I’m back from 3 days at Tres Dias

Tres Dias…Spanish for three days. That’s how long I spent near Lake Lavon for a men’s retreat.

This event had a lot going against it for me.

About the worst thing you can do to an introvert is plunk him down amidst 150 guys he doesn’t know. Let’s see how long before he comes out of his shell this time. Gulp!

Another thing this country bumpkin didn’t appreciate is being next to a lake with no time to enjoy the nature of the setting. We hardly had enough time to use the restrooms let alone time of solitude.

And whose idea was it to use a liturgical theme for this event? This free spirit appreciates more spontaneous prayers and such. Why did we have to recite from page 14 of that little book again…and again?

Don’t even get me started about that silly chicken song they made us sing before we could eat a meal.

Does that drummer really have to break my eardrums on every other beat?

Why are so many men discourteous about others when it comes time to go to bed? Can’t those loud conversations wait until daylight…please?

The tradition of this retreat began a long time ago in Spain. That silly chicken song came about while a broken down bus was awaiting a repair returning from one of these retreats. There were originally 99 verses to it. We only had to sing three of them. I guess they were broken down a very long time.

When I remembered the church I’m a member of supports at least three sets of missionaries to Spain I realized this world has sure changed.

The main thing this retreat had going for it is it’s a Christian retreat. As long as they’re honoring God and trying to get us to focus on Him I can put up with some discomfort.

Symbolism was huge here. I appreciated that, too. We don’t use enough of that in this country in my opinion.

One of the first things they did was offer us a white handkerchief to use as a surrender flag if we declared our surrender to God for control of our life. I had mine conspicuously hanging out of my pocket for the entire event.

At one point they gave us a small piece of thin paper and told us to write down the name of someone we needed to forgive or something we needed to forgive someone for. I wrote my ex-wife’s name down.

That evening they gave us time to write down on other slips any sins we wanted to confess and/or something that we desired to give up.

When we finished they had us fold the papers and nail them to a cross, literally. By the time we were done that cross was covered in nails and bits of paper…until they set it on fire.

In a matter of a couple of seconds the things we wrote down were burnt up. We were told we can now let those things go from our lives.

Saturday evening was extremely special. They treated us to a fabulous meal. Then, as someone prayed they snuck a few dozen women in around us. They began singing when we opened our eyes.

My sponsor, Marcia, was one of the first women I saw…before my eyes got too wet to see anybody. I was immediately missing Barb all over again. Not because Barb could sing, but because this was something I wish I could have shared with her.

The other time I cried was when they brought us into the chapel after a talk on prayer. They had some of the cha’s (Christ’s Hands in Action) praying for the speaker there. They explained that they do this with each of the speakers. Then they showed us the papers on the wall that listed the names of folks from all over who signed up to pray for us during this retreat.

They hadn’t given my 100 Prayers of a Writer book out yet. So I couldn’t let anyone know why that spoke to me so profoundly.

Other than my book being given out to everyone there I didn’t know what to expect at this retreat.

The first surprise was when I discovered I was a candidate. Candidate for what I didn’t know. I thought the election was over.

I learned that this was the first step to being able to lead this retreat in the future. Marcia’s son was the rector for this particular retreat. It takes serving at several retreats over many years to get there. I would have been extremely elderly by the time I got there.

I may go back next week on Saturday evening to sing to the women who will be there to repay the favor that was bestowed on me. Other than that I’ll wait on God’s leading about whether to go back to help with other such retreats.

I mentioned cha’s earlier. That’s the first round of entry into this “club.” Many of them actually carried our trays to the tables for our meals. Some of them spent most of their time there praying for us. A few were assigned to kitchen duty.

While I appreciate the ideology behind this it just isn’t quite my cup of tea, I guess.

At my first meal I sat across from a guy who has been divorced slightly longer than me. He lives in Frisco. I got his number so we can connect in the future. I guess God had a reason for me to come out of my shell quickly.

Marcia hoped I could get to know her grandson while we were there. We were both assigned to the same discussion table for the event.

Another guy at the table gave me his number and invited me to call him whenever I need to talk. I told him there’s a good chance I’ll take him up on his offer.

While I missed four days of potential work and a Sunday of worshiping at my home church I’d say the time was well spent for me.

I’ll be keeping my spiritual eyes open to anyone who I feel will be a good fit for this type of retreat.

