Remember Him

As I child church was a huge part of our lives. I have memories of being very small laying on the floor under the pews while the pastor preached.

My aunt started the church we went to in the basement of her house. We sat on some wooden seats that came from an old auditorium of some sort and fanned ourselves in the heat with cardboard fans from a funeral home.

I remember that church moving from her basement to a brand new building that seemed huge to me. It was the First Assembly of God in O’Fallon, Missouri. If I go into that old part of the church now it seems so small. I was there when it got enlarged even though I was still too young to be any help. I did get to help the next time the building was expanded and a new auditorium was built.

We were there a lot. Services were on Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night. We had revivals where we would have services every night for weeks sometimes. I was taught the bible and the rules of being a Christian. I was taught to seek blessings from God. I was taught this was a very emotional experience and I felt like that was how it had to be. I may have been taught other things but this is what I took with me as I grew older.

I remember a lot of things about church, about me and my friends and my life and the time I spent there.  I remember seeking a lot of things from God, trying to reach some pinnacle of spiritual excellence.

I don’t seem to remember him.  I mostly remember trying to make God do things for me.

I struggled with my relationship with God through high school and after many ups and downs decided to attend bible college, which I did for two years. My classes however were pretty far down on my priority list but I did learn some things and I thought I knew enough to be a pretty impressive Christian.

In college, even in a Christian college taking bible classes, I had a tough time remembering God.

Well, after dropping out of school that knowledge didn’t do a whole lot for me and I fell away. I made a few comebacks over the years but I never stuck. My lows kept getting lower and my life kept getting more screwed up.

So, I decided that what I knew was not good enough. What I had been taught was not good enough. I was missing something and I had to fix it or my next low was very likely to be my last.

I had completely forgotten him.

Now, this may seem stupid to a lot of you but I had heard for years and years to pray and read my bible. to listen for what God wants me to do and do what He says. But I never did those things. I bowed my head at church, I prayed for things and help to get out of trouble but I never prayed for things that will last, for help to please God whatever He asks. I read the bible from time to time, a little bit, but I never dug into it to see what it means to me and my survival, to see what steps I should take next or how to be useful to others.

Those things I knew God wanted me to do were easy to not do because I never really listened to Him. He seldom parts the clouds and lets a booming voice call down from Heaven with advice. He speaks to me through His word. That has saved my life. That is where the words I write come from. Without these things my stories are just stories. With them they make me a better person even if no one else ever reads them. So each morning, before anything else, I remember Him.

Ecclesiastes 12:1 Don’t let the excitement of youth cause you to forget your Creator. Honor him in your youth before you grow old and say, “Life is not pleasant anymore.” 2 Remember him before the light of the sun, moon, and stars is dim to your old eyes, and rain clouds continually darken your sky. 3 Remember him before your legs—the guards of your house—start to tremble; and before your shoulders—the strong men—stoop. Remember him before your teeth—your few remaining servants—stop grinding; and before your eyes—the women looking through the windows—see dimly. 4 Remember him before the door to life’s opportunities is closed and the sound of work fades. Now you rise at the first chirping of the birds, but then all their sounds will grow faint.
5 Remember him before you become fearful of falling and worry about danger in the streets; before your hair turns white like an almond tree in bloom, and you drag along without energy like a dying grasshopper, and the caperberry no longer inspires sexual desire. Remember him before you near the grave, your everlasting home, when the mourners will weep at your funeral. 6 Yes, remember your Creator now while you are young, before the silver cord of life snaps and the golden bowl is broken. Don’t wait until the water jar is smashed at the spring and the pulley is broken at the well. 7 For then the dust will return to the earth, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.

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Hitting the Cut-off Man

I use to help coach my son’s, Joe’s, baseball team. It was great to get out there and show those boys how to be better players. They would listen attentively as we tweaked their stance to help them be able to hit better. We would help them learn to execute in the field better so they didn’t just throw the ball around aimlessly. They learned fast and immediately became better players, well most of them did, even the bad players got better. They were still bad but they were better.

