Saturday, May 30, 2009

Needs some sugar

I bought my first watermelon of the season this week. Although you can get them year round now via the local supermarket, they are not grown locally and do not taste as good. And the ones now at the produce stands and markets are not actually grown here, I don't think. I am no expert at fresh produce, but I suspect they would be from south of here. At any rate, this is the time when you typically buy the watermelons. Cut them in half, put them in the refrigerator, and allow to chill. Then pull them out, slice them, and eat. Wow, I can taste it now!

My wife had already bought one last week at the produce stand, so this was not actually our first. It was pretty good. I stopped by the local supermarket yesterday for milk, coke, and bread. I saw the stack of watermelons and happily put one in the cart.

I will confess to you that I have sinned. I did the unthinkable. I bought produce from the supermarket, and not from the produce stand. Trish (wife) thinks you only get fruit and vegetables from the produce stand. When I arrived home yesterday morning I unloaded the milk, coke, and bread. And I cut the watermelon in half. More about my sin in a moment...

Zach, our five year old grandson, was spending the day. He never had a taste for watermelon until this year. As a matter of fact he only discovered last week that he liked watermelons. So he waited with anticipation, as I did, for the watermelon to chill. He announced we would have it for dessert, after lunch. So when lunch came, we made our sandwiches and ate. Zachary announced afterward that he was ready for dessert- watermelon. Happy to oblige, I was ready for a slice, too, figuring it was good, cold, and tasty.

When I cut the watermelon in half I didn't pay too much attention to the color. But when Trish began to cut the slices for me and Zach, she announced that the watermelon wasn't ripe. Taking a bite of mine, I said it was ok. After eating some of it, I told her that she was correct, it wasn't ripe, and wasn't eatable. But I didn't say anything to Zach. I didn't want to disappoint him. He was in the kitchen, and I had whispered to Trish that it wasn't good. But my sin was revealed to Zachary. I had picked a green watermelon.

He came into the living room where I was sitting and announced to me and his maw maw "This watermelon needs some sugar." Zach had hit the nail on the head, so to speak. It needed some sugar. It wasn't sweet.

I know some people like the green watermelon... not sweet. Bitter, mean spirited, selfish, bad attitudes. Rude, unkind. People who are not pleasant to be around. Like my watermelon, they look ok on the outside. But inwardly, their fruit is not pleasant. It may be because of situations they are facing, adjustments they have made. Whatever the reason, one thing is clear- they need some sugar in their lives.

I want to be sweet, not bitter, don't you? I want my life to have the fruit of the spirit, which is always ripe and always sweet. If you pick on or from me, I hope you get some sugar.

Pastor Ronnie

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Stuck in the mud

I had the trailer hitched to the Tahoe, going to do some yard work. A pile of concrete that had been busted up in order to repair the lines going to the swimming pool needed to be moved. My plans were to load them on the trailer and haul them to a gully in the back of the yard. Going around the back in behind the pool, the vehicle began sliding down into the nearby trees. Attempts to get unstuck only made the situation worse. The frequent rains of the last week had made the ground softer than I anticipated. And now it is raining again.

How long it will take to get the Tahoe out of the back yard is still to be determined. As I sit here there is a heavy rain. I am waiting to see if my son is able to get the vehicle out with the pulley on his Jeep. I sort of doubt it. Dwayne has also mentioned getting the fork lift from the family business, about a quarter of a mile down the road. If neither of those proves feasible, I will call a towing service.

It is not a pretty sight. Stuck in the mud. Mud all over the vehicle where my efforts to get unstuck only made matters worse. Carried from the outside to the interior of the vehicle as I got in and out, in and out, trying to rock the truck back and forth. Still stuck, I await.

Have you ever been like my Tahoe? Stuck in a situation in life that it seems you cannot get out of? Stuck in a marriage that isn't working, in a job that is non productive, in a career that doesn't interest you. Stuck with a disease, with fear, with doubt. Stuck in sin, a habit. We can get stuck in all sorts of things can't we? Like the man laid daily at the gate of the temple when Peter and John passed by, we sometimes get stuck at the gate.

