Being Poor

The rich and the poor have this in common, The Lord is the maker of them all.    Proverbs 22:2

Better is the poor who walks in his integrity Than one perverse in his ways, though he be rich.    Proverbs 28:6

 

Faint on tthe RoadDefining “Poor” from Merriam-Webster:

  • lacking material possessions
  • less than adequate
  • inferior in quality or value
  • lacking a normal or adequate supply of something specified

 

From “Cheers,” Season 1, Episode 20, titled “Something Single, Something Blue.”

Glynis Johns Someone_SingleThis episode saw Diane Chambers’ wealthy mother facing the prospect of poverty due to a clause in her dead husband’s will, if Diane isn’t married by the following day. Mrs. Chambers was played by the great Glynis Johns, who many might recall as the mother in Mary Poppins with Julie Andrews.

While Cheers is a comedy series, this is a poignant exchange toward the end of the episode. Glynis played it completely straight, tears in her eyes.  This came at about the 20:30 mark:

“I’m really quite afraid. I’m afraid of being poor.  I was poor before I met your father, and it took me years to really forget how being poor felt.”

I, too, have been poor. While in grad school and for a while after I lived in a roach infested apartment in downtown Detroit.  I had three years of fighting cockroaches and no hot water in the bathroom, all in all.  I had a ’68 Rambler station wagon that lived much longer than it should have.  I remember it always being a crapshoot if anything on it worked, from the windshield wipers to, oh, just about any accessory on the dash.  I remember wondering what it might be like to someday have a car where I could be sure everything on it worked!

God blessed me immeasurably in subsequent years. A wife, two daughters, and some very good jobs that came with company cars.  Everything worked on them, including bells and whistles not even thought of in the ‘80’s!

I lost almost all possessions in the financial ruin of 2008-9, but God has restored my fortunes since then. It’s been a tough road.

So, when I watched this scene over my lunch hour today, my eyes teared up along with Glynis Johns’.  I’ve been poor.  Twice.  And that’s just talking about money and possessions.

old-holy-bible-olivier-le-queinec

Not Used Enough…Yet

Within the last five years I’ve learned how poor I am in God’s Word. As any good Lutheran, I know the Gospel and directly related verses, but I’ve also learned a lot about the Bible that I’ve been embarrassingly oblivious to.  If you search my blog, especially under “Science & History and the Bible,” you’ll see many entries on how the Bible truly does intersect the world in history and today in ways I never before realized.

 

The more I know, the more I realize I don’t know, the more I mourn not having known in my younger years!

I find that I simply can’t penetrate certain things adequately, because I don’t know Hebrew or Greek, the original languages of the Old and New Testaments, respectively. English is a very poor language, not nearly as nuanced as those ancient tongues.

I’m often dependent on trying to find a reliable source for translation, and those are not always easy to come by!

I often, once knowing what Scripture literally says, find myself poor at trying to execute what I think I’m hearing. For example –

I forgive people for wrongs done. I even pray for them.  But without their change in behavior I feel the only way to protect myself is to cut myself off from them.  Do I not love enough like Jesus, or would continuing to engage with them be like “casting pearls before swine?”

Even the disciples were told to shake off the dust of their feet at towns that refused their message. Of course, they were there proclaiming the Gospel.  Me?  I’m just trying to practice some decent behavior with the expectation of something approaching reciprocity.

I would like to bring more people to the knowledge of the truth of God’s mercy and love, but I find myself confounded as to how to do that more than I am.

Mercy. GOD’s mercy is the only solution.  Look at my article from last Saturday, “Sweet Release.”  Every 7 years, the Children of Israel were commanded by God to just let it all go.

All debts were cancelled.

fallow_landNo work was to be done for an entire year. It wouldn’t be necessary, because God would so bless their farms that they’d have plenty to get them through.  The land would lie completely fallow and rest.

And I thought some European countries had generous vacation schedules!

Still, with such a rich proposal, the Israelites blew God off. He let it go for SEVENTY, SEVEN-YEAR CYCLES, giving them fair warnings and even minor disasters.  God finally called it enough, and that was the reason the duration of their Babylonian Captivity was 70 years!

Maybe they remembered being poor at some point. Maybe they couldn’t bring themselves to trust God, because they were poor in faith in addition to being poor in money and possessions.

Better is the poor who walks in his integrity Than one perverse in his ways, though he be rich.

