Friday, October 29, 2010

I'll have some of those rose colored glasses now. Thanks!

Welcome to rose colored glasses Friday on this October 29, 2010. The rose colored glasses idiom implies an individual who views things through a set of lenses that makes them appear to be more pleasant than they really are. You would know by now that if anyone is a committed realist, then I plead guilty, however, this doesn't mean we have to be running around like Mrs. Henny Penny crying everywhere that the sky is falling. That old illustration comes to mind. The little boy sat on the floor playing and he could see the bottom of the crochet hoops where his mom was busy stitching away. Having looked several times at all the messed up knots and colors he finally jumped up and asked his mom how in the world it could be anything worth looking at. She smiled and gently turned the hoop to the other side and he was shocked to see a most beautiful scene. That, in many ways, describes our view as we attempt to make sense out of all that happens in our lives. But, as believers, we know Paul Harvey's "the rest of the story." And, that my friend infuses our reality with hope and some spiritual rose colored glasses, where we can live based on the beauty of the unseen. No. I am not making this up. Here's exactly what God wanted us to know as He inspired the Apostle Paul: "Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal." (2nd Corinthians 4:16-18)

One of the things that has characterized my working life has been my willingness to confront challenges as they are. This can be risky and it has proven to be just that for me in a number of situations. Declaring that the emperor is not wearing any clothes may expose reality, but typically, just so you know, I learned that the emperor is not always pleased with the person doing the declaration. When I did work as a consultant my summary of what was going on within the department I was evaluating went like this: The people leading this group are either incompetent or asleep at the wheel. Statements like this were sprinkled throughout my assessment. Some of the top management were shocked by what I said. I guess I never received the memo on proper consultant protocols. At the same time I had many key executives who told me while they had never read a report that was so candid, it was not only clear but also refreshing in its directness. What had I tried to do? Get ready for a real surprise. It was only to tell the truth as best as I could determine it, period, end of story. When word got out to the rank and file managers about the incompetent or asleep comments, they concluded I was there to destroy them so I could take over. Their view was my work was a power play, therefore, I assume they neglected to pay any attention to the details behind my findings. The head guy thought I was bargaining to get his job. Guess what? Very soon after the report I was offered his job but they all went into shock when I chose not to take it. In the end, my recommendations were followed, the program was reorganized and revitalized, with new management of course, and they were able to get back on track. Thank you to my Grandfather McMillan who always taught me that a man's word is his bond.

My work on that project had nothing to do with a predisposition towards gotcha analysis. They had spent huge sums of money with little to no results to show for it, and as my former Vietnamese coworker used to say: "Because why?" They were either incompetent or asleep at the wheel. Sometimes when we let our yes be yes and our no be no even as the Bible instructs us, it can be misunderstood as coming across negative, mean spirited, and pessimistic.(See Matthew 5:37) Truth has a way of causing this type of reaction sometimes. Maybe it has become so odd to have folks who tell the truth that it kind of shocks people when they hear it. Again, this doesn't mean we should come off like a prophet of doom. We have the truth on our side, therefore, we should be honest but also hopeful at the same time, optimistic because of our being able to see the unseen. We are entitled to wear our faith enabled spiritual rose colored glasses because we know that on the other side of the messy and tangled hoop there's the reality of God and His provision for us. I quote again from my grandfather's favorite song: "I don't know about tomorrow but I know who holds my hand." What a week this has been. It's been quite taxing on an old fellow like myself but I sometimes look at all that God has allowed me to be involved in, and the fact that I'm able to get up and get with it each day, causes me to be humbled by His grace and mercy extended to me. Amen. Those who feel they must drag the black cloud around with them might be interested in the original Darth Vadar costume. It will be auctioned off soon with a minimum expected of $250,000. Might as well look the part. Right? Now I want each of you to enjoy your Saturday and if possible join others at the meeting place where we honor our resurrected Lord on Sunday, and then I'll try to have something for you early on Monday morning. For those who are still trying to make a sign on that mirror, it wasn't supposed to be a marathon test, okay? See you next time.                     ......More later.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

I don't have to go very far to find my biggest problem, because like the comic character Pogo, I have met the enemy and it is I.

Good morning folks and welcome. It is Thursday, October 28, 2010 and we are anticipating the arrival of some cooler temps that if and when they get here can only be described as both refreshing and a blessing. The other day I mentioned some behind the scenes ministry efforts that for the most part go unnoticed but the results help to change and restore people's lives. I had been talking about how critical it is for us to be doers and not just those who hear the Word of the Lord. On Tuesday evening the lady teaching our inner city Bible club used that same passage but focused on how the writer James emphasized how those who hear only and do not do, end up deceiving themselves. (See James 1:22) That got me to thinking. It's okay for you to be worried about me thinking because that's often the same response I have. Those who hear only end up deceiving themselves. The word for deceit in the Greek has the meaning of cheating oneself, beguiling, or self deception. How could someone do this to themselves by hearing only? Obviously the intention of the truth is not for knowledge sake only, therefore, if the mission of the truth God has preserved is to provoke action and that being the God ordained response indicated but we instead settle for hearing only or knowing only or building up our Bible library only, then we settle for something not just much less than God's best, but we can end up deceiving ourselves. Unfortunately, the hearing and storing up of knowledge often causes us to feel spiritual and that may be how we miss the boat entirely. We feel full, think we are full, act like we are full, but we are actually empty. I am thinking as I write of some people who are not Bible scholars, not Bible literate to any great degree, but they work tirelessly to do what they can with that which God has given them to work with. Many of these people are the ones involved in the unheralded ministries that wash feet and serve tables for the Lord. They have taken the little truth they know and put it to work and often their work for the Lord is accomplishing great things for the Kingdom, while some of us feel so full of knowledge as we sit on the sidelines with our smug attitudes of how much we know. Wow! That self deception business hit me pretty hard. Something to think about as you sip on your coffee this morning!

I could be all ministerial and say I know someone out there somewhere needed that today. But, if I wrote about this subject before our Bible Club and then heard it again at our Bible Club it might just be God talking to me. Have you ever connected the dots like that? That is, when things seem to come together to be reinforced through repetition, we might just pass it off as coincidence. Never forget the image of our Savior standing at the door knocking. He is on the outside trying to get someone to let Him in. Many use that illustration found in The Revelation of Jesus Christ, Chapter 3, as a salvation appeal. But within the context of the passage it is our Savior knocking on the door of one of His local New Testament fellowship of believers, what we call a Church today. What a word picture! Pretty scary when you think about it. He goes on to say that if the door is opened He will come in and commune with and have fellowship with those inside. Visualize a modern day Church service going on. Everyone is in their pew. Suddenly there is a loud knocking on the entrance doors. Wonder who that could be? Everyone seems startled as the knocking continues. Should we are should we not go and open the door? I grew up in a Church where we probably would take a vote on it. Just kidding. But I think we get the powerful message here. I've heard it said there are many folks who will defend with their lives the Bible while never having paid any attention to it. In the same way I suppose we can spend all our time filling up our heads while never connecting our hearts which fuels our motivations that produce actions. You say you didn't order a wake up call from the front desk this morning. Maybe it was supposed to ring in my room. Amen.

