Thursday, August 27, 2015

Either here or there, that's where I want to be

So, Tuesday night-Wednesday morning I dd it again. For the fourth time in five years I contracted (was diagnosed with) pneumonia -- this time under the right ribs. This time I had a mild case I only thought I was working with The Times-Picayune, and didn't see or talk to aliens or Muslims didn't take over the world in a very elaborate plan as in a delirium I thought last time, and this time I did't talk to my son who wasn't there or., and this time I didn't have my daughter demand in unflattering strong and loud terms that the nurses tell the family what the heck was wrong with me since I was as loopy as Sponge Bob).

Still, I was delirious for two or three hours, and coughed up five or six lungs I reckon, off, and well, you get the picture. 

This time we added a few things, though, to the mix, something old and something new. This time I had a temperature of 103. Also, I got up in the middle of the night (I think it was the middle of the thing as it was darker than the sun on Pluto -- I think it was Pluto) and my right knee simply collapsed. It just said, goodbye and folded up like one of those outside chairs, and suddenly I was a heap with limbs hither and yon. Because of that implosion, I banged my head on the floor and instantly I sued the NFL 

Now, No doctor has ever told me how this happens or why I've  gotten pneumonia or why pneumonia begins with a p instead of an n, but I keep on keeping on getting this. I assume at some point it will be the end of me, but no one has said that either. 

I fought my wife about going to the emergency room, as I always do, but when I got there, hey give me oxygen, they drew out fluid, they whacked me around like a piƱata and I got better (this time in but a day -- again, a milder case)  and here we go again. 

This time I just needed rest (Odin sleep?), and this time I was mostly through with my sermon because it was a Wednesday, and this time I was mostly finished with the slides for my powerpoint Sunday, so this time I was mostly finished with the service for Sunday because it as a Wednesday. It was a Wednesday, right?


I move on to finishing the blog for Thursday. It is Thursday, right?

The point of all this is simple. None of us know when we will reach a time when all our troubles aren't so far away. None of us know when there will come a moment when we reach a time when we run smack dab into the final time, the final breath (and all that delirious-ness I run into from time to time is caused by lack of breath they tell me) is but a final breath away.

We can fight it all we want, push, struggle, beat and bang like One Direction band mates and oh, but that I do. But there might come a point where I'm sitting into front of a Mac or a PC or even (God forbid) a typewriter and I type my last word, my last letter and I reach for that breath and suddenly I hit a P or an R and that, my friends, is I T.

When that happens, like the Apostle Paul, I will be filled (if it's on the intake) with oxygen and then I will release that breath with an outpouring with joy.

Paul said it like this: For to be with Christ is gain.

In other words, I love being with my family, with my church family, with my friends outside the church, but to be with Christ is so much better. All is gain, all is great, all is wonderful. Either here on the planet or there with my family is great. It's all great.

Whatever may come is great.

I'll miss writing, though. Maybe I'll do a heavenly blog. Got to get the job, though. There sure are a long list of folks to beat out. Whipping Paul for the job might be too much for me. He's pretty darn good, don't you think?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Chillin of the Almighty

Oh, being as how I'm so sleepy I could cry (paraphrasing Hank Sr.), and it's pre-dawn and such, this might take a while to write. Then again, maybe not.

Ten years ago about this time), I was lost. I was very, very, intensely, inexplicably, undoubtedly lost. I stumbled along like a man who knew no victory, not even a tie or two along the way. I knew if there true-isms to be found, God would allow me to find them. But, no other words, no other incantations, no programed prayers or programed words would save me.

Darkness reigned. Darkness swirled. Darkness was the winner of a game I couldn't even play, any longer.

I had been called out of the wilderness, my sandals were torn asunder, and my feet were failing me.

Then, Christ.

Katrina, sure. But Christ, for sure.

So, this morning as the sun crawls up out of some backwater dive, about as fast as my eyes begin to droop (making me wonder what golf could possibly be like in the coming hours), I will move down memory lane with you.

Scriptures tell us this: "For you are all children of God, through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God's promise to Abraham belongs to you."

And just that suddenly, everything is as it should be; everything is guaranteed, everything is new, everything is fine, better than fine, better than anything could be even if we tried our best and hardest and, well, finest.


