Friday, July 29, 2011

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers sang a song called "The Waiting" in which the title of this blog is a line in the song.
The Chorus of the song:
The waiting is the hardest part
Everyday you see one more card
You take it on faith
You take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest part.
(words by Tom Petty)

This speaks to me in so many ways. Right now I feel like God is having me wait until all the pieces of the puzzle are ready to be assembled. At times it is frustrating for me. I have such a desire to reach out now to people all over, yet here I sit writing blogs several times a week.
Then today happens. Right before Easter, a lady Jehovah's Witness came up to me and when she introduced herself, I introduced me. She seemed taken back only for a minute at the announcement of Reverend, but she composed herself and we briefly talked, with me telling her about Upside Down Christianity. She gave me her "Watchtower" magazine, I gave her my business card with my blog URL and she left. File 13 on the mag and I didn't think anymore of it. (i was going out of town that day for the weekend and had too many other things on my mind. I especially didn't have a lot of time to talk.)
Fast forward to today.
She came back today with another man. Bibles in hand, they are ready for battle. She said she had thought of me often and wanted to come back and talk to me. (God is giving me one more chance to witness to her? Maybe? Since I was too busy last time? Sorry God, I won't do that again!)
So they are quoting scriptures, and I'm answering them right back from memory, even backing up my own beliefs with my own scriptures from Micah, Revelation, Joshua (not everyday scriptures that you carry around in your head.)
Years ago i would have had to shut the door on them to get some peace. (one time I scared a bunch of them to death (unintentionally), another story, another time, although I am almost dying to tell it right now.) This time after about 30 minutes, they said they had to go, and said goodbye and left. But for 30 minutes I got to witness to her.
So I got to thinking. If I was at another town, in another church, I would have missed today's opportunity. What she does with the info that I gave her I am not sure. Will she remember it? Will she shrug it off? I pray not. But it lightened my load a bit to know that while I wait on where God will send me next, He is still able to use me here where I am.
So Tom, here is my breakdown of your song:
The waiting is the hardest part
Yep, it's a booger when you have to learn patience while God prepares you and others for where you're going next.
Everyday you see one more card
They say you live with what cards you're dealt in life. Frankly, each hand keeps getting better and better.
You take it on faith
Twofold: My faith is what drives me to do the ministry, and my faith in God will supply all I need to have the ministry that He has planned for me
You take it to the heart
I have treasured your promise in my heart so that I may not sin against you. Psalm 119:11 NASB
The waiting is the hardest part.
Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD. Psalm 27:14 KJV
May God bless you in your waiting.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A new makeover for the body and the house

The new carpet and padding is installed. The guys who came out to put the carpet in were great, and they completed their job in only a few hours. What was once just barren plywood and nails with tack strips (those things really hurt when you step on them! especially in bare feet!) is now carpet that runs "wall to wall" in both bedrooms.
The daunting task now before me was to put the furniture back in place before I start hauling boxes back in to be unpacked (honey, do we really need all this clutter? lol) So I grab the hand truck and start moving pieces back to their places one at a time. For the most part, I remember where everything goes. But then the worst of it happens.
Remember the monstrosity of a computer desk that I talked about? Well, I got the pieces back into the room and near where they were to be assembled. Then, I forgot how it came apart. Now, mind you, it is only two pieces. But they have all of these interlocking pieces (pins and these funny little round things) that have to fit just right before it will go back together, and I can't remember exactly how to do it so that it will fit like it originally was. Well, with the removal of two pins that weren't really doing anything (I hope) I managed to get the desk back together and everything tightened back down.
Now, I know what you're thinking. What has this got to do with anything religious? Well, in Revelations chapters 21 and 22 it talks about God sending down a new heaven and earth after the old earth has been obliterated. And I got to thinking, sometimes it seems like it would be the easiest thing. Just bulldoze the house and start over. Have a modular dropped in, and new furniture delivered and setup and start anew. No sweat, no back breaking lifting (thank goodness for these cool furniture pads I used from the shopping channel) and beautiful things to enjoy.
But God isn't like that. We can't just start over when we want. We can redo material things, but we can't relive our existence here on earth. We can spruce up our houses with new carpet and paint, repaint/repair our old cars, but underneath it is going to be the same thing that it was before.
Some people don't understand how saved people (or church people as some people use the term - argh, that one drives me crazy) can be "made new in Christ" yet still not be perfect. It's because it is the same body that you were born with. The same brain that you were born with. Everything that caused you to sin is still there. But you are given a new carpet without any stains, and a fresh coat of paint so that you will look different to the world. What you choose to do with it will be up to you. And what you now bring into your life will make a difference as to how clean it stays.
Will you walk on it with the same things that stained the previous carpet (alcohol, drugs, adultery, lies, etc.) and try to get God to vacuum it up for you the next time you are in the presence of others that you want to impress? Why should you carelessly trample what God has given you anew and expect Him to clean up your mess every time you need it?
Start today to take care of what He has given you, both materially, spiritually and physically. People who get a transplant are particularly careful to take care of their new body part. So we should do the same with our mind, spirit and our body.
So you've never gotten a new coat of paint or new carpeting in your life? Admit that you have stained your inner carpet and dinged the walls of your body beyond repair. Ask God now to forgive you of your wrong doings. Believe that Jesus came down from Heaven and lived a blameless life as stated in the bible. That He died for you, His blood staining the ground ( Those stains are the only ones we should ever need. ) as He hung on the cross, and then He arose from the grave and went back to Heaven to be with His Father. Then you can have the new start, the fresh carpet, the new paint job (people will notice how much brighter and different you look).
For the rest of you who got your new carpet and paint job some time ago. Get out the vacuum cleaner and address those areas that need cleaning. Pull out the paint brushes and touch up the areas that have been scarred on you and the ones around you.
Then, enjoy what you once had before you, a beautiful and fresh home (your body/life).
Now, if you will excuse me, I have to remember where the rest of this stuff goes!
Thanks, God bless, and have a great day!

