Sunday, January 21, 2018

The vehicle prayer

I’d been living on the road for about eight-months, working everything from hail storms to hurricanes.

We had a little money in the bank, so I figured we could hole up for the winter, in our little Florida home.

I enjoyed about a week break until the old vehicle decided she wanted a break, too.

After multiple trips to the mechanic, I was on a first name basis with one of the salesman, the service manager, general manager and a few of the mechanics.

The mechanics were so tired of keeping ol’ Bessie on life support they were begging one of the salesman to sell me a car.

But... I don't buy new cars. Ever.

After swapping war stories and kicking tires just for something to do, salesman Bob, became more than just a salesman, he became a friend.

I couldn’t believe I said it when I said it, but after I did, it felt right, and I was glad I did.
“I’ll go home and talk to my wife and God, and let you know…tomorrow.”

On the way home (about a ten-minute drive) I prayed something like: " Lord, you know everything. You know I don’t want to spend a bunch of money on a new car. You know I’m in-between deployments and shouldn’t step into a monthly payment without a monthly income, so...if we’re going to need a new vehicle—” I patted the steering wheel—“if ol’ Bess isn’t gonna make it, please, provide a monthly income as well…today.”

I was less than a mile from the house when I said that prayer.

Before I pulled in the driveway, the phone rang.

"Hey Doug, we just had something open up, would you be interested in a desk adjuster job?"

Wow! I thought.

"No" I said…

"Not if I have to live on the road again. I just got home from an eight-month stint.”

"Nope, you can work from home. It pays ($$$) per day. Are you interested?"

“WOW!” I said

No-way! I thought. God really heard may prayer—and that’s really good pay.

But, the story doesn’t end there.

The only requirement for our vehicle was it needed three seats, so the grandkids could ride. “It doesn’t have to be fancy, it doesn’t need bells and whistles, ‘cuz I won’t toot ‘em anyway. All it has to do is get us from A to B.”

Well, out of all the vehicles there was only one on the lot that had three seats. It was bran-new, not too fancy, so it would work.

When I told my wife, what had happened, she was excited, of course, but she said, “Don’t they have any used vehicles?” She thinks like me.

That night, a used vehicle showed up on the lot. It was almost new, only about ten thousand miles, they still offered the new car warranty, it had three seats and more bells and whistles than we’ll ever figure out how to was a whole lot cheaper and a whole lot fancier than we’d ever have chosen for ourselves.

I called the salesman...we have a new Bessie in the drive…and everyone at the dealership, from mechanics to management, are talking about how God answers prayer.

Monday, December 11, 2017

The First Christmas Tree

Stripped of its' leaves bare of its' branches
The Gift lay not under, but on that tree
The star
a cruel 

Red stripes 
On that tree, The Gift died

The First Gift given, for us, He is risen

Monday, March 27, 2017

If I had the nerve I'd tell you...

I saw you sneak up behind the pulpit and lay an envelope on my Bible. 
Then, more of you snuck up too.
I knew what you were doing—but couldn’t believe it was true.
It should’ve been me, sneaking envelopes to you.
I didn’t look until I got home—or the rest of the service, I’d have been a wreck.
You see, I receive more from you showing up each week, than anything I could ever give.
If I had the nerve I’d tell you, that behind the scenes, behind the man that stands behind the pulpit; is a child.
You’d never take me serious, if I told you how weak and scared and unworthy I am.
If I let you know how much I’ve failed, you’d never have listened to a word I said.
If I revealed my shadowy past, surely you’d walk away.
But…somehow, I did.
And, somehow, you didn’t.
And every time we meet, and every time you fill an empty seat, and every time I see your glowing face, I stand in awe more and more every day at God’s amazing grace that shines through each and every one of you…especially when you reached out to say thanks, to such a wretch like me. 

