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Archive for the category “Out of the Darkness”

Peace In The Storm

We’ve all been through big storms.  The rain comes down hard, the thunder is loud and darkness is all around.  The sun is nowhere to be found and the only light that we see is periodic lightening brightening the sky.  If the electricity is still working we hear news of thunderstorm or tornado warnings.  We may be directed to enter a safe place in our home until the system passes us by.  All of these factors can be very alarming.  Yet I have been through numerous storm warnings in my life and I am sure you have too.  The best way to get through the storms is to get to a safe place, and stay there until the storm passes.  The main thing we must remember is to stay calm because then we can think straight.  We won’t panic and make decisions based on our panic state.  Knowing that we have been through hundreds of storms before and each one went away helps us to live through yet another one.

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In our Christian walk we are going to go through storms.  Nobody said that once we become a Christian storms will automatically pass us by.  The disciples of Jesus were in a boat one time and a sudden storm hit.  All of the sudden they were fearing for their lives.  The waves were beating heavily on the boat and the boat was rocking from side to side.  In the midst of the storm Jesus was in the back room of the boat sleeping.  Scared out of their mind the disciples woke Jesus.  “Jesus”, they said “Don’t you care that we are going to parish?”  Jesus got up and the first thing he did was admonish them.  “Oh ye of little faith”, he said.  Then he commanded the storm to calm and the storm was no more.

It’s interesting the words ye of little faith that he used.  In our daily lives when the storms hit us we tend to panic like the disciples did.  Just like in their case where Jesus was in the boat he is in our boat too if we have asked him into our heart.  With Jesus on board there is no reason to fear no matter how scary the storm is.

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So I ask you this question today.  Do you have little faith or big faith?  Little faith is faith that everything is OK as long as everything is going well.  Big faith is faith that everything is OK no matter what the circumstances are.

When Jesus comes into our hearts he gives us a peace that passes all understanding.  The problem that we have is that we don’t always live in that peace.  We can be like ten of the twelve spies in the Bible who came back and reported that the enemy was too big.  They were looking at the problems instead of the promise.  Isn’t that what we do when we get all upset because all we see is the obstacles?  So how do we keep the peace even through the tough times?  How do we go through the storms with big faith?

We will keep the peace if we are honest with everyone.  We cannot be at peace inside when we are not truthful.  II Corinthians 10 verses 4 and 5 tell us to Cast down imaginations and everything that exalts itself against the knowledge of God.  When we don’t believe that God will get us through a situation aren’t we not casting down these imaginations?  Have you ever heard that 95% of the things we worry about never happen?

When you are in the storm remember who is on the boat with you.  Remember all of the storms that you have been through in the past with his help.  Find the peace that only he can give.  Lean on the Lord and seek his peace above all else.  Remember that whatever you are going through will pass.  After it is over you will have a story to tell.  You see without a test we have no testimony.  The weather in our heart can be sunny and warm even when the storms on the outside are at their worst.  Always remember who is the center of our peace with this saying “No Jesus, No Peace—Know Jesus, Know Peace!”

The Weather of My Heart

by Lewis Hamilton c 1997 From the book “The Gardener and My Garden”

We call the weather line
it’s such a big concern
will rain ruin our weekend
or will the weather turn?

Is there a storm brewing?
It’s very important to me
Turn the TV on right now
and switch to channel three

The weather alert is flashing
there’s a “W” on the screen
The “W” stands for warning
what kind of warning could it be?

We plan our daily activities
from data we have found
wanting to make good decisions
from information that is sound

Do you ignore the weather
that goes on inside?
Is the river of your heart at peace
or is there a high tide?

Are your insides dark and cloudy
and is there always strife
from winds racing out of control
every day of your life?

You can see the forecast on your TV
the screen’s within your eyes
Are they raging from tornado winds
and seas about to rise?

Do you ignore the inside storm
denying that it’s there,
or should you take some action
to show you really care

The Lord saw my stormy inside
and said he’d calm my sea
He’d make my sun shine all the time
his peace he’d give to me

Now my inside weather’s peaceful
although outside it may rain
I’ve discovered who can control
my inside weather vane

I know now just as I’m concerned
what the weather report will be,
It’s more important what the weather is
deep inside of me

For Jesus spoke to my sea that day
He called, Peace be still
There is sunshine every day for me
as I live now in his will

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Let There Be Light

You may be surprised to know that Thomas Edison didn’t invent the light bulb.  Edison came out with his patents in 1878 and 1879 but the light bulb was in the works since 1802.  Many inventors sought to improve the light bulb.  The trick was to make a bulb that would light and also last.  While many attempted this feat through the years it was Edison who came up with just the right combination.  He had to find the right filament and have it vacuumed just right so that it would sustain light.  Edison’s pursuit of making the light bulb work was looked at as strange.  Someone once asked him “Aren’t you discouraged that you tried 1,000 different times to make the light bulb work and each time you failed?”  Edison’s answer was on the contrary.  He found one thousand combinations that didn’t work.  In his mind it was a process of eliminating what wouldn’t work which led him to what would.  So Edison did not create the light bulb but he did create the first one that would shine brightly for a long period of time. Original Edison Bulb

Today we take the light for granted.  We walk into a room and without thinking we turn on the light.  Only when the light does not come on because of an electricity outage or a burnt out bulb do we give it a second thought.  It’s not like it was when the electric light was experienced for the first time.  Can you imagine the first time someone attempted to read a book under their new electric light?  I’ll bet they were used to reading under a kerosene lamp.  You’ve probably seen them in old movies and how the light would flicker.  It had to be just a little better than reading in semi-darkness.  “What a miracle”, they must have thought.

In the same way Edison was a miracle for bringing physical light God wants us to be spiritual light to all we see.  Jesus said in Matthew 5:15-16 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.  We may ask How we can be a light to others? 

I have a friend who stopped to buy gas a couple of weeks ago.  He went into the gas station after pumping his gas to pay.  There was a feeling in his heart that he should talk to the lady behind the counter about Jesus.  Right away doubt started to creep in to his mind.  The lady will probably think I am weird, he thought.  Still he decided to listen to that small voice within him.  He started talking small talk to the lady and then asked her if she liked to talk about spiritual things?  When she commented that she did he went further.  He asked her if she were a Christian?  He got her to talk about what she thought a Christian was and found out that she had not actually asked Jesus into her heart.  He led her in prayer to receive Jesus Christ as her personal savior.  When they finished praying the lady surprised my friend.  He was happy that she came to know Jesus but what she said made him do a double take.  “You are a miracle!”, she exclaimed.   “For the longest time I have been so depressed and down”, she admitted.  “Then you came in and brought light to my life”.  “You are truly a miracle!”  Image result for gas station worker

Like Edison we have something to share with the world.  However our gift is far more valuable than his.  He only made light in a physical sense.  We have the power through Jesus to give people light for their soul.  That lady that my friend talked to is not an isolated case.  There are millions of people out there who do not know Jesus.  The Bible states in 1 John 5 verse 12 “Whoever has the son has life, whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”

I’m afraid that many of us take God’s miracle in our lives for granted.  We have lost our excitement and desire to share our light.  We don’t even think about people living in darkness.  We’re glad that we are in the light and condemn others who aren’t.  God is calling us to be a light in the darkness.  He is calling us to be that miracle that enters someones life and brings hope.  We can only be that miracle if we are connected to the power source and desire to share his light.

