Monday, December 27, 2010

Sharing gracious comments by my friend Matt O'Reilly

Matt O'Reilly is a dear friend and fellow United Methodist pastor serving at Jay, Florida. In his stimulating and excellent blog, Incarnatio, Matt recently wrote these kind words which I am taking the liberty to share with my readers:


I wanted to point to a couple of books that I was pleased to see published as of late. The first is Commentary on Selected Passages in the Four Gospels: Searching the Scriptures for Grace and Guidance; the second is Commentary on Selected Passages in Paul's Letters: Searching the Scriptures for Grace and Guidance; both are authored by Walter Albritton and will certainly be worth a look. I'm pleased to see these books come out because Walter is to me not only a mentor, pastor, teacher, and colleague but a very dear friend. I was privileged to sit under his preaching for 13 years, and to this day he is at the top of my call list when I'm in need of wise counsel. In fact, I actually started this blog after some advice he gave me on becoming a better writer. I'm excited about these books because I know that so much of his wisdom will fill their pages. Indeed, these two books (available from or from the author) are the product of nearly 60 years of pastoral ministry and reflection. Walter has always been able to draw insights from the scriptures and apply them to the life of the people of God in accessible and encouraging yet challenging and edifying ways. All who read will benefit from these books. I'm looking forward to reading them myself. Keep an eye out for a review or two sometime in future. If you'd like to get to know Walter a little better, you can check out his blog.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Lessons in Hope

Nothing less than the kindness of God has enabled me to prepare for publication my commentaries on the books of the New Testament this fall. The third and final volume is titled Commentary on Selected New Testament Passages Offering Lessons of Hope. will release this book for sale shortly after Christmas. The first commentary published earlier this fall is titled Commentary on Selected Passages in the Four Gospels. The second volume is titled Commentary on Selected Passages in Paul's Letters. Lessons in Hope will contain lessons drawn from the Acts of the Apostles, the Epistle to the Hebrews, the Letters of James, Peter, John and Jude, and the Revelation of John. What is my audience in these books? My audience has always been ordinary disciples of Jesus Christ, the good people who are the strength of the local church. In my writing and my preaching I have sought to motivate people to fall in love with Jesus and to realize that the entire Bible is about Jesus Christ. The Old Testament says, "Someone is coming!" The New Testament says, "That Someone is here and his Name is Jesus!" My fervent prayer is that readers of these commentaries will be encouraged to dig more diligently in the Holy Scriptures and find joy in meeting the Christ who is "cradled" on every page. The books are available from or an autographed copy may be obtained by contacting me at

Saturday, December 4, 2010


Auburn finished strong and beat South Carolina 56-17 to become the SEC Champion! Already ranked number one in the BCS standing, the Tigers now should face off against the Oregon Ducks in Glendale, Arizona on January 10! Cam Newton is the most awesome football player I have ever seen in a football uniform! What a season to be an Auburn die-hard fan who bleeds orange and blue!!! Now the Tigers have a chance to become the national champion team in college football. Wow! It is hard to believe. I had predicted a record this fall of 10-2 but I am happy to have been wrong! Go Auburn!!!!!

So far, so good!

Well, it is halftime in the SEC Championship game in Atlanta and Auburn is leading 28-14. The Tigers are doing well and I hope this will not be another nail-biter like so many have been. If Cam and the boys win this, they will play in the national championship game in Glendale, Arizona on January 10. WOW! War Eagle!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Big Test is coming Saturday in Atlanta

My Auburn Tigers have earned the right to play the South Carolina Gamecocks again this season, this time in the SEC Championship Game. The Tigers won 35-27 in a close contest earlier this year. I had predicted Auburn would go 10-2 this year but I was wrong. They are 12-0, and am I glad to be wrong! If they can win again, the door is open for Auburn to play in the national championship game in Glendale, Arizona in January. I am nervous but hopeful -- I am just praying that Cam will be able to put all the ugly speculation behind him and play his best game ever against South Carolina. Go Auburn! WAR EAGLE!!!

