Great is Thy faithfulness

Scripture Reading: Lamentations 3:19-23
I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

The author of the book of Lamentations is uncertain, although many ancient Jewish and early Christian traditions ascribe it to Jeremiah. Jeremiah has been called the “weeping prophet” because he so often would express the anguish of his spirit. Jeremiah was a prophet of doom and not surprisingly he only attracted a few close followers. God commanded Jeremiah to not marry and raise children because the Lord was going to soon send a divine judgment upon Judah that would sweep away the next generation.

Lamentations is not the only OT book that contains individual or community laments. (A large number of the Psalms are lament poems, and every prophetic book except Haggai includes one or more examples of the lament genre.) Lamentation is the only book, however, that consists solely of laments.

The book of Lamentations mournfully expresses the people’s overwhelming sense of loss that accompanied the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple as well as the exile of Judah’s inhabitants from the land that God had covenanted to give Israel as a permanent national homeland.

In 1923, Thomas Chisolm wrote one of the greatest modern hymns about the faithfulness of God from this text in Lamentations. In the first stanza he writes about the character of God and how it does not change. God is compassionate and that compassion will last into eternity. In stanza two he writes about God’s faithfulness in maintaining the order of the universe. In stanza three he writes of God’s faithfulness in forgiving our sins and providing strength for today and hope for tomorrow. Each stanza leads to the great culminating chorus that declares the victorious words of Jeremiah, “Great is Thy faithfulness.”

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God, my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above;
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Pardon for sin And a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today And bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine, With ten thousand beside.

Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.

Prayer: Our heavenly Father, as your followers we know Lord that you love us. We believe that you watch over our lives and that you guard us each and every day. Help us to remember that your love is unfailing and your compassion is everlasting. Give us the strength and the hope to arise every morning remembering how great your faithfulness is to each one of us. In spite of what the previous day has brought into our lives, we awake with a new hope, a hope for a better and brighter day. And we have the promise that you are there Lord and that your compassion upon us will never fail. Amen.

Sources used:
NIV Study Bible Zondervan
Dailyencouragement.net

The Temptation to be Spectacular

Scripture Reading
Luke 4:9-13

The devil led Jesus to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. For it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’
Jesus answered, “It says: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ”
When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.

Jesus, after being baptized in the Jordan, was led by the Spirit into the desert. It was there that Jesus was to stay for forty days and be temped by the devil. Luke tells us that Jesus did not eat during those forty days and at the end of those forty days he was hungry. So the first temptation that the devil gives Jesus is to turn a stone into bread. Jesus is hungry and the temptation to turn that stone into bread would seem like a difficult temptation to turn away from. Jesus quotes scripture to his tempter and refuses to succumb to temptation.

The devil then tempts Jesus by telling him that he will give him all the kingdoms of the world if Jesus will worship him. And to that enticement Jesus replies, “Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.”

The last temptation was for Jesus to throw himself down from the highest point of the temple. Jesus refused to test God’s faithfulness by again quoting scripture to the evil one. The devil was tempting Jesus to do something that would attract a lot of public attention in a very dramatic way. I believe that one of our greatest temptations in the church today, is the temptation to attract attention to ourselves instead of giving it to God.

Henri Nouwen in his book, In the Name of Jesus, calls this the temptation to be spectacular. This type of temptation causes the individual to attract attention to themselves in order to draw praise and applause from their audience. Nouwen says that “stardom and individual heroism, which are such obvious aspects of our competitive society, are not at all alien to the church. There too the dominant image is that of the self-made man or woman who can do it all alone.”

The evil one is hard at work tempting us in the worldwide church today. We desire to be noticed, praised, and respected for our good works and deeds. It is a desire to be relevant and to accomplish things on our own. Jesus rejected this temptation and as followers of Christ we must reject this temptation also.

