How do people show they’re happy?

Here we are the last day of the month of August. I hope you knew this was “Admit You’re Happy Month.”

No, well shame on you. I personally don’t know why only one month is set aside for admitting one is happy. We should feel free to admit we’re happy every single day we’re able to breathe. I’m happy I just wrote that sentence. So there!

God invented some animals to show quite clearly when they’re happy.

Cats purr. Scientists still haven’t figured out how they purr. I hope they never do else the federal government will likely put a stop to it. That or tax it somehow.

Dogs wag their tails. I had a Corgi whose tail was cropped extremely short (I don’t know why. I guess some government agency put a hex on some vet somewhere or something). Holly still wagged her hind end whenever her happy gauge read full. A lack of a tail couldn’t stop her from being the happy dog she was every month of the year.

I guess God did equip humans with a happy indicator. It’s a smile. Yeah, just like the one on your face right now (and you didn’t think I could see you).

Smiles are merely the first level indicator of happiness. Laughter is the second tier emotional indicative of happy for people. When a smile spills out past its boundaries a laugh erupts.

There’s a third level of happy, too. Can you guess what it is?

Ironically, it’s the same indicator of sad. When folks get too happy for a laugh to contain itself tears flow from their ducts.

This is the level of happy parents show whenever one of their kids finally amounts to something. The poor child is sure they’re in trouble for something. That’s the only other time Dad looks that mad.

We sure are a confusing species now that I think about it.

To make matters worse most people have learned to hide all of their emotions. Even the happy ones. They’ve been through so much emotional pain they fear exposing themself. To be that vulnerable is too much to bear.

That is truly sad.

[Tweet “I guess God did equip humans with a happy indicator. It’s a smile”]

Let’s make a pact right here and now. Just the two of us with no one else watching. Smile. Yeah, now do it bigger. Okay, now do it like you’re really happy even if you ain’t.

Okay, now that you’ve practiced it in private show the world you’re happy. Even if you read this during some month other than August.

Let’s take a chance and spread happy all over the planet beginning right where you are now.

If you’re happy and you know it don’t forget to let your face know it needs to tell the world about it.

Keep smiling.   Wade

FRESH VISION

“This should be a good day for you. Crowds are going to Jerusalem for Passover.”

Bartimaeus handed his blanket to his brother to lay out for him. “Thank you for helping me. You’re a good friend.”

“I’m your brother. What other choice do I have?” He guided Bart to a seated position.

“You could ignore me like everyone else does. Someday I hope to go for Passover, too.”

“Maybe next year. We’ll see.”

“I feel the sun. Are there clouds to cool me later?”

“I placed you by a tree. It will shade you when the sun is high. I must go to work now.”

“I envy you that. Be careful. I’ll see you this evening.”

“I’ll come for you.”

When the sounds of voices came Bartimaeus began his ritual. “Alms…alms for the poor. I am blind. Alms…”

Some people gave him scraps of food. A drink of water occasionally quenched his thirst. A few coins landed on the blanket. Some of those were stolen.

The sound of a large group caught Bart’s attention. “Who is coming? Can anybody tell me what’s happening? Anybody…?”

“Jesus is passing with His disciples.”

“Jesus… Jesus, Son of David, have pity, show me mercy.”

“Quiet blind man. He’s too busy. There are more important people getting His attention.”

Bart leaned forward and yelled. “Son of David have mercy on me. Jesus, I need you. Please come here.”

“Quiet…”

“JESUS, SON OF DAVID…”

The crowd was silent.

“Bring him to Me.”

A shadow cooled Bart. “Okay, your yelling worked. Jesus is calling for you.”

Bart threw his cloak aside and stood. He held his arms out. When some men grabbed his arms he let them lead him to Jesus.

“What do you want me to do for you?”

“My eyes…I wish to see. Lord, I want to see.”

“Go your way. Your faith has healed you.”

Bart blinked. The man in front of him was smiling. Bart smiled.

The crowds pushed against Jesus. Jesus walked toward Jerusalem.

Bart looked around. The people rushed past him and pushed him back. The sun was too bright to look at. He turned and saw the tree, then his blanket.

When he spun around Jesus’s group was cresting the hill. Bart ran to catch up to Jesus. Jerusalem was within sight now.

