Southside's Blog

Southside is a loving, vigorous, and growing congregation in Shelbyville, Tennessee. Our vision is toward the future: Our Children, Our Ministry, and Our Outreach. Our goal is to embrace all people in our hearts and fellowship as we strive together to support Christ’s mission on earth.

Do You Know What You'll Do This Summer?

Ah, Summer! For some folks, it means a break from school or work. For some folks, it might mean more work. If you like warmer weather, it is great for you. If you like cooler weather, not so much. No matter your circumstances or your thoughts about Summer, it passes quicker than we imagine. So, the question is "Do you know what you'll do this Summer?"

If you check out our church's home page, you will see that we have some wonderful Summertime activities for you to be involved in and we welcome you to join in with us. These are opportunities to grow in your knowledge of Jesus Christ and to learn more about how to follow Him.

Here are a few more suggestions for how to spend the Summer:

  • Read the New Testament all the way through at least once.
  • Read the Gospel of John every week.
  • Start a prayer journal with four headings: Adoration, Confession, Supplication (asking God to supply your needs), and Thanksgiving.
  • Spend 15 minutes alone with God every day by yourself (and put that phone away).
  • Make a short visit to someone who needs encouragement.
  • Write those notes of encouragement to people that you have been waiting to have time to do.
  • Go through your stuff and give away the good things that someone else can use that you never use yourself.
  • Make your own list of suggestions.

Thank you for reading! We would love to have you come to see us at Southside this Summer!

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4 Spiritual Practices for Continued Growth

This past Sunday at Southside we celebrated our high school graduates. We gave them gifts and honored them with a meal. They are outstanding young people.

I preached a sermon directed at them primarily, but as I told the congregation, it was meant for all of us and the things I discussed should be modeled by all of us. I will list them again here:

  1. Consistent Silence and Solitude with God. Just as Jesus did, we need to spend time with God alone. Even 15 undistracted minutes a day to sit with God in peace and stillness, or take a walk in nature to take in some of the sights, smells, etc. He has created will help calm the bombardment of our senses from the things around us.
  2. Contemplative Bible Reading. Reading the Bible every day is absolutely crucial for our spiritual health, but also for our emotional, mental, and physical health. It also helps us to clearly discern right from wrong, teaches us how to treat other people, and how to live righteous lives that bring glory and honor to God. Reading the Bible not just for knowledge but for transformation by meditating on what God says is vital for our continued growth.
  3. Conversational Prayer.  Jesus' disciples listened to the formal prayers of the Scribes and Pharisees which were more presentations than conversations. They asked Jesus to teach them to pray. Jesus modeled for them and us, in all of His recorded prayers, a conversational tone with the Father. God wants us to talk with Him and not make presentations to Him. 
  4. Challenging Relationships with Mature Christians.  We were not meant to live life alone without any companions. Jesus sent His disciples out 2 by 2 to preach and teach because He knew discouragement and doubt arise when we feel alone. I have experienced it personally, and you may have too. Scripture is very clear that we must have an ongoing connection to the Church through relationships with folks who have a mature and growing faith in Jesus. These relationships should be with Christians our own age, but also with those who are much older and wiser than us.

I hope you will join with me to follow these daily practices so you will grow in your relationship with Jesus Christ, and make a difference in the world for Him!

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You and Every Other Person Matter to God

Some people think God only wants to punish them when they do wrong. People outside of a relationship with Jesus Christ do not learn from the Bible that God wants to send them to hell and punish them. In fact, the opposite is true. God loves everyone and wants everyone to be saved from their sins and have a lasting friendship with Him.

This is what Jesus says in John 3:16-17:

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him."

God is not interested in judgment and condemnation as much as He is in salvation. People matter to God!

We see in John 4 in the story of the woman at the well in Samaria that Jesus is interested in people who have made life-altering choices and find themselves in situations that seem beyond hope of salvation. When His disciples returned and saw Him talking to this woman who was an outcast in her own village He was not concerned with what anyone thought of Him. His concern was for this lonely woman who was caught up in sin.

In Matthew 9:9-13, Jesus is criticized by the Scribes and Pharisees (who were the religious leaders of the time) for eating with sinful people. His response when he heard this criticism was:  "It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners". 

  • Jesus went to sinners.
  • Jesus dined with sinners.
  • Jesus humbled himself.

The apostle Paul writes these words in Romans 5:6-8:

"For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for a good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

You matter to God. He loves you and He wants a forever friendship with you. 

