If it doesn't count for Christ, it doesn't count.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Lori's Christmas, A Troubled Fields Vignette by Dennis Manor

"Dat's a Chawwy Bwown twee!" the little girl said smiling as her mother carried her to bed.

     "Yes, honey, it is," Lori replied to three year old Susannah. Lori was glad that her daughter was only repeating what she had heard Lori say, but she was troubled by the truth of it. It hurt that her child's Christmas was nothing like those she had known growing up as one of Emily Sullivan's daughters. Her father, Carl, made a big show of it, but that's all it ever was.  . . . Just another episode of the grand spectacle that was Carl Sullivan's life. Her mother, though, did all she could to make Christmas special and memorable.

     Money was no problem in the Sullivan household. Emily tried to raise Lori and her big sister, Laura, to be appreciative of what they had. She wanted to give them a good Christmas without being exorbitant or showy. Carl, on the other hand, was all about the show. It had nothing to do with "look at what you got" and everything to do with "look at what I got you."

     Laura pretty much ate it up. And by the time she had grown into her teens, she knew well that the more she fed her father's ego, the more he did to ensure that she maintained her social standing. Laura either ignored or failed to see the reality of her relationship with her father.  Lori, on the other hand, never bought into Carl's attempts to bring attention to himself by spoiling his daughters. As a result, Laura attained and held "favorite daughter" status to this very day, her one great transgression never spoken of, but always held before her. Lori harbored no ill feelings for Laura. She loved her sister and felt sorry for her. Laura never really had her own life. Her bid to please her father had cost Laura in ways she did not yet understand herself. And, it had cost others as well.

     Lori was not so much a victim of Carl and Laura's relationship as she was her own disdain for him. What she knew about Carl, but could not reveal, had placed a barrier between them when she was only thirteen years old. Now twenty, she was unrecognizable as Carl's daughter in that she carried none of the trappings that went with being a Sullivan . . . especially at Christmastime.

     The apartment in Tupelo was small and sparsely furnished. Two scratchy Christmas albums provided all the Christmas entertainment they had. Their television had gone out months earlier and Davey, despite his repeated promises, had not taken it to the repair shop yet. Lori missed the Christmas specials she had grown up watching. She did her best at baking cookies and a cake, but it was not the same as the sideboard full of deserts she and Laura and their mother had prepared together every year.

     Her little artificial "Charley Brown Tree", found in the Mission Store, lacked everything, including sincerity. At least Charley Brown's tree had that much! A string of lights did little to brighten and highlight the few cheap ornaments she could afford. Presents under the tree included three for Susannah; one each from Laura and Emily, and one from Lori. And then there was one for Davey from Lori. Lori had one each from Laura and Emily, but nothing from Davey. "I'm bringing you something special when I get off the road," he had declared. Thinking of it, Lori shook her head sadly. It would not materialize. It never did with Davey.

     Marrying Davey was a bigger mistake than her brief marriage to Tim had been. Now, pregnant with Davey's child, Lori felt trapped in a marriage that was not working and never would. For one thing, Davey was gone most of the time. He was a truck driver and he took every load he could get. Holidays with the family meant little to him . . . even Christmas, apparently. "Gotta bring in that money," he would always say. Somehow, Lori rarely saw any of it.

     She had gone to work as a cashier in a grocery store to make sure as many as possible of the bills were paid. It took all she earned and more to keep the household going. She could make more waiting tables she knew, but she needed to be at home with Susannah at night. Even then, there were often late nights at the store.

   So, here she was, alone, having put her very excited daughter to bed. She was having second thoughts about refusing Laura's invitation to come down to Dover and spend Christmas with her and Clint and Emmy. True, she had to work until six that very evening, and she was supposed to be back on the job early on the twenty-sixth. She could have worked something out had she tried. She suddenly felt very guilty. Her pride was keeping Susannah from having a great Christmas. Carl would ignore them at best, but Laura and their mother would have made it very special.

     "Bad decisions," she muttered to herself. "My life is just a string of bad decisions."

     Thinking back to Davey, she was instantly hit by that ever present awareness. He didn't love her. Not really. But then, she didn't love him either. It was something they both entered into without much thought. The difference was that she stayed faithful to Davey. She had doubts that he did the same. The baby she now carried was unplanned. The effect of her own mistakes was ever-expanding in its intrusion into other lives . . . lives of those most important to her.
     Lori knew that marriage would not work for her. Tim was a "have to" situation. They had made the wrong choice, which left them with no choice. Davey was a cute charmer. It was as if he and Lori each thought they could make a proper mate of the other. It was soon evident that no such change was to be made by either for the sake of the other. And then, always with her, was the one constant of her life, . . . Ray.

     Her heart belonged to Ray. For as long as she could remember it had been Ray, but he didn't know. He didn't know then . . . and he didn't know now. He never would or could know. Lori had last seen him seven years before. It was at her home, in Dover, where she lived with her parents and sister. Ray was in handcuffs being helped into the back seat of a deputy sheriff's car. She couldn't hope to see him for another thirty-three years, if then. There certainly was no reason for her to be on Ray's list of people to look up when he got out.

     Four decades is a long time to a twenty year old. And waiting for Ray Bennett to be released from Parchman Penitentiary and fall in love with her was not much of a plan for her future, Lori knew. But then, neither did marrying someone just because she needed a husband. Her own future appeared to Lori to be no more than a crystal clear reflection of her past. She had to do better. With a three year old and another child on the way, she knew she must make a good, stable home for for them. She could do that. After all, hadn't her own mother done pretty much the same thing? Well, the immediate future meant giving Susannah the best Christmas she could. So tomorrow was her little girl's day!

     Tonight? Tonight was just another lonely Christmas Eve. She would sleep in hopes of a dream that she could in no way imagine coming true. And as unlikely as it already was, her own decisions, again, had made it an undeniably impossible dream. She felt a sadness, as well as no small amount of disgust with herself, that she could not muster up the desire to dream of her husband. Lori sighed and pulled up a blanket to warm herself as she lay on the couch for a nap. The few things Santa Claus was to leave for Susannah would be laid out later. She gazed at the lights on the tree and they blurred through her tears. Elvis sang "Blue Christmas" on the stereo.

     "Merry Christmas, Ray," she whispered.

