One Year Ago
January 26, 2017
(You’re not listening to me today.)
What do you mean?
(I have been calling you, trying to tell you some stuff, but you are very distracted.)
Well, you know, I have to deal with some things every day. Business, you know. It’s always kinda slow this time of year. I could make you a list.
(Do you forget who I AM?)
No. Of course not. I never forget about you.
(You know my voice. You may be hearing other voices.)
Really? Can you be a little more specific?
You’re looking at me right now, aren’t you?
(I’m always looking at you. You’re my child. I watch everything you do.
That’s a bit intimidating.
(Why? Don’t you watch everything your kids do?)
Well, yeah, but you know I’m 65. Not really a kid.
Okay, I get it. When I act like I can do stuff on my own, that I don’t need you right now, I am acting like a kid. That drives me crazy when my kids do that.
(Why do they do that?)
I don’t know. I’ve got so much experience in this life. I just want to share it so they won’t have to suffer through all the stuff that I did. But they think they know everything already.
(That sounds like someone I know. Was it that bad, the suffering through part?)
Well, yeah, some of it. But, I guess I did learn from it.
(What did you learn?)
Well, one thing, that things may seem really bad for a while, but things change, and I seemed to get through all right.
(Did you do it alone?)
I haven’t forgotten that You were there.
Well, maybe I do forget, sometimes.
(I was there before you knew me. I made you for a purpose, and everything you’ve been through has been part of that purpose. I always loved you. My pleasure in you increases when you include me in your life, when you talk to me. There are a lot of people that I love that don’t even know that I love them.
I would like you to find them.
You should know, I really, really love you.
You do make me smile.)
Will you help me find them?
(Open your eyes. Look around. Listen.
They are everywhere.)
(January 22, 2018)
One Year Ago
Life would be so much easier and calmer if…
We didn’t have close friends…
And we didn’t stand around and talk about important stuff.
The trouble with close friends is that they are learning to trust your friendship.
The trouble with standing around and talking is they start to tell you of things that they are going through that makes their life difficult.
You really didn’t know, until they started to unload…
Well, you sort of knew a little bit…
But, sometimes it really hits home…
It may be one thing, like a death in the family.
It could be a situation that stays and stays and brings in new struggles every day.
It may be a piling on, one problem on top of another, and there just isn’t enough strength to handle ONE MORE THING…
And now, you have this burden that you didn’t have before, that clenching in the gut, that sense of helplessness…
It would be so much easier to just play word games on your phone.
Because there is really nothing you can do to remove the burden from them.
You feel so weak and helpless.
But, maybe, that’s not the point…
You may know someone who isn’t weak and helpless.
And He listens to you.
“Two are stronger than one, and a cord of three strands is not easily broken.”
(January 22, 2018)
One Year Ago
January 20, 2017
Believers in the infinite, invisible God have to remind themselves that they are not in control of the world, but, that they belong to the One who is.
The world seems to be a tortured, confused place, where right is called wrong, and wrong is called right, where normal becomes abnormal, and abnormal, normal.
Our (believers’) dilemma seems to rise from the problems that we encounter when we forget our purpose in belonging to the One True God.
Let your light shine before men….
Be in the world, not of the world….
Broad is the road that leads to destruction, narrow the road that leads to life….
Remember what true life is….
If you have seen Jesus, you have seen the Father….
Unless you have been born again, you cannot see God’s kingdom….
If you forget about the invisible world, you will find despair….
Lift up your eyes and remember where your help comes from….
Trust in the One True God with all your heart, and do not trust in your own understanding….
As you remember to acknowledge Him in everything under the sun, He will direct your paths….
This Life is good….
Follow the One who gave it….
“As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything.”
Ecclesiastes 11:5 ESV
(JANUARY 20, 2018)
We’ve all sung that song. So mournful.
Fearing it as it comes, hating it when it gets here, wishing for relief, for it to finally go away.
I just want it to be easy. Right?
We long for those good days, try to hold on to them as long as we can, looking for the next one when they are gone.
Because…when they leave it just hurts…so bad.
