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Archive for the month “February, 2012”

The Furnace

by Lewis Hamilton
from the book “The Gardener and My Garden” c1997

The repairman was called to fix the flaw,
our house was getting cold
We blamed the man who sold it,
my best furnace, we were told

This furnace, that’s the problem,
our heat it won’t provide
He described how efficient it should be
I think your salesman lied

There’s power her that’s missing,
it isn’t worth its salt
Our house is getting colder
and it’s all your salesman’s fault

We’ll send somebody over,
you can bet it won’t be long
We’ll have your house all nice and warm
I can’t imagine what went wrong

The repairman came by quickly
with all his many tools
He had a list of what goes wrong
and all the fix-it rules

He finally found the problem,
It’s this switch he firmly said
It should be on all of the time,
it’s been turned off instead

Oh yes, on one hot summer day
I did the mentioned deed
I turned the switch from on to off,
the heat we didn’t need

We wonder where the power is
in our Christian walk, I’ve learned
We don’t see any miracles
because the power switch is turned

The power is there, waiting
if we call on him today
He’ll turn our switch from off to on
and keep it there to stay!

“But you will receive power when
the Holy Spirit comes on you;
and you will be my witnesses in
Jerusalem, and in all Judea and
Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Acts 1:8

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Wanted Home Comfort Specialist

We didn’t really know exactly what we wanted when we put the ad in the paper.  To make sure we had enough applicants we used Craigs List also.  We were pretty sure we could hire locally and that the compensation would include room and board for as long as their service was being performed adequately.  We would make it clear that if their performance declined in quality we would show them the door and a new specialist would take their place!  We kept the ad very general.  It read “Wanted, A specialist that will come into our house and improve our comfort level”.  We figured that was enough to say for now.  Once the resumes poured in we could more readily decide what qualities we wanted and match the attributes of the applicants to what we needed!  As expected, we received hundreds of resumes for our position!  We found that most of our applicants had been sitting idly since the economic downturn hit.  Other lesser skilled applicants had simply become lost in the shuffle.

Applications from candidates such as Combs, Brushes, Hair Dryers, Curling Irons, Bathtubs and Toilets arrived the first couple of days.  Of those resumes we immediately ruled out the Combs, Brushes , Hair Dryers, and Curling Irons for being too specialized without the broad based experience we were looking for. They each made a case that without finely groomed hair we could not possibly have comfort!  Although they made persuasive arguments in their introduction letters, we decided to send them each a thank you for applying letter.  We also weeded out resumes for pencils, pens, clocks, books, and pictures.  The later three made arguments about comfort in knowing the time, losing our thoughts in a good book, or the serenity of a nice picture to look at!  While being somewhat persuaded, rejection letters were soon mailed.

We were starting to get a feel for what we were looking for although it was hard to put into words.  We kept the bathtub and toilet resumes and added to them most of the next batch we received!  Listing them in no particular order there were several comfortable couches, beds, pillows, cushions, and chairs.

A few days later we received a batch of resumes that included TV’s, radios, stereos, computers, and phones.  We also received resumes from stoves, refrigerators, dishwashers, washers, dryers, vacuum cleaners, furnaces, water heaters, water conditioners, and lawnmowers.  We shook our heads collectively when we saw the lawnmower resumes. The economy was worse than we thought!

We started categorizing the different attributes of each applicant.  We chose the best bed for instance and the best couch.  It got to be a choice of the best in category, almost like the dog competitions you see on TV!  More rejection letters followed as the lesser applicants met their fate.  By the way, the lawnmowers were told they would probably be better off applying for  positions in different fields.

The interviewing process was now in full force!  We began categorizing again.  We grouped Ms. Pillow, Mr. Cushion, Ms. Bed, Mr. Chair, and Mr. Couch all together.  One finalist would come from this field.  Then we grouped Mr. TV,  Mr. Phone, Mr. Radio,  Ms. Stereo and Mr. Computer in our second bracket   The survivor would be the second finalist.  Mr. Water Heater, Mr. Furnace, Mr. Refrigerator, Ms. Stove, Mr. Air Conditioner (a late entry), Ms. Washer,  Ms. Dryer and Ms. Vacuum comprised the third path to a finalist spot.  Lastly Mr. Toilet, Ms. Water Softener and Ms. Bathtub would compete for the final birth of our comfort final four!

After many soft interviews Ms. Bed was propped into one of our finalist slots! Ms. Bed made the case that for at least 8 hours a day she could keep us in total comfort!  The deciding factor over the other plush options was that we could see her value on a nightly basis!  Although Mr. Chair and Mr. Couch had strong interviews it was decided that  Ms.  Bed’s attributes were head and covers over the other candidates in this group!

