Thursday, December 25, 2008

Lines and Dots

The following was written by a dear friend of mine. It is presented here in it's entirety with his permission. I pray that it touches you as deeply as it touched me.

And when I looked, I saw a stage where four men stood. There were three canvases, two men stood before one canvas and the other two men had a canvas of their own.

The man on the left, with a single canvas, was drawing vertical lines. Most were straight lines of varying widths, but a few were curved or squiggly.

The man on the right with a single canvas was drawing, what seemed to be random dots and each dot had a number beside it.

The two men in the middle stood before the same canvas. This canvas was displayed by lines and rows of dots from edge to edge and top to bottom.

Nothing seemed to make sense. There was no artistic beauty or value to any of the canvases, white canvas with black lines or dots on them. I pondered the canvases for what seemed to be hours. As the men stood before their canvases they seemed to be waiting for further instructions. My pondering brought me to a dead end.

Finally, I asked the man who stood before the canvas with the lines on it, “Sir, does your canvas have a purpose? I’m sorry but I just don’t understand your picture.”

He said, “Lines are being drawn around the earth. Some lines are wide and some narrow, some are wavy and some are slightly curved or bent.”

“Sir”, I continued, “but why are the lines different?”

The man said, “Do you see the line in the middle?”

“I can see a line in the middle that is very narrow and is actually hard to see because it is so thin”.

“That thin line is God’s standard; it is His way and His truth. The other lines around on the left and on the right are man’s “ways” his “truths”. Some lines are wide and some are narrow, those are how man has chosen to live and the laws he has set for himself. Even though they are straight, they are very broad compared to God’s. The curved lines are the abominations against God’s law. The sharper the curves the more radical man has become.

As I looked at the canvas again I saw more of the reality of what the man was saying.

I then asked the other single man standing before his canvas, “Sir, what does your canvas mean, it is so random. It doesn’t seem to make sense like the one with the lines?”

As he began to speak he began to connect the dots. “My canvas has a picture on it. Each dot has a number by it and when you start at one and connect that dot to the dot which had the number two by it and then three and then four, by the time you have connected all the dots and returned to the number one dot, you have a complete picture.”

He continued to connect the dots and as he did, I began to see some things that looked familiar. When he had finished, it was a magnificent line picture which needed no color to enhance its beauty.

At that same time the two men, before on canvas of vertical dots and horizontal dots, began to connect the dots on their canvas. Each in turn would connect one dot to another on the vertical or horizontal axis. This process went on for hours and then something happened. One of the men boxed in a square and put his initial in the square, “J”. That set off a random set of connections and as the boxes were completed a “J” was put in the box.
What I now recognized as, the opponent in this game began to make his boxed connections, was the one with the most boxes, win’s the game.

As if my thoughts were being read by the man, who had marked the “J” in his box, he turned and gave me a stern look and without words, I sensed within myself, his words, “This is no “game”.

I had thought I was having a dream and it seemed to be like “The Price Is Right” and I had three doors to open and I could choose one of them. Only I was standing before three canvases, each profound and each prophetic. Then I realized that the two men before the lines and picture dots were angels. Then I realized the one man before the canvas who were connecting the dots and marking with a “J” was Jesus. The other man was marking with an “S” was Satan.
Then I truly understood that this was no “game”.

The war is on, lines are being drawn, the dots are being connected, and the souls of men are in the offing. Are you following the thin line of God’s way and God’s truth, or are you trying to bend the line to fit your life or lifestyle?
Are you broadening the line to make yourself feel better?

If an angel were to connect the dots of your life would we see a beautiful picture that needed no color to enhance its beauty?

Your life can be a beautiful picture when you begin to live God’s way and live God’s truth. All you have to do is say something like this, “God, if You are there and You can make me into a beautiful picture, go ahead and do it. I’m tired of my life the way it is, take it and make it into a beautiful picture.

Your Friend in Christ,
Ron Eskew

Monday, December 22, 2008

About those Wise Men.....

I saw a message recently. It is the same message written on different things. Sometimes I notice it on a bumper sticker, or on a t-shirt, but the message remains the same and I believe it speaks more truth than most people realize.

The message simply says this: “Wise men still seek Him”.

And this reminds me of a story.

In the Spring of 2005, I met a fellow, named Rick L., who later grew into one of the best friends I have ever known, and he strongly encouraged me to attend a Men’s Discipleship Walk. Repeatedly. He had just gotten back from a “Walk”, and was very enthusiastic about it. I was new to our church and wasn’t too sure I even wanted to go. I didn’t know anything about it. I had been on several men’s retreats before, but he assured me this one would be different. I agreed to go since I figured that if I didn’t, this guy wouldn’t leave me alone until I went on one.

One Thursday evening, all the new “disciples” were to meet at the church to travel up to….wherever the place was, but due to work issues, I got there a little late. In fact, all the other “disciples” had already left the church and were on their way to……someplace I didn’t know. Rick was there and I thought I would just ride up with him. That’s when he told me he wasn’t going, since he’d already been on the last Walk.

Now what do I do? I only know one person in this entire church and he isn’t going! I thought about leaving and going home but someone had already taken my bags. Since I had missed out on the meal (apparently they feed you first), the guys in the kitchen were rather gracious and quickly put something together for me to eat. (It was good!)
Then they said that there was another guy getting ready to go up to ….. that place I don’t know and had never been to before….. and that I could ride up with him. They just wouldn’t let me drive my own vehicle. Needless to say, I was starting to get concerned. Rick had already left. I was all alone.

One of the guys walked with me out to the front of the church where a car had just pulled up. The guy opened the door, ushered me inside the car and said that “Don” would be driving me up to the Walk. All this talk about a Walk made me wonder of I had the right shoes packed for this weekend.

The driver turned out to be a nice fellow named Don S. Don and I had a great time talking as he drove and we got to know each other during that hour or so drive. On that brief ride, Don inspired me more than he realized, so much in fact, that I have shared his story with many others.

Don told me that he has two copies of the DVD “The Passion of the Christ”. He has one in the video player in his home, and one in the drive in his laptop computer. He has memorized the location of the exact scene in the movie where it shows the beating, the punishment and the crucifixion of Jesus. Whenever he is feeling low, when he feels like life is unfair or if he’s just having a bad day, Don cues up that scene and watches it. He says it reminds him of what Jesus went through, just for us. I agree with Don when he said that none of my problems could ever measure up to the sacrifice or the pain that Jesus went through, just so that I wouldn’t have to personally experience that kind of pain and suffering.

None of my pains, none of problems, none of my discouragements, could ever equal what Christ did for me on the Cross.

The wise men (magi) who sought out the Christ child so long ago understood who they were looking for. When they found Him, they presented Him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Those first two gifts were fit for royalty, but the third represented His death. You see, in Jesus' day, bodies were wrapped in myrrh for burial. Myrrh's pungent odor neutralized the smell of decomposing flesh. Those men were not being disrespectful, they knew the real purpose of this new born king. They understood why He came here and what would be asked of Him.

They were wise men who sought Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the Most High God. And they found Him, right here on earth.

