THE MOST POWERFUL WORD IN THE UNIVERSE!

Question Of The Day And Every Day: WHAT IS THE MOST POWERFUL WORD IN THE WORLD? How would you answer this question? Before you give your answer (oops, some of you already have), think in terms of impact. The power of words is undeniable. The course of nations has been altered by words. Families and individuals have been changed by words. Though collections of words have impacted people, families, nations, and cultures–there is a single word that is (in my humble opinion) that has the greatest impact of all.

Words have both a positive and a negative impact. They build up or they tear down. And it doesn’t take a plethora of words. There is a single word that will either obliterate or revolutionize a life, family, community, nation, culture–and even the world. So, what say ye? Do you know that word? Would you like to know what that word is? Really? Are you sure and for certain? Answer me–do you want to know the single most powerful word in the universe? Think you know it already? By the way, it only has 2 letters; no more and no less. Well. . .let’s see if you do.

IF is the single most powerful word that we can utter. What??? You just disagreed with me? Oh well, that’s ok–you can be wrong. Think about this word. IF describes outcomes–more specifically–different outcomes. IF is the sum of what could have been–or–what will be. IF is the cry from the ruins of a life broken, crushed, and annihilated by the wrong choices. IF expresses regret and remorse. IF is the sound of fading hope. IF is the ashes of dreams. That’s one way that IF is the most powerful word in the world.

But there is another side to IF that is diametrically different. IF can change your future into the best life possible. IF offers renewed hope and new dreams. IF will change the entire course of your life. IF will restore far more than life as it happens has ever taken away from you. IF is all about the only life you were ever created for–it’s the life worth fighting for IF that’s what you want. Here–let me show you the most powerful part of the most powerful word called IF:

  • IF my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)
  • Even IF my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close. (Psalm 27:10)
  • But if you live in life-union with me and IF my words live powerfully within you—then you can ask whatever you desire and it will be done. (John 15:7)
  • 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. (Daniel 3:17)
  • (And one of my personal favorites:) 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.

Hopefully, you can now see that IF is the most powerful word in the universe. And it’s all in how you use that word. Listen carefully to how YOU are using this word. Use it in the proper way, it changes everything. Use it in the wrong way, it changes everything.

THE MORNING AFTER

Well, it seems that another National Championship wasn’t in the cards for The Crimson Tide. And the morning after? Here’s what I noticed. The Sun still rose. There was no Zombie apocalypse. The mountains didn’t collapse. There is no anarchy in the streets. My family and friends are still around. We have winter weather here in Alabama (which is still subject to change). Wall Street didn’t crash. The electrical grid didn’t fail. In short, life goes on. As I knew it would when I went to bed last night at 11:00 p.m. CST.

This is the nature of life on this orb called Earth. But serious things can happen to us and around us that may cause us to ask that question: “How can I go forward? How can I face The Morning After?” It may be the loss of income; the diagnosis of cancer; coming face to face with dementia in a loved one; your vehicle dies and leaves you without transportation; your spouse leaves; a family member dies; a close friend betrays you; you give in to temptation and the guilt is eating you alive. Or any of a countless number of things that leave us feeling crushed, guilty, disappointed, doubtful, hurting, or confused.

The Morning After can, I said CAN, result in the loss of peace, joy, purpose, and hope. But it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, there is another way to face The Morning After. Regardless of what caused it, or how we feel The Morning After, we have a choice in how we deal with it. If it is some sin you committed, choose 1 John 1:9–“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.” If it’s feelings of abandonment by God, choose Psalm 23:4–“Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.  Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.” If it is doubt, then choose Philippians 5:6–“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”

Every “The Morning After”, God has a promise for you. In His Promises are the means and the strength to get through to that other side. The causes do not define the outcomes for us. The outcomes are chosen by us. Make sure that your choice is to run back to God, and cling to Him as if your life depends on Him. Because it does!

A Saturday Fairy Tale

(This will become a Saturday Series for me; as I am inspired)

Once upon a time, there was a man named Bennie. Bennie was always talked about by the community as a good man. He went to church every Sunday. He could be seen welcoming guests who came to church. He sang in the choir. Whatever the Nominating Committee asked of him, Bennie always said yes. He volunteered for every project and event. His pastor frequently called him “The Salt Of The Earth” kinda man!