Today's blog is a great example of what happens when I have no idea what I have to write about. Sorry to burst your bubble but most days it is pretty much just thrown out there on the electronic page. I do love passing on observations and anecdotes as well as a lesson here and there. I'm not always pleased that many of my most pointed commentaries tend to be directed towards myself, but if you are going to share what comes up, you have to deal with it like it is, and obviously much of what I write hits me first. However, there's also encouragement and hope because we all are still works in progress. Some might look at me and say, "You are already doing much.", but that is not really the issue. God doles out the abilities and gifts, therefore, He is the one doing the assessment as He desires to work through different people. For some, their little is all they can do and it will receive great reward! For others, He has given much and there is a corresponding accountability for the much that has been received. (See Luke Chapter 12) The good news is how that He continues to work on us all. This reminds me of that popular chorus from the children's song from a few years ago: He's still working on me to make me what I ought to be. It took Him just a week to make the moon and stars, The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars. How loving and patient He must be, He's still working on me. As believers, how do we know that we still have time to respond to His calling to us to the specific work He has for us? Take a mirror and hold it up to your mouth. If you can breathe and make a sign on that mirror, you are still eligible to respond. Amen. Maybe tomorrow I will have something to write about, therefore, it might even be shorter! That gives us all something to look forward to, including me!               .....More later.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I may not be the real Santa, therefore, I cannot see you when you're sleeping, but I know One who can!

This is the city. This is my beat. My name is blog writer. I was working the day watch when word came in that our country has just been voted out of the top 20 least corrupt countries in the world. Okay. You may not have recognized my opening words that feigned an attempt to channel Jack Webb playing Sergeant Joe Friday on both radio and TV in the immensely popular series 'Dragnet'. It is Wednesday, October 27, 2010 and the report about us slipping in the least corrupt nation category is true. Transparency International is a Berlin based group that evaluates countries based on the level of corruption in how the country functions. Last year we were rated the 19th least corrupt country but this year we have slipped to 22nd. This is the worst showing for the US since these ratings began being published 15 years ago. In our situation, it is not so much law breaking as it is the amount of corruption found within the financial and commercial activities of our nation. Essentially, it comes down to those who intentionally take extreme advantage of others especially the poor and disadvantaged. To me, it only reflects the truth proclaimed by the Prophet Jeremiah when he shouted: "The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9 NASB)  I'm not talking about them either. It's a me, myself, and I, as well as an every person problem. The fall of humanity into sin continues to show its full measure of sinfulness in these kinds of reports. However, when it involves taking from the elderly, the mentally challenged, or the lowliest in our society, I will just add that God has a special punishment for those who make merchandise of these folks, and He keeps much better records than any agency known to mankind! The least corrupt nation in the world according to this report is Denmark. That's pretty sad for us, a so called Christian nation, to lag so far behind in terms of this measurement.

People ask me all the time what I enjoy most about playing the Jolly Old Elf. Of course it has to always and forever be the children. But more than this, it is the special needs children that steal my heart every time. Some of them come in the building jumping up and down. They love without pretension and they soak up love like a sponge. I was talking to a lady at the hospital the other day about this and she smiled broadly when I mentioned special needs children. She teared up a little as she told me about her 24 year old daughter who has a mental disability since infancy. I cannot think of any people in this world that I admire more than parents who have devoted most of their lives to the love and care of a special needs child. Anything I can do to bring a smile or make the day a little brighter for one of these little ones is like a huge blessing as well as a distinct privilege. And, on top of that, they actually pay me to enjoy moments like these. Is this a great country or what? A number of my appearances are scheduled without a fee. One fellow told me to be sure and keep up with those pro bono projects so I can write them off. Santa and pro bono just doesn't sound right does it? There's much we could learn from those special children I mentioned. Jesus certainly thought it important to allow children to come to Him. He also used them as an example of what it takes to become one fit for heaven. It takes faith, the kind of faith expressed by a child. Here's exactly what He said: “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven." (See Matthew Chapter 18) Something to think about!

Last Friday I attended a memorial service for a 23 year old man who had been killed in an automobile accident. His dad is a special friend to our family for a number of years. The grief hung heavy in that room, so much so that it felt like the air had been sucked out. Then our friend, Brother Scott, stood up and for nearly thirty minutes he painted a portrait of his only son. Scott's faith in his Sovereign God infused him with a message of love, faith, and hope. It was something I will never forget. God showed up during that service and while the tears continued to flow so did the love of God along with His mercy, grace, and comfort. Our words fail us at a time like this. But that does not mean that we are those who grieve without hope. Why? Because we believe God's Word and we are confident that what He has promised He will do, therefore, we don't say goodbye, we say, see you later because we'll be there with you when it comes our time. You can read about this hope and how the Apostle Paul was inspired to address the death of one of God's own children, in 1st Thessalonians Chapter 4. Paul instructs his readers to use these truths to bring comfort to one another. Thank you Bro. Scott for reminding us all that there is a reunion day coming where we will all see Jesus and each other in that place where Jesus said, "that where I am you may be also." (John 14) Amen.  .....More later.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Wasn't the sun supposed to hide itself more at this time of year?

Hello my fellow Americans, I bring you summertime greetings here on this Tuesday, October 26, 2010. If we are going to be seeing any frost on pumpkins around these parts, there will have to be some dramatic changes in the mix. I know you can't please all the people any of the time but I will admit to being a little miffed when I hear someone raving on about how wonderful the weather has been. Ninety degrees in October and that's wonderful? Whatever happened to some good old shivering to help get us started each morning during this time of the year? I will be putting up the frozen tundra photos as a background on my computer and perhaps that will make me feel a little cooler. It just goes to show you, and I'll let you fill in the blank. It's like those poor dudes who try to keep the temperatures moderated for our Church services. What's comfortable and pleasant to some, is nothing short of misery to someone else. In fact, I was standing at the back door one day when an older lady came by and let me know that she would not be back until they learned not to try to freeze people to death during the services. She was really angry. I told her how sorry I was that she felt uncomfortable and that I would speak to someone about it. My guess is that we had others who felt exactly like her only in the opposite direction with it being just too hot to enjoy the services. I'm old enough to remember the funeral home fans whipping forth and back during services when I was a kid. People may not have enjoyed the environment but since the only thermostat they had access to was the one in their hand, well, they didn't really do much complaining.

I've been reading about the early voting thus far and it appears folks are swarming and eager to cast their vote this year. Interestingly enough, the mainstream media was in love with the hope and change crowd and couldn't get enough of how exciting it was to see people rally behind candidate Obama. They report these current early voters as being all angry about run away spending and how the economy continues to be broken. These people have the nerve to want to get rid of folks in congress. Before these same news outlets delighted in seeing apathy set aside for fervor and passion. Now according to their spin, we are witnessing a sad day as Americans rise up to show their disdain for a government aligned with nearly everything they are not aligned with. I heard an interesting excuse by the President the other day. He said his team was so focused on getting everything right on the policies, they had failed to spend the time required to celebrate their accomplishments and inform the public about how great these polices are. Really? I happened to have overhead some insurance folks explaining to a business owner why they were raising their rates 14% for the company and for the employee contribution. Somehow the part about getting the policy right was absent from the conversation as these folks who had read the 2,000 pages of the healthcare bill went on and on about how this was only a preemptive strike with likely more increases to come. For a policy that promised to immediately drive down everyone's cost, these comments didn't sound even close to 'getting it right'! Sorry, Mr. President, but it seems that particular excuse will not work with these unruly Americans who are angry and reportedly they are doing that thing that at one time was thought to be sacred and wonderful, they are exercising their right to vote their conscience and their aspirations for their children and grandchildren. I pray that a message is sent that echoes through the halls of power in Washington DC, and that this message will be heard by an entirely new set of folks who might aught to pay close attention to it!