********

 Now I hope you see the story of blind Bartimaeus from his point of view.

He lived in darkness. It’s all he knew.

He depended on others. It’s all there was.

He longed for better. It’s what he lived for.

Until Jesus walked by on the way to the cross. Then his prayer was answered.

Bartimaeus had heard of Jesus. From those tales he was convinced He was the Messiah, the Son of David promised many centuries earlier. Other blind men had been delivered from their infirmity. Confidence was high the same result could be his. If he could have just a few seconds with the Man of God.

He knew this was his only chance to be heard. But, the crowds were loud. All he could do was be louder. He needed Jesus to see him so he could see.

I see three principles we can learn from Bartimaeus’s example.

  1. He believed Jesus was God’s Son. When he called Jesus “Son of David” it was a public admission of who Jesus was. The promised Messiah sent to set the captive free. Bart needed to be free of his blindness. Nothing short of a miracle would work.
  2. He was desperate to get Jesus’s attention. No amount of chastising from the crowd was about to silence his only chance to be set free. When they told him to be quiet he got louder. He believed his miracle was near.
  3. He had an answer to Jesus’s question. I don’t read any hesitation from the blind man when Jesus asked him what He could do for him. He could have asked for anything. He knew his greatest need. He asked for his miracle.

[Tweet “Are you ready to follow this blind man’s example?”]

Do you know who Jesus really is? Is He God’s one and only Son, or just a Bible character whose words are printed in red?

Are you desperate to get His attention? If you had one chance to meet Him would you do anything to get His attention, or just blend into the crowd?

What would your answer be to His question? Would you ask for your spiritual blindness to be removed, or request that promotion at work?

The best advice I ever heard about conquering goals in life comes from Chuck Swindoll: “Work like it all depends on you. Pray like it all depends on God.”

Bartimaeus was persistent. Jesus had a parable for that. His main character was a widow in front of a corrupt judge. Keep bringing your prayer request to God. He’s listening. He’ll answer in His time.

Batimaeus was confident. He knew Jesus had healing powers. More than one person had been made to see. Jesus even raised the dead back to life. Believe Jesus is still in the resurrection business, because He is.

Bartimaeus was transformed. Jesus gave him a second chance in life. Rather than go back to his spot and beg for sustenance he chose to follow the One who changed him. Jesus told him to go. Instead he came to his Lord.

Are you ready, even desperate, for a second chance? Do you want your spiritual blindness removed? Do you believe Jesus will give it to you?

What do you want Jesus to do for you?

He’s cleared the crowd away. You have his full attention.

Are you ready to leave your old life behind?

Tell Him your desire. Trust Him to deliver you. Follow him to your new life, even if it leads to death.

If you’re honest you’ll admit your old life is a dead end. Jesus promises an eternal life.

This life is your one chance to decide your eternal destiny.

Choose wisely. Remember Bartimaeus.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

West Texas observations from a transplanted Texan

When a writer has several hours behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler there’s too much time and not enough to think about. This blog post will be proof of what I’m talking about…or writing about, actually.

This summer has been the year of West  Texas window deliveries. I have a few observations to make since I can’t think of anything else to write about.

If the state critter finds himself in the largest city in the panhandle he’s called an Amarillo armadillo.

The member of a herd in charge of impregnating the females in the city south of there is a Lubbock bullock.

You see, I warned you I have too much time to think and not enough to think about.

Heading out toward the end of a day has certain advantages. Riding off into the sunset being the main one as evidenced here…

w texas sunset 9

And here…

w texas sunset 2

That’s one of the few built-in perks of driving a big rig. God’s handy work on display. I wonder how many people are too occupied with their thoughts and worries to notice such beauty. Their loss.

A more practical observation cooks will appreciate: it takes much longer to bake a potato at 85 degrees than it does at 105 degrees. Yeah, the air conditioner went out again on my truck this past week, but since the weather was much cooler (or should I say less hotter?) it wasn’t as draining.

Sure, I lived to tell about it, but…why me?

Windmills are becoming all the rage for making electricity. The giant blades require oversize load banners and escorting vehicles to assist those drivers in safely making turns. They don’t work so well on calm days, but when my rig is being blown all over the road their extremely efficient at generating juice.

