Thursday, December 31, 2009

Trusting is hard

So, I took some days off from this writing gig. Christmas and all.

Then all heck broke loose. My best male friend, Frankie by dog, came up sick. Turns out he is a chronic cat poop eater, which though that isn't good for him either, isn't the bad thing. When he got into the cat litter boxes, he came away with more than poop. He came away with the litter. And over time it became like "mortar" according to the vet.

He threw up over night, and he had been losing weight, so all this combined to put him at the vet's getting operated on.

He's doing okay as of this writing, but I'm not. I've not slept. I've been over anxious. I've been scared. I don't remember eating, but I'm sure I did. I thought for sure we had lost my little buddy.

He's such a charmer, by the way. He loves kids, well, everyone. He is a licker, a yipper and a smiler. He sleeps with us at night and loves his naps during the day. He gets ridiculously happy when the door to the back yard is opened and he is allowed to bounce on out. He doesn't like any of the other dogs having arguments, and he is absolutely sure he is a doberman.

He's not. He's a little, long, brittle dog who adopted us the summer before Katrina (which is how all New Orleanians measure time now).

I thought I had lost him, and I was terribly hurt and worried.

Then, I promise I'm not making this up, I turned to the Lord. I didn't pray that Frankie be healed so much as I prayed for God to honor the vet's schooling and intelligence and craft. I prayed that God's will be done on earth as it is in heaven. I prayed that I show the grandboys courage under adversity, though I cried once and they had a hard time understanding that I wasn't faking since I had fake cried so much in the past week to coerce them into doing things.

I prayed that I be given trust.

That seems backwards, but sometimes, I think, that's all we have. It's like the guy who said (I paraphrase, of course) "Lord, I believe, help me with my belief." Sometimes to trust, we have to pray for trust. Sometimes for faith, we have to pray for faith. Sometimes we just have to hang on to the cliff by our fingernails. God honors that, I think. God recognizes sometimes the fears we have because for a couple of minutes in a garden outside of Jerusalem Jesus might have felt a bit of that emotion, asking that the cup of pain and death be taken away. But Jesus then said, "but not my will but yours be done."

Even in the case of Frankie's life, and it is still not settled because there were a number of incisions made and he is in recovery, I trust God. I really do. Granted I have few options, but still, I understand that God wants whatever is best for me. He really does.

Scripture tells us this: Does the God who lavishly provides you with his own presence, his Holy Spirit, working things in your lives you could never do for yourselves, does he do these things because of your strenuous moral striving or because you trust him to do them in you.

I'll give you a hint. It's about the trust we have, not how good we are. I trust Him. I love Him. And if He will just send Frankie home, it will be a wonderful new year. In fact, it will be a wonderful new year whatever God does for us. That's who He is, and whose we are.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Welcome, Jesus

He was but a baby, gurgling, pooping, crying just like any other baby, though surely his mother knew him to be more than that. After all, a group of strangers didn't often come and bow down before a baby. After all, the group of strangers didn't often talk about angels letting them know about the birth. After all...

The Bible says Jesus gave up all to come to earth and step out into humanity. He humbled himself, the Bible says.

What did he give up?

Isaiah 40 says this: Who has scooped up the ocean in his two hands, or measued the sky between his thumb and little finger? Who has put all the earth's dirt in one of his baskets, weighed each mountain and hill? Who could every have told God what to do or taught him his business?

Jesus marched out of a tri-fold relationship with the creator Father into life dependent upon a faulty mother and step-father.

I, for one, am grateful; today is a day of celebration though the weather is dreary and even dangerous. I, for one, am happy he came. I, for one, am joyous.

The Bible says: Thunder in the desert; prepare for God's arrival. Make the road straight and smooth, a highway fit for our God. Fill in the valleys, level off the hills, Smooth out the ruts, clear out the rocks. Then God's bright glory will shine and everyone will see it.

He was a baby, just like any other baby, just like any other one who spent time in his mother's womb then entered into our world in the screaming, kicking fashion. He, who had for fun scooped up oceans, could not even scoop up dinner by himself.

A lovely child. A little child. A humble child.

That was Jesus one night. Making himself at home in a world that he created so long ago. Just a child. A frightened child. An aching child.

Welcome to the world, Jesus.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Walking the Holy Road together

"There will be a highway called the Holy Road. No one rude or rebellious is permitted on this road. It's for God's people exclusively -- impossible to get lost on this road. Not even fools can get lost on it. No lions on this road, no dangerous wild animals -- Nothing and no one dangerous or threatening. Only the redeemed will walk on it. The people God has ransomed will come back on this road."

I have this image of the dispossessed walking down this road carrying only a few things on their backs, but smiling like the sky is wide. Isn't that such a wonderful message, a wonderful idea, a wonderful scene?

God says the ransomed will come back on this road. He says they will sing as they make their way home to Zion.

Friends, that's life. That's what we should be doing. From the moment we are born, through Santa's giving, through the loss of Santa, through the rebirth of Santa with the birth of our own, through the loss of Santa again, through the rebirth of Santa with our grandchildren, this time of the year above all else should be a time where we recognize that we're homeward bound.

A road a mile wide.
A road filled with strangers who could never be strangers.
A road filled with those whose hearts have been strangely warmed.
A road filled with those who care more about others than they do themselves.
A road filled with the people God has ransomed.

The Bible says there will be "unfading halos of joy encircling their heads, Welcomed home with gifts of joy and gladness as all sorrows and sighs scurry into the night."

Let me write that again, please. "gifts of joy and gladness as all sorrows and sighs scurry into the night." Not even the sighs will be allowed to remain with us as we walk the Holy Road.

This day three years ago, my mother died. I've been surprised at home much I've missed her, since we've lived apart from her for many years. But I have missed her dearly. I miss her lop-sided wisdom. I miss the phone calls I made to her every weekend. I miss her.

But what carries me through, carries us all through most especially at this time of the year when we miss our loved ones the most, is the idea, the notion that we're all walking home and that one day, we will MAKE IT.

Oh, the joy that fills my soul. The idea that not only will I see Jesus, not only will I finally put a face on the spirit that is God, but somehow my loved ones who went before me will be in that gathering around the throneroom, too. That they've already made their way to Zion, with unfading halos of joy encircling their heads.

That, moreso than whatever gift might be under the tree, is what makes everything we do, everything that goes wrong, everything that hurts and everything that makes us struggle all okay.

"Blind eyes will be opened. Deaf ears unstopped. Lame men and women will leap like deer, teh voiceless will break into song. Springs of water will burst out in the wilderness, streams flow in the desert. Hot sands will become a cool oasis, thirsty ground a splashing fountain. Even lowly jackals will have water to drink and barren grasslands flourish richly."

Oh, what a gift.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The meaning of the stone

Yesterday I played amateur geek/electrician. For hours I tried to hook up things, and by that I mean electrical things not women as they say now.

I failed.

Not only did I not simply unhook the DVR and plug it back in after we moved the television and things from a very old desk to a new hippy-dippy entertainment center (put together, of course by Mary), I then had no sound whatsoever. Then I tried to hook up Mary's new photo printer. Couldn't, though it seemed easy. (In my defense it proved to be an old cord). This comes after we bought a cheap DVD recorder to get all the Saints games I had recorded off the DRV. Never did hook that up.

We do, at this writing, still have power, though. Merry Christmas and such. The cable guy is coming today to give us sound, and we hope hook up the DVD recorder as well.

This week has been about pondering the impending birth of the Christ child. What did it mean then and what does it mean now? Those are deep questions, and maybe I should simply be doing nothing but waiting for the couple gifts under the tree. But I ponder and I muse.

And I find this:

But the Master, God, has something to say to this:
Watch closely. I'm laying a foundation in Zion, a solid granite foundation, squared and true. And this is the meaning of the stone. A TRUSTING LIFE WON'T TOPPLE.

As the flute plays on my I-tunes a Christmas gingle, I ponder what a trusting life is. Scripturally it is one that lends itself to believing the promises of God. It is one that accepts the act of surrender to the one who created us all. And it is one in which we say to the Master, God, "I don't have the answers, and I known not what is coming this next year. But you, you I know. I trust that you will guide me and allow only the best for me, and when the best for me turns ragged because of life's circumstances, you will turn it to my good anyway, simply because I love you.

That is the stone upon which my building (my life) must be built.

That's the stone which the Jews crushed when they beat the Savior. That's the stone God sent to make sure the building (his church, the body of Christ) would not fall. That's what the baby brought with him.

But instead of celebrating that fact, we wrap our dreams around packages of nothingness. The Bible says: "Doom, rebel children. God's Decree. You make plans, but not mine. You make deals, but not in my Spirit."

There's still much time to turn back to God. At least I think there is.

By the way, the Charter guy just took 2 minutes to plug a chord into the proper place. We have sound. I'm hooked up.

Jesus made sure I was.

Monday, December 21, 2009

the Lord saith

In my reading through Isaiah today, I see this:

These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. their worship of me made up only of rules taught by men. (NIV)

The Message describes it this way: These people make a big show of saying the right thing, but their hearts aren't in it. Because they act like they're worshiping me but don't mean it.

Don't know what if anything it means but I've dreamed recently of being sent to various churches, the degrees of success varying. Last night I dreamed I was at a church of unknown location and two very important people in my ministry and the Bishop were there unannounced and unexpected. And I had forgotten my sermon.

So all I could do was preach from the heart. It was a disaster.

