Power . . .

I was startled awake at 5:15 Monday morning by a very loud clap of thunder. As I sat up, I also heard the gentle rattle of the rain as it fell on the metal rain-cap on the chimney. I yawned, stretched and collected my thoughts. As I got my bearings, it occurred to me that I ought to turn the sprinkler system off since the sprinkler heads shoot forth a spray of water that invites lightening to strike it. Still in my jammie’s, I stumbled into the kitchen and turned on the coffee maker and went out on the covered terrace and into the ante room off my office where the sprinkler system control panel is located. After disarming the panel, I went back on the terrace. As I did there was more lightening, so I took a seat at the outdoor breakfast table and watched the show! As I watched and listened to all of that power and energy (an hour before daylight), the thought struck that all of that power and majesty are but a mere flick on the Lord’s index finger. He has all power! He commands all of nature and its raw power. He created everything out of nothing. He hung the sun, stars, and moon in space and commanded them all to stay there and do their jobs until such time as He told them to do something different! I was thrilled as I watched and remembered that He loves me and has made serious promises to me. I chuckled as the thought occurred to me that it is just too cool when the Lord shows up . . . it is even cooler when He shows out!

Then I drove to San Antonio to conduct a seminar on Tuesday and Wednesday at a terrific downtown hotel. Then on Wednesday afternoon, as I head to Burnet, I will stop by Stone Oak Hospital to visit a friend who will have neck surgery earlier in the day. When he developed a problem, I hooked him up with my Neurosurgeons and they are certain they can fix his problem. I hope they can!

I will overnight at the Burnet house on Wednesday, workout in the pool at the YMCA on Thursday, then drive to Waco and pick up Ali and Abi. We will return to Burnet for Thursday evening; then on Friday morning we will have breakfast at the cool new McDonalds in Burnet and drive to the Coast.

Thinking that I strayed off onto a rabbit trail with all of this when I started off writing about power? Let me assure you that my trip to San Antonio and each of the events identified herein are also demonstrations of the Lord’s power, just as much as that electrical storm. It is a great power that enables a fellow who suffered from a broken neck and a serious spinal cord injury to function independently and travel alone in this manner.

I love the power of God. It changes everything . . .

Consequences . . .

The definition of consequences is: result, upshot, outcome, effect, repercussion, ramifications, corollary, concomitant, aftermath, aftereffect, producer, payoff, or sequela.

Do you believe there are consequences in life . . . for decisions made, for things done, or not done? Do you believe that decisions made and things done in this life can carry costs and consequences into the next life (the hereafter). The truth is that the Holy Bible declares openly . . . clearly . . . and often that is the case. In fact, Jesus frequently used parables to illustrate that truth. What is a parable? An earthly story with a Heavenly message. Some argue that Jesus’ parables did not teach spiritual truths. I chuckle at that and argue that Jesus never wasted time, words, or any occasion to help fractured and hurting people.

Do you know that every human must ultimately make a decision about Jesus Christ, the Son of God? The One who came here to offer himself as a propitiation for sinners. Do you know that every human will ultimately make a decision about Christ . . . to either accept Him as Savior, to reject Him, or to ignore His offer of salvation, but a decision is made . . . and it is a decision, whatever one decides, that God will honor throughout eternity. The truth is that God permits each of us to make a decision here on earth and carry it into the next life . . . and He will honor that decision throughout eternity. Now, that is the consequence of free will!

In 1973, a 22-year-old woman discovered she was pregnant; yet, unwed. She simply did not want to be burdened with the responsibility of caring for a baby. That pitiful young woman became the poster girl for an evil enterprise. Her name was Norma McCorvey and she quickly became the pawn of an evil group who was dedicated to the notion of population control . . . by any means . . . at any cost. The name Jane Roe became the legal pseudonym used in a legal action which challenged before the Supreme Court state laws that prohibited abortion. Tragically, the Supreme Court Justices found that the state has no right to deny a woman the right to make decisions about her body. A rare decision that precluded the majority’s right to govern . . . and defended the individual’s right not to be governed. A little known portion of the story is that the Supreme Court ruling came three years after Ms. McCorvey’s baby was born and placed in adoption. Ms. McCorvey would later become a fierce opponent of “a woman’s right to choose,” and she would forever claim that she became the victim of unscrupulous lawyers and an evil enterprise that preyed upon and used a young, confused, and emotional woman.