When Edison and his team finished the first light bulb he asked a young boy to carry the bulb up the stairs.  The boy was super careful knowing how precious the bulb was.  The boy was too cautious as he climbed the stairs.  As you probably guessed he tripped and dropped the bulb and it tumbled down the steps and smashed.  It took Edison’s team 24 hours to re-make the lighting miracle.  When they finished Edison asked the same boy to take the new bulb upstairs.  That is the kind of forgiveness God has for us.  If we mess up he is always willing to give another chance.  Too often we don’t do anything because we don’t want to take a chance.  In the spiritual realm if we follow the Holy Spirit’s voice we always carry  a bright light.  The light he gives to us shines on forever and instantaneously replenished if we get tripped by the enemy.

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As we begin this new year I challenge you to do something different.  Instead of making New Years resolutions that soon will be broken try this.  Pray every day for an opportunity to spread his light to a dark world.  Look for opportunities and ask God to lead you.  Listen to his still small voice within you.  The Holy Spirit will speak to you if you are willing to take the time to listen. This will feel strange just as Edison was looked at for being strange.  However, if we are persistent we will realize that we are not alone.  The Holy Spirit will be working with us.  Edison’s gift of lighting up a room was rewarding, but God has a reward far greater to those who are willing to shine his light in someone’s inner darkness.  Don’t hide his light, let it shine, let it spread, and become a miracle in someone’s life today!

2 Corinthians 4:6
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Genesis 1:3-4…Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.…

A Missing Light On My Computer

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

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

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

I’m sure that this is dating me but I can tell you that we used to use cameras to take pictures.  I’m not talking about the camera that is part of your I-Phone.  I’m talking about an actual camera.  When we used up all of the pictures on a roll we would take it in to a place to have the pictures developed.  Normally it took a few days before we got to see our pictures.  In the time delay we might have forgotten the pictures that we took.  Sometimes the picture’s we got back were way out of focus or someone’s head accidentally got chopped off.  In the old days that was just too bad but later it was something that we didn’t have to pay for.  The film company would forgive us for our flawed pictures that didn’t come out the way we wanted and didn’t charge us for the bad ones.

"antique & vintage cameras make great decor accessories especially for that well traveled collected look - great way to repurpose old cameras especially paired with old maps & old books (maybe 2 mismatched as a "pair" of bookends)" Carolyn Williams, Antiques Dealer, Atlanta

The problem that we have today is that multiple things are coming at us all of the time.  With social media running rampant and 24 hour news always in our face it is harder for people to stay focused than ever before.  We may not have trouble focusing short term on an upcoming test or plans for dinner but we have a terrible time with long term focusing.  Of course that is where service industries have grown in recent years.  Services like retirement planning, wills, and supplemental insurance try to make us focus on things that may affect us or our families in the future.

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We have lived in our house a long time.  The other day we had a roofing salesperson  come to our door.  It seems that a house across the street had been re-roofed by this company.  They mentioned that new shingles should be put on a house every 20 or 25 years.  Ours were last done 23 years ago.  Yes it is probably time for us to make the plunge and have the work done.  However it is hard to focus on the future. The roof is not leaking and it looks fine.  Re-roofing a house is very expensive.  There used to be a car repair commercial that I have always remembered their little slogan.  Unfortunately for them I have long since forgot the name of the company.  The slogan went like this “You can pay me now, or pay me later.”  It is talking about dealing with a little problem before it turns into a bigger one.  Long ago Benjamin Franklin had a quote that dealt with the same issue.  His quote was “A stitch in time saves nine.”

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We are told to plan for the long term and are encouraged to have a plan for when we are not around anymore.  It is basically a plan for who gets which part of our assets.  It is important to think about these long term situations because life is not guaranteed for any of us.  Yet many people neglect the more important question.  That question is “What happens to us after we die?”  It’s a basic question that has been asked as long as humans have lived on the earth.  With Jesus in our heart’s we don’t have to worry about our long term future.  In fact we can look forward to a time when we are re-united with our loved ones that have went on before.  We can look forward to eternal life and joy unspeakable.  You see Jesus came to earth to take the unknown and make it known.  When we are sorrowful for our sins he throws them out and doesn’t hold us accountable much like the company did for the old photo’s that didn’t turn out!  He tells us to fear not because he is with us!  He gives us the Holy Spirit while we are here to guide and teach us!

Just like we should plan for the future do not neglect the Jesus plan for our eternal future.  With Jesus the plan becomes crystal clear.  The picture is always focused because Jesus has made it that way!  “In my fathers house there are many mansions”, he states in John 14:2.  “If it were not so I wouldn’t have told you”, he continues.  “If I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am there you may be also.”  Jesus has made securing our reservation for eternal life simple.  He has already paid the price for our sins by dying on the cross.  He wants to bring our eternal future into focus.  If you would like to secure your future repeat this simple prayer, believe it in your heart, and receive him in a child like way.

Lord Jesus,

Forgive me of my sins, come into my heart and save me.

I want to live forever with you in heaven.

Thank you for saving me

I give you my life while on this earth.

In your precious and holy name

Amen

 

 

Leaving Me Lonely Still

Have you ever listened to the lyrics of a song and totally related to the singers feelings? Those songs are the deep meaning emotional songs I enjoy so much.  They are the songs that you say “I feel exactly the same way that they do!”  If the emotion is loneliness perhaps I am not quite so lonely.  There is comfort knowing that someone else has the same kind of feelings that I do.  Maybe the song is so powerful that it brings tears to my eyes as the lyrics pierce into my heart.  Neil Diamond had a song he wrote over a long period of time in his hotel room.  The song was named “I Am I Said”, and from it’s popularity it is obvious that he struck a chord as to how countless people feel.  It speaks of a lonely feeling that grips deep inside.