Please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you want to talk about it. I would love to have a conversation with you.



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3 Essential Truths about Jesus Christ

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11, NASB 1995)

1. Jesus Christ is Divine (He is God).

  • John 1:14, 18
  • John 10:30
  • Hebrews 1:1-3

2. Jesus Christ Became a Man.

  • John 1:14
  • 1 John 1:1
  • Hebrews 4:15
  • Matthew 4:4

3. Jesus Christ Became Sin for Us.

  • 1 John 2:2
  • 2 Corinthians 5:21

Jesus left heaven, came to earth to live like us, and He went to His death on a cruel Roman cross, and He was raised 3 days later. He is worthy of our worship and worthy of our lives!


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Observations from a Yard Sale

It has been several years since our family had a yard sale, but as we prepare to move to Shelbyville in the next few months, we decided to clear out some things that we do not need so others could use them.

Like coming to worship at church, people approach coming to a yard sale in different ways. Some folks come for a bargain and do not know what they are looking for in particular. Some people come to find something to resell themselves and they limit the conversation. Some folks are looking for a specific item or type of items like tools or baby clothes. There are some who see it as a recreational outing. (Not all of these are exactly like going to church, but I think you understand the point.)

What struck me the most about our yard sale was the number of very lengthy and personal conversations that I had with a few people. Two specific observations I made are: some folks are desperate to just talk and visit with someone, and some people are hurting, and they are looking (perhaps without knowing it) for someone to just listen to them talk about what is dominating their life.

We should be good listeners, taking the time to let people talk, whether it is simply to connect with another human being or to give someone an ear to vent their burdens. This is one way we can follow Jesus.

Galatians 6:2 -- "Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ."


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All Nationalities Matter to God

I attended an FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) International Day at my daughter's high school this morning. The Bible was read in English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish. A song was sung in English, French, German, and Spanish. There was a speaker from the UK and a speaker from Benin (West Africa). The primary passage that was read in the different languages was Psalm 117:

"Praise the Lord, all nations; Laud Him, all peoples! For His lovingkindness is great toward us, And the truth of the Lord is everlasting. Praise the Lord!"

The 40 to 50 young people who got up extra early to attend this meeting this morning understand the meaning of this Psalm, and the words of Jesus in the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20. All people matter to Jesus. No matter our ethnicity or nationality, Jesus gave His life for all of us.




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He is Risen. He is Risen Indeed.

In the early centuries after the Church was established, it was a common practice for the followers of Jesus to greet one another to affirm the core event of Christianity. It would go something like this: "He is Risen" with the response being, "He is risen indeed."

Why such a greeting and such a response? I do not know all of the reasons or the details, but I do believe it was to affirm Jesus' Resurrection and to connect with each other through Jesus' conquering death. Many of these early Christians faced persecution that led to death and this was a way to encourage each other to face the uncertain future with the certainty that Jesus had conquered death!

So much of our lives as Christians are based on the truth that Jesus is risen, that He is risen indeed! Let us embrace this truth and help the world to know how much Jesus has done for us.



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Seeking Jesus

Nearly 30 years ago I had a young professor for a course called Johannine Literature I. That is a really formal academic way of saying, The Gospel of John. 

Since my professor was young, and a friend of one of my older brothers, I thought he would approach the class in a really showy way to prove he knew a lot and that he was well-educated. The opposite was the case, however. He was humble and he wanted more than anything to point us to Jesus. It was life-changing, even for someone like me, who was already in ministry and had a college degree in Bible. In fact, it was especially life-changing for me because it caused me to focus on Who I was serving as a minister and why I had chosen to follow Him.

I do not remember everything about the class. What I do remember, and why it was so impactful, was that we were to read through the entire Gospel of John every single week and be prepared to share something new we had learned the next time class came around. At first, I thought, "I will run out of things". After reading through it 3 or 4 times, I had trouble picking just one thing to share. 

More than anything, I was left with the profound truth that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. There is no one else like Him. He loves me. He died for me. He lives for me still, interceding for me before the Father. He is my Lord!

When someone asks me about Jesus and questions how to know Him, I suggest reading through the Gospel of John over and over again in a translation they can understand. If they take me up on the challenge they will surely come to love Jesus and be in awe of Him.

Are you seeking Jesus? Do you want to know Him? Do you want to know Him better? Try reading through John or one of the other Gospels every week for several weeks, then let's talk. I love to talk about Jesus and I feel confident you will also.



