Category Archives: Opinion

Optimists by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

Optimists see opportunity in every danger; pessimists see danger in every opportunity.”

Winston Churchill

If there were a category somewhere between “optimistic” and “delusional,” my husband would land there. Need proof?

All I have to do is tighten the screw and the door will shut.” It did not.

This ladder is steady.” It was not.

I’ve found a new glue that will hold the water pipe together.” It did not.

Duct tape and zip ties will look fine on our outdoor lights.” They did not.

That kayak cannot tip.” It can, and it did.

Flex-Seal will stop this hose from leaking.” It did not.

Our boat is running well.” Except for needing a new battery, it probably was.

I tend to favor the pithy attitude of people like Walt Disney who once said, “I always like to look on the optimistic side of life, but I am realistic enough to know that life is a complex matter.” That last part has been hard for Dave to nail down (pun intended).

Personally, I lean more towards a healthy dose of realism—you know, hope for the best but plan for something short of “best” (no doubt because that’s how my life has played out). John Wooden put it this way: “Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.” I have to admit, Dave does that. He never gets upset; he just plods along with his next, grand, Gorilla Glue and duct-tape idea.

Now, if you’re like me, you would much rather hang with an optimist than a pessimist. I know no one who wants to spend time with a curmudgeon who sees only what’s wrong, and even if they are right, their stubborn disposition does nothing to draw others into agreement with them. When I think of pessimists, I am reminded of the man who belly-ached to his neighbor, “My hen hatched out 12 chicks, and all of them died but 11.” Have you met someone like that? Worse, are you that person?

Real-deal Christians are not pessimists. They live by Romans 8:28: And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. No matter if screws are stripped or ladders are uneven or batteries are dead. No matter what.

Optimistic people find ways to brighten other’s lives. Take, for example, major league baseball, which recently began its shortened season. Because no fans are allowed in the stands, the Los Angeles Dodgers came up with the idea of having cardboard cut-outs to replace the loyal, season-ticket holders who typically fill the seats. Then they allowed supporters to submit their pictures, pay a fee, and have their faces used. Remaining chairs hold large, stuffed animals and even celebrity cutouts. The life-size cutout of Tom Hanks—whose first job was to sell hotdogs at the Oakland A’s field—stands erect on the stairs dividing two sections behind home plate.

Before the game, the cameraman caught one of the Angels’ players walking amongst the Oakland “fans,” placing Angels’ t-shirts over the cutouts. How fun is that? They are finding good in something bad (Covid-19). We all should be doing likewise.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, Dave just headed to the garage with some wire and electrical tape. Something tells me there’s a story in what is about to unfold, and being the optimist I am, no doubt it will be a good one.

One Final Point by Pastor James Collins

Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.Ephesians 5:16

There is a book out called, “The Procrastination Cure: 21 Proven Tactics for Conquering Your Inner Procrastinator.” I have had it in my Amazon shopping cart for six months… I will probably order it tomorrow.

“Procrastination.” Just seeing the word makes me want to put off saying anything else.

All through my life, I start to procrastinate, then I decide to put it off.

My wife, Amanda, thinks I am a terrible procrastinator. But I will prove her wrong someday. Just wait and see. Besides, I am going to get things done. Amanda doesn’t need to keep reminding me every six months.

Truthfully, I am under conviction. Procrastination is a form of disobedience. When God tells us to do something and we don’t do it, we can make jokes, but the truth is, it’s sin.

Each day gives you 1,440 minutes. Days are passing and time can’t be stopped. You can’t call a “time out” in life.

When I was a kid, there was a popular song by Jim Croce titled “Time in a Bottle.” The song began, “If I could save time in a bottle…” But honestly, time can’t be stored like money in the bank. The only thing you can do with time is use it or lose it.

Sadly, the time has come for me and my family to leave Fort Scott. We can’t put it off any longer. This will be my final column.

We are grateful to the community for making us feel so welcomed. We are very grateful to the congregation at First Southern Baptist for their years of love and support. Fort Scott will always have a special place in our hearts.

I only hope that our time here has made a lasting impact. I am painfully aware that more could have been done to grow God’s kingdom in this community, but it is now too late for me. However, it is not too late for you.

The point is: Make the most of the time God gives you. The oldest of all the Psalms, written by Moses, says, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). Someone once wrote, “Lost: One golden hour, studded with sixty diamond minutes. No reward offered, for it is lost forever.”

