Sweet!

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A few years ago, I read a headline that I have never forgotten. Well, I can’t remember the exact words, but I recall the content. Six-Million Pounds of Maple Syrup Had Been Stolen. That’s a lot of syrup. I never read the whole story because sometimes your imagination can create a better story. For instance, my creativity sees clearly the reason they got caught.  Come on, you know they went back to steal eight million pounds of pancake mix and seventeen billion pounds of bacon (the more bacon the better)!  The mob was having an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet!

Is there really that big of a demand for maple syrup on the black market. Is there some big-time mobster who is commanding his men to hoist this stuff because he is addicted to his sugary sauce. “I want mawh maple syrup. Right? I doan care whatcha have tuh do! Okay? I drink gallons of it every day. Yuh with me? Steal it by de fifty-gallon drum. Yuh got me so fahr? I admit dat I love de sticky substance! Okay? Yuh have a problem wit’ dat? Bad-a-boom-bad-a-bin’!

When they got caught and went to jail, did they get nicknames like “Sticky Fingers” or “SWEETie Pie”? Do other prisoners say things like, “Ya have an extra maple bar we can use to escape?” Or “Do you smell maple syrup?” as they sniff their noses in their direction. They are going to be doing lots of time for their crime.  $18,000,000 worth of maple juice is a lot of zeros and tons of sweetness!

But there is something that is even sweeter than six million pounds of maple syrup, David, in Psalm 119:103 (NASB) says: “How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” God’s Word is sweeter than honey and maybe there’s a translation that would say “How sweet are Your wawhds tuh my taste! Okay? Yes, sweetuh than maple syrup tuh my mouth!” (NBAB-New Brooklyn Accent Bible) So, no more hoisting gallons and gallons of maple syrup, just open up God’s Word and Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8)


Is SHHHH an acronym?

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Life has been crazily busy these past few weeks.  Last week, the church I pastor, got stage lights, a new sound board, and video projection system installed.  The end product is great, and the people who installed everything were a pure delight to have around; which was non-stop for almost a week.  The week before, it was VBS; (The letters should stand for Very Busy Schedule!)

By the way, have you ever stopped to notice how obsessed we are with an overabundance of acronyms?  I ate a BLT while watching the NFL on my TV.  VHS tapes got replaced with DVDs and today probably some other acronym that has taken its place.  LOL (Oh wait, there’s another one!)  I even invented one that I think could become famous: LOS (Lots of Sarcasm); not that anyone would ever need that acronym on Facebook! LOS.  I’m sorry, but my original point has gone AWOL or MIA, but don’t call the FBI or CSI, it will BRB.  FYI, I will try and KISS, so it will not take you so long to read this post that you will need to BYOB, and hopefully, there will be no need for FAQ!  Whether you work for the NSA or are a member of AARP or a part of MADD, don’t get mad that acronyms are overtaking your life.  What is my point?  IDK!  Oh wait, I remember my point. (Here’s to hoping the point of this post is not DOA!)  What I was attempting to say is my life has been hectic lately, and on top of all that, my wife is out-of-town too!

My wife is back in Michigan for Uncle Denny’s memorial service (May he RIP).  He was an excellent example of a Godly man. He’s in heaven now with Aunt Pam, Jesus, and of course, lots of other people, and angels. I still remember the time my son, TJ said, “Poppie, will you teach me how to play the guitar.  He asked my son why he wanted to learn to play it and TJ answered, “Because I want to be a cowboy!”  I guess my son had watched too many old cowboy movies where there was singing around a campfire!  Aunt Pam (who passed away two year ago) and Uncle Denny were faithful believers in Jesus.  They followed Him with a passion!  While both of them will be greatly missed, their footsteps are still here for us to walk in!

Some people crave chocolate.  Some people desire attention.  Because life has been so filled with non-stop activity, what I really, really want ASAP is quiet!  Like the old song suggests, The Sound of Silence.  I am not sure what sound silence makes, but it looks like it would sound beautiful! (Can you see noise?  A software program I use suggested the word “looks.”  If that word makes sense, the remix of that song could be The Sight of Silence.)

Everywhere I go, there is some noise.  Even sitting at home, there is the BEEP, BEEP, BEEP of a construction vehicle backing up that can be heard in the distance, every so often.  Now there is a barking dog.  You can catch my drift.  I will not turn this into a Play-by-Play Announcer describing every noise I hear.  Though officially for the record, the refrigerator fan that just turned on is a little loud!

Just like everywhere I go, there is noise, there is something else that is true about everywhere I go.  David, in Psalm 139:7-10 (NASB) concludes: “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me.”

One of these days, I might be able to find a quiet spot, but I will never find a place where God is not there.  Oh wait, I just saw a game sitting on the table and remembered, my son, TJ wants me to learn to play it.   Oh well, even though I might not be able to find a quiet corner to sit in, I can enjoy God’s presence and the company of people I love …anytime and all the time.  And that my friend, is a great thing, IMHO!


