Friday, February 26, 2010

You are kidding, right? Our baby is 39?

Good morning and welcome to Friday, yes, FRIDAY, that's when most folks breathe a sigh of anticipation as they look forward to Saturday and Sunday. When people used to act that way around me I would ask what was going on. They would give me the TGIF story and I would fain ignorance. Why? Because in my way of looking at it, Friday is the day after Thursday and it is also the day before Saturday, but every day in and of itself is a day that God has given to us and we should be making the most of each one of them for His honor and glory. But, it is February 26, 2010, and we are contemplating our baby boy's birthday tomorrow, February 27. He will be 39 and that does seem surreal, whatever surreal means. Back in 1971 we were still adjusting to our move from rural Louisiana. I came over to the metro-plex in October 1969 and Marilyn, Chris, and Jimmy joined me in January 1970. Talk about a transition! We moved into an apartment and then later in the year bought our first home, brand new, 3 bedrooms 1-1/2 baths, for just under $17,000. Can you spell the word i-n-f-l-a-t-i-o-n? Our other two boys had been delivered in a country hospital by a general practitioner. In the big city we had to have an obstetrician. Hello? I'm not sure our doctor back in Louisiana even knew what that was. Just kidding.

But everything about this new experience was different and even the day our Rodney was born was remarkably different for us. Marilyn was getting fairly close and her mom was here staying with us. We carried her in on Saturday morning for a check-up and during the exam the doctor told her that he was going to be out of town the next week and asked if she wanted to be induced or have another physician deliver in his absence. Options. Our previous experiences had been when nature took its course which meant several false alarms and all of that but give that to me one more time. At any rate, I left the hospital to take my mother-in-law and the boys back to our home and by the time I returned they escorted me up to a window to see my brand spanking new baby boy. That's my baby? That's my boy? I didn't even get to do the pacing forth and back in the waiting room? Are you sure? That, my dear friends, is the story of how our Rodney Darrell came into the world.

You've heard about people who do a whole lot of living in their lifetime. Our Rodney has been doing a whole lot of living ever since he got here. He almost hit the ground running. He was our baby and still is, even at 39. His brothers will attest to what it means to have to deal with the spoiled baby in the family. He almost immediately picked up on being an entertainer. He had a winsome personality even in the crib and hasn't turned loose of it yet. I can tell you our three boys are all different but different in good ways. Rodney has always had a magnetic kind of magic about him that draws others to him. I think my wife believes he reflects some of her qualities in this area. I'll have to get back to you on that. He was our boy singer in our family singing group. He was the stand up comedian at our family reunions. He was a handful just about every step of the way but God has been good and His grace has showered itself on Rodney's life. Today he has a wonderful wife, three beautiful children, a good job, a wonderful Church, and hundreds of friends. He's still learning and since I talk to him nearly every day I can tell you that God is at work as he thinks through decisions and tries to reason out God's will for him and his family. Dynamic, unique, and filled with potential, we pause to wish our Rodney a happy birthday and send a prayer of thanksgiving to God for him on his special day. May God bless our baby on his 39th birthday! Amen. See you on the flip side as they say and my guess is there will be: .......more later.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Reality Check: Thursday's Roundup.

Good morning once again and welcome. It is Thursday, February 25, 2010. Writing blogs can be a challenging exercise. Take for instance the title. I worked in public relations once for the government and one of the drafted service guys was a headline writer who had previously worked for a major newspaper. Fancy that. What do you do for living? Oh, I am writer. Wow! What kind of writing do you do? Headlines. Hello? Talk about your short story! Is that it, is that all you do? Yes, that is it. He told me once about how the headline was super important in drawing people's attention to the story. Once he did his job, the reporter was then on their own, to either keep or lose the attention of the reader. By the way, today's headline has nothing to do with what I am writing about and the same goes for the fact that what I am writing about has nothing to do with the headline. When you are doing a blog filled with the kind of random junk I work on, well, it will take more than a good headline to draw someone's interest. And, I happen to like today's title, so that's how it made it to the top of the page.

Today is the big summit called by the President of the United States to negotiate potential health care solutions with that foreign power called the Republicans. I understand this to be one of those 'beer summit' kind of meetings where much is made of the pomp and circumstance, while little, next to nothing, or nothing at all gets done. They tell me that each side is working behind the scenes to figure out what the other side is trying to accomplish. The President has already laid out his most recent shot at what they are calling a plan and he also is threatening to pass it with or without Republican votes. They can do that with something called the reconciliation provision. That's a provision whereby the Senate can pass stuff without requiring a super-majority, therefore, it would require only 51 votes to pass. They have more than 51 Democrats, therefore, they can pass whatever it is they want to, using this procedure. That makes one wonder why this so called health care summit is even being held. Could it be stage craft? Posturing? How about a good old game of gotcha? I sure hope that foreign group of Republicans know what they are walking into. By most accounts President Obama did pretty well in their last toe to toe meeting and that's pretty much why this one is being held. If he can show that he reached out, real or imagined, and those mean old Republicans refused to pay ball, well, that supposedly might help him a little out there in poll land where he and his administration are taking a beating. That is kind of a reality check sort of report, isn't it? I hate it when I carefully choose a title with nothing in mind and then it ends up being connected.

After the smoke clears there will be an endless array of assessments about winners and losers. Okay, I know this will sound cynical but us amateur pundits have to go there some time. Here goes: At the end of this competition I can tell you who will not be receiving a medal and on the podium: The ordinary citizen of the United States of America. I can also tell you who will ultimately pay for this summit, the bells and whistles, the hoopla, and the horse that it all rode in on: The ordinary citizen of the United States of America. I am very aware that one could easily become a nattering naybob and naysayer of negativity but I can't see myself as being this way. Yes, I am sick and tired of being sick and tired of the antics and shenanigans of those who supposedly represent us in Washington, including all parties and stripes. But, as you well know, we who believe in God and have our faith in Him continue to know that He will work all of these things out according to His will and purpose, in His own good time. That's what keeps me seeking out neat headlines and naybobbing for nuggets of news as I face the blank stare of the page (screen) each day. We can be clear in our discontent with those who would misuse and abuse our trust, while at the same time being positive in our confidence that God is in control. Now that's a reality check we can believe in! Amen. ......More later.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Welcome to wordy Wednesday!