The Bible also cautions us in Ephesians 5:16, “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”

These are truly evil times.

Make every minute count.

Tell someone about Jesus today.

Tomorrow may be too late.

You can follow James Collins on Twitter @collins_point, Facebook James Collins “The Point Is,” or through the website

Bill DeBlasio by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

When I was in elementary school and the nun asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up, most of the boys said a policeman; we girls were divided between nurses and nuns. (To my knowledge, only one of us followed through on our professional declarations.)

At this writing, following the police bashing on the Brooklyn Bridge, I am listening to the televised broadcast of New York’s mayor Bill DeBlasio who just said, “… anyone, anywhere—whether in protest or anything else who assaults a police officer–is unacceptable and they will suffer the consequences.” (Yes, the grammar is flawed, but you get the point.)

I question where Mr. DeBlasio was a few months ago when a group of trouble-makers threw buckets of water on policemen/ women on patrol in one of the tougher parts of town. I wonder what God thought while watching the celebration of the offenders who cheered, videoed, laughed and danced while trying to humiliate the officers who did nothing—absolutely nothing—in response. That evening, one of the news reporters predicted that if the New York mayor or governor failed to send a message that this behavior would not be tolerated, the disrespect for police officers would grow exponentially. A prophetic statement, for sure!

So, what has happened since then? Now, if you disrupt a peaceful, religious protest led by Hispanic and black leaders by taking a steel pipe to officers’ heads, you will be out of jail—with no bail– with plenty of time to buy your celebratory water-soakers (or guns) before the stores close. So, what message does this no-penalty-release send to our nations’ finest? In my opinion, the same one as decreasing the officers’ budget by a billion dollars. (“You don’t matter.”)

Re-read Mr. DeBlasio’s quote. Where are these “consequences” to which he refers? The only ones suffering any consequences right now are the officers. We, the majority of Americans who still respect our first-responders–those whose lives are risked every day so we can live a few more, those who repeatedly knock on doors of the same abused caller who, yet again, refuses to press charges, those who give up holidays and weekends and nights when duty calls, those who come home smiling when they have correctly completed the paperwork to expedite a pedophile and cry into their pillows when a toddler is shot—are scratching our heads and wondering from where Mr. DeBlasio’s vitriol for his city’s protectors comes.

Do I sound dramatic? I think not.

We are a country of law and order…well, some places are. Many of us still believe that our Declaration of Independence means what it says: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Surely “all men” includes police officers, right? Crushing my skull with a pipe does nothing to assure me of life or happiness, not to mention, my liberties which will be tossed aside if I choose to retaliate.

Are police officers always cordial, fair, friendly, compassionate and unbiased? No. And neither am I. And neither are you. That’s because we all are sinners who fall short of the glory of God. But God values justice. Deut. 32:4 teaches that all God’s ways are just, and Proverbs 24:24-25 tells us this: Whoever says to the guilty, “You are innocent,” will be cursed by peoples and denounced by nations.  But it will go well with those who convict the guilty, and rich blessing will come on them.

I pray that someone will encourage Mr. DiBlasio (and others of the same mindset) to take a good, hard look at how God views justice because if things continue the way they are now, no child will be including police officers as one of his/her top professional choices.

Come Hell or High Water

There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand.Proverbs 19:21

Several years ago, a severe rainstorm turned a peaceful town into a flooded disaster area. The local newspaper editor set out in a rowboat to cover the story in detail. As she paddled down a stream that had been one of the town’s residential streets, she noticed a woman sitting on the roof of a house.

The newspaper editor paddled to the edge of the roof, tied up her boat, climbed out, and sat down next to the woman. She thought that a woman sitting alone on her roof would make a great story. So, she took out a pen and paper. Before she could ask the woman a question, she saw a hat floating downstream with the current. When the hat reached the far side of the house, it made a complete u-turn and floated upstream to the other end of the house. Then the hat made another u-turn and floated downstream again until it reached the far side of the house where it turned again and floated upstream to the other end of the house. The hat did this time after time.

The reporter was bewildered. She turned to the woman and asked, “Do you have any idea what that hat is doing out there in front of your house?” She said, “Yes. That hat is on my husband’s head. He said that ‘come hell or high water’ he was going to mow the lawn today.”

