Winter Visitors . . .

We live in a most remarkable area of the country. We have lived in the area for close to 40 years, 30 of which have been in the same home. I am self-employed and Sandy is a public-school teacher; we are fortunate in that we can live anywhere we wish — and we do! We live in the Coastal Bend of Texas—actually the mid-range of the Texas Gulf Coast—pretty much centered between Houston and Brownsville. South of our area are some wonderful places which include Brownsville, South Padre Island, Ports Mansfield and Isabel, the Lower Rio Grande Valley, and the Rio Grande River which is the international border with the country of Mexico. The Rio Grande Valley is one of the most fertile farming areas in the entire USA. There is a wide variety of crops grown in the Valley, but the conditions are very favorable for citrus; in fact, the Valley Citrus Growers Association boasts that there is a larger orange crop harvested by its growers than is harvested in Florida. Not only does the area boast excellent soil, the temperature range is quite good as well. There are a number of experiment-growing section farms in the area sponsored by USDA research, Texas A & M University; several seed companies such as Pioneer, and various Agri firms such as Cargill. In fact the famous 1015 onion was developed there at such an experiment farm located on FM 1015 between Progresso, Mexico, and US Highway 83 from Harlingen and McAllen.

All of it working together each year becomes a most attractive region for older, retired folks from the colder northern regions of the country. This group has proven to be a very resilient market share. Retired teachers, accountants, factory workers, farmers, and others have learned the rules of the road on RVing and come down in droves. Some come in pickup trucks towing bumper pull trainers, other with more modern 5th-wheel trailers with fancy slide outs that add space and comfort, and others come in motor homes—ranging from older and simple to converted aluminum travel buses costing as much as a million dollars.

As the northern weather begins to cool, these northern pilgrims load up and move south in droves like migratory birds. The journey takes days and even weeks for some as they go exploring as the travel down to their preselected parking spot. These are care-free, easy-living couples who have spent their lives working hard at their careers, building their business, raising their families, serving their communities, and working actively in their churches; now, they have reached the place in life to “Go, See, Experience, and Do.” They make many new friends up and down the road and in the “parks” they visit during their travels. These folks, once quite set in their ways, suddenly begin to influence one another and all sorts of new experiences take place. Many of the parks that have been developed to accommodate these travelers have improved significantly over the years and have added things such as club houses complete with kitchens, large and smaller dining rooms, dance floors, music stands for bands, meeting rooms for Bible studies, arts and crafts, other social activities, bath houses, work-out rooms, heated indoor pools, etc. Some of the other parks have remained unchanged and remain a simple place to park for a few months.

These winter visitors are a most interesting and diverse group of people who pretty well reflect and mirror the remainder of society in that some are quite social, active, involved, out and about; while others are something of a recluse—and there are layers in between.

These visitors are known by a variety of names and titles ranging from Winter Texans to a Snowbirds. They are also perceived by the local folks, businesses, Churches, and public facilities in a variety of ways. There is also a pretty wide range of opinions and judgments about them. Of course, the parks developed to serve them look forward to their return and the parks becoming a bee-hive of activity—folks coming and going and having fun. It just screams business success. Other business also look forward to their return—a number of businesses spring up to be support services for this market — including services to service and repair RV’s and vehicles used for towing.

Others don’t have such a high opinion of these visitors. I once had a discussion with a gentleman who opened a cafeteria in the Valley who fell into that group. I remarked that his establishment was obviously a favorite with this group as it was always packed. He grumbled and rolled his eyes and said, “Actually, I wish it wasn’t so! These folks arrive here with a dollar and a can of beans, and they return home with the dollar.” The man and woman come in together, go through the line with one tray, get the special to share, drink water and squeeze 5 slices of lemon in each glass along with five packages of artificial sweeteners. Both with hands full of crackers and other free condiments. They pick up a bottle of pepper sauce, and at the table they pry the lid off and using a knife, fish out every single pepper. When they leave, many of them take everything (including the napkins) out with them.” He went on to comment that the parking lot filled scared more favorable dinners away because of the crowd. He said he saw their business as smoke an’ mirrors.

Demanding a larger crew to serve the foot traffic, but the revenue generated simply not enough to support the payroll expense. He described it as, “Busy, heavy traffic, high expenses, low sales volume, and a customer group that precluded drawing a better market share to the cafeteria.”

Personally, I really like and enjoy these folks and their visit. I teach a Co-Ed 56-and-up Sunday school class at FBC — Rockport, and the class doubles in size between October and April. Some weeks we will have as many as 80 to 100 of these folks visit the class. Many of them hang around and get involved. Some of the class members and I bond and I communicate with some of them throughout the year via texts and emails. I have made many friends in this group. A number of the couple’s reach the place where they physically are no longer able to handle everything involved in the long commute with a large rig, and sell out up north and permanently return here to live out the remainder of their years. They are simply assimilated into our family and we minister to and look after them.

