Monday, October 23, 2017

"Please don't judge my life by the chapter you walked in on." ~ unknown

Welcome, welcome, welcome. It's Monday, October 23, 2017, and I'm thankful to be up and going here at the ole blogger ranch. Momma came home and that, in and of itself, is a huge blessing. I did my little day's work on an early bird session this past Saturday in the photography studio where we worked hard to capture the essence and joy of Christmas. I'm not sure the promotional video done by one of Mindy Harmon's staff members qualifies as having gone viral, but, it does have over 10,000 views. I would be the anonymous fellow in the video with the white beard and red suit. I suppose that may be as close as I get to my one minute (that is the length of the video) of anonymous fame. That's okay because the truth is all that we accomplish in this life in our workplaces, in our homes, and even playing the role of someone like Santa, well, they all pale in comparison to any and all that we might do on behalf of the Kingdom of God. Here's a thought. Everything we do here in terms of our earthly pursuits, while important in their own ways, will one day be left behind. Everything we do in serving the Lord will one day meet us when we all get to heaven. That includes any and all lives we have touched or influenced on behalf of the Lord. It's good to keep in mind where the true riches really exist. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." ~ (Words of Jesus from Matthew 16:19-21)

We are having a really good time in our Thursday night singing, praying, and Bible studies in our home. We sing and pray for thirty minutes. I lead a Bible-focused study for thirty minutes and then we enjoy a time of feasting and fellowship. Last week there were 15 of us enjoying our time together. There is something contagious about hearts that care and good-hearted wholesome laughter. We had an abundance of all of the above including some tears along the way. Folks bring snacks. I provide the Community. One lady had her sister from out of state with her and had to explain to the sister what Community was about. I told them about how the Community Coffee Company has had to add all the different flavors to be competitive in the marketplace. I mentioned they even have a pumpkin spice coffee this year. When I saw that it hurt me deep down inside, but, I've learned to skip over any and all of those kinds of ads when I am on their website. I still shudder a little, but, I realize this is the world we live in today. While I am on the subject, I want to pass on a tip I recently learned. If you use the little k-cups you might want to look out for this one. You might be drinking too much Community if the little k-cup from your previous cup is still too hot to handle when you insert your new k-cup. That may not may Heloise's list, but, I am always trying to pass along tips that will help us all.

I am sure there's a smidgen of hyperbole and embellishment peppered in my comments from time to time. The famous song from an old cowboy's perspective penned by the late Tom T. Hall had this sentiment regarding the mysteries of life, "It's faster horses, younger women, Older whiskey, and more money." I suppose that's a take-off on the old sage, 'wine, women, and song'. Growing up, I heard one that put it this way, "Metrecal, same old gal, and sing along with Mitch." I have one for you today. You probably guessed that. Right? How about, "Loving the Lord my God, enjoying the wife of my youth, and being satisfied with God's provision in my life?" That's not a holier than thou response. It's what I would like to pursue in my life. (If you don't recognize Metrecal and sing along with Mitch, don't worry about it. My stuff is dated and I know it.)  I think that should do it for today. I know some of you are wondering why I didn't mention Community Coffee in my life quote. I'm a little puzzled by that myself but I was shooting for something transcendent. Maybe I could add it as a footnote. Thanks for helping me think about this serious issue. (Laughing out loud, because I have never to my knowledge done LOL.) Have a great rest of the day Monday and may God bless us all is my prayer. Amen. ....More later.

Friday, October 20, 2017

All over the place can refer to something being thorough and complete or it can reflect something that is inconsistent, without a clear pattern, with a large amount of variety. Therefore, I report. You Decide.

Yippee! It's Fridee! It's actually Friday but I was trying to make a better rhyme. According to the calendar on my wall here at the ole blogger ranch, it is officially October 20, 2017. This past Wednesday evening we had a Messianic Jew speaking at our local fellowship of believers. As a guest speaker, he dissected the 53rd Chapter of Isaiah and told how he found Jesus through that Old Testament prophecy. He also shared how he withheld his conversion for many months from his parents. While he was not ashamed of Jesus, he was fearful of how his parents would respond. He did not want to hurt them and he knew that his being disowned was a distinct possibility. He did finally tell them. That was back in 1961 and since then he has been sharing his testimony of how God spoke to him from Isaiah 53. Jewish scholars today reject that passage as having anything to do with their long-awaited Messiah. But, back in ancient times, Jewish teachers did believe it to be Messianic. I am thankful for this man's testimony. It reminded me of the Apostle Paul's appeal regarding the Gospel of Jesus Christ, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." (Romans 1:16) For those who think God is finished with His chosen people, the Jewish people, nation of Israel, they need to examine closely the Apostle Paul's inspired insights as given in Romans, Chapters 9, 10, and 11. Also, we see the Apostle John's clear end time teachings regarding the Jewish people as provided to us in The Revelation of Jesus Christ.

Yesterday, I had my annual eye exam. This was an extended exam related to my diabetic condition. I have a wonderful ophthalmologist. She is maybe 4 and 1/2 feet tall, mid-thirties, originally from India, married to one of the leading urology experts in the Houston medical center, and she just bubbles over with a happy, optimistic spirit. After her technicians finished with all their testing, checking, photographing, and dilating, she bounded into the examination room with a huge beaming smile. She announced that I had a good report. When I have a good report, she takes it personally because she knows how critical eye health is to those who are diabetic. Before we started our discussion, I showed her the one-minute promotional studio video of me being Santa. She has young children so she was thrilled to watch the video. I gave her one of our souvenir cards of myself and Mrs. Claus. She was elated. She said that card made her feel happy. She asked for a helper to bring her the tape dispenser. She taped our card to the inside of her notebook and said this, "I am very proud of this card and when I am feeling down or I have to deal with a disgruntled patient, I am going to open my notebook because it makes me feel good from the inside out." She is a believer. She agreed with me that my good report was a blessing from God. We made my appointment for next October and she thanked me for bringing 'the joy'. (Tuesday, October 9, 2018, at 7:30 a.m.) Sorry. But stuff like that both humbles Santa while also giving him a feeling of fulfillment.

Let me assure everyone that I am more than well aware of how quickly things can change. I put that next scheduled appointment in the previous paragraph as a way of saying this, only if God provides, and by His grace, and by His will. I'm sorry, but it still is somewhat amazing for me to make an appointment one year in advance. I heard a fellow talking about how we never know when we leave our home what may or may not happen. That reminded me of these statistics. "The survey found that 52 percent of reported crashes occurred five miles or less from home and a whopping 77 percent occurred fifteen miles or less from home. This data is not typically gathered by law enforcement or insurance companies." (Survey conducted by Progressive Insurance.) This, along with a multitude of other reasons, is why we all should do our best to be ready to meet God at any time. That may sound ominous but it actually is a reflection of our embracing of the truth that God has given to us in His Holy Word. For believers, it is something to look forward to because the ultimate outcome of our faith is to be in the presence of the Lord. I'll leave you with this one. The other day I took a crew out to do a field project. It was about an hour's drive. One of the fellows who went us was in his early twenties. We were there most of the day. As we prepared to leave he said he wanted me to know something, "Mr. Al, you do not drive like an old person. You zip on down the road. I almost always groan when I come up behind someone with white hair because they are typically dragging along and causing everyone to be late." I told him that as funny as it may seem, I feel exactly the same way when I run up behind an old person. I do. I really do. I remember my wife when she was just a wee lass and my girlfriend. She told me her mom was worried about me because someone had told her I drove too fast and was reckless. What's that I often say, "The more things change, it is the more they stay the same." Have a great Saturday and Lord's Day Sunday. See you next time. Lord willing. May God bless. Amen. ....More later.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

