Tag Archives: life

Phoenix Shmeonix, We Have a Pumpkin!

Mythical Birdie

Greek mythology tells of a bird that rises from its own ashes to live again. They call this kind of bird a pheonix.

Personally, I’ve never seen a pheonix, nor have I seen any bird rise up from the ashes of its own dead body – not even that turkey we burned to a crisp one year. I’ve seen some chicken go up in flames, but once the ashes were cleaned out of the grill, that was it.

So, when it comes to freshly-feathered foul flying from the fire, I’m kinda skeptical.

But when it comes to pumpkins, that’s a different story.

Mysterious Gourd

If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I might have thought some muffaletta-munching Greek had been up to another one of his tall tells. Yet, there it was, right there, smack dab in the middle of our burn pit… a pumpkin!

You see, down in a field we have a place where we burn stuff like wood and brush, and the occasional box of paperwork that’s too sensitive too be trusted to a shredder. When not being used as document destroyer, the pit is perfect for cookouts and hanging out while listening to the crackling of the fire on a cool night.

What the fire pit is NOT used for is a garden. On top of that, the last time the fire pit was used, no produce was harmed and no seeds were sown. As a matter of fact the last thing that was torched was about a hundred pounds of sensitive files and a couple of trash bags filled with shredded bills.

So where on earth did the pumpkin come from? Charlie Brown?

Don’t Lose Hope

Here’s the thing: you never know what might unexpectedly spring up from the ashes. Even your wildest imagination may fail to prepare you for what might grow out of the remains of total decimation.

It might be nothing like anything that was burned, not even remotely, but it will have been planted by God and nourished by what you thought was worthless.

I literally don’t know where that pumpkin could have come from or how it managed to grow. However, later on, when I’m eating pumpkin pie, I’ll be thanking the Lord it was a gourd that rose from the ashes, and not a pheonix…

The last thing you want to eat is a regenerating hot wing! 

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My Last Words?

Worthy Drafts?

This evening I was exploring the “draft” file to see if there was anything I could edit and post. I clicked on a few titles of unfinished works, but more often than not the posts were only titles, nothing else. Then I came upon the following draft written all the way back in March of 2011: “My Last Words.”

It was seven years ago, and I don’t even remember what kind of surgery I was about to have. All I know is that I did not die; I survived. Actually, I don’t even know if I had the surgery. I just can’t remember.

But reading the words of this post disturbed me. It almost sounds like what a suicide letter would sound like! So much regret! So much hopelessness! So much self-pity. So little victory!

Therefore, with even more transparency than I’m used to, I’m going to let you look into my past, into my mind and heart, right before believing the worst would happen. Then, I’m going to do something else…just in case.

My former last words…

I am going to have surgery tomorrow. I don’t know if I will survive. I have been having strong feelings that I won’t. I am scared, but not too much. I just pray that God takes care of my wife, Valerie, and the girls.

I have not lived much of a life. I have not been many places, or seen many things. My education has been limited and of little value. I wish that I could have studied and applied myself more early on, instead of doing fruitless things and chasing fruitless relationships.

I miss my dad, and long to see him again.

My wife could have done much better than me, for I have not provided for her, or my children, the way they deserve. She deserved a man who could take care of her emotionally and monetarily. I have done neither. I have failed her in many ways.

My children have not had the best dad, either. I have not intentionally been abusive, but I have hurt them many times with my words. They didn’t deserve that. I hope they will forgive me.

I hope that my girls will grow up to fear the Lord and live for Him, much like I have tried to do, but have failed. They have a hard life ahead of them, and without faith in God, there will be no hope.

I could say a lot more, but I hope that God will be glorified in my weakness. Maybe something I have said and done in my life will prove to have had some lasting value once I’m gone.  I pray my wife finds peace and is taken care of. I pray my daughters find godly men. – Written 3/3/2011

Like I said, I’m glad I didn’t die in that surgery, and I’m very happy those were NOT my last words! However, should something happen to me before the sun rises, allow me to write what I’d prefer to be my “last words.”

To all concerned…

Valerie, you have been the greatest gift God has given me apart from salvation. Without your love and unending support and faithfulness I would have never become the man I am today. Your joy and faith, despite innumerable ills and disappointments, have filled my life with a beauty that transcends the temporal. Your gentle eyes inspire me. Your laugh energizes me. Your love humbles me. Your very presence comforts me, especially in the night when you’re beside me. Despite what you think about yourself, you are a godly Proverbs 31 woman worthy of praise. You’re the ruby in the setting of my life.

Girls, I’m proud of all of you! Each of you are specially gifted and called by God to glorify Him in unique ways. Don’t compete with each other. Don’t ever be jealous of each other. Always love each other, despite your differences. Put God first in your lives, before relationships, family, career, money, or even yourselves. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom – seek God and be wise! Never settle for a man who simply loves you; expect more! Find a man who loves Jesus first, then treasures you. You won’t regret it.

Mom, I love you. Becky, I love you, too. I wish we all could have spent more time together as a family down here. However, one day we will be reunited, along with daddy, and the dissappointments of the past will fade away along with the feelings of being apart.