It is my desire and my intention to seek Him every day. To walk with Him, talk with Him (sounds like a song, doesn’t it), and fellowship with Him every day. And on those days when I get so caught up in myself that I forget, He seeks me out and reminds me that He loves me through my family, my friends, and all the other blessings He’s bestowed upon me. He has proven to me time and time again that His Word is true in that He is always with me, that He will never leave me and that He will never forsake me. I kind of like that.

Just some things to think about.

Blessings to you and yours.

Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas gift for my brother

As a joke, my brother Steve used to hang a pair of panty hose over his fireplace before Christmas. He said all he wanted was for Santa to fill them. What they say about Santa checking the list twice must be true because every Christmas morning, although Steve’s kids' stockings were overflowed, his poor pantyhose hung sadly empty.

One year I decided to make his dream come true. I put on dark sunglasses and went in search of an inflatable love doll. They don't sell those things at Wal-Mart. I had to go to an adult bookstore downtown.

If you've never been in an X-rated store, don't go. You'll only confuse yourself. I was there an hour saying things like, "What does this do? You're kidding me! Who would buy that?" Finally, I made it to the inflatable doll section.

Finding what I wanted was difficult. Love Dolls come in many different models. The top of the line, according to the side of the box, could do things I'd only seen in a book on animal husbandry. I settled for Lovable Louise. She was at the bottom of the price scale. To call Louise a doll took a huge leap of imagination.

On Christmas Eve and with the help of an old bicycle pump, Louise came to life.

Delsa, my sister-in-law was in on the plan and let me in during the wee morning hours. Long after Santa had come and gone, I filled the dangling pantyhose with Louise's pliant legs and bottom. I also ate some cookies and drank what remained of a glass of milk on a nearby tray. I went home, and giggled for a couple of hours.

The next morning my brother called to say that Santa had been to his house and left a present that had made him VERY happy but had left the dog confused. He would bark, start to walk away, then come back and bark some more.

We all agreed that Louise should remain in her panty hose so the rest of the family could admire her when they came over for the traditional Christmas dinner.

My grandmother noticed Louise the moment she walked in the door. "What the hell is that?" she asked. My brother quickly explained, "It's a doll."

"Who would play with something like that?" Granny snapped. I had several candidates in mind, but kept my mouth shut.

"Where are her clothes?" Granny continued.

"Boy, that turkey sure smells nice Gran", Steve said, to steer her into the dining room.

But Granny was relentless. "Why doesn't she have any teeth?" Again, I could have answered, but why would I? It was Christmas and no one wanted to ride in the back of the ambulance saying, "Hang on Granny, hang on!"

My grandfather, a delightful old man with poor eyesight, sidled up to me and said, "Hey, who's the naked gal by the fireplace?"

I told him she was Steve’s friend.

A few minutes later I noticed Grandpa by the mantel, talking to Louise. Not just talking, but actually flirting. It was then that we realized this might be Grandpa's last Christmas at home.

The dinner went well. We made the usual small talk about who had died, who was dying, and who should be killed, when suddenly Louise made a noise like my father in the bathroom in the morning. Then she lurched from the panty hose, flew around the room twice, and fell in a heap in front of the sofa.

The dog screamed. I passed cranberry sauce through my nose, and Grandpa ran across the room, fell to his knees, and began administering mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. My brother fell back over his chair and wet his pants.

Granny threw down her napkin, stomped out of the room, and sat in the car.

It was indeed a Christmas to treasure and remember.

Later in my brother's garage, we conducted a thorough examination to decide the cause of Louise's collapse. We discovered that Louise had suffered from a hot ember to the back of her right thigh.

Fortunately, thanks to a wonder drug called duct tape, we restored her to perfect health!

(actual author is unknown, but this is still pretty freakin’ funny)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Another One of Life’s Lessons…..

Sometimes It takes me a while to learn some of life’s lessons. I think that may have something to do with my attitude and admitting I may have something to actually learn from certain people.

When I was younger, my mother told me I would never amount to anything because I procrastinate. I told her, “You just wait!”

Okay, seriously, with all the nonsense that has occurred lately, I have had to ask myself, “What am I supposed to learn from this?”
I may not agree with a certain “leader” in my church, or even like him, but it still doesn’t change the fact that he holds that position in our church. You’ll notice I put the word “leader” in quotes. I am still struggling with the idea that this man holds any type of leadership position at all. Especially since I have been learning lately that there are several other people in our church that have had similar issues with him. (Each of those folks are very nice people with huge servant’s hearts and a strong passion for doing anything the Lord calls them to do). So I guess I don’t get the fact that I am apparently the only who dared step forward and try to hold this man accountable.

Either way, he is still in charge of that one ministry, and his wife is the chairman of the board of another major ministry in our church. Both ministries he said he would not allow me to serve in again. Like I said, I am still struggling with this. Sometimes I am certain that he believes that WWJD means "What Would Judas Do?"

I am reading a book right now (well, not right this minute, I can do a lot of things, but reading a book and typing this all out at the same time isn’t one of them). The book is by a minister named Mike G. Williams, and Mike (according to the cover of the book) is the third funniest man in America. The title of the book is “Turkey Soup for the Sarcastic Soul”. This is my kind of guy. I’ve actually met him in person.

The following is from Mike’s book, and the Holy Spirit has been using this to help me understand some things. It applies to anyone in leadership positions, not just politics.
You may even find it useful in dealing with the recent election results.
I have a confession. Here it goes. I have spent countless hours being critical of our political leaders and countable minutes praying for them. I should be flogged. Which, by the way, is still legal in Mississippi. I have written hundreds of jokes making fun of our leaders and never written a prayer. If our leaders are really ordained by the Lord, then maybe there is a master plan to what God is doing through them. Quite possibly, if we were viewing this whole thing from a loftier perch, we would see a rhyme and reason. I wholeheartedly endorse the candidates that represent godly views while remembering that God may choose to take things in a different direction. He has a master plan, and I must trust Him. There are times when God causes calamity to fall on a nation to help them run towards Him.
I want to challenge you to join me in the following commitment. Every time I tell a politically motivated joke, and I will, I will also whisper a prayer along with it. Admittedly, I have not stated that I will tell no more political jokes. Rather, I will attempt to balance the scales with a prayer, too. It may not be a full revival, but it is a start. Will you join me?

This part of his book really struck me. I hate to admit it, but I have caught myself getting involved in the gossip and trash talk of the one I call the Pharisee. I still view him that way, but I need to exercise more self control when his name comes up in conversation with others. I need to start praying for him, and stop talking down about him. Yeah, he hurt me. So what? The world didn’t stop spinning and God is still in control and Jesus is still on the Throne.

So maybe, God has bigger plans for me than I realize. I have been asked if I would be interested in helping another church about an hour away with their Alpha program and training other people how to do the Alpha Dude thing.  It is possible that God had to remove me from the ministry I was currently in before He could use me elsewhere. Yeah, maybe. But I sincerely believe that the vessel of His choosing screwed up his assignment. But I guess I’m supposed to learn from that, too.

Paul, in his letter to the Romans, said this:
Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities for God has instituted the governing authorities that exist. (Romans 13:1)
This won’t be easy for me to do, but I know that I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. I serve but One master, the Lord of lords and the King of kings, the ruler and Master of all creation. With Him on my side, how can I possibly lose?

