M1SS1ON Joplin- Day 4

     Busted flat in Baton Rouge…or at least Carl Junction! Yesterday I shared that the males sneaked our beds/belongings into another part of the church in which we are living in an effort to get better/more sleep. 2 things: 1. the first night was GREAT! We slept like babies! (You know, waking up every two hours, demanding to be fed!) BUT…yesterday we were BUSTED! Apparently moving to the rooms we chose was…shall we say…not an option! When we got back to the church yesterday, all our stuff had been moved out into the main area again! Oops! Oh well…we tried!

     Fortunately, that’s NOT yesterday’s highlight. We sent 3 work crews out for the day- one went to the  Distribution Center we have frequented all week, one went to a Christian publishing company to them move things from an old location to a new location, and one went out with Americorps to work clearing debris from the affected areas. For the first time since we got here, I went out with the Americorps folks. Oh my! First of all, it is VERY hard work! You show up at the stadium parking lot of the local university. From there, you take a bus to a staging area in the high school parking lot…the high school that was BADLY damaged by the tornado. Then, you get on another bus that takes you to the work site. We were dropped off at a street corner. (Someone  asked me where specifically I worked and I had to tell them I didn’t know- there are NO street signs left in that part of the city.) Then, the foreman of the crew explains the particulars of the job. (Some home owners haven’t given specific permission and so we had to stay out of the backyard and the foundation of the house. Then they explain how things are to be sorted-  metal in one pile, construction wood in another pile, tree wood in another, debris in another, hazardous in another, and any personal belonging that are found in yet another. Then they explain the safety rules- you HAVE to wear a mask. If you step on a nail (an INCREDIBLY easy thing to do out there), they have a nurse ON HAND who will give you a tetanus shot and clean and dress the wound. If you start feeling badly, they will call a bus for you and take you back to the staging area.
      There were easily 50 people in the crew that I was a part of. We attacked the house we were told to start  on, and by lunchtime, we had finished that house and the three next to it. Here is a picture of the area in which we worked yesterday.
     And BOY was it hot! The air  temperature reached 100 degrees…I shudder to think what the heat index was! They stress drinking lots of water and taking breaks when you need to. (I easily drank 15 or more bottles of water PLUS 4 bottles of Gatorade! Sometimes the pile of empty water bottles rivals the pile of debris! OK…maybe not!) The work consists of picking up the large pieces and hauling them to the curb, then shoveling the small pieces into a wheelbarrow and wheeling that to the curb. Periodically guys come by and pick up the scarp metal for salvage, and about once a day the Corp of Engineers comes through with this amazing machine that looks like to huge long dumpsters connected by a crane in the middle. They scoop up the debris that is on the curb and move on. 
     At lunchtime, they either bus you or have you walk (depending on the distance) to one of their sites (we ate at the Red Cross tent). We expected bologna and cheese sandwiches. But yesterday they served a beef roast, mashed potatoes, green beans and fruit salad. You have a choice of drink, fresh fruit, desserts, granola bars…you name it, it’s there for the taking. After about a 45 minute break, we walked back to the job site to continue working. (I was HARD to get motivated after a great lunch and 100 degree weather, let me tell you!) 
     Perhaps the hardest thing about the day, surprisingly enough, wasn’t the work itself (although it was hard). Perhaps the hardest thing was finding the personal belongings. And the strange thing is that we found lots of things at one house and basically nothing at the house next door. A child’s shoe. A doll. Scattered baseball cards. A Voter’s Registration card. Dishes. Clothes. Food. And maybe the hardest are the pictures. Pictures of little kids playing, not a care in the world. And as you look at those pictures, you wonder what happened to that little girl the night the tornado hit. Was she home? Was she scared? Did she survive? If she did, how traumatized is she? Will her life ever be the same? It’s almost overwhelming. These are the images that stick in your head, encouraging you to do all you can for these people while you’re here. And in the middle of all this devastation, we found a simple message of hope- a scraggly but determined rose bush, growing out of the foundation of a house, illustrating that hope and beauty can grow out of the ashes of tragedy.
     Today is our next-to-last full day here- we start back on Saturday morning. And while it will be great to get back in our own beds, I pray we don’t go back to our old lives. I pray that this experience and others like it will change us from who we were to who God calls us to be. That IS the beauty of mission work! Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!


