Monday, November 30, 2009

From Thanksgiving to Thanks-living!

Good Monday morning and welcome back from your holidays. It's the last day of November, the 30th, 2009 and our family is still basking in the afterglow of our Thanksgiving Day gathering. There was something ordinary or traditional about it. We like so many others had the turkey, ham, cornbread dressing, homemade dumplings, cranberries and side dishes and desserts galore. Most of our group were able to be there and that is always the greatest blessing of all. The glow comes from the time we were able to be with one another. It also connects the handed down memories from many other celebrations from the past. My wife's cornbread dressing alone conjures up the sweet memories of seeing my Granny Mac sweating over her stove and my mom feverishly getting all of her dishes ready for the day. The variety of conversations being pursued, the noises of children playing, and the knowledge that we are a blessed people to be able to have such a feast makes it a very special event for us. Our family is just about as dysfunctional as the next but we do know how to enjoy our celebration times together. When the prayer was said we attempted to acknowledge God and all that He has done for us. It was a good one and we are oh so thankful!

On Friday my eldest son Chris and I left early to travel over to visit mom and dad in Louisiana. We were there to see them but to also install a high speed modem and line on mom's little internet doohickey as she calls it. I asked Chris to tag along just in case I ran into problems getting everything set up properly. And, it was good that he went because there were a few hiccups and he was able to get them all solved and now she can get her mail 24 hours a day and also use her phone at the same time. No more waiting twenty minutes for a photo to load! She might even venture out into the scary world of browsing the internet. Who knows, she might even end up with her own Facebook page before she is done. I am so proud of her at 86 still challenging herself in using that little computer and in the many other endeavors she undertakes. We had a great breakfast with them and then on our way out of the area we shared a late lunch with them. Time well spent. Mission accomplished. And, Chris and I had about five hours of conversation that was enjoyable as well.

We also had my wife's sister, her daughter-in-law, and her granddaughter Whitney over from Louisiana for the Black Friday shopping event. I didn't see them that much because of their shopping schedule but it was good to have them in our home. I sure wish they would have invited me to tag along because everyone knows how much guys love shopping at the mall, especially when you have to take turns breathing due to the immense crowds. NOT!!!!! Whitney is nine years old and awfully young to be in training for this type of marathon event. I don't think any of them shopped until they dropped but they certainly did not tarry long before bedtime. We also had Jimmy Jr., Alesha, Amanda, and Alex Friday night and all day Saturday. Blessings upon blessings. Then, to start out our brand new week we had our Bible study and worship with other believers on Sunday. Talk about this being a great country, it sure is, and we have our Great God to thank for each and every blessing He sends our way. I pray that you also enjoyed a great holiday celebration, and that we all will seek to live out our thankfulness to God as we begin our new work week. Amen. ....More later.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I am thankful that God arranged for me to be a citizen of the United States of America!

On this Thanksgiving Day eve, I welcome you back to my brief series of sharing expressions of a grateful heart on this Wednesday, November 25, 2009. A few weeks ago at our mid-week Bible study and prayer time, our little group of mostly white hairs stumbled through several patriotic songs to honor America and on that particular day, the men and women who have honorably worn the uniform of our country. While the sound may not have been professional, the Godly pride and spirit of patriotism came through loud and clear. America the beautiful, and it is, sweet land of liberty, and it is, and God bless America, and we pray that He will ….were just a few of the sentiments expressed in our singing together. Now we think seriously about our nation since we will be enjoying a national holiday in our Thanksgiving Observance.

There is a move afoot among the historical revisionists to remove the deeply held religious convictions that helped give birth to our great nation. These so-called scholars pick out a handful of noted skeptics and try to portray our founding as basically reflecting these secular viewpoints. So-called is right! The overwhelming majority of those who put their lives on the line to help build this nation, I mean by a landslide, were people who believed in God, and His providence, and in His help in the building of this grand experiment we call the United States of America. As believers, I think our pride should always be bathed in humility because we know that God was at work in giving us the nation we have. Our founding was in large measure based on Christian values and moral principles. Don’t believe me, go and read it for yourself. Make sure you read all the founders and come back with a tally of how many were believers whose faith informed their actions. We are a nation under God as proven by our history.

We are also a nation blessed by God to be a blessing. Yes, we are going through some choppy waters at this time and we have faced them before, however, God has stood beside us to guide us through the night with the light from above. Therefore, we rise up to give praise, honor, and thanksgiving to God for the country we live in and love. Does America need revival back to God? Absolutely! Are we still one of the most blessed nations on the face of the earth? Absolutely! As we gather together with our families and friends to enjoy a time of fellowship and feasting, may we never forget the blessings that God has shown to our nation. May we never forget those who have given their all that we might be free. May we not forget those who continue to answer the call and in this very hour they stand in harm’s way to defend and protect our way of life. May God be thanked for America and may we, who are His people, turn back to Him once again for the sake of our nation and our children and their children! Happy Thanksgiving and may God bless each one in a very special way. Amen.

