Watching The Paint Dry

Patience is a virtue and procrastination a vice. Somewhere in the middle is sitting on the fence, also known as being indecisive. I’ve done all three.

Don’t Rush In

I’ve been told, “Don’t rush in, think it through, seek sound advice, pray and ask for wisdom.” Great counsel, excellent virtues. I couldn’t agree more.

Be Decisive

I’ve also been told, “Don’t get caught watching the paint dry. You need to get up and get going. The early bird gets the worm.” Great counsel, excellent virtues. I couldn’t agree more.

It’s One Or The Other?

I know that both approaches have merit and each can be the right choice depending on the circumstances.

However, I usually wait to long to see the Doctor. But I also act on impulse. I’ve had  opportunities but failed to capitalize due to fear and doubt. And I’ve leapt before looking.

Knowing when to act, when to wait, and when to walk away can be difficult. I suppose the hard knocks school produces wisdom for us all.

Some Missed Opportunities

  1. Missed some great trout because I was looking somewhere else.
  2. Missed a half price sale on the TV I wanted waiting for a better deal.
  3. Missed a sold out concert because I procrastinated on buying the tickets.

You get the idea. And there are more important things than fish, TV’s and concerts.

What Paul Said

Paul said, in reference to Isaiah 49:8 that, “Today is the day of salvation.” I’m often confused by people who procrastinate entering the Kingdom of God. People will obfuscate, avoid, and neglect the salvation of Christ. They know he seeks to save them and yet for reasons beyond understanding, people will treat the grace of God like a casual thing, as if it just isn’t important.

Maybe it’s a lack of faith, or maybe they aren’t ready. Or maybe it’s a lot of things. But if I’m hurt, injured, bleeding and in pain, I really need a physician. And if I’m lost, separated from God, and living in hopelessness, I really need the great physician.

To Close

Faith and certainty are essential for seeking the Lamb of God’s cleansing power.

But don’t put it off, and don’t ride the fence. Don’t get caught watching the paint dry while you’re dying in sin.

jesus-cross-and-sun

Shalom

Smart And Intelligent?

Is there a difference between smart and intelligent? Let’s take a look.

Smart: having or showing a quick-witted intelligence, clever, bright, sharp-witted

Intelligence: the ability to acquire and apply knowledge, intellect, reasoning, understanding, and comprehension

intelligence

Similar But Different

They seem to be similar, but different.

Being smart reflects a quick wit and a keen mind, it seems to measure how fast knowledge is processed, how rapidly a person captures information and can recall what is learned. 

Intelligence reflects a person’s cognitive ability to understand what things mean, the comprehension of what’s learned, the ability to benefit from the knowledge.

Okay, Sure

Am I smarter than a 5th grader? Evidently not. I’m not sure I’m smarter than a 3rd grader. Young people have quick minds; can recall facts, figures, and information with split-second speed. Me? I’ve already forgotten the point of this blog.

But I do have a sense of being fairly intelligent. I can process knowledge pretty well; I get insights and wisdom and can make application from the knowledge I have.

My problem is that I can’t remember it.

The Brightest & The Best

I like to surround myself with bright people, the people with quick minds and rapid thought process. If I were wealthy, I would have a young assistant responsible for my car keys, reminding me of the time, and keeping me current with my schedule. But I’m not. So I have to do it myself, and with each passing year the gap between being smart and being intelligent just widens and widens. At least I think it does. I’m not really sure.

The Dumb Stuff

When I do dumb things, is that a lack of intelligence or a sign of diminishing smartness? I don’t really know. But I’ve lived for nearly sixty years and I still do dumb things.

Somewhere in my life existed the perfect harmony between smart and intelligent. It was evidently in the past, I’m not sure when. But I think it’s gone.

In Closing

I’m grateful that my salvation in Jesus our Messiah isn’t dependent on my I.Q. I didn’t have to demonstrate mental acuity or pass an intelligence test. He just saved me, just as I am.

test

cross at sunset

I would like to have written a better blog this morning, but frankly, I  couldn’t think of anything.

Shalom

The Raging Debate

There is a heated debate raging across the American landscape. People everywhere are locking horns over the decision between two choices. It threatens to tear the very fabric of our society.

I of course am referring to the hotly contested idea of whether decaf coffee is really coffee.

Here’s The Thing

My Doctor has restricted my caffeine intake. That’s right, I’m off coffee. I’m okay, don’t send cards or flowers, or you can if you want, but I’m not sick. For a month now I’ve been off coffee. If you have followed my blog you know I love coffee, especially in the early morning while I write, blog, and study. It’s my favorite time of the day and often the most productive.

