LOST, LANDMARKS & FINDING THE WAY HOME

Wow! It has been a long time since I’ve written anything here. I do have a couple of friends who periodically prod me to write something. I have had this thought in my head for a few weeks now, so for the two or three of you who actually read this, here it is.

lostHave you ever been lost? No, I’m not using “preacher speak” to talk about a spiritual condition. (Not yet anyhow). I’m talking about really being lost. Not sure where you were or how to get out of there. I can remember one time as a kid when I got lost.

I was about 8 or 9 years old. My family had just moved to Hawaii. My dad was being stationed at Hickam A.F.B. in Honolulu. We had recently arrived and had not yet moved into the housing on the base so we were in an apartment in Waikiki. One day while my dad was at work my mom took my sister and I to the beach. I can still remember clearly when it was time to leave. We were standing under a pavilion where there were restrooms. My mom and sister were going to change clothes, wash off or something. I clearly remember mom saying to me, “Stay right here. Do not go anywhere. We’ll be back in a minute.” Ok. Fine. Now remember I was only about 8. I guess it seemed like a really long time to me and my mom wasn’t back. My little mind at that point convinced me that my mom had left me there at the beach. She forgot me! At that moment I was lost. Suddenly I was afraid. Uncertain. How do I get out of here? What do I do? I was lost. I needed to get home. I would be safe there. Mom would be there. I had to get there. The problem was, I was an 8 year old kid in a new city and really didn’t know how to get there. Never the less, I took off.

I knew which direction to go as I left the beach. I headed that way. Scared because from there I really didn’t know where to go. Then I saw the landmark! I can clearly remember seeing it. In fact I can still see it in my mind just like I was 8 again. copperIt was a huge sign that I recognized as being on the corner of the street I needed to walk down. It was big sign advertisement for Copper Tone suntan lotion. It was that ad with the dog pulling on the swimsuit of a little girl so that you could see her tan. I still remember it. It was like a big neon sign saying “TURN HERE”. There I went. I continued my journey with a little more hope because I knew I was on the right road.

From that point I can remember becoming little disoriented. I was beginning to become more and more uncertain of what to do next. I was looking at all the stores and everything on the street for a sign. I can’t remember what it was but I do remember seeing a local business that verified in my mind that I was still on the right path, another needed landmark. More hope. More confidence. I knew I was now getting close.

I remember approaching an intersection and looking around the corner. There it was! Our apartment building! It was there! I had made it! I was home! I was safe at last. I had peace. I knew now that everything would be ok.

Before I go on I will tell you the rest of the story so you won’t be distracted wondering what had happened. Obviously, my mother had not left me at the beach. She was not at the apartment when I arrived. I’m sure she was terrified when she came out of the bathroom and I wasn’t there. I did have enough sense to stay at the apartment building even though mom wasn’t there. I mean really that was home and someone would come there at some point so I just stood out front. I do remember seeing my mother running up the road. I can still see the look on her face. I can’t even describe it. It was sort of a mixture of I’m about to have a total breakdown and a I’ll do anything to find my kid. We were reunited, she found relief and I was at home.

Thank goodness for landmarks. Honestly I would never have made it home without them. I would not have known or figured out the way. I would not have known to turn down that street. I would not have known that I was still going in the right direction. I would not have known to look around the corner. I would have stayed lost and quite frankly there is no telling where I would have wound up.

I got lost again, it was later in life. Only the next time I was about 17. I wasn’t physically lost. I was lost in life. It was spiritual. It was a lostness that had to do with who I was, who I was supposed to be and what life was all about for me. Again, I had feelings of despair and uncertainty. I really didn’t know where to go for that safety and peace that I was crying out for inside. I needed to find a way “home”.

Then I remembered and saw some landmarks. Landmarks laid over more than two decades. Landmarks laid by grandparents and parents. They were the landmarks of faith in Christ, trust in God, prayer, and belief in His Word. At each landmark I could make a turn and be encouraged that I was on the right path until I finally made it home. I finally found peace.

You know, we all get lost in life. Your kids and grandkids will be lost at some point. It happens to us all as we take roads in life. We follow people, experiences or our own desires and sometimes we get to the end of the road and realize we are lost. We sometimes wonder how to get out of there. We need some landmarks.

