Category Archives: Musings

Fresh and seasoned thoughts about the practice of Sabbath.

From the Rising of the Sun to the Setting Thereof

We’re traveling today. We’re going to see family and familiar faces.

The road gets so long. It’s not really that it’s gotten any longer or shorter with the passing of time. It’s that we are different people traveling upon it.

We’re not the same people who raced up and down the roads as teenagers; not having a care in the world.

We are not the same young parents who made anxious journeys to doctors offices or delivery rooms, all for the purpose of being able to nervously bring new life back home with us.

We are becoming that couple who, as they drive the roads, talks about what the kids used to do, because if you talked about them in the present tense, you would have to call them men instead of boys and ladies instead of girls.

When you drive this familiar road you find your heart weighed down with all the YOU’s there were previously on the road.

Oh how time flies. How things change.

I told our youngest that we’re going to Fairy, and she just laughed and went to ask mom where we are really going. She’ll find out soon enough. It’s just a sad reminder that her childhood greatly diverges from the magical one I had. Hers has its own magic, but it’s been an unexpected magic.

We’ll drive the roads from before the sun rises and will be driving them yet again well after the sun sets. We’re going to cover about 350 miles getting there and 350 back home. All the while, the sun marches on its course from east to west.

Every day, east to west. Alway steady in its course.

I hope, at the end of the day, at the end of my road, to be able to say, “May the Name of the Lord be Praised.”

Some journeys are unpleasant. Some are cut short. But as long as the Lord commands the sun and the stars and the moon and wind to fulfill their functions so that the grass grows and the trees bear their good fruit, no matter where I am on the road, and what lays behind and before, I want to be able to say, “May the Name of the Lord be Praised.”

(null)

Marguerite Blacklock Wolfe Burden—A Pearl of Great Price

We’re going to bury our Nanny Red tomorrow.

It’s going to be cold at the Fairy Cemetery where we have laid so many of our loved ones in the past. There will be a small gathering of family and friends and a few words spoken.

I’m going to read a passage of Scripture tomorrow that was dear to her. She wouldn’t want a long drawn out service. She has entered her rest, and she would not want to deny us what rest and comfort we might have for ourselves. The service will be brief but significant. It will be simple but dignified. I think she will like it.

If I were going to tell a story tomorrow, I would tell one that Jesus told. It’s a short one but a good one. It’s about Nanny Red. You didn’t know she was mentioned in the Bible did you? I was surprised when I came across it myself.

He’s the story as Jesus tells it:

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.

So where is Nanny Red in this story?

This is where all that money others spent sending me to seminary has paid off. The word pearl, in Greek (the language the New Testament was translated from), looks like this: μαργαρίτης. It’s pronounced mar-gar-ee-tace. It’s the word from which we derive the name Marguerite.

Nanny Red was that Pearl of Great Price.

She added value and worth to all of the lives she touched.

Though we would give all we have to have her back, we trust that because of where she is, she wouldn’t want to return for all the gold, silver and pearls this world has to offer. She has entered her rest, and great is her reward.

What we can do is pass along the lessons she taught us, and in her example, continue to make the world a better place for those we love.

Location, Location, Location

Your Address is Sacred

It’s not just in real estate or business that we need to be reminded about the importance of location. Location has spiritual significance.

We’ve been studying the impactful lives of the earliest Christian believers on Sunday mornings at FBC Nederland. This weekend we find ourselves looking into the life of Lydia.

She’s only mentioned a couple of times in the book of Acts. (Go ahead and check out Acts chapter 16.) That doesn’t mean she’s insignificant. In fact, most of the people we’ve studied are mentioned merely a couple of times, but their impact was tremendous.

I like Lydia because she is a businesswoman. She probably had some idea of the importance of place. She was a purveyor of purple cloth. There’s a single, huge Greek word for that occupation, but you’ll have to show up for worship to learn what that is.

