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Accident Forgiveness

“What the he_ _ were you thinking?”  It was the man who had just hit my car in the passenger door.  There were two other people in his car that were unhurt.  He had bounded out of his car quickly to give me his message.  “You are in big trouble!”, he stated.  I tried to apologize but he was hearing none of it.  “You are in big trouble!”, he repeated.  I tried to approach him but one of his passengers told me I had better just stay where I was.  It was an unspoken threat that the driver had a temper and might attack me if I came closer.  All of a sudden the driver as if on Que grabbed his neck.  “Oh my neck”, he hollered for everyone there to hear.

I was so shook up I couldn’t hardly think.  The glaring question he had asked was still ringing in my head.  “What the He_ _  was I thinking?”  Then the answer came to me.  I was thinking the road was clear.  I was not able to see.  I had made the best decision I could under the circumstances.  I was not a complete moron trying to kill myself like the driver obviously believed.

It was a normal morning in every way that day.  I got up and did all my normal morning routines before work.  Even the beginning drive was perfectly normal.  The only thing different was the bright sunshine.  I questioned in my mind going back to get sunglasses but dismissed the thought as time consuming.  Pulling onto the main road the sun was so blinding it was hard to see.  Normally I just travel a little ways on the main road and then cut through a neighborhood to the left as a short cut. This day’s plan would follow the same logic.  The sun was still blinding me as I eased into the turning lane.  It was so bright that I could hardly see in front of me.  Looking back I wish I would have thought twice about taking the short cut.  Blindly I eased into the turn lane.

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Like I had done thousands of times before I looked to see the on coming traffic.  With the blinding light in my eyes I made the decision that the way was clear.  I started my turn and right away I knew it was a mistake.  A horn sounded and squealing brakes let me know I wasn’t safe.  Then I heard the crash.  It was a loud thud and I found myself getting thrown to the other side of the car.  Even with my seat belt on it was quite a jar.  The first thing I noticed was the wind shield shattering and glass from the passenger side window flying at me.  I also was pushed unmercifully into the steering wheel.  My car which was hit in the intersection ended up on the other side of the road I was turning on against the curb.  A quick assessment of my body told me that I was shook up but not seriously hurt.

As I was waiting there beside my car I heard sirens as emergency vehicles were heading our way.  Someone walked up beside me and tapped me on the shoulder.  It was my neighbor from across the street who had mercifully stopped to see if I was alright.  He offered his phone for my use and I took hm up on it since my phone was not recharged.  I called my work and my wife and then talked to the policeman who showed up.  The ambulance driver wanted to know if I needed attention.  I thought I was OK but had him check my ribs since they were a little sore from the impact into the steering wheel.  It was determined that there was nothing broken.  The tow truck came and took my car away.  The ambulance took the other driver to the hospital as he was quick to jump on the cot.  The policeman gave me the ticket and explained what I could do if I wanted to dispute it.  He took control of the situation and was very professional and friendly.

My wife picked me up and took me home.  There was glass inside my shoes, in my pants, in my shirt, everywhere there was little pieces of glass.  I called my pastor and told him what happened.  He asked me if I had forgiven myself?   I told him with tears in my eyes that I did.  He prayed for me and the situation.  I am so thankful that there are people that really care about me.  He told me that this morning when he woke up he felt in his spirit that something just wasn’t quite right.  Just the night before in our Bible study on 1- John we talked about forgiving ourselves. We know that God will forgive if we ask but the hardest thing it seems is to forgive ourselves. I can truly tell you that the more we re-live moments in our lives the more we are apt to put the blame on ourselves. My message to you is not to do this.  It is the work of the enemy to bring you down so don’t let him.  It was comforting talking to my pastor and feeling a peace about the whole situation that everything would be alright.

My son came by and the three of us went to where my car was.  It was decided that my car was beyond repair and our job was to clear everything out of it.  The fact that I had accumulated many things in the trunk made it a harder job, but with the three of us we recovered what we could and threw the rest away.  Re-visiting the car was a sad and glad experience.  Seeing it in such a bad condition hurt me but also made me realize how lucky I was.  That car was a symbol of Jesus to me.  It didn’t deserve to be broken but through that brokenness it had protected me.  Now I am alive because it took the punishment instead of me.

The next few days would be filled with trying to find another car and salvaging the old car.  We went to a car dealer and they could sense that we wanted to buy something quickly.  They asked for our price range and naturally gravitated to the upper end of what we were willing to pay.  We test drove one of their cars and when we brought it back the squeeze play was on.  The original lady had introduced us to her manager and now they were working as a team.  We just didn’t feel right about the car and wanted to see more.  Unfortunately the one we were shown was the only one in our price range and they were determined to see us buy it.  The more they put the pressure on the more it just didn’t feel like the car that we were supposed to buy.  I have learned that in everything it is a good idea to pray.  Pray that we are doing what is best in God’s eyes.  When we live by faith we’ve found that the right decisions are made because we are not leaning on our own understanding.  Proverbs 3:5-6 states to “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.”

A few days later we drove out of town to look at a car that was similar to my last one.  Although the mileage was great the car’s body was a disappointment.  Finally we test drove another car and it just felt right!  We had prayed for God’s guidance and he seemed to be giving it to us!  We liked everything about the car and ended up buying it!  Step one was complete and now we turned our attention to step two.  That would be salvaging the old car.

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I spent a lot of time calling different junk yards and the like.  I was very disappointed in the offers I was getting.  Finally I got a hold of one that was a national company.  Their price far exceeded anything I was offered and I agreed to sell it to them.  We set a date and time that they would meet me and complete the deal.  The man showed up with his tow truck to take the car away.  We started a friendly conversation and I asked him a question that I never would have asked had it not been for the Soul Winning class we had recently went through.  The man was named Kevin and I asked him if he had ever considered becoming a Christian.  He dismissed it right off the bat although he mentioned that a good friend had been talking to him about it.  I asked him if he would mind if I prayed with him and he seemed doubtful.  A minute later he turned to me and said “OK, after I get this car loaded I will pray with you!”  The three of us held hands and I had him repeat the sinners prayer after me.  It was an amazing thing standing in a parking lot sharing the Lord and realizing that God was entering into another life!

Going back to our car I had a tremendous feeling of peace.  I was amazed at what had just happened.  I shook my head in amazement and thought a wonderful thought.  “Lord there you go again!  You’ve used something that seemed bad and made it into something very good!  You have brought someone that I never would have met into my life and into your kingdom!  This whole experience reinforced something that is so real to me.  If we let go and let God he will do amazing things in our lives.  He will take whatever the situation we are going through and use it for his glory!  I am reminded of that scripture in I Thessalonians 5:18.  It states “Be thankful in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  Another scripture that comes to mind is Romans 8:28. 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.  Lord, thank you for my accident. Thank you that Kevin came to know you as his personal savior!  I am humbled by your perfect plan for our lives even when our world seems to be crashing.  Thank you for always loving me!

