Archive for Religion

Moving Into The New Season

What a beautiful day, here in Florida.  It’s warm, sunny and in the 70’s.  It has been some time since we have seen our typically enviable weather.  Just last week, the winter wear came out again.  The strawberry farmers had sprinklers ready as the temperature dropped back down near freezing.  And houses adorned their crowns of white frost.  This has been a particularly abnormal season of lower temperatures.  Those sustained lower temperatures have played havoc on my vegetation located in my yard. The plants usually withstand the cold in their dormant state and then perk back up.  This season, some yards resemble a nuclear holocaust as Christmas palms stand waving their dry, drooping, brown, dead fronds in the breeze.  Many people began working on reviving their yards a week or two ago, only to be hit with this recent cold snap.  Today, I attacked.  The warmth of the sun beating down, breeze gently blowing, pruning shears and tree saw in hand, I methodically moved from one planting bed to another.  Cutting back yellow shrubs turned brown, cutting the heads off of the bird of paradise with a guillotine type action, stripping fronds from the palms, and leaving a pile of debris spread across all areas of my yard.  It was time to move into the new season.  Yes, there is a chance of another cold snap but not likely one that would take out the plants.  In moving across the yard, I examined each type of plant for early growth, past growth and potential for new growth.  The formerly yellow bushes and crotons now resemble brown sticks protruding from the ground.  The queen palms with their lower fronds cut away now stand as if stretching to touch the sun.  Each will now survive, thrive or die.  In some cases, the cutting was done in an attempt to save the plant. The hardest part about pruning was now at hand. It was time to gather the dead. Standing and looking from the center of the yard now looked like a war zone.  Gathering the remains was a delicate job as Washingtonian Palm fronds are lined with a row of thorns that could outdo any shark mouth. Roebelenii Palm fronds could be used a blow darts with their needle-like piercing ends.  Just when you get them all carefully gathered and stacked, the wind blows and the debris scatters.

All of this, because we are moving into a new season.  The safe thing to do would have been to go inside and leave the plants to their natural course of action.  Some would die, some would not grow, some would not be worth having in the yard.  To reach their fullest potential for survival in this new season required of me to make a move.

Our lives are this often this way.  The season in your life is changing but you might have to trim the dead away.  You might have to cut some things back to nubs.  You might have to take something that was looking right and cut it back for it to grow to another level.  Then there is the debris field.  Cleaning up what you trimmed in your life.  Some of those friends that you cut away, may be like thorns as you try to shape up your new season.  And even when you get the debris stacked, bring a little wind of change sometimes stirs those old, decaying, growth stopping pieces back up, only to cause more work.  You could leave everything to progress on its own but will most likely see poor growth, no growth or death in areas of your life.  It will be a good place for those weeds in your life to choke the life out.  But make a move into the new season and see what begins to bloom and grow.  Move now and see results that will be lasting.  Move now and with your help, others will be motivated to begin the pruning process to advance growth, life and fulfillment in their lives.

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Traffic Report

The kids that I carpool to school in the morning love the listening material on my radio.  I bounce between 3 stations so I can hear the traffic report for my 1 hour drive to come.  I listen intently and visualize where each incident is located.  Will it delay my finely timed drive?  Should I plan to travel an alternate route?  Many times I have taken another route and bypassed the headache of being stopped in traffic.  I heard the warning and took action.

I sometimes turn the radio completely off.  The silence is refreshing.  Taking the journey as it lays out just ahead of me until the glow of little red lights begin lighting up on the backs of vehicles ahead.  There we sit and poke along, awaiting our chance to cast a long gaze at the twisted wreckage of the one who has delayed the commute.

Do you have your radio on to the traffic report?  Maybe you are radio silent, only to express your outrage at being delayed. Are you tuned in to what is going on in the world around you?  There is a delay coming for those that don’t or can’t hear.  Hear what you are clearly being warned of.  Listen to the report and take action.

This traffic report brought to you by…..

