Bill Irby's blog

Evil Abounding

     It seems evil abounds of late. A church was attacked; that event was followed by a massacre of horrible proportions in Nevada. These two events are just those that have happened most recently and in the area covered by the news organizations we usually see. Things like this, and some much worse, happen around the world all the time. Though we know all of this it doesn’t make it any better at all.

Leon Peek

Leon (Pap) Peek

     When Ginger, Will and Tom and I moved to Athens to work with West Hobbs Street church we immediately met a family by the name of Peek. These were the first “Peeks” we had ever known. We found out that the patriarch of the family was Leon, also known as “Pap.” Most of the family went to church here so over the years we formed strong bonds of faith and friendship.

A Certain Beggar

     Luke 16:19-31 is the account of the rich man and Lazarus, who is described as a “certain beggar.” The description brings to mind a number of things. Then as now, there were multiple beggars. These days and in this area we don’t have too many folks begging on the streets. Other areas do, but we don’t. In our area folks are more sophisticated and quite a bit more accomplished in their ability to separate material resources from others.

The Weather

     It matters not where we are one subject of conversation is always going to be the weather. Everywhere we’ve lived there has been a special kind of weather associated with the area. I grew up in Virginia and North Carolina during a time when it seemed hurricanes showed up regularly. My most vivid elementary school memory is seeing my bus (Number 5) being blown across the school yard. Thankfully no one was in it at the time and the teachers ran us all back in the building. I remember thinking, “Well, how am I going to get home now?”

Thoughts On A Good Friend, J. Walker Whittle

     As I mentioned last Sunday, J. Walker Whittle went to his eternal reward last week. He was 96. No one who spent any time around him would ever guess that he was that old. Indeed, the word “old” never did fit brother Whittle. He was a good friend and not just to me. If you gave Walker Whittle the opportunity he would be your friend too.

Spreading the Gospel in our World

     We have found it convenient to speak of the work of the church as falling into three general categories: evangelism, edification and benevolence. Many of us see the primary work of the church as evangelism or the spreading of the gospel of Christ and that the other two areas of work support that primary effort.

The Eclipse

     We have experienced the “Great American Eclipse of 2017.” It was a very cool thing to see, but the main sentiments I heard expressed Monday afternoon and evening were along these lines: “Well, I expected more than that” or “I thought it would get darker than it did.” Now, we were not in the 100% coverage area, so perhaps I should have expected that. There is usually a difference between hype and reality.

Ignorance is Bliss

     It’s a rare person indeed who hasn’t heard or used the expression “ignorance is bliss.” It comes from the last line of a poem by Thomas Gray (1716-1771) titled “Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College.” Gray attended that rather famous English school as a young man having that portion of his education provided for by his mother. According to most accounts and this poem he enjoyed his time there. The theme of the poem is that the paradise and bliss of youth is brief and will be lost as we mature and gain wisdom. Here is the last stanza:

What We Deserve and What We Need

     A lesson most of us have learned as a child is that there is often a big difference between what we deserve and what we need. I’ve told this story before, but as long as I live I will never forget my father telling me to leave the paint on the garage shelf alone. Of course, I didn’t. I opened all the cans to have a look. And then I put the tops back on. But I didn’t know at that stage of my development that one should pound the tops down tightly.


     These days modesty is not a valued commodity. In our culture we value fame (and fortune if we can get it). Indeed, for a lot of people the most important thing is to be noticed. I suppose this is inevitable in our entertainment-driven society. We chuckle at the lengths some folks go to be noticed, but living in an immodest world has some substantial spiritual challenges.