Monday, December 31, 2012

REFLECTIONS OF 2012

This morning in our family devotions we were challenged to reflect on the events of 2012 in our lives. There isn't enough time or space to record them all. I guess reading past blogs would give a detailed list of my life this year. We both have so much to be thankful for to God.

We counted a few of the things that are highlights:

For me:

1. Our marriage is stronger.
2. I read the Bible completely through four times in 2012.
3. We enjoyed so many wonderful times with our children, grandchildren, family, and friends.
4. The Lord added to our church family.
5. We had so many prayers answered.
6. We enjoyed several nice trips.
7. God blessed me with good health this year.
8. I lost some weight.
9. Wanda turned 60, and boy does she look great!
10. I preached many sermons and wrote scores of articles.

I haven't posted in a week on this blog, but I'm back. I'm preparing a "bucket list" for 2013. It will include spiritual goals along with things I would love to do this year.

Thank you Lord for your blessings on my home in 2012. I give you praise for what you will do this coming year!

Friday, December 21, 2012

UNEXPECTED

My last post dwelt with the topic of pastoral visitation. I mentioned that Wanda and I had made several visits on Monday afternoon to people in need in our congregation. They all had need. One is under hospice care. Another has been in a comma for almost two months. A third had been deathly sick but was recovering.

Wednesday during lunch I received word that the one who was expected to recover had passed. It was shocking. We talked with Dorita, a 62 year old spina bifida survivor, and she looked forward to being back in church soon. We left some poinsettias and had a nice visit.

Now she is in heaven. She had been bound to a wheel chair all of her life, but now she is straight, tall, and walking. She is well, whole, and happy.

Dorita was an inspiration in our church and every where she went. She has an adult son who is a fine christian man. He is a miracle. I don't know how she could bear a child, but she did. That is just one of the many miracles of Dorita's life.

She served as one of our church greeters on Sundays. She had a radiant smile and made everyone feel welcome. Over and over through these years I have been blessed to see her each Sunday with a praise flowing from her lips to God. She was a huge inspiration.

It is hard to lose church members. I know she is in heaven, but we miss her. We had looked forward to her returning to church again. Now she is in heaven. Praise God, she is in heaven.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

VISITATION

Pastors get to do lots of fun things. There are all kinds of celebrations and eating meetings and big days to enjoy. There are also sad moments and funny moments and shocking moments and spontaneous moments and detailed planned moments and waiting moments, and extemporaneous moments and many, many more moments.

I love what God has called me to do. I love preaching and planning and seeing people grow in the knowledge of the Lord. I love the variety of activities that are all part of a pastor's day.

There are few dull moments. Something is always happening or ending or starting or in transition.

People look to their pastor for prayer, comfort, advice, guidance, and leadership. They need a shepherd to lead them in the right way. These responsibilities are huge.

I still do some visitation of our flock. People do not expect as much of that has when I first started pastoring almost forty years ago, but the sick need visiting and prayer.

On Monday, Wanda and I visited several of our church family who are in hospitals or rehab centers or care centers. One is in a partial comma. One is confined to bed with several bed sores. Another is dying. My heart went out to them. We prayed and offered encouragement. We left some poinsettias. We  tried to make life better for them for a few moments.

At the end of the day, I felt good and that we had made a difference for a few moments. Pastoring has definite challenges, but with God's help we can help lighten a dark world and encourage the hurting.

Monday, December 17, 2012

CONNECTICUT

The shootings in Connecticut are more than heartbreaking. I have no words to even begin to describe or comment. It is more than jolting, shocking, or grievous.

I have not been able to watch or follow the story. I could not stand it. It was more than I could bear.

I listened to the Presidents speech. I heard the cries of those in attendance. His attempt to console were appreciated but no one can smooth this over in a few moments.

What can we do?

We can pray.

We can do our best where we are to let a light shine to point people in the right way.

We can strengthen families and reach out to those who are outcasts and in need.

We can humble ourselves and pray more for our Nation.

No new gun laws will end these sad killings. No new legislation will change a deviate heart.

May God have mercy on our Nation, our children, our families.

One final thought: It seems to me that a Nation that will allow unborn babies to be ripped from their mother's wombs will become a Nation that will raise children who will have no problem killing those they can see face to face.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

MARRIAGE COUNSELING

Wanda and I have been married a total of 72 years. That is 3 plus years together and 69 years total in our previous marriages. That gives us 72 plus years total. That is lots of opportunities to learn and grow and work at marriage. It is a daily commitment. No one is immune in marriage from the continual give and take of sharing, compromising, pleasing, and adjusting. It is inevitable for all of us.

I don't promote that I do counseling, but every pastor does some. It is Biblical to train, teach, and mentor. Older men should train the younger ones, and the older ladies should train the younger ones. That is the Biblical way. Of course the older ones doing the training need to be those with spiritual maturity and who live a godly example for others to follow.

Yet, I find myself doing pre and post martial counseling. Does counseling work? Sometimes it works, but certainly not all of the time. The primary issue is not always lack of skill or knowledge, but simply a lack of "want too". It is a lack of "want to" to do what you know to do.

Men need respect. Women need love.
Men need sex. Women need tenderness.

Well, I'll stop there. The list of needs go on, but again the real issue is "want to". Why don't men or women "want to"? Therein lies the great question. It is not easily answered.

Too often men "want to" after it is too late. Too often women don't feel compelled to "want to" because they don't feel their needs are being met. Of course that is vice versa.

Why do some couples poke each other in the eye and twist noses over and over? Why can't they learn that there is a better way? Why do they quit on their marriage only to go to another one and far to often face they same issues?  Why not stick it out and work it out without the pain, hardship, cost, and rancor of a divorce?

Marriage counseling only works when couples are willing to put effort into their marriages. They have to develop that "want to".  My greatest prayer in counseling is that God will help me to inspire couples who I counsel to "want to" do what they already know to do.

Monday, December 10, 2012

CHRISTMAS PRESENTATIONS

This has been a weekend of enjoying wonderful Christmas programs. It began Saturday evening in Lakeland, Fl., watching Paige and Cole perform, continued with our churches' children's presentation on Sunday morning at Southside, and then taking in the Christmas Orchestra and Piano musical at First Baptist on Sunday night. They were all great.

Paige had a acting part. Cole sang, and well, he also picked his nose. Ha!

At Southside, our children did an outstanding job sharing the Christmas story through song.

Then Sunday evening at First Baptist topped it all off with a super orchestra and 8 grand pianos.
Wow!

I loved watching our two grandkids and our Southside kids. They were beautiful. We were blessed.

To be honest, my favorite presentation of the weekend was listening to Aaron, a boy in our kid's program. Wow! Did he do great! He put his heart into it. He sang with enthusiasm. I will be frank. I wiped a tear. He touched hearts Sunday morning.

What was so fantastic about Aaron?

Glad you asked.

Aaron has numerous challenges. I won't go into lots of details, but will just say that he has a very difficult time staying focused and staying still. We have chased him all over our church and then some. But we love him dearly.

I heard numerous comments about Aaron's part. He was a hit. I can't remember when I was blessed by a special as the song Aaron sang. I wish everyone sang with the passion he did.

Friday, December 7, 2012

STOLEN

Monday I received a call that one of our church vans had been stolen. We have two vans that we use for church ministry to bring people to church and many other church related activities. It was our best van with new tires no less.

How aggravating!

Why would anyone desire to steal and especially from a church.

But this isn't the first time we have had items stolen. We have had numerous air conditioners stolen the last couple of years. It has cost us thousands of dollars. We have secured them by fencing and alarm systems but they have repeated ripped the copper out. They get a few dollars from the copper and it costs us thousands to repair.

I guess it shows that our work helping share the love of God isn't completed. People desperately need the Lord.

We prayed that the Lord would return our van and Wednesday it was discovered by the police. It had been stolen by thieves to transport other stolen merchandize. The police got into a chase with the thieves and the van wrecked damaging the front right fender and ruining a tire. They had thrown the seats away to give room to haul their stolen goods.

Unbelievably, the stolen items left in the van were nothing but junk. Nothing of value. These thieves were going around stealing junk! How sad. They risked everything for junk.

I guess that is the deception of the devil. Why would you risk going to jail or getting shot for junk. Only the devil knows. He is really good at blinding people from the truth.

We prayed for them. They ran after the van wrecked and got away. I guess they could come back and do it again. God have mercy on them and save them Stop them from their sinning ways. Capture them so they want hurt others. Save them from their sins, the devil, and themselves. Amen!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

TESTIMONIES

All of us have stories to tell of God's grace and mercy. We call them testimonies in our church. When I grew up as a boy in church sometimes the pastors would call for people to share a testimony of God's goodness. Someone would stand up and share extemporaneously from their heart about an answered prayer or some other good thing the Lord had done. Sometimes we would rejoice or laugh or hold our breathe depending on what was being shared. The desire was to give God glory and encourage others in the faith.