Two new books published this month

After much editing, and eye strain, I have managed to get two more books published by The first is titled Commentary on Selected Passages in the Four Gospels.
The second is titled Commentary on Selected Passages in Paul's Letters.
Both are now available from
These commentaries are a compilation of lessons I prepared over the past 20 years while writing a commentary to supplement the International Sunday School lessons for adults. I revised and updated each one, hoping that the lessons could provide helpful insights about how the Bible speaks to us today.
My prayer is that these commentaries will inspire my readers to discover anew biblical truth that should guide our living in these days.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

New Book Published this week now has made available another of my books. The latest one is titled Leaning Over the Banisters of Heaven. Subtitle: Balcony People Make the Difference. This is the book that was inspired by the book, Balcony People written by Joyce Landorf Heatherley several years ago. Joyce's book was a gift to me from my longtime friends Grady and Celestra Rowell. The book introduced me to the concept of balcony people and basement people, and triggered a new understanding of human relationships. For ten years I have been encouraging people to get in the balcony of their family and friends, and thus make a beautiful difference in their lives. At the same time I have reminded people that they do not have to give their basement people the privilege of ruining their lives. I hope all my friends will check out this concept and decide to live the rest of their lives as balcony people. Since publishing four books this year, I am now working hard on my commentaries on the Scriptures. I hope to get them published before the end of the year. My first volume will be titled Commentary on the Four Gospels. The second will be titled Commentary on Paul's Letters. I am so thankful that the good Lord has given me grace and strength to put together these writings and my prayer is that at least a few people will find helpful. In my spare time I have been reading Truman by David McCollough and this week began reading also the book by Douglas MacArthur, Reminiscences. Both men were giants in the leadership arena. As a devotional I am also reading again My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers; this book has impacted my life second only to the Bible.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Three New Books Out this Month

God has blessed us this summer! He has given me the energy to prepare and publish three new books that are now available from Several of you had encouraged me to do this so the books are now available, along with Dean's book, The Yellow Butterfly. My three titles are as follows:

Life is Short So Laugh Often, Live Fully and Love Deeply (178 pages)
Just Get Over It And Move On! The Best Way to Handle Disappointment (188 pages)
Don't Let Go of the Rope! We Need Each Other (168)

Our books are available from for $14.00 plus postage and shipping. Many of you have asked us for an autographed copy so we want to make those available. We can sell them for a little less if you would like to have autographed copies. Our prices are 1 book - $15; 2 books - $25; 3 books - $35; and all 4 books - $45. These prices include postage and shipping. If you order one or more, please make your check out to me, Walter Albritton, and send to me at this address: 289 Leigh Lane, Wetumpka, AL 36093.

If you wish to purchase any for gifts to others, please tell us to whom the books should be autographed and where to ship them.

Thank you for sharing our joy in the publication of these books in which we express our love for Christ and our gratitude for all He has done for us!

This has been an incredible summer. Dean had surgery -- replacement of her right knee. We were rather concerned for her to have major surgery at our age but she felt the Lord assuring her she would be alright. She has done remarkably well in recovery and her rehab, though painful, has been superb. She is walking well for the first time in several years, and we are so thankful.

We hope our friends will enjoy our books and celebrate with us their publication. When you are praying, ask the Lord to tell you someone who might be blessed by one of our books!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Life is Short So Laugh Often, Live Fully, and Love Deeply

This month I published a new book by the above title that is now available from
Though it is available, the world does not know it yet. I am trying to come up with ideas to publicize the book and stimulate some sales.

This month my wife Dean also published a book titled THE YELLOW BUTTERFLY, and it too is available from Her book is a collection of poems and several pieces in prose.

