2011 From My Heart to Yours

All Is Calm

December 25, 2011

Silent Night
is an all-time favorite CHRISTmas song of CHRISTians around the world, but there still is no sound as calm as the day of expectation of Jesus birth. You can go outside and see the beauty of the universe and know that even with the lack of peace on earth, there is a strange hush on the earth.

God knew the details of the birth that day and even used a wicked king to move Mary and Joseph geographically to put them in the place where God had used prophets to foretell the exact location for Jesus’ birth.

Receive Him as King in your life. Trust Him as He brings stability and order in your life. Thank Him for His salvation, but also for the blessings of life each day. Let His joy overflow in your heart so we can let others see Him active in your life.

He is come that we might have life more abundantly. What a peace, what a joy, and what blessings to have a relationship with the God of this universe and know He is in control.

Praise the Lord, all is calm, all is bright! God is so good, all the time.

 

Let There Be Light!

December 18, 2011

Jesus said in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”

At CHRISTmas, there are displays of lights all over the world. Some are simple, some are complex, some are gaudy, some are breath-taking, and all stages in between. Many people put up elaborate light displays to reflect and share their faith and reveal the reason for the season.

On the contrary, we all will pale in comparison to Jesus Christ, the true light of the world. As we receive the light of the world, Jesus as our Lord and Savior, He tells us in Matthew 5:14, “Ye are the light of the world.” Then Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

The call to missions is a call to share that light with others. Some are called to go, others to give, and others to both go and give. For example, Lottie Moon felt the call both to go and to give. Her life was so devoted to sharing the light with others that, even at the cost of her own health, she gave out of her meager living to help save the children. Thank you for answering your call to missions so to “Let there be light” in our world today.

His Love For You

December 11, 2011

The most jarring TV commercial a few years ago didn’t say a word. It simply shows a series of people who have one thing in common-a nasty injury or scar. There’s a cowboy with a huge scar around his eye, and something wrong with the eye itself; a fellow with a bulbous cauliflower ear; another with horribly callused feet. There’s no explanation at all, simply the Nike swoosh and “Just Do It.” The ad has been analyzed and criticized widely as being incomprehensible and extreme. But the key to the controversial commercial lies in the background music. Joe Cocker sings, “You are so beautiful … to me.” To these athletes-the wrestler with the cauliflower ear, the surfer with a shark bite, the bullrider blind in one eye-their injuries are beauty marks. And to their fans, these athletes are beautiful because of their scars. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” says Mike Folino, the ad’s creator. God’s grace is just as jarring and controversial. Our beauty is found not in us, but in Him. He looks down at us-injured, blind, and scarred-and sings, “You are so beautiful … to me.” (Jim Congdon)

The apostle Paul shares these words with us in Ephesians 2:8-10, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” God, who created you, looks down and says. “You are so beautiful to me, warts and all.”

God , Thank You for loving us just as we are. Amen


‘Tis The Season

November 27, 2011

The turkey has been reduced to leftovers for sandwiches. Leftovers have been put away, and resolve has been beefed up to not add too much to the waist this year.

The shopping frenzy appetite has been whetted–if not satisfied–with all the Black Friday sales and promises to follow. It is always fun to see people who have completed all their preparations, including gift buying and wrapping before Thanksgiving, though many times I think they are stretching it a bit.

If, however, you have completed all the holiday shopping, you can concentrate on the real reason for the season. You will have eliminated a lot of stress, as well as have given yourself time to find special ways to worship Jesus and make Him welcome in your celebration.

After all, He is the reason for the celebration: How would we feel if on our birthday thousands of people were partying and living-it-up without acknowledging us?

Remember, the celebration of Jesus’ birth is what started all the excitement. Let us not lose sight of for whom the celebration is offered. Let us join with the writer of Psalm 95:6 who said, “O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.”

Happy Thanksgiving

November 20, 2011

I have never gone out in the woods and killed a turkey, brought it home, and dressed it for the table. I have never gone out back, chopped off a turkey’s head, plucked its feathers and prepared it for our Thanksgiving dinner.

When I went to get a turkey, I didn’t have to saddle my horse to get to the store. When I started my truck to go to the store, I didn’t have to go to the front of my truck and crank the engine; I just got in, turned the key, and it started.

Not only am I thankful for these things, I’m also thankful for many more. We are blessed to live in a time when we can go to a store, grab a turkey–either fresh or frozen–bring it home and, without having to chop wood and keep the fire stoked, cook it in a gas or electric oven.

When we take the turkey out of the plastic bag in which it was packed, we find certain parts have been relegated to a smaller plastic bag, either hidden in one of the turkey’s cavities or slipped under a flap of the skin. The bird can also come with a built-in device that pops out when it is done; however, if we want to get a less expensive turkey, we can buy the pop-up device separately. All these modern conveniences make it easier for us to have a meal quicker and easier.

Today, one thing that has never been easier is our ability to come into the presence of God. In spite of our sinful condition, God loves us and wanted to have the relationship between us and Him restored so we could have fellowship with Him. In Romans 5:8, the apostle Paul told us, “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Now for that act, I am truly Thankful.


A Torch Is Passed

November 13, 2011

Much has been written about the veterans of WWI and also the “Greatest Generation,” the veterans of WWII. Every day, fewer and fewer veterans of these eras are left. This year on February 27, 2011, the last survivor of WWI, Frank Buckles, died at the ripe old age of 110.

There are approximately 2 million veterans left from WWII. The average age of the WWII soldier was 26 years of age. According to General Westmoreland, the average age of the Viet Nam era fighter was 22 years old, though some sources have tried to say the average age was 19. Today, because our fighting force is largely composed of Reserve and National Guard, the average age of our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan is 30.

