Hope you’re having an awesome day!
Because you sure had an awesome night!
What a Christmas dinner you gifted to 170 men desperately in need of Christmas cheer!
“Christmas in the Morgan County Prison!”…
Not exactly “Christmas in Rockefeller Plaza”…It was better!
350 lbs of delicious Dicky Jenkins smoked turkey!
Steamy mashed potatoes, stuffing, beans!
All prepared and served with so much Triple C love!
And we needed sweets, brownies, cookies for all 170 of them…and Tina counted each one to makes sure there’d be enough…
I think 1500(!!!) was enough!!
You all are so amazing! When we need help to give love and care to those without these, you have never failed!
How I thank God for our Triple C family!!
(Btw, they ate them all!)
And then they sang our carols…
and laughed as Thomas and Lee hammed up a hilarious skit…
and more than one hummed a warm “Amen” and let a tear trickle down as Christy and Cheryl sang of the “brave little Boy who gave up His pride and came here to die like a man”…
And they heard about a hope of a new start and a new heart because of Bethlehem’s Babe.
And they went back to their cells, full and filled and knowing folks who love Jesus care about them.
I’ve wondered if maybe someone secretly (and rightfully) wondered, “But these guys are criminals! America’s worst! Some of them took others’ things. Some of them took others’ lives!”
Just like King David and Saul of Tarsus and John Newton did.
And maybe like you and I have done in our thoughts and hearts, if I understand our Lord’s own words.
And it’s surely true that many of them there want nothing to do with a change of heart or Jesus moving into it, making His home there. They mock Him now as those who did way back then.
But many have found Him in that dark place, as He waited for them at the end of a road of brokenness and contrition. And they love Him! And others are finding Him, too!
And Jesus gave His blood for all of them! For those who love Him and those who never will, lost forever.
And He loves them all! Those who are changing and growing into His beautiful kids and those who never will.
And a day is coming when some of the ones I know, formerly the worst of the worst, who in the last 20 years have never walked further than the walkway to the end of the prison yard, will be glorious in His beauty, strolling down streets of paved with gold!
Wow! Paved with gold…Reminds me of a Scripture…
In the last book of the Bible, there’s a verse that says there is coming a day when everything that matters so much to folks will be lost in an hour!
“‘Woe! Woe to you, great city,
you mighty city of Babylon!
In one hour your doom has come!’
“The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes anymore, cargoes of…
precious stones and pearls
fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet cloth
every sort of citron wood
articles of every kind made of ivory
iron and marble
cargoes of cinnamon and spice
incense, myrrh and frankincense
wine and olive oil
fine flour and wheat
cattle and sheep
horses and carriages
the souls of men…” (Revelation 18:10-13)
It is so sad to think that we live in a world where, when a list is made of what matters most to so many, gold is at the top and souls are at the bottom!
But here’s another verse from that wonderful book!…
“And the angel showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.…The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass…
“The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city…and they will see his face…There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light…And they will reign for ever and ever!”
It’s the Great Flip!
When we were in charge, gold was on the top and souls were on the bottom!
When Jesus is finally King of all, we will sit on thrones above and we will walk on golden streets below our feet!
Souls on top!
Gold on bottom!
hEY , EVer yonE!
hop e YoUR day i s goiin g awESomelY ! .. . filLeD with prai se anf thankfkkNeSs oon thiss awrsomme tHAnklsgivin g wEek !!
tthis mAy be a lttlle toUUgH tto rEAd becaUUse i’’M praccctiCInG. … .
Ok, That’s enough of that.
I know that may have been a little tough to read but I was practicing typing with my left hand only. I don’t type well in any case (I type biblically… my left hand doesn’t know what my right is doing!) but for the next while I’ll be typing, brushing my teeth, eating (and slopping my raisin bran everywhere!) using only my left hand. The other, smarter hand is gonna be taking a sabbatical…doing that sling-thing for a few weeks…
Remember that time when it was really snowy and icy out and you thought, “Wow! What a beautiful day to go jogging in this winter wonderland!!” And then you had a subsequent thought, “No, wait. That would not be a wise choice! There might be… in fact, there WOULD be…an elevated risk of falling out there! It would be truly STUPID to go jogging in these treacherous meteorological conditions!! One slip and…BAM! You would’ve really messed yourself up! How could anyone have such poor judgement?!” ?
Apparently, not everyone is as smart as you.
Somebody I know is having to have surgery next week on an apparently “huuuuuuuge” rotator cuff tear. It happened in the snow and ice storm back in February…So, it was in the winter, but he got it in the “fall”!
(Do you remember that ice storm? Do you remember that there might have been a moment around 10:15 when you felt the earth shake a little, just for less than one second?)
Anyhooo…looking at a month with my good hand in a sling, I feel a little like Yogi Berra when he said, “I’d give my right arm to be ambidexterous!”
And I’ve been taking an inventory of all the activities I won’t be doing for a while, while my dominant hand is on vacation…
No shifting gears in my truck.
No placing “your right hand over your heart for the playing of our National Anthem”.
No pulling my wallet out of that back pocket (it’s gonna look like yoga every time I have to get out my library card!).
Oh, man! I just thought of this! How sad!
I LOVE clappping in church!!
It makes me feel like I’m really “giving up the praise”! Like I’m saying before the Lord, “Let it go! Let it go! Can’t hold it back anymore!”!
And to sing, praise, and clap your hands is biblical! God wants you to!
Psalm 47 says, “Clap your hands, all you peoples!” (you’re a people, ain’t ya?)
“Shout to God with loud songs of joy!”
Y’know, a few folks have asked me if there’s anything they could do while I’ll be “slung” and I couldn’t really think of anything. This summer, Tina and I kinda had a joke when it got close to 10:00 and the Braves would be behind again in the seventh or eighth inning…
She’s say, “Well, I better go brush my teeth…”
And I’d say, “Could you brush mine while yer in thar?”
I’ve been practicing left-handed brushing and I’m not very good at. I’m getting one of those battery toothbrushes that go in circles so she doesn’t actually have to brush hers and mine, too!
But, I did think of one thing you could do for me that I can’t for myself…
You could clap while we sing!
If you don’t clap, do!
If you do, clap louder!
“Cause I would if I could, but I can’t!
You know, when you clap and sing His praises with us…even when you don’t feel like it… it is soooo good for you! Even if you don’t feel like it, your will is telling your mind that there are a million reasons why you should!
And your heart gets the message!
And there may be someone beside…maybe right behind you…with a heavy or discouraged heart. Maybe they don’t feeling like singing to Him…
But they hear you sing! And they see you clap! And your singing tells their will to tell their mind that there are a million reasons to do it!
And their heart gets the message!
((i’’ m goiin g to pracTt tice thhis lft-haNded stUfF a liiTtle moR e. .. . )
Hope this Friday finds you filled with peace and a restful heart!
…Which I personally struggle to enjoy some (mostofthe) times!
I love those Sonic commercials…y'know the ones where those two guys are in the car at
Sonic having a crazy conversation?
Like the one where the guy always driving says…
“Wow! This raspberry iced tea is awesome.”
And the goofier guy (always in the passenger side) says, thoughtfully…
“I wonder why t…”
First guy… “What!?”
“Why raspberry iced ’t’? Why not rapsberry iced ‘m’? Why not one of the other of the 48 letters?”
“First of all, that’s way too many letters.”
“I know how many letters there are in the alphabet!”
“May I sub-respond before you finish?”
Anyway, the one that got me a little choked up and kinda helped me was the one where the
kind of "dorky" guy and his wife were at Sonic drinking something with
coffee in it. And he said, "I'm so glad we're not at one of those
fancy coffee shops. They're so intimidating.”
"What do you mean, intimidating", she asks.
