6 Steps to Grace: Repenting

6 Steps to Grace Main

    A drunk man who smelled like beer sat down on a subway seat next to a priest. The man’s tie was stained, his face was plastered with red lipstick, and a half empty bottle of gin was sticking out of his torn coat pocket. He opened his newspaper and began reading. After a few minutes the man turned to the priest and asked, “Say, Father, what causes arthritis?” “My Son, it’s caused by loose living, being with cheap, wicked women, too much alcohol, and a contempt for your fellow man.”

Well, I’ll be!” the drunk muttered, returning to his paper. The priest, thinking about what he had said, nudged the man and apologized. “I’m very sorry. I didn’t mean to come on so strong. How long have you had arthritis?” “I don’t have it, Father. I was just reading here that the Pope does.”

    Tonight, we continue our current Sunday evening sermon series- 6 Steps of Grace. Author Max Lucado says, “The meaning of life. The wasted years of life. The poor choices of life. God answers the mess of life with one word: ‘grace.’” Grace is  the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.

    Over these 6 weeks, we are walking along the spiritual timeline of God’s grace- what it looks like and how we achieve it. 6 steps that, if followed, lead to a better awareness of, appreciation for and connection to God’s grace. The first week, we focused on the fact that the first stop on that timeline was hearing. Not simply listening…but hearing. Last week, we looked at believing. Hearing is essential…but it’s not enough. We have to also believe. Faith is the key that unlocks the door.

    Once we have heard and believed, the next step is becoming aware of our sins- repenting.

Question #1- How would YOU define “repentance”?

Dictionary.com defines repentance as “feeling sincere regret or remorse about one’s wrongdoing or sin.” So repentance centers on awareness- awareness that what we are doing is sinful- not pleasing to God and contrary to His ways. There’s nothing heavier than the weight of sin in our lives. It’s debilitating. It’s crushing. What a relief to know that the burden can be lifted if we repent. We come to God to be cleansed of our sins.

Question #2- Is repentance necessary for forgiveness?

    Luke 5:29-32 Then Levi gave a huge dinner for Jesus at his house. A large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. But the Pharisees and their teachers of the law complained to Jesus’ disciples. They said, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” Jesus answered them, “Those who are healthy don’t need a doctor. Sick people do. I have not come to get those who think they are right with God to follow me. I have come to get sinners to turn away from their sins.”

    A young woman had a really tough final exam scheduled for the next day in her religion class. So she did what every self-respecting college student does- she studied all night. When she arrived at class the next morning, the teacher walked in and said, “Let’s do a quick review before the test.” As the class reviewed, the professor soon brought up issues the young woman knew they hadn’t covered in class. Her hand went up, “We didn’t cover that information before.” The teacher picked up the text book and said, “Everything we are talking about is in the book. And as we stated at the beginning of the semester, you are responsible for everything in the book.” Sadly, no one in the class could argue with that, as much as they wanted to!

   Then- it was time to take the test. He had the class put everything away except for a writing utensil. He then began to pass out the test. And as it was being passed out, the professor said, “Leave your test face down on the desk. I’ll tell you when to turn it over and start.” Two minutes later, the tests were all handed out and the class heard those fearful and fateful words, “You may begin.” When the young woman turned the test over, she was amazed to find that…every answer was already filled in! The test was…done. A note at the bottom of the last page said, “Your Final Exam is now over. All your answers are correct. You have been blessed with an ’A’ on your final exam.” The young woman looked around the room- several other students had found the note at the back of the test  and all looked as astonished as she felt! Once everyone was looking at him, the professor simply said, “You passed the test for one reason and one reason only- the one who created the test took it for you. You have just experienced…GRACE.” Grace is unmerited favour, getting something we don’t deserve.

    We often fail to do what we truly believe in. Instead, we do what is convenient, then repent. Likewise, many people repent of their sins by thanking God that they aren’t as wicked as their neighbors.