     The End


Wednesday, December 05, 2012

All I Wanna Be Is A Charlie Brown Tree

I was just beginning another post which makes reference to the famed "Charley Brown Christmas Tree" when I had to stop and write this one. I suddenly found myself pondering that tree. And I am amazed, and somewhat embarrassed, that I have missed the significance of that tree for all these many years.

In "A Charlie Brown Christmas", which I haven't watched for a few years now, the piano playing and dancing, Snoopy's dog house decorating antics and the Red Baron, and the highlight of the show, Linus' Christmas story, are all great.

My favorite part has always been when Linus takes to the stage and stands in the spotlight and repeats the Biblical account of Jesus' birth. " . . . and that's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."  But, I have just missed what might be the greatest lesson this decades old cartoon offers.

Charley Brown is tasked with finding a Christmas Tree for the big play. He comes back with the scrawniest, weakest, ugliest, least Christmas Tree looking Christmas Tree on the lot. He is criticized for his choice, and his recognition of the "sincerity" of the tree is scoffed at. The tree itself is dying fast as needles fall to the floor and everyone laughs and walks away.

Here is where Linus tells the story of the birth of Jesus Christ. And here is where hearts change. The kids go out and take down the decorations Snoopy had used to get his house into a Christmas decorating contest. They take them and place them on the tree Charley Brown had brought. As they back away, we see that the tree is now a thing to behold in its beauty.

When everyone got over their own ideas of what a Christmas Tree should look like before it is a Christmas Tree, and gave of themselves - Linus even gave his treasured, protected, and guarded blanket - what they gave made the tree beautiful. When the Charley Brown kids realized that a Christmas Tree is not a Christmas Tree until it is a Christmas Tree, they saw its potential.

It's the same with us. Jesus knows us for what we are. He knows us for what we can be . . . . what He created us to be. And as scrawny and weak and ugly and un-Christlike as we are, He gives of Himself. It is not that He merely decorates us, He transform us into new creatures. He gives life to a dying soul. He fills us spiritually and makes us strong. Living within, He teaches us and guides us and enables us to be like Him.

The Charlie Brown kids took one look at that tree and declared it unfit to be a Christmas Tree. Jesus never looks at anyone, no matter what lies in their past or what is in their heart, and declares them unfit for His righteousness. He takes us with our weakness and all the ugliness of our sin and He adorns us with His presence. He makes us fit for His righteousness; something that we cannot do ourselves. Have you ever noticed how beautiful each and every one of your Christian brothers and sisters is? It is a beauty that was not there before, but has been there ever since Christ came into their lives.

We have not the slightest idea of what our true potential is until Christ comes into our lives. Just like Snoopy's dog house which was  gaudy, "un-Christmasy", and defeated it's own purpose, our own attempts to "be good" and to "do good" and "look good" fall so very short of Godliness. It is impossible to be a Christian by trying to look like one and act like one. But when Jesus goes to work in us and on us there is no more acting, there is only being. And that is a beautiful thing indeed!      

If Barbara Walters ever asks me what kind of tree I would like to be, I have answer for her!


Here is your video.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Christmas, the 15th --- a Troubled Fields Vignette by Dennis Manor

(This story takes place about 10 months before the novel, Troubled Fields, begins.)    

     The scent of green cedar merged with the fragrance of oranges and tangerines to bring a heightened sense of peace with every breath. The chunk of hard ribbon candy lay sweet upon his tongue. That feeling, unknown at any other time and indescribable at any time, filled the air around him. In a strange but comforting way the wintery cold just beyond the door could be felt through the cozy warmth provided by the space heater. The steady whisper of butane feeding the flames that peeked through the ceramic grates in the heater promised increasing warmth as the day progressed. Coffee was percolating while Pat and Mary cooked and set the table for breakfast. The happy sounds of soft conversation and dishes rattling in the kitchen mixed with music from a new album on the stereo to make a music all its own. And the noise of kids playing with newly discovered toys was not noise at all. Things that were heard, seen, and smelled with a great sense of awareness and appreciation on this one day would simply blend unnoticed into the background on any other day. It was all part of a beautiful concoction that had come with the dawn and would be gone when all eyes in the house closed for another night's slumber. It was simply the best feeling to be had this side of Heaven, and it must be savored    . . . every moment of it.


     He could hardly force his eyes away from the tree. The presents piled beneath it were a decoration unto themselves. It would not be quite the same once their ribbons and bows were scattered across the floor along with piles of once beautiful paper reduced to so much garbage. But, for now, he found himself drawn to it all, strangely desiring to be absorbed into the the splash of colored light reflected in glass balls of red and blue and silver and green. It was as if the lights on the tree spoke of the One who could fix everything. Gazing into those lights, he felt that there was something there that could, but would not, offer an explanation. Was he to try to understand, or was he merely to wonder at the mystery of a lighted tree?

     "Ray?" the voice repeated softly, evenly.

     He could hear, but he could not turn away from the tree.

     "Ray?" the voice said yet again in almost imperceptible insistence.

     Forcing his head to turn toward the voice, he found himself gazing into those beautiful brown eyes. Unmistakeable . . . and how strange.

     "Merry Christmas."

     "Laura. . . . Laura! . . . I've missed you!" He struggled to say. Just the sight of Laura kindled a long abandoned happiness within him.

     She reached out and cupped his face in her hands as if it was something she did every day. But, he couldn't remember any other day. The softness of her touch moved him. He closed his eyes and reached for her to pull her to himself for a kiss. He found himself reaching into thin air. Opening his eyes now, Laura was standing before him with the baby in her arms.

     "Emmy!" Ray  said smiling. "Merry Christmas!" He reached for her, but Laura held the baby closer to herself. "Can I hold her?" Ray questioned.

     Laura stood there before him, suddenly detached. Her smile had faded and displeasure registered on her face.

     "Laura? Can I hold her?" he asked again.

     Laura backed away.

     Ray stood and took a step toward them. "Hey, Emmy!" he whispered. "How 'bout a Christmas kiss for your old man?" The baby recoiled as if in fear and began to cry.

     "See what you've done?" Laura scolded. "You messed it all up! Just go back. You don't belong here . . . with us."

     The folding doors that led to the dining room opened and Laura turned her back on Ray as she walked toward someone waiting just beyond the opening. As Laura reached him, their lips met in a lingering kiss. The man bent and kissed the baby in Laura's arms as little Emmy giggled the way infants do. Ray strained to make out the face. . . . Clint! Clint McKay was in his home kissing his . . . his  . . . his what?

