Friday, January 30, 2009

We never know what a day might bring forth.

It is Friday, January 30, 2009. Yesterday we received news that my mom is down with pneumonia. She is 84 years young and has had difficulties with this particular ailment over the years. We are praying that God will help her. We also had a very unexpected development in the recovery of our dear Brother Milton. Yesterday morning he was experiencing some continued pain to the extent they moved him from the rehab center to the emergency room. While there some blood clots broke loose and lodged in his lungs. He is now in the same ICU room he was in when first admitted to the hospital and is considered to be extremely critical because they have discovered that he has multiple blood clots in different parts of his body. His eyesight has also been impacted and they are not sure exactly why this has happened. He was doing so well. He was talking about finishing his rehab and coming to our house for a few days and then being able to make his way back home. We are quite naturally distressed over this unexpected development. His immediate family are both stunned and distraught, however, we all are looking to God for my mom and for our Brother Milton.

We are not immune from having difficulties, pain, or sorrow. It can come to any of us at any time. One thing I told Brother Milton's dear wife is that she could count on the fact that the same God who was at work before this new development is the same God who is at work in this situation. When we come to the end of our way and we hit the wall of human capability and human understanding, we find that God is our only answer, our only hope, and our only help. We can't make sense out of all of this and how it has come to where we find ourselves but we have confidence that whatever the outcome, God is still God, and He is at work in accomplishing His purpose in all these things. I am very concerned for my mom but I am also very thankful to God for her and the years He has given to us all through her and her testimony. I am concerned for Brother Milton's health and recovery but at the same time I thank God for his life of ministry and service on behalf of the Lord he loves. In spite of these challenges we remain blessed beyond measure because our God has been with us, is now with us, and will never leave or forsake us as we continue our journey here. Easy? Never. But like Job of old we make the choice to worship and praise Him for His goodness, mercy, and grace that He gives in our time of need. Please pray for these requests that God's perfect will would be done! Amen. ....more later.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

At one time it would have never fazed me!

Good morning and welcome to Thursday, January 29, 2009. The last two days presented me with the unexpected opportunity to drive into and completely across the downtown corridor of the huge nearby metroplex during peak rush hour traffic. I had commuted into this monstrosity for nearly 24 years but left that world behind me back in the Spring of 1993. Okay, I was 47 years old when that major change took place and the population then was around 3.5 million. I am now 62 and the population has grown to 5.6 million. Therefore, we have lots of factors at work in me traversing across the metro area to the destination I had to reach and return from, two days in a row. One thing is very clear: The old gray man (mare) is not what he/she used to be!

Here’s one thing I can speak to without any reservation: For the most part, the road system, once you reach the downtown area, has changed very little in these 15 plus years. BUT: While I am not a statistician or the son of a statistician, you can only guess how many more automobiles have been added to the mix over this same period of time. I’m not saying there are not additional fringe roadways, toll roads, and other suburban access expansions, but once you get inside the loop as we call it, you have a most wonderful expression of that dreaded description: GRIDLOCK. What a mess! What a challenge! The entire trip there and back seemed to be one long series of near misses. You would have to be there to see what I am talking about but suffice it to say the ingredients for mayhem and road rage are in plentiful supply.

Okay. Having said all that, let me now go ahead and admit that adding 15 years to my age makes the entire experience much more daunting. You will recall that back in October I was rear-ended by an out of control truck while trying to make a delivery for our company. Last month I was side swiped by a young lady who felt compelled to take my position on a freeway feeder lane. She was very apologetic that day but later recanted and changed her entire story, so what was once a clear case of liability on her part is now a stalemate between our insurance companies. My guess is that her husband helped her reestablish the facts as they must have happened. At any rate, I carry these most recent unhappy experiences into my driving excursions while folks dart in, dart out, pull over in front, crowd me, and do just about whatever they feel like doing for the 90 minutes one way (a little over 40 miles) required to reach my destination. That 90 minutes both days included at least 30 minutes of bumper to bumper as a result of congestion brought on by fender benders. Maybe my two recent accidents neither of which were my fault that I had no control over weigh too heavily on my mind. Perhaps my nerve and my motor skills are not what they used to be. Whatever, I can sure tell you that I am so very thankful that I don’t have to do this everyday like I once did, (my boys are out there in it every single day) and will be perfectly happy if I don’t have to do it again, anytime soon. Talk about exhausting! Oh well, we do what we are called on to do! I know the Bible has a description for those who refuse to hear what God has to say: Stiff necked. After these two motor car trips I have the stiffness in my neck, hopefully, from the stress of the ride from and to, not based on the Bible definition! It's supposed to be a joke. Maybe it's lame but what would you expect from a stiff necked, stressed out driver? May God bless. Amen. …..More later.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Happiness in a 3-year-old package, with no expiration date!

