staying alive or LIVING FOREVER?

Randy Epps 8/9/20

This world we are living in is quite a risk, yeah?

And, suddenly, 2020 rolls around and the leaders of the world have taken it upon themselves to “protect” everyone, no matter what.

Well, not everyone. But, maybe everyone that might ever have a chance of getting this new dread disease that we are told surrounds us, on every side.

I am starting to understand that this is not really a safe world, anyway.

When I became a chimney sweep in 1982, then added window cleaning to the mix in 1986, I had no idea of the coming dangers I would face.

In 1984, at dusk, after a thirteen hour work day, traveling at least 70 mph, I drove under a bobtail truck parked partially in my highway lane. I saw the back of the truck before impact and found myself standing outside of my little Toyota, in the middle of Hwy 30 near Greenville, the cab sheared off. I was taken to the hospital. I suffered only a cut to my scalp (3-4 stitches) and a cervical strain. I joked that the angel twisted my neck when he jerked me out by the head. Wendy took me home the next day.

I have discovered that Satan hates window cleaners and sends his air force after them on a regular basis. (Our battle is not against flesh and blood, but sometimes we do have to fight those demon red wasps.) I have no idea how many times I have been stung (hundreds) but I can guarantee you there were dead demon bodies after each one. About 12 years ago, though, I had my first allergic reaction to the stings, and I would take some benadryl and sit in my truck for an hour as I went through some sort of foggy twilight zone experience. Finally, I got some epi pens. I would always finish the job and drive home.

One time, a builder asked me to power wash a metal roof. I didn’t want to do it, but I bid it high, hoping he would turn me down. He accepted. I got about 3/4 of the job done, my pressure washer ran out of gas, and I went down to refuel, and get some water to drink. When I went back to the roof, I had unknowingly gotten a little wet sand on the bottom of my shoes. As soon as I started to spray, my feet slipped I slid on my back trying to grab anything I could to stop the slide, sliced the heck out of the tips of my fingers on my left hand. I landed on the deck, unhurt, but bleeding. Wrapped my hand with a towel and duct tape, loaded my equipment and drove home. I did not finish the job.

Once, I was cleaning a fairly high window on a deck, and, trying to save a step, I tried to reach a little higher than I should, my ladder slipped. I wasn’t real high, so I rode the ladder down, and , I would have been fine, except my heel, resting on the rung, took the impact and cracked in three places. The owner helped me load my equipment, I drove home, and took off 6 weeks.

Remember in 2018, one week after the most severe wasp reaction, when I stepped onto a roof, my on-the-roof ladder leg caught the top of my on-the-ground ladder, and set me just a little bit off balance. I stepped to catch myself, stepped onto air, and fell 12 feet onto my back, breaking 6-12 ribs. I finished the job, had the owner’s son help me load my stuff, drove home, went to the hospital. I took off 2 weeks.

And, then, this last fall, 13 feet, onto a child’s wooden picnic table, on my back, breaking my left scapula, and fracturing and compressing my T4 vertebra. I couldn’t raise my left arm, so one-handed I loaded my equipment, drove myself home, and Wendy took me to the hospital. A blood test found me to be anemic. I was back to work in 4 weeks.

And when I returned to work, I was stung once the first week (epi pen used), and again the second week (oops, using the remaining epi pen, I thought, “That didn’t hurt at all!” Then I saw that it was a trainer, a pen to practice the epi pen maneuver) so I took one benadryl and itched like crazy all the way home.

The anemia prompted a colonoscopy to find the reason for the anemia, and the doctor discovered a cancer growth in my colon.

I haven’t mentioned the time when I worked for Dr Pepper and was robbed at gunpoint by two men in South Oak Cliff.

Or the time when I worked for Pepsi Cola and we were told to take our trucks out on the day of an ice storm. As I was going down a hill, there was a guy in a car in front of me, facing the wrong way on the right side of the road. He looked my way and jumped out of his car and ran from it. I looked in my mirror and saw my trailer swinging past me on my right side. It corrected itself when it smashed this guy’s car.

Why I am I telling you all this? I have spent my life working, trying to do a good job, trying to provide for my family. Any one of these “accidents” could have ended my life.

LIFE IS NOT SAFE!

It has never been safe.

We don’t see the statistics now about how many people die every day from NON-COVID-19 related deaths. But, we have to realize that death is part of the process of life. We all get to try it. We usually can’t predict its timing.

Why did I keep going back to work if it was so dangerous?

Because, so many times in the Bible, Old Testament, New Testament, the words appear, “FEAR NOT…DO NOT BE AFRAID…FOR I AM WITH YOU!”

