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Archive for the month “November, 2012”

A Final Gift, A Final Breakdown

One of the last things my dad did in his life was to sign his car over to me.  It was inevitable that his time was short.  He seemed to come to the realization that it was over for him when the car, a 1991 Olds Cutless Ciera, was brought up.  The truth set in quickly as he laid there that times were moving on without him.  Just for a little while the shock and hurt hit him.  I know he had a tear in his eye when the final word came.  The fact that he wouldn’t be able to drive his car anymore signaled that he wouldn’t be here anymore.  Because if he were anywhere around and felt mobile at all he would be behind that wheel!  I was amazed at how quickly though he came back to business.  He signed his ownership of the car over in the same firm handwriting that he always did.  It felt like it was his goal to finish out his last mission in life.

A Final Gift

I left for the Secretary of  State office to complete the transaction.  When I returned home I walked in and told him the transfer was complete.  He seemed very pleased.  I told him I would take good care of his car.  My words didn’t seem to  matter as he was glad that he could leave behind something that would make me happy.  His cancer doctor had given him a slow amount of morphine that would have him sleep his final days.  “No need to have him suffering” was his reasoning.  Of course he was right and I was so glad that I got to tell dad that he was the bravest man that I ever knew because of the pain he had to deal with without complaining.  Even though he shook his head no,  in my heart my statement was one hundred percent true.

There were a few minor things in the car that needed fixing.  It needed new brake shoes for one.  I remember riding with dad a few months earlier when I was hearing some grinding.  Over the years he had lost some of his hearing and he didn’t hear it like I did.   Normally dad was very careful in taking care of his car.  He always had regular oil changes.  Even though it was six years old when I got it, the car had only been driven twenty four thousand miles.  The 1985 Camaro I had been driving was on it’s last legs.  Shortly thereafter I sold it for $50 because the transmission blew out and it was only able to drive in reverse.  Besides the minor brake job the Olds was in perfect running condition!  I was very pleased to have the transportation problem in my life solved.

As with any car there are maintenance bills to pay.  Over the years, whenever a bill came up I wasn’t thrilled, but I could justify the expense as part of the process.  I figured that it is the price of driving which it is.  No matter how careful you are with a car something will inevitably go wrong.  Something will wear down or break.  Parts will have to be repaired or replaced.  Like a pet though, the longer you keep a vehicle the more a part of the family it becomes.  Oh you may laugh at an object being a part of the family, but it’s true.  Think about the times you talk to your car.  Think about all of the hours you are behind the wheel.  It’s so familiar and you learn it’s tendencies.  You become an expert at driving that particular vehicle.  Any other vehicle I drive is now an adjustment.  Maybe the brakes are more touchy and I have to get a feel for them.  Maybe the steering is a little different.  With my Ciera everything was familiar and easy.

The thought occurred to me that we are a lot like our cars.  Sometimes our brakes go bad and we say more than we should.  Maybe our headlights go out and we don’t see clearly both physically and spiritually.  Perhaps our steering goes astray and we end up in a bad place or a bad situation.  Maybe our battery gets run down and we get sick.  Inevitably our body gets worn out and we see the signs of aging appear.  Sooner or later someone may tell us there is nothing more they can do to repair the damage.

Yesterday I left home to go back to work from lunch early.  I had to make a stop to have my bent glasses fixed.  As I was driving about thirty five miles an hour I heard a thump from my engine.  After that the car stalled out and luckily I was able to wrestle it into the Psychiatric Hospital that was directly to my left.  How ironic that we would end up at the Psychiatric Hospital with our breakdown.  I knew this was something major and it was confirmed when it wouldn’t start back up.  We did the usual things you would do in this situation.  We had the car towed to a repair shop and like a relation of the sick we waited for the verdict.  It was the next day when we got the outcome and the news wasn’t good.  It seems the timing belt broke and that was the thumping noise I heard.  Normally it may be worthwhile to have it replaced, but not on a car as old as mine.  I had already poured major money into it just recently and now this.  The time has come to say goodbye to the Olds.

