Friday Night Lights

It’s fall, and that means…

Channelview Fighting Falcons
Channelview Fighting Falcons

High School Football! Friday Night…

Teams have been practicing and preparing for last nights big game of the week. Forget about what happened last week, let’s practice to Win…Win…Win!

Cheerleaders. Drill teams. Marching Bands. Cheering Students. Coaches and staff. Family and Friends.

It can be a big night of excitement, along with those agonies of defeat.

My High School Cameras
My High School Cameras

Back in the day, I went to every sporting event possible. As the school photographer I could hitch a ride on any school bus, to and from the event. Photo’s were the memories of those sporting events. Up and down the sidelines I would lug the school’s trusty twin lens reflex camera, or my 35 MM SLR, and snap action shots. Hopefully, something was good enough to end up in the local paper, the school newspaper, or the school Annual.

Yesterday, a 300 mile drive from the hotel to the cemetery, then to a friends house in The Woodlands, and then to Orange, TX to pick up my family, before returning to the hotel for an ending rest. I chanced upon some memories as I saw football fields lit, buses streaming all around, and even an 18 wheeler painted proudly of the Eagles (?) Marching Band of Barbers Hill.

I was so enticed to pull over and sit in the stands for a little bit. Reminiscing. The night air was cool – a cold front had passed through. Its improbable I would have known anyone in the stands, but I did drive through little towns where I know someone. Cleveland. Tarkington Prairie. Batson. Sour Lake. Even Beaumont! Back to the Hotel – Baytown, Highlands, Channelview, Galena Park School District! Houston.

Who knows. A renewed friendship could have been enjoyed.

But I kept driving. There was no time to stop and smell the roses of the past. One of these days…

It’s a New Day

For a number of years…

I have had a common question I ask when greeting strangers in the market, or another place of business:

It’s Friday, right?

It may be any other day of the week, but the purpose of the question is to open the door for conversation. It may even be Friday… it matters little. I have an avenue to neutral territory. Nothing about politics, or the weather, or about their job. I want to start a new subject, just like we often want the experience of a Friday before the weekend.

Whew! Made it. Work week is ending. Now for some downtime.

Through the years I’ve made many acquaintances that begins the road to friendship, or just a casual “How you doing?” It is a sad affair to pass through life missing the opportunity to connect. In a personality analysis, I realize some are morning people, as I am, and it’s easy to be the sunshine as the new day starts. Others are night owls and they are slow to awake to the new day possibilities, but that does not mean they have no opportunities! No, for them it’s a different process.

But opportunities abound for everyone.

Breathing out peace, kindness and the hope for joy is who I want to be! That is what makes the New Day exciting.

This is what makes me tick!

Day Of Memories

This week has been a time of remembering!

memories-001From 45 years ago, to the present, and throw in a  couple of those even earlier memories, today represents a culmination of joyful times.

Where do our memories come from? The ones you want to remember often are a result of times spent spontaneously. When we were newly wed, my cousin and his wife would call us (several times) as late as 10 pm and invite us to go to Galveston with them, eat a midnight meal, watch the sun come up at the beach, breakfast and then head home. The first time was the summer of Jaws…and we found a dead shark on the beach…Great Memories!

Little memories are often more enjoyed than big events.

Yet we focus so much energy on the big things. Money, plans and results are more important than the treasured nuggets, but it’s those small slices of moments that cause us to recall with a warm fuzzy feeling of completeness.

Today we will share memories with friends, family and strangers of my mother-in-law, Loyce Foshee. Like the arms of a loved one, it is my hope to embrace every person hearing so that each recalls their own special memories to enjoy.

At lunch yesterday, it was noted that we each remember the same event differently. For our own perspective, shaded by the lens through which we see life, we recall the details unique to our own perspective. It is even possible to remember a sad event, and repaint the story line so it becomes happy. Or vice versa. Some scientist believe we subtly shade our storage of memories each time they come to light in our minds. Colors will be different, or at least shaded sharper by other memories. Someone’s name will slip from the storage place, and no amount of defragging or restoring from a backup will recover the name.