I will be off the next few days to enjoy time with family. I plan to run over to Louisiana to visit my mom and dad on Friday. I am thankful for the time off, and Lord willing I will be back making noise on the old keyboard next Monday morning. Until then, take care and enjoy and don't forget to remember to be THANKFUL! …..More later.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Things that I am thankful for!

Welcome to day two of my thanksgiving emphasis on this Tuesday, November 24, 2009. Yesterday I attempted to share what I believe to be the basis for having a genuine thankful heart and that is a living relationship with Almighty God. Believe it or not there are many sites out on the internet listing things to be thankful for and many of them do not include even one mention of God. The words of Jesus come to mind: "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? (Mark 8:36) Having said that, it is appropriate for us who know God to be thankful for the blessings He has provided to us. The song says it well, that we should count our many blessings, that we should name them one by one, and it will surprise us what the Lord has done. This recognition of God in all things should permeate our contemplation of any and all blessings for which we are thankful.

Being thankful is a personal matter. Choosing to be thankful is a Christian trait that we should cultivate and develop as a way of life. Today, I am thankful for my ancestors, my grandparents, aunts and uncles, my parents, and those who have honored God by handing down the faith that had previously been handed down to them. I think about my mom this week and how thankful I am for her. Her 85 plus years are a testimony to God’s grace being experienced through much challenge and adversity. She is a remarkable woman and I thank God for her and her influence on my life. I am thankful for my dad. God called him home when I was only seven. I’m so thankful for my step dad who for more than thirty years has taken such good care of our mom. I am thankful for my brother Donald, and two sisters, Frances and JoAnn, and I am thankful for the memory of my older brother, Jimmy, and baby sister, Kayla, who have gone on to their reward. I am thankful for my wife, a woman of faith, family, and fidelity. These forty-five years seem to have flown by but I am a blessed man to have had her by my side. I am thankful for her family and how that on both sides, my family and her family, they became and are ‘our’ family.

I am thankful to God for our boys, their wives, and our grandchildren along with our soon to be born first great grandchild. I don’t know that much about quivers and arrows (Psalm 127) but I am the recipient of innumerable blessings through these offspring. No, we haven’t always had an easy go of it and we have not lived out a perfect “Leave it to Beaver” style of life. But, we have had joys unspeakable and we have been blessed to be able to be a family through it all. I mentioned yesterday about precious memories and they are vast in number. Lord willing, when the prayer is spoken over our family meal on Thursday all of us will appreciate how that it is God Who has brought us to where we are. Ups, downs, good times and bad, He is always there for us. Thank You Lord for providing so many handfuls on purpose that have come my way through the family you privileged me to be a part of during my sojourn here! Amen. (Thanksgiving theme, to be continued.) …..More later.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Basis for True Thankfulness!

I bid you greetings on a very foggy morning with very low visibility around our area. However, we can with clarity anticipate this as Thanksgiving week and I am thankful for the opportunity to use this means of communication to express my thankfulness on this Monday, November 23, 2009. Our local family is planning a huge get together for Thursday and I am an easy mark when it comes to being sentimental about this time of year. There's so many memories that flood my soul, and yes, many of them are so very precious to me. This week I want to occupy this space with some of my thoughts on the subject of having a thankful heart. Today I want to start with the basis of true thankfulness and that relates to me knowing God and Him knowing me. Sounds simple enough but to know God as Father and for Him to know me as His very own child brings forth praise and thanksgiving because there is no privilege or prize greater than this. Therefore, I am thankful that I recognize God as being Who He has revealed Himself to be, I have responded to Him by accepting the payment made for my sins by His Son, My Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, and I live and breathe with His abiding presence as He through His Holy Spirit lives within me.

I love the story about the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving Day celebration here in our country as well as the next fellow, and I will get to many other blessings as this week progresses, but for today I want to bask in the privilege of being a child of God. The Good News is that all who respond to God's provision through His Son can be saved, can be made whole, and can be thankful for God's grace, mercy, and His great love. Some of my favorite verses that come to mind when I think about what it means to know God and be known by Him are found in Jeremiah. In the 9th Chapter we read these words: 23) Thus says the LORD: "Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; 24) But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the LORD, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the LORD.

The Prophet puts forth the foundation for true thankfulness and I join Jeremiah in reminding us all that to know and recognize God in a personal way transcends all that we might experience in this life. Therefore, I start this week where we all will be thinking about so many thoughts and ideas about thanksgiving with an encouragement that we envelope them all with God Himself as the basis of our thankful hearts. The writer of Hebrews said those who would please God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Read Chapter 11.) May we all focus in on our diligence this week in our seeking to honor Him with hearts overflowing with praise, worship, adoration, and thankfulness. When our thankfulness reflects the reality of Him in our lives then the rest of the details will find their rightful place. May God help each of us to honor Him by observing Him in His rightful first place in all things including our thankfulness! Amen. .....More later.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Happy Birthday to our Stefani!

