OR WOULD YOU RATHER BE A MULE

OR WOULD YOU RATHER BE A MULE?

My brother, Jeff, decided to have a second memorial for his wife, Ann. Just an intimate gathering of about 12 people (including the 3 or 4 workers who had to be there).

He had spent the weekend absorbed in old letters of Ann’s that he had found, including letters written to the God she treasured.

“She kept all of them,” Jeff said.

In the reading of the decades old letters, he discovered, (or remembered) the love that Ann carried for him, even to the point of writing to God to help her express, even better, that love.

“Randy,” he told me a couple of days later, “while I was reading these letters, crying, feeling her deep love and affection for me, her phone rang, and the caller ID was her number. I had the sudden sense that God’s affection for me was tied into everything, that there was something about light and darkness that I was supposed to understand. I walked by the front door, and, through the transom above the door, I could see the full moon, with wisps of clouds passing in front of the brightness of the moon. It came over me, an instant, overwhelming sense of the Father’s love that had been there the whole time.”

The evidence is in the difference between light and darkness.

Light overcomes the darkness.

I have this ongoing conversation with some friends that keep insisting that there is no “evidence “ that God even exists.

I keep repeating different versions of the same theme: you must be born again, he who has the Son has life, he who does not have the Son of God does not have life, the new creation….

Everything I say falls on deaf ears.

I look at Jeff. I see the evidence that they cannot see.

The world of the natural, where we live, has ways of swinging a club at us, knocking us backward, bringing our focus to a point. Just survive this one thing!

If that life is in us, we have access to that voice that whispers truth, that the world cannot hear.

“I have loved you with an everlasting love…and underneath are the everlasting arms.”

This scripture from Psalms jumped out at me last week.

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.

Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you. Many are the woes of the wicked,

but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in him.”

Psalms 32:8-10 NIV

I put the spaces between the sections for emphasis.

The evidence for God is there. When our world overwhelms us, when our loss seems to be the overwhelming focus of our lives, if we have the son of God, we find the loving eye upon us, the teaching and counsel and instruction on what to do next, and, a sense of the evidence of God’s unfailing love surrounding us.

“Do not be like the horse or mule…”

I thought about the Disney film, “Pinocchio.”

Good old Jiminy Cricket, the conscience of the puppet who wants to become a boy. He counseled him, one time with a song, to encourage him “to swing on a star.”

Would you like to swing on a star?

Carry moonbeams home in a jar

And be better off than you are

Or would you rather be a mule?

A mule is an animal with long funny ears

Kicks up at anything he hears

His back is brawny but his brain is weak

He’s just plain stupid with a stubborn streak

And by the way, if you hate to go to school

You may grow up to be a mule.

I realized, that that life inside, the one that carries us when we can’t carry ourselves, that counsels us and teaches us, and pours the love of the Father out on us, is the evidence.

When you seek it with all your heart, you find it.

Or, would you rather be a mule?

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WHY IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR AN ATHEIST TO RECEIVE GOD’S FREE GIFT OF ETERNAL LIFE

1/19/16

While the gift is free, it cannot be earned, there is the condition that one must have the faith to accept the gift that has been offered.

Two prerequisites for that faith to be there:

1. A person has got to believe that God does indeed exist.

2. A person has to believe that God will reveal himself to the One who truly desires to find Him.

(Hebrews 11:6, my paraphrase)

An atheist cannot do that.

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A NOTE FROM A CHRISTIAN FATHER TO THE YOUNG MAN DATING HIS ADULT DAUGHTER

1/17/2016

Dear_________,

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

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THE FREEZER WAS FULL

1/16/18

The Freezer was full.
“Wendy, I cannot get this chicken and ground beef in here. There is no room! We have twenty bags of the enchilada sauce you made in March.”

(Now, that was an experience! Red enchilada sauce on the walls, the light fixtures….)

Before I knew it, she had offered to share some of the enchilada sauce on Facebook. I would carry it to church with me on Sunday.

After church was over, I had successfully shared with all the prospects. Except one. Vicki had slipped out before I could catch her.

I called her.

“Oh, Randy I looked for you, but I didn’t find you,” she said.

I told her I would bring it by her house.