I still like to have fun and make people laugh every chance I get. No one, not even a so-called “leader" in our church, can take that away from me. I agree with Dennis Miller who said:
“Laughter is your best weapon. Keep the safety off, and don’t take yourself too seriously.”
I believe that laughter, having fun and enjoying the company of good friends is a gift from God. So accept God’s gift to you. God’s gift to you is His Son, Jesus. Jesus brought joy, and hope, and laughter. So go ahead and yuk it up, y’all!
A merry heart does a body good, like medicine. (Proverbs 17:22)


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Flying Fish and the Pharisee

Not long ago, I asked for prayer since I was about to confront a Pharisee in our church. This man seems to have something against me. He is involved in ministry in our church and is a licensed minister. I have learned that he is NOT a pastor in our church (not a paid member of the pastoral staff), even though he insists on telling people that he is. In fact, he makes sure you know that when you meet him.

I confronted him in a meeting with our executive pastor, and one of the elders. The reason for this is that this man has verbally attacked me more than once, and always in private, when no one else is around. He said some very hurtful and condescending things to me and threatened me with not allowing me to serve in any ministries in our church.

I first apologized for any wrongs or problems I may have caused him, and then asked him to forgive me. He just brushed it off. I then called him on all those awful thigs he had said to me. He denied everything! He said, in front of those two other men, that he never said those things to me. Then he called me a liar!

This man is a modern day Pharisee! Jesus warned us about them and told us to rebuke them, which I did. But I forgot to read to the end of the red letter part of Matthew when the black letters tell us that those fellows went away and began to plot to kill Him.

I really am not 100% sure what this man’s problem is. I used to think he and I were friends and could work in ministry together. I guess I was wrong. Simply saying “Hello” to him is seen as an interruption and an intrusion.

Our church is very much involved in the Alpha Course. When my wife and I started attending our church, we signed up for the Alpha Course to get involved and meet new people. Our church’s mission statement is simply “Connecting People with God, Connecting People with People”, so we wanted to get connected.

The Pharisee previously mentioned is also the Alpha Spiritual Director (ASD). We got to know him through the Alpha Course and asked him to perform our wedding. He agreed, but as our pre-wedding counseling sessions progressed, he changed his mind and recommended we wait six months to get married. We didn’t care much for that, but we figured we had no choice. We respected him and looked up to him and considered all that he told us. He did make it clear that unless we wait six months, he would not marry us and we could not use the church’s chapel for our wedding. He said he couldn’t force us to do anything and asked that we keep him informed in whatever decision we make. And if we decided to get married anyway, there would be no hard feelings and he would not hold it against us. (he lied!)

So we decided to wait.

Then, some close friends told us over lunch one day that the husband is a licensed minister, and he said he would consider it an honor to perform our wedding. This couple knew us better than anyone at our church, so we took this as a sign from God that it would be alright to go ahead and get married. Once the plans had been set in motion, I informed the ASD of our plans and even invited him to the wedding, which we had in the Prayer Garden of our church. He never responded and he did not attend.

In fact, things weren’t quite the same between us after that. Even though my wife and I still completed the pre-marriage class, and the marriage mentoring requirements. We kept all of our promises.

Whenever I am anywhere near the ASD, or in the same room, he makes it seem as though I somehow annoy him. I say hello and try to be friendly, but he responds in an almost rude manner. So, sometimes I would go out of my way to say hello to him and be nice to him. And sometimes, I would annoy him on purpose.

I also like to have fun and get a laugh at his expense, by telling stories like this one…….

As a part of the Alpha Course, we have what is called the ‘Alpha Overnight’. It’s where we all go to a church camp about an hour or so away, and go through three lessons, Friday night and Saturday morning, on the Holy Spirit.

The Alpha Spiritual Director (ASD) for the Alpha Course drove a really big Chevy pick-up. This guy’s truck is a large extra cab, long bed truck with a camper shell that matches the bright fire-engine red paint job. I’d heard some people in the course refer to his truck as the “Flying Fish”, but I didn’t yet understand why.

Following one Alpha overnight trip, we were all heading back home down a long straight stretch of highway, about four or five vehicles in a row, when that big red truck went zooming past us. As he flew by, I noticed one of those Chrome Christian fish symbols on the back of his truck. (Ahhh, so THAT’S what they meant by “Flying Fish!”)

A few moments later, we noticed some blinking lights up ahead. A State Trooper had pulled over a big red truck. Yep, it was him, and he looked rather embarrassed as we all drove past, one car after the other.

As we drove past him, I noticed the ASD had his elbow propped up in the open window and was holding his head in his hand.

The Trooper had walked up to his open truck window and asked, “Got any I.D.?”
To which the ASD slowly looked up and replied, “…’bout whut?”

Yeah, he got a speeding ticket.
He felt pretty bad about it and apologized to everyone at the next Alpha class. To my knowledge, he has slowed down and hasn’t gotten pulled over since that day.

A friend of mine explained to me that the reason he didn’t get a ticket on the way up there is that, on your way to the event, you are on a mission for God. On your way home, you are on your own.

I don’t tell that story very often, but as far as I know, the ASD is the only one who doesn’t think it is funny. Everyone who knows him thinks it is hilarious!

(By the way, if we're going to be friends, you'll need a sense of humor and be able to take a joke. Apparently, this ASD isn't one of those people.)

So maybe that just added fuel to his fire, but I still think the real bug-in-his-backside is the issue of our wedding, since he brings it up every time he attacks me, and calls it “bad judgment” and a “big mistake”.

But he still got his way, he essentially fired me from the ministry position as Alpha Dude. His excuse was that he thought I was drawing attention to myself because of my Facebook picture. He ordered me to take it down, and I refused. (He didn’t ask nice).

Another friend, who has known the ASD for a lot longer than me, told me that whenever people talked about the Alpha Course in the past, they associated it with the ASD. Now? People associate the course with Alpha Dude. You see, this man likes to think of himself as being very important. Being important is more valuable to him than representing Christ. All Alpha Dude ever tried to do is to elevate Christ to everyone, especially those kids.
So I used the name Alpha Dude outside of church and outside the Alpha Course. I really don’t see a problem with that. It gets people asking questions. And if you get people asking questions, you can tell them about Jesus.

You know something? The ASD didn’t have to pull his stunts, get angry or fire me the way he did! I had made it very clear to everyone, that as long as I am asked, I will gladly serve in the role as Alpha Dude and present each week’s lessons to those kids. If the Alpha Director (not the ASD) does not ask me, I do not assume the job is mine and would not plan on performing the role.

(the last Alpha Director went against the ASD's orders, and asked me to be Alpha Dude anyway)

You see, my name is Scott Trammell and Alpha Dude is a character I portrayed for three and a half years in each course where the Alpha Sprout program was offered. If the Director wanted someone else to do it, or didn’t want me to do it, they just needed to say so. But the Director asked, so I served.

The following passage was used in the sermon this weekend.

2 Timothy 3
1 You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. 2 For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. 3 They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. 4 They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. 5
They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!