At least six guys committed their lives to Christ and a couple dozen others re-committed their’s so it’s working to build the kingdom.

De Colores, mi amigos.

Keep smiling.   Wade

HARD LESSONS

Samuel walked across the courtyard to rest under a Tamarisk tree. He stopped when he heard God’s voice.

“About this time tomorrow Israel’s first king will come to you. He’s from Benjamin. Anoint him so he will save My people from the Philistines. This is what My people want.”

The next day Samuel sat in the gate of the city watching folks coming and going. The tall man sauntering up the hill caught his attention. God’s voice was clear.

“This is the man I told you about. Anoint him as king before you send him away.”

Saul approached. He bent down to speak to Samuel. “Can you tell me where the seer’s house is? I must inquire of him.”

Samuel smiled. “I’m the seer. Wait for me in the high place. You shall eat with me today. Tomorrow I will send you home. Don’t worry about your father’s donkeys. They found their way back. I am privileged to meet with you today.”

Saul stood up. “Why? I’m from the little tribe of Benjamin. My family history isn’t impressive.”.

********

A few years later Samuel again heard God’s voice. “I regret making Saul the king. He has failed to carry out my commands.”

Samuel fell to his knees. “I warned the people about such things happening. They wouldn’t listen to me at all. How can we keep from losing Your favor, Lord? What must we do to correct this iniquity?”

The questions and beseeching continued through the night with no response from God.

In the morning Samuel set out to confront Saul.

********

A while later God again spoke to Samuel. “How long will you grieve over Saul’s failures? Fill your horn with oil and travel to Bethlehem. I have selected a son of Jesse to rule My people.”

Samuel looked up. “But, how shall I go without Saul finding out? If he knows what I’m there for he’ll kill me.”

“Take a heifer to sacrifice. Invite everyone to come, especially Jesse. I’ll tell you which son I choose.”

********

Samuel led the heifer to Bethlehem. When he came to the gate the elders approached him. “Do you come peaceably?”

Samuel nodded. “Yes. I have come to sacrifice here.”

“Very well. We are pleased you have come.”

Samuel scanned the group. “Which of you is Jesse?”

A man stepped forward. “I am Jesse.”

“Bring your sons to the feast. I must see your sons.”

As the crowd gathered Jesse brought his sons to the prophet.

Samuel smiled as the eldest son came to him. His thoughts took over. This one will be a good king. I can see the leadership oozing out of him

God’s voice broke through. “No. Don’t look at his outside appearance. I know his heart. He isn’t the one for this role. I will tell you which one has the best heart.”

After the seventh son walked past Samuel scanned the crowd behind him. He looked at Jesse. “Is this all of your sons? God has not spoken to me about either of them.”

Jesse pointed to a distant hillside. “There’s still David. He’s watching the flock over there.”

Samuel folded his arms. “Bring him here. We will not sit until he comes.”

Jesse grabbed the arm of one of the servants. “Go. Send David here at once.”

Everyone watched the servant run across the valley. He talked to David. David came running to them. The sheep tried to keep up with him. The servant threw his arms in the air.

When David came into town the crowd separated in front of him. He fell to his knees to catch his breath. “What do you need me for?”

The sight of a gray-haired man dressed in linen appeared after the brothers stepped back.

Samuel smiled when he heard God’s voice. “Anoint him. He is My choice.”

Samuel removed the stop from the horn in his hand.

David was still breathing hard as the oil saturated his scalp and fine beard. He cupped his hands together to catch the liquid. It flowed over his fingers onto the ground.

************

The selection of a king is a mighty undertaking. Especially when you’re responsible for finding the best man for the job to lead God’s people.

I’m pretty sure Samuel felt like a failure when Saul committed one blunder after another once he gained the throne.

He shouldn’t have. I say that because he was simply following God’s leading in choosing Saul as Israel’s first king.

Samuel had a unique line of communication open to God that nobody else had at that time.

We now have that available to us as believers in Jesus Christ. It’s called prayer.

Samuel’s prayer life was different from ours because God dealt with people differently then.

In the history of mankind God had never chosen a race of people to be His chosen nation.

God chose to speak to Samuel to carry out His plans.

Today God works through people of every nation because of the all-encompassing work accomplished by Jesus on the cross and beyond the grave.

God recorded the methods He used in the past to help us shape the future.

