We moved to Buckhead in 2017. After living outside-the perimeter since my teens, I envisioned an area of high-rise buildings and high-density neighborhoods. Certainly both exist, but Buckhead also features rolling hills, mature forests, and crooked creeks.

The church parsonage on West Wesley is a bit like a mullet hairdo—business in the front and party in the back! The front yard faces a busy, metro street. The backyard borders acres of woods. The patio could be located in Highlands, well, except for the constant drone of traffic and planes.

BucksDuring our tenure in the house, I have seen opossums, deer, hawks, owls, snakes, squirrels, chipmunks, and foxes. Two years ago a church member even photographed a brown bear 75 yards away from our backdoor.

Last month I glanced out a window to see a buck emerging from the woods. A few moments later another buck joined him. After meandering around the back yard, they walked down the stairs to the creek.

Several stories account for our community’s name. I now have my own theory!


Big Brother

Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.

Big BrotherThis oft-repeated mantra of paranoia still makes me smile. The statement both recognizes the mental aberration and affirms its existence.

But are we paranoid ENOUGH? Consider recent, technological “advances.”

  • Cell phones track our physical location.
  • Cellular companies promote thumbprint and facial recognition technology.
  • After searching for a purchase on the Internet, ads for the same product suddenly appear on multiple electronic platforms.
  • Cars’ GPS document our driving patterns.
  • Doorbell cameras share video with parent companies and law enforcement.
  • Security and traffic cameras along with license tag readers record our movement.
  • Alexa, Siri, and their sisters record home conversations.
  • Social media accumulates gigabytes of personal information.
  • Credit companies gather extensive financial information.

In 1984, people would have revolted against governments and businesses that wanted to track our location, record our words, video our actions, and monitor our lives. Today we willfully volunteer this information without a second thought.

Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.

No “I” in “Team”

Sick emojiA stomach virus viciously ambushed me Saturday evening. A high fever accompanied bouts of DELETED BY CENSOR. I took it like a man, moaning and groaning while praying for death.

My wife alerted the other pastors leading worship on Sunday morning. While I spent the night preparing my funeral, the Reverends Catherine Boothe Olson and Jeff Rogers divided the responsibilities. With only 12 hours’ notice, they gracefully led the three services. Other staff members fluidly shifted and shared duties as well.

In my early appointments, I WAS the church staff. Over the years, I’ve un-learned some lessons about self-reliance and independence. In return, the Holy Spirit has taught some lessons about collegiality and community.

Thank God for the amazing staff family at Northside Church. There’s no “I” in “Team,” and I am glad to be one member of Christ’s body in this time and place.

I do have an unused funeral outline available for anyone suffering from a similar, life-threatening ailment.

I could have DIED, you know.

Road Kill

possumA possum tried to cross West Wesley Road and died messily in front of our mailbox. In the past, I would have used a shovel to reverently dispose of the remains. However, I was delighted to discover the City of Atlanta has a dead animal removal service.

I completed the form and waited. And waited. And waited. And, well you get the idea.

After four weeks in 95+ degree temperatures, the carcass sorta melted into the asphalt. Other than the interim stink and mess, I suppose the city’s dead animal removal service works!

Everyone has some sort of possum problem. You can hope someone else will remove it. You can hold your nose until the stink goes away. Or you can grab a shovel and solve the problem yourself.

The good news is I’m SURE the city will fill the potholes on our street any day now.

It’s beginning to look a lot like . . .

I’m publishing this blog on September 25, which means Christmas is only three months away! Hobby Lobby decorated it’s aisles in July, and most retail stores are not far behind. Deck the halls, make a list, and check it twice, December 25th is on its way.

Christmas countdownPerhaps you’ve somehow avoided the Christmas Spirit to date. September weather and fall leaves hardly evoke images of a wintry wonderland with sleigh rides, jingle bells, and roasting chestnuts.

However, Christmas is not a day, season, or feeling. Instead, it’s the celebration of divine grace in our human lives. God so loved the world that the divine became incarnate, the Word became flesh.

The bookends of Jesus life at the manger and the cross reveal the height, width, and depth of God’s love for each of us. God so loved the world—so loved each of us—that God GAVE. The empty tomb declares that our Lord is with us both now and forever more.

Christmas is only three months away.

Christmas was almost 2,000 years ago.

Christmas is when we know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

Rehab Hurts

In July, an orthopedic surgeon performed arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus in my knee. The doctor determined the cartridge tear reflected cumulative damage for someone in my “age range.”

I’ve never been someone in my “age range” before.

After the procedure, the surgeon told me to peddle a stationary bike the next day. So my wife drove me to the Carl Sanders YMCA where I slowly limped to the back of the gym. I carefully crawled on the bike and rode for 15 minutes in the lowest gear.

BikeRehab hurts.

After the agonizing workout, I eased off the bike and slowly straightened my leg. I may have whimpered quietly but in a manly sort of way. Meanwhile, a man who had spent an hour riding an adjacent bike also completed his workout.

I self-consciously gestured to my bandaged leg and said, “I’m just starting rehab after surgery.”

He responded, “But you’re HERE and that’s something.”


Rehab hurts.

But I’m HERE and that’s something.

Holy Land Pilgrimage 2020

I invite you to join me on a trip-of-a-lifetime to the Holy Land. Our church family along with other guests will visit Israel from October 13-23, 2020.

Holy Land 2019Biblical scholars call Israel The Fifth Gospel because geography so shapes the story of Scripture. Travel brings the Bible to life as pilgrims literally walk in the footsteps of Jesus.

I have traveled to Israel several times in the past, and each journey has transformed my understanding of the Christian faith. Indelible memories continue to mold my life and ministry. I look forward to the next trip with members from my Northside Church family.

The eleven-day trip will visit  many Old and New Testament sites , including destinations not typically covered in a standard tour. The inclusive pricing includes first class hotels, deluxe motor coaches, guided tours, airfare, and much more.

For additional information, visit this link to see the full brochure that contains all of the details: www.NorthsideUMC.org/holyland. You can also contact Maggie Bridges at MaggieB@NorthsideUMC.org.

We will have two, no-obligation interest meetings this week on Wednesday, September 11 at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, September 15 at 12:15 p.m. Both will occur in the Board Room of Northside United Methodist Church. General information and brochures will be available along with a time of questions and answers.

A traditional Passover toast during the Seder meal is, “Next year in Jerusalem!” In 2020, we have the opportunity to make this prayer a reality.