     Tomorrow- M1SS1ON Joplin- Day 5

M1SS1ON Joplin- Day 3

     Like thieves in the night we moved. Skulking through the halls of the church in which we are living. Surreptitiously dragging belongings down endless hallways. Why? Because…THEY are coming! We heard a rumor last night that a new group was coming in to live among us…at ONE in the morning!! It’s hard enough to sleep with the guys who get up at 4:45 every morning…ONLY after they let their alarms sound for 30 minutes. It’s hard enough to sleep when they yell at each other across the sleeping area at 5:05 every morning to see if they’re ready. It’s hard enough to sleep when EVERY time some middle-aged man (like myself!), gets up and goes to the bathroom in the middle of the night, opening the bathroom door and momentarily flooding the room with light. It’s hard enough to sleep when the ladies (dear, SWEET ladies) who come in to fix our breakfast every morning start banging pots and pans and catching up on all the latest gossip at 6AM. Now a NEW group is coming in…at ONE in the MORNING?! The madness must end. So…we waited until the church staff left and went on a reconnaissance mission, boldly go where no mission worker has goner before, bravely scouting out as yet undiscovered territory in which to lay our precious, sleep-deprived heads at night! And…and…and…VICTORY! We found the promised land, which is why we have been skulking through the halls of the church with our bedding and belongings. The reality is that sleep is to a mission trip as cigarettes are to a prison- a valuable commodity. And the further into the week you go, the harder you will try for a decent night’s sleep. Which is why I slept RIGHT NEXT to a puppet theater last night. Oh, and by the way…it was heaven!!

     We had another great day yesterday. Some of us went back to the Distribution Center to help displaced folks get much needed supplies. I put one of my hobbies into play and spent the day in the kitchen, helping cook lunch for the volunteers. (I made tubular noodles in a Velveeta reduction…please to enjoy!) Others from our group went out with Americorps, clearing debris. Still others went to a man’s house and helped him carry his house…yes, his house…piece by piece to the curb so that the proper authorities can come and cart it off. Here is a picture of just a small portion of the effected area. It truly looks like a war zone.

      We arrived back “home” a bit more tired and a bit more touched by God…and with a tray full of Chick-Fil-A sandwiches for dinner!!
     But the best part of the day, at least for me, was after dinner. My cousin, who was one of thousands of people displaced by the tornado here, came with part of her family to visit and share their story. Theirs is a powerful and moving story of “what if” and “almost was”. They barely survived the storm, and a number of events happened in those few precious minutes that, had they happened the least little way differently, they would have NOT survived. Two things struck me about their visit- 1. it was great to see her and spend a little tile with her, and 2. her family’s faith, in the midst of overwhelming circumstances, was SO obvious. I also think it is what has helping them get through this. I have heard SO many people here, time and time again, tell me, with absolute certainty, that God is with them and will see them through. The faith and spirit of this community is truly remarkable! 
     The folks on the trip with me have been nothing short of amazing. They have done everything that has been asked of them…and so much more. There have been times when we weren’t sure what we would be doing the next day, the next hour, the next minute. There have been times when we weren’t sure what or where dinner would be. There have been times when 6 people were already ahead of you in line for the shower and hot water seemed but a memory. But through it all…they have been steadfast and faithful. My experience is that this sort of activity just brings out the best in people. They step up and do what is needed, and they do with a smile on their face and the spirit of God in their heart!

     Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow for another M1SS1ON update AND…stick with Jesus!