Nouwen writes that, “in today’s church, it is easy to see the prevalence of individualism among ministers and priests.” That would also apply to not only our ministers but our Sunday school teachers, committee leaders, deacons, etc. We believe that we should be able to do everything well and that it can best be done on our own. We feel that we alone can write inspiring sermons, have standing room only in our Sunday school classes, and lead committees and deacon boards to accomplish great things. This is the temptation to be spectacular, to go our own away.

Jesus did not come to this earth in order to exercise his divine power. Jesus emptied himself and he became like us. As followers of Jesus we are called to share with others the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and to give all honor, glory and praise to God: our creator, redeemer, and sustainer.

Witnesses

Acts 1:8: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you: and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Jesus was giving instructions to his disciples in the scripture verse today before He ascended back into heaven. Jesus had appeared to his disciples over a period of forty days since the resurrection and now Jesus was giving the disciples their marching orders to go out into the world and to be witnesses for Christ.

One thing that we often overlook in this passage is the words of Christ at the beginning of verse 8. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you: and then….you will be my witnesses…” It is the power of the Holy Spirit that must come first before the disciples can set out on mission. The Holy Spirit would guide them and would enable them to carry out the mission of being witnesses throughout the world.

We don’t talk about the Holy Spirit as often as we should in church today. We know that the Holy Spirit is the third person in the Trinity but what exactly does the Holy Spirit do? Many times we don’t understand how the Spirit is working and we try to follow our own instincts instead of being a Spirit led people.

Four years ago, my pastor and I went on a mission trip to Liberia, West Africa. That trip has been on my mind a lot lately as you can tell by the photos that I have posted on my website. I’m not sure why we felt called to go or if we even thought that we were called to go to this war-torn country. But somehow, my pastor and I, felt led by God to travel to this West African nation.

On our first day at the church we were visiting, I was giving a talk on the role of deacons in the contemporary church today. Many deacons from other congregations were in attendance and there was a lot of discussion about the role of deacon and the role of the pastor. The pastor of the church that was hosting us stood up and said that there was something that he wanted to say. He said that many of his church members were unsure of whether they would be able to understand two men from America and they questioned whether or not they should attend. Their pastor begged them to just come the first day and see if communication was going to be a problem. (English in the language spoken in Liberia but the dialects are very different). The pastor said that he was amazed how everyone was talking and that everyone seemed to understand everything that was being said. “The Holy Spirit is truly present here with us in this church today”, he said.

I also believe that it was the Holy Spirit that spoke to their hearts to invite us to come and it was the Holy Spirit that worked within our hearts to convince us to go.

I felt the Holy Spirit at work in that church in West Africa many more times that week and it was a powerful experience. Jesus told His disciples some 2,000 years ago and His disciples today to be witnesses to the ends of the earth. And that is what I thought that I was doing. But after going to Liberia, it was my brothers and sisters in Christ there – that were witnesses to me. The Holy Spirit does work in strange and mysterious ways.

Faith

Scripture reading: James 1:2-3
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds. Because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

This past week has been very challenging for me and I have fallen behind in writing my blog. My mom and aunt have been very sick this week and I have made four visits to their house along with three trips to the doctor. Their health is very fragile and they are afraid as they begin to lose some of their independence. I must admit that I am afraid also as we try to figure out what comes next. Amidst the many moments of uncertainty the only certain thing that we can cling to is our faith. A faith that God is in charge and that He is present with us as we struggle.

I also have a friend that is in the hospital in Atlanta and she is facing a long, difficult road to recovery. Her faith is strong and she is a very determined person and I know that she will be able to regain her former lifestyle in the near future. I have several friends that are looking for work, some after being told in no uncertain terms, that they are no longer needed. There are people that I know that are struggling with physical and mental illness and they are worried and depressed. Others are unhappy in their marriages and with their families and they are ready to walk away and give up.

