A Story of Conniving, Theft, Embezzlement . . . Coming Full Circle!

 

The first time I ever saw Buford was in my new apartment office. He was in the midst of the application process with the manager. While I didn’t even speak with him, he struck me as being a sad man. His application efforts were successful and he was approved for an apartment. He moved in and I would see him around from time to time. After folks got moved in and we got things at the new property settled down, some of the ladies asked me to teach a Bible study in the community room. I agreed and we held Bible study each Monday at 6:00 p. m. and the ladies also made it a covered-dish event. I agreed to lead the Bible study because there were many of the residents who simply could no longer attend Church services and needed something. With the ladies doing the covered dish dinner, it became a feast, too. We all had the best time on Monday evenings. It was really good and helped folks on a number of levels.

Some of the ladies mentioned that Buford was lonely and needed to come, but when they invited him he just snapped at them. They appointed me to recruit Buford. A couple of mornings each week, Buford would stop by the community room and have a cup of coffee, so I watched out for him. Our first discussion was not what I had hoped for . . . Buford was negative about God . . . believing that God had been unfair with him in the events in his life.

A couple of years later, Buford came into the office early on Monday morning, as soon as I arrived. I remember it was the day after the annual Shrimporee celebration held in our coastal community. As we sat at the table with our coffee cups, Buford began to sob and I saw his tears fall on the table. The man was deeply hurt. As he was able to regain his composure, he began to speak and told me that his son had been in town for the weekend to see a woman . . . and had not even made an effort to see him. He said it had been 15 years since he had seen his son . . . spoken to his son . . . and that had been at his wife’s’ funeral. As we talked, he told me how rotten he thought it was that his only child could treat him so badly . . . totally ignoring him for years . . . he just felt it was inexcusable behavior. I told Buford that I suspected his son had learned that behavior from watching him. That blew him away . . .and he gasped for air. I reminded him how he had been treating the Lord for years. After a while he saw the connection and after some difficult conversation and tears, he made his peace with God.

Several years later (after considerable spiritual growth) he chose to tell me his life story . . . and what a story it was. He had come to Aransas Pass with a hefty nest-egg to go into business. He bought a shrimp boat and did well. Over time, he ended up with a fleet of two dozen boats and an assortment of support business all located in Conn Brown Harbor . . . he owned a net-shop to make and repair nets, an ice house (shrimp boats use lots of ice), a fuel dock, a mechanic shop, a restaurant, a bar, a retail shop where folks could buy fresh shrimp, a processing plant where shrimp were cleaned, de-headed, and prepared for distribution to the market place, and a few other support businesses. It was at the time when Aransas Pass was billed at the “Shrimp Capital of the World” and it was said that some 80% of the shrimp consumed in the world came through port here. My friend, Buford, told me that there was not a shrimp that came into port here that he didn’t make a profit on in some way. That was the era when shrimp boats were lined up along the 12-mike channel between Port Aransas and Aransas Pass each summer waiting their turn to get to the dock to sell their catch, re-fuel, and re-provision their vessels. Buford told me that it was a gold mine and he became a very wealthy man. His overhead was light . . . his adult son oversaw the fleet of boats, he personally remained at dock and oversaw shore operations, and his daughter-in-law ran the business office.

Life was sweet . . . business was good . . . and then Hurricane Cecilia hit Aransas Pass and Conn Brown Harbor (1970). The damage was extreme . . . his boats were destroyed, his buildings were gone, his business was wrecked, and the loss was devastating. Finally, those with interests were slowly permitted back into the area. Buford said he knew it would take the rest of his life to recover from the damage.

