Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Grady, Goober and the Alien Invasion

The noise was coming from everywhere, or so it seemed. Grady was running around the house like a coon dog seeking a scent. He ran into the bathroom—the sound was there. He ran into the hallway—the sound was there. He ran into the kitchen—the sound was there. He ran into the living room and not only was the noise there, it was louder than anywhere else he had been.

It was a scratchy sound, then heavy stomping. He yelled at Goober, “Goober, get the shotguns! We’re being invaded!”

Perhaps invaded was an exaggeration left over from the Enquirer article he had read the night before. Seems aliens were slipping into people’s homes through the vents in the attic and were setting up command posts from which they might infiltrate the minds of the people living below. Good thing he had read the article. He knew just what to do.

Goober handed Grady his 12 gauge and he pumped a shell into the chamber. Goober chose the double-barrel and cocked back the hammer.

“Right there!” Grady shouted. They both fired and blew a rather sizable hole in the ceiling. Insulation and dust drifted down on top of them. The sound moved to their rights. BLAM. Again a chunk of the ceiling flew up into the attic and the debris dropped down into the room. Even through the ringing in their ears they could hear the footsteps trotting to dead center of the room. BLAM, BLAM-BLAM. A hole the size of Vermont opened up above them. Splinters, insulation and Christmas decorations stored there started showering them from above.

Everything went quiet. “Think we got ‘em?” Goober asked.

“Don’t know,” Grady answered. “Them aliens are pretty tricky. The article said they can change their shapes to become something else.”

Two furry faces looked down from the edge of the hole. The boys took aim but before they could fire the two aliens were lunging at them out of the attic. Grady threw down his shotgun and ran through the screen door. Goober cocked and clicked his gun. Empty.

The two aliens landed on his face. He screamed and ran out of the house, furry creatures clinging to his head.

Pastor Jerguson was just pulling up in the driveway when Grady ran by. “Run, Pastor J! Aliens are after us!”

He got out of the car as Goober came scrambling toward him. “Help, Pastor J! They’re sucking my brains out!” The pastor stopped Goober and knocked the squirrels off his head. They lay dead on the ground.

The three stood looking at them. “Think they’ll change back into their alien bodies now that they’re dead?” Goober asked.

“That’s what the article said,” Grady answered.

Pastor Jerguson just shook his head, got back in his car and left.

Monday, February 21, 2011

How do we know God has answered our prayer?

Miracles seem to have an interesting way of being explained away. Those who don’t want to believe put greater stock in luck or “a turn of events” than in God stepping in and doing something spectacular.

When we have prayed and “something” happened that changed the outcome of what was going on, predicted to go on and even expected to go on, a miracle has happened. And since we prayed, we can announce that God did it. We can’t pray, receive a miracle and then assume God did nothing. If something was “there” and just went away after we prayed, we can’t just pass it off as good fortune or relief that it’s over. We declare God took care of it.

How do we know God has answered our prayer? Because we prayed. God answers all the prayers of His children. Whatever the outcome, He has answered. For us to operate in faith we thank Him for whatever He chooses to do, even if what He chooses is different than how we prayed. It comes under His right to determine what is best in any given situation.

By praying, we are giving the burden and the outcome of the problem to God. It is no longer ours but His. And whatever happens, we, by faith, acknowledge He is in charge. So, once we’ve prayed, we trust, wait to see what He decides to do and then present Him our thanks.

Our grandson, Reeve, is our miracle. As quickly as the problems came on him they left with no explanation or treatment. Many prayed, many more rejoice with us in God’s intervention. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gifts!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Grady, Goober and the Grave Site

It was a hot and humid day. Grady and Goober had worked all morning digging and now were covering things up. Pastor Jerguson drove up. He got out of his car, put on his suit coat, tucked his Bible under his arm, and headed to the dig.

“No one else showed up?” he asked.

“No Sir, just us,” Grady answered.

“Well, we’ll make it quick, then,” he said. He opened his Bible and began to read how death had been swallowed up in victory.

When he paused to find the next passage, Goober broke the silence, “Pastor J?”

“Not now, Goober,” he said and began reading how to be absent from the body meant we were present with the Lord.

When he finished, Goober asked again, “Pastor J?”

“Goober, please, be considerate,” Goober stepped back and the pastor read that Jesus had gone away to prepare a home for us.

Goober waited until it looked like Pastor Jerguson was done and interrupted again, “Uh, Pastor J…”

“Goober, you must wait until I’m finished.”


“Goober, please, just bow your head and let’s pray.” The pastor prayed a high dollar prayer and committed the remains of Mr. Turrington to the Lord.

When he finished, Goober asked, “Now, Pastor J?”

“Okay, now what is it, Goober?”

“Pastor J, this is a septic tank. Mr. Turrington is over there under that tent, where all those people are waiting.”

