Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Have A Blessed New Year In 2009!

Okay, it’s now Wednesday, December 31, 2008 and I’m still trying to figure out how if the low in my neighborhood was 37 degrees Fahrenheit, why did my auto windshield freeze so solidly? Well, just so you know, I did some research and after perusing many different theories and ideas, this one from an internet based meteorology column seemed to make the most sense: “Note that when conditions are clear and calm, it is quite possible for a radiatively cooled surface to drop to 4, 6, 8, even ten degrees below the temperature of the air above. Also note that the supercooling and freezing upon contact and spreading over a subfreezing surface is a process that occurs in freezing rain situations at or near the ground, and in scenarios aloft in which clear icing occurs on aircraft.” In other words, the windshield can be much colder than the ambient temperature. I would try and figure out a way to apologize to my weather forecasting folks for incriminating them in this issue, however, they have more than enough to answer for before dealing with this minor glitch. Now that you have had your science snippet for the day, we can move on to things of greater importance.

Here we are counting down the last hours of 2008. Those of you who have tracked along side our journey over the past twelve months might chuckle at a recent prediction from our youngest son: “One thing I really believe, dad, is that you are going to have a much better year in 2009!” We are not promised that or anything else except that God will be with us without regard to the challenges we end up facing. This, of course, is the appropriate time to take stock of where you have been, how have you done, and where you would like to see yourself make progress in the brand new year. We are all aware of those pesky efforts called ‘resolutions’ that make a lot of noise early on but typically fade about as quickly as a balloon losing its air. However, this doesn’t mean the idea is bad especially when we think about the most important area of our life.

That involves making progress in our spiritual development and our walk with our God. He desires to have intimate fellowship with those who are His very own. Many people come up with targets that will accomplish desired outcomes for the New Year. Sadly, very few of us make spiritual goals our first priority as we seek to make progress in our journey here on the planet. Having zero targets will almost always make sure you hit them every time! What are some meaningful goals for one’s spiritual walk? First would be to spend significant time with God. We do this when we immerse ourselves in His Word, spend time in prayer, and in devoting personal worship towards Him. Secondly, we should seek to serve Him by serving others along side fellow believers with the time, talent, testimony, and treasures He has provided to us. Lastly, we should embrace those He has given into our care like our families, our associates, our fellow Church members, and others in seeking to influence them with the love and truth they need. Those are just three and there’s no doubt more but I will be doing good to stay focused on these three.

I do pray that you and yours will have a blessed New Year and that we all will find ourselves thanking God for His goodness to us and in serving Him more in 2009 than we did in 2008! Amen. Lord willing I’ll see you once we top that hill over there called a brand spanking New Year! …..More later.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

No one told me I would need a scraper!

They said it would only be in the upper thirties for this Tuesday morning, December 30, 2008. If that was an accurate prediction, then why did I have a fairly thick sheet of ice on my windshield that took several minutes to clear with the defroster running wide open? I'll do my best not to get all riled up over the weather forecasters because it can be a sore subject with me. But that's a story that will work almost any day, especially around these parts. Good morning and greetings from the land of icy windshields where the grumbling comes pretty easy but in the end thankfulness and praise to God wins the day. Life is a messy business and don't let anyone tell you something different. It requires strength that to be perfectly honest I don't have. Sure, I know many unbelievers that face much adversity and trouble and they do it with a commendable resolve and grit. However, I would not want to deal with the vicissitudes that accompany each and every day without the living presence of the living Lord of the universe who dwells in me! Good, bad, or indifferent, He is always there and always ready to help in our time of need. And, we are in need, every single day!

The Christmas season is pretty much fading but there are a few die hards that still have their beautiful lights shining for all to see. One of the things that catches my attention in the morning is the condition of all those blow up objects after they have been shut down. You will have to admit they look pretty pathetic laying there in little wads with no air to keep them inflated. There's a house that has many of these mounted on their roof and they sure look beautiful all blown up and illuminated but when they are deflated they look kind of sad. It reminds me of the trip we made out to Vegas for our youngest son's wedding. We arrived mid day and the way the taxi carried us to our hotel gave us an up close and personal view of the streets in broad daylight. They were like Bourbon Street the morning after. At night Vegas is stunning but it's quite a different view in the bright sun light. That's the way it is when we chase after the brightly lighted world that Satan would have us to believe is what life is all about. However, the light of truth reveals to us how empty, fleeting, and ultimately ruinous this pursuit is.

The Bible says: 1 John 1:7 "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin." Been there and done that would be my answer to those on that treadmill looking for love in all the wrong places. Without the light He gives to point the way for me, I would be stumbling in the darkness while thinking it was just what I needed. I do pray that we all will see the difference, even on a morning when I was not supposed to have to wait for my windshield to clear. Talk about losing time! Talk about those weather people! Oh yeah, that's right, I said I wasn't going to let that bother me, bother me, bother me. And, after all, I can do all things including dealing with an icy windshield to start my day, with the strength that comes to me through the power of my Savior. A good thought for a day, like most days, where we all will face many challenges. May God bless and keep you and yours. Amen. Until next time, I remain, your bogged down blogger! ....More later.

