Beard or Clean Shaven?

God’s Love Endures Forever

There is Hope

Love

Going Out to Eat

Please enjoy my reading of the poem “Going Out to Eat.” Going Out to Eat was written in May 2013 in Estes Park, Colorado, and originally published in vox poetica Magazine on January 27, 2014. Annmarie Lockhart is the founder of vox poetica. Nathan Gunter is the current managing editor of vox poetica. I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I did writing it.

Going Out to Eat

Sweetheart, do you have a preference for where we go out to eat?
…..No. Anywhere you want is ok with me, dear.
Great. There’s a McDonald’s. They have a senior coffee discount.
…..Oh, but look! There’s a Subway. I think that would be better.
OK. Subway it is. I’ll let you off at the door and then park the car.

Do you see anything on the menu you prefer?
…..No. Anything you want is OK with me, dear. We can share a foot-long sub.
Great. How about a foot-long Italian meatball sub?
…..Oh, but the Black Forest ham … I think that would be better.

OK. Make it a foot-long Black Forest ham on wheat bread, please.
…..Oh, get whatever you want, dear, but white bread …
Ma’am, can you change that to white bread, please. And American cheese.
…..Dear, pepper jack … I think that would be better.
OK, make it pepper jack cheese.

We’d like lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions, green peppers, banana peppers, jalapenos …
…..Anything you want, is OK with me, dear, but maybe not the tomatoes and pickles.
Ma’am, hold the tomatoes and pickles, please.
…..What if we skipped all the peppers and just got black olives?
OK. Make it black olives and mayonnaise instead of green peppers, banana peppers, jalapenos.
…..Maybe you should go with light mayo. Remember your waistline.
Yes, dear. Ma’am, we’ll take light mayo instead, please.

“Sir, do you want to make that a combo with chips and drink?”
Sure, that sounds–
…..Dear, we’ve got water and apple slices in the car. No need to splurge, but …
OK. Just the sub, not the combo.

That was a very good lunch.
…..Yes. Thank you for taking me out to eat. Aren’t you glad I let you have whatever you wanted?

And I recalled the words of the Apostle Paul,
…..Love is patient, love is kind.

Jimmie Aaron Kepler
Written in Estes Park, Colorado
May 2013

“Going Out to Eat” was originally published in vox poetic in print and electronic form. The electronic version can be accessed at: Kepler, Jimmie A. “Going Out to Eat,” vox poetica, January 27, 2014, Retrieved January 27, 2014, from http://voxpoetica.com/eat/.


When I read the first draft of this poem to my late wife, I was shocked at how visibly upset it made her.

“You’re making fun of me and telling the whole world!” she said.

I was taken aback by her comment.

“I don’t understand,” I said with honesty.

“That’s what I did at the Subway Restaurant at Amarillo,” she said. She didn’t smile. She only lowered her head.

It was apparent the memory was fresh on her mind.

“It’s a composite of so many of the older couples we see at restaurants. It seems the wife frequently tells the husband to order what he wants. As he orders, she tweaks the order to what she wanted,” I said.

Again, she did not smile. She rolled her eyes.

“It’s not about you,” I said attempting to reassure her.

“It’s about me. Everyone will know it’s about me.”

“But it isn’t about you. Even if it were, who do you know that reads poetry?”

“So you admit you wrote it about me.”

“Sweetie, it’s a composite of so many of the older couples we see at restaurants,” I said trying to reassure her.

“And you’re going to submit it for publication?”

“Only with your permission. I don’t want it to upset you.”

“So it’s my fault if you don’t submit the poem?”

This time I rolled my eyes.

She glared at me for a minute and then sat silent for another five minutes. Finally, she started laughing and said, “I guess if I’m honest wives do that to their husbands. Go ahead and submit your silly poem.  No one publishes or reads poetry these days.”

I submitted it. It was accepted for publication. And no, it wasn’t about Miss Benita. It really is a composite of so many of the older couples I’ve seen at restaurants. It seems the wife frequently tells the husband to order what he wants. As he orders, she tweaks the order to what she wanted and then hands him a coupon to use.

 

Need Strength? Need Peace of Mind?

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Becoming a Peacemaker

Matthew 5:9 English Standard Version (ESV), “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

Peacemaking Is Not

  • avoiding
  • appeasing

You Need To Be a Peacemaker

Did You Know Unresolved Conflict …

1. Blocks your fellowship with God.

1 John 4:20-21(ESV), “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.”

1 John 1:3-4 (ESV), “that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.”

2. Prevents your prayers being answered

1 Peter 3:7 (ESV), “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”

Matthew 5: 9 ESV, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God

3. Hinders your happiness.

Job 18:4 (ESV), “You who tear yourself in your anger, shall the earth be forsaken for you, or the rock be removed out of its place?”

Five Steps to Becoming a Peacemaker (using the acrostic P.E.A.C.E.)

P – Plan a peace conference

Matthew 5:23-24 (ESV), “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”

E – Empathize with their feelings

Philippians 2:4 (ESV), “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

A – Attack the problem not the person

Proverbs 15:1 (ESV), “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Ephesians 4:29 (ESV), “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

C – Cooperate as much as possible

Romans 12:18 (ESV), “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”

E – Emphasize reconciliation not resolution

2 Corinthians 5:18 (ESV), “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;”

Colossians 3:15 (ESV), “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.”

It has been said that the only time a woman will allow a man to have the last word is when it is an apology. – Unanimous

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Taking Care of Business

Taking Care of Business

We all have things in our lives of which we need to take care.  I’ve been reminded of this too many times in the last five years as I’ve had my mother, then father, and finally, my wife die.