"You don't have to see the entire staircase, just take the first step." ~ unknown

I'm glad to say that I am still here. The wife left me to go to Louisiana this past Monday. She is there with her brother to help him deal with the loss of his long-term companion. Meanwhile, I am surprised that I'm in as good of shape as I am. The funeral service over there will not be until Saturday. I can't be there because of a long-scheduled commitment to show up for the early bird Santa photo session in the studio on that day. I had to cancel Mrs. Claus. She is always a big hit with the kids. Some of our boys are making arrangements to be at that service. But, we carry on and seek to do the best we can, based on our version of reality on this day, Thursday, October 19, 2017. She is hoping to be home Saturday night. I say Amen to that! She and I have been a duet for so long I have trouble doing all that needs to be done, solo. She likes for me to miss her. I can tell. At any rate, we persevere. I am going to do my best to carry on with our Thursday Bible study in our home this evening. Fortunately, we have the two Jimmy's to help me get everything ready. I'm also preparing to teach on Sunday. It will be my first lesson as co-teacher in the class. I'm still amazed at how this all came about. A lady in the class asked the regular teacher if he would let me teach one Sunday. I don't know that lady. He asked and I taught that one lesson. He then came to me and asked if I would be willing to alternate with him in bringing the lessons. I told him I would pray about it. When I talked to the wife about it she had this to say, "Didn't you tell the Lord that if He opened a door for you to teach, you would do it?" She was right. I agreed to teach. My first lesson was from Exodus 20, the chapter with the ten commandments. This upcoming Sunday I will be dealing with the golden calf incident as recorded in Exodus 32. I did not seek a teaching position. That's why I am amazed. Bobby Michaels, the South African Gospel singer said he had learned to respond with this thought, "Could it be God?" Amen.

I talked with a fellow the other day that we have known since he was a teenager. He gave his heart to Jesus at the fellowship where we attended back in the mid to late 1970's. He is now a grandfather with one of his granddaughters in college. He is the real deal. I've known a few people who fit the old preacher's description of some who get saved better than others, meaning the change in their life is obvious, dramatic, and they go to work immediately. This fellow has never let up. We talk every few weeks. He and his wife had been in my Bible study class for many years. He called and said he had heard that I would be teaching at our new Church. I told him that I was still surprised by the opportunity. He said he certainly wasn't surprised at all that God had made a spot for me. I appreciated his thoughts and we had a good long visit. He and his family were also impacted by the change that caused us to seek a new Church home. They are praying about where God wants them to join. He is retired from his public job but still working tirelessly for the Lord. Working. Literally. Most recently, he has been helping a group who are providing construction services to Church buildings damaged by the recent hurricane. We shared prayer requests with one another. Folks, we are not in this journey for the Lord by ourselves. I left our phone visit encouraged. I hope he did the same. It reminds me of a thought from Hebrews Chapter 10, Verse 24, "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works..." Amen.

I do tend to get preachy from time to time. However, I will again tell you the truth. I did not know what would end up on today's page until I wrote it. Sometimes, I do have a general idea, but not today. Maybe that's why it's called spontaneous combustion. Joking only. At any rate, we are blessed to be able to do what we do as provided to us by the Lord God in heaven. I am also well aware that many of my blogs fit the category of been there, done that. Like the hunting stories yesterday. Sure, I've written about them before. They were on mind again so I wrote what was on my mind. That will likely not be the last time I write about them. I've not written much on current events lately. There are some good things happening but there are also some very depressing stories out there. When it bubbles up to the top of what I have on my mind, well, I will share my thoughts about it. I do have some. I really do. But, most of you knew that already. Thanks again for riding along with me on this blogging trail. It's good to have some company. Take care now, you hear? And, may God add His blessings to us all. Amen. ....More later.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

“My dinner is still in the woods.” - Unknown

Today. It is just that. Another day in the neighborhood as we get our stuff together and get on with it here on this Wednesday, October 18, 2017. This time of year in my growing up years were days of preparing for winter, doing some squirrel hunting, and getting ready for deer season. Getting wood was the major activity in preparing for colder weather. That involved some back-breaking work in cutting down trees, trimming them, cutting them into fireplace-sized logs, and loading, unloading, and stacking them in the wood pile. I hear the words grunt work but I can tell you from experience that doing that type of work makes one grunt. So much so that my grandfather used to tell me that he would do the grunting for both of us. He said I just needed to concentrate on my end of the crosscut saw. We would later enjoy the fruit of our labor as we could sit and warm ourselves by a hot fire as the cold rain would come down outside. The other reward was being able to accompany my grandfather on a hunting excursion. My grandfather enjoyed the woods, but, his hunting always had the objective of getting something that could be eaten. He loved fried squirrel. Granny Mac knew exactly how to prepare it. He could also fry it up out in the woods, make gravy out of the drippings, and bake some heavy biscuits on the campfire coals. It always seemed so much better eaten out in the woods. That's what October would mean to us. I'm thankful for those memories and I'm even more thankful for those, like Paw Paw Mac, who made them possible. Amen.

Fishing and hunting back in those days were not done like they are on the outdoor programs you see on TV. It is all about the gear and special equipment today. Even as a kid I recognized how the prey was outnumbered in terms of us having a shotgun or rifle. However, we certainly did our hunting in a much more rustic manner than it is done today. We had no camo clothing. No insulated underwear. No scent to cover our smell. No scopes or binoculars. Just our regular clothing along with the excitement that comes in pursuing one's supper. I remember hunting quail one time with my brother-in-law. We were out in an area known to have a lot of birds. There were other hunters also in that area. It was, I suppose, somewhat prophetic, as I observed some of the other hunting parties with their special vehicles, walkie-talkies, and all kinds of special gear. We didn't have any of that but we did have our own special equipment. Top notch bird dogs. These dogs found the birds. They pointed them out to us. On command, they would flush the birds out. We would shoot the birds. Later, we enjoyed a quail stew or gumbo. We so enjoyed being out there, but, we didn't need the special gear to make it special to us. It obviously was meaningful to me because I'm still writing about it all these years later.

