OVER TWO AND A HALF HOURS LATER!

Yesterday was the day we were coming home from our most recent sabbatical. Before we left Pigeon Forge, TN. we decided to do a little shopping. We visited several places and headed out. Then “our” plan was to stop by Dad’s home and pick up a couple of items. That was our plan–until we reached Chattanooga. Well, it was before we reached Chattanooga. It all started in Cleveland, TN.

What started? Traffic problems! It came to a complete halt! Debbie was driving at the time and I know she doesn’t like driving in the rain, especially in heavy traffic. So we exited off the Interstate and swapped driving responsibilities. Rather than get back on the non-moving interstate, we turned on our WAZE app, and headed in another direction. I left it up to the app to get us back to where we wanted. And it did! It didn’t take long until the Interstate traffic in Chattanooga to come to a complete halt. At times we were moving about 2 feet an hour (or so it seemed to us), the rest of the time the right foot was on the break pedal.

And what should have been a 30 to 40 minute drive time turned into over two and a half hours of alternating not moving at all to barely moving. It was daylight when we arrived in Chattanooga and it was dark when we left it all behind. Needless to say our side trip to Dad’s was cancelled and we headed for home. Today’s musings are about being still when we should have been moving forward challenging the posted speed limits.

All of this prompted me to remember Psalm 46 Verse 10 this morning. Really it was all over me in that two and a half hour mess. I experienced a calmness in the rain and slow when it was moving traffic. The Holy Spirit was all over me, around me, and best of all–IN me. Interstates are made for moving, not sitting. That’s the same view we have about life. But then something happens–and life comes to a dead stop.

When this happens we have options. We can fret, stew, and become agitated, honking endlessly the horn. And yes, there was a time in my life I would have done such a thing. Or–I said OR–we can live within Psalm 46 Verse 10. When it comes to Psalms, normally I don’t turn to Eugene Peterson’s work “The Message”. But this time, it spoke to me and into me. In the stillness of what should have been a fast moving Interstate, I was calm.

Debbie thought I had lost my mind when I started saying: “OK, all you trucks and cars! I believe in you! I believe you can start moving again! That’s it, just a little. Now push on a little bit faster!” Rather than cursing the long line of cars and trucks in front of me, I was encouraging them. Did it work? Sometimes, but I never stopped encouraging them to go forward. And here’s this morning’s important lesson for us.

When life brings us to a complete halt, Remember God! Far above traffic jams and pressing deadlines, there is God. And while our plans get changed, God’s plans for us never change. In those moments when your life comes to a complete halt–whether it’s an Interstate highway, at work, at home, or when you are all alone–remember Psalm 46 Verse 10“Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.” And everything means everything! Knowing God is difference between blowing fuses and being at peace.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Journey Journal: Day 23–Breathing!

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

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

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

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

The Journey Journal: Prepared For The Unknown

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

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

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

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

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

Scrambled Eggs

We’ve been gone on a Sabbatical, and I promised my readers that I would resume writing every day when we got home. We left Lake Millsite, Florida on Tuesday, going home by a “different” route. Soooo, in the immortal words made famous by Jack Nicholson:

Not in quaint and beautiful Mt. Vernon, Alabama. Right now I’m in Center Star, Alabama–in the home Dad had built about 59 years ago. Monday night, my son Matthew called and said they had to take Dad to the emergency room. His oxygen concentration was low. Turns out he was having a severe spell with his A-Fib and had caused his heart to have what is called RVR. (Click here to find out about RVR)

So Tuesday morning we packed up and headed to be with him in the hospital. The good news is they were able to restore normal heart rhythm. No more A-Fib or RVR. The bad news is that he has been diagnosed stenosis of the aortic valve in his heart. That’s when the flaps of the aortic valve become thick and stiff, or they fuse together. These problems cause the valve opening to become narrow. The narrowed valve reduces or blocks blood flow from the heart to the rest of the body. The normal size of an adult aortic valve is around 3.0 to 4.0 cm2. His is now 1 cm2.

Normally, the treatment is to replace the diseased valve, going through the femoral artery. However at 95 years old, he is not a candidate for the procedure. Bad news, right? Well. . .the Good News he is ready to go Home; you know, the Eternal Home where there’s no such thing as A-Fib, RVR, arthritis or any of these aches and pains we experience on this orb known as Earth. He has 2 daughters already there and his wife of 73 years. Best of all, he knows Jesus is there.