IMG_1858
It’s Coffee Time, How Exciting!

I’ll Admit It

I’ll have to admit a certain bias, a prejudice if you will, towards decaffeinated coffee. Over the years I’ve built up a resistance to the idea of it; believing that decaf isn’t coffee at all, but a distortion, an abnormality, a tragic attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of the American public. But not me, no sir, I have remained true to the faith and not succumbed to the demon beverage.

IMG_1875
I Love Coffee

Until Yesterday

Yesterday I had all the coffee deprivation I could take. So I drank the cool aid. I tried my first cup of decaf. I take it black, the way coffee should be enjoyed. Sometimes I’ll put some cream in it, but not sweetener, no, never sweetener because real men don’t use sweetener in their coffee. They’ll use some cream now and then, but not sugar, never sugar. Hear me roar.

IMG_1861
Okay, Maybe A Little Sugar

And Today?

This morning I’ve opted out of coffee. I won’t say that the decaf was bad, but I will say that it didn’t taste as good as I hoped. Maybe it was the decaf or maybe being off coffee for a while destroyed my taste for the stuff.

Feeling Discombobulated

This whole thing has left me feeling disconnected, off my game, and confused. When my Doctor releases me to enjoy such things again, I’m frankly not sure what I’ll do. It’s a dilemma all right.

IMG_1877
Great Coffee Should Be Great Tasting

In The Mean Time

For now I’ll just keep drinking ice water with lemon wedges. It’s refreshing, healthy, and free. But it lacks a certain something. It disappoints and leaves me yearning for something else.

In Closing

I guess the raging debate continues. But America will have to decide this one without me. Maybe there’s a clear choice and maybe there isn’t.

For now, I’m leaving the coffee alone. I’m sitting this one out.

IMG_1849
I’m Not Sure What I’m Doing

I’m not voting.

When Life Doesn’t Work

Managing disappointment can be tough, even for strong believers. Even for Jesus.

Here’s What I Mean

I have two natures, the flesh and the spirit. The flesh isn’t spiritual; it’s worldly, self-serving and self-reliant. My spiritual side has none of those. It seeks the will of God, follows the Spirit’s lead, and relies on God.

When life dishes out disappointments and discouragements, which of my two natures will dominate? If my carnal nature leads, then I will struggle with anger, resentment, and negative thinking. If my spiritual side leads then I will find acceptance, purpose, and hope. I’ll set aside my natural tendencies and seek the peace of God which calms my soul and eases my mind.

However…

I’ll confess it isn’t easy. In fact, some days it’s a really a struggle. And not just for me, but also for others who were pretty Godly people.

Paul said,

  • “I can do all things through him who gives me strength.”
  • “All things work together for good…”
  • “Give thanks in all circumstances for this is Gods will for you”
  • “In all these things we are more than conquerors”

Paul also said,

  • “Who is led into sin and I do not inwardly burn”
  • “I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches”
  • “We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure”
  • “In our hearts we felt the sentence of death”

You get the idea. Paul wrote some of the most positive and optimistic things in the New Testament. Yet, he struggled too, for at the end of the day, he was just a man.

And what of Jesus?

  • “Do not worry about your life”
  • “Do not let your hearts be troubled”
  • “Trust God, trust also in me”
  • “Seek first his Kingdom and all these will be given to you”

And yet,

  • “Get behind me Satan, you are a stumbling block to me”
  • “And being in anguish, his sweat was like drops of blood”
  • “An angel from heaven appeared, and strengthened him”
  • “He offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears”

Paul was human, so was Jesus. I’m not suggesting Jesus wasn’t also divine, only that his divinity wasn’t allowed to intervene with his struggles. He is our perfect sacrifice because he suffered for resisting sin.

My Sinful Nature

The cross didn’t eliminate my sinful nature; it nullified it. God knows I still struggle. His son struggled too, but he struggled to remain morally perfect, where I have not, I’m a fallen sinner. But I’m no longer judged by my own imperfection, but by his perfection. Im saved by his righteousness. Shall I continue in sin that grace my increase? “No,” said Paul, “God forbid.”

Indulgence

We aren’t to indulge our sinfulness, just struggle to not let it run rampant. There is help; we aren’t alone. The Holy Spirit is always with us. God strengthens those who seek him.

To Close

I have some hard and heavy days. Days marked by sadness, discouragement, and even overwhelming anxiety. And what about my disappointments?