There are no words to write, or say, but with tears of gratitude, overwhelmed with love…I thank God, for you and pray His very best saturates you and yours in body, soul and spirit.
I love and pray for you

A tribute to Whispering Pines Bible Thumpers Group 

Friday, March 24, 2017


It started with a text
“Hi dad, I’m buying my very first car from a dealership today...just need The Lord on my side, I’ve been distant from Him…I don’t want to be but I feel like there’s a wall holding me back. Yesterday my basement flooded, this morning I woke to no hot water…all I ask is that you say a little prayer for me that all goes well and I will continue to grow closer to The Lord again.”
There was more where I put the…things like her having everything in and when she started drifting away from Him…how these little things won’t get her down…and how she thinks buying this car will help her build her credit.
It’s just like her pretty blond self to say it all, like a fire hose, without taking a breath.
I took a deep breath…Car? flood? No hot water? Distant? Holding you back?...? 
I replied: "I love you Bug. I pray for you every day to grow closer to The Lord. Your text is an answer to my prayers."
She sent back a smiley face; an, I love you too, and a little red heart.
I wondered how she made that heart.
She asked about how mom and I were doing.
I told her I was teaching a weekly Bible Study and mom was watching Luke (our two year old grandson) every day and the three other grand kids  after school…So, on weekends we enjoy being able to sit and listen to the clock go, tic-toc.
“Ha ha! That’ s literally what I’m doing right now! This clock…”
She had a finger pointing up and an actual photo of a clock on the wall near her desk.
I laughed right out loud.
“But as the day goes on I don’t hear it (the clock) at all…” She went on to talk about how good it was for grand kids to hang out with their grandparents. “I only wish I had spent more time—” being the eternal optimist she added— “but, it’s still not too late.”
I said, “As long as you’re still ticking (tic-toc) or, thump-thump, thump-thump…it’s not too late”
“Yessss! Ha ha very true. Just like this clock. Some people forget about what really matters in life until they’re reminded it’s still there and not too late.”
I smiled. Just like that clock, I thought…but faster. Just yesterday, this young lady I’m talking to was my baby girl in diapers.
I looked out the window at our winter home. Surrounded by snow-birds in campers or winter mobiles; we live and work and laugh and play and become family. But, at the end of the season, one by one, we say good-bye…knowing full well, the odds are, that some of us, will never meet again.
I could see some of the campers in the process of packing—getting ready to head north. Some, I know, may go a little further than intended.
I thought of Charlie from across the street, we left him last season with barely a good-bye…I always thought I should try, one more time, to tell him more about Jesus. From my front door I can see the For Sale in his window. He won’t be needing a house anymore.
I glanced across the yard toward Red’s fifth wheel camper. As long as I can remember he and his three wheel bike, with a canopy over the top, were permanent fixtures of the park. You wouldn’t recognize him without a cigarette hanging out of his mouth. Once, my daughter and I brought him a cucumber sandwich...brought one to Charlie that same day. I never really took the time to talk to Red, always thought I should; figured someday I would. 
The gal who mows the lawn found him, sometime toward the end of summer.
I shook my head and closed my eyes. When I did there was Roscoe, my friend; a WWII vet that kept me in awe with ninety-years-worth of stories. I remembered how, along about the end of August, I kept wanting to call and check on him, just to see how he was doing. I got busy. When I finally made it back to Florida and asked a mutual friend about him, she just looked at the floor and whispered, “Sometime toward the end of August, his daughter came in our office…and wept.” 
It was pretty hard to see when I typed my reply; knowing that sometimes, it is too late “as we see every year, when we return to this park and instead of old familiar faces we see For Sale signs and empty spaces. Each tic-thump might just be, the very last…”
Make the most of every hello and every good-bye.

