Friday, September 30, 2005

Let It Be Known...

I am not complaining when I sarcastically make comments about loving our fall weather here in Texas. I would prefer it to be hot year-round. If my wife would let me, I would move to somewhere on the equator, where I would never have to worry about cold days.

Honestly, when the mercury dips below 70F, I start digging out sweaters and long-sleeves. I'm just not a cold weather person, and right now (Trish) I am living as far north as I care to be. When it starts to cool down in the fall, I try not to venture any further north than Waco, and even that's too far. Thanks for the invite, but from now until mid-July, I'll just "hunker down" for the Texas winter, and pray for no more than a week of sub 50F weather. I only venture north of Waco from July-September 1.

I like mowing my lawn over the Christmas holidays.
I like playing golf wearing shorts in mid-January.
I like not having to scrape ice off my windshield.
I like not having to shovel snow.
I like having to apply sunscreen and weekends at the lake, even in February.
I love Texas summers....the hotter, the better.

We had a cool front blow through yesterday, which will make our high today a "cool" 90F, tomorrow 94F. Suits me just fine...

Monday, September 26, 2005

I love our Fall weather

I love our Fall weather… We broke another temperature record today. Yesterday’s temp was only 102F. My car's thermometer recorded 110F on the road home. It really is that hot today.

That’s what I love about Texas!

Saturday, September 24, 2005

The Weather, My Dad, and People Over-Reacting

Anytime there was major weather or a major news event in our area, I could count on a call from my father. Dad would call if he heard there was rain, a tornado, or front coming through. He loved the weather, and taught me to observe the weather too. He was a navigator in the Air Force, and I was one on a ship in the Coast Guard, so we shared an affinity for weather and cloud observation. We could both identify clouds, their composition, and their altitude. He could forecast short-term weather better than the news meteorologists. He taught me the movement of weather patterns, and could calculate what time an approaching storm would hit. I'm lucky that his knowledge passed on to me as well.

This week has brought Hurricane Rita to the Texas coast. In Central Texas a week ago, they were predicting the storm would pass through here and forecasting 50 mph winds and lots of rain. All of the tracking models were showing the path coming right through here, so we were preparing for some major weather.

On Thursday, even Ft. Hood (30 miles west of here and where my office is) announced that the entire post would close and only "essential personnel" like police, fire and EMS would be allowed access. They closed the PX, both financial institutions, food outlets, etc. So now, with the biggest threat to us being 20-25 mph winds, the whole post was locked down this morning, but they decided to open the Exchange, shoppettes, commissary, and gas stations at noon today. There is still an elevated alert and official safety alerts are posted.

Gasoline is in short supply all along Interstate 35, and places here in Temple are awaiting new supplies. People really freaked out, and went on a frenzy buying up all the water and batteries they could find. In the meantime, I knew all along there would be no danger to us, except maybe a gas shortage. The most I did was secure my patio furniture, and stow my barbecue pit and some loose items on the back porch so the wind wouldn't blow them around. We're not even going to benefit here from some of the rain on the fringes of Rita. So this morning, I turned the sprinkler on in the front, and watered all my plants in the back.

The thing I thought the most about though, is that I've talked to my brother from Katy, my brother from Oklahoma, my sister in Austin, and my sister and mom San Antonio this week. The weather connected us like it has all of our lives. Even though my dad isn't here to call us all, we've just called each other because there's a hurricane. And we were all concerned about my brother who lives near Houston who's now tucked away safely at my mom's house in San Antonio.

I've enjoyed being outside today. It's a little strange with 90 degree temps, and 20 mph winds. This morning the winds reminded me of an approaching front in the fall. It was cool enough to fool us, but now it's hot, and the wind is warm and dry. Even my front yard I watered this morning looks dry again. The wind and heat are causing some pretty rapid evaporation.

I love weather, and I love watching the sky. Today has made me feel close to my family, and I can feel my dad's appreciation of the weather situation. Lots of things remind me of him, but the weather especially does...especially when it makes all us siblings call each other. I think I'll call my sister in Colorado now.

Friday, September 23, 2005

The Thing About Grace

I was on pins and needles yesterday waiting to hear from my brother and his family that were on their way to San Antonio from Houston. Linda and I prayed for them the evening before and the morning they left. We had to put our concerns in God's hands and believe they would arrive safely. They did.
While I don't know if my prayers actually made God stop what he was doing, and say, "OK, I was going to let them wreck if you hadn't asked me." I don't know if my prayers made God dispatch a few more republican angels to watch over them. And I don't know that God made a force field around them just because I prayed. But I do believe this, that He was aware of my prayers, and I found comfort in knowing that He has the ultimate say, and He will be there for me no matter what.
I do know that He is all I can hold on to, and that He has yet to forsake me, even though many might have looked and thought He did. I'm thankful for His grace working in my life, and that I can place my faith in Him. I know tests and difficult times will always be there, only grace can get me through.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

I Wanna Play Tag

Why don't adults play tag? Linda and I took our two grandkids, A.J. and Izzy, to the park this morning. I love to go to the park with Izzy, and today it was twice as special because we have A.J. for the weekend (our 5 year-old). They had no sooner let their little feet hit the ground coming out of the car, that they started running to the playground. There were a dozen or so kids there playing, all of them unfamiliar faces, but within a couple of minutes, they had joined in a game of tag. Just like walls, no issues, no trying to size up or assess another kid's politics or religious background. Color didn't matter either. It was simply, "Play now, ask questions later."