Monday, July 25, 2011

I Love To Eat!

I love to eat. I am what most people would call a "meat and potato" kind of man. So when I found this list that I am including today, I couldn't help but chuckle. It is sad when we wind up laughing because of people not doing what used to be common not too many decades ago. I hope people will stop giving excuses, start getting out of bed on Sunday morning for more than going to the lake or nursing hangovers, and start attending a local church of their choice. Thanks for stopping by, and may God bless.
Top Ten Excuses For Avoiding Church Services

Many people have an excuse for not attending church services each week.
If you were to take those excuses and apply them to other things we do (for example -- eating), those excuses might look like this:

10. I was forced to eat as a child.

9. People who eat all the time are hypocrites; they aren't really hungry.

8. There are so many different kinds of food, I can't decide what to eat.

7. I used to eat, but I got bored and stopped.

6. I only eat on special occasions, like Christmas and Easter.

5. None of my friends will eat with me.

4. I'll start eating when I get older.

3. I don't really have time to eat.

2. I don't believe that eating does anybody any good. It's just a crutch.

and the # 1 excuse for not eating.......

1. Restaurants and grocery stores are only after your money.

Now that is something to think about!

Friday, July 22, 2011

There are two grave sides to every story

We are in the middle of replacing the carpet in two of our bedrooms. (one reason I haven't had time to blog as much as I would like.) Well, a local warehouse store in Easley had the carpet we liked, and a special on installing if we had everything empty and ready, it was only 37 bucks for as many rooms as we wanted for the install. Great Price!
Just one thing, we have to empty the rooms of furniture (where do you put the furniture from two rooms when you have a house full of furniture?) We finally decided on the garage and filled it up with boxes of stuff that we packed and the furniture from the bedrooms.
Well, one bedroom, one office (that could be a bedroom.) Have you ever seen those monstrosities that are called computer desks that come in an L-shape and takes all day to assemble? Well, It had to be disassembled and moved as well. Oh boy, that was fun.
So we get this great idea to paint the master bedroom to match the master bath, since the carpet was out and it would be easier. Well, a small project has turned into a big one. (story for another day)
But, I digress.
I needed to haul the carpet away once we pulled it up. No truck. And a convertible with the top down and carpet sticking up everywhere wasn't gonna do the trick either.
So, I commandeered a truck and we went in search of the place to dump the carpet. I thought I remembered how to get to the one that Easley residents are supposed to use. My stepson had shown me how to get there by turning up the side of a graveyard and following the road out through several intersections.
So we turn beside the graveyard and start out. Well, we go for a few miles and things do not look too familiar. Then we go a few more miles and they really don't look too familiar. We turn around and start back the way we had come.
Then I have a brainstorm. Let's get back on Hwy 93 and watch for the signs. Well, we got back to the graveyard and guess what? There was the sign for the recycle center. But it is on the other side of the graveyard, and it goes in a different direction (westerly instead of north, i think). So we start out in the direction of the sign and a few miles down the road, we are fortunate enough to come to our destination.
Coming back I recognize the name of a road that is closer, and we turn down it, not having to backtrack to the graveyard. (maybe next time I go by a graveyard I will be lying in a casket and i won't have to look. those places are too weird.)
Christianity is like my journey today. We start out on the journey to know God, then someone shows us a way to get directly to our destination, but for some reason we get sidetracked. (Baptists call this backsliding, I think.) Then when we get back on track and we want to head to the same destination (Heaven), we think we know the way and try to find it ourselves. But we wind up in the wilderness (at least most of us didn't spend 40 years there like Moses and all those people). We start to backtrack, and when we decide to look for a sign (the Bible) and we find it, and read it, then we can begin our journey in earnest.
I pray that you will take the time in the coming days and read your bible. Don't have one? Email me. Do have one? Open it up. Can't understand a word it says? Go to a Christian book store and find one that you can read. NIV translation is one that some people find easier to understand. (I know, some of you are KJV all the way. Remember, it was translated hundreds and hundreds of years after the original.) Or you can visit and you can pull up many versions of the bible for free.
The main thing is read. Then once you do, follow the instructions. Still need help? Find a church where you can worship (and where they actually worship, not just go through the motions like most churches these days). Get involved, ask questions, and hopefully learn from the sermons and classes that you will attend.
May God bless you on your journey!

