Charles Stanley tells the story: "I was signing books one day when a young man came forward and told me a story as I autographed his copy. 'I put a gun to my chest and was going to kill myself,' he began. 'For some reason, I turned on the television, and there you were, talking about suicide [isn't it amazing the way the Lord works?]. After listening for a while, I knew that the Lord was talking to me, so I laid the gun down and gave my life to Jesus Christ.' "
He hears similar stories all the time ... someone in despair turns on the TV or radio and hears a sermon that speaks directly to his or her need. He doesn't believe for one second that he is responsible. It is the Lord, who is all-powerful, interceding in people's lives. Sometimes He does this by leading them to turn on a program which can help. What's more only a God who can control all things could change a lost and scared young man into a willing and excited servant ... and that's exactly the kind of person who stood before Dr. Stanley that day at the book signing.
The world talks about accidents, luck, and good fortune, but all these terms imply that we are victims of circumstance. The fact is that God is sovereign and the entire world is under His control. Anything that affects us ... blessing or trial ... comes to us because God has allowed it. When we encounter evil, we often wonder why the Lord doesn't put an end to it, because we know that He can. How many times have we caught ourselves thinking, if I were God I would ..." But God does have a purpose and a plan and history has proven that He will produce good from even the worst of human tragedy and that we can be utterly relieved that we are not God!
We are still suffering from all the smoke here in northern California. Every night we go to bed hoping that the morning will bring fresh, clean air to breathe. And every morning we are greeted by the same old dense smoke once again. Every day we hope for clear skies and now for the better part of a week we've been blanketed with a layer of thick smoke choking out our every breath. They said on the news last night that another dry storm is due to roll through the area again this weekend. That's all we need: more lightning fires! I guess eventually there won't be anything left to burn. I don't think the smoke would seem so bad if it were from a local fire. This is drift smoke from fires that are 100 miles or more from here.
We didn't go to the family bar-be-que last night because of all the smoke. Michael's ex-smoker lungs don't need to be outside and I have asthma and neither of us has any business being outside in all that smoke. We don't go outside any more than we have to. My chest is tight and "raw" feeling as it is and poor Michael is coughing his head off and dealing with nosebleeds every time he blows his nose. I will go out later to pick up some hot dog buns for dinner and I'll swing by and get the mail as long as I'm out but we'll stay inside most of the day. I did take my Bible and devotionals out onto the deck to sit and have my quiet time with the Lord this morning. And I slept late this morning which made it later in the day and the smoke had shifted back up into the air (if I go out early enough I can catch the smoke "lying down") so I really had no business being out there but I so enjoy doing my morning devotionals outside. It just makes them kind of special. So I put up with the smoke this morning. I think it's sure different having Michael's lungs be worse than my asthmatic lungs. For years it was me unable to breathe and being in and out of the hospital all the time (15 times in one 12-month period) and now my lungs are better than Michael's. Of course he smoked heavily for 50 years or more until he quit 10 years ago. I'm so glad I was able to quit. Finally with the Lord's help I got off the cigarettes 18 months ago July 1st. That was just part of the revamping and remaking of my spiritual life. The Lord has been making changes in me since then and I'm almost like a new person. Praise God!! He's got me doing all kinds of things. Things that I have tried for years to do with great struggle and now these past 18 months they are all happening with ease. I guess for years and years I kept trying to do things in my own strength. And it wasn't until I just left everything up to the Lord that the changes started happening. The Lord wasn't going to allow me to take credit for anything and I certainly can't. Oh, I believe it still takes effort on my part to continue to do these disciplines but I realize that even my strength is coming from the Lord. I don't quite know how to explain this I just know that even in my own effort it is God's effort behind me that keeps me faithful. If the Lord has the power to sustain the universe by merely speaking commands; I'm sure He can support my personal strength and desires. So although I know I play a part in all this, it's still His strength holding me faithful to these good habits or disciplines I've been working on.
I need to go over to my son's house and check their dogs. (He and my daughter-in-law have gone away for a few days with the Jet Ski.) He has remained friends with a childhood neighbor and they get together quite often and do things. They'll be gone for a few days and I will take care of the animals until they get back. It's the least I can do to try and repay all that they do for us. I am sitting here typing this on a computer that he put together for me. Every so often he'll come over and update our computers and anytime we have a problem he'll come take care of it. He's a very good son. Of course, I might be a wee bit prejudiced in my thinking here. Nah!!
I think I'm going to make this a short blog today and get on over to make sure the dogs are okay. This has got to be one of my worst blogs. I just can't think of anything to write about. Maybe I'll think of something and can come back in on edit and write some more. We'll see.
