The Monday Spirit Of Routine

Welcome to another edition of “Oh, Lord! It’s Monday!” Remember these musings are about those “Monday Feelings, Thoughts, And Attitudes” that get in the way of us experiencing the fullness of God living in us. Today’s thought is Routine!

Not all routines are bad. The routine of putting on your antiperspirant AFTER your shower is a good routine. Putting it on before your shower defeats the purpose of it. Or eating something before taking certain medications–because that’s what the directions tell us to do. The routine of spending time alone with God at the beginning of your day is another good routine. But not all routines promote and strengthen our minds, bodies, and heart. THAT’S the kind of routines I’m addressing today.

When we are not careful, routines do something to us–it does a lot of things that harm us. If we focus just on the routine itself–not the purpose of it–then we open up our minds to a lot of trash. Things like boredom, dread, anxiety, frustration, fear, despair–just to name a few. That project at work–instead of an opportunity for being productive, becomes a source of burdens. Driving the kids to schools–instead of being time to connect with our kids, becomes an annoyance.

Routines without the proper perspective get in the way of life–rather than helping us stay focused on the life Jesus died for in order to give us. Don’t allow routines to tell you that your life is boring. Don’t listen to routines when they whisper in your ear, “You’re missing out on life.” How do we keep this from happening? I’m so glad you asked! Keep your focus on what God is also doing in your routines! Even in the routines, God is present–more than present–God is at work in you and He is working for you.

How do you keep your focus on God? That’s another great question–a question you need to ask yourself every day and all day long. I know the answer to the question. Do you? It’s found in the Bible. I know, I know, how strange! It’s found in Philippians Chapter 4 Verses 8 and 9:

8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

New Living Translation

When we are focused on and know that God is with us in the routines, then we can say: “Good! Lord, it’s Monday! What shall we do together?”

Journey Journal: Day 8

Well, today all I can think of to write is one thing–actually two things. The first thing is that The Journey Continues. But isn’t that the nature of Journeys? I’m not writing about, nor am I near The Destination! Every Journey continues until we reach The Destination. But then, there is always another Journey. The second thing–and this is really important for me. . .and for you: God Is Still With Me In This Journey! And what more could I, or anyone else for that matter, ask. And God is still with you in your Journey.

A Saturday Fairy Tale

(This will become a Saturday Series for me; as I am inspired)

Once upon a time, there was a man named Bennie. Bennie was always talked about by the community as a good man. He went to church every Sunday. He could be seen welcoming guests who came to church. He sang in the choir. Whatever the Nominating Committee asked of him, Bennie always said yes. He volunteered for every project and event. His pastor frequently called him “The Salt Of The Earth” kinda man!

One Sunday morning as he was sitting in the choir, Bennie started noticing the other people. He was so caught up in noticing, his heart wasn’t in the choir’s anthem. Music that had stirred his heart was just another habit. He was so caught up in noticing others, that he wasn’t listening to his pastor’s message. He could not help but notice that Fred from work was there. He knew Fred was living with his girlfriend with the proper marriage certificate. After the service was over he congratulated his fellow choir members for another great anthem, though he didn’t remember the name of the song.

Then came the following Sunday and Fred was noticing again. He saw Carol coming into the sanctuary. He thought to himself, “That’s not appropriate clothing for church! She’s showing way too much flesh.” Jim and Betty came in, “Late again!” he muttered to himself. When the offering plate was being passed along he noticed The Widow Jones put in a five-dollar bill. He knew her late husband left her well-off. He thought about that fancy house where she lived. “She could do a whole lot better than a fiver”, he said to himself.

Sunday became Fred’s day of noticing other people. When Henry and Liz came in holding hands as they always did, he remembered, “Wasn’t that Henry’s truck over at Jessica’s house the other night? I believe it was! I KNOW it was! Liz was out of town with her job. And Henry is looking so, so–what’s the term? Smug and self-righteous, that’s the term!” After complimenting his Pastor for another great message, which he never heard because he was noticing people, Fred went home.