Monday night Wanda and I went to a Christmas banquet for ministers. Part of the program was a testimony given by a pastor's wife who is a cancer survivor. She dwelt with cancer 26 years ago only to see it return twice again and even more severe. Yet, by God's grace, she is again cancer free.

Her words encouraged everyone as she shared how she had overcome stage 4 cancer. She gave glory to God. She encouraged everyone that no matter what they were facing that they could make it.

There were a few who wiped tears as she shared from her heart. It made me realize even more the importance of trusting God through all the bad times. God is faithful.

It is helpful to write our testimonies of answered prayer down to read and reread. They serve as reminders of God's faithfulness. Our memories are short and we fail to see the faithfulness of God.

So what is your testimony? Is it one of faith that will bless others? If yes, then share it. Bless others. Give God the glory. Let it build your faith today.

Monday, December 3, 2012

A WHALE OF A GAME

Alabama played Georgia for the SEC Football Championship this past Saturday. As you know, I am a longtime, life-long Alabama fan, but I do like the Georgia's football coach and have rooted for Georgia too. However, when it comes to playing Alabama there is only one team and that is Alabama for sure.

The game was as an exciting of a game as you could hope to see. The score went back and forth with huge momentum swings. To  be honest, I thought Georgia was going to win the game. They held a 10 point lead well into the third quarter of play, and then almost won in on the last play of the game after Alabama made a heroic comeback.

Whew! That was a nail biter.

Alabama won 32-28.

Now it is on to the National Championship game against Notre Dame which will be played after the New Year. It is a ways down the road, but will be here soon enough.

I think this would be Alabama's 15th National Championship if we're fortunate to win. It should be a great game.

Wanda and I went for  a walk Sunday evening just before dark, and I had my Alabama hat and shirt on. One of the neighbors yelled out that he had rooted for Georgia. He said that Alabama had been there and done that. He is right, but how sweet it is.

I wish there could have been two winners, but they don't do that. I hate it for Georgia but love it for Bama.

Roll Tide!

Friday, November 30, 2012

DID YOU WIN?

I heard this funny years ago.

A man prayed every Saturday night to God that he would win the lottery. Week after week he lost and never won a dime. One Saturday night as he was praying to God to win a voice came out of heaven and said, "Buy a ticket!"

If you don't buy a ticket then you don't win. Or do you?

Millions upon millions bought Powerball Lottery tickets for the chance of winning over $587.5 million. Now that is a lot of dough. Over $1 BILLION was spent to buy tickets.

But I wonder:

How many spent money they really did have to buy tickets?
How many children had needs unmet because of money wasted on lottery tickets?
How many people were encouraged by this huge lottery to trust more in the lottery than God?
How does the lottery impacts the moral fiber of our Nation in more flesh feelings than Spirit feelings?

They say that there is only 1 in 175,000,000 chance of winning the lottery anyhow. So why put your eggs in that basket? Some may argue that they only spent a dollar or so. That's not much they think. What can that hurt?

A friend recently commented this about the lottery: "The lottery is a voluntary tax on ignorance. You can't pay it without qualifying first."

Ha!

Well, here is my two cents worth. I don't think that buying a lottery ticket will send anyone to hell, but I just don't like the idea of taking advantage of others to maybe get a little or lot out of it.

If you bought a ticket, I have no beef with you, but I think there is a higher way to live. Trusting or playing the lottery isn't one of them.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

HAVE YOUR LAUGHED TODAY?


Life is serious and should be taken seriously. However, life lived too seriously leads to fear, anxiety, depression, and misery. That is not God’s will. There is a time for all things, and there is a time to laugh too. 

I believe it helps to laugh daily and often. Take a lesson from children. They can laugh easily, quickly, and over the smallest things. Look at how happy they are and how much energy they have. If you need cheering up, go find a group of children and let them tickle your funny bone. You will be the better for it. They will help take away the blues, and lift your spirits.

Did you hear about the new drive through prayer ministry at the Catholic church? It is called “toot and tell”.  Now come on, laugh a little. 

What does laughter do?
  1. Releases tension.
  2. Lightens the moment.
  3. Renews your mind.
  4. Strengthens your body.
  5. Straightens your perspective.
  6. Heals.
  7. Makes you look better.

God made us with with the ability to laugh. He gives eternal joy that makes for peace and rest. The Bible is filled with humor and your life needs laughter. So don’t take yourself, your situation, or your future too serious. Lighten up and laugh. Your faith will grow. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

CLOUD NINE

While eating one of our meals this past Thanksgiving weekend with the girls and kiddies, one of them mentioned that Claudia had said that papa was going to be on "Cloud Nine". She had said that to all of them in the car riding up to see us. When asked why I was going to be on cloud nine, she said because we are coming. I think she knew that having the grandkids around puts me on "Cloud Nine". She is right.

I love their smiles and giggles and wiggles and action packed living. They have such good hearts. They're all still small and soak in everything around them. They are incredible.



Years ago I laughed at grandparents who doted over their grandkids. I thought that was so silly. Boy, did I ever have something to learn. They are your legacy. They are special beyond special for they are from you.

We were out at the zoo again this past Friday. Everyone who didn't go to "Black Friday" was out at the zoo. It was packed.

While walking down the way, Claudia pulled me close and said, "I've got your kisses" and she kissed and kissed on me. Now that is why she knew I was going to be on "Cloud Nine". They were home and we were having a ball.

Another reason I was on "Cloud Nine" was because they all make me feel special. Nic brought a bird feeder that he had made for Wanda and me. It was hand made from a heart of love. Wow, aren't they something.

I'm walking on Cloud Nine.

Friday, November 23, 2012

MOMMY'S HELPER

We've had Julie and Jennifer and their kiddies here for Thanksgiving. What fun!

Wanda is getting better, but I am still not letting her do anything. She is frustrated about it as she isn't one to sit around. She is a doer, but that is the way it is.

I did all the Thanksgiving dinner shopping which is by far the most grocery shopping I have done in my life. I went to Publix on Tuesday afternoon after work with a million other people, or at least it seemed that way.

The only salvation for me was the Wanda downloaded a Publix app on her IPad and made a grocery list that I could get on a Publix app on my IPhone. The whole list was there in order according to the aisles of the Publix store we shop. All I had to do was go down the aisles one by one picking up the items on my list and then checking them off. That was huge.



I prepared the turkey per Wanda's instructions and the girls cooked the sides. Claudia helped too. She is a cute little thing. She loves to help. And she loves her papa!

Everything turned out great. We all gave thanks for different things and then I prayed and we enjoyed a delicious turkey and sides. I'm still full.

God is so good. I give Him thanks for every blessing of life.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A PRAYER OF THANKS



I will admit it. Though I have prayed over my food before I eat all my life, I will be honest and say that far too often I have prayed more out of habit than sincere thankfulness. My parents taught me that we always pray over our food before we eat, and I have done that. But sometimes, it was too perfunctory than truly spiritual.

That changed a few years back. Now the Lord’s blessings and goodness mean more. I realize that all that I have comes from the goodness of God. Without God given breathe, I have no life. I am nothing except for His love, mercy, and kindness.

It is easy to take food, health, and life for-granted. We easily feel that we deserve what we have. We did it. We got it. We may not say it, but our actions at prayer time betray us. 

A thankful heart is one that acknowledges all of God’s provisions. It notes the goodness of the Lord in everything. Gratitude should be primary in our attitude of life. Oh, give thanks for the Lord is good.

So, I have made an honest confession. Now, what about you? Have fallen into the trap of lame thankfulness? Are you thankful just on Thanksgiving Day? Are you too proud to acknowledge God’s loving kindness and faithfulness to you. Have you allowed long, hard, continual trials to blind your heart to the truth and reality of God’s goodness? 

Lift up your eyes to the Lord and give Him thanks for all He has done. Pray with gratitude. God will take note and bless you more. Thanksgiving Day is coming, but thanks-living is year round. Give thanks to the Lord for He is good!




Monday, November 19, 2012

DOES IT END?

Men come home from work at the end of the day. Life is good. Payday is Friday. The weekend is off time. Football games last all weekend. Riding Big Red is ahead. Life is good.

But what about the end of the day for the Lady of the House? When does their work week end. When is pay day?

Well, I am learning again the work of the Lady of the House doesn't end.

Wanda is mending and I'm in charge of all the chores. It is me. She can't do anything. She is off until she heals and that is down the road.

I have had dear friends who have brought in some meals. That helps, but I've cooked all the other meals. Loaded and unloaded the dish washer. Washed the clothes. Made sure everything is straight. The list goes on but I won't say much because it will sound like I'm complaining.

