Archive for February, 2009

Hey, wait for me!

Posted: February 27, 2009 in Get Close to God

Twelfth in the series Get Close to God

Have you ever been left behind?  Has anyone ever made plans without you, or forgot to include you, and then wonder why you didn’t show up?  How did that make you feel?

Well, guess what?  We do that to God.  We leave him behind, make our plans without him, forget to include him, then wonder why he doesn’t show up when things fall apart.  How do you think that makes him feel?  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to put us on a guilt trip .  It’s actually to our benefit to wait on God.  The Lord has advised us to wait for him many times.  Here’s one:

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Wait on the Lord.  Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart.  Wait, I say, on the Lord.  Psalm 27:14

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I don’t know about you, but I don’t wait well.  Maybe that’s because that requires another attribute I don’t do very well, either: patience.  Have you ever regretted making a hasty decision?  I have and so did King Saul.  The Philistines showed up for battle with “30,000 chariots, 6,000 horsemen, and people like the sand is on the seashore in abundance.”  Saul was vastly outnumbered since he could only muster 6,000 warriors.  He was supposed to wait seven days for the prophet Samuel to arrive and offer the sacrifice.  When the seventh day came, Samuel was not in sight, so the king took the matter in his own hands.  Samuel arrived as Saul was finishing the offering.  That act of impatience cost him his kingdom.

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How many times have we taken matters in our own hands without waiting for God?

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Isn’t it amazing that we will seek out advice from friends or experts or Google but fail to call on the one who not only knows what we should do but will give us the ability to get it done?  Oh, we will pray for wisdom, but if we don’t hear something soon we just do what we think is best and expect God to bless our decision.  But is that what it means to wait on God?

I don’t think waiting on the Lord to show up and serve us is quite what he has in mind.  After all, isn’t the waiter supposed to be the server?  A good server gets to know the preferences of her regulars.  Just as a close friend knows what you like or dislike, we need to spend time with our saviour to get to know him intimately before we can expect to be able to please him.

Waiting on God is part of what is required to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow him.  It’s more than waiting on him to catch up.  It’s letting him lead.  But how can we follow someone we can’t see or hear?  Find out soon in part II: Sit Still!

A party of three

Posted: February 22, 2009 in Service with a Smile

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Chapter Three

Monday. Again.  Oh well, I was determined to put on a smile and go on into work the evening shift.  Monday is the deadest night of the week so I simply tolerated Monday nights without expectations.  This night, however, would turn out to be unforgettable. 

 

An elderly man had been in that morning and wanted to reserve our private meeting room for a party of three. He was described to me as a tall elderly man with a kind smile and a twinkle in his eye.  I was definitely intrigued!

 

At five o’clock he came into the diner carrying a box and wearing a broad smile and a worn suit with a carnation sticking haphazardly out of his suit pocket.  His thick hair was combed back and slicked down with VO5 and I smelled the faint hint of Old Spice as I approached him to help with the box.  We walked to the meeting room and I helped him unpack his treasures.  He had two candles, some sparkling cider, an African violet and a small box that he quickly put in his pocket.  I just had to ask questions!  He proceeded to tell me that he was surprising a lady that he had been “courting” with a romantic dinner.  I became determined to make this a special night for the two of them.  I put the cider on ice, set up the candles and flowers and helped him to straighten the carnation in his suit pocket. When I started to put the dishes on the table he asked that I set the table for three. Three?  I was somewhat confused.  I did not think that two elderly people would need a chaperone! Ha! He then explained that the other place setting was for his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  I was moved to tears as I set the table and prepared their dinner.

 

The gentleman left to pick up his date and I surveyed the room.  Due to being on a fixed income, he had ordered the least expensive thing that was on the menu but that didn’t stop me from serving it on the best dishes, slicing up strawberries and chocolate and making it a dinner fit for a king!  After all, the extra plate made me realize that I would be indeed in the presence of royalty.  When they entered the room the woman was overwhelmed with his kind gestures and had tears in her eyes.  She pulled out a lace hankie and dabbed her eyes daintily.  It was so moving to see two people so much in love. For two hours I served them with joy always mindful of the extra plate on the table.  When they started to leave he winked at me and said that they would be back for their first anniversary. I believe that Marvin and Edna will have a strong marriage as long as Jesus is the third chord that will bind them together. 

