2006-05-31 0 comments

The God of Visa and MasterCard

I never intended this to be a "here's a another interesting thing God did for me" kind of blog, but it seems that way sometimes.

That being said, here's another interesting thing God did for me.

Baskin-Robbins has this absolutely wonderful promotion going on for summer (this isn't an ad, I promise). Every Tuesday, one scoop of ice cream is one dollar.

It's glorious -- my wife can get her double-chocolate chip and rocky road in a cup, and I can get whatever combination of sherbets I'm in the mood for -- all for the low, low price of four bucks and change.

(Oh, by the way ... if Baskin-Robbins doesn't bring Splish-Splash back this summer, I'm not going to be happy ... sure, Wild and Reckless is a fine choice, but nothing beats Splish Splash. Come on, Mr. Baskin or Mr. Robbins. Get with it.)

Another great thing about Baskin-Robbins? They take check cards because, after all, we live in a cashless society now (or close to it.) ... I didn't even have a five-dollar bill in my pocket. So, out comes the plastic.

Anyway, we get our ice cream, I pay for it with my credit card, and my wife, daughter and I all take a seat at the counter and dig in (except my daughter, who isn't a year old yet ... she had to settle for freeze-dried apples -- yum).

We were all close to finishing our ice cream when in walks this guy and says hello to me, by name. I didn't recall ever having met him -- my wife later told me who he is, and I remembered -- but here he was, saying my name.

Mere moments later, the clerk at Baskin-Robbins came around the counter.

"Are you Andrew?" he said.

"That's me."

"You might want this back," he said. It was my credit card. He'd forgotten to give it back, then forgotten who it belonged to.

That is until a guy I'd met only once just happened to walk in right as we were getting ready to leave and say hello to me, by name, loud enough for the clerk to hear him and identify the mystery credit card as mine.

Now, you may dismiss this as pure chance, mere happenstance. And, OK, maybe it was. After all, it wouldn't have been the end of the world had I left my card behind. I'd have remembered where I used it last and gone back to get it. No biggie.

But it would have been an inconvenience. God had other plans.

That scripture from my last entry, the one about how God feeds the birds and that, if He does that, surely He'll take care of us? It's appropos here.

After all, as Jesus said, "You are worth more than many sparrows." Even when you forget your credit card.

There He goes again, taking care of even the trivial things that happen in life. He can take care of you, too.

Want to know him? Click on the link called "How do I become a Christian?", read Romans 10:9,10 or send me an e-mail.
2006-05-29 1 comments

Wrong place, wrong time

"Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?"
(Luke 12:23-25)

(Hardest piece of advice to follow in the Bible? It has to be up there, yes?)

Check out those photos there. Pretty crazy, huh?

My wife and I were coming back from a short trip to the mountains (Pocahontas County, just outside of Green Bank, for you West Virginians -- check out my photoblog, The Cross Project, for some pictures I took while we were up there). Just south of Minnehaha Springs, two orioles swooped in front of the car.

One made it ... the other didn't -- that's him (or her, as the case may be) in the spokes of my bike.

After my wife nearly jumped out of her seat, we drove on. Road kill is road kill, and hitting an animal with your car while driving through the biggest forest in the most rural state east of the Mississippi isn't that big of a deal.

When we stopped for gas later, there it was -- the bird had bounced from my windshield and into the spokes of my mountain bike.

(I love my digital camera, by the way.)

Here's the thing: twice, on the roughly five-hour drive home, we ran into stopped traffic from two car accidents. Neither looked serious, but both underscored how dangerous something as seemingly trivial as traveling on Memorial Day can be.

God took care of us. He always does.

That scripture? Man, it's tough to follow, tough to take to heart. But God loves us immensely, and never fails to keep watch over us, much more than than the birds of the air, beautiful though they are.

And if He'll keep us safe on the road, what right do we have to worry about anything else?

Want to know Jesus? Click on this link, read Romans 10:9,10 and/or send me an e-mail to Ephesians514@gmail.com.

(copyright andrew j. beckner, 2006)
2006-05-22 0 comments

A new project ...

The cross of Christ is pervasive.

