How Long Lord

After the pastor finished his sermon, he stayed at the doors and shook the people’s hands as they went by, making sure to give a smile and a kind word to each one.

By the time he finished, most of the people milling around in the church lobby had left except for a few. The pastor noticed in particular one elderly woman who was sitting on one of the hallway plush benches, nearly in tears, rocking back and forth. Concerned, the pastor walked over to her and heard her emit the words, “How long, Lord? How long?”

Touched, he laid a hand on the suffering saint. “Ma’am, God has heard you. I am sure that he will come through for you, Isaiah 40:30-33 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” The Pastor quoted with passion. She looked up at him with a small smile and thanked him.

Feeling that he had done a very good deed, he turned and was about to walk out the doors when one of the bathroom doors opened and someone came out.

The pastor definitely had a feeling of chagrin when the old woman yelled, “Praise the Lord!” and ran inside.

Questions with Funny Answers

Q: Why are the floors of basketball courts always so damp?

A: The players dribble a lot.

Q: Why is tennis such a loud game?

A: Because each player raises a racquet.

Q: What is a boxer’s favorite drink?

A: Punch.
Q: What’s On the TV Tonight?

A: Dust.

Q: What did the necktie say to the hat?

A: You go on a head. I’ll hang around for awhile.

Q: What is a tree’s favorite drink?

A: Root beer.
Random Funny Thoughts

The one who invented the door knocker got a No-bell prize.

No one knew she had a dental implant until it came out in a conversation.

The patron saint of poverty is St. Nickeless.

Why did the capacitor kiss the diode? He just couldn’t resistor.

Yesterday I accidentally swallowed food coloring. The doctor says I’m OK, but I feel like I’ve dyed a little inside.

When a clock is hungry, it goes back four seconds.

Sleeping comes so naturally to me, I could do it with my eyes closed.
If they Had A Doting Mother

COLUMBUS’ MOTHER: “I don’t care what you’ve discovered, you still could have written!”

MICHELANGELO’S MOTHER: “Can’t you paint on walls like other children? Do you have any idea how hard it is to get that stuff off the ceiling?”

NAPOLEON’S MOTHER: “All right, if you aren’t hiding your report card inside your jacket, take your hand out of there and show me.”

MARY’S MOTHER: “I’m not upset that your lamb followed you to school, but I would like to know how he got a better grade than you.”

ALBERT EINSTEIN’S MOTHER: “But it’s your senior picture. Can’t you do something about your hair? Styling gel, mousse, something…?”

The Mercy Seat

In the movie “The Interpreter” there is a scene where the leading lady shares some wisdom on forgiveness that I found to be an absolute treasure; a jewel in the cave or a golden nugget in the mine. The more I dug around in this wisdom I found it to be a treasure that God had given me in my own life, (on more than one occasion) although no one had ever murdered someone in my family, in my lifetime, God had provided this opportunity for me before I even knew the significance.

Here is the quote from the movie “The Interpreter”

“Everyone who loses somebody wants revenge on someone, on God if they can’t find anyone else. But in Africa, in Matobo, the Ku believe that the only way to end grief is to save a life. If someone is murdered, a year of mourning ends with a ritual that we call the Drowning Man Trial. There’s an all-night party beside a river. At dawn, the killer is put in a boat. He’s taken out on the water and he’s dropped. He’s bound so that he can’t swim. The family of the dead then has to make a choice. They can let him drown or they can swim out and save him. The Ku believe that if the family lets the killer drown, they’ll have justice but spend the rest of their lives in mourning. But if they save him, if they admit that life isn’t always just… that very act can take away their sorrow. Vengeance is a lazy form of grief.”

As I played out this scenario in my mind a helpless drowning convict; guilty yes, but totally vulnerable in need of mercy. God had now placed the wounded family as the final judge. Does that sound familiar in your life? Has someone horribly hurt you through evil choices and later you found God had placed you in a position of being their Judge and if so, did God do that for your healing? God did with me on at least two occasions here is the more dramatic.

In March of 2008 I got a call from the North Carolina Department of Revenue that our Office Manager and Secretary Treasurer of our Dealership, Westside Chrysler Dodge Jeep had in fact plead guilty to the embezzlement of the states payroll tax trust funds and that she had written a very sizeable check to the state as part of a plea bargain to reduce her sentence. There was to be a hearing the next day for her sentencing and the State of NC wanted me to come and testify to the extent that this crime had destroyed our business and affected the loss of employment for so many, I agreed to be there.

That night my mind was all over the place, so I prayed and God clearly told me what the Judge would ask me the following day. “How much time should I give her?” What a gift on so many levels. Anytime I hear God’s voice it’s a gift for sure. This time it was about a future event that would come to pass exactly as God said, confirming it was from Him. These are life markers like the twelve stones on the banks of the Jordan River to help me remember God loves me; it is Him speaking to me. This movie clip however shares another huge gift God gave me at that time I had yet unearthed.