This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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A Prayer Reflection of Psalm 2

I like to read short passages of Scripture, meditate on them, and then use them as a guide to pray. The Psalms are some of my favorite Scriptures to meditate upon and use as guides for reflective prayer. Today's post is a prayer reflection of Psalm 2.

"Why are the nations in an uproar

And the peoples devising a vain thing?

The kings of the earth take their stand

And the rulers counsel together

Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying,

'Let us tear their fetters apart

And cast away their cords from us!'

He who sits in the heavens laughs, 

The LORD scoffs at them.

Then He will speak to them in His anger

And terrify them in His fury, saying,

'But as for Me, I have installed

My King upon Zion, My Holy Mountain.'

'I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD:

He said to me, 'You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.'

'Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, 

And the very ends of the earth as Your possession.

'You shall break them with a rod of iron,

You shall shatter them like earthenware.'

Now, therefore, O kings, show discernment;

Take warning, O judges of the earth.

Worship the LORD with reverence

And rejoice with trembling.

Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, 

For His wrath may soon be kindled. 

How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!" 

Psalm 2:1-12

O  God, the people and leaders of the nations of earth stand in opposition to You with their selfish intentions, but You just laugh at all of it and move ahead with Your plans to exalt the true King, Jesus.

You have already given all the nations to Jesus as His inheritance. He is the Rock that will shatter every empire and every nation until all of them are but dust.

I pray that You will turn the hearts of the leaders of this world toward You so they will humble themselves and worship You and You alone in reverence and awe. May they cease rejoicing in their accomplishments and revel only in Your glorious deeds.

I beg for mercy, O Lord, for all of humankind that all will repent of selfishness, wickedness, and laziness and serve and worship You.

For those of us who take refuge in the shadow of Your wings, we give You sincere praise from the bottom of our souls. You are the Holy One and we rest ourselves in You!



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An Introduction and A Thank You

Greetings to you and thank you for reading this post. My name is Tim Gunnells and I am the new minister for the Southside church. I am looking forward to posting on this blog site on a regular basis.

I want to thank Mike Clement for his faithfulness in posting encouraging articles for such a long time. I have enjoyed reading many of the things that he has posted over the last several months. While he is taking a much-needed hiatus, as he mentioned in his last post, he is not going anywhere. He will be contributing again in the future and together we plan to involve others as guest writers to add to our voices.

I will do my best to post at least weekly. My posts will be brief. They will be primarily intended for encouragement for anyone who stumbles onto the blog, but occasionally there might be some special attention given to Southside. At all times, I hope to be a voice that directs you to the Word of God to help you (and me) as we journey through life together.

I hope you will subscribe to this blog so you will see all of our posts. We promise not to take much of your time and give you a boost to your day every time you read.

May God bless you today and every day!



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Good afternoon!

I discussed my need for a sabbatical from the blog with the elders this past fall. The decision was made to wait until our new minister was on board. I'm very pleased to announce that Tim Gunnells is the new minister at Southside. Tim and his family will transition to Shelbyville over the next few months. He has agreed to post his thoughts on the blog giving me a rest. In actuality, you need a rest from me as well. I'm certain you will enjoy  reading his encouragement. When Tim has settled in, we plan to meet to discuss new ideas for the blog.




Some have mentioned enjoying reading Maxd Lucado's devotional.  Go to Max Lucado's website.

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Are You a Listener or Fixer?

One of my many faults is that I tend to want to fix your problem no matter what it may be. If you come to me to talk about the problem, I feel the need to fix it. I sincerely mean well but maybe the help you are looking for is someone to just listen.

I learned a valuable lessons years ago. Our son, Chad, decided that he no longer wanted to manage an antique mall. He felt that becoming a policeman or a fireman was his calling. We pushed as hard as we could towards the fireman career. Getting shot at was way to dangerous. We did not know at the time that some of the fire stations in Memphis had ten foot chain link fences with barbed wire around them to protect the fireman from the neighborhood.

Chad chose to become a fireman. He went through all the necessary training and was assigned a station. During his first week he called me early one morning to discuss a call he was on that morning. The unit was called out to a head-on car wreck. An old man in one of the vehicles had gone through the wind shield and was laying on the street. I ask about the air bag. Chad replied, “Dad he went through the air bag and the wind shield. I was doing compressions on the man and it felt like compressing jello!” The man was actually already dead but they compress until the ambulance arrives.

