Monday, February 28, 2011

Find what works best for you, then, get on with it!

Good Monday to one and all on this last day of February, the 28th in this the year of 2011. Next year is a leap year so we will have 29 days to get things done in this month. This weekend I ended up making the decision. To Facebook or not to Facebook, that was the question before me. I enjoy keeping up with all that is going on within our family, our network of Church folks, as well as friends who we do not see very often. I had been piggy backing onto my wife's Facebook. There is a function within Facebook that allows you to chat with your friends while you are online. When I was on my wife's page, often her network of friends and family would initiate a chat session. I typically would ignore their requests and a few times I admitted to impersonating my wife. They thought it was odd that I didn't just man up and get my own Facebook page. The reason I had not done so in the past was because while I greatly enjoyed keeping up with the latest news from folks, I really didn't want to deal with the overhead of maintaining and keeping up with my own page. BUT, that was yesterday's news, and as of this past Saturday I am now an official Facebook participant with over 100 friends and my wife's circle can now live in peace, chat to their heart's content, and generally not be bothered by the silent hacker.

We had a very busy Saturday and Sunday. We all do live busy lives. I am a very early morning person. Many are not. Many wonder why I come in to the office so early. Many wonder why I arrive at the Church property so early. Simply stated, it works for me. I think it is important to learn what works best. I've worked with people who couldn't get any gray cells to even concede a new day until after 9 a.m. That would be some 5 hours later than my start time. I do my blog when I first get to work. On Sunday mornings I help get everything going at our Church and I also have some quiet time to work through the lesson I will be teaching, one last time. Here's what I have learned. Many times and I do mean many, God uses that last review to give me something special for His people, those in my class. That may sound like a small thing to you but to me, it is huge. Bottom line, it works for me and I don't like to mess with anything that is working. You might have similar or better results doing it quite differently. Amen for that! My 'what works for me' along with my age is no doubt a factor as I continue this journey. I am becoming Paw Paw Mac in so many ways. When I get home I sit in the recliner, supposedly to catch the news, and within a couple of minutes I am snoring away. And, like my granddad, when I am awakened I immediately announce that I wasn't really sleeping, and the response is typically one of jeering and laughing. The other evening I asked for an independent opinion from our five year old grandson, Alexander Benjamin. He immediately made a pig snorting kind of noise and said, "Poppy, you sounded just like an old man and you were so loud." Cartoons. The things they teach our children. Sad. Don't you agree?

I was able to visit my younger brother yesterday over in Webster, Texas. As you know, he continues to work through a myriad of health challenges brought on by a massive heart attack last August. It's only by the grace of God that he is still alive. I thought it interesting that he was wearing his Marine t-shirt, because that status as a Marine defined so much of his life. His mental faculties are very cloudy but we usually find something to laugh about together. Yesterday I reminded him of how he loved to fish when he was a young boy. He would get home from school and go out in the field to dig him some earth worms. Then, he and his dog Lobo would head to Brushy Creek. Barefooted and with only the very basic fishing equipment, he would usually return with several good sized sun perch. I told him that little creek was so thick and entangled with varmints of all kinds, that I would have not even wanted to wear shoes there, much less go barefooted. He seemed to catch some of that and had a huge smile as I rehearsed those memories with him. Donald is receiving good care from his companion, Dotty. She has a huge responsibility and it is essentially one that takes up every minute of every hour, each and every day. He is still in need of medical care and attention. He still needs God's help in his recovery. Therefore, I ask you to mention his name as you pray. As one who spent 20 years serving our country, he does perk up some when you talk about his days in the Marine Corp. We thank God for him and his service and we thank everyone who has sought God and His help during this difficult time. I do send my best wishes to each one, that you will have a great work week, and that God will bless you as you go. Amen.             .....More later.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Gleaned from the internet: If you are choking on an ice cube, quickly drink some very warm water!

Hello everyone, it's Friday, February 25, 2011 and the surfing is up. Yeah. Surfing, not surf. The internet surfing, of course. It is amazing what you can find if you learn how to utilize the search capabilities and archival sites out on the internet. I have done quite a bit on our family lineage. I've found out things I didn't know. I bumped into and worked closely with a distant cousin who has been at the ancestor tracking business much longer than I. I've hit many road blocks, and dead ends and probably have been frustrated more than I've been rewarded, but some of those rewards that I have discovered have been very special. I know there are quite a few older folks, like myself, who use the internet. I actually wish they were more. I have happened upon an old chum, only to find out it's not him, it's not even his son, but it's his grandson for heaven's sake. Come on guys, get with the program. Down a couple of those anti-inflammatories and get those fingers limbered up and let them do some walking down memory lane. I know it can be challenging but it can also be exciting as the bits and bytes here and there begin to show up. I've found photos of folks I haven't seen in fifty years. I've also discovered the deaths of some that I had not heard about their passing. I know the internet can be a great tool of promise but it can also become a plague when it is misused and abused, but what a wonderful facility to help us to stay in touch, share updates, and to connect families and friends, old and new, near and far. My mom uses her little email computer every day. She is quite good at it too. She will be 86 in May. See what I mean? Help me out here. For all you guys that I used to run with so many years ago, here's the bottom line: I don't have that much in common with your grands and great grands.

One of the things I noticed when I was listening to the New Zealand radio station in the aftermath of the earthquake was a complete absence of any mention of God, prayer, or anything related. The stats say that over 50% of the country's population identify themselves as being Protestant. I had the station up in a small window on my computer for several hours and never heard anyone bring up the subject of God. My sampling is not scientific but it seemed very odd to me. Usually, after something so horrendous, someone, at least one, would call out to God for help, or ask people to pray for them. I did see an Anglican Bishop on a news report on Australian TV and he did ask people to pray. But, no one on the talk radio program did. They did talk about the spunk and resilience of New Zelanders. They mentioned how that folks were helping each other to cope. But no mention of God. Again, I'm not saying there are not folks on their knees in New Zealand but it just seemed eerie to me not to hear anyone calling on the Creator for help. I know when we suffered the major hit from Hurricane Ike, every day was a day where we sought God's provision. I'm not condemning them, I'm only reminding us all that when we are at the end of our way, for whatever the reason, we need to seek out and turn to He who said, "I AM The Way, The Truth, and The Life." (Read about it in John's Gospel, Chapter 14)

Another busy work week is drawing to a close. I can tell by the old tick tock on the wall that it's time for us to say farewell. Yeah. I know. I've listened to one too many radio and TV sign offs in my time. Who can forget Cronkite's, "And that's the way it is.", or Paul Harvey in his signature, "Good Day!". One from yesteryear, John Cameron Swayze, "I am glad we could get together.", or the one used by the famed news broadcaster, Edward R. Murrow, "Good night and good luck." The sign off by the Ted Baxter character on the Mary Tyler Moore Show was pretty good, "Good night and good news." One I like is found in the Old Testament. It was spoken by Moses in the Book of Numbers, Chapter 6, Verses 24-26:  “The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.” Amen. That's a wonderful way for me to bid you farewell until we meet again. While none of us know what each new day might bring, it is our privilege to know the One who does. Have a great Saturday and Lord's Day Sunday, and enjoy, until once again you sign in and see that garbled greeting from yours truly.                     .....More later.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

No matter where we live, near or far away, everyone needs the Lord.

