Easter Bunnies Hop Away

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As I scrolled through facebook today I saw so many wonderful pictures of children hunting Easter eggs. They have smiles on their faces and you can see the excitement in their eyes. I still remember the days when my girls were young and hunted eggs. Heck, I even remember hunting eggs myself as a boy. Nothing like with a good egg hunt.

As parents we work so hard to create these special moments and memories  with our children. Creating a sense of wonder in their hearts and seeing their joy is our greatest reward.

I pray that we as parents worked just as hard today to create a sense of awe and wonder in our children as we told them about a man named Jesus, God robed in flesh, who willingly laid down his life on an old rugged cross and died for our sins. A savior who was held on that cross not by nails but by His love for us. A Savior who defeated death, hell and the grave. A risen Savior who lives forevermore!

Kids grow up so fast and I know from experience that in just a few short years those beautiful little children will begin to loose interest in the simple joy of hunting Easter eggs. Cherish these moments, they go fast.

My prayer today is that before we hid the eggs in the grass, we hid the truth in our children’s hearts because one day the Easter bunny will hop away but Jesus is forever.

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Four Aces

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I had an interesting dream last night. The scene was 1950’s era black and white. I was some how playing golf and poker at the same time with a couple of shady gangster types. It was the 18th hole and I had an impossible chip shot that I had to hole to win. The ball was stuck behind a rock. I hacked it with a sand wedge and it went about 10 feet. I should have used a toe wedge.

Meanwhile, at the poker table I had been dealt three aces and the bet was 2100 dollars. That was all I had so I went all in. My last card was another ace! The bet was 500 hundred more but I was broke. I asked if I could use a credit card. The dealer used a old black “rotary phone” to charge five hundred to my card. I called the bet. Strangely, instead of revealing our cards to see who won the two gangsters and I went to get something to eat.

I kept my four aces in my pocket while we ate at a nice “gangster type” restaurant. (Think Goodfellas)

When the meal was finished I was anxious to get back to the poker table to reveal my four aces. On the way back I somehow got separated from the two gangsters and arrived back at the poker table alone only to find the janitor cleaning the place up. The two gangsters never came back. Since we had no cell phones I had no way of calling them.

So, if you see two men wearing Ricky Ricardo baggy suits and fedoras tell them I am looking for them. I don’t know their names but I am pretty sure I saw one of them on the Dick Van Dyke Show.

I think I might need to stop eating before I go to bed at night.

This is OUR Flag

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This is OUR flag. It is not a white flag. It is not a black flag. It is not a brown flag.  It is the American flag. It is our flag.

White men and women have died defending this flag. Black men and women have died defending this flag. Brown men and women have died defending this flag. It is our flag.

When we stand side by side beneath this flag we are not black, white or brown Americans, we are simply Americans. This flag does not divide us, it unites us.

America is not a perfect place. As Americans we must continue to call out injustice and seek to right wrongs. No other nation in history has done more to repent of and rectify the sins of our past. Our flag represents the freedom and obligation that we have to do just that and when that flag is raised and our National anthem is sang,  Americans should stand.

When someone disrespects this flag they disrespect us all. This is OUR flag.

 

 

 

 

A Man in a Yellow Vest Holding a Sign

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I normally spend a large portion of my days crisscrossing the highways and byways of east Dallas and Kaufman county, Texas. And even though I am a Texan through and through, and I have often been accused of being somewhat “country” I have never been able to master the art of “moseying around.” I don’t mosey. I usually feel like I need to hurry even when I have no particular place to be at any certain time. If I am ever late for anything you better send someone to look for me because something unexpected has happened. So, seeing a man in a yellow vest holding a sign is not one of my favorite sites. For the life of me I just cannot understand why these people do not know that I, Randy Franklin, am going to need unimpeded access to this roadway on this date at precisely this moment. If anything, why aren’t they using those flags and cones to direct the giant RV and the blue haired septuagenarian to the shoulder so I can zip on through and meet my self imposed deadline.

My usual reaction to seeing a man in a yellow vest holding a sign is a loud sigh, a rolling of my eyes, a lifting of my hands toward heaven and an occasional steering wheel pound, followed by literal minutes of heart racing anxiety as I search my heart for the sins that have brought this curse upon my life.

Lately I have noticed that this approach has not been adding a lot of joy and light to my daily commutes so I decided to try another approach. I took a deep breath, turned the ac to high, cranked up some tunes on the radio, looked out the window at the beautiful day that the Lord had made and said a little prayer for that poor man having to wear that yellow vest and hold that sign.

My Old Jacket

jacketFirst of all let me say that I do not usually form emotional attachments to inanimate objects. To me, stuff is just stuff, to be used until it is no longer functional or beneficial to my existence. But with Fall just around the corner I have to say that I am somewhat saddened by the forced retirement of my beloved jacket. The rolled up sleeves that were always to long for me, have literally rotted off, as has the sweat stained collar. Quite simply, it just doesn’t have another Winter left in it.

This old jacket has kept me warm through many hours of work and countless miles of travel. Many of my most pleasant memories were made while wearing this old jacket. From sea to shining sea, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer she was always faithful.

From humble beginnings on an Old Navy clearance rack this simple cloth jacket rose through the ranks to become my #1 go to outer wear. Light enough to be comfy even when driving, roomy enough for a hoodie underneath when needed, this jacket could do it all. Just enough pockets to house the essentials, phone, keys, billfold, sunglasses and even a firearm when necessary, this jacket was an absent minded mans dream companion. Not exactly a fashion statement yet able to adapt to almost any social setting this jacket knew no boundaries. She was a star, a jacket among jackets. Many a challenger came and went, unable to steal her crown, unable to compete with her unmatched adaptability and comfort.

