The Family Name

Over the past 25 years I have sought to research my family tree — the Myrick•Hamilton•Craft trees and the Holifield•Sumrall•Musgrove trees.

I can vividly and joyfully recall as a child, large family reunions with dozens of aunts and uncles and cousins and distant third and fourth cousins, and double first cousins, and … FOOD. Amazing southern fried in Granny’s iron skillet kinda delicacies! O what fun!

With recent family members passing on to heaven, all these memories have been rekindled. And I have enjoyed wonderful conversations with cousins and distant cousins and extended family members. We enjoy a wonderful family legacy and I am grateful.

And with every good conversation, I learn more about the family histories, the dynamics of our blended families, the good, the bad, the [ahem] “shushed” parts — and a few family facts and tidbits that I did not know — that seem to connect•the•dots, so to speak.

All families have secrets and often times, shameful or possibly embarrassing episodes within the family tree. Some of us have failed miserably and brought shame on our Family Name, whether unintentionally by haphazard circumstance, or even willfully to wreak havoc and reap our vengeful reward. How sad and tragic for all our families when this happens.

And then there’s that “cousin Eddie” of Christmas Vacation fame, showing up and showing out at all the most awkward moments in our lives. Heck, I’m sure I’ve been the “cousin Eddie” goober a few times myself!

In the Christmas story of Bible fame, there are two baby boys conceived into the wombs of small town girls … and their epic adventures would literally change the world.

In St Luke’s gospel, we read of Zechariah and Elizabeth discovering that she is pregnant with a child — by an angelic visitation to Zechariah while he is performing his priestly duties. Zech is of the Abijah priestly lineage and Liz is of the Aaron priestly lineage. They’re a couple, on the worship team, so to speak. They are good people, who ‘did all that God had commanded them to do’, and yet they had not been able to bear children. We don’t know if Zech could not produce, or if Liz could not ovulate. The bible story does not get that deep into the weeds — yet.

Now, Zech and Liz are ‘old’, or are getting older based on the story; but, not too old to enjoy intimacy, which could by all imaginations — still produce a child!

So, Zech get’s the angelic announcement at the church house, he’s bewildered, asks the “how and why” questions — and, his mouth is muted. He’s literally dumbfounded. He goes home, dazed and confused, motioning with his hands, and no one could figure out what had happened. Very soon, Liz realizes she’s pregnant and recluses herself to home, suspecting — who knows what!

She’s pregnant.  Zech is ‘old’. The whole town is gonna wonder — umm, how? And, who? And … what the heck?!

So, fast forward, the baby is born.  Elizabeth rejoices.  The whole village rejoices!  God has favored Zech and Liz with a baby in their old age!  But Zech is still ‘mute’ and cannot even speak, yet.  And on the 8th day, as was the tradition, the time for ceremonial circumcision arrived.

Circumcision.  What an awkward word. What a surreal procedure!  And yet, tradition and religious rite have made this ceremony “the sign” of those males who are deemed “good Jews”, or outsider non-Jews, pagans, Gentiles … anything but, the ‘chosen’ of God.  So, they comply with the tradition and with that, the Naming of the child.

So, during the ceremony comes the “naming of the child” segment of the session.  The people, the doctors, the gatherers expected something like “Zechariahson” or “Zechy”, or something after the namesake of his Dad.  But, Liz knew better, because of the angelic visitation, remember?!  And, now Zechariah knew too … because of the angelic visitation.

Liz motions to Zech, then Zech writes on a tablet:  “His name is John”.  And everyone is amazed!  What? How could he?  This is not right?!  You don’t name your child some random name that is not from the family lineage!  What about the legacy?  The dynasty?  The family reputation??

But Liz and Zech knew — his name is JOHN.  And then — ZECH SPEAKS!  Yep, Zechariah’s mouth is finally FREE to speak the praises that have been pent up in his heart for months now!  He knows something. He has “seen” the LORD.  He has experienced a visitation.  He is aware — something’s up. Something BIG.  And, it’s a God thing.  And, he and his son, JOHN, are going to get exclusive VIP seating.  And, it’s going to change their world!  Heck, it’s gonna change everyone’s world!

Scripture in Luke 1 goes on to say that the town folks were fearful (in awe and wonder) of what they had witnessed — this late in life birth, the ceremony, Zech’s “silence”, then, his sudden miraculous praise!

So, what’s in your family name?  What pent up secrets do you know?  What is that unspoken secret that no one will talk about?  What is that praise, or message, or proclamation that YOU need to speak?  What is the promise that YOU need to declare for your family?  Even, if it means breaking with tradition and expected religious ritual?