It's another Thursday and I am particularly thankful for this day where I am, for the most part, safe and sound, and it is another day that the Lord has given to us on this February 24, 2011. I say that after having listened for sometime to a 24 hour talk radio program from Christchurch, New Zealand. For those who may have been hiding in a cave for the past few days, Christchurch, a city of 400,000, has suffered catastrophic damage by one major earthquake and from a series of major follow-on after shocks over the last three days. This comes on the hills of a major hit they took last September. Listening to men, women, boys, and girls share their experiences, many almost too horrible to contemplate, makes me aware of just how fragile this life is, and just how much we need the Lord our God. As of this morning, 98 are reported as dead with more than two hundred still missing. Looking at the images makes these numbers seem like miracles because you are immediately struck in wondering how anyone could have made it out of all these collapsed structures. I am aware of the sentiment that prevails today where many would just as soon not know anything about tragic happenings like this. To me, it is a matter of concern because people are suffering  and while I can't be there, I can do what I can do, I can pray. That's something we all can do. I am reminded how the Apostle Paul asked that folks in far away places pray for those suffering back in his homeland of Judea. I won't share any of the gut wrenching phone calls I've listened to but I do ask that all of you out there will take a moment and remember the people of New Zealand in prayer as they deal with trying to recover from this devastating event.

We are surrounded by a world in turmoil and while some put out notices about signs and wonders and how they connect to the end of the world, I would only remind us all that every day we have is another opportunity to get right with God, therefore, it's always the right time to turn to Him. You've probably heard my view of when the 'last days' started more than you have wanted, but as I see it, we've been in them ever since our Lord ascended back into heaven. This doesn't mean that we are not getting closer! We have to be closer to His return today than we were yesterday. Duh! But it is true that one day will come when on that day He will usher in the final scenario and our Bible tells us it will be similar to how it happened in Noah's days. Noah preached and preached. Other than his immediate family, no one responded. Finally, God Himself closed the door to the ark. That was then, and we now await the Day when He will implement His final plan. It is appropriate for us to talk about these things openly because there is a clear sense in which God calls us to flee the wrath to come. To warn others is an act of love and concern, not a sky is falling mentality. Therefore, while I cannot connect up all the dots, I can remind us all that our Bible teaches that today is the day of salvation and my fervent prayer is that everyone who reads my blog will have answered God's call to come unto Him. Amen.

Rodney and I, taken more than a few weeks ago!
We enjoyed our birthday luncheon yesterday with our Rodney. Family matters. Maybe that's one thing we can learn from all the calamities we hear about. That is, to hold close those who God has given to you in your life. To spend time with those who mean so much to you. At home. In your local fellowship because they are, after all, your brothers and sisters in Christ. I am blessed to have grown up in a loving family where we all were glued together with family glue. Not everyone has had that privilege. But, thank God I've heard many who say they have found that same family experience in the local fellowship of believers. Now think about that for a moment. And, just so you know, that's exactly the way God intended for it to work. We do live in a world where folks are looking for love and like the song says, way too often they are looking in all the wrong places. Been there and done that. I well remember when I thought wearing a certain brand of business suit and expensive shoes made me a little better than the next guy. I know what it means to have plenty of perks and for folks to open the door for me. Guess what? When it is all said and done, you can take all of that, wrap it up in a huge package, take it down to the coffee shop, put $2 with it, and you might get a small cup to go. Here's what I have learned about family. I've had the loving response from kids who live in the inner city. They've come in all colors, shapes, and sizes. I've seen their tears. I've felt their hugs. I've had the mutual love that comes from being connected to our Church family and I can tell you, it's just like the children sing, deep and wide. Finally, I am most blessed to have my wife, children, their children, and their children, along with my mom and dad, sisters, and brother, and all my other huge extended families. Yes, the song is right: WE ARE FAMILY! Praise the Lord. Amen.            .....More later.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I pretty much live in a confused state of mind, what's your excuse?

I think the rhyme originally said, "Wednesday's child is full of woe," but I am almost certain that would not work in today's world, with global warming and political correctness, therefore, it's most likely been replaced with something much more positive. I was born on a Friday and that day supposedly reflects a child who is loving and giving. However, I suppose because of the time zones across the globe we have folks being born on one day that would be another day had they been born somewhere else. Perhaps that is why we are all so confused. You know, am I a child filled with promise or a child filled with woe? It depends on when and where you were born and in many cases, how a particular country establishes an official birth date. Oh. Now I see. I think. And, since we all are typically looking for an excuse, that one sounds about as good as any other. It is Wednesday, February 23, 2011 and we continue our journey. Speaking of excuses, I remember one fellow in a Church I attended who had an interesting excuse for why he wasn't able to attend sometimes. He said the preacher told him that when it comes down to it, one excuse is just about as good as another. Therefore, he would say when asked why he wasn't able to make it to service, "I had a banana in my refrigerator." I knew the story but not everyone did. You can imagine the looks he got when he offered up that one.

The time zone thing can get rather complicated. I've told this before but maybe you didn't get it. When I worked for the big company we added a network location in Australia. They would transmit their production data and closing figures based on a schedule. One night one of my shift supervisors in the Houston office had to talk to the contact person in Australia about a problem. He asked the fellow was it already tomorrow there. The guy responded with an affirmative. He then wanted to know who had won the music awards. This caused a huge roar of laughter on the part of the Aussies, because, of course, the music awards show had not been on yet, even though it was already tomorrow down under. It can be confusing and I will admit that when I talked to the office in Australia I did have to do quite a bit of checking to make sure when the person I needed would be available because of the time zone difference. But, that's what makes the world confusing but at least it is immediately accessible in our modern world. When I was a kid I used to lay in my bed at night and listen to radio stations from all over the world. I didn't understand many of the languages but I was intrigued in being able to listen. Today I actually do some of the same. Through a variety of radio sites out on the internet I can pick up stations literally all over the globe. Nearly every country has at least one or two English speaking stations and I still get a big kick out of checking them out. You don't think that would interest you in the least? That's okay because I am sure you like at least one or two things that wouldn't even make a blip on my radar screen. We are different. Thank God.

Rodney with his mom, taken a few weeks ago.
Today, Lord willing, me, my wife, and our three sons, along with Rodney's wife will meet for lunch. The occasion is to recognize our baby boy's 40th birthday coming up this weekend. Rodney will be 40 years old. Rodney will be forty years old? Rodney, the child entertainer and singer? Rodney, the jokester? Wow! All our boys will now be in their 40's. That is hard to take in folks but it does reflect the marking of time as we continue our sojourn here. The great news is how that Rodney has developed as a man, a husband, a dad, and in his spiritual walk with the Lord. Don't get me wrong, he is still the life of the party, and the go to guy to keep things hopping at any family gathering. He and I often discuss the latest sermon he has heard or a Bible passage he is thinking about. I always feel humbled to be able to hand down some of what I have learned along the way. Rodney's life is filled up with family. He is a busy husband and dad. He desires to be there for his kids. He has told me many times that regardless of other demands, he does not want to look back and have regrets about how he supported his kids. Mitzi, his sweet wife, the daughters: Kyleigh and Lexie, and chip off the block son: Mr. Brady, (Bray Bray) are the focal point of his desire to support them, as well as to lead them. We are impressed with the wisdom he has obtained and we are so very thankful to God for this, our baby boy. Happy Birthday Rodney and may God continue to bless you in all you do. Amen.          .....More later.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Treasures found in a life well lived!

