I Was A Snake Handling Preacher… for about 3 minutes

I was sitting in my office at church when a friend came by to see me. He presented me with a sack. I knew he had a garden, so I assumed it was some fresh vegetables. I thanked him, and he said I should look in the sack… When I did, it was a big snake! ( I am only afraid of 2 kinds of snakes… Dead ones and Live ones! ). If you would visualize one of those vibrating chairs you see at the shopping mall and cobine it with a helicopter you would get a picture of what I looked liked in my office chair…spinning around and around…and trying to go up into the sky! All the while I was still holding the sack with the ( I found out later) recently deceased snake. Finally, my friend took back the snake sack and I was released from my fears.
We all have fears sometimes that catch us off guard and leave us in a state of mind called “I do not have a clue what to do”…May I suggest a few things that I have found most helpful and encouraging to me through the years?
The first thing we should do is to realize and admit our need. When we do this, it empowers us to seek answers, look at options, and talk to people who can really help us work through our fears, whether it is relationship issues, financial stress, or other problems. We will never get over the fear if we don’t admit it and ask God and others to help us. We are not meant to be totally self sufficient for everything, God purposely built in us a need for a relationship with Him and people. Dr. Oscar Thompson, one of my favorite professors in graduate school, often reminded his students that: “the most important word in the English Language is RELATIONSHIP.”
This is true in so many ways and in particular in overcoming fears.Isaiah 30:18 (NLT) states it this way: “So the Lord must wait for you to come to Him so He can show you His love and compassion. For the Lord is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for His help.”
It is important to commit our need to God in prayer. At that point we should also release our concerns into His hands and rely continually on God’s strength and grace. Two of my favorite Bible verses on this are:
“People who do what is right may have many problems. but the Lord will solve them all.” Psalm 34:19
” I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [ I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me: I am self-sufficient in Christ”s sufficiency].” Philippians 4:13 (Amplified Bible)

The “Amazing” Mr. Frank Atchley 

Frank Atchley, was one of the most humble people you will ever meet. I was fortunate to be one of his friends for almost 25 years. He was a quiet man of unbelievable strength and integrity. Even in his older years, he consistently helped out in so many ministries of our church, I hesitate to mentioned them because I would surely leave something out. He endured a lot of illness, watched his wife Mary struggle a long time wrestling with an incurable disease, yet he never complained  about much of anything except that he wished he could do more to help people. I guess if you could sum up his life it would be that He loved God and people. Nothing else really seemed to matter to him. When most people ( probably me included) would like to just give up under pressure, give out when exhausted, Frank just kept going on serving God and quietly helping people.
I remember one night several years ago,  we ate dinner together at McDonald ‘s on the way to the Hearts On Fire YOUTH Conference in Gatlinburg Tennessee , yes that is right…a YOUTH Conference! Frank volunteered there with helping young people who made decisions and prayed  with them. This is one of many things he did in helping others find the same hope in God that transformed his life many years ago. He was a friend that was always praying for you and had a genuine interest in you well being. I marvel at all the lives he has touched through the years…
During our dinner at McDonald’s that night, he reminisced about how God had so blessed his life. That night he also shared with me one of his secrets about his faith…”you grow spiritually by getting involved in the study of God’s Word and applying it by helping others”. So simple…yet so true. Why else would a person way past 80 years old, volunteer to work  at a Youth Conference? What is even more amazing was how God used him that night. At the invitation time at the conference, a lot of people came forward to receive Christ as their Lord and Savior. Among them was a young married couple that were chaperones of a youth group. In a crowded room they ended up talking to Frank, who led them to the Lord. They they asked him about advice for their marriage. He shared some of the best advice I have ever heard from his own marriage of many years with his wife Mary. He shared with them the importance of commitment to each other and the Lord, getting involved in a  church, spending quality time with each other, the importance of praying for each other and several other things. Heaven’s gain is our loss. We will miss him, but his impact upon me and many others will continue to influence us in a positive way forever.