Don't know about you, but I want to be unstuck. Gotta get out of the rut, out of the mud. Physically, emotionally, spiritually. And Tahoe-ally :)

The good news is that Jesus delivers us from the stuck ness of our lives. Allow him to free you today!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Kitchen Sink

I am not sure where the expression originated, or exactly sure how it goes. What I remember is "everything but the kitchen sink." From my understanding, the saying implies that the situation is pretty severe. "The devil threw everything but the kitchen sink at them" implied they were under a great onslaught and needed our prayers.

I have known people like that, haven't you? People who endured difficult times of testing. And while mine hasn't been as severe, I have felt the kitchen sink coming at me the last few days. As a matter of fact, it began with the kitchen sink. Or actually, a leaking faucet. It had been leaking for a while, and I decided to fix the problem. Great plumber and jack of all trades that I am, I went into Wal Mart and bought one of those little box of washers that costs a couple of bucks. The problem was, it was the wrong kind of washers.

By the time I figured this out, it was getting late. Wednesday night prayer service would begin shortly, so I decided I would make a trip to Lowe's the next morning to get the correct set of washers. Problem was, that when I put the faucet back as it was, it would not cut off. And my house, which was build in the mid seventies, had no cut off valve for the kitchen sink, so I had to leave the main water supply shut off.

Next day, my wife decides she wants to change the faucets rather than repair. OK by me. Faucets fixed, now on to the next problem... A little late opening my swimming pool, I began the process only to find the motor was locked up. Bought a new motor, only to find when taking the motor off the pool pump, a bolt was rung off. So another trip to the pool supply store for the pump. A grand total of $450 dollars and about two days of running around, getting washers, gaskets, and putting the thing back together. There was still a problem. A leak had developed under the concrete from the pump to the pool. Had to bust up about eight feet of concrete to replace the two water lines going into the pool. Finally, the pool is running. It has rained ever since, and I need to pour new concrete where the old was busted up.

Find out I've got a problem with a leaking hot water heater. In the process of getting it repaired, but I've got another problem. Cleaning around the yard last week, I got into some poison oak. Itching like crazy. Can't stand the discomfort.

How am I doing? Oh yeah, I didn't even mention the church problems, did I? Can't think of them right now, dealin' with my own stuff. It began with the kitchen sink :)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Feeling naked

I am missing a part of me that I have grown so accustomed to that I hardly notice it any more. It is an article I have proudly worn for thirty eight years of marriage. I am speaking of my wedding ring. I took it off today. The moment I did, I felt somewhat naked.

I tried to think of other times through the years I have taken off my ring, but could not think of an instance. And yet, I know I have. I have had several different wedding bands through these years, all from the same wife. She bought the one I now proudly wear probably eight to ten years ago.

My reason for taking off the ring had nothing at all to do with a decision on our part to terminate our marriage. And no, it is not because of an argument we are having. The decision is based entirely on comfort. I had poison oak on my fingers, and the ring is in a place where there is irritation. So for the next few days I will be without the ring.

Walking into Wal Mart today, I became aware of the missing ring. I wondered if anyone noticed I was not wearing it. I thought of what kind of signal it would send. I felt a little naked.

I am thankful for my ring. More importantly, I am thankful for what it represents- a union that is cherished of a marriage that makes me complete. Yes, I am happily married. And missing my ring... and feeling a little naked in the meantime.

Monday, May 25, 2009

A donkey by any other name

Colin Powell has taken to the news talk shows to defend his stance against what he calls the "extreme right" of the Republican Party. While denouncing conservative views, he challenged both former Vice President Dick Cheney and talk show host Rush Limbaugh on their thoughts that he had already left the party. He states that Limbaugh's elitist right wing stance has been the downfall of the party, and encourages it to shift back to the "middle". Powell also states that his decision to vote for and endorse Obama for president had nothing to do with color, as suggested by Limbaugh, but on policies.