When we got the news we started the task of  cleaning out the car.  Although I took good care of the car mechanically like I told my dad I would, on the inside I had papers of times past.  Most were unimportant receipts or old registrations that could be tossed.  My car was also home to my sports stuff such as my basketball, racquetball equipment, and golf clubs.  Cleaning out that car is like sorting out all of the stuff in someone’s life after they pass away.  Some of the stuff may be memories that we have of times past.  Those are like the receipts I found in the car.  Like in most cars there was money in the form of change.  The money might be some wisdom we learned from the person that we can spend later.

In 1997 the year my dad died and the year I got the car I also started a new job.  Over these last fifteen years I have worked with the same coworker in a two person office, Linda.  Earlier this year Linda told me she was retiring.  Next week will be her last.  For the last fifteen years two things have been consistent in my life.  I have driven the same car and I have worked with Linda.  I know that in life change is going to happen.  I have been blessed to have had stability for all of these years.  For these things and so many more I am thankful on this Thanksgiving day!

I realize that change is inevitable and that it is good for us!  I also wouldn’t blame you if you laugh at how sentimental I am about a car.  In fact you probably have gone through many cars in the time that I have had one.  I know dad would have told me years ago to get another car.   But there was something special about that Olds.  It was given to me by  someone who I loved very much and it remained a memory of him.  It was a last gift of love and I cherished it.  The Olds Ciera was a lot like him too.  It battled through the years until it broke down and couldn’t battle anymore.  Maybe like my sisters dog Teddy, who bridged the gap for her from the time mom and dad died til now, his car helped me bridge that gap too.  I will miss the familiarity of the Olds and the memories of all of the places we went together.    Dad left a little bit of himself in his car and that is what I will miss the most.

See Hello Charley Goodbye Shine for a car story with my car as Sam Olds! hello-charley-goodbye-shine

Fueling the Fire

I was driving home for lunch today and as the price on the sign from the local gas station came into view I had to do a double take!

pretty expensive stuff!

Admittedly something went horribly wrong with their sign or did it?  We probably won’t hit these prices anytime soon but is this a sign for the future?  When I first started driving gas was about fifty cents a gallon.  I guess you can say I’m getting old.

In 1974 I got my first car!  It was a green 1968 Pontiac Lemans!  That car was a gas guzzler!  One problem that it had was a faulty carburetor.  I remember the car stalling many a time because it wasn’t getting enough gas.  I’m sure it needed a good tune up because when I first started the car it would be idling so fast that it would literally take off without any help from the gas pedal!  Bob, my friend next door used to ride with me to school my senior year in high school.  We had a lot of fun every morning in that car!  Kevin lived down the road and he drove his brother, sister and a couple of more people to school every day.  Although Kevin didn’t care, to Bob and I it was important to beat him every day to school!  Since both of us were usually leaving about the same time his car was always in view.  When we got in the car the first thing we wondered was did Kevin pass yet?  Usually he was just behind us or just ahead.  Normally we jumped on the highway especially if we were behind.  We never lost our race with Kevin.  I remember we had a can of starting fluid in the car in case we stopped and the car stalled.  I would have to jump out  and squirt the stuff down the carburetor to get the car to fire up again.  It was another daring chance I took along with driving way  too fast just to beat Kevin to school.  All the while my car got about ten miles per gallon.  It’s gas guzzling was made even worse by my speeding to school every morning.

Racing around wasting my fuel!

I had a friend named Steve that worked in the local gas station by my house.  We were friends from school and he was thrilled when I pulled my car in.  I remember one day I told Steve I wanted five dollars of gas.  He set the pump to automatic and got carried away in his conversation with me.  These days they set the pump inside and it stops at the dollar amount requested.  Back then I guess it was the job of the attendant to watch how much he pumped in.  It may sound crazy to my young readers but someone actually pumped the gas in our cars back then.  When Steve looked at the pump panic set in.  It had already pumped in over ten dollars before he could get the nozzle out!  When Steve came back to the car I handed him the five I had.  He went to the manager and told him what happened.  If you can believe it the manager actually came out and siphoned some of the gas out of my car!

