NEW YEAR’S EVE 2021

Today is New Year’s Eve 2021. If you look at calendars, there are only two days with that designation of “Eve”–Christmas and New Year. There is no Thanksgiving Eve, Valentine’s Day Eve, St. Patrick’s Day Eve, Mother’s Day Eve, Father’s Day Eve–nope it’s not on the calendar. Never has been, and probably never will be. But today is one of two days designated as “Eve”. Look at the picture above and definition number two: the period preceding or leading up to any event. Let’s take a deep dive into the idea of an Eve.

Are you excited that this is New Year’s Eve? This morning I was thinking about other New Year’s Days. Specifically 2019–I mean who could have imagined what 2020 was going to bring? Church sanctuaries were closed. Businesses considered non-essential were closed. Stores had limited capacities. Us preachers unfamiliar with live-stream learned how to use Facebook Live (and I still use it). We had to purchase equipment to enable us to do drive-in church. People who were in the hospitals and nursing homes were denied visitors. And so much more. Then New Year’s Day 2021 shows up–and while some of the restrictions have been lifted–this ain’t been a glorious year for most.

But we’re talking about 2022. Are you excited about 2022? Today I am truly excited for several reasons. I don’t have to worry about a ruptured appendix, that happened in 2020. I am excited that today THE University of Alabama (Roll Tide!) will be playing in the Semi-Final for another National Championship (Roll Tide)! Yes, I get excited over certain things. Don’t you think Jesus was excited at the home of Zacchaeus when He said, “Salvation has arrived in this home!” Personally, I think Jesus was shouting at the top of His lungs! If your image of Jesus saying that is one of a solemn face and monotone voice–you need a different Jesus.

Every morning is an Eve–leading up to some event! And I believe this event is the Eve of God pouring out the fires of Revival across our nation and around the world! Why would I believe such a thing with the ways things are? Because I’m not looking at the way things are–I’m seeing them the way that God wants them to be. Each morning is The Eve Of God Doing Great Things In Hearts And Lives! See, there are more than 2 eves–every morning has both the potential and very real possibility to be a life-transforming day for us and everyone else. It’s there–we just need to recognize it.

When we get excited about the movement of The Holy Spirit–before we ever see it–we call that Faith! Faith isn’t about WHAT we see–but WHO we see! Today is the Eve of God doing what Paul said God does in 2 Corinthians Chapter 5 Verse 17 from The Message–Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life emerges! Did you see that word anyone? Anyone means anyone. Isn’t it exciting to see new life emerge? In just a very few weeks a new life will emerge in our family–our first great-grandchild! He’s going through a process, as is his Mommy. It’s not always been pleasant–and the delivery won’t be easy. But all of us will be so very excited about this precious wonderful new life! Will you get excited each morning knowing that this moment is the EVE of God bringing another Great Awakening? I’m excited! If you’re not, then you’ve got a serious problem. Now if you will excuse me, I’ve got some exciting things to do before Kickoff! And Roll Tide! Oh, here’s a song to help your mindset in the right place on this and every following Eve!

they happen on Tuesdays, too!

My “Oh Lord, It’s Monday” post talked about how Interruptions get in the way of life the way God intends. Well, guess what? A Monday can happen on a Tuesday…and it did to me. Sunday night Debbie, my wife, got that blessed “stomach bug”. I prayed for her to get over it quickly–but I didn’t pray for it to stay away from me. Another “Guess What?” for you this Thursday morning: Tuesday afternoon that “stomach bug”–I prefer the term “Spawn Of Satan”–hit me, too. I hope this isn’t too graphic for you–but my mouth revisited everything I had eaten the past 2 years, or so it seemed. About 2 hours later, Satan’s Spawn decided I needed to visit the Porcelain Altar again until it was sure absolutely nothing remained in my stomach.

And that got me to thinking–OK, so I’m one of the few who can get a lesson from a “stomach bug that’s really Satan’s Spawn”. The lesson is this: What The World Offers Us Comes Back On Us, And It’s Never Pleasant. The food I had enjoyed so much, that tasted so good the first time it was on my palate, tasted horrible the second time it was on my palate. (Again, I hope this wasn’t too graphic for the “delicate” folks out there.) That’s the nature of Sin! It always does!

Yet we go back to it again and again. The outcome is always the same. Progressives who teach that some sins are no longer sins bear proof of this axiom. People who live by their “insights” that parts of the Bible are wrong continue to be miserable. And so they blame us Orthodox folks for their misery–that if we would just accept their views, the misery would disappear.

Sin always tastes worse when it comes back up when we least need it to. That’s why God tells us to avoid it! Not to make us miserable–but to keep us from being miserable! How long will you and I keep going back to the Porcelain Altar regurgitating the effects of sin and keep believing one day it will taste as good the second time as it did the first time? Be confident of this–that Sin will always come back up on you. I’m not asking you to be honest with me–be honest to yourself! Think it through, people! Do you still need more convincing?

The man described as the wisest man ever, Solomon, tried to live his life outside of God’s design–in other words–in SIN! He wrote a book about it; we call it Ecclesiastes. And in the very first chapter, he lets us know what it’s like living without God’s guidance. He wrote in Verses 16 and 17–I said to myself, “I know more and I’m wiser than anyone before me in Jerusalem. I’ve stockpiled wisdom and knowledge.” What I’ve finally concluded is that so-called wisdom and knowledge are mindless and witless—nothing but spitting into the wind. I would say, “It’s like kneeling at the Porcelain Altar rehashing what I thought was good–but it ain’t!” For 2022, why not give up thinking that sin will ever taste good the second time around? And Solomon would agree with me–It’s never as good the second time as it was the first time!

Trying To or going to?

One of our grandsons, Ethan, really surprised us on Christmas Day at Dad’s. Ethan recently turned 17 years old. When E was younger all he talked about was the game Minecraft. He could talk on end about the things he would add to the game. So, naturally, we envisioned him being one of those rich game designers. But E had bigger dreams. Though his sister had always been the big dreamer, Ethan kicked up his game–and I had another proud Grandpa moment.

Ethan told us, “I am going to get my pilot’s license!” Notice his choice of verb–“going”. He’s not “trying to”–E is “going to”! Not only is E “going to” get his pilot’s license, but he is “going to” join the Air Force to fly cargo planes. Then he told us, “Then I will either be a cargo jet pilot or maybe a passenger jet pilot. I haven’t made up my mind yet.” This isn’t just a wild hair moment for him.

