Wednesday, July 17, 2013

TAKING A BREAK

I will be taking a break from posting on this blog for two weeks. After posting over 710 blogs, I am re-focusing my writing attention. You will see me here again soon so don't go too far away. Thanks to all who have faithfully followed my thoughts. I hope that you have been encouraged to a higher, better life.

There is more ahead, but I am taking a breather.

See you soon.

Monday, July 15, 2013

TREVOR MARTIN

No, I am not getting into the debate over racial justice, but I do want to comment on the recent Zimmerman trial. I didn't watch any of the trial. I don't know all the details. I have no dog in this hunt.

It is so sad that a older teenage boy lost his life. My heart goes out to the Trevor Martin.

Yet, obviously there is a serious divide in our country over racial justice. I am for fair treatment. I hate bigotry. I don't want to be treated in a bigoted way and neither do I desire for others to face racial bigotry.

But a trial was held. A judgement was made. Might I add, that we should be thankful that we live in a country where we have a legal system for justice to work.

Now that the verdict is in, it appears that some question the results. Again, I don't have a dog in this hunt, but we should let the system work.

I will say that in our city too many blacks are being killed by other blacks. There is a serious problem going on here with too many black children not having mothers and fathers at home. This produces serious issues within the children without mothers and fathers. Then terrible results follow that often includes blacks killing blacks.

May God help us to do a better job at proclaiming His Word so that children of all races and color can grow up in good homes with loving mothers and fathers to teach and train them in the right way.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

ONE BIG LAUGH!

Laughter is like a medicine. It heals the soul. It releases strength. It renews the spirit.

We have just enjoyed having Julie, Nic, and Alex in our home for a few days. It wasn't long enough. What fun those boys are.

While sitting at the dinner table Wednesday night, Nic sucked a green bean into his mouth with a funny swish sound. It tuned his tickle box over, and he belly laughed so hard that he cried. It was too funny. I enjoyed his laugh too.

Life is too serious for most of us. Kids laugh at most anything and I think are happier for it. We need more laughter, more light moments, more joy.

It has been said that you can face anything in life if you can find something to laugh at as you go through it. That is true.

So here's to Nic bean belly laugh.

HA! HA! HA! HA! HA!

Monday, July 8, 2013

A MIRACLE WEEK

My last post was on the topic of miracles and expecting miracles.

Last week I saw a miracle.

I will not go into all the details but will just say that we saw a major break threw, a miracle, in our church finances. We had a deficit for a number of months that was very discouraging. The bad national economy had hurt the churches finances, but God is faithful.

We were in need of about $30,000 dollars or so which was huge for our church. On Easter we had raised $20,000 to pay of a short term loan on a renovation, but the deficit problem continued.

Last week a lady called and shared that she had an offering to give. To make a long story short she gave me a check for the church for $37,000.

Major praise to the Lord!

On this past Sunday, a couple met me at the church door and gave me a check for $56,000.

Another major praise to the Lord.

Now the deficit has been met and we are ahead!

God still works miracles. This one was long in coming, but it came in His timing!

To God be the glory!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

GET READY FOR A MIRACLE

I believe God is still engaged in the affairs of men.

Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. God's Word promises that. It is true. (Heb. 13:8)

Why do I believe in miracles? Here are a few reasons.

1. See the above.
2. God answers prayer.
3. God loves us.
4. Some needs require a supernatural miracle.
5. So God can show his power and glory.

There are many more reasons I believe in miracles. I have seen supernatural works of God in my life and others. I have watched God's hand extend to my life. I know God cares and meets needs.

Yes, there are times of waiting. There are times where answers come too slow in our estimation, but God is always on time.

Here is a sure way to see a miracle.

1. Pray.
2. Be open to the Holy Spirit.
3. Exercise faith.
4. Wait and expect.
5. Keep a spirit of praise.

I know there are no quick easy formulas to miracles. God doesn't work that way, but don't short-changed yourself into inaction and miss your opportunity. God will work if we will believe and obey.

Someone is going to see a miracle today.

Monday, July 1, 2013

LOTS OF PASSWORDS

I have dozens of passwords to all kind of accounts. Don't worry I am not going to share any of them now. Account after account requires a secret code to enter. Can't do any business without the right numbers or letters. The harder the better. At least that is what they say.

And they like for you to change them all the time. That adds to the burden. You aren't suppose to write them down, but how can you remember them if you don't record them somewhere?

Banks need passwords.

Electric companies need passwords.

Phone companies need passwords.

Google wants one.

AOL wants one.

ITunes wants one.

MobleMe wants one.

The Assemblies of God wants one.

My district wants one.

And the list goes on.

Passwords. Passwords. Passwords.

Can't remember them all, but can't do anything or go anywhere without one.

I can't even close my garage without a password.

What to do?

Here is good news!

There is only one password that matters. Remember this one. Write it down on your heart. Memorize it. Say it over and over. You can write this one down.

It is simple. Here it is.

Jesus.

Just say Jesus. The door will open.

Friday, June 28, 2013

A GREAT READ

I love books. There is so much to learn and enjoy in reading. You can travel the world and never leave your easy chair or spend a dime. It is joyous entertainment as well as intellectual inspiration.

It has been my habit for years to make a weekly trip to the library. Books are free at the library, and free is better than cheap.

One book that I am really enjoying is the daily devotional book that Wanda and I are reading through this year. It is the One Year Devotional for Couples entitled Love Talk by Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott. It is so insightful.

They speak where I live. They motivate and encourage. They convict and cleanse. They have blessed our marriage.

Here are a few quotes that stand out:

What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies. -- Aristotle

Grief can take care of itself, but to get the full value of joy, you must have somebody to divide it with.
--  Mark Twain

Lord, grant that I might not so much seek....to be loved as to love. --St. Francis of Assisi


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

MORNING DEVOTIONS

From the beginning of our marriage, Wanda and I have prayed daily with each other and shared in a devotional time of reading God's Word. It is our morning ritual with few exceptions. If we ever miss a day, which is rare, then the next day we pick up and start again. This adds power to our relationship and marriage and everything we do.

Whenever there is a need one of us have, then the other prays for that need. Whatever common or family needs we have, we pray together over them. We pray for our children, grandchildren, parents, siblings, friends, church family, Nation, and neighbors.

I cannot tell you how many times our devotional reading for the morning spoke exactly to what we were facing for the day. There have been specific issues that we were dealing with that our devotion spoke to and gave encouragement, guidance, wisdom, and correction. It is amazing.

How valuable is this time we spend together?

I would say it is the most valuable time we spend together on any day. What could be more important than waiting on God together? Or praying together? Or praying over the issues of the day?

None!

Of course I have other study and devotional times that are private and so does Wanda. That is when God speaks to me personally for me as well as to Wanda.

That renews us so we can face the day and do His will. It strengthens us so we can better serve and help others. It is a power source beyond any other source.

Why am I emphasizing this now?

Maybe it will encourage someone to renew their prayer and devotional time with their spouse and family. Maybe it will be a difference maker in someone's future.

Monday, June 24, 2013

NO ILLUSIONS PLEASE

I don't believe in magic, at least not magic that would be considered to be mystical or supernatural. Illusions or tricks can confuse the mind and make one believe things that they ordinarily know not to be true, but illusions are not magic and magic is not real.

Or is it?

There are two sources of power and one power is far, infinitely greater than the other.

The great power is the power of God. The weaker power is satanic power, but it is limited and it is filled with lies.

God's ways are are true, righteous, holy, and just. He is faithful and full of mercy, grace, peace and joy. He doesn't trick, fool, deceive, or lie. God's nature is always true. That is His goodness.

Yet, how is it that people can be so easily deceived by satan's lies? Satan is a bait and switch guy. He never lives joy or peace. His lies always lead to death. He is the ultimate deceiver.

This past Sunday we had an illusionist share in our morning service. He told told people up front that everything he did was an illusion or trick. He said that his slight of hand was by design to get you to believe something that you otherwise wouldn't and then he related it to how satan works. It was impressive and caught people's attention.

Here is the point!

God always turns on the light. He doesn't hide truth. There is no darkness nor deception in Him. He has no reason to use illusion. He is the life giver and the light brightener.

So I will run to His light and share His light. There is only goodness found in the Lord.


Friday, June 21, 2013

UPBEAT AND ALIVE!


I am a runner and when I run I love listening to music, but not just any music. I love good christian music that is upbeat, fast paced, and alive. I run several mornings a week at the beginning of my day. The moving music helps me wake up and getting going. It quickens my pace and stirs my soul. Most of the songs I listen to include lyrics that speak of God’s love, power, faithfulness, and goodness. Those lyrics encourage me from deep within, and they help my run go faster with higher energy.

God wants us to be upbeat and alive. He is a God of hope. He is a God of today working in unbelievable and incredible ways. His mercies are new every morning. God is always doing new and greater things in our lives, and if we will trust Him and follow Him we can enjoy heaven’s best.

