Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

March 11, 2017

Only One Life

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 3:11 am

Serious reflection happens sometimes!  Amid a busy life, there seems to be times when reflecting on life takes over other thoughts and planning.  That occurred to me the other day.

Why such a time of looking back at your life?  It might have to do with some activity that you remember with great joy . . . or even a time of distress and danger.  For me, it may have been thinking about age and some limitations of  doing certain adventurous things.   After all, I am getting to that point in life when you “remember” many things!

What came to my mind — whatever I was doing and I cannot remember — was an old saying that has been around for a long time.  As a teenager, I first saw the saying in a store front window in Hiwassee, Georgia went I went into town for some camping supplies.  Those were not days when I was focused on living for Christ, but the plaque caught my attention and the words invaded my heart.  I have never forgotten that day or the words I read.  They were from Lelete Dotson, career missionary to Nigeria.  I even remember that years later my mother had a small plaque with the words.  Only one life to live . . .  it will soon be past.  Only what is done for Christ will last.

Now I have a life with tons of memories.  If you have read my blogs over the past years, you would agree that I have lived a very exciting, rewarding, and adventurous life.  From dangerous times flying,  adventures in dugout canoes, first white man in an area,  confrontation with a witch doctor, climbing volcanoes, isolated and stranded on an island, guest in the White House, etc. —  I could not have planned my life better.  I did have plans, or course, but I am glad a greater Planner had plans for  me!

As I remembered such a wonderful life, I was struck with an evaluation in light of that old saying.  I truly began to weigh so much that I have experienced, and I wondered if it had any eternal significance.  I want to believe that much has, but has much of it been for my pleasure and satisfaction?  Even though so much was under the umbrella of Christian commitment — did I honor Christ in all of it, or was I so caught up in the activity or adventure that it will be judged one day by Him as works that will not last through eternity?

I know that it can be unwise sometimes to expose oneself, but I am willing to be transparent in the hope that others might begin to measure what they do in life.  Pleasure now is only temporary.  Joy can be fleeting.  Life in this world will soon be over.  It is eternity in which we will live with all that matters and brings reward.

Consider those words.  Reflect as I did.  You may find your life strengthen and blessed.  I know that it has helped adjust some of my priorities!

“Only one life to live . . .  it will soon be past.  Only what is done for Christ will last.”

Lawson

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January 17, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 12:00 pm

With the Billy Graham Team

Certainly no other preacher has been used around the world like Billy Graham.  This is not a blog to report or tell about the ministry of Billy Graham.  He is so well known that you as readers would probably know more than I about him.

I want to share a marvelous time in my life when I had the privilege to participate in the activities of the Billy Graham team.  It was 1970, Knoxville, TN.  It was an eight-day Billy Graham Crusade.  To say it was a lifetime opportunity would be an understatement.  Those days with the team in  preparing for the opening night, and then the day-by-day activities during the crusade, were days that marked my life.  I gained such spiritual insight and influence, as well as learned so much about organization and operation of such a large endeavor.

The night services were such a blessing, although so much of my attention was involved in the mechanics and responsibilities.  I was overwhelmed with the security that was necessary, even back in that year.  The follow-up on the morning after each evening service taught me the importance of evaluation.  Words cannot describe those days of discipline upon my life.  I learned much that has aided in my personal ministry.

I would have the privilege on several occasions following that time to be the instructor for the Life and Witness course that the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association required of counselors for crusades and the evangelistic movie crusades that were used in cities.  This certainly strengthened my concern for, and the training of, counselors in our churches.  There were many denominations represented among these, but our message and approach was specific.  The skills learned from this course and the preparation and teaching of the course profoundly affected my personal approach to witnessing and preparing a personal witnessing tool.

The association with this wonderful organization has contributed much to my life. I will always be grateful to this team and the opportunity I was given.  Again, I am thankful for those  God has used to teach and train me.

Yet, my life and our family have been touched by the Billy Graham Association in other ways.  Many of you may know of the special that Billy Graham did on our Jennifer.  You can see excerpts from the special at this website: www.jenniferrothschild.com/media.html.   There is also an article about her from the Decision magazine produced by the association: www.billygraham.org/articlepage.asp?ArticleID=815.

My story can be repeated probably by a multitude of people, but for this one person, the ministry of Billy Graham will carry on through a generation.

Lawson

January 2, 2017

Rescue at the Quarry

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

In my book Protected, I share how God protects His own. There is not always a particular method that could be cited as how God protected us in a certain situation, yet we believe He did.  It may be through angels or simply that God is omniscient and omnipotent.

Let me share another occasion in my life where it could only have been the protected power of God that rescued me. As a boy in Stone Mountain there were not many places to go swimming.  There was McCurdy Hole behind the cemetery, but it was not a place to swim–only a place to get wet as you slid down the natural water slide as the creek poured down the granite outcropping into a large hole.  Then there was Yellow River–but not a good place to swim and a little too far to walk.  Of course, there was Pine Lake, but it was not open to the public.  You had to be a resident or a guest.  So swimming locations were few.

There was one special place however — around the mountain at the old, abandoned quarry.  The quarry had filled up over the years.  It was deep water, but there was one place for novice swimmers.  There was a ledge about 50 feet wide and about 3 feet deep before you got to the edge of the deep water.  At the edge of the deep water, resting on this ledge, was an old wooden overseer’s platform.

On a particular day when I was being diligent toward learning to swim, I mustered enough courage to attempt to swim off that shallow ledge and around that platform. As I began this courageous swim, I approached that platform and realized there was an old piece of timber that had fallen and required that I swim out further from that ledge to avoid it.

As I attempted to swim out and around that timber, something happened. I either got frightened, lost my courage, or lost the rhythm of my stroke.  Suddenly, I began to sink.  No, the best word is that I began to drown.  There was no doubt I was drowning.  I could not call for help nor could I regain my stroke.  I knew I was drowning.  I certainly could not save myself now that I had panicked.  None of my cousins or friends saw me.  No one was aware of my distress.

Yet there was One there at that moment! He knew exactly where I was and what I needed.  Suddenly, it was as if a hand reached out and caught me and pulled me to that ledge.  There was no one else there, and even when I was safe, the others still did not know what had happened to me.

I ask you. How did God do that?  Was it an angel?  Was it my Good Shepherd with His staff Who simply reached out and hooked me and drew me to safety?  You can explain it any way you choose.  But I am here today to say my God did it.  And I do not have to know how He did it!  I just know He did, and that is good enough for me.  And I will always be thankful and grateful for His rescue of me.

For those of us who live by faith, we know we are under God’s watchful eye and protection. Be thankful for His power and love over our lives.

The Lord will keep you from all harm–he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” (Psalm 121:7,8)

Lawson

December 25, 2016

The Reason for Today

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 12:00 pm

” . . . a Savior has been born to you;  he is Christ the Lord.”

 

December 24, 2016

Remarkable People

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 12:00 pm

Most of us experience times of chaos in our life.  We certainly do not desire it.  We choose comfort and order in our lives.  We constantly seek to control events and circumstances in order that I lives can enjoy each day.  But we will all admit that moments come when comfort and peace seems  all fall apart and we face hours,  days, or an extended period of  chaos.

At this season, have you thought about Mary and Joseph?  What a wonderful time it was for them.  They had fallen in love, become engaged, and looked forward to their wedding day.  As with all young couples, they surely had to be excited.  I would like to believe that their family and friends were rejoicing with them.

But then God moved into their lives.  You know the story.  The angel came to this young lady and announced that she was to become pregnant.  Her reaction was that it could not be because she was a virgin.  Yet, she did become pregnant through the power of God.

Imagine that day when she realized she was pregnant.  Oh, the thoughts she must have had!  “I cannot believe this!”  “How can I explain this to Joseph?”  “What will my family and friends say?”  “I will be an outcast!”  Suddenly her world of comfort has turned to chaos.  Her future is in jeopardy.  Life will never be the same for her.

Consider Joseph.  Mary tells him of the pregnancy and how it happened.  But Joseph did not believe her.  His heart is shattered.  Nothing like that happens without unfaithfulness.  He knows he cannot marry her now.  And even his life will never be the same.  His excitement for the future crumbles.  He just wants to disappear.  Yet, his deep love for Mary causes him not to expose what he considered  infidelity.  He sought to break the  engagement as quietly as possible.  Oh, how he longed for the comfortable life they had enjoyed.  Now all is chaotic.

How did they overcome all these feelings, thoughts, and the public array against them that would come?  They yielded to God.  Mary understood that God had chosen her for a special purpose, and regardless of the cost to her personally, she willingly submitted to what God wanted to do in her life.  “I am the Lord’s servant, may it be to me as you have said.”  (Luke 1:38)

And Joseph, likewise, accepted that God wanted him to be involved in what God wanted to do in the world.  He would accept the chaos and choose to marry Mary regardless of the cost to his reputation. God put it in his heart to trust God.  And he was willing.  ” . . . and he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.”  (Matthew 1:24)

Don’t you marvel at the faith and obedience of Mary and Joseph?  And a question behooves each of us.  Are we willing for chaos to come into our life if God wants to do something through us?  When God asks us to do something for Him, it can mean a change in friends, in location, job, activities, and a myriad of other things that might remove us from our comfortable life. God chose to use Mary and Joseph to be part of His eternal plan for the world.  Perhaps God is calling some of us to participate with Him in what He desires to do in our family, among our friends, or in the world.  Will we trust Him enough to obey, whatever the cost?

Seeking a gift to give the Lord Jesus on His Day?  Why not offer you life?