    But true repentance is making a U-turn. The word “repent” in the Greek- metanoeó- literally means to change your mind. It’s to turn away from doing something wrong. It’s NOT repentance if it doesn’t include actually stopping the bad behavior. To truly repent of something, you need to go into deep into the corners of your heart, open it wide, expose it to the bright light of day and force yourself to deal with it.

    Repentance isn’t a way of twisting God’s arm so that He’ll forgive us. It’s not about saying the right words and doing the right actions so that God will obey us and forgive us. It’s important to understand that repentance, in and of itself, isn’t enough…and it doesn’t demand a response from God. It requires the next step, which we’ll look at next week- confession.

    Repentance is a movement of God’s Holy Spirit. And repentance is nothing short of a miracle. When we repent of our wrongdoing, it’s the first step toward God helping us get back where we should have been in the first place.

Question #3- How do you know when something you have done…or left undone…requires repentance?

    Giant of the faith Martin Luther said, “Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that a man could stake his life on it a thousand times.”

    Be thankful that Jesus is still knocking at the door of your heart. For some, He’s been knocking so long that His knuckles are calloused. I think he’s worn impressions of his knuckles on our heart’s doors! Often, God knocks on our heart, encouraging us to open up to Him. Sadly, the only response He sees is the shades going down and the blinds closing. God promises that if we get serious and repent, if we will simply open the door…He’ll come in and change us.

    No matter how far we run from God, Jesus continues to knock at the door of our heart. The longer we ignore the knock, the harder it is for us to respond to it. Is Jesus knocking on the door of your heart? Is there something in your life that you need to repent of? Repent of your sins and stop doing the things that you used to do. We have God’s promise that when we repent, He’ll forgive us and cleanse us of all unrighteousness.

A Bunch of Hypocrites!

hypocrite

    Ministry is an interesting thing. It’s a job…but it’s a calling. It’s a profession…but it’s way of life. It’s about leadership…but it’s about servanthood. In know that to be true. I can’t say I’ve ALWAYS known it. Before I went into the ministry, I had NO idea what ministry was all about. Oh, I THOUGHT I did…but I was wrong! But when you quit a career on the 1st of August, start at the church on the 15th of August and start full-time seminary on the 1st of September…you learn about ministry pretty quickly!

    And yet, the fact that I was an Associate Pastor for the first 7 years meant that I didn’t experience everything. Again, I thought I did…but I didn’t. Between a great Senior Pastor who protected me at times and the fact that the 2nd in command simply doesn’t get brought into every aspect of a church, I left that church with a lot of great experience…but with some lessons still to learn.

    Spending 8 years at the next church taught me the lessons I was missing. When you are “in the trenches”, every day, week in and week out, for 8 years, you get it all. There really isn’t anything you don’t experience in that setting. And now I am at the 3rd church I have served. I have been here just shy of 3½ years. And I have been able to put ALL of those lessons I learned along the way to good use!

    Last night, our PPRC (Pastor-Parish Relations Committee) met. If you’re having trouble imagining what the committee is, imagine the Human Resources department of a company. The PPRC is responsible for the paid staff of the church. With the pastor, they hire, fire and manage the staff. They are the liaison between the staff and the church. When the church and the staff are both healthy, the PPRC’s primary job is to help support and enable the staff to do what they are called to do.

    At this time of the year, the PPRC is tasked with evaluating both the church AND the pastor. There are very specific forms designed to accomplish that task. Everybody on the committee gets the forms in advance. They read through them, fill them out and bring them to the meeting. Then, as a group, they come to a consensus on how they want to complete their evaluations.

    Every year, I sit in on the church assessment- I think that’s important that I participate. But when we get to the clergy evaluation…MY evaluation…I always offer to leave the room so that they can feel completely comfortable to speak their mind. And over the years, I have had committees who took me up on that offer!