Wanda is a great Lady of the House. She is a wonderful wife, mother, grandmother, and preacher's wife. I am blessed.

So, I have happily taken over until she is back on duty. I do help daily around here even when she isn't ill. I make bed every morning and help in other ways that I won't go into lest I sound like I'm bragging. It really is only fair to help some because why should my workday and workweek end and the Lady of the House never get off?

I told Wanda that the dishwasher gets full over and over and over again. It just doesn't end. That's life. It is daily. Load and unload. Load and unload. Over and over again. I will rejoice and be glad and rejoice more when Wanda is well again.

She is the best. I am blessed.

Friday, November 16, 2012

GOOD FRIENDS

Friendship makes life meaningful. It adds fulness and blessing. It is comfort and joy. It limits boredom and aids when there is need.

How do you make great friendship? It begins with friendliness. To have a friend starts with being friendly. It is developed by investment. It is bonded by unqualified acceptance.

Friends come in when others go out. They stand when others fall. They support when others critique. They speak truth in love and then help smooth out the rough places.

Wanda and I are blessed with wonderful friends who are so kind and thoughtful. I could call names but someone would be left out. That wouldn't be fair.

Lord, help me to be a good friend. Help me to see other's needs. Help me to be like you.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

TAKING CARE OF WANDA

On Tuesday Wanda had surgery to repair a hernia. It was an hour long surgery and thankfully all went well. The doctor says that she will be good and new in a few weeks, but she can't pick up anything over 5 pounds for several weeks and then no more than 10 pounds after that for another few weeks. It is painful and slow recovery.



That is where I come in. I get to baby and pamper her until she is good and new. That will be easy. Why? Because she works so hard to take good care of me. It will be a pleasure to help her through recovery.

We began our marriage with several agreements.

First, we agreed that whatever was important to one was important to the other.

Second, we agreed to working daily to have a great marriage.

Both of us have followed through on this commitment and it is working. Yes, we have to work at it, but by working at it we're the beneficiaries of a blessed and happy marriage.

So what will I do to take care of her?

1. Let her rest and heal.
2. Take care of the house chores that require daily attention--some cooking, cleaning, straightening, etc.
3. Lift her spirits by encouragement and kindness.
4. Most of all, to pay attention to what she needs.

This is a great lady and I want her to heal totally and quickly.

Oh, back to the marriage agreement thing. We have prayed daily for each other and with each other. That is huge. God is our helper and gives joy and peace. That makes marriage fantastic.

Monday, November 12, 2012

SO PROUD OF DAD AND MAX

Saturday, Wanda and I drove down to Fruitland Park to celebrate with Dad as he received a special honor as the oldest veteran living in their community. They honored him by giving him an American Flag which had flown over the U.S. Capital in Washington D.C. It had also flown on their community flag pole since Memorial Day. 

Max and his wife, Darlene, were there too to join the special day. Dad also serves as their community chaplain and offered prayer as the brief ceremony began. That made me proud too. 

They pulled the flag down and folded it and then gave it to Dad. He had served in the U.S. Navy during World War II along with thousands of other service personnel. Some say this was the greatest generation. I would agree.



After Dad received his flag, he called Max up to the front with him and then gave Max his flag. Max had also served in the Navy on a nuclear submarine. I can't imagine how he was able to make 3 month tours submerged. That takes more than I have.



It was a tender moment for both Dad and Max. I also touched me too. I saw numerous people wiping tears as Dad honored his son. 

Thank God for all of our veterans. I am thankful to Dad and Max for their service. They make me proud. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

HAVE YOUR LAUGHED TODAY?


Life is serious and should be taken seriously. However, life lived too seriously leads to fear, anxiety, depression, and misery. That is not God’s will. There is a time for all things, and there is a time to laugh too. 

I believe it helps to laugh daily and often. Take a lesson from children. They can laugh easily, quickly, and over the smallest things. Look at how happy they are and how much energy they have. If you need cheering up, go find a group of children and let them tickle your funny bone. You will be the better for it. They will help take away the blues, and lift your spirits.

Did you hear about the new drive through prayer ministry at the Catholic church? It is called “toot and tell”.  Now come on, laugh a little. 

What does laughter do?
  1. Releases tension.
  2. Lightens the moment.
  3. Renews your mind.
  4. Strengthens your body.
  5. Straightens your perspective.
  6. Heals.
  7. Makes you look better.

God made us with with the ability to laugh. He gives eternal joy that makes for peace and rest. The Bible is filled with humor and your life needs laughter. So don’t take yourself, your situation, or your future too serious. Lighten up and laugh. Your faith will grow. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

IN GOD WE TRUST

I am writing this post before the election results are tabulated. I do not know who will be our next President as I write. God knows, but at this point He is the only one who knows. The election appears to be a toss up. It could go either way. To me that is very telling about our Nation and our values.

It seems impossible to believe that we would elect someone who supports and pushes partial birth abortions. It seem impossible that we would chose a President who does not value marriage as being solely between a man and a woman. It seems impossible that we would elect a President who promotes a socialist agenda and a godless society.

Could we elect such a person?

We already have done  that in the last election, and by the time your read this we may have elected him again. I pray not, but it could happen.

Regardless of who wins this Presidential election, our Nation must return to God. Sin is a reproach, but righteousness exalts a Nation. How do we get rid of sin? We repent. We turn from our wicked ways. We put God first and follow in all of His ways.

My commitment is to do all I can no matter who wins this election to proclaim the truth and righteousness of God. Jesus is the way, the truth, the life. When we go His ways and walk in His truth the results is abundant life. That is what He has promised. God has promised abundant life through Jesus Christ Our Lord.

I have prayed diligently for months over this election. However, I believe our turn around as a people is not dependent upon who is in the White House, but rather it is dependent upon who is Lord in our house. If Jesus is Lord of the hearts, homes, and lives of God's people then all will be well.

I am praying that God will help me as a preacher to proclaim the righteousness of God. I am praying that God will send a revival into my heart and the hearts of pastors and church across America. I am praying the we will return to the Lord and walk in His ways. Then God will heal our Land.

A new President will help America, but revival is the only true answer to the needs of our Land.

Monday, November 5, 2012

I'VE VOTED

It is time for a real change in the political, spiritual, and economic landscape of America. I don't know when I have ever had a greater burden for our Nation and our future. Voting has consequences just as any other action of our lives. This National election has serious consequences for our future. We must vote.

Early voting or absentee voting is one way to go, so I have chosen to vote early. The line wasn't long. In fact I didn't have a line or wait. I voted at the San Marco Library just minutes from our church last Wednesday.

Now across our Nation, we'll be counting the votes late Tuesday evening. I pray that America votes with values in mind. I pray America votes for economic freedom. I pray that wicked, godless leaders will be put out of office.

How can you vote for a President who believes it is okay to abort a new born coming out of its mother's womb? I cannot imagine taking a newborn's life. How wicked. Abortion is wrong, period!

So I've voted, and now I'll pray. Oh, I've been praying daily for this election long before now, but I'll pray even harder. The choice is clear. We can continue on the path to socialism and a godless society, or we can vote to put new leaders in with godly values.

That was an easy vote for me. I pray it will be an easy decision for others on Election Day.

Friday, November 2, 2012

GONE CAMPING

I am headed this weekend to a camping outing with the Royal Rangers of our church. This is a ministry outreach to young boys similar to Boy Scouts but with a Christian emphasis. There are around 25 or so who are going including three of my grandsons. I wish all my grands could be there, but this will be a special time for me with Alex, Nic, and Lorenzo.

The weather outlook is great. There is no rain forecast, and the high each day is projected to be in the mid 70's. Sounds great.

Wanda and I have enjoying camping a number of times this past year. Some time it was cold, too cold. A couple times it was hot, but we still had fun.



What is so much fun about camping?

1. The wonderful outdoors.
2. Getting away from pressure.
3. Doing something different.
4. Enjoying a campfire.
5. Outdoor cooking.
6. Long walks.
7. Listening to outdoor sounds.

This weekend the sounds will be louder with all those boys, but it isn't about me this weekend. It is about bonding with my grandsons. It is about letting them know I love them. It is about helping them see God's creation. It is about making sure they know the most important thing in all the world is God and family. It is about laughing, loving, and learning.

We've gone camping. I pray all the above happens.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

SHAKE IT OFF

I love reading daily devotionals. They speak to my heart and often confirm God's will and direction for me. God's Word is the primary source of devotionals for me, but I also love reading thoughts that others have written that have Biblical support.

One that I read is God's Word for You Today. On Monday it included the following story. It was good reading and encouragement. I felt led to share it today.