Testing

I recently commented in an email that after the statement that I made, I would now be tested.  Thinking more on that word “Tested,” caused me to realize that I am already responding to that test to come.  When I taught school, the test would be to see how everyone understood what we had already been covering.  We most likely would have had 2 -3 quizzes along the way and quite a few daily assignments.  All of those assignments had bits and pieces of what the test would contain.  So when your test comes, realize that you were already given pieces of it along the way.  How did you respond to those pieces?  Your Test will quite often have the same results unless you cram.  Look for those pieces today.  Respond to everything in the right way now and when the Test comes, you’ll do just fine.

Grooves

Rabbit trails, as Pastor Scott Thomas calls them.  I find that my mind takes me down these rabbit trails from a main point that I have just heard, seen, felt or experienced.  I believe that God orchestrates most of these hmmm moments.  The latest came as Pastor Scott was concluding his message on “Hijacked Hearts.” He started relating about a story that he had watched about a craftsman building a boat.  At the point that the boat seamed perfect, the craftsman began rough sanding (this is where I jumped on the trail and took off while hearing the rest of the story) so as to hold the finish that was to be applied.

Now, my rabbit trails aren’t always complete pictures from beginning to end but just enough to make the hmmm.  Pastor Scott also mentioned, “grooves” (I think, like scars on your life) in this segment of the message.  Grooves came to mind.  I also thought about scrapes and holes in the walls at the house.  Neither grooves or small holes in the walls are to be there.  They occurred due to unwelcome events occurring in our life.  A door stop bends too far and the door knob puts an indention, a nail pops through the sheetrock, a misplaced foot on the stairs puts a knee into the corner, exposing the metal.  Most of these occurrences are relatively easy to fix with some spackle and paint.  Left to it’s own progression, the hole will become larger as the door continues to make contact at that point.  The nail pop will be unsightly.  The sheetrock will continue to fall away, exposing more of the metal, corner piece.  Your walls may have other life stories.  The scrape of a chair against a wall, numerous nail holes where a picture was to hang, or even the result of rage.  Left unchecked, these occurrences will be constant reminders of what took place to create it.

Driving down the road I have often noticed gouges or grooves in the blacktop covered roadway.  How did they get there?  The road was fine the day before and now you can follow a groove as it crosses one lane, to another, disappearing as it leaves the roadway.  I can only imagine what could have left such an impression on the road.  Maybe a vehicle pulling a trailer or boat hit a bump, causing the trailer to bounce from the hitch only to skid to a stop but leaving evidence of the occurrence.  Maybe a family driving  to the beach had a tire blow, leaving only a rim to guide them to the safety of the roadside but gouging into the blacktop along the way.  I have driven by many accidents that have damaged the roadway.  These grooves in the roadway, they cause an imbalance to other drivers as they attempt to navigate the roadways.  My first car was a 69 Barracuda.  It had air shocks, glass pack mufflers, and wide tires on the back.  Those wide tires on the back would hit those grooves in the roadway and cause me to drive defensively as it shifted back and forth on the road.  Grooves made by something or someone caused my travels to be more difficult.  Grooves left to their own will become larger.  Pieces of blacktop will chip away from these miniature canyons as they cut through to the bedrock and eventually turning into a pothole.  The groove needs to be repaired.  Some grooves are repaired by simply putting fresh blacktop in and packing it down (one of my many jobs that I have had.)  Other times, a repair calls for many machines, workers,aggravated drivers, and money.  The good blacktop as well as the groove, are ground away as the machine cuts the roadway down sending chunks and pieces up a conveyor and into a truck.  A particular liquid is put down on the fresh cuts to allow for new blacktop to adhere to the old surface of the past.  A new layer of blacktop is added and pressed down to form a brand new surface.

What of the people who know the whole story of the groove?  What impression has it made on their lives?  Were they set back financially?  Did the inconvenience and delay to their day linger and have a chain reaction to their week?  Does the groove represent tragedy?

