Space Shuttle Challenger remembered

I'm sure you probably remember what you were doing when the Challenger exploded just after take off January 28, 1986. Seven lives were snuffed out that afternoon, and millions of people stared in shock at their TV screens or listened in horror to their radios.

I know that debris from the shuttle was found across Louisiana and Texas and it all came from a ruptured O-ring.

Isn't it strange how the smallest thing can cause the greatest trouble? The old saying goes For lack of a nail, the shoe was lost. For lack of a shoe the horse was lost. For lack of a horse the rider was lost. For lack of the rider, the battle was lost, all for the lack of a nail. Or something like that.

I mourn those seven adventuresome astronauts who accepted the challenge and set their faces toward space. I admire their courage and their intestinal fortitude. May God Almighty be with their families as the world remembers that long ago explosion. 

NASA: Most distant galaxy found by Hubble

I can't help but chuckle every time a scientist goes on national TV and talks about things that are more than a billion years old, or for that matter more than 20,000 years old. The reason is that scientist aren't considering God in their equations.

Of course, there are more scientists that do not believe in God than that do believe in God or so Scientific American  have told us time and again. That does not eliminate those scientists who do believe in God, including those who didn't then couldn't help but believe because of their scientific findings corresponding so closely with the Bible.

Here we have the classic example of Universe-Longevity. Why, I wonder, is it so imperative that we are comforted by the longevity of our home's existence?

God chose this space to plant earth and our sun, He chose to give us heavenly bodies to study and wonder about, then in the proper timing He has allowed us to explore further and further into space with the telescope and with our limited space ships. God created the universe as it is, uncrowded and vast, and He created it old, just as He created Adam a full grown man and Eve a full grown woman.

When Christians Hurt Christians

I've just written a book by that title, but it won't be out this fall.  I have realized there is some more information I must gather and I'm hoping you will help me.

I have a great passion for the subject because--you guessed it--I was crushed by some people who proudly called themselves Christian.

When this happens, you really wonder if they are true believers or if they're just mouthing words that have never rooted in their hearts. It is bad enough that Christian adults wield a double-edged sword at their fellow siblings, but why would people who love each other do it? This is something that I have not been able to fathom.

Daughter to mother, son to father and the other way around young people do not have the maturity yet to know how their words, the pin pricks as my neighbor used to say turn into sword stabs. Undoubtedly, God gave parents the thick skin protectant from the pin pricks and the sword stabs so that we would never break off all relations with our children. We parents know this is something that is bound to happen; and perhaps it is because we recall with shame the swords we brandished at our own parents. We knew it would come back because of the famous mother's curse, "May you have children exactly like you!"

However, when we ravage our children or we castrate our husbands or we wrap our wives in barbed wire, we are not hurting those who have angered us as much as we are doing it to God our Father. Jesus said, "When you do it to the least of these, you do it to Me." Of course it is understood that He was talking about feeding and nurturing the flock, but how much more we should recognize that whatever we do to others we are doing it to our Lord.

That should make us pause before we lash out. It should throw cold water on our rage. But as far as I can tell, Christians seem to be turning this verse around and accusing the sibling of unfaithful actions rather than recognizing the blame resides at their own front door.

How can that be? How can self-righteous people use the Bible to slice and dice their siblings without regard to how they are slicing and dicing the Holy Spirit right along with their sibling?

It is rather auspicious to think what we say and do doesn't really matter in the long run, because if it hurts the least of these, it hurts our Father. If it causes the least of these to turn their foot from God's path it is worse than blaspheming the Holy Spirit because that makes us a stumbling block and it would be better that a millstone be tied around our necks and we be thrown into the sea. That's how Jesus felt about it. How can we be any different?

I'm hoping you will help me for this will be my thesis for my Master's in Communication.

How were you hurt by a Christian? What did you do about it? Is it resolved, yet?

How did you hurt another person while believing what you did was of God? How did you realized it wasn't? What did you do about it? Is it resolved?

If you do not want to answer here, would you please, please email me? GLburgess at gmail dot com.

Counting pennies for the missing

Back in 2007 I wrote an article for my hometown newspaper about the pennies Mississippi Baptists are collecting as a stark visual memorial to the 50 million babies aborted, they have since filled it up.

