Thursday, July 31, 2008

Funny Words!

It’s Thursday, July 31, 2008 and as Yogi Berra said, “I give 100% in the first half of the game and if that’s not enough I give whatever is left in the second half.” Different people have different ideas about which words are funny in and of themselves. The words chicken, pickle, and Alka-Seltzer are thought to be funny by one well-known author. Some think ‘k’ words are funny, like Kalamazoo, Hoboken, Yonkers, and Brooklyn. Other location words that might bring a smile include Walla Walla, Cucamonga, and Seattle.

I suppose it comes down to personal taste and it’s likely there are some words that are funny to you. W.C. Fields liked to get laughs by using the words kumquats, succotash, and guacamole. He claimed these sounds made them too funny to eat. Others might think chainsaw, weasel, or prune to be funny. Often, I think it depends on your own particular connection to a word or sound that makes it funny. One thing is for sure. There’s plenty of material out there if we are interested in finding a smile now and then.

Add to funny words the wide use of malapropisms where folks use the wrong word in a sentence that just flat out makes it funny. I worked for a fellow once who was a master at doing this. He said once, “We are so crowded in our floor space we are bouncing at the seams.” Another time he told me, “You are in trouble now, in fact, you are standing on thin shoes.” I carpooled with a lady once who gave me this little jewel, “My brother told us last night that he feels called into the ministry and is even thinking about attending cemetery.”

There are some noted winners from public faces that are quite funny as well. Mike Tyson had this to say, “I might just fade into Bolivian, you know what I mean?” Tonya Harding came up with this one, “I’m not going to make a skeptical out of my boxing career.” Probably the most memorable mangler in recent times was the fictional character Archie Bunker on the TV sitcom, “All In The Family”. He had some great near misses that were hilarious. Here are a few of my favorites from Archie: “Like ships that clash in the night.” “I got bigger fish to fly.” “Up there in his ivory shower.” “When the whole neighborhood turns into a smelting pot.” “Grab the bull by the corns.” And, the beat goes on and on and on. I know I’ve had my fair share of word mishaps and I can get numerous witnesses to testify to that fact. Just ask my Bible study class because there have been times when the thoughts were there but the words, they just wouldn’t fall into place. The main point is to first, last, and always, learn to laugh at yourself and then look around because there’s smiles everywhere, if you just take time to see or hear them. Have a great day! ……More later.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Get Your Running Shoes On!

It’s time for your first cup of Wednesday’s coffee, here on July 30, 2008. Continuing the theme of our busy lives, last Sunday was appropriate in honor of the Olympics that will soon be starting. I was up at the crack of dawn, actually quite a bit before, to put the final touches on my lesson for our Bible study class. As soon as I taught the class we jumped in our car and made a 30-minute drive over to our eldest son’s Church where he was filling in for his pastor that day. Everyone is nervous whenever they stand up to speak in front of people but typically it can be worse when family and friends show up. He had a good-sized entourage of both but did a wonderful job and handled the passage he chose very well.

After the service we headed to his house where we enjoyed food, family, and fellowship, as we were there to celebrate his wife’s birthday. We had a wonderful visit with them and by mid afternoon it was time for us to hurry away. On our way home we went by and visited a long time friend in a rehab center. We’ve known this gentleman and his wife through Church for over thirty years. He has multiple physical ailments and is currently recovering from surgery. We had a great time of laughing about old times as well as keeping up with the NASCAR race. When they found out I was a Jeff Gordon fan they nearly had a fit. They obviously follow and support other drivers. After having prayer with them we ran by the house, freshened up, and then headed out for the evening services at our Church.