"You know…you're in the line and the guy in front of you gets a half-caff moka
grande frappacino and you feel like you have to get something half or caff and
you don't want to, you just want coffee but you feel like you can't because
everybody's there expecting you to get something either half or caff and
they're so stuck up and you're just standing there in line AND THEY'RE ALL
READING POETRY ANDTALKINGABOUTPOLITICSAND…!!!”
"Whoa. Whoa! WHOOOOAAA!! GET A HOLD OF YOURSELF!!", his wife says!
I know that feeling.
Not about coffee but about getting frazzled with
thoughts that are running away from me. And they've kidnapped my
heart's peace before they take off.
"Today I have to do this. But I also have to be thinking about that
problem that's coming up. But one thing that's bothering me is that if
this other thing happens, I'm not sure I have the answer and I WON'T
BE ABLE TO GET TO THE THINGS I HAVE TO DO
This morning I heard the Holy Spirit say gently to me, "Whoa. Whoa!
WHOA! Get a hold of yourself, son!"
It wasn't in words I heard, but in words I read.
From a book written 2700 ago but it felt like today's newspaper.
Listen to this.
Isaiah 30. 15…”This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel,
says: "In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and
trust is your strength…"
And further on He adds, "The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the
effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever"
"Whoa! Just be quiet. Shhhhh."
Quiet your heart! Let anxiety's noise get still. Stop your thoughts
long enough to think….
God knows about it all.
He cares about you.
He knows what He will do.
It will be just in time and just the right thing.
I have a friend who always says to me at the end of a conversation,
"God's peace, my brother". He ends letters with…
"Peace of God,
So I wish that to us all today.
Shhhhhh…Peace of God, y’all…
Hope you’re having an awesome day! Looks like rain will be with us ‘til Saturday! I was looking up to see if more was coming, when I saw something amazing! A “V” of geese flew overhead (well, not directly overhead, thankfully!), honking and flapping in perfect formation!
Ever wonder why geese fly in a V formation? Scientist have been studying this for years and years. All they know to this point is that somehow geese know that it’s a whole lot easier that way! When geese fly in a V, they can fly up to 71% further than one goose can, flying alone! And the heart rate of a goose flying solo is 40% higher while flying than a goose flying in formation!
How do birds know that it’s easier to fly together? How do they know you can fly further and with less effort when you “V-up”? How do the geese know this if scientists have just discovered these facts?! All you can say is…
They just do!
Y’know, we’re like geese in some ways! Sure we don‘t have feathers or lay eggs (some honk when they travel more than they should..) but as we sail through this world toward our heavenly home, it’s easier when we “flock” together!
When we fly in a “V”, if you will.
When we get together…
to encourage each other…
to tell each other, “You matter to me!”…
to pray for each other…
to travel our journey together…
it just makes it easier and you can go further!
How do we know?
We just do! It’s just instinctive!
Paul writes to us in Romans 12 10, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.” See the word, “devoted”? In the Greek language Paul wrote this in originally, this word is “philostorgos”. It’s really two words put together. “Philia” means “love between friends” and “storgos” is the love that you instinctively feel in a family for your parents or your kids. Some believe “storgos” is related to the word “stork”. Storks fly in formations, too!
“Philostorgos” means something like “having that love close friends feel for each other…instinctively!” If you love Jesus, it is just instinctive to want to be around other people who feel about Him the same way you do! It’s just natural to want to have that “philia”…that “love between friends” with others who love Him!
That’s why it’s a joy to see folks out, drinking coffee and sharing their day, joys, or cares, or just gathering up to watch ball games together…
That’s why we try to eat together at church at times (like this Sunday! See below…)
That’s why we have what we call “community groups” on Sunday mornings at 9:30. It’s a time to just be together with and encourage those who love Jesus like you do. It’s a time when we share how our week and our life is going. It’s a time to share around God’s Word…to share what it means to each one. It’s especially a time when, just by showing up, you’re saying to all of us, “You matter to me! There’s no place I’d rather be this morning than with my church family…’cause I care about you! You’re important to me”
When you’re not there, we have to flap harder.
I guess Paul’s saying, “That’s something that you ought to just instinctively feel if you have Jesus in you. Not only does the Holy Spirit and the Holy Scriptures tell you this, but “flying in a flock” ought to just be instinctive!
We need each other!
Others need you!
If you tend to not really make time for friends (the real kind, not the FB ones)…
if someone needs your encouraging call…
even if you’ve not really made up your mind to be in a community group…
Follow your instincts!
Join the formation!
Ain’t it excitin’?
The thrills!…Chills!…Kids out late!…Some people dressed up in colorful outfits! (I saw a guy dressed like a moose!)…Unhealthy food!…
Late October and your thoughts turn to…
No! Not that dopey holiday!
I’m talking about the World Series!
There’s a guy who wears moose antlers when the Royals are at home in Kansas City because his favorite player is third baseman, Mike Moustakas! When he comes to the plate, it sounds like the fans are booing but they’re calling his name! “Mooooooooo!”
Tuesday’s game made tons of history!!
For one thing, Michael Conforto,a rookie with the Mets, with his RBI became the first person ever to knock in a run in the Little League World Series, College World Series, and the Major League World Series!
The Mets inimitable Bartolo Colon (42 years, 157 days) on Tuesday, became the oldest pitcher to lose a World Series game!
The first game of the Series was the longest opening game in history! FOURTEEN innings!
And when the Royals came to the plate for the bottom of the first inning, the first pitch was sent to the center field wall and gave the batter, Alcides Escobar enough time to run as fast as he could around all the bases and home! An amazing opening “inside the park” home run! Hasn’t happened in the opening at-bat since Patsy Dougherty did it in 1903!
We’ll see what happens tonite!
Speaking of history and home runs…
Maybe one of the longest ever wasn’t hit in the World Series. Sadly, there was a time (before Jackie Robinson) when some of the greatest players of all time didn’t get to play in it because African American weren’t allowed to participate in the Major Leagues. They had formed leagues of their own…
There was a player in the African American league named Josh Gibson who, during the ‘30’s and 40’s, hit almost 800 homers in 17 years! His lifetime average was over .350! Many called him “the black Babe Ruth”, although in the African American league, they called Babe Ruth, “the white Josh Gibson”! Once he hit a homer in Yankee Stadium that reached the wall above the center field bleachers...580 feet! They said another time, that he hit a homer in Baltimore that flew out of sight and never came down. The next night, he was playing in Washington, and a ball dropped out of the sky into center field in the middle of the game. The fielder happened to see it and caught it. Gibson was called out...from the night before!
Maybe the most famous World Series homer…and one of the most controversial moments in the history of baseball, was the Babe’s “called shot” for a home run in the fifth inning of the third game of the ‘32 World Series with the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
‘Course, Babe wasn’t a stranger to controversies. In 1930, as the Depression gripped the nation, he signed a contract that paid him more than any player ever. And more than President Hoover made! Someone asked him, “Aren’t you uneasy about making more than the President?” “Nope.” the Bambino replied. “I had a better year than him.”
Anyway, with the Yanks up two games in the Series, and the game tied 4-4 in the fifth, Ruth was at the plate with the count two balls, two strikes…
That’s when he yelled something at the pitcher and made a pointing gesture.
Some say he pointed at the Chicago dugout. Some say it was toward pitcher’s mound. Most say it was toward the center field wall...as in, “There’s where this next pitch is going!” And it did! 480 feet over the flagpole! Across the nation, folks heard Tom Manning yell, "The ball is going…going…goooooing…high into the center field stands...and it is a HOME RUN!"
An unknown film of the 1932 at-bat surfaced in the ‘80’s, but still it’s hard to tell if Babe was just pointing or predicting the impending home run. One reporter said that if all the people who said they were there and saw Babe call the shot, were put in one stadium, it’d have to hold 500,000 fans! Charlie Root, the one who threw the pitch, denied for the rest of his life that Babe pointed to center field. “If he’d pointed to center field like that, I woulda beaned him with that pitch in the ear!”