There is a footnote to this story.  Recently I did go before a judge like the policeman offered.  I was hoping that he would show compassion on me in light of the situation.  It was kind of intimidating standing there telling my side of the story.  I can humbly tell you that he did show compassion.   It reminded me of how our loving God has mercy for all of us.  We have all made mistakes and God is quick to forgive if we just ask.  So let me offer this prayer on your behalf.  Lord, whatever my reader is going through in their life let them know that you are with them.  You are there to protect them and make everything work out for good.  Let them know that after their world seems to be crashing all around them there is hope, love, and compassion because you love them.  Give them peace and victory because you offer them accident forgiveness.

 

 

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Sleeping In The Hotel Doorway

I used to play one of the late Jim Croce’s songs on my guitar and my mom would say it reminded her of one of my friends named Wayne.  Wayne was on his own but always finding himself in unfortunate situations.  Anyway the song’s title is Box #10 and it was on Croce’s “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim” album.  The thing about this song was that it wasn’t a big hit.  It was almost like Croce put the song in there to fill the album up.  Yet that song said a lot about how things go wrong when we are not connected to God.  Here is the lyrics and the chorus.

“Box #10” Lyrics

Jim Croce

Well out of southern Illinois
Come a down-home country boy
He gonna make it in the city
Playin’ guitar in the studio
Well he hadn’t been there an hour
When he met a Broadway flower
You know she took him for his money
And she left him in a cheap hotelWell it’s easy for you to see
That that country boy was me
Say and how am I ever gonna
Break the news to the folks back home?
I was gonna be a great success
Things sure ended up a mess
But in the process I got messed up too
Hello momma and dad I had to call collect
‘Cause I ain’t got a cent to my name
Well I’m sleepin’ in a hotel doorway
And tonight they say it’s gonna rain
And if you’d only send me some money
I’ll be back on my feet again
Send it in care of the Sunday Mission
Box Number TenWell back in southern Illinois
They still worryin’ ’bout their boy
But this boy’s goin’ home
As soon as he gets the fare
Because the minute I got my bread
I got a pipe upside my head
You know they left me in an alley
Took my money and my guitar too
Hello momma and dad I had to call collect
‘Cause I ain’t got a cent to my name
Well I’m sleepin’ in a hotel doorway
And tonight they say it’s gonna rain
And if you’d only send me some money
I’ll be back on my feet again
Send it in care of the Sunday Mission
Box Number Ten
Sometimes we tend to operate according to our own will and not the will of God.  When we do we are asking for trouble.  The person in the song had a dream of being famous.  His dream for himself probably wasn’t God’s plan for him. If you have a dream pray that it is in line with how God wants to use you.  Listen to his voice as he will let you know if you are on the right path.  The first step on God’s path is giving your whole life and everything you are or will be to him.  When you do you will be in perfect peace knowing that it is the right thing to do.  To the man in the songs dismay everything went bad and he regretfully had to call his mom and dad to rescue him.  This story is a perfect illustration of the parable of the prodigal son in the Bible.  The prodigal son took off on his own and humbly had to come back after all of his money was gone.  The man in the song also had to humble himself and seek help from his loving parents when there was nobody else to turn to.
The first time he made a mistake.  He blew his money on his own lusts and didn’t have it to use for his dream.  Sometimes when we find ourselves in our most defeated situations it is entirely our fault.  We are suffering the consequences for the actions that we took.  The second time unlucky circumstances worked against him.  There are times when for whatever reason things happen that are completely out of our control.  Whatever the cause we are right to go to our Heavenly Father to seek help.  Don’t let silly pride rob you of your victory!
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I’m reminded of one summer when Wayne and I both got a bad case of poison Ivy.  Both of us were miserable.  I remember my mom reminding Wayne not to scratch it as she caught him in the act.  He didn’t even realize what he was doing.  We used this pink lotion stuff to relieve the itch.  The stuff would get hard and supposedly dry the poison ivy up.  Somehow we both survived our poison ivy attack that summer but there was much suffering.  Years later when I was a “mature” adult I got a bad case of poison ivy again.  Stubbornly I refused to go to the doctor.  I decided that I could get rid of the stuff myself.  After about 3 weeks the poison ivy was all over me and I decided to go to the doctor at long last.  The doctor looked at me and said “what have you been in?”  He gave me some pills and within 2 days all of the poison ivy was gone!
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Unfortunately that is how we are with God at times.  We wait and suffer until as a last resort we come to him.  When we do he solves our problem and we wonder why we didn’t go to him in the first place.  The part of the song that really stands out to me is in the chorus he states “I’ve been sleeping in the hotel doorway, and tonight they say it’s gonna rain.”  That is how it is when we are trying to go it alone.  We are not protected from the snares that the enemy is throwing at us.  Instead of trying to live our lives on our own doesn’t it make sense to surrender it to God?  Like the parents in Illinois he is concerned about us and wants the best for us.  Instead of sleeping in the hotel doorway he wants us to have the best suite in the hotel!  All we have to do is ask!  If you have been spiritually sleeping in the hotel doorway repeat this simple prayer with me.
Lord Jesus,
Please forgive me of my sins and save me
Come into my heart and make me whole
Take me from this life of sin and give me hope
Make me a new person in you
If you prayed that prayer with me you will feel a wonderful peace in your heart.  That is the Holy Spirit making his presence in you!  Rejoice because your name is written in heaven and you will never have to sleep in the hotel doorway again!

A Familiar Voice

“Oh come on!  It’s only me”  Indeed it was only Vin Scully the long time announcer of the Los Angeles Dodgers.  How long is long time?  How about 67 years!  Who does that?  How many people have you ever heard of  did a job for 67 years?  After 67 years the day came when Vin was finally getting honored.  The ceremony was before a Dodger game and the place was packed.  Many of the people that Vin had touched through the years were there to speak.  One of them was a great pitcher of yesterday named Sandy Koufax.  Sandy had an up and down career.  In his case it was more down and up.  His first 5 years in the league he was a troubled left handed pitcher who barely won as many as he lost.  Then miraculously he found himself and for 5 straight years was the best pitcher anyone had ever seen!  Then at the tender baseball age of 30 Sandy retired.  Arthritis in his left pitching arm had led to his elbow swelling up every time he pitched.  It didn’t affect his great pitching, but made life very painful and Sandy had had enough.  Vin-Scully-FTR-Getty

Sandy now 81 talked about Vin and what he meant to him.  He mentioned how the Dodgers had another great announcer before Vin in Red Barber.  Sandy thought Red was pretty good but he rated Vin very good.  They became friends through the years and Vin has a special place in Sandy’s heart.  You see Sandy has lived his life after retirement far away from the public eye on purpose.  Only as a tribute to Vin was Sandy willing to get before the public again.  Sandy told the story about when the Dodgers moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in 1958.  It was in those early home games that Sandy notices while pitching that the voice of Vin was all around him.  Fans had paid Vin the ultimate tribute by bringing their transistor radio’s to the games.  They were saying “We like to see the game with our own eyes, but we also like to hear the gentle voice of Vin describe it in his own way to us!”  It was Vin describing Sandy behind the microphone as Sandy performed his greatest feats.  In the 1965 World Series he described Sandy’s every movement on the mound as he maneuvered his way through the Twins order without his best curve ball.  In fact he wasn’t able to get it over the plate at all and relied on his fast ball constantly.  Vin led us up to the big moment and when Sandy recorded the final out Vin was silent.  His style was to let the picture and the fan noise take over.  It was telling a story and his silence invited us to drink in the moment.