Keith and I have been best friends since we were three or four.  One day at the little church around our house we met each other.  I am two and a half weeks older than Keith.  We figured out that we lived right down the road from each other!  After that we were inseparable.  When we were seven years old I hung around Keith as he did some work.  Keith  had a couple of work things he had to do to help out.   One was delivering the TV Guide to people that subscribed through him in our neighborhood.  The other chore I remember is that he regularly burned the papers in the barrel they had in the backyard.  One day as Keith and I were burning his papers Keith, with an excited voice stated, “I know how we can make this fire bigger!”  Not knowing what he was up to I followed him into his garage where he picked up a can of gasoline.

I know how we can make this fire bigger!

At that time I had seen gasoline used before as my dad poured it into the lawnmower.  It seems Keith had some advanced knowledge over me in the power of gasoline.  I followed him like a good soldier wondering what magic he was going to do to that fire with the gas.  Just as he started pouring the gas into the fire his mom came running out of the house screaming.  It caught us totally off guard and she grabbed Keith and told me to go home.  She then called my parents and told them what we were doing.  For years after that my dad told the story about how naive I was.  After he told me how dangerous it was to pour gasoline in a fire I  said “it wasn’t dangerous dad, it was just gasoline like you put in the lawnmower.”

When we are born again God puts a fire within us.  It isn’t a fire in the sense that it will burn or harm us.  It is a fire from his spirit to ours.  It is in the form of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us and leads us to all righteousness.  The gasoline in the story represents spiritual things! When we feed our spirit with spiritual things  our spiritual fire grows!  When this happens there is a difference in us that people notice!

Too often though, we waste the fuel that we need in our lives.  Sometimes we are coming and going so fast racing races that have no meaning.     Other times we squander our fuel because we get distracted and lose focus.   Instead of admitting our mistakes and asking God for forgiveness,  we tend to try to correct the wrongs ourselves .

Keith’s mom acted wisely in stopping us from pouring the gas into the fire.  Physically we could have done ourselves great harm.  In the spiritual world adding the Holy Spirit as fuel to our fire will always benefit us.  Yet, when the fire is about to get too big for the comfort of some they tend to want to limit the power of God.  Instead of encouraging their brothers and sisters to add more fuel they would rather be set in Keeping everything the same!  Adding the Holy Spirit to our fire has the potential of waking up a dying world!  To some Christians the excitement that the Holy Spirit could generate in their life and ours would be too weird or would make them feel uncomfortable.  Spiritual water is often used instead of fuel to keep the fire “under control.”

Unlike the sign I saw for the price of gas, our spiritual fuel is priceless.  Saying it is priceless but it is free can only describe our gift from God.  Although the initial salvation experience is free, keeping that fire burning takes effort and dedication!  Our spiritual fire is either getting smaller or bigger.  It’s not enough just to get a quick fix in our spiritual carburetor! We can choose to keep our fire at a point where it could literally go out, or we can fuel the fire with prayer, study, and committing ourselves fully to the cause!  The secret formula isn’t secret at all.   It’s the constant desire within us to want more of God and less of us.  It will happen when we use what he has given to us smartly and fuel the fire within!  We can then use God’s fire to heat the spirits of others as they seek spiritual warmth in a cold hard world!

Fuel the Fire, by Sonicflood

Click below


Fresh Fire Is Not Free

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

Fresh fire Lord,
That’s what I say
But how do I get it?
Show me the way

Give me the power,
give me the boldness,
give me the wisdom
to cut through their coldness

I waited expecting
that new fresh fire
Then came a voice,
Do you really desire?