What kind of landmarks are you laying for your kids and grandkids? Will those landmarks lead them home? They need some landmarks that they can follow. Truthfully, you are laying landmarks for them. The real question is when they follow them where will those landmarks lead? Lay some that lead home. I have the feeling you won’t regret it and they’ll be glad you did.

You may be lost right now. Look around, see the old landmarks laid long ago. Landmarks laid over decades of faithfulness by people of influence in your life. Go in the direction of one. Find a another and follow it. The landmarks lead home. They lead to peace.

Blessings to you all. I don’t know, I’m just an old redneck and that’s just the way I see it.

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

I MISS GEORGE

I have my personal prayer/worship time outside.  There used to be this cat that would come to see me in the mornings.  I started calling him George.  He was very friendly. He IMG_20130228_075231would come over to where I pray and in typical cat fashion he would rub on my leg.  He would jump up next to me and just purr away.  One really cold morning he actually curled up in my lap.  Being the animal lover that I am, I welcomed George to all of my prayer times.  I would pet him and sort of “love” on him like we pet lovers do.

One day George stopped showing up.  I miss him.  I realized that I would start looking for George as I approached my place of prayer.  As I prayed I would look for him and wonder where he might be and if he was going to show up.  He hasn’t in a long time.  I miss him.

I see George periodically.  There is a canal that runs down the back of the property.  I see George down there sometimes stalking something.  He’s doing, you know, cat things.  Hunting, stalking, killing. You know, he’s a cat.  I see him often playing with one of the dogs nearby. They seem to have a good relationship and they like to run around and chase each other in the mornings.  I’m pretty sure George doesn’t even think about me anymore.  That’s ok really. I mean it really doesn’t affect my life.  It doesn’t change my prayers, it won’t change what I am going to do or how I am going to do it.  In fact, really, it’s George who is missing out.  He doesn’t get my lovin’ in the mornings.  That’s all.

I was thinking about all of this the other day and wondered if maybe that is not a picture of our prayer lives sometime.  Do we show up for a while to a time and place of prayer.  We meet God there. He loves us. Then we get distracted.  We stop showing up.  We’re distracted by so many things.  Life in general is a distraction. We’re busy, making that living and providing for our families.  We’re doing family things.  Of course we have our fun times too that keep us busy. Soon we’re not really even thinking about our personal prayer/worship time.

I wonder if God looks for us?  As He approaches is He hoping to see us?  Somehow I think He might be. You know, I really don’t think me not showing up for prayer affects God very much.  I don’t think it alters His sovereignty, changes His plans, or thwarts His purposes.  In fact, I think the one missing out is me (us).  We don’t get loved on by God in the way He wants to love on us.

I miss George.  It saddens me to think that there are times when God probably says, “ I miss Keith”.

Kind of a weird little take on prayer, but that’s just the way I see it.

Posted in Prayer, Random thoughts | 1 Comment

Pray All The Time … Sometimes Only Pray!

There is a little scene that plays out in my household every Monday night.  Well, every Monday night from September through December anyhow. This is what you would see if you came to my house on a Monday evening.  I’m going to be in my “man cave.”  Of course I will have Monday Night Football on a 61” DLP Television.  It doesn’t matter who is playing, it’s on.  I have my laptop; in my lap of course.  I have a webinar I participate in for 45 minutes every Monday evening.  I also have some other tabs open on my web browser so I can surf the web during the webinar.  I have the box scores from Sunday’s football games up so I can browse to see if there might be a player who is beginning to make some plays.  I need to filter through this information so I can know who to target on the waiver wire on Tuesday for my fantasy football teams.  I also have my fantasy football sites on a tab so I can keep track of the scores and my players who may be playing on Monday night.  I have to admit there is usually a tab open with Facebook too. I also have a technical analysis chart open so that I can check the tone of the stock market and so I can also sift through stocks to see if there are any that may be at a good point for purchasing options within the next few days.  So there it is. Watching TV, surfing the internet, listening in on a webinar and analyzing stocks.  I think you could say I’m multitasking.