Don't get me wrong. Fair and balanced requires that we call baloney - baloney no matter where it comes from. And, there is plenty to go around this election cycle from all sides of the political spectrum. The other evening someone called our home asking us to vote for a particular statewide candidate. I didn't get a chance to talk to them but if I had I would have told them that I was going to vote for that individual but not because they represented my views. They happen to be the lesser of evils in this case and claim some attachment to conservative principles. I would have also told them that I hate having to go to the polls with a clothespin on my nose because of those I will be voting for, not to mention the others who are running. This sounds harsh and perhaps even overly critical. Perhaps. But for me we need to rattle some cages not just in Washington but everywhere from the jailhouse to the courthouse to the White House, or maybe even to the outhouse. But we need to let people know that we really are sick and tired of being sick and tired about business as usual. I'm thankful to live in a district where most local folks running for office hold conservative views regardless of their party affiliation. This is why there's typically a lot of split ballots because some folks on the other side may be a stronger conservative than the one who carries a label. It is up to you and I to do the research and the study needed to conclude on our own exactly who it is that will best represent the values we hold dear. Don't worry about the slant the news media is putting on the election, get out there and make something happen that will reclaim America and help her once again become the beacon of light to the world. Amen. This is not a paid political commentary and no animals were harmed in the writing of this blog. It's a joke. You can laugh even if you disagree with my views! See you next time.                 ......More later.

Monday, October 25, 2010

All of us can do something and God can take our something and use it to bless others!

Good morning and welcome to a brand new work week. Yesterday we were privileged to give testimony of the resurrection of our Savior by attending a service dedicated in His honor. You didn't know that yesterday was a special day of recognition? It was and is every week as we gather on the FIRST day of the week as a local called out assembly who are covenanted together to carry on the work given to us by our Lord. The famous preacher D. L. Moody once observed this: "The difference between listening to a sermon on the radio and attending Church is like the difference between calling your girl on the phone or spending an evening with her." I know for me, being in my place each Sunday has proven to be a blessing and I can testify that it is absolutely the very best way for me to start out a brand new week. But, enough sermonizing so early in the morning, how in the world are you doing anyway on this Monday, October 25, 2010? People do take their sports seriously don't they? A few weeks ago we had in our metro area the spectacle of a brawl that erupted involving the coaches at a Pee Wee football game. We're talking kids aged 5 to 7 here. We're talking about a video of the entire mess being seen all over the world. We're talking about the league suspending the coaches and teams for the rest of the season. We're talking about a court case where the ruling of the league was first set aside but has now been upheld. Did I mention it is Pee Wee? We don't even have to think about what kind of lessons this sends to these kids.

I suppose we should be glad it's not quite as bad as what's going on in England right now. They have this superstar footballer named Rooney who is leaving his team and may be headed for an arch rival's squad. We think Americans are crazy when it comes to sports, well, across the pond they have had to call out the police to protect Rooney and his family from mobs that descended on his mansion. Some of the banners threatened his life if he signed with the rival city. Their football is soccer and people there are beyond fanatical about it. They even have a category for those who have been banned from the sport for violence. They are called hooligans. (Flash update: Rooney agreed to stay with his current team for a huge amount of money. Is that a surprise or what?) I believe as the world economy continues to falter both here and abroad folks will continue to be wound up about as tight as they can be and at times it will contribute to some bizarre behavior. I can remember when I was much more passionate about sports. I still enjoy watching games or my designated driver in NASCAR but I know better than to become entangled to the extent that it messes with my life. Just a few weeks ago I made the mistake of watching the last five minutes of a college football game where LSU and Florida were playing. That more than 30 minutes to play 5 ended up with LSU winning in an unbelievable comeback which they are well known for. Just a handful of minutes of my time on a Saturday night but it got me so stirred up I was still wide awake at midnight. How stupid is that? This is another reminder of why I try not to put myself in situations where this can happen. You take this as an example from a casual observer and put the passionate fan in my shoes, no wonder there are explosive outcomes from time to time.

Too bad all the energy and passion we devote to sports can't be shared a little in other more meaningful areas of life. I don't begrudge folks their enjoyment but we all could use some balance when it comes to how we devote our time and energy. We've all heard the preachers rail on and on about how folks can be overflowing with excitement for their particular sporting event but can't seem to stay awake during a Church service. That might be an almost too easy point to make but there is a greater truth behind it. Our Savior lamented how that the harvest was overflowing but there was a shortage of willing laborers to work the fields. (See Luke Chapter 10) In order for ministries to be productive we need folks who can become passionate about their work for the Lord. And, as the song says, "Little is much when God is in it." I've observed over the years some little known, behind the scenes ministries where the people involved were excited and motivated to see people helped. The result? Lives are touched. Lives are changed. Lives are enriched. And, more than anything else, God is honored and glorified through His people at work. Uh huh, that's right. Work. The word means just what it means. Our dear Brother James writing in his letter to his scattered flock in the first century had some inspired thoughts on this subject. He implored his readers not to just hear the Word but to be doers. That brings up a good question. Doers of what? He answers that very clearly by saying this: "and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does." (Read about it in James Chapter 1.) We all should be involved in doing something for our Lord. Something. What something will I do? What something will you do? A good question as we think about the winners and losers from our sports saturated weekend. Amen.         ......More later.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Lucky stars will not get the job done, we need the Lord's help!

I'm not sure if Friday, October 22, 2010 has any special ramifications except that it is today, and you and I are here in it, therefore, I suppose we have to soldier on. I tell you, I can't seem to get my ducks in a row so I can take advantage of all the special calendar aligned days of late. First we had the rush of marriages on 10-10-10 (October 10, 2010) and many had it timed for the 'I do' to occur precisely at 10 am. Some said it was to have an easy to remember anniversary. Others believed it to be like an omen of good luck that would infuse their marriage with success. I've been at the marriage game for nearly 46 years and I will tell you from up close personal experience that no calendar quirk will help. It requires the grace of God and if you succeed at all it's only because of the grace of God. I know there are unbelievers who have long marriages as well but when I write I have to give you my perspective and that's the way I see it, The View From Here, and all of that tommyrot. The origin of the phrase tommyrot is unclear with many speculations but we do know it was used as early as 1884 and it has come to mean foolish nonsense. I suppose given that definition then for me that means if the shoe fits, I should wear it? Or, how about, get another one just like it? Another shoe, not another wife. You folks are hard to keep up with. Then we had the other one that happened this past Wednesday. In Europe they always express the day first, therefore, they had them a great 20102010, (20 October 2010) and that set off waves of activities to be timed against this remarkable confluence. Do you ever feel like you are left standing on the platform as the last train leaves the station? I can always wait for next year because 11-11-11 sounds like a winner and then we will have 12-12-12 to look forward to after that. The possibilities are mind boggling or mind numbing or mindless, I'll let you be the judge of that.

Speaking of mindlessness, have you ever seen more political stuff flying around like it is this year? Maybe we should all wear some type of protective gear or maybe return to those drills where we all hid under our desks. We grew up. We learned that getting under a schoolroom desk to protect yourself from a nuclear blast was not necessarily going to do much good. But that was back in the cold war days. Now we have both hot and cold going on with much of it right here at home as the different parties slug it out. They are digging up dirt on each other like there's no tomorrow and according to the polls, that is exactly what it is for many of the incumbents. Pretty soon we will hear about how a fellow actually pulled a girl's ponytail when he was in kindergarten proving that he is against women and unfit for office as well as being a disgrace to the world, or maybe even the universe. No wonder we all become more and more cynical. Some have concluded that all politicians lie but it doesn't matter because no one is paying any attention to them anyway. They can barely draw a crowd these days. Maybe Yoggi was right when he said, "Nobody goes where the crowds are anymore. It's just too crowded." I know we are all a little testy right now. The other day when I said something about hoping this winter would be so cold the politicians would have to keep their hands in their own pockets, that struck a chord with several people. I suppose we would prefer them to spend their time on more important issues like finding out what the people in China call their good plates.

