THE TIMES THEY ARE A’CHANGIN’

THE TIMES, THEY ARE A’CHANGIN’!

Sometimes, it seems kinda funny, the things I hear on the radio. Like, today, I heard that a college in Tennessee, during freshman week, had the students introduce themselves, with their name, the town they were from, and the pronoun they wished to be used when referring to them. Gender identity. Come on! Do we really want to make life that complicated?

I remember when guys my age (olden days) first started wearing an earring. One ear only, but it was very important which ear you chose. (Anyone remember the rules?) Then guys started using eye makeup. All I could think of, at the time, was, WHY? Why, when it was so simple to be a guy, did anyone want to make it more complicated?

I am tired of being told constantly what I can and can’t say, how certain words may offend, how we have to be sensitive to the feelings of everyone. I haven’t been able to pinpoint the amendment that guarantees the right to not be offended, but we really aren’t using the Constitution that much any more, so there probably is some law somewhere.

Maybe I’m just lazy. When I was in college, I had really long hair, and I vowed that I would always have long hair. But now, my wife cuts my hair, and I tell her to cut it really short. You know why? Because, when I get up in the morning, two brush strokes, and I’m done. No gel, nothing. Simple. Just the way I like it.

I like to have discussions, debates, arguments, all to stretch my mind, and to let me help stretch yours. When you are talking to me, you can call me anything you want, hate what I say, love what I say, or think I am stupid. I promise, offending me is not a problem. I have covered a whole range of stupid in my own life, and some of it still leaks out every once in a while.

But isn’t life funny?

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DIFFERENCES

DIFFERENCES
I came to realize something this last week in my exchange with “the atheists”, who, by the way, all use names that aren’t their own so nobody who “knows” them will realize what they actually believe.
I thought the whole purpose of this internet thing was so we can express ourselves and let our beliefs and ideals and ideas be made known to the whole world.
We all know, don’t we, that not everybody is gonna come flocking over to our side, just because we make such a great argument.
But, we find friends, those with common interests and beliefs who let us know that they like what we say.
And that makes us feel pretty good.
But, when we step into the other side’s world, well, it doesn’t feel so good after all.
They do not flock to your side.
They may begin with a politeness, realizing how ignorant and uninformed you are, but, that actually goes away pretty fast.
The thing that I realized is that the goal of some of these guys (and gals) who probably have real names, is to take away something from those of us who have tasted more from the One we believe to have created us and brought us into fellowship with Him, and
to try to reason us out of this magnificent friendship, so we can finally go back to the way we were before.
So we can go back to being just like them.
And, then I think, so, why am I doing this … talking to these guys who obviously hate everything I have to say?
Well, that’s the difference…
They are trying to take something away from me…
I’m trying to give them something brand new.
And Good.

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CHOICES

CHOICES
God plus nothing else
Or
Everything else without God.
Maybe we don’t have freedom of choice after all.
In the game of life we are born into the world’s team of superstars. No choice. That is where we are placed. An evolving, powerful team of the great and small, the mighty and the weak. All with a place. All with a purpose.
To make the world a better place for me.
“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”
What was that? Who said that?
You were just invited to join a different team.
Now, you choose.
What I want, or what He wants.
It’s simple, really. Continue on your way, making sure you get your way as much as you can, and enduring and fighting when you can’t, or
Giving up your rights, all your preconceived ideas of justice and good, your ideas of what is best for you, and placing yourself into the hands of this new coach, trainer, developer, ruler. His rules. His roles. His team. His ways are not our ways.
Life will certainly become more interesting.
But, certain people will come to hate and despise everything that you come to love. You will begin to recognize hatred, blindness, foolishness, gullibility to the false narrative of this world.
You will begin to recognize the enemy, the plans and agenda of the enemy.
And, you will experience a peace, a joy, a purpose in the hands of the One who is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”

Written 8/22/16

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HATE AND LOVE: THE EVIDENCE

HATE AND LOVE: THE EVIDENCE

I think I knew when the conversation began, that I would not change his mind.

