The Spiritual GPS

Having just returned from two trips in the last week, I must say, I love GPS technology. As a Imagecountry boy, I am not only  fascinated by the maps that constantly change as you drive forward, but the Betsy TomTom voice who tells you, “At 800 yards turn left and stay in the right lane,” and other valuable advice.

I believe, however, it would be a great advancement to have a button on the bottom left hand corner of the devise that tells the gadget that you are taking a detour, break or respite. For all the gizmo can do, it seems like a simple concept to put the directions on hold until you push the button again. It would save me the embarrassment of arguing with a chunk of electronics about a bathroom stop.

The concept of a voice and directions in the vehicle which knows the right directions and communicates them as needed is not new to mankind. “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment…” John 16:7-8.

When we are saved, we receive the very Spirit of God. Through God’s Spirit, His very voice directs us in what to do, where to go, what to say, and what to believe.

It occurred to me that many times I try to push the “pause” button; to ignore His voice to take a detour, as if I know better than God. I argue with Him, trying to convince Him, and myself, that my selection, turn and choice is better, at least for the moment.

My prayer is that I will always listen to the spiritual GPS God has placed inside me.


Retirement the right way

Retiring and catching up on my blog….Image

It is getting late at night. Considering the course of the day, it has been another adventure in the Kingdom of God. It was a time of accountability, problem solving, benevolence and ministry, study, creative writing, baseball (the Rangers lost this afternoon, so it wasn’t a perfect day), cooking (chili cook-off coming up), enjoying time with my wife, playing catch with my dog and finishing up correspondence. Funny, it was supposed to be my day off. Or, my weekly retirement.

In a sense, it was a day off. It was a day I got to do what I find my greatest joy in; strengthening an already strong friendship, seeing someone grow in Christ, helping a struggling couple with some financial needs, learning some things in God’s word, writing poetry, watching baseball, playing with my dog, enjoying my wife’s company, writing encouragement to friends…. As the commercial used to say, life doesn’t get any better than this.

Which made me think about my retirement. You know, those days off that run together to make weeks. I have no fear of retirement for two reasons. First, what I will do in retirement is very similar to what I do daily (but for less money). Secondly, it is hard to be afraid of something that is so far away.

Actually, I will not consider myself retired until I walk on streets of gold. I will insist on going barefoot. Going bare footed on gold is what I considered the ultimate demonstration of retirement.

Liebster Award

I would like to thank the blogster Gene’s Musings ( for nominating my poetry site ( for the Liebster Award. Below is a copy of the information about the award presented by fellow bloggers.

The Liebster Award is very unique in the fact it brings recognition to the smaller blogs of the ‘verse.  With that in mind, all of the nominated blogs will have under 200 followers.

Liebster Award

The rules:

1. Thank the Liebster Blog presenter who nominated you and link back to their blog.

2. Post 11 facts about yourself, answer the 11 questions you were asked and create 11 questions for your nominees.  

3. Nominate 11 blogs who you feel deserve to be noticed and leave a comment on their blog letting them know they have been chosen.  

4. Display the Liebster Award logo. 

5.  No tag back thingys.

To begin with the nominees:

~Click on the names to visit ~ recommended by Gene’s Musings.

  1. Carol J Forrester – Writing and Works
  2. Rosemary S.
  3. Beltway Fan Fiction.
  4. Rebel Darling
  5. Droplets of Motion
  6. Musings of  A Capricious Intellectual
  7. Dancing Bee Poetry
  8. Pastor Tim’s Poems
  9. Mused by Magdalene
  10. calliopes lyre
  11. The Poet Laura Ate

The following are 11 questions for me to answer:

  1. What makes you want to write/blog? I enjoy communicating, particularly what I understand as truth and/or humor.
  2. What time of day is your time to write?  Usually in the late mornings or afternoons.
  3. What is your favorite drink? Coke Zero.
  4. What is your least favorite topic – what are you tired of hearing about?  Politics.
  5. What is your favorite restaurant? I like Applebees, but will not turn down any.
  6. When you close your eyes to sleep, what thoughts help you drift off? How can I discover more truth about God and communicate it?
  7. If you had to spend a day walking would you prefer in a city, on a beach, seaside, country field, secluded forest or other?  An interesting city, like San Antonio’s River Walk.
  8. What is your favorite book/movie?  I am still pumped about 

    Dawn of World Redemption: Erich Sauer, G.H. Lang.

  9. Are you a confident writer?  No, I am usually shocked that anybody cares.
  10. What topics would you like to see blogged about?  Forgiveness and reconciliation.
  11. How bored have all these questions made you? As boring as the answers, unfortunately.

Here are my 11 questions for the nominees:

  1. What do you enjoy writing about? Christian growth.
  2. When did you first start blogging? In July of 2011, I stopped cluttering up Facebook with my ramblings and posted them to a blog.
  3. What was the last book that you read? Hope in the Face of Conflict: Making Peace with Others the Way God Makes Peace with Us, by Kenneth Newberger.
  4. Why did you choose it? Reconciliation and forgiveness is a topic I am studying intently now.
  5. If you could meet any non-Biblical character, who would it be? John Newton.
  6. Why? (see #5) He is as close to a biblical non-biblical character as I could think of.
  7. What is the most exotic place you’ve visited? lol, California or Las Vegas.
  8. What is an item on your bucket list? Hawaii.
  9. When is the last time you slept outdoors? Not sure.
  10. If you could be any movie character, who would it be? Not sure again.
  11. Are you the oldest child, youngest child, in the middle, or only child? MIddle child.

I will post my eleven nominees as I find them.

Memories of Natalie and the others

Just some reflections and memories aroused by attending Natalie Alexander’s visitation at the funeral home.

Natalie was a young lady born with Spina Bifida. We met Natalie when she and Ryan, or son, were going to physical therapy as babies. Her mother, Vicki, and Laura, my wife, became friends and spent much time together in thousands of activities. Both families, as well as dozens of others, had been thrown into a lifestyle and commonality that presented both challenges and opportunities, both joy and pain, both riches and poverty; raising a child who had disabilities.

It was moving to see the faces. The children, children no longer, but young adults in their wheel chairs. Their parents, now much older, with whom we shared priceless memories, thousands of laughs, cheers for our kids and restaurant meals.

The caregivers who volunteered for camps, outings, special parties and fund-raisers, sports teams; who changed diapers, wiped up vomit, applied Band-Aids and bandages, and hugged disabled children.

The memories flooded in about wheelchair track meets, basketball games, fishing tournaments, flying outings, camps, parties, meetings, trainings, trips….

Memories which took place at gyms, running tracks, meeting rooms, hospitals, doctors’ offices….

Some memories brought smiles, like the tall, skinny Jewish Santa Clause at the Rick Amber Challenge Air Christmas parties. The dances, seeing the children laughing and giggling as they twirled their wheelchairs at the Scottish Rite parties. Hearing a child squeal when he or she pulled up a fish at a tournament or picnic. Watching a child in a sit-ski flying across the lake behind a boat, wearing a smile that would light the darkest night.

Other memories brought tears. Seven of the children are gone now; seven of the group who clung together for strength, love and acceptance when often that was not offered by the outside world at school. Seven precious faces smiling upward from their wheelchairs at the love and acceptance that each of us parents showered on the whole gang.

Images also brought tears and speechlessness, like seeing the living young adults, hurting from another loss, cry, reach out to each other, wondering why so many of such a small group have left this world.

For me, the memories of those times seem like another life. It is not that Laura and I had decided to move on, but without that intention, we did. Our son, now on his own and our ministry in another part of the world, we left the activities of raising disabled children to our memories.

However, the memories that we have cause great joy and are valued as priceless. Today, however, they are the reason for our pain.

Sin, Spiritual Growth and Food Allergies? Huh?

ImageI have some kind of dairy allergy. It has never been officially diagnosed, but what good would that do? A test would simply tell me something which my stomach tells me every time I eat dairy products.

My problem is that I love ice cream, cheese, and sour cream. Even though they make me very ill, the temptation is more powerful than my will power. Sometimes I am convinced that I am committing a slow and painful suicide by udder.

I am convinced, I will not give up dairy products until the pain and discomfort overwhelms my desire for the pleasure of dairy product.

When you came into the world, you were handed over to people who practice sin. I don’t care how saintly your parents or guardians were, they had not arrived at sinless existence yet. They still practiced pride, self-protection, self-gratification, lust for pleasure and possession, and were controlled, at least in part, by passions, maybe in more subtle ways. But they were still there.

As soon as you were able to grunt and crawl around, you began elbowing a place for yourself among those who practiced sin. You observed and adopted some of their coping systems and formed them according to your sinful tendencies, or bent. You learned, according to your tendencies, how to get your way, at least a little. You learned how to express your dissatisfaction and manipulate those around you to adjust to your demands.

The Psalmist said the he was shaped in iniquity (Psalm 51:5). His parents were no worse than ours, so that would apply to us. The Apostle Paul explained that this was because of Adam’s failure and applies to everyone who is born with a human father (Romans 5:12-14).

When you were saved, accepting God’s offer for forgiveness through Jesus Christ, you developed a new spiritual allergy. It is the allergy to sin (1 John 5:18). It no longer is digested right in your soul, but causes bad ripple effects in all of your life. Sin is accompanied by a discomfort that really messes you up.

The problem is you just can’t seem to overcome the training and habits that you acquired in your rearing.

Paul put it like this:

 Yes. I’m full of myself—after all, I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison. What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary.

“But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.

“It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.

“I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope.” Romans 7:15-24 (The Message).

 Christian growth, in its most simple form, is developing new responses to life that are “God dependent” and not self-dependent. These new responses are chosen when the discomfort from our sin allergies is so uncomfortable, we forsake the sin for more healthy spiritual substance.

Why Universalism Flies in the Face of Love

ImageThere was a breach in our relationship. My friend and I were not speaking. Pride, wounds, unkind words and plenty of negative emotions separated us and stole our fellowship.

 I swallowed my pride, owned my responsibility, confessed my selfishness and anger to God and determined that I was going to try to restore the relationship. I took hat in hand, took a caring brother with me, and approached my wounded friend.

I took 100% of the responsibility for the conflict, expressed my sorrow in what I did, tried to express how I understood my friend’s pain and ask my friend if he could forgive me. His words stung me and still hurt today….

 “Oh, I forgive you, but I will not be your friend anymore.”

 Needless to say, I attempted to offer reconciliation by attempting to pay the price for it, but it was not accepted.

 When we were alienated from God, God sent His only Son to forgive us and restore our relationship with Him. He paid the full price for reconciliation and simply offered it to us.

 Universalism teaches that since Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, every sin is forgiven and everyone will ultimately end up in heaven. This is the message of the book “Love Wins” by Rob Bell. The weakness in this theology is that love must be accepted. The gift must be received. If not, it is not love.

 It is my hope that my friend will eventually receive my love so the relationship can be restored. It is also my mission to help everyone see their need to receive Jesus’ gift of love and be reconciled to God.

 1 Corinthian 5:20 – “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”

Why Shepherd David was not immediately ready…

ImageThen Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and get him, for we will not sit down till he comes here.” And he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. And the LORD said, “Arise, anoint him, for this is he.” Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah. 1 Samuel 16:11-13.

A young shepherd boy was anointed the next king of Israel after King Saul was rejected of the Lord. He had the Lord’s heart, a heavenly passion, was wise beyond his years, faith to defeat those who others feared, and a shepherd’s understanding of care. But he was not yet ready to reign. Not yet.

 God took 15 years to complete the development of the first important king of Israel. 15 years of trials, running, fear, some victories, many personal defeats, and constant conflict. What was missing? Why was David not ready?

 Maturity. Specifically, emotional maturity. It is a problem with passionate people. David was a passionate person.

Most define “a passionate person” as one who seems to feel emotions deeper and more powerfully than normal. That is a workable description. In return, “emotional maturity” is defined as being able to experience the same deep, powerful feelings and emotions without altering course, changing priorities, or turning to the right or to the left because of them. David had to mature emotionally.

 Our feelings and emotions are beautiful gifts from God. They add such important color to our days and importance to our experience. However, they were not given to us to give us direction. The direction to which they call for us is typically, almost universally, wrong.

 Ephesians 4:26 says, “Be angry and do not sin”. The common acceptance of this scripture is that anger in itself is not a sin but is to serve as a warning light that something is wrong. What is a sin is to obey its suggestions. This is true for any emotion or feeling, even mania, something that would cause you to remove your clothes and dance in the street at a victory (2 Sam. 6:14).

 David never fully learned to experience feelings without it affecting him. Much of the Psalms reflect that battle for a passionate person, but typically end with the affirmation that God calls us to do right by His instructions regardless of how we feel.

 Psalms 13  “How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken. But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.”