Monday, December 29, 2008

"I'm back in the saddle again!" (Gene Autry)

It's time to wake up and get ready for a brand new day on this Monday, December 29, 2008. After being off for nine days it was a great drive in to the workplace this morning. I even had trouble sleeping as I anticipated being able to get back to the routine of the job I have been blessed to have. People have laughed about me being excited about my job all the way back to the very first job I was able to get. For some reason in this culture, work is supposed to be something you have to do, not something that is exciting. I'm not saying I've never been in the ditch in a particular job situation where I really did hate to have to deal with the pressures and problems, however, I am super thankful that, overall, God has given me a desire to contribute to whatever enterprise I am associated with. That's how I felt this morning when my wife commented that I was leaving even earlier than usual, (3:45 a.m.). But we all are wired up a certain way and that happens to be the way I am connected. I feel very blessed to be that way since it works on Saturday and Sunday as well. That's right, it is a blessing and not a curse as some might think it would be.

But now on to more important matters. How in the world are you doing, anyway? Did you enjoy the Christmas celebration? Did you take time to remember the REASON we even have a Christmas SEASON? Were you able to embrace those near and dear to you? Did you take some time to thank God for His GIFT to the world along with the many other gifts we all enjoy? How about the food? I know we enjoyed a sumptuous day long feast of snacks, finger foods, dips, chips, and then we got serious on some huge grilled steaks, baked potatoes, and all the trimmings. You thought it had to be turkey and dressing? We like that too. We had some on Thanksgiving Day. But our tradition is a steak feast and we've been doing it for perhaps twenty five years or longer. Let me also acknowledge the many financial gifts God has recently given to us above and beyond our regular sources of income. These came from folks who care about our wellbeing and we thank God for their compassion and love. In the end we look back on Christmas 2008 with grateful hearts for how God has provided during perhaps one of the most difficult times in our lives. He is faithful!

Last night I visited with our dear Bro. Milton who is still in the critical wing of ICU. Were it not for that breathing mask he must wear, he would almost look like his old self. His eyes communicate a message of a man of God dealing with a great challenge but thankful for all that God has brought him through. He always enjoys me being there with him. My wife has asked what it is about Bro. Milton and I that makes him desire for me to be there. I believe it is our spiritual bond that has developed over our forty plus years of association. I have great admiration and respect for him as a preacher of the Gospel and as a faithful servant of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He feels connected to our shared relationship in Christ. He always wants me to pray when I am with him there in the hospital. That's our connection. We are two men who recognize that God is the only answer and only hope for our being able to live the life He has called us to live, whether it's getting up and going to work like I did this morning, or in getting the next breath of air like our dear Bro. Milton struggles to do each second. The old hymn comes to mind, "Bless be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love; The fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above." My prayer is that you and yours will have a blessed week as you seek to serve God with your time, talent, testimony, and whatever treasures He has given to you. Amen. ......More later.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Ain't it good to be back home again!!!!!

It's Saturday, December 27, 2008 and believe it or not I am seated at my computer and doing my version of click clacking away on my keyboard in my own home. That's right! We are now officially (since 10:30 a.m.) back in our partially restored home and will be spending our first night here tonight since we vacated it on September 14. We have a houseful of Bro. Milton's family as they are staying near him to bring him comfort in his journey to recovery. I believe we have nine bedding down and have populated the recently installed new carpet with blow up mattresses (I think we are up to six now). But as the song goes, "Ain't it good to be back home again." We enjoyed a most wonderful Christmas Day at our eldest son's home with the entire crew there and even better, all were in good spirits. We had our regular traditional steak cookout, gift exchange, and reading of the account of the birth of Jesus the Christ as recorded in Luke's Gospel. It was the usual chaos but a blessed time we will all cherish. Our Bro. Milton's spirits are good but he is still struggling in regaining his breathing capability. He continues to receive excellent care and we are so thankful to so many for their prayers and support. Last Tuesday afternoon a lady darted over into my lane and creamed my passenger side front fender. She literally knocked the daylights out of me and my car. She was a very wonderful young lady who was very sorry for what had happened. I had been over on the other side of the metroplex to fetch our Jimmy since he is not supposed to be driving yet after his heart procedure. Wow! Every day is an adventure. I saw our worship pastor at the department store and was telling him about it and he said he thought maybe they would just start calling me Brother Job. I assured him that I in no way considered myself to be in that category and given all that's happened, I count way more blessings than troubles. This, of course, begins with knowing God through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and then the blessings follow one by one. Thanks to one and all for standing by us and we will wait and see what new adventure lies ahead! We know that God is already there and He will never leave us, no not ever! Have a great rest of the day on this Saturday and may tomorrow find you meeting with God's people at one of His local fellowships of believers. Amen. ....More later.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Trusting in uncertain riches!

