August 25, 2016

THE MUSE IS LOOSE

We are heading west and north and east, then south. Planned stops at San Antonio, Dallas, Tyler, Kingwood, Pearland, then Rockport. Maybe some other places along the way. Tomorrow is Ann's eighty-first birthday. Nothing she enjoys more than travel. We will be doing a lot of it.......so as Willie sang it, "On The Road Again".

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August 23, 2016

FAMILY


My heart goes out to folks who have no family or have abandoned theirs for one reason or another. To be a part of a kinship group we call family is a unique gift. We sing, "I'm So Glad I'm A Part of The Family Of God" , and I am. It is a special kinship with fellow believers from all over the world. Our family of kinfolks is special too. We accept each other for who we are. None perfect. All joined together in a spiritual union of blood and love and marriage.

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I have been uniquely blest by family. The extended family from Ann and her kin. The added family through marriage and birth. I would not trade my family for anyone's!

This family, through extended love and generosity, replaced the monies in full that I was scammed of several days ago. They did not say who or how much. I simply received a check for the sum lost by my carelessness in what appeared to be a crisis time for a grandson. Wow! That is a sacrifice returned in full to Ann and I. ( She did nothing. Had she been at home this probably would not have happened. She would have seen the scam!)

So, I am saying to all. Thank you! That really doesn't cover our feelings. It is from the depth of our beings...THANK YOU!

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August 19, 2016

A RENEWAL STORY OUT OF THE PAST


I don't understand computers. I know how to push buttons but not how to leave where it sends me. This week I somehow made a contact from facebook telling me I had journeyed to Brush Prairie, Washington. I have never been there. I do know someone who lived there a long time ago. Kenneth Price. Does the name ring a bell with you? Kenneth is the young man our church helped over thirty years ago. He was a down and out "bum" when I met him. I told him the church would help him get back to Oregon where there was family. I also told him he needed a change of clothes and a change of life. He claimed to have trusted in the Lord. I think he did. I took him to our house and fitted him with clean clothes. I kept his old hat and gave him a new one. Put Kenneth on a bus to Oregon and heard not a word for thirty years. Circumstances locked me with him again as I found a phone number and talked with his wife. He had been active in church and had a nice family but something set him off again. He was living on the street again. Somehow I talked with Kenneth through a man with him who had a cell phone. Long story. Today Kenneth called me. He is divorced and living in Oregon. Spent four years in treatment for Vietnam related problems. He is now on full disability and claiming he has won the battle. He has a book in print called, "Wounded Warriors. A Story of Suffering and Recovery". Much of it is poetry. He said it was ugly and harsh at times. I can deal with that.

We had a great visit. He was upbeat and sounded good. He has been so close to the brink many times. Now, it may be a different story. His family is doing well and he has communication with them. One boy just graduated from High School. He was an Eagle Scout!

Never give up. That's the clue. Never give up!

August 18, 2016

FLOODS

As life goes on in a normal way about them, folks in Livingston Parish are devastated! Of some 138,000 living in that Parish seventy-five percent of them have lost their homes. That is just one setting. There are others we will never hear or read about who have had equal or bigger losses. Sixty-eight thousand have already signed up for assistance. Baton Rouge is getting a huge dosage of all that came to New Orleans with Katrina.

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Many of these people have no flood insurance. They have never needed it.....until now. Without flood insurance there will be little or no help. They have lost all but a water-soaked residence and the land it is built on.

Some in the entertainment industry are making donations and sizeable help. Taylor Swift is donating one million dollars to the flood relief. Others are following. They will need all they can get.

Texas Baptist Men will be sending teams to help with the cleanup. It is a hard, hard job with little thanks. They don't do it for that purpose. We who are not able to go and not able to give large amounts can simply do what we can, and PRAY. Prayer for strength to do the work is important. Prayer for some to give who can afford to. Prayer for patience and courage in the face of this disaster. Prayer for folks to come to know the Lord in the face of such loss. Yes, that is something we can do.

August 15, 2016

LIKEN TO THE DAYS OF OLD


What in the world does that mean? Liken to the days of old? Probably nothing. No one came to church yesterday in a wagon, or pulled in a surrey with the fringe on top. There was air conditioning and comfortable pews. A sound system took the words out to the masses of eager listeners, (About fifteen). So what was liken to the days of old? This old preacher/converted song leader, led all the service Sunday morning! To do both was a challenge I have not experienced for a long time. The man who usually leads came up ill Sunday morning. The duty fell to me, and I didn't mind at all, except that I found doing both was not as easy as in times past. Anyway, we survived. I hope the people did.

