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Blog: Tom Job

February 7th, 2014

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

Hope your heart is warm with praise to the Lord of all the earth…even though your toes might be a little chilly and wet, walking around in His world these days!

We're so pumped! Can you hear it? "bum BUM ba-bum bum Bum bum…bum buddity bum…babum bum bum buddi-Bum bum bum…buddi-bum bum…!"

(Oh, sorry. That was the Olympic theme song.)

We love the Olympics 'round our house! Y’know, the Winter Olympics have a whole other suspense than the Summer ones do. In the Summer Games, you’re wondering, “Who’s going to cross the line first?...Who’s going to touch the wall first?...Who’s going to go higher?...” In the wintry sports, it seems that so much of it is about just one question....

 “Will he fall on his can?”

“Will she land on her behind?”

“Are they all going to wind up on their b#tts?”

From the speed skating to the snow boarding cross to the half-pipe, it’s all about doing what you do best on the slickest, slidy-est, slippery-est places they can find, with most of the world watching,  and trying to finish without a soakin' wet rear end…or worse, a black ‘n blue one!

And those figure skaters! They so graceful…until they’re not! Wham!! They hit it harder than anyone! They look like gliding swans until they slip, do the back-side-first landing and try to get up, looking like a duckling just hatched from the egg! When TV shows it in slow motion, and you can watch the moment of “rear end impact” start the “wave” through their whole person…well, I have to take some Advil just from seeing it!

Last night, the American guy Jeremy Abbott was just starting to do his skating thing. This was BEFORE the Opening Ceremonies. In other words, the Olympics he'd been preparing four years for, hadn't even started! 17 seconds into his thing…swoosh…swoosh…oops!…WHAAAAMMMM!! He hit so hard I thought his rear was going to break thru the ice and wind up in the water! (I guess there isn't water under the ice, is there?)

What if you had to do your job with everyone watching and wondering the same thing…”You gonna crash onto your behind?”

I’m so thankful Jesus isn’t like me when I watch those Games! When we fall…when we flop…when we splat on our can, He lets us get up every time! He lets me start over. He doesn’t remember it even happened! 

Paul says, “Forgetting what is behind, I press on to the prize…!”

And because He always lets us start over and stays with us no matter what, Paul says, “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me!”

“Forgetting what’s behind…”

“I can do all things through Him…”

That’s a “behind”… a “can”…I can gladly and happily fall on every day!

Enjoy the Games, folks! 

(Let it go, Jeremy.)

January 24th, 2014

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!!

Hope you’re having an awesome Friday! If you let praise fill your heart all day, it'll be warmer on the inside than it'll ever be today on the outside! (Tho' technically at 98.6 degrees and a high today of 29, that would be true in any case, whether you spend the day praisin' or spend the whole day grumpy!)! 

And just nine more days until the big holiday weekend! 

"Huh?" 

Well, I guess officially it's NOT a holiday but the Super Bowl has ALMOST made it into the holiday classification! Something like 108.4 million people stopped everything on a Sunday evening and watched the last one on TV. And we Americans ate 43.8 million pounds of quacamole dip during the game! That's enough to fill an average stadium 10-and-a-half feet deep! 

Gross.

We don’t even call it “Super Bowl Sunday” any more. It’s “Super Sunday!”

Reporters were already asking players questions TWO WEEKS before the game. Sometimes, they run out of good questions and wind up asking some dopey ones. Once a reporter asked 49ers QB Joe Montana: "So why do they call you Boomer?"

One Sports Illustrated reporter started writing down quotes (103!) from other reporters that he thought were worth remembering, most of them because they were goofy.

You know how reporters say stuff like, “If they want to win this game, they’re gonna have to put some points on the board…”

Y’know…technically, I don’t think it’s possible to win without doing that.

Or…

“If they want to win, they gonna have to play some defense…”

I mean, if you don’t play ANY defense, even if you score some, you’ll lose by 185 points!

 Here’s that reporter’s favorite quotes of the week…

“Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning always looks like he's changing plays at the line. Many people think he's bluffing. The Broncos teammates insist he's not bluffing. But those Broncos teammates could be bluffing…”

When the Saints beat Peyton when he was at Baltimore a few years ago, one reporter wrote, “People in New Orleans have been inspired by the Saints….The Saints insist it's the people of New Orleans who have inspired them…It's like a big inspiration circle…”

How 'bout this?...“The offensive lines will play an important part in the game…” 

(Like…what if you didn’t have one?)

Here's a fun fact…this year our National Anthem will be sung for the first time by an opera star! Renee Fleming! (She's the one who sings all those songs on the "Lord of the Rings" movies…y'know…where the only words are "Ahhhhhh…") If it's like any of the operas I know, it should probably takes seventeen to nineteen minutes to get to "…hoooome the of braaaave!"

Speaking of time…

From the “Did you know…?” department:

With all the interviews, , and all the commercials, all the slow motion replays, and the half-time show, the game will last three hours, plus. But if you count the time of actual playing…from the snap of the ball ‘til the ref blows the play dead…the actual time when the game is being played, taking all the plays together, is only about eleven minutes!! Usually there is 50% more time spent showing replays then is spent showing the real plays!

Wow! Just eleven minutes of “ball-in-play” time”! 

And when it’s all over with, will anyone (besides certified sports nuts!) really remember the details of Super Bowl XLVIII and what happened in those eleven minutes?

Quick!

Who was the MVP of the Super Bowl in 2003?

Who won the 1997 Super Bowl?

Who was the defensive player of the game in the Super Bowl last year?

What quarterback led his team to victory in 2005?

It’s just eleven minutes…and it doesn’t really matter much. Not many will remember much about it. But…

Quick! 

Who was the person who told you about Jesus?

Who was someone that you know has prayed for you in the last year?

Who are the three most spiritually encouraging people you know?

Who would you most like to be like, spiritually?

It’s easy to remember those people, isn’t it?

What if you took eleven minutes next week and…

…prayed for someone…and told them that you did?…

Or…

…Wrote someone an encouraging note in eleven minutes and told them what they mean to you?

Or...

…In eleven minutes, shared with someone what Jesus has been doing for you lately and how He could do something like it for them?

You could do something in only eleven minutes that someone might never forget as long as they live! 

That’s what I call, “Super!”

 

January 10th, 2014

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

Or as they say around here, "Hey, y'all!"

Or as 12.63% of Americans, mostly in Pennsylvania, Missouri, Oklahoma and Nebraska say, "Hey, you all!"

Or as 0.20% of us, mainly living in Ohio and Pennsylvania say, "Hey, y'uns!"

If I said, "Hey, yous!", y'all would know I was sending a shout-out from Cape Cod, where most of the 0.67% of us who say that, live.

I was shocked to realize that 42.53% of our co-citizens, mostly across the upper Midwest and California, would have started this CCC Friday email with, "Hey, you guys!"

With choices like "y'all", "y'uns", "yous guys", and "you lot", that many just go with plain ol', "You guys"? Really?

I personally feel "y'all" is quicker, easier to say and it's more inclusive than "you guys". But they didn't ask me.

Actually they asked thousands of folks tho'!

I found out all those stats from a survey that linguists and profs at Harvard took, asking folks across the land to tell how they say or pronounce a variety of things. There are 122 questions in all, and after they compile your answers, they can tell where you come from and/or where you live. Fer instance…

Question 119…"What do you call food you buy at a restaurant but take home to eat?"

Most of us call it, "Take-out" but 6.40% call it "carry-out", mostly from Ohio and Indiana.

Did you know 8.10% of Americans call a grocery "bag" (90.26%) a grocery "sack"? You'll hear that in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska. 0.13% living in upper West Tennessee call it a "poke"! 

Do you know what 0.06% of us mean when they say, "bog rolling"? They mean "tp'ing a house" (57.71%), or "toilet papering" a house (21.04%) or. as we called it, "rolling" a house (6.68%, concentrated in the Southeast…That's what I'm talking about!)  Did you know 7.78% of Americans don't even have a word for it?! I believe that's mostly in the Amish regions.

If you say "hair elastic", you're from Maine or Vermont. 

If you call an easy course in school. "crip", you're from the Southeast. 

A highway is called an "expressway" only along the Gulf Coast of Texas. 

0.02% of us call "lightning bugs" "peenie wallies". Seriously!  

Along the Great Lakes and New England, "poem' has one syllable.  

"Caramel" only has two syllables in the Midwest. 

"Crayon" only has one syllable in Lower Michigan. 

They only call her their "Aunt" (as in "ahh-nt") and not their "Aunt" (as in "ant") in Connecticut and Massachusetts. 

In Louisiana, "Mary" and "merry" sound the same, but "marry" doesn't. 

59.68% of us keep the "l" in "almond". 5.65% say, "ah-mond". If you say it like that, I'm one of y'all. 

Or one of you guys…one of yous…one of you lot…y'all know what I mean!

If you go on nytimes.com and look up, "How Y’all, Youse and You Guys Talk" , you can take the test yourself! My results told me I was from the Southeast near Nashville, Chattanooga, and Knoxville! They almost guessed we live in Oliver Springs! (I noticed they didn't ask how we pronounce "springs"…or "wrestling")

Ever wondered how folks can tell a person, no matter where they were born or live, is a citizen of the Kingdom of God and is heading home to Heaven?

I guess folks who know Jesus say all kinds of things in our own unique ways. Others don't use the word "do" like we do ("do life together"…"do ministry") We use "just really" a lot. Others don't "love on" people as much as we do. But Paul says you can tell a person belongs to Jesus best by what we DON'T say. Check this…

"Do all things without…complaining, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky…!"