We are both very pleased that we can share in print our ideas, thoughts, and convictions -- and we look forward to receiving reviews and comments.
Never feel sorry for a preacher

Never feel sorry for a preacher. Preachers have more fun than anybody. There is never a dull day in the life of a preacher. One reason is that those of us who are “clergy” never know what we will be doing next.
One day we share the joy of parents celebrating the birth of a baby. The proud daddy wants us to agree that the handsome boy looks just like him. We smile and say, “Why sure he does; he is the spitting image of his daddy.” But we never risk saying what we are thinking -- that this baby looks about like the last fifty newborns we have seen. No matter, it is fun to share with young parents the thrill of holding a healthy new son or daughter.
That same day we may visit a person who is dying. Beside the bed is a beloved spouse whose wrinkled brow betrays the fear that death is knocking on the door. We speak softly and listen mostly. A family member whispers, “The doctor told us this morning that it is only a matter of hours now.” No one speaks the word “die,” but everyone understands that the sick one has only a few hours to live.
Where is the fun in a moment like that? Fun is probably not the right word. It is more like meaningful joy, the incredible feeling that somehow by being there you are making a difference. Despite the hurt and the sorrow you share with those who are grieving, your own little life is dignified by the awareness that in the hour of death, when you were needed, you were there. There are few things in life more wonderful.
Most of us preachers don’t know quite what to say at such times. The seminaries provide us little training for that. But eventually we learn that we don’t really have to say anything. Our words are seldom remembered. It is our presence that counts.
When my father was dying, a dear pastor and colleague was by my side. I don’t remember a word he said. I do remember that he put his arm around me. That I will never forget. I can only hope that somehow my arm, and my presence, has made that same difference for some of my own people.
Most preachers have a daily “to do” list. But there are days when we never get time to do anything on the list. Without warning our day may be interrupted by a phone call that makes the needs of others a higher priority. We may find ourselves sitting for hours in a courtroom, hoping to comfort parents who are waiting for a judge to drop the hammer on a wayward teenager. Or we may shuffle our plans around so we can meet with a couple whose marriage is on the rocks.
Hours later we may be meeting with a young man and a young woman who have fallen in love. They have honored us by inviting us to counsel them and perform the wedding. Planning a wedding, of course, is always more fun when the couple allows plenty of time for the counseling so important for a lasting marriage. It is sad but true that some people spend more time studying for a driver’s license than they do preparing for their marriage. So it is little wonder that many marriages fail.
I do not consider the hours spent in counseling with a couple as drudgery. It is actually fun to believe that you are helping a man and a woman prepare well, not simply for a lovely wedding, but for a solid marriage that lasts a lifetime.
Some years ago I did learn something helpful from another pastor. I was in the habit of meeting at night to offer premarital counseling for couples. That meant many nights at the office, especially when counseling with three or four couples during the same time period. My friend asked me, “Why don’t you ask each couple to meet you during the day?”
My answer was that both the man and woman worked and did not get off until 5 or 6 o’clock. He asked me two rather penetrating questions: “Because they work, does their doctor meet with them at night?” The answer was obvious. No, they get off work to go to the doctor.
The second question was this: “Is the counseling you are doing as important as what their doctor does for them?” Again the answer was obvious. The counseling is at least equally as important as the doctor’s counsel for their physical needs. So for many years I have had fun explaining that to couples who came to me for counseling. Most of the time they find a way to get off work to see me.
Preaching is fun and never a chore. If it ever becomes a chore, I will quit. But preaching is such a great privilege. People are discouraged and many are without hope. Many are whipped down by the hardships of life. And Sunday after Sunday I have the honor of reminding them that God loves them and that when they turn to him he will put his arms around them and give them hope and healing.
Now and then someone will tell me, “God spoke to me today and met my need.” Someone who had little hope now feels loved by God. That is when fun turns into pure joy! Preachers do not want to hear that they preached a “sweet” sermon but that while they were preaching someone listening heard from God. It really does not get much better than that.
So if you want to have some fun, let the Lord know you are willing to be called to the ministry. Preachers have more fun than anybody. I should know. I have been doing it for almost 60 years, and it keeps getting funnier by the day! +
Dog stories are as welcome as a hot dog at a baseball game

