Following in the Footsteps of My Twin

18 12 2016

Where does this fall on your weird-o-meter? Last week I was doing work for a company in Jackson, Tennessee. Jackson is a small town about halfway between Memphis and Nashville. Because of the distance back to either airport, I planned to complete the work and drive back to a hotel near the airport so I could fly back home the following morning. I chose to fly into Memphis because I knew, from past experience, given the location of the two airports, driving back to the Memphis airport would be much easier.

 

On Tuesday night, my second night in town, I went to what turned out to be a diamond in the rough. It was an Italian restaurant named Baudo’s. Baudo’s isn’t much to look at from the outside, but the food was really good. Anyway, the hostess seated me at a small table off to the side of the dining room. Only seconds after being seated, a perky, young waitress came bebopping out of the kitchen toward me like she had just gotten to work. Actually, she had. I was her first customer. That’s one of the advantages of getting old. You get out to eat early, before the server has been worn down by demanding customers and 500 trips back and forth into the kitchen.

 

“Welcome back!” she said, cheerfully.

 

I told her this was my first time at Baudo’s.

 

“Well there was a guy here last night who sat in this same seat and looked exactly like you. You have a twin.”

 

Okay, there’s nothing unusual about that. I’ve always had people tell me I look like so and so. When I was younger, it was Dan Rather. Then as I got a little older, people told me I looked like Martin Sheen. So, I wasn’t very surprised at this.

 

Then I ordered my dinner…salad with house dressing and veal piccata with mashed potatoes.

 

“That’s exactly what your twin had last night,” she told me.

 

Now, that seemed a little odd but still not that big a deal.

 

The next day, I completed the work and made the two-hour drive to my hotel near the Memphis airport. It was actually in Southaven, Mississippi, about 8 miles south of the airport.

 

Even though I was surrounded by a plethora of restaurants, I decided, for a number of reasons, to stay in and just eat at the hotel restaurant.

 

The waitress was a generation older than the waitress back at Baudo’s, but no less energetic. I forget what they called it, but I ordered a cheeseburger with roasted red bell peppers and onions. About halfway through the burger, which I highly recommend, the waitress came by to check on me.

 

“Is it as good as last night?” she asked.

 

For a second, I wasn’t sure how to respond. Then I told her I hadn’t been there the night before. In fact, I had never been to that hotel before.

 

“Well there was a man here last night, sat right there where you’re sitting and had the exact same thing.”

 

Now that’s a little on the weird side. I was afraid I was going to return home the next day only to have my wife ask me if I enjoyed the back rub she gave me the night before!!





Scammers, Con-Men and Thieves, Oh My!

6 11 2016

In this age of scammers and scumbags, who can you trust? Hardly a day goes by we don’t get a phone call from somedna-1 dip-wad with a heavy Middle Eastern accent calling us right out of the blue to help us fix our supposedly ailing computers, or threaten us with arrest because we supposedly owe the IRS some huge sum. It’s made us wary of anyone who calls. Now, I understand that some readers will think I’m not being politically correct because I mentioned someone with a Middle Eastern accent. Well, first of all, I don’t give a fat rat about political correctness and secondly, I dare those readers to deny the truth. If I hear someone saying he had a hard time finding somewhere to “pok his cah,” I can’t help but notice the accent. And, I’m not thinking he’s from Valdosta, Georgia. No, I’m a little more inclined to think he’s from one of the New England states…probably somewhere between Boston and Bangor. So, when I hear a Middle Eastern accent, I can’t help but think, this thief is from the Middle East.

 

So, have you seen the television commercial for Ancestry DNA in which the guy, or guyette, says something like, “I’ve always told everyone I was of German descent; but, when I got my results from Ancestry DNA, I learned there’s not a single cell of German in me. I’ve just always had a hankering for bratwurst and wiener schnitzel. My ancestry is British Isles, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, South Africa, and 5 percent southern Israel. My ancestry has more varieties than a case of Heinz 57.”