Ethan’s Dad is active military and one of his uncles is retired military. So E understands the challenges he is facing. Still, Ethan is “going to” fly; not as a passenger but as the pilot! I hear a lot of talk about how E’s generation (and older) lack the drive and determination to accomplish anything. But all that “talk” doesn’t affect nor infect Ethan’s thinking. And what about YOUR thinking?

What does YOUR future hold? What path are you carving out? In a few days it will be 2022. Will you “try to” make it different? Or, are you “going to” make it different? Think about it for more than a split second. Do you really want more of 2020 and 2021 to carry into 2022? The choice is yours, and yours alone. You can “try to” make 2022 different and better. That’s just another empty New Year’s Resolution. Or you can follow our grandson Ethan’s plan for 2022–“I am GOING TO make 2022 different and better.”

Enough of “trying to”–this is the moment to stop “trying” and begin “doing”. Resolve and determination must be your companions–but you need more. You and I need God’s strength that is provided through the Holy Spirit. And the only way this happens is by surrendering our will and desires to His Will and His plans for us. Ethan knows he was made to fly. And so are we–so are we! Stop saying “I will try to fly.” And begin to say, “I am going to fly!”

Oh Lord, It’s Monday! Interruptions!

Interruptions–now here’s a cause for the Monday Morning attitude! I got up this morning, went to get my cup of joy (aka Coffee!) only to find I forgot to set the timer. So I started it, along with the other 3 coffee makers. Our niece likes Keurig, my sister-in-law likes less strong coffee, Debbie and I like real coffee. Her’s is an electric percolator–and mine is a drip coffee maker. But then another INTERRUPTION–the breaker tripped. OK, I finally got a cup of joy and went to our front porch for my morning time with God and my music.

Then another INTERRUPTION–the Wi-Fi was down. By now I’m about to get furious. I mean, how can the Holy Spirit communicate to me without my music? It was then–clear as a bell–I heard: “Even if there is no music, I’m still here with you on the front porch.” And I thanked The Spirit for this reminder–that He is always with me–even in my INTERRUPTIONS. And here is our Monday Morning truth.

Mondays can be full of INTERRUPTIONS. As far as this goes, any and every day can be full of INTERRUPTIONS. Like death and taxes, INTERRUPTIONS are inevitable. And the typical way of responding to them is like what I was starting to do: be frustrated. Frustrations get in the way of accomplishing the things we want to do. We see INTERRUPTIONS as the denial of what we want. And if we want what we want–INTERRUPTIONS are a pain in the…well, you know. But here’s what I discovered this morning.

Want the right things, and INTERRUPTIONS never get in the way. My best friend, The Spirit reminded me of this truth. He was right there on the front porch even if my music wasn’t! When you are faced with an INTERRUPTION, don’t let it get in the way of what matters the most. Remember, we just went through Christmas and have been reminded that His name is Emmanuel–God With Us! Among all the things you may want–want the relationship God offers the most. Then take that INTERRUPTION as your opportunity to experience the depth of His love, grace, and mercy for you. INTERRUPTIONS are gateways to the deepest kind of peace.

When you know that in that INTERRUPTION God is still with you, then you can say: “Good! Lord, it’s Monday! What shall we do together?” Oh, and in case you doubt me, here’s the verse I remembered:

I can never escape from your Spirit!
    I can never get away from your presence!
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
    if I go down to the grave, you are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning,
    if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    and your strength will support me.

Psalm 139, Verses 7 through 10

what did you see this morning?

(This is from last night’s Christmas Eve Service)

The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen.  It was just as the angel had told them.  Luke 2:20 (NLT)

What thing had they heard?  What exactly did the shepherds see?  What Will You And I See In Just A Short Time As We Join Them Around The Manger?  Well, I’ll tell you what they saw.  They Saw What Was In Their Hearts To See.  That’s exactly what you and I are going to see this Christmas. We’re Going To See What We Are Looking For.

1.  The Angels Saw Christmas Joyfully.

The angels looked at Christmas joyfully, triumphantly, celebrating—singing  “Glory to God in the Highest.”  Why so joyfully? The angels understood–understood that this was the final stage for God’s great plan of redemption to be revealed. They had been watching, participating in the life of the patriarchs and the prophets.  All through the centuries they were waiting—now they know that the fullness of time has come.  Before—God had sent, God had spoken—But Now The Angels Know God Himself Has Come In Human Form and They See It From A Heavenly Perspective.  No wonder they shout and they sing joyfully!

2. Mary and Joseph Saw Christmas With Wonder

How could Mary and Joseph describe what were they seeing?  What they were feeling?   We talk a lot about the faith of Abraham who went out not knowing where he was going; well that faith was only a drop in a bucket compared to the faith of Mary and Joseph.  Think Of Mary’s Faith In God, to believe what she was seeing in that manger is going to be The Redeemer of all people.  Think Of The Faith Of Joseph, who believed that this was God in the face of that baby in the manger. They saw a lot of things they didn’t understand. Rather than thinking “How is this possible?”, they saw it with wonder, amazement, and adoration!

3. Simeon Saw Christmas Prophetically

He was a man who longed to see God’s Redemption.  And when Simeon thought he was going to die, The Spirit had said no, not yet.  “You Are Going To Live Long Enough To See Him.”  He goes into the temple that day and in That Moment He Sees And He Knows.  He lifts up that little bundle in his arms and holds it up towards heaven, and he said, “God, you can now release your servant; release me in peace as you promised.  With my own eyes I’ve seen your salvation; it’s now out in the open for everyone to see:  A God-revealing light to the non-Jewish nations, and of glory for your people Israel.” He saw more than just a baby. He saw A Great Light, A Light For The Gentiles, The Light Of The World!

4. Herod Saw Christmas Fearfully

The Bible says he saw it very fearfully.  He was troubled and he should have been.  Jesus Is A Threat To Anyone And Everyone Who Thinks Real Power Is Political Power.   He saw clearly what the real issue was.  He saw that this seemingly helpless baby would bring a new type of sword against everything sinful and evil in the world.  This Baby Came To Save People From Their Sins—He Came To Destroy The Works Of Satan and so men like Herod were fearful because Jesus is the ultimate threat against all forms of evil.  And how should we see it?

5. We Must See Christmas As A Person Experience

If You’re Looking For Just Enough Religion To Keep You Out Of Hell, You’ll Miss The Christ Of Christmas;

If You’re Looking For An Emotional Crutch That Will Help You Struggle Through The Tough Times, You’ll Miss The Christ Of Christmas;

If You’re Looking For An Experience That Will Give You A Warm Fuzzy Feeling Without Any Deep Commitment, You’ll Miss The Christ Of Christmas.