This was a very special musical night where a praise band that started out in our Church gave a concert to launch their first CD. They had gone all out with decorations and hoopla and it was a really neat experience to be there. These are some wonderful musicians who sing and play for the Lord and what a privilege to be a part of their special night. The program ran until 7:30 p.m. and we hurried home because our soon to be three year old grandson Alex is staying with us while his mom, brother and twin sisters are away at pre-teen Church camp. Our Alex is a genuine character, (like all our grandchildren, remember to ask me about them, okay?), and what a joy to have him in our home this week. At any rate, we had a full but gratifying day and when it came time for lights out we didn’t resist the pillow. What a day it was, all filled up with blessings and we do know Who it is that deserves any and all praise - - - Our Great God! Enjoy the rest of the week and may God bless you all. Amen. …..More later.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Just When You Begin To Think.........

Please find enclosed Tuesday’s thoughts for July 29, 2008. Last Friday I put forth a blog about me running on empty at times trying to keep up with my schedule. On Monday I worked my way through a short treatise on complaining versus being contented. Just when you think you may have something going as an explanation or an excuse for slowing down a little, suddenly, I find an article about Anna Ray Borho of Leander, Texas who is the pianist of the Presbyterian Church there. She recently turned 100 years old and has been playing there in that Church for 85 years. She must have not seen that memo on mandatory retirement! Her Church recently honored her on her 100th birthday. She’s not just a figurehead either, she practices every day and people actually visit her home just to watch her practice.

Anyone familiar with characters in the Bible knows that many of them accomplished great things even in their older age. Moses lived for 120 years and after all he went through in leading his people, the Bible says that when it came time to die, he was still vibrant and vigorous in his health. Moses had finished his course and it came time for him to fold his tent and move on to higher ground! What about Caleb, a contemporary of Joshua who had a life of faithfulness and courage before the Lord? At 85, Caleb declared his determination to fight the enemy and take hold of his possession on the mountain. He then went out and did that very thing!

Okay, we all know those dudes lived a long time back then. Well, not really, not at least by the time these fellows came along. There are plenty of modern historical figures that have also excelled late into their personal journey here on earth. Michelangelo didn’t begin his work on St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome until he was 70. Gandhi led India in its opposition to British rule when he was 77. Grandma Moses took up painting as a hobby at age 76. Arthur Rubinstein, the great concert pianist, gave one of his greatest performances ever at Carnegie Hall when he was 89. Mother Teresa was continuing to do her missionary work into her late 80’s. The famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright completed New York’s Guggenheim Museum when he was 89. And, the late Dr. Michael DeBakey performed his last heart surgeries at age 92.

These are not very encouraging stories for someone who at times thinks he might just be used up already. On the other hand, they had what they had, and we all have what we have, and the most important thing is to use it all up before we leave this life because we certainly will not take it with us, but for believers, we will be rewarded based on what we did with what we were given. When I talk about retiring I never mean it in the context of sitting down and doing nothing. I actually see it more as a transition from one working status to a new status where I will be able to pursue other things. It is really hard to sing my sad self pity song when surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses as found in these remarkable testimonials. This will give me something to think about, that is, if I remember to remember to do so. To tell you the truth, I could have done without knowing about Anna Ray Borho! ……..More later.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Complaining or Contented!

Time to get up and get going! It is Monday, July 28, 2008. Yesterday a lady in the Bible study class I teach gave a brief testimony about her visit back to her childhood home in Ohio. She had not been back there in many years. The area she visited has been devastated by the loss of most of its manufacturing jobs and now the difficult economy has made a bad situation there even worse. She said it was hard to imagine the difference between that place compared to our area where we are still prospering because of being driven by the oil economy. She said she came back with a renewed sense of thankfulness to God for the fact that our area has not yet suffered the extensive declines she witnessed in her old hometown.

I heard this morning that the newest Batman movie had surpassed $300 million in its first 10 days. Someone is paying to see this film. When I was in the big mall early Saturday morning to do my walking, I saw two groups of people in line waiting for the Apple Store to open so they could get a shot at purchasing the new I-Phone. There were probably at least 50 people waiting and my understanding is these devices are not cheap. On the other end of the mall there was another forty people waiting to get into one of those hair salon places. They obviously had some big promotion but it was early and the people were there! When I came back at 1 p.m. to bring my wife's lunch I had to park at the very end of the parking lot. Just like Christmas time! I wonder how many look around at this, look at all this activity, and then look up to thank God for His provisions.

