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Showing posts with label Home. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Home. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Eight Years

Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord.
“They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
This summer, Lord willing, I will reach an interesting milestone.
Eight Years.
Eight years I will have served as the pastor of Pleasant Grove United Methodist Church.
Eight years I have lived in the home in Cohutta we affectionately call "Mullis Farm".
Eight years is also the longest I have ever lived in one place in my whole life.
As a child, I was born in Prince Fredrick, Maryland.
I lived five years in a little white house in North Beach, Maryland
a few blocks from the Chesapeake Bay.
We moved to Silver Springs, Maryland where I lived in the shadow of Washington D.C.
for a year and a half.
Then we made the exodus south from Maryland to Georgia
and lived in a home in Macon for three and a half years.
Then we moved to another school district in Macon
where we lived on Vinson Avenue for
Eight Years
until I graduated high school and moved to Marietta, Georgia to attend college.
A dorm room for one year.
A small apartment with college roommates for one year.
Married the woman I love in 1994 when I was twenty-years-old. 
Moved to another small apartment for a four year stint.
Graduated college and moved to another small apartment in Lithia Springs, Georgia.
Our first child was born.  A chubby little boy with OCD who liked to sort things.
I answered the call to ministry as an itinerant United Methodist pastor in 1999.
definition:  traveling from place to place

Our family called yet another apartment in Lithia Springs home for two more years
while I was a youth minister and associate pastor.
We had another child.  A curly headed brunette girl.
We moved to Griffin, Georgia and lived in an old church parsonage for two years.
Then we moved to another church and parsonage in Forsyth, Georgia
where we lived for five years.
We had our third child, a blonde-headed girl with a sunny personality.
Then, in the summer of 2010, I was appointed the pastor of
We moved from middle Georgia to northwest Georgia.
With a housing allowance provided by the church,
we purchased a house out in the country in a place called Cohutta.
It was the first house I ever owned. 
It was the first time I could paint the walls whatever color my wife wanted or
build a chicken coop in the backyard
or raise a hog or turkey for food
or own a herd of dairy goats
or hand-build a log cabin in the woods behind the house
or have as many dogs and cats as a I wanted
without the permission of a landlord or the church trustees.
On June 24 this year, Lord willing, it will have been
Eight Years
since I moved to this beautiful community.
I will then enter into unknown territory for me.
I've never done this before,
never lived in a place beyond eight years,
but I have thoroughly enjoyed the last
Seven Years, Three Hundred and Twenty Six Days
I have lived here so far.
I have met wonderful people, gotten to know them, built some deep relationships,
felt welcomed and loved, faced challenges and adversity, overcome,
raised a family, grown as a person,
loved a congregation and my community
for longer than most United Methodist pastors have the privilege
(5 years is the average in my denomination)
and I have been part of God's amazing kingdom work here so far.
I am ready!
and I am excited!
to see what it's like to live and serve God in a community beyond
Eight Years.
This is going to be another exciting adventure as I walk with my Lord.
I would love for you to be part of the adventure!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Home - The Truth As Far As I Can Tell...

The Truth As Far As I Can Tell…
Hebrews 13:14 – For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.
My Uncle, Gilbert Bigham
Recently, I had the privilege of traveling to Clinton, SC with Mom to visit some relatives.  My 97-year-old uncle, Gilbert Bigham (my Grandma Wingo’s brother and last living sibling), has lung cancer. So Mom and I went to see him.  While there, we visited several other relatives and heard many stories about our family history.  I saw where my Grandpa Wingo grew up and stopped by Bellview Baptist church (the church my ancestors helped found by donating land).

Relatives on my Grandma Wingo's side, (Going Clockwise):
Ann Campbell (Grandma's sister Daisy's daughter),
Kenneth Hamilton (Grandma's sister Hannah's son) and his wife,
Elizabeth Beaty's husband and Elizabeth (Grandma's sister Hannah's daughter),
Harold and Joan Smith (Grandma's sister Ruby's daughter),
and Georgia Mae Brewer (Grandma's sister Hannah's daughter)

I have a rather large family.  Grandma was one of eleven siblings and one adopted child.  (So you can imagine how many cousins and aunts and uncles we have.)  Unfortunately, I didn’t see many of my relatives as I was growing up.  While most of my extended family lived in the Clinton and Laurens, SC area—and many still do—my grandparents were more like Abraham and Sara from the Bible; they moved away from home to make a new life. 