Our conversations in the hospital revolved around the best care for him now. We talked about Hospice, and agreed it was time. In case you didn’t know, Hospice isn’t just for when death is imminent. It’s also for cases where death is medically determined to be inevitable because there are no longer viable medical treatment options. So today, Thursday, the twenty-eighth day of October in the year 2021 of our Lord, he and we met all of those who will be involved in his care until the inevitable happens.

Great people! We met his social worker, hospice aide, RN, and his chaplain. I enjoyed meeting all of them, as did Dad! But it was something that his chaplain said that is provoking these thoughts tonight. Garry, that’s his name, said, and listen very carefully: Only God Can Unscramble Eggs. Isn’t this rich!!!

When you make scrambled eggs, the shells are broken–and you can’t put the shells back together–I mean, someone might could try like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. But it ain’t gonna be able to hold anything, much less those innards of the egg. Then the egg whites and the egg yellows are all mixed together–the whites are indistinguishable from the yellows–dear Lord, you can’t separate them back into just the egg whites and egg yellows again. It is impossible, I say, impossible!!!

We just can’t do it! But that is just a small thing for God to do. In fact, He is the only one who can unscramble eggs. And this is why The Holy Spirit used Garry’s words to say something important to me–something I needed to hear.

Right now we are walking through the Valley of the Shadow of death. Dad is still alive, and kicking–and in his own words–“just not very high.” But negotiating the rest of the journey through this Valley, well. . .we need a little help. You may remember back in August we made this journey when my sister died.

And the help we are receiving right now and the help that will be with us as we journey from one end of this Valley all the way to the other end–comes from the only One who can unscramble an egg. With that kind of skill–I reckon we will make it just fine.

RECALL ALERT!

Recall Alert! No, not your vehicle. Not some baby product. Not your C-Pap machine. Not the food in your pantry or freezer. Not your coffee maker. Not your hair dryer or curling iron or flat iron. Not some power tool. Not your washer, dryer, refrigerator, or freezer. It hasn’t been on the news, but it should be. Are you wondering what I’m writing about this morning? Well, let me first tell you a short story.

One Sunday morning at my previous appointment, I was talking with someone about something (I forgot what it was), but as I was talking, I forgot some key point of the story. The person I was talking with was Dr. Joe Cooney, a physiology professor. I told Joe, “Oh, man! I can’t remember! I’m losing my memory.” And in his usual calm manner, Joe told me, “No, you’re not loosing your memory. It’s up there. You’re having a RECALL problem.” God bless Joe! I wasn’t loosing my memory, and he’s spent his whole life understanding and teaching about the human body, including the brain!

Recalling that episode this early morning got me to thinking–about Recall! And what does Recall have to do with this thing called the Journey of Life? Sometimes I forget. Do you? It acts like memory loss–but it’s a Recall issue. As a matter of fact, life can be, scratch that, life IS difficult to say the very least. You don’t need this old preacher to remind you of this reality.

Problems at work. Problems at home. Problems with our health. Unexpected deaths. Failures. Divorce. Abandonment. Loss of job. Foreclosure. Depression. These are just a very few of the moments in life that will cause us to question–question the Only One who loves us and takes care of us no matter what happens. Or am I the only one who has ever questioned the faithfulness of God? Felt abandoned by God? Felt like He just doesn’t care? When those moments overwhelm us–we act, think, and feel like there are no memories of how faithful God has been to us. But He has been–we just need to Recall those memories of other overwhelming moment when no doubt, God was with us!

One of my favorite memories was in July of 1971. At a youth service the Holy Spirit moved in my heart and invited me into this relationship with Jesus. I fought so hard that I held on to the pew in front of me–and I said NO to God. Why is this a good recall for me? Because a year later, that same Holy Spirit spoke that same message to me–and this time I said YES!

In September 2003, another of my favorite memories happened. I was a total train wreck, and the darkness was strong in me because of my divorce. I had performed a wedding ceremony for a very good friend’s nephew. A friend called me that next week and told me I really impressed one of the wedding directors and that I really needed to call her for a date. Debbie became God’s Gift to me in my darkest times. And on November 13, 2020 we celebrated our 16th Wedding Anniversary.

It’s not easy–but if we stop focusing on what we have forgotten–and start to Recall, well–it just changes everything. We recover the Truth that God hasn’t abandoned us or forgotten us. Recall is a good thing–an excellent thing. May I suggest, as I did this morning–to Recall moments when God overwhelmed us with love, mercy and grace.

