Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Just Drifting Along with the Tumbling Tumbleweeds!

Welcome back. It is that return to work day after the three day weekend. That is, for most of us, and I thank God for the opportunity to be involved in a different type of busy. Busy with Lord's Day Sunday. Busy with remembering those who have given their all for our country. Busy with family and food and fellowship. Those types of busy will make you tired but as they say, it's a good tired. It's the last day of May, the 31st, Tuesday, 2011, and I bid you welcome. It's good to be back into my regular routine. I suppose there's no way to argue it at this late date, I am pretty much a routine sort of person. Seven days a week. That doesn't mean that I have the exact same routine for all seven days but I do have one associated with each day. The big problem with routine is how routine it can become. There are days when I arrive here at my workplace and to tell the truth I most likely couldn't give you any details about the trip. I have my own way of getting here. I turn at certain spots and it is "my" way of doing it. Others think it's best to drive in a different way. That's their routine. It is not mine. I've read those motivational pieces that recommend the obliteration of your routine. You know. Find a new way. Do the opposite. Make it exciting. I routinely trash most of those. Just joking. Maybe that's why we all are different in many of the same ways. Or something like that. It's still early and I'm still trying to remember anything about the 25 miles I drove this morning. Gives me something to think about. Right?

When we switched to satellite recently for our TV service we picked up the RFD channel. That RFD is the abbreviation used from our past to designate postal delivery into rural areas, Rural Free Delivery. Many of you know that this channel is about matters that pertain primarily to farmers, ranchers, and folks who live out in the country. Last night they played an hour long excerpt from the farewell concert of Roy Rogers singing with the Sons of the Pioneers. Roy Rogers, King of the Cowboys, was just about every one's hero when I was growing up. He actually was the founding member in 1933 of the singing group, the Sons of the Pioneers, and today the group with different members continue singing their great harmonizing style of western tunes. I couldn't find out when that farewell concert was taped but it had to be close to the end of Roy's life. He died in 1998. On the program he was a little unsure of himself, missed some of the lyrics, and got a little confused here and there, but when he began to sing and yodel, what a wonderful memory of all those years of watching him chase and capture the bad guys. He talked about how that when they made television programs they always remembered that children were the audience and that's why they made their shows clean. He said some of the programs today were such that he would not even want Trigger to see them. How true! They ended that program with Dale and Roy leading everyone in their own classic, Happy Trails to You. If you are reading this and don't know who Roy, Dale, and Trigger are, well, I am sorry, because you missed out on something very special, a special time in our country, and some of the most decent people who have ever lived in it. Amen.

As you can probably tell I am grasping a little this morning because I am having to make it up as I go. I typically have at least one blog in the assembly process but not today. I had to face the blank page this morning, therefore, I won't be polishing this one very much. Not that my stuff is typically polished but maybe on certain days a little more presentable, perhaps. I do hope that you are doing well and thanking God for the blessings He supplies. We could use some rain. We could use some relief from these August-like temps. We could. We could. And, then I think about those still sifting through the rubble of where their homes recently stood. I think about those who are digging mud out of their living rooms after being flooded. It causes me to pause and rephrase my prayer. Lord be with them. Lord help them. And, thank you Lord for your love for us all. It's not the old just find someone worse off than you deal. No. It's the reality of us counting our blessings and seeing the needs of others, all around us, everyday. It's also remembering that none of us are immune. When we see devastation we think Ike. We think the top of our house demolished. None of us are immune. That's why the world does need, like the song says, love, sweet love. Not some superficial kind of mushy love, but the love that is shed abroad in the hearts of men, women, boys, and girls, the love of God. (See Romans Chapter 5, Verse 5) That's the stuff that counts today. Have a good one and maybe tomorrow. We can all hope. So long until then, and as Roy always said, "Until we meet again, may the good Lord take a liking to you." Amen.   .....More later.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day 2011 - We Remember

Welcome to Monday, May 30, 2011, where it is officially Memorial Day. This is a day set aside like no other. It is specifically designated to honor those who have died as a result of wearing the military uniform of our nation. Our freedoms, even the one I am exercising by sending out this note, cost something.  That something has to do with the blood spilled during the many wars and conflicts that have defined our existence over the past 235 plus years. Blood. That's right. The life's blood of our brave men and women who laid down their individual pursuits and took up arms in the cause of liberty. Even as we smell that barbecue wafting through our neighborhoods, we should be reminded that getting up each day and doing pretty much what we determine to do is a privilege that comes with a way of life that others have died to preserve, and are dying to preserve today. Therefore, I pause today to offer a prayer of thanksgiving to God for all those who have given their lives so that we might be free. We all have names that come to mind. Two of my buddies from high school paid the ultimate price during the Vietnam War. Today, I remember Floyd Williams and Roland Prewitt. Today I ask that God would bless their families, and may our nation, individually and collectively, show our gratitude for all who paid the ultimate price in the cause of freedom. Amen and Amen.                 ......More later.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Enjoy your holiday weekend and thank God for those who made it possible.

Hello again. It is Friday, May 27, 2011, and most of America is preparing for the official kick off of the summer season, the Memorial Day Holiday. While the weak economy will no doubt impact some travel plans, many folks are making their plans to enjoy their time off. It reminds us that we are blessed in this nation because of those throughout our history who have paid the ultimate price. I do hope we all will keep that in mind as we plan our weekend activities. I am not sure what we will be doing but typically it does involve a grill being fired up at some point and time. I have noticed that the folks who build and sell those grills have stepped up their advertising. They must have gotten the memo about people staying closer to home. That, by the way, is how the free enterprise system works. Here we are in some difficult times due to unemployment and higher fuel costs. That's a huge problem but to some it reflects potential and opportunity. Some will market ways to puruse better fuel efficiency. Others will emphasize local entertainment as an alternative. And, vacation destinations will adjust their pricing to attract as many as they can. That is the American way folks where we are free to pursue opportunities to sell and we are free to choose what we will purchase. We have some out there today who are intent on messing with this system that has so well served our nation. I say improve it and put rules where they are needed, but please, for heaven's sake, don't mess up one of the free market accomplishments that has helped build the great nation we are.

That was not a paid political announcement from the U. S. Chamber of Commerce. It's something we all need to be aware of in a world, including many here at home, that is tilting towards a socialistic bent. When government gets too much control over the lives of its citizens, only bad things happen, and we end up becoming solely dependent upon it for our very existence. No thank you. We have something special here in America. Something special that sets up apart from the rest of the world. I just happen to believe God was behind our having the opportunity to become the nation we are and I am for its continuance as a force for freedom in the world. A little flag waving for us all as we get ready to celebrate one of the great examples of our freedoms, the right to choose what we do with our leisure time. The wonderful thing about many of our gatherings is the privilege of being with family. Family. That's the backbone of our nation. It's also the foundation for life as God designed it. Strong families make for a strong nation. Families built upon the fundamental truths found in God's Word honor Him and serve others. Thank God for our freedom of being able to respond and worship Him in the way we see fit. Don't take that for granted because many would love to see it altered and updated to reflect their view of what it should mean. Those who teach their families what God has to say about issues that are deemed controversial, well, some want to make those teachings into crimes, hate crimes. We only have the thread of religious liberty to keep this from becoming the law of the land. May God help us as a nation to maintain liberty so that we can respond to God in the way that He leads. Amen.