Hearing a good dog story is like a gentle breeze on a sultry day or as welcome as a hot dog at a baseball game. I will walk a mile to hear a good story about a dog. Actually I am suspicious of people who do not enjoy dog stories. A good sign of normal intelligence is a love of dog stories because a good one can make your day.
A dear friend sent me a story about a talking dog. At first I could not believe it either but wait till you hear about that dog.
Near Washington, D.C., a man spotted a sign in front of a home. The sign read, “Talking Dog for Sale.” Intrigued, the man stops and inquires about the dog. The owner tells him the dog, a black mutt that is not very impressive looking, is in the backyard.
“Do you talk?” the man asks the dog.
“Sure do,” the dog replies.
“So, what is your story?”
The dog looks up and says, “Well, I discovered my gift of talking when I was very young. I wanted to help the government, so I told the CIA about my gift. In no time they had me jetting from country to country, sitting in rooms with spies and world leaders. No one figured a dog would be eavesdropping. I was one of their most valuable spies for eight years.
“So you quit the CIA?” the man asked.
“Yes,” the dog replied. “Jetting around the world tired me out. I was not getting any younger and I wanted to settle down. So I signed up for a job at the airport to do undercover security work, mostly wandering near suspicious characters and listening in. I uncovered some incredible dealings there and was awarded a batch of medals.”
The dog continued, “To make a long story short, I found a sweet wife, had a mess of puppies, and retired a few months ago.”
The man listening to the dog is very amazed. He cannot believe what he has heard. He goes back to the front porch and asks the owner what he wants for the dog.
The owner says, “Ten dollars.”
“Ten dollars! Man, your dog is amazing. Why on earth are you willing to sell him so cheap?”
“Because he is a liar,” the owner says. “He didn’t do any of that stuff he told you about.”
Another story shared with me is about a Baptist dog. It seems that this Baptist preacher and his wife decided to get a new dog. Ever mindful of the congregation, they knew the dog must also be a Baptist. They visited kennel after kennel in search of the right dog. Finally they found a kennel whose owner assured them he had just the dog they wanted. The owner brought the dog in to meet the pastor and his wife.
“Fetch the Bible,” he commanded. The dog leaped to the bookshelf, scrutinized the books, located the Bible, and brought it to the owner.
“Now find Psalm 23,” he commanded. The dog dropped the Bible to the floor and, showing marvelous dexterity with his paws, leafed through the Bible, and soon pointed to Psalm 23 with his paw.
The pastor and his wife were so impressed that they purchased the dog and took him home. That evening a group of church members dropped by for a visit. The pastor and his wife began to show off the dog, having him locate several Bible verses.
The visitors were amazed. One man asked, “Can he do regular dog tricks too?”
“I have not tried any of those yet,” the pastor replied, “but I will now.”
“Heel,” the pastor commanded. The dog immediately jumped on a chair, placed one paw on the pastor’s forehead and began to howl.
The pastor looked at his wife in shock and gasped, “Good Lord! This is a Pentecostal dog!”
While visiting a church member one day our conversation was interrupted by her dog barking loudly in an adjoining room. When my hostess had to answer her phone, I began barking back at the dog. He took up the challenge after a brief pause and barked even louder.
The sweet lady was too kind to chastise me for barking at her dog but I doubt she will want me to come back. That suits me fine because it is difficult to have a conversation when a barking dog is in the next room. Dogs have a way of destroying pastoral calls.
It is actually fun to bark with a dog. Next time the moon is full, have some fun. Go outside and howl at the moon a few times and let your dog wonder what on earth you are doing. If your dog starts howling with you, then you will know you have a regular old dog, a good dog. If the dog shakes his head and walks away mumbling, you know you have a dog that could get a job with the CIA. +