I have found that to begin my day upbeat and alive sets the pace for a fantastic day. There may be setbacks. There may be unexpected bends in the road, but He is there to see me through. To begin upbeat opens my soul for the good things of the Lord.

Music is a favorite pastime of mine. I love all kinds of music from blue grass to classical to jazz to country to Southern Gospel to contemporary to blues. Of course, my passion is  music that is worshipful and exalts the Lord. 

When I begin my day, I love music that is worshipful, upbeat, and alive. That is how I think we should live our lives. We are worshippers. We should be upbeat. We should be alive. Tomorrow morning, turn on some good music and come alive!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

EGO

Egoism and selfishness go hand in hand. They are kin. They feed off each other. They are in stark contrast to humility and generosity. The fact is that all of us struggle with the two.

I heard a story of a man in church who once was honored for his humility. Sadly, the church had to take back his award as he became too proud and self-centered.

Ha! Not good.

How does ego and selfishness manifest?

Recently in our devotional time, this issue was addressed in the book Wanda and I are reading. The primary illustration centered around who we talk about. Are we willing to listen to others? Do we ask questions of interest of others? Are we concerned about their story? Their hurt? Their trial? Their triumph?

Too often I find myself enjoying telling my story, my experiences, my issues and spending too much time on my stuff rather than listening, receiving, caring. God is patient to listen and care about every part of our lives. He never turns a deaf hear. We should emulate God's character and manner.

Oh God help me and save me from me. Help me to see and hear others. Free me of ego and self.

Amen!

Monday, June 17, 2013

HAPPY FATHER'S DAY

My daughters, Julie and Jennifer, called yesterday and wished me a Happy Father's Day. Their calls made my day. They are sweet, beautiful, young ladies, and I am very proud and thankful for them. They love their family and are a joy.

Julie sent text cards:




These text cards say it all.

I also called my Dad and wished him a Happy Father's Day. Thank God for his good health and that he is still with us. He is 88 and I am praying that he'll make it to 100. That is my goal too.

We had a long talk and I told him of a number of things that he did for me that I'll never forget and am extremely grateful to him for.

Some of them were:

He took me fishing a lot.
We made and flew model airplanes. I crashed the one he build.
He also took me flying in a small airplane that he piloted.
We made numerous trips as a family. One trip was to California and Oregon and back home to Alabama.
He and mom had more children than just me. I am grateful for my siblings.
Dad as always had a joke that we could laugh about.
God's Word was always read in our home and followed.
We never went hungry or had need.


The list goes on and on. Happy Father's Day, Dad. I love you.

Friday, June 14, 2013

FIVE ESSENTIALS FOR EVERY MORNING


Henry Ward Beecher said,  “The first hour of the morning is the rudder of the day.” What we do first thing sets the pace for the day. Victories or defeats are often determined by what we do first thing each morning. Our attitudes, goals, thoughts, and actions are impacted by our first actions of each morning. 

David wrote, "Let me hear your lovingkindness in the morning for I trust in You. Make me to know the paths in which I should walk for to you I lift up my soul." (Psa 143:8)

Here are five essentials for every morning:

  1. Connect with God: Meditate and pray. Have a brief devotional prayer time and read the Word.
  2. Rejoice and Give Thanks: This is the day the Lord has made. Rejoice. Be Thankful!
  3. Receive the Mercies of the Lord: The mercies of the Lord are new every morning.
  4. Focus on Today. Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow will take care of itself.
  5. Do what is Right: Set your heart to follow the righteousness of the Lord. 

David and even our Lord gave special attention to the first moments of each day. They were early morning devotional people. If morning devotions were essential to Jesus and David, they should be even more vital to our spiritual sustenance. 

The Lord will defend, bless, and show favor to those who follow these patterns. Read Ps 5: 11,12. Tomorrow is a new day. Set your heart to follow after the Lord. It will make you day go 100% better. God has promised.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

STAYING ON TRACK

Good habits and good routines make for a disciplined and blessed life. I have noticed that all of the workings of God are with order. Just look at creation and all of the incredible order there.

That works for mankind too. Order makes life go smoother. I am more productive with things in place, life on track, routines on track. Somethings are daily. Somethings need attention regularly while other life demands are not so urgent. Yet, in everything, order blesses.

We are all creatures of habit. We like certain foods and tend to gravitate toward them. We enjoy certain activities and lean toward constant involvement there. These all set up patterns of life.

I find some of my patterns need improving. My eating habits need attention. My thought patterns need refocusing. My ministry habits need refining. All of that pushes toward a better or lessor life.

My spirit is willing to change, but the problem is with the flesh. Flesh wants to stay the same. It wants gratifying. It wants to feel good. Changing the flesh can be painful, and I don't enjoy that. No one enjoys that.

Yet, when I stay on track in these good areas, I am blessed. And, when I am willing to change to new habits and set a new track pattern, I am blessed too.

The goal is to glorify the Lord. The goal is to be my best for Jesus. It is to finish my race well. He will help me to do it. I am counting on the Lord. He will be faithful.

Monday, June 10, 2013

DUCTCH OVEN COOKING: YUMMY!

This past weekend I took a couple of classes on outdoor dutch oven cooking with coals. It was fascinating and the food was delicious! The class was offered as part of a training seminar for our boys program at our church. This program specializes in camping so there were numerous classes offered to make camping more enjoyable.

Wanda and I camp several times during the year when the weather is right, no rain and not too hot or too cold. The cooking has become primarily my chore. She does assist with some dishes and helps get the food items together. The outdoor cooking is some of the fun part of camping. A campfire makes camping, and good food cooked on a campfire or outdoors is what it is all about.



The presenter of the dutch oven class was a gourmet chef. He knew his stuff. I was amazed at all his little tricks and ways. Cooking requires good meat and food items and fire and pots and pans. It also requires some know-how. This guy, Wayne, knew how to make it happen.



He cooked cowboy stew, chicken cacciatore, pork chops, peach cobbler, pineapple upside down cake, monkey bread, and a few other dishes.

Yummy!

He was from Georgia and said he grew up in the country where they often cooked outdoors. He has also taken culinary  classes. I was amazed at his skill cooking over coals. He knew how to make the ingredients come together, how to have the proper heat, how to make sure the heat was even, and what pots to use.

Now I have to go invest in some dutch oven dishes and give it a whirl. Amazing!


Friday, June 7, 2013

WORKING OUT AGAIN

I am still on my journey to get in better shape. I run several miles several times a week. I do a work-out video several times a  week. I do calisthenics throughout the week, and I am watching my diet also. I've lost about 20 pounds, but losing that last 10 pounds has not been easy. It is still a work in progress.

Having a workout partner helps. Wanda and I work out walking and doing the videos. It is an encouragement to have an encourager who motivates when the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

Here is my biggest problem:

Wanda is a great cook.

Monday evening she made a peach cobbler.

Today she made a pound cake.

Do you know how many calories are in that stuff?

Too many!

Here is what I see happening: either I eat less or run more. It is just that simple. I guess I am going to have to cut back and run a little more.

Maybe I'll get Wanda to run more and then she might not tempt me so much with all those deserts. Wow are they good.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A CALM RESOLUTION

Dysfunctional people live dysfunctionally. Abnormally is normal. Everything gets turned upside down and inside out. There is total inability to cope and work life out. Mole hills turn into mountains. Mountains become bigger.

How does one get dysfunctional? How about:

Physiological issues?

Chemical embalances?

Lack of discipline of feelings and desires?

Poor dieting?

Lack of sleep and proper rest?

Distortion of life and habits?

Dysfunctional upbringing?

Unleashed rage and anger?

Poor insight?

Stupidity?

I think we're all dysfunctional to some degree. All of us get skewed in our view, approach, and evaluations? All of us fall into the trap of "stinkin' thinkin' every so often. Sometimes more than just every so often.

What is the solution? How about making needed life corrections? How about trying a calmer approach? How about getting rational and reasonable in thinking?

Through the years I have counseled many people bordering on being dysfunctional. Once, I called a psychiatrist in my church and discussed a case with him. The psychiatrist asked me to describe the man to him.

I said, "The man is not sleeping good. He is not thinking good. He is not eating good. He is not relating to others good."

The psychiatrist responded that this sounded like 90% of people!

Ha!

True story.

Life is challenging enough without adding dysfunctional to the list. I think I'll work on trying to be rational more. Life goes better with calm resolutions. Yes!

Monday, June 3, 2013

I RODE THE LOOP

There are motorcycle rides and then there are motorcycle rides. To be honest, living in East Jacksonville doesn't offer too many glorious rides. If you go farther East, you ride into the Atlantic Ocean. Going West means riding through Jacksonville traffic. So from my house, the rides are basically going either due North or due South.

This past Friday, I rode "The Loop" for the first time. It is a ride going down A1A South through Stl Augustine and on to Flagler Beach then East to Ormond Beach and then North up U.S. 1. It is a spectacular ride for Florida.

