More observations on working out

This week I was able to get to the gym four days. When I work out I always take my IPod and either listen to my workout mixes (or other music), preachers or NPR’s Wait, Wait Do’t Tell Me (don’t make comments about NPR, FoxNews has nothing nearly as funny with the possible exception of Glen Beck who my Fox friends say is not suppose to be funny). After this week I have made the following discoveries:

1)      I burn the most calories listening to my workout mixes

2)      I burn the second most listening to Steve Brown etc.

3)      I burn the least listening to Wait, Wait largely because I occasionally have to stop the elliptical machine or the weights because I am laughing too hard (yea, Steve I laugh at you and the Merry Monk sometimes)

4)      Dizzy Up the Girl by the Goo Goo Dolls is a pretty good album for an entire workout.

… until an opportune time.

This morning I was reading in Luke chapter 4 about the temptations of Jesus. At the very end it says: “And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time” (Luk 4:13 ESV). For some reason this verse really stood out to me. There are no other places in the gospels where it tells us that the devil tempted Jesus but it is clear from this passage that the devil did and that he did it at “an opportune time”. Then I began to think, “If Jesus, the Son of God, the God-man without a sinful nature had ‘opportune times’ how much more do I have them!

I began to think about the “opportune times” in my life, in my daily experiences when the devil says: “Boy here is an opening”! I decided that the ones for me are at least the following:

  1. When I am tired.
  2. When I have great (or small) doubts about the future and don’t really believe that my Father really has my future and everyone’s future in his hands.
  3. When I am singing one of my favorite Warren Zevon songs to myself – Poor, Poor Pitiful Me – and believe that all those around me should be singing it as well with a slight change of words Poor, Poor Pitiful Lee – (the change of words really does fit, makes for a great change to me).
  4. When I believe myself (I almost used the word feel but I think that believe is more correct expression of my heart) to be spiritually superior to someone I am in conflict with.
  5. When I am so concerned with being “right”.
  6. When I lose sight of the reality of my sinful heart.
  7. When I lose sight of the beauty of the gospel and God’s love for sinners like me

But I also find that there are things I can do or “spiritual places” I can go that seem to minimize my enemy’s opportune moments. What are they?:

  1. When I remember 1Timothy 1:15: “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost”. When I remember this verse I remember that Paul says “I am the foremost” not that “I was the foremost”. My sinful nature clings to me so I need to daily cling to Jesus.
  2. When I remember 2 Corinthians 12:10: “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong”. This is so counterintuitive to our nature and particularly to our age. Our age glories in strength. Our are glories in independence. God says glory in weakness. Glory in dependence.
  3. When I stop and think what a great gift my wife truly is for me. Again counterintuitive to our age. Men think that they can make it alone! They think that they are self-sufficient. Take a cruise on the Mediterranean or the Caribbean and tell me how many widows you discover and how many widowers. ‘Nuf said.
  4. And for a musical pause I find the devil flees when I turn up my stereo at home or especially turn up my stereo loud in the car and roll down the windows and play either When Love Comes to Town (by U2)or Creed (by Rich Mullins) and God reminds me “I did not make it, no it is making me”. Yes, I did not make Him, no He is making me.
  5. When I stop to think how glorious reality of the gospel. How the gospel is not the door through which I enter the kingdom of God but rather the floor on which I daily stand, on which I daily put my spiritual weight. Back in 2000 I was speaking to a group of young people in Odessa, Ukraine. Most of them were from the local church. I was talking about this very thing, the fact that if after we become Christians we rely on our own works and abilities it is like walking around in a dark house with a floor that has huge holes in it, holes that will cause us to plummet to the basement if we step into one of them. If, however, the gospel is the floor, the foundation of our house we can walk around, even when it appears that we are in spiritual darkness and we will fear no holes. In fact we can jump up and down and the floor will hold because it is solid, it is the gospel, it is the finished work of Christ. Earlier in the day I had shared this illustration with a group of American and Ukrainian college age student who were part of the missionary group I had gone over to teach. My translator for that evening’s talk was one of those Ukrainian young people by the name of Peter. He had become so excited about the certainty of the gospel during my talk that he asked to be my translator for that evening’s talk. I can still remember Peter jumping up and down, up and down physically illustrating my point that no matter how much trial we put on the gospel it could bear our weight, it could bear our struggles. So, at times my memory of Peter is one of those places I can go where the devil has little chance of shaking me.