Lately, I’ve been hungry for God.  Really I’m not sure hungry is the right description.  It may be more like that feeling when you’ve had the wind knocked out of you.  You know you’re not about to die or anything but you just need some air! You feel helpless and all you want to do is breathe!  That’s a pretty good description of my spiritual life recently.  I desperately want to hear from God.  I need Him.  So I am constantly trying to talk to God all the time. You know, Pray without ceasing.  “Lord I would like to hear from You”  is one of my main prayers.

Then I did hear from Him …. Last night ..… in the middle of it all  …. He said …

“How can I talk to you when you are occupied with all of that?”

 

Posted in Prayer | 3 Comments

Faith – “Do I Really Believe?”

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about faith and living by faith.  I really don’t think in my own life faith is necessary.  Ok. I know what you’re thinking, and yes that is a problem, but just stay with me for a few minutes.  I mean look, I make a decent salary.  My home is paid for.  Everyone in my family (2 adults 3 kids) all have vehicles that are paid for.  I have 2 kids in college and somehow I have managed to pay every semester’s tuition,  books and their living expenses.  We always have food, and we have more electronics in our home than will ever be necessary.  So where’s the faith? It really doesn’t take me depending on God daily.  Really, it doesn’t.

Then along comes God and He begins to plant this dream/vision in my heart.  It becomes so big that I must begin to act on it in some way.  I do my best …. in my way. Somehow it’s not enough.  So then I begin to get a feel for what I think God really wants. Now I’m in crisis!  “But God, how will I pay for my kid’s college?”  “How will I continue to give my family this life that I’ve been giving them?” “What will people think?”

Next, enter our new Associate Pastor of Education.  He begins this little study called “The Time of Your Life”.  Last week we watch a video segment by Andy Stanley.  Pastor Stanley begins to talk about the passage from Matthew 6:31-34

31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

He then begins to really focus on verse 32 where it says that God already knows everything I need.  He asks. “Do you really believe that?”  That question has been haunting me since last Sunday.  God has been searing that question in my spirit every morning as I sit with Him in my rocking chair on the deck (you see, my hammock tore. Guess I’ll have to “go” get a new one!). Do I really believe that God already knows and cares about all my needs.  Really?  We have had a little saying here in our church for many years,  “What you do says more about what you believe than what you say.”  You see, it’s easy to say it, but will I act on it?  If I’m unwilling to act on it, then do I really believe it?  I think this may be what James was getting at in James 2:14-18.

Eventually I concede.  “Alright God, let’s develop a plan and put it in place. Let’s make sure it is going to work and then I will proceed with the next step of faith.” God then asks, “Is that really faith?” (2 Corinthians 5:7). If you can see it is it faith?  If it’s not faith does it please God? (Hebrews 11:6). Where’s my faith?  After all these years. Do I really believe?

I recount in my mind the early years, how God provided in miraculous ways when we wondered how we would buy milk and diapers. Those thoughts begin to fan the flames of a smoldering faith.  Turning off the sports talk radio and listening to God’s prophets proclaim His Word breathes some life into a tiny, flickering flame.  Still there is one step remaining …. to actually take a “step”.  In faith.  Without seeing ….. just believing.

I’m sure my church members will be somewhat discouraged to find that their pastor struggles with living by faith.  But there it is. I sincerely love God with all my heart. However I’m just a guy struggling with really living a life of faith.  That’s just the way I see it.

Posted in Faith, Random thoughts | 2 Comments

Remember the Power

I was laying there in my bed, all of my senses on their highest alert.  I was still. It was pre dawn. My heart was beginning to race.  I was trying to clear my mind as quickly as I could from the fog of waking up suddenly.  My ears were listening for the tiniest of sounds.  That’s what happens when you awakened from deep sleep before the sun comes up by your wife gently nudging you and whispering, “What was that?”

It didn’t take long for everything within me to begin to calm down.  My heart slowed, my mind stopped racing. I was able to calm down and get my bearings.  You see, once I heard it, I knew exactly what it was. It was an owl.  No really, it was an owl.  I’m not sure what she thought or why she approached it the way she did, but it was an owl.  I heard him “Hoot hoot” from somewhere across the yard.