The point is: Sometimes we stubbornly cling to our plans instead of letting go and letting God have control. We often ignore things that are important and continue to focus on the trivial. The flood rises to the rooftop, but we go on mowing the lawn.

You probably started 2020 with big plans. You had dreams of a year that had nothing to do with a global pandemic. Then March came and you had to change your plans.

Personally, I am very discouraged as we pass the year’s halfway mark. It seems nothing has gone right. Government bureaucrats, who can’t even fix the streets and sidewalks, have suddenly become health experts. They tell us it is healthy to gather in mass to protest, but it is unhealthy to gather in mass for church. They tell us that it is a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion, but I have no choice but to wear a mask. They let prisoners out of jail for fear of them catching COVID-19, but threaten to put Christians in jail if they sing in church. What is right is wrong and what is wrong is right. Nothing makes sense. It seems as if the world is spinning out of control.

But God is in control. The Bible says that there are many devices (or plans) in a man’s heart, but God’s purposes prevail (Proverbs 19:21). What are God’s purposes in this global havoc? Perhaps God wants us to forget about ourselves and focus on things that truly matter.

How long has it been since you… Took the time to go see someone who lives alone? Wrote an email to someone who crossed your mind? Spent more time in God’s book than on Facebook? Shared your faith? Offered forgiveness? Told someone that you loved them?

I suppose that I could stubbornly continue to be discouraged about the world situation. But instead, I think, I am going to let go and let God. Even in all this madness, I am going to look for ways to serve Him.

Come hell or high water.

James Collins is senior pastor of Fort Scott’s First Southern Baptist Church. Follow him on Twitter @collins_point, Facebook James Collins “The Point Is,” or at the website

Oops by Patty LaRoche

Mmmm-mmmm. Looks pretty tasty, don’t you think? Three ice cream balls coated with chopped nuts and topped with whipped cream and, of course, a juicy, red cherry. Now, I’m not a dessert eater, but when Dave and I saw this picture on a menu at a Florida restaurant, I figured it couldn’t hurt to give it a try. I asked the waitress if it was as good as it looked.

We don’t have any,” she replied.

Oh, you ran out?” I asked.

No. We never had it. We just copied the picture off of the internet.”

It took me a few seconds to digest (excuse the pun) what she had said.

You mean you just thought this looked appetizing and added it to your menu?”

Yep. We get a lot of requests for it.”
I burst out laughing. “So, you just pretend? Oh my gosh, that’s hysterical!”

With that, our waitress turned on her heels, not finding it as funny as Dave and I did.

Can you imagine being so gutsy? Surely our waitress wasn’t supposed to tell us the truth. Surely she was to simply explain that they had run out of that particular dessert that particular day. Whatever the motive, I wondered what would happen if the restaurant got caught…you know, by the actual creator of those treats. What possible good could come from such pretense?

Then again, they aren’t the only ones who pretend. We all are guilty. It might not be as blatant as this menu, but I see it all the time, especially in Christian circles. We act peaceful. Non-judgmental. Loving. Giving. Maybe even Holy.

Oh, if such pretense could be our reality!

I love how Socrates put it: “The greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what we pretend to be.” What would it be like not to pretend just a little… like when I encounter telemarketers or slow drivers or people who don’t keep a six-foot distance and manage to bite my lip instead of biting off their heads?

Today I made a call to “Janet,” a Covid survivor and one I wanted to question about some political issues. I began by asking how she was feeling. She shared that she was surprised to hear from me (probably since we last talked 18 months ago and weren’t close friends), that she was doing great and had just made a four-state trip with her husband. Since Janet had not been anywhere due to the virus AND this woman’s voice sounded nothing like my friend, I realized that I had dialed the wrong Janet.

As it turned out, in our hour-long conversation, this Janet soon was sharing her spiritual struggles, and I was the ear she needed. When it was time to hang up, she said, “I cannot believe how God used you to call me out of the clear blue. How I needed to talk to you!” This was my chance to tell her the truth and not pretend, and that’s what I did…well, sort of.

Neither can I, Janet. Neither can I.”

Bill Brittain Thanks Congressman Watkins For Help On Former Mercy Building

Submitted by Bill Brittain.

Bill Brittain, left, shakes hands with U.S. House of Representative from Kansas, Steve Watkins. Submitted photo.


“On July 10, I was able to publicly thank Congressman Steve Watkins for his help on the Mercy facility.