Good Friday morning and welcome again to Poppy’s musings about one of his favorite topics: Grandchildren! It is November 20, 2009 and we are looking forward to celebrating the 16th birthday of our eldest son’s youngest daughter this coming Sunday. Stefani came along the year her Poppy left the big company after nearly 24 years of devoted service. This was a huge change for our family. I was blessed to find work as a consultant and for 18 consecutive months I traveled every other week to Chicago. When I was in town I helped watch over Stef. She would stay with me each day. She doesn’t remember it, of course, and I like to kid her about it. But, it is a blessing to have been a part of her life from the very beginning.

Tiffany, Brittany, and Stefani. We are thankful for these three lovely granddaughters who couldn’t be more different. Her dad and his two brothers were exactly that way as well. It takes some of us a while to realize the uniqueness of each child and to do our part in helping to shape them based on how God has equipped each one. It’s been tough on MiMi and Poppy to see these little ones grow into young women. At one time they hung onto their Poppy like there was no tomorrow but that gave way to them getting closer and closer to their MiMi. Now we see them as young women and while we will always cherish those childhood special times, we seek God’s best for them as they make their way forward.

Stef has a keen mind and she carries with it a personality to match. She also has a mind of her own and I well remember getting up close and personal with that character trait back when she was barely a toddler. She is a big time video game person. She actually favors some of the war games. She would make a pretty tough commander. As I write this today my mind’s eye can see her develop over the years. Sleepovers, special occasions, hugs and kisses, and make believe and dress up time, and so much more, and we thank God for our Stefani. May God bless you and keep you as we celebrate your special day, your 16th birthday! Amen. Love, MiMi and Poppy. ......More later.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I've told you before and I will tell you again, it is not easy being me!

Good Thursday morning, I hope all is well with you and yours on this November 19, 2009. I am thankful to be able to be up and going as we are fast closing in on putting 2009 into the history books. I made a pledge to keep it light this week, therefore, I must stay away from any current political topics because the stuff that’s happening right now really gets to me. In fact, back home we used to say it this way: "Don't that just burn you up?" If you hear a muffled sound, it is me dragging myself off of my soapbox, but doing so with a whole lot of kicking and screaming. Suffice it to say that the infamous hope and change is thus far giving us a whole bunch of hopelessness with a huge amount of damaging change. But I promised to behave so let me move on to something a little less combustible.

Have you ever climbed on the scales after not being on them for a while and suddenly you find yourself doing a double take? This happened to me the other day. I like to do my diabetic diet thing on a “best effort” basis but not to the extent that it dominates my life. Within this context I try to stay plus or minus 5 pounds from my chosen ideal target weight. The shock came after not having weighed myself for a few days and I discovered I had slightly breached the top end of my five-pound control limit. What do you do when this happens? I first immediately began to examine the scales. Who has been messing with these scales? Next, I looked at my eyes in the mirror thinking perhaps some type of slimy substance might have clouded my contacts and blurred the number I was reading. Maybe it was a shadow or a bathroom lighting problem. Having completed my checklist, which included recalibrating the scales, cleaning the display, and practicing a few deep breaths to loosen up my system, I bravely stepped back on the scales.

Those famous words from the Apollo 13 near calamitous event rang in my ears: Houston, we have a problem! This was last Sunday night and I went on to have bad dreams about it during my rapid eye movement cycle which is a time that is near and dear to my heart. Thanksgiving is right around the corner and I suddenly have to deal with a weight crisis? My grandfather’s words were ringing in my ears as I drove in Monday morning: “Only one way to control your weight, push away from the table.” I curtailed my intake during the day Monday but came home to a fried pork chop dinner. There’s no way I will insult that woman after she slaved over a hot stove, or something like that. I did well again on Tuesday but she prepared homemade chicken enchiladas to kill for, loaded up with enough thick and creamy cheese to make a goat blush. However, I bravely indulged myself one more time. The good news is that I did so with a modicum of control, therefore, I am back into the safe zone by a pound and a half, but with next week’s bird day on the horizon I must keep on keeping on! I bet I would have burned up a few more calories had I written about politics, but as I do my sign off today I'm feeling very conflicted and also very hungry! Pray for me! Until next time, may the Good Lord take a liking to you and yours. Amen. ……More later.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Prone to pander to the imponderable!

Welcome to Wednesday, November 18, 2009 where I rehearse with you this admonition from the 136th Division of the Psalms: Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. This is a remarkable passage in that the psalmist repeats this sentiment 26 times. Hello? He was inspired to remind us by repetition of why we can be thankful, every moment of every day: Because God’s mercy endures forever, and ever, Amen. Recently I have been acting as the point person on interfacing with the federal government on behalf of our company in terms of issues they have documented during a safety inspection of our plant equipment and operations. Talk about needing mercy! I worked for the federal government many years ago and I recall way back then how inefficient it could be, but, my experience in this current project makes it crystal clear why small businesses sometimes just throw in the towel rather than trying to deal with this endless and often mindless bureaucracy. No wonder so many people attend those tea parties! I do not know what the cost of sustaining this mammoth agency is per dollar spent in conducting a business, but as they say back home: It ain’t small!

