Series 18


What are You Collecting?

He was circling in on me like a glider coursing to a target. Engulfed in a magazine in a hangar-sized hospital waiting room, I was sitting in one of the hundred plus seats. Only two others were occupied.

A person who I had never met before, hovered near. I glanced up; he sat down in the seat right next to me.

Ernie immediately said, “I collect coins.” Grabbing his belt buckle, he reported: “This is the first silver dollar they made.” Still processing the oddity of our instant-conversation, I said: “That’s interesting.” An 1878 Morgan Silver Dollar was ornately integrated into the buckle.

He then pulled a coin in a sticky-note-sized protective holder from his pocket. Ernie said, “Have you ever seen an Indian Head Penny?” He retrieved coin after coin from his pockets. With each appearance, he told their story.

The coins were precious to Ernie. Price tags were still affixed to the cardboard packaging.

When the coin show ended, he told me some sad life-stories. My pondering mind shifted from coins, to illness, to what I could offer of spiritual value.

The book of Proverbs says: “She is more precious than rubies and all things you may desire cannot compare with her.” This is not referencing coins, but wisdom. Godly wisdom.

And like precious coins, godly wisdom can be examined for specific details. The Bible says: “The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.”

We need to collect godly wisdom. Someone like Ernie may just need a person to talk with. His wife had Alzheimer’s and his appointment was for blood work. Do you think Ernie might need some of that pure, peaceable, gentle advice from above?

Yes. . .everyone does.


Faith Journey

With a doubt-laden voice, he said, “Who’s going to read that?” My mind flinched, “You’re right.” The man who had baptized me a few years earlier, my spiritual mentor, was attempting to douse my burning desire to become a writer.

With no writing background it was hard not to agree. I had never felt a desire to write until six months prior when God whispered into my searching spirit a direction for my life.

“By faith Abraham obeyed . . . and went out, not knowing where he was going.” That’s me God; lead me.

I took a step of faith by enrolling in a writing class. A few months into the class the idea for a newspaper column emerged.

I carefully crafted a letter to Virginia Ransbottom, managing editor of the local newspaper. The whole time a war was being waged. Faith insisted, “I know this is God.” Fear ridiculed, “What a crazy idea; you’ll fail.”

I mailed the letter.

After an arduous wait of three week with no response, I made the dreaded call. “Ms. Ransbottom, this is Rick Leland . . .” It was obvious, she was very negative to my proposal. Fear punched me in the stomach. I kept talking. Relenting, she agreed to meet with me in person.

At the meeting, Joe the General Manager joined us. After a brief conversation, he said, “When can you start?” Adding, “Is twenty bucks a column O.K.?”  I felt like kissing Joe and dancing with Virginia. Mostly I felt like getting on my knees to thank God.

The Bible says, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Has God put a hope in your heart? Achieving it lies beyond the probable. “With God all things are possible.” What faith-step do you need to take?


Free Hot Sauce . . .

She needed answers. “You can’t trust doctors to tell you all the side effects,” Edna said. So where do you go when you really need to know? One of Edna’s always-go-to sources  is the internet. She laughs, “You can find everything.”

She floated from website to website landing at Edna wanted some compassionate, understanding answers about the medicine she was taking for menopause.

Perusing the site she noticed something that really spiked her interest. “Free Stuff.”  Edna loves free stuff. She thought: “Who cares about menopause when there are free things available?” 

Now Edna has her criteria for free stuff, “It has to be something I know I’ll use and have free shipping.” She ordered bath soap, face lotion and then spotted an offer for free hot sauce.

“Yes, hot sauce.” She clicked on which cybered her to the Habaneros of Texas website. Soon she was signed up to receive a free sample.

Then in the lower right hand corner she noticed another offer: “Free Gift.” Now she was getting near giddy with all these freebies—Free Stuff Heaven.

With a quick click, the words instantly popped up on her computer screen. “IF YOU DIED TODAY . . . DO YOU KNOW FOR SURE THAT YOU WOULD GO TO HEAVEN???”

The Bible states: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Edna responded: “Praise the Lord, I already have that free gift!”

Is your response the same? If not, there is a free gift waiting to set you free from sin so you can freely serve God as you await your free entry into Heaven.

Go to the Bible. Search. The Creator of the universe has a free gift just for you.


God Got My Attention

He believes the Bible. “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, let them pray over him…the prayer of faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up.”

I was a little nervous, intimidated even. The article I was working on had led me to Nigel Mumford, former Marine Commando, who is now a Minister of Healing. “What is it that you do Nigel?” I asked. “I listen, love and pray for those who come seeking the healing ministry of Jesus Christ.”

Hands trained for combat are now hands of healing.  Fascinated with the complex life of this soft-spoken man of faith, I pondered the contrasts. Nigel smiles, “Yeah, I was tough, now I cry easily.”

Life, death; Nigel is prepared for all situations with the “prayer of faith.” Gazing heavenward, Minister Mumford prays; his hands are holding a baby struggling for life. Faith. “The Lord will raise him up.”

The basis for his now unshakable belief in healing prayer? Positive results-- “I owned a picture framing shop.” Customer-chats would often turn to the seriousness of illnesses. Nigel offered the prayer of faith.  “It absolutely freaked me out...God got my attention.”

Nigel is in combat once more, willingly fighting a battle each day for the health and life of friends or strangers. Intrigued, I asked how his body and soul stay healthy. He didn’t take long to answer, “I do three things: pray, pray, pray…very deeply.”

Nigel said, “Sometimes in dealing with illness, the yuck of life, a quick prayer of faith is best--God, Help.”

Jesus said, “I have come that you may have life and have it more abundantly.” Lacking the fullness of Jesus’ promise? In a battle with sickness?

Believe the Bible. Pray the prayer of faith. 


What Gang are You In?

His answer kind of made sense; seemed fairly logical.

Three Junior High students were riding in my van. I am not sure why Brandon asked the question: “Do you know how gangs started?” I filtered the question to mean gangs in the United States: “No I don’t.”

I want to know the truth. Proverbs, the wisdom book of the Bible, says, “Buy truth, and do not sell it. Get wisdom and instruction and understanding.” There is a price to pay for obtaining truth along with wisdom, instruction and understanding. It will cost some time searching for truth; researching the facts.

I listened, allowing Brandon to tell me what he knew about the history of gangs. He answered, “The Mafia started them.”

This sort of makes sense; seems reasonably logical.

With no better explanation, I asked, “So where did you find that out?” Brandon replied, “Some things you just figure out on your own.” Brandon is smart, but now my brain started questioning his answer.

Later, through reading and studying information written by gang experts, I discovered the truth. I spent some time; I bought some truth.

So what did I discover? Brandon was wrong.

Several days later some of the same Junior High students gathered at a Bible study. The evening’s lesson? The Truth. First we talked about the history of gangs. This engaged their attention as I told them my discoveries.

Realistically, knowing gang history has extremely limited value. What really matters is grasping the words of Jesus. “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” He’s talking about the eternal truths of God. Life savers. Life changers.

Is there anyone so free of life-obstacles that God’s truth is worthless?

God’s truth is priceless. Spend your life in its pursuit.