God's promise belongs to us. Just, that, flipping, simple.

God promised an inheritance, and being as we are his heirs and all, we get it.

Paul writes, "We were like children; we were slaves to the basic spiritual principles of this world."

We were beholden. Then we were not (well, oh, well, again) because of the very simple basic idea that God's love conquers not just the world, not just a nation or two here and there but each and every nation and each and every government and each and every country as such. We don't have to rise up. We simply have to live, breathe and exist as one of God's children, all one day, TODAY.

"Before (you) Gentiles knew God, (you) were slaves to so-called gods that do not even exist. So now that (you) know God (or should I say, now that God knows you), why do you want to go back again and become slaves once more to the weak and useless spiritual principles of this world?" Paul writes to churches in Galatia?

The big ol' honking answer is, we DON'T. We just don't. We are saved, found, loved. Let it be, as another Paul wrote and sang.

If we could simply grasp that, man, oh man would things be different? I'm not sure we could even hold all the joy that would be given because God promised such. But man, oh man, it would be fun to try to receive those rewards.

For we are all children of God. Every flipping one. Every. We are. This morning. Saved.

Paul tries to get us to understand, going through details in an elaborate plan that needs to be given. But it all comes down to this: While I was still falling apart, while my mess was still very, very visible to the world, while I was all sorts of bat-stuff crazy, Christ died for me, for you, for all of us.

That's the plan. That's the deal. That's the amazing, wonderful, awesome plan of attack against Satan. We can't fix ourselves. He can fix us. Therefore, let the camera roll 'cause soon and very soon He's gonna come back again. As the director barks, "Action." And action it is.

Eyes front, Eyes on Jesus, Faith in our pocket, Trust-camera batteries ready to rock and roll, and Heaven can't wait at all.

"Oh, my dear children!" Paul screams, tears being held back by a film so thin yet so powerful that only the absolute strength of the Holy Spirit, who has no explanation whatsoever, could raise the Christian flag out there in Jesus-land. "So Christ has truly set us free. Now. Make sure that you stay free and don't get tied up again in slavery to the law."

No, sir. Not me. Not now. Not ever. I'm done with all that slavery stuff, and I've sunken my teeth into the grace of God that never loses.

Right there, right there, the sweetness of the fruit on the true and only vine smiles at the vast-ness of summer's sky.

The sky is beautiful this morning in a cloudy, adoptive manner.

Look up at it my sweet dear friends. We are God's chillin. Ain't God grand?

Monday, August 24, 2015

O Lord, My God and separation of church and state

It's as simple as breathing and as difficult as explaining just how the lungs came to be.

Thomas Jefferson, one of the crafters of the U.S. Constitution wrote a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association -- referencing the First Amendment to the United States Constitution -- that talked about a wall of separation between church and state. He wrote, "Believing with you that religion is matter which lies solely between Man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that the act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church and State."

That's Jefferson describing to the Baptists that the United States Bill of Rights prevents the establishment of a national Church, and that they do not have to fear government interference in their manner of worship.

And all hell broke loose years later. The U.S. Supreme Court first quoted that phrase of Jefferson's in 1878. But the Court really got involved in 1947 when it incorporated what is known as the establishment clause.

In 1958, Steven Engel, a Jewish New Yorker, came together with other parents to sue New York State over state-endorsed prayer that was being recited in schools. The Supreme Court inevitably sided with Engel and the decision to remove prayer (state-endorsed prayer) from public schools was issued on June 25, 1962.

That brings us to last week in Rankin County, Miss., a county I used to live in eons ago.

Two years ago, a student in that school system filed suit because prayers were being invoked at public settings. She won the lawsuit and the school system had to pay $10,000. 

On Friday night, Brandon High School cancelled their band's halftime show shortly before a home football game. They cited a federal court order delivered by a judge and claimed that because the halftime show featured a "Christian hymn," they could not perform in fear of another $10,000 fine. 

The "Christian hymn" was How Great Thou Art, by the way.

One can argue forever and a day about the validity of the lawsuit, about the validity of the court's decision more than a half-century ago, but one can't argue that what happened next isn't wonderful if one believes in a risen Lord.

