Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Seeing and living by the unseen during the seasons of life.

Here's the deal. It is Wednesday, March 31, 2010 and we are still scraping pollen off our cars like it is chalk dust. It's no wonder that so many people suffer from allergies at this time of year. My wife's car was clean when she left the other day but caked when she returned from Louisiana. She rinsed it off but I noticed before she got it into the garage there was already a fine spray mist of greenish yellow coating on the finish. Some of the grand kids heard me say the resin on my car came from the trees weeping. Now when they notice a fresh blob they always remind me that our pine trees are crying again. But Spring is that time of year when things begin to blossom and we change from cold to cool to warm with an expectation of hot to very hot on the horizon. It's a seasonal thing and God created it, Al Gore not withstanding, to operate the way that it does. It also is a way of marking the passage of time as we experience the seasons of life. We are not in control of where we are in the life cycle process, therefore, I don't know if I am still in autumn or early winter but I do know that time has left its markings as I make my way forward. I do know my homing instinct has become more agitated as I anticipate the day when I will finally arrive to find my dwelling place in my real home in that heavenly abode.

Life in a fallen world is mostly uphill, filled with trouble, and often painful to endure. However, the seen, the felt, and the experienced does not define my reality. It is the unseen certainties that transcends this fleeting existence and helps me to focus on God's plan and purpose. The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews, via the breathed out message of God Himself, said it this way: "1)Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2)For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. 3)By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. (Hebrews 11) No matter how many times I read these verses they still just knock me down. They speak nonsense to those who reject God but while I can not even begin to comprehend the fullness of the meaning here, these words speak peace, truth, and tranquility to my troubled mind. How can we make sense of a senseless world? How can we keep on keeping on even when confronted with troubles and trials? The only answer I have is the one given in these words from our Creator, "By faith!" That's it. That's all. That's the best I can do and it's the best any of us can do because it is God's answer to living life in a fallen world.

Those of you who know this passage know that after this profound insight at the beginning, the writer goes on to name names and give specifics about how people have lived out their lives "By faith." There are also unnamed champions of faith mentioned and then we are encouraged to emulate their example with a word picture of how they surround us with their testimony and witness. We are called on to run the race that God has given to each of us individually and that we should keep our eyes focused on our Savior as we run. Today I am thinking about those in my life that could be included in this great cloud of witnesses. My grandparents who faced horrific tragedies and overwhelming challenges, did so by living by an unseen reality of God and His sovereign grace that caused them to carry on. I think about my mom and the many earth shattering experiences in her life. I think about the God honoring glow of my baby sister's testimony as she dealt with and died from leukemia. I think about my wife's parents and their simple life lived out in their trust of God. These tell me that "By faith" I can make it, despite the difficulties, and that you can too. Regardless of your season in life, look up for your redemption draws near! Amen, Hallelujah, praise the Lord! .....More later.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I choose the mystery guest behind door number three!

Hello again friends and neighbors, welcome to another edition of "You have to be kidding!" live and in person originating from the thus far over-plumbed recesses of the thinking apparatus of yours truly on this Tuesday, March 30, 2010. I am pleased to report that my wife had a wonderful trip to visit her sister and brother. They have the closeness that folks write about but few ever really experience and while it can be a little cheesy to observe, I can assure you, it is genuine and I am so thankful they have their connections. But, as you know, she left and I was all alone. I did fulfill her volunteering me in my role as the Apostle James in a non-speaking, warm body presentation in the reenactment of the Garden of Gethsemane. It had been a long day Friday and we were at the Church property for several hours, therefore, I had little problem doing the falling asleep act while Jesus was praying. The presentation was a part of giving our teens a real taste and feel of what it was actually like in the days where Jesus gave His life as a payment for the sins of the world. It turned out to be a very rewarding experience for us all and from the response of our teens, they did get at least an inkling of the price paid by our Savior.

On Saturday I came into the office to work on my computer. It had developed a problem that needed some attention and we also were handling a huge delivery for one of our customers. Saturday afternoon I worked on finishing my lesson for Sunday and then received a call from my eldest. He said they wanted to drop by to pick up a rocking chair my wife had obtained for our granddaughter to have with our great granddaughter, our little bundle of Madelyn Joy. Guess what? They brought our little bundle of Madelyn Joy with them to fetch the rocking chair. I was later made aware that this was her first time to visit her great grandfather also known as "The Poppy". I got that name because once when our little Alex had to be in the ER I was there and they had stuck him multiple times without success and I must have given the doctor a particular stare because he said, "And, who would you be?" To this I responded, "I am The Poppy!" But, I digress. Little Maddy surprised me by coming with her grandparents. She was a little bent out of shape when she awoke to a different place but we soon had her settled down and for the next hour Poppy absorbed as much as he could. The remarkable thing is how much she is a carbon copy of her mommy and as I held her it was eerie because I could replicate doing the exact same thing with her mommy in the same house, in the same room, and it was a joy to experience our Madelyn Joy.

The unmistakable fact? You guessed it already. MiMi was gone and I was home alone. Therefore, when I talked to her later I told her that while she was away some company had come by. She asked who. I told her it really didn't matter since she wasn't here any way. I did tell her it was kind of a shame since she is so close to those who dropped by. I really had her going. She demanded to know who it was. Granny Mac used to say that curiosity killed the cat. I finally spilled the beans but realizing how this could have been disappointing to her, I used all of my skills to really pile it on. Okay, before you send letters about me being cruel, you have to know that it is all in good fun. Being a faithful reporter of the facts, I did not leave out any of the details of little Maddy's visit. I hadn't even thought about it being her first visit to our home until her MiMi mentioned it but I was willing to embrace that also as I detailed to her all of my hard work in representing the both of us in this endeavor. Enough already. Sure, she would have loved to have been there when our bundle of Madelyn Joy showed up but she also would never begrudge my time spent with her. It's all in good fun and we do enjoy laughing about stuff like this. It was so good to see her return home. She drove straight from Louisiana to the Church where we met up at the baptism. As I looked at her sitting there on the pew watching our granddaughter's baptism I put forth a prayer of thanksgiving to God for the wonderful woman He has given to me to be my wife. Hopefully when she reads that part she will overlook some of the other! Have a great day and may God add His blessings as we go on our way. Amen. .....More later.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Called to be cheerful!