But, there were two brothers that wouldn’t listen to anything we said. So we stuck the youngest one in right field. In practice, I went out in the field with him and explained to him about why he needed to hit the cut-off man and not try to throw the ball all the way home.  He said, “Ok.”  

I went back to a place where I could admire the new and improved right fielder.

As soon as he got the ball, he threw it all the way home.

Well, he attempted to throw it all the way home.  It soared over the cut-off man and bounced a couple of times and rolled into the general vicinity of the catcher.

I explained again and again and got the same result. Ok, now I was getting really aggravated thinking maybe this kid was just not so bright…until he turned to me and said, “I don’t have to do anything you say.”

He soon found out that I didn’t have to let him play.

So the next game started and once it was half over the boy’s dad came over and asked when his son was going to get put in the game. He was told that wouldn’t be happening tonight and how disrespectful the boy had been. The boy’s dad didn’t apologize or act upset with the boy.

He was mad at us. He took his boys home right then and they never showed up for a game again. We were heartbroken…haha. He really showed us.

This kid was so stubborn that he was willing to sit on the bench before submitting to authority. His coaches had played more games of ball than he would ever see a hundred times over. They had forgotten more than he knew.

I couldn’t understand this because when I played sports my coaches had taught me so much. They taught me things I still know to be great advice today.

I guess I can’t pass judgment on this hard-headed snot-nosed kid. I have been stubborn about much more important things than baseball. I have been hard-headed about life. I have had a way to do things in my head and insisted on doing them even though I was being coached by the best, the wisest, the most caring, most loving coach in the universe.

When he sat me out of things I cared about I set my jaw and refused to admit he was right. I could write for years about my refusal to hit the cut-off man and struggled on myself to try to make a great throw to home plate. Of course, I didn’t have the arm for that and failed repeatedly.

Isaiah 46:12 “Listen to me, you stubborn people who are so far from doing right. 13 For I am ready to set things right,
not in the distant future, but right now!

So, what’s the point? Quit with the stubborn nonsense. Be willing to take coaching from God. He cares about you as an individual and will not lead you astray.  When I try to sway God to my way of thinking, I look like that boy in right field, being taken out of the game by my own actions.

So often, the solution to life’s problems is to stop trying make the big awesome play and just hit the cut-off man.

Dirty Clothes

After a few decades of goofing around and faltering spiritually, a guy can realize that there isn’t a lot of decades left to really get something done. One can never know just how much time is left to really seriously do God’s work instead of his own but I know that I have passed the halfway point in my allotted years at the very least. So, I believe that there is a sense of urgency that I must instill in my daily living.

I’m by no means unique. I belong to a huge segment of today’s population that lives by the motto, “Why do today what can be put off until tomorrow?”

Sure, a lot of what I read in the bible and see needs to be applied to my life to make real change and shift my focus so that my accomplishments have meaning.  I sort of expect that all to just happen. Is that really a good plan?

Romans 13:11 This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living.

For some reason, people for thousands of years must have preferred sitting around in comfortable, old dirty clothes. I once had a pair of bib overalls that my mom tried to throw away more than once. They were ripped and torn and worn so thin that the next step in their deterioration was invisibility.

I would dig them out of the trash over and over again and wear them even though they were ugly and no longer of much use. Finally, one day I parted with them and never wore a stupid-looking pair of bib overalls again.

Every single day, I find that there are one or two things that I have dug up out of the trash that are best left in the garbage can. I hang on to habits and desires like a hoarder hangs on to an old newspaper. An old newspaper is not of any good use for today. Old news is no longer news. It is the past and the past belongs in the wastebasket.

I love what Paul says about right living, it is shining armor. It not only is beautiful and brilliant, it protects me. My old dirty deeds do nothing but complicate my life and confuse me. They cause me to be attacked and wounded. They invite the enemy to launch an assault that never ends. Yet I hold tightly to them and refuse to let go.

Romans 12:9 Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.

