About Gary Wayne

"It's the little things that separate the good from the great." - Bob Schneider (Flowerparts). As a human being, I try to live up to that proclaimation. My life to this point has been extremely varied, highly exciting and rich in both blessing and curse. My greatest wealth lies in my wife and two daughters, who inspire, captivate and motivate me. My soul is registered in the book of Life (pending final review), and my heart is open and worn on my sleeve. I am honest, determined and stay true to my convictions. The rest...you will just have learn as time goes on.

To Be a Godly Husband and Parent

(Photo taken by me of my family in San Diego, California Summer 2015)

Colossians 3: 19-21…Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

In the United States, this is a strange time in our history to be raising a traditional (western sense) family. The support systems and structures of the American family are crumbling in all directions. If no deeper reflection is taken, this is quite threatening to traditionalists and desperately frightening. Wrong is now right, right is now wrong, dark is good, light is bad. At least that’s how it feels to many Americans. But is that really so? Was right really right before, and wrong really wrong? Was light true light? Was dark true darkness?

History is always written by the victorious. For traditional Americans, the past was glorious and the present is an abomination to its legacy. It’s like when you go to a funeral and the person that has passed away is only spoken of in the best possible memories and thoughts. But that person was just as deeply flawed as the rest of us here on earth. We are only presenting the best of what we experienced from them in their lifetime. We whitewash the negative. The victorious do the same with history. The life structures of man are merely a byproduct of what he’s been taught. We were taught one way, and today they teach a new way. Guess what? If it’s worldly, it’s all just a flip of a coin. It’s just darkness taking turns who gets to be the good guys and who are the bad guys in the ongoing deception that separates mankind from the Creator. I made a decision long ago that I would not follow the trends of the world raising my family. I would follow God.

To be a Godly husband and parent runs counter in every way to being a worldly version of either. It’s as if you’re on an inner tube trying to use your hands to paddle – upstream. Against a powerful current. Temptations by the millions rushing past you trying to get you to just let go and let the current take you easy. “Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” That reads like truly sound advice. Because it truly is sound advice. It’s Godly instruction. But to put it into practice? I send you back to the imagery of your hands paddling upstream. You can’t do that alone. You’re not strong enough. Only the strength of Christ can push you up that current.

To be a Godly husband and parent is to possess the Fruit of the Holy Spirit: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. For it’s these qualities that allow a man to fulfill Paul’s ordained instructions in the matter. It’s not you…us…we. It’s the Spirit. When one of my daughters does something that angers me as a parent, how I react is going to make all the difference in the world for her future. Early as a father, my reactions were mostly born from – me. I’m a fairly decent sort, so sometimes I got them right just by my nature. But I’m also the same flawed human as everyone else, so when I allowed my anger to dictate, it got ugly in a hurry. Anger is not listed among the fruits of the Spirit. Patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control are. As God has continued his purging of me from me, and filled back with his fruit, my reactions have become more aligned with the ultimate goal of the family – peace and love. The same goes with my marital relationship. Where selfishness once held a primary role in my regard, now there is a partnership of goodness and kindness. Faithfulness. As a family we are united. Not perfect. But harmonious in our loyalty to each other. That’s of God. Not the world.

Any Christian pastor worth his salt when counseling a couple about to be married will tell them – Always keep Christ in the Center of your marriage. My wife and I were blessed with such a pastor at that time, and his words (instructions) have never left us. They’ve seen us through the entire 20 year ride to date. It’s for that reason I love the picture I included in today’s post. My wife and children sitting happily under that cross in California. It’s the perfect symbolism of what God has done for our family. Our shelter. Our refuge. My job to be the same type of shepherd for them as Christ is for me. That’s what it is to be a Godly husband and parent.

What is the status of your own marriage and family? Are you going with the current, or are you powered by Christ upstream against the waves of the world?

It matters not what the trends of mankind are in any given era including this one. The war has already been won. Jesus is Victorious. My best advice to you? Follow the winner.

Gary Abernathy

I Put You on the Cross

(Photo by me, taken October 2016 off Hwy 276 near Waynesville, NC)

Matthew 16:21…From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

Last Friday night I was hanging on our comfortable couch with my wife watching Chef Ramsey’s – MasterChef Junior. We both love Gordon Ramsey and the episode was entertaining as usual. The show came to a particular point when the child contestants were to be cooking the wedding reception dinner directly after the couple were married. It was to be a surprise to all the guests. “Where’s he going with this?” perhaps you’re asking. Well, I tell ya…The engaged couple arrived early to meet the young amateur chefs and were being interviewed. The soon-to-be bride was beautiful as one would expect, but she was also wearing a deep cleavage revealing dress. I’m snuggled up with my own beautiful bride on the couch having a very lovely evening, and suddenly this G rated show is exposing one of my weakest points – the temptation of the female flesh. It caught me off guard.