By seeing the big picture of each life lived out in the Bible we know how each person succeeded and failed.

Now that the Holy Spirit indwells every believer God can guide us in the decisions we make.

Our relationship with God is developed by reading the Bible to learn more about God. Our prayers open our hearts to talk to God about our hurts, pains and problems. As our dependence grows so will our influence and impact.

Your eternity with God doesn’t begin when you reach heaven after you die.

God wants to build you into a better person who loves and lives like His Son, Jesus.

Saul’s failures would continue. They would help shape David into Israel’s mightiest king.

Your failures will continue, too.

Will you let them defeat you?

Or will you let them build you into a person God can use?

I’ll see you later.   Wade

Is Anybody Else Under Attack…or is it Just Me?

My crazy life has been some kind of crazy on steroids lately. March and the early part of April were a bit slow. I’ve been needing that to get caught up from the Christmas rush that lasted into February.

But, last week was one I’d rather not repeat any time soon.

I volunteered to help with some Easter preparations at church. That was fun on Saturday.

Then I woke up on Sunday morning as usual at 6:20 am. There was a meeting scheduled that afternoon so I didn’t get that nap I really should have taken then.

Sunday evening I headed north to Tulsa, OK. The trip up was fairly smooth, mostly because it was during the dead of night.

Monday’s return trip was another story. The closer I got to Dallas the heavier the traffic got.

By the time I got on the Central “Expressway” traffic came to a standstill. Made me wonder who names these roads anyway?

Fortunately I’m legally allowed to go over my 14 hour work limit once a week. I used it up on Monday and prayed for a productive rest of my week.

I was close to the thirty hours awake mark when I left work and headed home. About halfway there that little noise Clifford started complaining about got very loud just before it went quiet.

When the steering of my van got difficult I was pretty sure what happened. One of the pulleys for the serpentine belt gave up the ghost.

I limped the old van into a car parts store parking lot and popped open the hood.

Keep in mind Clifford is 17 years old. That about 97 in human years.

The pulley in question was on top so it was easy to reach. The weather was warm and dry, not my usual working conditions for a breakdown.

The first thing I did was go inside to make sure they carried said part for my elderly vehicle. They did. I bought one right then and there.

After I got the old part off I discovered the center piece needed to be separated from the pulley. Since they’re designed to fit very tightly I knew this would be a challenge getting them apart.

I thinks to myself…if these guys have some way to get these apart with a nifty tool they may have pity on me and help a feller with an elderly van out.

The guy in the white shirt at the counter looks at my dilemma for a few seconds before he heads to the shop and shows it to his tech…what used to be known as a mechanic back when Clifford was young.

The white-shirt fella walks back in and hands me the part back. “It’s all one piece. You have to buy the right part.”

It was at that moment I was definitely glad I decided to fix this myself. Perhaps if they had mechanics on duty I would have been better off.

I picked up a chisel and hammer and worked methodically on those two pieces until they indeed separated.

I spent about as much time attempting to show the white-shirted nit-wit the two thingies in my hand, but he stealthily avoided me.

I put the new pulley on then tried to route the new belt through the entire series of pulley thingies. It was too long.

If I had been awake I probably would have said something I would have later regretted.

I looked all over Clifford’s hood area for a diagram of how this contraption was supposed to go back together. Nothing.

After returning the useless belt I showed the back counter guy that it was longer than the old belt. He gave me my money back.

I walked a half block away to the next car parts store. Not my usual luck with a breakdown. Their belt was too long, too.

I popped Clifford’s hood back up and searched more diligently. There that pesky diagram was…right under those two water hoses running over the radiator. Finally, something worked out as it usually does during a breakdown…I wasted time looking for something too obvious.

So, the nit-wit working on my van goes back in and re-buys that belt that was too long.

After a day and a half I was able to go back to sleep.

Fast forward to Tuesday night. I’m driving back from Houston. It’s pitch black out. I catch a glimpse of something off to my right just before the loudest sound I’ve ever heard while driving a big rig.

I expect to see the windshield in cubes. It isn’t. I look to the right side of the glass and discover an egg struck me just above the wiper.

I quickly review my memory banks for where I was just before this incident..no bridge for that to fall off from…no vehicles carrying chickens right in front of me.

So then I surmise some guesses. It could have been the Easter bunny practicing throwing eggs to speed up his hiding efforts…or mayhaps he wanted that carrot I was eating at the time…or it could have been juvenile delinquents having “fun.”

