Archive for April, 2010

“NATIONAL NEWS BULLETIN”

April 30, 2010

IGNORING GOD LEADS TO A DOWNWARD SPIRAl.

But God’s angry displeasure erupts as acts of human mistrust and wrongdoing and lying accumulate, as people try to put a shroud over truth.  But the basic reality of God is plain enough.  Open your eyes and there it is!  By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see:  eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being.  So nobody has a good excuse.  What happened was this:  People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn’t treat him like God, refusing to worship him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives.  They pretended to know it all, but were illiterate regarding life.  They traded the glory of God who holds the whole world in his hands for cheap figurines you can buy at any roadside stand.

So God said, in effect, “If that’s what you want, that’s what you get.”  It wasn’t long before they were living in a pigpen, smeared with filth, filthy inside and out.  And all this because they traded the true God for a fake god, and worshiped the god they made instead of the God who made them–the God we bless, the God who blesses us.  Oh, yes!

Worse followed.  Refusing to know God, they soon didn’t know how to be human either–women didn’t know how to be women, men didn’t know how to be men.  Sexually confused, they abused and defiled one another, women with women, men with men–all lust, no love.  And then they paid for it, oh, how they paid for it–emptied of God and love, godless and loveless wretches.

Since they didn’t bother to acknowledge God, God quit bothering them and let them run loose.  And then all hell broke loose:  rampant evil, grabbing and grasping, vicious backstabbing.  They made life hell on earth with their envy, wanton killing, bickering, and cheating.  Look at them:  mean-spirited, venomous, fork-tongued God-bashers.  Bullies, swaggerers, insufferable windbags!  They keep inventing new ways of wrecking lives.  They ditch their parents when they get in the way.  Stupid, slimy, cruel, coldblooded.  And it’s not as if they don’t know better.  They know perfectly well they’re spitting in God’s face.  And they don’t care–worse, they hand out prizes to those who do the worst things best!

This news bulletin could appear daily in any newspaper across the United States.  This was taken from THE MESSAGE in the Book of Romans, Chapter 1.  It was written by Paul in 57 A.D., but is so true in 2010 A.D. concerning the conditions across the United States.  Has God’s anger erupted against our nation?  Have we ignored the intent of our Constitution when this nation was formed “Under God?”  Are we content to live in a pigpen?

When I studied typing in high school, our warmup exercise was typing:  “Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of our country.”  I don’t know whether that sentence is used in schools today, but my best guess is NO.  It is time for the people to take back this nation and seek God’s favor.  I believe God is just waiting for us to humble ourselves and on bending knees ask for His help.  Will you join me as a prayer warrior for this nation?

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“MY FIRST CAR”

April 29, 2010

The picture above is of a 1947 Mercury Club Coupe.  This looks just like the first car I purchased.  I had been working for the local theater for a few years and my senior year at high school I was promoted to manager.  I opened the theater on my lunch hour, went back during study hall to check on things, and then worked after school until about mid-nite when it closed.  This kept me pretty busy with school, band activities, etc.  After closing the theater each night, I would walk home–three miles.  No, this is not a story about walking to school in the snow.

I was sixteen when my senior year began and of course thought I knew everything and was looking forward to graduating and tackling the world.  I came to the conclusion that buying a car was much better than walking.  It also gave me a little extra time for sleeping.  Cars then were a lot different.  Mine had no air-conditioning or power equipment.  When you opened the hood, you could see past the engine all the way to the ground.  It did have a radio and a button on the floor to change radio stations–how clever can you get.  I remember a lot of things about my Mercury.  It had windshield wipers that worked on a vacuum line from the engine–not electrical.  They worked fine until you accelerated.  Then they stalled.  I was a little scary when you were in a hard rain–like, hey!–I can’t see anything.

As we grow up, we set goals.  My mother had visited with me when I was in the 6th grade about different professions.  I decided then that I wanted to be a Certified Public Accountant.  After setting goals, sometimes our decisions hamper achieving those goals.  When graduation time came, I had scholarships to any college I chose.  But, in my wisdom along with the obligation of making a living and paying for my car, I put off college until later.  Later never came.  I transferred to Orange, Texas and later to Longview, Texas with the theaters.  A few years later I volunteered for the draft and spent two years in the army.