The thing that you ask for,
it comes with a cost
It starts with a burden
to rescue the lost

You ask me to give you,
what will you give me?
This thing that you ask for,
it isn’t for free

The price of my daily
filling your cup
is for you to be humble,
your will give up

Give praise to your God,
walk in the light
for I have delivered you
from the cold, lonely night

Quit trying to take
a small part of me
Give up your own way,
then you will see

The power, the glory,
the victory too
The fruit of the Spirit,
that’s my will for you

Keep your heart open
throughout the day
I may be able
to use you some way

The thing that you ask for,
it is no short journey
You must open your heart
for continuous learning

Give me your whole life,
don’t hold anything back,
then the fire will fall
and you will not lack

Give me your quality
time when you pray
Learn how to trust me,
my commandments obey

Walk in the Spirit,
live always near it
Take hold of my hand
and I’ll let you stand

The Spirit-filled life is
my desire for you
so walk with me daily

and I’ll make all things new

Stay in the vine
all of the time,
then I can entrust you
with all that is mine

Can I make this commitment?
How can I dare?
Then out of my heart
came this beautiful prayer

Lord, thank you for showing me
your wisdom so true
and let me still ask for
fresh fire anew

Let me give you
my whole life and more,
then I will see victory
The heavens will pour

Blessings and love
down on me today,
If only I’ll learn
to trust and obey

Fresh fire Lord,
that’s what I say
I give you my all
come and fill me today.

Jesus replied “Love the Lord
your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with
all your might’…”

Matthew 12:37

Searching for a Car, A House, and God

I first heard this little saying at work one day.  It makes me smile even now as I think about it!  I don’t remember what the problem was but I was sure that there was one.  After explaining it to the other person from another department I realized that it was not a problem at all.  Laughingly this lady said “Oh I see, the problem was the nut behind the wheel eh?”  Now I use this little saying when I find out that I am completely at  fault for whatever problem or perceived problem there is.  I’ll say “It turned out it was just the nut behind the wheel!”  This next situation falls into that category.

I’m not sure if you will laugh at this or if you will admit that you have done the very same thing or both!  I was at the mall yesterday,  left for awhile and returned.  When I left the mall the second time I realized that I had forgotten where I had parked.  This is not the first time this has happened.  Usually I am pretty alert as to which door I walk into especially at this mall.  I have learned from the school of hard knocks or long walks.  Searching a parking lot for a car is not my idea of fun.  This particular mall has many parking lots and they all look the same.  What threw me off this time is that in my mind I was thinking of where I had parked the car the first time.  For five minutes or so I walked through the parking lot looking for my car.  After walking up and down the aisles I suddenly thought that maybe the car wasn’t in this particular lot at all.  Luckily in this case there was another level and another parking lot close by.  You can go into the same store but use different doors in this mall.  These two doors lead to two different parking lots.  After climbing the rocks that led to the upper level parking lot I found my car exactly where I had parked it!

If someone was observing me in this situation they may think I looked like a suspicious character.  After all I was walking up and down every aisle looking at all of the cars as if I were up to something.  I know that Meijer (the mega store) has cameras in the parking lot and they observe the comings and goings of people on a screen inside.  I’ve lost my car in that giant parking lot also.  I wonder if they watched me on camera walking up and down each aisle wondering what I was up to.  I don’t know if the mall has cameras in the parking lot or not.  If they do undoubtedly they saw me looking like a suspicious character.  I can tell you from losing a car that most people going into or coming out of  the store don’t pay attention.  They undoubtedly have their own business in mind and that is probably why security cameras are needed.  Most people are happy to find their own cars and don’t observe what is happening around them.

Where did I park?

I borrowed a leaf blower from a friend one time and I decided after work to return it to them.  It was one of the shorter days in December after they had turned the clocks back for daylight savings.  I had been to their house one time but forgot exactly where it was in the neighborhood.  I didn’t think it would be a problem since I had the address.  However by the time I got to the neighborhood it was pitch black outside.  To my amazement there was not a street light in the whole neighborhood.  I must have passed the house four or five times trying to see any clue of an address.   Once in a while I would see one and have to turn the car around or keep going depending on what the number was.  Too many times the house numbers were just on the houses and they were impossible to see from the car.  So here I was going two miles an hour through a pitch black neighborhood seeming very suspicious I would guess.  At long last I parked the car and started walking down the sidewalk until I was able to follow the addresses and find the house.

It’s awful dark around here!

Luckily for me a resident of the neighborhood didn’t call the police about a suspicious car putting around.  Maybe in that neighborhood they are used to it.  Perhaps I’m just over concerned of how things might look.  From my experiences people don’t seem to be as doubtful of my presence as I fear they might.  Undoubtedly it is the old thing about not wanting to get involved.  I’m sure they wouldn’t react to a suspicious character unless it was effecting them.

