Wednesday, March 31, 2010

THE TREE LIVES

Spring is here, and new life blooms.

The signs of winter's death are passing and the glory of flowers' beauty edge into full view. I love to see the transitions of seasons. This is an amazing time of year.

Several weeks back, Wanda and I noticed that one of the oak trees in our back yard looked dead. It had too much moss in the limbs and branches and also had a lot of mistletoe in it. It looked sick.

At that same time, there were some tree trimmers working in our neighborhood that I got to look at it and they offered to take the moss and mistletoe out. As they climbed up the tree, Wanda overheard one of them say that the tree was dead. I talked with them again as to whether it was worth it to do the work or not, and after much thought, we determined to go ahead.


"What can we do to give the tree its best shot at greening up again and living," I asked them?

One said that maybe a fertilizer shock treatment might help but made no guarantees. All this would cost more money.

I gave them to go ahead and they put fertilizer into the ground all around the tree into the roots. Then waiting process began.

Weeks went by with no results. A week ago we were working in the back yard again and I noticed that all the other trees had greened up but not the sick one. A sinking feeling came into my heart. It would take years for another tree to grow to take the sick ones place. That tree offered nice shade over our deck in the afternoons when we enjoy the backyard with late evening grilling and nice outdoor gatherings. If the tree was dead, it would be a loss. No shade....


As I worked in the yard that afternoon all around the sick tree, finally I had a thought. Why not lay hands on the tree and pray for it?

I am not a tree hugger. Al Gore won't ever visit my house to give "green" awards. But I didn't want to lose the shade, the nice tree, or wait for another to take its place. I do believe in prayer. So why not pray for the tree?

I quietly place my hands on the tree and prayed. Days and days went by. The tree looked worse to me each time I glanced out the back window. All the other trees had released their pollen and sprouted leaves, but not the sick tree. Nothing was happening to it.

But, almost overnight this weekend, the tree began to sprout new leaves. More leaves than previous years. The tree lives!

Spring is in full bloom now, but no blooms or new leaves look prettier than the leaves on the sick tree now turning green and alive.

Spring has sprung. Life is good. Even more, God is good.

Monday, March 29, 2010

A SLIPPERY PIG

Revenge is a no, no in marriage.

How can you love someone and have a desire for revenge to get even when your spouse irritates you or hurts you? It is impossible.

Did you hear about the wife who never got upset or angry when her husband treated her badly?

Finally her husband questioned her, "You never get mad or angry at me when I hurt you."

"That's right," she said.

"Why? What do you do," he asked?

"I go clean the toilet," she replied.

"You go clean the toilet. Why do you do that," he asked?

The wife responded, "I don't get mad, but I just go clean the toilet with your toothbrush."

Ouuuuuuu!

Not good.

That is not love.

Love is a continuous pursuit. You have to keep chasing it and then chase it some more and then go after it again.

Mark Gungor says that love in marriage is like chasing a slippery pig. You catch it and then it squeals and slips away, and the chase starts again.

Now don't go cleaning toilets with toothbrushes. Revenge and love do not go together.

Friday, March 26, 2010

PINK LOVE NOTES


To feel love is a wonderful thing. To know that someone really cares and loves you and goes way out of the way to make sure you know they love you is an incredible gift.

Love is what love does. Love does....

Tuesday when I arrived home riding "Big Red," I went to open the garage at the outside garage key pad and found a pink sticky note with an "I love you note" stuck to the opener from Wanda.

Then I took my helmet off to place it on the shelf in the garage and found another "I love you note...." As I walked into the house to put my keys up there was another note. And on to my walk-in closet to find another one, and one on the my mirror, and one stuck inside a pair of shoes she knew I was going to change into, and then one in a shirt I was going to wear, and one in the my medicine cabinet, and others strategically placed yet to be found.

Now what do you think that made me feel like?

Some of them read:

I love you because we enjoy doing things together....

I love you because you help keep the house clean and my job easier.

I love you because you always want to look clean! You are one good looking man.

I love you because you are a loving caring pastor and husband.

I love I love you walk in others shoes and care for them.

I love you because you put away your dirty clothes.

I love you because you come home and love me.

I love you because you have devotions and pray with me every day.

I love you because.....


When I came home and began to read these notes, one by one as I found the place all over the house, I was thankful that I had stopped "Big Red" before getting home to buy Wanda some flowers. The flowers in hand let her know that I love her too!

Next week we will be married one year. The honeymoon continues.

Love is what love does.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

HOUSE RULES

Rules help keep life in order, working good, and peaceful. Can you imagine playing a game with no rules? Have you ever purchased a new board game and sat down at the table to play? What is the first question on everyone’s mind? They want to know what are the rules?