Good Tuesday morning and welcome to another day, on this February 22, 2011. I have never denied that I am a little eccentric, or maybe weird, or missing a little here and there, but I cannot tell a lie, because I have for many years been fascinated in reading obituaries and eulogies. They come in all shapes, sizes, and formats. Some are extremely brief while others go on and on. They reflect the last commentary on a person's life. I do know, and we all should take note, that by the time our obituary is written, it's actually too late to get done the things that will leave behind a lasting impression for good. That's not only a matter of fact, it also reflects a biblical principle about using the time we have to make a difference. Maybe I really am like what my grandfather used to say about a crayfish, who always travels backwards because he doesn't really care that much about where he's going, but rather, is more focused on where he has been. I have read some really wonderful tributes to people over the years. I've read some that immediately grab your heart and there's no way you can hold back the tears. Some illustrate the accomplishments in academics, business, military, social, and political arenas. Others speak of family, friends, devotion, caring, and efforts put forth to help their fellow citizens at home and abroad. I read one this past weekend that really got my attention. I don't know this lady. I don't know her family. But I do know her through the wonderful women God has placed in my life. It was published by a funeral home in the area where I grew up.

"Our precious momma, grandma, and best friend, made a change in her address on February 17, 2011 at 7:52 am. Her new address is: In heaven with her Lord. Her message: Get your soul ready and come meet me here! Momma grew up in the Cole Central Community. At the age of 13, she met the man of her dreams and became the bride of that man. She never worked outside of her home. Daily she served her Lord and her family there. She was always on her knees praying for them. As we were growing up, Momma always had a hot breakfast on the table by 5:30 every morning. She packed Daddy's lunch each day in a syrup can with lots of good country food and a lot of love. She loved to cook and boy did she do it well! Her homemade coconut cake is known all over many parishes and states. She tried to make sure that her children and grandchildren always had one delivered to them on their birthdays. Momma loved many things in life. She loved a clean home. Momma's home was kept spotless with much pride. She was often overheard joyfully singing while she cleaned. She loved working in her yard. Her yard was a replica of Hodges Garden. At the hospital, while she was sick, the code to get in to see her was "flowers". When we told her this, she liked it and gave us a big smile. She loved red birds and anyone who entered her home was able to see this. Her family and friends made sure she had plenty given to her over the years. She loved working at the election polls where she was able to visit with all her friends and catch up on the latest news. She loved her family and never tired of time spent with us. What Momma loved the most was her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. She showed her love to him and of him, by spending her life humbly serving Him. Her joy didn't come from material possessions, but from her relationship with Christ. She loved going to church to worship Him. Her life was an incredible example of the Lord to all who came in contact with her. One of her favorite sayings was: 'Happiness keeps you sweet. Trials keep you strong. Sorrows keep you human. Failures keep you humble. Success keeps you glowing. But only God keeps you going.' At the end of her life here on earth, Momma was very sick. Even in her sickness, she was praising Jesus. Until she took her last breath, she was pointing her finger towards heaven and wanting all that were surrounding her hospital bed to sing. She would direct the song with her little finger which made everyone in her room want to shout for glory! Ever since her daughter was little, their secret signal for "I Love You" was a twinkling of the nose to each other. Here in the last few days this secret was shared with the boys. All the family visiting Momma at the hospital enjoyed this same twinkling of the nose. She was able to communicate how much she loved everyone right up to the very end."

Some might scoff at this simple woman's legacy of love, for God, for her husband, family, and others. She certainly does not reflect the so called modern successful lady in terms that the world would applaud. However, this lady is very familiar to me. She reminds me of my mom, my grandmother, my mother-in-law, my wife, and many of my aunts, my sisters, and ladies in my Church growing up, and others I've been privileged to know in my lifetime. I get the idea from this lady's tribute that she probably knew how her family felt about her long before she said her final farewell. And, that's actually the point of today's blog. We have so many who have helped to make us who we are today. Many have sacrificed on our behalf. How tragic if we do not demonstrate our love and appreciation for them while they are still with us. I count it one of the blessings of my life to have been able to do my best to show my love and gratitude to many I am thinking about even as I write this episode. That wonderful tribute written about a wonderful and Godly woman is inspiring for us to read. But, how much more it meant to her to hear it from her family before her last goodbye. So I encourage us all to stop, think, and consider those that God put into our lives that contributed so much. And, what a blessing to be able to rise up and to proclaim the testimony of such a faithful lady! Solomon recorded just such a testimony in his collection called Proverbs, Chapter 31. Have a great day and may we all be engaged in our calling where we brighten the corner where God has placed us. Amen.     .....More later.

Monday, February 21, 2011

I'm glad you tuned in, now don't touch that dial!

Before I get to today's typically meaningless, meandering musings, I want to stop and send a happy birthday greeting to our Brittany who turns 20 today. Brittany is the second child to our eldest son and she is our second eldest grandchild. She is a remarkable young woman who has a full time job and a full time schedule of college studies.She recently recovered from a major collision where she wasn't hurt, thank God, but her car was totaled. My son let her handle much of the coordination with the insurance company. This was one of those lessons we all would like to put off but they do come in life and she handled it in her typical laid back manner. She's a sweet girl, a hard worker, a family person, a beloved aunt to her niece, our great grand bundle of Madelyn Joy, and a faithful friend to those in her circle. We were able to be at her party on Saturday and are so very proud of her. May God continue to bless in all you do. Happy Birthday from your MiMi and Poppy.                                                                                          

It's good to be able to say hello again as we reconnect on this Monday, February 21, 2011, the day set aside to honor the Presidents who have served our nation. I'm glad to continue this daily broadcast emanating from this same station each day. I will tell you that I dearly love old time radio. Perhaps it's the way in which shows are scripted to excite the audience. They typically over worked the musical score to emphasize nearly every important point. I can listen on the internet or in my car with the satellite radio my family gave me on my last birthday. The other day they had a program recorded in the late 1930's demonstrating and explaining how all the sound effects were accomplished. That was the magic behind all those programs. My wife always says that she thinks that perhaps I would have fit better into those days when radio was king. Maybe so. There's nothing quite so challenging as to be operating in the wrong century. Joking only. Maybe that's why I've always been partial to those Normal Rockwell paintings. While it is fun to stroll down memory lane, and all those preserved radio transmissions can certainly help one do that, there is a sense in which we must face the day we have before us, in the 21st Century, whether that's our favorite or not. Therefore, I'll set aside listening to Dragnet sponsored by 1954 Rinso, which featured a new ingredient, Solium, that could get your clothes brighter than brand new, and instead, I'll see what I can get done with today's stack of stuff.

I talked to a lady on the phone last Friday about my upcoming migration to that island called Medicare. This lady was really good. I think she might have been an auctioneer in a previous job. The parts were flying everywhere, Part A, Part B, Part D, and the advantage stuff that takes one from column A and combines with but eliminates the need for, but only if, under certain circumstances. It sounded similar to ordering from a menu at a Chinese restaurant. One piece of information I really didn't ask for was the fact that if I am in a foreign country they recommend I go to an emergency room first since some of the other medical clinics cannot be validated. I actually called her, therefore, I asked for the avalanche of information. She said she is sending me a huge packet. She said I will not be able to miss it. It will be in a very large white envelope. She is even willing to make an appointment for a one on one session as I get nearer to my departure time. She had more to say but I had to stop the call since I had other fish to fry, therefore, I will follow up with her after I get my big packet in the mail. One thing I am learning in all of this, it's very apparent that I need all the help I can get, and since this lady does represent one of the best rated choices, therefore, she can help me all she wants to. My sister is currently dealing with a bunch of changes in her Medicare related coverages brought on by the new health care law. She told me that she cannot even fathom how the very elderly can deal with the maze that all of this has become. Maybe that's part of the plan because as they say, it's always the second mouse that gets the cheese.

