The Superbowl… The Real Story

imagesCAUYUQ81Greetings from Greenville, Mississippi where it’s a chilly 45 degrees and “no snow.”  I appreciate all of you on Facebook with your beautiful scenes of ice covered lakes, snow covered fields, shoveling snow off your driveways, and rooftops, making snow igloos… I could look at it for hours.  Your pictures that is… not the snow and cold.  Seriously, I hope you are all warm, and making the best of it until Spring thaw.  It will be here soon.

Did you watch the Superbowl?  That may be a silly question… most of you did!  114.5 million viewers… almost half the TV’s in America, were watching.  It was the equivalent to the whole nation of Mexico tuned in.  NBC is planning their own victory parade!  They will hoist the trophy for the most watched show in TV history.

It was a great game, with an amazing ending.  Here’s how it went! (Non-football lovers indulge us for just a moment, I promise there is something for you before we end.)

With just a minute left in the game the Seattle Seahawks had the ball.  Although they had been fairly dominant for much of the game, the scrappy Patriots had held on, and now held a 28-24 lead.  Time was running out for the Seahawks as their last chance lay before them.   Then came the two plays which will live in Seattle lore for generations.  For the first one, Russell Wilson dropped back to pass.  It was a beautiful arch down the right sideline.

It hanged high in the air dropping down like a dove into the hands of the receiver Jermaine Kearse.  But… defender Malcolm Butler, an unknown rookie from “West Alabama U” makes a brilliant acrobatic move and gets his hand on the ball stripping it away.  Kearse, Butler, and the ball come tumbling to the ground.  But wait… the ball bounces off legs, and arms, like a slow pinball game… right into the hands of Jermaine Kearse!  It’s all luck, combined with Kearse’s tenacity to not give up… but luck counts! Butler jumps up, he’s got to be shocked.  It’s the play that’s going to haunt him on ESPN for the rest of his life.  Back home in Vicksburg, no one will talk about it… or worse they’ll all be talking about it.  He barely has the presence of mind to knock Kearse out of bounds; 36 inches from a game winning touchdown.

Now, everyone in the game has their eyes on two men.  One is Russell Wilson… the elusive kind of quarterback who gives linemen nightmares the week before a game.  Many a NFL lineman has had to be carried out of the film room mumbling insanity the week before playing Wilson.  How do you get a hand on him?  The other is the “bull in the room;” the beast-mode running back himself, Marshawn Lynch.  Truth is, everyone knows Lynch is going to get the ball.  He’s the man.  Everyone is watching him.  The crowd is watching him, the TV audience has him picked out on the screen, and, most of all, the New England Patriot’s defense is fixated on him.  Can they turn back the force, and deny him one more time.  Malcolm Butler is taken out of the game, his mind trying to process his bad luck, and an extra linebacker is substituted.  They are trying to get as much muscle as possible to beat the beast.

Aw… but Pete Carroll is a cagey one.  He knows everyone is looking at Lynch.  When the defense fires off the ball, they will be set on “Seek, Identify, and Destroy” mode with the crosshairs on Marshawn Lynch.  That is why Carroll makes the call that will live on for the ages.  The ball is snapped back to Russell Wilson.  Just like everyone thought, the defense fires off, surging forward to stop the powerful Lynch.  But wait!! Russell, before anyone has a chance to say “Sucker,” fires a pass to his third receiver Ricardo Lockette.  What a play! What a call!  No one saw it coming… no one had a chance to stop it!  Touchdown Seattle!!  Touchdown Seattle!  The Seahawks win the Superbowl!!!!

STOP!!!  REWIND……

That is how the game would have ended, had everyone done what most of us tend to do.  The difference was one player.  Malcolm Butler was taken from the game, and he had to be thinking his trip to the Superbowl was going to be the stuff of nightmares.  Everyone was going to be chanting, “Hey, Malcolm how about that catch!  Huh?!!  He had to wonder how his luck could have been so bad.  He did everything right, and luck jumped up and bit him.   Then the coach yelled, “Butler, Go!!”  They were putting him back in the game!  Running on to the field, everyone’s eyes were on Marshawn Lynch… everyone that is but Malcolm Butler.  He was reading the formation and seeing the receiver he was supposed to cover.  The things a defensive back is supposed to do every play of every game.  While everyone else was caught up in the excitement of the game… Butler was doing what he had been trained to do.  What he saw was a formation he’d seen a hundred times on film preparing for the game.  It gave him the split second advantage he needed.  Slamming in front of Ricardo Lockette, he intercepted the ball, and preserved the victory for his team.

Tom Brady won MVP, but he gave the car to Malcolm Butler.  Butler became the most famous alumni of West Alabama University, and the hero of the week in the Mississippi delta.

Preparation and execution mean everything.  Not giving up means even more.  Jesus talks about God giving greater challenges to those who have shown themselves faithful in the smaller, routine challenges.  How many times in the game  (the season, the career) had Malcolm Butler lined up, went through reading the offenses formation, tensed for action… only to have his receiver run way down the field while they threw the ball elsewhere.  How easily would it have been, after the terrible luck of the great catch, to have been off kicking his helmet and glaring at the water cooler… never hearing the coach say, “Butler, Go!”?  “Perseverance” is a gift of the Holy Spirit.  We’d rather not use it… but it can save the day.

So, next time the game seems over, and your luck ran out… hang in there a little longer.  Do what you know to do, live like you know you should.  Don’t throw in the towel just yet.  You never know what one more play may bring.  Do what you are called to do… one more time.  God is not through with you yet.

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Still Queen of The Castle

WELCOME TO 2015!!!  I hope you are getting this year off to a great start.  Things are good here in the Mississippi delta.  Since the last post so much has happened, both internationally, and personally.  Mary and I had an absolutely wonderful end to 2014.  A few years back Mary began to dream about having all our kids and grandkids together for a big family vacation at the beach.  Mainly due to her hard work and planning, it came to be over the holidays.  It was great.  Although not intended so, it turned out to be an educational trip as well.  We learned so much…. For instance….

