WHAT IS YOUR TELL?

So, what is YOUR tell? In the game of Texas Hold Em’ Poker, there’s this thing called The Tell. Well, at least that’s what I hear because I don’t play it; well, except occasionally on an app on my phone. They say that the best poker players don’t have a Tell. That’s how they become the best players. They will wear sunshades, put their hand over their mouth–all to try to hide their personal Tell. Oh, you don’t know what The Tell is? A Tell is something that a person does to unknowingly indicate the strength of their hand or what one of their future actions might be. Notice the last part of that definition: what one of their future actions might be.

Forget Texas Hold Em’ for a moment and zero in on that last part. While the best poker players try to hide their Tell, in real-day-in-day-out life there is an indication of what our future actions might–or probably–will be. And while we might be able to hide our Tell it will eventually come out. Everyone has a Tell. And just like in poker, over time it is revealed in our eyes, our faces, our voices–and these come from within our heart. And they are a good indication of what our next action will be.

Think about those first disciples after that Unique Pentecost Celebration. You know, the one when the promised Holy Spirit arrived to live in them (See Acts chapter 2). It wasn’t long before they were arrested by the Sanhedrin. And the charge? Healing a man in the name of Jesus and teaching the Good News of The Kingdom of God. And standing before this austere group, their Tell was obvious. Listen to what these “leaders” said about them:

13 The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus. 14 But since they could see the man who had been healed standing right there among them, there was nothing the council could say.

(Acts chapter 4 verses 13 and 14 from the New Living Translation; emphasis mine)

Now, back to my opening question: What Is Your Tell? It is THE indication of your future actions–and what you will do in the next moment. Right now, I talking to just those who claim to be Christians. Does your world recognize that you have been with Jesus? While poker players do all sorts of things to hide their Tell, don’t you dare hide your tell. Remember what Jesus said:

14 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”

Matthew chapter 5, verses 14 thru 16, from The New Living Translation

Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to HIM!

LET’S ALL GET CONFORMED!

There’s definitely this movement (more like bowel movement) to get the masses to conform to the prevailing winds of philosophies, ideologies, and beliefs. And the thing is this (bowel) movement promises love, joy, and peace–IF we would only conform to their way of seeing and thinking. It’s all about conformity. Has anyone out there ever read George Orwell’s fictional book (it’s looking more like a prophetic book) 1984? Those who resist conformity are considered to be mean, narrow-minded, and phobic. Will conformity really solve the complex problems in our society?

Not hardly! When I was in high school we didn’t have classes on computers, but we did have Typing! In our school, it was a fight to get to the electric typewriters rather than the manual ones; and we only had a few. My point? Oh, yeah! On typewriters, and computer keyboards, you have this thing called “home keys”. It’s where the 4 fingers of each hand are to be before you start typing–it’s the same 4 keys, always! Now, this morning I am going to do an experiment and ignore where the “home keys” are and type the next sentence. Now, here’s the results:

Yjr wiovl gpc ki,[rf pbrt yjr ;sxu npe ;sxu ntpem fph.

Now, that’s really intelligible! That makes as much sense as this (bowel) movement towards conformity. Even in theological circles, the push to conform is rampant. Here’s the thing, though. Even God doesn’t want conformity. Jesus never offered nor promoted a process where we could all be conformed. To acquiesce to the prevailing winds of ideologies and beliefs goes contrary to God’s design and His desires. So, what is the alternative to being conformed? Here’s a thought:

For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

2 Corinthians chapter 3 verses 17 and 18 (New Living Translation)

The Greek word used for changed is metamorphoō and it means “to change into another form, to transform”! It’s where we get our word metamophosis. It’s both radical and unique! God doesn’t want us to be conformed so that we think alike, talk alike, and act alike. He wants us to be transformed–into the image of our Creator. And there’s no way for one single human person to show the glory of God! Now, the (bowel) movement towards conformity thinks so. But they are sooooo wrong! So, my friends, RESIST CONFORMITY! And let God be God! I am confident He knows what He is doing!

Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him! AND DON’T YOU DARE CONFORM!

IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE!

Here in Alabama, yesterday, Tuesday 24 May 2022, started out as an important day. It was the Primary Election Day. And I was a clerk at one of the local precincts. During the day, we discovered that another shooting had happened; this time at a school in Uvalde, Texas. And in The Blink Of An Eye, our hearts were broken for a community we had never heard of, until then. My mind and heart immediately started praying for the community. As of this writing the death toll stands at 19.

These were 19 people who were getting ready for the end of the school year. Most of which probably had wonderful plans for the summer break. It would be a time to catch their breath and enjoy life. Now–in The Blink Of An Eye–those wonderful plans quickly faded away. In The Blink Of An Eye, an entirely community has been forced to cope and find ways to deal with the chaos that must be flooding their minds and hearts. Vacations? Plans for playing with friends? Sleeping in? All these and much more are only a distant memory at best. All in The Blink Of An Eye.

And immediately the blame is being placed on an object. And no, this is not the time to talk about protecting the Second Amendment. In fact, it’s entirely inappropriate and callousness to the nth degree. It’s time to change the conversations and the narrative. The true narrative is EVIL! Objects are not evil–but become evil in the hands of people who are under the influence of evil. Folks! Here’s the hard, cold, reality: These are EVIL times and all because so many have turned a blind eye to what is evil. Minds and hearts must be awakened to this horrible reality. And we must address it and make the narrative about evil. Evil is an attiude, a heart, and spiritual force. Because it is spiritual, laws and such will not change it–CANNOT change it. This is a war that is first fought on our knees and then in our hearts.

Remember what Paul wrote in Romans chapter 12, verse 21–“Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.” Good, as defined by The Bible! The life of the young shooter will be analyzed and over-analyzed many times. But the core–the core of the problem will, more than likely, be unmentioned. The core is evil, and it’s time to speak into the true narrative. And what we speak next, will determine if evil wins or loses. I leave you with more words from Paul, found in Ephesians chapter 5, verses 11-16. And pay close and careful attention to the last line:

11 Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. 12 It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. 13 But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, 14 for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said, “Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” 15 So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. 16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.

(The New Living Translation)

AND IT’S CRAZY OUT THERE FOLKS! ABSOLUTELY CRAZY!

Warning: This is NOT about life in The Kingdom. But it is about life, and death, as it is right now. It may be offensive to some. You have been warned!

Yesterday I was reading some news online from back home when I came across this story, about some locals who were up for parole. In one situation, the inmate up for parole was convicted of manslaughter. His defense for shooting the man was “self-defense”. But get this–he shot the victim 6 times! 3 times in the chest. Twice in the back. And once in the victim’s hand. But–it was self-defense! And as crazy as this sounds, the jury bought hook, line, and sinker the charge of manslaughter, rather than second-degree murder. Three times in the chest, twice in the back–and for it to be manslaughter it means there was no malice aforethought. Geeze, Louise! What’s this world coming to?

I’ll tell you what it’s come to–the value of human life is, for all practical purposes, is worth very little! But then what should I expect when an unborn baby can be thrown away like yesterday’s garbage? The careless monster of callousness gathered steam January 23, 1973 when the Supreme Court determined that “Jane Roe” had the right, without government restrictions, to end the life of a baby. So, it only follows the path of least resistence that when the most vulnerable are considered worthless, it won’t be long until all forms of human life are considered worthless.

It appears to me that Darwin’s Theory of the Survival of the Fittest isn’t an explanation of the past–but a prophesy about the future. And that future is right now. The only human being that other human beings care about is themselves. Freud’s concept of ego and super-ego are tame when compared to the narcissism of many people today. Many want a paycheck but they don’t want the work that goes with earning it. The Zombie Apocalyse isn’t about a bunch of corpses walking around looking for brains to eat. It’s people who have their eyes and nose stuck in their cell phone and pad–checking how many likes and followers they can get. Talk about pompous–well never mind. I won’t use that word. To call them that is an insult to all proctologists everywhere.

