Monday, August 31, 2009

WE ATE AT O'STEEN'S


Saturday morning Wanda and I cruised down to St. Augustine on my Honda Goldwing for a scenic ride. We took A1A from Ponte Vedra Beach south. It is less than an hour ride and you get to see the Atlantic Ocean view.

This was only our second ride with Wanda riding with me, but she is loving it. We are having a blast. Right now it is a little hard to communicate with her sitting on back and both of us wearing helmets, but soon we will have our communication system working and we can talk through a intercom system on the bike.

My Goldwing has cruise control, AM and FM radio, CB radio and a CD system. Wanda sits back in the captain's chair and we cruise down the road. As long as I stay off the interstate, she will ride. 

Have you have eaten the shrimp at O'Steens in St. Augustine? They are delicious-the best I have ever eaten. The place only seats 42 or so and the wait can be an hour to two hours or more, but it is work it. 

We stopped by there for lunch and got in line at 11:15 and within a few minutes we were enjoying their delicious shrimp. My, I can still taste them now! Add squash casserole and sweet potato cassole and that is quite a meal!

Wanda did not want me to take her picture with her helmet hair, but she is a good sport. We're having fun cruising on my Goldwing. God is good.


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Friday, August 28, 2009

THE EXILE OF LUCIFER

Southside Assembly, where I serve as lead pastor,  is presenting the drama "The Exile of Lucifer" beginning tonight through Sunday night in our church sanctuary. Friday and Saturday the drama will be presented at 7 PM and 6 PM on Sunday evening. The plot reveals the prideful as well as deceitful ways Satan works against God and Satan's determined effort to destroy as many people as possible.


Do you believe there is a real Satan?

Do you believe he works to destroy lives?

Do you think he is plotting the world's downfall as you read this blog?

Are we close to the end of time?

Will you go through the tribulation with the Anti-Christ? Is the Anti-Christ alive in the world today?

We do know this: there is a lot of evil in the world and it comes from somewhere. We do know that good is ever challenged by evil. We do know that there is much that happens in the unseen world that cannot be explained.

Why not come out to the drama? You might find answers to some of these questions and even more.


Wanda and I watched the dress rehearsal Thursday evening and it was powerful! It has a pointed, suspenseful message that reveals a personal choice every person on earth will make. Satan made his choice in heaven and was exiled. Now, you and I make our choice which determines our eternal destiny. 

What will your choice be?

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

WHAT IS RIGHT?

Who determines what is right?

Is right, politically right? Is right, socially right? Is right, right for the situation? Is right, an occasional decision? Is right, right; regardless of the person, place, or persuasion?

I wonder just what is right?

What is righteous? 

Is right even relevant?

Job faced life in all of its upheaval, turmoil, and transition, and yet wrote:

Job 4:17

'Can a mortal be more righteous than God? Can a man be more pure than his Maker?

God laws, precepts, and statues are right for He is right. The Palmist wrote:

Ps. 119:

 137 Righteous are you, O LORD, 
       and your laws are right.

 138 The statutes you have laid down are righteous; 
      
they are fully trustworthy.

 139 My zeal wears me out, 
       for my enemies ignore your words.

 140 Your promises have been thoroughly tested, 
       and your servant loves them.

 141 Though I am lowly and despised, 
       I do not forget your precepts.

 142 Your righteousness is everlasting 
       and your law is true.

 143 Trouble and distress have come upon me, 
       but your commands are my delight.

 144 Your statutes are forever right; 
       give me understanding that I may live.


Our world has lost a sense of right. It searches for a value system that allows total freedom with no restriction of pleasure or intrusion into personal will. Their search is folly.

The answer to right is found in Ps 119:144: Your statues are forever right; give me understanding that I may live.

Monday, August 24, 2009

RIDING FLORIDA'S ONLY FERRY



There is only one working ferry in Florida and Wanda and I took it across the St. Johns' River in Mayport, Fl. We were headed on my Goldwing to Fernandina Beach Saturday morning and took the Mayport Ferry rather than the huge bridges to cross the river. 

The St. John's River is the one of only a few rivers in North America to flow south to north. At Mayport, the river is deep enough for large ships to come down the river to the Jacksonville Port. Just south of Jacksonville it is 3 miles wide, but generally it is a typical American river except for running south to north. It is the longest river in Florida and is some 310 miles long.

I had wanted to take the ferry for many years, but just never took the time to ride it. It runs on the half hour across the river and saves lots of time for those in Mayport who are headed to Fernandina or anywhere north from there. It only cost $3 for a motorcycle, and they even let motorcycles move to the front of the line. 