He wanted someone to give him irrefutable evidence, physical evidence, that God is real.
Like an address.
Or a phone number.

Everything that anybody says, his response is that that is not evidence; I only see it as evidence because I want it to be true.

He may have a point.

Can I prove to someone who doesn’t want God to be real that He is real?

Probably not.

No one convinced me.

Well, God did.

When I decided that what I thought I knew about Him wasn’t really making any sort of difference in my life.

“Is there more than this? There has got to be more! And what does it mean to be born again???!!!”

Boom! The answer appeared. Everything changed.

So the conversation with this guy started out, polite enough. He and a couple of others joined in, trying to help me see how ridiculous all my arguments were.

“You’re an intelligent guy, Randy. You are just not letting your brain see the truth.”

Yea! I made ‘em think I was intelligent!

But, the conversation took a turn downward, as I made shorter and shorter responses.

I thought it was interesting that none of these guys used their real names in the conversation. (Well, Jonathan did, but he said it was only because his friends and others wouldn’t realize that it was him.) The others, The Covert Atheist and thespartanatheist, defended the use of pseudonyms because their beliefs could hurt their normal lives if others knew.

Hmm?

I explained that I didn’t mind that they thought I was an idiot…that didn’t really hurt my feelings…I was just able to see things that they did not have the ability to see.

I nicknamed the main guy “Mike” so I didn’t have to spell out the long name every time.

“Mike” called me a condescending jerk (although, honestly, he didn’t say jerk, I just didn’t feel comfortable writing the words he actually used.)

He used some of those words in reference to God, too.

I had a flash of revelation!

“You just gave the best evidence for the existence of God,” I told him. “You hate him. You don’t hate Santa Claus, you don’t hate the tooth fairy, or the green spaghetti monster. You couldn’t hate someone if you knew they weren’t real, could you?”

Of course, he diverted. His hatred was for all the (insert curse words here) christians who are teaching all this (waste material) to children and telling them it is real.

I didn’t try to tell him much more, especially when he mocked my answer to his question, “Do you think God answers prayer?”

It could have been a longer answer that I gave him, but I knew he would miss the love of God involved in the ways God answers, so I kept it short.

“Then God pushed you off that roof and let you fall,” he said.

Oh, LORD, you tell us over and over that the god of this world blinds the minds of unbelievers, and sometimes I forget what it was like to be blind. I pray for “Mike” that you will give him a glimpse of the Truth, and that you would help him to have the desire you gave me, the desire to know you, and that you would give him the ability to love as only you can.

Because, we know we can’t love an imaginary being.

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FIERY DARTS AND FALLING INTO PITS

FIERY DARTS AND FALLING INTO PITS

I tried to sleep in my bed last night, but, about every 20 minutes or so, that muscle/rib combo would clench, squeeze all the breath I had out, and Wendy would gently rub my back as I quick-breathed to get the clench to stop.

I had shown her the swelling in my right foot before we began the struggle to get me into some position where I might fall asleep; sitting straight up with at least three pillows strategically placed behind me to provide critical areas of support.

“We can see how it is in the morning,” I said in response to her suggestion that we get dressed to go back to the emergency room.

At 1:00, I moved back to the room with the recliner, finally hit deep sleep mode around 3:30 or 4:00.

She was standing in front of me at 6:45, dressed and ready to go.

“Here are your clothes. Get dressed. We’re going in. It might be a blood clot.”

She spent the night dozing, a little, and discovering, a lot, of life-threatening reasons for the swelling.

In the Emergency waiting room, I was reading my daily Through the Bible in a Year, and I came across this section of scripture :

“**They surrounded me like bees**; they went out like a fire among thorns;

in the name of the Lord I cut them off!

**I was pushed hard**, so that I was falling, but the Lord helped me.

The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭118:12-14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Hmmmm? Did you catch it?