Don’t wait until the crucible heats up–every day Recall something that God has done for you. And if you are having a Recall Problem and can’t remember–then think about Jesus on that cruel Cross. Look at the Cross–and the Recall Problem is resolved!

This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

1 John 4:10 (NLT)

It Runs Good But It Doesn’t Have Brakes

With frequent regularity, I browse Facebook Market place. Sometimes I may be looking for something specific–or I may just look at an item because it grabs my attention. Such was the case this morning with the above picture. I have this identical 4-wheeler–same year and model. So I took at look.

Did you read the description?

  • Runs and drives good
  • No brakes
  • New axle
  • New rear end
  • New Tires

Did you catch the second item? I highlighted it for you just in case you missed it. No brakes! Being a seasoned 4-wheeler operator, I know for a fact that without brakes–though it may run and drive real good–you will still need to stop. You can stop without brakes–it just takes a while longer. Unless–you run into something. For me at least–to run and drive good, brakes are essential.

What does this have to do with the Kingdom Life? We need to stop at regular and often frequent intervals. Without stopping to rest (I mean, God worked 6 days and rested on the seventh) it puts us in serious jeopardy. Stopping helps us gain perspective–and will give us that moment to focus on God, rather than everything else. You need to come to a complete STOP! Not those rolling stops at stop signs. Do that in front of a police officer and you may get a ticket for NOT stopping.

Remember the words of David:

“Be still, and know that I am God!

    I will be honored by every nation.

    I will be honored throughout the world.”

Psalm 46:10 (NLT)

The best part of your day is when you stand still in the presence of God. This will enable you to know who He is (He’s God, that means you’re NOT), how much He loves you, and how He will guide and help you through whatever comes your way. Be still, just be still!

The Three Most Important Words. . .in times like these

(Picture at Fort Morgan Beach, Alabama)

The greatest generation ever was those who fought in World War II. I would like to think that my generation was the second greatest generation. Why? We spent more time outside than inside. We had sweat beads around our necks in the summer. We could turn the right stick into a Thompson sub-machine gun. We didn’t think much about stepping in cow manure. We drank water from the hose pipe. We jumped off of bridges into creeks. Best friends could have fights and after the fight, still be best friends.

We watched violent cartoons with Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Elmer Fudd, the Road Runner and Wile E Coyote, yet we never had the desire or even urge to to shoot someone or order bomb making materials from Acme. Oh! One more thing–we had the very best music! Country music was COUNTRY Music and rock-n-roll was ROCK-N-ROLL. One of our songs was “What The World Needs Now Is Love”, recorded by Jackie DeShannon in 1965.

And now it is 2021, and the question begs to be asked and answered: What Are The Three Most Important Words For Right Now? I have been listening, and have advanced to the level of Intermediate Noticer. Based on what is being said and shouted, here is my comprehensive yet incomplete list of what different people are thinking is the answer to the 3 most important words needed for these times. In no particular order they are:

  • We need Trump
  • We need Biden
  • Ban all guns
  • Need more guns
  • Prayer in schools
  • Bibles in schools
  • Close the borders
  • New American revolution
  • End foreign aid
  • Drain the swamp
  • More government aid
  • Congressional term limits
  • Less on defense
  • More on defense
  • Change your mind
  • Change YOUR mind
  • We need love
  • We need peace
  • We need hope
  • Have judicial reforms
  • No more racism
  • New political party (I must say this, “Really??? Aren’t political parties part of the problem??? And you want to add to the sewage?”)
  • We need kindness
  • We need determination
  • Deport all Republicans
  • Deport all Democrats
  • New moral values
  • Old moral values
  • Legalize more drugs
  • Government medical care
  • Defund Law Enforcement
  • Something, Anything, Everything

There are more to add to this list. Some “imagined” solutions are more complicated than three words. As if our world isn’t complicated enough. There are no simplistic solutions to the problems our culture and nation are facing. But. . .the solution is simple; just that simple. This list reflects groups of people–group mentalities. Group mentalities tend to produce complicated, complex, and irrelevant solutions. The answer–the simple but not simplistic answer–is found in three words:

I Need Help!

All of the fake solutions to our issues are focused on what others need to do–never on what the individual needs to SAY! To say “I NEED HELP” is to acknowledge that NOTHING–NO THING OUT THERE–can help heal our brokenness and help us navigate this total mess. If nothing OUT THERE (I refer you to the above list as being “out there”) that can help and heal us–then the answer must be UP THERE! I’m talking about the One Constant in an ever changing universe and culture–the Throne of God.