You see the Atlantic Ocean and old Florida. I throughly enjoyed doing this ride. The Atlantic view is beautiful and then you ride into what Florida looked like before all these Northerns got here. Ha!

It is about 185 miles round trip from my house and took most of the day. Friday wasn't too hot and their were some cover clouds to shade all along. I went with some guy friends and we enjoyed cruising down the rode.

I plan on taking Wanda on this ride before too long. Of all the rides we have done in Florida, this one was the best. She needs to see it.


Friday, May 31, 2013

I CAN'T BELIEVE MY EYES

I was riding Sate Rd. 11 heading back to Jacksonville after visiting my mom and dad. My mind was focused on driving but was also mentally wandering as I thought on a myriad of things on my agenda. Highway 11 is a pure scenic Florida road with pasture land, palms, small creeks, and palmettos.

Then I saw something far ahead on the road that looked like a long palm branch. I slowed but continued forward wondering if I should ride over it or dart around it. The closer I got the odder and bigger it looked.

Then I saw clearly what was it my path. I shouldn't have been shocked knowing where I was, but I was stunned for a moment.

It was a huge alligator that stretched across  my side of the highway. This was no baby gator, but a full grown bull. Wow!

I swerved and looked into my rear view mirror as the gator rose and continued across the road. It was stunning and surprising. I couldn't believe my eyes. I have traveled thousands of miles on Florida roads from south to north and never scene a gator across the road like this one.

Actually, I was on the phone and gasped surprising the person I was talking too. I said, "You won't believe what I just passed on this road." They were shocked too and wanted to know where I was driving.

This is gator country. They are not all in Gainesville.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

SLOW FOR THE MANATEES

I am not into saving endangered animals of any kind. That is not my life focus. I worship the Creator not the creature. Animals of any kind do catch my attention. I love the outdoors with all of the plant life and little creatures. I am just not into tree hugging or animal worship.

Friday and Saturday Wanda and I enjoyed some "down" time in a quiet condo on the Gulf of Mexico in Steinhatchee, FL. The condo was located right at the mouth of the Steinhatchee River where it dumps into the Gulf.

Boaters and more boaters made their way out the river to the Gulf to fish. There was a steady stream of fishermen going and coming. Boater after boater made their way to their favorite fishing spots.

We were sitting enjoying the boat parade as I looked down from the second story porch into a small canal below us. Something dark and big was moving into the canal. There were several of them moving ever so slowly below us. Then one of them rose up peeking out of the water and breathed deeply. It was a manatee with two small babies.

For the rest of the day they leisurely ate and played below us. They are strange looking creatures. I could see how boat propellers could do major damage to them. They move so lazily through the water. They feasted on something there below the water. Up and down they bobbed playing and eating.

I think the thing that stuck out in my mind was their slow, leisurely pace. I liked that. Slow and leisurely. I need to try that too.

Monday, May 27, 2013

CAMPING AGAIN

Wanda and I are on a one night camping trip with four of our grandkids. Oh, my two daughters are camping too. We love being with all of our grands and kids. They are our lives.

Julie and Jen are camping in Camp Wilderness in Disney World and have invited us to come. We could only make it for one night which is a lot of work for only one night camping, but the grands make it worth it all. Oh, and we get to see Julie and Jennifer.

We have most of our camping stuff packed in a way that it isn't too hard to get it all together. It is just sorting some of it and loading up and taking off. Then set-up, camping, and then take down and home we head again. The few hours with the kids make it a joy to do. We love being with them.

Camping is a  get a way into God's beautiful creation. Oh, there are bugs, and misquotes, and more bugs, and heat and rain and sleeping on the ground and some more bugs. But we have fun enjoying being outside and relaxing.

Getting away helps relax the mind and soothe the soul.

I think we need that too.

Friday, May 24, 2013

BROKEN TRUST

Relationships connect through trust. When trust is broken, everything is lost. Businesses cannot function in an environment of broken trust. Governments fails when their is no trust. Sports teams lose when trust is broken. Marriages struggle when trust is missing.

What is the basis of trust?

It begins with truthfulness and is bound by faithfulness. When promises, agreements, contracts, or commitments aren't respected and honored then trust is lost.

Faithfulness is the quiet voice of love. How can we say we love when we lose respect of others and then break our words or promises.

That is what makes God so amazingly incredible. It is sweet to trust in Jesus. You can take Him at His Word. He keeps His Word. He is faithful.

We need a revival of trust in our world, but that won't come without a real, honest, heartfelt revival of God and His love. His love in us produces a stability of life, word, and deed. Then others can know we are dependable and trustworthy.

Broken trust always leads to broken lives. I am so thankful to have a family and dear friends whom I can trust. My prayer is that I will live in a manner that they can know that they can trust in me.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

AM I BELIEVABLE?

I once heard a great orator and preacher speak to preachers on how to preach. He spoke on the number one priority for preachers and what hearers thought was most important for a preacher for them to be willing to listen and follow the preacher's sermons. Knowing that this speaker was a great orator, I thought he might list study, or mechanics, or content,  or style as the vital requirement.

Not so.

He said that a preacher must first believe what he is preaching for people to follow his sermons. Now I thought he meant how passionate the preacher was in preaching. Wrong again.

What makes people believe that a preacher believes what he is preaching is whether or not the preacher lives what he is preaching. Style, mechanics, content, and length are all important, but none of them approach the importance of living the sermon.

St Francis of Assisi said, "Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words."

In other words he was saying that the living the message trumps speaking the message. 

I desire to preach the Word of God. That is my calling, but more than preach it, I want people to see me live it. That is what makes the highest impact. 

Oh God, fill my inner being so that I may glorify you in deed so that my words will have power. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

GO GO GO

This has been a very busy past week. Meetings, meetings, and more meetings along with some travel have all kept me busy. I have written a blog for over five years on a daily basis or at least three times a week. I enjoy journaling and sharing and hopefully inspiring to a higher life by what I share.

Several times I have contemplated taking a pause on my blog, but I still have a sense of calling to write and share. My blog is mainly personal as I share what is happening in my life. My Mom reads it to keep up with what's happening in my life.

There is so much to do and enjoy in life. I love reading, studying, outdoors, movies, riding "Big Red", visiting family, times with friends, and the list goes on. Go, Go, Go seems to be my theme.

There is a time to pause and take a break. Jesus did. He took His disciples aside for rest so we all need it.

There is so much more I want to do in life. I have a passion to finish my journey strong. That will happen as I put God first, seek His will, and obey. That's my goal. I want to be obedient.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY

Mother's Day should be every day, or maybe it is in a different kind of way. It is always mothers' day to rise early and work late. It is from dawn to dusk and dusk to dawn. It never ends. How do I know? I watched and helped and on rare occasions tried to do it alone. That did not go very well.

I cannot imagine in my wildest imagination not have mothers. Their love grows you up. Mother's nurture, comfort, feed, clothe, wash, watch, change, and work and work and work. It never stops.

My mother did all this and more. She is a hero of mine. Her faithfulness to her husband, children and the work of the Lord are incredible. Our family would not have made it without her. It is just that simple.

Mother is 86. I talk to her regularly and will enjoy spending a few hours with her on Mother's Day. When I grew up, she baked a pound cake every Sunday afternoon. I love eating her warm pound cakes. It doesn't get any better than that. I told her not to make a pound cake for me on this visit, but she said she was because she like baking them. Well, I will enjoy eating it.

She led me to the Lord when I was around 6 years old. I will forever be grateful to her for that. Thank you Mom for all you have done for me. I love you.




Friday, May 10, 2013

THERE IS HOPE

Hope is the glue and substance of faith. Faith's foundation is hope. Hope releases courage. It renews the dry spirit. It refreshes the burdened heart. It lightens the load. It helps us face the new day.

In Christ we have a living hope. He is alive within our hearts. He is the restorer and strengthener of our beings. We can face today and tomorrow because of the living hope in Christ.

One of my favorite life verses is Romans 15:13:

"Now the God of hope fill you with joy and peace as you believe, that you may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Spirit."

Every word and every phrase of this verse is powerful.

"Now" means in the present. Today. This moment. God is a God of hope.

We serve a "God of Hope". That comes from the goodness and love of our Lord. His mercies are new every morning, because great is His faithfulness.

Ps 71:5 reads, "O Lord, you alone are my hope, I've trusted you, O Lord, from childhood."

It has been said that a person can live forty days without food, four days without water, four minutes without air, but only for seconds without hope.

He is my hope. His hope releases joy and peace. I can face today, tomorrow, and eternity because He lives.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

WOE

This is a hard blog to write, yet I feel compelled to share it.

Isaiah wrote:

"Woe to those who call evil good,
        and good evil;
Who put darkness for light,
        and light for darkness:
Who put bitter for sweet,
        and sweet for bitter!

Woe to those who are wise in
        their own eyes,
And prudent in their own sight!"
(Isaiah 5: 20-21)

We live in a generation that has chosen the evil for good and
turned good to evil. The end result is always a whirlwind and destruction.