     "Hey, Ray!" Clint said easily, as if he were glad to see his old friend.

     "Clint," Ray replied, amazed at how easily he accepted the scene before him.

     Looking at Laura, an immense embarrassment fell upon him. Why would he have tried to kiss her? She was married to Clint. He knew that. . . . didn't he? The sense of warmth and belonging seemed to drain from him. He felt himself being pulled away by a force he couldn't understand. He couldn't stay, but he didn't want to go. Turning his gaze back to the tree to take in the wonder and beauty of it, his heart sank. The lights had gone dark. The tall cedar looked more like an over grown house plant there in the corner. The comfort it had brought was gone. Noise. It was all just noise now and it grew in intensity. One of the kids was playing with a ray gun nearby. The grating buzz it produced grew louder and louder. It rose to a near deafening pitch.

     Ray jerked, and when he did, he shook himself awake. He frowned as an all too familiar disappointment filled his mind, the regret of waking. The buzz was not that of a child's toy. It was the same buzzer he heard throughout the day every day. It told him when to wake up. It told him when to get in line. It told him when to sit down to eat. It told him when to go outside and when to come back in. And it told him when to lay down to sleep . . . and dream . . . for yet another night.

     "Come on, Ray. Breakfast is coming up and then it's turkey and dressing for dinner. Merry Christmas," a fellow inmate said as he passed Ray's bunk.

     "Yeah, Merry Christmas," Ray replied as he found his voice. "Fifteen down, twenty-five to go," he said to no one in particular.

     "Fifteen Christmases, fifteen dreams," he thought to himself. "Lord, I don't understand them. Maybe it's just my mind processin' all the information and events in my life. Anyway, I thank you for those dreams. As weird as some of them are, its kind of like bein' back home for Christmas. And I thank you for that. I hope you don't mind me dreamin' about Laura. Nothin's gon' come of it. It's just a dream, and I don't think I can control it any way. Mostly, I thank you for what this day stands for . . . for what it means. Thank you, Jesus, for coming. Thank you for forgiveness. Thank you for setting us free. . . . even in here."

     A short while later, as he sat eating Parchman Penitentiary's best breakfast and exchanging Christmas stories with men who had maybe one single thing in common, Ray pondered his dream of the night before and its disturbing end. Coming back to reality he mused that this certainly was not the life he had dreamed of as a young boy in Dover, Mississippi. Then it hit him.  .  .  . Life really is pretty much like a dream. Neither one goes quite the way you want it to.

And Christmas? Well, Christmas in your own home is a fine thing for certain, but it's the Christmas in your heart that really matters, 'cause it's Christmas . . . no matter where you are.

The End

Here's your video. I had to look through a good many of them to come up with this one. Maybe you'll like it.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

who are you gonna trust?

As a Christian who is VERY interested in the process of electing men and women to serve our country in leadership and official positions, I find myself looking at our current presidential race in a different way than I have before. And I'm realizing that I should have been looking at it this way in each of the 9, soon to be 10, presidential elections I have cast my vote in. It is the choice we have to make that has brought me here.

I don't get political on this blog, so this is not going to be a political post. I openly support a candidate and a point of view, but I won't use this blog for that purpose. That being said, I am so glad, honored, privileged, and humbled to be a part of THE group of people who can, should, and, I believe this time will, determine the outcome of the election and the course of our nation. It may seem odd, but party affiliation has nothing to do with it. My . . . no, wait . . . our opinion on the issues has nothing to do with it. It goes far beyond any election.

As a Christian, I, quite remarkably, am among a group of people who are called by the name of God. There is absolutely nothing remarkable about me. The Holy Spirit living in me brought "remarkable" with Him when He moved in. Because of Jesus Christ, I am an adopted son of God.

Ephesians 1:3-6 (NIV)   Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love  he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will —  to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

1 John 3:1-2 (NIV)  See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.  Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

There is much more scripture to support our adoption into the family of God, but I just want to let God's Word reinforce who we are. If we know Jesus, we are His children . . . literally. We are, and we have a right to be, called by His name.

So, with that in mind, a very familiar passage, a promise from our Father, tells us our part in continuing the hurt and pain, or in healing our nation. It is His work to do, but we have a grave responsibility to Him that we must carry out if we are to see healing occur.

2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)  "if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land."

"If my people, who are called by my name," - that's us . . . Christians, believers and followers of Jesus

"will humble themselves" - I have to put me down and lift God up in my life.  I must give up my own agendas - personal, political, religious, everything - and humble myself before God, knowing that He reigns over all, and it is His way and His plan that matters and not mine. 

"and pray" - self explanatory, but we must pray earnestly, not out of fear or obligation or ritualistically, but in love and respect and anticipation, talking to our Heavenly Father as we have talked to our earthly parent, expecting something to come from the conversation.

"and seek my face" - we must seek God's will, His desire, and live every moment right before Him, in His presence, hiding nothing and living only to please Him.

"and turn from their wicked ways" - This is where we might get hung up. After all, we're Christians! We are children of God, called by His name. "Wicked ways?  We gave up our wicked ways! He must be talking to those unrepentant sinners out there." Well, He's not talking to them. He is talking to us! "if my people", remember? So "their wicked ways" here applies to those of us who are God's children.

Once that is settled, our next obvious question is, "What wicked ways?" 'cause, in our minds, it's still not quite settled. We have to search our hearts. And, if we come up empty, unable to recognize what God would call "wicked" within us, we have to go to Him and ask Him to reveal those things in us that we cannot see for ourselves.

It could be any number of things, but let me make a suggestion. In keeping with the context of the Word, we know that Israel's greatest problem, her greatest sin, was their worship of false gods, their failure to consistently trust God. Certainly "behavioral sin" occurred throughout Israel and Judah. And all sin has consequence. But, their greatest troubles came when Israel and Judah as a nation(s) were out of fellowship with the one true God and were worshiping false gods. They were depending on inanimate objects to provide for them what their true God had always provided and promised to continue to provide.

We have witnessed time and time again how dangerous it is, as individuals or as a nation, to take ourselves from under the protection and providence of God. Not because He will grow angry and "get us", but because we leave ourselves open to and vulnerable to all the forces that are out there relentlessly seeking to kill, steal and destroy us. . . . Forces God protects us from when we cling to Him, and even when we don't. We cannot imagine the utter chaos and destruction that would befall us if God, even for a brief moment, completely lifted His hand of protection from us and left us alone to face enemies many of us don't even know we have. But when we turn away from God we are turning to something else. And, at some point, God is going to use what we turn to to bring us back to Himself. Refusing that, we will find ourselves being destroyed by the very thing we have allowed to take God's place in our lives. 