Good morning and welcome to the continuing saga of yours truly as we measure life through the sands of time, or something like that, or maybe not that at all, but how in the world are you any way on this cool-ish Wednesday morning, February 24, 2010? It's about 35 degrees outside as I sit in my warm cozy office slapping my little fat fingers on my keyboard. We had us one genuine snow storm yesterday, that is, if you mean how it came down like a fogging machine, however, none of it stuck, much to the chagrin of kids from one to 99. I exclude myself in that wishing it had because I have too many places to go and too many people to see to have something like a late winter or early Spring snow to slow me down. I will tell you this. The snowflakes were huge. Some said they were as large as a 50 cent piece. They were beautiful, of course, and large enough and heavy enough to splat when they hit my windshield. I saw one lady stopped at a convenience store and her little boy was leaning out the back window face up enjoying the rare taste of snow. He was having a ball.

I think they are predicting a light freeze tonight and I saw one forecast that said we were having yet another cold spell headed our way next week. I may not enjoy the cold like I did before my bones began being so noisy but I will take it any day over the hot, humid stuff that tends to dominate our calendar. I heard someone talking about how much people enjoy living in climates that are fairly steady and mild throughout the year with little to no change in seasons. Not me! I love the anticipation of the seasonal changes and all the tradition and baggage each one carries with it. Finding a spot that is more or less near perfect year round? That almost sounds un-American to me. Now I might reconsider that statement if you define near perfect to be year round temps no higher than 50. But that's not what most people talk about when they wish for Hawaii like breezes. I would have to question living on an Island that has an interstate highway system. What's up with that?

But regardless of the weather,"Neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night stays these courageous couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." You thought this was the slogan of the U. S. Postal Service, didn't you? It actually is a saying attributed to Herodotus in 500 B.C. His comment was directed towards a small cadre of mounted message carriers that provided vital information between commanders during war time. A spokesperson for the U. S. Postal Service reports that the service actually has no official slogan, although the one mentioned above was engraved on one of the huge postal buildings many years ago, and the rest, as they say, is history. I suppose having that become your De facto slogan is better than the road worker leaning on his shovel next to a slow men working sign. At any rate, we all can identify with trying to meet expectations, real or imagined. Thus far about the only one I appear to be achieving has to do with continuing to wax on and on even when I have nothing to say. Like today, for instance. I did get a number of comments about my chin bobbing report from yesterday and I am glad so many were able to laugh a little to start their day. Hey, we have plenty of stuff that's not that funny. Right? Have a great day and may God bless each one. Amen. .......More later.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Chin bobbing for z-z-z-z-z!

It's Tuesday, February 23, 2010, and I am officially confused. So what else is new? I am beginning to remember my grandfather's stories about unexplained cold snaps back in the day. Here we are just about ready to go into March and we are flirting with another round of freezing temperatures. The official word from Al Gore is this all happened because of global warming. Also the year when it was unusually warm when we didn't think we even had winter, that was also caused by global warming. That's also the likely reason that the Colts lost the Superbowl, global warming. I suppose you can't argue with a fellow who has become by some estimates the first green czar billionaire. That, my friend, is a whole lot of green, no matter how you account for it. But these are some interesting days we are living in and since it's the only days we have right now, then we need to do our best to make the best of them. They are getting away from us and as they do we can see the ravages of age and time. My wife says that over the last year or so I tend to fall asleep when I get comfortable even when we are visiting our children. She says she is used to seeing me that way but they are not, one moment talking and the next they see me with my mouth open and think maybe I've suffered a really bad attack or something. She wonders why suddenly I find it necessary to take a snooze when I never did before. Good question, I suppose global warming may be behind it because I've not had to deal with it in the past.

I will admit to being a little more tired than normal of late and with good reason, burning the candle at both ends and in the middle and all of that. My sudden onset snore fest was so obvious Sunday at our Brittany's birthday celebration that my eldest son strongly recommended my wife drive us home. In fact, he insisted. I thought about getting her to take a photo but now that I am scaring the children there's no use giving me the heebie-jeebies too. I remember how those Geritol commercials used to make me smile as they promised a cure for tired blood but I wonder if that stuff is still available. Back when I was a kid I think one of the fellows in our community liked Geritol because of the alcohol content but I never noticed it making him any more spry or active. We always talk about little children experiencing growing pains, maybe I'm experiencing growing older pains. Go figure. I can remember how my grandfather would wake up from a short nap and try to act as if he had never dozed off. He would grab his paper up to his face or say something to try and rejoin the conversation. It was always good for a laugh but now I find out I am a one man entertainment center in a macabre sort of way.

I do find myself drinking one of those Monster, low calorie, low carb, drinks that supposedly wake you up in the afternoons especially if I am out driving around. You might get by with sleep walking now and then but sleep driving really has a very low percentage for survival. Typically, the first thing I say when I wake up while sitting in a chair somewhere is to announce that I was not sleeping. Like my wife's grandmother who always denied falling asleep, she would go to the mat in defending herself as only resting her eyes. Wow! This global warming stuff is really serious. It's begun to impact the rhythm of my life and I'm none too pleased about it. Maybe Al Gore can help. Has anyone seen or heard from him lately? It seems like ever since this winter has broken all the records and the so-called scientific evidences for warming are coming apart at the seams, he's no where to be found. Maybe he has resorted to hibernation to save energy and with the weather all mixed up he missed his wake up call. Just kidding. My boys tell me they hate it when words come out of their mouths and their ears hear their dad speaking. Hey, it's even worse to be found imitating Paw Paw Mac as his chin bobbed in sweet slumber. But, I will tell you that he was a giant of a good and Godly man and I could do worse. Have a great day and may God bless. Amen. .....More later.