iluvu & ipray4u

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Doing the most good

I didn’t really want to go.
It’s such a waste.
We parked amidst an ocean of cars and made our way to the door.
A banner hung over the entrance with that famous red and white shield and the words “Doing The Most Good”
Yeah right; doing the most good? Maybe out on the street or down at the mission, but here? With us? As much as Jesus loves people, even He wouldn’t show up for something like this.
My wife and I stepped aside and held the door for an elderly couple to shuffle through.
The man pushed a walker; he had a silver beard like Santa, but Abe Lincoln tall. I thought he looked like someone who’d smoke a pipe, play chess and spent a life time sailing. 
When he got midway through, he stopped. He turned, in slow motion, his blue eyes pierced mine.
At that moment all went quiet. I stood there, holding the door, and he stood there, holding up the line.
Finally, after an eternity of three seconds or four, he nodded and smiled, “Why thank you, young man.”
I can’t explain it, but it was like he really meant it, from way down deep inside. I could feel it.
His wife stood behind, her hand on his back. She smiled at him and then at me, “My oh my, what a kind gentleman.” She was lovely and graceful and the tremor in her voice reminded me of Katharine Hepburn.
I smiled, my wife chuckled, and the two eased on through, as one. 
We stepped into a Fellowship Hall where a handful of ladies were handing out tickets, “For the free drawing—thank you for volunteering.”
Abe and Katharine stopped. “You two young’uns go on ahead, me and my gal will tag along behind.”
She patted his back and lifted a comfortable smile.
I told them it was alright, we weren’t in a hurry, but he insisted, so we went ahead.
From there we were swept into the flow of hundreds of people filling plates from long tables filled with food…that could’ve been used to feed the hungry, instead of folks like us, who obviously hadn’t missed a meal in a long, long time, if ever.
The chatter quieted as folks paused to take a bite and chew in harmony with gospel hymns serenaded by The Volunteer Salvation Army Brass Quartet. 
We made our way toward an empty table near the front. I paused to say “thank you for your service” to a couple young men in uniform. They thanked me right back.
My wife, Roxy, waited at the table until I sat down. Without saying a word, she reached out and with her hand in mine we bowed our heads and gave thanks. The others at our table must’ve noticed because the talking ceased until we were through. I appreciated that, and told them so.
We’d just started to eat when I noticed Abe with two plates full of food resting on the seat of his walker.
His gal was tagging along, carrying two cups of coffee. Suddenly she stopped, her hands started to shake.  She held the cups out away from her as coffee splashed, the more it splashed, the more she shook. 
I dropped my fork and hustled. “Can I—”
She held the cups toward me, her eyes said, please.
I took the cups and headed toward a stack of napkins on the last table. I tossed the cups in the trash and grabbed half the stack. I heard her precious voice tell Abe, “Stand right here—so no one slips.”
When I turned around Katharine was right behind me. I told her I’d take care of it, but she just smiled at me, and then, at the napkins and held out a trembling hand.
I placed half the napkins in her hand, and when I did, she grabbed my hand in both of hers. The world stopped again, like it did when Abe stopped midway through the door.
It seemed in that moment that her trembling stopped…and mine began. Her eyes glistened as her smile reached her eyes, “Thank you.”
I don’t know why, but just like before, I’d never been thanked quite like that. It kind of left me breathless.
She turned and led the way back to her husband. 
I slid the napkins back and forth across the spill. Before I was through, the sweet lady, with some effort, was on her knees and wiping too.
“Ma’am I can get—”
She shook her head and held up her hands. “I want to help.”
I nodded.
Her eyes dropped to her trembling hands. “I should’ve known not to trust you to carry the coffee.” Then, she smiled.
I looked at her, and then her hands.
She lifted her shoulders up and down, “They’re not too good for hauling coffee—” she smiled big and bright like a child—“but they’re great for ringing bells.”
And then she laughed right out loud. It was one of those laughs that make you laugh right out loud too, even if nothing’s funny.
I did…and somewhere in there I forgot that I didn’t want to be there.
Her sweet voice trembled again, “Thank You—”
“I’m just glad I could—” but then, I realized, she wasn’t talking to me.
Her eyes were closed; her hands were folded—“for the kindness of this young man. You are so good to us.” She looked at me. But spoke to Him. “Do him some good.”
I kept wiping the floor, but felt like I needed to wipe my eyes.
She smiled, handed me her wad of napkins and looked up at Abe.
He kept one hand on the walker, reached out with the other and helped his gal, to her feet.
Then, he looked me square in the eye, like he did at the door, “Thank you young man.” He squeezed his eyes shut and repeated those same words. “Do him some good.”   
Now, I grew up going to a little church. If the doors were open, we were there, in our old wooden pew. So, I’ve been prayed for a time or two…or a thousand and twenty. All kinds of prayers; long, short, loud, quiet, hands on, hands off, spit flying, bad breath or just as quiet as a whisper with breath as sweet as honey, you name it, I’ve been through it …but never, not once in all those years, had I ever felt prayed for, like I felt prayed for at that moment.  
Back at the table we finished our meal while the Major stood behind a microphone and told us about the thousands fed and clothed and sheltered, but with every topic the main theme wasn’t about them and what they’d done, No matter what he was talking about he’d always swing back around to the same recurring theme, “we couldn’t do it without our volunteers, thank you.”
The brochure on the table caught my eye; Salvation Army Volunteer Luncheon. Under the red shield were those words again, Doing The Most Good. I read that part again, but in my head I heard the words of Jesus, “Greater works than these shall you do.”
I always wondered about that. How could anyone do greater works than Jesus? Healing the sick, opening blind eyes, raising the dead, walking on water, catching a boatload of fish? Yet, He said it, and He’s no liar. But, why now? Why’d those words come to me now? 
 I looked around that room filled with folks eating and talking and laughing. I watched it all. A lady delivered fresh coffee to Abe and Kat. A couple of men hauled empty plates to the trash.  A guy pulled out the chair for his pregnant wife and a lady cleaned off a table. A small group had gathered around the soldiers, they were shaking hands and patting shoulders. Like an instant replay, in my mind, I watched myself hold the door and wipe the floor. And about then the band was playing the old familiar hymn, Make me a blessing.
While watching and listening to all of them and all of that, it occurred to me, that if Jesus were here, He’d do this. He’d have a meal, for his volunteers; to hold their hand, to laugh, to cry, to look them in the eye, to wait on tables. It’d be just like Him to turn a simple gift into a great big feast.
My eyes wandered around the room again until they landed on Abe and Kat…and I saw Him, in them, all of them; from the ladies at the door handing out tickets, to the men hauling trash…and believe it or not, even in the guy who was wiping the floor—the guy who had showed up with a bad attitude, thinking it was such a waste.
I whispered my new favorite prayer, “Do ‘em some good.” The words I’d read somewhere from the book of Acts came rolling back, Jesus went about doing good.
All of a sudden I wanted to share the moment.  I snapped a picture of the brochure and posted it to Facebook. Comments started to roll in right away, one of which said:

