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June 2013 entries


Choices. We make them everyday. Almost ever minute. I just had to make a choice concerning the subject of this week's blog subject. The first that came to mind was Paula Deen and her recent fall from grace. I realized if I wrote about her that I would be writing, not so much about her, but about the poor choices she has made. However, I realized that if I were to write about Paula, I would make some people mad and others happy based on how I chose to represent her. I chose not to talk about Paula. 

I nearly chose to write about the Supreme Court's rulings on voter's rights and same-sex marriages. But considering the passion some feel about these two subjects, I came to realize that I would not sway anyone with my humble opinions. You would either comment on this blog about how smart or stupid I am. I get that enough. So I chose not to write about the Supreme Court. 

If you really think about it; the choices we make everyday dictate the direction of our lives. Bad choices have caused me to gain weight, lose friends, anger my spouse, and nearly lose my life.

Good choices have blessed me with two great sons, a faithful wife, a fulfilling career, and a reservation in heaven.

I have come to believe that my life is the sum of the choices that I have made. I have also come to realize that bad choices almost always lead to pain. Either to me or someone I love. And good choices inevitably lead to blessings. If you don't believe me ask Lindsey Lohan, Paula Deen, or Jimmy Swaggert.

We have an internal compass to guide us to make good decisions. Those who do not follow Christ have a conscience. Those who do follow Christ have the supernatural assistance of the Holy Spirit Who dwells within them. Either way we have to reject the safeguards God has placed in our lives if we are to make bad choices. Just ask Adam or Eve; or Aaron Hernandez.      


Kerplunk! Goes the iPhone

God is trying my patience. 

Today I decided to work the second half of the day so I could fish in the morning. While fishing my phone rang. I answered and talked to my oldest son for a few minutes.

I took the phone from my ear and attempted to slide the phone back into my cargo shorts. Instead, it slid from my hand and performed a precision half-pike with two revolutions before making a perfect entry into the water. 

God is teaching me patience.

Now I'm without my constant companion; without my connection to my family and friends; separated from my passcodes for all online accounts. I can't connect with my Facebook friends while away fom my laptop. I no longer have my stopwatch or alarm clock in my pocket.

God is building my patience.

No emergencies. No junk email. No push notifications from CNN. No text from the local pizza place. No patting my pockets to check if I misplaced my phone that I can't live without.

It's been nearly seven hours and I'm still functioning.

God has given me rest.    

There was that One Time...

I've got to share a story from a couple I met while in Peru. I sat down with them and asked, "What would you like to share with people back in the states about your life here in Peru?" The couple, in their early fifties I would guess, looked at each other for a moment and the wife replied, "We live pretty simple lives. I don't really know of anything that would be that interesting." I asked again hoping to have them say something that would encourage our people to support another missionary retreat next year, "There's not a single incident you can share with me that you think is out of the ordinary?" "Well, there was that one time when the police tried to kill us. I don't know if that would be of any inetest to anyone."The wife again replied. Really, I said, you were threatened by the police and you don't think anyone wants to know? Tell me.

It seems the couple had gone with a singing group from the little church in the Peruvian mountains to a police headquarters in a major city. They had led one of the police officers to Christ and he had invited them to share with the whole police force. The group had finished with a few gospel songs and the couple had begun to share Jesus with these men when one of the ranking officers stepped in and stopped the service. He was angry and began asking for papers. The missionary told me that was a typical ploy to put people in jail. They could always find something wrong with paperwork.

Sure enough they were all put in a cell. However, during the night they overheard a conversation between the angry officer and one of the other policemen. In Spanish he said to make sure all of the Christians disappeared. That's code for taken out and shot. They immediately began to pray. Somehow, the police officer they had led to Christ learned of the plan to kill his missionary friends. He drove to the chief of police's home and woke him from sleep. This very act jeapordized this man's job. He pleaded with the chief to stop the execution. God moved in the chief's heart through the missionaries prayers and he called the station and stopped the execution just before it was to take place. The couple and the singing group were released before morning and returned to their homes.

"You didn't think people would want to hear that story?", I asked. The missionary couple acted surprised at my question. To them it was just a part of serving God. Weren't the early church members threatened by the authorities? Didn't God come through and protect His people? And when He didn't, wasn't it all in God's divine plan? Sure, but try and tell that to church people in America. How many of us, if we were threatened for our faith, would call our lawyer before we called on God? Who among us would not take the incident as a sign from above that it was time to leave our assignment and move on? If it did happen to us, and we survived, we would most likely write a book rather than think it a story not worth repeating.

Pray for those serving on the field. Visit them if you can. Write to them. The most meaningful thing we did while in Peru, according to the missionaries at our retreat, was deliver them letters from home. Many of them shared that they had spent most of the night reading the letters over and over again. May we grow in our walk with Christ to have half the faith as those who serve Him in foreign lands. I thought I would tell you their story, because they may not think it worthwhile. The next time you are tempted to complain about the length of the sermon, the volume of the praise band, or the temperature of the room, just remember there are faithful believers out there who go to church under threat to their lives. 

Are You Colorblind?

I returned from Peru Friday with a couple dozen of Dallas Bay's week long missionaries. Arriving in Atlanta and riding from the airpot to Chattanooga in a rented bus, I looked at the scenery from a window as it passed swifly in front of me.  Everything looked brighter than before. Especially after getting in my car and driving the few miles from church to my home, it began to dawn on me how much I love where I live. It takes a few days in a different environment for me to be reminded how blessed we are. In Mark Batterson's book, PRIMAL, he recounts a story that illustrates what I'm saying.

A tiny island in the South Pacific was home to only around 300 natives. The island of Pingelap was barely 10 feet above sea level when Typhoon Lengkieki struck in 1775. Only 30 hearty souls survived the storm. 

After the typhoon, a genetic peculiarity evolved. A large percentage of the islands small population was colorblind. Elsewhere in the world 1 in 30,000 people are colorblind. On Pingelap every 12th person since 1775 has been born with colorblindness.

Normal eyesight uses about 7 million cones to distinguish different colors. Normally, a person can recognizes up to 10 million different hues of color. Those with colorblindness have no cones and must rely on lowlight photoreceptors to see, but without color.

The sad irony is that Pingelap is one of the most beautiful places in the world. The foliage, fruit and even the animals pop with color while surrounded by an azure sea. A great number of the island's citizens cannot enjoy its beauty because they are plagued with inability to see color.

What is even sadder is that we who live inthe Tennessee Valley are surrounded by God's beauty, but we are often unaware until we go away. When I come back to my church and my home after a time away I suddenly see what was surrounding me all the while. Wonderful people, beautiful scenery, and evidences of God's wonderful grace. Oh to have sense enough to appreciate it all without having to go away.

"Earth's crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God, But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,,,the rest sit around and pick blackberries." Elizabeth Barrett Browning