So, is our wickedness some form of idol worship that we don't recognize? Who do we depend on? What do we depend on? Where do we look and where do we go with our wants and needs, and to whom do we give credit, praise, and thanks? Are we looking for a man or a woman to lead our nation in a certain direction, and then we either rejoice or mourn depending on that outcome? Certainly, the person in office is vitally important. But, they only occupy the office because God gave it to them. So, if our desires and expectations stop at "the office" we will find ourselves deeply disappointed. We must not fall prey to the notion of "OK, God. This is good. We can take it from here."

When it comes to worshiping idols and depending upon false Gods, are you worshiping the upcoming election? To be sure, this is a vital election . . . perhaps the most important one of our generation. I am not criticizing people who are greatly involved in the process and who are heavily promoting one candidate or the other. I do that myself. But, we must be diligent to seek God and follow His direction in this.

Because . . .

"then I will hear from Heaven" - When our hearts are given over to God and we are truly seeking Him and His way with no hidden or sub-agenda of our own He will hear (acknowledge, recognize, act upon) our prayer. Pure prayer has nothing to do with eloquence, vocabulary, diction, tone of voice, or posture . . . it has everything to do with the heart.

"and I will forgive their sin" -  We have only to look at the history of Israel in the Old Testament to see that, for God's people, poor leadership, sinful leadership, Godless leadership, is a result of and a cultivator of the people's sin. God will not heal our land before He forgives our sin, and repentance is required for forgiveness.

I hasten to say that, as Christians, our sin has already been forgiven. When Jesus said, "It is finished" upon the cross, it was finished, and it is finished. We have accepted that great gift of forgiveness and salvation, and it is ours for all eternity. But, we continue to sin. Unacknowledged sin is unrepentant sin, and that causes problems in our life. It will not send us to Hell. . . . "there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death." But, like sin does, this sin will continue to eat away at us and prevent us from becoming all God intends for us to be. We must acknowledge our sin, repent of our sin, and ask God to forgive our sin, so we can move forward in the righteousness He provides and live the life He has planned for us.

It is the same for us as a nation of believers. It is up to the believers of our nation. God is faithful and will forgive our sin as individuals and as a nation.

"and will heal their land." What does a healed America look like? I don't know, but I expect it looks much like the one God described to the children of Israel so long ago. I believe it is a prosperous land where opportunity abounds for everyone. I'm sure it is a land where violent crime, substance abuse and addiction, pornography and immorality of all kinds, selfishness and greed,  . . . all this and more become rare rather than common everyday occurrences,  and provoke outrage rather than a shrug of the shoulder, and receive a just penalty under well administered law rather than a slap on the wrist that has no just or rehabilitative value. I believe a healed land is one where we help those in need to have a better life rather than a sub-standard life. A healed land is surely one where the norm is for people to join together in a common cause of truly living as one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all  A healed land will not be perfect. Problems - sin - will still exist. I pray that a healed land is one that has been swept by revival and continues to honor God. In a healed land, God will be revered rather than reviled.

All of that seems so far away now. But that is only because we are looking at the work, the destruction, of mankind's sinful nature upon our nation. It won't be man's work that restores and heals our land. It will be the work of God's own hand that does that, even though, I'm sure, He will make extensive use of us in the process. And we really have little or no idea of what all that looks like despite what we imagine. 

As God has prescribed, it will be, however, our cries, the prayers of those who are called by His name, that moves Him to pour out His mercy and grace and heal and restore this great nation.
One more time:

2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)  "if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land."

 Millions of Americans are doing this right now! Are you? The bigger question is; Are we just going through the motions, or do we fully expect and anticipate a great healing? And the upcoming election is not the be-all-end-all to that. We don't know how, or even if, that figures into God's plan for healing. One way or the other, I'm pretty sure it has its role. The important thing is that we look to no man or woman, no politician or leader, to fix our nation, but that we look to God alone.

And, while you at it, remember that these Unites States of America is not the only nation in dire need of God's healing. We have Christian brothers and sisters all over the world who are praying to God for healing for their lands as well. Why not join them? Are you concerned that that is an awful lot of healing for one God to accomplish? How great is our God?


Since you hung in here are read this long post, why not watch this long video? It'll get you goin'! Even at 1:15 am.


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Actually, no news would be better news . . . (big sigh)

The first thing I saw on my Yahoo home page a few minutes ago was the story of the couple who, at almost the last minute, was refused a wedding in the church they had been attending, had made arrangements for, and are said to have been planning to officially join. . . . And it appears to be all about race.

We are so disappointed that this happened. And even  more disappointed that it happened here in our state.  This is quite a blow to people, to flawed human beings, and already the cost is mounting. But, our God, Who suffers no "damage", bears no indignity, and remains true and merciful and gracious, reigns! In this situation, where bringing glory to Him does not seem to have been considered, He WILL be glorified. If people who were not following Him before will do so now, He will be evermore glorified.

There are many to pray for here. The couple who were turned away from Holy Matrimony in a house of God. A place where they were well known and had worshiped.  Their families and friends who, though they may forgive, probably will never forget. The few who, we are told objected, and threatened a pastor with his job. Anyone anywhere who would try, successfully or not, to reduce a pastor's call by God to the beck and call of the congregation. The rest of the congregation who must now work to cleanse this stain from their reputation as a church body. The pastor, who needs prayer and clarity on so many levels. That entire community, our state, and, indeed, our nation, where this is now playing into the hands of those who seek, and unfortunately find, good examples of blatantly unChrist-like acts among people who are supposed to be the very hands and feet of Christ Himself.

There is much to think about and learn from this.

Multitudes of churches, not just Southern Baptist, need to have a real "come to Jesus meeting" - and I mean a REAL COME TO JESUS meeting. More than you would think haven't met Jesus yet, and they need to. Then, they need to decide who leads the church. Is it the people with the money? The families with the power? The few who are hard to get along with and demand their way? The deacons? The elders? The pastor? . . . or Jesus, in Whose Name they say they gather?