He understands those too, he understands all of it. He does.

It’s not a sin to be human.

So don’t give up, hang in there, find faith, and keep rolling with the punches.

Shalom

The Walls Are Crumbling

After a long and pleasant lunch with friends, I found myself reflecting on the blessing of having good friends. There were three thoughts that kept rising to the surface.

The Joy of Friendship

It’s always good to see my friends. The moment they walk in brings a smile to my face; as if something inside just suddenly lit up. I love to make my friends laugh because I love the sound of their laughter. The joy of friendship is that friends give joy to each other. And the gift of joy is precious; it’s a true gift from the heart. Good friends bring great joy.

The Value of Friendship

Good and lasting friends are valuable. Maybe its because good friendships are hard to come by, they can almost be rare. Rare things are said to have great value; and the more rare they are, the more valuable they become. Like a piece of fine art, great friendships feed our souls; and reflect back to us the essential essence of our own humanity. People matter, they have value.

The Cost of Friendship

The cost is high. The price requires vulnerability and the willingness to share your life. Great friendships can’t be rushed. Forcing, or rushing, a friendship usually ends badly. For me, the cost of friendship is about the depth of trust. Some of us don’t trust easily. Some of us want to remain guarded and protected behind our man made walls. We might think that others should trust us, but extending trust to others, well, no thanks. I think friendship goes only go as far as the trust goes, the level of trust determines the quality of the friendship.

Great friendships have to be nourished and nurtured. They can’t cruise on autopilot, and they won’t survive neglect. There is a price, a cost to great friendships.

broken-friendship-quote1

In Closing

I love my friends. I love having friends. For many years I refused to pay the price, the cost was just too high. I wouldn’t let others in because I refused to trust them. I was the guy with hundreds of acquaintances and no close friends.

But lately, the walls are coming down, or at least have crumbled some. I’m building slowly and seeing some sweet results.

I’m experiencing the value and joy of good friendships.

And you?

friends uplift the soul

We Call Him Jesus

If you only had a few months to live, how would you spend the time?

Some Possibilities

  1. Retreat into self, feel sad, angry, and wait for death.
  2. Spend every moment possible with family and friends.
  3. Travel the globe, see and do everything.
  4. Invest all resources in achieving unrealized goals.
  5. Do nothing special, just finish life as best as you can.

Frankly, I don’t know what I would do. A few months are hardly adequate to even absorb the news, much less launch something grand. The choices would be endless and largely influenced by our respective ages and life circumstances. Perhaps none of us would know until confronted with such news.

What Would Jesus Do?

Yes, he knew that he came to die. But I was thinking of the verse in Luke 9 that said the time had come for him to return to heaven and so he resolutely set his face towards Jerusalem.

It’s different, I know. Jesus lived with purpose and that purpose took him to Golgotha’s cross. Still, what did Jesus do with the time he had left?

Some Possibilities

  1. Go home to Nazareth to be with his Mom and family.
  2. Start a synagogue and be surrounded by devoted disciples.
  3. Launch an attack on the hypocrisy and injustice of Israel’s leaders.
  4. Like Jonah before him, run away, leave the country, and escape.
  5. Do nothing special; just finish life as best he could.

What Did He Do?

Actually, he rejected any temptation, or inclination, to any of the above. Instead, he chose to advance his kingdom. He preached, he taught, and he cared for the people. He healed them, fed them, and raised them from the dead. He offered mercy, grace, and forgiveness. He pointed to a better way, to a better day.

And then he died.

cross_jesus_wood_236183

In Closing

We call him Emanuel, the Son of David, the Lamb of God and the Alpha and the Omega. He is the Good Shepherd. He is Lord of Lords and King of Kings, and the savior of the world.

We call him Jesus.

For The Least Of His Brothers

I was thinking about the time my family and I moved in with friends for eight weeks.

How Come?

We moved in because we were homeless. Actually, we had sold our house, we were uncertain of our future, and didn’t want to commit to a lease. And I was unemployed.

So some friends from church took us in while we sorted out our future.They just set out the welcome mat.

How We Felt

At first, we were overwhelmed by their loving hospitality. And secondly, it was humbling. Our kids struggled with not having their own home and bedrooms. We struggled as parents. I struggled with pride. My life was dedicated to helping others, and suddenly I was the one in need. It was hard.

Turned Out Well

But it all turned out fine. In time I found my calling, and we soon returned to that place of plenty. But for eight weeks, we didn’t have a home and didn’t know when we would get one. Thank God for loving friends.