I have ridden ferries on the Outer Banks of North Carolina and in Seattle, Washington. This one took just a few minutes to cross and is quaint and interesting ferry. 

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Doesn't Wanda look cute on the Goldwing? She has been a real trooper riding with me, and actually says she loves riding. She trusts me and prays for our safe traveling. It gives us something to share and enjoy together and we're having a super time. That yellow helmet doesn't match the motorcycle, but we're getting matching new helmets that are on order. The yellow one is a loner.

Friday night we were watching America's funniest videos and the host asked, "How can you tell a man is having a mid-life crisis?"

Wanda and I looked at each other and laughed at the answer.

The host said, "By the motorcycle he is riding!"

Ha!

Well, then he shared a number of motorcycle "funnies" of guys letting motorcycles get away with them. Now that wasn't funny especially now that I am riding!

I have had my first, and hopefully, only motorcycle injury. I pulled a helmet at the bike shop done on my nose and scratched it so bad that it bleed. It looked like Wanda had popped me on the nose! Ha! 


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Friday, August 21, 2009

A NEW LOOK

Changes continue. That is the nature of life. We move forward one way or another. 

I have gotten a new hairdo, a new motorcycle, and new looks in our house.

We repainted the interior of the house, or at least most of it, before Wanda and I were married. We didn't get to redo the office or guests bedrooms so now they are on the agenda.

Our schedules have been very hectic, and it was very difficult to make total changes in the office for me. Wanda has been incredibly amazing in loving me through the grieving process and helping me transition in some of the more difficult areas. The house office was one of them.

This week Wanda has spent hours working in the home office and going through files and boxing up those items that need to be stored. It hasn't been easy for either of us, but without her I don't know how I could have faced it. 

Now we are ready to repaint with new colors and put new decor. It is going to be beautiful, and I will feel better about working there again. Until you have gone through this process, it is impossible to understand how challenging, hurtful, but yet important such changes are. 

We  are moving forward to the new day in our lives. It hasn't always been easy, but it has been for our better. We know God has a perfect plan for our lives and we are moving step by step to complete it.

God is good. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

TIME FOR SCHOOL AGAIN

The kiddies are getting ready to head back to school. Some already have, and most teachers are back in their classrooms. Summer is just about over, and family routines are going to get back into the groove. 

My daughter Julie is getting her classroom ready. Mark, Wanda's son, is returning to the educational system and is well into starting his new school year. Jennifer in Puerto Rico is also working in a kindergarten school setting. 

I don't have kiddies at home, but my mind as been turned toward school as all our kiddies and several of our children are each headed to their own classroom. 

For the first time, little Claudia is sitting at a small desk learning and experiencing school and the classroom setting. Jennifer said she doesn't know how the teacher can keep her seated all day. Teachers have a way with discipline that sometimes parents cannot do. 

I remember my first grade experience and those first years. I was a slow learner and almost drove my mother and all my teachers crazy until I entered the 6th grade. From my seventh grade until I completed my MA, I was a top student with honors most of the way. But, those first years were tough for me as I was the youngest child in my class, and a boy, and a slow learner too. All that added up for trouble until I grew up some.

Anyway, let's pray for our students, teachers, and the school system in general as they begin a new year. Principals and teachers also deserve our support, help, and our prayers.

***

Dear Lord, 

Please be with our students and teachers and principals as a new school year begins. Keep them safe. Help them so that the students will learn and grow in a way that is pleasing to you and will bless them. Watch over them and protect them and give them great year. 

Thank you for hearing my earnest prayer. 

Amen!

Monday, August 17, 2009

DO AGNOSTICS HAVE MORE FAITH?

Life as an agnostic or as a christian takes faith.

How so?

Glad you asked.

For an agnostic, it takes faith to believe creation came from nothing primarily because the laws of science, their god, won't allow it. Nothing can come from nothing according to the laws of science. True science, real science won't allow something to come from nothing. 

So you see, they have to have faith to believe in evolution of something from nothing even though there are no concrete proofs that such an act could ever happen. Agnostics and atheists, in my mind, have unusual faith or ............ irresponsible laws and hypothesis and, or ...........Ah, shall I say stupidity. 

Look at creation today. You will believe.

Look at Israel and ancient prophesy and Israel's very existence, and you will believe.

Look at real, true answers to prayers, and you will believe.

Look at how God takes all things for those who believe and works it together for good, and you will believe.