Lawson

December 23, 2016

The Blessing of Sharing

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 12:00 pm

Most of us have experienced the blessing that comes from giving to others.  Everyone, hopefully, can remember times when your heart was full because of the joy you felt you brought to others. When our sharing is from the heart, there is a feeling that is difficult to describe.  Can you remember some of those occasions?

As a boy and later as a teenager, I recall visiting homes just prior to Christmas and presenting food, clothing, and toys to several families.  I was blessed to be part of a church that sought to provide for those who had difficulty providing for themselves at the Christmas season.    Sometimes it was done very quietly in respect for the families, while on other occasions we entered the home and shared love and entertainment.

I was also blessed to be a part of a family that shared quietly with many in our community.  My parents, operating the family business, knew so many families that had needs at Christmas.  They would provide boxes of items for the families, according to the  needs and ages of the family.  It was often my joy to deliver these boxes to the homes on a schedule where the adults were expecting me.  I would always drive away from those homes with a heart full of  joy.  It was such a blessing and fulfilment in my own life.

I recall an occasion when Judy and I experienced that joy, even though it became a little frightening.  We were traveling from San Angelo, Texas  to Clearwater, Florida to visit our parents.  We had driven further that first day than we intended.  It was late into the night. We were somewhere in Louisiana when we made a stop for gas and some food.  We wanted to find a motel so we could rest to continue our journey the next day.

At this stop we met a young man who had a pressing need.  He needed to get home, but had no funds.  We talked with him for a moment, and although similar encounters happen to us, we felt impressed to give aid. We talked with him and offered to purchase a bus ticket for him.  We had very little money with us, and this pre-dated credit cards.  As we invited the man into our car, a state trooper approached us.  He had watched and listened to our gesture of aid.  He commended us and told us he would lead us to the bus station.

At the bus station, we purchased the ticket, gave a few dollars for food, expressed our love and prayers, and watched him as he  boarded the bus.  As we walked toward the parking lot, we asked the state trooper about a motel.  He responded that it would be difficult to find one at this hour.  There was a biker’s conclave in town and all the motels were full.  He told us, however, that he would make some calls.  He told us to follow him and he would direct us to a motel where we could stay.  This kind trooper watched after us that evening.  Though our hearts were full with the blessing of sharing, Judy and I suddenly realized that after we paid for the motel, we had only a few dollars to get us home.  Gas was a must, and so food would be scarce.  But it did not matter for the blessing we received that evening.

Sometimes the opportunity comes for sharing when we have not planned.  This happened just a few weeks ago as we were traveling.  I cannot even remember the city, but somewhere in Kentucky, we stopped at a motel.  After dinner, we noticed a thrift store in the plaza.  Now Judy and I enjoy visiting every thrift store, Salvation Army, Hospice, and Goodwill store we see.  So for our entertainment that evening, we went to this thrift store.

As we walked around the store, we watch several people and the purchases they were making.  I was standing near the check-out when my attention was drawn to a young couple with two children.  They were purchasing a few clothing items that they definitely needed.  It was obvious that this family struggled financially.  As they waited their turn at the counter, the two children spotted a box of stuffed animals.  They were toy animals that had obviously received an abundance of love from the previous owners.  The children began to hug these stuffed animals and their eyes expressed a delight.  The smile on their face was that question to their parents, “Oh, can we buy these?”

The parents looked at each other and the communication was plain talk.  They could not afford them, yet it was Friday night and they had the desire to make it possible for these children to have these toys.  I watched this scene and something in my heart was moved.  I believe it was a prompting from God to step up and purchase for them the toys as well as the clothing items.  It was such a nominal amount.

I confess to you that an argument ensued within me.  I should do it.  I want to do it.  But will I offend the family?  Will I embarrass a father where it does not look like he can provide for the family? Will I come across as someone rich that is trying to get attention?  That was the conversation within me.  I must tell you that with great regret, to this day, I did not offer to pay that bill!

As we left the store, I told Judy of the experience.  Unknown to me, she had watched and felt the same way.  We both wanted to return to the scene and relive it and do what we felt we should have done.  Even as I write this, Judy and I have talked about our grief from not responding.  Those parents certainly felt the blessing of giving to their children, even out of their own need.  But Judy and I missed the blessing that could have been ours!  I failed to follow the leading of the Spirit of God.  A blessing was missed!

Let me encourage you to be discerning with those feelings you get on occasions when you see a need.  It may very well be a prompting from God.  And if we are not obedient, we miss the great joy and blessing from sharing that God wanted for us.

Lawson

December 22, 2016

My Joy at Christmas

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 12:00 pm

Christmas is a time of joy!  Children are excited! Families laugh and love!  It is truly a season of joy!  I have looked back and remembered times of special joy at Christmas.  Sometimes, that joy was even expressed with tears.

It was Christmas 1956.  I was pastor of a church in Texas and we had a special Christmas Eve program.  As soon as it was completed, I began a long, lonely journey to Georgia.  I was anxious to get home and see my family and friends.  U.S. 80.  I had traveled this highway before.  I had often hitched a ride with a friend going the direction toward Georgia.  I had ridden the bus on occasion. And the last time I had been down this highway I hitch-hiked that 1000 miles.  But now I had a car.  Though a long trip, that 1950 Plymouth was my rocket home.

There were very few service stations or businesses opened at these late evening and early morning hours. There was not much to attract your attention.  Passing the time, I know that I thought a thousand thoughts.  I thought of home and  family.  I looked forward also to seeing some old friends and sharing with them my new life.  Oh, it was to be a wonderful holiday.

Somewhere in Louisiana, about 2 a.m. I was listening to the radio when suddenly there was  static and cracking.  Then a voice seemingly broke in, and I heard “This is WSB, Atlanta, Georgia.”  How could this be?  I was too far away to pick up this station that was so familiar to me.  It happened, of course, as a result of what is called in the industry, a skip.  Because of some unusual atmospheric conditions, the sound wave was bouncing over some clouds and falling upon me!  My attention was fixed on hearing WSB.  Suddenly, the station began to play “I’ll Be Home for Christmas . . . .”  Oh, the emotion of that moment.  Tears began to flow down my cheeks.  The tears were an expression of joy and excitement.  As a 23-year-old, I had no apology for my tears.  I was going home and my heart was bursting with anticipation.  I can never forget the emotion of that moment!

Yet there is another Christmas where my heart experienced joy. A joy that overwhelmed me.  It was the Christmas of 1961.  Judy and I were in a committed relationship, and we knew that marriage was in our future.  In fact, we believed that on our first date!  Although we both anticipated marriage in the short future, there was still no official announcement of our plans.  I was the pastor of a church in Clearwater and Judy attended there with me.  The entire church knew it would only be a matter of time before an engagement would be announced.  Yet no one knew that time.

As Christmas approached, I could not think of a better time.  I talked with her father and received permission to officially propose to her.  Then at the precise, planned moment, I asked her to be my wife.  But I did not ask in the usual manner.  My proposal would be different, and few men in the world could use the words of my proposal.  As I gazed at her, I sang ” ‘Tis the Season to be Jolly!” 

And she responded yes!  Suddenly there was a joy unspeakable.  Within my heart there were fireworks, shouts, singing, laughter, joy, and even tears.  Many of those emotions were visible also.  What a Christmas joy I experienced!

The joy that must overwhelm us at this season is what we often sing “Joy to the World,! The Lord is Come.”  Celebrating Christmas must be more than the joy of being with family and friends.  There should be an emotion that is pure within our hearts–a joy beyond expression.  To know that because of the coming of Jesus Christ into the world, our lives can know a peace beyond what the world can ever offer.  Joy, happiness, and even tears should overflow from our hearts at the Christmas season.  Try to imagine a world without Jesus Christ–or your life without Him!  God so loved us that He gave to each of us His Son to be our Saviour and Lord.  Oh, we must celebrate with great joy!  And if tears are an expression of your joy, so be it!

“Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!”  (Philippians 4:4)

Lawson

December 21, 2016

My Apology

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 12:50 pm

My apology for you having  receivrd all the Christmas blogs at the same time.  Some error occurred for which I have no explanation.  They were supposedly scheduled to come one each day through Christmas.

Oh, well, you have gotten your Christmas reading done ahead of time,

Thank you for being a faithful follower of my blogs.

I wish you and your family a Christ-blessed Christmas!

Lawson

Don’t Miss Christmas

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 12:04 am

There are some stories we hear and we never forget them.  One such is on my mind today.  I do not remember where I heard it or if it is true.  If someone recognizes the story, please know that I do not claim originality or that I would deliberately tell the story without giving proper credit.

The story is of a middle-aged, single man.  He had been a loyal employee of a bank for many years.  It was Christmas Eve and the bank closed early for a Christmas party.  The man, I will call him George, did not participate in the party as he was a loner.  Instead, he stayed at his desk inside the large bank vault where he continued to do his work.

Deeply involved in his labor, he was unaware that the party ended and the other employees had left.  He was aware, however, that the large steel door to the vault had closed.  The door was timed to close each evening at a certain time and then open the following day at a certain time.

When George discovered that the door had closed, he knew that he was trapped until the next morning.  However, he did not panic because he was aware of the electrical power within the vault that provided light and circulation of air.  He also knew that in his desk that was some snacks that he always kept available.

George passed the time by continuing to work.  At last when he was tired, he used his coat to make a pillow and he stretched out on the floor for some sleep.  The next morning he waited for the vault to open.  Then he realized that it was Christmas Day and the vault would not open nor would any employees be coming to work.  The bank was closed for Christmas!