She just so happened to be in Philippi peddling her purple wares when the Apostle Paul came to town preaching. She had not always been in Philippi. Her hometown was Thyatira, a place known for producing purple dye. We don’t know if Lydia was a recent transplant to Philippi or a longtime resident. What is important is that God had her in the right place at the right time.

Lydia was at a place of prayer when Paul came preaching. Her heart was opened and she responded to Paul’s message, and she, along with her entire household, were baptized. After receiving Paul’s message, she offered the apostle and his companions a place to stay.

Paul’s mission to Macedonia would not have been possible if God had not placed a person like Lydia in his path. Without Lydia, the missionaries would have no base of operations in Philippi. Lydia had neighbors who needed to hear the Good News Paul was preaching. Without Lydia’s influence, Paul would not have gained a hearing among the Philippians.

Lydia invested in the place God planted her. Her hospitality for the apostle provided for the spiritual well being of her neighbors. Her business network became a means of sharing Christ’s salvation with the community. The Philippian church was know for their generosity and support of Paul’s broader missionary journeys. Lydia’s life was intricately involved in a special place, with a specific address, in order to play a crucial part in the history of the church.

My Place. My Time. My Turn.

God planted us where we are right now on purpose. Place is sacred. All places are sacred when we recognize God’s presence with us. Our lives take on significance when we live purposefully in the place we were planted.

This week, pray for your town, your community, and your neighborhood.

Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper. Jeremiah‬ ‭29‬:‭7‬ NIV

IMG_3806.PNG

A Novice Foodie Blog: Tracy’s Seafood Deli

Kristi and I haven’t had a chance to write a foodie blog in a while, but we’re getting geared up to share a few thoughts about some interesting eating places in 2015. This past week found us at a Port Arthur restaurant: Tracy’s Seafood and Deli.

This a shared blog so we’ll be going back and forth between mine and Kristi’s thoughts.

 KRISTI: Fridays are my favorite day of the week; Jason and I are usually both off work. So we have a thing where we try and find a new eating establishment.  Apparently the extent of our sense of adventure includes nothing more than a fork, but I dig it. Jason posted a picture of yesterday’s day’s eating joint. The picture didn’t do the place justice. Here it is in case you missed it.

Nothing says appealing like a hot pink wave wall painted with primary colored geometric shapes and a nice fake potted palm tree/ivy. That’s why I felt obliged to write a quick post about today’s cuisine.

I’ll let you in on how I found out about this joint. I’ve been in physical therapy for three weeks now because apparently when I behave myself instead of freaking out under stress, the stress just builds up in my neck and shoulders. It makes me wonder if behaving myself is good for my health. The stress had been so built up that I ended up having daily headaches, half of a hand going numb off and on and the feeling of creepy crawlies all over my head, all the time.

Anyway, Dr. Hunt here in Nederland is fixing me up. Part of my therapy is doing these gosh awful exercises for my neck and shoulders, usually three sets of twenty. I have to count for myself so I can’t talk. Others that have been at this a while are pros and can do their exercises and talk at the same time. One guy mentioned last Wednesday that he got the best chicken wings “from the hood” a few nights before. He said the place was named Tracy’s and was on Gulfway. I did my best the rest of my time to count my neck tucks and remember where Jason and I needed to go on our next Heyday Friday.

Friday was wet and cold but there was sunshine in my soul.

 JASON: There are so many great eating spots right here in Nederland that we haven’t ventured out lately. When Kristi overheard some folks talking about this seafood place in Port Arthur that served up some serious chicken wings, I was immediately interested. We had a little time on our hands this past Friday and a few dollars burning a hole in our pockets so we ventured into the heart of Port Arthur to check out Tracy’s Seafood Deli.

Where Is It?

I’m not far off when I say Tracy’s is in the heart of Port Arthur. It’s a convenient location to anyone working at the Motiva plant. I’m sure I’d be there as often as I could if I was nearby at lunchtime every day.

