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!

Thanksgiving In The Changes

I know today isn’t Thanksgiving Day–but it is Thanksgiving Day that I’m thinking about this morning. I’m not thinking about all that food–but I am thinking about all the changes that are about to happen with our family. It was just a few weeks ago that Dad had to be taken to the hospital because his heart was in severe A-Fib. But Dad is a tough old bird–95 to be exact. And a couple of days later he was back at HIS home–that same home he had built in 1962. We decided to ask him if it was OK with him–after all, it’s his home–to have Thanksgiving at his house. We would do all the preparations–and he agreed. All of us realize this may well be our last Thanksgiving Day with him.

And now it appears that a big change is about to happen. For over 3 years he has been living by himself. But recent events are bringing about a change that he, nor us, wanted to see happen. Last week he fell, but he was unable to get back up, so he had to use his alert button to get paramedics there to assist him in getting back up. No injuries. Then this Wednesday he fell again–and again needed assistance to get back up. But this time he twisted his ankle–and it really hurts.

I called him yesterday afternoon to see how he was feeling. The conversation I knew that would happen one day–happened Thursday, 10 November 2021. Fighting back the tears he told me it was time for a move to assisted living. But, in his own words, “I want to hold on until after Thanksgiving.” These words are from a man who is a fierce warrior in life. He worked for 30 years in a plant, the last several years while also serving as a bi-vocational pastor, spending his vacation time going to school. When he bought the place to build his home he bought an extra lot for the garden. It fed us and many others over the years. He continued that garden into his late 70’s. And after retirement from being a pastor, he spent many years working at a local funeral home.

Last night and this morning my heart is breaking for him. In April we had to convince him it was time to quit driving. That was a horrible day! We’ve had assistance coming into HIS HOME 3 days a week–something he did not like at all. He’s been losing his independence–something no fierce warrior ever wants to do. He and I have talked about his funeral–and that really wasn’t hard at all to do. This fierce warrior has been running The Race and has kept The Faith. But this change–and at Thanksgiving–is difficult beyond even my ability to find words.

Honestly, I am dreading next Thursday. But it is supposed to be a happy and joyful day. And this dark cloud is hanging over us–trying to crush my heart. I mean, how can you even pretend to be Thankful when you know what will happen very soon thereafter? Well, this is where YOU come in to play. I know my attitude must as genuinely hopeful as Dad’s has been over many years, some of which there wasn’t much hope.

Pray for us, please! I have been so blessed to have This Fierce Warrior for 95 years. He has loved me–forgiven me–and encouraged me all the time. I know I shouldn’t be so down and out. I’ve had him longer than most sons have had their Dads. But my heartache isn’t for me–it’s for Him! For all the times he has been strong for me–now I must be strong for him! I must genuinely show thankfulness and joy next Thursday. But the only way it will happen is if God helps me. And thanks for listening to my heart this morning.

It Matters!

It Matters! There’s so much talk–scratch that–there’s so much SHOUTING about WHO matters. Black Lives. Blue Lives. Asian Lives. White Lives. All Lives. But this morning I don’t want to talk about WHO matters. The burden that has been in my heart for some time now has been IT MATTERS! The reason being is that there are so many–way too many–who believe IT DOESN’T MATTER–though it does. What is the IT I’m talking about?

The IT is What We Believe About God And His Word–otherwise known as The Bible! Theological progressives are promoting this crazy idea that when it comes to God and His Word, it doesn’t matter what we believe, as long as we believe, especially that part about Love. Progressives say, “Just let us believe what we want. And you can believe what you want. And let’s just live together side by side. As long as we love each other, then the rest doesn’t matter.” But IT does MATTER!

People are heading down what they believe is the yellow brick road to enlightenment full speed ahead. But left in the wake of their ignis fatuus are broken, disillusioned, and deeply wounded people. They live a disconsolate and wistful existence. And the Progressives blame that lugubrious state of mind on those who of us who understand that IT DOES MATTER what we believe. While their mantra has been “You believe what you want and we believe what we want and we can still get along” is an incongruity because it elevates US human beings as the highest and final authority of what it means to put our faith in Christ–and to be His disciple and follower.

This kind of thinking is built upon a supposition that we humans are fully capable of understanding the heart and mind of God. That WE have the mental acuities to determine who God created us to become. That WE are free to determine what is right and what is wrong; what is acceptable and what is unacceptable; what is sin and what is not sin. In an online conversation with a progressive, she told me, “The Fall was a good thing because it freed us to determine our own life.” Excuse me, but isn’t that what Satan told Eve and Adam? I think it was.

Another alleged Gospel has been presented–it may sound good and reasonable to the human mind. It even sounds like it’s the way for all of us to get along. But sounding good and being good isn’t the same. Paul warned about this in Galatians Chapter 1, Verses 8 and 9–“Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you.  I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed.”

