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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Weeding a Fall Garden

My gardens are a mess.  I don't understand how, when a drought hits, flowers dry up and weeds grow like crazy.

I see very few flowers.  I see lots of weeds.

I was trying to clean things up.  -Venturing into the crisp fall air, I plunged into the overgrown garden patch.

YIKES!  What's this?????  Crazy stems of prickly seeds practically jumped out at me!  I looked down and saw my entire front: sweatshirt, hood, sweatpants, work gloves, covered in sticky burs.

Yeck!  In frustration, I pulled a weed.  Immediately, seeds caught my bangs and clung to the stray hair flying out of my ponytail.  GEESH!

This was becoming a sticky situation, but I had to ignore it.  I began to pull weeds with a vengeance. Burs were flying everywhere -- I grimaced thinking how those crummy little seeds were contaminating my pretty flower bed, as well as my whole body!!!!

I should have been keeping these weeds out of my garden all along.  Now that I've let the weeds take hold, welp, I am up for a struggle.

HMMMMMM.... Potential sermon illustration here.  These weeds are kinda like the sin in my life.

I step in to sin so easily.  I say to myself: "I'm only going to kick back here with this sin just for a minute."
Other times, I don't even stop to think at all. I'm sinning before I even notice.

-Maybe I'll make a snide remark.  Maybe I'll participate in gossip.  Maybe I'll  keep my mouth shut about believing in Jesus because I'm afraid of what others will think.

I can feel those seeds sticking to me.  Who have I hurt by my careless words?  What opportunities have I missed in my silence?

Worse yet, have my kids seen me be a weakling in the midst of public pressure?  Or... have my kids seen me stand strong and steady in the love of God?

Have my kids listened to my stupid comments and compromise?  Or...have my kids witnessed unwavering commitment and no compromise?

I'm feeling pretty seedy here.

Tonight, I am pulling each individual seed off my clothing and out of my hair.  Bit by bit, I am cleaning up.

I'm saying a prayer while I pull:

"I'm so sorry, God, for the times I think I can just 'dabble' in sin.  
Help me remember....REMEMBER to listen to you and NOT the world.  
Help me not to be so self-centered.  
Help me remember to stay in your WORD and listen to YOUR voice.  
I thank you in advance for everything you can do with this cracked pot.
 In Jesus name I pray.  AMEN."

Each choice is a seed and each consequence can be sticky.  Watch out -- you can transfer those burs to others, if you are not careful.

Tonight....the burs have gone into the light of the fire barrel.  That's the only place they are consumed.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word (Jesus) was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.  In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."    -- John 1:1-5



You can't get into the weeds...without emerging with "seedy" consequences!





Thursday, October 10, 2013

Introducing...Dr. Ben Carson

I have been an admirer of Dr. Ben Carson long before recent events have brought him to the forefront.  Dr. Ben Carson.

Years ago, I purchased a movie about Carson's life. Ben Carson Movie  My daughters and I watched it and I was spellbound by the inspiring story of this man and the wonderful commitment of his mother.  Better yet, I read later how faith in God interwove this story and I  understood:  This was a tale that needed to be shared.

I shared the movie with a child I mentor from my home town of East St. Louis.  East St. Louis is known for having the lowest per capita income in the US and probably one of the highest crime rates, but there are children there...and those children, like Dr. Ben Carson, deserve a future.  

To learn more about the great things happening in ESL see www.cacesl.org .

My little boy LOVES Dr. Ben!  

Here is a detailed report of  a talk Dr. Ben Carson recently presented in Illinois:


All had a vivid memory of Dr. Carson's poignant remarks at a prayer breakfast with President Obama sitting near by with an evident scowl on his face.

It was shortly afterwards encounter with the President that Dr. Carson was audited for the first time by the IRS.

In a lighthearted way, Dr. Carson wasted no time in noting that he's neither a Republican or a Democrat, but if he were a member of a party it would be the "logic" party.

Dr. Carson then continued to relate some amazing details about his life. When only eight years old, Carson dreamed of becoming a mission doctor. By age thirteen Carson decided to  become a psychiatrist, as he was already providing a sounding board for his fellow classmates. With a bit of bravado, Carson declared that he was going to become the greatest psychiatrist the world had ever known.

Beyond becoming a psychiatrist, Dr. Carson began to understand God had endowed him with good hand and eye coordination so why not become a terrific brain surgeon? Dr. Carson went on  to become a much heralded surgeon and philanthropist.  Dr. Ben Carson.