The photo is of myself and my better half, it's the one taken at that notorious session I told you about. You know, the one where the professional photographer comes to the Church and makes portraits. You might recall my blog about why it is such a horrendous experience for men. Guess what? That is not what happened at all. It was actually a pleasant experience. How did that happen? The photo depicts our image after 46 years of matrimony. I know it's supposed to be holy matrimony and we've had our fair share of that too. In fact, it's pretty much been all of the above, including the good, the bad, and the rest of it too. But, we are thankful for all that God has done, is doing, and will do in the life He has given to us together. I read where a lady who was 104 was asked what was the greatest thing about being that old. She quickly responded that she no longer had to deal with peer pressure. I think I get it. No peers around to give any pressure, but I suppose that is something to look forward to. I also heard about the lady who felt like her body had gotten totally out of shape, so she got her doctor's permission to join a fitness club to start exercising. She decided to take an aerobics class for seniors. Here's what she reported: "I bent, twisted, gyrated, jumped up and down, and perspired for an hour. But, by the time I got my leotards on, the class was over." So much to look forward to and so little time. I do hope you have a wonderful day and may God add His blessings to it! Amen.           .......More later.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Did you say stand up or stand down?

Okay. Let me see. We've made it to Friday, February 18, 2011 and we've hardly had time to catch our breath. Does that sound familiar to you? Okay. So we are all in this together. Maybe taking a brief timeout to scan through this little ditty that passes itself off as an upstanding blog might at least give a little relief to those overwrought gray cells milling around in your cranium. That sentence reminds me of just how difficult the English language really is. It's no wonder folks have trouble coming up with the right words. Just think about how many words we have that are spelled exactly the same but can have a completely different meaning. Hello? Who thought up that kind of confusion? I could say: "He could lead if he would get the lead out. I object to the object. The dump was so full it had to refuse more refuse. The buck does funny things when the does are present. The farm is used to produce produce. A minute only makes up a minute part of the day." Enough already! Of course the words themselves are typically not any more difficult than the designations that are used to designate them. Homonyms, heteronyms, and homographs all relate to words that are spelled the same but have different pronunciations and different meanings depending on how they are used. I will leave you with one last example and then maybe you can overlook an errant word usage here and there as I plod along each day: A rough-coated, dough-faced, thoughtful ploughman strode through the streets of Scarborough; after falling into a slough, he coughed and hiccoughed. That should be your ough quota for today. Enough said.

That may not be a good excuse for how sometimes my stuff looks splattered on the page, but it does tend to up the ante on providing a convoluted explanation.  Maybe we could learn something from the bumper stickers we see as we run here and there. 'Watch out for the idiot behind me!' 'Is there life after death? Touch this Redneck's truck and find out!' 'Work is for those who don't know how to fish' 'I got this motorhome for my wife - the best deal I ever made' 'I brake for no apparent reason' 'If you can read this bumper sticker, you are in range' 'This driver only carries $20 worth of ammunition' 'Sorry for driving so close in front of you' 'Free airbag test, come a little closer' 'The older I get, the better I was' 'Squirrels, nature's little speedbumps' 'Honk if you love Jesus, text if you want to meet Him today' 'I couldn't decide on a bumper sticker, so imagine this one to be the most annoying' 'If you can't laugh at yourself, let me do it for you' One of the things you notice is how that many of these from what seems to be an endless supply reflect a bit of hostility in them. I suppose that's the way we let off steam, or maybe it just reflects the coarseness of our society today. I know there are those with Scripture verses, and there are those with positive messages as well, however, my guess is those I've shared pretty much reflect what you will typically see. Also, I've noticed that often the bumper sticker looks very much in character with the vehicle and the driver. Maybe we are not so much what we eat, but rather we are what we inscribe on our bumpers. Something to think about!

I read that if you laugh a lot, when you get older the wrinkles will be in the right places. From the looks of it, I need to do a whole lot of laughing to try and get some of them rearranged, but I think it may be a little late for that. Then we have the line that says a day without laughter is like a day without sunshine. Whatever. We all do know that having something that brings a smile to our face is a very important part of living a well balanced life. Laughter, however, is never a substitute for lasting peace in our heart and in our mind. That's something there's far too little of today, in our world, in our nation, and for many of us, in our daily lives. For me, it's a sourcing issue. We often look to the world, to entertainment, to this, that, or the other distraction, or even to ourselves to try and get a sense of true peace. We might get something and it might provide some temporary relief but I have to tell you that true peace comes only from knowing God and knowing God comes only through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Here's that wonderful excerpt from the Apostle Paul's letter to the local assembly meeting in Philippi, Greece: "Let your gentle behavior be clear to all men. The Lord is near. Have no cares; but in everything with prayer and praise put your requests before God. And the peace of God, which is deeper than all knowledge, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. " (Philippians 4:5-7, from the Bible in Basic English Translation) This promise doesn't imply that it is easy to experience this peace because the folks Paul wrote to were going through some tremendous turmoil. Again, it's our reminding each other where the Source is located and that's a good place to start, stay, and end this week as we prepare for our Saturday and Lord's Day Sunday. Until next time, may God bless you all. Amen.                 ......More later.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Knowledge that counts for time and eternity is what we should be pursuing.

Hello out there in the blogosphere, I do hope you are well on this Thursday, February 17, 2011. "All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." That's the opening line from the famous book, 'Anna Karenina', written by Leo Tolstoy. It's supposedly one of the most often mentioned favorite opening lines that capture people's attention. I'm not exactly sure what the meaning is and while I may have read some from the book at one time, I can't really tell you how that sentence fits into the overall story. I was thinking about opening lines that reach out and grab me and without hesitation I thought about the very first words from God's Word, Genesis Chapter 1, Verse 1: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Clear, concise, and to the point, that verse sets up the foundation for our faith. Simply stated, we believe in God, we believe what He has said is truth. I've had so many over the years tell me that this acceptance of God at His word is not only illogical but it's also a blind leap into the dark. I couldn't disagree more but I also understand that without the illumination that comes from contact with God and His wooing Spirit, there's little doubt that we all would end up being skeptics. However, we not only have His preserved truth but we also have His abiding presence that actually confirms that we are His very own beloved child. Talk about opening lines! How's that for one that can change a person's life for time and eternity?

I've been called broad and shallow in terms of the depth of my knowledge. I was told once that I had more or less a Readers Digest condensed version of knowledge in how I make it up as I go along my way. I do know that I know a little about many different things and not so much about any particular thing. I suppose that's what those comments reflect. I guess I'm okay with that because I don't really know whether it's a compliment or a criticism, and perhaps my limited knowledge works in my favor, at least in this area. One of the great lessons in life is when we recognize what we don't know and feel comfortable in not trying to act like we do know it all. Many people believe me to be a Bible scholar. They actually call me that. I've read much from those that I consider to be great biblical scholars, and may I just say this about that, I'm not even on the introduction page, much less in the book, when it comes to my knowledge. However, I am glad to be able to respond to questions based on what I have learned over the years, and I am thankful to have that opportunity as people do from time to time ask. The late Dr. J. Vernon McGee is one of my favorite preachers. His Through The Bible radio program has been on the air since 1967. Today it continues to be broadcast all over the world in over 100 languages and men, women, boys, and girls are saved every single day as a result. Talk about the power of the Gospel, and, the faithfulness of this great man of God who I do consider to have been a genuine Bible scholar. Near the end of his life in 1988 at the age of 84 he said something that I will never forget. He mentioned that when he graduated from college and graduate school he thought he knew everything there was to know about the Bible. But he said he learned that even after 60 years of study, writing books, pastoring, preaching, and doing research, he came to realize that he had not even scratched the surface of the depth of the riches and bounty found in God's word. Guess what? Without even an inkling of his accomplishments, that's exactly what I have learned as well, therefore, we seek to share what God has given to us, not to try and impress with how much we might think we know. Amen.

