True Friends

This evening was a blessed event.  I mean – you just don’t know when you will feel blessed.  Let me ‘splain.

I was sitting on my lazy butt watching TV.  I heard a lawn mower going and thought to myself, “Self, you need to mow your lawn, too!”  It was about 7:30 pm.  So, I went out and began to mow my lawn.  My neighbor across the street was sweating hard and pushing his mower.  My neighbor two doors down joined us in spewing carbon monoxide and cutting blades of green.

Across the street finished first and borrowed another neighbor’s weed whacker.  I finished second and began to trim using my ancient edger My Ancient Whacker of Weeds I guess he felt sorry for me, and came over to help. My other neighbor saw him and told me, “That’s a good neighbor.”  Then he disappeared.  I was sweeping, and he showed up with his blower – and wouldn’t let me operate it.

Between the three of us, we finished all three lawns.  It was a wonderful, blessed event.  The three of us – all of different faiths, and occasionally irritated at each other – found the deepest meaning of friendship.

These experiences are few and far between.  What was your experience?

A Day Alone

I love my family, perhaps too much. A couple of weeks ago, I spent a few days in Tulsa, OK. It’s been called the “Paris of Oklahoma“. The other guys were out having fun – frisbee golf, checking out various sites. Me, I wanted to sit in the hotel room and call my wife and kids.

Why is it that I am so utterly devoted to them that I cannot enjoy anything if they are not around? Why is it that nothing I need to do (mow the lawn, work on Rosetta Stone, clean the kitchen…) – the things that should both consume my time and emotions – are so difficult?

Today, my wife is taking my oldest daughter to camp. It is 5 1/2 hours away. That means they will be gone for at least 12 hours. I volunteered to stay at home and care for the dogs. This length of time would be torture on their bladders and empty stomachs. I am depressed. Disappointed that they are travelling without me. Disappointed that I cannot be with them.

God has promised that He will be with us at all times (Matthew 28:20). Is my faith at such an ebb that I feel complete only with my wife and children?

I have promised to mow the lawn and clean the kitchen today. Because I do not want to disappoint my wife, I will complete those tasks. In the meantime, I will likely will watch Star Trek – alternating between Next Generation and Voyager. I love DVDs!

My “Dream Job”

I’ve been working on computers since 1979. OK, so some of that time, I’ve been playing. But I’ve spent many hours trying to make programs and scripts run, trying to make networks talk (we’re talking 10BASE2, people!), trying to figure out why DOOM won’t run on my 486SX… yeah – even the play was work.

I’m tired of computers.

So, when the opportunity arose to merge my love for people with my tech experience, I had to bite. It meant nearly a year of proving myself, but now I’m in a position where most of my time is spent dealing with people, not machines. There are days when I spend only an hour on my computer. The rest of the day I’m talking to clients, giving tours of our facility and basically schmoozing the people who decide to spend money on us.

Most importantly, this is a bridge to get out of the technical side of things. I’m at a point where I can oversee the techies. I don’t have to spend my time worried about the details – there are techies that do that.

God has blessed me. He has put me where I needed to be so that people will see me. A rollout (that I didn’t want to accept) led to a job on the helpdesk. One of the folks that called the helpdesk told his boss that they needed me. When I interviewed for that job, I told him where I wanted to be. And I’m here. Praise God for His providence!

Vanpoolin’

I am blogging now, courteous of your friendly neighborhood vanpool. They drive me home from work so I don’t have to attend anger management classes again after 150 minutes in Houston traffic. (Yes, gentle reader, that is two and a half hours.) Having 45 minutes, I began to pray and ask for God’s guidance in my life. He is faithful to answer – all I need to do is listen.

I felt a pull back to blogging. It’s been fourteen months (see yesterday’s entry), and I have felt bad about not blogging. People responded to my blogs before. They are not pretty and they don’t always say what people want to hear. But they resonate with someone. And that is why I feel like God wants me to start again.

So, while vanpooling, I pull out my laptop and type an entry into Notepad. When I have access to the internet, I upload it. Simple as that.

If it’s so simple, do I have an excuse not to?

I Want to BLOG Again!

Ok – so, it’s been a while. I blogged regularly until my dream job was about to become a reality. That took quite a while. From the interview process through hire was fourteen months. Yeah, I was a contractor during that 14 months so it wasn’t like I didn’t have an income. But like I said before – and I’ll say it again and again. Letting God drive is like riding a roller coaster. One minute you’re up, the next you’re down – but you’re rarely bored.