Doubtless, others will seek her position and prestige. The path forward will not be easy. On those days behind the wheel when I feel cramped and bound up by some bulky “coat” or when I stand shivering in some light weight girly “wind breaker,” with a tear in my eye I will recall the days of wonder when you held me tightly.

Good bye sweet friend. I pray that Kim don’t throw you away. If she does, I pray that if there is a jacket in heaven, you will wait for me, and I will see you again.

Once Upon a Time in America

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One upon a time God blessed America

One upon a time America believed in God

One upon a time we believed His Son Jesus was the Savior of the world

One upon a time the Bible was the Word of God

One upon a time Ministers preached the Bible

One upon a time some things were sin

One upon a time people repented when they committed those sins

One upon a time the Ten Commandments were not offensive

One upon a time our colleges were established to train ministers

One upon a time people prayed at school, at sporting events, graduations, and even beside their beds at night

One upon a time boys were boys and girls were girls

One upon a time boys and girls grew up, fell in love, had sex and had babies, in that order

One upon a time “baby daddies” married “baby mommas”

One upon a time marriage was for life

One upon a time husbands loved there wives and wives respected their husbands

One upon a time Dads taught their sons how to be men and Moms taught their daughters how to be ladies

Once upon a time a man who didn’t work and provide for his family was not a man

One upon a time we knew that no one owes us anything, including the Government

One upon a time we just wanted to be free to make our own way

One upon a time our word was our bond and a handshake was our contract

One upon a time we were embarrassed when we were late or didn’t do a good job

One upon a time we obeyed laws and respected authority

One upon a time there were words that you were not supposed to say and some things you were not supposed to do

One upon a time singers really sang, musicians really played and comedians could make us laugh without being vulgar

Once upon a time you had to have talent to be a star

One upon a time you could watch the news to find out what really happened

One upon a time the whole family could watch TV together

One upon a time there were things we would die for

One upon a time there were ideals we sought to live up to

One upon a time we knew that life was a gift from God and that all life was sacred from the womb to the grave

One upon a time we believed that we would all stand before God one day and give an account for the way we had lived

One upon a time people came to America to become Americans

One upon a time God blessed America

One upon a time in a land far away…America was great

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Philippians 2:15 so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky .

Well, here we are, 2016. I am expecting and believing God for a great year. We are living in some amazing times and it will no doubt be an eventful year. In spite of the crazy times in which we find ourselves living, I truly believe God has great plans for His people in the midst of a troubled world.

I love the start of a new year because it offers great opportunities to reflect on the previous year and to make needed changes in our lives. Many of us use this time to make New Years resolutions. But sadly, although our enthusiasm may be high and our commitment real, we often fail. Trust me I have known the “agony of defeat.”

As I pondered my newest list of resolutions this year it struck me that perhaps we so often fail because we start at the wrong place. Invariably, we make commitments to change outward actions when maybe we should start on the inside. Matthew gives us a good hint as to where we might start.

Matt.6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 

As I prayed about the new year the word that kept rolling around in my spirit was the word pure. The word pure means “without any extraneous and unnecessary elements.” What if in 2016 we got rid of all the unnecessary things in our lives? Things that aren’t making life better or drawing us closer to God. Unnecessary attitudes, habits, desires, thoughts.

Pure also means “free of any contamination.”

What if we got real honest with ourselves and admitted that some things we are doing are just wrong and we need to quit doing them. Now!

Hebrews 12:1 tell us to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”

Another definition of pure is be “perfectly in tune.” What if we just decided to get “in tune with God. What if we simply let Him be God and we just followed him and obeyed His word. What if we turned loose of the reins and let God lead us?  What if we just committed ourselves to being pure? Pure in body. Pure in mind. Pure in heart. Pure in spirit.

To be pure in body we must take control of what our body is doing.  It seems that under the guise of modernism, tolerance and a misunderstanding of grace that people are  allowing themselves to do things that God has said we are not to do. The Apostle Paul tells us in I Cor. 6:12 You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you.” What he is basically saying it that just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Just because God doesn’t strike us down every time we sin does not mean that he approves and he certainly will not bless sinful behavior.

I Thessalonians 4:4 tells usthat each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable.” Friends, it matters what we do, where we go and how we act. God has called us to be pure in body.

To be pure in mind we must take control of how we think and what we think about.  What we fill our minds with affect our thinking. Ask yourself what do you think about. There is a powerful quote that says:

“Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

What we fill our minds with will determine what we become. We must renew our minds daily with God’s word and take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ. We must take control of our thought life instead of letting our thoughts control us.

Jesus said in Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” What does it mean to be pure in heart?”The heart is where thoughts, desires, will, understanding, and character reside. So, to be pure in heart means to be blameless in who we actually are. A pure heart has no hypocrisy, no guile, no hidden motives. A pure heart is transparent and has a desire to please God in all things. It is more than a purity of behavior; it is a purity of soul.

The spirit is where things like unforgiveness, regret, jealousy, selfishness, anger, and malice can reside. To be pure in spirit we must allow the Spirit of Christ in us to set us free from these thing, to renew that childlike innocence and belief in our spirits.

Let’s be honest, we live in a very crude and vulgar culture and as we walk through this world on a daily basis some of that dirt inevitably sticks to us. Just like the great King David who God Himself described as a man after His own heart failed at times, we too sometimes fail. But, when we do, let us also be like David and humbly cry out to a merciful God. The only way we can be truly pure in heart is to give our lives to Jesus and ask Him cleanse and empower us to walk in newness and purity.

Psalm 51….2 Wash me clean from my guilt.
    Purify me from my sin.

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God.
    Renew a loyal spirit within me.

What could God do in us and through us this year if God imputed and God created purity in our lives was our resolution and our desire?