“Awesome”

Every once in a while, something happens that I like to call a “mountaintop” experience.  It is one of those times when something that is so special happens, that you soar to the “mountaintop” of emotion and praise.  It may be a Sunday evening when 4 people are baptized (2 young couples, and the two men are now elders in that church).  It could be an assembly in a lectureship at ACU, where the large crowd sings “May the Lord Bless You, and Keep You.”  It could have been a Preacher’s Sermon Workshop in Austin, Texas; where those that are assembled sing “Our God, He is Alive” — and the hair on your arms and neck stand straight up.

I’m sure that if you think about it, you can remember a time in your spiritual journey, when you have had a “mountaintop” experience.  If you would like, you might mention in the comment section below.

Last night, in our Sunday night class — there was just such an experience for me.  We watched a DVD titled “How Great is Our God.”  The speaker was Louie Giglio, and the things that he said reminded us of just how awesome our God really is.  One sweet lady stood up, after the dismissal prayer, and said loud enough, that those around her could hear:  “I don’t know about everyone else, but I thought that was great.”  One brother commented to me, “That made me feel so small and insignificant, but at the same time made me feel so significant.”

This morning, in my reading of the Psalms (133-139), there were some passages that reminded me of the message from last night.

May the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth, bless you from Zion.  (134:3)

I know that the Lord is great, that our Lord is greater than all gods.  (135:5)

Though the Lord is on high, he looks upon the lowly, …  (138:6)

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  (139:14)

Our God is an AWESOME God!  We should be in awe of all that He has done, and offer our praise to Him through the practice of our life.  May God give us the strength, courage, and wisdom to do that!  Peace.

(This was first posted on Facebook, May 23, 2016.  It is being used on this site as one of our “Psalms for Saturday“.  It is my prayer that it will be a blessing to you.  Bill)

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“Attitude of Gratitude”

One thing that was stressed repeatedly in the Hooten house, was that the children would be respectful of adults.  Mom and Dad made sure that Christye and I, always said, “Yes Sir”; “No Sir“; “Please“; and “Thank you.”  It has become so ingrained into my thought process, that I can’t help myself — it is just of my nature.

Over the last 25 years, I have worked in offices where there have been secretaries that were anywhere from 10 to 30 years younger than me.  Quite often I was told, “You don’t have to say ‘Yes Ma’m,’ or ‘No Ma’am’ to me.”  I would tell them, that I HAD to — because that was the way that my mother taught me.  Being courteous, respectful, and grateful was expected of us — and, personally, I am glad that it was.

I suppose the one thing that they insisted on most, was that we be appreciative of what people do; especially for what they do for us.  Gratitude was something that needed to be expressed often, and “thanks” ought to be one of the most common words in our vocabulary.  Lanny Bahlman is a good friend that lives in Winters, Texas; and I’m pretty sure that our parents taught us the same way.  When we talk on the phone, the conversation always ends with Lanny saying “Thanks, Bill.”  This attitude of gratitude is going out of style, as their is more of a sense of entitlement now — and it is a crying shame!

When we are taught to develop a sense of gratitude toward the people around us, to the point that it becomes a integral part of who we are; it is easier to be thankful for all that God has done, and continues to do.  Four times in Psalm 107, the psalmist repeats the same instruction to be grateful for what God has done.   Notice what he says (ESV), in verses 8, 15, 21, and 31:

Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!

There have been people, in every congregation where I have preached, that have been an example to me, about being thankful to God in our public prayers.  There was one old brother, Tab Hatler, that stretched my ability to be thankful, when he expressed that he was “thankful for the great state of Texas“.  He stretched me, but I knew that he meant every word of it!  I am grateful for those that take the time in their prayers, like Ken Coffey and his sons, to thank God for the things that we often take for granted — the rain, the trees, the animals, the flowers, the sunshine, and the beauty of everything that we see.  Let’s not ever be in such a rush, that we neglect to be thankful.

I don’t know who said it first, but I am pretty sure that Malia is the one that brought it to my attention; and I want to leave this thought with you today.  “What if you woke up today, with only the things that you thanked God for yesterday?”  Peace.

