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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My Zune Froze and There's No Reset

I have a Zune. It's Microsoft's answer to the Ipod. Lately Microsoft is losing all their battles with Apple.

This morning I turn it on and it freezes on the boot up screen. Nothing I do will get it off that screen. Microsoft failed to put a reset button on the Zune.

So, I got on the internet looking for a solution. I discovered that zillions of people had the same problem this morning with their Zune's. (I actually thought I was the only one who owned one but I guess I was wrong from reading the posts.) The Zune software doesn't like December 31. Zune's all over the world locked up.

This isn't the greatest tragedy that could happen. There are no apocalyptic prophecies about Zune's locking up before the end of the world. There are no terrorist groups claiming responsibility for the Zune lock ups. There does not appear to be any espionage perpetrated by foreign governments. It's just a bunch of MP3 players that won't work.

Maybe its a wake up call for all of us. We all need a reset button on December 31. Everything we have been doing that we shouldn't domust be reset so that we won't do it anymore. Everything we should be doing must be reset so we will do it now. There are lots of these things in my life.

I'm pressing my own reset button right now.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I Can Do Your Job Better Than You

No one will say it openly but they say it by their criticism. "I can do your job better than you do your job." Can they?

It is easy to make decisions as long as their are no consequences. Many people sit in their armchairs telling the quarterback to throw it or not. They don't see the defenders down the field nor do they feel the weight of the 325 lb. defensive end who is chasing him down. There are no consequences that come to the people in the armchairs.

It's much easier to make decisions when you don't have all the facts. It is easy to evaluate whether or not we should go to war on little information. Many must think that the president has no more information than they do. The things that they don't see might lead to greater problems if the decision isn't made.

It is easy to make decisions when you don't have to follow protocol. Structures have been placed so that decisions have to follow certain procedures. Levels of persons or committees must approve some decisions so they can be made. Many think that all decisions are unilateral. They don't understand why a decision can't be made and implemented quickly. They also are not afraid of being removed from office. They don't have one.

It is easy to make decisions if you can walk away from them if they don't work out. Many will say, "Wow, I didn't see that coming!" but they walk away because neither their jobs or livelihood are in danger from the decision.

I never wanted to be president. There are too many people who think they can do his job better than he can. So, I became a pastor. Go figure!

Monday, December 29, 2008

The God Who Seeks Us

I have three daughters. I love each one of them and look forward to any time I can have with them. None of them live near me. The oldest lives in Egypt. She went back Sunday morning. Today, she will make a trip to Kenya with some friends. My middle daughter is here for a few more days. She presently lives in Birmingham, AL. My youngest is somewhere in the Caribbean. She has a charter on the yacht she works on. (You can check it out at

I want to see my daughters. I call them as much as they can stand. I skype the two outside the country. I even a have a webcam so we can talk face-to-face. I have been known to pay for their plane tickets so that I can see them. It is no burden to do so. It's an act of love.

Recently, books have been written that give the impression that God is hard to find. They take the scripture about seeking Him with your whole heart and make that the entire issue of having any contact with God. They fail to take into account that He has always initiated contact with us. He met Abraham, Moses, Gideon, Paul and many, many others when they were not seeking Him (at least not with their whole hearts like these writers say that we must). The god who hides from me is not the God I know.

I didn't follow God long after becoming a Christian. I did things that were in opposition to Him for about eighteen months. I was in college and Christmas holidays came. I worked in a bank so that I couldn't go home when the rest of the students took their vacation. The part time work required I come in Monday through Friday from 1 PM to 7Pm. I had no tv so I spent each night reading novels.

I had read about a half of Of Human Bondage when I felt incredible despair. I threw the book at the wall and said out loud, "There is no joy in my life!" After sitting on the bed for a few minutes I went to my closet. I went through the books I had stored there for later reading. Toward the bottom of this stack was my Bible. I opened it and began to read things that I had not thought of for eighteen months. I saw the notes I had made in the margins. I remembered when I had written them. I said to myself, "This is where my joy was. Why did I leave it?"

Kneeling by the window I began to confess my sins. (Not all of them or I would still be there.) I told God, "I wouldn't take me back if I were You. But I know you will because of Your Word. Please, God, don't ever let me forget this night because I never want to come back here again."

I suppose you could say that circumstances caused me to come back to God. I was lonely. I didn't have a lot to do. But what are the odds that a college student would make a commitment to live for God without any prompting from the outside. No one preached to me. No one told me I was far away from God. I had a very spiritual moment without someone from the outside.

God allowed all these things in my life so I would realize how lost I am without Him. He sought after me as the sheep that was lost and He left the ninety-nine to come find me.

