Tuesday, June 9, 2015

How prayer works...through the eyes of a child

A sleepy giddy grin crossed his lips as he thought about prayer.
He wondered how it worked. How could God hear him…and someone else a mega-jillion miles away on the other side of the world—all at the same time?
Maybe it’s like a cell phone. 
Prayer is calling God’s cell phone number.
No, that wouldn’t work…‘cuz what if a bunch of folks called at the same time? God doesn’t have busy signals or answering machines.
The Sunday School teacher had said, God is everywhere.
Maybe…God’s like air. Air is all over the place—God is all over the place. You can’t see air—you can’t see God. Yeah, that’s it...God's like air.
And somebody…maybe the preacher, or mom or dad or maybe even sister acting like a teacher, one of them said, God will live inside a person, if He’s invited.
Well, that’s like air, too, because air goes inside a person when they take a breath. 
He took a deep breath and smiled.
Yep. God is all over the place like air. That’s why He can hear everybody when they pray.  
Air is good…it makes sailboats go.
But, what about underwater, where there’s no air?
Maybe that’s why God made it so people can’t talk underwater.
He giggled and then his stomach growled at the smell of pancakes. 
Maybe prayers are like smells… 
Does God smell prayers? He wrinkled his nose. 
I don’t know how He does it—just glad He does.
He hopped out of bed and followed his nose down the steps...
As he passed through the foyer he glanced toward the picture of Jesus and whispered, “Thanks.”
And deep inside his heart he knew, beyond the shadow of a doubt—God heard him.  
(pg 147-148 The Voice)

"Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
(Luke 18:17 ESV) 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Sadie's thanks

It came out of the clear blue.

My wife, Roxy, told me to go to Facebook and see what she wrote.

It’s been over a day and I still haven’t been able to reply. The lump in my throat and tears in my eyes make my mind go numb and no words will come.

Because this is big. Better than my book being a New York Times Best Seller.

So here, in this space, little by little I’ve pecked away. One letter at a time—deleting most, and keeping 
some—to try and say, what I’m feeling today.

Thanks, won’t cut it. It’s too small.

Because, accomplishments measured by ladders climbed or medals won or letters tacked to the back of a name don’t matter at all, when placed side by side to something like this.

But to know, that going for a bike ride, untangling a fishing line, sitting on the sidewalk and drawing with chalk…or doing nothing at all, but spending time, are the things that make a difference—the things that stand tall.

I’m overwhelmed.

Sad for all the times I missed.

Humbled that God allows the honor of this.

The thing is…the great things, the eternal things, the important things, are the things, we all can do.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Adjuster’s Life—it's more than that

It’s not for everybody
That’s true
Staying up late
Getting up early
One eye on the weather channel
One hand on the suitcase handle
Always ready to go
Cuz you never know
When or
Or for how long
You just know, you gotta go
Like a cowboy's call to a rodeo
Or a Fireman’s call to smoke

You don’t do it for the money…
Well, some do.
But a real adjuster knows
It’s really more than that.
It’s being there when the smoke clears to offer a ray of hope
Shaking hands
Hugging necks
Saying prayers
With and for
Those who survived
And all the things they call natural disasters…even though there’s nothing natural about a person’s world being turned upside down.

The unseen destruction above every policy limit, is the stress and worry and fear that blows stronger than any storm that ever blew them in.

It’s more than a paycheck—more than just a job.
It’s a rescue mission.
It’s a people business.

It’s saving the message
From the man who called
Months after the storm—so long you’d all but forgotten.
How you stood in his ram-shackled kitchen

His heart broken beyond what writing an estimate could repair.
Surrounded by color crayon pictures his daughter had drawn
His quivering voice echoed off walls once filled with laughter, back before the storm, back when that broken down house was a home…back before dark clouds settled and sent mother and child running from it all.

You remember how he walked down the hall and tenderly touched the pictures of his wife and daughter.
How he told of spending every Christmas together, in that house.
How he didn’t think he could handle spending one alone.
He said, thanks, when you told him everything would be okay.
He wiped his eyes and couldn’t speak when you told him you’d pray.

And then, months after it all

He called.

He’d saved your number. Remembered your name. The money was spent. The repairs were made.

But that wasn’t the reason for his call.

His voice held that same quiver, but this time it wasn’t sad. He laughed as he said his wife and daughter were back home and he just wanted to say thanks, because after that day in the kitchen when you offered a kind word, and told him everything would be okay.It changed his life, his heart, gave him hope.

Because, it could’ve been different.
It wasn’t what he’d planned.

The revolver was loaded and sat in the drawer of the night stand. But you offered more than just help with the restoration of a house—you offered hope for the restoration of a home.

So now, every now and then, when the days get long and the nights get short, and it seems every person in the world has turned to greed. You click through the messages and find the one you need. The smile in your heart returns, and you remember the reason why you do what you do, when you hear that shaky voice say,

“I just want to say thanks Mr. Doug…it’s gonna be a great Christmas after all.”

