Below the Daily Devotionals
Gary Miller's Outdoor Truths,  May 22, 2017
Angie Land's Heart Matters, May 22, 2017

Guy Sheffield's But Anyway, May 23, 2017

WMHS Class of 2017;
First class to graduate from new school

The 111 graduates who went to the ceremony in Gainesville are seen here.

Story and Photos
By Rose Fant © May 24, 2017 at 9:17 p.m.
Updated May 26, 2017 at 12:07 p.m.
Monday (May 22) may have marked the end of these graduates’ high school careers, but that date also marked the beginning of a new era.
     Of the 114 Williston Middle High School graduating seniors, the 111 graduates that walked the platform of the Curtis M. Phillips Center at the University of Florida in Gainesville, where the commencement exercises were held, set the stage for underclassmen and future graduates of the new Williston Middle High School (WMHS) to follow.

Andrew Holcolm, Jordan Encarnacion, Ricky Vanasco (center), Dylan Murray, Britton Hall, Sarah Smith and Will Thompson

Linda Williams accepts her diploma as her picture is shown on the screen in the background.

WMHS 2017 Valedictorian Robert 'Robbie' Sistrunk Jr.

     This group of, now, former students attended WMHS for only one year, but it was a year always to be reminisced. This graduating class always will be remembered as the first. Yet, the students did not focus on being special in a way they were entitled.
     The young men and women who earned the honors to deliver speeches did not dwell on what they have done, but rather on what they will do.
     Before WMHS Principal Lindsay Legler welcomed the family and loved ones of the honored scholars, an invocation was given by Dominique Rios, immediately followed by two Salutatorians speaking to the group.
      Salutatorian Sheri Miller encouraged her fellow classmates to “Just keep swimming. When the storm hits, hang on. Hang on to the memories of yesterday. Hang on to the promises of tomorrow. And when life gets tough and the storm seems to darken your days, hang on.”
     Salutatorian Emory Allnutt proffered his life advice with the analogy of fishing.
     “Fishing is very much like the school careers and life itself, Allnutt said. “The people who are successful put in hours and hours of work behind the scenes in order to make sure that they succeed.”
     Allnutt elaborated as to how fishing relates to life success by following with, “When I go out for a day of fishing, it doesn’t just happen. There is a lot of work that takes place before you even step foot in the boat -- checking equipment, getting bait, packing the cooler. Those are all things you think about before you set out for a day of fishing. In life, we also have to put in a lot of work – going to school, training for a career, and any jobs or all things we must do to prepare for life. You can’t catch fish if you don’t put in the work.”
     Additionally, the Salutatorian encouraged his fellow classmates to try something new, “If you don’t try something, you’ll never know how successful you will be. You can’t catch fish if the boat is still on the trailer.”
     Principal Legler recognized those who have received scholarships, awards, college acceptances, and those planning to serve in the armed forces followed immediately by the Valedictory.
     Valedictorian Robert “Robbie” Sistrunk Jr. gave a nine-minute speech that had the audience following him from elementary school and into what is yet to come.
     “It has truly been an amazing journey that most of us have been on together since the very beginning,” he said. “I know that we have all made memories that will last a lifetime.”
     Sistrunk reminisced about how the exceptional education of the class of 2017 began. He attributed the congregate high scores on math and science to the fact that the students had to calculate every move they made on the entire playground made of railroad ties and twi-by-sixes at Joyce Bullock Elementary.

Everyone recites The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.

The middle of the class is seen during the ceremony.

The Sistrunk family is seen here (from left) Joseph Sistrunk, brother of the valedictorian; Robert Sistrunk Sr., father; Valedictorian Robert Arthur Sistrunk Jr.; Adam Sistrunk, brother of the valedictorian; and Catrina Sistrunk, mother.

