Wherever You Are, There You Are!

Sunrise at Millsite Lake, Bartow, Florida

Nope, I didn’t write anything yesterday. Seems like I said something about that before our semiannual sabbatical. In fact, yesterday I played a round of golf. And no, I am not ready for the Seniors Tour. I did hit a couple of good drives; and I made one birdie. Enough to make me want to play again. But I was thinking this morning.

I’m in a different location–different county–different state–doing different from the usual things–and a different time zone. But do you know what hasn’t changed?

  • The sun still rises
  • The sun still sets
  • The moon still shines
  • The breeze still blows
  • Nature continues to show her awesome beauty
  • And God is still faithful to me; not just me–but also to you!

As a small child, I never thought about spending Christmas Eve away from our house–because Santa might miss bringing me my toys. This is a small analogy to make–but God always knows where we are. Even if we think–NAY–even if we BELIEVED AND ARE TOTALLY CONVINCED THAT GOD CAN’T FIND US–yet He is always there with us. This Truth doesn’t depend on how we feel. This truth depends on God–and He is faithful.

Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens;
    your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.

Psalm 36:5 (NLT)

Just remember–wherever you are, there you are. And so is your Heavenly Father! Amen and Amen!

When And Where

When the routine changes, remember that God’s love, grace, mercy and purpose for you never changes.

Rate this:

Here I am, Day 2 of our semi-annual sabbatical at Millsite Lake. And the eleven and a half hour drive has already proven to be well worth the sacrifice. As good as it is right now, it’s only going to get better. Now, just a few words about where we are–physically, mentally, and spiritually.

  1. First, I rested very well. Rest is important for us–they human body, mind, and spirit are not made for 24 hour operations.
  2. Second, my routine changed. Normally I’m up before 4:30 a.m. But this morning it was nearly 6:00 a.m. before I woke up. I poured my morning Cup from the Fountain of Life (that’s also known as coffee), went on the back deck, turned on my music, and worshiped my Lord and Savior. Though the place was difference, the result and response \in my heart didn’t change. Amazing! God is still with me even though I’m not at home. Astonishing, isn’t it!
  3. I don’t yet know what we will do–but that’s OK. It seems so often that my daily agenda is driven by things to do and places I know I need to be. Today, no agenda but to experience and appreciate what God has in store for me.

When the routine changes, remember that God’s love, grace, mercy and purpose for you never changes. Now, if you will excuse me–I’m going back to the back deck.

When It’s Dark

Depending on the current time you are reading this–we may or may not have arrived at our destination. But we’re closer than we were at 4:00 p.m. Central Daylight Savings Time. I’m not frustrated we’re not there yet–I’m just confident, through God’s Grace, that we will get there!

Rate this:

When this post appears, it’s dark outside for us. Truthfully, I can’t tell you exactly where we are–because I don’t know. Thanks to this marvelous thing called “Schedule your post”, I can share my thoughts even though I’m not sitting at my desk. Debbie and I left Sunday afternoon for our semi-annual sabbatical visit family at Lake Millsite near Bartow, Florida.

When this post appears, it’s still dark–but I’m not worried. You see, I have some things going for me. One thing is our headlights. I never have to worry about seeing the road. Another thing is I know where we are going. We’ve been there enough times, so we don’t need a roadmap (for you old folks) or even a GPS. The route is known to us. We know where the gas stations are; and where the Rest Areas are. Finally, I’m not alone–my gift from God, Debbie, is with me. She’s probably asleep right now–but that’s OK. She’s with me, and that’s good enough.

Now, let’s do an application of this little story. When darkness tries to overwhelm you, even make you afraid, or seem to be lost, remember that Jesus Is The Light. Remember Psalm 119: 105–“Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” When it’s dark, go to the Word that became flesh!

Second, remember your destination. Your destination is more than heaven. Your destination is to become exactly like Jesus, the image you were created in. And for this remember 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.” Every day so far, God has been at work in you. And even when it seems so dark outside, God is still at work!

Finally, remember you are not alone! Allow me to rephrase this: You Are Never Alone! He’s closer to you than Debbie is to me right now in the passenger seat. Jesus had something to say about Being with us in Matthew 28:20–“And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Depending on the current time you are reading this–we may or may not have arrived at our destination. But we’re closer than we were at 4:00 p.m. Central Daylight Savings Time. I’m not frustrated we’re not there yet–I’m just confident, through God’s Grace, that we will get there!