I don't know about you but I'm ready to take a break over the next few days. I've been busy this past week. As they used to say back home, I've had just about more than I could shake a stick at in terms of being busy. That idiom or figure of speech, more than you can shake a stick at, has been traced back to appearing in print as far back as 1818 in England. However, our very own David Crockett, you remember him from the Alamo and his great frontier exploits in life, this is a quote from a little booklet he wrote and published in 1843: "This was a temperance house, and there was nothing to treat a friend to that was worth shaking a stick at." Just in case you missed it, he was saying they did not serve liquor in that establishment, therefore, there wasn't anything there worth sharing with a friend. I know you were wondering about that little phrase and now we all have some insight into its origin. Poor old Davy, they still argue about him today. Was he a genuine hero at the Alamo or something less than that?  I used to watch him nearly every week and as a kid I thought he looked like a pretty decent hero to me, if that helps. I do pray that you and yours will be safe throughout the holiday weekend. I pray for those impacted by the violent weather over the past several weeks. I pray for those who wear the uniform of our nation and are at their duty station, serving in harm's way, even as I pen these words. May God bless each one and may God bless America. Amen. See you next time.       ......More later.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Viva La Difference: Long live the difference!

Good Thursday morning. I bring you greetings on this May 26, 2011. I know that you know that men and women are different. During my nearly 65 years of breathing air on the planet this fact has been confirmed time and time again. I read the other day about the differences in how men access the ATM dispenser versus how that women do the same transaction. The list consisted of 7 steps for the man and 22 for the woman. And, while that little comparison reflects an attempt to be humorous, I can tell you that if you have ever been in line at the supermarket behind a lady with a large amount of groceries and observed how it goes when it comes time to pay, well, enough said. We are different. I really don't know why so many people want to change that. God had a reason for making us the way we are and it might just be a good idea to work within His designed features rather than oppose them. Most of us are aware of much of the scientific studies about the left side versus the right side brain operation, the chromosomes, genes, hormones, and all the other boring stuff that tries to explain why we are so different. In the real world we actually get to experience these differences. A wife will put a stack of clothes at the bottom of the stairs to remember to take them upstairs. The man will see that same stack and consider it an opportunity to exercise his stepping over skills. And, he is so much committed to it, he might work on those exercises for weeks.

I know that God knows all things. Therefore, He knew about how the television remote control would one day become the most obvious symbol of the differences in His divine creation of male and female. My wife is so funny. She actually thinks the remote control is there to be used only when you want to change the channel. Is that hillarious or what? I cannot think of too many things more exasperating than sitting next to my wife when she has the remote control in her hand. It almost makes me nauseous. She actually punches the button between channels. She missed entirely the memo about fast forwarding surfing. Even after the years I have devoted to helping her understand, she still thinks there just might be something worth watching on the Hallmark or Lifetime channels. She also believes that a commercial is there to break up the segments of the show. No. The commericals are there so that you can see what is on the other 200 channels. Everyone knows that! I will admit that as I close in on my golden years I'm still not inclined to give a flip about the Golden Girls. When I have the remote safely secured in my hand, all is right within our domicile. She will at times ask very pecuiliar questions. Like: Why don't you just key in the channel? How funny is that? I like moving through the 52 stations just to get to my final destination. It's not always about getting there. Right guys? The way in which you travel is also pretty important. She might express concern about us getting back late to the program as I take my commercial break flight. Come on now. This is where skill meets the road. I typically tell her not to worry because of my years of training and acquired expertise. After that dizzy flight we land back to our program just as the last note of the tune on the commerical is fading. I lean back in that recliner enjoying the fact that another mission has been successfully accomplished.

That was intended to be funny, so please don't send me an autographed copy of any of those books about men being from Mars and women being from Venus. We actually have more information in the Bible than most of us realize reflecting God's plan for men and women, including how His design for them both is to be worked out in the lives of His own. Men have needs. Women have needs. God designed it so that He will be honored as we meet each other's needs according to His plan and purpose. I get up every day knowing that my single greatest challenge in terms of my wife is found in that one verse where I am told to love her in the same way that Christ loved His bride, the Church, and gave Himself up for her. (Letter to the Ephesians, Chapter 5, Verse 5) That word picture or object lesson cannot be improved upon. I am called to love my wife in a sacrificial manner. That, my friend, is a biggie. She has her own calling in terms of honoring me and helping me to be the man God has called me to be. This means that I will twist, turn, and twitch as she slow walks through the channels and do my best not to say anything while on the inside I am about to explode. However, if, for any reason she leaves her chair, I will, out of love and devotion remove that remote from her area, so that she will not have to handle the huge responsibility of leadership that it implies. See what I mean? I do get it. Now that is love in action. Have a great day and may God bless. Amen.          .....More later.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

When our sources for information prove themselves to be unreliable, we always can trust in God and His word!

Today, on this Wednesday, May 25, 2011, I am going to do my very best to stay away from the political stuff. I typically get an email response every day from my wife afer she has digested my blog. Yesterday she had this to say: "blah....blah....blah!"  (End quote) I am aware that sometimes I tend to get a little overly focused on those types of issues, and I do not want to have my daily visits to be nothing more than another policitcal bull session. I am also very much aware that some who read my blog have opinions of their own and they may not agree with my viewpoints. Welcome to America. That's how it works here. Each one of us can have our very own opinions. Guess what? I've actually changed some of mine over time and even found out that I was wrong about a thing here or there. Uh huh. While we all are entitled to our opinions, we are not, as the old saying goes, entitled to our own facts. We are living at a time when getting hold of the facts seems very illusive because everyone appears to have an outcome in mind when they are giving out information. This is why we need a source of reliable truth. The only one I know of is God's Holy Word. Jesus had told some of his listeners one day that they would know the truth and the knowledge of that truth would set them free. (John Chapter 8) They had trouble understanding what He was talking about. Essentially He was saying to them and to us that we are by nature in bondage to our own messed up thinking, our own beliefs, and the input coming from a fallen world. When we operate based on this wrong information, no matter how sincere or committed to it we might be, we remain a prisoner. Jesus came that we might be set free from bondage, therefore, we can always know that He and the Word of God is our source for truth. It was Jesus who said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6) That's good to know in a world where we are being bombarded with information on a 24 by 7 basis.

I read an article the other day about some Canadian parents who have a newborn but they are going to do all they can to keep his gender from everyone except themselves and the other children in the home, and as I understand it, even as a secret from the baby because they want the child to become genderless in his or her orientation. The idea is to let the child choose how he or she is to be defined. I'm sure there are a number of folks who think this is a noble approach. However, if God's word can be taken as absolute, then it is He who inspired Moses to declare, "Male and female he made them, naming them Man, and giving them his blessing on the day when they were made." (Genesis 5:2, The Bible in Basic English) God's word can be taken as absolute because it is the truth, therefore, these parents can teach their child whatever it is they choose, but if it conflicts with what God has said, then their doing this will sentence the child to the bondage of living based on false information. What are the stakes involved when people reject the facts that God has given to us? According to God's word, they are eternally consequential. I well remember a luncheon where a senior management fellow asked me about my faith. He said he knew I was religious but wondered if I was involved mainly for the contacts I could make. I simply told him I was all in, I believed the Book, cover to cover, and while I often failed to be who I should be, to me it was a matter of truth. He then told me that he and his wife had some religious exposure as children but during their college days they became agnostic. He went on to say that they had agreed not to influence their children but to allow them to grow up and reach their own decision. I simply told him that he was already influencing his children and they likely will become mostly whatever mom and dad is. It all sounded so logical and reasonable but here again, their approach, their ideas, and even their conclusions do not change the truth where we read, "The fool has said in his heart there is no God." (Psalm 14:1)

I will be the first to admit that trying to live by the truth from God's word can be a very difficult journey. The world is very hostile to the truth. They don't mind picking and choosing things from God's Book that suit their purposes, but they do not want to hear the full counsel because it indicts us all, and tells us of our sinful nature, our need of salvation, and God's plan for us to live according to His truth. If you are willing to stand up for the truth then you no doubt will be ridiculed and when you do slip and slide or even fail, the world will be first in line to point out your hypocritical ways. The good news is that God is still God. His truth is still truth. Therefore, rather than be defeated by our own inabilities to always live out the truth, we openly confess that we are flawed, and we get God's forgiveness and help to get back up and make another go at it. It took me a long time to appreciate the fact that folks who live based on their own thinking or their own moral code, are rightfully inclined to be hostile to someone who says that God's word is the truth. In other words, we should not be offended or surprised by this response. Fallen humanity is by nature opposed to God and His call to righteousness. Again, He loved us all and proved it by sending His one and only Son to die on the Cross. He not only died for me, He also died for those who think I am a narrow minded Bible thumper, for those who think I am a simpleton for believing like I do, and for those who totally reject the very truth that can set them free. That's a good thing for us to remember as we seek to be a testimony and encouragement to others. May God add His blessings to each and everyone. Amen.           .....More later.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I don't know about you but I don't think one of our brave men or women's lives are worth someone's desire for political gain!