A lone man stood and began to sing in a rather deep and beautiful voice, "My Lord, My God, when I in awesome wonder..."

Soon, other voices began to ring out. Soon most of those in attendance were singing. A stadium filled with persons singing praise to a Lord who does not necessarily believe in this wall of separation.

Look, the freedoms we have come with a price. One of the prices we pay for freedom of speech and other freedoms found in the Bill of Rights is the notion that we will not have a national religion. With that notion comes this idea that we will not impose religion on those who do not want religion.

God doesn't do that either.

But if one goes all the way back to Jefferson, the idea as I read it was to keep the state from imposing a religion, but he also wrote that the legislature should also not "prohibit the free exercise thereof."

So, to please the vast minority (intentionally written), we have prohibited much.

But there is nothing in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights about singing together in a football stadium as long as it is not led from the press box (which makes no sense but is true). There is nothing there that prohibits someone bringing their own Karaoke machine and praying while the crowd stands in silence. There is nothing that prohibits children praying in school, just not led by teachers or from the P.A. system.

Even the student who originally sued said this about last Friday night, "Both the right to free speech and freedom of religion (both free exercise and establishment) were protected (Friday), and that's a beautiful thing."

Of course, the 19-year-old college student misses the point entirely. The beautiful thing was someone taking a moment to sing about the awesome wonder that is our Lord, our God. I would hope that someday the Holy Spirit turns her from being the one who sued to the one who turned to the one who loves her most dearly.

Till then, "When Christ shall come..."

Thursday, August 20, 2015

A shaken-free existence

The Bible says in the 16th Psalm, "I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken."

When your world is rocked, what do you do? These are the questions that tend to come with earth moving events, like Hurricane Katrina. But what about losses along the way that are not catastrophic for the area you live in, but are just as big to you?

Some medicate.
Some crawl up into a ball.
Some cease to function.

David, a little shepherd boy turned king, went to his source of life, direction, and protection. 
David's king, Saul, was trying to kill him. So David ran -- to the woods, the hills, the fields, the caves. David took 400 men with him, but Saul had 3,000 soldiers. One night while Saul and his men slept, David came close to him and took some things from Saul. But he didn't kill him, as he could have. 

It was about this time that David wrote the 16th Psalm. Basically it has two ideas, "your inheritance is what you parents give you when they die, but David had an inheritance that was better than that. His inheritance came from Jehovah God. Then David makes absolutely certain that there would be no other gods for him. 

David said the Lord would teach him, that nothing or no one would move him away from what he believes, that he would always be safe and happy, that he would not got to Sheol (the Hebrew idea of hell), and David will live with the Lord now and when David died.

Then there was Psalm 16:10, which means all things to me.

"For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy one to rot in the grave," David wrote.

Wrapping this into a little present this morning, David thought (and I do as well) that God walks through our devastation with us. It does not mean we will never have troubles, but that when we do, we will be safe and happy as we walk through them.

Then, if the worst should happen, if we are to die, this will not be the end. For the "holy one" has come, and death has been conquered.

This makes the struggle all the easier.

"I will not be shaken

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Lives were changed 10 years ago

