I MET THIS GUY THE OTHER DAY

(since I am reading through the Bible again, this popped up in my memories from three years ago)

I didn’t get his name.

Well, to be honest, I didn’t actually talk to him.

Actually, I read about him.

I had read this piece before, but I hadn’t paid much attention to it.

This time, I was kinda impressed by the guy.

The only reason he was mentioned at all, was because of who he worked for.

His boss had a really special connection to God.

And God talked to him, told him stuff.

His boss was Abraham. You know, the guy in the Bible that was the father of the entire Jewish race, the guy that God considered righteous because Abraham believed God.

So, one day, after Abraham’s wife , Sarah, had died, Abraham told his oldest servant, probably someone who had been with him since he left his homeland, “I don’t want my son Isaac to marry one of the women who live in this land. I want you to go back to my homeland and find a wife for him among my people.”

The servant had to get a little nervous. A lot nervous. This was a tremendous responsibility. How would he choose? Who would he talk to? How would he know he found the right wife for Isaac?

“What if she won’t come back with me? Do you want me to take Isaac?”

“No!

If she won’t come back with you, you are released from your oath.”

So, the servant went.

Now I don’t know if he had ever been there, in Abraham’s homeland. Abraham had left there with Sarah and Lot over 100 years earlier.

So, here’s the good part. Right as he came to the well of the community he was going to, he prayed to Abraham’s God. ” LORD, let the woman you choose give me some water, and then offer to water my camels.” (He had ten camels.)

Isn’t that fantastic? Praying such a specific prayer?

The next woman that came up did exactly what he asked for.

And she was from Abraham’s family.

That’s why I was so impressed with this guy.

Cuz he prayed the right prayer.

Wait a minute…?

He didn’t have anything to do with it.

Rachel was almost there when he got there.

The whole idea to pray was planted in his mind by Abraham’s God, just so this guy would know for sure that she was the one.

God was in control the whole time.

When I tell the story of the day of my salvation, I always tell how I prayed, “…and what does it mean to be born again?”

The answers that came within five minutes were already in place. Not because I prayed the right prayer, because God put the thought in my head so I would see His answer.

Oh, this story? You can read it for yourself if you are interested.

Genesis 24.

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CHOOSING YOUR RESPONSE

After Adam and Eve were evicted from the garden, they had two sons, Cain and Abel.

Cain became a farmer, Abel became a rancher.

Cain decided one day to try to gain God’s favor by giving him a gift of some of the produce from his field.

Abel sacrificed several choice lambs from the best of his flock.

God accepted Abel’s offering, but not Cain’s.

This made Cain very angry and dejected.

“Why are you so angry?” the LORD asked him. “Why do you look so dejected? You will be accepted if you respond in the right way. But if you don’t respond correctly, then watch out! Sin is waiting to attack and destroy you, and you must subdue it.”

Warning ignored. Cain killed his brother.

God didn’t kill Cain. Cain lived on, had sons and daughters, built a city.

But, the sin that was waiting to attack and destroy killed his ability to hear and obey the voice of God.

His descendants didn’t hear his voice either. Because they were created in the image of God, they invented tents, musical instruments, bronze and iron instruments, all while creating for themselves a life that did not include the will of the Creator.

But there were a few that continued to listen for the divine whisper. Seth, the third zone of Adam, who, during his lifetime, people began to worship the Creator.

Enoch, several generations from Adam, who lived in such close fellowship with God, when he was 365 years old, he disappeared from the earth, because God took him.

And Noah. The earth had become corrupt in God’s sight, and he world’s thoughts were consistently and totally evil. But Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless man living on the earth at the time. He consistently followed God’s will and enjoyed a close relationship with him.

So God told him to build a boat.

And Noah did everything exactly as God had commanded.

Nothing has changed much, has it?

Still fighting, still angry and dejected, the sons of Cain are still looking to destroy those on whom God’s favor rests, those that God accepts as his own.

The sons of Cain and the sons of God form two families that occupy the earth.

Maybe now would be a good time to figure out which family is yours.