Preaching to a crowd not as large as the Sunday School class I attend in Rockport is quite different. It is still a challenge and calls for much study and prayer. They are a gracious people at Central Baptist, Ingleside, and that makes it all a joy.I am still only their supply preacher by my choice. I have no ambitions or calling to be interim or pastor. It has been good for me, in that disciplined study is once again a part of my life. What makes that difficult is my limited retention of what is read or thought during study. Notes, notes, notes!

My dear friend, Charles Fake, continues to labor on his field just a few blocks from where I preach. Charles is their Interim Pastor at Bethel, Ingleside. They would love for him to commit to more. He has a reluctance, like I do, of taking that next step. He has been their interim for many months! I know the energy level bit is a problem for Charles as it is for me. We labor on. It is a stark reminder that not as many young men are out there who are willing to travel miles on week-ends and Sundays to preach. Salaries in these settings are not attractive to those who could come. They want to start out a bit higher on the rung of the ministerial ladder. It is too bad, for Charles and I both paid the price in earlier times. It didn't hurt us a bit. The learning part was better than seminary.

That's my Monday report from the field where I serve. I am "washed out" on this Monday. hoping it is not "washed up". "Thank you, Lord, for making a place for Charles and Me to serve. When most of our ministerial friends of old are either gone or badly ailing we are still able to go. That is a blessing. We both thank you! A-men."


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August 13, 2016

PREMONT BATTLES BACK

The small city of Premont, Texas, is located on highway 281, 26 miles south of Alice. This is one of two main highways leading to the lower Rio Grande Valley and Mexico. It is a fairly typical-looking South Texas town with old and empty buildings. Most, including Premont, have seen better days. Today their population is a little less that 2,800. It reached a peak in the 30's with over 3,000. Oil discoveries led to a growth spurt.

Not only is the town old and worn, the school buildings are as well, (or should I say were?). In 2011 the Premont ISD heard the word it was being closed down! This would be a death knell for Premont. Since that time an amazing thing has happened. The townfolks began to see how they needed to be involved in the schools. Teachers and school leaders sought for solutions. Texas A & M at Kingsville became involved. A TEA appointed management team gave strict guidance. The belt was tightened in finances.....and the Premont Schools received word this week they had reached academic standards for the first time since 2011.

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There is still much to be done, but it appears the school will survive. A school that was to permanently close July 1 is now opening next week. The Cowboys will not ride. Their horses are in the barn, but their buses will run.

Their superintendent, Eric Ramos, put it this way: " I'm just so thrilled. We were looking down the barrel twice....and the students cowboyed up." Believe me, this is cowboy country. Mesquite, cactii, rattlesnakes, and javelinas claim the land. Deer and quail bring in money for ranchers. Oil is still there, but not in abundance. Most houses have more than one vehicle but none may be running. Daring souls still try to cross this parched sandy soil but many never make it. It is typically tough South Texas brush country. I love it....from the highway or a deer stand.

A salute to the Premont folks for working to keep their most important business in town.

August 12, 2016

HARVEST

Times have changed. When we first came to this South Texas land in the sixties, this time of year cotton being harvested was taken to the gins in wagons. It left there in bales. No more. It is now brought in giant round rolls in covered trucks. Those trucks are really busy right now. Farmers have their eyes on the skies. This is a time when rains are not wanted. A tropical storm or hurricane can mean disaster.

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The grain is cut and at the elevators. Corn is the same. Cotton, however, is still out there. Each day is a crucial one. There can be no breakdowns or breaks. While farmers want no rain right now, the majority of folks long for it, even pray for it.

Jesus was concerned about harvest back in Samaria that day when he and his disciples needed water and a bite to eat. The woman he met there at the well dashed into Sychar to tell about this One she had met who might be the awaited Messiah. The town turned out everyone as they walked to Jacob's well to see. Some have said that their coming up that road (or down) was a sea of white looking like a walking cotton field. I don't know about that. I only know for sure what Jesus said: " Do you not say, There are four months and then comes the harvest. Behold I say to you lift up your eyes and look at the fields for they are already white for harvest." (John 4)

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Sychar did turn into a harvest for Jesus. The people begged Jesus to stay over. He did and many people there responded to Him.

August 11, 2016

WHAT ARE YOU KNOWN FOR?