Good News includes the truth that there is also Bad News! The bad news is that we are all infected, tainted, and under the influence of sin. This infection has corrupted our mind, and thus our ability to understand exactly what God wants of us. And the only reliable source to understand both the nature of sin and how it is affecting us is found in The Bible. Though the Bible was written by human hands, and though human minds brought together all these books as our Canon–our source for authority over us–I maintain that God was watching over these processes ensuring that today we have an accurate and reliable foundation, both about sin and God’s Grace. If God cannot protect The Truth from being transmitted through the millenniums, then God cannot be trusted at all.

We are not equipped mentally nor spiritually to determine what is or isn’t sin. Besides, we already have those definitions. It’s called The Bible. Here in The Bible is where we find Personal Holiness. Do we always get it right the first time? Hardly! But we are not left alone to our own devices to figure it out. We have many centuries of writers and witnesses who attest to the Truth of God’s Word. The Orthodox ways, though not perfected completely, reveal to us that Truth is Truth is Truth. And we are not free to redefine things like sin and personal holiness.

We have the Holy Spirit to help us. And the Holy Spirit will not, cannot contradict The Bible. We need to be careful, very careful, how we handle This Word. It matters what we believe–when it comes to sin, salvation, and a life of holiness. It matters, even if you think it doesn’t matter.

Living A Dial-Up Modem Life

Anyone out there in the blogosphere besides me who remembers Dial-Up Modems? It was the way, and for a season, the ONLY way to connect to the Wacky World Web. The first thing you had to do was make sure no one was using the telephone–or have a separate telephone line just for the Internet. Then through your computer speaker you heard all these weird noises–sounded like R2D2 was somewhere between having a conniption and a total meltdown. Then you waited and waited some more until it said you were connected. And then you went to a website and waited some more. As frustrating as that was, there were no other options at the time. But then came DSL, and finally fiber optic. Why all this rambling about how to connect to the internet? Glad you asked.

There are a lot of people living a Dial-Up Modem Life in a Fiber Optic World. They wait and wait for something they think will satisfy their life. And the waiting time becomes so frustrating that they look somewhere else; only to find that annoying circle spinning and spinning–yet producing nothing. And like Solomon discovered the hard way (Read the book of Ecclesiastes), life is just an empty and vicious cycle of nothingness.

This got me to thinking about that story of the rich young man (Matthew 19:16-22) who was worn out from the Dial-Up Modem Life and heard Jesus was nearby. So he ran to Jesus and asked Him, “What’s the fastest way to connect with the life that satisfies my heart and mind?” With great wisdom, Jesus first suggested doing the things he had already been doing. Why suggest doing what he had already been doing? Because this young man needed to admit that what he had been doing–the Dial-Up Modem Life–wasn’t working.

The young man already knew it wasn’t working–but he needed to admit it wasn’t working–and that he was willing and ready to walk away from that Dial-Up Modem life. Then Jesus told him about the Fiber Optic Life–a life where we will be set free from that vicious spinning circle. All he had to do was give that life up and embrace a new life that has unlimited potential–and will satisfy the hunger of the heart.

So this young man immediately said, “Where do I sign-up?” WRONG! He was hungry for so much more–yet he was unwilling to disconnect from his old life. And he went away so sad–only to keep hearing those annoying noises and frustrating circles. So, what are you holding onto so tightly that it is causing your life to just spin and spin and spin in a vicious circle? Surely it can’t be more important than living the life God created you to experience? You can watch that spinning circle–OR–you can follow Jesus!

The Domino Effect

Back before the swill and slop of Late Night shows such as Stephen Colbert and Noah Trevor, there were some good Late Night shows–Johnny Carson being one of them. I remember one of his guests was this person who had built an enormous display of falling dominoes. I couldn’t find it on YouTube, but the above video shows what I’m talking about. This incredible demonstration all began by knocking over one domino. All the others fell because of that one, single domino.

The Domino Effect doesn’t happen with only dominoes. One single event creates a cascade of effects beyond the initial event. Here’s a modern day example. President Biden orders the halting of the Keystone XL pipeline. This in turn created an instantaneous hike in the prices for fuel. This increase in fuel costs caused the agricultural industry to spend more to gather and process their products leading to an increase in food prices. It now costs more for shipping companies to get the goods to our stores. The retailer in turn has to charge more otherwise they go bankrupt. It costs us consumers more to go to the stores. Rising costs of fuel and staple items cost families and individuals more–leaving them with less disposable income. The same amount of income buys less since prices have risen and continue to rise. This is just one example of how one decision has an effect on so many other things.

And it’s not only in the arena of economics. One decision, one choice on our part has an impact–sometimes immediately–but always inevitably. The decision to be angry at someone or some event leads to frustration. That frustration creates anxiety. That anxiety fuels distrust. The distrust leads to doubt. The doubt leads to the loss of peace. The loss of peace leads to despair. The despair leads to that dark place where we either become bitter–or worse–we become apathetic.