Today’s soldier is much better educated, better equipped, and more technologically savvy than ever before. Letters from home no longer take days or weeks to pass back and forth. Many soldiers text or call via Skype and are able to communicate with their families on almost a daily basis.

I want to say special thanks not only to those of you who have served our country but also to those of you who “let” them go to serve our country. Each of us owes a debt of gratitude to those who have served. The apostle Paul reminds us in Romans 13:7 to “give respect to those respect is due, and honor to whom honor is due.” Pay respect to a veteran today.

We Are Blessed

November 6, 2011

Sometimes we have certain expectations that color our image of the outcome of a situation. Many times in the last couple of months a lot of fans gave up on the Hogs by the end of the first half. However the final score was much different than the way the first half was played. Several weeks I had to remind Reta and some of my friends that we have been a second half team.

As I prepared for our end of the month breakfast I counted at least half a dozen that were not going to be there, and even my normally high level of confidence was shaken. I was tempted to cut way back on the groceries, but with a quiver of hope I got and prepared almost the same as always.

We were blessed to have a good crowd and what we prepared was put to good use. We had a good time of fellowship, and I picked up a valuable piece of information. We had someone, (Robert Fitts) who has a special talent for breakfast and is willing to help out when necessary. What a blessing!

We were also blessed in our pot-luck Sunday morning. We had a good crowd, a terrific time of fellowship and loads of good food. A couple of new surprises that drew comments (favorable) were Shane’s soup and Phyllis’s “What is this?”, that turned out to be chicken lasagna were added to the staple brisket by Doug and a pork roast by JR.

Then after the Fifth Sunday Singing where we were treated to the multiple talents of the Payne family (Wayne and Phyllis’s daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren) we were blessed with another meal by Phyllis and possibly a few others.

Overall the expectations were exceeded all around. Even with the blessing of the food, the greatest thing was the fellowship we shared. We are Blessed!


Why Should We Study God’s Word?

October 30, 2011

Aside from the obvious answer, that we should read the love letter God sent us, there are other benefits. Since God loves us and wants a relationship with us, we ought to seek to find what He has in store for us.

Over the years, I have slipped in messages in my writings that not everyone would see or understand if they did see it. Swiftly reading the Bible may cause us to miss the truths God has hidden for us to find. What treasures do we forgo as we neglect to meditate on the words of God?

Saying He loves us in so many ways, the Bible challenges us to find each one. He says so openly, as well as showing us time after time. Systematically reading God’s Word from cover to cover allows the reader to get the full benefit He intended. There is history as well as action, romance and prophecy.

Anyone can grab a book, read a few pages, and get what the gist of the book is about, but you miss and lose the beauty the writer intended for you to find. The twists and turns that weave the story can be missed by just skipping around.

We are able to glean the most when we have properly prepared the soil of our heart by reading, meditating, and planting God’s word in our hearts and minds. God’s word is profitable for direction as the writer of Psalms 119:105 says, Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.

To follow Him, read His word.


How Are You Doing?

October 23, 2011

A few days ago I asked someone, “How is it going?” People usually answer, “OK” or “All right.” Probably many answer by reflex or with little or not much thought.

Yet, this person said, “Great, I got to use my windshield wipers.” Before that, I had heard several complaining already about the cooler weather. It reminded me that if we just look we can find the good in most situations. Remembering how long and hot the summer was, gives us reason to rejoice in the cooler weather.

The person who wishes to find the negative will concentrate on that. However, I choose to look for the good. During the long hot summer I can rejoice with those who like it warm. A friend always said, “It is a good day, I woke up.”

Your outlook affects your output. Daily, our thoughts and attitudes are shared, sometimes intentionally, or sometimes unconsciously, as we talk with others. Our words betray what is really in the heart.

Unless we are looking for the truth, the positive, and the opportunity to praise God, we will miss them.

Guard your hearts and minds with these words in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

Living For Jesus

October 16, 2011

Living for Jesus, a life that is true,
Striving to please Him in all that I do;
Yielding allegiance, glad-hearted and free,
This is the pathway of blessing for me.

These are words from the old familiar hymn “Living for Jesus,” by Thomas Chisholm. This is one of the hymns that runs through my head fairly often.

I was blessed to be taken to church when I was growing up. I was taken by both of my parents on a weekly basis. Actually, we went more than weekly. We went usually three times a week, but sometimes more that because we went with Mom to choir and to W.M.U. (Women’s Missionary Union).

To look back and see the trips back and forth in going with them to church makes me appreciate the sacrifices they made to have us in church and to have us with them in all the other extracurricular activities such as choir and mission studies.

For us, going to God’s house was our custom as it was for Jesus: “He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read” (Luke 4:16 NIV). The example set by Mom and Dad helped to ground us young-uns in the Bible and to teach us the words to literally dozens of hymns.

With this kind of training it was easy to live for Jesus and choose that pathway of blessing for me.

 


Is It Okay?

October 9, 2011

Often, someone will ask us a question such as, “Is it okay to …?” We answer their question, giving the best advice we can, and many times, the one asking the question will respond with “But, what if…?”

The truth is, a lot of times they/we know the real answer, but we live in a world where no one likes absolutes. Sometimes, though, I have a real problem with the variables. In fact, that was one of the problems I had with algebra and geometry. I wanted X or Y–or whatever letter–to be a number, and when I finished a problem, no letter was needed in the answer.

We live in a world that not only likes variables, but, to make matters worse, many seek constantly to change the boundaries. Currently, words that would have caused our parents and grandparents to wash our mouths out with soap in trying get enough in our mouths to get those thoughts out of our brains, are acceptable in too many circles today.