Big city life did have an impact on all of these homespun experiences. I did my best the first few years to keep one foot in my rural past while the other was literally on the run. Working many hours per week, commuting into downtown Houston, and dealing with all the trappings of city and urban life, well, slowly but surely the old days became harder and harder to get hold of. There was no way to replicate them in our area. I actually put my gun in the car and drove around looking for a place in our area to hunt. Everything was either fenced in or had signs prohibiting access. Even when I was a white-collar worker at Fort Polk, I could come home, change my clothes, grab my gun, and walk into the woods behind our rented farmhouse and be hunting within 30 minutes. We did do some camping out with our boys, but, it wasn't the same. We camped in a state park facility. We were able to fish and we all had a good time, but, it wasn't the same. Nowadays, people ask me what my hobbies are and I am hard pressed to name any. I do need to find out what they are so I can fill in some of the blanks. I'll ask my wife and boys. Maybe they know what my hobbies are. I do know what they are not. They are not hunting, fishing and camping like I did as a kid. Maybe, one of them is remembering those times and enjoying the trip down that muddy memory lane. I think I'll use that one until I get something better. Please don't. It's not necessary to forward today's blog for someone to do a psychological assessment. It would ruin their day and not do much for me as well. Have a great one and enjoy those wonderful memories that God has allowed. Amen. ....More later.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

"Seeing her friend wearing a new locket, she asked if there is a memento of some sort inside.'Yes, it contains a lock of my husband’s hair. 'Wait a minute, he's still alive.' 'I know, but his hair is gone.'" ~ copied, unattributed

It's Tuesday, October 17, 2017, I am working the day watch and this is the city. That was a little play on the opening intro from the old Jack Webb 'Dragnet' series. I'm just trying to keep everyone on their toes. This past weekend the local weather people were almost giddy as they promised a cooldown for this week. I came in yesterday morning and I will admit it was coolish but in the low 60's. As I sped down the highway, the wind blowing stuff around in my pickup truck felt pretty good, but, I'll admit I was still a little letdown. I thought it would be a good time to leave the door open and air out the office but the bugs had other plans. They never seem to pay attention to the memo. While today is a little cooler, I suppose the weather people had reason to celebrate since we had been in the mid 90's each day for so long. If that had continued unabated, I believe the law says we all have to endure a lecture from Al Gore. I believe they would call that one a climate change skeptic joke. Like these: "It was so hot in Beverly Hills, people were frying their egg whiles on the sidewalk." - Comedian Matt Wohlfarth ~ "Well, at the Copenhagen climate summit — where they talk about the environment, you know, saving the environment — the delegates had 1,200 limousines and 140 private jets, or as they call that in Malibu, 'Earth Day.'" – Jay Leno

I do not claim myself to be a climate change skeptic. I would never underestimate the destructive forces that come out of those driven by greed and corruption. When someone intentionally pours deadly chemicals into a water or drainage system to avoid paying to properly dispose of it, well, it doesn't take a genius to know bad things will happen as a result. Rachet those kinds of behaviors up on a global scale and I could see where there would be a harmful impact. As to how that squares with the scientific evidence, well, I'm not qualified to say, however, I do know that God will have the final say on it all. That is the truth we can know because He has provided it to us in His Word. There are some cataclysmic changes coming to this earth and they will come from the Creator Himself. (You can read about them in the book of the Bible entitled, 'The Revelation of Jesus Christ'.) Meanwhile, believers, as stewards of the resources God has given to us, we are responsible for conducting ourselves in a manner consistent with the standards for living He has given. I heard one estimate that projected how roughly less than half of the 7.6 billion people on the planet identify with Christianity, but, in reality, less than 1 billion may have a true born-again experience in Christ. I can do those numbers. Outnumbered 7 to 1, but, God remains Sovereign and He has the final word. That is the truth and it's the one I am counting on. For now and for eternity. Amen.

I do get positive reinforcement from time to time from those who take the time to read what I have flung onto the electronic page. I certainly appreciate those who take the time to comment and share their thoughts with me. Last Saturday morning, these folks were walking down the street. I didn't know them. I was out in the driveway, leaning on my pickup, contemplating my day. The lady stopped and inquired as to how the wife is doing. I told her she was probably doing great because she was in Louisiana with her sister. She asked if her back is getting better. She then said something about my wife being one of the sweetest ladies she knows. Trying to be responsive, I replied, "Really? She then told me she hoped I knew how blessed I was. I was still trying to process all of this and again said, "Really?" The man laughed, and piped up, "Look, he has forgotten how blessed he is." I then regained my balance and I let him know that I was well aware of the blessing she is to me for soon to be 53 years as my wife. They made some noises about how remarkable that was. I thought maybe they had brought me a fruit basket and these comments were the candy gram that came with it. Can't a guy just lean on his truck without folks heaping adulation on his significant other? I know. I am blessed. Beyond measure. And, I thank God for that, and her, and her admiring public. Have a great rest of the day Tuesday, and Lord willing I'll see you next time. Until then, may God bless. Amen. .....More Later.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Every time I upgrade to a new cell phone, they get lighter and smaller. With me, it seems to be working exactly opposite to that.

Good Monday morning to each and every person who intentionally or accidentally finds their way to this page. Thanks and welcome, regardless of your transport here. It is Monday, October 16, 2017, and I believe I notice a little difference in my finger function since I have not been using the remote as much to switch forth, back, and everywhere in between, to stay up-to-date on the NFL games in progress. I have, in the past, suffered some from TFS, Tired Finger Syndrome. (When I am not too busy I come up with new diseases. It's a hobby.) Now, I only have to worry about NASCAR, baseball, and the commercials. Yes. I am aware they have that feature available on my system that allows you to automatically skip the commercials. We don't have that one, and, to be honest, I'm not sure how I would operate without all the multi-functioning I'm engaged in when mangling the remote in one hand and using my cell phone to keep up with social media in the other. I don't call the model I have a smartphone because comparatively speaking, it doesn't have an IQ that warrants that name. Don't get me wrong, it is hugely more functional than my previous flip phone but it is still in the slow learner category within the high tech realm. Yep. I am aware that many of the problems likely originate with the operator. I don't have a problem pleading guilty with a fair amount of premeditation thrown in for good measure. One can do that with a straight face when you hit the three score and ten and counting status.

The wife left me again to go to Louisiana last Friday. She and her twin sister, born 18 months apart, were ministering to their older brother. I got up early Saturday morning and thought about all of my options. To cook or not to cook, that was the question. I knew I had to eat something because even taking one half of little dynamite pill can make one woozy. I got dressed and drove over to the local International House of Pancakes, (IHOP). It was practically deserted with maybe 6 to 8 customers scattered around the place. The lady who waited my table was nice enough but very hard to understand. We get that a lot these days. The coffee was fresh and hot. The taste was passable if you don't really care that much how coffee is supposed to taste. (Sorry, I had to throw that in.) I ordered something called the Rise and Shine for those 55 and older. That made me feel sad. I remember when I was 55. That was 16 years ago. Maybe they should add something for the over 70 crowd. I ordered my two eggs over easy. I used to say sunny side up but I've tried to adapt to the lingo they use. I substituted ham for the meat. Everything was freshly prepared and reasonably okay except the wheat toast which had been out for a while. I saw the manager come out of his little cubby hole of an office. He has been the manager there for a long time. He always carries somewhat of a forlorn look on his face. He had one of those 10" expanding folders under his arm and it looked full. In the other, he had a stack of papers, receipts, and stuff like that. The people across the table from me were in deep conversation. The younger man, maybe in his mid-thirties, was some kind of tech geek and he was trying to explain to his much older mom some sophisticated stuff showing them to her on his smartphone. Just me, but I think he could have toned down the Star Wars lingo for his mom's sake. The food was okay. I took my medicine. I left a good tip because people who work there deserve a little extra now and then, and maybe more importantly, I am, after all is said and done, Santa Claus.