Good Monday morning where I feel a little Disney coming forth on this March 29, 2010. It's that song from the 1937 animated blockbuster, 'Snow White', "Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it's off to work we go!" This was the happy song put forth by the seven dwarfs as they headed off for another day of digging. You take this tune along with the "Whistle while you work!", sung by Snow White as she did housework, and you have a pretty good idea of the kind of attitude that works well as we engage ourselves in the labor God has provided to us. Our Bibles tell us that God loves a cheerful giver and while that verse is connected to our willingness to share our financial resources, that spirit of cheerfulness is certainly a winner wherever we go. I do thank God for the desire He has given to me to get up each day and go and do what I do with a hearty and willing spirit. I do not take this for granted and I do not take this lightly. Why? Because we are surrounded with folks who dread even the thought of another day at work. They need five clocks just to urge them to think about a new day. I don't, and I have come to realize it is a blessing from God, therefore, I give Him the glory, because left to my own devices I might still be under my pillow instead of clacking away on my keyboard even on this very day!

I am not attacking those who have trouble waking up. I've been around long enough to know that we are all wired differently. One of the lessons I had to learn as a young manager is not to try and turn night people into morning people. I dictated some early morning meetings and it did not take me long to notice how I was ruining the productivity of some of my brightest staff. On the other hand, there is balance, and perhaps that biggest of all as mentioned above, is found in one's attitude. In fact, there are websites that say they can help night owls become more morning oriented people. One said to jump up when the clock goes off and turn on every light in the house. My wife is one of those hard to get up in the morning people and I dare say that trying this technique out on her would probably only happen once. After that I would be bang zoom to the moon or some other location off the planet. These websites are attempting to put forth some ideas about making adjustments and trying to meet requirements in the best way possible. My thought is we all are called to be cheerful whether we are a night owl or an early bird. My wife tells me it is hard for someone who never has this trouble to really identify with those who do, and that's why I give God the glory for His provisions while turning on all the lights for the others! Ha!

We were able to witness the baptism of our granddaughter Amanda Faith yesterday and we thank God for her salvation through Jesus Christ. Her baptism was a response of obedience to show forth the truth of what had already taken place in her inner most being, her heart. It is symbolic in a public declaration of identity with Jesus, the Christ, as she was buried in the water in the likeness of His death, and then raised up even as He was raised up, He to be seated at the right hand of the Father, and she to her new life in Christ. As I march on in this life I have a continuing burden to see all of those who are a part of our earthly family to become a part of our heavenly or eternal family. The Apostle John spoke about his children in the faith and how that nothing was of greater blessing than to see them walk faithfully before the Lord. This is how MiMi and Poppy feels about our children and grandchildren and if we live, we hope to see the same in our great grandchildren. That's part of our calling to hand down the faith that was handed down to us. Sure, they, like Amanda Faith, have to respond to God's calling, and not everyone will, but we will, with God's help, do all we can to influence our entire clan to see them saved and on their way to heaven, and to see them fulfill the life God has called them to! Have a blessed week as you sing and whistle your way through it! Amen. .......More later.

Friday, March 26, 2010

We now return to Friday's program, already in progress!

It is Friday, March 26, 2010 and when I rung the bell on a website it gave me this countdown for those eagerly awaiting Christmas: There are only 274 days, 19 hours, 28 minutes, and 39 seconds until Christmas 2010. I know you are glad I cleared that up and you can now schedule your time accordingly. I have known some folks who actually buy all their Christmas gifts for the following year during the current period after-Christmas sales. I seem to recall hearing my wife make some noise a few times about how this would be a good idea but I don't think we have ever done much with it. We have participated in special Christmas programs through our local Church a few times that were held at odd times during the year. The most memorable was a Christmas in July where we had the full program with an emphasis on gifts given to further mission efforts. We went all out with a huge choir presentation, all the decorations, and a number of special Christmas oriented features. It was great fun and while it's not something that would probably work well every year, it did for us that year and everyone greatly enjoyed singing about the coming of our Savior, in July!

Come to think about it, 'Joy to the World, the Lord is come' is very appropriate to think about and proclaim every day of the year. Just so you know, my wife left me again. She headed out early this morning to Louisiana to join her sister as they both will travel to visit their eldest brother. You will recall that my wife and her sister are referred to as twins born 18 months apart or as they also have been known, two peas in the same pod. A few weeks ago they both had the same idea about visiting their brother at the same time. This is not an unusual situation for them. Before we had cell phones and readily available communications they would be separated for months but when we would meet up they would pick up at the last comma and continue their conversation as if they had only paused to take a breath. Uncanny! Over the years they have taken these spontaneous co-connected ideas to mean they should act upon them. Their reasoning is that since both of them thought about it at the same time it obviously means they should do something about it, so they are! I've learned not to interfere with this sister chemistry because that my friend would not be a road I would want to go down.

Wednesday evening after our Bible study one of our youth workers came into our class and asked for a volunteer to help out in a play on Friday night being done for our teens. He said it would be a non-speaking part and they only needed a warm body. Everyone was looking around and some were telling why they couldn't and then I spotted my wife giving me that eye. I haven't seen her making eyes like that since we were teenagers. She obviously was nominating me to volunteer and her motion was being made with an intense stare. I am typically somewhat slow to jump into things but I held up my hand like a good little boy and became the volunteer for the non-speaking warm body role needed. She later told me she was a little embarrassed because no one was volunteering and she thought since I would be available I could do it. There goes the wild party I had planned while she is away which may have also included two teaspoons of Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla. What a party pooper! You have to know I am joking because it is always a privilege to serve any effort to reach our teens with the message of the Gospel. Therefore, Friday evening, while she and her sister and their brother are enjoying their wonderful seafood feast at their favorite restaurant, I will be in my place working hard to fulfill my non-speaking and warm body role! Have a great Saturday and Lord's Day Sunday and I'll see what I can come up with for Monday. May God bless! Amen. ......More later.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Living in a world filled with calamities, clichés, and conundrums!