God has put a deep burden in my heart to cry out to Him for mercy over our Nation and people. We must have revival for righteousness to return to our Land. We will never elect godly leaders until their is a return to grass root's righteousness. That must first happen in the hearts of pastor's and churches, God's people. Then the Lord will hear our prayers and heal our Land.

That word "Woe" is a hard word. It means that which brings trouble or sorrow or great stress. In means sorrow, trouble, and great stress will come upon those the "Woe" is directed toward. God is saying through Isaiah that trouble, sorrow, and great stress will be upon those who compromise and confuse good with evil and evil with good. Those who do such are proud, arrogant, and wise in their "own" eyes, but the end is inevitable. It always produces the fruit of sorrow, trouble, and stress.

May God have mercy on our Nation. Our leaders have exchanged the good for evil and the woe is just ahead. In their arrogance they are producing a whirlwind of destruction and shame. The sorrow will be more than we can bear.

Monday, May 6, 2013

A NIGHT OF WORSHIP

Early this past Sunday morning I heard the Lord speak to me, "How would you worship me today in church if this was your last time to worship?" I didn't think the Lord was telling me that my time was short, but rather that He was challenging me as to how I would worship Him.

I mentioned that to our congregation as we began Sunday morning worship. It made a difference in how I worshipped in song and praise. That probably is not a good sign, but a sign that I need to focus more intensely and passionately on how I worship the Lord.

Worship is more that a song service on Sunday morning. It is the manner of love and passion we show to the Lord in all we do. It is serving Him in truth and in Spirit. It is giving Him first place in all we do. Worship is honoring the Lord, His commands, His Word, His directions. It is loving Him with all of our hearts in all we do.

Sunday evening we had a great night of praise and worship. Our band led and Carlos Santiago came and presented a concert. I love His singing. He does it from His heart and we incredible giftedness. He is fantastic!

Music is a wonderful gift to enjoy. I love Blue Grass and Classical music. Jazz, Big Bands, Southern Gospel, and High Worship are all part of my love of music.

Most of all, I love music that glorifies the Lord. He is worthy of all praise.

Sunday evening worship was wonderful. Praising Jesus is good.

When we get to heaven, we will have to be willing to sing a new song. The language of heaven will be different than the languages earth. It won't be English. I am not sure how we'll sing, but it will be a song of eternal praise to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It will be glorious.

Friday, May 3, 2013

LET THERE BE FLOWERS

Wanda and her mother have been busy working in our back yard planting beautiful flowers. They have dug, rearranged, fertilized, watered, and weeded and wow does it ever look spectacular. I love sipping my coffee on the back porch each morning enjoying the colorful plants and flowers.

I helped dig some holes and chopped roots in the way to place the plants exactly where they wanted them. It takes lots of elbow grease, sweat, and hard work to beautify our back yard, but it is worth it.



God's creation is amazing. It is glorious. It points to His reality. I don't have enough faith to be an atheist and believe that all of creation came from a mere chance and accidental collision. How foolish can one be and still walk around.

We enjoy redbirds, and hummingbirds, and little finches, and doves, and squirrels, and butterflies constantly moving through our backyard. How beautiful it all is.

Wanda loves to dig in the dirt. She says it is good for her soul. I love to "have dug" in the soil. She actually loves the digging part. The joy of life and marriage is the pleasure of sharing. We enjoy lots of common interests. Working in our backyard is becoming one of them too.





Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A SILLY MISTAKE

Sometimes life is too busy, crowded, and over demanding. That is just the way it is. It is what it is. When it gets that way, then adjustments need to be made. I heard of a new book entitled "Change Before You Have Too." In fact I am reading it. Changes will be made in our lives due to stress and over-crowded schedules. It is just a matter of when the change will occur - when it is too late or better long before it gets you.

Last week I had a long, rather serious phone call on my way to work. I arrived still in the parking lot finishing the call and talking on my IPhone with my headsets. After a few minutes I went on into the office and worked a couple of hours.

Later in the morning, one of the secretaries arrived for work and shared that someone's car was running in the parking lot. I checked my pocket for keys and could not find them. That was my car. I had left it running for two hours in the parking lot unlocked.

That is a lot of gas.

Am I really that short of memory? Is it Alzheimer's?

Not!

I was rushed and focused on the conversation and had headsets on. I was too busy. I had to pick up several items in the car and all of that distracted me along with having the ear phones on.

I chuckled and went about my day. If that is the worse thing that ever happens to me then I am blessed!

Now don't tell my you haven't done something silly too.


Friday, April 26, 2013

TEMPTED

I am preaching a three part sermon series entitled "Tempted". Temptation comes in many forms but the ultimate desire of the Devil in tempting us is to destroy us.

He desires to tempt us to:

1. A Lesser Good.
2. A Lesser Glory.
3. A Lesser God.

The Devil is the ultimate deceiver. In fact God's Word tells us that the Devil will be cast into everlasting torment because of his unholy works of deception. See Rev 20:10.

How can we overcome Satan's deceptions?

1. Know the Truth.
2. Quote the Truth.
3. Live the Truth.

Truth sets us free. Satan is the father of lies. He takes part of the truth, twists it, adds to it, and re-designs it. The end result for those who buy into his lies is death. Yes, there is momentary pleasure, but the end is always the same - death.

Satan knows his days are numbered. He doesn't want to go the hell alone. He is working overtime to steal, kill, and destroy. But God has made a way through Jesus Christ for us to overcome. His Light outshines Satan's darkness.

One final word, when we fall short quickly repent. Don't hide sin. It can't be hidden.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

ALONE

I don't do alone very good. Wanda is gone for a few days to help care for her mother in Tallahassee, and I am home alone. Now I am not a little kid and afraid to be home alone. I just don't like the loneliness of it all.

My heart goes out to those who live alone. Men don't do well by themselves. God noted that and made Eve for Adam. Adam needed a helper. So do I.

What do I miss about Wanda?

I miss her loving kindness.

I miss her touch and talk.

I miss having someone to share the day with.

I miss the extra little things she does to make a day worth living.

I miss her beautiful smile.

I miss her helping me when I need assistance in life's daily decisions.

I miss her encouragement.

Yes, we can talk on the phone, and she will be home soon.

Absence does make the heart grow fonder. In that way, I guess her absence will make our marriage stronger, but boy do I miss that gal. She is a gift from God to me.

Monday, April 22, 2013

MILTON, WE'VE GOT A PROBLEM

I was sleeping so good, but Wanda woke me.

"Milton, we've got a problem," she said.

It was 4 AM and the patter of rain on our tent sounded so good. It was good sleeping weather.

I looked up and the tent was sagging in the middle down almost to the ground. We definitely had a problem. It was a big water problem. I felt around  in the dark and didn't feel any water or dampness. Thankfully the water had not yet invaded our tent.

With one big upward push, the water drained down all sides of our tent. We were still dry. It hadn't been raining that hard so I wondered what caused the tent to sag, and then I saw it. A huge glob of moss had fallen on the tent pushing it downward and the water pooled into the top of the tent. Another big upward push got rid of the moss and we were good to go the rest of the night.

Wanda and I love tent camping in good weather. When it is cool with clear skies, we enjoy the outdoors. We knew that there was a chance of rain, but we were hoping the weatherman was wrong. We laughed it off and went back to sleep.

The next morning was when the nasty effects of camping in the rain took place. Now, the tent and anything left outside was wet. Packing wet gear isn't fun, but we decided to laugh through the rain.

The great philosopher Bill Cosby once said that you can deal with any problem in life if you can find something to laugh about as you go through it. He is right.

We laughed and packed up the wet gear and enjoyed our time camping.

Rain falls on the righteous campers and the unrighteous campers, but the joy of the Lord helps you through the rain.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

NEW THINGS

God is always doing new things. He is the Creator. He is the original author. No one designs better than God. He is the ultimate imaginator. He does things beyond what you can think or imagine. Excellent is His Name.

Isaiah 43 reveals the desire of God in doing new things. He is always challenging, inspiring, motivating, revealing new things. That is what a Holy God does.

I am expecting new things from God. He has spoken that into my heart. He will do bigger, better, and holier things in me and through me.

It takes a very arrogant person to think that they have seen all that God can do. We get stuck and want to duplicate, replicate, and enshrine things that God has gone way past. He is leaving us in the dust and we don't even know it.

I don't want to live that way. I want what God has for me today. God wrote through Isaiah not to remember things of old. That is a hard word for some. They don't want to move forward in God. They aren't willing to sing a new song or do a new thing or receive a new gift.

So now is the time for me to open up to more from God. He has spoken that into my heart. I will receive it now.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

MIRACLES ARE HAPPENING

I have asked the Lord to open the windows of heaven upon our church family. He has promised in His Word that He would do it. That is His declaration. I am taking Him up on His promise.

Sunday in church a lady shared that a cancer had returned to her body and the doctor had recommended radiation treatment. They scheduled the treatment, but something happened.