    But this group looked at me as if to say, “Why would we want you to leave the room?!” We then spent the next little while talking about our shared ministry. And that conversation reminded me about why I love being a pastor. These folks are so supportive, so collegial, such a blessing to do ministry with. (Sorry to all my English teacher friends for ending a sentence with a preposition!)

   Is ministry perfect? No. Is there dissension…somewhere…in every church? Of course there is- we’re human! (I once heard this comment about churches- “They’re full of hypocrites!” The best response to that comment I can offer is this- “You are absolutely right…and there is always room for one more!”) But, even in the midst of the imperfection, I can’t imagine anything better than serving God alongside a committed, motivated group of people who want nothing more than to connect people to Jesus Christ!

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

It’s a Squirrel!

squirrel

    Yesterday morning, I “did” the Children’s Moment at both of our morning worship services. I used to do them every Sunday…back in the day, but for the past several years, I have been the occasional fill-in. And yesterday was a “fill-in” day.

    I brought the kids down front. I got down on my knees in front of them. (I learned a LONG time ago that it is best to get down to their level instead of towering over them. They seem to connect better!) And I told them a joke. (If you know me at all…that will be NO shock to you!

    The joke was this- A Sunday School teacher wanted to use squirrels as an example of prepared workers. She started the lesson by saying, ”I’m going to describe something, and I want you to raise your hand when you know what it is.”  The children were excited to show her what they knew and leaned forward eagerly. “I’m thinking of something that lives in trees and eats nuts …” No hands went up. “It can be gray or brown and  it has a long bushy tail …” The children looked around the room at each other, but still no one raised a hand. “It chatters and sometimes it flips its tail when it’s excited …”   Finally one little boy shyly raised his hand. The teacher breathed a sigh of relief and said, “Okay, Michael. What do you think it is?”  “Well,” said the boy, “it sure sounds like a squirrel, but I bet it’ll turn out to be Jesus!”

    First off- I LOVE that joke! I have used that several times over the years and I always laugh at it! But it also raises an interesting question- where do you see Jesus? The kid in the joke had pretty good instincts- regardless of the question posed in a youth or children’s Sunday School class, the answer will most often be Jesus! It’s like watching Jeopardy- if the category is “American Poets”, just keep guessing Emily Dickinson…you WILL be right somewhere along the way!

    But seriously, where DO you see Jesus? When I asked the kids that question, I got LOTS of answers. The sky. The ground. All sorts of places. One girl pointed to herself and said, “Me!” (How awesome is that?!) But then one kid nailed it, “Everywhere.” Now, I will admit that “Everywhere” in this case is kind of like the punchline to the squirrel joke. We KNOW that the answer is supposed to be “everywhere”. Right? I mean, we’re smart people. We know what’s what about you know what. But even though it’s the obvious answer…is it the RIGHT answer? Is it YOUR answer?

    We should see Him everywhere. We should see him in the trees. In the birds. In the stars. In the rain. In a child’s smile. In the silence. Jesus is found in everything He created. And since He created…everything…then He is found everywhere. And we need to see the world that way. We need to see all of Creation as coming from Jesus. We need to revel in His Creation. We need to celebrate the magnificence of Jesus Christ!

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

The Compass: Discipleship

The Compass a Vision Question Main

    Teachers are an interesting lot. I have a GREAT affinity for teachers- over the year, I have had MANY teachers in the congregations I have served. This church is CERTAINLY no exception! Likewise, I LIVE with a teacher. I have GREAT admiration for them.

    But we all had teachers who should NOT have been teaching. Period. In high school, I had a teacher who would wear green rubber boots as his shoes in the winter. Remember CPO jackets? He would wear two- one as a shirt and the other as a jacket. And more than once, in a state of “hung-overness”, he stood IN the trash can- IN the trash can, with his green rubber boots- to teach.

    I also had a high school teacher (I’m beginning to think that my high school should have had a more rigorous screening process for teachers!) who would wear house slippers to school every day. He had a myriad of health issues that caused him to be on a myriad of very strong medications. The result was that he was often- I guess you would have to use the word “high”- during the school day. Slurred speech, staggering, the whole nine yards.