Monday, February 22, 2010

We recognize our need of God in this matter!

Hello out there in blogger land, welcome to Monday, and also to February 22, 2010. Our local fellowship of people in our congregation have asked me and six other men to help lead out in the process of finding God's man to become our new Senior Pastor (our Shepherd). I was on the pulpit committee that brought our most recent pastor to us, over 25 years ago. Brother Mike resigned last November and we are now ready to proceed with the next phase of God's plan for us. What a tremendous responsibility and what an humbling privilege to be asked to assist in this undertaking. As in all things, God's word coupled to our faith informs our actions in this area. The men I am serving with are true servants. They and I desire one thing and one thing only, to see God's chosen leader to become our designated leader for our learning and development, and for the furtherance of the Kingdom of God. Sure, there are many thoughts and opinions that surround such a significant decision, we are Baptists after all. In the end, in our form of Church government, the local congregation will have the final say. However, we on this committee have been charged with the responsibility to seek God's face and to bring our recommendation to our people.

There are many things we involve ourselves in that we consider to be important. Stuff relating to our family, our work, and our personal business are serious priorities that require time and attention. But I can't think of anything more serious than the called out assembly (The Church), and her leadership as outlined in The Scriptures. There are many different viewpoints on how leaders should be recognized, qualified, and chosen, but in the end, our desire is to have God's man to be the one we have as our Pastor. In the meeting where this committee was chosen, one of the men stood up and talked about how crucial it was to have the right man leading our Church. He said it has to do with truth and not just truth but the truth of God that impacts the lives of every person who comes through our doors. He went on to share how this emphasis on truth can and will make a difference in the lives of our children and their children. It is a matter of eternal consequence. That, my friend, is not only an accurate portrayal, it also again points out the importance of this matter.

Someone jokingly said to me that since my last time chairing this type of a committee brought someone who lasted for 25 years, all I need to do is to do it again so that we will have another 25 year run. Let me tell you how I see it. If we go through a process that fixes us on God's choice and His will, then regardless of who it is, regardless of who likes it and doesn't, and even regardless of the outcomes, if it is God's choice we will be okay, one way or the other! Believe me, I feel the weight of this responsibility and it does drive me to my knees. I know the other fellows on the committee have the same response. Some might think we are overstating the seriousness of this matter. Yet, when we consider that it has to do with God's Kingdom and the opportunity to reach out to a lost and dying world, yes, it is that serious. Therefore, someone suggested I write a blog requesting prayer for our work. Now you have read about this work that we are engaged in and I humbly ask that whoever you are and wherever you are, that you would pray that we would follow God's leadership, period, end of story. Meanwhile, I ask that God would bless us all as we seek to serve Him with the life and the opportunities He has given to each of us. Amen. ......More later.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Happy Birthday to our Brittany!

Good Friday morning on this February 19, 2010. We are celebrating our Brittany's birthday this coming Sunday. She is the second daughter of three to our eldest son Chris. She will be 19 years young. When the Apostle Paul described this life as going so fast that it is like a puff of smoke, he could well have used the example of how that you hold a lovely baby girl in your lap one day and next thing you know she is in college. Wow! One of the most interesting things to observe in our little clan is just how different we all are. I use the term different advisedly because many might say weird instead. However, we have such a beautiful variety of offspring with their offspring and now with great grand offspring that it's like a mixed bouquet of exotic flowers. In Brittany's case she is a one of a kind. Hey, I think they are all that way. But she is a young lady who more or less goes about her business with very little fuss or fanfare. This is a little unusual for our bunch where drama seems at times to be the order of the day.

Brittany is a hard worker. She is a caring person. She takes care of business. Going to school and working a very busy part time job is not easy and I do notice the tiredness she carries at times. However, I've not heard her say anything about it. She more or less just does her thing. She also loves her family. She is somewhat of a daddy's girl in many ways and come to think about it, she seems to warm up to her MiMi as well. I don't feel bad about that because she has been such a special child to us. She was our second grandchild and did she ever have a tough act to follow. When our first, her older sister Tiffany, was born, most people thought we had pretty much lost it. I think the word overboard would have been an understatement. Brittany came into the world trying to find her place among these folks who were still using training wheels in how to be reasonable grandparents. But like she has always done, she found her own special voice and found her niche, and brought us so many days of joy while growing into the lovely young woman she is today.

Our three boys were about as different as three boys can be. Brittany and her two sisters have followed that same pattern. What is really neat is to see the strengths and special qualities that do come out of these differences. We are thankful to God to be Brittany's grandparents and we wish her a most wonderful 19th birthday. Lord willing we hope to be there this Sunday to celebrate her special day with her and the rest of our family. May God bless Brittany and know that your MiMi and Poppy love and appreciate you! I also hope and pray that all those who read my blog will enjoy their Saturday and Lord's Day Sunday. I've found the best way to do this is to find a place where God's people gather and join in the worship of God and the study of His Word. See you next time and may God bless each one. Amen. .......More later.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Happy Birthday and Goodbye to 787 Billion (with a B)!

We are living in some trying times, don't you think? Welcome to another edition of my myopic views of the events and circumstances that make up our days. I do hope you and yours are doing well on this Thursday, February 18, 2010. I don't know if you had a chance to celebrate the first annual commemoration of the signing of the 787 billion dollar stimulus bill or not. I do know that President Obama and his team have been going all out to make it look as if this astronomically huge amount of red ink was just what the doctor ordered. However, many of the folks back home, who are down in the trenches, can't find anything good to say about it. Some call it the porkulus bill and others say the numbers they have reported on how many jobs were created or saved are impossible to prove, therefore, even within the government agencies there seems to be huge differences in the estimates. I heard one fellow saying it's like buying a very expensive golf club and telling everyone it hasn't improved your score but you would hate to think how much worse your score might be had you not purchased it. Hello? We may have been born at night but it certainly wasn't last night.