That afternoon Fred did a lot, I mean a lot of thinking. He thought to himself, “You know, I’m a whole lot better than all those hypocrites! And after all these years of faithful attendance, I do know a lot about Jesus and the Bible. In fact, I know enough, more than enough, that I don’t need to go to church anymore. Besides, the people are so distracting!”

The very next Sunday, Fred remembered what he thought about the previous Sunday, so he decided to stay home. But something didn’t seem right to him. So he went to his computer and found a different church’s live stream. The musical production was awesome and the preacher was engaging. After watching it, he felt a little better. The next Sunday Fred decided to try attending in person at HIS church. But the distractions persisted and consumed his noticing.

Fred’s attendance became more and more sporadic. He quit the choir and resigned from all the positions that blessed Nominating Committee had put him on. Now, on the Sundays he was attending in person, he watched a variety of churches streaming services. Then he noticed that he didn’t have to watch them live–for his convenience those churches saved those services to watch later.

Since Fred didn’t have to busy himself on Sundays watching worship services, and being his day off, he found other things to occupy his time. He could always watch that streaming service later. Finally, he stopped watching them altogether. And Fred was feeling so much better without being surrounded by all those pitiful church people, or so he thought.

But life changed, as it always does. His Dad died and not a single person from church was there offering love and care. His new friends were there, but their advice was shallow and didn’t help. Then Fred had a crisis at work–he was let go. Again, no one from any church came to his side. Fred was all alone. It made him a little sad–but when he thought about all those hypocrites, what was the name of the church he used to attend? Nevermind! He didn’t need them! He was very content living without those annoying connections with other people.

Fred adjusted very well to his life. He became very self-reliant and self-sufficient. All that talk he had heard about the importance of the Body of Christ in one’s life seemed so foolish to him. How in the world could he be so deceived. He was a bit mad at himself for believing all that baloney! And so Fred lived in isolation for the remainder of his earthly life.

One day death was approaching Fred. He knew it would. In his mind, he reviewed all that huge amount of information he knew from the Bible. He remembered the day he was baptized and joined that church, the name he couldn’t remember–but he was a member there. One night Fred closed his eyes as death came to him. When he opened his eyes again, he expected to see pearly gates, walls of jasper, streets of gold, and his very own mansion that would put Widow Jones’ mansion to shame.

Instead, Fred was in this large room by himself. Not another soul in sight! He was a bit confused because none of this matched what he learned those years he went to church. He thought to himself, “Maybe this is just a waiting room–a holding area–while they do the finishing touches on my mansion. And where are all the people who should already be here?” Not another soul could be seen. He wondered how long he had been in that lonely room. But then he remembered that in eternity there was no such thing as time. But he still wondered, “Where is heaven? Is this heaven?”

Panic set in and Fred screamed out, “What’s going on? What’s this place? It doesn’t look like anything I learned from the Bible! Where all you, God?” A bright light shined, it hurt his eyes, and he heard a voice, the voice of God. “What’s wrong, Fred?” Fred replied, “This doesn’t look like heaven!” God replied, “It’s not.” Fred started to tremble, thinking he was in hell. But he knew this wasn’t like the place he learned about. This time Fred shouted, “This doesn’t look like hell, either!”

It sounded to Fred like God let out a little chuckle. Then God replied, “It’s no.” Frustrated Fred said, “Just then what is this place?” There was silence, and Fred swore he just heard God sigh–it was a deep and sad sigh. “This place”, God replied, “is the place you longed for, sought hard for, and the place on earth you became contented. Fred, this is what you wanted while on earth–so now you have an eternity of it. Being alone.” The end.

The Moral Of The Story

No, this is NOT a lesson on what heaven and hell are about. It’s a lesson about what we desire when it comes to the Community of Faith. There are all kinds of good excuses to avoid being with others in the Body of Christ. Even with her faults and flaws, truth is we need the Body of Christ–the Fellowship Of The Broken Who Need To Be Whole. And the bottom line of The Moral is this: Whatever you desire the most–you will get. So, ask yourself–will it satisfy you for eternity?

The Journey Journal Day 6: Prayer Works!