(first posted at Cat Adjuster Stuff )

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

She asked God how to get to heaven, and He said...

“You wanna hear my dream, Papa?”


“Well, I dreamed I asked God, how to get to heaven.”

Her eyes got real big and she pulled in a deep breath. “And He said, ‘Make yourself into a cross.’ ”

She went from sitting to standing on her chair. “So I went like this—” she held her arms out straight by her side and stood as tall as she could and closed her eyes—“and I flew straight up into heaven.”

Then, my eyes got real big.

“And I saw a really, really big house.” Her smile grew wide and her voice went soft… “And I saw Jesus.”

She told us more. I just don’t remember what it was. She kept talking but my heart was stuck back on that precious smile and the way her voice went soft when she uttered the words…“And I saw Jesus.”  

Even now, as I write these words, I feel Something. Maybe you do too, as you read. Like a chill…but not a scary-like chill, but an excited one. Like the atmosphere being charged…with HIS presence.

Like the Creator of all the universe, The Savior, The Answer, The Way, The Truth, The Life, The Answer to all my problems, The Cure to all my ills, The One who loves me like no other, like Jesus The Christ…just walked in the room.

Or maybe, like He's already here, just waiting for me to notice.

Is. Always. Right. Here.
 And, I’ll see Jesus.

Out of the countless hours I’ve studied His Word, out of the thousands of sermons I’ve heard preached…the best, I think, have come from the heart of a child.

Thanks for the visit,

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

...not forgotten

The Facebook post asked folks to write their pastor’s name in the comments section as a way of honoring them. A long list of names followed.  
I noticed a name. It was simple. Four letters made up the first name and eight the last. The simple name may have meant nothing to the world, but it meant the world to someone. Someone had been remembered…not forgotten.
I recognized the person who had placed the twelve simple letters in the comments section. It was a long time ago, but once upon a time we were friends. I hadn’t seen him in over a decade. I didn’t know if we were still friends. I thought perhaps, well, actually I thought, probably, I’d be the last person, he’d call a friend.
I still remember the day we met. The first words I ever spoke to him were, “God hasn’t forgotten you.”
I was in town to start a church. I had no idea what I was doing. The church came together by the grace of God, and just when I was realizing my dreams, my life came undone…and I walked away. I can’t forgive myself for this—how could anyone?
But there it was. His name in blue next to another name, the name of someone he wanted to honor.  
The twelve little black letters stood out like a beacon amidst an ocean of letters swirling and swimming around the screen. I wondered why. I wondered how. I thought perhaps it was a mistake, or worse…a joke.
I tasted the trace of wet and salt.
I swallowed regret and sorrow.
My past, like a dagger pierced.
How could he place my name there, in that spot?
A spot reserved for honor.
Not me.

Lord, was he trying to be funny? Or mock? I hope not, but if so, it’s something I deserve… and more.
A captain abandoning his ship should be banished never to sail again, unless of course it’s to taste the sea one more time…by walking the plank.
And so deserve I, for such as I have done.
But it was a long time ago. What’s done is done.
I just can’t let it go. I can forgive everyone, anyone, but me. No, not me.
Isn’t Christ blood for everyone? Are you so great a sinner that His blood won’t reach far enough or deep enough to cover? Surely you can’t say He died for everyone but you.
Oh, what a wretched man am I, who shall deliver me from this body of death?
Jesus Christ, that’s who. And it is already done.

I looked again, and it was still there. My name in the place where it shouldn’t be…the place reserved to honor.
I worked up my nerve, and left two words, in a message to my friend. “...not forgotten”
“Nope” came the quick reply. I could almost hear his Texas drawl as I read the word.
I couldn’t figure out what to say next, until finally I simply wrote, “pastor?”
His reply came back almost as soon as my question was sent. “You can never repent the call, even if you're not in the pulpit you are ministering in another way....”
Suddenly I stopped thinking of me, and thought about him. I remembered how he filled in to preach. How he stepped up and gave his all to the work of the ministry…I wondered if he too, in his own way, had walked away. “Who are we talking about here?” I replied.
“I guess us.... Lol”
 And that was that.
Although his words were light and few, he helped remove a weight I’d carried far too long.   
There must be, I think, a special place in heaven for those few quiet souls who plant seeds of encouragement into someone’s Garden of Gethsemane.
And I pray that the day my friend typed my name on a Facebook page, his name was written on an Encouragers Crown waiting for him in heaven some day.

And one thing I know for sure and certain, neither you, nor I, neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
and no matter who we are, what we’ve done or where we’ve been we are…not forgotten.   