There have been many times I have had experiences with God when I was not seeking Him with my whole heart. He seeks after us so that we will seek Him with our whole hearts. It is silly to thing we would seek Him before He sought us. I believe He wants to have this fellowship with everyone.

I will be preaching a series called, "The Purpose Given Life" starting January 25. God gives us His purpose for our lives. This purpose brings us into fellowship with Him. He seeks us like any loving parent seeks fellowship with his children.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Where Does the Rage Come From?

I heard on the news today that a man went into a home and began shooting members of his family. Later, the house was set on fire. I suppose the man was angry at someone. These seem to be the reasons for these killing sprees.

I believe many people have no outlet for their anger. They hold everything inside. They feel that they were victims in the circumstances they are in. They have no means of forgiveness. Maybe they have never felt forgiveness before. They commit suicides afterward. Is this remorse or their final escape from the consequences. I guess, they don't think there are any consequences after death. I am afraid they are wrong.

These people feel helpless in all other forms of dealing with their circumstances. Their attempts at confronting the wrong done to them has been met with laughter. "No one will laugh this time," they think.

Maybe, it appears that everyone else has no real problems. This makes the indignant acts against them larger. They don't deserve what they are getting. They take it until they just can't take it anymore.

Does it begin in fantasy? They dream of their adversaries getting what is due them. They may even plan how they would do so. Do they eventually start putting their feet to their plans?

Or, is this something that happens on the spur of the moment? They merely pick up the gun they originally said was for protection and start shooting. Maybe they realize what they have done and then decide on suicide.

Many of them have loving parents. Many of them have great potential. It all ends the day they take out their rage on others, both for their parents and for them.

I am not a great counselor but I know One. He died so I could be forgiven. I wish people knew Him so that they would know they were forgiven too. I know He would take the bitterness away. Bitterness is like eating poison and hoping the other person dies.

I wonder why people would rather hurt than trust in Jesus.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

I Am Stuffed!

I added up my caloric intake for the day and discovered I will not have to eat again until February.

I think I have made it through another Christmas Day. It is a day of eating. Why do I keep doing this?

We get up and eat breakfast. Then, after opening Christmas gifts. I go to eat some of the sweets we have accumulated for Christmas. There are two kinds of cookies, fudge, sugared up pecans, candies of all sorts, pecan pie and soft drinks. I eat beyond getting full.

We eat lunch. It has ham, green beans, stuffing, sweet potato casserole, broccoli and cheese casserole and rolls. Afterward, I have some more pecan pie.

I fall asleep watching a video I got for Christmas. When I awaken, I get some more pecan pie. My only exercise for the day has been going to the kitchen for more food.

I resolve I will not do this again next year. I will not allow this food in the house so that I will not be tempted to graze on it all day long. I will walk the dog around the block. I will ride my bicycle. I will clean out the garage- wait, that's going too far! I will walk the dog.

But for right now, I'm going to see if I can get some ham and rolls. Afterward, there is still dinner, snack, midnight meal . . . .

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Lighting Candles on Christmas Eve

Tonight we have our Christmas Eve service. Many families and individuals will gather to usher in Christmas. We will read the Christmas story found in the gospels. We will sing Christmas Carols. We will light candles and sing Silent Night.

I used to think that lighting candles was just to get the men to come. We men always like to burn things. We get bigger but we never really grow out of being little boys. Yet, it has come to mean something really special to me.

Everyone is given a candle when they enter the sanctuary. They will either lay it on the seat or hold it until the time comes to be lit. The candle remains dark until it is lit. It has all the potential of being a light and of providing heat but does not fulfill that purpose until it is lit. The lighting is passed from one person to another until the whole sanctuary is full of light.

Jesus came to the world as a baby. He "lit" a very few followers during His physical days on this earth. They spread His light to others until millions have His light burning burning within them. He came so that the whole world would have this light within. All people are potential lights until they are lit. This is the light that is still burning in the world.

This will not be the best Christmas for many people. Many people have lost loved ones during the year. The empty place at the table will serve as a reminder of their loss. Some have gotten divorced. Christmas is difficult for them because Christmas is so much about family and they have lost part of their family. Some have lost jobs so that Christmas will be a fearful time. They do not know how they will pay their bills. They will have a difficult time enjoying Christmas.

I want each of these to remember that the light of Jesus is still burning brightly no matter the circumstances. People have tried to put out this light for centuries but it keeps being spread from one person to another. This light will bring them through whatever they will face. Jesus will never give up on you. He will always be your light if you will let Him.

John 1:4-5 (ESV)
4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Am I a Scrooge?

My wife thinks I am a Scrooge. I really don't like putting up the Christmas tree or Christmas lights. I like to give gifts but don't really think they can't be opened until Christmas. I like Easter a whole lot better than Christmas.