Records reveal that between that decision being handed down in 1973 and this date in 2017, there have been over 50 million babies sacrificed on the altar of convenience. Mothers sacrificing the lives of their babies.

Back to the question of consequences . . . that young woman, Norma McCorvey, this last week in Katy, Texas. The poor lady died of heart failure . . . in an assisted-living facility . . . and she did not even reach the proverbial three score and ten . . . she died at age 69.

In another matter . . . one Omar Abdul-Rahman ‘the Blind Sheik,’ the Egyptian terrorist . . . a Sunni Islamist convicted of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, died in a U. S. Federal prison this week.

I wonder just what these two misguided souls discovered as they, each one, stood before the eternal Judge.

Consequences? Indeed, there are consequences . . . both here . . . and in the hereafter. Want to test it? Get in your auto and drive through town and run a couple of traffic lights. At best, you will get a traffic citation . . . but then, you might get a first-row seat at how that consequences thing plays out before the throne of the righteous Judge.

Dishonesty Abounds . . .

What a peculiar time in which we live. I find the national media to be totally unethical. It seems they have no need to be accurate in reporting . . . merely the need to be out there in the mix. The Washington Post (a real rag on the level of the National Enquirer) published a story alleging the transition team had interactions with Russia and it set off a feeding frenzy. Mind you, there has not been one shred of evidence offered, it merely cited “members of the Administration” or “members of the previous Administration.” How low-rent can they get?

Add that to the 24-hour news cycle of cable television and you have a real mess. It is worsened by some evil forces at work, chartering buses and hauling in mobs of confused (and well paid) protestors to create chaos across the land. Those groups are easily incited such as the recent protests at Berkeley. I am not sure why those forces are doing this beyond just creating social unrest and changing our moral fiber as a nation. I believe the Apostle Paul wrote of such in 2 Thessalonians 2:11, wherein he said, “and for this cause, God shall send them strong delusion that they should believe a lie.” I would encourage you to read the entire chapter. Paul describes the work of the enemy of our souls as he does his evil. It sounds to me sort of like what we are seeing in this generation.

The free press is supposed to keep the government honest, but who is supposed to keep the press honest? I argue that with our form of government we desperately need a strong two-party system and a strong and reliable free press. It seems the two-Party system is in danger and the press is pretty much gone. In truth, I think we are witnessing the death of the print media . . . personally, I honestly have not bought a newspaper in a dozen years.

It Seems to Me . . . that we are living in changing times, for sure.

 

Wealth . . .

I recently read an article about the recent transfer of 300 tons of gold from New York to Frankfurt by the German Central Bank. The article said it was moved as part of the Bank’s new policy to begin keeping its assets at home. Traditionally, the Bank stored its assets away . . . fearing a possible invasion by Russia.

There are 32,000 ounces in a ton x $1,225.00 per ounce = $39,200,000!

$39,200,000 x 300 tons . . . is quite a bit of money, but then it only equals something like 1/6th of Donald Trump’s net worth.

Can you even imagine such wealth? I am convinced that great wealth would just overwhelm me and make me feel rotten. There are so many underprivileged people in the world, so many who are hungry and needy, and without hope.

When Jesus walked on earth there was a belief amongst the Jewish people that wealth was a reflection of both God’s favor and one’s standing with God. Jesus refuted that belief and declared that it was easier for a camel to pass through the “eye of a needle” than for a rich man to enter heaven (Matt 19:24). His disciples were astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”

It is actually quite confusing until one remembers that there are two different economies at work. Man has one economy . . . the Lord has a different economy. Man’s economy says, “In order to have . . . you must first get and keep.” God’s economy says, “If you are going to have, you must give.”