Dr. Carson said it is an amazing thing it was to be a member of the medical profession and to be able to contribute to the well-being of mankind

In commenting about ObamaCare and the haste in which it was put together, Carson noted this program is not about health,  but instead is about government control. It involves people at the pinnacle of power who wish to place government in charge of our lives.

It requires courage to remind elected officials that they work for us and not the other way around. Carson also bemoaned political correctness and called it "a scourge on our society." Freedom of expression is so important and is to be cherished.

Dr. Carson subtly compared what is happening in the White House to the teachings of Chicago native, Saul Alinsky, whose "Rules for Radicals," published in 1971, served as counsel to young radicals on how to change society. Two key Alinsky rules being applied by the White House through its actions and policies: 1) If you push a negative hard enough it will gain traction and become a positive and 2) Driving a wedge between people or groups of people will create class warfare and with it, division and unrest.

Dr. Carson's dream of becoming a doctor suffered a major setback when his parents divorced, prompting these thoughts about marriage. To Dr. Carson, marriage is a relationship between God and His people. "Just as the secular progressive movement is currently indicating that it's fine for a child to say that 2 + 2 = 5 if the child is able to explain why this is so -- as sanctioned through Common Core initiatives -- so secular progressives are likewise pushing the idea that homosexual marriage is fine and dandy by summarily dismissing the covenant between God and His people," he said.

Although there exists a legal way to establish a homosexual union, secular progressives seem intent on changing what is a pillar of our society -- traditional marriage between one man and one woman. Anyone who doesn't believe as they do are called haters, Carson said.

Dr. Carson was an object of such derision when a "Chik-fil-a" -like attempt was made to paint Carson as a homophobic, only to be backed away from when the accusation about Carson proved to be unfounded.

Carson reminded the audience not to be afraid of those who try to discredit what they firmly believe, for God is with them and will provide the strength and the courage needed to prevail.

Regarding Dr. Carson's mother who had only a 3rd grade education, she decided after her divorce that welfare was not for her.  She did not want to become a victim,  knowing that handouts zap motivation.

Although it would have been easier for Carson's mother to sit down and wait for a handout, she took her two sons out into the country, knocking on doors of farmers, to inquire whether she and her two sons could pick apples, beans, or whatever else might have been available and in season. A three to one deal was offered. "We will pick four bushels, giving you three and taking home with us one bushel," his mother told the farmers    Through canning, there was plenty to eat in the Carson household.

Dr. Carson applauded Bishop Lance Davis of the Black Chicago Alliance for standing up against homosexual marriage. He applauded efforts to help African Americans to become strong, productive members of society.

Young black youth must also be schooled in economics, specifically, how to bring the dollar back into their communities to create jobs and develop entrepreneurship, Carson said.

He said, unfortunately, young people are being taught to be victims. He noted that young people speak about victimhood, content to receive Democratic handouts to insure loyalty to party, not realizing that such dependence on government rather than self will only result in continued feelings of victimhood.

As to the plight of this nation's education system, Dr. Carson painted a rather dismal picture, one in which this nation's students rank 22nd out of 23rd among the richest countries surveyed in solving math and scientific problems. He mentioned additional worrisome figures: 30% of young people don't graduate from high school, and 40% end up taking more than four years to finish college.

"In this technological era we live in, this nation has a great need for physics and math majors," he said.

"Students must be encouraged to sign up for the difficult courses required for preparation to become engineers and scientists, which call for more work and study. Education standards started slipping when this nation's moral compass went down the tubes."

Carson, a great student of history, noted when Alexis de Tocqueville, an aristocratic Frenchman, visited this nation in 1831 to see what made democracy tick, he found a superior educational system where students were completely literate by the 2nd grade.

This explained how pioneers could go from one part of the country to another. They knew how to invest and to solve problems. By middle school in the 1800s, students could answer questions that most college students would be unable to answer today, and we live in an age of technology!

There is a way for this nation to catch up very quickly in education through virtual classrooms where millions of students can be exposed to expert instruction simultaneously, Carson encouraged. "Students must return to a place where they are able to fit into a larger puzzle and not be islands unto themselves.

Spirituality must also be returned to become a guiding factor in their lives. With God removed, the void has been filled with worldly things, which has led to theft, selfishness, lack of respect and murder, etc."

Political correctness was shown for what it is and condemned by Dr. Carson. Individuals can easily be led astray by those intent on spreading false information presented as truth, which explains why this nation must concentrate on getting its people educated again. This doesn't mean to eliminate sports and entertainment from our lives, but these should not crowd out efforts at educating students with the Truth, so misinformation can be spotted and rejected.

Dr. Carson said he hated poverty.  In the 5th grade Ben Carson moved back to Detroit to live in tenement conditions. Upon observing people being shot dead in his own neighborhood, Carson deduced that he might not survive long enough to become a doctor.