After serving in the army for a couple of years, I moved to Port Arthur and worked in the labor department at Texaco Refinery.  It seemed as though my goal to be a CPA would never be achieved.  But, after a few months in labor, I found a job with a CPA firm.  The timing could not have been better.  I had some accounting experience with the theaters and had kept records for a drug store where I had 1/2 ownership in the soda/sandwich counter.  After a couple of years experience with the CPA firm I made application for the CPA exam.  At that time, the state gave me credit for experience in lieu of college. 

The reason I said the timing could not have been better is because shortly after I qualified for the exam, the law was changed and now required a college degree.  I was “grandfathered” because I had already qualified.  I later passed the exam, became a CPA and later a partner in the firm.  Later, I left the firm and opened a practice of my own.

I say none of this in a prideful manner.  The point is that regardless of the decisions we make that may hamper us in achieving our goals, God has a way of gently nudging us back on track.  We just need to stay “nudgeable.”  God has been so good to me over the years.  I give credit to Him for my professional life after leaving the labor department at Texaco.  My career has included my own firm, being CFO in banking, and after retirement for a couple of days, beginning a career in financial planning.  During this time I also taught accounting for a couple of semesters for an area junior college.  I found out that my CPA certificate qualified as a Masters Degree, which the junior college required.  I was educated and didn’t know it.

I am proud, yet humble, when I look backwards and realize how much God has blessed me.  He has kept me on track when my decisions sent me in the wrong directions.  He kept me focused on the goals that I had set.  My most cherished blessing is the family he gave me.  As we make decisions in life, we must never forget to be thankful to God and be open to receiving the blessings He has for us.

So, my story is not about my first car at all.  It is about how each of my decisions changed the plans on reaching my goals.  I know that God has watched over me all of my life and He will continue to give me direction in my relationship with Him.

“MY BROTHER”

April 28, 2010

My older brother and I were always in some kind of controversy.  You might say we mixed about as well as oil and water.  Last week I drove to Nacogdoches for an appointment with the dermatologist.  This was Pam’s doctor and she thought maybe he could improve my looks a little bit.  I grew up in Nacogdoches and after I left the doctor’s office I drove around in the area of my one-time farm.  Driving around brought back memories of long ago.  My farm is now a sub-division.  My home was considered in the country.  It was 3 miles from town and my high school.  Now, it is still  3 miles from town, but the high school is 1 mile past where I lived.  It was pretty difficult to recognize some of the landmarks.  My former farm is now a residential area within the city limits. 

As we got older, my brother and I drifted further and further apart.  I am not writing to be critical of him, but I must say a few things to get the main point of this story.  There came a time when I could take no more of his actions.  It seemed like every time I tried to do him a favor or help him, our relationship only got worse.  At one point, I didn’t speak to him for 15 years.  We finally had a good face-to-face meeting and I told him about the reason for my long silence.  Things got a little better for a while and then everything crashed again.

I began to pray for him daily and continued for about 15 years.  What I discovered during this time,was God needed to make some changes in me.  Prayer has that effect on us.  One day (after 15 years) my brother walked into my office and before I could even speak, he said that we were brothers and needed to repair our relationship, or lack thereof.  We had a good visit and he told me he was fighting cancer.  My brother had always been a non-believer and I asked him if he had made peace with the Lord.  He said he had and I prayed with him.

We still had a few ups and downs, but if was different now.  He had purchased a piece of land below Steinhagen Lake on the Neches River.  He was retired from the military. 

On July 4th, 1997, I was cooking barbecue on our patio in the woods.  We were having a group of friends over for the holiday.  It was about 10:30 in the morning and I suddenly heard God say:  “Pray for your brother!”  It was not a soft whisper, it was a strong command.  I prayed!  Not knowing what to pray, I prayed for his soul.

This was on Friday.  On Sunday afternoon, his wife called me and said he had died on July 4th.  I asked her what time he died.  She thought it was around 10:30 that morning because he was coming back from his garden.  She was not at home at the time, but that’s when he normally came back from his garden.  When she came home Friday night, she found him in the yard.  He had died of a massive heart attack.