P.S. Since this is a sabbatical, I may not be posting every day. But then again I might. We’re recharging our batteries. So if I don’t post tomorrow, remember:

Did You Just See That?

He’s offering me His Presence. And with that presence, I find everything I need for anything!

Rate this:

Oh, wow! Did you see that? Oh, my–there’s another one. Wait! Another one! Goodness, gracious–there’s another one! And another! There’s another one! And Another! Another One! Man, they just keep coming–one right after the other! I’m telling you! There’s more of them than you can shake a stick at! What? I just had a vision that some of you are shaking your head at me, wondering if I need some special medication; wondering if I’ve gone off the deep end. Well, I haven’t–because in the time it took me to write these words, I saw many more. What is it I’m seeing so many of this morning? Actually, I’m only seeing one at a time. Let’s call them MOMENTS!

During my habitual time of listening to Christian Music to start my morning, I confess I was distracted–again. Instead of simply praising God in worship–I was thinking. Thinking about what to write this morning. Sometimes my words just flow out–most times I have to seek and seek hard on what to write. This morning was one of those latter times. As the music was playing in my earbuds, I was trying to find an idea for this morning. It was then, above my own thoughts, I heard the Spirit say, “Listen to that song, please!” Truthfully? He had been trying to get my attention the whole time–but I was lost in my thoughts.

Well, I listened and the song was “Keep Me In The Moment” by Jeremy Camp. And it was at the line in the refrain I heard ever so clear which said: “Keep me in the moment, I don’t want to miss what You have for me.” I knew what I was missing, so I sat my thoughts down, put them in the corner and told them not to move until I was ready for them to move. And as I lost myself in that Moment of worship, it was then I saw them–one at a time. Moments where God is present and offering me so much–much more than I deserve. He’s offering me His Presence. And with that presence, I find everything I need for anything!

Whatever you are facing in This Moment–remember that God is also present. Whatever the battle you face in This Moment, God is there waiting for you to put Him in the game. He will fight for you–and He’s a great fighter. He’s never lost a battle. Don’t let another Moment pass you by where you fail to see The Faithful Presence of your Heavenly Father. Every Moment He is with you. Remember these words of David who at first thought he found a Moment where God was not with him:

Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit?
    to be out of your sight?
If I climb to the sky, you’re there!
    If I go underground, you’re there!
If I flew on morning’s wings
    to the far western horizon,
You’d find me in a minute—
    you’re already there waiting!
Then I said to myself, “Oh, he even sees me in the dark!
    At night I’m immersed in the light!”
It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you;
    night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you.

Psalm 139:7-12 (The Message)

And to help you see This Moment, here’s the song from Jeremy Camp:

If A Frog Had Wings

The IF that you may long for will not, cannot give you the kind of life we are created to experience.

Rate this:

If a frog had wings he wouldn’t bump his butt every time he hopped. This is one of the many facts in scientific law. Wish as the frog may, he has no wings–so each time he moves as he is designed to move, he bumps his butt. But (pun intended) still he hops, even though wings sure would help soften the landing. What does all this have to do with the Kingdom Life?

How many people today are living with their own IF? And because they are living with that IF, they feel that hard landing of the frog. They look around and see others who seem to be having much easier life than they are. They think to themselves, and often out loud, “You know, IF I had been born to different parents. IF I had their money. IF I had married that person, or NOT married the person I did. IF life had treated me fairly–then I would be as happy as a frog with wings.”

And they go through life sad, disillusioned, defeated, and miserable. IF you think about it, IF is a tragic way to live. Still, they are like that frog who wishes he had wings as he moves about his day doing what frogs do. While it’s true that a frog with wings would not bump his butt every time he hopped–it’s equally true that he wasn’t designed with wings.

And some people have that IF when it comes to God. That somehow God isn’t all He claims to be. That God isn’t fair with them. That God doesn’t care. That God has forgotten them.

  • IF God is real, why is there such a mess out there?
  • IF God cares, why did my spouse leave me?
  • IF God loves me, why did my child die?
  • IF God will provide for me, why did I lose my job?
  • IF God is all powerful, why am I having to take chemotherapy today?
  • IF God _________________(insert your own IF here)

But the problem with this thinking is it focuses on what we don’t have–rather than what we do have. The IF that you may long for will not, cannot give you the kind of life we are created to experience. It is true that while money cannot buy you happiness, it will buy you a place on the beach–and the beach is a better place to be unhappy. But it will not satisfy your heart.

