It was just after midnight, and I knew where my children were (if you’re old enough, you know what I’m talking about).
It was just after midnight, and I also knew where my wife was (thank heaven life isn’t a country song, right?).
It was just after midnight, and believe it or not, I pretty much knew where everybody I love was – and they were not here with me.
Just yesterday I drove from Georgia to South Carolina to pick up a cute little puppy (a chorkie -that’s a dog) that was a gift from our oldest daughter, Alicia. The little puppy was meant, among other things, to help alleviate the pain of the empty nest. But another reason was so that when my wife is out of town there’d be some sort of living being at home to welcome me when I came in the door (mice – and we don’t have any…anymore…don’t count).
You see, I hate being alone. I hate it that the people I love most in the world are not with me. Up until the end of July, the sound of “daddy” (or other versions of it) was a word I heard every day for the last 25 years. Not any more. And then, with everybody out of town last night, I had only 8 ounces of tea-cup cuteness to keep me company… and it wasn’t the same.
I was alone.
Praise the Lord for FaceTime! Can I get an “ amen!”?
But think with me for just a moment. When Jesus spoke words of comfort to a troubled Peter, what did He say to encourage him? Jesus told Peter that he would always have a place in His Father’s house, and most importantly, Jesus would be there with him!
The picture Jesus chose to describe heaven was an eternal home where one would never be alone.
So what is hell?
Hell is a place NOT prepared for us, but for Satan and his demons. It’s not a home; it’s a prison.
With hell there is no hope of Christ’s return or to be received into His welcome embrace. No, it is a place where one is sent, away from the presence of love, to be alone…forever.
No One to speak in our defense. No One to never leave us or forsake us. Only darkness, damnation, and desolation.
Sure, the fires of hell will torment, but how much worse when one is totally, mercilessly alone?
Even if there should be no flame, would not eternal, infinite loneliness qualify as hell?
Here on this earth I am never truly alone, for God is with me. I’m never alone.
But for those who don’t have Christ, no earthly loneliness could ever compare to a place where not even the Spirit of God convicts anymore.
Sure, I may be lonely right now, like I was a little before 1 a.m., but thank God I’m not alone as hell!
This blog was never intended to become a ministerial diary, of sorts, but reality is what reality is, not what we want or perceive it to be.
Therefore, I will continue to share my observations as we press forward in this new (to us) work in Georgia.
Getting strait to the point, there is a spiritual war going on, and you and I are involved in the conflict. It doesn’t matter where you and I are; the war is on-going and world-wide. We will never escape it until it’s over.
Unfortunately, too many think that life, with all its problems, is rarely affected by the spiritual conflict that rages all around us, even within us. Yet, the reality is that nearly everything we experience in this life is tactically connected to innumerable, web-like strategies meant to bring either victory of defeat. And depending on which side you are on – and that is debatable – victory may mean either bondage and destruction, or hope and deliverance.
There are no coincidences, and no small decision is devoid of long-reaching consequences. This is reality, and that’s a check you can cash.
The Influence Factor
To be fair, it doesn’t matter who you are, where you are, or what responsibility you’ve been given: you’ll never know the full extent of how your life and your decisions will affect others. However, what is equally true is that the more influence a person has, the more of a “high-value” target he or she becomes. And because we are in a spiritual war, this is especially true for those in ministry.
Just since the last post I wrote, the one about “Food and Fur,” I have been reminded that the more influence one has, the more the enemy will attack. I have been reminded that the enemy will wait until we are comfortable, then strike where we are least expecting it, and usually with weapons and tactics for which we have little defense. Or, rather, the defense we do have is more than adequate, but the enemy knows we have not done much training on how to use it. Either way, the attack is meant to knock us back and reconsider our ability to continue the fight.
This is why it should never be an aspiration for a minister to obtain a “larger church” or anything like that, for unless it’s in God’s timing, and unless the minister and his family are equipped, because of the “influence factor,” they – and I do say “they” – may not be able to handle it. The more influence over the lives of others, the more the Enemy will desire your destruction.