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Man, Am I Thirsty

I have this plant in my office that demands a lot of attention. Every few days it begins to droop. But after a couple of cups of water and a few minutes it comes back to life. Water is essential to its survival.

When the little deer in the Psalm pants for the waterbrook, he has become like my plant. He feels the life draining out of him and begins to crave the water just over the ridge at the base of the valley. Why? He knows what it will do for him. He knows it will restore him, quench him and satisfy his deepest desire. Show him a hundred alternatives and he’ll flash past them on his way to the water.

Jesus promised us living water—water that gave life. He said drink from this water and you’ll never thirst again. I’m not sure He meant you’ll never thirst for the water He gives again, only that you’ll not thirst for substitutes. Once you find the real thing you’ll never find anything else that satisfies as it does. The deepest longing will be quenched.

Not that we’re not stupid enough to try other things, just that the other things don’t really do it for us.

Ever hear someone say: “It was in the last place I looked.” Well, why would be keep looking for something after we’ve found it? “Yeah, it was in the next to the last place I looked.”

The little deer pants for the real thing. If he won’t settle for less why should I? Lord, my leaves are drooping again. Could I have another drink of Your water, please?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Grady, Goober and the Valentine’s Day Plan

Grady got up early, saw the light on in the barn and went out to check. The door was cracked open a bit so he first peeked inside to see if anyone was in there. Seeing Goober talking to the John Deere was not what he expected to see.

He listened. “You’re the best tractor in the world,” Goober said. “I just love your pretty green color. I think you’re the sweetest tractor there ever was. You’re sweeter than sugar cane and molasses and honey and red hots and Mrs. Butterworth’s syrup and grape jelly and peppermint candy and them almond things with candy on the outside.”

Grady could stand it no more. “Goober, what the heck are you doing?”

“Well, I heard this lady on the radio say the way to a woman’s heart is to say sweet things to a tractor. I got my eye on Francine Peters down at the church so I figured with Valentine’s Day today I’d try what the lady said.”

“Think it will work?”

“Don’t know yet, I just started.”

(modified from a friend’s email)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Ever Rip Your Jeans on the Horns of a Dilemma?

A dilemma is when you have narrowed your choices down to two and neither of them is any good. It’s similar to painting yourself into a corner. You either stay there till the paint dries or mess up what you’ve already done in order to get out of the room. Neither choice is that appealing. Thus the power of a dilemma.

When our decisions get boiled down to an either/or, we get a fuzzy picture of the future and lose the power of hope. One suggestion is to weigh our options—adding up the good versus the bad and going with the plan that has more good in it. Problem is: we’ve all had bad things happen that turned out to be good, and good things happen that turned out to be bad. I’m not sure we’re that capable of predetermining what is going to be good or bad. And since we don’t know how things are going to turn out, we need a third option.

God said He had plans for us, plans for our welfare, plans that give us a future and a hope. If that’s the case, then every dilemma has a way out. If I could see into the future, making decisions would be simple. But I’m not equipped to see things like that or know how things are going to turn out in advance. So, I submit my future to the one who’s already there and ask Him to guide me in the right direction.

Does my belief about God include Him caring about what happens next? If not, I need to add that to my theological system. If I have left it out, then life is no better than the flip of a coin. How can I live with purposeful hope if I do not believe God has intentions for me?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths. If I’m hung up on a dilemma, my hope is in trusting God to be my third option.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Got the Manure, Show Me the Pony

Having perspective is important. Knowing where things fit into the bigger picture makes fixing things a whole lot easier. A tiny spring lying on the workbench with no context may seem like debris, but with a point of reference—an understanding of what it was made for and where it fits—it becomes important, perhaps essential. Knowing where things fit into the bigger picture of our lives can help us get pieces back together and move us forward again.

Whenever a moment gets disconnected from the whole, tossed on a workbench with no context, we lose the value of what has happened and why. Not knowing where this moment fits, what led up to it or what comes after it, makes the moment an isolated event. And taken as an isolated event I may not fully appreciate why it’s in my life.

If I look through a knothole in the fence at a train passing by, I’m only going to see what’s right in front of me. I’ll lose context. I don’t know where this is going or how much longer it will take. I’m locked into only what the hole lets me see. My point of reference is fixed and limited.

If I climb over the fence I can enlarge my perspective. I can see what went before, what’s coming after, and I can judge how much longer this may take. Perspective changes everything.

Obviously, I’m not going to have perspective in all matters of my life. The present moment may overwhelm my ability to even climb the fence. But as a child of God, I live with the assurance that I have a Father who maintains total perspective. He knows the beginning and the end as well as the middle. Everything fits and has purpose to Him.

My job is to trust Him. All that’s going on in my life is not His will, but in all that’s going on, He has a will. Therefore, I have to believe that the moments of my life connect to some purpose even when they are beyond my ability to understand, a purpose clear to the God who has perspective. Faith is the mechanism through which I rest in God’s perspective.