There wasn’t a single one of these incidents I have mentioned that the government offered me any protection.

I had to make the decision, do I want to be safe to stay alive, or do I want to Live?

Jesus said that He came so that I could have a Life that I had never experienced before: a life of joys, sorrows, ups, downs, falls, recoveries. He offered me a life where I could find His strength in times when mine was gone.

I wonder how many of us are letting a fear of a disease disrupt our need to be together in fellowship? Intimate times with family, friends, brothers and sisters in Christ have been closed down because of social distancing and mask wearing. And people continue to get tested positive for Covid, by the millions, and, a fraction of one percent actually die.

But the government says that this is apparently the worst thing we have ever seen, and we have to do these things that separate us to protect us.

I didn’t ask the government to protect me from disease or the natural hazards I may face in everyday life.

Is that what you want?

The riches of life are found when we realize that life is not safe.

But this Life, in Jesus, is GOOD.

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INVISIBLE ENEMIES

I may have an unfair advantage, so don’t get your feelings hurt if this doesn’t apply to you.

Covid-19 has been called the invisible enemy, among other things.

Not my first invisible enemy.

Usually, when we discover an invisible enemy, our first, and most long lasting reaction is fear.

Think about a haunted house, a strange noise in your house at night, or a novel corona virus, which may kill two million people in the US.

And, when everybody is aware of the invisible enemy, then it becomes the topic of almost every conversation.

So, here I was, in the fourth week of recovery from my fall. I was feeling pretty good, but I had been involved in way too many debates on Facebook over the last three weeks.

I had to admit to Wendy on Sunday after church that I was starting to deal with some depression.
“I just wake up, feeling kinda down,” my voice cracked, and I realized it was more than just a little bit.

“Why don’t you get off of Facebook for a while? “
I started to recoil. That’s not a good idea. I have so many things to say, yet.

“I’m serious. I moved the whole app way back in my phone. I haven’t been on it for days. It was just too much.”

She had also stopped watching the news, keeping the cooking channels and YouTube craft videos on most of the time.
I’m thinking, “There is so much going on. I can’t just drop it all. Can I?”

“Look. Just do it for one week.”

My teeth were gritted, but I gave a less than convincing assent.

She didn’t believe I could do it.

It’s been four days, now. I stopped Facebook notifications, and I haven’t opened it one time.

What I have learned.

I am not afraid of COVID-19. I believe it is here, a lot of people are getting it, a small small percentage of those that get it die.

If I do get it, I will either have a mild case, a little more serious case, or a very serious case, I could die, or I may not get it at all. It is kind of out of my control.
Because it is invisible.

The invisible enemy that does cause me anxiety is the voice that does not originate with the God I love.
The voice that tricks me into thinking that if I argue better that I will change minds. The voice that keeps taking my focus off of the Life that I have been given, and brings up anger, indignation, and even despair on the direction this once great country is going.

So, without Facebook, this week, I went back to work. The ladder seems really heavy. It is amazing how quickly we can lose muscle tone. But I finished three good days of work, not too much slower than I was, but quite a bit more tired.

All this is to say, I miss seeing all the varied views of my friends and frenemies on Facebook, because I think an exchange of differing ideas is important.

But, I realized that this path I am on, is a path God is ever laying out for me, and my experienced life is part of making me into the new person that began in 1978. Sorrows, joys, accidents, pain, recoveries, mask, not mask, all teach me something about me, and how I need to yield my life to the One who has a purpose that I am slowly learning to find through this experience.

So, I may be back to Facebook. Eventually. Or maybe not.
But, if you ever want to contact me or comment about anything I share, feel free to send me an email to rtepps5115@yahoo.com.

I still have so much to say.

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TOWER OF BABEL

There is a story in the Bible of the people of the world, who were all of one language, coming together with the intention of building a tower to the heavens. Their purpose was to make a name for themselves and to strengthen their nation, so they couldn’t be scattered.

According to the Bible, God was not pleased with the efforts of man to elevate himself over his creator, so He confused their speech, creating different languages and scattering them over the earth.

I admit, I have a fairly local perspective, having always lived in Texas, never having travelled outside the US except one brief foray across the border into Mexico.

But, I can see how the nation as a whole has decided over the last 50 years to leave behind a biblical understanding of right and wrong, and ethical behavior and to begin to build its own “tower of babel”, a system of man made laws, overruling the previous standards the nation had clung to as a result of a basic belief in a supreme being.

In the original story, God made divisions among the people, making it difficult, if not impossible, for them to work together in order to accomplish great things.

Is this happening today to this country? In our zeal to separate state from any form of religious expression, are we causing God to create a division that cannot be overcome? Not a division of language, but a division of ideology.

