FOOLISH PRIDE

Written JUNE 6, 2016 (taking my mind back to a healthier time)

  1. I made the Rice University soccer team in the Fall of 1971.
  2. I became a starter on the Rice University soccer team.
  3. I played a game against the professional Dallas Tornado soccer team with Kyle Rote, Jr.
  4. I scored a goal against The University of Houston soccer team.

Reality:

  1. It was a soccer club. No one got cut.
  2. I was probably at best the second worst player on the team. ( one guy may have placed me a little lower). The only reason I started because I was fast enough to recover from some of the myriad of mistakes I made.
  3. The Dallas Tornado beat us 10-2. I ran alongside Rote a couple of times, but I was less intrusive to him than a gnat.
  4. Took a shot at goal, miskicked it, off my toe, and the banana shot that resulted went right around the outstretched arms of the diving goalie. Not where I aimed it, but…..GOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLL!!!!!
Standard

STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN? NOT YET!

I was at my last stop of the day on Wednesday. Window cleaning all day long. A bunch of ladder work, and I was pretty pooped.

Painters were still working the front of the house, so today, I would do the back windows on the outside, and all the inside windows.

I had nearly finished. The ladder seemed heavy, and I was huffing and puffing every time I moved it.

So, I saved the three high windows at the backdoor for last.

The room had a polished tile floor, with furniture in front of all the windows.

There was a kids version small wooden picnic table with two wooden benches in front of the first one.

I slid the two benches off to the side. There was probably room for the picnic table there, but, for some reason, I felt like I should move it out of the way more.

I slid the table pretty far from the window so it would not be in the way.

I set up my ladder on the first one, the most difficult one.

Before I went up the ladder, I noticed that I had a response on my phone from one of my blog commenters. Still asking me to answer his questions in the way he wanted.

We were in a long going (argument) discussion.

Later, I thought, I just want to finish this job.

He had been troubling me for some time for “real evidence that God is real” and never seemed satisfied with any thing I said.

He said I was copping out, just like all Christians do, and he knew so many who “had been genuine Christians” and had deconverted.

I had told him I didn’t believe that was possible, because I had been broken, and when I converted, “I had been fixed. A whole new person.”

“So,” He asked me, “If you were deconverted, would you be un-fixed?”

“It’s not possible,” I said.

The latest comment was “answer the question.”

I thought I had, so I went back up my ladder, finished the tallest window, came down and moved the ladder.

“So heavy” I puffed.

As I climbed, when I got to about 12 feet, the ladder slid.

I tried to quickly go down, but instead flew off.

First glimpse was how far away the floor was.

Next I landed on my back with a crash.

Not a thump. A crash.

Picnic table? How did I land on the picnic table? I moved the table out of the way, didn’t I?

If you’ve ever fallen from a distance, you know you don’t jump up.

I cried, “Lord, Jesus.”

The pain was real.

My next thought. “Third fall. How do I tell Wendy?”

The argument I had been having didn’t seem very important.

I stood. “That’s good.”

Arm movement hurt.”I’m not gonna try to finish. Just gotta figure out how to get my stuff out of the house. Left arm, no strength. Think I broke my shoulder blade.”

On the floor is a splintered child’s picnic table.

Many splinters.

I moved it out to the patio. “I’ll have to explain this to the owners,” I thought as I huffed, and puffed, an gasped in pain as I made trips to my van to load my stuff.

Yeah, I drove home. A little over an hour.

Pure will power.

In the emergency room, I told the doctor about the picnic table miracle.

“So, I had moved that picnic table out of my way. When I fell, 12 feet up, I landed flat on my back on that picnic table.” He made a face like that must have been really bad.

“It saved my life. It cushioned my fall. My head never hit the floor.”

I have to say right now that I don’t have a reason for moving the table to that place in the room.

I certainly didn’t plan to have it there, just in case.

There had to be one orchestrating this process.

Bad things happen all the time, but we have to be looking for the little things, the small details that change everything, the proof of a loving knowing God who knows what we need when we need it.

The CAT scan showed broken left shoulder blade (I knew it) and a broken back (T4 vertebra, fractured and compressed, but in place). No surgery.

I smiled. It could have been so much worse.

I wrote my online opponent the next day.

