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Archive for the month “May, 2012”

Somehow It Was Enough

I was walking down the hall and someone almost ran me over!  It was someone not paying attention to what was in front of him because his mind was on his cell phone message, or text, or something to do with his gadget.

My thoughts go back to when I was growing up.  I’ve lived enough of life now to be able to think back.  Knowing that there is far more behind me than in front at this point reflections come more easily.

kids growing up

I was fortunate enough to live in a neighborhood where there were a lot of kids around my age.  Depending on the season we played a variety of sports.  Baseball, football, basketball, and street hockey.  On the bus coming home from school someone would be organizing a game.  Richmond’s field football four pm, can you be there?  Since we probably got home at 3:30 it didn’t leave us much time to linger around.  We played tackle football without pads and we played for hours at a time.  Nobody really taught us the fundamentals of everything like they would today.  In fact there wasn’t any grownups  involved, just kids playing games and enjoying it.  Today everything is organized and adults are involved in the games.  When my son showed an interest in basketball he wasn’t lucky enough to have a neighborhood of kids that would get together and play like I did.  He was shown the proper techniques at camps from people paid to instruct.  That is all good and fine but we didn’t have that in my day.  We just had kids playing ball together because we loved the games.  Somehow as simple as it was it was enough!

Today I’m hearing that we have a problem with obesity with our kids.  Back when I was a kid we didn’t have video games.  I have a news alert: Playing video games does not burn up many calories!  During the summers it wasn’t unusual when I was a kid to play ball most of the day.  If we weren’t playing ball we were playing kick the can or some other game!  We entertained ourselves back then and somehow we got by and maybe we were a little healthier for it!

Back then there was more of a trust.  My parents knew that I was out playing ball and gave me the freedom I needed.  When I told them where I was going they could trust me to know that is where I would be.  Back in the day we didn’t have cell phones, 100 channels to watch on TV, microwaves, computers, or the internet.  We actually sat down together and had a family meal.  I remember times where we would take a watermelon to the park and eat it at a picnic table.  It was simple and yet it brought the family together.  My mom was home with us.  My dad provided our household financial needs.  It was comforting knowing that mom was always around.  She kept the family together day to day on the home front.

Don’t get me wrong, I like technical advances as much as the next guy.  I enjoy getting on the internet, and using microwaves, cell phones, and watching 100 plus channels.  Yet for all of these advances I sometimes wonder if we have advanced at all.  Are we so wrapped up in our little computer world that we are missing the important things in life?  Should there be danger signs “cell phone zone” put up for our safety? Do we get so wrapped up around a TV set that we lose focus on effective communication with our family?  I wonder if kids today get so amused with the computer that they have more computer friends than friends they actually see and play with?  Most of all I wonder if all of these advances have brought us closer to God or taken our attention away from him?  If it has made our attention stray have we really advanced?

Thinking back to those days puts a smile on my face.  What we didn’t have in “modern technology” we had countless alternatives that were real, alive and personable!  I have so many good memories of friendships as we kept ourselves entertained.  I have memories of my mom playing hide and seek with us when it got dark!  I remember my dad and I watching  football games, but at halftime taking a football outside and throwing it around!  I have memories of games my sister and I created, making up characters and having them interact with each other!  All of those things and so many more showed me I was loved and somehow it was enough!

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

The doubters speak out loudly
that the Bible is all wrong
and people have believed the lie
for so very long

The stories that were written
they say could never be,
and there isn’t any power
to change life for you and me

But there’s testimonies everywhere
that the resurrection’s true
We’re seeing old lives changing
into something very new

Such drastic changes of heart
has to remove all doubt
Only a mighty miracle
could make these turnabouts

We’re seeing God’s power every day
the facts can’t be ignored
Compare how we’re living now
with how we lived before.

All those who heard him were
astonished and asked, “Isn’t he
the man who raised havoc in
Jerusalem among those who
call on this name? And hasn’t
he come here to take them as
prisoners to the chief priest?”

Acts 9:21

I’m A Witness

Sometimes I hear Christians say I’d like to be a better witness.  To be a better witness you must first be a witness.  Nobody will call you to the stand if you have no knowledge about the event in question.  If you have first hand knowledge somebody is going to be interested!  A witness is someone who has, who claims to have, or is thought by someone with authority to compel testimony to have, knowledge relevant to an event or other matter of interest. You are stopped at a stop light when a car comes barreling past you and into the intersection.  You see an oncoming car smashing into the car that has run the light.  You are a witness to this horrible crash.  You stay around and are questioned by the police.  Since both cars drivers and passengers are in no condition to talk it is you they want to hear from.   What did you see?  It is not hard to explain to the officer exactly what happened.  You saw it first hand and your testimony is taken as fact, you were there.