My Grandpa's Childhood Home
Bellview Baptist Church - Laurens, SC
First, my grandparents moved to Savannah, GA where my mom was born while Grandpa built ships for World War II.  Then, Grandpa went to Europe to fight the War.  Afterwards, my grandparents moved to Ohio and lived in a few different towns before settling down in Marengo.  Mom persisted in her parents’
migratory methods.  She graduated high school and moved to Washington DC where she worked for the FBI and met my dad.
I was born in Maryland and lived in two different towns in that state—North Beach until I was 6 and then Silver Springs.  The school kids in Maryland joked about the “southern” accent I inherited from my parents until I was 8 and my family move to Macon, GA.  It was closer to my Dad’s family, but miles from anything I was used to.  Now, the school kids said I sounded like a “Yankee”.  We moved one more time, just far enough that I had to change schools.
Now, I’m not whining.  I was used to all this moving.  It was sad to leave friends and homes behind, but it’s just who we were.  Looking back know, I realize this was a legacy that went back a long way in my family—at least to my Grandma and Grandpa Wingo.  What urged Grandma and Grandpa to wander away from Clinton, SC when everyone else stayed?  Was God leading them to find a new “Promised Land” like Abraham and Sara of the Bible?  I don’t know, but I realize it prepared me for the life I live as an itinerant Methodist preacher.  Since Kelly and I married 23 years ago, we have moved from Macon to Marietta to Lithia Springs to Griffin to Forsyth and now we live in Dalton.  And if the Lord is willing, we will have many more cities and towns to call our “home” over the next 40+ years. 
            People often ask, “Where’re you from?”  Well, you tell me.  Where am I from?  Where is my “home”?  Is it where I was born or where I first went to school?  Is my home where I met my wife and got married?  Is it where I graduated from high school or college or seminary?  Is my home where I live now or where I’m going next?  Or is “home” in Clinton, SC where my ancestors came from or Ireland or France where their ancestors came from?  Well, my life and my faith have taught me this: “Home” is not some place you go back to; “Home”—our real Home—is where we are going.  With Jesus help, we shall get there one day.  Of course, I’m no expert and I certainly don’t claim to know everything, but that’s the Truth as far as I can tell…
Remember, God loves you and so do I!
The Wingo Brothers - Robert (my Grandpa) is second from the left

Thursday, December 1, 2016


The Truth As Far As I Can Tell…
John 14:1-4 – Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going.”
This Title Max Pawn Shop in Macon, GA used to be a
Gabby's Diner, where my wife and I had our first date.
I traveled to Macon, GA for a funeral this week.  Going to Macon often gives me a bittersweet feeling.  You see Macon is the hometown where I grew up.  It’s where I went to school, made friends, met my wife, and got married.  Going home to Macon is bittersweet because it has changed so much.  Most all of the places are still there.  I can point them out.  There is the old neighborhood, Burghard Elementary, Ballard A Middle School, and Southwest High.  There is the place I worked my first job. 
As I said, the community has changed a lot.  Everything is older.  It seems worn out and run down.  Gabby’s Diner, where Kelly and I had our first date, is a Title Pawn now.  Even if everything was the same, I’ve changed.  So, home just isn’t the same.  Those days of my youth are gone.  I can’t go back to them.   So it’s kind of bittersweet to go home to Macon because it feels like home has sort of been lost.  I can remember it, but I can’t go back and I don’t even know if I’d want to.  The Truth is, the good ole days weren’t necessarily that good anyway.
This bittersweet feeling reminds me that Home—our true Home, Home with a “capital H”—is not a place we go back to.  It never was.  Our real Home, the place our soul really longs to be, is somewhere we are going forward to.  You see, Home is not the house you grew up in.  Home is not Grandma’s house over in Bloomfield.  Home is not even the old church you went to as a kid.  Home—our real Home—is the place we learn about from Jesus when we read the Bible, when we worship in Church.  Our eternal Home is the reward awaiting all who know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
That is the Good News of the Christian faith.  We believe that those who follow Christ as their Lord and Savior have victory over sin and death.  Being a Christian doesn’t mean we are perfect.  You don’t have to be perfect to come to Jesus.  Actually, Jesus came to save us from our sin—to forgive the mistakes we’ve made (no matter how many times we’ve made them)—and to enable us to make a brand new start.  Jesus loved us when we didn’t deserve it, when we were totally unlovable.  He laid down his life for us on the cross so we don’t have to pay the price for our sins.  Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
We have something great to look forward to after this life is over.  We have eternity.  Home is not a place we go back to.  Home is a place we go forward to.  Of course, I’m no expert and I certainly don’t claim to know everything, but that’s the Truth as far as I can tell…
Remember, God loves you and so do I!

Follow this link to hear a great song called "Homesick" by Mercy Me.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Home is Where You Make It

Home is Where You Make It
Christmas Eve Message
Luke 2:1-20

Luke 2:1-20
At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census.And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, his fiancĂ©e, who was now obviously pregnant.
And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.
That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in highest heaven,
    and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 17 After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, 19 but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often.20 The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.

