Like a Fragile Flower

Quietly the sun rises through the woods, giving me time to reflect on the world. Looking off into the branches of time, I wonder where life has quickly gone. I remember my childhood days of climbing the hills and running into the valley of flowers. What I wouldn’t do to return to a world where Shwinns was the fastest way to find our friends!

I often sit alone with my coffee and reminisce over the smell of its grounds. I would love to see the neighbors who undoubtedly have gone to be with Jesus in heaven. Oh, the younger years I took for granted! They can never be replaced, but in my solitude of living color are the names of the smiles I so profoundly remember.

But, I understand, now, it is our Father who grants us the privilege of recollecting memories. I guess everyone has that incurable desire to go back in time and recall our beginnings. I know some may not agree with me, but it’s okay to disagree, for we’ve all conquered our own adolescence.

Our powerful and almighty God, in all His awesomeness, handles us like a fragile flower. It is written in 1 Peter 1:24, “For “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls,” So we sit in our own little world, cecum to the fact we are here because of His higher plan. And so God says we are to be born and live as prescribed by our heavenly Father.

We are part of His magnificent imagery. Where there was once a seed in the fertile soil, there is a blossom because of Christ. He comforts His fragile flowers thriving amongst the splintered branches. Even in the blowing winds and stressful times, He quenches His chosen ones.

In the circle of life, the petals eventually fade, and God cuts some lives shorter than others. Mourning the delicate flower which once stood tall for all to admire, we hold on to the cherished remembrances.

“For he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.”  Psalm 103:14-15

Like a fragile flower, the beauty of Christ and His Word bestows upon us the hope for a better future in heaven. View your memories through the gospel, and you will surely witness God’s grace at work. The experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the mysterious and perfect preparation for our future work with the heavenly Father.



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Waiting on His Return

We are familiar with the details of Christ’s fanfare when He returns amidst trumpets sounding across the land. The clouds will break open, and God’s light will shine as He returns. We can visualize the dead rising first as He calls us home. But, what if…

What if you sat on your porch and a man with a long, white robe and long, flowing hair approached you? Would you know instantly everything you learned and read was correct about Jesus? What if He came to your steps and said, “Are you ready?”

Would you think… is my bed made? Am I dressed appropriately? Is my home in order and bills paid? Is the laundry piled high by the bathroom sink? Is your house tidy or in complete disarray, just like your life? Would you tell Jesus, “let me get my wallet and cellphone?”

I wonder how many people will have the strength to follow Him? I’m sure some who claim to be of great faith, will fall flat on their face, kneel in forgiveness, and try to repent of their sins. But, it will be too late for those actions are to happen in this life. When Christ arrives for you, there will not be another chance or a rain check. Some will answer the calling, and some will miss the opportunity.

It will be a sad situation, especially when it involves those closest to us. For example, good Christians raise their children in the House of the Lord. But, as those generations turn into adults, they seek other means of comfort. Such vices include the drug scene, alcohol, sexual promiscuity, atheism, and crime. If God were to return today, we would never see our children again. It is taught that if we do everything possible to train our kids to have a strong spiritual nature, they will eventually return to their roots. Children are a gift from God, and He demands parents to raise them according to His laws. Teach them well so they, too, will walk from the porch with the Lord.

Our Father has given us everything in life, yet asked nothing in return except to honor Him. So, I wonder about the smug hypocrites who use the church to hide from their sin and faults. Will their unconscionable mind realize the wrongness of their logic? God is just and kind, but the Bible reveals hypocrites will also be severely judged at the end of time:

The condition of your home, or how well you are dressed will be gone forever when the Lord arrives at the sound of a trumpet. His appearance will be shocking and scary for those less prepared to face Him. I contemplate the unfolding events of our stand before His throne. If we bow and offer excuses for our sin, will God raise His right hand and say, “NO MORE! Begone!” Or will He whip out His “Book of Life” and start reciting all of our mistakes? The Bible reveals the answer:

I don’t have a clue if Christ will come through the clouds or arrive on your doorstep, but I can only emphasize this – don’t wait to prepare for His second coming! Start today by asking forgiveness of your sins, and never return to those wicked ways. Serve your fellowman in His holy name. Turn away from evil, and praise His name. Guide yourself and family to the heavens above so you all may be richly rewarded at the end of time. Every day you wait, is one less day you have to get things right before God.

As for me… I’m prepared and waiting on His return, covered in the blood of Christ.