Wanna shine like a star in the night? A bright light and a child of the King in a world of grumpy, griping grumpiness? As Paul Overstreet wrote and Alison Kraus sang, "You say it best when you say nothing at all!" 

Feel like complaining and just want to say what's bugging you? Don't!

We have a heavenly Dad Who loves us in ways we can't even take in! He's making every single thing that happens or doesn't, fit into the perfect plan for us! He knows whatever we need and the One Who feeds the birds of the world so brilliantly, thinks we're worth tons more than they are! When you think about it, we have no right or reason  to ever complain again!

What if you made a choice to make it to the end of the day without complaining once about anything today? I think it makes the heart lighter, our faith brighter and…

If you string a few complaining-free days together, someone might get the courage to just ask you, "Hey! Where are y'all from?"

"Who me?"

"Yeah! You and all you guys!" Or as they say down here, "All y'all!" (1.87%)

January 3rd, 2014

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

Hope you're having an awesome, albeit chilly, day! (I think that may be the absolute first time I've ever used the word "albeit" in my life! I'm not sure what it means but it seemed to fit! 2014 is gonna be awesome!) 

Speaking of the New Year, loads of folks take this opportunity to resolve to make some real changes in the way things have gone on up to this point. Old bad habits out! New, healthful, wholesome ways in!  "Resolved: no more __________ (fill in the blank)! From this day forward, January 1 in the Year of our Lord 2014, unto Eternity, I am never going to eat ______ (fill in the blank) again, or say _____ (fill in the blank) again, or watch ____ (fill in the blank) again. Instead I am going to daily ______ (fill in the blank), everyday without fail, the whole year long, for as long as we both shall live"

Sometimes, it doesn't always work out.

Only 15% of those who resolved to quit smoking in 2013 were still smoke-free on Dec 31. Altho' as those of us who wrestled with that one know, technically you could quit on the 31st of December and reach your goal of quitting in 2013. Even if you start back up without intending to the first week of the new year. You still quit in 2013! Maybe more than once! As Mark Twain said, "Quitting smoking is easy! I've done it a thousand times!"

For those who determined to go to the gym everyday of 2013, Time magazine says only 40% of those memberships are used at all! By February, attendance is back to pre-New Year levels. I bet some wonder why they don't get any healthier. "I pay that gym every month! I pay my utilities every month and we always have lights on! Wonder why I stay the same!"

Some resolved to learn Spanish in 2013. So, intiendes algo de lo che digo? If not, maybe this year will be better! 

You know that feeling that settles in somewhere between mid January and the first of February…"I still am a mess sometimes! I was going to be so different this time! Why can't I just stop? Why can't I be change ____(fill in the blank)?!"

You ARE changing! One beautiful verse says that "He Who began His work in you is going to finish it!" (Phil 1:6) Your Lord is never going to give up on you! John 15:1 says He's a gardener, weeding and snipping when things need to go so that you can grow. Paul says more than once that He IS at work in you! (Eph. 2:10) 

But since His work won't be done until we're home, maybe we'll always feel sometimes, "I'm not yet the person I wish. I thought I'd never struggle with ____ or ____ (fill in the blank) again. I thought I could do ______ (fill in the blank) easily by now. Mercy!"

Mercy! Exactly!

There will never come a time when we won't need His mercy! Daily! Just to know that He just loves me! He just knows me! He knows I'm not who I think or hoped but it doesn't change the love He has for us in His immense heart! Even tho' I didn't reach my goals for the day or didn't exactly become the one I thought I should be by this date, He LOVES us! He gives to us! And cares for us! And will never get tired of us! I don't earn it or deserve it at all! It's just Him! It's just His heart! It's just…what should I call it?…free, undeserved, undeservable, loving, beautiful…mercy!

There'll never be a time that I won't need it! There'll never be a day in the New Year when I won't need Him to be the way He is- full of free, undeserved, undeservable, loving, beautiful mercy! I noticed that when Paul wrote all his letters, he'd started them out by saying, "Grace and peace to you…" But when he got older…when he was an old man…he added a word in his later greetings. "Grace, MERCY, and peace…"

"…to you!" "And to me!" he thought! The older I get, the more I know, there'll never be a day when I don't need free, undeserved, undeservable, loving, beautiful…mercy!

If it's not too late, here's an awesome resolution to add to your list. Or if you've already blown 'em all by now, just start over with this one…

An old saint from the Sinai desert named Gregory wrote these instructions in the fourteen century for guys he was helping to grow in Jesus. It's called the "Prayer of the Heart":

"Sit down alone and in silence. Lower your head, shut your eyes, breathe out gently and imagine yourself looking into your own heart. As you breathe out, say, 'Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.' Say it moving your lips gently or simply say it in your mind. Try to put all other thoughts aside. Be calm, be patient, and repeat this frequently."

Wow! I can do that! And if I do it enough, maybe I'll fall so in love with the One Who has so much mercy for me, it'll help me finally ______(fill in the blank) everyday!

December 20th, 2013

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey everyone!

Hope you're having a super sweet and joy-filled week before Christmas! And I hope it's not getting too…silly, I guess. You know how Christmas just gets kinda goofy! Grown-ups walking around with Santa hats and antlers on, wearing big red Rudolphy noses. Which is awesome, f'r sure! It's just that…

Huh? Where does Rudolph came from? Oh, well, that's an interesting story…

This dude named Robert May used to tell his daughter about the crimson-nose caribou every night before bed. Each nightly re-telling got more and more elaborate. At first he called him "Rollo the reindeer". Then it changed to "Reginald". They both finally decided they liked "Rudolph" best. Unfortunately, he was different, born with a nose "as red as a beet and twice as big and bright". 

Came in handy, tho'!

One Christmas eve the regular reindeer were so blinded in the extraordinary dark fogginess that they "almost hit a plane" and "got tangled in trees". So Ol' Santa followed the red glowing light to Rudolph and had the "greatest idea in all of history!" 

And you know the rest!

You may not know that in the original, Santa told Rudy that "on judgment day, he would get as many gifts as the happier, handsomer reindeer"! 

"Judgement Day"?! Seriously, Santa?

Folks at Montgomery Ward where Bob May worked, had heard him talk about it and made him tell the story at the company Christmas party. Loved it! They made a book of it for the Montgomery Ward Santas to give away to kids who came to the "workshops" and in five Christmases, 7,000,000 were out there! 

Robert's brother-in-law took out the lines about Judgement Day and the "greatest idea in all of history" (it was good, but not that good!), made the words rhyme and put it all to music…Bing didn't want to touch it. Neither did Dinah Shore. The "Singin' Cowboy" Gene Autrey had a song he just knew was gonna be a Christmas blockbuster ("If It Doesn't Snow This Christmas"…Remember that one?) He needed a song for Side B (Remember those?)…

BAM! "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer"! The second best-selling Christmas song of all time!

Kinda silly, really.

'Cept, Robert May made up the story for his youngest. She was struggling. With being different. 

She was different from her friends. Just like Rudolph. She was different because her mother wasn't like their mothers. Mom never got out of bed. She had cancer. She didn't make it to Christmas, 1939. So Bob May's daughter Barbara was even more different. She didn't have  a mom. 

A couple walked through the streets of Bethlehem in a hurry. They looked like a normal pair with a baby on the way. But they weren't normal. And they weren't in a hurry. They were in panic! This Baby was coming! And they had no room nor help. Their families showed them nothing but backs turned and doors slammed. Unkind things had been said and untrue things believed. They were alone and afraid and a poor young man was trying to help a poor young girl be brave. 

As silly as Rudolph is, it's really the story of two who were alone and afraid…the story of a poor young man trying to help a poor young girl be brave. 

As normal as folks look, everywhere you go this Christmas, there are those who are having a tougher or sadder time than you'd imagine, just looking. For every red reindeer nose you see during the day, there's one that's red at night from crying at home alone. For all the Christmas silliness, there's lots of Christmas sadness. Everywhere this Christmas, people are alone…or afraid…and trying their best to be brave. 

Kindness…Gentleness…some kind, gentle words of encouragement at Christmas to hearts that others may miss…

THAT just may be "the greatest idea in all of history"!

December 6th, 2013

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

Hope you’re having a Merry Friday! 

It just doesn’t seem right that only one day out of the year gets to be called the “merry” one! Why not sing, “We wish You a Merry Friday”? Or "Have Yourself a Merry Little Friday"? When the prodigal son came home, the overjoyed dad “began to make merry”. I think He still is! So we can “make merry” everyday! As the father says at the end of the story, “It’s right that we should make merry and be glad…!”

Lately I’ve been reading a lot about names and where they come from. I’ve been thinking about Jesus’ names and what they mean (like Emmanuel, Messiah, the Lion of Judah, the Morning Star), and it’s made me wonder about our names and how we got them. In the Bible, usually names mean something. It isn’t like now when we name our kids names that we like because…we just like them! Sometimes, we like them because they sound good. “Lyle Lovett…Lois Lane…Luna Lovegood…”

Some times we like certain names because they’re popular.

Did you know that of all the thousands of possibilities of names folks could have named their boys from the Pilgrims to today (or at least since they've been tracking this stuff) only thirteen names have held the top spot as "the most popular name for boys in America"?! Once they hit #1, they tend to hold on! 

(Wow! I just looked up the Mayflower passenger list! There was a boy named "Truelove", one named "Wrestling",  and a girl named "Remember" and a girl named "Humility" Wonder why "Truelove" didn't stick?)