You would probably have to have read my last few posts, but I said, “Wendy, look at what showed up in my reading today! Is that weird? That is the last couple of weeks, isn’t it?”

She had it on her Facebook page almost before I finished the sentence.

Here’s what I think.

Wendy’s dad told us at lunch that his mother used to tell her mother-in-law that every answer you need is in that book.

Here I am, reading a pre-planned Bible program that catches up with me, sitting in an emergency room, 6 days after being in an emergency room, after a violent fall from a roof (no, you can’t tell me I wasn’t pushed, because I know how the enemy works.) 6 days after having a violent reaction from a red wasp sting (bees? Fiery darts of the enemy? Come on! You can see that, right?) reading a scripture that talks about being surrounded by bees and being pushed and falling.

How could I not think that there is something divinely inspired by the words in this book and the ways and times I find them?

Oh, and the Lord is my strength and my song and my salvation part?

Well you have no idea how many people who carry His life are helping to carry us now, as we limp through this valley of horror and victory, sorrow and joy, ain and relief, despair and hope…

**Finding the goodness of the Lord

In the land of the Living.**

P.S. We are home with a friend delivered meal, a time of rest, and a prognosis of no blood clots, unseen injuries, or life-threatening fears to hold us.

P.S.S. If you don’t know this Life within…

and you want to…

He is inviting you to come on in.

Say yes.

You will never be the same.

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DO OVERS

DO OVERS

Sometimes, I find myself wishing I could turn the clock back, just a few seconds, to make one different move, be just a tiny bit more careful on that roof to avoid that fall that drastically changed everything that I had planned.

So many big, bad things that happened in my life could all be taken down to a moment in time, where, if I had made one slightly different move, all the pain of the consequences could have been avoided.

I remember an Adam Sandler movie from a while back called “Click.” I can’t remember a lot, but I know he had some kind of remote control clicker that could fast forward all the uncomfortable, painful times in his life.

Seems like a wonderful thing, right?

It was one of the saddest movies I have ever seen. (I won’t ruin it; but you ought to to watch it.)

But, if we could turn back time, we wouldn’t just change the bad stuff, we would change all the good stuff that came as a result of the bad stuff.

When I fell, I, surprisingly, didn’t feel afraid, stressed, or worried.

I knew that work would stop for a while.

But I thought about the scripture that I had told my Sunday School class to think about this week:

“Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him…”(psalm 37)

God can see it all. He is never surprised. He knows the future just as well as he knows the past.

He lays my paths out for me, and causes me to walk down them…because of his great love…and his desire to continue to mold me into the image of his son.

If I had turned back the clock, I would have missed meeting all the people at the hospital who daily do their acts of compassion for those hurt and suffering ones who are delivered to them.

The text from my friend that had prayed for me the morning would have had little impact on me.

The gift of a meal and a mowed lawn from the Willard family would never have been received.

The overwhelming love and care of my wife when I can be of so little help, I would have missed…such a great display of the love we call “agape”.

You see, the pain is real, but pain brings my world into sharper focus.

I received so much from all the people I have engaged with in these last few days…

But they received something , too…

The grace of our God pours through them, to give, to share, to love…

to know his pleasure as they obey his call.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

1Thessalonians 5:18

All circumstances .

Even pain.

Thank you, Jesus.