Now we are told that any criticism of the President and his policies are a threat to our national security and, oh yeah, saying bad things about his performance has to be racially motivated because he is, after all, our first black president. I thought President Clinton demanded that designation for himself. I saw a CNN poll yesterday that said for the first time a majority of those polled do not want President Obama to have a second term. Perhaps he and his team would have been better off focusing on the people's business instead of junkets all over the world and trying to rewrite 100 years of social policy. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and yes my friends, it is still the economy, stupid! Which I believe was the Bill Clinton quote against George H. W. Bush back when they were competing for Presidential Gold. I know many of you don't pay that close attention to all of this but I do, and believe me, it does matter. I have noticed that after President Obama took office, what started out as almost a party time in the press briefings each week has turned very sober and somber. Don't get me wrong, they still spend more time blaming others than almost anything else but their satirical little one liners have quit working because no one is laughing anymore.

Where does this leave you and I as well as the other nearly 309 million Americans? Sadly, for literally millions it leaves them with no job, no income, and little prospects at this time. The good news is not to be found in what the Republicans have to offer or what the Independents might say they would do. The good news is God is still God and He knows all about it. We can be sure of His care and His working on behalf of His own as He works out His perfect plan and purpose here on the planet. Every day one side or the other claims victory but I am reminded of that meeting that Joshua had with the Captain of the Hosts on the eve of approaching Jericho. This was none other than God manifested in this larger than life figure. Joshua was stunned and asked whose side was this mighty warrior on. The response was clear: He had not come to take sides, He had come to take over. (Joshua Chapter 5) The grand old spiritual song encourages us to give up and let Jesus take over and He'll find a way for us. Let's not kid ourselves, these are very difficult times for many people and especially families with children. Yet, we who know the Lord can get up and go everyday because we know that He, in one way or another, will make a way for us! Amen. ......More later.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

This is why working without a net is so dangerous!

It is Wednesday, February 17, 2010 and I am grasping for a good topic this morning. I know what you are thinking. Being unable to find a good topic has never kept me from pounding on the keyboard before. I read a quote the other day that said, "Show me a man who is a good loser and I'll show you a man who plays golf with his boss." We would have to say that we all do spend a fair amount of time choosing our words and actions carefully around certain people. We've been doing that our entire lives. I can remember one episode back in the day when my mom was away one evening taking a typing course up at the local high school. My grandmother was out of town and we kids were left there with my grandfather. We were acting very reserved and quiet but when he went to take his evening bath, I and my brother Donald and baby sister Kayla decided to turn the living room furniture into a diving competition. We were very careful to make sure he was in the bathroom but my grandfather had a sixth sense about things and you might know that while I was in mid air off the end of the sofa he caught me with that huge wide belt about three times before I landed on the cushions. There he stood all red faced and holding his khakis together with one hand. Even in mid air I came to fully realize that thinking you have someone fooled is certainly different than having someone fooled. Ouch!

But let's face it, we do play our little games, don't we? I read this past week some input from folks who were discussing the role of gossip in our world today. Some said there is good gossip and then there is bad gossip. Good gossip is likely untrue but it's not hateful or degrading. It's just fun stuff. Bad gossip is the kind that picks on people and runs them down. These were young people talking about the information that flies forth and back on Facebook but I didn't see any comments about telling the truth. The Bible has much to say about this subject. Jesus said that we should let our yes be yes and our no be no and anything more than this comes from the evil one. (See Matthew 5:37, the Sermon on the Mount.) Ouch again even without Paw Paw Mac's big belt! We are also instructed not to show partiality among people. This, of course, does not mean we are not to give honor to those who deserve that honor, but we are to be genuine in our communication and interaction with all people based on respect and consideration.

Being tactful is also a part of our calling since needlessly hurting someone for no good reason would be cruel. The late Dr. Adrian Rogers pointed out that finding good wholesome words to express truth in communicating with people based on a Godly concern for them is much better than to call it like it is in order to humiliate and shame them. Finding the balance is where we slip and slide around most of the time. We've all been around people who drive us up the wall in how they flatter and fawn over the boss when they are in the room. Often these very same people say terrible things about the boss behind their back. Do we, in one way or another, do the same thing? There are actual learning tools available that teach one how to suck up to the boss without appearing to suck up to the boss. How sad. But if we are not careful we can fall into the trap of playing word games ourselves especially as it relates to certain people we seek to have on our side. (See James Chapter 2 regarding showing partiality.) My philosophy, that is, when I have my head screwed on right, and my heart in the right place, is to allow my word to be my bond, and allow my work to speak for itself. That doesn't keep me from always wondering what score I would have gotten on that masterful dive except I would probably have never heard it for all the screaming. I was very glad it wasn't Kayla, but it could have been Donald and we would have all learned the same lesson. Have a blessed day! Amen. ....More later.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Now I have an excuse for why my clothes don't match!

With all due respect to Shakespeare and Julius Caesar, I bid you an invitation: "Friends, Americans, and countrymen, lend me your eyes." on this Tuesday, February 16, 2010. A funny thing happened on my way to growing older. Now that's a category I could not have dreamed as being anywhere on my radar screen just a few years ago. However, there are so many reminders from my close relatives like Uncle Arthur (Arthritis), Cousin Bursi (Bursitis), and a whole host of similar friends and neighbors that make a lot of noise to remind me that I am moving on down the road. My mom who will soon be 86 tells me about a particular ache or pain and I can easily understand from experience what she is talking about! What's up with that? I should be happy I've yet to get the cell phone call from my wife telling me to be careful because some nut driving a vehicle like mine is going the wrong way on the freeway. And, she has not yet heard me respond by saying how that news was nothing since where I was driving I was actually meeting hundreds of idiots also going the wrong way. Not yet. There is always something to be thankful for!

