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by Bruce Monroe Morgan

For more than 150 years, in season and out of season, the hand on the steeple of the First Baptist Church of Griffin, Georgia, has “silently spoken to the world about us of the glory of the other world.”1 The origin of the icon remains unknown.

Lightning struck the church steeple in 1884, and the church minutes record for June 8 that year: “On motion the deacons were requested to look after and have the lightning rod repaired.”

During the repairs workmen discovered that the lightning rod was a large hand with the index finger pointing heavenward. The hand on the steeple had become so corroded, it was unrecognizable by the church members on the ground. Therefore, one bolt of lightning had restored the elevation of the hand and rekindled the aspiration of Johnson Oatman’s hymn, “Higher Ground”:
I want to scale the utmost height And catch a gleam of glory bright;
But still I’ll pray till heav’n I’ve found,
“Lord, lead me on to higher ground.”
Lord, lift me up and let me stand,
By faith on heaven’s table land,
A higher plane than I have found;
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.

This book is an answer to the prayer and an anthem of gratitude to the ministers, deacons, and company, both present and departed, of that august household of faith in which I was privileged to serve for more than three decades.

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I well remember the day, fourteen years ago and new to Georgia, that I received an invitation from Bruce Morgan to come to Griffin and preach for him. He could not have known what an honor that was for me. Bruce is the dean of Georgia pulpiteers and the best example I know of what it means to be an effective pastor. One can only imagine how thrilled I was a few years later when he moved to Gainesville and into our congregation after his retirement. Since then he has been my partner in prayer, a steady source of inspiration, a wealth of wisdom, and the best friend a pastor can look upon in the pews week after week—that is, when he’s not off preaching somewhere. I have learned and grown every time I’ve heard or read his sermons. He creates only one problem for me: envy! I envy his biblical insight and rhetorical style. Anyone reading his sermons will see what I mean. Bruce Morgan is a homiletical master. I’m using his sermons as daily readings and am better for it.

— Bill Coates, Pastor, First Baptist Church, Gainesville, Georgia

This book presents a series of thoughtful and uplifting life lessons beautifully crafted by this long-time pastor and extraordinary communicator. His thoughts and ideas are supported by quotes and illustrations from scripture and a variety of poets and writers. If one is searching for words of inspiration and encouragement during these challenging days, this book is a must read.

— James Rogers, President Emeritus, Brenau University, Gainesville, Georgia

I have found this book to be the best source of my morning devotions. Each chapter contains scripture, a brief explanation, a life application, and a prayer. Thank you, Bruce Morgan, for making this available.

— Don Brewer, Chair of Deacons, First Baptist Church, Gainesville, Georgia


About the Author

Bruce Morgan is a veteran pastor who lives in Gainesville, Georgia, with his wife, Emma, and teaches courses in literature and theology in the Learning and Leisure program at Brenau University.