It reads:

The story’s told of a farmer whose mule fell into a well. Since he had no way to get him out, he decided to bury him there. He got a truckload of dirt and dumped it on top of the mule. But instead of lying down under it, the mule started kicking and snorting until he worked his way to the top of it. This continued all afternoon. Truckload after truckload, the mule just kept shaking it off and stepping on top of it. Finally when the dirt reached the top of the well the mule just snorted and walked away, a dirtier but a wiser mule. What was intended to bury him, just brought him out on top.

Here is the point: Sometimes we have to make a point to shake off things that otherwise would bury us. We don't have to live in depression of dismay due to life's setbacks. We can shake it off and with God's help go forward. 

Paul said to forget those things that are behind and press forward. 

I will do that today. I will shake it off and go forward. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

I'M A PASTOR

God called my to preach, but that has primarily been fulfilled in my life as a pastor. What does a pastor do? That is a multi-faceted question. It doesn't have just one or two simple answers. Admittedly, there are some aspects of being a pastor that are extremely enjoyable, and then there are other aspects.

I have rejoiced and laughed with dear church folks, and then I have wept and cried with them at other times that were tough. There is so much that goes into being a pastor.

I am writing this blog just as Wanda and I head out the door to go pray for a dear church member who will undergo a long 8 hour back surgery today. It is a dangerous surgery that will determine her life quality for years to come. She and and husband need prayers and support.

This past Sunday, our precious church honored us as their pastors. I have served here for 10 years and am grateful for their love and support. They are dear people whom God has put a love and passion for to shepherd them to heaven.

That is my goal. I want to see them all make it to heaven as they grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Oh Lord, please help me to be a good and faithful pastor.

Friday, October 26, 2012

RIDING BIG RED IN AUTUMN

I never thought I would enjoy motorcycle riding. It came late in life. I thought it was to dangerous a thing to do, and it probably is. Yet, I have had a barrel of fun doing it. My most enjoyable rides have been up to the Smokies to view Autumn.

Last week we rode almost 1400 miles from Jacksonville up to Savannah and then Northwest up to the Smokies. The skies were clear and their was a coolest in the air. It was fantastic riding weather. You couldn't ask for better.

Why do I enjoy it so much?

I totally get my mind off things.
I love the outdoors.
The smells are more succinct.
The co-riders are fun people.
The stops for coffee and meals are bonuses.
It is freedom.
It is eye-popping.
It is friendly people.
It is sharing with Wanda.

I love the picture taking too. Here are a few shots from our recent trip.

Enjoy.






Wednesday, October 24, 2012

OUR HELPER

Jesus returned the the Father and has sent The Holy Spirit to us to be with us and to help us. When we have immediate, personal need, Holy Spirit is there. He doesn't leave us or forsake us. He wants us to call on the Lord and to pray in the Spirit. That is more incredible than I can write or describe.

Think of it. God has sent His Spirit to live in us. Wow!

Why would He do such a thing?

It is His love and desire to walk with us and to fellowship with us.

Day by day I am learning the blessing, privilege, and power of the Holy Spirit in my life. He leads in truth. He guides. He corrects. He teaches. He releases fruit and gifts into my life. Oh, how I need the Holy Spirit.

When no one else can be present, He is always present. He walks with me and talks with me. He is real.

Thank you Lord for sending Your Spirit into my life to be my helper. I need you every hour. Thank you for your ever present help in time of need.

You never fail.

Monday, October 22, 2012

JAGUARS LOSE

Ouch!

Another loss by the Jags yesterday that could have been a win. How do they do it? What's wrong with these guys? Can we be that bad?

Football is a game of muscle, will, and determination. I know the ball can bounce the wrong way, but that happens for every team. Sooner or later a team has to own up to how they are playing.

I like the new coach. I think he is a winner, but it hasn't happened yet.

What will it take?

Muscle, will, and determination.

Oh, a maybe a few more good players who have muscle, will, and determination.

We're one of the worst teams in the NFL, but I thought we'd do better than this. We're 1-5 and going down fast. I won't give up yet. I believe. I believe they can do better.

Next week will be another game. Another opportunity. Another chance.

Until then, I hope they work on the muscle, will, and determination. That is what it takes.

Friday, October 19, 2012

GOD CALLED ME

In 1968 God called me into the ministry. I have no doubt. In my inner being God spoke to me and called me to preach. It was more real than you reading this post. He pressed His thumb print into my heart. I still feel it. It is real.

On our recent trip up to the mountains to enjoy the Autumn leaves, we stopped by Anniston, Al, where I grew up as a teenager. God called me into the ministry one Sunday morning in August of 1968. Here is a picture of the church building where Mom and Dad pastored. I am so grateful that He counted me faithful to preach and share His Word.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

RIDING "BIG RED" AGAIN

Wanda and I are off to see the autumn leaves in North Georgia and maybe the Smokies. We're crusin' on "Big Red," with some friends who like to ride motorcycles too. We're hoping to see beautiful reds, and yellows, and oranges if the leave are tuning. You never know how it will be.

Why do I love to ride "Big Red" so much?

I leave my worries behind.

My mind goes to the greater outdoors.

You see more and smell more.

Life seems freer.

People are friendlier.

You never know what is around the next bend.

It is just plain fun.

I'll post some pictures. Hopefully, you can share in the colors of the season too. If you get a chance, pray for our safety. I know motorcycling is fun, but is also dangerous. We'll ride safe. You pray. I know Mom is praying too.

Monday, October 15, 2012

A BEAUTIFUL WEDDING

This past Saturday, Amber, my niece, Amber married Rodney at North Beach in St. Augustine, Fl. It was a beach wedding with the Atlantic as a backdrop and the beautiful beach as the decoration. Amber is a sweet young lady and was a gorgeous bride. We are so proud of her.

She is the daughter of my younger brother, Max, and his wife, Darlene. Most of our family was present to celebrate God's blessings of their lives. My father performed the wedding. Mom and Dad know a little about marriage as they celebrate their 68th anniversary this year. Wow! That is a long time to be married.

Rodney is in the Navy, and so was Dad when he and Mom married. Dad said that he had to get  a 3 day pass when they said "I Do". I don't know if Rodney had to take leave or not.


Jesus loved weddings. He performed His first miracle of turning water into wine in Cana of Galilee. The guests said His wine was the best. I bet everyone was happy with that.

I have performed countless weddings in these 40 years of ministry. Some have been beach ceremonies and others by outdoor pools but most have been church weddings. The setting is not so important as the vows and the commitment to keep the vows. Every couple has to work at having a good marriage. That is a must.

Mark Gungor said "Don't marry, be happy". What did he mean?

He meant that if you marry to "get happy" then your kidding yourself. Get happy and then marry if you choose, but don't marry thinking that will all of a sudden make you happy. It won't happen.

Amber and Rodney looked happy on their wedding day. I pray God blesses them and gives them a long happy marriage.

Friday, October 12, 2012

I'M INOCULATED!

I had my annual physical this week and my doctor encouraged me to take the flu shot and the shingles shot. In the past I've been hesitant to take the flu shot, but this year for some reason I felt different about taking it. So, the nurse stuck me. Wow! I was sore. In the night I started sneezing and cough and having a runny nose. I thought that they had given me the flu, but later that morning the symptoms began to fall away. I still have a slight nasal drain but no other symptoms. PTL!

I sure hope this works. I certainly don't won't the flu bug.

Several years back I had the shingles, and man does that ever hurt. They appeared across the left side of my belly. I didn't have a clue what the problem was. After hurting a few days, I made a doctor's appointment and found that I had shingles. The doctor showed me pictures of others who had severe cases of it, and was I ever thankful that mine were not that bad. Yes, they hurt, but not nearly as bad as they could have.

Hopefully, the shingles shot will keep me from having another bout of them. The shot was painful, but not near as painful as actually having a full fledged bout.

Here is a greater truth:

I have been inoculated by the blood of Jesus Christ. Sin's hold is broken. Death's sting has been taken away. He has freed me from the power of Satan. I'm free. Praise God I'm free.

The flu or shingles are bad enough, but nothing to compare with the sting and impact of sin. Thank God for the blood Jesus Christ. He sets us free.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

CHECKUP TIME

I had my annual physical on Tuesday afternoon. The good news is that I weigh less than the last checkup. My blood pressure is fantastic. Vital signs are good. I am waiting on the lab results to see what my cholesterol is doing. That is usually high, but maybe the lost weight will help that come down too.

Physical exams are good, but daily physical care is better. Eating a balanced diet and daily exercise helps life go better. I feel stronger and am fitter for life.

I am reading through Bible for the fourth time this year and right now I am in the book of Leviticus. It gives specific directions from God to the Israelites about a lot of stuff in life. I am amazed at the clear directions God gave them through Moses. He told them what to do and what to eat and not to eat. All of that was for their good because God loved them.

God is faithful to us to give clear, good, specific directions to a better life. If we will diligently follow them then God has promised life and blessings. This was His promise to the children of Israel but also to us. We just need to checkup and see how we are doing.

