Monday, December 15, 2014

An Orange for Christmas

Like so many other pastors, my sermon was focus on the theme of the third Sunday of Advent; Joy. As I prepared to begin my sermon a strange thought came to my mind. It was really a simple thought. It was the thought of an orange. Yes, I said an orange. What does an orange have to do with Advent or joy? I guess it was the thought of simplicity.

As a young boy I thought oranges and apples were a luxury that was something that you mostly got on Christmas morning. I can't really remember having them any other time. I'm sure there were times when we may have had them, maybe on occasion at school. In those days you didn't pick what you wanted on your tray. You just went down the line and the lunch ladies would put on your tray whatever was on the line that day. Maybe a friend had them in their homes and I may have been offered one, but the only time I remember having an orange is on Christmas morning right there by the Christmas tree along with whatever else Santa brought us during the night. Man they were so good! Even now when I eat an orange, it's like tasting Christmas.

Over the many Christmas' that I've been a part of, I'm sure I got some nice gifts. But I can't really remember any gifts that stands out now, more than those oranges. So maybe it really is the simple things in life that brings us the most joy. It's the simple things that last forever in our minds and in our hearts.

I can't think of a simpler thing than a manger that brought this world the most joy.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Heroes Aren't Born

Heroes are not created, or born. They are reactionaries. Reacting to a particular situation in time and space, putting the life and well-being of others ahead of their own. I give thanks to God for the heroes who been there for me, and for all those heroes past, present, and future, who reacts when God puts you where you are needed. - Bobbyology

Friday, October 31, 2014

One of 'Those'

Lynn, David, Owen, me, Mom, Mark, and Dad. And
J.D. and Lewis would come alone a little later.
October 31 is one of those 'things', one of those 'days', one of 'those' that some of us rather at times forget. Or, it could be one of those 'things', one of those 'days', one of 'those' that you cannot stand not to remember. Sometime 'those' are painful and sometime they are memories that you don't really know how to explain other than to say they are parts of our treasure chests of yesterdays.

You see, October 31, 1972, Halloween, was the day that the life of our family made a dramatic turn that would never find round-about, make a U-turn, or go in reverse. This was the day that my mom left my dad. This was the day that brothers and a sister were separated, some with my dad and some with my mom. I was taking with mom.

Mom and Dad in 2004 family gathering
Like I said, it was one of 'those' days, one of those 'things', it was just one of 'those'. Of course I hated it, we were all hurt, we all suffered, but we as a family persevered and never lost our love for one another. Mom and Dad even becam
e best friends through the years. They died less than a year apart and are buried together. Of course our family relationship with one another has seen better days, but that's a part of growing older and having so much responsibilities and busyness.
Me, Owen J.D., Lewis, David, Lynn, and Mark
in 2004.

So as one of those 'days' that one rather not remember but others cannot help but want to remember, Oct. 31, is just that. I'll never forget, at times wish it never existed, but then again, I cannot help but to want to remember it. For it gives me the opportunity to remember the last day that I was a part of a whole family with my mom and dad, all my brothers and my sister, at least until around 3:30 that particular afternoon, right after I got off the school bus.

But hey! If we want to, we can all dress up real funny and make the best of it. Why not? It's one of 'those' days.

The Herring clan in 2004. David Jr. was home on
from Iraq and we were all able to get together for
time in over 20 years. Been a few more added
to this great family since then.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

What Advice Would You Give to Self?

  Recently my niece, Felicia, who is a wonderful representative of beauty inside and out, posted a question on her Facebook page. It was one of those questions that most of us have had the occasion to contemplate at one time or another.

"If you could go back and give your younger self advice, what would you say?"

  At last count she had 30 comments. Some of the comments were somewhat funny, but the majority were serious comments. You could tell that many of those who commented had already thought about this question long before Felicia posted it, or at least a similar question.
My niece Felicia. She is definitely all Herring

  Here are some of the comments:

