Two Old Guys

I have two really good friends on my mind today . . . Charlie Williams and Jerry Scott. They are both older than me . . . Charlie is 85 and Jerry is 72.  Both of them are struggling with life this week.

. . . Charlie did something goofy and somehow managed to drive his boat into the bait house at Palm Harbor Marina (I am still scratching my head over how he did that).  He was in the trauma hospital in Corpus Christi; now he’s at Gulf Point Nursing Home for a couple of weeks; and he is really banged up.  His situation is a source of concern and intense prayer for me.

. . . Jerry is a cancer survivor (and along with that he has worked through several cardiac issues such as by-passes).  He recently learned that the cancer is back, and he is in Fort Worth getting treatment this week. His situation is also a source of concern and intense prayer for me.

Charlie and Jerry are both in my Sunday school class.  They are both important members of the ministry team that travels to Charlie’s Place on Saturday nights.  Charlie and Jerry have lived completely different lives.  Charlie became a committed Christian as a young man and has enjoyed a deep walk with God for 60 years.  Charlie and his story were a blog herein a couple of years back.  Jerry, on the other hand, lived a pretty rough life.  He had a couple of troubled marriages, battled with alcoholism, and spent years as a fishing guide (he was recognized as one of the best on the Texas coast).  Jerry was also a serious golfer and always ready to gamble on his golf game.  Jerry actually made his way to Reno and lived and gambled there for a number of years.  Jerry in recent years has gotten things settled with the Lord and now lives a wonderful life.  In fact, he has a deep, sustaining, and abiding faith.  When Charlie told me Jerry’s cancer was back; it broke my heart; so, I called him.  During the conversation, I attempted to offer him some comfort and I wept.  Jerry said, “You big sissy, knock that off!  Jesus knows about this and if it is okay with him, then it has to be okay with us, too!”

Charlie and Jerry have been dear friends for almost 50 years.  Charlie was a successful business man in Dallas who flew to the coast in his own plane probably 45 weeks each year to fish for a day or two.  He kept an RV here to use on his visits.  When he was here, he would see Jerry at the Marina and would holler out to him, “Hey, I have your breakfast ready.”  Jerry would leave his clients of the day on the dock, run over and enjoy a quick breakfast with his old friend . . . while he shared a few fishing tips, and would then head out for the day with his party.  That evening, Charlie would treat Jerry to dinner and they would catch up.  Charlie always had a good influence on Jerry and made him think.

When Jerry returned back from Reno to the Coast, he and Charlie hooked back up.  But things had changed for both of them.  Charlie had experience a serious reversal of fortune, had lost his wife, had given his fine home in the Dallas area to his daughter, and had moved to the coast full time.  When Jerry arrived back home, Charlie was living on a lot owned by Jerry in a rundown, back-street neighborhood.  Charlie had managed to come up with a very small, really old and beat up bumper pull trailer (maybe 22’ in length).  Charlie was living there and happy as a clam. When Jerry arrived, Charlie helped him locate a small trailer, and then conned our pal, Roger Horan, to pull it to the lot and park it there (Roger had already built Charlie a small storage building).   Charlie and Jerry became next-door neighbors, and began living out the movie of Grumpy Old Men.

Charlie had a boat and they fished every day. They were both older, a bit slower, neither had any money, Charlie had a girlfriend, Deva, and when Charlie wasn’t with Deva, he was with Jerry.

Charlie and Jerry loved each other like brothers, but they fussed and squabbled over everything . . . and anything!  They fussed about where they would eat, what they would eat, where they would fish, what they would use for bait, who would drive the boat, the proper method of setting the anchor . . . what to take for lunch, if they should even take a lunch, when to stop and eat the lunch . . . anything and everything.  They laughed, hooted, hollered, and had more fun than a barrel of monkeys (just like the men in the picture above).  You could hear them across the bay carrying on . . . and they forever settled the age-old debate about if you really needed to be quiet to fish.  They were loud and rowdy and those dudes caught the redfish, and a lot of ‘em, too!