There are a lot of things going on in this verse. But it gives me a pretty good outline for starting out a day. I must truly love others, hate wrong but love those that do it and hold tightly to what is good. It is hard to hang on to lots of good things when I refuse to let go of the bad.

Romans 13:13 Because we belong to the day, we must live decent lives for all to see. Don’t participate in the darkness of wild parties and drunkenness, or in sexual promiscuity and immoral living, or in quarreling and jealousy. 14 Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires.

I have been guilty of thinking that I don’t have to please anyone except God. This is true. The verses above don’t say anything about pleasing others. But how often have I ever lived a life that truly pleased God? If I were to pile my life up and begin to toss out the parts that were definitely not what God asks of me, just how much would I have left? Then, if I were to discard the parts of my life that I lived in error because I wasn’t in His Word and were displeasing because of my willful ignorance of his expectations, how much would I have left? What about the parts that I half-heartedly did while living on the edges of his will? What do I have to show for my life?

If you are like me, there is a small pile of treasure left over. It is far less than God deserves. It represents just how little I have committed to serving him. This is sad but it is not cause for giving up. It is a reason for urgency.

The years of baby steps are over.

There isn’t a lot of time left but that time is going to be used taking giant strides and faith-inspired leaps. It isn’t too late but there isn’t much time left. I must put aside my desires for self-indulgence and self-satisfaction. The pursuit of those things which lead me away from the opportunity to clothe myself in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ needs to be abandoned.

I have to stop even thinking of ways to get out of what God wants me to do in order to do what I want to do. We all have to if we want to stop experiencing the self-inflicted pain of our selfish desires. If we can’t stop thinking about those things which come between ourselves and God, we have to declare a state of emergency. It is time to circle the wagons and help each other.

For me, I have had to enlist the help of others. My thoughts get me into a lot of trouble. There are countless sources of help out there. Celebrate Recovery is a Christ-centered 12-step program where many join together to help each other change their thinking utilizing the transforming power of Jesus Christ. That is just one source of help.

The time is now, things are getting urgent. We need to change clothes and live like God created us to live.

Who Needs Cool?

I remember one day, a high school friend of mine came in talking about this cool car he saw. As he began to describe it, I realized he was talking about my car. I felt pretty good that the car I had worked on and fixed up was done well enough that it got his attention to the point that he just had to tell the other guys at school about it. Of course, once he found out I owned it, it lost some of its cool.

But still, when I was driving, I could hear his words excitedly telling the cool kids that I was cooler. I tried hard to be as cool as my car. I sold that car for a less cool car thinking I could make my new, older car even cooler than my first car.

That didn’t happen, even though I did manage to turn that old beater into a nice car. It just didn’t have much of a cool factor.

I lived my teen years trying to be cool but when I couldn’t, I would burn into nitro funny car hot. To me being cool was acting like I just didn’t care. That’s hard for someone full of passion and expression just dying to get out. When I couldn’t keep my cool, I got very excited and angry. I broke things in anger, I cursed in anger, my rage erupted like a volcano spewing molten words and fury all over the place.

This is no way to live life. Being cool is just a form of living a lie. As a person, my passions should be faced and enjoyed and shared with others. They shouldn’t be hidden away safely out of view until they explode trying to perform a daring getaway from the bondage I tend to hold them in.

I remember people being surprised that I wrote music and poetry. I hid my passion for those things away, afraid that I would be thought of as a weirdo. Come on! What fun is life if you can’t enjoy being a little weird?

I tried to serve God while hiding him away. A relationship with God doesn’t flourish if he is hidden away. It is weak and shaky and when I need him, my understanding of him is distorted. I imagine he is like my relationship with him. But no matter how I cripple my walk with God, he remains strong and faithful. I just can’t see it.

It is important that I verbalize my relationship with God. It is important that I not only let myself know what God does for me and others but I need to let others know as well.

Revelation 12:10Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, “It has come at last—salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth—the one who accuses them before our God day and night. 11And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony.