(This was first posted on Facebook, May 17, 2016.  It has been adapted, and re-written, to be used as a part of our “Psalms on Saturday.”  It is my prayer that it will be a blessing to you.  Bill)

 

 

“Do You have a Prayer List”

How do you go about your personal prayer life?  Do you have a regular time of day, when you stop and spend time with the Father in prayer?  How long do you spend in prayer? What method do you use as a reminder of those that have requested prayer?  How do you remember those that are in need of prayer, that may not have talked about it publicly — but you know of their needs?  Do you have a number of churches, or preachers, or individuals; that you pray for on a regular basis?  After you are through praying, do you have an epiphany — and remember someone (or something) that you forgot to mention?  Do you take the time to list all the things that the Father has given to us, or blessed us with, during your prayers?  How often do you spend time just praising God for Who He is?

I have always struggled with having the kind of prayer life that I wanted?  I willingly confess, that there have been times that my prayer life has been better, and it has been worse.  Probably, I’m not the only one that can make that confession!    Over the years I have struggled, looking for the best method of practicing my prayer life.  I have trusted things to my memory (and that option gets worse all the time), and always struggled to always remember everything.  I have used a list, or lists, and prayed for everything that was on the list, which worked out pretty well (if you can remember to keep your list(s) updated.  What has always worked the best for me, is a combination of a list, and a worksheet — where I write out my prayers, and the people, things, and situations that I am to remember in prayer.

At this particular time in my life, I am struggling with finding the time to pray like I want to pray.  Most everyone knows, that I had “gastric bypass” surgery a little over two months ago.  Well, I am very much a person of routine, and the my mornings were pretty scheduled — and worked really well for me.  Now, I spend 45 minutes to an hour, walking early every morning, and am tired when I get back — and so my mornings are not going like I want.  This morning, as I was reading through Philippians, I was challenged, and encouraged, to redouble my efforts to find a schedule that works for me.  Observe what the text says:

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.  (Philippians 1:3-11, ESV)

It is always encouraging for me to read the prayers of Paul!  I don’t know what method that he used in his practice of prayer, but he prayed for everyone and everything!  I want my prayer life to be modeled after Paul’s.  If you notice in this prayer, his prayer is full of joy because of his friendship and partnership with the saints in Philippi, and for that he is extremely grateful (who in your life, in your spiritual family, causes your prayers to be filled with joy, when you think of them).  But not only is he grateful for that joy: he prays that their love may abound, that they will approve what is excellent, and be pure and blameless.  I want to be that kind of prayer warrior, for those that I know and love.

Just reading Paul’s prayer, and thinking about how he prayed, motivates me to do a better job!  How about you?  Peace.

 

“I’m Proud of My Son”

You may have read that title, and thought that I was going to talk about my son — and I could, except I would have to talk about my sons.  This morning, I want to share with you a special memory that I have of a special man, and his son.  When Jerry Edwards and I were sharing an apartment in Rogersville, Alabama; our neighbors across the street were Roy and Petey Trousdale, and their two children Roy Mac and Benja.  That family had a heart of gold, because they endured a lot from the two of us.  Jerry lived there for about a year, before he moved to Lawrenceburg, Tennessee; to be the youth minister for the Pulaski Street church.  I stayed there another year, and then moved 5-6 miles to the east on Snake Road to preach for the Cedar Grove church.  But even after I moved there, Roy and Petey were still an indispensable part of my life.  I’m sure that there were, at least, a couple of years, that they could have claimed me as a deduction on their taxes.

I really don’t know how old Roy was when Roy Mac was born, but I’m pretty sure that he was considerably older; than most of the fathers of the other boys Roy Mac’s age.  On top of that, Roy had several medical problems that hindered his lifestyle.  I believe that he had asthma, emphysema, and diabetes; and he couldn’t go and do like a lot of the other fathers did.  Bobby Whitehead told me the story of when Roy Mac was young, and was running all over the place, and Roy was struggling to keep up with him.  Someone asked him, and I believe it was Bobby, “Roy what do you need to keep up with him?”  Roy was bent over, trying to catch his breath, and without even looking up, said “Three lungs.”  But there is one thing that I do know, there was not a father that was prouder of his son, than Roy was of Roy Mac.  He’d go watch him play football and baseball, at times when he didn’t feel like being there, and he would talk to me about how Roy Mac played in the different games.  His heart would soar when they won, and his heart would break, when they lost (because he knew how much losing hurt Roy Mac).  You could watch his chest swell with pride when he talked about his son.  Really, he was not much different than any other dad, but it just seemed to me; that it may have been really special to him.  I don’t know if it was because he was older, and waited longer to have the joy of being a father, or it was just his nature.