She met me at the door, thanked me with a smile. “You want to come in and say hi to Jim?”

YES!

When Wendy and I started going to Hollybrook in 2001, we joined a Sunday Bible study class. Jim was one of the teachers. When we had the accident in 2002, the one that took Chelsey to her eternal home, Jim and Vicki were among the first to show up at the hospital.

Jim took me to the cafeteria to get a cup of coffee. He told me the story of his son that had died a few years earlier, on his way home, in a crash.

“ I was so mad at God…’Why would you let this happen?’ I cried out in anger. This anger wrapped me up for quite some time. I believed in God, heaven, even that my son was there…but I was angry that he wasn’t with me.”

He told me how he reached a point one day, where he was thinking about heaven, thinking of the Life that is there, that his son is experiencing.

Someone asked him, “If you could bring him back, right now, would you?”

Jim looked at me across the table. “Randy, at that moment, I was totally aware that that would be the most selfish act I could ever do! I realized that I could not do that, that I would not do that. From that point on, my healing began.”

Jim was sitting in his recliner, a blanket over him to ward off the constant chill. He was so thin, pale.

“How are you doing ?” I asked. “I mean, I know you aren’t feeling good, but how are you doing?”

He smiled. “Randy, one thing I know. Chemo is not gonna be what decides if I live or die. If I live, well He still has something for me to do here. If not, well, I’ve got a lot of people I’m really looking forward to seeing.”

Vicki was standing beside him, smiling. “We don’t know how long any of us have. Jim could outlive me…. “

Jim told me of the cancer in his esophagus that caused him pain every time any kind of food had to navigate its way through. “Even oatmeal. I’m 6 feet tall. I used to weigh 215. I’m down to 135. “

We talked on. I told him of my memories of that day in 2002, how important that conversation was to me, how God had used him and Vicki in our lives.

Now, I’m going to try to describe something.

As we were talking, I looked at Jim’s face, and it appeared to be glowing. The smile was a smile of complete freedom, a peace that cannot be described. He appeared to be someone who, in his pain and struggles, was finding a comfort that soars above the physical, that touches deep inside.

JOY! That is what I saw!

It looked like cancer was winning the battle, if you couldn’t see what I saw.

But, I knew.

Jim was winning this fight!

He had already won!

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A WINDMILL AND A SWIMMING POOL; IN THE FRONT YARD

A WINDMILL AND A SWIMMING POOL; IN THE FRONT YARD

A funeral of a believer is a mixture of tears, memories, and laughter.

My brother, Jeff, lost his wife of 31 years, Ann, to an 8 month battle with brain cancer. It seemed like the cancer had won, until we remembered the promise of a place prepared for us.

Jeff had Ann’s favorite songs playing in the background as he stood and proclaimed the love that they had shared. Remembering moments, and times.

I was proud of my little brother.

He opened the service up to others.

There were several. People who knew her. Really knew her. And loved her. And cried because she was not to be in their lives any longer.

My cousin, Clay, stood up. “Jeff was the one who led me to the Lord. I had always loved music, and I had begun to be interested in classical guitar. I couldn’t afford a new guitar, but I was told I could put nylon strings on my steel stringed guitar.
“Jeff, did you know, Ann gave me her classical guitar?”

Jeff, smiling, said “No, I did not!”

“Yep, it was a Yamaha!” Clay was beaming. He had always been a musical prodigy: harmonica, guitar, banjo. I figured he could play any instrument he wanted to.

He came up to us afterward and we spent some time catching up. We ate lunch together with several of the friends of Ann at a restaurant my brother had reserved. His sister, Holly was there, too.

“Do you remember your house in Lubbock?” I asked. “We went there one time. I musta been 8 or 9. Mom and Dad had told us you had a pool, and we could hardly wait to get there. “ A swimming pool at a house? I hadn’t seen one of those since I had “drowned “ when the inflatable horse threw me when I was tiny.

Clay and Holly both smiled with the memory.

“ When we got to Lubbock, I still remember seeing the house on the hill, a swimming pool in the front yard, and, there, right beside the pool, was a windmill, a big, wooden windmill. That was even better!”

Clay chimed in, “Yeah, my dad had found out that to fill the pool with city water would cost a fortune, so we used that windmill.”