Fortunately, I know a lot, I mean A LOT of great and kind people. And reading stories like the aforementioned only makes me appreciate them more. But folks, our culture is in real danger of self-destruction. Only God and His committed people can stem the tide of this disaster. And that’s the way it is, May 24, 2022!

OH, LORD! IT’S MONDAY! aND i’M STUCK!

This week’s episode of “Oh, Lord! It’s Monday!” is all about being STUCK! As an adjective it means “unable to move, or set in a particular positionplace, or way of thinking“. So, let’s use it as an adjective on this rainy Monday morning. So, have you ever been STUCK? Maybe it was in an elevator; or in a room; or in traffic; or maybe mud? I know about that last one. I was about 20 when I bought a new Datsun truck. It was my first brand new vehicle. About the same time I was introduced to riding dirt bikes.

Just about a mile from the house was LaGrange Mountain. It was filled with great riding trails. One day, I had this dumb idea. “I’ll take my truck instead of the dirt bike!” Bear in mind it was a 2, not 4, wheel drive. I knew there were some hills it wouldn’t conquer, but there were some other trails. So off I went with my dumb idea. About 4 miles in I came upon a mud hole. I stopped, looked at it, and decided which side of the mud hole I should traverse. I was wrong. And I was STUCK! To make matters worse, it was in the middle of the week, there wasn’t anyone else out here. As I was commiserating about my dumb decision and dreading walking out, I heard a dirt bike! God sent me someone!!! Hallelujah! God foresaw my poor, make that DUMB decision and prompted another person to decide to ride his dirt bike that day! He stopped, we talked, and then he went back to get his truck and I was UNSTUCK! Needless to say, I didn’t try that again!

More than vehicles, elevators, and doors–we can get STUCK! Maybe it’s that job you’re STUCK in. Maybe it’s that home you’re STUCK in. Maybe it’s that marriage you’re STUCK in. Maybe it’s that mindset you’re STUCK in. Maybe it’s that you’re STUCK spiritually. You can’t move and it seems that no amount of effort you put into being UNSTUCK, you’re STUCK there like my Datsun truck. And if on this particular Monday you are feeling STUCK, then God has sent you this edition, just like he sent me that man on a dirt bike. Are you ready to get UNSTUCK? Well, here’s your own personal dirt biker coming your way!

You CAN’T get UNSTUCK! How is that going to help you? I’ll be glad to tell you. Even though you DON’T what it takes to get UNSTUCK, God does! All you have to do–NEED to do–is quit trying and begin trusting. For STUCK people, God has a very specific promise and process. It’s found in Isaiah chapter 42, verses 18 and 19:

“Forget about what’s happened;
    don’t keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present.

I’m about to do something brand-new.”

From The Message

In the case of my dumb decision, I needed to forget about it. I couldn’t go back in time and change that decision. All I could do–all I could hope for–was to be alert to the sound of someone else heading my way. What you need to do–what you MUST do–is stop trying and begin trusting what God tells you. Don’t limit the way that God will get you UNSTUCK! It may not be instantaneous–and if it’s not–it will be a process. And in His Process, you will find that His Grace is all you need. Are you still STUCK? Wait! I hear someone coming! And He’s coming for you!

When we trust God to be there to help us get UNSTUCK, then we can say: Good! Lord It’s Monday! What shall we do together?

TAKING WHAT’S NOT MEANT FOR YOU!

IT’S NOT MEANT FOR YOU!

We love watching birds; and we don’t have to leave our home to watch them. We have bird feeders and we even scatter some seeds on the ground for them. We also have a suet feeder. Woodpeckers, Nuthatches, and few others love it, especially since we found this apple flavored one. And when it’s empty, Woody (one of the woodpeckers) let’s us know when it’s empty. Lately we’ve been going out in the morning to watch Woody, but the feeder has been empty. I know Woodpeckers are not nocturnal, but other critters are–such as Raccoons. And this morning Ricky Raccoon and I came face to face! So, today I will purchase a live trap, just for Ricky, hopefully catch him and relocate him far, far, away.

And what do birdfeeders, suet feeders, and Raccoons have to do with the Kingdom Life? Well, here goes! Often times, as human beings, we see things that are not meant for us–but still we go after them, just like Ricky. We see nothing wrong. We see no danger. Besides, it “tastes” good! So, that makes it OK! Right? Not hardly. That extramarital affair; using others to promote yourself; keeping that extra change the cashier gave you; wanting that new car because your neighbor just got a new car; leaving your server a measely 5% tip, especially on Sundays; putting your hope in political parties. These are just a very small sampling of things that are not meant for us. And hold on to your hat for the next line: Whether you are a Follower of Jesus or not, these kind of things are not meant for you–that is–if you really want to enjoy the gift of everyday life!

Wanting what’s not meant for us is where the trouble all started–in the Garden of Eden. Remember, it was Satan (who is also known as the father of all lies) who successfully convinced Adam and Eve that they could become their own gods. And the downward spiral began–and the joy of life disappeared! Our Creator, God, designed a way for us to enjoy life to the max! But sin–and sin is very, very real–takes it away from us. Just yesterday afternoon while working in our garden, I was reminded of the curse placed on Adam–that thorns and weeds would infest our gardens. Paul reminded the Thessalonians (and thus a warning to us) in First Thessalonians chapter 5, verses 19 through 22

Don’t suppress the Spirit, and don’t stifle those who have a word from the Master. On the other hand, don’t be gullible. Check out everything, and keep only what’s good. Throw out anything tainted with evil.

(from The Message)

And what determines what has been tainted with evil? The Bible, of course! As much as we may desire certain things; as much as we believe certain things are right though it contradicts the Bible–they were not meant for us. And when we get “caught” in that trap? Unlike Ricky who will have no choice but to relocate–we do have a choice.

On the other hand, if we admit our sins—simply come clean about them—he won’t let us down; he’ll be true to himself. He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing. 

1 John chapter 1 verse 9 from The Message

So quit going after what’s never been meant for you! And. . .Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him!

YOU’RE MY KIND OF PEOPLE!

Yesterday we made a new best friend. It all started on Wednesday. I didn’t set out that day to make a new best friend–but it just happened. Mmm. . .could that have arranged by God? Wednesday, Debbie and I set out on a 55 minite drive, at least that’s what Waze told us. I found on Facebook Marketplace a trailer for our new Trike. (By the way, I love the suggestions I’ve received for the name of our new Trike!) We arrived at our Destination and met Danny. We talked about the trailer, and then we just talked. He wanted to trade me out of my new Trike, but that ain’t happening. As we were getting ready to leave, Danny wanted pictures of Therapist. To make a long story short, after some messages back and forth, we agreed upon a price.

Like clockwork, Danny showed up yesterday morning. We talked about the bike a little while, signed some papers and he gave me the money. Then we talked some more. And some more. And some more. Danny mentioned he would love to ride the Natchez Trace from the beginning in Nashville, Tennessee all the way down to its end in Natchez, Mississippi. He mentioned he really didn’t have anyone to ride with, so I told him just call me when he’s ready! He said, “Oh, I will!” Then he said, “You know, y’all are my kind of people!” Through two transactions, we became friends. And here’s what this story has to do with The Kingdom Life.

What Kind Of People Am I? Ask yourself that question and really think about it. Are you the kind of person that others enjoy being around? Now, speaking for myself, everyone makes me happy. Some when I see them coming and others when I see them leaving. We have been through a horrible season of quarantine where human contact was, for all practical purposes, nil. Connecting with others is one of the many gifts God has given us through His Creation. Another question for you to ponder on this Friday: What does it take to be a “y’all are my kind of people” person? I believe the answer to this question is easy. And here it is:

But God told Samuel, “Looks aren’t everything. Don’t be impressed with his looks and stature. I’ve already eliminated him. God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart.”