Ten years ago at this time, I was completing a cover story for one of the New Orleans newspapers' high school preseason football edition on a team from the downtown edition of the newspaper.
        It was to run the Thursday before the regular season began. I thought it was a really fine piece of work. It never ran. Because 10 days after I finished the piece, all heck broke loose in New Orleans.
        A little distraction called Hurricane Katrina happened.
       Katrina became a Cat 2 hurricane, near Cat 3 in late August 2005. It entered the Gulf, stirring up fear and surf all along the Gulf Coast. I didn't take much notice because I had been through this before and the hurricanes always turned. I was covering a high school jamboree, an exhibition of sorts, on a Friday night, August 27, when I first heard the word Katrina. I was told that it was coming towards us.
     The next morning, like so many, we left for what I assumed would be a few days at most.     We didn't take clothing or such. Katrina made shore August 29.
It had seemed we had dodged a bullet perhaps because it had weakened right before shore.
Then came the levee breeches.
Then came the flooding.
We wound up being gone for a month.
         In some ways, we never went back. Our lives were without question changed.
         I had a Katrina moment recently after reading a story in the paper. Those of us who lived through Katrina, and then Rita, still do, you know, have those moments.
         It only takes a bit to bring back the edge of grief. It really doesn’t take much.We didn't lose a house, at least immediately. We didn't flood. We lost a fence, had trees blown into our above-ground pool, but our roof remained, the only one on our street to do so.
         But we lost the closeness of our family, and with grandchildren everywhere, we only see them now by driving five hours instead of a few miles. Because of Katrina. That hated witch.
For a year afterwards, we were literal victims. Though I loved what I did and where I wound up after we sold our house and moved, I didn't choose to leave my friends or my church. Katrina did that for me. It always hurts when decisions are taken out of your hands.
Obviously there were people with much, much greater losses. But we've all had to live with this for a  decade.It weighed on all of us in one way or another for quite a while. Concern for loved ones or for ourselves doubled and tripled and eventually crippled some. Debris, trees still down without being cut, houses still not gutted, houses lying on their sides, businesses gone, all that weighed on us.It did not go away, fast or otherwise.
Ten years ago, Katrina had come and gone and things were not that bad. Then, suddenly, the levees broke and things were worse than anyone thought they could be. It isn't often that a person can pinpoint a day that their life changed forever. I can. It was this date.
A bit more than nine years ago on the first anniversary of the storm, I wrote this for a New Orleans newspaper:
Today I will journey into the city. I will head directly into areas that have few people still. I will go to a high school that is a shell of itself, though it has certainly fared better than most. I will talk to persons who were forced into exile a year ago. I will talk to them about their return, about what they lost and what they will never regain.      
It disturbs me daily that people have to meet to make a plan to make a plan. It disturbs me that there is no one who will simply step up to the plate and say, this isn't cutting it. We need to rebuild. Or this isn't worth it, we're not rebuilding, we're bulldozing.   
It's been a year. People are dying from stress, literally. People are not dealing with the pain and the loss and they're taking their own lives in some instances.
And we talk, seriously, about comedy shows and fireworks.
My Utmost for His Highest says: Faith must be tested because it can be turned into a personal possession only through conflict...Faith is unutterable trust in God, trust which never dreams that He will not stand by us.
Friends, we (in all shapes and sizes) made it through. Some of us were lost, lives and/or souls. 
We went charging into the valley of the shadow of death, which was flooded by the way, and we swam out the other side.
 I trust we are better for it. I trust that our faith, all of us no matter our circumstances, has been tested and it is now our personal possession to fall back upon when the next storm, big or small, comes blowing into our lives.

The Book of Nehemiah ends sort of weirdly. There is no end, really. Life just goes on.
 Maybe that's the real secret to be found here, the real answer.
 Life goes on. Storms come and go, but life, even hard life, must go on.This decade has come and gone, the most adventuresome of our married life of 30 years. We have moved on and on and on. But what I've finally figured out, really figured out, is that we follow a God who can and does.
I have come to learn a few things, only a few, but one of them is the fact is I will always be in grieving for a lost life that maybe wouldn't have been any better than the one we eventually have lived. Now, I understand intellectually that God has placed me where He wanted me. But my heart, my heart?
         As I write, I'm listening to a cut of one of my son's CD, Too Old Now, and I can't get those words out of my mind. I was, in many, many ways too old to start over, too old to wander and probably too old to wonder.
         But I lived through a hurricane that killed others and missed by just mere miles being affected by a flood that galvanized a nation and shrunk a great America city by thousands.
         What can the next decade possibly bring?

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Trophies for participation?