Those seven-year cycles, those Shemitahs, were something God only brought to the Israelites. I know I’m only speaking from the cheap seats here.  I wasn’t there.  But I can’t help thinking that I’d take that.  A one year vacation of doing nothing after six years’ good, hard work sounds great to me.  That along with a guarantee of never being poor would be fine.

Being poor, whether in physical assets or knowledge or moral makeup, is never fun. As long as we’re on this earth there will be poorness.  Satan will see to it.  Jesus even warned us of that;

For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always.    Matthew 26:11

But we can counter that with staying in God’s Word; all of it, Old and New Testaments. We can be charitable.  We can fellowship with other Christians in order to help other remain focused on how Jesus expects us to live –

RICHLY*!

 

*Regardless of how much stuff we have.

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To the Max!

10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.    Ecclesiastes 9:10

Kobayashi Maru ExplainedThings have been getting tougher lately. Work has been mostly a no-win scenario (a Kobayashi Maru scenario for you Star Trek fans).  It’s so easy to just give in to despair and just ride events as they happen.  In a word?

Be “docile.”

As a colleague says, you need to fly above the weeds and under the radar.

That’s not where God made us to fly, however. We’re not made for skimming treetops.  We’re made to soar.  How are we supposed to live our lives?

To the max!

Although he had a pessimistic-sounding way of putting it, Solomon said the same thing in the above passage. This life is the only one we get on earth.  After that is the grave where nothing gets done until Judgement Day.  Why on earth would we want to waste this one go-round by just floating in the current?

Solomon also points out that fate happens to all; some do evil and prosper and some do good and are harmed. The world is currently Satan’s, and evil befalls all men in some measure and at some time.  There’s nothing in fate that we can control.

But even the worm can turn. The worm can scream at the boot about to crush it.  The worm can still crawl back toward the dirt as quickly as it can; it might even make it!  The worm can still have an effect, however small, on how its life goes, even it’s only dying a little more to the left or the right.  Maybe the little bit one way or the other will leave an impression on someone else!

I can despair of all of the trials I have endured and continue to endure. But even in that despair, I can choose to make a run for the dirt!

So I take the opportunity to get a different job. I take the opportunity to change my career altogether…even at this late stage if my life.  I choose to invest time in writing a motivational speech, a short standup routine for an open mic night at a comedy club, and trying to get an agent.  I choose to MAKE the time to finish the bible class I started; From Creation to Completion.

None of those things will get done after I die. Any one of them might help someone else to strengthen their walk with God or maybe just find Him in the first place.

So I switch off the TV. I put aside a book or any other activity that detracts from really living!  I make every effort to not waste the time given me by my Creator.

Screw being docile! Get busy!  If there’s a boot coming down on you, make a run for it or at the very least scream at it in defiance!  When the run, when the scream is all that’s left, it’s still yours, because you are still alive.  So whatever you can will yourself to do…

…DO IT TO THE MAX!

kobayashi-maru-04

Star Trek II, The Wrath of Kahn

Always Something

jesus-on-crossBut we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.

2 Corinthians 4:7-10

I knew so many adults as a child who had jobs, careers and retired comfortably. I attended a notable numbers of retirement parties after hiring in to a Fortune 100 Company in the 90’s.  Men who had worked all of their lives at that corporation were riding off into the sunset.

NYCentralPaintSchemeonFL9sWayneKochEven my dad had his blue collar career on the railroad, retired, and lived out a fairly comfortable retirement.

It seems those times are long gone for me and most people. I know this, but I still get frustrated by the constant negative turn in events.  Right now my company, well, let’s just say that it feels like the wheels are coming off.  I’m 60 and I’ve never seen anything like this.  Anywhere.

So now I’m being recruited by a former colleague, and that’s very nice, but the next step is the salary negotiation and then, if I make the move, another steep learning curve.

I’m getting too old for this stuff!crawling_finish_line_

I’d like to have more time to write these articles, complete a bible class I’ve been wanting to launch at church, etc. However, time continues to be eaten up by work’s ever-increasing demands, and my capacity continues to shrink.

I believe that the increasing challenges of just making a living are challenges to the soul and a Christian’s mission on earth to spread the Good News. Not enough hours are in the day, not enough gas is in my tank.

I just want to be left alone to work my job, be with my wife, and try to help spread the Word.

Then there is Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians. Despite the heresies of Joel Osteen and his ilk, Christianity is not a joy ride.  Jesus never promised us a rose-garden.