As long as we believe that the answer lies in a political party, we are only moving away from the solution.

I shudder to see what happens when our tower begins to fall.

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WHEN I FOUND MYSELF TRUSTING THE OBVIOUS INSTEAD OF THE TRUTH

Yesterday, 22 days after my fall that broke my left scapula and fractured and compressed my T4 vertebra, I had two doctor appointments to go to.

The first was an orthopedic/sports doctor to tell me how soon I could get back to work.
_____________________

Two years ago, when I broke some ribs, no one would tell me how long a recovery time I would need before I could go back to work. “Your body will let you know,” they would say. So, in faith, (trusting my Lord and Savior, Jesus) I decided to give myself two weeks. In two weeks, I returned to the job I love.

So this time, the injury seemed more severe, and the doctors in the hospital said six to twelve weeks.

The first four to five days, I found myself thinking, “Am I done?”

But, as I sat around hurting, taking pain meds to sleep, something in my mind began to change. My brothers who shared this life began to awaken in me the light that had begun to dim.

“Wendy, I don’t think I’m afraid to go back to work, “ I said one day.—

So, this orthopedic doctor tells me on the 22nd day after the injury, “You should be able to start doing stuff. There may be a bit of soreness, but you will not damage anything by working.”
YEA!

The next doctor was the one who does colonoscopy and GI tests. While I was in the hospital, they had discovered that I was anemic. Two years ago, my hemoglobin count was 13.5. Now, the day of my injury, it was 7.8. That’s bad. They took a second sample the next day. 8.5.
“Good,” I thought, “at least it is improving.”

Two weeks later, another test. 9.3.

So, on the 23rd, Dr.Nwaingwe (pronounced wig way. I’ll refer to him as Doc) began to ask me questions, “Ever smoked? Ever drink? Heart? Lungs? “ And on and on and on through the lists of normal maladies besetting those my age.
I answered no to all.

He stopped, looked at me, and said, “You are a unicorn!”

I started to like this guy.

So, Doc looks at the low hemoglobin count and says, “ We need to find the reason for this low count. There is always a reason.” He told me a list of things that could cause it.

“Well,” I said, “ At least, it is getting better. 7.8, 8.5, 9.3. “

Doc replied, “No, it doesn’t work that way. The first two were probably mistakes. We will take another sample today. You see, low hemoglobin takes weeks to rebuild. Taking iron or B12 may help if that is the reason for the depletion, but it would still take 6 to 8 weeks for the bone marrow to restore the hemoglobin.”

And, then, I remember who holds my life in His hands.

I look at Doc, smile, and say, “You seem to forget who you are talking to. Remember, I am a Unicorn.”

He laughed.

Oh, I wanted to preach. To tell him of the greatness of my God, the wonders of His plans, the strength that He had to take care of my weaknesses, the very idea that I was even alive was a miracle of His doing.

God held my tongue.
I was on the doctor’s time, now.
I can hardly wait for the results of this last blood test.

The reason I am sharing this today, before I know more, is because, this morning I woke up depressed.

My eyes have been focused upon the masked masses, where I cannot see someone smile.
Focused on the state of my country and the world, where evil seems to be becoming the new good, as good becomes the new evil.

When I arose, I learned that an old friend of mine whose wife recently spent several weeks in the hospital after suffering a stroke, came home last Friday, had to go back today. Possibly with another stroke.
I sent him a message to remind him to keep his eyes on the One who had given him new life so many years ago.

In reminding him, I reminded me.

We do not fight against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces of evil throughout the world surrounding us.
We are in this world.
But not of this world.
We have a strength that allows us to see beyond.

And.
The BEYOND IS VERY GOOD!

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TRYING TO HEAR THE VOICE AMIDST THE CLATTER

Hmmm. Funny story.

I used to believe that someone like a Senator, a Congressman, a President or other elected leaders were there because of some special gift of leadership they held.

Elected by the people, they were there to serve the people who elected them.

That’s what I learned in school.

In 1978, I had this supernatural experience.

I had grown up being told about the God that created the heavens and the earth.

Every Sunday.

One week in summer during vacation Bible School.

A couple of hours a day for a week in summer during summer camp after I outgrew Bible school.

When I was a junior in high school, 1969, I began to taste a bit of freedom as an almost adult.

From that point, I lived as if there were no God.

I believed He existed, but what did that have to do with me?

In 1978, He opened my eyes, my ears, my mind to a world of brightness, wisdom, understanding, and I came to know the One that created the heavens and the earth.