Good morning and welcome to the continuing living of our lives on the current thrill ride called: The Economic Roller Coaster. Yes, it’s Friday, December 19, 2008 and this is what I am thinking about today. It’s not as if I don’t have other things to deal with but it’s always interesting to observe God’s truths as they are reflected back in real life. The other day I was listening to a radio interview featuring a pawnshop operator out in an upscale area in California. He was commenting on the inquiries he had received just since this latest huge 50 billion dollar fraud had been discovered where essentially one man destroyed the wealth of thousands or more. He said he had been asked to bid on yachts, high-end jewelry, exotic sports cars, and many other luxury items. Some who called him were desperate because their wealth had essentially been eliminated in one fell swoop. (That is the correct rendering of the phrase, not ‘fail swoop’ as is so often used. Fell is archaic but it has the meaning of bringing something down like our recently felled tree.)

We are all aware of what it means to lose something. But it’s not the typical experience of ordinary people to go to bed a very wealthy person and wake up the next morning essentially broke. The pawnshop operator said when this happens to the very rich they suddenly become very much like everyone else. He said he felt sorry for them because often their very expensive goods are no longer of much value in this economy and they are devastated whenever he gives them a fair market price. The Apostle Paul had something to say about wealth in this world. He told his young helper Timothy to warn those who were wealthy not to put their trust in uncertain riches. I’ve observed that as we live in the flesh, even as believers, often we do so practicing two extremes. When things are going well we tend to forget about our need of God. When things are going really bad we tend to think God is not treating us fairly.

Many often joke about how they don’t have to worry about how the rich may feel since they are not and never have been wealthy. However, to the overwhelming majority of folks who populate the planet even Americans making a modest income would be thought of as rich. Poor people can be just as ungodly as rich people. The calling is for us all to be faithful in whatever condition we find ourselves. That’s exactly what the Apostle Paul said in that now famous passage from Philippians Chapter 4, 11) "Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12) I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13) I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Good, bad, or indifferent we can make it if our trust is in God and we are living by faith and receiving His strength to enable our way. A good reminder so near the day we set aside to remember when Immanuel, (God with us), made his appearance as an infant born to his virgin mother, coming into His created world to save His created human family from their sins. Have a wonderful Saturday and Lord’s Day Sunday. Amen. ….More later.

PS ......We hope to move back to our home next week. Our phone lines and internet are scheduled to be reconnected next Monday. Therefore, with God’s help I am hoping to post something before Christmas Day. Our company is on holiday until December 29 so depending on how things work out I may not see you until then. Me being offline for a few days might be the best Christmas present of all but that will not deter me and I will be doing my best to post before then.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Remembering and recognizing these very special blessings in my life.

The week has flown by and we have blurred our way to Thursday, December 18, 2008. Today I am delighted to recognize my wife on this 44th anniversary of that icy cold day back in 1964 when our dear Bro. Milton, now laid up in a nearby ICU room, announced to all assembled in that small parsonage: “I now pronounce you man and wife!” Some like to show admiration for their mate by telling everyone they have become their best friend. That’s fine with me but I don’t see my wife in that way at all. In fact, I would never downgrade my respect and love for her by calling her my friend. She is my bride and wife, even as Christ is described to have the Church as His bride, and that’s a position of honor way beyond any definition of friendship. All that know her will attest to the fact that she is a beloved and remarkable woman. She is the type of wife, mother, and Godly influence that causes me to do my best, with God’s help, to honor the Scripture that says I am to love her in the same way that Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for the Church. (Ephesians 5:25) Happy anniversary sweetheart and may God grant us many more years together.

Today is also our daughter-in-law Mitzi’s birthday. She is a blessing in our lives. She is married to our youngest son and they are a good team. She takes care of her family. She takes this responsibility very seriously. She is a wonderful mother to our grandchildren, Kyleigh, Lexie, and Brady. Does she make a difference? Saved and baptized within the past two years, and since then Kyleigh and Lexie have received Christ and followed Him in baptism. Wow! She is also a person who loves people and has friends galore including some that go back to her childhood. We pause at this time to wish her not only a happy birthday but to also thank God for her being a part of our family.