One Sunday morning as he was sitting in the choir, Bennie started noticing the other people. He was so caught up in noticing, his heart wasn’t in the choir’s anthem. Music that had stirred his heart was just another habit. He was so caught up in noticing others, that he wasn’t listening to his pastor’s message. He could not help but notice that Fred from work was there. He knew Fred was living with his girlfriend with the proper marriage certificate. After the service was over he congratulated his fellow choir members for another great anthem, though he didn’t remember the name of the song.

Then came the following Sunday and Fred was noticing again. He saw Carol coming into the sanctuary. He thought to himself, “That’s not appropriate clothing for church! She’s showing way too much flesh.” Jim and Betty came in, “Late again!” he muttered to himself. When the offering plate was being passed along he noticed The Widow Jones put in a five-dollar bill. He knew her late husband left her well-off. He thought about that fancy house where she lived. “She could do a whole lot better than a fiver”, he said to himself.

Sunday became Fred’s day of noticing other people. When Henry and Liz came in holding hands as they always did, he remembered, “Wasn’t that Henry’s truck over at Jessica’s house the other night? I believe it was! I KNOW it was! Liz was out of town with her job. And Henry is looking so, so–what’s the term? Smug and self-righteous, that’s the term!” After complimenting his Pastor for another great message, which he never heard because he was noticing people, Fred went home.

That afternoon Fred did a lot, I mean a lot of thinking. He thought to himself, “You know, I’m a whole lot better than all those hypocrites! And after all these years of faithful attendance, I do know a lot about Jesus and the Bible. In fact, I know enough, more than enough, that I don’t need to go to church anymore. Besides, the people are so distracting!”

The very next Sunday, Fred remembered what he thought about the previous Sunday, so he decided to stay home. But something didn’t seem right to him. So he went to his computer and found a different church’s live stream. The musical production was awesome and the preacher was engaging. After watching it, he felt a little better. The next Sunday Fred decided to try attending in person at HIS church. But the distractions persisted and consumed his noticing.

Fred’s attendance became more and more sporadic. He quit the choir and resigned from all the positions that blessed Nominating Committee had put him on. Now, on the Sundays he was attending in person, he watched a variety of churches streaming services. Then he noticed that he didn’t have to watch them live–for his convenience those churches saved those services to watch later.

Since Fred didn’t have to busy himself on Sundays watching worship services, and being his day off, he found other things to occupy his time. He could always watch that streaming service later. Finally, he stopped watching them altogether. And Fred was feeling so much better without being surrounded by all those pitiful church people, or so he thought.

But life changed, as it always does. His Dad died and not a single person from church was there offering love and care. His new friends were there, but their advice was shallow and didn’t help. Then Fred had a crisis at work–he was let go. Again, no one from any church came to his side. Fred was all alone. It made him a little sad–but when he thought about all those hypocrites, what was the name of the church he used to attend? Nevermind! He didn’t need them! He was very content living without those annoying connections with other people.

Fred adjusted very well to his life. He became very self-reliant and self-sufficient. All that talk he had heard about the importance of the Body of Christ in one’s life seemed so foolish to him. How in the world could he be so deceived. He was a bit mad at himself for believing all that baloney! And so Fred lived in isolation for the remainder of his earthly life.

One day death was approaching Fred. He knew it would. In his mind, he reviewed all that huge amount of information he knew from the Bible. He remembered the day he was baptized and joined that church, the name he couldn’t remember–but he was a member there. One night Fred closed his eyes as death came to him. When he opened his eyes again, he expected to see pearly gates, walls of jasper, streets of gold, and his very own mansion that would put Widow Jones’ mansion to shame.

Instead, Fred was in this large room by himself. Not another soul in sight! He was a bit confused because none of this matched what he learned those years he went to church. He thought to himself, “Maybe this is just a waiting room–a holding area–while they do the finishing touches on my mansion. And where are all the people who should already be here?” Not another soul could be seen. He wondered how long he had been in that lonely room. But then he remembered that in eternity there was no such thing as time. But he still wondered, “Where is heaven? Is this heaven?”

Panic set in and Fred screamed out, “What’s going on? What’s this place? It doesn’t look like anything I learned from the Bible! Where all you, God?” A bright light shined, it hurt his eyes, and he heard a voice, the voice of God. “What’s wrong, Fred?” Fred replied, “This doesn’t look like heaven!” God replied, “It’s not.” Fred started to tremble, thinking he was in hell. But he knew this wasn’t like the place he learned about. This time Fred shouted, “This doesn’t look like hell, either!”