The power of one decision goes way beyond the moment. As Serious Followers Of Jesus, as Citizens of the Kingdom of God, cannot afford to be involved in this downward spiral. And our world cannot afford it. There have been periods in the history of humanity, where one decision led to the collapse of friendships, families, communities, nations, and empires. And in those same times, the One Choice by a follower of Jesus became that First Domino that created opportunities for the transforming power of God’s grace to produce a different outcome. Think about this Domino Effect:

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Romans 5:3-5 (NLT)

Oh, Lord! It’s Monday! 15 November 2021

Just 3 days ago, it was T.G.I.F., THANK GOD IT’S FRIDAY! Leave the work world behind and have some fun! This morning the song has changed to Oh, Lord! It’s Monday. During the season when I was the Community Spiritual Director for the New Covenant Emmaus Community I was inspired to write a weekly devotion by this name. And I was inspired to write a book–I started it, but I haven’t finished it yet. And that got me to thinking why so many dread Monday! I am going to attempt tackling this issue every Monday–the things that make us dread what we are facing in a new week. Have your trays in the upright position. Put away your electronic devices and fasten your seat belts. We are about to take off!

One of the things that will give us that Dreaded Monday Attitude is Unfinished Tasks! And I have several of them. I promised a friend I would help him finish a project. Administrative work I should have already done. Tuesday night Facebook Live Bible Study. Another message to finish. A doctor’s appointment–two actually. Debbie is having a chemical stress test on Thursday. And my book–which I have been putting off way too long. And here’s the thing–of all the tasks I’ve mentioned I’m sure I’ve forgotten at least 5-6 others.

Maybe I’m not the only one who is overwhelmed by Unfinished Tasks on this dreaded Monday. Being overwhelmed by Unfinished Tasks happens for at least a couple of reasons. The first being we haven’t prioritized our time. We’ve put second, third, sixty-seventh things ahead of what matters the most. And we get behind. I need to get my priorities arranged–and that will happen when I stop giving procrastination the top priority in my agenda.

The other thing that makes us feel overwhelmed by Unfinished Tasks is we think that it’s all left up to us–us and us alone. We never think about the best help of all–The Mind, Power, and Presence of God. Paul wrote in Philippians Chapter 1, Verse 6–“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” I can rely on God to help me finish all these tasks–when I make Him my Constantly Top Priority. And so can you!

When we rely on God–allow Him to set our priorities–and trust that HE is always present with us, and IN us–then we can say: Good! It’s Monday! What shall we do together! Now, if you will excuse me–God’s got some things HE needs me to finish!

Going Unnoticed!

image from Power Thesaurus

This morning I am going to be cooking! Not on the grill or smoker–in the kitchen! And it’s not for dinner nor is it for supper. Well. . .unless you like indigenous leaves, plants, and dirt. Yep! That’s what I will be cooking this morning! I will bring the ingredients to a rolling boil, then turn down the heat and allow it to simmer for about 25 minutes. I will strain it into a jar, and then–the excitement begins in just 7 days!

Why am I getting excited? What’s the purpose of such a concoction? What am I talking about? The Why is gun season for deer hunting begins next Saturday. The purpose is to help me be successful in my hunting–meaning meat in the freezer. The Why is the necessity of being Unnoticed by the deer. Deer have a keen sense of smell. They can smell something out of place before they see it. For years I’ve spent good money on this product call odor neutralizers in hopes that the deer don’t smell my presence. The thing about these odor neutralizers is I can’t tell if they are working.

A good friend of mine told me about some dryer sheets that leave an earthy scent on your clothes. And with a little research on my part (and some deep thinking on my part), I discovered I didn’t need to purchase such a product–I can make my own. I will gather up some local vegetation as well as a good scoop of good old dirt–put them in a pot–let those aromas seep into that rainwater–and then pretreat my hunting clothes so that the aroma around me doesn’t attract the attention of those deer. My chances of a successful hunt rise exponentially if they don’t hear me, see me, or smell me. I need to be unnoticed! And what does all this have to do with the Kingdom Life? Glad you asked that question–because I have an answer–and an important point to make this morning.

While being unnoticed by the deer is essential for a successful hunt–being unnoticed as a follower of Jesus is a recipe for disaster. Going to a football game, you need a program so you can know who the players are. But nowadays–when it comes to being Citizens Of The Kingdom Of God–it’s hard to recognize which players are on which team.

The western church, particularly in the U.S. has been attempting, and I might add successfully, to blend in with the culture. The resulting calamity is that in many places the church has gone unnoticed. Churchians, Tenured Pew Sitters, and Aggressive Progressives have successfully sought a path to being unnoticed by the culture. It is no longer seen as a threat to the temporary Emporer of this world. Satan is no longer threatened–and so he is free to roam about, taking countless lives into an eternity of hopelessness.

