FIRST ASSIGNMENT

Samuel laid back in bed. The torch was still burning in the tabernacle. That was his assignment each night…keep God’s light burning.

“Samuel.”

He sat up and ran to Eli’s chamber. “What is it?”

Eli rolled over to face the youngster. “What do you want, Samuel?”

“You called for me. I want to know what you need.”

Eli sighed. “I didn’t say anything. I’m trying to sleep. Go back to bed.”

Samuel returned to his position in the tabernacle.

“Samuel.”

He ran back to Eli. “Here I am. What do you need me for?”

The old man shook awake. “Samuel, what’s got into you tonight. Can’t you see I’m trying to sleep here? Go back to bed.”

Samuel muttered as he walked back to the tabernacle. “I know I heard him call my name. There isn’t anyone else here. It had to be him.”

He laid back down.

“Samuel.”

He ran back to Eli. “I know I heard you call for me. Who else could it be?”

Eli looked up. “I’m sorry, Lord.”

He reached out a hand and waited for Samuel to grasp it. “The next time you hear your name called say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.'”

Samuel swallowed as he released Eli’s hand and returned to his chamber.

“Samuel.”

When Samuel opened his eyes a man was standing near him. “Speak, your servant is listening.”

“I’m about to do something that will capture everyone’s attention. The sins of Eli’s family will not be tolerated much longer. I warned him about not restraining his sons. Their sins cannot be covered by sacrifices forever.”

Samuel sat on his hands to keep them from shaking.

************

The legend of Samuel carries on to this day. This was a huge step in the process of making this man who would be used in mighty ways to help the nation of Israel to become the greatest nation in the world.

The first step in that process came before he was even conceived. His parents were godly people.

Samuel’s dad took his family to the tabernacle, the dwelling place of God, annually. That’s extremely significant when you remember this was during the period of the Judges…a time when everyone did what was right in his own eyes. God was feared by dad.

Samuel’s mom dedicated her firstborn son to God at the tabernacle on one of those sojourns. The infertility of Hannah, combined with her reverence toward God, made her say a vow that she carried out to the letter. God was honored by mom.

Samuel had an incredibly godly legacy to build on.

When Eli was given the responsibility of rearing this kid it was a second chance to get that right. He failed miserably with his two sons who were supposed to carry on the role of priest for God’s people. The elderly man took this opportunity seriously and did it well.

With that as the backdrop God steps into young Samuel’s life directly.

God had been so distance from Eli for so long even he didn’t recognize God’s presence when it came.

Where are you in this process?

Are you fearing God?

When I ask that question what first came to mind. Did you see yourself cowering in a corner of a room waiting to be struck by lightning? Most people do.

God does have that much power, but He has just as much love for you, too.

For those of us reared in a family where both parents were present we need to remember how we thought about our dads after we did something we knew was wrong. We knew punishment was imminent. Dad was the last person we wanted to cross paths with, but we knew he loved us, too.

Our earthly fathers are to be a representation of our heavenly Father. Too bad there are too few good examples of that today.

Have you made a dedication to God?

Don’t think children are the only thing that can possibly be dedicated to God. Your life can be dedicated, too.

When I suggest that don’t think you have to go to Africa to be a missionary to carry this out. Dedicating your future may mean taking a stand in your current workplace. It could be being more active at church or another organization. It could simply mean studying the Bible more to hear from God better.

Making God number one in your life is dedication to Him.

Are you passing on God’s principles to the next generation?

If you have children definitely start there. If your children are grown teach your grandchildren about fearing and loving God.

If neither of those opportunities is open to you find a young person to mentor. This generation of young adults is floundering now. Too few of them have a solid foundation to build on. They’ve been fed so many lies in school they don’t know what to believe.

When you step in to teach them about God and His truths as found in the Bible take it slow, but be deliberate.