In God’s economy, the poorest man in town (financially) can actually be the richest man in town (spirituality). Likewise, the richest man in town just might actually be the poorest man in town. Find a book about the life of one Howard Hughes . . . a wealthy man who became pitiful and all alone!

Three hundred tons of gold? Tends to be rather impressive down here, but in Heaven it is simply paving material!

A Sweet Phone Call . . .

It was Monday afternoon and I was working in the office. My cell phone rang and it showed a 254 area code, but I didn’t recognize the number and neither did my caller ID. I answered it and heard a sweet voice ask, “Is this Pappy Melton?” I chuckled and affirmed that I was, indeed! The lady said, “There is someone here who wants to speak with you.” I said okay, and heard the sweetest little voice say, “Pappy, I love the flowers and the teddy bear! Thank you.” I chuckled and said, “You are most welcome. Do you know why I had them delivered to you?” . . . After a brief pause, she asked, “Because you love me in the whole world, and all of ‘Merica?” I chuckled and declared that I certainly did love her just that much. That measure of love is uniquely Abi’s very own. I am not sure when she started using that phrase, but it has been some time now. It warms my heart each time she says she loves me that much.

Abi informed me that big sister Ali and her GiGi had gone to Waco and she and Gran (her great-grandmother) were working in the office. She assured me that she had accepted delivery of both her Valentine Day delivery and Ali’s, and she would pass it on to Ali upon her return. In a moment, Gran came on the line to tell me about the fellow making the delivery and how formal he had been, and how 4-year-old Abi had said, “Mine is the one that says: Abi . . . A . . . B . . . I.”

Abi told me “How soft” her teddy bear was and how much she loved him. She also went on to assure me that she loved me in the whole world, and all of ‘Merica! She and Gran promised to hug each other and Ali for me, and with that said their good-byes. I thanked them for calling.

I just sat there for a bit and reflected on how significantly my life has changed since Ali and Abi came along. I love those sweet gals, and I love having such deliveries made to them. I paused and thanked the Lord for the girls and once again asked Him to watch over, and to protect, guide, and direct their lives.

I love being their Pappy!

Happy Valentine Day, sweet girls. Enjoy your flowers and teddy bears.

The Passing of a Friend . . .

I knew Jerry Mickey for about a dozen years, but he was one of those people you just felt like you had known forever. He was absolutely one of the kindest, most gentle, positive, and happiest people I have ever known. He was always happy to see everyone and made all feel special. He was most remarkable in that I never heard him say one unkind thing, or display any form of anger or irritation.

His sweet widow, Betty, asked that I perform his memorial service, which I agreed to do. On Tuesday afternoon I drove out to their home and met with the family. As we sat around the table and talked about their great loss, I told them that I had found him to be the most remarkable man. I was blown away when I mentioned that I had never seen him be impolite, rude, or unkind. His sons said, “Neither have we”. That speaks volumes.

In his Memorial Service, I told the large group of friends, family, and mourners that in preparing my remarks, the thought had occurred to me that no man is indispensable . . . but there are a few who are difficult to replace. Jerry Mickey was just such a man.

Jerry fought a battle with cancer, and he did it with a great measure of grace. He demonstrated faith and strength and remained strong for his family; in it all, he was an inspiration. During his Memorial Service, I used Paul’s statement in Philippians 1, wherein he declared that he was uncertain about what was ahead for him as the time for his trial drew near. He wrote to his friends in Philippi and told them, “I really don’t know if I will continue to live on earth, or if I will go to live with Christ, but I do know that to continue to live will be good, but to die will be my gain.” I told the folks that us thinking about death as gain is a bit of a foreign thought, but told them that, like the Apostle Paul, passing into the next life was certainly Jerry’s gain too. I reported that my friend had gained:

1. A new body. He left his tired, sick, old earthly body behind. Upon his entry into Heaven, he was given a glorious new body . . . that will never be sick or wear out! I chuckled and said, “He doesn’t even need his glasses or a hearing aid.” My friend is well!