In attending school in Detroit, Carson was considered stupid, but he did admire the bright students who always knew the answers, wondering how they became so smart. Carson's mother prayed that her young sons would receive wisdom through learning.

With only a third grade education Carson's mother couldn't read, but the boys didn't know this at the time. By requiring her boys to check out two books weekly from the local library and write book reports -- which she only pretended to read.

Carson found knowledge enabled him to answer questions like the smart kids in his class and to likewise become "smart".

It dawned on Dr. Carson that he had the brain, but it was necessary he change his attitude. After this revelation, Ben was no longer bothered by being poor, for he had the power to chart what course he wanted to follow in life.

Dr. Carson said,just like he changed his life with God's help,  we can change this nation.  He noted it takes courage to stand up for what we believe, as was displayed by patriot Nathan Hale.

During the American Revolution, before being hung by the British, Hale declared, "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country"

He noted Patrick Henry intoned those famous words: "Give me Liberty or give me Death."

It is Dr. Carson's conviction that God has looked out for this nation from her very beginning, that He loves this nation and has allowed her to rise rapidly to reach her pinnacle of power and success. But just as quickly, we can lose our nation if we forget to focus on God.

Dr. Carson closed with these three thoughts:

___We became a great nation because values and principles were taught with the Bible serving as a guiding force.
___When this nation ceases to be good, it will fail.
___We can't be free unless we are brave, for as the final words signify in our National Anthem, The Star Spangled Banner:  "O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!"

Dr. Benjamin Carson has five books to his credit. American the Beautiful: Rediscovering What Made This Nation Great is worth purchasing as it provides inspiration and insight for leading a successful life.

Interruptions....God's Lessons

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
 present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
-- Philippians 4:6-7
  
I meant to write an article last week. I got interrupted.

Interruptions can be unsettling. Interruptions can be scary. Interruptions can be growing.

I got a call: Emergency surgery. Dad’s sick. Not good.

Jesus was really good at dealing with interruptions. I’m not so good.

When tragic or uncomfortable interruptions came Jesus’ way, He prayed. After praying, sometimes He moved with swift certainty. At other times, He waited. One time, Jesus even cried.

Sitting here next to the hospital bed, I’m thinking it’s good to be ready for this stuff. It’s bound to happen. -Why should we be so shocked?

I listen to the buzz and bubble of IV and oxygen. I hold dad’s hand.

I know, down the hall, my neighbors are holding hands and whispering goodbyes and also dealing with a sad interruption.

Hmmmm, what should I do?

Philippians 4 makes it clear. Don’t waste time being anxious, but, in every situation, pray and say, “thank you.”

Follow Jesus lead. Pray, think, cry a bit (maybe), and then…take another step. After you do that, the Bible promises, you will experience…peace.

I close my eyes and pray. Suddenly, a thought comes to me.

My dad loves to sing. There's not much music here. I start singing, “Yes, Jesus loves me.”

Someone joins in.

While attached to wires and tubes and pumps, my dad is singing “Jesus loves me.”  All of a sudden, in the midst of this uncomfortable interruption, I feel….peace.
                                                               
 Next: From IV tubes to coffee cups…Stories of restoration.



Interruptions....God's Lessons cont... IV Tubes to Coffee Cups...A story of restoration


I never drank coffee much when I was young. University late-nights were fueled by cocoa.

Morning brew is not mandatory for me even now, but, there are cozy occasions where a cup of coffee is part of the culture…or so it is with my family.

Dad drinks coffee all day, all night, really. Coffee was one of the things he lost in the intensive care unit, along with his strength and his stamina and his freedom.

The day they gave coffee back to dad was a stellar day. Dad got coffee back, along with a slow gait walk to an easy chair and a sitting up pose, -What a glorious day that was!

Last week I talked about interruptions. You know the ones, the ones that make your heart race a bit and a lump form in your throat. That’s when a cup of coffee can calm you down…along with a gentle nudge from your Savior.

My article started last week with my dad in the Intensive Care Unit tied to oxygen and IV tubes. It ends today in a Convalescent Center, with me sitting opposite dad and his cup of coffee.

Dad and I hoist our cups and give a toast….to restoration…and to a great God.
 
-- Do you have a story of a bleak time followed by a time of restoration? Share it with me at watwelsh@aol.com! Your story may have a sad ending, but can still carry a message of restoration.
    

The point is, God can take our messes and make them a message, if we give our lives to HIM.
    
Do you have a message to share? Let me know!

Dad and I are sitting here drinking coffee, waiting to hear from you!