     The Valedictorian didn’t miss including his parents in his success as his biggest supporters. He said that his mother always told him that, “They’d always be proud of me as long as I did my best,” followed by thanking his father, “For always telling me when my best pretty much needed to be.”
     Sistrunk attributed his leadership skills to an early lesson from his grandfather.
     He thanked his church family, teachers, and coaches, all of whom aided him in ways that have aided in his achievements. Sistrunk even mentioned the intended head of security for his future as governor of Florida.
     Sistrunk focused the remainder of his discourse to his peers.
     “Regarding your fellow man, the Bible says to love your neighbor as yourself,” Sistrunk said. “Luckily for us, this doesn’t mean we have to agree with them. It doesn’t even mean we have to like them. We just have to love them. All I ask is that if you do disagree with your neighbor, then do it with grace.
     “Now, regarding your country,” he continued, “if you have an ounce of patriotism in your body or the amount of respect the size of a mustard seed for those who have given their lives over the last 300 years, so we can have the freedom to assemble here today, then I ask you to hold onto that, because the time is coming when our nation will come under attack. Hopefully (this is) not in our lifetimes but perhaps in our country’s lifetime. It may come from abroad or it may come from within. But at that time, average men and women will be asked to fight and die for the safety of those who have not yet been born.
     “Democrats will be asked to take up arms alongside Republicans and Republicans alongside Independents,” Sistrunk said. “If we allow love of our country to drive our political differences instead of the love for power then the very survival of our country and our Constitution will be the most sought after common ground. If we are willing to do this, we will be able to aptly defend any attack on our way of life. Just as our grandparents did in the South Pacific and our forefathers did on Bunker Hill.”
     Still addressing his peers, Sistrunk charged regard to community, “You are different. You are from Williston, Florida, and I expect your actions to be a reflection of that for the rest of your lives. Remember your country, your fellow man…Remember where you came from, and you’ll do a lot. “
     Following the inspirational and insightful oration was the presentation of diplomas by Assistant Principals Chloe Gabriel-Ryals and Timothy McCarthy, with the assistance of Levy County School Board member Brad Etheridge, Superintendent of Schools Jeff Edison, and WMHS Principal Lindsay Legler.
     After all the diplomas were presented, Superintendent Edison led the Turning of Tassels. With stunned disappointment, the traditional celebratory tossing of the caps was noticeably absent from the proceeding.
     Nearing the end of the presentation, Hydeia Bostic offered the benediction by leading with a poem by Edgar A. Guest titled, “Don’t Quit” followed by a prayer in Jesus’ name for wisdom and opportunity for the days ahead.

Hannah Elizabeth Battles and Annie Battles (mother)

Salutatorian Emory Allnutt speaks as Assistant Principal Timothy McCarthy is seen in the background.

Sara Brooke Bishop accepts her diploma from Levy County School Board Member Brad Etheridge Levy County Superintendent of Schools Jeff Edison watches.

Thomas Carl Riddle III accepts his diploma as his picture is shown on the screen.

Jordan Encarnacion

Makayla Watson, sister, Felecity Watson, sister, Charith Watson, mother, Kenneth Watson, brother, Shane Watson, father, and graduate Awnnastasia Raine Watson.

Crystal Rose Barrett
Don't Quit
When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all up hill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don't you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don't give up though the pace seems slow--
You may succeed with another blow,
Success is failure turned inside out--
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit--
It's when things seem worst that you must not quit.
- Edgar A. Guest
     The Recessional finale exhibit of glorious smiles, relief, and happy tears prevailed on faces that realized they had accomplished what they set out to do. They reached the milestone.
     Now they can reach for the stars.
     Congratulations to the Williston Middle High School Class of 2017.
 PUBLISHER'S NOTE: Rose Fant is a health support tech with the Levy County Public School System. 

CKS graduates students

Seven of the graduates are seen here after receiving their diplomas.

Story and Photos
By Reina Rogers © May 24, 2017 at 3:07 p.m.
CF Student Intern Journalist
     CEDAR KEY -- 
A gray sky greeted individuals arriving at Cedar Key School on Saturday morning (May 20), as the friends and family members of eight graduating seniors gathered in the CKS Gymnasium for commencement.
     White the sky may have seemed gloomy, it was a bright and beautiful morning for graduates and their families.
     Principal Joshua Slemp opened the graduation program with a warm greeting before playing, “a coming of age” slideshow. The slideshow was heartwarming and showed the students from their days elementary students to the current time.

Raymond Powers speaks about the class of 2017.