2. He gained a new home. In John 14 Jesus said he was going to prepare a place for Believers, and that He would come back for them. He came back for Jerry and delivered him to his new home (mansion). The truth of it all is that Heaven is a prepared place . . . for a prepared people. Jerry had been prepared to live with Jesus for eternity. When that preparation was completed, Jesus came back for him!

3. Jerry gained a new song! I paused and asked Betty if Jerry could sing, she said that he could, but not very well. I chuckled and told the folks, “Well he can sing that new song with his new voice, and he sounds really good as he joins in the choir around the The Throne!

Heaven is a wonderful place . . . the Believer’s destination. Paul declared, “Eye hath not seen and ear hath not heard what God has prepared for those who love him.” What a powerful declaration. There is tremendous beauty in our nation (as I stood above Anchorage, Alaska, and looked over Turn-Again Arm of Cook Inlet, with Mt. McKinley in the background, the majesty of it all sucked the breath out of me. Paul said . . . we ain’t seen nothing yet!

As I drove out of town, I saw that the local Sonic had a cool statement on the marquee about my friend. They also had a cool post on Face Book.

We lost a good man, but we will see him again!

It Isn’t Always as it Seems . . .

I recently had new tires put on the black ‘Vette. Prior to heading home, I dropped the top and hit the road. When I hit the open road (light traffic), I decided to let the big dog run. Soon I looked down at the dash and was shocked to see that I was driving 145. As I looked around, it just didn’t seem that, while I was going pretty fast, I was going that fast. As a young dude, I had a cool old hot rod and I thought I was bullet-proof. I actually paid a speeding ticket for 148 mph.

Back to the ‘Vette, as I looked things over, I realized that the dudes in the tire shop had accidental switched the speedometer from MPH over to KpH. Whew . . . I slowed down and drove on home. Can you imagine having to stand before a Justice of the Peace with a citation for driving that rate of speed?

It Seems to Me . . . that I would do well to keep a leash on the big dog.

 

What is it All About?

Over recent weeks, the Senate has been in a semi-confirmation approving process on the new President’s Cabinet nominees, which has proved to be a half-hearted attempt to follow the established protocol. From all accounts, the process has never slower, more embarrassing, more mean-spirited, or more partisan. That word . . . partisan . . . is thrown around Washington D. C. regularly by folks who don’t really know the meaning of the word? Or do they?

The word actually has two meanings, as follows:

1. A member or a party of light, fast-moving irregular groups engaged in harassing and otherwise irritating and confusing the enemy . . . such as a guerrilla band;

2. In politics, a partisan is a committed member of a political party in a multi-party system. The term is used for politicians who strongly support the policies of their own party; and

3. If something is prejudicial toward a particular point of view, you can call it partisan.

The truth of the matter is that many very bright and knowledgeable folks on the outside of the circle have declared the new President’s Cabinet members as being quite exceptional. Very few are viewed as politicians, as they have left the workforce (from high-up positions) to answer the call to serve their country. They are folks who have played leadership roles in their own field, and have done so with distinction. Some say this is quite likely the greatest Cabinet ever assembled. I concur with that assessment. These are folks who will be like those early on in our nation’s history . . . they will go to Washington, do their best to serve their country, and when the task is finished they will return back home, hook up their own mule to their own plow and get back to plowing their very own field. I understand that many of them, in the same manner as the new President, have declined the salary that goes with the position. For them it isn’t about money or bettering themselves.

In the Senate committee hearings, the Democratic Senators have clearly shown that their interest is far from being what is best for the USA. Their interest is clearly more akin to the #1 definition above. Frankly, they are embarrassing with their long-winded, simple-minded speeches, and ignorant questions. They fail to understand that the process was not created in order that the nation could hear from and about them . . . it is supposed to be so that the nation can hear from the Nominee directly. The truth be told, the Rex Tillerson hearing was pitiful. That brilliant man, who knows the nations of the world ten times better any Senator, answered questions for nine straight hours, rapid fire, without pause, without the use of a single note, and did so with considerable grace.