1 Samuel chapter 16, verse 7 from The Message

Initially Danny and I had a business transaction; then a second business transaction. Then we became his kind of people. It was NOT the business that made us his kind of people. (I received more money from him than he received from me!) We found a connection first through motorcycles, and then through life. I hope and pray Danny saw a bit of my heart. I know I saw a bit of his heart. So don’t let what’s on the outside define your kind of people! And certainly don’t allow YOUR outside define you. Do what God told Samuel! Look at the heart. And if our heart is full of Jesus, the real Jesus–the person that people of all ages and stations of life wanted to be around–then you can become someone else’s “Y’all are my kind of people!”

Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him!

SAYING GOODBYE!

Later this morning I will say goodbye and see no more one of my best friends. I met her in July of 2003. The ink had barely dried on the divorce decree the first time I saw her. I don’t know what drew me to where she was. But I knew somehow she would help me through this dark night of the soul. She was absolutely beautiful and I longed for her. It took me a couple of weeks to build up the courage. I would visit her, and each time, I knew I had to have her! And finally, I pulled the trigger and put it all on the line! I made an offer and it was accepted. They took her off the show room floor. Showed me everything I needed to know, signed the papers and she was mine! Well, mine and Yamaha Credit.

And for nearly 19 years, she has been my joy and she indeed helped me sort a lot of things out back then. In fact, she helped me sort out a lot of things since those dark days. I even named her Therapist! But later this morning, she will no longer be mine. I will say my final goodbye, and probably get chocked up and shed a tear or two when she is driven away. And some may wonder why I would so casually get rid of Therapist. I mean, if she has helped me so much, why sell her? I could write some words to try and explain it, but as they say, “A picture is worth a thousand words!”

In all honesty, when I got this “her”, I really intended to keep Therapist! I really did! Just the thought of getting rid of Therapist–it would make me mad! No! I will keep her! But the thing is, I can’t ride two bikes at the same time, can I? No I can’t. So, today I say goodbye to the old, and be free to enjoy the new. By the way, I haven’t named her yet. Therapist 2 doesn’t sound right, so I’m open to your suggestions. And what does all this have to do with the Kingdom Life?

Instead of me answering my own question, I’ll let The Bible answer it for us. In Luke’s Gospel, chapter 16 and verse 13, Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other.” Trying to mix Jesus and the world is one of the major reasons there is so much chaos in the church, families, and our culture. Trying to hold on to Jesus and the world is akin to me trying to ride two bikes at the same time. It’s a recipe for disaster. Besides, even if I succeeded even once, switching back and forth will get me hurt bad–really bad! Peace, true and lasting inner peace–as well a enduring joy–comes only when we let go of the world and be devoted to Jesus and Jesus only!

Jesus and the world? It’s like trying to mix oil and water, gasoline and water, mixing a rotten egg with a good egg for a scrambled egg sandwich! So, just let go of the world, as I am doing with Therapist and enjoy the new life made possible through God’s Grace and our faith. Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him!

And as a footnote in biker culture, do you know why female bikers refer to their bike in the masculine gender and men refer to their bike in the feminine gender? A woman biker says, “Look now! Act right! You know you’re not the only bike out there. If you act up, I’ll just go get another one!” And the reason men refer to their bike in the feminine gender is because if you respect her (the bike), treat her right and take care of her, she will give you years of great joy. But if you misuse her or neglect her, she will hurt you and hurt you bad!

LOOK WHO’S TALKING!

Question for you this morning: Do we speak for the Bible or does the Bible speak for us? No, it’s not the same thing! Folks, believe this or not, it doesn’t matter one single iota! The church today has a serious problem–when it comes to the answer of this question. In my own Tribe, the United Methodist Tribe, the given answer by leadership is literally ripping us apart. But before you Baptists gloat over our split, look at the beam sticking out of your own eye. And this isn’t just a 21st Century problem. It’s plagued the history of The Body Of Christ. The disease is speaking for the Bible rather than the Bible speaking for us–and thus–to us!

It was even a problem back when Jesus walked this earth as one of us. The Pharisees and Sadducces saw their job was to speak for The Word Of God. They thought it was their job description–but it wasn’t. And today, it isn’t in anyone’s job description to speak for the Bible. In my own Tribe we have those who are doing just that. Speaking FOR the Bible means it’s up to us to determine what it means and how it applies to daily life! Mishegas! Oy vey, nosh, klutz! It’s pure schlock! Pure bupkis! I love Yiddish words and phrases. Here’s some examples of speaking for the Bible.

  • Torturing and killing anyone NOT a “christian”–by their definition
  • Judging others based solely on their race
  • Justification of slavery
  • Making women as second class citizens by saying they can’t do certain things
  • Jesus only died for certain people (predestination)
  • The blood of Jesus wipes away every sin and gives us all a new beginning–except when it comes to divorce
  • Jesus came to show us how to love, so this eliminates the long-standing sexual ethic, so it’s OK to be how you feel, sexually speaking

On that last example–Oy, Oy Vey, Oy Gevalt! It’s Dreck! Our Tribal leaders feel it is their job description (remember how Jesus felt about the Pharisees and Sadducces?) to tell the world that the tried and proven sexual ethic from the Bible is outdated. It takes an enlightened person, like them, to straighten out what the Bible got wrong. And if we don’t agree with them, then we’re mean, ugly, phobic, and hateful. What a bunch of schmucks!

JUST ADD ONE MORE THING!

Red Mountain Expressway, Birmingham, Alabama

Yesterday Debbie and I made a trip to Birmingham to see the surgeon who gave her a new knee last year. Debbie was having some pain in that knee and wanted to know it the new knee was still OK. The appointment was at 3:30 p.m. so we hoped we would get out of there before the afternoon work traffic. We didn’t, of course and it was–let’s say a challenge in both patience and hope–that we could even get on the Red Mountain Expressway. Getting onto the Expressway was difficult because of all the traffic. To make a long story short, we finally managed to get on it, and after several minutes, we were moving right along. And what does this have to do with The Kingdom Life? Glad you asked!

On the front porch this morning, thinking about yesterday afternoon, I remembered what is commonly called “The Story of the Rich Young Ruler” (see Matthew chapter 19). He was in a traffic jam of a different sort. He was trying to find real life. According to the Talmud there were 613 rules. Now that’s a lot of rules for one young man to follow. It’s worse than Expressway and Interstate work traffic! So, he came to Jesus trying to get out of his traffic jam with one statement and one question:

“All these things I have observed from my youth. What do I still lack?”

Matthew chapter 19 verse 20 from the World English Bible

You see, this young man thought there was one more thing he needed to add to his plate. Since the 613 rules weren’t giving him what he longed for, then there must be Rule Number 614. But instead of adding Rule Number 614, Jesus told him to let go of everything and follow Him. Jesus doesn’t want to be another thing added to your plate called life. He wants us to wipe the plate clean, and simply follow Him into the life our hearts long for and know it was created for. Not adding another thing–but get rid of everything! And how does this young, successful man respond?

That was the last thing the young man expected to hear. And so, crestfallen, he walked away. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and he couldn’t bear to let go.

Matthew chapter 19 verse 22 from The Message

Is you life like that congested Red Mountain Expressway in work traffic? Trying to squeeze in one more thing? Are you trying to fit Jesus into an already overcrowded life? How’s that working out for you? Why not do what Jesus said and scrape all that’s on your plate and allow Jesus to be that plate? Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to HIM!