But, If You’re Looking For Life, Real Life—

Life That Is Full Of Purpose And Meaning;

A Life That Will Stretch You And Lead You Beyond What You Can Normally See Or Do;

A Life That Challenges Ourselves And Inspires Others—

Then You Can See And Experience What Christmas Is All About. 

Why?

Why? That’s the question asked by adolescents and teenagers when they are told they can’t have or can’t do what they want. If you are the parent or guardian of one of these blessed creatures, it can be very annoying at times. We often wish they would quit asking that question so that we could quit saying “Because I told you NO!” But it’s not just kids that ask that question. In case you haven’t noticed, adults ask this question also.

This question, though annoying, can become a gateway to something far richer, and take us deeper than we could imagine. I have a very good friend and brother who doesn’t like Christmas. What? One of you just asked: “WHY?” See? What did I tell you! Adults ask that question also! The reason my brother in Christ doesn’t like Christmas is because of how he sees and understands it. He always points out that pagan festivals and rituals are the sources of Christmas. There’s nothing in the New Testament that tells us we should celebrate Christmas. And that we should have no fellowship with the things of darkness. He makes a very logical argument, humanly speaking.

And if this is WHY we celebrate Christmas, then his logical conclusion makes sense. IF you make Christmas all about what you WANT for Christmas–lavishing gifts upon each other and maxing out those credit cards, he’s right. IF you make Christmas all about the parties, and gatherings, and dinners, and decorations, and family gatherings, then again, he’s right. And if we are celebrating Christmas JUST BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT WE DO, once again my friend is correct.

He even points out that December 25 wasn’t when Jesus was born–backed up by historical dating. Now, on this point, we clearly agree. Lots of folks believe, based on our current calendar system, that Jesus was born on December 25, 1 A.D. That’s a misnomer. It is more likely, based on our current calendar, that He was born around 3 or 4 B.C. What did you just say? “How can that be? B.C. means before Christ!” However, calendars are a human invention, and early on mistakes were made. Yes, Virginia, humans make mistakes! And now let’s circle back to my original question.

Why celebrate Christmas? I will answer this question by sharing why I celebrate Christmas. I celebrate Christmas because of the wildly, unimaginable truth that God, the God of Creation, the One and Only True God, the God of all Eternity, stepped in His Creation as one of those He created! He Became Flesh And Blood! In Eternity He had no limitations. As flesh and blood, He was bound by our limitations! For example–you schedule your Christmas Activities based on the reality that you can only be in one place at a time. You can’t be in 2 places at once.

In eternity, Jesus was in a gazillion places at once. But in our flesh and blood? Only one place at a time! Wow! Talk about experiencing limitations! Though that famous song declares “No crying He makes”–it ain’t true. One of the things all babies do is cry. Jesus, in our flesh and blood, as a baby experienced hunger. What babies don’t get hungry? In our flesh and blood, Jesus peed and pooped in his diaper. Joseph and Mary had to potty train Jesus. Jesus had to learn how to crawl. Jesus, the Eternal Word, had to learn how to talk. Jesus had to learn how to walk. Jesus, as that toddler, was told NO by Joseph and Mary when He reached out to touch that lighted lamp. As that child, Jesus experienced falls that resulted in scraped knees and bruises.

This is why I celebrate Christmas–because Jesus became flesh and blood, did all of that and more, for sinners like ME! Without the birth, there would have been no Death. Without the Death, there would have been no Resurrection. Without the Resurrection, there would be no hope for my redemption. The path for my redemption began when The Son of God left Eternity and became the fertilized egg in Mary’s womb. And when I think of this happening, I experience great joy and hope and love!

May this be your reason to celebrate Christmas–remembering that in an instant moment, Jesus left Heaven to look for us–by becoming one of us! And if you cannot see that as a reason to celebrate–then maybe you need to rethink what this Season is all about. It’s all about God setting out in search for sinners like me! So, I celebrate! Will you?

Getting Away

This morning I have escaped to one of my favorite places of refuge. It’s costing me a bit of flack, but it is what it is. Yesterday Dad told me to go home because he is again able to take care of himself. I watched him carefully all day and he convinced me he could. The fear of him falling happens when someone is 95.

So, here I sit in a hunting stand. Don’t know if I will see a deer, but that’s OK. I am here for refuge. It’s still dark but I am experiencing the light of God’s care for me. Throughout the night I prayed for God to keep Dad safe and strong. I have to trust God to take care of him, even as He is taking care of me in my refuge.

My stress and anxiety levels have been through the roof and I haven’t been easy to live with. And here I found this conclusion: Without the places of refuge that God provides, we will be prisoners of life’s challenges.

God has a place of refuge for everyone. We only need to go there, rest there, and allow Him to heal what is hurting, and calm whatever is stressing us. Last night was the longest night of the year, but the sun still rise this morning!

The Journey Journal Day 30: Feeling Like A Burden

Today’s Journal entry is about the feeling of being a burden.  That’s where Dad was last night after I got here.  That morning his feeling able to once again stay by himself was strong.  Friday they said he could take off the walking boot because his broken ankle was completely healed.  It was such a joy to him.  He was feeling more able to stay by himself again.  But feeling of taking care of himself gave way to feeling like a burden. 

Honestly, I don’t know what that feeling is like.  I know how it feels to feel like you’re useless—been there, done that, and got several T-Shirts to prove it.  But being a burden?  That’s got to be even tougher.  I am not alone in dealing with someone who feels like this; and he is not alone in that feeling. Paul knew something about this feeling. He addressed in in 2 Corinthians Chapter 8, Verse 14:

Right now you have plenty and can help those who are in need. Later, they will have plenty and can share with you when you need it.  In this way, things will be equal.

New Living Translation

So, today we will talk more about that—and I believe my part in the conversation has to be helping him to see he’s not a burden.  How can I do that?  Haven’t a clue.  But I do know Someone who knows everything about carrying burdens.  So I will lean into Him and listen as I pray.  I ask you to also pray for us today.