Last but certainly not least we celebrate the birthday today of our Jimmy Jr., who is now a 12 year old. No one will ever know how many times this little dude helped his Poppy escape the worrisome toils we must deal with in this life. Every one of our grandchildren are special to us. Each are unique and we count them as gifts from God. Jimmy Jr. is our first grandson. Being first is always a distinction that counts for something and it certainly has been that way in my relationship with him. Another blessing has been how God has allowed all our grandchildren to grow up in our presence. There’s some downside to this since we typically are aware of many of the struggles they face but having a hand in raising them up is a gift that we treasure. Even as I write this blog I can recall the many nights our Lil Jim spent the night with his MiMi and Poppy and how we rocked him to sleep, that is, after we went outside to tell the moon good night. Today, he’s a computer game geek and busy about the work of changing into a young man. However, he still carries that sparkle and winsomeness that melts our hearts. Happy birthday to our Jimmy Jr., and may God bless him now and forever. So much to be thankful for! Amen. …….More later.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

"And it came to pass....."

Good morning and welcome to another episode of gleanings from the Good Book, on this Wednesday, December 17, 2008. We are no doubt familiar with reading or hearing the phrase ‘And it came to pass’ from the Bible. It appears some 456 times in the King James Version and it typically has the meaning of something taking place next. However, Mark Lowry, the Christian singer and comedian likes to use it as a hook in saying we should all have this as our favorite phrase because the good news is that whatever it is, it came to pass, not stay, therefore, we can be optimistic about the future. While his interpretation may bring a smile there’s a message for we who are believers in knowing that while we can go through some really tough times here, there is a better day coming, and God will make a way even where there seems to be no way.

We at times think we are being picked on but we can be sure that nothing that happens to us escapes God’s attention or His ultimate control. If no sparrow ever falls to the ground without His knowledge and involvement we can be sure that we as His very own children bought with the blood of His dear Son can have confidence in His connection to and care for us. This is the good news of the Gospel as it relates to having a new life, one characterized by a new relationship with the living Lord of the universe. It goes beyond the initial blessing of salvation because it’s an eternal life where He binds Himself to never leave nor forsake His own. As we deal with life’s challenging details we can get bogged down, frustrated, and feel disconnected from the God who saved us, but, the good news is that our feelings don’t change anything about the truth, and God is faithful even when the strength of our faith is tossed to and fro on the sea of life.

Here’s a wonderful poem by Helen Steiner Rice, one of my late Granny Mac’s favorite writers. In it she tries to capture the key to victory as we deal with the struggles that come our way. May God bless us all as we seek to work through and trust God in these times that can be challenging. Amen. ......More later.

This Too Shall Pass

If I can endure for this minute
Whatever is happening to me,
No matter how heavy my heart is
Or how dark the moment may be-

If I can remain calm and quiet
With all the world crashing about me,
Secure in the knowledge God loves me
When everyone else seems to doubt me-

If I can but keep on believing
What I know in my heart to be true,
That darkness will fade with the morning
And that this will pass away, too-

Then nothing in life can defeat me
For as long as this knowledge remains
I can suffer whatever is happening
For I know God will break all of the chains

That are binding me tight in the darkness
And trying to fill me with fear-
For there is no night without dawning
And I know that my morning is near.

Helen Steiner Rice

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

One of those old space heaters would feel good to back up to on this cold morning!

Here's a brief status update: One of our dear Christian brothers who was our local Church music leader for many years used to always say that regardless of the circumstances: God is good all the time; all the time God is good. That is true but it helps to be reminded of this when you seem to be surrounded by the ups and downs that come in this life. My wife has essentially worn herself out with trying to be the mother of everyone involved in our dear Bro. Milton's health crisis. I have seen it coming but she typically only agrees with me after the fact. She had to go to bed yesterday afternoon and hopefully she will awake this morning with a refreshed spirit and some recovered strength. Our eldest granddaughter Tiffany also had a scare yesterday with some chest pains and numbness, however, we are thankful that it was not as serious as it could have been, and they think she suffered from an anxiety attack. Our middle son Jimmy is scheduled for a heart procedure on Friday and we continue to pray God's help into his life. All of these things constitute the fabric of life as we work our way homeward. In addition to these we have the continuing saga of restoring our home with scheduling, coordination, and deadlines to meet. All we can say at this time is that God is good all the time; all the time God is good!

But how in the world are you anyway on this cold Tuesday morning, December 16, 2008? Here in these parts yesterday morning the temperature dropped like a huge rock falling off the side of a mountain. I made my rounds to open all our shop buildings just before 6 a.m. in my shirtsleeves with the temp around 60 degrees F. By 10 a.m. it hit 41 degrees F with a wind chill putting it into the high thirties. Just last Wednesday we had snow and patches of ice around the area and by Saturday we were back in the high seventies. I know everyone talks about how that if you don’t like the weather just wait a little while because it will change but in our area that seems to be a regular event. I suppose we should all be glad it’s not February 8, 1933. On that day the state of Texas reported it’s coldest temperature of record, -23 degrees F. That was up in the panhandle but the entire state was gripped by the cold. Here in our immediate area the lowest ever recorded was 5 degrees F back in 1930.