Opportune times, the devil has his share but our Father has even more and as we rest in him and in his glorious gospel we find that his opportune times out number our enemy’s opportune times.

An Architect’s Scale (or should I preach or sell shoes)

A couple of weeks ago I bought an architect’s scale. Some of you don’t what that is. I wasn’t even sure they made them anymore. I had used them in college and my first few years after college as I worked as an engineer but I thought they may have gone the way of the slide rule and the four-function calculator but I was mistaken. They still make architect’s scales. They are sort of like a triangular shaped ruler that is set up in various drawing scales: 1/4 inch equals 1 foot; 1/8 inch equals 1 foot, 3/32 inch equals 1 foot. They are used for drawing architect’s drawings of buildings to various scales. Here is what one looks like

You may wonder what a preacher needs with an architect’s scale. Well that is somewhat the point. Back in August I resigned my position as pastor at Trinity Presbyterian Church and began to look for work in a place outside the church. I did not come to a point in my life where I decide that I no longer wanted to serve as a pastor. Circumstances (massaged by the sovereignty of my heavenly Father) brought about the situation that I was no longer a pastor.

At this point because of so many things having to do with the pastorate in general and my calling to a specific church in particular called me to think about my future as a pastor. I decided that at least for the time being I would look for work in what many now call “the marketplace”. They give it this name to note that the calling to the pastorate is no less glorious than the call to the marketplace, the place of commerce and sales where a large number of Christian men and women find themselves living every day.

Since my background (it what seems like another life now!) was in engineering I began to talk with a group of men, who were my friends, who had started a commercial real estate service company (Insight CRE Services and Insight 360 Solutions – both have pages on Facebook – great companies, great group of men and women working there) and I began to learn again how to do what was called in my high school and college days as “mechanical drawing”. When I first started all of this was done at a large desk with what was called a T-square, triangles and architect’s and engineer’s scales. Well now it is all done on computers, on laptops!

When I worked as an engineer for Duke Power Company, they were doing this on computer but they were computers that took up whole rooms and you had to run your drawing program over night when no other computer work was being done. My! How things change. The computers looked something like this

So how did I “feel” when making this purchase (I needed to measure actual physical drawings and convert them to computer drawings) that marked a major change in my life?

I am not saying that at this point in my life I have decided that I will no longer serve Christ’s kingdom as a pastor-teacher. I have come to realized in the past few weeks and months that being a pastor is not simply something that I simply decided to do at some point in time many years ago but have come to understand that being a pastor-teacher is something that God called me to be and has now truly become part of who I truly am.

But at this point in my life that does not appear to be an option for me. So I have set sail into this new/old area of my life. I found it thrilling! Long ago I came to understand that there was no sacred/secular dichotomy in life. God was equally served with glory and honor by the house painter called to be a house painter as He was by a pastor called to be a pastor.

After the session at Trinity asked me to consider resigning, they gave me a month long sabbatical to pray about my calling and to meet with various friends and mentors to help me understand my calling. Part of that sabbatical took me and Debbie to St. Louis to spend time with friends Matt and Roberta Creamer. While there I had time to talk with Brian Chapell, president of Covenant Seminary. He reminded me of something his predecessor and my friend Paul Kooistra often said: “If God has called you to sell shoes, that is what you should do”.  At this point I don’t know if God is now calling me to be a pastor or to work at commercial real estate services (my version of selling shoes) but I know that I can trust his leadings.