    One day, he put a movie on…and promptly laid his head on his desk and went to sleep! After 20 minutes of watching an incredibly dull movie and listening to the teacher snore, the kid sitting next to me couldn’t stand it any more. There was a round floor fan, the kind that looks sort of like a footstool, right in front of us. So he took a penny…and pitched it into the fan! It make QUITE a noise as it PINGED around in the fan before shooting off Lord knows where. The teacher’s head shot up off the desk. He rubbed his eyes and said, and I quote, “Who woke me up!” Chalk one up for early retirement!

    But we all also had teachers along the way who had a profound impact on us. You know- those exceptional teachers who went above and beyond the scope of their job description to show us that they truly cared for…and about…us. Those teachers who taught us so much more than our ABC’s and multiplication tables. Those teachers who said, without specific words but through everything they did, that they loved us. THAT, my friends, is discipleship.

    Joel 2:28-30a After that, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will have dreams. Your young men will have visions. In those days I will pour out my Spirit on those who serve me, men and women alike. I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth.

    Today, we continue our current Sunday morning sermon series- The Compass: A Vision Quest. We are in the middle of 4 weeks of talking about vision- what it is in general, what is it specifically and what God’s vision for The Aledo United Methodist Church is for the next 18 months or so.

    We are digging deep into the future of our church- where I think God is leading us and what we need to do to be ready for His call! Each week, we focus on one aspect of ministry. And our four topics are presented in an intentional order- starting at the core of who we are as Christians and organically growing outward from there. Week 1, we focused on worship and we were clear to say that worship is MUCH more than simply what we do here on Sundays- worship is a way of life. Last week, we talked about nurture and we said that nurture is to feed and protect, to support and encourage, to bring up and train. Today, we focus on discipleship. And we make it clear that discipleship isn’t about imitation but instruction.

    Romans 12:2-3 Don’t live any longer the way this world lives. Let your way of thinking be completely changed. Then you will be able to test what God wants for you. And you will agree that what he wants is right. His plan is good and pleasing and perfect. God’s grace has been given to me. So here is what I say to every one of you. Don’t think of yourself more highly than you should. Be reasonable when you think about yourself. Keep in mind the amount of faith God has given you.

    A little boy was getting pretty bad grades in school. His parents had talked with him. They had worked with him. They had done everything they could think of. And yet, the next report card would come out and it would be as bad as the previous one. One day, the morning after the most recent report cards had come out, the boy came into the classroom for the day, went up to the teacher’s desk, tapped her on the shoulder and said, “I don’t want to scare you, but my dad says if I don’t get better grades…SOMEBODY is going to get a spanking!”

    So discipleship. Discipleship is absolutely about teaching…educating. But there is more to it. True discipleship isn’t simply teaching by standing in a wastecan or sleeping on a desk. It’s teaching that shows, through the care and concern that is used, that there is more than simply “book learning” that is involved. It’s strengthening and deepening…grounded in a foundation of Christian love.

     Christianity without discipleship is Christianity…without Jesus. God entrusts us with His MOST precious treasure- each other. He calls us to shepherd each other- help mold each other into strong disciples. And who hang with has a HUGE bearing on who we are…and who we become. If you’re still hanging with people who don’t share the values you seek, remember Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity- doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. If you hang out with chickens, you’re going to cluck and if you hang out with eagles, you’re going to fly.

Our level of obedience to God is most often determined by the level of obedience of those Christians with whom we surround ourselves.

