12 Feb

Never Goodbye

He was born in the country where the prairie grass grows. Where tall cotton is picked and winter wheat blows.

There were five of the kids and he was the runt. He was full of energy and known for his stunts.

Try as they might, to wrangle him in, he was like a wild donkey, loose from the pen.

Bill and Ruth showed no favor or harm. They put him to toil, plowing the farm.

He would work hard by day and chase coons by night. He was born to wander and taken to flight.

Short in stature but full of spite, he would bloody your nose if you got in a fight.

His dark curly locks and big olive eyes, broke ladies’ hearts and magnified their cries.

He was a charmer for sure, a smooth talker no less. The farmers’ daughters liked him but called him a mess.

He moved from the country to work on the dock, raising a family until the troubles did knock.

Hard times they came and his world out of control, the demons taunted him and fought for his soul.

There were years of darkness, not a glimmer of hope, but he kept pushing onward never to mope.

His health started failing but his mind stayed intact, as he battled for oxygen through a mobile air pack.

Then one January, much to his surprise, a visitor came knocking, it was one of his guys!

It was quite a reunion, full of joy and tears.The prodigal returned, after all of these years.

They agreed to look forward and not to look back, to capture new memories and keep things on track.

Three winters they journeyed as they played and had fun, the old man, his boy, the father and son.

Life is shorter, than we all care to count, but when with those we love, it’s the perfect amount.

God brings us together and then calls us home. This is certain, sure as the Pope lives in Rome.

Life isn’t easy and is chockfull of knocks, but when we have Jesus, we’re solid as rocks.

Donnie has left us, but it’s never goodbye. He is jamming with the angels, with his guitar on high. 

———
Written by Ray Sanders in loving memory of his dad, Donald Lee Sanders, February 3, 2017

04 Feb

Graduation day

My dad graduated today. He went to be with the Lord. If you know our story you know that we had been separated for 35 years. Not until 3 years ago, January 20, 2014, did we hit reset on our relationship. 

If you want the full story, I am happy to share it with you someday but needless to say, it is nothing short of a miracle that we were ever together again. 

Let’s just say if it had been a bed of roses, there would have been a few peddles and a whole lot of thorns. 

But people change, God does miracles and forgiveness can be granted and reconciliation can become an amazing reality. 

Dad and I made a deal 3 years ago. No looking back. It’s water under the bridge. We agreed to make new memories and I am so tickled to say we did. 

Two of my cousins, they know who they are, played a huge part in making my dad’s dream come true and what seemed impossible a reality in my own life. 

For three years Dad and I hung out, went for rides in the country and talked about life and legacy. 

His health started to decline pretty rapidly. COPD had taken its toll on the one time firefighter. I nearly lost him several times the last 3 years. 

As we were walking out of the hospital one day he stopped as we were leaving and said, “You know, they think I should be dead by now but you and I know God is giving me more time with you.” 

I never dreamed we would have 3 years together. It went by fast. But today Dad crossed on over to the other side of eternity. 

I am grateful for the last time I saw him alive. He had grown so feeble and as bedtime arrived I picked him up in my arms, laid him in his bed, changed his clothes, said a prayer for him and kissed him on the forehead. He said, “Thanks for coming. Come again. I know you will.”  

A few days later I traveled out of town to the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C. During one of the meetings I got a call that he had taken a turn for the worst. 

Two of my best friends dropped what they were doing and went and prayed with my dad and delivered the message that I loved him. 

He was fading in and out when my kids arrived to say their goodbyes, sing him songs, hold his hand and give him kisses. They too let him know I was thinking about him. They held the phone to his ear as I prayed for him and did all I could to cheer him on from so far away. 

He did his best to muster a reply. What he said was hard to understand but I knew he was doing his best to say his goodbyes.

Several hours later, as I boarded the plane to head home, the call came from my oldest son, that dad had died as another friend blessed me by standing at Dad’s side, holding his hand on my behalf reading him the 23rd Psalm. Seconds after the last verse was read Dad took his last breath. God’s timing is perfect. 

I will forever cherish my last memory of my dad alive. But I also kept my promise. I did come back and just a few hours ago I stood at his side, kissed his forehead realizing that it might be at least another 35 until we meet again. But as before, there will be no looking back. Only new memories that will last for eternity. God is good. No, God is great! What a blessing. 

Forgiveness is a beautiful thing. Reconciliation a true bonus. What a picture of what Jesus offers each and every one of us! 

Love you Dad! Get to work on the cotton fields there in heaven! They look like clouds from down here. I’m just glad you’re not fighting fire! This I know for sure, because we got that issue settled no doubt! I am thrilled knowing that Jesus welcomed you home today with open loving arms! 

The photo of us was taken just a few days ago on our 3 year reunion anniversary. We celebrated by eating one of his favorite things, chocolate covered peanuts. We laughed as I had to wipe his hands and face from the mess he made from all the melted chocolate! (January 20, 2017.)

29 Jan

Who knows you?