She shared that the morning of the treatment a new test showed that the cancer was gone. It was totally gone. They had one test where it clearly was present, but the last test showed it was gone. The doctor said he didn't know what had happened. It just wasn't there any longer.

Mary Jane told her doctor that she knew what had happened. She said that God had healed her. She gave God the glory.

I am convinced more miracles are on the way. God is going to work miracles of deliverance, healing, and financial provision. That is His promise not mine.

To God be the glory for the great things He will do.

Miracles are on the way.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

GREAT EXPECTATIONS

My expectation level is rising. I think you call that faith. God is in the faith honoring business. He honors those who believe Him and obey Him. That is called having faith.

Faith without works is dead. James wrote that. He is right.

So now my faith level is rising. I am remembering what He has done for me and for others. I believe what He Word says about His miracle working power. I am expecting many, many miracles from God for me and for others.

I have determined to pray more in my heavenly prayer language. That engages my faith. It emboldens my faith. It give my faith power. When I pray in the Spirit it builds me up. It is faith strengthening.

I received my heavenly prayer language on July 4, 1963 at Oak Mountain State Park just outside of Birmingham, AL. It was one of the most powerful, spiritual experiences of my life. It was a Book of Acts experience. I spoke in a language I did not know. God's presence filled my life and overflowed all over me.

That experience is still real. It still works. It still raises my faith level. I am expecting more from God than ever before for others, my church family, and the lost.

I have great expectations. I can't wait to see what miracles God is going to work today.

Monday, April 8, 2013

CAMPING WITH GRANDSONS

This past weekend I went camping with Alex, Nic, and Lorenzo at our annual church campout for our district. It was at Ft. Meade, FL, with about 1500 other boys and men. The weather was perfect and we had a fantastic time. Cole was there with Mark, his father, and their church.

They had a ball doing what boys do at campouts. They made fires, did knife carvings, played in the creek, went  on a zip line, did some horse trading for knives, and ran all over the place.

The best part for me was to see them in the evening church rallies worshipping God. It thrills me to see them growing in God's knowledge and learning how to become fine young men one day. I am so proud of all of them as well as Alex Clark who isn't part of our church district and wasn't there.

Grandchildren are one's legacy. They are the remains through your children of all you are. I see me in them and want so much for them to become all that God has for them to be.

Wanda and I join hands every morning and call all of their names. We pray for God's protection and blessings over them. We pray they will grow in His knowledge. We pray for their faith to grow and for hearts after God.

Nothing could be better than to see all of our children and grandchildren in heaven for all eternity. That is all that matters to me.

Friday, April 5, 2013

HAPPY TO BE ME

I love it.

Grandkids are the best. They say the most incredible things. Sometimes it is astounding and amazing. They make you think, and sometimes they make you crack up.

Claudia came to her Mom recently and said with huge enthusiasm, "Mommy, sometimes I get soooo excited that I am me."

Wow! Profound and funny.

I am excited to be me too. I am thankful for God's blessings on my life. I have huge faults and needs and struggles, but the Lord helps me and blesses me.

Thankfulness to the Lord for how He made me is huge. That is not always easy because sometimes I think that if I had this or that or didn't have certain things then I would be happier and better off. That isn't necessarily so.

Claudia had it right.

I am excited that I am me. God made me. I am excited and thankful.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

MIRACLES

I love it when God shows up. He is always there, but to see His hand extended is a faith builder. Over and over the Lord has been incredibly faithful. He is amazing.

Sunday was Resurrection Sunday, my favorite Sunday of the year. I love the special holidays we celebrate, but Easter is at the top of my list.

Why?

Because we celebrate His life. He is risen. He is alive.

He arose so that we might arise.

That was my message Sunday. He arose so that we might arise.

Recently, we have had some unusual financial tests at our church. We have seen the provision of the Lord, but the tough world economy hasn't been easy.

But God is faithful.

We receive a special Miracle Easter Offering with a goal of $20,000. That is not a lot by some standards but it was a stretch for us in this economy. Sunday the Miracle offering we received was just over $18,000. I believe the rest is on the way.

PTL!

It is a miracle. Jesus is alive and He answers prayer.

Praise God. He still works miracles.

Friday, March 29, 2013

BEHAVIORAL RIGHTS VS CIVIL RIGHTS

The recent hearings at our Supreme Court concerning the National Defense of Marriage Act has caught my attention. DOMA as it is called defines marriage as being between between one man and one woman. This has been the acceptable, normal definition for all of mankind. By the way, President Bill Clinton signed this law.

Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists as well as all races and nationalities have accepted and defined marriage as being between a man and a woman.

Oh, by the way, Christians believe this too.

Yet, it seems that Christians are the only ones being referred to in hateful, bullying ways for espousing, century old values.

Why are only Christians the brunt of such hate?

There is a huge difference between behavioral rights and civil rights.

While all people of all races, creeds, colors, languages, and nationalities should be given equal rights, that doesn't mean that those same people can act, behave, or conduct themselves in any manner that they choose.

This is where the issues is bing miscast by the homosexual, lesbian community. They are purposely mis-stating their behavioral desires as a civil right.

Civil rights do not give any person the right to behave in any manner they choose. Society has a duty to set moral boundaries of life so that we can live in peace and safety. For example, you cannot kill, steal, or publicly perform sexual acts. We have deemed this as improper behavior which is totally unacceptable.

Birth doesn't give a civil right to act in any manner one chooses.

There are many inborn desires that we have which should not be acted upon. Lust, adultery, covetousness, hate are all included.

Here are my values.

I choose to accept and believe Judeo/Christian values. To espouse these values and promote them doesn't mean that I hate people who break these values. I don't hate sinners. I hate what sin does to them.

There lies the problem for the homosexual/lesbian community. They don't want their behavior to be classified as unacceptable behavior or sin. They want to characterize anyone who marks such behavior as sin as bigoted, hateful, and mean spirited.

Not so.

While there are many behaviors including many sexual behaviors that I hate, I don't hate anyone. That doesn't mean that I don't hate the sin or behavior. The two can be separated.

They want to be classified as being born with inclinations and orientation toward homosexuality and lesbianism. While, there may be inborn inclination to such lifestyles, again, such inclinations as many other immoral inclinations should be denied and suppressed. There is no proof that homosexuality or lesbianism is anything more than a behavioral choice.

This sin along with all other sins should be covered by the blood of Jesus.

The homosexual/lesbian community would certainly deny any and all of what I have written, yet, they have value systems they espouse. They do have boundaries that they set forth. They make judgments and value determinations.

The problem is that they don't allow others the same privilege they demand.

As one Supreme Court Justice noted in their recent hearings, we are headed to uncharted waters.

This is why I choose to stand with the values of my Jewish friends and the peoples of the world who have always accepted that sexual relations between men with men and women with women are wrong.

Is this the only sin?

Certainly not.

Is is sin?

Certainly so.

It is sinful, unacceptable behavior like many other sinful unacceptable behaviors.

Civil rights do not include special behavioral rights for select groups.

I pray that God will help us to communicate His grace and truth in a manner that is forthright, caring, and faithful. I pray that God will have mercy on our Nation. I pray that righteousness will reign. I pray for God's mercy.










Wednesday, March 27, 2013

INTENTIONAL LIVING

Life can be lived actively or passively. Someone said there are two classes of people. First, those who make things happen, and secondly, those who don't have a clue what is happening. I find myself in both of those groups. Ha!

God has created us with the power of choice. We are created in His likeness and have the privilege of choosing how we will live our lives. We can be active or passive. We can be intentional or unintentional. It is a daily choice.

That is the point. We have a choice.

Successful people learn the power of choice and discipline their lives to do the right thing even when they don't feel like it. If we go by feelings then few things would ever get done, but discipline over our emotions, feelings, and the flesh keeps us on track with more opportunities for the good.

I am learning this life lesson over and over. If we let the flesh rule, then we reap the rewards that come from the flesh. If we discipline the flesh and live according to His Spirit, then we reap the rewards of the Spirit.

His Spirit releases joy, peace, love, blessing, and prosperity.

The flesh always points to death. If we live according to the flesh then we will die.

So my choice is for intentional living. I want the blessings of God on my life, family, and dear ones. It is just that simple. Intentional living following after God releases life and blessings.

Today I choose life. I choose to live intentionally. I choose intentional living.

Monday, March 25, 2013

KABOOM!!!!

Sunday we had our annual All Church Family Easter Egg Hunt. All ages were present from kiddies to seniors. There was a bouncy house for the little ones. You don't think that the oldies would risk such a place do you? There was a balloon blower who twisted them into all sorts of things from crowns to swords to animals to flower arrangements. He was super.

The weather had been terrible for a day or so and it looked like the event might be cancelled. However, our team put it together in our youth and educational buildings. It turned out great. Everyone had a ball.

The balloon blower made a crown and sword for me. I wore the crown enthusiastically and wielded my sword too. All the kiddies enjoyed their balloons along with me. It was an interesting sight.