In the selection between Mr. Stereo, Mr. Phone, Mr. Radio, Mr. TV and Mr. Computer, we chose Mr. TV as our finalist!  His reception to our needs was strong and while the other candidates rambled on, Mr. TV seemed to have the big picture in mind!  He had a great personality and we knew we would enjoy spending time with him if he were hired!  Missing our favorite TV shows would certainly decrease our comfort level was his sales pitch!  He also made the point that his voice could be comforting even if nobody was really listening!

We found it very difficult to choose the finalist for our third bracket.  Mr. Air Conditioner’s candidacy was dismissed when he admitted that he had a breakdown at his last place of employment in Florida. We studied the remaining resumes again and again.  Each candidate made very strong cases in their favor!   Ms. Stove, for instance, made an argument for her versatility!  Not only was there comfort from eating her hot food, but she could also play a part in heating the house!  Mr.  Refrigerator’s arguments were based on the hard cold facts of food spoilage and how uncomfortable that would be!  Ms. Washer, Ms. Vacuum, Ms. Dishwasher,  and Ms. Dryer all made strong arguments that comfort could be found in cleanliness and dryness!  Mr. Water Heater in his heated way, kept reminding us how uncomfortable a cold shower would be!  While all made strong cases, Mr.  Furnace sold us on the fact that without him all of these other “comfort solutions” would die in the cold!  He stated that he was versatile enough to make the whole house warm and heavenly!  He said that he would do his job without fanfare, and  we wouldn’t even notice him, as he would make his home in the basement!

Ms. Bathtub, Ms. Water Softener, and especially Mr. Toilet made very strong arguments for their abilities in our final bracket! Ms. Bathtub gave us all a separate complimentary bubble bath as a sample of her work! We all agreed that while in the tub it was the most comfortable, relaxing feeling we had!  Once out of the tub however, the cold reality of uncomfortableness hit us!  Although Ms. Water Softener was well versed on her facts and figures, she could not piece her argument together as to how she could make us more comfortable by saving money on our water bill?   Mr. Toilet emerged as our fourth finalist!  We chose him because he flushed out his competition by pointing out that we would need him many times a day and his abilities to keep things moving would rid us of many uncomfortable smells and debris!

It took another three or four weeks to finally decide on our Comfort Specialist.  Along the way we decided to bring back Mr. Water Heater for a second interview!  He seemed a bit pushy and demanding in his first interview, but in hindsight we decided he had a lot to offer and he had to be warmer on the inside than we originally thought.

As each losing campaign became apparent,  we sent out more thank you for applying letters.  In this letter however, we made sure we were more specific.  We sent a letter to Mr. TV for instance, stating that although his point that we would have ultimate comfort with him in the house was commendable, we felt another candidate had more of the kind of experience and background we were looking for.  We liked Mr. TV very much and hoped our letter gave him a clear picture of why his qualities were not a perfect fit for this particular position.  Ms. Bed’s letter was written in somewhat the same fashion with an emphasis at the end that we had chosen a candidate that could work both the day and night shift!

One of our final three candidates,  Mr. Water Heater was very persuasive in his second interview, however, we found from a background check that he wasn’t a hard worker.  He usually did all of his duties early we were told,  showering his clients with warmth to start the day and loafing when his employers had left for work.  Our letter didn’t state our findings, it just thanked him for his interest and wished him well in the future.  We decided to hire a lawyer, remembering again from his interviews, that he was very forceful and hot headed!  We knew he would complain about discrimination.  We hoped our new lawyer could keep us out of hot water!

After many weeks we were finally down to two candidates!  Both of our finalists Mr. Toilet and Mr. Furnace stuck with us as we stumbled through our long process.  Each possessed unique different qualities that made us re-evaluate and discuss our individual comfort definitions daily.  Our background check gave each finalist high marks!  The only complaints about Mr. Toilet was that sometimes he tried to take too much on at once,  therefore his work sometimes got backed up!  Although the thought of a backup was not at all appealing, we decided that Mr. Toilet’s work ethic was much desired over Mr. Heaters lazy habits! In our inquiries, Mr. Furnace was found to be very reliable and efficient!

We made phone calls to each finalist along the way making sure they both understood that they were highly desirable for our position!  I know for a fact that both turned down other opportunities because they really liked us and how we tried to make  them feel at home!  In the end we decided to create another position Relief Specialist and hired Mr. Toilet immediately!  For all of us this hire almost didn’t come soon enough as his services saved a few very messy situations that very day!

As for the Comfort Specialist we chose Mr. Furnace!  His warm personality was a breath of fresh warm air!  In his final interview we remembered that he had us close our eyes and picture ourselves on a beach in Florida feeling the nice heat of the sun warming us as we drank a cold refreshing drink! Or was it a warm refreshing drink?  Either way, the thought that with him around we could have that kind of feeling was overwhelming!  Although we realized he was blowing a little hot air, we decided that there is something very special and comforting in being snuggly warm!