I was watching a show tonight with Wendy. The main character had always wanted to surf as a kid, never got the hang of it, had some pretty bad experiences in his memories as a result.
So, when something bad happened in his family’s life as an adult, he moved his family to a dead end town, to the beach, to try to surf again.
He just couldn’t get it, couldn’t figure out why he couldn’t get it.
Until…someone told him, “It’s your head…”
“You mean, it’s psychological?” he asked.
“No. When you try to stand up, you are looking down at your feet. You’re losing your center of gravity. Look out, at the scenery, at the waves, at me…”
We were made to feel.
Not just pleasantness.
The reason fear is so destructive…it causes us to flee. We miss the experience when we are trying to escape it.
We focus inward.
We are looking at our feet.
This life we have been given is full of richness.
You cannot surf on a calm lake.
The waves that crash and roar, the cancer, the accidents, the emotional turmoils, financial losses, death of loved ones, these waves are the energy of life.
When Jesus’ disciples thought they were going to die on a boat, in a storm, they found Jesus asleep in the back of the boat.
“Where is your faith? Why are you afraid? You are looking at your feet. Stand up, look around you….
LOOK AT ME!”
KEEPING A PROMISE
My young friend, C, has been watching me clean his chimney for 7 or 8 years now.
When he was 6, I told him, “C, if it’s okay with your mom and dad, when you are 10 I’ll teach you how to clean the chimney.”
Last year, he turned 10, but when I cleaned the chimney, they had had to go somewhere, so I couldn’t teach him.
This year, his mom sent me a text: “Time to clean the chimney.”
I told her the day and the time I would come.
“Thank you for answering! Yes, Monday at 9 works great! C is 11 and is remembering that you told him that you’d teach him. Are you truly ok with that? If so, what kink of shoes should he wear?”
They have a metal roof, and the initial step onto the roof always makes me a little bit nervous.
“Slip resistant soles,” I answered.
When I arrived at the house, my mind had gone through all the scenarios of C slipping and sliding off the roof.
His younger brother, W, met me at the truck.
“Mr. Randy, can I help you carry some stuff in?”
I loaded him down.
Then C came out, wearing his brand new work boots.
“I tested them against several others, and I think these would be the best.”
I wasn’t sure.
I handed him some stuff to carry in.
I said hi to mom, chatted a bit.
“C, forgot that you had told him that you would teach him. I had to remind him, “ she told me.
I walked around the house, found a much safer ascent location, where, even if he (or I) slipped, we wouldn’t leave the roof.
Now, I could teach him.
I showed him, once at the roof line, how to safely step onto the roof.
He followed me up the ladder, followed my directions perfectly, took a few steps, then scooted the rest of the way to the top on his butt.
“My shoes feel like they are slipping a little bit, but they are slipping real slow, so it’s okay.”
I smiled. “You’re doing great!”
When he got too the top, he looked around. “THIS IS SO COOL! I’ve never been on the roof before! THIS IS SO COOL!”
I was removing the cap of the chimney, carefully explaining every step. He was watching every move, commenting and questioning to show that he understood.
Now, I scooted off to the side, handed him the first rod with a brush, and said, “Now, stick that brush down the chimney, move it up and down about 8 times, move your hand up a section, 8 times up and down.”
I watched him count the strokes.
“This way, we clean every section on the chimney, all the way down. Now, take this next rod, screw it to the other, and do the same thing again. Then this rod, and this rod.”
He followed all instructions, finished sweeping the flue, disconnected all the rods. I put the cover back on the chimney.
“I am a little bit nervous about going down, though,” C said. I love his honesty.
I could tell he was nervous about going up, but he did it.
That is courage.
“I understand,” I said, “that is hard for a lot of grown men. I will show you how. You’ve got nothing to worry about…you did great on the chimney, by the way.”
W was sitting on the rail of the deck, watching every move. “Mr. Randy, in two years will you teach me how to clean a chimney?’
“W, are you nine?”
“No, I’m 8. You told C that you would teach him when he was 10…I’ll be 10 in two years.” Smiling….
“Okay, W, I guess I will.”