Over the next hour he would tell me of the stalls, delays, and the end-arounds his daughter-in-law and his local insurance agent would employ as he sought to get an insurance adjuster on site to reach a settlement on his loss. Buford said after several weeks the pair finally confessed to him that he did not have a penny in insurance protection. The two had been involved in an illicit love affair for a number of years and had created a scheme whereby they . . . on paper . . . had insurance coverage, but it was all smoke-and-mirrors. The Agent would issue insurance binders, but never actually purchase coverage from an insurance carrier. Buford . . . via his daughter-in-law, cut checks for non-existing insurance coverage . . . the premium money went into their “Fun Account” . . . meaning that Buford, unbeknown to him, was financing the affair!

Buford said that he told his son about the mess (some things simply have to be handled by blood kin). He advised his son that an attorney told him that the agent would have an errors and omission policy that they could attack, but it would require reporting the crime to the Sheriff. He said his son wept and said, “I cannot send the mother of my kids to prison.” Buford said, “Well, it is your inheritance . . . I can retire.” Little did he know that it would take most of what he had saved just to clean up the mess (he had a huge liability). As his story sunk in, I came to better understand what it was about Buford that had always struck me as his being such a sad old guy. Life had been pretty rough with him.

As we sat at that table and I reflected on his tragic story, he began to softly weep, but over a few minutes it became a very deep sobbing, involving great sorrow. I knew more was to follow, but I had no notion of what it might be. Finally, he asked me, “Do you believe the Bible teaches that ill begotten wealth cannot last for more than a couple of generations before the Lord corrects accounts?” I admitted that I had heard that said, but never had much cause to study the subject. He said he fully believed that. He then told me his real story.

He had been a master sausage maker in San Antonio for a national meat-packer . . . just as had been his Dad and Granddad. He said he had serious authority in procurement. He told me that when he ordered casings, sage, and spices for the sausage-making he ordered those supplies in boxcar loads, and that he had spent a number of years thriving on kickbacks from large suppliers. He had finally gathered up enough ill-begotten wealth to relocate to the Coast and start his new business.

As an old man . . . who had finally made peace with God . . . he came to a peaceful mindset . . . that all things do, indeed, work together for good! He lived a few more years, and he seemed to grow more peaceful and content. He was a man that I knew was always happy to hang out with me. He grew to pretty much always have a smile and a soft word or two.

And then one day, he passed away. He had left a note asking that I officiate at his memorial service. I did . . . and I was kind. I simply told the mourners that Buford had been fortunate . . . he lived a long life and was able to live pretty well, and had been blessed to have been able to come full circle . . . and that he had learned first-hand what Jesus meant when He said, “I leave you my peace.” Peace …… that most sought after, yet also most elusive of all virtues. Buford was not a man who ever expected to find such peace . . . or the grace to forgive those who wronged him . . . or the grace to receive forgiveness for his own sins. But then, that is exactly what Jesus does . . . He sets the captive free. It was pretty special watching that miracle happen in Buford’s final years.

The poor old fellow had a sad story, but it all turned out pretty well. It was a pretty good memorial service!

About as Good as it Gets . . .

Over recent weeks I have made a number of references to my new friend, Alan. This is my final comments about that pilgrim, as he got back on a Greyhound bus this week . . . headed back to Kentucky!

Alan is a good candidate for a case study on any number of topics: how one can live life wrong . . . addictions . . . living without boundaries . . . burning bridges . . . the boomerang approach to life.

Alan just appeared one day looking for work. He was “broke and down on his luck,” and looking for an opportunity to settle in somewhere with a steady job. He said that when his sister got her income tax she had sent him money for a bus ticket from Kentucky. He told me that he had worked on the fringes of the coal industry for several years . . . in a variety of support roles, but never actually in the mines. He spoke of the coal industry shut-down in production . . . leaving large numbers of unemployed workers, of which he was one. I let him have some work. I found him to be a good, willing worker . . . able to do a variety of tasks . . . but there were a couple of drawbacks . . . someone needed to be around when he was working . . . and a payday could not be established with him, as he needed money every day. He was physically and emotionally only able to work a few hours a day, and it took some effort to keep track of his time worked and advances. He chuckled and told me about one man he had worked for in Kentucky who had charged him $10 for every check he had to write him between pay days. Of course, I could not morally do that, but then again I could not simply write him a check as he did not have acceptable ID for the bank to cash a check . . . so I had to personally drive him to the bank in order for him to cash a check. The rascal was high maintenance for certain.