I think today is Thursday, March 25, 2010, but lately I have, like the proverbial infant, been mixing up my days and nights, therefore, having now consulted the calendar on the wall, and having checked my computer time signature, I bid you a good Thursday morning. Surely I've not lived to see my grandfather's words come true: "Son, you act like you wake up in a new world every morning!" This mixing up of days can cause a few gotchas along the way since I typically am studying and preparing for different lessons at different times and tend to study the next one coming up but if I don't grasp what day it is I might end up studying the other lesson which then makes me jump through hoops to get the one done that I should have been studying. If you follow this logic trail then my grandfather may have also been talking about you! Our dear Brother Milton continues to astound everyone with his progress as God works in his life. He has a wonderful sense of humor about his memory problems that continue after his catastrophic stroke. If you ask him what he wants to eat he will name something he just ate and his wife has to intervene because she says he would eat the same thing over and over because he doesn't remember eating it before. He thinks this to be hugely funny and I do too! We recently received some photos of him baptizing two of his grandsons and no one, and I do mean no one, would have ever believed this man who was at the point of death multiple times would ever have been able again to do something like this! The Psalmist put it this way: "This is the Lord's doing and it is marvelous in our eyes." (118:23)

I am conflicted almost always in these huge issues where so much is on the line, like the recent health care battles and its subsequent passage. Why am I conflicted? Because I do know there are many families struggling and many have been mistreated because of the greed and corruption that defines our flawed system. People on both sides take advantage of this situation to sell their side of the story. I am against government run for most everything but on the other hand I believe it is wrong to somehow champion opposition to helping others in the name of the free enterprise system. There will always be dynamic tension involved in these debates. Jesus said that we will always have the poor with us but He also went out of His way to reach out to help the lowliest in the society of His day. Sadly, the purpose as stated by those in favor of government running health care is to touch the lives of those in need, when, in reality, many of them are focused on maintaining and growing their base of power. It's not much better on the other side either where the track record reeks from the stench of excess, greed, and under the table dealing. Makes me homesick. Homesick for the city that Abraham longed for, homesick for that place whose builder and maker is God! (Hebrews 11:10)

Tuesday evening I watched a remarkable program on PBS on the Frontline series that delved into the lives of people impacted by this cataclysmic recession. The setting was an upscale hair salon in New York City's east side. The patrons would come in and as they got their hair done they would talk about their experiences in dealing with this economic downturn. Gut wrenching. It was hard to hold back the tears. People who had given their lives to hard work and playing by the rules now totally devastated by the decisions of others they had nothing to do with. Some had lost businesses. Some had lost family. Some had lost their health. Most had lost any notion of confidence that had long characterized their lives. One man who had been the head of training within human resources for a major airline told about the day he was let go. He had many years at his company. He loved his job and the people he worked with. He got up every day excited about going to work. On this day he showed up and was surprised to see his boss in early. She came into his office and shut the door. She told him the company had undertaken a reduction program and he was included. She asked him to try and pack up his things and leave within ten minutes. He went into shock. He sat there stunned. He didn't know what to do. At the time of the filming he was into a year without employment or prospects. Others were equally sad. Children having to quit college. Credit cards maxed out. Houses being foreclosed. No end in sight. Why did this happen folks? While I thank God for His mercy and grace in sparing us this outcome thus far, I must tell us all the truth. It was pure greed and unbridled selfishness that brought about this collapse and we would do well to remember this so that we do not find ourselves on the side of evil as we seek to chart a way forward. I went to bed Tuesday evening very burdened for the people on that program. I know there are millions just like them, many of whom are even worse off. I prayed for them and I prayed for our nation that we would return to God and seek to honor Him first in all we do. Join me in doing the same. Amen. .......More later.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Do you carry your own cloud wherever you go?

Don't worry, it's only me and I don't have that much to talk about on this Wednesday, March 24, 2010. Relieved? Or, in my case, would you call these to be my famous last words? I am thankful to report that we here in our small company are getting busy again with even more on the horizon. This is a 'praise the Lord' moment for those who work here and for our owner who always gives God the glory for the increased work we are seeing. I may soon have to trade my running shoes in for some roller skates. I never was good on roller skates. In fact, I can't be certain but it seems that I was asked once not to skate at the roller rink because of being mostly out of control on the skates. The story of my life, out of control! Here we are with some huge projects to get done and I'm still trying to figure out how to adjust my training wheels. I am teased here often about not being mechanically inclined. One of my favorite critics likes to wonder out loud how I ever was able to run a large organization in my past life but I can't seem to figure out the simplest of mechanical details. I always tell him that one of the great things I have learned in life is to know what you don't know and then you can get help in those areas. Of course his response has to do with trying to understand how long before I need to quit asking for help, especially on the same issues. We do have our fun!

He knows and I know there are many areas of project management, coordination, and support where he would not be able to function. And, that's where my skill set kicks in. We all have our strengths and weaknesses and its when we cooperatively match them up and work together that we can experience success. Meanwhile, it's okay for him to needle me about this, that, or the other, because it adds some spice to our getting the job done. I work in the OFFICE, therefore, I by definition and designation am a part of the problem. This banter is all in good fun and if it were to cross the line and become a drag we would deal with it. But for the most part we all need to find ways to lighten up a little and smile a little as we get on with the work we have to do. I've worked with folks who couldn't tolerate any kind of kidding and saw every comment as a direct insult. One fellow in particular I am thinking about could pretty well kill any kind of fun just by walking in the room. He was always gloomy and always pessimistic and always overly sensitive to any and all comments. He was technically good at his area of specialty but a huge pain to work with.

I think all of us know that on any given day we can become a huge pain to others but we should not want this to be what we are known for. The fellow I mentioned had trouble finding anything to smile about, when, in fact, he was surrounded by things that would bring laughter. And, so are we! How so? Because we are all people and we are all prone to make mistakes and missteps. I've been called serious all my life and I don't have a problem with serious as it pertains to work ethic and commitment and I know some of this came from the challenging experiences I dealt with growing up. On the other hand, I've learned that being able to laugh at oneself is the best place we all can start if we are to enjoy our life, at work, at home, or wherever we find ourselves. My former co-worker who was always so dour was said by others to have always brought his own black cloud with him wherever we went. Life is way too short to live it like that. Therefore, here is my advice: Go forth today and find someone and something to share a smile or laugh about, and enjoy the life God has given. Amen. .......More later.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Before you can get your act together, you have to have one!