2017 CKS Valedictorian Abigail O’Steen hugs a family member.

     Soon after the video ended, the song On Our Way by The Royal Concept began to play. Graduates delivered bouquets of flowers to their family member waiting in the audience.
     Smiles, hugs, and even a few tears were shared as the graduates delivered their flowers. After the short interlude, the graduates returned to their designated seats.
     Once the graduating seniors were seated, Principal Slemp announced the class Valedictorian - Abigail O’Steen and the class Salutatorian - Ashyln Allen. The young women stood and smiled as their names were called.
     Raymond Powers shared some kind words on each of the “9” graduates. Powers gave insights on each graduate’s personality and the little things he enjoyed about each one, marking each differently (perfectionist, artists, photographers, go getters, and helpers to name a few.)
     Powers also spoke about those students who they would never forget. One graduate was not present -- Jacob Solano. He had unexpectedly passed away on Nov. 23, 2016.
     “He will always be a part of us,” Powers said as he looked over to the empty seat where the young Mr. Solano would have been seated on Saturday. Powers ended his speech with five points for the graduates.
     ● “Be present and on time.”
     ● “Life has rules. Deal with it and don’t break any major ones.”
     ● “Don’t get frustrated. It’ll be okay.”
     ● Team work. If you know how to do it, help those who don’t.”
     ● “And whatever you do, don’t forget us.”
     Before the speech, scholarships recipients and the sources of the scholarships were announced. Each graduate received multiple scholarships. The most received was 12. Each student also received multiple awards and acknowledgements.
     Once the commencement had concluded, and all tassels had been turned, the graduates moved to a corner where they threw their caps in the air proudly.

The graduates toss their caps into the air.

     PUBLISHER'S NOTE: Reina Rogers is a student at the College of Central Florida. She is a student intern journalist for and currently intends to study journalism in college in her junior and senior years before earning a Bachelor's Degree.

Education Workers Honored

On Wednesday (May 17), American Legion Post 236 of Bronson sponsored a luncheon for the staff members at Levy Learning Academy, which is also known as Hill Top School. This luncheon was hosted by the Legionnaires and Auxiliary Members. The American Legion served tossed salad and pizza from Pizza Hut (thanks to its general manager Reilly Randall). There was a beautiful cake decorated by Winn Dixie.

The staff at Levy Learning Academy includes Principal Dennis Webber, Tonya and Eric Godkin, Ronnie Bartley, Anne Phills, Sandy Foster, Kathy Walker, Dana Lane, Robert Dearen, Jewel Brann, Josephine Remington, Anne Sigmon, Dawn Corbin, Garry Harris, Wes Joyner, Lori Prevatt, Greg Brochetti and Bob Lowyns.

Members from the American Legion who were in attendance included Tom Plaugher, Dave Harrington, Jim Harris, and from the Auxiliary, there was Kathleen Harris, Elizabeth Smith, Jan Berryhill and Lynda Swaim.
Published on the Life Page of on May 22, 2017 at 9:37 p.m.

Photos and Information provided by Kathy Harris



Capacity crowd attends Dixie County High School graduation

Dixie County High School Salutatorian Lora Beth Cooper and Valedictorian Savanna Beckham are happy as they await the start of the 2017 graduation ceremony.

Story and Photos
By Terry Witt, Senior Reporter © May 21, 2017 at 3:37 p.m.
All Rights Reserved
     CROSS CITY --
The 108-member Dixie County Class of 2017 received diplomas Friday night as a capacity crowd of parents, grandparents, friends and extended family members watched commencement exercises at the school stadium.
     Valedictorian Savanna Beckham and Salutatorian Lora Beth Cooper said Dixie County High School provided them with excellent opportunities to excel academically and prepare for their futures.
     Both have earned a two-year Associates Degree through the dual enrollment program at the Florida Gateway College campus in Lake City. They are halfway to a Bachelor’s Degree as they graduate from DCHS.
     Beckham said she plans to earn a Master’s Degree in Business Administration and plans to found a business where she would be owner and Chief Executive Officer.
     Cooper plans to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Occupational Therapy.
     Beckham said a wise man once told her that the only grade worth earning in school was an “A” grade.
     With that in mind, she set a lofty goal as a fifth grader. She decided she would be valedictorian of her high school. She said some people might have thought she was setting her sights too high, but she didn’t.
     “I wanted to see if I could do it,” she said.
     Her best friend, Bailee Osteen, said Beckham wasn’t the first in her family to become valedictorian. Her brother and sister were both valedictorians.
     “This shows the perseverance she and her family have,” Osteen said.
     Beckham was a busy student at DCHS. She was senior class president, an FFA member, FBLA member, an Honor Society member and Miss Dixie County High School while working six days a week at Dairy Queen and earning a two-year college degree.
     Beckham said she believe in pushing herself to do her very best. She encouraged fellow seniors to do the same.
     “When you push to your limits you can achieve your dreams,” she said.

Dixie County High School students wait for their turn to receive a diploma.