Let me see if I can now return to my lighter emphasis that I started earlier this week. Just thinking out loud but have you ever wondered about the deeper things in life? Like, if you tried to fail but you succeeded, which one would you have done? Or, before they invented drawing boards what did we go back to? How about: If you spin an oriental person round and round until they become dizzy, do they become disoriented; or does a pig who has lost its voice become disgruntled? Let’s face it, there are some really tough questions out there. What does one cheese say to the other cheese when they are making a photograph? Why do we call a person who plays the piano a pianist but typically don’t call a racecar driver a racist? Perhaps except for a few in NASCAR. Is it really possible to have a civil war? Why does it turn out that wise men and wise guys are completely the opposite of one another? Why do they have an interstate highway system on the island of Hawaii? And finally: What was the best thing before sliced bread?

Of course none of these questions are as mind boggling or as gut wrenching as hearing this one from a seven year old: “Dad, what does it mean when it says it is reformatting Drive C?” We live in a world dominated by unsolved mysteries and complicated conundrums. Much of it does revolve around the fact that the trouble is very close to home. Yeah, we know the guy driving slower than us is an idiot but the fellow going faster, he has to be a maniac. Maybe we would rather think about the questions more than struggle with the answers. I wonder how the fellow driving the snowplow gets to work in the morning? If ignorance is bliss why aren’t more people happy? If nothing sticks on Teflon how does it stick to the pan? Okay, that will suffice for today since I now have a headache. Don’t fret. It could not be as bad as the answer Moses received when he called and spoke to the doctor at the Excedrin headache hotline: Take two TABLETS and call me in the morning. Say goodnight Gracie! Have a blessed Wednesday. Amen. …..More later.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Delightful Delusion!

Welcome to my world where I am very much enjoying this 40 degree morning as visions of sugarplums dance in my head. This is a great way to embark upon this Tuesday, November 17, 2009. I haven’t commented on my Santa progress lately but that miracle grow is really working on my beard! I have now officially booked my first professional gigs at two different locations of a national fast food chain where I will be doing a Breakfast with Santa event. These came to me by word of mouth and it fits well my approach since I am more or less letting things play out on their own. I know it may sound strange but periodically when I catch a glimpse of my image in a mirror the first thought I have is: SANTA. Now that’s pretty scary, don’t you think? I know I used the words on my Santa business card: featuring the real Santa, but surely it was an advertising touch, right? I sure hope I don’t end up with one of those psychotic disorders where I begin thinking I actually am the dude from the North Pole. I’ve heard about people who begin to believe they are someone else like Napoleon, or Hitler, or even Jesus Christ. Many who know me would agree that making such a leap within the fragile moorings of my mental state would be a very short trip indeed.

Okay, mom, don’t call 9-1-1 because it’s all in fun, I think. Santa would not really look that good in a straight jacket. Folks are beginning to notice. One lady that works with my wife saw a recent photo and said she could not believe how much I really look like ‘him’. Our daughter-in-law Mitzi wants me, in full costume, along with my wife, Mrs. Claus, to pose with our grand kids, Kyleigh, Lexie, and Brady, for their annual Christmas card. I will have to do some training with the wife to get her ready for this charade but she’s been known to cook up some pretty mean Christmas candies, and no one loves to give gifts more than her. Come to think about it she also loves to receive them as well. Note to self: Hide her “I want it all” Christmas sweatshirt.

Last Friday evening we had a wonderful dinner with our birthday girl, Lexie. The photo is one taken by my wife of Lexie and I and she also put it up on her Facebook page. Several have commented on Santa and our beautiful granddaughter. We had a blast. This past Saturday and Sunday I visited my wife at the big mall to watch her eat her lunch. She has thirty minutes and I typically find her something to eat and get there a few minutes early. The mall is beginning to begin to look a lot like Christmas and from the occasional eye contact and response of some beautiful little ones, I think I must be beginning to begin to look more and more like ‘you know who’. The parents do not notice as much as they hurry by to hurry up doing whatever it is they have on their agenda. But it is becoming more frequent to have a little boy or girl in a stroller give me that big-eyed gushy smile of acknowledgement. As folks say today when something pleasing happens: That’s pretty cool. Being the reason for a child’s smile may be the greatest blessing that comes from this particular wacky episode of my sojourn here. Okay, that’s enough for today, and I do need to get back to practicing my “ho ho ho’s”! May God bless each one. Amen. ……..More later.

Monday, November 16, 2009

You just might be one, who knows?

Good morning and welcome to a brand new workweek on this Monday, November 16, 2009. We may not know how things will go each day but we always know that God is already there and He not only cares but He is ultimately in control of all things. My wife sent me a note the other day and said perhaps I could write a few blogs that were a little more on the lighter side. She said that while dealing with the realities of how difficult it can be in life is useful, sometimes she likes me to deal with the funny stuff that brings a smile. I like a good joke about as well as the next person. They say that lawyer jokes are hard to tell because lawyers don’t think they are funny and most people don’t think they are jokes. Blonde jokes seem to work pretty well most of the time but they must be fairly difficult to endure if you are one. However, I suppose having grown up in a rural Louisiana community, the Redneck jokes have a lot of appeal to me, therefore, I thought I would share a few favorites with my blog reading buddies.