In spite of it all, he is a likable rascal, and my heart aches for him. I don’t know what the future holds for him . . . but I am certain that his struggle is not an issue of geography. I am fairly certain that he will wrestle with the same inner demons regardless of where ever he roams.

I have exercised strong discipline over the past couple of weeks helping him not draw all of his pay each day. When he told me that he wanted to return to Kentucky, I started taking action so that money could be saved back for his bus ticket. Yesterday afternoon I drove him to the bank to cash his final check . . . along with a little “bonus.” We then went to Walmart to buy him some new clothes and shoes. As we pushed the basket of stuff around, he grinned and said, “I don’t have any way to pack this much stuff onto the bus.” So we went over to the luggage area and got him a new canvas duffel bag. He was a happy dude. I suspect it has been awhile since anyone made much effort to make him feel significant.

We stopped at Sonic to get a cold drink. As we sat in my car, I told him how one finds peace, forgiveness, and redemption with God. I explained that a man cannot be at peace with himself or with others until he finds peace with his Creator.

I picked him up at 11:00 am that morning and drove him down to catch his bus. He was back on foot again. Good-hearted rascal that he is, he gave his bicycle to a pilgrim he thinks is in worse condition than himself. Alan has been quite an experience and I am scratching my head wondering if I have learned anything through this experience . . . if perhaps I have made a difference . . . or managed to influence another person toward God and good?

I don’t know the answers to those questions . . . but I am confident that I did what I could . . . and what I believed to be the right thing. It Seems to me . . . that is about as good as it gets working within this vineyard. I watched him walk to his bus . . . and I thought to myself, “but for the grace and mercy of God, there go I!”

Abi . . . Happy Birthday!

Today is Abi’s birthday . . . she is 4 years old and she is quite a ways ahead of schedule . . . at pretty much every level. Examples:

. . . She is learning the Books of the Bible . . . and doing quite well with it;

. . . She is already in school . . . and doing work above grade-level;

. . . She has a vocabulary that would rival kids twice her age (in fact, I don’t believe there is much of anything she cannot communicate her thoughts and feelings on);

. . . She has a wonderful sense of humor . . . the girl loves knock-knock jokes;

. . . She is in dance class . . . and shows real talent (she is happy to perform upon request); and

. . . Her stated goal was to be potty-trained by the time she was four . . . and she beat that goal by months. I recall a conversation with her several months back that occurred as she sat on her little potty-chair . . . it went something like this:

Me: Abi, you need to potty before we leave home; I can’t take you into the girl’s bathroom at Walmart.

Abi: I don’t need to go, Pappy.

Me: Abi, when are you going to start going potty?

Abi: When I get potty-trained, Pappy!

Me: And just when will that be?

Abi: When I get four, Pappy!

You Go Abi . . . you set . . . and beat that goal!

 Summer 2016

Abi has a big sister, Alison; we call her Ali. Both girls are wonderful, smart, charming, and so much fun. They have changed our lives. The Lord surely blessed our family with them.

We are going to her Birthday Party on Saturday! Happy Birthday Sweetness . . . Pappy loves you!

 Spring 2016

 West-Fest 2016

 

 

Another Scam . . .

On Saturday morning I drove my car to a place in Marble Falls to have it washed. The place is a new-style quick-oil change place that also provides other services such as washing and drying cars, front-end alignments, tire repair service, and minor auto repairs. As I pulled up to the service desk, a young lady approached the car and greeted me. I pointed to the overhead sign and told her that I wanted “The Elite” car wash. I left my car and keys with her and made my way to the customer waiting area. As I prepaid the lady at the counter, I mentioned that I would appreciate one of the guys checking the tire pressure. She said they would be glad to do that for me.