What a difference one night can make. It’s Wednesday, January 28, 2009 and I am still thinking about the sleep over we had Monday night with our little Alexander Benjamin. He’s the first of our grandchildren to come and stay since we moved back into our home and all I can say is that having your grandchildren with you is good for whatever ails you. Since it had been many months since he stayed with us, he had to adjust a little to being there all night, but once he did, we had a ball. I bathed him and let him play in the tub for 30 minutes. I then loaded up a kid’s game on the computer featuring Diego the animal rescue character from the Dora the Explorer cartoon series. He and his MiMi played that interactive game until bedtime and then he was off to sleepy time between his MiMi and his Poppy. I’ve never read any of those Chicken Soup for the Soul books or the dozens of spin-offs but I can tell you that we have our own Chicken Soup to make everything better, our grand kids, and on this particular occasion it was our little Alex!

Isn’t it funny how we can’t slow down long enough to catch our breath but when our little ones are around we can suspend most activities, large and small, with no concern for their outcome, just to spend quality time with them? I’m sure my boys wonder where that guy was when they were growing up. He was busy (like they are) and he thought he was making a living but there’s little doubt he could have done more to make a life especially for those that matter most. Some eight year olds were asked the question: What is a grandparent?

Here are some of their responses: Grandparents are a lady and a man who have no little children of their own. They like other people's. ….A grandfather is a man grandmother. ….Grandparents don't have to do anything except be there when we come to see them. ....Grandparents are so old they shouldn't play hard or run. ….It is good if they drive us to the store and have lots of quarters with them. ….When they take us for walks, they slow down past things like pretty leaves and caterpillars. ….They show us and talk to us about the color of the flowers and also why we shouldn't step on cracks. ….They don't say, "Hurry up." …Usually grandmothers are fat, but not too fat to tie your shoes. ….They wear glasses and funny underwear. ….They can take their teeth and gums out. ….Grandparents don't have to be smart. ….When they read to us, they don't skip. They don't mind if we ask for the same story over again. ….Everybody should try to have a grandmother, especially if you don't have television, because they are the only grown ups who like to spend time with us. ….They know we should have snack-time before bedtime and they say prayers with us every time, and kiss us even when we've acted bad.

And finally, when a bright eyed six year old was asked where his grandma lived, he came up with this jewel: ''OH,'' HE SAID, ''SHE LIVES AT THE AIRPORT, AND WHEN WE WANT HER WE JUST GO GET HER. THEN WHEN WE'RE DONE HAVING HER VISIT, WE TAKE HER BACK TO THE AIRPORT.'' Okay, some of our younger readers will not grasp the reality or the reliability of these comments, but hang on, because your day is coming. The good news is that while these thoughts may be a little direct, they generally wouldn’t embarrass any of us who proudly wear our badges when we show up at the school cafeteria on Grandparent’s Day. What a privilege and what a joy! Amen? I can hear it coming back to me, loud and clear: AMEN! Have a great day and may God bless us all! …….More later.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Is that it? Is that the best you could do?

Have you heard about the proverbial slow news day where the news people tend to scratch around for something to present? Well, that’s the way I feel on this Tuesday, January 27, 2009. It’s one of those blah-blog days where the old noggin seems to be processing cold maple syrup this morning. The other day I wrote one on how the aging process takes its toll and thus far this morning I’m beginning to wonder if there is any ‘there’ there for the day. It wasn’t always this way. Back in the early 1970’s I was a chess-playing machine. We began playing at work and it appealed to me for some reason, therefore, I did my typical headfirst plunge into learning as much about it as I could. We had one fellow who was really good that worked for our company. He used to beat me regularly and it always irritated me because just before he would make his final move and announce ‘checkmate’ he would begin this low growl of a laugh that made me livid. I read books. I studied hard. I learned a variety of openings, maneuvers, defenses, and strategic approaches and I can still (vaguely) remember the day I finally beat our resident Chess Master and oh how sweet it was!