 

Here’s the way it works. You send them 99 bucks and they send you a DNA test kit. You return the kit along with a little bit of your spit and, Voila!!, in 6-8 weeks you get a report back with a pie chart describing your genetic ethnicity. I’m not saying it IS one, but could there be an easier scam? I mean how does the recipient know that the pie chart is the real deal and not something made up by Rajesh Jones sitting at a computer in New Delhi, or some out of work criminal politician in Chappaqua, New York?

 

Ancestry seems to be a reliable company, so it is probably legit; but, then, that’s what grandma thought when she sent Sanjay twenty-five $100 gift cards from Target to pay her debt to the IRS.

 

All I’m saying is beware. Shalom, ya’ll!

 





Imagine!

31 10 2016

At I Corinthians 2:9, we read, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.”

 

I really don’t think we can truly appreciate what lies ahead. God has promised His children a home in His presence and has given us a little insight into what that home will be like. We’ve heard about streets of gold lined with mansions. We read in Scripture there will be no sorrow,  no sickness, and no pain. It’s supposed to be a virtual paradise in His presence. But, I believe it will be beyond anything we can imagine in our finite, mortal minds.

 

I still remember the first time I went to a football game in a stadium under the lights. It was a high school game and I was probably 12 or 13 years old, but I remember stepping into the stadium and a whole new world opened before me. I can still recall the transition as I moved from the darkness of the world outside the stadium into the bright lights within. It was amazing; think of Rudy’s dad (aka Ned Beatty) when he stepped into Notre Dame Stadium for the first time. “This is the most beautiful sight these eyes have ever seen,” he said.

 

The lights shining down on the field that night were so bright they lit up the colors of the uniforms. Everything was so sharp and vivid. And the sound of players colliding was as crisp as the cool night air. I noticed the stadium lights bouncing off of the players’ shiny helmets, and I knew this was something I wanted to be a part of. People could have described it to me, but this was beyond words. No one could have described this scene in a way that would enable me to truly appreciate what I saw as I entered that stadium.

 

I don’t think words can describe what we will see and experience when we enter heaven. I think it will be amazing. It will be beyond anything we can imagine because we live in a world of boundaries and limitations.

 

Ours is a results-oriented existence. You work hard-you get rewarded. We are programmed with worldly expectations. We expect to have to do certain things which we may or may not enjoy-grow old, pay bills, see the doctor, fill the car with gas, suffer pain or sickness, or grieve over a death. These are things that are simply a part of our world. But when we enter the world of God, these things will all be in the past.

 

To stand in God’s presence will be an experience beyond anything we can imagine and I, for one, can’t wait.

 





Hurricane Supplies

9 10 2016

How do you spell “hurricane?” Well it seems that folks around here spell it s-n-o-w. Let me explain.

 

Around these parts if you even mention the word snow, word spreads faster than a cup of coffee through the plumbing.082611-bloom-bread-isle-empty   Before you can say, “Did he say snow tonight?” every loaf of bread and every container of milk has flown off of the shelves. It’s like people think that snow will scare all the cows from ever giving another drop of milk so they have to scarf up all they can before it runs out. When I was a kid, I would envision people sitting around the house during a snow storm eating bread and chugging milk. Why is it they don’t clear the shelves of peanut butter and pimento cheese? What are these snowbound Southerners doing with all that bread and no spreads to put on it? Truth is, no one understands this bread and milk obsession. I guess it’s just a tradition. 020111snow7

 

Hurricane’s A-Comin’

Well, today is the 8th of October so we’re still a couple of months away from snow season;  but, we are still in the hurricane season and Hurricane Matthew is churning his way up the North Carolina coast, dumping a tremendous amount of rain here in the Durham area.

 

This morning, I went to do the grocery shopping. My wife tried to encourage me to wait until tomorrow when the weather is supposed to be nice, but I wanted no part of that. “Why”, she asked, “would you want to go out in this rain?” First, as long as it isn’t cold, I don’t mind the rain. Second, I like to get it done and get the task behind me. Besides, I was thinking the crowds should be light since no one in his or her right mind would go out in this weather. They’ll all put off shopping until tomorrow when the sun will be shining, I thought. I know… I know…but, I never claimed to be in my right mind.  I figured, I would pretty much have the store aisles to myself and my pick of checkout lanes.  Well, when I first got there it wasn’t too bad; but, as I was shopping, I began to notice the crowd size increasing. And they didn’t seem like your normal Saturday shoppers. There weren’t any couponers with their volumes of coupons stretched out across the carts. Also, I was able to discern several foreign accents… Boston, Brooklyn and a few I didn’t recognize. People, Yankees and Southerners alike, seemed to just wander the aisles like zombies wondering, where’s the milk. Many didn’t seem to belong there. By the time I got to the milk case, there were only a handful of milk containers left. What…did someone say snow?