Last week we donated to a local charity, or rather we junked, some small appliances and some computer equipment. There were three old personal computer monitors. I'm talking about the old ones that occupy over half the top of your desk. They were located upstairs. The pickup point was out on the front porch area. This required these units to be moved from upstairs to the pickup point. I did the moving part but one of the three was extremely heavy weighing about the same as a small refrigerator. However, one of the things that happens to you when you get older is how you forget to remember what you might ought not to do. Getting that monitor off the floor was a real challenge but that was nothing compared to negotiating it down the stairs. I made it and they did pick it all up and I was glad. However, when you have the wear and tear I've accumulated you will surely notice how that doing something like that becomes the gift that keeps on giving. Why did you have to go and get your hips all stirred up? Why did you have to figure out if you could still experience lower back pain? Or as my companion of nearly 46 years would say: "What were you thinking?"

Part of the key to being able to keep it all in perspective is in keeping a good sense of humor. I can be happy that I have yet to reach the point where a night out does not always mean sitting outside on the porch after dark. I can be happy because I haven't reached the point where I've given up all my bad habits and still feel terrible. I can be happy because at least thus far it doesn't take me longer to rest than it does for me to get tired, although I can see this as a coming attraction. I know the old advice about one being only as old as they feel. Hey, that's a non-starter for me, especially after doing my audition for heavy lifting last week. How about being young at heart? That would be a really good one if I could only remember what it was like when I felt younger. Just kidding. There are many advantages to being granted a long life. One of the greatest has to do with how it gives us longer to serve the Lord and influence others with the knowledge and experience God has given to us. It also gives us so much more to talk about which you will notice I take full advantage of each and every day. Quoting Tiny Tim from A Christmas Carol: "God bless us, everyone!" Amen. ......More later.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Living based on unseen realities!

Another day and another opportunity to get it right on this Monday, February 15, 2010. That's right. I need another day, every single day, in fact, to try and do better in whatever it is I am engaged in. I heard coming in this morning that while most people who have jobs are thankful for their jobs, there are some 45% of us who are unhappy in the particular position we have. I suppose the good news might be that some 55% are not unhappy but that still leaves nearly half of the folks holding down a job who have issues with it. Some of this unhappiness most likely relates to pay since many companies have been more or less frozen during this continuing recession. It's also very true that most places are requiring more and more from their employees as they attempt to stay afloat during this difficult and stormy period we are going through. I also am very aware that many folks work in very difficult environments that cause stress and distress on them.

For me, I start with being so very thankful to be able to have a place to go each day and to be able to do what I do. I actually wish I could do more to help my company to move forward but I am very thankful to be able to help out where I can. This includes doing some things that are not my cup of tea and it also includes having to stretch now and then to cover a particular responsibility. I believe there's an element of recognizing God's providence in where we are that makes waking up each day somewhat easier as we give Him thanks for His provisions. Yesterday our Bible study class began looking at the life and times of Joseph, favored son of Jacob, as found in the Book of Genesis. Nearly everyone is familiar with this famous character who had the famous coat of many colors. However, it is amazing to dissect the details in how God was at work in all the decisions made, good and bad, all the difficulties encountered, as He went about the fulfilling of His plan and purpose even as regular folks went about their daily living.

This to me is a remarkable indication of how God takes care of His own. He had promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob particular blessings and while they appeared to be out of reach so often in their daily pursuits, God never left them and He never forsook them as He continued to work out His purpose in providing His promises to them. Think about it. You and I as believers have so many promises that belong to us and just like Joseph God is at work to carry out His word to us. Our problem is that we often become distracted and disabled because of our circumstances or a particular trying time we face. We also tend to think of God's promises as being in the here after instead of them being the source of our daily pursuit in the here and now. We await our final destination but He and His promises to us are real every step of our journey, including the life we have, the work we do, and everything else that concerns us. Joseph's brothers did what they did to him because of their hatred. They intended to do him harm. God intended their evil to be turned into salvation for His chosen people. We have the same God and the same promises today. Therefore, we can affirm His presence in our lives by singing with the kids: "Rise and shine and give God the glory, Children of the Lord!" Amen. ......More later.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Demonstrating true love and devotion.

Good Friday morning and welcome to my daily digest on this February 12, 2010. This year our celebration of Valentine's Day occurs on this upcoming Sunday. There will be an estimated one billion cards given to celebrate this day devoted to love, making it second only to Christmas with an estimated 2.5 billion cards. While many connect it to a Catholic Priest, Saint Valentine, the history of this celebration is steeped in legend, therefore, no one knows for certain its specific connection to an individual bearing the name Valentine. One story says a young priest by the name of Valentine was imprisoned some 1500 years ago and while in prison he fell in love with the prison keeper's daughter who brought him his food each day. This led him to write a love letter to her which he signed: Your Valentine. Sounds like this would be a good plot for a game show or maybe one of those reality programs that everyone talks about. At any rate, a lady named Esther Howland is credited with producing the first commercial valentine's card here in the U.S. in the 1840's. I am sure that Hallmark has a special place in their hearts for this lady!

I've tried to remember my earliest recollection concerning sharing valentines with classmates but it is all rather fuzzy to me. It seems I do remember my mom buying us the packages with all the cards and maybe even recall us making some cards. I do remember that we were instructed to have a card for every person, that is, every girl for every boy, and every boy for every girl in our class. That was pretty scary because even as a kid I didn't feel like giving every one of the girls a card. There's no telling what kind of rules apply in our politically correct world today. I don't even want to think about all the stipulations that would have to be thought of to make sure no one was left out. It seems like we helped some of our grand kids do some cards several years ago but in today's world where lawsuits await any and every slight, one would have to be very careful what the card said and to whom it was addressed. Oh for the good old days when my cheeks were on fire just having to hand a card out to the girls in my class!

