Sunday, December 7, 2014

The moment a child discovers Christmas

~
They stood on the side of the road, in the dark, waving little hands and shouting. 

Sometimes they sat and sometimes they jumped—but most of the time they stood…waved and shouted.

Sirens blew and horns honked.

Flashing reds and blues chased the night in circular motion.

Whites and greens blinked by the thousands.

We sat near the curb. Though at first, when the flags strolled by, held by those in uniform, we stood. I removed my hat…and the men that stood, did the same. And we clapped, until they passed.

We sat back down—but not the kids.

They waved and jumped and shouted.

Every now and then, one from the streaming and blinking and flashing and blaring would fast step to the shouting and waving and jumping...and toss treat or treasure.

But one was missed, passed by, over looked.

The dancing lights bounced off the sorrow on his cheek as he clung to the leg of his grandmother. “They gave one to them and them and them...” he said. His chin quivered as he pointed to kids on either side of him—they were opening treats that were big and good and yummy. His voice stuttered and broke when he said, “H-how come th-they s-skipped me? I s-said, ‘M-m merry Christmas’"

His mother called and he trotted small steps into her arms. “Christmas is not about getting, it’s about saying…and giving a Merry Christmas.” She wiped a thumb across his sorrow and kissed his head.

He climbed into a lawn chair next to hers and stared wide eyed into the blinking and flashing and blaring.

But then it happened, and all stood still...no sounds, no bells, no whistles blew.

His little hand started then stopped and then raised all the way, his voice small and choppy with one remaining quiver. And through the tears and through the sorrow, he waved a little hand and let out the most beautiful sound, “Merry Christmas!”


And I know it's true, 
because I saw it with my very own eyes, 
a light did shine from his insides, 
and the corners of his mouth did lift,
 a smile that spread from his heart to his lips.

For God so loved the world that through the tears and through the sorrow he stretched out a hand so we could have a most beautiful Merry Christmas
Merry Christmas! 



Friday, November 21, 2014

For we know the heart of a stranger

~
Even good seed planted in the wrong season or soil will spoil.
It's the rule of natural law.

"Scripture tells us that we shall not oppress a stranger, for we know the heart of a stranger—we were strangers once, too," said President Obama in a speech regarding his executive order on immigration amnesty.

It’s encouraging to hear any President reference The Holy Scripture. For on the Holy Bible’s teachings our nation’s constitution has been built.

We appreciate the Biblical comparison to Israel and how God told them to remember that they too, were once foreigners and thus, they should treat the foreigners among them with kindness.

President Obama, we applaud you for referencing the Holy Scripture and pray that you were sincere. If you look deeper you’ll find all the guidance and wisdom you need to show yourself approved a worthy workman holding no shame.

Since you have taken up reference to The Word of God regarding matters of compassion and matters of the law, you may find it helpful to recall the little book of James where we are told, who ever shall keep the whole law and yet offend on one point, he is guilty of all. (James 2:10)

Consider a man who wants to feed and shelter the homeless. That, of course, is noble and just and good. But for him to forcibly take over a cafe and motel to do it defies the spirit of the good he is trying to do.

If someone wants to do that which is noble and just and good, then it must be carried out in a manner that is noble and just and good.

Helping foreigners within our borders is not the problem—breaking the law to do it, is.


 For your reference we’ve attached the following Scripture (James chapter 2). We’re certain you’ll find it appropriate regarding the issues you’re facing.

Let us know if we can be of further assistance…that’s what we the people are for.
~
“My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.
For if there come into your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment,
and ye have respect for him that weareth the grand clothing and say unto him, “Sit thou here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “Stand thou there,” or, “Sit here under my footstool,”
are ye not then partial in yourselves and have become judges with evil thoughts?
Hearken, my beloved brethren: Hath not God chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the Kingdom which He hath promised to those who love Him?
But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you and drag you before the judgment seats?
Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by which ye are called?
If ye fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,” ye do well.
But if ye have respect of persons, ye commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.
10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law and yet offend on one point, he is guilty of all.
11 For He that said, “Do not commit adultery,” said also, “Do not kill.” Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.
12 So speak ye, and so do, as those who shall be judged by the law of liberty.
13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, who hath shown no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.
14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and hath not works? Can faith save him?
15 If a brother or sister be naked and destitute of daily food,
16 and one of you say unto them, “Depart in peace; be ye warmed and filled,” without giving them those things which are needful to the body, what doth it profit?
17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
18 Yea, a man may say, “Thou hast faith, and I have works.” Show me thy faith apart from thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works.
19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well. The devils also believe — and tremble.
20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?
23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which saith, “Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness”; and he was called the friend of God.
24 Ye see then how by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
25 Likewise also, was not Rahab the harlot justified by works when she had received the messengers and had sent them out another way?
26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Men with guns