After the game in the locker room Vin was interviewing Sandy about a statement he had said earlier.  “Sandy, After the last game”, Vin began “you said you felt like you were one hundred years old.  How do you feel now?”  Sandy quickly answered  his old friend “A hundred and one”  That question in retrospect was what Vin was about.  He wasn’t always trying to get the strategy out of the player as much as he was getting the person out of the player.  We always hear announcers describing games, but Vin had a knack of describing people.  Earlier that year Sandy had thrown a perfect game against the Cubs.  Twenty Seven batters came up that day and twenty seven went down.  It is rare for an announcer to be able to describe a perfect game, but ironically I am sure that Vin called many perfect games.  They weren’t perfect in the baseball world.  The pitcher invariably gives up a hit, walk, and run.  Still the job Vin did in his broadcasts describing the action was perfect!

From the beginning Vin had his own style.  Not only did he describe what was going on in the games, but he was a friend and a story teller.  He did his homework and got to know the players personally.  He would tell us the inside information about a players personal life and how it related to the big game. He could tell us what the player was probably thinking because he had asked them beforehand what they thought about in certain situations.  Vin always described in kind of a sing song tone that was comforting and came across as someone we could trust.  They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  There is an announcer broadcasting games in Japan that gives Vin that highest compliment.  Even though his broadcasts are in Japanese if you listen you will notice that same sing song tone that Vin has used the last 67 years.

Through his many years of broadcasting Vin made numerous great calls.  However the call he made in the 1988 World Series has been voted the greatest moment in baseball history.  Kirk Gibson had carried the Dodgers to the Series with his great play in the N.L. Championship series that qualified them.  In two of the games against the Mets he hit decisive home runs and he also made a great catch in the field.  However during that series he sustained two crippling injuries.  The first was to his left hamstring while stealing a base in game 5.  In game 7 still hobbled by the hamstring he injured his right knee sliding into second.  So as the Series began speculation was that the Dodgers best player through the season and championship series wouldn’t be able to play.  Game one was winding down and the Oakland A’s were a run ahead of the Dodgers.  Vin had been periodically talking about Gibson and how his injuries had him missing in action.  At one point Vin was talking about how Gibson couldn’t possibly pinch hit.  Gibson who was sitting in the locker room with the TV on was heard to say “like He_ _ I can’t!”  He showed up on the bench and informed the manager he was available.  The game winded down to it’s last out.  The Dodgers had a man on first and two outs when Gibson limped up to the plate as a pinch hitter.  Vin had stayed on the story and was taking us step by step into the narrative.  Dennis Eckersley, the best relief pitcher in baseball quickly got two strikes on Gibson.  Gibson feebly hit foul balls where he barely hit the ball.  With each swing we could see how much pain he was in.  The count reached three balls and two strikes.  Then the miracle occurred.  Gibson guessed that Eckersley would throw him a slider and he did.  Gibson’s timing was just right as he hit the ball solid.  Vin Scully described the hit in a very short manner.  “High fly ball to right and she is gone!”  Then there was silence as Gibson hobbled around the bases.  As he got near second base he started pumping his arm in a heroic gesture.  Vin spoke again, “In a year that has been so improbable the impossible has happened.” Then there was silence as Vin let the picture do the talking. Finally as Gibson had crossed the plate to the mob of his ecstatic teammates there was more silence as we drank in the moment and his comment.  Then as the screen played the replay of Gibson hobbling around the bases Vin said “And now the only question was, could he make it around the bases unassisted?”

It seemed appropriate that Kevin Costner who starred in baseball movies Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, and For the Love of the Game would conclude the tribute with this moving speech to Vin Scully.

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“We will miss you, my friend. We will miss you in our radio, in our cars, in our backyard. You’ve been a gift to Los Angeles and to baseball itself. It seems forever that you’ve been guiding us through your personal window into the game.

“How lucky we were that day in Brooklyn when the microphone passed into your hands. You were the chosen one, the skinny redhead who stood on the shoulders of the biggest kid, ready to look through the knothole in the fence to describe to us what was going on. You were better than a golden ticket. You invited us all to pull up a chair, spend the afternoon, then proceeded to walk us into the next century.”

“For 67 years you managed to fool us into believing you were just a sports announcer, when in fact you were really a poet, a wordsmith. It was a nice trick, and after almost seven decades, you might’ve thought we would’ve caught on. But now the masquerade is over and the jig is up. We’re all taking deep breaths Vin, and we’re all struggling with our own emotions as we admit we’re down to our last three outs with you.”

“You did it in a style so friendly and unique, so effortless that years from now we will not be able to explain it to those who never heard it for themselves. The game will not lose its way, but it loses a perspective, a singular voice that managed to capture a boy’s game played by man at the highest level. You grounded it in a way no one else ever has, trusting that you never had to make more of any one moment than it really was.”

“We’re all taking deep breaths, Vin,” Costner said. “We’re all struggling with our own emotions as we admit we’re down to our last three outs with you. You’re our George Bailey and it has been a wonderful life. You can’t blame us for trying to hold on to you for as long as we can. And shame on us if you ever have to pay for another meal in public.”

“We know that you have to move up to the press box. Don’t mind us as we turn in our seats to look up one more time. Forgive us our silly wave, our clumsy toast, our personal salute. And should your mind begin to wander as innings start to slip away, we already forgive you. If the memories become too thick, then just stop and look around.  “You leave us and the game, Mr. Scully, but not without leaving a lasting impression, and not without taking a piece of our broken baseball heart.”

Vin was a voice of reason.  When it was hard for Dodger fans to watch because of the tension of the situation, it was Vin with his ever pleasant voice that led them through.  That is how God wants to lead us through trying situations.  The Bible states that “My sheep hear my voice.”  It is very peaceful to hear God’s voice and know that all is well no matter what is happening.

Sandy Koufax mentioned something that Vin prayed for before every World Series.  “Lord, make every player a hero.”  He knew the damage that a single play in an important game could have on a player’s life.  He didn’t want goat horns put on anyone.  That exemplifies the compassionate spirit of Vin Scully.  In his own way he touched lives by his peaceful demeanor, friendship and story telling.  Those are wonderful qualities for all of us to strive for as Christians.  What a wonderful life we can live when we take this non selfish attitude.  What a story we have to tell about Jesus’ undying love for all of us!  We are no more than the vessels he is using for his glory.   Likewise Vin was there to describe, promote, and help us enjoy the game.  As the fans went crazy with their applause Vin in his own way brushed off the gratitude.  As the fans cheered their loudest Vin wasn’t about to let their cheering define the moment. Awe Cmon”, he pleaded,  “It’s only me.”

 

The Scorekeeper

We’ve all heard the old saying “It isn’t if you win or lose but how you play the game.”  In our society that saying just isn’t true.  We watch sporting events every week and countless players interviewed after the games will say “the important thing is we got the W.”   I remember when my son first started playing basketball.  They had this YMCA basketball league and to my surprise they didn’t keep score.  This absence of a scoreboard struck me as unrealistic.  The thinking was that kids that young didn’t need to be all concerned about if they won or lost.  Being around sports my entire life I found the games to be an effort in futility.  They were playing the game but it was like it didn’t matter how they did.  When I participate in sports I am always the scorekeeper.  I don’t know why I originally took up the role.  I think it is the fact that nobody else ever jumps to do it.  To me the scorekeeper cannot miss a beat.  They need to call out the score after every made basket or winning point.  When others keep score I notice that points are made without them calling it out.  That leads to confusion later as the proper score gets incorrectly called as the game goes on.  I’ve found that in the order of things calling out the score let’s everyone know the game situation.  Everyone is on the same page and the score is never confused unless the scorekeeper makes a mistake.  If that happens the other players will quickly correct them and the game goes on with the proper score agreed on.