George, being a patient man, simply succumbed to the realization that he would have to spent another day and night in the vault.  He resolved to that circumstance.  Though it was a long day, the hours passed and again he slept on the floor.

The next morning, the day after Christmas, the large door to the vault opened.  George, needing a shave and shower, walked out of the vault, through the bank, and went home.  As a single man, there was  no family to greet him or to have missed him during Christmas Day. He would rest some, shower and shave, and return to the bank for a day’s work.  No one had realized what had happened to George.

What had George missed?  He missed Christmas!  Oh, he missed a Christmas Day with family and friends, a day off from work, and all the joys and excitement of that special day.  But did he really miss Christmas?  How can we know what was in his heart.  He may, or he may not have, celebrated Christmas in that vault.  He could have, of course.  Celebrating Christmas is not dependent on where we are, what we have, or who we are with.  The celebration of Christmas is within our heart.

There are many people who will be with family and friends.  They will enjoy the exchange of gifts, a special meal, and excitement of a special day.  Yet, with all that, many will miss Christmas because they miss the Christ!  My prayer is that we will so focus on the genuine purpose of Christmas that we will know Christ in His reality as He comes into our lives.

Please don’t miss Christmas!

Lawson

December 19, 2016

Musical Me

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 9:09 pm

This is real confession today.  Very few know this about me, but something brought this to mind.  I used to play the accordion.  Yes, I did.  I know that is hard to believe for those who know my musical ability.  I do love music, but the old expression, “he can’t carry a tune in a bucket” wouldn’t even describe me.  It is more like “he can’t carry a tune in a bucket if the lid was glued on and his hand was glued to the handle.”  I mean it.  I could use fancy words and say I am tone-deaf.  I think it is worse than that.

Nevertheless, I do have a musical background.  When I was in the seventh and eighth grades, I played the accordion. I took lessons weekly.   I don’t recall if it was my idea or my parents.  But I got started with a small 12 bass,25 piano key accordion.  Within a few months I was ‘promoted’ by my teacher to playing in an accordion band.  That required that I have a larger accordion.  My parents  then purchased for me a Hohner 120 bass with 41 piano keys, and various stops and ranks.  It was so complex that it perplexed me!  But I was big time now!

The negative to this large squeezebox was the weight.  I had to ride the streetcar to Atlanta, and walk about 10 blocks lugging that monster.  I truly believe it weighed half what I did.  Yet, I was seeing in my mind great fame on the big White Way of New York!   I had met Graham Jackson during this time.  He was  the foremost accordionist in the South during that era and known nationally.  His charisma challenged me and gave me ambition.  I was to meet him later and actually play with him.

With this great fantasy in my mind, I worked hard, yet never really enjoying it as others would have assumed.  That is why  my motivation could be  questioned.  Perhaps my desire was for the spotlight.  You see, I had a sister who sang and danced.  She was in all kinds of productions and recitals.  I attended them all. I saw her and others  in the spotlight and perhaps I was a little envious.  In fact, for a short period of time, I even took tap dancing because it put me in the presence of so many beautiful young ladies–well, I can call them ladies even if they were only 15 or 16 years old!  I probably thought, as the only male in this group, “what an opportunity!”

Somewhere in this saga, my sister and I  began a duo performance.  I would play this one-man-band and she would sing and dance.  Our most famous production was “Ain’t She Sweet?”.  We performed many places.  We were even on television as television began to be available in the Atlanta area.  We would perform at these designer stores during  the intermission at fashion shows.  Seems I was moving on toward Hollywood!

But then to practice everyday was interfering with my daily life.  This was not the priority it should be.  Oh, I wanted to be successful, but without paying the cost.  My teacher also began to require a little more from me, and I felt the pressure.  I could not produce to satisfy her expectations.  I realized that something was wrong.  I needed to play more difficult pieces and learn them faster, but I could not.  Then the great discovery.  I really didn’t have the ear for  music.  I was simply memorizing the notes and was not fully aware when I hit a wrong note.  With that realization, confirmation by my teacher, and agreement by my parents, I retired as an accordionist.

I never really missed it as other things took my attention and time.  Oh, today, I truly wish I could play like a Graham Jackson, but it cannot be.  My gifts are truly in other arenas.  And my gift to you and the world is that I am not playing the accordion at your next event!

Anything here for us to learn today?  Perhaps.  Many of us struggle to accomplish something for which we have no gift.  Yet all of us should be striving to use what gift or gifts God has given us.  I do not have the gift of music, but that does not excuse me from using well what gifts I do have.  Each of us must seek to know the gifts we have been given, and then faithfully exercise those gifts for God’s glory.

“Each man has his own gift from God . . . .”  (1 Corinthians 7:7)   “Do not neglect your gift . . . .”  (1 Timothy 4:14)   “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others . . . .”  (1 Peter 4:10)

Lawson

Memory Like An Elephant

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 9:56 am

Memory Like An Elephant

I love elephants! I always dreamed that I could be rich enough to have a large compound where I could have an elephant!  Of course, they are the most expensive animal to care for.  An elephant can eat several hundred pounds of food a day!

I loved elephants as a young boy. I can remember going with my dad when the Barnum Bailey train would arrive and they would parade the animals —  especially, the elephants —  down the streets to the big lot where the circus would be held.  The elephants were the power to raise the tent poles, as well as move other materials.

During those years, Jumbo was the most famous elephant in the world! A large African elephant that was always the delight of the crowd!  African elephants are my choice.  There are also Asian elephants.  There is a difference in the two:  over-all size, shape of the head, shape of the back, length of tusk, number of fingers at end of the trunk, and the size of the ears.

 

The African elephant is the largest. They weigh an average of 12,000 pounds, though the record weight is 22,000 pounds!  Elephants are social animals.  They can communicate with one another, and they are excellent swimmers.  With the two fingers at the end of the trunk, they can pick a delicate flower without crushing it.

They are indeed wonderful and fascinating animals. But, is it true what many have said? “An elephant never forgets!”

Elephants, indeed, rank among the smartest in the animal kingdom. Some believe it is the size of the brain compared to body weight.  Other studies cannot give the reason for their intelligence, but it is confirmed that they reason and remember.

There is evidence where certain villages were attacked by elephants and the studies conclude it was those villages where the men hunted and abused the elephants. The elephants remembered and seemingly planned the attacks.

Elephants remember injuries and hold grudges against those who have mistreated them. There are more injuries among trainers and keepers of elephants than any other animals.  Evidence suggests that the elephants remember trainers and keepers who mistreated them even years after being separated.

If there is one characteristic most humans share with elephants, it is the remembrance of being hurt, injured or abused by someone. Many people carry with them throughout life the memory of such.  It may be from an adult or some childhood friend.  It may have been a physical attack or simply verbal.  It might have been someone who laughed or ridiculed an act or our appearance on a certain day.

That person may not have any recollection of their action, but the one offended or hurt has never forgotten. The elephant often seeks revenge upon remembrance of being mistreated —  perhaps some of us do likewise.

Someone says, “Forgive and forget.” Sounds easy!  We will probably never forget . . . but we can forgive.  And unless we forgive, we imprison ourselves with emotions, anger, and even a desire for revenge.  If we forgive, then when we  do recall the mistreatment, it will not have the same emotion of anger and resentment.

It seems we have an ability the elephant does not have. That is the ability to forgive . . . !

” . . . if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him . . . .” (Mark 11:25)

Lawson

November 29, 2015

A Model of Graciousness

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 3:52 pm

(A re-post from February 26, 2013, in respect to Mark Richt.)

Now and then I am struck with a model of graciousness!  We do not see it all that often in a society that protects its time and privacy –often at the expense of others.

Graciousness is seen when a person extends themselves in kindness and courtesy.  True graciousness is not an act or effort in certain situations, but is a character trait of an individual.  It is so refreshing to witness that characteristic!  If you spend time with that person,  you soon know if it is genuine and a consistent expression.

Recently, that characteristic was verified again in a person that I have long been convinced is a mark of his life.  (Read Coach and First Lady, http://www.lawsonjolly.com/2012/02/07)

I am speaking of nationally respected and successful head football coach of the University of Georgia, Mark Richt.  We recently had dinner with Mark and Katharyn at a very large restaurant in Atlanta.  It was interesting to observe the reactions of people as they recognized him.

As I would watch through the corner of my eye, some would be using their cameras — mostly their phone camera — and they would try to take a picture of him from a distance.  It appeared that others were “shooting” over the shoulder of someone in their group as if they were taking a picture of the them.

But it did not take long before people began to come to the table.  They would shake his hand and ask if they could take his picture.  Mark was so gracious and kind.  He always invited the wife, or husband, or child to come stand with him.  He would even take the smaller children and lift them into his lap.

There would be far too many times to count how his meal was interrupted.  On departure from the restaurant, much more time was given to photos!  He is truly an icon in Georgia!

True graciousness was evident during our meal.  And Mark never expressed any impatience.  Why . . . he would usually stand for the photos . . . and during these days it is more difficult as he is recovering from a hip replacement!  You are imagining by now a meal of standing and sitting, and being interrupted in conversations so he could converse with these many Georgia fans.

I continued to watch and my mind was asking how can one be so gracious?  Again, I confirm that it is “not part of his job,” but a natural expression of who he is!

I think I know why he is such a gracious gentleman.  It has to do with who he really is . . . or should I say . . . to Whom he truly belongs.  Mark Richt is a committed Christian.  Jesus Christ is truly the Lord of his life.  As we were served our food, and my being the “preacher,” I prepared to say the blessing.

