Monday, May 31, 2010

Why Y'all hatin on me; don't God say judge not?

Why you hatin on me? The bible says judge not.

That's what the young man said when a member of his church mentioned to him in private that the music on his I-pod and his phone ring tones were inconsistent with the testimony he gave in church. Earlier, the same church member had praised him publicly for his service in the church, his volunteerism and apparent desire to live the Christian life. That didn't matter, the young man went off!

"That's what's wrong with people, they always hatin and judging people. Don't the bible say judge not?" The young man said angrily.

In his mind, people should only tell him what he likes to hear; if there is something he doesn't like, they should not think it or speak it to anyone else.

When our weaknesses are pointed out we call that judging or hatin. When our strengths are highlighted, that's not judging.

When the member praised the young man's good points publicly he made a judgment based on what he saw. The young man had no objection because he perceived those statements as being deserved. When the same member made another judgment and spoke to him in private about his inconsistencies, he called that judging him or hatin.

In reality, the bible encourages us to evaluate the actions of those in the church, but to be careful to evaluate the actions by the same standard we would also like to be evaluated by. Evaluations and judgments based on hearsay, assumptions and perceptions may not be accurate or fair. However, if we report an observation of an action that does not call for speculation or assumption and do it in the manner that the word describes, it is not only scriptural but actually required of all believers.

When we see believers doing good things we should praise them. That calls for a judgment.

When we see believers involved in ungodly pursuits that are harmful and inconsistent with the faith, we should tell them privately. That calls for a judgment, too.

There is a phrase that follows, "Judge not..." Look at John 7:24 "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment."

Then there is this passage that really makes the point, "1 Corinthians 5:12-13 "I'm not responsible for what the outsiders do, but don't we have some responsibility for those within our community of believers? God decides on the outsiders, but we need to decide when our brothers and sisters are out of line and, if necessary, clean house."

The purpose of a destructive criticism is to tear a person down. However, the purpose of a constructive criticism is to help correct and build a person up.

Unfortunately, we call anything we don't like to hear "Hatin."

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Sunday, May 30, 2010

I brought you in this world, I'll take you out

When your mama talks, keep your mouth shut.

The young lady was right; her mother had the wrong information. However, she tried to exchange words with her mother, rolled her eyes and then tried to walk off while her mother spoke. The conversation changed to confrontation, it became threatening, insults were exchanged, then the mother slapped the daughter several times.

Then there was silence.


A few hours later, the mother learned that her daughter had been right about their issue. Apologies followed. Then there were more tears and requests for forgiveness.

Two lessons were learned that day. Parents should allow their children a chance to speak, uninterrupted, to explain themselves when questions arise. Situations often have odd appearances but logical explanations. Some clarifications reduces the need to argue.

The second lesson is that no matter how wrong your mother may be in an argument; "Be still, and keep your mouth shut while she is speaking and don't say one word after she has spoken unless asked." Mothers deserve a tremendous amount of respect, but they can be wrong. We must find ways to tactfully differ with them that does not show disrespect.

When there is a heated exchange between mother and child, many mothers in our neck of the woods have been known to throw down the gauntlet and say, "Keep messing with me, I brought you in this world and I'll take you out." -It's a threat spoken in tested love but carries serious implications.

Millions on our side of the track have been hit with shoes, switches, books, dishes, fan belts, straps, telephone receivers and just about anything else when we crossed our mothers and showed disrespect.They mean what they say.

Wise mothers have learned to listen to their children, treat them with respect and to act in love even in the midst of controversy and disagreement.

Wise children will always, approach mothers with respect; even when they believe she's wrong.

That's non-debatable.

Exodus 20:12 "Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee."

Mother and daughter learned something after they finished their argument. The daughter learned to show her mother respect but she also learned although her mother said she would "take her out" in reality her mother would give up her own life if it would save her daughter.

In anger bad feelings prevail, but love conquers all.

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Saturday, May 29, 2010

One bus prayed, while the other watched

One bus was seeking praise the other plays.