You only need to change the course of one life to have an impact on several people in the future. If you skip this opportunity to make an impact the next generation will continue to wander in the wilderness and miss God’s kingdom altogether.

Eli taught Samuel as much as he could. God’s second chance wasn’t wasted.

By the time God did speak to Samuel the Creator of the universe was a real part of the young man’s mindset.

God can use anybody. He always does.

You can help prepare someone for that transformation today.

That pebble you drop on the surface of the ocean won’t make much of an impact now, but the ripples will go on for quite some time.

Help God steer those ripples by doing your part to focus a young person toward being used by God in mighty ways.

It’s not too late for you to make a difference.

God’s plan is to use you, too.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

I just prayed for 150 men…one book at a time

I first met Marcia on a Sunday morning. She approached me before our adult fellowship time and introduced herself. She said she noticed me a week or two before that sitting by myself. She said I looked defeated.

This was a few years ago…after my wife left me and before I lost my secure job that held me constantly sleep deprived. Defeated was becoming my constant companion.

Marcia and I have become great friends since that encounter. Life, on the other hand, has continued to beat me down, but not out. I keep hoping the pendulum of fate hits the low part of its swing soon. I could use some things to begin working toward the “Blessings of God” side.

Being a prayer warrior, as most 70+ year old women of faith are, I knew Marcia would love my book of 100 prayers.

She took the book home and devoured the last chapter on the 23rd Psalm. She told me my writing ranks right up there with Chuck Swindoll. I didn’t say it does…she did.

One of Marcia’s sons helps lead three day retreats called Tres Dias. She gave him her copy of my book to see if they’d like to use it as a gift book for the attendees. She couldn’t wait to get her original copy back from him so she bought a second book that she could continue to work through.

They decided my book would fit with their work so the retreat coming up next month in north Texas will have 100 Prayers of a Writer in the gift bag all the men receive.

Marcia is making sure I have no excuse for not attending that retreat. I told you she’s a great friend.

I knew the bare minimum I had to do is sign every copy of my book. Knowing how much Marcia, and her prayer warrior friends, are praying for this retreat I decided to take it one step further.

I set the six boxes of books out on my floor before I opened them.

I pulled one book out of the first box and set it on top of a stack of two boxes in front of me.

While on my knees I set my left hand on the book and prayed for the man getting that book.

I don’t know the names of anybody going to this retreat. I haven’t even met Marcia’s son, yet. I let the Holy Spirit guide me through each prayer.

Some of these men are dealing with serious addiction issues. Others are facing hard decisions…health issues…family strife…career choices…secrets.

There are some good apples in the bunch who need to deepen their relationship with God at this point in their lives. A few are about to be used mightily by God soon.

I’ve heard of others doing such praying before, but this was my first experience with it.

I hope it’s not my last.

About a third of the way through my running time came due. I took the break from this spiritual warfare to recharge my prayer battery.

What began after church ended after supper that evening.

I know some men will be blessed by the words God used me to write in those books.

This man is blessed by praying for every man attending that retreat.

Please join me in praying for God’s kingdom to be built by what will transpire that weekend.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

Is Monday the 13th Really Unlucky?

Happy unlucky Monday the thirteenth Y’all. I have no clue how Friday the 13th stole all the thunder from Monday the 13th, but that’s what we have to live with in this fallen world I suppose.

What makes this Monday the 13th unlucky to the uber degree is the fact that it’s the second month in a row we’ve had to endure one. If you don’t believe me just flip your calendar back a page a see for yourself.

You see…February had a Monday the 13th, too. Now you hurt my feelings by actually checking. Shame on you.

It’s a good thing I’m not actually superstitious or nothing because last month would have done me in to the uber degree.

I was working with the Apainter Paul on an interior job. The tall ceilings made it necessary to use ladders to paint the tops of the walls. No, I didn’t walk under any of said ladders at all if I could at all help it…not that I actually believe it’s unlucky or nothing.