Some complain about the expectation implied by the day set aside to honor love. That is, if you don't get your sweetheart a special valentine's gift, well, this would be bad news, especially for the guys. To be honest, I have never had a problem doing something to recognize the special girl, who, God in His providence, (What God has joined...Mark 10:9), gave to me so many years ago. One day does not tell the story, however, but it should give us all an opportunity to express our love that hopefully we demonstrate throughout the year. Showing this type of respect is consistent with biblical teaching. "Husbands love your wives in the same way Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for the Church." (My translation of Ephesians 5:25) A box of candy and a fancy card will never meet the test of this verse but an expression of devotion and love accompanied by actions and deeds that reflect the truth in this verse is not only appropriate, it is what God has called us men to do. For the ladies, in the same passage, the Apostle instructs them to show proper reverence and respect to their husbands. (Ephesians 5:33) This denotes his position within the marriage and ladies should accompany their expressions of love on this special day by actions that reflect their calling by God. I do thank God for my good wife, Marilyn, and for the stack of Valentine greetings He has allowed me to give to her. Thanks Sweetheart, and always remember, "Baby, you're still the greatest!" Amen. .......More later.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Thank the Lord the snow has grounded those who mostly give us a "snow" job!

Good morning and welcome to our brand new, very rainy and cold, Thursday, here on this February 11, 2010. It is very hard not to become cynical in the very divided country that we live in. The blizzard in Washington D.C. has essentially shut down the federal government. That may be the best news for us all because at least they are unable to meet and pass laws whether intended or unintended that end up limiting our personal freedoms and growing the presence and control of government over our individual pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness. Now some would say that is a very cynical, narrow minded, and perhaps even pessimistic view of the God ordained role of government. While that conclusion may have some merit I've reached a point where gridlock is a better outcome than our becoming a socialist nation. Viewpoints and philosophy have consequences. More and more information continues to come out about the people who are currently in control of our government. This information portrays a consistent mindset that believes government is the solution to all our problems, therefore, one would expect the kinds of executive orders, proposed legislation, and approaches that we have seen. Given this huge disconnect from those who champion the individual versus those who promote a nanny state, there's little wonder that consensus is not only illusive but perhaps beyond reach.

The politics are typically going to be ugly no matter who is in power. However, I cannot remember a time in my nearly 64 years where the lines are drawn with such bold distinctions. Generally speaking, I am very disappointed with those I've traditionally supported to the extent that I could easily join in the ancient curse of wishing "A pox on all their houses." Why? Because we are more and more becoming a people who could easily use the rallying cry from our founding: "Taxation without representation." The government as it operates today is not only corrupt but it is a carrier of corruption that tends to infect any and all who come near. We find good solid candidates, support them, and send them to Washington. Within a short period of time they become insiders and we, the people, become outsiders. They no doubt did much early on to fight this infection but the longer they stay it is the more acute this disposition controls them. We end up being faced with choosing which insiders are the lesser of all evil insiders. Now that my friend is a cynical viewpoint and I readily confess to holding it. Does this mean I am downhearted and discouraged? Absolutely not!

I have all my hopes, dreams, and aspirations tied to my faith in Creator God who will in His own good time take care to make all things right. He is with us regardless of the party in power. He can intervene according to His own good purpose and yes, I have read the back of The Book, and we win! The Psalmist said that some trust in their chariots and some trust in their horses, but we will remember the Name of the Lord our God! (Psalm 20:7) I believe that God will make a way where there seems to be no way. I believe that all powers great and small are subject to His Sovereign control. Therefore, I stay engaged, I continue to exercise my right to express my opinions, and I continue to participate in the political process because government is ordained by God. They tell us that our nation is basically divided on nearly a 50-50 basis. One half wants cradle to grave government control while the other wants to uphold the individual as being key in building our future. And there are all types of variations within these camps. In the end, I want to be on God's side of the argument where we join with Joshua in proclaiming this: "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." (Joshua 24:15) Amen. .....More later.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Speaking truth and light to a world filled with lies and darkness!

Hello again friends, neighbors, and extended family, both by birth and by new birth, welcome to Wednesday, February 10, 2010 where I bring you the news from my neck of the woods, that is, the news as I see it. They used to call the late Dale Earnhardt Sr., legendary NASCAR racer, the intimidator, therefore, perhaps I should be called the opinionator. But think about it, we all have our way of looking at things, evaluating what we hear and see, and then coming up with what we conclude as a result. I would hope that our faith informs us first and foremost. The other day I was once again reminded of how one's philosophy in life can make a huge difference in the area of public policy. If a person believes that everyone is basically good then their social approach is to deal primarily with the environmental surroundings hoping to make a good person even better. However, for those of us who know ourselves to be fallen creatures, we are very much aware of how bent we are on doing wrong, from the inside out. Our experience would testify to the need for people to be changed from within through a new birth relationship with Jesus Christ who came do deal with our inherited sinfulness. (John 3:16)

Our belief in God and His saving power changes us forever. We may be called social conservatives because of our particular views on particular issues. However, it should be our views as conditioned by the truth found in God's revelation of Himself to us that causes us to view issues in the way that we do. This doesn't mean that folks always are giving God's point of view on particular issues when they claim to do so. I can remember all the Bible verses I heard growing up that supposedly supported the mistreatment of other people because of the color of their skin. No amount of loud preaching can cause these verses to support this form of wrong behavior. The Apostle Paul said that when he was a child he spoke like a child and acted like a child but when he grew up he acted in a mature and appropriate manner. (1st Cor 13:11) This is our quest: To grow in the grace and knowledge of our Savior. (2 Peter 3:18) So folks in the past and even in the present still use The Scriptures to support unbiblical views. This often leads those who want to establish behaviors that are inconsistent with God's Word to use the history of this abuse as a way of trying to throw off any and all critical comments about their aberrant ways. You and I should not lose heart. We should boldly speak the truth in love, knowing that we too are fallen and we too need God's grace.