  • Did you know that traffic on I-10 through Tallahassee, Florida moves at a brisk 90 mph?   I do now!
  • Did you know that at 65 degrees people from Florida will huddle around the heater and shiver, while boys from Mississippi, ages 13, 8, and 5, will play in the ocean?  I do now!
  • Do you know all the words to “Frozen” songs, like “Let It Go,” and “Do You Want To Build A Snowman?”  I do now!IMG_20150102_130229
  • Do you know how much fun it is to hear your grandkids sing it over and over and over and over?  I do now!
  • Do you know what it sounds like in Spanish?  I do now!  (So the five year old assures me.)
  • Did you know that teenage Brown Pelicans are the only ones with a gray belly?  I do now!
  • Do you know there are people passionate about identifying teenage Brown Pelicans?  I do now!
  • Do you know that there is a mollusk, called a “Tiger,” that will crawl from its shell, and despite having no hands, arms, feet, or mouth… do everything he can to tear you limb from limb?  I do now!
  • Did you know that on the interstate in Jacksonville, Florida, Suri will repeatedly tell you to turn at precisely the moment it is no longer possible to do so?  I do now!
  • Did you know that sand, sun, and 85 degrees beats 32 degrees and cold drizzling rain everytime?  Ok… I already knew that one, I just had to rub it in.
  • Did you know that Highway 82 from Tuscaloosa, Alabama to Montgomery, Alabama is a long 100 miles of dark, foreboding  two lane road… which, on Christmas day, has no witnesses?  I know now!
  • Did you know that after driving Highway 82 from Tuscaloosa… Montgomery, Alabama sure is beautiful site to see?  I do know!
  • Did you know that New Smyrna Beach, Florida is the most shark infested beach in the world… (people estimate that if you spend anytime in the water there, you will have been within 10 feet of a shark)?  I know now!  **Mental note for next vacation.
  • Do you know what the purple flag on the beach means?  I know now!
  • Did you know that New Smyrna has a special beach for those who feel swimming attire is too restrictive… and if you inadvertently use the name of such beach to answer a question in a board game… your grown children will literally grab their bellies in rolling laughter?  I know now!
  • Did you know that the weeks of Christmas vacation are Disneyworld’s busiest weeks?  I know now!
  • Did you know that if you go to Disneyworld on such weeks, (from New Smyrna), it will take you a hour to drive to downtown Orlando… then two hours from downtown Orlando to the Magic Kingdom parking lot?  I know now!
  • Did you know that just because you have a ticket to a Disney park, it doesn’t mean you can get in!  I know now!

This last bit of education came on Monday of our visit.  One of the high points of the trip was the venture to Disneyworld.  It was especially exciting taking three of our grandsons… ages 8, 5, and 3  (the fourth is only a few months old, and not so impressed).  “This is going to be the best day ever” one proclaimed.  The main draw for them? “Elsa.”  (If you don’t know who Elsa is, find a child who has been on planet earth for the last couple of years and they’ll fill you in on Disney’s latest princess.)  They couldn’t wait.

Everyone was excited that morning as we headed out from the beach house for the Magic Kingdom.  Traffic was terrible (cf. the note above).  As we poured onto the Disney grounds it was bumper to bumper and barely moving.  Getting closer, we noticed some of the hold up was at the gate.  People seemed to be telling the attendants their life story… long, lengthy conversations.  What could they possibly be talking about?  We, of course, mocked them for taking so long.  Then it was our turn. castle  The gate attendant informed us that the Magic Kingdom was closed… it was at capacity, and no one else could get in.  Fire marshall’s rule.  Fortunately for us… we had purchased our tickets ahead, and they were waiting for us at the entrance…we had already been counted.  Right?  Wrong!!!  We pleaded our case in earnest… the drive, the pre-purchased tickets, the traffic, our vacation… none of it meant anything.  Nothing he could do.  He informed me that to “straighten it out” I would need to go to the ticket booth at another park.  There I could get my tickets and there they would let me know what could be done.  So, licking our wounds, we took the turn out of the park and headed for Hollywood Studios.

At Hollywood Studios everyone waited while I went to the gate. And waited…and waited.   After a long while in line, I finally talked to the clerk.  I explained our dilemma.  There was nothing she could do, so she promptly called her manager.  I spoke with him for a long time.  We made several laps through…”Here are your tickets”… “What can you do to help us?”… “Nothing, other that  let you in to another park, or you can come back tomorrow”… “If we come back tomorrow will we be assured of getting in?”… “No”… “Will you compensate us for the fact we wasted 4 hours of this day to find this out?”… “No”… “Will you refund the tickets if we cannot use them?”… “No.” There was nothing else he could do. (In the end, I found out “straightening things out” meant politely, and pleasantly smiling while he “straightened me out.”) An hour had past and I arrived back at the car with the same bad news.

By now we are all tired and exasperated… okay, some of us were really mad.  We decided to go to Downtown Disney to maybe salvage something of the day.  By now I am charging through the park, fuming about the process, the prices, and everything Disney.  Kids were looking at me twice thinking I must be the Donald Duck character with the way I was fussing.  By the time I go to the Guest Relations” I had even sworn off ABC and ESPN for good measure.

At “Guest Relations,” I would plead my case to someone higher up and they would be sympathetic to my woes…certainly.   There I was told by a sweet Brazilian girl who spoke at least four languages… “No.”  “Just use them ‘next time’ you come she insisted.”  I soon realized a key piece of negotiating.  In all my efforts I had forgotten one important fact of negotiations… they were the Disney Corporation, and I was not.

About 4 pm I trudged back to the car.  The only new news… enough people had tired of the crowds at Magic Kingdom and went home, it was now reopen to new guests for the time remaining that day.  Not knowing what would happen the next day, we decided to get in what we could in the few hours left.

The park was extending its hours to 1 am, but with small kids we just knew the clock was ticking down much faster than that.  This wasn’t helped by the fact that the park was packed with people.  The first casualty… the line to see Elsa was 2 hours long.  That wasn’t going to happen.  In fact most of the “characters” were no longer out walking around.  The grand total the boys got to meet? “0”   They handled it well enough, but grandparents were disappointed.

Despite arrangements for when the little boys gave out… they kept going.  Past 9 pm…11 pm… midnight… they did fine all the way to the end.  As we made our way to Main Street for the big grand finale parade, we were satisfied, though it had not been what we had hoped.  We got to see the castle all “Frozen” alright, but not one much coveted glimpse of Elsa.  The tired boys finally sat down to end the day with front row seats for the parade…right on the curb.  The lights, the music, it was the Electric parade was a great end for the day.