Selling shoes, according to Paul Kooistra, a God-honoring calling

So for now I am learning the computer program called AutoCAD. I am learning how to draw what I used to call “blueprints” and I am learning to create 360 degree internet tours of real estate properties and I am learning to rest in God’s arms. Debbie and I are not sure where we will be this time next year but we are certain, that no matter the circumstances our Father will be with us and our Older Brother will be praying for us.

When Joy Sneaks Up on You

Some times joy just sneaks up on you. You find joy in the least likely places. Today it was an email from Southwest Air letting me know that on April 2 Bethany Grace Ferguson’s flight would be arriving in Nashville. Great joy. Turns a day following a stressful night into a wonderful day what Debbie and I now call a Dee Dah Day after reading John Ortburg’s The Life You Always Wanted (again as I have said before don’t let the title fool you not the kind of self-fulfillment that preacher in Texas would be talking about).

As many of my blog followers know my daughter Bethany is a missionary. Started off as a short term missionary in Uganda teaching the children of missionaries. I visited her there in 2005 and came to understand why she loves Africa. Many people who go once feel like they simply must go back. At least one more trip to Africa is on my bucket list.

Me and Bethany at the Equator in Uganda - 2005

Then she returned to the States to get a degree in Biblical counseling and then heard God’s call to return to Africa with a new team with World Harvest in Southern Sudan to help with education, counseling, pastoral training, fresh water production, you name it is in her “job description”.

Lots of people have romantic ideas about missionaries: above average saints, people who have no desire for the nice pleasures of this life, people called to sacrifice. I have known many missionaries over the past 30 years and most of them are more like me and you than you would imagine. My daughter for examples loves manicures, pedicures, fine coffee, exotic restaurants and massages (the very first massage I hand was one Bethany bought for me as a gift at an African safari park – but that is another story). She is a missionary, however, because that is what God has called her to.

Bethany enjoying fine coffee in Philadelphia - her adopted home town

She loves the people of Southern Sudan, though she weeps at their struggles, poverty and suffering. This is what God has fitted her for. As for me I would much rather have a daughter who stayed in the States, got married, presented me with grandchildren but she is first and foremost God’s daughter and He loves her much more than I do.

So now she live a live without Starbucks, pedicures and even indoor plumbing but this is what she has been prepared for all her life. So we call her via internet calling cards and try occasionally to Skype her just so we can see her face but that doesn’t seem to work most of the time.

Students in Mundri

So we talk and wait until she can get home. So today we heard  that she will touch down on April 2 and we (me and Debbie) float with joy. Joy that we have not known in many days. Though we know it is only for a short time. While she is here she will: go to Asia to share the gospel to Christians there who struggle in a hostile environment  (if you wonder about Christians needing to hear the gospel make sure you check out the mission she serves with – World Harvest Mission – www.whm.org), take part in the wedding of her former housemate from Sudan and help a friend in Philadelphia move. We look forward with great delight to the days we will have with her.

There are several “divine ironies” to this whole situation with our daughter. One is that the mission she serves with is one that Debbie and I have been involved with for almost 20 years. And on top of that one of my friends from seminary, Josiah Bancroft, has rejoined the mission there and now provides spiritual support for the missionaries (like Bethany) who serve with World Harvest. I met Josiah the very first day I started classes at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, MS in 1977 and now 30+ years later, he is ministering side by side with my daughter.

Our latest picture of Bethany with our good friend, Josiah.

So Debbie and I look forward to great longing to seeing our daughter. We know that the visit will not be as long as we would like but we know that our daughter is serving on the front lines of God’s kingdom and she delights in that as much as she does in lattes and running along the Schuylkill.

Workout Play List 3

This may be my shortest blog ever but after much scientific research I have determined that I burn up far more calories when I work out to the Rolling Stones, the Boss, Creedence or any of my work out play lists than I use when I work out to preachers like these:

That would be Steve Brown, Sinclair Ferguson, Mark Driscoll, Tim Keller and wait a minute that last guy is Miles, he might be good for a few extra calories burned over Keller.