During a lifetime it is perfectly natural to go through seasons of feelings and emotions.  We have all experienced extreme highs and lows if we have lived long enough.  It is normal for us most of the time to live on an even keel with an occasional swing from one end or the other.  There are times when we have extreme emotional highs.  Maybe everything seems to be going our way and the world is a great place.  Sometimes something very good happens that causes such elation it takes days to come off of the mountain.  Sooner or later though we invariably slide off of that peak.  After an emotional high it is not unusual to have a very emotional low.  That was the case for Chris Evert the famous tennis player after she won a major tournament at a young age.  “When I won Wimbledon in 1976,” she recalls, “I beat Evonne Goolagong in three tough sets, went home to an empty hotel room and was depressed an hour after the match.

It’s easy to think that these famous people we see so frequently haven’t a care in the world.  How often do we think “That person really has it made!”  What we fail to realize is that these celebraties are people too.  They have the same problems (and maybe even more) than you and I.  Bad things can happen to them too.  They get depressed just like we do.  Neil Diamond is telling us a story about himself.  It relates to so many people because in some way it is their story too.  For whatever reason he is very unsatisfied and not at peace with himself.  He has lived on that emotional mountain top where everyone has told him how great he is.  Living up there in the adulation of people is such a high that it is addicting.  Something happened that made him reflect on his purpose.  He had tried out for a part as Lenny Bruce the controversial comedian.  He didn’t get the part and for whatever reason he crashed into a funk and his emotions came out in his song “I Am I Said.”

I Am… I Said Lyrics
Neil Diamond

L.A.’s fine, the sun shines most the time
And the feeling is “lay back”
Palm trees grow and rents are low
But you know I keep thinkin’ about
Making my way back

What Neil seems to be saying in his initial wording is that physically he is in a good place.  The sun is shining and he is comfortable.  His financial situation is good and he had economical living.  It doesn’t seem to coincide with his desire to make his way back.

Well I’m New York City born and raised
But nowadays
I’m lost between two shores
L.A.’s fine, but it ain’t home
New York’s home
But it ain’t mine no more

Now we see the true picture.  He is feeling low because he doesn’t feel he has a home.  With all of his fame and fortune he realizes that there is something missing.  He has surrendered a base as a price for his fame. Is this really where the root of his feelings are or is it what he thinks is the problem? It may be something gnawing within him that he hopes will be solved by moving.

“I am”… I said
To no one there
And no one heard at all
Not even the chair

It seems that he states “I am” as a cry out.  He seems to be wondering if anybody really cares that he exists.  Sure there are many people who seem to care but when it gets right down to it he is sitting in his room alone.  How many times have we talked to ourselves in such times?  That is exactly what he is doing and the echoes of his own voice tell him that he is all alone.  The chair seems to represent the people who seem to care so much about him and yet they are only there as a symbol in his mind.

“I am”… I cried “I am”… said I
And I am lost and I can’t
Even say why
Leavin’ me lonely still

I am lost and I can’t even say why can be pretty typical.  Something isn’t right and you know in your spirit that it isn’t and yet you can’t pinpoint the problem.  When you sink into the depth of despair like he did it is hard to find your way out.  It’s hard to solve a problem when you can’t diagnose the problem that you have.

Did you ever read about a frog
Who dreamed of bein’ a king
And then became one
Well except for the names
And a few other changes
If you talk about me
The story’s the same one

Now he is talking about starting out as a nobody and having his wildest dreams come true!  It is the all American dream of fame and riches that he never expected.  The world sees him as happy and content but he has a different story.

But I got an emptiness deep inside
And I’ve tried
But it won’t let me go
And I’m not a man who likes to swear
But I never cared
For the sound of being alone

Even though he had everything in the worlds view that should make him happy he is miserable as he laments about the emptiness deep inside that won’t let him go.  Like all of us there is a little place deep within him that only God can fill.  The Bible talks about this dilemma.   In Mark chapter 8 verse 36 Jesus asks the question “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?”

“I am”… I cried “I am”… said I
And I am lost and I can’t
Even say why
Leavin’ me lonely still

If you can relate to this song like I can you are not alone.  Millions of people throughout the world love this song because it exemplifies so much of their circumstances.  You don’t have to be lonely.  Wherever you are God can be there too!  He loves you and wants to fill that empty space that only he can!  When you are in the deepest darkest cave know that God is waiting to rescue you.  Whether you are rich or poor, famous or unknown he will not leave you lonely still!

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 Little Place

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

There’s a little place in each of us
that only God can fill
Though this seems very simple
it goes fully against our will

We try to fill this little place
wth things that we can see,
with fame or with fortune
but these just won’t fit the need

We place our relationships
into that little place
becoming so dissatisfied
when they blow up in our face

We place our little idols there
be it sports or family
They cannot fill this little place
where only God should be

We force our job where God should be,
maybe that will satisfy
Then when we feel so empty
we know that it’s a lie

We judge the success of others
by nice clothes they wear,
thinking we are far better
when we see their long hair

Sometimes we see other’s worth
by their body size
We see someone overweight
and think they aren’t too wise

We’re good at putting people down
because of their bad sins
When we don’t have God in his place
we’re no better than them

The definition of success
needs to be redefined
We need to look past what is seen
and have a change of mind

It’s not through wealth or fame,
success is only through God’s grace
It doesn’t start from things we see
but how we fill that little place.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy
and peace as you trust in him,
so that you may overflow with hope
by the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

A Different View

Last month marked the anniversary of the first man on the moon.  I remember July 20, 1969.  I was listening to the Detroit Tigers baseball game when suddenly the broadcast was interrupted by breaking news.  At the time I didn’t like the fact that they were interrupting my game to go live to the moon landing.  I can see that my point of view has changed from when I was 12 as far as what was important.  In a way I think some of the astronauts point of view changed too.

I think it is the most amazing picture I have ever seen.  I know that’s a big statement but when you think about the significance of the whole picture it is hard to disagree.  It is pictures of the earth taken by the astronauts as they are on the moon or flying over the moon.

The number of people that have seen this amazing view is very small.  Many of them have made comments about this fantastic view and the aura of how they felt when they were seeing.this remarkable spectacle!

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“It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.”

— Neil Armstrong, Apollo Astronaut

“As we got further and further away, it [the Earth] diminished in size. Finally it shrank to the size of a marble, the most beautiful you can imagine. That beautiful, warm, living object looked so fragile, so delicate, that if you touched it with a finger it would crumble and fall apart. Seeing this has to change a man.”

— James B. Irwin, Apollo Astronaut

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“The view of the Earth from the Moon fascinated me — a small disk, 240,000 miles away. . . . Raging nationalistic interests, famines, wars, pestilence don’t show from that distance.”

— Frank Borman, Commander of Apollo 8

“I think the one overwhelming emotion that we had was when we saw the earth rising in the distance over the lunar landscape . . . . It makes us realize that we all do exist on one small globe. For from 230,000 miles away it really is a small planet.”