I’ve said all that to say that I most likely couldn’t even remember how the pieces move were I to try to play again. Maybe some of it would come back to me but I rather doubt it. How serious did I take it back in those days? Hey, I would go in and play against other guys who were just as obsessed as I was, at 4 a.m. in the morning before our regular shift started. How could something that was so important at that particular time no longer even make a shadow on my life radar screen today? We grow, we change, and hopefully we make progress. There’s certainly nothing wrong with chess and it was a challenging game and I spent several years working to be better at it, but somewhere along the way I put it aside just like I put away those hideous leisure suits and moved on down the road. (Just so you know, I didn’t think those leisure suits were hideous at the time, in fact, I owned several of them and had the silk floral shirts that matched!)

I do know that somewhere along the way I did begin a conscious effort to not be controlled by things like a hobby, sports, a television show, or other types of pursuits that were fun but should not have dominated my life. Back in the day when we couldn’t record a television program we often would fret if we missed a specific important episode that had been hyped and we really did want to see it. Typically, being all wrung out over missing something like that should not have upset us, but typically it did, and I’m sure these types of things still upset many today. You do, however, reach a stage in life where you begin to see how that many things you thought were important really didn’t amount to a hill of beans. (I bet you remember that scene from the movie Casablanca where Humphrey Bogart spoke these lines to Ingrid Bergman: “Ilsa, I’m no good at being noble, but it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.”) All that's left from my chess days is that one memory (vague as it is) of the day I beat George Farmer and how I was almost let down when I found him to be just as good a loser as he was a winner. Wait a minute, yeah, there's more. You see George was a genuine believer and he and I went on to be close and perhaps he was beating us all so that we would become better and when we did, he celebrated right along with us! George was the kind of guy who would have done just that. Thanks George, thanks for you being you, and for the memory. Tomorrow, Lord willing, I will try to have something from some of those lazy gray cells who decided to sleep in today. Until next time, may God bless one and all. Amen. …More later.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Headlines may be bad but He's still on our side!

Good to see you again on this very early Monday morning, January 26, 2009. Another step forward for ourselves and our neighbors. The temporary storage unit that has sat in our driveway for three months was removed on Saturday! Our behind us neighbor said he would be so glad when that thing was gone because he had to walk out onto the main street just to keep up with what was going on. He said that unit had blocked his ability to be nosy far too long. We are thankful that after a full day Saturday for the guys ( I was mostly an observer and fetcher of tools and other stuff as they installed lighting and four new ceiling fans.), we are now 99% done on the inside of our house. Some final touch up and caulking is all that remains. I believe the plan is to tackle repainting the outside this week and we will be done! Our Brother Milton will be moving this week to a brand new rehab center that focuses on physical training. He has now been disconnected from all needles, wires, and other monitoring devices. It's almost like a dream. At one time he had so much of that stuff crowded in on both sides you could hardly see him in the middle. His cardiologist greeted him a couple of days ago with these words: "You sir are our miracle!" How true and how thankful we are to God for His provision and power demonstrated in the life of our dear brother.

Thus far the area we live in has been somewhat protected from the economic downturn, at least on a widespread basis. We do have some men in our Church who are struggling because the business they are in is not doing well at all. One of them sells high end, very expensive automobiles and his income has taken an 80% hit over the last year. Others are in service sectors that are beginning to contract some. While we remain busy here at our company we are seeing some early signs of jobs being delayed and even one or two cancelled. The unemployment rate in our area has begun to creep up and within our state it has increased by 1% this year. It's clear that we will not miss out on what most of our country is already experiencing but we are doing our best to do what we can: Pray and trust God; and do our very best every day to serve our Company well by serving our customers. One local professor who specializes in economics said his greatest fear was that we would have a huge influx of people coming in from other parts of the country that have been hardest hit, and he worries about what we will do with them. This has happened before and when the economic downturn did catch up with us we had a real mess on our hands. That's a pretty good way to assess how the best and brightest got us to where we are today: A real mess.

Paw Paw Mac's favorite song said, "Many things about tomorrow I don't seem to understand, But I know who holds tomorrow, And I know who holds my hand." I don't know about you but there's something reassuring about the words to this song. Do I have concerns about where all these economic issues might lead? I most certainly do! Am I wondering about how it might impact my wife and I, our boys, their children, our extended family, and other friends as well as our brothers and sisters in Christ? You betcha! But, when it comes down to it, we can only do what we can do and that is to do our best to be a part of the solution and not the problem. The rest is in God's capable hands and for those of us who have accepted His free gift of salvation through His Son's atoning work on the Cross, well, we can know for sure that it is He who is holding our hand as we make our way forward. Amen. Have a blessed week! .....More later.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Please don't breathe on me!

