Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Today I turn seventy-four.  As the title of my autobiography (published in 2006) says, "The Lord Has Been Mindful of Me."  I have enjoyed an unusually high degree of good health.  I have never spent but one night in the hospital in my entire life.  I was not even born in a hospital, but in my grandfather Fulford's farmhouse in Geneva CountyAlabama—as far south in southeast Alabama as one can go and still be in Alabama!

As we advance in age changes come.  My most recent physical checkup revealed a slight elevation in my triglycerides, as well as a slight lowering of my "good" cholesterol.  I am not alarmed by this.  To me it is an alert.  I know what I need to do, and I will do it.  I will be more mindful of my diet and I will see to it that I get more physical exercise.  Seventy-four years is long enough to be able to eat whatever you want whenever you want it!  Some changes must—and will—be made.

Other changes also come.  On July 31, 2000, I retired from full-time ministry after serving churches of Christ for a little over forty-two years.  I thought then—and still think—that then was the time to make that move.  My intentions never were to stop preaching, teaching, and writing, but to do so at a more leisurely pace, without the stress and pressure that are part of full-time ministry.  For five months during the rest of 2000, I "took it easy."  I held one meeting during that time, preached six or seven Sundays on a "fill-in" basis in nearby congregations, and continued to meet a minimum of writing assignments.  My wife and I both were busy getting settled into our retirement home.

January 1, 200l rolled around and I was "rested up" and antsy.  A church offered me the opportunity to preach for them on a part-time basis, and I accepted it, though it involved a commute of a little more than forty miles one way.  After a year, I was invited to preach for a church much nearer my home.  I began with the LaGuardo Church of Christ in nearby WilsonCounty, Tennessee on the first Sunday of January 2002.  Day before yesterday—Christmas Day—I completed ten years of ministry with those wonderful people.  A few weeks earlier I had told them that at the end of this year I would terminate my work with them. This represents another change for me, my wife, and the LaGuardo church.  We care deeply about the members of that church.

What does the future hold for us?  I don't know, but as has often been stated, I know who holds the future.  I still love to preach, to teach, and to write.  This weekly "Hugh's News & Views" is but one expression of my desire to try to say something that will be helpful.  For 2012 I already have a few gospel meetings and a lectureship engagement scheduled.  I have committed to speak at some Wednesday evening Summer Series at area churches.  Two Sundays in January are already committed for preaching engagements. I may just "fill in" here and there when a church's regular preacher must be absent.  I may decide to preach every Sunday for a small church if an opportunity presents itself to do so.  One thing is for sure - I don't intend to sit down and do nothing. 

My maternal grandmother was a hardworking woman. When I was a child I remember asking her, "Bigmama . . . (all of us grandchildren called our grandparents "bigmama" and "bigdaddy"; after I was grown and married my wife let me know emphatically that when she became a grandmother she would NOT be called "bigmama," but that's another story.)  But back to what I started to say.  "Bigmama," I asked, "why do you work so hard?"  Her answer was, "It is better to wear out than to rust out."  I think she was right.  She lived to be eighty-eight.  I don't know how long I will live.  I have already passed the proverbial three-score and ten years (Psalm 90:10).  I still feel good and still enjoy going and doing.  But if I should die today and on the resurrection morning of the last day experience the greatest of all changes (I Corinthians 15:51-58; I John 3:2), I could still say, "The Lord has been mindful of me."

Hugh Fulford
December 27, 2011  

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Man and The Birds

The following story was told many years ago by Paul Harvey on his popular radio broadcast.  The first time I heard it I was deeply touched by its message.  I still am, and hope you will be too. 

The Christmas story—the "God-born-in-a-manger" and all that—escapes some moderns.  Mostly, I think, because they seek complex answers to their questions, and this one is so utterly simple.  For the cynics, the skeptics and the unconvinced, I submit a modern parable.

This is about a modern man.  One of us.

He was not a Scrooge.  He was a kind, decent, mostly good man. Generous to his family, upright in his dealings with other men.  But he did not believe in all that Incarnation stuff which the churches proclaim at Christmas time.  It just didn't make sense and he was too honest to pretend otherwise.  He just could not swallow the Jesus story.  About God coming to earth as a man.