The coldest temperature ever recorded for our country was near –80 degrees F in Northern Alaska in January 1971. The lowest in the lower 48 was near –70 degrees F in Montana in 1954. Actually I was not surprised that Hawaii is the only state never to experience a below zero day, however, they did record a 12 degrees F reading on one of their mountaintops in 1979. This means our teeth may chatter a little as the blustering wind cuts through us but I can’t even imagine how life threatening some of the record lows would be. Even as I write this blog there are folks up in the Northeast that are digging out from under a blizzard that has knocked out power for several days. Over in the west, many states are registering below freezing temps and some with their highs being in the low minus teens. Reviewing these numbers may make our cold snap a little more bearable? What do you think?

Cold or no cold we persevere. We found out during the recent hurricane that there are a huge number of elements we have no control over. We were without power for three and one half weeks but I can hardly imagine how that would be in minus zero temperatures. In the end we do not subscribe to the survival of the fittest model, we follow the survival of the faithful model because cold or no cold, electricity or no electricity, our future is in the hands of our heavenly Father, Creator of all things. The little children have it right when they sing “He’s got the whole world in His hands.” The news may report something very much in conflict with the appearance of His control but that doesn’t in any way change the truth. This is the measure of our belief, that is, our acceptance of Him and His word regardless of how things are reported or how our feelings inform us during difficult times. The world calls this foolish but what would we expect from those who refuse to respond to the God who made them? Our answer comes in the form of us living out our faith that demonstrates in Whom we have placed our trust. Therefore, put on a sweater or two and look up for our redemption ever draws near! Amen. …..more later.

Monday, December 15, 2008

I think I see a finish line up ahead.

It's Monday, December 15, 2008 and there's only a handful of days left to do your shopping for Christmas. Hurricane Ike felled the old pine tree and then our Bro. Milton went down with a heart attack and stroke, we are heads down into trying to move back into our restored home, therefore, shopping for Christmas has been almost totally absent from our radar screen. This doesn't mean I am a scrooge because no one loves the Christmas season more than I. Yet, on this particular celebration of the coming of our Lord and Savior I may have to forego my typical exuberance and excitement. To be honest, I've hardly noticed anything other than the 'all of the above' involved in the immediate priorities listed. I do know this is our wedding anniversary week and we will observe the 44th year of our union this coming Thursday. That will also be the birthday of our first grandson who will be 12 on Thursday, and that's also the birthday of our youngest son's wife, Mitzi. See, I am still keeping up with other things a little. I used the word observe with regards to our anniversary because celebrating it may have to wait. I do intend, however, with God's help, to do something for our Jimmy Jr. because he is our first grandson and it's like we've been away on a trip over the past several months and have to a certain extent lost touch with those who are so very near to us.

Our dear Bro. Milton continues to make progress. One nurse told his son that she predicts he will be out of the hospital by Christmas day. Wow! That would be something. He is now fully aware that in order to get well he has to be able to assist in his recovery and he is committed to doing his part. You can only imagine how his family is feeling right now given his condition just one week ago. They are thankful. Thankful to God and thankful to family and to people far and wide who have prayed for and supported them through this difficult time. This will not be a quick flight. The road to full recovery will be more like a long journey but one where he will have many to encourage him and support his efforts. Meanwhile, progress continues to be marked at our damaged home. The cabinets are mostly installed, the counter tops are scheduled this week, and the carpet will be put in over the upcoming weekend. We may also get to the laminate flooring as well which will pretty much finish the major stuff on the inside. This will allow us to move back in and provide housing for Bro. Milton's family as it is needed. The work on the garage and painting the outside will follow. In addition to these things, our middle son Jimmy has some current health concerns including a potential heart issue. All of this is in the preliminary evaluation stage and he is scheduled for follow-up testing this coming Friday. Many of his problems can be addressed with diet and lifestyle changes but that's always a difficult challenge. We are praying for God to help in his health and in his response to the issues at hand. No one said that life would be easy!

Burning the candle at both ends is an old saying which has come to mean one who is overwrought with too much stuff to do requiring them to work day and night. When it first came to be used it literally meant wastefulness in that it indicated the actual burning of a candle at both ends at the same time. This was back in the early 1700's. Putting those two together where I find myself burning the candle on both ends and in the middle all at the same time pretty well demonstrates our current workload. Given the way things unfold there is likely a fair amount of waste involved as well. However, we are so very thankful that God has given us the strength we have to continue to persevere. So many look at our current progress on our home and they see a vision of what it will be when we are finished. They are so impressed. I do like that attitude and appreciate their vision. Unfortunately, for me at this time, all I see is the mess that must be dealt with before the next trade or craft is scheduled in. That's what you call being too close to the trees to see the beauty of the forest. I am well aware that when we finish it will be nice. Right now it is the finishing part that occupies my focus and priority. With God's help we will get there! I send out a heartfelt thanks to all who have prayed and continue to pray for us during this very event filled time in our lives. May God bless your work week! Amen. ....more later.