I decided that since I could see to drive I’d keep going without attempting to smear it off with that strip of rubber just below the point of impact.

I drove about a half an hour to the next truck stop. One fuel island is actually open…not my usual luck when I pull in for fuel. I attempt to get some paper towel from the denspenser on the post…nothing. I step over to the next one…paper towels come out for five movements of the little handle pointing out at me…I’m at the end of the roll.

Twelve inches of paper towel will have to be enough. I don’t have 14 hours to invest in correcting some idiots’ fun.

Jesus warned me each day would have troubles of its own. He didn’t promised me they wouldn’t come stacked on top of one another, too.

It’s all working together for good…somehow. The Bible promises me that much…not that it will make sense in this life.

By the time I get to heaven it won’t matter anyhow, so come quickly Lord Jesus…before the next egg is hard boiled.

Please.

Keep smiling.   Wade

GIVE US A KING

Samuel watched a group of gray-haired men walking up the hill. “What do you need help with today?”

One of the men stepped forward. “Your sons are not like you. They judge loosely.”

Samuel tilted his head. “What do you mean by that comment?”

Another man pushed the first man aside. “I had a case come to them about a property dispute I had with my neighbor. They met with him in a tight group before the judgement. I know I heard coins and laughter. I lost half a field that day.”

The first man placed his hand on the man’s shoulder. “I had a similar thing happen to me. They must not lead us after you die. The nation will crumble under men like that.”

Samuel sat back and stroked his beard. “And just what do you suggest be done about the situation? The Lord has not directed me to anything else.”

Three men pushed past the first two. “We want a king.”

“Israel should be like the nations around us.”

“A king will be able to lead us into battle. The Lord is too unpredictable. How do we know what He wants from us? A king is what we need. I tell you!”

Samuel shook his head as he stood. “No. No! This thing is not good. The Lord has been our defense. Only He can win wars and defeat enemies. A king will bring too much pain to everybody.”

The first man stood in front of Samuel. “If you don’t find us a king we’ll get one ourselves.”

Samuel fell back in his chair. “I shall pray and seek the Lord’s guidance on this matter.”

********

Samuel walked into the temple and fell before the ark of the covenant. “Lord, what is happening? How did I fail to pass Your importance on to my sons? A king is not good. He will be as corrupt as anybody. All we need is You, Lord.”

God’s voice was clear. ” Listen to the people. It’s not you they’re rejecting, but Me. They’ve been doing it since they left Egypt. I will tell you who to make the king, but you must warn them about what a king will do.”

********

Samuel walked back out to the men. “A king will bring you much hardship. He’ll take your sons to fight his battles, even if they don’t want to fight. Some of your daughters will serve him as well. They may become his concubines. Your flocks, crops and fields will be confiscated, too. When you cry out to the Lord then He will turn away from you.”

The first man stepped forward. “Give us a king like everybody else.”

Samuel swallowed. “Very well, go home. God will lead me to the man of His choosing.”

************

This was a massive turning point in the young nation of Israel’s history. They began with a promise to Abraham. The Egyptian captivity isolated them to grow into a distinct race of people over a 400 year time period.

Dependence on an invisible god was their distinction alone.

There’s a story of a little girl who was afraid of a storm blowing outside as she went to bed. Her parents did their best to calm her fears by spending time with her in her room.

Since the girl had recently accepted Jesus as her savior they told her that Jesus would be with her during the storm. She nodded so they went to their room to get some much needed sleep.

A few minutes later the girl yelled down the hallway. “But, I need somebody with skin on.”

We’re so much like that little girl. We know God is powerful and kind and loving, but sometimes we need a human touch. A physical hug does more to calm us than a promise in a book.

I’m not down playing our need to depend on God in our lives. We need that more than anything.

But, God made us physical beings in a physical world for a reason.

He wants us to reach out to hurting souls desperate for a touch of love.

He uses us to rescue those trapped in addictions and/or bad situations.

He guides us to guide young lives in need of direction for their lives.

Israel’s best king was called “a man after God’s own heart.” Too bad very few leaders try to be that style of leader.

The young nation of Israel struggled under the direction of this God who spoke to only a few select people. They wanted a king to lead them. A man who would tell them what to do. Somebody with skin on is who they wanted to give their allegiance to.