Then up the street came the pumpkin changed to “Golden Carriage.”  The mice led the way, the attendants on hand… and in the carriage, of

download (8)course, Cinderella.  As she passed by the lights danced and the boys all cheered.  Then five year old waved enthusiastically at her.  Then…, in a moment of real magic, she locked eyes with him; and in a surreal moment, she waved back.  He was wonderstruck… turning to his grandmother, he exclaimed “She’s beautiful!”

Yep… its hard to beat the classics!  Forget Elsa… on the way to the car, it was all about “Cinderella.”  How’s that for a reminder who is resident Queen of the kingdom; the centerpiece of the Magic Kingdom… is “Cinderalla’s Castle.”

I reflected a lot on that day… the things I learned.  There was my sense of exasperation and inability to change anything about our plight.  There was the coldness that revealed an inner contempt.  There was the outward show of hospitality that covered over indifference.  They were busy, they were big, and the plight of our family was simply not their biggest issue.  My esteem of them was of little consequence and my business not really all that important.  It comes with running a “big” kingdom… its to be expected.  With 40,000 people at the gate, they can’t be bothered with everyone’s little issues.

Yet, I know someone who runs a much bigger enterprise than Disney.  It is a kingdom without end.   And He, “The Lord of the Universe, and King of the Kingdom of God,” cares.  He doesn’t care in some universal, esoteric way, but personally, and deeply.  Like Cinderella, he looks out and sees not just the teeming masses, but he sees me.  He is a personal God.  Salvation is his personal act of love for me… and for you.  When I pray… he hears.  Its not some low-level angel farmed out with the task.  He is a “hands on”… “face to face” kind of God.  He doesn’t say… “pay the fare, and join the crowd,” rather he implores, “Follow me.”

***Note: If anyone out there knows the girl who was Cinderella for the closing parade on Dec. 29 (actually 1 am…Dec. 30) tell her “Thanks.”  She not only saved a day at Disneyworld, with one wave,  she reminded me something of God’s beauty.  “E” is right… she was beautiful. One other thing I learned… Did you know being together with our family…all laughing, singing, and sharing a wonderful time together makes the day “the best day ever?”  I know now!

Jesus… Santa Claus… and Fred

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.  Well…. maybe not so much.  I know its getting closer, but I’m having a little trouble getting into the Christmas spirit this year.  I am not sure what’s missing exactly.  Everything seems to be in place…

  • It’s not the city decorations.  The firemen have given each light pole the customary lighted figurine.  Never was sure how that became a fireman’s job, but I am glad they do it. (My wife assures me its because they have the ladder.)
  • The local Christmas parade went off without a hitch.  Kid’s loved riding the floats and fire trucks, bands played Christmas carols, parents blushed and hid the eyes of their children from the drill team dance moves… all the traditional stuff.
  • Kids are out of school for Christmas break.  No, they still have to attend.  It’s still a week and a half until it officially lets out.  However, teachers assure me… they are already gone.  Not sure they ever really came back from Thanksgiving break. For that matter, same goes for the teachers.  Same as every year.
  • The Christmas tree is up.  My wife opted for the smaller version this year.  The big one has great sentimental value.  One night, shortly before Christmas, our daughter and soon to be son-in-law came toting in the biggest one they could find at Wal Mart.  “Merry Christmas” they yelled.  And so, every year it goes up with memories of that special “pre-Christmas” night.  And yet, when I see the smaller tree and the family decorations (including bungee jumping Santa Claus), it has the same effect.  I think of all those Christmas’ past… and the people that make them special.  No… its not the tree.
  • Neither is it the special sermon series… this year I am preaching about the names attached to Jesus: Jesus, Immanuel, the beautiful-christmas-treeNazarene.  That is going well.
  • The bell ringers are out all over town, and the angel trees encourage everyone to give… and for the most part people do, just like every year.
  • And, right on schedule, just last week, Santa kicked off the shopping season at the mall.  Little kids from all around come to welcome the jolly man himself.  Now, just about anytime you will find a line as they chat with the man, tell him what they want,  and hear his “Ho, Ho, Ho”…..

WAIT!!!! That’s it!!!!!  That’s it!  I miss Fred!

I miss Fred.  You see every year since coming to South Main, I have always looked forward to Fred being in the audience.  It was a regular part of the holidays.  On Saturday the Shopping Mall would have a big reception, people would come and cheer as “Santa Claus came to town.”  Then, the next day, there would be Fred; worshiping with us at South Main.  He didn’t get to stick around long after services; he had to get to work, but in the short conversations we had, one just couldn’t help be like Fred.  There was a twinkle in his eyes, and a joy in his voice.  It must have been an occupational asset…  just like the full, white beard.

Fred was good at his “clandestine” occupation.  One Christmas I took an hour and just watched Fred at his work. Kids laughed. Fred laughed.  He lifted 30 pounds of excitement over and over, put them on his knee, gave them a candy cane, a smile, and the sense that someone cared.  In all those Sunday mornings at South Main, only once did I see his cover get blown.  One little girl somehow knew the secret of identity detection.  She saw it in his eyes…. That, she said was what gave him away.   “Hey your *XXXX” she exclaimed,  (*the sound of her mother putting a hand over her mouth as she rushed her out the door).  Fred laughed, we laughed.  It was a good Sunday.  Yep, some have preached the gospel to Kings, some to CEO’s and presidents.  Every year I was blessed to preach for Santa Claus.

Fred is not with us this year.  It seems its been a tough one for Fred and Mrs. Claus away up North (Memphis that is.)  The report is that Mrs. Claus has been battling cancer.  Although its in remission, Fred just couldn’t leave her.  “Santa Claus” and a good husband… I guess some of us need to up our game a little.  I also found out another secret about our resident Claus.  Fred and his wife Gloria are foster parents.  I guess I should say, have been foster parents…for over 20 years.  Not having any children of their own, they’ve made a life out of helping kids that needed parents.  When I saw Fred hoisting kids on his knee to bless them, he was just carrying on the work he and Gloria have been doing, on a much larger scale, for a long time.  They have had a few kids… over 100!!  [Take a moment and think of what it means to bless the lives of 100 children… how that changes the future; changes the world.]

The “Santa” in “Santa Claus” stands for “Saint”… as in “Saint” Nicholas; the guy who gets credit for starting it all.  I know the Bible says that, thanks to Jesus, we all get to be “saints.”  But, some of us make the designation a little easier to believe.  God has a special place in his heart for children.  He must be especially proud of those who make a life of blessing them.  “Mr. and Mrs. Saint Fred.”