 I love both of these guys . . . and I enjoy both of them.  Sandy and I had them here for Thanksgiving lunch and to watch the Cowboy’s, and we thoroughly enjoyed them.  I don’t know what the immediate future holds for them, but I am confident they both are ready for whatever is ahead, and that they both have a mansion in their long-term future.

I have no friends who love me more than do these good men.  They have each always been ready to do anything they could to help me, and I sincerely appreciate them and their friendship.  I am praying for you guys!  Thanks for everything . . . you are an inspiration!

Excess Baggage . . .

Every airline now has weight restrictions on baggage.  Oftentimes, travelers are told at the ticket counter, “You must leave some of it behind, or pay an extra fee.”  Refusal to do one or the other will prevent you from moving forward in your journey.  The same thing is true in life’s journey.

I recently learned of a lady who missed her flight . . . over excess baggage.  Her traveling companions left her to look after their baggage while they went off to eat.  While they were off having a good time, enjoying themselves, and not even thinking about her, the call for her flight came over the PA system, and try as she might, she was simply unable to manage all of the baggage . . . and, thus, unable to arrive on time.

Here is something, rethorically speaking, to think about and consider: Did we enter into this New Year carrying excess baggage?  If so, is it detrimental to our destiny? We ought to be energetic . . . but dragging excess baggage can drain us of energy.  We ought to be looking ahead, but dragging excess baggage can keep us locked to the past.  We ought to be seizing the day, but dragging excess baggage will prevent that.

What excess baggage am I referring to?  Mental suit cases . . . spiritual foot-lockers . . . emotional tote bags . . . all filled with junk that we should have left behind long ago.  Carrying excess baggage is time-consuming, costly, stressful, and burdensome.  Excess baggage can hi-jack our happiness, ground our joy, and interfere with us reaching our destination.

In Colossians 3:12-17, the Apostle Paul challenged the young spiritual community at Colossi to make their behavior match their beliefs.  They needed to consider where they were going . . . Heaven, and then pack like—they needed to for that destination.  They would have no need for bitterness, brokenness, wrath, anger, failure, selfishness, heartache, resentment, and regrets or mean dispositions there.  Paul challenged those young believers to live in Christ and shed the old attitudes and old agendas which they had possessed before conversion.  They needed to recognize that they were new creatures in Christ, with a new destination and new living instructions, and equipped and empowered to live accordingly.  Of course, every bit of that applies to us too!

Perhaps, we need to serve some eviction notices . . . for some people, events, and things to move out of our minds.  Things we have allowed to take up space in our minds, hearts, and spirits . . . things which have caused us to feel bad and have prevented us from being who we are called to be.  So often we are like the lady who missed her flight because she was looking after other folk’s baggage.  Sadly, we have allowed some folks to leave us in charge of their baggage . . . while they have been out having fun, enjoying themselves . . . and they haven’t even thought about us.

The truth is, we all have things that weigh us down and wear us out.  For some it may be financial in nature . . . for others it may be schedule—the need to be in too many places, trying to do too much . . . for others it may a certain person – who weighs them down and wears them down.  There are all sorts of dynamics when it comes to relationships.  There are hurts that have not healed; things that have been said, but not reconciled; and misunderstandings that have not been resolved. 

There are painful things in life . . . betrayal, false accusation, cheated, abandonment, injury, and heartbreak: none of which is easy to accept.  Yet, if we allow those things to define us, we rob ourselves of the abundant life that was purchased for us . . . and available for us to clutch onto.

I find it quite interesting that there is an amazing place in Death Valley, known as Bad Water Basin . . . It is a place where one can stand and see both the highest elevation on this continent (Mt. Whitney . . . 14,505’ above sea level), and also the lowest elevation on this continent ( -282’ below sea level).  I don’t think that is an accident of nature.  I think it is God demonstrating in a powerful manner the great truth Paul wrote in Colossians 3:12-17 . . . that we can stand in one place and we can see the highest . . . or the lowest . . . we have a choice of what we will see.