Is there a church leadership structure where the pastor has someone to quickly turn to in a moment or time of indecision or commotion or trouble in the church body? And is this structure populated by Godly men, not just those who want to run the church? (Here's a hint, folks: If your desire is to "run the church", you are THE LAST person who should be in any position of power or authority there.) There are probably many times when a Spirit led pastor feels that he is standing alone, but in a body of Spirit led men and women, that should never be the case.

And what do you do with the "tares", as our pastor would call them? Satan is always going to send troublemakers into a believing, following, growing church body. Usually, the problems they cause are pretty much restricted to that local church or the local community. A few here have been used to create a national and, quite possibly, international scandal. Thanks to the internet, nothing is local anymore. Well, almost nothing. We know the names of the couple involved in this situation. We know the name of the pastor. We know the names of many people who have commented on this. But, we don't yet know the names of those few who seem to be the only ones in that whole church who hold those sentiments. I'm not saying that we should know. We probably shouldn't. But, does that say something about those who are in the light, and those who are in the darkness? And, I hasten to mention, this is a matter, and those are people, who must be dealt with by that local church body. Let's all pray that they will deal with it according to God's will, and that we will do the same if we ever find ourselves in such a position. 

As for the situation that brought this all up in the first place, I know that there are a lot of people who hold to that old way of thinking . . . probably some who are reading this right now. Let it go. Let Christ through the Holy Spirit renew your mind. You might say, "Well, I don't hate anybody!" Well . . . do you love everybody?

You don't have to argue with me.

John 13:34-35 

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” 

Galations 5:22 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 

1 John 1:7

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 

1 John 4:7  

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.

That's God. Argue with Him. And please pay close attention to 1 John 4:7. And keep in mind that love really is a verb. Is our love in action?

 I know most of you reading this have great hearts for God. We really need to be in prayer over this situation. And not just for that one church, but for all of the Body.  Satan is here to kill, steal, and destroy, and he can and will attack any one, any church, at any time. Just as Jesus told those three disciples who were with Him in the Garden of Gethsemane that last night before His crucifixion, we all must "... pray so that you will not fall into temptation."



Your video is one of my favorites . . . again! (You might have to watch a commercial for beer before it starts :/)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

issues with issues . . . again

Well, here we are following a supreme court decision and we see that members of the court are not the only ones with differences of opinion. My attempts to "be political" in this blog don't work. That is not what this blog is about, so this is not going to be a political post. I'm not hiding my opinion. If you don't know what it is, and you want to know, it's on facebook. But, my opinion on this issue, like my opinion on every issue doesn't really matter.

Many of us, on both sides of that issue, are getting all steamed up. And well we should! A decision designed to directly and materially affect every American was handed down today. It is a highly volatile issue that has and will continue to divide Americans into groups that solidify their positions and grow increasingly hateful and even hostile toward each other. That has more to do with media framing of reaction than it does our actual feelings about one another. It accomplishes a political goal of certain "movers and shakers" who can only move and shake those whom they can contain. (I never know where "whom" fits. It just sounds good to throw it in from time to time.)

As Americans, we still have a right to our opinions. I may or may not agree with yours, but I will fight for your right to express your opinion. Only through free discussion can we ever hope to settle anything for the common good.

That being said, I want to emphasize that my opinion is worthless. Any opinion formed that is not informed by the Holy Spirit is worthless. It bothers me that my first reaction was just that, . . . my first reaction. It doesn't matter whether I was right or wrong. It doesn't matter that I might have been in agreement with what the Holy Spirit would have lead me into. I plowed ahead without consulting Him, and I have had to ask forgiveness for that. He might have told me to go ahead. He might have told me that I was wrong. He might have told me to keep my right opinion to myself. He might have told me to express it in another way.

He might have told me to say then what I am saying now.

From any side that you look at it, our nation is hurting. We have that in common. We once said that drugs are destroying our youth. And drugs are destroying our youth. But, have you looked at the mugshots of people arrested for drug possession? It is not just the young people. And people are willing to attack and even kill for a few dollars to get their next fix. Many have and any of us can be touched by that culture at any given moment in our normal day to day activities. We have that in common. Moral character and ethics in those who entertain us as well as those  to whom we look to give us news, facts, has plummeted. We have that in common. Our nation, as a nation, is getting further and further away from God. No matter what your beliefs, we have that in common. Sin is our nation's biggest problem. Again, no matter what you believe, we have that in common.

If you are a Christian, you have the same Holy Spirit living within you that I have in me. He is the same Holy Spirit who lives in Christians all across our nation and throughout the world. We have that . . . or rather HIM, in common.  If you are a Christian you are among all who are called by His Name. We have that in common.

So, what is the best thing we can do? Not the last thing. Not the only thing left to do. Not the "desperation move" to make. But the best thing? Set aside our own flawed opinions, whatever they may be, come together in our common bond in Christ, and take hold of this gracious, merciful promise . . .

". . . if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV)

". . . my people . . ." That's us! Followers of Jesus. It doesn't matter what the lost of the world do or say. God is calling upon us, His. And when we pray He will hear, and He will heal! All of those problems I listed above? He has healed that and more in many people and called them unto Himself. We've all seen it!

What more needs to be said? If there is more, it is God's to say, but He has spoken volumes here in His written Word. Do we hear Him?



Here's your video. I'm sure I've posted it before, but it's one of my favorites . . . and, if we pray for it, that Healing Rain will fall!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Sometimes you just feel like giving up!

Sometimes it's written all over them. It's in the way they carry themselves. It's in the way they dress. And I'm not talking about the age, style, cost, or condition of their clothes. I'm talking about the "I don't care" way they wear them. It's in the way they present themselves to the world physically; as in "I don't care how I look".

Sometimes it's so well protected and hidden that you may catch just a glimpse of it in their eyes in an unguarded moment

They gave up. At best they are in the process of giving up. And, true, some just never engaged in the first place. Life can be hard. Maybe we've all been at that point sometime in our lives.

It's a sad thing to see. Nobody has to give up. Nobody has to even think of giving up. True, whatever "it" is, some make it, some don't. But, no one was created to fail at "it". Keep in mind that "it" could be, is, different things to different people. The thing is, "it" (I'll stop using quotation marks in a minute) is not up to each of us to define. It was defined by God before He ever brought us into being.

Ephesians 2:10 (NKJV) For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

God's purpose for us does not change. He will accomplish it through us. We have only to give ourselves to Him so that His purpose will be achieved in our submission and obedience.

