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“Farmin'” from The Times and Democrat

“Farmin'” from The Times and Democrat

“This is wrong” by Stuart Neiman

“This is wrong” by Stuart Neiman

Living on Purpose: A closer look at the Great Commission

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

I love to write (and talk) and all who know me will agree that I am not a man of few words. As a windy minister, it only seems logical that I would be involved in the world of communication. For the last few years I’ve been writing “Living on purpose” and it’s truly been a pleasure. I just want to say that I sincerely appreciate all of you that take the time to read the column and the many thoughtful and encouraging emails that I receive each week. I’ve been writing sermons, articles and music for a long time which eventually branched into a weekly blog. From there it evolved into being accepted as a regular weekly columnist with my local newspaper two and half years ago and has now expanded larger than I could have ever imagined. Just like shooting basketball or playing the piano, God’s grace works together with our faith and diligence. However, I also realize that sitting in front of the computer everyday can only take me so far which is why I must listen and daily depend on Him to somehow use me to relay what He wants to say. It’s amazing how the Lord can use our gifts and talents for His glory even if it’s something like the gift of gab!  Read the rest of this entry »

Greenwood music legend, Swingin’ Medallions founder John McElrath dies

John McElrath

By Richard Whiting, Index-Journal
rwhiting@indexjournal.com

Greenwood’s “Songbird” has gone silent.

John Grady McElrath, founder of the Swingin’ Medallions, succumbed to his long battle with Parkinson’s disease. He died at home Saturday at age 77.

McElrath was more than the founder of the Party Band of the South. He was the glue that kept the band together through its many iterations for more than 50 years since that day a handful of kids listened to and began to emulate rhythm and blues they heard while sitting in McElrath’s yard in the early 1960s.

Drummer and original Medallion member Joe Morris recalls fondly just how integral his friend was to the Swingin’ Medallions, from the band’s birth to its current lineup, which includes McElrath’s sons, Shawn and Shane.

“We used to sit out in John’s front yard and listen to rhythm and blues music, coming from the back door of a local, little club there in Ninety Six,” he said Monday during a phone interview.

“That’s where we sorta got our love for rhythm and blues music. That formed the type music we did. Over the years there’s been quite a few guys come and go through the band. … I left the group after college, around ’68. The amazing thing is that John kept it going for all those years.

“I remember when I left the group, he said, ‘Man, I wish you wouldn’t leave. We can do this the rest of our life.’ It’s always stuck with me,” Morris said while holding back tears.

Original members of the Swingin’ Medallions pose for a photo during a reunion concert at Chastain Park in Atlanta, in the early 1980s. From left are Charlie Webber (deceased), John McElrath, Jimmy “Jimbo” Doares, Joe Morris, Brent Fortson, Steve Caldwell (deceased) and, placing bunny ears over Caldwell’s head, Carroll Bledsoe. In 2016, original and current members of the band came together in Uptown Greenwood to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the band’s national hit song “Double Shot (of My Baby’s Love).”

But Morris, like any member of the band through the years, never really left. He and others have continued to play with the Medallions through the years at reunion concerts and remain friends to this day, a testament to what McElrath liked to say: “Once a Swingin’ Medallion, always a Swingin’ Medallion.” Or, as “The Heeey Baby Days of Beach Music” author Greg Haynes put it on his tribute to McElrath on the band’s Facebook page, “Wear the scripted tee-shirt on stage once, ‘Swingin’ MEDALLIONS,’ wear it for life.”

So true.

Original member and trumpet player Carroll Bledsoe, who now lives in Hendersonville, North Carolina, performed with the band on Sunday night in Sandy Springs, Georgia, in an outdoor venue, as a tribute to his bandmate.

“If it hadn’t been for him, there wouldn’t have been any Swingin’ Medallions,” Bledsoe said during a phone call Monday.

Bledsoe has nearly wrapped up a book he had hoped to have out while his friend and bandmate was still alive. “The History of The Swingin’ Medallions — an Insider’s Viewpoint,” is expected to be out sometime in July.  Read the rest of this entry »

Life Without Fathers

Tom Poland

By Tom Poland

There’s something about being a writer that makes people confide in you. Why tell a writer, who uses life as raw material, your deepest secrets. But tell me they do, and sometimes their secrets break my heart.

I’ve known women who confided how much they hated their father. They had reason, they say. Several told me how hard life was with an alcoholic father. Others talked about how abusive their dads were, and some felt their father never gave them all they expected.