“I like to think that the reason I don’t have brain damage, crippling injuries, or a coffin is because God has given me to you as a gift.”

I don’t think he felt the same.

Standard

LIFE, LIBERTY, AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS

July 1, 2015

The declaration of independence says that our creator has given certain indisputable rights; Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Apparently, the right to life doesn’t apply to the unborn, and liberty is slipping between our fingers as our government grows more and more, and decides what liberties are good for us, and which ones we cannot handle.

The pursuit of happiness is the one that is at the forefront now. There is a group that says if we can just change the definition of marriage to include us, then our pursuit of happiness will also be fulfilled.

But, if the future proves that the redefinition doesn’t bring the happiness, then the probable next step will be to blame the lack of satisfaction on a group or groups that did not agree with the changed meaning of marriage in the first place.

Some change is good. Some change, when enacted in haste without taking into account possible future ramifications, may bring unfortunate outcomes.

I’m not a prophet. But we will see.

Standard

WHEN THE FOCUS CHANGES

One thing about getting old is that you remember simpler times, before technology, before the great darkness.

A time when a woman’s pregnancy was referred to as “with child.”

There was no question. That small change growing in her womb was a child.

Not a mass of tissue, a child.

“She is in the family way.” (When a family meant mother, father, children.)

The reason abortion was rare and not legal was because people were aghast that you would consider ending the life of that growing child.

The sinister voice of the destroyer was in the world then as well, whispering to those who would hear.

“You could make some good money, if you will help these poor desperate young girls prevent this horrible mistake from ruining their life.”

Sometime, in the 60’s,the narrative changed.

“Poor, desperate young girls are being forced into back alley abortions, coat hanger abortions because people don’t think they should have a right to make their own life decisions.”

“It is simply a mass of tissue we are removing.”

A growing mass of tissue with DNA that is different from the mother’s DNA, with capabilities and possibilities built into that DNA that could do great and marvelous things for the world.

If only it survives until birth.

Since 1973, it is estimated that over 54,000,000 abortions have been performed in the United States.

That is 1,255,813 children killed before they start, every year.

That is 3,440 children deprived the chance to live every single day.

I live in a town of about 1300 people. If three towns this size were destroyed every single day, what would we do?

But, when the focus changes, everything changes.

We have several generations now that have always had this “choice” available.

I wonder why the country has become so irreconcilably divided these days.

Could it be that that one sinister voice of the one whose purpose is to steal, kill, and destroy has finally gained the ear of the majority?

“Did God really say…?”

Standard

I JUST CAN’T HELP MYSELF

I’M SORRY.
I JUST CAN’T HELP MYSELF.
SERIOUSLY.
I CAN’T.

“Then enjoy it, Randy just keep it to yourself.” (Facebook friend on sharing my faith, 6/27/16)

Those of you who know my wife, Wendy, know what an incredible cook she is.
Yesterday she saw something about homemade curly fries on Facebook, she tried it out, and she built an entire meal around curly fries. Fried chicken (John Bush recipe with tobasco honey), fresh corn on the cob, salad, fresh watermelon, and, yes, homemade curly fries.
I wish you could have tasted it.
I don’t think I am better than you, I just wish you could taste it.

When I was in school, one time a math teacher was doing a long, involved problem on the board. Early on, I saw that she had forgotten to carry a 2, and I raised my hand to tell her. She couldn’t see me, because she was facing the board. So, I blurted out, “You forgot to carry the two.” She stopped, looked, corrected the error, and said, “Thank you.”
If she hadn’t changed it, everything from that point on would have been an error.
I didn’t think I was smarter, or better than my teacher.
I just happened to see her one mistake.

On May 8, 1978 when I discovered that God, in fact, was real, and not some vague concept that I only irregularly entertained in my thoughts, my life went from a two dimensional black and white silent movie in the fog to a multidimensional HD color movie with surround sound. I found a love for the One I now knew as my Father, and discovered a love for the words I began to see in the Bible with new eyes and understanding.

My life became so rich, I began to see the mistakes I had been making, causing me to completely miss the path I had just discovered.
New sights, sounds, thoughts thrilled me every day.

I just wanted people to taste it.

It didn’t make me better than them.