Each Nominee has received the same low-class, low-rent treatment . . . yet each and every one has risen above the questioners and demonstrated why they had been nominated. In fact, the Democrat Senators have even taken to simply not showing up for hearings. I know of no other way of describing it than calling it dereliction of duty.

Perhaps one of the most embarrassing hearings has been that of Betsy De Vos, successful business woman of Michigan. She has served as an advocate of school choice, voucher program, and a member of the Reformed Christian Community. She has been an advocate of the Detroit charter school system. She is also a board member of the Foundation for Excellence in Education. In her committee hearings, she was polite, gracious, and met her examiners heard-on and straight-up. Her answers were often along the lines of “that ought to be a decision left to the local school board and state government.” She clearly understands that Washington and the federal government and its one-size-fits-all approach to education does not work . . . it never has and never will. My wife, Sandy, has a non-traditional classroom full of self-learning, self-paced students who simply cannot function in the traditional classroom. It serves the district well to have this alternate method of learning.

The great economist Friedrich Hayek is the father of Austrian economics, a Nobel Prize winner, and author of The Road to Serfdom. One of his greatest contributions was his work on the use of knowledge in society. His position was both simple and brilliant . . . no one individual has sufficient information to create a budget. That is what the Federal Department of Education and the Democratic, big government advocates simply do not comprehend.

The truth in government, education, or most anything else . . . including businesses, organizations, and Churches is that the top-down method of operation simply does not work. It merely leaves the folks at the most important level confused and frustrated while leaving the folks are the top of the heap feeling smart and important and full of themselves. Rick Warren, in his best-selling book, “The Purpose Driven Life,” wrote in page 1, “It ain’t about you!” What a great message to each of us in everything. The message that needs to be delivered to the obstructionists is . . . American education is not about money, power, politics, or central government . . . it is supposed to be about our kids! It has been well said, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste!”

 

The Woodpecker . . .

Why do woodpeckers peck? They peck for a couple of reasons . . . to find sap in a tree (they are also called sapsuckers) and to find other sources of food . . . wood-boring ants and other pests that lay their eggs in trees, siding, and poles. Further, they also do what is known as drumming in the spring of the year as a means of their courting/mating ritual.

Woodpeckers can actually do considerable damage to buildings and trees, and they are not easily discouraged once they find an area they like. Several years back, I bought an apartment complex that was a foreclosure property in the lender’s inventory. It had been on the auction block a couple of times without any success. It was boarded up, abandoned, and mostly forgotten. I saw it listed on a bulletin board in the lender’s office. I went to look it over and made an offer . . . which was accepted, to my delight.

I scheduled my Architect, Ron Barbutti, to develop a rehabilitation plan and then sent some guys in to get started. There was much work to be done in removing the plywood that had been used to board up the buildings, and the removal of the old water heaters . . . some enterprising rascal had gone in the empty buildings at some point in the foreclosure process and used bolt cutters to remove all of the exposed copper tubing and flex lines. Moreover, the grounds required considerable clean up . . . we actually hauled something like 25 trailer loads of debris to the landfill. All during the clean-up / prep period, the guys got a chuckle over a woodpecker that worked on one of the buildings . . . he showed up several times each day and did his work. The guys made it a bit of a contest to run him off, but had no real success.