The real problem came from the three cats the lady had for fur children. Yeah, she never got married so the cats are her kids…not that she considers herself a crazy cat lady or nothing. That’s what I overheard her tell someone on the phone.

Anywho…all three of these felines are black. She can tell them all apart. Good fur her.

Now I can’t think of an unluckier event than to have three black cats cross under a feller’s ladder on a Monday the 13th…but I lived to tell about it, y’all.

There are some folks who hope they’re lucky enough to get into heaven after they die. They think if they go to church enough times and give the appropriate amount of money to the right charitable organizations they’ll make it.

Not by the hair of their black cat’s chin.

They count on their good deeds being enough to earn their way through those pearly gates.

Not by attaching all the ladders together will that get them to reach heaven’s foundation.

They pray they’re better than just enough people to make the cut to be selected on God’s team.

Not by any number of anything will that work neither.

There’s nothing anybody can do to get to heaven. There is something one man did to get you into heaven, though.

Jesus Christ was a unique individual…actually He still is. It’s a stretch for our puny minds to comprehend, but Jesus was God and man in one package. His perfect life made him the ultimate one to become the ultimate sacrifice to die in our place in God’s eyes.

There’s nothing superstitious about this. By admitting your inability to reach heaven on your own efforts because of your sinning you have taken the important first step to getting there.

The second step is accepting Jesus’s death as done in your place.

The third step will be when you walk across that threshold of those pearly gates.

Your eternity with God won’t start when you get to heaven. No, He wants to develop that relationship you’ve always longed for right here and now.

Yeah, I’m not hawking a religion here. Christianity was always meant to be a personal relationship with the Creator of the universe.

Jesus always called God His Father. Once you become Jesus’s adopted brother or sister you can, too.

No amount of black critters, ladders nor numbers will ever take that away from you, neither.

This will all make perfect sense when we all get to heaven.

You can thank me when you see me there someday.

Keep smiling.   Wade

Just Me and Jesus

God has an annoying way of giving me writing prompts sometimes. Two o’clock in the morning seems to be one of His favorite times to do such shenanigans.

Just Me and Jesus was set to a tune as I awoke in the wee hours one morning. The chorus played in my head while I drove around. I sang it to myself and contemplated the verses that should go along with it.

Being the storyteller that I am a theme developed over the next few days. I knew a preacher, a doll, a boy and a doctor would be involved. The third verse came to me first while I drove.

The remainder of the story took shape when I wrote it all down. Rather than a song for the entirety a poem formed to fill in around the chorus. I guess you can call it white conservative Christian rap music if you insist on labeling it into a genre.

This video is what became of that 2 AM writing prompt.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

Jim passed this morning

Life has a way of becoming stunningly obvious at times.

Take last week for example. My driving assignments have slowed since the Christmas rush has subsided.

Not to fear, the Apainter Paul is getting some big painting jobs he needs help with.

Last week we were painting an exterior in Frisco. We finished the back first. On Wednesday I was painting the front of the house when a commotion occurred next door.

A car stopped in the cul-de-sac. A woman in a burgundy outfit jogged to the front door. She was let in almost immediately.

A few minutes later a woman in a matching light blue outfit walked out carrying a few bags of stuff to her car.

A young man drove up and walked to the door. The door opened. An older man asked one question as he ushered the young man in. “What have you heard?”

This did not sound good. We learned from the homeowner we were working for, Lu, that a Parkinson’s patient was on hospice care in the home.

Later in the morning the woman in the burgundy outfit walked outside to talk on her phone away from the gathering family inside.

One sentence jumped out at me. “Jim passed this morning.” Four words that hung in the air.

Hospice workers are a special breed of people.

A first name is all she needed to tell her listener who she was talking about. These aren’t patients. They’re real people.

When you work around death on a regular basis you have your own code words.

“Passed” means Jim is no longer with us here in this world. His soul has passed into the next. His eternal destiny is fixed now.

