The Blog of
John Michael Helms
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Jefferson

Do Hummingbirds Worry?

I had a conversation with a bird last week. I’m not Dr. Dolittle, although my wife calls me that sometimes when it comes to doing housework. I asked, “Mr. Bird, why are you singing so much?” He said, “It’s springtime, don’t you know?” I said, “Yes, but people are sick.  Some are dying.  The economy is bad. There is no March Madness.  Children want to go to school, but they can’t.  I can’t play with my granddaughter.” The bird chirped back that all of that sounded terrible, but why should he stop singing? I said, “Well, my feathered friend.  I think people are going to put you way down on their priority list.  No one is rushing out to buy birdseed these days.  Only toilet paper and canned goods.” “Tweetle Dee,” said the bird. “Birdseed makes us lazy anyway. Haven’t you heard that long ago Jesus made us the focus of one of his parables?” “Look at us,” he said. “We do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet the Heavenly Father feeds us.” “I appreciate your birdseed,” said the bird. “God uses you to feed us.  But if not you, then our food will come from somewhere else.  It always has. It always will.” Then the bird flew away. And I thought about what the bird said.  I wondered how I could have a song in my heart like the bird, but I’m worried about so much right now. A little later, the bird came back.  He had something in his beak.  I took it from him and noticed that it was two blades... read more

Lent Reminds Us to Seize the Moment

Signs of spring are slowly arriving.  The buttercups are opening up.  The rose bushes are covering their thorny stems with new leaves.  Trees will soon begin to bud and pollen will begin to fall. Robins will arrive. It will not be long before hummingbirds make their long migration back to North Georgia. Farmers will be turning the soil and preparing the ground for seed. Butterflies will emerge from their chrysalises. Bream will spawn in ponds and riverbeds. All around us nature is waking up. Preparation is being made for another growth cycle. Within this growth cycle of spring, Easter is coming. It finds its way into the spring calendar every year, its date moving like a Mexican jumping bean. Have you ever wondered why? Why don’t we have a fixed date for Easter as we do for Christmas? In the early church, bishops in the East and those in Rome were celebrating the Easter feast on different Sundays. Apparently, there was no unanimity on the date of Jesus’ resurrection. So, when the bishops came together to address some deep theological matters in Nicaea in 325 A.D., they addressed this practical issue of ensuring the same day was chosen to celebrate the Easter feast every year. Because there was no strong consensus on the original date, they felt Sunday was the most appropriate date to celebrate. Changing to a uniform date did away with any future arguments about the true Easter date. The new system, determined by the moon’s phases, ensured that the Easter feasts would jump around within a small window of dates. Tying the dates to the moon... read more

Dining With the Most Important Person in the World

Outside of your family, who would you name as the most important person in the world? Let’s imagine you have been chosen to honor that person by preparing or by having a meal prepared for him or her.  Also, you are invited to dine with that person. Imagine the time you would spend pouring over the menu and making sure every detail was right and that the food was the best. Before you carried the meal and served it to this very important person, you tasted each dish.  Mmmm.  It tasted even better than you imagined.  It was so good, you went ahead and ate some, and even asked the cooks to eat some with you. It wasn’t because all of you were starving.  It was just because that meal smelled so good.  It was all of your favorite things to eat.  You couldn’t resist. After you finished, you put the lids back on all the food and put them in the warmer, and off you went to see the most important person in the world, hoping this person wouldn’t mind eating the leftovers. Without shame, you served this meal that way.   You opened all the dishes revealing that someone had already helped themselves to a sizeable portion of the meal. The serving spoons were not even washed.  The bread was almost gone.  The potatoes were cold.  How embarrassing would that be? No one should surpass God’s importance to us.  God asks us to honor Him by bringing something to honor him: time, abilities, volunteering, talents, part of our income. Instead of giving God our “first fruits,” and the... read more

A Template for Making this World a Better Place

It was a warm sunny day in Houston, Texas, on September 12, 1962. John F. Kennedy stood before 40,000 people in the Rice University football stadium to deliver a speech that helped launch American astronauts to the moon. Most Americans were not convinced that we should embark on such a bold endeavor or believed that it was even possible. But that day, John F. Kennedy began winning people over to the idea that America could put people on the moon in a decade. We forget how much opposition there was to this ambitious plan now because landing on the moon is such a proud achievement in American history. Less than a year later, Martin Luther King, Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial before 250,000 people to deliver his famous, “I Have a Dream Speech,” that helped move the Civil Rights Legislation closer to adoption and end the Jim Crow Laws. Both of these men were dreamers. They were optimists, and they dared to lead with courage. Nehemiah was such a man who lived about 450 B.C. He was the cupbearer to King Artaxerxes, King of Persia. He was a Jewish descendant of those exiled from Jerusalem after the Babylonians conquered it. Nehemiah learned of the dire circumstances in Jerusalem because the walls and the gates of the city were destroyed. When he heard about this, he could have said, “Ah, there’s nothing I can do.” Instead, the news broke his heart. He wept. He fasted, and he prayed. Nehemiah was a dreamer. He was an optimist. He believed he could help engineer an effort to rebuild... read more

Something That Can’t Be Taken From You

Not long ago, I needed to water some plants in my backyard.   Mia, my granddaughter, was over for a visit and she wanted to help. I felt a little bit like Tom Sawyer, handing that hose over to her, but I didn’t have to convince her that it wasn’t every day that a child had a chance to water plants. She took the job on with a smile.  I gave her instructions on where to point the water. But like most new things, it wasn’t long that the novelty wore off and she said, “Here P-Paw. You do it.” She was hot and tired of the heat, so she began to make her way to the house. She was about halfway there when I turned the hose in her direction.  To her delight, it rained a few drops on her head.  “Do it again,” she said.  It rained some more. “Do it again,” she said.  This exchange continued until she got an idea of her own. She wanted to have control of the water hose.  When she turned it in my direction, she laughed even harder.  But it didn’t just rain; it flooded on me. As I danced around trying to escape her surprisingly good aim, I was caught up in her laughter and the joy of the moment as I got wetter and wetter.  It was pure joy, innocent, spontaneous, and playful. After a while, she realized that I might be having more fun getting wet than she was using the hose, so she handed the water hose back to me and asked me to turn it on her. Before... read more

I Place My Life in this Hope

We have a golf cart at our church that the staff uses to move around campus on occasions. It can sit for several days, sometimes for a week or more before we use it. That’s long enough for wasps to find it be a suitable home for their home. Last week I told our office manager that I had some business in a couple of the buildings on campus. I had several items to deliver, and the cart was helpful. The last thing she told me when I picked up the key was to check the cart for wasps. I deposited the items in the back of the cart, did a quick look for wasps, and seeing none attempted to sit down in the driver’s seat. My butt had not even touched the seat before a wasp came off a hidden nest like a kamikaze and stung me on the tip of my nose. I said a few things unbecoming of a preacher and walked around, holding my face in my hands before I began to look for the nest that I had overlooked. My office manager must have heard my painful moans. She didn’t even have to wonder what happened. She came out of the door with a can of wasp spray. She was kind enough not to say what she had to be thinking: “I tried to warn him.” “Men, you can’t tell them anything.” Or “It’s his own fault.” I could have easily seen the nest had I taken the time to inspect the cart from all sides, but from the driver’s side, it was hidden.... read more

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