What has happened in your life to leave a groove on your heart, your mind, your body, your spirit?  Do you continue to see the groove everyday?  Did it create a financial tidal wave in your life?  Does it represent tragedy in your life?  How long will you leave it in disrepair?  Has it actually become a trophy piece to why your road isn’t smooth?  Fix it!  Your groove may be what throws someone else off course as they navigate the same path where challenges came into your life.  Fix it!  How?  The only way is through Jesus.  He will fill those cracks, repair the grooves, create a brand new surface.  In some cases, a large section may need to be removed in order to properly repair the groove that winds across the many lanes of your life.  Start the repair now, before the groove gets larger and turns into a pothole, crumbling all around.

Grooves.

Who’s Jersey Are You Wearing

The outrage in Tampa the last few days has been the release of Derrick Brooks from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Football team.  The team has had similar reactions in the past as fan favorites were injured, retired, released in the likes of the A train Mike Allstot and John Lynch.  Where did our heroes go and why?  This upheaval has happened many times over in the past and will continue many more times in the future.

While growing up, I recall one of the most crazy changes in sports history.  The all-time greatest hockey player, Wayne Gretzky had been traded from the Edmonton Oilers to the LA Kings.  How could they?  He was such an important and vital part of that team.  I had all things Gretzky, I collected all things Gretzky and now he was not an Oiler.  I had a jersey with his name on it.  I have a Bucs jersey with Lynch on it.  Now what? Longoria gone from the Rays, or Pujols gone from the Cardinals?

I know a hero who won’t change teams.  He will not let us down.  He will not get injured. He will not quit.  He will not retire.  I think the name on my jersey will be: JESUS

A Fan

– Has all of team gear to wear, in their house, on their car, as their email name

– They will take time out of their weekend to spend several hours watching their team

– Some will travel great distances (weekly) to watch their team in person

– Some will shave their head, put team colors on their face

– At times they will brave the elements from heat, rain, snow, cold

– They will stand in line to be first to buy tickets to the event

– They will arrive several hours before the event to fellowship with other fans at tail gate parties

– If they can't get to the game, they gather at houses to cheer on the team

– Even shy, quiet people will raise their hands for a touchdown, slap high-fives with others around

– A whole section of the news is to report on the teams

– Newspapers report how teams are doing and do interviews with players and coaches

– People talk about the teams at work


What if we were of Fan of Jesus?

What if we applied that to church?

LOST

My favorite TV show? Yep, LOST. If you haven’t ever watched, you should. To catch up, check out LOST in 8:15 in iTunes(free)

My state of fandom? I would say that I am a LOSTian. You know, a follower of LOST. I don’t miss an episode. I participate in some bantering on theories and “did you sees”. I would say that I am in the 3rd state of 4 in my connection with LOST.

There is level 1 – Those that don’t watch and don’t care. They follow their own programs that they try to engage you with.

There is level 2 – those that watch when they can. They may watch the season opener and finale.

Level 3 – You don’t miss an episode. You participate in discussions on what you think is going on. You may have a Tshirt as an outward show of your commitment.

Level 4 – The radical – They don’t miss an episode, they TiVo and watch it again – in slow motion while sitting on their chair upside down, looking for special signs, messages etc. They own all (up to last weeks episode) episodes on DVD or downloads. They have calendars, screensaver, Tshirts, magazines and yes, the action figures.

I really want to be a level 4 LOSTian but I just can’t find the time. I have to work, and there are those other shows that I frequent. LOST may cause you to think to hard. You might have to defend your beliefs and theories if you really commit to it and others find out.

I’m not really critical of anyones viewing patterns of my favorite show. I thought it kind of was like Christians so I went with it.

Level 1 – Don’t believe in Jesus
Level 2 – A follower of Christ on Christmas and Easter, go to church when they can if it doesn’t interfere
Level 3 – Go to church every service, read the Bible, follow the teaching of Christ.
then there is level 4, the radical (some might say) but should be the norm for a Christian. You can’t get enough. You own several translations of the Bible. You dig in the Word and look for those choice little nuggets. The Bible, like LOST is full of layers. They say that some rabbis devote their entire life to researching the meaning of Genesis 1:1. One verse – their entire life. You probably have Christian Tshirts, jewelry. You might even have the kid costume of King David from your local Christian Bookstore. Oh to stay on this level. The highest form of worship in Judaism? The study of the Torah (1st five books of the Bible). I want to worship.