I try to avoid making personal statements concerning the political environment of the nation. However, I feel compelled to make this statement. A donkey is a donkey, no matter what you call it. You can call it an elephant if you want, but it is still a donkey.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

God is up to something

I believe the Lord is up to something BIG. I sense an awesome squeeze from heaven of Divine Grace. God is good! I encourage you to get plugged into the presence of the Almighty. The word of God tells us that "in his presence is fullness of joy."

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Breaking up is hard to do

I am old enough to remember the line and the tune to the hit song by Neil Sadaka, "Breaking up is hard to do." The words to a verse... " Don't take your love away from me Don't you leave my heart in misery If you go then I'll be blue Cause breaking up his hard to do." Obviously, it was a love song written from one lover to another who had decided to no longer be so.

Breakups are usually hard, aren't they? The break up of a marriage, the break up of friendships, the break up of partnerships in business or ministry. There are all sorts of splits in the world, and they usually carry some degree of pain. The fact is, we get used to things as they are.

Breakups are not always a bad thing. They represent change, restructure, transition. They are sometimes necessary because we get stuck where we are. We need something new to challenge us. Yes, to go to a new place sometimes requires a new paradigm.

I am in the process of thinking. What can I do to be most effective for the kingdom? What is it that I am doing that is not productive, not beneficial? What areas of my life, if any, need a "break up?" What takes too much of my time, my focus, and my energy?

One of the things for me is the use of the very thing I am at now~ the computer, the internet. It is a valuable resource, but I sometimes abuse my time here. Posting on my blog, facebook, and twitter. Checking what others are saying. Idol chit chat. Yes, it allows me interaction with friends. But I sometimes fail to discipline myself. What if I were to give the time I do to social networking simply to prayer and the word of God? Not that I am not praying and studying, but that would definitely be more time before Him.

I'm just thinking... not saying. But in case you don't see me for a while or if I just go off completely, it's not about you- it's about Him! Not saying I will, but not saying I want...

Breaking up is hard to do-- (but there's got to be less of me, and more of Jesus)

Love and Prayers,
Pastor Ronnie

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Take time to smell the flowers

Zach, my five year old grandson, loves to pick flowers. He will pick from the arrangements my wife has planted in the yard to the little white flowers that grow among the grass. He loves to pick them for his mom and for my wife, his maw maw.

Zachary will pick the flowers and smell them. He will brag on how pretty they are, and then say "Maw maw will love these." His interest in them isn't for himself, but for his intended recipient. Zach realizes God made the beautiful flowers and that his grandmother and mom enjoying them. What he doesn't realize is that even more than the flowers he picks and brings them, they love the fact that he cares enough to want to bless them.

I am afraid that we lose something when we grow up. We lose our excitement with the little things, the simple things. We lose the joy of giving and blessing. We lose the child like anticipation of spreading our love with a flower picked from the garden. We don't take the time to smell or enjoy the flowers.

Watching Zachary today reminded me that I need to take time to smell the flowers. I hope you will do the same.

Vanishing Things

Have you noticed how so many things are vanishing in front of our eyes? Those things we once thought of as absolutes are now on the verge of extinction. Products and services we came to depend on are going the way of the dinosaur.

Yellow Page ads are one of those. Although they will probably continue to be somewhat needed for certain services, the days of looking first in the phone book for most needs has become obsolete. Companies are spending much less of their advertising dollar on the yellow page. The newspaper is another service that is finding it difficult to exist. With instant news and information on the internet, the paper is dated by the time it reaches the stands or the home. Major chains of newspapers have folded, and the local papers have also.

Another thing that is on the downhill slide is email. Use of email addresses is decreasing. The causes can be attributed to several factors. One being the continuing annoyance of spam and unwanted emails. Another factor is the use of texting in cell phones. And yet another is with the merging trend of social networking on sites such as twitter and facebook.