You can find it anywhere -- on the manicured front lawns of Presbyterian churches, in cracks on a sidewalk, on the way a fence post lines up just right. It may not be intentional (at least by man), but the cross is everywhere. Pay attention and you'll see what I mean.

To that end, one of the reasons I started this blog was to post pictures of crosses I've "found" in traveling about and then posting them here. But, as it turns out, I've felt led to write more about other things on this blog and that's taken away from it a little bit.

That's why I've decided to start a new, different blog. There will be few words -- I'll limit the text to captions describing time and place. Instead, the cross of Christ will do the talking. It's a photoblog, where I'll post the pictures I've taken with my handy-dandy Canon Powershot. I have dozens of them already ... and find more everyday.

So please mosey on over to The Cross Project and take a look. I hope you'll like it.

(Just dont' forget about this blog, either).

2006-05-16 2 comments

Learning to walk

"Pull yourself together, Job. Up on your feet. Stand tall. I have some questions for you, and I want some straight answers. Where were you when I created the earth? Tell me, since you know so much. Who decided its size? Certainly you'll know that!"
(Job 38:3-5, The Message)

My daughter has reddish hair, blue eyes -- and a purple bruise on her cheek.

She's about a year old now, so she's learning to walk. She's getting pretty good at it, too. Just yesterday I was standing in my kitchen, back to the door, when I heard the pitter-patter of little bare feet on linoleum.

There she was, my beautiful angel, lips tersed in concentration, eyes wide with excitement and pride, doing a sort-of one-step-then-hop thing. Guess you had to see it to know what I mean. (Unless, of course, you too have a little one learning to walk.)

Then, just as she had come into view, she swayed. It was almost as if an invisible wind snuck its way into our kitchen. She stopped, eyes growing wider. She looked at me, helpless. Then, she unceremoniously fell to her rear with a thud. There were no tears, just as I knew there wouldn't be. Instead, she stuck her tongue out just the slightest little bit, then grinned widely and yelled, "DaDEEE!!!"

So I picked her up.

Here's one of the (many) things I'm learning as a new parent: Sometimes, I need to let her fall.

It's hard, watching her best efforts come crashing to the floor. But I know something she doesn't: if I don't let her fall, she'll never learn that there are consequences. She has to learn that turning one way is OK. Turning another -- and too rapidly -- brings that linoleum rushing toward her.

There's a lesson in the rude force of the floor, and it's one she has to learn on her own. I can't catch her every time she stumbles and explain to her what would happen if I hadn't done so. She won't understand. One day, when she is more mature, her mind more fully developed, I can reason with her: "If you drink and drive, you could be killed." "If you smoke that cigarette, you could get cancer."

Last week, I turned my daughter loose to walk to my wife in that same kitchen. She took two steps, then three, then four. Then, it happened: that invisible wind of imbalance and poor motor skills took over.

Except this time she didn't fall on her butt, and once I realized she wasn't going to, it was too late. In trying for one last-ditch effort to reach her mommy, she lunged forward ... and fell face-first into the refrigerator. She howled with pain, and when her mommy picked her up, she looked at both of us with a sad sort of accusatory glare. Her tears seemed to say, "Why did you let that happen?" I didn't have an answer -- I had made a poor decision not to intervene.

I don't know why God allows things to happen. I really hate my job right now. I had a very bad back injury a couple years ago that still gives me fits. My wife is stressed with her job, too. Why do these things happen when they hurt so, so much?

There's a lesson in them. I understand that much more clearly now that I'm a parent. God sees us swaying in the winds of life. Sometimes He catches us. Other times He lets us fall. And some times, it hurts.

One more story. A while ago, I left my daughter lying on the bed while I walked away -- just for a second, I promise! -- to grab another diaper. In that short instant, she rolled to her stomach and crawled toward the edge. I couldn't catch her in time. She fell with a thud, and I scooped her up in my arms and cradled her tightly, all while she cried into my shoulder. How terrible I felt! How irresponsible!

She is fine, of course. As soon as I took her outside to see the neighbor's dogs, she forgot all about the fall and instead directed her attention to pulling their mangy hair. All was right in the world.