I wonder what I will come up with for today? It is Tuesday, May 24, 2011. How about the way in which the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden has been politicized? Here's a teaser headline from a newsfeed site: "I ME MINE: Obama praises CIA for bin Laden raid, while saying 'I' 37 times..." Way over the top. Almost criminally so. The Navy Seals, the CIA, and other security operatives believe their ability to function has been compromised by the amount of talk about this mission. Because of the radicalized nature of those who hate America, even the families of our men and women who serve in these areas are at risk. I noticed last Friday that the head of the CIA had issued an order for everyone within their domain to cease all discussions about the raid immediately under penalty of disciplinary action or even prosecution. I think someone needs to send a cease and desist order to all the politicos over at the White House who think they have found a winning story for the President. Surely these folks would not do anything to jeopardize any of our fighting men and women. Would they? Okay. I will put on my hat marked resident cynic for a moment. These folks will do anything to help President Obama's reelection bid, period, end of story. That does not mean they would do anything intentionally to compromise any of our security operations. But would they intentionally NOT do anything to make certain nothing like this could happen? I do hope we all can see the difference. It reminds me of when I was a kid and when something messed up, my graddad would ask me about it. I would typically say that wasn't what I intended. He would always be interested in exactly what I did intend. And, we could use a little of that as it relates to protecting those who risk their lives for us all.

I had a top secret clearance once when I worked for the US Army in the public affairs office. It is all serious stuff and we were expected to handle any and all documents marked based on their security status. To have done otherwise would have been grounds for immediate dismissal. You would think that Vice President Biden, after years in the US Senate, would be well aware of the danger in leaking information. In his case it always seems to be inadvertant as a gaffe with many folks passing it off as a quirk. There are some areas where the end result is the only thing that counts and any compromise of sensitive data, intentional or not, certainly qualifies. How serious could it be? According to published reports about the Bin Laden mission, we would not dare share any of the mission information with the Pakistanis because of the potential compromise that could have occurred which would have put the lives of those involved in the raid in grave danger. Just think about some of the recent Wiki-Leaks reports where secret operational information was published for public consumption, including to be read by our enemies. The young military private accused of passing this information on may have contributed to the actual deaths of some of our military men and women. If he is guilty of this crime, he also very much hurt relationships with many of our allies. Information regarding war, military preparedness, and even factual assessments of our partners, is secret for a reason. It is used to formulate plans and strategies that eventually involve boots on the ground. I would say to all those who are careless with sensitive classified information that it is deadly serious and we should not laugh about it when it happens.

We should never be surprised how that our enemies and our friends are attempting to know everything they can about information that should be protected. There is a huge amount of industrial espionage that goes on and it is pervasive as nations attempt to gain an advantage in the global marketplace. We recently saw how one mega technology company actually hired a P/R firm to plant negative information about a rival mega technology company. The courts are jammed with suits where one company is accusing another of stealing their ideas for a new product or service. Add to this almost instituitionalized form of spying and kick it up to levels that we might not even imagine when thinking about the dollars spent for gaining information by our enemies. The complexity in technologies have made this even more of an issue as tech savvy people use their skills to penetrate and steal intelligence inforrmation. We actually had the spectacle a few years ago of the Department of Defense computer systems being hacked by the Communist Chinese. I think it may be time for us to quit singing "We Are the World" long enough to evaluate our exposure to all these vunerabilities. While I don't believe in isolationism per se, I do believe in the prinicple of protecting America first and it should be a show stopper, not after the fact which is how it is mostly done today, but it should dictate our behavior before, during, and after all that we do as a country. We could easily become paranoid. Worth the risk. But some folks out there in the world may not like us. They already don't like us enough to want to destroy us. America first means just that. And, it means just that for everyone. Not just the intelligence community but everyone, including the free traders who pay little attention to the technoligies they share with anyone and everyone all over the world. For those who think we can have it all and not compromise our way of life, well, history and even current affairs paint a completely different picture. The question remains about who we have that is really paying attention to all of this and if enough attention is being paid. Okay. I've had my say now. Enough already. This has gone on long enough, so I bid you farewell until the next time you pull up your chair and see that I have again intruded into your inbox. Until then, may God bless. Amen.      ...More later.

Monday, May 23, 2011

While we don't know when, we should always be looking up, for one day our Redeemer will return!

Hello and welcome back. It is Monday, May 23, 2011. The world as we know it was supposed to come to an end last Saturday. This was according to a preacher fellow who has made false predictions before. He should be glad that he didn't live at the time of the Old Testament Prophets. They were held to a pretty high level of accountability. God instructed his people to judge a prophet's prediction by its validity. If it was from Him it would be just like He had given it to His spokesperson. If it was not from Him and the prediction did not come to pass, then that prophet was to be taken out and stoned until he was dead. I'm sure this fellow will be glad to know that he will not have this fate awaiting him, at least not at this time. He will still face God and give an account for his handling of His word including these different predictions he has made over the years. Now, don't get me wrong. I can't blame people for looking around and wondering about the times we are living in. For those of us who read and study our Bibles, we know that Israel is one of the keys to God's plan and the return of Jesus. A number of years ago during the Clinton administration, I took note of the fact that for the first time ever our nation voted against Israel at the United Nations. It had never happened before. I told my class way back then that in order for there to be a second time, there first had to be a first time. Since breaking the ice with that vote there has been a slow and steady decline in our nation's support of Israel. Last Thursday, our President, in his major address on the middle east, pretty much through Israel under the bus. In a move that he called necessary to bridge the gap with the Muslim world, he essentially put his support behind those in Palestine who celebrated the death of Bin Laden as a faithful warrior and honored martyr. That first baby step made at the direction of President Clinton many years ago started this process that may well reflect the truths we read about when the nations of the world will unite against tiny Israel. (If you didn't see the Israeli Prime Minister's response to President Obama's absurd comments, then you need to find them and watch them or read them. I never thought I would live to see our nation taking such a stand against the only true democracy in the region.)

You may have read that first paragraph and wondered if I was trying to splash some cold water in your face. Not really. I continue to practice that little ditty picked up from the legendary Yogi Berra, "You can observe a lot just by watching." Yogi might not know it, but his little statement is very much in keeping with God's instructions to those of us who are His very own. Throughout His Word He has told us to be observant and our Savior had much to say about those days that we generally call the end times. He said on a number of occasions, "When you see,"  and then He filled in the events and activities that were to be looked for. Of course there are literally hundreds of different opinions, interpretations, and differences in the way that scholars handle the end times passages. I contend that the end times officially started immediately following the ascension of our Savior back into heaven. The angel told his followers that He would return in the same way He had left them. The early believers lived as if His return was imminent. Some had to be corrected because they had quit their jobs and were just sitting around waiting for Him to come. I am only pointing out that they had an earnest expectation and anticipation of the return of their Lord. That is a healthy perspective and one that we should have today as we continue on in living out our lives. Where is the balance? I think the Apostle Paul had it about right. He said if it was up to him, he would go on to glory immediately, but God's will was what counted, and Paul believed God had more work for him to do here on the planet. You can read about this in his letter to the Phillippians, Chapter 1. Look up and expect Him at anytime, while also living each day to its fullest in order to honor Him and serve others. That my friend is excellent advice even if it did come from me.