This post is a part of a series of stories shared over at The High Calling. This week you will find a community of wordsmiths sharing stories of living out faith in the line of fire.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Setting sail

The inner urging undeniable.
And so…
I climbed aboard.
Man’s lights, blinked and blurred through the misty morning, but I lifted my eyes toward the foggy black sky…and searched for His.
“Set sail.”
She didn’t rock to waves under her bow, filling her sails, pulling her out to sea.
His Voice was clear.  
I sat in the dark—that deep dark that stretches minutes into hours just before dawn—and yearned for Light.  
She didn’t pull against ropes lashed to mooring balls floating in port.
 “From here.”
The black started to fade.
Set sail…from here?
Light splashed the eastern horizon.
I crawled over the stern, and stepped out of the boat.
She didn’t move.
My foot didn’t sink or slip.
She sat silent and still, on her trailer, in the driveway, under the carport…
His Voice was clear.
“Set sail from here.”
Her identification tag read Newport. Her name read Intercessor.
The sun peaked over the horizon, and smiled.
The Son, peaked my understanding, and smiled.
 I felt the wind in my sails, and smiled.
Intercessory prayer is like setting sail from a new port every morning.

See the rainbow at top of mast? God smiling.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Hitting red lights is a gift—really

I hit one red light after another. It used to make me crazy, now I just shake my head and say, “It’s a gift.”
Who am I kidding?
My knuckles still turn white on the steering wheel when the light goes from green to yellow and then red.
I was in a hurry. On days like that—I’m doubly blessed.
But, I tried to do the honorable thing. I tried to say a little prayer while I sat and waited for the light to turn green.  
“Thank you God for Your perfect timing” I said through a frustrated breath. I even tried to imagine Him slowing me down, so I’d be in tune with His perfect timing.
And then, believe it or not—this is getting ridiculous—I pulled to a stop sign. Not a light, a stop sign. A simple red sign, on a back street, that has no traffic, ever…until I show up.
As my gift would have it, as soon as I pulled up, to the simple red octagon sign on a quiet back street where nobody ever drives…a road grader that looked like it had been gathering dust on the side of the road for a hundred years, started rolling backward, right into the intersection and then, it turned toward me.
He was picking up speed and didn’t show any signs of slowing down or seeing me. I flipped into reverse and backed up so he didn’t flatten me. Another worker wearing a yellow hardhat, jumped from a white pickup with yellow lights on top. He ran behind the road grader waving his clipboard.
The backing beeping machine slowed to a stop and the back-up lights went out and it eased ahead.
I released the breath I’d been holding.
I drove away shaking my head. “Thank you God, for Your perfect timing.”
After sitting through every.single.red.light. and slamming into reverse once to prevent getting run over from a road grader with road rage, we finally made it to the Florida Hospital. My favorite hospital. The one with Bible verses painted on the walls. Over the main entrance painted big and bold for all the world to see are the words:  EXTENDING THE HEALING MINISTRY OF CHRIST 

We made our way to the third floor.
Les was still there. His wife was next to him. We talked and laughed and prayed.
When a few more friends showed up, I went to the cafeteria for coffee. There was nobody waiting in line as I walked in and the man behind the cash register looked bored. But, when I was ready to checkout, he was busy and I had to wait in line, of course. 
Two lines formed on either side of a single cashier. He’d take turns checking out customers, alternating from one side to the other.
At the exact moment I stepped up to the till the lady opposite me was saying to the man running the till, “I hope it’s not more than six dollars and seventy-four cents because that’s all I’ve got.”
He punched some numbers and said, “Seven dollars and fifty-nine cents.”
I said, “Here, I’ll cover the difference.”
She handed me her money and the man scratched his head trying to figure out how to ring up this turn of events. I told him to add my coffee to the order and I’d pay for the works.
The lady looked at me as if I’d just found a cure for cancer.
As I rode the elevator I could hear echoes in my soul, “God’s perfect timing.”
I wondered about the red lights and road-rage-grader. I thought about the lady at the till. What was she going through? Was she visiting a sick friend? Or worse? Did she just scrape up her last dime to pay for her first meal in days?  Was she sitting now, by the bedside of a dying child? She did look tired.
I should’ve found her. I should’ve asked her if she wanted to pray.
I thought about the timing. If I’d have been ten seconds this way or that, I’d have missed the lady’s comment…and the chance to help her with her purchase. I wouldn’t have whispered a silent prayer for her there in that elevator. I wouldn’t be here telling you about her, so that maybe you could say a prayer for her, too.
But then again, maybe it was just coincidence. I mean, what are the odds that God would orchestrate such an event?
Just then the elevator door opened at the third floor and there painted on the opposite wall were the words…
“Be still, and know that I AM God.”

And don't forget about Les. We’ve prayed a lot for him, since then. He was transferred to another hospital and had surgery for multiple blockages, he’s recovering nicely. And he will tell you, "God is never late, seldom early, but always good, and right on time."