The Bus Stop is a series of true stories about my life, people I've worked with and events I've experienced. Of course the names have been changed. I hope these stories will brighten your day with a few laughs as well as give you encouragement. Hopefully you can avoid making some of the mistakes I've made and if you have already made them, then you can identify with me.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Love and Adversity

Many as well as I have fallen for the lie, “If I love them enough I know they will change.” This is nothing new and we continue to fall for this lie over and over again. If love was all it took to help someone to change, then we would all be perfect because God loves us unconditionally. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

First of all we must define love. Well, it’s has very little to do with emotions and has a lot to do with choice. Second, if we truly love someone we will always want to do what is best for them even if it hurts us and not what makes us feel good.

Many of us would do and give anything to help our children. It doesn’t matter if they are 10, 20 or 30 years old. We would give money we did or didn’t have or go way out of our way or make all kinds of sacrifices. I have to admit the main reasons we do this is because we don’t want to feel bad. My wife said this several years ago and I have to remind myself regularly. “Many of us are willing to do anything to help our (Spouse, Child or friend) however, are we willing to do nothing to help them.” This is the place where we will find genuine love.

It’s hard and it hurts, but we have to look at what’s best for them in the future and permanently not about making them or ourselves feel good for the moment. It’s like giving a heroin addict his fix. It helps him for the moment, but it’s only temporary. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8:18 The picture above I think addresses this perfectly.

As much as I hate to admit it, consequences and adversity do more to bring about change in us and others than what we call love. We cannot bargain with sin, we cannot make compromises and we definitely can’t befriend it. I’m afraid the only way sin can be removed from us is like surgery without anesthesia removing a life threatening cancer.

So why don’t we decide to just quit sinning? How I wished it was that easy. As I said it has to be removed from us like a cancer. However, our part is to get on the operating table and let God remove it. The biggest problem is we live in denial or justification and refuse to agree with God that we have a problem. Neither God nor us can help anyone that doesn’t submit and surrender.

Blessed Distractions

I am continually amazed when I see all the bountiful distractions satan has for us. Many of them seem so spiritual; however satan sets them in our path to get us off course and change our focus. I’ve seen people get angry and even fighting mad because others refuse to see their point of view. People are not only arguing, but developing groups in association with their beliefs. There are those who would ask you if you are Pre-trib, Mid-trib or Post-tribulation believers. Some of you may not even know what any of these mean. They’re asking, when do you believe Jesus is going to rapture His church? I even argued for pre-trib for a while until I realized it really wasn’t important and it was a distraction.

There are those who go round and round over the Gap-Theory. If you don’t know what this is then I won’t tell you because you really don’t need to know because it’s not important and I don’t want to be the cause of any distractions and that’s all it is. I’m sure there are some who have argued if Adam had a belly button or not. There are many more out there.

I believe some get involved in these things simply because they like controversy or it’s a good way to act spiritual while running from their real issues and sin. I can’t help but think…There is so much God has clearly shown us in His Word so why do we get wrapped up in things that have no definite answers. I have plenty to do. It’s kind of like one of your children working on the lawnmower in the winter when their room needs to be clean.

If someone ask me if I’m pre, mid or post I tell them that I know Jesus is coming back and when He does really doesn’t matter. We just need to be ready. Many times I get overwhelmed with all that the Bible tells me and I realize that there is no way I can do it and give up. Believe it or not that is the first step in walking with Jesus. When we realize it is above our ability to do this, then Jesus says, “Finally!” Now we’re at a place where He can start living through us. Phil. 4:13 This usually arrives between the ages of 40-50. When we have done all we can do and tried all we can try then we finally surrender to God.

That was what the Law was for. It was to show us we need help and lots of it. It was not created for us to obtain to make us feel spiritual or to make us feel guilty, worthless or like failures, but to show us we couldn’t do it and our need for Jesus. Jesus consolidated everything for us to help us. This is step 2. It’s in Matthew 22:37-40. 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

If you don’t think you love yourself then I would be glad to prove that you do.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Truth is our Friend

Many years ago on Christmas Eve Karen, Rusty and I flew to her parents for Christmas. Her Dad picked us up at the airport and when we were through celebrating he returned us to the airport and we started for home. Low clouds starting coming in around Mineola so I thought it was best we find a place to land. We landed at the Mineola airport and called a friend to see if he would let us stay the night which he did. The next morning it was a beautiful clear day and we headed back to McKinney to reload and head for Lamesa, Texas. This had always been a dream of mine to fly to Lamesa and “nothing.” was getting in the way of my dream.