— Frank Borman, Commander of Apollo 8

Apollo 11 view of a crescent Earth

“The world itself looks cleaner and so much more beautiful. Maybe we can make it that way—the way God intended it to be—by giving everybody that new perspective from out in space.”

— Roger B Chaffee, NASA Astronaut

“Oddly enough the overriding sensation I got looking at the earth was, my god that little thing is so fragile out there.”

— Mike Collins, Apollo 11 Astronaut

“For the first time in my life I saw the horizon as a curved line. It was accentuated by a thin seam of dark blue light—our atmosphere. Obviously this was not the ocean of air I had been told it was so many times in my life. I was terrified by its fragile appearance.”

— Ulf Merbold, ESA Astronaut

“Suddenly, from behind the rim of the Moon, in long, slow-motion moments of immense majesty, there emerges a sparkling blue and white jewel, a light, delicate sky-blue sphere laced with slowly swirling veils of white, rising gradually like a small pearl in a thick sea of black mystery. It takes more than a moment to fully realize this is Earth . . . home.”

— Edgar Mitchell, Apollo Astronaut

“Now I know why I’m here. Not for a closer look at the moon, but to look back at our home, the Earth.”

— Alfred Worden, Apollo Astronaut

Image result for view of the earth

“Looking outward to the blackness of space, sprinkled with the glory of a universe of lights, I saw majesty—but no welcome. Below was a welcoming planet. There, contained in the thin, moving, incredibly fragile shell of the biosphere is everything that is dear to you, all the human drama and comedy. That’s where life is; that’s were all the good stuff is.”

— Loren Acton, Physicist and Space Shuttle Astronaut

“It’s beyond imagination until you actually get up and see it and experience it and feel it.”

— Willie McCool, Space Shuttle Astronaut

“To fly in space is to see the reality of Earth, alone. The experience changed my life and my attitude toward life itself. I am one of the lucky ones.”

— Roberta Bondar, Neurologist and Space Shuttle Astronaut

“There is perhaps no better a demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world.”

— Carl Sagan, Astronomer

Image result for view of the earth

“Look again at that dot. That’s here, that’s home, that’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there—on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.”

— Carl Sagan, Astronomer

“We came all this way to explore the moon, and the most important thing is that we discovered the earth.”

— William Anders, Apollo Astronaut

We all get so wrapped up in our tiny little world and it is so easy to do.  Like I was with my baseball game at the age of twelve we get tunnel vision on things that are unimportant. Maybe it is time that we get interrupted in our normal thinking!  Taking a trip to the moon would surely do us all good.  Looking back at the earth and realizing that it is small in comparison to the vast universe.  Realizing the beauty of all creation that God has so majestically formed.  With all of the universe and space out there it has to be a mind boggling experience seeing the earth (the most beautiful circle) and knowing that it is home to everything dear!  It surely would take our mind off of our individual problems as we see the big picture of life and our world.  Surely the picture would be forever in our minds and hearts as long as we lived!

3When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
4what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?
5You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.”

Psalms (8:3-5)

Image result for astronauts view of the earth and the stars

The Crazy Place

W.C. Fields said the line “Here’s a quarter kid, go play on the freeway.”  Of course nobody in their right mind would take him up on that offer.  Playing on the freeway would surely mean their demise!  That would be going to “The Crazy Place!”  Hebrews 12:2 talks about how Satan convinced 1/3 of the Angels to rebel with him against God.  Can you imagine how ridiculous that was?  Living with everything you could ever want or need in paradise to rebel against the God of the Universe who created you?  That little rebellion has cost him and one third of the angels their place in paradise and eventually a place in Hell’s damnation for eternity.  They surely took their act to “The Crazy Place.”  So what is the “Crazy Place” I am talking about?  The “Crazy Place” is saying or doing things that you will regret later.  It is so far off of the wall that it is literally ridiculous.

In 1976 the Eagles had a hit song called “Hotel California.”  That song is about checking into a hotel that they thought was normal only to discover how crazy it was.  After discovering how completely weird and abnormal this place was they try to escape only to be told that “you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.”  The song seems to describe Satanism however the Eagles later described it as their way of speaking out about the drugs, sex, and all about me attitude in the music industry.  Either way it is describing “The Crazy Place” that you are better off staying away from.

The Eagle’s song was just a thought in someones imagination unlike a real “The Crazy Place”  that was on the Kansas Prairies around 1872.  It was an Inn where travelers could get a meal and a place to sleep for the night.  Surprisingly it was not on the beaten Osage Trail.  It was well advertised and tired weary travelers pictured a place of rest and comfort.  It was thought to be worth the effort to venture off and find the Inn.  Travelers never suspected “The Crazy Place” implications when they entered.  They were met by a beautiful young woman named Kate Bender.  She would interview them on their destination and if they had family.  If they were alone and seemed to be carrying a lot of money their fate was sealed.  A final factor would be if they would not be missed for awhile if they didn’t make their destination.  You see the Benders which included Kate, her brother, and their parents were in the business of murder.  They had the very definition of “The Crazy Place” and if anyone knew the danger that trip involved they would never go there.  Many travelers ended up buried on the  property as the Benders divided their life savings.

Of course for our own safety we would never intentionally go to “The Crazy Place.”  Yet almost all of us have been there already.  You see “The Crazy Place” is a place you can go verbally as well as physically.  As we all know it can be easy to get into disagreements with somebody.  After all we are all different and sometimes we have different points of view.  Through the disagreement with emotions flying high it is often that someone will say something completely off of the subject.  The words can be hurtful and final. An example occurred on a recent “Hoarders” reality TV show.  A lady had accumulated countless things that were piled up in her house.  It was suggested by a family member and the consultant trying to help the situation that she get rid of part of her accumulation. The lady was appalled.  “Why don’t you just dig my grave and kill me now?”, was her statement.  She was definitely taking the conversation to “The Crazy Place.”  After further digging through her accumulation she was asked to part with other things.  She questioned in exasperation “are you going to get that shovel yet?”

If we tell someone to go to hell, or that we never want to speak to them again, or don’t bother calling me ever again, we are entering “The Crazy Place.”  Those dramatic words used only to hurt bring a sharp end to the conversation.  Those are words we really don’t mean and sooner or later we will regret them.  They are words that we wish we could take back an hour after we say them.  They close the door where the door should always be open.  They block the line of communication which causes hurt feelings.  Use the words of James 1:19 & 20 as your motto.  “But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.  For the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”  It is recommended that we live in peace with each other and live a stress free life.  However there are times that we have all experienced where disagreements happen.  When they do don’t say words that you will regret and that will cause hurt in a moment of anger.  Disagree if you must but please don’t go to “The Crazy Place!”