     Tomorrow- M1SS1ON Joplin- Day 4

M1SS1ON Joplin- Day 2

     We survived! Yesterday was a long day, a hard day…a GREAT day! Somebody was texting where the guys slept…until 2 in the morning! (It was GREAT to hear that “boop, boop, beep, boop” for half the night!) Then, that same guy’s alarm went off at 4AM, and because he had stayed up so late texting, he slept right through his alarm! But the REST of us heard it!! Someone from our group finally got up and shut the guy’s phone off! (He was STILL asleep at 8AM when we left! Oops!) 

     5 from our group went to work with Americorps. They met at the university in Joplin, got on a bus and went to various job sites. Our folks spent the day moving broken rock and brick…creating a “wall” 6′ high and 25′ long! They were wiped OUT when they got back! The rest of the group went to a survivor distribution center set up at a church in Joplin. It was a relatively well-oiled machine. They have a number of large tents (the type you would have for a wedding reception); each one had a different type of supplies. I worked in the Cleaning Supply tent most of the day…at least when I wasn’t doing Parking Patrol- helping folks who arrived know where they should head. It is truly amazing what people in Joplin need that we take SO much for granted- dish soap, paper towels, laundry detergent, pillows. 
     The best thing about working at the Distribution Center was getting to meet the people and hear their stories. And they really want…perhaps need…to tell their stories. There was Luke, who took his handicapped wife and grandkids down into the storm cellar when the storm hit. When they emerged…their house was simply gone from over the top of them. And yet, in the midst of such devastation, Luke still has the faith to tell me that God has blessed him so much. Amazing! Then there was Teresa, who lived in a trailer park. The park HAS a storm cellar…but the owner doesn’t maintain it so it had 3′ of water AND snakes in it! She, her daughter and her son-in-law threw the grandkids in the car and literally drove as fast as the car would take them to WalMart, which was the nearest place they could get to. Her grandkids were being pulled off the ground as they ran, hand in hand, into the store. She has nothing left, but she still thanks God for a family that is alive. “I can get a new house!” Amazing!
     After working ALL day, 12 of us loaded into the church van and drove through the area devastated by the tornado. Block after block of…nothing. It looked like a war zone. Not a single building left truly standing. Not one tree with bark or limbs left on it. The hospital was devastated. The high school. Churches. Homes. Businesses. Lives…randomly and indiscriminately wiped off the face of the map. It was hard to even picture that this had once been a community with families carving out a life. Family photos strewn among the debris. A desk chair standing alone in the middle of a clear spot. Part of a bed. And the debris. And this is all after a month…a MONTH of recovery efforts. I truly can’t imagine what it looked like that 1st morning after. Tears ran down my cheeks as I drove a van full of silent youth and adults through what seemed like post World War 2 Germany. In fact, tears well up as I write this…the emotions are so strong. 
     If you think your life sucks…come to a place like Joplin, MO…even for just one day- roll your sleeves up, work hard…and talk to the people. I guarantee by the end of the 1st day life will seem s whole lot better by comparison. As I said, yesterday- you come to a place like this expecting to touch people’s lives…but you go away having YOUR life touch in a much greater way! Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow for another M1SS1ON update AND…stick with Jesus!


     Tomorrow- M1SS1ON Joplin- Day 3

M1SS1ON Joplin- Day 1

     Well…we made it! 17 of us left the church at noon yesterday…and we drove! And drove! And drove! We stopping in…somewhere…for gas and bathrooms. Then, about 2 hours later, we stopped in…somewhere else…for dinner. We dined at a very fancy restaurant…McDonalds! (It was VERY special! I recommend the Big Mac…VERY continental!) Then, about 10 minutes before we got to our destination, I got a text that someone in another car had to “use the facilities”! (I’ll be honest- I thought to myself, “You have GOT to be kidding! Couldn’t they wait 10 more minutes!) But we stopped…only to find out that the text had been sent…THREE HOURS BEFORE! I had JUST received it! So we got back on the highway and finished the trip. 

