Seen A Scary Movie Lately?

 From the beginning of tinseltown history, one of the goals of one particular genre of movie was to scare viewers enough to make them jump out of their seats! There have been more attempts than can be counted, and most of them failed. It is the ones that succeeded that we remember. And since we are close to Halloween, I thought I would ask you …. what in your opinion are the top five scary movies of all time?

There are many elements that go into a scary movie. The dark theater. The expectation that something scary is going to happen…we just do not know when. People who do dumb things when confronted with dangerous situations. (“Hey, let’s lock ourselves in the closet until help comes!” or “I know what to do … let’s stop and ask that man with a giant hook for directions.”) Of supreme importance is the soundtrack. Scary movie music makes so many scenes memorable. The Ja-Ja-Ja-Son-Son-Son whispered in Friday the 13th, the relenteless nerve-jangling piano riff of Halloween, or the horrifying terse chords of the shower scene in Psycho. More than all of that, though, is the sense of impending danger for the people in the movie, and by extension, for you.

The older I get, the less I can watch anything with much gore in it. I don’t know if that’s just me or what. These days I’d rather see a good comedy or a mystery. I see so many terrible things in the news that these things seem more real to me than they did when I was a teenager. Of course the special effects have increased the realism of these movies quite a bit since I was a teenager. A really bad disease among scary movies is the endless remaking of the same story in part 1, part 2, part 3, and so on! Never as good as the originals, the sequals are almost always a let down. But there are different kinds of scary movies. I prefer the gothic otherworld type of scary movie to the hack-em-up-hang-em-up kinds. Some movies do a good job of combining the two. I guess different things give people goosebumps, so my list might not be like yours, but I’m interested in reading yours. Here are the top five movies that were scary enough to remember. There are many others, but I think these deserve the nod for Big Poppa’s top scary movie picks, in no particular order.

Halloween. The original (and what should have been the only one!) had me sitting on my feet and yelling for Jamie Lee Curtis to run a little faster please! Halloween II was almost as good, but the formula was wearing thin. I think I stopped watching after #III, which was awful. Donald Pleasance was awesome as the unstoppable Dr. Loomis, the psychaitrist who had been Michael Myers’ doctor before he escaped. Scream Queen Jamie Lee Curtis sets the tone for the movie by being vulnerable, pretty, scared, alone, and a target.

The Others. It’s got everything … a big practically empty mansion, fog, unusual events that go unexplained, ghosts, creepy people in trusted positions, a romance…. just a great classic gothic tale that surprises you at the end with something you had considered, but dismissed. Nicole Kidman’s performance is flawless. This is a good one for young people who like spooky tales … no cursing, no nudity, no gore … all the things that film producers today think we have to endure to have a good movie. Not so!

A Nightmare on Elm Street. Go ahead, rent it. Turn the lights out. Get under a blanket and watch this creepfest which introduces Freddie Krugger to the horror movie world. Like many franchises, this one has been overused, overworked, and overthrown into the garbage bin. However, the first one was quite scary. We’ve all had nightmares. What if they started coming true? That was the basis of Wes Craven’s films that would invite the audience into that world where things happen that make us scream.

Poltergiest. Hey, ghosts are scary, and this movie is packed with them. Mean ones, too. Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams are perfect as the parents left with no idea how to retrieve their daughter from the television set….or from the other world that’s being picked up by the television set. Steven Spielberg’s story has you on the edge of your seat for most of the ride. Line from the movie that sometimes makes it into my everyday conversation: “Go to the light, Carol Anne“.

The Sixth Sense. I’ll never forget that feeling when the ring hit the floor. We already knew about Bruce Willis, but two big introductions were made with this movie. M. Night Shyamalan has now floored us with several outstanding movies that each had their surprising moments (The Village, Signs, Unbreakable, etc.), but he never pulled back the curtain quite like he did in The Sixth Sense. The other introduction was Haley Joel Osment, who was outstanding in the movie but never has really found a niche since. New sentence introduced into the American vocabulary: “I see dead people.” I saw a shirt even today that said, “I see dumb people”.

