Archive for October, 2009

30She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.”

I can’t imagine what that woman felt.  He daughter was under the attack of the enemy – an evil spirit was in her.  The mother found Jesus and fell at his feet begging for her daughter.  I have seen a mom in my office unable to talk from crying because she could not provide for her family.  I have seen the hurt and the pain that comes when a mother cares and her heart is broken because of something that has happened.

A few minutes in the presence of Jesus can make a world of difference.  She went home.  Saw her daughter lying there in her right mind and with out the devil attacking her.

That is a great piece of history and the account takes my breath away.  Our needs are great.  God’s power is unbelievable.  Jesus really does care.  BUT the story is couched in a litany of religious stories.  Here is group of religious people who care more about how you look and the way you act than living in the power of Grace.  Grace arrived on the scene.  Religion did nothing for those who needed freedom and forgiveness.  People with needs and cares are abused as the demands of religion add to their guilt and despair.

I know that you all think I am some sort of weirdo, but every now and then I run into a lyric in a song that makes me want to jump.  It’s not in our Baptist Hymnal and I understand that you cannot find the song in the old shaped note Broadman Hymnal.  I know that John Wesley didn’t write the lyrics and I am certain that they will never sing this as a call to worship at First Baptist Bible Belt Baptist Church – but I thought it was “spot on”…  The title of this spiritual giant is “I catch ’em, God cleans ’em”.  One verse in the middle of that  (and I didn’t even have to translate it from the Latin version) –

Yeah, it didn’t take  long for him to catch my attention
He was long on Grace and short on religion
He said a prayer and that was all she wrote

He said, “Amen!”, and God as my witness
I fell in that big ole net of forgiveness
And before I knew it we were all in the same old boat.

If you want to hear it for some reason click here.

He was long on grace and short on religion – now there’s you a line and a half.  Jesus was long on grace.  He held children, touched lepers, paid attention to moms that fell at his feet and begged, was sensitive to a woman who had been caught in adultery and loved on her with his grace, talked to a woman at the well, helped a man in a grave yard to never be the same again, and the stories could go on and on and on.  These are people that your average “religious person” would almost get the chills to have to mess with.  Yet those hurting and wounded people found such comfort and hope in the presence of Jesus.

He has freed me from religion and helped me to enjoy His grace.  He has helped me to take the agony of not matching up to the rules and cast them away.  I cannot meet the demands of the rules.  I needed one who did and I found HIM.  Now the rule keeper lives in me.  I am free from all that.  He allows  me to be real with who I am and helped me to hear His voice to enjoy all the freedom that grace affords.

Amazing, ain’t it!


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I’m just saying!  Sometimes when you ask God to give you a verse out of four or five assigned chapters for reading, your mind is caught off guard by the very first verse.  We have been mentioning some of the names parents give children and this one struck me sideways.  I’m just saying…that’s all…

1 Then Zophar the Naamathite replied: Zophar!  Wow… With a name like “Crooks” I can comment on names.  I can see someone from North Georgia where I used to go to school say, “And who are you, son?”  I could imagine telling them, “I am Zophar the Naamathite.”  They would reply, “You ain’t from ’round here, are you, son?”  I am certain that someone who graduated from a deeply spiritual place can take that verse and preach a four hour sermon on the implications of being Zophar the Naamathite – would be able to find three points that start with “P” and find a tear jerking story to close the sermon.   And I am certain that I just offended all the people with the name Zophar.  “Oh, Lord I apologize and bless all the pygmies….” ( don’t know where that came from…ha ha…the great theologian LCG)  I am again confident that if I did some serious research that the word “Zo phar” is similar in its derivation to the word “Come here”…  Zophar is probably mistranslated in the King James and probably means “Doug”.  For those of you who even care Zophar means “sparrow”  His chirping is sending Job up the wall.   What a bird!


Your welcome!

After reading Job 20 might I address God in prayer and say, “God, keep the Zophar folk away from me.  I am not interested in prison ministry!”

Now back to what brung me here!  Mark 3:

5He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.

Any time the Lord is ticked off, excuse me “…in anger” as the Scripture states, I want to know why!  What is it that messed him up?  What got caught in his craw and caused him to get sideways about the whole deal?  He looked ar0und at who?  Religious people, that’s who.  People who were attending church.  Can you imagine what HE could see when HE looked…seeing all the way into their smelly self-centered, self-righteous hearts?  They looked good on the outside.  But if you took a good whiff, “…you could smell “hog”…” as my friend says.  They did not get it and most likely never would.  What caught his attention (outside of the obvious need of a man with a withered hand) was the sight of an evil sinful heart of judgment.  Those who should “know” the truth (all those church folk) and whose hearts should be tender toward the needs of people are worrying about rules and regulations and all of a sudden we see Jesus’ Father come out in Him as He is giving sinners a glimpse of the time of answering to come.

