Monday, May 31, 2010

THE BEAUTY OF COLORS


Today we honor the fallen dead who gave their all so we may be free. Thank God for America, and thank God for those who have served our Country and those who died so we can be free. We are blessed to live in The Land of the Free and The Home of The Brave.

Special thanks to my father, Oscar Dykes, who served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, and to my brother, Max Dykes, who also served our Country in the U.S. Navy, and also to all of my family members who have served in the Armed Forces and some who served at great peril to their lives.

***



Back yards can be quiet places of meditation and blessing.

I love sitting on our back porch enjoying breakfast and a great cup of coffee. The birds are singing and calling to each other and the glory of summer blooms brighten the view. It is splendid way to begin a day.

Wanda has worked super hard to improve the flower beds, add color, and get rid of unwanted weeds. It takes tons of sweat and sore muscles and sometimes rashes from unsuspecting weeds, but it is worth it.

Her mother has a green thumb and Wanda's thumb is turning that shade too. Water, fertilizer, weeding, and making sure that the right plants are planted in the right spots all go into the mix. It is an ongoing task, but makes life sweeter, calmer, and more colorful.


Some of my best praying and studying takes place on the back porch. I turn some soft background music on that plays through the porch speakers and then I wait on the Lord. Enjoying God's creation adds to the spiritual quest.


The squirrels, red birds, blue birds, sparrows, doves, sometimes woodpeckers and even owls, along with an occasional raccoon add to the scenery. It is fascinating!

One of my favorite backyard plants is in full bloom. I don't know its name, but I have been told it is a butterfly plant. I know there are many kinds of "butterfly" plants, but I'm not sure what the official name of this plant is. It is the most luscious purple. I just call it my butterfly plant. It is attracting bees and more bees right now, but I know butterflies are headed there too.

Beautiful!

Friday, May 28, 2010

PERFECTION

I wonder how many laws there are in Jacksonville, or all the counties in Florida, or laws of the State of Florida, or all the counties across America or all the states in America, or all the Federal laws, or even more that are in all the countries of the world? There are thousands and thousands and thousands more if you could total them all. And then think about how legislatures are constantly adding to them and changing them or doing away with some.

The record of mankind in the law and rules department is not so good. One culture holds to one system of beliefs and other cultures lean to other systems. The interesting thing about man's laws is that they fall so incredibly short of the Laws of God. The laws of man have to be added to or taken away or revised or reviewed or updated. Not so with the Laws of God.

Psalm 19 (NIV) records:

7 The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.

8 The precepts of the LORD are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.

9 The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever.
The ordinances of the LORD are sure
and altogether righteous.

10 They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the comb.

11 By them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.


So the laws of the Lord are perfect, trustworthy, right, radiant, pure, and sure.

Follow the study of these words in the verses above and you will find promise and blessing. To do otherwise leads to ruin.

Oh, how my heart aches and breaks for those who in pride and foolishness think that ways other than the laws of God will work. Satan so subtlety twists, confuses, distorts, misrepresents, makes false promises, and encourages doubt and disobedience of God's laws.

Now listen. We can't improve on God's Laws. They are sure, perfect, and trustworthy. They do not fail. They always lead to blessings. By them we are warned (Ps. 19: 11). Warning is a good thing. If there was a terrible pothole or sinkhole in your path, would you want someone to warn you? Obviously, yes. So God's Laws are a warning of ill results of living otherwise to their wisdom.

So here is my prayer:

May the words of my mouth and the
meditations of my heart,
be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my strength, and my Redeemer.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

EARLY MORNINGS

I am not an early morning kind of guy. College life ruined that many years ago. We stayed up too much and too late for too long to have effective early mornings. Not every one is an early riser. Who likes worms anyhow?

But early mornings are coming some easier. I am learning to love early morning walks with Wanda followed by some strong coffee and lite breakfast. Then we take our devotional book read some Scripture, join hands, and spend several minutes praying for each other and those close to us.

Prayer is a great way to begin a day. What could be better than a few moments in the presence of The King? Prayer changes life. It makes the day better. It removes ruff edges and smooths ragged places. Prayer softens the heart and helps release selfishness. It places Christ in the proper place, and it becomes a huge reservoir of strength.

I love praying with Wanda and having someone join in faith with me. When we have a strong, faithful partner in prayer, it multiplies our faith and effectualness.

