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July 2018
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Higher Love

I’ve written on the topic of “love” a number of times (see Pursuing Love,” “Love Never Fails,” “Sacrificial Love,” “Love is a Beautiful Thing,” “The Love We Take,” “What the World Needs Now,” and What We Need,” to name a few), but the topic never gets old, and there are so many facets to love: physical, emotional, altruistic, sacrificial. However, today’s emphasis in on love and timing–God’s timing.

Let me start right off with a devotion I read this morning by Dr. Charles Swindoll titled, “Timing,” to get us thinking along the lines of love as it relates to God’s timing:


Psalm 31:14-15

In September, Terry Shafer was strolling the shops in Moline, Illinois. She knew exactly what she wanted to get her husband, David, for Christmas. A little shop on Fifth attracted her attention, so she popped inside. Her eyes darted toward the corner display. “That’s it!” she smiled as she nodded with pleasure. “How much?” she asked the shopkeeper.

“Only $127.50.”

Her smile faded into disappointment as she realized David’s salary as a policeman couldn’t stand such a jolt. Yet she hated to give up without a try, so she applied a little womanly persistence. “Uh, what about putting this aside for me? Maybe I could pay a little each week, then pick it up a few days before Christmas?”

“No,” the merchant said, “I won’t do that.” Then he smiled. “I’ll gift wrap it right now. You can take it with you and pay me later,” he said. Terry was elated.

Then came Saturday, October 1. Patrolman David Shafer, working the night shift, got a call in his squad car. A drugstore robbery was in progress. David reacted instantly, arriving on the scene just in time to see the suspect speeding away. With siren screaming and lights flashing, he followed in hot pursuit. Three blocks later the getaway vehicle suddenly pulled over and stopped. The driver didn’t move. David carefully approached the suspect with his weapon drawn. In a split second, the door flew open as the thief produced a .45-caliber pistol and fired at David’s abdomen.

At seven o’clock in the morning a patrolman came to the door of the Shafer home. Calmly and with great care, he told Terry what had happened.

Stunned, Terry thought how glad she was that she had not waited until Christmas to give her husband his present. How grateful she was that the shopkeeper had been willing to let her pay for it later. Otherwise, Dave would have surely died. Instead, he was now in the hospital–not with a gunshot wound, but with only a bad bruise. You see, David was wearing the gift of life Terry could not wait to give–his brand new bulletproof vest.

Within the movement of events is the Designer, who plans and arranges the times and the seasons, including the minutest detail of life. You question that? Many do.

But unless I miss my guess, David and Terry Shafer don’t. It’s funny . . . people who survive a calamity don’t have much struggle with sovereignty.

Behind the maze is the Master.

Source: Day by Day by Dr. Charles Swindoll, p. 254
Word Publishing, Thomas Nelson, 2000

As Dr. Swindoll wrote, “Within the movement of events is the Designer, who plans and arranges the times and the seasons, including the minutest detail of life. You question that? Many do.” Many people just shake their heads and say, “Coincidence,” and scoff at the idea that God, if they believe in Him, would care about such minute details in our lives. I’ve even had conversations with Christians who scoff at such an idea; however, Jesus said, “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Luke 12:7). Personally, I think it’s a control issue. We want control and when something happens (good, bad, or indifferent) that we can’t explain, we chalk it up to “coincidence.”

Read the story again. Not many merchants would actually let someone walk out the door with a piece of merchandise that costs $127.50 and, while smiling, say, “take it with you and pay me later.” And there’s nothing in the story to indicate that the merchant knew Terry Shafer before she walked into the store. Also, this was a Christmas gift that Terry was buying for her husband, David, most likely with no intent of giving it to him early (which, in fact, she did). And this exchange happened sometime in September and David Shafer was shot on October 1st (while wearing the “Christmas gift” the merchant allowed Terry to take home right then even though she could not pay for it at that time). And that “Christmas gift” saved David’s life–on October 1st.


I John 4:15-16 states, “If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” Therefore, if we are Christian and acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God, He not only lives in us by way of the Holy Spirit, but we rely on God’s love. And, if we rely on God’s love, nothing that happens to us is by “coincidence.” So why do we question His ability to control the circumstances in our lives right down to the minutest details? Nothing happens by chance. Nothing . . .

For example, it is not “by chance” that I have been unemployed for the past three and a half years (even though it has been frustrating beyond belief at times). And it was not “by chance” that I accepted that job in Houston in the first place that has left me unemployed all of this time. I believe with all of my heart that it is part of the tapestry God has woven into my life for His purpose, not mine. Can I explain it? Absolutely not, but it’s not for me to explain or even try to understand. He will unfold His purpose in His time.