Most people are followers. They want somebody to tell them how to vote, where to work, what to do and so on. As long as they bring in enough money to pay their bills they’re content to sit back and be entertained.

A king seemed like the best solution to the dilemma. God recognized the rejection of Him they were actually doing. He planned for this moment before they ever left Egypt.

In Deuteronomy 17:14-20 God told Moses how these kings should rule. Yeah, before the people ever reached the promised land God knew they would demand a king.

He knows our hearts.

He is well acquainted with our stubbornness.

Our decisions don’t surprise Him.

Where have you rejected God’s rule in your life? I hope it’s not all of it.

What demands have you given God about how to run things? Remember who is in charge.

How have you tried to twist things to fit in your agenda? Release those reins today.

Not all leaders are bad. Some are actually benevolent.

Sometimes we need to take action to rectify a situation.

God needs us to step in to change things occasionally.

So, how do we know how and when God needs us?

That’s why God wrote the Bible for us.

It’s our guidebook to live by.

Let’s use it that way.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

Is it high-purr-bowl-ee or Hyperbole?

Jesus was a master jokester in my book. He was in His book, too. Let me explain…

We’re working our way through the book of Matthew in our church, Yeah, there are still churches that teach from the Bible. Especially the one where Chuck Swindoll is the senior pastor.

We just covered the end of chapter 19 this week. The story of the rich young ruler was covered last week.

I know…I know, it’s all the same chapter, but when you need to make too many points for your listeners you break it down into more bite-sized pieces…especially when Chuck Swindoll is the senior pastor.

For a refresher for those of you who haven’t read that section of scripture in a while…or a fresher for those of you who ain’t never read it, yet.

That rich young punk ruler kid comes to Jesus and asks Him what he must DO to get into heaven.

Jesus lists off some of the the commandments.

The kids checks them off as Jesus lists them. “Okay, got it! I’m good to go then.”

Jesus knew this guy wasn’t being totally truthful when he said he ain’t never lied…especially when he just said he never lied just now.

Then Jesus turns this kid’s world upside-down by telling him he has to sell off all of his do dads in order to see His Dad.

The guy was watching his toes as he walked away.

If Jesus wasn’t making such a serious point His next statement would have been hilarious.

Yeah, the camel going through the eye of a needle hyperbole. Remember, with God all things are possible. Even large animals squeezing through a tiny space.

It’s not that rich folks can’t get into heaven. The point is that it’s more difficult for them cuz they trust their own success too much to trust that they need to trust anybody else for nuthin’.

Trust me…there’s a point there somewhere.

Jesus later explained that the road into heaven is on the straight and narrow way. Apparently it’s so narrow we all have to squeeze through the eye of a needle.

Don’t worry…with God all things are possible. Don’t keep forgetting that one point and your life will make much more sense.

Apparently Jesus fit through the keyhole of a locked door to see the disciples after His resurrection so just chill. God has this covered. Trust Him!

Since a hyperbole is an exaggeration to make a point, not to be taken literally, don’t sweat too many details here.

Like I said, God’s got this. He has all your other problems under control, too…even those imaginary ones.

Yep…I’m back to that trust thing again.

Worry is you taking control of things you don’t need to have in the first place.

Trust is you giving God control of everything in your life…and the things in other folks’ lives, too, while we’re at it.

That rich young punk kid thought he had everything under his control, too.

Just remember, you don’t call the shots. God does.

Don’t keep forgetting that one point and your life will be better in the long run…all the way to eternity.

Keep smiling.   Wade

FIRST ASSIGNMENT

Samuel laid back in bed. The torch was still burning in the tabernacle. That was his assignment each night…keep God’s light burning.

“Samuel.”

He sat up and ran to Eli’s chamber. “What is it?”

Eli rolled over to face the youngster. “What do you want, Samuel?”

“You called for me. I want to know what you need.”

Eli sighed. “I didn’t say anything. I’m trying to sleep. Go back to bed.”

Samuel returned to his position in the tabernacle.

“Samuel.”

He ran back to Eli. “Here I am. What do you need me for?”

The old man shook awake. “Samuel, what’s got into you tonight. Can’t you see I’m trying to sleep here? Go back to bed.”

Samuel muttered as he walked back to the tabernacle. “I know I heard him call my name. There isn’t anyone else here. It had to be him.”

He laid back down.