Here I am tip toeing around and trying to avoid contact with those who are obviously carrying the flu virus as they struggle to work each day, on this Friday, January 23, 2009. We seem to be having a mini-epidemic among some of our guys here at the plant. Since I am the official early bird person I get the phone calls from those too sick to come in to work. Fever, chills, aches, and feeling like death warmed over are some of the words used to describe their symptoms. I believe doctors say that weather changes are not a key part of bringing on illness but yesterday morning it was 39 F and yesterday afternoon it was trying to grab hold of 80 F. These swings may not be the cause but it’s hard to believe they have zero influence. It’s like doctors telling moms that teething has nothing to do with a child being sick. The doctor is not with the child 24 by 7, and most moms totally reject this so-called scientific assessment.

We’ve had our little Alex down with a solid case of flu this past week. He has run as high as 104 degrees of temperature and his Poppy has been very concerned about him. He's much better now and we continue to pray for him and for his family that this bug doesn’t get passed on to the rest of them. When I go out into the shop, at times there seems to be a cacophony of wheezing, coughing, and choking. While it’s not exactly a very inviting welcome you have to respect our guys who continue to give their best even as they struggle with the challenges associated with the onset of cold and flu season. On Tuesday evenings when I go to our inner city Bible club there’s typically a half dozen or more of the kids who are spreading cold and sniffle germs like wildfire. Here at work I keep my distance as much as I can but with the kids, well, you just have to get in there and love on them and pray that God will protect you.

We have a hugely busy Saturday and Sunday planned. We expect out of town family who will be in to visit Brother Milton. We have much to do around the house to put the final touches on our rebuilding project. As the old saying goes: We have things to do and people to see. I will soon be starting a new series in our Sunday morning Bible study and we will be looking at the facts of our faith as taught from Genesis. This means I have been spending as much time as possible in getting ready to get ready. Our typical approach is to work our way through each text on a verse by verse basis, therefore, after a few weeks of introduction, we will begin a journey into the facts concerning God and His revealed truths regarding how all of this got started. I am looking forward, with God’s help and leadership, to this challenge which could easily cover the next eighteen months to two years. (Genesis has 50 chapters.) But, I do hope and pray that you and yours will have a great end of the week on Saturday, and that you will choose to attend a service devoted to worshipping God and hearing from Him at a local fellowship where believers meet on Sunday, the first day of the week, where we honor our Savior and His resurrection! Amen. …..More later.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I'm off and running and feeling a-okay!

It’s Thursday and I am thankful to be up, going, and pretty much feeling a-okay on this cool, crisp January 22, 2009. That term a-okay has as its meaning to have everything in working order and ready for action. One illustration would be to hear your doctor say that after having done a complete physical examination that everything is fine, it’s ‘a-okay’. I may have over extended myself a little by throwing out such a strong term to start off the day but let me just say how thankful I am for being as well as I am. This has been one of my best weeks since ole Ike slammed into our home as far as managing my blood sugar. I’ve had near normal numbers all week long! Now that is a praise the Lord because with all that has been happening along with the stress and strain, this entire area has been somewhat illusive BUT God is good and I thank Him that as I prepare for my upcoming six month checkup it’s actually looking pretty much …..a-okay!

Our Brother Milton continues his remarkable recovery and they are now actually making plans on the next phase of rehabilitation, whether he is ready to relocate back to his home in Florida, or move to a specialty center here. What a tremendous discussion to be having! He was ecstatic last night and he said the entire day with all these developments had been nothing short of shocking. That’s right! God, at times, shocks us with His response to our needs. While visiting Brother Milton I passed by a room and saw a lady we know who attends our Church. She and her husband are from North Dakota, have family in our area, and have been wintering here for maybe ten years or more. This elderly couple have a testimony of faithfulness, they have a sweet and humble spirit, and their love for each other is there for all to see. They always worship with us when they are here in our area. She has very serious emphysema and last week suffered congestive heart failure. I went into the room and greeted her and her husband. I had prayer with them. When I finished my prayer I looked up and saw a tear rolling down the husband’s cheek. May God be with them as they face this latest health crisis.