It’s a problem when the person who knows you best likes you least. 

But when the person who knows you best loves you most, it matters little when those who know you least like you little.

27 Jan

World class world changer

I woke up the morning after the inauguration thinking about my First Lady and how the world would have reacted to her had she been with me at my swearing in at the inauguration. There was no doubt they would have been amazed at her beauty and admired the life she has led to the White House. She is without doubt a beautiful woman, a woman of honor, fashion, poise and class. Most of all she is a follower of Jesus and much to my surprise and benefit she is my girlfriend and wife. I love my First Lady. She is a world class world changer.

19 Jan

God Alone

Something caught my attention today in my daily reading of 2 Kings 17.

Notice the problem with the nation was rooted in an inability to worship correctly. They had drifted from God so much that they had become spiritually ignorant.

This is staggering!

It is clear that worship was central to the health of the nation.

So what was done? They dusted off an old exiled priest and he taught them how to worship.

Wow!

Amazing? Yes, but the worst was yet to come. Despite learning how to worship God alone they chose to continue holding onto their worthless idols while worshipping God.

Can you imagine? Talk about dumb and dumber!

But wait a minute? Who are the real fools? How is it possible that we read this story in amazement yet turn around and do the very same thing.

First, we must ask ourselves, where have all the worship leaders gone and why have we not empowered them to lead us back to the God of Abraham, Isaac and David?

Second, will we not take heed? Oh Lord revive us. Teach us yet again how to worship you and may we be found with empty hands lifted up to you, free of idols, with grateful hearts full of praise to the one and true God!

Read more about the story here.

2 Kings 17:26-41 NLT

[26] So a message was sent to the king of Assyria: “The people you have sent to live in the towns of Samaria do not know the religious customs of the God of the land. He has sent lions among them to destroy them because they have not worshiped him correctly.” [27] The king of Assyria then commanded, “Send one of the exiled priests back to Samaria. Let him live there and teach the new residents the religious customs of the God of the land.” [28] So one of the priests who had been exiled from Samaria returned to Bethel and taught the new residents how to worship the LORD. [29] But these various groups of foreigners also continued to worship their own gods. In town after town where they lived, they placed their idols at the pagan shrines that the people of Samaria had built. [30] Those from Babylon worshiped idols of their god Succoth-benoth. Those from Cuthah worshiped their god Nergal. And those from Hamath worshiped Ashima. [31] The Avvites worshiped their gods Nibhaz and Tartak. And the people from Sepharvaim even burned their own children as sacrifices to their gods Adrammelech and Anammelech. [32] These new residents worshiped the LORD, but they also appointed from among themselves all sorts of people as priests to offer sacrifices at their places of worship. [33] And though they worshiped the LORD, they continued to follow their own gods according to the religious customs of the nations from which they came. [34] And this is still going on today. They continue to follow their former practices instead of truly worshiping the LORD and obeying the decrees, regulations, instructions, and commands he gave the descendants of Jacob, whose name he changed to Israel. [35] For the LORD had made a covenant with the descendants of Jacob and commanded them: “Do not worship any other gods or bow before them or serve them or offer sacrifices to them. [36] But worship only the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt with great strength and a powerful arm. Bow down to him alone, and offer sacrifices only to him. [37] Be careful at all times to obey the decrees, regulations, instructions, and commands that he wrote for you. You must not worship other gods. [38] Do not forget the covenant I made with you, and do not worship other gods. [39] You must worship only the LORD your God. He is the one who will rescue you from all your enemies.” [40] But the people would not listen and continued to follow their former practices. [41] So while these new residents worshiped the Lord, they also worshiped their idols. And to this day their descendants do the same.

Hearing this song with new ears in light of 2 Kings 17:26-41

 

11 Jan

What is your purpose?

Discovering your purpose starts here.

We all have a desire for our lives to have meaning and purpose.

What is your purpose? Or, better yet, what is God’s purpose? Discovering your purpose starts here!

Once you know God’s purpose you can begin to adjust your purpose to his.

Where can you find God’s purpose?

The Tora? Tarot cards? The whole of scripture? Horoscopes? The Ten Commandments? Church? 

Jesus summed up God’s purpose with 3 basic values: Love God and love others as you love yourself.

Bottom line? LOVE. 

When we filter our actions and decisions through love we gain incredible insight to our purpose and role in life. God’s purpose becomes our purpose. 

Simply put, love God and love others as you love yourself.

We tend to want to over complicate it but when we go about our day simply looking for someone to love it is amazing how our lives begin to take on meaning and purpose.

Try it! Tomorrow morning when you wake up make it your goal to love God and love others as you love yourself. 

Important point, most don’t struggle with this one, but some do, don’t forget to love yourself. God does. He loves and values you so much that he wants to hang out with you on life’s journey. God loves you and so should you! You are worth it. 

Got it? Okay, let’s get going and see just what happens when we start living out our purpose by loving God and loving others as we love ourselves!

Ready? Set! Love!