Early mornings with Jesus and my closest friend are incredible faith-builders.

Monday, May 24, 2010

LEARNING FROM "BIG RED"


Wanda and I had an incredible ride up to the Smoky Mountains and back last week. We were blessed with God's protection, great weather, beautiful views, super riding friends, and no mechanical troubles. Riding in the mountains is far different than the flatlands of Florida. There is more gearing down and back up due to curves and hills, and the straight-a-ways are far and few between.

So what did I learn from "Big Red"?

The primary thing I have learned is that "Big Red" goes where I look. You don't turn motorcycle handlebars to turn the motorcycle. You look and lean, and where you look is where you go.

Not long after Wanda started riding "Big Red" with me, we were returning home from a short excursion. Everything had gone great, and she was beginning to get comfortable riding with me. I had to make a U-turn as I missed a turn, and U-turns for a beginner motorcyclist can be a challenge.


As I began the U-turn, I saw a huge pothole just on the edge of the roadway where we were turning. It got bigger and bigger and bigger and "Big Red" headed straight for the pothole. I couldn't get the big guy to turn away. Rather than hit the pothole, I veered to the right onto the sidewalk and missed the pothole.

There we were riding down the sidewalk, but we were safe. Oh, and thankfully no one was walking on the sidewalk. "Big Red" rides sidewalks too. Not good, but safe at least.

Here is the take-a-way. Where you look is where you"ll go. It is true on a motorcycle, and it is true in life. Keep looking at a pothole and you'll head straight for it. I have learned from that experience that I have to "look" at where I want to go and not pay attention to potholes.

Life and vision and future and dreams and goodness all depend on where we are focusing. If we focus on the pothole, we'll head straight for it. If we focus on the bad then we'll head straight for it too.

By the way, I can now make great U-turns on "Big Red". I look and lean to where I want to go. I am learning to do that it life also.

Friday, May 21, 2010

THE VIEW FROM "BIG RED"


So what is it like motorcycling through the Smokies?

It is relaxing with all kinds of unique smells, sights, and sounds.

It is calm with moments of intensity and the wind blowing in your face and your eyes taking brief glimpses of beautiful scenery while scanning for danger points. It is smooth riding with glorious horizons. Greens, purples, yellows, reds, and whites popping up from all angles.


It is rocks and mountains and valleys, hills and streams, and ponds, rivers and dams, and bridges.

It is short straight-a-ways and quick curves and long sloping grades all mixed together on narrow and wide roadways.

It is the joy of good friends, fresh coffee, hearty meals, and delicious desserts.

It is more motorcycles of all shapes, sizes, and sounds ridden by saints and sinners.


It is the thrill of the ride and the soothing of the mind.

It is views above, below, side by side, ahead and behind.

It is the unexpected, the planned, and the hoped for.

It is the high and lows of temperatures rising and falling.

It is fog, rain, bright sunshine, and shaded roadways.

It is reflection and vision.

It is thoughts and dreams.



It is the sweetness of a quiet Goldwing smiling at Harley guys grinding by with earplugs blocking loud sounds.

It is the wonder of why I waited so long to enjoy?

It is gasing the tank and watching other riders with their big machines.

It is meeting new friends and telling a tale.




It is the pat from the back, the bonding of someone special, and the smile of a good time shared.

It is the joy of beholding God's creation, full face, up front, and personal.

It is gentle meditation and soft prayers.

It is sitting on "Big Red" watching the world go by.

***

Check out the video at the end of the pictures.






video

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

TRAVELING ON "BIG RED"



Wanda and I are away for a few days riding "Big Red" in the Smoky Mountains with a couple, Jim and Judy, from our church. Jim is an experienced motorcyclist and is also a motorcycle safety instructor. He is a great guy to have on my "first" long distance ride, and he has been mentoring me for almost a year now. What a blessing!

We rode from Jacksonville to Dublin, Ga., and had a super ride except for the last 25 miles or so and had to ride in the rain. With rain gear we're okay in the bad weather. It is just the issues that we have to deal with as the rain makes it tougher to ride safely. From Dublin we rode on up to Robbinsville, NC. Our almost 500 miles trip up was great other than those few rain showers.

Our nightly base is in Robbinsville, as we have made one day trip out to the Scenic Hwy, and then to the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, and then to Deals Gap which is the base of The Dragon's Tail, and then over to Fontana Dam, and then a quick stop on the Nantahala River for dinner, and then to home base. All in all we rode about 175 miles snaking all around the Smokies.