I began to read the Bible, for the first time. The words ignited a fire, a life, a purpose in me that I had never before felt.

I began to hear His voice, quiet little nudges that would push me toward or away from something, instruct me. “This is the truth….this is not true…can you see why, my son?”

I began to think more like my Father, asking for guidance in making choices.

Baby steps. Here a little, there a little.

This new relationship was not restricting, but was more like a magnificent freedom.

FREEDOM!

Sometimes I didn’t pay close attention to the nudges.

I would always, later, regret the choice not to follow them.

I would lose that sense of freedom.

All this is to say, these nudges still come.

Sometimes, I get the sense that something is not quite right in what I (we) are being told by these elected and “qualified” leaders, and the experts that are speaking to me (us).

PANDEMIC!

After years of watching the television news devolve into a method of lying to achieve a hidden agenda, of watching the country I live in become what seems to be irreparably split with little or no hope of regaining any sort of unified understanding, the pandemic arrives.

FEAR!

Now, I live in a world that is divided by race, by political ideology, by social distance, by masks (or no masks), by ordered isolation, by shutting down nonessential businesses….

I keep getting this nudge, “What doesn’t seem right, my son?”

We are being pushed to trust no one. They may be a carrier of the virus. They may be a carrier of white privilege. They may not have a mask on. Why not? They want people to die? It is so much bigger than what we are seeing.

FEAR AND FREEDOM DO NOT OCCUPY THE SAME MIND SPACE!

God created us with this amazing ability to fight disease in our body. He also numbered our days, meaning, that He has a plan for each one of us, that He will “nudge” us toward if we learn to listen to Him, to walk with Him, to tell Him when we fall, when we are afraid, and that we are grateful and love Him.

There are many voices in the world.

There is one Voice that tells the truth

God’s enemy comes to steal, to kill, to destroy, to DIVIDE, to make us afraid.

He seems to be accomplishing his task.

Jesus came to give me life, a life of abundance, of purpose, of joy.

“Fear not, for I AM with you.”

“It is for freedom you have been set free.”

The voice you hear will decide your life.

“In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. Deliver me, O Lord, from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue.

Too long have I had my dwelling among those who hate peace. I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war!”

Psalm 120:1-2, 6-7 ESV

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PROTECTED CLASS?

7/17/15

DO WE REALLY WANT TO BE A PROTECTED CLASS?

Maybe, as Christians, we should stop worrying and fighting about our constitutional rights, and start doing what we were always told to do: sharing the good news that your sins can indeed be forgiven, and making disciples of Jesus, our God and savior.

I know it seems more satisfying to have all this righteous indignation, but really and truly, what would you expect the unredeemed to do?

As we lose our “rights” we gain the ability to prove that we are different from the world.

“Are we to obey man or God?”

When we are publicly ridiculed and shamed, the counterfeit Christian will slink away, those led by the Spirit of God will shine brighter.

SPEAKING THE TRUTH, IN LOVE.

NO MATTER WHAT.

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the voices Are GETting LOUDER!

Originally written 7/16/16

They are still getting louder!

First off, you progressive minds out there don’t need to read any further. There is no god, no spirit world. All superstition. Education, science, and progressivism holds all the answers that we ever need. Yeah, we get it.

The demon hordes are expanding their range, increasing their attack, turning up the volume.

SILENCE THOSE WHO DISAGREE!

KEEP YOUR RELIGION TO YOURSELF, YOU CHRISTIANS.

LOVE MEANS WE EMBRACE ALL LIFESTYLES.

ALL CHOICES THAT MAKE YOU FEEL BETTER ARE GOOD.

YOUR LIFE IS SO MUCH MORE IMPORTANT THAN HIS.

YOU DESERVE THIS.

DON’T LET ANYONE STAND IN YOUR WAY.

On, and on, and on….

Their purpose is not to bring one message to unify.

Their purpose is to speak the idea to your mind that you are already beginning to entertain.

The idea that you are the focus, you are the center, your will is the most important.

There is a Voice that whispers. One will only hear it when he is quiet, listening intently.

“There is a way that seems right to mankind. Death follows.”

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.”

“If you seek me, you will find me, if you seek me with all your heart.”

“I know the plans I have for you. Good plans, prosperous plans, plans for your future, full of hope, full of purpose, full of joy.”

“I formed you, I knew you before you ever came into this world.”

“I knew you could not follow me on your own.”

“My way is the only way to me, the life I offer you is the only life, my truth is the only truth.”

“The Father of lies fills the earth with his lies.”

“I knew my enemy would deceive you.”

“I love you so much, I sent my Son to die in your place, so you could live forever with me in my place.”