Do not go gentle into that good night …

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

So Dylan Thomas, the Welch poet, wrote and the older I become as a Christian (both chronologically and spiritually I believe) the more I agree with him.

This afternoon as I worked on my skills in AutoCAD I find tear flowing down my cheeks over the death of someone I have never met. Aly West, the sister of mine and Debbie’s friend Erika Chambers, passed away this afternoon after a heroic battle with cancer. Erika was a student at MTSU when we first moved to Murfreesboro and attended Trinity. Like many at Trinity in those days, Erika was looking to be a recording artist. She has had some success at that but not as much as Debbie and I think she should! She has a wonderful voice and Debbie and I always enjoyed listening to her.

One of Erika's CDs

We have kept up over the years through some of her appearances but mostly on Facebook and My Space. But then we met up with her about a year ago to attend  a Sara Groves concert together.  Though we had not seen each other in several years, it was a wonderful reunion (and Sara Groves was wonderful as well!). Then or soon after Erika let us know that her sister Aly had cancer. This is how Erika describes Aly:

Aly West is a vibrant, 26-year old who exudes creativity like few people can imagine. A costume designer, seamstress, graphic artist and photographer, there isn’t much this girl can’t tackle.

Erika and Aly and her family are committed Christians. They know that God is in charge of our world and that he is a loving and caring Father but Aly’s family, along with Aly’s husband Terry, they were not going to let Aly “go gentle into that good night” . They were going to fight. In Erika’s words “fight like girls”. They did this because as Christians they knew that there is just something wrong with cancer, there is just something wrong with death. So Erika started a Facebook group, “Team Aly”, to enlist prayer support for Aly and

her family and Debbie and I joined in for this wonderful young woman who was facing such a battle. It proved to be, however, a battle that after a lot of “fighting like a girl”, cancer won. Aly died this afternoon and as I said I have been weeping off and on ever since Erika let us know.

But that does not mean that Aly, Erika, their parents and Aly’s husband Terry lost because they know the truth that though death may have won this battle. Jesus has won the war! This is how Erika described that moment when Aly left this world to enter another one:

Our precious girl was wrapped in the arms of Jesus and flown to heaven. .. surrounded by family, prayer and praise. No more pain. She is rejoicing with the Lord.

When it was time to “fight like a girl” they fought. When it was time to embrace Jesus, they did just that. Debbie and I are thankful to be able to be part of this team. I think that Aly, Erika and the rest fought “like girls” because they know that this is not the way it is suppose to be. Death was not in our Father’s original plans, it is the plan of the enemy of our souls. Many Christians look at I Corinthians 15 as if death was no longer and enemy, as if everything was alright. But here is what God tells us in that passage:

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1Co 15:1 NIV)

Paul says that when our resurrection occurs, when Jesus returns then we can yell at death: “Where is your victory? Where is your sting”? Until then death does sting. It separates us from those we love. Jesus understood this when he wept at the tomb of Lazarus. He is a “man of sorrow and acquainted with grief”. But Paul does tell in just a few verses later “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ”. (1Co 15:1 NIV)

John Donne got it right, Paul Simon was wrong “No man is an island”. Some time ago I posted that Donne’s word in this poem become more and more real to me the older I get: “any man’s (or in this case woman’s) death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind”. Donne, of course, writing as a metaphysical poet does not mean this in what many would consider a “humanist perspective” (though Christians should be the true “humanists”) but as a Christian who know that all men and women are created in the image of God and therefore are spiritually linked to him.