Monday, April 26, 2010

The night my father sent his son to rescue me

Nearly 40 years have passed but I remember that night in July as though it was yesterday. It was the night our car broke down on the highway near Greenville, Alabama.
I was 40 years old at the time, the father of five sons but still young enough to call my own father to bail me out of a problem. Though my father never graduated from high school he was one of the smartest men I have ever known. I grew up knowing that I could count on him in a crisis. He was strong and steady.
Daddy was a “Jack of all trades.” He had worked as a plumber’s assistant and along the way picked up basic skills in carpentry. He became a decent mechanic by maintaining his own farming equipment. He used what he had and found ingenious ways to fix things that were broken.
Dean and I married when we were 20. I was wet behind the ears with little experience in dealing with the unexpected. When there was a problem I was not ashamed to call Daddy for advice. He would know what to do when no one else did.
Calling on Daddy for advice gradually began to bother me. I thought it made me seem inadequate in my wife’s eyes. I wanted her to think that I could handle anything. Her father died when she was very young. She had not grown up depending on her dad as I had mine. I sensed that she wanted me to “grow up,” be a man, take charge, and stop calling my dad about every crisis.
I wanted that identity for myself too. I wanted my sons to think of me as I thought of my dad – a strong man who could fix anything. Gradually I began breaking the habit of calling Daddy for counsel. I felt like a real man at last.
So on that July night when our car broke down I was determined to fix the problem myself. We were returning to Mobile from a family vacation in Minnesota. With the help of a kind man who stopped to help us we pushed the car into a gas station just off the interstate.
I soon discovered that since it was Saturday no car repair center was open. No one knew of a mechanic who would be available until Monday. But I was desperate. I had to preach the next morning in my church. My family was dog tired.
I kept trying to locate a mechanic but searched in vain. And I did not have a clue what to do. I was exhausted. My wife was frustrated. Our sons were simply being little boys – and driving us crazy. My whole family was beginning to doubt my manhood. I could hear their silent demand: “You are the daddy. You are in charge. Why don’t you figure out what to do?”
Finally I thought about my favorite solution --call my daddy. But I was too proud to do that. After all, what could he do that I could not do? And I could hear my wife saying with a smirk, “So you called your Daddy did you? That is all you know how to do – call your Daddy!” I did not want to hear that so in desperation I went back to the drawing board. Still no answer came to mind.
Finally I caved in and called Daddy. Why not? He always knew what to do. By then I had learned that my car needed a new starter. Resourceful as ever, Daddy called a friend who ran an auto parts store. Though his store had been closed since noon, he agreed to meet Daddy at the store and sell him the starter. My brother Seth would be driving down to bring me the starter.
It was ten o’clock and help was on the way. My brother, sixty miles away, would arrive shortly after eleven o’clock. In the meantime fortune had smiled on me again; a local mechanic, home from an afternoon of fishing, had agreed to come to the service station and install the starter.
Once Seth arrived, the grumbling mechanic quickly replaced the starter. It was after midnight but we were on the road again. Yet before I had driven five miles suddenly I had to pull off the highway and stop the car. I was blinded by the tears that filled my eyes.
What triggered my crying was the sudden realization that this little Saturday night crisis was the gospel – fleshed out in this strange breakdown of our car. It was simple yet profound – I had called my father and he had sent his son to rescue us.
That is the essence of salvation – when our problems overwhelm us, we can call our heavenly Father and he will send His Son to save us. I could not imagine a more beautiful illustration of the gospel message. It is the message around which my whole life has been focused.
I sat on the side of the road for awhile regaining my composure. The boys were asleep, completely unaware of the exhilaration within my heart. My wife, half asleep, said, “What is wrong; why did you stop?” I told her I would explain later and urged her to go back to sleep. When my tears subsided I drove home, my weariness replaced by a joyous sense of the presence of God.
The next morning I told this story to my congregation and God blessed the telling of it. I reckon you can understand why I will never forget the night my father send his son to rescue me, and why I keep telling this story to anyone who will listen. @