People matter. They matter to God and they should matter to you and I. It’s not because of what we bring to the table but as the Scriptures tell us, it’s because of His great love whereby He chose to love us. You and I who have been recipients of His great love are to be conduits of this same love extended to others wherever and whenever we find them. Who knows? You may pass by someone’s room today that needs a special touch from the Lord and He may have arranged for you to be the one that brings it to them! Now I ask you, do we serve a great God, or what? I read a book a few years ago that said our greatest enemy is to settle for a life characterized as ‘average’. We serve an extraordinary God who works in us so that we can live an extraordinary life; therefore, we need to tune in to all that He wants to do through us, as His chosen instruments of love and kindness. When you do this, you might just be in for a very ‘above average’day! This might even cause you to say that everything is a-okay! Amen. ….More later.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The torch has been passed!

Today is Wednesday, January 21, 2009 and we have only the remainder of this day and ten more to finish out the month. You no doubt learned the rhyme in grade school that helped you remember the number of days in each month. That rhyme has been traced back to the 1500’s with this as a literal interpretation of the oldest copy: “Thirty days has November, April, June, and September: Of twenty eight is but one, And all the rest are thirty one. Of course Leap year comes and stays, Every four years got it right, And twenty eight is twenty nine.” This differs somewhat from how I learned it but I can recall how it did come in handy when it came time to be tested on all things related to the calendar. At any rate, it helps us to appreciate the days that have been given to us and to seriously consider how quickly they tend to slip away from us.

I thought President Obama’s inauguration speech was very good. His speechwriters seemed to strike the right tone by integrating specific examples of the past greatness of America in meeting challenges and associating them with the many that we face today. I thought Pastor Rick Warren’s prayer of invocation was good. I loved Aretha Franklin’s stylistic presentation of that standard we first learned as youngsters, “My Country tis of thee.” I also loved the classical piece performed by those renowned artists. We also witnessed one of the smartest jurists ever to sit on the Supreme Court, Chief Justice John Roberts flub the 35 word oath of office and mix up the President being sworn in before a worldwide audience in the tens of millions. I was also very moved by the benediction prayer voiced by Dr. Lowery who stirred the hearts of all present on that cold and blustery day. I also salute our former president George W. Bush and I pray that he and his family will enjoy a well-deserved time of rest, reflection, and relaxation. (I enjoyed it all but never forget that we as Amercians have the right to disagree with those who would lead our country away from the bedrock principles we hold dear.)

I understand, according to polls, that an overwhelming majority of Americans are optimistic about the new president’s potential for being able to fix many of the problems that plague us at this time. A record 84% have a positive view of his work thus far during the transition of power. This leaves only 16% who view it differently. I guess I am in the 16% because I really wouldn’t know how to respond to a poll with this type of question. It’s not that I have a negative response per se, but rather, I have a “wait and see” attitude about this new administration and all that lies ahead. In the end, I can be and am optimistic about the truth that God was God before yesterday’s great festivities and He remains God today. I am also sure that we can hold on to the absolute truth that He will be God forever and ever, Amen. I vote my 100% in favor of this truth as we all seek to find our way forward. Have a great day, a great month, and may we find this year’s calendar stuffed full of opportunities for us to serve God by serving others! ….More later.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Only in America! Historic!

Welcome to Inauguration Tuesday, January 20, 2009. Today we will witness history as Barak Obama is sworn in as the 44th President of these United States of America. The old commercial lingo comes to mind. It was the one put out by Virginia Slims Cigarettes, “We’ve come a long way, baby!” We have come a long way in our checkered history to witness an African American becoming leader of our country and in taking the reins of what many call the most powerful job in the world. Is this a great country, or what? While there’s very little of Mr. Obama’s platform that I agree with or support, I join the millions of Americans who wish him God’s speed and blessing as our elected leader. He has much on his plate, perhaps more than any other in recent history. The expectations are high. His many special interest supporters are already lined up for repayment. The economy is no longer in crisis, it is now barely breathing on life support. The world is in chaos. He takes office at a time when America is divided and fractured. Mr. President, “Welcome to your first day of your brand new job!”