Praise God I’m In Prison!

Sue was adopted as a baby and had no family that she knew of.  She had nobody in the world except Ron.  They were very happy together and very much in love.  When Ron was originally drafted into the army Sue tried to kill herself.  That’s because she didn’t see how she could survive without Ron around.  Now another crises was upon her.  Ron, who was a lawyer had received orders for Vietnam and Sue was threatening to kill herself again.  Ron was the picture of despair as he met with Chaplain Merllin Carothers.  The first thing Carothers wanted to do was to meet with Sue alone.  Sue’s body was frail as she sat on the edge of the chair trembling.  She was the picture of misery as tears were flowing down her cheeks.  With a voice so soft it was barely audible she began.  “Chaplain, I’m scared; I can’t live without Ron.”  Carothers knew her fear.  Without Ron she would have to stay alone in a rented home in a strange town.  He prayed silently for wisdom to comfort her. Carothers shared with Sue what God had placed on his heart.  Sue began to weep out of control.  Carothers tried to calm her by reading Bible verses to back up his words but nothing seemed to help.  Finally she left the office crying feeling there was no hope.  The next day Ron came into the office.  “What did you tell Sue?”, he demanded.  “She is worse than she was before.”  After Carothers explained what God told him needed to be done Ron stated “Now I understand why Sue didn’t understand.  I don’t understand either!”, and he left.

Many years had passed since Carothers was originally in the army.  In fact back then he would have been the last person around that anyone would have seeked Godly advice from.  From the time that he was twelve and lost his dad suddenly Carothers turned against God.  Although his mom mentioned often how dad was in heaven, Carothers felt that a God of love wouldn’t do them that way.  His mom struggled to raise his two brothers and him and Carothers eventually moved in with some of his dad’s old friends after his mom remarried.  Carothers worked hard as a youth delivering papers well after dark.  He was determined to make his way in the world.  Somehow he felt he had it coming.  He was determined to grab for all he could get.  He went to high school but never quit working.  After school and all summer he worked as a food packer, shipping clerk, linotype operator, and one summer as a lumberjack in Pennsylvania.  He started college but ran out of money and had to go back to work.  That is when he got a job with B&W Steel as a steel chipper and grinder.  It was a very unpleasant job but it kept him in great physical condition.  Part of his solution to staying ahead of the rat race was to be in top shape physically and he didn’t intend on losing out there.    He never intended to be in the army.  His dream was to join the Merchant Marines but to do so he would have to be reclassified 1-A which wasn’t the case at the time because the draft board had given him a deferment to go to college.  While he was waiting to get reclassified the army inducted him.  He was told he could volunteer for the Navy which he did but a freak situation kept him out.  He failed the eye test because by mistake he read the wrong line on the eye chart.

Carothers found himself at Fort McCellan , Alabama in basic training.  Basic training was a breeze for him physically and he impatiently waited for action.  He volunteered for airborne training in Fort Benning, Georgia.  To his dismay and his desire to remain in the background, he was picked on by the commanding officer.  One time he spat on the ground in a sawdust pit and the officer made him pay.  “Pick up that spit with your mouth and carry it out of the area!”    Finally Carothers was given the chance to jump out of an airplane.  The pure excitement and rush from the experience was breathtaking.

paratrooper

He earned the honor of wearing the glistening jump boots as a paratrooper but he wanted more excitement.  He volunteered for advanced training as a demolition expert.  He lived to be in on the war effort and the hotter the better he thought.  After demolition school he was back at Fort Benning waiting to go overseas.  He waited and waited and it drove him crazy.  Patience was not his strong suit and he wondered, with the pace of the army, if he would ever get to do more than scrub pots and pans?  Bored out of his mind it came to a climax one day.  With a friend he decided to go over the hill.  They simply walked away, stole a car and left.  After awhile they ditched the car and stole another one.  They ended up in Pittsburgh, PA in need of money.  Carothers had a plan and it wasn’t good.  He decided to rob a grocery store.  He walked in with his friend waiting in the car and a gun in his pocket.  His plan was to disconnect the phone so the police couldn’t be called.  To his dismay the wire to the phone was insulated in such a way that he could not disconnect it.  Frustrated he walked back to the car and his waiting buddy.  As they were sitting there in the car he felt the harsh feel of metal against his left wrist and a harsh voice in his ear.  “This is the FBI and you are under arrest!”

Carothers was sentenced to six months confinement in the stockade at Fort Benning.  Right away he started campaigning to be sent overseas.  His fellow prisoners laughed saying “you wouldn’t have gone AWOL if you wanted to be shipped overseas”  He kept insisting that the only reason he went AWOL was because he was so bored.  His plea was finally heard and he was told he would be shipped out.  While in the stockade the night before they were to be shipped out he was told that he wouldn’t be among the men going.  “The FBI wants you held and returned to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania”, he was told.  Once again he felt the cold handcuffs as he was returned under guard back to Pittsburgh to face his charges.  “How do you plead guilty or not guilty?”, a stern judge asked him.  “Guilty” was his reply.  When the judge asked for the officers recommendation he said “I recommend leniency.”  I sentence you to five years in the Federal Peneteniary.”  The words hit Carothers like a brick.  Then the judge stated “your sentence is temporarily suspended and you will be returned to the army.”  When Carothers got back to the army he found that he had to serve out his remaining time in the stockade.  After serving four of the six months he was taken out of the prison and told that he was being shipped out.

Carothers was always looking for a way to make fast money.  He became an expert gambler on the ship and made quite a lot of money at the other soldiers expense.  When overseas he also sold on the black market.  He found that he could buy cigarettes from other soldiers and sell them on the black market for extremely high profits.  It was very dangerous dealing in this way  but Carothers didn’t care.  He had one hand on his money and the other on a revolver he carried in his pocket.  The only problem he had was he was paid in military scrip. He stayed up nights trying to figure out how to get this money home.  The military was very strict on making sure soldiers could only ship the amount that they made.  He noticed men lining up getting their scrip converted to money orders.  Each one had an individual company card.  He then noticed one man with many cards who was getting money orders for his entire unit.  That was the answer..if he could somehow get more cards he could convert his scrip into money orders.  He met with the unit finance clerk and told him he needed a lot of cards.  He found out that the clerk would underhandedly sell him cards for $5 each.  Now he was in business as he converted his scrip into money orders.  He also found other ways to beat the system.  Soldiers coming from Berlin were willing to pay $1,000 in scrip for a $100 money order.  He then converted the extra $900 into his own money order.  He soon realized with this scheme that he was on his way to becoming very rich!

