my heart and he “wants to take a look at it” with an angiogram, and oh, by the way, if there is a significant enough blockage he may put a stint in it, suddenly he has crossed the line of my control.
Hello stress. [click to continue…]
Next time you make an appointment with me, I’ll just expect you to show up early! Boy, was that a quick surprise! But I’ll take that kind of surprise any day.
We welcomed you into the world on Wednesday, September 18, just two days after your Great Grandpaw turned 76 years old. “We” is a relative term, however, and this relative didn’t get to make it until Friday. But that surprise one-of-a-kind voice you heard while you were still in the hospital? Yep. That was Grammy.
That’s about all I know to say about that.
You were born into a family that absolutely adores children. You were wanted. Anticipated. Prayed for. And delighted in… long before you were ever born.
You big brother Jackson is already crazy about you. He loves to watch you sleep, hold you (with a little help), and pat you while you’re sleeping. He’s both tenderhearted and brilliant – I can’t think of a better big brother for you.
Your parents are pretty amazing people themselves. [click to continue…]
We used to have this set of biblical art prints – four of them – that were gifts from dear friends. The art was good, but now more than 15 years later we laughed at the fact that the characters – Jesus, Mary, a couple of others – all had “80s hair.” It was feathered, layered, shoulder length, and looked blow-dried fresh out of a salon.
Jesus seemed to have it all. He was hip, compelling, with a laser gaze right at you and his hand reaching out in such a way that you just couldn’t say no.
Mary was, well, I don’t know how else to say it… she was hot. In a holy sort of way, of course. If they had mani-pedis back then, no doubt this version of Mary was just back from one.
I don’t know who the artist was, but I’m sure he or she was probably tired of all those sissy-looking Renaissance-era paintings of Jesus who looked as though He just had his nails done, and wanted something different. More reflective of the styles and cultures of the artist’s day, by the time we got them, they were very dated. We wound up hanging them in our laundry room. Not quite sure why. [click to continue…]
Ever try one of those teachable moments with your kids that gets turned back on you? As in, Who’s teaching whom?
Twenty or so years ago, we were living in West Alabama and I took Cassie, about age 9, to the local shopping center (translation: Walmart). It was just before Easter. We didn’t find whatever it was we were looking for, so we left past the customer service counter.
“Daddy,” she whispered. “Look… those people are poor!”
“Those people” were a middle-aged married couple, standing at the customer service desk. They were very humbly dressed, to be sure. And they had all the individual parts to make their own Easter baskets – apparently not able to afford the prepackaged wonders that were for sale in the back.
Ah, Fatherhood! The opportunities we have to engage with our children at teachable moments to give them perspective, wisdom, and character. This was certainly one of them, and a donned my SuperDad cape. [click to continue…]
We were standing in a line. A food line, snaking its way into the church fellowship hall.
It was an interesting mix of people. Some of our church members, who were hosts. Most of our youth group, over which I presided. And a touring youth choir from Kentucky. It was a fun atmosphere, and everybody was having a good time as they got to know each other and anticipated the concert later that evening.
Standing at the rear of the line there in Lumberton, Mississippi, were the pastor of the Kentucky church and the pastor of the Mississippi church – my friend Rick. The Kentucky pastor made an interesting observation, especially for somebody who hadn’t been there very long.
“There’s something different about this church,” he said to Rick.
Little did he really know. But he would soon find out.
And it all started at camp. [click to continue…]
I didn’t know it would be the last time.
But then again, we both had lived long enough to know there are no guarantees when it comes to this sort of thing.
It was in Orlando, coming up on three years ago. Rick said he’d drive me back to the airport. We had been together during the Southern Baptist Convention. (It would be less-than-honest if I said we had been there FOR the Southern Baptist Convention). But we used the meeting there as an opportunity for a reunion of the Wolfepack. Rick was always the undisputed leader of that gang.
During a difficult time in my life, they had made sure to include me in the meeting. And it was as though we had never missed a beat. That’s the nature of the truest of friends.
Rick dropped me off at the airport to fly home. Just after walking into the terminal, I realized to my horror that I had left my phone in his car. I found a way to call it, and of course, he turned around and brought it back to me.
He took that picture of himself on it (above), and made it the wallpaper.
That was Rick.
And I kept it as my wallpaper for about a month after my wife started asking, “How long are you going to keep that?” [click to continue…]