Us with our dear Sis. Catherine. We had her memorial service a couple of weeks ago.
This coming Saturday is our first scheduled appearance as Santa and Mrs. Claus for this upcoming season. It's the early bird offering at the professional photography studio we work with each year. There are two additional full days scheduled there in early December. It's slightly cooler today, praise the Lord, but it would do me a mighty big favor if an even bigger cold front was to blow in by this next Friday. Regardless of that, Lord willing, we will do our best to show up ready to help make memories. I think I will leave off the tiny little pill starting next Wednesday so that I don't go getting myself wobbly with the handling of so many wonderful boys and girls. I was telling an older fellow about that first little squirmy kid I drew when I was doing the promotional photos a few weeks ago. That little dude was a handful. The older guy looked at me and said, "That made you wonder whether you really want to do this again, didn't it?" I would not be honest if I didn't say the thought had not crossed my mind, but, when I think of how much joy we bring when we show up as Santa and the Mrs for kids, of all ages, well, it does motivate me to give it another go. They also pay us pretty well for what we do. That's also a consideration. Not a huge one, but, it is a factor. (As my wife likes to say with a grimace, it helps to pay the taxes we owe each year.) I do try in anything I do to do my very best and I hope to be at my best when we show up for our first appearance. I actually started to use the word gig but I couldn't bring myself to do it. Well, the wife came home and the stars have realigned themselves to their correct position. Now, as she would tell you, if I could only do the same. (Please say a prayer for her brother Cleon. His long-term lady friend and companion passed away late yesterday afternoon.) Have a great rest of the day Monday and may God bless each one. Amen. ....More later.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Yesterday was Thursday the 12th, today is Friday the 13th, tomorrow will be Saturday the 14th. Any questions?

I looked up at my wall calendar and confirmed that this is Friday, and I am very much okay with that, on this October 13, 2017. I tried to separate Friday from the 13th as best I could out of respect for those who are susceptible to supposed superstitions. My way of looking at it says in this sin-cursed, fallen world, bad things happen to a large number of the 7.6+ billion folks breathing air on the planet, and, they happen every second of every day regardless of what day it happens to be. At the same time, by the grace of God, there are many within the human family who are being blessed every second of every day. According to the Creator, we can date this fact of human existence that every person experiences all the way back to Adam and Eve and their fall. (Book of Genesis.) As a human being, we cannot escape the results that come with being born with a fallen nature, alienated from God. Add to this, the fact that we are a fallen people living in a fallen world. Sounds hopeless, but, God had a plan to deal with this situation even before the world was created. It involved sending His one and only Son to die for all those under the curse of sin. That is Good News to everyone who will receive Him as Lord and Savior. Here's how the Apostle John quoted Jesus, "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him." (Gospel of John, Chapter 3, Verse 17) He came to save. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself, on the very last page of Scripture, says: "whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." (Revelation 22:17)

Time. It sure seems to be flying by these days. What's that? You've noticed the same thing? I can honestly say the wife and I are just about as busy as we have been in a long time. The good news is how that much of what keeps us focused are things that pertain to the Kingdom of God. Since that work has to do with influencing ourselves and others for time and eternity, I submit it is the most important busy we could be privileged to be involved in. Last Saturday morning I committed myself to trying to stay in the bed as long as the wife stayed. That became a big battle for me. Everything within my internal clock mechanism was making all kinds of noise. I fought it and stayed, at 5 a.m., the battle continued, 6 a.m., and finally, I threw in the towel about 6:45 a.m., got up and began my morning routine. Maybe when I retire-retire and I'm at home every day, maybe then I will be able to 'sleep in'. I doubt it. Here's something I've learned. Every person is wired differently. People seem alarmed by the long hours I keep each day. Guess what? According to my mom, I was a kid that jumped out of bed ready to go each morning. That's the way I'm wired. Does that mean I am better than the next fellow? Getting up early is easy for me, but, that doesn't mean I have it all figured out. I have plenty of blind spots, issues, and other challenges that need work, every single day. In fact, that might be the reason I'm wired the way I am, so I have longer to work on my issues each day. My point? However we are wired, we can take it all and use it to serve our Lord. Think about it.

I know that kids coming of age varies depending on development and maturity, but, typically, it was thought to be 13 when I was growing up. I became a teenager in August of 1959. Shortly after that, Hawaii was admitted as our 50th state. Bonanza, the long-running TV series, had its debut. The blockbuster movie Ben Hur starring Charleton Heston was released and went on to win a record number of academy awards. America recognized the new Cuban government with Fidel Castro as the new president. As for me, I was focused on baseball as a major part of my life. As I've said in the past, I often slept with my Al Kaline glove. I most likely did hear Bobby Darin's number one hit for that year, 'Mack the Knife' and also Johnny Horton's 'Battle of New Orleans'. It was supposedly a transition year, from childhood to adolescence, but, I can't really remember any girl related crushes or things of that nature. I didn't say there weren't any. I just don't recollect any specific stories from that year. I do remember the room I shared with my brother and the bed where I slept. I do remember my mom working like a slave to provide for us six kids. I most likely didn't look at it that way when I was 13, but, looking back, I know that to be 100% the truth. I don't really have a point here, other than to say we all do carry with us today our past experiences, even those we had as a kid. It's part of who we are and how we are wired. Good stuff, bad stuff, and everything in-between, it's with us and may even compliment our ability to serve God and others today. That's what I was thinking about today. Next time we meet, who knows? Until then, enjoy your Saturday, and Lord's Day Sunday, and may God be honored in the life He has given to each of us. Amen. ....More later.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Children's song: "Oh, be careful little tongue what you say, Oh, be careful little tongue what you say, There's a Savior up above, And he's looking down in love, Oh, be careful little tongue what you say." (Public Domain)

We have had an almost noticeable but, at best, a very small down payment on what it might look like when Fall actually begins to be felt, as in, cooler weather. Here it is, Thursday, October 12, 2017, and I'm still hungry for some cooler weather love but find myself waiting in her welfare line. I don't hold back here in my daily blogs and most of you don't have to wonder what I think regarding the things I write about. I do my best not to express myself in a way that reflects a mean spirit or to intentionally offend others. That doesn't mean someone wouldn't take offence. If you have a conviction and opinion on anything, someone else will likely take exception to your viewpoint. However, I cringe at times when I read the flamethrower stuff that gets posted on Facebook. Much of it is just downright rude, crude, and cruel. With the postings I see, the majority of these originate from or they are endorsed by folks who identify themselves as believers in our Lord Jesus Christ. As Bro. James who penned the earliest writing in the New Testament put it, "My brothers, these things ought not to be so." (Book of James, Chapter 3, Verse 10) I end up hiding those types of postings. What made me think of this was another posting by a brother of some inspired truths from the Apostle Paul, "So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity." (Letter to The Colossians, Chapter 3, Verses 12-14) Food for thought. For me and perhaps for others as well.

I did see one posting that no doubt caused many to be excited, while in others, like me, it produced a groan. "The Premiere Dates for Hallmark's Christmas Movies are Here. This is the best news you'll see today. Hallmark will premiere 21 new movies this year." And to think, they do that each year with just one script. Now I will give them credit for ingenuity. They've already made a couple hundred and now they are adding another 21. At least they don't have to invent new stories. This announcement will likely lead to the meltdown of our satellite TV control box. The dish outside on top of the garage may explode. Meanwhile, ladies will be participating in a sigh off competition from sea to shining sea. The winners will then move on to the national crying contest. I think Hallmark now has about five channels on our system. It will be an all-out romantic assault on our holidays. I am not saying I never watch them. I typically stay with it for the first three or four minutes. That way I can give everyone the plot, the winners, the losers, and who, at the end of the program ends up with the partridge in a pear tree. I do try to be helpful. It's my romantic side kicking in.