My mind immediately went to “fix” mode but I had no idea what the experience called for so I just ask a few questions for clarification and listened to him. One the questions was, “Son are you ok?” He said he was and we closed the call. I felt like I failed him because I did not “fix’ the problem.

Shortly after I ran into one of his fellow fireman who had been on the job for several years. I related the experience to him. His comment was that I did good. Why? “We don’t need fixing! We just need someone to listen! We prefer not to take it home with us so you did right by Chad.”

What a lesson for a fixer who thought he needed to talk to fix the problem. I still have the urge to “fix” but that lesson has stayed with for fifteen years. What the Bible has to say:

1 Thessalonians 5:11 – “ So encourage each other and build each other up,”

Proverbs 17:28 -  “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.”

James 1:19  - “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak.”

Proverbs 18:2  - “A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.”

Without understanding it at that time I encouraged Chad by just listening. When others approach us, listen first and speak second! Make sure they want your advice before you give it..

God is really the only true fixer! Let them know that you will pray for them!


Mike  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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"There are some things we want to do but simply are not equipped to accomplish. I, for example, have the desire to sing. The problem is, I am what you might call a jailhouse singer – I never have the key, and I’m always behind a few bars. Paul gives good advice in Romans 12:3: “Have a sane estimate of your capabilities” (PHILLIPS). In other words, be aware of your strengths. When you teach, do people listen? When you lead, do people follow? Where are you most productive? Identify your strengths, and—this is important—major in them."

"We cannot meet every need in the world. We cannot please every person in the world. We cannot satisfy every request in the world. But some of us try, and in the end we run out of fuel. So have a sane estimate of your abilities and stick to them."

NIV version of Romans 12:3 -  "For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you."

This is the EVS version of Romans 12:3 –  "For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned."

From Mike: The bold sentence in Max's writing is my idea. I have aways thought that this verse was just about being conceited especially based on the faith God has granted us. There are some commentators who also follow Max's thoughts. It does not mean that any of  commentators is wrong but Max's line of thinking makes sense. BUT, do not use this line of thinking as an excuse for not serving. Do use Max's thought to choose your service wisely. 


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Meeting God in Quiet Places

F. LaGard Smith is the author of the book Meeting God in Quiet Places. It’s been a very influential book that I’ve used many times in Sunday school and in writings.

Mr. Smith at times has spent several months each year living in England where he authored this book. He uses his life experiences in England as references in the book. It has thirty-one chapters so I noted what seemed to be the primary message of each one. I plan to select some chapters to write what they mean to me and quote Mr. Smith. If you read the book, you might say my thought is not the main theme of that chapter. That would be okay as long as you get encouragement from his writing.

Chapter 2 he entitles “Balloons”. The theme is “Trust”. You might say the theme is “Faith”. Both are correct because you must have faith to trust. The Cotswold area of England is frequently very busy with hot air balloons. It’s a beautiful site and he even envies those who ride in them because of the beauty. He admits to mixed feelings about riding in one. His comment, “You can never be totally in control”. His thought is that while up there you must trust the pilot and he in turn is dependent on the winds and currents over which he has no control.  

Mr. Smith refers to Thomas, the doubter, because he had to see the nail scars on Jesus’ hands before he would trust that Jesus was who He claimed to be. He writes:

“From my youth I have happily committed my trust to an unseen God. Even now, in most cases, I truly am a willing passenger.  As so far as the flight has been, if not always smooth, at least accompanied by an abiding sense of security. Over the years, I have been through storm and calm, through ups and downs; through the heartache of broken relationships, the passing of loved ones, the tears of defeat, the fear of loneliness and the discouragement of my own fallibility. But somehow I kept flying. Somehow He lifts me higher. In the safety of His gracious providence He carries me over the rough times and shares with me the joys of a live lived by faith.”

Mr. Smith admits that at times he can’t understand God’s way and why it has to be His way but admits his trust works out. “When I let God’s invisible power take control, I am dependent, but oddly free. I am no longer in control, yet I am safe and secure in His leading.”

He closes the chapter: “Nothing can surpass the reality that settles on us when we reach the point that with God where we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is in control. When we really know that we have nothing to fear! When we take that confident step and actually get in the basket! It is then, when we let go of everything that holds us back, that we will know true freedom. And beauty. And breathtaking heights of exhilarating joy!”