It's tough to stand up for what we believe God's Word clearly teaches. It's naturally unpopular because the world in general rejects any and all things that constrains their evil desires. Rather than be defeated by this we should understand it for what it is and continue to love those who need to be changed by the power of God. Often folks who take a stand for biblical truth are portrayed as being holier than thou types and we can, if we are not careful, become just that. Even this should not keep us from allowing our study of God's Word and our faith in Him to inform our weighing of the culture and all that is going on around us. How can we remain humble as we seek to be bold in our standing up for God's clear principles? We can do this as we always live out our own understanding of our personal weaknesses and our knowledge of just how much we need God's mercy and forgiveness every day that we live. Jesus came into the world to serve, not to be served. We serve Him by loving and serving others in our stand for truth. (Mark 10:45) Our nation needs a consistent testimony from those who are called by the name of our Lord, that testimony should reflect the message that Jesus preached:"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."Matthew 11:28-30. Amen. .....More later.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Don't give up, with God's help, you can do it!

Okay. It is Tuesday, February 9, 2010 and I bid you welcome once again to the view from here as we seek to experience a little more winter here in these parts. How in the world are you doing, anyway? We were able to spend some quality time with our little great grand, our bundle of Madelyn Joy, this past Sunday afternoon. We were invited to our eldest's to watch the Superbowl and between MiMi and I we had a Superbowl of loving on our newest family edition. The game was exciting in spots and there were some outbursts from our little group along with huge laughter at some of the commercials. Poor little girl nearly jumped out of her skin several times. But this is the family she is a part of and I suppose she will get used to our noise soon enough. One thing is crystal clear: She is about as precious as they come and we are so thankful to God for her being here with us.

I called over to Louisiana in the waning minutes of the game to tease my brother-in-law about the Saints winning but my wife's sister answered the phone. She said they had been jumping up and down and hollering throughout the game. She sounded out of breath and a little hoarse. This puzzled me because I'm almost certain my sister-in-law is not a football person. But, think about it. Having your own home state professional team go to and then win the world championship would cause anyone to become a fan and get excited. It's like the upcoming Olympics. We may not know that much about the different winter sports but we certainly know how special it feels to see our country wearing gold on the podium. We feel that patriotic sense bubble up as we join the athletes in their pursuit along with so many other of our fellow citizens. Go USA means something and it should.

Even more so we should be encouraging and rooting for each other as we seek to run out our race in our sojourn here on the planet. That same enthusiasm that causes someone only slightly aware of football to be excited about the big game should be what we show in urging each other on in dealing with the obstacle course of life that surrounds us each day. We can be each other's cheerleader and coach as we provide positive support in making progress as God leads. The Spiritual life lived as God desires is not for the fainthearted. It is a contact sport and very difficult. We need each other. We need prayer. We need encouragement. We need help if we are to accomplish the goal set before us. As a believer, my calling may be different than yours. My challenges may be different as well. But we each one run our race for the honor and glory of God. He designed it to be an individual run but not as a loner. He desired that we provide help to one another and when we do people grow and accomplish, and God is honored and glorified. The victories may only be fully known in eternity future but we can be sure that all we do in helping others will make a difference both in the here and now, and later at that great gathering place where we will make our home in heaven, together. Amen. ....More later.

Monday, February 8, 2010

That will be a glad reunion day!

It’s Monday, February 8, 2010 and Superbowl 44 is history. There is jubilation in New Orleans and Parishes near and far throughout Louisiana. The lowly "Aints" have become the champions of the world for NFL Football and up in Indianapolis the folks are no doubt still stunned by this upset and their Monday will be one filled with second guessing and what might have been. In the midst of all of this celebration and sadness we find that our Great God is good to have given us all another week to do what we can to honor Him with the life He has given to us. Last Friday afternoon I got the urge to visit some of my loved ones, friends, and neighbors who have gone on ahead to their reward. I can visit them at a website devoted to their memory and the cemetery where their headstones mark the place their bones were buried. As I make my way through the list of names I pause to remember so many. Of course some of them, like my immediate family, were very close to me and my memory storage spills out with an overflow of sweet thoughts. I know this type of visit sounds morbid to some of you but it’s become one of those occasional trips I make that reminds me of people who have meant so much to my life.

In addition to my own folks, there are schoolteachers, Church people, school chums, and town folks that I can both see and hear as I pause at the appearance of their name. I used to run with a boy and I spent many a night sleeping over with his parents who have both passed on now. I remember eating at their supper table and wondering how folks could get by on food like that. That’s when I learned that not everyone were accomplished cooks like my Granny Mac and my mom. But those folks were always so good to me and were willing to let me tag along with their son as they went here and there. Some of the older men I remember from them sitting outside the barbershop whittling and telling stories. They pretty much entertained all of us as we waited our turn in line.

I can hear some singers in this group crooning away in their own unique voices. It almost always was off a half step or so but the lyrics came forth from a life that knew first hand what it meant to serve God and others. There are some mentors in that gathering and some encouragers too. Some names remind me of just how brief this life can be and how tragic when it is snuffed out at such a young age. The website has digital photographs of each headstone and as I go from one to the other I am reminded of a song. It is a song I heard many of the people in that place sing, and one that still speaks to my heart: Verse 1)" There will be a happy meeting in Heaven, I know, When we see the many loved ones we've known here below. Gathered on that blessed hilltop with hearts all aglow, That will be a glad reunion day. Chorus: A Glad day, a wonderful day, A Glad day, a glorious day, There with all the holy angels and loved ones to stay, That will be a glad reunion day. Verse 2) When we live a million years in that wonderful place, Basking in the love of Jesus, beholding His face. It will seem but just a moment of praising His grace, That will be a glad reunion day. Chorus: A Glad day, a wonderful day, A Glad day, a glorious day, There with all the holy angels and loved ones to stay, That will be a glad reunion day." This song was written by Adger Pace who was born in 1882. I can still sing it by heart and look forward to singing it with all those gone on ahead in the not too distant future! May God help us all to have a blessed week. Amen. …..More later.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Geaux Saints!