That was supposed to be a parody of sorts and I'm not overly concerned about people who like those movies being offended because there's not too much that will keep them from seeing them all. Often, more than once, and even oftener. Trust me. That is a word. I'm sure it also helps the economy some. It will likely lead to increased tissue sales, popcorn, hot chocolate, and other related products. I know what it's like to enjoy programs that other people would rather not see. The other day I watched some of the 1956 Godzilla film from way back with an all Japanese cast except for a somewhat younger Raymond Burr. I thought it was pretty good. You had this guy dressed up in a dragon suit stepping all over what was obviously cardboard cutouts of Tokyo. One recent evening, the other half of the equation woke up from her nap on the couch and asked what in the world I was watching. It was a documentary on the making of the first Godfather film. She asked if there was anything else on. I switched to the 10,000th rerun of one of the Everybody Loves Raymond episodes. I will remember that when I wake up in the middle of one of those kissy-kissy Hallmark Christmas shows. If I've got it right, it will go something like this: Is there anything else to watch? Just having a little fun here. And, I am thankful for the day that God has given to us. Enjoy it as best you can and may He continue to bless. Amen. ....More later.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

"What success looks like: A homecooked meal." ~ Jaclyn Crawford, Editorial Editor, Forefront Magazine

We open up our gift for today and find out it is another opportunity at life on this Wednesday, October 11, 2017. Whatever I had in mind to do yesterday, well, as they say, my intentions and the opportunity itself, yesterday, is gone. But, if the Lord allows, I do have today and it will do just fine in terms of making the progress I failed to achieve before. Some people do go to a lot of trouble to try and stir up the passions of others. Using tools readily available, people can develop news stories and other types of articles that bear no resemblance to the truth, but, many people grab hold of it and become distressed. I suppose those doing this get some kind of kick out of this type of fake news hoax. One recently had to do with the announcement of the closing of the Whataburger chain of restaurants. (It was a false report but Google 'Whataburger closing' and see how widespread it was.) I actually didn't see the original social media posting that had many people upset until a disclaimer came from the corporate office. That disclaimer had a copy of the fake report with a huge Fake News stamped on it. The posting announcing the closing looked very professional with photos and the formatting that was used. Whataburger is an okay burger joint to me, but, here in Texas, it is on the same list that has the Alamo on it. People love it. I'm sure those who saw the false report were alarmed. They were. Now they can feel better about getting their hands on their favorite burger. I mention this because there are much more serious issues being falsely reported and it is an absolute tangled web of trying to make sure one gets the facts. My approach is to always consider the source and check it out. There are ways to do that. Do that before you start frothing at the mouth. (That phrase may have originated from those who end up with rabies accompanied by a foaming at their mouth.)

The Bible study class we attend in the fellowship of believers where we are new members sent us a questionnaire in order to add us to their member profile book. One of the questions asked what my three favorite foods are: 1) My wife's cooking. 2) My wife's cooking. 3) My wife's cooking. I wasn't trying to be cute. The truth is the truth. I asked if she had seen my answers and she just shook her head. I think she thinks I was one of those kids who colored outside the lines just to stir things up. I can't remember that but I may have drawn what I considered to be a better picture of whatever it was they wanted me to color. She well understands my thoughts about the meals I enjoy. Nowadays, when she asks where I want to go to eat she typically says upfront that eating a meal at home is not one of the options. I'm actually glad that people can go out and enjoy themselves at the restaurant of their choosing. More times than not, I feel good if I am reasonably okay with the meal, but, I never get the idea that it should even be on the same page with what I enjoy sitting at our own dinner table. But, don't I know that place has a lot of stars? Maybe so, but, for me, I can't help but identify with this famous quote from a well-known philosopher, " I Yam What I Yam and Dats What I Yam!", Popeye, the Sailorman.

Please don't send me any letters about my wife being a kitchen slave. First of all, it wouldn't be in the least bit true. Period. And, secondly, at this point and time, those kinds of accusations are not even relevant to how we live out our lives. Finally, my wife can choose not to cook anytime she wants to and I'm okay with that, but, when it comes to stating my preference, I will not yield the floor. Not now. Not ever! I say that not to be unkind, just to emphasize my point, because I am well aware that we are all put together differently. I hear people glowing about this or that food served up at this or that place and my take is those places would serve better-tasting food if they battered and fried their menus. See what it mean? They said they loved it. Me? Like the story George Washington got credit for but he really, as for as we know, never cut down the cherry tree, I cannot tell a lie. I wouldn't eat those same dishes if they brought them to me and paid me. Would I appear as Santa Claus in a commercial for those eating establishments where I would be seen endorsing their wonderful menu offerings? Well, it is called acting, and if the money was right. Joking only. You do know I make this stuff up as I go, but, you will not need to fact check my report on my three favorite foods. Those you can count on. And, you can count on God. He has promised to be with His own, no matter what. That, my friend, is very good news. Amen. ....More later.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

"Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you." ~ Thomas Jefferson

Hello Tuesday, October 10, 2017, it's good to be able to rise and shine as we welcome this new day to our activities. It remains to be seen what we will be able to accomplish today, but, we ask God's help as we pursue His inspired instruction, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6, NKJV) I am beginning a shared teaching ministry at our new fellowship where believers meet each week. The fellow I will be sharing the teacher's lectern with is 80 years old and a widower of two years. When we were talking about sharing this responsibility, he laid out for me the many activities he is involved in. He is a very busy man and most of the things he is doing relate to God's Kingdom work. That conversation impressed me because it tells us all that we don't have to take ourselves out of the game and go sit on the sidelines. He is still very much mourning the loss of his beloved wife, yet, he is still actively serving in many different areas. Maybe it's because I'm three score and ten plus one and counting, but, I do find myself at times wondering about my ability to keep at it and then God sends me word that He is able and He will let me know when it's time for me to take a seat. Little things like that help me to be encouraged. Maybe it will encourage you also. Amen.

By this time this little story is not only repetitive but most likely boring as well, but, since it has taken quite a bit of my time and effort, I wanted to update you on my Santa Claus business card caper. I now have sitting on my desk 1,000 plastic business cards (like a credit card) embossed with a photo of yours truly with Mrs Claus. They are not usable unless I would be willing to hand out a less than excellent representation of who we are. The company that ran these cards may be the largest in the business. However, while they did a lot of re-runs, all the king's men and all the king's horses could not get our cards put back together again. I do appreciate them refunding my money but I actually would have preferred getting the cards I need. I now have an order in for 400 with a different provider. We will see how it goes. My final remarks to the customer service people went like this. "I used to run a technology group as part of my responsibility, and, I can't for the life of me figure out how you can make a perfect run and then with all the expertise available to you, you are not able to repeat it." They were so apologetic. I couldn't help myself, "That also includes a refund on the shipping. Right?"