What about sports? Certainly there are rules for football, baseball, basketball, soccer, and all other sports. Games and sports are not the only places where good rules are needed. All aspects of life go better when the rules are fair, clear, and followed. Trying driving your car and not paying attention to the rules of safety. Break a couple of them and you might get pulled over or worse yet have a terrible accident.


What about the rules for the home? Homes with no house rules are not happy places. Here are a few vital rules for the home.


1. Always be honest. 2. Count your blessings. 3. Bear each other’s burdens. 4. Forgive and forget. 5. Be kind and tenderhearted. 6. Comfort one another. 7. Keep your promises. 8. Be supportive of one another. 9. Be true to each other. 10. Look after each other. 11. Treat each other as your friends. 12. But most important, love one another deeply from the heart.


Here is one more great rule: Do unto your family as you would have your family do to you, or do unto your spouse as you would have your spouse do unto you. Or, do unto your sibling as you would have your sibling do unto you.


Where did I get these rules? They are from the best guide book in the world, The Holy Bible. Jesus taught the Golden Rule and the best place to practice this rule is in the home.


Here is one final rule: Clean up your own mess. That rule works too.


Monday, March 22, 2010

RIDING SR 16 THROUGH PENNY FARMS


Wanda and I went for a ride on Big Red on Friday following several county roads in Duval, St Johns, and Clay Counties. We took the roads less traveled. Wild turkeys, the St. John's River, long bridges, forests, single lane bridges over little creeks, and lots of pick-up trucks were all in our view.

Our first stop was at Starbucks in Green Cove Springs. After checking Iphones and our GPS, we headed due west and then south off of SR 16. Passing by the Clay County Fair, we took an even smaller county road south.

After riding about 15 minutes, we came to the end of the paved road without any warning. There was a simple sign that noted that it would be 6 miles before reaching the paved road again. So the question was whether to turn around or go forward. With a few moments thought, we determined to press ahead. So onward we rode into the Florida wild. We rode for miles without seeing anyone and only passed one pick-up truck until we hit another "major" county road taking us to Keystone Heights.

A couple of times "Big Red" fought "fish tailing" in the Florida sand, but a steady throttle and strong hands and arms kept it on track until gaining better traction. Riding in sand is not what I bought this bike to do, but the good news is that I learned I could do it if necessary. Also, no one knew our route. We were way out in the Florida wild by ourselves. That wasn't good.

What is the take-a-way?

We had a great ride on a gorgeous day. Also, I learned that I could take "Big Red" through sandy roads if necessary. Finally, I will look much closer at my map to find good paved roads that do not turn into sand.

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Have you ever been to Penny Farms, Florida? What about Green Cove Springs? Do you know where Lake Geneva is in Keystone Heights?

Have you ever shopped at JC Penny's? Mr. Penny founded Penny Farms, Fl., with the intent to provide a retirement center for ministers. His parents were ministers and had no place to live after retiring. Mr. Penny bought this land and turned it into retirement center. Wanda and I didn't get to spend any time there, but we will return soon to Penny Farms on "Big Red."

Friday, March 19, 2010

FORCED HEALTH CARE

This weekend Congress will push to pass a Health Care Bill that will turn America into legislative socialism. How can 30 million Americans get coverage without costing anyone anything? How can they force all of this on us? It is simply incredible what is happening.

I have been diligently praying for mercy for our Nation. If this bill should pass, it will be the single greatest step toward damaging the future of our Nation in my life time except for the Rowe vs. Wade Supreme Court Decision.

Social Security is totally failing as well as Medicare and Medicaid. Now we have legislatures who want to totally ruin the best health care system in the world by demanding, against the will of the people, that the government take it over.

Health care is not my major concern. My concern is with life, liberty, and freedom. My question is how can we trust our national leaders with taking over 1/6 of our national economy when they have never managed any other part of our nation's budget or programs with any level of competence? It just doesn't make sense.

Here is my conclusion: My trust is in God, not the government. Jesus is Lord and He reigns! Yet, my heart bleeds for America and our loss of freedoms.

May God have mercy on our Nation.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

ANCHORS AWEIGH!

Good music and good friends! Now that is a great pair.

Wanda and I recently enjoyed listening to the Navy Band with Terry and Sandra and Jim and Judy at the Times Union Center. Wanda saw a flyer some weeks ago which promoted a free concert by the U.S. Navy Band.

I played trumpet in my high school marching band as well as the symphony orchestra and love to go to concerts. I wasn't the best trumpeter, but I loved trying. Brass and flutes and percussion and clarinets and oboes all make for wonderful, soothing as well as inspiring sounds.

My taste in music goes from classical to blue grass and all variations between. Good music is soul comfort. It helps cleanse the mind and lifts the heart.