I talked to my pastor about this.  He told me I had been called to intercede on behalf of my brother.  It was a time when he was unable to pray for himself.  I remembered praying for his soul that morning.  The pastor told me  I would someday meet my brother in heaven. 

I write this story today because I believe in the power of intercessory prayer and there is such a need for it today.  This nation has such a great need for prayer during these times.  Since His resurrection and ascension to heaven, Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father and continuously makes intercession for each of us.

“BLACKBERRIES”

April 27, 2010

 

I took an alternate route back to the office yesterday after lunch.  This route is down a country road and there is a place where the pine trees have been harvested.  When the trees have been removed, the sun brings out the blackberry vines.  It is about time for the berries to ripen and I found a few on the side of the road.  There were not a lot of berries, but with a little searching, I found a few. 

I surprised Pam when I arrived home by telling her she could go berry picking with me.  I usually forget in the spring to check on the berry crop.  I like to have Pam along with me because she is a good snake spotter and she protects me from these evil beings.  I am not really afraid of snakes, but it makes Pam feel good when she is able to keep me safe.  She sent Lyndsey a text message saying I was taking her on an adventure.  Of course, Lyndsey’s curiosity prompted her to immediately enquire what the adventure was. 

At the Longhorn baseball games players are featured on the scoreboard.  They introduce themselves, tell a little bit about themselves, and then tell something people don’t know about them.  I enjoy listening to the players tell about themselves.  Well, let me tell you something about me that people may not know.  I have a wife that absolutely makes the best blackberry cobbler in the world.  Of course, I am able to contribute the Blue Bell Ice Cream.  See, that is what partnership is all about.

Pam is a good berry picker.  She uses the “pick and eat” method, so her bucket doesn’t have as many berries as mine.  We were able to gather enough blackberries for just plain eating and for a cobbler.  Can you taste it as well as I can?  I can’t wait.

When you can find blackberries, pick them, and have a great cobbler, without the necessity of planting, fertilizing, pruning, etc., you know there must be a God that provides wonderful things for us.  I can only imagine what the Garden of Eden was like….but, I know that it exceeded my imagination.  I often look back and give thanks to God for His generosity for my family and I.  When I think about giving thanks, I realize that the blessings far exceed anything I can do in comparison.  We truly have a wonderful and all-powerful Gold, who constantly watches over us.

“WHY DO TARANTULAS CROSS THE ROAD?”

April 26, 2010

Photo: A tarantula feeding

Have you ever heard the question “why does the chicken cross the roads?”  The answer is “to get to the other side.”  Not very funny to me now, nor the first time I heard it.

When I lived in College Station, I witnessed the migration season of the Tarantula spider.  The best I can remember it was in late summer or early fall.  I had heard about this migration on Highway 60, just west of Snook, Texas.  I was returning from Lake Sommerville and came upon hundreds of large Tarantula spiders crossing the highway in front of me.  It was unbelievable.  I stopped, along with other cars, to just look at the sight.  There seemed to be no end to the spider parade across the highway.  I am almost as fond of Tarantulas as I am snakes.  I could just imagine trying to drive through this caravan and being attacked by these huge spiders.  But, I finally got my nerve up and drove forward and let each Tarantula worry about being crushed by my tires.  I couldn’t miss all of them, so a few were smashed.    

Now, back to the question of why Tarantulas cross the road.  It is not to get to the other side.  Only the males are migrating.  They are looking for females.  I guess the females must have been on the other side of the road.  The males do not live among the females.  They remain bachelors until they mature at about age three.  (Most of the males I know aren’t mature at 23 or maybe even 33).  So, the males migrate seeking older female company.  The females may live to be about 20 years of age and the male only lives about 3 years.  I think the females live longer because they don’t cross the highway looking for younger males.  They just wait in their burrows and wait for a good-looking young male to come along.

After mating, the male quickly leaves the presence of the female.  If he stays around, she will eat him.  If he escapes, he still dies shortly, while she guards her eggs and waits for the hatch of 500 to 1,000 little Tarantulas.