The “Fear” Factor
You do remember the TV show Fear Factor, don’t you? Do you remember how that it was perfectly possible for every contestant to complete the required challenges, if only they could conquer their own fears? They all had the strength, the coordination, and the skill, but it was so often the fear that immobilized the contestant who failed. So often in this spiritual warfare what we find is that we’ve been given all we need by the Holy Spirit to be victorious, but fear – fear of failure, fear of exposure, fear of sacrifice, fear of inadequacy, fear of the Enemy – saps our strength, makes us weak in the knees, causes us to run, or convinces us to surrender.
This week (even yesterday) my family was threatened. The threat is hard to assess, but it is being taken seriously, so much so that police departments in two states are now involved. Yet, should we live in fear? Should we be intimidated?
Or, should we refuse to cower and hide, put feet on our faith, and trust our God to deliver?
In the Messianic Psalm 91, David wrote of how he would handle threats. He wrote:
“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him will I trust’” (Psa. 91:1-2).
Later in verse five he writes: “You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day.”
Then King Solomon, David’s son, echoes these very words when he describes the kind of peace one can enjoy when he puts his faith in the true God and trusts His word:
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto your own understanding: in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths…When you lie down, you will not be afraid; yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet. Do not be afraid of sudden terror, nor of trouble from the wicked when it comes; for the LORD will be your confidence, and will keep your foot from being caught” (Proverbs 3:5-6, 24-26).
Believe me, I am concerned. I am concerned for the safety of my daughters, my family in general, myself, and even my friends and congregation. But I refuse to live in fear! I refuse to live in hiding. I refuse to accept that threats from enemies of God – the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and my Father in Heaven, the One who tells me to call Him “Abba” (Daddy) – carry more weight than the promises from God’s Word!
Since I’m already at 907 words, I should bring this “Observation” to a conclusion.
First, I don’t think it’s wise to share specific details about what is going on that made me write this post. Doing so would not help keep anyone safe any more than what is already being done. So, don’t expect any real details to come out in future posts.
However, I will say this: Even in America there are those who will swear they are not radical, but will nevertheless use the “fear card” credit their fellow faith-members have earned as a tool. Even should their veiled threats be hollow and only mean, it is impossible to know what is truly in the heart or intended, and should therefore be taken seriously.
Evidently, the Enemy wants to put a stop to what God is doing, and he’s not going to play nice. When people down here said they’d heard I was stirring things up, this wasn’t exactly what I had in mind! And whether or not what we are going through right now as a family is related at all to the overall plan here in Georgia, in reality, it’s all related.
So, pray for us.
Your soldiers on the battlefield in middle Georgia
BONUS: Here’s a song my daughter Katie sang several years ago (I think she was 17). I think it’s pretty appropriate for today. Are we fearless, or full of faith?
It’s still a work in progress, but take a look at my new writing spot!
It’s not the most comfortable seating position (in relation to the keyboard), but I think I’ll get used to it… Oh, cool! I just lowered my chair and the keyboard’s in a better position! Sweet!
Anyway, it’s been a really long while since I sat down to write a brand new post, so here it goes!
Moving to a new city and a new culture brings with it a multitude of “shocks.” You’d think that a distance of 250 miles (201 as the crow flies) wouldn’t make that much of a difference, but you’d be wrong. Life in rural middle Georgia compared to metropolitan Chattanooga (Gig City) is totally different, and some adjustments are easier than others.
For instance, back in the Chattanooga area there are tons of restaurants, and not just the fast-food variety. There, for instance, you can find several very good barbecue restaurants, all within a few miles of each other. Yet, when my wife and I decided we wanted to find some barbecue down here, we had to drive 45 minutes to a place that was open only on Fridays and Saturdays, had outdoor bathrooms, had no air conditioning, and the floor was sawdust.
I asked a lady sitting quietly nearby, “So, tell me about this place.” With matter-of-fact tone and an attitude that gave me the impression she didn’t enjoy strangers asking stupid questions, she replied, “My daddy woke up one day and decided he wanted to sell barbecue, so he did.”