At first I didn’t say anything, but as the interview went on, the camera never stopped showing the angle of her cleavage. My eyes couldn’t stop coming back to it and looking. My wise Pastor, Ernie, once said in a sermon about men and such things (paraphrasing)- “The first time you notice is not your fault, but if you look a second time – that’s where sin begins.” I was on about my 5th or 6th look. I told my wife what was going on. She knows me well (and my weaknesses) and wasn’t shocked in the least. I’m an honest man. I’ll tell her. I’m telling you right now. Mortal Gary of the Flesh finds things like that very appealing. Thank you, God, for your Holy Spirit within me that now convicts and corrects my sin so that I may remain safely in your grace. I confess this to all.

Why did I tell that story and confession? This is Holy Week. As of this writing, we are 3 days away from observing Good Friday. Three days away from driving the nails into the hands and feet of Jesus on the Cross. We as Christians aren’t prone to readily accepting the reality of who put Christ up there…Us. We did. I did. We read the scripture and watch the movies, and we toss around blame to the Romans or the Jews, as they pass Christ back and forth like a hot potato. And in doing so, we fail miserably to understand exactly what happened in that moment – In order to fulfill his own law that his creation continuously falls short of keeping, God came to us in the flesh, became the perfect sacrificial lamb, and shed his blood on the cross for all of us. He took upon him our deserved punishment. Our rightful suffering. His shed blood enabled to provide the power of forgiveness and to wash clean the sins of mankind. SO THAT WE, WHOM HE LOVES SO DEAR, CAN LIVE IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD ETERNAL He did that for me. For you. All that believe and call upon the name of the Lord will be saved. Romans 10:13

Sin is sin according to scripture, and there are no various rankings. If you’re guilty of breaking one law, you’re guilty of breaking them all. Unless we are washed clean and perfectly blameless, we cannot ever be in the presence of our creator. The cross is how we shall one day be just that – with Him. So while, yes, in the big picture of my life this little story about the cleavage temptation getting to me is nowhere near the worst things I’ve done, it was still sin, and still must be put up on that horrifying scene at the cross. As if I walked up to him looking at the nail in his feet, and I nudged it just a little making it rattle against the broken bone and nerves, causing him yet another scream in agony.

I did that. You do that. Every time we sin. Do you understand? Do you get what the cross represents?

This is Holy Week. I urge you to attend all the services on Thursday, Friday and Sunday here in America and across the world. Read the accounts in the Gospels. Pray thanksgiving for his ultimate act of mercy on the Cross.

I confess my endless sin to you, my Lord, and there are no words that I could speak that would adequately equal the gratitude for what you have done for me. Even though it was I that put you on the cross to die so miserably. Use me to carry your cross forward so that others will know, too. We are saved by the Power of the Cross! Amen.

Gary Abernathy

Speak Softly, and Carry a Big Jesus (Palm Sunday Thoughts)

(My youngest daughter – now 16 – made this at church in pre-K when she was 4. I’ve put it in this spot at Easter ever since)

Revelation 1:7-8…”Look, he is coming with the clouds,” and “every eye will see him, even those who pierced him”; and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him.” So shall it be! Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”

Palm Sunday is one of my favorite church days of the year. I like the optimism. The party-like atmosphere. Normally, I write at this time of year about how nice it must have been for Jesus to have that one brief moment of mass love, knowing full well he was riding that humble donkey to the eventual cross. You see, the people of Jerusalem thought the Kingdom of God was coming NOW…right then…and Jesus was the Jewish King to toss aside the Romans from rule. They were elated. When they quickly discovered that wasn’t going to happen at all…well…you know the story. But that’s not what I’m going to write about this year.

This year, I’m more fixated on when Jesus actually is coming as the Lion and not the sacrificial lamb. Our world and my country of the United States, are in such dire condition, that I’ve gone from being once vocal in hoping to sort the mess out, to mostly quiet and placing all my hopes in – “Look, he is coming with the clouds.”

Speak softly, and carry a big Jesus.

I have a regimented morning routine that begins with coffee, my chair, and my iPad. That device having replaced the morning newspaper that used to be the ritual. I miss the newspaper, but nostalgia isn’t bringing that back. The news moves too fast now, and what was a big story in one hour, is ancient history in the next. I also miss the cold Dr. Pepper that used to be in the place of the coffee, but that went out the window a few years ago after my doctor gave me a choice of a fried pancreas or making some serious changes. In with the black coffee. Out with the pancreas destroying, but so delicious, Dr Pepper. I hate the coffee, but what are ya gonna do? A fried pancreas is not something I’m interested in owning. So, that’s the imagery of me every morning:

Hair going a 100 directions

My nice, comfy and manly leather chair with wide wooden arms

My black bear adorned cabin-decor style blanket

A piping hot cup of bitter black coffee

And my iPad to see what’s happening

I start with the social media’s first in no set order. Facebook for friends, family, and about a billion post shares of poorly constructed political propaganda that requires me to hit “hide” far more than actually enjoy the FB space. Instagram for what I call the “pleasant social media experience,” where I see images of beautiful geography, foods and various revelries. It’s nice. And the 3rd, the newspaper replacement – Twitter. Where I catch up with the news of the world that day. I follow certain sources for that information that I’ve screened over time to be fairly reliable. One of them is a White House Bureau Chief for Voice of America. I’m telling you the man never sleeps. Ever. He’s on top of everything. He can be surly at times (probably because he never sleeps) and has a bias like all media these days, but if something is happening, I’m going to hear about it from him first. So, on this day, I opened Twitter right off the bat. Mistake.