No. I didn't do the Dragon's Tail which is over 318 curves in about 11 miles, but we did a bunch of curves on our 175 miles. Whew!

The weather was great! The only issue was a little fog at the highest point of travel on the Scenic Hwy. Otherwise it was super.



So why would you ride by motorcycle from Jacksonville, FL. to the Smokies at my age? That is a very good question.

It is something that Wanda and I enjoy doing together. I drive. She prays! Well, actually we both pray, but we have loads of fun seeing the sights, and stopping at odd places, finding neat places to eat, and enjoying the sights, smells, and sounds of riding free.


I never, never, never thought I would be doing such a thing. Some of my friends have been at me for years to motorcycle with them, but I thought they were crazy. I never planned on riding with them or anyone else, but life changes. We all change and do things we never dreamed.

Here are a few pictures of our day.

Enjoy!







Monday, May 17, 2010

I'M ANGRY

There is a place for anger, and there is a proper way to deal with anger. Anger that leads to sin reaps a whirlwind of bad consequences. That kind of anger is wrong. Yes, sin is real, and yes sin hurts. It leaves scars that last a lifetime and brings eternal consequences unless cover by the Blood of Jesus.

So what am I angry about?

I am fighting mad at what the Devil is doing to harm, destroy, and ruin lives. I am mad at his lying, false promising claims. I am mad at his cunning deceit and ruthless ways.

Oh, he talks and good talk and boasts of incredible rewards, but the end is always hurt, shame, and brokenness. I am angry that the world and government leaders for opening the doors for even more of sin's sinister ways. I am angry that so many lives are being brutalized by Satan's crafty but ugly ways.

What shall I do about my anger?

I shall preach the Word with greater conviction, pray harder, let my light shine, expose the works of the Devil every chance I can, and most of all let Jesus shine. This isn't the time to shrink back, play dead, roll over or passively float down stream with the rest of the dead mackerels.

This is the time to boldly stand in the life and power of Jesus Christ. This is the time to exercise greater faith. This is the time to rebuke Satan, to resist him, and to stand in authority over him in the Name of Jesus Christ.

Satan is real. He is a real lier. He is the father of all lies.

But He is defeated in the name of Jesus. It is time to let our anger find energy and release in the power of the Holy Spirit.

My prayer today is:

Devil,

I take authority over you now in The Name of Jesus and bind your lying, blinding, deceitful spirits. You have no place nor authority over God's people. In Jesus Name, I command that you go and your power be broken over anyone who reads this blog. You shall have no place in their house. You are defeated, and your power will not stand.

I speak life and peace in Jesus Name.

AMEN!

Friday, May 14, 2010

WHAT DID YOU FORGET?

Are you ever forgetful? Does your memory fail you? Do you ever feel like you have information overload? Every where I turn it seems that more and more bombards me from computers to Iphones to TV to mail and junk mail to Text messages, and then there is Facebook.

I tease my younger church staff members that the reason older folks don't remember so much is that we know lots of stuff to forget. Younger folks don't know anything to forget. HA! That's my excuse, and I'm sticking with it.

Have you ever lost your glasses to find them on the top of your head?

Have you looked for your keys to find them in your hand?

Have you ever handed your cell phone to someone and while they are talking on it begin to look for it to make another call.

I know you have left the house only to wonder if you put the garage door down.

Or did you leave home and then question about the iron being turned off?

Or did you go to Walmart and get everything but what you went there to get.

How about names? Ever forget a family members name?

Sometimes I feel like life is too crowded, complex, and confusing. Maybe it is time to simplify and close a few doors to focus on the higher priorities. I try daily to keep the first things first and prioritize from the top down, but the lower list gets busier and busier.

Speed devices do help me accomplish more than I ever could imagine. I really don't want to live without a computer, Iphone, TV, or similar devices.

Maybe I'll take a information break.

It think I feel my brain remembering again.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

ONE BIG BLISTER

Blisters are a sign of soft hands, unproven toughness, or maybe determined effort. I am not a sissy, but I will admit my hands are more girly than manly, at least in callouses. All of that showed up this past weekend after several days of working in our yards pulling out dead grass left from a harsh winter.