“Emma” is the most popular name for American girls, according to the Social Security Administration office. It just recently bumped “Emily” which clung to first place for years! “Liam” is the winner for boys.  Really popular right now are girls’ names that start with a vowel and end in “a”…”Emma…Olivia (#2)…Ava…Isabella…Sophia…” Boys names that are hot are names with two syllables and end in “n”…”Aaden"…"Owen"…"Logan"… and "Ethan"(#3) and "Mason" (#4). (Did you know "Mason" is number four in America?) 

In four years “Chloe” has soared from the 667th most popular name to #15 today! Gives you a nosebleed to think about that jump!

One really hot trend in names is the “mashup” name, where you take part of the mom and part of the dad’s name and mash ‘em together, like Bennifer and Brangelina.

I’m glad it wasn’t the thing in the ‘50’s! “George”…”Pat”…My name would be “Geort”!

I found out last week that my name is in 63rd place in America but is number 6 in England! Jolly good!

I was shocked to learn that “Lee” peaked out at 273rd place in 1900! Only hits the 674th spot today! We’re blessed to have one of the rare ones! And an awesome one!

Some names aren’t as popular as they used to be. In 1930, “Milton” was the 73rd most popular name for baby boys. Today, it’s 817th! How many Miltons do you know? Or Mildreds? It was #6 on the name hit parade in 1910! Today, it’s not in the top 1000! Those are awesome names but I always thought that some names seem a little "old" for a new-born baby. "Milton" or "Mildred" seem like names you have to grow into. 

Sometimes it doesn’t matter what your name is because at a certain point you might be one of those folks who have some nickname that just sticks. Then that becomes your name. It's super cool because usually it's a name no one else has and you get it because people love you in some special way. Y'all know Thomas Stephen as "Potts". It comes from a t-shirt he got from Knottsberry Farms in California. We all called him Pottsberry when we were little. But his brother loves him so much that he calls him lots of names...Zinny...Zill...and if you listen close, you'll hear him called out, "Feeeeeeee!" It's a "name that no one know but he who receives it".

That phrase comes from Revelation 2. It says one day, Jesus is going to give you a "white stone that has a new name written that no one knows but he who receives it." He has a nickname for you that no one will have but you. Because there will be no one else like you! He loves you in a special way. He's making you into the "You" that no one else will or could ever be but you! 

Maybe we don't know His special name...His nickname...for each of us because we're not quite that person yet.  Maybe it’s a name like Milton or Mildred…it doesn’t quite fit babies or kids. Maybe you have to grow into it. We're on our way, but we still have a lot of growing to do. It's the major reason that Christmas isn't always "the mooost wonderful time of the year." We still get our feelings hurt sometimes. We still have expectations of people we shouldn't have. We still say stupid, hurtful things. 

Even at Christmas.

But one day, all Christmases will be amazing! Nothing but "love and joy come to you!" and "peace on earth, goodwill to all!" When one day we all grow into the ones we are destined to be! And you get the awesome Christmas present of a little white rock with the name written on it that we'll all call you then! 

So...Merry Christmas, Milton! And Mildred! Wherever (or better yet, whenever) you are!

November 29th, 2013

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

 

I’m sooo thankful for this week! I’m so pumped this is Thanksgiving weekend! Not only yesterday  but also today, I’m giving thanks for giving thanks! I know it wasn't that awesome of a week for the 45 million turkeys who had their "special day" yesterday…When we came TO the table, they were ON the table, but just look at it this way…

 

(I’m not quite sure how to finish that sentence. Changing the subject…)

 

Did you know that turkeys have excellent eye-sight? They can see in color! I’m not quite sure how people know that, but “all I’m telling ya is what I read in the ‘papers”! They sleep in trees at night and can run up to 20 mph! This year, Americans will enjoy 7.9 billion pounds of the bird, or 17.5 pounds of turkey per person. So apparently 20 mph ain’t fast enough! 

 

Anyway…Thanksgiving is the holiday of the most beautiful smells! The smell of apple pies baking…the bird roasting…the smell of money given…

 

“Huh?!”

 

That’s right! When Paul was in prison in Rome, the brothers and sisters in Jesus who lived in Philippi sent him money because they knew he was doing what God asked him to do and they wanted to be a part of helping get God’s work done. So he wrote them a letter (the “Letter of Paul to the Philippians”...you probably could have guessed that!) mostly just to thank them for giving and helping him and for caring about what God was doing in the world. And he told them that their gift was a sacrifice of love and devotion to God. And as the spiritual smoke of that sacrifice rose up to Heaven, it smelled beautiful to our Lord! 

 

“I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 4. 18-19)

Hearts giving because they love God! Mmmmmm!

Did you know that in the last few weeks, money has been given through Triple C to…

…help a young couple bring two baby boys, dying in Africa, into their hearts and home and into their family...

…help dozens of families in India devastated by the recent typhoon…

…as well as do the same in the Philippines…

…send 130 (!) shoeboxes around the world packed with presents and the message of Jesus’ love to kids who wouldn’t have either this Christmas…

And I bet there won't be an envelope left on the lobby Christmas tree when we offer the opportunity to pick one and fill it with enough to buy an Indian widow's dress or an orphan's two outfits for the year!

I am so thankful this Thanksgiving for Triple C! For how much you care! For your generous hearts! For your love for our Lord! For the days ahead and all we will do to share Him with so many!

Your love, your hearts, your giving to the Father and the cause of Christ in the world… It smells delicious to Him!!

Mmmmm!

Happy Day-After-Thanksgiving, everyone!!

November 15th, 2013

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!


Hope you’re having the most awesome Friday ever! Hope it’s filled with praise and laughter all day! Y’know, the other day I was going to…

 

(Wait a sec. I didn’t really mean to say some of that stuff. I need to start over…)

 

Hey, everyone! 


Hope you’re having the most awesome day ever! Filled with praise and thankfulness and joy! But if you have a heart that needs to break, or a tear you need to shed, or someone’s hurt you need to share, that’s OK, too! A day with pain in it…sometimes feeling yours and sometimes sharing someone else’s…doesn’t make your day a bad one. 

 

I was reading this article the other day about the history of anesthesia. This young British doctor, Humphrey Davy (that sounds like a name out of Gilbert and Sullivan!) was trying to find a cure for tuberculosis. He fixed up a makeshift gas chamber and was inhaling different gases in there (risky!!) to see if they helped him breath better. He tried a cloudful of nitrous oxide and found that he didn’t breath better but he did see better. In fact, he saw things that didn’t exist! 

 

"…Trains of vivid visible images rapidly passed through my mind…I was now almost completely intoxicated. The sensations were superior to any I ever experienced. Inconceivably pleasurable. I seemed to be a sublime being, newly created and superior to other mortals."

 

He thought about this goofy feeling the next time he had a throbbing toothache. “Maybe if I breathe some of that nitrous stuff, it’ll calm this pain…”

 

He tried it. And it did! They changed the name of nitrous oxide to “laughing gas” and dentists started using it for screaming patients around the world ever after. 

 

But not until decades after!

 

It had never occurred to doctors or dentists to use anything to take pain away from anyone! Extractions and all kinds of surgeries were done with no anesthesia! English didn’t even have the word “anesthesia” until 1846! The only word they had for pain relief up ‘til then was, “YYYYYYYYEEEEEEEOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!”

 

The reason was that doctors thought pain was good. All the screaming encouraged them to work faster (seriously!) and they thought it was a sign the body was fighting back and healing! 

 

Pain is really a gift from God. Pain in your mouth tells you something about your tooth. Pain in your heart tells you something about yourself. Pain in your friend’s heart because you are going through a hard time tells you something about love. 

 

Heaven will be the place where there will be no more tears or pain. But somehow, Heaven isn’t that way yet. Jesus is there and He feels and shares all your tears, hurts and pain. 

 

It would mean the world to someone to know that you hurt when they hurt. Two girls, Yaguine Koita, age fourteen and Fode Tounkara, age fifteen, were found frozen to death in the landing gear bay of a Belgian airliner, where they, so desperate for a better life, had tried to hide and escape Guinea, their country. They wrote this note in case they didn’t survive…

 

“We suffer enormously in Africa. 

Help us. 

We have problems in Africa. We lack rights as children. We have war and sickness. We lack food…

We want to study, and we ask you to help us 

so we can be like you, 

in Africa.”

 

What it would’ve meant to know that someone somewhere knew…and cared…and shed a tear. Or many…for them.

 

…Or for the hundreds of thousand who stand waist deep in misery, over their heads in grief and hopelessness in the Philippines today.

 

…Or for the broken hearted who head into their first Christmas season alone.

 

…Or for the army kids I've heard about all week at the Young Life Military conference here in Denver who literally shake while seated at their elementary school desk whenever they see soldiers walk into school dressed in fatigues because they're convinced that someone is coming to tell them their dad isn't coming home.

 

…Or for those we know and love who are having the hardest time they've ever had, because they're trying to show the love of Jesus to those who would have never known it without them.

 

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” (Romans 12.15)

Or as the Message puts it, “Laugh with your happy friends when they're happy; share tears when they're down.”

 

Hope you have a joy-filled day! But if someone you know needs a hug from you, give it! If someone needs a “listen” from you, do it. If someone needs a tear from you, shed it! 

 

That WILL make it an awesome day! For them! 

 

And for you!

November 8th, 2013

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

Hope you're having an awesome day! Speaking of awesome, it is going to be awesome outside today! Before we go any farther, let's just get that weather forecast out of the way…Take it away, Todd Howell!

"Thanks, Tom! We're in for an AB day today! That means 'Absolutely Beautiful' with highs topping out at 55 and abundant sun all day. Winds should be light at about 5 mph. Back to you, brother!"

Thanks, Todd! 

