Apr 182021
 
Two of the helicopters that landed in my neighborhood

I went for a walk this morning, just through our neighborhood. It was amazing. There were thousands and thousands of helicopters everywhere. It was like helicopters were growing on trees. Who could design that? A tree that manufactures helicopters?

Jan 012021
 

I helped my son move to Knoxville this week. It was a bittersweet experience. I was glad for the opportunity to help, but sad to see him go. He and his family are now four hour away instead of 20 minutes.

After we finished unloading the U-Haul trailer, I was getting ready to come back home when he asked me if he could pay for the gas. I told him “No, but there is one thing you can do for me.”
“What’s that?” he asked.
“Promise me that if you ever need help, you will call me.”
“I promise.” he replied.

Fighting to maintain our macho guy image, we both got a little glassy eyed, gave a quick hug, then quickly turned and walked away. The emotions were strong because I am his father, and it gives me comfort to know that my precious son would not struggle alone when he needs help. My love for him stretches way beyond the four hour drive to Knoxville. I want him to know that if he needs me, I will be there for him. I might not always see or do things the way he wants, but I want him to always, always, always, know that if he needs anything, he should talk to me about it, because we love each other.

So, that brings me to this morning’s bible study. It was from Luke chapter 11. It’s the story where the disciples ask Jesus how they should pray and he gives them an example, and a story about always asking, seeking knocking. Those christians who would make me feel guilty for making my prayers mostly about asking God for things should read their Bible more closely. It’s exactly what Jesus told us to do. Our Heavenly Father wants us to ask him when we need help. Why? Because we love each other.

Dec 302020
 

Yesterday was a nice day, especially for December. The temperature was above normal and the Sun was shining bright, so I stretched out my hammock in the back yard and enjoyed a rare December day, relaxing on the hearth of God’s bright, enormous fireplace. While listening to the birds singing joyful thanks to the Creator for such a beautiful day, I looked up at the trees that were holding my hammock. I realized that the same trees that provided shade from the Sun in the Summer were now clear of leaves so that the Sun could shine through and warm the Winter ground below. What a marvelous design. And believe it or not, while laying there in the hammock, I actually got to talk with the Designer.

Dec 282020
 

Here’s a crazy Bible story for you:
Joshua son of Nun sent two spies out from Shittim secretly and instructed them: “Find out what you can about the land, especially Jericho.” They stopped at the house of a prostitute named Rahab and spent the night there.
Joshua 2:1 NET

When I read a snippet like that from the Bible, my imagination goes wild.  How in the world did this happen?  Joshua sends two spies out on reconnaissance.  They are about to tackle a major battle with a fortified city and they need intel, so these two guys sneak in, then decide to visit a prostitute… and spend the night??  Who’s idea was that?  Did they know she was a prostitute when they picked her house?  Or did they just pick her house at random, find out she was a prostitute, THEN decide to spend the night when she seemed friendly?  And even if a prostitute acts friendly, wouldn’t you guess her motive was more in line with her career than her character?

Here’s more of the story:
The king of Jericho received this report: “Note well! Israelite men have come here tonight to spy on the land.” So the king of Jericho sent this order to Rahab: “Turn over the men who came to you – the ones who came to your house – for they have come to spy on the whole land!” But the woman hid the two men and replied, “Yes, these men were clients of mine, but I didn’t know where they came from. When it was time to shut the city gate for the night, the men left. I don’t know where they were heading. Chase after them quickly, for you have time to catch them!”
Joshua 2:2‭-‬5 NET

It would seem, “visiting a prostitute” was the perfect alibi. Even so, wouldn’t you love to hear how this went down when these two guys got back to camp and gave their report?  I can hear the questions now.

“So what happened?”
“You did WHAT??!!  You stayed where???!!!”
“Did you really think she would help our cause?”
“What did she do?” 
“Just who’s idea was it to spend the night with a prostitute anyway?”

 I wonder what their answer was?

Nov 302020
 

The day you came, you brought joy and laughter, and love. Your arrival marked one of the best days of my life. You made me feel so proud and so blessed to have you in my life, and so it has been for 35 years.  Now a new life has come to you, and all those feelings come rushing back, some for the new arrival, but mostly, for you. Watching you become a mom has made me the proudest father, all over again.