NFL ratings are down significantly and polls show it is connected to this anthem controversy. The good news is that everyone can choose to do what they want to do in terms of a response. I made the decision that I could live without the NFL, including our local team. Some have boycotted most of the games, but, they have made an exception for their local team. I understand the point being made by the players wanting to use this as a means of protest. I'm not going to say they have no cause at all to be concerned about, however, I totally disagree with their approach and their chosen method of airing what they perceive to be their grievances. Nearly all of them are highly paid for the job they are hired to do. Part of their job is to make the presentation of the game one that viewers will enjoy and want to continue seeing. It is a business. Many viewers, myself included, are turned off by this open show of disrespect for our flag, our nation, and for those who wear the uniform to defend us all. Turned off. I don't watch a football game to see this kind of protest. Now I am not watching any professional football games. But, here again, people can vote the way they see fit. They can continue to buy tickets and watch the games. Some just look the other way while the kneeling is on the screen. This is America. Meanwhile, since it is a business, one would think that eventually, dollars lost will begin to be a factor. Meanwhile, I'm watching NASCAR, our local Astros, world soccer, some college football, and maybe the national tiddlywinks competition if it comes on. I report, I decide, you make up your own mind. Have a great rest of the day and may God bless each one. Amen. ...More later.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Christopher Columbus on his voyage, "No one should fear to undertake any task in the name of our Saviour, if it is just and if the intention is purely for His holy service."

That sound you heard was not a woodpecker outside on one of your trees. It was just me pecking on the keyboard to get out today's edition here on this back-to-work Monday, October 9, 2017. Some people will be celebrating Columbus Day today. I remember the little poem and it had something to do with him sailing the ocean blue with his three ships, the Nina and the Pinta and the Santa Maria. He has become controversial and in many quarters, a reviled figure in today's politically charged, revisionist world. At any rate, we know Columbus didn't “discover” America — he never set foot in North America. During four separate trips that started with the one in 1492, Columbus landed on various Caribbean islands that are now the Bahamas as well as the island later called Hispaniola. He also explored the Central and South American coasts. While the debate continues, historical scholarship has concluded the most likely discoverer of North America to be the Viking Leif Eriksson who was born 500 years before Columbus. Maybe we could start a campaign to change any and all cities, towns, and other entities from Columbus to Eriksson. To me, this sounds like something our current do-nothing Congress might be interested in. I leave you with this one, Happy Columbus and/or Eriksson Day. I do believe Eriksson Day would be the one highly favored by that notable and influential personality, none other than Sponge Bob.

People have some strange notions about things. I read one sentiment related to those killed out in LasVegas. This posting had something like this, "I do hope all the 59 who lost their lives while listening to Jason Aldean are rocking out now to the songs of Tom Petty." That may sound soothing to you, but, truth, God's truth, is never defined by our take or our emotional feelings. I do hope those who lost their lives are now in the presence of the Lord. ("Thus we are full of courage and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord." 2nd Corinthians 5:8, as rendered in the NET translation.) I was aware of Tom Petty, but, had to ask someone to name one of his hits. The truth is whatever their standing was with God, their time here on earth has ended. However, if you are reading this, it means that you and I are still able to do business with God. We can know that we know without any doubt about our eternal destination by responding to God's provision and offer of salvation. "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." (John 3:16, as rendered in the New King James Version of the Bible, NKJV) Whoever believes. Everlasting life. That's right. "For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Romans 10:13, NKJV). Amen.

We are a peculiar lot, don't you think? ~ I read that in Japan, girls with crooked teeth are considered to be more attractive, therefore, many undergo a procedure to make their teeth crooked. ~ Based on research, judges are more likely to be stricter in their rulings closer to lunchtime because of a lower blood glucose level. ~ A lying competition is held annually in England. Participants come from all over the world and have five minutes each to tell as big a whopper as they can. Politicians and lawyers are banned from the games because they are thought to be too good at telling lies. ~ Children exposed to family violence show the same brain patterns as soldiers who have been in combat. ~ According to a Stanford University study, people with higher IQ's tend to be more forgetful. ~ A man sued Pepsi because he claimed to have found a mouse in a can of Mountain Dew. They defended this charge by proving how quickly a mouse would dissolve in Mountain Dew. ~ Like I say, we do live in a strange world populated by some strange folks. Just like me. Just like you. The good news? Jesus loves us all and He came, lived a sinless life, died on a cross, and was resurrected so that any who receive Him can live with Him forever and ever, Amen.   ....More later.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Reading it again, for the first time.

Today is Friday, October 6, 2017, and we are all still in somewhat of a state of bewilderment in the aftermath of the mass killings out in Las Vegas. I'm certain that Franklin Graham doesn't read my blog but here's his Facebook posting from this past Wednesday: "Many people don’t understand what would be in a person’s heart to spray bullets into a crowd to kill and wound as many as he can. Or what’s in the heart of a person who drives his car across a bridge in London and into a crowd of people, get out with a knife, and stab innocent people and police officers. Or what’s in the heart of a person who would take a knife and cut off the head of another human being. Many don’t understand what’s in the heart of a person who’s a senior attorney for CBS and says she has 'no sympathy' for those killed or wounded in Las Vegas simply because people who listen to country music might be Republicans. The common thread that runs through the heart of each of these is evil. The Bible says, 'The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?' (Jeremiah 17:9). Evil exists in the world today and the Bible warns us that 'because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold' (Matthew 24:12). We see a rise in wickedness, not just in this country but around the world. And Hollywood filmmakers continue to promote evil, wickedness, violence as a form of entertainment. Our nation is in trouble, and only God can heal the human heart. That’s why Jesus Christ came—to pay the penalty for our sins and to offer forgiveness through faith in Him. What’s in your heart today?"

My blog the day before his posting, last Tuesday, had some very similar themes. My wife sent me a note and said it was exceptionally good. That's a first. She has used the word good, a rare very good, but, I believe that's the first time she has used the 'e' word. At any rate, I thought it would be good for us all to read that one again, including me.

Today is Tuesday, October 3, 2017, and I'm thinking how hard it is to know what to say about something as tragic as the shooting out in Las Vegas. The people of our nation hurt as we think about the lives lost at the hands of one individual. I heard one eyewitness saying that she had seen children falling as the shots rang out. Children, moms, dads, brothers, sisters, cousins, grandchildren, and connected to us all as fellow citizens out to enjoy a night of their favorite music. One need only to listen to some of the news reporters to see how quickly politics was injected into the mix of their supposed reporting of unbiased facts. One senior legal counsel lost her job with CBS for tweeting out how she had little sympathy since these were country music fans and likely Trump supporters. CNN's chief Whitehouse correspondent actually implied something very similar to that same sentiment, but, as for now, he still has his job. One thing is absolutely certain. This heinous act has forever altered the lives of a huge number of people. My heart is broken. Our only hope is in the Lord. "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." (Psalm 147:3)

I didn't know anything about what had happened in Vegas until I got into my truck shortly after 3:30 a.m. on Monday morning. I put my regular BBC on and it was live streaming a press conference with the policing authorities in Las Vegas. I checked a couple of times to see if I had it on the right station. I still didn't know the magnitude of what had happened. All I could do was to think of the fallen, their parents, grandparents, and other loved ones. That, in a manner of speaking, brought me to my knees, as I sought God on behalf of them all. Let's see. We've still got the North Korean crisis going. The ongoing recovery from the hurricanes here in the contiguous states and the ravaged U.S. territory of Puerto Rico. Add to these, a variety of world calamities in progress, the shooting in Vegas, and all the insults flying forth and back on the political front. Is it any wonder that some reporters tell their viewers they might want to have the children leave the room. I'm not sure if that wouldn't be a good idea for us older folks as well, however, we all know that hiding from reality will not change anything. We continue to see what evil the human heart can conceive and bring forth. No wonder God inspired the Prophet Jeremiah to proclaim: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?"Jeremiah 17:9  (English Standard Version, ESV)

We will soon learn the names of those who were murdered. Life is very fragile folks, and short. Shorter for some than others, but, relatively short for us all. That's why God calls us to make peace with Him and get our lives straight, now, today. The Apostle Paul in his second letter to the members of the assembly meeting in Corinth, Greece, quoted from Isaiah in reminding them of this truth, "For He says: 'In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you. Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.'" (2nd Corinthians 6:2) I know I have droned on from a spiritual perspective, but, I can't apologize because I feel it's our only way forward. This is my heart. Now you know how I see these things. Those people who died needed the Lord. The man who perpetrated this great evil needed the Lord. But none of them needed Him any more than you and I. That's my point. No offering required for today's sermon. Just me. Sharing. May God bless each one who reads my blog today and may He intervene on behalf of our hurting nation. Amen.