There is a better way to live than like the frog who wishes he had wings. It is living within the relationship where God keeps every promise He ever made for you. God didn’t promise an easy life–but He provides an unshakable life. He provides the life that isn’t shaped by circumstances–but by His Truth and Faithfulness to us. How can I confidently say this? Because all of us are created in God’s Image. We just need to trust–to hang in there even IF everything inside of us screams to let go of God. I leave you this morning with these words of Paul–words that strengthen us for a life better than a frog with wings:

For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory.

2 Corinthians 1:20 (NLT)

Sighs Of The Times

It would be better for me, and my world, if I prayed instead of SIGHING!

Rate this:

Not a misprint–I said SIGHS of the time. I hear of lot of sighs around me. And for some time now–I’ve been SIGHING a lot.

  • I sigh when I hear people say we don’t need to talk about racism–though nearly every day I hear a racist statement or two or three or four…
  • I sigh when I hear people say that anyone younger than them “ain’t got a clue” about life–though they never try to teach…
  • I sigh when I hear people whine and complain that they are not getting their fair share of life–though they are unwilling to apply themselves to the challenges of life…
  • I sigh…when I hear employers complain they can’t find decent employees–though they regularly reject applications of people they think won’t fit in…
  • I sigh when I hear church folks wonder why people don’t come to their church, after all, they are a friendly church–though they take neither the time nor the effort to get to know others…
  • I sigh when I hear people complaining about the government–though they keep putting career politicians back in office…
  • I sigh when I hear people say that Democrats are the answer to our problems–though they have helped create those problems…
  • I sigh when I hear people say that Republicans are the answer to our problems–though they have helped create those problems…
  • I sigh when I hear people complain about the culture–and that’s all they do: COMPLAIN
  • I sigh when I hear people speak hate about other people today because of what other people did 175 years ago–as it they were the cause of poor decisions…
  • I sigh when I hear when folks point out the sins of others–why they ignore their own sin…
  • I sigh when I hear the researchers throwing out their fake science that is ruining so many lives–and vainly believe they are helping…
  • I sigh when I hear self-identified Christians say they want Jesus to come back right how–not thinking about all those who will not be ready for His Appearing…
  • I sigh when I hear me confess my sin–knowing I had the power of The Holy Spirit to successfully resist…
  • I sigh when I hear hate and anger catapulted at those who wear the badge–and don’t seem to care they are human beings who want nothing but to help others and keep us all safe…
  • I sigh when I hear nothing but silence–when it comes to the Truth of God and His Word…

What makes YOU sigh today? I could go on and on and on; and on some more about what makes me SIGH. But I am hit–and hit hard–by the Holy Spirit this morning. He asked me: “Randy, can you kindly tell me what all your SIGHING has accomplished? I mean other than made you feel sad, even an unhealthy bit of despair? After all, any amount of despair ain’t heathy for you.” So, I let that thought sink in a little bit. I refrained from that knee jerk reaction of: “I’m justified in this because that’s the way it is!” As His question marinated in my heart and mind, I finally answered Him: “It would be better for me, and my world, if I prayed instead of SIGHING!” And I could swear that I heard The Spirit say, “Mm-hmm.” Instead of SIGHING today, I’ll pray today, tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day, and the next, and the next… Will you join me in giving up SIGHING and replace it with PRAYING?

Spending Our Way Into Oblivion!

News Flash! The U.S. Government is needing to buy new Intaglio Presses because their current supply is wearing out. . .and wearing out fast! As of 5:11 a.m. Central Daylight Savings Time, the U.S. National Debt is $28,430,725,597,463 and it’s growing. We have problems, serious problems in our nation; and it seems whether one is a Democrat or a Republican, the answer is SPEND SPEND SPEND AND SPEND SOME MORE! I have it from an unnamed source that the Treasury Department has had to install additional air conditioner units in order to keep their existing Intaglio Presses from overheating.

Both on the surface and through deep inspection, I am convinced that our leadership believes that all of our problems can be solved through the Intaglio Press. “Let’s just print more money to spend, and we can fix all of the problems!” And now at 5:19 a.m. Central Daylight Savings Time, the National Debt is now $28,430,747,205,478 and still rising. And I am left wondering, “If money can fix all of our problems, why ain’t they fixed yet?”