My family has an amazing and historical legacy and lineage of music, ministry, agricultural prowess, ingenuity, artistic creativity, and mostly — determination and survival.  We survive. Against all odds, we press on.

As I learn more about my Myrick*Hamilton*Craft family on my Dad’s side of the tree, and also about my Holifield*Sumrall*Musgrove family on Mom’s side of the tree — I discover the awe, and the wonder, and the miracle of God’s hand on our lives.  And, at the most unexpected moments.

When all the forces of this fallen world seemed against us — we somehow found the way to WRITE on our tablets and SPEAK or SING from our mouths, the Story of stories.  The promises of our God.  The hopes of our future.  The wishes for better days.

Christmas is here.  John is here. And, Jesus is on the way!  Joseph and Mary are about to experience the miraculous, just like Zech and Liz have experienced.

And on the 8th day after their baby is born, they will name Him “Jesus”, just as the angel had foretold.  And, we will sing, and praise, and worship His Name forever!

“… Come, thou long expected Jesus …”.  COME and SAVE us from ourselves, from sin, from evil and death.  Come, LORD Jesus, COME!



One day, Lamech said to his two wives, “A young man wounded me, and I killed him.

Anyone who tries to get even with me will be punished ten times more than anyone who tries to get even with Cain.”

Adam and his wife had another son.

They named him Seth, because they said, “God has given us a son to take the place of Abel, who was killed by his brother Cain.” – Genesis‬ ‭4‬:‭23‬-‭25‬ ‭CEV‬‬

Every family has their junk. Some families deal with it well and clean up their junk. And some families do not.

CAIN and “his wife” [who is not even dignified with a name in scripture] evidently did not deal with their junk.

And so eventually, as the years go by, their great great great grandson Lamech comes in from a hard days work, decompresses, grabs a cold one, and confesses to his wife that he killed a guy.

Like, “ … no biggie; he wounded me, so I killed him.”

» FFWD to 2023 A.D. »

Wounded [ticked off, impulsive] guys are still killing people. And, so are wounded women.

Whether we are physically taking lives with weapons of war and putting bodies to death; or, emotionally murdering souls with venomous words — we are still killing one another.

War is hell. Hell is wicked and evil. And hell is reserved for demons and their father the snake, the dragon, the venomous prince of rebellion, the weak narcissistic Angel of the darkness.

“The devil said, “I will give all this power and glory to you. It has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. Just worship me, and you can have it all.” – Luke‬ ‭4‬:‭6‬-‭7‬ ‭CEV‬‬

We are living in the age prophesied by scripture when wars and rumors of wars rule the media headlines. We can either perpetuate the war. Or we can choose the Better Way.

The Way of LOVE is the gospel of peace.

Christ stood down the prince of war and chose Peace. After all – He is Prince of Peace.

And kings decree laws of their kingdoms.

“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” – Romans‬ ‭8‬:‭2‬ ‭NRSV‬‬

King Jesus rules all creation. He redeemed all humanity. We no longer are left to our hopeless and helpless instinct to war with one another.

As He chose Peace, we can also choose peace. By the Spirit we are empowered to choose Peace and not war.


The key to making the choice?


LOVE. It’s all about Love.

Love chose peace over war. Love chose sacrifice over Self. Love chose the way of the cross over the way of revenge. Love chose to supernaturally light up the darkness.

Love chose Us. Love chose the Better Way. Love chose to Win.

Study war no more. Love wins.



So … I Have Adult ADHD

By definition, adult ADHD is a mental health disorder that includes a combination of persistent problems, such as difficulty paying attention, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior.  I have no idea how I ‘got’ it.  I don’t know when it started.  I rarely know when it will manifest.  But, I deal with it, daily.

My wife, adult kids, and my Mom, have been urging me to be evaluated for ADHD — almost humorously — for more than 20 years, but I simply shrugged it off as a silly idea. So, recently I began to experience unforeseen sudden panic attacks, along with the familiar bouts of depression, which I have experienced often for more than 20 years or so.  The panic disorder is a bit different for me, because I’ve never considered myself as being prone to panic, since I was raised in a very puritanical work-ethic git-r-done country boy culture.  We just don’t panic. We rise up. We fight. We press on. We push through.

So, I have evidently, according to my medical advisors and counselors, ‘pushed through’, one too many times.  And now with the global shutdown of COVID-19 and all the residual fallout we have all dealt with — my ADHD and depression condition has simply magnified itself and accelerated it’s malicious effects on my brain, and on my body.  And, on my soul.

But wait, I am a Christian. I’ve even given my entire adult life to ministry!  I’m one of the good guys. You know, a disciple of Christ. The One. The Savior. Messiah. Healer. Christus Victor.  So, why on earth would someone like ME suffer from a ‘mental health disorder’.  Of all things?