What does that mean?

Perhaps it means that God wants more from me than just meaningless creativity. Perhaps it means that God wants more from us that mere rules and regulations and normality. Perhaps God wants from us love that we seem incapable of giving.

With all this talk of health care (which I have no understanding of whatsoever) and the like, I know this: (farther down in Isaiah 29) The wise ones who had it all figured out will be exposed as fools. The smart people who thought they knew everything will turn out to know nothing.

As we barrel toward a new year, what we need to do is turn back to the old ways. By that I don't simply mean back to the Old Testament for that didn't work too well for Israel either. What I mean is we need to turn back (as hard as it is) to a time when God's love was all that was necessary to survive.

You ask, rightfully so, when was that?

Always is the answer.

The problem has always been, and will always be, when WE decide to add to God's love with our penchant for rules and things because WE decide this whole idea of grace and mercy can't possibly be the answer.

The Bible adds: Does a book say to its author, 'He didn't write a word of me?' Does a meal say to the woman who cooked it, 'She had nothing to do with it?'

Spend some time with God this week. He deserves it. He loves it. The author of all this we call life had something, and will have something to do with the outcome of the next year. We need to turn back to him, or maybe turn to him, before it's too late.

Isaiah 29 concludes this way: In holy worship they'll honor the Holy One of Jacob and stand in holy awe of the God of Israel. Those who got off-track will get back on-track and complainers and whiners learn gratitude.

The verb says they will honor, they will stand; it doesn't not say they might. One day we all will bow before the Lord and we'll remember those times Christmas was about "holidays" and gifts and such. We will.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Just a chance

Now this one will be hard to understand unless you're a fan.

A fan is someone who has devoted, without devotion, time with a sports team or actor or musician with the expressed purpose of seeing that person or team win. A fan is not someone who simply roots for a team, acor or musician. I don't believe in fans of mediocrity. The notion that someone can root for someone no matter what is only based on the fact that no matter what can change.

Hence, who-datdum.

I explained this to a writer yesterday. I sat in my living room with my dad, something we could absolutely agree upon in its rarity, and watched John Gilliam return the opening kickoff in Saints history for a touchdown. We rose from our chairs. This whole Saints thing was going to be easy. It hasn't been. From then till now, 42 years later, has been one disappointment after another. Till now the grandest thing of all has been coming home to the Super Dome in 2006 and making the NFC championship game that year. All the others, pffft.


Now we have a chance.

See, I think all most folks, those of us not born to silver spoons and the lap of luxury, want is a chance. I think that even with Christ, what we most desperately want is another chance after we've flittered away the one we had.

We want a chance to make it, to have a family, to raise a healthy, productive, family, to have a job that gets us by. And when we make a mistake, as we surely will, to have a chance to correct it.

That's what this unbeaten thing is about. A chance. It might end tonight. It might end on Feb. 7, but in the end, we, all of us who-dats (and aren't there more running around than every before? That's okay, we welcome you) had a chance.

A chance to be part of the discussion as the season wound down;
A chance to see what it's like to be in talks for all the major awards;
A chance to have pro-bowlers on 'our' team;
A chance to see the city talked about in glowing terms instead of almost saddened ones;
A chance to be a winner, finalllllllllyyyyy.

As this season goes along, obviously none of us know the outcome. Never having been an LSU fan, I can't possibly know what it is like to win the big one except for that glorious year in 1995 when the Braves finally did it.

But this I know: we have a chance.

Makes me feel like I'm included.

In the words of New Orleans, Who-dat say ...
oh, you know the rest.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Just a baby boy

The bible starts us off today:

In Isiah 52 we read: "Just watch my servant blossom! Exalted, tall, head and shoulders above the crowd! And he didn't begin that way. At first everyone was appalled. He didn't even look human -- a ruined face, disfigured past recognition. Nations all over the word will be in awe, taken aback, kings shocked into silence when they see him. For what was unheard of they'll see with their own eyes, what was unthinkable they'll have right before them."

But he was just a baby in swaddling clothes, wasn't he? Don't we even get a few minutes with the squeeking little baby boy before some jerk reminds us of what is to come? Do we get a few heartfilled moments with the baby before somebody reminds us of the man's pain?

No, and no.

For to forget for just a moment the intensity of what was to come for this baby boy is to forget just why he came in the first place. He came, to die -- for you, for me, for us, for us all.

The next lines of scripture tells us: Who believes what we've heard and seen? Who would have thought God's saving power would look like this? The servant grew up before God -- a scrawny seedling, a scrubby plant in a parched field.

The baby, who barely escaped death in a manager (for after all, there was no one there to assist in child birth and conditions were hardly those of a neo-natal birth hospital), then barely escaped a blood-thirsty king who wanted the child dead before he was two years of age, grew up before God's watchful eye.

"There was nothing attractive about him, nothing to cause us to take a second look. He was looked down on and passed over, aman who suffered, who knew pain first hand. One look and people turned away. We looked down on him, thought he was scum."

The tales of the baby being born in a manager might inspire today, but one suspects they were tales that were used ot make fun of him when he was a child. "Oh, you didn't even have a place booked for your wife? What's the matter, Jesus, doesn't your family have any money?" We don't even known when his step-father, Joseph, passed. That too must have been a source of amusement for those kids he had to play with. No daddy in a time when men meant everything.

But then the line of scripture tells why he came and it overwhelms our senses: "But the fact is, it was our pains he carried -- our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us. We thought he brought it on himself, that God was punishing him for his own failures. But it was our sins that did that to him -- that ripped and tore and curshed him -- our sins.

Today as you go to buy that one more glorious present for that one more wonderful person in your close family, try, try, try to remember why we do all this. Why do we raise the limits on our credit cards? Why do we go deeper in debt?

Could it be because "He took the punishment, and that made us whole. Through his bruises we get healed.

Even as a child, I wonder if Jesus knew? Like Nixon in the past, I wonder this: when did he know and what did he know?

Could it be that the diety in him knew all the human's life what his purpose was? Imagine the pain and burden of carrying that?

He was just a baby boy.

For only so long.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

It's all in a name: Goodbye Chris Henry

I'm moved to write a second in one day, which is a first.

Chris Henry died today.

Maybe in some ways he was headed for death for the past 10 years or so, but today he died.

I wrote a story about him at the beginning of the 2008 season. He was a professional football player who had been on hard times, mostly of his own making, and had been out of football for a while on suspension.

This is who he was as I wrote in August of 2008:

"Ask anyone in Belle Chasse who grew up with Chris Henry, played football with him or coached him and you get a picture of the former Cardinals standout that doesn't fit with what the world knows of him.

He was a quiet, shy kid who gave no one trouble, despite growing up without a father's influence. But ask virtually any other football fan about that same Chris Henry, and chances are they will say he's a thug who can't stay out of trouble with five arrests in three years.

How does one become the other?

That's the question that haunts Henry, even as he again prepares to play in the NFL.

Despite being suspended by the league for the first four games of the regular season, he re-signed with Cincinnati on Monday, freeing him to practice. But one can't forget that if not for the trouble with the law, he would be playing against his hometown team tonight. Instead, he hopes this is the second or third chance he needs, and he said he won't blow another opportunity.

He told the Cincinnati Enquirer on Monday: "I have no worries. I am fully confident about the situation. It's kind of like, in the back of my head I know this is my last opportunity, but I try not to think about it."

Marvin Frazier, Henry's representative/agent, said Henry is capable of doing that.

"He's not a thug," Frazier said. "The only person he hurt was himself."

Said family friend Leatrice Hollis, a former aunt by marriage who remains close to him: "The image that you have of him is not the person I know. I'm not making excuses for him; he did what he did. But there are reasons for everything."

Say the name Chris Henry now and everyone thinks, as a Cincinnati judge said, that he's "a one-man crime wave."

That's the story of who he was. But who he became was another one. He played the entire season of 2008 without calamity. He wore a new tatoo under his ear that said, "blessed." He was living with his girl friend and his three children.

Then suddenly, he was involved in a domestic dispute, as they said today, and he fell out of a moving truck and now he is dead.

When folks point out that Christians are just as likely to be divorced as the world figures, one shakes a head and has nothing to offer in return. But doesn't it seem likely that if Chris or Tiger or Steve McNair or whomever would have found the Lord and committed themselves to Him instead of whatever it the heck they were doing with women outside their marriage or even with their wifes they might be alive and well today. I know Tiger is alive, but surely you don't think he's well.

I know this much: Jesus said do not let your hearts be worried. Believe in God, believe also in me. Peace I leave you, my peace I give, not as the world gives.

To obtain this peace, one must one day be fulfilled and not longing for the next thing, be it drugs, be in female or be it male. One must be fulfilled. And the only way to be completely fulfilled, I believe, is a belief in Jesus Christ as King of King and Lord of Lords. If one believes that we are called by God to do what God wants us to do, it limits us from wanting what we do not have. Some call that coveting. I call it addiction and craziness.

That Steve McNair was shot to death by an adultress was stunning. That Tiger had more than a few mistresses in the world is shocking.

I can't say that Chris getting killed was as shocking or as stunning. It does not lessen the sadness, however.

Blessed, he was, if he found a way out of the life that he had been living. Blessed, I pray he is today, as he has crossed the river Jordan and met the one who ultimately decides what our name means.

Christmas Eve homily

This is my Christmas Eve homily, that I might tweak (or might not): I offer it early as part of your preparation time for the holiday.