Friday, December 12, 2008

"Brother, will you pray for me?"

It's a cold frosty and even a little icy morning here is Southeast Texas on this Friday, December 12, 2008. I am, however, still basking in the warmth of my first face to face visit with our dear Bro. Milton since his heart surgery. He recognized me immediately and thanked me for coming. As I laid my hand on his shoulder he said something I will always treasure, "Brother, will you pray for me?" I immediately bowed my head and gave thanks to God for His grace and mercy shown towards his dear servant in all this ordeal that had come his way. I had stood in that same place the night before his surgery and prayed without knowing whether he heard me or not and now I was privileged to honor his request. He then told me he loved me and said he was so very sorry because he had wanted so much to help finish the work on our house. Folks, we are talking about a man who at a number of different times since last Saturday had been pretty much given up as being with little hope for survival. I will never understand the sovereign working of God but this I can be certain of: Prayer is a part of how He moves to accomplish His purposes and when we pray we cooperate with His working. He still has a long way to go but he is off the respirator, able to drink fluids, and has even eaten a few bites. He is still very weak from the tremendous shock and stress his body endured over the past several days. But, he is able to talk, to smile, cry, and joke with his family and those attending to his needs. I know there is a technical definition as to what constitutes a biblical miracle in that it involves the setting aside of natural laws and superseding them with supernatural power. Bro. Milton's recovery may not fall into that specific category but his coming to where he is today is a God thing and we give God thanks for it all as we praise Him for His abiding love and concern for His own. Bro. Milton's wife opened a large envelope sent by priority mail to our address from their home Church in Florida. Inside there were some dozen or more handmade get well cards out of construction paper from some of the little ones as they expressed their love and concern for Bro. Milton. It reminded me that unless we become as little children we cannot see the kingdom of God. This means we have to walk in childlike faith as we trust our Father to lead, guide, protect, and direct our way. I'm looking at my desk and it's stacked up with stuff that cries out for my attention and as soon as I finish this I will be responding, but let me just wish each of you a most wonderful Saturday and Sunday and please whisper a prayer of thanksgiving for how God has shown Himself to so many within our family, those visiting the hospital, and to literally thousands who have cried out to Him on behalf of Bro. Milton and his family. Lord willing, I will be back on Monday and I'm never sure whether that's a warning or a promise but I do hope to see you then. May God bless. Amen. .....More later.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Oh, magnify the Lord with me!

It's Thursday already on this 11th day of December, 2008. We have good news! Yes, it did snow some yesterday and last night but that isn't the good news. The good news is how that God has worked to bring our Bro. Milton through his open heart surgery and the doctor said it went better than he would have ever hoped! Now that is something to thank God for. The Psalmist David said it this way: "Oh, magnify the Lord with me, And let us exalt His name together." This was the theme of those gathered at the hospital yesterday. We were knocked down by the many believing medical staff including the heart surgeon who not only offered their skills and talents, but their personal prayers. Having your surgeon offer a prayer with the family before undertaking such a serious procedure is not something that happens every day. In many ways time for us has more or less stopped since last Saturday morning. Yes, we still have a house to put back together. Yes, we still have jobs to see after and our 'to do' list has not gone away. But, it's amazing how priorities shift and attention towards God and the seeking of His help becomes first in line. We are not out of the woods but we are where we are by the grace of God and today they begin the process of waking him up and starting his recovery and rehabilitation. Meanwhile, we will get back to doing life in all of its hustle and bustle but we will never forget how God has provided in this situation. One testimony from our nephew Byron reflects how people of faith connect the dots. Byron believes that God provided for his dad the world class care he has received in helping to locate and deal with the source of a problem that has plagued him, perhaps for years. Had Bro. Milton been at his residence in Florida or at the small retirement home they are building in Louisiana, then he would not have survived due to distance alone. He was able to be at the ER here within twenty minutes and they had to resuscitate him three times upon his arrival. Byron puts it this way: "God sent an old pine tree calling at your address so that dad could finally get to the root of his problems." Wow! That's a remarkable reading of what it means to serve a God who works all things for good to those who love Him and are the called according to His purpose. Thanks so much for all your prayers and please continue to lift up Bro. Milton as these next days and weeks will be critical in his recovery. May God receive all praise and honor from this event in our lives. Amen. .........More later.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

In Jesus Name We Pray, Amen.