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An Eternal Flame

I wake in deep thought… dear God, save me as my life is riddled with missing parts. An eternal flame burns for my father whose life was cut short, fifty-five years ago today, by carelessness. Though I am a product of divorced parents, no one can take the place of your biological Father.

I think of all those special moments in life I wasn’t afforded the luxury of my father. We couldn’t build a model together, fly a kite, or throw a ball. He couldn’t teach me to hunt or fish. He never taught me to drive, yet it I became the chauffeur to his own loving mom and dad. My dad never experienced my graduation day, though I pray he looked down upon me from heaven. He didn’t meet my important first date. Late at night, I cried myself to sleep for the many times I missed his love.

The void I tried to fill was grander than a canyon. Nothing can fill the shoes left behind of my six-foot-two, father. This morning, an eternal flame still burns inside me, and I memorialize the father, I did without, in my entire life.

Image of Jean Bicks owned by Bicks Books LLC

Seeking God, I know it is He that connects the bridges of all the days of our lives. My time on earth is limited, too, as I look at my own son and ask God to watch over him. Someday, maybe, he will understand the meaning of picking up the phone and giving his dad a ring. Our moments are too short to waste on regrets.

I listen to the busy world as it is getting underway, but I feel the warmth from the Son shining down from heaven. It is God who has saved me in all my lonely days. Many children grow up in a happy home, and I, too, wish I could claim the same.

The sun is now covered by a swirling storm system. Still, an eternal flame for my father will forever endure whatever weather arrives today. I pray God grants me the moment I can stand by my Father again someday. I’ll give him a hug, he so richly deserves, for making me the son I became in his honor.

It was once said, “You can’t miss something you never had.” I strongly disagree! You can’t imagine what it’s like to walk a mile carrying your own father’s shoes. Yet here I am… throughout my life, without him here, beside me.

“God, my Father, I so pray Your holy hands will guide me all the rest of my weary days alone. Never lead me astray. I pray that not another child will experience the pain I’ve suffered and endured by the loss of my Father. Lord, let me be an example of Your love to other children who has had a parent pass to be with You. Hear my thoughts, on this day of memorial, and tell my father I said hello.”

I love you, Pop. May you rest in peace till the day we will walk in God’s light together.

“40” Days

God opened a door this morning and sent me this simple message: “40 days.”  So, I explored the Bible for hardships endured based on the number forty. It astonished me to discover that in biblical history, forty is found 159 times across both the Old and New Testaments. It appears to be a set time for testing and trials in times of vulnerability and trouble.

Here are just a few of the examples where the number “40” played out in the Bible:

The ultimate test of faith occurred with Moses, Elijah, and Jesus. They fasted for forty days and gained new insight into God’s plans. Moses received the Ten Commandments, Elijah was told how to lead the people of Israel, and Jesus denied Satan’s temptations in the desert.

Three Hebrew kings – Saul, David, and Solomon each ruled for forty years, of which twenty of those years were prosperous. The other twenty years their lives were in ruin because the kings took more from their people than they ever returned – a test of dedication and prosperity.

Remember the story of David and Goliath? Goliath and the Philistines humiliated and fought the Israelites for forty days. Then God sent the shepherd, David, to defeat them and solidify Israel. This was a test of the Philistine’s humility.

Noah built an ark under God’s instruction. Because man’s sins were too great, He flooded the earth for forty days and nights, destroying every living thing on earth. It was a test of Noah’s faithfulness.

Image attributed to John Paul Stanley/YoPlace.com. Courtesy of FreeBibleImages.org

Days before they crucified Jesus, He prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem. Forty years later, the Roman Empire burned the city to the ground.

Jesus spent forty days on earth after His resurrection

Today, as you are reading this message, we are in Lent, the “40 days” before Easter. The Lenten season is a time to reflect on Jesus Christ and the meaning of His life – the most significant sacrificial event in the world for Christians. It also includes self-examination and fasting.

Though the Bible does not mention the custom of Lent, the practice of repentance and mourning in ashes is found in a few scriptures:

“So I turned to the LORD God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.”  Daniel 9:3

“Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the ornate robe she was wearing. She put her hands on her head and went away, weeping aloud as she went.”  2 Samuel 13:19

The Lord does not call us to search for secret meanings in the Bible, but interestingly, this figure plays a huge part in scriptures. Pagans trust numerology, but I have great faith that God used “40” for specific reasons. One such cause is that the word month was unknown, so “40 days” was just a general time period of about a month in biblical times.