The first thing my mind absorbed, as the coffee burned down my throat and my eyes stirred awake, was a post from the bureau chief regarding our President and former Vice President smack talking about who would beat the other down. Wait, what??? Former Vice President Joe Biden (for the 2nd time now) said he would “beat the hell” out of Trump in “High School.” Let’s just leave the psychology of that statement there for a second while we continue. So in retort, the President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, on Twitter, first thing in the morning, for the whole world to read, isn’t concerned about the overwhelming myriad of threats and problems facing us, but instead, posting a paragraph about how fast and easy he’d drop Biden in a fight, and that he’d make Biden cry. Wait…….what???

That’s insanity. Utter insanity. For those two men to not have the basic common sense to filter their words to match the great worldly power they’ve been entrusted with, is actually terrifying, psychotic, and at best, a complete lack of basic entry-level adult maturity. The big stick they carry has multiple hydrogen bombs attached to it…you would think we might not put that stick in the hands of 70 year olds still pretending they’re in the high school parking lot about to rumble. What stick do I have to protect me from those maniacs? It’s hard to shock me these days, and to others maybe this story only gives a shrug, but if you really think about the psychology of it matched with the position – MOST POWERFUL PEOPLE ON EARTH – well, it’s shocking. Color me shocked.

I’m writing about it here only as an example. I post very little about politics these days. I’ve long been coached by the wisdom of Proverbs to stay mostly silent on these matters, than to speak out and be made a fool. It’s what is next in my routine after the perusing of the social media’s that actually has value, and also where I find my big stick.

I’m finished with my bitter black 2 cups of coffee. Now it’s on to the much more enjoyable fresh Florida Orange Juice, and usually (2) plain mini bagels buttered slightly and microwaved for 35 seconds for optimum softness. Why 35 seconds? Because that’s the formula my oldest daughter taught me who is the one that created this breakfast. 35 it is! I follow directions. Then, I swallow the low dose blood pressure pill (prescribed by the same Doc that wants to preserve my pancreas), and an assortment of many vitamins that supposedly do all the things a 50 plus year old’s body needs to have. And then…it’s prime time. Scripture study! The big stick. Jesus. The man on the white horse that’s coming to save us from the maniacs.

That’s where my faith resides. My hope. My dreams. My everything. Those things surely aren’t placed within the whims of immature filthy rich earthly brats squabbling over who will beat the hell out of the other. I’ve placed 100% of myself into the faith that Jesus Christ was who he said he was. That the cross took my sins and punishment, and I’m now redeemed. That he is risen! Death has been conquered. And that he’s coming back! Not as a lamb on a humble donkey. Nope. Ain’t going down like that on the return…

Revelation 19: 11-16…I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:

king of kings and lord of lords.

This Palm Sunday and Holy Week through Easter…Speak Softly, and Carry a Big Jesus.

His is risen. And his is coming back.

Gary Abernathy

My Dad, Billy Graham, Spiritual Maturity, and the Power of the Gospel

(My older brother and me circa 1971-ish wearing our new cowboy gear)

1 Corinthians 13: 11…When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.

When the occasion arises that I get asked about my favorite childhood memories, the answer I give usually revolves around the experiences I had playing in the woods behind my grandparent’s house. The only time I don’t give that answer is if I sense the asker isn’t really interested in the long version. When I think of me feeling happy at any point as a kid, the very first flash I get is being 5-6 years old playing cowboy in those woods. In my mind, I was indeed a cowboy, and a very good one at that. There was no fear of being alone in the woods for hours at a time. And as far as I know, there was no fear from any adult that I was absent. They knew where I was going, and they knew I’d be back for lunch. Then the cowboy would head back out again. When I would come in for lunch my grandmother would serve it to me at her kitchen table, in a kitchen full of the cigarette smoke that was ever-present in their home. And she’d give me a big glass of sweet tea. And I’m talking old school southern sweet tea. SWEET. Loved that tea. Now for some reason at 5 years old, but being a cowboy, I’d pretend that sweet tea was a big glass of bourbon…like you would get in a saloon. How I even knew to think that is beyond me. Maybe it was from watching Gunsmoke. Maybe it was my mother. Who just so happened to develop a major dependence on bourbon later in my childhood, and eventually became a full-fledged alcoholic. It’s also no mystery as to why I never minded the smell of cigarette smoke, in fact I love it, and by age fourteen I started a habit that I wouldn’t kick for 30 years. I talked like a child, but one familiar with bourbon and smokes, I thought like a child, as I relished make-believe and heroic fantasy, and I reasoned like a child, as I didn’t think anything at all going on was remotely dangerous to my well being. Not the woods, not the creek, not the being alone, not the smokes, and not the pretend bourbon/super sweet tea. But then I became a man…at least…I think.