We later learned one of the hospice workers led Jim to Christ about three weeks ago. He’s waiting for fellow believers with his Savior now.

Some of the neighbors walked to the door and offered the same sentiment: “If you need anything just let me know.”

If the Good Lord ever gives me the chance to own a home I want two things with it: I want a neighbor like Lu and I want to be the type of neighbor Lu is.

Just before one o’clock Lu drove up to the home. She carried a large bag with a deli logo on it. Four hours later she hefted a large ice chest out of the back of her SUV and brought that to the front door.

Lu didn’t wait to be asked to help. She knew these folks weren’t thinking about what they were going to eat at this time. She filled that need on her own.

Our church has a unique way of handling the missionary outreach we have. It combines the overseas missionaries with the local ways of reaching outside of the church building’s walls.

It’s called “missional living.” It’s viewed as more of a mindset than a division of the church’s function.

We recognize that simply building a big church and holding worship services inside isn’t enough to drawn people into God’s family.

There are so many local means of reaching folks with God’s concern that I probably don’t know of half of them, and I’ve gone to quite a few of their meetings. I just wished my schedule allowed me to get involved with more of them.

Lu is living a missional living life. Her neighbor’s know she’s different in the best way possible.

You better believe that if Lu ever needs help one of her neighbor’s will be there for her. And if she ever asks them if they’d like to go to church with her some Sunday they are very possibly going to take her up on her offer.

That’s why I want to be like Lu. Because she’s more like Jesus than most preachers I know.

Preachers are so busy preparing sermons, coming up with catchy story illustrations and thinking about their next sermon series that they can’t do what Lu did.

That’s why there are so many more people in the pews than there are people preaching sermons.

What about you? Are you reaching your neighbors by meeting their needs without being asked?

Do you have pictures of missionaries stuck on your refrigerator to remind you to pray for them throughout the day?

Don’t tell me you’re one of those folks who simply attends church occasionally and then goes back to your normal life the rest of the week.

That’s not what Jesus wants us doing.

Jesus didn’t die for us to simply provide fire insurance for our eternal destiny.

He wants us to attract as many other souls into heaven as we can.

Let’s help Lu be the hands and feet of Jesus here and now.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

A DEDICATION REQUEST

Elkanah sat at the table after serving everybody. He looked at his favorite wife. “Hannah, why aren’t you eating? I’ve given you twice as much as anyone else. Don’t let the food go to waste.”

Peninnah snickered. “I don’t know why you throw the food to a dog like that. She’s only eating for one. She always is.”

A tear rolled down Hannah’s cheek.

Elkanah rubbed her shoulder. “My love, I should be worth ten sons to you.”

Hannah sat in silence until everyone left the table to get ready to go to the tabernacle. She sulked out to speak to God on her own.

She sank to her knees when she reached the front wall of the dwelling place of God. “Oh, God, why? Why? What have I done wrong? What must I change? I’ll do anything for children…anything. I am Your servant, Lord. If you give me a son I will bring him here to You. He will be set apart for Your use. A razor will not touch his head.”

“Woman, why are you so drunk this early in the day? Have you no shame?”

Hannah sat up straight. She looked to her right and found the priest Eli looking at her. “No, my lord. I’m not drunk. I swear. My heart is shattered. I’m pouring my pain out to God. That’s all. Please believe me.”

Eli let out a huge breath. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have jumped to that conclusion. May God grant your request.”

Hannah stood then bowed to Eli. “Thank you. Thank you.”

She returned home and ate her food while everyone else went to the tabernacle.

************

So begins the book of 1 Samuel. A woman praying to God about the pain in her heart.

Most of our prayers are basic. Hopefully we remember to be grateful for what we have. We ask for something we want to have and/or ask for something for someone else.

Occasionally we’re at the point Hannah found herself in, or worse. The pain is so deep. Our emotions are so raw. We’re at a loss about what we should ask God for.