Thanks for hanging in there with me this week. I would hope our places of worship are filled to capacity this upcoming Lord's Day Sunday. It would be the appropriate response to seeking God at this time. Amen. .....More later..

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Happy 52nd Birthday to our Chris

That's our Chris standing in the back, our Rodney on the left, yours truly, and our Jimmy.
Today is Thursday, October 5, 2017, and since it is the 5th of October, it is my privilege to recognize the birthday of our eldest, Chris, born 52 years ago. We are very thankful for Chris and his testimony for the Lord. He is a teacher of God's Word, a husband, dad, and grandfather. He has been successful in his chosen business profession and we know that to be by the grace of God. We typically visit by phone each day on our way home from work. We pretty much settle most of the world's problems, talk about politics, and often go forth and back on a particular Bible passage. We thank God for him and his family. Happy Birthday, Son, and may God continue to bless. Our love, mom and dad.

I've heard it already. In that photo, I look like maybe they had checked me out of the home. It was taken a few years ago. I can tell by the placement of those suspender stays that things have changed since then. They no longer are close to my shirt pocket. I actually didn't want to explain that but I knew some would wonder what I was talking about. I guess that thing they wrote on our car at our wedding was prophetic. "Watch Louisiana grow!" Maybe it was a curse because the growing part has continued. Speaking of change, let me catch you up on my latest go-round with this new diabetic medication. It is in a family of drugs designated as sulfonylureas. One of the number one side effects is weight gain. I've hit the jackpot with that one. Too much, too quickly. I've exchanged messages with my doctor and he said that perhaps we will need to do something different. (You think?) I have started cutting the already tiny little pill in half because I don't want to totally lose the progress I've made in lowering my blood glucose numbers. Life. No one said it would be easy. At least I have something to blame for my weight gain. Sadly, it isn't connected to overeating the wonderful foods I love so much. Oh well, we get up each day, and most of us do our own version of trial and error. You know what I am talking about. It hurts when I do that. Well, don't do that!

Maybe the next stop will be one of those wonder drugs advertised on TV. Our health plan doesn't like to prescribe anything other than generic unless it is absolutely necessary. Some of the fine print indicates a really insignificant impact on the management of diabetes, but, that doesn't stop the ads from being on every channel and especially on those channels watched by older folks. (I will not go into how they know, but, I can assure you they do.) Of course, these wonder drug ads are competing head-on with ads from law firms that want to seek damages on your behalf for using those very same drugs. The beauty of capitalism. Do we live in a great country, or what? They might be able to lower advertising costs by joining forces and combining the ads. "We have a cure for your problem and if it doesn't work here's the number of someone who will sue us on your behalf." Okay. I am just having a little fun with this. And, it does break the monotony of watching that guy patch his boat with some super strong tape maybe six or seven times during the same show. I've probably divulged too much of my viewing demographic data but at this stage, as seen on TV doesn't really do that much for me. Does anyone know the number for Conundrums Anonymous? Thanks for showing up today for my PSA. (Public Service Announcement) I had to look it up the first time I saw someone post it, so don't be concerned if you didn't immediately recognize what it was. Enjoy the rest of your day, and may God add His blessings to us all. Amen. ....More later..

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

"If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands (clap clap) If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands (clap clap) If you're happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands. (clap clap)"

Here we go again, I'm going to spin the ole blogger wheel and see what it lands on for this day, Wednesday, October 4, 2017. I'm working on it folks. I think these people who through no fault of their own who inherited a permanent smile, well, they would really make a good Santa Claus. That's the one thing I have to work on, almost more than anything else, keeping the smile going. Yeah. I hear you. That should be the easiest thing in the world. Obviously, it isn't, because I've seen some of the outtakes from my studio work, and even from other venues, and the look they captured on my face was not one embodied with a happy happy spirit. Maybe it's because I get too hot. Maybe it's because my achy breaky bones begin to be noisy. Maybe it's when I become weary. Or, maybe, it happens when I forget to remember that it is one of the reasons I show up for this work. I well remember my grandfather telling me when I was down in the mouth that I looked like a mule eating briars or how he hoped there wouldn't be a sudden freeze that left my mouth stuck like that. At least I know about it. I just don't want to have little kids look at their photo with me and ask their moms why Santa is angry or sad. We all are familiar with the old saying, "Smile and the whole world smiles with you." Guess what? It is true. In a 2015 scientific study, researchers discovered that if we see someone else smile, or even think about a smile, we reproduce it as well. I'm working on it. I really am. I know what I will do. I will enlist the help of Mrs Claus in helping to remind me to put on a happy face. I started to say she is good at giving me instructions but I didn't because she might take it the wrong way and I sure wouldn't want that to happen.

Earlier this week, the wife and I watched "Ben Hur - A Tale of the Christ." It was on the classic movie channel. It was released in 1925. It was a silent movie set to music with placards to convey the dialogue. It was on for two and one-half hours. Released one year after my mom was born, we were amazed at the production values. The stars on the movie poster were Ramon Navarro, a Mexican silent film actor, as Judah Ben Hur, and May McAvoy who played Esther. It was also amazing how closely the Charleton Heston version is to this adapted version from the famous book. I later looked it up and learned that in 1997, the 1925 Ben-Hur was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." It remains one of the few films at Rotten Tomatoes to maintain a 100% freshness rating. You learn something new by watching something old when there's no longer any episodes of 'Ninja Warrior' to watch on Monday evening. The book itself was written by General Lew Wallace, a distinguished Union soldier, especially during the Civil War, who attained the rank of Major General. While his exploits on the battlefield were significant, in the end, he continues to be best known for this religious-themed book published in 1880. (According to what I read, that movie was fraught with many challenges and cost overruns. The filming was dangerous with a number of extras and animals injured as well as one death during the filming of the chariot scene. When it was released it became a huge success with the public and it continues to receive excellent reviews even today.)