It sounded to Fred like God let out a little chuckle. Then God replied, “It’s no.” Frustrated Fred said, “Just then what is this place?” There was silence, and Fred swore he just heard God sigh–it was a deep and sad sigh. “This place”, God replied, “is the place you longed for, sought hard for, and the place on earth you became contented. Fred, this is what you wanted while on earth–so now you have an eternity of it. Being alone.” The end.

The Moral Of The Story

No, this is NOT a lesson on what heaven and hell are about. It’s a lesson about what we desire when it comes to the Community of Faith. There are all kinds of good excuses to avoid being with others in the Body of Christ. Even with her faults and flaws, truth is we need the Body of Christ–the Fellowship Of The Broken Who Need To Be Whole. And the bottom line of The Moral is this: Whatever you desire the most–you will get. So, ask yourself–will it satisfy you for eternity?

The Domino Effect

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

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

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

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

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

Romans 5:3-5 (NLT)

KICKING AND SCREAMING!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I Owe Ya’ One!

One usually hears these words on certain occasions. “Have an extra cigarette? Thanks, I owe ya’ one!” “Got an extra beer in that cooler? Thanks, I owe ya’ one!” “Can you help me move some furniture around? Thanks, I owe ya’ one!” Can you help me fix this? Thanks, I owe ya’ one!” And the list goes on. Well, Saturday I had one of those “Thanks, I owe ya’ one!” moments.

First thing I did was stop by at one of the local “institutes of higher learning”, also known as McDonalds. Sat with some friends, heard some interesting stories–and laughed a lot. Then it was on to the local Wally World. I was there yesterday, but that day I needed 4 items not on yesterday’s list. I got those 4 items, and only those 4; kinda proud of this fact. Midway through that episode I needed to visit the men’s room. Accomplished my objective and headed home. Again, very proud of myself.

Arrived at home, got the Wally World bags out and in the house. And then, I said AND THEN! I realized I had left my phone at Wally World. Hoping no one thought it was a free gift from Wally World, I rushed back as if there were no state troopers or local police out there with radar; thankfully there wasn’t. And I was also praying–not the driving part–praying that my precious phone would still be there. I parked, walked as fast as I could–then low and behold, There Was My Phone Right Where I Left It!

Feeling most thankful–and a bit dumb for forgetting it–on my way back home I expressed my thankfulness to God with a “Thanks, I owe ya’ one!” And the Spirit leaned in and whispered in my ear, “One what?” I thought for a quick moment, and gave what I thought was a very spiritual answer: “I owe you one life, mine!” Feeling a bit smug with my answer, the Spirit leaned in and whispered this: “Nice try, but that’s not enough. What else ya’ got?”

Now that one caught me a little off-guard. So, I doubled that quick moment time and replied with what I thought was an even more spiritual answer: “I owe you one day, TODAY!” And the Spirit leaned in a third time and whispered: “Another nice try, but that’s still not enough. What else ya’ got?” I admit I was a bit bumfuzzled. Two spiritual answers that’s just not enough? What else do I have that He could possibly want?

It was then that Wisdom spoke up and gave me an answer; the answer that was absolutely the correct one. So I said, “I owe you one moment, this moment. Not tomorrow. Not next week or next month or next anything. Just this moment–that’s what I owe ya’!” And the Spirit leaned in yet again and whispered: “I’ll take it, after all, that’s all you have.”

How many times do we put off life? How often are we thinking about waiting until “the right moment”? I’m not talking about goals and dreams we have for our lives; we need those. I am talking about the moment right now! How are we using the ONLY thing we have that is related to this thing called timethis moment? The single most important asset we have is this moment. Nothing else matters. And nothing else is guaranteed in this journey of life. Think about these words from Paul:

So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise.  Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.

Ephesians 5:15-16 (NLT)

Look at that word opportunity! The Greek word Paul used is Kairos. Kairos is not the ticking of the clock nor the days on the calendar. It is that moment where things happen that are full and rich with meaning. Yes, Jesus did so much for us–let me rephrase that–Jesus did for us what we could never do for ourselves. Therefore, we need to be thinking and saying, “Thanks! I owe ya’ one! And allow that owe ya’ one be paid back every moment you breathe. Moments are important–very important–eternally important. And the only moment any of us have is the one right now!