Carothers was given the option of attending college while overseas and he took full advantage of it.  He met and ended up marrying a girl in England and things looked very promising.  He was sent back to the states nearly six months before his wife could join him and he could hardly wait for the time they would be together again.  He had plenty of money and to his thinking the future looked bright!  One Sunday evening shortly after he returned home he went to see his grandmother.  Right away he could tell that it was a mistake.  They were going to church that night and wanted Merlin to come with them.  “I can’t”, was his reply.  “My buddy is coming by to pick me up.”  He called everyone he could think of to come and get him.  Unfortunately he couldn’t get anyone to come.  Finally he dragged himself with them to church.  The church service was held in a barn but everyone seemed happy to be there.  As Carothers began trying to follow along and sing from the hymnal he heard a voice.  “What did you say?”, he stated as he turned around.  Nobody was there but a second later he heard the voice again.  “Tonight you must make a decision for me, if not it will be too late.”  In a flash Carothers saw the answer to life.  Yes there was a God and in him was everything one needed to search for.  “Yes God, whatever you want me to do I’ll do.”  Carothers gave his life to God that night.  In the days that followed he had a problem.  He was feeling extreme guilt over all of the money he had accumulated.  He felt he had to get rid of it but how?  He called the army but nobody wanted to take it back.  Finally someone mentioned that he could send it to a conscience fund.  He was able to either destroy the money or send it away.  Once it was all gone he had a peace that came from giving everything to God.

Trust in God

Later Carothers had to report back to the district attorney in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  “You have received a presidential pardon”, he was told.  “You are in good standing with the military and if you ever seek employment in the military you are fully eligible.”  Carothers had to laugh.  I don’t think I’ll ever be needing military employment again he thought.  He did feel a call to become a pastor.  He went to school and into full time study.  His wife joined him and at first didn’t understand his new found faith.  Fortunately his life began to rub off on her and she gave her life to God too.  Carothers was the pastor at a couple of churches after he graduated but a deep feeling came over him.  It was a drawing toward serving as a Chaplain in the military.  His life ran full circle as now he was counseling men like he was not too many years before.

Through the years Carothers studied the Bible and tried to understand the will of God.  He also was seeking the answer of how he could help these young soldiers.  He got off track when he dove into the false spirit world.  He became involved in Hypnosis and would listen to all of the wrong people.  Carothers always had his heart in the right place.  He truly wanted to help the people he was put over and he was open to things he thought would serve that purpose.  It was only in God’s revelation to him that he was following the wrong spirits that he was able to ask for forgiveness and seek God’s way.

It was after this time and a time of real spiritual cleansing that Carothers discovered something in the Bible that he never noticed before.  It was Luke chapter 6 verse 23 and it was Jesus talking.  When you are hungry, when men shall hate you, when they reproach you, when they cast out your name as evil, rejoice in that day and leap for joy.  It was a truth that he had never saw before but it was building!  He read I Thessalonians 5:16-18…”Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing.  In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”  It was out of this truth that Carothers began a new ministry.  He learned to counsel soldiers now better than he ever had before from this one principle.  We are to praise God in every situation.  The truth is that God has allowed whatever is happening in our lives for our good.  Romans 8:28 states that “and we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.”  Carothers discovered that when we are going through something it is God’s will.  Not only are we to be joyful but we are to jump for joy.  It may make little sense but we are called to rejoice.  Through this praise in the most unlikely situations the spirit of God is released to do his purpose in our lives.

jump for joy photo: Jump for joy! 3_people_jumping_beach_sunset.jpg

An officer came into Chaplain Carothers office one day.  “Chaplain, you have to help me.  My wife wants a divorce.  I just got the papers from her lawyer.  I don’t think I can keep on with the officers training program.”  Carothers told him he had the answer to his problem.  “Let’s kneel and pray and thank God that your wife wants a divorce.”  The officer was so shook up that he took the whole rest of the day off.  While in his bunk he prayed “Lord I don’t understand this but I thank you for what happened.”  Over and over he kept saying “Lord, thank you that my wife wants a divorce.”  The next day while he was in the mess hall another officer tapped him on the shoulder.  He had a phone call.  When he picked it up it was his wife crying on the other end.  “Forgive me honey, I don’t want a divorce.”  Over and over people kept coming to Carother’s with their situations.  Some seemed so far gone that nothing could possibly help them.  After each person explained their problem the Chaplain always said “I have the solution to your problem!”  He ended up leading them in prayer and thanking God that their husband was always drunk, or that another had fathered a child, or that one of his men faced a court martial and a dishonorable discharge.  It sounded so strange as I read his prayers of “God, thank you that my husband is a drunk, or thank you that I’m facing a court martial.”  Not everyone followed his advice.  Some just could not justify thanking God for bad things.  Some just couldn’t keep praising God when things seemed so wrong.  Yet the ones who did found that when they took their eyes off of their problem and concentrated on God their problem got a lot smaller!

A few days later Sue and Ron again entered  Chaplain Carothers office.  They were hoping for some new advice but Carothers told them the same.  He asked them if they were willing to pray with him.  They prayed this thankful prayer..”God, Thank you that Ron is going to Vietnam.  Ron prayed “God, I do thank you.  I turn Sue over to you.  She is yours and I’ll trust that you will take care of her.”   They went over the scriptures again about how it all works out for our good.  About how it is the will of God.  Finally they were able to accept the decision and rejoice that it was Gods will.

A few days after Sue and Ron had prayed with Chaplain Carothers Sue was waiting to see him again.  A young soldier sat down waiting for an appointment and they started a conversation.  As the conversation went on the young soldier was showing pictures of his family.  He showed his wife and kids and Sue noticed another picture in his wallet.  “Who is that?”, she wondered.  “That is my mother”, the soldier answered.  “That’s my mother!”, Sue cried out!  Years ago Sue saw that picture of her mother and never forgot it.  It turned out she was right!  She had found a brother and a new family!

As Ron walked back to his unit he ran into an old friend from law school who was now a legal officer.  “Where are you going?”, his old friend wondered.  “Praise God, I’m going to Vietnam”, was Ron’s reply.  They talked some more and the old friend persuaded Ron to ask for a transfer so that they could work together.  In the end Ron didn’t go to Vietnam and Sue and Ron didn’t have to be separated!

The book Merlin Carothers wrote is called “Prison to Praise.”  Although Carothers found himself in a physical prison his story is much more.  You see we all find ourselves in prison.  Usually our prison is within ourselves.  It is situations that we don’t have the answer for.  Sometimes the prison walls seem to be crashing down on us.  As Carothers would say “I have the answer to your problem!”  Once we pray that prayer of thankfulness for the problem the view changes.  Instead of thinking of our dilemma we now are thinking about the total picture.  We are to rejoice and leap for joy knowing that we are in the perfect will of God!