~
We couldn’t find her. 

She’s only eight and there must’ve been a thousand people milling about.

The kids were sitting in groups, on the ground.

Off to one side men with guns were walking around

One by one the groups of children were corralled to the front.

And the men with guns lined up before them.

No one was scared, no one was worried.

The children performed as they’d been taught.

In front of the men with guns they sang, they marched they saluted, they talked.

None were scared—none were worried.

 The men with guns moved to the side, and they too, performed as they’d been taught. 

They sang, they marched they saluted, they shot.  

Twenty-one shots rang out

And none were scared and none were worried

Taps pierced the crisp blue air

Tears did fall, but none were scared and none were worried.

One by one the names were called.

Some walked with canes and crutches, some were young and fit and some were old and decrepit. But each one made their way to the front in answer to the call…because once upon a time they'd been scared and they'd been worried.

When the applause died down and all went silent, we found her next to a man with a gun.

And no one was scared, no one was worried.

As she shook the man’s hand her words echo from that day to this: 

“Thank you for your service—to keep us from being scared and worried.”





*NOTE: Written in response to report of a Veterans Day ceremony being cancelled by a school administrator claiming students may suffer "uneasiness" at the sight of guns *  What makes me uneasy is the thought of someone firing mental blanks as a school administrator *
~


Friday, November 14, 2014

The United Snakes Of America


When the godly are in authority, the people rejoice. But when the wicked are in power, they groan. (Prov. 29:2)

I hear it first.

Amidst the noise and commotion, I hear the faintest rattle. I’ve heard it enough to know its source.

Memories of its sting jerk my senses alert. My heart starts to race and my stomach to lurch.

I pray and see.

It’s disguised well, but I recognize its slither.

Some may say it’s imagination or ignore it, and it’ll go away.

But I know better.

Once you’ve known the serpent’s sting—it’s something you never forget. 

In a forest of words, I watch him weave through phrases like, Separation of Church and state.

His tail swings words like a hypnotist’s pendulum. Establishment Clause, Equality and Climate Change back and forth, across the page, they flow like a sleepy lullaby.  

And then there are many, as one the whole earth churns and squirms and slithers.

His hissing tongue tickles ears while fangs inject venom disguised as wisdom.

In and out with grace and charm, he traverses the ground, until all traces of that which had gone before…is no more.

He who has ears to hear let him hear.


And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying,

      “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night. “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death. “For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.” (Revelation 12 NASB)
~

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Sometimes the best way to stand is by takin' a knee



Remember the brave young man penalized for taking a knee after scoring a touchdown at a high school football game?
photo: wftv.com

Here's how I imagined it should've gone down:

Mac, the defensive captain, had to bite his tongue to keep from saying something he’d regret when Sam scored. He watched the scoreboard and waited for it to change.

It never moved.

A flag?

The ref grabbed the ball and started pacing back fifteen yards.

“What was the call?” said Mac.

“Delay of game” someone said.

“Unsportsmanlike conduct” said another.

“Huh? How?”

“Because I took a knee,” Sam said as he walked past Mac.

Mac dropped his helmet and followed Sam. “No! No way not like this. I want to win. I’m gonna win. But not like this.” Mac walked in front of Sam and faced him. “This is our game man. You did nothing wrong. Stand strong.”

The ball was set back fifteen yards from the previous plays original line of scrimmage. Mac ran and grabbed the ball. “Huddle up” he hollered and ran the ball back to where he had dropped his helmet, back where the ball should’ve been placed for an extra point attempt.