Coming up next: The Furnace

The Trio

by Lewis Hamilton
from the book “The Gardener and My Garden” c1997

I was managing a trio
my spirit, soul, and flesh
trying to find the combination
where everything would mesh

My flesh wanted to sing the lead,
Give me the microphone
You others just sit down and watch
I’ll do this act alone

He jumped up and sang real loud
I was trying to be kind
But soon I pulled him off the stage
Not what I had in mind

My soul took the microphone saying,
I’ve been thinking this thing through
You want someone to sing the lead?
That’s exactly what I’ll do

When he was halfway through the song
the sound still wasn’t right
I had to drag him off the stage
He put up quite a fight

I had one more to give a chance,
my mood returned to blue
Come on, spirit, take the stage
Let’s see what you can do

His voice was what I longed to hear,
it fit my every need
OK, I said, the job is yours
You’ll always sing my lead!

The others didn’t like their fate,
they wanted the lead part
So when I gave them back-up roles
they didn’t like it from the start

Quite a job I had to do
to keep those two in line
They’d each grab the microphone
yelling, This job should be mine!

Sometimes I’d give in to them,
got tired of the fight
OK, I said, Soul you lead
but only for the night

Everything was out of line
I had to change their roles
I told them we must switch back now
with my spirit in control

I had to force them back in line,
it was always such a fight
Those two had minds all their own
I had to do what I felt was right

Then I heard them singing
in their parts like they should be
With my spirit the lead singer
and the others in harmony

The sound was just so perfect,
it flowed throughout the song
In every way I realized
my decision wasn’t wrong

So now I ask this question
about the trio in your heart
Is the sound all rich and pure
cause everyone’s in their part?

Or is there something missing?
Not the harmony you need
because you have not realized
your spirit has to lead.

For the word of God is living
and active. sharper than any
double-edged sword, it penetrates
even to dividing soul and spirit,
joints and marrow; it judges the
thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

Nine Pitchers and Eleven Quarterbacks

These days more than ever kids are encouraged to play sports at a young age!  Playing sports can be a good experience as it promotes competition, teamwork, and friendship!  When I was a kid it was all about Little League Baseball!  Now kids are encouraged to start early in soccer, basketball, tennis, baseball, golf, volleyball and the list keeps going!

If you have kids that are or have participated in sports you have probably watched the games pretty closely.  We as parents often have a tendency to watch our own kids even more than the game!  For those who watch the games objectively there are several familiar characteristics you will notice.  In soccer for instance younger kids tend to be ball followers.  It’s like a swarm of insects migrating to the ball as it is kicked around in all directions.  It is a cluster of bodies all in limited space with the ball leading the way.  Basketball has the same dynamics. When younger kids play,  you will see dribbling and more dribbling.  When the dribbling stops the shooting starts.   If a shot cannot be negotiated, teammates come racing over to give a helping hand and start encouraging the dreaded one foot backwards shovel pass.  The sequence begins again, more dribbling and more scrambles to reach the player with the ball once the dribbling stops. The result nets a glob of players in close vicinity working apart!

A good friend and I were watching a recent football bowl game.  Instead of watching the ball we were trying to focus  on the other parts of the game.  Very rarely in a sport like football are we trained to watch anything but the ball.  However, when we focused on the offensive line for instance, we saw a different game!  The only time these players normally get noticed is when they don’t do their job!  We noted their blocking techniques and saw intensity on that line that reminded us of a war!   Seeing how linemen hold or come up with ways to keep their opponent from getting close to their quarterback was amazing!  If you are like us, it doesn’t take long until you start focusing on the ball again.  Line play is interesting but it is not the glamorous part of football.

Very rarely do you see a player who could play every position in a sport.  In baseball there are only a handful of players who have!  Bert Campanaris comes to mind.  One game he played every position moving around the diamond to begin each inning.  He even took a turn at pitching!  Just the fact that he was versatile enough to accomplish such a feat while not completely making a fool of himself was amazing!  When players have played every position in a game it was always a publicity stunt.  It was out of boredom after a long season, and to give the fans something to talk about! Never did this gimmick make the team better!