Fred, we miss you this year.  We miss you and Gloria being with us.  Thanks to you both for spreading the joy of the Christ to so many hearts.  Our prayers are with you.  “I heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight… Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.”   Here’s to wishing you and Mrs. Claus a very merry Christmas, and a happy New Year.

And here’s hoping all of you know the glad tidings of great joy Jesus brought to the world.

“Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me….”

Just In Time For The Holidays!!

Well, its “All Hallow’s Eve- Eve.”  It’s a birthday in our family.  For most it is the last day of holiday sanity.  Tomorrow will kick off the great run of American classic winter celebrations.  We’ll pump everybody up on candy tomorrow night.  Then, just as the candy stash starts to run out and hyperactive children end their seasonal sugar rush, we will stuff them with turkey and pie.  Turkey, of course, has a sedative effect while all the pies and desserts help balance it out.  That is so we won’t oversleep on black Friday… stores are frocked with sales ads, and you can hear the jingle of shopping carts running over each other to get the “One hour only” item.  Then its on to the high holiday of the world… Christmas.  That flows out slowly into New Years.  Then we all finally sleep… while visions of Valentines Day dance in our heads.

Don’t you love the holidays!!!  It’s so nice to kick back with some sweet tea, pumpkin pie, and a good football game on TV.  It is so special to have this time of year with nothing to do but dress up, watch special programs on TV, and visit with turkeyfriends and family.  There is something about relaxing, reflecting, and sharing memories around a fireplace that make holidays right.  So peaceful…so refreshing.

“What!!!!?  Have you been to Thanksgiving at our house?”… that’s what some of you are saying.  Others are adding lovely holiday sentiments like: “That food doesn’t cook itself you know!,” “Relaxing around a fireplace… try the dishwasher!,” and “I can tell a man wrote those lines!”

It’s amazing how much work goes into a “holiday.”  Fortunately for all, some South Korean manufacturers have an answer.  They have sold them for years, but note their sales skyrocket around the holidays.  Both men and women have rushed to buy these holiday saving devices… the answer to over stressed, over worked millions preparing holiday festivities. Fake casts!

That’s right.  “Help me stir this bowl, please.”

“Oh, I would but…my arm, its in a cast.”

“Carry in some more wood….”  “Cook the turkey,” “wash the dishes,” “set the table,” “clean up the kitchen,” etc… requests like that are no problem this year.  “I would love to help, but, remember…my arm; I’ll just have to sit in here this year; maybe catch Macy’s parade and HGTV’s holiday special…after all…you know, my arm.”  It only takes one arm to work the remote.  It doesn’t interfere with “fork action” over a big plate of dressing.  And, when the plate is empty… “Can someone get me some more of the good stuff… and refill my glass?  It’s my arm you know.”  Sure they expect something’s up, but since there are relatives around, what is he/she going to say?  I would be cautious however when being served an ice cold drink… or a very hot one.  They might suddenly have an arm problem of their own.

Of course, the big knock on trying to fool people is “Getting Caught!”  Like the UK (England, not Kentucky) man last week.  Alan Knight, 47, saw himself on security footage from the local supermarket.  In the film he was shopping, strolling around, and then got back in his car… the driver’s seat.  Not bad for a “quadraplegic in a coma.”  The police had been investigating Knight, but on his original court date he mysteriously started having seizures and went to the hospital instead.  As the police continued to investigate, Knight’s wife began to cry “harassment!”  She even wrote a letter to the South Wales Evening Post lamenting how the mean policemen had been tormenting her and her husband.  She produced a doctors note certifying that poor Alan was now bed fast, a quadraplegic; comatose.  Police quit visiting them.  Instead they tracked the Knight’s shopper’s card and found the corresponding footage.  Knight was now watching it in the presence of Judge Paul Thomas.  Alan Knight will be sentenced next Friday.

“No one will know!”… that’s the mantra of every deception.  “The only problem is getting caught”… that’s the by line.  And yet, neither are ever true.  “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time,” so they say.  Yet, there is one who is never fooled.  The one person you will spend the most time with and see everyday for the rest of your life… they know the truth.  They will never forget.  Whatever it is, you can try to hide it, rationalize it, cover over it.  You may even think you have convinced them…. but you are wrong.  This person knows!  You know!  And every morning, in the mirror, your accuser stands before you.  God knows… and you know.

We didn’t need John to tell us, “Any man who says he is without sin is a liar,” (I John 1:5-9).  We know… and we know.  The only way to overcome our sin (ie. our failure to be what people ought) is to be forgiven.  We have to own it, and we have to have someone with authority to forgive it.  Fortunately, such a one exist.  For those baptized into a covenant with Jesus, there stands this promise: “If we confess our sin he is faithful and just to forgive it.”

In II Cor. 5:17 Paul speaks of the great freedom.  When the Spirit of the Lord enters he gives freedom.  We no longer are bound by propping up false images of people who have it all together.  We can be genuine.

So long I had searched for life’s meaning,
Enslaved by the world and my greed;
Then the door of the prison was opened by love,
For the ransom was paid – I was free.

I’m free from the guilt that I carried,
From that dull empty life I’m set free;
For when I met Jesus, He made me complete,
He forgot how foolish I used to be.

I’m free from the fear of tomorrow,
I’m free from the guilt of the past;
For I’ve traded my shackles for a glorious song,
I’m Free! Praise the Lord! Free at last!

“I’m Free,” written by Bill Gaither.

Get That Boy A Nintendo!!!

I hope you have been having a great Fall.  Around here the cool summer gave way to a fairly normal Fall.  The leaves are not turning yet, but all the other signs of September are among us.  Field after field once populated with the masses of corn stalks and soybeans standing shoulder to shoulder have given way to combines and trucks carrying the grain to market.  Cotton is coming next.  Friday nights are lit up by football field lights in a shroud of mosquitoes.  Speaking of football… my Sooners are still without a loss; another sure sign of Fall.  I think they may run the table this year and go undefeated… but then again, I think that every year.  Hope life is good for you, and  to you folks up north… I saw pictures of the snow.  Thanks for the heads up on what’s coming.

Our news event for the day comes from the Austin, Texas area.  It seems the Roy family is in hot water.  Thanks to an alert neighbor, tragedy was narrowly averted and the Roy’s six year old son was saved from a terrible fate.  Only quick thinking and a call to the police saved the day; the ever alert neighbor, sensing a matter of life and death, ran to the boy’s rescue  then delivered him safely to his front door.