This year at our house and in our family, we've tried to cut down on gift buying. We've tried to start teaching the grandchildren that you don't have to have everything in the world bought for you or brought to you by Santa.

The first step in that process is to be taught to not ask for everything.

That's the most difficult of projects.

Tonight as we prepare for tomorrow's celebration of the birth of Christ, we need to take a moment to ask ourselves this:

What do we truly want for Christmas this year?

As we've heard in the readings of the scripture story of the birth of our Lord, Mary wanted nothing more than to have the child and it be born healthy. There is no mention of her wanting him to have a college fund or have the best of cribs or the best of strollers. She was happy with a manager and a place to lay her head after the exertion of giving birth.

Joseph wanted nothing more than the health of his wife and child. There's no mention of recliners or big screen tvs. This is a man without a job, apparently, able to take off and journey for a good period of time to a town he had no place to stay in, no relatives to visit, no friends to give him, them a bedroom.

What do you want this Christmas?

The Bible says this: Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

The Father knows what you need before you ask him. Think about that for just a minute before we continue. God knows what you need. Therefore the time you've spent telling him could be time spent asking for others. Just a thought.

Furthermore, the Bible says "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

Okay, we figure God knows what we need, but somehow we all figure that somehow he doesn't know what we WANT for we help him.

We bring out our lists nearly every night and we help HIM.

Lord, help my children and my grandchildren and Lord, I'd love to have a new job or a new car or a new house or a new this and that.

This night, as the lights look so lovely and the fires burn in homes across the area and we put our children to bed early so that Santa can bring what they have asked for, what they wanted, let our wants and wishes drift up to heaven.

Tonight, All I want for Christmas is a Super Bowl win for the Saints. You can keep your coats and your sweaters and your ties. All I want is an impossible, obviously once in a lifetime Saints victory in the Super Bowl.


Because it's impossible. Because I've wanted it so long. Because I do nothing about it but watch.
It's like having peace on earth and good will toward men. Wasn't that what we were promised by the angels all those years ago. How's that working out? Seen any peace lately?

No, thought not.

So is that your wish this Christmas? For peace?

Then I'll go along with you. I want peace, too. I want us out of Iraq and out of Afghanistan and out of the oil business and out of the drug wars. I want fathers and mothers away in foreign lands to return home to put their little boys and girls into bed and pull the covers up and kiss their warm faces good night.

I want all addicts off their addictions. I want cancer eradicated in my lifetime. I want a cure for AIDS. I want all of us to live out our lives without pain or heartache.

I want to know that pets join us in heaven.

I want their unconditional love for us to be our unconditional love for each other.

I want smiles to replace frowns, daily.

I want joy to come like spring rain, and love to carry the day.

I want what Joseph wanted, for children to grow up and change the world. There's still time with mine. There's plenty of time for my grandchildren.

I want special needs children to get special attention.

I want credit cards and credit card companies to go the way of the edisel.

I want loneliness to be replaced by sharing and heartlessness to be replace by caring and faithlessness to be replaced by daring faith.

I want everyone I know and everyone I care about and everyone I come in contact with that I don't know and haven't learned to care about to know the love of Jesus. If they did and they do, there will indeed be peace on earth and goodwill toward men.

Tonight, as we leave here, let us think not about the darkness of the world that seems to be winning. Let us think not about how the role models we picked out as perfect, like Tiger Woods among others, are so imperfect and ultimately unrewarding. Let us think not about the worthless and meaningless deaths many have had in 2009. Let us think not about how our needs have grown this year without help of our own.

Instead, let of think of our wants, the wants that God already knows about, the wants that we didn't have to list, the wants that no Santa could ever provide, the wants that cover us like a new jacket and a new hat and new gloves and new pants and new socks and new shoes.

The wants that are greater than aching bones and muscles that don't work like they once did without pain and without ultimate sorrow.

I want Jesus to return in my lifetime. Which supersedes all other wants this long, dark night. I want to look into that pink sky some evening and see the strangest sight: something, someone coming in the sky, something small growing by the minute, by the second. Someone walking in the air. And suddenly we will begin to rise, and suddenly we will begin to go airborne.

And all this stuff that we asked our loved ones for, or we asked Santa for or we simply wished for will be so meaningless I can't even write it.

I want Jesus.

Tonight, on Christmas Eve, that's enough. Isn't it?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Why we do what we do

I watched a film the other day called Julie and Julia which while being a chick flicked turned out to be okay, a bit funny in spots, a bit emotional in others.

But I was uplifted in watching it because it was about a woman who basically blogged her way out of her station in life. Wonder why that appealed to me?

I guess blogging is about as faithfilled thing you can do. You do your work, with me every morning, and it goes out there into the constellations and you have no idea if it's being read or not but you keep doing it because, well, because it's what you do.

When I was sick two days ago and didn't do my routine, up in the morning, coffee to begin with a newspaper, writing a blog then writing on my book, it was as if I had lost time itself.

I read this from the Message this morning which I guess explains why I do what I do better than anything I know.

God-of-the-Angel-Armies gave me this Message for them, for all the people and for the priests: "When you held days of fasting every fifth and seventh month all thes seventy years, were you doing it for me? And when you held feasts, was that for me? Hardly. You're interested in religion, I'm interested in people.

What are you interested in? Is this time of the year one of celebration and parties? Do you love the singing and the brightly dressed and the wonderfully decorated churches?

Or are you interested in what you're always interested in? That being a growing relationship with the son who came, probably not in the dead of winter, so that you would have eternal life with the creator.

This blog attempts to paint pictures of kingdom life, which is about humble loving folks living lives of celebration of the king's life. Hopefully a story here and there touches you. I know the stories I've discovered recently for the book have certainly touched me.

Let me give you a chapter from the book I'm writing called "God on the line" "Answering heaven's call" this morning and you tell me how good God is and tell someone else about the blog:

Chapter 14: The call to help

She was 13, barely old enough to even understand what was going on with being betrothed to Jesus.

She went to the river with her washing that evening, preparing to do as she always did, the work her mother gave her. Being engaged to Joseph wasn't worthy of getting out of the work, apparently.

Mary was nearly done, stretching the fabric after washing it in the waters of the river, laying it out flat and mashing the extra water from them, when the skies above her, the very air around her seemed to grow dark.

She was frightened, astonished even, as a bright light, as bright as the noon sun but sharp as a spear's tip appeared to her right, 10 feet beyond her. It grew in size as she shrank from it.

The light came to form a shape of a man and Mary was scared beyond belief.

But the light spoke, in tones that calmed her, warmed her, made her feel as if she was without care or fear. "Greetings," the light said. "You who are highly favored. The Lord is with you."
Mary's thoughts ran like a sheep from a lion. "What? Favored. Why am I favored. What can this mean.?"

She knew she didn't deserve whatever honor the Lord might be bestowing on her. But the man/light said, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. he will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, his kingdom will never end."

Ohhhh. This definitely was a lot to digest. "How will this be," she asked. "I am a virgin."

Oh, that little detail. Mary didn't ask about the Son, didn't ask about thrones, didn't ask about houses of Jacob. She went right to the question of the day. How as a virgin going to have a child?

"The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren in is her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God."

It was evening as the conversation grew to a close. Mary stared into the sharp light even so.

And she created the first miracle of the Savior of the world. It wasn't a miracle of wine from water, or dead being raise, or limbs being restored or anything wonderfully supernatural though it was just as miraculous as any of the above.

She said yes.

Nothing fancy. She simply said yes to her calling, as specialized as it was. She said yes, to the labor pains to come, yes to the stares, yes to the idle gossip about she and Joseph, yes to the anger of her parents, yes to the long days and nights of isolation from everyone. Yes to the morning sickness. Yes to the hardships to come. Yes to the knowledge that her baby would be more than normal. "Pregnant and unmarried," harrummph. "Pregnant by the Holy Spirit," she's crazy.

She said yes, when so many, many others would have said no. Maybe even, shall we say it, did say no. There's no evidence that someone else wasn't approached first. But Mary said yes, when the odds were impossible. She said yes, when to say no would have been normal and understood.
She said yes, when most of us would have passed on the chance.

She said yes.

That's all that's required of your calling, by the way. You don't have to set up goals, agendas, timelines. You don't have to register with some company. You don't have to do anything but feel the small voice calling you to whatever it is, then say the most wonderful thing in God's kingdom.
Yes is what started a nation, when Abram said it.

Yes is what saved a sliver of the world, when Noah said it.

Yes is what kept the nation alive when it was enslaved and Moses said it.

Yes is what saved the world when Jesus said it in the garden.


Yes still changes the world, when common folks with common objectives and common sense approach a God with the power to make uncommon their skills and uncommon their equipment.
Karen Lindsey is just such a person.

Oh, she had her share of nos. She felt called to serve, but she had difficulty answering. "I remember growing up and watching my mother and father praying to get through the hard times and I knew I was called to do something. I knew there was something for me out there."
In 2007, God caught up to her. And she said yes.

She was the mother of a teenager and a child eight years younger. When she lost both her parents eight weeks apart, and Katrina hit with all the devastation of not only buildings but also the way it upturned lives, there was a lot of addiction on both sides of her family and her brother, Ronnie, was diagnosed with cancer, well, it was just about too much "That was like the final straw," she said.. She was "maxed out" in time and emotion. She felt like she was about used up. A great light for God was being snuffed out by darkness.

