Monday, July 10, 2017

What's Next, Papa?

The resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It's adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike "What's next, Papa?" God's Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what's coming to us--an unbelievable inheritance! ~ Romans 8: 15-17

Nearly six years ago, the night before Sandy and I left for the country of China, Justin and Erika revealed they were pregnant with our first grandchild. Eight months later when Wyatt was born we were still living in China. Ugh! Since returning to the U.S. we have spent every moment with him we could, but those moments were separated by months and fifteen-hundred miles.

Three weeks ago Wyatt and our second grandchild--newborn Travis, moved less than two miles from us! Now, living in the wide-open spaces and the sparse populace of country life everything is completely different from anything Wyatt experienced living among the compressed population and tall buildings of metro-Boston. So contrasted is his new environment the only commonality between the two locals is the English language. Wyatt and I spend time together every day, and each day is an adventure.

While driving to Auburn, Alabama early this morning I listened to the Scripture passage at the top of this post. The phrase, What's next, Papa? grabbed my attention. It reminded me of the relationship Wyatt and I share. It's a special one; my first with a grandchild. He calls me Papa. Loves me. Trusts me. Feels no timidity in approaching me. Draws vibrant life from me. Always expects that in my company he is on the cusp of an adventure.

I'm not sure how many miles or minutes passed, but I found myself saying out loud: What's next, Papa? It was a spontaneous and heartfelt prayer, spoken to my Heavenly Father. Simultaneously, it was my confession by verbalizing a deep longing, What's next, Papa. I want to live in the presence of my Heavenly Papa with the same trust and confidence and vibrancy of life...

In that instant God' heard my unfiltered plea. His Spirit touched my spirit and confirmed who I really am, whose I really am, and what I really am. I am His. Dearly loved. He is my Papa. He delights in me.  

  








Friday, July 7, 2017

Family Time...

Sammy and Josh, Justin and Erika and Wyatt and Travis are at our house. Josh prepared a great dinner! Wyatt has anxiously awaited the arrival of Friday night. All week he has been waiting for uncle Josh (aka Bapo) to get here with the pyrotechnics. As soon it got dark we lit up the sky over the pond with a fireworks display of bottle rockets, Roman candles, and other whirling and twirling ! Wyatt is getting full exposure to free America here in the southeast.

As the sun was setting, I was fishing and Wyatt picked up one of our kids rod and reel; it had about a half inch of dried worm on the hook. I showed him how to cast with it, and on his own he slung a bobber and his mummified worm into the pond. It barely had time to sink when a massive brim <insert smile> grabbed it! I helped him set the hook and he reeled it in! On my FB page you can see a video of the monster he landed. Our little guy was thrilled!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

God keeps his promises...

"Grandma, I'm here!" Those were Wyatt's words when he came bouncing in the front door this afternoon. Life has changed for the little guy; he's living in the country. Up to this point his entire life was lived in the Boston area; most recently in Chelsea. Parks and playgrounds were many blocks away. Now, he walks out his door into wide-open green space, fig trees, magnolia trees, and lush pecan trees. When he comes to The Shire he rides his electric truck and bicycle. We have a kiddie pool and slip-and-slide that is rarely dry. He loves to get on the four-wheelers with his dad and Papa and cruise through the woods and ford shallow creeks.

Wyatt loves to learn. Grandma got him a book with 3D trucks and cars he pops out and builds. Every time we are together we spend an hour or more in his big workbook, Brainiac: learning phonics; telling time; navigating through children's mazes, and practicing writing and reading. Entirely motivated by an inner desire, Wyatt needs no prompting or cajoling. He loves Sundays. Today he emerged from children's church excitedly saying, "Papa, I made some new friends!"

The Old Testament speaks to God returning the years the locust have eaten. Having our little guy two-miles away, for this Papa, is a fulfillment of God's promise...

Friday, June 9, 2017

Passed By Naval Censor

On the anniversary of D-Day I received a serendipitous text and blessing. My cousin, the son of my father's sister, Helena, contacted me. Jerry had letters from my dad his mom had kept safe for decades. Jerry sent them to me and they arrived today.

Dad enlisted in the U. S. Navy as a sub-mariner at 17 years old (he had to have his parents sign a waiver). I've been perusing them, imagining the voice of my father as a teenager. Post marks on the first of the letters date back to 1942 and were sent from Portsmouth, N. H. where dad began training. Seventeen years old... how does one of such naivety and innocence prepare to wage war in a world that is at war?

Letters began back-and-forth around Christmas time.H e was a homesick teenager far from his hometown of dirt roads, pastures, and potato fields. Tremendous melancholy washed over him when he heard the song "White Christmas." Several times he referenced the Christmas season as "White Christmas." He used the word "awful" a lot. In one of his letters, the man's genuine gratitude and humility (which he never lost) comes through as he thanks Helena, who is older than him, for sending him a pen and pencil set. "He was awful thankful." Up to that point he had been borrowing a pencil from a friend...