Before we left I called flight service to get a report on the weather and to my dismay things weren’t looking good. A cold front was coming in dropping temperatures, snow and the cloud ceiling was around 3000 feet 30 miles to the west of us. I walked outside and looked at the beautiful blue clear sky and figured they had to be wrong. I refused to believe the weather report because I was focused on my desire. We loaded up on the airplane and headed out and would you believe that the weather service was right. When we approached Denton we saw the front coming. I had to make a choice. Turn around, fly on top of the clouds hoping there would be a clear spot to go through when we arrived at Lamesa or fly under it. The ceiling was 3000 feet so I thought I would certainly be safe. So I persisted to go on despite all the warnings.

When we were over Possum Kingdom Lake we started picking up ice and I got really nervous and decided we needed to find a place to land. I started out for Mineral Wells, but as I was turning around I saw an airport below us. I didn’t know what airport and really didn’t care. I just headed for it quickly as I could. It was Possum Kingdom.

When we landed there was a shack with a heater in it so we camped out there for about an hour or so hoping the temp would rise and we could be on our way. Never did I consider returning home. The temperature finally got a few degrees above freezing so I thought we’d try to make it to Abilene. My navigation was off a little and we actually ended up in Sweetwater which was actually better. We landed there and called my folks and asked them to come get us. I got to thinking that if we could make it to Snyder that would save them a lot of time and it would be a very short flight for us so we agreed for them to get us in Snyder.

Something I soon realized after we left the ground in Sweetwater was that the cloud ceiling had not changed and was around 3200 feet. What I failed to realize is that the ground elevation continued to rise and we could only fly about 200 feet above the ground. At that altitude I knew that it could be very possible to fly into a tower or something. So I thought I’d better be safe and fly the highways to Snyder. (Safe?)

As we were headed down I20 from that perspective I wasn’t quite sure which exit to take to Snyder so Karen looked down and read the exit sign to Snyder and she said, “Snyder, that way.” So I took the exit following the road, every curve and bend because I wanted to be “safe.” I remember passing cars on the highway doing about 170 mph. Finally we saw Snyder and I had to leave the safety of the road to head for the airport, landed and parked the plane. Then we waited for my folks to arrive. I was exhausted! I think I finally quit shaking about half way to Lamesa. When we got to Lamesa it was cold and foggy. I am so glad I didn’t try to get all the way there. That was the first smart thing I did all day.

I could only stay a couple of days because I had to get back to work. The only problem it was snowing so I had to fly back on Southwest.

I now know and even then I might have realized after the fact that this was an incredibly stupid and dangerous event that I not only put myself in, but my wife and son. Maybe you haven’t done this, but I would bet you have done something similar.

There were several errors I made that day and they didn’t start with the flight. They actually started several years ago when I was a teenager. Every summer I tried to get a job at the Lamesa airport. Of course, I never did because there really wasn’t anything to do there. I used to go out there trying to watch airplanes fly and dream of being a pilot flying in and out of that airport. Once I got my pilot’s license that had become my focus for a long time. I thought the day had come for me to fulfill my dream, but it hadn’t.

My dream had turned from a dream to a determination and obsession. Nothing was going to get in my way, not even God. He taught me different. Have you ever had this kind of obsession and everywhere you turned you ran into a locked door or road block? I should have learned from this, but through my life I have tried to force myself through many doors. There are times when we need to try door after door and keep searching, but there are many times when we need to pull back and ask God what He wants.

Many think God’s Word is about rules and regulations when in reality it’s warnings and danger signs. It’s Truth! When we get so caught up in the many lies in our life as well as the many that are being fed to us, it’s so refreshing to know that our Lord deals only in truth. However, just like I ignored all the warning signs the trip could have ended in disaster. How many interpret the Bible as don’t do what you like and do the things you don’t like. For many years my life was full of disasters because I didn’t heed the warning signs. The first step is learning the warning signs. The only person at fault was mine because I didn’t learn the warning signs or refused to listen to them. Such as, “Highly Explosive: Handle with Care!!!”

This story is about arrogant youth, but also pride. I was determined to get my way even if it killed me. Fortunately my loving Father had mercy on me and protected us even though I didn’t deserve it and got us there and back safely. I wonder sometimes if Karen and Rusty wouldn’t have been in the plane God wouldn’t have let me crash. It reminds me about a man who was on a commercial plane and was real nervous. The passenger tried to assure him that if it was not your time to die it didn’t matter where you were at. He said, “Yeah, but what if it’s not my time but it’s the pilot’s time to die?”

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. James 4:13-17

I’m learning that God will allow us to have certain things in our life, but it is always based on His timing and not ours. A year or so later after this event I had to fly to Amarillo on commercial and pick up an airplane and take it back to McKinney. When we were flying in to Amarillo I noticed we had to dodge several thunderstorms getting in. I wasn’t too keen on flying back knowing had this to look forward to. The man who picked me up felt it would be wise for me to stay overnight. I had a wonderful idea and told him I would fly down to Lamesa and stay overnight there and head back in the morning. I didn’t get very far before I ran into another line of thunderstorms and had to turn around and go back. So I spent the night in Amarillo.