For years we have used the yellow pages as a source of advertising for our church. However, we discontinued the service this year. The high cost of advertising versus the low return it brought us made us decide it was not a viable service in this budget conscious day.

What are some other things you see vanishing in this hour? Give me some feedback.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Fading away to nothing

Spoke with a pastor friend this morning on the phone. He had read my previous blog and was, in a way, congratulating me when he said something like, "from what I read, you're fading away to nothing." Yeah, don't I wish!

I have lost a little weight, but it would probably not be noticeable to anyone other than my wife and mom. This is going to be a long term process, and it will take a while to get to my intended goal. Four years ago I went on a similar weight loss plan and lost 50 pounds in nine months. My problem was that when I reached my goal, I retreated back to the same old choices and bad eating habits. As a result, since that time I have gained 65 pounds, so prior to my decision that is now several weeks old, I was heavier than I've ever been in my life. That, along with some stress, led me to having some health problems. It was a wake up call to me. I am four years older now and not going at it as zealous as before, but I am just as strong in my commitment.

Yeah, I do hope you will be seeing less of me. The fact is, I want that in more ways than one. I want less of the old man, less of the flesh, to show. I want Jesus to shine in my life.

On another note, I get tired of the same layout, and am working on changing my blog. I accidentally deleted some links to friends, and will have to look them up to get them back. I also have several other blogs, and am trying to figure out how to put all of them into one, rather than manage them separately. Hopefully, I will have the changes within a few days.

Y'all be blessed!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Chicken, Cake, and Church

I just hit the twenty pound mark in weight loss. I began a few weeks ago on a journey to better health. It was somewhat a life or death situation, at least in my mind, that pushed me to the point of healthy eating and exercise.

I had planned on beginning a diet on January, but never began. As in the past several years, I hang in there for a week or two and returned back to the old habits. The habits are actually strongholds. You see, my problems relate to three basic areas of my life: Chicken, Cake, and Church.

I love chicken. Let me be more specific. I love fried chicken, with all the things that go with it. Potato salad, macaroni and cheese, green beans cooked in fat back, etc. Sweet tea, southern style, that has a couple of cups of sugar in it. I love to eat. I remember a number of years ago a young man I had asked to preach at the church. I don't remember his sermon, but I remember a phrase he kept repeating. He said, "some people eat to live, my mom lives to eat." It is a good thing his mother wasn't at the service that morning, he probably wouldn't have lived after that. And although I never met his mama, I can identify. I love to eat, and I live to eat.

Secondly, I love cake. Chocolate cake, red velvet cake, any cake you can name. I have never met a cake I didn't like, and for that matter, I have never met a piece of candy I don't like. As with my love for chicken and its accessories, my love for cake is not a healthy choice.

Finally, I love church. I love church more than chicken or cake, or at least I think I do. I love the church because Jesus died for it. I love the fellowship, activities, friends, family, and awesome services of church life. The problem is that when you serve as pastor, church can be challenging. Leadership problems, finance problems, pulls on your attention. Dealing with people problems can be a high stress thing. Many pastors are leaving the pulpit every year. I love the church and couldn't imagine doing anything else, but sometimes it drains me physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And in those times when I am drained, I generally return to numbers one and two- chicken (or food) and cake (or sweets). No, I am not blaming the church for my being fat, but I think it has been a factor in my compulsion to overeat at times.

So I am in the process of change. Change is difficult, but needed. My blood pressure shot up to a dangerous level, and I didn't like the signals my body was sending me. Joined the gym and on a diet. It will be a long term thing, and a lifestyle change that must be kept. I aim to stay at it, and I ask for your prayers for myself and my wife as we pursue this goal in our lives. We're not sure what the Lord has in store for us in the coming days, but we want to be on top of the game.