A short time later, at that same front door, the Roy’s were met by a police officer.  Then, the next day,  it was child protective services who knocked.  In view of the previous day’s narrowly averted tragedy, the agent was concerned not only for the safety of the six year old, but also his siblings ages eight, and twelve.  A full home investigation was begun that Sherlock Holmes would have thought it OCD.  No stone was left unturned.  They had to get to the bottom of it.  Failure was not an option;  after all, kids’ lives were at stake.  They isolated each kid and asked them serious questions.  They asked them about drug usage… any in the home?  What about alcohol?  Pornography?  How were they bathed?  Ever seen people’s private parts in a movie?  The list went on and on.  Much of the things asked about had never occurred to the children.  Well, that is,  not until the agent asked.  Now they are curious, and Mom and Dad are overjoyed for the opportunity to explain these things to their innocent children.  Eventually the police closed the case on the “Child Endangerment” claims… no wrongdoing was found.

But the Austin neighborhood can sleep better tonight knowing such diligent neighbors are on duty.  Any child playing outside will certainly be spotted by their ever watchful eye.  That’s right… what the six year old did to warrant such an investigation?  He was playing outside… and, get this… alone!  The boy was outside alone!  What were they thinking?  He could have an allergy.  He might pick up a rock… and who knows where that would lead?  He might climb, or run, or jump over something. He might climb a tree!!! Those parents… can’t they get the boy a Nintendo.  Today he is playing outside…tomorrow riding his bike up and down the street!  After that he’ll be driving; hanging out with friends somewhere.  And where will mom and dad be?  Not with him… .

The real culprit here… I think… the media.  Its all those “Get up and move” campaigns and Play 360.  Corrupted by television and all those athletes telling kids to get outside and experience the real “4d” world.  There is your problem!

I hope those of you who don’t know me understand most of what’s been written above was etched in sarcasm instead of ink. imagesdd It is from a grown up who feels a little sorry for the kids in my hometown.  They built a new school some years ago… to do so they took out some of the best bike trails around… and I knew them all.  Wonderful afternoons were spent exploring the creek and the “gullies” by my grandparents’ place. Others were filled “outrunning the neighbors bull” across the pasture… nevermind that he wasn’t chasing us, we thought he might.  If we could just beat him to the blackberry bushes we would be safe.  Many a Saturday  involved wandering all over Harrah with Don Fuson, usually winding up at the High School football field.  (To get there, for 12 year olds who don’t drive, one had to walk a couple miles, cross a creek and several fences, and outrun one German Shepherd whom we knew would stop when you got to the edge of his property line.)  I realize those days are past.  But certainly something has been broken.  Certainly, judging by her fear,  that  neighbor has been robbed of something important if she seriously believes, as she assaulted, that the boy needed to be “inside” with an adult!

There is another part of this that bothers me as well… however.  It is the unsaid assumption.  Why the police?  Why protective services?  Why not assume the kid “sneaked” out of doors and thus the mother needs to know… warranting going over and alerting her? Two moms working together to rear children.  Behind this act was not the heart of a neighbor, but the arrogance of a judge.  Even if, in her judgement, she thought her neighbor was wrong… why not draw alongside this mother of three small children, and offer help.  Why the need to punish?  Why the need to indict?  Why the assumption…”This mother obviously knows better… she is just being derelict and negligent?”

The Pharisees thought they could “police” the world into righteousness.  They thought they could pass the laws, bang the gavel, lower the punishment, and coerce the world into being better people.  When it didn’t work they responded by ratcheting up the laws a little tighter.  When the world was right enough, they thought…God would send the king.

What they never expected was the king was glad to come… just as the world was.  And when he came, he wasn’t up there with them blasting sinners and creating new laws… he was out there among all those incompetent people who couldn’t get their act together.  He lived among people struggling to do what they ought… and he was (still is) quite comfortable in their midst.  And they in his.  So much so, that when he said, “Go and sin no more” it meant something.  They wanted to do just that.

Thank goodness the Austin, Texas police force eventually saw through this neighbor’s attempt to “Lord” over her block.  Thank goodness for a Lord who refuses to dominate us… but comes alongside saying “Follow me.”

“Jihad”… The Real Face of A Holy War

I have been “out-of-pocket” last week.  A preaching appointment in Niceville, Florida took me away from the Mississippi Delta to the Florida coast.  (I know…sometimes a preacher’s life is tough…sarcasm intended.)  I really enjoyed being with an old college roommate and his wife.  It was great few days in the Florida sun, driving along beside the white sandy beaches.

I also enjoyed being away from the television…especially the news.  Let’s see… Israelis and Palestinians are both trying to play innocent while blasting each other behind their back.  Both are using the “He hit me first…well, He hit me twenty-third” defense. The Russians have had a long troubled history with organized crime.  Now it seems the whole Russian leadership is turning into the “Family” with Putin acting like a member of the Corleones. (Who’s that?  Ask your folks about “The Godfather.”)  We expect any day to hear the press conference where he starts talking Russian with a Jersey accent, and calls his Foreign Minister “Vinnie.”  Of course, here at home there is the whole standoff over kids at the border.  Thank goodness their inability to do anything has nothing to do with politics.  Sure….  (Someone see if there is a “Stupid” sign on our forehead.) The situations are complicated, life usually is, but some things are not.  When did “It’s not my fault” become the rallying cry of leadership?

Meanwhile, in a remote part of the world, along dirt trails lined with thick jungle canopies, among the open air markets and remote villages another kind of leadership is on display.  Brave leaders have fallen this week in a war with an enemy most never see until its too late.  The despot orchestrating the deaths of hundreds in Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and now Nigeria is called “Ebola.”

The Ebola virus attacks silently, quickly, and violently.  Raging fever, vomiting, bleeding and death follow quickly.  Fortunately for the world, brave men and women have ran to the fight. The battle ensued, but broke containment.  Those in the battle say it is out of control.  Eighty percent of one village has died.  The chief doctor on the front lines in Sierra Leone contracted the virus; then the lead doctor in Liberia died from it.  But it was the news this week that moved the battle to the front pages.  Two doctors from a Christian relief organization, Samaritan’s Purse… men who could have been home relaxing on the beach with their families instead of the outback of West Africa….have now contracted the deadly virus.  And suddenly, the world holds its breath; and prays.

