Thursday, December 14, 2017

only in reruns will they be best remembered

“Good morning Beautiful,” was the way Paul Drake always greeted Della Street, not a sexual harassment, but a statement of truth between two friends.  Perry’s office officially closed with her passing this year.  The guilty until Perry can prove them innocent will have to find solace elsewhere.  Joe Mannix has also retired, someone else will have to take the beatings to find his clients innocent.  Fees variable, sometimes optional.  Robin will be going to the Batpole alone from now on, the Caped Crusader, made his last trip down it into eternity.  Wally’s Filling Station has gone to self serve now, both Gomer and Goober are gone, “shazzam!”  Say hey to Andy for me.  I hope that some were able to find something to laugh about at Mary Richard’s funeral, she did at Chuckle’s the Clown’s, after the last time Mr. Fe Fi Fo fell down on his fu fu.  Or maybe you remember her better as Laura Petry, “oh Rob....”  The Tate residence is now without a butler, as Benson has gone on, too.  Who will fix the Major’s meals now?  Joanie Cunningham leaves behind a brother or two, or was it three?  Do you remember the two Chucks?  Then Came Bronson rode off and now will never return....Jeff Spencer, leaves behind a beautiful widow, Ann-Margret, and a list of clients, the doors locked at 77 Sunset Strip forever.  Kookie will have to lend his comb to someone else.  No one will be around to keep Robin Master’s estate in line, as Higgins is gone, I just can’t see Magnum feeding the lads, can you?  “Hokey smoke,” the voice of Rocky will never be heard again.  And a whole new generation of movie goers will be introduced to Turner Classic Movies by a new host, I will miss “Hi, I’m Robert Osborn,” who brought some class to the old movies I love the most.  Finally the original Rhinestone Cowboy rides off into the sunset, the Wichita lineman no longer on the line.  Who will insult us and have us loving it no that CPO Sharkey has gone ashore for good? 
Characters that have become friends from watching them on TV for years, some for generations, now are gone.  We can only wish them Godspeed now, as behind each character portrayed, was a real person, many we never got to know, and many different than the one they played.  But thanks to reruns, Gomer will still be chasing after Barney yelling “citizens arrest, citizens arrest,” Bruce Wayne will still take care of a young Dick Grayson, Mary Richards will still be making a nothing day seem worthwhile.  They may be gone, but will live on as long as there are reruns, and an audience to watch them.  Maybe a better time capsule of history than the textbooks read now, a true look at the cars, the styles, the prices, and a way life left behind.  Something the disciples had to face when Jesus was crucified....
Without reruns, Netflix, or MeTV, they had to depend on the holy spirit to take the message of Jesus Christ to the next generation.  It was up to them to spread the gospel as they had heard it and seen it.  There were no made up for TV audience stories, no mini-series, or season ending cliff hangers, they lived a life that no drama could ever duplicate, that no screenwriter could express.  But we find it in scripture, as in Acts we see the church born and emerging.  We read Paul’s letters and see x-rated persecution, that would only be found on late night HBO.  Special effects may be able to duplicate a man walking with two men, then suddenly gone, or a voice from heaven giving Paul directions.  The manger would be a Holiday Inn, or Marriott, some would play Joe and Mary, but who would play Jesus?  You see there are those that act for a living, but Jesus was who he said he was, no one can ever play him.  No one would go to the cross for those that hated him, choose a bunch of losers socially and mold them into the team that would be responsible for spreading the gospel.  No curtain calls for Stephen, the 7 sons of Skeva, Titus, Timothy, or Dr. Luke.  They were real, and the story they tell today is from the best selling book of all times.  The first book to be printed, that has never had to go into reruns, the original cannot be replaced.
But we know these men and women of the Bible only as written, we never got to know what kind of home Job’s wife ran, what Martha and Mary did when not entertaining celebrities,  we never see Paul make a tent, or Peter catch fish.  We never sit in on with James and John as they plan to overthrow the government, never see Luke make a house call, or Matthew collect taxes.  We forget they were all people too, and had the same problems we face, and how Jesus changed their lives, and how he changes ours.  No script to read from, this was life, and living.  We never even get to see Jesus grow up, go to preschool, go out for any team, or have to do his homework.  Yet we think we know so much about him from what is written, yet we know so little.  Fortunately we will have heaven to get to know him perfectly....
So with the passing of this year, we have lost many in real life, but the legend of their characters live on.  Does the character of Jesus live in your life?  Or is he a Sunday drama or even a sitcom?  Is he a documentary, a mini-series, or a greatest hits album?  Did you miss him the first time around and are waiting for the sequel?  Or is he just a character in a book?  Get to know him today, and start living, don’t wait for the movie, get to know the author.  No signed editions, no DVD collection, he is alive via his spirit for all who are tuning in, his message going out all over the globe.  Are you tuned in?  Tuning in....if only we let Jesus into our lives as we did all these people every week.
This is my last posting of 2017, so I will say thanks for all the prayers and support.  But mostly to my editor and publisher, Jesus Christ, whom I write to everyday.  You get a glimpse of my letters to him, don’t miss out on the letters he has for you.  Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and “say goodnight Gracie...”  his grace will be sufficient next year too.
love with compassion,
ps...and lest we forget, Princess Leia, Patty Lane, Martin Lane, Carol Brady, Napoleon Solo, Jason Seaver, Wilbur Post, Dennis Becker, Zacherle, Fish/Tessio, Schneider, and Grizzly Adams.  People we know best in character.  Whoever said there was nothing to watch on TV?