Monday, July 18, 2011

25 Lines to Make You Smile

Here is a preview of the basis of my next book. (I hope you bought the last one). I thought that on a Monday, we could all use a few good laughs, (and a few smiles to brighten your day!)

25 Lines to Make You Smile
1.  My husband and I divorced over religious differences.  He thought he was God and I didn't.
2.  I don't suffer from insanity -- I enjoy every minute of it!
3.  I used to have a handle on life, but it broke.
4.  Don't take life too seriously -- no one gets out alive.
5.  You're just jealous because the voices only talk to me.
6.  Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder.
7.  Earth is the insane asylum for the universe.
8.  I'm not a compete idiot -- some parts are missing!
9.  Out of my mind.  Back in five minutes.
10.  God must love stupid people -- He made so many!
11.  The gene pool could use a little chlorine.
12.  Consciousness:  that annoying time between naps.
13.  Ever stop to think, and forget to start again?
14.  Being "over the hill" is much better than being under it.
15.  Wrinkled was not one of the things I wanted to be when I grew up.
16.  Procrastinate now!
17.  I have a degree in Liberal Arts -- do you want fries with that?
18.  A hangover is the wrath of grapes.
19.  A journey of a thousand miles begins with a cash advance.
20.  Stupidity is not a handicap.  Park elsewhere!
21.  He who dies with the most toys is nonetheless dead.
22.  A picture is worth a thousand words, but it uses up three thousand times the memory.
23.  Ham and eggs -- a day's work for a chicken, a lifetime commitment for a pig.
24.  The trouble with life is there's no background music.
25.  I smile because I don't know what the heck is going on.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Counseling Southern Style

Grumps and Bubba are quietly sitting in a boat fishing, chewing tobacco and drinking beer when suddenly Bubba says, "I think I'm gonna divorce my wife - she ain't spoke to me in over 2 months."

spits, sips his beer and says, "Better think it over - - - - women like that are hard to find.”

One thing I have always loved, and that is fishing. Bass fishing, Crappie (Ain't March a wonderful month) fishing and late night summers waiting on a big cat to strike can be some of the best times a person can have.
One thing I've noticed while being out on the lakes. Not many women fish. The lake is full of guys and their 20K dollar boats, but very few times do I ever see a woman on the lake. When I do, it is usually with their hubby/bf, and they are not always enthused.
Now before you go saying anything, yes, there are women fisherpersons (p. c. term i think). But you are outnumbered.
So it is not unusual for two guys to be sitting in a boat and chatting about what is happening in their lives.
So my question to you is: How can guys sit together and talk about things that are on their minds, yet they won't take the time to even say more than a hello to their wives? Somehow their buddy becomes a sounding board for them, although what they are saying is probably sounding bored to them.
Guys, take the time to talk to your spouse. And women, even if you're not that interested in their hobbies, try to have some. Ask how their trip was. What did they catch (although you probably won't know what they are talking about, or the great importance thereof).
If you start talking now, hopefully you'll avoid having to talk to a pastor or counselor later, when it may be too late and too much damage done.
Silence is not always golden. Sometimes it is the most cruelest thing on this planet. Break the silence now, you'll be thankful later.
Thank you and have a God blessed day.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

If all you hear is poop ...

A daughter was sitting beside her mom and talking to her, but she couldn’t get her mom to respond to her questions. She kept telling her mom to turn her hearing aid up, but still no response. Finally, in exasperation, she reached over to her mom’s ear to turn the hearing aid up herself. When she put her finger to her mom’s ear, she saw a white capsule and pulled it out.
“Mom, is this your suppository?” the daughter asked.
“Why yes, I think it is.”
“Oh no, I think I know where the hearing aid is then!” the daughter exclaimed.