Before we get to the Triple C announcements…

Have you ever had one of those mornings when a Scripture you're reading just jumps off the page and smacks you right in the face? I've been reading this Bible I have, called the "One Year Bible". Every day of the year there is a piece from the Old Testament, a slice from the New Testament, and  a serving of Psalms, so that in one year you read all of it…And since you get some from all over the Bible everyday, if the Old Testament part is a little gritty, maybe the New Testament serving will be exactly what you needed for the day. But sometimes it's surprising how the Old Testament can really hit you right between the eyes!

Or right above one of them…

I was trying to get all of our firewood chopped and stacked before Tina gets home (she loves to watch the glow, sitting in front of our fireplace! And I love to watch her sitting there! Makes me glow! Won't be long now!) Anyhooooo…as I was saying…(What was I saying?… Oh yeah…Sorry! Got a little distracted…

Back to the firewood…I was chopping this log and it flew into two pieces that went flying thru the air and smacked me in the face! Both pieces! One right above the left eye and one right above the right!  Both were swelling and filling with tears, and one was bleeding! I think I might have yelled something. (It might have been, "Tinaaaaa! Please coooome hooooome!) I went in to check that I didn't need stitches, put a bandaid on it and sighed. 

Next morning, headachy and sore, I plopped in my chair, coffee in hand, and opened to the place I left off…"Let's see…September 22…(BTW, I'm a little behind in the calendar. I think I do it on purpose 'cause I can't take the pressure of staying up with the date!)…Ecclesiates 10:9 says, "Whovever splits logs can be endangered by them!"

Talk about a Scripture smacking you in the face!

Same thing happened a few mornings later (but much less painfully!)…

We had been waiting forever for Emily to hear that two-year old Desi, whom she and Graham have adopted along with his new two-year old brother Quincy, finally was granted his passport from the government of Ghana so they could go to the next step and get visas from the US Embassy in Accra. This has taken FOREVER (almost) and they were stuck until this passport was ready. Sometimes these things have taken weeks and weeks. Emi had to postpone their appointment at the Embassy for two Tuesdays ago (Oct 29) because they hadn't received this passport yet. I was asking God everyday for this. So last Friday, Nov 1…

…coffee in hand, in my chair, opening the One Year Bible to the date for that day, Sept. 27   (I know it's confusing)…Isaiah 6…Isaiah heard angels praising our Lord around His throne, calling "Holy, holy, holy…".  Then in chapter seven, God encouraged a king in a trying situation to trust Him by asking for a sign from Him. 

"A sign? A little something that could encourage me to trust You while I wait for what we need from You? Can I? Would You? I could use one!"

Suddenly on my computer came a praise song…"And we cry, 'Holy, holy, holy!' We cry, 'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord!' " 

I just read that! Is that my sign?!

Chill bumps.

I continued…

You also get a portion from the Psalms every day. That same morning it was Psalm 54…"O God! Listen to the words of my mouth!" 

"Lord, You put that in there! 'Listen to the words of my mouth!' I have some! Listen to them! Will you give us that passport today? Bam! I said it! Desi's passport…today…Friday November 1…You said I could ask with my words! And as far as a sign goes, it would rock! It would help me, I promise!"

Tina, Emi, Desi and Quincy, and the rest of the folks in Ghana are four hours ahead of us. By 4:00 in the afternoon (8:00 pm their time) I hadn't heard anything. "This could take weeks!" I thought. "Weeks more!"

About 5:15 I was driving down Mahoney Rd when I got a text from Graham…

"got it!"

 

November 1, 2013

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

I got some wonderful news!

Jesus the Lord loves you more than you know, and more than you love yourself!!

He has paid for and forgiven you for all of your messes!

He has (and is working out this very second!) an amazing plan for you and for what He is making of you!

And as far as the future goes, the very best is yet to come!

That REALLY is awesome, wonderful news! I am personally waiting for good news about some things in my life but it makes the wait "waitable" just to know that the very best news is the Good News!

It's awesome to have good news to share! 

Like at the Anderson County jail, f'r instance…

We get to tell our brothers in the orange jumpsuits that because of Jesus, they are actually dressed in the robes of His pure righteousness, declared holy and clean in the eyes of God, no matter what their record says!

One fella was talking about how after many years inside, its easy to get used to the jail life and it becomes more difficult to live outside, where everything is so unfamiliar. So we talked about how, if you follow Jesus, He WILL lead you to places that are totally new, unfamiliar, and disorientating! The disciples followed Him and found themselves in storms on the midnight sea, walking on the stormy waves themselves, and in jail for their faith. And for them, jail wasn't familiar, but new!

This dude added that, because of his faith in Jesus…"Yeah, the other day I apologized to a guard because I had smarted off to him. The first time I've ever asked someone's forgiveness in my life." Wow! He's probably 34 or so! Asking forgiveness for the very first time and following Jesus to an unknown world…the Land of Humility!

And when their nasty boloney sandwiches were handed out, the Good News is that there's coming a day when we'll eat and drink together at the scrumptious Supper of the Lamb! 

Bye bye, boloney!

Speaking of having good news to share…

This is really amazing, but someone has told us that they bought an all-expenses paid cruise along the Atlantic Coast  from the Chesapeake Bay to Charleston and then on to the Bahamas, including three nights in Washington DC. Unfortunately, they aren't going to be able to go on the dates, so they'd like to give it away for free to the first folks who can go! All you have to do is call this number: (865) 7…

BEEP! BEEP! BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP! BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP! BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP! BEEEEP! BEEP! BEEP!

WE INTERRUPT THIS CCC EMAIL WITH THIS IMPORTANT NEWS BULLETIN! THIS SUNDAY AT 2:00 A M, DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME ENDS, SO BEFORE YOU GO TO SLEEP ON SATURDAY NIGHT, TURN YOUR CLOCKS BACK ONE HOUR-WE REPEAT, BACK ONE HOUR- AGAIN, THIS SATURDAY NIGHT BEFORE GOING TO BED, YOUR CLOCK GOES BACK ONE HOUR! WE NOW RETURN YOU TO YOUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED EMAIL…  

and it even includes a night in the Lincoln bedroom in the White House! And it's all free! So call the number! But remember, you have to call before 9:30 a m today!

That's lots of good news! Here's some more! So…

 

October 18th, 2013

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

Hope you’re havin’ a week of awesome autumn awesomeness! A week of fantastic fall falliness! A week of the coolest fall coolness! High of 70 today! Don’t you love it?! 

For me, fall is the most colorful time! 

The pumpkins are orange…the leaves are beginning to turn red and yellow…and, as we say, “my grass is blue!” I don’t know why, but in the fall and spring, my heart is just pinin’ for bluegrass music! 

Last Saturday, I went with Mary and the grandkids to the Museum of Appalachia for their fall “Homecoming” Tina's Tuesday weaving friends were demonstrating their ol' timey skills in one of the cabins. I also saw some of the things she'd made before leaving for Africa, among the stuff they were selling. Wasn't exactly emotionally prepared for that! 

Sniff!

Besides that little moment it was all awesomely awesome! Behind every hay stack, every tobacco barn, every kettle of beans, every molasses mashin’ mule, every quilting bee-hive, there was a bluegrass group! There were teen brother-and-sister groups. There were groups of old dudes who made it sloooowly up on to the stage with fiddle in one hand and walking cane in the other…and then…they would TEAR IT UP! It was like bluegrass heaven! Reminded me of Lester Flatt’s famous “I’m Gonna Be in Heaven’s Bluegrass Band!”

I know. I know. The words to those songs are a little corny for some folks. Speaking of corny bluegrass corniness, all you have to do is think of Lester and Earl’s lyrics to the Martha White Flour and Corn Meal jingle…

“Now you bake right (uh-huh) with Martha White (yes, ma'am)

Goodness gracious, good and light, Martha White

For the finest biscuits, cakes and pies,

Get Martha White self-rising flour

The one all-purpose flour,

Martha White self-rising flour's

Got Hot Rise!”

(This is when Earl Scruggs busted out that unbelievable banjo break high up on the 21st fret! He was the best! I miss him!)

Occasionally, bluegrass songs about our faith in Jesus can be a little over the top, corniness-wise. Just take, “Prayer Bells of Heaven” as an example.

“While we are leaving in this world of care,

Many the burdens that we have to bear. 

But there’s a prayer bell at the Lord’s right hand.

Give it a ring and He will understand!

Prayer bells of heaven! Oh how sweetly they ring!
Bearing a message unto Jesus our king!

When you are burdened down with sorrows and care
Ring on and on for God will answer your prayer!”

All you have to do when you’re in trouble is ring the prayer bells of Heaven and call Jesus!

Maybe it sounds corny, but it’s true! Speaking of corny…

Did you hear about the couple that got confused and scared in the corn maze last week? Apparently, Monday evening on a farm in Danvers, Mass., a family had gotten lost in a corn maze (isn’t that kinda the point?) They had only been in it for about 30 feet. That’s when they freaked!! Thankfully, they had…DA DA! Cell phones! They called 911. “"I don't see anybody. I'm really scared. It's really dark and we've got a three-week-old baby with us!!" 

The name of the family wasn’t released (mercifully!) Once they were rescued, the wife told the police, “"We thought this would be fun. Instead it's a nightmare!"

Wow. Take a deep breath, everyone.

It’s not exactly the same as being lost deep in a cave or trapped in a mine or drifting at sea. If you just walk in any direction, you’re gonna get out of a corn maze. Maybe they overreacted. But thankfully, they could give a call! 

Seems kinda silly, really

Seems like me, really.

I know I over-freak-out all the time! When something happens, I so easily feel like I’m shivering in the shadow of impending disaster, when I’m really about as “at risk” as being turned around in a corny ol’ corn maze! 