My doctor checked in places that I really didn't like. He got kinda personal if you know what I mean, but it was for my good. God  gets even more personal in the deep, hidden places of our lives. He knows everything so there is nothing to hide from Him.

Spiritual checkups are good too. May God take away all in my life that would displease Him. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to Him, my Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.

Monday, October 8, 2012

A NEAR TRAGEDY

Last Friday I worked for several hours pulling weeds and trimming shrubbery in our yard. It was hot, humid, and tough work. I actually was enjoying being outside and being productive, but it was tiring. Stooping over and over to pull weeds and trim is one way to trim the waistline. It was working.

In the front of our yard are several cactus plants that have to have attention every so often with weeding too. You have to be very careful or they'll spear you or cut you. They are also very toxic. If you get any juice from those plants on you, then you'll pay. They can scar or even kill.

I have read that these plants make natural guards for forts or houses in that no one would dare get close, especially at night. Believe me, I have be pricked by these cactus more than once.

Because of that I take extra care when working around them. Friday, I had worked an hour or more before getting to these cactus. As I worked around them, I used gloves and a long hoe to keep me away from them.

I carefully bent down to pull a weed out by hand, and then it happened

All of a sudden my cheek bone jolted. Pain pierce me. I could not see. Blood flowed down my face. It happened before I could stop it. A hard, long, pointed bayonette jabbed into my upper cheekbone. It went lightening fast into my cheek and banged on the bone of my cheek.

I stumbled backward unaware of what exactly happened. When I gained composure, I realized I could see, but was hurting severely. The sharp end of a cactus blade had cut into my face less than an inch from my eye. I was hurting and bleeding, but I could see.

Earlier that morning, Wanda and I had prayed over our day and asked God for his blessing and protection. I lifted my hand and gave thanks that I could see and had not lost vision in my left eye.

I am totally convinced that I would have lost my left eye if that blade had hit me only an inch of so higher. God was merciful to me. I am grateful more than I can say. I haven't had any infection or irritation. My lower eye socket is both black and red, but I can see.

Thank God, I can see.

Friday, October 5, 2012

BODY LANGUAGE

Can you tell what is happening in a person by how they stand? Or look at you? Or by facile expressions? Do they have to say anything for you to know? Or get the point? Or hear them?

Body language by a raised fist means something. So does turning your back, or looking down, or frowning, or scowling, or kicking, or even going to sleep.

Body language speaks volumes. You can hear the person whether they have ever uttered a word. You catch their tone, their attitude, their priority, even their values.

I watched with amusement as the first Presidential debate took place Wednesday night.

One guy looked bored, disinterested, sheepish, dispassionate, disrespectful, and un-Presidential.

The other stood confident, looked passionate, courteous, and bold.

All day the pundits have been sizing up the results and everyone, including the President's supporters, gave the challenger the win by a huge margin. I won't repeat the debate, but I couldn't help but focus on the body language. It was evident that one guy didn't have a clue or really care.

****

Today is the 601st post of this blog. Man, that is hard to believe, but it is true. It seems like yesterday that I was writing the first post. I enjoy writing a few thoughts each week, and appreciate those who read and respond from time to time.

My goal is to encourage people to choose the better part of life.

I hope I have done that from time to time.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A NOSE RING?

I asked Wanda if she would wear a nose ring if I bought her one. Now, slow down before you think I am crazy. I haven't bought her one and I don't plan on buying one. I was reading in Genesis where Abraham's servant gave a nose ring to Rebecca after she said she would go with him to become Isaac's wife. I have read that verse many times before, but this time it caught my attention.

I like various forms of jewelry and have bought Wanda a number of pieces. She like nice things like most women, but I hadn't thought about buying a nose rise.

For some a nose ring might be just the thing. I like ear rings and rings on fingers and bracelets and necklaces, but I just hadn't really contemplated a nose ring.

From a biblical standpoint, I guess nose rings were ok with God. Abraham, God's man, had given this gift to be given to Isaac's bride to be. Surely Abraham would not have given a gift that wasn't pleasing to the Lord.

So, I guess nose rings are pleasing to the Lord, but not pleasing to Wanda.

That is ok with me too. That is not my favorite type of jewelry either.


Monday, October 1, 2012

WHO IS ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER?

I seldom watch the TV program 60 Minutes, but I watched a short segment of it Sunday evening. It was an interview with a former body builder, movie star, governor, and international personality. The program was sad. It was really sad.

Arnold told of an affair that he had with a housemaid while he was Governor of California. He fathered a child with the maid, and hid it from his wife and family. He was living a double life that led to shame, embarrassment, and ridicule.

He said it was the stupidest thing he has ever done. I can't speak for that, but I can say that his admission is sin. I can say that it hurt his family. I can say that a little boy will never know that love of a "real" father because of his stupidity.

My heart breaks for those who have been deceived by Satan's lies. Too often the results of sin don't settle in until it is too late and huge damage has been done.

The good news is that God forgives. The good news is that God redeems. The good news it that restoration is possible.

Here is better news.

God can keep you from sin's damage and shame. Through Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, we can overcome the wicked one.

Arnold's wife, Maria, left him and has filed for a divorce. Now their four children will face a broken home. To be honest, I was a little aggravated about how the news caster exposed Schwarzenegger's sin, but the media has given the Kennedy (Maria's family) men a pass for their infidelities. There is a huge double standard going on there.

Here is the take-a-way.

Don't give way to sin. Go home to your wife. Protect your family. Don't let Satan win. Live in life and liberty through Christ Jesus. Don't live in shame.

Friday, September 28, 2012

FORTY DAYS OF PRAYER

Forty days from today we will have a National Election that will determine our future and maybe even survival. We have a President who honors Muslims more than Christians. We have a President who supports partial birth abortions. We have a President who is opposed to traditional marriage as defined as being between a man and a women. We have a President that believes that the government has the right to take from one person and give it to another. We have a President who embraces Socialism over personal freedoms and rights. We have a President who does not support Israel.

This President needs to be replaced so we can survive as a Nation and as a Christian Nation.

I am choosing to turn off TV, Internet, Radio, Newspaper sources and spend that same amount of time in prayer believing God to intervene and give us godly leaders.

Righteousness exalts and Nation, but sin is a reproach.

This President has promoted sinful and wicked ways. He is an unholy deceiver. He should be characterized as the Bible characterized leaders in the Old Testament who walked unfaithfully as wicked leaders.

That is a strong characterization, but it is true.

II Chronicles 7:14 calls on us to pray for our Nation and as we repent of our sins then God will hear and heal our Land. That is our only hope.

I fear for my children and grandchildren, but I will turn my fear into faith and pray. God answers prayer and He still loves America. Please join me daily in praying for our Nation and this election. Only God can spare us the fate and consequences of wicked leaders.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A DUMB FOOTBALL CATCH

The NFL Monday Night Football game ended with a sour play, especially for the Packers. The temporary Refs ruled that the Seahawk's player caught a touchdown pass on the last play of the game that gave them the win. It was a very close call and now a hotly disputed call that has made lots of people mad. The temporary referees are filling in for the regular refs who are locked out by the NFL owners due to a contract dispute.

Now everyone is hating the temporary refs and it is getting blown way out of proportion. The play was on the evening national news last night. Unbelievable! This is national news?

Now don't get me wrong. I love football. I really love Alabama football, but this is ridiculous.

It is only a game. This isn't life or death. Who in the world will care a hoot about this a year from now.

It was only a dumb football catch.

Life needs to be put into perspective. We need to pay attention to what really matters. So what matters?
Glad you asked.

1. God matters.
2. Being saved matters.
3. Family matters.
4. Lost ones being saved matters.
5. Friends matter.
6. Friends being saved matters.
7. A lost world matters.
8. A lost world being saved matters.

There are other priorities that that follow that are way above a dumb football catch, but those eight priorities are the top and bottom lines of life.

When Noah and his family got into the ark and the rains fell, obeying the Lord and believing in God mattered. Everyone else was lost.

So, how are you doing on what really matters?

Monday, September 24, 2012

GREAT FRIENDS EQUALS GOOD TIMES

For several months Wanda had been real excited about dear friends from Bartow coming to visit us. I had been looking forward to their coming too. I was their pastor in the 80's. They are dear precious people and lots of fun.

Cindy, Sheila and Chuck, Debbie and Roger, and Sue arrived Saturday afternoon and stayed with us until after Sunday dinner. Their visit brought back wonderful memories when I was their pastor as well as Wanda's pastor. I performed Cindy and Royce's wedding. Royce had to work and couldn't come. Now they have grandkids. Wow, time flies.



It is thrilling to see all that God is doing in their lives. Sue has a powerful testimony of healing that I asked her to share in part in Sunday church.  Debbie was Wanda's hair dresser for many years. Roger loves to fish so we took him and the gang out to the Jax Beach Pier to see the fishermen. I think he'd like to come back and wet a hook or two.  Sheila and Chuck were a real blessing to Wanda in so many ways all those years she live in Bartow.