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BEHIND THE SCENES

BEHIND THE SCENES
Tuesday, August 14, 2018
I had a fairly long day scheduled, three chimneys with a lot of driving in between each job.
I had already been to my Tuesday morning men’s bible study, and I pulled into the driveway of my first job around 10:00.
I noticed a new text on my phone, from this morning at 8:16.
“Randy. Lifting you up in prayer this morning. Hope you are well.”
It was from Mike B. He has a house in the Cypress Springs area that he offers as a ministry to those workers for the Lord who need a time of R&R. I have cleaned his windows several times in the past, and the last couple of times, he was there, and we talked, sharing our mutual love of Jesus, about our families, and some of the struggles we were going through.
We became close…you who know the Lord and walk with Him know how this happens…an immediate kinship.
Funny thing is, if I were to see him in Walmart, I wouldn’t have a clue who he was, because the bond is not of flesh and blood, but of the Spirit.
I hadn’t heard from him since May of 2017, and that was in a text.
So, this text was kind of a surprise.
I remembered last week’s wasp episode, so I responded, “Thank you, Mike. I fought the devil last week (wasp sting, reaction) but I was good the next day.
It felt good to know that a brother was thinking of me and praying for me.
I got out of my van, shook hands with my customer and his grown son, and started unloading my gear to clean the chimney.
I looked to the roof and saw that I was going to have to use two ladders to get to the chimney top.
The two guys were friendly, and we chatted and shared during the setup. I had everything ready to go on the inside to finish the job; all I needed to do was get up to the chimney top and brush down.
As I began to get my ladders out they were there, watching, offering help in any way I needed (except for the getting on the roof part…a bit of a fear of heights).
I leaned my shorter ladder to the edge of the roof, put the other ladder on my shoulder, and started up.
This part of the roof was about 9 1/2 feet off the ground.
As I stepped onto the roof, something happened, maybe the foot of the ladder caught on the other ladder, or the roof, and I was suddenly off balance , and I fell, backwards off the roof.
Flat on my back, landing on the ladder and the gravel driveway, all the air rushed out of my body.
I couldn’t see their faces but they were immediately there. “Are you okay? Do you want me to call an ambulance?” They had seen the fall. I believe they were probably horrified.
“No,” I gasped with the tiny breath I could find, “just let me catch my breath first.”
The father brought me a wet rag. “You’re bleeding down the right side of your face.” He went to get me a bandaid.
I felt like I had fallen off a roof. I set on the edge of the porch for some time, just trying to assess how badly I was hurt.
I had to go back onto the roof to retrieve some tool I had left up there. (I know, I know, why would you go back up in your condition? You know, It’s just a man thing…You start something and you hate to leave in the middle.)
After half an hour or so, I figured out a way to finish the job from the inside, and, since all my tools were already there, I did just that.
The two guys waited outside. I was glad. They couldn’t see my wincing with every movement. I preferred suffering alone.
I did finish the job, the son helped me load my gear back into my van, the father gave me my check with a BIG tip for “pain and suffering”, and I began to leave. I called my next customer to tell her what happened and that I would have to reschedule.
“Oh, no. You have to come today…My chimney is smoking and I had to leave the house yesterday because it was affecting my breathing.” She said something about the damper, “smoke” coming out of the chimney.
It was 92 degrees outside.
“Did you have a fire in your fireplace?” I asked, incredulously. Every word hurt. The pain was increasing.
She begged me to come, said no to the fire question, but couldn’t explain the smoke and damper thing very well. “What should I do?”
I told her that it may be soot from the dirty chimney that she was calling smoke, but if it was smoke, maybe she should call the fire department. But I could not come!
I called Wendy, (this was the hard part) told her about the fall and I needed to go to emergency. Get ready. I’m coming home.
The hour drive home was brutal.
At home, I took a quick shower to get the soot off, put on clean clothes, got in the car, and winced at every bump in the road.
I have to say, Wendy was incredibly calm and collected and strong.
You have to understand, normally when I am faced with a situation of having to cancel jobs for any reason, I stress and worry.
Today, though I was in pain, I had an indescribable sense of peace resting on me. (Mike B.)