And my Heavenly Dad is watching me! He sees from above and knows exactly where I am.

And just like that petrified family whipped out those cell phones to call for help, all I have to do is “ring the prayer bells of Heaven!”

“Prayer bells of heaven! Oh how sweetly they ring!
Bearing a message unto Jesus our king!
When you are burdened down with sorrows and care
Ring on and on for God will answer your prayer!”

Corny, but true!

 

 

October 4th, 2013

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

Turn in your Bibles please, to…let's see…Philippians chapter four…verses…uh…sixteen through…um…twenty….(flip flip flip flip…oops…too far…flip flip…there!)…

Let's read together. Ready?

"…You sent me aid more than once when I was in need. Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus!"

I love the Paul's letter to the Philippians! It's so full of joy! I think the word "joy!" or "rejoice!" are in those four short chapters like, twelve times! For a brother having tons of problems, that's a truckload of joy! Paul was locked up for his faith at the time…You usually don't find that much happiness at the circus, let alone in jail!

One of the reasons he had so much of it was that he was thankful! In fact, Philippians is basically a "thank you" card. They had sent Paul gifts of money for all that he would need for his travels to share Jesus  everywhere, and now for all he would need in prison (in those days, you were kind of on your own for food and stuff, even in prison!) 

Their gifts and help not only put food in his face, but also a smile on it! "Thanks, Lord Jesus, that they care! Not only about me, but even more than that, they care about what I'm doing! They know it matters more than anything! In a world of hostility and indifference, there are hearts that beat with what moves Yours!"

If Paul could take space in the New Testament to thank faithful folks, I think it's OK to take the Friday C3 email  to say, "Thanks!!!" to my Triple C family!

You all gave so much from your hearts to help my kids in Africa! As most of y'all know, Emily and Graham have had on their hearts for so long to give a home and family to two of the 134,000,000 orphans all over the world who wouldn't and won't have a future unless someone cares. With fees and flights and now months in Africa, this is a super expensive mission for them and along with their hearts, they have given all they have to it. And now, you've helped them! Along with the easing of the burden, it is a gift that gives in many, many more ways! It has given them inestimable encouragement! 

To know that others understand what they are doing…And what God has called them to…

And to know that others care about this! 

And about them! 

And about their boys! 

And about the other 133,999,998 orphans in the world who are without a home…or family …or food …or love ...or a future.

One thing that people usually notice and comment about in their travels throughout the world is that different countries have "new" smells. Sometimes the smells are strange. Lots of times they're yucky. But Paul told his Philippians friends and family that their gift to him…or rather, gift FOR him, but given TO God!…was a sweet and beautiful sacrifice. And just like in days of old, the smoke from an offering of love and devotion to our Lord wafts heavenward and…mmmm!…it's a "a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God!"

Because of you, from Tennessee and West Africa there is something that smells…Ahhhh! Beautiful! To Him!

For all of you who have prayed…

given…

cared…

loved our kids…

and their kids…

Thank you!

 

September 27th, 2013

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

Hope your day is going awesomely! Hope you're having a day that is just almost everything you'd hoped it would be! And even if it's not…or rather, especially if it's not! (I'll explain in a minute!)…you may be having a day that is more important than you thought you'd have!

Like this past Tuesday night at 7:10 pm (central time)…8:10 pm (our time)…

Lee, Pottsie, our own Bill Reazer (the Young Life regional director for half of Missouri and one of our amazing missionaries at Triple C and one of our dearest friends) were in our front row seats in center field at Busch Stadium for a game between the St Louis Cardinals and the Washington DC Nationals…

We'd been planning this for a while! It was a huge day for us just because we love to be together, hang out, laugh our heads off, and encourage each other! We left in the dark and were driving by the Arch, the Gateway  to the West, by lunchtime! We spent the afternoon like we thought we would (see above…the part about "being together, hanging out, laughing our heads off,encouraging each other") About 5:30 or so, we walked on over to the ball park. Very cool just to be there! I thought it would be fun and all to be at such a beautiful park and watch a game. Being a Braves fan, I was a little conflicted about the whole "root, root, root for the home team…" thing. But we settled in to take in the sights, sounds and smells of my second time to see a big league game…

I thought that, with the season almost over, things would be already sorted out for the play-offs and that the game wouldn't really matter. Sure, it'd be fun to spend the evening in the bleachers, chattin' it up, with the game and the couple of thousand fans as background. Turns out that unlike the Braves, the Cards hadn't yet won their division. This game was huge for them! By the second inning, there wasn't a seat without a rear end in it! 40,000 Cards fans with a dozen or so Nats fans sprinkled in! And then something else happened!

The Cards pitcher was a young guy they'd added to the roster just a few weeks before from their minor league team. "He must be sooo nervous", I thought. Wrong! He was cool, fast, and awesome! After nine strikes outs, I told Pottsie in the sixth inning, "This is a no-hitter so far!"

A no-hitter in baseball is when the pitcher throws so well that no one on the other team can get on base by hitting the ball. It's only happened 281 times in history! A pitcher's chances of doing it in any given game is thirteen in a million!

Anyway, this kid, Michael Wacha, just kept throwing strikes and "sitting guys down", as they say…six…seven…eight innings of it! Pottsie thought the Cards manager (coach) might pull him out of the game because he started to get a little pooped and have some trouble finding the strike zone. But in the ninth…when he came out for his last inning, the place went WILD! We were all on our feet! Screaming!…clapping….booing the ump every time he said, "Ball one!" But when he turned to his right and pointed that finger and bellowed, "STEEEEEERRRRIIIIKKKKEEEE!", we all went nuts-o!! Even Braves fans!…

The first batter grounded out to the shortstop!

One away!

"Yaaaahhhhhh!", we all said.

Second batter got "caught looking" at the third strike!

"STEEEEEERRRRRIIIIKKKKEEEE!", said the ump.

"Yaaaaaahhhhhhh!!!!!", we all said.

And then we all knew something (if we hadn't before)…

We thought we were just going to a game and having some fun, passing some time at "America's pastime"….

But suddenly, this had become an important moment!

The third batter hit a line drive back to the pitcher, who knocked the ball down so that the shortstop couldn't get there in time to make a good throw to first, and the Nats got a single. 

And the pitcher lost his dream. Only twenty one rookie have ever pitched a no-hitter. 

He wouldn't be twenty two.

We all stood and cheered anyway. Some among us even puddled up a little. I won't say who. 

"Ahhhh. He almost did it!" we said.

Dang.

Y'know I think this might happen more than we know. There's a verse in Paul's letter that he wrote to the new Christians in a Macedonian city, that goes like this:

"Do everything without grumbling or arguing,Then you will shine among them like stars…in a warped and crooked generation.” (Phillippians 2:14)

Wow! All you have to do to shine your light in this dark, mean world is to NOT do something! If you don't complain and grump about things…about your life or your day or your mate or your kids or your stuff or your lack of stuff or your lack of a mate or anything…if you have a "no-grumper"…if you can go all day without griping about one thing (it hasn't happened often in major league history!)…all because you're convinced that Jesus is so amazing and awesome and strong and filled with love for you…if you can do this one thing…or better, NOT do this one thing…you'll be the newest star! A star in a dark night!

And even if you think no one is watching or not hearing your non-grumpiness, Paul says they are! He wrote (and Peter confirms it in his letter!) that angels are watching and learning about the love of God from you and your attitude! And if you've made it through most of a day without grumbling, grumping, or griping even once, they start to whisper. "We may be about to see a no-grumper!"

"Really?!"

This has become an important moment!

"Don't worry, hon! I'll do the dishes…"

"Yaaaaahhhhhhhh!!!!!!"

"How was my day? Well, I had some moments but I'm not complaining! I know God's working stuff out…"

"Yaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!"

"Why do I have to always take out the stupid dog? She hardly ever does…"

"Ahhhhh! He almost did it."

Dang.

That's it for sports!

 

September 20th, 2013

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

What an awesome day! Sun's just comin' up and the farm chores are done! The goats and the chickens have goat and chicken food respectively…fresh water all around…eggs are gathered…This can only mean one thing!…

Tina's in Africa again! 

After thirty moves in our life together, she is sooo content with our little ol' farm house down in the "Springs"! She is crazy about this country living! And I'm crazy about her so…it all works out perfectly! But normally, I'm not that involved in what goes on out there in the barnyard. So when she leaves the USA, she has to teach me the morning and evening routine all over again…"Let's see if I can remember this…Goats get a cup of this each…check their hay, too!…Dog (and what's our dog's name again?) gets three cups of that…and chickens need me to check their chicken feed every other day…"  But after about four or five days, as Loretta Lynn used to sing, "When you're lookin' at me, you're lookin' at country!"

I do learn a lot every time I'm running' the farm. Take my chickens…(please!)…

Did you know chickens, when they're "on a roll", lay an egg per day? The world record is seven in one day! And chickens have a certain little cheerful specific "cluck" just for the egg-layin' occasion! Altho' I bet when that one hen was on her fourth or fifth of her seven-eggs streak, she sound more like Maria Sharapova hitting a baseline forehand!

Some chickens lay their eggs in little groups and some like to be alone and do it privately. I totally understand. I couldn't imagine doing that in front of anyone. I'd probably ask for anesthesia…

Different kinds of chickens lay different colored eggs. For example, Buff Orpingtons lay brown eggs, Leghorns lay white eggs and Ameraucanas, green or blue eggs.Experts say that as a general rule, the egg color matches the color of the chickens earlobe. And good luck finding that!