I was raised to respect women and certain language wasn’t to be used in mixed company, even though I wasn’t comfortable with such language in the presence of men. I still remember the first time I heard a woman using profanity, and how embarrassed I was to hear such foul language pour out of a woman’s mouth.

I praise The Lord for a mom and dad who never used those words in our home when I was growing up. When we have to ask, “But what if …?” we really just want someone else to compromise with our sin. It would be good if we were to see wrong as Joseph did in Genesis 39:9 when he said, “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”

To understand that all sin is against God should answer the question, “Is it wrong to…?” and keep it in perspective.


There For You

October 2, 2011

Last Sunday as we were coming from the parsonage to the church, Reta and I noticed at least three different plants blooming on the hill. One was a crepe myrtle about eighteen inches tall; one was a red flower about a foot tall; and the third was some kind of ground cover vine, not over five or six inches.

These were not the largest flowers on the hill, but each was blooming to show its own splendor. The crepe myrtle was a new plant from one of the taller plants, and it was surprising to me that it was blooming even as short as it was. The red flower is some form of lily (I think), and because it was a shorter version than normal, I figured it was just stunted from the drought. One thing I noticed, however, was that for all it lacked in height, the flower was just as vibrant as a full-grown version.

The ground cover didn’t cover that much ground, but it contained two or three small blue buds that gave it just a little hint to make it interesting. Again, none of these plants were majestic or intrusive, but each caught my eye just enough to make me turn aside. Reta, seeing the lilies commented, “They look like a burning bush!”

Sometimes God whispers to us through simple things just to remind us He is there for us. How many times do we miss the intimacy because we are waiting for the fanfare? Remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 28:20 as He says, “Lo, I am with you always.” Turn aside today and notice He is there for you.

How Great Thou Art!

September 25, 2011

What a terrific week: The temperatures are so nice some folks have turned on some heat and many are wearing jackets.

Fall is entering just as fall should with cooler weather and enough moisture to make it interesting. Crops are maturing and the harvest is taking place around the state.

I find it interesting that wherever you look, you can see something God has created for us to see. He has placed many sights, sounds, smells, and tastes here for us to enjoy. No matter where we look, we can see the majesty of God.

To look at a fingernail, or a hair and think how much detail was placed in each minute part of your body, makes you understand how puny our minds are to try to comprehend just how magnificent our awesome God is.

To say His greatness is unsearchable is not to say we should not look at His greatness, but it reminds us we will not ever be able to exhaust by searching all the attributes of His greatness.

Truly God is Great and worthy to be praised! Let us praise Him.

 

Has Fall Arrived?

September 18, 2011

What a beautiful week! The temperatures have moderated nicely. A few gentle showers have even ushered in the cooler weather. There is nothing like a cool snap in the fall to make you travel back to memories of past falls.

After the 90-degree two-a-day practices, I remember cool football games making it all worthwhile. The cooler weather reminds me of days gone by when the frost would come and leaves would fall and thought turned to going squirrel or deer hunting. Each and all those memories combined meant the opportunity to be out of school and to enjoy that cooler weather.

Looking around the countryside, we see new signs of life. The trees show signs of rejuvenation from the rains and cooler weather. The animals have a refreshed look and horses are frolicking like colts again.

Another exciting thing is to see God work as we approach our goal for the Dixie Jackson State Missions offering. You have consistently made God proud as you give; not only to the ongoing budget of our church, but also the sacrificial giving to other opportunities.

The apostle Paul gives us this advice: “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.”

 

Things You Never Forget

September 11, 2011

Where you were when significant events took place that helped to shape who you are. For instance, no one forgets where you were when you learned that President Kennedy had been shot. Most of us here were still in school at that time; however, the younger generation was not even born. Such a tragedy is just sterile history to them.

One event that took place in most of our lifetime was the capture of the American hostages in Iran. I remember watching day after day as the news continued, counting the days they were in captivity. I remember waking and thinking it was just a bad dream as the news account came that we had failed in an attempt to rescue them after five months. I remember, too, the feeling in the pit of my stomach as I realized how big we thought we were and how our own self-reliance was of no effect.

Another significant tragedy was when the space shuttle blew up, carrying Christa McAuliffe, the school teacher. We again had grown so accustomed to launches and safe returns, we never expected to have our day interrupted by an explosion that was not only seen, but felt in hearts around the world.

Then ten short years ago, we were again shown how we need each other as we watched the planes fly into the twin towers. One thing we felt was an emotion of horror as we watched over and over the first and then the second plane as it crashed into the towers.

The most important thing, however, is to remember the day we came face to face with the reality that we needed our Savior, Jesus Christ the Lord. The apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:17 said, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” From that day, all things have changed for me, and I pray that you, too, have had that experience.

 

Is It All Right If I Bring Some Homemade Ice Cream?

September 4, 2011

You might say, “What kind of question is that?” It is a question I was asked after church services Sunday night. A couple of our friends, the Owens who drop in as often as possible, asked that question. Of course, not wanting to hurt their feelings, we agreed to let them in for a bit. As soon as they came in, I made plans to sample some of that homemade ice cream again, just to be sure not to hurt their feelings.

Seriously, who am I kidding? You don’t get that kind of offer very often, and as the days leading up to the event unfolded, we learned Mr. Owens’ birthday was on Tuesday; the Bickerstaffs, who had introduced the Owens to us, were celebrating their 108th anniversary (54 for her and 54 for him); Carol and Nadine Satterwhite were observing their 49th wedding anniversary on Thursday, and Billy Vance had a birthday thrown in there.

Somehow, even though Phyllis Adams missed the part about the ice cream, she wanted to put together a meal for the celebrants. The meal grew into a fantastic banquet from salad to smoked chicken from Doug, with all the trimmings to cakes, even some sugar-free desserts for those of us dealing with symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome.