As the war raged on, dad and Helena continued to write. By 1944 he was fully engaged in warfare. From a steel tube beneath the waves of the Pacific Ocean and China Seas dad's sub played a big part in finishing a fight the Japanese started. They would receive a Presidential Citation for Bravery.

In the lower left corner of each correspondence between dad and Helena during 43-44 was a hand-stamped circle that read, Passed By Naval Censors. Every correspondence was screened. Loose lips sink ships.

Seven decades have passed... Dad has passed... But today he spoke again...



 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Judge Righteously

Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy. ~ Proverbs 31:8-9

Today, out of the blue, I found myself at a Detention Center. There a man, who has been in the U.S. for more than two decades, is incarcerated. Scooped up by ICE. I had never met him before.

Yesterday, I preached on the text in this post. It's human origin is a bit of a mystery. It was penned by a king named Lemuel. It is the only reference to such a person. It is the only time such a king is mentioned. There is no king Lemuel to be found in the line of kings in Scripture. The Divine author of those words is God himself. I'm confident He has not changed His mind on the subject.

Two words in the passage smack me--judge righteously. This man of whom I speak has a family he has faithfully supported, a history of integrity, and none of criminality. At the very least, he is as "American" as any ever born on our soil. But he is behind bars--not the kind with neon lights and shelves full of distilled spirits.

Me, at the present, I'm stuffing down absolute rage. I'm old enough and wise enough to know there can sometimes be a great gulf fixed between "law" and "righteous judgement." His incarceration is devoid of righteous judgment.

I open my mouth and scream on his behalf, but my voice at the present is barely a whisper. I open my mouth and cry for justice, but my words don't have the ear of the Powers to Be.

So what can I do? I cry out to the One who hears me on behalf of the destitute. I call upon the One who can defend the needy. That is not a cop-out. It's the response we, as God-followers, are commanded (not suggested) to do.






Thursday, May 11, 2017

Little Travis

The day before Sandy and I left for China, in 2011, Erika and Justin told us they were pregnant with our first grandchild, the Amazing Wyatt (aka Wolf Cub). His arrival was nine months away. When the little guy entered the big world we were still in Asia, so it was bittersweet. But we have learned to trust God's Providence. Now, in a little more than a month, Justin, Erika, and Wyatt are moving to Cataula, GA.; two miles from The Shire! But that is not all. Erika just gave birth to baby Travis. Wyatt is now a big brother!

Sandy flies to Boston tomorrow; she is beside herself! We are so grateful she will be able to see newborn Travis fresh out of the hatchery! Our newest Shorey boy is as cute and cuddly as can be; steady streams of pictures have been arriving via cyberspace. In a few weeks I fly to Boston and help Justin pack a U-haul for the move to their new home in the southeast! It seems too good to be true.

Already my mind is swirling with the prospect of being "Papa" to those two little guys! Acres and acres of woods and pastures await them. Just as I was with Wyatt, when he caught his first fish out of our pond, I hope to see Travis glow with excitement when the fish line goes taut and a bass thrashes on the surface! Rites of passages must take place: it is time for Wyatt to pass down his electric F150 pick-up truck to little brother. But new adventures await the Wolf Cub!

In the meantime, I'm finding it difficult to focus on anything else...






Sunday, April 16, 2017

Little Is Much...

I do not know who originally coined the words, Little is much when God is in it. But this morning exactly 100 people gathered at Hamilton Baptist Church to focus on and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. For us, it was like one of Jesus' miracles during his incarnation--the multiplication of the five loaves and two fish.

How So?

Two years ago about twenty of us gathered in the sanctuary on Easter morning. I think there were five little ones in children's church and nursery. Since then a handful of those people stayed by the stuff, prayed, and believed God could resurrect His church in Hamilton, Georgia.

Today, it was all hands on deck. Rural churches do not have the luxury of bulging budgets and multiple paid church staff. At HBC, even their pastor is tri-vocational. But everybody was prayed up, their sleeves were rolled-up, and they pitched in. Folks we had never before met gathered for brunch preceding the Worship hour at 11 a.m. Shortly after the bell in the steeple rang out children's church was at high capacity. Volunteers cared for them and ministered to them. Our worship team sang songs exalting Jesus Christ. At times, I was overwhelmed with emotion--the words blurred, and I was left speechless. As the Word of God was read and delivered listeners were tracking with the message. It was a special gathering.

We concluded with the Aaronic Blessing found in the Old Testament and prayed over God's people for millennia:

The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make His face shine on you and be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His face on you and give you peace. ~ Numbers 6:24-26

Indeed He has...

The LORD blessed us
The LORD made His face shine on us
The LORD was gracious to us
The LORD looked on us and gave us peace

Little is much when God is in it, and today God made much of little...