The Congressman was in town Friday at the Nu-Grille (restaurant) for a small group discussion passing through for other stops for the day.

Several months ago I reached out to him and his office with an idea to save the  (former)Mercy Hospital facility.

After I reached out to them he sent one of his staff to meet with me.
His staff came to some of the meetings we set up with other people of interest such as the city, CHC, Via Christi and others. His office made contact with the person with Mercy headquarters and arranged a phone meeting between that person and myself along with the Congressman’s staff member.
They have searched for Government grants that might be of assistance for Bourbon County to use.
They opened doors that we could not get open and that is what allowed the process to move forward!

He and his staff have been instrumental with helping us get to where
we are today!

I would also like to thank the Bourbon County Commissioners for taking bold action by accepting the donation of the facility!

By doing so I believe we will ensure our community will have good healthcare options available in a nice facility for many years to come.

Our hope is to fill this facility with several healthcare options and I am in hopes that we will have hospital services at some point down
the road.

Jody Hoener, the Bourbon County Economic Director has also worked very hard in spearheading meetings, making contacts, and looking for grants.

It definitely, like many things, takes action from many but
without Congressman Watkins Office I don’t think we could have got the ball rolling!

Reasons to Leave Your Church by Pastor James Collins

And upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.Matthew 16:18b

Why didn’t you wear a tie to church today, you pinheaded nitwit?” Lois asked me with a frown on her face. Lois Steam (not her real name) is a woman in our church who complains about everything. Two weeks ago, Lois stomped up to me after church and I could tell she was upset. She continued, “I absolutely hated that song we sang today. What’s with all the handclapping? This is a church, not a disco.” This is a worship service, not a funeral, I thought.

As Lois continued her verbal assault, I never said a word. But I thought things that weren’t very pastor-like. Pray for me.

Why don’t we go back to singing more from the red hymnals? If Jesus sang from the red hymnal, why can’t we?”

I think you’re wrong. Everybody knows that Jesus sang from the blue hymnal.

Why didn’t you come check on me after my surgery last week?”

I’m not sure if having an ingrown toenail removed is a surgery worthy of a pastoral visit.

You need to change your voice. I can’t stand your accent.”

Yes ma’am. I will try to have that done by next Sunday.

This church isn’t meeting my needs. I might just move my membership.”

Don’t let the door hit you where the Good Lord split you.

At some point, you have probably felt like Lois. You feel unhappy at your church and think that you should leave. As a public service, I have put together a list of reasons to leave your church.

  1. Your gifts and talents are not celebrated. If you are asked to help in the nursery when you clearly belong on stage, then you need to leave.
  2. Your pet issues are not being addressed from the pulpit. If your pastor isn’t constantly addressing an issue that you saw on Facebook and got all worked up over, then you need to leave.
  3. You are annoyed with the people. Overly friendly greeters. Young hipsters. Crotchety seniors. Confused Millennials. Noisy children. Lost sinners. People who want…help. Surely God wouldn’t want you to stick it out with people like that. If you have those kinds of people, your church is probably beyond hope. Time to move on. Your next church, I’m sure will be perfect…

Of course, I am speaking with my tongue in my cheek. Church is not about you. It’s all about Jesus and sharing His message and love. A great church is built on these four things.

The Book – the inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God.

The Blood – the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Birth – the new birth.

The Blessed Hope – the coming again of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The point is: If you are looking for a church, find out what stand they take on the Book, the Blood, the Birth, and the Blessed Hope. Or if they take any stand at all. If they don’t believe in these four foundations, saturate that place with your absence. Then find a church that does.

Remember, it’s not about you. It’s all about Jesus.

He will build His church, with all kinds of people.

People like you.

People like me.

Even people like Lois.

James Collins is the pastor of First Southern Baptist Church. Follow him on Twitter @collins_point, Facebook James Collins “The Point Is,” or at the website

I Choose Jesus by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

I choose Jesus. I’m not sure I’ve ever wanted him more than I do now as I watch this country make decisions that make no sense. The horrific death of George Floyd incited behaviors that make me question how the moral chasm in this country has gotten so deep, that make me wonder what happened to church-going families who, no matter their socio-economic status, valued life and the rule of law and order. How do people who scream “injustice” see no injustice in their own destructive rebellion? When did politicians become so single-minded in their pursuit to retain their positions that they cower to disorder and disregard for what has made America the most powerful, most blessed country in the world?