Graduate Alyssa Hailey Corbin excitedly reaches out to accept her diploma from Dixie County School Superintendent Mike Thomas.

Latresha Harrell is all smiles as she enters the Dixie County High School stadium minutes before graduation begins.

The home side bleachers are packed with parents, grandparents, friends and others -- eager to watch the graduation. The entire stadium was standing room only.


Softball coach speaks
about team's success

Coach Wayne Weatherford and Lena Weatherford at a Tampa Bay Rays game last year when the Lady Indians Softball Team was honored at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.
File Photo of All Rights Reserved

By Jeff M. Hardison © May 20, 2017 at 7:27 p.m.
Updated May 21, 2017 at 1:17 p.m.
Wayne Weatherford is retiring as a softball coach after 25 years now, he said in a telephone interview Friday (May 19).
     Coach Weatherford built the Chiefland High School Softball program during the past few years so that the Lady Indians won the Florida High School Athletic Association Class 1A State Championship in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
     And the Lady Indians were the runner-up finalist in that state championship for 2017.
     During this past week, Coach Weatherford, Assistant Coach Jimmy Anderson, Assistant Coach Harland Stalvey, and Lena Weatherford were among the adults who joined the girls at Historic Dodgertown in the City of Vero Beach.
     This year's team of Lady Indians playing in the finals included the starting lineup of Sydney Parks (#11), Emily Hallman (#14), Lauren Parker (#3), Takiya London (#4), Macie Thomas (#15), Samantha Rolfe (#9), Erika Gilliam (#33), Aleaha Rhoomes (#1), Taylor Simpson (#19), and pitcher Kensley Durrance (#20). The substitute players were Tristan Drummond (#2), Brittany Tindall (#7), Karlie Meeks (#10), Raven Sheppard (#12), Simone White (#22), Jocelyn McGee (#17), and Chrystian Wetherington (#71).
     The graduating seniors this year were Hallman, London, Rhoomes, Parker, Parks and Rolfe. These are the young ladies who earned three consecutive state championships and one state runner-up title.
     These six young ladies were ninth graders when the Lady Indians earned the first state championship for the school, Coach Weatherford said. Over the years before and since, the coach said, they have matured together and bonded as a team.
     The coaches, like the girls, are all like family, Weatherford said.
     All of these girls are part of a special set. And now with graduation from high school they are all going to the next level, as they are playing in college next year, having been awarded scholarships.
     The coach spoke first about the two-day championship finals.
     As they traveled to Vero Beach, the team wanted to make history again by earning the fourth title. In fact, for Chiefland High School and Levy County, they had already become the superstars of sports, not just girls' sports.
     The coach spoke about the regular season of CHS Softball in 2016-17. The team had been defeated by the Union County Lady Fightin’ Tigers twice in the regular season.
     Even before that probable game, the team was facing the Lady Gators of Wewahitchka (Washington County).
     That game on May 17 was a nail-biter, with the Lady Indians being down 0-1 at the bottom of the final inning when they turned it around and were victorious 2-1.
     Coach Weatherford said they knew they were facing Union County, and no one had ever won a FHSAA state championship four consecutive years.
     The coach said the girls felt like they had progressed since the regular season games against the team from the City of Lake Butler and they were ready for the final game.
     “We really had high hopes that we would beat Lake Butler,” he said, “but they have a lot of speed. That really hurt us.”
      The Union County Lady Fightin’ Tigers bunted a lot in that final game, Coach Weatherford said. And while the Lady Indians can handle bunts very well, that just was not a very good day in that regard, he said.
     “I just think Lake Butler was the better team that day,” Coach Weatherford said, “and the best team did win.”
     The coach is retiring, however he has faith that the coaches coming after him are going to continue the trend of having a strong softball team in Chiefland.
     When Weatherford was asked to coach softball in the early 1990s, he said, there was not a lot of coaching talent in that sport in Chiefland.
     “So when we took it,” Weatherford said, “it was a huge challenge to us. We wanted to make a big difference in Chiefland for our youth, who would go on to high school and then be where we are at today.”
     The coach said now that he is stepping down, he hopes to see “new, fresh better ideas” from the coaches who will be stepping up to continue the softball legacy of Chiefland High School.
     The coach said he prayed about his decision a lot, and he talked about it a lot, and he decided now is the time to retire from softball coaching.
     While he is retiring, to see this many young ladies continuing in the sport after high school “is the ultimate payoff.”
     “You work during your younger life,” he said, “to get to the middle school level. Then you get to the high school level. And then to earn a scholarship – that’s an ultimate payoff.”
     The coach said these players, with the support of their family and friends, have made a significant investment in softball.
     And the success of Chiefland year after year has now “put Chiefland on the map for softball.”