Yesterday At Church

Yesterday morning, our congregation highlighted a ministry called, “Family Promise.” It’s a national program for helping homeless families. Basically, thirteen participating churches host up to four homeless families in their building for a week, four times a year. Classrooms are set up as temporary bedrooms. The average family stays in the program for about three months, working to get a place of their own. For more details on this wonderful program, visit their site: www.ccfamilypromise.org

homeless kids

It’s A Good Thing

I can imagine that it’s humbling for any family to find themselves without a home, for whatever the reason. I can imagine its tough moving from church to church each week, while working to save the money to get a home.

I can also imagine how grateful, and relieved, a family would be to have a place that is safe and dependable. The kids go to bed with full stomachs and their homework is done.

It may not be what they want, but it’s exactly what they need.

homelessfamily_tx700.jpg

In Closing

I can’t imagine Jesus being anything but proud when his people help the homeless, especially families with children.

I’ll always be grateful for those who cared for my family by taking us in. God bless them.

We all need a little help from our friends now and then, don’t you think?

Shalom

Fogged Up Glasses

I stopped this morning to fill up the car.

The warning light had come on, so I figured it was time a good time.

gas guage

Here’s What Happened

When I opened the car my glasses fogged over. It’s Houston, it’s warm and humid and when the warm damp air hit my air-conditioned glasses, then BAM!

I couldn’t see very well, but pressed the button to release the gas tank door and stepped out of the car, but the little door wasn’t open. So I pressed it again, and again. I banged on it a few times and concluded it was broken. If I couldn’t open it, then I couldn’t fill the tank.

gas door

Then I noticed the trunk was open.

Notice The Progression

  • Press the button to open the door
  • See the door’s not open
  • Press the button again
  • See that its still not open
  • Bang on the door a few times
  • Nope
  • Getting concerned
  • Press the button again, harder
  • Realize the trunk is open
  • Close trunk
  • Press the other button, the one next to the trunk button
  • Gas door open

It Took A Minute

In a minute my glasses cleared up, but by then the whole scenario had played out. I was sure I was pressing the right button. If I hadn’t noticed the trunk, which doesn’t rise all the way up when opened, then who knows, I might still be at the gas station, pounding the wrong button.

Some Thoughts

Foggy vision can lead to such mistakes. It didn’t matter that I was sure I was pressing the right button. My certainty didn’t make a wrong thing right.

When Jesus was on trial, the people were calling for the death penalty, they were certain, and they were sure. They were sure he was a blasphemer, a false teacher, and a deceiver of the people. They hated him for claiming God as his Father. So they killed him. The mob loves a good lynching every now and then.

Thumb_TrialofJesus

And After

Later, after his ascension, he sent the Holy Spirit to the apostles and gave the gift to all mankind. The evidence was rock solid. Judea’s leaders had pressed the wrong button. Their minds were clouded, their vision foggy, and they nailed the Son of God to the cross. But they were sure.

In Closing

Perhaps the better thing would have been to clear my glasses. I would have clearly seen the right button to push.

How are your eyes this morning? Clear? Foggy?

If needed, take a moment to clear the foggy, smoggy, cloudiness out of your minds and hearts. Being sure you are right isn’t the same as being right.

Are you pushing the right button?

Shalom

A Little Help From A Friend

Last week, while fly-fishing in Colorado, I had an opportunity to try something new, something that was sure to be fun and enjoyable. I got to go kayaking with friends.

It’s A Small Boat

A one-person kayak is a small craft. It’s designed to be small. You just sit on it and paddle; kind of “gliding” and “sliding” over the surface. Only swimming gets you closer to the water.

IMG_0116
Kayaking: A Beginner 

An Amazing View

The clear, relatively shallow mountain water allowed for a grand view of whatever was  beneath the surface. On top were ducks, Canadian Geese; and large trout rising to breakfast on the early morning hatch of insects.

Occasionally, an eagle would grace us with its seemingly effortless, soaring flight. The views were amazing.  

It Wasn’t All Grand

I did make some mistakes. There are techniques for avoiding the exposed boulders, fallen trees, and for navigating the swirling waters where the river turns.

On one such turn, the current pushed me into the bank, but still moving down stream.This all happened very quickly. Just a few feet ahead of me, a big blue spruce had some limbs extending over the water. My plan was to lift the branches and drift under them. The branches didn’t budge. I did.

Before I could say, “Uh Oh,” I was in over my head. Of all the places to fall, I managed to fall into deeper water. Did I mention it was icy cold? I had a life vest and wasn’t in any real danger, but when I couldn’t touch the bottom, well, it was a little scary.