It was an odd sight. Two buses met on the parking lot of the local Wal-Mart last night. The parking lot is regular loading spot for those who are riding private buses to one destination or another. Last night, one of the buses was filled with people who were going to sing praises to God in Florida. Ironically, the other bus was filled with people who were going to gamble at a Mississippi casino. (The casino charters buses to outlying cities and offers them free rides to gamble.)

The riders of the first bus formed a huge circle on the parking lot and prayed fervently for a safe passage and for God's blessing for their purpose. The second group did not pray but watched from the bus windows.

It must have been an odd moment for the riders of the first bus because there were many recognized as prominent church members on the first bus, slipping away in the dark to gamble. Something should have clicked inside when they saw the people on the second bus praying while they sat snugly, comfortably and securely watching.

Both buses left the lot, one group traveling to sing and praise and another group hoping to bet money or pick a slot machine that pays.

There is a bible passage that says, Joshua 24:15 "Choose you this day whom ye will serve;... but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."

We all choose to ride a life bus; only one will take us to peace in the arms of God. The other is a losing bet.

We have to choose which bus we will ride.

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Friday, May 28, 2010

He raped them with his eyes, was that wrong?

He didn't touch them, but he raped them with his eyes!

A young man told me that he often rapes women with his eyes. He said when he sees females whose breasts protrude or pants tightly fit all of their curves he gets excited and he imagines himself undressing them, tearing off the rest of their clothes and ravishing them. He said the women invited him to imagine what it would be like to ravish them because they dressed in ways that invited him. So, with his eyes, he raped them; sometimes as many as seven or eight women a day.

He said he didn't do anything wrong because he only undressed them with his eyes; and only those who dressed in ways that invited fantasy voyeurism. He read in the bible where sexual impurity is a sin before God, but he said he never crosses the line; he keeps himself pure. He never touches these women or takes any inappropriate actions. In fact, they don't even know they have been undressed in his mind.

He wanted to know if thinking about doing it with these women was a sin.

There is only one answer.

Matthew 5:27-28 "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart."

Put in that context, there are many people who are guilty, not just this young man. There are some women who are guilty as well.

It appears that our fantasies can get us in trouble with the big guy above.

God doesn't just judge us by what we do, but also by what we think. So, we must work diligently to think on those things that will be acceptable to Him.

We shouldn't dress in ways that tempt others and neither should we let reckless eyeballing plunge us into disfavor with the Lord.

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

He wouldn't tell her he loved her; she kept asking

He said he loved her, but didn't want anyone to know.

A friend answered his phone and spoke to one of his significant others. At the end of the conversation, she could be heard saying, "Say, you love me" to which he answered "I do." She repeatedly asked, "Say it! Say you love me." He looked at us and said, "I do." Finally, he turned his back and whispered into the phone "I love you." We all laughed; he didn't mean a word he said.

We've all seen the people who were ashamed to own their lovers in public. They are good people in private, but not in public. There are some who are not very good at the mushy stuff, but there are others who have a good reason why they don't express love in public; their secret may be revealed.

I would hate to be the secret lover, the one that is kept in the dark from the rest of the world. That's the one that hears all the words of praise in private but never in public. It should be a horrible feeling being the other woman or the other man.

Imagine how God feels when we confess our love for him in private but when we are among our friends, co-workers and school mates, we have to speak of him quietly, almost apologetically, afraid to let anyone know. It must be a horrible feeling to God to be our secret love, to be worshipped at home, privately but never never recognized in public.

Luke 9:26 says, "For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels."

Soon after my friend finished whispering "I love you" quietly into the phone, his other girl appeared just as he shut off his phone.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Court benches are hard, we all have a bench

In court, everyone sits on the same hard bench

It's a humbling experience when you go to court. Everyone sits on the same hard bench, blending into a sea of nameless faces oblivious of title and position. Every one of the accused is exposed, and completely vulnerable; unable to avoid the embarassing revelations about to be revealed.