We gave them the short tour around Jacksonville from the beach to the Jacksonville Landing on the St. Johns's River downtown. Jacksonville is a neat city with a lot of things to do. I think they loved seeing some of the sights of Jacksonville.

Wanda prepared some delicious meals, desserts, and snacks. I gained weight. It was good food and great fellowship. It was the first time that we had the privilege of having any of Wanda's friends from Bartow in our home. It was just a very special time. We laughed over old stories from the past and had such a super time. Laughter is like medicine. He heals the souls and calms the mind.

Christians  can have a great time with no regrets or shame. None of us have a hang over or sad story. Life's greatest blessings are family and friends. We loved having them.

Good times!

Oh, and one more thing. They wanted to take Wanda back to Bartow with them and I said, "NO WAY!" I can't make it without her. She's special!

Friday, September 21, 2012

LEARNING MORE ABOUT PRAYER

From my earliest remembrance, prayer has always been a part of my life. I remember praying to ask Christ into my life when I was between five or six years old. In fact that is one of my earliest memories of life. I have a few recollections of things that occurred in my life before that prayer, but they are very sketchy.

Prayer is huge. I mean we're talking about talking to God. You can't go any higher than God. When you think about that, then prayer takes another monumental leap.

I am learning more about how God wants to be involved in my life in little and big things. Nothing goes by without God taking notice. Even more than that is the incredible privilege of personal, private, one on one communication with the Supreme, Sovereign Creator of everything.

Through all these years my prayer time has included all manner of communication, at all hours, in so many varied places. Prayer should happen more than just on Sundays, or crisis moments, or times of need. God desires to have an on going dialogue.

I have found that God is an incredible listener. He listens, and listens, and listens. I am finding out that sometimes I need to be quieter in my prayer times and listen to Him. After all, who am I that He would listen to me so much. I know He cares and is more that interested, but I am learning more and more to listen. I need to hear what He has to say.

Oh, God, please help me today to listen and hear your voice and obey. Amen!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

I DARE YOU

Taking a dare has consequences if you follow through with the dare. A double-dogged dare has even more serious consequences. Have you ever taken a dare. Now remember when you were a kid. We all uttered dares or took others up on dares when we were small.

Little boys were the worst. We'd double-dog dare someone to a race, or fight, or fool-hearty feat. Sometimes the dares had serious results. That isn't good.

Today I dare you to find someone who is totally unsuspecting and do a selfless, act of love. Give them an unsolicited compliment. Do a good turn for someone who cannot and will not ever repay it. Offer smiles everywhere you go.

I dare you!

Maybe we should have a "National Good Dare Day". I certainly think our politictians could use a Nations Good Dare Day. We'd be a better Nation for it.

I dare to give five compliments to a loved one who is down.
I dare you to befriend a neighbor in need.
I dare you to open doors for others today.
I dare you to pay a bill for someone in need.
I dare you to volunteer for a new task at your church.
I dare you to tell a joke to someone who needs a laugh.
I dare you shut your mouth before any unkind word comes out.
I dare you to ask God for guidance in doing His will today.

I double-dog dare you!

Monday, September 17, 2012

JUST LISTEN

Someone has to listen for communication to happen. There is more to sharing than just talking. It helps to listen. Sometimes I don't do a very good job of listening. I am a preacher by calling which makes me inclined to proclaim, or preach, or teach, or talk. Preachers can talk and talk and talk.

Listening requires focus, patience, and a good measure of care. Listening puts more attention on the other party and what they consider as important. Their words become the center of attention, not yours. That raises the level of consideration and value of the other.

Love listens. It places higher importance on what is on the other's mind.

God is love and He listens.

Why don't men listen very good?

We are easily distracted. We don't multi-task very well. We need to raise the level of love. We must realize that what is important to our mate must be important to us.

Something funny happened as I started writing this blog. Wanda asked me a question and needed my attention. I listened some, but she had to repeat. She then asked me what I was writing. To be perfectly honest about it, I couldn't bring myself to tell her that I was writing on my very failure at the exact moment she was talking. I wasn't listening very well.

Ha!

What did I do?

I closed the computer and listened until we had clearly communicated. She talked. I listened. I understood. I got it. Clear communication took place. That is important.

Now, here is another take a way. Pause in your prayer life. Don't talk. Focus. Wait. Be patient. God will speak. You will hear. Communication will take place. Prayer is more than asking. The better part is the listening part.

Friday, September 14, 2012

GOOD HABITS

I am reading a great book by Chip Ingram entitled Good to Great in God's Eyes. It is inspiring and motivational. Some of the chapter titles are:

Think Great Thoughts
Read Great Books
Pursue Great People
Dream Great Dreams
Develop Great Habits

Develop Great Habits is the last chapter in Chip's book, but I read it first. That is a bad habit that I have. Ha!

It takes about 21 days to establish a new habit and maybe even longer to break a bad habit. All of us do things habitually. We have patterns that we repeat over and over. New things and new ways crimp our style. We get stuck in the routine. The same ole becomes same ole.

Benjamin Franklin once said that if you take all your good habits and subtract all your bad habits, the results is your contribution to society.

Some habits can't be improved like reading your Bible, or praying, or regularly attending church, or treating others the way we desire to be treated.

But we all have bad habits.

I asked my staff in our last meeting to share with us one good habit and one bad habit. It was interesting and inspiring. We all felt good about the good habits and we all felt and need and motivation to break bad ones.

I share one habit that I have lived with for probably 30 plus years. I established a personal devotional habit of making sure that I had read 5 chapters in the Bible every day before I did any sermon preparation. Why do that? Because the temptation for ministers is to read the Bible to "get" a new sermon. That leads to a professional, prideful, non-relational walk with the Lord. That is dangerous.

Oh, I have some bad habits too.

Like, eating too fast, or watching too much football, or tending to put off doing things I don't like. I am working on all of those, well, except football. After all, it is football season, and Alabama is # 1.

Roll Tide!

Opps!


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

TWO LEFT SHOES

Wanda and I were headed to church early  this past Saturday for a special work day. We left just in time to be on time, but got down the road when Wanda said she had brought two different shoes. She had gotten into the car wearing flip flops but was going to change into a pair of tennis shoes. The problem was she had hurriedly pick up two different shoes.

I thought silently, "Well, you could just wear them." But I didn't say it. I was quietly, silently aggravated.

Then she said, "I'd wear them, but they are both left footed shoes."

That broke the aggravation. We laughed hard. I turned around and rushed back to get a right foot shoe for her to wear. Then we headed to church to work. It was a great day.

Here is the deal. None of us are perfect, but we see the flaws of others clearer than we see our own flaws.

On Tuesday I headed for church and work and left my cell phone at home. That may sound small and simple, but here is the point. It was aggravating and hindered my work. I use the IPhone throughout the day because of all the info and data it contains.

Kindness and mercy is a good gift to give. It helps to laugh at life's little flub ups. They are inevitable for all of us. I am really glad my aggravation didn't show or even worse that I didn't say something really smart to Wanda about her tennis shoe flub up. It helps in life if we build up our grace account with others so that when we need some grace our account isn't overdrawn.

Real love doesn't get upset over two left shoes.

Monday, September 10, 2012

OOPS! MISSED OPPORTUNITIES....

Well it is football season in full swing. Alabama is #1, but the Jags are losing again already. They had victory snatched by the jaws of defeat. With 20 seconds left in regulation, they went up by 3 points with a miraculous pass for a touchdown only to let the opposing team (The Vikings) tie it and then win it in overtime.

Rats!

What a bummer!

I danced a premature jig when they went up by 3 and then slumped in sadness when they lost in overtime.

It was a missed opportunity.

Everbank, one of their sponsors, has a commercial they have planned far too many times about missed opportunities. It features a TV exec who laughs at a proposal for a channel for music. He laughs and says, "Why not a weather channel or food channel or sports channel?" Of course all of those channels are big time now. That was a missed opportunity by the exec.

Yes, the Jags missed one big opportunity, but there are far larger missed opportunities in life than losing a football game.

Like missing the chance to offer a good word.
Or forgiving someone.
Or doing a good deed.
Or praying for someone.
Or sharing the Gospel.

I wonder how many missed opportunities I have had. God help me to be more sensitive to His voice and the needs of others.

And God help the Jags. They really need it.

Friday, September 7, 2012

NOW IT IS OFFICIAL

I have only watched a few moments of the recent Deomcratic Convention. It is hard to stomach their support of abortion, gay rights, and socialism. Now they are on record of officially booing God. Yes, sadly it is so. They loudly booed the inclusion of God in their platform.