Add to that several of my friends recently passed into eternity. They were in their mid-sixties. They died while sleeping. I have other dear friends who lost their spouse or have spouses with life-threatening illnesses. As a result, I’ve come to realize the brevity of life in a personal way.

Because of the limitation of time and briefness of life, we must take care of business. The time for doing it is now. I want to suggest five needs we all have that will help us take care of business now.

Five “Need to Dos” When Taking Care of Business 

1. Hold What Needs Holding

Philippians 2:16 English Standard Version (ESV), “holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.”

    • Hold on to your loved ones.
    • Hold on to your values.
    • Hold on to God’s principles and truths.

2. Mend What Needs Mending

Ephesians 4:32 (ESV), “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

Mend that broken relationship with family, a friend, or business associates.

    • Call them – take responsibility
    • Visit them – forgive them
    • Send a note or email – take the first step.

3. Walk What Needs Walking

Matthew 5:41 (ESV), “And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.”

If you are a writer:

    • Get started – stop dreaming and start writing. Write that novel.
    • Get off dead center – submit the rejected manuscript to another agent or editor.
    • Stop procrastinating – do the rewrites the editor wants.

4. Say What Needs Saying

Ephesians 4:29 (ESV), “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

    • Have you found that words hurt you? Your words can also hurt others.
    • Don’t let your words hurt others.
    • Be a good finder, not a nitpicker.

5. Pray What Needs Praying

1 John 1:9 (ESV), “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

John 16:24 (ESV), “Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”

Takeaway: Ask God what plans He has for you and then do them! 

Jeremiah 33:3 (ESV), “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.”


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Does God Have a Purpose for Your Problems?

Does God Have a Purpose for Your Problems?

If we are honest with ourselves, we would admit that many of the life problems we face we cause. 

Financial issues? 

  • Have you been following God’s principles?
    • Do you tithe?
    • Do you save money?
    • Do you avoid paying interest (buying on credit)?
    • Do you live within your income?

Work issues? 

  • Have you been following God’s principles?
    • Are you a good employee?
    • Are you investing in yourself by having and maintaining a current skill set?
    • Do you get to work on time and give a full day’s work?
    • Are you submitting to and following the authority of your boss?

Relationship issues? 

  • Have you been following God’s principles?
    • Are you a good friend?
    • Do you forgive others as God has forgiven you?

Writing Issues?

  • Maybe you’re a Christian writer like me. Are you having writing issues?
    • Are you praying for God to direct your writing?
    • Are you writing regularly?
    • Are you improving your writing skills through study and practice?

Well, you get the picture. 

Defeat or Develop?

Life is a series of problem-solving opportunities. The problems you face either defeat or develop you. It all depends on how you respond to them.

Ask God what He is trying to tell you from the problems you face. Romans 8:28 ESV says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

Five Ways God Wants To Use The Problems In Your Life

1. God Uses Problems to Direct You

  • Proverbs 20:30 ESV, “Blows that wound cleanse away evil; strokes make clean the innermost parts.”
  • Some problems are needed to get our atttention and get us back on the right track.

2. God Uses Problems To Inspect You

  • James 1:2-3 ESV, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”
  • Caution: Too much self-analysis can be dangerous. Don’t dwell on the why. The why may be as simple as you disobeyed God’s principles for life and now have the consequences of your choices and actions. Accept and admit when your problems are self-inflicted.

3. God Uses Problems To Correct You.

  • Psalm 119:71-72 ESV, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes. The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.”
  • Some lessons come through pain and failure.

4. God Uses Problems To Protect You

  • Genesis 50:20 ESV, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”
  • A problem can be your protection if it keeps you from something worse.

5. God Uses Problems To Perfect You

  • Romans 5:3-5 ESV, “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
  • A problem can lead you to God and eternal salvation through Jesus Christ.

Takeaways:

  1. Problems when responded to correctly are character builders.
  2. God is more interested in our character than our comfort.
  3. Your relationships with God and your character are the only things you will take with you to eternity. (see Romans 5:3-4)

God wants to make changes in your life where you can make a difference in the life of others and where you have an impact for Christ in the world.


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How To Be A Better Friend

How To Be A Better Friend

“As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man.” – Proverbs 27:19 ESV

Six Marks of Friendship

1 – I Must Be Committed

“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” – Proverbs 18:24 ESV

“Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” – 1 John 4:20

2 – I Must Be Considerate

“What is desired in a man is steadfast love, and a poor man is better than a liar.” – Proverbs 19:22 ESV

“Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do.” – Philippians 4:5 NLT

“Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.” – Proverbs 17:9

  • Friends don’t rub it in, they help rub it out!

3 – I Must Be Confidential

“Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.” – Proverbs 11:13

“Argue your case with your neighbor, And do not reveal the secret of another,” – Proverbs 25:9 ESV

4 – I Must Be Candid

“Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” – Proverbs 27:5-6

“Whoever gives an honest answer kisses the lips.” – Proverbs 24:26

  • Compliment in public, correct in private
  • Correct when they are up, not when they are down, depressed or despondent.
  • Never rebuke a friend unless you are open to allowing them to rebuke you.

5 – I Must Be Constructive

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” – Proverbs 27:17

“On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation.” – 1 Corinthians 14:3 ESV

  • Build up each other.
  • Be a cheering section for your friends, spouse, and children.

6 – I Must Be Considerate

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” – Proverbs  17:17 ESV

“Not given to wine, not combative but gentle and considerate, not quarrelsome but forbearing and peaceable, and not a lover of money [insatiable for wealth and ready to obtain it by questionable means].” – 1 Timothy 3:3 ESV

“So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God. “ – Romans 5:11 NLT


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