A Little Help Please

What I didn’t know, was that the moment I went into the water, so did my friend. In just a few moments, he was close and was giving help and reassurance. The current quickly carried us to shallower water. He helped me up, got my kayak flipped over, and off we went again.

My friend was watching and wasn’t going to let anything happen to me. He stayed close, backing me up with tips and pointers and making sure I noticed the beauty of the day.

Some Heavenly Help Please

Sometimes I fall in other ways. When I do, Jesus is never more than a few feet away and he always helps me up. When I go in the water, he goes too. That’s how he is. At some point, I’ll fall again, that’s just life. But I’ll never fall alone.

To Close

I had a great time on the river; it was fun, exciting, and beautiful. But I would never have tried it alone. A friend made all the difference.

We don’t have to live alone.

Shalom

Unky & Chunky’s Big Vacation, The Conclusion

Chunky couldn’t shake his growing nausea. Unky, his best and closest friend, had left him at the dumpster for that Gurdie May Wastebinder. It was just so wrong.

A Scheming Raccoon

Chunky was in no way happy about losing his friend to the flap-hatted dumpster gal, even if she was from Doofus County and heiress to the Wastebinder Happy Worm Farm fortune.

So he started scheming. He needed a plan, or something better. He thought, “What would make that sappy eyed Unky sit up and take notice?” Some the schemes included:

  • Setting fire to the dumpster
  • Leaping table to table in the Moo Cow Drive In
  • Holding a Main Street rally with local raccoons

But none of those seemed right.

And Then It Happened

While Chunky was scheming, he noticed a big tent at the end of town. It was one of those traveling carnivals. Being naturally nosey, he waddled over and started sniffing around. All of sudden a woman was yelling, “What are you doing here you hairy little varmint?”

She was about to put the broom to him when she realized he was no ordinary raccoon, but a sad, semi-domesticated raccoon, which softened her heart. It turned out she was one of the carny attractions, “Matilda the Yak Woman,” with horns. She invited Chunky in and they became fast friends. She even asked him to become part of her show. He’d wear a little tuxedo and take tickets from the customers.

yak woman
Matilda: Chunky’s New Friend 

It Was All Coming Together

Things were looking up for Chunky. If Unky thought the worm heiress was more important than their friendship, then just let him get a whiff of him with the horn-headed carny gal.

Later That Night

Later that night, back at the Doo Bear Inn, Unky couldn’t stop jabbering about Gurdie. That’s when Chunky mentioned that he had met someone too and was excited for Unky and Gurdie to meet her. Well, Unky was a little surprised, and curious, and agreed to go the carnival.

The Carnvial

Unky and Gurdie arrived at the big top along with 27 other people; it was a packed house. Then out walked Chunky in his little tuxedo, grinning ear to ear, and Matilda the Yak Woman was introduced. She walked around the ring to the amazement of several. Some clapped, others whistled, and one even fainted, but he would be okay. Then she walked over to Chunky, picked him up and gave him a big kiss on the head. Chunky just turned to butter; kissed by the Yak Woman, the star of the big top.

chunky in a tux
Chunky: A Carnival Star

Unky To The Rescue

The crowd was going crazy. Maybe twenty, or even fewer, were on their feet. It was just so sweet to see Matilda and Chunky together, entertaining the crowd, and striking a blow for animal rights everywhere.

But Unky couldn’t believe it. That woman in antlers had stolen his best and closest friend. So Unky upped and jumped into the ring and demanded she put Chunky down. Chunky, still smiling, wasn’t ready to be put down. So Unky said, “Chunky, you get down right now, and get out of that ridiculous tuxedo, and go get packed cause we’re going home. And he did.

A Bitter Farewell

It was a bitter farewell. Unky and Gurdie May were teary eyed for losing their love of a lifetime. Matilda was sad over losing her hit show; it was the biggest thing to happen to the carnival in weeks.

And Chunky? Well, he was just smug and insufferable: he won his best friend back; and got rid of the flap-hatted woman in the process. And he got to have his 15 minutes of fame under the big top.

the big top
The Big Top: Where Stars Are Born

He would miss the life of a carnival star, and his little tux, and especially the Yak Woman. But it was time to go home; Unky and Chunky’s big vacation was over. And there was a Moo Cow paper bag with his name on it.

So Chunky got into the bag, Unky got them on the bus, and with memories for a lifetime; they joyfully headed home to Doofus County.

The End

Watch for more adventures with Unky & Chunky.