As the event continued, I stood next to one of the men of the church who commented that no balloons had exploded or popped.

I said, "They will."

Within a moment the balloon crown on my head exploded and popped and sounded like a canon went off on my head. I was stunned and tuned to the man and asked if he had popped my balloon. He promised he hadn't and we laughed. I told him I wasn't sure that I believed him.

Here is the point:

When I spoke it, it happened. When I said "They will", mine did.

We laughed together at how quick the words of my mouth turned into reality.

I thought more about how often the words of our mouths turn into reality. If we speak faith, then faith things happen. If we speak doom and gloom, then we set the table for doom and gloom to occur.

Our mouths do have creative force. What we say, we get.

Lord, help me to speak faith and talked faith and believer faith. Help me to trust in You and believe that you are the answer to life's challenges and needs.

Help me to speak, "For with God all things are possible."

Amen!

Friday, March 22, 2013

LISTEN TO THE TRAIN

I live 5.2 miles or so from the nearest railroad train tracks. There are tracks close to the church, but from my home they are just over 5 miles or maybe a little closer as the crow flies.

Why does that matter?

Glad you asked.

Often in the middle of the night I hear train horns blowing. When I first heard them at home, I thought I was dreaming. There were no trains close to my house, but then I realized I was really hearing train horns. It didn't seem possible, but true.

I don't know if they skip over the terrain between my home and the tracks or down the river and creek to my house, but the sounds definitely come from those tracks miles away which are blocked by all kinds of housing and buildings.

When I was a boy, we lived out in the country close to Montgomery, Alabama. There were train tracks that ran close by our house which we would play on and watch the trains goes by. Also, in Anniston, Al, where I grew up as a teenager, there were train tracks there. They have always caught my attention.

Don't know why that train tracks caught my attention this morning, but I guess I heard the train as I began to write. Funny how things grab your mind.

I try not to listen to the train whistle in the night, but sometimes I hear it and then pray and head back to sleep. Glad I don't live any closer to the tracks.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

EQUATION FOR SUCCESS

Success in life is not inevitable. Not everyone in life is successful. How do you measure a successful life? What is the formula? As a minister who is called upon to offer last words over people in ministering in funeral situations, I have had many, many opportunities to address the success or failure of people in life.

No one wants to live a life with no aim, purpose, or value. We all want to feel as though our lives have meaning and value.

The great physicist Dr. Albert Einstein offered this formula for success in life.

He noted that if "a" is success, then

a (success) = x (work) + y (play) + z (keeping your mouth shut)

Ha!

That is a good equation, but sometimes very hard to work out, especially the part of keeping your mouth shut. We often open our mouths and say the most inopportune things to our own hurt and the hurt of others.

At the ripe old age of 63, I am learning over and over again the power of blessing or cursing with my tongue. I can encourage, comfort, bless or I can discourage, arm, or curse by what I say. Mouths and tongues are the most dangerous parts of our bodies. James noted that the tongue is extremely unruly.

Paul wrote that our speech should be with grace and seasoned with salt. We should speak to others in the manner that we would desire to be spoken too.

I am learning how to live successfully. I pray that my mouth will be involved in this great equation.


Monday, March 18, 2013

WANDA WENT CAMPING

Wanda took 5 girls and 4 ladies from our church on a camping trip this past weekend. They went to the annual Powette for our girl's ministry. I was impressed that no guys were along to help set things up. They made it in good fashion and had a ball.

She said it was very cold at night but the days were beautiful. They packed everything in one van and headed south to Central Florida for their campout with around 800 other girls. Now that is a good round number and a lot of hormones going on. Ha!



I am very proud of all she does for our church, and family, and for me. She is something else.

We love to camp and camp in a tent. Can you imagine? Sleeping on the ground on air mattresses is a trip too. We both love the outdoors and nature. Sitting around a campfire and enjoying early morning coffee around a morning campfire is special.

God become more real in His outdoors. The heavens really do declare the glory of God. All you have to do is look at the stars at night and know that God is real.

She came home excited about the next trip. I guess that lets you know she loves it.

Friday, March 15, 2013

LIVING FAST PACED

Running isn't all I do. I only do that 3-5 times a week, but living a full life includes that and much, much more. I am not the earliest riser in the world. I typically wake up around 6 AM or so and get up not long after awakening. Then it is to the coffee pot, my Bible, the news, a workout, breakfast, devotions with Wanda, and on to the office.

The day starts slowly but goes on an ever increasing pace. I write, prepare sermons, meet with staff, plan church activities, do funerals and weddings, preach several times a week, visit the sick, write letters and blogs and church bulletins, socialize, go to church meetings and services, go to appointments, counsel, oversee church properties including 6 rental properties, and the list goes on.

What do I love to do?

Good question.

I love to read, pray, and prepare to preach. I love to preach and encourage people. I love to share the way to heaven. I love helping people come to a knowledge of the Lord and grow in His grace.

Somewhere in all that I like to ride "Big Red", visit family, travel, and do fun stuff. I like to have people in our home. Wanda and I have a bed and breakfast going here, and we enjoy it.

Our lives are full with grandkids and children and dear loved one and friends. They all make life special and without them life would be dull and dark.

But most of all, I love to live to honor and glorify the Lord. I want to finish my life strong and one day hear His words, "Well done thou good and faithful servant."

That is my prayer.

We live fast paced, but it is good.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

PRIORITIES

Someone said to find out what is priority in a person's life can be quickly found by looking at their checkbook. That shows where one is spending their money and notes where their heart really is. Another way is to view where one is spending their time. I suppose their are numerous other ways to determine what is important in one's life besides these two points, but they pretty much tell the tale of priorities.

People do what they want to do. We find a way to do what we love to do. If it is eating, there will be plenty of time for food. If it is sports like fishing, golfing, or motorcycling then we'll make time for those interests.

So who or what is first in your life?

Life begins and ends with God.

Ephesians 4:18a speaks of the "life of God". Life comes from God. He breathes life into our physical beings. He breathes life into our souls.

God is the beginning and end of our being. Life comes from God.

Then why wouldn't we make God our highest priority?

Why wouldn't He be first in our checkbooks?

Why wouldn't He be first in the time of our lives?

When we seek the Lord, everything else finds right order. Life isn't jumbled and crazy. Sin doesn't confuse and bind us. We live with fullness of joy and peace.

Dear Lord, I make you first again in my life. I give you my checkbook and my time. I know everything else will come into proper order. Amen!

Monday, March 11, 2013

HEARTBREAK BRIDGE

My 2013 River Run started fast for me. I was in the reserved group of seated runners and they start their race fast. At least it was a fast start for me.

I felt great. It was a cool morning with no humidity. I had trained strong and done everything I wanted to prepare except I hadn't lost that last 7 pounds of weight I wanted to lose. But, everything being equal, I was excited about running the 2013 15K Gate River Run.



Wanda went with me Saturday morning. We rose early, and ate, prayed, and then headed off for the main event of the day which started at 8:30 AM.

There were some 17,000 plus runners in the race. Everyone was arriving trying to find their places, making one last potty break, and then stretching, and getting ready for the run.

I was in the first 5,000 in the seeded qualifiers which meant that we had run a sanctioned race and had fast enough times to get in the front of the pack. That was huge. It is so much more enjoyable to start closer to the front and not have to worry about slower runners.





My race started at a good pace. The first several miles were exhilarating. I was really enjoying the run and felt that I would best my goal of running in 1 hour and thirty minutes. I had done all the proper training and felt strong.

Then I got toward the 5 mile mark and then 6 mile mark and then 7 mile mark. My steam was running out. As I approached the 8 mile mark, there it stood.

The Green Monster.

The Heartbreak Bridge.

I thought I would die.

But I gritted my teeth, slowed my pace, and made it up that long, hard, mountain of a bridge. I made it to the top.

Going downhill was easy for me and I finally crossed the finish line. I had run my fastest River Run ever! I ran it in 1:36:00 by my time watch. It was slower than my goal, and I was a little disappointed. I was also thrilled at finishing at my best time.

Wanda waited for me that whole time at the finish line, but missed seeing me actually cross the line. There was hundreds passing her and she couldn't spot me. I really appreciate her encouragement and support. She is a winner.



Next year, Lord willing, I will run a faster race. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

I can make it up and over Hartbreak Bridge and not faint!

Friday, March 8, 2013

READY OR NOT HERE I RUN

After weeks of training, dieting, exercising, and running, I am now as ready as I will ever be for the 2013 15K Gate River Run. I have run an average of 16-17 miles weekly for the last few weeks. I have done strength training several times each week. I have dropped almost 20 pounds. I have left off sweets and chosen a better diet. I have studied running books and gleaned the best ways to run efficiently.

So now it is on to the race.

The weather looks agreeable. It should be in the mid to upper 50's with low humidity. I am not sure how the wind will be, but the weather looks super for a great run.