In times like these it is tempting to just give up because it can seem that God has forgotten about you and your situation. And we are not alone in that feeling as we discover when we read the book of Psalms. Psalm 42:9: I say to God my Rock, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?” Psalm 38:21-22: O Lord, do not forsake me; be not far from me, O my God. Come quickly to help me, O lord my Savior. Like the writer of these Psalms, there are times when it feels that God is far away, but actually He is there with us in our times of struggle.

Someone said to me the other day, I’m just tired of trying, I’m really tired of trying to do the right things and then having bad things happen to me.” That reminded me of something I once heard someone say. This person said, “Don’t ever grow tired of doing good. No matter what trouble comes your way, continue to do the right thing and persevere, continue to have faith.”

And to me that’s what faith is all about. I often need to be reminded that we all stumble and go through difficult times in our lives. Faith helps us to remember that God promises to be there with us in our heartaches and in our struggles, we are not alone. Hebrews 11:1: Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. God is closer than we often realize.

As I drove up to my mom’s house the other day I listened several times to the song, What Faith Can Do, by Kutless. This song always speaks to my heart when I also feel just about ready to give up. Two lines from the song really speak to me and I want to share them with you.

Don’t you give up now
The sun will soon be shining
You gotta face the clouds
To find the silver lining

Life is so much more
Than what your eyes are seeing
You will find your way
If you keep believing

Keep believing and have faith, a faith that can move mountains! God bless!

Love One Another

Scripture Reading: Matthew 5:43-48
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even the unbelievers do that?”

Jesus tells us to love our enemies and to pray for them. How many times have you or I prayed for people that we didn’t like, or for people that treated us unkindly? Think about that for a few moments. If we are completely honest with ourselves, our answer would probably be never or only a few times. Jesus is teaching us that we should pray for that neighbor or friend that won’t speak to us anymore, or that boss that is hateful and unreasonable, or that family member or church member that is upset with us and we don’t know why.

The world that we live in tells us that we should love ourselves more than we should love others. We are urged to hoard our possessions and to show little or no mercy to those in our society that need our help. The world that we live in encourages us to worship and desire the material possessions of this world instead of God.

Our Christian faith however, teaches us that we should love all kinds of other people before we love our own self. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever beliveth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Jesus then commands us to “love your neighbor as yourself.”

Jesus was saying that it’s easy to love those who love you back. Even the folks that don’t believe in God are doing that. But true love involves loving those who have wronged you or said bad things about you. True love is also about forgiveness, not carrying grudges and letting the past be the past. True love towards your enemies is a true sign that you are a follower of Jesus. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command. If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.

As Christians, we call ourselves disciples or followers of Christ. If we are to follow Christ and be obedient to Him, then we must love those that are difficult to love. We must love our family, our church family, our neighbors, our co-workers, and we also must show love to all those people that won’t love us back. We must love and pray for people that detest us and say bad things about us. We will know that we are followers of Jesus when we are able to love those people that seem unlovable. We must love them because God created them and God loves them as much as He does you and me.

One of my favorite chapters of the Bible is 1 Corinthians chapter 13. In this chapter, the apostle Paul is writing about love. Paul writes, starting in verse 4, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

So this week try to show love or compassion to someone that just doesn’t want to be loved. As followers of Jesus love one another and care for and encourage each another. If you do that – then you are truly a follower of Christ.

Remembering Family

Scripture Reading: 1 John 4:11-12
Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

Over the last couple of days, I have been thinking about two family members that have passed away, but would have celebrated birthdays this past week. These two exceptional people were my cousin Kay and my uncle Grover. They have both been on my mind this past week and I wanted to share with you the impact they had on my life.

Kay was a year older than me and she was a special cousin and friend. The one thing that I will always remember about Kay was her smile. She had the biggest smile that I have ever seen and Kay was always smiling. Like all of us, life handed Kay some difficult moments but she still managed to smile and to have a positive attitude. Kay loved people, especially her family, and she was someone that I truly enjoyed being around and growing up with.