So, I ponder this question: Are our prayers answered in about 40 days of a trial and testing? It’s a refreshing thought the Holy Spirit could replenish our spirits and faith every forty days. What an inspiring idea of hope! Our God is awesome!

To those who believe He does not answer prayers, begin practicing your faith on a deeper level. It just might take you “40 days,” but rest assured – God is waiting!


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The Inevitable Destiny of Mankind

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Last weekend the world suffered an incredible loss of talent. As Kobe Bryant’s helicopter lay smoldering at the foothills of the mountains, people gasped in disbelief and choked back tears. Social media and our television sets covered the headlines to report on the death of nine great lives. It will forever change the surviving families as the Lord anoints them with hope and peace.

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

1 Peter 5:10

A Facebook posting caught my attention about this tragedy, and it sparked me to write today’s message. The posting spoke of the horror Kobe must have felt in those last seconds when he recognized they would all die.

Death is the inevitable destiny of mankind. It’s not a pretty sight or an engaging act for those left behind to pick up the pieces. Most people never want to think about this unpleasant topic until faced with a funeral or a deadly illness. Yes, it’s scary to think only Jesus could conquer death as He rose from the dead. Our loved ones submit to their fate, and we are assured their body will never walk on this land again, unlike Jesus… yet the irony is incredibly sad.

I’m not sure of the other passenger’s backgrounds on the helicopter, but I know Kobe Bryant was an active Catholic. He attended mass and Holy Communion hours before the crash, at an Orange County church. Much of his tumultuous past was shaded in gray. Marital discord and loss of sponsorships plagued him for many years. But, just like of all of us, he had sins to conquer before the Lord. He knew only God could forgive him, so in 2003 he turned to the church for consolation and hope.

His love for the welfare of mankind surpassed all dignity. In December, he witnessed a horrible car crash in Newport Beach, California. Videos captured the moment he ran to the cars and pulled everyone to safety. He stayed by their side, speaking comforting words of love until paramedics arrived at the scene.

Kobe supported seven charities and fourteen causes. His dedication to children and their future was always at the front seat of his life. There is a lesson to be learned from Kobe about compassion and spreading God’s love!

Good practicing Christians should always be ready for their inevitable destiny. If I were a betting man, I’d place a wager Kobe prayed, like never before, in those last few seconds of his life. God heard his prayers because He, too, grieved the unjust execution of His Son, Jesus. He understands our pain. But, the Lord is rich in mercy, and He opened His arms to all those passengers on the helicopter.

Death is part of living – it is our fate set in stone by Adam and Eve. In my opinion, though, nothing is sadder than the death of an adult who never accepted Christ into their life before their mortality. As Jesus taught us, we are to confess our sins, pray for forgiveness, and never return to them. If we commit these deeds, we are assured of living with our Father in heaven. Christians should rejoice in knowing God has lovingly addressed our need for forgiveness. It clears the way for those we leave behind, and they can celebrate our eternal life with Christ.

Seek comfort in knowing God is the one in full control of our lives. He pre-planned our birth and death. Nothing and no one on earth can change our fate. It is futile to place blame for a person’s death because it was our destiny from the very beginning of life. Take solace in knowing physical death is just the start of our spiritual journey with Jesus Christ. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate a good Christian’s life!

May the surviving families of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, John, Keri, and Alyssa Altobelli, Payton and Sarah Chester, Christina Mauser, and pilot Ara Zobayan rest in peace in the arms of our Lord.


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The Carols Heralding

Many enjoy our words of faith and enduring inspiration; however, not all of my life is colorful as the fall. But, this is not about those I’ve turned over to God in prayer, but the joyful ending of God’s faithfulness. The holiday season is fast approaching, and I won’t focus on the ugly parts of life, but the joy of Thanksgiving.

Thanks be to God ~ the carols heralding!

Living in a state of humility and reverence, I find myself so thankful for answered prayers. The summer winds turned to the north, and the foliage of forests turned harvest colors. It’s time to lie down arms, repent, and comfort those we might forget this past year.

Thanks be to God ~ the carols heralding!

Yes, it’s time to rejoice! Give praise to our almighty Father for our many Thanksgiving blessings. Join hands to commemorate the peace and love we’ve found in each other. It’s not just the pilgrims landing anymore. Our sovereignty, through God, our Father, blessed the table we partake this past year.

Thanks be to God ~ the carols heralding!