One time I was going into D & W (a food store) and I parked right in the front row.  D & W is a smaller store and there is no chance of losing your car there.  After I made my purchase I got into the car.  For some reason I couldn’t turn the key.  Fear set in as I remembered a few years back when the same thing happened.  I got out of work and tried to start my car and the key wouldn’t turn.  I ended up having to call a locksmith and he came out and made me a whole new ignition and key set!  That little episode was kind of pricey and I sat there for a few seconds trying to digest what just happened.  I tried to turn the key again with the same result.  My eyes focused on the passenger seat.  Hey wait a minute this stuff isn’t mine!  I realized that I was not in my car!  Quickly I took my keys and got out.  I looked around but nobody was around or knew what happened.  Thankfully the owner didn’t come out at that moment as I would have looked very guilty.  My eyes glanced over about three spots and there was my car!  Who would have thought that two cars that old would look exactly the same? Naturally when I put the key into the ignition it turned exactly like it should and I scampered out of that lot!

I scampered out of that lot!

You may be searching for something in your life.  Maybe you have walked up and down the aisles and you still can’t find what is missing.  Perhaps  everything seems dark in your search and you don’t know where to turn.  Get out and take a closer look!  God is waiting with the answer to all of your needs!  You have probably tried to turn the key of happiness only to find that it won’t budge because you are not in the right vehicle.  You will find that God is the right vehicle just like I did!  One day years ago I was searching for something too.  Until that day I felt so empty inside.  I was literally searching aimlessly for the answer to what life is about.  I felt guilt within me that was overwhelming.  God put me in a place where I heard his message!  When I confessed my sins that day he  gave me what I was looking for!  Before that I was in the nut behind the wheel syndrome.  The problems in my life were all my fault.  God accepted me as I was  including my faults.  He provided me with a reason to live in a world of gloom.  He can and will do the same for you too because he loves you!  All you have to do is accept him into your life!  When you do that a light will go on in your heart and you will never search in darkness again!

Don’t Burn The House Down!

Years ago an interesting experience happened to my friend Steve. He was in Meijer (a one stop grocery and everything else mega store) when he heard people that were coming into the store saying “There is a car on fire out there!” In his curiosity Steve made his way out of the store to see the spectacle. He noticed the smoke was coming from close to where he parked. Sure enough, it was his car on fire! Steve was very glad that he had taken out full insurance coverage on his car!

There is a car on fire out there!

There is a car on fire out there!

My wife has an uncle who was in the insurance business. We decided to do our house and car insurance through him. We have faithfully paid our premiums through the years like almost everyone else. Very rarely have we had any kind of claim. Personally, I don’t like insurance companies. In almost any city you go to the insurance companies and the banks have the largest buildings. Yet when you think about it, what do they actually do to make revenue? The answer is they take money from you and I and do their advertising and build their buildings with it! They make enormous profits from the gamble that they will take in much more money than they have to dish out. Obviously it is a business and they don’t have to take us on as clients. They are experts on the percentages of risk involved with each of us. When they write up a policy it has to go to the home office for approval. If you and I are good risks (not likely to make a claim) then we are approved! Otherwise they have an option not to take us on as a clients. Obviously my family has proven to be good risks through the years. We are paying out hundreds of times more money than what we have ever claimed.

No instant satisfaction in filling this out

When I’m buying something I like to get instant satisfaction from the purchase. Insurance doesn’t do that for me. Insurance companies take advantage of the fear factor. I have paid for house insurance for almost thirty years now and I may have had one very small claim. Yet each year I get the annual bill. The bill doesn’t stay the same amount either. You would think it would go down as we have such a good record of not claiming. As my house gets older apparently there are more risks. At least that is how the insurance company sees it as they add more premium to my bill. We do get a very small discount because we have a smoke alarm. We know that it works too as a couple of times through the years something got burned in the oven triggering it.