There are some who say,”You don’t choose God, God chooses you.”

A dead man can’t choose life.

But,

Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your heart.

Choose you this day whom you will serve.

Genesis 4,5,6

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2021: LOOKS SO FUTURISTIC

Three years ago, I began a through the Bible in a year program with the English Standard Version.

A couple of years before that, I used the New Living Translation.

I found this bound version of the NLT a couple of weeks ago and decided to do it again.

Day 1

Creation Story

In the beginning, God began to create, heavens and earth, formless and dark.

Light, for day, darkness for night. First day.

Separate waters above from waters below. Expanse between called sky. Second day.

Land and sea, plants and trees. Third day

Sun, moon and stars to mark off seasons, days, and years. Fourth day.

Birds of the air, fish of the sea. Fifth day.

Man (“in our image”) and land animals. Man was made from the dirt, but, then, He breathed into him “the breath of Life.” Sixth day.

Rest from all creating. Seventh day.

It was all good.

Man was to be “like God”, master over all life on earth, fish, birds, livestock, wild animals, and small animals.

God placed man in a garden to work.

Two trees in the center, Tree of Life, tree of knowledge of good and evil. God instructed man, he could eat from all trees, except one.

The tree of knowledge of good and evil. Eating from that one would end the LIFE.

God made woman out of man to be his lifelong companion.

An enemy of God enters the scene.

“You won’t die. You will become just like God, knowing everything, both good and evil.”

They gave it a taste.

Everything changed.

The life that ended was the God breathed life.

God’s presence illuminated man’s shame, made man fear His presence, made man think he could figure things out on his own.

Physical life continued, struggling, learning, experiencing the fruit of a life being separated from the Breather of Life.

Several thousands of years later, we are still experiencing the consequences of man’s pride, of man’s choice to do things his own way.

But God still offers that breath of Life, to bring me back “to the garden of delights.”

Because, from the very beginning, He had a plan.

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HIS WAY FOR THE HIGHWAY

This most recent presidential election didn’t turn out the way I had hoped.

Lately, that is always the case, at least for half of the country.

The funny thing, though, I have found myself resting within a cocoon of peace. The reason that is funny is that the prayers that I and many, many others like me have prayed haven’t yet come to pass.

So, here are some things that I have learned.

To be in the will of God is my deepest desire.

The word of God is living and active, and sharper than a two edged sword.

When I pray and don’t receive the answer I desire, He reveals His will to me.

The father of lies is alive and active in this world, and many, many are his children. “Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:44

The survival of any country is not necessarily the highest will of the One who sets kings in place.

“When the righteous rule, the people rejoice. But when a wicked man rules, the people groan.” Proverbs 29:2

There is no one righteous, no, not one. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

God desires that no one perish, that is, that no one dies without having His Life inside them. That requires each person to turn from his own will (repent) and give himself to the will of God. John 3:16

For me, the biggest transformations in my life have always come to me through some of my greatest trials.

Maybe it is that way with you, too.

If our country loses its power, greatness, and wealth, and turns its ear to the aforementioned “father of lies”, there will be some who will desire the voice of Truth.

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one (nobody) comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

In this world, we will have tribulation. But, a few of us may take heart, live in hope, fix our eyes on the One who has already overcome this world.

Again, To be in the will of God is my deepest desire.

In my coming times on this earth, in this country, my plan is to stand on the truth, for the truth, in the truth.

God made man in His own image, male and female. We don’t need new pronouns.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Decisions made by the will of man tend to be unwise, with little understanding of consequences that follow.

The freedom that the founders of this country envisioned can disappear rather quickly. True freedom rests in receiving the Life that comes from John 3;16.

Fear is not of God. Climate change, Covid19, riots, cancer, republicans, democrats, poverty, homelessness, censorship, cancel culture, lockdowns, mask mandates, wildfires, financial loss, ….All lead to an opportunity to turn to the One who gives Life.

Our lives are in His hands. He numbers our days.

A friend gave me a bookmark this past week with one of my favorite scriptures. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

I want the One who made me,

who now calls me “His own”,

who has planted everlasting life inside me.