I felt His pity for those who don’t get it.  Deeply distressed at their obstinate heart.  Subborn heart.  Hard heart.  What else do you expect sin to do to a heart?  Sin never softens – love does that.  Sin never heals – God does that.  Sin cannot forgive – only Christ provides that joy.  There is no joy…only religious activity.  They really don’t get it and they are experiencing so much less than God’s best.  A stubborn heart grieves our Savior.  And a stubborn heart should grieve us.  I can bring my withered world to the Savior and he can completely restore it.  I am asking God today to help me keep from being religious and hard-hearted.

Hard hearts.

Healed Hands. Completely restored.

And He works on hard hearts as well…

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job1“But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives,
and he will stand upon the earth at last.

The context of that verse is unbelievable.  Job has lost everything.  He feels so alone.  All who are around him are killing him with words.  Folk are kicking him while he is down.  No one around him knows the true story and I am not certain that Job knows it all either.  However, he has a strong faith and a desire to do what is pleasing to God.

Out of  the deepening darkness of complaint about what this one says and that one says and against the backdrop of people who should be close walking away from him, a bright ray of unexpected hope screams out – “But as for me…”  “I know my redeemer lives…”  Some how the personal conviction of the inner man in Job was solid as a rock.  His circumstances did not have a chance to change his character nor his personal beliefs.  Life was horrible.  I have lost it all and I really wish those who were running their mouths would hush.  I can’t stand it any more.  I hear him say, “Please shut up!”  Where are my friends when I need them?

His personal relationship with the Father in heaven was so secure he could be blunt honest with him and never feel the least bit threatened.  How I appreciate the honesty Job had in communicating to God about his life.  He breathed his frustration to God and He heard them.  God did not instantly move for that was not the plan.  He was still at work.  Job’s confidence in God was still strong at this point…or at least that’s the way it appears at this point.

Words kill.  It seems to me that if you don’t have something good to say to someone, you ought to weigh it out carefully before you (as a Christian) should share it.  Words have extreme power.  They can tear down or if used correctly can build up.  Job was suffering from the beating that comes as a gift from a person who does not think before he opens up his mouth.  Oh, to God in heaven, he could cause us to see the power of our words and help us to be someone who brings others encouragement and peace.

Words also reveal the heart or so it seems to me.  The Word of God is right for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth spews its evidence.  You can tell what is in a person’s heart by what comes out of their mouth.  And it is true that you can only give away what is inside you.  I have seen people so full of stupid and animosity that you never hear one positive word come out of their mouth.  They don’t even know that they are being that way.  It just comes so natural because you can only give away what is in you.

God, help me to be nice to the Job’s of this world.  They already have enough on their plate.  Unfortunately, I am not in a position to know all the facts…so if I have to give – let me give on the side of being an encourager!

Help me to have Job’s attitude and character (and of course I am asking God to do this without the testing that goes along with the request…as if God would do things any different in my own life!)when it comes to keeping my faith in perspective even in the midst of the storms of life.

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7026_1242724101851_1041791808_764532_693824_n1 Once we were safe on shore, we learned that we were on the island of Malta.

Just a thought…Acts is a story of the activity of God as He started the fire of spreading the Gospel to the Gentiles.  It is quick glimpses into the spreading of the fire.  Paul is on his way to Rome for trial.  He is ina ship in the middle of a monster storm.  He is calm as he can be as he faces the circumstances of the moment.  God spoke to him and told him he would make it to Rome and that no one would die in the misdt of this “Northeaster” that he was facing.  He trusted God.  In retrospect he could write the testimony of how God protected him.

Two days.  Both completely different.  Both contained a friend called Randy Cribb.

For 550 years Nancy and I have helped to organize the Skateland activity for McLaurin Elementary School.  We go every fourth Monday night of the month school is in.  Nancy and Debbie Cribb are best friends and usually are busy at the end of school helping one another close out the school, go to the nursing home to see Mr. Lawrence (Debbie’s dad) and then after working out or walking they stop by Subway and get a sandwich before meeting me at Skateland.  Once the get there, Randy meets me and we enjoy supper together at Arby’s across the street from the skating rink.  We have done it for years.  Today was different for Kimberly text me on her phone and asked me if she could eat dinner with Randy and me.  I told her she could.