Jesus, fill these peoples’ hearts. Turn them back to you.

When I was pregnant, in my mid-twenties, and watching a ballgame at Main Street Park, I politely asked a young, black girl to watch her language, since several young children were playing within hearing distance of her foul mouth. When she flipped open her pocket knife and called me a slew of white-trash names, I chose to leave the park. I hadn’t taken 30 steps when I heard her behind me, turned and saw that she was running after me. Fortunately, I was near my car and was able to get inside and lock the door. I was terrified. This made no sense. What had happened to this young gal to cause such hate?

I had grown up in this town and was friends with the few blacks with whom I attended school. Dave was a professional baseball player, and we had black player friends who frequented our home on multiple occasions. We hung together. We took care of one another. Some had been raised in the ghetto but made determined choices to overcome.

Today, I dream of revival in those cities where blacks are not given a fair chance. And they aren’t. I cannot imagine what it must be like to fear being pulled over by a policeman because of the color of my skin. Or having my children receive a sub-par education because they live on the wrong side of the tracks. Or living in poverty so that drug-sales become my livelihood.

I pray for a day when potential athletes and musicians and artists and entrepreneurs (no matter what color) develop their talents and become a blessing to others. I want young girls to understand their value to God, to know that they don’t need men who promise their loyalty but run for the hills when the pregnancy test comes back positive. I want young men to see the potential that God has put inside them and know that their strengths can be used for good and not gang-warfare.

I want blacks to stop killing each other while decrying “Black Lives Matter.” Of course they matter! So do Jews’ lives. And Chinese lives. And Hispanic lives. And Muslim lives. God made us all in His image. Each of those ethnicities has been persecuted, yet they don’t spend weekends killing their own. I want Reverend Sharpton to not only speak at funerals when the cameras are rolling, but I want him to start a revival on the South side of Chicago where 80 people were shot over the Fourth of July weekend.

Tell those poor souls about Jesus, Mr. Sharpton. He is the answer, the beginning of the heart-change they need so desperately. Their riotous lootings are not.

The revered leader, Martin Luther King, once said, “Riots are socially destructive and self-defeating. I am convinced that non-violence is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom and justice. Violence will only create more social problems than it will solve.”

There are hundreds of God-fearing, brilliant black leaders who are speaking out against violence. Why is it that many refuse to listen?

Jesus, fill their hearts. Turn them back to you. Oh, dear Readers, let that be our prayer.

Masks By Pastor James Collins

Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.

John 12:4-6

When I was a kid, I used to wear a mask. It was a Superman mask. Superman was my favorite hero. When I was seven, I read so many Superman comic books that I really thought I was Superman.

I made a Superman suit. I had a Superman t-shirt, a red bath towel for a cape, and a pair of red Underoos that I wore outside my pants. I completed my costume with a plastic Superman mask from an old Halloween costume. The mask had jet black wavy hair with a j-curl that went down in the middle of the forehead. Without the mask, I was just James. I was a mild-mannered, nerdy little kid. But when I put on my Superman mask, I thought I was the Man of Steel.

One morning, I was sitting in the kitchen eating Fruity Pebbles out of a plastic butter bowl. I was wearing my Superman outfit. I lifted the mask to get a bite of cereal and put it back down to chew. In my mind, Superman was having breakfast.

While I was eating, I was also reading a Superman comic book. I don’t know if it was the comic book, the sugary Fruity Pebbles, or a combination of both, but I got all excited and believed that I was Superman. I took off running through the house. I was faster than a speeding vacuum cleaner. More powerful than the dog. Able to leap coffee tables in a single bound. Look! Up on the kitchen counter. It’s a toaster. It’s a microwave. No. It’s a kid in a mask who thinks he is Superman!

I went running through the house. As I jumped over the table in the living room, I knocked off a lamp. It fell off the table and shattered to pieces.

Momma had told me a hundred times not to run in the house. So, the consequence was a spanking. Momma was about to spank me when I said, “Wait.” I took off my Superman mask, bent over, and said, “Okay, now.” I needed to take off the mask because Superman never got a whipping. You must think like a seven-year-old kid to understand this, but when I put on that mask, I was Superman.

Sadly, many grown intelligent adults do the same thing. They wear a mask. The Bible tells us about a man named Judas. He was one of the disciples of Jesus. But he wore a mask. His mask concealed the truth. His mask hid his true identity.