The Proving Of My Faith

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

It’s easy to praise the Lord
when I’m on a mountain high
or I’m soaring in the air
up where the eagles fly

It’s easy to praise him
when life is going right
and it doesn’t seem the devil
is putting up a fight

But what will I do when troubles come
and I’m not feeling the power?
Will I cling to my faith in him
when I’m in my trying hour?

When I reach my lowest depth
will I take time to pray
or will I lose my grip on faith
and let it slip away?

Unproven faith is not faith at all,
this truth of faith I’ve found
The proving of my faith comes only
when I’m on my lowest ground.

Therefore, among God’s churches we
boast about your perseverance and
faith in all the persecutions and trials
you are enduring.

II Thessalonians 1:4

 

No Experience Needed!

I remember the puzzlement of going to job interviews fresh from getting a degree and entering the job world.  Inevitably the question would arise “Well what kind of experience do you have?”  In the world of today that wrong has been corrected.  Students are required or it is recommended that they have some kind of internship that answers that question.  At the time I was forced to answer that while I didn’t have the work experience they may be looking for I did have the Knowledge that an education provided.  Most of the time the hardened professionals had only one type of candidate they wanted to hire.  It would be the candidate that already had years of experience who just happened to fall in their laps.  A college kid with fresh ideas but no work experience was the last person they wanted in their don’t rock the boat world.

Interview

Saying all of that, sometimes I notice job ads today that actually state “No Experience Necessary.”  Almost every time I’ve found that these jobs are ones nobody wants like selling vacuum cleaners or being a telemarketer.  Of course you don’t need experience they figure because if you were experienced you wouldn’t want that job or they couldn’t teach you their five step technique of reading lines as soon as the phone is answered.  Being on the other end many times, as I’m sure you have been also,  you might get the hello in before the reading begins.  Only by interrupting the caller and appearing rude are you able to have an intelligent conversation.

It strikes me strange that either we don’t want the person with no work experience or we will hire anyone who is breathing.  In the first case it always seemed like a catch 22.  How can I get experience if nobody will hire me?  In the second case it borders on ridiculous.  If nobody is disqualified where is the uniqueness that  separates my talent from other people applying?  Somewhere along the line it seems there should be a happy medium.

I don’t have a modern navigational tool in my car and every now and then using Mapquest on a trip something goes wrong.  Perhaps an exit is missed or the directions seem unclear.  I am not like some guys people joke about.  “He won’t admit he doesn’t know where he is going, so we drive around until we are completely lost.”  The minute I realize I don’t know what I’m supposed to do I have an eye out for a nearby gas station or business.

Let's stop and ask someone

Let’s stop and ask someone

Of course I check out the persons credentials right?  Sir, before I ask you directions do you have references?  Do you have a few years experience giving out directions?  Have you had complaints about the directions you gave?  Have you lived in the area for over ten years?  How does working at this gas station qualify you to give me directions?  Of course I don’t ask any of these questions.  One question I usually ask is “Are you familiar with this area?”  Normally if the person works there they are, but asking someone pumping gas or someone walking can get the dreaded “no, I am not from around here.”  Those are the times I search for a different candidate.

There is something about getting information face to face.  I like to see their face and their reactions.  Sometimes it can be lighthearted.  “I have gotten completely turned around”, I might offer, “can you help me?”  With that kind of approach I can get a good feel for the person.  Usually I can see in their demeanor that they are willing to help.  They may even smile and ask “How can I help you?”  Sometimes I may be further off of the path I should be on.  I’ve found that the best direction givers are good map drawers too!  It isn’t good enough to tell me to make three lefts and four rights because I get back to the car and I’m thinking “did she say three or four rights?”  I have a friend who used to give me directions on the phone to one of the ball fields we would probably never see again.  After listening and trying to remember his directions he would then say “or you could go this way”, and he would give me a whole set of other directions.  After all of that explaining I was more confused than when he started.  The map drawer on the other hand gives you one direction.  Here you are they pinpoint you on their map.  Then they draw the roads and the traffic lights.  When I leave I have a map and memory of the directions they gave and I’m all set!

I like that person to person contact when getting directions.  I feel like that I can sense if the person really knows and is sincere.  I don’t think I have ever had a person deliberately give me the wrong directions.  I may have misunderstood them a time or two and had to ask someone else along the way, but I never felt it was a deliberate unkind act.  The same thing cannot be said about opinions on the internet.  The internet is very impersonal.   You don’t have to have any qualifications to put an opinion out there.  Maybe you have a little rash on your arm or something and it concerns you enough to check symptoms on the internet.  I’m amazed that invariably someone will write something so bad that you will think you are dying.  I don’t know what thrill they get out of this mind game.  I’m sure that they are the cause of much worry and despair because many people take opinions of others very seriously.  Reading something like that, we can forget about the source.  Many times we don’t ask for qualifications, we just accept what they said as fact.

We recently got back from a vacation to Myrtle Beach.  As a kid I remember making long trips with my family where we would only stop to use the restroom.  When we go on trips I try to spread out the traveling so that the trip is much more enjoyable.  I’ll divide up the driving (usually more on the first day) and look for a hotel on the path to our destination.  On this last trip we used two stops each way.  Usually choosing a hotel revolves around which town I choose to stay in based on the proximity to the highway and the distance traveled.  Invariably while choosing candidates I will read the reviews of the hotels.  Almost every time there will be some people who rate the hotel very high, some in the middle and a few at the very bottom.  On our recent trip I had no problems with any of the hotels that we stayed in.  Each one had their own uniqueness and strong points.  One for instance didn’t serve breakfast but had by far the lowest price.  It was clean and nice and the bed was very comfortable.  The TV was antique in the world today (not a flat screen), but it could swivel so you could turn it toward you. The room was more like a suite with different areas giving it a feel of more than one room.  The other three were higher priced but did offer a breakfast.  One of the breakfasts was about average, and the other two were super nice!  All of the beds in everywhere we stayed were very comfortable and all of the rooms seemed very clean!  After experiencing each room I would give them all strong passing grades!