HOW LONG?

On Saturday, a young man, filled with hate, thoughtlessly took the lives of 10 people and wounded 3 more in Buffalo, New York. Sunday, as people were enjoying a meal after worshipping God, a man walked in and thoughtlessly took one life and critically injured 4 more people. At a busy flea market in Houston. Texas, 5 young men had an “altercation” and the result was that 2 were dead and 3 were critically wounded. And these were not the only incidents this past weekend. So, I ask again: How long, o people of God?

  • How long will you choose to turn a blind eye to Satan’s rampant attacks and attack those who have been captured and seduced by Satan rather than fighting the spiritual war that is all around us?
  • How long will you choose to blame this, that, and the other rather than getting involved with the people in your communities by getting to know them? Love them?
  • How long will you cry out for Jesus to return rather than helping others see how much they need Jesus by seeing how much YOU need Jesus?
  • How long will you choose being “comfortable” at “your” church rather than finding ways to relate to the people around your “sacred” building?
  • How long will you choose to be culturally relevent rather than standing on God’s Word alone, even if you are laughed at?
  • How long will you be spiritually lethargic rather than seeking the power of the Holy Spirit to fight against Satan and his minions?
  • How long before you stop quoting 2 Chronicles 7:14 and start BEING a 2 Chronicles 7:14 people?
  • How long before you earnestly pray for a great awakening and revival in our land?

How long, o people of God, before you start doing these things, and much more? This morning my heart cries and is breaking for all the victims from this weekend, and every other day. I pray that yours is, too! But having our hearts broken and shedding the tears of grief and compassion is not enough. Never has been enough. Never will be enough. God is in the business of redemption–places, situations, cultures, people! His plan is to make this happen through His People! So, I ask you again: How long, o people of God? How long?

BUT I THOUGHT!

Welcome to another “Saturday Fair Tale”. Once upon a time there was a kingdom, and The King that ruled it was unique. Unlike the other kingdoms ruled by kings who did not care about his subjects, This King cared deeply for his citizens. Whenever one of His citizens had problems, and they would bring them to Him, He always helped them through whatever issue they were facing. He never turned away anyone.

The King wanted the very best life for His citizens. And to ensure their best life, He wrote laws and rules that were for the benefit of His citizens. Because He is The King, He wisely never asked the citizens for their input. You see, The King was very wise–wiser than anyone and everyone else. His laws and rules were not intended to deprive His citizens of joy and life. To the contrary, they were given to enable them to live the very best life. Now, one of His rules was no one could wear a Yellow Feather in their hats. And because The King was so very good, most did not question the rule.

But one day, a citizen by the name of Gray thought about the rule of no Yellow Feathers. Gray loved Yellow Feathers. He thought that the rule was rediculous. One day he said to himself, “I bet the Yellow Feather Rule was made a long time ago, and The King didn’t understand how some of us felt about Yellow Feathers. I feel like it’s OK to wear a Yellow Feather in my hat.” So, he did. It was obvious when he walked down the street that he was violating The King’s rule against Yellow Feathers. Soon others who liked Yellow Feathers saw his courage and decided they would wear Yellow Feathers.

Other citizens, who loved The King, began to question Gray about his decision to wear Yellow Feathers. Some would say, “Don’t you know that’s against The King’s rules?” And Gray would proudly say, “Oh, it’s OK! I feel like Yellow Feathers. It is how I was born!” And they would reply, “Don’t you know that one day The King is having an Accountability Day and He is going to judge everyone?” Accountability Day! If anyone was found to be living outside His Rules were to be forever banished from His Kingdom. Yes it was coming though no one knew when. But this didn’t bother Gray. He would always say, “Yes, but The King is good and loving. I love The King and I love His citizens. So, that’s all that matters. This, and how I feel.”

And then it happened! The King’s Trumpet blew and one by one, each citizen appeared before The King. Those who lived by The King’s carefully designed Rules, were welcomed and told they were no longer citizens, but His daughters and His sons. They instantly became princesses and princes. Amazingly, they became exactly like their King. But Gray noticed as he waited his turn, that some were being banished forever from The Kingdom. They started crying loudly as they were led away.

Gray became uneasy. He thought to himself, “I know I wore Yellow Feathers because that’s how I felt and I really loved them. I loved The King and His citizens, surely He won’t banish me!” When it became his moment to face The Accountability, he noticed The King looked sad. The King said, “Gray, you know I love you. I always have. But you chose to ignore my rule about The Yellow Feather. I know how you felt about Yellow Feathers. I know what you believed about Yellow Feathers. But you would not trust Me. Gray, I am sad to tell you, that you are forever banished!”

Gray wanted to argue with The King, but suddenly he realized that he was wrong. He pleaded with The King for another chance. He wanted to use all the reasons why he broke The Yellow Feather Rule, but the words just wouldn’t come. He felt guilty. And The King sadly replied, “Gray, you always had another chance before this moment. But Accountability Day ends another chance.” And as Gray was led away from The King, he knew The King was right. And to make Gray’s heart even sadder, and hurt even more, he heard the unmistakeable sound of Great Joy coming from within The King’s Palace. And Gray’s broken heart said to him: “If only I had trusted The King!”

THE END

HOW DO YOU MAKE YOUR DECISIONS?

Making decisions is the most important decision you can ever make! But to make more than good decisions–you need to make GREAT decisions. But to make a decision you need a source that will shape and form that decision. And it needs to be a tried, tested, and proven source; unchanged by time. An ever changing source leads, always leads, to poor choices. This scene from Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade bears it out.

For example, the Supreme Court of the United States. They are preparing to undo a flawed decision made 22 January 1973 with Roe v. Wade. The SCOTUS at that time ruled that abortion was a constitutionally guaranteed right. But there’s nothing in the U.S. Constitution that guarantees it. So, it is about to be overturned. Now, before my Fundamentalist friends declare that abortion is unconstitutional, that’s not what this Court is about to declare. Their decision, and a right one I might add, is that abortion is a state and legislative issue, not a constitutional issue. Bravo, SCOTUS, bravo! About time the Tenth Amendment is recognized. Enough about the SCOTUS.

Today’s culture wants to make decisions based on feelings and how they think. Forget the proven science–each decision is a matter of personal preferences and how one feels. If you feel a certain way, then you make your decisions based on that feeling or that thinking. Remember my earlier comment about having a source for making great decisions? That source needs to be anchored to an unchanging truth. Feelings are subject to change more than the weather. And about our way of “thinking”? Well, thinking is always influenced by information. Unfortunately many are using flawed and untruthful information. (Go back and watch that scene from the above and what happened to Walter Donnovan)

What about you? What is the source for your decisions? Anything that is tethered to human logic and thinking is flawed. Always flawed. Think about it. Have you ever bought something and when you got home and opened it up, you discovered that it didn’t work! Why do you think there are so many automobile repair shops?

What you need to make GREAT decisions is the most reliable and greatest source ever: The Bible! Not what people say about The Bible. But what the Bible really says. The Apostle Paul reminded young Timothy of this by writing in 2 Timothy, chapter 2, verses 16-17: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.”

And when (not IF) you can’t or don’t understand The Bible, God has an app for that! It was developed by James, the biologically half-brother of Jesus and the full brother of Jesus by faith. He wrote in James chapter 5, verses 5 and 6: If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask Him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Remember the words from William the Lion, Duke of Brittany in the movie The Last Crusade: Choose Wisely! And yes, the picture is of my Go-To Bible!

LIVING WITH NO TAIL LIGHTS!

Several weeks ago I had another one of those sleep cycles–better described as waking up before 4:00 a.m. I went to the fountain of life, otherwise known as a coffee pot, filled my cup, put on my headphones and begin my morning worship. I noticed a delivery truck going down the highway because it had no tail lights. The driver did have his flasher going, but only one tail light was working. I thought to myself, “Poor guy. At least he had enough sense to turn on that flasher even if only one light was working. Well, he will probably get it fixed later that morning.