I found a chair and opened my email on my iPhone and went to work. In a few minutes, a guy stepped inside and called my name. I motioned at him and stood. He approached and said all of my tires needed 3- to 5-lbs each. I asked him to top them off please. He said the cost was $10 per tire. I was dumbfounded and asked why on earth there was such a charge? He explained that my tires were filled with nitrogen and could not have regular air added as it would cause the tires to explode! I busted out laughing and asked him where he had learned such rubbish? He went into a long explanation . . . I politely interrupted him and asked if he knew how much nitrogen was in air? He smiled proudly and said, “Sir, there is no nitrogen in air!” I chuckled and asked him if he had a mobile devise. He said that he did, indeed. I suggested that he look it up but I was pretty certain that he would discover that regular air that is produced from his air-compressor was made up of something like 75% nitrogen. I also told him that by topping a nitrogen-filled tire off with regular air was simply an act of diluting the nitrogen and in no way harmed the tire.

I actually do believe the new practice of filling tires with nitrogen is beneficial and serves a purpose. Most things the auto makers, tire manufacturers, and the tire industry in general agree upon has been put through many tests and been proven before put into practice; however, for services providers to try to trick John Q Public into thinking it is an issue equal to filling a car’s gas tank with diesel fuel is just a common scam . . . trickery . . . $10 per tire theft!

I suppose there are benefits to the use of nitrogen, but suspect the biggest benefit in this new practice will be to those selling nitrogen! $10 per tire? Good grief, in my earlier years, I bought used tires for my old clunkers and rarely ever paid more than $10 for a good used tire. Times sure do change.

My Darling is a mathematician . . . I think to the max . . . and she and I enjoy discussing such mathematical questions. Here is what we determined on this issue:

Lbs of Nitrogen      Percent Nitrogen      Total Lbs. Nitrogen
Original                             32                          1                                  32 x 1 = 32
Added                               03                           0.75                            3 x 0.75 = 2.25
Mixture                             35                           ?                                  32 + 2.25 = 34.25

Multiply horizontally . . . and add vertically

You can see from the bottom row that there is now 34.25 lbs of nitrogen in the 35 lbs of air in the tire, or 34.25 / 35 = .97857 or 97.857% nitrogen.

Now you tell me . . . how is the tire compromised . . . and in danger of exploding?

 

Beware . . .

The Lord commanded that we love one another. He also taught Kingdom truths that if put into practice in one’s life will serve to make each of us more loveable. But the sad truth is that some folks just don’t want to obey either instruction. Those folk’s lives just seem to be all about themselves . . . and to heck with everyone else. Examples are: parents who neglect their own children as they pursue their own pleasure . . . spouses who fail to honor vows and are unfaithful . . . and thieves who steal from others.

It really gets confusing when such self-centered people use the name of the Lord in an effort to advance their agenda. Sadly, that deception has been around since the Garden.

I recently heard about a guy who had a fender-bender with a pretty young woman . . . both of them single. They each got out of their respective cars, angry and upset. As they approached each other, sparks flew as they accused each other of being at fault. Finally, they decided that perhaps they ought to just let the professionals sort it all out, so they called the cops. As they waited on the side of the street, things began to cool down some and they each began to notice each other and seemed to see some possibilities. After a bit, the lady apologized and said, “I am not really sure what happened, but it just occurred to me that perhaps the Lord himself arranged this meeting!” The fellow was pretty excited. After a few minutes she said, “Why are we standing out here in the sun when we could sit in my car and enjoy the a/c?” The fellow promptly agreed and got into her car. As they sat there, she slid a CD into the player and from the speakers the soft, seductive sound of Roberta Flack singing ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’ began to play. In a moment, she looked at him in a very seductive manner and said, “I just left the store where I purchased a lovely bottle of wine. How about we enjoy a glass while we wait?” The fellow just could not believe his good fortune and said he thought it was a splendid suggestion. She reached into the back seat and opened a sack and removed the bottle and two plastic glasses and poured each a drink. The guy accepted the plastic glass and quickly gulped it down and she refilled his glass, which he drank. They repeated this exercise a few times and he then said, “I noticed that you haven’t touched your wine.” She smiled sweetly and said, “Actually, I am going to just sit here and wait on the cops. I will drink mine when I get home!”