Good Superbowl Friday, February 5, 2010. Just for kicks, last Tuesday evening I was able to pick-up a New Orleans radio station (WWL 870 AM) on my way to, and on my way back from the inner city ministry. Talk about some folks who have gone crazy over their team! Talk about some folks who get fighting mad at the drop of a hat when they perceive the slightest of slights or criticism of their beloved Saints. It has not only taken the Crescent City by storm, the entire state of Louisiana has gone bonkers, in a good way, I suppose. My Mom even said she got a little excited when they won that big playoff game. One thing I know from experience is how the Cajun folks in South Louisiana do tend to be passionate about whatever it is they choose to be passionate about. The program I listened to was hosted by Bobby Hebert, a former pro quarterback who had played for the Saints who is a genuine Cajun thrown in for good measure. He actually has quite a long series of accomplishments as a pro player including leading the Saints to their first ever playoff game. He has been a broadcaster as well as avid Saints promoter since retiring from the game.

This was a call-in program and folks were ringing the lines from all over the country. The themes were all about how the national press coverage has been slanted in favor of Peyton Manning and the Colts and against the lowly New Orleans Saints. All kinds of conspiracies were being envisioned and most callers were hoping the Saints will use this perceived dissing as incentive to get very angry and go out and get very even. Passion was flying forth and back. Some sounded like they could cry at any moment as they blubbered on and on about how proud they are of their Saints. Many criticized Peyton Manning for being so well thought of even though in their opinion he had not really earned it like their guy, Drew Brees had. Now that is what I call a head stuck deep in the sand fan! They were also beating up on this particular Colts all pro defensive end who has been widely reported as being injured and questionable about whether he will play or not. Most callers thought these reports were nothing more than a diabolical plot to get their Saints to let down their guard and they believe this fellow will not only show up but will likely play his best because it’s all a big lie.

I am easily entertained by all of this, but it is amazing how keyed up we can become over something like a sports team. I am no longer a devoted follower of any sport but I have been in the past and I am very well aware of these sentiments being expressed by folks over in Louisiana. I can remember getting down in the floor as I strained to try to help my running back make that crucial first down. Many have commented that Louisiana needs this win and New Orleans, given the ravages of Katrina, could certainly use a boost in confidence. One way or the other, win or lose, they say they will throw a celebration party that will show the world they do know how to party. Even if they win, how long will this fleeting high last? The party will be over much too soon as it relates to any lasting sense of peace. The people who live in New Orleans, Louisiana, Indiana, and in all states, countries, dominions and domains on our globe need to recognize the God who sent His Son to die for sinners, wherever sinners exist, and if, and when we, they, anyone, responds in truth, then and only then true peace can be found. Meanwhile, I am a personal fan of Peyton Manning and the Manning family story, but feel a compelling need to join all my family and friends in Louisiana by joining the ‘Who Dat?’ Geaux Saints bandwagon! Have a great Saturday and Lord’s Day Sunday and Lord willing I’ll see you again on Monday. Amen. ….More later.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Welcome to my version of the 700 Club!

Good morning, it is Thursday, February 4, 2010 and I bring you greetings for the 700th time since starting out on this blogging journey back in the summer of 2007. You thought maybe I was promoting Pat Robertson, the televangelist and political pundit? Don’t even think such a thing. I’m sure he has done some good for the Kingdom but he certainly is not my cup of tea. I’m talking about 700 pieces of ‘not ready for prime time’ material that I have shared over these many months. I looked up 700 pages and found a variety of books that fit that number. Written on everything from health matters to recipes, they, like mine have covered a wide variety of subjects. I did not see any title that was a recognized hit and that too is very consistent with my forth and back musings put forth in these daily blogs.

Some days I find myself having to be reminded that I do not write specifically for a designated audience, I actually write to share my thoughts, ideas, and also my heart on subjects that mean something to me. I know there has to be a sense of ‘sameness’ about some of what I write. I can read a Bible lesson I wrote more than twenty years ago and it sounds mostly like what I would write today on the same passage. This doesn’t mean that I may not have a changed angle or viewpoint, but the style and wording would be somewhat the same. I do know there are many who receive my blog each day that share my basic beliefs, therefore, we can gain encouragement and a sense of togetherness as we struggle our way through the good times, the in-between times, and those times that we would rather not have to deal with. However, the fabric of life includes all of the above and we are privileged to have God on our side and each other to lean on.

I will be the first to say it takes discipline to write something every day. However, I greatly enjoy the challenge of identifying a thought, idea, or remembrance and then attempting to report on it by means of this daily communication channel. The empirical data on what it takes to build a habit is essentially all over the map. Some studies indicate it takes 21 days before a habit is formed but others indicate a huge variety of days depending on the habit being talked about. I don’t know if doing my daily blog is a habit but it certainly qualifies based on the number of days that I have done it. While I am not trying to be a smart aleck here, I will tell you there is much more swirling around those vast empty places in my mind that I have not commented on than the stuff that I have shared. Appropriateness is always a consideration and let’s face it: There are many things better not mentioned or talked about. I do appreciate those who read what I go on and on about each day. Thanks. If anyone out there was caused to pause and think or reflect or to seek God, even one time, then all 700 have been more than worth it. That reminds me of the time way back when.......….but I’ll wait for number 701 to share that story. Until then, may God bless and keep in mind this warning: There will be more later. Amen.