 

What’s It Like?

At some point in the past, Tracy’s was a Burger King. They have maintained some of the furnishings, but nothing of the menu. This might be the best repurposing of a fast food place I’ve ever experienced. Don’t come here expecting napkins and silverware on the table. This is a place for hungry people to fill their bellies with fried, boiled or grilled seafood goodness.

 

What We Ate.

I couldn’t just order one thing. I was hungry for seafood and for their chicken wings. I checked out the menu online before going in. I thought the pictures on their website were a little too good to be true. The first image I was really interested in was a platter of jumbo shrimp that were large enough to live up to their oxymoronic name. The shrimp I saw on their website could have been saddled and ridden by small children. I was expecting to be underwhelmed, but I was pleased to find there is still some truth in advertising. Check out this plate of bad-boys I put down.

When I saw the price for the chicken wings, I was a little taken aback. I didn’t scope these out on the web first so I came into Tracy’s expecting the WingStop or Buffalo Wild Wing variety. 6 wings for $10.39 was overcooking my grits, but I didn’t come all this way to turn down a culinary adventure. When they came out of the fryer, my financial frown was turned upside down. When you eat wings at Tracy’s, don’t think about wing pieces. Think about the entire wing, except feathers. This was simple, tasty goodness.

I had leftovers! I brought the box home for the kids to enjoy. They ate everything but the salad. I’m afraid they even ate the bones.

Kristi is an oyster fanatic. If a place has fried oysters, that’s her first stop on the menu. She picked up half a dozen with fries. There are usually pitfalls that we watch out for when ordering fried oysters. The first is over-breading. When a restaurant is serving up the pre-made, stale-off-the-truck, variety of oysters, it shows up first in the breading. The breading can drown out the natural oyster goodness. The next pitfall is the size of the oysters. We’ve been to places where you had to search through the breading to even find an oyster. We don’t go in for the tiny ones. If we can eat an oyster in one bite, it’s No Bueno. Third, it should not be overcooked. These delicate sea goodies cease to be good if they are left in the fryer for too long.

I’m glad to report that Tracy’s gets 5 stars on their oyster prep. Their oysters were HUGE. These were two, or three, bite delights. They were lightly breaded. They were not afraid to let their oysters speak for themselves. The cornbread breading was just enough to make it interesting, but not so much to take away from the oyster experience. Finally, they were cooked just long enough. We like them raw, so undercooking should rarely be a problem. These still contained significant, natural oyster brine, oozing out after every bite.

KRISTI: I had my favorite food cooked just the way I like it. I would say I loved oysters but my grandmother always told us not to say we loved anything besides people. She was THE BOSS and I’m still afraid to not do what she says. Fellow oyster likers can see how big and juicy, and not ruined by too much crust, these oysters are. I hate having to peel off superfluous crust. Fries are usually just a filler in my opinion, but these fries were fresh and well seasoned. They paired well with the homemade tartar sauce which I normally never eat.

Conclusions

If you have a little time on you hand and a hankering for goo seafood, try out Tracy’s Seafood Deli.

I’m looking forward to trying the Boiled Crawfish, Crab Legs, and Vietnamese Egg Rolls.

Give them a try and let them know what you think.

4 Decades Never Looked So Good!

I can’t believe this girl is 40!

We’ve been together half of her life, and if I’m lucky, the next half as well.

Check out the hot prom date from 1994. And yes, I’m talking about Kristi!


That was a LONG time ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday.


The kids and I are of the same mind today: We Love This Lady!

Don’t take it from me. Here it is in their own words.

From Hayden:

My mom is an amazing woman. I love her very, very much. No matter how much we argue, I know she will always be there for me. She is one of the few people who can put up with me, and for that, Mom, I love you.

Have a Happy Birthday!