By Gina Burgess
Lifestyles Editor
In Jackson, across from the Capital, stands a bullet-proof glass case that is half full of pennies. It stands at the corner of the Baptist Building and is a Memorial to the Missing--missing babies that have been aborted since the 1973 Roe v. Wade case made abortions legal.

The case was designed to hold 50 million pennies which amounts to $500,000 and will weigh in, after it’s full, at 156 tons. That is about how much 75 elephants weigh or the same weight as Mickey’s Fantasia hat at Disney World.

“It’s not the 50 million pennies that are important,” said Jimmy Porter, executive director of the convention’s Christian Action Commission. “It’s the 50 million children.” Each penny is in memory of an aborted child.


Innovation is not actually something that is new, but the renewal or transformation of something that already exists. We look around and see innovation everywhere in our lives, even our language has innovations from earlier generations to today.

I wrote a book in the early 1980s which had no reference to cell phones, paperwork was done by hand, the internet was dial-up, and cordless phones were not widely used because any electrical storm could wipe out the phone with one lightening strike close to a phone line. Astounding how the inventions of yesteryear have been innovated to more powerful, smaller, and exponentially faster than lightening household necessities.

How did I report the news without a laptop? How did I capture sports-action photos without a digital camera? How much easier it is today not having to have a light meter, or having to use chemicals to develop film and photos. There is something nice about that, but there is something rather missing today.

I recall being in the darkroom and talking to God about the people in the photographs, I remember submitting a photo and several people ooing and ahing over the almost incredible shot... or tisking because of the missed shot. I also wonder if that photo that is worldwide famous of the soldiers and marines who raised the flag over Iwo Jima would have been as perfect if taken with a digital camera. Would the photo journalist have been as precise with a smaller camera, or would the angle have been as perfect if his camera didn't need to be positioned perfectly on the rocky hill top, especially with the wind so fierce?

We take for granted our contraptions of today and get into such a frenzy if something takes longer than 30 seconds to finish heating or to turn green or what have you. Are we in too much of a rush today to enjoy a breezy, sunny afternoon doing nothing but sitting on the porch peeling an apple and listening to children laugh and play?

Have we lost the art of thinking? Where did imagination go? One could say it never left because we have all these wonderful inventions like motorized tooth brushes and microchips that let you know when your tire is going flat--but only if they are put in correctly. My microchip told me that my right front tire had only six pounds of pressure. I checked it and put air in it and checked it but nothing was wrong with it, the problem was with my right back tire. Why do we trust the microchips instead of our eyes and our ears? I still think our children are growing up without as much imagination as we had when we were children, and we didn't have as much imagination as our parents did when they were children.

When my father was a little boy he carried around a stick in his pocket. The stick was named Little Boy and he was a soldier, or a cowboy, or whom ever my father wanted to play with at the time. None of those eight children who were his siblings were ever bored. Whenever I told my mom I was bored, she thought of a gazillion chores for me to do. By the time she quit listing, I was out the door and down the street saying, "I'm not bored, and I'll never be bored again!" I gave my own children the same courtesy, and they rarely said they didn't have anything to do or that they were bored.

It is too easy to look something up on the internet, and search engines are so precise these days that there are very few side paths that can distract us from the goal at hand. Ten years ago, searching for information on the net was an adventure and I could get sidetracked so easily because I'd see something I'd want to know more about and follow the link. Today the only place I can get sidetracked like that is in my Bible study. It's an adventure to study through word searches and use lexicons. For those things I shall be eternally grateful for the innovations from man's imagination.

The idea of innovations as a post subject came from John Saddington who lives at Tentblogger 

Amazing what fog exposes

I took this photograph a long time ago just before Thanksgiving after praying for God to please give me a delight to print in my newspaper as a holiday special. This would have been a beautiful photo on a crystal clear morning or noon, but not nearly as interesting as on this foggy morning.

I've looked at the photo everyday, through three computer changes and I still find things I haven't noticed before. Such as today, I noticed a second house on the hill. Why had I never noticed that before?

The trouble we humans have is we see the fog of daily living without bothering to look through the fog. We see the abrupt sales clerk and take offense without thinking she may have had some really bad news. We take the honking horn behind us as an affront without thinking that person may be in an emergency.

Of course, the clerk may just be in a bad mood or be that way all the time. The honking horn may be an indication that that person in traffic behind is just blowing impatience all over those around him. But, what if...