Some days there will not be much to write. This is such a day. But what little I write is really important. Yesterday morning I asked people to pray for Dad’s pain levels. Yesterday his pain level was much less. I am being reminded that Prayer Makes All The Difference! Thanks for your prayers, and keep praying–for us, for the people and situations around you, and don’t forget to pray for yourself!

Journey Journal: Day 5

Yesterday’s Syllabus was all about The Joy–while in the midst of pain. Remember I said earlier that the Spirit is going to be teaching me–that this Journey is a classroom where I am the student and The Spirit is my Professor. Professor Spirit never gives out a Syllabus before the Course begins, but He does reveal that Syllabus one day at a time. I suppose Professor Spirit does this to keep me from anticipating so that I may be enabled for the participating of each day. Allowing one’s self to trust God in the moment is the only way to successfully pass the course. Besides, if I am anticipating, rather than participating, I may well miss what I need to know–after all THE Father Knows Best!

Yesterday’s Thanksgiving Feast was filled with Joy! Debbie and I were there, all his grandchildren and great-grandchildren were present. Everybody brought something–both to eat and to share their presence. Dad was so glad to see everyone–the house was filled with his Joy! And our Joy was to spend this day with him. Last year’s pandemic made it out of the question to happen. But this year–it was a day filled with gratitude just to be together as family. Conversations were going on everywhere. But when it came time for The Moment–for Dad to offer up the Blessing–all grew silent; just to hear him pray another time. Here’s that moment captured for all times.

There was also some pain, a lot of pain. My sister, Jacque, was missing–she was occupied being Thankful in Heaven. One moment I heard her daughter, Christa, laughing out loud. I swear, she sounded like the laughter of Jacque–so much so, I paused a moment from carving the turkey. How I miss her aggravating me! I remembered all those times we were all at Mom and Dad’s home–when either I or Jacque started something. We did this as kids, so why stop doing it as adults! Right?

This wasn’t the only pain. Dad’s fractured leg is still hurting a lot. I want to ask you, readers, to pray that his physical pain will subside and go away altogether. When my Mom’s physical abilities were greatly diminished, she would say with a tear in her voice, “Well, all I can do is pray.” And my answer to her was always, “That’s the most important thing you or anyone can do.” I need you to pray with that same sense–that it’s the most important thing you can do because prayer still works! Dad’s physical pain is so severe that it’s creating another pain.

Physical pain also attacks the mind and heart. Dad has always been the one who lifts us up. Now he is feeling that his life has become a burden to the family he loves so much. His physical pain is making him think that he is a burden to us–and it’s not. He said he wants to go to a nursing home so that he will not be a burden to us. THIS pain of his is rattling me, and the family. I told Dad that all his life he has done nothing but good things for others. Good deeds, if you would. And that everyone knows that no good deed goes unpunished. That’s a joke, folks. I am trying to help him understand that we are now pouring back into his life everything he has been pouring into our life. That receiving is also a part of giving. So, Prayer Request #2: Pray that he will not see himself as a burden–but a joy to us! To enable him to receive back into his life everything he taught us about living!

20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

Ephesians 3:20-21 (NLT)

Journey Journal Day 4: Always Give Thanks!

Thankfulness! More than just because today is Thanksgiving Day, it’s part and parcel of this life in Grace. I’m certainly not Thankful for everything that happens. And I’m not Thankful for this current journey. Nonetheless, I agree with what The Spirit taught me this morning as I sit here at this table in Dad’s house that will soon be filled with our family–Always Be Thankful!

Though I am not at our home in Mt. Vernon (ALABAMA!), I still went outside with my coffee, my music, and my honest feelings. As I looked up in the night sky, right there in front of me were 2 vapor streams from 2 jets. And what was unique about them was they were parallel. They were the same distance part all the way across. I know they were the same distance apart because, after all, I have an eagle eye!

There was a very distinct difference–one was ahead of the other. And in that moment, today’s lesson came into focus. I am on this journey–we are all on some type of journey, by the way–and God is always ahead of me. He’s leading me. He’s with me right now. And He’s preparing me each and every step down the path. And because He is going before me–I know I can count on Him and trust in Him whatever the future may bring. He knows what it is–so He knows what I need.