On an extremely positive note…2015 is a high-cotton year. As any good Alabama country music fan will attest a year called high-cotton is a good year. That means the cotton crop is coming up very well so the harvest will be good. The May rains slowed the planting period down, but grew the crop up quite nicely. I have a feeling this year is making up for several poor years of drought.

On a more religious note…it’s my observation that there are more crosses constructed along west Texas roads per mile than anywhere else on the planet.

There are big metal white crosses designed to look different as the sun and shadows strike them at various times of the day.

Brown wooden crosses either singled out or bunched in threes.

White PVC plastic crosses facing either parallel  or perpendicular to the road.

I pray those crosses are set up to point people to the only way to heaven and not as a gesture to earn points to get the setter-upper closer toward entrance into said eternal goal.

I know my thoughts are directed toward my Savior, but I wonder what non-believers think about when they see those crosses. Do they think about anything related to them at all?

I guess if one person who sees those crosses resets their mind toward Jesus then they’re worth constructing.

It’s definitely a good sign that so many people feel the need to set out that symbol for folks to see.

I pray our government doesn’t begin taking them down too soon. I’m afraid at the pace we’re going it could happen in our lifetime.

Hopefully after the rapture of true believers occurs.

I personally like that freedom of speech being implemented in public.

Especially when people make the personal connection to Jesus their Savior.

Keep smiling.   Wade

SLAVES

Jesus was following the crowds to Jerusalem for the Passover. His followers were grumbling behind Him.

Matthew: “I can’t believe we’re going back to Jerusalem. The last time we were there the priests tried to stone Him.”

Bartholomew: “I know. I thought we’d stay incognito. Instead we’re just marching right in with everyone else.”

Thomas: “It has to be time to set up the kingdom. There’s nothing else for Him to do.”

Jesus stepped off the main trail into a clearing. His disciples gathered around Him.

Jesus looked at each one of them. “We’re going to Jerusalem where the Son of Man will be betrayed and handed over to the religious authorities. Everything the prophets recorded will come to pass. The Gentiles will mock, spit upon, scourge, and crucify the Son of Man. But, after three days He will rise again.”

The mother of James and John pushed through the crowd of men. She pulled each of her sons behind her. When she reached Jesus she bowed to the ground.

Jesus smiled at her. “What do you want from me?”

She stood and searched Jesus’s eyes. “I want You to reserve the seats on either side of Your throne for my sons here. One on your right hand, the other on Your left.”

The smile left Jesus’s face. “You don’t know what you’re asking of me.”

He looked from James to John, then back to James. “Are you ready to drink the cup I am about to drink or receive My baptism?”

They nodded. “Yes, we are.”

Jesus stood back. “You will surely drink My cup and receive my baptism, but to grant the seats on My sides is not for Me to give. That is reserved by My Father alone.

The group of men stirred. “Who do they think they are? How do they think they’re better than any of us? I can’t believe the audacity to ask such a thing.”

Jesus held up one hand. “Stop. You know how the Gentile rulers flaunt their power over others and demand respect. That is NOT to be the attitude you are to have. Instead, if any of you wishes to be above anyone else he shall take on the attitude of a servant. That’s right. The best of you will see himself as a slave to others. The Son of Man who came from God the Father could demand respect, but even He didn’t come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for mankind. Follow My example and serve each other.”

After a minute of silence Jesus turned back to the road and led His men to Jerusalem.

********

That final journey to Jerusalem must have been filled with so many unexpected twists and turns. This one was likely the most breath-taking of them all.

“Did Jesus just tell us to become servants and slaves?”

“What kind of kingdom is He establishing anyway?”

“How does somebody lead by being lower than the ones he’s leading?”

Those were possibly some of the thoughts that bounced around in the disciples’ minds the rest of the trip to the Holy City.

And this was just the beginning of the most tumultuous week of their lives.

They lived during the time of slaves and masters so they knew exactly what Jesus was telling them to do. We can only wonder and guess at best to the full meaning of that statement.

[Tweet “We each need to make a difference where we can.”]

How well are you doing at this slave thing anyway?

Yeah, Jesus was talking to us, too.

Don’t go thinking about yourself as higher than you ought. You’re called to be a slave to others.

Are you giving of yourself to further the kingdom?

How hard does the Holy Spirit have to prod you to volunteer or just do the obvious task at hand?