    Discipleship- how are WE doing in that area? We have made great strides in discipleship. When I arrived, we were engaging about 50-60 people/week in some type of discipleship training. (Sunday school classes, Bible Studies, etc.) We are currently engaging about 120/week. We have expanded from 3 adult classes/week (on Sundays) and 1 or two during the week to 9 regular offerings/week along with a WIDE variety of short-term offerings throughout the year. I see that we need to continue to expand this area. By this time next year, I envision us having a “Course Catalogue” that lists all of the discipleship training opportunities that will be offered for the “semester”. There will be a new course catalogue for each “semester”- fall/winter and spring/summer. I pray that Disciple Bible Study will be a key piece of our discipleship training, along with more “niche” classes led by people who aren’t currently leading such an opportunity. My vision for commitment to this program would see us reaching 160-175 people/week by the end of 2016. Imagine that- if reaching 120 people/week in intentional discipleship training is a good thing…and it IS…then reaching 175 people/week must be about 46% better!!

    We have been talking about vision. We have defined it. We have begun to put it into our particular context. Let’s take a moment and talk about the power of a healthy vision. What does vision do?

    1. Vision encourages unity. Vision, especially a shared vision, strengthens relationships. A unified vision moves a congregation from the realm of “MY church” and “YOUR church” fully and squarely into “OUR church.” A shared vision encourages people to work together. It also creates a common identity. And it does that by A. identifying where the ministry is headed and B. causing more people- laity and staff- to commit to their church long-term. A shared vision encourages people to work together toward common goals. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- we need each other- under the direct guidance of God- if anything significant is going to happen here. As Benjamin Franklin said at the signing of the Declaration of Independence, “We must all hang together, or assuredly we will all hang separately.”

    2. Vision creates energy. Not much happens without a compelling, energetic vision. But WITH it…oh my! True vision energizes people. It ignites a spark. It allows leaders to stop having to spend all of their time putting out fires and instead start focus on igniting new ones. Vision turns maintenance into ministry.

    3. Vision provides purpose. I am convinced that we all seek one thing in our lives, above all else. And that one thing is purpose. In the movie Forrest Gump, Forrest is drafted into the Vietnam war. During Basic Training, his Drill Sergeant asks, “Gump! What’s your sole purpose in this army?” Forrest quickly and definitevly responds, “To do whatever you tell me, Drill Sergeant!” But later, Forrest comes to see his mom, who is sick, “What’s the matter, Momma?” “I’m dyin’, Forrest. Come on in, sit down over here.” Forrest sits. “Why are you dyin’, Momma?” “It’s my time. It’s just my time. Oh, now, don’t you be afraid, sweetheart. Death is just a part of life. It’s something we’re all destined to do. I didn’t know it, but I was destined to be your momma. I did the best I could.” “You did good, Momma.” “Well, I happen to believe you make your own destiny. You have to do the best with what God gave you.” “What’s my destiny, Momma?” “You’re gonna have to figure that out for yourself. Life is a box of chocolates, Forrest. You never know what you’re gonna get.”

    Until you find your purpose in life, you can never be all that God is calling you to be. Vision creates meaning and purpose in our lives, making us part of something greater- something that God is accomplishing in this very moment. Vision helps us see ourselves as more than just “pew sitters”. It makes us a vital part of a dynamic movement that can have a powerful and lasting impact on the world.

    4. Vision promotes healthy risk-taking. Vision tells us what needs to be done. The question it creates is, “How will we do it?” Sometimes we know the answer…and often we don’t. That forces us to step into the great unknown for Jesus. Some things work…and some things don’t. Vision urges us to admit that there ARE no guarantees…and commit anyway. The risks might be great, but so is the God we serve.

    5. Vision promotes excellence. God wants…and deserves…our absolute best. Whatever we do for Him needs to be done well. And deep down, we WANT to do a good job. We WANT to think that we’re effective in furthering God’s mission. Vision draws a picture of what all that looks like. It provides a yardstick for measuring the effective of ministry.

    Matthew 5:13-16 You are the salt of the earth. But suppose the salt loses its saltiness. How can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything. It will be thrown out. People will walk all over it. “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill can’t be hidden. Also, people do not light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand. Then it gives light to everyone in the house. “In the same way, let your light shine in front of others. Then they will see the good things you do. And they will praise your Father who is in heaven.

