Wednesday, December 30, 2009

MEDITATION?


Wanda and I are enjoying our visit to Puerto Rico to see Jennifer and family. We have had a ball playing with the kiddies and seeing the sights and sounds of this beautiful island playground. We have gone to Old San Juan at night to see the lights as well as visited the rain forrest, El Yunque.

We packed a picnic and enjoyed the water falls and hiked .7 of a mile up and down the narrow trails to a beautiful water fall.

Along the way we passed three ladies who were sitting on rocks in a flowing stream as still as still could be. Claudia wanted to know if they were statues or not. We told her that they weren't, but the ladies never moved.


I guess they were praying or meditating. Mediation is good as long as we are meditating on the Lord or good thoughts. I'm not sure what they were meditating on or if they were praying or what. The sounds of the flowing stream were soothing so I am sure they felt relaxed and at ease when they left.

El Yunque gets 10 ft. of rain each year.
Imagine.
10 ft of rain!
Wow!

No wonder it is called a rain forrest and everything is lush and green. I slipped and fell while going down a steep trail and landed on my behind shall I say? Nothing hurt, but a little pride. As we returned back and I was approaching the spot where I fell, I watched a guy coming down and he fell right there too. It was much more funny to watch him than experience the personal pain of my fall. Well, my pride is ok and so is my behind.





Claudia and Lorenzo and such loving children. They have taken to their new NanaWanda, as they call her. Their loving hugs and kisses are going to make it very hard to return home.

Monday, December 28, 2009

IS TIME RUNNING OUT?

In just a few days 2009 will be over and a new year will ring in. Another whole year of 365 days will have passed and new pages of days will appear. When I get to the end of the year, sometimes it makes me feel like time is running out. It makes me feel like the time of my life is quickly pouring through the hour glass and coming to those last moments.

We do know that life is like a vapor. It passes quickly. Another year is quickly passing and all of its opportunities are passing too.

What did you plan on doing in 2009 that you haven't accomplished?

What are the goals of this year that have long been completed?

Here is the really good news I have for you today. Even when 2009 is over, and then 2010 passes, and the next year and the next year, and on and on, you are going to live on. Life doesn't end here in this world. Even if you should leave this world before 2009 ends, you will live on and on and on and on.

This life is just the staging place for another life that will be lived forever and forever. I have reached and even passed mid-point in my life, but in actuality I am just getting started. It is vital that we make this part of our lives in this world count for it is the preparation time for the rest of our lives.

So, is time running out?

No, just time in this world. Hey, another world is awaiting. I will spend my time here getting ready for a better world and a better life.

Eternity is going to be amazing.

Friday, December 25, 2009

FROM OUR HOME TO YOURS




May the Joy and Peace of Christmas
fill your hearts and homes.

From our hearts and home to yours,

MERRY CHRISTMAS and a HAPPY NEW YEAR.



Wednesday, December 23, 2009

ANONYMOUS GIFTS

What did you buy for Christmas?

Have you done all your shopping for Christmas?

It is fun to give and it is fun to receive. I'll admit it. I love to give, but I still have enough kid in my to yet like to receive. Wanda has had a ball shopping and figuring out what to give to each family member. Christmas gifts brighten the Christmas tree and lighten small eyes.

Monday afternoon I checked our mail and there was a nice anonymous gift in our mail. It was in a beautiful and thoughtful card and was a thoughtful gesture to Wanda and me.

I don't know who it came from, but I pray that God will bless them for their kindness. Others have given nice gifts to us and we are grateful for all the many kindnesses.

It just touched me that someone wanted to bless us in a special and unusual way and they wanted to be anonymous.

God is good.

Monday, December 21, 2009

CHRISTMAS IS COMING SOON!



Saturday, Wanda's son and family arrived to celebrate an early Christmas with us. Wanda cooked a delicious dinner fit for kings and we all enjoyed a great time together.

All four of our children had trouble coming here at the same time so we're actually having four different Christmas's this year. That is a lot of fun, food, and presents.

Actually we are going down to San Juan to see Jennifer after Christmas but all the other children and grands are coming here at different times.


After dinner, we headed down the street to jump a hayride provided free by our neighborhood association. They had two wagons and huge horses and lots of hay with cookies and hot chocolate.


We waited a few minutes for our turn at riding and then sang Christmas carols and looked at the beautiful lights as the horse drawn wagon filled with hay took us through our neighborhood decorated with Christmas lights.


While riding one of the other riders asked my which house was my house just as we were passing right in front of our house. It was perfect timing as I pointed and said, "Right there."
It was kinda funny and neat the way that happened.

Christmas is just days away, but we have been enjoying the season all through December. It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas everywhere we go.

Mark and Tara and their beautiful kids, Cole and Paige, had a super time with it all. The kiddies really liked opening presents early at Nana and Papa's house.

Oh my! What fun!

Friday, December 18, 2009

ENJOY THE LIGHTS



I love lights. How many lights brighten our house and yard this Christmas?

Maybe 4,000 or so and I wish we could have more. The circuit breakers wouldn't hold much more with all the other appliances and stuff so I guess we're about at our limit.

Wanda had a ball decorating inside and I worked on the outside. She decorated our table beautifully for our recent church staff/deacon/minister dinner.





Here are a few pictures. People ride through our neighborhood all during Christmas enjoying the bright lights. Some families really go all out with lights, decorations, and music. It is truly a wonderful time of the year.





















Wednesday, December 16, 2009

GOD'S GIFT TO ME

Boy, I am tired.