In organized sporting events we don’t need to keep score in our heads.  The scoreboard and official scorekeeper are all part of the game.  In the professional ranks people are paid good money to make sure that the score is right.  I’m reminded of watching numerous basketball games where the scoreboard isn’t working right.  Usually it isn’t the actual score as much as it is the time clock.  When the referee comes over to try to correct the problem the scorekeeper will invariably throw their hands up in confusion.  It strikes me as funny that the person in charge of keeping things straight has no idea what is going wrong.

With the knowledge of how important the score is and how people want to know the score Ernie Harwell the great old Detroit Tigers announcer used to make sure he said the score often.  Ernie’s broadcast was on the radio and he realized that people were tuning in and out all of the time.  For them it was important to know what the score was.  For those listening from the beginning a reminder didn’t hurt anything.  By saying the score often they were sure not to get the score mixed up.  Ernie Harwell - WJROneOfAKind.jpg

The official scorekeeper in baseball has traditionally been a rather interesting job. The actual score of the game is easy but the insides of the score can be difficult.  Many a controversy has arrived as to if a batter is credited with a hit or the fielder an error.  That particular controversy is very important to the person hitting the ball.  Getting a hit raises their batting average which is a meter at to how well they are doing their job.  When the scorekeeper scores the hit as an error on one of the opposing teams fielders it is scored like the batter made an out. Even though they are on base and eligible to score a run their batting average has went down.  Players have been known to bug the official scorekeeper continuously over calls that were made affecting their batting averages.  One time Babe Ruth hit a towering popup.  Not only did he hit long home runs but he also hit the highest popups anyone had ever seen.  Players circled around trying to gauge this towering fly and one of the players got a glove on it before it dropped to the ground.  The official scorekeeper gave the fielder an error on the play and Babe was furious.  Every time he saw that scorekeeper he brought up that pop up that he felt should have been a hit.  To his credit the scorekeeper held to his original conviction and never changed his decision in spite of all of the pressure Babe put on him.Related image

Now when we go to a professional event the scoreboard is so big it dominates our thinking.  Not only do we see the score we ,can also watch the game on the scoreboard.   A giant screen can give the viewer an at home view of the action that they might have missed originally.  The scoreboard has come a long ways through the years.  It used to be done by hand with someone hanging numbers on an actual board.  Now everything is electronic and when things go wrong some kind of specialist has to be called in.  Fenway Park in Boston still uses the old fashion way of keeping their scoreboard.  There is still a person inside the famous Green Monster Wall that does the scoreboard by hand.  This old school feature in their ballpark takes us back in time.  Even with all of the technology of today’s scoreboards the obvious thing is most important.  No matter what else is going on that draws our attention the most important thing is to show us the score.  Image result for green monster scoreboard

As important as it is to know the score in a sporting event you would think that keeping score would be something we should do in life.  In fact some of us are constant scorekeepers.  Have you ever heard yourself say “I’ll get even with that person?”  We say or hear other things like “that person gets all of the luck.”  Rick Springfield had a song with the lyrics “I’ve done everything for you, You’ve done nothing for me.” These are all indications that we are score keeping.  

Unlike the basketball game with no scoreboard our efforts in life without a scoreboard are not futile.  If we truly want to please God we cannot be score keepers.  Jesus doesn’t want us to keep score because when we don’t he gives the ultimate victory.  He talks about loving our enemies and if someone sues us and takes our shirt give them our coat too.   Romans 12:19 states It is written “It is mine to avenge; I will repay”, saith the Lord.  In life the ultimate score keeper is in heaven.  He see’s everything and in the end he will settle everything.  It is our job on this earth to walk our road he has set out for us.  There is no room to compare ourselves to other people on their own path.  When we focus on loving God and doing his will it takes away all of the burden of keeping up with everyone else.  “Peace I give to you”, he tells us.  We will never get that peace when we are concerned with the world’s scoreboard.  Giving up keeping score frees us up to do what we are supposed to do in a loving way.  We are supposed to put others first.  When we do that it may look like we are losing on the world’s scoreboard but great is our reward in heaven!

A Missing Light On My Computer

Yesterday throughout the United States people were looking up at the sky with special glasses on.  The glasses were designed to block the rays of the sun that the moon didn’t block.  It was one of those events that doesn’t happen often.  The moon was lined up between the sun and the earth for a limited time.  In some places it was close to a 100% blockage.  To others like where I live it was closer to 80.  Still it was a sight that people were lined up to see with glasses in place.  Some places went dark in the middle of the day.  Others like mine became dull and reminded me of the darkened horizon before the sun sets.

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This past week I have noticed a bright light missing from my computer.  I discovered the light a couple of years ago when a skinny lady from Kenya with a huge smile and a joyous attitude entered my computer world.  Her name was Lydia Jeritoch although I noticed that many people called her Jeritoch.  I wasn’t sure if I was calling her by her proper name but she assured me that either was acceptable.  One day someone shared one of my stories with Lydia and the next thing I knew there was a request on my Facebook page to accept her friendship.  Not knowing her I sent a message asking why she wanted to be my friend?  I don’t remember how she responded but I’m thinking she told me she read a story and that she was a Christian.  However it happened she became a tremendous blessing in my life, an avid supporting friend, and an enthusiastic supporter of my writing.  Although our initial meeting was somewhat dim in my memory, the light she shined since has lit up my computer screen for the last two years.

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Many months passed since that delightful time.  Lydia was thrilled when at the end of 2015 her story was the lightenload story of the year!  Since she was in Kenya and our time zones are so far apart we didn’t always see each other online.  However there were times that I woke up in the middle of the night and there she would be.  She posted about how great her God was often and I could always feel the joy in her heart.  At the end of 2015 I was having my own health issues.  They wanted to do a bunch of tests on me that left me wondering if my time here was limited.  One night I saw Lydia and asked her to pray for me.  Lydia was only too happy to and I knew that she was a friend I could count on and really cared!
A few weeks later the tests were done and I was pleased to tell Lydia the happy news that after much testing nothing was found!  If it were possible I think she was even more ecstatic than I was!  She mentioned that she was weeping with joy!  My story link is listed below.
About a week ago I happened to get on Facebook and Lydia’s picture was staring at me.  Someone was breaking the news that Lydia had passed away.  From the details I could gather she had been in the hospital for only a couple of days.  It seemed that she was having heart issues again.  Just the day before I had seen a post that Lydia made in which she was glorifying God in her typical way.  Nothing was mentioned about any discomfort she was going through.  It was obvious she had her sights on encouraging others and not complaining about her own problems.
The eclipse yesterday to me is a reminder of her.  Though her light may have seemed to diminish much like when the moon got in front of the sun it found a way to shine through.  Eventually the moon passed from the line of the sun and we realized what a wonderful beautiful gift the sun is.  That is how it is with Lydia’s light to me.  Without it being present I notice that a true friend has departed.  Although it was never going to work out where I would actually meet her in person, someday I will.  Until we meet again I will never forget the light that she gave which shined for her God to a hurting world.  Her light is physically gone now and Facebook is much dimmer, but Heaven is a little brighter.
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It Is Well

