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The sun has risen today as its habit has been for nearly countless days in centuries past. No one who doesn’t love the sunrise lets these beginnings slip by into a bulging collected past. Nevertheless, once a year we climax holy week with the recognition of one very special day from yesteryear.

Resurrection Sunday is the most sensational day of the year.

On this heart-catching, smile-motivating, joy-celebratory day of the year, the world commemorates the miracle of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. This not a life restored only to die again; but, this was the first life to die and then to be raised never to die again. Astounding!

It is a first-fruits of the Resurrection promised to all people who follow Jesus as their Savior. He forgives them of their sin because he paid the price of their sin. The cost was eternal death.

But, he did not remain in the grave. Instead, God the Father raised him from the dead on Sunday nearly 2000 years ago. That one miracle gave all people the opportunity to put their faith in him and received the gift of eternal life. Marvelous!

Our world tries to offer alternatives to faith in the Resurrected Jesus Christ. Don’t listen to those odd options. Jesus is the real deal and his offer is as genuine as he is really the Son of God.

Put your faith in him and you will be saved.

Make this Easter the reason for your transformed life. Jesus gave us a wonderful gift of new life and forgiveness that will transform your life. It will be a life that will have an amazing future, including an inheritance that will never perish, spoil, or fade.

If you have never put your trust in Jesus the risen Lord, do so today. I invite you to accept this amazing gift, purchased at great cost, done for you because God loves you, and guaranteed by all that God is.

He is Risen! He is Risen indeed!

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IMG_1337It’s a Friday recognized around the nation. In fact this particular Friday is recognized around the world. Nations with very different cultures, certainly with language variations, and economic mixes all acknowledge this special Friday.

Commonly people note that this unique Friday is named, “Good Friday.”

To the uninitiated it is the day that commemorates the day when Jesus Christ died on the cross. He did that so that he could be the sacrifice for the sins of all people at any time. Jesus was not guilty of anything; He had no sin himself.

Yet, the people who lived and ever lived all had sin. Without exception every one is a sinner. That spiritual malady has a consequence. The Bible is clear that “the wages of sin is death”.

Sin disqualifies us from ever entering into the presence of the Father in heaven. To do so means that the price of sin has to be satisfied. Jesus willingly did that for all.

Jesus is the Son of God. He is perfect, sinless. As the perfect lamb, he gave up his life so that our sins would then be paid in full.

He frees us from ever thinking or trying to do good deeds on our own, hoping that those works will earn our way into heaven. Now, if this is true, then what a relief it is! That sacrifice is astounding!

Before you get too excited, however, this is not automatically applied to your eternal account. There is a single simple requisite for us. Each of us, personally, must exercise our faith and accept the gift of Jesus Christ.

The horrible death he died on the cross for the sins of the world was an expression of selfless love. That part of his experience was not “good”. In fact it was horrible, an ignominious death.

However, the fact that it was a gift of love for all, leading to eternal life for any and all who believe, that is what is GOOD. Have you accepted that amazing gift? You can.

Sincerely believe that Jesus died for your sins. Also, accept the fact that he rose again from the dead when the Father directed him to do. Thank him for your salvation.

That is why this day is good. It satisfies God’s wrath against sin. New life through the Resurrection climaxes the Easter season. He is Risen! He is risen INDEED!

IMG_1547Landing in Quad-cities Moline, Illinois seemed like ages ago. In truth it was a mere two nights ago. Iron Sharpens Iron, a men’s ministry had targeted the region for an inspirational and learning gathering of local men who are followers of Christ. It was my pleasure to be invited to be one of two keynote speakers.

 

It is March. For Texans like me, that means it is Spring time. Temperatures are moderate, sunshine is dependably warm, and flowers are blooming to add amazing color to the landscapes.

The forecast for Davenport was 8″ of snow for the Saturday of the conference. SNOW in March! Skepticism of the weather Springtime warning was rather high for a man of faith. I dismissed the odd report as if it were some kind of oddball joke.

Saturday morning my ride was on time. We drove to the gathering where 900 men greeted us with enthusiastic expectation.  These men from 83 different churches jumped into worship with gusto even though it was snowing relentlessly outside.

After the events were concluded the men bundled up against the snow and streamed out of the auditorium and headed home. I patiently waited for my ride to the airport. Once we arrived at the terminal and said our good-byes, my eager feet to go home took over.

At the counter the bad news hit like a freezing cold snowball smacking me on the side of my head filled with forecast skepticism. The agent was apologetic. Weather induced delays would not allow me to make my connecting flight.