 

 Ecclesiastes 4:12 (New International Version)

 12 Though one may be overpowered,
 two can defend themselves.
 A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

 

For those of you that don’t have a Facebook, I thought you might want to see something my wife, Sharon, posted.  It’s a thing that’s floating around Facebook that tells you to write 25 random things about yourself.  Here’s her’s:

 

1.  Growing up I said I’d never get married and definitely never have children. 

2.  God knew what was best for me, and I got married at 18, had Brian when I was 23 on the 25th and Stephanie when I was 25 on the 23rd.  He’ll be 25 this year and she’ll be 23.  Brian was 3 weeks late and Stephanie was 3 weeks early.

3.  My grandmother was my hero.

4.  I now have 4 children and after Feb. 25th, they will be 22, 23, 24 and 25.

5.  I used to have a Great Dane and a miniature horse.

6.  I’ve always wished I could play the drums.

7.  Brian is my favorite son.  Stephanie is my favorite daughter.  Susan is my favorite daughter-in-law and Chris (a.k.a. Topher) is my favorite son-in-law.

8.  I was once in a talent show and did a dance to Hot Pants.

9.  My family is my greatest joy.

10.  Rob and I met at a Christian radio station where he was the DJ and I was the secretary.  He found out our birthday is on the same day and said we should celebrate together.  And we’re still celebrating.

11.  I love the trampoline and used to do flips, etc. but now I’m afraid if I do that I’ll break.

12.  Rob and I went through a tornado in Fort Payne, AL, in 1983 where our mobile home became mobile w/us in it.  God had his hand on it because ours was the first home left standing.

13.  I get really annoyed at circular breathing people – the kind that go on and on talking and don’t get a clue that it’s not all about them.

14.  In 1984, we went through a hurricane in Foley, AL, while visiting my grandparents.  I learned that whenever you’re near the coast and one is coming, you should go north…WAY north.

15.  One of my pet peeves is people who tell you they’re going to do something and don’t.  Basically they’re telling you what they think you want to hear or what makes them look good.

16.  I became a Christian when I was 9 and my youth group was my refuge and peace when I was a teenager.

17.  I hate cold.

18.  I like routine.

19.  My niece, Crystal, killed herself last year and my heart may never fully heal.

20.  I love music.

21.  I don’t understand controlling, bossy people and don’t like to be around them.

22.  I love deep, meaning-of-life type conversations and stories.

 23.  After 29 years of marriage, Rob is still the one.

24.  Basically my dreams have come true including many I didn’t know I had.

25.  If given the chance to go back to when I was younger, I wouldn’t take it.  I’ll keep my wrinkles, gray hair and failing body.

 

 

So good to hear your voice

Posted: February 13, 2009 in Candle Lights

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Our hearts are warmed by the sound of a loved one’s voice.  The soothing tone in a mother’s voice will chase away the pain.  The reassuring sound of a father’s voice can calm the fears of the night.  The lively sound of a child’s voice will bring joy to the hearts of his parents.

 

 My son would tell me that he could hear me in a crowd.  It did not matter what sporting event that he was participating in, he said that he could hear me cheering him on.  Now, I don’t know if he meant that I was the loudest fan in the stands or it if had to do with the fact that he knew my voice.  The other people there were strangers, but he was my child.  We spent a lot of time together, and he knew me.

 

As children of the Good Shepherd (John 10), we can know His voice.  We learn to recognize His voice by spending time with Him and studying His Word.  To Jesus, we are not just another runner in the race of life.  We are His children!  No matter how loud the crowd is along the way, we can hear His voice.

 

Oh, how I miss the sound of the voices of my loved ones who have gone Home.  When I want to hear them, I press play on life’s recorder, and listen with the ears of my heart.  It will be good to hear their voices again in Heaven.

 

On this side of Glory, I have not heard the audible voice of Jesus, but I hear Him in my spirit.  Someday, my ears will hear Him call me, and I can only imagine how good it will be to hear His voice.

Cool Cars!