To all the Palestinians out there…people wanting to draw attention to their cause; to all those 5681“Jihadist” wanting to win the world’s approval; to all those wanting to make a change… take note.  Jesus told his followers that “If I be lifted up (ie. crucifixion) I will draw all men to myself.”  It’s still the formula for making a difference.  The world is filled with people willing to make someone else die for their cause…that is nothing remotely unusual.  Only true believers are willing to lay down their life “for” others in order to make a change.  The world is filled with people who will risk their life to kill the enemy, and die trying.  Very few are willing to lay down their life to serve the suffering in the face of death.  That’s what it means to be a real hero. You want the world to take note of your cause… that will get its attention.  Maybe someday the political leaders of the world will take note.

***One last note… as you pray for the sick in West Africa, also pray for the villages.  The medical teams are running into problems.  As they try to access remote villages they are finding roads blocked by fallen trees, mobs blocking the way with machetes and clubs.  Among many of the villages, fanned by gossip, fear, the pride of local shamans, and the general unknown,  the rumor has spread that the medical teams are causing the outbreak.  Thus they fight the medical convoys and avoid the emergency clinics… their only hope of survival.  God must know how the doctors feel. Prayers…

 

A Marriage Made In Heaven

It is hot and humid in the Mississippi Delta country… but then again, it’s July.  It’s supposed to be this way.  The truth of the matter is summer has been pretty easy on us so far.  We have yet to reach triple digits.  Global warming folks are starting to sweat. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun.)  Never fear, I am sure we still have several weeks guaranteed to turn the outside oven to “broil” and let you work on your backstroke as you make your way through the humid air.

Congratulations to the German soccer team on their stunning overtime win in the World Cup.  As excited as I was for the German who kicked the winning goal, I couldn’t help feel for the Argentine goalie.  The Germans pummeled the mighty Brazilian team with a meteor shower of goals…“seven.”  The Argentine goalie holds them scoreless in regulation, and then only allows one goal in overtime.  Yet, the headline read, “Argentine Goalie Can’t Stop Mighty Germans.”  Sorry… sounds like the goalie did pretty well.  The other guys however, they seemed to have had a few problems.  Congratulations to both teams

Speaking of champions… On July 4th, Joey “Jaws” Chestnut continued his reign over the hot dog eating world.  He devoured 61 hot dogs in 10 minutes. It was an especially good day.  He was celebrating with his favorite fellow hot dog devourer Neslie Ricasa.  Just before the competition, she said “Yes.” Ahhh… romance in bloom.  Somehow, to celebrate their nuptials, I doubt he took her out to eat.

imagesContinuing our walk down the aisle, there was a wedding in San Pedro Huameluka, Mexico worth noting.  The mayor of the town got hitched last month.  The young princess bride wore white, and the whole town turned out for the ceremony.  (Of course they had to…anyone not attending was fined.)  There were the appropriate nuptials, dancing, and even fireworks as the mayor wedded his beautiful… “alligator.”  Local tradition has that it will help the fishing.  [Am I the only one who wanted to be there, and give the bride a handbag as a gift?]  Love is in the air.

Those of you who are married…do you remember how you met your spouse?  Did you meet her at a convention?  That’s right.  Last month was the first annual “Shanghai Matchmaking Expo.”  People came from all around, and several different countries.  You thought it was bad when your folks kept trying to set you up with their latest choice.  The convention was complete.  Posters lined the walls and were even printed on umbrellas, all touting candidates’ pictures, age, education, and salary.  There were booths dedicated to candidates, and notice boards filled with “trading cards” of potential suitors.  You could cut the humiliation with a knife. The news notice said they were not sure about the success of the event.  Many of the singles there did not engage the process much and passed the time in silence. (Imagine the mother hawking her son to all the girls passing by….  “Yes, that’s my son, right there, the one shaking his head with his face buried in his hands!”)  “Many desirable candidates, though represented by family,” they said, “were ‘no-shows.’”  Wonder why?

All that said… God seems to love weddings.  Jesus himself saves one in Cana.  He turns the water to wine and saves a dying celebration.  Later, he characterizes his return to be like that of a groom gathering his friends, singing, celebrating, and parading through town as he goes to get the one who owns his heart… his bride (John 14:1ff).  Weddings were the biggest celebrations in any town of Galilee.  That’s what its hard to miss the joy and affection when scripture refers to the church as  “the bride of Christ.”

It’s become fashionable to bash the church.  People are fond of saying, “I’m a Christian, but don’t expect to see me at church…”     There is a lot of “baggage” packed up in that statement, I know.  A lot of thoughts about Jesus, and a lot of rejection towards religion.  I can’t help but wonder sometimes, however, if it’s not a convenient“loophole” people have devised in their mind.   It’s a way of sounding sentimental about Jesus but without it demanding much.  You can be “culturally Christian,” “like” Jesus on facebook… but you don’t have to be accountable for what that means in your life.  You certainly don’t have to worry about that band of people trying to serve in Jesus’ name… you don’t have to make any commitments there.  Just call on the Lord when you need him… never mind the others.

800px-Wedding_ringsFor all the negative press, it’s nice to know Jesus doesn’t share the opinion.  For all our flaws, the church still remains his bride.  The marriage stands firm.

I remember the day, and the vision when they threw open the auditorium doors.  We were surrounded by friends.  My family was there, having traveled from Oklahoma.  Her family was there; her dad had her by his arm.  When I pause for a moment, the vision comes back to me still.  I don’t remember what was said… and in truth, remember little of the ceremony.  What I do remember was her.

All grooms know… you don’t get the groom without the bride.  He never loses the image of her, regardless how long they’ve been wed.  You don’t get to have Christ without serving his church… He doesn’t leave that option open.

Elton John… Singer, Songwriter, Pianist, Actvist,… Theologian?

The “Rocket Man” is making headlines once again.  Elton John is an amazing singer.  He was fun and amusingly bizarre long before it was in style.  You can’t think of the 70’s and 80’s without at least one Elton John, piano rocking tune making the soundtrack.  “I remember when rock was young… doing the Crocodile Rock!”  It was amazing… there was no “Crocodile Rock” category at the grammys, (“And your favorite new artist in “Crocodile Rock is….”).  There was no “Crocodile” to the Crocodile Rock…. like the “Locomotion.”  There wasn’t even a deep poetic application…ala “The Name Game.”  There were just the songs…  light, fun songs that Eltonbrought a smile to your face.  Elton John had a string of those frolicking, feel good tunes… “Benny and The Jets,” “Rocket Man,” “Daniel.”  Even “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” had a feel good element.  They were songs rich in imagination.  His imagination captured the perfect metaphor for Marilyn Monroe; “Seems to me you lived your life like a “Candle In The Wind.”  When England’s most famous princess died, he repackaged it for Diana.  It was a hit both times.  I am sure the world would go on without Elton John’s wild outfits, outrageous glasses, moving piano keys, and the music… but there wouldn’t be near as many smiles.