After the service, a few people (who knew what happened) came up to me to say that the sermon (titled: Self-Centeredness) made them think of me.
Not because I’m self-centered, but because they recognized that I was a victim of a self-serving Pharisee.
Each one had also said I did nothing wrong and that I responded and behaved correctly in that situation.

I thought that was rather nice of them to say.

As for the Pharisee, I saw him, he was there, and I stayed away from him.

Y’know something I’ve noticed?
People who are modern day Pharisees are the only ones who refuse to recognize that attribute about themselves.
So I pray for them. A lot. (I think that has something to do with heaping burning coals on their heads, and I’m okay with that).

Then I found the following scripture…..

2 Timothy 3
14 But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. 15 You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

As I said, I only served as Alpha Dude because I was asked.
I serve only one God. I have only One Master.
When I served as Alpha Dude, I performed for an audience of One.

Each Alpha Course has a different Alpha Director, and each had asked me to serve.

Therefore, if the next Alpha Director asks me, I will serve in the role of Alpha Dude.
I will do what God puts before me to do, and if the ASD has a problem with that, then he can take it up with Him.

Blessings, and thank you for praying.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Random Stuff (Tag, You're It!)

Have you heard lately that the State of Colorado has become the 21st state to ban the game of tag from their public schools? Yeah. No kidding.
The argument for this is that they believe this game to be too dangerous for the students to play during recess.

Too dangerous.

If you are from Colorado, I have a question for you: “What kind of sissies are you all raising out there?

Now, I did part of my growing up in Colorado. I lived there from the sixth grade through the 11th grade, and never got hurt playing “tag”. We also had something called Jarts. You remember those? They were lawn darts! Sharp metal spikes with a handle and plastic fins so they could FLY!
We’d throw them at those hoola-hoops on the ground, and sometimes at each other (or the dog!). They didn’t stick too well in a tree, but we tried.
And we still turned out okay.

Here’s something else to think about:

Whoever that kid was that was tagged last……is still IT!!

I can imagine this individual about twenty years from now in their therapist’s office, upon reaching to the root of all their inner-most, deep seated problems and begin screaming…


Just something to think about.

It has occurred to me that some women will go to great lengths to color their hair, put on a bunch of make-up, wear false eye-lashes, get a fake spray-on tan, put on a wonder-bra and a pair of booty enhancing britches, and then still have the audacity to claim that they want to find a guy who will “appreciate the real her”!

Its okay to agree with me on this one guys, just don’t do it out loud, since your wife may hear you.

And from today’s news…….

The Indianapolis International Airport opened it’s new terminal today. Part of the new security system is a new type of x-ray scanning machine that you walk through. This new machine is equipped with 3-D imaging, so they get to see it ALL! In fact, the security people viewing the monitors for this new scanner are in a different area of the airport, far away from the actual machine. My guess is that it is so you can’t hear all the laughing, since they are basically seeing you naked as you pass through the scanner.
I’m thinking that the next time I fly, I may stop by an “adult” store first and by a couple of “questionable” items and keep them in my front pockets, just to freak out the security people while I pass through that new scanner.
“Oh my….!!! He’s got three…uh….!!!!”
Gee, I wonder if they allow those on the plane? I haven’t noticed them on the banned items list.

Okay, maybe I won’t do that, since I just can’t bring myself to visit one of those kinds of stores.
Oh well. I live in Indiana where a kid can still be a kid, so

Tag….you’re it!


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Please Pray

“Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces.” (Luke 11:43)

38As he taught, Jesus said, "Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted in the marketplaces, 39and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. (Mark 12:38-39)

46"Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. (Luke 20:46)

Please pray for me.
I have a meeting tomorrow night with the Executive Pastor, a Pharisee, and one of the Elders.

We have a Pharisee in our church who likes to boss people around and have his way.
Apparently, I am the only one (that I am aware of) who has stood up to him and not "obeyed" him.

So now I am going to go head to head with a Pharisee.
He says I am a rebel.
(Well, so was Jesus, and look what they did to Him!)

Please pray.

Mostly for him.

My conscience is clear, my Spirit is right with God, and I live to serve only One Master.


Alpha Dude

P.S. It apparently revolves around the fact that he doesn't like my profile picture and thinks I should take it down.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Tale of Two Brains

This pretty much explains it.


Saturday, October 04, 2008

My Resignation

I am hereby officially tendering my resignation as an adult.
I have decided I would like to accept the responsibilities of an eight-year-old again.

I want to go to McDonald's and think that it's a four-star restaurant.

I want to sail sticks across a fresh mud puddle and make a sidewalk with rocks.

I want to think M&Ms are better than money because you can eat them.

I want to run a lemonade stand with my friends on a hot summer's day.

I want to return to a time when life was simple, when all you knew were colors, multiplication tables and nursery rhymes, but that didn't bother you because you didn't know what you didn't know and you didn't care.

All you knew was to be happy, because you were blissfully unaware of all the things that should make you worried or upset.

I want to think the world is fair. That everyone is honest and good.

I want to believe that anything is possible. I want to be oblivious to the complexities of life and be overly excited by the little things again.

I want to live simply again. I don't want my day to consist of computer crashes, mountains of paperwork, depressing news, how to survive when there are more days in the month than there is money in the bank, doctor bills, gossip (Pharisees), illness and loss of loved ones.

I want to believe in the power of smiles, hugs, a kind word, truth, justice, peace, dreams, mankind and making angels in the snow.

I want to play with my pets and my days of imagination to last forever

So here are my checkbook and my car keys, my credit card bills and my 401(k) statements.

I am officially resigning from adulthood. (Some people wonder if I ever actually grew up anyway).

And if you want to discuss this further, you'll have to catch me first* because,

"Tag! You're it!"

(Author Unknown)

* Seriously! All next week, we'll be on a big boat in the Caribbean


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Friday, September 26, 2008


I apologize for not being around much lately. That crazy thing called "life" keeps happening.
The positive side to that is that I have a lot to write about. The negative side is that I don't have a lot of time to sit down and write it.

So in the the meantime, since part of my job is to write specifications for various construction projects, I thought I'd share a little something with you.



The work we want did is clearly showed on attached plans and specifications. Our Engineer, whose had plenty of College, spent one hell of a lot of time when he drawed up these here plans and specifications. But nobody cant think of everything.
Once your bid is in, that’s it, Brother! From then on, anything wanted by our Engineer, or any of his friends, or anybody else (except the Bidder) shall be considered as showed, specified, or implied and be provided by the Bidder without expense to nobody but himself (meaning the Bidder).

Extra Costs
If the work is did without no extra Expense to the Bidder, then the work will be took down and did again until the extra expense to Contractor is satisfactory to our Engineer.

Our Engineer’s plans are right as drawed. If sumpthin is drawed wrong, it shall be discovered by the Bidder, corrected and did right with no extra expense to us. It won’t cut no ice with us, or our Engineer, if you point out any mistakes our Engineer has drawed. If you do, it will be one hell of a long time before you do any more work for us or him (meaning the Engineer).

Vendor Conduct
The Bidder is not supposed to make fun of our Engineer, his plans, or the kinda work we’re having done. If he do, it’s just too damn bad for him (meaning the Bidder).
Any Bidder walking around the job with a smile on his face shall be subject to a review of his bid.