Oh Lord, It’s Monday! And there’s no transforming grace

According to progressive theology, there is no need for grace that transforms us for the following reasons:

  • God loves us just the way we are
  • God wants us to love Him just the way we are
  • God wants us to love others just the way they are
  • (Sounds good so far, right?)
  • Because God loves us just the way we are and because we love others just the way they are, He blesses and sanctifies the way we are
  • That loves erases the idea that we have been infected with sin–i.e. changes that sin into holiness without us changing a thing, other than being loving
  • We are free to keep living the way we have been as long as we love others
  • Loving others must include accepting, condoning, approving, AND blessing their sin of choice
  • The only parts of the Bible that are accurate and relevant are those verses that talk about unconditional love
  • Jesus died on the Cross so that WE can determine what is right or wrong, as long as we love

Therefore there is no such thing as Transforming Grace. Why would anyone ever need to change, to be transformed? Right? Just embrace love and be loving–that’s why Jesus died on the Cross. This sounds like a simple solution to all the human problems today. And yet, even those who have embraced Progressive Theology continue to be unhappy, suspicious, and angry at everyone who doesn’t agree with them.

And the Monday Morning Attitude continues to overwhelm people. The primary reason. . .scratch that. . .the only reason we dread another week is because we have failed to be transformed by God’s Grace or we have forgotten that God’s grace HAS and IS transforming us. As long as we are unwilling to allow His Grace to work on us and in us, then each week provides us only with more misery, disappointment, and heartache.

Thankfully God’s Grace is Transforming us. Grace means God has been working to change us, is working to change us, and will continue to work on changing us until we are exactly who HE made us to be! Each week, each day, each hour, each minute, and every second God is working to make us whole and complete. The problems you are facing are moments where God’s Transforming Grace shines! The fears, anxieties, even failures–God’s Grace is at work to make us stronger, livelier, healthier, and confident.

When we open ourselves to God’s Grace and allow His Grace to change us–then we can say: Good! Lord, it’s Monday! What shall we do together?

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

Saturday Fairy Tales: The Other Side Of The Road

Welcome to another edition of Saturday Fairy Tales! Today’s Fairy Tale is about Pete the Possum. Pete was just a young possum. He had 16 brothers and sisters. But rather than playing with them, Pete loved to go to The Stump and listen to the stories told by the old possums. And the story he loved most of all was the one about The Other Side Of The Road!

The Elder Possums told fanciful tales about a place of grand abundance. There were all sorts of varieties of berries to feast upon all day long; on the other side of the road. Oh, the size of the insects, so fat that just 2 of them would fill your belly, on the other side of the road. Even the humans would lay out food just for them, on the other side of the road. These tales were spun every day.

One morning Pete noticed Frank, one of the Possum Elders, wasn’t there. The day before Frank talked about going to the other side of the road. Pete wondered if Frank had gone there. Every so often, one of the Elder Possums would be missing. Pete said to himself, “I bet he went to the other side of the road! It must be a wonderful place on the other side of the road since none of them returned.

This excited Pete. He began to daydream about the other side of the road. Pete began telling his friends at school about the other side of the road, how marvelous and wonderful it must be. Perry spoke up, “My Granny Mae told me it was too dangerous the other side of the road. They made fun of Pete for believing such a thing. But Pete wouldn’t hear anything about the danger–just all the wonderful things on the other side of the road.

One day Peter was at The Stump to hear more tales about the other side of the road, but no one was there. He wondered where they were? Had all of them gone to the other side of the road? Pete said out loud, “Is it too dangerous to go to the other side of the road?” He heard someone say “Oh, no! The reason you don’t see them is because they are so happy over there!” Looking around and seeing no one, Pete shouted out, “Who’s there?” “Up here!”, the voice said.

Pete looked up and it was Bufford the Buzzard. Pete replied, “But I’ve heard it’s a dangerous place.” “No it’s not”, said Bufford. “How would they know? They’ve never been there! But you should go there, to the other side of the road. Pete thought for a moment–his thoughts fixated on all the wonderful food over there. “And all the Elder Possums are there, too. Don’t you miss their stories? They will gladly show your where to find the best feasts! And I heard them talking the other day about you, Pete! Oh, how they wished you were there!” Pete thought a few more moments. Surely Bufford wasn’t lying! Why would he lie?

Pete made up his mind to go to the other side of the road. He came to the edge of the road. Looking to his left and then to his right, Pete saw nothing dangerous about it. And he saw all kinds of berries waiting for him. He chuckled to himself, “Perry is going to miss out on all the wonderful feasts awaiting me! Dumb Perry, listening to Granny Mae.” Looking again to his left and then right, seeing no danger–Pete set out to the other side of the road. He started slowly, just in case some unknown danger approached. He safely crossed over to the other side of the road. He ate his fill of berries and went back across the road.

Feeling proud of his accomplishment, Pete started to go back home. He looked over his shoulder at all those berries. “Why should I go back home? This place has all I’ll ever need!”, he reasoned. There was no danger at all! It was so much better on the other side of the road. So, he turned around and as he crossed the centerline of the road and was about to obtain all he could ever want or need when he heard a strange noise–and the last thing Pete saw was the tires of that big truck. And Bufford the Buzzard smiled at his next meal. The end.

The Moral of the story is: the other side of the road isn’t what we think it is! Temptations come and offer us something better than what we have right now. More fun! More happiness! More of everything! But temptations turn into sin–and the outcomes from sin are never good!

I Say, Hold On For Just A Cotton Pickin’ Minute!

Are you on hold? Maybe you’re calling that alleged “customer service”, only after you’ve been yelling at a computer or punching in 3,678 numbers, and you’re on hold. Maybe you just answered the call about your car warranty about to expire and you’re on hold. Maybe you just called about the latest electronic innovation but you’re having issues getting it up and running, so you hear “Your call is very important to us. Please wait for the next available ‘customer service’ agent.” You’re on hold.

Waiting is not a new human experience, though some treat it that way. We don’t like to be put “on hold” because we see it as the obstacle to the resolution we most desire. Being put “on hold” isn’t enjoyable! And the music you are forced to hear. . .geez where do they get that stuff? Musicians and composers who couldn’t sell a single record? “Alleged Experts” say that elevator music is calming down the person on hold. Really? Who did they interview? Twiddle Dee and Twiddle Dum? Being “on hold” is annoying and frustrating to the point that no amount of elevator music is going to calm us down–regardless of how they hope it will! So what’s a person to do?

May I make a suggestion–with no elevator music involved? When life feels like you are on hold, switch those 2 words on hold. Now it reads “hold on”. Now, YOU say those 2 words out loud: “Hold on!” Why are you reading my next words when you haven’t done what I asked you to do? . . . I’m waiting! . . . I’m still waiting!! . . . Now you’ve got me “on hold”! OK, you’ve said it. Now I want you to shout it loudly: HOLD ON! Is that as loud as you can scream? Come on, try it again, this time even louder!

