Archive for June, 2021


June 27, 2021

I have the most amazing uncle! For starters it’s pretty rare for a 77-year-old codger to even have an uncle, let alone a lovable, energetic, unique soul like mine. He’s 86 but you may have trouble discerning which old vet is the uncle in this picture. (Clue: The uncle can still hold his head up straight.) Some folks roam the world looking for heaven on earth and some just bloom where they’re planted.  Boy, has he bloomed. His recliner is rarely used. He owns a flower shop and an antique store and is a master flower arranger. You can’t get properly married or buried in his community without his flower arrangements present. He just opened a coffee bar and softserve ice cream place in downtown Stronghurst, Illinois, a town with no traffic lights, few stop signs and 700-and-some salt-of-the-earth citizens. If a country boy can claim a hometown, this one is mine. It is where I went to church (still there), high school (closed) and cruised the streets as a teenaged jalopy driver. My uncle has built a cabin on the farm where he grew up, near our family farm, and where I spent many a happy day as a kid, and he splits his time between there and his village place. He transformed some untillable acreage with a stream running through it behind the cabin into a pond and arboretum/garden–Henderson County’s own Garden of Eden in the summer and fall that will put your eyes out with its multicolored beauty and rare botanical specimens. It gets used for a variety of public and private special events. He just bought another farm nearby for hunting and agriculture purposes.  He commenced these creative and entrepreneurial enterprises after he retired from a career in finance in the same community. In his spare time he’s an American Legion jefe and a civic Energizer Bunny. He puts his couch-potato nephew to shame!

He became a widower after 63 happy years a while back, but I was glad to see that his smile has returned when I visited with him this week. And, by the way, he drove with his daughter the 6 hours in my direction, not vice versa.

As the family patriarch he is a righteous example for us all, a great godly witness, and his prayers are soothing to my soul. He’s my momma’s half-brother and I’m just sorry I don’t have a larger percentage of his genes. I am blessed to call him Uncle Jim Blender. The psalmist describes him perfectly:

“The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon … They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green…. (Psalm 92:12,14)

See you in church.


June 20, 2021

FB tempted me to repost from a Father’s Day past and I have succumbed…again. The message seems more important with each passing year: A grateful Father’s Day vow, writ large on our foyer wall, and I will keep it to the last beat of my heart.

My daddy’s been gone for a few decades now but he’s ever present in my heart. The heartland roots that grew from the seeds he planted and nurtured in God’s Word have served me well in my worldly wanderings.

Young’ns, hug your daddy while you can. “Honor your father…”

See you in church.


June 13, 2021

The sum of necessary knowledge for a life of joy in the Lord is contained in those three words. The journey to that joy begins with the realization that “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5). An adulterer and murderer (David) spoke those words in his confession, but they are true of every human born since the fall of Adam. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Reread the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5) and tell me if you meet the requirements for ”blessed.” The palest white lie will keep you out of heaven. Thoughts are as sinful as the deed itself. Hatred equals murder and lust equals adultery. Your best deeds are as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). Bottom line, it is impossible for fallen man to keep the Ten Commandments—they are commands designed to show us the extent of our sins and our desperate need for a savior. Martin Lloyd-Jones said, “If you think you deserve Heaven—then you are not a Christian. Do you think that you deserve forgiveness? If you do, you are not a Christian.”

But God has provided a way. Grace—God’s favor to those who deserve his wrath! The Son of God has fully paid for all the sins of his chosen ones (Romans 8:29-30) with his precious blood. In an act of incomprehensible love the Son of God on the cross satisfied God’s perfect justice for the sins of those “who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28b). God’s infinite love saved his elect from God’s infinite wrath. How’s that for a mind-blowing concept? [“…my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.” (Isaiah 55:8)] Believe this, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved (Acts 16:31)–you are indeed among the chosen-by-grace ones.

And be assured, if the Son of God loved you so much he would die like that for you, he isn’t going to forget you before he brings you home to himself. By the Holy Spirit he sends to dwell within you, he will sanctify you (draw you closer to him as you live and breathe), assure your salvation and glorify you, (perfect you in heaven). There is nothing more certain in life than God’s Word. Amazing grace!

There is only one possible response to a realization of the greatness of your sin and the grace that justifies you before an infinitely Holy God, and that is to be heartily willing to live in gratitude to him. The hallmarks of such a life are 1.) Prayer–“Pray without ceasing”; 2.) continual repentance–“God, be merciful to  me, a sinner”; 3.) praise–“O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the Earth”; 4.) proclamation–“Come and hear all you who fear God, and I will tell you what he has done for my soul”; and 5.) humility–“he adorns the humble with salvation”. How can you be other than humble? The only thing that separates you from that unrepentant rascal next door is God’s grace–everything you have in this life and the next is a gift from Almighty God.

Know guilt, know grace, know gratitude and you will know the good life for eternity. As a popular Southern Gospel song proclaims, “…it gets sweeter as the days go by.”

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:27-28).

Our Gracious God reigns! See you in church.


June 6, 2021

In a world gone mad my week was delightfully sane and overflowing with love and joy. It was the one week of the month that I get to hang out with dear friends, ages 77 to 101, in our church family, calling on them in their homes. If the love and light of God’s grace that abounds in our time together could leaven the whole world, there surely would be lot more peace on earth.

There was an unearned bonus blessing this week—that’s redundant, for emphasis.  Juxtaposed with my geriatric peers was a 12-year-old boy who rode his bicycle over to my house for a lesson in scroll saw art. He’s a handsome little dude with a smile that’s going to melt a lot of hearts, and smart as a whip. I converse with him as with a peer, in spite of our 65-year age gap. He had a heartbreakingly rough start to life, but he and his brother were fostered and then adopted by a wonderful couple who love the Lord after they had raised their own family. I am just in awe of such noble souls, and immensely blessed for their allowing me to be a part of their son’s life. His hand/eye coordination is excellent, and I only have to demonstrate an action to him once and he’s got it. Sometimes he figures it out without me even showing him. And I thoroughly enjoy his company—a new friend! I had forgotten what a tonic an enthusiastic adolescent can be to a still-sentient septuagenarian.

Our church family life was capped off this week with a blessed memorial service on Saturday morning and a high school graduation celebration in the afternoon. Sunrise. Sunset. Swiftly flow the days, everything in its season and ever secure in the ark of God’s chosen, shut in by our heavenly Father from a flood of worldly woes as the devil rages in his death throes. Thank you, Lord, for leading me into the family of God.

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together [and not just in worship], as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25).

See you in church.

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