This morning, as I was reading in Luke 1, I was reminded of Roy, as I read about another father that was advanced in years.  Now Scripture defines Zechariah and, his wife, Elizabeth as being “very old.”  You would never in a million years catch me saying that about Roy and Petey, but Zechariah’s story rang out loud to me this morning.  I could not tell you how many times I have read Luke 1, probably 8 or 9 in the last year; but Zechariah’s prophecy more personal this morning — than most other mornings.  Listen to what the text says:

Then his father, Zechariah, was filled with the Holy Spirit and gave this prophecy:
 
“Praise the Lord, the God of Israel,
        because he has visited and redeemed his people.
He has sent us a mighty Savior
        from the royal line of his servant David,
just as he promised
        through his holy prophets long ago.
Now we will be saved from our enemies
        and from all who hate us.
He has been merciful to our ancestors
        by remembering his sacred covenant—
the covenant he swore with an oath
        to our ancestor Abraham.
We have been rescued from our enemies
        so we can serve God without fear,
in holiness and righteousness
        for as long as we live.
 
“And you, my little son,
        will be called the prophet of the Most High,
        because you will prepare the way for the Lord.
You will tell his people how to find salvation
        through forgiveness of their sins.
Because of God’s tender mercy,
        the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
        and to guide us to the path of peace.”    (Luke 1:67-79, NLT)
Obviously, you can see in that first section, that he is offering praise to God for remembering His covenant with Abraham, and how that God is going to rescue them from their enemies, and they will be able to serve God without fear.  BUT, that second section, he calls John “my little son” — can you not hear the pride in his voice.  That God would choose to use his son, for a mission that would lead the people to find salvation through the forgiveness of their sins.
All fathers need to proud of their sons, and they need to teach them how to live — so that they can be proud.  But, if our sons choose to play a role in the teaching of the gospel — helping people to find salvation, through the forgiveness of sins — we can be especially proud, like Zechariah.  I will admit, that even though I have read that prophecy from Zechariah many times, this morning may be the first time I have ever heard/seen the pride from Zechariah in it.
Fathers, we have an important task — raising young children, our children, to follow Jesus.  We will always be proud of them, but help them to find the path to Jesus; and teach them how to tell others how to find that path.  Peace.
(I not very computer literate, and struggle with a lot of things that my computer can do.  If you notice on this blog, the spacing in the first half of the post is different than the spacing in the second half.   I used the cut-and-paste method for putting the Scripture passage on here; and after I did that, the computer changed the spacing — I don’t know how it did it, why it did it, or how to change it back!  I fiddled with it a long time, and never did figure it out.  So, there are times you just confess to being a dummy, and go with what you have.  Bill)

“When Do I Say, ‘Thank You’?”

As a child of the 1950’s, there were some things that my parents insisted that I learn:  things like, children should be seen and not heard; you always said “Yes Ma’am and No Ma’am, and Yes Sir and No Sir;” a gentleman always opened the door for a lady; and that when a couple walks down the street — the man is always closest to the road.  One thing that was drilled into my head, was to always say “please” when asking for something; and “thank you” when you received it.  I would not be surprised that many of you reading this, were taught many of those same things –and other things very similar.  We were expected to be polite and have good manners.

One of the things that I have “learned” (probably knew, but had forgotten) is that what my parents taught me about saying “thank you” — that is NOT how you pray!  I’m sure that because of the way that we were taught, we ask God for something; and if and when we received it, we tell Him “thank you.”  Right?  Well, the Bible teaches us that we are to be thankful when we ask!  Thankful that we know that the Father hears us, and that He will answer our prayer.

Psalm 54 is a really interesting chapter, that demonstrates what I am talking about.  The first two verses say:

O God, save me by your name, and vindicate me by your might. O God, hear my prayer; give ear to the words of my mouth.   (Psalm 54:1-2, ESV)

In verse 4, the writer remembers that God has always been there for him:

Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life.    (Psalm 54:4, ESV)

But verse 6 makes the point:

With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you; I will give thanks to your name, O Lord, for it is good.   (Psalm 54:6, ESV)

Basically what happens, is David confesses his need for God, and is confident that God will hear and answer because of His unfailing love and faithfulness, and IMMEDIATELY begins to thank God for answering his prayer.

Is that not what Paul says to do in Philippians 4:6, when he says:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication WITH thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.   (Philippians 4:6, ESV)

So Mom, Dad, I’m not going to wait for God’s answer to be grateful.  I’m going to start thanking Him for hearing and answering when I ask.  His answer may not always be exactly what I want– BUT HE WILL ANSWER!  And you can thank Him for that!  Peace.