The Navy Band played marches and moved me in a patriotic way. They make you proud to be an American in the land of the free and home of the brave. Jacksonville is a Navy town and our church is filled with men and women who served in the Navy colors.

My mind is still playing those great ballads and marches over and over. It makes you want to wave the Red, White, and Blue. Yes, I am proud to be an American.


video

Monday, March 15, 2010

JUST REST

Sunday is a work day for preachers. Just think, all a preacher has to do is work a couple of hours on Sunday and he has his work week accomplished. I'm a preacher a that is little joke, very little. Sunday's can be busy far beyond two hours in church.

But this Sunday I enjoyed one of the best Sunday afternoon naps in a long time.

Wanda and I got home from church, and she quickly prepared a delicious meal. We ate and talked for a while and then helped gather up the dishes. Then I got in the comfy chair in the family room with a college basketball game on TV with my feet propped and began to cut the zzz's. Before I knew it it was late afternoon and I felt refreshed.

Our God knows that we need a day of rest and renewal. That is why He made Sunday. Our bodies were not made to go week after week with no R&R. We need rest and renewal.

Hobby Lobby and Chick-fil-A are setting the business standard by honoring the Lord's Day. From what I hear their profit margins are doing well too. I just wonder if God doesn't have something to do with that.

Now I am ready to face a new week. Sunday naps work! Believe me, preachers work far more than a couple of hours on Sunday.

Friday, March 12, 2010

EIGHTY-EIGHT YEARS


I recently took a quiz that is designed to tell how long you will live. Obviously, no one knows how long that will be except God, but the test asked pointed, specific, health questions that made statistical analysis leading to a projected age. One by one I answered the questions which ranged from present health issues, to how long my parents lived, to weight (kinda personal) to blood pressure, to smoking (never smoked or drank), to my driving record.


All of these questions led to my projected life span being 88 years. That is 28 years from now. To be honest, I had already asked the Lord to give me 85 healthy, purposeful years so this test was actually good news to me. I may have 3 more years than I asked God to give me.


Who knows how long any of us have to live? Life changes so quickly. The good news is that we don’t have to live with fear, apprehension, or uncertainty, Our time is in God’s hands, and when we give our lives to Him then He takes all things and works them for our good. That includes the amount of time we live in this life.


Here is the point. Make every day count. Live right! Don’t waste a day. Don’t live with regrets, hard feelings, unforgiveness, or ill. LIfe is too short and there is too much to enjoy. Remember, this is the day the Lord has made. Rejoice and be glad.


How long do you plan on living? What is the projection? Double click on the first sentence of this paragraph and check it out.


Live today and love. Let God’s love release new faith and energy for life. God has good things in store for you. Just trust Him and follow after His ways.


Here is the best news. The truth is that we are going to live forever! Did you get that? I said you are going to live forever. If we believe in Jesus and have accepted Him as our Saviour then there is a better world coming. This world leads to a far greater, more wonderful, amazing life in heaven. If I live 88 years then I will have just begun to live.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

FAVORITE THINGS

What do you like to do the most?

You know, people do what they really want to do. A review of my recent days, weeks, months, and years gives a real answer to the question.

What do I like to do?

Every day I begin with devotions and prayer and often begin my prayers with, "This is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it." Then I ask for guidance and wisdom that I may glorify His name. Then I do what I like to do and even some things I don't like.

What do I like to do? Here is the answer:

Eat, read, study, pray, enjoy being with Wanda, prepare sermons, preach, teach, lead, encourage, counsel, mentor, write, ride Big Red, spend time with family and friends, try new things, go to church, worship, watch sports, play sports, sleep, rest, exercise (a little but doing more), work in my yard and house, learning a little about cooking (very little), do some house work (again, very little but some to help Wanda), surf the Internet, go to Starbucks or other coffee shops, eat out with family or friends, travel, .....

My list of favorite things is not in order and actually leaves out one or two things I really love, but that's personal.

What do you really like?
What are your favorite things?


Monday, March 8, 2010

BE A CHAMPION

This past weekend my daughter, Jennifer, won a mountain bike race in Puerto Rico. Training, competing, and winning are never easy. Hours of strenuous practice, lots of sweat, and grueling hours are required to be a champion in any sport.

Jennifer had trained hard and racing up and down mountains is not easy for anyone. I really can't imagine pulling up steep hills and flying down the other side while weaving and dodging trees and underbrush and racing over roots and rocks. It just doesn't seem very safe, but Jennifer is an outstanding mountain biker and loves the sport.
She can beat most women racers and keeps up with and even passes some of the guys.

The picture is of Jennifer with her bike as she holds up her trophy and a wad of money that went to the winner.

Congratulations Jennifer! I am proud of you! Now don't forget to pay your tithe on the prize money.