Love,

Your Little Boy


 

Hallie made Mom an acrostic:

My Mom Is:

Kind

Really Pretty

Intelligent

Sweet

Thoughtful

Important

I love you very, very much Mom and I hope your birthday is amazing!


 

And Rylie says:

My Mom is bright and really amazing. She rocks! And I love her because she is caring. She likes to dance and sing with me. She is strong hearted and brave. She helps when I’m sad and she calms me down when I am mad. She is the best I could ask for.


I think all of you who know Kristi know the thousands of reasons we have for loving her so much and marking this day as special.

I thank God for her EVERY day!

 


Saved by a Whale, Undone by Worm

The most impressive character in the book of Jonah is the Great Fish, that goes without saying. But perhaps the most important character is the Worm. Talk about contrast!

The Whale (formerly referred to as the Great Fish) was God’s instrument for saving Jonah from the watery grave. The Worm was God’s instrument of saving Jonah from his lack of concern for others.

When God provided the vine to shade Jonah’s head, Jonah was very pleased. But when God sent the Worm to eat the vine and a scorching east wind, Jonah was angry enough to die.

How quickly Jonah forgot that God had impressively saved him!

Saved by a Whale. Undone by a Worm.

This theme of miraculous salvation followed by petty grumbling finds itself all the way through the Bible.

God delivered the Hebrews out of Egypt with glorious wonders and signs, but as soon as they entered the wilderness and discovered they were out of food, they grumbled against God. (My favorite complaint of theirs is found in Numbers 11. They grumble, wishing they could go back to the good ole days of slavery in Egypt where they had, among other things, cucumbers…Yuk).

When God finally straightened out that crew, he sent them to the border of the promised land. Moses sent spies into the land to bring back first-hand testimony of how pleasant the land was. They did bring back news of a pleasant land, but they brought back a large portion of fear as well.

The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size.
NIV
Numbers 13:32

This wasn’t the rousing report Moses was hoping for. And the people rebelled and ended up walking around in the desert until a new generation rose up among them; a faithful generation to replace the fearful generation.

These scenes aren’t limited to the Old Testament. They are present among Christ’s first followers. On the night that Jesus was tried and condemned to death, the disciple Peter vowed to stand with Jesus, even unto death. But later that night, as a slave girl recognized Peter as part of Jesus’ group, Peter forcefully denied he even knew Jesus.

Peter, Spies, Cucumbers, and Jonah.

I suppose I should include myself, in this list of sometimes-faithless-followers. Should you join me? Probably so.

We’ve been miraculously saved, only to stumble on something as small as a worm. We’ve forgotten our convictions in order to impress those who didn’t deserved to be impressed. We’ve complained about little things even after God has delivered us from big things. We’ve shown ourselves fearful when we should have been faithful.

I’ve come to appreciate the Worm in Jonah’s story as much as I’ve formerly appreciated the Whale.

The Worm exposed Jonah’s weakness: He was more concerned about a plant than he was about the population of a great city. God used the Whale to get Jonah on the right course.  God used the Worm to give Jonah, and us through Jonah, the right perspective.

But the LORD said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left–and also many animals?”
NIV Jonah 4:10-11

God Gets the Last Word

Yesterday we began our final look at the book of Jonah (for a while at least). If you’re reading this blog, or if you’ve been to church with us in the month of October, you’ve read part of, or all of, the book of Jonah.

Jonah chapter 4 includes Jonah’s argument with God. Jonah is angry at God for being good to bad people.

He prayed to the LORD, “O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.”
NIV Jonah 4:2

What a Pity Party!


Jonah didn’t agree with God’s plan. This is evident from the first words of the story of Jonah. Jonah ran from God physically. He jumped on a boat and headed toward the other side of the world to escape the good he knew God could do through him.

In the end of the story, Jonah still isn’t happy about God’s plan. He tells God to take his life away because he would be better off dead! Poor Jonah.