I attended a court session yesterday. A former congressman had to appear in court on charges that he pulled a gun on two black youth accusing them of stealing his wallet. I watched the Congressman, sitting on the last row in the court to avoid being noticed. I also watched as he tried to justify pulling the gun. They were not the suspects. He was wrong.

Police didn't jail him because of his status. He missed two other trial dates because of his status. Unable to avoid it any longer he stood before a judge, stripped of title and prestige to answer for his acts.

Standing in front of the judge, he plead No Contest to his charge.

One day each of us will stand before the judgment seat of Christ. It will be a humbling experience that will prove to be an equalizer. Our positions, titles and influence won't matter. When our record is read and the highlight video of our life is replayed, we may have to plead "No contest."

I thought of a bible passage that says, in Romans 14:10-12 "...for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God."

Like the Congressman we may plead "No contest" or "Guilty" but unlike him our hope is in Christ's promise to intercede on our behalf to get the final sentence -"Forgiven."

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I spill, you spill, oil spills; who cleans it up?

I spill things sometimes, who cleans it up?

Occasionally, I spill things: a glass a water here, a can of soda there. Often not much damage is done except the time I spilled a can of Coke on my lap top computer. I once spilled spaghetti on my necktie, it dropped right off the spoon. A trash bag burst once and all of the contents spilled on to my wife's newly waxed floor. I spilled a whole glass of water once on the crouch area of my pants once; people stared because it looked as if I had wet myself. It was a big spot.

We all spill things, the question is: "Who cleans up afterwards?"

I usually grab a towel or whatever is available and try to clean up behind myself, but my wife says my efforts to cleanup only mess up more. She has to take over to get it done right.

When I spill something, it's usually small. What if I spilled something bigger?

In New Orleans there is a massive oil spill that is devastating the Louisiana Coast. An oil well owned by British Petroleum, Inc. (BP) exploded, killed many workers and is spewing over 210,000 gallons of oil a day into the Gulf of Mexico. Birds, fish and livelihoods are being threatened. BP has promised to clean it up and pay everyone for their losses including the state and individual businesses and families.

Even that huge commitment is not enough at present because the oil is still spewing into the water and it appears to worsen daily. The complaints are multiplying.

When it's all over who will clean it up? Except for the lives lost, BP promises to restore everything. It may be too big a job for BP alone. Some want that government to take over and manage the recovery.

Sometimes we mess up in our lives. Like a giant spill we mess up everything. Like BP, we promise to make it all right but despite our best plans we can't stop the massive seepage everyday.

It's obvious that we need a higher power to take over and manage our recovery. We can't save ourselves from ourselves. We need God's help. He has the power to get the job done. We need God's power for restoration.

There is a bible passage that says, "Psalms 51:10-12 "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit."

That can of Coke that spilled on my laptop cost me about $1,500 to replace the unit. That's one spill that won't happen again.

My life spills costs a lot too; that's why I'm taking extra caution to insure that they don't happen again.

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Monday, May 24, 2010

A fight, bullhorns and shouts at a graduation?

A fight and shouts at a graduation? Believe it.

I attended a graduation last week but couldn't really enjoy the moment because of the distractions. I sat behind man who held a half dozen helium filled balloons that blocked the view of the stage of about 100 people behind him. To my left, two women were pulling on each other, fighting over something that must have been senseless; they stopped before it escalated too far. On the podium, the graduates marched across the stage but their names were inaudible as their "fans" blew bull horns and screams. It all made the graduation less enjoyable because of all of the distractions.

I always thought that graduations were joyous but extremely dignified events. For the parents and grandparents in the audience graduations have even more importance because many made great sacrifices to for their family graduate to walk across the stage. To have that moment stolen by foolish antics, fighting, and shouting is disheartening. They worked so long to hear that name called, only to have it drowned out or upstaged by the undisciplined.

Those who did their own thing and stole the moment from others had fun themselves, but they did not act wisely or prudently.