The point is: It is better to live naked in truth than clothed in fantasy.

What sort of mask of untruth are you wearing?

What are you hiding behind your mask?

James Collins is the pastor of First Southern Baptist Church. Follow him on Twitter @collins_point, Facebook James Collins “The Point Is,” or at the website

Count Your Blessings by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

Happy Fourth of July! Today, I sit on my deck, recovering from the Covid-19 virus, grateful that I live in a small town in the Midwest where friends and neighbors have gone out of their way to bring food and run errands. One lake neighbor dropped off chocolates and Twizzlers and flowers on our steps while another, on his drive from Kansas City to Tulsa, stopped to shop for items we needed, including a miracle-find of Clorox Wipes. Pam, my Utah friend, called her homeopathic guru and over-nighted me herbs and vitamins. Cards have arrived, and daily, friends and family members text, asking about my improvement. Many have phoned Dave, my husband, when it was difficult for me to maintain any breath control to speak.

I can’t say enough about Dave. He has been a saint. I was quarantined to the basement for 14 days. Dave made sure I had a thermometer and an oxygen reader, and even though I had no taste buds, I never was without a plate of fruit (a wonderful, stocked refrigerator treat from our Stilwell friends). When I progressed to being able to walk up the stairs and sit on the deck, he stayed a step behind me to steady my walk, brought me blankets and disinfected the area.

All of those were wonderful blessings, but what has touched me the most has been the out-pouring of prayers. Oh, how I relied on those prayers! When I would cough so hard I thought my lungs would explode, when I would chill and sweat and be incapable of taking a deep breath, when every bone ached, when I was so unsteady I could barely make it to the bathroom, I remembered the prayer-warriors who were lifting me up.

And so, today I sit on my deck, taking time to thank a mighty God who, it seems, is not calling me Home quite yet. He is calming my normally-frantic brain and causing me to concentrate on the beauty of life. I am blessed to watch as three fishermen, unaware they are in my eyesight through our deck rails, patiently row around our dock, casting their lines in various directions, enjoying the moment, even though no fish are biting. Two squirrels, playing “tag” for the past hour, have found my peanut feeder and leave not a shell for their friends. Birds, hidden in the cascade of overgrown tree limbs, noisily chatter while a butterfly comes near enough for me to touch it. A sweet visit.

But then 14 geese, determined to visit every morning and leave their “mess” on our newly-concreted sidewalk, show up to eat the grass seed we planted a few weeks ago. Dave makes the walk to our dock, waving frantically to run them off. With their ruffled feathers, they honk and jump into the lake, but it is only a matter of time before they return. Life, as we all know, is not perfect. But a small town in the Midwest comes close.

In a few days, the lake will be a place of celebration as jet-skis and boats and campers come for a day of recreation and entertainment. Fireworks will be shot from docks, music will blare, and we all will be reminded of those whose sacrifice proved just how “unfree” freedom really is. This year, we small-towners have much to be thankful for. Here, we don’t have to worry that our shopping areas will be taken over by misdirected rioters who set up camp and intimidate gutless, city officials into acquiescing to their desires. Here, parents of toddlers playing in the front yard or youngsters watching television don’t have to guard against flying bullets. Here, store owners don’t need to plywood the windows on their stores or protect against thieves helping themselves to whatever loot they can carry away. Here, the American flag is revered, not burned.

Let us count our blessings, and even though there always are reminders (like unwanted geese) that small-town life might not be perfect, I imagine that most of us wouldn’t live anywhere else.

Happy Father’s Week

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

The brilliant philosopher, Rodney Dangerfield, once said, “I get no respect.” As a father, I appreciate that statement. There are times when I get no respect. For example, for Mother’s Day, the kids went all out. Momma got breakfast in bed, a spa treatment, lunch at a fancy restaurant, jewelry, flowers, a magnificent steak dinner, followed by coffee and dessert. For Father’s Day, I got a coupon for a half-price kid’s meal and a pair of socks.

So, my family was shocked when on Monday I announced that it isn’t Father’s “Day,” it’s Father’s “Week.” I said, “All week long we are going to celebrate Dad.” My announcement was met with audible sighs and rolling eyes. One of my precious children said, “Whatever!”