Here is my strategy:

1. Hydrate and eat properly on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday morning.
2. Get proper rest the day or so before including good nights sleep.
3. Eat plenty of carbs the day before.
4. Get to the race early.
5. Run a moderately slow warmup 1st mile.
6. Increase my pace as I progress into the race..
7. Approach the last mile running up the Hart Bridge in a reduced pace.
8. Run a faster pace down both the Main St and Hart Bridges.
9. Really stretch the last half-mile of the race.
10. Finish strong!

I am grateful to the Lord for good health and and strong body. Thank you Lord for your blessings on me. I give God the glory for His help in taking better care of my body, His Temple. With His help I will run this race for His glory.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

LTTLE THINGS

Little things add up to big things and some of the little things turn into big issues.  But, little things handled one at a time never add up. They go away because they are dwelt with in the moment. Thus, they pass into oblivion.

Little things like clutter can become big things like junk or junked up. But clutter picked up ends in a moment. Clutter goes away at the end of the day if you go through the day removing it. It never becomes big. It doesn't take hold. It doesn't become a huge mess.

I can't imagine living in a cluttered up world. I can't imagine the stress that comes when all that little stuff turns into boxes like they do with people that hoard. I have seen pictures of people's homes who live like that. What a mess.

I guess that all those little things get so big that it seems hopeless. They don't see a way out. So, they add to the mess by piling on more little things on top of all the big things they came from previous piles of little things. Life doesn't have to be that way.

Little things add up in the spiritual world too. Little foxes spoil the vines. It doesn't take an elephant to destroy a field. Little foxes can get in and make havoc.

Is there such a thing as a little sin? We see big sins in others, but excuses and justification in ourselves.

Someone said that we judge others by what they do, but we judge ourselves by what we intended to do. There is a significant difference in the judgement of ourselves and others.

So here is the take-a-way:

Lord help me to keep the "little things" swept out of my life. Don't let the spiritual clutter build up so that sadly one day I feel hopeless in all the tangled web of sin. Keep sin, period, out of my life so that I don't hurt you, myself, and those dear to me.

Amen!

Monday, March 4, 2013

A SIMPLE CALL

Jesus has a simple call to all of us. It is an individual call, and it is the most important call.

Jesus said, "Follow me."

This isn't always the easiest call, but it is the call to eternal life and significance.

Rick Warren, the author of the all-time best selling book next to the Bible, says that life is lived at three levels.

The first level is survival. This is merely getting by in life.

The second level is success. This is the life of material things.

The third level is significance. This is the life of fulfilled purpose and value.

Significance starts with following Jesus. It starts by believing upon Him. Trusting Him. Obeying His Word. Living a life putting the Kingdom of God first. Then everything falls into place. It is often a life of sacrifice and selfless living, but without losing one's life you cannot find it.

I chose the simple call. I can understand it. I will follow Jesus.

Friday, March 1, 2013

SEVEN MILE RUN

Thursday morning I awakened at 5:30 or so and decided to get up and complete my last long run before the 15K Gate River Run on March 9. They recommend doing your last long run a week before the 15K so I was interested in staying on course in my training routine. I will yet run a few more runs before the race but the longest will be 4 or 5 miles.

I ate pizza for dinner Wednesday night which is not the best racing fuel before a longer race. Neither did I hydrate as much as I typically should the day before a longer run. However, I felt good and it was cold and not humid so I decided to get her done.

Well, I did. I had a great run. My time was good and could have been faster if I had pushed more. I ran a 7 mile in 68 minutes and 50 seconds. Not bad.

I ate oatmeal and a couple of eggs and hour or so before I ran. That seemed to fuel me enough for a good run. As they say, "It is in the books."

Training for the River Run is stimulating. It helps motivate me to get in better shape. I feel good and function better all day by better exercise and better eating. All of that is paying off.

I plan on running three to four days a week even after the River Run. I will walk more with Wanda and we'll do some strength training together. I want her to be in good shape too.

So now I am on the down hill side toward the run. Not more long runs until "The Run". Yeah! I feel good!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

ENCOURAGEMENT

Recently I took an advanced motorcycle training course to sharpen my riding skills. It was about five hours in length and focusing on improving riding skills to minimize potential accidents. I had been wanting to take such a course for some time, but I hadn't found one available.

My motorcycle mentor, Jim Woodford, called a few weeks back and informed me of this course so I signed up. Actually, Jim was the instructor. He is a certified motorcycle safety instructor and an outstanding motorcyclist. I was excited about the chance of taking the class.

When we arrived for the course, Jim started the class with basic information. We also had to do a motorcycle checklist to show the road worthiness of our individual motorcycles. We rode our own motorcycles for this class so they had to proven to be in proper mechanical shape.

"Big Red" passed with flying colors. From tire pressure to lights and electrical, everything was in order. Good motorcycle safety begins with the motorcycle proving to be road worthy.

Then it was out to the "range" where we would be riding. Jim directed us to the first exercise and then demonstrated how to do it by riding through the course for us to watch him. That looked really easy to me. I didn't see a problem doing what he demonstrated.

Then it was our turn.

I followed the other 11 motorcyclist and began to do what he had just demonstrated. Then I realized how much better he was at riding a motorcycle than me. I couldn't do it. It wasn't easy at all. I couldn't make the turns and weaves he was making.

With a little practice that morning I began to get better. As I worked through the course, Jim and his partner would applaud when I or other riders improved or succeeded. I can't tell you how encouraging a little applause was to me that day.

All of us need a little encouragement from time to time. I know I did. Their encouragement  was motivating and stimulating. I got better and felt heartened. I began to do better each run through the course.

There is a lesson there. Why not be an encourager rather than a doubter or downer? Why not lift up rather than suppress or devalue? Why not offer a helping hand rather than a judging hand?

I think I'll be an encourager today.

Monday, February 25, 2013

FIVE MILE RUN

Saturday I ran the 5 mile Ortega River Run here in Jacksonville. It is an annual run that serves as a tune-up run for the upcoming 15K Gate River Run on March 9 this year. I have run the Ortega Run a number of times and was hoping to make this year's run my best run time wise.

When I arrived for the race, I positioned myself up toward the start line with the faster runners so as not to have to swerve past slower runners as the race started. My recent times have been good so I thought I was ready for an even faster run.

The gun went off and the race began. It was a fast pace but I kept up as I hoped to pace myself to a better run. When I got to the first mile marker of the race, I was shocked with how fast I had ran. It was an 8 minute mile.  It was my fastest time ever for a mile. Then I realized my mistake. It was too fast as I had four more mile to run.

It was hot and humid. I mean really hot and humid in comparison to the recent weather that I had been training in. I was spent with four miles to go.

The good news is that I finished with my best time ever for Ortega River Run. My time was 49:35, but I was not pleased. I had run a 5 mile run earlier in the week at a time of 46 minutes flat. I was disappointed.

Here is what happened.

My 46 minute 5 mile run earlier in the week didn't include any bridges and the Ortega Run has two bridges to cross and that slows you down. It was much hotter and humid for the Ortega Run and that slows your time. I realized that I had not properly hydrated for the Ortega Run and with all that humidity that was a killer. I hadn't sleep well the night before the Ortega Run.

Finally, I started with too fast a pace and finished weakly. Running an 8 minute first mile for me is not smart. That all will have to change for the River Run. That is my goal to do better, run smarter, and finish strong.

I am on the final two week countdown to the River Run. I am getting stronger and better. I hope to have a great race.


Friday, February 22, 2013

TWO MILE RUN

I am headed down the stretch toward the 15K Gate River Run. Thursday morning I did a fast 2 mile run with a time under 9 min per mile. That's not great, but I think it's ok for me. I'm increasing my pace in running. I look at my time watch through the run to gauge my pace and keep it at the right time per mile. That takes focus and mental determination.

Life is like that in that too often we're not focused and not living intentionally. We take life as it comes rather than under God making life happen. We don't rid ourselves of unnecessary weights and they weigh us down.

Can you imagine me carrying a 25 pound weight in my arms to do a 15K run? Don't worry. I am not doing that, but I was carrying 25 extra pounds around my waist that I no longer carry. Discipline, hard, work, and focus have helped me eliminate those extra pounds.

Saturday I am running the 5 mile Ortega River Run. I have run this race five or six times, and I hope that this year will be my best run yet. I ran a practice 5 mile run earlier this week and did it in 46 minutes. That's not bad either. I hope to beat that time on Saturday.

I am claiming 100 years of long life. Of course that is in God's hands, but I am going to try to help Him by making as good of life and health choices as I can.

Today I ran two miles toward better health and a better life. With God, I can do all things and run the race of life and finish strong. Thank you Lord for your help. Amen!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

FRIENDS AND NEW FRIENDS

Wanda and I enjoyed having long-time friends from Bartow, FL, in our home this past weekend. Les and Jill Barr are members of the Bartow Assembly where I pastored in the '80's. We have great memories of fun and fellowship with them. Wanda especially has been close to them for many years after I left the pastorate there.