This week, however, Elton John made his entrance onto the world not as music performer but as theologian.  More specifically as commentator on the life of Jesus.  Now to his credit… we are all theologians.  Even the atheist who says, “There is not God,” has just said something about God.  The most adamant secularist is one who has chosen secularism as his faith… and is living out a religion based upon faith.  Everyone has a right to think about God, and to enlighten us all with the results of that thought.  The problem is not that he “thought,” or that he “spoke.”  The problem is what he said… or rather, the basis upon which he said it.

What Elton John told  Sky News’s Murnanghan program was, “Jesus would have been a supporter of gay marriage… If Jesus were alive today, I cannot see him, as the Christian person that he was and the great person that he was, saying this could not happen.  He was all about love and compassion and forgiveness and trying to bring people together….”

I understand what Elton John was saying, and know that he was surrounded by a chorus of “amens” when he said it.  But, there is part of me (the thologian and Christian) that would love to ask follow up questions that the reporter obviously missed….

For instance… “Sir Elton… what makes you think Jesus is anything like this?  What makes you think he is loving, compassionate, and forgiving?”  How would he answer that?  Somewhere in his answer, he has to get back to the Bible… the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, the letters of Paul, Peter, etc….  The same Bible that rejects the practice of homosexuality… and portrays Jesus as the same.  If we are to accept what they said about Jesus’ character, we also have to accept what they said about what he taught.  (cf. Matthew 15:19-20 (homosexualtiy would have been included in a Jewish list of “sexual immoralities”); Matt. 19:4-6… marriage is defined as an inherently heterosexual relationship.)  If the Bible is true, then…; if not …..  Hmmm.

Maybe another…”Sir Elton… what event in the life of Jesus makes you think Jesus would accept homosexual marriage?”  Again, I don’t know how Elton John would have answered this.  Perhaps he would have referred to the woman caught in adultery.  There seems some paralells:  another practice considered sexual immorality, harsh critics, a woman feeling the weight of society crushing her….  Certainly, in this story, Jesus is very tender and accepting of the woman.  He sharply rebukes those who saw her as religious “scum.”  He has no patience for anyone using their status in society as a bully pulpit to silence others, and bludgeon them into submission.  He does forgive her, and, figuratively, put his arm around her and lifts her up.  Ohhh… but then there are those curious last words to her… “Go and sin no more.”   Hmmm.

Okay, I suspect, the truth is that Elton John has done what so many of us do.  “Why, Elton John, do you think Jesus is this way?”  “Its the way I choose to see him” would have to be the reply.  It seems the norm these days is to have a “silly putty” Jesus.  If we want to have a vindictive God that hates who we hate… we just shape him that way in our mind, press his face to that image, and, look, there he is.  If we want an old man who doesn’t relate to us, or doesn’t care what we do… out he pops from our mold.  And the list goes on and on. Whatever kind of God we want… we fashion him in our mind, and proclaim him true.   As one writer has been quoted numerous times, “God mad man in his image, and now we have graciously returned the favor.”

The problem with all this, of course, is that for all of our imaginations of Jesus… there still stands the reality of Jesus.  Just because we create a “Jesus” in our mind who supports what we want and what we do… does not mean the real Jesus is the same way.  In the end, there is a real Jesus who taught certain things, and stood for certain things. We cannot pick and choose the parts of his character we want to embrace and ignore the rest.  (Cf. John 6 where people wanted to do that.)  If we imagine him differently, then we have simply constructed an illusion… and reality crushes every illusion.

Jesus did love everyone… and because of that he was loving, and forgiving.  But also, because of his love, he hated that which destroys men and women.  He stood firmly against people and practices that corrupted and demeaned the world he created.  The world is filled with deceptions, trap doors, mine fields, and spiritual carcinogens that get inside us, infect us, and kill us.  There are ways that look right, seem right, that satisfy deep impulses within us… but in the end are the ways of death.  He identifies those things as sin… and he calls us to stay clear.  Because that is what love does.  He wants to accept us… because that too is what love does.  If you love someone, you throw your arms around them, care for them, encourage them, and you certainly don’t want to hurt them.  But, if you truly love them, you hate that which is destroying them, even if they don’t see it.

Jesus wants to bless everyone; to restore the world to the kind of paradise he created. That is what he died for… and what he labors for to this day. The day will come, however, when that which refuses his hand has to be cast away.  It will break his heart… he died to provide an alternative… but that is reality.  We can reject Jesus… he leaves that possibility open; or we can accept him as he really is.  What we can’t do is “recast” him into a more pleasing image, and pretend.

 

Jesus….

 Many of his disciples said, “This is very hard to understand. How can anyone accept it?”

Jesus was aware that his disciples were complaining, so he said to them, “Does this offend you? …

At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him. Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?”

Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life.  We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God.”   (John 6:60; 66-69)

Paging Mr. Right…

Recently I have grown to love TED Talks.  I have learned so many things I never knew before:  How to start a movement, how book covers are designed, the modern scientific model of the universe, and what happens when people flood a Best Buy… all dressed like the employees.  I have found out how “captcha’s” are used to digitize books, how to tell if someone is lying, and what my hallucinations may mean… should I ever have any.  This and 1700 lectures more… all in the space of 15 to 20 minutes each.

One of my favorites, so far, is the one by Kathryn Schultz on “Being Wrong.” [ www.ted.com/talks/kathryn_schulz_on_being_wrong ].  It is a great lecture on our reluctance to be admit being wrong… and how that stymies our growth.  It reaches a zenith when she asks, “What does it feel like to be wrong?”.  The answer is so obvious…and true… you can’t help but shake your head for a moment.  ( I won’t give you the answer… see the lecture.)  We like to be right!  We put up defenses and will reach for any obscure argument we can find to prove we are right.  And…we need to put up those defenses!  Why?  Because the other person in needling, probing, looking for any gap in our armor of “rightness.”  There is that personal satisfaction of successfully navigating the security system, probing, criticizing, and correcting… just to prove we are funniest-construction-mistakes-35right.  There is a lot at stake in this covert world of social jousting.