     We arrived in Carl Junction, MO (it’s just a skip and a jump from Joplin) about 8:30PM. We are staying in a Christian Church (is it OK for Methodists to stay in a CHRISTIAN Church? I’ll need to look into that one!), so we found who we needed to find and began to settle in…as it were! The males are sleeping in the gym…one large room separated by  a 6′ portable wall. We BARELY found room among those who are already here to set up our cots and stow our gear. The females are on the 2nd floor…they have their own room! BUT…I have been told that they are quite…CLOSE! There appears to be about 50 people already living in this church, along with the 17 we added last night. I am fortunate that the church has WiFi…I am sitting in the “church library” writing this!
     After we got settled, we met as a group to make plans for the morning. Today, 5 of us are headed out to a college in Joplin to work with Americore- they will be part of larger work crews cleaning up debris. The rest of us will head to another Christian Church, this one is IN Joplin, where we will work in a Distribution center that has been set up there. Folks from the area who have been displaced by the tornado, and there a LOT of them, come to this center for basic needs- food, water, personal items, etc.  We will work in a variety of jobs there, including cooking for the volunteers. 
     I have been leading Mission Trips for as long as I’ve been in the ministry, and yet I NEVER cease to be amazed at the willingness of people to roll up their sleeves and help others. It is truly amazing and inspiring. The other thing that continually amazes me about these trips is that everyone leaves home planning on “helping people”…and they do. But by the time the head back home, they realize they have received MUCH more than they gave! THAT is the beauty of mission work!
     Thank you for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and keep us in your prayers, come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!



Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow for another M1SS1ON update AND…stick with Jesus!


     Tomorrow- M1SS1ON Joplin- Day 2

God Is Here

         Recently
I was interviewed on the noon news program of a local TV station regarding a
benefit for a local family. It was a pretty simple, straightforward thing-
about 2 ½ minutes. no big whoop. A couple days later, I walked into the local
IGA in my shorts, t-shirt and baseball cap to get a few groceries. As I
walked in the front door, I ran into a high school kid who works there. He
stopped, pointed at me, and just…stared. I was a bit…confused…so I just
smiled. Then he said, “Weren’t you…weren’t you…you know…on TV?!” I
allowed as how…yes…I had been, a couple of days ago. “I SAW you! You’re the
pastor! I SAW you!” He walked away smiling. I just didn’t know what to do with
that…but it DID remind me of a Mission Trip I went on once. We were in the hills
of North Carolina. One day. we tore an old porch off a house and built a new
one. I am NOT all that handy, but no one else in my crew was handy…AT ALL.
Therefore, late in the day, as we were finishing up, the matriarch of the
family said to me, “You’re a good carpenter!” I chuckled, thanked her and said,
“Even a sparrow appears as an eagle when there are no other birds!” 

    Today
we begin a new sermon series called God Is… This series looks at the person
of God…who God is, and how He can transform our lives. Today we consider the
fact that the most basic truth is also the easiest to forget. And that truth is
that God is here. And you say, “Well…DUH! Kind of obvious, isn’t it pastor?”
But I would argue that no, it’s isn’t always that obvious. When electricity was
just becoming available in rural areas, a woman went to great trouble and
expense to have electricity installed in her home. A few months later, the
power company noticed the home didn’t use very much power. Fearing there was a
problem, they sent someone out to check. The power was indeed working properly
and so he asked the woman, “Do you use your electricity?” The woman replied,
“Of course we do. We turn it on every night…so we can see to light our oil
lamps…then we turn it off!”

    Sounds
ridiculous, doesn’t it- having all the power you need AND the ability to tap
into it any time you want, but only using just enough to “get by”? We’d NEVER
do anything like that…because it wouldn’t make sense…right? But the reality
is that we do the exact same thing all too often. We go to church and we worship…but
we often have minimal  relationship with God the rest of the week. We face
difficulties every day, but only when we are at the end of our rope do we ask
for God’s help. We have the power of God at our disposal ALL the time, but over
and over we try to get by on our own strength. Perhaps we’re a lot more like
the woman who wouldn’t use her electricity than we would like to admit. Just
like electricity, when we remove the presence of God from our lives we remove
God’s power as well. What does the Bible say about God’s presence?