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood

Every once in a while, usually when things are going my way, I think I’ve got this thing called life figured out.  Then something happens, and derails my train of tranquility, and I am faced with the reality of how much I don’t know, and how much I depend on God.  One day I am excited about the new appliances we are getting-am I getting old and domesticated? The next minute contemplating having to replace my whole downstairs due to the water on the floor from the fridge leaking, it was hooked up wrong, and it flooded.  One minute enjoying the gifts of God the next minute wondering where he is, why did he let this happen?  I have this dream of living happily ever after, it seems the ever after part is farther off more often lately.  And after 24 days of hassling with vendors, installers, people who should be doing their job, insurance companies, and their estimators, today it is finally settled.  We will be getting a new floor, which should make any homeowner happy, but we didn’t want a new floor, we liked the old one.  If we had wanted a new floor, well, I think you get the picture.....
But being patient, or rather impatient, God has brought us through another chapter in our lives.  Because of our flood, I have been able to share the Lord and encourage two men.  One came to checkout the damage for my insurance company, and he poured his heart out about his family, a strong Catholic, he trusts God, but still hurts.  His wife left him and turned his two daughters against him, and it is Christmas time.....the other seeking God, just not knowing it, who serves the homeless, out of compassion, and doesn’t see how Jesus is changing his life, all without him knowing it.  It reunited us with an old friend, who gave us good advice on the floor, which we are taking, and we will have enough money to replace the old countertops.  A new kitchen, paid for by the insurance money, free and clear, all because our floor flooded, because a man didn’t check a valve and it leaked.  And who says the ways of God aren’t mysterious....
Last week I got a letter from a man who is in jail with a brother of mine, who is seeking God, but has a lot of pain in his life.  All he wants is to find peace, drugs and motorcycles didn’t do it, and now has PTSD.  I can associate with that, the PTSD.  Sharing his letter with the group I pastor, they are reaching out to him in love, first in prayer, and then by writing.  They want to encourage him in Christ, they too have a background in drugs, bad decisions, and loneliness.  Add being homeless and hungry without hope, they have been there, and want to reach out to him.  All because an inmate who knows Jesus Christ stood by him when he was hurting, and showed him the love of Jesus.  Heaven will be flooded with ex-sinners, some who did time, and I cannot wait to meet those I have never met, yet have been part of my prisoner ministry.  The letters they send are my paycheck, no amount of money could meet the love and support and encouragement they provide.  And my prisoner ministry all started when my son got arrested...the 2am phone call that shattered my life, but that God had control of all the time.  I don’t get it, but Jesus does, my only hope.  My prayer simple, “oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood.”
Which is why the things of God are mysteries rather than mysterious, and I get excited when he reveals the answers to me.  Job in his testing, found that life is basically a mystery, that we don’t understand.  Oh we try, but our finite minds cannot grasp the infinite love and power of a loving God.  Job’s friends all offer him no prayer, but lay the blame for his situation on sin in his life.  If only he had listened to them, he might not be suffering now.  Yet it is they who suffer, for in Job’s suffering he begins to trust God.  To trust God for and with the answers, and how it will all work out for him.  He is teaching Job that he has purpose and a purpose, why are the most rewarding times with God after a tremendous battle?  If only we could get it before we get into trouble.
Over the years I have met many who have fallen away and paid a price.  But God never abandoned them, and graciously accepted them back.  You see when I pray that I don’t want to be misunderstood, I should be praying that I don’t misunderstand God.  Or the things of God.  That the spirit will guide me in truth, give me comfort, and provide a way when there seems to be no way.  Leaving us with a testimony that others need to hear, and we need to thank him for.  No one wants cancer, to be homeless, to be unemployed, to lose their family, bad choices will win out, or so it may seem.  But God has everything under control, and we win in the end.  He who began a good work in me, will be faithful to complete it.  It is the job of Jesus, not us.  We just need to trust and obey.  Then let God be God, without our help.  Looking back, we didn’t ask for the pain and turmoil, but when we come to the knowledge that it was God’s plan, and accept it as a way to give glory to him, we begin to trust, and we see the finish line getting closer, we see the checkered flag, not the red flag warning.  We are ready when the white flag signals the last lap, and we have the faith to finish.  Jesus hung on the cross for six hours before he proclaimed “it is finished.”  Sin had lost and he had won, and we win too.  That’s the gospel, so easy a sinner can get it. 
You know, somehow I just knew we would end up winning when our kitchen flooded, another mystery solved.  If only I could have understood it from the start.  All things, not just good things, work out for those who love the Lord, and are called to his purpose.  His purpose is knowing Jesus.  It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.  So why is God so misunderstood?
love with compassion,