Before we get too far into this I know some of you do too much and need to let others step up to carry some of the burden at your church. Especially if you attend a small church.

But, too many people sit back and expect to enter a worship zone by being entertained every Sunday morning. That’s all they came in the door for. Jesus ain’t happy with those folks.

We each need to make a difference where we can.

It may be a small thing, but it needs to be something.

I’m thinking past the church venue, too.

Do you shovel the snow off your elderly neighbor’s walk while you’re clearing your walk?

Will it really kill you to mow that single mom’s lawn once in a while?

If you give the kids near you some of your time they may give you more respect in return.

You see, being a slave isn’t that hard. It will take some effort, but so did the crucifixion.

A bit over thirty years before Jesus told His disciples to become slaves he was seated at the right hand of God.

He knew His death was imminent. He kept walking to His death for you and for me.

There’s that theme of dying to self again.

The kingdom demanded Jesus to die. There was no getting around it.

Jesus is commanding us to be slaves for the kingdom.

Volunteer where you can. Encourage others to join you. They need to put servitude into practice, too.

If each of us worked at serving others better the kingdom would be overflowing with new believers.

Too many people treat church as if it’s a club for believers. Instead it should be a walk-in service center.

Everybody should be fed not just the folks preparing the food.

Take turns skipping a worship service to help with the kids so their parents can experience worshiping God on Sunday morning.

You’ll be surprised how much worshiping you can do while you’re calming a toddler.

That’s being Jesus to the least of these in the realest sense of the term.

That’s being a servant on the floor.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

WAITING ON GOD book review and launch

When I learned my friend, Wayne Stiles, was writing a book about the life of Joseph I was thrilled. At the time I was going through Joseph’s life for devotional topics for my blog. It’s always fun to see how another writer sees the same portion of scripture.

Wayne did not disappoint me. I knew he wouldn’t. Waiting-on-God-cover-spine-thin

Wayne Stiles combines the biblical insights of a seminary-trained scholar, the practical application of a seasoned preacher with the personal illustrations of a fellow traveler on this rough road of life to create a volume on the life of a favorite Bible character that should be in the library of every born-again believer.

Patience is not the only lesson Joseph and his family lived out for us. It’s just the most obvious one.

We also experience self-discipline successfully lived out by Joseph,  but not so well by Judah.

Letting go was extremely hard for Jacob to do after his many losses in life. God pried his fingers loose in time.

Unfulfilled faith in one’s lifetime is displayed admirably by Joseph, too.

Forgiveness is given beautifully by the main character as grace is offered by God.

Yeah, the real hand that rocked the events of Joseph’s life was the invisible hand of the God of Israel who tested a young lad to make him the great leader he became.

Don’t be surprised, after reading this book, if you begin to see God’s fingerprints on the events of your life, too. His ways are not our ways. His timing is rarely on our schedule. His lessons require time, struggle and patience.

WAITING ON GOD, What to do when God does nothing, launches today, August 18, 2015. Click the cover of the book above or the link below, you may have to copy and paste it into your browser, to see the bonuses Wayne is offering until August 25, 2015 to make this launch a big success.

Don’t wait to buy this book. The message is timeless. The bonuses aren’t. The full package is well worth getting.

http://www.waynestiles.com/buy-my-new-book-now-and-get-7-bonuses/

Have a great day.   Wade

Spiritual journeys don’t need a lot of geographic space

I’m writing this post on Thursday, August 13, 2015. I should have started my day in Amarillo, Texas. God had other plans for me. His plans included a spiritual journey in my 700 square foot apartment.

Last Friday I THOUGHT this week was all mapped out for me to work five consecutive days for the first time in many weeks. Come late Wednesday morning my supervisor at the window place called.

I was expecting his call to tell me when to come in to begin my west Texas delivery run for the last three days of the week. Instead I learned about an equipment breakdown that threw my entire schedule for a loop.

Now I need to make my deliveries over the weekend including next Monday. At least that ‘s the plan he has laid out for now. I’m curious as to what God’s plans are for me.

Being gone over the entire weekend means I’ll miss church this week. Which means I’ll miss filling in for my last week of helping with the toddlers before the regular helpers step in after Promotion Sunday.