But Mark immediately ask for the privilege to say the blessing.  What a testimony to others in the restaurant!  But again, it was not for show!  Although it was a profound witness of who he is, it was a genuine desire to thank his Heavenly Father.  The Christian life . . . openly expressing such faith . . . speaks volumes!  Why is Mark Richt so gracious?  His Lord was gracious and Mark reflects the One he openly serves!  His Christ bestowed grace on him.  A pure act of God’s love bestowed on us — God’s grace — undeserved, yet given.  Christ in us gives us the ability to show grace to others.  Without doubt, Mark expresses grace!

Oh, what a wonderful world this would be if such graciousness abounded!

“And God is able to make all grace abound in you . . . .”  2 Corinthians 9:8

Lawson

Coach and First Lady

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 3:42 pm

(This is a blog from February 7, 2012.  It is re-posted to show support of Mark and Katharyn Richt.)

The media often refers to them as “Coach and First Lady.”  I am referring to Mark and Katharyn Richt!  Mark is the head football coach of the University of Georgia Bulldogs, and Katharyn, his wife, is also known as “America’s Water Girl” as she works the sidelines at games providing water to the players.

Mark and Katharyn are remarkable people.  We have known this couple for almost 20 years.  We have had the joy of seeing their family grow and the commitments that take priority in their lives.  They increased their family from their two boys, John and David, by adopting two infants from the Ukraine about 10 years ago.  Most of America know this incredible story and marvel at the compassion and love of this couple.

They are examples to others in so many ways.  We recently had the privilege of spending a couple of days with them and the more you are around them, the more you desire to present them as models to American couples.  Mark shared some things that so encouraged me and I believe could be an encouragement to all who would hear his heart.

He spoke of adversity.  His reference was to the past season with the Georgia Bulldogs.  Georgia lost their first two football games.  That can put a coach on what they refer to as “the hot seat.”  Everyone knows that if a coach is not winning, administration and fans begin to make some rumblings.  Mark was aware of that . . .  as were the other coaches and players.

So how does one handle such adversity?  Mark’s response was that you prepare for it.  Yes, prepare for adversity!  He had my attention because adversity comes in various forms and at various times to everyone.  He said that he nor the players panicked after losing the games. They did not fall apart . . . get rattled!

The coaches and players were prepared.  There was no blaming one another — coaches of players, players of coaches, players of players, or coaches of coaches.  They had prepared well through a spirit of unity — they were bonded together!  They all had made a commitment — players to coaches, coaches to players, players to players, and coaches to coaches.  It appeared they were truly united, whatever they would face.  They believed in one another!

The preparation for adversity prevented a season of defeat!  And look at the remarkable season they did have!  They would win the next 10 games!  All that Mark shared resonated with me.  Oh, the message received!

Adversity will come.  Am I prepared?  There must be a commitment on my part . . . I must not panic but know that I am bonded with One who will provide strength and direction during a time of adversity.  I will never blame someone or some circumstance for the adversity.  If I do, I will focus my energy on that and not on the victory that I can have in spite of the set back.

Mark’s strongest words that testified to his coaching responsibility  . . . and whatever he faces in life, resounded when he said, “In everything, I am totally dependent on God.”  That is the character of Mark and Katharyn.  The priority of their life is Jesus Christ.  My respect for them is always heightened when I am around them and see the testimony of Christian conviction.

Why knowing them is enough for me to shout, “Go Dawgs!”

Lawson

June 16, 2015

For now . . . a hiatus!

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

A message for those of you who receive my blogs . . . and for those who search for my blogs via lawsonjolly.com.

I am taking a hiatus in writing.  I do appreciate the faithfulness of so many to follow my blogs.  I am equally grateful for those who have searched and found my blogs.

For those who are new followers, allow my to provide some instructions on how you can read previous blogs during this interim period.

In the archives, there are over 700 blogs, so I feel you can find adequate reading.

When you are on a page displaying a blog . . . (for those receiving the blogs automatically via email, you need to click on the title of the blog and it will take you to the display of the normal format.) you will see in the right  column a calendar for the month.  You will note certain days are in black.  This indicates there is a posted blog for that day.  Move your cursor over the date and you will see the title of the blog.  Click on the day and it will present the blog.

Below the calendar, you will see the title of the last 15 blogs posted.  Click on the title and the blog presents itself.

Below that list you will see the Archives.  Click on a month/year and you will have the calendar that shows days of blogs . . . and with the previous explanation, your cursor will give you the title, etc.

Thank you again for your encouragement.  I have so enjoyed sharing so much with you.

But for now . . .  enjoy reading the past blogs.

Lawson

May 20, 2015

Our New Home Town?

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

Over forty years ago we visited the site of what was to be our new home.  We would complete language school and move to our field of service. It was Limon, Costa Rica.  We were anxious to survey the place where we would live.  Our residency would be in Limon, but we would serve the surrounding bush country. So, soon after beginning language school we made a journey to the city of our future.

Limon had never had a resident missionary, although there was evangelical work in the area and travelling missionaries would give assistance to the developing work.  We had felt compelled to serve in this isolated and challenging place.

We  traveled from San Jose by way of a small gauge railroad.  The journey of 90 miles, as the crow flies,  would take approximately 9 hours.  It is a beautiful and unusual ride over the Continental Divide, down into the valleys,  along rivers, and through tunnels.  The railroad was out much of the time, however, because of landslides and flooding.  There was no road into Limon. It was a city isolated  from the rest of the country.

It was an exciting trip, but reality was faced when we got off the train.  Walking from the train station to the only hotel in town gave us a first impression.  Without a verbal word where the children would hear, I know that Judy and I  were saying, “This is our new home town?”  There was nothing that would draw someone to this place, except the will of God in your life.

The hotel was unpainted, needing repairs, and lacking in sanitation.  There were only 12 rooms, and you wondered who would ever use this hotel.  Limon was a port city and mariners from all over the world would stop here to load bananas and cacao (chocolate bean).  Thus, some of the men from the ships would use it from time to time.

Our room was on the beautiful Caribbean Sea.  There was no glass window, but simply shutters to close when it rained, and it rained 300 days out of 365 each year, at some part of the day!  The temperature was always over 100 degrees during the day.  There was no air-conditioning, obviously!  The water in the city was turned off at 5 p.m. each evening, even though we were advised not to drink it.  We brought water to  drink and brush our teeth.  Caution had to be used when eating, even though the hotel did serve meals with the room.

There were no locks on the doors.  As advised, we pushed the bed against the door for protection.  The linens were not fresh.  They stayed on the bed until they reached a condition where the hotel had no choice but to change them.  You can understand how we began to make adjustments in caring for two small children.  Our introduction to this city was not necessarily a beautiful fairy tale, or “Welcome to paradise!”

The next day as we walked around to acquaint ourselves with the city, and where we might find potential housing, we were confronted with the real plight of the city.  Horses and mules walked freely in the streets, meat was placed on the sidewalk by the vendors, with iguanas being the most prevalent.  There would be large sea turtles lying on their backs.  They were kept alive this way until it was time to slaughter them for the meat.

Degradation and poverty abounded.  Safety was a concern at night, especially weekends.  The men from the ships would spend their time around the city square.  Gambling tables were set up in the streets, and there was an openness of immorality everywhere!  There were fights, many times deadly.  Again, one begins to ask if this is a place to live and raise your children.  The inward response is that if God calls you here, He will sustain and protect you.

With all the negatives, there was still a peace and joy that we could live and serve here.  Changes began to come to the city.  A new hotel, called the New American Hotel, was built. Much of its purpose was to help draw tourists.  Plane flights began to come into the city daily, landing on the beach, and a new highway was built.  Much of the city changed–obviously for the good!

I believe every believer must follow the leadership of God, no matter where it takes you or requires of you.  As a young man, a quote from Lolete Dotson, long time missionary, has remained in my heart.  “The will of God will never lead you where the grace of God cannot keep you.”  That is a fitting theme for all of us, no matter what we do in our service to God or where we live!  Only following Him will we have peace and contentment in this life!  And we can be confident of His presence and care.

” . . . my grace is sufficient for you . . . .”  (2 Corinthians 12:9)  “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God.”  (Psalm 143:10)  “I desire to do your will, O my God.”  (Psalm 40:8)

Lawson

May 18, 2015

You Can’t Go Home Again!

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 7:00 am

Thomas Wolfe’s “You Can’t Go Home Again” brought mixed reviews in the 1940s.  People across America loved it — people in his hometown did not!

Wolfe’s novel talked of changing America.  He made the point that it is impossible to recapture what has changed.  Today, the expression “You can’t go home again” has become part of our American speech.  It means that after you have left a place, you cannot return to relive those youthful memories!

But I will say, “I can try!”  And that I did!  Oh, I have returned several times to those places of my youth.  But this tour seemed to have more significant meaning.  Perhaps as we get older, we want to make “one more” journey to those places filled with so many memories.  And so on this trip, we simply went to the places of my childhood and youth.  Names may not mean much to many of my readers, but there will be many that recognize locations such as Stone Mountain, Clarkston, New Deal, Pine Lake, and Pea Ridge.  There are other names, but the very names suggest special places.

Stone Mountain had changed even more since my last visit.  But there was a “feeling” as I would stand in those ancient places!  The big house at the top of Main Street where I grew up is no longer there — nor the small house built in back.  The entire place is now a funeral home and parking lot.  The old schools are not there — but the old rock gym stands as a historical site!  I tried to remember the route of the streetcar as it came to town.  I would point to a high stone wall where I remember jumping down on a bully after school!  I saw where families lived for generations — the houses were not as large as they seemed when I was a boy.  I can not bring back those days — but my memory cannot forget.