Oct 132020
 

Pilate addressed them once again because he wanted to release Jesus. But they kept on shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!” A third time he said to them, “Why? What wrong has he done? I have found him guilty of no crime deserving death. I will therefore flog him and release him.” But they were insistent, demanding with loud shouts that he be crucified. And their shouts prevailed.
– Luke 23:20‭-‬23 NET

Some things never change. Those who yell long enough and loud enough usually get what they want… or at least what they think they want.

May 252020
 

Maybe it is more important that I be totally committed to what I believe than always confident in what I believe. Doubts, when they come, make it hard to be totally confident in beliefs. Commitment means the doubts don’t matter.

May 032020
 

The trash man is now a robot. Well, more precisely, a robot arm. The big truck pulls up next to my trash can and a long robotic arm reaches out to pick up my can, dump the contents in the truck, and set the can back on the ground. It’s wonderfully efficient for the trash company. The robot arm doesn’t have to be trained. It does exactly what it’s programed to do with no variation. There’s one less worker to pay. The robot arm doesn’t require benifits and it doesn’t have sick days or union membership. Perfect for the trash company, but lousy for me.

I miss the real person. The person who sees if some of the garbage falls on the ground and takes a moment to pick it up and throw it in the truck. The person who makes sure the can is placed back at the end of my driveway, and not in the road. Robots work fine when everything behaves as expected. When all the variables are accounted for and nothing out of the ordinary happens. But that is not real life. Real life has regular occurances of the irregular. Wise humans have learned to expect the unexpected and adjust in the spur of the moment as needed, because we are irregular ourselves.

Real humans are unpredictable, adaptable, and refreshingly unique. They make life interesting, exciting, and full of infinite possibilities. Some do crazy things, some do wonderful things, but they all do suprising things as they constantly make their own choices about life. And the wonders of those inifinite choices are why God gave humans free will. He didn’t want programmed predictiability. He didn’t want robots. He wanted people.

Apr 242020
 
My Frankenfinger

Easter was less than two weeks ago and already the trauma is fading. This past Easter was no ordinary one for me. Church was online and pre-recorded because of Covid-19 and the need for social distancing. It was a beautiful Spring day, so after the “service,” I went outside to deal with some metal spikes that were sticking out of the ground around some old rotted landscaping timbers. I was afraid the dogs would get hurt on them, so I was trying to remove them. That’s how I got hurt. Isn’t that ironic.

I won’t go into the details, but it involved my finger, a couple of metal spikes, a sledgehammer, and bad aim. Thirty minutes later I was sitting in the urgent care facility waiting for a tetanus shot and some stitches. When the doctor came in to stitch me up, I apologized that he had to do this while having to also deal with all the Covid-19 virus everywhere. He said he was glad to get to do it. It gave him a break from dealing with all the fevers, coughs, germs and such. I do think he almost enjoyed stitching up my finger.

It’s Alive!

In less than a week, Tammy pulled the stitches out for me. Today, less than two weeks after the bad-aim incedent, my finger feels almost normal again. There’s a little scab left, and it’s still a little sore, but in a few more days, even that will be gone and there will be nothing left but memories and a scar.

My body is healing itself. God made it that way. It happens countless times every day, in every place, all over the world. Cells regenerate, cuts and punctures seal up, broken bones knit together and a numberless army of tiny warriors in the bloodstream incapacitate invading germs. It is the miricle of life, an amazing design by an amazing Designer, that deals with the vast majority of evil things on this planet. But there are those rare occasions when the system is overwhelmed. And in time, the body wears out. On those occasions, for those happy souls who are prepared for it, our Creator has a new and improved model waiting. Can you even imagine what it must be like?

Apr 012020
 

Don’t let it make you afraid.
Don’t let it make you greedy, selfish, or stingy.
Don’t let it make you self-centered.
Don’t let it make you obsessed.
Don’t let it make you cynical.
Don’t let it make you point the finger of blame.
Don’t let it make you isolated.
Don’t let it destroy your joy, your faith, your hope, or your love.

Yes, Covid-19 could kill you, but crazy as it may seem, that’s not the worst thing it can do. Thankfully, with God’s help, that’s all it can do.

Keep the faith,
Mark