"I am truly sorry to distress you," he said to his wife, "but I am not going with you to church this Christmas Eve."  He said he'd feel like a hypocrite.  That he would much rather stay home.  But that he would wait up for them.

He stayed.  They went.

Shortly after the family drove away in the car, snow began to fall.  He went to the window to watch the flurries getting heavier and heavier, then went back to his fireside chair and began to read his newspaper.

Minutes later he was startled by a thudding sound.  Then another, then another. At first he thought someone must be throwing snowballs against his living room window.

When he went to the front door to investigate, he found a flock of birds huddled miserably in the snow.  They had been caught in the storm, and in a desperate search for shelter had tried to fly through his large landscape window.

Well . . . he couldn't let the poor creatures lie there and freeze.

He remembered the barn where his children stabled their pony.  That would provide a warm shelter if he could direct the birds to it.

He quickly put on coat, galoshes. Tramped through the deepening snow to the barn.   He opened the doors wide and turned on a light.

But the birds did not come in.

He figured food would entice them in and he hurried back to the house, fetched breadcrumbs, sprinkled them on the snow, making a trail to the yellow-lighted wide-open doorway of the stable.

But to his dismay the birds ignored the breadcrumbs and continued to flop around helplessly in the snow.

He tried catching them.  He tried shooing them into the barn by walking around them waving his arms.  Instead, they scurried in every direction—except into the warm, lighted barn.

Then he realized they were afraid of him.  "To them," he reasoned, "I am a strange and terrifying creature.  If only I could think of some way to let them know they can trust me, that I'm not trying to hurt them, but to help them."


Any move he made tended to frighten them, confuse them.  They just would not follow . . . they would not be led or shooed because they feared him.

And then – snap – the thought struck him.  "If only I could be a bird myself.  If only I could be a bird and mingle with them and speak their language and tell them not to be afraid and show them the way into the safe, warm barn."

"But I'd have to be one of them . . . so they could see and hear and understand."

At that moment the church bells began to ring.  The sound reached his ears above the sounds of the wind.

He stood there . . . listening to the bells. . . Adeste Fidelis . . . listening to the bells pealing the glad tiding of Christmas.

And he sank to his knees in the snow.

Hugh Fulford
December 20, 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


My wife loves Christmas.  I love Christmas (but could do with less of the hubbub and folderol).  Our son and daughter-in-law love Christmas. Our two grandchildren love Christmas (with all the hubbub and folderol).

The Christmas decorations go up at our house a few days before Thanksgiving and usually stay up until a day or two before New Year's Day.  While we have toned down on the outside decorations, Jan spares no detail with the inside decorations, right down to two dancing Santa Clauses, one of which is Burl Ives singing his classic "Have A Holly Jolly Christmas" as he dances around  the room. 

I wait a little longer to break out the Christmas music, but I now have it going.  In addition to all the old familiar Christmas carols, I especially love the Judds' or Emmy Lou Harris' rendition of "Beautiful Star Of Bethlehem."  The non-religious Christmas songs also have a place in our listening enjoyment – "White Christmas," Elvis' "Blue Christmas," "Sleigh Ride," "Silver Bells," as well as others.

As a country music fan—old-time, traditional country music, may I emphasize—there are several country Christmas classics that I enjoy.  Willie Nelson's haunting song "Pretty Paper" is unforgettable in its message of the beggar at the street curb hawking his Christmas wares of "pretty paper, pretty ribbons of blue; pretty pencils to write your darling I love you."  And then there is Alabama's "Christmas In Dixie" that takes one from New York City to California and then across the South, winding up in their hometown of Fort Payne, Alabama and wishing everyone "A Merry Christmas."

But perhaps my most favorite of all the country Christmas songs is Bill Monroe's "Christmas Time's A-Comin."  I downloaded it from YouTube several years ago as Ralph Emery, legendary country music disk jockey introduced Bill Monroe and The Bluegrass Boys in the performance of this classic.  Ralph, who was reared in the church of Christ and hails from the little town of McEwen, Tennessee where I have preached in several meetings, said that when he began his career as a country music dee-jay back in 1951 country music performers did not have many Christmas songs on record.  Ernest Tubb had "Blue Christmas" and "How'd You Like To Spend Christmas On Christmas Island," and perhaps there were one or two by Red Foley, father-in-law of Pat Boone.   But Bill Monroe had just cut "Christmas Time's A-Comin'," and Ralph said the country dee-jays  nearly wore it out at Christmas time.