So, by the end of May and most of them have returned home, and we are beginning to get a second wave of visitors — the summer vacationers and fishermen. We encounter them up and down the roads, in the market place, on the beaches, and in the bays. Some of these folks participate in local comings and goings, but for the most part they simply hang around the fringes, but do produce revenue for the lodging, food service, local fishing guides, and retail businesses.

This is a wonderful area; very pleasing to hang out in and even better to permanently call home. If I ever cross over the Harbor Bridge, and gaze out and visually survey the beauty of the bay and Gulf of Mexico and that fails to thrill me to my very soul, I suppose I will be ready to move on. But in all these years, it has never once failed to do that.

Last month Sandy, Chris, Leslie, and I visited Port Mansfield and drove around this quaint little fishing village and were amazed at the white-tail deer that come out of the wild of the world famous King Ranch to graze in the yards and parks of the village every evening. The group was even more amazed as I told them to roll down their windows and hold their hands outside the car as we stopped at intersections. These wild deer would gingerly approach the car and lick our fingers — like in a paid-petting zoo. Not many places like that around!

Self-Inflicted Injury . . .

Sometimes people injure themselves intentionally and may do it in any number of ways: cutters . . . attempted suicide . . . alcohol and drug abuse . . . and the list goes on and on. Such folks are generally recognized as being disturbed, unbalanced, mentally or emotionally sick, or insane.

What about when our government (our representatives and employees) behaves in a manner that injures us as a nation? How should we classify that?

Last week I was once again reminded of how absolutely foolish the American people can be . . . while excusing it in the name of tolerance. I just read an article, “A Major Muslim Group makes a Bold Move to Gain More Power in the U.S. Government!” I do not have words to explain how hair-brained I find this.

Some extremely evil and misinformed people attack us on our own soil, killed thousands of non-combatants with hijacked commercial airplanes, and our government instantly adopted and implemented airport security policies designed to protect them and their kin from any extra measure of security clearance! I have personally seen airport screeners using a wand on an 85-year-old grandmother, and requiring her to remove her shoes, while not even giving a second look at four men wearing white robes and turbans as they passed by (Boston Logan). That dear lady was sitting in a wheelchair and I assure you that someone else had put her shoes on her that very morning . . . I put them back on her and tied them for her as she was simply was physically unable to do that task herself. I will be willing to wager a hefty sum of money that in the history of humanity there has never . . . ever . . . been one instance where an American grandmother in a wheelchair blew up or hijacked a commercial airplane. Any security system that focused such attention on her while failing to even remotely exercise due diligence on those who look and dress like our attackers is a confused and unbalanced security system.

While we sit idly by and allow our representatives and employees to bend over backwards treating these people as though they were the victims, their leaders are beheading people all over the world simply because they are fair-skinned or are professing Christians.

Why is it that those whose salaries are paid from our treasury to look after our interest are unable to understand that we have a very serious enemy . . . and that enemy attacks in two manners . . . on two fronts? Their word for attack or action is “Jihad” — an Islamic term for what they perceive as their religious duty or responsibility. To them the term is a noun meaning “struggle” or “resisting,” and every one of them participate in the effort in one way or the other. The two stages of their battle are as follows:

Violent Jihad – action intended and designed to kill or maim any non-Muslim. This stage of their war has many facets that include beheadings, bombings, terroristic activities, and acts that either kill or draw blood from their enemy.

Cultural Jihad – this phase of their war is much more subtle and dangerous. It is where they systematically attack our culture and use our own decency as a weapon against us . . . and then clubs us with it. They use our First Amendment rights to impose their crazy religion upon our culture . . . and then demand protection while doing so, and then attack Christianity. An American who even attempted such a trick in a nation operating under Sharia Law would quickly find his neck on a chopping block—literally! This has reached a boiling point and a number of states are trying to pass laws and state constitutional amendments that will keep foreign legal codes out of our courts. They are widely accepted as attempts to keep the Islamic legal code at bay. Others argue that they are pointless and merely smoke and mirrors to get Christian votes.

It seems to me . . . that we might want to send some of our representatives, employees, and liberal judges to those Middle-Eastern countries to try to “Gain More USA Power in those governments.” How well do you suppose they would fare under Sharia Law? I recommend you read any number of articles on the subject “Sharia Law,” and then consider that these people are working tirelessly to have that law recognized in the USA, and they are finding traction!

A Pair of Docs . . .

Two Doctors in San Antonio are due much credit for me being alive today and able to look after my family, serve the Lord, teach my

Sunday school class, run my business, and enjoy life. They are:

Dr. Donald Hilton, and Dr. Donald Adkins

They are partners in San Antonio Neurological Associates, and both they and their practice are considered by many as being amongst the best in the United States in the field of neurosurgery. They certainly are considered as such by me . . . and I just so happen to have a qualified opinion!