Our fellowships, whether elaborately planned or put together on the spur of the moment, remind us again of God’s provision. We see that what we have is multiplied to become much in God’s hand, and not just the food, but the fellowship with one another is the greater blessing of our time together.

Jesus reminds us how precious our time together is because He joins us with these words in Matthew 18:20: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

The Wind in Your Sails

August 28, 2011

Sometimes it doesn’t take a lot to bring us encouragement. In the past few weeks, we have had some nice rain that has raised spirits and refreshed our lawns.

Another thing that puts a smile on our faces and a spring in our step is you. That is right. You are what brings encouragement to someone, or to more than one person.

Many times I see tired bodies and faces on Sunday night or Wednesday night, yet the fact that you showed up encourages someone else. This fact was demonstrated in an amazing way Wednesday when we were surprised by a pair of our friends returning from Oklahoma.

As we hear the door open, there is always an air of expectation, and Wednesday evening, unexpected shrieks of delight broke out as the Satterwhites entered the building.

What a blessing and encouragement you are to others. Sometimes just by being there, you are the wind in someone’s sail as you bring a smile to his or her face. We never know when we may be the encouragement someone needs today.

Many times, the focus is turned to ones who are not there, and that can sap the energy to those who are there as we miss the ones not able to be there. It is important to miss those who are not there, but most important is to remember God is here with us. Jesus tells us in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

It is Growing

August 21, 2011

Thanks to the cooler temperature and the wonderful rains, we are seeing new growth in our grass and flowers. A few weeks ago, with 100 plus degree temperatures for several days and no rain to speak of for about a month; I thought my mowing season had come to an end. I even raised my mower to its highest level to try to keep from stressing my lawn, hoping to salvage my grass for next year–yet keep it from looking too shaggy. Then the rains came.

I think it was the very day I mowed, the rain started soon after I had finished and put the mower away. Only a day or two later, the lawn started to look as though it was going to need another mowing. And now…it has been mowed again and is going to have to be mowed again. Even the grass under the pines on the mountain is sprigging up. When our doubts begin to grow, God has ways of showing us that He is still in control. I want to thank each of you for your prayers of faith in believing God was going to act on behalf of your requests.

The Writer of Psalms 72:6 reminds us, “He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that water the earth.” So are God’s blessings on us.

A Call to Give Thanks

August 14, 2011

Many times, we call for prayer for issue after issue, but seldom do we hear someone calling for thanksgiving. Well…maybe one time a year, and that is around the last of November. At that time, more folks are thankful for a full stomach, a day or two off work, three days of football, a chance to go hunting, and…on…and…on…rather than really giving thanks for the blessings God has given us. We need to follow the example of the Pilgrims and the Indians and give thanks to the Lord as they did at the first Thanksgiving.

This week we have been blessed by showers of significant measure, and for that I am truly thankful. These showers were produced by thunder storms; however, they did not produce damaging winds, hail, or tornadoes–at least around here. For that, I am also thankful.

We received over three inches and maybe more as we had almost that much by Wednesday. What a difference three inches of rain can make in attitudes and conversations. For the past several weeks, the discussions have been centered on how hot it is and how dry it has been. After the rains and a break in the temperature, many began to discuss the upcoming football season and other more pleasant topics.

Only in a few passing conversations did I hear anyone giving thanks to God for what He has done. For a long time, it has been a goal in my daily life to find reasons to give thanks and praise to God. Sometimes I think that, as a whole, we are so blessed that we have a difficult time counting our blessings, possibly because we are blessed beyond measure.

The writer of 1Chronicles 16:8 challenges us with these words: “Give thanks unto the LORD, call upon his name, make the known his deeds among people.” Take time not only to praise God today, but share your blessing with others and make HIS deeds known to others.

 

For the Record

August 7, 2011

We are in the middle of a continuing heat wave that is of record proportions. The heat has been higher for longer than most of us have ever seen. We have reached temperatures over 110, which I cannot recall ever having seen in Arkansas.

Now I don’t know about you, but this is a record I did not seek nor would I like to exceed this goal. As bad as it really is, we are fortunate not to be as bad as some other areas.

In going north this week to Missouri, I expected some relief from the heat. The surprising thing I found was the temperature in Branson almost tracked exactly the levels in Conway, Morrilton, and Petit Jean.

After being inside for several hours on Wednesday, we went outside to find that the outside temperature was 115 degrees on the parking lot where we had parked. As we drove around, the temperature was a more pleasant 113 degrees.

One thing we found, though, was that after about 90 degrees, it really did not make much difference. It is Hot, capital H, Hot. To be able to enjoy the heat in air conditioned comfort made me think about people I see every day that have to endure this weather with only a fan. In fact, many people are dealing with this heat in either working outside, or in lacking air conditioning. Those people need our prayers at this time. Police and rescue workers who serve and protect us and who must be out in the elements need our prayers as well.

Pray for those who have not received the rains we received. Pray, too, for our friends (especially in Oklahoma) who are even hotter and dryer than we have been. The writer of Galatians 6:2 reminds us of the obligation we have to pray for others: Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

Cooler Weather on the Horizon

July 31, 2011

I keep hearing a recurring statement this year as temperatures have stayed in the high 90’s and 100’s for so long. Over and over people have said, “And… it isn’t even August yet.” For all the talk about the weather, no one here on earth is able to do anything about it, except pray.

Well, it has been a hot dry year, and here comes August. Time will tell if August will prove to be better than the past two months, or if it will be a continuation of more of the same. Even though it is usually hotter in August, it traditionally has had more rainfall.

The rain we all can use, for many it will be too little too late for this year’s crop, but the earth sure needs the moisture to save the trees and to replenish the lakes, rivers and water tables.