Maybe you read or heard about this yesterday.
Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison announced Sunday that he was giving back his 8- and 6-year-old son's "participation" trophies because they hadn't earned them. A ruckus ensued. I have to tell you, I think he was dead on, and that message shouldn't be discounted simply because he was the one delivering it.
"While I am very proud of my boys for everything they do and will encourage them till the day I die, these trophies will be given back until they EARN a real trophy," Harrison said in a post on Instagram. "I'm sorry I'm not sorry for believing that everything in life should be earned and I'm not about to raise two boys to be men by making them believe that they are entitled to something just because they tried their best."
Here's what I know, from a pastoral standpoint as well as a, ahem, former athlete.
Life isn't always fair.
You can work your hardest, try your best, expend every ounce of energy you have and sometimes things just don't work out the way you hoped or imagined. That's just the way things go. Teams I played on finished out of the championship round more often than not. We never won a state championship. As far as I know, my high school still hasn't. That made the year we went unbeaten all the more sweet in summer baseball.
Yet somewhere along the way, someone had the misguided notion that kids should live in a la-la land where everything is perfect, there are no hardships or heartbreaks, and you get a shiny trophy or a pretty blue ribbon just for being you. I'm not sure where that came from.
There's time enough to get acquainted with reality, the thinking goes. In the meantime, children should be praised and encouraged, reminded at every turn how wonderful they are.
No wonder study after study has shown that millennials, the first of the trophy generations, are stressed out and depressed. They were sold a bill of goods when they were kids, and discovering that the harsh realities of life apply to them, too, had to have been like a punch to the gut.
Everything you get in life is earned -- except one thing.
That one thing? 
God's grace. That's where we go a different direction. The Apostle Paul talks about receiving the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, "the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day -- and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing."
What did he do to earn that grace, nothing on his own. He just held on to the grace given to him by a loving God.
Then and only then should we be given trophies for doing absolutely nothing. 
And there, I've tied James Harrison to Almighty God. Didn't think I had it in me.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Surely not...

Did you see the story recently?

A 92-year-old woman is no longer allowed to worship at the church where she was a member for more than 50 years because she was not tithing.
Josephine King said that was the reason she was kicked out of Bainbridge's First African Baptist Church.
Her family members said they hope the situation will bring change to churches across the nation.
“Josephine King is no longer considered a member of the First African Baptist Church of Bainbridge, Georgia,” read Gerald Simmons, as he skimmed over the letter addressed to his aunt.
The letter, signed by Senior Pastor Derrick Mike, stated that Ms. King "has shown non-support" towards the church in the areas of "constant and consistent financial and physical participation."
"She was stunned. She was disappointed. She was shocked," said Simmons.
He said Ms. King was considered sick and a shut-in for several months, which was the reason for her lack of attendance.
He also said his aunt had gone above and beyond in the past to financially support the church.
"You shouldn't chase the individuals down," said Simmons. "You shouldn't do that. If that's the case, you're money hungry."
Simmons also noted that his aunt isn't the first person to receive a letter of removal for not tithing, and hopes her story will shed some light on the policy.
"You have to have money to make these churches run, but it's not about money,” Simmons said. "It's about God. You have to put God first."
Several requests for comment from the church were made, but no responses by officials or other members were given.
There it is. We've reached a stage of disbelief. We wonder why the church universal is in such disarray and chaos. We wonder why millennials are flocking away from the church. 
Clearly there is more that one side to every story, and I have to believe there might be more than one side to this one. But...
If not, then the pastor has some splaining to do as Ricky would have said to Lucy. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Musician's Villages historic and otherwise

In New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, they built a new neighborhood around a music center where musicians can teach and perform. Musicians Harry Connick, Jr. and Branford Marsailis teamed up with Habit for Humanity International and New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity to create the village for New Orleans musicians who lost their homes to Katrina.

As of February 2007, the Musicians' Village is "the largest-scale, highest-profile, and biggest-budget rebuilding project that was begun in New Orleans post-Katrina.

It, however, wasn't the first such project in history.

I can't begin to tell you how great the reading I'm going to share with you this morning is. I can't begin to imagine the importance of this day in the so-called grand scheme of things.

The reading is found in Nehemiah's journal, er, book. It's his way of re-establishing pomp, circumstance and early worship regimen after the terrible time spent in Babylon where tears were more common than summer rain. Understand that I don't care for any of the former to speak of. Pomp and circumstance and I get along about as much as fire dances with ice. To quote someone somewhere, "It ain't me."

But there are moments when I connect with the greater good, with mass-produced words and script and music somehow dances with the one who brung us, and suddenly I am transported to somewhere I've seldom been. That's not bad.

After the walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt, Nehemiah did some worship planning with Ezra, the prophet. Names and numbers and such were pounded into being, and suddenly it was time for a church service.