“What would the world do without volunteers?”
Without thinking, I replied:
“In a word, I'd say: Die.
But, thank God, it's already been done, by The Greatest Volunteer there's ever been:
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. (John 10:11)
Willingly He volunteered for you, for me, for…the salvation of an army.

So together, as a family, as a His body, we can go about, doing the most good.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

I have an orchard

Most say it’s the best in the world. All are welcome to visit, to stay. We have opportunities galore, you’re welcome to apply.
What’s that? Well, that’s a long story.
Many grandfathers ago—that’s the way my grandfather put it—the orchard wasn’t the big and beautiful place it is today.
It was wild and harsh back then, but not too wild, not too harsh, to be tamed by the dreams and blood and sweat and tears of my grandfathers and mothers and sons and daughters, standing shoulder to shoulder to work, and bowing hand to hand to pray.
But it wasn’t just our family. We couldn’t have done it on our own. We had help, lots of help, from others. Much of which was from the other side of the tracks—at least that’s what we call it today. But back then, there were no tracks, just wide open spaces, wild and free.
Our granddad, from way back when, cultivated his dream until it grew, like a little tree that sprouted into many others, until he couldn’t keep up with tending the fruit. So, what could he do but look for help. He didn’t have much money, so in the beginning he paid his workers in fruit and food and shelter. They’d come and stay in the barn or under a tree, from sunup to sundown they worked, and in the evening we’d have a feast.
We became family.
Year after year this went on until the little orchard grew into the thriving estate we enjoy today.
It wasn’t all without trouble. We had more than our fair share.
The workers were wonderful, some of our family today stems from the relationships birthed back then. But, some saw our generosity as an opportunity to take advantage. Couldn’t really blame them, at first, so for a long while, we just let it slide. Some folks, with dreams of their own, would use our orchard for their start. They’d set up alongside the road selling fruit from the back of their truck, fruit stolen from granddad’s orchard.
That didn’t bother us too much; after all, they were just trying to make a better life for their growing families. And the Lord had given us more than enough. As long as they showed up for work on time, and put in a day’s work for a day’s pay, we were satisfied to wink at the fringe benefits they took on the side.
But, it didn’t continue that way.
Somewhere along the line the railroad came through. It was, at the same time, a stroke of good fortune and bad. Those tracks became a conduit for our fruit to the world—that was the good fortune part.
The tracks ran both ways, though. “It carried our fruit out—and carried some fruits in” as granddad would say.
More and more came across the tracks, and some, from parts unknown, were riding in on the rails.
Before long there were a lot more folks showing up for the evening feast than those who showed up to work in the field. We didn’t mind that all too much, we figured, once they got their bellies full and settled in with a place to stay, common decency would kick in and they’d repay kindness with a good day’s work…and for most, it was true.
But, more than a few were only there for the fringe benefits, without the work. We hated the idea of asking them to leave, since most were relatives or friends of our workers—who had, by then, become like family.  But, instead of pitching in to build our beautiful fruitful dream, they just took, all they could get—to no end.  
Even still, being the generous souls they were, my family would’ve overlooked that as well. They wanted to believe the folks only took because they were hungry or in desperate need. But that wasn’t the case; there were those, for whatever the reason, whose sole intent was evil.
They stole—at this part of the story my granddad would always pause and shake his head and add, “I hate to use the word, stole, because, how can someone steal something that, if only they’d ask, it’d be freely given? But, alas, there’s no other way to put it…they stole.” More and more they stole to the point it was hurting the orchard financially. And the children, who once skipped care free to the creek to swim and fish, were now afraid.