This morning I was eating my oatmeal in front of an open chronological study Bible. I typically do this to prepare for writing Friday’s devotional post here.

The page is open to the gospels where Jesus is coming to Jerusalem for the last time. James and John are requesting the positions of authority either side of Jesus in His kingdom, then Jesus will heal some blind guy(s) near Jericho.

You know how sometimes a portion of scripture will just jump off the page at you? Well, that’s what happened to me this morning.

Jesus repeats the exact same question several times on these pages of scripture: “What do you want me to do for you?”

Suddenly I felt like Solomon at the beginning of his reign as Israel’s king. I could ask for anything I want, but only one thing.

My life is so full of potential prayer requests there’s no way I can narrow them all down to the most important one. They’re all important.

Do I ask for my marriage to reunite? I’ve been repeating that one for several years. It seems to be never ending, yet important.

Should I request for my finances to improve? There are two writing conferences that could use some monetary assistance so I can possibly land a publisher for my devotional book series and/or some fiction that’s been ready to impact some lives for God.

I need wisdom for which conference(s) to attend. The one near me in September or the one in Michigan in October, or both?

There’s the business ventures I hope will bring in enough money for me to concentrate on the writing more but haven’t done much, yet.

I paced my small apartment for several minutes weighing my options.

Do you know what eventually brought tears to my eyes for my one request?

I prayed for the Holy Spirit to move in someone’s heart to step in with the kids so that classroom wouldn’t be closed this Sunday. (I choked up again typing that sentence.)

I have a gift with the toddlers. They’re drawn to a grandfather figure to calm them. Last week I had a crier on my left leg getting over separation anxiety after being dropped off. This usually take a few minutes to resolve.

While I’m rocking this girl another young lady walks up to me, no tears, just wanted my attention, too. There’s nothing more fulfilling than calming two kids at once.

Emiline and I were BFF’s for the next hour and a half.

I pray for their parents to be blessed during the sermon. This week’s message was on serving Jesus. I was doing just that then.

After I petitioned my request I got up and dried my eyes before checking my email. Both of the women involved with the kids told me how much they appreciate my faithfulness in serving over the summer months.

A third email from church surprised me. It was from the pastor who runs the men’s retreat every year. Les wanted to know if I planned on being involved behind the scenes again and using my van to transport equipment to east Texas for that weekend.

If that isn’t confirmation that God is still planning on using me I don’t know what is.

I’m confident God’s children will be well cared for this Sunday.

Now I’m expecting last week’s paycheck to show up in the mail so I can pay for one day at the local conference before the rate goes up. Tyndale may be the publisher God has chosen for my devotionals and/or my children’s books.

I’ll never know if I don’t give it a shot. He’s counting on me to remain faithful.

Keep smiling.   Wade

THE COUNCIL

Caiaphas sat in the High Priest’s chair. He waited for the other men to sit. “What is the nature of this urgent calling together of the council? As if I need to ask.”

A Pharisee stood. “There’s been an incredible development with Jesus from Nazareth.”

Caiaphas stared at the Pharisee. “Did he tell someone to carry his mat on the Sabbath again?”

The Pharisee shook his head. “No, your highness, it’s much more astounding than that.”

Caiaphas drummed his fingers on the table. “Did someone get their sight back on the Sabbath again? I was ready to stone that guy who asked us if we wanted to believe in Jesus ourselves. How blasphemous.”

A priest leaned forward. “It’s bad enough when Jesus feeds a group of people and they want to crown him their king. What could be more ludicrous than that?”

The second Pharisee stood next to the first one. “Lazarus.”

A priest at the end of the table spoke up. “The brother of Martha and Mary? My wife went to Bethany to grieve with Mary over his death. That was a few days ago. What could Jesus do for him at that point?”

The Pharisee looked at each priest. “Jesus arrived four days after Lazarus died. We have eyewitnesses who saw Jesus bring Lazarus back to life.”

An audible gasp filled the room followed by murmurs.

The priest next to Caiaphas stood. “Are you sure Lazarus was dead?”

The Pharisee nodded. “The smell from the tomb was so bad one man vomited.”

The priest leaned forward. “Did Jesus touch the dead body? That would make him unclean.”

The Pharisee shook his head. “Our witnesses say Jesus prayed to God and called him his Father then simply told Lazarus to come out of the tomb.”

