Where Has The Week Gone?

I don’t know. It’s already Thursday and I don’t feel like I’ve gotten anything done since the lock in last Friday.

I honestly don’t have anything to say at the moment. I’ve been listening to a lot of music from 1989. Some of it has been stuff that was popular and on the radio at the time. However, I’ve dug out some stuff that is a bit more obscure. Well, I guess obscure might be the wrong word. This is stuff that was called “alternative” back in 1989 but isn’t really that off the wall by today’s standards. Since I don’ t have anything else to say I’ll give you my top ten “alternative” albums from 1989.

  • The Connells – Fun & Games
  • The Cure – Disintegration
  • The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses
  • The Replacements – Don’t Tell A Soul
  • Michael Penn – March
  • The Smithereens – 11
  • Pixies – Doolittle
  • Camper Van Beethoven – Key Lime Pie
  • Indigo Girls – Indigo Girls
  • Nirvana – Bleach

 

I do have to be honest so that I am not making folks think I was THAT hip in 1989. I was listening to Skid Row and Rush more than any of these albums. The exceptions are The Connells (they were NC boys), Michael Penn, and The Smithereens. I had the cassette single for Closer To Fine by Indigo Girls and played it a lot but really didn’t know anything else by them. I didn’t even know about Nirvana or The Stone Roses at the time. I pretty much hated The Cure and only knew the one or two “popular” tracks from Pixies and Camper Van Beethoven. However, I can honestly say that I like all of these albums now. The one that surprised me the most was The Cure. I always told myself that I hated them when in reality I have liked pretty much everything I’ve heard from them. Go figure. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite songs by The Cure. That’s something I’m sure I would have NEVER said in 1989.

May God our Father give you grace and peace.

 

 

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All The Lonely People

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

Ah, look at all the lonely people!
Ah, look at all the lonely people!

Paul McCartney

 

I had an interesting experience with a customer last night. She came in around 8:30 and asked me about some items on the shelf right by the main entrance. I helped her out and she continued shopping. At 9:30 I sat down on one of the benches up front to take my last break. The same lady came up at sat down beside me after she paid her stuff. We talked for fifteen minutes (the length of my break) and then I got up and went back to greeting. The lady continued to sit there until I clocked out at 11:00. At one point during the hour and an half she sat there she made the comment that “you really don’t want to go home when there’s no one there waiting for you.”

That has been sitting with me ever since last night. How many people are that lonely? How many of them go unnoticed? How many are desperately craving companionship? I plan to do a better job of looking for them.

May God our Father give you grace and peace.

Crazy Weekend

I go in at 3:00 today and work until 11:00. After that I am coming back here to the church to help chaperone the lock in. I have to work 3:00 until 11:00 tomorrow as well. I should be good and tired by the time I get home Saturday night. I do intend to sleep late tomorrow morning but I who knows what will happen? I have to leave for work in a little less than an hour and I’ve been running around all morning so I don’t have a good post in me. I’ll simply leave you with this. I have always enjoyed reading about Paul in Athens.

22 So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. 23 For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; 26 and He made from one manevery nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation,27 that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’ 29 Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. 30 Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all peopleeverywhere should repent, 31 because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”

32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer, but others said, “We shall hear you again concerning this.” 33 So Paul went out of their midst. 34 But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.

Acts 17:22-33 (NLT)

 

May God our Father give you grace and peace.

 

Ready

10 Several days later a man named Agabus, who also had the gift of prophecy, arrived from Judea. 11 He came over, took Paul’s belt, and bound his own feet and hands with it. Then he said, “The Holy Spirit declares, ‘So shall the owner of this belt be bound by the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem and turned over to the Gentiles.’” 12 When we heard this, we and the local believers all begged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem.

13 But he said, “Why all this weeping? You are breaking my heart! I am ready not only to be jailed at Jerusalem but even to die for the sake of the Lord Jesus.” 14 When it was clear that we couldn’t persuade him, we gave up and said, “The Lord’s will be done.”

Acts 21:10-14 (NLT)

 

Paul is getting ready to head back to Jerusalem when Agabus shows up and shares this prophecy with those who have gathered to see him off. Luke is there and he tells us that they try to persuade Paul to not go. I love Paul’s response. I tend to have an active imagination and often visualize things in my own way. I can hear Paul saying, “You guys are killing me.”  Paul is keenly aware of what awaits him. I doubt that he anticipates the various trials (literal) that he will face or the series of events that eventually land him in Rome but he is ready to died for Jesus.

Here is the man who was responsible for the extreme persecution of Christians and now the tables have turned. The very people he worked with are now pursuing him and won’t stop until he is gone. Paul knows this and is not swayed by their pleas. Luke writes that they eventually give up when it becomes clear that Paul is going to continue. Eugene Peterson paraphrases verse 14 this way:

We saw that we weren’t making even a dent in his resolve, and gave up. “It’s in God’s hands now,” we said. “Master, you handle it.” 