I recently heard a conservative commentator talking about how difficult it is to separate those who are truly hurting versus those who are inconvenienced by the economic conditions that prevail at this time. We have become accustomed to a standard of living that for many includes a whole lot of accommodations that may be above and beyond that which is needed. Let me make clear there is no doubt in my mind that there are literally millions who are suffering as they try to meet even their basic needs each day. However, there are many more who complain because they have to forgo some luxury item or delay some purchase that others would never even dream about. This is what Senator Phil Gramm was talking about when he called us a nation of whiners. It was directed toward those of us who really have it pretty good but whine all the time about any and all inconveniences that come our way. Of course the national media picked up on his comment and caused such a rucus, he ended up having to resign as one of John McCain's closest advisors.

Each day that we wake up and are able to get up and go, we are blessed. Each day that we are able to feed, clothe, and take care of ourselves and our families, we are blessed. Each day we are able to live in a land of freedom and opportunity, we are blessed. Each day we who are believers, with or without any of the things mentioned above, are blessed beyond that which we might ever hope or dream. We are God's very own children. We are His special treasure. He has bought us with the price of the blood of His own dear Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! Therefore, we should echo the Apostle Paul's sentiment expressed in his letter to the Church of the Philippians, and I paraphrase, "As a believer, regardless of any and all things that come my way, the good, the bad, the ugly, the happy, the sad, the painful, overflowing, or empty, up in the clouds, or down in the dumps, I can be content in all things because of the strength to do so that comes from the abiding presence of the living Lord in my life, Jesus Christ! Amen. ......More later.

Friday, July 25, 2008

I Hear A Voice Saying: "Slow Down A Little!"

July 25, 2008, is it Friday already? This has been one of those weeks where my work cup runneth over. I’m beginning to think I’m getting too old for this daily grind of heads down twelve hour days dealing with scheduling, coordination, deadlines, projects, problems, and pressures. At the same time I am so very thankful to God that on some days I’m actually able to look in my rear view mirror and see that quite a lot of progress has been made. Let me be clear. I am not required to be here twelve hours each day but that’s how I have chosen to do what I do. It may be that I will, by necessity, eventually have to adjust this self-imposed schedule. We’ll have to see about that as we move on down the road. (I pretty much keep the same routine on my days off, so, there you have it!)

I have always resisted the term workaholic because I do not believe it comes anywhere close to describing my approach to work. Intense? Yes. Committed? Yes. Stubbornly determined? Possibly. However, using a twist on a Biblical metaphor, perhaps my thinking is stronger than my physical can deliver, (spirit is willing but the flesh is weak). Or maybe as my grandfather used to tell us kids, perhaps I’ve reached that time when my eyes are bigger than my stomach. In other words, maybe I can no longer consume or digest as much as I once could, but at this point and time, I choose to continue to persist in trying.

I am very fortunate to work at a place where there is much laughter to go along with the tension and tough stuff that’s a part of every work environment. I love the camaraderie here, the banter, and the joking. I also have been privileged to work for a man who exemplifies in word and deed a Godly approach to conducting his business. He’s not perfect but he doesn’t have any perfect employees either, including me! (Sorry to disappoint you.) But what a joy it is to have this common connection that transcends the employer, employee relationship because we are brothers in Christ. This is enough to get anyone up and going each day! Yes, I am blessed far beyond what I deserve and I thank God each day for His grace, mercy, and care. Now it’s time for Saturday and Sunday where I will be doing my best to spend time with my personal family and my Church family. Try to do the same because it is good for the body, soul, and spirit! See you next Monday and may God bless! Amen. …..More later.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Could These Be Signs of the Dawning of that DAY!