I just wanted them to see the one mistake that may be keeping them from this amazing path of life.

Because I wanted good for them.

Now I know, tastes are different, and some people don’t like to be told that they may have made a mistake.

But I won’t know that about you until you tell me.

In the meantime, just taste this.
It is the best ever.

Standard

CONFUSION?

Now that I am considered by some to be getting old, and the scarcity of my hair and the color of my beard seem to confirm that fact, I am beginning to realize that no matter what i say or write, at least half of my audience will disagree with me.

But, it’s not just the disagreement. We have always had disagreements.

It is the “That offends me!” response that makes this world so difficult.

I guess that is the nature of this “new normal” we are living in.

But it started way before the pandemic.

At some point, having a difference of opinion has become a reason for friendships to end, families to break apart, and discussion to turn into venomous attacks against one’s character.

You know that what I am saying is true.

I am living in a world where I am forced to take a side.

The other side becomes my enemy.

Or, I can just keep my mouth shut and try to stay out of the conflict.

I JUST CAN’T!

Now, a rope hanging in a garage or a park becomes a hate crime, a statue of an historic man or woman becomes a reminder of some horrible offense, a person’s skin tone is again becoming a reason to divide, law enforcement has suddenly become something the world is questioning, a protest that turns violent is considered a form of free speech, and hatred is applauded.

I remember when my mom used to teach me not to say I hate anyone.

There is a scripture in Matthew where Jesus is warning his disciples of the world that is to come where things are gonna get pretty bad.

He says, “And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.” Matthew 24:12

So, since I can’t keep my mouth shut, here is my take on this world in which I find myself.

We can’t fix it.

There is no government, no movement, no radical protest, no violent protest, no well phrased speech, no chanted mantra, no charismatic leader that can change the course of “the love of many growing cold.”

The heart has to be changed.

And, that can happen!

Trouble is, I have to give up my efforts to fix myself, or fix you, and give myself back to the one who made me.

You have to do the same.

I know what you are thinking, “Here we go, the religious thing.” And you close me off.

I become the enemy.

That’s the natural thing to do.

This heart change, though, is not “natural”.

It actually is in direct opposition to everything you have ever done before.

Something happens to your thought processes and you begin to sense a love for others begin to grow inside. An affection, a sense of wanting to help others, a sense of peaceful rest, a sense of patience with the faults of others, a sense of kindness toward those that yell at you, a new found love and trust for your God, a sense of being gentle toward those around you, a sense of having control over your old way of reacting, a sense of joy that you just can’t quite explain.

That’s it. You just can’t explain it.

He calls you, “Come to me and I will give you rest,” and you come.

The eyes of your heart are opened for the first time.

You become a completely new person.

A little bit at a time.

And, you begin to perceive the “image of God” in those you meet, even if they haven’t had their hearts changed, yet.

You hear a voice inside saying, “This is the way! Walk in it!”

And that is when the change in the world comes.

Standard

SERENDIPITY

Father’s Day 2017

We were sitting around the table after a barbecue lunch, Craig (Wendy’s brother)and Belinda ( Craig’s wife), Blair (Wendy’s dad) and Mary Jane (Wendy’s mom), Randy and Wendy, Zoë, and Glenda ( Belinda’s mom). Adam, Staci, and their three girls were in the other room, the squeals, cries, and laughs of the three girls rolling into the room where we were sitting, along with an occasional visit of one of the three.

Blair retold a story of his dad curing a horse of “blind staggers.”
Around 1935
Blair: I think it was one of the McGills that brought his horse into daddy’s blacksmith shop.
“Doc, my horse is really unsteady on his feet. He’s always stumbling.”
“Blind staggers,” Daddy said. “Blair, get me that two by four over there, and that little sledgehammer.”
I handed ’em to him.
Daddy turned to McGill and said, “Now, hold this board in front of his eyes so he can’t see anything.”
McGill held the board, and Daddy whacked it square in the middle, right between the horse’s eyes.
That horse went down to its knees.
McGill thought Daddy had killed it.
But, the horse got up, and McGill led the horse, staggerin’, out the door.
A couple of days later, I walked out to the mailbox. It was way out at the road. McGill rode up on his horse.
“Hey, Blair, you tell your daddy he really knows his stuff. My horse hasn’t stumbled once since he worked his magic.”