When I have a chance to brag about God and how He works, that just makes my heart sing. You just can’t outdo God. He has taught me so much through my prayers and his answers to my prayers.
But it didn’t come through some mysterious blast of supernatural knowledge. He has taught me over many years through our conversations and through how He has worked in my life, constantly striving to make me perfect.
He started very early on when I was old enough to understand what He was doing, and mature enough to want to understand more. He had answered many prayers of mine when I was a child, you know those selfish prayers like “Oh, please God let me get this and such for Christmas!” Or “Please God, I studied for this test, help me get an A.”
God taught me about obedience to His commands…
One day my youth pastor’s wife asked me to teach her young boys how to swim. I was a lifeguard at our club pool and had been giving lessons at the Y because I was a certified water safety instructor. So, I told her of course I’d teach them. I picked them up one afternoon and took them to the bayou where everyone cooled off from the summer heat. Those little fish didn’t need lessons. They were naturals. So, we played for a couple of hours and I took them home, refusing the pay she offered me because you lose your WSI certification if you take payment.
Babysitting for the little girl and baby next door kept me in extra funds. My sister didn’t like babysitting so I got all that kind of work. Plus we cleaned house for Mom and received money every two weeks for that. So I tithed regularly. It was never a question for me. I knew it was something God had said we must do, and Jesus had promised that God would care for me more than the flowers of the field, and to never worry where my basic needs would come because He loved me. I knew it, but it was more head knowledge for me because I was so young.
The next Sunday morning it was time for my tithe and all I had was a five-dollar bill. I checked with everyone to see if they had change so I could tuck my two-dollar tithe in the envelope. No one had change, there was nothing in my hidey-hole where I kept my emergency money. So, I held up that envelope and prayed, “LORD, please take this five dollars, take what you need and give me back the rest.” I fully expected Him to keep the whole five dollars, hadn’t a clue how He could give me back anything because the likelihood of three dollars coming my way was slim followed by nil. My reasoning was that whatever money came my way would be tithed anyway. I don’t know what I was thinking. I certainly wasn’t testing God, although I really meant what I prayed.
Between Sunday school and church service, Mrs. Ford called out to me on the breezeway.
“Gina, I just don’t feel right that you taught my boys and I didn’t pay you.” All the while she was digging in her purse. I tried to be kind, but insistent that I couldn’t take any money, wouldn’t take any. The crucial thing for me was to keep my certification so I could work as a lifeguard again. Then she pulled out some money and thrust it in my hand. I pushed it back to her. She said, “All I have right now is three dollars, but I’ll give you more later. Please, just call it babysitting money.”
Three dollars? My mind spun around. Three dollars! LORD God, You are a fast worker! I graciously smiled and turned toward the sanctuary, a prayer of thanksgiving on my lips that God had heard and quickly responded to me, that He had considered me worthy of an answer, but more importantly He had given me a testimony of tithing that has impacted my entire life!
He has taught me humbleness…
God has a great sense of humor and doesn’t mind using it to teach me lessons. I love it when He does. About six months after I was terminated from my economic development job  with the local parish government in Louisiana, I was walking in the backyard just full of myself and the things I had done. I had a moment of temporary insanity, forgetting how I had been praying so intently that He help me get those twelve goals accomplished that I had ambitiously set. I was telling God how important I was to the local parish government in Louisiana, what a great thing He did by giving me that job, how without me all that grant money I brought in to do all this good work would never have been awarded, and I lifted my hands to Heaven and actually said—“God, just how much do You think all my work in this parish is worth?” I paused for a moment, then put my hand in my pockets and glanced down. At my feet was a shiny new quarter. All my work was only worth about two bits!
