Friday, February 20, 2015


It's been more than a few years now.. that the owner of the florist shop in our city here in Tennessee waits for me. Wondering if once again.. in January.. I will walk through the front door of the florist shop to order the gardenias.    

And when I do...she smiles with a look of relief, sorta, and says, "Another year?"  And I nod my head with joy and order the gardenias ( a wrist band, a corsage) for my father to give to my mother on their Wedding Anniversary - which is TODAY.. February 20th.  72 YEARS.

On February 20, 1943, my mother's bridal bouquet was filled with gardenias.  The smell of a gardenia always reminds her of her wedding day and makes her smile.  Since making her smile is one of my father's primary goals in life..every anniversary for the past seventy one years. my father made sure she got gardenias.  

Nowadays, he isn't able to drive anymore, but he still makes getting the gardenias his number one priority.  Starting in January he reminds me that February 20th is coming soon and I reassure him that I've got the gardenias ordered.   He makes sure we have the money to pay for them... The florist owner and workers have met them and love them (who doesn't?) and comment - as does almost everyone - how unusual it is for two people their age to still have one another.   It is unusual. It is A BLESSING.  

Later this morning, Phil and I will drive to the florist...pick up the gardenias... bring them to my parent's house.. and watch my saint of a father... hand the gardenia to my saint of a mother.. and she will say, "Ohhhh Honey... You got me gardenias????"  - as if this is the first time ever -  and hug him and kiss him and he will smile.

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY to my parents.  Their lives are worthy of being honored.. and I honor them.

And while the family gathers to sing to them, watch them they blow out the candles on their 72 Anniversary cake, while we laugh and love and gather at their home as a family... my unspoken prayer will be  that next January.... I will once again walk through the door of the florist shop and place my father's order.  

Getting the gardenias again is all I really want.

I love you Dad.  I love you Mom.

Sunday, February 15, 2015


It's too bad for you that I didn't have this blog thirty or forty years ago.   Back then I knew everything.  True, I was a self-anointed know-it-all, but there was a part of me that was simply trying to help people get through life.  I thought I could help them.   I wanted to help others.  Sometimes I did. Sometimes I didn't.  As life has progressed, I have been faced with the reality that there are many, many things I do not know.  

  • ....the reason why the people who make the ketchup I buy insist on putting it in plastic  bottles that cannot be twisted open. 
  • .....why some people do not feel guilty about getting on the "Fifteen Items Or Less" line at the supermarket with 900 items in their cart.
  • ....why gas prices are $4.50 a gallon one week, and $1.99 a gallon one week later.
  • ....God's purpose for chin hairs on post-menopausal women. 
  • you can love someone with real, deep love and they can walk away from you in an instant when you do - or don't do - what they want you to do or not do.
  • to explain to good and godly parents why they have endured the loss of a child.
  • ....what is in another person's heart.
  • ....why people are filled with such murderous hate toward others.

And this morning, I read the words God spoke to the prophet, Jeremiah.  Jeremiah didn't ASK to be God's prophet - He was TOLD he was God's prophet.  And because of this, the people hated and persecuted him.  

And so, in the middle of being held captive, and being mistreated by his own people, God speaks to Jeremiah and says, "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know."  (Jeremiah 33:3)

He DID NOT say to Jeremiah, "Call to me and I will answer all your questions about why I do what I do in your life."   No, God simply promised to tell Jeremiah WHAT HE DID NOT KNOW. 

I think sometimes, when I am in a valley season in life... I call to God.. because I believe He owes me an explanation for what He is allowing. 

But God is God and I am not.
And when I call to Him.... He will tell me what I do not know.
And maybe it isn't what I want to know.
It's always what I do not already know.

Maybe it's that I do not know.... HIM.
Maybe He reminds me of HIs vast and mighty power.
Maybe He fills me with His comfort that I have never known before.

And I pray that just like His promise to Jeremiah, His promise is to all of us:
IF we call to Him.
He will tell us what we do not know.  
We do not know.......almost everything about God.

And whatever He tells me will be what I need to know.
And usually, I need to know... that He loves me and has not forgotten me.. and will not let go of me.... and will never leave me or forsake me. 

I call.
He answers.
And when He does, I know something I did not know before I called. 
Something He knows I need to know. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015


Who would have guessed that in 2015 one of the lead news stories would be about an outbreak of measles? People are running in terror from Mickey Mouse - because Disneyland is where the outbreak started. NOBODY WANTS TO CATCH THE MEASLES.