I so often return to the words my wise dad spoke, “count your blessings, not your problems.” I welcome you to share this thought on Thanksgiving. Lay aside the differences, if only for one day, and thank God for your life. Count your many blessings and be thankful. We fill every day with memorable moments.

Thanks be to God ~ the carols heralding!

As for my family and I, this year’s Thanksgiving Day holds a significant meaning. It falls on the twenty-eighth, which was my Dad’s birthday, and I commemorate him in heaven. It was also my parent’s wedding anniversary. Married in 1958, I bet they picked this day so my dad would never forget their anniversary. Only one person knows their story for sure, and he’ll never tell… or will you, Uncle Bill?

Thanks be to God ~ the carols heralding!


Be sure to join us again on Sunday, December 1 for the ongoing “Everything Christmas Blogs”

Autumn in October

A silence resonates from heaven as Christ fills the voids deep inside my soul. I see the troubled storm clouds approaching, and they make not a sound. A busy world persists, running in circles, but I keep an eye on the sky, for only my God do I wait.

Standing at the edge of a great canyon where extinction begins, and life ever after looks like a desert floor, I harbor the love Christ sends me. Within His peace, windows open with new opportunities. The canyon is far and wide, and in times of adventure, it seems an impossible crossing. For some, it’s a quest, but for others, it’s a stepping stone to enter eternity and be with Him.

I bundle my love and faith and wear it as a code of honor. It’s autumn in October… seasons change, and life emerges with new horizons. The sun salutes the night watchman, and I bid farewell to another night. God, in his miraculous way, restrains the spiritually encountering distance. His quiet voice calls, and I must be patient. It’s autumn in October, and the hour grows nearer.

Seeking my own passage, I step lightly on the ledge of fate. The rocks are jagged and sharp, and death is just a slip away. But God watches over me with a promissory note I pledged to Him. The canyons divulge how minute I am as I step out where courage calls.

In the autumn of life, the Lord’s love is upon me. He gathers His herd of humanity for a voyage to explore the canyon walls of life. The fiery nights beacon October, and it quenches our thirst and hearts. Please, Father, turn the desert floor into meandering waters. The quests are over – some I failed, but some I conquered by Your blessings.

It’s autumn in October, and a new child is born. Goodbyes of another life are hard. Still, a new life is always on the horizon, for as one door closes, another is born again.

Another adventure, another voyage as the pride of time, sets my course upon another mission. Only God will bridge the heavens as I wait at the ledge of the canyon walls. I built my caves… now it’s time to surrender. The slope is deep, but it is in God’s hands to bestow the faith as He calls me home.

Love is filled with memories, in yet another autumn in October. The mystical canyon mourns, and the life which once prospered refrains in the setting sun. The shadows long for God’s calling… come home with Me when you’re ready.


Our blogs will resume next Sunday, November 10, when we celebrate Christmas with the “Everything Christmas Blogs.” Please be sure to join us!

Covenant of Faith

God set forth an impossible undertaking when He challenged my capabilities to be the best at something I never imagined possible. But then it occurred to me – how many others seem to be on a quest for Jesus? They do not realize the disillusionment of the deserts.

I often wonder how some people got started in life. What made them so great in their lifetime? For example, Nicodemus in the Book of John became a legend in the Jewish community as a ruler and teacher of Israel. Then there was an Indian lawyer called Ghandi, and a lady named Mother Teresa. Closer to home was a little boy called Billy, who took his Bible to school every day. He was such an avid reader, and he never gave up his desire to serve the Lord.

But many others are true to their heart, and they never waver from God’s ministry. In my personal life, it’s a profound feeling of a great success to serve the Almighty. It comes with abounding rewards and grace. Now I should ask, where is the Holy Spirit in your life?

It could be too easy to stop my ministry of writing. I’d load the kayaks in the back of my pickup truck and head to the lake. Not a bad idea, but God puts His trust in me to bring others to His kingdom. My reward for faithfulness? I am so blessed in every waking moment. I’m sure my words may confuse you, but my closest friends and family know my priority is to serve the Father.

Too many believers “toe the line” in their commitment to serve our Lord. They pray for answers but give up when there’s no immediate response. Sometimes we look for answers within this world only to discover God is already working on our healing.