Hold on are the two most important words to shout and scream when we need help! But don’t say it to yourself or any other person. Say it to God! Shout it out to God! Scream it to the top of your lungs to God! When everything seems to be falling apart–and when you’re loving it because the plan is coming together–and in every moment between these 2 extremes–we need to allow God to hold on to us. When we are at our best–and especially when we are at our worst–we need to ask God to hold on to us.

God wants to–longs to–hold on to us in the most loving way possible. But He will not–until we allow Him. This is what I learned in this morning’s worship time–and it came through this song. Listen to the words–and when you are not “someone you believe in”–well just listen to the song!

Sometimes It’s A Tractor Pull

Life is sometimes like a tractor pull! No, really it is. It can be loud and dirty. But that wasn’t my thought just a few moments ago. I’m not an expert on tractor pulls but I know a bit about how they work. A souped-up tractor is connected with a sled that has a lot of weight. The weight is at the back of the sled. Then when the tractor starts moving that weight starts moving towards the tractor until that tractor can’t go forward anymore. When the weight is at the rear, the tractor can handle it–but as it moves closer to the tractor the resistance sets in and eventually it overcomes that powerful engine.

So, how is life like that? I’ll tell you! Last night I left Dad’s home and headed back to our home. I will not tell you the details–but there was a deep–call it a mix of pain and frustration–in my mind and heart. It had nothing to do with Dad’s situation. Remember, life still goes on! This morning as I spent my time with God in private worship, my mind started telling me there were a lot of things I needed to get done today. A couple of times I started to take my earbuds out in order to get the stuff done my mind was telling me I really needed to do.

Then I remembered yesterday’s thoughts about priorities. My mind was like a tractor pull. My mind was in a race to finish all the things I thought I need to get done. Had I chosen that course, the weight of that sled would moved closer and closer to me until I came to a grinding halt. But what I needed to do–and what I did–was to disconnect that sled of things I only thought I needed to do–and to take those moments and simply rest in God.

And how is it with you this morning? Is there a weight you are that is slowing you down from the most important part of your day? That weight, whatever it is, is getting closer and closer to you–and eventually it will catch up with you and you will not be able to move forward. The way to disconnect from that sled of weight is to stay focused on where God wants you to be–right next to His Heart! I think I made Satan really mad when I put aside what he wanted me to think what I should be doing–and stayed focused on what I really needed to be doing! Remember these words of Jesus found in Matthew 11, verses 28 and 29.

 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

The Message

The Journey Journal Day 24: Priorities

At the beginning of this Journey I wrote that I did not know exactly what would happen or where it would lead. I compared it to a class Syllabus that a college professor wouldn’t reveal until each lesson began. I realized this is true–but like most things in life–I didn’t know how true. And this morning a word settled itself into my gray matter.

That word is Priorities! It’s been there all along–it’s just this morning it came into clearer focus. From every Monday eveing until Wednesday evening, Dad has been my priority–as it should be. He has his routines that he wants–finds comfort even in them–and my role is NOT to do them for him, but to assist him. And along the way, other priorities still need my attention. For example, my Tuesday Night Facebook Live Bible Study. Though Dad doesn’t have an internet service provider, thanks to my Samsung phone I have a hotspot so that I can do my preparations between serving Dad.

And the rest of the week I still have other priorities. This Journey has pushed me into evaluating all of my priorities. In this time of year, one of my planned priorities had been deer hunting. Usually by now I’ve been hunting a dozen or more times. But this year I’ve only been 3 times. Two of those wouldn’t have happened but one of our grandsons, Hampton, came down to see us and go hunting. And as much as I miss sitting in a stand enjoying the solace and beauty of God’s amazing creation–it’s not high on my priority list right now.

Priorities do change. It’s the nature of this beast called life on the third rock from the Sun. Saturday, December 11, priorities changed for hundreds of people as that tornado swept across 6 states. They went from planning Christmas and New Year’s Day events to planning funerals and planning how to get through just another day. While before Christmas pictures show neatly wrapped gifts–symbolic of the daily life we want where everything is pretty and neat–life is more like after those presents are opened. Paper, gift bags, boxes, tissue paper, and glitter everywhere. A mess!

How we react and what we do with all those priorities will determine IF will we still be standing at the end of the day or not. This is why we need Jesus so much and why we should be calling out to The Holy Spirit to help us sort through the crumpled up wrapping paper to find what matters the most. Finding what matters the most causes the other “so-called” priorities to fall in place–or vanish all together. Trust God to help you in the aftermath–of both literal tornadoes and the other kinds of tornadoes that upends our life.

Count on God being with you every step of the way. You should and you can depend on God. This is one of the many lessons that Christmas tries to teach us. Be confident in Jesus even if–nay–even WHEN it seems that life is spinning out of our control. Remember–please remember–that the name of Christmas and the name of life every day it happens we need to remember is EMMANUEL–which means God is with us. If Jesus would enter THE world by means of a smelly, dirty stable–and He did–then He will step into our world to help us do the one thing that we can only do–take the next step. My next step–your next step–is determined by our priorities. Make your top priority the live completely surrendered into God’s Love, Grace, and Mercy. My prayers are for the survivor’s of this most recent tornado; and for those going through personal tornadoes.

The Journey Journal: Day 23–Breathing!

This morning I was made aware of another lesson from the Syllabus of The Holy Spirit in This Journey. Last night’s topic was Breathing. I arrived here around 6:30 p.m. with his weekly groceries, unpacked what I brought, then we spent the rest of the evening talking. When this Journey began I bought a monitor because Dad’s bedroom is on one end of the house and the bedroom we use is on the other. This away if he needed any help, we would hear him.

Last night I found myself waking up a few times and I would listen for the sound of Dad breathing. When I heard him breathe or snore, I would go back to sleep. I found it comforting just to hear him breathe. And that got me to thinking about that night of the Resurrection. The disciples we locked in with fear, when Jesus suddenly appeared. And in John chapter 20, verses 21 and 22 we read: “Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.”  Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” And I wondered, “I am listening for Dad’s breathing, but am I always listening for my Heavenly Dad’s breathing?” Ouch!

In times like these we need to hear the Breath Of God over us. He breathes on us with the very same words Jesus said back then: “Receive My Presence!” If your week is hectic–Receive His Presence into your ‘hecticness’. If your week is filled with stress–Receive His Presence into your ‘stressfulness’. If your week is filled with fear, dread, gloom, or any other toxic emtion–Receive His Presence into your ‘moments’. And if, especially IF, things are going good for you now–Receive His Presence!