CF summer hours
of operation in effect

Published May 20, 2017 at 4:57 p.m.
pn the Life Page of
— The College of Central Florida has implemented summer operating hours.
     The college is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and closed on Fridays through Aug. 4.
     Several CF departments have extended hours Monday-Thursday to better serve students through the summer.
     The Bryant Student Union, Student Affairs, Admissions, Academic Advising, Cashier, Financial Aid and Registrar, 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
     Ocala Learning Resources Center, 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m.
     Citrus Learning Resources Center, 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
     Ocala Campus Bookstore, through May 19, 9 a.m.-5:30p.m. and Fridays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and May 22 through Aug. 9, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
     Citrus Campus Bookstore, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
     CF Postal Services, Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
     The college will be closed for Memorial Day Monday, May 30, and Monday, July 4, in observance of Independence Day.


First Graders Rewarded
In Yankeetown School Reading Program

Melody Carson (in the hat at the right) tells her students that they are to have fun, however they absolutely must not shoot water at each other in the face. If they do, then they will have to sit aside from the group for five minutes. The other two adults in this picture are Ruth Ruppert of the Inglis Yankeetown Woman’s Club and Debbie Woodard, a paraprofessional teacher’s assistant.

(above) Ruppert shows the children the gallon jugs that will be used to measure the Kool-Aid spit contest. In this game, students put Kool-Aid in their mouths and travel to the jug and spit it into the jug. Then, the students return and their team members go and perform the same task. The team with the most transported Kool-Aid wins.

Woodard is a target here, however she found an opportunity to return the cooling action of squirting water on the students.

First grade students in Melody Carson’s class at Yankeetown School were the first best readers to enjoy a day of fun with water on Thursday (May 18) for their success in the Red Hot Minutes Reading Program. Ruth Ruppert of the Inglis Yankeetown Woman’s Club and Debbie Woodard, a paraprofessional teacher’s assistant, assisted Carson in helping the children safely enjoy squirting water at each other, sliding down an inflatable slide into a pool of water, and participating in water-oriented games for fun. This was a reward for the students’ success in having an adult read to them, or for them reading, at least 900 minutes during the nine-week grading period. Yankeetown School has children in pre-K through eighth grade. Some grade levels have more than one class.

Almost every class improved on their reading percentages this most recently past nine weeks, Ruppert said, over the previous nine weeks. The first place trophy in the most recently past nine weeks went to Carson's first grade class. Those students are Leland Roberts, Anna Green, Aryanna Rushing, Brayden Bolin, Ashlynn Porterfield, Colton Best, Nathan Kennedy, Kyra Dykes, Johnny Carbaugh, Jayse John, Amber Shearer, Savannah Seamen, Zack Hall, Jessica Baker, Ely Robinson, Frank Huggins, Alesha Adams, Jacob Gerber, and Aiden O'Bry.

(above) in this game, the students compete to see who can transport the most water from one point to another, while the recipient player holds a jug on his or her head as the place to put the water.

This inflatable slide is for the first graders. Not only were they the class with the most minutes of recorded reading, but the slide is for relatively small children.

Some of the water-oriented toys are on standby here. Yankeetown School is a very small school. It has total enrollment of about 250 students. It is located in the southernmost section of Levy County. The other top readers in the school are scheduled for a similar set of fun-oriented water activities in the early part of next week.

Photos by Jeff M. Hardison © May 19, 2017 at 1:47 p.m.


Scholarship Recipients

(from left) Sierra Williams, Kelly Leplante, Chelsea Curvin, Austin Fowler, Savannah Thompson, Alysa Hall and Chairman of the Yankeetown-Inglis Woman’s Club Education Committee Lynne Tate are seen here. The Yankeetown-Inglis Woman’s Club was proud to present six scholarship awards at its May meeting. The money for scholarships is raised at the club's Thursday night Bingo games. The recipient of the Nancy Lou Miller Scholarship, money raised from raffle baskets at Bingo is Austin Fowler who will attend the College of Central Florida (CF) pursuing a degree in the medical field. Savannah Thompson will attend CF in the Nursing program. Kelly Leplante will attend the University of Florida (UF) to study environmental engineering. Sierra Williams will attend the University of South Florida (USF) to become a veterinarian. Chelsea Curvin will attend USF to become a physician's assistant. Alysa Hall will attend UF in an undergraduate program designed as pre-law. The Yankeetown-Inglis Woman’s Club wishes all scholarship recipients continued success in their education endeavors.
Published May 16, 2017 at 10:07 p.m. on the Life Page of

Photo and Information Provided by Marty Hilliard of the Yankeetown-Inglis Woman's Club

Patrick Whitehead wins again

Patrick Whitehead is seen with his ribbons and his blueberry pound cake.