” I have this gift for you.”

“All you have to do is accept it, and I will give you a completely new life. One that will last forever.”

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TRUST?

July 11, 2015

I read a poem yesterday that made the statement (paraphrase); when you finally realize that god cannot be trusted….

I couldn’t focus on any other part of the poem. I thought and thought about that statement.

Is that even possible? (No, not that I thought and thought. The statement, wise guy.)

You can learn that a dog can’t be trusted because he has bitten many times.

A child may not be trusted, because he lies, and disobeys.

A spouse may betray you, and you may find that untrustworthy.

But, what does it mean when one trusts God?

My understanding is that you give up your rights to yourself, your way, your plans, and say, “I trust You with my life. It is Yours.”

Now, if things in your life get rocky, or scary, or very, very uncomfortable, do you say, ” Well, obviously God can’t be trusted”?

What is trust? It means to place your life in the care of another.

God is not a human.
He doesn’t make human errors.
No mistakes.
When things don’t go the way you want, we’ll, that’s exactly right. The way YOU want.

When you trust God, you tell Him,
“Whatever You want!”

You don’t know what the outcome will be.
He does.

Now, you can say,”I don’t trust God,” or “I won’t trust God,” but you can’t say He cannot be trusted because you haven’t trusted Him.

That’s what makes this born again thing so difficult for most people.
” You mean, God makes all the decisions?”

Not for the faint of heart.

Faith is Trust.

You don’t know what God will bring, but you know, He is good.

Proverbs 3:5-6

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REMEMBER THE OLD JOKE?

(Written July 11, 2015. Five years, not much change.)

How many Vietnam vets does it take to change a light bulb?

YOU WOULDN’T UNDERSTAND! YOU WEREN’T THERE, MAN!

For the last few days, I have been in conversations with relatives and friends who have been telling me about “white privilege” and about how many of our problems in this country are directly related to the deeply ingrained ideas of the privileged white race, because we haven’t suffered in the same way as everyone else. We don’t necessarily have to think we are privileged, it is just ingrained within us because we were.

I understand the argument, but something inside me is thinking that this is not what is wrong.

I am moving toward 64 now, and I can remember when we were not as divided as we are today.

We are constantly being challenged to choose a side, fight for some group, stand up for someone’s rights.

I’m not saying that this is wrong.

But it is not changing things.

Now, I am a “privileged white guy” and what I say will probably not make a difference, but, for a while now, I still have the right to speak, though maybe not for long.

The world will always have some oppressed class. Always has, always will. Evil does that, and we have evil among us, growing stronger by the second.

Evil causes racism, evil causes violent response to racism, evil divides people, evil convinces people that God doesn’t exist, evil tells me that I am better than you, evil tells people that God does exist, but that you cannot trust Him.

Evil doesn’t care if it contradicts itself.

Evil only wants to prevent good.

When oppressed people respond to the world in the power of the life of God hidden inside them, instead of responding in their natural inclination to fight back and to punish their enemies, the world begins to change.

Our world is more divided today than yesterday.

You are being asked to choose your side.

When your friend chooses a different side, you lose your friend.

If you are one of the “born again believers” whose life has truly changed, try this. Lift up your eyes, see who God is placing in your path today, and engage them in conversation, get to know them, no agenda, no judgment.

The only LIGHT, that you have is His light.

There is something really good about light.

Darkness cannot resist it.

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LOVE. THE BATTLE. THE PAIN. THE JOY.

(July 11, 2016) PART ONE

Tell me if you have experienced this.

You have grown in your ability to love, even your enemies. You realize that it comes from that new life that was planted in you. It is not a feeling you have mustered up.

So, you are having a conversation with someone who neither has the life, nor desires to have it. You have that sense of affection for the person, and sorrow, because you know he cannot hear what you are saying.

You hold your tongue to keep from engaging in empty arguments. You try to be obedient to the voice inside you, the one that is not your own. The conversation ends.

You feel beat down, emotionally exhausted.

A bit of time passes before you realize that the person you were talking to, and loving was surrounded by a dark one that hates you, and the dark one was using the voice of the human to accuse, criticize, and beat you down.

Our battle is not against flesh and blood….

Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world.

PART TWO

You have grown in your ability to love. You are starting to experience that strange feeling when you connect with a stranger, when you sense that there is a life in the new person that is touching the same life that is in you.

The words that come to you from a stranger, strike you, as if, someone has been told to say exactly what you need to hear.

Instead of being beat down, troubled and accused, you are lifted, encouraged, energized.

You have gained strength to continue this journey, to fight the next battle, to encourage the next sharer of life.

“I will send you the Comforter….”

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