It was on to Clarkston — the days of my youth.  The large family store that had stood for years is a used car lot today.  I sat and remembered the Jolly’s General store. It was a large building, but later petitioned to provide for Dr. Flower’s Drugstore, the Post Office, later replaced by Gibson’s Radio and Television.  The family home has been replaced by a business; the bridge is no longer over Peachtree Creek; and the land and homestead of my grandparents has been replaced by hundreds of apartments.  Oh, the changes!

Names of streets and roads had not changed however.  So many still bear our family names  —  Jolly Street, Jolly Road, Lovejoy, Hairston, and others.  I would point out places — there is where my first sweetheart lived, there is where I got beat up after school one day, and there is where so-and-so lived, and on and on I would go!

Changes, changes, changes!  In the use of the term, it is true, “You can’t go home again.”  But nothing can erase what I have in my memory.  Most of the changes are disappointing . . . but the memories become more treasured each day.  I rejoice for a sound mind that can enjoy such memories.

But wait . . . !  I may be an  octogenarian . . . but I may still need to make another trip!

Lawson

May 16, 2015

What A Car!

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

You have probably seen the Presidential limousine on television . . . or perhaps in a parade you attended.  It is indeed a vehicle.  It should be . . . the cost new is 1.5 million dollars.

I have a friend who bought from the government one of the Presidential limousines when it was “retired.”  I can tell you it is like no other car!  Sitting in the backseat, you feel you are in a tank!  It has armor plating . . . and a radar system. This radar system, with a visual monitor, will warn you and identify someone walking up to the vehicle.  It has a night vision system and what is called ‘run-flat’ tires.

My friend’s limousine had been stripped of many things such as an advanced communication system and defense counter-measures —  which are classified, and I don’t know what they were.  Yet, I still felt so secure sitting in this vehicle.  I can only imagine the limousine of 2015.

I can tell you that the present President’s limousine has all these features of my friends, and much, much more.  Because of the world in which we live, much has been improved and added.  For instances, the armor plating is now 8 inches thick compared to 5 inches.  The bullet proof windows now have been increased to five-inches thick. The present vehicle is now even protected against biochemical attacks, with the trunk containing a blood bank of the President’s blood type, and an oxygen supply.

And there are yet other features that are classified.  It is understandable the cost of such a vehicle.  To say the least, I was overwhelmed with this limousine of several years ago.  And to know the additions added today leaves me almost without comprehension.

But why a blog about the Presidential limousine?  As I reflected on my friend’s car and the present Presidential limousine, I realized that such a safe and secure vehicle speaks of just that – safety, protection, and security.  And then suddenly I said to myself, “Isn’t that what all of us desire?

Yes, it is!  But we know that we may hide at times in such a limousine . . . or a bunker . . . or even hide our head under the covers believing that nothing will hurt us.  I guess you could attempt to live in such a limousine, but there are sufficient armor-of-war that can destroy the vehicle! All reasonable people know there is utterly no place on this earth where we can always and forever be free of harm.

But, oh, there is a place of such security! Yet, it is not on this earth! I can confidently say that I have a place where I will never have to fear or worry about being harmed.    There will come a day when the fears of this world will never exist for me.  And that place will be that heavenly home.  There will be no dangers there.  Peace and security will be mine in that eternal place.

It is wonderful to live with such a hope!   “ . . . put your hope in God.”  (1 Timothy 6:7)

Lawson

 

 

May 14, 2015

Fiesty Lady

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

While my maternal grandmother was described as “true grit,” my other grandmother could be described as a feisty lady.  That she was indeed!  She was the lady in town who was called upon when something had to be accomplished. The word feisty well describes her.  She was indeed a lively, energetic, and aggressive lady.

She was a community activist to the highest degree.  She stayed informed of local needs, and she was always ready to address issues that called for change.  She was available also to launch new programs and organizations that would improve her city.

She lived to be 97 years of age, and continued her activities to that day.  She did not know reservations about facing the difficult.  She longed for challenges.  She could never accept the possibility of failure.  No matter the odds, she would face every mountain with the attitude that it would be conquered.

She founded the Cherokee Camp Fire Girls (forerunner of Girl Scouts) in 1915, the first chartered group in the State of Georgia.  She led these young ladies in making emergency flu masks for soldiers at Ft. Gordon, in sending money for relief work in France, and in adopting a French orphan.  She received her Girl Scout Leader’s Badge when she was 72 years of age.

Active in her church, working especially with children, she also found time to do Red Cross work during World War I.  Although she was busy in the community, she still found time to maintain her home, and especially take pride in her gardens.  The beautiful terraced gardens with brick walkways became her place of solitude.

Yet, none could ever be remembered more than she for her passion for education.  As a teacher before her marriage,  she had an iron will where education was concerned.  When she saw a need for a high school in the city, she approached the Board of Education with the request.  They told her one could be built if she raised the funds.   She called together three other people, and led in the raising of the needed construction monies.

She founded and became the first P.T.A. president in 1920.  She served on the Board of Education for the district for many years.  She regularly visited the schools throughout her life.  She was known by the students and faculty, and  she always had a word of challenge to each student to do their best.  During one financial crisis, she led a campaign to raise funds to pay the salaries of the teachers.

Her legacy will live on through the educational system.  When a new school was built in the late 1960s, it was named in her honor.  Her life was dedicated to a cause.  Her determination and will have certainly impacted countless lives.

Each of us should have a cause on which we can focus our energies.  I found mine in God’s Kingdom.  Have you found yours?

“It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good . . . .”  (Galatians 4:18)

Lawson

May 12, 2015

True Grit

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

I have long been a fan of John Wayne, the Duke!  And one of my favorite movies with him is  True Grit.  In the movie, John Wayne played Marshal Rooster Cogburn.  He is chosen to go after a gang (you, know, the usual western theme) because he has “true grit.”  The interpretation of the expression is he has genuine determination and courage.  He would not give up even in the face of adversity.

I have been blessed with a heritage of persons of true grit.  I saw modeled, in my youth, true grit from persons that I loved.  One of these special people was my maternal grandmother, known as MaMa to me.  Perhaps I did not see it from the same perspective as I do today, but she was the essence of true grit.  She was a person of determination and courage even in the face of difficulties.

My grandparents were persons of means.  My grandfather had owned the bank and the lumber yard.  They built a large home, with a smaller home on the property.  They lived at the top of the main street in town, and I assume, were considered  very affluent. Two of their children attended college, unusual in those days, and a younger daughter attended a high school in another city.   But all of this began to change.  The lumber yard burned, and the bank collapsed.  With no insurance in those days, my grandfather determined to repay every person that lost their deposits.  And that he did!  He became the warden of the county prison and began to rebuild their lives.  The houses had been built without any mortgage, which was a blessing, of course.  As the youngest daughter turned 16 years of age, my grandfather died suddenly.  Again, things were to change.

My MaMa, without financial resources other than the owned property, found herself in need of income.  Predating Social Security and without insurances proceeds, she proved her true grit.  She continued to live in the home at the top of the hill.  She raised chickens, milked cows, raised hogs, planted and worked a large garden.  Hard work was her style!  She had fruit trees from which she canned preserves of pears and peaches.  She canned vegetables to see her through the winter.

With all this endurance and determination, she never complained, nor did she withdraw from her church and community commitments.  She was respected for her leadership in women’s work through the church and for aiding those in need through quilting.  She sold Watkins products and traveled through the community to sell the products.  She  rented rooms, or a portion of the big house, from time to time.  The other home on the property that had been built with the same design as the larger home was rented.  She was extremely resourceful.

And with all the labors she extended to maintain her life and provide income, she still enjoyed the finer things of life.  Her rose garden was unequalled in town.  Her  flowers and ferns on the porch and in the yard were a beauty to behold by those who passed by.  Her clover-leaf shaped fish pond was constantly filled with beautiful goldfish.  She sought to maintain an impeccable yard and well-maintained shrubbery.  It seemed her passion in life was her Lord, her family, her friends, and her home. She was committed to allowing nothing to take away her joy of living!

If anyone could have ever been categorized by the expression of “true grit,” it would be my MaMa.  When others may have weakened, she lived a determined and courageous life, even in face of adversity.  There are many who, likewise, have shown true grit.  But, today, I honor my MaMa for her example and influence upon me.

She is the epitome of Proverbs 31.  Verse 31 sums in up well: “Give her the reward she has earned . . . .” 

Lawson

May 10, 2015

Mother’s Day

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 9:52 pm

Mother’s Day!  A day to honor mothers!

I am married to a mother!  She, of course, is my wife . . . my partner!  But above all, her role as a mother exceeds all!

She has touched thousands of lives through the years.  There are testimonies from so many people who share how she has influenced their lives.  It is that mother’s heart that has been expressed to so many.

But her influence on the world is enlarged through her own children. We are blessed with three special children, and her investment of love, care, and example has truly shaped their lives.  Through her children her influence continues to touch lives of individuals she may never know.  Certainly, this is one of the greatest evidences of a mother’s love and influence.

Those who know our children are aware of how they are touching lives!  Children reflect the spirit and example of their mother!  Of course, I am aware that all mothers strive . . . labor . . .,  yet some get their hearts broken.

With gratitude, our children responded to a mother’s teachings through example and communication.

Consider our oldest.  Losing her vision at age 15, yet touches lives around the world through her national events, author of 10 books,  composer, musician, singer, and inspirational speaker.

The oldest son.  Director of Counseling at a major university.  Seeking to give positive direction to young lives that will be influencing our society in the years to come.  And, the leader of a faith-based organization on campus.