Not signing off chicken or cake completely, there will be times and places where we will chow down. It just can't be as it was.

Twenty down and forty more to go. One pound at a time, one day at a time. Thanks for your prayers!

Friday, May 15, 2009

It's going to be ok, Johnny

I don't remember when or where I first heard the story. Through the years I have retold it many times, many times without thinking about it in advance. It is the story about a dad and his little boy.

Dad was off work that day and mom needed to do some shopping. It was a beautiful day and daddy decided to take the toddler to the park. Fastening the little one in the swing, dad pushed him back and forth. The little one began to whine, and dad was beginning to panic. A sympathetic mom saw what was going on as the father kept repeating, "its going to be alright Johnny" while pushing the little one in the swing. The neighborly mom came to the side of the little one, looking down, and tried to calm the little one, referring to him as "Johnny". At this, the dad said, "his name is Jason, I'm Johnny."

I'll give you a minute, my joke telling and remembering is not all that strong. But the story line is that dad was encouraging himself. Sometimes you just have to do that. As David did in the bible, when he was up against great difficulty and the men who had stood with him turned against him. When no one else was there to do it, David encouraged himself. To encourage oneself is to take courage, to be strong, to stand. The bible exhorts us to having done all to stand.

We all have times when we face adversity and need encouragement. I am thankful for those moments when the Lord sends a friend along to help. It might be an email, a text on my cell, a call. It might be on facebook or twitter, or another way. I am appreciative of those moments. I just contacted an old friend this week and really didn't know why. I was impressed to encourage them. They related that they were going through a severe time of testing, and the words I shared were very timely.

Walt Mills used to sing a song, "I've got a feeling, everything's going to be alright." We sang it many times back in those years. But the fact is that everything is not going to be alright. Some marriages don't make it. Some people turn on you and leave you. You lost the good paying job, didn't get the promotion. A family member died of a disease. You can become bitter at the events going on in your life.

Yet in spite of all the pain, adversity, and sorrow, you can make it through this. You can survive. God put you here for a reason. I just want to encourage you today to hang in there, hold on. The sun will shine again. I love you and God loves you.

Be blessed!
Pastor Ronnie

Monday, May 11, 2009

Feeling Disconnected?

It began a week or so ago now. I don't remember the exact day as I sit this morning in my office. I canceled my land line phone. With the convenience of cell phones now, and the cost compared, I figured I would save myself fifty bucks a month.

The problems then began. Apparently I was supposed to contact ATT about my decision, as it would effect my DSL. As a result my DSL was disconnected. I immediately called the phone company, and someone on the other end assured my that my internet would be reconnected by the next day at 7 PM. It was not connected at 7 that day, so the next morning I call the phone company again.

Have you ever tried to talk to someone in a large corporation. There are 20 numbers in the phone book to call, and somehow I have dialed the wrong number. I get automated voice after automated voice, until I finally get to speak to a live person. Unfortunately that person speaks English about as well as I speak Spanish... pokito. Blood pressure rising, I assure myself it's going to be alright... another promise. This time it will be connected within 24 hours. Guess what? Yeah, you're getting it, still not connected.

By the time I have called several times and waited expectantly to have internet at home, it is the weekend. So here it is Monday morning, and I am still waiting to be connected. Go to the gym and work out, then come to the office. Make another call, get another person who doesn't speak English clearly. By this time I am ready to make a statement. I tell this person my frustration and that I just want to know when I am going to have my service back. After another 15 -20 minutes of communication, I think by now I have made my point well. Hanging up the phone, the lady says, "Have a blessed day."

Ouch. I understood that one very well. Just what I needed. God, was that a set up? I felt conviction running down my spine. After I had obviously been somewhat to the point...ok, I'll admit it, rude, she hopes I have a blessed day.

The problem was that I felt I had been unfairly disconnected. Have you ever felt that way? Disconnected by those who excluded you? Marriage problems disconnections, relationship problems disconnections. People leave you out of plans. You feel out of the loop. Why don't they invite you out to lunch after church? There are all sorts of disconnections.