Saturday, April 17, 2010

April 18, 2010

Today has been a special day to us for 57 years

April 18 has come again. It is not a holiday. It is not the birthday of a president or a Civil War general. For most people it is just another day on the calendar. But for me and my bride it has been a special day for 57 years. Our first son was born on this day in 1953.
Today being Sunday we will worship as usual where I preach every Lord’s Day, Saint James United Methodist Church in Montgomery. My sermon today will be about lessons we learned through the death of our son. Old folks simply have to reminisce. And we never cease to be thankful for those who will listen for a little while.
Many Lee County residents will remember April 18, 1953 for a different reason. A vicious tornado ripped through east Alabama that day, destroying several homes and damaging many others.
Dean and I began married life in an upstairs apartment on College Street across from Auburn United Methodist Church. But Dean was soon pregnant. After she fell down the stairs leading to our apartment we rented a house at 818 Lakeview Drive in Auburn. The rent was a whopping $75 per month. I was in my third year at API, the land-grant college would soon become known as Auburn University.
Early in the morning of April 18 we hurried off to the small hospital that is now called East Alabama Medical Center. Dean’s sharp and increasingly rapid labor pains convinced her that today she would deliver her firstborn.
Dark clouds and the forecast of bad weather made us a little uneasy. But it was the turbulence of childbirth, not the weather that got our attention that day.
The raging storm forced the hospital to switch to emergency power when nearby power lines went down. Rain was hitting the windows in torrents. Water even poured into the hospital through the air-conditioning ducts. But several hours would pass before we heard that a tornado had ripped through the community.
Our kind physician, Dr. Ben Thomas, had to drive through a torrential rain from Auburn get to the hospital. Shortly after his arrival, debris from the storm made driving in the area quite hazardous.
When I returned home that night, elated by the safe delivery of our first son, I found our house had been damaged by the storm. The roof had been ripped off above the front door, allowing the rain to soak some of our furniture. But the damage seemed incidental compared to the total destruction of several nearby homes.
Weighing nine pounds and two ounces, our baby boy was beautiful and healthy. His blond hair and blue eyes made him even more special to us. We were thrilled to have started our family. Though we had little money, we enjoyed life. The future was bright. We had the world by the tail. I finished Auburn and we moved to Nashville where I enrolled in seminary at Vanderbilt University.
But soon another storm descended upon us just as swiftly as the tornado had come. Tests brought bad news. Our doctor’s voice was breaking as he fought back tears and gave us the dreadful news, “Your son has leukemia.”
He explained that there was no known cure. The best he could do would be to keep David comfortable until he died. “Perhaps,” he said, “a cure will be discovered soon; a lot of research is being done.”
I asked how long David might live. His answer sent a chill up and down my spine. “My best guess is somewhere between two months and two years,” he said. It was the worst moment of my life – hearing that death sentence for our precious little boy. David was two years old, five months into his third year.
That diagnosis shattered our world on a day in September. David suffered. We struggled with the burden. We prayed. We cried. We stifled our anger and wrestled with our fear. Underneath all our frustration was the maddening question: Why would a loving God let a beautiful little boy die like this?
Finally David’s suffering came to an end on a day in May the next year. His death wounded us but it did not destroy us. Though tested sorely by the loss of our only child, our marriage lasted and became stronger. God met us in the hallways of hell and showed us the way out. We refused to become bitter and asked God to make us better. We tried to let him use our pain.
Over these 57 years our sadness has given way to the overwhelming joy that is God’s gift to those who keep on holding his hand through tough times.
And each time April 18 rolls around, we pause to give thanks for the privilege of having David for three short years. We also give thanks that in his kindness, God gave us four other sons, each of whom is very precious to us in these days.
This time, the 57th celebration of David’s birth, we offer thanks that we are still together, still able to remember his beautiful smile, and still thankful for the joy that was ours on the turbulent day our first child was born.
I hope you understand why the 18th day of April remains a very special day to us. It will always be so, as long as we live. @