There is a bible verse that says,(Proverbs 10:23) It is as sport to a fool to do mischief: but a man of understanding hath wisdom.

Those who act foolishly at graduations, might deserve a few days of detention; at least until they learn wisdom.

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Monday, May 17, 2010

Saint on Sunday thug the rest of the week

He was a pastor but he looked like a thug; he said people should not judge him.

The young man was pastor of an old church in our community. On Sunday, he preached a powerful word that was truly awesome. On other days he, cursed loudly, dressed with with his pants sagging, sported wife beater tee-shirts, played gangsta rap music loudly from his car, and was constantly in the news for confrontations with his boyfriend that got him arrested. He said people should not judge him, only God do that. He even challenged members of his church to cast the first stone.

Somehow the young man didn't get the picture. His Sunday picture differed from the picture people saw the remaining six days. He became upset when other believers rightly expected both pictures to be the same.

That expectation applies not just to pastors, but to believers, too. It's confusing to non-believers when they see God's best doing the same sinful things that they do. Is Sunday the only day that believers are expected to be holy?

I hope I give an example of a life lived with restraint, though error proned. I hope I give the image of a person bubbling with enthusiasm, highly committed and energized but willing to admit mistakes and redirect. I hope I give the right image to those who see me; if I don't then I am an embarrassment to the cross.

There is a passage of scripture in 1 Peter 1:15-17 "As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God's life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness. God said, "I am holy; you be holy." You call out to God for help and he helps—he's a good Father that way. But don't forget, he's also a responsible Father, and won't let you get by with sloppy living. Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of God."

That young minister eventually left the church and moved to another city. He left his pastorate, all he really had to do was change his life.

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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Selling her life at a rummage sale

A friend died this year, everything she owned is being sold at a rummage sale today.

A friend of ours died this year. She spent her life helping people and serving God. All of her worldly goods were stored in a warehouse but were given to our Boy Scout Troop to sell at a rummage sale. Furniture, silverware, microwave oven, jewelry, designer purses (with money in them) and much more are all being sold today for 10cents, $1 dollar and other low prices.

It's amazing what we value so much in life is worth so little when we leave. That's why its important to store up treasures in heaven. What's important to us in this life, will be sold by others for a dime; but what's stored in heaven will be enjoyed by you for eternity.

There is a bible verse that says, Matthew 6:19-20 "Don't hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it's safe from moth and rust and burglars."

At the rummage sale today, we will sell what she left behind; remnants of her life. But her real treasure is in heaven.

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

I lost my signal in the middle of my call.

Right in the middle of our conversation, I lost my signal.

The phone call was rather important I thought, especially since the two of us had been trying to connect for quite some time but had been playing phone tag. When we finally caught up with each other our exchange of information began; then suddenly the phone went dead.

"Hello, Hello, Can you hear me?" -There was no answer. Either I lost my signal or he lost his.

With all of the pressing technology that exists today no one should expect to finish a conversation because the prospect of an interrupted signal always exists.

When I thought about that I wondered about our conversations with God. Is it possible that some of us have been playing phone tag with God; He's been leaving us messages and we've been promising to get back to Him at our earliest convenience. That's when we promise to pray, read a devotional, or to attend a worship but never get around to it.

Even worse, there are times when we really need to talk to God but we lose our signal. You see, God hangs up on us if we try to talk to him while we are in the midst of our sins. Sometimes He looks at the ID, sees it's from someone who wants something but doesn't want to repent to get it. I'm sure when I'm in that state, my call gets ignored. It's like trying to talk to your grandmother while smoking a joint; she won't hear a word you have to say.

Better than Verizon or AT ant T, God can connect with us anywhere. There are no dead zones; but he has rules. We can't ask for blessings, healings,and guidance while we are willfully living sinful lives without repentance. If we want to get a call through without an interruption, we should make our first call an earnest plea for forgiveness; God will know it and pick up the phone.

There is a bible passage in Psalms 66:18 that says, "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me."