The youngest son.  A U.S. Congressman with a commitment to change America with conservative values and ideals. A man of integrity and principle.

Children don’t just grow and develop without someone mentoring, shaping, and impacting their lives.  Here are three children . . . reflections of a mother.  Mothers have no competitors when it comes to influencing the world through their children.  A statesman, many years ago, said, “Give me a handful of mothers who are committed to the Lord, and we will change the world!”  Indeed, it is true!

And that is the secret!  ” . . . committed to the Lord . . . .”  It is the strength of the Lord that gives direction and wisdom in lives.  Godly mothers!  What this world needs!  I am blessed to be married to such a lady!  Her approach to motherhood is no secret.  It is obvious . . . her faith and dependence on God.  And God has honored her commitment.

May God bless all mothers today and everyday!

And may my wife and the mother of my children know how she is honored on this day!  For I honor My Love this day with gratitude that is beyond expression for the marvelous mother you are! I love you!

“Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.  Many women do noble things but you surpass them all. . . .  a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.  Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise . . .  .”  (Proverbs 31:28-31)

Lawson

May 9, 2015

Mother’s Influence

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 7:00 am

BreakingHomeTiesRockwellI have always been a fan of Norman Rockwell.  In fact, in a previous home, we had Rockwell painting on the stairwell.

My all-time favorite is this painting entitled “Breaking Home Ties.”  You can sense the story.  The son is leaving for college.  The father has brought him to the train stop.  The family dog has even come to say good-bye.

One question.  Where is the mother?  You would  believe she would want to be there to say good-bye.  But perhaps there are other responsibilities she had.  Perhaps there were younger children that needed to be cared for at home.  Or perhaps she preferred to say her good-bye at home.

But there is a mother!  And she is visible here in the painting.  You need a larger image to see her presence.  What does the son have in his hands?  A larger image would reveal a white linen napkin.  And in that napkin is a snack or sandwich for the son as he travels.

Ok, the father could have prepared it!  But no . . . it had to be the mother.  Why?  Again, if you could see a larger image, you would see that a ribbon is wrapped around the napkin.  And the color?  It is pink!  Now, who, other than a mother would wrap a lunch in a pink ribbon?  I tell you only a mother!

Mothers are always there!   Their influence overshadows all others!  You have heard some of the expressions: “If you are to reform the world from its vice and errors, begin by enlisting mothers.”  “The hand that rocks cradle, rules the world.”  I don’t know where those statements come from, but they have been around all my life.

Lord Shaftesbury said, “Give me a generation of Christian mothers and I will undertake to change the whole face of society in twelve months.”

Mothers have no serious rivals in molding and shaping a child.  Consider the attention a mother gives to the physical welfare of a child.  That is what the mother in this painting was doing.  She was concerned about nourishment for the son as he travelled.

And mothers are the primary person in a child’s spiritual development.  Most children are in the faith today because of a mother.

All of this sums up why we honor mothers on a special day!  A father certainly gives support to the influence of the mother.  And every child is doubly blessed where both parents are partners in the influence.

But for this special day in May, let us praise and honor mothers!

Lawson

May 8, 2015

59 Years Ago!

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 6:00 am

59 years ago I was 21 years old!

59 years ago I was a pinsetter at the bowling alley!

59 years ago I owned no car!

59 years ago I tried to save a man in a flood!

59 years ago I failed a college course (Bible)!

59 years ago I said ‘no’ to God!

59 years ago I said ‘yes’ to God!

Yes . . . 59 years ago this Mother’s Day I surrendered to the call of God after a fierce struggle within my life!  I did not want to give up my plans for my life!  My rebellious attitude was the reason for anger and misery.  My rebellious attitude toward the call was the reason for failing the college course!

But it all changed that night when I got on my knees and said ‘yes’ to God!  I gave up and yielded to whatever God wanted from me.  And the journey began!

Yes, 59 years ago I began my public ministry.

Immediately after surrendering to God’s call to minister, I was asked to preach!  Without any experience or ‘know-how’ I stood in a pulpit the following week.  That began a public ministry that now has reached 59 years!

Immediately I formed a youth revival team!!  With the immediate opportunities that came to preach, I understood God was confirming that He had called me.

I must share an interesting experience that occurred within the first few weeks.  I was invited to preach at an African-American church.  The church had received the morning offering.  Then I preached.

Following the sermon, the pastor indicated it was time for another offering.  As the ushers received the offering, the pastor sat down beside me.  He patted me on the leg and said that it was now time for another sermon.

What?  Another sermon?  But I only had that one sermon!  I did have some notes in my Bible in preparation for another sermon, but it was not ready to preach.  But . . . it would have to do!  So the best I could . . . I gave another sermon.

When I concluded . . . same scenario!  I sat down . . . another offering was taken!  I almost panicked!  Will they ask me to keep preaching until they get enough offering?  Fortunately, the pastor did not pat me on the leg this time.  Perhaps they were motivated to give so I would not preach again!

These 59 years have been filled with such wonderful memories.  Unless you are one that has had the joy of the pastoral ministry . . . you could never understand what the call of God over your life can mean.  It brings a more fulfilled life than one can ever have through his own planning.

And all my dreams of becoming a soldier of fortune?   Well, the adventure part has come true.  I have walked in those dense jungles, gone down rivers in dugout canoes, climbed to the top of volcanos, entered villages where they had never seen a white man and wanted to touch my skin to see what it felt like, sat in the high places in the Orient, been a guest in the Oval Office and the White House, and, well . . . you see the adventures that have come because I surrendered to God’s call.

53 years ago, God gave me a life partner in this call.  Without the wife God gave me, the churches, ministries, and missions could never have brought the joy and satisfaction that I feel.  God knew exactly the person I needed in my life to bring completion and purpose.  Again, God blesses the “called” with so much more than one can ever make, arrange,  or accomplish on his own.

59 years . . .  and still counting!  And God still gives me opportunities to preach and minister.  It will not be over until the next call comes . . . the call to the heavenly home.  On my desk, I have a statement that Dr. B.H. Carroll gave to the ‘preacher boys’ at Baylor University:  “Preach the Word ‘til God calls you Home.” 

Yes sir . . . that is my commitment!

“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.”  (Proverbs 16:9)

Lawson

May 6, 2015

Good Comes From A Storm

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

Our family has weathered many hurricanes.  Sometimes we evacuated.  Other times we rode out the storm.  We have spent weeks following hurricanes in cleaning up and repairing.  We have seen some things in the neighborhood change forever.  We have seen the devastation that comes.  I would need to think long and hard to find some good thing that has come from such severe storms.  Oh, it will bring neighbors  closer together as they work together to aid one another.  And then . . . many bugs and pests do not survive!

But let me lead your thinking toward personal storms that occur in our lives . . . sickness, financial loss, loss of a loved one or friend, divorce, a conflict on the job, at school,  with a neighbor, or even with a family member.

There are circumstances that come into our lives that are beyond our control.  We feel we are in the middle or a storm.  We struggle to survive, make sense of the situation, and even seek help sometimes.

All of us know such storms.  We wonder why.  We so expect heartbreak, defeat, and alteration to our life that we seldom see that some good can come from any storm.  I don’t take the storms lightly or want them to come, but each of us needs a perspective that something good may come from this storm.  Again, this is not wanting storms to come . . . but discovering that once through the storm, we are impacted by a positive that we may have never discovered.

I remember a story about a moth in laboratory.  As it was observed daily by a scientist, on a certain day he saw the cocoon shaking.  He realized that the moth was struggling to break out of the cocoon.  To aid the moth, the scientist made a small incision in the cocoon to make it easier for the moth to break out.

Soon the beautiful butterfly emerged.  As the butterfly was observed, the realization came that the butterfly could not fly.  After further research, it was learned that the butterfly could not fly because it had not developed the strength needed to fly.  The process of struggling to break out had been denied because of the incision that had been made.  For the butterfly, the struggle was necessary.

Many times we question why God will allow storms to come into our lives.  After all, if He truly loves us, why would He not spare us the struggles that storms bring into out lives?

I believe one of the worst things God could do would be to deliver us from all storms.  It is from such storms that we can learn so much . . . and become so much stronger to face the tomorrows and future storms.

I am convinced we are always better after we come through a storm,  We may come through scarred and deprived of some things or person, but yet there is something we personally gain.

Read in Scripture, Mark 6:45-52 and John 6:16-21 where the disciples were in a literal storm.  Think of your personal storm.  And realize the presence of Christ the Lord.  And when the storm passed the disciples discovered they were not alone . . . !  They saw the power of Christ . . . !  And they certainly learned much about themselves and their faith!

You can make it through your storm!  He is with you!  And you will know Him so much better and intimately when your storm passes over!

Lawson

May 4, 2015

Try Something New

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 6:00 am

Watching a soccer game on television brought back some memories.

Soccer was not a sport known during my youth.  Once I saw it, I was fascinated by the game. I first saw it played by German prisoners when my Dad was stationed at Fort Knox, Kentucky, during World War II.  But I thought little more of it back at home.  No one I knew was playing soccer.  It was a foreign sport!  But in later years, in a foreign land, I got my opportunity!

At 36 years of age when we lived in Costa Rica, I took up the game of soccer — known as football there!  And it is truly a foot game!  But, at my age?  Attempting to play soccer?  Yes, along with a Chinese man who was in his early 30s.  All the others were much younger!

I have always been interested in new challenges.  This was indeed a challenge.  It was fun . . . and I felt I held my own pretty well, especially when I was the ‘old man’ of the group.