Anyone who has ever been away from home for any length of time—in the military, at school, on a job, etc—can identify with the song, as it speaks of the joys of being at home for Christmas. 

Snow flake's a-fallin'
My old heart's a-callin'
Tall pine's a-hummin'
Christmas Time's A-Comin'.

Can't you hear them bells ringin', ringin'
Joy, don'tcha hear them singin'
When it's snowin', I'll be goin'
Back to my country home.

White candles burnin'
My old heart's a-yearnin'
For the folks at home when
Christmas Time's A-Comin'.

Holly's in the window
Home where the wind blows
The cane foam's a-runnin'
Christmas Time's A-Comin'.

Christmas Time's A-Comin'
Christmas Time's A-Comin'
Christmas Time's A-Comin'
And I know I'm goin' home.

I do not know the day and month of Christ's birth.   No one else does. The Bible doesn't tell us.  But I am glad that He was born, lived on earth as a man, and died for the sins of all. Enjoy the season . . . and the music.

And from our house in Gallatin,Tennessee to your house, we wish you a Merry Christmas.

Hugh Fulford
December 13, 2011

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Ask Your "Doctor" About Progressivor Today

 Are you tired of walking in "the strait and narrow way"?  Are you finding that to "abide in the doctrine of Christ" is too restrictive?  Does the mere mention of "the old paths" make you nauseated or send you into fits of rage against "antiquated thinking"?  Are you finding it dull and boring to do all "in the name of the Lord Jesus"?  Would you like to be able to enjoy greater freedom and more flexibility in your moral life . . . to loosen up and have more fun?  Would you like to enjoy a more entertaining atmosphere in worship (whenever you may decide to attend worship)?  Would you like to have a more broadminded and inclusive attitude toward the different religious beliefs and viewpoints that are out there in today's world?  Then ask your D.D. ("Doctor of Divinity"), pastor, preacher, or priest about Progressivor.  This medication has been on the market for several years, and has helped many to a more carefree, less restrictive religious life.  It also is available in a generic brand known as Liberaluce.   

This drug has worked wonders in the lives of thousands.  It has enabled people to throw off old fogy moral values and to enjoy a wide range of sexual pleasures, including sex before marriage, sex outside of marriage, sex with others although married, sex with those of the same gender, as well as a variety of other sexual activities (whatever floats your boat).  It permits a person to divorce and remarry as often as he or she chooses to do so, and for whatever reason is convenient, or simply to live together without being married at all. In short, it allows a person to be religious without having to be righteous. 

Regular doses of Progressivor have proven to broaden one's tolerance of all kinds of religion, including Hinduism, Shintoism, Buddhism, Islam, Secularism, "New Age-ism," as well as the various "brands" of Christianity.  Progressivor aids in the adoption of a "salad bar" type of religion which allows one to pick and choose bits and pieces from various religious traditions and to reject those parts that do not meet with one's own wisdom and approval.  Progressivor immunes one from strict adherence to the Bible because the developers of Progressivor have determined that the Bible is wrong about many things.

Progressivor allows for entertaining worship services that really resonate and "rock" in today's culture. Guitars, banjos, fiddles, saxophones, trumpets, and percussions are all allowed.  Just sit back and enjoy the show.  There is no charge for admission.  At some point a plate or basket may be passed through the audience and you will be invited to "pay," but you should feel free to "pay" only what you feel like "paying." ("Church" really can turn out to be a rather cheap way to enjoy some good entertainment).    And the program is likely to feature a very entertaining speaker (either man or woman) who is able to deliver "one liners" as well  as (or better than)  any late night TV host you have ever heard.  In short, Progressivor is a modern religious "wonder drug."  Be sure to ask your "Doctor" about it today.