Of all of the insurances you can buy life insurance is the most misunderstood. The first problem is that it really should be called death insurance. Of course nobody really wants to think about it in that way and the insurance companies try to put more of a positive spin on it for marketing. Instead of just selling us straight insurance they also include a “savings program” to add some life to their policies! If you just bought insurance without the “savings program” that is called term insurance. Usually you have to almost hold a gun to the insurance persons head to sell you the term. They are all pushing for the savings program insurance such as whole life, universal life and the like. They will argue that term is not “permanent insurance” and should be avoided. Why do they want to sell the policies with the “savings program” in them? The answer is that the premiums are double and triple the amount of straight term policies. The more the premium the more commission for the salesperson!

The insurance person will argue that at least with the savings program you are getting more than insurance. They will argue the “what if you don’t die?” argument. Of course we all would like to live a long long time and buying just insurance for an early death isn’t real appealing. So we listen to all of the benefits repeated about this wonderful “savings program” within our insurance policy. We are intrigued when they tell us how much the “cash values” will be worth in a certain amount of time.

What the big print and agent says can be taken away with the small print in the policy!

The truth about the “savings program” is that if you die your beneficiary does not get it! Let me say that again they will not get the savings program! The insurance company will argue that the savings program is included because as we get older the actual insurance costs more and needs to be supplemented by the “cash values”. Let me give you an example of how it really works. Let’s say that you buy a whole life policy with a face value of $50,000. Let’s say that the premium you pay is $600.00 a year. Let’s say that you could get a term policy for $200.00. Paying the extra amount is sold to you by the fact that a “savings program” is included in the policy. The person pays on this policy for years and accumulates $10,000 in “cash values” and then they die. You would think the beneficiary would get the $50,000 plus the $10,000 right? Not so, the payment would only be the face amount of the policy $50,000. So what happened to all of the extra money in premiums paid throughout the years? It was quietly swept under the rug. OK lets say the person lives and now wants to take their “savings program” to retire on. Well they can take the savings but that means they are cancelling the policy. Another option that the insurance company will generously point out is that we can borrow the money. After all we can keep the insurance in this fashion. Let me get this straight, I have been overpaying my premiums all of these years and now that I want some of my “cash values” I have to borrow my own money? Remember that $50,000 policy we talked about. Let’s say that the person “borrowed” $10,000 of their cash values and died. The amount of the check to their beneficiary would now be $40,000 ($50,000 – $10,000). In this case it probably would be less than $40,000 as interest is also charged on “the loan”. In conclusion you pay for both but you cannot have both. Either you get the insurance or you get the savings program. If you want your insurance and you would like to get some cash values too you would have to borrow your own money and pay interest on it! If you have to borrow the money is it really your money? What did the insurance company do to get the money for you to borrow? They charged you more for the benefit. It was originally your money but they sneakily put it in their account!

Now before everyone runs out and cashes in their old “cash value” policies for term make sure that you are insurable. As bad as these “cash value” policies are at least they are insurance. Insurance companies deal in risk and they may not want to insure you anymore. However if you are younger and insurable consider cashing in your old cash values policies and buying term insurance. Take that difference and invest it in something that will grow and is outside of your insurance policy. That way it is your money and if you need it you won’t have to borrow it or cancel your insurance.

Don’t burn the house down!

Having said all of that let me say that insurance is necessary. Having some kind of catastrophe happen could be devastating to a family financially. When someones house burns down the first thing observers are likely to say is “I hope they had insurance”. We buy the “peace of mind” that comes when we figure that if anything did happen we would be protected. That peace of mind is very important and it is what keeps the insurance companies in business.

Since the uncle of my wife has retired we were referred to his replacement. We have been paying our premiums and now she is the beneficiary. Every now and then we talk to her if something comes up, but for the most part our dealings with insurance is the yearly and semi annual payments through the mail. I used to tell my son if we were leaving him alone for awhile “don’t burn the house down”. Of course, if that happened his safety would be the only thing that mattered.  The house could be replaced because we continue to pay for our “peace of mind”.