Little by little another business grew in the shade of the orchard. Crews—gangs or thugs would be more like it—would sneak in and harvest the fruit of our labor under the cover of night. They threatened any who saw them to keep quiet of suffer death.
Soon the orchard wasn’t enough for their lust. They ventured into our barns and livestock and poultry came up missing. Before long their ravenous lust crossed the line into our very homes.
On Friday nights, all the families would gather around a bonfire behind the barn. They’d laugh and sing and tell funny stories. Three of the girls ran to the house to fetch another pitcher of sweet tea. When they entered the house they were met by four men.
They never made it back to the fire. Two of the girls after unspeakable horror entered a place called Glory, a place they’d just sang about around the fire. One of the girls, twelve years old, didn’t die, but every day for a long long time, wished she did. Scarred for life; and nine months later bore the child who reminded her day after day of the horror…and taught her the beauty of forgiveness and mercy. That baby grew to be a fine man and is my great great great granddad.
The men were never caught.
But, after that, granddad built a wall.
That started a pretty big fight. Grandma said she wouldn’t have it. Said it was “un-neighborly, rude, arrogant, not at all Christian. God accepts everyone, He doesn’t build walls he knocks them down—remember Jericho?”
Grandma carried on and on the whole time, as granddad, for the first time in his life, installed locks on all the doors and windows. She finally planted her hands on her hips in front of him and said, “How can you be so hateful!”
Granddad just smiled, “We don’t hate our friends from across the tracks, or up and down the tracks—our friends are welcome, always will be.” And then he said the phrase that we’re pretty sure he invented, “We know no strangers.”
Grandma pierced him with a stare. “Then what’s all this?…and a wall! It’s downright un-Godly.”
He kissed her forehead and whispered, “God uses a gate. It’s at the end of a road that’s narrow and straight.”
After that, grandma grabbed a hammer, a chisel and an old wood fence panel. It took her weeks but you can see what she made if you stop by for a visit. Swinging over our drive is an old wooden sign with the phrase, “We know no strangers.”
The next thing you’ll see on our drive that’s narrow and straight…is a gate.  
What’s that? Our name? Oh, of course, I almost forgot. I’m sure you’ve heard of us.
Our family name is We The People
The name of our beautiful orchard is America
We love you, we welcome you, just please come through our gate.

 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that enters not by the gate into the sheepfold, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber... I am the Gate. If anyone enters through Me, he will be saved. He will come in and go out and find pasture. (John 10:1, 9)

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

a way of escape

The moment Adam & Eve bit the forbidden fruit they were bit by the serpent and the venom of sin entered our DNA
But they didn’t have to.
satan could only lead them to water, he couldn't make them drink...
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. ( 1 Cor. 10:3)
What is that way of escape?
Jesus told us in, another Garden, a garden called Gethsemane meaning “oil press” as it sat at the foot of the Mount of Olives where olives were crushed until they bled oil...where Jesus was crushed til He sweat blood.
No. This garden is no Eden, no Paradise, where God’s voice “Be fruitful and multiply” still echoes off the fruits of the trees, surrounded by beautiful rivers like Pison and Gihon and Hiddekel and Euphrates; meaning increase, and bursting forth and rapid and fruitful; where gold and all precious stones lie aplenty. No, this garden, Gethsemane, is dark, surrounded by names like Golgotha, because it resembles a skull. 
The dull thud of hammers on bloody nails murmurs through the trees…and the snoring of eleven men, too weary to watch …too weak to pray.
And there, in the distance, about a stone’s throw away, the sound of a Man on His knees, the words can barely be heard through His groanings, “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me…but…not My will, but Thine be done.”   
It is here in this dark garden where we learn how He resisted temptation, where everyone from Adam and Eve to you and me can resist temptation, can find our way of escape….
Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.