Have you ever thought about how much is known about you? We used to say you can run but not hide and I'm not sure you can do either today. All I have to do is to open my email account each day and also look at my mail at night. It wasn't that long ago that I never had an ad for a hearing aid sent to me. Suddenly we are inundated. No more join the Navy see the world recruiting advertisements. No more invitations to be a part of the Peace Corps. But we do have weekly letters inviting us to retirement planning luncheons and some heralding discounts on everything from prescription drugs to walkers. It's enough to make you think you might be old whether you are or not. I used to use that phrase, you are only as old as you think, but nowadays since my thinking has been a little iffy here and there, I've decided to dwell more on the wisdom angle, if you get my drift. As you can tell, none of this bothers me, ....bothers me, ....bothers me. I will admit this. I do at times have to get hold of myself to be reminded that this is nothing more than what you can expect when you reach my age. Oh my. It's the age thing again. That's the part I have trouble with. I don't mind being nearly 65, I just can't seem to see myself in that category. I have no problem respecting others who are, but me? It's not as if they have the wrong person or wrong address. It's just that the fellow they are looking for hasn't come to grips with his real identity. Maybe that's it. I have been drugged, put into the witness protection program, and I am now passing myself off as an older dude. That actually makes some sense to me. Let me do some checking and I'll get back to you on that one. Until next time, may God bless each one. Amen.      ......More later.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

God knew exactly what He was doing when He gave us FAMILY!

It is Wednesday already, and it's February 16, 2011, and this week is zipping along. This past Sunday we met our eldest son and his clan for lunch. You cannot improve on time spent with family. It had been a while, therefore, we were ready to visit. It was good to see all of them. I had my best day ever with our little 13 month old great granddaughter, our bundle of Madelyn Joy. She is a sight for sore or even doing quite well thank you eyes. What a little jewel she is, and the fact that she let her Grand Poppy hold her and love on her, that more or less makes it a good day no matter what might be going on. The conversations pretty much touched on all subjects both important as well as just talking but we enjoyed our time and left thanking God for family. We talked family. We talked NASCAR. We talked politics. We talked taxes. And, that was just us guys, me, my son, and my grand son-in-law. The ladies were doing their fare share as well. We were eating at a small family run Mexican restaurant and the young lady who took us to our table and took our drink order was maybe 8 or 9 years old. She was a little character. Very business like and very efficient, and cute as she could be. Let me see: A great time of fellowship with our brothers and sisters at our local meeting place; a time of Bible study; a time of praise, worship, and prayer; and then a message from our pastor; after that, a time with family. I know there's a beer commercial that has as its tag line that 'it doesn't get any better than this' but I would just say that was exactly my feeling about how to spend a fulfilling Sunday. Try all of those activities I mentioned and I guarantee that it will do a body good. Amen. (We now need to do the same thing with our youngest son and his clan! Hint. Hint.)

Speaking of family. I know I mention from time to time our extended family at our local fellowship or Church. Having these folks in my life is such a special blessing. Some might find it surprising to learn that one of the primary charges given to the local assembly is that the members, as brothers and sisters, we are to build each other up. That's what the word edification means and that is a huge part of what goes on inside a local Church family. Yeah, it does require one's time and attention but my how God blesses through this, His chosen means for His people to be able to grow, develop, and to become all that He has called them to be. I know there are many who say they get along fine on their own. They say they can do their thing with God without having to be a part of a local Church. That may be true and some are in circumstances where that may be necessary. However, for most folks, it just doesn't work when we do it differently than what God has ordained for His people. We need God. We need each other. We are very needy people. I cannot imagine going through life without God and I cannot see me being able to function as He would have me to without His people surrounding me with their love and support. Here's an old song that our Wednesday evening group sings occasionally that helps describe this connection: 1. Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love; the fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above. 2. Before our Father's throne we pour our ardent prayers; our fears, our hopes, our aims are one, our comforts and our cares. 3. We share each other's woes, our mutual burdens bear; and often for each other flows the sympathizing tear. 4. When we asunder part, it gives us inward pain; but we shall still be joined in heart, and hope to meet again.

That song was written in 1782 and it has been a way of expressing this binding of our hearts together for all these years. There's a particular episode reported by the Apostle Paul that reflects this caring for each other, especially for those in dire need. He told the local fellowship that met in Corinth, Greece, how that their giving to saints in trouble in Judea would provide a door for them whenever they might find themselves in need. Wow! That's the mutual care aspect of being a part of a faith family. If God puts us in a position to be the care giver to someone in need, He is also providing for us a care giver when we need one. (2nd Corinthians Chapters 8 and 9) I'll just end this little sermon by saying it can become a life changing as well as a life fulfilling experience, therefore, I recommend to everyone that they find a fellowship of believers where the truth is taught, God is honored, and the people are involved in building each other up. Find that place and become a part of it! Like any other family, it will not always be convenient or easy, but it is God's plan for His own and to me, I don't really know how folks make it in today's world on their own. I suppose thinking about family brought all of this up and that's why you have what you have for today. Who knows? Maybe I'll have something completely different for you tomorrow, but Lord willing, I'll see you then. May God bless.       Amen.         ......More later.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

It's warmer this week. Is that good or bad news? Hard to tell.

While we are not exactly tip toeing through the tulips on a Tuesday morning, we are in the midst of a warm up on this February 15, 2011. I think we set a record in our area for the number of consecutive days in February of being below freezing. Climate change is not the only thing changing. The climate change characters are also changing. They are changing their stories. Those who just a few years ago predicted that snow would be a thing of the past because of global warming are now saying the recent record snowfalls have been caused by the warming of our planet. Talk about having your cake and eating it too! But then again, what else would one do with their cake other than eating it. See what I mean? I am not making light of the fact that it stands to reason that a fallen human race would wreak havoc on the bounty of God's creation. However, I am not so sure that those desiring us to totally revamp civilization are completely right in their observations, especially when we discover how the champions of all of this have billions in potential gains from pending legislation. Yeah, it's a mess and finding the truth is not that easy. I read an article from a weather scientist who debunks most of the 'sky is falling' scenarios heralded by the global warming folks. This man was the former head of the National Hurricane Center and holds a Ph.D, therefore, we, the ordinary lay person end up being pulled in all directions. What we do know for sure is that we have a warming trend this week here in our area and it is a welcomed form of climate change for most everyone!

What are the odds? A trooper in Oklahoma reported that he stopped a car speeding doing at least 25 mph over the speed limit. He found the driver to be obviously nervous and shaky. The wife was about to give birth, her water had broken and they were speeding to the hospital. He, of course, let them go. About 15 minutes later he stopped another car doing about the same amount of speeding. Once he came to the window the driver asked that he hurry because their daughter was about to give birth to their first granddaughter. He let them go and then decided to change locations hoping to miss the paternal grandparents trying to get to the hospital as well. At least these folks had a good excuse. I know I heard some whoppers when I was in charge of the large department at the big company many years ago. I also hear them now since I am the early person here at our facility. The following are some that were supposedly those that were actually used but they do challenge one's credulity. "I can't come in today because I've been locked in my apartment and I have to wait until my roommate comes home this evening before I can leave." "I had a dream about being hit by a truck, so just to be safe, I've decided to stay home today."I can't make it today because my rabbit is hiding somewhere and I can't find him." "My fingers are stuck together with Krazy Glue." "My heat is off and I have to stay home to keep my snake warm." And, they go on and on and on.