God has been so good and gracious and merciful to me! If I have any regret, it’s that I haven’t praised Him enough. Hasn’t He been good? Yes, He has! All the time! Keep telling people about Jesus, even without me. Without Jesus what would we have? Without our hope in Christ there’d be no hope of seeing each other again, so thank Him in the congregation of unbelievers and believers alike! Let them know the reason for the hope that is within you.

If these truly end up being my last words, don’t weep for me too long. Rise up, look to the future with expectation and excitement! Joy comes in the morning!

Make my funeral one to remember. Have church! Worship! Sing! Shout! Get a man of God who can preach the infallible Word of God and let him loose! If the gospel isn’t preached with joy, passion, praise, and power at my funeral I’ll find out about it and personally ask God to disable evey game app on all your phones! If the Word isn’t preached over my casket you’ll never play word games again 😉

Finally, don’t forget to read your Bible, pray, move on with your life, know God still has a purpose for you, and become a better shot!

I hope these aren’t my last words, but if they are, I love you! See you in a little while!

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness… All other ground is sinking sand.”

 

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On Burning Burberries and Babies

Waking to the News

I don’t advise it, but it’s something I do often … I wake up to the news.

Honestly, the first thing I should do before rolling out of bed in the morning is pray or read a verse of Scripture. Yet, because my phone is my alarm clock, and because there’s usually a message that pops up right after I turn off the alarm, I habitually (may addictively) take a quick look (just a peek) at what’s happened overnight or the big news story of the day.

This morning, besides the incessant drum of anti-Trump rhetoric and the usual “Russian collusion” vitriol, there was a story about a clothing retailer that burned $37 million of its own over-stocked inventory.

And the masses rose up in protest.

Burberry Burning

Image credit: Wikipedia

Now, if you do most of your shopping at “off-the-rack” stores like I do, especially when items are on clearance, you’ve probably never even heard of Burberry. Again, if you’re like me, it is highly unlikely you’ve paid 3,000 dollars for a coat, so Burberry’s products are probably not hanging in your closet.

So, if you are a commoner like me (or just refuse to spend a lot of money on designer clothing), what Burberry does with their overstocked inventory couldn’t matter less in my mind. However, when the news came out that the British fashion label incinerated $37 million dollars worth of their clothes rather than let it fall into the hands of discounters or the “grey market,” a true meltdown ensued.

Many cried, “Why couldn’t they just give the clothes to the poor?” Others, like Sheena Raza Faisal at the website “Jezebel” wrote: “Let me be clear—the label literally burned fashion and cosmetic products carrying the Burberry trademark, because capitalism is a nonsensical loop of wastefulness.” Oh, the horrors of making a profit. Most just saw the whole thing as a waste of good merchandise – $37 million dollars worth.

Determining Value

But what are we really talking about? Are we talking about the burning of clothing that could have been offered to employees of Burberry or given to the coatless poor, or are we just upset that we didn’t get a chance at snatching up something for free?

Think about it, there’s something more offensive when we hear of expensive things being destroyed as opposed to inexpensive things. If Ferrari or Porche disclosed that it was going to reduce its inventory by crushing fifty $200,000 cars a month, you and I would be sickened. But if Ford announced that it was going to do the same with fifty of its units, each of which worth no more than $30,000, we’d barely sniff out a complaint.

The reason Burberry can charge so much for its products (i.e., $1,350 per coat) is because of low volume, high demand, and brand exclusivity (the very thing anti-capitalists complain about but love to wear). The $37 million dollars worth of merchandise equates to around 20,000 coats.

Had the same 20,000 coats retailed for only $50 each (like what I’d buy), we’d only be talking around a million dollars worth of merchandise burned. Sad, but not newsworthy.

Incalculable Value

But what of the worth of a child? What of the worth of an unborn baby? What of the worth of a human being with full potential? Who can determine it?

Burberry’s clothing and makeup products are expensive because of limited quantity, high demand, and prestige. However, very little about these products differ from similar products produced by other companies – only the label.

On the other hand, every human life (inside or outside the womb) has intrinsic value. In other words, each of us – including the unborn – are valuable despite anything else. We are valuable because of Who designed us, Who created us, and Who already set the price for us on the cross of Calvary.

People are up in arms because around 20,000 coats (and makeup) were destroyed last year. Yet, last year in the U.S. alone, around 600,000 or more babies (estimated) were destroyed in the womb. At least that’s down from a million in 2011. Yay. Woohoo.

And what do the “Jezebel”-like folk think about all THAT waste?

They “Thank God for Abortion.” (Viewer discretion advised)

Too bad we can’t stop destroying babies and just burn more coats.

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Filed under Abortion, current events, politics

Mustard-Seed Faith and Moving Mountains

Just a word about faith and moving things…

Remember the verse where Jesus said if we had faith the size of a mustard seed – very small – we could move mountains from one place to another?

And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. – Matthew 17:20

But when we talk about moving mountains, remember movement can also be directional.

So often we want God to positionally relocate a mountain so that our forward path might be easier to navigate. In other words, we want God to move the mountain out of our way so that the journey might be less of a struggle.