 

When I went to church as a teenager they didn’t have the rock sounding music that so many churches offer today.  I remember one Sunday night the song leader talked specifically to the youth section.  “Tonight we are going to sing only rock songs”, he offered.  Of course we were looking forward to a change of beat from the usual hymns.  What followed was the hymns, (Rock of Ages), (Jesus Is The Rock of My Salvation), (The Solid Rock), and other “rock songs.”  One of the hymns I remember us singing back then was called (It is Well With My Soul).  I remember it especially because it was a song that had an echo in it.  The main words would go (It is well) with some of the people doing that part while a few other ones echoed the phrase (It is well) in another key.  The same echo was done with the words (With my Soul).  Anyway it was a memorable song and seemed to be about a person happy in life because they had the spirit of God in their soul!  Maybe this was a person that everything went right for and God seemed to bless at every step.  We’ve all seen those people that in our eyes everything seems to to be perfect.  They have the perfect family, have the perfect job, the nicest things, and it seems the sun is always shining on them.  Sure they can sing “It is Well With My Soul.”  For those people everything always goes right.

Horatio G. Spafford lived in the 1800’s.  He was a very successful Lawyer and Businessman.  He lived in Chicago Illinois with his wife Anna and their five children, 4 daughters and a son.    In 1871 tragedy hit the family as their son fell victim to pneumonia and that same year much of their business was destroyed by the great Chicago fire.  With trusting hearts they carried on and God had mercy on them as their business started to prosper again.  Their faith was a big part of their lives and by 1873 things were looking up.  All six of them made plans to take an ocean liner overseas for a family vacation in Europe.  Horatio was all ready to accompany his family when out of the blue an urgent business matter came up.  It would take several meetings and Horatio was forced to delay his trip.  He urged his wife and children to start on without him and he promised to meet up with them a few days later (taking another ship).

Anna and her four daughters boarded the ship along with 308 other passengers and crew.  The French ocean liner was called the “Ville du Havre” and it was a big impressive ship.  It was 421 feet long and weight 395 tons!  Four days into their journey through heavy fog the unexpected happened.  A huge iron-hulled Scottish ship called the Loch Earn collided with their ship.  Without warning all of the passengers were in great danger.  Anna ran up to the deck and met with her daughters.  They all knelt together and prayed that God would spare their lives but if not that they would be able to endure whatever awaited them.  Tragically 226 passengers and crew from the ship parrished that night including Horatio’s four daughters.  A woman was seen clinging to ship wreckage by a sailor in a small boat.  It was Anna and she was alive.  She was rescued to another liner and nine days later a wire was received by Horatio.  The message was brief but to the point “Saved alone, what shall I do?”  Hurriedly Horatio boarded the next liner and headed off to meet his grieving wife.

About four days into the trip the captain called Horatio and told him they were now directly over the area where the tragedy occurred.  The Holy Spirit must have been guiding Horatio’s thoughts as he wrote the now famous lyrics on that ship amidst his grief and pain in the most heartbreaking time of his life “It is Well With My Soul.”  You see in every ship that has sank there was the same cause.  There may have been different ways that it occurred but the diagnosis has always been the same.  More water was getting in than was staying out.  When the ships got weighted down they sank.  Horatio was determined with God’s help to keep his ship afloat.  He didn’t get into the blame game where the weight of the tragedy could get inside of him.  Instead he chose to keep all of that on the outside.  He showed us how we need to live our lives by the example he left.  Though the storms were raging on the outside he refused to let any of that disturb the peace that was on his inside.  These beautiful words that Horatio wrote with the waves badgering his ship have blessed many hearts and lives through the years!

When peace like a river attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll,

Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,

It is well, it is well with my soul.

Chorus:

It is well with my soul,

It is well, it is well with my soul

The Bridge

They were the most beautiful lyrics from a secular song I have heard!

When you’re weary, feeling small
When tears are in your eyes, I’ll dry them all (all)
I’m on your side, oh, when times get rough
And friends just can’t be found
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

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It’s the beautiful lyrics from the song “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon & Garfunkel.  I think what makes the words so rich is the fact that we can all picture bridges.  We can picture the troubled water they sometimes hover over.  If we close our eyes we can even hear the sounds of the turbulent water and see the view looking down from the bridge.  Though the water is raging the bridge puts us over it and out of danger.  The parallel described in the song is harder to see but the correlation is there.  The person is willing to lay their self down like that bridge to literally put the other person over harms way.

Recently I wondered where these beautiful lyrics came from?  We know that Paul Simon wrote them but what gave him the idea?  Was it an event in his life or did someone say something that triggered such a beautiful picture?  I found that it was the latter.  Many years ago before the civil war in fact a Negro spiritual was sang called “Mary Don’t You Weep” or “O Mary Don’t You Weep”.  It is now termed a “slave song” and gave hope and inspiration for a better future.  The lyrics went like this:

If I could I surely would
Stand on the rock where Moses stood
Pharoah’s army got drownded
Oh, Mary, don’t you weep

(Chorus:)
Oh, Mary, don’t you weep, don’t you mourn
Oh, Mary, don’t you weep, don’t you mourn
Pharoah’s army got drownded
Oh, Mary, don’t you weep

Moses stood on the Red Sea shore
Smotin’ the water with a two by four
Pharoah’s army…

The Lord told Moses what to do
To lead those Hebrew children through…

The bridge over troubled water part was inspired by Claude Jeter the lead singer of The Swan Silvertones interpolation when they recorded the same song (Mary Don’t You Weep) which became their greatest hit.  He added the line “I’ll be a bridge over deep water if you trust in my name”.  According to Anthony Heilbut, a gospel producer and historian,  Simon acknowledged Jeter’s contribution in person and also handed him a check as compensation.

It’s strange that from one line of the lyrics Simon picked out such a vivid description.  The song “Bridge Over Troubled Water” became the #1 song of the year in 1970!  It was a feel good song as people identified the deep sacrifice the song implies.  Helping someone in such a way as to be willing to do whatever it took to bring them out of a depressed state and into sunshine.  It is a selfless song and made people feel good because being selfless does that.  It is like giving to someone something that is truly needed.  It makes the giver happy and gives them joy.  Although the receiver of the gift gets the material reward it is the giver that gets the peaceful feeling that they did the right thing.

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One of the wonders of the world is the Golden Gate Bridge.  Construction started in 1933 and the project was completed in 1937.  In the old days the only way to get across water was to have a boat.  I’m reminded of the Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn stories along the Mississippi River.  With the advent of the automobile there was a desire to make bridges that would allow us to drive over the water.  Depending on the layout different bridges were built to accomplish the feat.  Where possible a cement bridge might be built if the distance wasn’t far.  However for greater distances such as the Golden Gate Bridge special engineering designs had to be used.  They called bridges such as the Golden Gate Bride suspension bridges.  The key to building a bridge like that is the strength of the solid bases that hold the suspended cables which in turn supports the weight of the suspended bridge from one base to the other!  It took 70,000 tons of steel to accomplish such a mission.  In the end the bridge had these amazing statistics!