Monday, January 23, 2017

The Inaugural Bizarre

People buzzed about the book table like bees around a hive. From where I sat, near the side door, it looked like the bizarre was a huge success.
I watched folks walking by, checking out table after table of everything from handcrafted walking sticks, jewelry and cards to homemade bakery goods, sloppy-joes and ice cream bars.
Most folks found something to buy—that they didn’t need—usually food.
I could see the flat screen TV mounted on a wall behind the bakery tables. It was clear across the room, but I could tell it was showing the beginnings of the Presidential Inauguration.  
Somebody stopped by and bought a book, we chatted a bit, and I tried to stay focused but my eyes kept wandering over to the television set.
Laughter erupted and music started playing and all at once a line of people marched in dressed like, well, picture The Hee-Haw band. Bib overalls and bare feet, a metal garbage can and a moonshine jug were just a few of the instruments that made up the rag-tag Whispering Pines Fun Band.
They paraded along singing and smiling, having a great time, acting plumb stupid.   
The lady next to me had two tables filled with all kinds of jewelry and an assortment of beautiful stones; one of which, she said, “Keeps people from being crabby.” She gave me one.
A hundred bobbing heads milled about between me and the TV, but I could see it was getting close for the inauguration to begin.
Every now and then the booming voice of the park manager would echo from every speaker, one was directly over my head. He’d say stuff like: “Hurry and get your tickets our next drawing’s in five minutes.” Or… “Stop by our sponsor’s booth in the next ten minutes and get…” Or like a game show host, “The next person who brings me a finger nail clippers wins a…”  
A lady stopped in front of my table and the booming game show voice didn’t seem to bother her a bit. She read the scrolling Power Point presentation for one of my books. When I spoke, she didn’t seem to notice at first, but then she motioned with her hands telling me she was deaf. We communicated with what little sign language I had. She typed her name into her phone and held it out, motioning for me to speak into it.
I did. It wrote what I said. We chatted back and forth like that for a good little bit.    
After she left, I could see the inauguration was getting close, real close, President Trump was on the screen.
Someone else was talking to me, I tried to pay attention, really, I did, but my eyes kept wandering back to that screen. Finally, they noticed my divided attention and looked toward the screen. “You think he’ll do us any good?”
I just smiled and said, “I’ve been praying he would.”
I left the book table unattended and made my way to a chair near the bakery tables. The television volume was on, but with all the chatter it was hard to make out what was being said. Folks continued buying and selling, talking and laughing and doing what they’d come to do—have fun.
A moment later president Trump stood with his left hand on two Bibles; one given to him by his mother and the other had belonged to Abraham Lincoln.
The chatter quieted, a gentle rain started to fall in Washington DC and he uttered The Oath of Presidents to be:
"I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. So help me God."
A record number of prayers were prayed.
As the National Anthem was played the folks continued to mingle, eat and drink, but a remnant gathered; huddled in a ragged sort of horse shoe, around the front of the bakery tables. We stood, hats off, hands over our heart and sixteen year old, Jackie Evancho, brought grown men and war heroes to tears.
The president began his Inaugural Address, one of the shortest ever…during which time our game show host grabbed the microphone which sat fifteen feet to the left of the TV and announced something like basement bottom dollar brownies and sloppy-joes being half off.  
At first that got under my skin and respect for the man hit bottom dollar, but then, something happened.
My eyes bounced back and forth between two men behind a microphone; The President of the United States and the game show host.
As I looked him in the eye, he nodded and lifted a little smile.
I didn’t want to smile. The badder angels urged me to shout, “Turn off the mic sit down and shut up.” But, better angels bit my tongue.  And before I had time to get all riled up in my own self-righteousness, I heard the President, quote Psalm 133:1 "How good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity.”
I was glad he used the translation that says, “God’s people” instead of “brethren” for that would’ve set off a firestorm of its own.
Then, The President said it was time to remember what soldiers will never forget, “we all bleed the same red blood” and all of us share the same night sky and are "infused with the breath of life by the same almighty Creator"
It gave me pause.
I remembered my new found friend, how the best communication I’d had all day was with her who was deaf and mute. I only half listened to everyone else, but with her, of necessity, I paid attention.
Perhaps, if all the world were deaf and mute, we’d pay attention more and communicate better.   
I looked at the man who moments before had irritated me so, and paid attention, put myself in his shoes.
I thought of how he had a job to do, and he was doing it well. He had an agenda to follow and a responsibility to keep the event rolling, to entertain folks—be the game show host.
To his credit he said he had waited until “after the speech” referring to The Oath, but at that very moment, he was interrupting the Inaugural Address of the President…must not have been paying attention.
Nevertheless, in that moment of shoe swapping, of paying attention, my disgust lifted and peace settled.
I nodded back and returned the smile.
And just like that, all the folks around me talking and laughing and shuffling about were no longer noisy distractions, with irritating differences, but intriguingly unique, brothers and sisters infused with the breath of life by the same almighty Creator.  