We can see beauty . . . or we can see ugliness. They are both out there!

We can be joyful . . . or we can be woeful.  There will be reasons for both.

We can be bitter . . . or we can be blessed.  Both are available.

We can be used . . . or we can use.  It is an attitude.

We can bet set free . . . or we can be bound.  It is a choice.

We can be broken . . . or we can be filled.  It is a choice.

How is this possible? Paul tells in the passage . . . “Since you have been raised with Christ, set your heart on things above . . . where Jesus is seated.”  I think he was saying, “Pack for where you are going and not for where you have been!”

Why are we dragging stuff around . . . Stuff that only shows where we have been, and says nothing of where we are going?  The reason, quite simply, is because we have allowed the enemy to confuse us and move us into the SEE-SAWS of life . . . that place . . . filled with up-and-down cycles!

That is no place for Believers . . . people who have been genuinely changed by the power of God.

Excess baggage affects both us . . . and those we love.  Dragging excess baggage around can become stressful, causing weakness and emotional overload . . . and before we know it, we have said something to our family . . . or to a friend . . . that we did not mean . . . but we can never take back.

Let’s examine and lighten the load. What a great way to begin the New Year!

Isn’t it Just a Game?

The Denver Broncos will host the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game at 3:00 p.m., Sunday, January 19, 2014.

I must pause here and complain for a minute: the seats are now on sale . . . and range in cost is from $85 for the cheap seats . . . to as much as $9,899 for great seats, and I wonder who could possibly be so selfish to spend that sort of money on something as simple as a seat in a football game which will last about three hours.   

I mean there are poor suffering people all over the planet who are desperate for help.  There are many American families that won’t have $9,899 in annual income in 2104!  The truth is that $9,899 is really quite a bit of money.

I understand all of the hype . . .

. . . It is the AFC Championship game

. . . The winner advances to Super Bowl

. . . Legacies are at stake

. . . It is Payton Manning vs. Tom Brady . . . arguably two of the best QB’s in NFL history

What I don’t understand is the selfishness, greed, foolishness, and lack of concern for others which exists in our Nation and ensures that Mile High stadium will be filled to the max when the whistle is blown for the kick off!

Absolutely not!!!! This is not sour grapes . . . coming from someone who would like to attend the game but could not afford to purchase a ticket and merely gripes.  I am not boasting, but the truth is that I could go to the game . . . but I will not.  What prevents me from doing such things is the clear conviction that the Lord himself personally entrusted me with resources . . . and He will hold me, personally, responsible for how I spend, use, and invest those resources.  I don’t even have to wonder how He would feel about me doing such things.

I suppose I should be ashamed to admit it, but I will most likely join several million other Americans and watch the game on TV.  The prize for victory . . . an opportunity to play in the Super Bowl!

Who will win? I am thinking Denver . . . for several reasons, as follows: 

  1. Peyton Manning’s passing . . . as well as his experience and leadership;
  2. The game will be played at Mile High stadium;
  3. Denver’s defense (originally believed by the smart dudes to be the one liability that could keep them out of the SB, but turned out to be the very thing that got them to this place; they held the Chargers scoreless through three quarters, to 45 yards rushing and Philip Rivers to 5 pass completions for a mere 20 yards); and
  4. It seems that Denver’s D will have limited work dealing with Brady’s passing as NE has slowly evolved into a running team and a single attack offensive is always easier to guard.

I know . . . I know . . . I also recall the 12th week — where the Broncos had the Pats down by 24 at half time, and the Pats had a miracle comeback . . . but that was then . . . and this now, and there will be a different result.

But, in spite of all that . . . it is still just a game!

 

William Gregory Melton . . . R.I.P.

He was my brother . . . the sibling next up above me.  I am one of eight children . . . all stair-stepped by a couple of years.  Everyone just called him Willie. Today, January 16, is his birthday, and I have been thinking about my big brother.  I have been wishing his life could have been different.