Even though I was wearing gloves, before I knew it, I wore a terrible blister on my left thumb from raking and pulling weeds and dead grass out of our front yard. Some of our neighbors have put new grass in replacing the old, but Wanda and I are hoping that by hand thatching the dead grass out and placing sprigs that we will have a luscious green yard shortly.

Obtaining life's best sometimes makes for harsh blisters. Maybe I should have had better gloves, or worked with better care. I don't know. But I believe the hard work will pay off soon.

Nothing comes easy in life--not even green grass.

Oh, that reminds me. I heard someone say that the grass on your side of the fence might be greener if you watered it more. There is a parable there somewhere.

I think I will water my grass more. That would be easier than hunting greener grass elsewhere even with the added blisters.

Monday, May 10, 2010

AFTER MOTHER'S DAY

Can I be brief?

Yes I can.

Mother's Day, the annual celebration day, is over, but hopefully we can make Mother's Day last a little longer than 24 hours. Mothers deserve more than a one day event for all they do.

So, if you didn't call your mother yesterday, why not call her and say thank you for all she has done for you? After all, without her, you wouldn't be here.

And even if you did something nice for her, why not do a little more today?

You owe her.

Friday, May 7, 2010

EXTRAORDINARY JOY

Joy.

Real joy. Pure joy.

Heavenly, holy, sweet joy.

It is more than laughter, deeper than a cute funny, and broader than a wide smile. Joy is a product of hope. It is the fruit of the presence of God, and it is from the wellspring of God's Spirit.

It is exceeds mere happy feelings, and it moves beyond the mood of the moment. It comes from above and goes far within. Joy from heaven doesn't fade when life hurts, friends fail, and trials increase. Joy from heaven lifts us above clouds of human despair. It becomes the partner of peace. It marks our souls with a witness of God's light.

Joy comes in the morning. It is the shout of salvation, and the glory of God's holiness. It is the internal energy of emotional cleansing.

Tears are the seeds of joy. Joy is the harvest of tendered eyes. Brokenness is the predicate for morning's glory and joy's release.

It is found in the connection between God and the fulfillment of His plan. It goes deeper, deeper, and then deeper still while yet lifting us towards eternity's call.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

WHERE'S BARNEY?



Where's Barney when you need him?

Oh, the picture is of the police station in Carrabelle, Fl., where I served as pastor of First Assembly of God 35 years ago. I know I don't look that old. Actually I was only 12. Ha!

Really, this phone booth was the actual police station when I lived there. The police chief parked his car next to the phone booth, and when someone had a need they would call the phone booth number. Barney would jump out of the car, take the call, and he and the chief would take off to deal with the problem. Of course Barney had to get his bullet out of his shirt pocket before facing any bad guys.

The other picture here is of my sweetheart standing in front of a sand sculpture in downtown Carrabelle. We had a super time visiting and ministering for the First Assembly in Carrabelle. They made me feel so special and loved.


I learned a lot while living there. I preached my first funeral, performed my first wedding, had my first baptismal service, had my first baby dedication, dedicated the first church sanctuary, and my first child was born there. Wow, that is a lot of firsts.

Life passes quickly in this world. I know we will live forever, but our time here on earth is truly as a vapor that fleetingly passes into the wind. How did all those years go by so fast? Oh well, I have a long ways to go yet. I must make every day count.

Monday, May 3, 2010

FAVORITE SINGERS

Carlos G. Santiago is one of my favorite singers along with Mike Hammontree. Mike has been a mentor of Carlos and now Carlos is following in Mike's steps as Carlos is leading worship at Southside Assembly.

Mike served as worship leader and music director for 15 years at Southside and now is traveling as the pianist for the Blackwood Brothers. He is incredibly talented as a singer, musician, worship leader, choir director, performer, and other gifted ways.


Also, Mike is an extraordinary impressionist and did a Johnny Cash impression with the Blackwood Brothers in a most recent Blackwood concert which can be viewed by clicking on his name above. Watch it. You will be blessed, entertained, and encouraged.


Carlos graduated this past Saturday from Southeastern University in Lakeland, Fl., and was the featured soloist at the graduation. Listen to Carlos. He is amazing, anointed, handsome, single, searching, oops. Just kidding there, Carlos. Just click on his name above and enjoy.

Wow! I love to hear these guys sing. They bless my socks off!

Christian music, no matter the style or genre, intrigues me. I like everything from contemporary to Southern Gospel to blue grass especially if it lifts up the name of Jesus.