Who is going to fill those shoes? I’ve asked that question about only 2 men. 1. My dad. 2. Billy Graham. As far as I’m concerned, both were uniquely made individuals the likes of which are never to come again. Billy Graham passed away about a week and a half before this particular writing. He was 99. For all intents and purposes, his ministry has long since been over, but it was still comforting to know that someone like Billy was still alive just in case. When America was in trouble at anytime in the second half of the 20th century or the start of the 21st, they called 5 letters: B-I-L-L-Y. Now he’s gone. Who is going to fill those shoes? He’s unprecedented as a Christian evangelist, and was a perfect storm of God-given, just-right qualities to be welcomed anywhere on earth. The reason he was so effective goes beyond his movie star looks, charisma and charm, and his biblical prowess. The reason is Billy did one thing nobody else does – eliminated the middle man between soul-in-distress and Christ. He simply delivered the Gospel as is and never wavered. The problems of Christianity all stem from one source – man standing between Christ and the rest of mankind placing qualifications on the Gospel. Billy never once did that. And the ministry speaks for itself.

As for my dad…while I was play acting the bourbon swilling cowboy, he was actually a man. Like the only one I knew. He was everything. Gigantic. A level of person I never once believed I could achieve. Most kids feel that way about their dad when they’re young. But he’s definitely a larger than life character. Who’s going to fill those shoes? It sure as heck wasn’t going to be me, I’d tell myself. Told myself that until I was at least 34 years old. That’s the year I found my actual bourbon swilling mom no longer living on the floor of her bedroom. Things changed a great deal for me that year. Technically I was a man of course at 34, and I was a dad myself, too, so all the signs of manhood were there. But in my heart and mind, I was still a kid play acting at life. I had no idea what I was doing or who I really was. That’s when God truly began to mold me. From that moment until now, my life is completely in every way different than it was before. I barely recognize the person that existed from about 14 to 34. He’s not this man now, and he’s not that little cowboy, either.

About a month ago my larger than life dad had a stroke. And today, he’s back in the hospital again with an infection and a slightly fractured back from falling…again. He’s 79. We think he’s going to alright for now. But these aren’t good signs of long term health. Again…Who’s going to fill those shoes?

The only answer? We are.

We are going to fill Billy Graham’s shoes. We are going to fill my dad’s shoes. We must. “When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.” That scripture is lifted from Paul’s famous chapter describing – love. That thought continues in verse 12 – “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” Billy Graham used to discuss that scripture in Crusades. Faith. We only know a little. A part. But God knows fully our hearts and who we really are. Faith. We place our faith in the promise that we know part now, but we will soon be face to face with Christ and know as he already knows. We must trust that – we – can fill the shoes of the great men and women that have come before. That God determines our steps and equips us with all that is necessary to do the work.

I still love to walk and play in the woods. I’ll be doing so again next week. But these days I’m not a cowboy. There’s definitely no bourbon, and I’m no hero. But…I’m still fearless when I’m walking with God. When he’s teaching me. Communing. Showing. Loving. That once boy, now a man, still feels the same thing – freedom to live. That? Is the power of the Gospel.

Goodbye for now, Billy Graham. See you in the next.

Gary Abernathy

A Time to Speak

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(Hiking near Blowing Rock, NC off the Blue Ridge Parkway – October 2017)

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8…A Time For Everything

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

It’s been a time of silence for me here on this devotional. After having poured out my sins and sharing the process of reconciliation with our Lord by the cross and resurrection, I was put into a season of Psalm 46:10 – “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

 The picture I posted above was me last Autumn hiking in North Carolina. What a beautiful day that was with God. I was all alone on this miles long trail. I never saw another human being the entire time until I returned to where I’d left my car. A passerby asked why I had randomly popped out of the woods. Ha! They weren’t aware of the incredible trail that begins behind the roadside pond they were admiring. On that hike I had to cross this one winding creek on multiple occasions. Each time having to figure out how to do it as wisely as possible. Go across reckless and my socks are going to be drenched and ruin the rest of the hike. Try to trust the quite slippery rocks and I could easily fall and hurt myself…with nobody to help. I’m 51 and in moderate shape. I’m not exactly bouncing around like a kangaroo out there! But I LOVED the challenge. God was teaching me wisdom. In the picture I’m using my staff to point to the other side of the creek I need to be to continue. The picture doesn’t accurately reflect the width or depth of the creek. It wasn’t as easy at it appears. Basically, the choice was step into about 2 feet depth of water (deeper than my boots) or trust a series of very wet rocks. I went with the water. Yep. Sock on the right foot got soaked. But I didn’t slip on any rock leading me to fall and break something…like my head. I could have turned back, but I never gave myself that option. I really wanted to get to the pasture that I’d read was ahead. And man…was that ever worth the wet sock the rest of the day.