But this methodology of being unnoticed fails to make this world–and the people who compose this world–any better. It’s a train wreck! Therefore I challenge each and every deeply committed follower of Jesus to become noticeable! Not my ranting and raving! But by becoming the model of the heart, mind, and Spirit of Jesus. Sure, standing out in this culture can make one feel uneasy. But following Jesus isn’t meant to make you feel easy and comfortable. It IS meant to make you noticeable in a good way. The chaos and frenzy that is all around us needs something different. It needs to see Jesus in YOU! The REAL Jesus, who is always radically different from the rest of the world, MUST be seen in you. As I go to gather my concoction, I leave you with these words:

 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

Romans 12:1-2 (The Message)

How Young Are You?

As I was thinking, praying, worshipping, and reflecting–I thought about our grandchildren. I also remember a quote I once heard: Grandchildren are God’s reward for you not killing your children. And no, I’m not going to brag about how our grandchildren are the best looking and brightest of all grandchildren. Why restate what has already been established as true? As I reflected on this blessing from God, I started thinking about one of our granddaughters, Caroline.

When she was little, my oh my, what an imagination she had, and still does today. If you didn’t notice–I, too have an imagination. So, she must have gotten her’s from me! Anywho, she was always, shall we say, Creative when it came to what she wanted to grow up to be. Once she proudly announced that she wanted to be a Ninja Missionary! When she wasn’t doing Ninja stuff, she said she would do Missionary stuff. Then she decided she wanted to be a Petanarian, that’s a doctor who takes care of pets–that is until she found out she would have to go to school. One day she decided she wanted to be a Singer and a Clothing Designer. She would even design and sew her own clothes. Smart business decision–cut out the middleman. And no one ever told her she couldn’t be any of these things! We allowed her to dream without limits.

I’m being more than the world’s best Grandpa–I’m making a point. Caroline did not know any limits to what she could be when she grew up! Anything and everything was in the realm of possibilities. And you may be thinking, “Oh, that’s just the way kids think! They will grow out of that way of thinking!” And this is my point!!! A kid with an imagination that knows no limits is God speaking to us old fuddy-duddies!

Answer these three questions: Does God have an imagination without limits? Let’s see. . .He created a Giraffe, a Zebra, a Leopard, a Whale, Butterflies, and a gazillion-mile universe. Yep! Question two: Are we created in His image? The Bible says so, therefore we must conclude Yep! Question three: Do we have imagination? Since God does and we are created in His Image, the answer is: Yep!

But there is a problem, actually two problems. One problem is some people use that gift of imagination to do evil. Jeremiah had something to say about this in Chapter 17, Verse 9: “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” But the problem bigger and more tragic than using Imagination for evil–Is To Stop Using It Altogether! Without Imagination, we fail to see the full potential for life to be great. The lack of imagination leads us into the Pit Of Despair. It’s that feeling of hopeless that Solomon felt in Ecclesiastes Chapter 9, Verses 3 and 4: It seems so wrong that everyone under the sun suffers the same fate. Already twisted by evil, people choose their own mad course, for they have no hope. There is nothing ahead but death anyway. There is hope only for the living. As they say, “It’s better to be a live dog than a dead lion!”

When it comes to YOUR Imagination, How Young Are You? Misusing this Gift Of God for evil is horrible. But not using it at all? Well, that’s just Tragic–it makes any of Shakespeare’s tragedies look like a Hallmark Channel Christmas Movie! I’m 65 years old and I know I can’t do certain activities like I did when I was 25. But, thanks to our sweet Caroline, I can still Imagine like I did when I was Young! Your body may be getting older–or like mine–it IS older. But it doesn’t mean our Imagination has to get old! “Be cheerful with joyous celebration in every season of life. Let your joy overflow!” (Philippians 4:4 TPT) It’s like this saying: Growing old is inevitable. Growing up is optional! And now a word from this morning’s sponsor:

Mountains And Floods!

What mountain is between you and the kind of life you deeply long to have today? At this exact moment, what flood is sweeping you away from the life you once knew? Where does your hope come from that says you will get over that mountain? Who will rescue you from that flood? IS there a source of hope AND strength that will simply get you through today without being crushed and broken? IS there even hope for a better tomorrow? What source of help has been tested and proven true over and over? IS there such help?

Image if you will, a new car manufacturer comes up with what they claim is the best, safest, and most reliable car ever. Imagine if you will, they claim it will get 60 miles per gallon of gas and go from 0 to 70 in 4.6 seconds. But then they also say, “We haven’t tested it yet. Heck, we haven’t even tried to crank it! But we just know it will do what we claim!” Would you be the first in line at the dealership to buy one?

Imagine if you will that you see an ad for a used car; the picture looks like that car is in immaculate shape. You go to see it and the first thing the salesperson says is “Well, sometimes it runs great, and sometimes it won’t run at all.” Would you pay Kelly Blue Book full retail price? Maybe even throw in a couple of thousand extra, just because? As nonsensical and preposterous as this sounds, yet this is what many do when facing mountains or when being swept away by some raging flood.