Les and I have played some serious tennis matches as he has a hard booming serve. He is very competitive and so am I. So our tennis games were serious and intent. Yes, we had fun, but fun includes bragging rights. I don't know who won the most, but I know we burned tons of calories. Jill played also but in doubles.

They brought friends, Wayne and Debbie Elliott, with them. All four came up to help plan a conference that will be hosted by our church this June for Royal Rangers. Royal Rangers is a christian outreach and discipleship ministry to boys that centers on camping and other activities that young boys love.

Wayne and Les are both highly committed and skilled in this area. Les serves the Assemblies of God as the Southeast Regional Commander to oversee training and development of leaders. When I was his pastor in Bartow,  I asked him to become the commander of our local Royal Rangers Post, and he has used his gifts and talents to touch countless boys lives. Wayne has similar gifting.

Wanda is a fantastic host. She could manage a bed and breakfast with style. In fact, I think she does. I am so proud and thankful for her and the many ways she blesses our home and family. She makes me look good.

Having fun with friends and making new friends is special. People make life worthwhile. Yes, there are risks and there is work, but life is a risk and work is part of life.

We had fun times talking and sharing and eating Wanda's comfort foods. Oh my, that was a delicious pound cake. Wow! Hospitality is a great gift. It is part of the qualifying of the calling for ministry. Paul wrote that if a man isn't hospital then he doesn't qualify to be a pastor. Well, Wanda qualifies me to be a pastor, and she blesses others. Greg and Becky Riley from our church here joined us for Sunday lunch to help plan the conference. They are key leaders of our Royal Ranger Post here at Southside.


People tell us that they feel peace in our home. I know where that comes from. It comes from the Lord, and it comes from the peace of God in our hearts. People feel that peace. I am thankful.

Monday, February 18, 2013

ANOINTING

I have felt the anointing of God upon my life. It is a peaceful, sweet awareness that God's presence is with me and in me. It is cleansing and sanctifying and empowering. The anointing of God's Spirit is not to be taken or used lightly. It is holy and pure.

In recent weeks as I have left church after ministering, there has been a very unusual awareness of God's Spirit in me. I can't totally explain it, but I know it is real. It is uplifting and edifying and strengthening. It fills my being with peace and pure joy. It is like something from another world. It is.

God's Word tells us over and over that we can and should be filled with His Spirit. Jesus came be real in our hearts. His Spirit can fill us.

Through this anointing, there is power to live for Jesus and fulfill His work and will. This is not for a select few, but God's Word indicates this is for whoever is hungry and thirsty for more of the Lord.

So today I open my heart for more of His Spirit. His Spirit will help me to fulfill His call upon my life to bless my family, to preach His Word and strengthen believers.

Oh Lord, fill me with your Holy Spirit today. Take away anything in my life that does not honor you. Anoint me to be a vessel of honor to bring glory to your name. May the words of my mouth and the mediations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, Oh Lord, my strength and my redeemer. Amen.

Friday, February 15, 2013

A NINE MILE RUN

I am running 9 miles this morning, Lord willing.

This is in preparation for the upcoming 15K Gate River Run on March 9. It is 9.3 miles so if I complete my Friday morning run I will have run 15K minus .3 miles. Hopefully I can do that in less than a 10 minute mile average. That would be 9 miles in 90 minutes. That is my goal.

My goal is to also lose 10 lbs before March 9 so I will be 10 lbs lighter. That would be obvious. Not carrying 10 extra pounds should help me toward my goal of finishing in 90 minutes. I don't know if the 90m goal is attainable, but that is what I am pushing to do.

Why is that important? Good question.

I want to beat my previous River Run best by 6 minutes. I believe it is attainable, but I will have to get over those bridges and that is where the pain comes. I have been running the downtown bridges once each week to prepare. It is tough running uphill for half a mile or so. That is all the more reason to lose 10 pounds.

Image carrying a 10 weight on a 9.3 mile run. That wouldn't be any fun, but carrying it around your waist is the same difference. I feel those pounds pulling me down, slowing me, dragging me.

What does it take to run a 15K?

Training, sweat, determination, and perseverance. This doesn't come easy, but I can do it.

I hope to get back to my weight of 178 pounds before the race. Pray that I will make it.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

GETTING THINNER

It is very hard for a preacher to stay thin. Last week one precious church member offered strawberry shortcake with whipped cream at a delicious luncheon that Wanda and I enjoyed in their home. At a funeral dinner, another church member baked a fabulous peanut butter cake just for me, she said. There was some serious calories in those deserts, and man were those cakes and pies good!

Then a preacher's work is primarily sedentary. We study. Sit behind a desk. We counsel. We fellowship. While the act of preaching is physical, there isn't enough exercise in that to keep one fit.

Then there is the mental, emotional, and physiological strains. While I am thankful for God's call on my life to preach and pastor, sharing in carrying the needs, burdens, trials, and problems of others can be impacting and in the process add to the physical problems pastor's face. I won't say I eat because of the strains and rigors of pastoring, but I will say that stress pushes one toward comfort foods. Ha!

What is one to do?

Well, gluttony is a sin.

My, that is blunt, but true.

I don't want to sin so I guess I have to look at the alternatives.

Through the years I have incorporated various ways to get some physical exercise. I have enjoyed tennis, bicycling, walking, swimming, jogging and running, working in my yard, doing various video workout programs, going to the gym, basketball, and other forms of physical exercise.

I have also made adjustments in my diet.

I gave up sodas years ago. I gave up sweeteners in my coffee after Wanda and I married. She helped me with that one. I gave up fried foods and have tried to pay attention to portion sizes at meals. I have tried to eat slower to enjoy my food and better digest it. This helps to get the sense of fullness quicker and thus not tend to over eat. I have chosen to eat a lite snack midmorning and mid-afternoon to help me not to get too hungry and then overeat at meal times.

Why do all of this? Because preachers tend to get fat due to the previous things mentioned. I want to be my best and enjoy life. Taking care of my body will help me do that and also help me to be an encourager to others to do the same.

So, Lord help me today to take care of my body so I can honor you and bring glory to your name.

Amen!

Monday, February 11, 2013

MORNING DEVOTIONS

My day begins every morning reading the Word. I am using a 6 month Bible program to read through God's Word every six months. Then I spend a few moments in prayer. Later in the morning Wanda and I have a devotional and prayer time.

We pray for our children and grandchildren and parents and siblings. We call them by name and pray over any particular needs we are aware of in their lives. We also pray for our church staff and leaders and our church family. Prayer changes things. It moves mountains. It is the difference maker.

Sunday after church a young man came up to the altar and shared how much he enjoyed the church service. He said that Sunday church sets the pace for his week. It cleanses and blesses. He was so excited. He is right.

And so does morning devotions. They help set the pace for the day. One connects with God right from the beginning of the day. That is how I feel.

Where did I get this discipline?

I learned it growing up as a boy in our home. We prayed together every morning. We might miss the bus or be late, but we prayed together. Those prayers kept me as I grew up, and now these many years as an adult I have continued to follow that discipline because it still works.

Worry is conquered through prayer.

Mountains are brought low through prayer.

Wisdom is received through prayer.

Strength is renewed through prayer.

Problems are solved through prayer.

Families are united through prayer.

I have on my nightstand a small card that reads, "Nothing is too hard for God." I read it every morning. It is an encouragement to me and reminds me that there is nothing I will face through the day that is too big for my God.

Morning devotions are a huge source of enrichment in my life. Thank God that He is waiting every morning for our private time.

Amazing!

Friday, February 8, 2013

I'M BACK

Surprise! I'm back.

I have written over 1,000 blogs and only skipped a handful of days in writing, but I took off the first part of this week. Actually, I have been funeralizing. That's not a real word. I just made it up. One of our precious saints here at the church I pastor went to be with the Lord, and then another in a church I pastored 35 years ago passed. So this week I have been busy ministering to those who have lost dear ones.

Death is part of life. We don't have to fear death or even dread it, if we are a believer. Jesus defeated death at Calvary. Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!

One day there will be no more death, but until then we must fight the good fight of faith, even through death. We don't have to fear walking through the valley of the shadow of death for Jesus is with us, but for those who remain there is pain and loss to deal with.

Grieving is a process, but misery is a choice.

Pain, denial, anger, hurt, acceptance and healing all are a part of that grieving process. Grief isn't dealt  with in a couple of weeks or months. It takes a couple of years or more to go through the process, and then the pain still doesn't go away. You just don't hurt as long as you once did.

What have I learned in preaching untold funeral sermons these forty plus years of ministry?

I have learned that Jesus is real and the comfort of the Holy Spirit is real.

I have learned that grief can be overcome.

I have learned that people don't need all of my sermons. They need a listening ear and a caring heart.

I have learned that a tender heart means more than a profound, stirring sermon.

I have learned that heaven is real and that in Jesus we have eternal hope.

I have learned that life if brief and can end in a moment.

I have learned that being ready for eternity is all that matters.

I have learned that only what we do for Christ matters.