Dr. Hilton virtually rebuilt my neck using cadaver bones and fusing them into areas where I needed support. He did a bunch of grinding and cleaning up and other sorts of innovative and creative stuff to repair a seriously damaged neck that had put my life at risk. He did all of that with a one-inch incision in the front of my neck, which he glued back together upon completion, and there is zero sign of a scar! The entire thing is almost beyond belief . . . and just a few years ago was not even remotely possible. In fact 10 or 12 years back, a person with my neck injuries who have just died and his death would have remained a mystery. Actually, Dr. Hilton and his team did much to advance neurosurgery to this advanced state. My good friend and fellow fisherman, Dr. Martin Wiesenthal, of a San Antonio, asked me prior to my surgery, “How did you get in with this guy? He is like a legend –the very best and skilled surgeon — and doctors from across the world come to watch and learn from him!” He certainly demonstrated that in my case.

When I developed a serious problem with my legs functioning in October, 2014, I called Dr. Hilton and made an appointment with my friend. He sent me for an additional MRI (3 hours of non-stop hell on earth). Upon his review of my MRI, Chris and I sat in his office and looked on as he looked it over. Chris and I both immediately sensed that he was looking at something that greatly troubled him, and in his soft voice and gentle nature told me that he wanted me to see his partner, Dr. Adkins; saying that cases such as mine were his partner’s specialty. I agreed and told him that I had complete confidence in his opinion. So, I was transferred to Dr. Adkins.

My first session with Dr. Adkins was not pleasant as it was filled with troubling news about my problem, what would be required to address it, and his prediction about what I could expect going forward; none of it very encouraging. In spite of all that, Chris and I really liked Dr. Adkins and greatly appreciated his honesty, frankness, sincerity, and his care. It was very clear that his position was he had no right, reason, or cause to soft-soap or cushion any of it . . . he just told us what was wrong, the degree of difficulty of addressing it, and the best- and worse-case scenarios of corrective surgery, and did it all in an honest, direct, matter-of-fact, and caring manner.

The injury was an injury to my spinal cord—directly underneath my heart. He explained that he would be unable to enter from the front because of the location of my heart, from the sides due to my rib cage, leaving entry from the back as the only option. The problem with that entry was that he would have to reach forward and circle the spinal column and work on it from the back, with limited ability to see what he was doing. In fact, he said that a week prior to surgery he would need to place a screw in my back — to serve as a guide (point of reference) during the surgery. He said it was a rare condition—like 1 in10,000. I asked him if he had ever performed this particular surgery. He said that he had done one — but it had been “quite a while back.” I had an instant impression of a bright, gifted young intern doing an exploratory surgery on a cadaver. I didn’t ask any further questions about his experience. I told him that I understood the degree of risk and wanted to proceed. I sensed his reluctance and his reserve. I told him that I was a man of faith, and that while I wanted to live, I would prefer to die on an operating table trying to get well, than to live out my life in a wheelchair depending on others to perform simply tasks for me—and live. That was because I was afraid of the risks. I assured him that there would be lots of folks praying for him and me both. With that I saw a change in his countenance occur and he said, “All Right, let’s do it,” and he excused himself to go consult his surgery schedule. He returned in a matter of minutes to give me the surgery date. He did the surgery, which required two titanium rods about 12″ in length being set vertically on each side of my spine, and a series of cadaver bones fused into my spinal column and then bolted to the rods for support and to jack up, or raise, the area where the spinal cord was pinched off. It was a 6-1/2 hour, radical surgery. It was quite successful.

Both of these good men are dedicated surgeons and each have a terrific bedside manner. Both are very polite and extremely professional. In spite of their brilliance, both are quite humble and very likable, quite affable. I sincerely enjoyed each one’s visits following the surgeries. I consider each of these men as a personal friend—in fact, I thank God for them, and I pray for them and their life-changing work. The Lord has richly blessed each on them, and literally has His powerful hand on them, as they do their part in fixing broken people.

Of course, I know the Lord has healed me, but He used these gifted surgeons and blessed the medicine I have taken.

Don’t tell me that the Lord no longer heals . . . I am living proof that He does, indeed still heal folks! However, I am also evidence that He heals in a different fashion than He did in the infant stages of the New Testament Church!!

Neck or back trouble? Check out my friends! It doesn’t cost a dime more to use the very best, and these guys are certainly the best!

 

Similar to Nature . . .

I spent almost a month in the hospital earlier this year. I am a pretty firm believer in the old adage, “Use it or lose it.” I was concerned about keeping myself mentally active and alert, and that is challenging in that situation. I read quite a bit and would think about what I read and then wrote related text messages with a spiritual perspective. I sent those texts to a few of my closest friends, and my family members; most of them responded back and said they appreciated the brief “devotional.” I am not even certain how it happened but somewhere along the way it became pretty much a morning devotional. I enjoyed doing it and folks said they enjoyed receiving the texts.