In the past I have had a measuring stick for the value of a player.  I would ask myself this question. If every player on the team was that particular player, how good would the team be?  The players scoring highest on “my test” would be the ones who displayed skills in all areas of the game and had the physical attributes also. A select few superstars in the NBA are tall, can handle the ball efficiently,  pass, and score in a variety of ways!  To those few, a team of that individual might have a chance to be successful!  Basketball is probably the easiest sport to score high on my test.  Take LeBron James for instance.  Five LeBrons would make an awesome team!  Kevin Durant scores high too on my test!  Even in basketball however, with only five players allowed on the court at one time, most players would fail miserably on my scale.  A team of John Stocktons for instance would make a terrible team.  John Stockton is a hall of fame player, and was a great point guard!  However, he was only 6 foot 1.  A team of  Stocktons would be very weak in one essential area… Defense!  This team would be pathetic in rebounding and shot blocking.  Foes would score at will by throwing the ball into the post against John Stockton the center.  On the offensive end going up against taller stronger players would surely limit team Stocktons success.  Forget about an offensive rebound or second chance points.!  It would be one shot and done with a strong possibility that the one shot would be blocked!

In football and baseball my standard leans on the edge of ridiculous! Justin Verlander won the MVP and the Cy Young awards this past season!  He was the best starting pitcher in baseball! Yet, who could imagine having 9 Justin Verlanders in  a lineup?  Although Verlander is a great athlete he wouldn’t perform at other positions nearly as well as players who have trained extensively for those roles. An all Verlander team would have eight below average defensive players! On the offensive side,  nine Verlanders coming to bat would be very anemic in run production!

Tom Brady is a great quarterback!  Year after year he leads his team to playoff and Super Bowl contention.  Yet, as good a quarterback as Brady is, a team of Tom Bradys would be a disaster.  Imagine five Tom Bradys on the offensive line going against 300 pound pass rushers! The quarterback Tom Brady would not have a chance!

Years ago Henry Ford revolutionized American industry with the assembly line.  The concept was simply that everyone was a specialist.  Giving each person a specific job. he had them do that function over and over.  Eventually workers got so good and fast at their job that they could almost perform it in their sleep!  The result was a time efficient quality product that customers loved!   Since they produced their cars so efficiently they were able to keep the price of their new cars affordable for the average person! It was the ultimate idea of teamwork and it made Ford the leader in the automobile industry for years!!  Production and sales increased at an enormous rate! The assembly line became a model that all of their competitors copied!

Sometimes as Christians we are ball chasers.  We play as individuals working apart.  We want to chase the current “hot leader” concerning ourselves only with the question… Am I getting fed? Too often we are spiritually out of shape because all we want to do is eat.  A person who only eats and fails to exercise ends up very unhealthy.  We must understand that faith without works is dead!  The “spiritual food” needs to produce “spiritual energy”!  Many on the “Christian Team” do little to nothing. When our production on the spiritual assembly line plummets, we have a tendency to discourage the worker next to us so our lack of effort and desire isn’t as noticeable.  We envy a co-workers talents instead of encouraging them as a good teammate would.  We lose focus thinking our assigned job is meaningless.  When “the quarterback” gets all of the credit we feel cheated. We desire attention and accolades for the job we do!  We get unsatisfied and through our discontentment our work isn’t completed.  Ninety percent of work  in most churches today is done by ten percent of the members or less!  How well would a football team do if only ten percent of the players did their job? The mission you are supposed to accomplish in life can only be done by you!  You have been given special unique qualities that nobody else in the world has. There is nobody exactly like you!   Tom Brady would be a complete failure without his offensive line?   By the same token the “Christian Team” falters when members fail to do the jobs they are called to do!  Not trying to be “versatile” and do everything, but simply by doing their individual task to help the team as a whole!

The Apostle Paul talks about this same concept in I Corinthians chapter 12.  Verse 12 says  the body has many parts, and yet it is one body.  If the foot should say I am not a hand so therefore I am not part of the body, it would not cease to be part of the body.  If the ear says I am not an eye therefore I am not part of the body it would not cease to be a part.  Then he goes on to say if the whole body was an eye where would the sense of hearing be?  If the whole body was an ear where would we get the sense of smell? He follows that by adding “the eye cannot say to the hand I don’t need you and the head cannot say to the feet I don’t need you!”  Translated into my example, Verlander cannot say to Miguel Cabrera (his power hitting teammate), I don’t need you or Tom Brady cannot say to his offensive line or running backs I don’t need you!  The fact of the matter is they are in total need of each other!  Their success depends  not only on their own skills, but the different skills of all of their less celebrated teammates.

Just as everything needs to work in unison with teams, production, and the body we must also realize that within us everything must work in harmony also!  We are all managers of ourselves and we need to make sure that “our players” are working together in the most efficient manner! In a football sense, we need to make sure that our offensive lineman has not moved over to play the quarterback position.  Likewise, the quarterback better not  be blocking on the line!  In a spiritual sense this situation, though it seems strange in the physical world, happens all of the time.