Interestingly enough, some of the strangest of excuses may actually be the truth. It's like the time I hit my own car with a Church bus. The insurance people had never had that one before. I had a fellow who worked for me once who always joked about how that if everything worked out he would be sick on a certain day. He was a good worker and he would not have called in sick unless he was, but it does reflect the attitude of some regarding their responsibilities. We do live in an excuse prone world. My grandfather was not the kind of fellow who entertained excuses. I can remember how that we waited one morning for someone to come join us for a wee hours early hunting trip. It was very cold. Finally he came to the door and said he had heard the wind blowing during the night and decided not to go. My grandfather had a few choice words about that excuse and since the wind wasn't blowing as we waited, he more or less rejected it as being legitimate. Excuses, excuses, we all have them. Why we didn't keep our word. What caused us to miss our schedule. Why we couldn't get it all together. Yes. Sometimes we have a good reason but often we have only an excuse and an excuse can, upon examination, be very lame at times. What's the antidote to contrived excuses, it's determination, and when we are unable to meet our obligations, it's old fashioned honesty. I will admit that honesty sometimes is stranger than fiction but it's always the best policy, for me, for you, and for us all. Have a great day and may God bless you and yours. Amen.                  ......More later.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Thank God for that singing school out at Oak Grove Church!

Hello one and all and welcome to our Monday, February 14, 2011. Happy Valentine's Day. It is a day set aside to recognize that special person in your life. We've been at it a long time now. Since the summer of 1962. There I was, minding my own business, talked into attending a Church singing school to look over what I had been told was some very good looking girls. I didn't have high hopes but I did tag along. That was a fateful evening. I did spy out one girl in particular. I don't know how it feels to be tasered with one of those police stun guns, but I have an idea that's somewhat the same experience that happened to me that night. We followed a truck load of girls down a blacktop road. They finally pulled over and I came face to face with a young lady and now nearly 49 years later I can almost feel the same feeling all over again. I suppose I could call it love at first zap. Get it? After a couple of years of dating, breaking up, dating some more, and in dealing with what it means to date the preacher's daughter, we were married in December of 1964. The rest as they say is history but on this day when folks buy silly cards and chocolates, I am privileged to pause to tell the world just how much this woman means to me. I suppose it only goes to show you that you can never go wrong by attending Church services! Happy Valentine's Day to my sweetheart, because, baby, you are still the greatest!

You who read my stuff from time to time are well aware that I am prone to embellish here and there but as for the details involving that particular incident, they are just what they are, the facts, period, end of story. But we've made it to today, and we are up and going and thankful for another day that God has given to us. Since love is in the air I thought I might share a few important thoughts on the subject. The shortest book of all time is entitled: What Men Know About Women. How many men does it take to install a new roll of toilet paper? No way to know, it's never happened before. How do men sort their laundry? Really filthy, and, dirty but still wearable. There's many reasons that men are happy. Here's a few: You can become president but you can never become pregnant.; A five day vacation only takes one suitcase.; You never even notice wrinkles in your clothing.; You can actually choose whether you grow a moustache or not.: and, Christmas shopping for 25 relatives on December 24, takes approximately 25 minutes. On the other hand, men learn that marriage is a relationship where one person is always right and the other is called husband. Men also learn that compromise is the way to go, you agree you are wrong, and she agrees with you. Men find out there's a reason it's called the Mother Tongue, because fathers rarely get to speak. And finally, a man does learn that without marriage he is incomplete, after, he is finished.

The jokes are put forth to bring a smile because when it comes down to it, my wife is one of the greatest blessings God has provided to me in my life. In fact, my toughest challenge, next to being faithful to Him, is in striving to meet the calling I have as a husband. That calling compares my love and treatment of my wife to the same love Jesus showed for His bride, the Church, in giving Himself up on the Cross. (The Epistle to The Ephesians, Chapter 5, Verse 5) I've been told many times by folks having trouble that they will respond when the other party does their part first. That sounds fair on the surface but the truth tells us that I have a responsibility to strive to love my wife in the way God tells me to, and she has her own responsibility to be the wife He has called her to be. Those callings are not dependent on the other person because we actually answer to God in how we respond. And, I will tell you it is a challenge whether you've been at it 4 years, 6 years, or the 46 years that God has blessed us with. The exceptionally good news is how that God never asks us to do anything that He does not stand ready to help us to accomplish it. We can't any other way but as the famous verse puts it, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13) May God help us to have great husband and wife relationships as a way of building solid families that reflect honor and glory to Him. Amen.  ......More later.

Friday, February 11, 2011

I heard the Bermuda Triangle got tired of warm weather and moved to the North Pole. Now Santa Claus is missing!

It may be twenty degrees here this morning but let me get one thing straight. For those who may think I am wavering a little in my ability to handle cold weather, don't even think about parking in that spot. I know I am not as resilient and tough as I once was but I can still stand in there, or out there if you will, with the best of them. That's not to say that I don't try and follow some common sense preparations. Like Granny Mac used to say, "Use your brain for at least the sense God gave a goose." Or, perhaps, Paw Paw Mac, "Son, use your head for something other than a hat rack." At any rate, good morning and welcome to my world where there is usually something speeding around on that gray cell turnpike. It is Friday, and we can say with the world, thank God it's Friday, and we can say exactly the same, thank God it's Monday and we can express that thankfulness on every day of the week. But it is Friday, February 11, 2011. Last Sunday evening my wife was ailing with flu like symptoms. She had been guzzling NyQuil throughout the evening, therefore, I called her sister over in Louisiana to let her know they wouldn't be able to have their normal Sunday night conversation. My brother in law answered and I gave him the message. He said if my wife was not careful she would end up drunk as old Cooter Brown. I've heard that saying all my life but never knew anything about Mr. Brown or his drinking habits. I can think of a few guys from my growing up days that might quality as a fill in the blank but he didn't call any of their names.

The best I can tell from a few Google searches is that Cooter Brown is a legendary figure used for slang just like my brother in law called it. There's no empirical data that confirms whether there ever was a real Cooter Brown or not. But there are some interesting stories. The one that seems most likely to fit the legend is told about a Cooter Brown who lived during the Civil War. He supposedly lived on the line between the North and South and could have been drafted by either. He could not see himself taking up arms against his family, friends, and neighbors on either side, therefore, he came up with a plan to make himself ineligible to serve. That plan involved staying drunk for the entire time of the war. He implemented the plan and that's at least one explanation for where the saying came from. There are others. In fact, even the same character is used in the African American community but with a different story. I don't think I observed any weebly wobbly behavior from my wife but that stuff does tend to knock her out. I'm glad to report she is some better after having slept for maybe 25 or more hours in two days. She did surprise me a little one afternoon when she said it might be better that she not drive. Hello? You learn not to ask too many questions because Cooter might be somewhere listening.

You know by now that I am a word person, yes, that does include wordy as well. I like phrases, sayings, well written sentences, (I know that's a surprise), puns, witticisms, dialogue, funny stories, and all of the above and more. Here's a few I recently found and they might spark an interest in someone out there somewhere. The lesson is what you read in the fine print. The experience is what you get when you don't. A rumor is as hard to unspread as butter. When there's nothing on TV, most people will watch it anyway. What sunshine is to flowers...smiles are to humanity. These all might cause us to stop and think but even greater are those words of wisdom that come directly from God through His inspired Word. Bible Gateway which is likely the most widely used Bible look-up/search website in the world recently published a list of the most frequent 100 verses searched for. Number one is a given, John 3:16, For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. This is the verse that explains the depth of God's love for humanity and it is also the one that continues to bring many people to a saving knowledge of Jesus. I'll leave you with one of my personal favorites, number 65 on their list, Hebrews 12:1-2, Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. These challenging words have always been marching orders to me and it's a good way to end the work week and prepare us for our Saturday and Lord's Day Sunday. May God bless each one. Amen.     ....More later.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Shake, rattle, and roll. Also noisy. This describes my bones on this cold morning.