A couple of times, my rehab schedule changed and I was simply prevented from doing a morning text. I received a number of texts asking if I was okay, and saying they missed the devotion. Some of the folks were sweet: Betty Horan, Steve Olsen, Steve Roland, Sir Ryan Melton, Zach McKinney, Neal Burnett and his darling wife, Donna, Ken and Gini Sims of East Texas, Tiffany Minard, Linda Sweet, Andy Biery, Cyndi Paden Melton, Javier Galvan, Francis and Bernie Morales, Cole Crump, Jerry Mickey, Ashlee Stevens, Shirley Campbell and Pat Stone (my LDS buds from the pool), Bobby Albin, Sean Brinkley, a number of Pastor friends around Texas (who come down and fish), and some of the Doctors, nurses, and rehab tech’s who were looking after me. At first I was surprised how this seemed to take on a life of its own and how I was motivated to write it each day. Then the thought occurred to me that texting has become the preferred method of communication for many people today. They can read a text almost anywhere, think about it, and reply or just pause and pray. It has proven an effective means of helping folks think in a spiritual manner of a morning. It has also proven to be a great way to share prayer requests. I am having more and more folks ask to be included. One day last week, my text devotion was something along the lines of:

Every day I work out in the pool, which is surrounded by large, mature oak trees. There are always things falling out of the trees—leaves, seeds, small twigs and such. Pretty much anything that blows across the yard finds its way into the pool. Thus, some of the time I am in the pool I am walking around with a hand-net skimming the water’s surface. I also scoop and toss out quite a few frogs. It is a completely natural thing to find frogs in a pool. By instinct, frogs are drawn to a body of water, but they don’t know that a pool with chlorine is deadly for them; thus, most of the frogs I find are dead. Over recent years I have, more and more, found myself working with folks who struggle with addictions—typically alcohol and drugs. As I scoop up the frogs I think about my friends who struggle with their addictions. The chemically-treated pool for the frog is much the same as is sin for the addict. Once in . . . it is extremely difficult to get back out for both the frog and the addict. In fact, most of the time it is impossible for the addict to get out on his or her own, so they need a helping hand. That is the time when they need to hear that Jesus loves each one of them and He came to set the captives free, and they can be free if they want to be free. My sweet niece, Ashlee Stevens, in Indiana, texted me back in a few minutes and said that she too, scoops frogs from her pool. She said that she, too, had thought of the frogs in the pool being much like addicts. Ashlee and her husband, Sean, do inter-city street-ministry work in Indianapolis where they encounter addiction regularly. Ashlee said she scooped three types of frog from her pool, as follows:

. . . Those that are dead;

. . . Those that have been in the pool for quite a while and are obviously damaged; and

. . . Those who have only been in the pool for a short while and are still alive and thriving; yet, in a bit of a panic.

Ashlee said she is sad for the dead ones, while she is also confident that those retrieved while still alive will survive and be okay. She went on to say that those in between were the ones she was most concerned about and ponders if they will recover or be damaged for the remainder of their lives because the chemical has done too much damage. She then reminded me that there are always those who have been rescued, but go back and jump right back into the pool again.

The Bible says there is a way that seems right to a person, but its path leads to destruction. The addict can justify using chemicals in his or her own mind, and it even makes sense to them. There is the prevailing thought, “I can quit anytime I want to quit,” but that is the devil’s lie. Those who are viewed as experts in the field explain that the addict cannot be rescued by others; but rather, the addict must personally choose to be clean and sober and then do the work required to be free. They go on to say that the life of addiction includes ups and downs much like a roller coaster in the park, and the addict cannot turn around until he or she hits the bottom. They explain that that place is different for each addict. Working with these broken, fractured people is heart-wrenching and emotional. It is painful to look on as they damage themselves physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually—and damage relationship with those who love them.

One of my guys called at 11 pm a couple of nights back to say that he was on the floor and injured. He said he had fallen off of a ladder and seriously damaged his left arm and hand. He went on to say that he was waiting on someone to come drive him to the ER. He wanted me to remain on the line with him until help arrived. He cried and apologized for not responding to my calls over the past couple of months (he owes me money), and said he had been living on the edge again. I had to fire one guy . . . and there is another guy who is almost at that same place. That is going on all across the planet, and I don’t believe there is an end in sight. I recently learned that the largest local employer in this area screens out about 35% of all applicants because of failed drug tests. This problem has reached a troubling level in our culture. Many families have been, and are being, affected by a family member being addicted to chemicals. In fact, I don’t think I know of a family that is not or has not been affected by this tragedy. I know of several families who are hoping and praying for a father, mother, son, or daughter who is out on the streets living at or near the bottom. I know a very few families who have a loved one who has returned home and seems to be getting along pretty well, but everyone continues to pray and hope, but they also remain on alert. I know other families who are in mourning over a loved one who did not survive the addiction.

God in Heaven . . . Please help and comfort those families.

A Tragic Shift . . .

This night, I am a disturbed and soulful man,

sleep is slow to come and permit me to find needed rest,

my heartache is this Nation I love is as troubled tonight as any nation ever can,

and is now placed itself in as grave of danger as a young bird blown from its mother’s nest.

A Nation founded on God, and his mercy and grace were clearly desired,

and evidenced by those who established the nation with Him as its foundation,

and the beautiful legislation drafted and adopted as they were certain it was He who had
inspired!