I watched them run and play, all the while they were laughing and screaming with the fun they were having. No one got mad because they were "it." When my grandson tripped while being chased, the little boy who was "it" stopped and said, "Time can't be tagged if you fall." As soon as he got up and dusted off, the kid tagged him! It was hilarious.

I looked at Linda and asked, "Why don't adults play like that? Why don't we play tag?" We're too preoccupied with all the things we think are important to start a game of tag. We take life too seriously to start having fun. Wouldn't it be fun if one day at work we all just decided to go outside and engage in a game of tag?

I think I'll start a game inside on Monday, and see where it goes...

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

A Spiritual View of Katrina

I woke up this morning with a question on my heart: Why is there so much HATE aroused about Hurricane Katrina, the War in Iraq, conservative Christians, and President Bush in particular? Why are the liberals reaching a fever-pitched frenzy of blame and accusations about how the events of last week have unfolded? Why is the hatred and anger spreading like wildfire?

The answer is simple: it's a spiritual issue.

While the war and the election of the President was man's choice, the hurricane was a natural disaster that no person or organization could have possibly caused. Global warming? I don't think so; tell that to the victims of hurricanes going back for centuries. It was simply a natural occurrence, an act of meteorology, not controllable or preventable by anything man is capable of now. The anger and lashing out is spiritual.

The hurricane’s effects on this nation have just begun to be felt. Not only is our entire nation going to be affected economically, physically, and emotionally, but the spiritual impact will be felt for generations, even eternally for some. Many will come to God for answers, and many will find Him. No wonder the enemy has unleashed such a horde of demonic activity, full of hatred, and propagated by those who adamantly and obstinately oppose Christianity.

There is a greater war at hand than the one in Iraq. It is a war for the soul of our nation, and every warrior in Satan’s army has been given a free rein to divide our nation, separate the weak and destroy their souls. The bible tells us that “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Eph 6:12.

We are in a war. The enemy is Satan and his army of demons. THe battle lines are drawn and we have the power to overtake the enemy if we do not get into a defensive position. The best defense is a good offense. We must offensively fight this battle with prayer and intercession for this nation, especially for those who are so bent on division. Pray for their hearts to soften. Pray for them to hear the message of hope with an open heart. Pray for them to find God’s love through those of us who have the opportunity to show it to them.

Fighting a fleshly battle does no good. Arguing and trying to reason with the ones who spread their hate with words and venom will not change their minds. Lowering ourselves to their level with cheap shots and name-calling doesn’t show the love of Christ, which is what they need most. We are at a spiritual crossroad, and how we choose to fight will have eternal consequences.

There are many practical things that are being done as a nation who is struggling to pull together and overcome the enormous obstacles cause by the wind, waves, and the flooding. There are many other “rescuers” being called during this time to mobilize with prayer and intercession. We must not forget the power that prayer has to change even the direst of circumstances.

Pray for the hearts of the refugees. Yes, I will use the politically incorrect term. A refugee is simply someone who is seeking a safe place or taking refuge. Is “evacuee” any better a description? Why do we have to split hairs over semantics? Pray that they seek and find the heart of God in this matter. Pray that they do not get overtaken with bitterness and blame. Pray that they turn their hearts to seek refuge from a Holy God, who alone can heal their hearts and truly save them.

Pray for the hearts of those called out with the task of evacuation of the rest of the city, and cleanup of the destruction. Pray that they will also find refuge and comfort in the hands of the Father. Pray for their safety as they undertake a dangerous task, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Pray for their strength as they uncover the dead and face an overwhelming test of their emotions and will. Pray that they will see the hand of God in this terrible situation.

Pray for the hearts of those that choose to use their hurt and anger to lash out with division and harsh words. Pray that in seeking answers, they will find none in their outrage and anger. Pray that their hatred not reach those that are hurting, but that the confusion and blind rage would be quelled by love. Pray that the blindness would be removed and they can see what God is doing. And pray for their hurts, that they too will be comforted.

