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)

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 with new eyes and understanding in the Bible.

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 that 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.

6/29/2016

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MAKE ‘EM LAUGH

I used to want to be a professional baseball player.

For the Yankees.

I didn’t get close. I couldn’t make the high school baseball team.

I love a good comedian. A good laugh is so invigorating.

I thought, “ It would be so great to be that funny, hearing the crowds laugh at your incredible wit.”

I watched them. Studied them.

I realized that they had to tell the same stories over and over and over.

They had to endure the guys like me coming up to them and saying, “Here’s one for you….”

It seems kinda like having a job where you do the same thing over and over and over.

And, sometimes there was no job for you.

I don’t think I was called to that.

But, I have found “a calling” that fits me.

Walking (sometimes running) through a life that is different every day, even though there may be a surface sameness.

Discovering relationships, expressing thoughts, working at something I am reasonably good at because I have done it over and over and over.

And, all the while, connecting my inner Life with the One who planted this Life inside me, and discovering, every day, a little more about this guy who is loved incredibly by the God who called him.

“In the image of God, He created them….”

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“DON’T HATE ME BECAUSE I’M BEAUTIFUL “

Well, maybe not all over, but everyone is beautiful when they smile.

Don’t you think so?

One of the most difficult results of this COVID-19 “pandemic” has been the division caused between friends and family about the refusal by some to wear the mask.

The mask that covers the face, covers the expression, covers the smile.

I have had a couple of encounters where I was rebuked fairly soundly for being so selfish. When asked why I wouldn’t comply, my response was, “I just believe it is wrong!”

We all can see what a political hotbed this pandemic has become.

I have observed many, many, many lies being told.

When found to be false, many just moved on to a different set of lies.

My question is: What are the reasons for telling a lie?

To protect myself from some painful or emotionally draining consequence of something I have (or have not) done.

To give information to make myself appear better in someone else’s eyes.

To deceive in order to gain power.

To manipulate someone into complying with my desires.

To keep from hurting someone’s feelings. ( Although, deep introspection may make this a subset of one of the other four.)

So, if I find that I have made major changes in my life because I have believed a lie, what do I do now?

Do I continue to act as I acted before, if for no other reason than, to curry the favor of those who continue to believe the lies they have been told?

Or, do I leave the lie and pursue the truth…at all costs?

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So, how could I determine who was telling me the truth?

The Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Forty three years ago, I met, for real, the One who said I must be born again to be able to even see the kingdom of God.

He began to open my eyes, to teach me Truth, principles that would carry me through any and every decision that I ever had to make.

“Do not fear, for I am with you.” He began to teach me the crippling effects of fear.

“I will send the Comforter (the Holy Spirit) and He will guide you into all truth.” He started opening my ears to the “sound of His voice”, to discern between His voice and the voices of His enemies.

“Trust in Me with all your heart, and don’t rely on your own human understanding.” Trust was a difficult learning path, because the answer wasn’t always immediately available. But the act of trusting when I couldn’t see the outcome brought a genuine peace that I hadn’t had before.

I see, now, that there is a worldview that pulls me away from God.

“There is a way that seems right to a man. But that way leads to death.”

The lies have multiplied, the ones spreading the lies move from one lie to another, with never a single admission of error.

“To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

John 8:31, 32 NIV

And being free is a better place to be.

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WHEN THINGS DIDN’T GO MY WAY

I remember, as a young eighth grader, talking my best friend, David H., into trying out for the eighth grade basketball team with me.

For the previous few months, we had walked home from school together to his house, where I helped him fold and deliver papers on his Garland Daily News paper route. I worked for no pay, because it didn’t seem like work, I was just spending time with my friend.

Afterward, we would play basketball in his driveway until I would have to get home for dinner.

David had never played on an organized team, so I talked him into trying out.

We went to practice each day, then went home to deliver his papers.

A few days later, “the list” was posted. It only contained the names of those who made the team. David did. I did not.

I think I shed some tears of disappointment.

I remember thinking, “I probably would have made it, if only I had been a bit taller.”

David’s mother asked me if I would take over David’s paper route until the season was over.

I learned to enjoy work, and the financial benefits of doing a job well.

I rooted for David from the stands.

In the ninth grade, I got my own paper route, this time the Dallas Morning News. I would wake up to a clock radio at 4:00 am, ride my bike a mile or so to the shopping center to get my papers. EVERY MORNING. 7 DAYS A WEEK. During this time, making seventy to one hundred dollars a month, I always had money at hand. I would often loan my parents five or ten dollars when they asked. When I delivered papers, I got pretty good at the sidearm throw, usually hitting the front porch. When I missed, I would get off my bike and place the paper on the porch.

In 10th grade, I tried out for the South Garland basketball b-team. I tried so hard. I wanted it so much. I did not make the team. “If only I was taller,” I thought.

Looking back, while I had decent speed and quickness, and good hand-eye coordination, I was never disciplined enough to put myself through the necessary repetitive drills to become skilled with ball handling and shooting.

A short time later, I got my first hourly job with Safeway. My boss’s name was Perry Stan Butts. He smoked those little Camel cigarettes. I was scared to death of him.

My first day, I was scheduled to work 4:30-9:30. It was a Friday. It was busy. They taught me how to bag the groceries, take them to the cars and load them. I worked nonstop until around 8:30. Bagging, bagging, bagging. I never stopped for water. Never took a bathroom break. I was a bit overwhelmed.

When it slowed down a bit, one of the older package boys took me to the back room.

The bottle room.