 

(Well, things are still a little bit of a turmoil in my house.  The painters think that they will be through today, so things may start getting back to normal tomorrow.  Again, this is an entry from earlier, March 18, 2017.  It was the first post after I got back from a week of  traveling, and not many people saw it.  I hope that it is a blessing to you.  Bill)

“Local Legends”

My Dad was born in 1923, a child of the depression, as the youngest child of George and Dicie Hooten.  He would tell you that he was from Wooster, Arkansas, but that really was not right; he grew up on the banks of the Cadron Creek, Wooster just happened to be the nearest community (with a store and post office). The Hooten’s had five children (4 boys an a girl)of their own,  there was an older child, from George Hooten’s first wife, who had died.  Mr. Hooten died when my dad was two years old, leaving my grandmother to raise 5 children (I don’t know if the Mr. Hooten’s son was still at home).  There was a neighbor down the road, Will Harkrider, who had lost his wife, leaving him with 6 kids to raise.  In a marriage that may have been as much for necessity as love, Will Harkrider and Dicie Hooten got married; and a couple of years later, they had a child of their own.  It used to be quite entertaining to listen to dad try to list his half-brothers, step brothers and sisters, and own brothers and sister.  I’m not sure that he got right every time.

Can you imagine trying to feed a family of 14-16, in rural Arkansas during the depression.  They really learned to live off the land.  Mr. Harkrider was a commercial fisherman, so they ate a lot of fish.  All the boys loved to hunt, fish, and trap; and it wasn’t just for sport, but to put meat on the table.  I just know, from knowing the family, that they had a large garden, and ate a lot of what it produced.  There are a lot of you that can tell similar stories about your families during that same era.  I hope that you are keeping those stories alive, and passing them on to the next generation.

I was born right in the middle of the “Baby Boomer” era, and the stories that Dad told me were the most fascinating things that I ever heard.  He would talk about trapping mink on the Cadron, coon hunting at night, and other things to which I had no connection.  He told me about the time that he killed his first dove, and when he brought home to his mother; how upset she got with him, because he had killed a “sacred” bird.  But there was one group of stories that he told that wrapped me up, more than most — they were about “Uncle Major”.  He wasn’t dad’s uncle, and I don’t think his name was Major — but that’s all I ever heard him called.  Evidently, he was quite a colorful character, and that’s probably being too nice.  Dad told me that he carried an upholstery knife, that he would use if he got in a fight in town, and that was just part of the stories.  I remember at one of the last gatherings of the family, I asked my Uncle Dub about the stories that dad had told me about “Uncle Major.”  I remember that he looked at me and smiled, and said “He didn’t tell you half of them.”  Basically, what I got from Dub, was that “Uncle Major” was a mean man, that lived by himself, and didn’t want anything to do with anyone; but for some unknown reason, he took a liking to the Hooten boys, and Dub Harkrider, and spent a lot of time with them.  He taught them about the woods, hunting, fishing, trapping, and all sorts of things about surviving in that time.  The way that he treated them, was completely the opposite of how he dealt with all of his other “neighbors.”  I suppose in that little part of the world, “Uncle Major” was a local legend, and for all I know, he may still be a legend in that area.

Part of my devotional reading this morning was from Mark 5, and it tells the story of a man that I am sure was more than just a local legend in his community.  Listen to what the text has to say:

So they arrived at the other side of the lake, in the region of the Gerasenes.  When Jesus climbed out of the boat, a man possessed by an evil spirit came out of the tombs to meet him.  This man lived in the burial caves and could no longer be restrained, even with a chain.  Whenever he was put into chains and shackles — as he often was — he snapped the chains from his wrists and smashed the shackles.  No one was strong enough to subdue him.  Day and night he wandered among the burial caves and in the hills, howling and cutting himself with sharp stones.  (Mark 5:1-5, NLT).

First, there a lot of questions about this text that I am not going to even try and answer in this devotional musing.  But I just want you to imagine, if you lived in the nearest community to those burial tombs; the kind of havoc, and terror, that man created for all those families.  Can you imagine all the stories, that the older kids told the younger kids, trying to scare them of the “crazy man out in the tombs.”  Don’t you imagine that it was the kind of place that no one went by themselves!  I think this man would qualify as more than a “local legend,” even though there were probably a lot of legends about him.

The second thing I want to mention, is the change that came over the man when Jesus “healed” him by casting out the demons that controlled him.  Again, there are a lot of questions about what that means for then, and today; but this is not the time or place.  What Jesus did changed this man!  Read what the text says:  A crowd soon gathered around Jesus, and they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons.  He was sitting there fully clothed and perfectly sane, and they were all afraid.  (Mark 5:15, NLT).  There were afraid now, because they didn’t understand a power that could cause that dramatic of a change.