And most of all, pray for the hearts of our leaders on all levels of government. They need our support and encouragement, not hate and blame. Pray that they also will be moved by God and they can see the truth. Pray that their hearts would be softened by the outpouring of love from the people of God. Pray that their hearts would be led by the Lord, and the hard decisions they have to make would be preceded by prayer and seeking God. Pray that as they seek God they will find him, and they too will be comforted.

We MUST remember that spiritual issues cannot be fought with any words except those words we lift to God in prayer. We cannot afford to fight with those who are politically or philosophically opposed to us. They are not the enemy, Satan is. I encourage you with these words. If you are spiritual, pray. Pray like your life depended on it, because it does.

Monday, September 05, 2005

HOUSING Opportunities for Katrina Survivors

I came across this website today. If you have housing for any survivors, please go to this site and register.

HOUSING Opportunities for Katrina Survivors

You can register what you have available, number of rooms, how many people you can take, how long you can provide housing, and whether or not you can provide transportation from a designated area. There is also a place you can leave a more detailed description of what you have available. The local resources (Salvation Army, Red Cross, etc.) are getting overwhelmed, and I haven't even gotten a return call from them yet. I'm going to go down there physically and volunteer today.

If anyone can help me provide a more permanent link underneath my title, please contact me and help me out.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

In the Wake of Katrina, What are We Going to Do?

I am profoundly moved by the events of the past week concerning Hurricane Katrina, and its impact on us as a nation. I have wept over the destruction of property and lives, but I have also been greatly dismayed at the blame and division so many have been fostering and propagating. The right of free speech carries with it an enormous responsibility.

Ted K. gave the sermon in our church meeting today. He opened with a story about a lesson he learned when he was 14. Some ladies at the church were “passing around” a baby for everyone to hold. Someone passed it to Ted and as soon as he took hold of him, he smelled “the mother load.” He promptly returned the baby to its mommy for a changing. As poop can be, it was a rather strong smell, and it lingered even after Ted had given the baby back. Even after he went outside, he continued to smell the poopy baby, and when he looked down at his shirt, he realized why. The baby had leaked a little onto his shirt. The lesson he learned from this was simple: “If it stinks everywhere you go, it’s probably you.” People that blame everything on someone else maybe need to look at themselves.

It’s human nature to blame. In Genesis 3:11, we find Adam answering God about eating of the forbidden fruit. Adam responds to God, blaming the only 2 other people he knew; Eve and God. “It’s not my fault. You made the woman and she listened to the serpent.” Even Adam passed the buck, rather than taking any personal responsibility.

“When we start blaming, we cut off the flow of solutions.” – Ted

In John 9: 1-5, we read the story of Jesus healing a blind man. This is the story from The Message Bible:
Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked, "Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?" Jesus said, "You're asking the wrong question. You're looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent me here, working while the sun shines. When night falls, the workday is over. For as long as I am in the world, there is plenty of light. I am the world's Light."
He said this and then spit in the dust, made a clay paste with the saliva, rubbed the paste on the blind man's eyes, and said, "Go, wash at the Pool of Siloam" (Siloam means "Sent"). The man went and washed--and saw.

When we try to place blame on others we become blind to what God can do. When we become blind to what others are doing, we can focus on what God can do.” – Ted

Notice Jesus’ answer: “You’re asking the wrong question…” Jesus told his disciples that trying to figure out “why” or whose fault it was didn’t matter. The real question is looking instead for what God can do, and to energetically get to work while it was time to work.

In the case of the wake of Katrina, there has been a lot of blame being thrown around that is extremely counter-productive. It is dividing the people of this great nation who really need to come together, putting aside our political and philosophical differences and work “while the sun shines.”

Who cares who’s fault it is? It doesn’t matter anymore.” –Ted

What’s important now is not what has or hasn’t been done, but what we can do as a nation now. It’s time to heal, time to work together, and time for us to console the grieving and give what we can to help the victims.

This disaster was natural, not man-made. The aftermath of the disaster is what we choose for it to become. The destruction Katrina left is a wound on our nation. We will all feel the effects, both short-term, like paying more for gasoline, and long term; economically, spiritually, and emotionally. We still have the power as a nation to make a difference for the good of all. Petty animosity, blaming political leaders, and name calling isn’t going to heal our nation. Prayer, hard work, and stepping out of our comfort-zone will; but only if we, as a nation, are willing to put aside our politics and hatred.

If I saw someone drowning, I would not stop and ask their politics before extending a hand to rescue them. I wouldn’t even care. I would just try to save the person, even if it meant putting myself in danger. I am of the opinion that taking care of what needs to be done first is more important than discussing why it happened and trying to put the blame on someone. I am committed to doing whatever I can to help heal our nation. Spiritually, I must pray. Economically, I must give what I can. And practically, I must roll up my sleeves and volunteer my efforts, my home, my car, or whatever it takes. I am going to do my part. I implore us all to do the same.