Wha?

Garmin. Waze. Tom-Tom. Google Maps. et.al. All of these GPS based systems promise to get us to a destination we are looking for. Right? But! Have you ever had the experience of using one of those GPS things and it tells you You Have Reached Your Destination only–it’s not the place you’re looking for? Yes or No?

That you are looking for a place you really want to be–so you enter it into your GPS. It does its calculating and off you go. You turn left. Then turn right. Then turn left. Then turn right. Go 5.2 miles. You hear the glorious words, “Your destination is a quarter of a mile on your right. In 100 feet turn right. TURN RIGHT!” Then! You find yourself at a cemetery and the GPS proudly announces You have reached your destination! Wha?????

While this parable (maybe it’s happened to some of you) would make a great episode of “The Twilight Zone”, it’s an every-day-often-all-day-long experience for people today. And it’s not a GPS thing. It’s a life thing. They try to find more than a tourist attraction or great restaurant. It’s trying to find satisfaction for their life. They seek The Promise but only find a cemetery. Solomon warned us about this in Proverbs 14:12–“There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” So they think, “Well, Google Maps was wrong–I’ll try Waze!” More left turns. More right turns. But they end up in the very same cemetery. What’s a person to do? Isn’t there anything that can get us to where we long to be?

I’m probably about to appear to some to be a simple-minded dolt, but if nothing in this world gives us what we long for–then perhaps we should try God’s Word–The Bible. We read in Psalms 119:105–“Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” If the directions you have been following hasn’t gotten you to where you long to be, then may I suggest you turn to God’s Word–The Whole Word–And Nothing But The Word? After all, isn’t insanity defined as trying the same thing over and over expecting different results?

Surrender your life to God. Then, when the undertaker reaches that final destination, it won’t be your final destination. With Jesus leading the way, our final destination is life!

It’s Out Of My Hands–But I’m Still In Control!

Here’s one of those, call it, Inconvenient Truths: Much of life is way above our paygrade! We lack the skillsets and knowledge to handle it. Deep down we know this is true. But that craving to be in control is the impetus induces us to hold on and not let go. I’m trying to think of an analogy to describe this choice to not let go. It’s like seeing a hornet’s nest and thinking how good it would look over the mantle. So we reach out to take it down and the hornets attack. But we won’t let go because we want it on our mantle–and the stings of those hornets keep on multiplying. But we want it. Got the mental image of this? Good!

There have been, are now, and until Jesus returns, continue to be problems and botherations that we cannot fix! And for most of us–that’s the irritation and vexation, and it’s becomes that hornet’s nest. Though the pain persists and intensifies–we refuse to let go of being in control–even though it’s conspicuous that we are far from it. And if we continue that hunger and aspiration to be in control, our life will reach terminal velocity–and the resulting crash leaves us unrecognizable.

Why do we have this hankering to be in control even though we know the outcome? Blame it on Adam and Eve–Satan promised them something he couldn’t give them and that they were incapable of–Being In Control! Now that the blight and debility has been identified, what can we do? Would you believe there’s a story in The Bible about this very thing? Who wouda thunk it?

It’s in Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 19, starting at verse 16. Some think it’s about the evil of being rich. Only a dolt would see it that way. It’s the story about a young man who realizes something is amiss with his life–and so he comes to Jesus. A good place to go. It’s the question about life–lasting life–enduring life–life now and life forever. The first thing Jesus tells him are the things he already knows–and also knows that aren’t really helping him.

So Jesus tells him to do one more thing–let go of your wealth and pursue God’s Kingdom. In other words–stop trying to be in control! After hearing what Jesus had to say, I love how The Message puts it in verse 22: “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.

Listen to me people! We got mega-tons of problems–in politics, in the economy, in society, in our culture. Add to these, we all have issues that are draining the life right out of us. And as long as we hold on to them–and refuse to give up CONTROL–they will persist to our annihilation and the lights go out.

Give up the futility, senselessness, and ineffectuality of holding on to that illusive and imaginary thing we call being in control. Ask the Nail Scarred Hands to take it out of your hands. I commend this song to your listening:

Don’t be like that young man who refused to give up control and left the presence of the Only One who is in absolute control–with that hangdog look.