A more recent Brown City Camp picture below.  Some things don’t change!

Picture

The year was 1973.  It was a hot summer similar to a usual August in Michigan.  I was 16 years old and played on the church softball team which meant I had to attend church.  However I never gave my life to Christ.  I had heard the plea numerous times and usually the altar remained empty.  It was the preacher at the time making a plea at the end of a service for a public display of walking up to the altar at the conclusion of a church service.  Yet as in the poem “What Will People Think?”,  I sat there over and over even though I felt enormous guilt.  There was a guy named Greg, the youth director, who was putting pressure on me to go to a summer camp.  It was the annual church camp in Brown City, Michigan and he was trying to get all of the youth in the church to go.  Well to make a long story short he wore me down and I told him OK.  This was just a few days before the big departure.  Since I didn’t know the other youth very well I called my best friend Keith and talked him into going too!  The camp lasted 10 days and it was in a farm town out away from everyone it seemed (about a 3 hour drive)  When we arrived I was starting to feel right at home!  They had a ball field and a basketball court!  Sports were emphasized there and better yet if the girls were not participating they were watching!  There was a huge attendance as youth from all over Michigan were there!  Wow I was thinking!  This is going to be a lot of fun!

Brown City Camp

The sports and camp atmosphere was a lot of fun!  However there was a continuous activity I was not very fond of.  We had to attend a church service 3 times a day.  There were two that were directed at the youth.  After breakfast and after lunch which were less formal.  At night they had the big service where adults at the camp joined the youth in the big tabernacle.  After a day of this I came to the conclusion that I couldn’t reject the message anymore.  Every time I’d hear it I was feeling enormous guilt.  I felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders.  I felt like something was desperately missing in my life.  I felt like the Lord was telling me that this was the last time he was going to give me the opportunity to accept him.  After one of the services I told Keith that I was considering going up there.  I asked him if he would go up there if I did.  Keith being the friend that he was said he would.  It was August 19, 1973 and we were in the big tabernacle.  There were probably 2,000 people there.  It was a hot night and as the ending of the service came as usual the altar call was given.  As people were making their way down the aisle I found myself walking down the aisle too.  At that point it didn’t matter to me if Keith was behind me or not.  I had to take care of this enormous guilt that was overshadowing me.  I knelt in front of the big tabernacle altar with many people on each side of me.  As I started to pray I felt the hand of the youth director Greg on me.  Suddenly I started crying uncontrollably.  I don’t really remember the words that I said but I’m sure I told God I was sorry.  I was sorry for the fact that I had rejected him so many times.  As the tears flowed I felt this incredible peace come over me.  All of the guilt I had been carrying for so long was now replaced by a feeling of love I can’t describe.  I learned that it was the Holy Spirit that had entered my being!  I might have been down at that altar for 15 or 30 minutes!  The time just flew by and there was a lot of crying around me.  The feeling that I felt before and when I got to my feet was the most peaceful, wonderful, (I’m sorry, but I cannot find the words to describe), feeling I have ever felt before or since!  Most of the youth in our group either made a first time decision or rededicated their life to Christ that summer at camp.  The rest of the week flew by as I was basking in my new found relationship with God!  My whole attitude changed!  I was happy and looking forward to all of the church services.  The sports that were so much a part of my life up to then became an after thought.  They were fun, but it was God’s peace indwelling in me that made me happy!

The Big Tabernacle…Where I found God!

 

When I came home my family noticed right away the change in me.  I didn’t really know how to tell them, so I just told them straight out what happened.  A few days later my mom asked me to pray with her.  She noticed such a change in my life that she wanted that change in hers too!  So that was the beginning of my Christian walk.  In the years since have I been a perfect Christian?  NO…Have I yielded to temptation?  YES..But just as God forgave me the first time by his grace I can ask and have asked for forgiveness again!  The Bible says that If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us of all unrighteousness!  I can truly tell you that the light that came on inside me that day has kept burning to this day and my decision to become a Christian is the best decision I have ever made!  That original walk of faith is the reason you are reading this today!

If you want to become a better witness be natural.  Get to know people and show the love of Jesus that is inside of you!  Show them with your kindness that you really care!  Look for opportunities to show God’s love in your every day life.  As you get to know people ask them if they are a Christian.  Tell them your story similar to how I told my story above.  People are interested in honesty and real things.  Your experience with God will be very interesting to someone searching for answers.  You cannot make people believe anything, but you can show by a life of caring, helping, and telling your story that you are the witness with the answers they are looking for!

