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.”

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MORAL SUPERIORITY

MORAL SUPERIORITY

You probably don’t have this problem, but sometimes, I have to admit, I get a feeling of moral superiority.

It may be a political cause.

It may be a moral issue.

It may just be some random opinion.

But, if I have an opinion, I generally believe that I’m right.

And, if I think I’m right, it is really hard for me to understand why you can’t see that I am right.

I’ll try to explain myself.

I’ll even try to listen to your side.

But, I will promise you, even if you can’t see things the same as I do, you can still be my friend.

I won’t break your windows.

I won’t burn your house down.

I won’t throw bottles or balloons filled with smelly stuff at you.

I will try to convince you.

But, I may be wrong.

You can try to convince me.

But you won’t convince me by acting angry, and breaking somebody else’s stuff, and not letting me speak.

That only makes me feel morally superior.

And, I know that I am not.

2017 (still applies)

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LATTER DAYS

Okay, LORD, I think I am ready to move into this new season

You have revealed to me my weaknesses

Now I am ready to move in Your strength

Open my eyes today to see the path You lay out for me

Tune my ears to be receptive to Your whisper

Fill my heart with the love that You Are

Let me savor the goodness of Your will

And hold me tight, LORD, hold me tight!

I am Yours!

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THE MAN IN THE MIRROR

I had agreed to take a week of vacation to go with 29 youths to camp near Lufkin.

My new friend, Michael (33)and I (70) were to be the leaders of the 18 boys, and we all stayed in the same cabin. One bunk short, Michael, ex Air Force, agreed to use the cot, placing it by the door that exited the cabin.

“Just in case someone wants to run,” he said.

For me, it had been 12 years since I had taken kids to summer camp. Wendy and I had run the Junior High program at our church, and took this group to camp four years in a row.

There seems to be a lot of difference between 58 and 70.

Michael established himself rather quickly as the father figure in the cabin, ping ponging between enforcer and encourager.

That left me the role of Grandpa.

I had been the Father figure in years past.

I liked being Grandpa.

The roles worked well through the week, even in our times with the entire group of 29, boys and girls, as we shared from our life experiences.

Now, here is the quandary that I faced.

I have maintained the idea that I am younger than my years, and able to do physical exploits that most my age wouldn’t attempt.

Wendy had threatened me, “Do not do anything stupid! Do not hurt yourself!” She told Michael,”Don’t let Randy do anything stupid! Don’t let him hurt himself.”

So I took it easy on the physical stuff, even waiting til the last day to test my ping pong skills, when I took on the winner of a match.

In retrospect, I probably should have taken on the loser.

In our cabin, as you came in the door from outside, there was a wall with a mirror. Michael’s cot was to the right.

Whenever I would talk to him in that location, I would see in the mirror his 6 foot something youth and strength, next to my 5’6″ image of my dad. (Who was actually 5’9″)

After being trounced in the ping pong match, I just found myself feeling beaten down, and old.

Now, the boys who had come to my area of the cabin to hear my stories during the week, had called my section “the therapy room.”

After the week of camp, I had told Michael of my struggle of feeling old and beaten down. I asked for his prayers because I did not want my age to ever be the focus of my thoughts. “We were obedient to the LORD last week. I want my obedience to Him to be above all else,” I told him.

His response: “I would focus on your age, and how, in this stage of your life, you can serve Him. Example: the boys had a reverence for you because of your age.”

Simple words, that immediately lifted my spirit.

The LORD says, “Now, you are ready to exchange your weakness for My strength.

I still have many battles for you to fight, and My Life that you carry will be the only strength you will need. Trust Me with everything. Don’t try to figure everything out.

Let Me lead you. Trust Me, obey Me, and Joy will follow you. Do not be afraid, for I am with you. I will strengthen you. I will hold you. You will accomplish what I have for you to do. Listen for My voice. Watch for My leading. I AM always there.”

Where you lead me,

I will follow.