She went away. Literally. She went to a weekend retreat and God came knocking. "It was like a slice of heaven was opened to me. I stopped ignoring that call and said yes to whatever.

"I drove around with a notebook and wrote down ideas as they came to me," she said.

One sprang fully formed. She thought about the well-being of her cancer-diagnosed brother and decided God had chosen a ministry for her. She would call it Ronnie's Life Ministry.

it is a simple service designed to encourage others in time of need. She reaches out to people who are hurting through prayer and personal notes of love and support.

After some deep personal prayer, she took the idea to her home church, standing up in front of the congregation to present the idea.

"I felt that we had to write letters in the U.S. mail to encourage people who had life-threatening diseases," Lindsey said. "I thought, 'what if they get 15 or 20 letters from people they don't even know. What would that mean to people?' I call them now warriors of prayer and pen.

"Ronnie was the first (in November, 2006)," she said.

Within 10 months, 73 people had joined Ronnie's Life Ministry, all as intercessory pray-ers and most as note writers. As of December 2009, they have written or prayed for 680 persons in 34 states and four countries and have 142 persons who participate in the writing and praying.

Here's how it works: Karen learned of a boy named Spencer from a friend and kept up with is condition through, a website used by parents of hospitalized children to update family and friends on their child's progress. She learned from Spencer's mom that the 13-year-old boy was at Memphis' St. Jude Children's Hopsital battling ALL Leukemia had a passion for baseball.

She shared that info with her system. Soon Spencer Boyer bat was made by the Marucci Bat Company, a Baton Rouge, La. business that makes personalized bats for the major league baseball players. Spencer died with that bat, sleeping with it till his death on June 12, 2007.

His is one of four bats the company has made for persons with dreadful diseases. Maruccie Bat Company got involved because the LSU baseball team, the defending national champion, got involved because one of its players, Alex Edward, Karen's nephew, asked them to. The company made bats for Jackson McCall, a nine year old in Miami with AML, a disease akin to Luke Gehrig's disease that is a terribly, terrible death; for Luke Ramano, a child in California who has passed, and the latest to 22-year-old Taylor Martin, who has fought brain tumors since he was five and who is now praying to die he's so incapacitated.

One call touching another is the theme of Ronnie's Life Ministry.

It's sometimes hard. Karen deals with such turmoil and disease and oftentimes death. "Yes, it's overwhelming at times. When Spencer died it was almost too much for me. You really remember the little ones. You don't forget where you were anytime you get a call."

But what she and her army of praying persons and writing persons don't concentrate on what the tough times will be like. They continue to encourage each other and encourage the ones who are facing death.

About a year ago, Karen, who hasn't worked since her now 16-year-old daughter was born, hired an assistant, Peggy Dupuy. "She does whatever I need," Karen said, "getting things shipped, letters done. She helps with my family as well." Karen says she spends 30 or more hours a week working on Ronnie's Life Ministries. The best thing about having an assistant? Peggy joined St. Timothy's UNC, Karen's home church.

Karen said she has never wondered if she was doing the right thing, or had answered the right call, partly because of this story.

Early in the ministry, Karen heard of child who had a near-drowning experience in Baton Rouge, La. Fifteen minutes under water. He was at the Lady of the Lake hospital in an induced coma. Karen began the Ronnie's Life Ministry procedures. She typed and mailed a letter that introduced herself and told the mother of the child that other letters would be on the way. But she forgot to put PICU on the address and the letter was returned. The other letters from her people had the correct address so those letters, without any introduction, made it through. The mother of the 2-year-old child was shocked as these encouraging letters began appearing.

A while after the letters began appearing, on what was planned as a family crawfish boil in Baton Rouge, Karen told her family they would take a side-trip to the hospital. On a whim, just before their car was to pull out from their house, Karen said, "Wait, I want to take Sam (Seidel) something.

"I ran into the house and we had a bag of stuff animals we had just returned with from Universal Studies. My husband had won them. I grabbed two turtles and took off. When I got into the car, I asked my kids if they wanted to present them to Sam. My 12-year-old Abby (at the time) said yes. My 4-year-old said no, understandably.

"We went into the PICU unit with the one turtle and we were searching for Sam when two women stopped them. They asked where Abby got the turtle she was carrying. When told they came from Universal Studios, they were disappointed. They had hoped they were locally produced and bought. One woman explained that her son was using one of the turtles to support his little legs and it fit perfectly. They had hoped to be able to buy another to help him.

As soon as the woman said that, Karen ask, "Are you Kahne?" the name of Sam's mother that
Karen knew from the website. Karen pronounced it the say it was spelled, but the woman responded that she was indeed Connie (but spelled Kahne).

Karen could barely talk as she blurted out, "the turtle is for Sam. That's who it is for."

The mother, taken aback, asked, "Who are you?

Karen said, "I'm from Madisonville and ..."

Kahne said, "Madisonville? Ronnie's Life Ministry? Thank you for all those cards."

In the hallway of the PICU two strangers cried tears that only God could bring. Karen said the mother took her and Abby back to the cubical that housed Sam who was on a ventilator.

"It was so quiet, all you could hear was the psssh, phhhhht, pssssh, phht as the ventilator did its work," she said. "A little blond head, with hair flattened and dishelved, when that sheet was pulled back and he just lay there."

A little blond head, a little bit of emotion and Karen, filled with the energy of the Holy Spirit, went home that night and wrote a story of Precious Sam and His Turtle.

The closing of that poem is this:
God's servant prayed and spread the word that God is alive.
She told everyone that we must listen for His instructions.
We must follow them. We must pray.
For we all know that turtles are slow.
But slow and steady wins the race.
For God told us to wait. And we will surely follow.
Precious Sam rested. His family waited.
The host of angels danced.
God provided the miracle.

If the story ended there, surely that would be enough. But it doesn't end there.

Karen knew that she had to find more turtles for Sam, and kids like Sam, so she went to the website of KellyToyUSA and located the turtle. She sat in disbelief at the name of the turtle on the website.

It was SAM.

She wrote and asked the company to sell her some of the turtles. She said that she knew the company only sold in bulk to places like Universal Studios, but she told the story of little Sam and hoped it would make a difference. Time passed and nothing occurred. Karen remembered there was a West Coast office of the company as well as East Coast, and she tried again. The letter wound up in the hands of a mother of a two-year-old whose greatest fear was that the child would drown.

Karen is about to order a fourth round of turtles, at 96 turtles a pop. The turtles have made their way to orphanages, to Iraq, across the country as Karen hears of kid's difficulties.

She, like Mary, never worries that it might all become too much for her, never worries that the call was made to the wrong person, never worries about what will come.

"I've learned that I'm an instrument of God. I can pray, I can spread the word, and if me give a glimmer of hope to anyone, this is so vital.

"I believe this life is temporary, and that when someone we're encouraging does die they're in a beautiful place, a better place and a better circumstance than what they face here on earth.
Knowing that helps me make it through."

Asked if she wants it to keep growing or it might get to simply be too much she answered,

"Larry Madden (a retired minister who has been very helpful to the RLM) and I say, "Infinity and beyond like the Buzz Lightyear saying.

"Sometimes I wonder about what I'm doing because is have two children and a husband and I'm doing all these other things. But they are so full of faithfulness, I never worry about them. I can hear my mother up; in heaven saying, 'Karen, you had better put your family first,'

"But there is just so much to do and we are encouraging so many people."

Whenever one asks the Lord for ideas, it seems the Lord provides. Truly God calls in so many ways. A little bit of encouragement is not too much to ask.

Sam, by the way, has improved greatly and the prayers and encouragement go on.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Greatest gift

I'm pondering what was my greatest gift at Christmas. It is a difficult choice for there are many to choose from, obviously. It might be the Saints coach my dear Mary bought me. It might be the recliner my dear Mary bought me.

It might be the chemistry set my mother bought me, which I've written about in the past. It might be the ... you get the picture. But I'm going with the shoe shining kit I bought my father. Huh? I thought the question was, the pondering was what was MY greatest gift at Christmas. No where did it say I had to have received it.

I remember this shoe shining kit for a number of reasons. I used to love to walk through a store called Kress (which I called Kresses, but there was no extra es on it). It was right down town in Meridian and I would be dropped off with a certain amount of money and a certain amount of time and I could buy as many or as few presents as time and money would permit. I went into the store with a list and I had been checking it much more than twice.

There was, at the age of six, my father, mother, Aunt Nita and Aunt Blannie and cousin June. The money was, and had been, burning its way out of my pants pocket.

I remember the lights and the smells of Christmas and I remember walking so slowly, much more slowly than I would today, through various departments. I had gotten all the women out of the way with various types of perfumes and such, of course adding some kind of powder for my mom so she would have the most.

That left Dad. I spent the rest of the time trying to figure him out. Then I saw it. A wooden shoe holder on top, various pastes inside. I had just enough. The reason it's best is Dad said he loved it.

Making my father happy has always been a quest of mine. That year it seemed to have really happened because, I thought, I spent so much time pondering. The thing is, Dad loved me anyway. If I had bought something he didn't love, he would have loved me anyway.

At 6, I knew nothing of unconditional love. At 56, with a world behind me and sons and daughters of my own, I know all about it. God loves me no matter what I present him. I can't, by virtue of my gifts that I bring, make him love me more.

I wished I could have understood that for much of my life. I tried to make editors and bosses and friends and even family love me or my work even more because of how hard I worked or how much I tried or whatever.