    Luke
17:20-21- Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God
would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something
that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’
because the kingdom of God is in your midst.”

     Being in the presence of celebrities
does interesting things to people…like the kid at the IGA!! Years ago, I was
the
Business Manager at the
Westport Playhouse in St. Louis. We booked shows in, produced our own shows,
and also booked celebrities in for weekend shows. Since I was the Business Manager,
I paid all these celebrities. So they would come looking for me! Folks like
Pearl Bailey, Tennessee Ernie Ford, the Amazing Kreskin and Jay Leno would show
up at my desk, looking for rather large checks! I wasn’t that impressed by
their presence. But many people get goofy in the presence of “the famous”. Brad Pitt
got to see that 
first hand. A bouncer at a promotional event for his
movie
The Strange Case of Benjamin Button failed to recognize him and
pinned him to a wall. The guard pulled Pitt out of a crowd of photographers who
had infiltrated a secure area and spun him around “quickly and
aggressively,” according to the the
New York Post. Once he realized
who he had grabbed, the guard apologized and ushered Pitt into the theater for
a Q&A session about the movie
. Pitt laughed it off as “just
another day in the life”.

    
The Bible is full of people who felt unqualified or simply did not
want to do what God was calling them to do. Moses was a reluctant follower.
“Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of
Egypt?” It took Samuel 3 tries before he realized God was calling him to
service. Isaiah was a reluctant prophet- “I am a man of unclean lips, and
I live among a people of unclean lips.” Jeremiah talked about his
unworthiness to answer God’s call: “Lord God! Truly I do not know how to
speak, for I am only a boy.” And yet they each came to recognize
God’s presence and that motivated them to answer the call that was before them.

    
God doesn’t judge by appearance or even skill but instead looks
into the heart. God is not only present in the powerful, attractive and
authoritative. God is present in everybody…but we run the risk of missing God
if we’re not careful.
We have to be open to God’s presence and God’s
call. We can’t have any hope of holiness if we are not radically open to God. As
John Calvin said, we’re not worthy to stand before God. Yet, God accepts us for
who we are. God doesn’t call the equipped…God equips the called. He actually
chooses those who understand themselves to be unworthy.
 God provides that which is necessary to complete
the assigned task. So we have to step forward in faith, confident that God is
active in our world.

    
God’s call often feels like an interruption, a detour from daily
life. But it’s through a willingness to serve God, a willingness to change,
that our greatest opportunities for growth are found. God is all around
us…but are we open to that fact? God is present in the dawn each morning and
the dusk each evening. But God is most profoundly present in people…us AND
the folks we encounter every day.

    
But have you ever wondered whether God was REALLY present in your
life? Times are hard and the pain seems endless. You work long and hard every
day but there always seems to be too much month left at the end of the money.
And you cry, “God, where are you?”
God is always with us,
even during our most trying times. Here are three truths about God’s presence.

1. God always hears the
cries of His people. God is like a loving parent with a small child. When the
child cries, the parent hears…and responds. God hears our cries just like a
good parent because God cares. When things fail to go as planned, what do you
do…when you don’t know what to do? What do you do when the situation is
beyond human capabilities? When everything you’ve tried has failed, what do you
do? You cry to God…because God is here, and God is listening. God knows our
every hurt and disappointment and wants to help us.

2. God chooses His
people. We aren’t  announced
candidates elected by the people, but rather, chosen by God to serve.
Romans 10 says:
“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How, then,
can they call on the One they have not believed in? And how can they believe in
the One whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone
preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is
written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news…” The
certification of the servant doesn’t have to come from ordination or the laying
on of hands. We are authenticated as proclaimers of the Word when God says,
“Yes!”