The original groups who arrived, knelt on the seashore and thanked God for safe passage,

declared that with His help they would build a nation in which He would always have a place.

The young nation, in spite of struggles and confusion along the way, always had a clear message.

Yet, tonight it seems that the government, with a divided people have placed individual desires into God’s space.

Courts have declared that God must not have any role in the school,

and the Bible must never be seen there, nor a prayer ever be heard,

the problem is that God and His Word, might offend some, so they made a strong

new rule.

So a generation grew up without learning the wisdom and goodness in his Holy Word.

The Courts soon began to discover new things in the Constitution, never before known,

things which they were compelled to make known . . . things that ignored what was right,

things such as a mother could dispose of an unwanted baby by placing his sweet little head into a suction cone,

and any disgruntled citizen was free to burn our flag in the street, day or night.

Soon the soul of the nation became unsettled,

and the courts continued its attack on God as our foundation,

and actively solicited and accepted issues in which it could meddle

and greatly change the face of the nation.

In recent days, the court has entered a tragic and even more dangerous place,

disregarding the holy institution God ordained . . . and intended for the family

declaring that perverted desires had precedence and could now occupy God’s space,

and the people set by looking on ….. lamely.

It is troubling to know, that history is full of once-great nations,

which, over time became offensive to God, in its quest to not,offend anyone — except God!

Through those Nation’s rebellion and self-interest, they moved into dangerous new stations!

and soon found themselves under His powerful rod.

Most believe that we can get away with it all,

Convinced that our nation can always escape and could never fail,

but history is replete with a long list of others who certainly did fall,

and others who were backed up into a wall.

 

A Troubled, Confused, and Lost Nation . . .

Many years ago in a foreign land a large group of people were enslaved

Under the whips of their taskmasters they were unable to stand;

They cried out to God, “Save us and we will behave!” God in Heaven heard their plea,

and sent a man Whom He had prepared earlier . . . in that very land!

The man had been born under an order of genocide,

but spared by a clear act of God, which saved and spared him from homicide.

The man heard from God in a number of ways,

Even a burning bush . . . over a number of days.

God told him, “Tell Pharaoh to let my people go,”

Pharaoh was a non-believer, and merely said “No!”

The nation’s leader’s rejection of God and His word,

Was tragic and certainly proved to be absurd!

God set forth a series of judgments and plagues,

Each progressively stronger, and a sinful nation awakes.

With His powerful hand, God set those former slaves free,

And He told Moses, “Tell the people I have something for them to see!

God had Moses lead them to the river that ran beside the Promised Land,

He said, “We can go in,” the people who had promised to behave, refused and made a stand!

God, whom had delivered them, led, strengthened, accompanied, and watched over them,

Had finally become angered by their constant rebellion and now, this silly whim!

God led them into the wilderness where they would wander without direction,

Their willful, foolish rejection of God’s Grace, sadly resulted in that generation’s rejection.

Many years later, in a land far from that Promised Land, another group of people cried out,

“We want, we need to worship and serve God as we feel led,”

So they rebelled against the King, clung together, and knew it was right, without any doubt.

Groups boarded wooden ships, time after time, confident by God they were being led.

They arrived on the shores of a beautiful, rich but wild new place,

And together they knelt and promised God that here,

He would always have a sacred place.

They, inspired by God, set up a wonderful new nation with Him and His Word as its foundation,

But the enemy watched closely, worked slyly, and set about to slowly unsettle that Nation.

This glorious new nation, perhaps the new Promised Land, stood strong, noble and true;

Not always knowing the way, struggled amongst themselves even to an era they would rue.

Some blinded by their ambition, imported other humans of God’s creation;

Enslaved them to work and to hurry them to what they believed was their destination.

Some said, “That is not who we are, nor not what we should do,”

and the debate thus began,

And the enemy caused a dark and troubling shadow to settle over this troubled young land!

Unable to agree, they soon came to war . . . a divided Nation;

The South and the North, which now looked like that model nation

Long ago in the first Promised Land, which had also allowed the enemy to divide them the same, and each side alone went forth.

The battle was fierce and bitter . . . the ground covered in blood as many lives were lost,

And it all came at a terrible, grievous, physical, and spiritual cost.

The young nation would struggle with the enemy’s poison for many years to come,

And while the majority worked tirelessly to develop a great Nation under God,

there would always be that . . . troubling some!

Inspired by the forces of hell, that group began to challenge and seek to dismantle;

Manipulated, a system of fairness was soon turned to troubling verdicts of shame,

decisions that attacked our God, values and beliefs and quickly turned to scandal.

And as the nation quietly allowed more of the same, it slowly became lame.

The courts ignored the Constitution, and began creating flawed laws;

Laws that refused God in the school, allowed the murder of the unborn in large measure;

So-called laws that the citizens clearly understood were tragically covered in flaws,

Laws and a legal system that ignored the honorable beginnings, and seeked only freedom and treasure.