Call me Simple Simon, but I just don’t think nor believe that money is the answer to the problems facing our nation. Yet, this is the path that not only our government is pursuing, but countless lives are walking down. It is that proverbial primrose path that Shakespeare warned about in his epic play “Hamlet”. Hamlet’s sister Ophelia tried to warn him to do what is right–but Hamlet chose what appeared to be a path filled with fragrant flowers leading to great pleasure. Instead, it led to his own destruction. Was Shakespeare a prophet? Seems so.

If money isn’t the answer, what is the answer? We are facing complex issues and even more complex problems–as a nation and as individuals. Simplistic solutions will not work. But a Simple Solution will work. And it doesn’t start with the government nor Democrats nor Republicans nor Big Corporations nor even with a nation as a whole. It begins with a very small (compared to the total population) group. Would you like to know the process to end this madness?

Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.

2 Chronicles 7:14 (NLT)

We’ve all seen this passage, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic began last year. But it’s not been applied correctly. There is a formula and process involved. Here’s how it works:

  • If my people who are called by my name: not nations, people! Not Americans or Asians or Russians or Chinese. God’s People–people who have aligned themselves with God’s Rule over their life, and those who call themselves Christians.
  • Will humble themselves: Stop thinking you are better than someone else. Stop believing you are right and they are wrong. Stop relying on your own intellect and abilities. Neither are much to write home about.
  • And pray: God said PRAY not BLAME! I hear a lot of BLAME PRAYING today; and that’s just plain LAME! Go back to the second step–be concerned and focused on yourself!
  • And seek my face: Not your image of God’s face–but God’s true face. Lay aside your preconceived notions about God and simply allow God to BE GOD!
  • And turn from THEIR wicked ways: We’ve asked God to turn the Democrats around. We’ve asked God to turn the Republicans around. That ain’t working. Go back to Step One. It’s not the wicked ways of this nation, but our own failure to deal with the sin inside us. Until we Followers of Jesus deal with our problems, our nation’s problems cannot be resolved! If we, God’s people fail in this step, our nation will continue to fail!
  • I will hear from heaven: This step is simple: Put our confidence in God. He says He is listening. We know He is good. Now really trust Him.
  • And will forgive their sins: Not the sins of a nation–but the sins of people who claim to be followers of Jesus.
  • And will restore their land! But we never arrive here, until we follow the complete process.

Spending more isn’t going to restore our land. Let’s spend more time on allowing God to restore us His People, then our land will be restored. And at 5:54 a.m. Central Daylight Savings Time our National Debt is $28,430,759,856,803 and rising.

The Lost Art Of Listening

(My son doing Last Watch for Sgt. Nick Risner)

This past Saturday was a difficult day for so many in the Shoals area. It was the funeral for Sgt. Nick Risner of the Sheffield Police Department. I knew Matthew was very involved in preparations, so I waited until late that evening to call and check on him. My call woke him up from his sleep, so I didn’t talk long. I just let him know I was thinking and praying for him. I ended the call and prayed.

Early Sunday morning he called me back. And he talked. . . about his week. And I listened to pain and great tiredness as he described in clear details his week. . .and that Saturday. It must have been about 15 to 20 minutes. I didn’t try to “fix” him, I just listened. That listening helped me to pray–and the two churches I serve to pray for all those who were hurting.

And this morning, sitting on the front porch, listening to my music, I realized how important it is that we Listen. And I started thinking about how that so many do NOT want to Listen–they would rather talk–NAY–they want to SHOUT! It seems, at least to me, that the vast majority of people have lost The Art Of Listening. We live in a society and culture where more value is placed on talking and less value is placed on Listening.

Listening is more difficult to do that talking. Heck, you don’t even have to think to talk! In politics, in community, and unfortunately, even in church–we have forgotten the value and importance of Listening. Now, there are some who Listen–but they Listen for the wrong purpose. Their purpose is to fix the person talking. Think about that last statement for a moment–to fix. You do know that when you fix a pet, you are making them impotent and unable to reproduce?

My friends, I desire and pray that none of you forget the value of Listening! You don’t have to go to college to learn the Art Of Listening. I believe, with all my heart, that the Art Of Listening begins with the Heart Of Caring. Let’s stop talking at each other. Let’s stop shouting at each other. Let’s stop thinking that our opinions are so vital and important that we must get them across at any cost. Let’s stop trying to fix (making impotent) people around us.