Potential harmful side effects of Progressivor include blurred vision, resulting in not being able to see at any distance.  Total spiritual blindness has been known to occur in some cases.   Progressivor is also known to result in  deterioration of the backbone,  weak knees, indistinct and misleading speech patterns, confused thinking, and ultimately eternal death (Romans 6:23). Be sure to check with your "Doctor" before taking Progressivor.  Depending upon his view of God, the Scriptures, religion, and life in general, as well as his respect for the Great Physician, he may or may not recommend it.  Progressivor is not for those who want to please God and live forever with Him in heaven.  But for those who do not believe in either Heaven or Hell, or who believe in the former but not in the latter, Progressivor may be just the religious medication you have been looking for.

Hugh Fulford
December 6, 2011

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


In 1990, Robert Fulghum authored a best selling book titled All I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. Doing a take-off of that title, someone (I know not who) wrote "All I Needed to Know I Learned From Noah's Ark."  I reproduce it below with a few comments of my own and commend it to our readers for their serious reflection.

1. Don't miss the boat.

2. Remember that we are all in the same boat.

3. Plan ahead.  It wasn't raining when Noah built the ark.

4. Stay fit.  Even when you are quite old, God may have something big for you to do.  (Noah was about 600 years old when he built the ark.)

5. Don't listen to critics.  Just get on with the job that needs to be done.

6. Build on high ground.

7. For safety's sake, travel in pairs.

8. Speed is not always an advantage. The turtles were on board as well as the cheetahs.  (I have long remembered and profited from the story of the tortoise and the hare.)

9. When you are stressed, float for awhile.

10. Keep in mind that the ark was built by amateurs, the Titanic by professionals, but the ark floated and the Titanic sank its first time out.

11. Remember – No matter the storm, when you are with God, there's always a rainbow waiting.

12. Once more – Don't miss the boat.

And there's only one boat that will take you safely to the port where you want to dock.  Check out John 14:6 and Ephesians 4:4-6.  Find out what the one body mentioned in this passage is by reading Ephesians 1:22-23.  In fact, reading the entire epistle to the Ephesians would prove to be a spiritually enlightening and enriching exercise.  It provides a full explanation of that spiritual "ark of safety" that God planned and purposed from all eternity, brought into existence by the blood of Christ, and in which is to be found all who have been reconciled to Him.  Don't fail to get on board.

Hugh Fulford
November 29, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Grandma's Apron

As I get older I tend to become more nostalgic.  This seems to especially happen in the fall of the year. (Question: I hear and use the expressions "fall of the year" and "spring of the year," but don't recall ever having heard or used the expressions "summer of the year" and "winter of the year."  Why is that?) Recently, I had a long visit with three old college friends—Lynn Anderson, Lee Smith (great-grandson of the great evangelist T. B. Larimore), and Kent Hall—with   whom I was in school at Freed-HardemanCollege over fifty years ago.  We had a blast recalling "the former days."

The words of the apostle Paul in his second letter to Timothy (the last letter he is known to have written) have always struck a nostalgic note somewhere deep in my soul: "Come before winter" (II Timothy 4:21).  I think it was Clarence McCartney who preached a great sermon from that text.  I have used it on a few occasions.  It is a reminder that if we do not take care of some things "before winter," they never will be taken care of.

Another old college friend, Aubrey Wilson, sent me an article a few months ago that also put me in a nostalgic mood.  I think it helps some of us who are older to remember what life was like at an earlier, quieter, simpler time.  I hope you will enjoy "Grandma's Apron."

I don't think our kids know what an apron is. The principal use of Grandma's apron was to protect the dress underneath because she only had a few and because it was easier to wash aprons than dresses and aprons required less material. 
But along with that, it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven.
It was wonderful for drying children's tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears.   
From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven.
When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids. 
And when the weather was cold, Grandma wrapped it around her arms.
Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove.
Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron. 
From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables. After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls.
In the fall, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees.
When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds. 
When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the men folk knew it was time to come in from the fields to dinner.
It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that old-time apron that served so many purposes.  
And remember: Grandma used to set her hot baked apple pies on the window sill to cool.  Her granddaughters set theirs on the window sill to thaw. They would go crazy now trying to figure out how many germs were on that apron. I don't think I ever caught anything from that apron -- but love!
There is something about "Grandma's Apron" that not only puts me in a nostalgic mood, but it also makes me think of Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving is a wonderful day of the year, but I hope that you will remember that thanksgiving is not just a day but a constant attitude (see Ephesians 5:20). 
Hugh Fulford                                                                                   November 22, 2011