Like I said, we always need to listen for God breathing over us. It does more than make a difference in how we live–it makes ALL the difference in how we live. His Presence calms us and fills us with peace.

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Being a pastor, I am often blessed to hear others tell wonderful stories of faith that have impacted their lives.  One such faith story comes from the time when I served the Weeden Heights congregation.  Jimmy and Elaine Springer were such faithful servants of God, and I considered myself to have received an extra blessing by becoming more than their pastor, but also their friend.  One day Elaine shared with me a simple but powerful image of why we all need a child-like faith.

It was during the Christmas season.  She and Jimmy had decorated their home to match the festive holiday season.  Among their many decorations was a Nativity Set, complete with all the characters and animals.  Elaine said she carefully arranged the scene so that each figurine’s face was looking outward.  This way, each person who looked at the scene could see the faces of Mary and Joseph, the Shepherds, and the Wise Men.  During a visit from their grandchildren, Elaine said she walked past the Nativity Scene and all the characters had been moved.  They formed a circle around the manger, and the baby, Jesus.

 Well, she carefully rearranged them back to their original state, only to discover sometime later to find them in a circle again—all in a circle around the manger and the baby, Jesus.  When she asked her granddaughter why she had rearranged them in a circle, the child’s reply is a classic and full of faith:  “So they can all see the baby Jesus.”  Needless to say, the words spoke to Elaine’s heart, and the truth was ever so clear.  The Nativity Scene was indeed correct—each person, each animal facing and focused on the Christ child.  Needless to say—the Nativity Scene remained that way, all characters in a circle that focused on Jesus.

 I had not thought much about that faith story until several years ago when Elaine called me with some sad news—her husband Jimmy, had suddenly and unexpected passed away.  She and the family wanted me to come and share a word of comfort and hope at Jimmy’s funeral.  When my own personal sense of shock and grief had subsided, I sat at my desk wondering what word could I share with this precious family and my good friends, that God could use to help bring comfort and begin the process of healing in their hearts.  I must confess, I struggled to find words that could be a means of grace for the Springer Family.  Then the Holy Spirit (probably exasperated with me that I wasn’t listening close enough) hit me like a 2 x 4—that special Christmas when a child reminded everyone, that this Christmas Season is really about one thing—Jesus.  And I remembered the words of Paul in Hebrews chapter 12—“Keep your eyes on Jesus!”  And as we all remembered that faith story at the funeral home chapel during that service, God’s Spirit moved in a wonderful way and that story became a means of grace for us all.

This time of year is truly a busy and sometimes stressful time.  Crowded streets and highways, parking lots that are full, huge shopping crowds, long lines, finding the perfect Christmas gifts; all this and more sometimes makes us forget what the Season is really all about.  So, if you are all stressed out, I have a word for you; that word is—STOP!  Take your eyes off the crowds and lines and sales, and circle up around Jesus and focus on Him!  Right now, or when you get home, go to that Nativity Scene in your family room, then move all those figurines into a circle around the hope and love that can only be found in Jesus.  And if someone asks, “Why are these figurines in a circle?  I can’t see their faces.”  Tell them, for God’s sake, tell them, “Look where they are looking—see the face of Jesus.”

When we hear the words of Paul to the early church: “And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.  We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.” we will then be able to say:    “Good, Lord!  It’s Monday!  What shall we do together this week?”

Let us pray:  Father, thank you for children, who remind us of what faith is really all about!  Wherever we are, whatever we do in this Holy Season, Holy Spirit, remind us about how the manger scene really looked—everyone focused on Jesus.  Help me keep my focus and when I see others who have lost their focus, use me in the gentleness of a child, as an example to them, just as Jesus is my example to run the race!  Amen!

The Journey Journal Day 18: Durable!

The Holy Spirit taught me another lesson in this week’s stay with Dad. The lesson He revealed to me is about Durable! Here’s how it happened. The bed and bedroom me, Debbie, and my son Matthew sleep in has a mattress that, well…it must have a steel plate in it! It doesn’t give a millimeter when you lay down on it. Needless to say, but I’ll say it anyway, it’s hard (see the pun?) to sleep on.

There’s another mattress in the middle bedroom that isn’t as hard. So I asked Dad if it would be OK if I switched mattresses. I was going to do it anyway, but out of respect for him, I first asked for permission rather than forgiveness. He granted me permission. So yesterday afternoon I begin the move. I decided to go ahead and wash the sheets and bedspread even though it hadn’t been used in a long time. That’s when I saw the next subject in The Spirit’s Syllabus.

I recognized the bedspread first. It was the one that was on my bed when I was growing up. I tried to figure out when Mother bought it. Let’s just say it’s over 50 years old. It doesn’t look brand new–but it doesn’t look over 50 years old, either. Removing that bedspread revealed the sheets and instantly I remembered those same sheets–again probably over 50 years old–and they didn’t look new, but they didn’t look over 50 years old, either. I was amazed and the word the Holy Spirit placed in my heart is this morning’s word: Durable!

They don’t make things like they use to! Ever heard that expression? The durability of that bedspread and sheets reminded me of the Durability of our orthodox faith. The faith that has been handed down generation after generation, century after century–has been through a lot of tests and life–but it has survived and endured for nearly 2,000 years. However, today there are those who want to change our Orthodox Faith. They want a faith that fits the times and their own reasoning. “Let’s rewrite the story!” they say.

But why? This new progressive theology that seems so appealing because it’s so new, will not last. It cannot last. It is not making the church stronger–it’s making it weaker. In just the few decades it’s been around, it has only produced chaos and leaves a wake of broken lives. It is leaving people bitter and angry–a far cry from the durability of our orthodox faith.

Nothing manufactured today is as durable as what was manufactured 50 years ago. Changing the Message may be appealing to your mind–but it does nothing to transform and sustain the heart and mind. The Holy Spirit just confirmed that The Orthodox Faith is Durable–and it doesn’t need to be changed to match the values of our culture. What is being called progressive–meaning moving in a forward direction–is really digressive.

I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you.

2 Timothy 1:5

Ripples

This morning as I sit here in my childhood home, I remembered another thing: throwing rocks in a pond. There was a pasture right behind our home. Sometimes my best friends and I would crawl through that fence because 200 yards away was a pond. No, we didn’t go skinny dipping. Cows frequented that pond. Sometimes we would throw sticks in the pond pretending they were warships and we would throw rocks at them trying to “sink” them. But sometimes we would sit there and throw rocks in it to watch the ripples.