Yoggi Berra is a champion of wordsmithing as I see it. I'm sure he has a fan club that celebrates his exploits as a professional baseball player, coach, manager, and team executive. But you might not know that he also has a fan club that features his many wonderful sayings. Sure, most of the time he mangles the language but in doing so he brings an abundance of smiles while creating a cottage industry of copy cats. So much of what are called 'yogisms' have been attributed to him, the hall of fame catcher mused, "I didn't really say everything I said." My favorite of his has to be the classic, "You can observe a lot by watching." I believe most of Yoggi's stuff comes straight from the heart. Like when he advised, "Always go to other people's funerals, or they won't come to yours." Other folks like to play with phrases and come up with stuff like, "He's a wolf in cheap clothing."  Of course we all love bloopers, that is when someone says something they intended one way but it comes out another. When a student writes, "The constitution was adopted to secure domestic hostility," we understand what they meant but we also can smile. In the case of tranquility versus hostility, I suppose that blooper might more accurately portray where we are today. Maybe we all could take some advice from old Humpy Dumpty, "When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean- - neither more or less." I'll have to keep that in mind as I tip toe through these daily doses of my version of word mangling. This brings to an end another work week and I do appreciate those who express to me how that a word here or there has encouraged them in their journey here. Have a great Saturday and Lord's Day Sunday. Lord willing and the Creeks don't rise, meaning of course, the Creek Indian Nation, I'll see you early next Monday. May God bless. Amen.            .....More later.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

America is still a great place to be!

It is Thursday, October 21, 2010 and today is a good day to be reminded that while there's much that could be better, we are, here in this country, still the most blessed of people on the earth. I know that many are suffering from the ill effects of this jobless recovery. I know that stress seems to be at everyone's doorstep right now. However, we are Americans, yes, we are the folks that still get the lump in our throat as we see Old Glory waving and hear our national anthem. Obviously these troubles would have been fixed if they were easy because politicians will do just about anything to keep their cushy jobs. I'm not being negative about politicians, just sharing truth as I see it, that's all. You don't have to be a subscriber to the Tea Party movement to be fed up with those of all political stripes and persuasions who have far too long manipulated our governmental system to maintain power and their place on the dole. How can we be hopeful in what sometimes seems to be a hopeless world? I was talking with my sweet mom the other day and she was telling me how weary she becomes at times as she considers all that has happened to her in her eighty six year sojourn, and in this current crisis with my brother. But, she said the thought came to her that she should count her blessings so she with tears of thanksgiving began to echo back to the Father all that He had brought her through and all that He had provided to her. This became comfort to her heart because it is therapy sanctioned by God Himself. I'll call it the Tears of Thanksgiving Therapy Treatment Program.

I was talking with some boys the other night at our inner city Bible club meeting about how they can always remember God's love for them. They each were dealing with some difficulties in their lives. I told them that when they are feeling down and out, perhaps when things seem to be going wrong, they should take a minute and stretch out their arms. I had them stretch out their arms and they instinctively knew it was the sign of Jesus on the Cross. I asked them why Jesus was on that Cross. They replied because He paid for the sins of the world. I asked whose sins did He die for. They said for the sins of everyone. I had each one of them stretch out their arms and then call out their name when I asked who He died for. That's how personal it is when it comes to God's love. God didn't so love a blob of humanity that caused Him to send His one and only Son to die. No. His love was for individuals, men, women, boys, and girls, those with names, those with heartaches, troubles, and turmoil. Those in need of a Savior! I told those boys that anytime they find themselves in a really rough place where they are overcome with all that's going on, that they should take a minute and stretch out their arms because that is exactly what He did for them, for us, for you, and for me. That's right folks. Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so!

Yes. America is still a place where a fellow like me can go and share hope with some underprivileged children. While we take our freedoms for granted there are places today where sharing the message of Christ is illegal and can end up costing people their very lives. That's not a scare tactic. It's reality. Sadly, here in our own country, this very freedom of expression as it relates to God and His truth is under constant attack today. I fear that we will see in the not too distant future the passing of legislation that will make some truths from the Bible off limits or illegal, not way over across the ocean somewhere, but right here in our own beloved America. It will be packaged as anti-hate laws but the effect will be to stifle the proclamation of thus says the Word of the Lord. It is already beginning to begin and it has a head start with our neighbors up in Canada. I'm not sure what those of us will do when that day comes. I pray for the strength that God granted to our founders, many of whom came from places where oppression reigned, and their desire was to be able to freely worship God and to practice His Word based on the leading of their hearts. It will be difficult. It will be divisive. And, it's already started. God has blessed our nation greatly. We need God's blessings as we move forward but God will not be mocked, therefore, let us all pray that He will intercede and keep these freedoms alive and well as we move forward. God bless each of you and may God bless America! Amen.       ...More later.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What happened? Were your eyes bigger than your stomach?

Update on my brother Donald: We found out on Monday that he no longer requires the ICU level of care and has been moved to another area of the same acute care hospital. This is good news because it reflects progress. I could not have been more pleased with all the medical staff we met while he was in the ICU. Some were there because of it being their job. Others are there for the same reason but one could tell it was also their calling in life. I was there the morning that Donald developed a bleeding ulcer that could not be stopped. He became extremely critical and I watched one particular nurse turn on the overdrive as she was a blur of activity in taking care of business. I later told her that she is an example of what devotion along with expertise is all about. Thank God for those who truly care causing them to go above and beyond! Now we wait to see how he will progress in this new phase.

Happy Wednesday, October 20, 2010. You will be glad to know there are only 65 days until Christmas. I have been blessed with a number of promising inquiries regarding my work as Santa and will be trying to fix a schedule for the holiday season soon. Just so you know, I am aware that I occasionally throw in a wrong word here and there. My wife is always good to point out these miscues because she knows how important quality is to me. I do typically correct them on the main blog website,, which can be accessed at any time. This is also where my blogs are archived and will someday become an official member of the immeasurable electronic junk pile. Perhaps, Lord willing, if time continues as we know it, someday our little great grand bundle of Madelyn Joy, perhaps in her middle years, might say she wants to get to know her Grand Poppy better. Her mom can point her to whatever computing device they will be using then and maybe she can call up these writings and join with you all in reading, thinking, and then scratching her head. It might be like opening up one of those time capsule deals. I've heard about some of those that essentially ended up with everything inside having disintegrated. Sort of like that Geraldo TV special where they had found Al Capone's secret vault. Only one problem. After over an hour of build up, commercials, and contrived suspense, guess what happened? It was empty! Please don't ask me how I know about this because I sure wouldn't want anyone to know that I was one of those watching. Thanks for helping me in this matter.

I tend to splatter quite a few colloquialisms around each day. Many of them are dated, therefore, they are often met with a puzzled look and a furrowed brow. They are dated because I am, in fact, I'm way past my 'use by date' when it comes to relevance these days. But that doesn't stop me. I told the ladies here in the office that I am thinking about sharing with them a Colloquialism of the Day. More synchronized groaning. That came after I had made a noise with a cup in the microwave that startled them a little to which I asked, "What? You thought I had dropped the set out of my ring?" More puzzled stares. Working without a net could not be harder than this. I sure hope they don't think that someone "Beat me with an ugly stick." They must know that "This is not my first rodeo." It could be they think I'm "A few french fries short of a happy meal." (That one they do get, praise the Lord!) I might have to give in and accept the fact that this "Dog won't hunt." As long as I retain my self respect and don't come off as being "Dumb as a post." I suppose I should leave well enough alone before I end up being "Up the creek without a paddle." Of course many require explanation and that kind of kills it. I could say I feel like I've been rode hard and put up wet but very few people today would get the meaning. Horse people know that their animals should be dried, groomed, and taken care of after they have been ridden. See what I mean? It loses something when you talk about it. But, I'll keep at it, at least until "The cows come home." (Please don't write me about the differences between metaphors, similies, and/or colloquialisms, because as you can tell, it probably wouldn't do much to change what I am doing.)