There have always been hillbilly jokes, country boy jokes, but the Redneck genre kind of brought them all to a new level. You might be a Redneck if…… You have celebrated at least one wedding anniversary at the food court of the local mall. You keep a can of Raid on the kitchen table. Your boat has not been out of the driveway for more than ten years. You have ever shot someone just for looking at you. You own a homemade fur coat. You have actually burned off your front lawn to keep from having to mow it. You have ever been involved in a custody battle over a coon dog. Your baby’s first words were: “Attention K-Mart shoppers!” Your mom has been arrested at least one time for a fistfight at a high school athletic event. You have barbecued Spam in your backyard. Your mom keeps an extra spit cup on her ironing board.

You also might be a Redneck if…… You have attended a wedding where all the ladies wore tube tops. You have at least two family members named Bubba and Junior. You have ever purchased a used cap. You receive a Christmas card each year from the Red Man Tobacco Company. You can change the oil in your pickup truck without ducking. Your kid takes a gasoline siphon hose to school for show and tell...... Believe me there are hundreds more but I will leave you with this one blonde joke and be done for today: The blind man walks into a bar and says, "Wanna hear a blonde joke?" The bartender tells him, "Well, I'm blonde and I won't appreciate it. The man sitting next to you is 265 pounds, and is also blonde. The man behind you is 285 pounds, and he's blonde too. Do you still want to tell that joke?" "No way," says the blind man. "Not if I have to explain it three times." Okay, that’s it. Maybe at least one of these brought a smile. Have a great week and may God bless one and all. Amen. …..More later.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Happy Birthday to our Lexie Dee!

Good Friday morning and welcome to Poppy’s corner where on this November 13, 2009 I am rehearsing the birthday of another of our very special granddaughters. Our Lexie will be nine tomorrow and we are planning on being with her tonight to celebrate her birthday. My boys will attest to the fact that I was much too busy when they were young to notice all the nuances of how they differed but now being an old codger, I am able to concentrate more on their children. Lexie, like each of our grandchildren, is a one-of-a-kind. She is an original original. Born with a smile that would light up any room she carries well the name (Dee) of her mom's deceased mom. Her first few years were spent entertaining everyone with her natural sharp wit and comedic timing. You could not be around our Lexie without soon finding a reason to laugh.

Now she is becoming a more thoughtful young lady who has developed a sense of the serious to go a long with her bubbly personality. She has a natural talent for softball, she is an excellent student, and she also loves to spend time with her friends. She will always be special to us because that’s how it works. You would have to spend time with her to see what I mean, or maybe you would just have to be her silly Poppy, a designation I hear quite often. Being called silly at my age is not that big of a deal, especially when it’s all about how I connect to my grandchildren.

The other night I called Lexie to talk to her about her birthday. When she answered she immediately asked if I wanted to talk to her dad. I told her that I actually wanted to talk to her. Her little brother Brady was doing his thing in the background and dad Rodney was hollering at him, so Lexie found a quieter place so we could talk. She gave me an idea about a gift she would like and we also talked about where she would like to go to dinner. She thought about that for a couple of days and we now have a location where we all will be meeting tonight. It was a ‘Lexie’ conversation: polite, sweet, and thoughtful. Joy comes in all shapes and sizes and this young lady came bundled with an overflow capacity and we thank God for her. Happy Birthday Lexie from your MiMi and Poppy! May God bless you! Amen. …..More later.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Living in a messy world.

Hello friends and neighbors, welcome to the wonderful world of warped and wacky words sent out with the hope that a few of them will end up being words of wit and wisdom. It is Thursday, November 12, 2009 and I am here to tell you that we are living in a messy world. Pictures do tell a story. One of the things I do almost every day is to peruse a variety of news websites that have cataloged still pictures from that particular day. Yesterday I viewed a series of photographs from the memorial service at Fort Hood, Texas. Photo after photo showed moms, dads, or other family members hugging the photograph of their lost loved one. In that same series there were photos of six coffins from a service in Britain to honor those recently killed in combat in Afghanistan. Another shot showed a small casket with a grieving family where a weather event had taken their child away. There was also a picture of a state trooper from Arkansas looking at the wreckage from a head on collision that claimed five lives. Some might put forth a ‘just say no’ way of avoiding looking at things like this, but folks, this is the world we live in, this is the mess that surrounds our existence, and choosing not to see it will not make it go away.