I knew it was an owl because I’ve encountered him before.  I have lain in my hammock before the sun has risen and listened to him “hoot” in distance.  His voice is strong yet soft.  Powerful yet gentle.  It is smooth but unmistakable.  He sings almost in a cadence.  Hoot hoot, pause, hoot hoot. Repetitious and soothing.

It was good to hear him again. Every time I hear his voice I remember the very first time I encountered him.   Again, it was before the sun had come up.  I was still a little groggy as I had not been up long.  It was about a year ago. As I recall the morning was cool. It must have been in the fall.  I had gone out to my shop to let the dogs out for the day (if you’ve ever had a Beagle go on a “hunt” outside your window at 3:00 am, then you don’t have to ask why I close them in a building at night.)  As I was making my way across the deck to the back door of the house I heard it.  It was loud and it startled me.  About 20 yards from where I was walking is a large pine tree.  The tree is maybe 40’ – 50’ tall.  It sounded like someone was up in the tree shaking blankets in the wind.  There were about 2 hard shakes and I barely caught a glimpse of him as he flew away.  Obviously at the time I didn’t know it was an owl. I wouldn’t be able to make that assessment until later when I heard his voice.  At the time I only knew that it was BIG! I thought it might be an eagle or a hawk.  The size of the wings it must have taken to make that noise was a little scary.  I was actually afraid to let the cat out thinking this predator might swoop down and snatch up my “killer kitty”. Truthfully the size it must be even made me afraid for my small dog.  I can still hear the sound.  It was powerful.  It sounded like strength! Now, every time I hear the owl I think of that encounter.  I think of his power. Every time.

Yesterday afternoon as I lay in my hammock I thought about him again.  I thought about Cheryl asking, “What’s that?” I thought of his voice in the distance and always when I think of him I think of the power that I heard as he launched from the tree. Then God reminded me of a scripture. John 3:8 “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Now I know my application here is in no way what Jesus intended.  However this is just what He showed me yesterday and used this verse to speak it.  You see, I hear the voice of the spirit often. Distinct. Unmistakable. Both demanding and inviting.  God reminded me ….. when I hear the voice …. Think of the power!  That power that you have heard before. You see, I still struggle at times to follow the leading.  I know the voice, I know Who is speaking. I know what He has said.  But I am often faithless.  Unsure of myself or my abilities.  So God says, “it’s not you and your abilities that matter.  It’s My abilities and My power.”  When you hear the voice, think of the power.  The power I have heard before as the Spirit moved in the lives of others.  That power I have heard as the Spirit blew through my circumstances in the past.  Remember the power.  Hear the voice. Remember the power.

I’m just a guy who’s trying to think of the power, and that’s the way I see it. (or hear it)

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Tale of Two Kitties …

In my last blog I introduced to you to Mr. Kitty.  My precious and sweet cat.  He really is too sweet. However, there’s another; more sinister side to Mr. Kitty.  Really. I know you will find this hard to believe, but I promise you it’s true.  You see, Mr. Kitty is …, well, he’s a killer.  There, I said it. It’s true, Mr. Kitty is a stone cold killer.

I know it’s true.  I read a news article the other day where a University did a study of the average everyday house cat.  Cats just like Mr. Kitty and your Fluffy. Our sweet cats.  They put little cameras around their necks. What they found is that the average household cat kills 4 things everyday.  Four things everyday.  Dead. Killed by our precious pets.  They’re killers.

Their prey ranges from bugs to lizards, frogs, snakes and birds.  However, on average 4 things everyday die at their hands or paws.

They apparently kill for different reasons. Sometimes they eat what they kill, other times they bring it home.  At other times they just kill for the thrill of it. They kill it and then coldly walk away.  Not long after I read the article I was cooking breakfast and Mr Kitty had returned from his morning “hunt”.  I looked down and there was a frog laying right there on the kitchen floor.  There was Mr. Kitty sitting calmly, looking at it and me. Looking proud. Looking cold. Looking like a killer.

We shouldn’t be surprised you know.  After all they are ancestors of the lions and tigers that roam the jungles and the plains of Africa.  It’s in their nature.  You see deep down inside of Mr. Kitty is the heart of a lion.  He’s a predator and a killer by nature.  It’s in him. Inside. It’s who he is.