You will never be able to climb that mountain, and that flood will sweep you away–unless and until you trust God enough to surrender completely into His hands. He may not do it in the fashion you want–but He will do it. Trying to conquer that mountain or trying to be rescued from that flood by any other method (see my pun? I’m a Methodist!) will always end in disaster. Cry out to Jesus in this moment–and He will help you climb that mountain. And He will rescue you from this flood. This is His promise:

When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

Isaiah 43:2-3 (NLT)

Gummy Adults

Usually, my ruminations begin as I’m listening to my music and worshiping God each morning. But this one began last night as I was preparing to go to sleep. My steps before I climb into bed include brushing my teeth and taking my nighttime pills. I have some prescribed by my doctor and some supplements and vitamins I have chosen. As I opened my pillbox for Tuesday P.M. and looked at my nightly supplements, two words came to mind: Gummy Adults! I know that sounds strange–but remember I am afflicted with random thoughts.

When shopping for my vitamin supplements I’ve noticed (for quite some time now) that there is not only the tablet form for vitamins and supplements for ADULTS, but they also come in Gummy form. Really? What is about to flow out in these next words may sound a bit sarcastic, even snarky. But let me assure you right now–THEY ARE SARCASTIC AND SNARKY! What tha’???? Are there really Adults out there who have the physiological ability to swallow tablets, but just can’t bring themselves to do it, so they Have To buy Adult Vitamins in the Gummy Form? Apparently so, since just about every vitamin supplement comes in gummy form.

One of the major problems–Nay! CRISES–in our culture is there are so many, TOO MANY, Gummy Adults! These are those adults who have refused, for whatever reason, NOT to grow up. And it’s not the fact that they take Gummy Vitamins–that is just one symptom of their problem. The problem is Adults Who Act Like Little Kids! They whine and complain when they don’t get their way. They want and demand attention. They think the world owes them–more than just something– it owes them EVERYTHING!

Adults today–at least it seems to me a majority of them–THINK like a small child thinks. Children rarely think about the consequences of their decisions. That’s why emergency rooms see kids with broken arms because they thought they could fly like Superman, or make that spectacular jump with their bicycle. These Gummy Adults think, process information, and then act from a mindset that is locked into some time-wrap continuum. They not only choose–but they accept and embrace a childish mentality.

Ever read 1 Corinthians chapter 13? Yeah, that one they call the Love Chapter! Well, there’s a line and a verse that Gummy Adults need to read, embrace and become. It’s Verse 11–“When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.” Did you hear that? Growing up mandates you give up talking, thinking, and reasoning as a child. You’re better than that Gummy Adults! Being “Child-Like” is a requisite for being in God’s Kingdom–having that simple trust in and reliance upon The Father. But ChildISH? That’s a shame and a disgrace; and it’s failing to live up to your potential. When babies drool and dribble it’s cute.

But when an Adult drools and dribbles emotionally and intellectually; let’s just call it what it is: It’s Pathetic And Tragic! No wonder you can’t handle real life. You feel like you must take your vitamins in Gummy Form! Come on, folks! For heaven’s sake–for the sake of our great nation–grow up! Men, grow you a pair! Ladies, put on your big girl panties! Get out there and help solve the myriad of problems instead of BEING the problem. Stop insulting children, and become real Adults! Or has no one told you? Silly adult! Gummies are for kids!

It’s A Whiteboard Kind Of Day!

Here’s my thought for today: This Is A Whiteboard Kind Of Day! Truthfully, I first thought about A Blackboard Kind Of Day. People my age know what a blackboard is, but if you’re younger you may not understand the analogy. So, I changed it to an image any younger than me reader can comprehend: A Whiteboard Day!

Every morning I listen to my music–and as I listen–I seek to hear the Holy Spirit in order to know what to write today. I admit it! Sometimes it’s hard to find something to write that is inspired by the Holy Spirit. Those days I simply want to NOT write a thing. But God gave me this gift–and a couple of times (maybe more than a couple of times) I made a promise to you readers not to ever stop writing. This morning my mind was blank. And no comments from the peanut gallery, please!

Then this single word hit me: Blackboard–which I quickly changed to Whiteboard. Today is a brand new day. Nothing has happened YET. And it is up to me–and to you–what we will do and how we will respond to the other things that happen to us. We are free to make of this Day whatever we want it to be. Today is a brand new Whiteboard Day and we have the markers to imprint on it whatever our heart desires. It can be a Great Day or it can become a Miserable Day. It all depends on what we put on This Day. And regardless of what this Day throws in our paths, we are free to leave Our Mark on this day.

It depends on what you desire to achieve in This Whiteboard Day. There are more options than you can shake a stick at. Some marks are not so good. Some marks are even worse than not so good–they are mediocre marks. Today my guide for the marks I will leave on this Whiteboard Day is being formed by one verse from the Bible:

But He’s already made it plain how to live, what to do,
    what God is looking for in men and women.
It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,
    be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don’t take yourself too seriously—
    take God seriously.