It is Blank Tuesday, not Fat Tuesday (French=Mardi Gras), and by blank I'm thinking of Tuesday's page yet to be written as well as my brain etch-a-sketch pad that appears to have been erased without me knowing it. But it is March 23, 2010 and we end up where we start each day and that is in being thankful to God for His grace, mercy, and love as demonstrated in His sending of His one and only Son to die on behalf of sinners just like me, you, and the other folks that populate the planet. I remember growing up and us kids calling each other lame brain when we couldn't seem to get our act together or going. If you look it up it says it means slow witted or a dolt. Now dolt is a word you do not hear every day. Look that word up and it doesn't get any better since it means a stupid person. I know back in the day we certainly were not trying to be cruel when we used that term but in today's world nearly any word carries with it a minefield of potential liability and those in line with an axe to grind. Of course way back then we could with some confidence echo back the proverb stating that while sticks and stones might break our bones, words would never hurt us.

We hardly can imagine the amount of and the influence of this mind numbing conditioning that is going on all around us, all the time. We are so tolerant of everything today we will end up being intolerant of nothing including the evil that is very much a threat to our children and our way of life. It's that frog in the boiling water analogy. Supposedly, if you throw a frog into the hot boiling water, it will jump out immediately. However, if you place the frog in the water and slowly increase the temperature, the frog will adapt and adjust until it's too late and will suffer the fate it would have never tolerated had it known what was coming. No, I haven't been experimenting with frogs in our kitchen but this picture has been a well known idiom used to describe how we Christians have, over time, become complacent in the midst of the ever increasing temperature of the degradation that surrounds us. The cultural quagmire that we find ourselves in continues to see us stuck in a world of ambivalence and fuzziness as most of us try to be seen as accepting, open minded, and flexible. Truth is almost never flexible since it reflects the clarity and starkness of black and white.

Today we live in what the experts call the post modern age where an agnostic view is quickly giving way to full atheism, in our practice if not in our dialogue. I have read with sadness reports from the U.K. where the secularists have essentially declared God to no longer be a factor in British society. Folks, it's one thing for this to be true and given the tiny numbers of professed believers there, I believe it to be true, but my oh my how scary to think this to be an accomplishment worth bragging about. There are many who see the situation in Great Britain to be not only a prophetic projection for our country as proven over time by our slow and steady following of their trends, but also a frightening envisioning of our nation without God's presence. This might seem far off indeed as we view our culture each day but could it be that we, like them, are in that cauldron that continues to heat up slowly but surely to a place where we, also like them, will be bragging on how that God and religion is no longer a part of our American way of life? I refer the U.K. to how God responds when nations reject knowledge of and response to Him and His revelation of Himself as described in Romans Chapter 1. It may be too late in their case. I pray that it will not be too late for us as we should also read and do whatever is required to reverse this trend, beginning TODAY! Amen. .....More later.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Health Care, Smealth Care, God is still on His throne!

I bid you greetings from the land of weather confusion. To be Spring or not to be, that may or may not be the question but I do bid you a good morning from a very chilly beginning where if you aren't satisfied with the weather we're having, just hold on a little while, because it will be changing. It is another Monday and a good day to rise and shine and give God the glory on this March 22, 2010. I watched the NASCAR race yesterday afternoon broadcast from Bristol, Tennessee, where the cars were banging together. During the race I occasionally would observe on the personal computer the CSPAN feed of the live proceedings of the head banging going on inside the House Chamber of the US House of Representatives as they did their version of a televised food fight over health care. The vote was never in doubt and most of what was being shown was stage craft intended to win points with those watching. Several times the CSPAN server crashed, therefore, I assume many folks were attempting to keep up with the shenanigans that reflect how our government functions in these troubling times. The vote was somewhat anti-climatic after the so-called pro-life faction threw in the towel but I did find several things I thought were somewhat humorous about the process. One that stuck out was President Obama's continued non-stop campaign for the health care bill where at every stop he proclaimed how that everything that possibly could be said had been said and it was time to shut up and vote. But Mr. President, you are the one who can't seem to stop your 24x7 infomercial! What's up with that?

At any rate, we wake up to now having this nearly one trillion dollar bill enacted. Supposedly, the fight now moves to the US Senate but my understanding is the underlying bill becomes law with or without any changes that are pending. Time. Time will tell the exact impact on ordinary citizens and businesses as we now uncover the small print in this mammoth legislation. Yes, time will tell, but for you and I who believe in God, we can trust the Timeless One who actually spoke into creation the elements that constitute even the time we measure. While the debate was raging and I thought the raucous nature where folks seemed to be very invigorated was at least better than the hum drum you usually see, I noticed up on the marble panel above the Speaker's Chair these words: In God We Trust. Once I spotted that wonderful slogan which happens to be the official motto of our nation I could not help but to see it each time I switched to watch the proceedings. I couldn't help but wonder about those in the chamber and how they related to this statement of recognition acknowledging God and His providence on behalf of our country.

In God We Trust. It would be good for those of us who claim to honor this statement to live out the truth of it in how we carry on our daily lives. It would be good for us as a nation to return to God where this sentiment was genuine as opposed to an empty inscription bantered around for political purposes here and there. That statement summarizes the truth that it is God who has allowed this nation to be founded and to prosper for all these years. It is God who is the Source behind any so-called greatness that we as a people have been able to accomplish and enjoy. And It is God who will hold you and I and our nation accountable for the blessings He has provided to us. The President and his political party have won what they will proclaim to be a historic victory and we, our children, grandchildren, and generations to come will be changed as a result. More government, more intrusion, more taxation without representation, but this bill which will now be the law of the land will not change the truth that our God is in control and as we awake to an uncertain future each day, He is still on His throne! Amen. ......More later.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Thanks for caring enough to notice!

Just in case you missed it, we will be observing the first day of Spring on Saturday and we have a prediction of the temp in the thirties. What should we do? I suppose we can enjoy it or call 9-1-1 and ask to speak directly to Al Gore. How in the world are you doing, anyway? Welcome to a brand new Friday, the end of our work week, and also to a brand new gift called TODAY, on this March 19, 2010. I say that since last week one of my fashion critics here at the company was making noise about my bright red shirt and my bright green cap. I told him it was Christmas colors and he said that I needed to get in touch with reality because it's no longer Christmas time. To that I responded that everyday was a day when I opened a gift, just like at Christmas time, the gift of that particular day. He grunted and I wondered where all that had come from but, oh by the way, that's not a bad way to look at each new day, right? The Bible tells us to get on with it because this day is the only one we can count on and what we do or do not do will soon fade into night and then we will be involved in whatever we will face tomorrow.