The priest sat down hard. “Jesus doesn’t even know who his real father is. How can he keep insisting God is his father?”

The Pharisee stepped toward the High Priest. “That’s not the point here. More people than ever are insisting Jesus is the Messiah. If this continues he’ll lead an uprising and the Romans will step in to remove this council and everything we stand for. We may not even have a nation when it’s all said and done.”

The crowd exploded into chaos until Caiaphas pounded his gavel hard.

He waited for silence. “Gentlemen, you have a short view of the situation here. God will not allow His people to be without a homeland. He promised us that many times. To that end God will make a way for us to put a stop to Jesus before any harm comes to our great nation. Don’t you realize that it’s far better for one man to die for the people than for God’s people to perish? We will take Jesus the next time he’s in Jerusalem.”

A third Pharisee stood. “But, we aren’t allowed to execute anyone. That’s Roman law. How are we to dispose of Jesus?”

Caiaphas sat back. “We’ll let the Romans crucify him for treason to stop any uprising he’s planning. That should put a halt to his followers as well.”

The first Pharisee stared at Caiaphas. “If he comes during the Passover he’ll have the crowds to protect him.”

Caiaphas smiled. “If it is God’s will for Jesus to die He’ll make a way for us to take him.”

A priest spoke up. “If we get rid of Lazarus that would be one less miracle for people to believe in.”

Caiaphas pounded his gavel. “This council is officially adjourned.”

********

Every good story has an evil antagonist who is pitted against the protagonist. It’s not often the bad guys are wearing white hats, but that’s the way His story played out.

The priests were in charge of the Temple and all of its protocols and procedures. The Pharisees were in charge of the laws the Jews were to follow. They even took it upon themselves to add to the laws originally given to Moses. Under Roman occupation they were the closest thing to a Hebrew governing body in existence.

So, why did they refuse to see Jesus for who He really was? In a word: pride, followed closely by power.

They didn’t want their positions of leadership and power taken away. The status quo was working very well thank you very much.

For the Messiah to come on their watch would mean they would lose their authority. Once power grips a person’s heart its icy tentacles are extremely difficult to release.

Such were the hearts of the religious leaders of Jesus’s day.

[Tweet “Jesus never demanded anybody follow His way”]

Pride wears many masks. Most of them are very innocent looking on the surface.

Parents can demand their kids go to church on the pretense of raising them properly only to have the young adults detest God after they receive their freedom.

A husband can insist his wife follows everything he says under the guise of submission according biblical standards without loving her like Christ loves the church.

A boss can lead with an iron fist to ensure his company makes it in a tough economy only to lose his best employees whose ideas never get heard let alone tried.

At the heart of pride is control. Each of us wants to be able to control the situation we find ourself in.

The logic follows the lines of us manipulating those around us to maintain our grip on our life.

It’s a false sense of security at best. I’ve seen marriages end when one spouse insists the other bends to their demand. Unconditional love is thrown away for the sake of pride and control.

Instead of changing an attitude an insistence on doing it “MY” way ensues. It’s a no-win situation.

Jesus never demanded anybody follow His way. He merely invited people to change from their sinful past and take on His easy yoke.

Unconditional love met compassion and adherence to the law in an incredible person.

Let’s follow Jesus’s example and love people to Him.

That means releasing your grip on your situation.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

I’m being squeezed and baked into the image of Christ

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers. Romans 8:28-29

You’ll never see me use verse 28 without verse 29 included from the eighth chapter of the letter to the Romans. I’ve seen at least one translation that puts a comma at the end of verse 28 to show the continuation of the message here.

The “good” mentioned here shows the “all things” making us more like Jesus Christ. That means everything that happens to me is designed to make me more like Jesus. Whether I like it or not.

[Tweet “God doesn’t clear things with me first. Otherwise I’d never grow”]

Lately the process of transformation literally stinks, in more ways than one.

It’s been my observation that whenever God wants to teach me something He takes an ordinary situation and adds something extraordinary to it to get my attention.

Well, the west Texas three day delivery run I’ve been stuck with has been one of those ordinary events. I usually have Gabriel along to help unload the windows. We work well together. We’re both quiet so the driving allows my mind to wander to various things.