Beware . . .

On Star . . .

A couple of weeks back the heads-up display on my new car’s windshield quit displaying the speed limit in the area in which I was driving . . . I suspected something was wrong. A couple of days later, Sandy and I were in Corpus looking for an address in a congested area of town. I knew I was in the area . . . but unable to find the place after a couple of drive-bys, so I pushed the On-Star button in the rear-view mirror. The lady who answered my call offered the usual greeting. I gave her the address and asked for directions. In a moment she said, “You are about 75 miles away.” I was dumbfounded and asked her for my current location . . . what she gave me was about 75 miles away! On Star lost me . . . I showed up on their screen . . . but not in real time. I asked her to transfer me to technical assistance, which she promptly did. The diagnostic test revealed that for some peculiar reason, my car had lost the signal from On Star. I suspected a bad antenna . . . but then what do I know? I was told to take the car to an authorized GM dealership for repair.

I delivered the car to Aransas Autoplex yesterday . . . for the third time in two weeks. They kept the car overnight last night . . . and today will be the 4th day they have had it in their shop! What a mystery . . . On Star with all of its technology . . . technology that enables them to perform a computer diagnostic check on the vehicle as I drive 75-mph down the freeway and then give me a code to provide to the technician! Technology that enables them to remotely open my car doors via satellite . . . to download travel directions to the vehicle . . . to offer a first-class concierge service . . . to know if my air bags deploy and be able to send emergency assistance to the precise location . . . but they seem to be having trouble in knowing what the problem is with my navigation system.

It all reminds me of the psychic network that appeared on TV a few years back. The foundation of the program . . . and the allure . . . was their claim that they could look in the future and offer folks advice about how to plan ahead. A few short months after opening up, the thing went bust . . . it just seems they should have been able to see that in their own future and saved the financial loss that surely was involved.

It also reminds me of the Statler Brothers’ old song about Shirley Jean Burrell. All through the song they tell everything they know about Shirley Jean . . . which was quite considerable: her favorite things, foods, background, where she had a freckle . . . and then concluded by exclaiming, “I just don’t know where Shirley Jean is right now!”

I feel like I am in the same place as Shirley Jean with my old friends at On Star!

 

 

My Uncle Dick . . .

He was my uncle . . . an older brother to my dad. I never really knew him . . . but then again, I don’t suppose anyone really knew him. That is not to say that I was never around him, because I was actually around him quite often over the years. Like everyone else in my family I always understood that Uncle Dick had a problem and was something of a family mystery / embarrassment; yet, in spite of that being the word about him, I genuinely liked him.

My uncle Dick was a full-blown alcoholic . . . and more often than not he lived outside of the box. He did not follow any laws; that is not to say that he hit bottom and stayed there . . . far from it. He had this really amazing capacity to bounce between the extremes . . . when he was off of the juice he could be quite successful; however, he had a long history of falling off of the wagon and losing everything he had . . . including his wife and children. His life was like a roller coaster in an amusement park . . . full of ups and downs. He did not follow any laws . . . God’s or man’s.