You have probably seen the transition photos of a variety of presidents marking how they looked when they took their first oath of office versus how they looked when they said farewell. It does take its toll on those who occupy that treasured oval office and do their best to protect America from the many threats that operate on a 24-hour basis. President Obama comes in at a time when he is thought to be a white knight coming to save the day. President Bush has helped fuel these sky-high expectations by being so unpopular. The elite have their man. He is cut from the cloth of liberalism’s finest suit. However, while they party in the shadow of Lincoln’s statue, there remains the deeds to be done before anyone can build one to sit beside one of our greatest presidents. They have it already measured but history will determine whether it is deserved or not.

I read some of the parting shots written by the most ardent of the Bush hater’s society. They have never been able to get past their rage to even find a hint of decency in the man himself. Blinded by their personal hatred they have fueled this ‘Messiah’ complex that surrounds our new president. In trashing Bush the man they have used the heaps of hate to build up their new man. He comes in on a wave of expectations higher than a tsunami, which he continues to try and lower each time he speaks. His opinion of President Bush has already shown a change. He recently said he believed President Bush was a good man who had been wrong in many of his decisions. That’s a far cry from the bumbling buffoon caricature portrayed by him and those platinum card-carrying mainstream media elites during the election. They have had their way. We now will seek God and His help as this man does his best to chart a new direction for our nation. May God bless him, his family, and may God bless America! Amen. …..More later.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Slip sliding away, slip sliding away, you know the nearer your destination, the more you're slip sliding away!

It’s Monday, January 19, 2009. With all due respect to Simon and Garfunkle, today I find myself thinking about how much I tend to slip and slide (literally and figuratively) around these days. I fear that I’m beginning to redefine my age bracket. Before, I always thought about other folks as getting older. Not too long ago I expressed a scolding surprise when my wife got herself turned around by missing the turn off in the subdivision where we were living temporarily. Within three days I had done something very similar and I felt like God was letting me know that dishing out surprised comments may not be so much fun when it comes back to haunt you. Come to think about it, I never shared this little story with her so you can be sure I will have one big “Oh really?” headed my way. Life can be so unfair, especially to folks who begin to move a little slower, think a whole lot slower, and find themselves at times running on a treadmill, wondering why it’s so tough, only to find it was never turned on.

No one reaches their sixties without showing some wear and tear. And, I am well aware that for most of my time here on the planet I have exceeded the Manufacturer’s recommended annual mileage. That’s really the gist of it. I am a high mileage vehicle and now some of the major components are beginning to short out, misfire, or, at times, refuse to start. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? All those posters of white haired seniors enjoying the good life are no doubt experienced by some but for the majority, well, there’s dealing with the aches, pains, and other challenges that tend to muck up most days. I read one comment on a posting board by a 22 year old who thought being old must be really cool because you get to retire, you have nothing to do, and you live out your life peacefully until you die. My response would be for him to hold on to that thought for as long as he can because he will discover the truth soon enough.

The great thing for me is that I do try and have a sense of humor about it all. Since much of the laughing is targeted at myself; I have my own private comedy show running most of the time. I’ve found that many of the aging experiences are not negative at all, they are just different, and often, better. For instance, I am well entertained by spending quality time with one of our grandchildren when I hardly had time to say hello to my own children when they were growing up. I also don’t have to find something to entertain me now; I can always just take a nap. I’ve not gotten to that stage so don’t smile, it was only a joke, okay? That old joke from back in the early seventies does seem to tell the story. It said that when I was young it was wine, women, and song. But now it’s Metracal, same old gal, and sing along with Mitch. (Metracal was one of the first canned diet supplements and sing along with Mitch was a TV program hosted by Mitch Miller where everyone was encouraged to sing along as very old standard song lyrics appeared on the screen.) I can’t remember for sure but I may have liked that program back then and that may be the source of many of my problems today. I need to really think about it, that is, if I remember even what it was I was writing about when I started talking about all this slip sliding around. Have a great rest of the week and may God bless you and yours. Amen. ….More later.

Friday, January 16, 2009

It's TGTN: "There goes the neighborhood!"