Photo Provided by UF/IFAS Levy County Extension

By Jeff M. Hardison May 16, 2017 at 2:37 p.m.
     BRONSON --
Patrick Whitehead was the Overall Winner of Youth and Adults competing in the recent Blueberry Bake-Off at the Third Annual Bronson Blueberry Festival, according to information provided by Levy County 4-H Agent Genevieve A. Mendoza.
     The bake-off on Saturday (May 13) was a fundraiser for one of the 4-H Clubs in Levy County -- the Levy County 4-H Bridle Brigade Club is oriented toward horses. There is at least one Bridal Brigade. That one is among the Chicago-area companies serving weddings.
     Patrick Whitehead earned the top spot in the bake-off competition with 190 total points.
     Following are listings of the first through third place winners in the three youth divisions and the one adult division of this 4-H event. The young Mr. Whitehead is not only an extremely accomplished baker, but he is very talented in other aspects of 4-H, including public speaking, and he is known for making extraordinary scale models -- especially of vehicles.
     4-H is the nation’s largest positive youth development and mentoring organization. 4-H life-changing programs are available through 4-H clubs, camps, afterschool and school enrichment programs.
     To learn more about Levy County 4-H, please contact 4-H Agent Genevieve Mendoza at 352-486-5131.


Overall Winner -- Patrick Whitehead - blueberry pound cake

Junior Division
First Place - Patrick Whitehead - blueberry pound cake
Second Place - Haley Springs - blueberry pie
Third Place - Matthew Gilbert - blueberry cookies
Intermediate Division
First Place - Mckenzie Mencer - blueberry cake
Second Place - Tristan Rector - blueberry bread
Third Place - Aubrey Catlett - lemon blueberry muffins

Senior Division
First Place - Alexis Pinkard - blueberry bread cake
Second Place - Gilbert Gossett - blueberry scones

Adult Division
First Place - Pamela Whitehead (Patrick's Mom) - blueberry cake
Second Place - Marsha Lockhart - blueberry pie
Third Place - Renda Springs - blueberry whoopie pie

     PUBLISHER'S NOTE: Patrick Whitehead is also known as P.J. Whitehead, and he was the first successful softball pitcher Saturday to dunk a person in the tank at the Third Annual Bronson Blueberry Festival.

     On Nov. 1, 2010, The Christian Press section on The Life Page of, started. The name was derived from an encounter a decade earlier, where and when a man mentioned to a journalist that this particular journalist must work for "The Christian Press." Although the presumption was incorrect and misplaced, the name sounds good.
     Since then, The Christian Press section of this page has run daily devotionals, and then within a relatively short time, weekly columns. 
     The Rev. Dr. Thomas "Tom" Farmer Jr. of St. Paul's United Methodist Church of Largo retired several years ago from that church, although he appears to continue serving the people by preaching the Gospel at a United Methodist Church in North Florida. He is among the first contributors from way back. There are several other individuals who contributed over the past seven years. There are a lot of daily devotionals pulled from Strength for Service to God and Country (Whitmore & Stone © 1942; Renewed 1969 by Norman E. Nygaard; Second revised edition © 2002 Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, Providence House Publishers). I note my appreciation for the use of those devotionals from that now-defunct publishing company. I welcome contributions of daily devotionals.  Daily devotional authors are asked to please send only their own original works to


Friday, May 26, 2017 at 7:47 a.m.


