Saturday, June 30- Why? Can You Make It HOTTER?

     Are you familiar with George Wallace? You might well be thinking about the late Alabama governor who was a very polarizing figure. That is NOT the George Wallace of whom I speak. The George Wallace I am referring to is the one in the picture. He is a comedian/actor who is really pretty funny.
     I was thinking of George Wallace (again- the comedian, not the governor) recently. It was hot two days ago. I’m talking hot. Like…HOT! You know- “heat index of 107 degrees” kind of hot. And as I stood out in that NASTY heat, waiting for two dogs to…do their business…and wondering what wrong turn in my life had me standing in 108 degree heat index waiting for dogs to…do their business…I thought of George Wallace. I once heard him say, “Don’t you hate it when someone comes up to you and says, ‘Is it hot enough for you?’ Is it HOT enough for me? Why? Can you make it HOTTER?”
     The obvious answer to Mr. Wallace’s (the comedian, not the governor) question is, “No.” Of course we can’t make it hotter. (And why would we? I have spent 51 summers in Illinois, and EVERY July I ask myself WHY I live in Illinois!) But we complain about it. We worry about it. We fuss over it. And yet…we can’t do anything about it.
     We tend to approach life that way. We worry, stress, fret and stew over all sorts of things in life. We are constantly concerned about something that hasn’t happened yet. We let it eat us up inside. It interferes with our relationships. It even negatively impacts our health. And yet…we worry. But the reality is that the VAST majority of things we worry about never even happen. We put ourselves through H-E-DOUBLE HOCKEY STICKS for nothing.
     And what does jesus say about the whole thing? He asks, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” What an EXCELLENT question! Can we add even one minute to our lives through worry? No! So…don’t worry. Give your troubles and concerns over to Jesus and be confident that He’s got it!
     Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!
  Tomorrow- Which is the Greatest?

Friday, June 29- Music Truly IS the Universal Language

     It all started when I was 10 years old. The band director from the local Junior High (Middle School Fiddle School! Back in MY day, we had Junior Highs…and we LIKED it!) came to my Grade School to recruit new musicians. He brought some students and their instruments along and had each of them demonstrate what their particular instrument could do. He then went instrument by instrument and asked if there were kids who wanted to play that instrument.
     Well, I had wanted to play the drums since I was old enough to know better! It just looked like it would be awesome! (Turns out…I was right!) So, when he got to the drums, my hand SHOT up! And just like that, I was a drummer! My mom was a little surprised when I got home from school and told her that I had signed up to play drums without asking, but she let me do it anyway.
     I played in band all through Junior High and High School. I also was in the Marching Band and the Pep Band. (Honestly, while I loved them all…Pep Band was my favorite!) Then I went away to college, to be an actor. But Freshman actors at that particular university weren’t allowed to…act. But the first show of the year was a musical, so I asked if I could be in the pit orchestra instead of having to be an usher. That started a chain reaction that had me play drums for 5 shows that year plus a musical review (a PAYING gig!) at a local restaurant. In fact, I played drums so much that year, most people thought I was a music major! Along the way through late High School and College, I also played in a municipal orchestra (ALSO a paying gig, and one that got me into the musician’s union!) for several years.
     Then, life got in the way and I went several years without really playing at all. That is, until I went into the ministry. Not long after I started, the church I was at wanted to start a Contemporary Service, but alas…they had no drummer. So I bought a cheap set and dove in. I played for about 6 years there before moving to my last church. I started a Contemporary Service there as well, so I played 8 years there.
     And now I find myself at a new church. On the FIRST full day in this new town, I went to band practice. I really went just to listen, but I got the chance to sit on a couple of numbers. It was a blast! And as I sat at the drums, playing one song I have played a bunch of times and one that I have never even heard, I thought about the old saying about music being the universal language. And guess what? It is! I had never played with these particular musicians and singers before, but there we were, cranking good music out. We didn’t have to know all about each other- we just had to love music and love God! And both of those things were abundantly evident.
     Without music, I would be an incomplete person. Music is a language that transcends race, color, age, gender and nationality. It reaches down, way past your brain, and touches your soul. There are few things that connect me to God AND others as powerfully as music does. That great theologian Don MacLean asked the question, “Can music save your mortal soul?” Forme, the answer is, “Yes!”
     Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus! 
 Tomorrow- Why? Can You Make It HOTTER?

Thursday, June 28- Oh. My. Goodness!

     Have you ever been overwhelmed by goodness? I have! Certainly it has happened in the past, but it has happened in spades in recent weeks!
     It started in earnest on the 10th of June. (It certainly began before that, but the REAL DEAL started then! That was the day my last church (Boy, that sounds STRANGE! I spent 8 years there…and now it’s my “last church”. Funny how that works.) had a going away celebration for me and my family. We did one BIG service (instead of the normal 3) that day. They presented us with some very generous gifts, showed pictures of us “though the years”, and then had a big potluck. (They even had a cake that mentioned something I say all the time in worship.) It was an amazing day- one I will always remember!
     Then my family began packing in earnest. And over the next two weeks, there was a steady stream of folks stopping by the church and/or our house with cookies, pies, dinner, all sorts of things. Then, on the day we moved, someone showed up with snickerdoodle cookies- they were GONE in nothing flat! Right up to the moment we pulled out of the driveway, people were well-wishing us. It was very humbling!
      Then we got to our NEW church…and the generosity simply continued. When we arrived at the new house, there was already food waiting for us in the fridge! Then, throughout the day as the moving van was unloaded, people kept stopping by with more food and well-wishes! After a LONG day of unloading, we settled in for th our first night in our new home.
    Bright and early the next morning, someone showed up with fresh, hot breakfast for us! There have been dinners, fruit baskets, cookies, pies…the list just keeps on coming. Yesterday, I had my first staff meeting at the new church. They are a REALLY good bunch of folks! Last night, I attended praise band practice. I had the extreme joy of sitting in on a couple of songs. They sound really good together!  
     The bottom line is this- both churches have been SO nice. My last church is grieving our leaving while welcoming their new pastor. My new church is grieving the loss of their last pastor, while welcoming THEIR new pastor…me! Both churches could have been, for different reasons, not very happy with us. One could be saying, “We’re mad at you for leaving” while the other could be saying, “We’re mad at you for replacing our pastor!” They COULD have…but they haven’t. They have both been incredibly gracious in the midst of difficulty. And that’s the way Christians SHOULD be- incredibly gracious. 
     How’s YOUR “grace quotient”? Are you showing all the grace you could be…should be? You might be saying, “But nobody ever shows ME grace!” Au contraire, mon frere! God has shown us more grace than we could possibly imagine, certainly more grace than we could ever deserve! God gives us grace…and encourages us to share it with others. So get out there and share that God-given grace, like a couple of churches who are near and dear to my heart have done!
    Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!
  Tomorrow- Music Truly IS the Universal Language