The Preacher/Teacher

  Before I get too deep into this Blog, I must say two things. (1.) I will never have Steve Higginbotham for another class at  the Southeast Institute of Biblical Studies, and (2.) I do not go to the Karns Church. Therefore, I have nothing to gain by this blog. I am not, “sucking up” nor am I trying to improve any grades. The purpose of this blog is simply gratitude and admiration. For you see, outside of Bob Cowles, (who I have known for 14 years) no one has yet to influence my Christian growth as much as Steve.

Steve was an enigma to me when I first met him. He is indeed a “Gentle Giant.” The various characteristics that make up Steve’s personality are stark contrasts. You have a man who is very, “cutting edge” in technology and very “tech savvy,” but at the same time he loves old things and his favorite TV show is from the 60’s and is idealistically set in the 1930’s. Steve reached out to each of us on Facebook before anyone else, and the night before orientation, tagged some very nervous students, in a video of Barney Fife deputizing Otis, Goober, and Judd. I don’t have to tell you how much this put me at ease.

Once the second quarter came we had Steve for our first class. (Acts) He taught us about the beginning of the Church. Then in quarter three, he taught us about how to write and deliver a Sermon. We finished last year doing a class called, “Marriage and the Family.” This was the most useful class I have had during my time at school. The challenges that I will undertake regarding family issues will be great, but due to this class, I am prepared. Finally, this quarter, we had our last class called, “A preacher and his work.”  Each class we took with Steve was useful and of the utmost importance.  He always taught us with grace and humility. He taught us in a way that we laughed while we learned.  His door was ALWAYS open to us and each and every student felt they had a kind ear when they had an issue. Whether it be a family problem, or a conflict between brothers, Steve was always helpful. Sometimes that just consisted of him listening.  For helping me get through my first year, I will always be grateful to him.

There are many fine teachers and preachers at SEIBS, but if the world as a whole had more Steve Higginbothams, I think people would Like school more, Learn more, Laugh more, and Love more. Thanks Steve for everything!  (By the way Steve, this is over 350 characters and you can’t take points off!!! Oh and don’t even try grading me on my comma’s, it is a work in progress!)

Stand or Kneel?

When something captivates the nation’s attention and everyone is talking about it, our job as preachers is to try to explain what that subject means to us as Christians. So, what does a group of athletes refusing to stand for the National Anthem and place their hand over their hearts have to do with us? I think for many of us it boils down to respect. Respect for our nation and respect for the sacrifice of people who have fought and died for your right to protest. Also, when simplified to its purest form, these men are paid millions of dollars to play a game for a living. This is their job. If I protested on my job, I would be fired. Nevertheless, we, the people, buy tickets to see them play. We, the people, buy cable packages. We, the people, buy the shirts and hats. But no more… I am finished due to the inconsiderate actions of those in the NFL.  That part is easy, here is where it gets murky. As Christians, do we allow this subject to be addressed or talked about during worship? I think the answer to this question is no. You see, as much as I am a patriot, and as much as I love my country, I love my God more. So, I will leave this subject out of my sermons because I will keep my eye on the higher calling. Just like Simon the Zealot and Matthew the Tax collector probably disagreed on most everything politically, they worked together for the greater cause.  As Christians, we can state what we believe, but the cause of Christ should always win out. Each of us must evaluate our own positions and pray about them. We must try and determine if our positions are Biblical.  For me, I will always place my hand over my heart. I will always stand for the anthem, but most importantly I will kneel at the Cross!

Saying Goodbye…

 Today my son had to say goodbye to his dog of almost 9 years. We loved him very much, and he was a very good boy. “God created all animals and gave man dominion over them,” Genesis 1:26 says. “Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.'” Our dog Dexter was more to us than just a pet. He was a friend. He used to go into my son’s room at night, when he was little, and check on him. If Billy and I were wrestling, the dog would take sides, and it was not mine! Dexter never hurt anyone, but I have no doubt if anyone would have messed with “his boy,” he would have defended him to the death.  But as time marches on, Dexter got old and life started to become difficult. So today we had to say goodbye. I am going to miss his beautiful eyes, his sweet wagging tail, and I no longer have a way to dispose of the crust on my toast. When we adopted him from Young Williams, he weighed 35 pounds. Today he weighed in at 109! Much like his master, he always enjoyed eating. Dexter was the epitome of why God gave us animals. He served his family well and we took care of him in return. He was a good boy, and he will be missed.  We will meet him now only in memory… and we have some wonderful memories. 

The Man Who Beat Hitler

Personal responsibility… it is almost a taboo subject today. Our failures seem to be someone else’s fault. No one wants to take ownership.  However, it wasn’t always that way. On June 6th, 1944, the largest amphibious assault in the history of mankind took place. The fighting was fierce that day and many men were killed. The men who stormed those beaches at Normandy that morning are the champions who helped free a continent. They are the heroes who helped end a war.  However, victory was not a certainty. Leading up to the day of the invasion, allied leaders were unsure about the weather conditions for landing and they were unsure about the success of the mission. The decision of whether to launch the attack (and its success) rested on the shoulders of one man.