To help clarify this thought the Lord gave me a poem called “The Trio”.  By showing me an earthly management problem, I have come to understand how God sees the spiritual situation we all face. Trying to get a trio of singers to harmonize together as a team is something I can relate to! The goal  is a sweet, dynamic, pure, holy song reflecting Christs love within us!  It’s achieved through sacrifice, practice, love, and constantly listening and obeying Jesus our coach! When this cohesiveness and unity becomes a reality in our spirit the result is a perfect harmony in our life!  Our spiritual “assembly line” begins producing  fruit and then much more fruit!

Coming up next  “The Trio

The Gardener and My Garden II

by Lewis Hamilton
from the book “The Gardener and My Garden” c1997

The gardener stopped by
the other day
to look at my flowers
in his usual way

But I told him the weeds
had taken it over
and I didn’t have
a garden anymore

Can you ever forgive me?
I heard myself say
If your advice I had taken,
I’d have flowers today

Those weeds that took over
at first didn’t look bad
But look out there now,
the view is so sad

I guess it’s too late
This mistake I have found,
trying to do it myself,
I’ve ruined the ground

I’m sorry, Mr. Gardener
Your work is so fine
You better see other gardens
so they don’t end up like mine

The gardener turned to me
There was hope in his voice
We can start a new garden
I’ll make it your choice

Let me pull all those weeds
Now give me the reign
to plant some new flowers
all over again

Let me come out early
and work every day
Let me make this ground over
Don’t get in the way

Your flowers will grow beautifully
as you will see
when you take yourself out
and leave the gardening to me

He worked oh so carefully
but it didn’t seem fair,
each day I looked out
he was always there

I told him I’d pay him
He said, No this is free
When they look at these flowers
they’ll be looking at me.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ,
he is a new creation; the old has
gone, the new has come!

II Corinthians 5:17

What Happens After We Choke?

It is amazing to me how often someone in sports is labeled a choke artist or a choker.  Choking as it relates to athletics is the inability to perform up to your normal level due to the situation and pressure of the moment.  Nobody wants to be labeled a choker.  We all want to be that clutch player who always can be depended on no matter what the circumstances.

Scott Norwood was a kicker for the Buffalo Bills from 1985-1991.  He was an integral part of the rise of Buffalo to a championship caliber team!  On October 25, 1987 he kicked a 27 yard game winning field goal in overtime to cap off a 21 point comeback 34-31 win over the Dolphins! In 1988 he was named first team All-Pro  with clutch kicking that helped the Bills advance to the AFC Championship Game!  He was 32/37 in field goal attempts and made all of his extra points!

Scott will long be remembered however for one kick that he missed.  It occurred in Super Bowl 25 against the New York Giants.  Never mind that the Giants controlled the ball most of the game!  They had the ball almost 40 minutes compared to the Bills 20.  Never mind the fact that the Bills had other opportunities in the game!  Everyone will point to the Bills lining up for a game winning field goal attempt from 47 yards away with 8 seconds left trailing 20-19.  Scott kicked it well with plenty of distance, but the ball sailed just wide to the right of the goal post.  Scott played the next year too, but after that season ended he was waived for a younger kicker named Steve Christie.  Scott left football and always will be remembered for his one failure instead of his many successes.  In the final analysis though, Scott was a great kicker!  He ranks third in Bills history in field goal percentage and second in points scored!

I watched a basketball game recently involving a team I follow with passion.  The game was a road game for my team, but we were staying right with them!  It was tight coming right down to the end!  The other team was up by 2 points with less than 20 seconds remaining.  Our point guard made a dash for the basket and somehow got the ball up on the rim as he was fouled!  The ball rolled around and dropped in the basket!  His ensuing free throw was good and my team was up by 1.  To their credit the other team attacked quickly.  A couple of passes and a turn around 10 footer and we were down by 1 with less than 10 seconds left.  Our point guard made a mad dash again.  Trying to duplicate his earlier feat he rose in the air in a flying lunge.  His shot was blocked though and there was a mad scramble.  Our center, we’ll call Mike got a hold on the ball and attempted to put it up, but he was grabbed and fouled with1.1 seconds left.  He would get 2 shots.  Mike was having a very nice game!  He was our go to guy down low and they were having a hard time stopping him.  He was scoring and rebounding well!  In fact without him my team probably would have been down 10 or 15 points!  Here he was though at the free throw line and the other teams fans were doing everything they could to make him miss.  His first shot looked good.  It was straight and right on target, but it came up a little short,  hit the front of the rim and bounced around and off.  His coach could see just how upset Mike was so he called a quick time out thinking maybe he could calm him down.  After the time out Mike stepped up to the line and missed again.  The other team rebounded and the game was soon over.  As the TV camera hit him Mike was devastated with tears in his eyes!  He thought that because of him the game had been lost.