Read John 17:13-26

     And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.
-- John 17:19 (KJV)

     Everything has a cause behind it. Things just don’t come to pass without reason. Happiness has a cause; so has hopelessness. Order rules or chaos reigns. This is not as a matter of chance but as a matter of cause. Sings the lover at the marriage altar, “A wider world of hope and joy I see, because you come to me.”
     We are what we are and the world is what it is, because…
     Because means “by a cause.” How we need to look to our causes! Are they petty or great? Are they worthy or unworthy? Do they make or destroy a person?
     Happy are those who know their cause is right and so can give themselves to it wholeheartedly. When they say, “I do this because…” their voice has a ring that we like to hear, and their eyes look straight forward.
     “For their sakes,” said One greater than any of us, “I sanctify myself.” He had a cause which made Him happy to give all He had for others. If the best the world has ever known gave Himself completely, can we do less?
     As soldiers, you fight. You fight not alone to defend your native land, but for all that we count as dear – for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; for the building of a new and better world order; for the Kingdom of God on earth. And because of you, “a wider world of hope and joy we see.”
     FATHER, we thank Thee for the new day. May we face it with courage and cheer. We pray not for an easy life, but for a useful one. Give us wisdom to make right choices, and confidence and faith to meet the unexpected. Cleanse our hearts from evil thoughts and hard feelings. Make us strong for what we have to suffer, and brave for what we have to dare. We make this prayer in the name of our great Helper and Friend. Amen.
The Rev. Olin Berry Tracy (1897 - 1971)
First Congregational Church
Melrose, Massachusetts

Strength for Service to God and Country
(Whitmore & Stone © 1942; Renewed 1969 by Norman E. Nygaard; Second revised edition © 2002 Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, Providence House Publishers)


Outdoor Truths Ministry
By Gary Miller © May 22, 2017 at 7:37 a.m.

     Turkey hunting, where I live, is not for the faint of heart. Even though there are some easy places, much of the hunting I do is in the mountains. Our mountains are not like the Rockies but they are also not like the Deep South. The highest peak is about three thousand feet. Needless to say, to traverse the ridges and valleys in search of turkeys can be a very exhausting experience. It seems if I’m on this side of the hollow, the bird is always on the other side. So, here I go down in the depths of the hollow on this side only to climb up to the top of the ridge on the other side. By the second week of hunting I’m in great shape. What I have noticed, however, is the view is always better the higher I get. And not only is the view better but it’s that particular view that always lingers in my mind. I never think about the wonderful sites in the small, dark valleys but the picturesque landscape from the top of the mountain remains permanently ingrained in the recesses of my mind. I often think of the possibilities of getting lost when I keep climbing and climbing. You know, it’s easy to do that when we’re so wrapped up in getting to the top. You can get so turned around you lose your bearing. The experts say when this happens to find a water source and follow it down stream. Downstream?  You mean to find where I’m am, I have to go down?  You mean down in the hollows? You mean down in the valleys? You mean down where it’s dark and where the view is limited and confined? I guess so.
     Sometimes we all get caught up in climbing higher and higher in things other than hunting. We get wrapped up in the possibilities and what my lie just ahead. In the climb, sometimes, we lose sight of whom and what we are and where we are as well.  It’s at that time the Lord has to awaken us and bring us back to Him and to ourselves. How do we get there? In the valley. But don’t fear the valley, because it’s there where He always shows us the way back home.

Gary Miller has three books that are compilations of the articles he has written for nearly 15 years. He also speaks at game dinners and men’s groups for churches and associations.

Gary Miller's website is located at

Heart Matters
By Angie Land © May 15, 2017 at 9:47 p.m.
     What terms have you and your conscience been on lately? Any sleepless nights, tossing and turning over questionable behavior, or have you decided to simply dismiss the idea of a clear conscience as overrated? Should a clear conscience even be of concern in the “end-justifies-the-means” mentality of our culture, or any culture for that matter? In Acts 23:1, the apostle Paul is standing before the Sanhedrin, the highest court of the Jewish nation in New Testament times. In response to the charges brought against him, “Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, ‘My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.’” Why on earth would this be Paul’s defense?
     In order to answer these questions, the first thing we need is a good working definition of our conscience. What is it exactly? According to the New Testament Lexical Aids, the Greek word for conscience is “syneidesis” which “denotes the faculty of the mind whose nature it is to bear witness to one’s own moral conduct.” In other words, when you are pondering over a situation, it is your conscience that casts a vote about the rightness of your behavior. For me, this answers at least one of our questions: given that my conscience will be voting on my conduct for the rest of my life, being on good terms is a priority! Since Paul voiced this as his defense, I think he felt the same way.
     I am so thankful the Bible includes these words of Paul, because his past had more than a few blemishes, and yet he pronounces his conscience clear. This means it is also possible for anyone without a spotless past to enjoy a clear conscience! Doesn’t that include each of us? So how do we trade in the sleepless nights for an affirming vote? First, recognize as a believer that the Holy Spirit plays a critical role in creating and maintaining a clear conscience. It is His job to confirm a clear conscience (Romans 9:1) and to convict a guilty one (John 16:8). Of course, what we would prefer is to ignore our sin, and often try diligently to do just that, but our conscience is the one part of us that refuses to look the other way.
     The second thing we often attempt is to soothe of our conscience by good deeds. If we have wronged someone, instead of admitting the wrong and asking for forgiveness, we try to smooth it over by a nice gesture. According to Hebrews 9:9, gifts and sacrifices are not able to clear the conscience. Even when we don’t want to hear it, our conscience brings awareness of what we ought to do to get to the bottom of the issue. The rest is up to us.
     With his clear conscience, Paul encourages us in Hebrews 10:22 to “draw near to God.” Often, when we feel guilty, we tend to avoid coming into His presence. When our conscience condemns us, what we need most is to come clean before God. He already knows the intent of our heart, so let’s go ahead and get it out in the open. Confess. Ask forgiveness. Ask for instruction if we need to make something right with someone. Then, be assured of God love and forgiveness, and finally get a good nights sleep!
Because Every Heart Matters,