It would have been (or maybe it WAS) pretty outrageous for someone to be so confident in his abilities that he could predict what would happen to the next ball across the plate! But I read something yesterday that was a million times...even a kabillion times!...more certain! Check it...
“I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus...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 1.4, 8)
Wow! Paul’s saying, “I KNOW you’re gonna make it to the end! I know God will hit a homer with you!”
Y’gotta remember that these believers were having problems! Couldn’t get along...some drinking too much...yucky sex messes going on...It wasn’t looking too promising!
But the apostle knew his Lord and King! He is able to change us! He is able to bring us back! He is able to make us grow! He is able to keep us strong and His! He is able and He is going to bring all those who love Jesus...home!
“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)
“...being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus...” (Phil 1.6)
“...You who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time...” (1 Peter 1. 5)
Before you ever were ever pitched His way, He knew He had a homer with you!
He called that shot!
“ ...going, going, going, higher, higher...and it is a home run!"
Hope you’re having the awesomest, thankfulliest, praisiest day ever! (“…thankfulliest”?)
I always hope this for all in our Triple C family and for all my friends around the wide world!
I always write this weekly CCC email bloggy-thing every Friday and I never hear from anyone who might read it. I don’t really know if anyone ever does reads it! I mean, I read it, of course. And Tina always does. Well, actually, she listens to it ‘cause I always read it to her when I’m done to makes sure it’s not totally ridiculous. Beyond that, I have no idea. Maybe it’s just the two of us.
I always try in everything I do to keep my own personal opinions out of stuff. Whether trying to encourage folks or share from God’s Word, it seems to me that nothing could matter less than my opinion about things! Saying my opinion is just not appropriate or indicated!
But I thought…
Maybe that’s a good way to see if anyone reads this thing!
Let my opinions FLYYYYY! And see if anyone cares! See if anyone’s out there!
So, here goes! Here come some of my opinions!!
In my opinion, even tho’ scholars and cultured folks a lot smarter than me think that the artwork of Picasso is awesome and amazing, I don’t like it. In my opinion, it isn’t very good.
In my opinion, if the Atlanta Braves hadn’t sold Jason Heyward, Brian McCain, Justin Upton, Martin Prado, Evan Gattis, and Craig Kimbrel, we’d be in the World Series next week.
In my opinion, the commercialization of country music is pushing it into becoming just another kind of pop music. In my opinion, George, Tammy, and Loretta were better.
In my opinion, there are some things in the Catholic faith that I wish evangelicals had, also.
In my opinion, when your server asks you how everything tastes, it’s kind of a personal question and it’s a little awkward.
In my opinion, having a dog (a really chill one!) is a cooler thing than I used to think it was.
In my opinion, the Rocky Mountains are amazing, but I like the Smokies better.
In my opinion, any pizza you eat in Italy is better than any you can find here, including the ones at “Big You-know-who’s”.
In my opinion, the fight (which was still in the Tennessee news this week) to defend the right to display, fly or wear the Confederate flag is unbelievably unkind.
The reason this contention exists today is because in June of this year in Charleston…
…a city where, even though through its ports as many as 10,000,000 abducted and chained Africans entered America and into a life of enslavement, that flag still flew even this year at the South Carolina capital building…
…in that city, nine of our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus died while worshiping our Lord in their church.
For the person who did it, as well as for most African Americans, so many of whom are our brothers and sisters in the family of Jesus, this flag is a symbol of racism and hate. I guess I could understand how some might have some kind of sentimental feelings of nostalgic attachment or “heritage”…
But for a person who believes in Jesus Christ…
for a person bought by the blood of the King of love…
for a person adopted by the God Who is Love, into a vast and multitudinous multiracial family of brothers and sisters of all ethnicities, nations, colors and tongues, who are closer to us than our own biological family (if they know not our Savior), and with whom we will spend forever worshiping and praising before the Throne of Reconciling Love…
for a person indwelt by the Holy Spirit of Love, Who is constantly infusing His love into our hearts (Rom. 5:5), always reassuring us of His love and relentlessly compelling us to love everyone…
For THAT person…
knowing that, whatever else it may or may not have meant to someone or their ancestors back in history somewhere, any meaningless symbol that, in the present, might even faintly suggest a message of animosity or hate to ANYONE I am called to love, care about, care for, or possibly reach for Jesus, the King of Love, would be a thing that in the Name of Jesus, I would flee like the plague itself (1 Cor. 9:19)…
and knowing that, in all questions, the supreme arbitrating factor is love (“Which choice is the most loving?”), since love is the fulfillment of all of the commandments of God, the perfect expression of holiness (Romans 13:9-10)…
and knowing that my remaining, outstanding debt that I owe to everyone is the debt to love them (Romans 13:8)…
…at this point, anyone who is a child of our God of love, who even contemplates wearing, caring for, caring about, or flying that symbol from a home, truck or government building is beyond my ability to imagine.
That’s my opinion.
(Maybe I’ll found out this week if anyone reads this.)
Hope you’re having an awesome, praise-filled, thank-filled, got-yer-tank-filled kinda day! And you better be ready, because today very well could be THE most important day of your life! The day that will be like no other! The one that puts you on the map in someone’s heart! The most significant and meaningful day of all the days in the bunch of days God gives you!
Today may be the day you do or say that one thing that changes everything for someone! A word…A gesture…a kindness…And someone may never be the same because of it! Because of you!
And you may not even know it happened!
You may not even know that of all the days up to today, for someone, this just happened to be your best day ever!
‘Cause it’s happened before…
Folks have had their finest day that hosted their finest moments that changed someone forever…and they never knew it.
Remember how on Sunday, I was telling y’all about John Newton, the pastor in the little village of Olney, outside of London who started writing hymns with a friend to encourage this discouraged brother? For eleven years John poured himself into this mission of trying to lift his friend out of endless and relentless discouragement, darkness, and hopelessness? They’d hang-out everyday, walk together, laugh together, sing and pray together, and seeing how this friend was the finest poet in ol’ England, they’d write hymns together! They’d take some heavenly thoughts from the Holy Scriptures and think about them and work on them and ponder them until these thoughts were rhythm-able and singable!
And hopefully, “somebody we know” would be happily humming his way home at the end of the day!
The hymn we know as “Amazing Grace” is one of these.
“Olney Hymn #41”.
Or, as it was originally titled, “Faith’s Review and Expectation”
Written for Sunday January 1, 1773.
For the church at Onley. And for the heart of William Cowper.
But it didn’t work.
He got so discouraged that day, he went home, wrote the hymn, “God Works In Mysterious Ways”…
And tried to kill himself.
He never went back to church again until he died ten years later.
John thought his hymn was a dud.
As far as he knew, no one ever sang it again.
He died in 1807. But in the 1820’s, a hymn book called, “Southern Harmony”, which had “Amazing Grace” in it, became super popular in America of all places! And that particular hymn was sung a whole lot among African American slaves! The first time it was ever quoted in print (two of the verses) was in the book “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” about the sufferings of the oppressed in bondage on plantations across the South.
Tom, who loved the Lord Jesus, was suffering a time of unthinkable mistreatment…
“…Tom looked up to the silent, ever-living stars,—types of the angelic hosts who ever look down on man; and the solitude of the night rung with the triumphant words of a hymn, which he had sung often in happier days, but never with such feeling as now:
‘The earth shall be dissolved like snow,
The sun shall cease to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Shall be forever mine.
‘And when this mortal life shall fail,
And flesh and sense shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil
A life of joy and peace…’ “
And then the author, Harriet Beecher Stowe, included a verse that Newton didn’t write. This is the first time in print it was ever included in “Amazing Grace”. It’s actually a verse from another hymn called “New Jerusalem” that African American slaves sang in their sorrows to turn their eyes heavenward…
“When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we first begun”
On the day he wrote it, John Newton didn’t know that he had just written a song that would one day lift countless multitudes out of “endless and relentless discouragement, darkness, and hopelessness”!