If the Bidder don’t find all our Engineer’s mistakes before he bids on the job, or if the Bidder ain’t got enough sense to know that our Engineer’s gonna think up a bunch of new stuff that’s going to have to be did before the job is completed, then it’s just to damn bad for him (meaning the Bidder).

The Bidder has got to use good stuff on this job – none of that crap from Japan.
We done picked the best stuff for our client and won't let no cheep stuff be approved to save the Contractor money.

Value engineering and substitutions is alright as long as the cost savings go to the engineering budget or adds more purty do-dads to the project.

We don't take to no crybabies. Once you done bid this job you got no one but yourself to blame, especially the engineer or his client. Arguing with the engineer is like wrestling with a pig in the mud, after a while you’re going to learn he really enjoys it.

Questions and Answers

We have not succeeded in answering all your questions. Indeed we sometimes feel we have not answered any of them. The answers we have found have only served to raise a whole set of new questions. In some ways we feel that we are as confused as ever, but we think we are confused on a higher level and about more important things.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Finding His Purpose….

Remember this time of year when you would return to school and be asked to write an essay about “What I did this Summer”?

The following is a true accounting of something that happened not far from our home earlier this summer. It involved my 17 year-old step-son, Jonathan Ryall. So as to not try to steal away any of his thunder, I will let him tell the story, just as he wrote it. Jon gave me his permission to post it here.

My Purpose
By Jonathan Ryall

Steven Hawkins once said that “nothing leaves this universe.”

I am looking down at little Ruby. She is an odd shade of blue and her eyes are closed. I think she is dead and I am too scared to think about it. Without thinking, I act. I am pumping her chest hard and hoping not to break a rib, not thinking about how delicate a two year olds ribs are. Luckily, through the procedure, I tend to not break any. I push my breath into her mouth and hold her nose. She has lived two wonderful years, and I could not imagine how it would be to take away the possible remaining. I have lived seventeen. Her parents are screaming on the dock above me. Ruby’s mother is on her knees next to me, praying to Jesus, and a crowd of other children are either running around in complete hysteria, or crying in complete shock. What makes me wonder is, how did I get to be performing CPR on a dock in Lake Geist, Indiana?

Let me go back to 1979, the Indian Hill High School prom in Cincinnati, Ohio. My dad was dancing with my mother and they knew that one day they would marry and start a family. I was the third child of four and we lived a typical American suburban family life. Several years ago, however, our family broke apart with divorce and my mom moved to Indianapolis and soon re-married my step-father. I was devastated. My dad re-married as well and I found myself shuttling between Cincinnati and Indianapolis. I could not favor either side.
How did this happen? How did my ideal childhood break apart? Why is God doing this to me? Why can’t my parents get back together? Where is God in all of this and why has He forsaken me?

Someone suggested I pray and things will get better. Yeah right, like that is going to bring back my family. I told them I doubt that would happen, because I knew nothing could be done. “It can’t hurt” they said, but I didn‘t listen. But I knew I needed at least something to help me, so I only hoped and wished to have something happen. So, with that, I guess it was a prayer.

One weekend while visiting my mother, my prayer was answered. I met a girl, named Lily, a stunning beauty with wit and charm. She immediately took a liking to me and welcomed me into her family. In the summer, we would spend weekends together and have so much fun. I would do things with her family, and she would do things with mine. We spent an equal amount of time doing both. Eventually, we would spend times out at her grandparent’s house on the lake in their boat, the Sea-Ray, or in their pool and Jacuzzi.
One Saturday afternoon, while we were packing up and getting ready to leave the house, we decided to go for one last boat ride. Lily’s little sister, Ruby took off ahead running to the boat, after hearing us all cheer about the decision we had made. She always liked being first. By the time we caught up to her, she had been floating face down in between the boat and the dock, in about five feet of water. It was such a scary image to see, of a little child, showing no act of movement to survive. Apparently, by the mark on her forehead, she had hit her head trying to get into the boat and was slightly knocked unconscious, making it harder for her to escape. My little brother saw her shortly after the children did, and began screaming at me Ruby’s name. I was confused on what he was talking about, because I could not think or begin to believe what he was talking about of her was true. Soon, Lily and I went up to the edge of the dock and saw her. Lily jumped in the water and lifted her out into my hands on the dock.

I can’t describe what it felt like to stare in the face of a dead child – to see one’s childhood gone in a second. I quickly remembered taking CPR in high school. One of the most boring classes in my High School career, attached to gym, but surprisingly understanding the material. The situation that occurred was like some version of Tom Cruise, getting into action and rescuing people. I tuned out all the sounds around me – the weeping, screaming, and praying. It all got very still and quiet as time stood still. I know it sounds cliché, but what we learn does come back to help us sometimes.
Finally, after the fifth chest compression, Ruby spit up some water and as I tilted her head back, she coughed up some more and started breathing again. Her eyes squinted and she looked up to me. Her blue eyes looked deep into me, penetrating me like a bullet.

There it was all at once.

Maybe the whole point of my life was to be right here, right now. Maybe that prom dance led me to be born and to be available to Lily’s little sister. To think as if I wasn’t born, how would this of been played out?
Maybe the pain of seeing my mom move away and start her new life in Indiana was some cosmic plan for me to visit Indiana and meet my girlfriend and save this little girl.

Soon as she started breathing, I was told to go search for neighbors that could help us. I took off going in all directions. I had no clue of where I was going, or any sense of what I might run into; But all I was thinking of was the voice of the father saying “Go get my neighbor!” When I got to their neighbors, there was no one home, and I began to run more. Thankfully I found a man on a bicycle, and got his attention to call 911. Shortly, another girl from the family, appeared on my left and helped me tell him where we are, so he could tell the paramedics.
The paramedics had arrived within 3 minutes. While they were doing procedures on Ruby, I searched for Lily. I had found her sitting and weeping in the back lawn. I ran to her and told her of what is happening to Ruby, and how she is going to live. Right then, she looked at me, with her pearly blue eyes, in disbelief of what I said. I told her again, holding her, and she started bawling. Ruby was later sent to the hospital, to get more lake water pumped out.
Everyone says I saved this girls life, and that I am a hero; but in fact she saved mine.
Up to that day I was living a life without purpose, not understanding what my role in this big universe is. I know now that God has a plan for me and that if I stay open to all the possibilities He provides me, I will live a really happy and productive life. I now see how what I learn in school can have huge impacts on my life. I learned that one person can make a difference. I realize that I am not alone and that Steven Hawkins is right. Ruby didn’t leave this universe. She has some things she needs to do when she gets older, just as much as everyone else. Having the ability to bring someone back to life is a gift, but using the ability to give back someone’s life is a trait.
I am extremely thankful to be a hero, and save that girls life.

Jon visiting Ruby at the hospital the next day.....

I have watched Jon grow during this last year since he met Lily and her family.

He is turning into a fine young man, and his mother and I are very proud of him.

“…for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”
(Philippians 2:13)

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
(Jeremiah 29:11)

Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails.
(Proverbs 19:21)


Monday, August 25, 2008

The Fence….

These words are engraved on a plaque which hangs on the wall above my desk at home:

And I have filled him with the Spirit of God,
with skill and ability, to engage in all kinds of craftsmanship.
(Exodus 31:3-5)

And here is my latest project that has kept me occupied lately…….