     PUBLISHER’S NOTE: Heart Matters is a weekly column written by Angie Land, Director of the Family Life Ministries of the Lafayette Baptist Association, where she teaches bible studies, leads marriage and family conferences and offers biblical counseling to individuals, couples and families. Please contact Angie with questions or comments at


Sanding Off The Rough Edges
By Guy Sheffield © May 23, 2017 at 4:07 p.m.

     Sure, I still have a few rough edges, and maybe a quirk or two that needs to be sanded off, but overall I’d consider myself a fairly likeable guy. I don’t cuss on purpose anymore, I take regular showers, and I always cover my mouth when burping at the table. I’m pretty much fitting right in with regular society these days. My wife Angie has been a major proponent for my improvement over the years. She’s always encouraging me to use better manners, and something she calls social eddie-cut; whatever that is. She’s likes to remind me of how little things, like grooming, can affect your success in life. In fact, she was the first to suggest I ditch my mullet.
     Angie would’ve flipped out if she’d seen the e-mail I sent to the purchasing agent of my largest account at work last week. It was really embarrassing, and the evidence I’d been looking for all my life that proves sometimes you really can get in trouble by accident. You know how computers are. Grasping a person’s mood through an e-mail can be trickier than taking a Hummingbird’s temperature with a rectal thermometer. In the long run you’re just going to end up guessing. However, this time, after an unusually frank reply from someone I know to be friendly and chatty, I decided I’d better re-read the original message I’d sent. I was shocked. This is the way it was supposed to read:
     [Hello Sarah. The manufacturer is holding us to a 100 piece minimum. This is not a common size bushing. Could you possibly bump up your quantity? Thanks, Guy]
     Now that’s seems perfectly proper and polite, right? It's all in accordance with the guidelines found in my handy dandy account manager’s handbook. Yet this time my trusty old Spell-Check failed me, and I accidentally left out one little bitty letter, albeit, an important one. You can imagine my surprise when I realized the ‘o’ was missing in ‘Hello’. OOPS!!!
     Don’t you dare do it, but if you were to revisit that message again, considering the way it was actually sent, you’d see where my gentle inflection might have been ratcheted up a bit. Naturally I quickly shot over an apology. To my relief Sarah graciously accepted. It was a close call. I could have lost the account. But in the end we all had a good laugh. Well… I think we did. Her next e-mail seemed to suggest she was laughing. Surely she would've been. I wonder if she really was??? Maybe I need to go back and read it over again?
     But anyway - It all just points to why we should always follow God’s standards when communicating with others. If we do, any misperceptions and confusion will have a hard time tripping us up. At least we’ll always know we tried to stay in the right. (Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t snap back at those who say unkind things about you. Instead, pray for God’s help for them, for we are to be kind to others, and God will bless us for it. 1 Peter 3:9 Living Bible.)
     God’s way always works, and though sometimes I still come up “o” so short, I sleep a lot better knowing I’m at least trying to love others unconditionally like Christ loves me. I also sleep a lot better in the house, so don’t go telling Angie about what happened, or I’ll have to grow my mullet back and come over and whomp you one. 

Guy Sheffield's website - But Anyway is located at

FRIDAY  May 26  12:07 p.m.
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