Jesus shows similar resolve when he heads to Jerusalem the final time as well. In his gospel Luke writes the following about Jesus:

As the time drew near for him to ascend to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.

Luke 9:51 (NLT)

 

Paul is willing to make the same sacrifice as the One he preaches. He is ready to die for the same name he had previously persecuted others over. Even though his friends are begging him to stay he realizes that this is what he has been called to do. He is ready to obey. He is ready to die.

There are too many times when I just don’t feel ready. I’m not even being asked to die for my faith and I can find excuses and reasons not to obey. My prayer is that God gives me the strength to do what He asks. My prayer is that I am ready.

May God our Father give you grace and peace.

I’m Back

I had to take a couple of days off. I was not feeling well and I had to work until 11:00 both of them. I guess the wacky weather has been taking a toll on my allergies so I have been fairly miserable. Monday was really bad. My eyes and nose were dripping excessively and my head felt like this.

head explode

There’s a still photo from a movie called Scanners that I sometimes use to show how it feels but it’s pretty gruesome so I decided to spare you. This one is bad enough and it is a pretty accurate representation. I am feeling better today. Zyrtec is my friend on days like those.

Geo is working. He’s in the meat department at Walmart and seems to enjoy it.

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We had a solar eclipse on Monday. We were in the 50% range and didn’t see much. I did take this using my Kindle Fire. The glare is pretty bad so you can’t really make out anything. Like I said, we only got about 50% coverage.

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Well there you go. We’re all caught up. I hope to get back to writing again tomorrow. I have a couple of things I was working on when I took a break. I’ll jump back into them today.

May God our Father give you grace and peace.

Not Far Off?

28 One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the debate. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

29 Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. 30 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ 31 The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”

32 The teacher of religious law replied, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth by saying that there is only one God and no other.33 And I know it is important to love him with all my heart and all my understanding and all my strength, and to love my neighbor as myself. This is more important than to offer all of the burnt offerings and sacrifices required in the law.”

34 Realizing how much the man understood, Jesus said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” And after that, no one dared to ask him any more questions.

Mark 12:28-34 (NLT)

 

And

 

34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees with his reply, they met together to question him again. 35 One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”

37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22:34-40 (NLT)

 

And

 

25 One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?”

27 The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

28 “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!”

29 The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Luke 10:25-29 (NLT)

 

The next thing you read in Luke’s account is the parable of the Good Samaritan. It is interesting to remember that the two “commandments” Jesus references are given in the Old Testament. Deuteronomy 6:5 tells Israel to love God with all our heart, mind, and soul. Leviticus 19:18 is where the Israelites are told to love their neighbors. Jesus is reminding them of what they should already know. It is implied in the Matthew and Luke accounts that the religious leaders were trying to trick him or trap him with Scripture. When he answered wisely they tried to take it further. They were willing to accept love for God and love for neighbors (God had commanded it after all) but they wanted to define exactly who their neighbors were. They had their own prejudices and God surely wasn’t telling them to love THOSE people. It was one thing to have to love others like them but to love THOSE people. Surely God didn’t mean that…did He?

I don’t think I have to tell you do I? If you know the parable of the Good Samaritan then you already realize that Jesus dropped the ultimate unwanted “truth bomb” on them. They hated the Samaritans. The Samaritans were lower than dogs. Some scholars have suggested that the whole “shaking the dust from your feet” thing you see in the New Testament may have been started by pious Jews after traveling through Samaria. Regardless of the origin, in Jesus’ time it symbolized the complete rejection of those whose dust you shook away. Jesus even told his own disciples to do the same thing to those who rejected his message. In that context it symbolized God’s judgment on those who rejected His Son.

I wish we didn’t still have to deal with racial, economic, political, and national differences. I wish we somehow understood Jesus’ commands to love God first and then love others. It seems so simple yet we know just how difficult it can be. In the Mark passage Jesus tells the man that he is not far off from the Kingdom of God. I often wonder if that guy found it? Did he continue to listen to Jesus and draw closer or did he eventually shrug off everything and go back to normal?

How many times have I gotten close to the Kingdom only to give up or give in? How many times have I seen just how simple it is but have not had the strength to continue. We all struggle with it. It’s true that some struggle more than others but don’t be fooled…we all have to fight it. As the communion meditation put it this morning…we’re all broken. We all have to remind ourselves those same two commandments. It is my prayer that we listen and we obey. It is my prayer that set our eyes on the Kingdom and keep marching forward. Perhaps we can be a light in the darkness around us.

May God our Father give you grace and peace.