I so appreciate you folks who read and comment on my blogs. I send them out each day to a number of family members, some friends, and several of my brothers and sisters in Christ from our local fellowship of believers. This past Wednesday I wrote the blog in recognition of our Kyleigh's 15th birthday. It was a fairly short blog. Later on that morning I received a call from one of our dear Church folk who wanted to know if I was okay. She and her husband was surprised by the brevity of my blog and were concerned about me being well. How sweet is that? I sure appreciate folks who care and while I can never report myself as being normal in any sense of the meaning of the word, I did report back to her that as for as I could tell I was doing okay. My grandfather could have told her that her concern was at least on track since he used to wonder out loud when I was talking if I was ever going to come up for air.

Then yesterday something happened in the delivery of my blog to my mom's email address and she called me to make sure I was okay. Thanks mom for still caring enough to check on your little boy. I re-sent my blog to her, but again, it's good to know that people care. I happen to believe that we should operate in a consistent manner that does involve doing our best to make a difference. When something interrupts that pattern it would be sad to think that no one would even notice. I didn't make my Crosstrainer Bible Club meeting last week because my wife called me and begged me not to go. She is concerned about how frazzled I've been lately and thought I needed to take the night off. I came very close to not taking her advice but as I thought about it, I understood she was not making this suggestion to keep me from going, it was only because she cares. How do you like that? I am someone that people care about? Thanks, sweetheart, for caring. Now, for me and the rest of us all, may we find ourselves doing our very best to be caring in return as we seek to honor God with the life He has given to us! Have a great Saturday and Sunday and know that I'll be here, Lord willing, doing my thing (short or long) each day. Amen. .....More later.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

How did we let this happen?

Hello friends and neighbors, welcome to Thursday, March 18, 2010, where you will have noticed I have stayed out of the health care imbroglio , that is, at least until now. I am with those who promote reasonable reform of the current system. Surely there has to be better options than the one about to be made the law of the land where a one size swallows all takes over. The stuff flying forth and back about the procedural maneuverings makes for interesting entertainment but I'm not sure the American people are ready for another round of "I voted for it before I didn't vote on it, therefore, I didn't really vote for it, just for the changes made to it." Yep. You heard that right. They really do think we are a huge bunch of ninnies. The thing that worries me the most is the loud sound that accompanies this bill. It is the unmistakable voice of a big government becoming much bigger, and what are they saying? "We're from the government and we are here to help!" Be afraid my friend, be very afraid. The President's main selling point is what will happen if we do nothing. That works except for the part where the treatment ends up killing the patient who turns out to be those who will ultimately pay for all of this beginning immediately even though the mammoth plan doesn't kick in for several years. Who am I referring to? The ninnies who pay taxes, of course!

I have heard that the President is telling fence sitting democrats that failing to vote for his bill will seal the doom of his effectiveness during his first term and might even cost him a second. Now that my friend is poetry in motion. I am not against Mr. Obama. I am not against him or his family. But I am against his agenda, his thoughts, his ideas, and his vision for our nation. I am against his socialistic approach to problem solving and I am against his far left liberal views. But I am not against him as a person. I have great respect for him, his wife, and his beautiful daughters. Yet, it's hard to imagine a person with his viewpoints being our President. We've had some liberal leaning men in the past but President Obama is so much more so that he's not able even to be considered out in left field, he is even outside of the ballpark! Every few days I end up asking myself how we let this happen but I am reminded that God is ultimately in control and He is sovereign over all things including elections. Therefore, America was allowed to have what America deserved and perhaps in the process a loud wake up call has gone forth. A call to all who would honor God and the proper role of government reflecting the best of what has made us a great nation.

Perhaps the better question is not how this happened but what can be done about it now. A return to biblical principles on the part of those who claim to know the Lord is a good place to start. A repudiation of those who play loose and fast with the truth regardless of their party affiliation is also needed by those who claim the high ground. We can't just be against excess, waste, and corruption associated with the Obama team, we need to be even handed and fair, calling all those who hold public office to account for the trust they have been given. Believe me, there's plenty on all sides to stir up our indignation. We also need to be guided by our principles and not by the slippery pragmatism that has for too long characterized our voting. Vote the way you believe God would have you to vote even for those who appear to have no chance and let God take care of the results. We've kidded ourselves far too long that choosing less sleazy is our only course of action. The song says that little is much when God is in it and He can make things happen as His people follow His leadership in the conduct of their civic affairs. We've lived to see dollars in the millions turn to billions and billions turn to trillions but remember what David the Shepherd King said: "He, the Lord God, owns the cattle on a thousand hills." (Psalm 50:10) Interpretation: The Lord God owns it all, the cattle, the hills, you and I, and everything else, period, end of story. Let us put our faith and trust in Him. Amen. ......More later.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

It is our faith, not our feelings, that bring us victory!

Okay. Take a few deep breaths and get ready for a brand new day on this Wednesday, March 17, 2010. I know it is St. Patrick's Day and many folks will be celebrating in a variety of ways. I can remember how it was a huge deal back when I worked for the big company downtown with a parade and all the other festivities that went on. Since my ancestors are reported to be Scotch-Irish, I suppose it is a good idea to pause and be thankful for how this nation became the great melting pot that it is. We all came from somewhere and we can thank God if we have been handed down an appreciation for knowing Him and for the values and work ethic we've been given. I did not have to read about these things because I saw them every single day lived out before me in my mother, my grandmother, and especially my grandfather. Some truths are better caught than taught and I can assure you the habit of consistency was there for me to take in. I suppose one of the regrets my generation has is in us not doing as well in instilling these same attributes into our children. This is not the fault of our children and perhaps we can still do something about it, but there is a reason that people look back and call previous generations great and we should want the same to be able to be said about our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.