I asked Glenda how she was related to Dillman Foster.

Dillman had been Wendy’s and her family’s next door neighbor in Garland. She was a widow, whose two sons shared her house. Mickey and his wife, Mary, their two kids, Sandy and Ricky, and Mike, the second son.

Dillman, after the others moved out, decided to move back to Winnsboro where her family lived. She hired Blair to do the plumbing for her in the house at Lake Winnsboro.

Glenda said,”She was my aunt, my mom’s sister. When I was young, I lived with her for a time.”

While Blair had been doing the plumbing for Dillman, he would drive back and forth, from Garland to Winnsboro. In that time, he met Glenda Harper and her husband, Dick, as well as other members of that family.

He liked the area so much, he and Mary Jane began considering a move to East Texas. They would drive out on weekends and look at land, and houses.

When they found the forty acres they live on now, they had us come down to look.

They took us over to the Harper’s house to introduce us, and we met the whole family, Dick, Glenda, Belinda, Richelle, David, and Arthur. Richelle kinda bonded with Chelsey, and she took her back to her room to play with Barbies.

Belinda said, “I remember that. Sandy gave me those Barbies, and I gave ’em to Richelle.”

Wendy said, “Sandy? Sandy Foster? I gave my Barbies to Sandy. I also had a brown suitcase filled with homemade Barbie clothes that this lady that Mom knew had made me.”

“We had that suitcase, I’m pretty sure!”

I asked, “Did y’all ever meet when you lived in Garland?”

Wendy said, “No, I don’t remember that.”

Belinda said, “We used to go to Aunt Dillman’s a lot in the summer. It’d be us four kids, Sandy, Ricky, and three other cousins.”

I asked, “So, did y’all play outside? Did you ever play in the driveway next door?”

“Oh, I’m sure we did. All of us.”

Now, here is the weird thing. Summer of 1972, I had seen Wendy’s picture in my sister’s SGHS yearbook. I thought I would like to date her.

I found out where she lived, Oriole, in Garland, and I finally figured out how to get there.

So, trying to get up enough courage to actually talk to her, I would just drive by, hoping to get a glimpse, maybe see her outside, and start an innocent, random conversation.

So, I drove by the house, the first time, and there were nine or ten kids, playing in her driveway. I thought she must have a bunch of brothers and sisters.

“Belinda, could that have been you?”

“Could’a been, Randy, could’a been.”

Standard

I CAN BE A SHEEP

That’s what you want, right?

I can follow a shepherd. It seems a lot of people can follow a leader. Or two. Or three. So many voices.

The trouble is, there are a lot of flocks out there.

And they are not friendly with each other.

Some of these “shepherds” keep changing the rules. A good sheep will keep following, even if the shepherd makes a few mistakes.

Or a lot of mistakes.

I can see this cartoon in my mind: a group of people gathered around a leader, hanging on every word.

Another voice calls from the side, “Here’s what we need to do.”

The whole group pitter patters over to the next guy. In perfect unison.

Back and forth.

Over and over.

So many voices.

So many shepherds to choose from.

I’m just not that interested in being a follower of someone who really doesn’t recognize truth. Someone who makes up stuff as he goes along.

Here’s the thing. I already have a Shepherd, and He doesn’t make mistakes.

Now, I do.

Quite often, actually!

I can actually find myself wandering away from His flock. Not on purpose.

Just because I get distracted with the many, many arguments flying all around.

We have to choose sides, don’t we?

So, in my wandering away, my shepherd grabs his rod and his staff and comes looking for me, to bring me back to the place of safety, peace, nourishment, and purpose.

I am reminded of the reason I belong to this flock.

The Shepherd found me.

He invited me to join Him.

He gave me something I couldn’t lose, a Life that lasts forever.

The ability to see His plan,

to hear His voice,

to see the darkness,

to choose the light.

Those in the darkness hate those in the light.

I love my Shepherd with everything that is in me, and, because of that love toward Him, I am learning to love those around me with the kind of love He offered to me.

The kind of love that wants the best, even if they can’t see it.

He says to me, “Love me, then treat everyone as you want to be treated.

EVERYONE!”