If you want to see faith at work, then don’t look at a three-piece suit parading up on a stage, shaking a Bible at our Almighty. That’s blasphemy – no! Let’s examine the heartbreaking scenes of the Bahamas. A mother stood in a bathroom with her three children praying to God for help in the disastrous times of Dorian. Do you think God didn’t hear her heart? (See the video below) Prayer is the only ammunition to combat evil.

https://youtu.be/SOHeYhT0LPw

With the mighty force of just one young mother, who guarded her three children in a bathroom, she brought together the strength of nations, ready to oblige her mission. What a world we could live in if we understood the destitution of our mental thoughts! Hopefully, many received the message for it was a great example of God working through His people.

God challenges us to be successful in His glory if we stay in prayer and never give up hope. Do not render your patience. As we kayak in God’s calm waters, do not evade the fact the calm waters are His too. He wants everyone to be successful and filled with hope. We shall armor ourselves in the covenant of faith for God ordained it to be ours.

God bless you, my friends, and all the survivors of Hurricane Dorian.


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Things I Take for Granted

My front porch calls me at the time of the morning most people are asleep or perhaps at work. The mowed lawn is edged, and a gentle southern breeze talks to me. The flag flaps in the breeze, and I can hear cars on the busy highway, not far away, echoing through the trees. My flowers are all in full bloom…

… the things I take for granted.

I rest my legs on the glass table and lean back against the cool metal glider. Staring across the neighbor’s lawns, I listen to the birds as they feed their young. My American flag stands tall and proud at the corner of my property as I thank God for blessing me with this homestead. In the shadows of the roofline, the sun approaches with a refreshing breeze. What a beautiful morning to enjoy a warm cup of coffee!

… I thank God for the things I take for granted.

Happy thoughts ignite as I remember my wife and I sitting on two empty crates, in this exact spot, before we closed on this home. I smell the shrubbery I’ve planted since then; the fragrance is enticing for the little bluebirds who frolic amongst the branches.

… I count my blessings for the things I take for granted.

I should mention, of course, my health and personal life. I’m pushing seventy years old, but I feel as though I’m thirty-five years young. Nothing hurts or aches me much today. What a gift from God to be anointed with such good health! Then there’s ‘my love’ who rediscovered me after thirty-two years of searching – thank goodness for social media. Every day is a celebration as we wake in love, together at last. Nothing will ever separate that which God has united. After decades apart, our life is nothing short of pure, blissful matrimony.

… oh, the things I used to take for granted.

It is in peaceful times like this, I wonder if our future generations will ever know what real love feels like, or if they will find it one day. Will they be able to sit with their feet propped up on a rail and look out over their own lawn at the forest? We live in desperate times, so they allocate every penny to bills. I will remain in my own little world and pray for their success.

… I thank God for that which I have taken for granted.

In this hurried world of pressures and appointments, the greatest gift I take for granted is the one from God. He makes everything possible in life. Can I ever thank Him enough, for He so richly deserves it? What can I tell Him? What can I do to prove how much love I have for Him, my dear Lord, while I sit on my front porch, taking this glorious morning for granted?  I guess I’ll sit here a while longer to say,

“Thank you, God, for all I took for granted and the joys I rendered from Your blessings.”

What a wonderful Father in heaven we really serve!

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__________________

“Me, Myself, and I”

A hanging photograph reflects my life, or does it? The sun’s glare creates a haze over the frame of remembrance for it looks a little vague. Faintly in the distance, reflections of my life are reduced now to an eight by ten. Who am I? I think I am nothing but a picture sitting on a shelf. My story is the same as yours – a few captured moments of smiles. The rest of your breath is consumed in some kind of drama or struggle.

I see our moments posing for the camera, but no one knows what life is like when the cameras are not rolling, right? After a lot of thought, I’ve narrowed it down… life is like moving the forest. It’s difficult at best. We must start by asking for a helping hand.

So, today, I asked the Lord to make me strong and heal my conscious mind. I started the morning in prayer as there’s no one else who can help with my struggles, except “me, myself, and I.” But suddenly, I realized the “I” in this cliché is God, not me! Yes, God is always with each of us, even in the most obscure picture of life. The selfies we surround ourselves with will only become complete after we learn it’s God who brings us to the here and now.

Subsequently, I decided to investigate the old cliché a little further. Who is me in “me, myself, and I?” I see it explicitly – me is the body, Christ’s body!

Myself is the spirit of the Holy Ghost lying deep within our soul.

Image by catholic-catechism.com.ng

The I is our wonderful and loving God, ever present in all our circumstances.

God blesses us with life, hope, and truth and the power to go forward, moving the forest we call life. The kingdom of God was born within you! God bless!

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