God never does that. He never looks away, even for a second. He's never irresponsible. Oh, how I love Him for that!

Sure, I get angry with God sometimes. I want to shake my fist at Him and ask, "WHY?!"

Then, I remember. He's always there, every time I walk -- and if I fall, I know there's a reason for my pain.

It's because, in that moment, my God loves me too much to catch me -- and loves me enough to pick me up when I cry.

(copyright andrew j. beckner, 2006)
2006-05-01 0 comments

The calm in the storm ...

Today, I want to tell you about my good friend Jack Cummings.

You know, the things we do for God can have such an impact on others' lives in ways we may never intend. That picture at your left? That's a drawing Jack did several months ago ... beautiful, isn't it?

See, Jack draws cartoons ... very funny, very good cartoons that are, more importantly, inspiring. (You can visit his website by clicking here. I also link to his website on the list on the right.)

Now, that's not the first activity that comes to mind when we think of working for God, but that's exactly what Jack is doing. He's letting his talent shine for God, and He is getting the glory by doing magnificient works, through His people, by using Jack's divinely-inspired ability.

Like what? Glad you asked.

Remember, Jack drew this particular picture months ago -- every day, he sends out a new cartoon; one day out of the week he draws an artistic representation of a piece of scripture -- and I decided that, as part of a series of on the life of Christ I'm about to post, I'd use the picture. So, I perused my old e-mails and, after looking around for awhile, found it.

Then, this morning, I woke to dark clouds, heavy winds and tossing waves.

Ever felt that way? Even those closes to Jesus -- His hand-picked disciples -- did, and my spiritual walk with Christ is nowhere near the equivalent of walking with Him, in person, every day. (Of course, we can all have that close a relationship if we try ... but that's a subject for another day.)

So, there they are, in a boat in the Sea of Galilee, and, boy, is it storming. The Bible doesn't say how bad it was, but it was bad enough that Peter and the boys were sweating bullets -- and, remember, these were fishermen. They'd seen their fair share of storms. We know it was bad enough that they woke Jesus (yeah, He was real worried, huh?) and said, "Hey, you gonna let us die here?"

You know the rest of the story. Jesus, basically, told the wind to take a hike, told the seas to knock it off ... almost, as if, He said "Who do you think you are, trying to sink this ship? I made you. Back off."

And it did, prompting the disciples to say, "What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the seas obey Him?"

My job was really tough this morning. And there are all kinds of things going on outside of it as well ... I won't go into it. I'm sure you all have your own problems, too, and don't need burdened by mine (I could always use a prayer, if you'd like).

The bottom line is that I'm feeling a little down this morning -- and there's this picture of my Master, calming the waves.

Sure, I feel like running beneath deck and screaming, "Jesus! Don't you care that I'm stressed? Don't you care when the waves of my life are threatening me? Don't you care that I'm down today, that I'm feeling sorry for myself? Don't you care?"

Of course He does ... and a "cartoon" from a friend reminded me of that this morning.

Thank you, Jesus ... and thank you, Jack.

Want to know the One whom even the wind and the seas obey? Click on the link "How do I become a Christian?," read Romans 10:9,10 or send me an e-mail.


Just passin' thru ...

"This world is not my home,
I'm just a-passin' thru.

My treasures are laid up
Somewhere beyond the blue ..."

There's an old hymn for you ... with any luck, you have it stuck in your head for the next couple of hours.

Short post ... I'm quite literally just passing through here, on the way to bed. But I thought I wouldn't post something at my own peril. After all, I don't want to give the two or three people who read this thing the idea that I'm not a regular blogger. More tomorrow, I (hopefully) promise.

Got my first comment the other day. That's much appreciated. Ya'll come back now, you hear?

Today's cross? That's from a storm drain just down the street from my house in good ol' Charleston, West Virginia.

(Sorry about the Southern drawl coming through the grammar today ... I'm feeling very West Virginian this evening.)

Thanks for visiting. God bless ...

Want to know Jesus? Click on the link "How do I become a Christian?" read Romans 10:9,10 in the Bible or send me an e-mail.