“Samuel.”

He ran back to Eli. “I know I heard you call for me. Who else could it be?”

Eli looked up. “I’m sorry, Lord.”

He reached out a hand and waited for Samuel to grasp it. “The next time you hear your name called say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.'”

Samuel swallowed as he released Eli’s hand and returned to his chamber.

“Samuel.”

When Samuel opened his eyes a man was standing near him. “Speak, your servant is listening.”

“I’m about to do something that will capture everyone’s attention. The sins of Eli’s family will not be tolerated much longer. I warned him about not restraining his sons. Their sins cannot be covered by sacrifices forever.”

Samuel sat on his hands to keep them from shaking.

************

The legend of Samuel carries on to this day. This was a huge step in the process of making this man who would be used in mighty ways to help the nation of Israel to become the greatest nation in the world.

The first step in that process came before he was even conceived. His parents were godly people.

Samuel’s dad took his family to the tabernacle, the dwelling place of God, annually. That’s extremely significant when you remember this was during the period of the Judges…a time when everyone did what was right in his own eyes. God was feared by dad.

Samuel’s mom dedicated her firstborn son to God at the tabernacle on one of those sojourns. The infertility of Hannah, combined with her reverence toward God, made her say a vow that she carried out to the letter. God was honored by mom.

Samuel had an incredibly godly legacy to build on.

When Eli was given the responsibility of rearing this kid it was a second chance to get that right. He failed miserably with his two sons who were supposed to carry on the role of priest for God’s people. The elderly man took this opportunity seriously and did it well.

With that as the backdrop God steps into young Samuel’s life directly.

God had been so distance from Eli for so long even he didn’t recognize God’s presence when it came.

Where are you in this process?

Are you fearing God?

When I ask that question what first came to mind. Did you see yourself cowering in a corner of a room waiting to be struck by lightning? Most people do.

God does have that much power, but He has just as much love for you, too.

For those of us reared in a family where both parents were present we need to remember how we thought about our dads after we did something we knew was wrong. We knew punishment was imminent. Dad was the last person we wanted to cross paths with, but we knew he loved us, too.

Our earthly fathers are to be a representation of our heavenly Father. Too bad there are too few good examples of that today.

Have you made a dedication to God?

Don’t think children are the only thing that can possibly be dedicated to God. Your life can be dedicated, too.

When I suggest that don’t think you have to go to Africa to be a missionary to carry this out. Dedicating your future may mean taking a stand in your current workplace. It could be being more active at church or another organization. It could simply mean studying the Bible more to hear from God better.

Making God number one in your life is dedication to Him.

Are you passing on God’s principles to the next generation?

If you have children definitely start there. If your children are grown teach your grandchildren about fearing and loving God.

If neither of those opportunities is open to you find a young person to mentor. This generation of young adults is floundering now. Too few of them have a solid foundation to build on. They’ve been fed so many lies in school they don’t know what to believe.

When you step in to teach them about God and His truths as found in the Bible take it slow, but be deliberate.

You only need to change the course of one life to have an impact on several people in the future. If you skip this opportunity to make an impact the next generation will continue to wander in the wilderness and miss God’s kingdom altogether.

Eli taught Samuel as much as he could. God’s second chance wasn’t wasted.

By the time God did speak to Samuel the Creator of the universe was a real part of the young man’s mindset.

God can use anybody. He always does.

You can help prepare someone for that transformation today.

That pebble you drop on the surface of the ocean won’t make much of an impact now, but the ripples will go on for quite some time.

Help God steer those ripples by doing your part to focus a young person toward being used by God in mighty ways.

It’s not too late for you to make a difference.

God’s plan is to use you, too.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

I just prayed for 150 men…one book at a time

I first met Marcia on a Sunday morning. She approached me before our adult fellowship time and introduced herself. She said she noticed me a week or two before that sitting by myself. She said I looked defeated.

This was a few years ago…after my wife left me and before I lost my secure job that held me constantly sleep deprived. Defeated was becoming my constant companion.

Marcia and I have become great friends since that encounter. Life, on the other hand, has continued to beat me down, but not out. I keep hoping the pendulum of fate hits the low part of its swing soon. I could use some things to begin working toward the “Blessings of God” side.

Being a prayer warrior, as most 70+ year old women of faith are, I knew Marcia would love my book of 100 prayers.