Some days these images impact me more than others. I will admit that with age I have grown more sentimental. The Patriarch Job lamented that man is born of few days that are filled up with much trouble. (Job 14:1) Does this mean that we have to live life with a “sky is falling” type of outlook? No way! We can live a life of hope, joy, fulfillment, and peace as we walk with the God who knows about it all. Jesus said that in this world we would suffer tribulation and trial but that we should not lose hope. Why? Because He has overcome death, hell, and the grave on behalf of any and all who put their faith and trust in Him. (See John 16:33) The Psalmist said that some put their trust in chariots and horses, meaning their own strength or means, while we put our trust in the Lord our God. (See Psalms 20:7) My Paw Paw Mac’s favorite song comes to mind: I don’t know about tomorrow but I know Who holds my hand. Folks, I can’t even begin to imagine how anyone can cope with this life and maintain any semblance of peace without the reality of this song being the testimony of their life.

Yes, we do live in a messy world occupied by a fallen race capable of some horrific acts. Some of these disturb our peace and hurt our hearts, however, we can take our burdens to the Lord who offers His own peace that transcends human understanding. This song came to my mind: “Verse 1) There is a place of quiet rest, Near to the heart of God, A place where sin cannot molest, Near to the heart of God. Verse 2) There is a place of comfort sweet, Near to the heart of God, A place where we our Savior meet, Near to the heart of God. Verse 3) There is a place of full release Near to the heart of God A place where all is joy and peace Near to the heart of God. Chorus) O Jesus, blest Redeemer, Sent from the heart of God, Hold us who wait before Thee Near to the heart of God." Are these some tough days to deal with given all the stuff out there along with our own stuff? You better believe it! But be encouraged and read the words of that song because we, as believers, can find our rest near the heart of the God who loves us! Amen. …..More later.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

We remember.

Happy Veterans Day on this Wednesday, November 11, 2009. There is a history of how this particular day came to be the one we recognize where we as a grateful nation pause to pay tribute to all veterans and thank God for their willingness to serve our country. It started out as a day set aside to honor veterans of WWI but as we all know this world is filled with wars and rumors of war, therefore, over time, it was changed to honor all who have honorably worn the uniform of our country. My deceased dad and his deceased twin brother both served in WW2. My step dad is retired from the U. S. Army and he served in Korea and Vietnam. This week my mom is hosting a mini-reunion for her two remaining siblings, Uncle Asa and Uncle Waymon and their wives. Both of these men fought for our country in WW2. Uncle Asa is 88 and still going strong. Uncle Waymon is 84 and dealing with health issues but still able to travel. I want to pay special tribute to my step dad and these two men for being heroes to our family.

This past Sunday, our local fellowship, like Churches all over America, had all those who have served to stand and be recognized. It always puts a lump in my throat as many of our most elderly wobble their way to the front and then stand at attention and offer a salute to the flag of our nation. It is our privilege to offer our gratitude to these who served. At the same time we also remember the fallen who were willing to go but were not able to return. We remember those who suffered injuries, some that altered their lives forever. We also remember those who have suffered great emotional injury that has made everyday life a challenge in their return to the civilian world. All of these remembrances have one thing in common: Sacrifice. And, we thank God for so many who gave so much that we might remain a free people.

I watched much of the proceedings at the memorial from Fort Hood, Texas yesterday. For those killed in such a senseless way, it was a sad tribute, but a tribute indeed to what this country is all about as those from every corner who had volunteered to serve were memorialized. In honor of all our veterans I offer up this prayer to our Great God: “We ask for blessings on all those who have served our country in the armed forces. We ask for healing for the veterans who have been wounded, in body and soul, in conflicts around the globe. Bring solace to them, O Lord. Have mercy on all our veterans who answered our nation’s call to service. Bring peace to their hearts and peace to the regions they fought in. Bless all the soldiers who served in non-combative postings; May their calling to service continue in their lives in many positive ways. These who have fought to make peace, may they know you O Lord, the Prince of Peace, I pray in Jesus Name.” Amen. …..More later.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The law of unintended consequences.

Good Tuesday morning and I do hope you are finding plenty of reasons to be thankful on this November 10, 2009. While the law of unintended consequences is not a scientific law, it is an observable outcome that happens whenever an action that was originally intended to accomplish one purpose actually produces many others that were not known at the time. It is also a very prominent biblical principle that we all would do well to take into consideration. Our Bible study class has been working through the Book of Genesis since January and we are now studying the life of Jacob. Jacob was a momma’s boy and his older brother, Esau, was a daddy’s boy. God had informed Rebekah, the mom, that the younger would one day rule the elder. Therefore, when Isaac, the dad, who was losing his eyesight, sought to confer the Abrahamic blessing upon Esau as the elder, mom intervened to have Jacob deceptively steal the blessing from Esau. The details read like a modern soap opera as Jacob dressed up in Esau’s clothes and put goatskin on his neck and hands to imitate the feel and smell of his brother. In addition, Jacob, following his mother’s detailed advice, openly lied several times as well as even invoking God into his devilish plan. But, in the end while God’s prophetic word was accomplished in seeing the younger receive the blessing in place of the eldest, that was certainly not the end of the story.