To end this madness, the place to begin is with the person in your mirror–that’s YOU! To say “I Need Help” is to admit the limitations created by sin and the Hope found only when we surrender completely and unconditionally to God. My best days happen when I begin the day, end the day, and admit every moment between beginning and ending, “I Need Help!” My worst days happen when I fail to say it. My mediocre days happen when I forget to say it throughout the day.

It’s simplistic to approach life saying that others need to change. Simplistic solutions have never worked. But solving this crisis is really simple. Admit your own need for God and trust God to both change and guide YOU–not “them”! Let your words be the words of the Psalmist:

I look up to the mountains—
    does my help come from there?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth!

He will not let you stumble;
    the one who watches over you will not slumber.
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
    never slumbers or sleeps.

The Lord himself watches over you!
    The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
The sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon at night.

The Lord keeps you from all harm
    and watches over your life.
The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
    both now and forever.

Psalm 121 (NLT)

Where Does Your Help Come From?

It seemed for a while that writing was a gift–a gift that I enjoyed. It began when I was selected to be Community Spiritual Director for an Emmaus community we were involved with. I started doing a weekly devotion for the Community. My sources of inspiration was seemingly unlimited. Nature, signs, conversations, and my best source of inspiration was our wonderfully unique grandchildren. I even started working on a book based on those devotions. It’s still unfinished.

I’m sure you’ve noticed I’ve been absent quit a lot from this blog. Can I be truthful with you? I lost my inspiration to write. I could blame it on the Pandemic–my routine was changed. I could blame it on the Republicans. I could blame it on the Democrats. I could blame it on the news media. I could blame any of a number of things and events. But that wouldn’t be truthful. Call me Harry S. Truman if you like, but the BUCK STOPS HERE!

God confronted me this morning with a painful truth. I would rather truth be pleasant, but sometimes, often times, The Truth is painful. Here’s how it happened. I’m a pacer; and when the weather is decent, I walk around the yard. This morning I decided to walk the perimeter of our place. I started on the east side, then the back side, as up the west side (not that much of a distance; probably took me 1 minute), I looked up and I saw a deer traversing our front yard and enter the woods and stopped. I stopped to watch it. Then another deer crossed our front yard. The first deer was watching me. It came within 20 yards of me.

And in that moment, I was mesmerized by God’s creation. For a fleeting moment I thought, “I wish it was deer gun season!” But that thought left me quickly. One creation of God was watching another creation of God. That’s when the Painful Truth hit me hard! My inspiration for writing has been here all along. I just wasn’t watching! Forgive me, Lord, for I am an unprofitable servant.

And I remembered Psalm 121–“I look up to the mountains—does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!” Please hear the plea of this unprofitable servant, don’t look at the headlines, look at the ONE who always sees us and patiently waits for us to see Him!

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

BEFORE I EVEN KNOW

Right now, the time is 4:22 a.m., I’m already on my second cup of coffee and I still don’t know the results of the Presidential Election. Did I wake up so early because I was so worried about who will be occupying the Oval Office? Not hardly! Yesterday an oral surgeon had to extract 3 teeth. When I was asked did I want a local anesthesia or be knocked out, I wisely opted for what they termed “the happy juice”. I slept all the way home and slept a lot with the aid of the lingering effects of that “happy juice” and a pain reliever. I’ve been sleeping like a baby!

And now the effects of the aforementioned miracle drugs worn off, I’m simply read to get up and get my day started. Yet even before my first cup of coffee I made a decision; a wise decision. I opened up my ®Spotify app and selected one of my playlists I named Holy Water because that is the first song.

I don’t need to know who will sit in the Oval Office for the next 4 years. I need the One who sits on The Eternal Throne. As this song boldly states:

God, I’m on my knees again

God, I’m begging please again

I need You

Oh, I need You

Walking down this desert road

Water for my thirsty soul

I need You

Oh, I need You.

Writers: Andrew Bergthold, Ed Cash, Franni Cash, Martin Cash, Scott Cash

I need the One Who Sits On The Eternal Throne not because of who will be sitting in the Oval Office, but because I really need HIM! This has nothing to do with Presidential Elections–it has everything to do with my own inclinations to lean into sin rather than Him. I need Him because His strength is the only source of power that will enable me to reflect Jesus. I need Him because He and He alone knows how to help me live the kind of life I’ve been created to live. I need Him because He loves me. I need Him because I love Him. And as I sit here at 4:46 a.m., I am filled with His peace and most of all His Hope for our world. I am all of this right now, and I don’t know who will sit in the Oval Office. And after I know the results? Nothing has changed. You see, I have Him, and HE holds me!