            Christmas is a time when people like to be at home.  Most businesses still close on Christmas day (though more and more are staying open).  They close so that people can be at home with their family for the holiday.  Yet, there are some places that cannot close.  No one wants fire stations of police stations to close on Christmas.  (What if there is a fire or a crime on Christmas day?)  My wife Kelly is a nurse and she has to work tomorrow night, because—believe it or not—babies are still born on Christmas!
            The shepherds in the story from Luke were working on the first Christmas night.  They were not at home warming by the fire.  They were out working the night shift keeping the sheep safe when the angels appeared to them. 
            And then, there is Mary and Joseph.  If anyone wanted to be home, I’m sure it was Mary and Joseph.  Mary, a young girl having her first child, was miles away from home and everything that was comfortable to her. 
            Sometimes when Kelly and I go to visit family in middle Georgia, we will get hotel to stay the night.  My mom’s house is not big enough to sleep my whole family comfortably.  Neither is my mother-in-law’s.  Sometimes we split up and send part of the family to my Mom’s house and part to my mother-in-law’s, but that has it’s on challenges too (Who’s gonna stay where?  How are we going to get back together in the morning?)  Sometimes it’s just easier and more comfortable to get a hotel and call that home for the night.
            Mary and Joseph couldn’t even get a hotel room.  They tried, but all the rooms were full.  So, all they had to call home for the night was the stable where they kept the animals.   

Sometimes, home is where you make it.
            Life is messy.  It doesn’t always go the way you plan.  Babies are born at inconvenient times.  The hotel doesn’t always have enough room.  So you have to make do with what you have.  Sometimes, you make home where you are.
            In Philippians 4:12-13, Paul said, “I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”
            You see, when your heart is right with God, God can teach you to bear with any inconvenience.  But don’t get the impression that God just makes you tough enough to grit and bear it.  God can actually take an impoverished situation and turn it into an abundant life.
            Take Mary and Joseph.  There were no doctors or nurses or cozy state-of-the-art birthing rooms available.  Mary gave birth in a barn and laid her precious baby in a manger with animals all around watching.  Yet, angels announced his birth and the shepherds came running to see the miracle child.  Before long, Wisemen came bearing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  But the greatest gift of all was the privilege of bearing and raising the Son of God.  This was not merely getting by.  This was being at the very center of God’s eternal plan to save humanity.
            I don’t know if Mary and Joseph knew the full ramification of what they were doing the night Mary gave birth to the Christ.  I think they had some clues, but didn’t understand in full.  That’s the way most of life is.  We may suspect something important is happening in our life, but we don’t fully understand what it is.  All we know is that this is the hand life has dealt us and we can complain about it and mope around, or we can have faith that God is doing something truly amazing—that God has already given us a tremendous blessing we just don’t fully understand yet.
            Several from our church went Christmas caroling to our at-home members.  (These are members of our church who for health reasons are not able to get out much.  Many of them live in assisted living or nursing homes.)  Nancy Ware, Rena Gallman, and I had the privilege of visiting with Virginia Wallace over at Tranquility Assisted Living.  I asked Virginia if she liked living at Tranquility and her response was full of wisdom.  She said, “I love it her.  It’s a very nice place.  Of course, no one wants to leave their home and move into assisted living, but I couldn’t ask for better.  You can choose to be unhappy because you are not at home anymore, or you can choose to be happy.  It’s up to you.  I am very happy to call Tranquility my home.  It is a wonderful place.”
            We would all do well to listen to Virginia’s advice.  Your attitude makes all the difference.  So whether you find yourself like Virginia in assisted living, or if you find yourself like Mary and Joseph and all you have is a stable and a manger, remember:  home is where you make it.  Maybe you ought to get busy making it a home. 

An Invitation to Come Home
            I want you to remember that any home we have in this life is only temporary.  Ultimately, our Home is with God.  Even when this life comes to an end, we have a Home awaiting us in Heaven.  Hebrews 13:14 tells us, “For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.”
            If you want to go Home for Christmas this year (not necessarily your family home or your childhood home, remember, we are talking in a spiritual sense), you must get your heart right with God.  1 Peter 3:18a tells us, “Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God.”
            The glorious Good News of Christmas is that, through Jesus Christ, God tore down every obstacle that keeps us from being at Home with Him.  There’s nothing in the way—no sin that can’t be forgiven, no fear or anger or grief or shame that can’t be overcome.  All you have to do is decide that you truly want to be at Home with God.  Do you want to be at Home with God?  Will you decide to come Home today?  As for me, I’ll be Home for Christmas this year.