Rebekah may have thought she was doing God’s will but she had no idea of the consequences that came about because of trying to operate outside the clear boundaries of right and wrong. Esau was rightfully enraged by what had happened and looked for a convenient opportunity to do away with Jacob. Mom was very worried for Jacob’s safety so she again misled Isaac by saying Jacob needed to find a wife from her people and he agreed and sent Jacob away. Yes, it was God’s will that he marry from the Abrahamic family, but again; the deception was her choice, not God’s. Some today look at the overall outcome many years later and say perhaps that is the way God had intended it to play out. That would mean that God condones evil, for any reason, and that cannot be true because He clearly has said that He can do no evil, nor will He ever tempt anyone to do evil. (See James Chapter 1.) We could say that He accomplished His purpose despite the shenanigans of Rebekah and Jacob.

Some might say it was a mother’s love that drove Rebekah to do what she did, therefore, she shouldn’t be blamed. However, it was God who had informed her that Jacob would inherit the blessings promised to Abraham, therefore, it was up to Him to do it in His own way and in His own time. Her connecting of the dots based on feelings and emotions only brought about years of misery and heartache for herself and for her beloved son Jacob. This is not a fairy tale story. It is a picture of real people living out life and making decisions that carry with them --- consequences. Jacob and Rebekah had no idea they would soon be separated and suffering but that is where the unintended consequences of their actions came home to roost. Any of us can do the very same thing, today! That’s right. We need to be reminded from this account of how critical it is that we do life, with God’s help, not only according to His will, but also according to His ways. A decision today can have tremendous consequences later and this is a sobering reminder for us all. May God help us to take this to heart. Amen. ……More later.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Perilous times are not just coming, they are here!

Good morning and welcome to Monday, November 9, 2009. I've often thought about how different it must have been when folks did not really know all that was going on because they had to wait until they saw a newspaper or heard it on a radio program. Today you and I know about it almost before it happens and we get to agonize our way through every excruciating detail, right and wrong, along with the professionals who are trying to make sense of it in real time. This past Saturday evening we were able to keep up with a dozen different major stories just by flipping channels. We could find out more about the shooter in last week's mass killings at Fort Hood, Texas. We could get the details of those who were killed and those whose heroic actions saved many. We watched the U.S. House vote through the health care legislation which is being touted as a major achievement of the Obama Administration. Sadly, the ten year projection only includes about five full years of the full cost since it is phased in over time. That's another detail I learned from those doing analysis on the bill. The big big question is whether or not we are better off for knowing all of these things on a second by second basis.

I find it fascinating that I've been informed of a major world event while speaking to a person on the telephone who just got an alert on their cell phone giving them the headline. Even for a person who likes to be informed, you have to wonder about the impact, especially over time, of the incessant scream of the 24 by 7 news cycle. We don't have to wonder because there are well documented cases where the coverage of a major issue so impacted the understanding of the facts that people actually began to take unwarranted actions as a result. It can spike the sale of protection equipment, medical treatments, and any number of other types of responses, based on the perception that is formed by the hearing public. Add to all of this the competition for viewers and you have one big balled up mess as each station or outlet tries to be first or to be more dramatic, all in the name of ratings. I'm not finished yet. Then you have a cottage industry that has grown up which basically thrives by analyzing the stations and their coverages to determine who is right or wrong. The problem then becomes the bias or the slant of those watching the watchers. We are a funny lot, don't you think?

Meanwhile, it is tough down in the trenches. My guess is that some 20 million or more folks here in the greatest country on the face of the earth are waking up to dim prospects for a paycheck this morning. They are also being drowned out with the slogans and promises from folks who live about as high as one can imagine while proclaiming that they really can feel their pain. Our local fellowship has started a new ministry where specific folks in need have been written down on a heart and placed on a bulletin board along with the need listed that someone might be able to help with. Let me just say there are many hearts on that board and it has just been started. That's the reality of the 24 hour cycle that people are living in. Their defined reality is one of caring for their families and trying to make sense out of a senseless world. While Washington will not lead us back to God which is the pattern of recovered blessings as given in God's Word, you and I can do what we can do. We can seek God early and often on behalf of the needs that surround us. We can also be His hands extended to those that we can help. The news may seem mostly bad but with God there is always true hope and change. Hope through a Savior. Change through Him living in people and directing their lives, from the inside out. Be encouraged and may God bless us as we seek to live out the life He has given to us! Amen. .....More later.

Friday, November 6, 2009

People do matter to God and they should matter to us as well!