Here’s my thought. It’s good to have memories, but it is better to share. A far richer experience is enjoyed when you sit around a table saying, “Hey…. Hey…. Remember when…..”. Laughter, bonding and a tighter hold on your family and friends exist. As my brother said last night, “I miss these times of laughing.”

Getting Oriented

A Return To Texas

img_0098It doesn’t mean I’m home, although I’m a hop, skip and a jump from birthplace, old haunts, or even reminisced stomping grounds.

The one thing it does mean is I get to test out my memory skills.

Where does this road go? In my memory, the street names recall old neighborhoods and businesses. In reality, everything has changed!

This is what happens when you are 30 years traveled from once familiar land marks!

Roads have expanded in width and now punch through to connect with a new system that now exists where a cow pasture once existed. Businesses and buildings come and go, languages have changed and a whole new crowded corridor of differences exists.

Challenged! If time allowed I would explore this new and revised turf. No longer do we use paper maps and directions that include phrases like “…turn at the second brown house past that split oak tree from a lightening strike in that storm of ’07…”. Now we simply speak into a GPS system and it lays out a road map. Traffic jams, construction, time, distance and a few alternatives are quickly in the palm of your hand!

And a voice will instruct you which lane to be in, which turn to take, and will even tell you “Your destination is on the right.”

Where’s the fun in that?!

All chance is gone! It’s like Peter Pan, “Second star to the right and straight on ’til morning. ” (J.M. Barrie) He wrote of mystery, alongside an element of chance! Or Kirk telling Chekhov, “Let’s go that way” and waves his hand to a mysterious point in space.

I’m reading a couple of the early books of Tarzan. Can you imagine giving him directions? “Swing, but bear left at the crocodile lake…” Ha!

We are amazed at the major trek’s that animals make. Birds fly from one continent to another. African land animals seem to understand the seasons and regularly migrate to where life is sustainable. Even the early water explorers (Vikings, Columbus, etc.) constantly looked for the next unknown, and it’s taken thousands of years for humans to migrate to every known place.

We are not happy not knowing what’s next. As one society continues to move, the replacement occupiers fill in the absence and make it their own.

This is why the thought of relocating to new planets is the genus of most science fiction!

Abram followed God’s command….Moses, too. Great communities were built and relocated. And the countryside continued to change. Landmarks of yesteryear no longer exist. Just about everything is growing beyond that past generation of simply knowing how to get from one place to another.

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.

Don’t you just love the imagination of the future???

A Daniel Spirit

Just a simple thought today….

I want to strive to be better.

Daily. And not to assume I’ve arrived, I want to be better than yesterday. Every day I work hard at it, taking nothing for granted. Read.  Study. Learn. Prepare.

Who is my example?  There is a man that speaks volumes to me….

From his youth there was something special about Daniel. Extracted from his home by a triumph kingdom, probably around the age of 12, he was chosen as one with special qualities.

Then the king instructed Ashpenaz, the master of his eunuchs, to bring some of the children of Israel and some of the king’s descendants and some of the nobles, young men in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans. (Daniel 1:3-4, NKJV)

Training begins at home! But God will use That training in every situation…even when in captivity. And Daniel continues to improve! Eventually he is chosen to be over the entire kingdom!

It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom one hundred and twenty satraps, to be over the whole kingdom; and over these, three governors, of whom Daniel was one, that the satraps might give account to them, so that the king would suffer no loss. Then this Daniel distinguished himself above the governors and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king gave thought to setting him over the whole realm. So the governors and satraps sought to find some charge against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful; nor was there any error or fault found in him. Then these men said, “We shall not find any charge against this Daniel unless we find it against him concerning the law of his God.” (Daniel 6:1-5)

Notice! This is the third king he serves under while in captivity. Daniel continues to improve himself and distinguishes himself above all the leaders chosen by the king. When they could find no fault with him, the other leaders simply seek how to use his relationship with his God against him! Even in this they are failures!

Here’s my point. Even when you have done all you can, God will continue working for you behind the scenes. That’s why I keep striving. I do not want to give up!