When we are straight with God the followings verses say in Psalms 66:19-20, "But verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me."

It's best that I try to straighten myself out before I try to hookup with God, or he may just hang up; or worse, not answer.

When he calls the next time, I'll change my location; find a signal and stay there, so I won't be interrupted again.

I'll do the same for my business caller, too.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I didn't look old enough for my discount

They didn't want to give me my discount; I didn't look old enough.

One of the advantages of being 61 is that you get all of these senior discounts. Some places give seniors as much as twenty percent discounts. Hotels, restaurants, stores, buses; the list is limitless. It's great! So, imagine my surprise yesterday when the cashier at a local Chinese Restaurant refused to give me my 10 percent discount. She said I didn't look old enough.

It might have been because they stared at me as I sat at a table alone using my I-Pad 3G and read 10 newspapers, scanned the State Legislative agenda, sent two emails and wrote a lengthy blog; all while sipping hot and sour soup, and nibbling fried rice covered with vegetables. I guess I didn't look or act old.

How is a 61 year old supposed to act? Bent? Broken? Out of touch? How am I supposed to look? Wrinkled? Tattered? Should I have small slow steps? Should my voice quiver and hand shake? Should I need help opening a door? Should I think Youtube is a tire and not recognize Lil Wayne?

Health and awareness is not reserved for the young; millions of seniors have the peculiar advantage of the wisdom of age and the health, strength and awareness to take advantage of what life has taught. They don't look or act old although they surely have many miles on their motors.

Moses lived to be 120 and the bible says his eyes were not dimmed and his force was not diminished. That Moses dude was cool. I like his style; he didn't even have a funeral, he lived to the last day then disappeared. Way to go!

Psalms 92:14 says, "They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing." That just about describes it!

The cashier made me produce my driver's license then said, "You won't turn 61 until next month."

"That's true," I said as I pointed to discount sign posted near the register, "But I turned 60 last year."

I got my discount and logged into my Twitter account as I walked out of the door.

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

No knife or fork, just chicken and french fries

She didn't know how to use a knife and fork,why was I surprised?

Yesterday, I met a young lady, about 20 years old, who caught my attention when I discovered that she did not know how to use a knife and fork to cut her meat at dinner. It was a revelation because she admitted that many in her generation don't eat foods that require cutting. "We eat chicken, nuggets and french fries," she said. Then I recalled a few years ago I attended a dinner in which steaks were served and I noticed an 18 year old trying to cut the steak with the dull side of the knife. It dawned on me that she did notknow how to use the knife because meats that required cutting were not in her diet.

A generation that has been reared on junk food and fast food has no need for knives at the dinner table; they only order finger foods and quick foods anyway.

There are many in life who are not ready to receive the rich blessings that God has for them in all matters of life because they have junk food expectations. If God delivered them an 18 ounce steak sized blessing, they wouldn't know how to handle it because they are accustomed to finger foods. A small blessing is all they want or expect out of life.

Finger foods: owning a car, not owning the dealership.
Finger foods: being a nurse's aide, not a nurse
Finger foods: wearing knockoffs, not the originals.
Finger foods: working at McDonald's, not owning the franchise.

Big blessings require a little cutting; they are too big to digest at one time. Little blessing can be nibbled and digested in small nuggets.

Many are not ready for the big blessings but will settle for french fries all of their lives. The Lord prepares a table of big blessings for each of us but often we pick over the good stuff, looking for chicken and french fry blessings.

Yet, God has prepared some big stuff for us in life. He has spread out a full course of possibilities. The big things he has planned for us are tasty, but they won't be nuggets; we'll have to work with them to spiritually digest them, but they will be good for us.

The bible says, in Psalms 34:8 O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.

The young lady I met told me that it didn't matter how fancy the restaurant, she would still browse the menu looking chicken and french fries; that's all she wants, that's all she will get.

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Monday, May 10, 2010

The preacher was a wedding no-show, three times

The preacher didn't show up for my wedding; three times!