It was hard to pick. There are so many others like Psycho, The Ring, and even an oldie that creeped me out called “The House That Wouldn’t Die” with Barbara Stanwyck. Well, anyway, let’s hear yours! And remember… scary moments are all a matter of perspective.  



Before we go, let me update you on how things went at Central today. Groups from North Carolina and Oklahoma worked around the church building painting and putting up sheetrock on the ceiling in the foyer and hallways. Pictures are up on my picture page. Both of those groups will leave Sunday. They are doing an outstanding job!  

Thanks for all the comments on the last post. Hope you have a great weekend!

Before You Criticize…

Great Smokey Mountains, October 2006. Picture by Cecil May, 3.

We have two groups of college students here at the moment. On a second visit is Randy Gore and five energetic students from North Carolina State. They arrived this afternoon. Last time he was here was back in May, so things have changed quite a bit. Also here is Charles Schaffer and a good group of students from Tallequah, Oklahoma. They drove all night last night to be here first thing in the morning. Today the students worked in the yard of an elderly woman in very poor health, helping put up a chain link fence around her yard. This is important for her because of her dog that she has a hard time managing without a fence. There is no way this lady could chase her dog if it escaped. Pet owners will testify that these little creatures become important family members….especially for the elderly who live alone and depend on their company. Another part of the crew worked at the church building, tearing down ceiling tiles down both halls and in the foyer. Tomorrow we hope to begin placing sheetrock in their place. Painting continues as we await carpet samples and chair fabric samples.

Among the blessings I enjoyed today was a lunch with Al Sturgeon and Roy Stephenson. Roy is an old friend that I first met when I was a student at Magnolia Bible College. He was preaching in Eupora, Mississippi. His father in law, Wyatt Kirk, was a tract writer and preacher. Roy loaded up a couple of us students with lots of tracts and materials to use. We spent time together at Sardis Lake Christian Camp where I remember once that Roy wrote something like 15 verses to the tune of “Seek Ye First”. He and his wife DJ are both good singers. I was reacquainted with Roy as he was the minister for both the Orange Grove and Ocean Springs churches of Christ on the Coast during the time I have been at Central. Roy is compassionate, kind, and a genuine Christian who does not put on airs. And he is over 7 feet tall! It was a good visit. I neglected to get a picture, if you can believe it! Oh, and it was good to see Al as well….but that is always the case.

Loving the critical and hurtful brother or sister in your church is one of your biggest challenges. An equal challenge is not becoming one of them in response. In fact, a handful of critics (and there are usually only a few) can occupy your mind. Answering them indirectly can consume your time and turn your spirit bitter. Critics want something. However, they do not accomplish what they really want because they make some big mistakes. So, they keep on croaking out their criticisms, see nothing happen because of it, feel overlooked, and then croak some more. So, I have some suggestions for critics that will help them with some skills they missed in the school of life along the way somewhere. Before you criticize

*Remember That Your Point of View Is Not The Only One. You may be right in your perceptions, but maybe not. Spend some time thinking about the point of view of the person you are criticizing. They are likely not evil people, but they have taken a viewpoint that is different than yours for a reason. That doesn’t automatically mean that they are wrong. If we can at least admit this possibility, then we are curbing our critical spirit already! You do not have to agree with them, but understanding the other person is a real asset toward resolution.

*Have A Friendly Chat With The Person. Perhaps you need to walk a mile in their shoes. You won’t be able to do that until you spend some time with them and get to know them better. Be nice, but feel free to be bold and ask. Open up the discussion at a time when you can both have time to express yourselves and be able to talk things through. There is nothing wrong with DISCUSSION. Talk things out! Be passionate about it, but not mean-spirited. Too often critics just assume they know what the person would say, and thus rob the person of a chance to give an explanation.