When I Was Young – Invincible!


That’s What I Always Thought! We were invincible.

Play forever, taking chances where you never thought about the consequences of your actions. Work hard and live with every penny that comes in, you know, there’s always tomorrow to save and squirrel away for the future.

Do what you want now, because there is always a tomorrow.

It has nothing to do with procrastination, that’s simply putting things off. It had everything to do with not thinking about what the future holds, nor what it looks like.

Somewhere along the way, I listened to a voice that made this statement often enough that it started sinking in.

“If you will live like no one else, later you can live and give like no one else.” ~Dave Ramsey

Live now the way you want to be able to live tomorrow when other’s are struggling. This caught my attention and I started thinking about tomorrow. Along the way, I started changing my mind about how to live today and thought more about preparing for that nebulous tomorrow. Some invest wildly hoping for a profitable future. Me, I just plod along in the comfort of regular savings and life choices…

Back in the early 80’s I learned something in a management class… The 5 P’s of Success. My instructor would use his hand and indicate each point with the tip of his finger, rolling from his little finger to his thumb.

Concept of Hand with Electronic FingerprintsPrior Proper Planning Prevents Problems

The mantra of every step of life. Plan for a career and you will have fewer problems, or at least an idea how to address the problems. Plan for retirement, and you will have resources to live comfortably.

Why do we struggle with planning, thinking it through, preparing a pathway of action that gives a better chance of success? It takes perseverance of thought, intestinal fortitude, and continual focus on the future.

However, Jesus tells us that there is a priority of focus. God first, then other things.

“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:31-34 NKJV)

His Kingdom. He does not say to ignore the future, only live now within His Kingdom. Now. His Kingdom has a pathway of living that includes planning for tomorrow. When we put our needs before God’s kingdom, then how can we say we are part of the His Kingdom?

“Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, For you have robbed Me, Even this whole nation. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this,” Says the LORD of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it. (Malachi 3:8-10 NKJV)

I’ve heard some say that there is no tithe today, or, it is only a suggestion. Did you know that Jesus taught more about finances than probably any other single subject? If it was important to him, do you think that it is not important today?

Have we not watched others living life to their view of fullness, and leave God out of their equation.

No thought about the kingdom. No offering. No tithe. No time. No harvest. No preparation. No thought of supporting God’s work or ministries. Some will even point to all of their expenses or busy life as to why they cannot support.

I’ve watched people die on the spiritual vine because they did not support. As their families fall apart you can see their focus is not clear spiritual and worldly… Even a farmer understands that a portion of the seed that can be eaten should be set aside to provide for planting so there will be a future harvest, so should we set aside the portion due to God for our future. Even the ant.

Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, Which, having no captain, Overseer or ruler, Provides her supplies in the summer, And gathers her food in the harvest. (Proverbs 6:6-8 NKJV)

Not everything is supposed to be spent upon present life. This takes planning on your part to think about the future… Praying for you that you will put God first… That’s rightful planning!

Safe Port in the Storm

We are facing some storms here in my neck of the woods!

light-house-001We’ve been warned of high gusts that will bring down trees and rain that will bring floods, the remnants of a Pacific Typhoon. We are used to fall/winter storms that last for days, but this is earlier than normal. Gutters cleaned? Loose items buttoned down? Extra supplies in the cupboard? There are still a few hours before the storm to get ready!

Since we live in the country surrounded by trees with shallow roots, it is easy for those nearest the power lines to cause concern. Many people carry chain saws with them so they can remove these fallen obstacles as they commute. And, we have a generator fueled and ready if we lose power, otherwise we can draw no water from the well!

In the early 80’s, my in-laws visited us in Alaska and I arranged a Halibut fishing trip through my job. My father-in-law and I drove to Homer, spent the night, and boarded the ship early morning. A storm had blown through several days previously and we were warned there would be huge (to us) swells in the bay. Some never made it to the deck, they were instantly sick. Few fish were caught that day, but we sure fed the fish!!

I learned something about storms. I enjoy them. Bad weather events can be fun! It’s not that I enjoy the destruction, but there is something to be said about watching the weather kick the pants off a normal day!