I don’t need someone to tell me how privileged I am, how certain skin tones need to be elevated above others, how I should fear every virus, how I should isolate myself, mask myself, seek revenge, despise those that disagree with me, do all these things that directly oppose those things my Shepherd has been telling me all along.

Things like:

Do not fear,

Trust me with all your heart,

Love your neighbor as yourself,

I will give you a life that lasts forever,

I know the plans I have for you,

Do not confirm to the ways of darkness.

“But, wait,” you say. “This shepherd you follow…he died a long time ago, right? Don’t you think you should follow someone a little more real?”

There is no one more real!

He walks with me and he talks with me and he tells me I belong to him.

You can, too.

But you have to let Him fix you first so you can see Him,

hear Him,

see the darkness…

And choose the light.

Standard

SETTLED SCIENCE?

As a Christian, it is not unusual for me to hear that I am ignorant, anti-science, anti-intellectual, because I don’t accept global warming, climate change, global cooling, darwinism. (Don’t even get me started on the separation of church and state)

It seems that “tolerance” in today’s world doesn’t tolerate thought (yes, thought) that takes into account the possibility (surety) that there must be a mind behind all of this.

For instance, I agree that climate may be changing, or may not be, but perhaps this change is not “man-caused.”

I believe that there could possibly be an evolving within a species, but I don’t think these changes take billions of years.

I also believe that man’s existence could easily be only 6000-10000 years, and the population growth models I have seen make this possibility a lot easier to swallow than millions of years. If you believed in the flood of Noah’s day, and you began with 8 people, and multiplied by a population growth model, you still have more people on the earth now than we actually have. To carry this out over millions of years, the population would have to be virtually wiped out multiple times (multiple means a lot. A lot) to bring it down to the current population.

In the 70’s, scientists (not all, but some) were warning us of overpopulation and starvation and a coming ice age, all within the next 20-30 years.

What I am saying is that our views of science, of world situations, etc., are all guided by a basic worldview, where you believe the starting point to be. If one doesn’t believe in a creator god, then every scientific hypothesis will stem from that premise.

If one has come to accept, believe, and trust in the Bible as the word of God, then he will weigh the things he observes against what he knows to be true.

C.S. Lewis once said something like this: Christianity is like the light of the sun; by it, I can see everything else.

Standard

A SERIES OF NOT SO UNFORTUNATE EVENTS

(I wrote this four years ago, but when I read it today, I was reminded of the vast

importance of sharing this second life and the working of God in this life with as many as we can. While we still can.)

Wednesday of last week I fell from a ladder, and, miraculously, only suffered, at worst, a cracked rib, or two. Discomfort of my injury reminds me how blessed I am to not have suffered worse.

While delivering eggs to the Hendricks, I was touched by stories Ralph told me of believers who were so filled with love for their savior, that they openly shared it with those they met. I, thought, “We need more of this.”

On Thursday, I reluctantly agreed to clean four chimneys at this ranch outside of Hawkins, ( reluctant because of the twisting and contorting involved in the process) and was touched deeply by the Spirit of God in the contractor who hired me. We shared stories and life as if we had known each other for a lifetime.

What does all this have to do with anything?

Here is the thing.
I am reminded that we don’t obey God because we know the rules (His Commandments), we obey Him because His nature, in us, is displayed through these commandments.

Likewise, His nature is displayed in each one of us who has been given this “new heart” through “being born again.”

Unfortunately, I have too much of old Randy, to adequately display God’s nature, but I, sometimes, shine a little.
Ralph Hendricks shines with it, and the same spirit that lives in me is drawn to that spirit in him.
Todd Pruett shines with it, and the fellowship (koinonia) that results when the pieces we carry of God’s infinite ability come together, the result is a deep connection that can be explained in no other way.

My Point.

As a body of believers, we have to be aggressively showing and telling each other how this life, this unexplainably, complex, and unnatural life is navigating its presence through our days.

My eyes have to be open, to see the constant, invisible, active presence and involvement of the Creator of the Universe, in my tiny, yet, very important life in this world.

My heart has to be asking the Joy of my heart, what can I do today?

Everything I do, everything that happens to me, every “accident”, every joy has a Purpose.

When I see it, how can I not share it?

Standard