"Go to college right after high school while everything is still fresh."
"You don't always have to be so strong. Weakness is a sign of strength."
"Join the military."
"Don't let what others say keep you from attempting the things you want to try and go after your dreams."
"Be closer to your sister, she'll be your best friend one day..."
"You're not worthless. You ARE good enough. You're smart. Stay true to who you are and know that you can do the things you want to do. You're beautiful the way you are."
"You are worth so much more than what you think and are told!! Your past will not define you! It will make you stronger. Promise! I would tell her she's so beautiful and make her believe it, and smart and hug her for the longest time until she felt loved and at ease."
  All the comments gave good advice. I commented also. I, probably like most, didn't have to think hard about it. like I said earlier, most had already thought about it before. This is how we humans are. We can't help but to think about the "what if" question.
Felicia competing in 2013 Mrs. Alaska competition
  What if we could go back in time and change something about ourselves or a change a life circumstance that has haunted us for a life time? Would we do it? I honestly believe that most would, including myself on some things. Who wouldn't want a better life? Who wouldn't want an opportunity to go back and correct a bad decision in life?
  In physics there is a theory called Chaos. Chaos Theory declares that tiny changes in circumstances can have major ramifications later on.
  Although the idea of the Chaos Theory has been around since the late part of the 19th century, its study came into full swing in the 1960s by Edward Lorenz, an American mathematician and meteorologist, and with the development of computers.
  The thought, or main idea of the Chaos Theory is often referred to as the 'butterfly effect', taken from Lorenz's idea of a butterfly flapping it's wings and causing a tornado.--"Tiny changes in circumstances can have major ramifications later on."
  One of the example in human form, given in the book I gleaned this information from, is from the 1946 film "It's a Wonderful Life", starring Jimmy Stewart. In it, the main character George, played by Stewart, is shown by an angel how miserable his town would've been if he hadn't been born.
  The angel says to George, "You've been given a great gift , George: a chance to see what the world would be like without you." George finds out that because he had been born, he had saved a boy from drowning years before and that boy named Harry grew up to be a war hero.
  "Every man on that transport died! Harry wasn't there to save them because you weren't there to save Harry! You see, George; you've really had a wonderful life. Don't you see what a mistake it would be to throw it away?"
  Life is a journey without caution lights and sirens that warns us of future 'accidents'. It's easy to be sitting in the presence, whether its in the gloom or the happiness, and look back over our journey and see all the cross-roads, man-made obstacles, and wrong turns. We eventually find ourselves saying "If only I...".
  The problem with that is we can keep thinking about "if only I..." so much that we begin living only in the past and forget where we are now. There are many blessing in the "now". I have no doubt that there are persons who are living a life of suffering because of the events of the past. But here I'm referring to the people who has overcome the past in such a way that the blessings has overpowered the events of yesterdays.
  In the controlling world of "If only I...", it is easy to overlook the blessings. Many of the blessings we have now exists because of the brokenness, mistakes, crossroads, and wrong turns or other events we rather not remember.
  I am extremely thankful that Felicia posted her question. It stirred many personal thoughts and feelings which I have stored in the locked chest of my mind. It was obvious by the comments she received that I was not alone. It also gave me comfort to be reminded that we are not perfect, but we are blessed. It also gave me comfort and reassurance that we were given a promise by the Lord that He would never leave us nor forsake us.
  To all of Felicia's Facebook friends who responded I would like to repeat what Meghan Trainor sings in her hit "All About That Bass"; You are perfect from the bottom to the top!

Monday, September 22, 2014

A Safe Place (what I discovered when I didn't expect it)

On Saturday I returned from the Red Bird Mountain of Kentucky. I had been one on a team of twenty-one persons from NC to travel to Kentucky to work with the Red Bird Mission of Appalachia. It was a great trip filled with many blessings. But it was totally different than I had planned on, which was a good thing, and it was a God thing. I shared in my sermon on Sunday of how what I was looking towards was not what I ended up seeing and that is because God knew what I have been seeking all Summer.

I shared a link below that is an audio recording of Sunday's message. I hope that you will listen to it and if you do I pray that you will be blessed through it. I guess I would title it "Safe Place" because of what one of my teammates and new friend, Jimmy Kennedy said during our closing worship service on Friday night.

 What he shared was also how the trip was going to be different than what he was expecting when he signed on, but he too realized that God was answering his prayers also. Of course those simple words of mine gives no justice to the passionate way in which Jimmy shared it with all of us that night in Beverly Church. As soon as he said what he said the brightest gate opened before my eyes and I immediately realized that God was speaking to me through Jimmy, because he said the same thing that I was feeling but couldn't discern what I was feeling other than I knew I was safe and I was happy.

Another blessing of this trip I would like to share with you is that each night a core group of us would gather at the camp fire there at the Work Camp. Each night we shared God stories, life stories, stories, and we shared laughter and a few times we shared tears. We grew together as we realized that we have became a community, we became a family. Some find it at a table, a church, or on a team, but we found it all just gather around a camp fire.

I am glad that we had no cell service at Red Bird. I don't believe that we would have experienced all that we experienced if we had kept looking at our phones every second.

I share a special word with those who are now the Citizens of the Campfire Community; I am so blessed to have spent so much time with you all, and to have been honored to hear so many of your stories, and to have shared some of mine. I love you and hope that someday we can gather at a camp fire again.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Worry vs Cocern

"Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?" Matthew 6:27 (NLT)

  Two years ago while in a church meeting I experience one of the most excruciating pain begin in my back (no jokes please)  in the area of my right shoulder blade and travel right on through. No matter what I did the pain would not go away. Over night it eased up somewhat and my initial thoughts was a pulled muscle. However, a day or so later, I began coughing up blood. Having x-rays done found a spot on my right lung and the PA examining me shared his thoughts that he believed it was cancer but that I would need to follow up with my doctor.