Tonight, that once model nation, once so clearly led by God and His grace,

Is like a giant ocean-liner which having lost its source of power,

Sadly, flounders, tossed about by every wind, and is dangerously near the dreaded rocky place,

And, like that giant ship, is unable to find the lighthouse that had always stood there as a tower.

Rebellion and rejection of God and His law, denial of Him, selfishness and greed are all sin,

But the adopted code of the troubled young nation is “never-mind that, just,press ahead,”

But by God’s grace, love, and mercy, He made a way where many could and would, win

And not end up like those others who rejected truth and remained spiritually dead.

So, this once-model experimental young nation, that briefly became glorious and great,

Is now filled with mayhem, confusion, division, trouble, and hate.

Some still claim there is still greatness ahead,

But many of us fear it is almost too late! DO NOT BE DECIEVED . . . God will not be mocked!  Prepare yourself . . . judgment is coming . . . and every day which passes brings it closer!

Why Would a Nation Abandon God?

A people forming a new nation in a beautiful new land,

Driven to come here to build a completely new life,

Though great dangers at sea, arriving here with little in hand;
Yet, determined and driven to practice their faith, without the old external strife.

Upon their arrival, they knelt on a sandy shore and thanked the Lord for safe passage;
Thrilled to finally be free, delighted to be part of something larger than them,
As their numbers grew, boat-load by boat-load, they soon developed a common adage,
In this new nation, people would forever be free to worship God and to live for Him.

As nation-building goes, it took many years; yet, as they struggled forward, they never wavered.
They met, they talked, they debated, they labored, and they prayed.
They were determined to build a nation established on the notion of Love thy Neighbor;
And regardless of struggles, histories, places of origin, from this proposition they never strayed.

The young nation grew larger in numbers as new seekers arrived each year;
The young nation grew stronger and bolder as more pilgrims joined in this great quest,
And their noble and honorable desire to worship the Living God without fear,
Now free from the harsh and senseless religion, their hearts yearned to give God their best.

Working tirelessly, they elected representatives to form their bold new nation,
To form and draft documents, laws, and a Constitution by which they would work and live;
Never a question that in it all God was the very foundation,
And in all that they did and accomplished, to Him the glory they would faithfully give.

They established a noble form of government, each one with his own right,
Not all that they did and said was always proper and good;
But pulling together, being bigger together than each one alone, they discovered their might,
And the enemy followed along and influenced deceit, greed, and evil whenever he could.

They selected a flag, a visible sign of their bond and notice to others they would not be moved,
They then developed a public pledge in which they described it as one nation under God;
The promise to always be true to the nation and God and all that behooved,
Never dreaming that one day the enemy would use that very,pledge as a lightning rod!

The young nation moved forward in time, serving as a lighthouse of God’s grace,
Constantly prospering as they discovered and used the blessings and resources
That God had so majestically in this new world had graciously set in place;
And which they faithfully acknowledged in all of their discourses.

Then, tragically, as the nation approached its 200th year, things began to make a change,
And suddenly confusion and rebellion began to powerfully take place.
A new feeling of selfishness and greed strongly surfaced and it felt strange;
Suddenly, many refused to acknowledge God’s rightful and proper place in the Human race.

Many changes and challenges would come over the next half century; court rulings that replaced God honoring laws, with heavy focus on personal right,
Soon led to a new need to always be building a new penitentiary,
And sadly, the light-house began to have an ever-dimming light.

The great and noble young nation once so determined to honor God,
Lured by the sly lure of the enemy’s low hanging fruit,
Of “do as you wish, fulfill your self, don’t bother giving your neighbor or God, even a nod,”
And as the greedy did so, many began to follow suit.

Courts have now evicted God from any and all public places,
The government suddenly determined to encouraging sin at every turn;
Using public funds contrary to law, to provide destructive personal spaces, murder your baby, ridicule Christianity, be divided by races,
And the flag you can burn.

Today it is difficult to see evidence of that young, noble, God-honoring nation,
As it has been manipulated, misaligned, confused, and misdirected by those who reject the truth;
And transfer instruction and direction from God’s Holy Word to Capitol
Hill as the new enlightened location,
And seek to direct people from God, and encourage them to live as if they were in a circus or carnival booth!

Declaring to a generation, “You don’t need God, we will provide you an education,”
Dishonest in denial of God in creation and life, claiming no such entity exists,
Which sadly delivered the confused masses to a desperate situation,
And all truth denied . . . and consumed with a drive that always denies and resists.

 

Heavenly Thoughts . . .

My Mother recently passed away . . . I know she is in Heaven. I have been thinking quite a lot about both my sweet Mom and about Heaven recently. I have always known that Heaven exists . . . and it is far more for me that just a strong belief of something . . . I know for certain that heaven is out there . . . and it is where I will spend eternity with God. I will spend eternity there because Jesus has redeemed me and He has given me the calm assurance of this wonderful truth.

Heaven is described as a wonderfully amazing place in the Bible: streets of gold . . . gates of pearl . . . heavenly choirs . . . and more and more. It is pretty easy to let one’s mind wander and to think upon the greatness and perfection of it all. I love what Jesus told His Disciples on His last night with them before his crucifixion. He told them that He was going to prepare a place for them (and that includes me and I hope it includes you, too).