One of the major items in the Architect’s scope of the work was removal of the deteriorated siding, and replacing it with a cement fiber board known in the industry as Hardi lap siding. The existing siding was 4′ x 8′ sheets of a cheap particle-board composition which had been hung in the vertical fashion. Removal of the old siding proved to be a rather simple task as it was not very secure. Thus, each building was stripped clean rather quickly. As soon as the removal crew was finished with a side of a building, a second crew began the process of putting the new siding in place. The new siding was 8″ in width, with a 2-inch nail strip, thus leaving a 6″ reveal. Each strip was 12-feet in length, and was nailed up in the horizontal fashion. There was not much cutting required, so it was a rather fast process. The woodpecker did not make an appearance that first day of siding work . . . simply because there was too much activity on the building. However, the next day, he did return and started to do his work, but it was short lived . . . the concrete board was not something he wanted to peck on. Everyone on the job got a chuckle as we listened to him peck a few times, then stop, then try again, and then fly away. Each day he would return to peck for a while on a building that still had the old siding.

Once all of the old siding was replaced, the woodpecker moved on to an area that likely offered better pecking. Sometimes I still chuckle about that woodpecker and wonder whatever became of him.

It Seems to Me . . . that woodpecker’s experience was much like most of our own experiences. We find a good place to do our work, a place with more rewards than resistance, then over a period of time and a change of circumstances, we simply and quite naturally move on to something else. All things considered, it is actually a good thing that we do move on. It is likely a matter of the Lord advancing us . . . and our story.

I am certain that we can get stuck in a rut, and that can serve to interfere with a heathy, meaningful, and productive life . . . which merely becomes an unpleasant existence. Life was never meant to feel like a treadmill where we are busy but going nowhere. The Apostle Paul said, “I haven’t yet attained, but one thing I do is putting the past behind me and moving ahead to the prize set before me.” Philippians 3:13 – (Melton remix).

 

God will call us some stuff . . . on credit!

My Sunday school lesson on Super Bowl Sunday (2/5/17) is from Judges . . . and covers the story of a meek and timid fellow by the name of Gideon. Wait a minute . . . wasn’t Gideon the great warrior God used to deliver His oppressed people? Didn’t he lead a small army of 300 to defeat an overwhelming military force? Yes . . . to both questions, but that was not how Gideon got started.

As the Biblical camera zooms in on Gideon, he is hiding underground in the wine cellar as he thrashes wheat. Thrashing wheat was typical a task performed on a hill top so that the wheat could be tossed into the air so the wind would blow the chaff away as the wheat fell back down. Gideon had abandoned that method and taken his enterprise underground. Why, you might ask? Because it was quickly approaching harvest time and Gideon knew that some uninvited folks, the Midianites, along with other raiding parties, would soon appear to plunder the Jew’s crops and create havoc. Gideon had gone out, harvested some grain, and was preparing it so his family would have some food hidden. As he labored underground, an angel appeared (Judges 6:12), and said, “The Lord is with you, you mighty warrior.” Of course, at that moment in his life, Gideon certainly did not feel like a mighty warrior. Surely, he felt cowardly, weak, and ashamed. He most likely had a sour stomach as he thought about how hard he and his neighbors had worked preparing their fields, the long hours spent tending their crops under the hot sun, and seemingly too weak to defend it from the nomads who were too shiftless to plant and grow their own food supply.

It is a great story . . . Gideon grows in character and develops into a great warrior and humble leader for his people. The truth of Gideon’s story is the truth of many other people’s story. God looked at Gideon that afternoon in the wine cellar, and rather than seeing what he was at that low point, God lovingly saw what Gideon could become through His grace, favor, blessing, and strength! He looked ahead . . . and called Gideon something on credit! He can do the same for each of us today. He knows who we can become if we will permit him to polish us.

Here are a few folks He clearly did that very thing in:

George Washington, the Father of America; Abe Lincoln, as he went against the order of the day and called for an end of slavery; Martin Luther, the great theologian; John Wesley; Martin Luther King, Jr.; and Rev. Billy Graham.

My challenge to you this morning: Consider who you are at this moment in your life . . . and then think about who you are capable of becoming with God’s favor. That is who God is looking at.

Do you know that each of us will one day appear before the Lord to give an account of ourselves? The judgment of that day will not compare me with you or any other person. The comparison will be of who I was, as opposed with who I could have been.