*Decide How Important This Issue Really Is. Sometimes people get all in a tear about something ‘down at church’ when the things that they are upset about are things not even found in the Bible. Traditions are not bad in themselves, but they become bad when they divide people from one another. Is this just a preference? Then express it and let it go. We all have preferences, and yours is no more important than anyone else’s. I’ve seen sad cases when people have taken traditions and preferences and attached Bible verses to them in a weak attempt to try to make everyone else conform to their wishes. Let’s hope everyone reading this blog has grown up beyond that kind of childish behavior.

*Ask Yourself If You Have Paid Attention To The Problems In Your Own Life. So many critics I have met seem to be oblivious to the gigantic problems in their own life. Especially those critics who focus on doctrine / theology. Not always, but usually the big struggles in their own life suggest that maybe they need to put the teachings of Jesus into PRACTICE before trying to TELL someone else what they ought to do. Why don’t you become a friend to the person you criticize so harshly, and ask them to pray with you about your own dilemmas. Grace is a great leveler of the playing field of life. In other words, are things so righteous in your own life that you have time to tend to someone else’s problems? Have you been busy winning someone to the Lord? Why not?

*Do You Love The Person You Are Criticizing? Be careful! If this were your son or daughter, would you be a bit more lenient with them? Would you give them a little more time to come around if they were your mother or father? If they were your wife or husband, would you take a long-term view of resolving the conflict and work toward small positive steps? It’s easy to pounce upon a stranger. Who cares if it makes them angry? But someone you love…well…that’s a different story. Love does not mean we withhold a bold conversation if one is needed. But it does change how we speak to someone else, and it does change our willingness to be apart from them.

*Explore What Others Are Saying. We may not realize that we’re the ones operating in the dark. Do some reading. Talk to some other people about subjects that trouble you. Realize that you are not the only one who thinks as you do, and neither is the person you are criticizing. That does not determine right and wrong, it only lets you know that there must be something to discuss on the matter and find out what those things are.

*Pursue Bible Study, Not Just Bible Re-reading. Ask questions as you read through the Scriptures about the subject that’s bothering you. Look at the ‘proof texts’ you would normally use to address this subject. Do they really say what you think they are saying? Are you reading ideas / thoughts / words into the text? Let the Scriptures lead you, not the other way around. And always let the Spirit lead you, which will be evident by His fruit on display in your heart and life.

*Pray Often. Pray for those whom you criticize. Pray for mercy. Pray to use ‘righteous judgment’ – there is such a thing. However we usually misuse that Bible thought and exchange it for something that is often a long way from ‘righteous’. We have the ‘judgment’ part down right! Pray for wisdom. Pray for opportunities to do something better than dissect someone else’s actions or thoughts.

*Love Always. I mentioned it a few times, but love always. Love is not easy. It is not a baby word or a namby pamby cotton candy fluff ball. It is a true reflection of discipleship. It will move you to treat those with whom you disagree with respect and dignity.

*Be Prepared To Experience Something Different. I believe that if you will approach things with these things in mind, you will find a different reception. Complainers will always complain. Everyone learns to ignore them. Step out of the crowd by becoming a loving brother or sister who is an active part of the church, who demonstrates genuine care. Your experience will be much different. Someone will actually listen. And you might get what you want for a change. But if not, you will have been heard, acknowledged, and respected.

 If I speak in the tonguesof men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.










-Sunset on Dough Joe’s Coffee Shop Porch-

 It’s been a busy couple of days around Central. We have moved a bit further in our building repairs. Paul England and crew worked on our overhead lights and got them in good shape. Elsie England painted a good bit in the foyer. We’ve ordered our screen for the front of the auditorium and set in motion the shipping of carpet samples and chair fabric choices. It is very exciting to see all of these changes coming about so quickly.