I only wish Gabe was as quiet at night as he is during the day. When we share a motel room for the night he has what I call an angry snore. About the time I don’t think he can snore louder he does. I swear he’s mad at someone. Maybe it’s me somehow. Maybe not.

Well, the past two weeks I’ve been able to drive solo. I’ve been looking forward to the experience even though it means I have to sleep in the sleeper berth of the tractor.

I’ve noticed something about diesel engines. They aren’t the smoothest running motors available. To keep the air conditioner running I have to keep the engine running. That means the bed shakes. That means I can’t sleep with the engine running.

So, I idle the engine to cool the cab, then shut it off to fall asleep. When I wake up in a puddle of sweat I restart the engine until the temperature drops back to a comfortable level. Lather, rinse, repeat.

The night before my first solo drive west was met with a sour stomach that kept me awake for a while. Nothing major, just uncomfortable.

Wednesday went fine. Thursday afternoon my gut told me not to eat anything so I skipped K-Bob’s free-range grilled salmon, my favorite meal. I decided to attempt an apple for nutrition.

The fruit was going down fine so I decided to try some mixed nuts to add to the nutritional value of the meal. The Brazil Nut got stuck in my throat and forced the gag response. I grabbed the only thing within reach at 70 miles per hour, a plastic shopping bag.

It caught the initial blast for about one second. That’s when I regretted not having a shower available to me that evening.

The second wave was trapped in a napkin and tossed on the messy plastic bag while keeping the big rig between that lines somehow.

As I pulled off to the shoulder of the road I thought, “Okay, how is this supposed to make me more like Christ? I don’t recall anything written about Him puking an apple on Himself at 70 mph.”

After I changed into fresh clothes I continued to Odessa to spend the night at a truck stop. I was able to eat the remainder of the apple with no ill affects.

The next morning I ate an egg-muffin sandwich and a box of milk. So far so good. I bought a couple of nutritional bars to eat later.

When I returned to the truck to commence my deliveries it wouldn’t start. It apparently needed more idle time than I gave it overnight. Two weak batteries were replaced before I could drive four hours later.

In the two hour wait for the repairman to show up I was glad I was at a truckstop with restrooms available. Yeah, the worst diarrhea I ever experienced ensued. The rest of that day I prayed I could make it to the next stop one to two hours away.

Let’s just say I had an extremely strengthened sphincter by the end of the day. How all that made me more like Jesus I have no clue.

Last week was going much better until the drive between Lubbock and K-Bob’s. That’s when the A/C went out again. They supposedly “fixed” it two weeks ago. And this was during a west Texas August heatwave.

The only A/C I had available was the old-fashioned 2-70 variety: Two windows rolled down at 70 MPH.

My supervisor asked me later if that cooled the truck down at all. I didn’t feel like going into the explanation of how I knew the affects of a convection oven so I just explained that all it did was dry some of the sweat off.

I’ve had more than my share of “good” happening in my life of late. I don’t know how much of it is spiritual warfare or simple God-ordained Jesus making. I guess I asked for this.

My prayer before God called me to write was for Him to “Break me. Break me. Use me.” There have been many times I wish I had stopped at one “Break me.” but didn’t.

He may be preparing me to be used in a mighty way.

I still have no clue how these instances in west Texas have anything to do with anything.

All I do know is I trust Him with all my heart. So if this is what it takes to be used by Him then I’m game for the seeming abuse from above. My heavenly Father always knows what’s best.

God doesn’t clear things with me first. Otherwise I’d never grow.

Keep smiling.   Wade

SECOND LIFE

Jesus held His left arm across Mary’s shoulders. His right Arm was across Martha’s. The three of them led a procession to the family burial cave.

Mary wrapped both arms around Jesus’s waist. Martha caressed Jesus’s hand on her shoulder.

They paused as people filled in the area behind them when they reached the tomb of Lazarus.

Jesus let out a sigh. “Oh, this wretched curse of death with its separation.”

A silence fell over the crowd when Jesus looked at the men near the tomb. “Roll the stone away from the entrance.”

Martha looked at Jesus. “Lord, he’s been in there four days. There’s going to be a stench by now.”

Jesus searched her eyes. “It’s necessary for God to be glorified.”

Martha paused, then looked at the men. She motioned for them to roll the stone to the side.