Work to Do?

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I am not writing a blog post about wishing for the cool days of winter because it was too hot today.  No, I’ve put a much-needed task off long enough.  So pardon me as I compose a letter—a crucial one—to someone (actually, it’s a something, but I don’t want to offend him more than he already is) who has been giving me the cold shoulder; even though it is summertime.  So here it goes.

Dear Mr. Shovel N. Garage,

I apologize it has taken me so long to write this letter to you.  Do you recall the day I purchased you and brought you home?  It was a snowy, winter day in Klawock, Alaska.  However, before I had a chance to put you to use, it stopped snowing.  Do you recall all of those days and nights at our old house?  You just stood on the porch, like you were a soldier, guarding our house.  Granted, you were cheaper to keep around than a guard dog; I will give you that one.  Anyways, standing around all the time was all you did that winter; the winter of 2014/15.

I am sure you can remember being loaded up in a large, dark shipping container and moving to a new location.  There, life was even easier.  You had a covered area called a garage to stand inside to protect you from the rain and the sun beating down on you.  After a while, you even got to lay down on top of some boxes and just take a nap—a very long nap—while everyone else had to work.  Your job was laying around all the time.  That gig lasted a whole year.  Yipe, even during the winter of 2015/16, in Alaska of all places; resting was all you did.

Which leads me to this last winter, we got hammered with snow, and even though you are not a hammer, you got used many times.  I never used you in a way that took advantage of you, but in the way your maker designed you.   After two years of being able to do nothing but relax, I am concerned with the possibility you felt that that was your purpose in life.

(Warning: This paragraph contains many, many puns!)  So, Mr. Shovel N. Garage, please don’t fly off the handle or give me the cold shoulder any longer.  Shovels are created to, well, shovel.  You’re a snow shovel so you can proudly sing, “There’s no business like snow business, like no business I know!”  Here’s the scoop, snow removal is your thing; not porch standing or garage napping.  I am just scraping the surface, but scraping the surface of the sidewalk is your appointment in life.  Can you dig it?   Your pay is that you can collect each flake of snow likes it’s a long lost coin, and deposit it in the snow bank.  Your reward is a job well done.

It is imperative you realize you are not alone.  The Maker creates everyone for a particular purpose.  The Bible (right after telling us its God’s grace that saves us) shares this truth: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Eph. 2:10 NASU)  Just like you, they too were not created to do nothing but sit, stand, or lay around.  They have God-ordained work to do.  God drew up the blueprints and then created every believer on purpose for a purpose. Each person can seek God, and He will faithfully reveal His divine purpose for their life.  You, on the other hand, don’t need to ask God.  I showed you last winter what your purpose is.

So, my dear Mr. Shovel, I do not know if this next winter will bring you much work or tons of rest.  I recommend you start storing up some energy just in case in a handful of months you need to go outside and perform your intended tasks.

Sincerely,

Pastor Funny

PS.  I sure hope everyone who reads your letter already knows their God-given purpose and if not, they will start on a journey of discovering His plans and objectives for their life.


I Almost Forgot to Title this Post

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The topic of this week’s post excites me to no end.  It allows me to express myself in a very creative way. My mind recalls a time when…sorry, my mind protests this topic so much that it forgets, instead of recalls.

My mind thinks about my daughter often, and my heart loves her very much. Mary is a blonde.  Whenever someone mentions a blonde, it reminds them of a joke.  It reminds me of a time I heard the funniest blonde joke ever.  What’s the joke?  The joke is on me.  My brain visualizes me laughing at the joke, but the very same mind undermines my ability to share it because it forgets where it heard, saw, read, or any other word that describes a way the neurons in my brain processes information.

This parody showcases my thoughts about whatever our topic decides to be on this week.

Sing it to the tune of My Favorite Things (No one is around, go ahead and sing it out loud!)

Verse 1

The florist for roses for my Anniversary

And a card that is so sweet and so pretty,

Mail these packages tied up with string.

I sure think I am forgetting something.

(While the orchestra plays, say: “Oh, that’s right—I need to go to the store!”)

 

Verse 2

Creamer for coffee and fresh apple strudels,

Toilet paper and a bag of egg noodles.

If the list has more than three things,

Then I will probably forget a few things.

 

Bridge

Walked in the room.

Forgot what for.

So, I walk away.

And I simply remember I’m forgetting some things

And then I don’t feel……(“Never mind, I forgot how I’m feeling…Honey, how am I feeling?”)

Since this tune was composed, text messaging has become popular. It saves me from having to remember what items I need at the store.  My wife knows the rule about more than three things.  She must write it down, preferably in triplicate copies.