Being in a room full of metal fabricators can be daunting as well. One day they were talking about how that someone had ground down some metal past its galvanized coating. I replied this would not be good because it likely destroyed its protective properties. Protective properties? One of the older dudes said I sure had a way with words because in all his years he didn't believe he had ever heard about how messing up galvanized metal could destroy its protective properties. One fellow said that he believed that what I had said was technically correct, or at least he thought it might be. Maybe I should have expressed it better by saying something like, "Messing up that metal made it weaker than Superman holding a bag full of kryptonite!" I can see you shaking your head. I hate it when you do that. It makes me think you think that I am "Crazy as a bessie bug." I will not even try to explain bessie bugs at this late date. Suffice it to say, or not to say, I've run out of time for this feeble attempt at figuring out how to fling fascinating funnies onto the electronic page. What's that you say? You are ready to run out as well? Okay, I'll just have to take my "Marbles and go home." Here's one we all can use: May God richly bless each and everyone and may we find ourselves thanking Him for all He does on our behalf. Amen.                   ......More later.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

There's little future in always living in the past? Huh?

The Bible gives us an expression we all should learn to embrace as we start each day: "This is the day that the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it." (Psalm 118:24) Saying this and meaning this can be difficult given the troubles we face at times. Then we have those of us who tend to remember the good old days and as we do they just seem to get better and better. So here we are on this Tuesday, October 19, 2010, and this is what I am ping ponging forth and back up there in that place where those gray cells tend to run wild. This doesn't mean that we shouldn't learn from the past and seek to keep the good things we experienced going. However, we can, if we are not careful, tend to tune out on the here and now and when it's all said and done, that's the only day we have to accomplish anything or to make a difference. I, like many folks, enjoy looking back and thinking about how things were way back when and that's why we call them the good old days. Yet, if we are not careful we can turn them into the much better days than they really were. Technology has changed our society but yet there are so many breakthroughs in medicine and in areas of improved safety, it would be hard for us to think we were better off without the technological advances we have seen in our lifetimes. Sure, I loved the simplicity of life the way it used to be, or, at least, the way I remember that it used to be.

I tell people all the time that while there are many ills that plague us as people in terms of the coarseness of our times, the misuse of technologies for evil, and how that the pace of life saps quality and a sense of family, there are also remarkable things for us to be proud of. I think about all the dead men that are still preaching the gospel all over the world, in languages far and wide. No. I'm not talking about folks being raised from the dead. I'm talking about digital technologies that have preserved the preaching ministries of men like Dr. J. Vernon MaGee, Dr. Adrian Rogers, and so many others. These men who have passed on to their reward are still reaching people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They are on the air 24 hours a day because of the same technologies used to do things that are not at all noble. See what I mean? And, it wasn't that different before in those good old days because people are people, today, just like they were back in the day. I still listen to these fellows when I can and nothing thrills me more than to hear letters read from people all over the world who have given their hearts to Christ as a result of these broadcasts.

I suppose to many of us we find ourselves wanting to pick and choose. We would love the slow pace of life back when folks didn't have so much to clutter up their day timers. In fact, not that many people used a day timer. However, the hectic world we live in provides an ability for medical folks to view digital images from any where in the world to provide cooperating consultation to help save lives. Experts in almost any field of study can help solve problems anywhere in the world in real time. Why, then are we so messed up? I think it's all about that one statement I made before, it's because the bottom line today is just like the bottom line of yesteryear. We all are fallen and as the infamous commercial where the lady is on the floor hollering that she can't get up, we can't either. We need someone to lift us up out of this condition and that Someone is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. Now don't get me wrong. I like strolling down memory lane as well as the next person. I enjoy seeing all of that through the lens of my fanciful recollection. But, there is the reality of life as it is and in our embracing it while taking advantage of all that God has allowed us to have in order to bring honor to Him and to extend a helping hand to others. I could bore you with some details about why I am running late, running on empty, running scared, or just running like a chicken with his head cut off. By the way, I've seen that last one so don't be doubting it as an example. However, we all are caught in the stuff that defines our day. Let's get out there and see what God can help us to accomplish, TODAY! Amen.         .....More later.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Now you know why you didn't get a check, you are still alive!

That would be correct folks. It is Monday, October 18, 2010. It is that day that people everywhere dread. Heigh ho heigh ho, it's off to work I go typically sung with a sad refrain. Maybe not. Perhaps that is not the way we see it today given the horrendous economic situation we are living through. Maybe those of us who have a job are singing that tune with a spark in our voice and a spring in our step. That makes we wonder why they don't make some of those tennis shoes for adults that light up and sparkle when you walk or jump up and down. That would be really neat, don't you agree? I remember a number of years ago a local famous consumer advocate (Marvin Zindler) was shown on television trying to convince the US Social Security worker that the man sitting beside him was very much alive even though their records indicated he was dead. The man had been several months without his retirement checks and had not been able to get his problem resolved. Well, well, well. That didn't happen to our current administration when it came time to hand out the stimulus checks. They sent out checks to 72,000 dead people and not to be topped by that, they also sent checks to 17,000 people serving time in prisons. Just so you know, the actual bill did not approve for dead people to get checks and it specifically prohibited payments to those incarcerated. Total amount of this oversight was 18 million dollars. Total recovered thus far is less than half. Total that will be spent trying to recover the remainder, Lord knows but we can guess it will likely far exceed the 18 million. Sure, I know the 18 million in the government's eyes is like 1.8 cents to them, but I can't help but remember how that local social security guy tried to dodge the issue about the man being alive when he was in fact sitting in front of him.

It reminds me of that Jerry Clower story about the fellows out in the cemetery taking down names the day before the election. In explaining their reason for doing this they said they believed in the right to vote for every individual and they were just doing their part to make sure no one was left out. We might laugh about that but I have a recollection of his first election to congress where some dead people's votes made the difference in Lyndon Johnson winning. The rest, as they say, is history. We live in a world where deceit is how things get done. There is a head coach of a major university who is well known for his lying. He lied to his previous school about whether he was going to leave. He has lied many times about important things that are actually on tape showing exactly what he did and what he said. Yet, because he has a winning record, all is overlooked. A few weeks ago I read about a computer spying operation that was busted. They had taken millions from their targets. This one was pretty clever. Instead of doing anything to mess up a person's computer, all they wanted was to capture keystrokes. It was more or less a recording of what the target PC was doing. Once they retrieved that data they could then dissect it and access the user's bank account or credit cards. Some of them will do time but when they are released they will be recruited and paid as experts to help folks prevent what they were able to do. When I think about this I can hear Granny Mac warning us: "You can't do wrong and get by."