What produced the success in his sober periods was his talent, intelligence, and skill set. He was a very talented fellow . . . a master craftsman. My dad and his other brothers, all from Burnet, Texas, drifted into the oil patch and/or road-construction. Uncle Dick found his place in home-building. He could literally build a 1,500 square-foot house . . . all by himself in 90 – 100 days . . . doing each and every phase of the construction himself . . . and doing it quite well. He drifted into Burnet shortly after Sandy and I bought our first home . . . an older fixer-upper. Uncle Dick was always happy to lend a hand on that old house . . . and it was always quite a hand. He really impressed me with all that he knew . . . and with what he could do. Beyond that, he was just a really nice, pleasant, and happy fellow. He was witty and fun to be around . . . when he wasn’t drinking! I was always amazed by a story that in his earlier years that said he walked into an auto dealership on a Saturday morning, selected a shiny new car, made his best deal, used a counter check to pay for the car, and drove off . . . everyone waiving and smiling. Just a few short blocks away, he ran a traffic light and was T-boned . . . totaling the new car. As the story unfolded, he had no bank account, no money, and no insurance. How he escaped prison was always a mystery to me . . . but that was just my Uncle Dick. However, when he got on the whiskey, he lost all charm.

The great tragedy occurred over the Christmas holidays somewhere in the late 70′s. I recall that Sandy and I had driven to Plainview to spend the holidays with her dad and family, and for her dad and me to do some pheasant shooting. One evening while having dinner, the phone rang. Sandy’s step-mother, Carolyn, answered and looked at me and said, “It is your dad” as she passed the phone over. My dad told me that Uncle Dick’s body had been found in Odessa and asked me if I would drive there and see what I could learn, saying that the information he had been given was confusing. Of course I did.

Upon my arrival in Odessa I went to the police station where I was introduced to a couple of investigators. The men drove me to a site along the railroad tracks and said that was the area where his body had been found . . . parts of him scattered along the railroad tracks for quite an area. I asked them what happened. They suggested that he had drank too much and went to sleep on the train tracks and a train ran over him. I knew that was way wrong. Later that day I drove back to the area and as I walked along the tracks, it struck me that there wasn’t much blood in the area. As a guy who grew up hunting and tracking wounded animals, I knew that the absence of blood on the tracks suggested that my Uncle was dead before that train ran over him. I returned to my car and cruised the area . . . a run-down area of mixed use: tar paper shacks which folks called home, junk shops, several beer joints, a greasy spoon cafe, a convenience store, and a liquor store. I parked and made the rounds. As I encountered folks, I told them about my uncle . . . they had all heard the news. Several said they had seen him around from time to time. I asked if any of them might have known where he had been living, and they said they just assumed he lived on the streets and slept in an abandoned building in the neighborhood.

The fellow at the liquor store told me that he had sold a bottle to Uncle Dick and a large Black fellow the afternoon of the tragedy . . . he said they has pooled their money and barely managed the price. He said they left the store arguing over who got to carry the bottle. I asked who won . . . I will never forget the look on his face when he said, “Well, I doubt he won, but your uncle was carrying the bottle when they walked out the door!”

Prior to leaving town, I returned to the PD and met with the Investigators again. I told them about my concern over the lack of blood over the area . . . and they both acknowledged my thinking was spot-on . . . and pretty much suggested that my Uncle had been dead for some time prior to being run over by the train. I told them about the man at the package store and what he saw, and was surprised at their lack of interest. They politely let me know that they had a limited budget and the death of a “transient” was simply not of much concern, as it happened almost daily.

I told them that I suspected that the fellow last seen with my Uncle had killed him and placed his body on the train tracks, taken the bottle, and left. They flat-out told me that my theory was probably accurate, but the reality of the matter was simply that no one really cared . . . it was just one less bum out on the streets. I asked what about the murderer . . . they shrugged and said that he had probably jumped a train and was long gone by now . . . and at any rate, “the streets would take care of it; it always balances things out.”

I walked back to my car and just sat there on those mean streets and wept for my Uncle Dick . . . for my Dad . . . for my Uncle’s son and daughter . . . and all of those weak, fractured, flawed, and hurting men and women who lived on those mean streets.