Q:What has happened in my life over the last fourteen months?
A:Quite a bit!

I worked 7-12s for most of that time. I prayed hard for a real job. I cried, yelled, jeered and cheered. I somehow managed to reflect enough of God’s light that my co-workers came to know me as a Christian. One, in fact, asked me to pray because I am a “Holy Man”. If only you knew the truth…

But one thing became startingly clear: God is active in my life, even if I don’t know it.

Here are the keys I’ve been working on for the past fourteen months:

  • God loves us.
  • God wants us to know Him. For how can we love Him if we don’t even know Him?
  • God doeswant us to be filled with joy. But joy does not equal happiness. More on that to come.
  • God has programmed us for certain tasks – working outside of those tasks finds us in conflict and stressed.
  • God is. God was. God will always be.

Each of those is a mouthful, worthy of its own entry. And each of them might be a blog entry down the road – I don’t know. Right now, I know that He is working to reveal His glory to me. And I relish His action in my life.

I’m not rich. I’m not the manager. I’m not retired. But my current line of work is what I’ve been dreaming about for five years – a bridge away from the technological grindstone and into working with people! Praise God!

I’m back

I’m back. Again. I’ve committed to keeping up this blog, and I’ve committed to reading His Word daily.

For centuries, people have told of finding wisdom in ancient words. Even with modern marvels of technology, such as the iPod on which I compose this blog, millions turn to ancient words for wisdom and comfort.

There once was a time when God spoke directly, “without riddles”, to Moses. Later He spoke through the prophets in visions and dreams.  Eventually the Christ came to us to speak to us, once again, quite plainly.  Today He reveals Himself through the Holy Spirit.  The prophets turned to the books of Moses for guidance.  The rabbis of Christ’s time turned to the prophets and Moses.  And, today, we turn to Moses, the prophets and the words of Christ.

What value is there in reading words over four thousand years old?

God’s nature is unchanging (Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 6:17, James 1:17).  What was true about God four thousand years ago is true today.  Solomon, in the book of Ecclesiastes, repeatedly states that there is nothing new under the sun.  Of course, he is not talking about the race of technology.  In spiritual matters, there is nothing new under the sun.

The Holy Bible is a gift of wisdom from the ancients.  Millions have died to make sure these words never die.  Our ancient foe, the devil, desires only to keep these words of salvation out of our hands.  Yet we are able to find them everywhere we turn.

You need not spend a penny to read.  Check out The Bible Gateway.  It is an online bible with many versions available.  Begin with the Gospel of John.  God’s promise is outlined quite nicely in chapter 3. To find more about salvation, read Romans.  I recommend The Message version for easy reading.  Let me know what you think.

Comment here or e-mail me at claysramblings@gmail.com.  I look forward to hearing from you!

Happy Movember

I’m growing a moustache for a good cause.  Facial hair doesn’t look good on me, so I’ve been told.  My lip is as folically challenged as my head.  But I’m doing it for a good cause.  Check out http://mobro.co/harrydude.  The goal is to raise awareness and money for men’s health care issues.  It’s the male version of the pink ribbon.

Today at church, I spoke with a research oncologist.  He works to find new ways to treat cancer – specifically prostate cancer.  He said that his organization benefits quite a bit from the money raised by Movember.  It was quite inspiring to hear about how this money is put to good use.

Please visit my Movember page.  Consider dropping a couple of bucks there.  And tell your friends!

Don’tcha love homeowner’s associations?

Houston has been suffering it’s hottest and driest summer in recorded history.  With 2 inches of rain since February 1, my lawn is looking pathetic.  The City of Houston has imposed lawn-watering restrictions.  I don’t reside within the city, but I’ve been doing my part – even draining the condensation from my portable A/C into the Pur water filter to drink.  Needless to say, watering my lawn just doesn’t rank up there in the top of my priority list.

So my homeowner’s association, with their infinite wisdom, wrote me a letter to complain about the condition of my lawn.  Looking at my neighbors, it’s likely they wrote letters to 90% of my neighborhood.  They told me that I need to water my lawn.

Huh?

In the middle of a drought, they want me to water my lawn.