Today is a very cold day here in our area. (23 degrees with a feels like of 14) It's been well below freezing since early last evening and my bones are talking to me in an unknown tongue. But, I am so very thankful to be able to be up and about, and to bring you greetings on this Thursday, February 10, 2011. My wife does not care for me to write so much about politics and I do try to limit the amount of space I devote to the subject. She, like so many others, actually work at tuning out much of what goes on in Washington DC. The problem is an issue of influence and impact. What the people in those two bodies along with the President do has a tremendous influence on our lives, today, tomorrow, and in the future. In addition, the longer term implications will show up in the life and times of our little great grand bundle of Madelyn Joy. Therefore, I do pay attention and, yes, I at times get frustrated and perplexed by all the shenanigans that go on. And, unless you think I believe it to be a one sided affair, they go on pretty much from all the variety of stripes in the political world. I've actually seen more about how the pop star botched our National Anthem at the Superbowl than coverage of the remarks by a senior senator from New York who actually got the divisions of power incorrect when he named the branches of government. A flubbed line in our anthem from someone who looked to me like she was trying out for a yodeling contest is embarrassing. But, for a United States Senator who has long seniority and significant influence to misstate the very foundation of checks and balances designed into our form of government, that's downright frightening.

But it did not get much play in the MSM, that's what they call the mainstream media these days. Why? This particular politician ranks real high on the liberal scorecard, therefore, he gets a pass, while any prominent conservative gets tarred and feathered if they dangle a participle. Former Speaker Pelosi is absolutely beside herself because Bill O'Reilly asked President Obama why he thought so many people hated him. She went ballistic. To use the word hate was about the worst thing she believes she has seen in terms of disrespect to the President. That's odd. She and her colleagues were on a tirade of hateful words when George W. Bush occupied the oval office. She is not on record for ever having been distraught over any of the hateful things said about President Bush. I suppose it has to do with which side of the street you are standing on when the parade comes by. The question was an accurate one. There are folks who do hate our President. I am not one of them and while I disagree with his policies on almost every front, I have no ill will towards him or his family. Some do. And, sad to say, many of the most hateful and slanderous things said, as well as racial slams, originate with folks who call themselves God fearing Christians. The name Christian is first mentioned in the Bible in the Book of Acts and it was likely a derisive term at that time applied to those who identified themselves as adherents of Jesus the Christ, or as some have put it, they were called "little Christs." What a badge of honor! Our Savior hated sin but loved sinners and gave Himself up for us all, including, you and I, and our President. Surely we can stand up for godly principles without resorting to the ugly and hate filled stuff that I see so often.

My wife and I watched a two hour special on Ronald Reagan this past Monday evening on PBS. It was very interesting. One of the main areas of emphasis had to do with his deep religious views. He believed in God's sovereign plan for each person. He operated his life within that concept. That is, that God had something for him to accomplish. After he was shot, he became even more committed to doing the work God had given him to do. He was not perfect. He made many mistakes. But, he was a God fearing man devoted to his country and to the principles of freedom. His belief in God's plan for his life reminded me that this same trait was a feature in the life of our first president, George Washington. Battle after battle, even as a young man, his horse was shot out from under him several times, and he had bullet holes in his clothing. His officers said that he so believed in God's plan, purpose, and providence in his life, that he was able to lead, leaving the results in the hands of Almighty God. While many thought he was working his life without a net, he actually had the greatest safety net anyone could ever hope for, that being the hand of Almighty God to protect, lead, guide, and direct his steps. The rest as they say is history and I am thankful to God for these testimonies of flawed but faithful men who contributed so much to the well being of our nation. There's probably a lesson in there somewhere for us as we are challenged to live out our lives. Right? Have a great day and may God bless and also keep you warm, wherever you happen to be. Amen.          .....More later.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Was that the phone or my pacemaker calling?

It's already Wednesday, February 9, 2011 and this year seems to be rolling along. I know most of you must think I am somewhat overly excited about where I fit on the age scale, especially as I am nearing that important life cycle number of 65. I am in the midst of a transition because of all of the above. The societal implications of growing older are certainly an influence and I have already been the recipient of some slights, intended or not, because of my age. The web is filled up with photos and videos of old people making fools of themselves. There does seem to be a sense in which those who enter the 4th quarter of life are seen as being either used up or past it. I suppose I am fortunate in some respects to be a part of the leading edge of the boomer generation because sheer numbers do cause advertisers to pay attention. Some say the public sign changes being mandated by the federal government has an element that recognizes the millions upon millions of boomers out there driving. According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, baby boomers are a fiercely independent lot, and the last thing they want to hear is how that they are getting old. Therefore, many companies, from car makers and music producers, to manufacturers of all stripes are finding subtle ways to tap into this huge market while respecting their independent spirit. That same WSJ article stated that the 76 million potential boomers already account for one half of consumer spending in our country. And, we've all learned that we live in a world where money is what drives just about everything. It may not buy love but it sure can get the attention of those who want you to spend it with them.

They are fiddling with how best to get our attention. We've been branded in the past with names like senior citizen or elderly and we all know what comes to mind when someone says, the old folk's home. These may not work for those who were the movers and shakers in the 1960's, 70's, 80's, and beyond. Those in the selling business are busy. They are increasing the font size on many of their packages. They are changing their marketing strategies where an adult diaper will be seen as just another underwear choice. They are even working with color schemes that more favorably accommodates the aging mind. All of this is well and good but for me the concept of respect and honor is where there needs to be some changes made. Maybe the boomers will make an impact but for the most part we do live in a society where being young and vibrant dominates. You say perhaps I didn't think about this when I was a part of the young and vibrant age bracket? You would be wrong. I can say this because I have always, as a teacher of God's word, tried to present the biblical view on aging and I will say it again, for the first time: Whatever God has to say on any subject is where we should start, stay, and end. I don't want to be respected because now I am older. I want to live in a society that respects the older folks because that is how God says it should be. It's impossible to know how much could be gained from the collective wisdom of older Americans if society saw them through the lens of biblical truth. It's just as impossible to know how much the older folks would change in their participation in every phase of society if that underlying principle of honor and respect were in place. We do know the impact would most likely be huge and positive. These are good areas to consider and some we all have to deal with because each of us have to make a choice how we personally will view older people.

I am not lobbying for some personal perks here. The commandment of creation included an innate honor and respect for parents but this was codified when made a part of the Ten Commandments: "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you." (Exodus 20:12) But wasn't that a part of the Old Testament? It was but many hundreds of years later the Apostle Paul demonstrated both it's relevancy and its current application when he reminded his readers in Ephesus, Greece: "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” (Ephesians 6:1-3) That's the foundation that under girds the family and our nation. When that piece of the framework is missing or diminished for any reason whatsoever, then we end up with a crisis of what to do with our aging population. I know there are always mitigating this, that, or the other, but I am speaking to the issue of keeping the foundation both solid and sound. Just so you know, I don't feel used up yet, or past it, although I may have to take a little more time to keep up. And don't forget to remember that if you hear this huge noise, it may not be a sonic boom, it may be the rally cry of the boomers. I'll leave you now so you can consider whether that is a promise or a threat. May God help us all to do our best every day, even as we slip and slide around, to honor Him by living by His truth. Amen.                  ......More later.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Scientific discovery: Cold water on a windshield freezes when the temperature is below freezing.