Look at death and the questions of eternity, and you will want to believe.

Look at the pure, wonderful love of God, and you will believe.

I see real, practical, analytical, even scientific answers to the question of life when I look at God. Oh, it takes some faith, but I believe less faith than agnostics have to have. 

Agnostics have to have more faith than I have to believe all that I see could come from nothing. Wow, they really have to have some big faith.

Yes, I believe there is a God who made the heavens and the earth and all of creation. 

 Ps. 19:1 reads, "The heavens declare the glory of God; 
       the skies proclaim the work of his hands."

He is good!

Friday, August 14, 2009

YOU GOT BRAKES?

Don't ride if you don't have brakes. Brakes on cars, motorcycles, four-wheels, bicycles, and anything moving are vital. Water skiing and snow skiing are made more difficult because the braking systems won't let you stop as quickly as I sometimes need to stop. Have you ever run into someone or something skiing because you didn't know how to brake?

My Honda Goldwing is in the shop for some needed brake repairs. It weighs about 800 pounds and that is a lot of weight for a bike. You just can't put you foot on the ground to stop it. The first time I got on it I felt that was what I needed to do, and that just will not work.

Life needs some brakes too. All of us have times when our internal braking systems aren't working too well. 

Maybe at dinner time? 

Maybe when gossip is flowing?

Maybe when we feel a need to judge someone?

Maybe when eyes look too long at the wrong things?

Maybe when spending habits are out of control?

Maybe when getting an imbalance of time in the wrong areas?

Maybe when the flesh is ruling the spirit?

From my earliest memory, I have felt the gentle but strong voice of the Holy Spirit guiding, directing, encouraging, and yes, braking. Oh, I need His help everyday. The brakes of the Holy Spirit work for our good to keep us from eternal injury and harm.

I am getting my motorcycle brakes repaired, but it has reminded me to make sure my emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual brakes are working good. 

You got brakes?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

TEN AND STILL INNOCENT

Yesterday was Alex, Julie's son, 10th birthday. 

Wow! He can't be ten. It was just yesterday, it seemed, that he was born. That was 10 fast years ago. 

I call him my best pal. Nic is my best buddy. Claudia is my princess. Lorenzo is my best amigo. Now I have to get names for three more grands: Page, Cole, and Alex. I think I am going to rename Cole and Nic to Alex so that when all the grandsons are with us that I only have to call Alex. All of them will come running! I will call Page my best punkin if she likes it.

We took Alex and Nic to Jungle Gym out at Altantic Beach for lunch to celebrate his birthday. Julie had already gotten him a cake last week with his friends in Tampa, but Wanda baked a cake for him and we had a little party at home too. Pastor Mark called Alex up to the front at the Kid's Crusade and sang to him so he really had a great birthday celebration.

Alex has a great heart. He loves the Lord and is lots of fun. He is all boy and active and busy and into everything. That is what little boys do.

Do you remember when you were ten? I was living in Montgomery, Ala., and thought swimming, baseball, fishing, camping, and bike riding was all that mattered in the world. Ten is a special age. Just a couple more years of innocence and then the world gets real, bad, and filled with lots of ugly.

On the way home from church a couple nights back, Alex and Nic noticed a place that had flashing lights with a big sign that read, "Doll House." They wanted to know what the "Doll House" was? I couldn't tell them because I didn't want to hurt their boyhood innocence. They will face that soon enough. 

Actually, a lady in our church who collects dolls stopped by there years ago to see the "dolls" at the doll house. She told me that was she every surprised by the dolls there. I pray for that place often as I pass it for God's mercy and that it will close down.

Ten. Wow! They was a long time ago. Ten is still an innocent age.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

THE FAITH OF CHILDREN

Kid's are great. 

They give life, joy, energy, surprises, and love. This week our church is having a kid's crusade, VBS in some circles. Each night the kids will bring friends, play games, hear Bible stories, and have a great time. It is special.

I accepted Christ into my life at the age of 5-6. I remember it like it was yesterday, and believe me, it wasn't yesterday. My Mom led me in the sinner's prayer and Christ came into my life. It changed my life forever so I know that kids can have a real personal relationship with Christ.

Christ said we would come into the Kingdom only by child-like faith. Christ welcomed children and gave them a place in the Kingdom.


We should should welcome kids too. 

Two of our grands, Alex and Nic, are here for the kid's crusade. They have come up from Tampa a number of times for past crusades. Their papa is proud to have them.