However, after a few games, my soccer career came to a halt.  You can read about the injury in a previous blog.  (www.lawsonjolly.com/2010/08/13)  Though my playing of the game ended . . . I had the joy of trying something new.

I think that is important throughout our life.  We should always be open to trying something new, no matter our age.

Grandma Moses is a marvelous example.  A hard worker on the farm and raising a family, she still found time to embroider pictures and quilt objects.  She had an artistic eye and created scenes of landscapes and objects that reminded people of the simple life.

At the age of 76 she found that her arthritis was so bad that she could not continue with this hobby.  A family member suggested that she might try painting as it would perhaps not be as painful to hold the brush.  She had enjoyed painting as a child and decided to try painting scenery that she had embroidered in the past.

At the age of 78 she became serious in her painting . . . and the world knows she is among the most renowned artists.

She could have given up and decided she could do very little at her age, but no, she was ready to try something new.  And, oh, the joy she found in this new endeavor.

I repeat, I believe this is important throughout our life.  We should never stop learning or trying something new.  Has there been something where you have remarked, “I ought to try that?”  Then why not resolve to try it?  It is not too late!

You will find joy . . . you will be blessed . . . !

Lawson

May 2, 2015

Hiding Your Money

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

I can remember as a boy hiding money.  From a tree I would pace off so many steps and dig a hole to bury the money.  It might be in an old can or even an old Mason jar.  Other times it would be hidden under the mattress or at the back of a drawer.

My mother had a special place.  But the family knew where!  We had a set of encyclopedias in the secretary.  She chose a certain book and she would hide money there.  Of course, at her passing, we all wanted to inherit the books!

Most people have been known to hide money at times. I am not talking about large sums, but just some of that money to save for a rainy day! Where do you hide yours?  Some people tape money to the back of a picture hanging on the wall.  Some tape money under a drawer.  Some hide money in places I have not even thought of.  And, of course, some have a safe and they attempt to disguise or hide the safe!

But I share a story . . . and it is a true story.  I will not reveal the person, the place, or even the year.  I withhold all that information to protect the guilty!

I was visiting a lady in our church.  During the visit she said that she should do more for the church in the matter of money.  I responded to her that I was sure of  faithfulness in giving.  I felt confident that she was a faithful tither and beyond in her giving.

She responded with repeating, “But I can do more and I should.”

Then she told me a story.  Years before, she and her husband had bought some property in another area of the state.  Several years after the death of her husband, she was approached  by a national realty company about the property.  They made an offer that she said was unbelievable.

She sold the property, and soon discovered that it became property on which was developed a national attraction and resort area.  She then understood why the offering price was so large.

She then told me that she did not put the money in the bank.  Over a period of time, she converted the money into cash and brought it home and hid it.  At that point I was really curious where the money was hidden.  She never told me the amount, but by now I realized that we were talking an amount beyond comprehension!

I then had to ask.  “Where have you hidden it?”

She pointed to the wall.  “It’s there.”

All I saw was the wall and beautiful floral wallpaper.  “Where,” I asked?

“Behind the wallpaper,” she responded.  “I put it there and then wallpapered it myself.”

You can imagine how I reacted.  I realized that this extremely large sum of money was all behind the wallpaper.  I tried to express my concern about it.  I suggested she should do something with it where it would be safe.  She responded by saying she did not trust banks, and she did not need to invest it since it was more money than she would ever need.

“Does anyone else know about this,” I asked?  I knew her daughter as she and her family were members of the church.

She indicated that no one else knew this . . . not even her daughter.  She was telling me only to indicate that she could do more for the church.  But I suddenly felt a responsibility. I tried to tell her the loss it would be if there was a fire, or if she should die and no one knew.  Her daughter would not be able to inherit it, etc.  And if the house sold and new owners decided to put up new wallpaper . . . just imagine the find!

She then responded, “I guess I should tell my daughter.”

My response was a firm yes, and that if she did not tell the daughter, I would.  I did not want such knowledge and responsibility to be mine alone.  She did not say she would tell the daughter, but only that she should.  I know she did not tell the daughter in the next several weeks or the daughter would have spoken with me.  Since she did not tell the daughter . . . I did!

I do not know the final disposition of this matter.  It was not any of my business from that point of telling the daughter.  Perhaps the money is still there!  But knowing the lady has died, I know that the daughter has probably made other arrangements for the ‘hiding’ of the money.

But before we judge or criticize this lady, perhaps many of us are hiding a treasure that should be available to God’s work.  It was true that this lady could have made a real contribution to the Kingdom of God with such resources that were simply hidden away.

God gifted you with treasures.  They are most often called talents and abilities.  Teaching, singing, encouraging, serving, and a host of other abilities that you have that can make a difference in the ministry of your church and in many lives.  Don’t hide your treasure . . . invest it . . . whether it is earthly treasures or personal gifts/abilities given you by God.

Jesus can say it much better than I. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  (Matthew 6:19-21)

And if you are interested.  Read in your Bible, Matthew 25:14-30.  This is a story Jesus told to help us understand we are to use our abilities—not just to hide them.  If we don’t use what has been given us, we could lose them.  If not careful the treasures may not be there one day.

Lawson

May 1, 2015

Apology

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

For those of you who receive my blogs by email, I apologize on the recent confusion of blogs and dates.  I know some have already received the blog for Mother’s Day . . . and received This Old House only minutes after it was drafted.  You may or may not get a repeat.

The computer took control the other night and sent these out in advance.  I cannot explain what happened.  But I do apologize for the confusion.  Don’t give up on me . . . please continue to follow my blogs.  I appreciate you.

Lawson

 

April 30, 2015

This Old House

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

As old men do . . . I was reminiscing!  I was remembering the house where I grew up.  It may have been prompted by the song, This Old House.  A couple of lines from it triggered so many thoughts.  “This old house was home and shelter as we fought the storms of life.  This old house once rang with laughter; This old house heard many shouts.”  And did it ever!

It was a big house!  It was at the top of the hill on Main Street, one block from the village of Stone Mountain.  It had been built before 1900 by my grandfather.  It was still occupied by my grandmother, and my parents had moved in with her when they married.  It was the only house I knew until we moved when I was in the seventh grade.

I have such memories . . . and all good.  It had ten rooms with a wide hall running the full length of the house with a swinging glass door to provide privacy to the back section of the house.  There was also a large wrap-around front porch.  There were columns that rested on large pieces of granite taken from nearby Stone Mountain.  In fact you could sit on the front porch and see the mountain.

There were fire places in four of the rooms, with stoves in the other rooms. The back door opened onto a large porch that accommodated a well.  Although there was a well in the back yard, water used in the house was drawn from the porch well.  The well was used very little in my day because ‘running’ water was now available.  When the house was constructed plans were made for ‘running’ water when it would be available.  In the central part of the house was a room built to become the bath when ‘running’ water was available.  When that day came a tub, commode, and sink were installed.  There was no hot water, however.  The only time there was hot water was on Saturday. There was a water heater with pipes connected to a wood stove where the water would circulate and be stored in the water heater.

The back porch floor slanted toward the outside screen so that any water from the well that might spill, or the overflow from the pan under the ice box that caught the melted ice would simply run on the floor to the outside.  The iceman came every day to deliver ice.  There was another floor that was slanted.  It was what had been the sun room.  It had windows across and with the slanted floor a person could better catch the rays of the sun.  Of course, by the time I came along, this room had become a second kitchen.

There was a second entrance to the house from the side porch.  It was the area of the house where we lived.  There was a large room that served as a living and dining room.  Then it opened to the sun room with the slanted floor.  This was our kitchen and eating area.  I remember well that the table slanted.  I always wanted to be on the “up-side” of the table for fear someone would spill something and it would land in my lap!

There was access from our area to the large hallway where we could access the bath, plus reach the stairwell that would lead to the second floor where the bedrooms were located.

The house had a basement, accessible from the outside.  In previous blogs I have related how my grandfather furnished this area to house families of prisoners that had no home or income while the husband and father was in prison.  There was also a garage, without a door, under the house.

The backyard was terraced down to a smaller house, built in style and color to the larger house.  Family members lived there through the graciousness of my grandmother.  There was also a large barn on the property, and a pasture for cows.  Chicken pens were located in two areas, as well as a place for hogs, two large gardens, all varieties of fruit trees — pomegranates, fig, peach, pear, mulberry, crabapple, walnuts, and pecans. There were several rose gardens. Also we had a large goldfish pond in the shape of a four-leaf clover.  There was a flower pit on the side of the house.  It had a glass front to provide sunlight to the flowers that were stored here during the winter. It was a remarkable place when you consider it was only one block to downtown.  It was total country . . . but considered being in-town!

For any visitors to Stone Mountain, GA, one can see the property which is now occupied by a local funeral home.

Yes, I have so enjoyed remembering this wonderful house . . . the neighborhood . . . and those boyhood days! What I must remember and am thankful for is more that the house.  I recall well a home . . . a home with stability . . . and a loving family.

I imagine you are now beginning to reminisce also.  Do so . . . and enjoy!

Lawson

April 28, 2015

What Price Would I Pay?

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

History records the persecution that early Christians endured.  Many fled their homes and lived in caves.  Many were imprisoned.  Many were tortured and publicly displayed.  Some were beheaded, sawed in half, dragged to death behind horses, and many other methods that need not be described.  These Christians paid that price because they would not recant or deny their faith in Jesus Christ.

Down through the centuries there are stories of persecutions.  As one studies history and moves more to our day, the price might not be as severe, but there are still those who are suffering for their faith.