Hello again on the last Friday, January 16, 2009, before inauguration day next Tuesday. Excuse me but I can’t help but share one small soapbox commentary. I know I sound like a broken record and I do know how those old records used to skip over and over again when there was a crack, but has anyone else noticed how that President Bush’s inauguration cost less than $50 million and the press went absolutely berserk, but Obama’s will easily be over $150 million and thus far the mainstream press thinks it only appropriate? Bush was screamed at in the newspapers and on broadcast after broadcast for his total lack of propriety, sensitivity, and how his $42 million was an absurd insult to people who were struggling as well as a slap in the face to any sense of restraint or balance. It was deemed to be scandalous, embarrassing, and sheer arrogance! But my, oh, my, what a difference four years make! Over three times the cost but now it’s because of inflation, the huge crowds expected, and other factors unforeseen in crowning the ‘chosen’ one. This is not sour grapes on my part because I’m not sure $42 million was the right number but I can certainly tell you that even where I come from, $150 million would be even more not the right number! That was a freebie you didn’t even ask for and I will not ask you to pay anything for it as well. But, the Bush bash was paid for with donated, private funding but the Obama bash is seeking emergency funding from Congress to help defray these extraordinary costs. Talk about bailouts!

Okay enough of that pugnacious punditry on a Friday when we should be focused on more positive and uplifting subjects. Our dear Brother Milton is doing so much better, especially over the past few days. He has now been moved out of the ICU at the rehab center and into a regular room. He is making much progress as they deal with getting his strength back and working to improve his motor skills. One doctor said that if he continues on this track, he might be able to leave the rehab center within the next two weeks. Can you believe that? What a mighty God we serve and oh how we give Him praise for His help and intervention in this situation. My wife sent me a note about my yesterday’s blog where I talked about becoming more serious in our attempts to fulfill God’s calling in 2009. She said she thought it was very well stated and to the point but it had made her feel guilty. My response? Welcome to the club! Always remember that when I write about stuff that encourages us to get up and do more for our Lord, I am always the first one to hear it, and I am always the first in line in terms of needing it!

Our teacher last Wednesday evening at Bible study presented a character that we know very little about. His name is Enoch and is mentioned only briefly three times in The Scriptures. We know nothing about him in terms of great deeds done for the Lord. His life is not unfolded like that of Noah, Abraham, Moses, or David. He was a man known for his faith and for his walking with God. That’s pretty much it! He was a man of faith, he spoke forth some truths concerning the return of the Lord in the future, and he had a fellowship with his Lord referred to as walking with Him. As a result the Scriptures tell us he was taken by the Lord. Taken. Translated. This means he didn’t taste death but was caught up into heaven to be with the Lord. No great exploits that we know about. Just a man who believed God, did his best to live his life accordingly, and was faithful in the life God had given to him. You can read about it in Genesis 5, Hebrews 11, and the Book of Jude. This account should encourage us to see how God weighs our heart and how we respond to Him with the life He has given, not in whether we do some great or mighty deed. This also means there’s still hope for us all, including me! Amen. Have a great Saturday and Lord’s Day Sunday! ….More later.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

It's about time in 2009!

Good morning to one and all. It's Thursday, January 15, 2009, and we have the day before us. Let's see what we can do to make it a productive day as we seek to honor God and help others. I've been teaching a brief series in my Sunday morning Bible study on the subject of: Seeking to live the life God would have me to live in 2009. The theme has been: It's about time in 2009! We have been working our way through passages that speak about the life God has given to us and the EXPECTATIONS He has from us and the resources He has entrusted to us. If it's one thing most of us are not too fond of it is when people begin to talk about what is expected of us. Unfortunately, this is true even when we deal with God's expectations and His right to expect from us certain responses, actions, duties, and a lifestyle worthy of the calling He has placed on our lives. It's easy for us to drift into an unconscious fog where we see ourselves mostly as volunteers in the Lord's army where we can serve or not serve, go or not go, or just sit on the sidelines (warming the pew) and observe others as they are engaged on the battlefield of life.

This may be how it works in practice but this is not even close to God's will regarding our life. First and foremost, if we are a believer in the only way to God, that being the Lord Jesus Christ and His atoning work on our behalf on the cross, and if we have called upon Him to save us, then we have what God calls a 'new' life. That new life belongs to the One who bought us out of our bondage to sin. Therefore, He has every right over His very own blood bought children to expect things out of the new life He has given to us. It is a struggle to respond to these expectations because God in His wisdom saved us but left our 'forever saved' new life in our fleshly constructed bodies. This means there is tension between the 'old' me and the 'new' me regarding which one I will yield myself to. God gives us the power through His sent and indwelling Holy Spirit to respond to His calling but we must do battle every day with that 'old' person nature that continues to want his way in our life. God did this for His own purpose for when we do yield to His calling and we do His will, He alone receives the deserved honor and glory from our life. (The book of Romans examines these issues in great detail.)