Lord willing, I am scheduled and will be filling in to teach one of the Sr. Adult classes at our new Church, this coming Sunday. I did not seek out an opportunity to teach but I had told the Lord I would if I was asked. I was asked. Therefore, I agreed to do my best, with God's help, to share His Holy Word. Many of my former students have weighed in and I think they are praying for these unsuspecting folks. I'm sure that is meant as good fun, but, when you think about it, after all these years they would know first hand. Growing up, we didn't have a lot of things to choose from for entertainment. I was glad when I got old enough to handle the fly swatter out on the porch. Yep. Killing time and killing flies. When I became a little more proficient, I could occasionally knock one down, right out of the sky. Those were bonus kills. Now I'm doing the same thing with scammers who make the mistake of calling my number. I typically key in their number into my pc and when I see the word telemarketer or scam in any of the listings, I quickly load up that number and hit it with that little symbol that says to the world, You've been blocked! Don't read more into this that you should. You can add it to the list of things that might explain how I became who I am today. I'm just joshing. (That term which means to engage with others in a joking or playful manner may have originated from the name Joshua. In the 19th century, Joshua was a common name of those living in rural areas, thus, the stereotype of country folks being less sophisticated may have led to the use of the word joshing.) Let me close by saying it has been one of those days. Tough. Especially when I am juggling without a net. Or something like that. Have a great rest of the day and may God bless each one. Amen. ....More later.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

"The righteous cry, and the LORD hears And delivers them out of all their troubles." Psalm 34:17 (New American Standard Bible, NASB)

Today is Tuesday, October 3, 2017, and I'm thinking how hard it is to know what to say about something as tragic as the shooting out in Las Vegas. The people of our nation hurt as we think about the lives lost at the hands of one individual. I heard one eyewitness saying that she had seen children falling as the shots rang out. Children, moms, dads, brothers, sisters, cousins, grandchildren, and connected to us all as fellow citizens out to enjoy a night of their favorite music. One need only to listen to some of the news reporters to see how quickly politics was injected into the mix of their supposed reporting of unbiased facts. One senior legal counsel lost her job with CBS for tweeting out how she had little sympathy since these were country music fans and likely Trump supporters. CNN's chief Whitehouse correspondent actually implied something very similar to that same sentiment, but, as for now, he still has his job. One thing is absolutely certain. This heinous act has forever altered the lives of a huge number of people. My heart is broken. Our only hope is in the Lord. "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." (Psalm 147:3)

I didn't know anything about what had happened in Vegas until I got into my truck shortly after 3:30 a.m. on Monday morning. I put my regular BBC on and it was live streaming a press conference with the policing authorities in Las Vegas. I checked a couple of times to see if I had it on the right station. I still didn't know the magnitude of what had happened. All I could do was to think of the fallen, their parents, grandparents, and other loved ones. That, in a manner of speaking, brought me to my knees, as I sought God on behalf of them all. Let's see. We've still got the North Korean crisis going. The ongoing recovery from the hurricanes here in the contiguous states and the ravaged U.S. territory of Puerto Rico. Add to these, a variety of world calamities in progress, the shooting in Vegas, and all the insults flying forth and back on the political front. Is it any wonder that some reporters tell their viewers they might want to have the children leave the room. I'm not sure if that wouldn't be a good idea for us older folks as well, however, we all know that hiding from reality will not change anything. We continue to see what evil the human heart can conceive and bring forth. No wonder God inspired the Prophet Jeremiah to proclaim: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?"Jeremiah 17:9  (English Standard Version, ESV)

We will soon learn the names of those who were murdered. Life is very fragile folks, and short. Shorter for some than others, but, relatively short for us all. That's why God calls us to make peace with Him and get our lives straight, now, today. The Apostle Paul in his second letter to the members of the assembly meeting in Corinth, Greece, quoted from Isaiah in reminding them of this truth, "For He says: 'In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you. Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.'" (2nd Corinthians 6:2) I know I have droned on from a spiritual perspective, but, I can't apologize because I feel it's our only way forward. This is my heart. Now you know how I see these things. Those people who died needed the Lord. The man who perpetrated this great evil needed the Lord. But none of them needed Him any more than you and I. That's my point. No offering required for today's sermon. Just me. Sharing. May God bless each one who reads my blog today and may He intervene on behalf of our hurting nation. Amen. ....More later.

Monday, October 2, 2017

William Bendix playing Chester A. Riley, from the radio and TV series, 'The Life of Riley', "What a revoltin' development this is!" (This became a famous catchphrase during the late 1940's)

Good morning and welcome to the ranting and the raving portion of today's program. I thought I would do my best to hit the ground running on this Monday, October 2, 2017. Don't look now but I have currently in my possession a total of 750 Santa Claus bad business cards. This last rerun was better but still pitiful when compared to the first 'perfect' run. I've never actually seen the movie 'Five Easy Pieces', however, I've seen that clip several times of Jack Nicholson ordering the sandwich. Last Friday, I went through a similar situation.  I ended up channelling the Jack Nicholson character: "Okay. Here's what We are going to do. We are going to start over and pretend these bad cards have never been run. Got that? I am going to upload a brand new proof (the same used in the first run), and you are going to take that new image and run another 250 cards and we will call it a new order. You still with me?" The fellow I was talking to said he could that. I should know something about the fifth run either tomorrow or Wednesday. Did someone say the 5th time is the charm? I know. Most people say it's the 3rd time but you can see that one is long gone. All they did on the ones I received last Friday was to lighten the previous bad card up a little. It is only very slightly better. But, it's not even close to the original run. He said he hoped they could deliver the outstanding image I desired. I said, well, we do know it's possible, but, those cards are nearly used up. Oh well, now you know where this white hair comes from. You thought I wanted it to be white? It's really hard for me to catch a break.

I did get asked. Why didn't I write something last Friday about it being National Coffee Day? You know me. I wouldn't want anyone to think I'm too preoccupied with something like coffee. Here's how it really came down. By the time I was reminded to remember about it being a special day for coffee, I had already finished my blog and was getting ready to leave the office on an early morning road trip, at 5:45 a.m. Then you have the situation which is a reflection of my own reality: Every day is a national coffee day for me. I know what some of you are thinking. You wouldn't put it past me trying to establish a National Community Coffee Day. While that has a really nice ring to it, I wouldn't want to be thought of as being conceited in any way because of my own coffee preference. I do appreciate people letting me know when and where they come in contact with Community Coffee. Those testimonials are reassuring. I do want to set the record straight about one thing. I do not now, and I have never carried a copy of the Community Coffee plant in my wallet. I thought that was an important fact to share.

It was my privilege to have been asked to participate in the homegoing service of a dear lady this past Saturday. Sister Catherine, 83, had been a member of our Truth Seekers Bible study class for many years. She was one of the most genuinely sweet ladies that I have ever known. She liked to get to the Church early. I would fix her a cup of Community and we would visit for a few minutes. She had not been able, because of her health, to attend regularly the last couple of years of her life. But, when she was there she was so excited. That's right. Excited. She simply loved the Lord and because the local fellowship of believers was established and ordained by the Lord, she simply loved her brothers and sisters in Christ. She couldn't hear that well, but, that never dampened her enthusiasm for hearing the Word taught, songs of praise sung, and the preaching of the truth. She taught me something. It's one thing to be faithful in showing up at the designated services each week. That can become a habit. It's a good habit to have. However, to show up and be excited about the Lord and His people, well, that's another thing entirely, and she taught me that's how it can be, and that's how it should be. I shared with those at her service how that I also taught Sister Catherine something. I taught her how to enjoy Community Coffee because I didn't want her to be unfamiliar with what they serve in heaven. We are so thankful for knowing her and her family. We didn't tell our Sister Catherine goodbye, we just said, I'll see you after while, on the other side. May God comfort her family. Amen. ....More later.