But it is a good tired from sharing fellowship with some of the most wonderful people in the world. Wanda and I had our staff, deacons, and ordained ministers who attend our church in our home for a Christmas dinner and fun evening Tuesday evening.

We had 28 or 30 or so in our home and Wanda was the most wonderful hostess. The house looked like Christmas, and everything was just perfect. I was so proud of how she served everyone and made the evening special.

I think I got a couple of extra dings!!!!....from Wanda for helping a little to put it together. She did most of the work, but I helped peal some potatoes, put decorations where she wanted them, washed lots of pots, dishes, glasses, and other things, and then helped put the house back together. The dinner was super delicious as my secretary, Lorraine, cooked the meat and everyone brought a dish. Wow! It was incredible. What a feast!

This was our first major entertainment event in our home since we married, and I could not have been any more pleased with how Wanda made it happen.

Wanda is God's gift to me.

Monday, December 14, 2009

THERE IS A LIGHT!




Darkness cannot glow or shine or sparkle.

Darkness is more than blinding. It limits.

But light is glorious!

Jesus said, "I am the light of the world." He shines the glory and goodness of God so that no one can question God's amazing love. "God so loved the world that He gave His only son...."

I guess that is why I love the lights of Christmas. Light lets the glory and goodness of God shine. The lights of Christmas remind us of the joy and peace that He brings into our lives.


Late Friday afternoon, Wanda and I rode to St. Augustine with our friends Don and Sandra to enjoy a delicious meal at the Columbia Restaurant and ride the tram to see the Christmas lights. The meal was scrumptious and the moonlight ride was inspiring.






They provide 3D glasses on the tram ride which causes all the lights to expand and make an even more spectacular glow. The lights are all enlarged to look light giant stars.

Just beautiful!

And you get a free cup of cider and a cookie at the end of the ride.

We have lights in the house and outside the house. I'll show pictures of the outside decorations on a later blog. Oh my, wonder what the electric bill will be? Don said he thought we had an airport outside with the runway lights on.

Take in the Season.

Enjoy!

Celebrate Jesus.

He is the One True Light of the World!

Click on the video below and watch 34 seconds of fun.


Friday, December 11, 2009

WHAT'S THE PLAN?

Have you made all your plans for Christmas family gatherings?

Well, time is running out. It takes a lot to get it all together especially if you have a large family and children and siblings are all scattered in different cities and states. My heart goes out to those who do not have family or their family or children do not make effort to get together. Christmas is a season to celebrate and give gifts and hug and eat and watch football. Yea!!

Some people in churches that I have served have mentioned hurts to me because their grown children made no time for them. Or maybe their children would only see the other spouses' family. They felt alone, left out, and not loved. How sad.

I have always tried to make sure that we would share family time and not leave anyone out. My parents have been so gracious to tell their children to come when we can. In fact, this year my mother told me to let Wanda decide what to do about family. That was very kind and thoughtful of Mom to offer that.

Wanda and I have been working on our plans and think we've made a schedule that will work. There are still a couple of bugs to work out but we're almost there. What about your family, parents, or grown children? Have you made a plan? Time is running out so you better get the calender and write the dates down.

Isn't Christmas fun.

I can't wait to see the grands, and children and loved ones.

It is the most wonderful time of the year.

Oh, maybe you might like to add a stranger in the mix to include in the Christmas planning or at least someone who might not otherwise be able to be with loved ones. Christmas is also a tough time for many who don't have loved ones to share Christmas.

Joy to the world.

The Lord is come!

It's beginning to look and feel like Christmas.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

JUST NO

Does God answer every prayer of the righteous?

Here is one more thought on Tim Tebow.

Before the beginning of the second half of the SEC Football Championship Game between Florida and Alabama last Saturday, the TV camera showed Tim apparently in deep prayer. I can only imagine what he was praying. Certainly he wanted to win the game as was obvious by the tears he shed as the seconds ticked down on the clock with Florida losing. They lost and I wonder if Tim's prayers were unanswered.

So what was Tim praying and did God fail him or not answer his prayers? Again, I can only suspect what his prayers were, but I would imagine he prayed that he would play his best and ask for help. Maybe he did pray to win. I wouldn't blame him whatever he prayed.

But sometimes God just says no. Some prayers are best answered with a no even if we have other ideas and want what we want. Obviously we do not know what is best.

Has God said no to a recent prayer of yours? Maybe His answer was to wait. Maybe the answer was totally different from you request and expectations. However God chooses to answer is best. We just must simply trust Him.

Sometimes the answer is JUST NO.

Monday, December 7, 2009

TEBOW'S TEARS

He knelt at the end of the game with tears streaming down his face. You could see passion, agony, hurt, and loss.

Were his tears for an opportunity forever lost?

tebowdown_93458c.jpg


Tim Tebow, the great Florida Gator quarterback, was losing a tough fought game with my beloved Alabama Crimson Tide for the SEC Football Championship. His loss ended a dream and a chance for unusual greatness. It was tough, simply put. There would never be another opportunity to win a SEC or National Championship. For Tebow, those doors to greatness are gone. That is part of why tears slid down his cheeks.

But what opportunities are forever lost in our lives? Are we losing great moments of significant opportunity yet today? Could there be something far greater in our lives than a football championship game that we are missing?

What about moments missed with small children that will never be recovered? What about moments when God nudges us to help someone in need and we fail to respond? What about refusing to offer our best talents or encouragment or gift or monetary help and we miss the moment? What about a prayer not prayed. What about a small act of kindness to a mate or loved one that has slipped away?

Tebow wept over a forever lost opportunity yet I feel there are far more important moments that we miss. Maybe we should look again lest we weep too.