Most everyone is known for something. It may be something one is proud of or embarrassed about! We can be known for our talking or our silence. Our voices may distinguish us in the world. . Towns and cities, and even countries become known for special things.Years ago when we first moved to Taft to be on the church staff there, their sign at the city limits said, "Friendliest Cotton Pickin' Town In Texas". The sign is gone. So is the reason for their claim. Watsonville, California, is known for their beautiful strawberries. I wish they tasted as good as they look. Georgia is the peach state. The Rio Grand Valley has it's delicious grapefruit and oranges.

In New Mexico there is a town called Hatch. (Yes, that is as in chicken eggs!) Hatch, however, makes it's claim to fame in it's peppers. They surely are the pepper capitol of the country.They raise peppers of all kinds. Some are hot. Some are not. All have a unique Hatch flavor, or so buyers think. HEB food stores are featuring Hatch right now. It seems that Hatch has decided to expand in the food merchandise. One can purchase HEB Hatch Bacon, Hatch Green Chile Taco Sauce, Hatch Guacamole, Hatch Chili Tilapia Fillets, Hatch Chili Thin Sliced Chicken Breast, Pico de Hatch, and even Hatch Tamales!

"When you've got it, flaunt it!", someone said. Hatch is certainly doing that. It is all for a cause....profits!

What about the church where you belong or attend? What are your featured ingredients? Good preaching? Ministry to youth? Music? Diversity in worship styles? Facilities? Care? Friendliness? Sharing the Gospel? Bible study? Ministry? Outreach? Lifestyles? Do any of these make a difference to those that seek a church?

Like the town of Hatch, New Mexico, we need to have something to offer. Then we need to feature that which we have. That is called outreach.


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August 10, 2016

WASHING AN OLD CAT

FRODO, our old cat. did not ask for a bath. She was okay as things were, although she has been pulling our her hair something awful. Ann said she had fleas but I cannot find a single one.I think it may be her skin or even something inside she is trying to get to. Anyway, I took on the challenge this morning with this vet approval substance and began the process. We were closed in the bathroom.

Actually she did quite well because I was constantly rubbing her neck and back where she likes it. In between all that I was working with this stuff trying to get it applied in places she didn't care about. Finally, I finished as best i could and she limped out of the bathroom looking for one of her hiding places.

There is a similarity in how cats and dogs feel about a matter and how we humans react. I have had many, many injections since that first one at five that left me scarred for life. It was required for first grade at Cavanaugh School. School was also required so I had no way out. I received little comfort in hearing all my classmates had the same procedure.

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My first big-time shots came with the military. They were given by gross amateurs with the purpose to see how many would cry. Later I would have to jab a needle in my own leg to show I could survive an atrophine injection. I nearly didn't.

Since those years many injections have followed. Not until recently could I watch the whole thing happen. Drawing blood helped me break the ice and watch.

There are a lot of events that are unpleasant in life. Some are painful and hurt. Some have after effects and leave us with problems. That is a part of the journey. Like me and the old cat who is angry with me right now, someone has to do these things to try to help. We need to do our part in helping that person who is trying to help us. Since Frodo didn't bite or scratch me I am commiting the same to my next injectionist.

August 9, 2016

NOW IT IS A WATER WAR


The Olympics are becoming a nursery for a global war. It is not a cold war as yet. Not cold enough in Rio for that. It is a war in the swim waters. The aggressors have not changed since the cold war. Russian athletes have been banned by the score for using performance enhancing drugs. The rules are no different for them than for the others. What is different are the performances. There really are drugs that can help one swim or run faster. They are a problem in the U S. Pro athletes are getting caught quite often. When money is out there in huge quanities the temptation to enhance one's performance will often win over.

Rio-697463.jpgHarsh words and actions are springing up. One can be sure their surly leader is looking on. Putin does not back away easily from a fight, especially if it is the USA.

At the same time horrible suicide atrocities are taking hundreds of lives daily. ISIS and other like groups seem to have an excess of young men and women so brain washed by religious ideals that they gladly blow themselves to pieces to kill innocent men, women, and children even of their own countries. It is beyond my imagination, but it is so. We have our own marks of it in New York, Washington, and elsewhere here in our land.

Ultimately, a violent Creature called Satan is at work. His time is running out and he is making a final battle. How far along the conflict is I do not know. There could be much, much more. Paul wrote to an early servant, Timothy, and said this in his second letter to him..

" Mark this. There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying it's power...." That covers it all.