We’re Not Going To Get Out Of Here Alive

“We’re not going to get out of here alive you know?”  You would think that we were in a desperate situation.  Yet it was my friend Steve talking as our conversation turned to getting older and taking care of ourselves.  The truth that he expressed made me consider a subject that most of us don’t want to think about.  Another time a heart doctor was talking to a group of us. “How did your parents die?”, he asked.  After a short answer the doctor said casually, “well that is probably how you will die too”.  It was blunt and to the point and actually made me laugh.  It is good to laugh!  There were several TV episodes and movies with the subject of death.  One episode was done on the Honeymooners in 1955.


Matter of Life and Death 1955

First telecast on October 29, 1955, “A Matter of Life and Death” is the one in which Ralph is convinced that he is dying of the dreaded disease arterial monochromia. In truth, his medical examination has become confused with that of his mother-in-law’s ailing collie dog, but Ralph and Norton don’t know that; to make certain that “widow” Alice will have enough money to live on, Ralph sells the story of his “fatal” illness to American Weekly magazine.

Burt Reynolds in the comedy movie “The End” decides that life is not worth living anymore due to the circumstances that are happening in his life.  After several thoughts of how he would do the deed and Dom DeLuise supplying the co-star role in his comedic way he attempts  to swim out into the ocean and drown.  However when he gets out there he comes to the conclusion that life is good and he wants to live.  He finally is seen exhausted lying on the beach just as he spots Dom DeLuise still in killer mode coming at him with a knife.  At that point he starts running for his life!

It’s good to laugh about dying because dying is not a pleasant thing.  When we realize that we are only here for a little while we can put things in perspective.  We can get busy in the time the Lord has given us.  We can strive to be remembered for making this a better place.  It would be such a blessing if people found Jesus because of us even after we are gone.  What Steve said is true, we will not get out of here alive in the physical sense that is.  However our spirits will be in heaven rejoicing with those who went on before us!

Helpful Signs On The Path Of Life

We go through life seeing paths that have been traveled before.  Although our path is a little different we see notes on the side offering wisdom and advice.  The notes are from old saying or quotes that help make the road easier for us.  It is interesting to know the origin of the phrases that many of us use in everyday talk.

For instance “That was straight from the horses mouth”

.

We know that the saying means that the information is very reliable because the person in question gave it to us.  Did you know though that before all of the technology that we have today horses were a big asset to have?  A horses real age can be determined from its teeth.  So it follows that if you know what you are looking for a look into a horses mouth can tell you how old the horse is.  This is very valuable information in determining if you would like to buy the horse or not.  If someone gives you a horse you should be thankful for the gift and not be trying to find out it’s age, thus the saying “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth”.  There are so many sayings, lyrics, and quotes on the road of life.  If we get them in our heads we can find times when they give us encouragement!

Leona J. Atkinson has a blog called (SGLY) Smile God Loves You.  In it she mentions a story that illustrates how little nuggets on the road of life can help us in times of need.  Leona was a marketing demonstrator in a store.  The time was going by very slowly because she was bored.  She was watching the clock waiting for her next break or lunch hour.

In her boredom as time stood still she remembered a time when she was eight years old and was behind a sink full of dirty dishes. 

She was waiting for her father to tell her she could be relieved of her duties.  She was hoping he would let her go away and play.  Instead he recited a little lyric to her.  “When a job is once begun, Never leave it til it’s done, Be the labor great or small, do it well or not at all.”  The author of that lyric is unknown but the memory of her dad reciting it stayed with Leona.  As she was smiling at that thought people started smiling back at her.  She started enjoying meeting them and began enjoying what she was doing.  When things calmed down she actually went to other parts of the store and met people she wouldn’t have if she had stayed put.  The time flew by and it was all because of that memory of something so simple.

A saying that I like is “When life gives you a lemon, make lemonade”  I hope that this blog has been a cold drink of lemonade for you in a time of spiritual thirst!  No words are truer than the saying  “The best things in life are free.”  God’s salvation that he offers to all of us tops the list!  Please take a minute after you read this and comment on any sayings or quotes along the road that have helped you at certain times!    Maybe what has helped you will be a helpful sign to someone else passing by!

God’s Wings

This is a story that was emailed to me.  It was a blessing to me and I would like to share it with you!  When I run across something like this I’m going to start putting it on here, and will let you know that I did not write it.   I don’t know who the person was that originated this story, but I know that they would be pleased to know that it is spreading to bless more people!  It is symbolic of  God’s love for all of us!