It got me no where because it couldn't. But unconditional love, the kind of love we're given by true friends and true family and by a God who loves us not for what we do but for who we are, sons and daughters of his, gives us peace and happiness even in the darkest of times, like when it rains all the time.

Monday, December 14, 2009

It will be okay

Have you ever noticed that no one in scripture, heck no one in the movies or books, gets sick?

No one has a cold. No one has aches. No one fights a runny nose. No one has to deal with heart problems? No one ever has due dates on bills.

I noticed. And I have been sick all day. Aches, pains, even the inability to type welll since I keep having little problems with the hands, little twitches and things.

It's been a difficult day and I'm writing this as the sun goes down instead of coming up.

I'm sure no one noticed.

But let's continue: The bible says the angel came upon Mary and sad a few things and Mary said OKAY.

OKAY, I'll have my life completely undone, I'll have my life turned upside down, I'll have the pain of raising a child mostly by myself in a time when men run everything. I'll have the pain of gossip, of inuendo, of talk that I've done this and than and the other.

And this was your answer:

"The Holy spirit will come upon you, the power of the Highest hove over you. Therefore , the child you bring to birth will be called Holy, son of God."

Oh, that makes it better. He won't be picked on, he won't be, uh, Lorded over by the kids in the neighborhood. I wont let him tell them. That's the answer. That's the ticket.

Suddenly, filled with the Holy Spirit, she sang out "I'm bursting with God-news, I'm dancing the song of my Saviror God. God took one good look at me, and looked what happened -- I'm the most fortunate woman on earth. What God has done for me will never be forgotten, the God whos very name is holy, set aprt from all others."

Oh, I'll keep him apart from others. But it will be fine. It will be okay. It will be okay.

I know it. I mean, what could happen to him?

Saturday, December 12, 2009


The Bible says: You've ruined your own life, Israel -- but don't drag Judah down with you! Don't go to the sex shrine at Gilgal, don't go to that sin city Bethel, Don't go around saying 'God bless you' and not mean it, taking God's name in vain. Israel is as stubborn as a mule. How can God lead him like a lamb to open pasture? Ephraim is addicted to idols. Let him go. When the beer runs out, it's sex, sex and more sex. Bold and sordid debauchery -- how they love it! The whirlwind has them in clutches. Their sex-worship leaves them finally impotent.

I find it incredibly difficult to imagine that no one on the PGA Tour noticed or knew tht Tiger Woods was addicted, apparently, to sex. I find it difficult to imagine that Tiger Woods did all that he apparently did, completely without anyone noticing the wealth (what a great word to insert here) of young women hanging around him.

What I imagine is this: No one cared enough to say, "Tiger, maybe this isn't such a great idea."

I wrote this column a few months ago when I was a golf writer for the local newspaper. I reprint it because I wrote it. What I want you to do, again if there are readers, is substitute Tiger Woods for John Daly and substitute sex for alcohol:

Maybe you missed the saddest story at the Masters last week, and it wasn't Kenny Perry's back-to-back bogeys on 17 and 18 that essentially opened the door for Angel Cabrera's victory.

Missing this story was easy to do. I, however, couldn't help but notice.

Darron Cummings / The Associated PressGolfer John Daly is on suspension from the PGA.
I will not argue that there are sadder stories on the PGA Tour, stories of fathers and wives with terminal illnesses. Though John Daly has what could be a terminal illness, he doesn't get that there is one cure and one cure alone. He doesn't get it, and I suspect he won't. Last week Daly sold memorabilia and merchandise in a parking lot across the street from Augusta National Golf Club. While others were suffering the course, Daly was suffering what he had and has done to himself.

When the Zurich Classic of New Orleans begins next week, Daly won't be here because his illness has threatened his career (he's on suspension from the PGA Tour) and his life, which seems like a country song gone amok.

Just a week ago, Daly said, "I always talk about the things in my life that have happened because it might help somebody. We all make mistakes. Hell, everybody knows that. But most people are too embarrassed or too scared to admit them. I'm not; it's part of life."

There was a time when Daly's golf talent (he has won two major championships), especially the long drives he became so famous for, overcame his lack of discipline. He made stops in New Orleans, like last year when he missed the cut by six strokes, and the crowds watching him were as large as those for much bigger names and even bigger talents.

Since he broke through in 1991 with an improbable victory in the PGA Championship, Daly has been a crowd pleaser and attention-getter, both for his play and for his off-the-course foibles. Four marriages, an addiction to alcohol, nicotine, gambling and who knows what else. Two trips to alcohol rehab, gambling losses that would cripple most of us with fear and on and on, including charges against an ex-wife that she attacked him with a knife.

But all that finally got to be too much. For the first time in 17 years, he has no sponsor. He is near the end of his six-month suspension, but I'm afraid he still doesn't get it.

He has lost 40-plus pounds, undergoing "Lap-Band" surgery. He's on a high-protein diet, but he still is sipping beers and talking about how "it doesn't taste right, " as if that was a success. I wager that someone, somewhere has mentioned that quitting drinking doesn't mean sipping.

Daly, perhaps one day, will understand that to get beyond this, he has to completely surrender to the idea that his ability to swing a golf club has only gotten him into the situation he is in. It will not get him out of that situation. It never can. It never does. Surrender means a complete change in lifestyle. Surrender means understanding you are not in control and welcoming that.

All those millions of dollars he made on the tour are about gone. He is near bankruptcy, which is why he was selling hats, T-shirts, towels and golf flags outside the gates of Augusta.

Daly told The Associated Press, "You're always embarrassed a little bit, but you know, you take it in stride and go on and say, 'Hey, everybody makes mistakes.' "

Again, he doesn't get it.

The road to his recovery won't go through stomach surgery, but in admitting more than a few mistakes. When Daly finally says to himself and the world, "I'm so flawed I can't help myself, " then and only then will he return to the tour that made him a public name. I don't mean the PGA Tour won't let him back; I'm saying he won't be back fully no matter what the powers that be allow.

Until then, he's just serving his time.

And selling somebody a hat or a towel.


You bet.

Because he could still be so much more than the guy who can't control his own actions. Who among us can? It's not about getting his game back. It's not even about getting his life back. It's about getting the life he never had.

The column ends there.

There is no difference in addictions, only in the way the addictions are perceived. I'm sure someone somewhere, including Tiger's caddie, knew all that was going on. But because Tiger is the wealthiest, most powerful, best golfer in the world, no one said anything.

The Bible says we are called to do more than watch. We are called to speak out. If Israel (Daly) has ruined its own life, there is no need to stand by and let Judah (Woods) be dragged down with him.

We somehow think that sex addiction is less of a problem than is alcohol addicition, or the worst of them all (in our minds) drug addiction. WRONG. They're all things that keep us from worshipping God, which in my heart and mind is the very definition of addiction, tht which keeps us from God.

What Woods needed was a Nathan to David, someone who would say, STOP what you're doing. You're ruining a marriage, a life, several lives. STOP what you're doing, you're going to ruin the perfect lives of two beautiful kids. STOP what you're doing, you're going to completely destroy an image that somehow was built over time to be a perfect one.


The Bible says in Hosea 5 (the Message): Bloated by arrogance, big as a house, they're a public disgrace...

The reason Tiger Woods is walking away from golf is that no one would trust him to leave home and simply play golf. No one could trust him to tell the truth. No one could trust him to do the right thing.

Walking away from golf temporarily won't cure that malady, won't solve that addiction, won't wash him clean.

This he needs to learn, and I for one don't think he has. Until there is a Nathan, he won't.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Deep draughts of God

This morning I lay in bed with my eyes closed. Nothing was unusual about that. I have mastered that art of sleeping with numerous practices.

But this morning I lay in bed with my thoughts focused, directed, centered on Jesus. It was warm and toasty under the layers of cover in the frigid room, but I didn't center on the warmth of the bed, or the softness of the mattress or the stillness and quiet of the room itself. No, this morning I centered as long as I was able on Jesus. I dug deep to think of him, our relationship, my lack of committment at times. I even tried to merely lie there without moving or thought.

I tried to imagine my world as being nothing but Jesus. I tried to reach out dusty hands toward the living water. I tried to hang on to Jesus as long as I could despite the obstacles. I tried to be in that moment as long as I possibly could before the phone started to ring or the dogs started to bark or the alarm clock did its thing.

Ten minutes, long, long, long minutes passed. I recognize that some spend a hour on this first thing in the morning and I pray this doesn't speak to my lack of committment or my lack of love or my lack in general. But ten long, long, long minutes passed.

Finally, I rose, slipped into slippers, rolled into robe and I glided out of the bedroom with the dogs into another day.

Why is it so hard for me? My mind, such as it is, is a terrible thing to waste apparently. I know this is hard to believe, but I have a great deal of difficuly shutting it off, of commanding it to simply stop, of wishing it to wind down.

Remember the story about Jesus and his disciples in the boat as they were going "to the other side?" The storm came up and waves poured into the boat and Jesus was in the stern...sleeping. The disciples were bailing, figuratively and literally on both the boat and the Master of the boat. Finally they awoke Jesus and the Christ told the wind to pipe down and the rain to stop falling.

The point is that Jesus had such disciple that he could A) sleep through a storm and B) tell it to stop.