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JESUS IS NOT SAFE

Seriously, guys, I totally do not blame you for your aversion to making Jesus the king of your life. After 44 years on that path, I have concluded that Jesus is not safe.

You have found a life, with pleasures offered, and you have concluded that the journey from pleasure to pleasure is the best that you can do. You have also concluded that Jesus would expect you to give up those pleasures before you could ever come to Him.

Jesus hates sin. Sin is defined as anything that stands in the way of God’s will, and his will is for you to know him, and the one he has sent.

Sin is like a cancer, and, if left alone, will grow and consume the life that it inhabits.

Jesus is like a surgeon. He knows that if he doesn’t remove the cancer, it will destroy you.

But you do not have to give up your pleasures to come to Him. You can come just as you are. But, there is one condition.

You have to sign the consent form for him to remove the cancer.

Jesus is not safe.

There are times that you will scream in pain.

You will find yourself in most disturbing and uncomfortable situations.

Friends will leave you.

Your enemies will increase.

You will be asked to do impossible things.

I don’t blame you for turning away.

Jesus is dangerous.

BUT HE IS GOOD!

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THE VOICE YOU HEAR

It always kind of bothers me when people say,
“I have never heard from God… I mean , like an audible voice.”

The thing is, God is spirit.
His voice rings out.
Just not like you would expect.

The Bible even says, “Today, if you hear His voice, don’t harden your heart…”
That sounds to me like we should be able to hear His voice.

The first time I heard His voice, I thought it was my own thought.
“What does it mean to be born again?”
I had never heard him before… not when I read the Bible…not when I went through my daily routine…never.
But that day, I came to life.
I started to hear him.

I was just starting out in this brand new life.
I knew less than nothing.
My sister and her husband became God’s voice to me.
Speaking words of life, God’s voice, brought life to my new baby spirit.

I would read the Bible.
It was almost like there was a light shining on the words.
They jumped off the page, throwing truth at me.
God’s voice.

I had never heard it before, because I was dead.
I had to be brought to life.
Dead men don’t hear.

But, I’m not dead anymore.
I hear Him.
I have to admit, I don’t always get it…
I am, after all, little more than a sheep.

But, even a sheep knows its master’s voice.

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RUNNING

The black and white ball was skirting across the field. I had the angle, and I was racing for it. I was flying. As I planted my right foot and swung my left leg to make the cross the field kick. . . .

“Oww! Randy, wake up! Stop your stupid soccer game!” Wendy cried as she kicked me back.

Obviously, this wasn’t my first soccer dream.

From my earliest days, I remember loving to run. Playing chase until my side ached. (I never did find out what caused that. But when the pain subsided, we would all be running again.)

Playing baseball and stealing bases.

Foot races.

Touch football. (two below)

Tackle football.

Basketball.

Then, in college, soccer.

My favorite because I was always running.

I wasn’t always the fastest, but I could always compete.

Not distance running, though.

I was more of a dash man.

So when I was sixty, I played in a student faculty flag football game, and I hurt so bad and so long after that I made Wendy promise to never let me do that again.

But, I still think the running is the most joyous expression of life’s movements.

Of course, my knees hurt now, as arthritis sets into the various joints of my body, my ankles don’t feel that strong, I hobble for a few steps every time I get out of my van, when I get up during the night, I think about the steps I am taking.

Yes. I am 70.

Last Sunday, our Sunday School class had a fellowship lunch after church in the gym.

Wendy and I sat with the youngest couple in our class, and their three boys, 4, 6, and 8 years old.

We talked. The boys played.

At the end, I said to the boys, “I think we need to race around the gym. You want to?”

I don’t know why I thought I could do this, the words just came out.

I had on cowboy boots.

So, I said “Go!” let the three get started, and I took off.

Now, this is a little hard to explain, but this is what happened.

I ran. I wasn’t watching the boys as I passed them. I wasn’t aware of anything except the fact that I was running. I think I was running fast.

Nothing hurt.

It felt effortless, as if I were being carried along.

The oldest boy cut across the gym so he could beat me.