Let’s hear it for the brains of the operation.  Since the letter of the law – the DEED RESTRICTIONS – do not exempt droughts, I am compelled to comply.  Regardless of the fact that watering my lawn may deprive firefighters of water – regardless of the fact that watering my lawn may reduce the levels of our water table – regardless of the fact that watering my lawn may actually cause someone to become dehydrated…  I must abide by the rules.

We have done a very good job of keeping our lawn mowed and our flowerbed weed free.  We have done a very good job of keeping our place maintained during this recession to avoid being those people.  But the house around the corner – which has been foreclosed and unmaintained for the last two years – looks like something out of a horror movie.  My neighbor and I are contemplating opening it as a haunted house in October and charging admission.  We won’t have to do much, it’s already falling apart!

And they want to write me up for not watering my lawn during water restrictions.

What the heck ever happened to common sense?  When did we become so blinded by rules that we refused to listen to our brains?  Why did the family that signed the original deed restrictions circulate an unsuccessful petition to have our neighborhood removed from them?  Because the Homeowner’s Associations are incapable of thinking.

People, let’s use our common sense.  Refuse to buy houses that have deed restrictions.  Force the street gestapo out of business.  Let us get back to the business of living.  Don’t we have to bow to politicians and our bosses enough?  Our homes should be our sanctuary.

Dark Master

The Archangel Michael, who went to the mat with the Devil as they fought over the body of Moses, wouldn’t have dared level him with a blasphemous curse, but said simply, “No you don’t. God will take care of you!” (Jude 1:9 MSG)

Even the archangel – one of the highest ranking angels – wouldn’t mess with Satan. Why do we think we can?

“In the Presence of Enemies” is a 25 minute song in two parts by Dream Theater on their Systematic Chaos album. In the first part, Heretic, we are introduced to the daily conflict we all face. “Do you still wait for your God? And a symbol of your faith?”

We all must learn to wait on God. He has blessings we can not recognize on the surface. The symbol of our faith is faith itself. We trust in the Lord and we wait through various trials to find Him. James said “count it pure joy when you face various trials for these trials build patience.”

“I can free you from this hell and misery… All I ask is that you worship me.”. The tempter offers empty promises of freedom from our problems. And, on the surface, they do appear to be our salvation. Piece by piece, we fall into his trap.

“Dark Master within, I belong to you. Dark Master of sin, now my soul is yours.” How I long to serve my Lord, Jesus Christ. But every time I turn a deaf ear to his commands – that I love him and live others- I bow to His enemy. Hardening my heart I offer allegiance to the Dark Master.

But there is hope. “My soul grows weaker, he knows and he waits. He watches over me, standing at the infernal gates. In my hour of darkness, the moment I feared has past, the moment I lost my faith- promising salvation. My soul is my own, now. I do not fight for you. Dark master.”

We can choose at any time to come home. It gets harder every minute we are away, but the invitation is always open. We can declare our independence from sin – with Christ’s help – and walk away from the Dark master.

He waits to make us a new creation, ready to serve Him today and reign with Him in eternity. And I’m SO ready.

…while I’m waiting…

I said it before and I’ll say it again. Letting God drive is like riding a roller-coaster. One day you’re up. The next day you’re down. Some days you loop-the-loop. But you never know what’s coming next.

I’ve been offered, and accepted, permanent employment. But I’m still a contractor. I want insurance. So I’m not happy. What does our Provider have up His proverbial sleeve now?

The funny thing is, I know he has something up His sleeve. I just don’t know what it is. Somehow the bills will get paid. Not the extras, like the dinner out last week, but the necessities. There is always, miraculously, a little left over – just so long as we don’t over-do it.

But I’m greedy. I want a little more. I want to show my kids the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. I want to show them every place I’ve ever lived. I want to eat an occasional steak. I want… I want… I want…

Then I think about the poor soul I passed under the bridge this morning. At 4:00 am. It was already over 80F and he didn’t have a cool place to sleep. Sweaty and dirty, he hoped to get just a little shut-eye on a concrete mattress before the day warmed up to another record high.

And I got mad because my air conditioning couldn’t keep it below 85F at 4:00 pm.

God can put things in perspective. I can do little to help the guy under the bridge. But I can put a little jingle in his cup. I can feel good about that, right?

I am content with what God has given me. I really am. But there are days when it just seems like more would be better.

Thanks for listening.