I know. I know. There are plenty of folks who think these decisions being made that impact our support of Israel are very rational, and they make sense in the immediate context. I can see how folks can see it that way. That is why I have always said that all the events that will end up triggering the Lord's return may fit into that type of logic. It will have seemed to be the pragmatic decisions at that time. Just like the China story I wrote about one day last week. Having less expensive goods and services under the guise of free trade made a lot of sense to a lot of people forty years ago when the ice was first broken. We even give great credit to President Richard Nixon and President George H. W. Bush for their opening of the door into China. Made a lot of sense. It was good for us to have these cheaper goods. Now they own the largest portion of our debt. Now they are responsible through their cheap labor for the demise of many of our industries. We are responsible for providing them with the wealth needed to make them one of the most formidable powers in the world today. It all made sense at the time. That's the problem with human reasoning. In much the same way, I believe the world will make decisions that make sense at the time based on consensus and in doing so the very events and circumstances our Savior spoke about will come to fruition. I am not a date setter but I am a believer in the One who will usher in the culmination of all things. I say, Amen and Amen. May God bless each one.  See you next time.           ......More later.

Friday, May 20, 2011

"And He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own."

Made it to Friday. Check. It is May 20, 2011. Check. All is well and everything seems to be up and running. I'll have to get back to you on that one. Not really. Just joking. It is another day and with it comes all that it will bring with it. You are familiar with the routine. Right? We all are because we actually never know exactly what a new day will bring. However, we can know the One who does. Some folks no doubt looked at my grandfather and wondered if he had a 'grin and bear it' attitude about the many challenges that came his way. That wasn't his thinking at all. His life was one of simple faith and the lines from his favorite song reflect his attitude about life: "Many things about tomorrow, I don't seem to understand; But I know Who holds tomorrow, And I know Who holds my hand." I didn't really understand this approach to life so much when I was younger and while I would never say I have the strong faith he demonstrated, I can begin to grasp by my own belief in God how that he could have this outlook. I will tell you that a faith walk does not mean that folks laugh in the midst of adversity or trial. No. People of faith feel pain, hurt, anguish, and they at times are worn down by the difficulties they face. Yet, they face it with a resolve and a hope. In themselves? Now that would be foolish. Right? People of faith seek God and His strength to help them to make it one more day, through one more challenge, and to persevere one more time. The Apostle Paul said we do this by seeing the unseen. That's right. The unseen. He also said the unseen is actually more real than those things that we can see. I'll let you think about that to get you started off for a Friday. You can read about it. It's found in the Holy Bible, where God inspired the second letter Paul wrote to the Corinthians, Chapter 4, especially verses 16-18.

I have to be reminded that in the midst of all the fire breathing I do, someone might get the idea that I am a cynic. I am not. One thing should also be clear. I am not a robotic Kool-Aid drinker that takes whatever the so called powers, regardless of party or affiliation, are dishing out, therefore you want find me doing my chug-a-lug act in lock step with all the so called believers. As for the current situation, the audacity of hope crowd who cannot see that their emperor is pretty much down to his skivvies at this time, well, they need a little dose of reality, served straight up, my friend. In all of this I try to be somewhat of a realist but with a positive spin. The positive part comes from my faith in God, not my belief that the rudiments of this world is ever the answer. Those rudiments or rules for the road, so to speak, are based on a fallen nature operating in a fallen world. The Apostle Paul served at a time when Rome ruled the world. He used his own Roman citizenship to assist him in the conduct of his ministry. He used his birthright as a Jew to gain opportunities to share the Gospel with his beloved people. He participated in the available travel modes, he worked with his hands to help support himself, and he lived in the world God placed him in, not the one he might have liked better. He also suffered at the hands of his own people, the Jews, and he eventually was executed by the Roman Emperor. During his relatively short ministry, operating in a mostly pagan and unfriendly environment, the power of God worked through him and he literally turned the world upside down and brought about change that still reverberates around the globe today.

I am well aware of the escapist mentality. I pretty well perfected my version of it as a kid. I was in trouble more than a few times for day dreaming in class. It was my way of living in a different place at a different time. A place of my own making. One where I didn't have to face the challenges of whatever crisis was in progress at the time. I would guess that some of you have been there and done that. I'm still drawn to it today, however, with God's help we learn that He has placed us where we are - - - today. Not back in history. Not somewhere in the future. But, it's the old, get up everyday and go about your business in the real world, the only one where one can actually make a difference. I hear people say if only they had lived at the time when, and then they fill in the blank. It doesn't take much study to figure out to discover how that imagined 'when' wasn't great every single day either. Why? Broken record time. Because. We are a fallen people living in a fallen world. That's why. Maybe the Apostle Paul can be an example and encouragement to us all. Use what God has provided to you to serve Him. If that is small, He will bless it. If that is large, He will bless it. If it is done in the midst of some pretty tough circumstances, He will see us through. I suppose any of us who are believers would love to be able to pass on the final testimony that Paul did, "I have fought the good fight. I have finished the course. I have kept the faith." (2 Timothy 4:7) Notice those powerful 'the's' in his statement. Something to strive for even in our own little sphere where we live and work. I do pray that you will be encouraged and that you will enjoy your Saturday, and that you will also find yourself in service worshipping our great God on Lord's Day Sunday. Amen.          ......More later.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Exploding watermelons?

Hello Thursday. It's good to see you. We are living in some strange times, don't you think, on this May 19, 2011? Strange indeed. How about those watermelons being grown in China? Here's the news item from Reuters that got my attention: BEIJING: Watermelon fields in eastern China are a mess of burst fruit after farmers abused growth chemicals in an attempt to make extra money but ended up ruining their crops, state media reported Tuesday. The article goes on to report that the watermelon fields look like they were hit by landmines. The farmers needed more money so they attempted to grow the melons faster by adding growth chemicals but the weather did not cooperate and the result was field after field of exploding watermelons. If you Google how much food is imported into the USA from china, you will get a ton of sites and articles. CNN had one that said we most likely couldn't even avoid them if we wanted to because they are so totally integrated into the food chain of our country. Sometimes you have to wonder how really smart we are. We know that from a financial viewpoint, the US is practically owned by the Chinese in terms of the debt they hold. Now they are so much a part of the food that lands on our table we most likely couldn't do without it. And, we know for a fact that things like the exploding watermelons are most likely going on throughout their farming businesses. Okay. I'm from Louisiana and we are not thought of as being that bright but does something really begin to smell as much as rotting watermelons wasting away in the hot sun? They are, after all, the Red Chinese, as in Communist, and we are now beholden to them for our cash flow and our food. If that makes sense to you, then you are likely showing up at a different watermelon seed spitting contest than I am.