Yesterday was that day.  I get one of those calls all parents get from time to time.  I answer the phone and it is my baby daughter (listen at me…the girl is 19 years old) who when she said, “Daddy” I knew something was wrong.  She had been in her first automobile wreck.  I asked if she was alright and of course she is never alright unless I am standing there.  She said she was and the other lady who had pulled out in front of her was as well.  Kimberly was scared to death.  Now guess where the wreck happened?  Right in front of Skateland.  I couldn’t get there quick but guess who was sitting in his car waiting for me to get there?  That’s right, Randy!  He actually heard her breaks lock and heard the hit that sent the little car spinning in the middle of the street.  I did not know that Randy was there.  I called him to see how far he was from Skateland.  He answered the phone.  He did not say, “Hello!”  When he answered the call he simply said to his nervous dad, “She is OK!”  For some reason that was all I needed to hear…words of consolation from a friend.

What are the odds that the first fender bender that my daughter would be in would be in front of a place where God had already placed a freind.  Of all the places it could have happened…it happened there.  Some how in the back of my weird old mind, I can imagine God saying to some angels standing around or whatever you do as angels…”I want you to watch how this one is going to work out!”  Only God can orchestrate this kind of stuff…

Whether a ship wreck or a car wreck…He is still in charge of it all…

By the way…you can fix a car!

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Not that you need an explanation, I feel I need to get back to my regular routine of writing and focus on my devotionals.  I have enjoyed several projects that have worked me over.  It was one of those “Help Me, Jesus!” moments when I walked in the house one morning and discovered that the half bath’s sink downstairs had over flowed.  Water wasn’t “everwhere”, but there was enough of it on the floor to make the pressboard floor jump with swelling joy…and swell it did.  A call to the insurance company led us to the decision to check out the possibility of what direction we choose to follow.  We decided as others would to put tile down.  The idea sounded good and we were excited UNTIL I checked out what that entailed…and what a surprise.

The decision to remove press board floors was a good one.  I refused to pay someone to do what I can do well – tear things up.  The work force was a combination of Nancy and me.  The evening crew was Nancy and me.  The clean up crew was Nancy and me.  Add to that a decision to redo the half bath downstairs and after some clear instructions from Janice Bell, Ph.D. in wallpaper removal, we began the dubious task of removing wallpaper that came from hell and smelled of smoke.  When it was off, it looked like we had done it with a claw hammer.  Next came a wonderful “learning experience” as I discovered the simple joy of “skimming” a boogered up wall.  Joint compound dust from this project has been discovered 48 miles from here.  The toilet is removed and sitting under the carport awaiting a visit from some of the neighbor youngun’s.  The absence of a toilet made painting the place easier and I am glad now that task is over.  It looks better and I am proud of it.

Whoever put the pressboard down with screws and nails every inch of the floor all 456 square feet of it will not make it heaven.  People that do that cannot possibly make it to heaven because you feel like you have been to hell and back after taking it up.  A quick trip to the local supply store yeilded a six foot destructive tool called a prybar from heaven.  You can take a long swing with that monster and pressboard floor flees in joy from its underlayment.  It danced with delight as I packed it into the back of my truck and hauled it to the dump.  We will not discuss how much fun it is to remove the board out from under the toe kicks of the cabinets.  Let’s suffice it to say that people who are ADHD do not need to attack that project unless heavily medicated…and for goodness sake do no put a toekick saw in their hands – dangerous is an understatment.  I am glad that is over.

All praise to Jesus for a telephone call from my friend Randy Cribb who wanted to know where I was this past Friday.  I was on the way back from the place you take all the pressboard remains – pressboard cemetery – when the call came.  He – just out of  the blue – let me be clearer – out of the heavens – said he was there to help me put down 14 sheets of OSB board that would be the base for the tile project.  Before long the board was cut and in place.  I had no idea he was coming but very glad he did.

Now while this project is going on a decision was made to paint the laundry room as well.  So between sawing and cutting and removing stuff – painting was in the process.  The floor was down.  We took each piece back up, put wood glue under each piece and then screwed the little devils to the floor.  I was glad when they said unto me, let us put the tools back where they came from.  Did I say that we are also getting the floor ready in our bath as well?  No, I didn’t.  Add that to the list.  At least it came up a lot easier than the rest of the place.

I have discovered that I am 53 years old.  I have fallen in love with knee pads and have learned to care for bruised knees and cuts.  Places hurt on me that a medical book cannot find.  I know now why people that do this for a living are paid well for their destructive activity.  I now know I can do it if necessary.  I pray it ain’t necessary any time soon!  I will be glad to finally stop saying to someone who has lent me a tool, “Explain to me how this thing works!”.  I can’t help it if I was baptised in stupid when I was younger.  I am glad that there are friends around me that make this project some eaiser.