Hey, the food wasn’t bad, but even more, you didn’t have to worry about slipping and falling!
As we find other culinary establishments to visit, I’ll be sure to keep you updated. Should you come visit and get tired of my wife’s cooking, you’ll be better aware of your options.
We left not only our daughters behind when we moved away, but we left two little dogs we loved, too. However, even though I have no wagging tails to great me when I walk in the door; there are plenty of wagging tails on the outside.
Imagine waking up your first morning in a new house, sitting down on your front porch to enjoy the cool, misty air while you sip a cup of coffee and read your Bible. Then, imagine looking up to see two dogs trotting down the quiet two-lane road, one with a shoe hanging from its mouth by the strings. With only the sound of a few birds singing in the trees and the faint squeak of the antique glider you’re sitting on going back and forth, imagine saying to yourself – as I did, “Well, that’s different.”
Here in the equivalent of Mayberry, the dogs are happy, wander the neighborhood, enjoy being petted, and steal any shoe left overnight on a front porch. Literally, the very next morning this same dog came from the opposite direction with a different shoe … only this time she came into my yard and dropped it long enough lick my hand and roll on her back to greet me. A neighbor, out for a walk at the same time, hollered from the street, “She’s the community dog … she doesn’t belong to anybody, but she’s a good watchdog … her name is Dog.”
…There’s also the gnats.
Did you know there was such a thing as the “Gnat Belt”?
Well, we are in it!
Honestly, there’s a lot more I’d like to tell you, but I don’t want to wear out my welcome. If I bore you now, you might not come back. How sad would that be?
I mean, I’ve left my hometown; I’d hate to lose you guys!
So, hug the ones you love, thank the Lord for His blessings, and be on the lookout for some more posts. What I’m learning I’ll certainly share with you 🙂
OK, so if you don’t get it, “skeerd” is “scared” spelled that way we say it sometimes in the South.
A while back I was woken up by a dream – a bad one. In reality, I can’t tell you for sure if it was really even a dream – it might have been real. I was walking down a hallway (I don’t know where) when a deep voice spoke to me, almost speaking through me, getting my attention.
The hallway down which I was walking was lit where I was, but towards the end it was dark. I was walking toward the darkness. When the voice spoke, it said something like, “I’m here, too,” or “You’re not alone”… I just can’t remember. I looked to my left and there was a 3D shadow…a walking dark shadow of a body…walking beside me as I was walking, and it looked at me.
The next thing that happened was I fell to the ground and started saying, barely able to voice the words, “Help me, Jesus!”
Immediately I woke up.
Honestly, I was rattled. That scared me. My heart was racing.
Then I got mad. I hated being scared. I knew that “greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world!”
So I tried to go back to sleep so I could get back into that dream. This wasn’t over.
But the dream never came back.
Don’t Let These Skeer You
The dream I had reminded me of a post I wrote several years ago. In it, I made a list of things of which Christian should not be afraid. Below is an edited version, including an addition.
8 things of which a Christian should not be afraid:
Dracula, or any other vampire that stalks you through your window.
Just show them your cross. If that doesn’t work anymore, then quote Scripture. Of course, if you are a girl, then you’d be better off to just call 911, or better yet, shoot the idiot trying to act like a character from Twilight.
Disclaimer – DO be afraid of Vampire Bats. They have rabies. You may be alright when they bite you, but then again, you may be wishing your church family had something else to pray for…(I ended with a preposition, see?).
If they prove that there is no God, no reason for faith, and no reason for the forgiveness of sin, then you have nothing to worry about. They can’t prove there is no God, you know, but if they ever did, then you are free to whack them in the head with the biggest hardcover KJV you can find. If there’s no God, then there’s no absolutes or basis for morality outside of what makes you feel good. Make yourself feel better when they take away your hope by knocking the grin off their face…they should understand.
Crazy worship styles and screens on walls.