With technology, we are able to see the temperature not only for our area, but all over the state, and even the nation. I have recently watched as the clouds and hopefully rain came across the state and dropped the temperatures as much as 20-30 degrees in a short time.

As it crept across the state, I remember thinking “come on over it’s our turn.” When it dropped from 100+ to the 70’s or low 80’s it felt like such a relief. We must continue to pray for rain, not only for ourselves, but also neighboring states like Oklahoma and Texas that have had it worse than us.

I can’t wait to rejoice as the writer of Psalms 68:9 who said, “Thou, O God, didst send a plentiful rain, whereby thou didst confirm thine inheritance, when it was weary.”

Before we know it, someone will be saying, “I wish it would hurry and warm up!”

The Waiting Game

July 24, 2011

One of the hardest things for me to do is slow down to wait for something or someone. I admit, waiting for someone special actually builds anticipation while waiting for doctors, mechanics and other appointments increases blood pressure and compounds my aggravation level as my mind wanders through the dozens of things I could and should be doing.

As I write this, I am in a waiting room filled with eighteen other folks afflicted with at least as many ailments ranging from acid indigestion to yucky toes.

One older gent must have a hearing problem because his voice carries well enough all the way across the room I am not even able to shut out all of his past, present and future maladies.

One youngest is asking fifty questions relating to the why, when, where, what and what-for of the situation; interrupted only by the older gentleman across the room asking, “Huh?” and starting another even less compelling story.

Oh, wow, they called my name! Now I get to fill out more of the same paperwork I have given them and they want to collect the fee in case I decide to cut and run.

Finally, I make it to a room (after the nurse tech. puts me on the scales set to the 100 lb. range and taking my temperature with the instrument angly-gogglin in my ear) to wait a while more with charts on the wall with every weird ailment known to man.

All in all, I ‘got it done.’ The writer of James 5:11 says, “Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord, is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” So, I guess I am happy not just because I endured, but because it is over.

 

Showers of Blessing

July 17, 2011

There are two weeks in the year when you can almost always count on a day or so of rain. The first is the Car Show week on the mountain, and more than once it has come quite a downpour.

The second week is the week of our associational summer camp. It is always hot, but I do not remember one camp where it didn’t rain at least one day. This year, with temperatures of 105 early in the week, the cooling showers were a welcome relief.

I noticed the temperature after the showers the night before was 75 degrees. I just knew Reta was freezing since anything below 80 is cool to her. But, cool is always better to me than hot and I am sure none of the counselors were complaining about the change at least for a day.

All showers of blessing do not have to do with rain. By the end of the first night, there were 14 professions of faith. What a blessing that there will be many young people whose lives will be changed for an eternity because of those who shared in this local mission opportunity.

It was a special blessing to see Courtney ministering to another young lady and interacting with others as she walked around the camp. With all the storms she has gone through in her young life, it is good to see her encouraging others. She and her ‘MeMe’ Reta became the showers of blessings to others this week.

Be a blessing to someone this week wherever God leads you. Do as Paul said in 1Thessalonians 5:11, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing.” God bless you as you bless others.


As Solid as the Dollar

July 10, 2011

Now I know some of you are already chuckling inside as you remember that statement when it really did mean something. First off, the dollar was made of gold, then silver, then paper backed by gold, then backed by silver, and now only backed by the government’s good name as we watch its value sinking like a rock. And…that is no laughing matter.

We remember things that we once considered a sure thing. I remember being so sure of certain fishing baits that, at one time, I only had that certain lure in my tackle box.

There have been times I have stayed with a certain brand even when another product was less expensive because the company had a reputation that made me feel secure in their product.

I remember the first contract I had to sign and how it made me feel, because until that time I had always done business with a verbal agreement, and if necessary, a handshake. Since that time, I have bought five houses and the paperwork has grown more complicated with each transaction.

I don’t know about you, but I would welcome a return to the days when we could fully rely on products and people.

There is still something we can count on. The writer of Hebrews 13:8 reminds us, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Now that is solid.

To God Be the Glory

July 3, 2011

Did you notice the rain this week? We had a pretty fair rain through the central part of the state this week and the temperatures dropped to a nice level at least for a while. It was actually in the low 70’s for several hours and that was terrific while it lasted.

Then an interesting thing happened. A friend said, “Well I bailed y’all out yesterday.” Of course that piqued my curiosity and I bit asking him how he had helped me/us out. He then said, “I got on my motorcycle and set out for a ride to Fort Smith.” He then went on to say he was not even out of his neighborhood when the bottom fell out of the sky.

We all had a good laugh, but then I got to thinking: How many people try to take credit for what God has done? If they don’t try to take credit, they want to explain away the blessings He brings to us. If they aren’t trying to explain the blessings away or take credit for them, they just want to forget quickly where they came from.

We need to remember that all good things come from God above. It is He who made us and made us what we are. Let us not forget to give God the honor and glory He is due. After all, He controls our every breath; yea even our next heartbeat. How blessed we are that He is so intimate with us that He knows every detail down to our DNA, and yet loved us enough to send His son to pay the price for our salvation (John 3:16). To God Be the Glory forever and ever amen!

Thank You

June 26, 2011

Thank You for remembering my birthday. Every year is a milestone to remind us where we have come from. I can look back and remember a time when I never thought our country or the world would make it to this century.

It is a blessing to have you remember my milestones and remind me that I am getting older. It is a blessing to see the remarks on the cards and knowing that this is not the only time of the year you express your love and appreciation for me and my family.

The milestones we have passed while serving with you will always be cherished and fondly recalled because of the character and personality each of you add to the journey.

I try to add something to my wardrobe or study materials with the monetary gifts you give to honor me. Whether I am preaching here at First Baptist Church Petit Jean or at a wedding or funeral or any other meeting, I am reminded of the relationship we have and your investment in me.