He has taught me to wait on Him because He knows best…
I was on my way across town to help my daughter pack up some things to move. It was a blistering July day and my car had no air conditioning. God and I had been having this ongoing conversation about getting the air conditioning fixed because it had been broken since April. Once again I was talking to God about it. I asked God if it were possible to please just let me sell come cemetery property so I’d get the eight hundred dollars it would take to fix the air conditioning. I reminded Him that I should get to my appointments cool as a cucumber. He reminded me that my appointments were at night when it was cool. I reminded him that I had places to go and things to do during the day time, too, and this summer was particularly hot. He pointed out that this July had been markedly cooler than last July.
I ended my prayer with, “But, I’d like to get from point A to point B cool and refreshed and not smelling like a horse!” He was quiet for a moment. The light turned green and I turned the corner heading to my daughter’s apartment when suddenly, my large thirty-two ounce glass of ice water tipped over into my lap. Oh, yes, I arrived very cool and very refreshed. I laughed all the way to the apartment. I can’t think of anything sweeter than sitting in His lap and laughing together!
Just two short months later, my daughter had just dropped me off at work then my A/C-less Ford Thunderbird had a crushing encounter with a Ford Explorer. My Thunderbird was about the size of a Mustang after that. God knew that encounter was coming, so He kept me from pouring eight hundred hard-earned dollars into that car which would have been a waste.
Those are just a few of the many times God has taught me great life lessons through prayer. He taught me lessons about being on time when He gave me grace for being late to an extremely important meeting by turning every light green just before I got to it. He’s held time still for me, I kid you not, I got to a meeting inside of two minutes on a trip that should have taken at least 15 minutes. He has covered me with His gentle hand when I was devastated by rejection. He has given me employment and He has taken employment away, all for my protection, to keep me from the clutches of Satan or to send me on to my next ministry. That is a story that will have to wait to another day.
Prayer works, or Power of prayer, or prayer power, are misnomers. They imply that the one responsible is the one praying. God is the power and majesty in what goes on here on earth. God taught me that when He taught me humility.
David Jeremiah once said that prayer is what draws us into God’s will and His plan both for us and for others. That was an astounding lesson for me. The power is God and prayer plugs us into that power. So it should be prayerworks, not prayer works! The workings between God and His children is the relationship that God established reconciling us to Him through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice. Prayer is our recognition of that relationship and His omnipotence, as well as our submission to His divine will. Prayer is that testimony we exhibit everyday when we verbally trust Him. We know we are settled in His will when we are Prayed up by being Adored up, Confessed up, Thanked up, then we can Ask up a storm to the only One who can make it happen.
That term has got me to thinking. Actually, it was God who was getting me to thinking. He was telling me that It is He that works, He that has the power, He that answers prayer. All we do is align ourselves with His will through His word.
Prayer power has that connotation that the person praying is doing the work, like the mere lifting up of a prayer is the work which plugs the power into the request. Perhaps I'm reading too much into this, but I was amazed when I asked God to recall to me those times He has answered my prayer. I was engulfed with the pretty as well as the ugly of my life. His constant tending to my business has made me more aware of how much He does.
Let me lift up my voice and heart in praise. Let me understand Your ways, teach me them, Lord. Help me to bring you glory and honor. Help me to know the power of the wicked is but straw, easily burned and the ashes spread by the wind of Your breath. Thank you, God for so many blessings they cannot be counted in a single day. I rejoice in You. I give thanks for Your Son. I praise your Holy Name for yours is the power, yours is the kingdom, yours is the glory forever and ever amen.