(For you younger readers, in the old days, when you bought a soft drink, you paid a nickel a bottle deposit on every single bottle. But, you would get your money back when you brought all your bottles back to the store. But, someone had to take all those bottles, separate them according to company, Coke, Dr Pepper, RC Cola, Seven-Up, and put them in proper cartons, then proper wooden cases, then stack them according to company in the back room. I was that someone, 16 year old 5’7” sophomore.)

So, that first night, I entered the bottle room. There had to be 20 or 25 grocery carts FULL of bottles, and Bob Hendershot showed me how to do all the separation and stacking. Then he left me there, to finish by myself. I was over whelmed, but I finished.

That night, after going to bed, I sacked groceries and “racked bottles” all night long.

The next day, I learned that I was required to take a 15 minute break (union rules). Someone could have told me.

A week later, I received my first paycheck, 13.67 after taxes.

This made it all worthwhile. Fridays were great.

Why am I telling you all this?

Now, I am 69 years old, working for myself as a chimney sweep and window cleaner.

I love to work.

I learned the joys of hard work because I wasn’t good enough at playing a game to be chosen for a school team.

But, when I went to Rice University, I walked on as a hopeful for the Rice soccer team. I had never played soccer.

But I could run.

I made the team, eventually became a starter, scored one goal in three years, and worked evenings for Safeway.

I didn’t became a follower of Jesus until 7 years later.

But, I can now look back and see the Hand that had guided my circumstances, guided my steps before I knew Him.

And He begins, even before we love him.

“And we know that in all God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” Romans 8:28-29

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HAPPY WITH MEDIOCRITY?

The conversation started with a question.

“So, you don’t think it is possible for a Christian to be gay? What would you say if I told you I have been in a committed, loving relationship for over ten years.”

“Well, that says a lot about your loyalty and strength of commitment….”

“What about a Christian that overeats? Isn’t he just as guilty for indulging himself, for giving into his desires?”

Good question, don’t you think?

What about one who is sexually immoral, or commits adultery, or puts some thing in has life ahead of his commitment to God (idolatry), or one who takes stuff that doesn’t belong to him, or one who still likes to get drunk, or high, or someone who gossips, or someone who is still a little bit shady in his business dealings?

Can this one still be a Christian?

Could we be asking the wrong questions?

C.S. Lewis would say that we are happy sitting in the mud in our backyard making mud pies instead of spending a holiday at the beach.

A Christian is one who has received a gift from His creator, a gift of life that goes on forever, that cannot die, that gives him the ability to see God, to see His kingdom, to drop his chains and become free to be what he was created to be.

Why would I want to live in the old way, desperately searching for a tiny morsel of pleasure in the dirt, when there is a path laid out for me that leads to a life of inexpressible joy?

If I am happy with life the way it is, the way it was before I “became a Christian,” then, maybe I haven’t yet received a new life.

Maybe, the questions I should be asking are, “Do I belong to the One who made me?

Is He still changing me into what He made me to be?

Do I want to please Him?

Or me?”

“You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6)

You will like the new you!

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WHEN WHAT THE WEIRDO SAID COMES TRUE

Genesis 7

I looked out the window. He was cleaning up the work site.

“Looks like he is finished. He’s putting away all his tools,” I called to my wife. She came to the window to look.

“What will he do next?” she asked, then turned to go back to the fire to finish cooking our meal.

He had been building this “box” for my entire life. His son, Shem, and I were the same age, and we used to play together around the tools and the gopher wood planks. I liked to watch the old man build, and I would ask questions.

“What is this you are building?”

“An ark.”

“How do you know how to do this?”

“God tells me.”

“What’s it for?”

“There will be a flood. No one listens to God any more.”

I would watch from my house when he would put “sacrifices” on the altar he had built. I enjoyed watching the fire carry the smoke up to the sky. He would talk to the sky.

When we were older, Shem began to help his father in the construction. His father would hand me a hammer and teach me to drive nails. So I helped, too, for a while.

But, I had began to help my father in his camel raising business, and Shem and I just grew apart.

A few years later, Shem took my sister to be his wife. Shem’s other two brothers also took wives. The whole family worked on the box.

They became a joke to the community.

“He says it’s gonna come a flood. Hahahaha, been saying it for years. Crazy old man.”

I would laugh, too. He was a bit strange. I kept watching, though. The box got bigger and bigger and bigger.

The camel business was doing well. Men came from all over to buy camels. We had good camels, and we got a good price.

They would all comment on the neighboring building project. “Still at it, I see. Crazy old man!” I would laugh along with them.

After many years, I got used to the spectacle, as did everyone else, and I didn’t pay much attention anymore. Business was good, and we were making good money.

The day the old man finished the box, I saw him walking toward me.

“I need a couple of young camels, a male and a female. How much would that be?”

We had the best camels, so I told him my price.

“Oh,” he replied, “ I didn’t know they were that much.” He turned back toward the box, “ God will provide.”

“What are you going to do now that you are finished?” I called after him.

“In seven days the flood will begin.”

I laughed out loud, muttering, “Crazy old man. A hundred years, and nothing has happened. Crazy old man.”

The family went into the box.

The next morning, my wife said, “Two young camels got out of the pen. You need to go put them back.”

What I saw took my breath away. My camels walked straight into the box followed by myriads of other animals, some two at a time, some seven at a time, birds, oxen, even wild animals. I didn’t dare to get close. But I watched. I couldn’t look away.

Then the strangest thing happened. The door slammed shut, as if by an invisible hand. I ran to the door, and with all my strength, banged on it.

“Two of my camels are in there,” I yelled. “You never paid me!”

There was no answer. The door remained shut.

A few days later, the rain began to fall. A lot of rain. It wasn’t long before the water began to rise and come into the house. The roof was breaking apart, and we couldn’t escape the drenching.

I looked outside.

The box was gone.

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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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