And chickens can lay eggs that are different sizes. Some days, they give one that looks like it came out of a sparrow. Other days it looks like it's straight out of the goose! And some times the egg can slip out before the shell is fully cooked.  It's the weirdest thing! Once one of ours was just walking around, gave a little shutter, and the egg popped out! But the shell was like jello. All wobbly and wiggly! And it can happen periodically in the life of a chicken. First time I saw it I thought, "How did I get this far in my life and not know this could happen?"

Here's another fact.There are more chickens in the world than humans.

Here's one fact that you know, but 'til you're hang ing around with them, you probably don't think about…Chickens don't have arms. They have wings but they don't work well. The world record is only thirteen seconds for a chicken flight! And even tho' you can order "chicken fingers" for lunch, chickens don't have hands either. I also have noticed this about bass, trout, and other fish. Fish don't have hands or arms either. Think of all the things chickens can't do! They can't reach up and pick bugs off of leaves. They can't punch a menacing cat in the face. They can't hold and cuddle a new-born or sick chick. 

They can't defend themselves or feed themselves or care for themselves, really. These days, they wouldn't make it without me.

That's a scary thought!

You'd think they'd like me better than they do. Chickens are about the grumpiest birds of all. They never say, "Thanks!" They never seem happy to see me or be with me. And yet, they couldn't make it without me! It hurts my feelings a little bit.

I'm not like a chicken in many ways. I don't eat bugs. I don't lay eggs. I do have arms and hands. 

But I am like them in this. Tho' I have arms and not almost-useless wings, I can't really protect myself. Or provide for myself. I need my Dad in Heaven every moment of every day! I need  Him to care for me…to give me the things I can't live without…to get me through the day! 

I need God desperately! 

To hear me!

To answer me!

To give me things!

To have mercy on me!

I love His promise to me, His little chick…"Open wide your mouth and I will fill it!" (Psalm 80)

I know I have arms and hands, but the best thing I do with them is to hold them up to Him like a little child and say, "Help me! Catch me! Hold me!"

I'm finding I'm not like chickens in some ways. I'm like them in other ways, like my neediness and helplessness. 

Chickens are grumpy and ungrateful. Whether or not I'll be like them in this, I guess is up to me. 

Y'know that old question about the chicken or the egg? I don't know the answer to that one but every day how I answer the question, "Which comes first, the chicken or the child?" is up to me!

 

September 13th, 2013

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

Hope you're having an awesome day! It's early and I'm sitting here by my window, sipping coffee, and thankful that the weather is just so…one sec… lemme look…dark! Wow! It's still super dark out there! 

That's one thing about the weather at night! You can count on it! When the weather guy talks about the day ahead, he or she might say, "Today will be partly sunny…" or "Today will be sunny in the morning and then clouds roll in by about four or four thirty for your drive home…" But at night, it's easier to predict. "It'll be dark tonight with 100% chance of darkness every night this week…" 

If I was a weather guy I'd switch from predicting the daytime to the nighttime! I'd be right all the time!

Only thing…most folks are more interested in the daytime weather because at night, they're just not out as much. You can see a whole lot more stuff in the daytime! In fact, at night, you're not really sure what you're looking at!

Like the other morning…

I had just left my house for an early morning jog. And it was early! It was so early that it was totally dark! On my early morning route the road winds thru the woods for the first half  mile or so. Its super dark in those woods! I just sing praises and pray out loud for stuff. The squirrels and possums must think, "Wow! Here comes that kooky human again!" All of the sudden, my heart jumped! There were two eyes shining in the dark at me! Right down on the road! At least I thought they were eyes…

"What is it?! Is a skunk about to ruin my next three days?! Is a raccoon about to rip my shoe off?! I hear they're cute but ferocious! Is it a bobcat!? They call 'em the 'Oliver Springs Bobcats' for a reason! Maybe this is the reason! Somebody once showed me a website called sasquatchwatch where they document Big Foot sightings and there was one confirmed down here a few years ago! Is it a yeti?! A little low to the ground…but maybe it's asleep…Or is it waking up!? Is it looking at me!?"

It might surprise you (or not!) to learn that it wasn't any of those. In fact, I'm still not sure what those two glowing lights were. But soon I realized that there were dozens…maybe hundreds…of them! All over! But they were only on the road and not in the grass. And only on the road that passed through the woods. Before and after the woods, they're weren't any. They were like lightning bugs that were just still. No moving and no blinking on and off. Just glowing. Amazingly, since it was so dark, and it could've been easy to run off the road into ditch on one side or into the trees on the other,  they helped me know where to step. They kinda lighted my way. I got the feeling that they are something glowing that fell out of trees. I've heard of glowing moss, I think. I also got the feeling that it might have been something from God…

To help me find my way in a dark place.

It's weird how, when you suddenly see something in the dark and you're not sure what it might be, it's easy to imagine…and quickly convince yourself…that it's something scary or threatening. It's so easy to imagine that when you're unsure of what you see ahead, at least you're sure it's not good.

I think that's how scary movies have always made so much money. "Imagine you're in a dark place alone. You hear a noise. You think you might have seen something moving. In your mind, you imagine the worst. Let us show you how horrible and terrifying what you imagined, really is!"

Why is it so easy to think the unknown or uncertain is certainly bad? Are we expecting something bad? 

Some might be.

In Paul's letter that he wrote to the people of Galatia, he really poured it on in every way to tell them the Awesome News that we are loved, totally forgiven of all forever, and totally accepted, welcomed, wanted and cherished in Jesus! And it has NOTHING to do with anything we've ever done or do that is good…in order to to earn this, because we never could!… or anything we've ever done or do that's bad …so that we might somehow lose it, because we can't!  It has nothing to do with our doing good or obeying God's rules! It's a total and complete gift! You can't earn it by being good or lose it by being bad! 

In fact, he wrote that if you think it's up to you to earn or keep God's gift by behaving, even in some corner of your mind, it's a curse! It's like you feel cursed! You're always looking and waiting for something bad to happen. This is because you know in your deepest heart that you haven't been consistently good enough to earn or keep anything good from God! You feel doomed to have bad stuff happen. You feel deep down inside that you deserve bad stuff to happen tho you. As soon as you see or hear a sound that you're not sure about, you think, "There it is! A skunk! Or I'm getting fired! Or I have a rare brain eating bacteria! Or it's Sasquatch!"

And the imagination runs wild!

In that same chapter of Galatians, Paul added that we actually have the certain and positively amazing blessings and benefits that God promised long ago, just by believing in Jesus! The same ones He promised to old Abraham centuries ago! "I will surely bless you! I swear by My own Name that I will!", He said! In another place, Paul said He puts and arranges everything that He makes happen to you…or allows to happen to you…into a perfect mixture so that you can say over it all, "This is good! This is God working, giving, and loving me!" As Isaiah says, "Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool!" Big Foot's got nuttin'! God's feet fill the whole world!

He has promised blessing to you that you could never earn or keep! But they are yours! 

When you see or think you see…and hear or think you hear…something in the dark, instead of imagining that it is something scary or bad that you deserve, why not imagine that it's some blessing that you don't deserve but that is yours?

Even if it's hard, He is making it into something good! He can! 

Always!

It's not Sasquatch waking up after all!

Maybe God is lighting the road ahead!

 

August 30th, 2013

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

Hope you're having an awesome day! It is gonna be awesome today! Todd the weather guys said that…(ding!) Sorry…hang on one second…Todd said that today was gonna start out…(ding!)…hold on…lemme check this real quick…Could y'all give me a sec. I need to answer this. It'll just take a minute…aaaand "send"…there! Y'know, as I was saying, it's almost "Football Time in Tennessee!!" We're all so pumped! And with football, as you well know, there also comes…(dong dong DONG dong…dong dong DONG dong)…Oh. Sorry. that's my phone. I thought I put it on vibrate…um…Could y'all hold on? I need to get this. It might be important….Hello?…Hey! What's up?…Really?…No way!…They did?…That's awesome!…Huh? I can't believe that!…Listen, when it's done, can you call me or text me?…Thanks! See ya, dude. Bye!…

I'm back. Sorry, folks! I'd been waiting for that call. Let's see…As I was saying…Actually, I don't remember what I was saying. Man! It seems like that happens to me a lot! With my phone in my pocket now, instead of screwed into the wall of my house where it used to be back in ancient times, and with all the texts and tweets and dinging and donging, I can't hardly keep my mind focused on much! I'm finding out that in our world of multi-tasking and trying to do two or three things at once (talk to someone, check my emails, order movie tickets online, and drive simultaneously) I'm not super good at doing any of them! 

In fact, new research is showing that (ding!)…Sorry….uh…one sec…let's see…"send"…um…research is showing that folks who think they're good at multi-tasking, really aren't! A professor at Stanford says…Lemme see…google search…stanford…professer…professor…clifford…nass…there!…"The research is almost unanimous, which is very rare in social science, and it says that people who chronically multitask show an enormous range of deficits. They're basically terrible at all sorts of cognitive tasks, including multitasking…"

The main problem is that when people try to do too many things at once, the brain can't tell which one matters most! Professor Nass says, "People who multitask all the time can't filter out irrelevancy….They're chronically distracted. They initiate much larger parts of their brain that are irrelevant to the task at hand….They're suckers for irrelevancy. They just can't keep on task….All because they have been multitasking, they've lost that ability to focus on one thing…So they're pretty much mental wrecks!"

Yikes! That sounds terrible! I think (done dong Dong…)…I can't deal with that right now…I think it might be affecting our ability to know what really matters!

One time, Jesus and His guys were having a time of dealing with a ton of things at once. They were having discussions on diet and nutrition, having to help loads of hungry people, there were healings to do, and opposition to face. It seemed like a crazy time for them! 

So Jesus invited three of them to get away. They went up on a mountain where no one could find them. Some believe that where they went was a hill in the NE corner of the Valley of Jezreel, about seven miles from Nazareth, and I bet it doesn't have satellite phone coverage even today! So no tweets, texts or incoming calls. No people…no yelling for help or asking for stuff... It was quiet, dark, and still. A silent night, holy night. All was calm…And suddenly…

All was bright!!

Jesus began to…glow! Matthew says that "His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light!"

Mark adds, " His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them!"

Wow! Jesus gloriously glowing! Chasing away all darkness! 

I'm sure those guys were on their faces, shaking and praising!

I'll bet they had…(ding!)…I'm ignoring that…nothing on their minds but Him and His awesome amazingness! To be with Him! Alone with Him in His glory! What privilege! What wonder! What could ever measure up to that? 

Our Lord prepared them for this moment. He had said to them about a week before that they were about to "see the Kingdom of God". To be alone with Jesus in all His glory-this IS the Kingdom of God! 

In our world of tweets and plinks and plunks, texts and tocks, and "please leave a message!"s and "I'll get back to you as soon as I can!"s and instagrams and google search, and trying to do it all at once and at times able to finish or focus on none of it… 

It's NEVER been so important to find some time and be alone with the King in His glory and listen to no one else! 

And to do nothing else!

And be with no one else! 

And talk for a few minutes… 

or more…

to no one else…

but Him!

To have a few moments enjoying with Him the Kingdom of God!

In our tweeting texting world, where it's more and more difficult to feel what is worth giving your attention to…

Nothing matters more!

August 23rd, 2013

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

What an awesome day today’s gonna be! You can KNOW that no matter what you go through today, God’s there for you! Here’s how you can be sure of it…

Acts 14. 17 says, “…God has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven, he provides you with plenty of food and…and fills your hearts with joy."

Did you get that? You can know He’s there for you because He sends “rain from heaven”! It’s a testimony to His love and faithfulness! 

Listen to this awesome forecast…

“More showers are likely today...Mostly cloudy skies with scattered showers developing from late morning through mid-afternoon as a frontal boundary approaches.  A few spotty showers are still possible Friday evening

It’s gonna be an awesome day!

And if you’re not having an awesome day…

if it’s just a tough one…

if you’re struggling to get through it…

if you feel weighed down with more than you can deal with…

why not stop right now, right where you are, and take these simple steps…

Step 1) Take a deep breath…

Step 2) Read these words: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you!!” (1 Pet 5.6-7)

Step 3) Read them again…

Step 4) And again…

Step 5) One more time…with feeling!

Step 6) Try to figure out specifically what it is that is weighing on you, bothering you, worrying you…I have several, personally, top-of-the-list being a daughter in Africa trying to get their boys home…

Step 7) Do what Peter says! Cast that trouble, anxiety, bother, problem, whatever… on Him! “Cast” is the same word translated “throw upon” in Luke 19.35…When Jesus was almost to Jerusalem, and got ready to ride a donkey into town, ”they threw their cloaks on the colt”…

Whatever is bothering you…throw it on Him! Say to Him, “Here it is. I don’t know what to do about it. I can’t solve it, resolve it, fix it, or make it go away. I’m giving this problem to You. You take it!”

Seven easy steps to a more awesomer (“awesomer”?) day! Aren’t you glad you get your weekly Triple C email?

While we’re on the subject…

I was reading this book where this dude wrote that he himself was also reading a book. The book he was reading was on prayer. The book he was writing that I was reading…in which he talked about this book he was reading…was also about prayer. (Man! That got complicated in a hurry!) Anyhooo…

He said that in this book he was reading, the author said that you shouldn’t pray about trivial things like parking places, as in, “God, give me a parking space.”

He told this to his mom, who after raising five kids, went to be a missionary in the slums of Uganda and Dublin, and who at 82, was living in London, reaching out to South Asian women, still a full-time missionary. 

He shared this author’s feeling about trivial prayers… Her answer? 

“How you supposed to find a parking place?”

August 16th, 2013

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!
 
Hope you're having an awesome week! Especially because today is gonna be…hang on one sec…Let's see…w…b…i…r…dot…com…(scrolling…scrolling…) Bam!
 
"More clouds today with a chance of a few pop up showers in the afternoon. Winds will still be light from the north around 5 - 10 mph. Highs will only reach near 81 degrees…"
 
Won't be too hot today! With just a few chances of showers! Not bad at all!
 
I love how you can just look stuff up on the computer now! Got a question? Google the answer! 
 
"Who was the eleventh President of America?"
James K Polk!
 
"Who invented bubble gum?"
"…In 1928, Walter Diemer invented the successful pink colored Double Bubble, bubble gum…"
 
"Why does the moon look bigger at the horizon than up in the sky?"
"Actually the image of the moon in our eyes are identical regardless of whether it is high up or low down but because the moon at the horizon seems to be closer to Earth our brains interpret the moon as looking bigger.

Apparently if you turn with your back to the moon, bend forward and look at it through your legs, because you see everything upside down, your distance clues are all gone and the moon looks its normal size. …"

Amazing! It's like you don't even need a brain anymore! You just need google, when you used to use your noodle!

Yesterday I had to know how many ounces in a cup. 

Eight! 

(Unless you're talking about a British imperial cup, which is ten. But I never talk about those!)

I did have a question someone asked me this week that I had to think about. The internet didn't help…at all! 

A guy I knew from Young Life work in Germany is moving to California. Because he is gonna be looking for one, he wanted to know what makes a church a good church.

"Wow!" I thought. I don't really know! I'm always in one, so strangely, I never think about it! It's like asking a large-mouth bass, "How's the water?" He's always in it so he doesn't really know. But I thought about it…

Here's what I wrote…

"Hey, Scott!

Wow! It was so cool to hear from you! It's awesome that you're going to school! I knew you had a heart to learn and study that was unstoppable! 

Man! That was a humongous question you asked me! What makes a good church? I don't know much about churches and what they do because i'm always at one and don't get to see others! (I hear stuff tho'…)
 
Let's say that you're looking at churches and you've already made sure that the ones you're checking out are theologically sound and healthy...
 
I think if I were looking for a church, I would ask, "What if this church were a person? Would I like this person? Would I consider this person a healthy, helpful brother or sister in Christ? Would this person be a good friend?"
 
Here's an example of what I mean…
 
I think that usually, churches start with the idea that they are going to serve people with the love of Jesus. That's why they started.  "This church exists to help and serve you." Sometimes, at some point tho', there's a shift. Or a switch. All of the sudden…or maybe subtlety…because someone has a "vision of what God is calling us to be" , you exist to serve that church! Or you are there to share in achieving this "vision". It all started with the idea that the church was there for you, but now you're there for it! In the end, the person sacrifices and serves the church, with its programs and goals, rather than the church and those who work there serving and sacrificing themselves for the people who come to it. 
 
Everyone is having a hard time in life. The church is there to make life better and more full of Jesus for the folks who go to it. Those who go there should feel this! The church isn't there to use people, suck their life and energy, and make their life more stressed. 
 
If that church were a person…a person who sees you as someone to use and exploit for his or her dreams and ambitions, rather than a person who loves and serves you, and lives to make your life and walk lighter and sweeter…would you want that person for a friend?
 
Here's what the apostle Paul said…"But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us." (1 Thes 2:7-8)
 
If I were looking for a church, I'd ask…What do they talk about? If you go to a church and they talk a lot about themselves…and what they going to do next…If the Sundaymessages are often about the next thing, or new plans they have for reorganizing or reaching their community, instead of talking about Jesus and Who He is, and how He loves, and what He can do for you in the life and walk you have, I don't think that's good. If you hear the church's name all the time…If their website is a lot about what they've been doing, or plan to do next, or how awesome they are, or how "real and authentic" they are, this doesn't seem healthy to me. When we were missionaries and returned home for a few months periodically, it seemed that some churches and their pastors were always preaching about their church and "what we're going to do now". I thought, "If I went here consistently, I'd be starving!" I used to wonder about some single mom, sitting out there, who is struggling to make it thru the week…maybe wondering if she matters to Jesus at all…especially if she doesn't have the energy for the latest push or the next thing the pastor's promoting.
 
If that church were a person…who always talks about themselves all the time, instead of who Jesus is and why He's awesome…instead of listening to you some…would you be friends with that person?
 
" For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake." (2 Cor 4:5)
 
Is the church generous? Do they give a lot of money away? Do they give lots of  money to support people who are out there where they never could be, reaching people for Jesus? Do they give money away to the poor? Or do they spend almost all of their money on themselves? Their programs? Their buildings? Their school? Sending their own people on weeklong mission trips? Many churches give away less than 2% of their budgets to missionaries or to help the poor. 
 
What if that were a person? What if a person gave away less than 2% of his money and spent the rest on himself or herself? Would this be a person I would want to know better and to follow? 
 
"So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?" (luke 16:11)
 
Followers of Jesus are supposed to be real servants of people. They are supposed to be humble, gentle, and kind. They are supposed to be generous and giving. So are churches!!
 
I'd look for a gentle, sweet, humble, servant-ish, generous one!
 
Well, there you go! I guess I had more to say about that than I thought! Let me know what you think!…
 
A million blessings!
 
Tom"
 
And then I wondered…
 
I know these are our goals…to be this way, but...Are we that way?
 
If Triple C were a person, would you want to be friends with him or her?
 
Will you tell us if and/or when we're not? We don't want to subtly switch or shift. Will you tell us if we do? We're counting on you to help us be and stay this way.
 
Those of us fish swimming around here all the time don't know what the water's like…because we live in it!
 
Splish! Splash!

August 9th, 2013

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

Hope you're having a heart filled with praise on this rainy day! Today and tomorrow, you might want to sing to yourself that praise song that says, "Grace like rain falls down on me!" My weather guys says…

Wait a sec! I wasn't gonna start with the weather today. I'm gonna start with sports!

"Fourteen in a row!"

Need I say more?

I know you're as excited as we are in our household to see if our very own Atlanta Braves make it fourteen straight wins tonite! It's all coming together on Turner Field! …Striking out less…Jay Hey and B.J. are finally hitting the ball well…and the young pitchers! Wow!

Altho' one of them seemed to temporarily lose his skills on the mound for a just a brief moment the other night. Julio Teheran was "enfuego" all game, throwing sliders and heaters past batters…All was well until he threw one pitch a little too high and a little too over the plate to Bryce Harper, who sent that one soaring over the fence for a homer. It was such a beauty of a home run that the batter stood and admired the lovely, arching flight of the ball as it sailed out of sight, before he started trotting around the bases. Inexplicably, the next time he came to bat, Julio momentarily seemed to have lost his brilliant accuracy from the mound and a fast ball hit Harper directly in the left…uh…"backstop"!

Harper was super upset and "shared a piece of his mind he couldn't afford to lose!" Teheran is from Colombia and I'm not sure his English is good enough to understand everything that was said. But, Hey! Sometimes, for whatever reason, you're just not perfect with every pitch! Calm down, Bryce!

But one time, there was a pitcher for the Pittsburg Pirates who just woke up terrible! Steve Blass had been amazing all thru the '71 and '72 seasons and the  All-Star was probably considered the best pitcher in the game going into the '73 season.

Then the season '73 started. And Blass started…to stink! He was terrible! For no reason, he suddenly just couldn't throw the baseball where he wanted. He could've found the lost continent of Atlantis easier than the strike zone! In '72 he struck out three batters for every base-on-balls; in '73 in was the opposite! Three walks for every strike out! His earned-run-average went from 2.49 (really good!) to 9.85 (shooooooooey!!) That's like Tiger Woods shooting a round of 113 in the Master's! Or Peyton throwing eleven interceptions and two completions. Or Michael Phelps in the 200 butterfly, swallowing water, choking and gagging on it, and having to get pulled out by a lifeguard!

There was no explanation for why, all the sudden, he just wasn't good at it anymore!

Finally, in a game against the Braves, Blass came to the mound in the fifth and in an inning and a half, gave up five hits, seven runs, six walks, with three wild pitches! Shooooooooey!

After that game, they flew to Cincinnati for the next game on the schedule and Steve didn't even sleep in the hotel. He just walked the streets of Cincinnati 'til sunrise, wondering what had happened to him.

He'd lost it. And it never came back. He was done.

Today, when a person who is awesome at something, suddenly, inexplicably, and overnight loses that skill, and is terrible at something he or she rocked at,  they call it "Steve Blass Disease".

Ever worried about that? You're doing awesomely at something that really matters to you…and to God. Maybe it's fighting off temptations that have "sunk your battleship" your whole life…or learning a whole new way to talk to those you love that they've been waiting for you to learn for years…or having sweet times with Jesus when no one else is around and it's giving you new confidence and a hopeful, worry-free heart…

…Until one day…

Suddenly, you're back to that sassy mouth…or forgetting Jesus…or feeling polluted by a string of failures and flops in something you thought lived in your ancient past.

"Have I lost it? Was my progress all in my imagination? Am I doomed to be what I've always been and always hated? Do I have spiritual Steve Blass Disease?"

No, you don't.

Maybe it's a "rough patch". Maybe you haven't strung together many good days all in a row lately. But you can't lose these skills and desires for a new way to be! God won't let it happen! Check these!

"He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ!" (1 Corinthians 1)

"You, by faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time!" (1 Pet 1)

" To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy!" (Jude 24)

"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ!"

Or, as another version puts it, "There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears!" (Philippians 1)

He's the one Who gave you a new heart with new powers and longings! In fact, you have these desires and hopes to be different from what you've always been because He lives there in your heart now! You're heart is His home! And He has the home field advantage!

Don't be afraid! If you fall, fail and/or sin, you can be super sad and sorry. But you don't have to be afraid! In the light of eternity, it's just a slump! He is going to keep you and keep you growing!

As if says in the Book of Hebrews, "So we say with confidence, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid!' "

Or as Paul says, "Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold!...Therefore we don't lose heart!…Therefore we are always confident!"

Or as they say at Turner Field, home of the Braves, "That's why we chop!"

That's sports!

August 2nd, 2013

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

Hope you're having an awesome day! I really hope your day is filled with thanks! And if it got started just a little quicker than you were ready for, and it's gotten a little away from you, and you realized just a little bit ago that you're a little grumpier and/or flustered than you had planned to be by this time in your Friday, you can fix it!

Why not just declare a three minute vacation? 

"What do I do with my three-minute vacation?"

Thanks for asking! First off, you know how when you go on vacation, it always takes a little bit to get in "vacation mode"? Well, during the first minute of your vaca, write down four reasons you have right now to be thankful.

During the second minute, just thank God for those four things. It should take about fifteen seconds per thing.

During the last minute, just relax in the joy of a thanks-filled heart! For one whole  minute. 

Wow! As far as vacations go, that was convenient, quick, and cheap! 

Since I'm giving out free advice, here's some more you may one day thank me for…

The biggest mistake folks make when mowing the grass is setting the mower too low! You really only need to take off one third of the blade of grass! It leaves your individual blades healthier! You should probably set your mower to the highest setting possible.

Did you know your mower blade is circling at about 200 mph? Going that fast, it's chopping up the clippings into tiny, little pieces…If you don't bag 'em and let 'em just fall back down on your yard, you give nitrogen back to your soil. Over the summer, it's about the same as fertilizing a whole other time!

I guess I'm telling y'all this because I just love mowing! I'd come mow your yard if you needed me to! There's not many jobs that, once you've done it, it's just…done! And it looks done!

If you're a teacher, at the end of the day, you may ask yourself, "Does he REALLY understand compound fractions? Does she REALLY understand why Beowulf changed all of literature?"

I know doctors must go home wondering, "Well, I told him he needs four to five times of exercise per week…Do I really think that's gonna happen?"

To be perfectly honest about it…Even with my job…If I go up and pray for someone who's really sick in the hospital, if they get better by God's goodness, it's not usually that second. They usually don't beat me to the exit on my way out…

But when you mow the yard, BAM! Done! And looking awesome!

I have three separate patterns I use on my yard. I pick the pattern I want when I start, depending on how I feel at the time. (I actually didn't realize that about myself until this very moment!) Once I start, I don't have to think about where I am 'til I'm done.

I have a new blessing I've added to the overall mowing experience recently. I just realized a few months ago that I can listen to audiobooks on my iPhone with earbuds during the mow! Now, I can learn stuff as well as enjoy the time I spend pacing up and down the yard! Who knew there was a way to make mowing even more enjoyable?! 

The other day, I was mowing and listening to a book by one of my heroes, British Anglican, John R. W.  Stott. The book is called, "Why I Am a Christian". In it, Pastor Stott explains why it is philosophically and historically logical and reasonable to believe that Jesus is the One He claimed to be. The pastor's thinking and reasoning  is wonderfully simple and beautifully arranged. But, frankly, these were arguments that I've thought through many, many times. I knew in my heart where he was going to go next and what he would present after that. 

Listening to this book was kind of like mowing the grass. I was going down rows and patterns I've walked over tons of times.

At one point, he was explaining that one of the reasons it is sensible to believe that Jesus is the One He claimed to be, is that Jesus said amazing things about Himself…things that no ordinary person would ever say unless he or she was unbelievably conceited or nuts…yet He still had astounding humility. "In the upper room before He died, He said He was their Lord, their master and judge of all, but He took a towel and washed their feet like a common slave. Is this not unique in the history of the world?…Why am I a Christian? It is because of the paradox of Jesus Christ…He who claimed to be His disciples' Lord humbled Himself to be their servant."

This is such a wonderful reasoning!

I've heard and read this millions of times before. But somehow, it was exactly what I needed to hear and think about in that moment! I could feel myself kinda "puddle up" as I heard Simon Vance read those words with his impeccable British English.

For the reason I just heard…and for many, many more…it totally makes sense to believe that Jesus is Lord of all and King over everything! And I really needed to remember that!

As you know, my youngest is in Africa with one of her best friends, Janet (she made it!), trying to get all the documents they need to bring Emily and Graham's new adopted babies home. It is a long, frustrating, risky, intense quest. There have been dangers and joys, disappointments and set-backs and miracles. But the temptation is always to become discouraged. It's a new, unexplored and uncharted journey for everyone. And on that day, while mowing the grass, as my heart was being tugged down toward discouragement about everything, an old, simple, familiar, well-worn and well-learned thought rescued me. 

"It just makes sense that Jesus is the One He said! He IS Lord of everything! He's is Lord of all this world and everything in it!" 

And it just makes sense to trust Him! For Emily and Graham...and for Janet's trip… and for Des and Quince…and for documents… and for African courts…and for news of possible malaria…and to  trust Him Who claims and proved to be Lord of all, for all the other problems and situations none of us have ever faced before! 

When you're in the scary and the unknown, the confusing and the unexplored, the best thing you can possible do is to remember things about Jesus that are simple, familiar and true.

You think, "With everything I don't know right now, at least I know THIS is true!"

It's like when you you're having a frustrating day of things you can't solve, fix, or finish…

Go home and mow your yard. And think, "Well, at least THAT'S done!"