I suppose I would prefer to go back to the days when all I did was go on and on about all the junk coming over here from China, like the Barbie Doll. What about the safety of our food supply? I'm sure their system is really on top of all of this. Can you remember the baby food scare? Folks, you may think I am an alarmist but it just seems that every week or so I feel like I have walked into a really strange episode of The Twilight Zone already in progress. We see all the elements of weirdness in our news sources each day. All we need is that eerie music to play as we read and for the most part, we weep.Their response to the baby food contamination deal was to sentence a few folks to death or life in prison. That wasn't a big deal for them because they do these types of things daily to folks who speak out for their Christian faith. It's one thing to engage them, to exchange goods and services with them, and to seek ways to maintain order and peace. It's another thing entirely to become subservient to a sworn enemy who is using the billions we send to them each day to build weaponry targeting our defenses. No playing nice will make this problem go away. They now have the most potent power that anyone in this world can wield. Economic power! I would guess that the masses for the most part are pretty much satisfied with the cheap goods available but fail to appreciate that these policy decisions like who we do business with, they do have an impact on how many new folks each day must shop at the Dollar Store. We end up looking pretty foolish in all of this. At least that is the way I see it and may God help us is my prayer. Amen.

Don't blame the messenger here. They started all of this a long time ago but those doctored watermelons that began bursting open all over the place just goes to show you that whatever it takes to fill up the assembly line including the food line, they will do it with their well being in mind, not ours, and we put ourselves at risk to operate as if this were not the case. We spent all those years after WW2 doing everything we could to bring down Communism and now we are up to our necks in bondage to the largest communistic nation on the planet. All in the name of free trade that isn't free at all and some day we may well understand the cost even as we are experiencing the early waves of a coming tsunami. We can't really do much about it at this stage. If we were to impair goods coming in, Walmart would have to shut down within weeks. I read a number of years ago that Walmart was being constrained in some areas in building more stores because the world does not produce enough product. One can only imagine what would happen if the Chinese supply line was interrupted, even for a few days. We might even end up having to go back and figure out how to make things for ourselves again. As late as the early 1960's we still made more than 90% of the shoes we wear. Today, we import 98%. Look down at your feet and see if that doesn't give you a reason to consider all of this. Shoes. Electronics. Raw building materials. Food. Clothing. And, yes, even the toys our children play with. Remember the lead paint used in all those Thomas the Train sets? I know it's not pleasant to think about all of this but it is the reality of our situation today and we have to see it begin to change if we are to once again be that shining city set high upon the hill that President Reagan talked about. At this juncture, only God can help. I pray that He will. Amen.                       ......More later.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Singing the budgetary blues in a minor key. Think: Shovel being dragged across the driveway!

How about these early morning temperatures these past few days? Bending towards the 50 mark in the middle of May? Now that's what I call a good way to get your day started. I didn't say the same for the afternoons in the 90's which I suppose is only a little preview of what it will be like all day every day throughout the summer. That's okay. That's weather here in these parts. And, I'll take the unseasonably cooler starts, embrace them as much as I can, and be thankful for them. Welcome to Wednesday, May 18, 2011. I heard last evening just how we could get this national debt taken care of. If every man, woman, and child identified as a citizen of these United States would come up with $129,000 each, pay that amount into the U.S. treasury, then we could put this whole thing behind us. I suppose giving out that kind of information is supposed to help us understand better the magnitude of the problem, but it certainly does not do anything to solve it. It is actually very difficult to even know the truth about anything coming out of Washington D.C. No. I am not being negative and while I will admit that keeping up just a little with the shenanigans that go on 24x7 there would tend to make one cynical, that's not what I am talking about. I am actually thinking about all the games that go on in how the numbers end up being reported to those of us who have to pay for them. All parties at all times are using the numbers in a way that supports their agenda. On budget, off budget, this year, out years, accelerated this, that, or the other, and throw in a whole bunch of words to confuse and distract, that's the gobbly gook we have to try and decipher as we attempt to do our duty as involved citizens.

I think the debt ceiling deal is fairly easy to understand. We are currently on track to spend 1.5 trillion dollars more than we have in revenues for the current year. At the present time we are not allowed to borrow that much. That's why they need to pass a law that will allow us to raise the amount of debt that we as a country can borrow against. Those trillion dollar numbers are really difficult for most of us to get our arms around. One thing we cannot deny and that is what this number represents. It reflects a huge black hole called the national debt that is growing at a rate that everyone agrees is unsustainable. We can't keep doing what we are doing but oh by the way, if we don't keep doing what we are doing, at least for now, the whole world's financial systems will collapse. We don't know for sure what might happen but we do know that Senator Barak Obama wasn't necessarily concerned about the impact to the world economy when he voted against President Bush's request to raise the debt ceiling. Yet, he now has his team reading from the Book of The Revelation to illustrate the potential dire consequences if we don't pass this raising of the amount we can borrow. Don't think it doesn't matter folks. Sadly, it does. All of this has something to do with the price at the pump and it has something to do with why we look at the grocery cart and are stunned to see how little we have for what the tally says on the register. All of these things connect and I suppose the unsustainable part is the run away train that no one seems to have the will to try and slow and then stop. Why? Self interest. Politics. Power. About the only thing running efficiently these days are the presses printing money that will have to be accounted for by many generations to come.

Most folks do get the part about the impact on our ability to provide for our families. Recently I was engaged with some fellows and they are very clear on what happens when you rearrange the size of the pie slices within their family budgets. Gasoline is now a much larger piece of the pie. Food prices are becoming a larger slice as well. That typically means that other slices have to be decreased because the overall pie for the average family is not growing larger. The rainy day fund slice has to suffer. The slice you thought you might have to provide for a vacation has now shrunk. The vacation folks are looking at their pie and they are having to readjust because the folks they thought might be coming will likely we staying closer to home. Repeat this scenario over and over in every area of our lives and we begin to see how things like monetary and fiscal policy at the highest levels do trickle down and you and I are left to deal with the consequences. Those who have come out with plans to try and slow the run away train are ridiculed by all sides. Folks don't like to have to deal with reality especially whenever it involves some painful changes. As usual, we are in that check mate position where much talk ensues and very little ever gets done. We will have the debt ceiling raised because there are too many special interests at stake. We will have the vote spun from both sides about how it did or did not add to or take away from the problem. Meanwhile, those of us who trust in the God who created the universe must turn to Him to help make a way for ourselves, our families, and our nation. If we ever needed His help, we need it now! Amen.                .......More later.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Oh be careful little tongue what you say. Oh be careful little tongue what you say. For the Father up above is looking down in love, oh be careful little tongue what you say.

Here it is, Tuesday, May 17, 2011 and here I am touch typing my way into your valuable time and space. I bid you a hearty welcome. When folks ask how I am able to write something every day, I give them some insight into how I do it. The secret for me is to stay at least one blog ahead. That means I write tomorrow's today and then when I come into my office in the morning all I have to do is to edit it one last time and publish it. Well over 90% of bloggers fail to continue after a short run. For many, it is due to the fact that even though they allowed advertising, there was never any appreciable revenue coming in. I can understand that response if a straight profit scenario is what motivated them to get started. Since I don't do advertising on mine and I don't even list other blogs on mine, it pretty much has been mostly an exercise in me being able to share. To share stories. To share life. To share challenges. To share the faith that has allowed me to get to where I am today. And, maybe at times to share something that does bring a smile. The other thing, and many of those who read have noticed, I obviously enjoy putting words on the page. (Often many more words than are necessary but remember, I consider the Apostle Paul to be one of my mentors, therefore, he had some sentences that ran several paragraphs long.) I resist being called a writer but I will not deny that there is some fulfillment in there somewhere. I enjoy reading sentences that do something for me. I enjoy writing a sentence like that. The little write up on my baby sister Kayla had one of those types of sentences in it. I wrote it and when I read it, it did for me what one of those kinds of sentences do. Here it is within the context: "She became a champion. Our champion. A champion of faith, and we literally watched her walk through the valley of the shadow of death into the glistening glow of the fulfillment of her life in Christ." I love the feeling I get when I read the one in bold. Not bragging, just sharing the power of words and how God designed language in a way so that words can evoke an emotional response. I'm actually looking forward to my own appointment with the glistening glow of the fulfillment of my life in Christ.