The new "church" was finished in the seventh month. The Israelites were settled in their towns. They all "gathered" for a service.

Nehemiah asked Ezra, the "scholar" to bring the book of The Revelation of Moses with him. He came from Babylon. Scripture says "God's hand" was on Ezra. He brought with him a letter from King Artaxexes and a copy of the Revelation of Moses.

They built a platform to stand on.
Ezra opened the book and worship began.
Chris Tomlin led the singing.
Music poured forth from the musicians.

Can you hear it, feel it?

"Every eye was on (Ezra( (he was standing on the raised platform) and as he opened the book, everyone stood. Then Ezra praised God, the great God, and all the people responded, "Oh, Yes! Yes! with hands raised high. And then they few to their knees in worship of God, their faces to the ground.
"Jesua, BAni, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodia, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah,m HJozabad, Hanan, and Pelaiah, all Levites, explained the Revelation while people stood, listening respectfully. They translated the Book of the Revelation of God so the people could understand it, and then explained the reading.
"Nehemiah  the governor, along with Ezra the priest and scholar and the Levites who were teaching the people, said to all the people, 'This day is holy to God, your God. Don't weep and carry on.' They said this because all the people were weeping as they heard the words of The Revelation. He continued, 'Go home and prepare a feast, holiday food and drink, and drink, and share it with those who don't have anything, This day is holy to God. Don't feel bad. The joy of God is your strength.' "

And music swam across the Kidron Valley like whales dancing in the open sea.

At some point, Ezra wept openly, finally flopping down prostrate in front of the Temple of God. He prayed and he confessed, and a "huge number of the men, women, and children of Israel gathered around him. All the people were now weeping as if their hearts would break."

Friends, acquaintances, this was WORSHIP, from a group of folks who didn't even know much about it. No worship meeting. No worship plan. Just standing up on a platform, opening the Word and like Red Smith said, opening a vein and letting the blood pour out. The blood of the Lamb. They found "the" book and read from it, and life changed.

It came time for the dedication of the wall they had built, so they tracked down and brought in Levites ... to carry out the dedication exuberantly: thanksgiving hymns, songs, cymbals, harps, and lutes. The singers assembled from all around Jerusalem ... the singers had built villages for themselves all around Jerusalem."

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Rebuilding the walls

Nehemiah, in captivity, sat in the back of Jewish humanity in the palace complex at Susa. It was the month of Nisan in the 20th year of Artaxerxes, the king. At the hour for serving wine, Nehemiah brought it in and gave some to the king. 

Nehemiah, the cup bearer for the king, felt depressed, so much so that the king noticed. Nehemiah said, "Long live the king! And why shouldn't I be depressed when the city, the city where all my family is buried, is in ruins and the city gates have been reduced to cinders."

Of course, Nehemiah said, things were rotten in, er, Jerusalem. 

Ever been there? Ever felt so low because of circumstances that you couldn't operate? There was but one solution. Nehemiah needed to help rebuild the city. 

Nehemiah packed up the RV, hit the road, arrived in Jerusalem and in three days got things rolling. He did some scouting, some asking, some planning. Then he told the Jews in the city what he saw. 

"Face it; we're in a bad way here. Jerusalem is a wreck; its gates are burned up; Come -- let's build the wall of Jerusalem and not lie with this disgrace any longer." Nehemiah told them how God was supporting him and how the king in Babylon was supporting all this."

When's the last time you really committed to, uh, something? Gave it all you had and a bit more?

Last night I was at a local church dinner, and before we hastily made our way to the conclusion, they handed out commitment cards from that church. We were given the option of filling out the cards, thereby telling the collectors of said cards that we were making Jesus our Lord and Savior, or re-commiting our lives to Jesus, or three or four other categories. Our prayers were then recorded.

I felt uncomfortable about the whole thing, mainly because I thought something as big as the moment in my life in which I committed or surrendered to Jesus might ought to be a moment in which I took long minutes to think this over, certainly more than the final minutes of a dinner party. I sure thought that committing to Jesus was much more important a moment than than picking a number out of a bucket and giving me a rod and reel. Just saying.