I should have known.  I saw it when he was a young kitten.  He used to crouch beside the couch or hide around the corner and whenever you would walk by or down the hall he would spring on you.  His front legs extended and his paws open wide. He would look just like one of the big cats pouncing on his prey on a National Geographic show about big cats.  I know it’s his nature. I know it’s inside of him.  Mr Kitty, a stone cold killer.

You ever wonder how that person in church can be so respected and at the same time be so hateful and mean?  Gosh, I don’t have to point to others.  I often wonder how I can stand before Christ’s Bride and deliver a word from the Bridegroom and then in the same day burst out in rage and anger. How can we bless God and rip someone to shreds with the same tongue? How can we raise a hand and shed a tear in worship only to turn our backs on someone with a broken and needy heart? Really, it should be no surprise.  It’s our nature.  Somewhere deep inside of us is a nature that opposes everything that God stands for.  It is against God and everything He wants for us and in us. It’s a nature that has not yet been completely destroyed. (although it will be).

Why do I bring this up? So we can have an excuse for our sin? No! I remind us so that maybe we can remind ourselves and possibly not allow that nature to rise up and take control.  If I remember then maybe I will be aware and vigilant as I watch for the enemy who seeks to destroy me.  Maybe if I am remembering then I will be on my guard and pray because in my spirit I want to do what is right but in my flesh I am powerless.  Maybe I will be more diligent to keep connected to the Spirit of Christ that lives in me so that I will not fulfill the desires of that other nature.  Maybe I will think before I speak.  Pray before I act.  Unlike Mr. Kitty, it’s not ok for me to allow that nature to rear its ugly head inside of me.  So remember.  Be on your guard and vigilant.  Watch and pray.

Next time you look at your cat, just remember ….. he’s a killer by nature ….. and so are you.

I’m just a guy who has to fight the old nature.  That’s just the way I see it.

Posted in My Dogs, Random thoughts | Leave a comment

I’ve Been Needin’ Me a Good Cat.

For several years I would tell my family that, “I needed me a good cat.”  About a year ago my daughter brought one home.  Mr. Kitty.  He’s now mine.  Any animal that comes to our house becomes mine because I am the one who takes care of it.  Mr. Kitty is no different.  I feed him, let him out, and even clean out his litter box.  Anything Mr. Kitty needs, I take care of.  As a result, Mr. Kitty has grown strongly attached to me. He follows me around like a dog would.  If I go in the living room, Mr. Kitty is there laying at my feet.  If I go outside, Mr. Kitty waits by the patio door until I come back.  If I go into one of the kid’s rooms, there’s Mr. Kitty right there.  A couple of times a day, usually when I’m relaxing in my man cave, Mr. Kitty will come and jump up on my belly and lay there.  He will tuck his head up under my chin and just purr away.  He doesn’t necessarily stay long, but just long enough.  I’ve been needin’ me a good cat. I think Mr. Kitty may be it.

The family sometimes laments as to why Mr. Kitty loves me so much but not them.  Not long ago I began to tell them it was because, “He thinks I’m God.” (should I have used a small “g” there?) He’s totally dependant upon me.  I care for him and love him.  Why wouldn’t I? I mean, I’ve been needin’ me a good cat.

It’s rather simplistic I know, but I wonder.  Can I get a glimpse of at least part of my relationship with God (the One, True God.  Big “G”) here?  Does He desire for me to be totally dependant upon Him?  To stop being so self sufficient?  Should I desire to just be wherever God is at all times?  Just laying in His presence?  Maybe a couple of times a day I could just climb up near Him for intimacy.  Does He desire that from me?  I think maybe so.  I wonder if God sometimes thinks He’s been needin’ a good Keith (my name).  Just for me to love him and allow Him to love me. I hope He never feels that way. I hope I fulfill that for Him.  Sometimes I forget that it’s relationship of love with God.  That part gets left out.

I know, this blog was a little strange.  My mind works like that sometimes.  I can be a little out there.  I know it is a simplistic analogy, but it was just a thought I had today.  I don’t know, I’m just a guy who’s been needin’ a good cat and that’s just the way I see it.

BTW come back tomorrow or in a couple of days because I want to tell you something else about Mr. Kitty.  Something you may not believe!

Posted in My Dogs | 1 Comment