3. God delivers when we
are obedient. God doesn’t find disobedience acceptable.
 He tells us to “go and make disciples of all
nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy
Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” And that’s
awesome! But then He adds those extremely important words- “surely I am with
you always, to the very end of the age.”
God is always with us,
but the benefit of God’s presence isn’t maximized until we acknowledge that
presence.

    A
pastor traveled often, and when he flew, he liked to be left alone. He didn’t
want to be pestered by the person sitting next to him, so he employed a simple
procedure. He would take out his Bible, open it, and set it in his lap…and
everyone left him alone!
How many of us come to church week after
week…and have no real experience with God? What’s the problem? The problem is
we settle for the status quo and leave our lives parked right there. But if we
settle for what we’ve already experienced with God, we can’t grow. When we
settle, we can’t move forward in our walk with Him. I’m here this morning to
say we simply can’t settle anymore!
People want a deep
relationship with God but don’t want to pay the price for it. Developing an
intimate relationship with God takes time and effort. It doesn’t happen
overnight.
If we want to have a deeper relationship with
God, we need to ask Him 3 things:

1. “Teach me Your ways.”
It’s only when we know the ways of God that we can truly follow Him.

2. “Let me know You.”
There’s a direct connection between knowing the ways of God and knowing God.
It’s only when we know God personally that we can be called His people.

3. “Let me live in Your
favor.” Once we know God’s ways and know God personally, then God’s favor can
rest on our lives. It’s impossible for you to have the divine favor of God in
your life if you don’t know God.
 When we do these things,
it opens our lives to the presence of God. When we strive to know God’s ways
and know God, He throws open the floodgates of heaven and pours out His divine
favor into our lives.

    God
created us to have a deep personal relationship with Him. He walked
with Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. Think about that- God literally walked…and
talked…with Adam and Eve. They were able to fully experience His presence.
God’s greatest desire is to have that same kind of relationship with you. He
wants you to walk in His presence.
Do you want to truly see
the majesty of God? Do you want to see Him without the barriers? Do you want to
see Him in all of His glory? Then you need to live daily in His presence. Are
you seeking more of God every day? The only thing holding you back from a
deeper experience with God is…you. God wants you to know Him more and
experience more of His presence. If you want more of God’s presence…ask Him
for it.

     Thanks for stopping by today- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus.

     Tomorrow- M1SS1ON Joplin- Day 1

All My Bags Are Packed, I’m Ready To Go

     Well, it’s finally here! Months ago, I began planning this year’s Mission Trip. Initially, we were to go to Manhattan, KS and work with folks through Kansas State University. The plans for that were coming along nicely and were pretty much all set. Then…life got in the way! The community of Joplin, MO was devastated by a tornado. (I lost one cousin and had several other relatives displaced.) Several of the folks who were going on the Mission Trip felt pulled to change course and go instead to Joplin. I hated to do that because we had already committed to the awesome folks in Kansas. But the more I prayed about it, the less I could ignore God’s call. SO I reluctantly contacted the folks in Kansas, told them of the news, apologized profusely, then began to go a new direction!