That is always a perplexing question when folks who try to do right struggle while those who play loose and fast with the truth seem to prosper. There's a song that comes to mind that sets forth this puzzling paradox. The title is "Farther Along." It's not Father Along as thought by one of our song leaders when I was growing up. He always used it on Father's Day. The first verse goes: "Tempted and tried we're oft made to wonder, Why it should be thus all the day long, While there are others living about us, Never molested though in the wrong." The chorus answers this way: "Farther along we'll know all about it,  Farther along we'll understand why, Cheer up my brother live in the sunshine, We'll understand it all by and by." This is a question that has no doubt caused concern for faithful folks throughout time. The Apostle Peter said in his second letter that those deceiving preachers taking advantage of people for evil purposes are not going unnoticed by God and He will deal with them in His own good time. (See 2 Peter Chapter 2) Essentially, the bottom line says this about God. He knows how to deal with evil and He knows how to reserve the ungodly for punishment of their ungodly deeds. For those who are faithful but struggle in this life, we read that God's opinion of them is that the world they live in is not worthy of them. (See Hebrews Chapter 11) Thankfully, you and I who have put our trust in Christ can depend upon the payment He made on our behalf, therefore, we will face God as His very own beloved children, not stand with those who have rejected Him and prospered in their evil doings. It's not an us against them story. It is a truth claim that we stand upon that gives us something to rejoice about regardless of how things might play out in our day by day living. Amen.              .....More later.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Waiting for it to thunder so this thing will turn loose of me!

Good to see you. Why don't we sit here on the porch, enjoy a hot cup of coffee, and talk for a few minutes? That, my friend, is not a bad way to start your day on this Friday, October 15, 2010. This week I've been trying to figure out why I'm dragging a little. You know what I mean. It's that feeling like your get up and go has got up and went. Maybe it's just a case of the blahs or it could be a combination platter made up of lethargy and age. No. It has not caused me to alter my schedule or cancel any activities but it does make each day seem a little on the long side. My wife, and all women in general, have a quick answer whenever you are not feeling 100%: Go to the doctor. I have reminded her more than once that I already have a doctor's appointment pending. The problem comes when I tell her it's not until December. Let's hope that by then I will have a new set of complaints to deal with and this week of dragging around will be filed under the "Let's not do that again" category. I believe she also mentioned that ragweed is exceptionally high right now and since I'm not even sure I know what ragweed is, I'll put this one on his tab. Sorry ragweed but someone has to take the rap. I looked up ragweed and it said it is best known for the pollen it produces that causes widespread allergies. That's not much to be known for but I do hope it doesn't hang on like a snapping turtle does because where I came from it was always said that once they bite they won't turn loose until it thunders.

The other day I heard a comedian on the radio talking about the crazy things that parents say to their children. I was trying to remember some of the ones I picked up and used, and ironically, some of them have been handed down to my boys because I've heard them say them also. "You had better straighten up and fly right." "Wipe that smile off your face." "Look at me when I'm talking." "Don't give me that look." "You want me to give you something to cry about?" "You've got the same clothes to get glad in." Much of my mom's stuff related to how that the six of us would get on her nerves. She, a young widow, had her hands full trying to work and take care of us rowdy kids. Often she would tell us that we would not be satisfied until we put her in Pineville. Pineville was where the state insane asylum was located. I still use that one today and no one gets it but it always gives me an opportunity to share a story. When we were crying my grandfather liked the one about how sad it would be if a sudden freeze came and froze our face. Obviously, they do not have to be scientifically sound or even plausible because they are intended to convey a message. You have to love, "You are crusin for a brusin." Somehow we and they survived and I suppose many will continue the legacy of lunacy as described in how it's not, with all due respect to the late Art Linkletter, always the kids who say the darndest things.

They tell us that over one billion people watched at least some of the live feed of those Chilean miners being rescued. One fellow who has gained some notoriety had to deal with the fact that both his wife and his girlfriend showed up for the welcome home celebration. The wife didn't know about the girlfriend but she does now. This was a wonderful example of people using technology and cooperation to save the lives of these men. There were folks from many different countries who participated in the rescue effort. One of the Chilean engineers said it was 75% science and 25% miracle. The world is filled up with lots of bad news and it goes 24 hours a day, however, people are clamoring for a good news story as seen in the worldwide response to this event. We who are believers are reminded that the word Gospel actually means 'good news'. It is good news because it tells about the love of God and His sending His Son to die for the sins of the world. This is the good news message needed to be heard and responded to by many of those one billion who watched the mine rescue. Good news for them and good news for us. And that's an excellent good news story to end the work week on as we anticipate our Saturday and Lord's Day Sunday. Amen. Until next time I will be thinking about thinking about something for Monday and I will do my best to straighten up that Slow Men Working sign until I can shed this draggy feeling. See you then!             .....More later.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

To be or not to be one with a bucket list. That is the question?

Hello friends and neighbors and those just hitchhiking out on the world wide web (www). Welcome to another edition of if we ever find out who influenced this guy to write a blog they will be in trouble. But, how in the world are you anyway on this Thursday, October 14, 2010? The other day I was talking to a fellow who had previously been a CFO for a string of senior apartment homes but now had taken a job selling cars. I asked him what had ever possessed him to make that type of change. Basically, he had lost his job because of the downturn in the economy and he simply said it was something that was on his bucket list. I hear that a lot these days. I hear it in the halls where our local fellowship of believers meet. I hear people comparing notes about their bucket list. Okay, I knew it was about a book that was made into a movie but I had not fully realized how it somehow became a part of everyday dialogue. Didn't read the book. Didn't see the movie, but, yes, it has to do with developing a list of things you want to experience before you kick the bucket. Get it? The bucket list. You may have one. I don't. Yours might include jumping out of a perfectly good airplane or maybe climbing up on some famous peak somewhere. This doesn't mean I don't have things I've always wanted to do or unfulfilled dreams. I just don't have a list, therefore, I am somewhat at a disadvantage when other folks are comparing notes.

My escapist dream world has always been wrapped up in travel, time travel and world travel. I know people who say they rarely if ever dream. That would not be me! Since I was a kid I have anticipated the meaning behind the Everly Brothers' hit, "All I Have to Do is Dream". I've always worked pretty hard at things that I like or that I find interesting and I've taken dreaming very seriously during my sojourn here. At a very young age I would read a book and then I would go to sleep and visit the very place I had read about. Same for a TV program, movie, or even a thought or an idea. I've visited most of the known time periods from biblical days to current events. You would be surprised how many historical events that I have seen up close and personal. Many of my dreams tend to take me on train rides. I love trains. Perhaps it's because my dad was involved in the train industry prior to his untimely death. I sleep dreaming about how wonderful it is to sleep while traveling on a train. What's that you say? You are now beginning to understand just how weird I am? No thank you. I don't think lying on a couch will help me at this point and time. I can't remember if I have ever dreamed about losing my ability to dream but I can tell you that is a scary thought. I've read quite a bit about all that dreams supposedly tell us about ourselves and how they help us to work through real world problems. I think mine are mostly a playground for a mental condition that stays on overdrive but needs an outlet from time to time. Please don't send me some doctor's name because I still can be somewhat excited about where I might be traveling to as I prepare for bed time. I sure wouldn't want to fix this problem.

I actually have written a series of stories for children about a boy who has a Bible story read to him each evening before bed time, and then he in his dreams reenacts that story with himself as one of the characters. I may never do anything with these stories but I do have my grandson's approval concerning the one about David and Goliath as being the best story he had ever heard read. I'll take that recognition as a handful on purpose being more important to me than you might imagine. As for as a bucket list, I am not sure where I would start. I do know something about what should concern me the most about my time here on the planet. There's a somewhat obscure passage from the Old Testament Prophet Micah where he asks a very probing rhetorical question: "He has shown you, O man, what is good;  And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy,  And to walk humbly with your God?" (Chapter 6:8)  I don't know about you, but to me trying to deal with this challenge would more or less cause my bucket to overflow with convictions and concerns. I would hope that any of us who take the time to make a list would include things that contribute to our testimony as a child of the Living God. You may be someone who never dreams but you sleep well and God has given you the life you have. Because I am a devoted dreamer does not make me better than someone else because we are all different. But one thing we all have in common. That verse from Micah is one size fits all and that includes every mother's child. Amen. Have a great day and I'll either see you later or maybe you will show up somewhere along the way as I travel the globe.         .....More later.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

It's Wednesday, the 13th, but don't be scared. Okay?