As we have been making our way through the Book of Genesis, verse by verse, it has been quite amazing to observe how God was at work in the events, circumstances, and even in the everyday tedium of the lives of His people. We, of course, have hindsight and a full appreciation for where all these things were headed but the folks involved had to get up every day and go about the business of their lives. Their faith guided their steps but it certainly did not nullify the pain, suffering, and heartache they faced as they made their journey through life. We are studying Chapter 42 this week. After their remarkable session with the Prime Minister of Egypt, who was none other than Joseph their brother, but they did not recognize him, the nine sons had returned from Egypt with grain to feed their hungry clan, their money had been returned in their grain sacks, but they had to face their dad Jacob with the truth that one of his sons, Simeon, had been left behind in chains as a pledge. Jacob's heart was broken. He was still mourning the loss of his beloved Joseph and they now said that if they wanted more grain Benjamin had to go down to Egypt. Jacob, the heir of faith, son of Isaac and grandson of Abraham, found himself to be a man at this time who was eaten up with the sadness that marked his days. In verse 36 we read his mournful assessment of his life and times: "All these things are against me."

Can you identify with Jacob? Have you ever had days where you felt like everything was against you? Joseph wasn't dead but Jacob didn't know it. God's plan was to use the evil his sons intended for the good of preserving Jacob and his offspring but Jacob could not touch and feel the reality of this truth. It's easy for you and I to see the end of the story and see the outcome where God worked it all out for good but Jacob, just like you and I, had to deal with the losses, the pains, and yes, even the famines, that came his way. We know that later he will confess before The Pharaoh how that God had brought him through his life filled with troubles and trials, but, in the moment, all things seemed to be against him. But they really weren't then and for you and I who are the called according to His purpose, those of us who do love God, we have His word on it: "Each and every thing, the good, the bad, and even the ugly, works together for good." Obviously faith cannot be based on our feelings or there would be little of it around when we feel so bad. But faith can overcome because He left us this account in Genesis and so many others to inform us of the reality of His ever present working on behalf of His own to achieve His plan and purpose. We don't have to wait until the end of our story to walk by faith, we can do it today, beginning right at this very moment! Amen. .....More later.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Happy Birthday Kyleigh!

Hello everyone and welcome to Tuesday, March 16, 2010. Today is our granddaughter Kyleigh's 15th birthday and she will be having a ball, on Spring break, and spending time enjoying her friends and family. Kyleigh is a part of that beautiful trio of children who belong to our youngest son and his wife. She and Lexie and Brady are remarkable. Kyleigh is also a very intelligent young lady, a good athlete, and she most likely could win beauty contests left and right. She makes excellent grades and loves hanging out with her friends. She has a variety of interests and we see in her tremendous potential as she continues to develop and mature. We feel so very privileged to observe her as she makes her way in the life God has given to her. Special. That's how we describe our Kyleigh. A special young woman. A special talent. And, a special child that we love and appreciate. We do hope you will have a most wonderful birthday along with our prayer that our great God will continue to watch over and protect you. Happy Birthday, Kyleigh. Love, MiMi & Poppy! Amen. .......More later.

Monday, March 15, 2010

We are blessed, yes we are!

Good morning and welcome to another work week here on this Monday, March 15, 2010. Last week I was with one of our customer's and he proclaimed, me, my company, or the service we provide to be "Johnny on the spot." We do use some interesting word pictures, don't we? You know me, I am always interested in the origin of a phrase or comment, therefore, I did a little research and found this particular one to be old but certainly not ancient. It was actually written about as a popular phrase in a newspaper back in 1896 but the article mentioned that it would probably not be around very long. It had to do with someone having a reputation for keeping their commitments or always being dependable and on time. The "spot" word does get attention. You often hear "spot on" today meaning accurate or perfect. Or maybe we bump into someone who is in a tight spot or perhaps you just happen to tune in to someone who goes on and on about things like the word "spot". Driving in this morning I was listening to a very intelligent Christian broadcaster talking about his debates with atheists. He said one of the most interesting faults of atheists is how they typically are forced to use theistic arguments to try and prove their atheistic theories. For instance, if they say humans are nothing more than blobs of meat, the believer would say that it would be required to be more than a blob of meat to make a decision about you being nothing more than a blob of meat. While this stuff is way above my pay grade I do find it very interesting. And, it may very well be the cause of my slight headache.

I am coming off a very busy but rewarding Saturday and Sunday, how about you? Folks are all over the yard work with the days turned from cold to cool and they were out in force on Saturday. We have to get our yards ready for the upcoming season. I'm sure those chemicals are flying off the shelves at the local home and garden stores. I didn't get on that band wagon but I did get out and do a semi-thorough cleaning of the old flivver (my car) and that took a few hours. I dropped my wife off at the big mall for her scheduled duties, ran a few errands including getting my car serviced, and returned later to the big mall to enjoy watching her eat her lunch. I know some of you think I must really be hurting for entertainment. Then it was back home for some more activities and then reset of the clocks, then a return to the big mall to pick my wife up after she closed the store. Nothing earth shattering, but enough to qualify for being occupied. I also was able to spend some time on the phone with my mom and other family. A good Saturday for sure!

I did figure out, like most of you all, how to fully lose that one hour given up for some extra daylight. They tell us that Benjamin Franklin actually proposed this daylight savings idea when he was around. It is supposed to save electricity since there will not be as many light bulbs turned on. Here in our area where the heat is known to make the a/c unit lay on its side, I think the extra daylight may not be as huge a savings as perhaps it might be in other places. But, I did my reset duty and was not so draggy on Sunday but talk to me about it this morning! I feel like I've been run over by a freight train. But we did enjoy a wonderful Sunday. Early to the Church property to get everything opened up and coffee made for my class, did my teaching thing, then at the end of the main service I gave a verbal report on our pastor search team efforts, then we hopped in the car and drove about 45 minutes to meet our eldest and his entire clan for lunch, which included us being able to get our hands on our little great grand bundle of Madelyn Joy. We had a wonderful time and headed back home for some nap time in the recliners, then up and at them again as we drove across town to a gospel singing event. We got home fairly late and ended our two day marathon with a sense of having a little bit accomplished but enjoying a huge amount. Think about it. God is good to allow us to do all these things and somehow be able to get up this morning, come to the office driving through fog thick as pea soup, and be able to write about it. We are blessed folks, therefore, find some time to thank Him today! Amen. ......More later.