I have such discipline that I can't not sleep through 30 minutes of intense listening to the one who can do the most for me and B) can't tell my own mind to shut down. My ability to worship is compromised by my inability to settle, to look to the inner, to coax calm into my own body. My relationship to Jesus is much like my relationship with my wife and/or my children or even my grandchildren. It is based upon me talking, me directing, me leading. I struggle to listen to Him, to her or to them because what that would mean is I'm not in charge, I'm not leading, I'm not talking.

Hebrews 2 in the Message reads: It's crucial that we keep a firm grip on what we've heard so that we don't drift off.

That is talking about drifting away from the gospel, but clearly it also means to me to keep a firm grip so that I don't drift from our relationship, from the Lord Himself.

Mother Theresa said of her prayer life, "Before you speak, it is necessary for you to listen, for God speaks in the silence of the heart."

Begin today with a minute or two of sincere silence, at least on your end. Increase it as you have want or strength to do. Listen for God; listen TO God.

Work at it till you reach this stage, the stage of the Psalmist:

"A white-tailed deer drinks from the creek; I want to drink God, deep draughts of God. I'm thirsty for God-alive. I wonder "Will I ever make it -- arrive and drink in God's presence?" I'm on a diet of tears -- tears for breakfast, tears for supper. All day long people knock at my door, Pestering, "Where is this God of yours?"

Ten minutes of silent non-motion, ten minutes of none-exertion and I can safely say, "Right here where He always was, is and will be."

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Today we lay to rest my mentor, my friend, my pastor, "Brother" Jake Olmsted.

I find, surprisingly as much as I do funerals and deal with sickness and death, it difficult to believe. I'm not sure why except it continues to speak to my own frailty and my own passage of time.

Sixteen years ago in August, Mary, the girls and I went to the Gretna United Methodist Church for the first time. It was, quite literally, a life-changing experience. Jake was the pastor, Sharon the pastor's wife.

Jake wasn't the best preacher, wasn't the best anything really. But what he was was a good teacher, and I believe God put him in my life to not only lead me to ministry but to teach me how to "do" ministry. I've served under and listened to better preachers. I don't know that I ever knew a better pastor. Jake truly cared about all the folks he served, and he really believed that's what pastors do. They serve. It's not an occupation. It's not a vocation. It's an opportunity to serve, and Jake did.

I remember that first day at Gretna like it was yesterday, though the aches in my knees, back, shoulder and even wrist speak volumes about how long ago it was. We, well, I checked a box that asked if we wanted the pastor to visit. I was looking for among other things God at the time. Jake, though I never told him, sort of looked like my conception of the great Father with his white hair and all. Jake came to visit the following week, we had a great conversation and we were off and running.

That January, with but a few months in at Gretna, Jake asked me to go to some sort of conference that I had no business being at. It was he start of what has led me to this point in my ministry. Later at Gretna, Jake allowed me to preach and create a contemporary worship service at Gretna. Again, steps along the way.

Jake once told me that he didn't care for contemporary worship, but he wouldn't stand in the way of those who did. That's about all anyone can ask for, both in a worship leader and in a mentor.

We were supposed to meet, as we always did, for coffee a couple weeks back. We were going to discuss this notion of full-time ministry. I wanted to quiz him about what one does all day long when one is in full-time ministry. I have a hard time scheduling, or wrapping my mind around the thought of how to schedule, a full-time ministry day. He had to cancel because of problems with his heart. He was an intensly private individual, for reasons I never understood, and he didn't want to talk about the heart situation nor did he want me to mention it to anyone.

He went into the hospital last week for surgery on that heart and never came out. We never got to talk again. My loss, not his.

This idea that we are all growing so much older so quickly isn't exclusive to me. The friends from Gretna that jump-started my walk with Christ have all moved away or in some cases died. Cathy Brunell is gone. Jake is gone. Kaylynn, Tracy, gone. Mary and I moved ourselves. Time does pass.

But the Bible reminds us all in Job's story of pain and suffering: Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you. Accept instruction from his mouth and lay up his words in your heart. If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored.

None of us knew back then what we were doing into terms of walking with God. None of them knew they were helping a little lost lamb who just wanted to get sober and become a sports editor (mixing metaphors as quickly as I can) do what God wanted of him. None of us knew. We were just living our lives.

But here's the thing. God takes what free will gives and turns it to the good. From a faltering, failing guy, he molded a minister, a wounded, hurting soul learning how to help wounded, hurting souls.

Jake Olmsted was one of the tools God used to help me. I never forgot that. I never will. May God give his peace, which I can't understand or explain, to Sharon and the Olmsted family.

If there are indeed any readers left out there, wish them well in prayer. And understand that none of us knows what God has for us next. That's both exciting and terribly, terribly frightning.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Ever have a Bokim?

I've always figured if I was going to die, or when I was going to die, I would be like the un-famous person on the airplane that went down with the famous person on it. The lead to the story would be, "Joe Smith and 49 others were killed Thursday when their plane crashed in Atlanta." I would be among the 49 others.

That's sort of the way today's scripture reads to me.

Look at this: "The angel of the Lord went up from gilgal to Bokim and said, "I brought you out of Egypt and led you into the land that I swore to give to your forefathers. I said, 'I will never break my covenant with you and you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land, but you shall break down the altars. Yet you have disobeyed me. Why havae you done this? Now therefore I will tell you that I will not drive them out befoe you; they will be thorns in your sides and their gods will be a snare to you. When the angel of the Lord had spoken these things to all the Israelites, the people wept aloud, and they called that place Bokim.

Bokim, friends, means weepers, but that's not my point.

My point is this: The angel of the Lord (which is normally thought to be pre-incarnate Jesus) came down and talked to the Israelites.

Normally when this happens, it's like with Abram, or with Gideon or with any of the stained-glass folks. It's a biggie.

Every heard of or ever remembered Bokim?

Didn't think so.

Maybe it's because it became fairly normal for the angel of the Lord to come down and rail against the Israelites. Maybe it's because we all have Bokims in our lives, those moments when we said, without meaning or memory, 'I'm sorry.'

I sort of feel that's what Tiger Woods did the other day. He had his Bokim moment. He said he was sorry. He said he had hurt his family. He said he wouldn't do it again. He wept, probably figuratively.

But the question, like it was with the Israelites, like it was David with Nathan, isn't whether you've been caught, isn't whether you're sorry you've been caught, isn't even how truly sorry you are, the question is with all Bokim moments, will you do it again?

The reason we don't really remember Bokim is that the Israelites shed tear after tear at the place, but it wasn't long before they were just as disobedient, just as worshipful of Baal. In fact, the Bible uses two whole sentences after Joshua dies in the chapter after Bokim before the Israelites "did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals."

Bokim? Long forgotten along with all the other promises the Israelites made and covenants they figuratively signed.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Amazing Love

The Bible says that David prayed: Who am I, O Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? And as if this were not enough in your sight, O Sovereign Lord, you have also spoken about the future of the house of your servant.

Wow and, uh, wow.

What is my family, O Sovereign Lord, that you would walk with me and talk with me and direct me against all odds? I've done nothing, nothing that would enable a God, the most powerful being in the universe, to love me and grant me salvation.

As I write this thunder is rolling across my neighborhood. It has rained very heavily overnight and forecasts are for more rain. My backyard, heck, my front yard too is under water and as I type this I hear more rain pouring onto my roof.

The Lord, my God, has taken my family into bouts of love that I never knew could exist. He cares for us even when my kids do not go to church, do not worship in the manner I deem necessary. We have been blessed even when circumstances are so very dire in our family as they were three years ago.

What makes this life so exciting is that none of us know what tomorrow will bring. God knows and we know God, but all that means is we must trust Him in all things. This family is certainly beginning to. Life is so wonderful when we do trust that it is almost beyond words.

Then the words appear: Who am I, O Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?

The answer seems to be, I am nothing.

But the true answer is I am God's child, and that seems to explain it all.

Monday, December 7, 2009

I always wondered

I always wondered what it must be like to be a fan of, I don't know, say the Yankees or the Red Sox.

My heart tends to lean toward underdogs in sports. My mind tells me to give up on the pain; my heart tells me to never stop believing.

Thus I've been a fan of the Atlanta Braves and the New Orleans Saints all my adult life.

Thus I've suffered and suffered.

So why now that things are miraculously happening for the Saints instead of to the Saints should we suddenly be asked to sort of feel guilt about it? Fact is, I don't. I remember the pain of Big Ben passes and losses that should never, never have happened. I remember throwing a boot at the television one Monday night as the team blew a 28-point halftime lead. I remember and remember and remember.

So why would I say, 'Oh, I'm sorry your kicker missed the first kick of his career form inside the 30, and I'm sorry you fumbled when the replay was so inconclusive and the ball was awarded to the Saints and I'm sorry your team looked like it quit in overtime?'

Why would I? We've got 43 years of this stuff happening to the Saints. It's (as someone once said, or should have) PAYBACK TIME.

This isn't exactly scriptual, but it could be in Proverbs. What goes around, comes around.

Suddenly, I know what it's like to be on the other side, the winning side. Division champion? We've done that three previous time. Home field for a playoff game? We've done that one other time. Home field for all games as the No. 1 seed? Always wondered what that would be like.

I'm about to find out.

We need to heal. We need to continue to get better.

But friends and neighbors, Who Dat indeed is the question of Drew continues to be Drew. Who knew? I always wondered.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Oh so blessed

God, source of our salvation and our joy, what shall we do?

If we look at our lives, we would see clearly that we live lives unworthy of the goodness you offer to us. We complain of our condition when our wants go unnoticed. Contentment eludes us, easily and often.