I have been too tired to write.  Today, I got up late.  It is Monday.  Preachers are no good on Monday.

I am looking forward to the rest of the day.

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2 One day as these men were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Dedicate Barnabas and Saul for the special work to which I have called them.” 3 So after more fasting and prayer, the men laid their hands on them and sent them on their way.

I wake up and say, “Good Morning, Lord!”  It is so cold this morning that I said, “Good Lord, Morning!”

I would wake up and tell God, “Good Morning!”  He would say to me, “Hurry up and get up.  Drink some Starbucks!  Let’s get going.  We have a busy day today, together.  Just wait until you see where we are going today.”  And I will admit that I am amazed at the end of the day what all has happened when you let the Holy Spirit drive the process.  I listen.  He speaks.  I obey.  The rest is history.

Verse 3 is the verse that caught me off guard.  The Holy Spirit told them something to do.  Why the delay with more fasting and prayer?  In chapter 8 Philip is minding his own business loving the Lord and listening to the Holy Spirit’s guidance and when the Holy Spirit told him to head south toward Gaza, he immediately said, “Let’s go!”  There was no question nor hesitation.  Here they were worshiping the Lord and fasting the the Holy Spirit told them to dedicate Barnabas and Saul for the special work that God called them to accomplish.  The Holy Spirit didn’t instruct them to go fast and pray some more and THEN dedicate them to the Lord.  Yet they hesitated.  They fasted and prayed some more.  How much instruction do you need before you obey?

I was so impressed with Philip’s openness to the leadership of the Spirit.  Even when given just part of the instructions he obeyed.  “Go south!”  and he went.  “Go get personally interested in the man in the chariot who is reading the Scriptures!”  He did that, then.  The Holy Spirit guided his questions and answers.  Philip didn’t even push for a decision at the end of the discussion.  He let the Holy Spirit guide the whole deal.  When that assignment was over – off to the next.  He must have been a lot of fun to work with.  No wonder the Holy Spirit used him in a great way!

I am thinking of the wonder that fills my soul thinking that God’s plan includes us.  He speaks.  We listen.  We obey.  And God works.

We are his Plan A.  There ain’t no Plan B.  I am breathless thinking that a holy God would choose to work through you and me.  We are a vital part of his game plan.

We is it!  God help me not to delay today.  I want to hear your voice.  I want to follow you.

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I was checking my Facebook page (and, yes, you can be spiritual and have a Facebook page) and Ken Smith posted the following:

Ken Smith just thinking is ownership of a project the responsibility of the everyone… or a few… we seem to feel like something happens because we like it not because we are committed to making it happen…

I watched the Colts play last night.   Peyton Manning is amazing.   309 yards passing and three touchdowns speaks for itself.   Peyton Manning completed 36 of 44 passes for 309 yards and three touchdowns with one interception. Manning was a perfect 14 for 14 with 148 yards in the second quarter, and he has passed for 300+ yards in five straight regular season games.  Peyton, Peyton, Peyton Peyton…alright, I will give you that one…he is a super quarterback, but, quarterbacks ain’t nothin’ if there ain’t some big boys hanging around you.

I was watching them wrap ankles, put arm braces on the players, iced down all but broken bones, and the like and you call that fun – “I liked that!”  The only reason the game was won was that a great group of men put their crying towels down and did what was necessary as a team in spite of the bruises and soreness and made that win happen.  Ownership for the win was not Peyton’s.  Everyone on the team had to make that happen.  It takes work and lots of it to make a win look that easy…OK, playing Tennessee was also a big help!  Nevertheless, it happened and the group made it happen.

I know that there are people who think that Christian’s just “happen” to grow.  However, it is a known fact that if you want to grow as a Christian then you have to pay the price to see that it happen.

Churches do not grow by accident.  Caring for people is a “team” activity.  No special “few” can make the whole thing fly.  It takes everyone working in concert to see that it happens.  Nehemiah reminded me again that people have to stand guard on the top of the wall and by the gates and doing all the other things that make rebuilding a city necessary.  He did not make it “fun” for it to happen.  Some died.  Some were hurt in the process.  Some worked long hours but there were a lot of people whose lives were blessed because he focused the attention of the group to get the wall built.  This morning Peyton will wake up and celebrate another win.  The ‘team’ did it again.

This morning I will gather my “team” around me and we will as a group work together.  Tuesday night I will gather a group of people who are committed to reaching out to people.  It’s not about how I feel about it.  It is I am committed to caring for people.

I will do my part, today!

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