The desire to be cool, unfeeling and unaffected, is a ruse that tricks me into being silent about God and his power. I hold on to my authority and let my words remain hidden away about the very things that can strengthen me and make me a bold overcomer. God rules over my life by the blood of the Lamb and the words of my testimony.

When I speak up and drop the act, and humbly proclaim that I am nothing without him, that all power comes from him, that my victory lies in him, his strength courses through my spirit and my body. The impossible becomes possible and defeat is no longer an option.

Who needs cool?

Awesome!

One Christmas I got a phonograph. A phonograph is a machine that played records. Records are round black things that held a few MP3’s that got all scratched up and skipped. It folded up like a suitcase and I was usually told to take it to the other end of the house so mom and dad could get some peace and quiet for a change.

I didn’t have many records and the only one I really remember is one with bible stories told and sung by Jimmie Dodd. He was a Mouseketeer that played the guitar. My favorite part of the record was the story of Gideon and the dramatic way they said, “The sword of the Lord and Gideon!” If you haven’t read this story it is in Judges chapter 7. You should check it out.

See, Gideon was supposed to go into battle against fight the Midianites. He had a big army but God said that Israel would take all the credit if they went in there and won on manpower. So to make a long story short, Gideon started with 32,000 men and ended up with 300.

Now, just to make sure that the 300 men didn’t get to talking about how they were supermen or something they went to war with ram’s horns and clay jars. I wonder what was going through their minds when they went into battle with those things? Well, God used those things to bring about a great victory.

When I would listen to that story over and over again I never got the point. I must have heard it a hundred times or even more. God gives me so many things and I take all the credit for getting them.

My view off the world was that I am on my own. Sure, God saved me but the rest was up to me.

I only have to read the bible for like five minutes to see that is not God’s way of thinking. God wants me to go into my daily struggle armed with just Him! For decades God gave me things and did great things for me and I thought, “Wow! I am awesome!”.

Well, I am not awesome. On my own I stumble and crash through life leaving destruction in my wake. God stops that from happening.

He is awesome!

Not too long ago He had to knock my ego down from 32,000 to 300. Now I am trying to stay there. I am more aware now than ever of God’s influence on my days. I know this goes against the grain of how our culture teaches us to live but honestly I am NOT self-sufficient and it is impossible for me to ever be a self-sustaining creature.

So today I start off with just a ram’s horn and a pitcher, focused on God, ready to make some noise and let Him fight the battle. M-I-C….see ya’ soon!

Two Things

I think I’ll keep this short this morning (maybe I should wait and see how that works out for me before I put that in writing). I need to keep a few things in mind today.

First of all, God isn’t up there in the heavens watching over me to make sure I’m not having fun. He is trying to convince me to not have the kind of fun that ends up hurting me or destroying me entirely.

I have learned by this time in my life, that left to my own pursuits and decision making, that I will crash and burn and I am getting harder and harder to rebuild. So, it is a good idea to just give in and enjoy life where my mistakes generate fender benders and eliminate all these head-on collisions with my stupidity and getting t-boned by my pride.

I’m pretty thankful that even though a few times people around me may have thought I was totaled, God did an amazing job of salvaging some pretty good stuff and building me back up again.

1 Kings 9:4 “As for you, if you will follow me with integrity and godliness, as David your father did, obeying all my commands, decrees, and regulations, 5 then I will establish the throne of your dynasty over Israel forever. For I made this promise to your father, David: ‘One of your descendants will always sit on the throne of Israel.’”

Second, God is big on family. Even though God hasn’t promised I will be king, he expects me to act like one since I am the child of one. God promises me that if I seek his kingdom first, the things I need to do my part in it will follow just as sure as that dark sky outside my window will give way to light this morning.

I used to think that meant I was going to get all kinds of cool stuff for being good. Actually, I get to do a lot of cool stuff to do good. I still get it mixed up sometimes.

God promised Solomon that as long as he got it right, that him and his whole nation would be great. If he got it wrong, not so much. Simply because, when man puts God first and seeks more of him, he gets more of him and greatness is just part of the package when it comes to God.