“Now, C, put your left foot against my foot,” (I braced it at the edge of the roof) “take my hand with your left hand, stand up and place your right foot on the second rung of the ladder.”
Done… and done. C was safely on the ground.
Future competitor in the chimney cleaning business?
Maybe so…maybe so.
The other day I was reading an atheist blog about God being a liar.
One of the points he tried to make was that God told Adam that he could eat all the fruits of the trees in the Garden …except one…If he ate from that one tree, on that day, he would die.
The blogger said that living on, working the ground, having pains in childbirth wasn’t the same as death.
I was thinking he missed something.
He didn’t even mention that Adam lived over nine hundred years.
So, what is he missing?
He also mentioned the testing of Abraham in telling Abraham to sacrifice his only son.
He derisively asked what kind of “good” god would do that?
So…what is this guy missing?
As a Christian, I believe that we have “all sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
But, how did it start?
Was it because Adam and Eve did a thing they weren’t supposed to?
I have been thinking about this for a while now.
The blogger used Adam and Abraham to make his points.
Between these two guys, there was a big difference.
Adam began with eternal life.
Adam walked with God every morning in the Garden.
Abraham came along after the flood. After the tower of Babel story.
The whole world had gone its own way, doing its own thing, pretending that God the maker didn’t exist, that He wasn’t in charge, making their own gods out of wood and metal.
But, Abraham heard The Voice.
So did Adam.
In Adam’s case, another voice came along, offering an alternative approach to what God had said.
Abraham believed God, and that became his claim to righteousness.
Adam believed the other voice, and he lost his eternal life…on that day.
If you are supposed to live forever…and you don’t…isn’t that death?
My answer to my blogger “friend” is that I don’t yet understand all there is to understand about my God…But I believe Him.
And, every day of my eternal life, I understand Him a little bit more.
And, I’ve got all the time in eternity to get it right.
(January 17, 2016, three years ago)
I am glad that you see my daughter’s true beauty. Please don’t be upset if I do not trust you right away.
It’s not you. It’s me.
I have very vivid memories of my life at your age.
My purpose in life, then, was to avoid hardship, and to make myself happy.
I have poured my life into your girlfriend from the moment of her birth.
I have tried to model for her what a man should be.
I have tried to give her every opportunity to receive the Life that God offers.
If you would like to gain my trust, I only ask two things:
1. Care more for the well-being of my daughter than you do for your own life.
2. Live your life, make all your decisions in such a way that will move my daughter CLOSER to Jesus because of His life shining from you.
With great hope for the future,
(daughter’s name)’s dad
(January 17,2018…one year ago)
Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding….Proverbs3:13
I was supposed to stand in for the Tuesday Bible Study this week.
Luckily, it snowed. I wasn’t ready.
How do you teach something this basic to men, who are much wiser than you are?
And, just reading about how good wisdom is, does that make you have it?
Maybe, we can’t really get it. I mean, on my own. Reading books, asking questions , seeking wise counsel. Does that do it?
I have seen men of vast intelligence choose paths that even I could see were poor choices, leading to bitter consequences.
There is a passage in Psalms 131 that says, “But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.”
You have to think about these things. A weaned child with its mother is sitting on her lap because he just wants to be there, he trusts her completely, he knows that no harm will come to him when he is there.
(…and know that I am God.)
In James 3, there is a “wisdom from above” mentioned, one that is “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.”
Obviously, that is not my wisdom.
Mine is more like bitter jealousy, selfish ambition; that kind is earthly, unspiritual, demonic, bringing disorder and every vile practice.
My peace can flee in seconds, with one incoming phone call, or forgotten bill, or power outage, or perceived offense.
So, what do I do?
The only thing I can do,
really, the only thing…
since I have absolutely no control over anything.
Calm and quiet myself.
And, like a weaned child with its mother,
Let my Father, the One who knows all things,
The One who controls the Universe
The One who likes to hold me in His arms…
(If you seek Me you will find Me…)
Be still and know…THAT I AM GOD.
With God are wisdom and might; he has counsel and understanding. Job 12:13