But I’m Knot!

Paul once wrote: “I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.” (Philippians 4:11 NLT) But I’m not! Paul once wrote: “So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen.” (2 Corinthians 4:18 NLT) But I’m not. The Psalmist wrote: “When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.” (Psalm 94:19 NLT) But I’m not. And because I’m NOT I’m in a KNOT! Here’s why.

My sister recently died. I’m deeply concerned for my Dad’s health and emotional state. Two people close to us won’t talk to us. My deep concerns for the two wonderful churches we serve. The state of our culture. COVID-19. Add to this all the other “stuff” too numerous to mention. And now, there’s another thing. This week my wife Debbie, God’s gift to me, found a lump in her breast. Yesterday she had an ultrasound. And we are impatiently waiting for the results. It’s impossible not to ponder about all the possible results.

I know, I know! But in this very moment, I’m not all those good and wonderful things I know. So, what do I do? Give in? Give up? Wallow around (if you’re from the south, the word is woller) in this NOT, or should I say KNOT? I could do that–and honestly–it’s very tempting to do this. So, what am I going to do?

One thing is that I will wrestle to get free of this NOT! And this is where YOU, the Body Of Christ comes in. Pray! Friends, we are in a war and the battleground is real life–as it happens. Though at this moment I’m a Not/Knot, I choose to fight. But I need some reinforcements. I know the rest of the Philippians passage–“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Even so, you have done well to share with me in my present difficulty.” (Philippians 4:13-14) I know it, I just need to KNOW it is true on this battlefield. Thanks in advance for your prayers–and thanks for NOT telling me I should know better. Yes, I’m wollering around–and with the Grace of God, and your support, I’m getting out of this mudhole!

One Thumb Down!

Well, yours truly, experienced a moment yesterday that was not even close to my finest moments–not even in same zip code. A friend and I were adding a gate to our chain link fence. It required new post holes. I had 2 options–post hole diggers (which require a lot of physical exertion) or a drill with an auger. The drill and auger was the choice–after all I may not look very bright, but I do have my moments. That choice was my only moment yesterday.

As I was drilling the last hole, THAT’S when my common sense decided to take a break. As the auger was turning it hit a tree root. So what, you may ask. Well, here’s a lesson in physics. Since the auger was NOT turning all that energy had to go somewhere. That somewhere was up to the drill, that I was holding, and it violently began to twist, bending my right thumb in a direction it wasn’t meant to be bent. It wasn’t the drill’s fault, or the tree root–it was my fault. As you can clearly see from the picture below, there are two handles on the drill–one on top and one to the side. And this is why my not so bright moment occurred. I was holding on to the top handle instead of the side handle. Had I been holding that side handle, it would not have given my right thumb this lingering pain.

And now on my right hand, I have an unusable opposing digit. One usually doesn’t think about their thumb–that is–until you cannot use it. Being left handed I do not think much about my right thumb–but this morning my right thumb is saying: “See, you do need me!” Opposing digits, as thumbs are often called, are what make us different from most in the primate family and most of the animal kingdom. OK, what’s my point?

My point today is why are so many basing their beliefs and values on those who act and make decisions all the time the way I made one wrong decision? Look folks, too many who are not the sharpest tool in the tool shed, not the brightest bulb in the box (heck, their bulb hasn’t worked in years–if ever!) are influencing others–and the masses who refuse to think are following their lead.

So, who is influencing you? Who sets the cadence for your life? Who are you listening to? Those who don’t have a clue? Or, those who have the common sense, wisdom, and experiences to know better? Take it from me, if you are using an auger on your drill to dig a hole, make sure that drill has a handle on the side–and use it! This is the voice of experience! I close with this cartoon I recently shared on Facebook:

Near the end of the movie The Last Crusade, they find the Holy Grail–actually scores of them. But only one was the authentic Holy Grail. The Templar Knight guarding it said, “Choose wisely.” The villain in the movie, Walter Donovan, choose what he thought was the Holy Grail. After drinking from the cup–he rapidly and painfully returned to dust. And the Templar Knight said, “He chose poorly.” Yesterday, I chose poorly. Make good decisions–because they do have consequences. Remember Walter Donovan’s choice, and my poor choice. Just ask my right thumb! For a few days now, I’m going to be one thumb down!

Name That Druthers!