He had a better day than he thought he did!
Encourage someone today if you can!
Lift someone up with a prayer!
Give a hand to someone who needs one!
Ask God to show you someone who needs some help or a friend…
And have a good day!
(It may be your best one ever!)
Hope you’re having the most awesome Friday ever! Filled with praise! With thankfulness! With just a joyfulness and you’re not even sure where it came from! (Btw, it came from the praise and thankfulness…)
And I’d like to add my little contribution to the over-all effort toward your joy-filled Friday heart. I’d like to tell you a hilarious story I meant to tell y’all on Sunday in my message but I forgot it!
That happens to me lots of times! Loads of times on Sunday, I’ll have so much going on in my brain while I’m sharing with you, that I’ll forget a thing or two that I meant to throw in there!
If you’ve ever had to give a “talk”, speech or a sermon to a crowd of folks, you’ll agree that there are sometimes several things you’re thinking about all at the same time!
In the very same brainspace…
You’re thinking about what you’re saying while you’re saying it…
You’re thinking about what comes next…
You’re thinking about what you said a few minutes before (“Was that joke stupid? Inappropriate? Have I told it before? How many times? Did I tell it just last week!?”)
You’re thinking, as you look over the crowd… “Yikes! So-and-so must have lost something up that nose of his ‘cause he seems pretty convinced he’s gonna find something up there!”
You’re thinking… “Man! It’s already seven minutes to twelve and I’ve got a tons of stuff left! Pedal to the metal, baby!”
You’re thinking… “But I better not get louder if I get faster ‘cause someone I know apparently didn’t get enough sleep last night and only has seven minutes left for the nap he’s taking!”
And you’re thinking all of that at once!
I was reading the other day about the time one of my favorite pastors gave his first message. John Newton had been the worst person ever, then found Jesus, and after several stumbles and reboots, became the sweetest pastor ever! So full of wisdom, humor, joy, and love!
What a dude!
But when he gave his first sermon, what a dud!
He was thinking that God was calling him to leave his job and become a pastor. That’s when a friend/pastor asked him to try out preaching his first message ever in his friend’s church…
It was early June, 1758 in a small church in Leeds, England. Here’s how it went…
“…I set off tolerably well though with no small fear and trembling…Before I had spoken ten minutes I was stopped like Hannibal upon the Alps. My ideas forsook me; darkness and confusion filled their place. I stood upon a precipice and couldn’t advance a step forward. I stared at the people and they at me. Not a word more could I speak but was forced to come down and leave the people sitting there, some smiling, some weeping. My pride was sorely mortified…”
Wow! That was awkward!
But, thankfully, John Newton didn’t quit!
And he went on to become the most awesome pastor ever, wrote “Amazing Grace” and a kazillion other hymns, and helped end the horrible slave trade in England!
And I bet that in all that God has for you to do, you’ve had a time or two that didn’t go so well.
Maybe you lost your cool when things heated up…
Maybe they needed something better than you could think of to say…
Maybe it seemed hopeless and you gave up for a minute or two…
But you didn’t quit!
And now look at you!
So, about that hilarious story I was going to tell you…
Rats! I forgot it again!
Hope your day is filled with all good things from dawn till it’s close and that your heart can sing, when all is done, as do the birds when first they chirp with open beak as the sun’s warm rays on them beam.
I did it!
Actually, I was trying to write a thought, greeting, paragraph, whatever-you-call-it, using only one syllable words. I almost made it except for “open”.
I couldn’t think of a one syllable word for that! I know in old hymns they’d write “op’n” but I think that’s cheating!
I was trying to see if I could do it because, as all of you “Lincoln geeks” out there know, when Abraham Lincoln gave his second inaugural address on March 4, 1865 (it’s that very last scene from the Spielberg Lincoln movie), of the 703 words he spoke, 505 were one syllable words!
Yet it is probably the most amazing speech ever given in the history of America! (Sorry, Lou Gehrig!) It only took about seven minutes to give but he quoted or alluded to six Scriptures! No President had ever quoted a Scripture in any inaugural address except one by John Quincy Adams!
That speech was so short that the whole thing is carved on the north wall of the Lincoln Memorial (the wall to his left if you were sitting in his chair) but Fredrick Douglass told him after, “Mr, President, that was a sacred effort!”
Last week, Lenny Croce and I went to Lincoln Memorial Univ. to hear a lecture by Roland C White, one of the leading Lincoln scholars in America (and a super guy who loves Jesus!) on the subject, “Lincoln’s Second Inaugural”.
It was kind of a geek-out, really.
Lenny and I talked about the Rail-Splitter President going and coming! At the Lincoln Museum (built by Colonel and Mrs. Harland Sanders, according to the plaque outside!) we saw paintings of Abe (he actually didn’t like to be called that! He signed everything “A. Lincoln”), statues of him (all 6’5”!), costumes from the movie, and the silver knobbed cane he took to Ford’s Theater just forty one days after his best speech ever (sniff…)
Dr White discussed Lincoln’s first inaugural speech from four years before. He told us that until he surprisingly won the Republican nomination, and then the election, Lincoln’s Washington experience had only been as a one-term congressman. So after he finished writing his first speech he’d give as President, he sent it to his friends and cabinet members for suggestions. Most said that it rocked just the way it was. But his new Secretary of State, William Seward, sent back six pages of suggested changes and alterations!
In all, Seward offered forty nine changes!
Lincoln took twenty seven of them!
Dr. White said that the reason Lincoln did this was because one of his foundational principles of leadership was this:
“Surround yourself with people wiser than you…and listen to them!”
Y’know, I’ve never felt like leadership is a gift that I understand, let alone have in my heart. I don’t know how to organize things. (I remember once someone told me they didn’t like organized religion and I told them to come to our church because we didn’t have any of that! We only had the disorganized kind!) I don’t know how to motivate or mobilize folks. I used to try to read books about leadership but I never knew what they were talking about!
But if it’s about “surrounding yourself with those wiser than you and listening to them”, well…
The guys that I have in my life…the guys we all have…on our staff, and as our elders…are the wisest, kindest, most faithful, sincere, and big-hearted bunch that you would ever find! Everyone of them has wisdom I’ve never dreamed of, in totally unique ways, and if there is a “wealth in experience”, what they have walked thru and learned from their different journeys, make them the richest guys I know! I am better, stronger, and closer to the Lord because they are in my life! How I thank God for them!!
“Leadership is surrounding yourself with those wiser than you and listening to them!”
If that’s all there is to it, with the guys I’ve got…shucks, maybe I shoulda run fer President!
(Just kidding, Mr Lincoln!)
As I’m typing this out on my computer and looking out the kitchen window into the dark, Freddy says it’s time to “Rise n’ Shine!” Freddy Smith is the DJ “of th’ mornin’” (as they say around here), at WDVX and every morning hosts the show “Rise n’ Shine” from 6 to 9, playing bluegrass and classic country, always closing out with a few Gospel numbers to “kindly tune up yer heartstrings” for the day…
Freddy also brings us some special daily features we regular listeners always appreciate, such as “the Poplar Weather Report” (where he goes outside, climbs the poplar tree and tells us how it is out thar)
Around eight, we always look forward to his daily “Things that make you go, ‘Hmmm…’ “
This is where Freddy reads us amazing facts we didn’t know and upon hearing them, we say in our hearts, “Hmmm…”
Or as Freddy says, “Hmmmm…Whodda thunk it?”
The other day, Freddy told us some facts so amazing that I thought, “Hmmm…I don’t think that’s true!”
“The entire population of the world’s ants is heavier than the human population! Wow! That’s some heavy ants! In fact, I’ve got an aunt…well, never mind…Did y’know a bee is more likely to sting you on a windy day…”
“A pigeon’s feathers weigh more than it’s bones…”
“Whodda thunk it?”
“The Netherlands wasn’t always known as the Netherlands. It used to be known as the United States”
Then Freddy said, “Did you know there are 3 1/2 women for every man on earth?” Then he added, “After your third wife, which half do you get on the next one?”
And I thought, “What?!”
“Did you know that a beaver can hold it’s breath under water for 45 minutes?”
Wait! Freddy! Who’s telling you this?!”
(Sometimes I wonder if folks just send in stuff to see if their “facts” get on the air!)
Anyways, here are some amazing facts for y’all!
Did you know that we at Triple C send money every month to help missionaries all over the world share Jesus with those who know little or nothing about Him. And a couple who have been doing just that for YEEEEAAAARRRRS are Paul and Karen Davis (Y’all remember Paul and Karen from the last time they were here…) Their latest assignment from the Lord has been to work with Him to begin another church (they’ve been involved in started several!) in an Alpine town, Pontcharra, that didn’t have an evangelical church before they arrived. Many of you remember the amazing story of how the Lord showed them a building in the center of town they could buy, renovate, and make a home for their congregation. The road was paved with troubles and miracles (as always) but, after more than a year of work, it finally opened last weekend!
And from their letter this week, here are some amazing facts!
For the Saturday opening inauguration…
”For the first time we put out all 170 chairs. The sanctuary looked great but empty. That would soon change with over 150 people attending both the inauguration on Saturday afternoon and the special worship service on Sunday morning!…”
“A missionary serving in Austria with a phenomenal voice, enthralled the audience with songs of praise accompanied by our Gospel choir… “
“The Mayor of Pontcharra honored us with his presence…”
“A journalist from the local newspaper attended the ceremony and wrote an excellent article…”
“Many attended who had never before entered an evangelical church. They were pleasantly surprised by the warm, open environment…”
Then on Sunday morning…”The sanctuary was again full as believers from Pontcharra and the mother church near Grenoble gathered for a special worship service of thanksgiving…”
“Several people who had attended the inauguration came, too, seeing for the first time the joy of worshipping the Lord!…”
Way to go, Paula and Karen! We are so thankful and encouraged by you! We are so honored to be a part of your “team”!
By the way, all those amazing facts about last weekend at the new church in Pontcharra, France are completely true!
Wow! Whodda thunk it?!
God knew all along.
Are you feelin’ the chill in the air?
It’s on the way!
With all the crispness!
The spectacular colors!!
Annual autumn smells!
Well, actually, fall doesn’t smell like it use to.
It used to smell like cigar smoke at Neyland during games (they can’t do that any more)…
and burning leaves on Saturday (we can’t do that any more)…
and dog doo that was somehow always in the giant piles of leaves we’d jump in (I don’t do that any more!)
But the colors will be the same as always!
Actually, the colors are technically in those leaves all the time. I was reading that stuff in leaves called carotenes and xanthophyll give them their reds and yellows, and those are in there the whole time. But when the trees are making loads of chlorophyll, it’s greeniness covers, over powers, and swamps all other colors so that green is all you see. But when the chlorophyll “poops out” in the fall (that’s the technical word botanists use) the reds and yellows shine thru!
As Freddy Smith says on WDVX, “Whodda thunk it?”
Tons of folks will be heading up to the Smokies in just a few weeks to see the spectacular carotenes and xanthophyll show. (Doesn’t sound so cool when you put it like that!)…
but lots of them may not go where the fall spectacle is the most spectacular…
A few weeks go, we went on a hike to Laurel Falls. It’s the most hikable and hiked of all hikes up there! It’s even paved all the way to the falls! We saw folks hiking in flip flops…with kids riding on shoulders, on backs, on heads…there was one family where the dad was pulling one of those suitcases with the pop-up handle (?!)
They all stop at the falls.
If you keep going for a half a mile or so, you wind up in an “old-growth forest”. Most of the trees in the Smokies have only been growing since the 1920’s. Loggers had cut down almost all of the trees before that…
(It’s why they made it a national park! So stuff could grow in peace!)
But there are some hidden places the logging companies couldn’t reach. And the trees there…hemlocks, poplars, red maples, white oaks, silverbells…have never been cut down.
And these trees are soooo ooooold!
And waaaaay taaaaaall!
And awe-inspiring, majestic, and beautiful!
Once you’ve seen them, you feel like you’ve never seen a tree before!
But most people never have seen the big trees! Most don’t know they’re there!
And, you know what? This is weird to say (like that’s never happened before in these emails!) but the trees don’t care!
I know it’s because they’re trees and not people, but it was awesome just being around some of God’s creations that were awe-inspiring, majestic, and beautiful, growing before God alone, seen by no one…
And not caring in the least!
He knows and sees and that’s enough reason for a tree!
And you know what else?
Maybe you’re spending loads of time helping someone who is dealing with something very difficult…
And they wouldn’t make it without you…
Or you’re giving your whole heart to breaking the chains of a destructive pattern in your own life…
Or you have a place you go to help super-needy people make some sense of Jesus and what He could do for them if they would have Him…
And no one sees…
Or know that you’re there…
But He sees!
To Him, you're awe-inspiring, majestic, and beautiful!
He knows and sees and that’s enough reason for a tree!
And for thee.
Wow!! Everyone is so pumped for this game!! Number 23 and number 19 on center stage, ESPN at 6:00 pm tomorrow, Saturday, September 12, 2015!!
We’re gonna checker board Neyland! How cool is that! I hope that guy who’s a Florida Marlins fan who always wears bright Marlins stuff and buys the ticket right behind home plate on every ESPN Sunday night baseball game so he can get on TV with his Marlins stuff on, doesn’t show up! It’d mess up the checker!
I am a little bit disturbed by a couple of things tho’…
Bowling Green State had 557 yards of offense last week against us! 433 thru the air! More than any team last year! And our defensive line is one of our strengths!
Butch says, about the OK offensive line,“They are very big. They are imposing. They are athletic. They are nasty. They do want to run the football!”
And the Okie line backer who was in the news so much (somethin’ ‘bout a gas crisis?) had three sacks in last year’s Sugar Bowl! And he had six tackles (two for losses) against us last year!
And I do have one other thing that’s bugging me some.
Seems like we have a new slogan and I’m not sure what it means.
This year you can get T-shirts and bumper stickers that say, “My All”.
What’s wrong with, “I say it’s great to be a Tennessee Vol!”?
I know the new one comes from the sign coaches and players slap on their way out of the locker room to Shields Watkins Field (“I give my all for Tennessee”) I’m sure it means to them, “I give all my extra-curricular time and energy (when I’m not in class or confronting my homework load) to this team”
But I’m not exactly sure what it’s supposed to mean to me.
Does “my all” mean all my time? All my devotion? All my hopes? All my heart? All my…what!?
I LOVE sports! I love being a sports fan! I’m even trying to love being a Braves fan! We’re 56 and 85 and 23.5 games behind the Mets!
I get a lot out of sports!
But I don’t GIVE anything to sports.
Let alone “my all”.
Lately, in the mornings, I’ve been reading letters written by my homeboy, John Newton, hymn writer (“Amazing Grace”, among other hits) and pastor of St Mary Woolnoth in London. What a heart! On April 1, 1769, he wrote this to a friend, as he was getting ready for Sunday services…
“Saturday evening is returned again. How quick the time flies! Oh that we may have grace to number our days, and begin to view the things of this world in that light which they will, doubtless appear in when we are on the point of leaving them. How many things which are apt to appear important now, and to engross too much of our time, and thoughts, and strength, will then be acknowledged as vain and trivial as the imperfect recollection of a morning dream!
May the Lord help us to judge now as we shall judge then, that all things on this side of the grave are of no real value further than they are improved in subservience to the will and glory of God…”
So, let us…
Cheer! Clap! Shout! Checkerboard the whole thing!
But save “your all’ for Him.
That’s it for sports!
Hope you’re having an awesome week!…
LIKE WE HAVE!!!
Went camping…It was awesome! As always!!
I never knew I’d like camping. In fact, I thought I’d hate it!
Amazingly, I love it!
Tina and I have been camping in the Smokies every summer for the last three or four years or so. I don’t why I thought I wouldn’t ever like it. We laugh, talk, walk, hike, snuggle when it’s cold, cook together, have coffee before the sun together, we (mostly me) cry about stuff we read, stroll around and check out other folk’s “set ups” and cool camping stuff, swim in the creek (me), knit (her), play the banjo (me), praise the Lord in the morning (both of us), check our emails (neither of us), take a nap, and laugh some more…
Yesterday I finally understood why I love camping so much.
Tina was knitting by the Little River and I decided to ride my bike around and explore some. I found this old cemetery. This is a little weird but I read something on a grave stone and it explained to me why I love camping so much…
On one side it said, “Ortha Ownby” and on the other it said…
“Once in your life you find someone special.
Your lives intermingle and somehow you know.
This is the beginning of all you have longed for.
A love you can build on, a love that will grow.”
Hope your week has been filled with joy and laughter even in the most unexpected moments! Like the one we had early Wednesday at the hospital…(!)
One of “our own” had a surgery scheduled and some of us (I don’t want to say their names because I don’t want them to be embarrassed) from Pottsie, John Hartman and Sue Hartman’s community group were down there waiting with them at the MMC admitting lobby to be an encouragement. So…we thought it would be good to pray for them and someone (better not say his name…) volunteered. We all bowed and, as Pottsie often does when he prays, the person said, “Lord, I love the part when…” And what he was going to continue to say was, “…the part where in the Gospels You did so-and-so, etc”) But instead of saying, “I love the part…” he inadvertently and very accidentally said a word that rhymes with “part” but began with an “f’ instead of “p’…
Well, there was a moment of hesitation…
And then we all burst into outrageous laughter!! It was ridiculous! In fact, one of us actually seemed to have tears of laughter coming down those cheeks! Then we realized that this was exactly what we needed from the Lord!
It’s really one of the many reasons I love being in a Community Group at Triple C!
We all wind up knowing each other so well that God uses them to turn a moment of some anxiety into a moment that potentially could have proven to be awkward and instead becomes laughter rocking those hospital walls!
I guess that’s one of the reasons I love Community Groups at Triple C!
In fact, since this is the beginning of the school year and a new cycle and all that, I thought this might an appropriate time to promote them and encourage folks who aren’t in one to join one!
I do have to be careful, however.
Technically, this is a blog, I guess. And a few blogs recently have been in some trouble for using their blogs for promotion and advertising. One “Moms” blog that promoted Children’s Claritin was accused of being, instead of a place of encouragement and advice, “a virtual product rep”.
So, I wouldn’t ever want to use my “blog” to promote or advertise! Even if it’s for Community Groups at Triple C! Altho’ one awesome thing about being in a Community Group at TripleC is that you become such good friends…friends who share, care, and pray for each other… that if you needed some advice or counsel about something…such as, “Do you think I’m using my blog to promote Community Groups at Triple C, which meet every Sunday from 9:30 to 10:30?”, those in your Community Group, having become truly friends in Jesus, would tell you!
Wow! Community Groups at Triple C are awesome!
Speaking of promotion and advertising, I read an article about false and aggressive advertising that said that some have gotten so aggressive in their ads that they makes ridiculous claims for their products and have gotten in trouble for it! Recently a court ruling upheld a Federal Trade Commission complaint that “Pom Wonderful Pomegranate products, loaded with antioxidants” do not have the right to claim that drinking eight oz per day can help cure “heart disease and ED”! I mean that’s ridiculous! How could pomegranate juice help a person overcome an educational deficiency?
But while we’re on the subject of bold ad claims and this “advertisement” for Community Groups at Triple C (which it isn’t!), I will say that, not only are they encouraging, and supportive, but they might actually keep you from getting sick! I remember a scientific study at the University of Ontario (I believe that’s right) that showed that those who weekly attend a community or group (such as Community Groups we have at Triple C) not only have a “higher happiness quotient" (because they share their problems and help others with their problems, thus taking their minds off themselves) but actually have “stronger immune systems” from regular contact with bacteria and for this reason have “fewer colds, sinus infections, flu and nasal congestion. Those with no community are literally snottier than those with friends.”
And this is not an outrageous claim because…hello!…science proves it!
You know, I think the worst case of false and aggressive advertising I read about in this article was one that joinacommunitygroup talked about an episode of the “Iron Chef America” on the joinacommunitygroup Food Network where McDonald’s inserted a “subliminal message”! This is an old tactic when they try to sneak a joinacommunitygroup message in there so quickly, as in a tenth of a second, that you don’t even notice it but it actually registers in your brain. In this case, it was the slogan “I’m loving it!” That’s the most outrageous thing I’ve ever heard of in my entire c’monandjoinacommunitygroup life!
I’m so thankful we don’t need to use tricks like that! We just put the invitation to join a Community Group out there and joinoneyouknowyouwantto let you decide! But truly, if you’re not in a Community Group yet, we’d love to have you!
Now the justdoitjoinacommunitygroup news!
Well, not that one, but you know what I mean! It’s gonna be the perfect day to be thankful! Not just because it’s not gonna be too hot with… ”Continuing mostly sunny on Friday with warm highs in the middle to upper 80s… High temperatures will warm into the upper 80s this Weekend…” but also because every day, thanks is “appropriate and indicated!”
As the Apostle tells us, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus!” (1 Thessalonians 5)
“Wait! Does that mean it’s God’s will for me to be thankful no matter what the circumstances?
Does it mean that whatever circumstances happen, go ahead and be thankful for them ‘cause they’re God’s will somehow anyway? That ain’t easy, dude!”
(I’ll get back to you on that…I’m kinda in the middle of somethin’…)
As I was saying, it’s a great day for thanksgiving! And I’m thankful for another unexpected reason! Lee’s been gone on his overseas Youth Life mission for so long but yesterday I found out that he misread his ticket and is coming back today and not tomorrow!
Dang! Pottsie and I have missed that dude!
How I love my team!
Pottsie, Lee, and I love more than anything laughing, praying, and serving Jesus together! There’s nothing better for us than to be going somewhere to do a thing for our Lord together! As Steven Curtis Chapman says in a song we often sing along to on the way, “This is life like in other! Woo oooo! This is the Great Adventure!”
But there’s another moment tho’ that we love almost as much! This one happens when we’re all three each one in a different place, each doing something for Jesus in a different way, all at the same time! Like last month when Pottsie was preaching at Callahan Towers, Lee was preaching at Triple C and I was preaching at St Andrew’s Church of Scotland in Lisbon! Lee always says, “We’re doing that thing!”
It’s just so cool to be sharing the same Message, doing the same mission on the same day in different places!
Sunday, I get this text from Lee in the hills of Espana somewhere outside of Barcelona…”Dude! We’re doing that thing! You’re in one place and I'm in another and we're serving Him (no heart like His!) and we're both giving it everything we've got! Have fun today! Fight discouragement! Believe in Jesus!…etc…” And then Lee continued to tell me to be bold in my message to y’all and give it all my heart, and to encourage me in all the amazing ways he and Pottsie always do.
Lee didn’t know…
It WASN’T happening.
We WEREN’T doing “that thing” where we’re all three in different places serving Jesus in different ways at the same time. I was at home in my pj’s, throwing up!
Lee didn’t know over on the Iberian Peninsula that I got a stomach bug and had spent two days looking down into the same porcelain view, and “sharing all that was within me”. I thought I’d be OK by Sunday but in the end on Saturday night (!) had to text Devon…”Devo! I’m sick! Can’t stop! Can you help me for tomorrow?” (I didn’t want to dump that responsibility on anyone that late into the weekend! Devon hit me right back…”I got this! Get well!” Wow!!!)
So while Lee was praising in Spain, and Pottsie was preaching in the Towers, I was (‘scuse the ‘xpression) puking in Oliver Springs!
But then I thought…
“This must be our Lord’s will for me today! To…’give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus!’…must mean that this unsettling circumstance must be what He has for me today!”
I wasn’t sure why this was His will for me…Then I listened online to the message y’all heard from Devo! Wow!! What a truckload of encouragement!!
Maybe that was just one of the many reasons in His wisdom, it was His will for me to be right where I was, doing what I was doing!
On the other hand, maybe that verse means that no matter what the circumstances, thanking Him IN everything (even if you’re honestly not necessarily thankful FOR everything!) is His will! So even “hugging the bowl”…”bringing in the heaves”…if I thank Him for His goodness, His kindness, and…Himself, I’m doing the will of God even then!
Pottsie was doing His will while preachin’ it up in the Towers, Lee was doing His will while singin’ it up in Spain, and I was trying to do His will while throwin’ it up at home!
I’m better today…and thankful!
Hope you're having an awesome, praise-filled day tomorrow! I'm actually writing this yesterday, which is today to me! But today to you is tomorrow to me today, which will make today yesterday! (I actually thought about doing this yesterday which is the day before yesterday to you but I thought it might be more confusing...)
Let's see... What happened on this date...
Gertrude Ederle became the first woman to swim the English Channel in 1926...Hmmm...They'd already invented the motor boat by then. Wonder what that was all about?
Bob Mathias won the decathlon in the '48 London Olympics! Pole vaulted right onto the Wheaties box!
1945..."Keith Miller scored 110 in the 4 Victory Test Cricket match at Lord's!!!" Amazing!!! ...apparently.
Lucille Ball was born on this date...
So was "American boot-legger, Dutch Schultz" in 1902...
And on this date, August 6, 1180, the Emperor of Japan, Go-Toba was born
Wait a sec...
I'm not in there...
I was born on this date in 1954!
Today ( yesterday to you) is my birthday...huh...wonder why it isn't in there...
You have to be famous!! I forgot "that bit" (as the Brits would say!)
But in all humility, I would like to add this...
They did have a party for me in heaven!
Not on my birthday, but on my second-birthday!
My "second- birthday" doesn't mean when I turned two in 1955, but in October 1974 when I was born spiritually, or as St John says it, when I was "born again"! When we believed in Jesus, we were born into God's kingdom and family! Our life started over! Just like when you were born the first time...only loads better!
And Luke said that Jesus said that on that day, there was "rejoicing in heaven"!! " 'Let us eat and celebrate! For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.' And they began to celebrate!" (Luke 15: 23-24)
It wasn't a surprise party either! The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit knew that day was coming before the world was even made!
Flying angel choirs...standing ovations from saints already there...A parrrrrty!!
I bet Go-Toba knew how to throw an emperial birthday party for himself, but it was nothing like the one they threw for you the day you were born...again!
Someone said that stars are actually holes in the sky where the party lights shine thru!
Hope you’re having an awesome day…
I’m not so sure if we’re really using the word “awesome” the way people have always understood it. I looked it up and…
“Awesome” as we know it, first showed up in the Queen’s English in 1598 and really means “dread mixed with veneration”. It comes from “awe” which people starting saying around 1200 ad. “Awe” comes from the Old Norse word “agi” and the Old English word “ege”, which mean “fright and fear”. These come from an older word, “agh”, which means, “to be depressed or afraid”. So far, “awesome”’s not sounding super-awesome…
The meaning we know of ”awesome”…”Something that is exceptionally cool”… as in “Totally awesome, dude!”…wasn’t around until 1980!
So for 780 years, “awesome” meant somethin’ like “very scary, intimidating, depressing, or freaky” and only for the last 29 years has it meant, well…”awesome!”
But y’all know what I mean when, as I was saying, I “hope you’re having an awesome day!”
It’s amazing how much language changes through the years! Some words just don’t mean what they used to! The word “conversation” used to mean your “behavior”! Like in the 1611 King James Version of 1 Peter 3:1…Peter talks about the “conversation” of wives toward their husbands.
But not all husbands. He’s talking about husbands who don’t believe in Jesus. He says that if “any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives” That's the NIV. But the ol’ King Jim says they can be won over, without a word, “by the conversation of their wives”! If you didn’t know that’s how they used that word, you’d think, “How y’suppose to win ‘em over without a word by your conversation?...Sign language? Write ‘em notes?”
Lately I’ve been reading one of my favorite books of all time, “Pilgrim’s Progress”, written by John Bunyan in 1678. It’s the most amazing book ever!! The brother never went to school but wrote 88 books! This one has been translated into 200 languages! It’s even been translated from English into English…as in, from the one they used in the 1600’s to the one we use today.
But that’s a little sad. I know they’re just trying to make it so people today can understand it. But he used some of the coolest words! Words we don’t use any more…but we should!
When the star of the book finally understands how to be forgiven and freed of the burden on his back, and it falls off and into an underground cave…well, check it out for your self…
“Up this way, therefore, did burdened Christian run, but not without great difficulty, because of the load on his back.
He ran thus till he came at a place somewhat ascending; and upon that place stood a cross, and a little below, in the bottom, a sepulchre. So I saw in my dream, that just as Christian came up with the cross, his burden loosed from off his shoulders, and fell from off his back, and began to tumble, and so continued to do till it came to the mouth of the sepulchre, where it fell in, and I saw it no more…"
"He said with a merry heart, 'He hath given me rest by his sorrow, and life by his death.' Then he stood still a while, to look and wonder; for it was very surprising to him that the sight of the cross should thus ease him of his burden. He looked, therefore, and looked again, even till the springs that were in his head sent the waters down his cheeks.”
Totally awesome (in today’s meaning!)! And JB says that “Christian’ (that’s his name) felt “glad and lightsome”!
“Lightsome”! That’s a word we shouda hung on to! It would be awesome if we could get that word back! I’m not sure exactly what it means but it must be somethin’ like “nothing weighing on your heart”, “burden-free and joy-filled”, “unworried”…or it may mean “a heart free of darkness”, “a heart full of sunshine”! In either case, with his burden gone, his record clean, and his joy returned, he was a lot more “lightsome” dude then he was when he woke up that day!
You’re one of God’s very own kids! He’s listening to your heart all day! He’s working stuff out for you constantly! In ways you don’t even know! He’s got you covered no matter what! You’re forgiven! Why not be “lightsome” today…”lightsome” all day!? We could all use more “lightsomeness”! Ask around…I bet the folks in your life would love you to be more and more “lightsome”! It’d make their day and heart more “lightsome”, too!
So…as I was saying…
Hope you’re having an aweso…uh…a lightsome day!
Today's gonna be an awesome day! Y'know know how Saint Paul says that we're "seated in Heavenly places in Christ?" Well, from there, how could it be anything less than an amazing day?
It's kinda like when I was in Portugal a couple of weeks ago. No matter how rainy or drizzly it is on the runway, you just have to take off and cliiiimb a while, and before ya know it, you're above the all clouds and storms, in the bluest blue!
Speaking of Portugal…
And speaking of speaking in Portuguese…
Thankfully I didn't have to! (Which is awesome since I don't!)
I was at the Young Life camp for Portuguese kids… who all spoke English! Turns out they watch it on TV from Sesame Street on, so if you speak English slow enough, they get it! Which is amazing, because of all languages, English is super difficult to learn…Maybe the toughest!
There's just so many weird quirks about our mother tongue, if you stop and think about it (which we don't have to! ) Fer instance…
"Teachers teach" and "farmers farm". But "hammers don't ham" and "fingers don't fing"! (At least mine don't!)
You "recite in a play" and "play in a recital"…Hmmmm….wonder why?
You say "he, his, and him" but not "she, shis, and shim". That's tough if you didn't grow up knowing it!
"Vegetarians eat vegetables". So, what do humanitarians eat?
As a bonus, I gave the kids some lessons in "Southern", or the English of the hill(billy)s…
The second person plural is "you" plus "all" or "y'all" More than three people is the second pluperfect plural…"all y'all"
Here's "tar" and "bar" used in a Southern sentence…"I had to git a new tar for my car, but I had t' bar the money"
If you hear the word "urine", it may be the second person possessive adjective…"Is that thang hiz'n, her'n, or your'n?"
Y'know, there is a language of Heaven, as well! If you're not used to it, it can be hard to understand! Like, remember how I wrote, "Today's gonna be an awesome day! Y'know know how Saint Paul says that we're seated in Heavenly places in Christ?"
Well, how on earth could I be sitting there? I don't think I am sitting in Heaven yet! I'm sitting on my kitchen stool and I'm about to go sit on the riding mower!"
I guess you have to understand Heavenly English…
Since God lives outside of time, the future (to us) is as real to Him as the past or present. He already lives in the future! And you are already there with Him because of Jesus! You're already in Heaven in God's mind! Your future is as real to Him as this Friday, July 24! And since there's a whooooole lot more future than there is present or past (becausee Heaven never ends!), in your life, you'll be with Him in Heaven a whoooooole lot more than you will not have been! And since the future is as real to Him as what is or has been (the present and past), you're as good as there already!
So, to say you're already "seated with Him in Heavenly places" is true!
How's that for a lesson in Heaven's language?
Next week, our lesson will be on "Why does the Bible call me a 'saint' if I've messed up so much in my life?"
"How to understand the Past Perfect tense…"
Hope you're having an awesome Thursda…Wait.
Is this Thursday? I thought today was...
Hope you're having an awesome FRIDAY!!
I'm a little wonky this week as far as time goes…I've been back from Portugal for a few days but it's taking a while to get all feeling "back to normal". They are five hours ahead of us over there. But they stay up soooo late every night! I was up about three hours later every night than we are at my house! So five hours plus three more hours means that this week I'm eight hours behind where I was when I started! If I have enough days like that, it'll be like I never went…
Wait a minute. I think I just lost myself.
I had the most unusual first Sunday there! Somebody knew the folks at St Andrew's Church of Scotland in downtown Lisbon and they invited me to give the message there. It's the oldest Protestant church in all of Portugal. The building is old and majestic of marble and stone with vaulted ceilings and stain glass windows. But the members were a beautiful mix of all kinds of people from England and Scotland. It seemed like it should have been one of those sweetly quirky British comedies on the BBC!
I was uncertain what the Church Of Scotland was like so I wore a tie, for once. First thing, a delightfully British "chap" walked in with floppy tweed hat and a tiny dog on a leash.
"Hope you don't mind the pooch, mate. He won't make a fuss."
"Oh, no problem! Dogs don't distract me at all!" I answered. "But I do have one rule: if there's a dog in church, I'm not wearing a tie!"
And I thankfully took it off!
A couple of ladies began to tap their watches and tell me, "You really need t' get this starrrted, dear!"
I had no idea I was in charge of the whole thing and was supposed to conduct the whole service (which I was!), having never been in a Church of Scotland before!
But as they say in Scotland, ""A nod's as guid as a wink tae a blind horse!"
They wanted the service to be a celebration of the "Birthday of America" (!?) since it was the 5th of July (?) even tho' they are Scottish (!) in Portugal (!)
So for one of the hymn selections, we all joined in on the "Battle Hymn of the Republic", after Mrs. O'Donnell belted out an amazing first verse as a solo!
Which proves the old Scottish saying, "Whit’s fur ye’ll no go by ye!"
My favorite moment was at the conclusion of the service, when a twelve year old Portuguese "lad" sat on the piano bench by his American teacher who's been in Lisbon 20 years and played "Stars and Stripes Forever"! What a moment! We all burst into applause! And he took a bow!
Because no matter how different we are, we all need encouragement!
And there was the beautiful moment when we stood and recited the "Lord's Prayer" together.
Because no matter how different we are, we're all one family in the Kingdom of God.
And there was a young Chinese couple in the back. He wound up "photo-bombing" every photo they took of us afterwards, creeping into each picture! But during the sermon, she nodded and quietly mouthed the word, Amen!" to every thing I said in my message.
Because no matter how different we are, God is always working.
Or as we say in the Church of Scotland, "Mony a mickle maks a muckle!"
I think that means…
"Now the news!"
Bet you thought this was Tom writing to give you a weekly dose of encouragement before the announcements about what’s going on in the life of our church. Well, I am trying to do that encouragement thing, only it’s not Tom writing you, it’s Lee. Or rather, I am Lee.
You probably thought I was Tom because he’s the dude who always writes these little meditations every week to give us something fun, sweet, true, good and even surprisingly deep to think about at the end of the work day before we head into our weekend.
He writes to keep us encouraged…
To keep us pumped up about Jesus and our walk with Him…
To help us remember all the little things that are really big things in our faith…
To keep us putting one foot in front of the other as we walk with our Lord…
You probably also thought this was Tom because of the way I started it out. You see, as I sat down to start writing this thing, I automatically typed, “Hey Everyone!” just like Tom always does. I didn’t even mean to. The keys “H-e-y - E-v-e-r-y-o-n-e-!” just sort of typed themselves without any planning on my part whatsoever. I inadvertently did it like he does it.
Actually, that’s becoming kind of a theme in my life. Over the past 18 years or so, I have picked up a lot of stuff from our pastor. Little-by-little, that guy - his heart, his way of doing things and his style is creeping into who I am more and more. To be honest, I think that could be said of most of the folks at Triple C. In fact, I bet lots of us would stand up and say that the most mature parts of our thinking and the most solid parts of our faith are the parts we picked up from Tom. Probably, most of us Triple C-ers would say that the Tom-ish parts of our hearts are the most “Awesome” parts about us. (and we totally would say “Awesome” with four or five exclamation points!!!!!)
Tom would probably croak (whoa, I never used that word before meeting him) if he heard me talking like this, but actually, it’s a pretty appropriate response. If God puts someone sweet, sincere, servant-hearted, faithful, wise and full of love in your life, then by all means, become like him! If God puts a shepherd like that over the flock where you’re grazing, then by all means, follow him!
In 1 Corinthians chapter 4 and in chapter 11, Paul is even so bold as to talk this way about himself! He says, “I urge you to imitate me.” and “Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ.” And he was right! Those crazy Corinthians needed to become like Paul!
Around 18 years ago, I was a punk. I was an over-confident, selfish senior in high school who was shipwrecking my heart and my life as fast as I knew how. I was distressed and destructive and as haughty as I acted, I felt so unbelievably alone. I needed someone to talk to and Tom answered the phone. He met me for lunch. Tina made us sandwiches. He looked me in the eye. He asked me about my life. I could tell he cared. It was the best day…
And now, almost twenty years later, I have a life, a marriage, a ministry and a heart that loves Jesus more than I ever imagined was possible. Because of Tom, I love John Wesley, William Wilberforce, Augustine, Spurgeon, Newton, Bunyan, Campbell Morgan, Hudson Taylor and the dang Earl of Shaftesbury! Because of him, I have a church family in all of you folks - my brothers and sisters in Christ! And together, we’re growing and changing!
Because of Tom, we care about widows and orphans in India and ex-gang members in Chicago! (Psst! Don’t forget to make cookies for us this Sunday!) Because of Tom, we love prisoners in Morgan County and Bible translators in Africa! We care about lost people in Missouri, Houston, Anderson County, France, Spain, Italy, Jerusalem and on and on! Because of that dude, our hearts are growing and our faith is seasoning. Because of him, we all cry a little more than we used to, and that’s not a bad thing.
When God gives you a gift like Tom, you do whatever it takes to become as much like him as you possibly can.
So, let’s all crank up the bluegrass, turn on a baseball game and have an AWESOME day!! It’s what he would do.