She took the book home and devoured the last chapter on the 23rd Psalm. She told me my writing ranks right up there with Chuck Swindoll. I didn’t say it does…she did.

One of Marcia’s sons helps lead three day retreats called Tres Dias. She gave him her copy of my book to see if they’d like to use it as a gift book for the attendees. She couldn’t wait to get her original copy back from him so she bought a second book that she could continue to work through.

They decided my book would fit with their work so the retreat coming up next month in north Texas will have 100 Prayers of a Writer in the gift bag all the men receive.

Marcia is making sure I have no excuse for not attending that retreat. I told you she’s a great friend.

I knew the bare minimum I had to do is sign every copy of my book. Knowing how much Marcia, and her prayer warrior friends, are praying for this retreat I decided to take it one step further.

I set the six boxes of books out on my floor before I opened them.

I pulled one book out of the first box and set it on top of a stack of two boxes in front of me.

While on my knees I set my left hand on the book and prayed for the man getting that book.

I don’t know the names of anybody going to this retreat. I haven’t even met Marcia’s son, yet. I let the Holy Spirit guide me through each prayer.

Some of these men are dealing with serious addiction issues. Others are facing hard decisions…health issues…family strife…career choices…secrets.

There are some good apples in the bunch who need to deepen their relationship with God at this point in their lives. A few are about to be used mightily by God soon.

I’ve heard of others doing such praying before, but this was my first experience with it.

I hope it’s not my last.

About a third of the way through my running time came due. I took the break from this spiritual warfare to recharge my prayer battery.

What began after church ended after supper that evening.

I know some men will be blessed by the words God used me to write in those books.

This man is blessed by praying for every man attending that retreat.

Please join me in praying for God’s kingdom to be built by what will transpire that weekend.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

Is Monday the 13th Really Unlucky?

Happy unlucky Monday the thirteenth Y’all. I have no clue how Friday the 13th stole all the thunder from Monday the 13th, but that’s what we have to live with in this fallen world I suppose.

What makes this Monday the 13th unlucky to the uber degree is the fact that it’s the second month in a row we’ve had to endure one. If you don’t believe me just flip your calendar back a page a see for yourself.

You see…February had a Monday the 13th, too. Now you hurt my feelings by actually checking. Shame on you.

It’s a good thing I’m not actually superstitious or nothing because last month would have done me in to the uber degree.

I was working with the Apainter Paul on an interior job. The tall ceilings made it necessary to use ladders to paint the tops of the walls. No, I didn’t walk under any of said ladders at all if I could at all help it…not that I actually believe it’s unlucky or nothing.

The real problem came from the three cats the lady had for fur children. Yeah, she never got married so the cats are her kids…not that she considers herself a crazy cat lady or nothing. That’s what I overheard her tell someone on the phone.

Anywho…all three of these felines are black. She can tell them all apart. Good fur her.

Now I can’t think of an unluckier event than to have three black cats cross under a feller’s ladder on a Monday the 13th…but I lived to tell about it, y’all.

There are some folks who hope they’re lucky enough to get into heaven after they die. They think if they go to church enough times and give the appropriate amount of money to the right charitable organizations they’ll make it.

Not by the hair of their black cat’s chin.

They count on their good deeds being enough to earn their way through those pearly gates.

Not by attaching all the ladders together will that get them to reach heaven’s foundation.

They pray they’re better than just enough people to make the cut to be selected on God’s team.

Not by any number of anything will that work neither.

There’s nothing anybody can do to get to heaven. There is something one man did to get you into heaven, though.

Jesus Christ was a unique individual…actually He still is. It’s a stretch for our puny minds to comprehend, but Jesus was God and man in one package. His perfect life made him the ultimate one to become the ultimate sacrifice to die in our place in God’s eyes.

There’s nothing superstitious about this. By admitting your inability to reach heaven on your own efforts because of your sinning you have taken the important first step to getting there.

The second step is accepting Jesus’s death as done in your place.

The third step will be when you walk across that threshold of those pearly gates.

Your eternity with God won’t start when you get to heaven. No, He wants to develop that relationship you’ve always longed for right here and now.

Yeah, I’m not hawking a religion here. Christianity was always meant to be a personal relationship with the Creator of the universe.

Jesus always called God His Father. Once you become Jesus’s adopted brother or sister you can, too.

No amount of black critters, ladders nor numbers will ever take that away from you, neither.

