Life from the rear-view mirror

Leaving Texas… VOL. 122

ToyotaLynchburg, VA August 1980

I loaded up my little orange 1973 Toyota Corola that I’d purchased from Les Speakman in Nashville a couple years before, and headed southwest to a little town in Texas on Lake Ray Hubbard…Rockwall.
Rockwall was truly a sleepy little town back then…I still have fond memories of Grandma’s fried chicken, sweet tea and late nights with the boys ( Stan Kellam, Mark Roberts and Mark Hoffman ) at the Truck Stop. These days, Rockwall, TX would no longer be recognizable, or so I’m told.
But anyway…I was on the road once again to what I thought was going to be home…and a place I could settle down. I’d meet and marry a nice Texas girl, buy a pair of boots, get a big belt buckle and maybe starch my jeans…buy a horse or two…oh yea…and finish my pilot’s license, (a quest I had started when I was 16.)

I was close to having life all figured out…or so I thought.
Eight years into it and life wasn’t so “figured out.” I was broke, didn’t have a girlfriend, wore out my boots and had my horses repossessed. ( I actually did have horses)
I hocked everything I had to get my pilot licenses, spent a night in jail for writing a $15 bad check to Kroger’s for food (they are tough in Texas) and was late on my rent.

Something had to change.
Thankfully it did…and I’m writing this from Rochester, NY and not Texas…married with 4 kids and a dog. (I’ve given up on horses…)

So what does this have to do with anything?

This morning as I was putting dishes into the dishwasher I saw two old white bowls on the shelf that I had brought back from my first real, on my own, apartment in Texas, 28 years ago. They are both pretty weary, but they are the only things that remain from my sojourn in the Lone Star State…except for memories.
They are a reminder of the journey that I had been on. I would like to say, “The journey that God led me on…” but God wouldn’t have wanted to take any credit for that crazy 8 years…

In 1988 I left Texas in a big U-Haul truck with Mom and Dad stuffed into the front seat…towing my car. It was a long 1434 miles back to NY… and one of the lowest points of my relatively young life. I’ve only been back to Texas twice. Once for a friend’s wedding and once to do some business. I truly miss my friends there…but I don’t miss Texas…not even a little.
You know…I really should just throw those bowls away. They aren’t much good any longer. They are chipped and cracked and we only use them if there is nothing else clean. But I digress…again.
For many years now I’ve been more attuned to what God is doing in my life. I’m in the Word more…I’m trying to lead my family well…and I’m involved in ministry once again. Life doesn’t look anything like I imagined it would as I was driving to Texas so many years ago…but that is a good thing.
As I feel the rough edges of one of the old white bowls that is holding my cereal this morning (I forgot to run the dishwasher…) I’m reminded that God is not finished with us…until he’s finished with us. If you can still fog a mirror…God can still use you. If you’re available. It doesn’t matter if you have rough edges, cracks or chips. God can still fill up your bowl with good things from his hand.

dugz4 August 17, 2016 Leave A Comment Permalink

A heavenly love tap… …VOL. 121

Speaking for myself, the hardened, skillful sinner that I am…when I’m being disciplined or chastised by God, I often know why…and usually within that period of discipline, I’m convicted of whatever it is and seek to restore the relationship claiming 1 John 1:9.
But Hebrews 12:6 says “For the Lord disciplines him who he loves, and chastises (disciplines) every son whom he receives.”
I have become a big fan of Walter Henrichsen over the past few weeks. Rarely have I looked forward to my devotional reading more. I see myself in the pages and come away with new insight and encouragement…that is if I’m not burdened and broken because of my failing. But my devotional time has never been more profitable.
So according to this verse…the only prerequisite for God’s discipline…or chastisement is that you are a son/daughter, loved by God. The relationship with God must exist first for you to fully understand this meaning.
The discipline may come as a result of disobedience or it may come simply to make us more like Jesus. As Henrichsen implies, it makes little difference as to why…it is all for our good. It is all to help us reach our potential in him. I hope you got that. Whether we are disciplined towards repentance for wrongdoing or disciplined simply to make us a better, stronger follower of Christ…we benefit either way. Love and discipline or maybe Love with discipline. As parents who love our children…we discipline them. We don’t discipline another family’s kids…that would be inappropriate…there is no relationship there.
So it is with God. He disciplines his family. And we are his child if we have trusted Christ to save us. And if we are his kids…we should expect to be disciplined both for our good and for His glory.