Thursday, July 24, 2008. Our lawn is in pretty bad shape, therefore, we were hoping that the outer edge of Hurricane Dolly would bring us some much-needed relief. It hasn’t thus far, but just like nearly everything in life, the rain here could bring a breath of life but as we are seeing, it has brought devastation in other places. I do not know why but over the past few years I have been moved in my spirit to think more and more about the part of creation we call weather. We have experienced some mighty and powerful weather events over the past few years. Just think about the hundreds of thousands of people impacted by tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, cyclones, rain storms, flooding, tsunamis, snow and ice storms, lightning strikes, volcanic eruptions, and other weather related events. Thousands of lives lost, billions if not trillions of dollars down the drain, and countless homes, crops, and livestock have been destroyed. It’s as if all creation is groaning!

And that is exactly it! That is what I have been thinking about as all these things are happening all around us. When Adam listened to his wife Eve and disobeyed the command of God, his act of rebellion brought sin to our world and with that sin creation underwent radical change. The Apostle Paul made it clear in his letter to the Church at Rome (Romans 8) that creation did not volunteer for or desire to see what happened to it as a result of Adam’s fall. Here’s a modern translation of what Paul wrote from Romans Chapter 8: 18) Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. 19) For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. 20) Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, 21) the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. 22) For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23) And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. 24) We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. 25) But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.) New Living Translation

How does this passage connect into the weather events we are experiencing today? Of primary importance is to notice exactly what the text says. It speaks of a woman giving birth as an example of this creation groaning process. This clearly depicts increased groans until the birth is accomplished. Then, if you read everything in the Bible that speaks of the closing days of the last days that began when Jesus ascended back into heaven, it is indicated there will be an increase in the number and an implied increase in the intensity of creation related events. Jesus Himself said there would be an increase in earthquakes before He returns. The New Testament book of The Revelation of Jesus Christ as witnessed by the Apostle John details many atmospheric types of calamities that will occur as God brings down the final curtain on this phase of His plan and purpose.

Okay, I may not know the original Greek or Hebrew language and I’m at best only a student of God’s Word but to me it seems clear the birth pain groaning is getting louder and louder as The Day approaches. What should be our response? Of course we need to be prudent in taking care of our families while at the same time we need to always be looking up for one day soon we shall meet Him in the air! Don’t look down. Don’t be depressed. Look up for your redemption draws near! Hallelujah! What a promise and what a great God we serve! The old song makes the point: Are you ready? Are you ready? Are you ready for that day to come? Amen. …….More later.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Where Can You Find Direction?

Welcome to Wednesday, July 23, 2008. After the assassination attempt on President Reagan in 1981, his wife Nancy became paranoid about the thought of losing him. She more or less assumed the role of his unofficial “protector”. Nancy stated in her memoirs “I felt panicky every time Ronald left the White House." She made it her concern to know her husband's schedule: the events he would be attending, and with whom. Eventually, this protectiveness led to her consulting an astrologer who offered insight on which days were "good", "neutral", or “should be avoided”, which then actually influenced her husband's schedule. Days were color-coded according to the astrologer's advice to discern precisely which days and times would be optimal for the president's safety and success. This situation so frustrated Chief of Staff Donald Regan, he finally was forced to resign after having conflicts with Nancy over the President’s schedule. Once Regan mentioned this situation in his memoirs, it resulted in embarrassment for the First Lady. Mrs. Reagan would later write, "Astrology was simply one of the ways I coped with the fear I felt after my husband almost died... Was astrology one of the reasons further attempts did not occur? I don't really believe it was, but I don't really believe it wasn't."