No reason to fear these things, people. As long as the worship is from the heart and it IS true worship, not self-satisfying, self-glorifying entertainment, then God will be pleased. On the other hand, if church attendance continues to decline in this country, you won’t be able to afford the electricity needed to run the projectors and fancy sound equipment used by many praise bands. Where two or three are gathered together, there the non-electric bluegrass will be in the midst of them.
Disclaimer – For the record, I love bluegrass gospel. Sorry. Wait, I’m not sorry. Scratch that. I love bluegrass and want to see the words projected on screens in church for all to sing along….with.
Stray dogs that wander in through an open door and listen to the church service.
Had it happen. Didn’t mind. At least when the dog fell asleep he didn’t snore.
Week-long revival meetings.
Where have these things gone? All we see anymore are the 3-day kind, if not the weekend ones that include Sunday, but not Friday.
Just think, if we went back to longer revival meetings, then……wait…..does anybody have revival meetings anymore? We must be too skeerd of having to get dressed up each night; miss some TV we could easily DVR for later; miss a ball game or party, or hear something from God that might convict us. THAT should scare our socks off.
What is there to be scared of? Why do we hate knocking on doors, prayer-walking streets, etc.? As long as we’re not trying to sell anything, then most people are happy to meet someone who cares about them. Sure, there are the few vampires that don’t want you coming around, but most folks are at least cordial, at least here in the South. Folks don’t like being banged over the head with your Bible, but they do appreciate being greeted kindly and invited to someplace nice. Just invite them to the King’s house for a meet-and-greet (with a little sweet tea and love, they might just figure we’re not out to take their money).
Some things remain the same, and they have stones above their heads. Now, when those things come back from the dead, you DO have something to be skeerd….of (one more preposition misplacement). Of course, it all depends on Who raises the dead, too. Are they being raised to “walk in newness of life,” or to eat the flesh of screaming movie-goers? Either way, just invite them to a homecoming dinner on the ground and they’ll be alright.
Yeah, nightmares are not fun. Heck, dealing with anything demonic is not fun, either. However, God is still God, even in your dreams. He is Sovereign, even over the thoughts and intents of the heart. Therefore, don’t be afraid to go to sleep, particularly if you know that the God who created sleep is ALSO with you in the dark.
The next time you encounter a walking shadow or monster of any kind, call out to Jesus for help – no joke. YOU decide how the dream is going to turn out by inviting Jesus – the Name above all names – to take over.
Have you ever tried to merge into traffic, only to find that everyone else is in a bigger hurry than you? Try convincing a bunch of motorists on their way home that your school bus needs to jump into the flow.
Every time people see my kid transporter attempting to enter traffic from a side street, they say to themselves, “Oh no! I can’t get stuck behind a bus!”
So, without any compassion for me and my nerves, they pretend that they don’t see me. Better yet, they hold up a hand, wave slightly, and give me a look that says, “Sorry, but my schedule is too hectic to let you in front of me.” Jerks.
Making a Way
That’s when a school bus driver has to be proactive…he has to make a way into traffic. By being assertive with 35,ooo pounds of diesel-powered intimidation, one can MAKE motorist slow down and be polite. Making a way into traffic is possible because of a simple fact of life – getting put on the local news for hitting a school bus full of children is NOT in one’s best interest.
God can make a way, when there seems to be no way.
Isaiah 43:16, 20 –  Thus saith the LORD, which maketh a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters; …  The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, [and] rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen.
When God chooses to do something, nothing in heaven or on earth can stop Him. God can make a way. No decree of man or law of nature is an obstacle to the LORD of creation. If God has told you to go somewhere, do some work, or reach some person, even if the way seems impossible, He is God…He will MAKE a way.
Are you going through a valley? Are you on a stormy sea and can’t see past the waves? Do you think that there is no hope, no way out of it this time? Trust in Jesus – He can make a way, where there seems to be no way. He can give rivers of hope in the midst of your wilderness.
Hope you enjoy this short video of a beautiful song by Don Moen.