So I am diminished by Aly’s death. I am diminished as I think of Terry married only 4 years and becoming a widower. I am diminished as I think of Aly’s parents facing the future after the death of a daughter. I am diminished as I think of Erika’s loss of her beloved sister but all of this brings a renewed opportunity to renew my hatred for death and give me renewed hope in the promise of our own resurrection. God did not design us for a “disembodied” existence! He has promise bodies that will never out! He has promised us a world with “Not one little grave, in all that fair land”. Many will laugh at this, many may mock but it is the promise of our Father and our Older Brother has gone to the “undiscovered country” and come back! He did this to ensure that death and the devil do not win in the end. Death is not the final word!Maybe, just maybe in that new heaven and new earth we will all be able to wear some of Aly’s designer creations and hear Erika sing and enjoy all these things with our glorious Older Brother.

As I finish this blog entry an Emmylou Harris and Ricky Scaggs duet of “Green Pastures” has started pouring out of my Ipod. Sometimes God’s timing is uncanny.

So join me in praying for Terry and Erika and her parents. Pray that our Father will comfort those who are afflicted and that they my grieve but not as those who have no hope. They have the greatest of hopes, the gospel, that promises not only glory in this life but also in the life to come.

Remember also the some other words of John Donne

DEATH be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so,
For, those, whom thou think’st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me…
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.

(Since I never met Aly, I did not feel free to post pictures of her here but if you want to find out more about this wonderful woman go to these places on Facebook: Aly West, Aly West Custom Designer and Team Aly).


 

Workout Playlist 2

No, you did not miss Workout Playlist 1, maybe I will post that sometime but thought I would post the songs on my current workout playlist.

This is how I look as I start

The songs reflect both my age and (I hope) my enjoyment of current music.

  1. Werewolves of London – Warren Zevon
  2. I’m A Man – Spencer Davis Group
  3. Kick Drum Heart – Avett Brothers
  4. Saturday in the Park – Chicago
  5. Handle with Care – Traveling Wilburys
  6. Gloria – Van Morrison
  7. Lawyers, Guns and Money – Warren Zevon
  8. Midnight Rider – Allman Brothers
  9. Keep Your Hands to Yourself – Georgia Satellites
  10. The Shores of Jordan – Iris DeMent
  11. 25 or 6 to 4 – Chicago
  12. Here in Angola – Al Stewart
  13. Whenever God Shines His Light – Van Morrison
  14. Longing in Their Hearts – Bonnie Raitt
  15. People See Through You – Bruce Cockburn
  16. Princess Olivia – Al Stewart
  17. The Wish – Bruce Springsteen
  18. One Way Out – Allman Brothers
  19. Viva La Vida – Coldplay
  20. Another One Bites the Dust – Queen

This is how I feel when I get to Keep Your Hands to Yourself

I was basically looking for something that would have a quick enough beat to keep me in the cardiozone. Good timing on Whenever God Shines His Light, comes right at minute 40 where I enter my cool down for my 40 minutes on the elliptical and Cockburn’s People See Through chimes in right as I do my weights.

Of course needed music that I like as well as being good for the pace of my exercise. Punctuated by a couple of “inspirational” songs – Iris DeMent’s Shores of Jordan (because at this point of my workout I feel like I just may be getting ready to cross the Jordan!) and Van’s God Shines His Light. Start off with Werewolves to get going on a fast pace (Workout Playlist 1 starts with Start Me Up by the Stones).

You can probably figure out why I finish with one of Queen’s best known songs.

Debbie took this picture of me after my workout today

Cajun food by the side of the road

In 1976, while working for Duke Power Company (now Duke Energy) I attended a conference for the nuclear power industry held in New Orleans. It was my first exposure to the city and to Cajun food. I immediately fell in love with the city and as far as the food went … it was love at first bite. As far as I know I had never had Cajun food before but immediately I took to it. Ever since then I have loved the food and loved cooking it.

Years later, in the early 90s, my family and I moved back to Columbia, SC to accept the call of Covenant Presbyterian Church to be their pastor. Around the same time Richard Burguet moved there too to pastor a church. Even though Richard had been in seminary together, we did not know each other all that well.

Richard and Anne, the four of us eating, of course.