dugz4 August 10, 2016 Leave A Comment Permalink

“You’re free to go”….Dude!…Really? VOL. 120

TrooperI always slow down at the same spot on Rt 590S… except for today. I’d just gotten off the phone (hands free speakerphone for all you distraction nazis… ) And as the conversation intensified, so did the pressure of my right foot on the gas pedal. By the time I realized what I was doing and where I was…I saw the State Trooper…hiding in plain sight. I got right off the gas and glanced at the speedometer…72mph. I just signaled and pulled over.
By the time the Trooper got to my window I had all my docs out ready for him. He was a young guy… mid twenties maybe and he was very pleasant, with Tom Cruise-ish looks. He took my license and said he clocked me at 72.

Embarrassed…I said I knew…and that I hadn’t been paying attention due to a rough phone call with my 17 year old who was in crisis. He smiled and quipped “Aren’t all 17 year olds in some kinda crisis?” I chuckled and had to agree with him there too.

He walked around the car to make sure I was legal, then to my surprise (and relief…) handed my license back and thanked me for pulling over so quickly and being respectful. I put my stuff away… signaled, put the car in gear and pulled away. No points on my license. No increase in insurance premium. No speeding ticket…not even a stern “don’t do that again!”

The truth is… I was guilty. I knew it and he knew it. He didn’t have to show me grace, but he did just the same.
I know there’s a big difference between getting a speeding ticket and going to heaven or hell. But I couldn’t help noticing the one common thread…grace. Unmerited, undeserved favor.

I’m thankful I didn’t get the speeding ticket I deserved…I’m more thankful that I won’t get the hell I deserve. I am the benefactor of God’s amazing grace found in Jesus and his death and resurrection. I could never deserve it. It can’t be earned. It is freely given but comes at great expense. The life of Jesus. There is no greater love… No greater demonstration of Grace than Christ’s death and resurrection. It’s a gift of grace to be claimed simply by believing in the gospel message.
John 3:16

Don’t beg God for what He says he won’t give you….VOL 119

beggingI have started reading my own devotions again. I found a book through a FB post from a college friend of mine called: “Thoughts from the Diary of a Desperate Man” The pilot verse this morning was Ephesians 3:3 and goes on to say “…how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly.”
When the Bible is clear about something, we can understand and apply clearly. We can’t (and don’t) always apply that logic to its mysteries. We sometimes approach them as if God is challenging us to “figure it out.” I think those folks who want to run with that “false challenge” may have missed the point. Conjecture and educated guessing are fun, even encouraging us in thinking about the greatness of God…but we should be careful. There are definitely mysteries both in God’s character and his plan that we don’t (and won’t) fully understand now. They are mysteries on purpose. By not understanding fully everything of God and his plan, these mysteries do help us understand that this present life requires us to “walk by faith.”  To trust God even through the fog and uncertainty of mystery.
I have friends who are passionate about eschatology. They can hardly speak of anything else because of the attraction and challenge that the mystery of “end times” provides them. Nothing wrong with that kind of passion and the reading, digging and research that goes along with it. It’s great discipline. However it is not terribly profitable to our main job of teaching and preaching the gospel…bringing as many folks with us to heaven as we can. I’d rather someone come to know that God loves them and has made a way to heaven through Christ and the cross than be able to explain (read that: guess at…) the meaning of the 70th week of Daniel. Again…the desire to fully understand God’s word is noble…but in the case of the mysteries of it…not practical.

Check out this excerpt of the devotion:
“No one can know the future but the One who decides it. Although He has revealed a great deal about the future, much of it can be misunderstood. His promises are true; your understanding of those promises is prone to error. Hold tentatively your convictions regarding the future. Your hope rests on His return, but you know little about when He will return, the exact order of events after His return, and what heaven will be like. Some mysteries have been revealed; more will be revealed when Christ comes again. Speculation may be fun, but it is not all that profitable. God does not want you to know all; He wants you to walk by faith.”

And so I encourage us all to invest in your understanding and application of what God has made clear…and trust God for those things that puzzle or perplex you now.  Just like Morpheus said to Neo*…The answers are coming.

  • The Matrix