The players, the refs and the crowd watched; many with their mouths hanging open; some scratched their heads and a few nodded and smiled as their eyes lit up.

Mac yelled at the opposing teams quarterback, “What’re you waiting for? Get over here so I can sack your butt trying for the extra point.” He flipped a thumb over his shoulder toward the goal post and smiled.

Whistles were blowing from every referee.

The quarterback shook his head and jogged toward where Mac had placed the ball. “Lineup” he shouted and his team followed. Without a huddle they got into position. The quarterback shouted as he stood ready directly behind his center, “This is our game. We’re going for it. Hike.” The ball was snapped and the quarterback faked left and flipped the ball to Sam on his right.

Once again in the end zone, Sam closed his eyes, bowed his head and took a knee.

All the flags had already been thrown, and all the whistles had stopped their blowing, because all the refs had run out of air.

As Sam opened his eyes he felt a hand on his shoulder.

It was Mac, extending a hand. “Hey, you done good. Don’t get used to it though, ‘cuz I’ll never let you behind that line again, but for now—good job. Listen, this is more than a game, and we can’t let an agenda steal it. Sometimes the best way to stand is by takin' a knee.”

Sam grabbed Mac’s hand and stood. “Alright man, thanks.” They both looked at the scoreboard.
It hadn’t moved.

“Give me the ball.” A terse voice broke the reverie between the two players. “You boys won’t need it.” The ref smiled and lowered his voice. “’I’m kicking you both out of the game.”

Mac grabbed the ball and tossed it to the red faced ref. “Here ya go. Oh, we need a time-out.” Mac raised his hands signaling a time out as he ran toward his coach. He didn’t have to run far because his coach was half way across the field to meet him.

“Have you lost your mind?” Mac’s coach shouted.

Mac shrugged and listened to his coach rant for a full minute.

“Coach it was the right thing to do and you know it.” Mac looked across the field and noticed Sam getting the same lecture from his coach. Mac motioned for him to join them.

They met in the middle of the field on the fifty yard line.

Both coaches took a deep breath and then started talking at the same time until they both stopped to take a breath.

That’s when Mac interjected, “We’re not playing unless that ref leaves the game.”

“Well that don’t mean squat because you’re not playing anyway” Mac’s coach said.

Sam’s coach pointed at him and said, “That goes for you too.”

Mac folded his arms. “I mean all of us. The whole team.”

Sam said, “Both teams.”

“You’re nuts, both of you” Mac’s coach was upset nervous and at a loss as to what to do… but, down deep in a place he seldom visited, he was never more proud of his player.

About that time a whistle blew. The refs had gathered for a meeting of their own, and then approached where the coaches stood.

Before Mac and Sam headed back to their respective benches to tell their teammates what was going on, they tucked their helmets under their arms, bowed their heads and took a knee. It only lasted a second or two, but the crowd erupted with applause as they stood to their feet.

The cheering rose to a roar on both sides of the field, so loud that the players and the coaches and the refs had to yell to hear each other.

After some heated discussion between coaches and refs a decision was made. The penalty would stand. They would let the players off with just a warning, but any similar behavior would result in immediate rejection from the game.

The referee made his announcement and all went silent.

No one moved.

Mac and Sam had been watching the scoreboard, each from their side of the field.

The scoreboard remained still and silent.

Mac folded his hands and bowed his head. Sam did the same. The players of each team one by one lined up and did the same.

The silence echoed with whispered prayers.

Little by little the stands filled with a wave of hands folded and heads bowed.

Suddenly in the silence a click was heard. And then another and another…Mac’s eyes popped open at the familiar sound. He watched the scoreboard click up six points for the touchdown and two more for the extra point.

The scoreboard operator raised his hands, "I never touched the thing!"

Eventually it got loud. So loud the place shook like thunder. But not at first. It started out quiet, just the sound of one person clapping. The sound came from the field...from a man wearing a zebra striped shirt, a sad smile and a tear. And he was taking a knee.
~
"Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge..." Jesus. (Matt. 10:33)  






(photos courtesy of flickr.com)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Dear God, this is America


 Dear God,

This is America speaking.