Kay, her sister Karen and I would spend many hours playing the game of Monopoly at my grandmother’s kitchen table. Those are special times that I still think about some thirty five years later. We all loved each other and enjoyed each other’s company and I do miss those times that we had together. Kay also took it upon herself to protect me when older kids would try to intimidate us younger kids on the bus. I remember one time she stood toe to toe with this kid and told him to leave her cousin alone or he would have to deal with her. That kid backed down and never bothered me again. Kay’s example of loving your family and protecting them is something that I have remembered throughout my life.

Kay was a warm, loving person and just being around her made you feel special and loved. Growing up, Kay was such a positive person and that attitude was contagious. I can picture Kay today, walking the streets of heaven, and she is smiling. I am so thankful for the time that we had together and I know that one day I will see that beautiful smile again.

My uncle Grover also had a tremendous influence on my life. Along with my father, he taught me responsibility and hard work. He instilled in me the resolve to never give up no matter how difficult the situation. He emphasized the importance of studying and obtaining a good education so that I could be a good citizen and a productive member of society. Grover would always quiz me on political and world facts and he expected me to know the answers about what was happening in the world.

When I bought my first car, he would come over to my house and “inspect” my car to make sure that it was clean and that I was taking good care of it. He continued to do this throughout my teen years and that is something I still have fond memories of. I have told this story to my children as I try to teach them responsibility in their own lives.

When my father passed away, it was my uncle that broke the news to me. I remember the many conversations that we had after my father died. My uncle loved me and he was there for me when I needed someone to talk to or confide in. Grover taught me the importance of having a good reputation and that was something that he took a lot of pride in himself. He helped many people in the community that needed assistance and had no one to turn to. He helped others because it was the right thing to do and he didn’t do it to be noticed or to be rewarded. My uncle continues to have a great influence on my life and I know that he would be proud that I am passing on his knowledge to my children.

Our scripture passage today plainly tells us that God loved us so much that He sent his one and only Son into the world so that we might live through him. Since God loves us so very much, we are commanded to love each other, and then others will see that God, and His love, lives within us. It was evident to me that God lived in these two wonderful human beings.

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

Psalm 139:13-16

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

At one time or another, most all of us struggle with who we are as a person. Many times we focus on our own flaws and we fail to comprehend just how magnificent a creation, we are. I also fall into the trap of comparing myself to other people. Whenever I attempt to measure myself against my perception of others, I always come up short. My self worth is then measured in terms of what the world, or other people, consider important.

We once had a neighbor that always seemed to arrive at church, a few minutes before we did. We made a game out of it but no matter how hard we tried, we could never seem to get to church before she did. One day my wife made a comment to her about how she always manages to get her family to church on time. Our neighbor said, “You have no idea how hard it is to get them going, we always seem to be running behind.” We were surprised because it appeared that our neighbor really had her act together, when in fact, she was struggling just as much as we were. Perceptions are often not reality.

In times of self doubt, I go to Psalm 139, to be reminded that God made me just the way I am for a specific purpose. Psalm 139 begins by saying that God has searched me and He knows me. God knows when I sit and when I rise. God perceives my every thought from afar. God is familiar with all my ways and before I can even utter a word, God knows what I am going to say. This psalm reminds us that God created us in His own image and that we are who we are for a reason.

Recently, I was given advice about some additional responsibilities that are coming my way. It was suggested that I need to become someone different or in some ways act differently. This person was trying to help me but in fact was giving me some very bad advice. God gave each of us different talents and gifts and by working together we can use these gifts to further God’s kingdom. Some folks go about serving God in a very visible way while others serve God behind the scenes and go unnoticed by most for their efforts.

God knew what He was doing when He created us. He intentionally made us the way we are and God can use our strengths and even our weaknesses in order to further His kingdom here on this earth. Don’t ever allow anyone to tell you that you are not important or that you somehow fail to measure up to the world’s standards. You are “fearfully and wonderfully made” and you are created in the image of your Creator. The works of God are truly wonderful.