If there is one thing that makes me angry enough to spit nails, pound a steering wheel, clinch my teeth, and silently whisper vulgarities under my breath, it is this:
People who run school bus stop signs!
Honestly, I would like to know what goes through the minds of these idiots. What causes them to act so carelessly? Are they just careless, or are they blind? Should they even be behind the wheel of a vehicle?
I can’t tell you how many times it has happened to me while driving. One time, believe it or not, a motorist (older white male) came around from behind me on the side of the service door! Let me make that clear, the driver came from behind and passed me on the side the kids get out! He came within a few feet of hitting three middle-schoolers!
What do you do in a situation like that? Well, what wanted to do was chase him with the bus and pin him to a guardrail with 30,000 pounds of yellow furry!
What did I actually do? I called him an unflattering name that referred back to him possibly not coming from a woman who was married at the time of his unfortunate birth. That was all I could do. He got away before I could get his plate number.
If you are one of those slimy pieces of human debris that think it’s OK to run a school bus stop sign, especially if you have an important date, or just can’t stand the thought of being held up another minute – God is watching. Yep, that’s what I said, scumbag. Every time you think you are so special that you can skirt the law, run the stop sign, and go your merry way, God is watching you. When I can’t get your license plate number, God has got YOUR number, bub.
And whosoever shall offend one of [these] little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. – Mark 9:42 KJV
Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. … Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish. – Matthew 18:10, 14 KJV
You should stop and think a moment. Every time you flagrantly drive through a bus stop, you put children ask risk. You make your priorities more important than the lives of little children. Do you think that for one moment Heaven is on your side of the argument? Do you think that risking running over one of “these little ones” is any different than “despising” them? Do you believe in God? Keep running those stop signs and you will learn the lesson of the day…
You will eventually reap what you sow (what goes around, comes around).
Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. – Galatians 6:7 KJV
Sometimes children are told to “sow their wild oats while they’re young.” I can’t think of a more stupid piece of advice to give anyone! That is like saying, “Do everything wrong while you can, but don’t worry, it will never come back to bite you in the rear end.” God says, “Don’t be decieved by these idiots, because you will reap a harvest from the seeds you plant.”
The same can be said about those who run bus stop signs. Just keep it up, but one day you are going to get what is coming to you, especially if you hit one of those children.
The following is the first “Life Lesson” post I wrote about driving a school bus (published in Feb. 2011). It bears little resemblance to how later posts turned out, especially those included in my book. However, I learned as I went, as you will see.
Keep checking back every half hour as I will be posting 9 more “Life Lessons” today in celebration of this being my LAST DAY as a school bus driver.
What one person calls terrible weather capable of ending life as we know it, may be just another work day to another. This truth is never more obvious than to bus drivers.
Recently, we have had more snow in Tennessee than at any time I can personally remember. We have even used up all of our available “snow days.” Yet, while we were closing schools for snow down here, schools up north were quite literally trucking along.
Looking out the windshield of my bus onto the lawn, you can see an inch or so of white stuff. Due to the lack of equipment and funds to regularly take care of the frozen precipitation (it’s not the norm down here, you know), just an inch, if it sticks to the roads, will shut down schools in a heartbeat. The mountainous and rural back roads off the main highways, where most kids live, usually are not salted or plowed. Typically, people around here just wait a day or so for the arctic terror to melt. Until then, driving is dangerous, so buses stay parked and empty.
On the other hand, my wife was in Chicago during the last blizzard. She sent me this picture of a school bus transporting children in weather that would have given a Tennessee school administrator heart failure. What was the difference? They are used to it up there, and far more prepared. To people in Chicago, our worst weather is just another work day. But I wonder how they would deal with our heat, humidity, and lung-clogging pollen come August?
The Life Lesson
Problems will come in life that may seem small to some, but huge to others. The key is to never view another person’s problem as insignificant. What you may think is no big deal to you, just might be earth-shattering to somebody else.
Learn to show grace and mercy to those who aren’t handling things as well as you. You may be the strength and encouragement they need to get through a tough time. Who knows, a time may come when an unexpected storm will snow you in.