So many of us in our christian walk treat God like our insurance person. With him it is fire insurance he provides that  gives us peace of mind. If we need him he is there. If we don’t need him we just continue paying the premiums and hope that if we have to make a claim he’ll be around. God wants to be so much more of a part of our lives than our fire insurance agent! He wants to walk with us every step of the way as we walk with him! He wants to be our best friend and guide us into all righteousness in our daily lives! What the insurance company can’t and won’t give us God gives us in abundance! For giving our life to him we get so many benefits! We get peace of mind, we get eternal life, we get a heavenly home prepared by our savior, we get a counselor and a friend! Lastly we get fire insurance from the one who loved us so much that he died for us!  There are no fine print items that takes away what the larger print gives in this policy!   It is backed up by the word of God that always speaks the truth!  It is a policy of love from Jesus and it is written and signed with his blood!

A Grizzled Veteran

I was watching an exhibition college basketball game in which my team has eight freshmen this year. An older gentleman in front of me told me a story about one of the players. I missed the first exhibition game which was the very first college game for the eight. Apparently one of the new players was asked to check into the game. In his enthusiasm he bypassed the scorers table and just raced into the game. For those who do not follow basketball protocol new players in a game are required to go to the scorers table. The scorer will then make note of who they are replacing and pencil them into the line up. At a break in the action the scorer sounds the horn and the new player is allowed in. This is typical procedure in leagues from junior high through professional. I’m sure this particular player knew the procedure from his previous experiences but got caught up in the moment and the excitement of his first game. I remember a similar incident years ago. This time when the freshman was called into the game he was on his way to the scorers table. However, in his hurried state as he tried to get up and run over he slipped down face first as his feet apparently got ahead of his body! He scrambled to his feet and made it to the table amid much laughter from the fans.

Along with the ability to actually get to the scorers table and get checked into the game, freshmen are often required to perform next to and against veteran players. I’m sure the veterans on the team shake their heads with a smile as they remember a couple of years back when they were in the same position. It’s not easy for someone who has always been the star of their team to perform in a secondary role. In college everyone on the team was a star. That is why it is so hard for new players to adjust to their new surroundings. Often I see freshmen trying to make passes that may have worked in high school, but have no chance at the college level. What they don’t adjust for at the beginning is that players they are competing against now are bigger, stronger, faster, and can jump higher. In the basketball war everything must be accounted for. There is only so much that the freshmen can be taught. The rest will have to be an adjustment that they make on their own as they seek to fit into their new environment and reach their full potential.

I’ve heard the story so many times in interviews. Although the faces change the interview goes something like this. Interviewer to the veteran player, “You are playing with some young talent this year, What adjustments have you made?” The veteran player answers, “I’m just trying to be someone they can talk to and someone they can ask for help. I went through what they are going through. I want to lead by example, but also to be there for them. I want to be a leader that the coach can depend on to get his message to the young players!”

In January I started on this writing journey. Back in the 1990’s I wrote a christian poem book. It began as I turned to God for help after the tragic loss of my daughter. God in his mercy began giving me beautiful poems that were very helpful to others in their time of need. This went on for a few years before someone mentioned I should put them together in a book! As the years passed I often wondered how God could use those poems in a bigger way? Early this year someone gave me the idea to write on the internet and it seemed like the right thing to do. After all it is the world wide web right? I thought that I would just share the poems, but just as I felt the spirit telling me what to write in the poems, God started leading me in writing other things that can help others as well! It has been over ten months now and I am thankful for people all over the world who have visited my site! I’m so thankful for my new friends who have let me know that what I am doing has been helpful in their walk with God! The encouraging comments received on this site have been more uplifting than you will ever know!

Encouraging others that are trying to be useful in what they feel God wants them to do is very helpful! If someone has impacted your life in a positive way spiritually, make sure you tell them and encourage them to continue! This past month (October) this site had the fewest viewers of any one month since it’s existence. It’s at these times that it is easy to become discouraged. I asked someone who was one of the longest subscribers to this site the other day if he still read the articles? “Oh sometimes”, was his quick reply. “I get so much email that I can’t read everything.” I know in my experience with email I sort what is important to read with what is unimportant. Apparently in this case my site has fallen into the unimportant category. I have to ask myself these questions, Is the site still up to the quality that it has been? Are the articles relevant to everyday life and helpful? The answer to these questions I believe and which is confirmed in my spirit is yes it is!