Proverbs 3:5-6 states, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” If we truly trust in Him, and not in ourselves or our own understanding in any situation we find ourselves in and truly acknowledge Him in all that is happening to us, He has promised to make our paths straight. It may take a lot more time and a series of events leading down that path before He shows us the end result (as has been the case in my unemployment situation), or it could be a series of events that happen suddenly (as in the story above). In any case, God is in control . . . and we are not. And nothing happens by chance.

God’s love is far beyond anything we can comprehend, even to the point of sending His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die on our behalf (see John 3:16-18). With a Father like that, how can anything that happens to us be “by chance”?

It can’t, and it’s not . . . .

I’m reminded of a song by Steve Winwood titled, “Higher Love,” (YouTube Video below). Here are the words to that song:

Higher Love

Songwriters: Will Jennings, Steve Winwood

Think about it, there must be higher love
Down in the heart or hidden in the stars above
Without it, life is wasted time
Look inside your heart, I’ll look inside mine
Things look so bad everywhere
In this whole world, what is fair?
We walk blind, we try to see
Falling behind in what could be

Bring me a higher love
Bring me a higher love
Bring me a higher love
Where’s that higher love I keep thinking of?

Worlds are turning and we’re just hanging on
Facing our fear and standing out there alone
A yearning, and it’s real to me
There must be someone who’s feeling for me

Things look so bad everywhere
In this whole world, what is fair?
We walk blind, we try to see
Falling behind in what could be

Bring me a higher love
Bring me a higher love
Bring me a higher love
Where’s that higher love I keep thinking of?

Bring me a higher love
Bring me a higher love
Bring me a higher love
I could rise above on a higher love

I will wait for it
I’m not too late for it
Until then, I’ll sing my song
To cheer the night along
Bring it…

I could light the night up with my soul on fire
I could make the sun shine from pure desire
Let me feel that love come over me
Let me feel how strong it could be

Bring me a higher love
Bring me a higher love
Bring me a higher love
Where’s that higher love I keep thinking of?
[ Lyrics from:]

“But I trust in you, O Lord;
I say, ‘You are my God.’
My times are in your hands . . .”
~Psalm 31:14-15

YouTube Video: “Higher Love” (1986) by Steve Winwood:

Photo credit here


Roll With It, Baby

“When life is too much, roll with it, baby . . . .” Yeah, sometimes a song comes along that says it all. And after three and a half years of unemployment (Gee, I must not have the right credentials, you think?), I’m tired, folks. Whatever you do, don’t lose your job, as it’s not pretty out here, especially if you’re older than what most HR directors and employers want to see. And, if you find yourself in the same predicament as me (old and unemployable), please feel free to sing along with this song. It’s always been one of my all time favorites. So, please enjoy the lyrics and YouTube video below to “Roll with It” sung by Steve Winwood (1989):

Roll With It

Songwriters: Will Jennings, Steve Winwood,
Lamont Herbert Dozier, Eddie Holland, and Brian Holland

When life is too much, roll with it, baby
Don’t stop and lose your touch, oh no, baby
Hard times knocking on your door,
I’ll tell them you ain’t there no more
Get on through it, roll with it, baby
Luck’ll come and then slip away,
You’ve gotta move, bring it back to stay

You just roll with it, baby,
Come on and just roll with it, baby

You and me, roll with it, baby,
Hang on and just roll with it, baby

The way that you love is good as money
I swear by stars above, sweet as honey
People think you’re down and out,
You show them what it’s all about
You can make it, roll with it, baby
When this world turns it’s back on you,
Hang in and do that sweet thing you do

You just roll with it, baby,
You just roll with it, baby
Come on and just roll with it, baby,
You and me, just roll with it, baby

Roll with it, baby,
You just roll with it, baby
You and me, just roll with it, baby,
Hang on and just roll with it, baby

Now there’ll be a day you’ll get there, baby,
You’ll hear the music play, you’ll dance, baby
You’ll leave bad times way behind,
Nothing but good times on your mind
You can do it, roll with it, baby
Then you’ll see life will be so nice,
It’s just a step up to paradise

You just roll with it, baby,
You just roll with it, baby

You and me, just roll with it, baby,
Come on and just roll with it, baby

[ Lyrics from:]

YouTube Video: “Roll With It” sung by Steve Winwood (1989):

Photo credit here

While You See A Chance

Downtown Houston

Well, I’m in Houston! Yep, that’s right . . .  H-O-U-S-T-O-N !!! And I have a little storm named Isaac to thank for that!

I’ve been through five hurricanes in the years I’ve lived in Florida. Yes, five . . . . The worst was the very first hurricane that greeted me less than two months after my arrival in Fort Lauderdale to start a doctoral fellowship at Nova Southeastern University. You may remember that one–it’s name was Andrew.  Yeah, A-n-d-r-e-w (for those of you who do remember). Then there was Charlie when I was living in Orlando (I think it hit in 1999 if I remember right). And then right after I took a job at Southeastern University in Lakeland, we were hit by three hurricanes within a six-week period of time in August/September 2004. I don’t remember their names.