In ways this helps me to relate to the apostle Paul, who felt gratitude for the churches he had planted as they rose up to meet his needs as he went to the next challenge God put before him.

Thank you for the many expressions of love you have given me that have become a part of the memories we share. As the apostle Paul said in Philippians 1:4, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.”

God bless you.

Someone is Watching

June 19, 2011

Isn’t it interesting to watch the interaction between dads and their children? Whether it is shopping, fishing, playing ball, working in the yard, working on the car, or just taking a walk, most children like to spend time with their dad (and/or mom). As the child grows, the desire to spend time with parents is increased or decreased by many factors.

We have all watched dads patiently untangle his child’s fishing equipment time after time without a word, other than maybe an explanation about how to avoid the tangle in the future. I longed to be that dad as my children (and grandchildren) grew up.

Many of us have also seen children reduced to tears in frustration as dads chewed them out while correcting a situation that many times was beyond their level of skill or knowledge. We have seen these children so hurt because all they really wanted was to please dad and all they have been able to do is mess up every time.

Yet, no matter how badly that child is treated by the parent, that child still has a love and desire to please and spend time trying to please them. The bond between the children and their parents is very strong.

The good thing, and sometimes sad thing, is we tend to become like the examples we have had set before us. That is not always the case, and if we didn’t have the best example, hopefully we will break that cycle.

I am proud that not only was my dad a good example, but also, my heavenly father loves me and gives me advice, and never gives up on me.

Dads, let us receive the advice of the apostle Paul in Ephesians 6:4 when he said, “fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Someone is watching. What legacy are we leaving?

The Son’s Energy

June 12, 2011

We have one of those cute little (solar powered) flowers sitting on the window sill facing the sun. At night it runs down and just sits there unless you turn on the light. The florescent light caused it to twitch, flex and start moving slowly.

The unnatural light just does not have the same power to charge the solar battery as the real light from the sun does. When the sun comes up in the morning and charges its battery the flower, it really comes to life. Its arms wave and its head wags back and forth.

This week as I watched it wagging back and forth, it was not moving as fast as normal, but it was still moving faster than with the artificial light. What I noticed was the energy from the sun was charging the battery. Even though it was not in the direct sunlight, it was still getting some of the benefit.

This caused me to think about the benefit we get from the Son’s light. Remember He tells us in John 9:5, “I am the light of the world.” How much energy do we derive when we sit at His feet and learn? How much do we lose when we choose to neglect spending time with Him?

It is a viable question as we look around and see so many people have left off their relationship with God and spending time with him and His folks to go chasing after the gods of this world.

The artificial is never as effective or satisfying as the ‘real’ thing. Remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 6: 33, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.

 

Reason to Praise

June 5, 2011

May is over, in fact the year is almost half over and we are six months past (or before) Thanksgiving. The great news is we do not have to wait until November to give thanks to God for His infinite blessings. He has met our needs and even exceeded what we deserve and expected.

We have been spared from the storms, both ice and winds of tornados. We have also had several incidences from which God has spared us the tragedies of the storms of life. We have had family and friends who have gone through challenges and opportunities.

Bro. D J Eades continues to battle health issues, but tests have shown his heart is still strong. Bro. Bill Wilson found out he had heart trouble, and they were able to perform some bypasses; thankfully, now he is doing much better.

The Bro. Phil and Linda Chapman have each gone through a surgery or two and are making progress in their healings. Bless her heart, even though her vision is limited, Linda has continued to serve and lead the music. Now with Phil nearly back to his full strength and Linda’s eyes closer to normal, I am sure we will hear her singing new songs for God’s glory.

This past month through an opportunity of Mom having had shingles, she found out she had a cancerous tumor in her liver. At the first diagnosis, there seemed to be a high level of apprehension, but through it all, mom remained confident that God would show Himself strong and He did! The doctor was able to remove the cancer, and Mom is doing better and expects a full recovery with no treatments.

Off the top of my head, these are some of the opportunities for which we have reason to praise the Lord. We must look forward to what He is going to do in other lives and areas. Currently, we are praying for Karen Ragar and expecting to see some things God wants to show us through the challenges she is going through.

The writer of Psalms 92:1 gives us these words of wisdom: “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High.”

 


Remember Those Who Served

May 29, 2011

Formerly known as Decoration Day to commemorate the Union soldiers who gave their lives in the Civil War, the recognition was extended after World War I to include soldiers who have died in all wars.

The World Wars were thought to have been the wars to end all wars, and we know how that has worked out. Today, because so many families–worldwide–have been affected by the results of war, we wish we had never heard of war. In my short lifetime alone, there have been at least nine wars, or as some would say, “police actions,” or “peace keeping,” or by what other name they might be called.

No matter what these conflicts are called, the results are pretty much the same: The enemy tries to make your mother cry, while you and your buddies try to make the enemy’s mother cry. One good result in the throes war is that we often see human interest stories evolve, instances in which two mortal enemies somehow find a way to cross the line and join hearts in a tender moment.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could figure out how to “bottle” that tender moment and share it worldwide? Notice…I didn’t say sell it? I said “share it” with the world. If we tried to sell the moment, we would be offering something else to fight about.

On this Memorial Day, not only thank those who have served our country, but also thank those who have lost friends and relatives in the process. For God to be on our side, we need to remember the wise words from Proverbs 14:34: “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.”

God, we thank You for those who gave their lives to try to make our world a safer place.

Amen.

Don’t Be Stupid

May 22, 2011

Every week we hear about another criminal who has joined the list of “Stupid Criminals.” Some are creative in their quest for being the most stupid, and others (or most) join the ranks quite by accident. I mean, after all it is evident that not many wise are chosen, just as is the case for ministers (1Corinthians 1:26).