Friday, March 12, 2010

We're not in Kansas anymore?

Yes, that would be correct, we are not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy, but hurrah, it is Friday, March 12, 2010. You know those clips we love to see sped up so that everyone looks like they are quick stepping through the scene. This is exactly how it has been going for me lately but no need to speed up anything, because without any help from me, stuff seems to get on down the road like a runaway train. My wife tells me all the time that I need to slow down a little because the miles are piling up and I do from time to time show the wear and tear. BUT, as they say back home, most of it is by choice, or as I used to tell my boys, when it is self inflicted you give up the right to whine and complain. Therefore, I will just say how thankful I am to have things to do, people to see, and places to go, and even more thankful to be able to pursue them all with a smattering of energy and excitement. I think about my life and where I have been and what I have done and believe me, it's only by the grace of God that I am in the here and now doing what I am doing. It's like studying very familiar stories from the Bible. We already know the entire story from beginning to end, therefore, it's hard to appreciate how the people had to live it all out one day at a time. I look back and see mostly the mess that I've made out of many of the decisions that came my way. It's like the little boy sitting on the floor trying to make sense out of the chaotic threads in his mother's sewing project. But when she turned it over he saw a beautiful scene that took his breath away. This is how God is able to take the chaotic threads that are woven into our lives and make something beautiful out of them.

As for as the schedule goes I used to hear my grandfather talking about working from can to can't and I suppose on many days I am finding out the reality of the riddle. I am very aware that so many other folks face great challenges every day. Comparatively speaking, my stuff is pretty small compared to those dealing with family issues, hospital stays, and other calamitous events. Our little four year old Alexander Benjamin got his new eyeglasses this past Wednesday. He has some potentially serious problems that could occur later on if they don't work on his eyesight now. He was not too excited about his new glasses but we are so thankful they found his problem early. It's stuff like this that keeps Poppy stirred up. He was at the house last night for a brief visit and we watched the cartoon movie The Incredibles together. He immediately saw himself as the little super hero boy named Dash who could run at super sonic speeds. He came over as Alex and left as he put it, as Dash-Alex. He also had to demonstrate his running ability a few times around the house before he left. Do TV programs influence children? How about in a heartbeat?

But aren't we blessed to be living at a time when they can pinpoint eyesight issues even in young children? They used symbols and objects to test his vision since he can't read yet. Sure, we do at times feel like we are surrounded by troubles but we are often negligent in seeing how many blessings there are all the time. As those who know the Lord in a personal way with the assurance of His ever abiding presence, well, it's hard to top that for a number one blessing because He will never leave us or forsake us, no matter what! We actually have His word on that! Our Spring break is upon us and I know many will be traveling here and there. It is also spring forward time change weekend and you know what that means. The dreaded lose an hour so that we can enjoy more daylight each day. It also means I will be back to using my flashlight to open up our shop buildings each morning but we will adjust. I can only remember one time when I missed the time change. It was in the early 1970's and we showed up at Church exactly one hour late. Of course even as we drove into the parking lot I couldn't imagine that I had done something wrong. Why had they called a meeting without notifying me? Why were all these people already at Church? Them doing what they did caused me to have to drive around to find a parking spot. Some people, right? Yeah, some people, all right, how about that dummy behind the steering wheel, you know, the one who didn't change his clocks! That taught me a lesson and since then I typically change them all early Saturday evening. Don't forget because you wouldn't want to show up at Church late and end up like me having to deal with all those people who complicated my day. Have a blessed Saturday and Lord's Day Sunday! Amen. ....More later.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Vive la difference!

Good morning on this Thursday, March 11, 2010. I've received a few comments about my gizzard exploits. Based on what I'm hearing, the responses are quite predictable and it seems there are more than just a few who do not share my passion for this neglected delicacy. Different strokes for different folks, right? My wife loves to watch reruns of Deal or No Deal on the Game Show Network. She really likes this show. I don't. When it is on I can almost feel myself lapsing into a catatonic state as the gray cells inside my noggin scream: What in the world are you doing? On the other hand, she doesn't like any show where the people are arguing, especially where they are debating political issues. She hates them. I like shows where they do just that. In fact, I don't get along too well in any week when Prime Minister Question Time from the UK is on hiatus or if I happen to miss it for some reason. It's done each Wednesday around 6 a.m. our time. Talk about shouting! It's wonderful. The government is required to appear and through the sitting prime minister must answer the opposing parties questions pertaining to the actions it is taking. The various individuals who represent different factions boo, hiss, and cheer as the debate rages on. I can't help myself. I love it. If there was one feature from the mother country across the pond that we could choose, this would be it, to see any of our sitting presidents have to go to the congress once a week and stand and answer any and all questions about decisions being made would not only be entertaining, I think it would improve accountability.

We are all different. I sleep every night with two fans blowing. Some people couldn't tolerate the noise. I also sleep with three feather pillows each night that I hope will last as long as I do since they are already ancient and I have no clue where one would ever locate any like them again. My wife sleeps on foam. The thought alone gives me the heebie jeebies. My pillows are special because my late mother-in-law used to get hold of chicken feathers and make them for me. They have been patched and re-covered more than once and my wife and I discussed the other evening about how much longer we think they will last. Caring that much about feather pillows would be a silly topic for one person but it is serious in the extreme for me. We are all different. We are told about the most wonderful restaurant in the world. We go there. We eat. We then wonder what the fuss was about. We thought it was slightly better than airline food. What happened? We are all different. No wonder we have trouble getting everyone on any page much less the same page, but that's what we need to do if we are going to make progress.

These differences carry over even into our working together as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. The good news is that our God recognizes how different we all are. He calls us to unity even as He pours out differing gifts to different people. How can all this diversity find unity and common purpose? It's only through Him helping us through the power of the Holy Spirit to help each person focus on the God who gave the gifts, and in helping us to cooperate with one another in the work He gave us to do. We are not all called to do exactly the same thing but we are all called to unity in the work we all do and share. I may never develop a love for Deal or No Deal but I can tolerate it being on because I know it is liked by others, and it's really not that big of a deal in the overall scheme of things, when it is all said or done. The pillows might be a different matter but even there I most likely will not evaporate if they were to go away. As Augustine put it over 1500 years ago: In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things, love. This makes me very much inclined to share my plate of gizzards next time I find myself under their influence. You like Folgers. I favor Community. Sorry. I haven't got any ideas for helping us find a way to agree on that one. Just kidding, but next time you hear about me sitting in my parked car on the side of the road wearing sun glasses and holding a hair dryer out the window just to see how many folks slow down, remember, we are all different. Have a blessed day. Amen. ......More later.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

What is settled truth? What God says, period!