Or do we care as much as Tebow cares about football?

Friday, December 4, 2009

READY TO RUMBLE

Saturday the long awaited football game deciding the SEC Football Championship between Florida and Alabama will be played. Last year Florida won it over Alabama and a rematch is scheduled after both teams have now completed perfect regular seasons. The stakes are high for both as the winner will get a chance to play for the National Championship.


unknown.jpg



I have been a Alabama football fan ever since I was a small boy watching The Bear Bryant TV Show each Sunday afternoon during football season before heading to church. Mom would always bake a pound cake on Sunday afternoon and it would come out of the oven just in time to eat a piece while the "Bear" talked about the previous Saturday's game and how they had won. They always won and he always played down his part unless they lost which was rare. Then he always took the blame.

Even though I have lived in Florida for almost thirty years, I still root for Alabama. I do like Tim Tebow and I wish him the best, but not this Saturday. The game should be a thriller and either team could win.

If there was some way Tim Tebow could have a great game and still lose, I would be happy. I would like to see him win the Heisman Trophy, but he would probably have to have a great game and win too for that to happen.

If Alabama should lose again, I will have to face all those proud Gators in my church on Sunday. Guess I better get more prayed up so the sermon won't be affected. Just kidding. My victory in Christ and my thrill at the privilege of preaching the Gospel far exceed any football game.

Roll Tide!!!

Go Bama!!!

Now go get them Gators!!!

Want to listen to some good music? Click here:

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

TITHING WORKS

I believe in tithing or giving 10 % of my income to God and have practiced it from childhood. There are many reasons I know it works which begin with my personal knowledge of God's promise to tithers and how it has impacted my life.

Here is another reason:

Florida State Football Coach Bobby Bowden

bowden.jpg


Yes, you read it correctly. I another reason I believe in tithing is Coach Bobby Bowden.

I also believe in tithing because of Coach Bobby Bowden's testimony. A friend of mine, Pastor Larry Millender from Tallahassee, FL, shared with me that he had Coach Bowden speak at his church a few years back. Larry said that Coach Bowden publicly attributed his success in coaching and life to the fact that he and his wife had practiced tithing from the very beginning of their marriage. Bowden said tithing is the secret to what he had been able to do. Bowden believes that tithing is an open door to the blessings of God.

Coach Bowden announced on Tuesday that he is retiring from coaching the FSU football team after their upcoming bowl game. He has had one of the most stellar coaching careers ever in the history of college football ranking as the second all time winningest coach. That is a remarkable feat.

And he attributes his success to tithing.

Tithing works!

Try it.

Monday, November 30, 2009

HEBREWS 12:1-2

Saturday, Wanda and I watched the big interstate rivalry football game between the Florida Gators and the Florida State Seminoles. Tim Tebow and the Florida Gators put on quite a show against Florida State and it really wasn't much of a game as they beat up on the Noles pretty bad.

tim-tebow-john316.jpg

Tebow has a tradition of putting Scripture verses under his eyes which is a big witness to all the fans in the stadium and millions watching on TV. He actually doesn't put the whole verse, just the text location. This past Saturday Tim put the following verses location:

Hebrews 12

The Race of Faith
1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

The TV announcer actually read these verses during the game. It is impressive the humble witness that Tim Tebow has shared during his career. I am definitely not a Gator fan and definitely will be rooting for Alabama this coming Saturday as Florida and Alabama play for the SEC Championship and the right to go on to play for the National Championship, but I do salute Tim Tebow for his boldness for God. He is a super player with an even more super witness.

Wanda is an avid Seminole fan and was disappointed in her team, but as they say, just wait 'til next year. Tebow will not be playing for the Gators so maybe the Noles can win one for Coach Bobby Bowden.


Friday, November 27, 2009

AMAZING 65 YEARS OF MARRIAGE


Thanksgiving had double meaning for us this year. All of my siblings met at my middle sister's home (Tricia and Rick) in Leesburg to celebrate Mom and Dad's 65th Wedding Anniversary. It was a wonderfully fitting day, Thanksgiving Day, to honor Mom and Dad. All their kids were present and we each gave them a card with a $65 gift card to their favorite restaurants. It was a special day of thanksgiving.

We ate a fabulous Thanksgiving Dinner and shared wonderful memories our family with each child telling their stories of Mom and Dad. Some of the stories were funny, some were touching and tearful, and all of them were in loving remembrance of Mom and Dad's love for God and their family.

Julie and Jennifer, my daughters, asked our family to pause and honor Kristy and Jim, Wanda's first husband. They are greatly missed by all of our families. I was touched by the kindness of my family in honoring and remembering them. Julie and Alex and Nic were present but Jennifer and her family were not able to come up from Puerto Rico. We missed them greatly and look forward to seeing them at Christmas. We will see all of Wanda's family on Friday and Saturday in Tallahassee.

Tricia and Rick were great hosts and she took the lead in putting together an incredible feast. They have a beautiful home on five acres in the country. They are right in the middle of horse country in Central Florida and she actually has a couple of horses she rides. The grands enjoyed riding her pony, shooting bows and arrows, and shooting the pellet and BB rifles.




There are not many families that enjoy celebrating their parents 65th Wedding Anniversary as we did on Thanksgiving. Not many parents live as long as Mom and Dad have and not many are as committed to their wedding vows as they are. We are blessed to have them with us. It wasn't but a few years back that we weren't sure Mom would make it. God raised her up and she is enjoying good health.

Dad shared briefly their story of their first love. Here is part of it. You might be surprised at some of his story as he is a preacher, but I guess even preachers are human.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

THANK YOU!