We hve plenty but we continue to yearn for more.

Millions face hunger, while we fret over the lack of steak when we have refrigerators full of hamburger. Through Christ, we ask for forgiveness, yet we grant no peace to those who come before us in need to a bit of bread.

Today if we look deeply into the mirror of our lives, we will see that God is near, yet we want Him to leave. We cry out to Him when things go badly, but forget all about Him when things are fine.

Today if we look deeply into the mirror of our lives, we will see a God who cares so much He never strays even when our lives are filled with sin that He despises.

Today if we look deeply into the mirror of our lives, we will see how many times He has moved evil away and let goodness and mercy crawl all over us.

I've looked at that mirror, and I've not loved what I've seen, except, except I've seen Him looking over my shoulder with a warm, loving hand on my neck. He knows me. he loves me. He wants the best for me.

What more could I want?

Friday, December 4, 2009


In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

I try, you know. I fail, you might not know. But I try, you know?

Yesterday I received a book from the author of the Left Behind series. He sent it to me out of his own good heart after we had exchanged emails. He signed the book, a book about writing, and gave me that verse above.

The thing about where I am today is that everything is about shining that light, so that everyone I come in contact with knows about Jesus and my love for him. But when I say everything is about that, what I mean is I wish everything were about that.

Things get in the way, things like my own ego and pride, my own reticense to say the right thing at the right time and just general apathy.

I pray that someone can see how Jesus in me, but mostly they see me.

Shine light. Shine. Shine on.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

What's your story?

Luke spent days upon days with his quill and ink writing a letter to Theophilus so that he would know what his friends, the apostles and especially one heard-headed little guy named Paul had done.

Luke was a doctor, and one assumes that even then health care was an issue. But Luke spent more time away from his practice, sacrificing wages and earnings, in order that someone would know the miracle of the coming of the Holy Spirit and the subsequent growth of the early church.

Maybe he was the first blogger.

In any case, the Word began and was in the beginning and the Word travelled and we have the Word to keep us from falling not just from grace but from the moment.

Singer/Songwriter Matthew West tells us this:

I remember when I was thirteen
I saw a picture on my T.V. screen
The Reverend Billy Graham and the people singing
Just As I Am And it felt like
You were talking to me
And the whole world seemed to fade away
Until I heard my mother say
"Son, are you okay? Do you wanna pray?"
And that became the hour I first believed

Next thing you know I'm high and flyin'
Next thing you know My heart is in your hands
Next thing you know There's no denyin'
Next thing you know I'm a brand new man

Well, I wish I could say
I always stayed right there
And I did until my freshman year
But the world was pulling me a long way from thirteen
And you were calling but I didn't hear
Still I knew there was something more
So, one day my knees hit the dorm room floor
I said, "If you're there, and if you really care,
Come and talk to me like I was thirteen."

Got a picture in my head today
of how heaven might look someday
I see the people there,
so I pull up a chair
And their stories, they blow me away
'Cause I can see it on every face
The evidence of grace
And as I listen it occurs to me
Everybody's got their own thirteen

So, what's your story about His glory?
You gotta find your place in the history of grace
Yeah, what's your story about His glory?
Come on and find your place

What is your story? That's all that witnessing is, really. You tell someone how Jesus has affected your life in such a wonderful, warm and glowing way, even if the circumstances of your life are the same.

Like West, I can see evidence of grace on every face. As I interview people for a book I'm writing about God's call on our lives, I see that everyone truly does have a story and everyone is in some way finding their place in the history of grace.

If you're reading this, your duty almost is to tell someone about it. Maybe they need encouragement. Maybe you need to comment about how God has encouraged you today. Maybe you need to tell your story.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

This is the easy part

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.

Yesterday was the kind of day that makes you happy you have nothing to do, like us retirees. It rained so much the yard went under like something out of the movie 2012. It was cold, with a north wind beating on backs of those who ventured out. Me? I watched and read everything that I could about the New Orleans Saints as if somehow I didn't get enough on Monday night and all the verbage would make it seem even more real.

I find it interesting that validation is the key word in all of this. Everyone wants to be validated, as if our lives haven't been in some form or fashion. Many of us lead dead-end jobs and have lives that aren't fulfilling and we have turned to an old franchise of a football organization for validation. With every victory the Saints take in a perfect start, we feel that much better about ourselves.

The danger there, of course, is what happens when (or if) they lose one. Does that invalidate the previous victories? Does that mean that the ultimate prize won't be won? Does that mean we're done, all of us, to go back to our mundane lives?

I'm as Saints-crazed as the next person, for I've lived 43 years with these guys, wating to win that big one every year and falling so very short every year. I'm not sure what will happen if it is indeed "our" year, but I tear up every time I read something that says with such force that the Saints "will" make the Super Bowl or something like that.

The Bible talks of a time when the Israelites were trapped in a mundane life, living away from home, with hope just a fleeting memory. It talks of a time when God was the only one to turn to in times of crisis, in times of pain, in times of sorrow.

The Bible says this: He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary, and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renwe their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Sounds like something every Saints fan needs today as they head toward the final five games of the season.

I remember a time when the team had opened the season with 11 straight losses. This winning stuff shouldn't be this taxing. We can run and not grow weary, if we turn to the one who makes all this possible, my friends.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

What dat has the sickness?

I am sick indeed.

I have been diagnosed by credible doctors after 11 weeks of the sickness.

It's not the swine flu, though strains of that pop up here and there around New Orleans. It's not the regular flu, pneumonia or even a cold, though my throat is raw and my head is ringing.

I've just risen at the late hour of 8 a.m. after some hefty tossing and turning from 5 a.m. till then.

But I have the diagnosis now, though the cure is not known at this time.

The doctors are calling it the 11-0, 16-0 flu, or as some have labeled it in the media, the WHO-DAT influenza. It has been nicknamed by pundits the Breesyflu.

It is a sneaky virus, coming on slowly. The symptons are these: You start to feel a little queazy because you're not sure this can be real. You can't shake the feeling that something bad is going to happen so you make sure you have the proper clothing on at the proper time. You get a fever burning sometimes around noon on Sundays, sometimes at 7:30 p.m. on Monday nights. You start to shout with incredible loudness that turns into a scream of uncontrolable joy at the slightest mention of a Monday night long ago when a punt was blocked and Atlanta was beaten. You tear up at the slightest thought of Feb. 7, 2010 and the colors black and gold make you unstable.

It's almost heart-stopping. You can feel the constrictions in your chest when those cancerous cells make the games close.

The only known treatment, which is not a cure mind you, is to out-score it, to keep it on the run, to not sit back and wait for good things to come but to continue to pound, pound, pound, throw (up), throw (up), throw (up).

You can't hope to stop it, you can only contain it in this city at this time.

I caught it in 1967 and it lay dormant all these years. It has appeared on my chest as little black marks in recent weeks.

It, I'm told, will work its way out of my system in February.

Monday, November 30, 2009

There are no coincidences

We often miss one of the great stories of the Bible, the story of John and his birth. Remember Elizabeth? Remember Zachariah? A childless couple hanging around, doing the right thing before God?

Remember Zachariah carrying out his job before God, working a shift in the Temple? Remember the angel of God appearing to him?

That's the kind of stuff I miss, by the way. The angel of God stuff, the appearances, the flat-out assuredness that God gave some in scripture. I WANT YOU TO DO ...

That would be kind of swell, wouldn't it? No guessing. No possible mistakes. Just an appearance by God, Jesus, an angel of the occasional talking donkey and whap, a person goes about God's business.

Except, even the appearances didn't always work. If you really remember the Zachariah story, you remember Zachariah saying, "Do you really excpect me to believe this?" or words to that effect. Then you remember Gabriel saying, shup up yo mouth, or words to that effect and Zachariah did, literally, for months.

This doing God's will stuff is not the easiest of all missions, friends. Sometimes we veer off path without a single prompt. Sometimes we do the wrong thing absolutely without provacation. Sometimes we are just unmistakedly, unwarrantly human. And in our humanity, like Adam, we fail and we fall.

That's why Elizabeth had John so that John could point the way to Jesus. Like the blue lights at an airport, John was here to land the Jesus plane.

A couple who was childless had a child who one day would say, "Behold, the Lamb of God."

There are no coincidences. Take note.

Guess who's coming to dinner?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The important stuff

As I write this, it is less than a month till Christmas, amazingly enough.

I'm struck by the fact that God is so near at this time of the year, seemingly.

But then I read in Psalm 139, God, investigate my life, get all the facts firsthand. I'm an open book to you; even from a distance, you know what I'm thinking. You know when I leave and when I get back, I'm never out of your sight. You know everything I'm going to say before I start the first sentence. I look behind me and you're there, then up ahead and you're there, too -- your reassuring presence, coming and going. This is too much, too wonderful -- I can't take it all in.

Is that the way we live? Do we stay in the essence of God? I'm afraid God never moves, we do. We seem, certainly I do, to ebb and flow, and though I should be flowing, I'm ebbing right now, I'm afraid.

Luckily, the most important part of the verse isn't about where WE are, but where God is. The verse says, YOU know when I leave and when I get back. I leave is the key.

God knows us. When we have given ourselves over to Him, he knows when we will ebb and He's there for those moments when we ask for forgiveness and mean it and the relationship that He wants with us more than anything is restored to its completeness.