Psalm 138:8 (ESV) The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.


Psalm 57:2 (ESV)  I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me.


God will achieve His purpose, if not through a willing and obedient servant, then even through the rebellious.


Proverbs 16:4 (ESV) The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.


Proverbs 19:21 (NIV) Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.


We can find great hope in Jeremiah 29:11-13 which says:"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."


THE way to finding this hope is in Jesus Christ and Him alone. When we have Jesus in our lives, we have within us the source of all hope, the author of our purpose, and all the strength, wisdom, and guidance we need to see God's purpose for us fulfilled.  Seek Him with all of your heart, holding nothing back.


I don't have a music video for you this time, but the video I do have is a great example of what giving up can do to you and what persevering can do for you. It has been going around the internet and particularly facebook for a few days. Be inspired . . . Give up on giving up! It was Jesus Himself who said " . . . with God all things are possible."



PS It was good to see Diamond Dallas Page, too.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Easy To Please

"Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure."

It's not that we shouldn't take sin seriously. Of course, we should. Sin is our biggest problem. Sin is what kills us all. Sin is what separated us from God in the first place.

But, look at what God did! This passage from Ephesians is such a great motivator. Yes, sin was our problem. But, God, in His love for us, took care of that problem for us. He wanted to be with us. He wanted to make us part of His family. So, He did it all! He has not yet wiped away all sin and sickness and sorrow, but one day He will. And in the meantime, He has eliminated sin's most devastating effect upon us and He "has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ". "This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure."

I think that many of "us Christians" sometimes put too much emphasis on our sins. Again, I am not minimizing the impact sin has on us. But, for Christians, there are things that matter more. (I had trouble even writing that!) God Himself doesn't see us as sinful beings. He sees us as "holy and without fault", and it's all because He gave us Jesus! "This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure." 

Once we have been adopted into God's own family through Jesus Christ we realize that we are sinners. Confession of our sin and a lifestyle of repentance are a part of the "adoption process". Our sin has been dealt with. NOW, God wants us to "have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is." "This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure."

 If our focus is on our sin, or even someone else's sin, as if we could change it, we can never understand the width, length, height, and depth of His love for us. And though we can never fully understand His love for us, we can fully experience it and live in it. That is His intention and desire for us. If we only see ourselves as sinful creatures, how are we ever going to see ourselves as the forgiven children of God that we are? "This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure." 

Once we were held in bondage to sin. Those chains have been broken. We have been set free from any hold that sin once held upon us. That is our past. Why do we sit here clutching those chains that have been broken? Why do we still see ourselves as Satan wants us to be seen? Why do we feel like we have to punish ourselves when Jesus has already taken our punishment upon Himself? Why do we, in effect, say, "Lord, your suffering was not enough. I have to suffer a little more. I have to pay the price for my sin because you just didn't quite cover it!"? The suffering that we have been called to is not for our sin, but for Jesus Christ!

In other words, don't suffer because of your sin. Suffer because of your love for Christ. There is a difference. One is useless and unnecessary and destructive, the other leads to glory. And, again, Jesus already suffered for your sin so you don't have to.

Romans 8:16-18 (ESV)  The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

2 Corinthians 4:17 (NIV) For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

God is neither complimented nor glorified by what we do to ourselves. He is glorified by what He has done for us and in us, and He is worshiped when it is lived by us. "This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure."

Colossians1:21-23 This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News.

 "This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure."

God takes great pleasure in the fact that He has relieved us of the burden and the penalty for our sin. Why, then, should we feel like we have to continue to carry it around? Do you want to live in a way that pleases God? I would say that starts and is fueled by what He has told us brings Him pleasure. "Accept" what pleases Him rather than trying to "do" what pleases Him. " . . . continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it". "This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure."

Yes, He wants us to stand firm in our faith and to resist temptation. And He also wants us to live saved, to live loved, and to live forgiven, all things that He has done for us! Did I mention that He wanted to do all this and that it gave Him great pleasure? (Believe me, I am drilling myself on this more than anyone else.)

It bears repeating yet again: "This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure." So, try repeating it throughout your day. See if your perspective changes. See if your view of YOU changes.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Old School

"But, you know I love you! Yes,I love you! Whoooaaa, I lo-o-o-ve you!"

She is standing there alone in the hall . . . the prettiest girl in school . . . that day . . .  looking at me as I'm singing this song to her. The problem is, for some reason, I'm standing just outside the door. I'm singing to her. And, try as I might, I cannot stop the big heavy white door from closing. I'm straining on the door, singing the song, growing more and more desperate by the note because, at last, I have her full attention and this is my big chance. She's gonna start singing back to me. I just know it! But, I cannot hold the door open . . . and it shuts . . . and I can't pry it back open. And my chance, the one I have waited for, for at least two years, is gone with the closing of that door.

"Whoooaaa, I lo-o-o-ve you . . ."

I wake up and the First Edition is singing the final refrains of their hit song on the am radio beside my bed. I do no better with girls in my dreams than in real life. It seems that one would be less disappointing than the other. I'm only in the 7th or 8th grade and there is a multitude of disappointing hours ahead of me - awake and asleep. To this day, I can't hear the song without thinking of the dream or the girl or the door or the school building it was attached to. 

This is only one of several dreams I remember that took place on the grounds of Bentonia High School, or Bentonia Attendance Center, or Anding, whichever some of you might remember. There was one nightmare where a robot I had read about in a Superman comic book was chasing me all over the campus. There were a few where I had been left there by myself at night for some reason.

I last went to school at Bentonia in the 9th grade, 1969, but, it still stands out as "where I went to school". My two years at Benton, and the relationships I cherish from there, mean a lot to me as well, and as much as I would enjoy a reunion with my Benton Academy classmates, I would enjoy a reunion with my Bentonia school mates, many of whom are one and the same.

For all those years, coming home, I usually "come in" on Hwy 49 to Little Yazoo, and start back on 433 through Bentonia. Always, on the way "in", I have looked at the old school, vacant for many years, and tried for a memory or a feeling that would take me back there for just a moment. Well, I'm not sure that's gonna to happen anymore. Driving by the old school on my way up home on Easter Sunday, I see that the old school is not there anymore. It was just a smoldering pile of rubble. All that is left standing is the gym - of course. To be sure, it has been a sad sight for a good while now. The roof was caving in. Had it not been torn down, it would have fallen down sooner or later. Still, it is kind of a sad thing. Will the memories go the way of the buildings? Probably not. It's just that those old buildings put something solid to the memories. They helped us pass those memories on to our children.