He was smiling and grabbed my hand.

We had only gone halfway around the gym, but I wasn’t even winded.

The six year old came up behind me, hugged me, and said, “Mama, Mama, I didn’t know old men could run so fast!”

I thought,”This is gonna hurt tomorrow.”

BUT IT DID NOT.

At least, not any more than usual.

This is what I think.

My running joy was given to me by my Creator.

“When I run I feel His pleasure.” (Eric Liddell)

My life will not end when this tired old body lays down for the last time.

We hear that there is a new one waiting for us, when we beat death at its evil game.

If I get there before you do, when you get there, you will probably see me as I run past, laughing with joy.

I’m sure, I won’t be the only one.

Holler at me, and I will stop. We’ll talk, and I will have some things and places and people I will want to show you.

But, I may challenge you to a short race.

Did I tell you that I love to run?

“For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.” 2 Chronicles16:9

“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” Psalm 27:13-14

“But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

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CONFLICT! DO WE HAVE TO?!

First off, I’m what they call an avoider. You know, in the fight or flight scenarios, I’m the one that would just pretend that we can all just get along. Conflict cannot be good, right?

Well, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe we were created for conflict. Think about it. Every good story has to have it, something to cause a level of tension, discomfort in our gut. I hate that feeling, in the gut. But, I love it when the feeling is fixed, when something is resolved, and things get good again. (I’m a bit of a good chick flick fan, but don’t tell anyone.)

I said we were created for conflict. That presumes that we were created, not that we evolved. What if things weren’t happening by random chance, and every difficult circumstance that came to us were orchestrated by a master coach, who knew what kind of training we needed to succeed in the “game” we were playing?

The Bible says that we should be really, really happy when these conflicts come, because they reveal weaknesses inside us that prevent us from “winning the game.” They cause us to find the strength to overcome. (James 1:2-4)

For the believer, that strength is revealed to come from an external source, the Creator.

But, even in a non-believers life, conflict can push him to overcome, to grow stronger.

The difference lies in the end result.

In a believer’s life, the weaknesses are replaced by a trust and dependence on the One who grants true life.

To the non-believer, a path to life may be given, but pride and self-reliance will often blind his eyes to this path.

The Bible also says that we can believe that we are deciding our own ways, but that God directs every step, orchestrates every conflict and trial. (Proverbs 16:9)

Is your latest conflict about to bring you joy, or do you just want to escape?

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CLEARLY, I’M OUT OF MY LEAGUE

Clearly, I’m out of my league… (3-6-17)

It started out as a simple comment on an example of “adaptation”.

“Or, maybe it was created that way,” I said.

They knew their science.

I didn’t.

One referred me to a website so I could learn the “provables”. Said that I was asking questions, but not answering his questions.

He was right.

I have a lot of questions.

Kids ask a lot of questions.

It’s not that I doubt science. It just seems that, sometimes, science claims things as facts that may not be facts.

It just doesn’t feel right.

If the age of stars can be proven, showing us the age of the universe, how can they say that they know the age of a star cluster to be 15 billion years?

Maybe 12, or possibly 18.

Billion.

Now if you say someone is between 12 and 18, that’s a bit of a stretch, but some girls start dressing older at a younger age, and, maybe…

But, 6 billion years approximation. Maybe?

(That’s kinda like the government telling us that an infrastructure plan will be about a trillion dollars. Without coughing. Or mumbling.)

And they can’t tell the age of one star. They have to use clusters.

Because they “assume that the cluster formed at the same time.”

Now, it may be me, but that seems like you are having to start with an assumption.

I’m too old to tackle the textbooks. I keep frustrating my friends that like the provability of science as opposed to the nonprovability of God, and the idea of creation as I see it.

My friends are extremely smart, extremely kind, extremely tolerant.

I really like them.

I love the discussions.

I just want them to see what I see.

Maybe it’s true, that knowledge and wisdom are not the same.

Maybe, becoming like a child is the best way to see the real proof.

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