Willie was a terrific athlete as a kid.  He could really play baseball and he could run like the wind.  He was strong as a bull physically, and he would need to be, as he would experience great loss and pain during his life.

Willie’s wife and 6-week-old baby were killed by a freight train in the remote place, Marfa, Texas.  Soon afterward, his draft status was changed (it was in the height of the Viet Nam war) and he soon found himself wearing the uniform of his country on a foreign battle field.  That was hard and a weaker man could not have endured it.

He was a good man; he was a kind man; he was my big brother.

Today, he lives with Jesus and everything is okay!  He is reunited with his wife, Suzy, and daughter, Tammy . . . and with our dad and our sister, Hazel.

Rest in Peace, dear Brother.  I miss you.  I wish I had been a better brother.

A Man who thinks He has an Argument

I met a man the other day who claimed to not believe in God . . . I used to encounter folks like that occasionally, but this fellow was actually the first one in quite a while.  After some discussion, I came to believe that he did, indeed, believe in God . . . but for some very peculiar reason he got some charge out of denying any belief in God.  All through the conversation, I was reminded that humans can be very peculiar.  This fellow was driven to discuss his lack of belief . . . and It Seems to me . . . that one ought not have any need or desire to discuss and debate a topic about which you claim to not believe exists.  As an example, I don’t believe in ghosts . . . and I am never compelled to declare my lack of belief in ghosts in public . . . and because I do not believe in ghost, there just simply isn’t much to discuss and debate.

As he rambled on with his nonsense . . . it occurred to me that a man with an argument will always be at the mercy of a man with an experience!  He questioned the existence of God, and thus, the power of God . . . and I am experiencing a life changed and transformed by God and his power.

What that poor fellow doesn’t understand (well at least claims not) is that God does not exist simply because I declare that He exist, nor does God not exist because that fellow declares that he does not exist.  He is God and He is God all by himself . . . He requires nothing from us to exist or be God.  That he has the power to change us . . . it is the same power that can confound a kingdom . . . or can reward the faith of a small child.

It is the power that enables us to live in Christ . . . and Christ to live in us.  It is the power that sets the captive free!

Poor old, hard-headed rascal . . . I hope he gets it worked out in time.  I assured him that there is a day coming when he won’t just believe . . . on that day, he will KNOW . . . and he will know that he was dead wrong!

 

One Day . . .

I tell the folks at Charlie’s Place that . . .

. . . We are born in a day

. . . We can die in a day

. . .  We can fall in love in a day

. . . We can get sick in a day

. . . We can get well in a day

. . . We can move across the State in a day

. . . We can seriously damage a family in a day

. . . We can change in a day

. . . and We can be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye!

What will you do today?

Old Movies . . .

Around our house at nighttime, there is a bit of a dilemma that can develop . . . I love to watch NBA basketball games, boxing matches, and other sporting events.  Sandy loves old movies . . . and the mushier and girly they are, the better she likes them. We do have several TV’s in the house, but she has a powerful card she gets to play, “Honey, I could go to the bedroom and watch a movie, but I really loved to be in here with you!”  Now, tell me how the heck does a man respond to that . . . and she is careful to never over use it; thus, it is always fresh and power-packed.

That very thing happened the other night.  The movie she found (a woman has no business holding a remote control . . . there is no good to ever come from it), was Robert Redford and Barbara Streisand in “The Way we Were”  . . . Ugh! A tale of a tumultuous relationship between an effusive woman and a reticent man.  She loved that movie . . . and as I thought about it the next day, it occurred to me that she never liked Archie and Edith Bunker in “All in the Family” . . . and it that same relationship in a humorous setting without all the mushy stuff.

It Seems to me . . . that the Lord sure made boys and girls differently, and I suppose that is a good thing!

 

 

Looking Forward . . .

. . . to another new year!