I was listening to the post game show on the radio and they interviewed the coach.  To my surprise the coach seemed almost upbeat when they talked to him.  I know he was feeling deeply hurt by what just had happened.  Yet, he was more concerned about his player and how the team was going to pick up his spirits.  He mentioned that they would get back to the gym in the next few days and work on free throws and maybe if that situation arose again he would knock them down!  He was looking at the future instead of dwelling on the past!  His team still has the conference tournament in front of them and there are other important games to be played!

Simon Peter was one of the 12 disciples.  Peter was outgoing and brash!  In his mind he was the main go to guy for Jesus!  In his mind he was “Mr. Clutch” One time as Jesus walked on the water toward their boat he blurted out “Let me come to you”.  Jesus said come and Simon Peter actually walked on the water for a few steps until he took his eyes off of Jesus and sank!  Simon Peter was part of  the dispute that arose between the  disciples as to which one was the greatest. The Bible doesn’t go into detail but I can imagine, knowing his personality, that Simon Peter was loudly making his case for being the greatest!   Jesus had to correct them by saying the greatest is the one who serves.  Simon Peter told Jesus “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”  Jesus told him that before the rooster crows today you will deny three times that you know me.  Peter surely thought to himself that Jesus was surely mistaken!  If there was ever anything for 100 percent sure it was that Simon Peter could be counted on!  Yet,  just as Jesus said it would, it came to pass.  Peter denied knowing his Lord three times.  In the clutch situation when Jesus needed him most, Peter thought only of his own safety.  After the third denial he broke down and wept bitterly.  He had committed the biggest choke of all time, and he felt like his life was over.

Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so they might anoint Jesus’ body.  But when they got to the tomb the large stone was rolled away and a young man dressed in a white robe was there.  He said “Don’t be alarmed”  Jesus the Nazarene who was crucified has risen! Go, tell his disciples and Peter.  Did you catch that last part?  AND PETER!  Peter, the one who made the biggest choke ever was still on the team!  God was looking ahead instead of looking back!  He was looking at Peter’s future instead of dwelling on his past!  Remember when he was walking to Jesus until he got distracted? After “the choke” he kept walking on water in the spiritual sense! In the days ahead Peter would proclaim the gospel with enthusiasm and clarity. disregarding his own safety!   He spoke boldly on the day of pentecost proclaiming the good news!  He would be imprisoned and beaten for the name of the Lord.  Through these trials he came away with the attitude that it was an honor to suffer for the cause of the Gospel!  In the new testament you will find the book of Peter! Peter was an ordinary man who did extraordinary things because God didn’t quit on him after he choked!

God looks at our lives in the same way!  We’ve all done things that are shameful.  We have all choked at times under spiritual pressure.  But, God is willing to work with us!  He doesn’t discard us!  We are still on the team! He is looking to our future, not dwelling on our past!  He wants to get us back in “the gym” and prepare us for the  battles  ahead!   We may have lost a battle, but the season is still on the line!     By focusing on Jesus, Peters life ended with a trip to Heaven! He is in Heavens Hall of Fame! His writings and deeds are forever in the bible for inspiration to millions and millions that came after him! What happens after we choke?  Great things if we learn from Peter and renew our relationship with God!  After that the sky is the limit!

The next poem is called The Gardener and My Garden II.  It talks about what happens when the Gardener has to start over with our garden after we have neglected it!  Not dwelling on the past, he prepares us for the future!

Coming up next “The Gardener and My Garden II

The Gardener and My Garden II

by Lewis Hamilton
from the book “The Gardener and My Garden” c1997

The gardener stopped by
the other day
to look at my flowers
in his usual way

But I told him the weeds
had taken it over
and I didn’t have
a garden anymore

Can you ever forgive me?
I heard myself say
If your advice I had taken,
I’d have flowers today

Those weeds that took over
at first didn’t look bad
But look out there now,
the view is so sad

I guess it’s too late
This mistake I have found,
trying to do it myself,
I’ve ruined the ground

I’m sorry, Mr. Gardener
Your work is so fine
You better see other gardens
so they don’t end up like mine

The gardener turned to me
There was hope in his voice
We can start a new garden
I’ll make it your choice

Let me pull all those weeds
Now give me the reign
to plant some new flowers
all over again

Let me come out early
and work every day
Let me make this ground over
Don’t get in the way

Your flowers will grow beautifully
as you will see
when you take yourself out
and leave the gardening to me

He worked oh so carefully
but it didn’t seem fair,
each day I looked out
he was always there

I told him I’d pay him
He said, No this is free
When they look at these flowers
they’ll be looking at me.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ,
he is a new creation; the old has
gone, the new has come!

II Corinthians 5:17

What I Really Need

By Lewis Hamilton
From the book “The Gardener and My Garden” c1997

TV commercials, magazines,
billboards we drive by
comfort, luxury,
simple as pie

Stylish, elegant
going by the book
This new pearl necklace
gives me just the look

Tender, juicy, sweet and light
so come by and taste
Supermarket checkout line,
there’s no time to waste

Running to each item
the say will satisfy,
learning after buying
of their clever little lies

Material possessions
but nothing for my soul
Hunger unsatisfied
taking its toll

Jesus come by quickly
my spirit you will feed
Not food for my body
but what I really need.