Well, as I’m discovering, Christians suffer depression too.  And, we ‘get’ mental health disorders too.  In fact, according to Rick and Kay Warren’s Hope For Mental Health, people who claim to follow Christ, especially in America today, are suffering mental health disorders at an alarming rate.  I am forever grateful for wonderful leaders like Rick and Kay, who have been unashamed and quite courageous in their mission to help people like me who suffer from such conditions.

To avoid getting too deep in the weeds here, I will simply say, if you need help … ASK FOR HELP!  We all get ‘the blues’ from time to time.  Everyone has a ‘bad day’, sometimes. But, when the bad days, the dark days, the heavy days, become more and more consistent and persistent … STOP and take notice.  Don’t be a hero.  Don’t fall prey to the myth that you can ‘push through’.  You cannot. And you should not!

THANK YOU to everyone who knows the struggle and who has remained near.  I love you, every one.  Thank you to my dear friends who I can be completely vulnerable and honest with, warts and all.  Thank you to my precious wife and our children, who have accepted and loved me, and affirmed me, without exception.

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.” – Psalm 34:4-6 CSB


The dictionary definition of “anniversary” reads:  the annual recurrence of a date marking a notable event.  April 7 will become a new anniversary on my calendar.

Dad went to be with Jesus on April 7, 2020 amidst a new global pandemic, in a bed at a small long term care home, with precious saints nearby who cared for him lovingly until his final breath on earth.  I was graciously allowed to be with Dad before he crossed the River into his new heavenly Home.  My brothers and Mom joined me on a FaceTime call just hours before he left us.  His personal nurse assured me that he would not be alone when his time came.

April 7 will forever become a notable event on my calendar.  Dad’s birthday is April 22nd and he would have been 81 had he lingered here.  I know he was tired and weary of the struggle here, and frankly, I’m glad he celebrated his 81st with Jesus, his Mom and Dad (Mamaw and Grandaddy), my mom’s parents who he loved dearly (Deb and Margie), and a host of loved ones, friends, and Christian souls who found Jesus on earth because Dad shared the Gospel with them.

Anniversaries can bring much joy and anticipation, especially to couples who have vowed their love to one another for life.   We all long for another year of making memories, enjoying one another, living our adventures together.  And anniversaries can bring sorrow and sadness.  We remember the good times.  We mourn and lament the hard times.   We grieve the loss and loneliness.  But, tomorrow always comes.  And usually, it’s a brighter tomorrow.

Daddy, I love you and I miss you.  I know that you are finally healed, happy, and wholly redeemed at the King’s Table.  I know that the celebration is amazing and you wouldn’t come back here for anything in this world.

We shall join you soon.  It will be that Glad Reunion Day we always sing about.  And, all the old songs will finally be our new reality.   I Will Meet You In The Morning … What A Day That Will Be … I Know A Man Who Can … I Bowed On My Knees and Cried Holy … and O, What A Savior!

Happy Anniversary, Dad.

Revival On The River

So, I met this kid.  Ethan Oltremari from Greenwood, Mississippi. More specifically, we started communicating by email as I began to observe how God was using his music ministry in the Mississippi Delta to unite churches of diverse races and cultures. Did I mention … in the Mississippi Delta?  Unite … churches … of diverse races … in the Mississippi Delta.

So, as Ethan and I upgraded our communications to actual “live” phone calls — it was immediately evident that this ‘kid’ has an anointing on his life and his music.  Ethan is a Methodist college student attending Delta State University, leading worship for United Methodist churches and other worship gatherings in his region … and leading a revival movement that has spread across the Yazoo River delta … and, now to the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Ethan and his folks have called it Revival On The River Greenwood.  You’ve GOT to see this!  If you can go … you must!

In December 2018, Ethan and I prayed.  He met with his board members in Greenwood, Mississippi and prayed.  I prayed with my pastors and a few local friends who love worship and prayer gatherings. We set a date. In a few weeks, we are going to gather at the Point Park Ampitheatre in Pascagoula — my hometown.  April 27, 2019 — mark your calendar.  COME if you can!

We are praying from Greenwood to Pascagoula … that God will do here what He is doing in the Mississippi Delta.  It’s spreading to Jackson, Mississippi … and it’s already spread to Tupelo, Mississippi … and to Gulfport, Mississippi … it’s covering our Magnolia State like a contagious positive cancer!

UNITY is spreading across Mississippi.  LOVE for the ‘other’ is spreading across Mississippi.  COMPASSION for the hopeless is spreading across Mississippi.  RECONCILIATION is spreading across Mississippi.  WORSHIP and PRAYER is spreading across Mississippi.  It’s time Mississippi.  Revival is HERE!