 

I got through checkout and made my way toward the door only to come up behind a crowd too afraid to step out into 17dce653ed1b9d819fa1c160c05f0494the rain. They were just crowding inside the door and I had to fight my way through. Come on, folks. It’s just a little water. If you didn’t want to get wet then why did you come to the store in the middle of a hurricane in the first place? Oh, I know…to get your milk and bread. I will admit it was raining much harder than when I first got there, so I just excused myself past the crowd and back stroked my way to the car, along with my bread and milk. 

 





Sometimes, You Just Gotta Believe!

6 09 2016

Why do so many people have such a difficult time believing there is a God who loves them and has provided a path to eternal life?

 

We have no doubt that thousands of people died on September 11, 2001 because we saw it happen. Though many of us were not born at the time, we know for sure that the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 because we have photographic proof, along with the eyewitness accounts of many who were there. The historical record is replete with factual stories from centuries past which can be supported by physical evidence found throughout the world. But the more distant in time, the greater the lack of physical and written evidence to support the events; and, thus, the harder it is for us to visualize, and in many cases accept the occurrences as fact. This is especially true when the events involve great miracles such as Creation or the parting of the Red Sea. Unfortunately, Adam had no laptop on which to keep a diary.

 

The truth is, God wants us to believe, but He wants us to believe by faith. Faith is the foundation on which a relationship with God is built. Like a house…no foundation, no house. No faith, no relationship with God. Anyone can see an event and know it happened; but, God wants us to rely on His word and that requires faith. In 1 Peter 1:8-9, we read, “Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

 

Let’s look at it in this way:

Seeing is Believing

Scene: The heavily modified DeLorean, with its gull-wing doors and flux capacitor powered circuitry, suddenly appears in the driveway at 9303 Roslyndale Avenue located at the heart of Lyon Estates in the suburbs of Hill Valley, California. The driver’s side door swings upward as a combination of smoke and vapor rise from the frost covered machine. Out jumps its driver, world-renowned time traveler and scientist, Dr. Emmett Brown.

 

“Marty! Marty! Shouts Dr. Brown, running up to the diminutive Marty McFly, who is sitting on his porch swing.

 

“Hi, Doc. What’s up?”

 

“Marty, you won’t believe what I’ve just seen!” Doc exclaimed in animated excitement.

 

“Whoa, whoa, Doc, slow down. You’re gonna pop a vein. Where did you go this time?”

 

“Marty, it’s amazing. It’s the most amazing thing that’s ever happened to me. It’s even more amazing than when I fell off of my toilet and visualized the flux capacitor.”

 

“Okay. Slow down, Doc, and tell me what’s so amazing.”

 

“Marty,” Doc continued, still obviously excited, “you know I’m a man of science. I believe only what I can see, touch, or hypothesize, based entirely on scientific principles. Ever since I got my first PhD at 16, my philosophy has always been, if it can’t be proven or supported by the laws of physics, then it isn’t possible. When I was a boy growing up in Marion, Ohio, my parents attended church every Sunday. And, try as they might, ever since I reached pubescence, I refused to go with them. I always declined to engage in the church of the self-righteous. People would go to church and preach to me about being a sinful and evil person.  Then they, themselves, would do sinful and evil things; so, I rejected the notion that there is, or ever has been, a God who could create an entire universe. I thought, if this so- called God is real, then why doesn’t He show Himself? Why can’t I see Him or any evidence that He truly exists?”