My wife and I had discussed the need for putting up a fence for quite some time. Mostly, because our little dog was confined to the limits of the long line every time she went outside. We had a small post which screws into the ground, with a swivel hook, attached to the long leash that we would hook onto her collar each time we let her out.

So, I took some measurements, made a rough drawing, marked the location of each post, put together a materials list, calculated the cost and found it affordable to do. Especially since I would be doing all the work myself.

A friend loaned me his post-hole digger (so I didn’t have to buy one) and on one Sunday a couple of weeks ago, I started installing the posts for our fence.

I put in 18 4"x4" posts this way, each one is eight feet apart, and planted 2 feet into the ground.
I only hit one big root near an old stump. It was too big to chop through, so, knowing I needed a new chain for my chainsaw anyway, I stuck the end of my chainsaw into the hole and cut the root out.

Once the posts were installed, I put up the framing for the fence (the rails). I built the rails out of pressure treated #2 pine two by fours and attached them to the posts with 3 inch long exterior wood screws.

Once those were in place, I put up the pickets, which are made from 1” x 4” x 5’ long cedar.

Even though my fence is only 4 feet high, I put up the pickets a little long for a reason. (You’ll see why in a minute.)
My wife made fun of my hat, but it kept the sun off of the back of my neck so I didn’t really care.

After all of the pickets were in place, each spaced at 2 ¼” apart (I used my 4’ level as a guide), I made some more measurements, made some marks, made a template, and trimmed off the tops of the pickets with my circular saw.
Okay, so I’m holding my driver/drill instead of my saw. Each piece of this fence is secured with heavy duty exterior screws. There are no nails. All screws.
I got a little creative with the gate entrance.
I finished just before it got dark, except for the gates.
It had been in the 70’s, sunny, with a light breeze all day.
It was a beautiful day to be outside.

Here it is after I built the gates.

And on the other side of the house……

The dog loves it. She can now run as much as she wants all over the yard, and not in just one small circle.

It has even met with the approval of the neighbors (I asked them about it before I started).

And now for my next project?

I have yet another antique table in the garage waiting to be finished.


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Getting the Back Yard Ready…..

Sorry I haven’t been around for a while, but I’ve a little busy.
The play is finished and it went really well.

Then, my wife and I enrolled in a Dynamic Marriage course at church which involved quite a bit of homework, but was still a great class to be a part of.
Work also keeps me pretty busy, but somehow I managed to squeeze in a few other things.

When I looked into my back yard, I noticed that a couple of our big pine trees had died.

They were becoming dry and brittle, so with the help of my handy little chainsaw….

Now, what do you do with all those little pieces of twigs and debris?
Haul them away? Throw them in the trash?

Well, there was way too much to deal with, and I also had another rather large pile in the other corner of the yard where I’d been stockpiling trimmings and branches, so here’s how I got rid of all of it!

It took some time, and the flames reached as high as 12 feet at times, but it’s all gone and cleaned up now.

Here it is, all cleared up.

I left the stumps a little tall on purpose. The one on the left I carved out to make a high-back chair.
Hey! My wife said we needed more places to sit out there!

Those little flags are from the utility companies so I would know where all the underground lines are in preparation for my next project….

Friday, August 01, 2008

Pet Peeves…..

As far as I am concerned, the funniest things are the things that actually happen in real life.

In fact, what happened yesterday was so funny….you just can’t make this stuff up.

And no one saw it coming.

I work in cubicle city. So there is absolutely NO privacy what-so-ever.
Conversations WILL be overheard.

I had a brief discussion first thing yesterday morning with a colleague on the subject of prejudices. (He has a way better tan than me, if you get the picture. Don’t worry. We’re good friends).
After I walked away (because I do actually work for a living and had much of it to do) another co-worker approached him to say that he too had an issue with prejudice people. He felt some people are prejudice against him because of his height (or lack, thereof).

If you know anything about me you would know that I am most definitely NOT a tall person. In fact, I do believe I have heard just about every short joke there is, and if someone comes up with a new one, it won’t be long before I hear that one too. I’m used to it. It doesn’t bother me. I am exactly the height that God designed me to be and I am okay with it. (I wasn’t for a long time, but I got over it and that is a different story all together).

Now, where was I?

Oh yeah. The co-worker who is self-conscious about his height.

He’s a really great Christian guy and the only guy I know around here that is shorter than me. He was telling this other fellow that his only Pet Peeve is when anyone makes fun of his height, or his shortness, or .....well, you get the idea.

Later in the day, their team manager (who is a freakishly LARGE man) overheard another conversation that went something like this:

(First guy): “So, what did you do last night?”

(Short Co-Worker): “I went to the midget races.”

To which the manager blurted out:

“Did you win?”

Total ….and…. complete…… silence.

Later on, the manager went and apologized for being so insensitive.
The short fellow forgave him.

Still…it sure is quiet around here today.


I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Psalm 139:14)


Friday, July 25, 2008

I Saw God Today

Okay, so it wasn’t today. It was actually last week during a very early and very long road trip for work. (But the title sounds better than "I saw God one day last week")

But it was still really cool and it felt as though God just wanted to say “Hello” and that He was smiling.

So I took His picture. (He didn’t seem to mind)

His glory covered the heavens and his praise filled the earth.
His splendor was like the sunrise; rays flashed from his hand, where his power was hidden.

(Habakkuk 3:3b-4)

Yeah, it was really cool and it was indeed a great day.


Monday, July 21, 2008

Proper Church Attire

One Sunday morning, an old cowboy entered a church just before services were to begin.
Although the old man and his clothes were spotlessly clean, he wore jeans, a denim shirt, and boots that were very worn and ragged.

In his hand he carried a worn out old hat and an equally well-worn, dog-eared Bible.

The church he entered was in a very upscale and exclusive part of the city.
It was the largest and most beautiful church the old cowboy had ever seen.

The people of the congregation were all dressed with expensive clothes and fine jewelry.

As the cowboy took a seat, the others moved away from him.

No one greeted, spoke to, or welcomed him.
They were all appalled by his appearance and did not attempt to hide it.

As the old cowboy was leaving the church, the preacher approached him and asked the cowboy to do him a favor.
'Before you come back here, have a talk with God and ask him what he thinks would be appropriate attire for worship in this church.'

The old Cowboy assured the preacher he would.

The next Sunday, he again showed up for the services wearing the same ragged jeans, shirt, boots, and hat.
Once again he was completely shunned and ignored.

The preacher approached the cowboy and said, 'I thought I asked you to speak to God before you came back to our church.'

'I did,' replied the old cowboy.

'And what did God tell you the proper attire should be for worshiping here?' asked the preacher.

'Well, sir, God told me that He didn't have a clue what I should wear. He'd never been in THIS church.'

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I’ve been to churches like that. Where they are more concerned with how you dress, or the type of house you live in or the kind of car you drive.

Do you really think that wearing the right clothes, having a big house or driving an expensive car will get you into heaven? Of course not.

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

The only way to heaven is by accepting Jesus as your personal Savior.

God is not concerned about your house, your clothes or your car. What He is concerned about is how you honor His Son.