We can always we Thankful when our lives are anchored to Jesus. If we submit to Him and Trust Him, we can be certain that God is ready to give us what we need when we need it. And every now and then–He surprises us with something extra–something unexpected–something that only the trusting heart can recognize–The Assurance that He has our life and the moments of our life in His Hands, and He will care for us regardless of what the future may hold. Be confident that He has 2 parallel vapor streams where one is ahead of the other moment for you. Don’t let what happens in your Journey control your thoughts–stay focused on God. Don’t be Thankful for WHAT happens–be Thankful that God is leading the way for you!

The Journey Journal: Prepared For The Unknown

Good morning! Dad is coming home today after his short season of respite care–and Debbie and I are getting ready to go to his home to continue that respite care. And my personal epiphany is that I am prepared for the unknown. How do you prepare for what is unknown? I don’t know exactly–if I did, then the future wouldn’t be unknown, would it? I just know I’m prepared. Don’t ask me to explain the calm that is in me at this moment.

My personal respite season is over–until the next one. Even before this Journey began, God made sure I had my own respire season. It ended on a great note. Thomas, a good friend of our grandson Hampton, killed his first deer yesterday afternoon! So, what lessons have I learned from the first part of this course?

Take joy in others! The look on Thomas’s face was priceless! I had put him and Hamp in one stand, I went to another just to be alone in God’s creation. I wasn’t hunting–but I had my reliable .270 with me just in case a monster buck came out. He didn’t, but a small doe came out and I watched her for over 30 minutes. It was Pure Joy watching that little one.

We need to allow others to help us. My kills are taken straight to a processor–no field dressing, no gutting, no cutting! They do that part for a measly $25.00 fee (then they add the butchering cost). But Thomas and Hamp are going back to their homes this morning. So I proceeded to do what I had always counted on CCC Processing to do for me. Hamp and Thomas might have been able to prepare that deer for their travel–but they needed some help. So, this old Grandpa helped them. Dear Lord, how I appreciate CCC Processing! It’s worth the extra $25.00.

I’m going to need some more help in this Journey–and I am being reminded through you, the readers, my friends, my faith family, and biological family–that help is all around me. And The Best Help Of All is that God is with me every step of the way. And there is no doubt about it–Great Are You, Lord!

Journey Journal, Day 2: Physician, Heal Thyself

The Holy Spirit released the first part of His syllabus, and here is the subject: Physician, Heal Thyself! Yesterday I admitted I was overwhelmed. I knew better–but still–there I was! Has that ever happened to you–knowing better, nonetheless you were in the wrong place? It was something I needed to deal with–to overcome rather than being overwhelmed! And yesterday’s syllabus helped me do just that!

Over the decades, people have come to me with that sensation of being overwhelmed! My counsel to them has always been the same: Take a breather! Step back and for a moment, deal with that sensation by NOT dealing with it. Whatever it takes–take yourself a respite! And the Holy Spirit looked me square in the eyes and declared: “Physician, heal thyself! Saturday, one of our grandson’s Hampton, called me wanting to know if he and a friend could come down to go deer hunting because they were out of school. Remember I was overwhelmed.

And I said the wrong thing–I used this Journey as an excuse to be too busy. I know, shame on me! Sunday afternoon I felt that shame, so I told them to come on down. And yesterday, as well as today, we are deer hunting. Yesterday afternoon I took them to their stand and I headed out to mine. Sitting there looking out over the green field, I felt that unnecessary burden being lifted off my shoulders–and my mind. In an instant, my heart took over my mind. Peace and its companion confidence swept over me. Here’s a picture:

Self-Care is not being selfish, and it’s certainly not a sin! I wasn’t taking care of myself–so I was unable to focus on what it will take to take care of Dad. Make sure you take time to make time to take care of yourself. And again, one of our grandchildren, Hampton, taught me an important lesson. Thanks, Hamp! Excuse me, I’ve got to take them boys out again. By the way, I got one of them in the picture!

New Journal Entry: Day 1: Whelmed!