Have you ever wondered about ripples? This morning I am–and it’s not about sinking battleships or watching the ripples reach the bank of that pond. I’m thinking about the effect that sin has had on my life–and the effect it has still when I mess up. The rock lands in the middle of the pond and sinks. But the ripples spread out until they reach the end. Sin is just like that. Think about the word SERP! It’s a serious disease that isn’t talked about in our culture–it’s more than a pandemic, it’s an epidemic. Don’t go to dictionary.com to look up that word and don’t go to WEBMD because you won’t find anything about it. Nonetheless, it’s real–very real–all too real!

I made it up! It’s an acronym for Spiritually Emotionally Relationally Physically. SERP is the effects that sin has on our lives when we allow it in our lives. Sin first affects us Spiritually. Sin denies us that connection with God. Sin gets in the way of the relationship God designed and wants with us. Then sin affects us Emotionally. Our emotional health declines because emotions take over and run wildly through our minds and hearts. Then sin affects us Relationally. Because we are not living within our design and purpose, it affects our relationships in a horrible way. Finally sin affects us Physically. It drains us of our energy, our strength, and at some point, it makes us physically sick.

SERP doesn’t go away and no medication–legal or otherwise–will stop the ripples as sin infects and affects our life. It sounds complicated–but the solution is simple. Bring our sin before God! Realize the negative impact it is having on every aspect of your life. Accept that it is what it is–SIN! Regret that you are living the SERP life. Then bring yourself and your sin before God. Admit you are a sinner and that Jesus is the only way to get rid of it. Then tell God that you regret it and that you want a different life–HIS Life–from that point forward. In church terms this is what confession and repentence are all about.

And this is what God will do when we admit our sin, accept we are powerless over sin, and desire a completely different life. “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” (1 John 1:9 NLT) Rewriting the definitions of sin won’t work. Believing in the latest faux science won’t help. Even trying to fix it yourself won’t even come close to ending those ripples. It requires Grace–God’s Grace–and our unconditional surrender to Him and what He says. It may be fun making ripples in a pond as a child–but when it comes to being healthy Spiritually Emotionally Relationally Spiritually–you gotta do what God says! And The Great Physician will heal us–every time!

The Monday Spirit Of Inconsistency

Many feelings can and will invade us on Monday mornings. Not only do they invade us, but they also Invite us to live with them. They pretend it’s only for a day–but they lock the door and won’t let us leave. If there was a single word to describe the plethora of those feelings that word would be Dread!

Dread is a blood-sucking leech that drains both the joy and purpose of life. But the thing about Dread is it has to be invited in–BY US! It is incapable of knocking down our doors; so it needs an in–like a door-to-door salesperson. One such tactic is our own inconsistency. Inconsistency is defined as the quality or condition of being inconsistent. Well, that’s not a lot of help! Let’s look at inconsistent. It’s defined as:

from dictionary.com

That’s better! Notice that it’s called an adjective. Remember that from your school days? An adjective is a modifier or describes nouns. Adjectives give a better description; a description with more details. Look at the first definition: “lacking in harmony between the different parts or elements; self-contradictory”. When we are Inconsistent in our attitudes, beliefs, convictions, or actions we lack the harmony that holds us in peace and joy as life happens–both the good and the bad. Without the harmony between our attitudes, beliefs, convictions, and actions, the resulting inconsistencies opens the door of our heart and mind to that demon called Dread. And Dread talks to us early Monday mornings, sometimes even Sunday evenings, telling us about all the miseries awaiting us on Monday.

Then the sly demon tells us it will be better on Tuesday. But it’s not. So Wednesday becomes Hump Day and Dread stays with us until Friday where he shouts Thank God It’s Friday! And for a couple of days, well, at least until Sunday evening, we feel better. But the vicious cycle starts all over again. So, how do we kick Dread in the seat of his pants out of our mind and heart, to reclaim the peace and joy of another week?

Remember! It’s just that simple–though not always so easy. Remember that God is with you! (Remember we are in the season where the word Immanuel became a living, breathing human like us!) Remember that God loves you. Remember that God takes ordinary tasks, duties, and jobs and transforms them into a deeper purpose–to teach us and others about The Good News Of The Kingdom Of God! Living within God’s designs for our lives on a CONSISTENT basis helps us to live every day without Dread!

When we know that God Is With Us, then we can say: “Good! Lord, it’s Monday! What shall we do together?”

Saturday Fairy Tales: The Walking Stick

Once upon a time, there was a man named Henry. Henry loved to walk through the hills near his home. Some of the paths were treacherous, and several times he nearly lost his balance. One day as he was walking along, a limb had broken off and was blocking his path. He reached and picked it up and had an epiphany. “This would make the perfect Walking Stick!” thought Henry. So he took it home, and with a little work in his workshop, he had the perfect Walking Stick.

It was about 6 and a half feet long and was very sturdy. This Walking Stick became his companion on every walk. One day as he was climbing one of those treacherous hills he started to slip, but his Walking Stick steadied him. “What good fortune happened to me that I have this Walking Stick!”, said Henry. On another walk, a snake was in his path. With the end of his Walking Stick, he flipped that snake out of his path. “What good fortune happened to me that I have this Walking Stick!”, said Henry. Later that week a coyote started towards him. He thought about his Walking Stick, and he started swinging it like a sword, and the coyote ran away in fear. “What good fortune happened to me that I have this Walking Stick!”, said Henry.

Henry became quite confident with his Walking Stick’s power and in his skills in using it. He found more and more uses for his Walking Stick. He often said to himself, “What good fortune happened to me that I have this Walking Stick!” But one afternoon, as he was walking with his powerful Walking Stick, a bear came charging at him. Nothing he did with his Walking Stick deterred that bear. And the Walking Stick in which he placed so much confidence, was unable to save him from that bear! The End!

The Moral Of The Story

Though Henry was very confident about his Walking Stick and in his ability to use it–it wasn’t enough for every situation he faced. Every day people have confidence in things and their abilities to use them to successfully navigate life. But those things are incapable of always helping us. Only a relationship with Jesus Christ can help us navigate life and conquer those problems that threaten our peace and our life.

The Journey Journal, Day 11: The Power Of Remembering!