We’re told Hannah prayed silently while her mouth went through the motions of talking. That’s why Eli thought she was drunk.

Hannah was so focused on getting her pain out to God everything around her was gone.

She didn’t know Eli was watching her. If she did she didn’t care.

All that mattered was getting the pain out by bringing it to God so God could help her deal with it.

God still hears those types of prayers.

Now He helps us when we can’t find the words to express how distraught we are.

Romans 8:26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27 And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.

God’s Holy Spirit indwells every born-again believer in Christ so we have an advocate while we pray to God.

Two things are important to notice in those verses.

First and foremost the Holy Spirit prays according to God’s will. That means the pain may continue for a while. It may last the rest of your life. Prepare for that possibility.

Many people are so conditioned into thinking if there’s something wrong in our life God will fix it to bless us.

I have some hard news for you. God is not in the blessing just to bless business. He wants to conform us into the image of Jesus Christ. That usually requires a lot of suffering.

This world we live in is broken. So are the people we share this planet with. One person’s pleasure sometimes comes at the expense of another person’s pain. I wish that wasn’t true, but it is.

We’ll never know full peace and blessing until we’re in heaven with God.

While we’re here we’ll have pain. Fortunately, God understands this.

The second part of those verses to remember is our intercessor occasionally runs out of words for our pain, too.

Yeah, even the Holy Spirit can’t tell God what we want to say because our pain is so intense.

Read verse 26 again. The Holy Spirit groans for us when the hurt is too excruciating.

There is no promise of relief from this pain, only understanding.

I don’t find a formula prayer to pray for freedom, either.

We must trust God is up to something and He knows what He’s doing with us.

Butterflies must struggle out of their chrysalis in order to survive. If you cut it open for them they’ll die.

The effort of breaking free strengthens the heart. After they breathe air that heart must pump blood into the fragile wings. Only after the vessels are spread out are the wings ready to set that bug to flight and freedom from the gravitational pull that kept it earthbound.

Your struggles are making you stronger, too. I don’t know what, or who, God is turning you into, but He does.

There are others going through similar circumstances.

After you come through this mess a stronger person you can help them see how it’s done.

They’re looking for hope. Your story will give them that hope.

When they learn someone else groaned those same utterances they’ll listen to you.

The verse that follows those verses tells us all things are working together for good, not that all things are good when they happen.

Hardship, pain, suffering and struggle are a part of living life.

That’s why God’s Spirit groans for us and with us.

God also promises to wipe every tear away in heaven.

Peace and blessings will overflow then.

Until that time take things one step at a time if that’s all you can manage.

Pour out your heart to God.

He’s listening and waiting to hear your groans.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

Who Really Believed that Overgrown Underground Rodent Anyway?

As I recall Phil said there was going to be six more weeks of winter on February 2nd. You know…that groundhog in Pennsylvania.

So why are we in the 70’s and 80’s here in Texas already? I’ve even seen where it’s in the 70’s back in Michigan…and it’s only the middle of the month.

I drove to Houston and San Antonio this week and can decisively report that the Redbuds (with their purple flowers) and the daffodils are blooming.

The redwing blackbirds are warming up their vocal chords for their mating songs.

We’re either entering an early spring or those folks who tell us what that fat rat says were totally off this time or we’re in for an extremely rude awaking some morning and some dead purple flowers on red trees.

As you can tell I’m totally confused, but that’s quite normal for me these days…or is it daze?

To add to my malady of mix-uppedness the president’s wife just read the Lord’s prayer in public. Can she do that?

Okay, I’m pretty sure she can since she actually did, but why does that seem un-normal?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled she did it. I just wish that simple act of reverence to God wasn’t out of the ordinary.

Either The Donald has been completely transformed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ that he’s a new man from who he used to be, which is so like Jesus to do that to a fella, or he’s bamboozling everybody for a rude awakening some morning.