     Now…here we are. We leave tomorrow, right after church. “We” is 17 folks from my church- 8 women and 9 men, 6 youth and 11 adults. Tomorrow, we will load into 4 vehicles (including our 12-passenger church van) and “get your motor running, head out on the highway, looking for adventure, whatever comes our way. BORN TO BE WILD!” Oh…sorry…I got a bit carried away! But I’m better now! 
     We will drive as “straight through” as 17 people can drive, arrive in Joplin sometime tomorrow night and get settled in for the night. (We are sleeping in a church on cots that we are bringing.) Monday morning, we begin the adventure. Some of us will be working in a Distribution Center, set up to help provide daily needs for displaced folks. We will load, unload, stock, restock and even be “personal shoppers”, assisting folks as they gather their materials. Others of us will be going out with work crews, continuing the clean-up effort. In the evening, we will…well…I don’t really KNOW what we’ll do yet, but we’ll think of something constructive! Next Saturday, we’ll “pack it up and tear it down”, then head home, a bit more tired and a bit more connected to God!
     The amazing thing about being involved in mission work is that you go out with the intention of helping people- a noble plan. And you DO help people. BUT…in the end you realize that you GOT much more than you gave…no matter HOW much you gave!! If you feel God calling you to greater involvement, I would highly encourage you to take that leap of faith. You don’t have to start with a week-long trip into a devastated area. You could start with a couple of hours at the local food pantry, homeless shelter or other para-church  organization. They ALL could use the help and they would all welcome you. And as you do that work, pay attention to what it is doing…to you. You will notice that, as you help those other people, you will feel a change being to happen in you. And like a drug, it will make you want to do more so that you can experience more of that change. It’s a GREAT cycle of change and spiritual growth. Step out and try it!
     Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back for the next several days to keep up with our trip, and stick with Jesus!

     Tomorrow- God is here!

The Night the Lights Went Out In…Central Illinois!

     “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia”…. remember that song? OK…but do you remember who SANG it? Ah! It was…ready?…none other than Vicki Lawrence of the Carol Burnett Show and Mama’s Family fame. Who’da thunk it? 

     There is a Saturday Night Live skit that features Will Ferrell. (I know, “That doesn’t narrow it much, pastor! Give me a chance…will ya’?”) In this skit (see, I’m getting to it!) Ferrell plays the anchor of a local morning news program. In the middle of the broadcast, the teleprompter (the thing they read their lines off of) goes out suddenly, and none of the “on-air talent” knows what to do, or more  importantly, to say! Chaos ensues and the broadcast, in true SNL fashion, decays into mayhem. A “Lord of the Flies”-type tribe emerges, ON THE AIR (remember, this is Saturday Night Live!) named The Order of the Hand, fires get lit, people die…it’s not a pretty sight! At different times in the skit, Ferrell proclaims, “The weatherman is dead!” and “The Order of the Hand rules!” Then, just as quickly as it stopped working, the teleprompter starts up again, and the on-air talent that survived the ordeal is horrified over what has happened. 
     We laugh at things like that (or at least I laugh at things like that!), but there is some truth behind that wild skit. Case in point- our power went out the other night. We were out running some errands when a pretty bad storm hit. When we finally made it home about 7PM, we were greeted with no electricity. The Dairy Queen just across the way had power and the high school over there had power, but our neighborhood was…DARK! We made our way into the house, lit some candles, grabbed some flashlights and waited. No lights. No air conditioner. No TV. No…nothing, seemingly. My cell phone and my IPad both were charged, but my phone is a battery hog and so I was hesitant to use it any more than I had to, not knowing how long the power would be out. And while my IPad worked, I could get on the internet (the router, of course was out because…NO POWER!), so my options were a bit limited there. (I mean really…how many games of Spider Solitaire can you actually play?!) 
     Over the next several hours, I found myself looking longingly across the main road at Dairy Queen, wishing I, like them, could have the luxury of electricity! At one point I even muttered, “The weatherman is dead. The Order of the Hand rules!” It is so…isolating to be in that position. And you suddenly realize just how much we take things like electricity for granted- they are always there, but woe to them when they are NOT! I fear that’s the way we treat God, often. We just take for granted He’s there, keeping the lights on and the air conditioner running (so to speak!). But then, something happens and there we are demanding to know where God was in the midst of all of it. And when the crisis is over, we go right back to taking Him for granted. 
     I would like to encourage you to take a moment today to BE AWARE of God in your life. Make a short list of some of the things God does for you every day. Then…thank Him for them. Instead if sitting at the window of life, pining over the fact that others are out there living, we need to make sure we’re “in the game” (spiritually speaking) every day! Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

     Tomorrow- All My Bags Are Packed, I’m Ready To Go!