 

 

 

 

Take A Deep Breath

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

Philippians 4:4-9 (NLT)

 

Sometimes you just need to stop and take a deep breath. Yesterday was busy. It was over before I even realized it. Today is already breezing by and I will be back at Walmart in just a few hours. I sometimes get frazzled and let things rob me of my joy and peace. I am stopping and taking a deep breath. We should all do that more often.

May God our Father give you grace and peace.

Old Music

I like old music. I guess your definition of “old” depends upon how old you are. I am forty-seven years old. When I talk about “old” music I am referring to the stuff that was being played on “Oldies” radio stations when I was a teenager in the Eighties. That would include early rock and roll, rockabilly, and rock-pop stuff from bands like The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and The Rolling Stones. I am especially enamored with Buddy Holly, Frankie Valli, and Creedence Clearwater Revival. I can’t explain why…I just am.

I don’t have satellite radio but I know that there are stations for just about every genre of music out there. However, there are very few “real” radio stations that I can find here where I live. There is a Christian station, two modern country stations, a modern pop station, and one “classic” rock station which isn’t very strong on most days. On the days when it is available it plays stuff from when I was a teenager and young adult. To my kids that is “old” music so my assertion that “old” is in the ear of the beholder is true.

As I get older I find that I am more interested in music earlier than what I consider old. Thanks to YouTube I can find stuff from the Twenties, Thirties, and Forties. Most of this music is fascinating. Once again, I don’t know that I can explain why it appeals to me. A lot of it sounds foreign even though I can often hear how it has influenced more modern artist. I especially like to seek out the musicians that are name dropped by the bands and artists I like.

As I type this I am listening to a mix of songs by The Beach Boys. Good Vibrations is currently playing. Even though it came out 1966 (four years before I was born) it sounds modern. I can hear how it influenced Jeff Lynne and other musicians who I really admire. Because it has existed my entire life it is somewhat difficult for me to imagine how amazing it would have sounded at the time. The same can be said for their album Pet Sounds or any of the later albums by The Beatles. Electric Light Orchestra, which is my favorite group of all time, would not have existed without either of those.

I listened to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons earlier this morning and even though the recordings sound old, the music is still fresh. What gets me about their songs is the vocal harmonies. I also love that piercing falsetto voice. If I had to pick a favorite from them it would probably be Walk Like A Man but that may be due to the fact that it figures prominently in the film Heart And Souls featuring Robert Downey Jr. Another group with unbelievable harmonies is The Everly Brothers, who were another major influence on Jeff Lynne.

Out of all the “old” music that I listen to my two absolute favorites are Buddy Holly and Hank Williams. Between the two of them they pretty much influenced every band or artist I listen to. They influenced the artists who influences the artists I listen to. I have honestly sat down with my guitar and attempted to wrong songs like the both of them. In my head I think that they are simple little songs but I have yet to replicate either.

So yeah…this was a bit on the unorganized side but that’s just how my brain works sometimes. I write down whatever comes to mind. If you can get something out of it…that’s great. If not…thanks for humoring me. I’ll leave you with an “old” song I came across on YouTube that I’m really digging right now. This one is from 1927. Is that old enough for you?

May God our Father give you grace and peace.

 

Happy Birthday Marcus

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It is hard to believe that he is already two years old. How in the world does time go by so quickly? I will have more to say tomorrow but I’m not feeling well and I’m a bit woozy from the Benadryl.

May God our Father give you grace and peace.

Lord, I Need Your Wisdom

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.

James 1:5-8 (NLT)

 

Before anyone jumps to conclusions, the title of this is just a general statement of fact. It is not in reference to any specific situation. In my roles as husband, father, grandfather, preacher, and door greeter I need all the wisdom I can get. Like I said, it’s not always because there is huge decision to make. There are times when I face that sort of thing and I do my best to prayerfully consider the best option. What I’m talking about today is more about the wisdom I need to  make it through an ordinary day.

How many times do we find ourselves in situations where we feel the need to respond even if it might not be the wisest thing? I am often quick to speak and slow to listen when the Bible says it should be the other way. I sometimes have a bad habit (and it is BAD) to take every little thing someone says or does personally. I automatically put up my defenses and start thinking about how I should respond. That can lead to unnecessary conflict.

One of my favorite sayings is:

It’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool than open your mouth and remove all doubt.

I have seen it worded differently and attributed to various people but the gist of it remains the same. There is a verse in the Bible that says something similar.

Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent.

Proverbs 17:28 (NLT)

 

To go along with that and the point I’m trying to make here is the verse right before that one.

A truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even-tempered.

Proverbs 17:27 (NLT)

 

I am learning more and more that true wisdom is found not in the things I say but in the things I choose not to say. That’s a lesson I wish I had learned years ago.

May God our Father give you grace and peace.