It is Friday, November 6, 2009 and many today can hardly wait for the workday to end so that the official weekend can start. In fact, many actually do what they do each day just to get to the parties and activities they anticipate each weekend. (How does this spirit of getting crazy on a weekend work? Just watch the opening Hank Williams Jr. song on Monday Night Football and it provides some tangible insight!) While I would tell you this is a very shortsighted view of the life God has given to us and how He would have us to spend it, none-the-less, there are entire generations who operate in this way. I’ve known many who start Friday evening with an expectation of hoping to be sober enough to make it back to work on Monday morning. While this approach to life may be offensive to us, know that these are the very people that God sent His Son to die for. Jesus made it clear that He didn’t come to save those who were smug in their sense of not needing to be saved, but He came to seek and save sinners who desperately need a Savior. (See Mark 2:17)

People matter. People count. They are made in the image of God. Last week we had a forecast of some really stormy and potentially damaging weather that was predicted for our area. I was at a company dealing with this huge African American guy and he asked me in a little boy’s voice about this impending storm. I was shocked but he went on to say that he had recently moved from Cleveland, Ohio, and was unfamiliar with how much danger we might be in. I thought to myself he would be the last person who could be uneasy about any impending danger. But, he wasn’t sure, and a little skittish, just like most of us. Day before yesterday I was at another company talking with this fellow I’ve known for several months. I asked him how he and his family were doing. His eyes moistened as he told me about his seventy-six year old mom coming here from Honduras to have cancer surgery on her face. He told me how brave she had been to undergo an eleven-hour surgery and now daily radiation treatments. I put my hand on his arm and we had for a second this bond of connection that confirmed our human frailty.

I can remember so well how much I thought of myself as a young up and coming manager. I most likely needed two trips to my office each day, the second just to get my big head inside the door. There was a life altering moment that I remember so well. I was constantly being reminded how fortunate I had been to become one of the youngest managers in the company, especially when so many others had waited so long. Eventually I tired of hearing this and rebelled against that thought and begin to tell people that I had worked for it and earned it, indicating that I deserved it. Something about that shift from my recognition of my progress as being a result of a blessing as opposed to it being deserved brought about a huge hit on my life. For way too long that arrogance militated against me seeing myself and others in the way God would have me to. This attitude created huge problems in my life. However, as God would have it, thankfully, in due time, I, like the prodigal, came to my senses one day, and returned to seeing all that I had as being provided by Him. Where was this change of heart most obvious? In my appreciation for people, every person, from the fellow who checked my badge in the morning to the young guy pushing a cart filled with reports being delivered. They were just like me. They were just like the huge black guy concerned about the weather or the Hispanic fellow tearing up about his mom. May God help us all to see folks the way He does and to respond accordingly. Amen. Have a blessed Saturday and Lord's Day Sunday and Lord willing we'll see you next time on this same station! …..More later.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Busy straining gnats and swallowing camels!

Good Thursday morning and welcome one and all to the latest from your field reporter here on duty observing the obvious, and making obscure that which is clear and staying busy at it on this November 5, 2009. I suppose for many it will seem as if the world is back in sync after the Yankees won their 27th World Series last night. They are one of those teams that everyone loves to hate but it always seems out of place when they are not the champions. I hate it when it works that way. Many golf fans say they love the sport but when Tiger is out of contention they had just as soon watch reruns on QVC. We are a funny lot with all kinds of idiosyncrasies, or have you noticed? Truth is, I may not notice mine nearly as much as yours but that doesn't mean we all aren't weird in our own way. I'm not sure my wife could eat her rice and gravy without stirring it up in a very deliberate and specific manner. She has been doing this exactly this way ever since I've known her. I don't do mine that way and there have been times when I would be frustrated enough to ask: "Are you finished stirring that rice yet?"

Isn't it just like us to become irritated over stuff that does not amount to a hill of beans? I mean if she wants to stir her rice into a pudding, why should something like that cause me any grief? We are blessed because after nearly forty five years as a couple we've learned to laugh together over our different quirks. But it is so easy for any of us to make mountains out of mole hills and cause trouble over meaningless and insignificant things. You most likely have things that drive you up the wall. One of mine is to be in line at the grocery store and have a lady with a huge basket of groceries who only decides to get interested in paying after everything is processed. (I've never seen a man do this!) Finding her checkbook or bank card then becomes a major search activity. She had been standing there for ten minutes but it never dawned on her that eventually she would need to pay? Some folks are wired differently but the real question is why should I allow her response to make me angry or ruin my day. If she were to follow me around she would no doubt find a few dozen reasons to question how I operate.

The good news for her is typically she is not bothered by her lack of attention to detail and she leaves happy and I leave with a red face and increased blood pressure. Silly? It is but we all tend to go off the deep end over next to nothing. The Bible tells us this: "....bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you." (Colossians 3:13) I don't mind so much the admonition about forgiving and all of that but the example of how we should do this really convicts. How is it that we should bear with others and forgive them? In the same way that the Lord forgave you and I! We did not deserve any consideration at all, but He, by His grace, loved us, died for us, and forgave us. Now that is what I call a tall order but it couldn't be more clear. That's some pretty heady stuff for early on a Thursday morning but being forearmed by knowing this in advance is always better than wishing you could have a do over at the grocery store check out lane, or at the traffic signal, or the drive through at the fast food place, or the white hair driving that car so slowly, and we could go on and on and on. Oh by the way, do you have to keep making that clicking sound with your teeth? Have a blessed day and remember we all suffer from the same condition: The Human Condition! Amen. .....More later.