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

it's beginning to smell a lot like Christmas, everywhere I go

During my tenure at Mercedes Benz I was to learn why they are designed like no other car in the world.  Attention to detail both in design and assembly, along with a rigid system of parts quality, all add up to make a Mercedes Benz motorcar.  From being engineered so that it can be worked on easier, notice I didn’t day easily, to a parts rejection system like no other, some will accept only a few rejects in 10,000,  to Mercedes Benz that will only pass if it is per million.  Built to go at high speeds and sustain them, and to stop from those speeds, too, their ride quality is like other.  Others try to imitate, and can come close, maybe even surpass in some small area, but none compare overall to the Mercedes Benz motorcar.  None.
But as a young service advisor, I noted on the newer cars, that each one had a distinct odor.   Now who doesn’t like to open the door of a new car for that new car smell, and if it has leather, all the better.  But each Mercedes Benz had its own odor, a signature of sorts, never mentioned it until reading about the woman in charge of interior odors in engineering.  They don’t miss a thing, and they had designed a certain fragrance for each model, you need to smell each one to see what I mean, but you could blindfold me and sit me in each car, and I could tell you what model it was, and in some cases what year.  They were that distinct!  Who else but those crafty, hard core, emotionless Germans would dare to do such a thing, and then pull it off.  Way beyond the new car smell, some cars may look like a Mercedes Benz, and some cars may drive like one, but no other car on the road will smell like one. 
Being Christmas time, many seasonal smells permeate the air.  From fresh cut Christmas tree, let your plastic not so fantastic tree do that, to turkey dinner on Christmas, to apple pies baking, and the smell of monkey bread and the cinnamon, it’s beginning to smell a lot like Christmas everywhere I go.  The sights and sounds are there, from the Salvation Army bell ringers, to the cash registers ringing up sales, from the sounds of Christmas caroles in stores, note they are not holiday caroles, to the sound of horns in the parking lot, we all know the sounds of Christmas, but I rather concentrate on the smells, the odors, the fragrance of pine, wood fires, and the smells from Theresa’s kitchen.  A certain time of the year that never seems to last long enough, and we never seem to fully realize how much we enjoy it until after it has passed.  It’s beginning to smell a lot like Christmas, everywhere I go....
I was thinking about God the other day, and how we are made in his image.  We read of how his eyes search the earth to and fro, how he hears our prayers, how he answers them, and how his hand is upon us, but I fail to think about the odor we give off to him.  Better than the smell of a new car leather interior, better than pies and cookies, better than riding past a golf course of fresh cut grass, and even better than the smell of racing castor, we, the saints give off a pleasing aroma to God.  The way we smell can please God who created the whole world, and how things in it smell.  We are a pleasing fragrance of God to those who are dying, our sacrifice can be a pleasing aroma to him, even our daily walk can be a pleasing aroma to God.  And if it pleases God, it should please us.  He accepts us as a pleasing aroma when we come to him, and seek Jesus.  His spirit fills the air, and a certain indescribable aroma captivates it.  Some are drawn to it, others ignore it, but just as the spirit is a pleasing aroma, there is also a smell of death for those that reject Jesus.
God also promises to those that turn against him that their cities will burn with an unholy odor.  That there is a second death, a spiritual one, that reeks of fire and brimstone, the smell of rotting flesh that has no life.  But he also promises us to be a pleasing aroma when we come out of our sin, and join him.  Even to Noah and his family, and us, his descendants, he hated the smell of death, of those he created in his own image and loved, and even though man’s heart is evil from youth, he will never destroy all the living things on the earth again.  So he sent Jesus to make the way....a pleasing aroma to him, to those that find him, yet a sentence of death to those who deny him.  Funny how one smell can be so heavenly, yet so deadly too.
Jesus gave up of himself to be that pleasing aroma, to atone for ours sins.  Maybe a thing to remember this Christmas, as we eat of all the goodies, as we gather together, as we get and give gifts, and as we celebrate the birth of Jesus.  Religion can give us that new car smell, bit it too wears off, and like the mask Moses wore, soon God’s glory will fade from us.  Only in Jesus will we find the provision of the pleasing aroma that brings heaven into our earthly lives, that is pleasing to God, and every time we open the door to his heart, we are greeted by that new God smell, made perfect in Christ.  Today we can enjoy the soothing aroma of Jesus if we turn to him, if we confess our sins, and proclaim him as savior.  Let the fragrance of life begin anew for those who fell away, a new smell for those that just believed, and a familiar aroma for older saints.  The perfume of God cost Jesus everything, he was engineered like no other man in the world.  Don’t wait until Christmas to eat of his goods, to enjoy the smells.  Eat and smell and enjoy today.  We are new in Christ only once, but his fragrance of life in us never dies. 
Excuse me, I smell something in the kitchen baking....Merry Christmas to you, and all you eat and enjoy.
love with compassion,

Monday, December 11, 2017

is it still a Cordoba if it doesn't have fine Corinthian leather?