Never was “the truth” more important, however, than the strange case of Marylander “Joseph Wheeler.”  Joseph Wheeler awoke in a local hospital as they were preparing him for chest surgery.  Tests had shown a malignant mass in his chest that had to be removed “like yesterday.” or else his death was certainly imminent.   This was all news to Joseph.  Up until yesterday, the forty-four year old had enjoyed great health, and certainly had no symptoms of cancer.  Now, his life was in the balance.  Who would have ever thought that he would now be wearing a wrist band that identified him as a cancer patient needing emergency surgery?  Of course, the wristband also identified him as 33 years old… and female.

Joseph Wheeler had arrived by ambulance the day before, with blunt force trauma to his torso from a car wreck.  No severe injuries were found, and he was kept overnight for observation.  When the nurses started prepping him for cancer surgery, a life changing epiphany occurred to Joseph… “I need to get out of here!”  So, aided by his wife, he started to leave. As he was putting on his clothes, the staff called the hospital security.  It was a good thing these guys were on duty.  Extensively trained security guards who understand the limits of coercion and detainment are hard to find.  Evidently, the hospital could find none.  After unsuccessfully keeping him in his room, they trapped him in the elevator to further “persuade” him.  Finally, after being pushed against the wall, beaten, and even kicked, and interrogated…Mr. Wheeler managed to get away from those so intent on guarding his physical health.  They allowed him to leave…”against medical advice.”  (Which begs the question… exactly what was their medical advice?)  At a neighboring hospital he was diagnosed with four broken ribs, a ruptured spleen, and a concussion.

for-help You think you had a bad day!  But, wait for it, it gets worse.  While the security guards were roughing him up in the elevator, they were focused intensely on one little white band… they wanted Mr. Wheeler’s id bracelet.  Under the auspice of trying to “get the treatment he needed,” they were really trying to cover their blunder.  After all, the option to beating a car wreck victim misidentified as a woman needing a tumor removed was to admit they made a mistake.

We all make mistakes, and humble pie is served worldwide.  To err really is human.  The Bible says, “All have sinned (ie. fallen short of what we were supposed to do),”  and “the one who says he never sins is a liar.”  We can’t avoid sin.  The key is “What do we do when it happens?”  The Bible’s prescription… (1) Own it…(2) Turn to the one who can forgive it.  God delights in showing mercy.

Rumble In Jerusalem

After a year and a half on hiatus, “Windows” is back.  A lot of things have happened over the last eighteen months.  The kids are growing up, families getting bigger, and grandkids are now three in number with another on the way.  Life has been good. I have been anxious to get Windows up and going again.  That yen crested over the top recently because of a “Summer Blog Tour.”  A facebook group I am in is having a cyber road trip through the blogosphere.  Not wanting “Windows” to be left out, I decided it was time to pull back the drapes, throw open the shutters and let the sun shine through the windows once again. With so much going on compadres-blogsince our last blog, there were lots of things deserving a second glance.  Even now there are some great by lines published.

  • There’s the guy in Massachusetts that insist his 3 month old German Shepard puppy drove his car into the pond.  Wouldn’t you have loved being in on that conversation with his insurance agent?
  • There was a brawl between an Orlando, Florida judge and the public defender.  The judge is now considering anger management classes.  You think?
  • Want to know how to get the most fun out of a small fortune?  Some guy in San Francisco has discovered the Biblical secret.  He is hiding $100 bills in envelopes all over the city.  They are on light post, mail boxes, street car seats, everywhere.  Rice-a-Roni city is in upheaval as  190,000 people are checking the “Hidden Cash” twitter account for that day’s latest clue.

However, if one is going to resurrect something, Jerusalem would seem to be the best location.  It seems there was a little unplanned excitement with the new Pope’s recent visit.  There have been several different accounts of the disagreement between the Pope and Prime Minister Netanyahu.  Most have described as a good natured disagreement… and I am sure it was.  Some portrayed it as rather tense… which is humorous to consider.  One account, erroneously had the Pope correcting Netanyahu in the middle of a speech… that image is down right hilarious.  “Excuse me… Ben,” as the Pope tapped him from behind on the shoulder, “one note of correction here….” With such high profile world dignitaries meeting, one could imagine the wide range of subjects they could be discussing.  The plightazn-kid-screaming of the Palestinians, poverty in South America, Argentina’s relationship with Nazi fugitives from the holocaust, the unrest in the showdown looming between Israel and Iran… any of those could have reasonably stirred some difference of opinion.  The issue that brought them to the brink of blows (ok.. that was an exaggeration)… here it is….drum roll please… “Did Jesus speak Aramaic or Hebrew?” That was it.  The Prime Minister mentioned Jesus speaking Hebrew, and the Pope could not let that pass.  Stopping the Prime Minister for just a moment, the Pope informed him, “Jesus spoke Aramaic.”  The discussion followed. Ok… to their credit, it was noted as a light hearted disagreement filled with smiles and the demeanor people would expect from men of character.  Perhaps it was just a little intellectual jousting for fun?  I still wonder why one debates that point in front of the press no less. Is there some critical point of reality that I am missing there?  Or was a little OCD entering into the mental fact checking?  Just in case there are any advisors to the Pope or the Israeli government surfing the internet and coming to this post,  let me make a suggestion.  Start with the resurrection from the dead.  That’s the debate a Jew and a Christian ought to be having in Jerusalem. For the rest of us, maybe its just a good reminder of how easily minutia can jump up and take our attention hostage.  We are quite good at manufacturing drama; getting our lives all torn up over something that means nothing.  The emotional content of our lives should rise above the professional wrestler’s rants and the despair of our favorite character on a soap opera.  Some times its just spilled milk. There is only so much of life… be sure we devote it to the questions and issues that matter.

Jesus was always being asked questions that made you wonder if the people knew the magnitude of to whom they were talking.  One man approached Jesus worried about his inheritance, and his brother not giving him his fair share.  Jesus put the whole thing in perspective with a parable.  It was about a man who was rich…then got richer.  He was determined to invest it well and live out his life in leisure.  The only problem… the rest of his life was very short.  Jesus point… “Who will get what he laid up for himself.”  Not him!  That is the answer.  There will come a day when all of the treasures, riches and possessions of this world are just the rabble in the bottom of the toy box… that someone else will have to clean out.  Don’t wear yourself out to get rich… lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven; that never rust or fade.