Exhalted or Humbled

Scripture Reading: Luke 14:10-11
“But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

I love football and I must admit that I am a huge college and pro football fan. Like many of you, I watched the Super Bowl last night, and as always we see the images of numerous celebrities and “important” people throughout the game. Many of these people are in the luxury suites that this year sold for $163,385 for the Super Bowl game. To watch the game from this venue, you must either be wealthy or a person of some importance and influence, or have the necessary connections.

Throughout the game the cameras gave us a glimpse of who was in the luxury suites. The people there ranged from a former United States President and other government officials, pro athletes, and several famous actors and actresses. Many of these people want to be seen at the big game and the network cameras obliged them, and us, by giving us a glimpse of their view of the game. Now I am not judging these people, because I myself would certainly like to sit in one of those luxury suites and watch a Super Bowl game and enjoy the amenities of the luxury suites, just once.

The Super Bowl did not exist in Jesus’ time but Jesus knew that people desired to sit at the head table, at the most important and visible places. That is certainly true in our society today, we want to be seen and recognized and we want to feel important. We want to be acknowledged for our achievements and for becoming successful, at least by the standards that the world measures success.

Jesus however, came to turn this world that we live in upside down. From the gospel of Luke we read that if you exalt yourself you will be humbled. But if you humble yourself first, then you will be exalted. Being humble includes looking out for those in our society that are less fortunate than we are. It also involves putting the interests of others before our own selfish interests. It most certainly is the giving of our time and money and skills to help those children of God that need our help and our voice.

One of the beatitudes in Matthew (5:5) says; “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” Many people have understood the meek to be defined as those who are quiet or non-aggressive. Our society views someone that is meek as being weak or spineless. This beatitude is first heard in Psalm 37:11: “But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace.” The New International Bible study notes suggests that the meek are those who “humbly acknowledge their dependence on the goodness and grace of God and betray no arrogance toward others.”

Being humble or meek can save us from pride, from looking down on other people. It can also help to prevent us from becoming self-righteous. True meekness involves “not my will but your will be done.”

A seminary professor of mine once told us that true meekness “is a mandate and a mark of a true disciple.” He said that a Christian who is meek is “someone that is available to do the will of God, they are not weak.”

Jesus reminds us in our text today that if we put our self-importance ahead of others, there will be a day in which we will be humbled. However, if we continuously strive to put the needs of others first and serve our fellow human beings, then we will be exalted and given life eternal in God’s coming kingdom.

Times of Trouble

Scripture Reading:
Psalm 46:1: God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

This psalm was written to be sung as a celebration of the security of Jerusalem as the city of God. This psalm, and also psalms 47 and 48, is an expression of confidence in the security of God’s people in the midst of a world that threatens their well-being.

Martin Luther also used Psalm 46 as the inspiration of his great hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” The beautiful words to this hymn, written five hundred years ago, still have incredible meaning for us today. It is a reminder that we can continue to find refuge and strength in God in the midst of all the daily troubles that we face. As Christians we are not spared from daily troubles and worries and trials, we know that we will encounter many of those things. We are promised however, that God will be there for us and that He gives us hope, as we face the many struggles of life.

Luther’s hymn also brings images of the evil one that will “threaten to undo us.” “His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate, on earth is not his equal.” These stanzas remind us of our “ancient foe”, the devil who relentlessly strives to bring us down. We have all felt the attacks of the evil one as he strikes out at us when we are at our weakest point. He is there to tempt us into sin and to cause us to lose hope. As the words to this hymn remind us, he is a formidable enemy.

We don’t like to talk much about the evil one in our church life today. Many people feel uncomfortable at the very mention of the devil. However, if you read the bible, you will find that the evil one is very real, and that he is constantly looking for ways to make God’s people stumble. But the words to this hymn remind us that we can withstand his onslaught and that in the end he is doomed, God’s truth will win out.