Since that morning, I have had several more opportunities to be up that early, and would you believe he still hasn’t fixed that tail light? And then this morning I observed a car that was void of tail lights and didn’t have on their flashers! Not to be harsh on that driver, but perhaps no one told them they did not have tail lights. And someone needs to let them know before they cause a terrible wreck. Why all this mumbling about tail lights?

It’s a great analogy about how sin and forgiveness has been skewed in our culture. Take the delivery truck. Obviously he knew his tail lights weren’t working. But why, weeks later, hasn’t it been fixed? Perhaps he thinks all he needs to do is just keep that one tail light flashing and it will be enough. And today, people want to believe that if they can justify their sin of choice, then it’s all OK. But it’s not! Sin, like non-working tail lights needs to be dealt with in a decisive way. This means, “STOP IT!”

And the car without any tail lights? Someone needs to tell them. So many today are walking around impregnanted with sin–but no one warns them. And when we do, we are accused of being mean, hateful, ugly, and phobic. And as they go merrily down the highway of life in the dark, one day they will wreck and then it will be too late to change anything. So, what should we do? Keep on, in patient and loving ways, warn them–even if they hate us for it. They hated Jesus because He pointed out their sin of choice.

Sin in any life is a real and serious problem. But it’s a problem that has a simple solution. John wrote in 1 John chapter 1, verse 9: “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.” That word confess doesn’t mean, “Oh, OK, since you call it a sin, I will admit to it.” That word means to agree with! And when we agree that we have sin living in us, notice what God will do:he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” Ignoring sin or pretending sin isn’t a problem leads to disaster. But when we agree with our Heavenly Father that it is what HE says it is–well freedom and liberty happens!

Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him!

IT’S NOT RIGHT, UNLESS IT ENCROACHES ON WHAT I WANT!

U.S. Supreme Court Building

26 January 2021 people gathered in Washington D.C. in protest of the presidential election results. They were called thugs and insurrectionists. The left said that the U.S. Constitution was followed and that they had no right to be there. And now? Now that some Supreme Court Justice’s clerk released the draft of an upcoming opinion that would strike down Roe V. Wade? It seems that it’s OK to protest the result of our Constitutional processes. Not only that, but it seems to be OK that some weak weasel released the home addresses of Conservative Justices. And protestors have gathered outside those homes, and things are pretty ugly. But it’s apparently OK if it’s something that encroaches on what they want.

I remember what my favorite high school teacher, Ronald Pettus, once said in class: “Your rights end where your neighbor’s nose begins!” Abortion advocates ignore this basic principle of true freedom. It appears, thanks to that trouble-making weasel, that the Supreme Court is about to overturn Roe V. Wade. Roe V. Wade was a flawed decision from the very beginning. The right to privacy has nothing to do with the decision to end another life. Freedom of choice violates what Mr. Pettus told our class–no one has the constitutional nor basic human right to end the life of another–that baby’s nose is where the desire to end that child’s life ends.

And even now, the Washington D.C. police are making preparations for protests, even violent protests. But the Left thinks it is their “right” to be loud and in the faces of those justices and citizens who oppose this horrendous genocide. At least one Pro-Life office has been a victim of arson. The upcoming Supreme Court decision doesn’t effectively ban abortions–but recognizes that it’s a legislative issue–not a judicial issue. It would free states to enact legislation that would provide constitutional protection for children yet to be born. And this is a great thing.

And now, it appears that The Left is gearing up to threaten anyone who celebrates this upcoming decision! But they think it’s OK because it’s about their (twisted) beliefs. Can you spell hypocricy? Just when we think the U.S. is about to be flushed down the toilet, we see a ray of hope. And to my Pro-Life friends, don’t engage these idiots (hey, I’m 66 years old and I don’t have to be politically correct) in arguments or with violence. Remember, give an idiot enough rope and they will hang themselves. Just stand back, laugh a bit, and smile that The Idiots Of The Left will hang themselves.

One more thing, get ready and organized to contact your state legislatures to end The American Holocaust in your state! And be prepared to be maligned, rediculed, and hated. That’s OK with me–I’ll be defending the rights of unborn children.

OH, LORD! IT’S MONDAY! AND I’M NO DAVID!

Mondays tend to remind us of all the Goliaths that we will face this week. They stand taller than us and like that infamous Goliath from the Bible (see 1 Samuel chapter 17), they shout insults at us and tell us we can’t win. And though we should stand up to them as David did, we wrongly determine, “Hey! I’m no David!” And so, those Goliaths continue to intimidate you and the Monday Morning Spirit hangs over you. And you convince yourself that’s the way it will always be. But, what made David–well–David?

  1. He had confidence in God
  2. He saw the big picture
  3. He remember God’s faithfulness
  4. He was human

First, his confidence was in God, not in what logic or others said. To boost your confidence you can believe Philippians 4:13–I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. But it’s better to have the faith like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. In case you haven’t heard the story, here’s what they said–“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if He doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” (Daniel chapter 3 verses 17 &18, NLT, emphasis mine) We all need that even if He doesn’t kind of faith.

Second, he saw that this was a Kingdom of God issue, not a military problem. This was all about God’s reputation. It wasn’t about who had the biggest, strongest, and best warrior. It was about what will God do in the moment. David understood that it wasn’t Saul’s reputation or the army’s reputation that was at stake. It was about God, and God alone.

Third, he remembered all those other times God delivered him. David had a history with God. That history revealed both God’s strength and God’s faithfulness. Because of #1 he knew that God was able to take care of Goliath. Now, notice, I said that God is capable–not that it would happen–just that God was capable. But unless and until someone stood up to Goliath–the world would never see it.

Finally, David was human! He wasn’t Kal-El. What? Don’t you know the story of Superman? David was just as human and you and me! Did David never make a mistake after his victory over Goliath? He did–several of them. Don’t allow past mistakes (sins) nor the possibility of future mistakes (sins) keep you from facing your Goliaths in life. God does His best work in human vessels who know both their weaknesses AND God’s strength.

When you have confidence in God’s unfailing grace, and are willing to remain faithful to God even if not situations, then you can say: Good! Lord, it’s Monday! What shall we do together?

THE FAMILIAR

Normally The Familiar isn’t a good thing because it keeps us from experiencing the Adventures God has for us. It denies us the wide open spaces where we uncover and discover the greatness and faithfulness of our Heavenly Father. It hides and denies us the truth that we can do anything through Christ who strengthens us. The wide open spaces teaches us how to hold on to God in every situation and throughout all seasons.

But. . .but sometimes we need to go back to The Familiar–the good Familiar. I’m talking about those times and places where are reassured of God’s faithfulness to us–even when–especially when–we have been unfaithful. Or maybe it’s a season of doubt where we struggle to embrace our future. Even David, the mighty King and Warrior, needed to go back from time to time to The Familiar. Psalm 23 places were essential for David. Before he became a mighty warrior and long before he became the Mighty King, David was a shepherd. And when life as a Warrior or as a King became difficult, I can easily imagine David singing this Psalm to himself–maybe even out loud.

As a shepherd in the wide open spaces, David experienced the faithfulness and provisions of His Heavenly Father. Imagines of green pastures and still streams helped him remember the Faithfulness of God. I have my places where I am reminded of God’s faithfulness to me. Sometimes all I can do is go there in my mind. And sometimes I can literally visit those places. Each time I find myself renewed and refreshed, and enabled to go forward into “my” unknown future, but a future that is known to God–and a future where I know He is right there with me. What are The Familiar places for you? Places where God’s amazing love and grace overwhelmed you? The Familiar isn’t a place made to live in–but it is the place to visit where we find the reassurance we need when the Journey becomes difficult.

Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him!

BUT WHAT ABOUT SIN?

When anyone fails to recognize sin, they set themselves up for failure! More than just failure, but a life of misery. I know, I know! The topic of sin is considered taboo today. It’s also considered mean, hateful, and phobic to even mention sin. Yet, here I am using that word: SIN! SIN! SIN! If you’re still reading this, then I conclude that you either are contemplating my opening line is TRUE, or you know it to be true!

And when anyone in leadership fails to recognize sin, they set their entire organization up for failure! This is where my long-beloved Tribe, the United Methodist Church, is at. And because I am a United Methodist Clergy (and I might add, still faithful to my ordination vows, unlike many in my Tribe) I am qualified to speak into our current crisis; a crisis created by the failure to recognize sin. Our recent outgoing leader of the Council of Bishops, Cynthia Harvey (who took the same ordination vows I took, but has chosen to violate them) gave an interview with the Washington Times about the inevitable and impending separation in the United Methodist Church. (Click here to read the entire article) But want to speak into only one portion of her interview. Here it is, and I quote:

“We are the United Methodist Church right now and forever, a church confident in what God has done in Christ Jesus for all humankind, committed to personal and social salvation and transformation, a church that is courageous in dismantling the powers of racism, tribalism and colonialism.”

Bishop Cynthia Harvey

It’s that last line that is a burr in my saddle: a church that is courageous in dismantling the powers of racism, tribalism and colonialism.” But what about sin? Why shouldn’t our leadership be courageous in dismantling the power of sin? Alas, she only mentions 3 sins: racism, tribalism, and colonialism. Yes, racism is a sin. To draw conclusions about anyone based solely on their race–is SIN!

And she mentioned tribalism. I looked up the definition of that word and this is what I found: “the behavior and attitudes that stem from strong loyalty to one’s own tribe or social group.” I’m guessing, mind you, she’s talking about us Orthodox folks. But within the LBGTQI community, is where we see the strongest movement of tribalism. They not only want us to approve of their chosen sin, they want us to repent of even calling it a sin! Geez, Louise!

And then she mentions colonialism. Here’s the definition of colonialism: “the policy or practice of acquiring full or partial political control over another country, occupying it with settlers, and exploiting it economically.” I haven’t a clue what she means by this. I suspect, though, she’s talking about the new movement of Methodism reaching out to other countries to join in. Now, the only colonialism I see happening today is Russia and Islamic extremists.

Stopping these 3 sins will definitely improve the world stage, no doubt about it. But if we want to see The Kingdom Of God on earth, then we have to address and dismantle every form of sin! Anything less plays right into the strategy of Satan. And that’s the way it is, May 5, 2022!

BOOTS!

Blog

This morning The Spirit has me thinking about boots.  To be more specific, the first pair of boots I bought—and the several pairs thereafter.  I was looking primarily at the price point.  Oh, I saw all those others, but I was focused on the price.  That was my focus—forget how they looked.  And forget how they felt on my feet.  Then—then I discovered Ariats®.  The comfort and durability of those boots were amazing.  I could have bought 3 pair of those other boots for the price of that first pair.  Now I have 3 pairs of Ariats.

I have a “Sunday Go To Meeting” pair, an everyday pair, and a pair of hiking boots for those rare occasions when it’s a little cold here in Alabama.  Normally, I refuse to pay high prices for anything!  But we found a great source for boots (and clothes) on one of our semi-annual trips to Florida.  Between Montgomery and Troy, Alabama is a place called Sikes and Kohn.  This was where I discovered the comfort of Ariats® and at a price I could afford!

On our most recent return from Florida I told Debbie that I needed a new pair of everyday boots.  I’ve been wearing my everyday pair for over 7 years.  Though they were still comfortable—still I needed a new pair.  So we stopped.  As I was looking through the Ariats® I noticed another brand, Twisted X®.  A couple of our grandsons wear them, so I gave them a try.  Finding a style I liked (remember, I’m going after comfort AND style, not price), I walked up and down the aisle, and loved them.  So I paid the very reasonable price for them. (see the above picture!)  Now I have 2 brands of boots to choose from.  Sweet!

What does all my rambling about the price, style, and comfort of boots have to do with The Kingdom Life?  Simple!  So many today are seeking what Dietrich Bonhoeffer calls “cheap grace”.  Here’s a man who knows the difference between “cheap grace” and “real grace”.  Bonhoeffer was hanged April 9, 1945 in a Nazi concentration camp at Flossenbürg.  It wasn’t long after that the camp was liberated by Ally Forces.  Here’s what Bonhoeffer has to say about “cheap grace”.

“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

And we see so much of this today.  If I wanted to wear a pair of boots that was comfortable and in a style that looked good, then I had to give up the cheap bargain rack.  And if we want to experience the peace and power of Christ living in us, then we have to abandon the cheap bargain rack.  To be a “Christian”, or as I prefer to say, “a real disciple and follower of Jesus”, then we have to come to Jesus on His terms.  Cheap grace cheapens what Jesus did for us in His suffering and on that Cross.

Cheap grace, like cheap boots, may be affordable, but it fails to deliver the life our heart longs for, and the life Jesus died to provide for us sinners.  Remember, Bonhoeffer died not for cheap grace—but for real grace.  Yes, Jesus paid the full price for our sins.  But if we are going to follow Him and learn from HIM, then we have to also pay a price.  And it’s this:

23 Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way (that’s cheap grace), take up your cross DAILY, and follow me. 24 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. 

Luke chapter 9, verses 23 and 24 from the New Living Translation

So, love God with all your heart.  Love others the way Jesus loves you.  And make sure all the glory goes to Him!  And cheap grace does not bring Him glory!

MEANWHILE BACK AT DADDY’S

Just when you think you’ve gotten over the hump, real life happens! Yesterday morning Debbie and I headed back up to Daddy’s home. I had hoped that the worst of this grief thing was now behind me. It wasn’t. During the two plus hour drive up there, once again just like all the other trips, a heaviness began to come over me. And pulling up, it was just like all the other times. I felt like I was invading his home and plundering his things.

Daddy loved to make a garden, and when he wasn’t any longer able to make a garden he turned his attention to the plants and flowers. We were going to get some of those plants and flowers. Years ago Debbie and I shared some of ours with him and Mother. Now, some of them were going back to our home. And somehow, I feel guilty about digging them up. I made a new flower bed and that is where I will transplant them. And as I watch them grow and bloom, I’ll think about him. And this morning, I’m wondering and thinking, “As I look at them, will this pain grow deeper and will I ever get over it?”

Isn’t that absolutely rediculous to think that I will ever get “over it”? How many people have I ever told that grief isn’t something you get over–it’s something–a journey–that you get through. But never get over! And this morning I find myself wanting to “get over” something that isn’t made to “get over” but something to “get through”. I know that the only thing that is keeping me from totally falling apart is My Heavenly Daddy. In spite of me wanting to “get over” this, He is faithfully and persistently working in me to show and help me in this path of “getting through” my grief.

Today I will begin transplanting those plants that once brought Daddy such great joy. I hope I can watch them with that same joy that he had. Perhaps they will be a means of grace to help me stop wanting to “get over” my grief and enable me to be confident that I will “get through” this season. My verse from The Bible will be this:

 I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans chapter 15, verse 13 from The New Living Translation

May it be so Lord. May it be so!

oh, lord! it’s monday! who’s to blame?