He warned us that we should expect troubles and persecutions. If we follow His teachings and Will, we will certainly have the world treating us no differently than it did Him.

nomad_tentI have to stop and remember that Paul didn’t just go out preaching, supported by the folks in Jerusalem or other organized denomination. He was a tent-maker by trade.  Along with the beatings, imprisonments, debates, preaching and travel, he had to spend time making tents so he could eat and have some shelter.  His path was a very hard one.

So I am perplexed and hard-pressed. And I also believe something else – my health is surprisingly good, considering my multiple surgeries and ills.  Maybe this new job, despite the trials of another big change, will be the thing to loosen things up just enough where I can continue writing and teaching at church.

Like Paul, I need to keep my eye on the prize and finish the race. Trust God to keep me from despair, even though Satan perplexes!

Insidious Pride

If I say, “My foot slips,” Your mercy, O Lord, will hold me up. In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul.   Psalm 94:18-19 NKJV

Pacino as Satan.gif

Al Pacino as Satan – “Devil’s Advocate”

I was a transfer student my junior year. I planned to study theatre and acting, but I didn’t expect to be a huge hit.  I figured I’d need to take a back seat to my classmates who had been there since their freshman year.

 

It didn’t turn out that way at all. The theatre director told me that I was the strongest male actor they had.  The department chair wrote in a letter of recommendation after I graduated, saying that I was the most self-motivated student she’d ever seen.  I guess that’s why she passed over 4-year seniors and gave me, a transfer student, the honor of being the senior who would emcee the annual department banquet.

I wasn’t well-like by a significant number of my peers after rocketing ahead of them like that. Not that that was my intention.  I just worked hard, and it happened.

However, becoming a first class ass didn’t help my cause much either.

Oh, I didn’t start out that way. I came in prepared to be everyone else’s second fiddle as a transfer.  I was caught unawares by the sudden success and accolades from both faculty and students in general.  It went straight to my head; do not pass “go,” do not collect…  Oh, what the hell; take the $200 too!

Vanity, Satan’s favorite sin. Yes, it’s a movie line, but if you think about it, Satan’s most basic approach is some form of “me first” temptation.  He’s got myriad ways of disguising it, but at the end, he puts the focus on us and our desires over everyone else’s.  Including God’s.

Unexpected success is a perfect crack for him to explore. Success of any kind will do!

I friend is on a run of incredible success after a lot of suffering. Although I continue to give my full-fledged support, I have issued the warning that this is a time of great danger; vanity is coiling to spring when things go so well!

I recall that the Chinese symbol for “Opportunity” is made up of several other symbols, including the one for “Danger.”

How do you fight something so insidious, so easily confused with confidence and happiness?

Prayer! Stay in touch with God, remembering who you are and whose you are.

Reading! As in reading the Bible and keeping His Word foremost in your mind.

Should you enjoy success? Absolutely!  It’s a God-given gift!  Enjoy it in thanksgiving to the One who gave you the talents to succeed, and keep insidious pride at bay!

 

Praying

Or…”When in SUCCESS, pray it out!”

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.    1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Washing Feet

Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.

Washing FeetAnd supper being ended,[a] the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded…

12 So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.   John 13 (Selected Verses)

A fellow student at Heidelberg College washed my feet 38 years ago. He wasn’t even a close friend, just in passing.  I can see his face, but I can’t remember his name.  I’m not even sure why I remembered that recently, what triggered the memory.

I just remember that we were hanging out in my room, talking. Something was bothering me.  I can’t even guess as to what it was.  I just recall that, after listening to me, he asked me to wait.  He’d be right back.

Minutes later, he returned with a towel and a bowl of water. He asked me to sit.  I did.  Then he knelt down to remove my shoes and socks.  I began to protest, but he simply looked at me, maybe said something, and I let him wash my feet.

After he finished, he simply left. I believe I just sat there for a time before doing…anything.

After some thought and reading John 13, I have several, brief thoughts to share with you.

  • He did this for me despite not being a close friend. That’s the kind of servant attitude Jesus was trying to teach His disciples.
  • We often speak metaphorically in terms of “washing people’s feet.” What if we literally did that for people to comfort them, sooth them?
  • I sometimes rub my wife’s feet with lotion when they are giving her pain. Could we do that or wash the feet of people we don’t know well?
  • Many people are Biblically illiterate and may not understand the Biblical origin, but would that have any less of an impact? If they don’t know the reference, that might be a great opportunity to tell them the story.
  • I’m nowhere near being the biggest blogger on the web. I often wonder if I do anyone any good. Just like I can’t remember my passing friend’s name, he likely hasn’t thought of it in decades and never will again. He may even be dead now. But his act is still remembered by me.