All of that talent, charm, wit, and ability . . . gone down the drain . . . over a cheap bottle of rot-gut alcohol. The investigators were dead wrong . . . “that no one really cares.” I cared then . . . I still care today. I think of my Uncle Dick quite often; I thought of him today . . . and I told his story to a fellow much like him . . . a misguided, confused man who is far from home and family and living out on the streets . . . simply living for another bottle. I am afraid for the poor fellow . . . I fear he is quickly running out of time . . . he shows all of the signs. I sincerely wish I knew how to help him, but I don’t. I asked him how long he had been an alcoholic . . . as he wiped a tear away he said, “All of my life.” He then told me that his parents often chuckled and told about filling his baby bottle with beer when he was a little tyke . . . “to make him sleep.” He told me that he had not been sober for a stretch of one month any time during his 43 years. I simply don’t know how to help him . . . but he breaks my heart . . . he is like my Uncle Dick. As I told him my Uncle Dick’s story, I saw something happen in him, perhaps! I hope so . . . this sad fellow has a 15-year-old daughter at home . . . confused about her Daddy . . . and about where he might be . . . but also worried that he might not come back home.

Alcohol has long been a struggle for many folks. In fact, It Seems to me . . . the enemy of our souls must surely label it as one of his finest and most effective baits . . . he has effectively used it to destroy many, many people . . . families . . . and homes. It has broken many children’s hearts as they watched a weak parent succumb to its overpowering lure. I fear that the number of folks like my Uncle Dick and my pitiful friend, Allen, is increasing exponentially.

When Change is Called for . . .

Friday night, Sandy and I went to the movie theatre to see the new movie, Sully, about the pilot who landed the U. S. Airways’ commercial airliner on the Hudson River, with 150+ folks on board.

We have a system: we split up at the door . . . I go to the ticket window and she heads for the concession counter. After I have the tickets, I proceed to the concession area and take over her spot while she goes to the ladies’ room. When she returns, I have our refreshments at the end of the counter so she can put butter on her popcorn.

As I waited for her Friday night, a large fellow wearing a Dallas Cowboy jersey walked up. I noticed that he had several bandages on his arms. I chuckled and commented, “The season hasn’t even started yet and Cowboy fans are already scratched up.” He chuckled and said, “I wish that was it, but the truth is that I am a diabetic and now on dialyses.” It broke my heart for the poor fellow. As I made a mental note to add him to my player list, I noticed the tray he was carrying . . . sodas, popcorn, and candy! I am not being judgmental; in fact, that observation made me even sadder for the poor fellow.

As I reflected on it, the thought struck me that was exactly the truth that Peter was stressing in the second part of 1 Peter 1, when in verse 13, he says, “Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus is revealed at His coming.” I was taught that when I encounter a ‘therefore’ in the Scripture, I would do well to pause and discover what/why it is there. In verses 1 – 12, Peter reminds those 1st century Believers of whom they are in Christ and what God has in store for them . . . regardless of their current struggles, their future was brilliant and totally protected and guarded by the Creator Himself. In verse 13, Peter shifts his message to focus on how a Believer ought to properly respond to this magnificent gift that has been given and accepted. He was basically saying, “This is who you are now are . . . now live life accordingly . . . stop thinking, talking, behaving, and living the way you previously did . . . you have a new life and a new way to live.”

The poor fellow in the Cowboy jersey needs to learn that his medical condition demands a significant change in behavior . . . and failure to make that change carries very big consequences. My primary care doctor told me a few years back that I was borderline diabetic and needed to decide if I wanted to fight it or simply surrender. He went on to tell me about diabetic patients in general . . . he said that the majority of them share a common goal . . . to learn how to manipulate the blood test and get the blood sugar number lower on test day. Tragically, that same sort of mindset exists in the Church today.

A number of years back I served on a Church committee along with a city police detective. I recall one night after a committee meeting standing in the Church parking lot talking with that fellow about the subject of people living one way in public . . . and another way in private. He was close to tears as he told me that . . . and I knew it was related to things he saw in his job. I recall driving home that night thinking . . . that is just wrong . . . and it ought not be so! I never want that to be true in my life . . . I want to be wise enough to always be mindful of who it is that gave me new life, who it is that calls me to live in a prescribed manner, and to remember that He sees all . . . knows all . . . and what He thinks is really all that matters.