What is Father’s Week? It is a week where I get the TV remote – I choose what shows we watch. For Father’s Week, we are watching John Wayne movies and bad TV preachers. I like John Wayne, well, because he’s John Wayne. I like bad TV preachers because I like to make fun of them. One guy, who claimed to have the power to heal all manner of sickness, was wearing a cheap toupee. If that guy could heal, don’t you think he should be able to heal himself up some hair? But I digress…

Father’s Week means that I get to take undisturbed naps in the middle of the day. I get ice cream and cookies with every meal. I get to sit on the porch and read a book while the family mows the grass. I get unlimited refills on my glass of iced tea. I get the first fruits (that’s biblical) of all junk food that comes into the house. I get waited on hand and foot.

So far, none of my children are on board with Father’s Week. Oddly enough, my wife isn’t either. Maybe I have the wrong idea about my role versus their roles.

Similarly, Christians often get the wrong idea about their role versus God’s role. Sometimes we think God is sitting in heaven, waiting to meet our needs. God is indeed a loving Father who provides for us, but He doesn’t exist to serve us.

The truth is that we exist for God. He created us and has equipped us to serve Him. The Bible says that we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which He prepared beforehand so we would do them. Everything about us was designed by God to equip us for the work He preordained long before our birth.

The point is: God uniquely created you, and He has provided you with everything you need to serve and glorify Him. All you must do is step out in obedience and fully rely on His grace and power.

Are you serving your Heavenly Father like you should? Get busy serving Him.

Oh, and Happy Father’s Week.

I must go now. The kids have stolen the TV remote again…

James Collins is the pastor of First Southern Baptist Church. Follow him on Twitter @collins_point, Facebook James Collins “The Point Is,” or at the website


Due to the county health order dated June 24, First Southern Baptist Church will have Drive-In Church this Sunday, June 28, and next Sunday, July 5. People can safely social distance by staying in their car and listening to the service on 88.7 FM.


Be On Guard by Patty LaRoche

He’s something, isn’t he? He and his friends hang out on the pier where my stepdaughter Nanette lives in California. Last December, Dave and I were there, and on our early-morning walk, “Birdy” perched harmlessly along the rail. Other pelicans—not as large or arrogant—occupied space nearby, but my eyes were drawn only to this stately creature, wings outstretched, as if showing off his finest Yoga move.

On our return, Dave was several steps ahead of me, fascinated with the local fishermen’s catches. I lingered to watch an elderly woman, encircled by Birdy’s friends congregated at her feet, begging for their morning ration of bread crumbs.

Birdy, not one to lower himself to mere croutons, sat, loftily looking down at the feeding frenzy below. I was drawn to him, enticed by his self-importance. That’s when I shot this picture…and that’s when the unexpected became…well, in my case, the expected.

I turned my attention to where Dave had sauntered, just in time to get hit upside my head with what felt like a bowling ball, causing me to stagger enough that some passersby caught me before I rammed into the rail. Suddenly I was getting more attention than Bird-Feeder-Woman. “Wow! He hit you really hard.” “Are you all right? I’ve never seen anything like that, and I come here every day.”

(Like I said, “expected.”)

Apparently, Birdy had attempted to take flight, but his body acted more like a 747 than a normal, 12-pound pelican. Or he was punishing me for taking my eyes off of him. All I know is, my “harmless” bird-buddy was anything but. My head was proof.

Have you ever been stunned when something you considered harmless, wasn’t? It could be as simple as a bad shrimp or leaving your purse in a shopping cart or an impromptu bet gone bad. Or maybe it was something more. A life-long friendship turned sour. A brotherly investment in which you ended up holding the empty bag. A one-time, sneak-peek at a porn sight that betrayed your spouse’s trust. The list is endless. I’m betting we all have a Birdy story.

Adam and Eve sure did. Enticed by the “harmless” serpent, they tasted the forbidden fruit, and sin entered the world.

Samson sure did. One “harmless” look at Delilah caused him his ultimate blindness and death.

King David sure did. His “harmless” lust for Bathsheba turned to immense grief for him and his family.

Your Birdy won’t by my Birdy, but we deceive ourselves when we foolishly fail to recognize the warning signs. Birdy’s wings were not a harmless Yoga move. They were a “Get out of my way, Dummy! I’m getting ready to take flight” move.

Jesus warned us to beware of what we treat as “harmless”: sin and evil. He said: “Watch out! Be on guard” (Luke 12:15). Had I applied that with Birdy, I would have saved myself one gigantic headache…which, yes, I realize, is better than an eternal one.