And now by you…Man Walking Away

Talk to Me!

Jonah and Whale SharkNow the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.” But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord15 So they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. 16 Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice to the Lord and took vows. 17 Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.    Jonah 1, selected verses.

I believe God speaks to us. It’s usually more in the form of signs for us to understand than actual words, although that still happens in this current time.  There are many instances of Jesus visiting Muslims in their dreams and in visions, because that’s the only way they can know of Him.

Sometimes I really wonder what’s happening in my life. I’ve got a good job, but lately it feels like the wheels are coming off.  Shall I brush up my resume’?  Do I have something to worry about here?

As these questions swirl, I had two job opportunities come to my attention out of the blue. I’m not quite a good match for either, even though they are both in my “sweet spot” as far as the discipline goes.

This reminded me of when I moved to Memphis for my current job after going through bankruptcy. I lost count of how many recruiters called me with inquiries for jobs I might be interested in.  NOW they show up??

It occurred to me in this instance that God is just showing me that He has this and this is where He wants me right now. What’s the message?

“Jeff, I know you’re getting the heeby-jeebies over your company’s current condition, but I’m still in control. Just to prove it, I’m going to send you two jobs that are almost perfect for you, but that you can’t really win.  Just to show you that I can whistle up whatever I want whenever I want.  If I want you somewhere else, I’ll get you there.  That just isn’t gonna happen right now.  So stop worrying and carry on.”

I didn’t hear a voice, but after prayer and reflection, this is the answer, the impression that formed in my mind. This is my interpretation of recent events.

I can see the message being similar when I got all of those recruiters calling after I moved to Memphis.

“I could’ve moved you anywhere, anytime. You just had to wait and go through some trials to get your where I wanted you, both physically and emotionally.  So hang in there.”

Does God talk to you? I’m sure He does…through events, “coincidences,” etc.  Here’s the thing, when you think God is sending you a message, pray about it.  Be careful of forcing your wishes into occurrences.  You might not get anything.  If not, don’t get hung up on it.  Either He doesn’t want you to know now, or ever, or maybe it’s simply the fact that stuff happens.

So hang in there. God has this.  He may explain why something happened.  He may use circumstances to funnel you into a course of action, like He did moving me to Memphis.

So that’s me sharing what I suddenly felt was a communication. Am I right?  Maybe, maybe not.  But then, my interpretation is pretty well in character with God, right?

Shaking the World

So Jesus said to them, “…for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”     Matthew 17:20

MountainI remember the first time I heard the verse from Matthew 17 and wondering what would happen if everyone decided to give that a go. I mean, there aren’t enough mountains, right?  I was young, and tended to take things very literally.

BBBIn a recent online discussion with fellow blogger, BeautyBeyondBones, the idea of doing something earth shattering for someone came up.  Sometimes we do that without any real effort.  Sometimes we do it and never even know it!

I remember someone coming to me once and telling me that I said something that completely changed his life for the better. I couldn’t even remember the visit let alone what I said.  As a college instructor I changed a young woman’s life, and didn’t even know it till after the term.  She came to my office, changed from blond to brunette.  She finally felt like shewas really smart after all and decided to leave behind the “dumb blond” she had always thought she was.  See Smart Blond.

We really shook the pillars of heaven, didn’t we, Wang?   Jack Burton: Big Trouble in Little Chinabig-trouble-little-china

When BeautyBeyondBones does something earth-shattering to help the followers of her blog – and she is very inspirational – she’s not sure she did that much.  I haven’t always known when I’ve made a contribution that made someone else’s life better, that “rocked their world.”  Or tossed their mountain into the sea.

Drink of water

Whoever gives a little one only a cup of cold water…  Matt 10:42

When you or I do something earth shattering for someone else, it isn’t always a Herculean effort on our part. When we live in faith, God works through us to help others.  God gives us spiritual gifts that we use to help those around us.  Just as a bird would find nothing amazing about flying or a fish about swimming, someone with a gift from God finds that changing someone else’s life can take little effort.

 

God can use anyone to accomplish His intended purpose, believers and unbelievers. God using Babylon and other wicked nations and people to accomplish His ends in the Bible are examples.  But here is the difference; when we perform good works through faith, when caring for others comes from acting on Jesus’ love to us, when it blooms as the fruit of the Spirit, we can do so much more than feed someone or give them money.  We can start to show them the way to God!

I am a board member of a Christian charity called Friends of Russian Orphans, F.O.R.O.  This is their mission statement: Friends of Russian Orphans (“FORO”) is an American mission organization, dedicated to demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ to Russian orphans and their caregivers through practical assistance and friendship programs.