Reminds me of the story in Luke 17 about The Ten Lepers. These ten men were outside the city..banished from family, friends, their home, their jobs... because they had a skin disease.. leprosy....and nobody wanted to catch it.  Who can blame them? Who wants a hug so badly that they'd be willing to catch leprosy to have one? No one.

It's obvious that these lepers had heard about Jesus.  They called His Name, "JESUS!"  -  They used His title, "MASTER" - They knew what would heal them - "HAVE MERCY ON US!" 

He did have mercy. "Go show yourselves to the priests" he said. Jewish custom required that someone with a skin disease would only be allowed back in to society if the priest of the local synagogue declared them "clean."  As they walked.. as they did what Jesus told them to do.. they became clean. 

But yesterday I noticed something about this story that I had never noticed before:

He said, "Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?" (verse 17)

Yesterday, this fact hit me for the first time, even though I've read this story hundreds of times.
BUT THIS IS NOT A SPIRITUAL ETIQUETTE WARNING STORY.  This is not a warning to "make sure you remember to say "thanks to God." Because truth is, the other nine remained cleansed.  Even without taking the time to thank God, to acknowledge the great and undeserving miraculous mercy Jesus had shown them...  He didn't say, "Well, if you're not gonna say 'thanks' then you're gonna get your leprosy back."  No, He cleansed them... and though they didn't take the time to give glory to God.. to thank Jesus....they stayed cleansed.

But I realized yesterday that main lesson of this story is not about what happened to the other nine because they didn't give glory to God - it's about what happened to the one who did.

When he saw he was healed - he came back to the One who had healed him. LOUDLY praising God. Falling at Jesus feet.  
Did he touch Jesus? Scripture doesn't say, but if he did, it was the first undefiled human he had touched in a while. 

And then Jesus said to this thankful man, "Rise up and go. Your faith has made you well."  Well? Wasn't he already well? Weren't the other nine well? Their faith had nothing to do with being cleansed - according to Scripture. It wasn't their faith that cleansed them.. it was MERCY. GOD'S MERCY.  
I thought, "So what's the deal with the one guy?  What did he gain more than the other nine for being thankful? For giving glory to God? Nothing?

So I studied the words.
And Jesus said that this thankful leper's faith had made him "WHOLE"  Get your concordance out.. if you want to.. but the word means something closer to "saved".. "saved from judgment".... The others nine were cleansed.

But the thankful guy was saved. Whole. Restored in every way. Spiritually. Physically. Emotionally. 

This thankful former leper, had shown himself to Jesus, the Great High Priest, and He declared this man cleansed and able to be restored to God's Kingdom. 
HIS FAITH - expressed in pure worship and thankfulness, acknowledging that mercy had cleansed him - saved him completely.

We are all lepers.  Banished from God and HIS KINGDOM. Some of us admit it. Some of us do not.  We are not in God's Kingdom because we are "good Christians" (a redundant phrase if there ever was one)... we are there because of MERCY. MERCY. MERCY.

And while many former lepers are just happy to have their outer lives looking clean again.....we read the Bible.. and if we do what it says... the principles in there will clean us up outwardly. 

But God wants more.  He doesn't want us to settle for Him saving our skin.. making our lives here better.. 

He wants us to be new INSIDE.

And so when He has mercy on us... and cleanses us.. He wants us to show ourselves to JESUS, OUR HIGH PRIEST.... acknowledging that God deserves the glory for our healing and restoration...  
and fully comprehending that our ONLY HOPE is JESUS..
He says.. "Get up and GO.. Your faith has TAKEN all your spiritual leprosy. YOU ARE COMPLETELY WHOLE." 

When we worship.
When we glorify God with our mouths. 
With our hearts.
With everything within us.
God does an inner work that cannot be explained.
Every time.
We aren't MORE SAVED.
WE are more HEALED.

LOUDLY thank Him.
With YOUR MOUTH give glory to GOD for what HE has done.
Instead of reminding Him of the stuff in your life that is difficult.
Or the stuff He still has NOT DONE 
for what He has done..
you will uncover a cleansing INSIDE that cannot be explained.

For God, saving our skin is just the first step.
Making us whole is the whole plan.

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