God’s Wings 
After a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park , forest rangers began their trek up a mountain to assess the inferno’s 
damage. One ranger found a bird literally petrified in ashes, perched statuesquely on the ground at the base of a tree. 
Somewhat sickened by the eerie sight, he knocked over the bird with a stick. When he gently struck it, three tiny chicks 
scurried from under their dead mother’s wings. The loving mother, keenly aware of impending disaster, had carried her 
offspring to the base of the tree and had gathered them under her wings, instinctively knowing that the toxic smoke would 
rise. She could have flown to safety but had refused to abandon her babies. Then the blaze had arrived and the heat had 
scorched her small body, the mother had remained steadfast….because she had been willing to die, so those under the cover 
of her wings would live.

‘He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge.’
(Psalm 91:4) 

Out Of A Broken Heart

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

Good Samaritan

Out of a broken heart
came love beyond degree
Out of so much hurt
came one to bandage me

I was beaten up so badly
lying by the side
of that dusty road
with no place to hide

People passed me by
didn’t want to get involved
My wounds were so deep
problem not easily solved

He took my beaten body
and brought me to a place
where people could take care of me
I looked into his face

A face of compassion and love
he cried when he saw me
broken, weak, and helpless
and in such misery

He gave me hope to go on
when my world came to an end
He showed me by his goodness
that he really was a friend

Out of a broken heart
God sent his Son to die
He gave up all his glory
our salvation to buy

Out of a broken heart
he came to a world of sin
so I could live forever
in sweet fellowship with him.

But a Samaritan, as he traveled,
came where the man was and
when he saw him, he took pity
on him. He went to him and
bandaged his wounds, pouring
on oil and wine. then he put
the man on his own donkey,
took him to an inn and took
care of him.

Luke 10:33-34

A True Friend

I’ve heard that when you are rich and famous you don’t know how many true friends you have and how many people are your friends because of what you have.  I’ve also heard that if a person has 2 true friends in their lifetime they should consider themselves lucky.  Of course we all have so many more friends right?  Yet, it isn’t the quantity that counts in this case, it is the quality.  Most of us use the term “friends” loosely.  Most of the “friends” we have are merely acquaintances.  It is perfectly normal to have different levels of friendship in our lives.

A dog is considered mans best friend and for good reason.  A dogs love is unconditional.  They accept you as you are.  There is no backbiting in a dogs love (both figuratively and literally).  A dog is loyal, available, and loving no matter if you are the president or are unemployed.  I think that a dogs qualities characterizes a true friend.  It symbolizes characteristics of Gods love for us!   Maybe that is why it’s name is God backwards!

Aristotle said “a friend is a single soul in 2 bodies”.  Oscar Wilde said  “a true friend stabs you in the front”.  I’m sure there are truths to both of those statements.  A true friend is so close that they hurt when you hurt and they delight in your joy!  They stab you in the front with honesty, but it is words and advice with the intent of making you better!

Statistics show that 25% of Americans have no close friends and the average has only 2.  Consider this in deciding if you want to be a true friend.  Do you have the time?  A true friend doesn’t make excuses such as work or appointments.  When you are a true friend there is no time restraints.  If that person needs you, even if it is 3 in the morning you are willing to help!  A true friend is honest, trustworthy,  and a good listener.  A true friend is loyal.  When the whole world walks out a true friend walks in.  A true friend does not gossip about their friend and if they hear someone else doing it they quickly put a stop to it!  To be a true friend you need to be encouraging, forgiving, and loving for loves sake.  There should never be the thought of whats in it for you.  As a true friend you will support your friend even if it means hurting your own interests.  As a true friend you will be asked to stay even when the whole world turns on your friend.  You will listen sometimes without saying a word.  You will not be judgmental but will give advice from your heart.  You will allow your friend to make decisions and will support them as a friend even if you don’t completely agree.  You will laugh and cry with your friend through good times and bad.

How Did Jesus Treat Others True Friend - Quote of the Day

Someone said “I would rather have one close friend I can rely on than 100 that I can’t.”  Jesus symbolizes a true friend in that he gave up his life for his friends.  If you are one of the 25% of Americans who have no true friends you can have one in Jesus.  If you are fortunate enough to have a true friend or two add the most important one!  He accepts you as you are and helps you become the person you were meant to be!

What Will People Think?

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

What will people say today
if I answer the Lord’s plea?
What will they think when I walk up
and fall down on my knees?

I hear the call just as I am
I’m still just as I came
for I am chicken to go up
and call on Jesus’ name

I know down deep I should confess
up there on bended knee
but I am so afraid of
what they will think of me

But wait, where will these people be
on that great judgment day?
How important will their opinion be
or what they have to say?

Deciding what I had to do
I just walked straight up there
and asked the Lord to save my soul
I decided not to care

I had to get my heart right
Have him make all things new
If they thought bad of me then
maybe they belonged there too.

And again, “The Lord knows that
the thoughts of the wise are futile.”

I Corinthians 3:20

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