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GOD & TEXAS: Burning Bush, Texas

Called the “Holy Jumpers” by the locals, the immigrants from Wisconsin established their church in 1912, in the community of Bullard, south of Tyler. Officially known as the Society of the Burning Bush, they based out of the Metropolitan Church Association of Waukesha.

It is estimated that 375 disgruntled Methodists came to Texas hoping to establish a “Free Methodist” commune that rejected the formality of the mainline denomination. And their worship services were quite liberating, indeed.

Eyewitnesses reported that not only did the worshippers “jump and holler” during the services, but “Bushers would even turn backflips in church and roll around on the sawdust floor of the tabernacle.” Another spectator stated that “they rolled on the floor a lot, and they stood on the benches when they got religion!”

The “Bushers” were also known for their beautiful singing that attracted visitors each week. In fact, their worship services were filled with original songs that were published in their song books and sold nationally.

The “Bushers” did not tolerate alcohol or tobacco among their members, and they rarely interacted with neighbors outside of their commune. There was no structured class system within the group, and they strictly followed Acts 4:32 NIV, “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.”

But they were unsuccessful at farming. Even though they had good equipment, they did not understand the complexities of the Texas climate. When crops failed, they had to borrow money from local merchants, and when they could not repay their debt, their land was seized by the government, and their debts were paid through the proceeds of a sale.

By 1919, they had abandoned the area and today, few ruins are left of the once zealous pilgrims. Though well-meaning, the “Bushers” left behind a sad testimony of people who did not count the cost of their endeavor.

Most people who start a business or a marriage want to succeed. So why do so many partnerships fail? Could it be that they did not wholly determine what it would take to achieve success? It was the amazing Tom Landry, former coach of the Dallas Cowboys, who stated, “Setting a goal is not the main thing. It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with that plan.”

Jesus taught these powerful principles of preparation in Luke 14:28 ESV – “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?” Jesus was more concerned that we will succeed in our spiritual lives than our business ventures.

Make the Bible your plan and stay with it. Or as my father used to say, “It doesn’t matter how high you jump, it’s how straight you walk when you hit the ground.”


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