I’m believing the first case is correct.

The liberal leaning media folks don’t know what to make of such a transformed individual or his wife. But that’s okay. Let them squirm for a while while God sets things back to His track of biblical responsibility.

As I recall Jesus’s disciples were more than a bit confused more than once in their time with Him.

Their most confusing time came after Jesus died on the cross.

All of their predetermined dreams of a kingdom ruled by the Messiah were shattered. The bitter taste of death lingered that whole Sabbath…until Sunday morning broke with the most unprecedented news anybody will ever hear.

The tomb was empty.

Jesus was not there.

Did they dare remember Him telling them He would come back to life?

They sat in their shock and wonderment and confusion…until the room brightened and the smell of burial spices filled their noses.

The war for the souls of mankind took a decisive turn that day. The Savior had accomplished His task.

His death was the sacrifice God demanded of us all.

The war goes on. That’s why the Lord’s Prayer is still causing an uproar when the first lady reads it in public.

The Messiah will reign on the throne. But more people must be touched by the news of Jesus’s sacrifice.

Rodents don’t determine the future. God does.

The media can’t control how often we tell someone about Jesus. We can.

This war is far from over, my fellow soldiers.

Let’s not let up on our efforts just because the leader of this country is a Christian.

Large scale victories don’t need to be won. Win souls one at a time.

Keep marching on our knees to the battle.

Don’t worry. I’ve read the end of the Book.

Our side wins.

Keep smiling.   Wade

This Week I Lingered at Linger

This past Friday and Saturday Stonebriar Community Church hosted the 2017 Linger Conference.

Why do they call it the Linger Conference?

I wondered the same thing until I received an email from the man in charge when I offered to volunteer for setting up on Thursday. The email came from none other than Chris Linger.

The opportunistic moniker did stand for quite a few references during the conference.

The Linger Room was set up in what Stonebriar calls The Hub. This was the prayer room that had musicians playing softly while folks gathered their thoughts and prayers from how the Holy Spirit was moving in their life.

Oh Yeah, I needed the Linger Room…more on that later.

There was a hashtag used for social media postings. #letuslinger

The goal of the speakers and singers was to get us to stop and analyze our Christian walk. This relationship with God is essential for survival. At least that’s been my experience.

It was after I signed up to volunteer that I learned we got into the conference for free. I wish my personal schedule had cooperated better.

I missed most of Friday to paint for rent money. I did get to hear Pastor Chuck speak. He started out a bit slow, but once he opened his Bible he hit full stride quickly.

He gave us 4 disciplines most effective Christians practice; Simplicity, Solitude, Silence and Surrender. That’s been pretty much the lifestyle God has had me on for quite a while now.

Before I could digest all of what that meant Lauren Diagle took the stage. I love her voice and the messages of her songs. That was a definite highlight I’m glad I didn’t miss.

The church was as full as a typical Sunday morning, except I didn’t recognize very many folks. There were a few buses from other cities in the parking lot. One was from Louisiana, another one from the other side or Wichita Falls.

I expected young people there. There were several of them in attendance, but we had quite a few peers from my age group there as well.

On Saturday Randy Alcorn was interviewed about Heaven. He hasn’t been there personally, but has studied the matter extensively from the Bible’s perspective. I’m looking forward to digging deeper into his book now.

Paul Bolache had a slight homecoming when he sang. He used to be the worship leader at a church in Lindale, Texas.

The final speaker was Jonathan Pokluda from Watermark church. I hadn’t heard of him, either. But I’m a fan now.

I think all the speakers got together to make sure they focused their attention on my marriage/divorce in some way. Either that, or the Holy spirit was convicting me about some things there.

If it wasn’t Chuck bringing up the Ephesian church leaving their first love it was Jonathan telling folks to hug their spouse if they came together.

I spilled a few tears in the Linger Room after that session.

Several seminaries and Christian universities set up booths to try to attract new students.