I came close a few times, but never have owned a car with the thick velour seats of the 70-80’s.  Can you remember the sofa like padded cushions of the luxury cars at the time, not only in the crushed velour that was at one time popular, but in earth colors, that made them even worse?  A seat you sank into, that looked comfortable, but provided no form of support, and after a few miles became uncomfortable.  Like those big padded motorcycle seats that some buy, claiming they are comfortable, but have a huge decorative button in the middle, after a few miles it feels like a needle, all in the  name of  style.  My cars in the 70’s mostly had vinyl, cold in winter or hot in summer, remember your leg sticking to them in shorts, or that fake looking velour with no nap on it that looked worn after 15 minutes.  Close but never the rich, velvet looking velour that we all wanted, but that was reserved for the moneyed few. 
I sold AMC cars and Jeeps in 1977, the cars still had the seats that folded flat into a bed from the 50’s, the Jeeps had the Levi’s style vinyl, which looked way cool, and was.  We sold more used than new cars, SUV’s weren’t hot yet, and one used car we had was a Cordoba.  A Chrysler Cordoba, the one that made Ricardo Montalban famous for his words “fine Corinthian leather.”  But this one had velour seats, and a few who looked at it lost interest when they spotted it instead of the FCL.  One guy even wondering “is it still a Cordoba if it doesn’t have fine Corinthian leather?”  He may have had a point....
Yet FCL was an option and many out there didn’t have it, as can be attested to today, see one at a car show, most likely velour, which makes the i-diot generation think it is cool.  They obviously never heard old Ricky M. bragging about the FCL in that wonderful accent.  But in all these years of having leather seats in cars, I have never been asked, nor am sure what a Corinthian is, and what makes its leather so desirable.  I have heard of Connolly leather in British cars, MB Tech, their vinyl look like, Morrokide, that GM vinyl from the 60’s that never wore out, but have never seen of a Corinthian.  Any help out there? 
I love the song Silent Night, almost brings tears to my eyes sometimes, but I have always wondered about a person mentioned in it.  One line reads “round yon virgin, mother, and child,” we know Mary is the mother, Jesus is the child, but who or what is a round yon virgin?  I have asked pastors, worship leaders, and now you, what or who is the round yon virgin?  Obviously important enough to be mentioned along with Jesus and Mary, have I misinterpreted words like my friend Bruce did long ago with Paperback Writer, he would sing “take a fast right turn,” and we would laugh.  And so the mystery of the round yon virgin remains to this day....
But also I question the silent night part of that night.  Inns were not like today, no reservation desk, and thousands were on the road for a census.  Mary was with child, and was offered a place in the stable, maybe not even a barn, but an area broken into camp sites, loud, dirty, and with no privacy.  After giving birth, Jesus was laid in a manger, a feeding trough, carved out of stone that animals were fed from, and wrapped in swaddling clothes, strips of cloth the dead were buried in, like a mummy, the same type of clothes he would be buried in prior to his resurrection.  