[Okay, now I am on edit.] When I go over to Ken's house to feed the dogs this evening I need to remember to take our pruning shears because there's a short branch at the far end of Lady's running leash that catches the loop in the leash and she can't go anywhere. She was stuck out there yesterday when I went over. She couldn't reach her water bowl and she was out in the sun. I forgot to take the shears when I went over this morning so I will take care of that tonight. Michael is napping right now but when he wakes up I'll ask him to get the shears for me so I can take them tonight.
When I got back from checking the dogs I was surprised to walk in the house and find the cooler running. We haven't been running it until in the evenings because of all the smoke. We thought about turning on the A/C yesterday but that's such a waste of energy. Anyway I guess Michael decided he could take the smoke over the heat. It's 101 outside right now. I'm certainly not going to complain that the cooler is on but I think he'll regret doing that during the night when he can't breathe and has to get up and sit in his chair in order to sleep. Yesterday the heat in the house just about did me in so I'm very grateful for the cooler today.
The bruises on my toes and foot are now the same color as my nail polish (except for the light green they are turning right around the edges). Slowly but surely the bruising is going away and most of the swelling is gone now too. But I didn't put my ACE bandage back on before I left to do my errands and I really felt the difference by the time I got home. It was just too much walking on a very sore foot. So tonight before I go back over I will remember to put it around my ankle and foot and maybe it won't hurt as bad when I get back home. Ran into three friends from church while I was out this morning and I don't feel too bad because Lynn said she didn't go to the family bar-be-que because of the smoke either, so we weren't the only ones who decided not to go. I would have enjoyed going though. This is a very small town and I'm surprised that I don't run into people I know more often than I do especially when everyone has to go to the Post Office at some time during the day. No, I take that back. Our town has some postal routes for delivery. This is the only place where we've had mail delivery in 20+ years so I forget that not everyone has to go to the Post Office. There are a lot of people from church who bank where I do and so quite often I will run into someone there.
I wish I had something up-building to write about but today my mind is just bare, nothing there. I forgot all about fasting today so I will aim for tomorrow. I have the hardest time remembering not to eat when I get up on Fridays. But this is something I need to do. I made the commitment. Now I just have to live up to it. Truthfully I suspect that it is Satan sneaking himself into my life. He knows I want to fast on Fridays and he encourages me to eat and ruin the fast. I say this because I don't normally eat in the mornings. But just for the past 3-5 weeks (since I've been trying to fast) I get up and stick something into my mouth every Friday morning. I also keep forgetting to pray for our nation every day at 6:00 as I had told myself I would do. The problem is I never know when it's 6:00!! I'm not a clock watcher. Put that with my bad memory and I'm bad. This could be a powerful thing for me. To know that there are tens of thousands (could even be many more) of people praying for this nation all at the same time. That's pretty heady you have to admit. This country is facing possible destruction because of the race for President this year. We are approaching a time of ruin. If Obama gets in (especially if he chooses Clinton as his vice presidential candidate) I think horrible things are going to happen. It just makes me want to cry. I love my country and I love what it stands for and strives to do in this world. And that's what I need to be praying about come 6:00 every night! Obama refuses to wear the lapel flag pin that candidates wear all the time. I don't mean he forgets, he used to wear it and then took it off and now refuses to wear it. When the national anthem is played he doesn't put his hand over his heart like everyone else does. He used to attend a church that is V-E-R-Y critical of whites and this nation. Radical is a good word for it. He's for abortion (and gay marriages too I think). He has absolutely no diplomatic experience whatsoever. It's funny, months ago I was reading a book and to tell how unlikely it would be for someone to have been raised up to a particularly high position, that author said it would be like a "junior senator running for and winning the presidency of the United States." I mean that was the most unlikely event that could ever happen to this author, something that in his mind was the least likely thing to occur and look where we're at. We have a junior senator running for the presidency of the United States of America and it's looking more and more like he just may win it! The only other time I felt this nervous about an election was when John Kerry was running. I'm not very politically minded but I feel strongly against Obama. I'm not all that happy with McCain but he's a lot better than someone who refuses to put his hand over his heart when the National Anthem is played. What kind of president is he going to make??? And what kind of Commander-in-Chief?
I guess I better go and get my animals all fed since it is 30 mins past time and Mario is getting very impatient with me. Here comes Mulder. Guess he's ready too. Anytime from 3:30 on, these beasts all know it's time to eat and they begin to "swarm" (think Jerry Seinfeld). Looks like I ended up adding more on edit but it's been more of just nothing. I probably shouldn't have blogged today unless I had something to blog about. Sorry about that. I'll try to do better from now on.