The best she could do was book me on the same flight 24 hours later. My! Smile and accept the inevitable.

My hosts were great. They covered the extra night at the Iowa hotel.  The invitation to attend church the next day was delivered with enthusiasm.

It was all great fun.  Unexpected fellowship breeds celebratory fun. Meeting others and worshipping with a new body of believers was an elixir.

Now, I am at the airport and have a six-hour wait for my flight. What to do? Easy!

My computer booted up easily.  Next to it was my recharging I-pad.  Of course I had a wonderful conversation with my bride.

Every hour, I took a walk down the concourse.  Maybe a few extra steps will make the day flow smoothly. Now, it’s up to the airlines to have a do-over.  I hope they have a great day of flying me home very soon.

The article on the inherent dangers of sugar made sense. A little bit goes a long way. But, a little bit of sugar just doesn’t seem to be the operational mode for any drink that uses sugar at all.

Finally, some relief.  The featured piece did make an allowance.  Since diet drinks did not use sugar, any of those options were legitimate.

Not long ago I was sipping on my diet drink.  Then, I was reading an article on the dangers of sugar substitutes.  It was even difficult to pronounce the names of these replacement sweeteners.

Of course the point of the article was to try to dissuade people from drinking the suspicious diet drink. Who knows what affects those horrible beverages will have on the innocent human body. But, at least there was some hope in this read as well.

Tea was a good option. Everything was natural. Tea was beneficial in fighting many diseases and illnesses.

Following the health nut recommendation, I was sipping on my bottle of green tea.  Of course I was reading an article. It was a connoisseur of teas that was being interviewed but of course another health tabloid.

She was saying that tea was a wonderful beverage. However, only drink freshly brewed teas. Bottled teas don’t have along shelf life and turn acidic over time. Acidic teas neutralize many of the health benefits from drinking teas.

Being the compliant learner that I am, I set aside my bottled green tea and began brewing my own.  The aroma was wonderful.  A hot cup of great smelling tea was the kind of comfort food that makes our day go along well.

Then, while enjoying a comfortable seat, enjoying the internal warmth from my freshly brewed cup of tea, I casually read the health wise article in front of me.  The missive traced the production of  materials used by many companies selling tea for tea bag brewing.

Shock! This material is cheaply made and massively exported all over the world.  The problem is that the production is unregulated and the materials used are carcinogenic! Good grief!

What’s a conscientious person supposed to drink around here, anyway?

Jesus turned the water NOT into diet soda.  Nor did He turn it into bottle green tea.  He didn’t even turn it into freshly brewed tea.  It was wine!

Pass me a bottle, quickly! I’m thirsty.

On my way through the parking lot while walking to my office, I was attacked. A guy ran up and threw a bottle of Omega 3 pills at me. I was very thankful that my injuries were only “Super Fish Oil.”

Are you laughing or moaning?

I am still chuckling over this joke. My wife rolled her eyes. None of my kids reacted over the thousands of miles that separate us.

When I hear someone tell a joke that has a great set up and punch line, I react. It feels good to laugh. Funny is healthy, enjoyable, and makes the day sparkle.

Ordinary people laugh a lot. The older they get they keep laughing. In fact they laugh more often and more heartily.

My years have loosened me up. Some things that put me into a panic, now make me laugh. When I see young men furrow their brow, I just laugh.

Jocularity may or may not add years to my earthly life but it sure is fun regardless. Humor makes me smile. There seems to be a release of pressure, stress, and concern when our funny bone is activated.

A crusty curmudgeon brashly ordered his wife to take over and drive. He had to change the batteries in his hearing aids. They were on their way to warmer climates from their Michigan home.

The old goat was fussing and cussing, while fumbling with his hearing aid parts now spread all over his lap.  She pulls over.  Warren gripes, “Whatcha doing?” Then, he notices the flashing blue lights of a State Patrol car. “Ha! You old bitty, now you’ve gone and done it.”

With the car stopped, the salty grouch gets more snarky when he glances back at the approaching officer, noticing that the officer is a female trooper, “She ain’t having no mercy on an old hag like you!”

“License, please,” the officer asked.
“Eh? Rude Warren intrudes, “What’d she say?” ”
“No worries, dear, she just asked for my license.”
“I notice that you’re from Michigan,” commented the officer.
“Eh? What’d she say?”
“It’s fine, dear, she just said that we were from Michigan.”
“Never been to Michigan myself,” said the officer, “but I had one blind date with the ugliest crudest guy in the world. He was from Michigan.”
“Eh, what’d she say?”
“Oh, she just said that she thinks she knows you.”