“I can’t remember anything about the house…all I remember is wanting to get into that pool, and wanting to see that windmill up close. I remember getting my swimsuit on, jumping in, and getting out! Fast! That was the coldest water I had ever felt!”

Clay and Holly were smiling in agreement. “Remember the boat?”

I did. We spent most of our pool time paddling a rowboat around in that frigid pool.

We are all so much older now, each of us dealing with symptoms of an aging body that long ago lost its youthful vitality.

Yet, as we remember these moments we shared , we find ourselves transported back to a time when life was simple, fun, exciting.

And life becomes simple, fun, exciting. Again.

And Ann can see again, walk again, with the One who made her, as He says to her, “Well done…well done!”

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JUST A BOOK?

December 21, 2016

Once again, I am blown away by the massive amounts of wisdom I discover in the Bible.

Seriously, I have been reading in this book for almost four decades, and it never grows old, or tiresome.

Familiar passages suddenly reveal wisdom I never before saw, or even considered.

Talking with friends about this incredible book opens new understanding, new appreciation for little intimate details previously undetected.

When you think about it, the guys we read about in the Bible were pretty much like you and I.

Flawed, wondering, questioning, startled, afraid, overconfident, arrogant, proud, humiliated, strong, weak, intelligent, ignorant, seeing the invisible, blind to the obvious….

All being used in some mysterious way by an all powerful God that created them. His goal? That His children would display His perfect love to the rest of His creation, as they find pleasure in the sheer enjoyment of their maker.

This Word, that comes from God, is real food for that new life He planted in me. When I don’t eat, I get weak. Dull. Foggy.

The Life begins to slip into the background, the joy is forgotten, the world around me weighs me down. My eyes are blurred, my ears are plugged.

What is real?

If you don’t have the Life, your reality is different from mine.

If you haven’t tasted the flavor of Jesus, been gripped by His love simply by reading His words, felt his strength coursing through you when you know you are at your weakest, you are living in a world of happenstance.

Some have lived in only one world.

Some have lived in both.

The second one, for me, is the only one.

There is only one way to get to this second world, with its life, its fullness, its power, its joy.

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

If you come, he will feed you.

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MAYBE I MADE IT ALL UP

Nov 17, 2016

MAYBE I MADE IT ALL UP

My sister, Elaine sent me a Facebook birthday greeting. She reminded me of a couple of things we used to do together.

Marble races.
We would set up a ramp, line up two marbles at a time, and race them. Single elimination tournament. All the marbles til we got down to the final two. We would cheer for the winner of each heat as if they were human.
There would be one winner.
The world champion.

Magnattel dollhouse.
A one story dollhouse on legs with no roof. A mom, a dad, a girl, a boy, a dog, a cat, and a mouse all had magnets attached to their bottom side, or feet. There were wands that we would use to move the inhabitants through the house. They could open doors, move furniture, leave so the animals could have free run of the house.

We were the gods of this family. We planned their lives, arranged their circumstances, even gave them their words.
They were totally dependent on us.

There are four kids in our family ( well, we used to be kids) and my sister and I were the middles.

We had great imaginations and we spent countless hours together in her room, away from the other two, making up worlds and situations. We had cowboy and Indian figures that would have all sorts of terrifying circumstances to overcome.
All at our whim.
We controlled everything, every outcome.

Except that time when a bad guy captured my favorite cowboy, the one with the legs bowed so that he could ride his horse. I called him “Jim.” (Good cowboy name, don’t you think?) Anyway, the bad guy was trying to extract information from Jim and put him in his torture device, a gooseneck desk lamp. As the bad guy laughed maniacally, Jim’s right leg melted off.
Nooooooo! He never rode a horse again.

There have been times in my life when I wondered if my imagination was the only reason I believed so strongly in God.

Except, I was never able to plan His moves, His words, His life.

I was the one under His power. He orchestrated my circumstances, the lessons I had to learn, the trials I had to endure, the joys I got to experience.

Maybe he gives us imagination so that we can begin to anticipate the unseen invisible world around us, and to receive visions and dreams to propel us forward into a LIFE of His planning.

Thanks, Elaine, for sharing that most important part of being prepared for what is yet to be.

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