Micah 6:8 (The Message)

Here’s the Song that solidified my thought for today:

How Much?

How Much? If you have followed me for any amount of time, you know me: I got questions! Lots of them! Not only am I afflicted with random thoughts–but I am blessed with an inquisitive, call it DNA. I know that some of my questions are a bit on the side of trifling, if not smack dab in the middle of the absurd. But not all of them! Case in point; today’s question: How much?

Customarily this question is asked in the marketplace, yard sales, and flea markets. “How much for that set of tires?” “How much for that necklace?” “How much for that table?” “How much do you want for the truck?” A shallow look at such questions doesn’t mean that the questioner wants to know How Much. What she or he really means is How Little Will It Take For THAT To Be Mine? Forget the manufacturer’s suggested retail price--HOW LITTLE will it cost me to make that mine! But let’s take that question out of the marketplace, yard sales, and flea market. Let’s put it into more important places!

How Much to be a citizen of the good old U.S. of A.? It costs you determination to overcome obstacles. It costs you the time and energy to be productive and add value to our nation and communities. It requires you to do your very best at work without slacking off or whining. It costs you to freely show kindness and courtesy to others. It costs you appreciation for those who protect and ensure your freedoms. It costs you to put the needs of the whole ahead of your own needs. Sometimes it even costs you your comfort by making personal sacrifices. What? Freedom isn’t free? Nope, buttercup, it’s not! Let’s go further with this question:

How Much to live in my neighborhood or community? To start, it costs you getting to know your neighbors. It costs you being helpful to your neighbors. It costs you giving up any prejudices you may be holding. And remember that prejudice isn’t about the color of a person’s skin–it’s about making judgments without knowing all of the facts. It costs you time and effort to make your neighborhood or community a better place. It costs you the willingness to care what’s happening–in the neighborhood or in another person’s life. This list can go on and on; but I will stop with one more query:

How Much does it cost to have inner peace and a higher purpose for your life? That’s not 2 questions; it’s just one. You can’t have inner peace without a higher purpose and you cannot live out that higher purpose without peace. Back to my opening statement. People are far more wanting to give just a little rather than what it really costs. They think the price is too high–but it’s not! Ever heard the expression “You get out of something what you put into it!”? That may be true–but not really! When time, effort, and personal sacrifice are put into a life that really matters and satisfies–it gives us back far more. Inner peace and that higher purpose doesn’t just land in our laps–it happens only when we seek and pursue The Right Kind Of Life!

Our peace and our true purpose comes at a great price. The Good News is the largest part of that price–the part we could never afford nor have the means to pay–has already been paid for, and it’s offered to us in this amazing thing called Grace! Being Grace, means we don’t have to pay for it–nor earn it. Think about these words and then apply them to every part of your life:

Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of Himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of Himself that He had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, He set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, He stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, He lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.

Philippians 2:5-8 (The Message)

But remember my earlier comment that freedom isn’t free? Peace and our true purpose–and God’s offer of this gift–does cost us something. Just as Jesus made this Sacrifice for us–we also need to make a sacrifice to Him! And this sacrifice isn’t about earning that gift or deserving that gift. It’s about the only way to respond to God’s offer. So, How Much does it cost us? How Much does inner peace and living out our true purpose cost? Surrender! Give up our way of thinking and think the way Jesus thinks. I know it’s counter-intuitive, but it works. Stop following the path of How Little and start pursuing life as God intended all along. And don’t focus or worry about How Much such a pursuit costs–simply enjoy the contentment that comes from walking with Jesus!

KICKING AND SCREAMING!

Today’s cogitating thoughts are circling around KICKING AND SCREAMING! No, I’m not talking about the spoiled brat of a child of parents who are clueless about being parents who is making a scene at WalMart or McDonald’s. Even though I could write several episodes about this annoyance–I’m staying away from those thoughts. I’m reflecting on my own desire to be KICKING AND SCREAMING–and how I wish others would join me.

Understand what I’m talking about. I’m not talking about being a spoiled and unhappy adult. I’m vocalizing the urgent need for those who align themselves with Jesus–to stop giving up and waving the white flag of surrender! I am hearing so much–WAY too much–from allegedly good Christian folk that this world and culture is so bad–so far gone–that the only thing that will change it is for Jesus to return. I mean–how many social media posts–how many conversations today–are revolving around the thought that the end of time is near! So, come Lord Jesus, come!

There’s a problem with that kind of thinking. And the problem is this: When we conclude and believe that the only remedy for this current mess is the return of Jesus–then we have thrown up the white flag of surrender to Satan! This kind of libidinousness declares that God can no longer work through His people. That God has reached the end of His abilities and capabilities. It’s manifesting that maleficent perspective that we just want to give up and go home.

Granted, to be absent from this body is to be presence with The Lord. And make no mistake about it–I will overflow with Joy to see The One who suffered on the cross for me. But I’m not longing nor am I begging for the return of Jesus–just yet. There are so many hearts who have been blinded by the god of this age who will not experience the Joy I will when I see Jesus face to face. I refuse to give up to the Devil–and I will not abandon a fellow person who is also made in the Image of God.