I knew I was not going to go back to work for a while.
I started planning my “vacation”. Always look on the bright side.
When we got to the Urgent Care Clinic, I told Wendy to go see if they could get me in pretty quick. The last several times we had gone there for any reason, we had long, long waits, and a full waiting room.
Today, the waiting room was empty. (Mike B.)
Wendy called me and told me to come on in.
Only about thirty yards to go…man, I’m feeling kinda light headed…twenty yards to go…I see a chair I am going to sit in…They can see me right away…They ask me a couple of questions, I can’t remember any of them but they told me they were calling an ambulance to take me to Tyler…I’m thinking “so I don’t have to walk back out to the car? YEA!”
I spent Tuesday from 3:00 to 11:30 in the trauma area of the emergency room, but they were pretty swamped while we were there…it took a long time to get to see a doctor…and a longer time to get a room. I heard the word “gunshot” from one of the nurses in the adjoining room.
Wendy and her parents were with me and they kept trying to get someone to tend to me. I kept telling them that I was okay laying there, that there were some more life threatening things going on and that I was okay as long as I could just lie there.
But there was no doubt that my family loved me.
Dr. Holley stitched up my temple hole, eight stitches, I never felt a single pull, beautiful stitching.
Dr. Ellis came in later, and said, “Wow, this is a really nice suture job. Who did this?”
I told him.
“Holley did this?? I’ll have to commend him for this. I thought it was a plastic surgeon’s work. Nice.”
I had a supernatural peace with the hospital admittance part of this day.(Mike B.)
(Usually, my only experience with hospitals is visiting others.)
So, I got checked into a room at 11:30.
Every doctor, every nurse, carried an air of peace while in the room. Friendly, encouraging, conversational.
My last day, Thursday, we had a nurse, Kim (supervisor) who had been called in on her day off because the hospital was so swamped. Her son was getting ready for middle school (“Mom, we get to change rooms. We get a locker!”) So today was supposed to be her day to buy his school clothes. She had to give that job to her husband. I’ll probably not get a chance to hear how that came out.
Anyway, while she was in the room, the news was showing clips of Aretha Franklin’s career. She had just died that morning. I noticed Kim kept looking at the screen, was a little distracted from the questions I was asking.
“My grandmother sang backup for her for thirty years,” she said, “There she is, the one on the right.”
Wow, now that is pretty neat.
I didn’t feel like some old man in the hospital, I felt like a friend to these nurses who I only knew by brief conversations and first names.
Peace. (Mike B.)
We came home Thursday evening, picked up the mail and a pizza from the Papa John’s truck in the Fred’s parking lot, and started to figure out the next few hours…eating, sleeping, long grass in the front yard, taking phone calls from friends.
Thursday night, I tried to sleep in the bed. They had given me prescriptions for muscle relaxers and pain. I thought the muscle relaxer might be the best shot for the night, because of an occasional spasm that would grip me and squeeze the breath out of me.
Bad choice.
I lay in the bed for almost three hours, with constant pain, occasional spasms, unable to sleep.
I got up to go try the couch.
It was worse.
I honestly was wishing for death or at least another night in the hospital. Why did we come home so early?
I moved to my recliner at 3:00, kept adjusting until I found a position, upright, that didn’t hurt, and slept like that for 6 hours. (Mike B.)
Friday was better, I moved around a bit, (maybe a bit too much) paid some bills online, visited with Wendy’s parents, arranged for someone to mow the front yard, read…Wendy is taking such good care of me…and she doesn’t feel all that good…true love…and the prayer of Mike B.
Conclusion: Wow! This was really long!
It’s Saturday morning now, and I had a pretty good night in the recliner, so, if you made it to the end of this “novel” I want you to know something that I have come to realize.
The random prayer of Mike B., because of a thought that God put in his head, did immeasurable good for me in the day of my trial.
I didn’t die, or break my neck, or legs, or back (only some cracked ribs)
I had a supernatural peace through the whole thing
I shared God’s grace with many in conversations
Made some new friends
Realized the love my wife has for me, and I for her
Realized that God knows what’s coming, and allows us to be a part of the care of others when we pray.
Thank you Mike B. for hearing the voice, and voicing the words…you have no idea how much good that prayer accomplished!

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