Sorry for the subject of the joke, but I wanted to use it to prove a point.
As humans, we are given many things that we need to use on a job. A drafter gets a drafting table and writing instruments. A football player gets pads, helmet, and cleated shoes. A police officer gets for the minimum a pad for tickets, uniform, badge and weapon.
The drafter sits at the table and uses the pencils, protractors and other curved instruments to create a drawing of whatever needs to be built. A football player puts on the articles of clothing that will keep him safe and help him do his job more efficiently. A police officer wears the uniform and puts a badge on it, while using the ticket pad and weapon to perform his tasks.
What would happen if the officer was a female and put the badge in her hair like a hairbow, etched the information onto her gun, gave it to the speeder, and beat the poor sap with the ticket pad if he gave her any trouble? I don’t think she would be able to do the job for very long, if at all.
However, you say she had everything that she needed to do her job, and she had them with her.
I’m not disputing that. I am saying that she didn’t use what she had been given properly, thus she wasn’t accomplishing anything.
Just like the little old lady in the joke at the beginning. Unless she had “poop for brains” and had the ability to talk out of the wrong end, as the old sayings go, she wasn’t going to accomplish anything either, although she had the tools to accomplish each task at each end.
We have to use what we’ve been given, and we have to USE them to begin with. Then we have to use them properly, as they were meant to be used.
If you’ve been given the “gift of gab,” use it to teach a group in a bible study or Sunday school class instead of gossiping about people and things that you shouldn’t even be mentioning.
Guys, if you are constantly trying to turn around in your pew/seat in church to see everything that is going on, try being an usher and you can keep up with what is happening and still help someone at the same time.
Ladies, if you are constantly “tsk-tsking” about how certain women have no skills in applying their makeup, and you have been taught how to properly do it, have a class during the week sometime and help them learn how to properly apply all of the items that are commonly used.
In other words, get the tools out of the wrong places and use them where something can be accomplished. Instead of being the problem, start helping others who are having problems or need help. Then you can get things accomplished that would only wind up in a bigger mess otherwise.

Monday, July 11, 2011

(14) People wonder when Jesus fed the 5,000 whether the two fish were bass or catfish.

(14) People wonder when Jesus fed the 5,000 whether the two
fish were bass or catfish.

Why do we get so focused on specifics? Too many people get too nit picky in things and they forget the most important thing: Jesus FED 5000 People with not really enough food to feed Him and the twelve disciples, even if things had been severely rationed.
I think that one thing that drags us down is the thought of miracles happening. We just can’t imagine how that happens. WAKE UP! That is why they call them MIRACLES!!!! DUH!
Let’s focus on what God WILL do for us, instead of how we can help make it happen. When God tells you to do something, do it. Even if you don’t think it is enough. Do it. Then trust Him to finish the job and make the results happen.
Trust in something that you can't see or touch is hard. We live in a visual world, unless you are blind or severely visually impaired. In that case, I understand what you’re going through. My mom was blind also for the last 12 years of her life. But her belief that I would not let her fall down the stairs, off the curb or anywhere else even though she couldn’t see me helped her to conquer her fears about going out of the house.
Why can’t we do the same with God? Try Him. Believe in Him. (make sure you truly believe in Him, don’t act like Satan and only tempt Him). Step out and trust God to keep you safe, guide you and cause your life to prosper in many ways, not only materially buy spiritually.
Then the bass and catfish won’t matter. The feast before you will be scrumptious!
Come back Wednesday and find out what a suppository and a hearing aid have to do with each other!

Friday, July 8, 2011

(13) High notes on the organ set dogs in the parking lot to howling.

(13) High notes on the organ set dogs in the parking lot to howling.

Luke 19: 37-40
37 When he (Jesus) came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:
 38 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”[b]
   “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
 39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
   40 “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
I remember when “pet rocks” were the latest trend. Everyone had to have one. Some painted them, put clothes on them, hung signs around them and too many other crazy things to mention. The one thing that I liked about the rock as a pet was it didn’t poop or pee on the floor. It never barked incessantly while I was watching TV or talking on the phone. If it had “cried out,” it probably would have been my poop that needed to be cleaned up.
The Psalms reveals that all God's creation have contact with God (Psalm 93). All God's creatures praise Him (Psalm 145:10). It is only mankind who needs forgiving and saving and teaching as to how to worship (Psalm 36 & 51), the animal kingdom worships God continually and naturally.
"Praise Him, hills and mountains, fruit trees and forests; all animals, tame and wild, reptiles and birds." Psalm 148:9, 10.
So I ask you, next time the dogs start to howl outside the church doors, are you going to let them do the worshipping for you? I have talked in previous blogs about our role in worship. Let’s start worshipping now, before the dogs start to drown us out and our voices of praise aren’t heard at all.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

(11) There is a special fund-raiser for a new septic tank.