I know it’s been awhile. Sorry about that. I’ve been…distracted.

Well, with all that’s going on here lately: ISIS breathing down my neck and Ebola flying in my airspace and who knows who’s crossing my border and moving into my neighborhoods.

You know? Yes, of course You do.

But, I’ve been busy trying to figure it all out. Trying to decide what to do. I haven’t had time to sit back and chat. I can’t just sit around and do nothing—right? I’ve got to fight and plan and prepare and—

How’s that working? Um, well…not so good. The borders leak like a sieve, ISIS and Ebola are growing like weeds. And, if things keep going the way they are, I’m afraid they’ll change my name to, The Divided States Of America.  

God…that’s why I’ve come. Why’d You let this happen?

Huh? Why’d I let this happen? What do mean?  Don’t You know who You’re talking to? This is America speaking. Don’t You remember how many Bibles I’ve printed, how many missionaries I’ve sent, how many hands have raised and knees have bent and heads have bowed? You know this. I’ve done good stuff. Great things.  

What? My righteousness is as filthy rags?

…Oh. I see. Your way. Your love. Your blood. Your Son.

Can I have a do-over, Lord?

That’s why You’ve come?

I have stumbled.

I have yielded to the lust of luxury and have been lulled to complacency.

I have allowed those who rage against You to take root and rule my land—Your land.

I have failed to raise my children to know You.

I’ve stood proud when I should have knelt weak.

I’m helpless against the powers that war against me.

Only You can save.

Only You can stop the sword, cut off the plague, change the heart and save the soul.

Only You.

Help me to never forget. I do not war against ISIS or Ebola or corrupt government powers…but evil. 

Only You can help me overcome. 

Father, this is America kneeling.  



Friday, October 3, 2014

I pledge allegiance to the Lamb

~
I pledge allegiance to the Lamb

He knelt on bloody knees. His hands were folded and his head was bowed. Without a sound his voice reached beyond the clouds.

“Stop that! NO prayer on government property. What makes you think you’re above the law?”

The man raised his head toward the sky. His eyes so clear and so steady…the guard looked too.

All that could be seen through the eyes of man was the filth of a concrete prison.  But, the eyes of Love could see all the way to the gates of heaven.

The guard cursed and spit a black stream of tobacco juice.  “You Christians never learn…well no matter. Your boy’s here.”

“M—my son?” The chains rattled as he struggled to his feet. “Why…now?”

The guard shouted over the clanging of the door as he entered the cell. “Last rights.” He laughed and jerked the man to his feet. “I’ll be glad to get rid of you—that snot nosed kid showing up every day begging and crying to see you was driving me crazy.” He unlocked the shackles and led the man to a small room with a barred window.

 “Dad!”

The man reached through the bars and held his son the best he could. Neither could see the other for the tears.

“Why are you here? What happened? Can you come home?”

The father looked to the heart of his child. “Son, listen. It’s my fault.”

“No, you never did anything wro—"

“That’s just it. I didn’t do anything. I’m here because I did nothing. We did nothing. We were comfortable in our pretty churches and cushioned seats. He warned us, He said we’d have tribulation. He told us to watch. He told us to pray. But we sat quietly and did nothing. And little by little they stole all our rights to worship away.”

“But Dad…they told me it’s not too late.” The young man of eleven years old wiped his eyes and sucked in a deep breath. “They said you could go home if you’d deny Him. They said it’s your choice—life or death.”

The man closed his eyes for a moment and nodded at his son. “Son, remember this. Absolutes exist. The lines may need to be repainted from time to time—but they never move.”

The boy forced into becoming a man much too soon nodded. “I know you think what you’re doing is right, but Dad, they’ll kill you if—”

When it comes to doing right, considering consequences causes confusion.” He smiled at his son. “I choose life.”

The guard leaning against a wall watching the two took a step closer.

“Dad…life? Really?”

“Yes, Son. I choose Life—the kind found on the other side of death.”

“Dad, but…but I’m scared. They said you could come home.”

“I love you Son.” His voice cracked. “Take care of your mom. Pray like I taught you…and Son.  I am going Home.”




~