Total length of Bridge including approaches from abutment to abutment is 1.7 miles (8,981 ft or 2,737 m).

Total length of Bridge including approaches from abutment to abutment, plus the distance to the Toll Plaza, is 9,150 ft (2,788 m).

Length of suspension span including main span and side spans is 1.2 miles (6,450 ft or 1,966 m).

Length of main span portion of suspended structure (distance between towers) is 4,200 ft (1,280 m).

Length of one side span is 1,125 ft (343 m).

Width of Bridge is 90 ft (27 m).

Width of roadway between curbs is 62 ft (19 m).

Width of sidewalk is 10 ft (3 m).

Clearance above mean higher high water is 220 ft (67 m).

Total weight of each anchorage is 60,000 tons (54,400,000 kg).

Original combined weight of Bridge, anchorages, and approaches is 894,500 tons (811,500,000 kg).

Total weight of Bridge, anchorages, and approaches (1937) is 894,500 tons (811,500,000 kg).

Total weight of Bridge, anchorages, and approaches (1986)* is 887,000 tons (804,700,00 kg*).

Weight of Bridge, excluding anchorages and approaches, and including the suspended structure, main towers, piers and fenders, bottom lateral system and orthotropic redecking (1986) is 419,800 tons (380,800,000 kg*).

In 1989 a massive earthquake hit the San Francisco area.  Although several buildings and roadways were damaged including severe damages to the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge was not fractured.  When events like that happen however it is a reminder of how fragile we are and our man made projects are.  Man has accomplished much but only God can build the ultimate bridge.  That is the bridge that leads from death to life.

When man first sinned there was a wide canyon that separated man from God.  God decided to build a bridge so that man could cross over it to where God was.  Unlike any bridge that man could make God’s bridge will never break down.  You see God sent his only son in the form of a man to live and to die for the sins of all men.  With that supreme sacrifice the bridge was formed.  Like the Bridge Over Troubled Water song we take that bridge over the troubled water.  That is not to say that there will not be storms.  We may be knocked down on our journey, yet we know that the destination the bridge takes us leads to our victory.  You see the song by Simon & Garfunkel describes someone laying down like a bridge for the other person to cross over their troubled time.  In reality it is impossible for humans to accomplish such a mission.  Yet that is the actual mission that Christ took when he died for our sins.  He became the bridge not built with human hands but with God’s own hands.  Let the bridges that we see in our daily lives remind us of the ultimate bridge that God created for everyone.  May we always walk on the safety of God’s bridge and the destination it takes!

 

The Lost And Found

Nikki was a tall skinny old dog on that fateful day.  He was an eleven year old Siberian Husky who had a pretty easy life.  It consisted of going from his pen to the house, sleeping a lot, eating, catching his ring or ball, and like most dogs begging for food. He would sit there if I was eating something he wanted, (which was everything) and attempt to do his favorite trick.  That trick was shaking hands.  So Nikki would attempt the paw shake even if it wasn’t asked for to try to please and get the treat. Once in awhile we would take Nikki for a walk.  He got all excited and started barking and whining uncontrollably at the very sight of his leash in our hands.  It could not be argued what a good life he had through the years, but one day Nikki wandered away.

At first we didn’t realize that Nikki was gone.  He spent a lot of time in his pen outside.  If he wanted to come in he would whine at the door after walking through the garage that the pen was connected to.  I don’t remember how he got out.  Perhaps the garage door was accidentally left open.  Perhaps his gate door was ajar.  However it happened Nikki was gone.  It was a Sunday in the middle of the summer that we discovered him missing.  I’m sure he enjoyed his freedom.  Even on the walks we took him on he was confined by that leash.  Now he could wander wherever he wanted with nobody pulling on his neck to come back.  I’m sure it was fun for awhile.  Going to places he only dreamed about and all of the scents that dogs invariably smell.  Perhaps other dogs barked as they realized that this big dog was free and they were trapped in their house or yard.  That’s the envy of the other dogs looking out I’m sure.  Barking to threaten the straying dog to get out of their territory, yet realizing that there is nothing they can do about it.

The hours passed and still no Nikki.  This had never happened before and we didn’t know what to do.  We drove around and looked.  With the window down we called out his name “Nikki, Nikki’, but there was no response.  It was getting dark and we were worried.  Our street is not a busy one but the road connected to it is.  If he had wandered into that busy road he could have been hit.  There were many directions he could have gone.  He could have headed west which would have him walking along the busy street.  He could have crossed the busy street and found his way to Parkview Hills which is a Condominium Community.  He could have wandered east and either kept going on the busy road or cut off north into the Winchell neighborhood.  Not knowing where to look we drove all over and kept an eye on the side of the road in case the ultimate tragedy had occurred.

Reluctantly we gave up the search for the night.  It was dark and we had traveled down all of the paths we could think of.  Once again we were devastated when he wasn’t home to greet us when we got back.  We couldn’t think of anything else to do but wait.  Maybe he would show up during the night.  The fear thoughts kept entering our minds.  Maybe he was lying by the side of the road hurt and couldn’t make it home.  Maybe Nikki would never come home again.  Sadly we were trying to prepare for the worst.

I remember back in elementary school.  When something got lost they had a lost and found in the principal’s office.  There were times I came home without a glove or something.  My mom would encourage me to go to the lost and found.  In the office was a big box.  It seemed like hundreds of gloves, hats, and scarves were there.  Also in the mix was my lost glove.  It would have been nice if it were that easy to get Nikki back.  I do remember as a kid we had a dog named Happy.  Happy found himself in the dog pound many times after getting caught wandering away from our house by the dog catcher.  My sister would be crying and dad reluctantly would go and pay the fine to get him back.  Dad always said “I should have just left him in there”, but deep down I know he wanted him back too.

There is a story in the Bible that resembles Nikki’s situation.  It is the story of the prodigal son.  One day the younger son decided that he wanted to see what life was like without being under his father’s rule.  He would taste the fun stuff that he wasn’t allowed to experience.  He asked and was granted his inheritance which allowed him to go out on his own and eat, drink, and be merry.  All went well for the prodigal son until his money ran out. Suddenly he found that when the money was gone so were his so called friends.  He was left to make his own way working in a field with someone’s pigs.  At that point he came to his senses and made his way home.  He would tell his father he was not worthy to be his son anymore and ask for a job in his field.  His father had other ideas when he saw him coming.  He was restored as his son and his father held a big party for him!  Unfortunately Nikki didn’t wander home that night.  If he did like the prodigal son we would have celebrated.  Perhaps we would have bought him a special treat!  Those thoughts seemed like only dreams as the hours passed.

The next morning I didn’t go to work.  I called and told them that I was going to be late.  I mentioned that our dog was missing and I would be in if and when I found him.  Driving around in my Camaro with the window down I kept yelling for Nikki.  Once again there was no response.  I did happen to pass people on the way who were out walking.  With everyone I passed I described our missing dog and left our phone number.  That morning I drove all over leaving our number to anyone that I saw.  It was extremely hot as the temperatures that day hovered between 90 and 100 degrees.  If Nikki were alive the heat alone might be enough to be his end.  Totally dejected and very hot myself I went back home to rest and consider my next move.