Here it is Wednesday already, October 13, 2010 and the week seems to be whirring by. Don't you love folks who study things out and provide us with information so we can discuss and speculate until the cows come home? I've often wondered about the 13th of the month and knowing how superstitious some folks are, what would it be like if it was some other day of the week that caused such alarm? Well, as it turns out, over a 400 year cycle the distribution of when the 13th falls on any particular week day is almost the same within a fraction, therefore, you don't have to become paranoid thinking that today, Wednesday, the 13th, would have given you more days to worry about black cats and all the other stuff that people obsess over. I did find out that the 13th will always fall on Friday when the month starts on a Sunday. I said I found that out, I didn't say I tested it to be accurate. That came from the mathematical people who study distributions and calendars and stuff like that. Sounds like a really interesting field of study, don't you think? Not for me but I am glad somebody chose to do it because otherwise I would be writing about something else, maybe even less interesting than this subject. You say that's hard to imagine, well, I will tell you that some days finding something really good is about as scarce as hen's teeth. Just so you know, according to the phrase scarce as hen's teeth originated in the 1800's and since hen have no teeth it is used to indicate something to be so scarce as to be practically non-existent. You say you could have figured that out on your on? It would not have surprised me to hear that hen actually do have teeth especially after I saw them with teeth in that animated movie Chicken Run.

You know you are really bored when you actually tune in to political debates from races that are in a state that you do not live in. But, I plead guilty because there's something about folks going at it that helps frame the issues that will shape the upcoming political environment that we all will live in. The President has switched to the Campaigner in Chief mode and he is out there trying to rekindle the fire and stir up the troops that voted him into office in 2008. He is good at campaigning. For those of us who do not like his policies, we might wish he was as good at finding a more balanced approach to his agenda. Even his most ardent supporters are beginning to wonder about his legacy. There's a current article in Time Magazine that voices concern about whether he is really in over his head as President. This comes from folks who usually are falling all over themselves to say only good things about the President. I wrote about that Presidential seal falling off the lectern when he was speaking the other day. His response was very telling. I thought it would have been a great opportunity for him to tell a self deprecating joke but instead he said something about how that it shouldn't be a problem since he thought that everyone knew who he was. See what I mean? Sure, every person who reaches the highest position in our country would have to feel somewhat full of themselves, but, to me, I've not seen anyone lately that exudes such a "it's all about me, all the time" attitude more than our current President. While we might laugh at President Clinton's "I feel your pain" approach, it certainly seems better than a demonstrated attitude of lordship and entitlement that is so much a part of our current first family.

It might be a good time to remind you that the views expressed in this blog do not constitute an endorsement by the people who read this blog, or something like that. I actually don't have a problem with people who disagree with me, even about the vote they cast for our current President. I can understand why people in the black community overwhelmingly support the first African American to become President of the United States. A recent national poll showed this to be exactly the case. Over 90% of blacks approve of President Obama's performance in office while less than 30% of whites agree. At first glance one could easily agree with those who say so much for the fellow who promised to heal the racial divide, but I do know it goes much deeper than this. The folks in the black community believe that he is being unfairly treated because of the color of his skin. They believe this to be the case because they, in their own heart and mind, believe they have lived that very same thing in their own lives. They are quick to point out the failings of his white predecessors and how to them he is getting a raw deal when it comes to criticism. I support their right to see it that way. And, I also think it important for us all to seriously consider their concerns. At the same time, I also have a right to see it the way I see it. Obviously, I have not lived my life through the lens through which they see things, but I have a right to evaluate, determine, and conclude my support or lack of support based on my beliefs, values, and what I hold to be dear. That's what elections are about and that's why we all need, red, yellow, brown, black, and white, to seek God and His direction for our nation, and for our families, and for us as individuals, each and every day. Amen.                ......More later.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I've been meaning to call but you know how busy I stay and how time seems to slip away.

It's Tuesday, October 12, 2010, Monday is behind us, and we have today to do what we can with the time we have available to us. Time is getting away from us and I am aware that we need not sit and fret over each second as it vanishes before our eyes. At the same time we should be aware that when it comes to people and things we want them to know or something special we want to say to them, it pays to do it now. We all likely have some regrets over some things that we needed to have said but because the time was never right or we didn't take the time to do it, it's now too late. I'm not always a spontaneous type of person because I tend to mull things over before I act. This can easily turn into procrastination and my wife believes in my case it doesn't need to turn into it because it's there already just as a way of how I do or don't do things. However, there are times when I have someone on my mind and I at least consider that perhaps God has placed them there. A few times this prompted me to call them leading to a conversation that ended up being a huge blessing. We had a fellow in our Church service stand up one day and with tears he pleaded with everyone to tell those near to them of their love each time they leave home. He had just experienced the loss of a co-worker who had left home one morning but was killed in an accident. This had caused him to appreciate and count precious the moments we have to tell others of our love and care for them.

Many years ago I remember when folks were passing out little "Round Tuit" plaques to remind people about how easy it is to say I'll do it whenever I can get around to it. When you told them this as a response they would solve your problem by handing you a "Round Tuit." Of course this didn't solve the issue but it did bring a smile and maybe even jolted the thought process a little. Let me let you in on a secret. We typically are not going to get around to a lot of things that we should get around to doing. I hear myself from so many years ago talking through my children as they tell their children maybe in a little while, or when I get a few minutes, or not now but later. Some of that is natural but it can become not only habit forming but habitual in how we respond as it relates to the use of our time.Taking time could become one of the greatest investments we will ever make. How about taking the time to share a word of truth with someone because they are on your heart? We've all heard the testimonies of how 'that' conversation became the last one, but it ended in victory because someone took the time to make that contact. I suppose if we wait long enough to get around to it we will fulfill that popular folk song's message: "But, I ain't gonna need this house no longer, Ain't gonna need this house no more, Ain't got time to fix the shingles, Ain't got time to fix the floor, Ain't got time to oil the hinges, Or to mend the window pain, Ain't gonna need this house no longer, I'm a-gettin' ready to meet the saints."

The song is a metaphor for our life. There are probably some repairs I need to make and maybe even a few you can think of in your life. I just thought of another song that pretty much sums it up. It's one that my wife and I used to sing. It's about a decision being made to finally trust the Lord but it was made, One Day Too Late. "And you came one day too late, yes, just one day too late, Jesus came and you've been left behind, Yesterday you couldn't find time for Jesus on your mind, You finally came to call His name, one day too late." That can be true about so many things in our life. I'm sitting here thinking about a number of 'I should have', 'wish I would have', situations that will never be able to be responded to again. Some of these came not one day too late but way too many days too late. You might have thought of someone or something while you were trying to make sense out of all these words I've put on the electronic page. My suggestion would be not to reject those thoughts because we all need to be reminded of the difference between the incessant demand of the urgent versus the whispering quiet call of that which can be of eternal value. Enough said. We all should be out there somewhere listening for those whispers. Good advice and counsel, for me, for you, for us all! Amen.          .......More later.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Facts are good but not always useful, God's truth will always be beneficial!