I realized something Sunday morning as I was preparing for my responsibilities as pastor and preacher. Friday I mentioned that I may not be blogging much–but then again–I might just journal what I had thought was a “New Journey”. What I realized as I was looking at myself in the mirror while shaving–is that it’s not really a NEW journey–helping watch over and take care of Dad. While the Journey to Heaven is Straight (and Narrow)–Life’s Journey has lots of twists, turns, and detours. This is where I am–a turn–a detour if you would–from my intended travels. And there’s a word that goes with what I am discovering in this–call it a turn or detour.

Whelmed! That’s a word we don’t hear very frequently. In fact–you may have never even heard or used it used at all. But the word OVERWHELMED? Let’s just say you’ve not only heard that word–you have experienced that word. Whelmed means “engulf, submerge, or bury”. In other words, it’s that feeling of sinking and drowning. Add to this word OVER–well you know what that means. It’s being more than sinking and drowning–it’s the feeling of having an anchor tied to your ankle pulling you down even faster.

Though Dad is still in respite care and will not be home until Wednesday, I find myself already on this journey. I’m preparing–well at least I’m trying to prepare–myself for what lies ahead. And that’s a good thing–to be prepared. I remember that much from my days as a Boy Scout. I mean, who takes a vacation without planning–the route, what to pack, and how to get there! But as I looked at myself in the mirror–I started feeling whelmed. And it didn’t take long until I felt OVERWHELMED. It’s not from thinking about taking care of Dad–it’s about all the other stuff!

Being a preacher means I should know better! I’ve counseled countless others on this very issue, reminding them that God is with them in those moments. Being overwhelmed hindersobstructsprevents us from moving forward while also realizing and being confident that God is both with us and will see us throughout this journey until it’s completed. It’s a paralysis that causes us to question ourselves–our abilities, our faith, and whether one can do what needs to be done in a way that is uplifting and encouraging. I’m questioning myself–more than I am God in this moment.

This is Day One of this journey. I know the solution that will fix that man in the mirror. But knowing isn’t the same as doing. Obviously, I’ve got my work cut out for me. There’s a raging battle going on inside me. I know God is with me in this battle. But I need the confidence that goes with that knowledge. Thankfully, my Heavenly Daddy hasn’t abandoned me in this conflict. So I refuse to give up even though I’m overwhelmed in this moment. Indeed, I need help! But as the Psalmist wrote: My help comes from The Lord!

Update on Thanksgiving In The Changes

Well, yesterday morning Hospice brought in a portable x-ray and it reveals a fractured tibia from the Wednesday evening fall. He has been taken to a local nursing home for what is called “5 days of respite care”. He will then be brought back home Wednesday afternoon. He is going to require 24/7 care for now, maybe longer. Assisted living is no longer an option–for now, maybe never.

We are adjusting our schedules and seeking out trustworthy people to hire when we cannot be there. Now there’s a task. And if you are looking to combine your faith and a new career/business–this field is wide open. AND because he will be back in HIS home Wednesday, we are still planning and having our Thanksgiving Celebration at the home where I spent over 12 of the most important years of growing up. I will be remembering with Gratitude all that this home has given to me.

This adjusting of my schedule may mean I will not have the time to write every day. But I will keep you posted. Maybe even journal this journey here on this blog. Your prayers are being felt by me and my whole family. You’re doing a great job–so don’t let up. My prayers for him are that his pain will diminish and he will again that be more mobile. Besides, he’s ready for his Home Going and I am so thankful for this; He will be able to see his Jesus, his wife of 73 years, his 2 daughters already there.

I am seeing this season of life as yet another classroom; and the Holy Spirit is my teacher. I haven’t yet seen His Class Syllabus nor the subjects He will be covering. I can trust Him because He has proven Himself every time to be faithful and loving to me. So, I will be watching, listening, and hopefully learning some lessons–about my relationship with Him. And who knows, maybe I will learn something that will help me minister to somebody else. After all, God never wastes any good scars. Until my next Journal Entry, I am deeply indebted and grateful to you who take the time to read this blog. Now, unto Him, who can do so much more than we can think or even imagine–to HIM be all of the honor and glory. Now and forevermore! Amen and Amen!