After the crusade, Julie bought a cake to celebrate Wanda's birthday. We've had fun celebrating Wanda's birthday several times this week. Happy birthday Wanda, again! The boys love Nana Wanda and wanted to celebrate her birthday and have cake too.

We'll have a super week. The picture and video are from the first night of the crusade. Pastor Mark from Leesburg First Assembly is leading the crusade.






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Friday, August 7, 2009

GOD'S PEOPLE


I am overwhelmed again at the goodness of God's people. Wanda and I are at our 53 General Council of the Assemblies of God in Orlando and have spent the week hearing wonderful preaching, attending luncheons, receptions, and greeting old friends.


I have been stopped over and over by so many who have read this blog and shared their love and kindness to Wanda and me. They have followed my journey, our journey, and have felt our pain, prayed, and believed. They helped me at a distance in my trials and now rejoice in the new and wonderful things God is doing in our lives.

God's people are the best. 

We are staying at the Peabody Hotel where they have the famous walk of the ducks. Each morning the ducks are marched into the main lobby at 8 AM and march out at 5 PM. Patricia, Wanda, Stephanie, and I watched them walk out on Thursday afternoon. It was cute. 

Watch them march out on the video below.


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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

GREETING LONG TIME FRIENDS

Wanda and I are attending the by-annual meeting of the General Council of the Assemblies of God in Orlando. I am an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God and have gone to every General Council Meeting but one since 1973. That one was held in Miami, Florida.


This is the first Council that Wanda will attend, and wouldn't you know it, they scheduled it in Orlando just an hour from where she has lived for the last almost forty years. She would have preferred it to be in a city like San Diego or Portland or Denver. That would have made a nice trip for her, but we are going to enjoy our time here.

We arrived Monday afternoon and I spent 3 1/2 hours standing in line to register. I don't know what happened with their registration process, but one lady fainted from the long wait in line. Well, Tuesday was a better day as we are headed to the leadership conference. 


Beth Moore, Ed Young, Jr., and others spoke at the Leadership Conference. Their topics were pertinent and moving. Beth has a unique gift as a Bible teacher and Ed Young is so creative and enlightening. I enjoyed all of the speakers. They were super!


Wanda is meeting my friends in ministry of over 40 years  that I have made from across the Nation . They all knew Kristy and have been so kind to express their sorrow at her passing, and have been so gracious has they have congratulated Wanda and me on our marriage. 

I tell them that God has given Wanda to me as a precious gift. Most of you know the story of how Kristy told my daughter Julie and Sis Norma that Wanda was the one God had for me. It is an incredible story. Wanda is a precious jewel and blessing.

We will meet more friends today and get inspired in the leadership conference and walk and walk and walk and walk. Ouch! My feet are hurting just thinking about this week and all the walking. 

We'll laugh through the wee and have a blast as we greet long time friends. God is good!

I will share some photos of this meeting as it progresses. The first night, Tuesday night, our General Superintendent George Wood preached one of the most outstanding messages I have heard in all of the past General Councils I have attended. It was powerful, challenging, motivating, and encouraging. 

This will be a great week.

Oh, I almost forgot. Today is Wanda's birthday!

Happy Birthday to you.
Happy Birthday to you.
Happy Birthday, dear Wanda.
Happy Birthday to You!

Monday, August 3, 2009

RIDIN' TO ST. AUGUSTINE

Saturday morning Wanda and I and our friends, Don and Sandra, did a motorcycle ride to St. Augustine to eat breakfast and see some sights.
It was my first motorcycle ride there and we had a super time. There is just something about riding in the wind, smelling the fresh air, hearing all the outdoor sounds, and forgetting your troubles. They are just some of the pleasures of motorcycling. 

After breakfast in Old St. Augustine, we toured several old churches. My favorite there is the Memorial Presbyterian Church built in 1889 and dedicated in 1890 by Henry Morrison Flagler. Henry Flagler was a multimillionaire who made money in oil and railroad investments. He built the church in memory of his daughter who passed away as a result of childbirth in 1889. The church was built in less than one year which was amazing.



St. Augustine is a historic and beautiful city just south of Jacksonville. I would have loved to taken Wanda to O'steens which has the best shrimp you have ever put into your mouth. We'll do that on the next ride there.

Wanda and Sandra rode in our car while Don and I rode the motorcycles. I have just enough experience now and almost enough confidence for Wanda to ride on the motorcycle with me. Next trip she will be sitting on the back enjoying all the sights, smells, and sounds. It will be fun!