But what if the mountain remains? What if, despite our faith, it’s part of God’s plan for our lives that the mountain stay right where it is – in our way? That happens more often than not, doesn’t it?

It’s when the mountain doesn’t move to “yonder place” we need to have faith Jesus won’t let us fall from the jagged cliffs as He pulls us, pushes us, and gives us the strength to climb, thereby moving the mountain – not away, but behind us.

For today, have a little mustard-seed faith…the kind that says to the most formidable cliff, “You will not stand in my way!”

If it’s the Lord’s will for the mountain to remain in place, He’ll make it possible to conquer it and move it to “yonder rearview mirror.”

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He Lives!

We celebrate many holidays in this world, but one stands out among the rest…

Easter.

Now, I know that some of the more legalistic among us will label all the celebrations “moot” because of certain “pagan” links, like that to Ishtar and fertility rites. The unbelievers will laugh off this day with arrogant disdain (especially with it being April Fool’s Day).

But for the majority of Christians around the world, this day is a day to rejoice in the Son of God’s victory over the grave.

We are prone to celebrate many things, like who won a game, that new promotion, or a birthday. We throw parties when political candidates squeak out a win, or when that big contract gets signed. Some will even fire thousands of AK-47 rounds into the air while shouting “Allah Akbar!” at the top of their lungs. But nothing is more worth celebrating than Jesus keeping His word and rising from the dead to secure eternal life for those who trust in Him.

Today, as I stand before a congregation, I will attempt, in the power of the Spirit, to stir the imagination, to take us back in time, to recreate a fraction of the excitement that must have been felt when those who were convinced of defeat were shocked by the greatest come-from-below victory of all time.

Today, before all those present, whether in flesh or spirit, I will celebrate victory over sin, death, and hell. The Enemy has been defeated, his tools are obsolete, for Jesus died and rose again.

He Lives!

Click on the link to listen to my favorite Resurrection Day song, “Gone!” (sung by Teddy Huffam).

Also, here’s a group that’s new to me singing a medley of Easter-related songs (none of them about a bunny).

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Filed under Easter, Faith, God, Preaching, salvation, worship

It All Started With, “Let’s Go Get Breakfast!”

I have been accused of giving too many details and making my stories too long, so I will spare you many of the details and try to make this story short.  Nevertheless, just remember, leave out just one little detail, and instead of a cake, you get a brick.

But anyway…

It all started a couple of weeks ago when my wife woke me up with a smile and said, “Let’s go get breakfast!”  It sounded like a good idea, as many good ideas do, but it was a Saturday morning, and there was little on our schedule (for a change), so I should’ve known something was about to go wrong.

The only thing we needed to do before heading out to a place that sold pancakes was to go into a room in the basement of our church building – to a small room where we were storing some boxes of personal items during our move to the parsonage –  and retrieve one small file for my daughter. When we saw that the file was wet, we knew something was terribly wrong.

Just as soon as we started moving a few boxes around, we found out that the whole floor was soaking wet, and every box that was anywhere close to the floor was wet, too.  And not only was everything wet, but there was mold all over the boxes. Why did my wife get my hopes up? I was really looking forward to those pancakes.

Needless to say, the rest of that Saturday morning consisted of unpacking a room full of boxes, including separating all the items, and making sure nothing was ruined.  Unfortunately and tragically, there were some casualties. Pictures.

How it was that boxes full of of priceless and irreplaceable photographs ended up in the boxes closest to the wet floor, I will never know.  What I do know is that that afternoon we were forced to take a melancholy trip down memory lane.

At one point my wife wept like someone had died. One of the photographs that was nearly completely ruined was a one-of-a-kind of her mother and father. It was impossible for me to reassure her that everything would be OK, because I couldn’t; that was the only photograph of its kind.

They were also other items that were either ruined or nearly destroyed. Some of those were keepsakes that were created by our children when they were very young, and one item was a construction-paper-version of Noah’s Ark that our nephew made.  But even though there were some tragic losses, most of the photographs were only wet and a little moldy around the edges. So, what we had to do at that point was rescue what we could  before they dried and stuck together.

My wife and daughters and I began taking photographs out, one by one, laying them out to dry.  The only  place we had to do that was in another Sunday school room across the hallway.  What started out as a family outing in search of breakfast, ended up being a family project: create the largest display of damp photographs in our family’s history.

Now, on a sidenote, I took some photos of all the photos, just like my daughter Katie did. But, as always, Katie cannot just take a picture, she has to create photographic art.

So, again, what started out as a quest for breakfast ended up being something else: a time to make memories out of memories.

If I wanted to take more time, I could list several lessons that could be learned from what happened that Saturday morning when breakfast was skipped and photos were saved.  But there’s one lesson that should be pretty obvious from what happened that day, and the truth of it can be found in Proverbs 27, verse one:

Boast not thyself of tomorrow, for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.”

Sometimes breakfast will have to wait.

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Filed under Future, General Observations, Life Lessons, Struggles and Trials

Don’t Be a Whiner

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by | October 27, 2017 · 9:34 am