Storms in the south are different than storms in the north. Hurricanes were fairly common, or at least the tropical remnants. With each storm, a new landscape was revealed. In the north we often have storms that revolve around cold fronts and this means a ton of snow and ice. Our last major storm in Alaska (2003) was a 24 hour spate of snow that dumped 38 inches and shut down the city for several days! Excellent!!

As kids we were allowed to climb the trees at the end of the drive when blue northers would blow in, riding the tree branches as if we were on a bucking bronc, only coming down when we heard or saw the crackling of lightening.

But we also know storms can produce great tragedy. Witness hurricane Matthew of earlier this month. Winds that devastate islands not recovered from prior storms, flooding that drives out the masses from their once comfortable existence, over a million structures blown down or flooded over and a recovery time that is years in the making.

When you face a storm, where do you go? A ship sailed into a hurricane in 2015 (Read here) and if their planning was poor, don’t you think they would have been looking for a safe port to escape possible destruction?

In bible study last night, our associate pastor (Jack Peters) taught about the ministry of reconciliation. This is what the church is all about, reconciling the world and all their baggage to a saving Christ. This is our job, in effect, to lead to the port in the storm of life. Some face tragedy and look for salvation, others are drifting along, rudderless and alone. Here’s a foundation scripture for the church to comprehend our purpose.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:17-19 NKJV)

The problem we often have when talking biblical things is the understanding of biblical themes and language. I mean, how do we define words and themes like Grace, Faith, Hope, Mercy, Salvation? If the “ministry” and “word” of reconciliation is committed to us to give to the world, what then does reconciliation mean. As he was teaching I looked up the word to see how we translate it today and I found an interesting insight. Let me share.

Reconciliation – the restoration of friendly relations, or the action of making one view or belief compatible with another.

In the Old Testament, reconciliation was connected to a blood sacrifice as defined by God to Moses. The blood from a bull was poured upon the altar to consecrate and to atone for the sins of the priests (Leviticus 8:13-15). This was necessary before they could minister to the nation. Now, before we confuse the issue, we can all understand consecration as something made sacred or holy. Hence, the altar was a sacred place. It was made sacred by the sacrifice and the blood used to represent the death of sin. Okay…. What is sin? Essentially, an immoral act that is a transgression against divine law. According to God, that simple act of sacrifice made an atonement, an amends (reparation, propitiation) for the sins of the priest. Again, this was necessary before they could minister to the nation.

This process was replicated by every family. Every person needed to approach a sacred altar, and a sacrifice was produced and it’s blood was shed for the reparation of their sins.

We understand that Jesus was the lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8). This was God’s ultimate plan to redeem his lost creation from the sin of Adam and Eve. Through Christ only do we find it possible to be redeemed. And this is the ministry and word that was given to us, the church, to propagate to those we meet in daily life.

This is the purpose of the church.

Giving hope to the hopeless, via the Gospel (Good News) of Jesus Christ. He gave us peace. Not the peace of the world, but the peace of his love (John 14:27) toward men (Luke 2:14). Now, we receive his peace in the face of a world gone mad, but we must also prepare ourselves to exhibit peace to the world. This is what Paul teaches us as we prepare to live in this world… Daily and every moment.

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— (Ephesians 6:10-18 NKJV)

The Gospel we live before the world is a life of Peace and Safety that comes from our trust in a savior that will deliver us in the end, and keeps us from the worldly taint every moment of every day. We are in the world, but not of the world (John 15:19). Yes, we will have tribulations and storms (John 16:33), but there is an internal peace and safety that we have as a result of Christ in us, the hope of Glory! (Colossians 1:27)

Can you not believe that what we experience, this perfect peace of God, is something the world wants? Then, we must live it before others…and I have a closing scripture for you. Think about it. This world needs to see you living before them a life of hope, peace, and joy.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. (2 Corinthians 4:7-10 NKJV)

This is the storm of life we live in, and there is a port of safety in the storm… Our ministry of reconciliation is to get others to find the port.