Once we met up in Columbia, however, it was like twin brothers of different mothers being reunited. No where was this more true than in the foods we both loved.  Many time we would go into a brand new restaurant and sit down and get ready to order and one would look at the other and say: “What are you going to order”? The other would reply, “You first” and 9 times out of 10 we were planning on ordering the same things.

And no where was there a cuisine we each loved more than Cajun. We both loved (and love to cook) Cajun food: jambalaya, etouffee, gumbo (starting with a good roux of course). Learning to make it and knowing what it is suppose to taste like also made us good (or bad depending on how you look at it) critics. At one point our wonderful wives (Debbie and Anne) almost started refusing to go out to eat with us, at least when we went to get Cajun. A new place opened in Columbia that had the name New Orleans in it and Richard and I could not wait to go.  Well we got there and Richard said: “What are you going to order?” and I said “You first” and simultaneously we both said “the jambalaya”

Now one thing about Cajun food is that usually it does not “plate well” as they say these days. There is not a lot of color, gumbos are dark browns, etouffes light to dark brown and jambalaya has green peppers and tomatoes in it but often they are cooked so long that much of the color blends. This is a pretty good example of what it is suppose to look like:

On this occasion, however, the “chef”, apparently was more concerned about “plating” than “tasting”. The waiter came back with our orders and put something in front of Richard and me that had a sort brown hue to the rice, various red, green and yellow bell peppers (uncooked) on top of the dish and small bits of sausage and shrimp. As soon as it was put before us Richard and I said in unison “I ordered the jambalaya”. The waiter looked at us with a quizzical expression: “That is jambalaya”. To which in unison we both replied “No it isn’t”. About that time our wive threatened to leave (fortunately we had come in one car) if we did not behave. So we ate our non-jambalaya dish and thought to ourselves: “we should have stayed home and made our own.”

Don’t even ask me about the time Richard and I were scoping out a restaurant in Panama City and argued with a server (waiter for those of you over 45) that the crawfish were not fresh unless there were some running around on the floor of the kitchen.

Well I guess you can figure it out. I love Cajun food. Whenever I see a sign that says Cajun food, Louisiana kitchen or the like I am sure to turn in. I would say that 9 out of 10 times I am disappointed. I will say, however, that since we have been in Murfreesboro there have been two Cajun restaurants that really knew their stuff: Cajun Corner which was only open for a short time and place that was run by a Cajun family of long standing that was operating when we first moved here almost 9 years ago.

All this to say that Debbie and I were recently pleasantly surprised by a trip to a Cajun restaurant in Georgia. We had celebrated Christmas in Murfreesboro and were heading to South Carolina to celebrate the New Year with our families. We were traveling south of Chattanooga toward Atlanta when we saw one of those interstate “food” signs that tell you what restaurants are available at that exit. Well just as we were speeding past the sign (which as you know usually only has fast food joints on them) I saw out of the corner of my eye “Louisiana Kitchen” there was a name attached to it but I just could not make it out viewing it as a big eighteen wheeler was passing.

Me at Henry's Cajun Grill

Debbie and I had been looking for a place to eat and as soon as I saw the sign I said “Here is where we are eating”. She said “Where?” I told her the sign said Louisiana Grill and she said ok. One of the great things about being married to someone you really love and who really loves you is that you learn to not only put up with their peccadilloes but you make them your own (sometimes anyway). She said she was game so we pulled off the exit for Acworth, Georgia, All-American City

We had never heard of Acworth, much less visited it. As we got off the interstate we were basically left to our own because there were no more signs to lead us on our quest. So Debbie pulled out her phone, Googled Louisiana Kitchen Acworth and we found out that the name was Henry’s. She put in the address to the GPS function on her phone and after leading us around Dan’s barn and though a couple of residential neighborhoods, we finally found downtown Acworth and it almost took our breath away. It is stunningly beautiful. A somewhat typical small Southern town that perhaps was being rebuilt by money from people worked in Atlanta. It was one of those places that a Southern bell would simply say “Why this place is just darlin’, just darlin'”