I really began to think that God wasn’t ever going to let me fly into Lamesa so I had finally let this desire go. One time when we were visiting in Lamesa there a man I used to work for really loved flying and asked me if I would take him flying. I told him I’d love to, but there were no airplanes in Lamesa to rent. So we went to Midland and he rented a plane for us and guess what, “I got to fly into Lamesa and land.”

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. Isaiah 55:8

Monday, September 12, 2011

From the Heart

I’ve been writing Bus Stops for 3 years now this September. What I’ve written about has been situations that I’ve struggled with presently or throughout my life. I’ve always tried to write straight from my heart and based on what God has to say about these circumstances in His Word.

I don’t write these just for venting and expressing my opinion, but to share my failures and successes in hopes that you might find some answers as well from my experiences. I know that sometimes a certain one doesn’t apply to you, but the next one may.

This last week I have been trying to write and nothing happened. Usually when I write they just flow and are completed within 15 - 30 minutes. The reason I believe I’m struggling now is my heart has been empty. It’s been full of cynicism, apathy and a feeling of what’s the use. I’ve wrestled with the fear of disappointment all my life. So I fall into a belief that if I don’t try and can’t be disappointed.

Now I know all of this is a lie and nonsense. Nevertheless I sometimes do get overwhelmed with these feelings. Sometimes scriptures like Jeremiah 29:11 or Philippians 4:13 just make me angry instead of encouraged. Do any of you feel like this sometimes?

I’ve heard these verses used like catch phrases in a motivational seminar. If that is the way they are taught then that’s all they’ll ever be. All of God’s word cannot be interpreted in the mind, but only through our hearts. There are verses I’ve known since I was young that had no meaning until one day God spoke to me in a certain situation revealing in my heart a particular verse.

I know that God doesn’t work in the area of feelings, but only in the area of truth. Just because I feel a certain way rarely has nothing to do with the truth. There are many who have made a religion from following their feelings. That’s why I have to deny the lies of satan and return to the truth.

There are certain lies in our life that satan continues to perpetuate over and over. Why? Because they work! However, each time we deny those lies and move on we grow a little further away from them and closer to the truth. I know I feel really stupid each time I’m sucked into these negative tapes.

The only escape I’ve ever found is to believe the truth whether I feel in or not. If we believe the lie then we will begin to behave in that way. So why do we believe the lie? Simply because it’s easier. I know I’ve used this verse before and I know that I will use it again, but it is so true. “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

Monday, September 5, 2011

Progressive Sin

Recently one of the courses my wife had in school was investigative accounting. In other words, it was learning how to catch the embezzler among other things. It was interesting to me how most if not all situations were similar. The culprit would borrow $20 out of petty cash in desperation to pay for something and then they would return it in a few days or weeks. No one would even notice and so this would be the beginning of much more to come. Being the accountant or bookkeeper of the business they started discovering new ways to borrow/embezzle/steal money by simply changing things in their books. At first they always had “good intentions” of returning the money until they realized they had stolen over half a million dollars. Then they couldn’t find a way out.

Through all of this they somehow discovered justifications for every dime they took. Even when they bought their daughter a new car, needed a boat, new clothes or paid their son’s tuition through college and anything else they just had to have. Eventually they are always caught and faced with pay it back or jail time.

This is progressive sin and we are all guilty of it, maybe not to that extreme, but guilty. It may be a bite of ice cream, glance at a dirty picture, or one little lie and so on. I remember when I was in high school I would cut class. The next day I would sweat the entire day wondering when I was going to get called to the principal’s office. If I didn’t get in trouble for several days then I would try it again and again until I got busted. After everything cooled off the process would start all over again.

In my experience falling into sin is not a cliff or a fireman’s pole, but more of a spiraling staircase. One step at a time. This is how Satan tempts us to commit sin is by nudging us little by little until it’s too late.

The chronic gambler, serial killer, rapist, or burglar started out one step at a time. If they weren’t discovered, then they would attempt it again and again. I would hope that none of you struggle with any of these things. However, we all struggle with something.

The bottom line and the main point I’d like to make is the reason most people choose to do right has nothing to do with moral beliefs or integrity, but fear of getting caught. It’s like when our parents caught us doing something wrong we weren’t upset at what we did as much as were about getting caught.

I believe I said in a previous Bus Stop if you wanted to see the full depravity of man all we would have to do is do away with the laws for 3 days. No one have to answer for anything they did during these 3 days. I think we would all be amazed of what we saw. It’s already happened in many countries, especially during war time. The Nazi forces could do whatever they wished; rape, pillage and murder with no consequence for anything they did. The Japanese did the same thing during WWII as well as Saddam Hussein and his sons and many, many more. They had no law or were above the law. Of course, there is consequence eventually. We know how it ended for all of them.

Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. James 1:15