Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Place I Visit!

There is a place that I visit occasionally and I really hate going there. When I go, I make every effort not to get to far passed the door and I try very hard not to stay any longer than I have to.

Some people go more often than me and some go deeper into the place and some stay much longer and there are even some who never do come out.

As far as I know, though I had heard about that place for years, I don't recall ever going there until just a couple of years ago. I really don't know what caused me to start visiting and I have been there several times since the first time. There was even a time in my life that I was a bit critical of people who went there and stayed to long, obviously I was unaware of the draw.

This time of the year seems to even be worse there than normal and yet has a greater draw to go in than any other time of the year.

In fact I visited there this morning prior to writing this blog and have been more in the past few weeks than probably any other time period for a while. This morning, I decided to stand at the door a little longer and pray for those who go more often, in deeper and stay longer and I hope my prayers helped some to turn around and get out, at least for a while and hopefully for a very long time. My ultimate prayer would be that they never have to ever go back and while I was at it, I prayed that maybe I wouldn't have to back either.

I also never thought I would ever talk about it out loud and many, maybe most who go, don't want to talk about it and do not want anyone to know they have been there.

In fact, you may even be surprised that I go to this place. After all, I am a preacher and the regular person out there would probably cringe to think that a person in my position would ever visit such a place. So, this blog is somewhat of a confession if not a testimony.

The place is a dark place and has a strong grip. I admit, I don't go near as much or stay near as long as many, I just would like to never have to go again.

At this point, some of you are waiting for a humorous twist to this story. You think I am speaking of the shopping mall at Christmas or a nursing home or a deacon's meeting or something of that nature. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

This place is called "Depression". Now, understand, my visits would likely be considered mild compared to so many others and I hope it never goes beyond that. But even at mild, it is not a place I enjoy. It hurts, it drains, it pulls you into ugly places.

Sometimes, circumstances and events help carry you there and they try to force you to stay.

I thought this would be a good time to ask you to pray for those who suffer this condition. Also, I would like to encourage you to attempt to be a little more understanding if you see someone going there or standing there. In addition, you may even be able to help a little beyond your prayers, by being more discerning and maybe a little more sensitive and a little more kind.

My prayer for you is that when you see this place, you can simply keep on walking by and thank God you are not walking through the door and then whisper a prayer for those who are in for a visit.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Where Have all the Children Gone?

I was a bank robber that no lawman could catch and many met their end by virtue of my amazing ability to out draw and out shoot anyone. However, that all ended one day when I called out the wrong man. I made the first move but before my gun was out of the holster, I felt the hot lead passing through my body. Dropping to my knees, my life flashed before me as I was falling forward. The blazing fast sheriff returned his gun to his holster and then jumped up and down screaming... "I won, I won!"
We both laughed as I jumped up and said "Yeah, this time...let's go again!"

No blood, no gruesome entrails flying from my body, just a simple "Bang, bang" and I was down.
In fact, sometime the guns weren't guns at all, they may be a stick or piece of wood or something else I could hold in my hand and stick into the top of my pants when I wasn't "shooting".
Virtual reality for us was a well played imagination.
Trucks, tanks, motorcycles, race cars, mountains, trains, horses...anything you could imagine became a reality as long as you needed them.

We never dreamed of sitting in the house all day playing gruesome, vulgar, destructive video games. When cowboys and Indians were over, we grabbed a ball and bat or found a basket to shoot file shots or a field big enough to play football. Or we jumped on our bikes and raced through the neighborhood.
If we did sit inside and watch TV, it was some silly cat chasing a little mouse or a talking bear stealing picnic baskets or a blue horse that had a quick draw.

I wonder how many hours our children spend playing horribly realistic video games winning points by strangling or beheading or blowing off a head or stabbing or torturing the so-called enemy.

Then the so-called realistic TV shows on network television, you know, all the Detective, medical, police, investigative dramas. Many have pushed the envelope as it relates to language and visuals that are too realistic to handle. Then move over to some of basic cable shows and the language deteriorates and God help you if you watch the premium channels like Showtime or HBO.

Who are the highest paid people in our culture? Entertainers, musicians and athletes. I am not trying to degrade them as I enjoy each of those categories. However, we put our priorities in areas that promote self indulged attitudes and aspirations.

Our society has chosen now to turn our backs on biblical principles and God instituted and ordained family models and the sovereignty of human life. We have decided as a people that character means little to nothing and that respect for other people is almost non existent.

Even down to the grade of customer service you can expect now days in Lowe's or Wal-Mart or most fast food chains and on and on. Sorry to offend anyone, but I struggle with dumping my money in these places while being treated like I'm a bother. But it all goes right back to our attitudes and our values in this time period of our existence.

So, when we spend hours watching television reports about horrible incidents that occurred in Connecticut on December 14th or the 22 children that were stabbed in China on the same day, we shake our heads. How can anyone be so sadistic. Really? What exactly can we expect to produce with the kinds of values and convictions we have demonstrated in our entertainment, our self indulged ideals and our lack of respect for one another.

We have cried long enough "God Bless America" (or any other society), we must now begin to bless God. Unless we return to His values and His desires our hope on this earth is swiftly disintegrating.

The peace of God can be ours when we first make Peace WITH God through His Son, Jesus Christ.

God Forgive us of our trespasses!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

And Then The Tears

On Tuesday, November 6th, 2012 I left my house early in the morning to catch a 7:30 flight in Norfolk to Orlando.
My dearest friend was about to make his journey home...his eternal home. Hoping I could arrive prior to his departure, I little more than made it out of my own city, than at his normal 5:00 a.m. devotion time, he went ahead and had his devotion time with God in person.
That really was best, because his wife and their two children (his oldest son was not there) were there together in those final moments and that's as it should of been.
So later that day, I arrived and was able to hold his family and love them. Later still, I was able to see my friend, whose tent was peacably displayed for a private viewing for his family and I. I hugged him, thanked him and kissed him and whispered to an unhearing ear, "I'll meet you on that beautiful shore." Those were the words to a song he had sung to me a few times on the phone...before he was even sick.

We celebrated his life in The Villages, Florida two nights later with around 75 people with several asking Jesus into their hearts. Three days later, we celebrated again in Rome, Georgia with maybe 250-300 people again with several asking Jesus to come into their lives. Seven days later we had our final service in Chesapeake, Virginia celebrating this wonderful man's life with between 600-700 people present, all of which was a wonderful testimony of the people whose lives this 60 year young man had touched.

Through all of this, I enjoyed sufficient strength from the Lord as a pastor and friend when ministering and loving on others. That strength was a gift and should not be confused for a lack of love or caring as anyone who knows me would realize (I'm kind of a cry baby).

Yesterday, I was relieved apparently of a good measure of that gift of strength ... for yesterday I cried and then to cover all bases, I cried some more. In fact, I was introduced to last night's sleep with a wet face and a broken heart. Not for my friend ... but for me! Selfish, maybe ... but it is his fault. He's the one who came into my life and made sure I never stopped learning to be who God wanted me to be.

One is blessed to have had such a friend and I am thankful.