Kicking And Screaming! That’s what I’m doing! I am going to stay in this fight–and I fight with the living hope that God is going to make the difference in another person’s life–even if so many others have given up The Good Fight Of Faith. What if the Apostle Paul had given up? What if he thought that the Roman Empire was so wicked, so vile and evil–that the only hope was for Jesus to come back quickly? And what if James, Peter, Jude, and John agreed with Paul? What if Timothy and Barnabas threw up the white flag of surrender and defeat?

If that happened, the New Testament would be mighty small. And who knows, you might now even be reading my thoughts right now. I will close with a story about the late Paul “Bear” Bryant. It cannot be verified as being truth–nonetheless it makes a powerful point. One of his players graduated and became a graduate assistant on Bear’s coaching staff. One day he was told to go out looking for potential recruits. But he wasn’t certain what kind of player The Bear wanted. So he went to his office and asked, “What kind of player do I need to be looking for?”

The Bear leaned back in his chair and said, “You know, there’s that kind of player that gets knocked down and stays down. We don’t want him. Then there’s that player that gets knocked down and gets right back up. He gets knocked down again, but he gets back up again. Every time he gets knocked down he gets right back up.” Excitedly, the graduate assistant said, “And that’s the kind of player you want me to get!” The Bear leaned forward, and with a scowl on his face said: “Heck no! Get me that player that keeps knocking him down!”

Give up if that’s what you want. That’s your choice. Wave the white flag of defeat and shout it loudly so all of heaven can hear you: “I surrender! There’s nothing else we can do to change this mess! Come Lord Jesus, come!” But me??? I ain’t looking to raise no white flag! I’m 65, but I ain’t dead! And my hope and confidence in Jesus is more alive now than ever! The Good News of Jesus may seem to many to be a foolish way to transform this world with all its messes. But not me! I say to you, Devil–you better run, because I’m still kicking and screaming! And if you ain’t got something to make the devil run–you ain’t got nothing!

There’s A Time And Place For Everything, And This Ain’t The Time For That!

I’m out of the office today, so please pardon and forgive me that I don’t have any new musings today. Enjoy this blast from the past!

Kingdom Pastor

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Last week Debbie and I took a 5 Day Sabbatical to Fort Morgan Beach near Gulf Shores, Alabama.  We needed some time away in order to refocus and re-energize our spiritual batteries.  We needed some time to reconnect to ourselves, each other and of course, with The Father.  And this certainly qualifies this as a Sabbatical.  Some of you are thinking, “That sounds like a vacation, not a Sabbatical.  As a pastor you only work a couple of hours a week.  Why do you need a vacation?”  If you are one of those who think that being a pastor is easy and only requires a couple of hours a week, I want to say to you, “Bless your heart.  I can remember the time when I, too, was oblivious to the real world.”  I think it lasted from birth until I was about 5 years old.  Bless your pea-picking heart…

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What Will It Take?

The question of the morning is: What will it take? In reality, this is the question for our times. I know it sounds like what car salespersons say–but I’m not selling cars this morning. What am I selling? Not a thing! I’m asking this most important question to those who are deeply committed to God’s Kingdom. And it’s not: “What will it take to change the direction and course of this culture?” Nope! That’s not it! However, the right answer to this question I am asking this morning will undoubtedly change the direction of our culture and in a profoundly wonderful way, transform this culture.

Wanna’ know what this question is all about? OK, you asked for it: What Will It Take For Us To Be John 17:21 People?

I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. (NLT)

The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind—Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you, so they might be one heart and mind with us. (The Message)

John 17:21

I do not ask this question to the Tenured Pew Sitters, Churchians, and Concrete People (concrete people are those whose mind is thoroughly mixed up and set in their ways). These people will never be a part of the transformation of any culture. Heck, they are part of the problem! You can’t transform others until you allow yourself to be transformed by God’s Grace!

We can’t be ONE in choosing our favorite college football team. We can’t be ONE in politics. We can’t be ONE in what kind of weather we prefer. We can’t be ONE in our favorite make and model of vehicles. We can’t be ONE in our choice of favorite color. We can’t be ONE in what style of clothes to wear. And we can’t be ONE in interpretations of Scripture. But there is a way for us who are deeply committed to The Kingdom Of God!

Being One happens are we follow the Model of Jesus–“Just as You and I are ONE!” And how was Jesus and The Father ONE? It was their mission and purpose of bringing Fallen Image Bearers back into the relationship they were created for–to be ONE with God! It’s not about us pointing out where others are wrong–it’s about sharing how God makes us right!

Hear me, Kingdom Citizens! Let’s stay Mission Focused and Purpose Driven! We have too many other differences that keep us from being ONE! But the Mission and Purpose is the same for all of us Kingdom Citizens! So? What do you say?

What’s Your Motto?