  Thus began a period of immobility. The thought of cancer totally brought me to a standstill. As soon as the PA said "cancer", my worrying began and the worrying was so over-powering that I couldn't think clearly, I couldn't talk clearly, and basically I couldn't function clearly. The worries took control of my life, or a better way of saying it is that I allowed the worries to control my life. In a way I would be willing to say that the 'worry' became my little "g" god; something we allow to be at the forefront of our lives, to take the place or to shadow our big "G" God. Yep, I ate my own words.

  Now my wife, Donna, went down a different avenue. She didn't let the worry control her or us. She was concerned of course, but she allowed her concern to move her into action. So while I was waiting on phone calls from doctor offices to let me what to do next, she was busy on the computer trying to get me an appointment with a lung specialist, which she did.

  Donna's actions got me going again and focused on finding the problem and hopefully a solution. Long story short, after many tests, some extreme, the specialist decided it was a lung infection which damage one of the air-sac thingy in my lung.

  I'm sharing this to remind us that Jesus told us not to worry about those needs that God has promised to provide. Should we be concerned about certain things and certain situations? Sure, we can be concern. But worrying will not help the situation if it brings us to a stand still and unable to function. It'll become our worship. As a commentary I read puts it: "Here is the difference between worry and genuine concern--worry immobilizes, but concern moves you to action."

  A fellow pastor once preached that you can pray and not worry, or you can worry and not pray, but you can't do both. I understood that clearly, but I still stumbled, but God did not.

Grace and Peace

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Surprise Surprise Surprise

As we read through the Bible we sometime find ourselves having a special connection with the people in the stories. The story of Peter's escape from prison is such a connectional place for me. it begins with Peter being arrested and thrown into prison to await trial in the very near future by King Herod, who had gotten his kicks recently by having James killed which pleased the crowds. He was hoping evidently to entertain them again through killing Peter.

We are told that the church (the Christians) were praying earnestly to God for Peter. The Lord heard their prayers and he sent an angel who freed Peter from his bonds and led him out of the prison. When Peter realizes he's free he heads to John's momma's house, where a bunch of the believers had gotten together to pray. Then story gets sort of funny.

Peter knocks on the gate, and a girl named Rhoda came to see who was at the door.  She recognizes Peter, was so excited, she didn't think to open the gate, but instead ran back inside and told the others that "Peter is at the door!" But instead of believing her, these earnestly praying folk said, "You're out of your mind." That's the funny part. She keeps insisting that Peter is at the door, so they finally go to see who it is themselves and when they see that it is Peter they are flabbergasted, shocked, amazed, and any other synonyms that goes alone with the New International Version's word "astonished".

Now lets backtrack a little. We were told early in the story that after Peter was thrown into prison that the church was earnestly praying for Peter. Well that earnestly have some special meaning here.

Look up the word earnestly and you will find that it means:  Serious in intention, purpose, or effort; sincerely zealous: showing depth and sincerity of feeling: Seriously important; demanding or receiving serious attention. Full seriousness, as of intention or purpose: to speak in earnest.

What I'm trying to get across to you is that they were praying like crazy! They were praying like they wanted God to save Peter. They were praying like they believed that God would save Peter. They were praying like they knew God was hearing them. But when Peter showed up at the door, their jaws fell to the floor. As the old saying goes, "Been there; done that."

As you would imagine, I'm a regular prayer and I know the Lord is listening and I believe that he answers our prayers in his own way, in his own time, and not always the way we want them answered. But what about those times when we are praying for special intervention on a particular issue and BAM! Everything you asked for is answered and everything falls into place. Are we flabbergasted? Well, yeah, sometimes. At least I am.

What does that say about me? To be honest; when it happens like that I feel a little ashamed and I lower my head in the presence of the Lord. I know if I pray for God to get involved, then I pray with earnest passion knowing that God is hearing me and believing that he will get involved. I may slip and when I do I also believe that God giggles at me.

I am glad that I worship my great and almighty God; a God of surprises.


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Walking We Will Go

Ever since I came back from my first Walk to Emmaus back in 2004 I have had the wonderful blessing, as strange as it may seem to some, to carry a cross. It's a wooden cross with a wheel on the end of it. I have carried it around Clinton and Roseboro on many occasions, and other towns on a few occasions. I have also carried with me into many churches that I have preached revival services and such.

Photo shared on Facebook
credited to Karen Owen not
far from Clinton.
Each time I find myself walking with the cross, there seems to be different reasons. Sometimes I feel an urgency to walk with it. Other times I feel a personal need to walk with it, and times when I'm using it for a point during a sermon.