That night I was able to process the answer I would give. The wounds of this crime were fresh and deep. My wife and I had lost everything, house, cars, credit, all money, retirement, our business and employment. Many folks rumored I was the thief in the small town of Mocksville and even in my family, my reputation was destroyed. Countless so called friends had abandoned us. Sheriff’s visits were regular serving papers, investigations by the IRS and the Justice departments that kept me almost punch drunk. Perhaps worst of all was the effects on our children they went from being well respected kids in a private schools with affluent parents and all the trappings to wondering how we could let our friends see where we are living now with no way to pay for the lifestyle they had come to expect. My 17year old daughter had dropped out of school and married a Panera Bread Manager. Which in my mind she was looking for her life back as were my other two children. We had at this point been under this siege for a couple of years.

So I knew our office manager was guilty I had uncovered most of the thefts myself and I wasn’t a bit surprised she plead guilty the evidence was overwhelming. The question is now; “God what is Justice and what is Mercy and what forgiveness is?” I had this one night with the help of God to process what had taken nearly eight years to totally unfold.

The next morning my wife Tammy and I found ourselves in a courtroom in Raleigh. The exact same one we were in a few months earlier to see a dear family friend incarcerated for 14 years as a child sex offender. He too was guilty and I could remember the horror of watching the sentence pronounced and watching them take him out of the court room to certain hell on earth. He was very close to our family and the pain of those moments was also fresh in my mind.

As we went to enter the courtroom there she was. I hadn’t seen her in almost a year. The last time I saw her was when the board of directors for Westside had called her to a meeting to answer to for the missing $560,000 that Chrysler Financial discovered in an audit. At the board meeting she just resigned and said she had no comment. She had been a dear friend, regularly came to our Bible study. She was very generous had always given my children wonderful presents, I was sure she loved us and was happy with her work. She was a grandmother herself loyal to her family. Nobody would have guessed that she could ever do such a thing. Yet right now she looked like she had aged 10 years in a year, her face was down cast she wouldn’t even look at me. Her attorney and family hurried her into the court room.

The court came to order. The bailiff called out the charges and the plea. The Judge asked the prosecution to call any witnesses. The States Lawyer called me to the stand swore me in. Then as I sat down I was now face to face with my office manager. No doubt, with today’s eyes now I see her as that tied up murderer struggling in the water perhaps deserving death but in need of mercy.

The attorney asked me to tell the results of the missing money. All of that was matter of fact; 20 some employees lost their jobs. Millions of dollars in creditors that would never be paid, all the assets of the corporation and my family had evaporated. The Judge asked me how much money was missing I told him the books were overstated by more than 2million dollars but we will never know how much money actually got gone. As I spoke I tried to look into those eyes that used to be warm and encouraging, now distant and cold as ice, even colder.

The Judge asked my office manager how much was missing, she said, “no comment.” The same answer that had sent chills the last time I had seen her.

Then it came, the question God had prepared me for and to which I had prepared an answer. The Judge asked, “How much time do you think she should serve for what she did?”

I gave my prepared answer. “Your honor, I know God has placed you in this position of authority and you know the law much better than I and I trust you completely to issue the proper sentence.”
That’s when God placed me on the Mercy Seat. The Judge changed his composure to a much lighter smile as he looked me in the eye and said I am not going to let you off the hook that easy. “How much time do you think she should serve?”

There my office manager was in the river right in front of me struggling for her very life and God had given me a say so in this sentence it was clear. I said “Your honor, I really don’t see how the State of North Carolina would be served by keeping a 66 year old grand mother in jail, but tonight when my children and employees who have been hurt so badly by all this ask me what happened I don’t want to have to say; she got away with it.”

The Judge put his Judge hat back on called a recess to decide the sentence left the room and within 10 minutes he came back into the court room. He sentenced our office manager to five years, and then he suspended that to six months of actually time behind bars and the rest of the time on probation. What had enveloped my life for the last few years was judged very quickly on those charges. Unfortunately the results of the crime drastically effect my family to this very day, more hearings, more investigations it is now clear that it won’t all be cleared up in my life time I am now imagining when there is that much money involved.

The bigger questions to be settled here goes on within our heart not what happens with the money or the blame or even the jail time. I now see the gift God had for me. It was the dignity and the trust that if I was the one on the mercy seat, (the one who decided would there be mercy) God knew how I would chose, and I chose justice with mercy. If I had told the Judge to give her all the time he could, how in the world would I have ever been able to forgive myself for my role in the dealerships down fall? The measure I used for her I would have to use for myself. I don’t completely understand all this spiritually myself, but there is something to this and I have learned in my life that forgiving myself is often the most difficult and can only be done with “The deep Cleansing of Jesus blood.”

Somehow by showing the one who wounded you mercy it changes the way things are measured. Matthew 7:2 “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.”

Remember how many times King David found himself here. At least twice King Saul was totally vulnerable to David, once in the cave relieving himself 1 Samuel 24 and then again at the camp at night in 1 Samuel 26. Did you ever think this was a healing for David’s heart? Now begin to reconcile how King David’s heart would have been affected not just then but later in his life when he himself was a murderer. God had placed these encounters in King David’s life to heal the bitterness.

Somehow pain and bitterness, grief and loss are connected to Judgment and Mercy. This was not the first time I found myself in this position, the position of a drowning enemy that was totally vulnerable to my Judgment. Is that a coincidence, not a chance…. How about you, I’ guessing a story is coming to mind. Write it down set it as a marker 12 stones on the Jordan; God came after your heart just like mine and King David’s.

Understanding God is not only showing the drowning person mercy but, He is healing our broken hearts in the process.