Then, my friend Linda called and asked me to pray for her one-month-old grandson, Darion, in Fort Worth. A few days later she told me that Darion had died, and the thought of it all broke my heart . . . for the family . . . and for my friend, Linda. Then, I began to think about that sweet baby boy . . . up there in that wonderful place called Heaven.

I have always been taught . . . and believed . . . that a baby who dies goes immediately to Heaven. There is this thing called “the age of accountability” . . . which simply means that a precious baby who dies as an infant never sinned—never realized that he had rebelled against God, and in his simple innocence, was accepted into Heaven.

As I thought on it this, a series of questions began to form in my mind and in my heart . . . “Does a baby remain a baby in Heaven?” “Is there a nursery in Heaven?” “If there is a nursery there, is it staffed by angels who look after and tend to the infants?” “Do the infants age normally there?” What about the old belief that one never grows older there?

As I contemplated all of this, it occurred to me that a precious little baby enters the life-process limited in his or her ability to understand, experience, and appreciate things about him or her.

It seems to me . . . that everyone in Heaven will know and be known . . . and in order for that to be true, those babies must be changed! Honestly,
I don’t have a clue how that change occurs . . . or even what the change might be, but I do know that the Lord Jesus Christ has been transforming people since the beginning of time and He can certainly facilitate any transformations that might be needed in Heaven.

I once knew an extremely brilliant old Preacher—the dude could play any musical instrument and play it well; he could read, write, and speak seven languages, had written something like 50 books, was an artist to the max, and read like 700 words-a-minute with a tested 97% comprehension! He not only was brilliant, he was also rather peculiar, and perhaps even Kooky, but I recall that he would claim everyone in heaven would be the equivalent of a 33-year-old male. His basis for this claim was, “that was Jesus’ age” and he claimed that “God’s expressed purpose was to ultimately conform every man, woman, and child to the expressed image of His dear Son!”

I do not know the answers to these questions . . . nor did that smart old, goofy kook, but I do know:
. . . Heaven is perfect, and I will go there one day. Don’t think me too peculiar for my thoughts expressed herein . . . but the truth of the matter is that each and every new home I was set to move into had pretty much the same impact on me. I would think about the home, about how it would fit my family, and what life would be like living in that home. I am just doing the same thing here, but on a much larger scale. But, hey, it is going to be a much larger and grander home and I will live in it for a really long time!

I have a big brother who went to Heaven about 70 years ago as an infant. I am wondering what he was like when my precious Mom met him up there. I am thinking that was some special reunion.

It is quite pleasant to think of Heavenly things . . .

A Kind and Gentle Heart . . .

Last night Sandy and Courtney talked on the phone for a while, which is nothing unusual as they do that pretty much every day. Most of the time when the conversation is over and they say their goodbyes, Sandy will update me by a review of their telephone conversation.

Last night’s conversation was different . . . it was tender and sensitive as a girl’s conversations can be. Sandy said Courtney told her about having dinner in a local Italian restaurant with a friend. She said the only diners were her and her friend and another pair of ladies at a nearby table. She told her mom that the ladies were middle-aged and well-dressed. She said their tables were close enough to over-hear each other’s conversations. She said she deciphered that the well-dressed ladies were in town to teach a class on Essential Oils, something about which she has developed a strong interest and has actually signed up as a dealer (simply to get her own products at a reduced cost).

So, my sweet daughter found her fellow diners interesting and thought they were both kind-hearted ladies. Not only is Courtney interested in the oils, she also serves on the Board of Directors of a non-profit that teaches underprivileged women in third-world countries how to make soap from indigenous materials in order to be clean and make money to care for their families. Courtney not only sits on that Board, she is in charge of fund-raising, and I suspect she is the largest donor.

Sandy told me that as the ladies neared the end of their dinner, the young waitress approached their table to see if they wanted dessert. A conversation was struck up and the young lady inquired about the women’s visit to town, so they gave her a brief overview of the essential oils and their health benefits. The young waitress told the ladies, “Wow, I need to learn about those oils and buy some; my mom is very sick with a terminal disease.” The ladies, both moved with compassion, took the waitress’ hand and declared, “Honey, you are far too young to be an orphan . . . may we pray for you and your mother right now?”, and did so on the spot!

Sandy said Courtney was sniffling all through the story, so she asked her, “Honey, what did you do?” Courtney replied, “Mom, I just busted out crying and paid for the ladies’ dinner.”

That is my sweet, tender-hearted Courtney . . . just doing what she has done all of her life. She has always stood up for . . . and with . . . anyone hurting. In school she was quick-as-a-cat in coming alongside the underdog. She was always the coolest and prettiest girl in school and she made a lot of poor, hurting, and downtrodden kids feel terrific as she came alongside them and put the word out that this kid was her friend! I don’t even know how she learned to do this; she just always did it and looked like a conquering hero in the process.