It is Monday, October 11, 2010, Columbus Day, and a holiday for some folks. It's also Thanksgiving Day in Canada but for many of us, we should be reminded that every day is a day to give thanks. Why? According to the Psalmist, it's because God's mercy endures forever! Read Psalm 136 and it will get you off to a great start. And, that's information you can use. Have you ever thought about how much time we spend talking about trivia that really doesn't amount to a hill of beans? There are 6.8 billion people breathing air on the planet. Only 6 will make it to age 116. See there? You learn something new every day. I would bet you didn't know that banging your head against the wall burns up 150 calories per hour. You thought it only gave you a headache. As for those buzzing flies, they hum in the middle octave of the key of F. If you are a baseball used in a major league game, you won't be around for very long because the average lifespan is 7 pitches. Women blink twice as often as men and I thought she was doing it only to annoy me. All polar bears are left handed so now you know which side to avoid when they are chasing you. The word stewardesses is the longest English word that can be typed using only the left hand but you are not allowed to call them that anymore, they are now flight attendants and that takes both hands. You see how they are always making life difficult?

Here's a scary fact. On average 12 newborns are given to the wrong parents every day. The phrase "rule of thumb" was actually derived from an old English law that said you were not allowed to beat your wife with anything wider than your thumb. I know my wife is breathing a sigh of relief on that one! The Guinness Book of Records holds the record for being the most often stolen book from public libraries. I wonder if they get a prize for that? Charlie Chaplin, the early film star, once entered a Charlie Chaplin look alike contest. He finished third. That microwave oven you use everyday has an interesting history. The idea for it came about when a researcher walked past a radar tube one day and a chocolate bar melted in his pocket. A normal human heart produces enough pressure to squirt blood for thirty feet. The term concrete jungle is well named because each year there is one ton of cement poured for every person on earth. The slogan you will find on New Hampshire license plates says Live Free or Die. You guessed it. They are made by prisoners serving time in the state penitentiary system. At one time Michael Jordon was paid more by Nike in one year than all the factory workers that make Nike products added together. And finally, be careful out there because on average 100 people per year choke to death on ballpoint pens.

These tidbits of trivia came from a website listing of useless facts. They might have some merit if life was nothing more than a game of Trivial Pursuit. But life is not trivial. Each week when we go into the inner city for our Crosstrainer Bible Club we attempt to bring God's truth to the boys and girls who attend. We first and foremost want them to know the facts that God has provided to them in how that they, we all, are sinners because we all do things that are wrong. (Romans 3:23) Next we want them to know there is a consequence for this sinful condition as spelled out in Romans 6:23 and those wages are paid out in death. But the verse doesn't end there, it goes on, "but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." The good news is how that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us! (Romans 5:8) It's as simple as A-B-C. A, we have to agree with God and admit that we are a sinner in need of salvation and ask for forgiveness, and turn away from our sin. B, we have to believe with our heart (innermost being) the truth that Jesus died, was buried, and three days later gloriously rose from the dead. (1st Corinthians 15:1-4) C, we have to confess with our mouths, make a public profession of the heart change that has taken place as a result of our believing in Jesus. (Romans 10:9-10) I have a friend who calls those verses God's T-N-T (Romans Ten, Nine, and Ten), because it is an explosive truth that will very much radically change one's life! Now that's some facts that will change one's eternal destination and enrich the life here that God has given. It's what every one of the 6.8 billion need to hear including the 6 who will reach 116! Amen. Have a great work week and may God bless us all!             ......More later.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Let's hope we never do something that goes viral on YouTube!

Update on my brother, Donald: He continues to make improvements in his alertness and his awareness of his surroundings. The doctors tell us that his heart has done pretty well throughout this ordeal but he will eventually have to deal with the need for surgery when he is able. He has come a long way in the past two weeks and we are thankful to God for these improvements. Thanks to so many who ask about his status and pray for him each day. We continue to desire God's will and His best for Donald.

Okay. It is Friday and you did make it, so give yourself a pat on the back, and take a few minutes to catch your breath and relax on this October 8, 2010. Talk about having a bad day, I suppose when you are up on the podium speaking and the presidential logo falls off the lectern, well, if you are President Obama, you must begin to wonder if this wasn't a sign. For those of us who disagree with his policies, we certainly thought it was symbolic because it might reflect on what we hope will be a falling off of the wheels on some of these programs he has instituted. Most folks who criticize the President's policies are called racists by those who support him. If you are black and you disagree with this administration's vision then you are branded a traitor. Believe me, there's plenty of name calling to go around! I am very much aware there are no doubt plenty out there who do not like the President because of the color of his skin. That's not me. I actually voted for Dr. Alan Keyes, a black man, a true conservative, when he ran for the office. Most people thought my vote to have been null and void because he didn't have a chance of winning. But it wasn't null and void to me. He was, in my opinion, the candidate that best mirrored my values, hopes, and aspirations for our nation, therefore, I voted my conscience and that my friend is what makes America the land of the free and the home of the brave.

That clip of the presidential seal falling off during the President's speech is captured and available for all to view out on the internet. While that is part of the good news, bad news story of how instant information flows in our modern technology driven world, I will tell you that I am glad that most of my mishaps remain known only to me and a few others. There was an entire industry of ridicule built up around the mispronunciations of words or the use of the wrong word by former President George W. Bush. Television can be so bad these days that we often find ourselves watching reruns of America's Funniest Videos. We certainly enjoy seeing the embarrassing moments of others but may not be so inclined to laugh out loud at our own foibles. However, part of maturing in life is learning to laugh at ourselves. I just wish I didn't give myself so much material to work with and with age it seems to be increasing. I can remember back in the day when I worked as a part of the corporate world how that most folks obsessed over how they came across, paying a lot of attention to avoiding any embarrassing situations, and in general, trying always to put their best foot forward. Guess what? You can fret and fuss all you want but stuff happens my friend and when we are all so up tight all the time, it actually only amplifies it when it does. I've seen people who were the personification of professionalism reduced to tears by something as simple as a screen malfunction or their chair tipping over. The sooner we all learn to laugh, it is the sooner we become better equipped to handle life in a gaffe prone world. And, just so you know, it's always funnier when it's the other fellow, right?

Those embarrassing moments are typically indelibly etched in our memory. I know I can remember some all the way back to when I was just a youngster. That's why it's so important for us to come to grips with the fact that we all are capable of messing up because we all carry with us the same humanity. I talk with folks who are believers but they have failed to appreciate what that means to their everyday life. One of our enemy's greatest weapons is to have us live beneath our true status as a believer in Christ. I'm talking truth here not some gimmick of psychological self talk. If you have trusted Christ as your Savior then you are who God says you are and He says that you are His own beloved child. He says that He will never leave you nor will He ever forsake you. In fact, He tells us that nothing can separate us from His love. Now some folks take this identity and try to merchandise it by adding  health, wealth, and prosperity to the equation. Sadly, this has misled so many. Again, what does the truth say about who we really are in Christ? Truth tells us that even in the worst of circumstances, even those that might lead to our death, we, as a child of God are still victorious, in fact, He tells us that we are more than conquerors! A good place to read quite a bit about this identity truth is found in Romans Chapter 8. We need to know the truth. Jesus said that knowing the truth will set one free. Free. Yes, free, even from our embarrassing moments, because we know who we really are! Amen. That's a good way to end a busy work week and prepare for Saturday and Lord's Day Sunday. Until next time I join with Roy and Dale in these parting words: "Happy trails to you, until we meet again. Happy trails to you, keep smilin' until then. Who cares about the clouds when we're together? Just sing a song and bring the sunny weather. Happy trails to you, 'till we meet again."            .......More later.