Everyone is getting ready for Thanksgiving and the opportunity of enjoying family, friends, and good food and football. Well, maybe not everyone is into football, but I do hope you are looking forward to some family time and good eating. It is a time of giving thanks and expressing gratitude for life's blessings, unless you are a turkey. Now, I hope you are not a turkey.

I have so much for which I can express thankfulness.

First, I am thankful to God for my salvation and every blessing of life. God has been good to me.

Second, to my precious wife. Wanda is a gift from God to me. I literally believe that our marriage was pre-arranged in heaven. It is such an unusual and amazing story. She adds so much to my life and is a gift--a rare gift from God.

Third, my precious children and grandchildren. Julie, Jennifer and Javier, and my step-children Mark and Tara and Jennifer and Paul, have all blessed me beyond measure. They are such a joy in life and their kids, my grandkids, are pure sugar and sweetness, especially the two little girls. Guys are too manly to be too sweet.

Fourth, my dear family. On Thanksgiving Day, we will celebrate Mom and Dad's 65 wedding anniversary. They are still helping their first born, me, through encouragement, love, and prayers. All my siblings and Wanda's siblings are such a load of fun. And Wanda's mother is a very special lady. Wow, I am blessed.

Fifth, my dear church family at Southside Assembly here in Jacksonville. They are a wonderful, loving, caring church family. I love to preach God's Word and lovingly lead them.

Sixth, my dear friends, who are too many to list. I cannot begin to tell you the untold acts of kindness my friends have shown me these recent months. Good friend are rare gifts.

Seventh, I am thankful for the privilege of doing the work of the ministry. It truly is the highest calling. Thank you Lord for calling me to preach your wonderful Word.

I am thankful for good health, a nice home, good food, a warm bed, clean clothes, cars and a motorcycle.

I am thankful to live in America. I am grateful for our freedoms to worship as we please and live a good and honorable life with peace and without fear.

I am thankful for all of God's blessings on me. Thank you Jesus for your great love.

Monday, November 23, 2009

TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME



Take me out to the ballgame, a football game that is.

It is OK to be a ball enthusiast if it is not at the top of the list of priorities. I enjoy sports, but seldom get to go in person to watch a football game. Sunday one of my good church members invited me to a Jaguar football game and we won!!!! I made it to the game after our morning worship service and was back at church for a worship and praise gathering at 6 PM. It is just minutes from our church to the stadium so I was sitting in the stands listening to the National Anthem and watching the kickoff at 1 PM.

The score was 18-15 Jags against the Buffalo Bills. The game was close and we were behind 10-15 with just four minutes or so to go in the game. It looked like the Bills would upset us, but our defense held and the offense drove down the field and scored.



One highlight of the game was Terrell Owens of the Bills catching a 98 yard touchdown against us. That was almost the winning score. It wasn't pretty for the Jags but a very spectacular play for the Bills. It was the longest touchdown pass I had ever seen and was the longest one ever against the Jags.



Another highlight was the military parachutists who landed on the football field during halftime. Several of them jumped from their plane and glided onto the field to the applause of the fans. It was exciting.

Here is a video of their landing. Enjoy.


Friday, November 20, 2009

A NEW WONDER DRUG?

You just got to read this article.

Now understand, this is for married couples and is with a christian view. Mark Gungor wrote this on his web page and I just thought someone might miss reading it. So I am sharing it here.

God is incredibly wise with His creation. His plan works and always works for our good when we follow His rules. Need better health? If you're married read this with thanks.

Wonder Drug
by Mark Gungor on November 17th,
29Share

What if I were to tell you there was a pill you could take three times a week that would give you the following health benefits:

  • Lower your risk of heart attack and stroke
  • Reduce symptoms of depression
  • Reduce risk of certain types of cancers
  • Boost self-esteem and improve your mental health
  • Reduce and relieve stress
  • Help you sleep better
  • Control your weight
  • Increase your physical fitness
  • Relieve pain
  • Reduce the number of colds and flu
  • Boost your immune system
  • Improve bladder function
  • Make you look younger
  • Improve your reproductive health
  • Prolong your life

And on top of these incredible benefits, this pill has no side effects, is completely safe, and it’s free! What would most people say? “Man, give me some of that!” Everyone would be in line trying to get the Wonder Drug. Point of fact, there is such a thing: it’s called sex. Studies have shown that sex has amazing health benefits. But let me point out that it’s not just any old sex—these studies show that the benefits do not come with the hot and heavy rush of new romance or illicit sex, but rather the sex that is a by product of a calm, stable, committed marriage. It’s not just sex. It’s long-term, married sex that is the Wonder Drug.

Want to read more? Then finish the article at:

Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage.com


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

CONGRATULATIONS MOM AND DAD


Yesterday, Nov. 17, was my Mom and Dad's 65th wedding anniversary. That is a lot of living, lovin', and forgiving, and loving some more. Wanda and I have been married a total of 69 years with her first marriage of 32 years and my first marriage of 37 years, but we have only been married to each other for 7 months. It took two marriages for us to beat them. I am thankful and grateful to God and Mom and Dad for them sticking it out all these years.

"Sticking it out" may not be the best way to describing a marriage of longevity. I'm sure that the good times have far outweighed the hard times, but every marriage has things that have to be worked through. The good news is that they have stayed together and that makes even grown "kids" feel good.

Next week my siblings will gather on Thanksgiving Day to celebrate their 65th. I think Thanksgiving Day is a wonderful time to give thanks to Mom and Dad for all they have done for our family. We are going to eat turkey and trimmings and pumpkin pie and pecan pie and Max's dump cake and more. It will be a super celebration--a super Thanksgiving.