God is not a Republican or Democrat but the Democrats have gone to an all time low. They have applauded a whoremonger who introduced and nominated their candidate and they have booed God.

I wonder what God thinks of all this?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

SEEK THE LORD

Wanda and I are spending most of this week in prayer seeking the Lord for His guidance, will, and blessing over our lives and family. I believe there are answers to prayer that are on the way. Waiting on God provides far greater results than waiting in any other place in life such as doctor's offices, banks, or certainly red lights. Yet, we wait endlessly in those settings.

I am praying Jabez's prayer over my life and family. God will answer. I know He will.
See I Chronicles 4: 9-10.

There is much to do but prayer is the beginning of success. Without it I surely will fail.

Monday, September 3, 2012

IT'S LABOR DAY

Work is a good habit. It is productive. It is ego boosting. It completes tasks. It is a promised part of life.

The Bible notes, no worky, no eaty!

Well, that is not exactly how it reads, but it does say that if one is not willing to work then they should not eat by handouts . How is that for eliminating the need for welfare. I know that there are times when people need a helping hand, but there is a huge difference from a hand out and a helping hand.

My first small tasks were making my bed, putting clothes in the clothes hamper, and washing cars. That progressed to cutting the yard, cleaning the church, and working as a deliveryman for a furniture company. I have worked on construction sites, washing dishes at the college cafeteria, serving as a librarian, working in the credit department at Sears, as a youth intern, youth pastor, school teacher, pastor, traveling evangelist, denominational leader, and probably some other jobs too.

I will admit I have worked for pay. The workman is worthy of his hire the Bible teaches. I have also worked to follow what I have felt God was calling me to do regardless of pay. I still have vision, desire, and burden to preach and lead a church. That is my calling.

Completed tasks make for a good feeling. Completed tasks make you feel productive and that you have personal value.

Wanda has a "to do" list on her IPad for me that automatically carries over into my IPad and IPhone. These are household items or her "Honey Do" list. There are several items on that list right now, but I have completed some of the tasks that she has for me. Of course there are many tasks that we share that are not on the list.

I created a "To Do" list on my IPad that goes to her's. It is titled "Wanda's To Do List". Want to know what is on it? Just one "To Do" item. It simply says: Keep a Smile on Milton's Face. Ha!

Work is what life is all about. That is the nature of life. There will always be work to do. It's Labor Day, so let's celebrate the day and the privilege and ability to work.

I've got a smile on my face. How about you?

Friday, August 31, 2012

WICKED LEADERS


I have been amazed in the Bible how God is so clear about His evaluation of leaders and those who ruled over Israel. Over and over, the various Kings of Israel who sinned and did wrong were described as wicked and ungodly. Their sins brought harsh judgement on the people. God doesn't mince words when describing wicked and ungodly leaders.

That word "wicked" is a strong word to describe anyone, yet that is the word God used concerning many of the rulers over Israel. It means evil or morally wrong, vile. corrupt, or iniquitous. Those are clear, condemning, and concise. They describe many of our leaders today.

How quickly the slide of sin moves. It starts so very slow without hardly a notice and continues until there is no way to stop the ever fast rolling snowball, exempt one.

That is to repent, plead for the covering of the Blood of Jesus, and turn from the backsliding of sin. I am praying daily for the Lord to bring our Nation, people, and leaders to repentance and to honor God again in our Country.

Sin is a reproach to any people the Bible notes. Righteousness exalts a people. Only by repentance can we see the harm and judgement of sin removed. I am further praying that God will remove leaders who give false lip service to believing in Him but whose hearts are far from Him.

Our Nation is at a crossroads of crisis. Unless wicked leaders are removed, the sting of sin will bring more harm. Judgement will come. The aftermath will be severe. The wage of sin is always death.

May God call our Nation to repentance and Churches to true revival. May there be a return to holiness of the heart and home. May God have mercy on us and forgive us of our sins.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

FEELING THE STRAIN

Tuesday morning I did my normal routine of prayer, devotions, and working out before going to work. It usually takes me about 2 hours to do all of that and then I get dressed and ready for the day. For several months I have been doing this routine and it is paying off. I feel better in every way. My muscles and body feel better and I am stronger and fit for the day.

Admittedly, some mornings I feel the strain of stretching my muscles with weights and pushups and running, but it is worth it. It helps me think clearer and function better.

Someone said that there is no gain without some pain. Now I am not into desiring lots of pain, but I am for striving to be my best.

I read in the Book of Jeremiah that there is a curse on those who are lax in dong the Lord's work. (Jeremiah 48: 10) That got my attention. I don't know that I had ever noted that verse specifically before, but it stood out in my mind this week as I read it in my early devotional readings. Wow, I certainly don't want a curse on my life as a servant of God.

God has called me to preach His Word. That has really impacted me again in a very challenging way. It is not a light thing to speak for God. I have never been called by a Governor, or Mayor, or The President to speak for them, but God has called me to speak on His behalf. That is humbling, awesome, as well as a fearful thing to do. I must not be lax or weak in what He has called me to do.

Monday, August 27, 2012

HERE COMES MORE RAIN

Through the years, like all Floridians, I have gone through storm after storm and hurricane after hurricane. The hurricanes have passed by close and skirted us and some have gone right over us. You can't live in Florida long without going through this over and over.

Years ago, I lived in Mobile, Alabama, and went through Hurricane Frederick which did major damage in the Mobile area. The eye of that hurricane went right over us in the middle of the night. For hours we felt the affect of that hurricane as it approached and then it got real quiet and still for half and hour. Then it started up again.

All night it seemed the house would blow away. When it ended just before daybreak and we finally could go outside, it looked like a bomb had gone off in the night. Debris was everywhere. Trees were shredded or down. Buildings lost roofs. Cars were damaged. It was a sight to behold.

Years later, I helped in the relief effort after Hurricane Andrew. It was the worst natural disaster to hit our Nation. I was in South Miami the day after Hurricane Andrew and it was far worse than TV cameras were ever able to portray it. It was sad.

Thankfully, the present storm, Isaac, is not headed our way, but we are expected to get lots of rain, wind, and flooding. I pray for those who will be in the storm's path that it won't be so bad.

It is interesting to see how people prepare or don't prepare for storms like this. Some take it seriously while others pay little attention. I know I'll never ignore another storm or go through another hurricane. All it took for me was to go through one long night of wondering if we'd make it through the night.

One of the main things about dealing with hurricanes is that at least there is a warning of impending danger. We have known for a week or more than this storm was coming and now it is close. People can prepare if they choose too.

That is the way it is with eternity and heaven. We know that we're all mortal and that one day we're going to leave this world, but far too many don't take their mortality seriously. Yet, it is appointed unto man once to die. Death is certain for all of us and comes far quicker than we can know. None of us know when we'll leave this world, but all of us will. It behooves us to be ready.


Friday, August 24, 2012

RIDIN' "BIG RED"

Its been almost two months since I have ridden "Big Red" due to rain and hot weather. I also had a dear friend who lost his brother on a motorcycle accident that I will admit impacted me too. "Woody" veered off the road on a cross country ride in Nevada. I have hurt with that family in their loss. He probably had a heart attack or went to sleep and lost control.

Yet, I am riding again. It is therapeutic for me. I have to concentrate on the ride which gets everything else off my mind. I love it.

"Big Red" has just been sitting in the garage waiting to get on the road again so off I go for fun in the sun. I'm riding over to Tallahassee to see Wanda's family, mother and her daughter and sisters. Wanda has been there all week so I'll ride over and be back on Saturday.

Part of that ride is boring and part is very beautiful. I'll get off the Interstate and ride some county roads and riding in Tallahassee and that area is special, much prettier to me than Jax.

Wanda will ride with me too. I'm taking her helmet and boots and we'll tour the area.

Most of all I'll get to see Wanda sooner by riding over. I miss that Lady when she's not home. She is God's gift to me and my family. She is some gal!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

LIVE ONE DAY AT A TIME

Someone said that if you have one eye looking at the past and the other eye looking at the future then you will probably look cockeyed. Ha!

Today is where our primary focus should be. Even Jesus said that sufficient is today for its worries. Don't worry about tomorrow. Deal with today.

There is so much truth in that. We can't change the past. Worrying about the future is futile and wasteful of our energies. We should live for the opportunities that God brings our way each day.

Whatever we face He has promised to be our helper and guide. I can't remember what I was worried about ten years ago so it must not have been so big. The worries of tomorrow may never happen. So I will put my attention to the opportunities of today.

God has been speaking into my heart about the importance of being confident. Paul wrote that we can be confident that the good work our Lord has begun in us that He will complete it. God knows how to finish what He starts. He doesn't get distracted, discouraged, or delayed. His timing is right on.

This is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it. I will live with passion, vision, and determination today to make this day count for eternity. That way I won't look cockeyed!

