I SUPPOSE I COULD EAT LIVER AND ONIONS NOW.

Thought I might give up an update on this latest unplanned journey with the COVID-19. So far I haven’t had the respiratory distress that many of my friends have had–and that’s a good, very good thing. But I do have that persistent sore throat and my body feels like–well do you remember the movie Men In Black (the first one)?

Taste buds–I have none! I can’t even taste my coffee! But thank God, this elixir of life still works even though I can’t taste it. And thus, the topic of this afternoon’s musings: Liver And Onions! Every year Debbie and I have been together we’ve practiced the Lenten discipline of giving up something. And every year I offer to give up liver and onions. And Debbie tells me the same thing!

Since I have no sense of taste, I could try liver and onions. But I’m not! If I did not like liver and onions before I lost my taste buds, I will not eat them in a box. I will not eat them with a fox. I will not eat them in a car. I will not eat them in a bar! The memory of their taste is enough to keep me from doing it now though I know I couldn’t taste it. What’s all this babbling have to do with The Kingdom?

I am so glad you asked. The sense of taste is perhaps the most personal of all senses. Seeing, hearing, and touching doesn’t give the effect of tasting. Even the sense of smell comes up short. Tasting is taking it all inward. This is why David wrote this in Psalm 34 Verse 8–“Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!” David doesn’t say look, see, hear, or touch–it’s TASTE!

Sometimes it looks like or feels like God isn’t so good. Sometimes life absolutely stinks! Sometimes we hear people saying that God isn’t good if He allows bad things to happen. I could agree with that. My sister died 5 months ago and my Dad died last week. This week I have COVID. And even though I’ve lost my sense of taste–I remember how wonderful the taste of God’s goodness to me when I take my refuge is in Him. I don’t have to “taste” it right now to know it’s true–because I’ve already experienced the goodness of God.

WELL, HERE I GO AGAIN!

What a ride this week has been. And now I am adding to my ride COVID-19. Yesterday my throat was sore and my sinuses became an issue. And, I had been exposed. So off to the local state health department, call them when I arrived in the parking lot–then wait. Wait until the nurse arrived. Wait until it was #4’s turn (that’s me). Wait for the delivery of the results. And so it is–Positive!

This wasn’t on my planned itinerary for the rest of the week. I was so looking forward to preaching again–it’s one of my coping devices. It’s something about God’s Word that just lifts me up. I just started a new series called Bones–from Ezekiel’s experience in The Valley Of Dry Bones! But alas, not this week. Instead, I am experiencing what many have gone through and are going through and more will face. I have a sore throat; sinuses running like a politician for an office, loss of taste, yucky feeling, but no problems breathing–yet. Oh, one more thing.

Quarantine! At a time in my life when I need others around me–well, just forget that. And I am learning even more in this newest journey. I am cut off from others–but I am not cut off from God’s Presence through The Holy Spirit. The people I want be around are praying for me, and God is moving through those prayers. My primary care office is ready to get me the infusion therapy if needed. God’s presence and His provisions–so I guess I’m not really quarantined. I simply need to adjust my expectations and rest–rest in His provisions for me. In fact, one of the funeral directors who is a friend of mine, and worked with Dad, called and gave me some advice from his recent experience with COVID. Therefore I conclude, that Quarantine is a state of mind–and I am never quarantined from faith, hope, and love.

Oh Lord, It’s Monday! Interruptions!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 139, Verses 7 through 10

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!

Journey Journal: Day 8

Well, today all I can think of to write is one thing–actually two things. The first thing is that The Journey Continues. But isn’t that the nature of Journeys? I’m not writing about, nor am I near The Destination! Every Journey continues until we reach The Destination. But then, there is always another Journey. The second thing–and this is really important for me. . .and for you: God Is Still With Me In This Journey! And what more could I, or anyone else for that matter, ask. And God is still with you in your Journey.

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!

Mountains And Floods!

What mountain is between you and the kind of life you deeply long to have today? At this exact moment, what flood is sweeping you away from the life you once knew? Where does your hope come from that says you will get over that mountain? Who will rescue you from that flood? IS there a source of hope AND strength that will simply get you through today without being crushed and broken? IS there even hope for a better tomorrow? What source of help has been tested and proven true over and over? IS there such help?

Image if you will, a new car manufacturer comes up with what they claim is the best, safest, and most reliable car ever. Imagine if you will, they claim it will get 60 miles per gallon of gas and go from 0 to 70 in 4.6 seconds. But then they also say, “We haven’t tested it yet. Heck, we haven’t even tried to crank it! But we just know it will do what we claim!” Would you be the first in line at the dealership to buy one?

Imagine if you will that you see an ad for a used car; the picture looks like that car is in immaculate shape. You go to see it and the first thing the salesperson says is “Well, sometimes it runs great, and sometimes it won’t run at all.” Would you pay Kelly Blue Book full retail price? Maybe even throw in a couple of thousand extra, just because? As nonsensical and preposterous as this sounds, yet this is what many do when facing mountains or when being swept away by some raging flood.

You will never be able to climb that mountain, and that flood will sweep you away–unless and until you trust God enough to surrender completely into His hands. He may not do it in the fashion you want–but He will do it. Trying to conquer that mountain or trying to be rescued from that flood by any other method (see my pun? I’m a Methodist!) will always end in disaster. Cry out to Jesus in this moment–and He will help you climb that mountain. And He will rescue you from this flood. This is His promise:

When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

Isaiah 43:2-3 (NLT)

Wherever You Are, There You Are!

Sunrise at Millsite Lake, Bartow, Florida

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 36:5 (NLT)

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

Did You Just See That?

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 139:7-12 (The Message)

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

If A Frog Had Wings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 Corinthians 1:20 (NLT)

The Mystery

This morning I do not feel like writing. The above picture barely scratches the surface of how I am feeling. It’s all kinda knotty and strewn everywhere. It’s a tangled mess–and I really don’t feel like writing this morning–but I must! (There’s another blog idea in that statement somewhere–doing what we must do when we don’t feel like it. But that’s for another time–not this morning.)

In case you haven’t been following this most recent saga in my life, yesterday morning my sister joined my Mother in Heaven. Huh, amazing how it is difficult to say “died”. We use softer terms like: “passed away”, “is no longer with us”, “has gone home”, “left the bonds of this world”, or “is now at peace”. Truth is, Jackie died. I know, that sounds so stark–so feelingless and obtuse. But Truth is often blunt.

It happened sometime around 3:30 a.m. I spend the night with Dad Tuesday and I wasn’t going to wake Dad up with that kind of news. He was resting well, and I knew that for the next few days, resting well would not likely happen. When he did get up, I shared the news. We cried a bit, had breakfast together and prayed together. After making sure other family members were going to check on him, I started my little over 2 hour journey back to my home. I had forgotten my medications (and please, no comments about my “medications” from the peanut gallery–see I still have a warped sense of humor!).

I pulled out onto the highway, but before I did, I pulled out my phone, connected it to the speaker system in our vehicle, opened up the K-Love app to listen to music. Music is one of my solaces–and helps me stay focused. On about the second or third song–God overwhelmed me with the reminder of His faithful presence–and His healing. Whoever set up the music to be played yesterday morning did not know me, or my deep, deep needs. But God did–and The Spirit made sure I heard this song at just that exact moment. Who but God, can see like that! It is a mystery–a mystery I live within each day. Here’s song. Hope it relates to you in what you are facing.

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!