Congratulations Mom and Dad. I am proud of you and thankful God gave me as your first born. You have invested into my life beyond what my small vocabulary can express. May God give you many more years together.

Monday, November 16, 2009

JUST FIVE YEARS OLD


Five years old is big, especially if you've just turned five years old. Actually it is big for parents and grandparents as well as step-grandparents. Wanda's granddaughter Paige celebrated her fifth birthday this weekend as her parents gave her a wonderful party. Wanda and I drove down and met other family members to join in the fun.

Kids love opening presents and their friends love to help and play in the paper. Of course grandparents enjoy watching the excitement and fun.

Julie and Alex and Nic came over from Tampa and got in on the fun as the grandkids enjoyed playing with the pumpkins they found in the pumpkin hunt. Not they didn't hunt eggs, just pumpkins. That was a different treat.

I can still remember when I was five -- though just barely. I have memories of being in church in a tent when my Mom and Dad were starting a church in North Alabama. We met in a tent
a couple of winters. Brrrr....it was cold. I remember Mom accidently starting a brush fire out in the country where we lived when they started that church. It almost caught the house on fire. Oh, and I remember when the tent almost caught on fire from smug pots that were used to heat the tent during winter. I remember most of all finding Christ as my Savior not long after I had turned five.

Five is a special time just before 1st grade. Life changes then. Happy Birthday Paige. You are a beautiful little princess.

Friday, November 13, 2009

FREEDOM EMANATES FROM TRUTH

Freedom is what makes America great.

Ultimately, all freedom come from God. How sad that some misconstrue the truth of God's Word as a binding force. Without truth there can be no real freedom. Without God and His Word, there is no real truth. Isn't it sad but yet interesting that the most depressed and impoverished nations of the world are nations that do not honor God? God and the freedom that flows from His righteousness and truth are a blessing.

Truth sets people free. Now, we are living in an age where truth is being exchanged for a lie. Lies always lead to bondage, corruption, and death.

Want some examples?

What about David Letterman? He laughed about moral people until he was found to have been living immoral and had to apologize to his wife, family, other employees, as well as his audience. The lies he had winked at and mocked have now shamed him.

What about the numerous national government leaders who have resigned in shame due to immoral actions. The world laughs and mocks morality until the ugly truth is found out that a lack of virtue is a shame and a reproach and leads to bondage.

When I was a teenager working my way through college, I worked a construction job one summer. I was a christian and let my light shine. I wasn't afraid to share God's love and stand up for my convictions.

Every Friday the boss would joke and kid me about going to party with the gang. "Let's go get some beer and women and let's have some fun," he would poke at me. Of course, I wouldn't go and they would rag me even more.

Until one Friday I told I would go with them. They just about fell off the roof where we were working in amazement. "You're going to party with us," the boss asked?

"Yes," I responded, "But with one condition. I get to party and have your teenage daughter for the night."

Well, that ended the kidding and poking fun at me. They never brought that subject up to me again. The boss didn't want his daughter hurt, or taken advantage of, or to become pregnant. The truth of immoral consequences hit him right between the eyes.

The lies are in our Nation are many and cover sexual, economic, and governmental immoralities. Of course the ultimate source of all these lies is Satan, the father of lies.

I am praying that God will show mercy to our Nation and that the truth of God's Word and His righteousness will shine bright again. I am praying that the foolishness of sinful choices will hit Congressional leaders right between the eyes and the that truth of immoral consequences will be exposed for the lie and shame they are. I am praying that righteousness and truth will cover our Nation again.

So sadly our President has declared that America is not a Christian Nation. How shameful that such a stance would be taken. Can't our leaders see that God has blessed America as we have stood upon judeo christian ethics and principles.? Can't they see that blessings come from following and applying truth in our lives? Can't they see that shame is the result of veering from truth found in God's Word?

Oh God, please have mercy on America . Reveal truth in the high and low places. Let truth reign again so America can be free.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

101 THINGS TO DO

I am reading a book entitled 101 Things You Should Do Before Going to Heaven. This book caught my attention while browsing in the library's new book section. Heaven is my goal and sooner or later I plan on walking on streets of gold. Until then, there are still some things I want to do.

I am saved and in the process of being sanctified and the top three things I want to do are to glorify God with my life, bless my family, and finish my life strong.

But scanning this book pushed my to see if my "to do" list before going to heaven should be expanded. As I ran down the list, many of the things the book suggests I have done, but there are some that I would like to do that the book suggests that haven't been checked off.

The first thing on their list is "to risk looking stupid." Well, I know. You think I have already covered that one. The last thing on their list is to do "what's last on your list." I guess that means that after you have checked everything on the list but one, then you do it.

Here are a few other of their suggestions in the order they listed:

5. Clean Someone Else's Toilet.
12. Record Your Life Story.
32. Become an Undercover Encourager.
33. Let Go of The Grudge.
53. Explore Your Family Tree.
60. Walk in the Redwoods.
69. Visit a Former Battlefield.
83. Weep with Those Who Weep.
88. Travel Outside of Your Comfort Zone.
90. Greet the Dawn.
95. Shun Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.
96. Find Beauty in Broken Things.

Each point is followed by a brief devotional and encouragement. They all actually make sense once you've read their comments which follow. If you don't like this list, why not make you own list. You are going to heaven aren't you? Get your ticket now. The train is about to load and you may be boarding sooner than you think. So hurry up and get with the list. Time is wasting.