You have to understand that I came from a background where to be or not to be didn't much resemble a question at all. I can remember getting back a paper I had written and my teacher put red pencil marks all over it. Up in the corner she had written something about how that I showed great promise in my writing. I sure am happy she wrote that note because just looking at all the red stuff could have caused me to throw in the towel. That was a note written by Mrs. Reba Jones nearly fifty years ago. After reading that note the red marks made sense. She wanted me to do better. She wanted to challenge me. She wanted me to know the difference between a well written sentence and one thrown onto the page. A handwritten note to put the entire matter into context. Wow! We are talking about the power of words here. Did her little note have an influence on what you are reading today? I suggest it did and it pretty much illustrates why it is important to consider the words we use. All of us know how we've wished with all of our heart to get some words back that we would like to change, eliminate, or do over. Many times, however,  the damage is done. When the hurtful words make it into print, even on the electronic page, the situation can be even worse because they are there on the record as a testimony that often seems to take on a life of its own. We like to say that we spoke or wrote 'in the heat of battle' but the words themselves speak for themselves. What can we do? Think about it before they are said or written. James, likely the half brother of Jesus of Nazareth, writing in the earliest of the preserved New Testament texts, in the book that bears his name, spent a whole section on the power of the tongue and why we must exercise discipline in taming it. It's a very easy to understand text found in James Chapter 3, Verses 1-18. Easy to understand but enormously difficult to do and that's why we must have God's help to actually do the taming part!

We pretty much live in a culture today where we all are surrounded by coarse words.  I actually first wrote coarse roads but that is a subject for another day. Thank the Lord we also have the delete or erase function on the electronic page. We have spell checker as well. There are also additional software tools for helping to improve the presentation of our text. I don't have any of the advanced stuff, therefore, I use the basic tools to do what I do each day. These tools are neutral in terms of the words chosen by the author. They will support the writing of hateful words or they can present hopeful words. The other day our President's staff caused some controversy when they invited a rapper to perform at the White House who had previously promoted in his songs freedom for some cop killers. He also had recorded songs that directed some pretty hateful speech towards former President George W. Bush. Some supported the invite on the basis of artistic freedom of expression. Others thought it to be a disgraceful situation, where, intended or not, the administration appeared to give their approval to this performer. Words. They can inspire and point folks to God or they can be used as a spigot for all manners of filth and venom. Words matter. Words count. And, that brings me full circle to where I began, talking about word counts and the wordiness of my blogs. Even if they do seem wordy at times, I do hope and pray they will meet the test of being an encouragement to each of us in our daily walk through the life that God has given to us. Until next time, may God bless one and all Amen.           .....More later.

Monday, May 16, 2011

There is a reason God allowed us to get up today. But it is our choice whether we will give Him the glory that is due Him.

Good to see you. You can feel good about the fact that you are reading this page. That's right. Since the last time I left you, a huge number of folks here on the planet have left this life for what awaits them in the next. A huge number. Some 153,000 people die every day. That's over 6,400 per hour. That's nearly 56 million per year. If I make it another five years to age 70, some 3.9 billion people will have died during my lifetime. This tells us that death is as certain as life itself. Therefore, when I say that we can feel good about being here this morning, on this Monday, May 16, 2011, based on statistics alone, we are blessed. Blessed with life. Blessed to be able to get up and go. But blessed for what reason? The Sunday School children can help. One reason is to let our little light shine. The other is to rise and shine and give God the glory, glory, children of the Lord. How about? If you're saved and you know it, then your life should surely show it. We've all heard the saying, blessed to be a blessing. We become a blessing when we connect into God's plan and purpose for our life. That is the truth my friend. God has something for each of us to do and He has shaped us to be enabled to do it. Many never even think about this throughout their entire lifetime and end up pretty much just occupying space for their time here. I don't want that for my life because it doesn't have to be that way. We can become all that God would have us to be as we seek His help and begin to reach out in touching others for His honor and glory. I thought we all might benefit, including me, from a little sermon emanating from my pew this morning. May God bless us all as we seek Him. Amen.

Our small group that meets each Wednesday evening for prayer and Bible study is currently reading through the Book of Esther. For a writing that never once mentions the name of God, He sure is seen in His providential working on behalf of His people in almost every verse. Esther became queen because of her beauty, inside and out. When she was confronted with a decision to intercede on behalf of her people, she had to make a decision. She was rightfully concerned and even frightened in taking the lead in this matter. Here's her response to her cousin, Mordecai, who had raised her: “All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that any man or woman who goes into the inner court to the king, who has not been called, he has but one law: put all to death, except the one to whom the king holds out the golden scepter, that he may live. Yet I myself have not been called to go in to the king these thirty days.” (Esther 5:11) Mordecai sent word to her regarding this matter. His words reflected a deep faith in his God. They are some of my favorite from this Book and even from the entirety of God's word:  “Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews.  For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”(Esther 5: 13-14) Wow! How does that connect to you and I today? It could mean that we, you, and I, are positioned at times to accomplish something God would have us to do. It may require courage and it may make us nervous, but we further His Kingdom when we follow His leadership. That ties into my opening comments if you sit and think about it for a while. Go ahead. Trust me. Read the Book of Esther and see what I mean. I am confident that God will bless. Amen.

God's care for His own is very much on display in the book that bears Esther's name. She along with Ruth are in very privileged territory in having writings named after them. I will be the first to admit that Esther's story is one that sounds almost too good to be true. In fact, many folks reject it because of that reason. But to me, all of God's working on behalf of His people sounds that way. I love the unfolding of these nuggets of great truth. It just so happened..... Yes, and God was involved. People operated based on the context of their outlook on life. It just so happened that the king needed a new queen. It just so happened that the king couldn't sleep one night. It just so happened that Mordecai's act of heroism had never been recognized. It just so happened. Back then it just so happened and today it is still the same, it just so happened in my life, and in your life. We have the promise of God that we belong to Him and if we have believing faith then we are His beloved children. The just so happens continue and so does God's involvement in the affairs of His very own. Just last Tuesday our little prayer group was pleading before the Lord for a certain outcome for a dear lady in our group. God heard. That outcome was realized. We gave Him the glory for it. The naysayers will say that was the way it was going to be anyway. We give God the glory. They might question what we would do if it had not just so happened the way it did. We know that God cares and we would give Him the glory regardless of the outcome. That's how it works? Absolutely! That's enough because I'm pretty much all tied up in my own 'it just so happened' stuff, and all of this is way over my head anyway. That's okay because He is all about listening to our heart. There are days when I thank God for what He allowed me to write. This is one of those. Have a great day and may God bless each one. Amen.           ......More later.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Not that bad, celebrating your birthday with Jesus!

Okay. Even the biggest and best have problems but Blogger is finally up and running again. For those who thought it good for it to be down a while longer, sorry. For those who start their day reading my little stories, well here it is and we're off and running again!

Welcome to Friday, May 13, 2011. Friday the 13th causes many people to be a little on edge, the bad luck deal and all of that. I would hope that we who are believers would have nothing to do with all of this superstitious stuff. Bad things happen every day. Bad things happen to many people, many believers, and they happen also on Friday the 13th. I do hope you and yours are well. This Sunday, May 15th, would have been our baby sister's 59th birthday. Kayla Jean was taken early from this life to her eternal home, on June 26, 1979. She was barely 27 years old, married to a Marine Captain, and the mother of three precious daughters. We've had some huge losses in our family over the years, and I mean huge. But Kayla's death has always haunted us because she was the baby of our family and we always thought of her in this way. When mom reached her limit and decided to apply the board of education to our seats of knowledge (all six of us at the same time), it was actually the plumb tree switch to the seats of knowledge, all of us older kids begged on behalf of Kayla because we did not want her to have to participate in what was no doubt our deserved justice. After dad died in January 1954, Kayla as barely a toddler continued to go and hide behind the curtain over the closet at the end of our hallway. That was her little game of hide and seek she played with him each evening when he got home from work. I don't know if I remember this or not but it seems that I do. Sometimes we hear stories so often they become our personal memories.

