Living Happy in a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

Living in a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

I remember the movie as a kid on the Friday night late show – WCTV Tallahassee – “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.” I was a toddler and Lisa was a newborn when it hit the silver screen in 1963, so we kind of missed that premiere. But I caught it in serendipitous snippets over the years, before TCM, Netflix, and the like made it available on-demand. The cast was an endless line of Hollywood who’s who in mid-twentieth century comedy. Couldn’t assemble a comedy crew like that today. It would cost too much and they don’t exist. The story line was basic: a bunch of interesting characters race cross-country in pursuit of stolen money. The laughs were gut wrenchers if silly was your thing. Tell a good story, let funny people be funny, don’t take it all too seriously and you just have a little fun. And learn a little about the best and worst of human nature.

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Turning the Page

I couldn’t resist taking one more picture of our Georgia home as we closed it up and prepared to hand the keys – and mortgage – to its new owners. The sun was setting over the meadow beyond the second-floor veranda; a fitting metaphor. We had pulled out of that neighborhood to begin our new sunshine laden life in the spring. We didn’t expect it to feel like spring again when we finally sold the home place, but it did. A Delta pilot and his about to be bride got a great deal on our home, and we hope they feel as blessed and as happy as we did on Overlook Pass Road. The look in her eyes told us they probably will.

It was a weekend with several lines on the agenda. We signed our part of the closing documents – theirs took place about the time I was teaching Wednesday night. Afterward, Lisa insisted we celebrate by climbing Stone Mountain to survey the landscape of our life for the better part of two decades. We spent Saturday afternoon greeting friends and celebrating the impending birth of the baby girl Jordan and Anna have prayed and prepared for for so long. I spent that morning with my former staff and deacons and then we managed to hit all three worship services on Sunday. Lisa was glad to finally hear some good preaching from my friend Greg DeLoach. After hugging a few hundred necks we ate fried chicken prepared with love by our friends at Milo’s, just as we did on our so-long Sunday last March. Pretty full four days.

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Ministry of Presence

Often the most significant ministries of the church are quiet ones, reflective of the personality and spirit of the one carrying them out. Like an Olympic diver, the best attempts to serve are the ones that make the least amount of splash. Some folks never get that, and others just come by it naturally. Today, I want to point to one of those.

Three weeks ago, a series of tornadoes ripped a path through Southwest Georgia. That area was near my family home, and one of the hardest-hit sites was Albany, where we lived and served for nearly eight years. When disaster comes, two of the first groups to show up ready to help are the Red Cross and Disaster Relief workers from Baptist churches around the country. Our very own Kelvin Foster is a chaplain affiliated with both and was deployed for the better part of two weeks. On his Facebook page he posted pictures of the destruction with the simple phrase “no words.” Yesterday I talked with a friend delivering loads of supplies to the region. He said the same things. You just can’t capture the breadth and depth of the carnage of property, communities, lives, and families. But what you can do is come along beside it, roll up your sleeves, and offer what help you can. That’s what Kelvin did.

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Good Things

In the course of a given week, a lot of good things happen around here. Some are obvious and easy to see. Others are more subtle, less noticeable, but just as significant. Let me paint you a couple of pictures to illustrate what I’m talking about.

First, wasn’t it a wonderful Sunday with Gary Chapman as our special guest? It’s not everyday that a church gets to host someone who has influenced literally millions of lives and families. He does a magnificent job of bringing healthy family models under the umbrella of God’s ideal for sacred relationships. I am grateful that we were able to secure his presence with us during his west Florida fling. And I loved his message that challenged us to be intentional with the most important relationships in our lives. “The Family You’ve Always Wanted” is not just a book title, it is a worthy and attainable quest that God both honors and helps.

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