This time of silence has had many moments like that. It’s also had a lot of not as pleasant moments. The Lord has been showing me things. The good, the bad, and the truly horrible. That leads to lots and lots of reflection. It tests our faith. It tests our courage. Mainly, it tests – our hearts. God only cares about the heart. Proverbs 4:23…”Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

If we are to serve our Lord, our hearts must be in order. If our heart is straddling both the world and Christ, then our work is fruitless. This is the danger of Christianity when practiced by straddling hearts. Accepting the gift, but not accepting the change. What flows from that type of heart results mostly in cruelness to the world. Not His love. Taking personal authority to condemn and judge, while at the same time claiming forgiveness and purity from one’s own mess. I daresay, that’s as harmful to the world as any nuclear weapon. It’s not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And if it’s not that, then it’s from his enemy. This is what this time of silence has been teaching me.

With no effort by me other than the writing from my heart, this blog somehow to date has been read in over 100 nations on earth. In my mind, that’s nothing short of a miracle. I’m one servant writing in his small office about my relationship with God and hitting “Publish.” The only “marketing” I do whatsoever is to add a picture that I took with my own camera at the top, and to add a few relevant tags to the post. Beyond that, it’s all God. It’s a publishing team of the Lord and…me.  It’s been months and months since I’ve written a new post, but last night I got a notification sound on my phone from WordPress. Someone new signed up to follow this blog. They were from Uganda. I’m in the state of Florida in the United States. That’s a God thing.

There is a time for everything. And now…it’s time to write. Time to work. From my heart fully committed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I’m a sinner and I’m nowhere near perfect. Ask my wife 😉 Ha. But my heart? It’s ready to serve for our Lord again.

To anyone that reads these words anywhere in the world, there are 3 words you need to know: God. Loves. You.

 

Gary Abernathy

 

 

A Love Letter to an Angry World

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(Photo of me in June 2017 @ Brookgreen Gardens, SC – Taking a beautiful walk on a rainy day)

Romans 12: 9-21…Love In Action…

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary:

‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

August 18th is a special date in my life. A spiritual day. It was the birthday of my late mother, it was the original due date of my first born child (she came early on the 13th), and it was the birthday of my late writing mentor, Bryan Davis. I associate this day with so many joyful memories, and so much dark tragedy. My mom and Bryan influenced my life in many wonderful ways. They also crushed my soul in many different ways. They are both powerful and tragic figures in my life and who I’ve become. My mom found dead by me on a floor after a long suffering time with alcohol and depression. Bryan found by his family in their garage, in a shocking act that will never be understood or explained. Two incredibly dynamic creatures of God. I remember them both on this day…August 18th.

I’m not an angry man. I could be. I have been. I have lots of reasons to dwell inside anger and just revel in the destruction. God saved me. He sent his Son. Pulled me up, poured his light inside me, and made me a new thing. The dying flesh part of me, its heart, still holds onto certain things, and it tries to pull me towards resentment and bitterness. It tries to pull me away from that light. But it can’t. Jesus does not let go. Jesus does not fail. Jesus just keeps teaching me to be all new. To live in victory. For every bitter thought, he pours 10 joyful ones. For every bitter memory, he gives 10 beautiful sites to replace. No, I’m not an angry man. I’m a thankful man, a joyful man, a loving man, and an educated man…by the hand of our Lord.

Paul, in Romans, writes to us what “Love in Action” looks like and plays out. I posted the entire passage for us in this devotional, because it’s important to read and understand. It’s a checklist. To compare and contrast. To correct and encourage. Where am I? Where are we? Does this list sound like my life? If yes, good, keep going and going until fully Christ-like. If no, then why? Am I truly his? Did I really submit? Was I sincere? Why am I not transforming? Take this very seriously, souls that are reading, because if you’re not either at or trending towards the loving existence described by Paul…something is wrong.

This world is quite an angry place. My country, the United States, is angry and confused. Paul’s message is a love letter to an angry world. We, the partners of Christ, are his lights to answer that anger. We are the medicine that heals. Not the poison that kills. We must not take all of the world’s anger upon our shoulders and try to fix it all ourselves. This is neither our job or place. You will bury yourself in grief. We simply must be what Paul has described so beautifully in his love letter. Are we? To the world, those things?

Ponder this today…this special day of August 18th. The picture I posted was on a day earlier this summer that was a total washout on the South Carolina coast. It rained all day. Just miserable weather. Yet, that was the day that God chose to put an umbrella in my hand, and send me off to one of this nation’s most beautiful spots – Brookgreen Gardens in Murrell’s Inlet, SC. That day so far has been one of my favorite days of this entire year. I strolled with that cheap umbrella purchased on my way at a grocery store for hours in the rain. The wonders God put in front of me as the rain poured down around me…filled my heart with pure happiness and joy. I can still feel them inside. I think they’ll be eternal. A little small taste maybe of what is still to come. A living hope that will not extinguish. It was such a wonderful gift from my Father.