While we might sympathize with Mrs. Reagan in her concern for the safety of her husband, it is very sad to think she would resort to this type of direction in her desire to protect him. We are told the number of people who look to divination like this is at least in the millions as they read and study their horoscope or consult various mystical sources in an attempt to plot out the best course for their lives. There is no telling how much money is spent by those who are hooked on this approach to charting the future. Okay, I will probably make some folks angry but my opinion is that this stuff is at best nonsense and at worst, dangerous tinkering with witchcraft and the occult. I have known some folks that put a lot of stock in what their readings were at a particular time. Some said it was just a joke but nothing is a joke that causes you to alter your activities as a result of what it has revealed to you.
For those of us who are believers, there are no concessions that can be made in our seeking help for each day other than depending upon the One and Only God. In fact, the Scriptures are full of instances where people have pursued direction from all kinds of things reflecting the forces of evil. In every case they put themselves in direct opposition to the truth and often suffered the judgment and chastisement of God. I have known very solid believers who carried with them superstitions handed down to them. One fellow I worked with said his dad, a long term deacon in a conservative Church, was so frightened by black cats that he would drive out of his way to avoid any neighborhood where he knew some lived.

It may seem harmless and we know the First Lady did what she thought was best for her husband. But that does not make it right! Yet, we have a much greater source for direction and He has provided us with this promise: “In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:6) In a world where stuff is coming at us from all directions and there’s much temptation to seek help in all the wrong places, I need to be reminded and perhaps you do as well that we should look for love in the right place, every time, that being our heavenly Father who will always be there to provide that which we stand in need of. Good advice for everyone beginning with me! Have a good one and may God bless! Amen. ……More later.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Let The Jokes Begin!

Welcome to Tuesday, July 22, 2008. One last blog on the new look. Since we were out of town Sunday, my fellow family members at our local Church have not seen me yet, therefore, I will have no doubt more of the same as we move forward. But I knew I was going to be in for it here at the workplace. The first five people who saw my new ‘bald’ look had some pretty dramatic responses. The first was from the owner of our company who said he both liked it and thought it made me look younger. I do appreciate this man! The next four greetings were gasps of surprise, two ‘wows!’, one ‘whoa!’, and one ‘oh my goodness!’ At least they noticed. I’ve always had ears that stick out. That’s set at birth. As one grows older ears grow slowly, but they do grow. There’s a lot out on the web discussing whether ears on older people look bigger or perhaps they become bigger because of growth coupled to changes in the head shape.

I said something about my ears to my youngest son who had seen the first photos and he said that they are no doubt easier to recognize now than they were before. I can live with that assessment because that’s a nice way of saying, “Hey, man, your ears sure do stick out!” There is a surgery they do to improve this situation and one researcher found that in Europe, the Irish have this type of surgery more than any others. They theorize that the English historically have looked down on the Irish as being of low class with one of the prominent features being a trait of having ears that stick out. They believe the Irish have turned more frequently to this type of surgery in order to have an appearance that would make them more acceptable within society as a whole. Don’t laugh. We all want to be accepted!

Of course there are plenty of bald jokes all around. There is one that says it’s not a bald head, it is really a solar panel for a macho man. Another says it is a ski slope for flies. Some of the advantages are the fact that you no longer are susceptible to dandruff, head lice, and would not be a target for a bat to become entangled in your hair. One survey I read said that over 3,000 women rated their marriages as being better and one of the correlating factors seemed to connect bald husbands to this statistic. There are those mystical beliefs that indicate the bald head as a sign of intelligence and wisdom. Also some Orientals hold that big ears are a sign of wisdom and long life. My wife commented that if this is true I should be very intelligent and live a very long time! Now you tell me, is that a compliment or a put down?

I did see my mom on Sunday and she liked the new me much better in person. I had made the photos I sent out by holding the camera in front of my face and the flash washed it out quite a bit. When I first talked to her after she saw the photograph, she, being honest, and my mom, said this: “Son, I do hope you don’t think that it makes you look better.” I can easily handle this critique because it’s from my 84-year-old mom. I talked to her last night and she had one final comment from our day together, “You also need to do something about that slump, hold your shoulders up and back!” Moms never quit being moms and I am so thankful for mine! Have a great rest of the week and may God bless! Amen. …….More later.