Bathroom-Stalls-CommercialWe’ve rewired orphanages that were in danger of burning down, replaced holes in the floor over sewage lines with REAL TOILETS, complete with stalls! We’ve paid for education programs to be introduced into some orphanages.  We’ve also introduced Jesus to them in places where we were allowed to.  Showing we did more than talk, we gained credibility and could begin to work with their souls in addition to bodies and minds.

One of our programs was hosting a group of orphans from a Russian orphanage here in the states for two weeks, ten kids or so, accompanied by a couple caregivers from the orphanage to chaperone their travels and help with communication. Each child stayed with a host family, had their own bedroom, went to Vacation Bible School, the zoo, swimming, all sorts of things.

Over half were adopted by their host families over the three years we could do this. The orphanages reported noticeably improved behavior from those who weren’t.  They had seen what a real family can be like, and tried to bring that back with them, buoyed with the hope that life CAN get better!

The last time we were able to do this, one of the chaperones just seemed to be an old sourpuss, some crusty, Russian government employee. We couldn’t help feeling a bit put off that we had paid for her travel along with the rest and she couldn’t show a little courtesy in return.

We would give the chaperones a treat every time of a shopping trip to Chicago for a couple days. FORO’s founder has a sister there, and she put the chaperones up at her house.

Old Crusty got one daughter’s bedroom. The daughter’s white confirmation Bible was on the bed stand.

BibleThe next morning the chaperone came to the kitchen looking like she’d been up all night. The white Bible was in her hand.  She had indeed been up all night, reading God’s Gospel.  All she could say was something along the lines that she had never known any of this.  She was devastated, but…changed.  She wanted to get her own Bible to take home with her, so they spent a good part of the day finding a white confirmation Bible just like the one she read.

They prayed with her, and she accepted Jesus as her Saviour.

Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.    Luke 15:10

It was just a shopping trip from Toledo to Chicago. It was a daughter letting a stranger sleep in her room.  It was a Bible just left where it always was.

But those things shattered her earth, rocked her world, changed her life, tossed her mountain into the sea, and shook the pillars of heaven with the joy of angels over one sinner who repented.

Not bad. For a shopping trip.

32 Years of Marriage

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”   Genesis 2:24

This is the third time I’ve commemorated our wedding anniversary on my blog. First was Thirty Years Together in 2015 and 31 Years: A Marriage Album last year.

This year I’m not just looking back at 32 years with my Sweet Julie. This past year I’m feeling more and more happy with being her husband.  I just want time with her.  That’s hard when the job has me traveling so much.  I want to watch movies with her, travel with her, and do whatever else we can think of.  Together.

I’ll turn 60 in June. I’ve been caught up short at the fact that I’m much closer to my end than my beginning.  Given my family history, well, we’re not especially long-lived folks.

However much future I have left, I want to be spent enjoying each other. Whether it’s sitting silently at home reading or taking a trip – long or short – I just want to enjoy her.  I want to listen to her laugh, feel her warmth next to me, tease each other about the same idiosyncrasies as we have for the last 32 years, have countless more Saturday mornings at Panera with a pastry, our books, and talks.

I’d like to revisit Paris and just watch her sipping her “Café’ American” coffee in the little park behind Notre Dame as she did before. Maybe there will be one more new overseas adventure.  Who knows?  Scotland?  Australia?

I’d enjoy another fall Saturday riding our bicycles around Put-In-Bay out in Lake Erie. I remember doing that the fall after my heart surgery.  Fatigued, she had me lay down on some lush grass and sat there next to me as I napped in the fall sunshine.

There are so many good memories, I find myself hungrier for more. I want that now more than I ever have.

I’m reminded not to let time be wasted, because when you have a fine wife every second is precious. We have a trip coming up this year to plan.  There are more holidays.  There are more times with both of our daughters.  There are more evenings spent with friends.

And not a few Saturday mornings with a pastry, a good book, and a chat with the love of my life, my Jewel.

Uncaged

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.   John 16:33DSC_1777

We got a German shepherd when I was still in grade school. Dad named her Duchess.  She was still growing, less than a year old.  Having been abused, she wasn’t much of a puppy.  She simply hid under a bench in the back yard.  I literally had to drag her out from under there.  Playful?  She had no idea.

I don’t know what was done to her, but it couldn’t have been good. Yelling, beating, starving…whatever it was pretty well killed the puppy in her.