I think of that day as a metaphor for weeks like this one in America. When anger and confusion are pouring down around us…from authority, media, our friends and even family. All of it wanting to suck us in with it and join among the reveling in destruction. No thanks. I have an umbrella, and I have a job to do…Love in Action.

I love you readers, wherever you are and whatever nation you are from…you are my neighbor. Let us practice Godly love.

Gary Abernathy

 

To Walk Among Giants

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(Photo of me at Muir Woods, California – Spring 2017)

Proverbs 4:23…”Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

What are your ambitions? Your dreams? If you could achieve just one thing to a high level, what would it be? For me, I want to walk among the giants. I want to leave this earth having made a Godly difference in a giant way. I once believed that ambition included fame, adoration, my name…known all over. God relieved me of that belief. When I asked him to make me good soil for his word to be sown (the mantra of this site), the very first place he brought the plow was to my massive ego. He determines my steps, so I don’t know what’s planned for tomorrow, but for today, none of those things are in the cards for me. So can I still walk among the giants?

I study Billy Graham like he’s a laboratory. Same thing with C.S. Lewis. I comb their work seeking the essence of their messages. How do they communicate so effectively, one through speech, and the other through words? But I’m not C.S. Lewis, and anyone that’s ever heard me give a public speech, knows full well I’m not Billy Graham. I’m Gary Abernathy. God had to first teach me that I was made unique as are all his creations. I have a purpose. My job is to fulfill that purpose, and not to emulate the giants…but to walk among them. The definition of giant had to be changed in my mind. So my ego was churned up by the plow (often painfully, sometimes embarrassingly so), and the influence of worldly things that filled my heart were ripped out, and God made fertile soil for which he could begin to plant. “Everything you do flows from it.” I needed a heart transplant, and God’s been in surgery doing that for years now.

Being saved by the blood of Christ, we are eternal beings. Eternal. We are not complete in this temporary state. Neither was C.S. Lewis, and neither is Billy Graham. Acceptance of the gift of Christ, is to sign the waiver for construction to begin on your eternal destiny – perfection. To be fully Christ-like. We are 100% destined to be perfect in the sight of God, and so, we are already giants no matter our skills and purposes, our reach and scope. To begin to comprehend such is the beginning of finding true purpose. God sends this blog out to all corners of His earth. But when it reaches a reader in Malaysia, or New Zealand, Taiwan, India, Saudi Arabia, the UK, Germany, the United Arab Emirates, Japan, Russia, Peru, Mexico, or all the readers in the USA, it’s not my name being spread, it’s His seeds. We are sowing seeds. Growing giants.

What is flowing from your heart? Anger? Depression? Confusion? Addiction? Worldly influence? “Above all else, guard your heart.” What is being poured into us is what will flow back out. My favorite Billy Graham quote is this one:

“God has given us two hands – one to receive with and the other to give with. We are not cisterns made for hoarding; we are channels made for sharing.”

Our choice in this formula is in what we receive. The rest is pure function of how we were designed. Godly in, Godly out. Or, Garbage in, Garbage out. All of us have a certain degree of garbage flowing from us, and it’s our responsibility to test ourselves constantly for it, and to remove the impurities that were received. Tainted seeds die in the ground. Understand? This is not me preaching from the place of perfection, but explaining from the place of having learned and in process of doing.

If I’m to walk among the giants in the purpose of sowing seeds, what flows out from me to you must be of Godly quality. I’m wasting my time and energy if I’m tossing out dead things. Where do you wish to walk? Among the dead? Or among the eternal?

Gary Abernathy – Seed Sower

 

 

 

What Do Others See in You?

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(Photo taken of my band in 1996 – I’m the guy wearing glasses)

Philippians 1:6…”Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Recently my wife and I sat down with one of her oldest friends that has known her far longer than I have. She was a career mentor and good friend to my wife starting at quite a young age. Lisa (wife) thinks the world of both her and her opinion. Separated by time and distance, we don’t get to spend too much time together with her and her husband, but it’s always a pleasure when we all get together to really chat. This time was no exception. Yet on this occasion, it was me she was interested in learning more about, and the experience left me pondering a very important Christian question – What do others see in me?

When I met the woman that would become my wife and mother to my children, I was the guy in that picture shown above. We met early in 1996. My basic persona if you didn’t know me, was a shaggy-haired rock drummer in a band enjoying success in very small increments. I wasn’t exactly a Hallmark Movie Dream Hunk Prince that a woman would love to show off. In fact, I was pretty much the opposite of that…outwardly. Inwardly, and my wife saw this from the start, I was far more complex and full of dreams and aspirations. Lisa loved that guy, and he loved her right back. We both still feel the same. But to others, I always suspected we didn’t make much sense as a couple. She was this rising corporate business star, and I was this creative/strange type that people like her only happen across if I’m playing the bar they are socializing at in the moment. The night she met me I offered her a ride to late night breakfast, and my small car was loaded with my drums. I made just enough room to add her, and she had fun playing with the chimes from my set all the way to the restaurant. I had no idea at the time what she did in life, I just remember being really drawn to her spirit…the real her…and she was the same with me. We played pool together and got along like we’d known each other from the start. It felt natural. It’s always been that way with us. And we created this bubble of existence that our relationship lives in, that shelters out what other people think and whatever advice they think we need about ourselves. God put us together, we truly believe, and from the earliest moments of our relationship, in unison we put Christ in the center. He began a good work in us.