We must realize however, that we can’t overcome these attacks on our own strength; we must turn to the mighty fortress that is our God. Only in God can we find the resolve to stand firm when faced with the many temptations and trials that come our way. Many times we learn this lesson the hard way, after we attempt to handle difficulties in our own way, without God’s help. It is only by relying upon God that we can overcome life’s trials.

This hymn and Psalm 46 are reminders that, when we are faced with whatever life and the evil one brings our way, we can turn to God, who is our refuge and our strength, an ever present help in times of trouble. The next to the last verse in this psalm is verse ten and is says: “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

God is with you, stand firm and put your trust and faith in God. His strength is too powerful for the evil that is present in our world. The good news is that God will be victorious and His kingdom will reign forever. The last verse of Luther’s hymn reminds us that, “God’s truth abideth still, His kingdom is forever.”

I know that many of you today have worries and you are faced with many difficult decisions that are bringing you down. It’s very easy to get depressed and to give up hope when you encounter the many demands of everyday life. And it’s also very easy to focus on your problems and to forget that God is there to bring you through these challenging times. So as you pray and as you read God’s word, be still and listen for God, an ever-present help in time of trouble.

Remembering my Father

Revelation 21:4
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

My father passed away on this day twenty four years ago. I was twenty one years old and in college at the University of Georgia and I remember my mother calling me to give me the news that my dad had a heart attack and was in the hospital. It was a Friday morning and I hurried to the hospital, and spent the next two days with my mom and dad in his room, not knowing what the outcome was going to be. I was scared but I felt like my father would pull through and eventually return home again.

Late on Sunday afternoon, as me and my dad were talking, he told me that I needed to go back to Athens and study for a test that I had coming up the next day. His dream was to see me finish college and graduate. I was in my last year of college when my dad suffered his heart attack. He talked often about the day that I would graduate and how proud he would be. My dad didn’t have the opportunity to attend college. His father had passed away from a massive heart attack at the age of 48 and so my father had to go to work in order to help support his family.

I traveled back to Athens from Gainesville and drove over to the library to study. A few hours later, I returned to my apartment and I could immediately sense that something was wrong. My two roommates were looking at me in a strange way and they told me that I needed to call my uncle. I knew immediately that my father had passed away and I couldn’t bring myself to pick up the phone and make the call. Almost instantly it seemed, the telephone rang and it was my uncle, calling back to talk to me. I remember my uncle saying that he was sorry to call with such bad news and then he told me that my father had another massive heart attack and was gone.

I don’t remember much of what happened the next day or so leading up to the funeral. All that kept running through my mind was that my father would not be there when I graduated college. He would not be there for any important events in my life and the thought of that was just too much for me to bear. Being an only child though, I knew that I needed to be strong for my mother because that was what my dad would have expected me to do.

As those twenty four years have passed by, I have treasured many wonderful memories of the time together that my father and I had. I remember the first time that he took me fishing. Yearly family vacations were very important to him and we had some really good times together as a family. I was also an avid baseball card collector and my father would indulge me with numerous packs of cards that he would bring home after leaving work for the day. He was also a wonderful cook and I regret not having spent more time with him in the kitchen and learning some of his secrets.

I still miss my father, especially at important milestones in my family’s life. I found myself thinking about him a couple of Sunday’s ago when I baptized my daughter. Although he was not there in person, I believe that he was present in some way and was witness to what took place. And it is my Christian belief that we will be together again one day in heaven.

He would always tell me that he couldn’t wait until I had kids so that he could see how I managed them as a parent. “I hope that your kids give you as much trouble as you give me,” he would jokingly say to me. I hope that I have made you proud as a parent dad, and I’m sure that we will laugh together again one day about all the “trouble” that my kids have given me. In memory of my father, George C. Mathis.

My Daily Journey With God in Athens Ga.