What to do? My bride and I were in our old home state for the holidays.  She was off for the day with her sisters for a girls day out.  What to do?

Aha! The movie website was a quick touch of an app away.  Scrolling through the nearby theaters and the list of current movies solved my dilemma.  Nope, I have seen that one.  Again, that was one that we saw together.  Uh, nope, I am not into scary movies or raunchy ones either. Hmm, now there is an interesting one.

One swift click on my phone and I successfully bought a ticket for the earliest showing.  My GPS beeped, flashed, and then guided me safely to my destination.  The lights dimmed, commercials ran humorously, and then the featured event began.

The lead star was all talent. He danced, he sang, he charmed his way through life overcoming hardship, poverty, rejection, and despair. Love and dreams fueled his life.

He found others who were despised and disrespected.  His dreams found them all a new family, life and love that they could share.  When that world crashed and burned, they pulled themselves up and rebuilt an even better life.

It was a feel good movie from the start until the end.  The music was energizing.  Episodes of people’s lives were engaging.  Memories of The Greatest Showman linger for me.  I liked the movie so much that when my bride was free a week later, I brought her to the showing too.

However, I have read reviews of critics who did not like the movie. Their criticism centered on the “historical inaccuracies.” The movie portrayed P.T. Barnum as a folk hero of sorts, helping the oppressed, coming to aid of victims of racism, and giving a hand to the ethnic people marginalized by the community.  Critics claim that he was just the opposite.  He exploited the victims of race, prejudice, and abuse.  They say he did it all to line his own pockets.

Phooey!  I don’t know much about the history of this man.  But I liked the movie. Claims of racism sure seem to be subjective.  History not only stumbles over the truth about this evil, but contemporary people trip up also.  Just because we accuse someone of racism does not necessarily make it true.

Whatever history validates and whatever opinions fuel more arguments, I am left with the same conclusion.  I liked the movie. I liked it a lot!

fullsizeoutput_1ad3Stepping off the carousel of life is risky. Who knew it was spinning fast? The stationary ground grabbed my feet. The abrupt change was startling.  Left knee smashed my right knee. Yeow! That hurt.  I stumbled but with cat-like reflexes, my landing was like sticking an Olympic gymnastics landing.

The spinning world of work, obligations, deadlines, and meetings faded away.  Family and friends came into view.  Our plane landed with a little bounce on the Oakland International Airport tarmac.  My bride and I gathered our belongs and stepped into a busting metropolis that many would find hectic, chaotic, and even unfriendly.  But, we grew up here.  It was familiar.  This was home.

A chance to catch our breaths came at the curb.  Our shuttle to the car rental pickup area was running slowly.  We cashed in on our first chance to run through the schedule.  It was like looking at our work planners.  There was tons to do just like our careers back in Houston.  The activities were just different.

Old friends from decades long ago were part of our Christmas season.  Relatives on the other side of the family were on our calendar.  Each evening we rehearsed where we would be the next day.  Soon we couldn’t remember where we had been or who we had seen.  Now, it was just about who we would see the next day and where we would meet them.

It was sheer fun!  Old friends had eyes that had not changed over the decades past.  Their smiles were filled with eagerness to share.  After all we had tons of moments to relive together.  Our miles apart had stolen those times to share together.  Introductions needed to be made.  Children and old friends needed their lives filled in and colorized.  There was an occasional pause when we told of sad news, deaths, or abandonment.  Why does life always have to include pain?

We talked on and on.  Time was no friend to these interchanges.  My watch reminded me that we had to be off to the next gathering.  We smiled. We frowned. We hugged and shook hands.  Promises to keep in touch flowed freely.  Hope made us optimistic.  Maybe this time we would keep those promises.

Old friendships never die. They never stay the same.  Over time life keeps on getting richer and richer.  Miles separate us but friendship keeps us together.

24129915_10154330375522614_4886734873588727424_nThe detour from our normal carpool route home was not much trouble at all.  It gave us a respite from the stressful torrential traffic escaping downtown Houston and flowing like an endless flood to our home in Katy.  My momentary duty was simply to serve my wonderful bride of 40+ years.

A second grade teacher is always on the look out for “stuff” to enhance the learning experience of these little tykes.  Colleagues are constantly sharing discoveries that bring vivaciousness into the classroom. Then it’s off to discover where to acquire the props, visuals, and inter-actives for my lifelong educator soul-mate.

We found the store.  It was still open.  The Texas cool breeze was kicking up.  I zipped up. Then, I opened the car door for my wife.  He arm slipped around mine. We huddled against the cooler temperatures and trotted into the store.

She as on casual exploration.  Like many teachers, she was into browsing not only for her objective but also ready to pounce on any other curiosity along the way.  I was content.  That night I was just the chauffeur.

Wandering the aisles was just a time-filler.  When I fancied a longer look at something, I did. Often I would just stroll the aisles.  The SALE sign, however, drew me close.  I didn’t make it that far.

A smile arrested my attention. Automatically, I stopped and turned my head.  It wasn’t a mistake.  I smiled back.

With gentle hands, I lifted that creature up close to my face. It was the most adorable puppy in the world.  Carefully, I turned him around and around.  Soft, cuddly, and pleasurable.

Of course, the price tag was missing.  I carried my new friend to a salesperson. How much? Let’s check.  He was no help. I went back to the display counter and found his twin.  The price is the price. Sold!

At the register, the fast-moving clerk paused to hold the puppy and express her feelings, “Awww…” Snapping back into reality, she smiled, complemented our choice, and went back to ringing up our total.

The walk back to the car was my chance. “Here, this little guy is for you.”  I passed the cutest puppy in the world to my bride.  Her look was delight with wonder. “Just-because” I grinned, “Just because.”

That’s what love its.

uber lyftMy travel tastes are simple, uncomplicated, and straightforward.  Diva-stuff has never entered my mind and never sits well in my soul when it happens on those very rare moments.  Separation from people is not my gig; rather, identifying with the common person is my arena of comfort.

Travel makes me face the discomfort of figuring out how to get from point A to point B without any glitches.  Usually, public transportation from the airport to the hotel works.  If the hotel has a shuttle that is one step better.

Simple isn’t in the city planning schedule of the older cities of our nation.  Hotels don’t always have a shuttle to the airport either.  That’s a mystery!

Enter the private shuttle car service.  Some like the first and largest of those services.  I have looked at the competitor and much more preferred their business model.  When my assistant suggested that I try a phone ordered service for my trip back East, I hesitated.

In my office I am one of the least techie types. This new transportation option would depend on my smart phone skills.  With a smile I let my assistant put that feature into my travel plans.

My personal faith is locked into the sovereignty of God.  After all, if he is god, then he must be all-powerful and exclusively determinative over all matters.  I might as well learn to put that conviction into faith practice with something as simple as my transportation challenges in a distant city.

My assistant even gave me a link for an online tutorial.  Again, the techie option was necessary.  After viewing the online introduction, I downloaded the app and practiced.  She came in to check on my progress.

Smiling, chuckling, and grimacing I was off to the airport for a rendezvous with my responsibilities.  On the curb of the airport pickup area, I sent my request for a ride.  Just like the tutorial, I received a response, affirmation of the driver, his picture, and a real-time map of his en route travel to my pick up point.

We had a great conversation, discovered many common interests, and arrived safely at my destination.  “J” was a refreshing part of my stay in the city of business.  Now, I’m a veteran of private shuttle car rides.  Me, Mr. non-techie simple kind of guy, is hip with the transportation style of the modern age.

IMG_0488My email box showed that I needed to give some attention to incoming messages that had been stalled in quarantine.  Some inquiries were sales calls.  I didn’t to see those.  But, then, Dan has sent me a message.  I wanted to see what was up with him.

My email filters require that I click on a delivery option if I saw that a legitimate message had been tied up.  A simple click sent that message on its way to my mailbox. There was even a beep when it was delivered.

Dan wanted to know if I had any interest and time to come down to the radio station and record some Christmas 60 second Gospel presentations.  I wrote back immediately and agreed to make room in my calendar to record these moments.

I opened my Bible on my computer.  It was time to start a file for five 60 second talks for a clear Gospel presentation.  This was the fun part.  Christmas verses in the Bible are great reminders of the miracles that are a part of the birth of Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 9.6 speaks about the birth of a child, the son who is given as a gift from the Father.  He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  These are majestic and grand names.

The story of Mary is etched in inspired Scripture found in Luke’s Gospel.  The virgin gave birth to a son.  This miraculous conception was not impossible but historic so the Son could be born to die for all the world.

Micah 5.2 reveals the prophesy of Jesus’ roots out of Judah and His destiny to rule over Israel.  God makes a promise to ancient Israel and fully intends to keep it.  His character requires nothing less.

Christmas is all about the Christ child.  He was born as the answer to all man’s trouble with sin.  In time Jesus would die for the sins of the world.  He will pay the price for our transgressions.  Then, once made savable, we can then by faith accept Him as our Savior.  What a gift! That’s the heart of the Christmas story.  Merry Christmas!

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