We don't have a groundhog event around these parts to test when spring might be arriving but here we are once again bracing for another round of sub-freezing temps later this week. It is Tuesday, February 8, 2011 and I bid you welcome to this latest edition, hot off the presses, or perhaps in this colder than normal winter, cool off the presses. This past Sunday morning I went out to my car around 6 a.m. to get it started for Church. I had read the weather forecast on the internet the night before and for our area it predicted 37 degrees. That's not bad at all coming off of below freezing for nearly three days in a row. It did seem colder than that but I got in and started the car and turned on my windshield wiper to clear the window. It smeared a little so I gave it a couple of shots of water. Uh oh! It was obviously colder than 37 because I was suddenly surrounded by the crystal cathedral. (Turned out to be 30 not 37) It was very early, therefore, I knew the traffic would be next to nothing. I figured I could limp along until the defroster caught up. Welcome to a series of wrong conclusions. As I backed out of the driveway the first thing I saw was a car coming towards me. I didn't actually see the car but I did see their lights producing quite a show inside my vehicle. I more or less felt my way along and eventually the defroster did catch up. When I arrived at the Church property I couldn't help but chuckle to myself about how that no matter how many years you occupy space on the planet, you still can, at any given moment, end up doing some pretty stupid things. I'm sure having shared my little driving escapade, I will no doubt be having a follow up discussion with my better half!

It seems more and more she starts these types of conversations with, "How many times have I told you.....?" And, I am very glad she's concerned because while we do live and learn, if we are not careful the learning part might be very costly. Right? A little excitement on a Sunday morning never hurt anyone. Our eldest son was one of those who drove in to his workplace last Friday. He had to make his way across all those frozen freeways and side streets to get there. I was very concerned about him making that trip. I talked to him on his phone several times and he did have a very difficult time getting across the metroplex. I advised him early and often to figure out a way to get done whatever he needed to get done from home, on his laptop. I told him it wasn't very smart to risk his life for such a long trip when we were watching folks on the TV slipping, sliding, and wrecking all over the place. He would not listen. My wife was listening to me talk to him. She was really stirred up. Not so much about him doing what he was doing which did greatly concern her, but it was me telling him that he should use good judgment and stay home. Finally, she had one of those volcano eruption responses where she blurted out: "Who do you think he learned this kind of stubbornness from? How in the world do you think you have any room to be giving that type of advice?" I am so thankful he made it safely there, and then back home later in the day. And, I have done some soul searching on the other stuff and decided that she was just a little up tight from being cooped up on a very icy day. As for the person she was describing, they would certainly be someone in need of help. Know what I mean?

Okay. Some of these stories have been embellished a little as a way of bringing a smile. Truth is, we all tend to be set in our ways. That can be both good and bad. I will be the first to admit that I need to see myself as a work in progress where the Master Potter is still chipping away at the flaws. I have not arrived. I've known a few folks who really thought they had, and typically, nearly everyone could see a number of areas where they still had quite a ways to go. I also know that with age we tend to think that growing and changing is for the younger generation. I believe we still have room to grow and improve up to and until that moment when He calls us home. The song written mostly for children by Joel Hemphill but later recognized as fitting everyone comes to mind: "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." That would include us all and to tell you the truth, I'm glad He's not finished with me yet because I've very recently heard some fairly convincing first hand accounts about some areas that still need some work in my life. How about you? The chipping process may not be comfortable but as one preacher put it, "We can become an object of notable excellence. One that  reflects honor and glory back to Him." A good thought for a Tuesday. Have a great day and may God bless each one. Amen.           .....More later.

Monday, February 7, 2011

I don't think they even sell snow chains for tires here in this area.

Hello friends and neighbors, we survived the frozen tundra, and on this Monday, February 7, 2011, we are thankful to be back in our place once again. Over the years I have been just about as critical of the local weather forecasters as anyone. This past Friday they single handedly added at least one million kids to those who dislike them. Why? No snow. Not even a dusting. But they unanimously predicted a minimum of 1 to 2 inches and when everyone went to bed Thursday evening they expected to wake up to a blanket of white. It didn't happen. But, what we did get was a frozen world where great danger awaited those who ventured out. How bad was it? At least 800 motor vehicle accidents, 4 fatalities, and huge losses in terms of crumpled up cars and those injured but not killed. Therefore, I, for perhaps the first time ever, am going to go on record as supporting the call by the forecasters for everyone to stay off the roads on Friday. Yes, we had sad grandchildren at our place but as we watched the unfolding of so much chaos out on the roadways, it was clear that their dire warnings were on target. I heard a couple of the weather folks who had not yet gone into the witness protection program take a stab at why the snow didn't materialize and how that it would have been much better had it snowed as opposed to the rain that froze immediately when it made contact with the ground. Here's a confession. Had our Company not closed I am 100% convinced that I would have been first in line out on the roads trying to make my way over the hills and through the woods to my workplace. Therefore, I thank God that I didn't become one of those TV highlights from either being somewhere in the ditch or worse, maybe even injured.

The Superbowl was mostly watchable this year and now that we have finally gotten the NFL schedule concluded, although, they will continue to dominate the news regarding the contract dispute between the owners and players, now we can get on with a sport I do care about. NASCAR. The Daytona 500 is coming up on February 20th. You hadn't even thought about it? What's that you say? Isn't that where they go round and round in circles for hours? Yes it is but there's a whole lot more to it than just turning left all day. I became a Jeff Gordon fan many years ago and now have moved into what some call a 'long suffering' Jeff Gordon fan. He still has the potential but he will be turning 40 this year and the young guns are all over the sport these days. While the viewers have fallen off over the past 2 years, the sport still averaged nearly 6 million per race last season. Of course that pales in comparison to the NFL but it is second only to football and believe it or not, basketball, hockey, and soccer would kill for those numbers. I'm no fanatic but I do watch it when I can and it's fun to swap stories with my eldest son who is also a fan. He tends to favor a different driver and that makes for good family competition. My wife also pulls for Jeff when she's watching but she also likes our son's driver too. Women. They like everybody. What's up with that? They are probably the reason that everyone gets a trophy in kids sports today, regardless of who wins. That teaches them something but I'm not sure it prepares them for how the real world works.

It's a new work week and a new opportunity. I know I mention this quite often but there's really something positive about being able to put yesterday behind while focusing on today. There's typically not that much we can do about what we wish we would have done but there's always the time God gives us today. I've had to learn this when I get a less than desired blood glucose number. I can feel really terrible about whatever I did or didn't do to follow my program, or I can learn from it, and move ahead with a commitment to do better today, not sometime way down the road, but today! You would be surprised at how much we can see accomplished whenever we focus our time and energy on the day we have been given. This is not just my idea because it just happens to also reflect a biblical principle. The Apostle Paul wrote as he was inspired by God to the Church located in Ephesus that they should "redeem the time because the days are evil." (Ephesians 5:16) The sense of the Greek in this verse indicates we should make the most of each and every minute because our time is also filled with temptations and troubles. If we go each day with a desire to make contact with places and situations where we can make a difference, I'm convinced that God will not only provide them to us, but He will also make them known to us. This means that I may be able to speak a word of encouragement or to comfort a hurting heart today, that is, if I am predisposed to redeem the time. That's some pretty good advice for us all on a Monday as we get our day and our work week started. May God bless. Amen.              ......More later.