"That's where my old school used to be" doesn't paint quite the same picture when the "used to be" is just a vacant lot. It's more like something we just made up when the tangible evidence that it did once exist is gone. The plays, the recitals, Friday "chapel", the magic shows, the movies about Jesus . . . the building is now just like them. It's a memory. No less a part of us who were there, it will play no part in the lives of the next generation that drives by. They have their own memories to make anyway. It's too bad, though, that "they" don't get to remember some of the same stuff "we" do!

It would have been nice, though, to take a tour. I would like to have seen how different it all looked to an adult. And maybe some of those smells lingered. Smell is such a great memory jogger. (- Sidebar -) We were in Bath and Body Works a week or so ago. I don't know what I looked like, but, I could not stop picking up the scented candles and smelling them. I kept expecting to get arrested, or invited to leave. It was like a drug or something. So many of them took me to the edge of a memory. I couldn't quite get it. It was frustrating. I would breathe deep the various scents, and feel for a brief moment as if I were being transported back to a certain time and place in my past, but I never quite got there! (Back to Bentonia -) If only I could have stood in that hall, or the auditorium, or the gym, or the library/study hall, there is no telling where one good whiff could have taken me. But now, the smells, if they were there at all, are not even part of the rubble. They have been released into the air and are beyond our reach.

Who knows, though? Maybe some day one of us will pick up a candle, take a whiff, and be instantly, if only briefly, carried back to those days in the rooms and hallways at Bentonia. And maybe, for a bonus, Kenny Rogers and the First Edition will be heard through the static of an am radio singing the kind of song dreams area made of.

I was just thinkin', had I known the school was going to be demolished anyway, I might have made a special trip up there just so I could tear that door right off the hinges. . . singing all the while!

And lest we remain too closely bound to the things of this world, past, present, or future, here is something well worth remembering:

Psalm 102:25-26 (NIV)  In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded. 



Here's your video:

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Writing or Written?

Some of you might know by now that I wrote a book, a novel. It has not - yet - been published in print, but it is available for Amazon's Kindle and Barnes and Noble's Nook. There are more e-reader services that it will be going to as well. It floated around in my head for quite some time before I ever started putting it down on paper. And all that happened a long time ago. The book, "Troubled Fields" would sit there for a period of time, and then I would go back and tweak, re-write, edit . .  all that stuff.

It started out as a nice little Christmas story. Over time it changed and developed into something else. Then, after I "got saved" in 2007, it went through a couple more transformations. I don't have much of a bio as an author. When it came to the "about the author" part, I didn't have much to say. Instead, I wrote a little paragraph about what the book means to me. One thing I said there is that "Troubled Fields" started out as something that I wanted, written the way I wanted it to be. My greatest desire for it now is that it is only and all that God wants it to be. I truly hope that is the case, but I wonder.

You see, "Troubled Fields" began as my "great American novel". It was meant to bring great things to me. By the time I finished it for the fourth or fifth time, and pressed the "publish" button, it was meant to glorify God. I hope that in some way it does just that. Now, this book is not like a Sherwood Pictures movie. It's clean, but it still has a few of what some might consider rough edges. You won't read "God" in every chapter. What you will see is a man of faith, living by faith, and messing up from time to time, like "real life". 

In this life, we don't always do the right thing, even after making Jesus Lord of our lives. I'm not making excuses. I'm just stating facts. The truth is that Jesus has made us perfect. All who are followers of Jesus need to accept that about ourselves. We are not going to reach that state of perfection and be perfect until that bright day when we leave this life and abide in His presence, but He has begun a perfect perfecting work in us. Until then, Christians are going to continue to do unChristlike things. But ain't it great to know that we are forgiven?

The problem that I have with my own book is that I took something that was written for another purpose and then found places to "write God in". When I first started doing this, those were places I chose in the story where I thought God would fit. And when I thought I had, at long last finished the book, and wrote "The End", I had a good overall story, with some great drama, but I felt that I had come up a little short in showing God at work in these troubled fields. I prayed that He would somehow be glorified by it.

Two of my "pre-readers" loved the story, but were very much highly terribly awfully greatly depressingly disturbed (does that adequately describe their feelings?) about what had happened to one of the characters. I have to admit that I, too, sat at my keyboard and literally cried over the same thing when I wrote it. (What you have to understand is that sometimes a story takes its own direction. You write something completely unplanned and not even in your range of thought at the moment, and then sit there quite surprised, stunned maybe, at what you see before you.) I didn't want it to happen, but it had great shock value, and it really made for some great drama. They respected my work as the author, but pleaded with me to see if something else could happen. I resisted, and then half-heartedly said, "OK, I'll see."

I fully expected, planned actually, to report back that nothing else worked, it was just going to have to be that way. But, a strange thing happened.. I found myself completely re-writing -again - the last seven chapters of the book and adding two more chapters. And God found His own places to show up! He surprised me because I found things happening that I didn't think could happen. Just like real life. (Thank you Angie and Bettie.) His ending to this story is far more satisfying than any I could come up with on my own.

"Troubled Fields" is not a perfect work of fiction. But, I believe I can say that it is a story that I started and God finished. On second thought, I'm sure it is a story that God wanted told. I tried to take it over, but when I gave it back, He readily took it and made it His.

This reminds me that God has a story for each one of us, already planned and written out in His own hand. We start out living the story that God wrote for us. But somewhere along the way we take it and start doing our own editing. We add dialogue here, drama there. We write chapters that were never intended to be there. From where we are it all might look good to us, or it might look like a complete mess. But, in any case, it is not the story that God wrote for us.

If you haven't done so already, put your pen down. Turn away from that poor attempt at plagiarism that you've been living.  Turn your life story over to God. He will give you a new, fresh, clean and pure page to start on. All you have to write on it is, "Your story, Lord, not mine".  And then live the story God has written for you. It is a story where your name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life. It is a story of great adventure, still filled with up's and down's, high's and low's. It's a story where you are never again alone and you are always and forever forgiven. And, speaking of forever, it is the only truly never ending story. And it is yours!

Psalm 139:16  Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

1 Corinthians 2:9  However, as it is written:“What no eye has seen,what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love him— 

Daniel 12:1  “At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered.