Monday, November 9, 2009

A BETTER MARRIAGE

Generally speaking, what you work on in life is what works. Diligence is a good word and makes all things better. That carries over in marriage too.

This weekend we had a marriage video seminar with Mark Gungor and enjoyed his teaching on Laughing Your Way to a Better Marriage. Mark has fabulous and enlightening teaching on how men and woman differ especially in their thinking processes. He is a hoot!

He also does a fabulous job sharing the Biblical view of sexual relations in marriage. The world offers the most foolish approach to sex, but the Bible is the highest truth on any subject including marriage relations.

Check Mark Gungor out. Google his name. You won't be disappointed.

Friday, November 6, 2009

FOUR GREAT QUOTES



I enjoy great quotes.

I have numerous books with nothing but quotes and find myself reading quotes that are highlighted in magazines. What is your favorite quote? Which quote has impacted your life the most?

My favorite quotes actually come from my father, Oscar Dykes. He says some funny but pointed stuff. This is what he often told me as I grew up.

"Keep you nose clean, even if it takes both shirtsleeves."

"Every tub has to sit on its own bottom."

"Don't try to figure her out, just love her."

"Every dog has its day."

Now, I am sure that those quotes cover much of what is important in life. They have helped me stay on the right course, and get back on course when I missed a turn.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

LAURA BUSH IS GREAT!

Monday I attended an all day motivational at the Jacksonville Municipal auditorium with speakers former First Lady Laura Bush, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Zig Zigler, Terry Bradshaw, Gen. Colin Powell, and others. It was an inspiring day and I left motivated and encouraged.


To me, Laura Bush was the most moving speaker of the day. She was gracious, poised, transparent, and inspiring. It is amazing the incredible things her family has accomplished and how they have stood with such integrity in spite of harsh criticism and even personal attacks. I could not have been prouder of her as a former First Lady at the manner she presented herself. She was such a "first class act."

What did I learn at the seminar?

I learned that the past is the past. Go forward in life.

I learned that smiling is better than frowning.

I learned that working smarter is better than just working hard.

I learned that "not so smart" people can succeed.

I learned that diligence is important.

I learned that gifts can be developed.

I learned that being prepared helps you for things that you might not anticipate.

I learned that family counts most, after God.

I learned that no one makes it alone.

I learned that a winning belief system is the assurance of things not seen. (The Bible calls that faith.)

I learned that some people are internally motivated and some are externally motivated. (I haven't learned just which category I fit.)

I learned that I have a lot to be thankful for.

I learned that famous people face the same issues that the rest of us face.



Monday, November 2, 2009

DON'T STEP ON THE GRENADE

Can you imagine what stepping on a grenade could do to you? How would that happen anyhow?
I did not serve in the military and never been to war. However, in today's up front and personal news reporting, we see all to regularly the affects of war.

This past week, Wanda's brother, Jerry Davis, stumbled upon a grenade while on a construction work site. He is a contractor and all of a sudden there was a grenade. It made the news in Tallahassee, FL., where he works. Thankfully no one was hurt.

You can read the news report at the following sight.


What is the take-a-way from this story? Well, there are many are others types of potential "life grenades" that can wound us if we're not alert. Bitterness, jealousy, hatred, fears, anxiety, and all other manner of internal issues can hurt us. Poor choices can damage us and cause life-long problems.

No, I don't expect to find a real live grenade, and, if I do, I hope I'm alert as Jerry was. I am sure other types of grenades are lurking in the shadows. It is up to me to disarm them before they can do damage.

Friday, October 30, 2009

A PLACE CALLED FAILURE

When I was a teenager, we had a Bible quiz team in my home church that entered our state denomination's quiz competitions, and we lost the final championship game on the last question. I failed to give the correct answer on the final question, and the other team won. I felt like a failure, defeated, and depressed.

But failure isn't final. We were being quizzed on the Book of Mark. and I had learned Mark from front to back. It was my first earnest study of God's Word. We lost the quiz championship, but I won in a far bigger sense. It was the beginning of a much deeper and fuller study of God's Word that has been life-long habit.

I love this quote: "Victory isn't final. failure isn't fatal. What counts is the courage to continue on." I don't know where I heard this quote or the source, but it has real truth.

Bill Walsh, the late great college and NFL football coach, wrote in his book The Score Takes Care of Itself, "I would never write anything that suggests the path to success is a continuum of positive, even euphoric experiences--that if you do the right things everything will work out. Frequently it doesn't; often you crash and burn. This is part and parcel of pursuing and achieving very ambitious goals.........Almost always, your road to victory goes through a place called 'failure'."

Bill Walsh probably would not be allowed to struggle threw failure in the NFL today as his first two seasons were terrible seasons. His teams only won a hand full of games those first two years. Yet, he failed his way into leading his team into one of the great football dynasties which led to 5 Super Bowl wins.

Many greats from the Bible miserably failed and rose up from failure to achieve greatness for God.

Moses failed and fled only to finally lead the children of Israel from Egypt.

Joseph failed and angered his brothers but yet was used to blessed them and provide for them.

David failed and sinned and found grace.

Simeon Peter failed and cursed our Lord but became empowered to help build the Church.

All of our roads go through the valley of failure sooner or later. That is where God takes our brokenness and turns our sorrow into joy. He is a big God and works for those who have courage to continue on and to trust Him.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

WHAT ARE YOU READING?

I love to read.

My reading appetite is varied and begins with the Bible, devotional books, ministry resources, marital information, sports, motorcycle riding, and other topics found in books, magazines, blogs, Internet resources, using my personal library and city library and various others sources. I love to read the newspaper though I have left it off my reading list for a number of months. Now I look more to Internet to occasionally read the local paper and various other news sources.