This morning is a good morning to share my Journey Journal with you. From Monday evening until yesterday evening I was at Dad’s home to assist him in any way he needs or will allow me to do. Thanks to your prayers, physically and emotionally he is doing better. And on to what I’ve learned in this stay. His home is the one I grew up in from age 6 to 18. There are some memories here–powerful memories that I took the time to take a stroll through.

Dad has never had a computer nor an internet provider. But thanks to my cell, I carry my internet connection wherever I am. Every Tuesday evening at 6:30 CDT I do a Facebook Live Bible Study. Tuesday night I did it from his living room. One of my memories of the living room was that we weren’t allowed to use that room except to practice piano lessons, when we had company, Thanksgiving, and at Christmas. I guess one could call it Sacred Space. What could be more sacred than diving into the Holy Writ! On the wall above the piano were several pictures–each with a powerful memory.

Sleeping arrangements now are different. As a kid the middle bedroom was mine and the back bedroom was my sister’s, Jacque. The middle bedroom is now where Dad has his treadmill. But the bookcase he made me is still there. On one of the shelves is what remains of my Bonanza playset I got one Christmas. I noticed other things that we still there, and powerful memories. So sleeping in my old bedroom was out of the question.

I slept in my sister’s bedroom–kept in her favorite color–pink. Powerful memories reminded me how much I missed her. The bedroom suite belonged to my maternal grandparents. In there were pictures of Mama and Papa. More powerful memories! And at the kitchen table, Dad would sometimes tell stories of growing up–sharing his memories of when Papa Burbank was a blacksmith–which he did up until he died. Papa Burbank was also a sharecropper, so the smithy work brought in a little extra income when it was needed. More powerful memories!

This trip down Memory Lane is a reminder to me–the first is never forget the value of taking a stroll down Memory Lane. Such strolls remind us of where we came from–and in my case–how blessed I am to have such a family heritage. The second is that I need to leave and keep creating good memories with my family. It’s a 2 plus hour drive from our home to Dad’s home–each way. This week’s trip was worth every mile and minute because I experienced powerful memories! Until next time. . .

What’s Broken? More Than You Realize!

Yesterday it happened again. This time it was in Oxford Chartered Township, Michigan. This time 3 students are dead, 1 teacher and 7 students were wounded, some seriously. Reports say it was done by a 9mm Sig Sauer with multiple clips purchased by the shooter’s father 4 days earlier. That isn’t accurate reporting–and the American people, and people around the world, deserve better reporting than this.

Yes, the shooter had the aforementioned 9 mm Sig Sauer–but it didn’t do the shooting. The thing about guns, any gun, is that they are incapable of doing anything by itself. Here are some quotes from this article in the aftermath of this tragedy–and it is a tragedy!

In a statement, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer described gun violence as a “public health crisis,” adding: “No one should be afraid to go to school, work, a house of worship, or even their own home. This is a time for us to come together and help children feel safe at school.”

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer

Politicians seem to think that if something is declared a “public health crisis” that people will rally together to put an end to it. But she has been misinformed–this is NOT a public health crisis. Hong Kong Flu; small pox; Ebola; salmonella; tuberculosis; cancer; heart disease; anthrax; COVID–now these are most definitely health crises. The problem is much deeper. Here’s another quote from the article:

“We must act to properly address gun violence in our schools and the ongoing threat of another unconscionable tragedy if we continue to only offer thoughts and prayers,” Ms. Nessel said. “Our kids deserve better.”

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel

She is both right and wrong–which makes her declaration false and invalid! She is absolutely correct in asserting that our kids deserve better. No doubt about this statement. But what she said before this nullifies and makes void her assertion that kids deserve better. The problem goes deeper.

And the Average Joe or Average Josephine will quickly pipe up and say, “The problem is we took the Bible and prayer out of our schools! That’s the problem!” Joe and Josephine, I am sorry, but I am here to inform you there is some bad news. You are now standing with Governor Whitmer and Attorney General Nessel. You are wrong also! The problem goes much deeper.

More laws and putting the Bible and prayer back in schools will not stop tragedies such as this from happening again. Thinking like this is like putting a Scooby Doo band aid after your brachial artery has been cut. The bleeding will continue until death arrives. As I mentioned several times, our problem goes much deeper that social or even religious band aids. But not beyond the abilities and willingness of Jesus.

What we have here is a twisted perspective that is blind to the critical social, political, and moral problems that is akin to a 9.0 earthquake on the Richter Scale. People and leaders are treating symptoms rather than causes. And any doctor worth his or her weight in salt knows that there are medical issues where treating the symptoms does nothing to cure the disease. And here is where we are! The issues are complex–beyond most folks abilities to comprehend, much less resolve.

Doctors who define the disease without offering cures are worthless. Though the issues are complex, the “treatments” are not so complex–but it will be an uphill battle. Here are some things I offer for your considerations:

  • Read the Bible at home! Make it a priority at home and you won’t need the teachers to read it to the kids.
  • Pray together as a family! Those prayers are more effective and powerful than any prayer said out loud a school.
  • Have no less than one meal a day where all the family is together. No electronic devices allowed during meal time.
  • Establish clear boundaries for what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Whining and throwing a hissy fit because they didn’t get what they want is UNACCEPTABLE behavior.
  • Be consistent with your punishments. Don’t over-react, but don’t under react.
  • Teach that there are always consequences for their choices and their reactions. We can’t control others but we can control our reactions.
  • Let them know life isn’t fair–but it can be good if you so desire.
  • Respect others, especially older adults and those in authority.
  • Nobody owes you anything! ‘Nuff said!
  • Hard work and determination are virtues and will help you achieve worthwhile goals and will give you both inner peace and outer contentment.
  • Life doesn’t owe you anything! You owe life–to help others succeed and to be kind.
  • Putting down other people only makes you lower than the ones you talk about.
  • To care more than to be cared for is the recipe for a successful life.
  • Don’t be your kids’ friend! They have friends! What they need are parents who act like parents. If they call you “mean”, remember that it will mean more for their development in the long run. You do not exist to be loved by your kids. Your purpose is to do everything you can, even the hard things, so that your kids won’t be mentioned in the evening news!
  • Model all these virtues before your kids. They are virtues because they will encourage and build up their hearts more than anything else.

How long before the Whitmers and Nessels of the world realize that our current path JUST AIN’T WORKING! Coddling and excusing bad choices are what led us to what happened yesterday in Michigan. Laws didn’t prevent it from happening. More laws won’t prevent another tragedy from happening. The real PROBLEM goes deeper, much deeper. Treating the symptoms will only lead us into more problems. The solutions are deeper, much deeper!