Blame doesn’t care if it’s Monday or Saturday, for it robs us of the opportunities to be both responsible for our choices and to spiritually grow. When negative and/or painful things happen to us, the immediate response is almost always to find someone to blame! It’s our corrupted DNA. Eve did it in the garden, “The devil made me do it!” And Adam piped right in, “That woman YOU gave me, it’s HER fault!” Finding some “thing” or some “one” to blame relieves and releases us from any personal responsibility; or so we think.

Blame puts blinders on us in order to keep our focus on the blame and the ending results are disasterous! If someone truly is to blame for our pain, it creates anger and bitterness. Anger and bitterness causes us to become self-absorded. And on the outside chance that the blame is our own fault, it prevents us from learning from our mistakes. Failure to learn from those mistakes sends us into a deadly spiral of repeating those mistakes. But there is an alternative to this Monday Morning Attitude Of Self-Destruction.

If the blame lies with another person, then forgive them! What? Forgive them after what they did to me? Sure! When you are hurt and angry (the typical and usual results of blame) you’re not affecting that person at all. But you are infecting yourself with a Pandora’s Box of more and deeper problems. The person you are blaming isn’t losing a single moment of sleep over you. But I bet a dollar to a donut that YOU are losing sleep!

And if the blame lies with your choices, then learn from them! Don’t wallow like a hog in mud if you are to blame–it only results in self-pity. And this is never, ever a good thing. Take the time and effort to learn from your mistake. Figure out what you did wrong. Think about how you could have done right. Accepting responsibility for and learning from our bad choices serves to help us grow and mature–both mentally and spiritually.

In both scenarios make sure you invite God into your heart and especially your thinking. He will always help us sort through the debris and give us wisdom–whether the blame lies with someone else, or yourself! Wisdom rarely come through reading. But wisdom is always to be found in our daily “life as it happens”, be it a Monday or any other day of the week.

When we seek wisdom in the messes and pains of life from God, then we can say: Good! Lord, it’s Monday! What shall we do together?

AND GUESS WHAT HAPPENED THIS MORNING?

Before my thoughts spill out all over the Wacky World Web, take a moment and slowly read this passage. Just one time. Wait! Scratch that. Read it slowly 3 times.

22 Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.

Lamentations chapter 3, verses 22 and 23 from the New King James Version

Did you read this slowly 3 times? I think not! Go back and read it slowly 3 times. Now we can proceed. Back to my opening question: AND GUESS WHAT HAPPENED THIS MORNING? Now, write down your guess and we will see if you win today’s grand prize! Got you answer? Good. And the correct answer is There’s A Brand New Sunrise! It’s not like yesterday’s or last week’s or last year’s! It’s brand new! Now, let’s cut to the chase: Does this excite you about the potential for today? Or does it fill your mind and heart with fear, anxiety, and dread?

Now go back to the words from Jeremiah’s heart! Do you know when and why he wrote those words? Knowing what’s happening as the writers share their heart helps us see the power of their words! Jerusalem and Judea had just be invaded by their neighboring enemies, the Babylonians. The Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and looted and devastated The Temple. And the people who lived through the onslought are carried away into capativity as prisoners of war and slaves.

Yet, I said YET! Jeremiah sees the sunrise! “They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” What is the They? God’s mercies! If on this Saturday morning you feel like a prisoner of war, or something’s slave, listen to the hope from Jeremiah. With this newest sunrise, God has brand new mercies and They are new this morning. This is good news because what we think is the outcome of our messes, His Mercies provide a different outcome. As bad as it may seem sometimes, the problems will not consume you! All you have to do is give up! Give up everything inside of you and ask God for His Mercies! Then believe there is an abundance of Mercy all because of what Jesus did on the Cross for all of us.

It’s a new day, and it’s filled with Fresh Mercies! His mercy always delivers us! Always! Now go out there and love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him! Now, if you will excuse me, there are some new mercies on this Saturday for me. . .and for you!

WHERE DO YOU BELONG?

The longing to belong is one of the most basic human emotions! I know there are those we call hermits who cut themselve off from all human contact. They achieve this by building a stone wall around that desire to belong to keep it under control. But this does not negate that most basic desire: the longing to belong! So, let me ask you this morning, “Where do YOU belong?” The answer lies in our true identity. And this is where all the chaos and problems begin.

Some think their identity is found in who they want to have sex with. No, this Preacherman isn’t afraid to talk about sex. Others think their identity is found in those who think just like them. Still others think their identity is found with those who have the same fashion taste as they do. Still others think their identity is found with those who societal norms have declared they are the “in” group. Still others think their identity is found with those who have the same political views. Still others think their identity is found with those who like to do the things they like to do. Still others think. . .get my point?

But what if I told you that the longing to belong isn’t in any of these types of things? It’s the truth, whether you believe me or not. Remember that the longing to belong is the one of, if not the most basic human need. Where does it come from? Glad you asked! It comes from The One who created us–God! God the Father! God the Son! God the Holy Spirit! Why do I say this? Because of all that God created only one thing bears His Image–and that’s us Human Beings! Not the trees, not the skies, not the stars, not the fish or any other critter. It’s Us Human Beings!

And why is this truth so important? (And it is very IMPORTANT!) God created us for intimate friendship and fellowship with Him and all the other Image Bearers! But with the introduction of sin (thanks, Adam and Eve!), that friendship and fellowship was broken. But don’t despair! God did something about that sin. He didn’t change His mind about sin! Au contraire, my friend. In fact, He showed us how damaging and destructive Sin is when His Son, Jesus, died on that Roman Cross. And through our faith in His act of grace filled love, the disease of sin is taken out of us!

And we BELONG to God, Our Creator, Father, Savior, and Sustainer! Now some want to say that it’s love–love is what makes us holy! Whoa! Wait a second buckeroo! It isn’t love that makes us holy. It’s Holiness that makes us Love! And holiness is clearly defined by the Bible, not the so-called experts on the Bible. Holiness is more that what we do and don’t do. Holiness is the life long transformation back into our original image. And don’t think for a nano-second that means you have to give up your individuality. God doesn’t use a cookie cutter–that’s what Churchians and Tenured Pew Sitters do.

No, God made you uniquely YOU! Within this human form there’s no way any one of us can fully express God’s Glorious Image! So God gives His Image Bearers (at conception, I might add!) each a uniquely personal way to reveal His Glory. But if we let other things tell us where we belong–well–we just end up angy, bitter, and hateful. More than this, we end up empty. So don’t worry if others tell you that you don’t belong! After all, they didn’t create you. You belong to God who is working to bring HIS glory out in you!

Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him!

And I leave you with this song:

JUST ONE MORE SUNSET AND THEN BACK TO THE REAL WORLD!

We have just one more sunset and then it’s back to the real world. Debbie and I left Easter Sunday afternoon for our semi-annual retreat to visit family and friends near Bartow, Florida. I drove all night to get here because Debbie’s recent foot surgery prevented her from driving. But it’s been worth the drive just to be here and relax. Yes, Virginia, you can go to Florida without going to a beach. We’ve spend priceless time with family and friends we’ve made down here. We’ve also eaten a lot–I mean —A LOT! And since I’m not retired (yet), we will head back to Alabama early tomorrow morning. Today’s topic is the need for–call it–Vacation!

I’m not talking about having to be here at 10:00 and at 12:00 be there. I’m not talking about running to see this, that, and the other. And I’m certainly not talking about having to be entertained or keeping the kids entertained. This kind of trip isn’t a vacation. It’s work, HARD work! I mean, have you ever said when you got home, “Boy, I need a vacation to get over the vacation!” If you get home tired and worn out, you’ve been working! No, it’s about vacation!