Hope Coffee made samples for us to drink. Oh yeah, I took full advantage of that offer. Even though it meant I had to slip out of some of the sessions for a bit.

During the final session Shane and Shane sang while I helped vendors put away what they didn’t sell. Lifeway books ended up with quite a few empty boxes. They were happy.

The last song was sung about 9pm. Folks didn’t seem to want to leave. They Lingered around the church for quite a while. I guess that means the conference was a huge success.

Please pray I can get in touch with Barb soon. I don’t know why I keep putting it off. Is it normal for a fella to feel nervous about asking his ex-wife out to lunch?

I told Chris Linger they could come back anytime. I hope they do. That was a true blessing.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

TELL ME MORE

A woman walked to the rock she chose for daily quiet time.

Suddenly a man appeared. His face was almost glowing. “You are about to conceive and give birth to a son even though you have been barren. Make sure you don’t drink anything from the vine or eat anything unclean. Never use a razor on his head. He shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb. He will begin to deliver My people from the Philistines.”

The woman ran home. She found Manoah and got his attention. “I met a man today. He must have been sent from God because his face was like nothing I’ve ever seen.”

Manoah sat in a chair. “What’s his name? Where is he from?”

“I…I don’t know. I didn’t ask and he didn’t say. He told me to stay away from alcohol and unclean things because I’m going to give birth to a son who will be used by God to deliver us from the Philistines.”

Manoah fell to his knees. “Dear LORD, please send that man back to tell us more about our son.”

******

A few days later the woman was on her stone again when the man appeared. She ran to tell her husband. She found him repairing a tool. “He’s back!”

Manoah stared at her. “Who?”

“The man from God.”

Manoah crossed the room. “Take me to him.”

She led him to the field. The man was still near the rock.

Manoah was panting as he leaned on the rock. “Are you the man who talked to my wife a few days ago?”

“Yes.”

Manoah stared into the man’s eyes. “What are we to teach our son? What will he do with his life?”

“Don’t let your wife drink wine or even eat grapes. Don’t allow her to eat anything unclean.”

Manoah swallowed. “Please let us prepare you a meal. I have a young goat.”

“I will not eat a meal, but you can offer it as a sacrifice on this rock.”

Manoah stood, then stopped. “What is your name so we can honor you when our son is born?”

The man shook his head. “My name is too wonderful for you to know.”

Manoah and his wife walked back to the house. “Grind some barley while I get some wood and the goat.”

They returned to the rock where the man was still waiting. The wood was arranged on the rock. The goat’s throat was slit before it was placed on the wood. The flour was thrown on the fire.

Manoah stood next to his wife to see the expression of the man. The heat from the flame shook the man’s appearance. He rose with the smoke into the sky as he disappeared.

Manoah fell to his knees. “We have seen God. We’re about to die.”

His wife knelt next to him. “If we were going to die He wouldn’t have accepted our offering. Besides, we have a son to make now.”

Manoah smiled as he led his wife back home.

************

Manoah is so like me. God tells him he’s going to be used for a purpose and the man wants to know the details.

Did you catch that?

Manoah asked God to come back after the news is delivered that they were going to have news to deliver about a son. This guy wants to know what they’re supposed to teach this kid and what his occupation is going to be.

God is as God always is. He doesn’t deviate from what He said earlier. “Don’t let your wife drink any alcohol or eat anything unclean because this boy is special.”

Wayne Stiles has a great quote from his book, Waiting on God. “We want God’s plan so we can trust the plan. God hides the plan so we will trust Him.”

If we knew most of the details about our future we’d do our best to change them.

God is shaping us into the instrument He needs by what we endure. Pain is often included in the process. We want to avoid pain at all cost.

Let God be God. Don’t try to tell Him what to do and when to do it. You’re just setting yourself up for frustration when you do that.