We had a good night tonight as we gathered together for the Central Family Devotional. One aspect that made this such a great night was Colton’s baptism. Colton and a friend of his met with me last week to talk about being baptized. Colton decided to go ahead and be baptized tonight. He has a great heart and I think he will be a big asset to our youth group and the church as a whole. He was brought by some friends who are members at Central. The powerful testimony of friendship is a great way to share the good news of Jesus Christ with those we love. Anyhow…we rejoice with Colton and those who have been bringing him to church with them. There are pics of Colton and work around the Central building on my picture page (linked to the right).

I know it’s trivial, but what’s to like about DEAL OR NO DEAL? After all, it’s a very slow game with overdone musical cues and fancy lighting. What’s up with those shiny attache cases everywhere? And the fabulous models…come on … who can do better than Vanna? Ultimately it’s a greed-controlled game where greed is cheered on. Howie Mandel is supposed to be funny, not a hairless somber toned mercenary for ‘the banker’.  So, I’m going to just have to watch this relentlessly to see if they change any of those details to please me. Until then I will continue to try not to like this show.

Some have asked about my health, a dangerous thing to do these days. I’m getting quite a list. I have some kind of veinous problem in my left leg that seems to be flaring up more and more often. It is accompanied by nausea, fever, and sometimes tremors. I went to the doctor yesterday and they did an ultrasound to confirm that I had no blood clots. I’m taking an antibiotic and they did a blood panel. Next week I’ll see a vascular specialist to see if he can recommend any permanent solutions. In the meantime I’ll meet with the surgeon for a consult on a possible carpal tunnel syndrome surgery. I’m only 42….and falling apart already!

Join in some ongoing discussions….

Danny Dodd says it’s all about Presence.

Greg England tells us how to make someone’s day.

Bobby Cohoon reflects on a time when it could be too late.

John Alan Turner asks about the location of our treasure.

Wade Tannehill longs for a church without walls.

Peace from a picture? Ask Dee.

Tommy Dublin’s Wife Carrie Starts a New Blog.

Tommy Dublin Gets Himself a New Blog!

Thanks for reading. My yawns are telling me it’s time for bed. God bless you richly!

Still Enough To Hear


Still by Reuben Morgan, Hillsong Church, Australia

Hide me now
Under your wings
Cover me
within your mighty hand

When the oceans rise and thunders roar
I will soar with you above the storm
Father you are king over the flood
I will be still and know you are God

Find rest my soul
In Christ alone
Know his power
In quietness and trust

STILL became sort of a theme song for me after the storm. It appeared on one of the Zoe Worship CDs, and that’s where I heard it first. Hillsongs  artist Reuben Morgan is the author of the words and music. Just look at the words. They are the perfect encouragement for the Katrina-damaged Coast. It is only through the power of God – most often displayed through the incredible talents of His amazing volunteer force – that we have been able to recover. At almost 14 months since the storm, we look forward to hosting groups from South Carolina (second visit) and Oklahoma this weekend.  One of my brother’s friends just came to Pascagoula for six weeks in a work assignment. He is from Texas and says he didn’t realize there was so much reconstruction going on here. We have said from the beginning that no one around the nation knows about Pascagoula, but it still catches me by surprise. In all of the things we deal with here, we continue to learn the truth that we must be still enough to hear God’s voice.

I have a short speaking trip with some open spots coming up soon. Here are some of those open spots, and if you would like to have me come and report about what’s happening here in the recovery effort, I would be happy to do so. Just contact me ASAP!

October 29th PM In the Atlanta area

November 1st somewhere between Atlanta, GA and Chatanooga, TN

November 5 PM in the Athens, TN area

Thanks to friends and fellow bloggers Dee Andrews, Tommy Stewart and Donna Gossett I have been invited to participate in the GraceNotes blog. I have received invitations before, but just felt I could even think about doing it. I admire the other writers who are associated with that blog and I am grateful for one more invitation to contribute there. Now to come up with something worthwhile to post there!