God looks at your heart.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Luke 12:34)

He (Jesus) answered: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind' ; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' " (Luke 10:27)

How is your heart? Do you have a heart condition? I have to check mine every day.
I just want to be like David. A man after God’s own heart.

So how about that old cowboy?

Would he be accepted at your church?


Thursday, July 17, 2008


The following is a list of names of people I have actually met.
See if you notice something about each of those names.

What do they have in common?


Dana *

In case you hadn’t noticed, each one of the individuals named here is a MAN!


And it makes me wonder…..what kind of parent would give their son a girl’s name?

Seriously. Is this normal? Or just close enough?

I couldn't even find examples of this in the Bible.
The women in the Bible have names like Eve, Naomi, Ruth, Mary, Martha, Sarah, and names like that. And not one of those women would be mistaken for a man by the mere mention of her name.

But with some guys? I just don’t know.
At work, I have learned to ask someone first if there is any doubt.

I’m not criticizing these guys or judging them, I just think it’s weird.

Maybe that’s why some of those fellows go by their middle name (unless, of course, their middle name happens to be Nancy or something), or go by a nickname like Butch, or Duke, or Stinky, or Bubba.

Do you know of a guy with what could also be a girl’s name?

I was just wondering.

* I almost forgot about this one. Thanks CrazyDeb!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Alpha Dude for President


(1) Press 1 for English is immediately banned. English is the official language, speak it or wait at the border until you can.

(2) We will immediately go into a two year isolationist posture to straighten out the country's attitude. NO imports, no exports. We will use the 'Walmart' policy 'If we ain't got it, you don't need it.'

(3) When imports are allowed, there will be a 100% import tax on it.

(4) All retired military personnel will be required to man one of our many observation towers on the southern border. (six month tour) They will be under strict orders not to fire on SOUTHBOUND aliens.

(5) Social security will immediately return to its original state. If you didn't put nuttin in, you ain't gettin nuttin out. The president nor any other politician will not be able to touch it.

(6) Just like the presidency, all political offices (senators, congressmen, etc.) will have term limits. All politicians will be required to contribute to social security, just like everyone else. No more “Golden Umbrella”. No more free rides.

(7) Welfare - Checks will be handed out on Fridays at the end of the 40 hour school week and the successful completion of urinalysis and a passing grade.

(8) Professional Athletes --Steroids - The FIRST time you check positive you're banned for life.

(9) Crime - We will adopt the Turkish method, the first time you steal, you lose your right hand. There is no more life sentences, if convicted of murder you will be put to death by the same method you chose for your victim, gun, knife, strangulation, etc.

(10) One export will be allowed, Wheat, The world needs to eat. A bushel of wheat will be the exact price of a barrel of oil.

(11) All bans and/or restrictions on accessing or utilizing American Oil will be lifted. Wanna stimulate the economy? Bring those gas prices DOWN.

(12) All foreign aid using American taxpayer money will immediately cease, and the saved money will pay off the national debt and ultimately lower taxes. When disasters occur around the world, we'll ask the American people if they want to donate to a disaster fund, and each citizen can make the decision whether it's a worthy cause.

(13) The Pledge of Allegiance will be said every day at school and every day in Congress.

(14) The National Anthem will be played at all appropriate ceremonies, sporting events, outings, etc.

Sorry if I stepped on anyone's toes but a vote for me will get you better than what you have, and better than what you're gonna get.Thanks for listening, and remember to write in my name on the ballot in November.

God Bless America

Monday, July 07, 2008

God’s One-Liners

I’m posting these just for fun, although most of these carry a pretty good message. You may actually be able to see yourself in some of them.
And remember: If you can’t laugh at yourself, then laugh at someone near and dear to you.
(or something like that)

Don't let your worries get the best of you;
remember, Moses started out as a basket case.


Some people are kind, polite, and sweet-spirited
until you try to sit in their pews.


Many folks want to serve God,But only as advisers.


It is easier to preach ten sermons than it is to live one.


The good Lord didn't create any thing without purpose,
but mosquitoes come close.


When you get to your wit's end,You'll find God lives there.


People are funny;
they want the front of the bus,
middle of the road,
and the back of the church.


Opportunity may knock once,
but temptation bangs on the front door forever.

*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+ *

Quit griping about your church;If it was perfect, you couldn't belong.


If a church wants a better pastor, it only needs to pray for the one it has.


God Himself doesn't propose to judge a man until he is dead.
So why should you?


Some minds are like concrete.Thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.


A lot of church members singing 'Standing on the Promises'
are just sitting on the premises.


We're called to be witnesses, not lawyers or judges.


Be ye fishers of men.
You catch 'em - He'll clean 'em.


Coincidence is when God chooses to remain anonymous.


Don't put a question mark where God put a period.


Don't wait for 6 strong men to take you to church.


Forbidden fruits create many jams.


God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called.


God grades on the cross, not the curve.


God loves everyone, but probably prefers 'fruits of the spirit' over 'religious nuts!'

*+*+*+* +*+* +*+*+*+*

God promises a safe landing, not a calm passage.


He who angers you, controls you!


If God is your Co-pilot, swap seats!


Don't give God instructions -- just report for duty!


The task ahead of us is never as great as the Power behind us.


The Will of God never takes you to where the Grace of God will not protect you.


We don't change the message, the message changes us.


You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage him.


Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Remembering Names

Remember my next door neighbor, Mark? I’ve written about him before.

Well, he and his family went out of town for a few weeks on vacation. Before he left, he asked me if my son and I would take care of his yard. Sure. After all, that’s what neighbors do.

Well, one Saturday while I was mowing his lawn, his mother stopped by to check on things and get the mail. I stopped what I was doing to say hello.
I asked her if she knew when Mark would be home and she asked, “Who’s Mark?”
“Your son, my neighbor.”
“No. His name is Paul.”
“Are you sure? I thought his name was Mark.”
“I think I would know the name of my own son.”

We chatted briefly and she went on her way and I went back to cutting the grass.
The entire time I couldn’t stop thinking that I had been calling my neighbor by the wrong name for the last three years, and he never once corrected me!

“Paul” came home last week and he came over one evening while I was outside barbequing.
We said hello and talked about his trip and stuff like that.
Then I said, “Hey, I’ve got a bone to pick with you!”
“Why’s that?”
“I talked to your mom, and apparently I’ve been calling you by the wrong name for the past three years! Why didn’t you ever correct me?”
“No you haven’t. Well, if you did, I didn’t notice!”
We both got a good laugh out of it.

Then Paul told me something else.
He said he would probably never forget my name or get it wrong, and not because it also happens to be his middle name.
But because of his kids.

Sometime before they left on their trip, his kids asked him if they could pray for me.
When he asked them why, they told him that their Sunday School teacher had taught them about what the Bible says about loving your neighbor, and that they should pray for their neighbor.
So they said, “Dad, can we pray for Scott?”
“Why would you want to pray for Scott?”
“Because our teacher said we should pray for our neighbor and he’s real nice and we want to pray for him.”
“Sure we can, let’s pray for Scott and his family.”

Paul said he was so impressed that his kids would interpret that lesson that way, that he would not soon forget the lesson his children just taught him.