Perhaps you are in a place right now like Nikki and the prodigal son were.  Perhaps the grass looked greener on the other side and you left God to find those greener pastures.  Maybe you found out like they did that the world is a harsh place.  Maybe the curiosity has gotten old and you have discovered like they did that what you ran away from was love.  Sometimes when we reach our lowest point we discover things about who we are and what we need to do.  Know that God loves you and is calling you to come home much like we were calling for Nikki.

As I was resting at home from the torturous heat the phone rang.  The lady on the other end told me that she thought she found my dog.  She gave me directions in the Winchell Neighborhood where she had seen a dog that matched my description.  Hurriedly I jumped in the car and took off to the destination about a mile away.  From a distance I saw him in the front yard of a house.  A lady was out there with him and she had provided him with a big bowl of water.  As I think about her  kind deed  it was like the Bible verses in Matthew Chapter 25 within the verses of 35-40. “When I was hungry you fed me and when I was thirsty you gave me something to drink.  Later the righteous ones asked when they did those things and he answered “when you did it to the least of these you did it onto me.”

Nikki didn’t see me at first.  He had his head in that bowl and he was drinking like there was no tomorrow.  I pulled up, jumped out of my car and called his name.  He took his head out of the water dish long enough to look at me.  He looked ragged and confused.  I could tell from his look that he hardly recognized me.  The lady wondered if this was my dog and I told her yes and briefly explained what happened.  Nikki still seemed in a daze but I coaxed him into the back of my car.
It took a few days to recover but Nikki slowly came back to himself.  There was a day a short time later that we  accidentally left the garage door opened.  Fearfully we looked in his pen only to find Nikki laying on the cold cement content with life and with no desire to wander away.  Nikki lived for three more years and never ran away again.

A Tool For The Job

My dad told me a long time ago that the people that fix things are the ones with the right tools.  We admire the people that we call “mechanically inclined”, but don’t recognize the importance of the proper tools they use.  It is false to think that just because you put the proper tool in someone’s hand the job will get done.  However,  without the proper tool it is hard for even the most mechanically inclined people to complete their mission.  What we find is that the people who fix things also take pride in the tools that they have for each problem they may face.

I was in a quandary.  The distance of the golf hole was 180 yards.  It was an in between distance I thought from the clubs I normally used.  In the bag however was a 4 wood that I rarely swung.  “Why not try that club?”, I thought.  Amazingly the ball went beautifully toward the green landing a few feet short and rolling right up on the green!

As I put the club back in the bag I said out loud “that was just the right tool for the job!”  My retired friend who was playing with me that day agreed.  I don’t play golf very much but I have to admit that I have too many clubs in the bag.  Some of these are specialty clubs that you may need in a particular situation.  The problem is that I don’t practice with these clubs enough and when that situation comes up I’m liable to miss-hit the ball with it.  The other problem is digging the right club out of the bag at just the right time.  The third problem is that carrying all of the situational clubs can make for one heavy bag.  After hearing how heavy my bag was a former neighbor told me that I should pick out only the clubs I use the best and take the other ones out of the bag.  Years ago I played golf with another guy whose idea struck me as very funny.  Instead of using all of his clubs in his bag he was hitting every shot with his 3-wood.  It seems that he liked that particular club and used it to excess.  Somewhere there has to be a middle ground to these two approaches.

My dad had a tool box and tried to keep his tools organized.  He had his wrenches all tied together so he could find the right one in a moments notice.  I too have a tool box but I hate to admit the number of times a particular job comes up and I can’t find the right tool.  It isn’t because I don’t have the tool.  It is more a case of not needing it and when I do having a hard time finding it.  This comes about when the tool is used and it doesn’t get back in it’s proper place.  It’s a simple exercise that often gets missed.  Having your tools ready for the next use is as important as using the tool you need in the present.  It reminds me of how some companies treat their customers.  Instead of a long term relationship they are only concerned with what they can sell them right now.  To relieve this problem companies now put their customers in their data base so that they have a history of their visits on their books.   Having a long term approach always keeps customers in the pipeline.  Treating customers the right way brings them back.  Putting your tools in the proper place insures they are there when you need them the next time.

I was searching for essential tools for the toolbox.  One website gave me twelve.  In no particular order here they are:

A Claw Hammer-Can be used for demolition jobs and pounding in nails.  The claw can pull misguided nails out and also straighten it’s path.

Flathead Screwdriver-Enough Flathead screws still exist to need one and it can also be improvised for other jobs such as prying or scraping

Phillips Screwdriver-Invented in 1936 by Henry F. Phillips, the Phillips Head Screw has basically replaced Flat Head Screws

A Tape Measure-Remember the old saying “measure twice and cut once.”  A tape measure is an essential tool.

A Crescent Wrench– The beauty of this wrench is that it is adjustable to handle many different jobs

A Socket Wrench– Using the ratcheting technique without having to re-grip is great when working on big projects

Vice Grip Locking Pliers -When you need an extra hand these can lock something into place.  They are a very versatile tool that can be used as a pipe wrench, pliers, wire cutters, a ratchet, or a clamp

Needle Nose Pliers-An essential electrician tool it allows you to hold small items in place

Cordless Drill and Bits-How nice it is to drill holes without cords or the old fashioned non-electric drill.  Reversing the direction makes taking screws out so easy.

Crosscut Saw-For all of your tree trimming needs

Level-Essential to most projects to make sure the finished work is in a straight line

Utility Knife-Every project seems to provide things to cut and scrape

Isn’t it ironic that these twelve basic tools was also the same number that Jesus chose to be his Disciples?  He chose the original twelve to spread the Gospel throughout the earth.  In the same way he wants to use us for his purposes in our day.  There are never too many clubs in God’s bag.  He is able to take whoever is willing and use that person in a special way to reach others!  Sometimes we wrongly feel that our gift is not special.  God looks at the gifts he has bestowed on us as very special!  He specifically made us all for his special purposes.  When he needs that special gift does he find us where we should be?  Sadly too many are not ready when the master calls.  We find ourselves out of the box, lost, or feeling unneeded.  His or her tools provide comfort for the carpenter.  Like going to the toolbox to find the perfect tool for the job, God looks for us to  meet his purpose too!  Preparing for a job to get done he is confident that we can be successful through him.   When he reaches for an extension of his hand he wants to be able to count on us.  Will he find a willing heart when the master craftsman needs to use us in showing his glory to a dying world?

Victory Beyond The Old One Two

He was an angry man.  Had he won that fight he would have forced Mohammad Ali to fight him again and he could get his title back.  George Foreman didn’t call it the Heavyweight Title, he called it his title.  The year was 1977 and George Foreman had been on the comeback trail.  He had won five consecutive fights and that night he fought a man named Jimmy Young.  George had a devastating punch.  Usually his fights would end with his opponent on the canvas.  This fight would be different.  Jimmy Young lasted the whole fight.  When the decision was read it was Young who had his glove raised.  George was crushed as he walked around in the steamy hot dressing room.  He had heard that after a match you should never sit down.  He paced back and forth and felt weakness in his legs.  “I feel like I’m going to”, and before he could say die he passed out.