 

“Marty, I thought the stories I heard from my parents were preposterous. As a man of science, I found the notion of the first man created from the dirt to be ludicrous. It simply wasn’t logical. The notion of a flood severe enough to cover the entire world was merely a fable. And so many other stories…a man named Jesus who could bring the dead back to life; the parting of the Red Sea and then closure of the sea to kill the Egyptian army. Jesus, Himself, rising from death after He had been crucified. These stories were impossible for me to believe because of my stubborn refusal to open my mind to the possibility that a real and living God could exist…a God who created the laws of physics and had the power to do anything. Well, Marty, I’ve been there. I’ve seen it and I’m here to say, not only are the stories true, but I am, now, a believer and have become a disciple of Christ. I now know He is real! To put it in your own vernacular, Marty, this is heavy.”

 

“Wait a minute, Doc. Do you mean to tell me you went back to the days of Adam and Eve, and Moses and Noah, and you saw all these things happen?”

 

Great Scott!

“Yes, Marty. Not only did I see them, I sat down and shared a meal of dates and berries with Adam and Eve. I stood near the cross at Golgotha and saw the sky grow dark at the moment Jesus died. I walked into the empty tomb after Jesus had already risen. I attended the wedding where Jesus turned water to wine and actually drank some of the wine! I ate the mana that fell from the sky to feed the Israelites in the desert. Great Scott, Marty, He’s real! He’s real and all the stories in the Bible are true. How could I have been such a fool?”

 

We don’t have a time machine, so going back in time to meet Jesus is not an option. But, if our faith is strong, we can meet Him in the here and now. God’s Word is timeless. Remember Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” And, Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”





God’s Perfect Plan

11 07 2016

Maybe this would have been more timely as a Christmastime post; but, then I thought, what the heck…God is every day…not just on Sunday and not just at Christmas. Besides, if I don’t write it down the moment a thought comes to me, then in 3 seconds, it’s forgotten!

 

Like Tumblers in a Lock 

As the locksmith rotated the dial on the safe door, first right, then left, and then right again, each tumbler fell perfectly into place at precisely the right moment until the last one dropped and the door swung open. God has a plan and it’s amazing to watch each piece fall into place like the tumblers in a lock. 

 

Several times this past week, I have thought back to the last post, Migdal Eder, and realized how all the pieces to God’s plan, as always, just fell right into place like the tumblers in a lock. It made me think of Joseph and Mary’s arrival into Bethlehem. As nothing seemed to go their way, Joseph and Mary probably were unaware that everything was actually going according to plan-not their plan, but God’s. They were a poor, young couple; otherwise, no different from you and me. They rejoiced when things went well and despaired when it seemed the world was against them.

 

Here is how I see things going on the night Jesus was born. baby-jesus-christmas-nativity-wallpapers-1024x768

 

No Room at the Inn

Mary sat out front on the donkey as Joseph went inside to get them a room at the only hotel in town. No doubt, Joseph was distraught when he was told by the innkeeper there was no room available for him and his very pregnant wife. Even when he played the pregnant wife card, the innkeeper reiterated there was no room. 

 

“Sorry, sir, but you know everyone’s in town for this census thing and we’re completely full. I even have a goat and two camel jockeys sleeping on the floor in my room. We’re packed in here like a pimento in an olive. Tell ya what, my cousin, Farrad, has a farm just on the outskirts of town and he has a cave where he feeds his animals. If ya don’t mind put’n up with a few farm animals, you might check it out. Farrad’s place is out Old Jerusalem Road about a half-mile past Daniel’s Deli.”  

 

Joseph goes back out to where Mary sits atop the donkey. “There’s no room here.” he told Mary. “I told you we should have left home sooner so we could have arrived over the weekend.” 

 

They could have arrived in the middle of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade; but, they still wouldn’t have found anywhere to bed down, because giving birth in a cave was part of God’s plan. Proclaiming the great event to lowly shepherds, so they could make it public, was also part of God’s plan.

 

Born in a Stable

Why? Why would God have Jesus, His Son, born in a stable and placed in an animal feeding trough instead of a palace or a fancy, high-dollar hotel? Why would He have shepherds, the lowest rung on the chain of humanity, spread the news of Jesus’ arrival? 