The extent to which these women vilified their dad shocked me. One woman changed her name legally so fervent was her hatred. She made up her mind to never speak to him again and never did. She didn’t even attend his funeral.

A brunette with brilliant blue eyes told me she faked love for her dad her entire life. Another woman never missed a chance to put her dad down. No matter what you discussed, she would work the conversation to a place where she could insult him. That stopped when he died. Only then did she consider that life had been tough on him. After all, life shapes us as surely as winds shape dunes. Only after he died did she realize he had had a hard life. For the first time, I saw tears in her eyes when she brought her dad up. It was too late to say, “I’m sorry” or “I love you.” The train had run.

Today, none of the sad women have fathers. They’ve all passed on. I write about these unfortunate women and their fathers because I think about my dad all the time. He passed away November 15, 2003. Unlike the women who heaped scorn on their dads, I realize, more than ever, that Dad gave me a wonderful life. I look across the years with the knowledge that I was loved and that I loved and respected my father. And I still do. Read the rest of this entry »

“Flight Plan” from The Times and Democrat

“Flight Plan” from The Times and Democrat

“Net News” from The Times and Democrat

“Net News” from The Times and Democrat

“Hospital Costs” from The Times and Democrat

“Hospital Costs” from The Times and Democrat

“America First America Alone” by Stuart Neiman

“America First America Alone” by Stuart Neiman

Living on Purpose: It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

I’m sure that many of you remember the man who portrayed the friendly neighbor in the popular children’s program known all over the world as Mister Rogers. Who can forget the childlike song that asked the question, “Won’t you be my neighbor?” With the macho crowd, he was labeled a sissy and downright creepy but to children, he was always a nice, polite, and comforting role model. There have been many false accusations about him through the years like the rumors about him having to wear long sleeve sweaters to hide his offensive tattoos. But these have all been proven to be nothing more than overactive imaginations and a display of how cruel our human nature can be. How sad to witness the moral convictions of our society falling so far away from God’s standards that when someone is acting normal the world believes they are weird. This reminds me of the scripture found in Isaiah chapter five that warns, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that exchange darkness for light, and light for darkness; that trade bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” Unfortunately, this is another example of how the harsh attitudes of the oppressors are always seeking to bully and criticize decent individuals who are trying to make the world a better place.  Read the rest of this entry »

Clint Bowyer Earns Second Win Of 2018 As Rain Soaks Michigan International Speedway

By: Camille Jones/TheFourthTurn.com

BROOKLYN, Mich. – Clint Bowyer captured his second victory of the season in Sunday’s rain-shortened Firekeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

The race was initially delayed due to rain before ending on lap 133 of 200 once the track became soaked from another rain shower. Bowyer’s Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14 Haas 30 Years of the VF1 Ford team made the call to take two tires under caution at the end of Stage 2, just before a caution flew again on lap 130 when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. went for a spin after contact from Kasey Kahne. Bowyer was racing his teammate, Kevin Harvick hard for the lead before the caution came out and rain quickly took over the area. The field made several laps under caution before the red flag came out and the race was called.

“It took something crazy on a restart to be able to get Kevin (Harvick),” said Bowyer. “That was a gutsy call. When we went out there on two tires I looked in the mirror and I was so far ahead of everybody else i was like, ‘Oh man, we are in trouble!’ The rain came just in enough time. I was trying to hold him off. I was cutting him off and taking his line away pretty bad. If it wasn’t for a win you wouldn’t be doing that. He was so much faster than me in one and two. I got down in three and just had to take his line because that bear was coming.”

Stewart-Haas Racing has now won seven of the first 15 races of the season with Bowyer claiming two wins and Harvick holding five wins so far. Read the rest of this entry »

“I haven’t read it yet” by Stuart Neiman

“I haven’t read it yet” by Stuart Neiman

Living on Purpose: Wisdom and knowledge are two different things

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

When it comes to having spiritual wisdom, it’s not how much we know but how much we understand. It’s one thing to have bags of information seeds stacked up in the barn of our mind, but more importantly, how many seeds have been planted and nurtured to take root within our heart? The devil and all of his helpers have worlds of spiritual knowledge but they do not allow it to penetrate their conscience and change who they are. Likewise, humans can also learn and accumulate information and then select what they believe because each person has been given the gift of free will. So, when it comes to spiritual knowledge, just because we read about how to live a victorious Christian life does not mean we will automatically be converted into a victorious overcomer. We must absorb His Word through our brain and into our spirit all the while learning how to surrender our will and discipline our flesh. Whew! These powder-puff sermons about strolling through life enjoying the overflowing storehouses of blessings are deceiving, to say the least. In reality, the true Christian life is not easy, in fact, the more serious we become the more difficult it will be. If we are genuinely born again, our spirit is connected with God’s Spirit and we have a wonderful opportunity to channel His energy into our being. If we can prevent our old corrupt nature from talking us out of it, we can be saved from ourselves but it’s going to take a burning passion and a total commitment. Being a follower of Jesus means we are accepting a golden opportunity to transform the way we think which will literally change who we are.  Read the rest of this entry »