General Dwight David Eisenhower (A West Point Graduate) was the man carrying the weight of the world. He was the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe. He had been involved in almost every aspect of the war in Europe and Africa for the entire duration. He knew the importance of the invasion. Nothing less than life and liberty were at stake. Eisenhower did not shirk his responsibility. On June 5th, 1944, he penned a letter stating, “My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air, and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt, it is mine alone.” Had the landing failed, his career would have been over. Yet he never once tried to deflect the blame.

The Bible tells us in Galatians 6:4-5, “But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.”  We are all going to be held accountable (or responsible) for our own actions or inactivity. We might be able to deflect responsibility in this life,  but we will surely answer for everything in the next.

 

Hail Mary?!

  When I was a young man, there were no professional football teams in Tennessee. So, you had to just pick a team and go with them. Because the Cowboys played on Thanksgiving and I liked their uniforms… I picked them. Well, I stuck with them. So much so that I used to go to the small video store up the street and rent tapes of old Super Bowls. My favorite player quickly became Roger Staubach. He was a Navy Man who finished his service to his country before going to the Cowboys. He could run like the wind blew and had a great arm as well.  He was number 12 on “America’s team!” As I got older (and a little wiser) I have still remained a Dallas fan but,  I have learned that Roger and I see things differently.  You see during a game against the Vikings on December 28, 1975, Roger coined the term, “Hail Mary.”  Staubach’s Cowboys were behind when he threw a last second touchdown pass to Wide Receiver Drew Pearson. In the post game interview  Staubach said, “I closed my eyes and said a Hail Mary. ”  Staubach you see is a staunch Roman Catholic .  Aside from the fact that God does not intervene in football games, praying to “Mary” is about as useful as praying to a stone idol. The actually Hail Mary prayer came into use in the middle of the twelfth century. (At the time of Catholic indulgences and other sins) It is not Biblical whatsoever.  Mary was a person. Granted she was a special person but, she is not divinity. She sinned as well and needed a savior. She said so herself. (Luke 1:47)  Mary herself knew her role and the role of her son.  So, Roger and I part ways on this.  I must admit up until this point I have always called it a, ” Hail Mary.” Perhaps we should go back to calling it an, “Alley-Oop.”

John, Simon, Peter, and Leroy?

This is a Hex Bug. My son has several of them.  He even has a little city for them that he got for Christmas about two years ago. They are little insect size robots that vibrate really fast and therefore mimic the movement of a bug. They come in multiple colors and have there own distinct features. So my son starting naming all of them. He held up the first one and said, “His name is John.” Which kind of made me laugh because Zachariah wrote the same thing after being struck mute for nine months. (Luke 1:63)  Then he held up the next and said, “Simon.” Then there was, “Peter.”  His mother and I were beaming with pride. We saw a theme starting to form. Then he held up the next one and said, “This is Leroy.”  Yes…. Leroy. We asked him why he stopped with the theme of the apostles and he informed me that he did not have 12 hex bugs so he needed to go a different route.  I later found out there was a Jack and a Neyland. (Yes, he was Orange, and I was proud) Still, I am proud that my son knows (most) of the Apostles’ names. It is so very, very important that we raise our kids in the way of the Lord. (Proverbs 22:6) We live in a harsh world with harsh realities. It is crucial that we give our kids a strong foundation so that they may be prepared to handle whatever the world throws their way. Even if his name is Leroy…..

Be Sure Your Sins Will Find You Out

Sin can be committed under the darkness of night. Sin can be hidden from the public eye. People can hide under hoods and masks to disguise their identities when carrying out acts of violence under the cover of darkness. Or they can put hate and ignorance on display like they did in Charlottesville and think there are no repercussions. But as sure as the Lord lives, “be sure your sins will find you out!” (Numbers 32:23) You cannot hide from God.  Hate is sin. You cannot enter into heaven with hate in your heart. Hate consumes us, ages us, makes our souls sick. So with no motive involved and no politics either,  I urge people to pray to the Lord for peace. Purge hate from your heart for your fellow man, for we all made in the image of an almighty God. God Bless~ J. Pratt

David, a man after God’s own heart??

   When looking at the life of King David, one can see all the faults the man had. He was by no means perfect. He committed some terrible sins. He was a warrior King that spilled much blood. More so, he took Uriah the Hittite’s (his friend) wife and committed adultery with her, and then carried out his death to cover his wicked actions. When looking at this point in David’s life one might question: How was this a man after God’s own heart?

When the Prophet of the Lord Nathan came to David to confront him with his sin that he thought he had hidden, he did so in a way that David would realize just how horrific his actions were. David realizes his sin but Nathan still tells him that because of his actions against the Lord the child that was born from this sin will die. The Prophet Nathan is not only “the messenger” of bad news but he is calling out the King’s most personal and hidden transgressions.  David accepts the words of Nathan with much sorrow and does everything he can to beg the Lord to take this punishment away and save his child. His efforts were futile and his child dies. This is one of the lowest points in the life of King David.

David goes on to once again “walk in the light” and has more children with Bathsheba but, what about his relationship with the man who brought him the words of the Lord regarding his sin and his punishment? Many people would resent and hate Nathan but not David.  What does David names his fourth son???….  Nathan. This example of forgiveness and love is indeed one of the many reasons why David is a man after God’s own heart.