So, I have decided to tell the things I like rather than the ones that I don't.

I like it when the lady checking out in front of me is ready to pay for her gifts. She doesn't wait for the cashier to give her the amount she needs to pay. She already has her credit card in hand or her check filled out just waiting for the amount to be filled in. She has made it faster for everyone who stands behind her.

I like it when the person coming from the other direction turns on his turn indicator so I can decide whether or not to turn before he arrives. This allows me to enter the shopping center's parking lot. His courtesy makes my journey quicker and safer.

I like it when the clerk greets me with "Merry Christmas" and a smile. Pleasant people make me more pleasant when I have to shop.

I like sales personnel who want to help but are not pushy. They give me as much room as I want but are ready to help me with any question.

I like my neighbors Christmas decorations. I appreciate their hard work. Their industrious attitude means I don't have to put up a lot of decorations. The neighborhood already looks great.

I like TiVo. It allows me to skip through all the Christmas advertisements on tv.

See, though my wife may tell you different- I'm really not a Scrooge after all.

Bah! Humbug! (I think my wife added this last line.)

Monday, December 22, 2008

But He's Really Smart?

I am tired of hearing this: "He's gotten himself in so much trouble. It's such a shame because he's really smart."

Why do we assume that anyone who gets himself in trouble is really smart? Does it take really smart people to get themselves in trouble? I think we are rewarding really stupid behavior.

The teacher takes Johnny out of the classroom because he has been acting out. She says, "Johnny, I think you are really smart. You don't need to do these bad things?" So, Johnny understands that he gets complemented by doing something wrong.

Yes, I have also heard, "No, he doesn't have a steady job and still lives off of his parents and it's such a shame because he is really smart." I want to add, "But his parents are not that smart because they are allowing him to live off of them."

Why can't we have a new way of figuring I.Q.? The new way would include hard work and making good decisions. It would take into account being responsible and productive.

I wish everyone would say, "That guy works hard. He provides for his family. He pays his bills. He takes responsibility for the things around him. He tries to help others when he can. He is really smart."

This is my system of determining intelligence. In it anyone can be really smart. However, you can't be really smart by doing something really stupid.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

We Have Church on Sundays

We have church on Sundays. I know, that isn't a "wow" declaration. However, we have church on Sundays no matter what! That means you should never watch tv or listen to the radio to hear that Thalia Lynn Baptist Church has canceled services because of weather. We will have church unless there is a mandatory evacuation. You can count on it.

There are three reasons I believe we should have church.

It is practical for me to make it to the church. I ride a bicycle to church every Sunday. Neither rain, snow, sleet or dark of night can keep the bicycle from making its journey to the church. If necessary, I can walk. I have done that once, though it is not nearly as fast. I can do this safely.

I believe worship is the most important thing we do at church. It should have a priority. If a Christian can come to church, he or she should be in church. We worship together to be changed together. It has always been God's plan that His people should also worship together.

I believe in people. I believe that many people will do the right thing if given the opportunity. I believe they know better than I do if their roads are unsafe. I believe they know they should protect themselves and their families. I also know that there are people within walking distance of the church who would come to our church if they did not feel safe going to theirs. I have no interest in drawing them away from their churches. I just want to give them an opportunity to worship with a group of believers.

So, my rule is: We will have church. Protect yourself and your family. Do not feel badly if you cannot get here. Be safe but know that there will be someone worshiping at Thalia Lynn no matter what the weather.

I'll see you next Sunday, no matter what.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Who Likes Shopping?

Honestly, I really like buying. I just hate shopping. I went to Best Buy a couple of days ago to buy a tv stand. Granted, it is Christmas time and the store was crowded but it was a zoo. You couldn't carry on a conversation with the person next to you because the music was so loud. The store clerks were circling like buzzards evaluating the spending potential of each customer. The aisles, if you could call them that, were so full of merchandise that you could hardly get through the store.

At first, I liked being left alone. I could look for the tv stand that I wanted without having a clerk hover over me. Then, I couldn't get the attention of any of them to buy the item I wanted. I wandered around for a while and left the store.

So, I go to Circuit City. The parking lot was practically empty. I knew this can't be good. I got a clerk right away but they wanted $20 more for a very similar item. I'm sorry, but something inside me won't let me pay more even if it is more convenient.

I got nothing after all was said and done. I had all the pain of shopping but none of the good end results. I told my wife about my experience and she told me how we could do without the tv stand. At least I was happy about this.

This is the reason I do more and more shopping on line. I can look at the items within a few minutes and make my purchase. I get the good result with a very minimal bad activity.