When I read encouragement like Mr. Smith’s it sounds so easy to put into practice. It’s not easy for me to let go and allow God to take total control. At times His control does not deliver that for which I prayed. These occasions require extra effort to let go and trust Him especially when the understanding is not present.                           

Meeting God in Quiet Places – F. LaGard Smith – 1992 – Harvest House Publishers – Used by permission

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"We come to Christ in an hour of deep need. We realize that all the good works in the world are puny when laid before the Perfect One, so we beg for help. We hear his voice, and we step out in fear, hoping that our little faith will be enough. And with precious, wobbly steps, we draw close to him. We stand upon his promises."

"It doesn’t make sense that we’re able to do this. We don’t claim to be worthy of such an incredible gift. When people ask how in the world we can keep our balance during such stormy times, we don’t boast. We point to the One who makes it possible. “Nothing in my hand I bring; Simply to Thy cross I cling,” we sing. “Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved,” we declare. And we never look back. May that be the anthem of your life."

From Mike: We've all had dark days. Some are going through very dark days right now. The scriptures tell us we will have dark days but there are promises made by God. Hebrews 13:5 "He will never leave us nor forsake us!!" In the darkest times get a solid hold on to God and never let go!


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Perhaps the most amazing response to God’s gift is our reluctance to accept it. We feel better if we earn it. So we create religious hoops and hop through them—making God a trainer, us his pets, and religion a circus. If only, when God smiles and says we’re saved, we’d salute him, thank him, and live like those who’ve received a gift from the commander in chief.

We seldom do that, though. To accept grace is to admit failure. We opt to impress God with how good we are rather than confessing how great he is. We dizzy ourselves with doctrine, burden ourselves with rules, think that God will smile on our efforts. He doesn’t. God’s smile is not for the healthy hiker who boasts that he made the journey alone. It is, instead, for the crippled beggar who begs God for a back on which to ride.

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MAKE A LIST - Max Lucado

Everyone likes a list. Lists are reassuring. They comfort us. To list is to understand and solve, even control. Moses brought a list down the mountain. There are lists of the gifts of the Spirit, lists of good fruit and bad. I’ve compiled a list. Some God-given, time-tested truths that define the way to navigate your life. Can I share it with you?

Here it is: When no one is watching, live as if someone is. Succeed at home first. Pray twice as much as you fret. Listen twice as much as you speak. God has forgiven you; you’d be wise to do the same. Once a week, let a child take you on a walk. Only harbor a grudge when God does. Never let the important be the victim of the trivial.

Just some ideas on my list. Why don’t you compile your own?

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A day transporting a family from one city to another is closely akin to God transporting us from our home to his. And some of life’s stormiest hours occur when the passenger and the driver disagree on what takes place during the trip. Can you imagine the chaos if a parent indulged every child’s wishes? Can you imagine the chaos if God indulged each of ours?

God’s overarching desire is that you reach that destiny. His itinerary includes stops that encourage your journey. He frowns on stops that deter you. When his sovereign plan and your earthly plan collide, a decision must be made: who’s in charge of this journey? If God must choose between your earthly satisfaction and your heavenly salvation, which do you hope he chooses? Me too.

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Jesus says in Revelation 3:20, “Here I am. I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”

The world rams at your door; Jesus taps at your door. The voices scream for your allegiance; Jesus softly and tenderly requests it. Which voice do you hear? There is never a time that Jesus is not speaking. There’s never a room so dark that the ever-present, ever-pursuing, relentlessly tender Father is not there, tapping gently on the doors of our hearts—waiting to be invited in.

Few hear his voice. Fewer still open the door. But never interpret your numbness as his absence. He says, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). Never.


From Mike: Max places emphasis on  "always" and "Never". Take heart!

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The plane arrived late, folks were mad. I got off the plane with a cramp in my leg, an empty stomach, a bad attitude, and three more hours of travel to go. I skipped lunch and called home. Denalyn answered. She’s always glad when I call. We made no decisions. We solved no problems. We just talked, and I felt better. I can handle being a pilgrim as long as I know that I can call home whenever I want.

Maybe that’s the rationale behind Matthew 14:19. “Taking the five loaves and two fish…Jesus gave thanks.” Jesus was surrounded by people who wanted food and disciples who wanted a break. He needed a minute with someone who would understand. He needed to call home. Maybe you should call home, too. God will be glad when you do, but not half as glad as you will be.

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