I don’t have a clue how many hearts Courtney has touched in her life by her gentleness and kind-heartedness, but I know it has certainly been many. I do know she has touched my heart many, many times through the years, and most of the time it was because someone else told me of things sweet Courtney had done for them or someone else they knew. She is a pretty amazing young lady.

It Seems to me . . . this is exactly the sort of things the Master meant when He said in John 13:34 -35, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

The Passing of a Saint . . .

Funeral services were held for my precious Mother, Stella Mae Cargill Melton, on Saturday morning, June, 27, 2015. My son, Christopher M. Melton officiated—at her instruction and request. The dear lady lived her life well . . . had run her course, finished her fight, and completer her race – which was won. She graduated to her reward and the fulfillment and reality of eternal life; no more sorrow, no more heartache, no more pain, no more tears! Today she basks in the glory of the Lord . . . the One whom she faithfully served for some 70 years.

She grew up the daughter of a single-parent, rancher Dad in Burnet County, Texas, along with her younger brother, Billy Charles Cargill. Her mother, Maggie Scott Cargill, had left her family when my mom was three years of age for life with another man. On rare occasions Mom would speak of this, but never in anger or bitterness. She spoke of it as instruction, family history, and caution of the danger of making poor choices. It was something that, quite naturally, took a heavy toll on her and her brother Billy, but it also created within her the desire and drive to be a strong, faithful, disciplined wife and loving mother . . . which she certainly was.

In her teens, she, along with a few teens she palled around with, attended an old-fashioned revival service of the Temple Baptist Church of
Burnet. Upon hearing the Gospel message, she along with two fellows, who would later become her brothers-in-law and my Uncles (Eugene and A. J. Melton), went forward and made public professions of faith in Christ. She would later marry my dad, Dillard “Johnny” Leon Melton, and mother nine (9) children—raising eight (8) of them, and bury the other. Her family would drift around the oil patch for a number of years following work. Lifestyle would always be modest and meager, but she instilled morals, values, work ethic, and integrity in her children. She always found a church wherever the family was living and faithfully took her children to services; thus, demonstrating her faith. I don’t recall a single time when her faith wavered, regardless of how difficult circumstances became—and they did become extremely difficult on many occasions.

In 1969, after several of the children had left the nest, thus lightening the load, she along with her husband and the three (3) children who remained at home, Stella, Dorothy, and Billy Charles, relocated from Hobbs, New Mexico, back to Burnet, Texas, where she would live out the remaining days of her life. As soon as the move was made back to Burnet, she moved her Church membership back to Temple Baptist Church.

Interestingly, her Service was on Saturday, June 27, in the modest little country church, and the following morning the Church celebrated its 70th anniversary. She had played a significant role through much of the
Church’s history. The visiting Preacher from D/FW who presided over the anniversary service delivered a sermon on “The Passing of the Baton” in the race of Life and posed the question of whom—within this Body of Believers—might step forward and assume the tasks this dear Saint had faithfully seen to through the years.

Of course, there is an ache and sorrow that accompanies her graduation, but what a joy to know her race is completed and that she has entered into and received her inheritance! I delight in knowing the joy she is experiencing as she is reunited with those who had gone on before her—her Papa, her husband, her first born son, Dillard, her brother Billy, her son Willie, her daughter Hazel, her grandson Matthew Cowey, and many others. Today, she walks on streets of gold . . . and delights in that wonderful place Jesus had prepared specifically for her! On earth, she loved to sing hymns and sang with her Church choir. With her lovely alto voice she often sang solos in worship services. Today, she joins with a much larger choir . . . singing a new song . . . and her voice is even more lovely.

She left behind six adult offspring, 16 grandchildren, and 14 great-grandchildren. Each one fully aware of: the hope that was within her . . . the One whom she loved and served and was foundational in her life. Each one knows because she was always faithful to lovingly speak to each one of these things and then encourage and employ each one to make the same life-choice and eternal decision she had personally made years ago. She would always smile and say, “You won’t ever be sorry, and He will never let you down.” I know . . . she said it to me many times . . . and she reflected that truth everyday of her life in which I was privileged to know her.

Actually, I believe that most of her family accepted and were influenced by her faithful life, testimony, and witness. I pray those who have not . . . will reflect on a life lived quite well and examine his or her own heart and will call out to Jesus in faith. That was her dying hope. She told Chris, “Don’t you just stand up and tell them about me and my life; I want you to please preach a message of God’s love, grace, mercy, and precious gift of salvation which is available to all confessing sinners.”

I am proud of Chris. He did that very thing, and he did it quite eloquently. I am also quite proud to declare that I will one day be reunited with my dear Mother—and in great measure because of her faithful witness.

I loved my precious Mother then . . . I love her now. I thank God for her and her great, unwavering faith! What a heritage she left us. In closing, It Seems to Me . . . that a faithful and honorable mother’s love only comes in second place to God’s great and amazing love. I suspect because such a mother’s love is . . . simply a reflection of God’s majestic love!