Sometimes, my mind assumes, due to a recently created acronym (P-L-A-Y=Peaches, Lettuce, Apples, and Yams), that it is safe to go without a list, like an acrobat who performs without a safety net.  My mind brags about how foolproof this tactic can be.  Except it also remembers the time we (my brain and I) wandered around the store saying, “I know that what I am missing starts with the letter ‘C.’”  Trust me, there are lots and lots of items that start with that very famous letter.  And if my memory serves me right, the song “C is for Cookie” was going through my head.  Of course, still in Cookie Monster’s voice, I’d sing “C is for Carrots it’s good enough for me.”  “C is for coconut it’s good enough for me.”  “C is for Can of Creamed Corn…”

Forgetting items in the grocery store, why your body walks into a room, or even why you’re staring in the refrigerator is bad enough.  But forgetting truths about God and His Word is even worse.

David tells himself: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name.  Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits.” Psalm 103:1-2 (NASU) (He goes on to list a few benefits. Here’s a great list, better than groceries to remember:

  • “He forgives all my sins” v3 (NLT)
  • “and heals all my diseases” v3 (NLT)
  • “He redeems me from death” v4 (NLT)
  • “and crowns me with love and tender mercies v4 (NLT)
  • Fills my life with good things v5 (NLT)
  • “The Lord gives righteousness and justice to all who are treated unfairly” v6 (NLT

Why not take a few minutes and read Psalm 103 and add to this list.  And why stop with this Psalm.  You can add to your list other benefits that come to your mind.  And then make sure you put it someplace where you can see it and be reminded that “the love of the Lord remains forever with those who fear Him.” (v17) The benefits that God offers is a great thing to make sure we never forget.  Now, excuse me as I have something important I need to do.  If I can only remember what it is!


A Fortune Cookie that Could Change Your Life

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I finish eating some Chinese take-out, and my hand breaks open the stale fortune cookie.  As a Christian, a random, tiny slip of paper in a small treat is something that makes me smile or even slightly giggle, but it never seriously determines my destiny.   Today’s message inspires me with a potential award-winning idea for a product that could generate millions for The Food Network.

The paper informs me, “The world will soon be ready for your talent.”  My mind hears Jackie Chan’s character Mr. Han from The Karate Kid reading it to me.  As the broken English sage speaks, “The world will soon be ready for your talent,”  a thought occurs to me.  What the world needs is a new kind of fortune cookie.  A fortune cookie that actually tells you the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  The new creation my brain conceives is “Fortune Cookies for Realists.”

The same wise sage voice says again, “The world will soon be…” abruptly stops and says, “The world will never be ready for your talent, as you have no talent.” I knew that message wasn’t for me, as I have at least a few talents. But these sayings might motivate someone to change their future by attempting to prove the slip of paper wrong.

Listen, as the voice of a wise, old sage highlights a few examples of Fortune Cookies for Realists:

• The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, but you won’t even get off the couch to a take one step.

• This is as good as it’s going to get, so suck it up Buttercup and get over it.

• Hey, Chumbo, lose some weight, oh that’s right, you love food and have no self-control.

• Get a job and move out from your parent’s basement.

• Don’t look down, but you spilled plum sauce on your new shirt.

• A blessing will soon stare at you while you take a nap and miss it.

• There is change coming in your future, so start looking nderneath the seats in your car for a quarter, two dimes, and a penny.

You get the drift of the kinds of messages that Fortune Cookies for Realists proposes to articulate to its clientele.  There is a tremendous market for this product, as many people are realists. One dictionary defines a realist as “a person who accepts a situation as it is and is prepared to deal with it accordingly.” In some ways, these fortune cookies should appeal to all of us.  We all need to accept the reality of what is happening in our lives.  There’s no benefit to denying our present circumstances.  Instead, let’s come up with a workable plan to effectively deal with the reality that is staring each one of us in the face.

Just as there may be a market for Fortune Cookies for Realists, maybe we need a new Bible translation, The Bible for Realists. A Bible that actually tells us the truth about us and our future. A Bible that won’t sugarcoat the realities of everyday life. A Bible that…

Come to think of it, all of the Bibles I currently own will do all of the above for you and me. For example, Romans 8:35 (NASU) asks us “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?”  The Bible never waves a magic wand over our lives, and God never tells us to pretend that life is nothing but rainbows and butterflies.  Life throws a pretty mean curveball.  With the joys of life comes some horrible things. God’s Word reveals the truth about the realities we face in our lives.  Our real lives, not cleaned up, watered down, reality denying lives; just our lives as they are.

A few verses later, Romans 8:38-39 (NLT) shares this powerful truth: “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

A Bible for Realists shows us that life is messy.  Sometimes, life attacks us with some pretty awful things like tribulations and distress, or even the death of a loved one. But the best news is that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love.

Right now, I ask you to break open your Fortune Cookie for Realists and read “God loves you very much…no matter what comes your way!” I encourage you to be willing to allow that message to determine the destiny of your life.


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