Thursday, January 19, 2017

If Creation were a symphony, you would be the crescendo

And God said, Let us make man in our image… 
This is at a climactic point in the creation week, the crescendo. If this were a symphony, the Conductor would have both hands raised high, after swinging them wildly for six refrains.
It started In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…and, were it a symphony, a drum solo would roll, loud and strong and slow…and then it would lead an orchestra including the heavens and the earth in perfect harmony…
But then, the raspy beat of a snare drum would sound; lucifer—thinking he should be heard above all the others—would pound, proud and hard, until a third of the angels would march to the beat of his drum…
Then all goes black.  
And the earth is without form and void, and the only sound is that of a snake slithering through the black waters of the deep.
But God shows up, and moves upon the face of the waters.
And speaks up
And just to be sure we never forget, and always find hope, no matter how dark a world we find ourselves in, His first words ever recorded for us to hear are “Let there be light.” Those words echo through the ages to this very day, separating light from dark.  …I AM the light of the world (John 8:12)…and the Light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it (John 1:5)…so, let your light so shine (Mt. 5:16)

And there was light and it was good…and it still is. 

And then, for the next six days He worked. As a Master Builder, forming and shaping, building and making; line upon line, precept upon precept. The light, the sky, the sea, the land…

The more He goes, the louder it grows.

Light appears, the sky is blowing and waves are rolling

The grass and plants and trees rustle and sway in the breeze

Then fish are jumping, dolphins are laughing, whales are rolling, birds are singing, eagles are soaring

Soon lions are roaring, horse’s hooves are drumming, moneys are dancing and elephants are trumpeting…all creation declaring His glory.

That’s good, that’s good, that’s good, He says…

But then, all creation falls silent, when the words that change the world, fall from His lips…

Let Us make man in Our image.

And isn’t the way Pure Love goes?

Prepare a house, a home, build a nursery, a garden, a cradle, a manger, an Eden…and then step back, look at one another and say…

Let’s, make a child…he will have your eyes…and he’ll have your smile…

But why would He do such a thing?

Yet, even still,
He Who spoke into the darkness “Let there be light,”
pierced the darkness of a virgin’s womb,
as the Light of the world.
He wasn’t satisfied to set things in motion and watch from afar…No. He stepped up and in, as if to say, “Let Me show you how it’s done”
It started when He said, “Let us make man in Our image” and ended the day He said, “It is finished” …and the veil in the temple was ripped in twain, the letter of divorce was torn asunder, the guilty verdict was pardoned and the death penalty was paid. The dividing wall shattered. The door swung open and the wedding bells rang for whosoever will, be a bride to the Prince, and a child of the King.
 My favorite line in my ancestral tree is the very top one, it’s awesome, and it’s actually recorded in the Bible in Luke 3:38  “…and Adam was the son of God.”
It’s not only the best line in my tree…but yours too. We all have that same line.

In the image of God created He him, male and female created He them.

That is the personification of creative and poetic, perfection.

 We are all created in the image of Him who is perfect without spot or blemish or weakness or bad habit, but eternally perfectly beautifully good. That is Who we’re created after, that is Who is at the top of our family tree.

 When you look in the mirror, do you see the Family resemblance? Do you see His spark of unapproachable everlasting light shining through your eyes, sparking from your smile? Do you feel His DNA surging through your veins?

Or, do you see the graying, aging, sinking, sagging, weary, blemished, bruised and broken?

If the answer is the latter, don’t feel bad, that can change in the time it takes to make a decision.

(2 Cor. 3:17-18)…where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass (mirror)  the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

That’s what we’ve been talking about in our little Whispering Pines Village Bible study. If you're in the neighborhood, we'll save you a seat.