Posted: February 8, 2009 in Cool Cars!, Videos

our_cars_bannerWhat is it about cars that fascinates us so much?  Like my son, Brian, in this photo, we can’t wait to become 16 to get our license and hit the road.  For me, it was 1969, right in the heart of the muscle car era.  I was sad when they became extinct in 1975, but I’m excited to see them come back to life in the new Mustang, Camaro, and Challenger.  Long live the pony cars!

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 Do you like cars?  Have you owned any cool cars?  Then stick around!

 

Send me up to six photos of favorite cars you have owned and one of your dream car and I will post them for all to admire.  Send them to RBeaird@comcast.net

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Be on the lookout for the car of the month!

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In the meantime, I will start us off with a few of my own…

 

2a

I bought my first car in 1971.  It was this ’65 Mustang.  289 V8 and three on the floor.  Karen, do you remember when we got it up to 103 mph?

Three years later I bought my first new car, the ’74 Mustang II on the left.

 

3a

 

 

 

 

A few years later I had to sell the Mustang II so I could go back to college.  I sold it to my parents and bought this ’67 convertible from Deb, my sister.  I had to keep my gloves on during the winter since the rag top could not shield me from the cold Chicago weather.  It also had a floor mounted windshield washer pump sprayer, which worked fine until it went right through the rusty floor, another victim of the northern state!

 

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Remember the Javelin, American Motors’s pony car?  The underdog actually ruled the Trans-AM racing series in 1971 and 72.  It featured a wrap around cockpit, a usable back seat and ride quality that beat the competition, not to mention beautiful styling.  I had to sell it soon after we got married, however, because we couldn’t afford it averaging only 13 mpg.

 

5a

After 15 years and 11 company cars later,  I got a new job that allowed me to buy whatever I wanted, so I got this ’93 Chevy Cavalier Z24 with a strong V6 mated to a fun 5 speed transmission.  Cheap thrills!

 

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30 years later, I had a convertible again.  More comfortable and warmer than my old Mustang, this car was great until the engine blew up on me!

 

 

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My Saturn Ion Redline delivers a nice blend of fun with practicality.  It’s supercharged engine gets me to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds and the 5 speed has a good feel with short throws.  It sticks to the road like glue but I feel every bump!  The back seats are easy to get to and I actually brought home a 10 foot weeping willow tree with the back seat folded down and the top of the tree sticking out the front passenger window!

 

 

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What I would like to own someday: The new Dodge Challenger

 

___84_fiero2What I would like to restore one day: ’84-’88 Pontiac mid-engine Fiero

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This 3 minute video I put together full of chase scenes from 16 movies should help kick things off for us! 

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Eleventh in the series Get Close to God

 

The father was desperate.  The disciples could not cast the demon out of his son.  Now it was the Teacher’s turn, who was clearly frustrated with them as he said, “O, unbelieving generation, how long shall I put up with you?  Bring him to me.”  The father then asks Jesus, “If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”  “If you can?!” Jesus replied, “All things are possible to him who believes.”  The man then cried out, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

Where are you in your spiritual journey?  Are you living the adventure of the spirit filled life or are you mired in the quicksand of doubt and despair?  Doubt is actually an ingredient required to move us to a higher level of trust in the Lord.  Without doubt, faith is not needed.

What matters is what we do with our doubts.  Are we going to let them hold us back or spur us on to pursue God?  I could give you many good reasons to believe in God, but like Jesus explained in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, you “will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.”

If you’re searching to find proof that God exists before you take a leap of faith, then you’ll never find him or the truth.  Besides, even if I could provide the evidence you require, then you couldn’t be saved because you would no longer be able to use faith that leads to salvation.

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The only way to know for sure about God is to try him out for yourself.

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 Ask God to show himself to you, to speak to you in some way, to meet you where you are.  Then bury yourself in his word.  If you do this, I guarantee you will find him.  Don’t take my word for it – take his:

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Seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.  (Deuteronomy 4:29)

The Lord is with you when you are with Him.  And if you seek Him, He will let you find Him.  (2 Chronicles 15:2)

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I believe there are different levels of doubt that require corresponding levels of faith to overcome.  After you come to believe in God, you must then believe he is all-powerful.  This is where the boy’s father was struggling in Mark 9.  The next step is to believe that God cares about you and will answer your prayers.  This is where a lot of us, including myself, get stuck.  We want to know why God allows evil to exist, why he helps some and not others, why he heals some and not others. 