Revelation 20:15  Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire. 



When it comes to the story that He has written for us, wouldn't it be great, as this song suggests, to sign His name to the end of each day? I'm sorry to say that there have been far too few of those for me. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Time Won't Let Me

I've been thinking about this "New Year" stuff.  You know, about how it marks a new beginning, a clean slate, another chance . .  all that stuff.

God created time.  We live in time. He lives in eternity.  How eternity works, how it "passes", how it feels, I cannot say.  I have no concept of life beyond time.  But, then, I have no real concept of Heaven and how it might be to live there. I only know that it is a place that the word "wonderful" does not begin to describe.  Taking the best of the best of our best moments in this life and imagining that this must be something like Heaven is to sell short the glory that awaits us there.  I believe I do get glimpses of the bliss of the presence of God, but even that is, as God describes it, "a deposit of things to come".  But, eternity and Heaven I cannot describe.

So, back to time.  God created it and man recognized the markers God put in place so that we may measure the passage of time.  Seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, years, decades, centuries, millennia . . . on and on it goes, and yet, someday, some moment, it will all end.  Til then, we will continue to make perhaps more use of our measurement of time than we do of time itself. . . .  Not that this is a good thing.

i.e.  I'm gonna do that later.
       It's too soon.
       It's too late.
       It's time to go to work.
       It's time to finish work and go home.
       There's not enough time for that.
       That will take too much time.
       Next time I'll do better.
       I wish there was one more hour in the day.
       I wish there were more days in the week.
       I wish the week was shorter.
       When I get older I'm gonna . . .
       If I was younger I would . . . . .
       In another time and another place . . .
       etc . . .

Like rungs on a ladder, we reach for that next mark of time as if it can hold our weight and pull us up higher or further along.
We mark all the events in our life by time . . . everything that happens and every thing that doesn't happen.  Because we consider "not now", "later", "tomorrow" and so on to show up in life as surely as they do on our clocks and in our calendars we can comfortably consider procrastination to be more a matter of rescheduling . . . indefinitely.    We even say time changes everything, and we look at our measurements of time as if all important events in our lives are dominated by a past, present, or future moment in time or a date on that calendar.  As I am writing this, I wonder if we might be guilty of worshiping the false god of time - sometimes. Worshiping  as if time makes it happen.

God intended that time be measured and marked.  "In the beginning. . .  on the first day . . . on the second day . . . (whether they were literal days or not) He measured the lives of our ancestors by the many years that they lived.  He gave specific time frames to the Israelites in which to accomplish certain tasks, and He set forth dates of months, and numbers of years in which certain celebrations and observations were to take place. In Ecclesiastes we have that beautiful passage that states "To everything there is a time . . ."  And we are told by our Lord of an appointment ". . . about that day or hour no one knows . . .".          

So, time is useful.  Which is to say that time is to be used.  Things happen in time and over time, but not because of time.  

It is not the passing of the old year that wipes our slate clean. It is not the entrance of the new year that gives us yet another chance.  You don't have to wait for the stroke of midnight on one special day out of 365 days to put your past behind you and secure a clean, pure present and future. You shouldn't wait because it just doesn't happen that way.  And then there is such a thing as waiting too long. 

One event happening in one moment in time eliminates our need to falsely depend upon anything else ever again.  It happens once, and continues to happen every moment of our lives for the rest of our lives.  Once it happens, it is a past, present and future happening.  When it happens, it is the single most important moment of our lives. We are saved from the condemnation of our sins to a new eternal life in Jesus Christ.  We are irrevocably saved, and we live out that salvation from that moment on.  Never again will Satan hold any power or authority over us that we do not give him!  And there aren't enough fireworks in all of the roadside tents and stands in all of America to adequately celebrate that!

So, where does time fit into this?  And what do we do with the passing of the old year and the coming of the new year?  Just my suggestions: Take a look at where you were. Take a look at where you are.  Take a look at where God is leading you.

John 6:44 (NIV)  “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.

John 12:32 (NIV)  And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”

By way of whatever path God has set before us, He is drawing us closer to Himself. He IS leading. The question is, "Are we following?".  Are we closer to Him now than we were at the beginning of last year?  Are we closer to Him today than we were yesterday?

John 17:22 (NIV)   I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—  
As you have heard me say many times, Jesus has a great desire that we Christians become one.  Just like everything else that He came to give us, this is a work that He does in us.  Do we still let our disagreements divide us, or do we now stand together, despite our disagreements?  Do we only want to "be right", to win the argument, or do we now seek His truth - even when we are proven wrong - which brings resolution between us and continues the process of our being made one?  Are we still intent on self, or have we moved on? 


John 13:34-35(NIV)   “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.   By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”


Do you and I love our brothers and sisters in Christ more than we did?  (considering that true love is an act, not a feeling)  We might say, "I couldn't love them more if I tried!"  Well . . . try!  And keep trying no matter how much love is already there.  Unless we love with all the love of God there is plenty of room for more.   And then there is that person that you just couldn't love last year. .  .  . How's that going? . . . I mean growing?

Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV)   “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.


Do we allow the light of Christ in us to shine in such a way that others give glory to God for what they see?  It is Christ's light.  He does the shining.  If we sincerely ask, He will show us how to do that and He will give us opportunities to be His light to someone else.  Does He shine brighter in you now than in years past?

I Corinthians 12  Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed.   . . . There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.   There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.  Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.   . . . All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines. 


If you know Jesus, you have at least one spiritual gift.  Do you know yours?  Are you growing in the use of these gifts of the Spirit?  Does the fruit of your Spirit contain the variety born of your spiritual gift?  Are you more fruitful as time passes?   

It's OK to look at ourselves as one year ends and another begins.  Certainly we should.  There are always positive changes to be made.  For Christians, though, I believe it is so much more important to look within ourselves.  Is the work of Christ within us evident? Is He growing within us?  Does He influence our lives more and more as time passes?  This is something that we cannot address on an annual basis. It requires daily and even moment by moment attention.  And when we keep Him and His Kingdom at the center of our lives everything else we need or should want is added to us.  

New Year Resolution?        Resolve to rise.


Here is your video. Only 276 or so views on this one.. There are a lot of good ones like this, but one particular sign hit me hard. So that's why I'm posting this one. (I also just like the way it was done . . . and there is that great song.!) 

and for fun . . . "Time Won't Let Me"    The Outsiders