This is the day that God has given to us and we rejoice in it on this Wednesday, December 10, 2008. Today is a crucial day for our dear Bro. Milton. He will undergo a very serious open heart surgery at 10 a.m. The surgery will seek to repair a main valve and they will also do a double bypass while working on the valve. This would be a very serious surgery for anyone under any condition but with the events unfolding since last Saturday Bro. Milton is considered to be at much higher risk. I was privileged to hold his hand and pray for him last evening. This morning I felt led to pray the 23rd Psalm on behalf of Bro. Milton. I prayed this Psalm several times and perhaps God would have you to do the same thing as we together seek His perfect will for His devoted servant. This is how I prayed: "Because You Oh Lord are Bro. Milton's shepherd; he will not be in want. You make Bro. Milton to lie down in green pastures; You lead Bro. Milton beside the still waters. You restore Bro. Milton's soul; and You lead him in the paths of righteousness for Your name's sake. Today, Bro. Milton will walk through the valley of the shadow of death, but he will fear no evil; For You are with him, Your rod and Your staff, they will comfort him. You will prepare a table for Bro. Milton in the presence of his enemies; You anoint his head with oil and Bro. Milton's cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy will follow Bro. Milton all the days of his life; and he will dwell in Your house, the house of His God, forever and ever, Amen." .....more later

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tuesday update and more....

Hello to one and all on this Tuesday December 9, 2008. I am very humbled to report that my brother-in-law, Bro. Milton, is showing some signs of improvement as he continues to struggle with this significant heart/related event. Yesterday more folks came, more preachers showed up, and more prayers were offered here as well as throughout our land. We thank one and all for praying and as one doctor said last evening, "He may come out of this and it will be like waking up and getting back to his life and we may never really know exactly what happened.", but we do know Who holds us all in His hands and He is worthy of our praise each and every moment of every day. Now on to my discombobulated blog.

Just eight more years!

You may have seen or heard about a recent study that indicated people who are 70 years old actually feel on average 13 years younger. This has presented me with a wonderful prize that awaits me when I reach this milestone. Because to tell you the truth I would not be able to be in that average at the moment since I feel like I am 70 already. And they say you are only as old as you feel, right? But it is good news that folks are feeling much better as they age and that particular study went on to say that most were very satisfied with how they felt. Man oh man; I do look forward to being 70!

This would mean the average 70-year-old feels like they are only 57. I’ve been trying to remember exactly how I felt at 57. I know I was quite a bit heavier and spent quite a bit more time at the dinner table but from a quality of life perspective, I can’t zero in on how that being 57 produced any type of magical feeling. Maybe those dudes who are 70 are mostly remembering how cool the 1957 Chevy looked and then by transference it makes them feel younger. I most likely drooled at least once or twice over a 1957 Chevy but I also drooled over a lot of other cars like the 1955 Ford Crown Victoria that I drove when I dated my wife to be. Those who are 70 in 2008 were born in 1938. They would have been too young for World War II, and would have also missed the Korean Conflict. Some of them may have participated in Vietnam but they would have been a little old for the draft.

Thirteen years on average. That’s a powerful number when you think about it. I did have a fellow at Church tell me one day that he had heard on talk radio that 55 is the new middle age. Everyone knows you can take it to the bank if you heard it on talk radio, right? This means that if the age of 40 was the previous middle age and now it’s 55, then I should just be coming into my prime or something like that. Someone needs to tell me why I don’t perceive this to be the case. Since the study said the result reflected the average then there had to be those who were something other than average. Now I think I may be close to finding my category. That’s me. I’m always the plus or minus guy but that doesn’t keep me from hoping that in just eight more years I’ll be ready to kick up my heels! It’s always good to have something to look forward to. May God bless and keep you and yours. Amen. ….More later.

Monday, December 8, 2008

We never know what a day will bring forth. But we do know who does!

It is Monday, December 8, 2008 but to tell you the truth it's almost like I'm not clear on exactly what all has happened and where we actually are since last Saturday morning. Our nephew and his dad are here from Florida leading the restoration work on our home. They are doing excellent work and we would never have been able to have gotten the upgrades and quality had we used someone other than family. But, on Saturday morning the dad, my wife's brother, Bro. Milton suffered a heart episode along with other yet to be determined issues that nearly saw him leave this life for the next. He actually had to be resuscitated three different times in the emergency room and as of this morning he remains in very critical but stable condition in the intensive care unit. We had all assembled Saturday to get a lot of projects done. I had stopped by the donut shop and picked up some goodies to get the day off and running. We had a full day planned and got jump started with some good old fashioned laughing and fellowship. However, our dear Bro. Milton who has had many health challenges over the past several years reached a point where his life, our lives, the lives of many others came to a standstill.