What’s going on at Central? Glad you asked. We had a great worship time yesterday which included some volunteers from the Berry’s Chapel Church of Christ in Franklin, TN. This was their first trip to Pascagoula and we hope they return. I preached from Acts 15, but have not posted it to the podcast yet.  (Actually I have a software issue between my digital recorder and the computer … I’ll get it resolved at some point!) Unfortunately during the service I began to feel ill, fever was taking hold and nausea began to come in waves. I made it through the sermon and class and went home to lay down for the rest of the day without much relief. One good thing that made me feel better was the awesome win the Saints accomplished in the last 3 seconds of the game! It’s our year, folks! There’s something healing about our team doing so well. But not healing to my body. I’ll see the doctor tomorrow morning. Sunday evening about 18 of our folks went over and worshiped with the Gautier Church of Christ. On third Sunday nights we are visiting area churches. Dorice Mitchell is the minister for that church. He was at Central for about 30 years…so it was good for us to visit with an old friend.

Today was a rainy day on the Coast, so the work inside the building progressed. Elsie England painted some of the walls in the foyer. Elaine Kilbern and Jim Ingram scrubbed glass panels from the lighting fixtures in the auditorium. An electrician working with England Construction fixed our lights on the side (that haven’t worked since the storm), began replacing ballasts, and sealing up a place in the lighting area that should have been sealed when it was installed.  Maybe others were there to help, but those are the ones I know about. I always hate to mention names because I know I’ll leave out someone who deserves a mention.

A couple of elderly ladies we have helped since the storm invited David and Elaine Kilbern to a revival at Riverside Baptist Church tonight. They chose to visit and enjoyed seeing many people that we have helped in the past year. Several of those present expressed their gratitude for the Central Church of Christ and for David’s work. This was even expressed from the pulpit during the assembly. I’m glad that David was able to be encouraged by that. We will never really know what an impact we are having on this community.

I’ve got a lot of things on my mind to post here this week. I want to continue my thoughts about the church from the previous post. I also want to post my review of Chapter 4 of Kingdom Come. I’m sorry I’ve been so long about that. I also want to do reviews of two new CDs that I recently purchased. I’m breaking out in a sweat thinking about all of that! I better get busy! But, sometime I’ve got to be Still Enough To Hear!

I’d like to share some blogs that caught my attention.

Danny Dodd wonders why our college students are heading out of churches of Christ and into heavily traditional churches.

Gary Kirkendall asks pertinent questions about instrumental music. I think it is great to ask questions. That’s a way that we grow. Every time I post something like this, though, someone wants to know when Central began using a piano. Just for clarification we are an acappella church of Christ and always will be. Some of us are that because of conviction, and some of us because of tradition. I personally do not regard it an issue that relates to salvation. There are probably some members at Central who think differently on this matter than I do.

Patrick Mead is sure to put a smile on your face with this post.

Larry Mouser discusses the attitude of My Way or the Highway!

Minimum Wage is under discussion at Larry James’ Urban Daily.

Join some fellow bloggers in a discussion of Philip Yancey’s Prayer, Does It Make A Difference? Starts October 21.

Separating the past from the present, Royce Ogle reminds us of who we are.

Infant Baptism and Original Sin, Preacherman tackles tough topics.

Nancy French’s New Book may be in a bookstore near you!

Make your own lightning graphic!

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Healing Rain


Michael W. Smith, Healing Rain

Healing rain is coming down
It’s coming nearer to this old town
Rich and poor, weak and strong
It’s bringing mercy, it won’t be long

Healing rain is coming down
It’s coming closer to the lost and found
Tears of joy, and tears of shame
Are washed forever in Jesus’ name

Healing rain, it comes with fire
So let it fall and take us higher
Healing rain, I’m not afraid
To be washed in Heaven’s rain

Lift your heads, let us return
To the mercy seat where time began
And in your eyes, I see the pain
Come soak this dry heart with healing rain

And only You, the Son of man
Can take a leper and let him stand
So lift your hands, they can be held
By someone greater, the great I Am