I have always had a fear of Tarantulas.  I thought their venom was deadly and being bitten would be something terrible.  I have found out their venom only caused pain very much like the sting of a bee.  Their venom only has an effect on their prey and man is not their prey.  They do not have an aggressive nature.  So, there is nothing really to fear.

How often in life do we fear something?  We mostly fear the unknown.  Our imagination can cause us great fear.  We often concentrate on our fears and problems rather than seeking wisdom and focusing on the Answer.  Satan can cause great fear in us unless we continue to focus on the Answer.  God did not give us a spirit of fear.  He has gifted us with His peace.  In all things we must continue to look to Him for the answer to our fears and problems and place our very lives in His hands.  God only wants the very best for His children and we can rest in that.  Just as we don’t understand the ways of the Tarantula, we don’t understand fully the ways of our Lord.  Not understanding His ways should never deter us in placing our faith in Him.

 

 

“REDBIRD HILL”

April 23, 2010

My mother lived at Lake Somerville near Bryan/College Station.  They had a home in Bryan and a house on the lake.  When they purchased the property for the lake house, she named it “Redbird Hill”  because of all the Cardinals.  She enjoyed the outdoors and really had a “green” thumb.  She had flowers all over the yard, grew a vegetable garden, and raised chickens. 

One morning. while gathering eggs, she discovered a chicken was missing.  Then, a few days later, another chicken was gone.  She assumed it was a “coon” (see above) coming in at night and stealing her chickens.  So, she ordered a Raccoon trap.  When the trap arrived, she baited it with chicken parts and left it in the yard.  The next morning, the bait was gone, the trap door was closed, and no “coon.”  (You can see in the picture how the trap door drops when the bait trigger is pulled.)  My mother was always determined…you might say hard-headed.  She baited the trap a couple of times more with the same results.

Well, she moved on to Plan B.  She tied a string to the bait trigger and ran the string through her bedroom window.  Then she anchored the string to the wall and attached a bell.  When the bell sounded that night, she told her husband to give her a little time and then turn on the flood lights for the back yard.  She had a 22 caliber rifle and was a real good marksman(woman).  When he turned the floodlights on, this is what she saw:

 

She had trapped a bobcat.  He was in the trap, but was too long for the trap door to drop.  The bobcat had been getting the bait and the trap door would drop on his back…..then he just backed out.  Well, his “backing out” nights were over.  She shot him while he was gathering his chicken parts.

She had been determined that no chickens would be stolen from her.

That is the way it is in this life.  Satan roams the earth seeking steal, kill, and destroy.  He is not all-powerful and only steals what we allow him to steal.  Satan will steal our joy and peace, but only if we allow it.  The Spirit that lives within us is stronger that any attacks from without.  We often say, “The devil has stolen this or that.”  No, we allowed him to take it.  When we are under attack, it’s decision time.  The decision is to called on our Protector and stand in faith.  Then we are able to keep the good things of life.

“SHOCK”

April 22, 2010

When I was growing up, I had a “shocking” experience with an electric fence like the one pictured above.  I lived three miles from town and sometimes took a shortcut through the Stephen F. Austin Experimental Farm.  One day I had a friend with me and we took this shortcut.  We were crossing some pastures where they were experimenting with growing grass.  It had been raining earlier, and the lush grass was acting just like a sponge and holding quite a bit of rain water.  We came across an electric fence that had only one wire.  They used the single wire electric fence to keep the cattle from grazing different pastures.  I recognized this single wire as being electrified, so we jumped over.  As we crossed this pasture, we came to a four-strand barbed wire fence.  The insulators were on the other side of the fence so I didn’t realize it was also electrified.  I reached up with both hands, grabbed the top strand, and placed my foot on the bottom strand to climb over.  That left one foot on the spongy grass.  The effect was that I was standing in water as I grabbed the electric fence.  SHOCK!!!  It seemed as though I would never be able to turn loose.  I shook from the shock and it seemed like an eternity before I could release the electric wire.  We gave up on crossing that fence and found one that was non-electric.