Such was the case this week as a couple of individuals (yes, sometimes ignorance attracts or feeds on itself) tried to rob at least four (4) businesses within a few hours. Out of the four, they only got money from one, and then as one of the employees took chase, the robber actually threw money at the employee and told him to keep some for himself.

At one of the businesses, the employee laughed at him and told him he would have to talk to the manager. After a while, the wishful robber got tired of waiting for the manager to come out and left. At one place, the employee made fun of him because she couldn’t read the note, and in frustration, he left that building also. It is hard to tell if that trying-hard-to-be thief was getting better as he went, or if he should have been learning he wasn’t very good at it.

Sometimes we also show our immaturity–or if you will–our stupidity. We think we are able to do things our own way and take matters into our own hands. When we do that, we find all we do is make matters worse. It’s time we learn from our mistakes and follow the words of James 1:5 who says, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not; and it shall be given to him.”

Don’t be stupid. Ask God.


90 Degrees, Seriously?

May 15, 2011

What a deal, the rains stopped and the cooler air left and it reached 90 or at least close to it. What can you say? The weather around here is unpredictable to say the least.

Now don’t get me wrong, I like the cold, I don’t mind the heat too bad, I just wish there would be a gradual change, not 40 to 90 and back to the 50’s and below. Better still would be weeks in the 75 degree range where most of us would be totally satisfied.

Fortunately we missed the storms prior weeks had brought us. One of the benefits of the water we have been blessed with this past few weeks is some strange wild flowers. In a couple of fields that were flooded I have noticed some butter cups in interesting places.

Sometime when you see a tree, a bush, or a flower out of place and you know ‘someone’ didn’t plant it there, you think. “How did that get there?” Sometimes I even suspect God has placed it there just for my enjoyment.

The heat is good for many of the flowers and fruits and vegetables we are so looking forward to enjoying soon. I only wish the heat would kill off insects like mosquitoes and gnats like the cold is supposed to.

The writer of Ecclesiastes 3:1 reminds us, “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” I guess it is another opportunity for us to enjoy all God has to offer us.

Tribute to Moms

May 8, 2011

There are several cartoons where the children are showcased pulling capers around an exasperated mom. There is Dennis the Menace, the children in Family Circus and one of my all time favorites, Calvin of Calvin and Hobbs.

The truth is most of these must have an element of truth from their own experience. The reason I says this is from the vantage point Doug and I had watching our mischievous sisters and their shenanigans.

When I read the comics, many times I remember incidents that would make good episodes from the time we were growing up. Our family with five children most represented the Family Circus because we had the motherly older sister, a pair of well behaved young men and two younger siblings for Doug to tease and make life more interesting.

The mother on Family Circus always looked prim and proper in the face of all the challenges she had from her brood. That is how I picture mom. Even with all we would do in a day whether working in the garden, picking berries or even taking us well behaved boys fishing or to yard sales or the Flea Market, she was always beautiful and always a lady.

I didn’t realize the treasure we had until I was grown and looked back at all the fun and adventures we shared as a family. As I grew older I could look back and see the sacrifices mom made so we were able to have and do things beyond belief. The writer of Proverbs 16:22 say, “Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD.”

My dad found a good thing, and we were blessed! Happy Mother’s Day to all Moms!

Another Week of Storms

May 1, 2011

Every week it seems that the storms get worse and worse. We have seen ice storms, earthquakes, flooding, and tornados. Sadly, when we were going through two days of major tornados devastating our state, we watched as some of our friends in other states suffered even greater loss than we experienced.

Many of us were able to watch on television as the tornado ploughed through the heart of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Those of us who have been affected by tornados could not help but pray for the safety of the people in the path of the storm.

When the smoke cleared, we saw that there was great loss of property and lives. Our hearts go out to the ones who are going through this time of grief and restoration.

I still remember Dad gathering all five of us young-uns in the living room and giving thanks for God’s protection on our family. We lost property, but God had spared us from injury. I still remember the calmness I felt in seeing the stability in my dad and mom as we gathered without electricity, but not without hope.

Rhonda put it into perspective as she brought up the song, “I Know The Master of The Wind.” It is good to know The Master of the Wind that blows and to know we can rest in His protection. Jesus comforts us with these words in Matthew 28:20: “Lo, am with you always even to the end of the earth.”

He is Risen!

April 24, 2011

This is the day we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! While nothing new can be said about the event, it is a time for our emotions to well up in adoration and praise for all God did for us.

As early as I can remember, we knew Easter was a special time in the life of our family. Mom and Dad always outfitted each of us five children with new shoes and a new outfit, even if what we had wasn’t outgrown.

Many Easters, we all got out in the front yard, and Dad made a picture to document the young-uns all cleaned up and ready to go to the most important place of all–the House of the Lord. It was not unusual for us to go to church, but it was special to dress us all in new clothes for the same Sunday.

The real blessing was, there was no question where we were going. We knew the clothes were especially to go worship the risen Savior! Because it was hard to get enough money at the same time to get us all new outfits, that fact made it click to me that this was an important day to my parents

Sometimes the outfits were hand made by Mom. She was gifted with a sewing machine, and even today, I can remember some suits she made for Doug and me, as well as dresses she made for the girls.

Until I was grown and had children of my own, it didn’t register fully what sacrifices my parents were making for us kids. In remembering those times, it dawned on me that sacrifice was just one way they were honoring God for what He did for us. They were excited and their actions were instilling the joy into us to celebrate the fact that He is risen!

April Showers Bring…

April 17, 2011

We got a nice shower Thursday night and with it came storms and a cool snap. This is the second storm of the year, but last year by this time we had already faced five serious storms.