I thought it was pretty cool that my neighbor’s children think I am alright and they would want to pray for me. I always liked them already anyway.

The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself."
Galatians 5:14

Have you prayed for your neighbors lately?

Luke 10:26-28
26"What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?"
27He answered: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"
28"You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."

I probably won't forget my friend's (neighbor's) name again, but just in case, I wrote it on the big message board in our kitchen.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

Father’s Day 2008 – The Power of Dad

Please forgive me for re-using this post from last year. I'll be in Chicago on Father's Day on business.
So, for all you father's who are blessed to spend this day with your families....Happy Father's Day!

A child will not see the Father in God, until he sees something of God in his father.

It is Father’s Day, again. We’re going to see a lot of posts, articles and advertisements about Father’s Day. What are going to give to the “father” in your life? (Husband, son, grandfather, uncle, father-in-law……etc.) What’s the best Father’s Day gift you’ve ever received (assuming you are somebody’s Dad)?

The best Father’s Day gift I can remember is the first time one of my children said to me, on their own, “I love you, Daddy”. What more could any man ever want after that?
(This is my 20th Father’s Day as somebody’s Dad, and I still have never been given a neck-tie!)

Before my kids came along, I read books and studied about how to be the best husband I could be for my wife. Once I found out I was going to be somebody’s Dad, I started studying things to help me be the best Daddy those kids could ever hope for.

I have made way more than my fair share of mistakes along the way, so I am by no means a perfect Dad. I don’t even come close.

I read a lot of books and I take every opportunity to study, listen and learn how to be the man God wants me to be by learning how to be the best husband and Dad I can possibly be. Most of what I learn is by trial and error. Maybe more error than trial.

My grandfather once told me that the smart guy learns by watching others. This may be due to the fact that I don’t believe I could possibly live long enough to make all those mistakes all by myself.

The following is a collection of things that I believe every father needs to say to his children. (in no particular order….)

I Love You
Your kids need to hear this. A lot! Your children should hear this from you at least once a day. I have known so many people who never heard this from their father, but have been told by someone else, “Oh, you know he loves you”. Or the dad may say that his children know he loves them and that he doesn’t need to say it to them. Why take the chance? Why leave any room for doubt? Why leave it up to some other well-meaning person to try to make your children feel better by saying it for you?
Your children should never be in a position to be asking themselves, “What does my Dad think of me?”
You know, if you remove just one word from that question, you get an even better one. “Does my dad think of me?” They need to know that, too!

Dad, if you haven’t told your children that you love them today, or if you haven’t said that to your Dad yet today, then go tell them. Right now. Seriously. Go. Tell them. We’ll wait for you…….

Okay. Are you back? Did you tell them? Good. Now don’t you feel better? I thought you might.

I Am Sorry
Are you too proud to admit when you are wrong or have made a mistake? Then shame on you. If you messed up, your children will NOT think less of you if you go to them and tell them you are sorry. I cannot tell you how many times I have gone to my kids, gotten down on my knees, and asked them to forgive me. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have responded that way, I was wrong. Please forgive me.”
This is huge Dad. This is one of those things your children will remember forever. They will also remember HOW you tell them. If you are standing above them, looking down at your child with your arms crossed and sternly say “I’m sorry”, then you have wasted your time and perhaps done more harm to the situation. Instead, get down on their level. Get down so you can see them eye to eye. And tell them, in a soft and sincere tone, that you are truly sorry and ask them to forgive you.

I Believe in You
This also goes along with saying I Am Proud Of You. Dad, your son needs to hear this from you, even more so than your daughter does. Both sons and daughters need to know that they are important to you. They need to see it in your actions as well as hear the words from you.
My father often told me he was proud of me. I don’t remember ever hearing those words from my step-father, even though he is the guy who raised me since I was eight years old. In little league, I was the pitcher, I lettered in wrestling and cross-country in high school, I earned two black belts in two different martial arts styles, I earned two college degrees, and passed all the exams for my professional registration. I rarely saw or heard from my father, but when I did, he would tell me he loves me and that he was proud of me. I didn’t understand why, since he wasn’t the guy who raised me or taught me how to do things like build a camp-fire or how to catch a fish, etc. But the guy who did raise me? All I heard from him was “Nice job. I’m surprised. I didn’t think you would actually make it”.
My father, the guy who left me when I was six, often told me “I believe in you. You are my son, and you can accomplish anything. You can do it and I am proud of you. I love you, son.”
Now, who do you think I am remembering today?

On November 18, 1997, my father passed away at the age of 59. They say he had a bad heart. I’m not so sure about that. I miss him.

This is the only picture I could find of me and my dad.

You Are Lovely
Dad, your daughter needs to hear this from you. More than just once in a while. I know of too many girls who are starving for some kind of affirmation from their Dad. I don’t want to go into too much detail here, but Dad, if you aren’t the one who is telling your daughter that she is pretty, that she is lovely, that she is important, that she is loved and highly respected, then she is going to find it from someone else. I really don’t need (or want) to elaborate on this one. Use your imagination. Think about it. If you don’t like what you see, then change it. You have that power.

That, my friends, is also about the Power of Dad.
By the time our children become teenagers, they want to be free to do the things that they want to do. And the parents want to be able to have some sort of control.
Dad, would you like to be able to control your kids? Be honest. Even if you won’t admit it, I know that you do. It’s a guy thing.

Then use your Power of Dad wisely. Do those things you just read and start now!
Start now while they are young and they will remember those little things as they grow up. You cannot make you children love you or respect you, but you can give them good reason.

You should also know that this Power of Dad can also be damaging if used for selfish reasons in an effort to manipulate your children or try to make them feel guilty. I’ve seen a lot of that too.

It really burns me up when I hear teenagers say things like “My dad is such a jerk!” And then these same kids will bust their butts to try to earn his respect and make him love them. That man has abused his Power of Dad.

So, what kind of Dad are you? How are you using your power?

He who fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge. Proverbs 14:26

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

He's Coming Home.....

My son Josh is on his way home.


In March, he loaded up his car and headed out for California to surprise his little sister and spend a week with her while she was on Spring Break. She's 12.

He said he'd be back in two weeks.

While he was there, his car was stolen.
Right after I bought him a plane ticket to come home, the police found his car.

Through a series of bad decisions and mere stupidity (his words), he found himself broke with no way to afford the drive home. His myspace page shows all the evidence of a Prodigal Son and some of the poor decisions he made while there.

Naturally there is much more to the story, but the end of it is that he and his best buddy are coming here in his friend's car. His buddy will be staying with us this summer.
I know the kid's parents and spoke to his mom and everything is all set. They are sharing the driving in his friend's car since Josh had to sell his car in order to afford the trip home.
Please pray they have a safe and uneventful trip.

Josh and me when he was only 8 days old.

Josh, at 3.

Josh, at 20.

He will not receive a lecture or be otherwise chastized for his behavior in California. Like the father in the Prodigal son story in the Bible, I am just happy my son is finally coming home. (He's been gone for over two months).

And, just like that kid from the bible story.......he'll be walking.

But I'm still going to throw him a party.

We don't have a fatted calf, so I'll probably just get him a cake.