It’s amazing what love can do. We loved her, fed her, and taught her to play with us.

That was summer. When the first snowfall came, Mom held her indoors despite her begging to get let out to…go to the “bathroom.”  When we got home, out she went, and she just went nuts with joy, chasing snowflakes, rolling in the thin layer on the grass, trying to catch snowballs that exploded in her mouth.  It was a hoot!

The garage was just a couple feet away from our chain-link fence. There was plenty of room around the other three sides.  I taught her to play chase around the garage.  Once she had the hang of that, I started a round of chasing her.  She would look back to make sure I was following.  This time, however, I let her go, and I ran in the opposite direction.  Carefully coming around the last corner, I spied her looking back, expecting me to show up behind her.  She jumped in the air when shouted at her and then gave me one of those looks that convince you dogs can indeed laugh!

After that, she wanted to chase me to turn the tables on moi!

Duchess went from being caged to uncaged. Even with the physical door gone, she had been too scared to come out of the real cage of her fear.  She eventually came into the world when she knew she could trust us.

There were times she had to be scolded, got hurt doing something…usually in the basement. She HATED the vet.  And the vacuum cleaner.  Life was not always smooth sailing for her, but with her faithful humans smoothing the way, life was a whole lot better than it would have been otherwise.

As I mentioned in my last article, life is terminal. This is Satan’s planet right now, making it a real $h*t place to be much of the time.  We’ve all been abused and knocked around.  Some a whole lot more than others.  Either way, it’s hard to leave the cage even when the Jesus has opened the door.

God forgets sins. We remember them.

We know we deserve the cage. God loves us too much to care.

In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

That means there are still snowflakes to chase and garages to run around in this world.

Put your faith in God, accept Jesus, and ask the Holy Spirit to make His home in your heart. And, if you think chasing snow is fun, wait till you finally transition from being marginally alive here to fully alive with God!

It’s OK

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”   Joshua 1:9

I’m sitting here in my office, looking out the window at the sunshine. I just had a good night’s sleep in a comfy bed next to my wife.  Food’s no problem…not at my weight.

“NORM! Whatcha up to?”

“My perfect weight if I was 6 foot 5.” From Cheers.

I have a good job, company car, two beautiful daughters, and a wonderful wife.

I shouldn’t have any of it. Like a lot of people, I suppose, I did stupid things when I was younger.  I doubt I even realize all of them.  My life could’ve taken a drastic turn anywhere along the way.  God has, for whatever reason, spared me the worst consequences of conscious decisions and just sheer stupidity.

He’s literally preserved my life four times when, by all rights, I should be dead. I get my physical makeup from The Shallow End of the Gene Pool.  Heart attack, double bypass, gangrene, and a really bad allergic reaction.  To my heart medicine.  Oh, the irony!

Why am I still alive? I don’t know, specifically.  I can only assume God isn’t done with me yet.  Maybe there are a whole string of little things He wants me to do before my dirt nap.  Maybe there’s one, big, glorious homerun ball to smash over the fence for Him.  I’d like that, but I’m thinking it’s more of the string of little things.

I mean, look at the size of my blog, right? But I’m still motivated to write, so I figure I’m still doing something He wants me to do.

I could bemoan my less than stellar physique, especially considering how healthy and strong I was right up to my bypass surgery. I could, and have been pretty upset…ok, bitter…about layoffs and foreclosure.  I’m still here, though, with a nice house, the aforementioned job, etc.

Like many people, I’ve had to wade through a fair amount of ka-ka to get here, and there’s no assurance there won’t be more. But here’s the thing –

It’s OK, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

This is Satan’s world. Everything in it is riddled with sin.  Life is terminal.  We start dying the moment we’re born.  But –

It’s OK, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

So I keep going, pieces falling off as I continue to rattle and clank down the road like the worst beater car you’ve ever seen. But –

It’s OK, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

The end of your body isn’t the end of your life when you walk with God and have Jesus in your heart. Death on earth is when the good times start.  Oh, I grant you some people go ugly, some in their sleep.  I’ve been close, and it can be painful.  But, having been that close to the grave four different times in four different ways, I know it’s not as bad as I’ve imagined before.  Not fun, but doable.

When my time comes, I’ll face it as best I can. How well will I actually do?  Can’t say.  But I can tell you this –

It’ll be OK, for the Lord, my God is with me wherever I go.

When your trials come, try to relax. Be one with Jesus and the Father.  Open your heart to the Holy Spirit.  When you feel yourself slipping away from this earth and this body just remember –

It’s OK, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.