He is the One I want to direct my paths.

Jesus, Show me Your Way!

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EARLIEST REPORTS OF SWINE FLU

December 19,2017

Several weeks ago, our pastor preached on the time Jesus was asleep in the boat, a storm came, his disciples woke him up, and, with a word, he made the storm stop, the sea calm. Something in the sermon has stayed on my mind for weeks. I can’t stop thinking about it.

He asked the disciples, “Where is your faith?”

It’s not easy being a disciple.

They had been a part of a huge event, Jesus teaching one of his longest lessons, to thousands of adoring fans. They marveled at his wisdom.

When it’s all over, Jesus says, “Let’s go to the other side of the lake.”

The fishermen in the group probably looked at the sky, looked at each other, and shrugged.

They usually did what he said.

So they took him in the boat.

The storm came. It was bad. Real bad.

These guys did what anyone would do. They fought to stay alive. They were really, really afraid. I’m talking fear.

They woke up Jesus to help them fight to stay alive.

Then, after he fixed it, (Wow, wow, wow!) they got to the other side, and were nearly attacked by two naked, demon possessed wild men with super human strength.

Then, the people of that town made them leave, and they had to get right back into the boat.

Who wouldn’t be frustrated?

Sounds like a big waste of time, right?

Except, two men who had terrorized the region because of the demons, met Jesus, were healed, the demons driven out. And, at least one of them became a witness to the ten towns in the area to what Jesus had done.

But what was so bad about what the disciples did? That is the question I have been pondering for the last few weeks. They had a natural fear in a natural unexpected turn of events, and responded with all the natural abilities they could muster.

They had no reason to even imagine that Jesus could speak to the storm to end it.

They were doing the best they could.

In their own strength.

Maybe the faith that Jesus was talking about was trusting him wherever he told them to go, whatever he told them to do.

No matter how bad it seemed.

Because he knew something that they didn’t know.

He knew the plan. God’s plan.

You can read the different versions of this story in Matthew 8, Mark 4, and Luke 8.

Oh, yeah. The demons that had been in the guys? There were a lot. Jesus sent them (at their request) into a herd of pigs nearby, about 2000 of ‘em.

And…
(wait for it)
the entire herd of swine flew off the cliff and drowned.

(Insert smiles, and or groans here).

The reason I am telling this is because I really didn’t know why this particular story stuck with me so long.

1. Saturday night, around 8:30, I got a text message from the guy who was supposed to teach the high school class bible study on Sunday morning. He was sick, the youth pastor was out of town at a funeral, and someone had told him to call me.

My natural inclination was to pretend I didn’t see the text message.

I said, “Okay,” through text, so he couldn’t hear my reluctance.

“Great, I will send you the scripture.”

Please hurry, I thought. There is not a whole lot of time to prepare something.

You wanna hear something neat? The scripture was the exact scripture that I had been contemplating for the last 3 or 4 weeks.

I was ready.

Next morning, I walked into the youth building. Two students. Wasted trip?

Did Jesus waste a trip two see those two demoniacs?

2. While I was writing this, I learned that my niece is fixing to go into a pretty intense storm of her own. Her job ends tomorrow. She just found out yesterday.

Maybe this message will help her, too.

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FORTUNE COOKIE

December 4, 2016

“You are going to have a very comfortable life.”

I remember, in younger days, when I would have thought, “Hey, that’s what I want- a very comfortable life.”

Do I?

Sounds cozy, protected, the good life.

A “safe zone?”

Sorry, not for me.

Every meaningful event in my life has been preceded by a quite uncomfortable life.

Mistakes I made, experience gained, all after extreme times of discomfort.

Deep depression led to the moment that I gave over control of my life, to the One who made me.

What is life, anyway? Isn’t life the whole range of emotions; joy, sorrow, pain, exhilaration, depression, contentment, longing, fulfilment, triumph, defeat, first place, last place, second place, (so close), heartbreak, love, separation, reuniting, broken relationships, restored friendships, getting hired, being fired, disappointments, God’s silence, God’s voice.