Branch Rickey (the famous baseball general manager who initiated change throughout his career to make the players better and the game opened to all) stated “I would rather the errors of enthusiasm than the successes of complacency.” What he is saying is the player who is enthusiastic can have that enthusiasm channeled in the right direction! Being enthusiastic they will be more apt to listen to their coaches so they can do the best job possible! When the veteran player smiles at the freshmen, remembering what it was like for them, they also see hope as they see that enthusiasm being channeled for good!

The bigger issue is the complacency problem. As Christians it is easy to fall into this category. Daily life can scramble us until we lose track of our priorities. The veteran player looks at his new teammate and notices he is not listening anymore. The new teammate keeps making the same mistakes over and over. At first it was OK because everyone realizes there is a learning curve. Sooner or later though we are supposed to learn from our mistakes.

This is War!

I stand before you a grizzled veteran. I have been shot and bloodied in this war and I’m still standing! I have seen my daughter and my parents die in combat and I miss them dearly. You have to realize that we are in a war here! The difference between a game and war is that if you make mistakes in a game you lose the game. In a war if you make mistakes you die! We all will die a physical death, but it is the spiritual death that concerns me.

The vision for this site is not only to encourage Christians, but to reach the lost. There needs to be more non threatening places people can go to find what they are missing in life. There has to be more of a reach out effort! I need your help, prayers, and encouragement to keep going to that goal! With God’s help we can do great things! I am speaking to you as a teammate in the fox hole and a grizzled veteran.

This video is about two brothers, a basketball player and a soldier and how their love for each other encourages and makes both stronger!

The Ride

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

The man there at the carnival
gave us all a pass
He said, Ride on my little ride
I won’t make it go too fast

The crowd pushed hard, and I went too
but I wanted to turn back
That ride looked old and rusty,
there were pieces off the track

Oh, Mr. Carnival man, the others yelled,
Turn that lever to the hilt
for this ride will get boring
if it isn’t at full tilt

So we got on that crazy ride
as crowded as could be
there were too many getting on
as even I could see

Mr. Carnival man, I yelled to him,
This ride can hold no more!
But he just sneered and turned away
as he locked my little door

Please let me off this crazy ride!
it’s too crowded here for me
This ride is a death trap
an awful place to be!

He looked my way with hateful eyes
With a mean and raspy voice
he said, You better just shut up,
You know you made the choice

I cried out as I shook that cage,
Somebody save the day!
This ride’s not safe and I want out,
unlock this door I pray!

Out of that crowd one man came
He called out clear and loud,
Whoever wants out of this trap,
I’ll save you all right now

I raised my hand, he pried that door
and I was safely free
Some others got out while they could
but most were mad at me

You’re holding up our death ride
They glared a look of hate
Quit delaying our excitement
Don’t make us have to wait

I saw the lonely desperate looks
in their glaring hate-filled eyes
They were looking for excitement
on that old death trap ride

The carnival man then grabbed the switch,
the ride was in full gear
The people clung on tightly
out of reflex and of fear

The old roller coaster went up the track
then it went straight down
As I had feared, the track just broke
with a thudding, crashing sound

There were bodies lying everywhere,
such a needless tragedy
I wish they would have listened
when their chance came to be free

So I went home and thought a lot
it wouldn’t leave my mind
just how I could have ended up
if that man was not so kind

I went back there the next day,
surely that ride would be torn down
My eyes seemed to deceive me
with the shocking sight I found

A crowd was waiting to get on
with glaring, fearful eyes
Please leave this line, I pleaded,
and I began to cry

I saw the horrible tragedy
that happened yesterday
But most just glared right through me,
They yelled, Get out of the way!

The carnival man yanked on the switch
I heard his laugh so brash
We got some more, he yelled again
Then I heard the sickening crash

He laughed out loud as his workers
cleaned up all the debris
Come one, come all, get on my ride
It’s exciting, and it’s free

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