Monday, August 20, 2012

FRUSTRATIONS

I have enjoyed using my Apple products, but I have had a few frustrations lately. Some of the syncing mechanisms haven't been working the best. That has caused me to spend considerable time on the phone trying to get things back online and working correctly.

It is nice to have a cell phone, computer, and IPad that are all connected and share information. That makes life goes smoother and quicker. It generally works great, but not lately.

I think I have everything back in order, or at least I hope so.

It has taken lots of time, but even with that I can't complain. Apple products have worked extremely good for me. And, they help you on the phone and stay with you until it is fixed.

Sharing information is what the information age is all about. It happens so quickly. You can touch thousands and thousands of lives in a few moments and share incredible amounts of information between my devices. Amazing!

I love it, even when things are slow. Amazing! I'll write more on my next blog post.

Friday, August 17, 2012

CITY ORDINANCE 296

For the past six months I have been working with other city leaders to defeat City Ordinance 296. It proposed to give "special rights" to homosexuals and lesbians. It was cloaked with the disguise of civil liberties, but how can you grant civil liberties for behavior?

Thankfully, and miraculously, it was defeated Wednesday  night by the Jacksonville City Council by a vote of 17 to 2. That is a huge victory for our city.

The attempt was to make homosexual and lesbian relations "normal". It was an aggressive act to abuse the civil rights of Christians and others of faith who opposed immoral relationships. In the process it would have hurt children, youth, families, and our community.

All people should be loved and given respect, but that doesn't include all behavior. There are obviously many, countless acts of behavior that should not be tolerated by society, but that doesn't mean that the people doing them aren't loved.

Christians aren't biased or bigoted when they do not accept immoral behavior. What is more hateful: to condone sin or give a fair warning and offer redemptive help? The answer is simple.

Last night, Wednesday night, I felt that God's hand extended down into our City. I felt that God showed us mercy. Now, I pray that a revival of righteousness will rain down upon us. Not one of judgment, but one of love for God and His holiness.

Holiness is good. Purity is good. They both bring incredible blessing.

The battle is sure to be fought again, but the Lord is our victory and last night He won.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

RIGHT IN FRONT OF MY FACE

Men often do not see the obvious. I read that is one of our characteristics. We don't multi-task well. We don't listen well. We don't ask for directions. And, we don't see things that are right in front of our noses.

I can't tell you the number of times I have called Wanda to get her to help me find something, only to find in right in front of my face. Ha! I'm not sure what the problem is, but I don't think I'm the only one.

Women do it too.

Just ask Wanda.

Recently we were sitting together on the beach enjoying the ocean. She had her I-Phone and wanted to listen to her music. She tried and tried to get it to play, but it wouldn't work. Finally, she turned to me for help. I looked for a moment and quickly saw the problem. Her earplugs were in her lap and not in her ears! Ha!

It is hard to listen to music on an I-Phone if the earplugs are not in your ears!

All of us have that problem from time to time. We miss the obvious, the most important, the most evident and clearest. That happens over and over spiritually.

God's Word speaks clearly about every issue of life, but people miss it over and over. I think the problem is kind of like Wanda's problem with not hearing the music. They don't have their spiritual earplugs in. They're not listening. God is speaking but no one is paying attention.

May God help me today to open my eyes, my ears, and my heart and hear what He is saying and where He is leading. Then all will go well.

Monday, August 13, 2012

I'M BACK....

I'm back and I hope you are too!

I've been away celebrating Wanda's 60th B'day, enjoying a cruise, and spending a couple days on the beach. It was a great get-a-way. Wanda and I both needed some down time. We have returned home relaxed and ready to go again.

Someone told me that they couldn't believe Wanda was 60. They said that I had robbed the cradle. She sure looks younger and acts younger than 60 too. She is a primary reason I bought "Big Red". I couldn't believe that she would ride a motorcycle with me at our ages, but she is young at heart and energetic and ready to try new things. I like that!

We had a wonderful cruise to the Bahama's sailing to Cococay and Nassau. It was a quick four night cruise and was just right as far as the time sailing goes. We ate, and ate, and ate, and then ate some more. I did workout running around and around the ship to burn some of those calories. I also visited their workout center too.

Besides eating, we really enjoyed meeting new people, the shows at night, and visiting Cococay. Cococay is a very small island the ship visits for one day. We sat on the beach, enjoying a hammock, and just watching the sea.

Finally, we returned to Florida and spent another couple of days on St. Augustine Beach. I had never gone to St. Augustine Beach even though I've visited St. Augustine more times than I can count. It is a nice beach to ride bikes and relax. That is exactly what we did.

Now it is back to work. Can't wait to see all that God is going to do in our lives. My desire is to make my life count for eternity and bring glory to His name. I feel refreshed and ready to go at it again.

Thank you Lord for a few days away to renew body, mind, and spirit.

God is good!

Monday, August 6, 2012

I'LL BE BACK....

Taking a week's break from blogging. Doing some fun stuff. Spending time with Wanda. Just letting my mind and body rest. This is good. See you next Monday!

I'll be back....

Friday, August 3, 2012

FASTING AND PRAYING

Some things only come about by prayer coupled with fasting. That is what our Lord taught. Prayer is talking and listening to God. Fasting is giving up something you love during a time of prayer. Fasting is mostly connected to giving up food for a period of time. Our Lord fasted forty days at least one time. There are many other examples in the Bible where prayer and fasting were done.

Why pray and fast?

1. It is a show of humility and surrender to God.
2. It makes us bring the flesh under subjection and pulls us closer to God.
3. It empowers our prayers as we surrender to His will.
4. God takes note of prayer and fasting.
5. The Devil is defeated through prayer and fasting.

Through the years the Lord has led me on numerous times of fasting. I have fasted as long as ten days at one time, but more often it is much shorter than that. Sometimes a day. Other times three days or a week. Admittedly it is painful and difficult. I love to eat! When you don't eat all kinds of hurts start. Headaches, stomaches, and weakness are all impacting. Ouch!

Yet, when we wait on God with prayer and fasting, something happens in the heavens. God takes note. In the Bible whole cities and nations were spared because of prayer and fasting. Individuals saw God's hand extended to them through prayer and fasting.

If you are facing a time of difficulty and don't know what to do. Or, if you feel your prayers are being hindered. Then add prayer with fasting.

It has helped me. I have seen God's hand extended through prayer and fasting. Hard problems are cracked through prayer and fasting. Jesus said so.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

EAT MORE CHIKIN'

How bigoted can one mayor get? The mayor of Chicago recently stated that Chick-fil-A is not welcome in his city due to the head of Chick-fil-A's support of traditional family values.

So Dr. George Wood, General Supt. of the General Council of the Assemblies of God, asked the mayor if he was opposed to Catholics, Evangelicals, Muslims, or many other pro-traditional family groups to live in his city?

How biased and bigoted can one mayor get?

Just because one doesn't support homosexual or lesbian lifestyles is basis enough to keep them out of "his" city? So tell me? Who is really bigoted here?

I plan on eating more chicken at Chick-fil-A and more regularly.

Last week I stopped by a Chick-fil-A and placed an order. As the cashier was filling it, I asked to speak to the manager. In a moment the manager came up and I told her how much I appreciate this company and its pro-tradistional family values. She beamed with gratitude.

Homosexuality and lesbianism are sin. They are wrong behavioral choices. They lead to hurt and shame.   The Bible is very clear about sin's end result - death.

We can love the sinner and hate the sin. God loves sinners and so should we. Yet, God doesn't condone sin. He died so we can be free of sin.

May God have mercy on our Nation and help us to return to Him. That is our only hope. I will keep praying and believing and I also plan on eatin' more chikin.

Monday, July 30, 2012

OUT OF THE HEART

It is interesting what our hearts hold. Inside each of us are feelings, thoughts, meditations, hurts, dreams, issues, anger, frustrations, hopes, faith, love, and the list goes on. Only God knows what is inside our hearts. He knows everything.

Last week while enjoying a few days away with some of our grands, Jennifer told me of a funny conversation she and little Claudia had.

They were having a good time together while we were all camping out at the beach. Claudia told her that she wished that they were sisters and that Jennifer wasn't her mother. That sounded real cute and sweet until she continued. She said that if they were sisters that they could have so much fun. She didn't stop there. She further said that if Jennifer was her sister and not her mother then she wouldn't have to obey her.

Ha!

That says it all.

What we all want is fun, pleasure and a good time.

Just don't tell me what to do. Don't correct me or mess up my plans.

We all got a real laugh out of that because there is some truth in Claudia's personal honesty that is in all of us. She just spoke from her heart.

Obviously Claudia loves her mother dearly. She just wants to do what she wants to do.

Yet, all of us need wisdom, correction, and guidance from a higher source. We each so desperately need the Lord and His help in our lives.