Expectations. What exactly is it that God wants you to do? What exactly is it that God wants me to do? This was how Saul of Tarsus (the Apostle Paul) responded whenever He came face to face with the Lord he had previously been persecuting, "Lord, what will you have me to do?" This is the question you and I should be asking as we face a new year and a new opportunity to get serious about the life that God has given to us. He makes it clear that in addition to being saved He has a plan for our life which includes the exercise of His gifts in our life along with the talent, testimony, treasure, and the TIME He has provided for us. These things come from Him, therefore, we owe our response regarding them back to Him as we seek to use any and all resources to bring honor and glory to Him. This may sound like a calling to a monastic lifestyle in contrast to how many if not most see personal responsibilities before God. It really has little to do with any limitations because God always has His honor and glory in mind along with His best for our life, therefore, whatever it is He would have us to be doing, then we can be assured of it being the very best life we could ever hope for when we find ourselves doing those very things! Simple? Hardly! A battle? Every single day! But, finding our place in His Kingdom doing whatever it is He has called and equipped us to do is where we will find our fulfillment in earning that greatest of all titles, Servant of the Living God! Amen. ......More later.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Let the games begin!

Do you hear that? That click clacking is the sound of teeth chattering on this cold morning as we find ourselves up and going on Wednesday, January 14, 2009. They tell us that while it is in the upper 20's this morning, it may be even colder Friday and Saturday. It really is a beautiful morning. The air is cold, crisp, and the stars are putting on a brilliant light show. I don't know about you but when I look up and see such a vast array of stars strewn together, it reminds me of our Creator God who spoke and it all came into existence. I picked up bits and pieces of some of the new administration's confirmation hearings yesterday. Senator Clinton has coined a new phrase. She is going to employ "Smart power" in her efforts to pursue her work as our new Secretary of State. The gentleman who is being fast tracked for heading up treasury didn't pay his income taxes for several years and he also employed an undocumented worker. Talk about your double standards! Thus far, everyone is falling all over themselves in trying to excuse these lapses on behalf of these chosen ones and in this case the one who will be responsible for making sure you and I pay our taxes. In Senator Clinton's case it hardly seems worth mentioning that she will be dealing with foreign governments that contributed millions to her husband's library and other endeavors. Oh well, there you go again, trying to stir up trouble!

I just can't understand those who don't enjoy watching these carnival like shows as they are paraded before us. I do know this. Our sitting president would not have had too many trying to excuse these types of issues in those he nominated to serve. This last election uncovered once and for all the most poorly hidden secret of all time. There's a double standard in this country and for the most part any and all who try to stand up for truth, any truth, but especially truth as God would have us to, will be tarred and feathered by the mainstream media. It became so clear during the election that most media outlets were in the tank for Mr. Obama, so much so that they even had to admit it was so. This means that any candidate who does not fit into their idea or values will have to not only beat his or her opponent but will have to also overcome this huge influence on people's perceptions and ideas. Now that the issue of objectivity is out of the closet in that it has really never existed, we will no doubt be treated to more and more of the same, as hard news stories will not be followed that will connect any dots that do not lead to a particular set of ideological outcomes. God is still in ultimate control but He has in the past and may give us what we deserve and that is one of my greatest concerns for our nation and especially our children, grandchildren, and those who will follow.

Some who read my blog may be tempted to just tune out. Or, you may have never even tuned in! Whatever the case, you may not be a political junkie like I am but you should be aware and concerned because these are no small matters and they do have an impact, both now and in particular, huge consequences going forward. I have said all along that I respect the symbolism behind this unprecedented inauguration. African Americans have every right to be proud that they will witness something thought to be impossible. All Americans should be thankful that we live in a country where something of this magnitude can happen. However, at the end of the day, (which I understand the experts are saying is a phrase that people should quit using), hope is not real hope if it is based on bias and hype. Therefore, while I may be a spectator of these events unfolding before our eyes and I may tease about them from time to time, let's be very clear that elections matter, policies implemented matter, and consequences will follow. That's why you and I as believers need more than ever to pursue the admonitions given by the Apostle Paul in Romans Chapter 13. It is this Chapter that tells us to honor our government, pray for our leaders, and obey the laws of our nation. We do this as a testimony to our faith in our God as we continue to seek His help both now and in the future. Okay, so I waxed a little reflective today and sprayed around quite a few discombobulated thoughts, but, I do pray that you will take those that make sense and join me in seeking God as our only hope. Amen. ....More later.