This will all make perfect sense when we all get to heaven.

You can thank me when you see me there someday.

Keep smiling.   Wade

Just Me and Jesus

God has an annoying way of giving me writing prompts sometimes. Two o’clock in the morning seems to be one of His favorite times to do such shenanigans.

Just Me and Jesus was set to a tune as I awoke in the wee hours one morning. The chorus played in my head while I drove around. I sang it to myself and contemplated the verses that should go along with it.

Being the storyteller that I am a theme developed over the next few days. I knew a preacher, a doll, a boy and a doctor would be involved. The third verse came to me first while I drove.

The remainder of the story took shape when I wrote it all down. Rather than a song for the entirety a poem formed to fill in around the chorus. I guess you can call it white conservative Christian rap music if you insist on labeling it into a genre.

This video is what became of that 2 AM writing prompt.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

Jim passed this morning

Life has a way of becoming stunningly obvious at times.

Take last week for example. My driving assignments have slowed since the Christmas rush has subsided.

Not to fear, the Apainter Paul is getting some big painting jobs he needs help with.

Last week we were painting an exterior in Frisco. We finished the back first. On Wednesday I was painting the front of the house when a commotion occurred next door.

A car stopped in the cul-de-sac. A woman in a burgundy outfit jogged to the front door. She was let in almost immediately.

A few minutes later a woman in a matching light blue outfit walked out carrying a few bags of stuff to her car.

A young man drove up and walked to the door. The door opened. An older man asked one question as he ushered the young man in. “What have you heard?”

This did not sound good. We learned from the homeowner we were working for, Lu, that a Parkinson’s patient was on hospice care in the home.

Later in the morning the woman in the burgundy outfit walked outside to talk on her phone away from the gathering family inside.

One sentence jumped out at me. “Jim passed this morning.” Four words that hung in the air.

Hospice workers are a special breed of people.

A first name is all she needed to tell her listener who she was talking about. These aren’t patients. They’re real people.

When you work around death on a regular basis you have your own code words.

“Passed” means Jim is no longer with us here in this world. His soul has passed into the next. His eternal destiny is fixed now.

We later learned one of the hospice workers led Jim to Christ about three weeks ago. He’s waiting for fellow believers with his Savior now.

Some of the neighbors walked to the door and offered the same sentiment: “If you need anything just let me know.”

If the Good Lord ever gives me the chance to own a home I want two things with it: I want a neighbor like Lu and I want to be the type of neighbor Lu is.

Just before one o’clock Lu drove up to the home. She carried a large bag with a deli logo on it. Four hours later she hefted a large ice chest out of the back of her SUV and brought that to the front door.

Lu didn’t wait to be asked to help. She knew these folks weren’t thinking about what they were going to eat at this time. She filled that need on her own.

Our church has a unique way of handling the missionary outreach we have. It combines the overseas missionaries with the local ways of reaching outside of the church building’s walls.

It’s called “missional living.” It’s viewed as more of a mindset than a division of the church’s function.

We recognize that simply building a big church and holding worship services inside isn’t enough to drawn people into God’s family.

There are so many local means of reaching folks with God’s concern that I probably don’t know of half of them, and I’ve gone to quite a few of their meetings. I just wished my schedule allowed me to get involved with more of them.

Lu is living a missional living life. Her neighbor’s know she’s different in the best way possible.

You better believe that if Lu ever needs help one of her neighbor’s will be there for her. And if she ever asks them if they’d like to go to church with her some Sunday they are very possibly going to take her up on her offer.

That’s why I want to be like Lu. Because she’s more like Jesus than most preachers I know.

Preachers are so busy preparing sermons, coming up with catchy story illustrations and thinking about their next sermon series that they can’t do what Lu did.

That’s why there are so many more people in the pews than there are people preaching sermons.

What about you? Are you reaching your neighbors by meeting their needs without being asked?

Do you have pictures of missionaries stuck on your refrigerator to remind you to pray for them throughout the day?

Don’t tell me you’re one of those folks who simply attends church occasionally and then goes back to your normal life the rest of the week.

That’s not what Jesus wants us doing.

Jesus didn’t die for us to simply provide fire insurance for our eternal destiny.

He wants us to attract as many other souls into heaven as we can.

Let’s help Lu be the hands and feet of Jesus here and now.

I’ll see you later.   Wade