See, no matter what we think about those infernal rules in scripture and what we've been taught about them, God isn't about rule-keeping. We share in that, you know, He and I. He's about relationship, and the relationship He wants more than any is with, uh, you. Oh, and me, too, but mostly with you at the moment. He love us so much that He took a period of time to give us 1/3 of the circle of relationship He has with His Son and HIs Spirit to give us Jesus. And those scars? Jesus wears them to remind us that He truly did care. There was no giving for a moment and taking it away. That gift of grace was forever.

Psalm 139 continues: Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my Mother's womb. I thank you, High God -- you're breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made; I worship in adoration -- what creation.

Take some time over then next four weeks or so to do you best to "worship in adoration." When you go to church, don't go to be going, go to wor-ship. Let Him know you want to care, really care, about your relationship with Him, with Them. Make this season be about what Jesus did, not about what you bought.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Remember when?

Last weekend, as I prepared to watch the final high school football game of my journalism career, a gentlemen who knew my retirement plans asked me, "What was the best story you ever wrote?"

I thought a while and answered something about the one I did about Drew, Miss., but the truth is I have no idea. I should have answered, "the next one," except there is no next one now.

We spend an inordinate amount of time looking back. Yesterday was a difficult one for me because we always spent our Thanksgivings at my mom's house, and now there's no mom, there's no house and my past is swept away into fading memory.

In the 137th Psalm, the writer is doing some of that when he writes (from the Message), "Alongside Babylon's rivers we sat on the banks and we cried and cried, remembering the good old days in Zion. Alongside the quaking aspens we stacked our unplayed harps; That's where our captors demanded songs, sarcastic and mocking: 'Sing us a happy Zion song!'

"Oh hou could we ever sing God's song in this wasteland? If I ever forget you, Jerusalem, let my fingers wither and fall off like leaves."

The Israelites had, of course, been taken captive to Babyalonia, and they were thinking back to better days.

We often do the same; or at the least, I do. Thinking about what we did, what decisions we made, what factors led us to where we are now.

Often, if I am going to be depressed, that's the thing that gets me. Why did I....

The truth is, according to scripture, the best is yet to come. The Word is clear on this that whatever we've done, if we have a relationship with Jesus the Christ, the best is yet to come. We might go through a wasteland to get to the other side, but the best is yet to come. We might endure long nights of pain but the best is yet to come.

Reading the Shack for a second time reminded me of the wonderfulness of God's vision for us. We have been called to be in relationship with Him, and none of the rest of this stuff matters a whole lot.

That's what I should be reflecting on. This morning, on a cold, November day when I miss my mother, instead of looking back what I should be doing is looking ahead to that glorious day when I will be reunited with here.

So, I think I will.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Lord, I'm thankful

It's a cold morning in Lacombe, Louisiana. The sun escaped it's lodging early this morning. It will be a colder night.

But through it all, my heart is warmed today. Oh, it's Thanksgiving, and someone, somewhere, somehow decided we should be thankful today. But I truly am grateful today to my Lord, who has seen me through most of another year.

David writes this (from the Message): No doubt about it! God is good -- good to good people, good to the good-hearted. But I nearly missed it, missed seeing his goodness. I was looking the other way, looking up to the people at the top, envying the wicked who have made it, who have nothing to worry about, not a care in the whole wide world.

You're all I want in heaven. You're all I want on earth. When my skin sags and my bones get brittle, God is rock-firm and faithful. Look! Those who are falling apart! Deserters, they will never be heard from again. But I'm in the very presence of God -- oh, how refreshing it is!

Today, I'm thankful God has been patient with me, with my half-filled attitude and my half-filled praise. I'm thankful for our relatively good health (Knees and back screams into the night, but nothing vital is harmed at the age of 56). I'm thankful for great kids, who fought off early role modeling and turned out fine. I'm thankful for grandkids who are smart, beautiful and healthy. I'm thankful for the old dogs who have made my aging together with them so wonderful. I'm thankful for my churches and the people who make them go.

And I'm especially thankful for my Mary, who saved me when I needed physically saving and presented me as whole as she could to the Savior who saved me emotionally and eternally.

The Bible says, again from Psalms 73, When I was beleagured and bitter, totally consumed by envy, I was totally ignorant, a dumb ox in your very presence. I'm still in your presence, but you've taken my hand. You wisely and tenderly lead me, and then you bless me.

More than anything, I'm thankful to God for the live I've had, up and down, sideways and unsure, but through it all, He stuck with me. That's something to be thankful for.

Have a blessed one, if there are readers out there.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Mystery begins

And now the mystery...

I awoke this morning, a cool November day, before the sun came roaring up the sky in old Lacombe. I awoke this morning a new creature, as Paul said, having died to a career and headed off into what God so wonderfully decided was my calling.

From the Mesage and the prophet Micah: I'm sitting in the dark right now, but God is my light. I can take God's punishing rage. I deserve it -- I sinner. But it's not forever. he's on my side and is going to get me out of this. He'll turn on the lights and show me his ways. I'll see the whole picture and how right he is. And my enemy will see it, too, and be discredited -- yes, disgraced! This enemy who kept taunting me, "So where is this God of yours" I'm going to see it with these, my own eyes -- my enemy disgraced, trash in the gutter.

It is one thing to talk about trusting God, and quite another to actually do it. I know. I've preached trust for 10 years. I'm living trust, actually getting out there and doing it, only truly for the first time. There always was a safety net. There is little cords to catch me now.

I trust you, God, in all things. I flee from my cave of indecisions. I leave my land of career. I set out from Haran to Canaan with you as my only walking stick, you as my only guide.

From whenceforth comes my strength. I look to the hills (and the district superintendent and the Bishop).


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A call for perspective

So, I forgot her. Left her right there at the church.

Now, in my defense, she usually takes her own vehicle, but the truth is, I fogot her. Left her right there at the church.

And when she called, "Did you forgoet me?," my firt thought wasn't, "Oh, my, what have I done," but rather, who is calling me during the game.

Some perspective: The Saints, as of this writing are 10-0. That's 10 wins and zero losses. That's 10 wins and a lifetime of hurt, pain, discomfort, unhappiness and general weirdly half-glass filled living. We are, er, the Saint are unbeaten as of this writing, though all of the area covered in black and gold is waiting for the next shoe (the next problem) to emerge that will stop us, er, them in our, er, their tracks.

The games often being at noon. Church services, of which I have to take part seeing as I'm the pastor an all, end at noon. Though I have two, count 'em, two DVRs, still I rush home to start the tape as quickly as I can, somehow reasoning that if I get to the shirt I've won every Sunday during this streak I can somehow change things to the good.

That's the thing that's going on in this area, as of this writing. People have lost, well, lost their minds. Those people have. They meet the Saints at the airport, clogging roads and such. Don't even mention what you can get for your tickets should you decide to sell them. The area, as I've mentioned, is covered in black and gold and we, er, they are buying up shirts and hats and key rings and pet shirts and you pretty much can name your own favorite memorabilia right here.

So as I gave the benediction, no, let's say it right, after I gave the benediction, I carefully blew out the candles, I carefully locked up and shut off the lights, I checked to see that someone was properly counting the offering and I set off toward the 10th victory in a row.

And I forgot her. Left her at the church.

My wife, I mean.

Now, so far this season, she has watched the game from the bedroom, because she happened to be in there when the Saints scored a touchdown. She has watched, er, listened from the porch because she was out there when the comeback against Miami began (I wouldn't let her come in even though she needed to use the facilities, if you know what I mean). She watched Sunday from the kitchen, after she caught a ride home. She has been put upon and she understands, though she doesn't let me forget it.

Still, till Sunday I had never forgot her.

The Bible doens't say much about this insanity that has overtaken me, er, them. It does talk about perspective rather often, though.

It talks about first loves and remaining tru. It talks about maintaining our love for Christ above all other things. It even talks about being faithful to Him and Him alone. Above all else, it talks about idolatry, and the love of the Saints could, could mind you, flow into that area.

For now, though, we have to hope He understands. After all, the Bible does talk about the saints who have gone before us, too.

I have a feeling, that for the downtrodden everywhere, there's cheering in heaven. I sure hope, because my knuckles are hurting from having knocked on wood so often......

Monday, November 23, 2009

What if?

Today we venture into the world of the what if?

What if we ...

run out of money, run out of time, stay in pain, have no place to live, you-name-the-problem?

The Bible is fairly clear about this. Look at young David. He had been told he would be king, and he found himself living in a cave. Now, that doesn't sit right with my ideas about what king-ship should be. I would have doubted just what God was up to. David?

(From the message) What a beautiful home, God of the Angel Armies! I've always long to live in a place like this. Always dreamed of a room in your house, where I could sing for joy to God-alive. Birds find nooks and crannies in your house, sparrows and swallows make nests there. They lay their eggs and raise their young, sining their songs in the place where we worship.

Truth is, I've lived a life without need. I've never been far from a fairly large paycheck, never been without whatever I wanted. If I couldn't buy it, I could charge it and I could pay my bills. I lived in no cave, though I could have taken care of my home better.

Now, I strike out into the world of no credit cards and no large pay checks and I wonder if I've created a self-imposed cave?

Then I read: God of the Angel Armies! King! God! How blessed they are to live and sing there.

In other words, in the only area that matters, I'm blessed beyond belief. Better is, as the song goes, one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere. I don't know what the future holds, but I hold tight to the one who does. That's really all we have in this life. That's really all we need.