For just as the sufferings of Christ
flow over into our lives, so also
through Christ our comfort overflows.
II Corinthians 1:5

Get Freed From Greed!

I like to have nice things just as you do!  Who would in their right mind tell you that they would rather have a computer that doesn’t work well or a car that is undependable?  It is very understandable that when we buy something we “need” we want to buy a high quality item.  What I am questioning is what do I really need and what is just greed?

Advertisers know how to push that greed button!  They know that I really don’t “need” that luxury car.  Yet, they can make it so appealing that my greed will take over!  I start making arguments for the greed and combined with all of the benefits the commercials point out, it may create an overwhelming desire for whatever it is!  What I have works just fine, but look at how great the thing they have is!  Look at all of the benefits their product provides!  Soon the thing that was just an idea of an advertiser finds a home in my house or sits on my driveway.

Buying things makes me feel good!  I’ve got the latest, greatest, most unique thing I’ve seen!  Later of course I’ll see another advertisement and wonder if I bought the right thing.  You may be saying to yourself I don’t pay any attention to advertising.  I don’t buy things just because I see them advertised.  Really?  Look around your house, in your cabinets, in your refrigerator!  Look in your basement and in all of the rooms.  Chances are very good that you will see things that came into your house as a result of advertising.  Chances are a lot of things you thought you “needed” were only greed items!

I have to ask myself this question again…What do I really need?  Well the basics of course…A roof over my head, a warm place to sleep, food, running water, and clothing.  I probably also need some kind of transportation to get me where I need to go.  OK, now I look around.  I’ve identified what things I really need.  WHAT IS ALL OF THIS OTHER STUFF?  Why is my house cluttered with all of this junk I don’t even use?  I’ll tell you why…At one time it was all “needed”.  Or was it I thought I needed?  I really didn’t “need”,  I just wanted!   Now look, I am a victim of my own greed!

So here is my dilemma.  What am I going to do with all of this junk that I have accumulated?  My ” treasures” are  things I am tripping over! My good feeling has  become buyers regret!  These useless things are  getting me down!

I know what I can do!  I’ll have a garage sale!  I’ll get rid of the “stuff” and make a little money too!  Of course I put a lot of work into my sale.  Things don’t sell themselves you know!  Finally I have my sale and am mildly successful.  Still I have tons of things that remain unsold.  I guess I can be “generous”!  I’ll give to the Salvation Army or Goodwill or whoever!  At this point my greed is really the driving force!  I’m not giving to help people as much as I am giving to get rid of things!  I’m sure the organization I’m giving to will appreciate my gift.  They are not concerned by the reason I am giving, but I should be! If I were giving for the right reasons  it would be so different!  I’d be  much better off,  happier and satisfied if I had resisted buying what I “needed“!  I wish I could have avoided this painful cycle!

The next poem is called “What I really Need”. When I get to the point where I realize what really makes me happy and satisfied, God will take the desire for things away from me!  He will make me content with what I have and give me a deep peace that only he can provide!  He will set me free from greed giving me a true spirit of giving!

Coming up next: What I Really Need

By Lewis Hamilton
From the book “The Gardener and My Garden” c1997

TV commercials, magazines,
billboards we drive by
comfort, luxury,
simple as pie

Stylish, elegant
going by the book
This new pearl necklace
gives me just the look

Tender, juicy, sweet and light
so come by and taste
Supermarket checkout line,
there’s no time to waste

Running to each item
the say will satisfy,
learning after buying
of their clever little lies

Material possessions
but nothing for my soul
Hunger unsatisfied
taking its toll

Jesus come by quickly
my spirit you will feed
Not food for my body
but what I really need.

For just as the sufferings of Christ
flow over into our lives, so also
through Christ our comfort overflows.
II Corinthians 1:5

The Cave

by Lewis Hamilton
from the book “The Gardener and My Garden” c1997

It’s lonely in the cave tonight,
it’s cold and damp and gray
I’m hungry, thirsty and so run down
I’ll die in here they say

My friends come and see me here
I beg them all to stay
Oh no, they call as they retreat
We know a better way

I’ve blamed the church, the pastors too,
for helping me to fall
I’ve blamed my friends and enemies
Oh Lord, I’ve blamed them all

When I ran out of people
to point my finger at
I pointed up to heaven
He was the dirty rat

But in that cave I cried one day,
Lord if you really are,
how can I feel so forsaken
and why are you so far

Away from me in all my trials
and troubles here below?
My life has no meaning here
I’m empty as you know

I heard the wind a howling
the earth began to shake
I said, Lord are you really real
or is this all a fake?