And, as if that wasn’t enough, I endured the aftermath of Hurricane Ike that hit Houston in September 2008. I accepted the job in Houston in August 2008 and was scheduled to move there in late September. Well, Ike hit Houston, and hit it hard, mid-September 2008, and my coworkers at Southeastern University asked me if I was still going. I remember telling them I had lived through five hurricanes in Florida and I wasn’t about to let hurricane stop me from going to Houston. And I didn’t . . .  However, navigating through an area so soon after a hurricane hit was a challenge . . . mostly from all of the energy trucks that flooded the highways throughout Houston. And, I also arrived in Houston at the peak of morning rush hour. It took a couple of hours just to navigate to where my apartment was located (and yes, they did have electricity but there were still many areas in Houston including that area around the location of my apartment that still didn’t have electricity).

So, with my previous experiences with hurricanes I decided not to chance it by staying in Florida waiting for Isaac’s impact. I packed up my car and left early Saturday afternoon heading for Houston. Seventeen hours later I was back in the city where this long saga of unemployment first started almost three and a half years ago. Maybe it will end here, too (I did pack my job interviewing outfit).

This was not a “spur of the moment” trip but was planned in advance. My three-day trip to Atlanta in May spurred me on even though I was not successful in my attempt to find a job in Atlanta. Since the trip to Houston required 17 hours of driving, I knew I wanted to stay for a least a week to make it worth the cost of the trip. I thought I was going to go at the end of May, and when that didn’t work out I made plans to go in July, but that particular plan turned out to be way too expensive (I was planning at that time to actually move back to Houston even though I didn’t have a job waiting for me). While I love living in Florida, I just haven’t been able to find a job in the three years I’ve been back, and since I loved Houston, even though my work experience there was, well, disastrous, I still wanted to give it a second chance.  After all, I can’t blame an entire city for one bad job, now can I?

When I arrived yesterday (Sunday) morning, after getting several “second winds” during my 17-hour drive, one of my first stops was at a friend’s home where I spent some time talking with her and her husband. I first met her at the place where I lost my job (she resigned a few months after I was fired, but the two incidents are unrelated–her resignation was health-related). We had a great time and she helped me locate a hotel nearby that looked like it was fairly reasonably priced for at least my first night (I was looking forward to resting my head on a pillow and my body in a bed at that point in time). So I bid her farewell and headed off to the hotel. I didn’t end up staying there but kept looking around and found a Red Roof Inn near Katy that fit the bill perfectly (in fact, I’m writing this in my hotel room). Since I’ll be staying a week I’m looking into the “extended stay hotels” in the area for the remainder of my time here.

I love road trips–LOVE THEM–but haven’t had the money due to being unemployed to take very many in the past few years. When I first got out on the open road Saturday afternoon, a smile broke out on my face and didn’t stop the whole way to Houston. I was in my element. I felt free–free for a few hours from the hassles and heartbreak of trying to get my work life back together after so many years. Absolutely nothing mattered except being out on the open road and listening to some great music . . . .

And now that I’ve caught up on my sleep after a great night’s rest, I’m ready to see what this week will bring. And I’ll keep you updated . . .

This morning a song crossed my mind by Steve Winwood–“While You See A Chance.” There couldn’t have been a more perfect song for this whole trip (well, sans the romance part of it as I’m looking for a job right now–romance can wait for later). I decided to post the YouTube video below and here are the words to the song: 

Stand up in a clear blue morning
Until you see what can be
Alone in a cold day dawning
Are you still free
Can you be

When some cold tomorrow finds you
When some sad old dream reminds you
How the endless road unwinds you
While you see a chance take it
Find romance, fake it
Because it’s all on you

Don’t you know by now
No one gives you anything
Don’t you wonder how you keep on moving
One more day
Your way

When there’s no one left to leave you
Even you don’t quite believe you
That’s when nothing can deceive you
While you see a chance take it
Find romance, fake it
Because it’s all on you

Stand up in a clear blue morning
Until you see what can be
Alone in a cold day dawning
Are you still free
Can you be

When that old gray wind is blowin’
And there’s nothing left worth knowin’
And it’s time you should be going
While you see a chance take it
Find romance, fake it
Because it’s all on you

While you see a chance take it
Find romance (repeat 4x)

This whole experience reminds me of something the Apostle Paul said in Philippians 3:13-14: “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” The Message Bible (including verse 12) states it like this: “I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.”

Well, I certainly don’t have it all together either, but I’m well on my way . . . . And, I don’t count myself to be an expert in any of this (either), but I’ve got “my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus.”

And, just like Paul, I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back . . . .

And I’ll keep you posted . . . .

YouTube Video: “While You See A Chance” by Steve Winwood:

Photo credit here

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