Here's the bottom line, friends. Committing to Jesus is the most serious moment of our lives, I would think. Committing to Jesus is sure enough the most important moment of our lives. "Therefore, let's build the wall of Jerusalem together and not let it lie with disgrace any longer."

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Trump's hair is on fire

          It was dark this morning, cloudy, strangely silent, and it smelled of, er, heat. Like a cat had broiled her feet on a tin roof somewhere in my vicinity. It was, again and again, hot.
         It has been so hot that Donald Trump’s hair quit the presidential race and went to lay in the freezer of the Trump’s refrigerator.
         HOT, again and again and again, it's been as hot as, oh, I don't know, Hell in summertime.
     They say this incredible run of 100-plus days are about to come to an end. Then we can go back to normal, you know, mid-90s and such.
     Yesterday we hit 106. That’s not an Atlanta Braves infielder’s batting average. That’s not that strange beast called heat index. That is 106 degrees. Like, really.  The only time I’ve ever experienced 106 temperatures was the night I covered a Nevada Reno vs. Nevada Las Vegas football game in Las Vegas. It was 110 at game time, 6 p.m. But they kept telling me it was a dry heat. All I knew was my toenails were roasting like peanuts.
         I know everyone says it's no big deal if you keep hydrated, but when the water in the bottle is on a slow roll, hey, it’s 106.
         I stood outside a school bus helping little ones find their bus (pig here, dog picture there), the sun hitting the pavement and introducing its beams right on into the soles of my feet.
         It's brain-numbing, body exhausting, sweat-producing if you’re lucking and you haven’t sweated it all out too soon hot.
         It's so hot my golf shoe exploded. Seriously. Bottom of shoe left the fairway before top of the shoe was ready. Poppppppp.
         It's hot enough that local chickens are laying hard boiled eggs. No, really.
         It's hot enough that everyone in Coushatta is wearing sweat pants, clothes are ironing themselves, white collar workers have red necks like the rest of us, we’ve gone past global warming arguments and are now fighting about global melting, and all the beach sand on Grand Isle has turned to glass.
         I'm talking hot, folks. I read yesterday that deer in the area are wearing sun screen.
         We are talking hot.  
         We're talking the kind of heat that will pop corn still on the stalk. So hot that there was nothing to do but send a call right on into the throne room of God asking for a bit of Lord love. 
         I'm reminded of David looking up one summer afternoon and letting all his woes and worries simply crawl on out. He writes, "I look to you, heaven-dwelling God, look up to you for help. Like servants, alert to their master's commands like a maiden attending her lady, we're watching and waiting, holding our breath, awaiting your word of mercy. Mercy, God, Mercy!"
         Saturday, I saw a digital sign at the Bank of Coushatta that had 111 on it. One hundred, eleven degrees. It wasn't that hot, but I think the sign had been fried. Literally.
     Friends, it's so hot, …I saw a fire hydrant chasing a dog yesterday!
         It's so hot, I’m sweating like a politician on election day!
         It's so hot, all the bread in the Rivertown Market was already toasted!
         It's so hot, the cows are giving evaporated milk!
         It's so hot, the birds have to use potholders to pull worms out of the ground!
         It's so hot, yesterday I made INSTANT coffee from water from the hose!
         It's so hot, my car overheated before I cranked it!
         One of my dogs tried to drink water from the toilet but couldn't because the water was boiling
         It's so hot, former Tour de France biker Lance Armstrong tested positive for water!
         It's so hot, my Reese’s peanut butter cups turned into Reese’s peanut butter milk!
         It's so hot, my change melted in my pocket!
         It's so hot, I saw a fox chasing a rabbit and they were both walking!
         No, seriously, It's so hot we've realized in Coushatta, La., that asphalt has a liquid state.
         A friend told me it is hotter than a billy goat in a pepper patch, than two cats fighting in a wool sock, that a firecracker lit at both ends. 
         It's so hot that yesterday my wife Mary and I went to get a milk shake at Dairy Queen and when I opened the top to put a straw in it, the straw hit nothing but cheese.
         It’s so hot that Satan called and asked to have his weather back. Boy, I wished I could give it to him. He deserves it. But when I told him that it was 106, he said that’s too hot for him.
         I sympathized.
         Man, it’s hot.