The storms left several deaths and injuries in its path; again making us see how devastating these storms can be. Every day through storms, accidents and even certain life events such as strokes, heart attacks and terminal illness we are reminded just how precious and many times how short life really is.

Daily we are reminded in one way or the other that we need to value our family and friends because we are never guaranteed to see their smile or hear their voice again.

Yes, the April showers bring forth May flowers, but let us not forget the buds and blooms around us each day all year long. Remember to value your children and grandchildren’s laughter. Remember that friend who is as close as a brother or sister who always brings a smile to your face and puts the spring back into your step to keep you keeping on.

Friends are like the flowers in a bouquet each is unique and special in his or her own way. The writer of Proverbs 18:24 tells us, “A man that hath friends must show himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” Be the sunshine and rain that brings a blessing to someone today.

A Helping Hand

 

April 10, 2011

It is always interesting to find ways for someone to help someone else, and especially as we mature to see how spouses adapt to help one another. I remember one sweet lady in the nursing home who in spite of her own limitations out lasted 5 or 6 ‘boyfriends’ because they needed her.

She would make sure they were at all meals and other functions to the extent that some were glad to be ‘ill’ for a day or two to be able to get some rest while she attended the functions. She was so helpful that when the nurses tried to care for her man she was jealous that they were trying to steal him from her.

Catching one of these care giving moments helps to remind us of ways one of the spouses or friends show their love and care for one another.

One such incident I witnessed this week was my brother, Doug, tenderly feeding Jeanie ‘breakfast in bed.’ Now this occurred as she was semi-incapacitated after her heart cath., but none the less it was a sweet moment as Doug’s huge, rough hands gently gave Jeanie nourishment.

Another precious moment captured in the past week or so was our gifted choir-lady, as Doug affectionately calls Linda, took the time to tie Fil’s shoes while at church. In his time of disability lately I am sure Fil has given Linda many opportunities to serve him, and as Linda says, “His time is coming.”

The best thing about each act of kindness is that it is as unto the Lord. In Matthew 25:40 we are reminded of the words of Jesus as He said, “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

Give Thanks

April 3, 2011

I know you gave thanks for something this week so I won’t even ask the question. If you didn’t, then shame on you. Do so ASAP.

But…did you give thanks for something you didn’t get? I dare say I can’t begin to name all the things we should have given thanks for, but did you remember to give thanks for not having storms?

Did you give thanks that we received some rain and didn’t get snow like some folks did? We were blessed not to be troubled by the storms, but we did get the rains. I think that is a great reason to rejoice and give thanks.

Flowers are blooming, trees are budding, and many signs of spring are all around us. Daily, we see reminders that God is at work and has not forgotten the trees and the flowers; nor has He forgotten us.

Have you noticed on these warmer days how much better you feel as you get to get out and see the sun and all the beauty that it is bringing?

Yes, we have many reasons to give thanks to Jehovah God for His love to us and even to give thanks for what we didn’t get.

Remember what the apostle Paul says in Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say Rejoice.”

 

What is Your Perspective?

March 27, 2011

The way you look at something has a lot to do with the perspective you have. We have all seen the picture that from one way looks like a young lady and from the other looks like an old woman. Or…maybe you have seen a picture that either looks like a candle stick or a couple of faces close together.

We also have people with the pessimist attitude of the glass always half empty and the optimist attitude of the glass always full. I think that as new-born babies, we come into this world with the optimistic point of view, but sadly, by the time we reach adulthood, life has squashed most of the optimism out of us.

To bring us back to the optimistic point of view, is it possible to regain the spark and enthusiasm of youth? As we read the newspaper and look at the news on the television, we have to admit little seems to be happening to promote optimism. In order to get back to the feeling that things are going to be okay, we have to go on a fast.

I don’t mean a fast of skipping meals; I mean that of skipping negative influences. Just as it is necessary to eliminate certain foods from our life if we want to lose weight, we need to skip some of the things that lead to and develop a defeated attitude toward life. The apostle Paul tells us in Romans 12:2, “Be not conformed to this world [which thinks negatively]: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

Then as you would with a diet plan, choose the better things. Again the apostle Paul writes to the believers in Philippians 4:8-9: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”

What a Beautiful Day!

March 20, 2011

This week we had a couple of absolutely beautiful days. The temperature has been in the 70’s, the sun has been shining, and since changing to daylight savings time, we have seen more sunlight.

After so many opportunities of cold gray days that stretched into weeks, we have enjoyed a couple of those days that at least made the sun seem to shine a little brighter and the days more cheery.

This was on top of a week in a world of chaos. There are conflicts in many areas of the world, mostly fueled by greed and the desire for power and control. Also we saw the devastation caused by an 8.9 earthquake in Japan and the resulting tsunami.

The death and destruction, even as bad as it is, has become all too familiar with the 24 hour news services and yet we still find ourselves mesmerized by the reporters feeding us piece by piece hours of minutia waiting for the next big human interest story to drop.

So… when the days broke bright and clear, it was even more of a pleasant surprise. To me, that is a reminder that even in the middle of great tragedy and trial of every day, God is there.

We must see every day, in the middle of all that life deals us, Jesus encourages us with these words in Matthew 28:20, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the ends of the world.”

It Is a Small World

March 13, 2011

It seems that every day we are reminded about how small our world really is. When the news broke about the earthquake in Japan, we began to hear about the possibility of tidal waves in California. Because we have friends and family in California, this warning was cause for concern. I sent messages to our family and friends, expressing concern for their safety and found out they were just waking up and had no idea of any possibility of danger. After their initial shock, they watched their news and assured me there was little danger in their area.

All the exchanges took place in less than an hour. This time element made me thankful for the technology we have in our hands and at