Today I went to a funeral for a friend who lost his 3 year old battle with cancer.  Actually he won, since Brad is now with the Lord.  But to his wife and his 15 year old daughter, and the rest of us, there is definitely a loss.  We asked God not to take him from us, but he did.  Brad’s life was a testimony to one sold out to Jesus, and his passion for the Lord even up to the very end was an inspiration to all of us.  But now Karen and Lauren will have to learn to carry on without him.

You’ve got two choices when faced with the dilemma of not understanding God’s logic: get angry and give up on him or trust him in spite of circumstances that don’t make sense.   I don’t know why God set things up this way, why he doesn’t just show himself and stop being so aloof.  Instead, he seems to take great pleasure out of seeing us trust him:

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Without faith it is impossible to please God.  (Hebrews 11:6)

Because you have seen me, have you believed?  Blessed are they who have not seen and yet have believed.  (Jesus speaking to Thomas in John 20)

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Another stumbling block to our faith is letting other people’s shortcomings get in our way.  I’ve heard it said that if you let a hypocrite get between you and God, then he is closer to God than you are!  Then again, just saying “I’m not perfect, just forgiven” doesn’t let a stumbling blocker off the hook, either.

I used to think that our beliefs were simply the state of mind of what we thought to be true at any given time.  But if that is correct, why do the scriptures tell us over and over again to believe in God to be saved or to get what we pray for?  The word “believe” is a verb.  The very act of believing unlocks the power of God, while unbelief holds it back.  When Jesus came to his hometown, he didn’t do many miracles there because of their unbelief.

I remember a line from an episode of the science fiction show Andromeda:

“Those who don’t believe cannot find an explanation for a miracle, and those who believe don’t need one.” 

To quote another character in a TV show, Robinson Crusoe’s friend, Friday, said:

“You cannot choose what happens in places you cannot see, but you can choose to believe what you want to believe.”

Sooner or later we all come to a crisis of belief; a spiritual marker, that forces us to go beyond our upbringing and make our faith our own.  We can choose to worship the intelligent designer or believe it all just happened.  Both of these roads require faith to travel but only one leads to heaven.

I’ve discovered that my degrees of doubt or belief in God are directly proportional to my efforts at pursuing a relationship with Christ.  As I get to know him he becomes more real to me and my doubts melt away. 

I would like to leave you with the chorus of one of the hymns we sang at Brad’s funeral, ‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus:

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Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!  How I’ve proved him o’er and o’er.  Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!  O for grace to trust Him more!

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He really does help our unbelief! 

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Soul Windows

Posted: February 2, 2009 in Candle Lights

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ideden2I have always loved the paintings of the large-eyed children that were so popular in the 60s, so when my friend was getting rid of Eden’s Skater, I took her home with me.

 

 

The painting leans against the wall behind my printer.  The most striking things about the girl in the painting are her large, empty eyes.  It has been said that the eyes are the windows of the soul.  Her eyes speak of sadness in her soul.  It is a sadness that only she feels.  The darkness of her eyes reveals a darkness of her soul.

 

When I look at the painting I think of folks that I know who have empty eyes.  Their eyes are looking but not seeing.  They are staring into the theater of life but not seeing the play.  They are watching the dancers but not seeing the dance.  Eyes open but closed to life’s light.

 

Eyes that are open but not seeing the light are walking in darkness.  Ronald Dunn describes the darkness as a time when we do not feel or have a sense of God’s presence in our lives.  Isaiah 50:10 addresses walking in darkness with no light.  Darkness comes even to the child of God.

 

Despair, depression, and the death of our dreams can turn the lights out and then the darkness whispers to us that no one, including God, knows or cares how we feel.  When the lights go out, darkness always follows, but it does not have to remain.  Empty eyes reveal empty and broken vessels, but Jesus can repair broken vessels and fill them once again.

 

Gideon’s army carried empty pitchers with torches in them.  The enemy did not see the torches until the pitchers were broken (Judges 7:20).  Sometimes it takes the breaking of the vessel to reveal the Light within.  So, Dear Lord, help us to trust in your name and rely on You when we are walking in the darkness.