Generally, women like to shop. This has never made sense to me. Shopping wears me out. It is not normal to like shopping. This is one of the reasons I have wondered if women were of the same species as men. Think about it. Who really likes to shop?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Do We Really Have Freewill?

I just finished reading a book entitled, "Thirteen Things That Don't Make Sense." I think it should have been called, "Two Things That Don't Make Sense, A Couple of Erroneous Conclusions and A Bunch of Stuff We Don't Understand."

My definition of something that doesn' t make sense is observations which do not support what we already know. For example, the fact that the universe is expanding with increasing rapidity while entropy would declare is should be slowing is something that doesn't make sense. The continuance of homeopathic medicine while there is no evidence to support why it works doesn't make sense. I appreciated the author's elementary explanation of these phenomena.

However, his declaration that we do not have freewill disturbed me. At least, he expresses his own feelings that this disturbed him, too. The conclusion is made through abnormal observations. People with "Alien Hand" will find that one hand will move beyond their control. It can even strangle them to death. It seems to be programmed to do something other than the will of the owner. The fact that the brain can be stimulated to move the body gives evidence to the effect of an outside influence which takes away the freewill of the owner.

The scientist doing this study seem to say that we are all programmed to do what we do. We are not responsible for any of our actions. We simply follow our predisposed programming.

This blog must have been programmed into who I am. I seem to think I am responsible for it but it is merely programming. All of my experiences add to this programming. I am a sum of all that I am both genetically and experientially.

There is some truth to this. I know that experiences and genetics play a part in our actions. No one can deny this. Yet, there are so many other people who defy their heritage and environment to become something else.

I have met thieves who would no longer steal anything. Their whole lives were changed when they met Jesus as Savior. They gave their hearts to Him and their desires to steal were "stolen" from them. They are perfectly happy being something other than their programming.

Honestly, I think many scientist exhibit a type of faith that exceeds the religious. They seem to find what they are looking for and create systems of belief which support their own conclusions. When they discovered that the universe was expanding rapidly, they created "dark energy." They believe it exists though no one has any proof. (Strange but they claim my conclusions that God exists are unfounded yet, they have very similar beliefs because "it must be so.")

God loved mankind so much that He gave him freewill. He allows us to get in as much trouble as we would like. He also gives us the freewill to come back to Him. I cannot see this as programming. My observations is that God comes for me at times I have had no thoughts of Him. That just doesn't compute.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I Hear God

I liked the movie "The Sixth Sense." I loved when the little boy said, "I hear dead people." Sometimes I think people look at me the same way when I say, "I hear God."

Many people tell me that they have never heard God. I wonder why. I haven't had that problem and have a hard time relating to their frustration. I wonder if they have heard God but think the experience is different than what really happened.

My experiences may not match others. I have never heard God audibly so that it could be recorded with a microphone. However, I have heard Him clearly. I have always counted on Him speaking to me in a way that I would not be confused with who was speaking to me. I never want to wonder whether or not I have been speaking to myself and claiming it was God.

Many times I have had to get away by myself. There have been times when I have prayed all night and God spoke to me. He spoke words into my mind and heart. I knew they came from Him because I was at peace with His message. Some of the things He has told me did not come to pass for years. Others, I needed to act on right away.

God often speaks to me in tough times. I think that is because I am more open to Him during those times. I know that He has allowed me to walk through these tough times and He has a solution to my problem. I am willing to do anything He asks. His words to me are more important than the solutions He has. I know I am not alone. I know He cares again.

Sometimes God speaks to me through others. I have listened to other preachers give messages that I know were for me. I hear their words audibly and God's message in my heart at the same time. Again, I count on that peace that passes all understanding which indicates that I have just heard from God.

The Bible gives me God's word. I have found that reading the Bible consistently and progressively allows me to hear God exactly when I need to. I have been amazed that a concern I am currently having is answered by God's Word on the very day I need the answer. I have had so many of these that it makes no sense to call them coincidences.

I have had God rebuke me with His words too. I had been away from the Lord for a long time. He came to me in my apartment while in college. He brought me to a point of despair and restored hope in me one night while there was no one else around. I repented of the things I had been doing. I told Him that I never wanted to forget that night because I never wanted to come back here (the place of departing from Him) again. Immediately, He told me to pour out all my liquor. I told Him that I didn't want to waste anything so I would just drink all of it that night. He wouldn't have it. I poured it out and never drank again. (This is my story, not yours. You have to do what God wants you to do.)

I have called people "spiritual snobs" and God has told me I needed these spiritual snobs. I have begged God for things and He has plainly said, "No!" I have asked for things and He has promised me more than I have asked. The fact that He speaks to me is more important than the answers.

I want people to hear God. I know He wants to speak to them. I will be discussing this in a sermon series soon. Until then, I want people to listen. Do you hear God?