God’s Providence – If we notice, we see it

In the last several weeks, we’ve heard sermons about the providence of God. This article is too short  to even comment on that broad and deep subject. But, I will mention a few things I’ve thought about lately.

In the 1960’s I lived in Bel Air Estates subdivision when it was “outside” Statesboro. Georgia. Highway 80 out there was a two-lane blacktop, and most of the roads in the subdivision were dirt. There was a new house   being built down the street from where I lived, so my cousin, Lewis, and I went exploring.

While we were inside the half-built house, a car drove up so we scrambled into the attic and hid. The family building the house was checking out the progress. There was a mother, a father, a son, and a daughter. They didn’t discover us, so, after they left, we climbed down and laughed our way back to my house.

The daughter’s name was Sharon. Our 45th wedding anniversary will be July 20th.

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Mrs. Bice, the guidance counselor at Statesboro High, sent a note asking me to come to her office. When there, she asked me what I planned to do after high school. I said I guessed I would stay at home,      attend Georgia Southern, and figure out what courses to take.

She told me she thought that would be a mistake, and that I should go to Georgia Tech. I apparently had done well enough on the math part of the SAT that her advice was to take advantage of that. So, I did, and became an engineer, which is now clear to me, and Sharon, that it was my calling for a profession.

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When our son Daniel was 4, Sharon and I decided to move from Savannah to either a small town or to the “country.” We found a wonderful renovated 100 year old house in Oliver and signed a contract contingent on selling our house in Savannah. We weren’t able to sell in time, so that fell through. We continued the    process and were out exploring one day and I said I’d show her a friend’s place where I had been dove      hunting. As we drove down the dirt road, Sharon noticed an empty house. We stopped and sat there looking and talking and my friend happened to drive by and I waved him down. He took us down the road to meet the brother of the house’s owner. We’ve lived in that house in southeastern Bulloch County over thirty years now.

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Nearly twenty-five years ago, Daniel’s friend, Garrett, invited us to go to church with them and we  accepted. And now, those many years later, I’m sitting here writing an article for that church’s newsletter.


“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” 
Proverbs 16:9

 

Break Up Your Fallow Ground – But be careful!

Break Up Your Fallow Ground – But be careful! (Facebook folks, click on the link to see the entire post)

wheat and tares phlox 2

Here’s some fallow ground that needed breaking up in late winter. Looks like I could just go in and turn over everything and get ready for Spring. But if you look closely you see some things that aren’t weeds. So I had to be careful breaking  up this fallow ground.

This reminded me of Jesus’ Kingdom parable of the Wheat and the Tares (Matthew 13:24-30). There was a field a man planted with good seed (wheat) and at night an enemy came and planted bad seed (tares) in the field. When the field hands saw it (later, when both had grown enough to recognize) they asked the owner if he wanted them to pull the tares up. The owner’s reply was to wait, since pulling up the tares may also pull up the wheat.

While, I had to be careful what to pull up, and pulling some of the weeds actually unrooted a good plant, it was clear enough I could pull the weeds and leave the plants. I’ll leave it to you to study more on Jesus’ parable since it goes deeper than good plants and bad plants. But, I’ll leave a warning that we be careful when breaking up fallow ground – whether physical, spiritual, or relationships. Be sure to look closely for the good and not take it away with the bad.

It’s summer now, and here are the white phlox that were hiding in the weeds.

Phlox in bloom

The Towers Crossed, It’s a New Year, And God is In His Heaven

Radio Tower

If you’ve driven Interstate 16 in Georgia between Savannah and Macon (on the way to Atlanta), you know the signs of civilization are sparse in some sections. You should have seen it forty plus years ago. Back then, it was so sparse you had to check your gauge before heading out because the gas stations were nearly non-existent.

Back then, I attended Georgia Tech in Atlanta. I drove the highway most Sunday nights because I went home every weekend I could, in order to see my future wife, Sharon. (We had already decided she was my future wife and me her future husband, we just hadn’t told anyone.) Sunday night was the sad time of the weekend, when I left her and headed back to Atlanta.

It was a lonesome drive and I spent much of the time trying to find decent radio stations to listen to for a few minutes before they faded away. But, as I neared Macon, I could always pick up WMAC—a good radio station with a strong signal that stayed with me for about an hour.

Also, as I neared Macon, (Mile Marker 9 on I-16 , measured from Macon) there were two radio towers off to the left. I watched each time, and near the spot where I passed the mile marker, the towers lined up and looked like one tower for a split second. As I continued, they would start to visually separate, and then over a hill and around a bend they were out of sight.

Although I never measured it, I took the point where they looked like one tower as the middle point of the journey. On the Savannah side I was leaving Sharon, and on the Macon side I was going to school. My thoughts would go to what paper was due or which test was coming up. But, of course, Sharon and the big picture of the two of us eventually being together remained uppermost in my mind.

It’s a new year. At midnight, New Year’s Eve, two towers in our personal journey appeared to be one for a split second, but they’re already farther apart and will continue to separate. We may or may not feel we are leaving something behind, but, now we should focus on what we need to do as we go forward. And, of course, the Lord and the big picture of us eventually being together with Him in Heaven should remain uppermost in our mind.

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” Revelation 21:4

I Don’t Know What It Is

What is it?

What is it?