My uncle raised honey bees and I have seen him get stung without much effect.  He had been working with bees and getting stung so often that he had become accustomed to it.  He would just calmly brush the bee from his body and continue with what he was doing.

There are different kind of shocks that we experience in our life.  We have the physical shocks from electricity, bee stings, etc., and then we have shocks to our beliefs, principles, and morals.

I remember when pictures and words heard in the media were shocking to us.  At first there were semi-bad words and pictures.  They were shocking, but we became accustomed to them.  As time passed, we were exposed to more and more and our objections became less and less.  What was shocking years ago, is accepted today.

I remember when I lived at College Station during the beginning of the “streaker” era.  We had a streaker run across the A & M campus almost daily.  I don’t remember the campus police ever catching a streaker.  People were shocked at first and then it became just something to expect each day.

Pam and I were at the Baseball College World Series in Omaha a couple of years ago.  During one of the games, someone in the outfield bleachers stripped (totally) and jumped on the field and ran to center field.  He was tackled by one of the event staff.  The police arrested the streaker and took him away.  It caused a little shock and excitement, but then the game continued as if nothing had happened.  I remembered all the baseball games more than the streaker.

Over the years this nation has experienced so much moral decay that it has become the accepted way of life.  It bothers us, but not enough.  We can object to such things in a small group by showing our disapproval and not joining in.  What can we do as a nation?  I wish I knew the answer.  A few against the many seems an impossible task.

On second thought, I really know the answer.  God tells us that if we will repent, seek Him, then He will heal our nation.  To me, this cannot be done as individuals.  This must be done as a nation of individuals with each doing his part.  That is my prayer each day.  I want this nation to be a Godly nation and find favor in God’s eye.  It is time for us to join together and recruit others.  God is waiting to hear from us.

“FOLLOW THE LEADER”

April 14, 2010

Have you ever noticed in every activity there is always a leader?  In the picture above, which one decided he would be the leader?  Was he chosen by the others?  Regardless of how the leader was selected, there are always followers.  Sometimes the leader changes in the middle of the activity, depending on the circumstances.

What is an old hand-crank telephone doing in the middle of this story?  Well, I’ll tell you.  When I was young, we were always looking for something to do.  Living in the country sometimes required a little imagination and/or ingenuity.  One game we played was walking the top strand of a barbed-wire fence.  It was necessary to find a fence that had a telephone wire directly over it.  The telephone wires were strung on short poles so we could walk on the barbed wire and hold on to the telephone line for balance.  This worked pretty good, but there was a problem.  When someone wanted to make a call on this type of telephone, they needed to use the hand crank.  This send an electrical charge through the wire to the operator.  The object of our game was to see how far we could walk before we lost balance and fell, or before someone tried to reach the telephone operator.  When someone cranked the telephone, it sent a pretty strong charge down the line and we were either knocked off or jumped off to escape the charge.  Fun game….right?

I thought about walking the barbed-wire fence when I saw this picture.  These girls are not very high off the ground, but for their size it’s pretty high.  Kids do daring things for excitement.  What am I saying?…..adults still do the same thing.  In most games of follow the leader, the leader changes so everyone will have the opportunity to think up something so daring that the others won’t do.

We each must learn to lead in our areas of strength and follow where are weak.

“Born to Lead”

(Genesis 1:26-31)

You and I were born to lead.  Take a look at five observations based on Genesis 1:26-31 that suggest our God-given leadership potential:

1.  Being made in God’s image means we were created to lead (v.26).  After God says, “Let us make man in Our image,” He says, “Let them have dominion….”  One way we reflect God’s image is by leading.

2.  God commanded both male and female to have dominion (v.27).  Both men and women have been given the ability and authority to lead.  Leadership is not gender specific.

3.  We are to rule over the earth, but not necessarily over each other (v.28).  We were not directed to rule each other; but over the earth’s creatures.  History is largely the story of how men and women have perverted their God-given roles by trying to rule each other.

4.  All of us are to serve one another in the areas of our gifting and purpose (vv. 29,30).  God created everything for a purpose.  Our general purpose is to lead, but each of us should ask God, “Lord, what’s my specific purpose?”