It is not a sappy old expression—I may not know what the future holds but I know Who holds the future. It is the truth.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Grady, Goober and Foreign Dentures

Goober was having dental problems. Seems the last few pearlies he still had were now giving up their grip. Dr. Harrelston had already finished his examination and had been waiting for the deadening to take effect. He now stood over Goober tapping on the teeth to check their sensitivity.

“I think it’s time, Goober,” the dentist said. “Let’s get these out and get you a whole new set.”

“Weft, wid wat wha wou wink,” Goober said. The numbness had fully overwhelmed his mouth and tongue. “Wi wih urd?”

“Shouldn’t,” Dr. Harrelston said. “You sound like you’re pretty numb in there.”


To help with the process, the assistant had given Goober a Valium which was quickly making him too relaxed to care. Within a busy hour, Goober looked up at the dentist with a wide, toothless grin.

Dr. Harrelston fitted the temporary dentures that Goober would wear until the swelling came and left. He would be fitted with his permanent set in a few weeks.

Grady was growing impatient in the waiting room. He had looked through every Field and Stream he could find, some going back to the early 90s. He was now into the Enquirers reading about alien babies coming out of the swamps when Goober staggered out. Goober gave him a wide and teeth-full grin.

“Whoa, now that’s a mouthful,” he said. “Can you talk?”

“Yeahmanebbybaba,” Goober rattled.

“You didn’t give him some foreign teeth, did you Doc?” Grady asked. “I don’t know what he said, but it didn’t sound American.”

On the way home they stopped at the Piggly Wiggly to pick up some stuff Dr. Harrelston had said Goober might need. At the checkout stand Reba Massey was admiring Goober’s teeth.

“You really have some pretty teeth, Goober,” she said. “Guess I never noticed before.”

Goober grinned and said, “Ibidibawayway.”

“Reba, he’s still a little dopey but them ain’t Goober’s teeth,” Grady replied.

“Eww, whose teeth are they?”

“He got them from Doc Harrelston. I think they belonged to some foreigner before Goober got them.”

“Eww, I hope you washed them real good before you put them in your mouth, Goober.”

“Ibeyibeyabbah,” Goober said.

"Better give me some of your high grade toothpaste, Reba," Grady said. "This may be a long night."

Saga of a Cluttered Mind

I have to admit I’m distracted. The eighth of an inch of white stuff covering my deck makes me want to romp and play. Yep, I’m feeling frisky.

It doesn’t take much to distract me, however. Everywhere I look there is something begging for my attention. Seems everybody wants a piece of my focus.

How can a person, in modern times, give undistracted devotion to the Lord? For that matter, how has anyone, at any time in history, given undistracted devotion? There is always something shouting its importance into the moment. A sound, a sight, a feeling, a scent, a hunger: all have the ability to overpower my concentration.

Right now, I’m sitting in a quiet room wondering what’s on TV, wishing I had some music playing, hearing the hearer running, feeling the chill of below freezing temperature outside slipping through the window behind me, thinking about the project my friend wants me to help him with when the morning blizzard thaws, smelling the offensiveness of the neighborhood cat wafting in through the utility room, wondering when he will stop spraying inside my garage. While, at the same time, trying to hold back a flood of words all wanting to get out at the same time.

I’m capable of blocking those voices for short bursts, but soon they capture me. I give in and lose my focus and become distracted. It’s not just here and now, though. The same thing can happen in church or in my office or while driving down the road or praying or singing or reading my Bible. It is an ongoing battle.

How frustrating this must be to the Lord!

But my question is: How frustrating is this to you? Do you have the same struggle I do or am I in this war all alone? Is this just ADD or a common spiritual battle? Any thoughts?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Grady, Goober and a Magical Goat

“Goober, there’s a cow in the living room,” Grady said.

“Yeah,” Goober answered.

“That seem a bit strange to you?”

“Well, at first, but once he settled down it didn’t seem so weird.”

“Whose cow is he and why is he in our living room?”

“Oh, I bought him from this guy down at the church parking lot. He said having your own cow was the smartest thing we could do. Said we could milk this fella and never have to buy milk again.”

“Fella? Is this a boy cow?”

“Of course. Didn’t you see his horns?”

“Goober, you don’t get milk from a boy cow.”

“Are you sure?”

“Pretty sure.”

“Well, what are we gonna do?”

“We? You bought him. You need to take him back and get your money from that guy.”

Grady helped Goober load up the steer and watched him head off to the church parking lot. A few minutes later Goober returned. As Grady came outside, Goober was unloading a goat from the back of his truck.

“Goober, you were supposed to get your money back, not trade him for another animal!”

“But this is a magical goat,” Goober said. “He’ll keep the bears away.”

“There aren’t any bears anywhere near here,” Grady said.

“Of course not, we've got a magical goat now.”