In all of the commotion
when I thought he could be near,
I waited as it thundered
but my God did not appear

As I sat in that damp, dark, cave
without reason and or rhyme
A still small voice spoke oh so clear,
I was with you all the time

You will on some days stumble
and crawl along the way,
but I will pick you up again
until you’re home to stay

And yes, there will be valleys
that you will wander through,
but take my hand and hold on tight
and I will see you through

Then he took my hand and led me on
right out of that cold place
I looked and there I saw the Son
with a smile upon his face

Now go and tell the world out there
about the place you’ve been
How you’ve been raised from the dead
and brought to life again

Tell them when they die like you
and they’re at the place you’ve been,
I will touch them with my hand
and raise the dead again.

Jesus, once more deeply moved,
came to the tomb. It was a cave
with a stone laid across the entrance.
When he had said this, Jesus called
in a loud voice, “Lazarus come out!”

John 11:38 & 43

The Escape Door to the Cave

I love my lights and having my house nice and warm! I love my refrigerator keeping things cold and my TV working when I need it! It seems odd to say these statements. They are so obvious that your thinking doesn’t everybody? Yet, when we get a storm and lose our electricity I realize how much I depend on modern things! Without heat, light, TV, the computer, a cold refrigerator, the stove, and a list that keeps going, I am not a happy or comfortable camper! I’m so relieved when the power comes back on!  I’m very glad that I live in a time when we have all of these modern conveniences! I’m very thankful that Thomas Edison came along! Benjamin Franklin too for that matter! Along with everyone else that helped make life so much better for us today!

Even though most of us have some type of modern conveniences we can find ourselves in darkness and without warmth when it comes to our spiritual life. Just as that storm may have disconnected some wires in our physical world, life’s toils may have disconnected the power source with our spirit also! Some of us  have never found the source to our spiritual power while others have been disconnected by the storms of life!   Either way we find ourselves in a cold, dark state of existence!

The next poem is called “The Cave”. A cave is a cold, damp, and dark place that is very unsettling. I’ve heard stories of people visiting caves and the guide may just for a few seconds have the lights turned off. It only takes that few seconds to realize just how dark things are and how panicky and fearful you can become! Imagine living in a place like that. I think God gave me this poem to make it clear in my earthly mind what he sees in the spiritual. Drugs, crime, violence, and hate are all part of the cave experience. Deep depression and suicide occurs in the cave too.

The cave is also home to many Christians who have turned off the power source in their lives. There are times when we feel lost and forsaken.  There are times when God feels so far away.  When we are having the cave experience it is easy to point our finger as to why we are there.  It’s a lonely existence when we remember how nice it was to be in a nice warm place with all of the conveniences!  Sometimes when we find ourselves in the cave, we just stay there.  The good news is we don’t have to!  Just as we originally found a way out of that dark cold place, the escape door is still there!  Make the call to Jesus!  He will reconnect you back to the power source and lead you out of that dark, cold cave!

The Cave

by Lewis Hamilton
from the book “The Gardener and My Garden” c1997

It’s lonely in the cave tonight,
it’s cold and damp and gray
I’m hungry, thirsty and so run down
I’ll die in here they say

My friends come and see me here
I beg them all to stay
Oh no, they call as they retreat
We know a better way

I’ve blamed the church, the pastors too,
for helping me to fall
I’ve blamed my friends and enemies
Oh Lord, I’ve blamed them all

When I ran out of people
to point my finger at
I pointed up to heaven
He was the dirty rat

But in that cave I cried one day,
Lord if you really are,
how can I feel so forsaken
and why are you so far

Away from me in all my trials
and troubles here below?
My life has no meaning here
I’m empty as you know

I heard the wind a howling
the earth began to shake
I said, Lord are you really real
or is this all a fake?

In all of the commotion
when I thought he could be near,
I waited as it thundered
but my God did not appear

As I sat in that damp, dark, cave
without reason and or rhyme
A still small voice spoke oh so clear,
I was with you all the time

You will on some days stumble
and crawl along the way,
but I will pick you up again
until you’re home to stay

And yes, there will be valleys
that you will wander through,
but take my hand and hold on tight
and I will see you through

Then he took my hand and led me on
right out of that cold place
I looked and there I saw the Son
with a smile upon his face

Now go and tell the world out there
about the place you’ve been
How you’ve been raised from the dead
and brought to life again

Tell them when they die like you
and they’re at the place you’ve been,
I will touch them with my hand
and raise the dead again.

Jesus, once more deeply moved,
came to the tomb. It was a cave
with a stone laid across the entrance.
When he had said this, Jesus called
in a loud voice, “Lazarus come out!”

John 11:38 & 43

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