From my experience it was very clean with a great breakfast

From my experience it was very clean with a great breakfast

If I relied totally on the internet I’m not sure which hotels I would have wanted to stay in.  The very first one for instance had in my opinion a very comfortable bed, nice TV, and the best breakfast money can buy!  The breakfast at this place was incredible and it left a lasting impression with me!  I read many reviews and almost every one mentioned how great the breakfast was.  Then there was one oddball reviewer that went totally in the other direction.  All of the review was written in capital letters and this is what it said.  NEVER EVER, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, STAY AT THIS HOTEL, FILTHIEST, NASTIEST HOTEL I’VE EVER STAYED IN.  This was 100% the opposite of my experience in this hotel and it made me wonder.  I wonder how 90% of the people had fantastic stays and others may have nitpicked a few things, but this person gave such a completely negative review?  Then the thought occurred to me…maybe this person didn’t stay in the hotel at all.  There were no qualifications to the review he left.  It didn’t say what dates he was there and nobody could go back and get the related data.  Maybe for some reason he had something against the hotel or maybe he just enjoyed sniping websites and throwing something bad into the mix.  Perhaps this is the mentality of people who invent viruses that take down major computer systems.  They may see the damages they have caused as just being clever and funny.

Andrae Crouch

Throughout history people have badmouthed Christianity.  Many have tried to make it as unappealing as possible.  They have led many astray because their opinions have been taken to heart.  For those out there that have not made a decision for Christ based on what someone else thinks I have this question…What are their qualifications?  Have they ever experienced Salvation?  Have they ever known the love of Jesus Christ in their own heart?  I would hazard a guess that the answer to both of those questions is no.  Quit listening to people not experienced in the topic.  When seeking help experience is important and  necessary!  Once you have experienced God’s love in your life you will agree with Andrae Crouch and his lyrics to his “I Didn’t Think It Could Be” song!  “I didn’t think it could be until it happened to me and you’ll never know that it’s true until it happens to you!”

 

 

Gathering Strength After The Devastation!

It’s been over twelve years now but I can remember the day so vividly.  It was a normal work day but it would soon be very different.  The date was September 11, 2001.  I was at my computer when my boss came in with the news.  Apparently a plane hit one of the world trade center towers.  Although we thought it was a tragedy it never occurred to us that it was on purpose.  We heard that the stock market had taken a sudden dive downward.  A TV was brought into the office and we watched the building burning.  While there was still speculation as to what happened another plane hit the second tower.  Everyone was in shock around me and no more work got done that day.  President Bush made a statement in response to the terrorist attack and everyone was feeling sad and confused.  We were told officially to go home and we all left in a state of shock!  I remember the hollow feeling as I just couldn’t believe this had happened.  That night I remember watching local prayer services of all different religions.  It was as if we had been sent a message and it had stripped our human pride down to it’s bare levels.  It was like OK God you win, we have nothing else to hold on to.  We have been broken down and we desire to draw close to you.

Nine-Eleven

At first security was on high alert.  There was special efforts made to make sure nobody brought anything that could be made into a weapon onto an airplane.  I remember going to a football game the following Saturday when we played the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.  I have never seen anything like what we went through that day.  Ladies were told to empty their purses and anything not approved was kept by security.  Maybe it was an over reaction as hundreds of games were played before on that field without such measures.  Then again maybe it was viewed as a different world than what it ever was before.  I suppose the price of our freedom at that point was in fact making sure that we were not the enemy.  I am amazed that although 9/11 is a part of all that lived through those days, we have learned to move on.  We were stunned, but didn’t stay that way.  We went into action to fight terrorism.  We were hurt but not knocked out.  We were down but not out as we proved how resilient we really are!

It’s hard to measure shock but I believe that shock comes to individuals every day.  The fact that everyone isn’t effected like that September 11th day makes individual shocks fly under the radar.  Yet they are just as real as that airplane crashing into the tower.  Recently a member of my family got a bad diagnosis from the doctor.  That kind of diagnosis is just like the shock of 9/11 because it is impacting their life in such a devastating way.  Most of us are not seeing this proverbial destructive plane but it’s impact is hitting a life just the same.  Those close to our loved one are just as concerned as relatives of the 9/11 missing were.

I have a friend who used to work in my building.  After she got a different job we would still sometimes talk on face book.  I was shocked when I read a post she made stating that it was day 3 in the hospital and that her doctors were fantastic.  I asked her to write and tell me what was wrong but I heard nothing.  A couple of weeks later I found out from her sister that she was in dire straights.  Her liver wasn’t working and the doctors were frantically trying to find out why.  In the next day or two the news kept getting worse. I found out that she was not responsive for three days.  Then on a Friday it got worse if that were possible.  She was put on life support and we were praying for a miracle.  I was in contact with her sister but I prayed I wouldn’t hear anything else.  I figured that no news was good news.  Out of the total darkness a little light came in the form of a post on face book by her sister.  It said that she is being flown to a different hospital and she gave the name.  All of the sudden from total darkness a little light was shining.  If they didn’t think there was hope why would they fly her somewhere else?  It was like a candle in the darkness but it was there!  Our spirits picked up and a work  friend said words that sounded like a prophet.  In fact I believe that it was a prophesy.  You see my sick friend wants to write a book someday of her experiences.  She has had many that would glorify God not including this one.  Well my work friend stated out of the blue “she is going to live and write that book!”  The words were so powerful at that particular moment that the candle of faith seemed to glow a little brighter!

In the days after 9/11 I remember our country seemed completely together.  Usually we hear arguments on policies and decision making and all of that.  In those days following 9/11 it felt like we were all on the same team!  I guess it is like the idea that I may talk bad about our country much like a brother might get annoyed with his sibling, but it is fighting words if an outsider pushes him around.

Flag

In thinking about 9/11 and the days that followed.  I believe there are steps that we as a country took that helped us heal.  The first step was  total shock as the event happened.  There was a time of sorrow as the news got worse.  It was like getting stunned by a punch to the gut and wondering if we would ever breath again? As time passed we realized that the world did not end.  We  are still breathing and we clung to any inspiration we heard.  One of the ones that has helped me in devastating times is “If it don’t kill you it will make you better!”

Once the shock has lessened the second step comes into play.  The second step is to take the first step of action that will help you recover from the devastation.  For example if you are diagnosed with a terrible disease at first you are shocked and stunned.  After awhile the human spirit takes over.  OK so it is what it is, now what can be done?   That is the survival spirit that God puts into us!  I have a picture in my mind of a basketball player going up for a rebound and claiming it before he gets bumped a couple of times and loses his balance.  He doesn’t fall but he clearly isn’t in a position to go up with his shot.  However what usually happens is he takes some time and rights himself, regains his footing, gets his bearings, and plans his attack.  At the precise given moment with his feet now solidly planted he pushes back up with a strong jump and puts the ball in the basket!

My friend in the hospital still has up and down days but is slowly recovering!  They have moved her from Intensive Care to a regular room!  My beloved family member will get her consultation with a doctor soon.  Prayers have been made and will continue!  The dark room of not knowing will be replaced by a little light.  That light is the hope that we have and the faith that we need.  At the moment she has been stunned and shaken.  In time with Gods help she will gain her balance, get her feet together and go up strong with her eyes on the light of faith that is within her!

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