A fourth man stepped in to push the massive rock away. The man closest to the entrance spilled the contents of his stomach on the ground. People covered their faces with their sleeves.

Both women stepped back when Jesus raised His hands.

He looked to the sky. “Father, thank You for hearing me. It’s for the sake of these near Me I say this so they will believe in Your power.”

He lowered His hands, looked into the blackness of the cave and shouted. “Lazarus, come out here!”

One by one folks uncovered their faces as the smell of a freshly washed baby filled the air.

A scuffling sound came from the tomb.

Lazarus hopped to the entrance and stopped.

Jesus motioned to the men. “Unwrap him. He no longer needs those graveclothes.”

Tears were streaming down Martha and Mary’s faces when they wrapped their arms around Jesus.

A cheer rose from the crowd as Lazarus walked over and hugged his sisters and Jesus.

********

As far as miracles go, they don’t get any better than this. A man has been dead so long his body is decaying. Yet, somehow Jesus brings him back to full health and vitality. In fact he’s so alive he can hop out of the tomb still wrapped like a mummy.

To make it even better there are plenty of witnesses to experience it.

[Tweet “When things are bad groan to God. When things are great give glory to God”]

I see three main lessons Jesus lived out in performing this miracle.

1. Jesus groaned about the circumstances He was in. Twice in this account John points out the fact that Jesus groaned: the first time was in verse 33 when He saw the crowd crying; the second time was in verse 38 as they’re standing in front of the tomb.

You see, groans are totally acceptable to God. Go ahead and let out any emotion you have over your situation. He knows all about it and wants to hear your heart’s cry even if all you can do is groan.

Romans 8:26 tells us the Holy Spirit groans for us to God whenever we don’t have the words to express what we long to say. So, groaning is not only acceptable to God He uses it convey our own emotions to Himself.

Keep in mind that two verses later Paul writes that all things will work together for our good and God’s glory. Yeah, even the things that make us groan.

2. Jesus reflected the glory of this event back to God the Father. Before Jesus performs this most excellent miracle He voices a prayer so everyone in attendance knows that the power He’s about to show them comes from God the Father.

Even though Jesus is God in the flesh He still knows the importance of giving the proper authority for the ultimate miracle. Jesus was just the channel God used to pull this back-to-life event off.

Don’t ever get so caught up in your own achievements you think you’re the one making it happen.

When things are bad groan to God. When things are great give glory to God.

3. Jesus didn’t shirk away from following through with this miracle no matter how absurd it seemed. Jesus didn’t call a committee together to analyse the data and get feedback about the situation before He took action.

When God called Him to bring Lazarus back to life Jesus just did it. The decayed corpse was not a hindrance to the Creator. He who made everything out of nothing can easily remake anything back to its original form.

Remember this fact when you face a difficult situation that appears to have no possible way of coming back together. Many marriages have been revived after a divorce. Several children have returned home after a horrendous lifestyle choice.

Keep praying for that miracle to happen in your life. I know I am right now.

One more thing to keep in mind about this and how it relates to us: there’s likely going to be a great stench for God to receive the ultimate glory in any situation.

When God led the Hebrew nation out of Egypt He purposely trapped them between the sea and the greatest army of that day. Why? So they would see His power as He got rid of the enemy that was pursuing them.

Many folks need to hit rock bottom before they declare their dependence on God for their strength.

It might seem counter-intuitive but let me make a suggestion here. Pray for your loved one to hit that low point in their life so they return home.

There may be a smell nobody wants to face over that approach, but it’s likely the only way God can step in to work His miracle for you.

Life is messy. Sin is terrible. Pride is stubborn. People are people. God is God.

As Martha took the chance of dealing with her stench to see God’s work you must do the same.

Let go of the situation and allow God to work where you can’t see.

Everything is working together to give God the glory and make us all more like Jesus.

It will likely get worse before it gets better.

God saves the best for last.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

I finally found my sign from God…or not.

I’ve seen a lot of signs from behind the wheel of various trucks I’ve driven for my occupation. Some are helpful. Others are funny. A few can be misconstrued.

Here’s an example of a sign I could easily read as coming directly from God to me when it actually says something entirely different.

I tell you where I do actually find what God wants me to do with my life. Hint: it ain’t found alongside the road.

 

Keep smiling.   Wade