Finally, when Jesus was leaving the area, the “healed” man asked to go with Him.  Jesus replied, …”No, go home to your family, and tell them everything the Lord has done for you and how merciful he has been.”  So the man started off to visit the Ten Towns of that region and began to proclaim the great things Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed at what he told them.  (Mark 5:19-20, NLT).  Do he know and understand about the Messianic prophecies, the coming kingdom, and all of the other things that Jesus had taught.  I doubt it.  But he could go, and tell the …great things Jesus had down for him; ….

I don’t know your story, and I don’t know how much you know; but if Jesus has made a difference in your life, you can tell that.  Peace.

 

“He’s There for You”

While my mother was living, and I was working for Arkansas Insulation; most mornings, on my way to the office, I would call her and see how she was doing.  Inevitably, the conversations would drift any number of ways — to the newest vitamin (supplement) that I needed to take, a problem that I needed help with, the loneliness she was feeling, or just life in general.  I really miss those conversations, just knowing that she was there to talk.  After she was gone, I can’t tell you how many times I reached for my phone, then realized that I could not talk to her any more.  My sister, Christye, has often expressed those same thoughts to me, about how much we have lost; just because she is not there to talk.  The really sad part, is that I don’t think either one of us realized how important that was, until she was gone.

When Jehovah led the Israelites out of Egypt, He often got tired of their complaining and whining.  There was a point that He got so disgusted, He was going to let them go on to the “promised land” without Him (Exodus 33:1-3).  The people mourned because of what God said, and Moses implored God that it was His presence that gave him the ability to lead the people.  One of the more powerful verses in that context says:

For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people?  Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?  (Exodus 33:16, ESV)

The gist of the passage is that what set apart Moses, as the leader of the Israelites, and the Israelites as the people of God — was the presence of God in their midst.  They needed to know that God was there!

In my reading this morning, there was a couple of passage in the Psalms, where David expressed how important the presence of God was in his life.  Listen to what is said:

For you make him most blessed forever, you make him glad with the joy of your presence.  (Psalm 21:6, ESV)

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; … (Psalm 23:4, ESV).

For years I have listened to my brethren argue about what God does, and how He does it.  It is my opinion, that we have forgotten one very important principle.  What makes the people of God distinct from everyone else in the world, is the presence of God in their lives!

Personally, I need the joy, and the comfort, that comes from knowing the presence of God in my life.  I need to know that He is there!  Peace.

 

(This devotional was first posted on Facebook, April 1, 2016.  It is being reposted here as a part of our “Psalms on Saturday.”  It is my prayer that it will be a blessing to your life.  Bill)

“Seeking God and What’s Good for You”

If you could have anything you wanted — what would it be?  Health, healing for a loved one, bigger house, better job, more money, healed relationships, life for a loved one that is gone, faithfulness for someone close to you, …  Most all of us might have different answers, depending on the time, situation and circumstances in our life.  A lot of it might depend on our spiritual maturity at the time.

…but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.  (Psalm 34:10, ESV)

That seems a little difficult to comprehend, doesn’t it.  Have you read that, and thought I’m seeking God, and I don’t have all the good things I want, or even need!  It may be that I don’t know what is good, or what is good for me.  I’m thankful that the Creator of all that is, makes that decision as I seek Him.  May He give me faith to trust Him and His decisions more.  Peace.

 

(This devotional was first posted on Facebook on March 5, 2016.  It is reposted today, because it is something that I need to be reminded of continually.  It is my prayer that it will bless your life.  Bill)

Psalm 50 — “Sacrifice of Thanksgiving”

“Proof-texting” is something that most preachers, including this one, have done at one time or another.  “Proof-texting” is when you have a point that you want to make, and using a concordance you chase down a verse, or verses, that seems to validate the point.  The problem, is that it gives very little regard to the context of the verse that is being used.

Two verses that are commonly used in this way, are Psalm 50:10-11.  They say:

For every beast of the forest is mine,                                                                                                     the cattle on a thousand hills.                                                                                                I know all the birds of the hills,                                                                                                                 and all that moves in the field is mine.                                                                              

 

but that He is not going to accept them (50:9).  After those two verses, the writer explains that God does not need their sacrifices because He is hungry (50:12-13).