Leukemia. We all learned more than we ever dreamed about this dreaded disease. It came up suddenly and from the moment of discovery she was given very few options for any long term prospects. Young. Frightened. Worried about her family. What would our baby sister do? She turned to her faith and allowed it to sustain her, and sustain her it did! She held up through countless radical treatments that required as many waivers for potential harm as it did potential benefits. She persevered. She began to gain insight to the extent that she could see her privilege of soon meeting her Savior. Hurting? You betcha. No one loved her children more than her. She hated leaving them and Robert but she had a peace about what awaited her on the other side. There she was. In a pitiful situation with many days marked mostly by excruciating pain. How did she cope? She began to make contact with people with whom she felt led to speak to about their eternal destiny. She made a list, and checked them off after she was able to share her testimony and encourage them to seek God. She became an inspiration to people we didn't even know. She became a champion. Our champion. A champion of faith, and we literally watched her walk through the valley of the shadow of death into the glistening glow of the fulfillment of her life in Christ. We do not forget her, and we thank God for all she did to influence others before she left for home.

Kayla with Mary Beth, her youngest.
Her death presented perhaps the greatest challenge to our faith. That human reasoning is always poised to pounce with that cry of 'WHY? '. But we measure our sorrow against her own testimony of anticipation of meeting her Savior. She hated to leave because of her family but she also exulted in the expectation of seeing Jesus, and she is now with our Daddy, Granny and Paw Paw Mac, our older brother Jimmy, our beloved brother in law Kenneth, Uncle Curtis, Uncle Jack, Aunt Jean, Aunt Helen, Uncle Asa, our Andy boy, and so many more. So on Sunday we say: Happy birthday baby sister, but we also say: See you later sweetheart over there in that land where we'll never say goodbye again. Do we still have trouble dealing with this? After all these years the answer is: Yes we do. However, I think about a song that ministers to us all when we can't make sense out of the difficulties that plague our steps here in this life. Here's how it goes: "There are moments on our journey following the Lord Where God illumines ev’ry step we take. There are times when circumstances make perfect sense to us, As we try to understand each move He makes. When the path grows dim and our questions have no answers, turn to Him. Chorus: Bow the knee; Trust the heart of your Father when the answer goes beyond what you can see. Bow the knee; Lift your eyes toward heaven and believe the One who holds eternity. And when you don’t understand the purpose of His plan, In the presence of the King, bow the knee. There are days when clouds surround us, and the rain begins to fall, The cold and lonely winds won’t cease to blow. And there seems to be no reason for the suffering we feel; We are tempted to believe God does not know. When the storms arise, don’t forget we live by faith and not by sight. Bow the knee; Trust the heart of your Father when the answer goes beyond what you can see. Bow the knee; Lift your eyes toward heaven and believe the One who holds eternity. And when you don’t understand the purpose of His plan, In the presence of the King, bow the knee. That's the answer. Worship the Lord our God. May God bless the memory of our dear sweet baby sister. Amen.            .....More later.

PS: There's a beautiful presentation of the song Bow The Knee on YouTube here:

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Chattering chatter and nonsensical noise.

Top of the morning and welcome once again to that little time out where I typically can make nearly everyone feel better about themselves, at least by comparison. I'm not sure if Dr. Phil would agree with that approach and to be honest, I haven't ever even thought about Dr. Phil, one way or the other. He's probably a decent chap but not anyone I've ever watched or followed. But, it is good to see you, and just how in the world are you doing, anyway? Fine. Me too. Or, at least that's what we all have been conditioned to knee jerk forth and back between each other. It is Thursday, May 12, 2011 and this has been one more week. I think that's supposed to imply a real doozy but I didn't really mean to communicate that, I just thought writing those words looked pretty good on the page. As far as how most weeks go, in most of them we all could join in the song, here a doozy, there a doozy, everywhere a doozy, doozy. Maybe I am going through a phase. I would call it my eclectic phase but then I would have to look that word up so that I could make sure I knew what I was talking about. I actually might be stuck in an eclectic phase that has lasted from the time I was a little kid but I didn't know the word then and they most likely called me spirited or maybe given a little to being slightly eccentric. No. You have not landed on the word for the day blog. Those people would have much more knowledge about what they are doing than I do.

I hear people talking about when they were required to lay their heads on their desks in elementary school for a rest break. That's not a hard image for me to conjure up but I'm not certain I recall having to do it. I do remember doing those atomic blast responses where we all got down under our desks. Later when we viewed those film clips of utter devastation from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it pretty much showed the futility of those exercises. But we live and learn.  However, there are days when laying my head on my desk for a few minutes does sound like such a wonderful idea. Instead, I usually zap me a warmed up cup of Community and I'm off and running again. There are some researchers who really don't have much to do these days. They keep looking into the relationship between things like diabetes treatment drugs and caffeine. Most of them indicate that drinking too much caffeine especially in coffee tends to make these drugs less effective. What's next? I'm already reduced to sucking on a sugar free cinnamon disc. Next thing you know they will be writing about how the cinnamon itself is a problem or maybe the combination of Splenda and cinnamon create new issues. Did someone appoint these folks to dog my steps or what? Thus far, I have stuck with the Community but there is this gnawing realization that I will have to deal with it one day soon. I've tried the decaf so I don't even want to think about it. I suppose if I eventually end up giving up my Community I'll just have to resort to laying my head down on my desk. Now I know what it means to be fearful of those fellows in white coats trying to catch you.

I can always tell when they are picking on me. It's not enough for them to persecute, they have to get personal with it. I say that because it's one thing to write reports that deal with issues in a general way. But, what about when they call out the exact drug you are taking? There's dozens of others out there guys. Maybe it's because you take the most widely prescribed generic. Don't muddy the water with facts. Okay? Why my specific prescription? Or better, why me? When I see my doctor next month I will speak to him about all of this. My idea is to bump up the dosage to compensate for the conflict. Knowing him, he will most likely advise a gradual reduction in the offending ingredient. He and those research guys all know each other. They are in this together. Am I wearing a sign on my back or what? Okay. You do know I am only kidding, ...only kidding, ...only kidding.... Right? And, I am so very thankful that taking a handful of pills at night, and another four in the morning, along with watching what I eat, has given me, with God's help, a pretty good level of control over my diabetic condition. It is a constant consideration and one that I never expected to have to deal with. Yet, God has been good to me in allowing me to find out about it early and in helping me to do the things I have to do to help myself. Meanwhile, the report writers will continue to do what they do, and most of us will seek that smallest of loop holes that somehow and in some way exempts us from their findings. Things like: That report came out on a Friday and today is Thursday, so all bets are off. I didn't say it was a reasonable evaluation but lets not talk about it anymore for today. Drag up that chair over there and lets enjoy a cup together. May God bless one and all. Amen.           ......More later.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Remembering our hope is in the Lord our God!