Manoah was so out of touch with his spiritual life with God that he had no clue he was talking to God, in the form of Jesus (yeah, it’s complicated), until God disappeared with the smoke.

Are you on speaking terms with God? That’s what prayer is.

Do you recognize God when He shows up? He’s everywhere you know.

Is God your heavenly Father? Jesus died to make that a reality.

Our spiritual life is much different from what Manoah and his wife experienced because of what Jesus did on the cross. Take Jesus’s gift of eternal life now so God is real in your life.

I wondered why God didn’t tell Manoah His name here. Then I realized the man was probably planning on naming the boy after this guy he was talking to.

If that would have happened we wouldn’t be telling the stories of Samson, but I Am.

The book of Judges records a pathetic period of Israel’s history. “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

I hope that quote caught your attention. That’s not from today’s newspaper or internet news service feed, but it could be.

We have enemies attacking us now just like Israel did back then. God used judges to rescue them then.

We have the Judge coming to rescue us soon.

Jesus’s second coming isn’t spoken about as much as it should be.

When He does come there will be no doubt who He is. His judgement will be final.

The enemy will be bound and Jesus will sit on His throne.

Those of us who accept Jesus’s death as the death we deserved will be with Him as He reigns.

If you’re reading this it isn’t too late for you.

Become God’s child today.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

I’m More Valuable Than a Bird or Flower

I’ve been shang-hide lately for toddler duty by the fine staff in the early childhood department of Stonebriar Community Church.

I don’t really mind it too much. I mean what’s a toddler whisperer going to say when asked to watch tots so their parents can worship in big church?

This all started on the first Sunday of the year, which was also January first.

They purchased new tee shirts for the department. Shannon insisted I take one…for the summer months, she said. It was in the 70’s today, but that ain’t summer in Texas.

I told Shannon I felt like I was being drafted into the duty. Now I know I should have a jersey with a big number on it and print my name in the program they hand out to the parents.

There’s only been one Sunday I wasn’t with the kids so far this year.

Mateo really needs Mr. Wade to give him attention when he first arrives. He typically settles down in a couple of minutes.

Isabella got tired again, but she didn’t nod off into a nap as she often does.

Emma and Kate, the twins, settled in pretty quickly, too. Even though some of the other adults wanted to set them on the buggy. After Mr. Wade assured them they’d be fine we were all happy.

Today’s Bible lesson covered the portion of the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus talks about worrying, Matthew 6:25-34.

He goes on to say the birds don’t have 401K accounts, yet they survive just fine. The flowers don’t shop at the best stores in the mall, but they’re prettier than anybody.

Don’t worry. That’s my paraphrase, not something the church adheres to.

I think about those verses often whenever I run in Archgate Park. Last October we had a fantastic migration of Monarch butterflies moving through.

There’s some native growing plants that were loaded with flowers at the time. Those bugs tanked up on the nectar so they could continue on their trek to Mexico.

One week later the plants that were blooming for the bugs had gone to seed. Not to worry, though. God had the plants that were still green the previous week in full bloom.

That was extremely handy since there were at least three times as many butterflies at the park.

I just smiled and thanked God for proving His faithfulness yet again.

God has had me on a manna diet for quite a while now. The driving jobs that were plentiful around Christmas are drying up. My bank accounts are low, but I’m not worried. Jesus says He’s got me covered.

How about you? Are you sweating the details of your life?

Don’t think you can’t make changes to help your situation out. I’m planning on implementing some business tactics that I hope will get me out from behind the wheel of an eighteen wheeler soon.

When the publisher I was using to print my books closed their doors I didn’t fret then either. I was frustrated, but I know God’s timing isn’t for those books to come out now.

An interesting thing just happened at the Super Bowl. The team that won was only in the lead at the end of the game.

Don’t give up, my friend. If you’re still walking the face of this earth God has a plan for you.

He’ll provide what you need in His time. And it will be glorious, just like the flowers and birds.

Keep smiling.   Wade