We want to be connected, don't we. Connected to a family, to a community, to a church. We need the warm embrace of friends to be there to enjoy life with and to stand with us in times of crisis. I had a call last night from a dear friend. It was good to reconnect.

I hope today you get connected. If you need a connection, just give me a holler. That's southern talk for contact me. If I don't answer you right back, it probably means I am out of my office and not connected yet at home.

I am offering you what the phone operator offered me- Have a Blessed Day!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Dial D for Devil

It has taken me a couple of weeks to get up the nerve to write about the phone call. In case my wife reads this, please look for me buried under the house, or hung up on a nearby phone pole :)

The phone rang and Trish answered. I was in another room, and walked in as the call was going on. It was someone asking for me. Let me preface this by saying that I am a jokester. I will pick on and tease anyone. Some of my best friends are ones whom I tease and pick on, and they do so back to me. Trish is not, by nature, one who does so. She occasionally reels me in if I get to having too much fun. But occasionally she will attempt to joke. She always says she gets in trouble when she does so, it backfires, or someone doesn't know how to take her.

Back to the phone call. Someone was asking for me. They told who they were. It was a former pastor who had some problems and got out of church. I hadn't heard from him in probably 15 years. He told his name. However, Trish thought it was our youth pastor. He is always calling someone and disguising his voice, pretending to be someone else. He and I had been texting prior to the phone call. Trish did not look at the caller ID, she just assumed Scott was pretending to be this person. He knows pretty much everyone, and will pull names out of the hat. So the caller is asking for me. Trish, thinking it is Scott attempting to pull one over on her by stating he is someone else, tells the caller that I am not there.

The person asks if she knows how he might get in touch with me. She answers, "Dial D for Devil."
The caller is perplexed, and in an instant my wife realizes this is not our youth pastor on the other end. Embarrassed, she drops the phone, I pick it up and talk to the caller.

D for Devil? Surely you jest. I am: Mighty man of God, anointed, pastor, leader, teacher, mentor, missionary, writer, blogger. Did I mention singer, guitarist, etc, etc, applause, applause.

But D for Devil can at times be accurate. My attitude at times stinks. There are times when I want to get even. Times when there is too much of me and too little of Christ.

I know my wife was teasing. She loves me and honors me at all times. Trish has never referred to me as a devil. But she knows all about me, my strengths and my weaknesses. Yes, there are some areas I need God to work on.

Want to get to the place where if you want me you dial C for Christ!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Social Networking

I attempt to make connections at every point available. I am on the social networks of facebook and twitter, in addition to this blog site. Facebook allows interaction. The facebook page says "facebook is a great way to connect with friends." I have found it to be a place to connect with family, friends, and church members. I have also met new friends and reconnected with old ones.
It is a format I have used to share the gospel of Christ. Probably 75% of what I share on there is about the Lord.

Twitter is a little different, in that you get 140 letter spaces to make a statement. You can post links to a website or blog, but the main format is the 140 letter statement. Some use it as a resource for selling their product. I use it as a format to share something uplifting and about the Lord. Many of those I follow are believers, and many who follow me are, as well. I do follow some who I have no interest at all. The reason I follow them is their large gathering of followers allows me to reach far more people than I could on my on. When I post something, if they are following me (some will only follow you if you follow them), it will get shared via thousands of people connected. For example, I currently have over 1100 followers. Some of those followers have thousands of followers. The potential is great.

Some pastors are now encouraging their parishioners to use twitter during church services. To share instantly and interact about what they are hearing. I am not ready to do that, but I am encouraging our church family to go beyond themselves.

I posted something last night about sending out a hug to someone. Just a word as simple as saying, Here's a hug for you. Got some feedback. Yeah, it appeared the hug was sent right on time. You never know who you may be blessing and encouraging.

Signing out... here's a hug :)