You might recall that Bro. Milton is a man of the Gospel. A preacher boy as we have always called him although he recently turned 68. One of the blessings in all of this has been the availability of world class medical attention here in our area. He is receiving the best care imaginable and we are thankful for all the skill and dedicated work being rendered on a 24 hour basis. Bro. Milton surrendered to preach in the summer of 1964. He was licensed by a local Church and come December of that same year he agreed to perform his very first marriage ceremony. That was 44 years ago this coming December 18 and the bride and groom were none other than my wife and myself. To say we are interconnected would be an understatement. Bro. Milton has pastored Churches and done the work of an evangelist and revival speaker for these same 44 years and counting. Over the past 48 hours there have been times when it looked like he was going on to his reward and we would have praised God for him and his life. We all have prayed that he be spared for his wife, his children, and his beloved grandchildren, but we, as people of faith, also can with confidence pray God's will be done even as Jesus did as He dealt with the great challenge of the cross in His life.

The outpouring of affection for Bro. Milton personally has been something to behold. People from all over the country have called. Entire Churches have held prayer meetings on his behalf. Pastors have driven from far away places to pray over him. The response of our own local fellowship has been tremendous and all of this is a testimony to what a difference Jesus makes in a life, Bro. Milton's life, and the lives of any and all who are willing to receive Him. We are guardedly optimistic as we face today's many decisions regarding the search for the primary cause of his trouble. We have been told that while they are clear that he had a serious heart episode they are still at a loss as to why he is still battling for his life at this time. People are praying. We are praying. You can pray also and we would humbly ask that you do so. It's been an unbelievably stressful 48 hours but only because we are frail, emotional, and our hearts hurt for Bro. Milton and his family. Just so you know, he is the real deal, a man who perhaps more than any I've known who consistently has lived his life out in the open as a daily testimony to God's working in and through him. I have been saying for at least 30 years or more that this man comes about as close to that which was said about David in the Bible as anyone I've known: "A man after God's own heart." We never know what is going to happen next or what will be the content of the next phone call, HOWEVER, as even this situation portrays, God is always there and He can always be counted on to be with us every step of the way. And, as Bro. Milton's older brother Cleon said, "In this situation it is going to be okay regardless of the medical outcome." Amen. ....More later.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Those who fail to plan - - - plan to fail!

Yeah. That’s right. I have a plan (dream) and it is on my mind on this Friday, December 5, 2008. We are working our fingers to the bone, figuratively and to a certain extent literally speaking, to allow us to move back into the inside of our home one of the days during that week before Thursday, December 25th. We now have laid out the final ordering and schedules required to make this happen. We will not be able to host our family Christmas time there but our eldest son and his wife have graciously invited everyone to their home for that. However, to be able to get back to where we have hung our hats for nearly twenty-five years will be such a great blessing. In order to make this happen everything will have to fall into place including the on time delivery and installation of carpet, flooring, and other associated items. Lord willing we may have to do without some conveniences temporarily but we will be back in our home, back in our bed, and back to a sense of normalcy. There is some truth to that old adage that you don’t miss the water until the well runs dry and we have certainly missed our routine and it being operated from our home base.

I have been very little involved in many of the minute details about a variety of the decisions on fabrics, colors, and many other important issues. However, this doesn’t mean that I haven’t been kept in the loop. The other day I accompanied my wife to the building supply store and blessed her selections. She has insisted that I pay more attention since I will have to live with her choices but I have insisted on resisting since getting back home is my main objective and how it all looks is not that much of a huge concern for me. I do know this. It will be much better than it was! The house is nearly 40 years old and will have undergone a face lift that would make Joan Rivers proud. While I have not paid attention to many details, nonetheless, I will be most happy to no longer be noticing how other people’s walls and trim, carpet, floors, and accessories were done. I also am so much looking forward to getting back into MY OFFICE even if it’s working off of tables until we replace furniture, it will be in the place where I’ve produced literally thousands of pages of materials surrounded by the artwork of my grandchildren spanning at least 20 years.

It’s only a plan and I would be remiss if I didn’t always pause to give God thanks for how He has provided for us during this time of transition and change. We continue to live in a beautiful furnished home loaned to us by a dear lady named Pattie. How all that came about is one of those things we believers call a GOD-THING, and we feel so blessed to have been the recipients of this act of gracious kindness. We have a fellow here at our company that actually just this week finally got his insurance company to his home to review damage from Hurricane Ike. Have I been frustrated and overwrought at times? A hundred times over. But compared to so many we at least see progress towards a completion as a soon coming attraction. So many have stood with us throughout this ordeal and we would have to build a catalog to recognize them all. We can, however, commend them all to God and our thanks to Him on their behalf for all they have done to help out as we have made our way through this difficult time. It’s only a plan but with God’s help we hope to see it realized the week of Christmas. I told one lady at our Church about this being our plan and she said, “Well, okay then, we will just begin praying that God will make this plan a reality for you folks.” Feel free to join the prayer bus and ride along with us as we seek to honor Him in all that He has done, is doing, and will do as we go forward. Have a wonderful Saturday and Sunday. Thanks and Amen. ….More later.