It Seems to me . . . that spiritual life is much like physical life . . . healthy choices and behaviors have rewards and, perhaps even benefits, while poor choices and behaviors produce unhealthy consequences. The will always be a day of reckoning . . .

 

. . . Or Was God Taking Care of America?

Sunday, December 7th, 1941–Admiral Chester Nimitz was attending a concert in Washington, D.C. He was paged and told there was a phone call for him. When he answered the phone, it was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He told Admiral Nimitz that he (Nimitz) would now be the Commander of the Pacific Fleet.

Admiral Nimitz flew to Hawaii to assume command of the Pacific Fleet. He landed at Pearl Harbor on Christmas Eve, 1941. There was such a spirit of despair, dejection, and defeat–you
would have thought the Japanese had already won the war.

On Christmas Day, 1941, Adm. Nimitz was given a boat tour of the destruction wrought on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. Big sunken battleships and navy vessels cluttered the waters everywhere you looked.

As the tour boat returned to dock, the young helmsman of the boat asked, “Well Admiral, what do you think after seeing all this destruction?” Admiral Nimitz’s reply shocked everyone
with the sound of his voice. Admiral Nimitz said, “The Japanese made three of the biggest
mistakes an attack force could ever make, or God was taking care of America. Which do you think it was?”

Shocked and surprised, the young helmsman asked, “What do mean by saying the Japanese made the three biggest mistakes an attack force ever made?” Nimitz explained:

Mistake number one: the Japanese attacked on Sunday morning. Nine out of every ten crewmen of those ships were ashore on leave. If those same ships had been lured to sea and been sunk, we would have lost 38,000 men instead of 3,800.

Mistake number two: when the Japanese saw all those battleships lined in a row, they got so carried away sinking those battleships, they never once bombed our dry docks opposite those ships. If they had destroyed our dry docks, we would have had to tow every one of those ships to America to be repaired. As it is now, the ships are in shallow water and can be raised. One tug can pull them over to the dry docks, and we can have them repaired and at sea by the time we could have towed them to America. And I already have crews ashore anxious to man those ships.

Mistake number three: Every drop of fuel in the Pacific theater of war is in top-of-the-ground storage tanks five miles away over that hill. One attack plane could have strafed those tanks and destroyed our fuel supply. That’s why I say the Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could make . . . or God was taking care of America.

 

Just a Matter of Knowing What to Do . . .

A while back, Sandy and I decided that we needed to purchase a car to leave at the house in Burnet since we always travel there in one car, and then both want to go in different directions while we are there. I want to go to the YMCA to work out and she wants to go to Walmart, or the beauty shop, or to get a massage. Last month we went car-shopping . . . and bought a cool, very clean and low-mileage A4 Audi convertible. What a sweet little car! When we left Burnet, we went to Austin where we met Chris and Courtney, who had driven my Escalade up to meet us. Sandy liked the Audi so much that she left her BMW in Burnet and brought the Audi home for a while. Chris and I went to Waco for a business dinner and Sandy and Courtney drove home.


Last week Chris drove the Audi and came home and reported that the electric top would not work. I took it to the auto repair shop and the guy said he could not fix it. I did what folks do in this modern era . . . I did a Google search and discovered that the code on the LED screen is a common failing on that particular car. After watching the YouTube video, I called the mechanic who is restoring the old Sting Ray. He said, “Bring it over and let me take a look.” I did and he had it back in perfect working order in ten minutes! It was simply a matter of knowing what to do . . . and he knew!


That is one of the great challenges in life . . . to learn what to do . . . and when to do it. When one learns that, life becomes a breeze . . . well, I suppose . . . but I sure have not reached that place yet.

I think the Apostle Paul sure did.