The comfort zone, the safe places, aren’t really all that comfortable, or safe.

If you want to live, you have to feel.

Don’t be afraid. You want to live, don’t you?

Sorry, could I have a different cookie, please?

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MAYBE I MADE IT ALL UP

November 17, 2016

My sister, Elaine sent me a Facebook birthday greeting. She reminded me of a couple of things we used to do together.

Marble races.

We would set up a ramp, line up two marbles at a time, and race them. Single elimination tournament. All the marbles til we got down to the final two. We would cheer for the winner of each heat as if they were human.

There would be one winner.

The world champion.

Magnattel dollhouse.

A one story dollhouse on legs with no roof. A mom, a dad, a girl, a boy, a dog, a cat, and a mouse all had magnets attached to their bottom side, or feet. There were wands that we would use to move the inhabitants through the house. They could open doors, move furniture, leave so the animals could have free run of the house.

We were the gods of this family. We planned their lives, arranged their circumstances, even gave them their words.

They were totally dependent on us.

There are four kids in our family ( well, we used to be kids) and my sister and I were the middles.

We had great imaginations and we spent countless hours together in her room, away from the other two, making up worlds and situations. We had cowboy and Indian figures that would have all sorts of terrifying circumstances to overcome.

All at our whim.

We controlled everything, every outcome.

Except that time when a bad guy captured my favorite cowboy, the one with the legs bowed so that he could ride his horse. I called him “Jim.” (Good cowboy name, don’t you think?) Anyway, the bad guy was trying to extract information from Jim and put him in his torture device, a gooseneck desk lamp. As the bad guy laughed maniacally, Jim’s right leg melted off.

Nooooooo! He never rode a horse again.

There have been times in my life when I wondered if my imagination was the only reason I believed so strongly in God.

Except, I was never able to plan His moves, His words, His life.

I was the one under His power. He orchestrated my circumstances, the lessons I had to learn, the trials I had to endure, the joys I got to experience.

Maybe he gives us imagination so that we can begin to anticipate the unseen invisible world around us, and to receive visions and dreams to propel us forward into a LIFE of His planning.

Thanks, Elaine, for sharing that most important part of being prepared for what is yet to be.

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WHY AM I THANKFUL FOR A DINNER OF CHEESE AND PEANUT BUTTER CRACKERS AND WATER IN AN EMERGENCY ROOM ON THE NIGHT OF MY GRANDDAUGHTER’S WEDDING?

November 11, 2017

We had been working on this wedding for weeks.
Wendy planning.
Jennifer pushing, helping organize, making calls.
Me just trying to follow orders.
On Friday, we spent half a day at the venue, with the first part of the decorating.
They worked on the flowers.
I did ladder and assembly stuff with my manly tools.
Carrying, loading, unloading.
Then rehearsal and rehearsal dinner.
We got home about ten.
I curled up with a blanket in my chair while Wendy did some finishing touches on the Cornhole Game we had built.
She woke me up about 12:45, and we went to bed.

Wedding Day.

5:30 AM. I began loading the last of the stuff.
I woke Wendy at 6:00, and I kept working.
Man, I was really looking forward to the end.
My favorite part would be the visiting with friends and family during the after celebration.
I knew that there would still be the tear down, reloading, and unloading the uhaul before I could really relax.
But I can’t possibly think that far ahead.
Wendy was running late, and was ready to leave.
I hadn’t even had my shower, so she went on ahead.
She called me in a few minutes. “I feel horrible. I’m just asking God to please don’t let me have a stroke. My blood pressure feels really high.”
I said, ” Just go there and be the boss. You know what needs to be done. Just get the others to do it.”
Of course the big task would be Zoe’s hair. She figured she needed 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
When I got there, I delivered the last of the stuff, and took food orders for McDonald’s.