Lots of money or great looks? Unhappy CEO or happy sales clerk? Car or truck? Big mansion or cabin in the mountains? To be feared or liked? To be revered or loved? Sports car or pick-up truck? New vehicle or customized hot rod? Communism, socialism, or representative democracy? Smokin’ hot body or inner peace? To have others wait on you hand and foot or help others? The red one or blue one? Swimming pool or hot tub? I’d druther have the hot tub!

Perhaps in other parts of the world the word “druthers” isn’t often used. But here in the South, it often helps determine if you are really Southern or just a “wanna be”. Druthers are not necessarily a bad thing. For example, “I druther have some rain than this dusty dry condition.” Or, “I druther not have to go through another hurricane or tornado.” Or even, “I druther my car’s air conditioner work than having to keep all the windows rolled down.” The Druthers can inspire to us dream and work hard to achieve those dreams.

But there is another side to the druthers; one we all need to fend off. It’s the druthers of discontentment with life as it happens. It happens when we believe that life is unfair and unreasonable. It happens because we think that life owes us. It happens when we want an easy and comfortable life. It happens when someone has something we don’t have, that we think we deserve. It happens when we look for things to make us more than happy–but fulfilled and content. Can we be honest with each other? Our culture is running on empty and about to collapse because so many want their druthers rather than fulfillment and contentment.

Unfortunately, these same pursuers of druthers cannot see, will not see–there is a better way of life. You see, even IF we get our druthers, sooner or later (usually sooner) something else catches our eyes and we desire another druther; then another and another and another! Get the point? But what’s the alternative? And here is where so many get it wrong–oh, so wrong! They resign to misery and despair. But what if–WHAT IF I say–there is another alternative that will never leave you in discontentment, misery, and despair? Would you be interested in knowing what that is?

Here it is: Surrender and submit your moments, your each and every moment to Jesus! Druthers will never give you what Jesus gives us when we follow God’s Plan for our life. God isn’t interested in taking away the joy and fun of life. God is interested in keeping your from the discontentment, misery, and despair that marks and mars so many lives. He does this by giving us the life we are created to have–a life than doesn’t depend on our DRUTHERS–but lives within His grace and mercy–which is His Love. Things you love cannot love you back. But God–well, His love is always there–even when we can’t get our druthers!

Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. 

Philippians 4:11-13 (The Message)

By the way, that mansion and fancy car? They have a lot of maintenance needs. But Jesus gives us everything we need–maybe not our druthers–but always what we need!

What Would You Like Today?

“Place your order when you’re ready.” “Would you like to try our new chicken sandwich today?” “What can I get for you?” “What would you like today?” It’s what we hear from our favorite (or most convenient) waist building, cholesterol raising, arterial clogging fast food joint. Whatever form the question takes, it all comes down to this: “What do you want today?” Now there’s a question, a question we all answer–but seldom think about HOW we answer it.

Yesterday as I sat in the doctor’s waiting room with my Dad, waiting for his name to be called, there was a certain gentleman (I use this term very loosely) who wanted to be annoying by talking very loud on his cellphone. Fortunately he did not have it on speakerphone. That was left up to another person who answered one of those calls, ON SPEAKERPHONE, where everyone in that large waiting room heard, “Press 1 for blah blah blah, Press 2 for more blah blah blah…” Oh, and let’s not forget the individual who was watching some ad on his tablet WITHOUT Bluetooth ear buds. I doubt–I hopefully doubt–that none of the 3 aforementioned individuals wanted to be annoying when they awakened from their sleep. Nonetheless, their decisions and actions said, “Today I want to be annoying!”

What’s my point, other than silence that %$%^&**# phone when at the doctor’s office? Today, July 31, 2021 you choose what you want for this day. It can be a day of joy or misery. A day peace or heartache. A day of contentment or a day of contentiousness. We can’t always control what happens to us–but we are in control of how we respond. How we respond comes out of what we want.

When Nehemiah finished his building project, the people came together and Ezra began reading God’s words to their ancestors. Those words made them realize they had been wanting the wrong things–so they started wailing and crying. But listen to what Nehemiah told them in Nehemiah chapter 8 verse to: “This day is holy to God. Don’t feel bad. The joy of God is your strength!” (The Message).

Order when you are ready. I think I will have the Joy of God! Your turn, make your choice, but make it wisely!