    Jesus encouraged the building of relationships. He modelled discipleship every day in every way. He wasn’t a long-distance leader when He walked this earth. He walked ALONGSIDE and worked WITH those whom He led. He wasn’t afraid of close friendships. In fact- He encouraged them. He spent countless hours with His disciples. His relationships were intimate, loving, supportive. And what His example tells me is this- if you REALLY want to experience God in powerful ways, go and make disciples.

Let’s Give ‘Em Something to Talk About!

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    My wife and I started dating in April…of 1977! Yep! We were sophomores in High School (our school district had 7th-9th Grades at the Junior High and Sophomore, Junior, Senior at the High School.) and met almost exactly 39 years ago. Oh. My. Gosh!! 39 years ago! That is amazing to me!

    We met on a hayride. (Ironically, we were within about a mile of my house…out in the middle of absolutely nowhere…at the moment we met!) Our meeting was rather inauspicious- she was dating someone and I had just been dumped by somebody! But over the weeks and months ahead, a friendship grew. That friendship grew so much, in fact, that on her 16th birthday- late April- we went on our first date!

     One of the things I noticed right up front with her (I mean, in addition to the fact that she’s gorgeous!) is that we always had things to talk about. There were simply never those awkward moments when there was nothing to say. WE just always had something to talk about. And we always seemed to enjoy talking to each other.

    Yesterday, we went out to breakfast. (Friday is my “day off” and we try to intentionally spend some time together.) You have to assume that we have shared WAY over 30,000 meals together over the year. WAY over! And you could easily make come to conclusion that, after that many meals, there would simply be nothing left to talk about. And…you would be wrong!

    I see these couples sitting in restaurants. All too often, one of two things is going on: either 1. they are both buried in a book or a tablet and completely ignoring each other or 2. they are just sitting there, NOT reading, just eating…and completely ignoring each other.  Two grown human beings, married for however many years, who can’t even think of one thing to say to each other. Or maybe they can…and they just don’t want to.

   We have a deal in our family- no books, phones, tablets, magazines, whatever at the table. None. Period. And that rings true for us whether we are all eating together or whether it’s just me and my wife. We not only can always find things to talk about- we actually enjoy talking to each other! We laugh, we share, we reminisce, we talk about the kids, we talk about church…whatever. We talk about everything. We talk about nothing. We just…talk!

    I feel incredibly blessed to have met this amazing woman all those years ago. I feel incredibly blessed that she actually wanted to marry me. And I feel incredibly blessed that, after all these years she stills wants to hang with me and we still have things to talk about!

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

I Love a Parade!

man-juggling

    I started playing the drums when I was 10 years old. I marched in my first parade when I was 12 years old. Since then, I shudder to think just how many parades I have been a part of! I have carried banners, ridden on floats, ridden in buses, (of course) played the drums (just about every drum there is to play in a parade!), handed out candy, handed out “can cozies”, handed out ink pens and juggled! I am a veteran of parades, to be sure!

    The community in which we live and serve has an annual Homecoming Parade. And it is a BIG deal! The parade route is fairly short, but the parade itself is pretty long! And when we got here, it seemed like something we wanted to be a part of! So for the 4 Septembers that we have lived in this community, the church has had a presence in the parade. Every year, our church bus has driven in the parade while folks from the church walked alongside, passing things out.

    Ultimately, my goal is to get info about the church into the hands of people watching the parade. But if you simply hand the a flyer, it will go one of two places: 1. the ground…immediately or B. the trash…later. So that doesn’t seem like a good use of time or resources! Instead, you want to hand them something that they are motivated to hand on to. So for the past two years, we have handed out ink pens.