This gave us hope for Henry’s, though I still knew my track record for Cajun places. We found Henry’s and to put it mildly it was amazing, just amazing. We did not order much. We had a trip ahead of us and I didn’t want to fall asleep and having recently lost my job so we were were being thrifty. So Debbie ordered a shrimp po’boy and I ordered an oyster po’boy. You might wonder how you could tell how good a Cajun place was by a po’boy but I will just say that there are remoulade sauces and there are remoulade sauces there clearly had the latter. But I ordered one other item. I order a bowl of crawfish etoufee’. My, my what can I say. I make a pretty good etoufee’ and I have eaten it in I don’t know how many place but this was without a doubt the best I had ever had.

Debbie and me leaving Henry's very satisfied

As I ate it I noticed a taste in it that I had never tasted in etoufee’ before. Now as I cook I just have to try to figure this stuff out to make my own better the next time. Well I could tell by the taste that it was an ingredient, not just a spice or an herb but just couldn’t put my finger on it. Well, when we got to SC I found Henry’s place on the internet got, Chef Henry’s email address and wrote him to ask about the “secret ingredient” and just about as soon as I sent the email it came to me I said “I bet it was …”. I about forgot about the email but about a week later I got an email back from Chef Henry and he very kindly shared the “secret ingredient” with me and it turned out that I nailed it! If you want to know I suggest you go buy a bowl and see if you can figure it out for yourself.

The Place to Eat

So if you love Cajun food or have had a desire to see what the real thing tastes like I could not recommend in any higher way that you get up to Acworth and go to Henry’s. You will not be disappointed.

The Chef, Chef Henry

In fact I would say that if you live in Atlanta this place is clearly worth the drive (think they won an award sounding something like that) or if you live in Chattanooga. Just about anywhere in North Georgia or Southeast Tennessee you had better make the trip.

 

Hey guys, one last thing this is Henry’s place on the internet:

http://www.chefhenrys.com/henrys/

 

Everybody’s got a heavy heart …

Changing one word of one of Springsteen’s best know songs still produces a true statement. Everyone knows what it is like to have a heavy heart. Some folks have them seldom, sometimes have them more often but we all know the way that sadness, loss, stress can produce a heavy heart.

Often a problem arises when someone with a heavy heart shares with a friend or family member who does not have a heavy heart the reality of their spiritual condition. For many of us (especially if you are a “fix-it” kind of person like me) when that happens we have one goal in mind: to bring relief. We can do this by any number of ways that look like they will help but often reveal our own ignorance of the both of our friends condition, the nature of the human heart and perhaps the greatest misunderstanding of our own heart.

It is interesting that the only verse of the Bible that mentions a heavy heart is Proverbs 25:20 and this is what God says:

Whoever sings songs to a heavy heart is like one who takes off a garment on a cold day,   and like vinegar on soda.

We may try and tell a person: come on cheer up, everything will work out in the end; don’t forget, God is in control! We might even be bold enough to quote Bible verses for our heavy hearted friends: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose”. (Rom 8:28 ESV) Often when we do this it is with the best motive, love but what we often don’t realize is that it often does not help, in fact God says it is often counterproductive.

So what should we do? Well today I got a note from a friend saying she had a heavy heart. She lives at a distance so there was no way for me and Debbie to go and visit so I would her I would uphold her in prayer. In a real sense that is not “the only thing I can do” it is likely at a distance the most important. If they live close by perhaps the best we can do is to express our love in concrete ways (prepare meals, spend time, etc) and perhaps just to be willing to cry with those who mourn.

Heavy hearts are difficult things. We want to “lighten” them as quickly as possible but it has been my experience that some of the times that I learn the most of what it means to know Jesus have been those times when I have a heavy heart. I know that Jesus himself knew what it is like to have a heavy heart –  “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour”(Joh 12:27 NIV) and he knew that his Father would deliver him from his heavy heart at the right time.