Reading is more than a hobby to me. It is a source of insight, knowledge, growth, and blessing. It opens the world to me both in a spiritual sense and in a practical everyday manner. It is a quick way to glean from the knowledge of others and most of all from God and His Word.

What am I reading beyond the Bible and sermon resource books?

My current reading list includes:

You Were Born for This by Bruce Wilkinson
Devotions for Couples by Patrick Morley
Branding Yourself by Sherry Beck Paprocki and Ray Paprocki
The Score Takes Care of Itself by Bill Walsh
Organizing Your Day by Sandra Felton and Marsha Sims
Motorcycling Excellence by The Motorcycle Safety Foundation
Proficient Motorcycling by David L. Hough

I loved to read National Geographic and Reader's Digest and sports magazines and Southern Living and Traditional Home and motorcycle magazines. Whew, that is a lot of reading with lots of enjoyment.

I enjoy stopping by the local library once a week or so to browse for a while and read magazines and check out the new book shelf. It saves lots of money to use the library and not spend so much on purchasing books that once read will sit on the shelf.

There are many favorite books that I enjoy and I love biographies of great historical figures. Fiction is not at the top of my list but there are some great stories that inspire and add to life. Oh, I also enjoy good joke books. I have a large stack of them with thousands of jokes and humorous stories to find a great laugh. Reading is a wonderful way to open the world right into your family room and broaden one's view.

Now, which book shall I go read now?

Monday, October 26, 2009

DOES GOD WATCH FOOTBALL?

Is it possible that the Creator of the Universe watches football?

He is a really big God and watches over all of us. His ways and understanding are so far beyond our puny minds to comprehend, and I know that. However, after watching Saturday's football game between Alabama and Tennessee, I just have to believe that He might have attended that game.

He had to be sitting on the Alabama side and helped that huge 6' 5" 365 lb. Alabama defensive lineman Mount Corey block two, yes I said two, field goals to win the game for Alabama. I don't ever remember watching a team block two field goals in one game, but it happened Saturday.

Probably "The Bear" suggested that God send an angel to give that big lineman an extra push. I am sure that is what happened. You know, God does use angels to work miracles.

Lest you think God plays favorites, maybe He will help the Vols next game, but I'm glad He was sitting on the Alabama sidelines this past Saturday.

Oh, maybe He'll attend an FSU game soon to help Brother Bobby over in Tallahassee. He seems to need a little help this year.

Friday, October 23, 2009

STAY AWAKE WHILE DRIVING


I have witnessed numerous car accidents through my many years of driving. For twelve years of my ministry I was in mobile ministries requiring driving all over the South. Once on I-75, I watched a car pass me going over 80 mph and then begin rolling over and over. Twice I saw the undercarriage of the vehicle as the car rolled in front of me.
I thought passengers would come flying out of the car as one of them literally had his legs hanging out the back window. Amazingly, I passed it to its left and watched it roll the third time. No one flew out of the car. It was wild.

Wednesday as we traveled, a car some 50 yards or so in front me flew off the interstate and crashed into a tree right in front of me. The driver had fallen asleep. As I screeched to a halt and ran to car, it was smoking and looked like it would explode into flames. It didn't, but a mother came screaming out of the vehicle saying her baby was in the back seat. We got it out and she had bumps and cuts and they were all in shock.

I prayed over the infant and calmed the mother. It was a scary few moments but thankfully turned out OK. It just shows that accidents can happen in a moment. They were tired and had struggled to stay awake. It almost cost their lives.

I pray often when driving and give thanks to God for a safe return home. Prayer helps on Goldwings too.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

FIVE COUSINS


Family is the best history and family reunions are one great way to keep up to date. All of us, and I mean all, come from the same family tree. There is one initial tree from Adam and Eve, and we all go back to “The Garden”.


But the family has many branches and our family branch on the Dykes' side got together on Tuesday for a family update. It has been three years since I was at the last one and lots of changes have occurred.


It is fun to get the updates on who is where and what everyone is doing. My generation is producing more and more grandkids who are now finding their places as teachers, doctors, business people, and thankfully great Christians of faith. That last part is what matters the most.


I love the picture of five little boy cousins born the same year 60 years ago. Three are preachers. One is a businessman and one is a teacher. Can you tell which one is me? Look close. I am the last one on the far right.


We took the current picture of the five cousins at our reunion with Ky Adams in Newfoundland live on Skype in the picture above the four cousins present. We have all grown up and changed. We were four years old when this picture was taken. Now we’re all sixty. Wow! Where did the time go?


Max and Darlene along with Mom and Dad were present from our immediate family. I enjoyed introducing Wanda to many who had not met her. It was a great time getting updates on family history. What fun!


Only wish more could have come. Some have gone on to heaven and are waiting for us to cross to the other side. Life in this world passes quickly. Make every day count.

Monday, October 19, 2009

FRIED TWINKIES AND CLASSIC CARS







Did you ever have a fried twinkie?

Wanda and I rode our Goldwing to the Callahan County Fair on Saturday morning. You know. County fairs include rides, animals, crafts, cotton candy, candy apples, and this fair had fried twinkies. Now add that to a Philly beef and cheese and you have some mighty caloric eating. Can someone check my cholesterol?


It was fun and we got to enjoy all the sights, sounds, and smells of a county fair. You know, all the pigs, goats, rabbits, chickens, and cows and bulls that fairs offer. I haven't had eaten a twinkie in a long time, but I just couldn't resist a fried one.