Jennifer was also a champion high school swimmer and won many races. She won one race by 1/100 of a second against a far superior swimmer. Jennifer was behind going down the final stretch, but she didn't quit, caught the leader, and won. Believe me. That was one exciting race.

What does it take to be a champion? It takes:

Heart, Courage, Work

More Work, Confidence, Sweat

Commitment, Perseverance, Intense Training

A Great Coach, Support, Follow-through

Talent, Time, Tenacity

Focus, Practice, Vision

Enthusiasm, Passion, Grit

And More

***

I bet you could add a few words to the list.

Here is the real question. What does it take to be a champion for Christ? That is the list of champions we all want to be included.

Friday, March 5, 2010

PRAY FOR AMERICA


My heart has been unusually burdened in recent days for our Nation. America is losing its way. Our President, has regretfully chosen to express that from his view America is no longer a Christian Nation. I cannot express how grievous that statement is to me. Also, there are many other matters of deep concern.


Please join with me in serious, heartfelt intercession for our President and for our Nation. Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 2 1I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.


Presently our Nation is in a life and death struggle for freedom. While I pray for our President, I am seriously concerned at the continued push toward government takeover and intrusion into every area of our lives. There is a constant push toward alternate life styles and gay rights and abortion. The Bible is clear that this is sin and is an abomination. There is a socialist agenda that ever leads toward the bankrupting of our country.


Personally, I believe the next several weeks will determine the future of our country. If the government gains control of health care, this will lead to an unstoppable push toward socialism and ruin.


It is time to pray for America, our President, and those in leadership. Will you set aside time to fast and pray for our Nation? The future of our children and grandchildren and our Country is at stake. Pray that righteousness will prevail. Pray that God will have mercy on America. Pray that Christian/Judeao values will rise again. Pray for a revival that men and woman will repent and turn to God.


This is an urgent time. We are foolish if we do not think that this Nation can fall and pass as many others have throughout the centuries of time. Evil prevails when good men are silent. We must not be silent in our prayers. We must intercede for America.


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

BIKER WEEK IN DAYTONA

Thousands of bikers are in Daytona Beach, Fl., this week to do what biker's do. If you get on I-95 going south from Jacksonville, you will see literally scores and sometimes into the hundreds of bike's going and coming from the East/Central Coast of Florida.

Monday I rode down on my Goldwing to visit a group of Christian bikers who have set up a station to give free bike washes and free oil changes. They have a super setup and have done this for years as a witnessing tool to share God's love.

When I pulled in to the parking lot where they were setup, at first none of them recognized me. Then the leader came over and they proceeded to give Big Red and thorough washing. It really glowed when they got through. They even feed me lunch.

After washing my bike, they asked if they could pray for me and proceeded to offer up a faith-filled prayer for God's blessings over my life and safety when riding my motorcycle. They pray with all the biker's if they will let them.

People need the Lord and we need to be more passionate to share God's love and grace. It works.

On my way back to Jax, I stopped at Dunkin' Doughnut in St. Augustine for a moment. Just as I sat down a couple came in and the man really liked my bike. They sat with me and the next thing I know, the Lord opened the door to witness to them. I shared my journey of faith and told how God brought Wanda into my life and what had happened to Kristy. They sat with tears and said that I needed to write this story. I mentioned Kristy's blog and eagerly the wife said she would read it as soon as they got home.

Sharing faith and God's goodness is wonderful! People need the Lord and we need to be faithful to share God's love.

Monday, March 1, 2010

WHAT IS GOLD WORTH?

The 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver are now history. Gold, Silver, and Bronze Medals have been handed out to the top performers in various categories. I have watch a few varied events and have been impressed by the passion, sacrifice, and daring of the competitors.

I can ice skate just a little, though it pains my legs tremendously. Snow skiing is not much easier for me. My first time to put snow skis on I thought I was looking down Mt. Everest even though is was a tiny mogul.

What compels the entrants to compete for the Gold? Fame? Glory? Honor? The possibly of lots of money? I guess there are even more reasons to compete. The award ceremonies for the different events are always exciting and sometimes tug at the heart.

What are the metals worth?

According to the Olympic Charter, the gold and silver medals must each be made of at least 92.5 percent pure silver and the gold medal must be gilded with at least six grams of gold.

The price of gold changes daily. Assuming there's six grams of gold in each medal, each one would be worth
about $500 at 2010 prices.

The remainder of the gold medal is made out of silver. The price of silver also fluctuates, but at an average of $14.50 per troy ounce, the remaining silver in the gold medal hovers around $60.

Obviously the honor of winning is far greater than the actual dollar value of the metals. I will never win a metal at the Olympics, but I am shooting for gold in heaven. The metals and honor of heaven will be priceless.

Let's go for the gold in heaven.