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Blinded by the Light

I’ve had and have all kinds of thoughts running but haven’t seemed to find the time to write. thought I would jot one down for the time being.

The road as I drive it and used to drive at very early hours in the morning, is always the only thing lit in the middle of the night. I remember, while in college, a group of us headed to the nearby city. Normally, the drive is done on the interstate, not this time. We zipped down back roads as they snaked along side rivers of dark water lit only by the moonlight. My vehicle was probably 2nd in a line of 6. Driver number 1 cut his headlights off as we continued to drive. I followed suit as did the others behind. Now we were driving on moonlit roads.
I always have liked to look at the stars. Take a clear night in any location that lacks surrounding light and the heavens explode with patterns of twinkling light (stars twinkle, planets don’t.) As a kid we used to have a crowd sitting outside in reclining lawn chairs as we waited to see the streak of a meteor in what was to be hours of zipping lights criss crossing the back lit black palette of the night sky.
In the city (take Las Vegas for instance), your drive is a constant distraction. Lights flash and dazzle for your attention. They almost light up in a rhythmic pulse that seems to say “look at me”. The road seems to disappear to the mind and eye. The signals that are meant for direction with their red, yellow, and green fade into a sea of colors.
Not only the horizontal but the vertical.
After reading one of my books recently, I was led on another thought process. This light also blocks the heavenly light, the glory of the heavens. So many lights, so many distractions, its blinding. You can’t see the path and you can’t see the glory. What was meant to help, now hurts.
Get clear of the lights and be awed by His glory.

2nd Knight

Another thought on the Knight with his shiny or dinged up armour.
Chafing!
I once was a part of a marathon relay when in college. I the runner, ran at various points on the relay to accumulate a total that seems to grow as I tell the story. It was somewhere between 30-40 of the 125 miles. It may have been more that I logged but would have to look back to past document. Anyway – after finishing the run, the running shorts that I wore had rubbed my legs so much that it tore through the skin. It was some time before I could walk unlike a person who had ridden a horse for some time.
Now our knight –
I would think that a knight would wear his armour before going to battle. It would be a terrible time trying to do battle while walking like a cowboy. The chafing could prevent him from doing battle undistracted.
Do battle with the enemy.
Before battle, try the armour on, wear it, get use to it, spar with someone, take some hits – You’ll be better off when the real battle looks you in the eye.

Knock Knock

As a break off of a podcast that I recently listened to from Rob Bell, I explore further.
Sharla’s business with Creative Memories is exciting in many ways. One of the odd but exciting parts of the business is that we get boxes delivered to us on many ocassions. I enjoy the sound of a truck stopping out in front of the house, a knock on the door, a delivery of lots of boxes. We have even taken a picture of the bountiful bunch of boxes. Used to, the brown truck would stop and wait for an answer, now we get the rumble of the truck, a knock and a truck taking off.
It seems like most of us in our response to Matthew 7:8

8For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

The last part talking about knockething – how long do you have to knock? Is it knock, door opens, or is it knock, knock…..knock,knock.

When you knock on someone’s door, how long do you wait? What if you know that they are there? Do you knock, ring the bell, call their name, look in the window, call on the phone? We usually are persistant in our knocking and getting the door answered.

When it comes to knocking on God’s door, how long do you wait? Knock, oh well no answer. How long do you wait? You know He’s there, why not the persistence that we have at a friends house.

What if it is raining, snowing, cold, hot on the outside of the door? Are you more apt to leave quickly?

He said that He would answer. Stick it out. He’s on the way to the door. He’s excited to see you. Many times He gets to the door only to hear the sound of you speeding away.

Knock, Knock

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