God’s definition of greatness is based on eternity rather than mortality, though, so at times I have a tough time seeing true greatness.

If I want to help my family, even though I feel helpless, even though I feel that my influence has diminished, even though I feel more and more irrelevant in their lives, my faithfulness to God and his kingdom will change their lives. It just does. God says so over and over. Their road may not be what I desire but God will reign over them if he reigns over me even if I am blind to it.

So, this isn’t what I’s call short but it is shorter. I’ll stop now before I make it long by typing too many words about it being shorter. Have a great weekend!

A Shortage of Toys

Do you still have every toy you ever owned? I see some people on television that have toys in the packages that they were given 50 years ago. I guess they never played with them and now they are worth a lot of money for some strange reason. If they were so great then why would a kid not play with them?

Then, there are some old toys around that look played with but they were used as they were intended and have survived. None of my toys ever made it that far. After I played with my toys a while I thought of other great ways to use them. I remember riding my bike over them, blowing them up with fireworks (those of you that have been to our house on the 4th of July know I still like to do this), buried them, crashed them and saw how far I could make them fly. I had a lot of fun doing this stuff but I frequently got kind of low on toys.

Mom got kind of low on spoons too. I used to dig in the back yard with them and seldom returned them to where they belonged. I guess I was pretty good at using things for purposes they were not intended for.

I had a bicycle that was made for riding long distances on the street. It served this function well and I actually rode it over 100 miles in a day twice. But as great as that bike was for that purpose it was not good for riding on trails in the woods (which I did) or for jumping off motorcycle jumps (which I also did). That bike wasn’t good at all for those things and I learned two lessons from trying it anyway. One, a bike can flip ene over end a bunch of times. Two, a human body can bounce off of a tree (that doesn’t feel good at all by the way). I did not learn that I should only use the bike for what it was made for. Hence, it does not any longer exist.

I have also used other things for purposes they were not intended for. My money, my time, my talent, my possessions, my…well, everything. I tend to use all these things for my pleasure. I have since learned that my pleasure brings the most fleeting satisfaction and I have to feed the pleasure beast very often.

If I give in to this too much I experience a shortage of toys. This goes for the things I expect God to give me too. I think that they are strictly for my benefit and find myself not happy with how He is doing His job. But it is me that is not doing a good job.

It is up to me to use these things, all of them, to do greater things. That is a hard thing to accept because I am inherently selfish. I am going to need a lot of help to learn to focus my efforts on using things the right ways, the ways God wants to see them used, the ways other people benefit. God help me do a better job of this today.

Luke 16:9 Here’s the lesson: Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your earthly possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home. 10 “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. 11 And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven? 12 And if you are not faithful with other people’s things, why should you be trusted with things of your own?

My Business Savvy

When I was a teenager, I started making my own fishing rods. I didn’t really think they were a lot better than other rods or anything. I just liked doing it. I could build the rod on a blank I liked in a color I liked and finish it any way I wanted to. It was cheaper than going out and buying a completed rod, too. In those days I mostly used spinning rods. I would use them to catch bass and bluegill and catfish at the ponds around where I grew up.

My friends would go fishing with me and they would see the unique rods I was using and they would want one. So I made a few for my friends and thought maybe I could start a business making fishing rods. I gave it a shot and learned one thing, having the ability to make something that people want and the time to do it doesn’t mean I can make any money doing it. I am a lousy businessman. When it comes to running a business, I might as well just go to the toilet and flush my money down the drain and save myself all the hard work of trying to turn a profit. God blessed me with many talents but owning and operating a successful business is for people with a few different gifts than what I have been granted.

That didn’t stop me from trying again. Even though I had this nagging feeling in the back of my head saying that I was still the same knucklehead when taking care of money and business obligations, I gave it another shot. I had the same lousy results but was even further in the hole. I am creative and can think outside of the box in order to make things happen but I really don’t want to sell or deal with the numbers. That dream of working for myself and making my way by owning my own business that propels me to success is pretty much over and done. If I suddenly found myself in the midst of a business again, I would immediately get someone with some business savvy to help me, well, not really just help, they would have to run the business.