(11) There is a special fund-raiser for a new septic tank.

In many churches I think the septic tank has stopped up, for you’ll never find more poop (figuratively) in some septic tanks than what is floating about the congregation. But I’m not going to dwell on that subject for the moment.
Instead I want to talk about why the church is having a need for a special fund-raiser for a new septic system.
Too many times we live day to day on what we receive for an income. We make no effort to save anything for “a rainy day.” We choose to spend too much on too many things that we don’t have to have. Many people will argue that they have to have the many things. After going through a divorce, I had to redirect my finances, so I cut out a lot of things. I ate out less. I turned the cable tv off. I went back to “dial-up” for my internet – ¼ of the price of broadband and it taught me patience. We are a society of “I want it now!” and that has hurt us in many ways. Why don’t we want God with that much urgency? If only we did.
Two other problems arise from the above situation.
(1) Tithing is not an option. It is required. You say you don’t make much money. Then 10 percent won’t be a big sum to give! Sit at home for one weekend a month and spend time with the family watching TV, movies, playing board games. A family of four can spend $100 easily on a night of dining out and movies in the US. If you find yourself indulging in this more than once a month, consider giving it up and giving that $100 to the church. If you already tithe, this is your “offering.”
(2) Churches get in an “I’m scared to spend money” situation, especially in a tough economy. Finance committees worry about the money coming in from tithing to pay expenses, let alone repairs. So if they do have any extra, they won’t spend it. I agree that some should be kept back for emergencies, but if you truly trust God, don’t hoard years of expenses away in the bank. Be reasonable. God gave you all of that excess that you refuse to let go of now, don’t you think He can give you that much and even more when you need it again. Be smart, don’t be stupid with His money. Trust in God to provide what you need now, use what He has already given you, and make sure that you aren’t asking God for something while you aren’t giving to Him either.

Monday, July 4, 2011

God is Great! So is America!

French writer Alexis de Tocqueville, after visiting America in 1831, said, "I sought for the greatness of the United States in her commodious harbors, her ample rivers, her fertile fields, and boundless forests--and it was not there. I sought for it in her rich mines, her vast world commerce, her public school system, and in her institutions of higher learning--and it was not there. I looked for it in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution--and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great!"

Friday, July 1, 2011

(10) Baptism is referred to as "branding."

(10) Baptism is referred to as "branding."
(12) Finding and returning lost sheep is not just a parable.

I’ve never worked on a farm or ranch, but as I understand it, you “brand” your livestock with whatever emblem is custom to you so that everyone will know that the particular animal belongs to you. That way if it wanders off of your property, the person who finds it can return it to its rightful owner.
Unfortunately, there are also people who wish to steal what isn’t theirs and keep it for themselves. As long as they need to property to stay alive, they always run the risk of someone finding out that the item isn’t theirs. When they are finished with the item, they dispose of it where no one can discover their secret. For an animal, a thief could simply “skin” the critter and the branding would be gone, plus they could provide themselves with food for a short period.
Satan is like this thief. I mentioned in an earlier blog about people who are “backslid.” These are Christians who for whatever reason let themselves be used by Satan for his purposes, which is to keep them from doing anything that might glorify God. He’ll use them to get others to trip and stumble also. But then when they are “used up,” he will toss them away, possibly “skinning” them, i.e. fatal effects from unsafe sex with multiple partners, drug use, alcoholism. He delights in watching them curse God and walk away as their lives diminish and they soon perish. Then he moves on to the next victim that he can find.
Ranchers often use fences and dogs to protect their livestock. The herd will hide behind the protecting animal in an attempt to hopefully stay safe. We as Christians need to do the same. We need to put God before us and let Him fight for us. He is all powerful, all knowing and He is capable of a lot more than what we are. We shouldn’t run in front of God exclaiming, “I can fight my own battles!” We usually wind up quite wounded and retreating hopefully instead of being devoured.
So if you are “branded” as a Christian, let your Shepherd do His job. It doesn’t mean that you won’t have battles or problems. But you will have someone who can help you succeed and defeat the enemy of the situation!
In celebration of Independence Day which is celebrated in the US on July the 4th of each year, Monday's blog will be on a related subject. Number 11 in this series will continue on the 6th of July.