George Foreman at a joyless time in his life.

George Foreman was born in Marshall Texas in 1949 and grew up in Houston’s rough Fifth Ward District.  Looking back he called himself a thug as he dropped out of school in the ninth grade, and ran the streets.  In 1965 he joined the Jobs Corps and that decision changed the direction of his life.  At the age of 16 the Jobs Corps provided him with a connection to the boxing world.  It was in a trainer named Doc Broaddus.  Doc encouraged George to apply his fighting skills to the ring instead of the streets.

George developed quickly as a boxer.  He had a mean streak that seemed to help him when he got his opponent in trouble.  He was always able to summon the old one two at just the right time.  He made the 1968 Olympic team and after winning the gold medal he made headlines waiving a little American flag.  This was the Olympic games where two African American runners raised clinched fists wearing black gloves in tribute to black power.  In contrast George’s waiving of the American flag made the statement that he was proud of the country he represented.
After the Olympics George turned pro.  There was much learning to do but he rose in the ranks with each success.  George was 6 feet 3 1/2 inches and 218 pounds of raw muscle.  He was feared by everyone he fought because of his ability to pound his opponents unmercifully to the canvas. He won his first 37 professional fights which earned him a shot at the heavyweight champion “Smokin” Joe Frazier.  It was 1973 and George was a heavy underdog.   The fight was held January 22, 1973, in Kingston Jamaica.  Shockingly George knocked  Joe Frazier down six times in the two round fight.  Finally the referee stopped the bout and George’s glove was raised in victory.
The next two fights were more of the same for George.  He knocked out Jose (King) Roman in one round and Kenny Norton in two rounds.  He was on top of the boxing world and didn’t think he could be beaten.  Gladly he accepted the challenge of Mohammad Ali.  Ali had been the heavyweight champion before being stripped of his title for refusing to go into the army.  He was finally reinstated to boxing after 3 and a half years and lost his attempt to regain the title from Joe Frazier in 1971.  Now it was 1974 and George didn’t think he could possibly lose.  After all he was destroying everyone in his path in one or two rounds.The bout was held in Zaire South Africa and was billed “The Rumble In The Jungle”.  George came out strong like he always did.  Charging and bulling his way in he continuously got Ali on the ropes.  Ali was different than any opponent he had ever faced however.  When George hit Ali with his best shots Ali would talk to George.  “Is that all you got George?”, he repeated over and over.  George continued to be the aggressor but Ali kept George off balance with his speedy jabs later in the rounds.  Ali started laying on the ropes and inviting George to come and take his best shots.  George did not hesitate and once again he kept hearing Ali talking.  “Is that all you got George?”  In his head George had the thought that wouldn’t go away.  “Yep that’s about it.”  It was a close fight but by the 8th round George was spent.  He wasn’t used to going more than two rounds in his bouts and here Ali was still strong as the 8th round was coming to a close.  Suddenly Ali hit George with a punch to the back of the head and with lightning speed he hit him two more times.  George felt himself dropping to the mat and realized the referee was counting him out.  At the count of 9 George was on his feet but the referee stopped the fight and declared Ali the winner by knockout.It was an embarrassing loss to George and it took him awhile before he laced the gloves up again.  He was bitter at Ali and bitter at a lot of people that he felt did him wrong.  His anger was so deep that he couldn’t figure out a way to hurt all of the people that were burning in his heart.  He took his anger out on his opponents and after not fighting at all in 1975 he had four bouts in 1976 winning all of them in short order.  By 1977 George was being talked about again for another title shot.  Ali had been able to keep the title that he won from George.  George was matched against Pedro Agosto in January of 1977 and won by a first round knockout.  The fight with Jimmy Young was made and George felt that it would be the warmup he needed
before facing Ali again.Jimmy Young was a fighter much like Ali.  He was a very good defensive fighter who had quick hands.  George plowed in determined to hit Jimmy Young with the hay maker that would stop the fight.  Jimmy was able to block George’s attempts again and again and jab his head with a pestering left.  Round after round the same thing happened.  George charging in only to get sent away by Jimmy’s quick hands.  In the 7th round something different happened.  George plowed in as usual but this time he connected.  Jimmy was hurt and staggered to the other side of the ring.  George was right after him determined to put Jimmy on the canvas for good.  Somehow in his hurt condition Jimmy was able to block and duck most of George’s attempts.  George was always able to finish off an opponent when he had them hurt.  He could always count on the old one two, but this time victory would not come.  Adding to his frustration the fans started chanting loudly “Jimmy Young, Jimmy Young.”  George wondered why the fans wouldn’t chant for him?  Jimmy recovered and for the rest of the fight was able to pile up points as George punched a lot of air.
When George was on that dressing room floor he had an encounter like never before.  He felt like he was in this empty place and that the Lord spoke to him.  The Lord said, “I don’t want your money, I want you.”  When he came to he was shouting “Jesus Christ is alive in me”.  George retired at the age of 27 and went into ministry full time.  He formed an independent church and lived each day for the Lord.  All of the bitterness that he had kept inside started to go away.  His heart was full of love as he forgave Ali and everyone else that had been on his hate list.

In 1987 George had a desire in his heart.  He had ballooned up to 315 pounds but the unmistakable desire was there.  He decided to get back into boxing.  He was old now in boxing terms at 38.  Yet it was almost like God had given him the desire to complete the work he had started.  George started winning boxing matches again.  He was big and slow but he still packed a wallop.  George trained hard and got his weight down to 250.  Although he wasn’t the fighter he was he became very popular wherever he fought.  In a drastic switch George was the fan favorite.  Because of his popularity fans wanted to see George fight for the heavyweight title.  Evander Holyfield had the title and gave George a fight.  George fought gallantly but it wasn’t to be.  Evander kept his title that night. 
George persevered however and kept fighting.  At the age of 45 he was given another chance.  The boxing world scoffed at George.  He doesn’t deserve a chance they thought.  Michael Moorer was the Heavyweight champion.  He was a week short of his 27th birthday while George was 45.  It looked like an easy payday for Moorer as he was much quicker than the slow moving Foreman.  The bout played out that way too.  Through the first nine rounds Moore was able to use his speed to beat George consistently to the punch.  He was winning handily on all cards as the 10th round started.  Then out of the blue George connected and connected again.  Michael Moorer went down and was counted out.  George walked slowly back to his corner and landed on his knees.  In front of the whole boxing world he was giving thanks to his God for completing a chapter in his destiny!When you see George Foreman today there is always a smile on his face.  There is joy in his heart where there used to be hate.  It is hard to believe he is the same person.  He has been very successful in business after leaving the ring.  He has been a spokesman for the George Foreman grill for years.  You have seen him no doubt on commercials and his joy is contagious.  He made 200 million dollars from Salton Inc. to use his name to promote the grill.  That was substantially more than he ever made in boxing.  In looking back George is quick to acknowledge that his defeats were the best things to ever happen to him.  “I needed to suffer those defeats so I could hit  bottom and look up”, George stated.    He also adds some advice that we all can use.  “Just take one step at a time, trusting that God still has a plan for you, and he will make the best of your situation.”

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