How Is Your Aim?

(Disclaimer: Some may find my analogy offensive, especially those who think hunting is barbaric. If I offend you, then get over it and move on.)

Where I live, there are only 2 seasons: Football and Deer Hunting. Any event has to be planned around these 2 seasons. When Debbie and I were setting our wedding date, I chose November 13 because The Crimson Tide had a bye week and the Deer Season for hunting with guns had not yet begun.

Well, around here Deer Season (hunting with guns) begins November 23 and I am getting ready for it. Food plot planted. Mineral spots established. Game camera in place. Supplies gathered. Hunting clothes and gear are out and ready to be worn and used. But I’m still not ready for November.

What’s left in my preparations? Glad you asked. I haven’t taken my rifles out to see if I need to make any adjustments to the scope. The only way I can do that is to put up a target, load the rifle, take aim and shoot. The mark on the target will tell me if I need to make adjustments.

Without knowing this important information, I may miss that deer; or even worse, I may only wound it and it runs off only to die somewhere else. What’s the spiritual lesson in this? Well. . . you asked for it.

Look carefully at Paul’s words to the Thessalonians:

11 Make it your aim to live a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to earn your own living, just as we told you before. 12 In this way you will win the respect of those who are not believers, and you will not have to depend on anyone for what you need.

1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 (GNT)

So, how is your aim? Do you possess a calm inner spirit revealed in an even calmer outward demeanor? Do you aim to make your life more like Jesus rather than quickly and harshly telling others what they are doing wrong? Do you apply yourself to becoming the best you possible by being productive and adding value to yourself and the people around you?

To answer these (and many other questions) you need to look at the mark your life is leaving on others. And remember: Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him!

IT’S TIME TO STAND UP AND. . .BE CALM!

(image generated at http://www.keepcalms.com)

I am sick and tired. . .tired and sick. . .and sick and tired of all this unrelenting caterwauling that is happening. No. . . not in Washington D.C.; rather the incessant caterwauling ABOUT what’s happening in D.C. And I’m NOT referring to newscasters or political underlings. I’m talking about. . . NO! I’m talking TO those who profess Jesus as Lord and Savior.

The social cannonade that covers Social Media by those who say that Jesus Reigns but . . . are quibbling with others about this cauldron of toxicity and sewage. By the way. . . am I the only one who has notice that “Social” Media is actually “Unsociable Media”? Here’s all I have to say to Jesus followers who engage is such characterless dribble:

Oh, and those pusillanimous recreants who are saying “Well, this just goes to show that Jesus is about to return. Come, Lord Jesus, come and take me away!” I refer to them as Calgon Christians–remember those commercials? “Take me away, Calgon.” As if that’s the answer! Bejeezus, folks; where’s your fortitude? Don’t you realize that if Jesus does come today that billions of people will NOT be ready for that moment? Where’s your compassion, your heart like Jesus? Geez. . .

Come on people, think about it. What has all this pestiferous arguing achieved? I mean, what does “How can you be a Christian and vote democrat?” or “How can you be a Christian and vote republican?” produced? Has anyone really said to you, “Oh, thank you for reminding of that. Yes, I’ll change my political party immediately. Bless you my child for you have delivered me!” Nope! Ain’t happening! Here’s what I say about all that mindset:

In crisis moments, sometimes we to need to STAND UP AND FIGHT! But this, my flummoxed sojourners, IS NOT THE TIME TO STAND UP AND FIGHT. May I suggest a different tactic? Would you just love to see the pundits speechless? Would you love to see them stop and question what’s happening. . .even to entertain the possibility that there needs to be a change in how they visage the current dubbing?

What if. . . I mean we are getting nowhere fast with these current proclivities. . . WHAT IF, we who are Citizens Of The Kingdom Of God stopped all this frenzied panic and refused to engage in this debate? Oh, I just heard someone think: “Well, just what in Heaven’s name should be do? If we don’t speak out who will?” (he-he-he–I’m giggling inside with that question!) Speaking out has’t worked. What if . . .