 When I was a kid it seemed that a year was a very long period of time. Now it seems like a year passes rather quickly.  As that becomes more obvious to me, the more I am inclined to look back over my life.  Some of that is fulfilling and even fun . . . but there is a danger in doing too much looking back.  One must be mindful that life, events, and opportunities are all ahead and not behind, and if one is to remain active and in the game, then forward-looking is critical and essential.  I have heard it said that yesterday is past . . . dead, gone, and buried; tomorrow is a mystery and may never come; . . . but today is here and ready . . . that is why it is called the present.

 I not only want to remain in the game, recognizing and taking advantage of  opportunities as they are presented, but also fully enjoying life . . . I truly want to live life well and I want my life to count!

 I think that is what the Apostle Paul tried to do in his own life and what he encouraged believers to pursue in their own lives.  He wrote in Philippians 3:12 – 14, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.  Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own.  But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the up call of God in Christ Jesus” (ESV).

 The older I get the more deeply I believe that I have an obligation to God to maintain this mindset and pursue this way of living all the days of my life . . . I also believe that I have this same obligation to my sweet wife . . . to my wonderful son and daughter . . . to my precious granddaughters . . . to my terrific employees . . . to my family . . . and also to myself.

 So this year my New Year’s Resolutions are (without any priority or ranking):

1. To be faithful in all things;

2. To be fair in all things;

3. To treat others as I want to be treated;

4. To not buy one piece of exercise equipment that Sandy would sell at a garage sale in April for 10% of what I paid for it (I have done this several times through the years;

5. To get in the pool every day and work really hard (unless providentially hindered or the pool is closed);

6.  To work hard and study diligently to be the best Sunday school teacher I am capable of being;

7. To strive to be a better husband, dad, Pappy, brother, uncle, and friend; and

8.     To diligently try to make the world a better place and to try to do things that will live beyond me and will one day testify that I passed this way on my way to Heaven.

I am more excited about this New Year than I have been about a new year in a long time.  One reason is that I have joined together with a group of fellow strugglers and we have formed a team to participate in the Walk Across Texas campaign. We are a group of water joggers, and our team name is the “Rip Tide Walkers.”  We will kick off on Tuesday, January 7th, and will continue for a period of eight weeks.  We are simply doing this for fun and for good health . . . and to encourage each other.

Walk Across Texas is a program sponsored by Texas A & M, and there is a web site for those interested (www.walkacrosstexas,com). One really cool thing about the web site is that it has a calculator which permits one to privately enter his or her personal weight, identify and select one’s desired exercise, and the length of time to be spent doing that particular exercise; it then automatically converts that exercise into MAG (miles across the ground).  My personal commitment to myself and my team is to do 55 miles per week and that will be 440 miles over the campaign!

Are you thinking, “He won’t do that”? Well, you are dead wrong . . . put it in the bank, I will do it . . . I have given my word to my team . . . I have given my word to myself . . . and I am committed to staying in the game and pressing forward!

Actually, I have been thinking about the Boston Marathon and am thinking that may be a possibility in a couple of years!  Rather ambitious for a dude eligible for Social Security . . . and the answer is “Heck no, I am not getting Social Security, nor am I applying for it any time soon . . . Hey, I am still in the game”!!

So, don’t look back . . . Look ahead!

I love the story about the sweet white-haired grandmother teaching the 12-year-old boys’ Sunday school class.  One morning her lesson was about Lot and his family.  She told the boys that the angel came and told Lot and his family to leave town and explained that the wicked city was going to be destroyed.  The angel warned them to not look back . . . they were to just keep moving forward and away from the city.  She told the boys that when the destruction began, Lot’s wife was unable to control herself and she stopped and looked back . . . and suddenly she turned into a pillar of salt!  One of the boys was obviously impacted by the story . . . as he sitting on the edge of his chair, breathing heavily, and he exclaimed, “WOW!’’

The grandmother asked him if he enjoyed the story and he said that he did and he knew a story just like it.  He explained that his dad had been teaching his older sister to drive the family car, and had cautioned her not to look back.  He exclaimed that his sister had looked back and she had turned into a telephone pole”!

Happy New Year . . . and God Bless you, one . . . and all!