Not the most sanitary, private, or even place for lyrics to a song, but yet I believe all was calm, as God was with them, Emmanuel means God with us.  Even as a newborn, Jesus was still fully God, and full man.  Sleeping in a heavenly peace we cannot imagine, our infinite minds cannot comprehend the things of heaven.  So maybe the lyrics writer is forgiven, perhaps has insight that the congregation doesn’t, maybe something to consider the next time we sing Silent Night.  Surely in God’s eyes, all was well, and all was bright, even in the middle of the night.  His light shining forth in a fallen world, for he is light, in him is found no darkness at all.  Do you believe or are you still wandering, while wondering about his miracle conception and birth?  It takes faith to believe, for God said it, maybe I should lighten up the round yon virgin, whoever they may be.
Yet some seek comfort in religion, philosophy, or riches, and fall short of God’s glory.  They may even sing the songs at Christmas, but the words fall short of reaching their heart and they miss the blessing.  Just a song for the season, and after Christmas the DVD’s are put away until next year.  They are seeking but they are not wise, the wise men knew of a savior, they didn’t expect a child, today wise men still seek him, a baby who came humbly into the world to save us from our sins.  How could a baby born in a stable, wrapped in death clothes, make such a difference in the world?  Is it possible he really is who he said he was?  Or are you like the used car buyer, who wonders, after hearing the ads about rich Corinthian leather?  Can it really a Cordoba without it?  So much was made of it in the ad...
Why do we believe the words in a car ad, yet doubt the words of God, the word of God, who Jesus was?  How many are sitting on a vinyl seat of religion when you can be wrapped in the luxury of the truth?  There are no options when you come home to Jesus, you get it all, only your faith keeps you from all of God’s blessings.  The truth is Jesus is Lord, and science or the world may not care what you believe, but Jesus does.  All the world celebrates a holiday this time of year, the Jews Hannakuh, and Christians Christmas, the day of Christ.  Even those who don’t believe like to get gifts, and some even give, but where is Christ in your Christmas?  In your heart?  Is it really Christmas without Jesus?  One last thing for those who doubt the time of year....
We celebrate Christmas in December, the 25th, yet history records Jesus physical birth as sometime in September, it was around Yom Kappur, the day of atonement, so they don’t believe based on a calendar date.  But don’t try to outsmart God, the Jews believe life begins at conception, go back nine months from September and you get December, the time of the conception of Jesus, the date when his life began in the womb of a virgin.  His virgin conception.  We get two times to celebrate, and real Christians celebrate him everyday.  We invite you to the party this year, today, consider this an invite to eternity, to the real party, to the real Jesus.  Not an option, you must believe to enter the kingdom of God.  Christmas cannot be Christmas without Jesus, as for fine Corinthian leather.....seems the Corinthians had some strange views on Christianity...don’t you be fooled.  Can it really be Christmas without Jesus?  As for  who was that round yon virgin......
love with compassion,