I know that I am much better at fishing or solving very complicated technical problems than I am keeping track of dollars and cents. It is really hard to make a living from fishing, so my source of income is in solving problems. I get calls everyday about someone’s problem. I don’t really like getting the calls so that motivates me even more to solve the problem. A problem solved today means less phone calls in my future. It’s a good arrangement.

Proverbs 4:5 Get wisdom; develop good judgment. Don’t forget my words or turn away from them. 6 Don’t turn your back on wisdom, for she will protect you. Love her, and she will guard you. 7 Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do! And whatever else you do, develop good judgment.

Learning from mistakes is important. Those kinds of lessons can give us true wisdom. If I make the same mistake over and over again, I am not really seeking wisdom. Wisdom will protect me from doing something stupid twice. If I am really seeking wisdom as God really wants me to, by searching his Word and seeking wise counsel of others that have already traveled the treacherous roads I am about to travel, wisdom can protect me from doing something stupid even once. It is better to not get bitten by a snake and know it is a bad thing than to learn it is a bad thing only after being bitten.

I need to get more wisdom every single day. After all that I have seen and done, I have learned one thing for sure; I have not seen and done it all. I’m not nearly as smart as I used to think I am. Left to my own devices, I am doomed to make mistakes. When I seed God and his ways, those mistakes are often avoided. He may not make me any smarter but he can sure give me better decision-making abilities. I can grow in wisdom and develop good judgment. What things can offer comfort and peace in life more than those? Money and power can’t.

Proverbs 4:11 I will teach you wisdom’s ways and lead you in straight paths. 12 When you walk, you won’t be held back; when you run, you won’t stumble. 13 Take hold of my instructions; don’t let them go. Guard them, for they are the key to life.

When a kid gets their driver’s license, they have had to pass a test and show that they have some ability to drive. But I never see anyone hand that kid the keys without reminding them of something that the excited new driver may not be thinking about. “Be careful, it takes longer to stop in the rain, watch out for deer (a good thing to be reminded of here where I live even for an experienced driver).”

A youthful driver that thinks about these things when they get behind the wheel is usually going to return home safely. When I take good advice from God’s Word or others that have found wisdom in God’s Word, my whole way of thinking becomes wiser. I become a source of good advice and not a trash receptacle where good advice goes to die.

God is anxious to teach us wisdom and lead us in the right paths in life. He is instructing me if only I will listen. He is handing me the keys to life if only I reach out for them.

What, Me Worry?

I used to love to read Mad Magazine. Some of you are probably thinking, “That figures.” Some are saying, “I loved Mad Magazine too!” I’ll pray for you because I am concerned that your mind is similar to mine. Others are wondering, “What’s Mad Magazine?” For those that don’t know, it was a comic book filled with satire and weird offbeat humor.

The mascot of this fine publication was Alfred E. Newman. His motto was “What, me worry?” I always thought I personified this magnificent philosophy. I didn’t worry about high school, I didn’t worry about college, I didn’t worry about marriage, I didn’t worry about anything. Let’s see, how did that all work for me? I underachieved in high school, flunked out of college, nearly trashed my marriage and have a long list of good intentions that never turned into accomplishments.

The truth is that I did worry. Things worried me terribly. I worried so much that I even had physical symptoms. I had headaches, lack of sleep, stomach problems, difficulty breathing and even pain in my chest.

Once, I had to go to the hospital with symptoms of a heart attack. The doctors told me it was an anxiety attack. So being a mentally unhealthy person, combined with being a spiritually unhealthy person, I devised a method of coping with all this worry. What could go wrong with this idea, right?

I developed the ability to pretend the problem wasn’t even there. Thus, my great track record with important things in my life. When I started to worry I simply changed my reality and then I subsequently began to fail. Of course, I blamed all this failure on God. It was His fault right? NOT! It was all me taking things out of God’s hands and putting my own plan into place.