 

The reason is because Jesus wasn’t sent to attend only to the rich and famous. Jesus was, and is, for all humanity. Had He been born in a palace to rich parents, then the majority of the world’s population, who, like Mary and Joseph, were poor, would have had the feeling they were alienated from the promised Messiah. They would have felt Jesus was for the rich and he didn’t care about them. Paul wrote in his second letter to the church at Corinth, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9) 

 

As for the shepherds, who better to bring the Good News to the poor than one of their own? They were poor but hard-working people who were unaware they were playing a key role in God’s plan to save all mankind from eternal damnation. And, because of their experience assuring sacrificial sheep were protected from any harm, they readily recognized that the child they saw in a manger that night, swaddled in a protective cocoon of cloth, much like a sacrificial lamb, was the Son of God.

 

God is in Control

Think of your own circumstances. What placed you where you are today? What made you who you are? We are, certainly, the product of our own environment; but, I believe that environment, and as a result, our individual circumstances, is all a part of God’s plan which is far too complex for mortal understanding. I know in my heart, I have God to thank for bringing the Mathews family to Wilson where I would meet, court and eventually marry the first-born child of Pete and Elizabeth Mathews. Results of the choices we make are still a result of those circumstances which were created by other circumstances, often beyond our own doing.

 

God is in control and His plan is still coming together. The tumblers are still falling.

"I love it when a plan comes together!"

“I love it when a plan comes together!”

 

In the words of the unflappable Hannibal Smith, “Gee, I love it when a plan comes together.”   

 





Migdal Eder: The Watchtower of the Flock

5 07 2016

I find it astonishing that with all the sermons I’ve heard, all of the Sunday school lessons I’ve sat through, and all of the Bible study I have done over the years, it took me this long to learn about Migdal Eder.  

 

First of all, let me give credit where credit is due. For my most recent birthday, I had requested, and was given, a copy of UNLOCKING the SECRETS of the FEASTS: The Prophecies in the Feasts of Leviticus, by Michael Norten. In this book, which I highly recommend, Norten speaks of hearing a presentation by Jimmy DeYoung, PhD., in which Dr. DeYoung asks the audience what was “the sign” mentioned in Luke 2:12. 

 

You will recall, the angel who heralded Christ’s birth said to the shepherds,For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” What did the angel mean when he said “the sign to you?” As many times as I have read that passage, I’ve never stopped to consider that statement.

 

The Prophesy of Micah

Around 700 years earlier, Micah prophesied the Savior would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). Well, just ahead of that prophesy at Micah 4:8, he said: 

“And you, O tower of the flock, The stronghold of the daughter of Zion, To you shall it come, Even the former dominion shall come, The kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem.”

Migdal Eder:The Watchtower of the Flock

Migdal Eder:The Watchtower of the Flock

 

This tower of the flock, translated, Migdal Eder, was located about a mile outside of Bethlehem overlooking the pastures where shepherds would graze their flocks. The shepherds could stand on the top floor of the tower and keep an eye on the grazing flocks. The flock, on the night Jesus was born, was no ordinary flock and the shepherds were no run-of-the-mill shepherds. These were sheep which would one day be sacrificed at the Temple. Remember, before Jesus’ arrival, one would symbolically pass his or her sins on to a sacrificial animal, often a sheep, which would then be sacrificed on the Temple altar. Any animal which was offered as a sacrifice had to be without blemish…no markings, no deformities. It had to be perfect. For that reason, the sheep intended for sacrifice were given special care by special shepherds.

 

When a ewe was about to give birth, she was brought from the pasture into the lower floor of the tower and attended by a priest or shepherd-priest. When the lamb was born, it would immediately be swaddled in strips of cloth, possibly torn from the priests’ undergarments. This unblemished lamb, destined for sacrifice to atone for sins, was swaddled in order to protect it from harm and remain unblemished. And, to prevent it from being trampled, it would be placed in a manger. Sound familiar? 

 

That was the sign! It was a sign to the shepherds just as the angel had proclaimed. When the shepherds, who were familiar with this practice, saw the swaddled baby Jesus lying in a manger, they knew right away this was the sacrificial lamb-the long-awaited Messiah. 

 

In the words of the late Paul Harvey, “Now you know the rest of the story.”