Army trucks, rowboats and helicopters

There is an old shaggy dog story that goes like this:

There was a man standing on his porch watching the water rise in the street when an Army truck drove up and the driver called to the man “There is a flood coming. Get in and I’ll drive you to safety!” The man replied “No, thank you. I’m a Christian and God will protect me!”

A few hours later the water was up to the first floor and the man was looking out of a second floor window when a man came by in a rowboat and called to him “Get in and I’ll take you to safety.” The man again replied “No, thank you. I’m a Christian and God will protect me!”

Much later that night, the water was all the way up to the top of the second floor and the man was clinging to the roof when a helicopter dropped a rope and someone called down, “grab the rope and we’ll pull you up to safety.”

The many replied for the third time “No, thank you. I’m a Christian and God will protect me!”

The man drowned and was in front of God asking; “Why didn’t you protect me?”

God, of course, replied – I sent you an Army truck, a rowboat and a helicopter! What else did you expect me to do?

The point of this story for me is to be sure I see “God’s Army truck” when it stops in front of my house and not wait for the flood to carry me away.

Like many people, I am so full of my plans and expectations that I miss the little hints that God sends to me. Sometimes, in the suggestions from friends and even from my enemies; sometimes in the form of problems that cause me to redirect my life.

If I miss those subtle queues, then comes the full-fledged flood and I end up with a huge problem because I didn’t listen.

I just moved to a new town and a friend from work suggested a church just up the street from my apartment. I moved in on a Saturday and to celebrate, I went out for dinner. Since I was alone, I sat at the bar so I wouldn’t have to wait for a table.

A couple was sitting next to me and we struck up a conversation and it turned to God and they attend the same church that my friend suggested!

Was my friend’s suggestion the army truck? Was the couple sitting next to me at dinner the rowboat?

I think I’ll try the church and not wait for the helicopter!

Romans 3:23-24

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus

Any reader of the Bible will see that I have picked only one small part of Romans 3 but to me, right now, it’s a critical section. It gives me hope as I struggle to live as I am instructed to live that when I make a normal human mistake, I am not condemned, I am merely correct and instructed.

Like many of you I struggle with accepting that I am not saved through any action of my own, but rather as a gift from God. For some reason I keep asking: “Yes, I believe in grace but what do I do?”

I have to relearn every day (and sometimes more than once a day!) that my connection with God is not is not something that I have or can earn by how well I follow His direction. It is a gift that I can either accept or reject.

It is such a powerful gift that I can make a mistake and step away from God’s plan, yet when I recognize what I have done and correct my actions there sits God’s gift of grace waiting for me to acknowledge and accept it. With no further effort, I am back into God’s peace and presence

All of this in Jesus name.

Thank you God.

A simple prayer

When I pray, God does not answer me through the burning bush as he did the real prophets of the bible. I hear Him in the quite certainty in my heart that a particular course of action is the right one. 

When I pray for guidance, I find the 11th step, from the 12 step programs, voices my need better than all the long-winded or flowery prayers. 

“Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.” 

My simple prayer is “God, show me what you want me to do and I will do that”. 

Followed by “Please make it obvious so even I can see your will for me.”

Isaiah 61:3

Isaiah 61:3 says in part:

To give beauty for ashes,

The oil of joy for mourning,

The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;

This is God’s promise to me.

Actually it’s God’s promise to everyone who turns to Him in full surrender and humility. As a good friend pointed out to me, the bad things that happen in our lives are not God’s will they are the byproduct of living in a fallen world.

When these things happen to us they are no more God’s will for us than the falling rain is God making us cold and wet. It is simply the earthly life just happening.

This passage from Isaiah is God’s promise to us that He will turn life’s ashes into beauty. That He will anoint us with the oil of His joy when we mourn and that all we have to do is put on the “garment of praise” toward God for Him to lift that “spirit of heaviness” that is causing us so much pain and distress.

Most of the time I write this in the first person and limit myself to how the scripture leads and supports me. I don’t believe that I am a good enough Christian to “preach” to anyone and am just struggling to live close enough to God myself.

In this case I just wanted to remind you, my readers, that God will carry you through the worst of times and that if you simply invite him into your life he will help you find the resources to deal with any problem.

The resources within yourself that He as already given you but your pain, anguish and fear are keeping hidden from you.

Psalm 143:8

Psalm 143:8

Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in

the morning,

For in you do I trust:

Cause me to know the way in which I

should walk,


For I lift up my soul to You.

 

 What a beautiful prayer!

I purposely tried to duplicate the formatting in my Bible because this is, to me at least, not only a prayer but poetry as well and the spacing helps read the meaning beyond the simple wording.

To me this is asking for God to let me start my day in the atmosphere of His love and support.

I am reaffirming my trust that He will lead me and guide my day.

That I can trust Him to guide me in acting in as He want’s me to act and to take the actions that are in His plan.

In lifting up my soul to Him I am attempting to let go of my will and be open and ready to hear His leadership and to follow His path to the place that He has already prepared for me.

The 7th Commandment

Written with my partner Bryan Neva

You shall not commit adultery (Ex 20-14)

In the bible the 7th commandment refers to a married person having sex with someone other than their spouse. But you can commit adultery in business too.

If we offer to sell you a quart of milk and deliver a half-quart of milk mixed with a half-quart of water, we’ve committed adultery.  Mixing water with milk is not much different from breaking one’s marriage vows because it’s altering a contract between two people.  If a company reduces the pay and benefits they’ve agreed to provide their employees, they’ve altered the contract they had with them.  If we don’t keep our promises to our employees, customers, or employers we’ve committed adultery.

Companies justify reducing their employee’s pay and benefits packages as cost savings measures to keep the company profitable.  But to the employees this is a reduction in their compensation package and it creates both an immediate and future hardship.  For example, if an employee has an agreement with their company for medical and retirement benefits and their company decreases these benefits without an equal value increase their hourly wage then the company has committed adultery. 

If this seems strange, think about that quart of milk: we’d feel cheated if we’d paid for a quart of milk but only received a half-quart of milk mixed with a half-quart of water.  In exactly the same way employees feel cheated when their company reduces their pay or medical and retirement benefits with out an equal value increase somewhere else.  If the employee doesn’t like it, his only recourse is to find another job.  But for retired employees who lose their pension and medical benefits they have no recourse.

There have been several reported stories of employees that had their pay and benefits reduced and later discovered that management was given huge bonuses.  In some cases the total for al those bonuses exceed the cost of the lost pay and benefits.  Adultery in modern business today is when management has the power to arbitrarily reduce their employee’s compensation package while increasing their own.  This is nothing more than a selfish childhood attitude of I got mine and you’re on your own.

Loyalty is a two way street with employees on one side and the company on the other.  Cheating employees, customers, or employers is not only dishonest but disloyal as well.  If a company is so poorly structured and organized that it has to earn its profits out of the back pockets of its employees and customers, then it probably needs new leadership.