WHAT IF we make the Choice to Be Calm? What? Did someone just ask me to prove that’s what the Bible says? OK, buttercup, I’ll give you what the Bible says about how to respond to our culture. . . any culture: (remember, you asked for it)

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Romans 12:2 (NLT)

Answer me this: Is the current behavior and customs of this culture Calm? Would you LIKE to see things calm down in D.C.? How about seeing our whole nation become CALM? Then, YOU BECOME CALM! Refuse to engage in ANY political drivel. Stop equating political parties with saving our nation. Stop the name calling and belittling of others. Return to the earliest and most powerful affirmation of faith in the church: JESUS IS LORD. If HE isn’t in panic mode (by the way, God never panics), then why iterate the emotional mush being passed off as forward thinking. After all. . . that’s the source of the chaos, anger and confusion.

Walk away from it and become the model of Calm. Who knows, maybe that will change someone’s heart, mind and life. At the very least, it will drive them nuts. In my book, that’s a win-win. So . . . love Jesus with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to HIM! Oh, one more thought:

I Choose To Be Calm

Pic from http://www.ohtobecalm.com

Well, this morning I was going to choose a different choice. But the Spirit reminded me that choice would require me to interact with a lot of people. I’m not because it’s Football Saturday. THE University of Alabama kickoff time is 11:00 a.m. and I must see them. So. . .since it’s Football Saturday at our home, the Spirit whispered, “Why not make the choice to be calm?”

Well, that would be a challenge for me today. You see, I get excited, I mean really excited watching Bama Football. If you are one of those unfortunate souls unfamiliar with the Battle Cry “Roll Tide Roll”, they are a really good team, I mean really good. However. . .when they don’t operate at perfect efficiency–meaning no mistakes–I tend to get a little upset. . .OK, I yell at the TV. There! Happy Now? So, today I choose to be calm.

More than a football game, calmness is essential for life on this circling orb called Earth. Yet the nature of this circling orb produces everything but calm. Global war on terrorism. Human violence. The Middle East. Disasters. The News Networks. The Politics of the Democrats AND Republicans–Oy! Oy! Oy! These alone are enough to make “calm” a rare commodity. But then add personal struggles to the mix. . .it’s that song from the old Hee-Haw show: “Gloom, despair, and agony on me. Deep dark depression, excessive misery. If it weren’t for bad luck I’d have no luck at all. Gloom, despair and agony on me.”

If you ask the average Joe on the street, “Are you calm?”, they would probably look at you like you’re crazy, shake their head in disbelief that you would ask such a question, and walk on. But. . .today my choice is to be calm. And I will be calm–oh, it won’t be easy–but it will be possible.

It hit me this morning–why there is such an absence of calm in our culture. I’m surprised I haven’t noticed it before now–because it is so obvious. People based calmness on their physical circumstances–and that is a basis that will fail you. Without a deep relationship with God, calmness will be even more illusive than the winning Powerball lottery numbers.

There is nothing in this fallen orb that can produce lasting calm in our hearts and minds. There may be some things that provide a temporary relief–but lasting calm? Nope, nothing at all. As good as my Crimson Tide is, they are not perfect. Any given Saturday they are subject to defeat. Watch the world and expect to find calm and your heart and mild will scream, “Danger! Will Robinson! Danger!”

So is the idea of calm just another illusion, an empty pipe dream? Not at all. It comes down to a choice, THE choice to remain calm. Calmness is the result of your choice. Always had been. Always will. If this dysfunctional orb cannot provide calm, how can it be that we have a choice? I’m so glad you asked me that question. I know the answer.

“Be still, and know that I am God!
    I will be honored by every nation.
    I will be honored throughout the world.”

Psalm 46:10 (NLT)

You’ve heard it said many times, “You cannot control your circumstances but you can control your response.” My choice today is to remember the HE is God, and I am not–thus, I will be calm. Panic, fear, despair and dread–all this and much more are the consequences of forgetting WE are NOT God–but HE is! This kind of calm doesn’t happen automatically. It is the fruit of living in THE Relationship God offers us in Jesus Christ. Calm is our way of saying to God, “I know what my physical eyes see and my natural mind wants me to panic. But, I also see You, Abba! Poppa! I know You are Faithful and Loving. You sent Jesus to die on the Cross for me. My choice must be to be Calm. I trust You in the moment and I rely on You for Your strength.” Calmness comes from our roots–not from the surface.

Calm isn’t the result of your physical nor your emotional circumstances. Calm IS the result of surrendering yourself completely to God. So. . .Love God with all your heart. Love others the way HE loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to HIM! And a personal reminder for myself: