Sunday, April 29, 2007

Conquering Sin – How to win the Game

We all get tempted. Some more than others. Sin is pleasurable, tasty, and sweet. But, as the Bible says, it is only for a short time. Then we’re racked with guilt and shame and we’re left seeking restoration and repentance. Sometimes it can really take an emotional toll on us. So, how do we avoid having to go through all of that? The following three steps may be of help to you. No one said it will be easy, and sometime it takes hard work. But the rewards and blessings for obeying God and living according to His will, are too great to measure.

God.
Think on Him. Develop an intimate relationship with Him.
You know, we hear that quite a lot, don’t we? “God desires a relationship with you”, "Develop a relationship with God”, "Work on your relationship with Christ”. That word just keeps popping up.
As often as we see it, or hear it, are we really listening to what is being said? Are we getting the meaning of that one word? Do you know which word it is?
Relationship. That is indeed a big word.

Relationship.

It is what everything revolves around but all too often we tend not to see it, or want to deal with it.

Life is about relationships. You may have heard that before, but do you really know what it means? It is about how we get along with each other. How we treat each other. How we respond to other people, in various situations and settings.


So, how do we establish and build on a relationship with God? Well, how do you do that with your best friend?

Talk to them, spend time with them, share your feelings and emotions and inner-most thoughts with them. Same with God. Invest some time in Him. Get to know Him. He already knows you. After all, He is the One who created you. He already knows everything there is to know about you. All He desires is that we spend the time to get to know Him. That’s how a friendship works, isn’t it? Give and take, from both sides. God has done His part. Won’t you do yours?

Focus.
The next step in winning the game against sin is to stay focused. Focus on what? Focus on God. Keep your mind and thoughts focused on the things of God. The Bible tells us to take each thought captive. Whenever we have sinful thoughts or desire, we need to take those thoughts and desires and give them to God right away. When we lose focus, or take or minds off of the things of God, the powers of darkness will work their way in and present a very tempting deal. Stay focused, develop an intimate relationship with God, and it will lead us to the next step in winning this game.

Control.
Who is in control? God is in control.
You have a choice. Who will be in control of your life? Will it be you? God? The devil? It is up to you. God gave us free will. We are free to choose if we will follow Him, or something/someone else. How do we maintain control? By doing the first two items above. Also, having an accountability partner never hurts, either. Someone we can talk to, someone who will lift us up when we feel down, and someone who will remind us to “be good”. I have such an accountability partner. My very best friend. She is most certainly the truest friend I have ever known. She reminds me of my promise, to her and to God, to “be good” and not to give in to temptations.

One thing not mentioned above is how to accomplish each of these things. The way to accomplish this revolves around one simple word: Prayer.

Remember to pray. When tempted, when I feel down, when the enemy tries to gain a stronghold – I pray. My accountability partner prays with me and for me also. The power of prayer is a tremendous force. And – it works!

This is how to win the game. Sure, you may stumble, or even fall, but don’t be discouraged. God is always there to pick you back up. Trust in Him, and in the end, you will win the game.


Blessings.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Potty Humor and “That Look”

It seems that a lot of comedians these days that think the use of “potty humor” is funny. I’ve heard these guys. They’re not funny. Their kind of potty humor is sophomoric, gross and stupid. And they just keep on getting worse until someone laughs. I took my wife to a comedy club once because I thought we might have a good time and enjoy some laughs together. Instead, those so-called “comedians” weren’t nearly as funny as they were vulgar. The next time we go to a comedy place, Alpha Dude will be on stage. Because, seriously, even unprepared, I could do ten minutes up there and get more laughs and not use one swear word or sexual reference.

When I think of potty humor, I think of telling my teenagers about the times when they were about three years old and we were trying to get them house-broken. I don’t like the term “potty training”, it just sounds so juvenile. Besides, a dog that has learned where to poop is considered house-broke, so why not children? These stories are even better when you discuss them when their friends are around.

I remember when my son was about three years old, and I could hear his voice from the upstairs bathroom.

“Daaaaaddd! I need wiiiiiiped!”

(looking around) “Honey?”

Why is she never around when I need her? And why is he yelling for me?
There’s nothing more humbling than wiping the butt of a three year old.
All those years of school, two college degrees, a respected member of our church leadership, and my life is defined by wiping my son’s butt.

Glory.

Something else that happens around the same time as potty-training, is when small children first experience “passing gas”. Come on now, let’s face it, sometimes farting is funny. (Unless you’re the recipient/victim). But for a toddler, farting for the first time can be a little scary, until they learn what it is and then they really have a good time with it. One little “poot” can turn into a major giggle-fest.

I remember one day when our little farting machine was gearing up for a good one. The sinister look on his face meant he was waiting for the pressure to build up so he could surprise his next victim (usually me).

He walked up next to me, gritted his teeth, let out a grunt, and then froze.
The frightened look on his face, that wide-eyed “Oops” look, said it all.
In his half-squat, just-about-to-fart pose, he waddled to the bathroom as fast as his little legs would take him. I could just imagine him “prairie-doggin’” it all the way there.


After a few minutes, I heard his tiny voice from the bathroom,

“Daaaaaddd! I need wiiiiiiped! And clean underwearrrrrr!”

Shortly after that, I had the following conversation with his mother:

“We taught him how to use the toilet, why can’t we teach him to wipe himself?”

“Because his arms are too short. So we have to help him.”

“So, because God didn’t make his little arms long enough, I have to wipe his butt?
I mean, why can’t we just leave him in diapers until his arms get longer?”

She didn’t answer. I just got “That Look”.

That Look” has been around for a long, long time. It can take on different meanings and get different results. But “That Look” basically says only one thing:
“Just do what I’m thinking and don’t make me have to tell you!”

That can also be translated into
“Stop talking”
“You are such a moron”
“Go away” or
”It would be a good idea to buy me jewelry”
(or all of the above).

The Bible even leads us to believe that Jesus got “That Look” from his mother.
(No, I'm not kidding).
You see, at the beginning of His ministry, Jesus attended a wedding.
His mother was also there.
When they ran out of wine, Jesus’ mother simply told him, “They’re out of wine”.
Knowing what she meant, Jesus told her, “Woman, it is not yet my time”.

I don’t know about you, but if I had addressed my mother as “Woman…”, I’d be picking my teeth up off the floor!

But the next thing we read in the second chapter of John, is that after basically telling her “No”, Mary turns to the servants nearby told them to do what Jesus tells them to do. And then Jesus did just what His mother told Him, which was to make more wine! They didn’t argue, they didn’t discuss it, they didn’t talk about it anymore at all. Jesus just simply obeyed his mom. So you KNOW she gave him “That Look”. She must have!

Think about this! In the first chapter of John, we read,
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” (John 1:1-3)

John is talking about Jesus here. We know that Jesus is the Son of God. His name means “God with us”. Jesus is God in the flesh. Right? So you know what that means?

Mary gave God “That Look”!! (That is one brave woman).

But I would guess that Mary would be the only one who could get away with giving God “That Look”. After all, she’s the one who changed the Lord’s poopy diapers when he was little, so I suppose that gave her the right to certain liberties.

(It’s okay, you can come out now. Lightning didn’t strike).

So maybe I’ll sign up for “Open Mic” night at the local comedy club sometime. (Once I build up the nerve). I've spoken in front of large groups before. But it was at church and the last time they let me behind the mic to give my testimony (about being Alpha Dude) I used a Whoopie Cushion. (another story for another time).
The hardest part, I think, will be the fact that they only give you three minutes. I was raised Southern Baptist and come from a long line of Southern Baptist preachers. It takes us more than three minutes just to say “Hello”. So I’ll see if I can cram something funny into a measly three minutes and let you know.

Maybe I’ll look at it as “Mission Work” for those who think vulgarity is funny.


Blessings.

Friday, April 20, 2007

I Must Be Famous or something….

First, an update.
My darling little wife Patch (The “One-Eye” Love), is starting to get itchy. I think that means she is beginning to heal since she’s also getting some feeling back in her eye. She must be eating her chocolate.
We can’t get her white gauze eye patch wet, so she can’t shower to wash her hair. She can take a bath, though. So I bought her some rubber duckies to play with in the tub. She thought that was silly, but when I got home the next night, they were unpackaged and sitting by the tub. (Hmmmmm……)

She was complaining about her hair being “greasy” so I rigged up the kitchen island next to the sink, propped her up with some towels for comfort and washed her hair in the kitchen sink. Salon style. Anything for the “One-Eye” love.

Last night I took her to dinner and then to the grocery store. They only had one checkout lane open and the line was long. The store’s assistant manager came over and led us to an empty checkout lane that she opened just for us. She told other customers that she was only doing this for us and that this lane is closed. She must have thought we are celebrities or something. Maybe she’s read my blog.
Any prideful feelings were quickly dashed when she asked for my Kroger card and I confidently handed her my Marsh card. I got teased about that and had to hear about it all the way home. Right store, wrong card.

I really must be famous or something because I am being interviewed by another famous celebrity blogger by the name of That Chick Over There. Her real name is….yeah right, she doesn’t reveal that on her own blog, so out of respect, you won’t find it here either.

I don’t believe Barbara Walters or Katie Couric would ask me these particular questions, but I did leave myself open to that quirky chick’s weirdness, so without further adieu, here’s what her inquiring mind wants to know…….

1) You have the option to become a woman. Do you? Why or why not?
No. Absolutely not. Why? Because I am a wimp. I don’t think I have the kind of strength it takes to be a woman. Women have babies, and having been present at my children’s births, I cannot see why anyone would voluntarily go through that more than once. Women also put up with a lot of stuff from their husbands and children. They have the patience of a saint. Why else do you think fathers tell their children “Go ask your mother”? Also, high heels, panty hose, girdles, bras, that monthly visit from aunt flo? Sorry, I just couldn’t handle it.
Don’t get me wrong. I love, respect, admire and adore women, I just wouldn’t want to be one of them. I like being able to pee standing up.


2) You are given the ability to commit a crime with absolutely no repercussions. Which crime do you choose and why?
To pummel and hang the bad red dude. A little red car cut me off on my way to work this morning. The road I take doesn’t allow many opportunities to go around or pass someone who is going …….way……to…….slow. As we approached the intersection to make a turn, this amazing young fellow slowed down just short of stopping, waited until the light changed to red, and then took off. Leaving me in the middle of the intersection with oncoming traffic approaching. The first time I figured he was just an idiot who didn’t know where he was. I was not tailgating and I was not being pushy. However, he did this to me a second time on a wide and sweeping left turn. This also enabled me to see his face, and he was grinning and laughing at me. I saw the devil’s face this morning and he laughed at me.
Actually, pounding this twerp may not be a crime. It could be considered a public service.
Sorry if that seems lame. It just isn’t in me to commit a crime, so it is difficult to come up with something. Besides, who wants the FBI pounding on their door? “Sir? About that desire to staple Hillary Clinton’s mouth shut…” See? Another public service. Not a crime.

3) You can confront someone in your life (or your past) and say whatever you feel like. They are not allowed to respond to you in any way. Who do you confront and what would you say?
Dear ex-wife,
You never once affirmed me or acknowledged any of my accomplishments. I did so much for you and tried my best to better myself in every way so you would always have everything you would ever need or desire. Instead of affirmation, you ridiculed me and made fun of me in front of family, friends and our children. I was the only person in your life who loved you unconditionally and stood by you no matter what. I was willing to do whatever it took to help you and see you through your problems. But you threw me away. I guess you really are afraid to let anyone get too close.
I had no choice but to move on and now have a wife who appreciates me and affirms me. Because of the hell you put me through that forced me to grow and become a better husband, a better father and a better man of God, my new wife is forever grateful. Because of your hatred, meanness and selfishness, she is now reaping the benefits of what you so casually tossed aside. She said to tell you “Thanks”. You blew it.

4) If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
Chocolate. Do you really need a reason why?

5) When was the exact moment you knew for sure you would marry your wife?
Right after she said “yes”.

Actually…..we had gotten to know each other rather well through our letters to each other (pen pals, remember?). In one letter she said she was falling in love with me. I told her I had a lot of faults (at least that’s all I heard about in my first marriage), and asked her if she could love me in spite of all my faults. She said she loved me, not in spite of my faults, but because of them. I felt warmth return to my heart where there was once coldness and bitterness. She was for real and I desired at that moment to spend the rest of my life to show her how much I appreciate all that she is. And we hadn’t even physically met in person yet.



So there you have it. There were no questions about foreign policy, religion or that Winnebago in Winnemucca so I guess the interview went relatively smoothly.


If you wanna play, here’s what you do.

1. Leave me a comment saying, “Interview me.” If I don’t have your email address, leave it for me in the comments.

2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.

3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.

4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.

5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.



Batter Up!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Et Tu, Alpha Dude?

It has been said, by people much smarter than me, that if you want to have a friend, first you must be a friend.

Sometimes, I’m not such a good friend.

A while back, a very dear friend of mine had some minor surgery done (by the way, this same friend has recently pointed out that it is only considered “minor” surgery when it is someone else), but I didn’t find out about it until after the fact. Some vague references were made towards the upcoming event but I never knew exactly what he was having done, or when it was happening. I didn’t find out until I saw his wife at church and asked where he was. “Oh, he’s at home recovering. He just had his surgery, you know”.

No, I didn’t know. I’d wished I had. I would like to have been able to do something for him. The whole thing left me feeling somewhat less valued as his friend. I mean, this guy stood up with me at my wedding, he’s my accountability buddy. He corrects me when I mess up. He’s not afraid to give it to me straight when I’m out of line. When I need a swift kick in the pants, he’s there for me. When I need words of comfort or encouragement, he’s there. He’s my friend, my brother in Christ.
At the drop of a hat, if he needs me for anything, I’m there. What ever he needs help with, count me in. No questions. I trust him.

Neither of us are ones to just let things go, so we talked about it (after he was well). It turns out he just hadn’t given it much thought. I guess most fellows are like that. We just don’t see any reason to burden our friends with our problems. But…..THAT’s what we’re here for! Isn’t it?

What goes around, comes around, right? Right.

A couple of weeks ago,
my wife had a small bump removed from her lower left eyelid. It had been there for a while and just wouldn’t go away. In fact, it kept getting bigger and more uncomfortable, so she asked her doctor about it. He removed it and had it analyzed.

Cancer.

The tumor was spreading on the inside of her lower left eyelid, and her doctor scheduled her to see a specialist who could remove the tumor without any scarring. The procedure requires the removal of the eyelid, removing the bad tissue, and replacing the eyelid. Her surgery was on Monday. My wife wasn’t too concerned about the whole thing, so neither was I. Until Sunday night when she began to think about the procedure.

I assured her that everything would be okay and that I will be there to comfort her, hold her, and take care of her. After that she seemed more concerned with the fact that she wasn’t allowed anything to eat or drink after midnight.

Before we left for the hospital Monday morning, I finally sent out an e-mail to our friends to ask them to pray for my wife and briefly told them what is going on.

I think those surgical people have a weird sense of humor. They don’t let you eat or drink anything, so what do you see when you first get off the elevator?
A nice little café with plenty of food and beverages.
I did my best to steer her attention away from it so she wouldn’t think about the food. Out of respect for my wife, I didn’t have anything to eat or drink either. We are in this life together, we are a team.
I stayed with her as long as they’d let me, and as soon as they wheeled her to the operating room – I was in that café. It was then that I noticed I had a message on my cell phone.
Remember
my friend I mentioned earlier? It was him.
“Hey you little weasel! Why are you just now telling us about this?”
So I called him back and ate a little crow with my lunch.

After the procedure, which took way longer than it was supposed to, the doctor came out to explain why. Her tumor was more than they had originally thought so it took longer to remove and they had to do a skin graft from her upper eye lid. Her left eye is now sutured shut for the next 6 to 8 weeks so it can heal properly. Then we go back in so they can re-open the eye. (More surgery).
She has to keep the patch on over her eye until the end of this week.

After a while they let me into the recovery area so I could take care of her. The nurse said she’d been asking for me since she got there. Even in a hospital bed, with the big white gauze eye patch on her face, and no make-up, she’s still the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. I never thought she needed any make-up anyway.

When she was ready to go home, I helped her get dressed and packed her stuff in her bag so I could take her home. I knew she was in a lot of pain, and when I turned to her, she was standing straight up and raised her hands up to shoulder level with her palms facing me. Sort of an “I surrender” pose. She had a slight grin.

I asked if she was okay and reached for her hands. She intertwined her fingers in mine, pulled me close and softly said, “May I have this dance?”
Even after surgery, and in immense pain, she still amazes me and is the most awesome and wonderful person I know. She is most definitely the truest friend I have ever known.

I got her home, set her up comfortably on the couch, got her prescription filled and took care of her the best I can.

At our church, most everyone knows me as “
Alpha Dude”. Many of the people there don’t know my real name. Some of them refer to my wife as “Mrs. Alpha Dude”. She doesn’t care for that too much. So I suggested we introduce ourselves from now on as “Alpha Dude” and his lovely wife “Patch”.

I didn’t know a woman could give her husband “that look” with only one eye.

I was wrong. (Sorry, Honey)


I think she still loves me, though.

She's practicing saying things like "Arrrrrr......" and "Ahoy thar, matey!"
She's getting better all the time.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

My Morning Prayer

I want to thank you, Lord,
For being with me
So far this day.

With Your help,
I haven't been impatient,
Lost my temper,
Been grumpy,
Or envious of anyone.

But I'll be getting
Out of bed in a minute,
And I think I will
Really need your help then.



Monday, April 09, 2007

Does God Heal Today?

Tonight’s lesson for the Alpha Sprouts is called, “Does God Heal Today?”

Alpha Dude will make his grand entrance wearing a stethoscope and ask the kids “Hey Dudes! Remember me? What’s my name?”

"ALPHA DUUUUDE!!!"

“Nuh Uh. Not today. Today I’m Doctor Alpha Dude! See this here heartbeat listener thingy? That makes me a doctor, right?”

Of course they know better and we have some fun talking about that.

In all this time I’ve been the Alpha Dude, I have learned that most children under the age of eight have a rather difficult time pronouncing the word “STETHOSCOPE”. I’ve heard a lot of admirable attempts, but very few kids can say that particular word. For that matter, I know a lot of adults that can’t pronounce it either!
From what I can figure is that by the time a child sees one of those heartbeat listener thingies, it is too late to get all the words out.

“Oh, Hi, Doctor. Is that your stetosco…..Ooohh that’s Cold!”

We have a lot of fun, but eventually I get them turned back towards the lesson.

We talk about how God heals people and that the Bible has a lot of stories about healing and miracles. Then I ask them if they know of anyone who has been healed in such a way that would be known as a miracle.

Then I remembered a story about something that happened to me a long time ago.
(I know, I’ve always got a story, huh? So why should this time be any different?)

When I was 19, I worked as a lifeguard at a local public pool. After work one day my mother, little sister and I went to the airport to pick up my Dad. His car had broken down as he arrived at the airport a couple of days earlier as he was leaving on a business trip. He had asked me to take a look at his car and see if I could get it running before his plane landed.

We found his car right where he said it would be. I got out of my mother’s big International Scout II (a four-wheel drive tank of a car), opened the hood of Dad’s car and went to work. Before crawling under the car to check something, my mother and I had agreed she should park her Scout in the empty space next to Dad’s car.

I crawled under the car and started looking for reasons why his car’s engine may have stopped running. My legs were sticking out from under the front of the car.
I was wearing, over my swimsuit, a pair of flared-bottom jeans.
(It was the early 80’s and I just couldn’t find any bell-bottom jeans to wear).


I couldn’t see what was going on, but I heard my mother start up the Scout and assumed she was backing into the empty space next to Dad’s car. I felt my little sister step on my pant leg. Before I could yell for her to “Get of my le….” the rapidly increasing pressure on my lower right leg indicated to me that this just might not be my little sister standing on my pant leg.

I found out later that my mother, being as she is completely, totally and legally blonde*, decided to drive down closer to the terminal so we would be easier for Dad to find.

Dad parked the car right here.
Dad told US where to find it.
I do believe Dad knew exactly where we were!


Before I could get any words out to tell my sister to get off my leg……CRUNCH!

My own mother had just run over my right leg with an American Made, Four Wheel Drive TRUCK! This truck was built back when they still had steel dashboards!
It was kind of heavy.

What began as “Get off my le….” Came out as “AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!”

“Oh my! What was that?”

“You just ran over Alpha Dude’s leg!”

So she backed the truck up. Crunch. Again.

And again……”AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!”

Lying there in excruciating pain, my mother, bless her little blonde* heart, got out of her Scout and ran over to where I was writhing in pain.

“Are you okay?”

“No. You just ran me over with your truck!”

“Oh son, I’m so sorry. Here, let me help you out of there.”

So, she grabbed my leg and started trying to pull me out from under the car.

My response?

”AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!! That’s the leg you just ran over!”

So she let go.



Thud.

”AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!”

I then curled up into a ball underneath that car, afraid for my life.

It took her a while, but my mother was finally able to coax me out from under the car. I can understand something like this happening, but …by my own Mother??

As you may have guessed, my leg was broken. Badly.

And it hurt like crazy.
Then, while leaning against the side of the car, legs outstretched in front of me, my mother knelt down. With tears streaming down her face, she placed her hands on my crushed lower right leg. She closed her eyes, bowed her head and prayed in a loud and authoritative voice,

“Most Gracious Lord God. In Jesus’ name, please heal my son!”

It still hurt.

Just about that time my Dad came walking up to where we all were, crouched by the side of the car.

“What’s going on?”

“Mom ran over Alpha Dude with the truck.”

“Holy Crap.”

Dad’s car still didn’t work so we all loaded up in the Scout and drove to the hospital.

When we got there, Dad ran inside to get help while mom helped me out of the Scout.
Before the nurse could reach us with a wheelchair, I walked into the emergency room.
On my own.
The doctor examined me and was told, by everyone, what had happened. He said he also drove a Scout and was quite sure my leg was broken. That’s when the nurse told him, “Doctor, he walked in here.”

“No way.”

They X-Rayed my leg and the pictures showed absolutely nothing but healthy bone. Not even a crack, and there were no visible bruises. My leg was warm and throbbing, but other than a hole in my sock and the skin missing on my ankle from where it was ground into the pavement, my leg was fine.
I was told to keep my leg iced and elevated and to not go to work for a few days.
I went to work the next day anyway. Other than being a little sore, my leg was fine.

After a few days, I wasn’t limping and the scrape on my ankle was healing.

God is Good. Jesus is Lord.

And yes, my friends, God does still heal today.
I am walking proof of it.

I still have the scar.

Walk in love.





*(Please forward all anti-blonde-joke hate mail to the attention of Alpha Dude, in care of this blog.)


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

We're Getting Wet...

It was a dark and stormy night......

Okay, not really (I just always wanted to start a story like that).

It is early afternoon. The sky just went dark
The sun was shining brightly this morning and the temperature was quite warm and pleasant. But over the last hour or so, the sky has grown increasingly dark. Dark enough that the street lights have come on. And then the rain came. Hard. I can see lightening flashing on the horizon.

The weatherman was right today. We’re getting those severe thunder storms he warned us about.

It is that time of year again. That “April Showers” time of year. This storm reminded me of when this happened, right about this same time last year.

I am still trying to get grass to grow in the bare spot in the front yard.