After touring the fair, we headed over to Fernandina Beach and enjoyed a classic car show. The
area was blocked off where classic cars lined the streets. Fernandina is a quaint little town with antique shops. It is a ladies kind of place and they added classic cars for the guys. They had some beauties and some very proud owners.


Wanda and I are having a super time exploring Northeast Florida on our Goldwing. What fun!

Friday, October 16, 2009

JUST SOCKS

Wanda and I were having lunch yesterday, and I got a text from Jennifer in Puerto Rico. She said that she was getting a pair of socks out of her sock drawer and found a pair of her mother's socks that Kristy had given her. It was another jolting moment of loss, and Jennifer again asked, "Why?"

I responded, "Trust Jesus. I don't have the answer, but your Mom trusted Him and we will too."

Today is Jim's, Wanda's first husband, birthday. It is still a tender time for her. He was a great man and is missed too.

But we have learned to trust and go forward. God is helping us and our families, but we still have some touching moments.

Sometimes the moment is just socks.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Great Scripture For Today

A verse in Isaiah really caught my attention. It reads:

Isa. 33

6 He will be the sure foundation for your times,
a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge;
the fear of the LORD is the key to this treasure.

Uncertain times make people question, but there is a sure foundation for our times. When the economy, morality, government, and life in general are all being challenged, there is a place of surety that will not fail. That surety is found in the awe, reverence, and respect for the Lord.

Mark this verse, and put it in your heart.

I suspect we will need it more in these uncertain times.

Monday, October 12, 2009

RIDING NORTHEAST FLORIDA

Saturday, Wanda and I rode our Goldwing to Yulee, FL, and participated in a motorcycle ride sponsored by Celebration Assembly of God in Yulee. It is a small church that needs some renovation. There were some 15 motorcycles or so and we enjoyed a 71 mile ride from Yulee up to Kings Ferry, over to Hilliard, and looped around back to Callahan and back to Yulee. We took the back roads and saw lots of sights. God's creation is beautiful!


How many armadillos did I see?

Why did the chicken cross the road?

To show the armadillo how to do it.

Ha!

Well, I saw more and smelled more armadillos than I wanted, but the ride was fun and we had a great time.

Jim and Judy, long distance Goldwing riders, went with us and we had a great time with them. They always have some good pointers for Wanda and me that sharpens our riding abilities.


This was our first group ride, but it went well. You have to space properly and keep good distance between riders while not letting the group get separated. It was fun getting to meet other riders, talk motorcycle talk, share about the Lord, enjoy good food, and help a small church.

Oh, by the way, I won a drawing for a gift certificate at Chili's. That made the day too.

Friday, October 9, 2009

RIDE SAFE

I am enjoying riding my Goldwing immensely. It is a needed outlet that helps refresh my mind and is a hobby of sort. Yet, I know it comes with risk.

To be plainly honest about it, I never, ever, ever expected to ride a motorcycle. The thought of it scared me and I didn't plan on risking my neck to simply get a little "fresh air." But things change, and our attitudes and feelings about things change. So here I am riding a motorcycle in the "big" city. I even scoffed at those I knew who rode, and boy, have I eaten those words. There is a lesson on not ridiculing others in this short story too.

Here is the goal. I ride for enjoyment, within the speed limit, not pushing any threshold of thrill seeking danger, within my skill level, and giving continuous attention to caution. Prudence is the better part of wisdom and that carries over into motorcycling. I know some would say the to be prudent would mean staying off the bike, but that is no fun.

From the first when I purchased my Goldwing, I rode and rode in a church parking lot for several weeks to increase my skill level before I ventured out on the road. Then, I rode in my neighborhood for another period of weeks before getting out on the open rode. Then I took it slow and easy in short runs away from traffic.

Actually, I laid the Goldwing over the first day I rode in the church parking lot. I came to one of those wobbly stops that new motorcyclist do and the weight of it got away from me. It went over on its side, all 800 pounds of it. I almost cried because I thought I had ruined my just purchased Goldwing. I was such a novice that I didn't realize that it had pegs on each side that kept the motorcycle from getting damaged when it lays over. Whew! Was I ever thankful!

Accidents happen in life in many and various forms, but precaution before riding and continuous caution while riding minimizes the possibilities of having an accident. Oh, and lots of prayer helps too.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

BETTER COMMUNICATIONS

Wanda and my daughters gave me headsets for our new helmets for our Goldwing motorcycle. With the headsets, Wanda and I can talk easily while riding without having to holler at each other. Most of the time we cannot communicate at all so Wanda sits on the back praying. At least that is what she said she did.

The three primary problems in marriage boil down to sexual issues, communication issues, and financial issues. After years of counseling, I have come to the conclusion that communication is the biggest problem couples face. There have been times I have rated financial issues as the top issues and at other times I have placed sexual problems as the primary problem.

However, poor communication or no communication complicates sexual or financial problems and now, at least in mind mind, seems to be the biggest dilemma in marriage.

What causes poor communication?

There are many causes but it really boils down to talking and listening. I know that seems to be the obvious, but if no one talks or no one listens then there cannot be communication. Honest, kind, frank, and loving discussions are vital and necessary for good communication. Too many couples assume they are being understood or are understanding. Assumed communications can be dangerous communications.

Talking and listening are the beginning of great communication. Wanda and I now have a clear line of communication on our Goldwing. Thankfully, we have an even better line of communication in life. We have a established clear line where we talk and listen. Sometimes what we hear is not necessarily what is being said. We need to listen and ask questions if we are not sure what is being said. That makes everything go better.