So does all this mean I should worry? No. It means I have to battle my worry not run from it. God gave me courage. I need to stand and fight.

Matthew 6:27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? 28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? 31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. 34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

These are the words of Jesus. Our worries don’t build a single thing, they don’t contribute a single good moment to the experience of life. We are provided for and don’t even realize it. Worry does nothing but consume time, time that we can spend facing the source of our worries. So stand up to the worries of today while it is still today. Tomorrow will come soon enough.

1 Peter 5:7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

Worry should be my call to action and not my command to retreat.

88 Fingers Larry

When I was in school, mom only “made” me take one class when it came time to choose classes for the next year. I pretty much got to pick whatever I wanted from the elective classes I had to choose from. But there was one class, one that I really didn’t want to take, that my mom insisted that I take and she wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. Not even my best Mike-o-logical reasoning could sway her from what she felt was a necessary class that I would long reap the benefits of. That class was typing.

On the first day of class, I chose a spot in the farthest corner of the room from the door and the teacher’s desk. I could see everything from there. I don’t know just what I expected to see in typing class but if something should be worth seeing, I was going to witness it. The teacher was a man with long sideburns and slicked down hair. We sometimes called him “88 Fingers Larry”. He would leave the classroom a lot and return to find paper wads all over the floor of the classroom. It was junior high and there was paper on every desk and it was much more fun to throw than it was to type on.

On every desk was a clunky Royal typewriter. The keys were hard to push and typing was a lot more work than it looked like. Our instructor would give us timing tests so we could see how well we were progressing. Speed was part of whether we passed or failed. In typing, faster (mistakes were subtracted from speed) equaled better. I didn’t like that class. There were not a lot of shortcuts to passing. There was no way that I could type fast enough to pass without actually sitting down and learning to type. I thought that I was having to do a lot of work in order to learn to do something that I would never do again once I had finished that class. I pretty much thought the whole thing was stupid.

I did type again in college a little bit. I typed a few papers and typed a few other people’s papers for a couple extra bucks. But I hated it and figured that after college, I’d never type another letter again.

Then personal computers came along. I liked them. I spent my extra time at work on them and I bought one for the house. From that time on, that stupid typing class has come in pretty handy. Now, there is rarely a day that goes by that doesn’t find me typing something. I’m pretty fast doing it, too. I feel sorry for the guys my age that I work with that hunt and peck and have to take ten minutes to do what I can do in no time at all. Remind me to thank mom for making me take that stupid class all those years ago. It has really come in handy.

It has taken me far too long to make the connection between typing and the lessons God tries to teach me. Every day is a learning opportunity. Each morning I can choose to listen and learn from God and do something with the blank sheet of paper before me that matters or I can just wad it up and toss it at someone across the room and let it lay wasted on the floor.

I can trust God that the lesson I am learning today is important and will really help me in the future or I can declare it stupid and not apply myself to get the most out of it. Even as a slightly brain-damaged junior high school male, I made the choice that I wanted to pass that class even if my sole motivation was to get it behind me. Learning the lesson still made a huge positive impact later in my life. There were others that sat in that same class and never learned anything. They failed the class and to this day are hunting and pecking through everything they have to do on these new-fangled computers.

I have to be aware of God and his presence in my life. I have to understand that the things that come my way are not punishment and torture but they are lessons that I must learn. If I work hard to pass the test, I am prepared for what tomorrow may bring even if it is something new and different that I could never see coming.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

Psalm 119:26 I told you my plans, and you answered. Now teach me your decrees. 27 Help me understand the meaning of your commandments, and I will meditate on your wonderful deeds.

As I sit here this morning, typing as fast as my fingers can type, I am thankful for the lessons of my school days when I learned things that I really didn’t want to learn in order to live a better life today. I am even more thankful that God cares enough about me to personally instruct and teach me. I am grateful for his lessons that change and mold me into something that is ready for the future. That’s important because I have a future that is never-ending and eternal.

One more thing, 88 Fingers Larry, if you are out there somewhere, thanks.