So we sit down with her friend, and she wants to know how I’ve come to grow into the person I am today. She only knew of me back at that time, but now through my writings and the wonders of social media, she knows more of the true me. Just by how the question was asked, I could tell she was comparing what was sitting in front of her now with the imagery of who she thought I was at the start. She wanted to know how the shaggy-haired drummer grew into this man. “I mean, you’re everywhere now,” she stated. The answer is easy – “Jesus started a good work in me and construction is ongoing.” But that’s not what I said. I had come to the get together expecting to talk about my wife, not me, so it kind of threw me off-guard. So I went on a lengthy history lesson of mentors God put in my path since that time (Pastor’s Chuck, Clark and Ernie), as well as other men like George Woods and Bryan Davis, and weaved a path that led to current me. All of that was unnecessary. I’m still the same guy that gave Lisa a ride to breakfast in my heart. I’ve just lived longer and have experienced a great deal more through His teaching.

Jesus started a good work in me, and Lisa, long before it was ever time for us to be placed together on the same path. When others looked at me then, Christ was unrecognizable, both in deeds and words, but He was surely already there. Anything they see in me now, is merely the progress that has been made by the work of Christ. The process of continual transformation. I’m really happy that her friend sees me now as worthy of what Lisa deserves, but both then and now, Lisa saw it, and I in her, and it really makes a person ponder – What do others see in you? What do we see in others? Here in this moment.

Consider the people that are surrounding your life. Who are the ones that are only window dressing with no substance behind it? Who are the ones that are His even though you, or even they, might not see it yet?

Proverbs 21:2…”A person may think their own ways are right, but the Lord weighs the heart.”

What does your heart reveal?

Gary Abernathy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Joyfulness of a Man

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(Photo by me on a tight rocky trail in the NC Mountains – Oct 2016)

Psalm 16: 9-11…”Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”

A few nights ago my family ordered Chinese for dinner, and there were the usual batch of fortune cookies tossed in the bag. I opened mine and it read – “The joyfulness of a man prolongs his days.” Being a man who reads Psalms and Proverbs on the daily, I instantly recognized the sentiment as Biblical truth. Throughout the teaching of scripture, joy is presented as a primary (and eternal) result of God’s gift of salvation. If we truly understand just what it is that’s happened to us in accepting Christ, we couldn’t possibly be anything but joyful. The Apostles speak to that constantly in their messages. Paul giving us the ultimate example as he sings praise in prison chains. Yet, we live here in this world, and it’s forever bringing us back down to its dreadful level. We lose sight of the light as we continue on God’s narrow path. Darkness creeps in on us without warning sometimes. When it is said to – “Put on the Armor of God” – we get this imagery of being a warrior fighting off obvious foes and their seen weapons. In reality, it’s our joy that’s most often left unguarded, and it’s by stealth it comes under attack.

The fantastic singer-songwriter, Lucinda Williams, has a song titled, “Joy,” that I thought of when starting this post. “You took my joy – I want it back.” She’s going all over looking for her joy that an abusive man had taken from her. It’s worth a listen on YouTube. The piece Lucinda is missing is she’s looking for her joy here and she’s never going to find it. We must go to the source. The Shepherd is our joy. Lasting, eternal – joy – only derives from the Spirit. Ask any mega-lottery winner how “joyful” they are a few years into their winnings. Earthly things cannot and will not provide lasting joy.

“The joyfulness of a man prolongs his days,” said my cookie. Proverbs 17:22 says…”A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” If you do a Google search of – “What does the Bible say about Joy” – you’ll receive a long list of links. I prefer the website, Open Bible, as they provide all scripture links related to a search topic. This is a good assignment for both believer and non-believer. Do you have a cheerful heart or is your spirit crushed? Learn why to either answer.

I’m just like most everyone else and I do not enjoy being unhappy. For a great deal of my life I didn’t know I had a choice in the matter. I’ve learned, by the gift of the Spirit, that I not only have a choice, it’s already been made for me. If I’m not filled with joy, it’s only because I’ve allowed the world to temporarily take from me what it cannot produce. Misery loves company. I had wandered from the safety of my Shepherd. Many a lost sheep aren’t aware enough to turn back off the path they’ve taken. But we are to run back to the shelter of our Lord, Jesus Christ. It is He with an easy yoke and light burden (Matthew 11:30). It is His pure love that provides true joy. His Spirit, living within us, is the only source of – Joy.

How do we gain eternal joy? By continually pouring provided joy outwards. Hint…The source well is bottomless.