Of all the useless dribble I learned decades ago at Emory, there is one lesson I have never forgot. The class was on Christian Care and Counseling. I can’t remember the instructor’s name, but I do remember what he did–he was a chaplain at Emory University Hospital. Amazing how we remember what someone does for others even when we can’t remember their name. Anyhow, what he said was this: “Never under estimate the power of your presence. You do not have to give them good answers–if they know you care enough to be there to listen. There is something powerful in the ministry of just being there.” Care enough to Listen!

WHAT IS TODAY?

I think every day would be better than the one before.

Rate this:

What is today? Looking at the calendar the answer would be Columbus Day. It’s also Indigenous People Day. It seems that almost every day on the calendar it’s some day focused on something or someone. There’s Donut Day, Pizza Day, Ice Cream Day, Pet Day, Daughter’s Day, Son’s Day, Frisbee Day, No Socks Day, and the beat goes on.

Today’s reflections are short and to the point. We are a culture driven by calendars. But what if instead we were driven by just one thought? What would that thought be? How would we dedicate that day to just one thought? Well…it depends on the thought. And here’s my thought: What if we dedicated and declared every day to be Psalm 118 Verse 24 Day?

This is the day the Lord has made.
We will rejoice and be glad in it.

New Living Translation

What would our culture look like if we did this every day? Call me crazy, I think every day would be better than the one before.

The Prejudice Problem

Prejudice is that conscious decision to alienate others without ever knowing them.

Rate this:

The Prejudice Problem in our nation is greater in number of people who hold tightly to their prejudice than those who hold tightly to their Racist views. And yes, there is a difference between Prejudice and Racism. There, I said it and I do not take it back! But they do have something in common: They Are Wrong And Sinful Views To Hold!

Racism oozes and gushes out from Prejudice. But Prejudice? It has nothing to do with racism. And if you disagree with me on this point–it’s OK to disagree with me–but you’re still wrong. Look and analyze these two words. First, look at the word Racism. It obvious that it revolves around a person’s race. Right?

Now look at the word Prejudice. There’s nothing in that word that says anything about a person’s Race. Still think I’m wrong? Well, if you still think that, then YOU are still wrong. The word Prejudice comes from the Latin word “praejudicium” which is a combination of two words. The first is prae” which means in advance. The second is “judicium” which means judgement. Prejudice means to judge someone or something in advance of knowing all the facts.

Prejudice happens when conclusions are drawn about someone or a group of people without without really knowing anything about them. And this can happen regardless of the color of one’s skin or their nationality. Think of this word: Prejudge. If you were charged with a crime and appear in the courtroom only to find out that the jury and judge has already deemed you guilty before the trial begins, how would you feel? Or if you were a victim of a crime, and the jury and judge determined the accused was innocent before any evidence was presented, how would that make you feel?

Yet, people do the same thing to other people. They draw conclusions about them because of their economic status. Or they draw conclusions about them because of where they go to church. Or the community they live in. Or the style of their hair. Or the football team they support. Or the neighborhood they live in. Or which political party they support. Or which version of the Bible they read. Or their favorite color. Or on what others say about that person.

How about this “Or“: they Prejudge someone based on things that happened 2 centuries ago. Prejudice is holding tightly to opinions that have no basis in fact. Prejudice goes deeper than the color of one’s skin. Truth is, it has nothing to do with one’s skin color. The truth is Prejudice is forming opinions without facts to back up and justify that opinion of another person. Prejudice is that conscious decision to alienate others without ever knowing them.

Prejudice has led us to this culture that mistrusts and dislikes others. Prejudice leads to many horrible, ugly things. Racism is one of them. No doubt, Racism is both wrong and a problem. And so many are trying to eliminate Racism by treating it as The Problem. Racism is a symptom of The Problem–but it’s not the disease. And we know from the medical world that often times treating The Problem will not cure The Disease.

The Disease which has cast a dark shadow over the land is Prejudice. Until we treat The Disease, The Problem continues to grow like cancer. How about it people? Let’s stop Prejudging others before we even get to know them. Let’s stop Prejudging others on things that have nothing to do with the character of their heart and life. Let’s stop Prejudging others before we get to know them. Call me crazy (you won’t be the first or last to do so), I believe that we can weaken that demon called Racism if we would just stop thinking and acting out of Prejudice. Racism will happen because we live in a fallen world, and it has a ton of idiots. This isn’t an attempt to justify Racism; it’s just a fact. We will do more to improve this culture and world if we will stop engaging in praejudicium. But who knows, maybe we would eliminate Racism.