  • Just Do It
  • A Diamond is Forever
  • When you care enough to send the very best
  • I’d walk a mile for a Camel
  • Quality never goes out of style
  • Finger Lickin’ Good
  • With a name like Smucker’s, it has to be good
  • Snap, Crackle and Pop!
  • So easy, a caveman can do it
  • The Relentless Pursuit of Perfection
  • The Ultimate Driving Machine
  • The Quicker Picker Upper
  • We Bring Good Things to Life
  • The King of Beers
  • Fly the friendly skies
  • Because You’re Worth It
  • Let’s Go Places
  • Have It Your Way
  • I’m Lovin’ It
  • Betcha can’t eat just one!
  • When it rains, it pours
  • Taste the Rainbow
  • What Happens Here, Stays Here
  • When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight

Mottos! Yep! That’s what’s stirring up my gray matter this morning. When it comes to advertising–a great motto helps consumers to remember their product. So, what is YOUR motto? To help you tell me yours, I’ll tell you one of mine: “If you don’t like my sarcasm, don’t ask me stupid questions!”

Even our good old U.S. of A. has a motto: In God We Trust! The thing about mottos is that you gotta back it up–otherwise people just ignore or forget it. Unfortunately, with my aforementioned motto–I back it up with a healthy, sometimes an over-abundance of sarcasm. But that motto on all our currency? That thing about Trust In God? Not a good motto in these times–because it’s not backed up with action.

Before you start ranting and raving about the nefarious cesspool otherwise known as Washington D.C., know I’m not talking about that ash heap. This morning I am talking only to those who self-identify as Christian. I still remember decades ago getting emails about how Madeline O’Hare was going to the Supreme Court in an attempt to get In God We Trust removed from our currency. Now, I would have bought a plane ticket to see that, seeing she had been dead for years!

Christians want it on our currency–but it would be far better for them, for our nation, and for our world if it was just removed from the currency! There, I said it! But before you stop reading this morning’s pensiveness, read what is next. It would be far better for us, for our nation, and for our world if you have a motto that you embody with your attitudes, words, thoughts, and actions.

Yes! we need to Trust In God That’s a no-brainer! But more than saying we need to Trust In God, we need a motto that shows how much we Trust In God! Forget putting it on currency and government seals. Let’s put a new motto on our ordinary, going here and there, doing this and that life. And maybe it’s time I, too, changed my personal motto to one that better suits what God is doing in my life. So, what should it be, America? Hey! I have an idea. What about this one?

For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:13 (NLT)

If we adopt this as our motto it means we would have to stop looking at political parties, the hollow (and I do mean hollow, not hallowed! I said what I meant, and I meant what I said!) halls of academia, and even ourselves in order to see a real transformation in our times; and really live through the strength of Jesus! How strong is Jesus? He carried the weight of all our sins while hanging on the Cross. And somehow, as strange as it may sound to some, I believe Jesus will strengthen us to be a light that brings hope to the hopeless. Call me crazy! You won’t be the first, and I dare say, you won’t be the last!

It’s Gonna Be Alright!

How many times has this phrase been spoken–spoken BY those who think that it’s NOT gonna be alright–spoken TO those who believe it’s NOT gonna be alright? If you watch and listen to the talking heads that are called news reporters, then it’s NOT gonna be alright! Right? Think about it, if you can without getting a headache or wanting a giant bottle of wine or several shots of bourbon.

Vaccine Mandates. Rising cost of fuel. Inflationary prices at the grocery store. Shortages of needed items. The senseless acts of one human being killing another human being. The disrespect of law and order. This total disregard for the value of human life; otherwise known as abortion. The tornado of distrust between people. The decisions that call right wrong and wrong right. The cost of housing. Chaos ruling in the places that should be leading the people. The antagonism. The maleficence. The profligacy. See? If that’s what we think and believe–then AW’ HECK NO, EVERYTHING’S NOT GONNA BE ALRIGHT!

But it is–if you know The Truth. The old series “The X Files” character Fox Mulder was right–The Truth Is Out There! Yes, it’s stormy out there right now. Not just in the news, but maybe in your life you are facing a crisis–heck–you are in a full-blown category 5 hurricane crisis–but it is gonna be alright! If–I said IF you are anchored in the right place–and anchored to the right person!

You will not find that place, nor know that Person by watching the news or trusting political parties. The Place where everything is gonna be alright is in the arms of our Heavenly Father. That Person is none other than the Son of our Heavenly Father, Jesus! And it doesn’t matter the least little bit what you’ve done or where you’ve been. The Place and That Person is waiting, waiting for you to surrender your life completely to Him. Give God permission to take over–take over everything–including the things, especially the things–that are causing you to believe it ain’t gonna be alright!

This isn’t preacher-talk. It’s God’s promise to you–to anyone and everyone. This comes from Philippians 1:6–And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. I personally needed this reminder this morning. Maybe you do, too. I was reminded this morning through this song: