OH, LORD! IT’S MONDAY! aND i’M STUCK!

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

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

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

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

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

I’m about to do something brand-new.”

From The Message

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

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

THE FAMILIAR

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

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

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

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

AND GUESS WHAT HAPPENED THIS MORNING?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TODAY’S GOING TO BE GREAT!

Today’s going to be great! I don’t know what all is going to happen. Still, today is going to be great. Of this I am confident! Without knowing any single detail, it’s going to be an amazing day! It’s not because it’s my birthday–but because of The One who gave, is giving, and will always give me life. And the source of this confidence is found in Psalm 118, verse 24: “This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.” I haven’t always been able to have such resoluteness. There have times and seasons where I dreaded getting up. But not today; or any day for that matter.

Today God is going to keep revealing His heart for me! And for you! He is going to stand by me, helping me to cope with the hard stuff. He is going to show me the wonder of His creation. He is going to reveal how much He loves me. He is going to throw in some surprises of His Grace. He is going to be faithful to me, even if I slip and become unfaithful to Him. His arms and heart are wide open for me. He’s going to show me some moments that seem at first to be ordinary–but He is going to make them extraordinary. And if I find a moment I need to cry? Well, He has an unlimited supply of Kleenexs and will gently wipe away my tears. He’s going to protect me–and do more than I can even imagine!

What about you? Do you have this confidence? Perhaps you’re facing another round of chemo. Perhaps this is your last day at your job. Perhaps this is the day divorce papers are finalized. Perhaps your day includes visiting a family member who doesn’t remember who you are. Perhaps it’s another day of waiting for your prodigal to come home. Perhaps there is a funeral you will attend today. So, this kind of confidence is missing in action for you. But remember that God is never missing in action. When our heart is open to Him and our trust in Him is unconditional–God is always with you. And even when it feels like He’s no where to be seen, He is still there because that’s WHO He is!

Rejoice that God has made this day, for in this day He is at work in your life. And His work is always good–and more than good FOR us–it’s the BEST work because you are made in His image. God is doing something right now–so REJOICE! Today is full of unlimited and unimagined opportunites to experience His love and grace for you.

So, Love God With All Your Heart. Love Others The Way Jesus Loves You. And Make Sure All The Glory Goes To Him!

LONGING TO BELONG!

Where do you belong? There’s an old story about a preachers’ conference where they got into an argument over free will and predestination. It became so heated that they divided into sides to determine how to counteract the others belief. One group went to one side, and the other group to the other side. All went, except one. He couldn’t decide which group to belong to. Finally he went over to the predestinationists side. When he got there someone asked, “Why are you here?” He replied, “Well, I chose to be over here.” They all shouted angrily, “You belong on the other side!” So he went. When he arrived with the other group someone there asked him, “Why are you here?” And he replied, “Well, because they sent me here.” The leader of the group said, “Get out of here! You can’t be here unless it’s your choice! You belong with that other group!” And he wondered where he did belong!

Longing to belong is one of the basic human needs. And one of the powerful motivators to action in all of us is the longing to belong–somewhere; even anywhere. Like the above mentioned preacher, we long to belong. And often this desire leads us to the wrong places, the wrong people. And to be rejected by a group, well. . .it’s downright painful. You may be thinking about teenagers longing to belong to a certain clique. But it’s not just teenagers–we adults, of all ages, do the same thing–at work, in the community, in politics. To belong means we have to fit in. And many times we just don’t fit in. And they remind us of that. Rejection is a powerful enemy to our heart, mind, and life.

Sometimes we do manage fit in, but we find out it’s not where we belong. We lost something inside us–so we try to find another group. And the cycles of trying fitting in and rejection viciously attacks us and we become washed out, wiped out, and worn out. And sometimes, some people feel like they don’t belong anywhere. It’s a pain that works so deeply within us it makes us feel helpless and unfit. Honestly, do you feel like you belong? Belong anywhere?

What if I told you there is a place you belong? Would you doubt me? Would you wonder how much it would cost your heart and mind to belong there? Would you wonder if you fit-in, I mean, really belong there? The place I’m talking about is for the worn-out, the weary, those carrying what feels like the weight of the world, tired–and who are willing to admit it. And the Group Leader–none other than Jesus, The Christ, The Son Of The Living God, is waiting with open arms to welcome you. Are you thinking, “There’s no way I would fit into religion!”? Well, I’m not talking about religion–it’s about The Relationship Of Belonging. Personally, I hate religion!

Jesus extends the invitation to everyone; everyone fits in because everyone is made in God’s image! That why Jesus said in Matthew chapter 11, verse 28: Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” All we need is to get rid of the junk that is hiding that image. When you don’t fit in, when you think there is no place you belong–Remember that Jesus longs for you to belong with Him!

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

HAVE YOU HEARD YOUR NAME CALLED?

She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.” “Mary!” Jesus said. She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”). (John chapter 20 verses 15 and 16 NLT)

This is the epic saga of Mary Magdalene at the tomb of Jesus on that first Easter morning. I know it’s not Easter and I’m not jumping the gun. But who says we can’t talk about The Resurrection unless it’s Easter? This was one of the core parts of The Message by those first dedicated disciples.

Limiting The Resurrection to just a specific season is one of the many reasons for the Spiritual Confusion of our time. People are confused about gender identity; confused about their true purpose; confused about ethics; confused about right and wrong; and confused–well–just confused. And it comes down to just one single fact: They haven’t been Resurrected! They’ve wanted to be reformed, but not transformed. So, they ask God to bless their mess and sancitfy their stuff. But that’s not how it works.

Mary was broken–not just broken-hearted–she was broken to her core. She was a dead person walking. And the only way anything would change for her and in her was this: She needed A Resurrection! Fortunate for her, she came to the right place–A Cemetery! But she needed more–WE need more. We need to hear Jesus call us by our name–and then be willing to walk away from our old and very dead life. Resurrection isn’t about self-improvement. It’s about leaving the old things so that we can follow The New!

Do you need A Resurrection? Where do you need A Resurrection? Do you WANT A Resurrection? Mary’s answer to these 3 questions was the same–a resounding YES! What say YOU to my 3 questions? LISTEN! He’s calling you by your name! And He’s offering you what is His alone to give–Resurrection!

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

PRAYER DOESN’T WORK!

I bet this got your attention, right? “What’s this Preacherman saying? Isn’t he supposed to be the one who should believe in prayer? Did the COVID damage his brain? Has all that wacky stuff he’s written fried what few brain cells he has left? What gives? Has the journey he’s been making these past couple of years finally done him in? What in the hell has Satan done to him?” Calm down, calm down! I haven’t lost my mind, my heart, nor my faith.

This audacious declaration isn’t how I feel, nor how I believe. This statement is an observation based on what I see and hear–among those who say they love Jesus. There is a cry–nay–a deprecatory bewailing pouring out across our culture. It’s louder that anything else. It’s the sound emitting from the melancholic heart–and I weep as I am hearing it. But when I hear this melancholy lament from God’s people–I get angry!

Why, in God’s name, are so many of God’s people giving up, at least here in the good old U.S. of A.? PRAYER DOES INDEED WORK! YOU CAN TAKE THAT TO THE BANK! (Yes, I’m yelling out loud!) But some are thinking–“If prayer works, why is our culture in such a mess?” If you are struggling with that question, I have the answer: Go look in a mirror! That person you see either believes that prayer doesn’t work or maybe, just maybe, you’ve been praying the wrong way praying about the wrong things.

Some folks are good, I mean really good, at praying against people. Praying for their demise. Praying for them to suffer. Praying for another to take their place. We need to be praying “FOR” people. And we need to be praying with GREAT CONFIDENCE! We need the mustard seed kind of faith–faith that, be it ever so small, never loses confidence in God to heal, restore, and renew! Sure, there are some things that you need to see it before you believe it. Admit it, we could all have familial roots somewhere in Missouri.

But when it comes to prayer–the kind of prayers that honor God, restore people, changes the course of human history–You Have To Believe It Before You Can See It! Now, go back to that mirror and say this: “Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14 NLT) Once you’ve done this, do it again–but say it this way:

If I, who say I am a Christian, will stop being who I want to be and become who I ought to be, and confidently pray, seeking HIS desires and heart, and give up my own sinfulness to walk more closely with Jesus, then HE will forgive MY sins, and bring a revival to our times, the likes of which have never been see!

Pray with the attitude and heart that God is moving to heal and restore. Pray in confidence that transformation will happen. Think about that moment when those Disciples of Jesus failed to drive out that demon (see Mark 9). When they asked Jesus why they failed, remember His answer–and it’s the same answer to our prayer problem. “It can only happen through prayer and fasting!” And remember, fasting doesn’t mean just abstaining from food–it’s about giving up something we have or want and accepting what God offers. I heard a new song (to me, anyways) called “When We Pray” by Tauren Wells. The line that grabbed me and shook me hard (and thus led to this edition of my thoughts and heart) is this one: “But what if we could be a people on our knees, as one before the King, ’cause we believe. All the world starts changing, when the church starts praying. Stongholds start to break. Oh, when we pray!” Maybe you need to see and hear the whole song:

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!

NEW YEAR’S EVE 2021

Today is New Year’s Eve 2021. If you look at calendars, there are only two days with that designation of “Eve”–Christmas and New Year. There is no Thanksgiving Eve, Valentine’s Day Eve, St. Patrick’s Day Eve, Mother’s Day Eve, Father’s Day Eve–nope it’s not on the calendar. Never has been, and probably never will be. But today is one of two days designated as “Eve”. Look at the picture above and definition number two: the period preceding or leading up to any event. Let’s take a deep dive into the idea of an Eve.

Are you excited that this is New Year’s Eve? This morning I was thinking about other New Year’s Days. Specifically 2019–I mean who could have imagined what 2020 was going to bring? Church sanctuaries were closed. Businesses considered non-essential were closed. Stores had limited capacities. Us preachers unfamiliar with live-stream learned how to use Facebook Live (and I still use it). We had to purchase equipment to enable us to do drive-in church. People who were in the hospitals and nursing homes were denied visitors. And so much more. Then New Year’s Day 2021 shows up–and while some of the restrictions have been lifted–this ain’t been a glorious year for most.

But we’re talking about 2022. Are you excited about 2022? Today I am truly excited for several reasons. I don’t have to worry about a ruptured appendix, that happened in 2020. I am excited that today THE University of Alabama (Roll Tide!) will be playing in the Semi-Final for another National Championship (Roll Tide)! Yes, I get excited over certain things. Don’t you think Jesus was excited at the home of Zacchaeus when He said, “Salvation has arrived in this home!” Personally, I think Jesus was shouting at the top of His lungs! If your image of Jesus saying that is one of a solemn face and monotone voice–you need a different Jesus.

Every morning is an Eve–leading up to some event! And I believe this event is the Eve of God pouring out the fires of Revival across our nation and around the world! Why would I believe such a thing with the ways things are? Because I’m not looking at the way things are–I’m seeing them the way that God wants them to be. Each morning is The Eve Of God Doing Great Things In Hearts And Lives! See, there are more than 2 eves–every morning has both the potential and very real possibility to be a life-transforming day for us and everyone else. It’s there–we just need to recognize it.

When we get excited about the movement of The Holy Spirit–before we ever see it–we call that Faith! Faith isn’t about WHAT we see–but WHO we see! Today is the Eve of God doing what Paul said God does in 2 Corinthians Chapter 5 Verse 17 from The Message–Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life emerges! Did you see that word anyone? Anyone means anyone. Isn’t it exciting to see new life emerge? In just a very few weeks a new life will emerge in our family–our first great-grandchild! He’s going through a process, as is his Mommy. It’s not always been pleasant–and the delivery won’t be easy. But all of us will be so very excited about this precious wonderful new life! Will you get excited each morning knowing that this moment is the EVE of God bringing another Great Awakening? I’m excited! If you’re not, then you’ve got a serious problem. Now if you will excuse me, I’ve got some exciting things to do before Kickoff! And Roll Tide! Oh, here’s a song to help your mindset in the right place on this and every following Eve!

Why?

Why? That’s the question asked by adolescents and teenagers when they are told they can’t have or can’t do what they want. If you are the parent or guardian of one of these blessed creatures, it can be very annoying at times. We often wish they would quit asking that question so that we could quit saying “Because I told you NO!” But it’s not just kids that ask that question. In case you haven’t noticed, adults ask this question also.

This question, though annoying, can become a gateway to something far richer, and take us deeper than we could imagine. I have a very good friend and brother who doesn’t like Christmas. What? One of you just asked: “WHY?” See? What did I tell you! Adults ask that question also! The reason my brother in Christ doesn’t like Christmas is because of how he sees and understands it. He always points out that pagan festivals and rituals are the sources of Christmas. There’s nothing in the New Testament that tells us we should celebrate Christmas. And that we should have no fellowship with the things of darkness. He makes a very logical argument, humanly speaking.

And if this is WHY we celebrate Christmas, then his logical conclusion makes sense. IF you make Christmas all about what you WANT for Christmas–lavishing gifts upon each other and maxing out those credit cards, he’s right. IF you make Christmas all about the parties, and gatherings, and dinners, and decorations, and family gatherings, then again, he’s right. And if we are celebrating Christmas JUST BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT WE DO, once again my friend is correct.

He even points out that December 25 wasn’t when Jesus was born–backed up by historical dating. Now, on this point, we clearly agree. Lots of folks believe, based on our current calendar system, that Jesus was born on December 25, 1 A.D. That’s a misnomer. It is more likely, based on our current calendar, that He was born around 3 or 4 B.C. What did you just say? “How can that be? B.C. means before Christ!” However, calendars are a human invention, and early on mistakes were made. Yes, Virginia, humans make mistakes! And now let’s circle back to my original question.

Why celebrate Christmas? I will answer this question by sharing why I celebrate Christmas. I celebrate Christmas because of the wildly, unimaginable truth that God, the God of Creation, the One and Only True God, the God of all Eternity, stepped in His Creation as one of those He created! He Became Flesh And Blood! In Eternity He had no limitations. As flesh and blood, He was bound by our limitations! For example–you schedule your Christmas Activities based on the reality that you can only be in one place at a time. You can’t be in 2 places at once.

In eternity, Jesus was in a gazillion places at once. But in our flesh and blood? Only one place at a time! Wow! Talk about experiencing limitations! Though that famous song declares “No crying He makes”–it ain’t true. One of the things all babies do is cry. Jesus, in our flesh and blood, as a baby experienced hunger. What babies don’t get hungry? In our flesh and blood, Jesus peed and pooped in his diaper. Joseph and Mary had to potty train Jesus. Jesus had to learn how to crawl. Jesus, the Eternal Word, had to learn how to talk. Jesus had to learn how to walk. Jesus, as that toddler, was told NO by Joseph and Mary when He reached out to touch that lighted lamp. As that child, Jesus experienced falls that resulted in scraped knees and bruises.

This is why I celebrate Christmas–because Jesus became flesh and blood, did all of that and more, for sinners like ME! Without the birth, there would have been no Death. Without the Death, there would have been no Resurrection. Without the Resurrection, there would be no hope for my redemption. The path for my redemption began when The Son of God left Eternity and became the fertilized egg in Mary’s womb. And when I think of this happening, I experience great joy and hope and love!

May this be your reason to celebrate Christmas–remembering that in an instant moment, Jesus left Heaven to look for us–by becoming one of us! And if you cannot see that as a reason to celebrate–then maybe you need to rethink what this Season is all about. It’s all about God setting out in search for sinners like me! So, I celebrate! Will you?

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!

What’s Your Motto?

  • Just Do It
  • A Diamond is Forever
  • When you care enough to send the very best
  • I’d walk a mile for a Camel
  • Quality never goes out of style
  • Finger Lickin’ Good
  • With a name like Smucker’s, it has to be good
  • Snap, Crackle and Pop!
  • So easy, a caveman can do it
  • The Relentless Pursuit of Perfection
  • The Ultimate Driving Machine
  • The Quicker Picker Upper
  • We Bring Good Things to Life
  • The King of Beers
  • Fly the friendly skies
  • Because You’re Worth It
  • Let’s Go Places
  • Have It Your Way
  • I’m Lovin’ It
  • Betcha can’t eat just one!
  • When it rains, it pours
  • Taste the Rainbow
  • What Happens Here, Stays Here
  • When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight

Mottos! Yep! That’s what’s stirring up my gray matter this morning. When it comes to advertising–a great motto helps consumers to remember their product. So, what is YOUR motto? To help you tell me yours, I’ll tell you one of mine: “If you don’t like my sarcasm, don’t ask me stupid questions!”

Even our good old U.S. of A. has a motto: In God We Trust! The thing about mottos is that you gotta back it up–otherwise people just ignore or forget it. Unfortunately, with my aforementioned motto–I back it up with a healthy, sometimes an over-abundance of sarcasm. But that motto on all our currency? That thing about Trust In God? Not a good motto in these times–because it’s not backed up with action.

Before you start ranting and raving about the nefarious cesspool otherwise known as Washington D.C., know I’m not talking about that ash heap. This morning I am talking only to those who self-identify as Christian. I still remember decades ago getting emails about how Madeline O’Hare was going to the Supreme Court in an attempt to get In God We Trust removed from our currency. Now, I would have bought a plane ticket to see that, seeing she had been dead for years!

Christians want it on our currency–but it would be far better for them, for our nation, and for our world if it was just removed from the currency! There, I said it! But before you stop reading this morning’s pensiveness, read what is next. It would be far better for us, for our nation, and for our world if you have a motto that you embody with your attitudes, words, thoughts, and actions.

Yes! we need to Trust In God That’s a no-brainer! But more than saying we need to Trust In God, we need a motto that shows how much we Trust In God! Forget putting it on currency and government seals. Let’s put a new motto on our ordinary, going here and there, doing this and that life. And maybe it’s time I, too, changed my personal motto to one that better suits what God is doing in my life. So, what should it be, America? Hey! I have an idea. What about this one?

For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:13 (NLT)

If we adopt this as our motto it means we would have to stop looking at political parties, the hollow (and I do mean hollow, not hallowed! I said what I meant, and I meant what I said!) halls of academia, and even ourselves in order to see a real transformation in our times; and really live through the strength of Jesus! How strong is Jesus? He carried the weight of all our sins while hanging on the Cross. And somehow, as strange as it may sound to some, I believe Jesus will strengthen us to be a light that brings hope to the hopeless. Call me crazy! You won’t be the first, and I dare say, you won’t be the last!

It’s Gonna Be Alright!

How many times has this phrase been spoken–spoken BY those who think that it’s NOT gonna be alright–spoken TO those who believe it’s NOT gonna be alright? If you watch and listen to the talking heads that are called news reporters, then it’s NOT gonna be alright! Right? Think about it, if you can without getting a headache or wanting a giant bottle of wine or several shots of bourbon.

Vaccine Mandates. Rising cost of fuel. Inflationary prices at the grocery store. Shortages of needed items. The senseless acts of one human being killing another human being. The disrespect of law and order. This total disregard for the value of human life; otherwise known as abortion. The tornado of distrust between people. The decisions that call right wrong and wrong right. The cost of housing. Chaos ruling in the places that should be leading the people. The antagonism. The maleficence. The profligacy. See? If that’s what we think and believe–then AW’ HECK NO, EVERYTHING’S NOT GONNA BE ALRIGHT!

But it is–if you know The Truth. The old series “The X Files” character Fox Mulder was right–The Truth Is Out There! Yes, it’s stormy out there right now. Not just in the news, but maybe in your life you are facing a crisis–heck–you are in a full-blown category 5 hurricane crisis–but it is gonna be alright! If–I said IF you are anchored in the right place–and anchored to the right person!

You will not find that place, nor know that Person by watching the news or trusting political parties. The Place where everything is gonna be alright is in the arms of our Heavenly Father. That Person is none other than the Son of our Heavenly Father, Jesus! And it doesn’t matter the least little bit what you’ve done or where you’ve been. The Place and That Person is waiting, waiting for you to surrender your life completely to Him. Give God permission to take over–take over everything–including the things, especially the things–that are causing you to believe it ain’t gonna be alright!

This isn’t preacher-talk. It’s God’s promise to you–to anyone and everyone. This comes from Philippians 1:6–And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. I personally needed this reminder this morning. Maybe you do, too. I was reminded this morning through this song:

When It’s Dark

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

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

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

Second, remember your destination. Your destination is more than heaven. Your destination is to become exactly like Jesus, the image you were created in. And for this remember Philippians 1:6–“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Every day so far, God has been at work in you. And even when it seems so dark outside, God is still at work!

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

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

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

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)

Are You A Walker Or A Runner?

This morning I was thinking about THE Resurrection–the one Jesus had. I love all the different stories the Gospel writers shared about that unbelievable day. What? What do you mean it’s not Easter? Since when are The Resurrection Stories JUST for a day marked on the calendar? The Resurrection is a story for any day–every day–especially today. After all, who among us doesn’t need something Resurrected inside us? Any who–I was thinking about Cleopas and his unnamed companion. (You can find this Resurrection Story in Luke chapter 24.)

There are so many rich moments in their encounter with the Risen Lord. But what sparked my imagination is what they were doing BEFORE and AFTER they encountered Jesus. Has your imagination been sparked by this? If not, maybe you need an imagination defibrillator. Look at that story! Before they encountered the Risen Lord, they were Walking. After that transforming encounter they were Running! See the difference? OK, I’ll explain a little more.

They were Walking back to their little obscure village of Emmaus. More than Walking back TO Emmaus, they were Walking Away FROM their hopes and dreams. They had hoped that Jesus was The Messiah. But those events that just happened were interpreted by them to be the end of that hope. Have you ever Walked Away from some hope? Some dream? Some great and noble desire? That is exactly where Cleopas and his unnamed friend were going. Walking Away from hope is a gruesome feeling of anguish that knocks us down and takes the breath away.

But on that Resurrection Day, there’s more to their story. After–I said AFTER–their encounter with the Risen Lord, they were RUNNING! They weren’t Running in just any direction. They were Running BACK to the place where they thought their dreams had ended! That memory of the horrid crucifixion that had them Walking away from–was transformed by the opulent encounter with the One who owns The Resurrection! In that moment, Jesus shared His Resurrection with those who needed a Personal Resurrection!

Now can you see the difference? Hopefully so. I see a lot of Walkers today; but not very many Runners. Walkers are those who have given hope that things will ever change. All they see are the loathsome things that is driving out culture into the ground. And conclude that there is no hope, so they Walk away. But Runners are those who have encountered the Risen Lord and have experienced a Resurrection themselves. And that Resurrection has inspired them to RUN into the places of despair with the confidence that the power of the Resurrection will happen there as well. Remember, Jesus’ Resurrection happened in a cemetery.

Now–about you! Are you a Walker, one who has given up and Walking Away from life? Or are you a Runner, one who cannot wait–will not delay–in sharing the Power of The Resurrection with those who need that Resurrection? Your choice. May your choice be to be a Runner!

When You Can Feel Something’s Wrong

Yesterday, Monday, September 27 is prompting today’s thoughts. More than just thoughts, it’s been and continues to be a journey. To tell the story I need to go back to June of this year. My wife, Debbie, had her annual mammogram. The report came back all clear. That’s good news, right? But remember, I’m telling the story of a journey.

About 3 weeks ago Debbie felt something in her right breast that just wasn’t right. I could feel it, too. She calls our family practice, and the nurse practitioner agreed. Since it had not been that long since her mammogram, she ordered an ultrasound. The ultrasound confirmed what the Nurse Practitioner, myself, and Debbie already knew that there was some type of cyst present in her right breast. The radiologist report was to come back in 6 months to see if it had grown any. That advice certainly didn’t feel right.

She scheduled an appointment with a local surgeon for another “opinion”. Dr. Evans agreed that 6 months was too long for a just “wait and see” conclusion. He attempted 2 needle biopsies but could not draw any fluid from it. So yesterday, Monday, September 27, we went to the hospital for surgery. Everything went good and Dr. Evans was able to remove it, along with some tissue around the lump. He sent it off for a pathologist to carefully examine it. Now we wait for the pathology report.

Now Dr. Evans doesn’t think it’s cancer–nonetheless–sent it off for to pathology to do their thing. The pathologist will determine the nature of what we could feel was wrong by carefully examining deep inside that lump. The radiologist could only “think” it isn’t cancer. Dr. Evans, based on experiences, can only give his personal opinion. But that pathologist? They will know for certain! And that is what Debbie and I need in this season.

And this morning I am realizing how this “journey” is comparable to the spiritual journey we are all on. There are times when something is wrong with our body and our spirit–and we just can’t feel it. But other times, we know something doesn’t feel right deep inside our heart, mind, and soul. So what is going to be our response to this “it just doesn’t feel right” moment?

Well, you could take that radiologist’s guidance to “wait 6 months and see what happens”? And truth be told–sometimes that’s the advice other people will give us. But when something deep down inside us doesn’t feel right–when there’s something that shows up even though life has been going well, we need to know exactly what it is. It may not be anything–but then again–it may be. Ignoring it will not make it go away. Delaying the finding out will only make it worse. The sooner that “foreign object” is removed and identified, the better the outcome.

One opinion did not suffice for Debbie nor myself. That opinion did not suffice for Dana, our Nurse Practitioner. And it did not suffice for our surgeon, Dr. Evans. We all need to hear the full report from the pathologist. And when it’s about our spiritual journey? Go to the one who told Samuel in his quest for a new king, “Stop looking at the outside because I’m looking at the inside!” And even if you feel it’s not “safe” to bring what doesn’t feel right to God, remember this:

The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
    His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
    his mercies begin afresh each morning.

Lamentations 3:22-23

God is able and willing to handle all those things that just doesn’t feel right. He alone is able to get to the core of everything–to remove from inside of us the things that don’t belong–to heal us–and to restore us. Debbie and I will not know the pathology report until Friday, but we know who holds Friday in His hands–and He holds us in His hands.

Oh, one more thing–October is almost here and October is

Sow What?

Image from Humintech

The title is not a typographical error nor is it an example of using a wrong word that sounds like another word. The word is: Sow! Early this morning, while it is still dark, I was wondering what to write about today. And there wasn’t any idea floating around in my gray matter. Then it hit me! Not an idea! But a pain–a pain caused by yesterday’s activity.

Rain was coming, and I needed to get a green field planted for the upcoming deer season. I do not have a tractor–but I do have a tiller and hand tools. I loaded up the tiller, fertilizer, and seeds and off I went. I tilled up the soil, fertilized it, tilled it again, then planted the seeds. Not just one kind–but a variety of seeds. Oats. Winter Wheat. Rye grass. A variety of clover. And turnip greens.

Though the air temperature wasn’t all that bad yesterday, we did have typical Alabama humidity of somewhere around 110-125%. There were more than a few moments when I just wanted to stop and wait until another day to finish this project. But I set myself a goal–and I completed it. And now my bones, joints, and muscles ache–oh, brother do they ache! But it did get me to thinking–about Sowing Seeds as well as the end results.

Why plant such a variety of seeds? I want the deer to see a smorgasbord of great and wonderful things to eat–things that are proven they like to eat. I want to attract them in–so why plant anything they won’t eat? And what does all this have to do with Kingdom Living? This is what.

Every moment of every day every person is sowing seeds of some type. And those seeds will produce something that will either attract or repel. You can’t plant saw briars and hope to produce roses.

Even The Bible teaches this horticultural principle. Look at Galatians 6:6-7 (NLT)“Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.” Many people are sowing seeds of:

  • Anger
  • Apathy
  • Resentment
  • Bitterness
  • Rage
  • Prejudice
  • Hate
  • Malice
  • Selfishness
  • Fear
  • Doubt
  • Mistrust
  • ad infinitum
  • ad nauseam

Just look around! Watch the news! Listen to people talk! Such seeds as the aforementioned are growing everywhere. They repel people. They are repulsive and destructive. The fields look like kudzu patches–choking the life out of anyone and everyone. It’s not surprising to see what grows from such sowing. It’s that horticultural principle–sow seeds, add nutrients and water–and they grow into their nature. You can’t plant spinach seeds and expect to see watermelons.

But here’s the thing. There are a lot more varieties of seeds that can be planted, other than the aforementioned list. And these seeds live by the very same horticultural principles. Humor me with a few examples:

  • Kindness
  • Graciousness
  • Helpfulness
  • Mercifulness
  • Love
  • Tenderness
  • Compassion
  • Empathy
  • Forgiveness
  • Patience
  • Peacefulness
  • Hopefulness
  • Faithfulness
  • Joyfulness
  • Sincerity
  • Genuineness
  • Truthfulness
  • Honesty
  • Selflessness
  • And so many more wonderful seeds!

These types of seeds are far more attractive than repulsive. These types of seeds come from Jesus Christ. And Jesus promised that if He was lifted up, people would come to Him. I want to close out with a word to those who think they are or self-identify as “Christians”. Make sure the seeds you are sowing are the seeds that produce the character of Jesus. When Jesus was walking in the midst of His creation as one He created, sinful, messy, broken people were attracted to Him. Religious folks, not so much–with a few exceptions. There’s another verse in Galatians 6 related to sowing. Verse 9: “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”

After 4 hours of working on my greenfield, I was giving serious contemplation to giving up. But I let the thought of what it will produce override my pitiful desire to quit. So, what are you sowing today?

Emptiness, Frivolousness, Measliness, Paltriness, and Triviality

I chuckle a bit when looking at the above image. One would have to be an electrician or electrical engineer to get it–I’m neither, but I get it. It’s the symbol for resistance. So, it means Resistance Is Futile! And in case you were wondering about the title of today’s musings–they are synonyms for Futility! Today’s culture has many issues; even more problems. Among those is Futility; more accurately–the failure to recognize Futility.

Allow me to share what a certain author once wrote. This particular author had the means to do anything he wanted–without anyone telling him he couldn’t. Ever imagine winning the biggest lottery and what all you would do? This author lived his life doing anything and everything he wanted. And after the fact–he writes with brutal honesty about that experience. Here is what he had to say:

“Everything is meaningless, completely meaningless!  What do people get for all their hard work under the sun?  Generations come and generations go, but the earth never changes.  The sun rises and the sun sets, then hurries around to rise again.  The wind blows south, and then turns north.  Around and around it goes, blowing in circles.  Rivers run into the sea, but the sea is never full. Then the water returns again to the rivers and flows out again to the sea. Everything is wearisome beyond description.  No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content.  History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before.  Nothing under the sun is truly new.  Sometimes people say, “Here is something new!”  But actually it is old; nothing is ever truly new.  We don’t remember what happened in the past, and in future generations, no one will remember what we are doing now.” A few lines later, he adds this: “But I learned firsthand that pursuing all this is like chasing the wind.”

Do these words sound like a cynic? Do these words sound like what is in your own heart, but you are either too stubborn to admit it; or too afraid? Our culture is that proverbial hamster on a wheel. Running as fast and as hard as we can, spinning that wheel, but going and getting nowhere. People try and try to make their own way work. They live by the opinions of others. They live by their feelings. And they live by their own sincere beliefs–be they ever so ineffective. No wonder there is so much hate, frustration, anger, distrust, resentment, and yes–Futility.

It’s going to take more than getting the hamster off the proverbial wheel. When the hamster gets off that wheel, he’s still in a cage–imprisoned. So he gets right back on that wheel hoping it will free him from his prison. So he runs a little faster; tries a little longer; hopes a little more. And when he finally gets too tired to run anymore, he’s still in that cage. Rest a moment, then try again. Rest again. Try again. Listen again to the thoughts of the aforementioned author: The wind blows south, and then turns north.  Around and around it goes, blowing in circles. And the resulting sensation after all this? Try these words on for size: Everything is wearisome beyond description.

If you listen very carefully you will hear that Sigh Of Futility when we writes: Everything is wearisome beyond description.  No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content.  History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before.  Nothing under the sun is truly new. Is that how the world looks to you? Is that how you feel about your life? Sounds like he wrote this just this morning.

Oh, would you like to know the name of this book and the author? Get your pen and paper; write it down so you can get on Amazon and order the correct book. Here it is: Ecclesiastes is the book and the author is King Solomon. And to think, some believe the Bible isn’t relevant for what we are face any and every day. Granted, this all sounds like doom and gloom–because it is. Without understand the Key to what he writes, it seems like we should all give up and live in loud desperation.

I am thankful to Chuck Swindoll for helping me see and understand exactly what Solomon is writing about. I give credit where the credit is due. The key phrase that makes sense of all this Everything is meaningless, completely meaningless” wretchedness is this repeated phrase: UNDER THE SUN! It comes from living a life completely detached from God–the God revealed in the Bible through The SON.

Life without surrendering to God always feels like, using Solomon’s image, we are chasing the wind. Chasing the wind only gets us winded–and gives us that tsunami of Futility. The Futility of life without The SON isn’t God punishing us for ignoring Him. It’s the reality of life without the Lordship of Jesus over us–how we think, what we say, and what we do. It one of those moments of true cause and effect. Until we quit living under the sun and start living under the SON we will be plagued by Emptiness, Frivolousness, Measliness, Paltriness, and Triviality–which means Futility!

And if you doubt this Wise Man’s opening remarks, then listen to this: “We all come to the end of our lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day we were born. We can’t take our riches with us.  And this, too, is a very serious problem. People leave this world no better off than when they came. All their hard work is for nothing—like working for the wind. Throughout their lives, they live under a cloud—frustrated, discouraged, and angry.” Futility ends when we kneel at the Cross and surrender everything under the sun and begin living life under the Kind Rule of The Son!

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!

Apparently There Is!

Listen to the talk at the hair stylist or barber shop. Apparently there is. Listen to the conversations in the break room. Apparently there is. Sit down at the local liars table at the diner or fast food joint. Apparently there is. Listen to the words just about anywhere there are 2 or more people (yes, this includes the local church). Apparently there is. Someone reading this is thinking right now, “What is he talking about? A boatload of hopelessness? A superabundance of stupidity?” While this may seem to be true, it’s not what’s bouncing around in my mind–and my heart. It’s the answer to this question found in The Bible–a couple of times.

Is anything too hard for the Lord?

Genesis 18:14 (NLT)

Apparently it’s too hard for The Lord to change, much less use, the POTUS. Apparently it’s too hard for The Lord to change our culture. Apparently it’s too hard for The Lord to change Washington D.C. Apparently it’s too hard for The Lord to change the hearts and minds of millennials. Apparently it’s too hard for The Lord to change the hearts of the mega-rich. Apparently it’s too hard for The Lord to change pastors. Apparently it’s too hard for The Lord to change how businesses do business. I would expect to hear such things from those who are not Followers And Disciples Of Jesus. They just don’t know what The Lord can do.

But to hear this kind of balderdash and blather from those who call themselves “Christians”? Well, just call me Popeye!

If your “god” can’t use someone like President Biden. If your “god” can’t use someone like Nancy Pelosi. If your “god” can’t use someone like that discombobulation called The House of Representatives and The Senate. If your “god” can’t use someone like millennials. If your “god” can’t use someone like _________________ (fill in the blank of the stupidest person or group you know), then your “god” is way to small–and you need to change to a different “God”!

So, what if–I’m only talking to those who self-identify as Christian–instead of complaining, whining, griping, and yammering about all those “other people”, you begin praying FOR THEM rather than YALPING AGAINST THEM? What if you prayed for the peace of our nation? What if you prayed for those people to have wisdom? What if you used all that time spent bellyaching and sniveling to ask God to help them? Oh! One more thing! Make that TWO more things! What if you became the change you want to see in others? What if you became the model of HOPE rather than hopelessness?

If an old woman and an old man could have a child way beyond those child bearing years–and they did–can you imagine what WILL happen when we believe, act like, talk like, LIVE LIKE nothing is too hard for The Lord? This isn’t easy; I know! Even Jesus understood our tendency to believe more in the impossible rather than in GOD’S POSSIBLE!

Jesus answered, “What is humanly impossible is possible for God.”

(Luke 18:27 GNT)

You simply cannot be a follower of Jesus, if anything–I said ANYTHING (remember Popeye’s motto) is too hard for The Lord! If it is too hard, then, in the enduring words of the classic book by J.B. Phillips, Your God Is Too Small! And that makes YOU the real problem, not those people!

Today’s Forecast For You

Used car salespeople. Politicians. Late night infomercial hucksters. Major news outlets. Weather forecasters. What do the aforementioned persons have in common? They are capricious and dubious at best–especially the last one. I remember in 2014, I was living in metro Birmingham. There was snow in the forecast–but all the local forecasters said it would all be south of us and for us not to worry. That should have set off alarms! Our vacuous and insipid state highway department sent all their equipment to where the weather forecasters said it would snow. Not long after midday, metro Birmingham was turned into the world’s largest parking lot.

And yesterday. Here in lovely Mount Vernon, we are in a dry spell–very dry spell. Yesterday’s forecast, by these alleged experts, were only predicting a less that 20% chance of rain. So our expectations were another dry and very hot day. However, despite the forecast, we GOT RAIN! Six-tenths of an inch, Praise God! So where am I going with this rant against forecasters?

I can’t help but wonder how many people are getting their–call it Life Forecast–from unreliable sources? “They” say “There’s not a snowball’s chance in you know where you could ever do that!” They give up and capitulate that their life will ever change. They life in subjugation to a Life Forecast that crushes their hope and thus–live in defeasance to a Life Forecast that is inaccurate–like yesterday’s weather forecast.

When you are leaning towards and into that dark abrogation of the life you were created for–remember Abram and Sarai. This was their names before God changed their future. Before Isaac was born–God changed their name to reflect a new future. From now on, they would be known as Abraham and Sarah. The change happened before the reality of The Promise.

A short time later, Abraham received some visitors (sent from Heaven by God) with an important announcement: You are Sarah will have a son! Both are past their prime and the Life Forecast for them was they were too old to have children. When Sarah overheard the conversation she laughed–she believed the wrong Life Forecast! And my last word to you today is what God’s Messenger asked:

“Is anything too hard for the Lord?”

Genesis 18:14 (NLT)

It may seem too hard to your Life Forecasters to see a different future for you. But it’s not too hard for God!

The Eyes Have It

Good morning! It was William Shakespeare who wrote “The eyes are the windows to the soul.” Maybe so if one is looking from the outside in. But eyes are designed to look outward. . .provided they are functioning as they should–which leads me to this morning’s reflections.

Since the seventh grade, I wear glasses–if you haven’t done the math, that’s 53 years. Other than that, and cataract surgery a few years ago, they have served me well. . .until recently. For the past several years I’ve noticed these things called “floaters”. At first I thought I was swatting at a gnat. My previous optometrist informed me that it was just little bits of something in the vitreous fluid in my eyes, and were common with people of a certain age. Oh, God, how I hate that term!

Here’s the thing about those floaters, I don’t notice them until I do notice them–and then they keep hanging around–until I forget about them. They are still there, I just don’t notice them. Well, a couple of weeks ago I went to a new optometrist since my old one was a couple of hours away. After he dilated them, he spent a lot of time–I mean a LOT of time–looking into what Shakespeare called the windows to the soul. It was more time than I thought he needed.

He then showed me something abnormal about my eyes–in particular–in the back of my eyes–left and right. There was a bulging at the back. It wasn’t a detached retina–Praise God!–but, it was something that concerned him, and told me I needed to see a specialist to see if my eyes needed surgery to fix and prevent future problems. I could say I didn’t have a clue about this condition–but I remember a few months ago having this sharp pain behind my eyes–but passed it off as a sinus headache–something I have from time to time.

So, this morning at 8:15 CDT I will see the doctor for a further diagnosis. I want to say I’m not concerned–but we are talking about MY eyes and MY future vision. But then I remember the prolific hymn writer Fanny Crosby who wrote tons of hymns about the glory of God–though she was blind. So, I’m thinking to myself, “Self, what’s your issue? If Fanny could see God’s glory though she was “blind”, you need to keep your eyes on Jesus.”

And here’s my point for today. Whatever comes your way in life, keep your eyes, your spiritual eyes, on Jesus. The Bible has something to say about this. It comes in Hebrews chapter 12–right after that long list of people who experienced many difficulties but maintained their faith. Verses 1 and 2:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.  We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. 

Hebrews 12:1-2 (NLT)

When life throws you a curve ball or a change-up, just keep your eyes on Jesus–like Fanny Crosby did. And everything will ultimately be good–God promises us this. I will SEE all of you tomorrow!

Slip And Fall

Have your feet ever slipped out from under you? Maybe ice was the culprit; or maybe it was snow; or perhaps water on the floor; or like me, maybe it was mud. I’ve slipped more times that Carter has little pills (maybe you have to be from the South to understand this analogy). About 2 months or so before the slip and fall I’m thinking about right now I had shoulder surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff and move a large bone spur. One particular Saturday my wife Debbie wasn’t around–and the leaves in the back yard were taunting me.

So I did what I had no business doing–I grabbed my leaf blower and went to work. I was blowing them into an old pond but the pile got so big, I need a rake to finish the job. I got the rake and went to work. I got to the edge of that old pond (there wasn’t much water in it) and carefully–I said CAREFULLY–began raking the leaves into that old pond. Then it happened! Between the leaves and the mud, my feet refused to stay underneath me and down I went.

I was younger back then, so in an instant, quick as a flash, I extended my arms including the left one which had the aforementioned surgery. I don’t know why we do that–I mean–extending the arms as if they would soften the landing. Get the picture? Both arms experienced Newton’s Third Law. Something popped in that left shoulder–and the pain could be described as. . .well, it can’t be described. And almost as quick as the extension of my arms, I looked around to see if anyone saw me. Why do we do that? No one saw me fall, and through the mega voltage of pain in my shoulder, I was thankful no one did.

There’s another kind of “slipping” that is far worse. It’s when we spiritually slip and fall. We do the same things as in a physical fall–we extend our arms hoping to soften the landing (it doesn’t help) and look to see if anyone saw us fall. In spite of our best intentions as a follower of Jesus, sometimes we slip and fall–and hope no one saw or heard us. But God both saw and heard. The last one we wanted to see us fall, saw it all.

So what can we do as followers and disciples of Jesus? We have a choice. We can do a Simon Peter. . .or we can do a Judas. Remember Peter denied Jesus and Judas betrayed Jesus–neither men were “less” sinful than the other. If we ever fall (we call that sin), the choice is ours. We can put ourselves back in the presence of Jesus–or we can completely avoid His Presence. Peter was restored, but Judas wasn’t–but he could have been.

I call your attention to a particular passage of Scripture to remember when you fall. I’ve used it numerous times and can testify that it works! It’s found in 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.” God sees us every time we fall. So, instead of looking around the next time you fall, look up. Own your mess. Tell God you were wrong–and that you want to change. And HE will be faithful to forgive you and help you back up again!

7 Things God Finds Disgusting: Hands That Kill The Innocent

1There are six things the Lord hates—
    no, seven things he detests:
17 . . .hands that kill the innocent,

Proverbs 6:16-17 NLT

If you have been following this thread, perhaps you are thinking, “Well, I may have disgusted God with the first two, but I’m free and clear on this one.” Oh, really?

OK, so maybe you haven’t taken a knife and eviscerated someone; or a club and bashed in someone’s skull; or a gun and dispatched them to the Almighty. This view is a frivolous and perfunctory treatment of Solomon’s words. You need to go deeper–but I warn you–it might hurt.

The Hebrew word is  shâphak, it means to spill forth (blood, a libation, liquid metal; or even a solid, i.e. to mound up); also (figuratively) to expend, gush out, to pour out. Still think you’re innocent of this disgusting act? There are more ways to kill someone other than taking away their life.

If you crush another person’s dream–Disgusting! If you take away their hope–Disgusting! If you diminish their worth as a human being through criticism or condemnation–Disgusting! If you quickly point out another’s shortcomings–Disgusting! If you laugh at another person’s tragedy or pain–Disgusting! If you talk at someone like they are dumb or stupid–Disgusting!

Oh, no! One of you just thought: “But that talks about blood! Where’s the blood in what you just described?” There is more to human life than literal blood flowing through the veins and arteries. We all have hopes, dreams, plans, and goals. To take these things away from another person–well–It’s Disgusting To God!

The Rich Lighter Life!

I have no clue as to what you are thinking about today’s Title: The Rich Lighter Life! Maybe you thought about a gold plated with diamonds Zippo lighter. Nope, that’s not it. Unless you are from the country, you may not know what Rich Lighter is. Well, I’m from the country. In fact, a friend posted one of those “tests” to see how “country” you are. Out of a possible high score of 30, I scored 28. I could have scored 29 but I have never touched an electric fence. I’m not as dumb as I act.

As you may know now, Debbie and I are on our annual spiritual retreat to the Smoky Mountains. We rent a cabin for a week and only venture out once, twice at the most. The remainder of our time is spent here in this cabin. This particular cabin has a wood burning fire place. Being winter and all, I decide to pack some fire wood to enjoy the fireplace. You know that to have a fire in the fire place, one needs something to start the fire. I could have cheated and went to WalMart and purchased those neat little fire starters. But remember, I’m a country boy.

Before we left I went just to the edge of the woods surrounding our home and found some Rich Lighter. Researching for this post I discovered that some call it Fatwood. When a pine tree is either cut or is knocked over when it is alive, it is filled with sap. The sap, or resin if you prefer, trapped in the stump becomes hard over time. This sap contains  terpene, a volatile hydrocarbon. I know you are not wanting a lesson in organic chemistry, so I will get to the point.

This hardened resin is very flammable. With just a small handful of Rich Lighter, one can easily start a fire. I put some newspaper in the fireplace, added my Rich Lighter, then the kindling and the wood and lit the newspaper. The picture above is the results of my endeavors. And to show you how little it takes, the picture below is how much I used. The Alabama Crimson Tide mug is symbolic of the power of Rich Lighter:

The Holy Spirit prompted me to do some thinking about Rich Lighter and fire places. The question many folks are asking, especially “church folks” is, “What is it going to take to change our churches, our communities, our nation, our world? Things are out of control!” It’s a great question to ask–IF–you are willing to dig deep for the answer. Asking the question in the expectation of someone else answering it is futile, ineffective, and fruitless. Nothing CAN change unless one knows the answer–and I found the answer in a handful of Rich Lighter.

What’s the answer to this “burning” question? YOU! That’s right, YOU! You may be thinking, probably ARE thinking, “How can I change what’s happening in Washington D.C.? How can I end domestic violence? How can I feed all those hungry families? How can I get people to listen and respect each other? How can I keep our church from closing its doors? How can I help people imprisoned by addictions? How can I do this in a way that really makes a difference? It’s really simple, folks. Remember my handful of Rich Lighter.

Just as a roaring fire can happen in a fireplace with just a handful of Rich Lighter, people, places, and situations change–just one person at a time. And YOU are the person that will start that Fire that will bring lasting change. It’s just that simple–not easy–but simple. Decades ago Kirk Kaiser wrote a song that I still sing today. The name of it is Pass It On. The first time I heard it was in 1971. It was a Sunday night Youth Service. I knew God was calling me into a relationship with Him. But I fought it off by holding on to the oak pew in front of me. I held on so tight I know that my fingerprints are permanently embedded in that pew at Green’s Chapel. That’s what it took for me to resist God’s Grace. And I succeeded. But, a little over a year later, in not so dramatic a moment, I finally surrendered to His Grace. And as the saying goes, “The Rest Is History!”

If you have the Holy Spirit inside you, (you do if Jesus is your Lord and Savior), that Fire is more than enough to start the process of transformation in people, places, and situations. Just as Rich Lighter easily ignites and spreads its fire to other wood, YOU can spread the Fire that will make the difference. But changing the world will never happen as long as you expect someone else to answer the question. I leave you with two songs–one is for me because I am a country boy–the second one is for YOU, Just listen to it:

It’s A Wonderful Life Because It Matters Who You Know!

If you can remember only 1 thing from today’s message, this is it:  Knowing Jesus Will Provide Us With That Never-Ending Supply Of God’s Acceptance, Mercy, And Forgiveness.

There are certain clichés you hear all through your life that when you look closer, are false.  They are so ingrained in our consciousness you can probably say them along with me. For example:  It takes money:  To Make Money.  But there’s Sam Walton and Bill Gates.  Neither one was wealthy when they began their career.  Both men discovered it doesn’t always take money to make money; you can make money through hard work and innovation.  Another one:  You can’t fight:  City Hall.  Sonny Bono opened a restaurant in Palm Springs, got mired in the red tape of local politics, and he fought and won.  He also ran for mayor and won, and then became a U.S. Congressman before his untimely death in early 1998.  Of course, his story reminds us of another cliché: If you can’t beat `em: Join `Em.

Another cliché we hear from time to time is:  It’s not what you know it’s:  Who You Know.  Unlike the others, we all know of cases where this cliché is painfully true.  Each each of us has had the experience of being excluded from something—maybe a club, a job, a business opportunity, and you never got a chance because you weren’t “in” with the right people.

At the time it may have seemed absolutely unfair.  Today we’re going to examine how this cliché works in your favor.  In Acts 10, Peter had a vision that changed his entire outlook on life.  Like most of his fellow Jews, he believed that God a showed special favoritism to them.

But in the vision, he saw a large sheet lowered down to earth, filled with all kinds of critters.  A voice told him, “Get up Peter, kill and eat.”  Peter was caught off guard.   He said “Surely not.  I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”  Peter had always adhered to the strict Jewish dietary laws, which prohibited eating things like shrimp, pork, fried catfish, and so on.  Then the voice said, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”  

Peter had this same vision three times in a row; it was obvious that God was about to teach him something new.  Right after this vision, Peter was invited to speak to the household of Cornelius, a God-fearing Gentile who lived in Caesarea.  Peter accepted the invitation.  When he gets there, Cornelius gets carried away and starts to bow before Peter.  Peter gets him up and sets him straight.  As he looked across that room, Peter had that light bulb moment and now he understood the meaning of the vision.  Now, let’s pick up the story in Acts 10:28-43 (NLT)

28 Peter told them, “You know it is against our laws for a Jewish man to enter a Gentile home like this or to associate with you.  But God has shown me that I should no longer think of anyone as impure or unclean. 29 So I came without objection as soon as I was sent for. Now tell me why you sent for me.” 30 Cornelius replied, “Four days ago I was praying in my house about this same time, three o’clock in the afternoon.  Suddenly, a man in dazzling clothes was standing in front of me. 31 He told me, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your gifts to the poor have been noticed by God! 32 Now send messengers to Joppa, and summon a man named Simon Peter.  He is staying in the home of Simon, a tanner who lives near the seashore.’  33 So I sent for you at once, and it was good of you to come.  Now we are all here, waiting before God to hear the message the Lord has given you.”

34 Then Peter replied, “I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism. 35 In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right. 36 This is the message of Good News for the people of Israel—that there is peace with God through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. 37 You know what happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee, after John began preaching his message of baptism. 38 And you know that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power.  Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.

39 “And we apostles are witnesses of all He did throughout Judea and in Jerusalem.  They put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross, 40 but God raised Him to life on the third day.  Then God allowed Him to appear, 41 not to the general public, but to us whom God had chosen in advance to be His witnesses.  We were those who ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead. 42 And He ordered us to preach everywhere and to testify that Jesus is the one appointed by God to be the judge of all—the living and the dead.  43 He is the one all the prophets testified about, saying that everyone who believes in Him will have their sins forgiven through His name.”

This brief but powerful message can be summarized like this:  “It Doesn’t Matter What You Know, But WHO You Know!”  He told them that God’s great love is available to everyone, regardless of race, nationality, or social status.  He told them that God loves everyone the same.  We’re looking at this thought:  It’s A Wonderful Life.  It’s not perfect, nor is it always easy.  But it is promised to be Wonderful.  Today, we’re going to take a look at Peter’s sermon to find another reason why It’s A Wonderful Life

1.  God Accepts Everyone The Same.

Years ago singer-songwriter Mac Davis penned a song titled:  “It’s Hard To Be Humble When You’re Perfect In Every Way.”  This is the attitude many religious Jewish people had.  In the Old Testament we see the people of Israel were designated as God’s chosen people.  Most thought this meant they were his favorite people, that God loved them more than the others.  They believed that God had no use for Gentiles.  

It was this kind of racial prejudice that God wanted Peter to overcome.  He wanted to use Peter to tell the world something new:  God Is Not Only The God Of The Jews, He Is The God Of All Creation—and God loves us and accepts us all the same.  Vs. 34—“I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism.”  Some are born with greater opportunities than others, a better family, more money, more talent, more intelligence, more resources.  

There Is Only One Place In This World Where True Equality Exists:  In A Relationship With God.  God accepts everyone the same.  He doesn’t show favorites.  He doesn’t favor America over all other nations, He doesn’t favor white people over all other races, He doesn’t favor men over women, or the poor over the rich.  It doesn’t matter who you are, God loves you as much as He loves everyone.  

This is good news, because The Only Thing That Really Matters In Life Is A Relationship With God, And It’s Equally Available To Anyone.  Anyone can Know Him.  Anyone Can Talk To Him.  Anyone Can Experience His Love.  Anyone Can Be Forgiven.  Anyone Can Do His Will.  Anyone can Live A Life That Brings Him Glory.  In all of the inequality that exists in our world, it is great to know that it doesn’t matter who you are because God accepts everyone the same.  

2.  God Judges Everyone The Same.

The Bible says that Jesus is our friend, our brother, our advocate.  Peter reminds us that Jesus is also our judge, vs. 42b—“Jesus is the one appointed by God to be the judge of all—the living and the dead.” There is no other judge I would rather have.  Think about it.  When you stand before the judgment throne to give an account of all you’ve done, who do you want to face?  Your high school football coach?  Your boss?  Your mother-in-law?  Your ex-spouse?  Do you think they would be able to judge with both fairness and mercy?  

The Bible teaches that God is a fair and merciful God—not at all like a human judge.  Some have argued that the rich have the advantage over the poor, and white men have the advantage over everyone else.  But it doesn’t work that way with God.  Human courts fail at administering justice, but God won’t.  He judges everyone the same with absolute fairness.  This means two things: 

  • There’s no personal privilege you can invoke that will get you off the hook.  
  •  It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’ve been, what you’ve done, or who you did it with. 

It’s not going to work for you or against you.  God treats everyone the same— with the same grace, mercy, love!

3.  God Offers Salvation To Everyone The Same.

Without exception, we all are guilty.  He won’t let you off the hook just because you are who you are, but—here’s the good news—He Will Let You Off The Hook Because Of Who He Is.  His purpose for sending Jesus into the world was to save us from our sins. Peter said in vs. 43—“He is the one all the prophets testified about, saying that everyone who believes in Him will have their sins forgiven through His name.”

Nothing you will ever do will make you worthy enough to stand in the presence of God.  So Jesus died on the cross for you.  If you believe in Him you can experience God’s forgiveness, you can live in God’s presence, and you can be filled with God’s power every day of your life.  This is how you begin the Christian life—by believing in Jesus.  He Accepts You No Matter Who You Are; He Will Show You Mercy No Matter Where You Are; He Will Forgive Your Sins No Matter What You Have Done.

And this is how you live the Christian life.  Coming To Jesus Is A Matter Of God’s Grace; Continuing In Jesus Is A Matter Of God’s Grace, Too.  When we put our faith in Him we are covered by His mercy.  We will make mistakes along the way.  And He still forgives us as we choose to live like Jesus.  It Doesn’t Matter What You Know Or Even Who You Are, It Only Matters Who You Know.

Sin is a serious matter and must be dealt with in a serious way.  God has already done this for us.  God offers you acceptance, mercy, and forgiveness.  Knowing Jesus Provides Us With That Never-Ending Supply Of God’s Acceptance, Mercy, And Forgiveness. If you want to have A Wonderful Life, it all comes down to this:  It Takes The Surrendered Life To Jesus, And It Only Happens One Way—When you do 3 things:

  1. Admit That You Resist Total Surrender.  The old nature—that nature of sin that attacks our life—resists surrendering to God.
  2. Ask Him For His Power To Enable Your Unconditional Surrender.  The Resurrection of Jesus happened because of His Unconditional Surrender to dying on the Cross for all of us. 
  3. Then Operate With The Confidence That His Resurrection Power Is In You.  It’s more than just liking Jesus; it’s about The Deepest Commitment Of Your Heart.  It’s facing those battles head on because His Resurrection Power—whether you feel that Power or not—you know it’s there because HE SAID it’s there.

And because we can’t follow Jesus and stay where we are, here is our Next Step:

Decide To Give Jesus All Of Your Life.  Admit it!  There is a part or parts of our life we haven’t given over to Jesus.  Here are some examples:

  • A wound from a past hurt that you refuse to deal with;
  • A secret shame—from years ago or just last week;
  • Refusal to forgive someone;
  • An area of personal pride—you’re good at something or you have really achieved recognition for something good—and you’re holding on;
  • Here’s just one word:  Time—you see it as yours and that makes you want to spend it on you, for you and make it about you;

This is what it takes, all it takes—it’s the one thing you haven’t offered to Him—AND It’s The Only Thing He Wants From You Right Now!  Have you made—I mean really made—I mean absolutely made—Your Decision To Surrender Your LifeTo The ONE Who Made You, Who Loves You, And Can Take Your Surrendered LifeAnd Make It A Wonderful Life!

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)

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!