Ever looked, I mean really looked at this word VACATION? And when you hear it, does your credit cards tremble at how expensive it is? There’s a word inside VACATION that most folks can’t seem to see or recognize. If you, the reader, can’t see it–then I’ll tell you. The word is VACATE! And here is what it means:

I love definition number 3: to render inoperative; deprive of validity! When was the last time you deprived validity to the pressures and stresses of life? Have you ever made those forces of every day life inoperative? Well, you should! My ESPN just kicked in; someone is thinking, “But the kids! They will be miserable!” What’s your problem? Have you never said NO to them? Well, maybe you should. Definitely you should. When they are young is the time to teach them the importance of self-care and how not to be pushed and driven by the stresses and pressures of life. And if they get bored, it will be an opportunity for them to engage their creativity instead of being locked in being entertained. And for them to learn how to be creative, you have to deprive them of their electonic devices.

I know I sound like an old curmudgeon, but there is an invaluable truth for you. Being stressed and staying stressed out isn’t healthy for anyone–physically, emotionally, nor spiritually. We need to render inoperative those things that threaten our safety and wholeness. Think about all those Hebrews who had just been released from a life of slavery. Then they get to the Red Sea and look behind them and there’s the Egytian Army coming after them. Fear swept over them. Fear was both operative in their thinking and that thinking validated the fear. So what does Moses say?

But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”

Exodus chapter 14, verses 13 and 14 from the New Living Translation

Picture this: an army behind them intent on bringing them back into slavery and a sea in front of with with no bridge to cross or ferries to carry them to the other side. And God is telling them Just Be Calm! In other words, vacate those thoughts for a moment. Make them inoperative. And invalidate any influence they are having over you right now! OK, I’m getting a little lengthly this morning so let me get to the point. God holds the Army at bay, then parts the sea in front of them. They make it safely to the other side, and God releases the Army and they try the same thing they just did. But there was a different outcome: the waters closed back together and they never had to face them again!

Regularly vacate for a season what is in front and behind you. Make that authority inoperative and invalid in your life. You can do this weekly by withdrawing from everything,, and focus on God who is at work in your life. But also make sure you vacate instead of vacation at least once or twice a year. Debbie and I do it three times a year. And after we arrive back at home tomorrow evening–we will be refreshed and renewed. And it’s all because we have invalidated the normal routines for a season. And now we can get right back in the saddle with a new zeal and strength!

Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him!

PS: I won’t be writing tomorrow morning, but I’ll be back!

RIPPING APART AT THE SEEMS!

The fabric of our culture is being ripped apart at the seems. And please don’t call the Grammar Police that I have used the wrong word. It’s the correct word. I wrote what I meant and I meant what I wrote. SEEMS! Here in the good ol’ U.S. of A. the fabric of our society is being ripped to shreads at the seems. I came upon this thought through remembering a certain passage from The Bible. In fact, it’s been roaming around in my gray matter for several days. Here is is:

There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.

Proverbs chapter 14 verse 12 from the New Living Translation

Some might think it’s amazing that a book as old as Proverbs can be so relevant to these times. But it’s not really amazing to me. These books of The Bible continue to be both timeless and timely. But let’s get back to those seems. Consider this:

  • It seems right to the LBGTQI culture that if society just accepted them, they would be happy.
  • It seems right to the gay community that if they could just get married like any heterosexual couple they would be happy.
  • It seems right to the project manager since their assistant is so capable to let them do all the work and they take all the credit.
  • It seems right that since that other person is so good looking, that a night in the sack is OK.
  • It seems right that if they child shows up for the games they should get a participation trophy.
  • It seems right that since they have a college degree they should start at the top.
  • It seems right that since that drug helps take away their stress they should reach for it.
  • It seems right that since a child would impede their lifestyle and goals, an abortion is the right choice.
  • It seems right that the government should be responsible for us from craddle to grave.
  • It seems right that if someone doesn’t agree with you that they must then hate you.
  • It seems right ad nauseam…

Now before you Tenured Pew Sitters finish saying, “Amen! You tell them Preacherman!” Let’s look at our church culture.

  • It seems right that Jesus should just come back and take us good ones on to our reward, since this world will never change.
  • It seems right that if the church could just go back to the good old days, we could stop the hemorrhaging members and doors closing.
  • It seems right that if their church started catering to them, then all the problems would go away in their church.
  • It seems right the church’s sole job is to point out the sins of others.
  • It seems right that everyone in their church should dress a certain way, think a certain way, and believe a certain way.
  • It seems right that the church should only help those who deserve it.
  • It seems right that they should only sing the songs they like.
  • It seems right ad nauseam…

It seems that many, too many people, are living by the seems–and life is ripping apart at the seems. And then Proverbs Chapter 14 Verse 12 proves itself to be absolutely true. What seems to be true is proven false by life itself. And things begin to rip apart, at the seems. This is life without God–life without Jesus as BOTH Savior AND Lord. Contrary to the opinion of alleged experts, we are simply not qualified, and certainly not capable, of determining what is right and what is wrong.

But there is an alternative and it’s the only one who will keep our lives from falling apart at the seems. It’s really simple and easy–that is–if we can get over ourselves. We find it in another book of The Bible. It’s in Matthew chapter 11, verses 28 and 29:

28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

from the New Living Translation

The word yoke doesn’t refer to the kind worn by oxen and mules. It’s about the Teaching Of The Rabbi. Back then what Rabbis taught was called The Yoke. And if you think the teaching of Jesus is too hard and difficult (because He did say: Be holy as I Am holy), read these words again. But this time from a different Translation:

“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.”

from The Message

Be and become whom God made you to be and become, and NOT what seems right to you. You and our society will be and become something so much better. Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him!

OH, LORD! IT’S MONDAY! PUNISHMENT

Mondays are the punishment for what we did over the weekend! This is what Monday feels like for many of us on the third rock from the Sun. The feeling of being punished is both painful and it makes Monday seem like it’s an impassable situation. And it prevents us from seeing and experiencing the joy of life–the Joy that God wants us to have. This past weekend a conversation with a friend brought this to light for me.

My friend said, “I guess it’s God punishing me.” And to prove the Holy Spirit is still at work today, I replied, “No, it’s just the consequences of our stupid choices.” Yes, Jesus was punished for our screw-ups, a.k.a. SIN! But His Payment doesn’t negate this consequences of our choice to ignore The Truth. Every word spoken, every chosen attitude, and every action has consequences. Newton’s Third Law of Motion applies not only to physics–but to our spiritual life. In case you forgot it, Newton’s Third Law states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Sin has it’s own consequences, always! Though God’s Grace releases us from the punishment of sin, the consequences is a whole other matter. But rather than bemoan and wail about those consequences, why not do something different? And just what would that be? Glad you asked. We call it “learning”! For example, say there’s a hot iron skillet on the stove. You grab it by the handle and discover just how hot it is. So, what do you do? Try the same thing again? Or, would you take a pot holder and remove that hot cast iron skillet? Makes more sense to use a pot holder. Am I right? Why would you do that? Because you learned, the hard way, that not using that pot holder brings you pain.

So, what if we see the Monday Morning Attitude not as a punishment, but as a learning time? One benefit would be to make better choices in life. If we know some choice is going to end up making us feel miserable, then we learn “Don’t do that again!” Unfortunately, we often don’t have what it takes to avoid those poor decisions. This is where The Gospel comes into play. God offers to help us–SUCCESSFULLY HELP US–make the right choices. Even the apostle Paul struggled. In Romans chapter 7 he wrote about wanting to do good, but didn’t. He didn’t want to do wrong, but he did anyway. At the end of his soliloquy he discovers The Good News (verses 24 and 25)–“Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?  Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.” Throught the Holy Spirit we are given the knowledge, wisdom, and power to make the right choices and thus avoid sin with all its consequences.

When we accept the fact we are sinners and embrace the Presence and Power of The Holy Spirit in all our decisions, then we can say: Good! Lord, it’s Monday! What shall we do together?