Good Wednesday morning. I pray that you and yours are well on this March 10, 2010. I would hope that we all are aware that beliefs have consequences. A cursory reading of the recent DNA reports on King Tut's mummy demonstrates this truth in dramatic fashion. These tests indicate that this 19 year old ruler died from a combination of bad genes, bad bones, and a bad case of malaria. Where did this young man get all of this bad stuff? Researchers concluded that one of the predominate causes was his inherited genes from incestuous parentage. In other words, the practice of the King, Pharaoh, marrying his own sisters is one of the primary causes of King Tut's diseases and his early demise. Why did the Pharaoh marry his own sister when they were free to marry anyone they chose? Because beliefs have consequences. There are numerous theories but one that is included on every one's list has to do with the god and goddess concept. Since Pharaoh was believed to be an incarnation of a god then he would have to marry someone as close to a goddess as possible, therefore, the sister, coming from the previous god and goddess became the best candidate. That belief system was a way of life for them but as these tests prove, it was also a way of death.

One can only imagine that year after year this practice produced more and more polluted genes even as it was thought to be producing the next god or goddess. To me this report pretty much paints a picture of the Scripture that says: "There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death." (Proverbs 14:12) In the recent fiasco involving the run away automobiles, much has been said about how these new technologies are driven by intelligent programmed devices. One expert commented that we no longer depend upon a purely mechanical solution but rather the electronic control center or computer is what provides the instructions to all the variety of auto components. He went on to say that the older mechanical systems had been perfected over a 100 year period but the life cycle impact of unexpected glitches in the software is a brand new concern. Folks, it is not funny that people have been injured and some even killed as a result of these failures. However, I find it very ironic that we call these systems intelligent since causing a car to accelerate without warning isn't very intelligent at all. This entire episode reminded me of my many years spent in dealing daily with unexpected computer glitches and how that strange circumstances and unusual combinations of circumstances could cause programs to fail even though they had run for many months without a problem. The expert said we may not be able to predict the long term life cycle safety implications of these computer based control systems. In other words, we may not be nearly as smart as we think we are!

Trusting in computer programs and seeing them wreak havoc is small potatoes compared to matters of eternal significance. I remember a lady wrote a book about her supposed out of body trip she made to heaven. A popular talk show host interviewed her and I read the transcript of that interview. The interviewer asked what it was like, there in heaven. She said it was a place where everyone was welcome and no one was left out and the only test for being there was a person's treatment of others. The host was impressed because she said this is what she had believed all along. What one believes has consequences. Jesus, the greatest lover of humanity, and teacher of love for God and others, also loved enough to tell people the truth. He clearly laid out the only way that anyone can be made right with God. He made it personal. He said that unless one repents or turns away from their sinfulness and turns to God they are on the way to destruction. (Luke 13:3) What we believe about salvation and how it can become a reality has far greater implications than any other matter we might consider or contemplate. Our world likes the many roads to heaven theory or as Jesus called it, the broad way. Jesus said that many will make their way on the broad way but this leads only to destination destruction, and only those who get on the narrow way (trust in Him and Him alone) will make it to heaven. (Matthew 7:13) Folks, think about it, it does matter what we believe, and never forget, that our beliefs, just like King Tut and his ancestors, do have consequences! Amen. .......More later.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Welcome to more of the same!

Good morning, come on in, make yourself comfortable, and let's spend a few minutes together as we start this brand new Tuesday, March 9, 2010. On my way in this morning I was thinking about how this writing about stuff all got started. I know many who have joined along the way haven't taken the time to go back through the archives, and I don't blame you for not doing so, therefore, I went back and copied that very first blog published on a Wednesday nearly three years ago. It was then and still is today a work in progress but isn't that exactly what life itself is all about? Here's what I had to say on that very first day:

May 9, 2007

****"Well, it took me over sixty years to get here and as Yogi Berra reportedly said, "You sure can observe a lot just by watching". That observation stuff, however, can be both good and bad especially if you are determined not to revise any of it, that is, if that's possible since reflections and memories over time tend to take on a life of their own as they all become fused together. Some days it's "Wow, I can't believe the life I have enjoyed!", while another day might be, "Hey, I'm not sure I can make one more day!". This is how it works in the so-called real world and we have trouble because the roller coaster ride can start without notice at anytime even right smack in the middle of one of those really great days and suddenly you find your heart pounding and breath interrupted by the crashing ride. Okay, maybe not quite that dramatic but with age, maturity, family, more family, relationships, issues, challenges, and chaos all around, it can be quite daunting.

However, I call this blog The View From Here because when it's all said and done, it's the way I see it. You most likely see it differently but that's what blogging is all about. We can speak from our viewpoint, our way of interpreting all the things we have to deal with, and in general, the viewfinder through which we see the world, and especially our world.

One final thought in this opening monologue: I know that without God as the foundation of my life through my identity with His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, there would be little hope in all the ups and downs encountered in this journey called life."****

And that's the way it was way back on May 9, 2007. While some of how I actually present my views may have changed over these years, a tweak here and a tweak there, essentially, I could publish this same first blog today, (come to think about it that's what I am doing), and it would accurately reflect the way I view the journey. The good news is that we do, as the old saying goes, live and learn, or, let's hope we do the learning part, because it is critical in our growing up in the Lord. Here I am today still observing, still watching, and still reporting the stuff as I see it. Hopefully, I am not who I was in 2007 because of making at least some baby step progress in the journey God has given to me. But, thankfully, while each day has the potential to bring unexpected calamity and change, He is always the same; yesterday, today, and forever. We can't count on the soundness of my observations or even our feelings about them, but we can always count on the God who so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. Finding the truth of that provision on a personal basis is the only way we can ever make sense out of this thing called life. May God bless each one and I encourage you to go out there and have yourself a blessed day! Amen. ......More later.