One of the gifts of the Hebrew Scriptures is that they teach us how the ancients argued with God. You might not consider that a gift, but it is. Jonah has a full blown argument with God. The Psalms contain a number of chapters where the psalmist argues or complains to God.

Jonah argued with God because he didn’t agree with what God was doing. Jonah had a God sized complaint that human wisdom couldn’t touch. There are some complaints human ears are too small to hear. God was listening even though Jonah wasn’t worth listening too.

I don’t like arguments. I don’t like to be in an argument, and I don’t like being around people who are arguing. It’s awkward. It’s uncomfortable. It’s stressful. While reading Jonah these past few weeks, that’s exactly how I felt while studying the fourth chapter of Jonah.

Jonah does not fit into our modern story telling motif. We expect a story that has a conflict early on (preferably after some character development), lots of good twists and turns while the main character is searching for the solution to the problem, and a satisfactory conclusion of the conflict in the last pages of the book that leave us with the sense that all is right with the world and everyone lives happily ever after.

That’s not the book of Jonah.

The most important aspect of the book of Jonah to take notice of is this: God gets the last word. He permits his prophet to run away. He sends wind and waves and a whale to fetch his prophet and bring him back to the original plan. God uses his prophet to speak a word to a wicked people (a people who subsequently repent and believe in God). Then God allows his intrepid prophet to argue with him. But the book of Jonah does not end with the prophet’s argumentative words; it ends with God’s gracious statement:

But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?
NIV Jonah 4:11

God Gets The Last Word.

We argue with God because we don’t understand his ways. We can’t see the grand scheme as he does. We can’t take in the enormity of the job he is conducting. Our arguments with God, no matter how valid they seem to us, are always out of our smallness. We are too small to see the majestic work of God.

When we start to become like Jonah, we need to stop and remember who gets the last word. God always gets the last word. And thankfully, his word is a word of Grace.

This week, let’s be content with what we understand about God, exercise trust in what we don’t understand about him, and have faith that he is working through lowly creatures like you and me to reach the world we live in.

Speak Lord, Thy Servant Listens….

God’s Grace Means Do Overs Are Allowed

IMG_2849-1.PNG

Jonah chapter three is the part of the story of Jonah that talks about what is arguably the greatest revival of all time. Nineveh, as we will find out in chapter 4, is a city of 120,000 people. It’s such a large city that it takes Jonah 3 days to deliver his message.

It’s amazing that this great revival came through such a reluctant messenger.

Even though the book is named after Jonah, it’s a story about what God does, and how God relates to his people.

For this reluctant prophet, this reserved evangelist, this hesitant herald, God provides a Second Chance!

When God said Go, Jonah said No. When God pointed East, Jonah went West. God’s command to Jonah was to go across the desert, but Jonas’s flight from God took him across the ocean.

You would think God could have found a more fitting prophet to carry his message to Nineveh, but God had his sights set on Jonah. God never gave up on Jonah.

And the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time…(Jonah 3:1 KJV)

God is in the business of Second Chances. In fact, God went to great lengths to provide Jonah his Second Chance. When Jonah was on the ship, God provided a wind to stir up the waves. When Jonah was cast into the sea, God provided a great fish to swallow him up. When God was ready to use Jonah, he commanded the fish to vomit up the sour prophet onto dry ground.

What God does for Jonah, he’s done many times for us. God, in his grace, provides Second Chances. You can call them Do Overs: opportunities to start again!

Here’s something to remember about starting again: We can only start again from where we are, not from where we were.

Each of us would love the chance to turn back the hands of time to be able to relive certain seasons of our lives; to improve on some past mistakes. There are periods of our history we are not proud of. We’ve failed and fallen and want a chance to go back and do it right.

But we can’t go back to do it over from where we were, but we can start our Do Over from where we are. God’s grace meets us where we are, and in spite of our shortcomings, says to us, “You can start fresh from right here.”

God’s grace means he never gives up on us. He extends his Do Overs to us, right where we are, right when we turn to him.