Good morning and welcome to Wednesday, May 11, 2011. I have so many lost blogs. No. You can't help me find them because they only existed in my mind but before they made it through the pipeline to the page, well, they became officially missing. They are probably the best ones too. You just knew I had to say that. Right? The ones that got away. And, you are not fooling me one bit. You are reading this and thinking to yourself that almost anything would be an improvement. That's okay because maybe I'll land a good one soon and that will give you something to look forward to. What's that you say? It's not that big of a deal so don't lose any sleep over it? Now that you mention it, sleep may be the reason they got away. I had them in my mind safely secured but sometime in the other worldly atmosphere of that rapid eye movement deep sleep cycle they must have slipped out and made their escape. That leaves me with no other choice but to write about them getting away. I will get some of them back based on my experience and some will be replaced with new ones. There have been times when I've thought of a good one and I jotted down the subject. That, however, has not been a consistent habit, thus, we end up with today's version of me making it up as I go. That doesn't mean I've run out of things to say as proven by the very paragraph you are reading. This is mostly intended to be funny but it also reflects the struggle us older guys have in remembering things.

Bro. Robert Francis, 1957 - 2011
One thing I am not likely to forget soon is the last sermon preached by a pastor we knew. He was a fellow we had contact with here and there over the past twenty years. On Sunday, May 1st of this year he preached his last sermon. He didn't know it was going to be his last sermon. (Or, did he? That's a discussion for a different day.) On Tuesday of that same week he became very ill and was called home to his heavenly reward. His name is Robert Francis. He was 54 years old. He was a pastor, a husband, a dad, and a lover of all people. Here's the big set up. When I watched that last sermon, knowing what awaited him on Tuesday, it literally caused the hair on my neck to stand up. Why? I hope you will watch it and find out but I will say this. Brother Robert had just experienced a very special contact with the Lord God of the universe. His last message will be one that all who heard it in the congregation that day, and all who have watched it since that day, they all will ponder its profound significance in the days to come. They also have his memorial service video up on the same webpage. Talk about a celebration! Talk about laughter! Talk about a man who took what God had given to him and used it to make a difference in other people's lives! Both his last sermon and his memorial service are long, well over one hour each, and that is unusual by today's standard of dishing it out in soundbites. But, they are well worth anyone's time in watching them. Why? Because they speak to the very heart of what it means to walk with God and what it means to have God at work in your life. The memorial service honored the memory of Brother Robert, but more than this, it magnifies the greatness of the God he loved and served. I would suggest watching his last sermon first and then later the memorial video. You will be blessed. You have my word on it. I guarantee it. Here's the link: http://www.faithnlr.org/

I will tell you that it is powerful stuff. And as our Pastor often says, it's also, "That's good stuff folks." Are there questions in the hearts of so many within his family and the sizable ministry he oversaw? Many. Even the numerous men of God who stood and spoke confessed to having questions about God's timing. However, the good news is still the good news and as the old song says, God is always on time, every time. One of the preachers quoted from a past sermon by Brother Robert where he addressed our hope for heaven. Brother Robert had commented that while most believers know about this hope and they grasp it intellectually, often it is not the very essence of our expectation because if it was, then we would be excitedly looking forward to going home. We would be living out our expectation that when God calls, we will finally achieve the ultimate crowning of our life in Christ. As I heard this being said I could identify because Brother Robert was aware that most of us, including most believers, do cling to life here and we often think about heaven very differently than it being a very present reality in our day by day living. Here's my summary of all of this. I have believed for a long time that God rewards some folks with an early call home. They have honored him with their lives and completed the work He called them to do. That's why there was so much rejoicing along side the tears during that memorial service. Perhaps we all could use a little more of the expectant hope where we anticipate our wonderful call to our heavenly home, and we do so as a natural response to all that God has in store for us. Pretty amazing thought for today. Amen.   ........More later.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

It's okay to feel that way. Some days I don't really feel like being me either.

Clicked on to my blogger page via email or the internet? If you landed here intentionally, you know what to expect and I bid you welcome on this Tuesday, May 10, 2011. If you landed on this site by random chance, proceeding with caution might be the order of the day. Arnold Schwarzenegger starred in movies where he was called the Terminator. When Dale Earnhardt Sr. raced in NASCAR he was called the Intimidator. Having read a few of my episodes I may well be in the running to be called the Opinionator. I can't promise to do better, because, let me see if I can make this more confusing, it's just that at the end of the day it turns out to be exactly what it is, The View From Here. Maybe my wife won't read this one but I'll let you all in on a little secret. I'm not always right. Sometimes people may get the idea that I follow the slogan, "I may not always be right but I am never wrong." Hopefully that is not the way I see things because I only need look in the mirror to be reminded of the many times that I have had to admit I was wrong. This doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with opinions. It's also very much okay to be opinionated. Where we hit the wall is when we are unapproachable and unreasonable in the discussion and debate of our opinions. I try to be this way only when it is a clear teaching that God has given to us. One of those thus says the word of the Lord types of truths, where it is the truth whether I agree with it, practice it, or even whether I stand up for it or against it, if God said it and it is clear that is what He said, then debating it becomes somewhat of an exercise in futility because in the end, it is as the Scriptures say, "May it never be! Yes, let God be found true, but every man a liar. As it is written, 'That you might be justified in your words, and might prevail when you come into judgment.'" (Letter to the Romans, Chapter 3, Verse 4, World English Bible.)

My wife on Mother's Day with our three sons.
This doesn't mean we can't have a discussion and dialogue. And, we can always talk about things that we do agree on. Things like family.  Here's an interesting excerpt from Word-Origins.com: "The word family. Date of Origin: 15th century. Latin famulus, a word of unknown origin, meant ‘servant’. From it was derived familia, a collective term for all the domestic servants of a household. Only rarely was it used for the entire household, including the servants’ employers too, and when it first entered English it was with the original Latin sense (which indeed survived until the late 18th century). Gradually, however, the English word broadened out to ‘whole household’, and then in the mid-17th century narrowed down again to the current main sense ‘group of related people’." Of course we who know our Bible realize that God instituted the human race and that included a man and his tribe or clan. The first clan or family was that of Adam, Eve, and their first children, Cain and Abel. My point is that while the word family may be somewhat modern, the concept is as old as creation itself. I am thankful to God for my family. I am thankful we were able to meet Sunday, sixteen of us at a local restaurant, and express openly our love and appreciation for the moms in our family. Fundamental to society is the functioning of families. Fundamental to healthy families is the desire to live according to God's plan and purpose. That's a high calling. And we are a flawed people but that should be our desire. Thank God for His design in giving us the family we have.

Bro. Kim and his wonderful family.
We can identify with all people everywhere because of our common ancestry. That's right. If the Bible is true and it is, then we can know that we all have the same original parents, Adam and Eve. That gives us a connectedness at the very identity level. However, God also ordained the family of faith. For us, He gave us the local assembly, a called out body of people that labor and work together to advance God's Kingdom. In addition, He also provided for a special connection beyond the local fellowship for all who are identified through the acceptance of Jesus the Christ as Savior and Lord because all believers make up a special family of God's heritage. Sons and daughters of God, made right with Him through Christ. Therefore, no matter where we go we may encounter a brother or sister in Christ. This is how we function to assist other believers in their labors for the Lord. This is why we do mission work. This is why we do outreach. This is why we pool our resources together to spread the Good News of the Gospel. In doing so we enlarge the family of God. One way in particular that I've been privileged to cooperate is through our Bible club ministry in the inner city of Houston. Working with these children not only has seen many of them come to faith in Christ, but it has brought me close to some folks that have become beloved to me. Pastor Kim and his family are unique. I didn't say perfect and I wouldn't say they have it all figured out, but in the past twelve plus years that I have known this family, they have demonstrated this one message: God first in all things. Family. Personal. Church. They do this because they have embraced the Good News and they are busy about sharing it with their neighbors here, and the world at large, the family of man, everyone of which needs to know the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.                    ......More later.