On those occasions when I feel a personal need to walk is when I feel a particular quietness in my spiritual life. Like those times when I don't think I have heard God in a while and desire to hear His spiritual voice or to receive a special message. So in a way, I am using the cross like an antenna, hoping to get a better reception, sort of the way we use to move the rabbit ear antenna around or go outside and rotate the pole antenna until mom would say, "That's good!".                                                                  

I see the cross that I carry as an in-motion visible reminder of the love of Jesus Christ. If they see a cross sticking in the ground beside a church, a person may not give it a second glance or a single thought. But when they see a crazy fella walking beside the streets and through parking lots, I feel confident that they will at least take a second glance, and just perhaps, they will remember the faith they once knew if they have wandered.

In the mind of some it may be crazy to some for someone to carry a cross down the street. To others, it is amazing and inspiring to see it. To myself, it is an inspired ministry. It isn't courage on my part. Before each walk I have to really pray for the Lord to give me the strength because I don't want to do it. It's always a sense of embarrassment that I have to overcome each time.

Some have claimed that I do it for personal attention. It is never about me, but about the power of the Holy Spirit to lead me to carry it.

This past Saturday I carried the cross from Roseboro to Clinton. The purpose of the walk was to raise funds for a mission trip to the Red Bird Mission in Kentucky in September. The goal was to walk from Roseboro UMC to Grace UMC in Clinton, a total of 13.4 miles. I made it all the way to the post office in Clinton, a total of 11 miles. My feet being blistered made the decision for me not to go any further. Still it was a success.

Hwy 24, the route that I took on the Roseboro/Clinton walk was extremely busy. I have no doubt thousands of people traveled past me going West and East. Those who know me, saw Bobby Herring carrying a cross. Those who did not know me saw a man carrying the cross. Over two thousand years ago, thousands of people in a city called Jerusalem saw a man carrying a cross, and the world hasn't been the same since.

If all us who proclaim that we are Christians, disciples of Jesus Christ, carried our crosses as Christ commanded of us, maybe we could continue to turn the world upside down for the glory of the kingdom of God. Of course, the cross you are called to carry isn't a wooden cross with a wheel on the end of it, but still a cross you are to carry.

"If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it."  Mark 8:34-35 (NRSV).

I have attached a link to my sermon from this past Sunday, day after my long walk. First time sharing a recording on the internet. Sometime have to be a first time. Hope you who listens to it will receive a blessing as I received when I preached it.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Had a Thought of Momma

I can remember back when the fast food chain Hardees was running those specials when if you bought a certain meal you received your drink in a real glass. The glass had the cartoon characters, I believe from Warner Brothers. You know the characters I'm talking about like Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Tazmania Devil, and the others. A new one came out every week. Our cabinets in the trailer we lived in was full of those glasses. Of course you have to understand that when we went, which was normally on Sundays after the church bus dropped Mark (one of my younger brothers) and me off at home, there were at least five to six of us getting glasses.

There was many times when my mom couldn't buy us something, or give us any money, but there was never a time when she failed to feed us. I believe if we ever got to the point where we were hungry and there was no other way, momma would've went into the thickest woods, nastiest pond, or the fastest flowing river to gather food for her children to eat. I know she would've been capable of doing just that.

Momma fed us with more than food, as most moms do, but my mom spooned fed us her love all of her life. She fed us with love, encouragement, correction, and advice. She fed us the difference between right and wrong (not that we always listened, but when we were younger she made sure we listened the second time if you know what I mean) and she fed us the beauty of family. She sometime struggle with that part because we were scattered by age and some by distance, but she still reminded us of the importance of family love. We sometimes fail her and sometimes I believe I hear that little "stsk" noise she made when we did or said something wrong. Age and distance seems to keep the family apart, but momma knows we love one another.

The picture I've shared was taken many years ago. It was one of the few times all of mom's kids were together in one place, probably around Christmas of 1982 or 83. David, Lynn, Owen, me, Mark, J.D., and Lewis. Two of the grandkids are also pictured, possibly David Jr. (David's boy) and Reagan (Lynn's daughter). There were many more grandkids to come.

I believe I hear momma telling us it's time to eat.

Friday, April 4, 2014


We all face "moments" in life. Decisions we make in these "moments" are how we'll remember those moments.


I spent more years living under God's prevenient grace than under God's justifying grace. I'll spend the rest of my life living with God's sanctifying grace.

       Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
       that saved a wretch like me!
       I once was lost, but now am found;
       was blind, but now I see.
                                    John Newton's hymn "Amazing Grace"

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

God! Are You There?

I'm trying something new. Sharing a link to a sermon I preached recently. I haven't corrected anything on it, so there may be misspelled words and grammar mistakes, but using the old phrase, "you're getting it as is". I pray it'll be a blessing to someone. You can read it, share it, or toss it. The Lord gave it to me and now I'm giving it to you.