In the context, God is upset because even though they are offering the correct sacrifices, they don’t mean anything to them.  Their lives don’t reflect the devotion, that their God expected from their sacrifices.  God wants to know, …What right have you to recite my statutes or take my covenant on your lips?  (Psalm 50:16, ESV).  He accuses them of hating discipline, casting His words behind them, giving their mouth free rein for evil — those things, and more, they have done and God was silent.  Their folly was, they thought God was like one of them!

But now I rebuke you, and lay the charge before you.  (Psalm 50:21, ESV)

Now, not only does God lay the charge before them, He tells them what He really wants!  He says in verse 14, and again in verse 23, what He really wants is “a sacrifice of thanksgiving.” 

You see, if the psalmist were talking to us, he would say that God is not rejecting the songs that we sing, the prayers that we offer, or the time that we sit in the church building — He just wants them to mean something to us!  Often our lives, language, attitudes, and action to not reflect our songs and prayers in the assembly.  He wants us to live like what we say that we believe.  He doesn’t need, or have to have, our songs, prayers, contribution, or church attendance; but, what He does want is the “thanksgiving” of our hearts.  “Thanksgiving” for who He is, what He has done, the gifts that He has given, the promises that He has made, and the blessings that will continue to be ours.  God wants our sacrifice of thanksgiving.  Peace.

 

(This devotional was first posted on Facebook, April 7, 2016.  I have edited it, and made a few changes and posted it here as a “Psalm for Saturday”.  I hope that you are blessed by it.)



Psalm 113 — “Checking on the Kids”

This past Saturday (March 25th), we attended our youngest grandson’s 3rd birthday party.  Gunner’s actual birthday had been earlier in the week, but this is the first time that we all had the opportunity to get together.  His mother had worked really hard at putting together a first-rate party, complete with a “superhero” theme.   His favorite is Batman, and so the cake, and all the treats had that theme tied to them.  He was in a “festive” spirit — all these people there to see him, and to bring him presents!  He was so excited that he ran from room to room; seeing people, showing off the stack of presents, seeing who else had come, and just enjoying being the center of attention.  He did put on a show!  From the sheer excitement of this special occasion, from striking a pose and saying in that special voice and tone — “Baattmaann”, to telling us to stop singing “Happy Birthday,” because he did not like that song, and then to ripping open the presents as quickly as he could (so he could go on to the next one).

Being Meredith, Kade, Brooklyn, and Gunner’s “Poppy” is one of the real joys of my life, and I know that a lot of you understand exactly what I am talking about!  Almost everything they do is something I want to see — because it brings me joy and pride to my life.  My kids’ kids, are very special!

One of the interesting things, is to watch my children “parent”.  Our son, Gatlin, and his wife, Rachel, are learning all those lessons about a 3-year old that I have forgotten.  One of the things that they reminded me about, was that they need to be checked on regularly.  Gunner has gotten to that stage in life, when he can get into anything — especially those things that he is not supposed to.  One of the real warning signals, for him needing to be checked on, is when he gets quite.  There are a number of things that could be going on :  he’s asleep, he is really absorbed in what he is doing, he’s doing something that he should not be doing, or something is wrong.  The problem is, we don’t know until we check on them.

This morning I was reading in the Psalms, and came across a passage that drew all these thoughts to my mind.  Listen to what the psalmist says:

He stoops to look down
        on heaven and on earth.

(Psalm 113:6, NLT)

I don’t know what your reaction is to that verse, but it thrills my soul!  That my God will make an effort to “bend down” and look to see what is going on.  That He is concerned about me, and what happens in the world around me.  Listen to what it says that He does for those that He bends down and checks on:

He raises the poor from the dust
        and lifts the needy from the ash heap,
to make them sit with princes,
        with the princes of his people.
He gives the barren woman a home,
        making her the joyous mother of children.   (Psalm 113:7-9, NLT)
Often, we have the tendency to think of God only “checking” on us so that He can catch us doing something wrong.  That “All-seeing eye watching us”, is just to see what bad things we are doing.  We have been more influenced by George Jones and Tammy Wynette singing “God’s Gonna Get Your for That;” than we have by the Biblical teaching that God wants what is best for us!
The shortest of the Psalms, tells us what our attitude ought to be.
Praise the lord, all you nations.
       Praise him, all you people of the earth.
For his unfailing love for us is powerful;
       the lord’s faithfulness endures forever.
Praise the lord!
(Psalm 117:1-2, NLT)
 God has an unfailing love for us, and He is faithful in that love!
Peace.