Yesterday, my wife and I celebrated our 36th wedding anniversary. It has been 36 years that began with the three failed marriage attempts, and 12 years of messups on my part.

In 1974 my wife and I decided to get married after two years of courtship. We contacted a local preacher to marry us but he didn't show up; he forgot. We ate the food, drank the punch and set another wedding date two weeks later, using the same preacher. He didn't show up for that one either. With a week left on the license we found another preacher, and set another date. He didn't show up either.

Finally, we found a preacher, he hurriedly signed the license before the expiration date, we filed it in the Caldwell Parish Courthouse and we went back to work. Done deal. No vows, no ceremony, no punch; but it was legal.

Since that time I have tried to be a good husband.

I think the last 24 years have been closer to the ideal than the first twelve. During the first 12 years of our marriage my ministry and business persuits were all consuming. My wife and family were secondary and it caused us considerable problems as I plunged all of our meager resources into what I called ministry but were really candies for my ego.

In the 12th year I came home to find my wife crying. She was pouring out her soul and her face was covered with tears. She had followed me in every pursuit: business, pastorate, politics and community service but did not enjoy the fact that she and my three sons were always second place to whatever new venture I conjured up. It would have been better if I had a mistress, someone to physically compete with, but how do you compete with an ego based dream that was so big that it took in the whole world but had little room for those close to it? It fact, it was all consuming.

She said, "You are saving the world but losing your own family."

That was staggering. I was faithful, I paid the bills, and kept food on the table. I thought that was all that was required. I thought I could give lectures to others about how to make a marriage work; but the sight of my wife crying said I needed to take the class, not teach it.

I got the message.

That same year I resigned as: President of the NAACP, President of the Baptist Association, and as a member of seven boards and committees. I tried to resign as pastor of the church but the church wouldn't accept my resignation. They told me to take off when I needed and whenever we did take off, they provided for her to go as well.

Since that day I operate with a different set of priorities: God, family, the world. Yes, I'm still trying to save the world I guess, but I'm trying to save my wife and family FIRST, then the world.

She doesn't cry anymore. We laugh a lot. We fight poverty together. We spend an inordinate amount of time and money helping youth. We plunge into civic projects together. Then sometimes, regardless to what anybody thinks, we take off and just disappear to who knows where; sometimes without notice.

She likes that.

God gave me a good thing. Through her, he has blessed me for 36 years of marriage and two years of courtship.

The bibles says, Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD. Proverbs 18:22

About that wedding ceremony we never had; we plan to have one on our 50th anniversary! I'll get my son to perform the ceremony; I know he'll show up.

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Sunday, May 02, 2010

We rode above the storm.

Life looked so peaceful above the clouds; who would have thought there was a storm below!

My wife and I took a few days off last week and flew to Chicago for a dinner, a movie and some shopping. On the flight I heard the captain announce over the intercom that we would be cruising at 35,000 feet but there was a storm underway in the Chicago area. In fact, he expected the flight to be delayed a few minutes waiting for storm related runway clearances.

If there was a storm brewing below we couldn't tell. Outside our window the clouds floated like puffy white balls of cotton, gliding peacefully and quietly. The plane seemed oblivious to the storm that was forming below and the cotton candy clouds were an awesome display of God's ability to manage our situation while pushing our jet through the skies at 600 miles per hour.

We were riding above the storm nestled in the relative peace and security of the clouds, sipping orange juice and in-flight nick-knacks, while God cleared a path for our plane to land. The captain said there was a storm below; he didn't seem to worry about it, we didn't either. We read the sky mall magazine and laughed as we floated on the jet stream.

I remember a passage from Psalms 36:5 that says, "Thy mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds."

God controls the storms of our lives. If we will trust him he will hold us above the storm, then reach into the clouds and guide us gently to the ground, Hallelujah.

When our plane touched down, the storm had passed and the sun was shining. As we stepped off the plane we heard two captains say, "Have a great day!"

Two captains: One flew the plane and the other held it in the air.

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