Delivered the food. Wendy took two bites.
“I don’t have time to eat.” ( Or drink. She left it all sitting there.)
I made a few trips to Walmart, moved all through the venue filling in some gaps.
Wendy was doing Zoe’s hair. I called her a couple of times.
“Doing hair. Too busy to talk.”
Finally, the place was decorated, guests were arriving, I was suited up, and I spent some time visiting the early arrivals.
My favorite part.
It was quickly time to get with Zoë, to lead her into her next chapter.
Wendy looked at Zoë. “What’s wrong? Are you crying?”
Zoë replied, “I’m scared!”
I asked,”About the future or about now?” (Visions of runaway bride flashing in my brain.)
“No, I want the future! I’m scared about right now!”

The walk, the ceremony, man and wife, the kiss….it is done.

Now to the fun part.

Oh, wait. The pictures first.

Then the fun part.

Pictures over. The sun is down. The lights are illuminating, and Wendy and I begin our walk up the sidewalk to the barn to visit (YEA!) and have a cup of something hot. ( Man, I am really looking forward to that coffee!)

Dick and Ann were walking with us, and we kept stopping.

I looked toward the barn, wanting Wendy to see my brothers and sister.

I looked back. Wendy was looking down at the ground. My head started to turn, and I saw her go down. Fast. Her forehead head hit the ground with a thump.

“Wendy! Are you okay?!” I was kneeling beside her. I tried to get her to respond.
No response. No twitch. No movement.

“HELP! I NEED SOME HELP! PLEASE SOMEBODY HELP!”

I have never felt fear like I felt it at that moment!

Never!

A nurse, a doctor, more nurses, a nurse practitioner, paramedic, all at the same wedding.

Wendy’s eyes opened, she answered every question lucidly. Name. Date. Where we were. She didn’t know why she was on the ground.

But she was alive.

Ambulance came.

Everyone clapped as they rolled the gurney carrying Wendy through the pavilion…right past the barbecue…like she had just scored the winning run.

When they put Wendy in the ambulance, three year old, Harper, my great niece, came up with her Nezzie, Belinda. “We should pray for Wendy,” she said.

We did.

The paramedics did some checks, and we left the party that we had been working on so long.

Ambulance to the hospital, check-in, all the tests. Medicine for high blood pressure. Nothing else.

And that’s why the cracker dinner was okay with me.

The nurse said, “We are going to go ahead and release you as soon as your blood pressure goes down a little bit. We have never let someone out this quick.”

Power of prayer.

God is good.

We made it back to the wedding in time for the last dance.

We got to see Zoë before she and Evan left.

And, we had so much help, doing the tear down, it was almost like a party in itself.

Every wedding needs a story.

Wendy said,”Yeah, but I wish I wasn’t the story.”

But there is much more to this story….

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A FRIEND POINTED SOMETHING OUT TO ME THIS WEEK.

Oct. 29, 2017

I grew up fairly privileged.

Not monetarily. Mom and Dad always scrimped on things to provide for the needs.

My dad got my first baseball glove with points he made from his job as a cookie salesman.

But, I never wondered whether my parents loved me.

There was something intransitive. They weren’t physically demonstrative. We weren’t huggers.

But I always had the sense when I was with them, they were glad I was there.

I felt like I was their favorite.

Apparently, my brothers and sister felt the same way.

When I was born again at the age of 26, I began a relationship with the God of the universe. As my Father.

I began to believe that He really did like me, that He liked me to spend time with Him, that He still loved me, even when I did stupid, selfish things.

He had great plans for me.

I can see in my mind possibilities for greater and greater involvement with my Father, growing closer all the time.

A friend told me this week that, because his dad had always maintained a distant relationship with him, that it is not easy for him to think of God in this way, to see himself as a “favored son.”

My wife tells me that my perception that people generally like me is not her perception for herself. That that also makes it difficult for her to feel worthy of God’s favor. She knows in her head that He loves her, but the feelings of being loved don’t come naturally for her.

My eyes are always being opened a little wider by listening to others.

What is your perception of God?

How do you think your childhood may have affected this?

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WHAT IF?

WHAT IF….?

Recent CDC report says that the Corona virus thrives on protein, particularly the protein found in human and animal hair.
CDC guidelines for stemming the tide of COVID19 is to shave all heads, and the bodies of animals that live indoors.

What would you do?

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