Wednesday, May 23, 2007

McEachern Memorial UMC

It has been a while since I have posted, but I wanted to wait until an official announcement had been made at my new church about my arrival as their new Senior Pastor. That announcement was made this past Sunday at McEachern Memorial UMC in Powder Springs, GA; one of the Atlanta suburbs (so, yes, I am going to have to change my comment about where I live in my profile). McEachern is a 3,000 member church that has averaged 1,130 people in worship since the beginning of the year, according to their Lay Leader. I am very excited about this appointment, and hope to be there for many years.

The Army's crackdown on blogs and emails is making posting to my blog more difficult. I believe this is a huge error on the part of the Army. It is no secret that we are losing the Information War to Al-Jezeera. Blogs are a way that Soldiers can give a boots on the ground perspective of what is happening here. All too often it is a view that goes completely unnoticed in the mainstream media back home. An example is the piece on this blog entitled "Soldiers". It talks about my experience during the National Anthem here in Balad; you will not find that kind of story on CNN, MSNBC, or FOX. OK, enough preaching. Just know that I will be posting to my blog less frequently over the next few months I am here. That is a real shame because I had jumped up from 40-60 hits a day to some days over 500.

I anticipate being home in early August, and my first Sunday at McEachern ( should be 26 Aug. Please consider this to be an invitation to attend the first Sunday at 1100.

Thanks for all you are doing to support our troops. My time here will be over soon - only 9 Sundays left. I can't wait to get back home and see you all again.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

This Space Reserved

Next Sunday, May 20th, the announcement will be made in a congregation of the North Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church that I will be their new Senior Pastor. This space is reserved for me to tell you about the church after that announcement is made.

This is what I can tell you: I, and my family, are very excited. I hope to stay at this church for a long time; I retire in 20-25 years. I wonder if they'll let me stay that long?

My family visited the church last Saturday and got a tour of the parsonage. Afterwards the Staff-Parish Relations Committee had a cookout and pool party to get to know the better half of the Higgins family a little better. Afterwards my wife said, "We are going to fit in there so well!" She loved the people she met, and they made her feel welcome.

So, in a few days I can tell you more about the church. And if you're not doing anything on the 26th of August, come worship with us! That will be (Lord willing) my first Sunday.

Monday, May 14, 2007


I recently attended a showing of "Spiderman 3" here at LSA Anaconda. We have a large auditorioum we use for movies as well as memorial services and other large gatherings. As is the custom back in the States, we stood and snapped to attention when the National Anthem began before the main feature. All was going as planned until about three-quarters of the way through the National Anthem the music stopped.

Now, what would happen if this occurred with 1,000 18-22 year-olds back in the States? I imagine there would be hoots, catcalls, laughter, a few rude comments, and everyone would sit down and call for a movie. Of course, that is, if they had stood for the National Anthem in the first place.

Here, the 1,000 Soldiers continued to stand at attention, eyes fixed forward.

The music started again. The Soldiers continued to quietly stand at attention. And again, at the same point, the music stopped. What would you expect to happen? Even here I would imagine laughter as everyone sat down and expected the movie to start.

Here, you could have heard a pin drop. Every Soldier stood at attention. Suddenly there was a lone voice, then a dozen, and quickly the room was filled with the voices of a thousand Soldiers<

And the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air,

gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.

O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,

o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

It was the most inspiring moment I have had here in Iraq. I wanted you to know what kind of Soldiers are serving you here.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Heat Is On

Summer is arriving in Iraq. Yesterday afternoon we hit 104 degrees. The forecast for coming days is:

Today 107
Thursday 100
Friday 107
Saturday 96
Sunday 104

For those of you who like numbers, here are a few of the stats for my blog for the past week:

Page Loads: 1,589
Unique Visitors: 822
First Time Visitors: 613

I wonder how many of these people are from West Cobb County, GA? Hmmm. . .

My profile on the site now has 1,496 views which means I better change that picture!

Thanks for visiting. I'm leading our third Marriage Enrichment Workshop tomorrow morning. Pray for the Soldiers who will attend, that marriages might be strengthened.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

I AM an American Soldier

Courtesy of US Army

Several days ago we were waiting for a visiting dignitary when our PAO snapped this shot. The words on the T-barriers behind me are part of The Soldier's Creed. In full the creed reads,

I am an American Soldier.
I am a Warrior and member of a team.
I serve the people of the United States and live the Army Values.
I will always place the mission first.
I will never accept defeat.
I will never quit.
I will never leave a fallen comrade.
I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough,
trained and proficient in my warrior tasks and drills.
I always maintain my arms, my equipment and myself.
I am an expert and I am a professional.
I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy
the enemies of the United States of America in close combat.
I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life.
I am an American Soldier.

Friday, May 04, 2007


It is interesting to see the changes in Soldiers during the 14 months we have been mobilized and the 8+ months we have been deployed.

Some of the changes are physical. One Soldier was telling me that during the time we have been in Iraq he has gained 20 pounds - most of it in the last few months. Some Soldiers have gained much more. The food, while not good, is plentiful. Long, stressful days leave little time for exercise if you are not motivated and disciplined. Another Soldier told me about losing 60 pounds! Beleive me, I had noticed. She joined a weight control program and began running three days a week. She went home for leave last week and had not told her husband she had lost the weight. What a surprise! I ate lunch with a Soldier I had never met before yesterday, and he told me about losing 45 pounds here from eating well, exercise, and not being able to drink beer.

Other changes are noticeable through actions. Some folks are angry. They feel that their lives have been put on hold. Some Soldiers were called back from the Inactive Ready Reserve; they have already been here at least once and thought they were through with the military. Many of us are just weary from the grueling pace of many months away from home. Many folks are discovering for the first time what they are made of. Some of these Soldiers have never left their home towns and are proud of what they are doing. Many of our young men and women have never left their home state, much less the country. The sense of self-reliance is freeing for them.

The most gratifying for me, of course, are those who are changing spiritually. The growth in faith, stripped away from all the pretenses of the American culture, is amazing. Many of us have learned that we can live, even thrive, without many of the things we thought were so important back home. Here we have learned not to fear those who can kill the body, but to focus on eternal matters. Many of our Soldiers are making first time decisions to live for Christ; others are rededicating themselves to serving in the Kingdom. I am especially enjoying the six month long study of what it means to live life as a Christian man that I am leading with a group of guys here.

So, there are changes; some good, some bad. Pray for us as we seek to change in ways that are pleasing to God.