Healing rain, it comes with fire
So let it fall and take us higher
Healing rain, I’m not afraid
To be washed in Heaven’s rain

To be washed in Heaven’s rain…

Healing rain is falling down
Healing rain is falling down
I’m not afraid
I’m not afraid…

Healing. We all need some healing from God’s merciful touch. Our own hearts need healing. Our families need healing. Our country needs healing. And our churches need to be healed as well. Somehow we have arrived at a place where we have time to demonstrate a fascination with trivia while those within our touch remain in pain. As I read through the gospels I notice that the only one that gives a leper the time of day is the Son of God. The rabbis and the teachers are too busy counting beans to notice the bloody body on the side of the road. The disciples themselves are shooing away children so that that Prince of Peace may perform his miracles without interruption. The Romans go about their state business, without so much as a glance at the lame man at the gate. Good thing one lame man had some friend to drop him through the roof to be placed strategically in front of Jesus. The crowds who were ooohing and ahhhing at his teaching certainly couldn’t be bothered to get out of the way. And we are no different.

Just watch us as we territorially claim our pews at the church. Can you believe we actually talk about “our pews” and who is sitting on them? And we focus on what people are wearing, noting who has something new and who should have given second thought to their current outfit. We note the hair and the smell and the shoes of others. It’s either too cold or too hot in the church building. Someone prayed too long, or they used a phrase I didn’t like. The preacher is too cynical, or too sarcastic, or too boring, or too loud, or too soft spoken, and why doesn’t he stand still? Why do I never hear sermons like we used to hear? What version of the Bible is he using this week? You would think that someone would take that noisy kid out. Don’t they know they are going over time? And by that time the ‘worship service’ is over and we head out the door.

I know that this is an exaggeration. It’s not that bad. Is it? Even if it is only a half-truth, it would be hard to deny that these kinds of things go through our minds when we assemble. And if those kinds of things are crowding our minds, I wonder if Jesus has much of a chance of getting there? And I wonder when it is that we might take a look around and notice the one who is dressed the worst, smells the worst, acts out of place, talks much too loudly, and isn’t much to look at. I mean we look for those people because there in our midst is an opportunity to share the love of God with someone who needs Him so desperately. Some of “those people” may have more faith than we do! They certainly cannot depend upon their money, jobs, families, and savings to get them through tough times. It very well could be that while we share our love with them, they could share their faith with us.

A Spirit-filled family of believers looks beyond these outward circumstances to the beautiful person within. More than that, we seek to reach the broken heart of people who need to know His mercy. We are never more the church than when we offer a kind word, a helping hand, a follow up call, and a genuine smile. And that is the kind of definition of ‘church’ that seldom gets any air time. A friend recently went to a christening at another church. The baby that was being christened was newly born into this family … longtime friends of my friend. It is a family that has had a horrific time recovering from Katrina. As a show of support and love, my friend missed assembling with us to stand by his friend in a time that was important to him. It’s the wrong time to ask about theological differences between friends. It is the right time to be the heart and voice of Jesus.

And that’s troubling my heart about the church these days. Not just Central, practically every church I know. And not just churches of Christ. Theological battles are raging between people reading the same Book. Lines are drawn in the sand and division becomes common. While we eat one another alive, tell me where is the church that does not ignore the poor people all around their building? Where is the church that is not operating to keep wealthy, socially-connected, employed-with-benefits kind of people happy and satisfied? Show me the church where decisions are made based upon the incredible needs of the community, reaching out in every effort to bless those who have no one to care. It is my theory that a vast majority of people in this country who call themselves “Christians” mean by that term that they are nice people who assemble most Sunday mornings at the same church. If this is so, even those who are theologically correct still do not qualify for the title they bear.

I know this is not always the way it is. There are many exceptional people who break the mold.

What I hear reported, though, is that in most congregations there are a very few people who are carrying the load of mercy. Our communities need the healing rain of God’s mercy and grace. But pinpointing problems is a lot easier than solving them. What do we do about it? More in the coming days.