I downloaded the photos from my camera and remembered all except this one. I had no clue. If I was taking pictures with film and the developed photo looked like this, I would think there had been trash all over it. Or perhaps thought it was a shot from the movie Ghost that picked up the dark spirits passing by.

I reviewed the other photos from the download and retraced my day’s steps. Then I remembered this was a shot from the front yard and there was a flock of hundreds of blackbirds landing and circling in the peanut field across the road. Obviously my camera isn’t fast enough for rapidly moving blackbirds.

If you were able to tell what this was before I explained it, you were more perceptive than even me, who took the photo in the first place. But, I would think most folks were like I was at first – didn’t have a clue.

My confusion over the photo reminded me of Philip and the Ethiopian in the desert (Acts 8.) The Ethiopian was sitting in his chariot reading out loud from the 53rd chapter of Isaiah. Philip heard him read: “He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living

Philip asked if he understood what he was reading, and the Ethiopian replied “How can I, except some man should guide me?” And Philip guided him through Scripture and he understood (in fact, came to saving faith and was baptized.)

At times we may feel like we don’t have a clue about a passage in the Bible. If prayer and meditation don’t provide clarity, that means it’s also time to ask  someone to guide us. And, on the other side, there are Scripture passages we understand clearly. Along with prayer and meditation, that may be the opportunity to guide someone else.

How can I, except some man should guide me?” Acts 8:31

 

A Change of Perspective May be Needed

Pecan Orchard Cropped

See the Forest and the Trees

The facilitator of the corporate liability workshop mentioned the famous case when the woman sued McDonald’s because she was burned when she spilled a cup of coffee in her lap. Of course, there was laughter and some guffaws about how frivolous the lawsuit was. “Surprise! the coffee’s hot – well, duh”.

When the laughter quieted down, the teacher asked: “What would be your response if I told you that particular McDonald’s had a defective coffee maker that overheated the coffee, and they had been receiving complaints about it for several months?”

The room was totally hushed as we pondered what she had said. Someone quietly spoke up, with no laughter, “How could they let a problem go on like that?” The perspective had totally changed.

The facilitator (an attorney) wouldn’t verify that was the situation, but she did get our attention – both from a corporate liability point and a personal aspect. Sometimes we need to change our perspective and get more information or do a little more thinking before we react hastily.

Balaam was riding his donkey and the animal stopped and would not move. (Numbers 22). Balaam beat the donkey mercilessly and threatened to kill him. The Lord opened the animal’s mouth and the donkey asked, in effect, “why are you beating me? Haven’t I always been your faithful servant?”

Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes and Balaam saw the Angel of the Lord standing in the path with a drawn sword. Had the donkey not seen that and stopped, Balaam would have been slain. Balaam bowed his head and fell flat on his face. His perspective had totally changed.

A bit of waiting and thinking can change our perspective and keep us from making mistakes.
Be still, and know that I am God;” Psalm 46:10

The Door of Temptation?

The Door of Temptation?

The Door of Temptation?

When I walk through this door each Friday, my rebellious streak confronts me. This door is at the local Post Office and I go there to check our church’s mail.

The problem is there is a rule, but there are also choices. See the PULL decal? That’s the problem. Some door signs say PULL and the door is physically built so that’s the only way. If you PUSH, it goes nowhere. If you want to go through, you PULL.

The problem with this door is it swings both ways – you can follow the sign and pull, or you can ignore the sign and push, and either choice will get you into the Post Office.

I think I know the logical reason for it being a PULL not a PUSH. If you push the door, you’re more likely to hit someone who is coming toward the exit from inside. But, my thoughts are it’s a glass door and I can clearly see the area around the door. I’ll be careful and I won’t hit anyone. And, besides, physically, the push is easier, smoother and faster. You don’t stop but just move right through.

Good excuses, aren’t they.

If you follow the sign and pull, it’s safer. Being “easier” and “smoother” probably aren’t measurable. And, “faster” could be measured in fractions of a second. So, why would the thought of pushing even come to mind?

That’s where the rebellious streak comes in. We don’t want to be told what to do and not do. We want to make the choices and “do what’s right in our own eyes.” That’s when we get into trouble.

If deciding once a week whether to push or pull a door was the only time we had to confront our rebelliousness, that would be simple. The problem is we are confronted with it in every decision we make, and many, obviously, are much more important than push or pull.

So, what should we do? We should pay attention to the signs. If it says PULL, we should pull. Or yield for a YIELD, and stop for a STOP.

However, all signs aren’t written in plain sight in capital letters. Some are simply written in our hearts. If we notice our anger rising, or if we think thoughts like “this is a stupid thing to have to do!” or “I’m not going to do that!”, we need to realize our rebellious streak (put simply, our pride and selfishness) could be rearing its head and we may be ignoring a sign. Then, instead of pushing on through, we need to stop and look within our heart for the Lord’s sign and follow it.

“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:” Hebrews 8:10

Sometimes You Have to Take a Photo of God’s Creation

Cloud Over Tree Garden

Cloud Over the Tree Garden

These days smart phones have made it easy to take photos of anything and everything. Some worthwhile and some not. Here’s one I thought was worthwhile. I was cutting grass, listening to a Nero Wolfe mystery novel (on my smart phone). As I made the turn, this was before me. What a beautiful sight of God’s creation!

“The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” Psalm 19:1 ESV