Martin Truex Jr. Wins At Pocono Raceway To Earn Second Victory Of The 2018 Season

By: Hunter Thomas/TheFourthTurn.com

LONG POND, Pa. – Martin Truex Jr. captured his second victory of the season on Sunday in the Pocono 400 at Pocono Raceway.

Truex Jr. led twice for 31 laps throughout the afternoon in his Furniture Row Racing No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/5-hour ENERGY Toyota. A crash on a late restart that sent Erik Jones hard into the inside wall on the frontstretch, set the field up for a seven-lap dash to the finish. Truex Jr. held off Kyle Larson on the final restart as he went on to win his second race at the Tricky Triangle.

“Yes, you’re always concerned on restarts at Pocono,” Truex said about the final restart with seven laps to go. “So much can happen on those. We were luckily able to get a good one. I just can’t say enough about everyone on this team. Cole (Pearn, crew chief) and all of the guys. We did a good job last night. It’s been a really good weekend overall. I feel like we’re getting back to where we were last year.”

Larson was able to hold on for a second-place finish in his Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 DC Solar Chevrolet. The runner-up finish marks Larson’s fourth consecutive top-10 finish this season. On the final restart, Larson had an opportunity to overtake Truex for the lead, but he just wasn’t fast enough to pull off the move as the field headed into Turn 1. As Truex pulled away, Larson had to focus on defending second-place.  Read the rest of this entry »

“Just Thinkin'” from The Times and Democrat

“Just Thinkin'” from The Times and Democrat

“Full Circle” from The Times and Democrat

“Full Circle” from The Times and Democrat

“Conspiracies” from The Times and Democrat

“Conspiracies” from The Times and Democrat

Chinaberry’s Rise & Fall

Tom Poland

By Tom Poland

A lovely shade tree, I played beneath its canopy; rolled its berries in my palm. It stood seven yards beyond an old hand-dug well. I sucked nectar from delicate tubes in yellow-green tangles of fragrant honeysuckle just beyond the tree. Little did I know Mom and Dad considered that perfumed vine a pest. They tried and tried to get rid of it. Nothing worked until Granddad Poland brought in goats. They chewed it right to the ground and into oblivion.

Circa 1956, unlike today’s digital-dependent kids, I lived in a green world of trees, vines, and grass, and of all the trees in my boyhood, that shade tree, an old chinaberry, looms large, and now, lo and behold, I hear it’s a pest. My chinaberry’s an invasive? A nuisance?

“Oh shut your mouth, Little China Girl.” Say it ain’t so.

Well, it’s so. Like a bank robber in the Old West, it’s wanted. Bugwood Blog of the University of Georgia’s Center for Invasive Species requests we report chinaberries’ location. Times sure do change; once upon a time Southerners rolled out the welcome mat for chinaberries. I mentioned this to a Southern woman, Dreamcatcher, and days later she sent me a message.

“Every old Southern homeplace boasted at least one chinaberry tree. But like most old Southern cultures it has been erased from our history. Why? The answer is surprising. We are mandated by our government to not only be tolerant of but to embrace cultures and ideas that differ from ours. Yet our government dictates that plant species that are not native to our area are inherently evil and must be eradicated. Life in the backwoods was tough to say the least. Everything had a purpose. The chinaberry tree, aka poor mans shade tree, aka umbrella tree, was very important to a working farm. It provided shade around the homesite. The leaves were used in the dog pen to prevent fleas. The pulp in the berry was used to make a healing salve for sores on cattle. Berries were fed to hogs to prevent worms. The ladies of the house would string the berry seed to make jewelry. You, my sweet chinaberry tree, worked hard for us in the backwoods but now you must die. Such is progress.”  Read the rest of this entry »

“The best for me” by Stuart Neiman

“The best for me” by Stuart Neiman

“School Roll Call” from The Times and Democrat

“School Roll Call” from The Times and Democrat