    I know- pretty boring! And you’re right! But we have basic information about the church printed ON the pen. And there is an oversized business card that the pen is threaded through. That card has MORE basic info on it. You know, what most people would want to know- when the worship services are and what we offer for youth and children. There are folks that sit IN the bus and wave. Meanwhile, a small army of folks are walking alongside the bus, handing out these “amended” pens. We get to talk to people as we hand them out. It’s a good thing!

    This year, we had enough walkers that I wasn’t needed to hand out pens. So I fell back on what I know! I juggled! Yep- I walked along, just off the front right fender of the bus, juggling. I figure that we may have been the only church with a presence in the parade. But even if we weren’t, I can all but guarantee that I was the only ordained clergy juggling in the parade!

    I have found that, while there are certainly people who think I’m a little too…“out there”…to be their pastor (and I get that!), there are lots of other people who seem to find it refreshing that I am fearfully and wonderfully…human! The bottom line is this- if you want a pastor who is serious and formal- I am NOT your guy! There is absolutely nothing WRONG with that…I’m just not it! On the other hand, if you want a pastor who has been down in the trenches, whose life hasn’t been all peaches and cream, who has a sense of humor and a rather odd skill set, who readily admits that he is FAR from perfect…and loves God with all his heart- well, then, I’m your guy! Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go pack my juggling equipment away until the next ministry opportunity!

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

An Unexpected Inheritance

inheritance

    My dad passed away more than 4½ years ago. And my mom passed away more than 11 years ago. So when my dad died, my siblings and I had the unenviable task of “breaking up house” for our parents. Most of my mom’s personal things had been taken care of, but of course all of the furniture, along with “family things” were still there and needed to be dealt with.

    I was the Trustee of their estate, so I was responsible for that disposition. Along with calling all of the people he did business with (electric company, water company, telephone, cable, etc.) to stop service and make arrangements for the final bills, I also had his mail permanently forwarded to my house. Because of that fact, HIS name coupled with MY address has made its way onto SEVERAL mailing lists. So the bottom line is this- I STILL get mail, in his name, at my house…this many years later! (Even though he never lived here- never even HEARD of “here”!)

      All of those facts play into something funny that happened to me yesterday. I got a piece of mail- first class mail in a business-sized envelope- at the house…addressed to him. Often, when those things come in, I will joke, “I don’t think my dad is going to want a subscription to Better Homes and Gardens” or whatever the mail was…and then pitch it. But this particular envelope caught my attention.

    The return address was from a settlement group and I thought I remembered the name. And if I remembered right, it was regarding a class-action lawsuit filed against one of the big cell phone companies (who shall remain nameless but whose initials are A, T and T!). And since my dad was a customer of theirs, he was automatically a member of that lawsuit.

    About 2 years ago, I got paperwork regarding his involvement. It stated that I should fill it out and return it on his behalf if I wanted to keep his name in the suit. So…I did. And then I gave it not ONE more thought! That is, until yesterday. So I’m holding this envelope, remembering all of this and thinking that the contents looked like it may be a check. Now, I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck this morning, so I wasn’t naive enough to think it would be any REAL money, but I was interested in how much it was. So…I opened it!

    It was an 8½X11 sheet- the top ⅔ was a letter and the bottom third was a check, microperfed to the letter. I figured I had all the time in the world to read the letter, so I unfolded the paper to see the check. And the amount? The number of dollars sent to me on my dad’s behalf? A check that took A. labor to produce, B. paper on which to print, C. a printer on which to print, D. an envelope in which to mail and E. postage to get into my hot little hands? Ready? 18 cents. 18 CENTS! It took them AT LEAST 10 times that just to get it to me! 18 CENTS!!

    So my wife and I figured that this should be split 4 ways- between me and my three siblings. Therefore, I need to contact my brother and sister in Southern Illinois and my sister in the panhandle of Florida and see just how they would each like to receive their 4½ cents! I just pray that all that unexpected inheritance doesn’t go to their heads and ruin them!! Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to get on Amazon.com and see what nice thing I can find for myself that costs…4½ cents!

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