Shout out with praise!

Shout out with praise
To the LORD on His Throne!
Sing with me all the earth,
For He set me Free.

He unlocked the shackles
He unwound the chains
I am Free.

He filled the darkness with Light
Fear fled, demons tremble.
I am Free!

He bent down to lift me up.
He put the chains and shackles on my foes.
But, I…I am Free!

It was I that caused His great pain, you see.
It was for me that He stuck to that tree.
It was I that raced down that path of ruin,
That pursued the pitiful gain.
Yet, His love swelled greater than oceans
His love reached past the universe
He counted the cost
and found it worthy
to set me Free yes, even me, to set me Free

The babies’ breath is on His cheek…
My tears have rolled down His fingers…
Yet the universe is too small for His shoulders.
He cared enough to set me Free.

Shout ye people of the earth.
Sing hosannas to reach the stars.
Sing with me and praise His name for
He paid the price to set us Free!

Can you follow directions?

Ever notice the directions on products? Some of them are quite humorous, such as “do not operate this hair dryer when sleeping.” Really? Visions of women lying in bed with their blow dryer grasped in a white-knuckled grip trip through my mind. Another favorite is the peanut package on airplanes which says, “Open packet. Eat nuts.” I guess that is for those who would rather slip the packet into their purse and smuggle it off the plane. Found on a Korean kitchen knife, “Keep out of children;” on a batman costume, “This cape does not enable user to fly;” on a shampoo bottle, “Use repeatedly for severe damage.”
When the directions make sense to us, we use them as guidelines to use the product or put together the object we’ve purchased. I know several men who’ve said, “Don’t read me the directions, I can mess this up all by myself.” They were alluding to the fact that most directions found in something that must be put together by the purchaser are often difficult to decipher. One usually needs some sort of class in instructions-ese to understand how this part A really does fit in part B and is enclosed by part Z. So what good are directions that make no sense? Maybe a chuckle or two.
We have societal “understandings” like no burping or nose cleaning in public, we have basic work ethics, and we have laws of the land that require certain behaviors toward others such as paying our bills and obeying traffic signals and signs. These are established as directional guides of society so that people will go in generally the same direction. Of course, common criminals travel against the flow. Sometimes godly people travel against the flow because they’ve lost their GPS or compass.
I wrote a column Shake Well Before Using which points out we have a choice in our direction. Our choices, which stem from our God-given free will, determine the path we trod. When we deliberately decide to follow the footprints of Jesus, and allow Him to carry us when the load becomes too heavy, then our path is well-lighted so we can clearly see the stumbling blocks Satan tosses in our way. We have support, relief, and supernatural wisdom which are our birthright through Jesus. 

Even so, some godly people are drawn toward the world’s siren song. Some tread down side paths because they have lost sight of the ultimate purpose. Never fear, God won’t leave them on the wrong path. He has determined a plan for their life and side trips are the way for believers to learn lessons the hard way, rather than the easy way. These unwise choices result in  pitfalls and potholes that could so easily be avoided if the Lamp of God had been used.
A somewhat famous actor on TV back in the 1970s and early 1980s did not use that Lamp I'm talking about. You might know him better as the husband of Mary Ann Mobley (1937-2014), a former Miss America from Mississippi. His name was Gary Collins (1938-2012), quite a handsome fellow, distinguished-looking, and successful in his own right. He was in the series The Sixth Sense, and had guest appearances on shows like Jag, Hollywood Squares, and even on a Perry Mason Mystery.  

However, in 2007 he walked out of a Biloxi, MS restaurant without paying his $59 bill according to a news article from several years ago, which is a felony in the state of Mississippi. The article reads like a litany of all his brushes with the law. An updated report states Collins told the police he had ordered dinner, and the kitchen was taking too long to bring his steak. He was drinking alcoholic beverages and he was afraid he'd be too drunk to drive home so he left. He had two previous drunk driving convictions, so I can understand his dilemma. Yet, he should have paid for the drinks and canceled his order.
It would be just another actor/police story if I didn’t remember an interview from decades ago.
I remember watching a talk show hosted by Dinah Shore one summer morning with guests Mary Ann Mobley and Gary Collins who had just gotten married in November, 1967. During the interview, they both expressed how blessed by God they were  to have found each other and discussed how being Christian in Hollywood affected their careers. I know, I can hear someone asking, “How in the world can you remember that from so long ago?”
I was thirteen years old, and I had aspirations of being Miss America. I thought Miss America was the most fabulous woman on earth at that time. Furthermore, I carefully watched  those actors who professed Jesus (and there weren’t that many, in fact there still aren't that many). 
What is extraordinarily sad is I can’t find any reference to that interview anywhere. After extensive research, I found a quote by Mary Ann about growing up in the church and feeling strongly about it. I also found out that she bought chimes for her church, Brandon Methodist Church, with her first check as an entertainer as well as that is where the couple got married. She made the mustard seed necklace famous, and often quoted Luke 17:6 when talking to the press. She and Gary were married until he died in 2012 (45 years). That is certainly an achievement. 
This just illustrates that bad choices and bad decisions are not the property of fools, idiots, and unbelievers. Only Jesus never made a bad choice or decision. Peter said, “Don’t wash my feet, Lord.” The disciples deserted Jesus in His hour of need. David watched a woman bathe. Solomon married foreign wives and had 1,000 women in his household. Rehoboam listened to the young kids on the block rather than the wise old sages.  These weren’t the smartest decisions made by believers and they certainly weren’t the last. The world is full of people who have made, and will make unwise choices.
Of one thing I’m absolutely sure: No matter how bad the choice or the consequences, God gives us the opportunity to humble ourselves in His presence and to turn away from the dark path back to the lighted one. Sometimes, God will even pick us up when we’ve reached the dead end and put us back on track. The key is recognizing when we’ve made a wrong turn, accepting the consequences of that decision, and following the directions for the best product available under Heaven which is the Christian lifestyle.