My forebearers made decisions to stand for their faith.  My direct line, on my maternal side, can be documented to Scotland as early as 880 A.D.  The family was the principal possessor of the Isle of Bute, near Glasgow.

The family were Covenanters.  The Covenanters were a movement that promoted presbyterianism as a form of church government.  This is a congregational government where the people in the church make decisions.  The Covenanters opposed the episcopacy form of church government, which was favored and pressured upon the church by the Scottish government.  The episcopacy form called for bishops which were, in reality, controlled by the Scottish crown.

These Covenanters were persecuted.  Many succumbed to the pressure and relinquished their opposition.  There were some who felt  strongly that the church must be controlled by Jesus Christ, rather than government.  These dissenters were sought to stand trial.  Among these were four brothers, one of whom is my sixth great-grandfather.

In 1666, these four brothers escaped Scotland in a blinding snow storm, fleeing in an open boat to the northern coast of Ireland.  They understood that leaving Scotland, they were forfeiting all their lands and possessions.  In the next few years that followed, they met and married Scottish lasses who escaped with their families from Scotland.

However, the Irish, strong Catholics, were not totally accepting of the Scots.  They viewed the Covenanters as heathen and did not allow  intermingling among the people.  The Covenanters forged ahead with their faith, and by the 18th century had built several churches.  However, soon many of the ministers, who would not succumb to pressure, were forced out of their pulpits and threatened.

This persecution came as a result of Ireland being under the control of the English crown and an attempt by the English to stamp out Catholicism in Ireland in favor of establishing the Church of England.  The English saw the Covenanters as a threat like the Catholics, and so these Presbyterians, as they were now called, suffered also.

My family left Ireland during this era and came to America.  They settled in  Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, in an area which is now Cumberland County.   Spotsylvania, today, was the original  settlement of my ancestors.  It is noted that almost every generation of the family produced a minister.  (Interesting sidebar:  Almost 250 years later, I would be privileged to preach two revivals in the oldest Baptist church in that state, located in Lancaster County.)

You might not be interested in this family history, but I used it to ask myself the question,  “What price would I pay for my faith?”  I must seriously consider how I would stand against persecution, especially to the point of giving up all my possessions.  Would I truly surrender my life in the face of death?  It is so easy to say the words of faithfulness.  It can be something different at the moment of trial!  Simon Peter said to Christ that he would never deny or turn away.  Yet, we know he backed away!

May God grant that it will not come to such a test for any of us.  Yet, there are believers in other lands, today, who are facing such decisions!  As we pray for them, may we be committed to such faithfulness!

“In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”  (2 Timothy 3:12)  “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”  (Matthew 5:10-12)

Lawson

April 26, 2015

Noblesse Oblige

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

The progenitor of my wife’s family in America is Claude Phillipe de Richebourg.  He was born of nobility in France in the 1600s.  He exemplifies the spirit of the immigrants who came to America seeking religious freedom.

He was a minister in the French Huguenot church.  The Catholic monarchy did not allow individual thought on religious matters and they began to persecute the Huguenots — who were Protestant.  The persecution escalated until in a period of three weeks, 50,000 Huguenots were slain.  Non-Catholic churches were destroyed.

As Huguenots began to flee France, those who were caught were sent to the galleys or to prison.  Yet, many were able to escape to other countries.  Claude Phillipe de Richebourg and his wife were among those who were able to flee to England.   However, as he left France he openly denounced his loyalty to the king.  He stated his reason.  “I have to live and serve God according to the dictates of my heart.”  God had called him into ministry and he felt keenly that he must interpret the Bible to every man.

He and his wife arrived in Virginia in October, 1700.  Soon they migrated to North Carolina and on to South Carolina.  In South Carolina he established a French Huguenot church at Jamestown on the Santee River.  Even with Indian uprisings and many dangers, he kept faithful to his post at the church.

Next to Charleston, the settlement at Jamestown was the largest of the Huguenots.  Pressure came from the Church of England through the English authorities who governed this territory.  The Anglican church insisted that all religious services — regardless of heritage or language — must be held in English.  Richebourg persisted in preaching in French.  He felt a strong obligation to provide spiritual training, encouragement, and worship in the language of the people in this large Huguenot settlement.  This had been the reason for leaving France.  He felt obligated to minister to the French speaking people in their native language.

His continuation of ministry in the language of the people angered the Anglican church.  He was threatened to be removed from the church unless he desisted.  This pastor was told to forsake the way of the Huguenots and adopt the polity, theology, and practice of the Anglican church.  He seemingly acknowledged a willingness, but he was committed to his convictions and he continued his services in French.

When patience was exhausted by the governing authorities, soldiers were sent to stand at the church door with crossed swords to prevent anyone from entering.  Claude Phillipe de Richebourg stood his ground with his conviction and commitment.  He was determined to have a ministry for the people.  He is a testimony to noblesse oblige.

Noblesse oblige is originally a French term that means those of nobility or responsibility have an obligation to do what is expected.  Today, more figuratively, the term refers to the fact that one must act in a way that conforms to one’s position and with the reputation that one has earned.  This French pastor was committed to maintain his reputation of providing spiritually for people in their own language.  As a pastor, he felt that he had a obligation because of the call of God upon his life.

We will not find the term noblesse oblige in the Bible — but it is a teaching of Christ.  Scripture is packed with references of “being consistent in living if we claim to be a Christian.”  Believers have a obligation to be what they say they are.  We cannot risk backing down in difficult situations.  We must not be intimidated.  We must walk the walk!  At whatever price!

“Whoever has my commandments and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.” (John 14:21)

Lawson

April 24, 2015

Cast Netting

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

Fishing, hunting, and camping were always a big part of my early life.  There was a hiatus during some of the years as a young adult, but it was strongly renewed when I married into an “old Florida” family.    Judy’s dad was an avid fisherman and hunter.  He was an outdoorsman from the old school.  His methods exhibited a discipline of many years, and  his techniques proved his skills.

My confirmation of these disciplines in his life came when he introduced me to cast netting for mullet.  He was the best ever at frying mullet.  His recipe for mullet and hushpuppies remain in the family.  Even before we married, I always looked forward to mullet dinners at their home.  Of course, the only mullet he would fry would be those he had caught and prepared himself.

Catching the mullet was with a cast net.  At some point, I wanted to learn the art of cast netting.  He was more than willing to become my instructor.  In fact, I believe it helped in his accepting the “preacher” into the family.

My lessons began easy enough.  In the driveway, he demonstrated the art of throwing the cast net.  Kindly, he showed his patience as I began to practice.  I never knew until years later than some people throw a cast net differently from him.  But I, the novice, had no doubt that this was the best and only way to throw a cast net.  The most interesting part was when I had to hold an edge of the net in my teeth, and release the net at the exact moment.  After some practice, he decided we were ready for a trip to the water.

I wondered about this first trip . . . what a good opportunity to save his daughter from me.  But I knew he loved his daughter, and he would not have wanted to return and tell her, “I don’t know what happened, he just went under!”  I believe he did pick the most difficult place for my first experience.

Remember, he was “old school” with his defined methods.  We went after dark.  We did not go to a pier, or out in a boat.  Oh, no, we waded into the intracoastal waterway among mangroves  and debris.  We could not see a thing.  I began to wonder what was swimming around my legs.  But this was my father-in-law, and I must be strong and confident! You soon learn the sound of the mullet and the moving of the water even when you cannot see anything.

As I began to lift the net above the water, I realized this was not the same as the driveway, or being on a pier.  We were in chest-deep water, and I had to hold the net high.  But after a couple of throws, I realized I could do it.  Yet, the weight of the net became a factor.  This was a cotton net, not like the synthetic fibers of today, mainly nylon and monofilament that are much lighter.  A wet cotton net that will spread some ten or twelve feet can become very heavy.  In fact, it can be exhausting.  And you get a fresh taste of salt water everytime you grip part of that net in your mouth!

As we began to catch some mullet, he then gave me more instructions.  “Before emptying the net, grab them one by one and break their necks.”  This would cause the blood-letting that would take away a strong taste when cooked.  Again, this was his discipline and a method that not all practiced.  But I know now that is why his mullet were always better than any others that I might eat!

After this first trip, cast netting became an exciting adventure for me.  But I must confess, I found that I could catch mullet in the  daytime, and in much easier places to wade!

Cast netting has been around for thousands of years.  For those Bible students, recall Matthew 4:18.  Jesus saw Peter and Andrew “casting a net.”  The original language is for a type net that is thrown from over the shoulder.  Lest someone questions that this is the cast net to which I have referred, verse 21 in that chapter records Jesus saw James and John in the boat preparing their nets.  The original language for nets in this verse is to describe a net of any kind.  Probably the reference here is to a drag net from a boat.  My point is simply that cast netting has been an art from early times.

Jesus called these men to leave their nets and become fishermen of men.  That is a task to which every believer is called.  Much like my learning to cast net, we must all be instructed and taught.  Our methods may vary.  Our techniques may differ from each other.  Yet, we must be “fishermen” of men.

There are many opportunities for training and learning.  All methods can strengthen our efforts, but it is not required that you have any formal training through memorization, lectures, demonstrations, and seminars.  If you have had an experience of salvation, all you have to do to be a fisherman is to simply tell your experience and what Christ has done in your life.

Your confidence in sharing your faith should be sufficient when you know that your instructor is Jesus Christ.  He will give you the words and approach if you trust Him to do so.  He promised to be the One that would teach us be a fisherman!

“Jesus said, ‘Come follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.’”  (Matthew 4:19)

Lawson

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