Gary Abernathy

WheWMMav The joThe

 

 

 

 

 

When Christian Teachers Fall

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(Photo taken by Me – May, 2017 – Church of the Cross – Bluffton, SC)

James 3:1…”Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”

Teaching the Gospel, teaching scripture, teaching God’s Word…is eternally serious business. So deeply serious in fact, that several months after beginning this blog in 2016, I stopped writing completely for months because I found myself teaching instead of relating. I put myself in time out. I’m not qualified to teach you those things. I am a pilgrim just like you walking down the narrow path. I expect to reach Him. This site is about the stories along the way, and not me placing myself up as the role of – Teacher.

Our common enemy is nothing to take lightly. The stronger in faith you grow, the more perilous your standing becomes. He, it, that thing…whatever the enemy is…will be gunning for you guaranteed. What’s your weakness? Where have you left a hole in the armor? That’s where it will come and it will come hard. When you’re a highly effective Christian teacher, it will be an onslaught. Batten down the hatches, cover up the holes, spend your time in prayer, because you, Sir or Madam, are in spiritual warfare. On top of that, you’re under Godly command to do it all correct 100% of the time. No mistakes. As James warned, not many of us should become teachers.

I know a lot of these teachers. If they’re real, they know full well what I’m talking about, and if they’re in it just for the fame and glory, that’s going to be found out sooner or later. You can fake the world at its own game all day long, but when it comes to the truth – Jesus Christ – it’s not going to work. Billy Graham was famous in his heyday for never allowing himself to be caught alone with a woman other than his wife. The group surrounding him had strict rules about that sort of thing. It wasn’t because Billy didn’t trust his own ability to control whatever human instincts he might feel, but because of the imagery that it presented. Early in his career the media tried to portray that he was bilking money from the collections of his gatherings. That experience taught him the valuable lesson that he was always going to be a high value target to bring down, so don’t make it easy for the enemy to lie about you. Far too many men of God have been brought down by the “adulterous woman” that lurks throughout the teaching of Proverbs. Billy wasn’t going to be one of them. He put on the armor.

One time a few years ago I found myself in a pickle from something I’d done wrong many years ago in much weaker faith, and two people (one male, one female) I highly respect had been sent to give me a “talking to,” as we southerners would describe it. They wanted to hear my side of the story, see if I would be honest about it, and gather all the information they needed to make a judgment. During this talking to they made the point to tell me that they themselves (both high profile Christian teachers) had driven in separate cars to the meeting. They work in the same building, left the same building at the same time, and were both driving to the same location. Yet, they took separate cars. Why? You can’t give the enemy any room to work. Both of them are still highly effective Christian teachers. May God protect them.

This brings me to the sad revelation I read earlier this week on FB about the high-profile, Christian teacher, Lysa TerKeurst. She’s a best-selling Christian author, in-demand Christian speaker, and founder of the online bible study ministry – Proverbs 31. She’s a big deal Christian teacher. Lysa revealed that her marriage will be ending and that she’s filing for divorce. Now let’s be real, this happens all over America hundreds of times every week. Her marriage is not unique in that it will be ending. Except for one thing…who she is. Lysa cited that after long, intensive counseling, her husband refused to stop sexually cheating or deal with his substance use. She’s had enough. Completely understandable to any reasonable mind. However, his side of the story hasn’t been told, and I’d be interested in hearing what the man had to say.

I don’t know Lysa TerKeurst. I do however know, for a very long time, one of her more prominent writers and bible study leaders. I’ve known her since 8th grade, when I introduced her to the boy who would become her husband and father of their 4 children. They are still married. I know first hand the heart of that person, and I know she’s the real deal. I know the work she does for Proverbs 31 is blessed. Is Lysa the real deal? That I don’t know, but she certainly had the wisdom to hire my friend. That circle Lysa walks in is as dangerous as it can get for a Christian teacher. Big time publishers, image makers, marketers…the Christian book and music business is every bit as scandalous as the secular one, and certainly as lucrative. When you’re at that level, you’re walking in the enemy’s prime territory. Make me a star.

At this point, there’s no reason to believe that Lysa is anything but who she claims to be – a sincere woman of faith on a mission to reach women “where they are,” and introduce them to the healing of Jesus Christ. She named her ministry Proverbs 31. The husband in that proverb is nothing at all like Lysa’s. The enemy strikes again. If it couldn’t get to her, it appears the enemy got to him. Both need our deep prayers. We all need the same prayers in our own lives and marriages. The enemy is ruthless.

When Christian leaders fall it gives great power to those who seek such things. It gives them the ability to point and say – “See, those judgmental Christians are all liars and fakes.” It’s devastating to our faith when this happens. Not many of you should become teachers. I certainly do not wish to be one. What you’re getting from me is my open heart, my experiences, and my hopes and prayers that I shine a light that leads you to THE TEACHER…our Lord, Jesus Christ.

I’m just a pilgrim. So are you. Keep walking down the road.

Gary Abernathy