5.  Each person’s leadership is best exercised in his or her area of giftedness (v. 31).  When we discover our gifts, we will naturally lead in those areas where we are most productive, intuitive, comfortable, and satisfied. 

“CLASSIC CARS”

April 13, 2010

1957 Chevrolet

Isn’t this a beauty? 

When I was discharged from the Army in 1957, I purchased a 1957 Chevrolet like the one above.  It was the same color.  The only difference, mine was a 4-door.  Of all the autos I have owned over the years, this was my very favorite.

When I travel to Tyler, there is a classic car dealer in Bullard.  He always has a few on his lot.  He finds old cars and brings them back to life.  We have stopped a few times and to enjoy a closer look.

Last Saturday in Austin we were looking for a new place to eat.  We found a restaurant on South Congress named “Woodland.”  I don’t know how we’ve missed this restaurant all these years.  It doesn’t look like much on the outside, but  the food was great.  Pam and I ate shrimp and grits and it was very tasty.

We started south on Congress from downtown.  When we crossed the Town Lake bridge, we looked up and traffic was bumper to bumper as far as you could see.  I wasn’t aware of any events taking place on Saturday.  We detoured back to Interstate 35 and by-passed most of the traffic.  The restaurant was near the Magnolia Cafe.  We were really lucky and found a parking space behind the Woodland.

We saw more than a few classic cars, hot-rods, and motorcycles.  I asked our waiter about all the traffic.  He said that it was the annual motorcycle and classic car rally.  People were lined up along Congress and it looked like a Christmas parade.  After dinner, we stood on the sidewalk and watched the traffic pass.  Many of the classic cars were parked along the street.  Seeing all this brought back memories of my 1957 Chevrolet Impala, 4-door hardtop.  This was the only car I ever owned that almost brought tears to my eyes when I drove from the dealership after trading it in.  I wish I had it back even today.

I have a CD I listen to sometimes when traveling.  The artist is Randy Travis, and one of the songs he sings about “down with the old man and up with the new.”  If man can rebuild old wrecks and make them beautiful classic cars, just think what God can do.  Believing in what Jesus did for each of us can truly bury the old man and give life to the new man.  Just as classic cars get a new life, God gives us a new abundant life.  The change from a rusted old car to a sparkling classic car cannot compare to the re-birth we receive from God.

“TAKING A DIFFERENT ROUTE”

April 12, 2010

Pam and I made our trip to Austin on Friday.  Our normal route takes us through College Station, but we decided to go through Brenham.  I thought there would be more Blue Bonnets, Indian Blankets, Daisies, etc. through Navasota and Brenham.  The drive was beautiful and we took a few pictures.

We got to “Must Be Heaven” in Brenham a little before 2 PM.  I thought the lunch crowd would have been gone by then, but I was wrong.  The line was almost to the front door.  There were probably 50 people in front of us.  But, the line went pretty fast and we ate soup, fruit, and sandwich….everything delicious!!  Then we ordered a piece of Dutch Apple pie with ice cream and two forks.  Again…delicious!!

We arrived in Austin in time to check-in at the hotel and then to the Longhorn baseball game that night.  It was a great weekend of baseball.  On Friday night, the Longhorns won in the bottom of the 11th inning.  On Saturday, another close game with the Longhorns winning by 1 run.  On Sunday the game wasn’t as close.  The Longhorns had a good day at bat and won easily for a three-game sweep of the Kansas Jayhawks.

In leaving the ball park, we decided to travel through College Station and have a burger at Chicken Oil Company.  They have a real good burger and for a side we ordered “Texas Toothpicks.”  Texas Toothpicks are thin onion strips and jalapeno strips deep-fried.

As we neared College Station, we found that there were more flowers on the highway than we had seen on Friday going through Brenham.  It was a great surprise and we were able to see the beauty of God’s creation again.

It is amazing that when we assume a blessing (beauty of His creation) is on one road, He amazes us be providing a greater blessing on a different route.  This will happen to us continually as we walk life’s road look to Him for everything.  It is exciting just to imagine the blessings God has in store for us in the coming days.