Tag Archives: faith

FELT THE PRESENCE OF GOD

There are some moments in life that are special—so special that you feel compelled to share them with others. Such is the case when I recently attended my grandson’s high school baseball game a few nights ago.

During the game, I happened to look behind the bleachers and witnessed this breathtaking view of the sky with ‘Ole Glory’ waving in the foreground.

God’s painted canvas was so majestic that I felt His presence all around me. I was blessed to have had this experience and hope you feel the same way as you look at the photo.

I stood at attention and saluted the moment—made me proud to have served this great country! The words of the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag danced in my mind.

“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

May God’s blessings be upon all who read this post.

Tom Tatum – Author – 2018

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WHAT DO YOU SEE?

What do you see in your mind’s eye when you pray or talk to yourself during difficult or good times in your life? I bet you see something, even if it’s total darkness—you still see something, but likely do it without thinking about what you see.

I know it’s a crazy question? In reality, it’s an appropriate question for everyone, regardless of their spiritual preferences or lack thereof. Whether you pray and believe in a power greater than yourself, don’t pray because you believe you possess superior intellect over all things, or fall somewhere between the two is a choice you have the right to make. Whatever your situation, you probably do talk to or pray to “something” when facing difficult situations in your life—it’s called thinking. I’m not trying to change or challenge your beliefs at all. I simply want you to consider all possibilities…

It’s probably a question you have never been asked or even considered before now. You’re not alone because most people haven’t. In fact, I may be one of few people on earth asking the question.

Okay, so exactly why am I asking such a question? Well, it’s simple—I enjoy thinking outside-the-box. Obviously, there is no right or wrong answer, so don’t be concerned. There will not be a pass-fail test given at the end of this post. I just want you to think about the question based on your personal situation, so please keep reading. It will only take a few minutes, and I promise it will not harm or judge you in any way.

What do you see…,” is a question I ask when I speak to groups. I get some interesting facial expressions and responses cover a broad spectrum ranging from total darkness to detailed images. All answers are interesting, but one that does give me pause is, “I don’t waste time praying to a fictitious character.” I acknowledge the response, but I never push my personal beliefs on anyone. I simply inform, observe, and recognize that everyone has the right to choose how they cope with life. However, that particular response is a suitable topic for a whole different discussion.

Let’s get back to the point of this post. When the shock of my question wears off, the initial responses are typically, “I’ve never thought about it before,” or “I don’t see anything.” When folks think about it for a moment, the answers tend to become a bit more descriptive. To be fair, it is somewhat of an unusual question and not likely to come up in general conversations with friends. Therefore, I invite you to think about the question in private for a few moments. You may be surprised by what you actually do/don’t see or you may start visualizing something in the future. Either way, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

When I started thinking about the storyline for my first novel, I did a lot of soul searching. When I asked myself the question, I realized I was actually seeing the same thing each time I prayed. It was an image from long ago when I started attending church as a young boy. Although buried deep in my subconscious, the image of a stained-glass window formed a lasting impression on me. This image allows me to feel as though I’m having a private conversation with a friend—albeit a very special and most powerful friend.

So, what exactly do I see when I pray? Well, first I visualize the stained glass window from my youth—an image of Jesus. As I continue praying, I usually see the faces of those for whom I’m praying and revert back to the stained-glass image as I finish my prayer. The image itself is surreal for me and puts my mind at ease. It works very well for me.

Stain Glass Jesus Picture 2x2

Whether you see an image or total darkness as you pray or talk to “whomever,” the important thing is that you do it. You may not receive the things or results you ask for, or even understand the answers. You may even feel as though your prayers are going unanswered, but I believe God hears all our prayers. He will respond in His time, and in His way. He knows what is best for us, so we must be patient.

For those who do not believe in God, He still “hears” your thoughts. I wish you the best in whatever way you cope with life’s difficulties. As I said in the beginning, I will never brow-beat you to do as I do, but I will still pray that you come to know Him someday.

By the way, I see that same stained-glass image when I give thanks everyday for the many blessings I have received.

Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Tom Tatum – Author – 2017

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Messages From God

God sends people messages in many forms—through things, gestures, miracles, tragedies, and others (friends, family, and strangers). How people receive God’s messages depends on their mindset.

For instance:

  • Some have never heard about God; they are not aware of Him, so they don’t understand the source of the messages.
  • Some say God doesn’t exist; they are aware, but choose to deny God and His messages.
  • Some think they are too busy; they receive the messages, but  do not take the necessary time to listen.
  • Some receive the messages but simply choose to ignore them.
  • Some believe, listen, and understand God’s messages and choose to follow Him, spreading His word to others.

Each person who has heard God’s words has the right to choose whether or not they believe in Him. Unlike many false gods, God, the creator of all things, does not force anyone to believe, listen, or follow Him. It is the responsibility of those who do believe to serve as modern-day disciples by spreading His word to those who deny or are unaware of His love and grace.

Once informed of God, people have a decision to make—follow or ignore Him. Those who try to spread His word must then move on and continue to serve Him by informing others. The mission of Believers is to spread His word to others, not force them to transform. Transformation is between God and the newly informed; they will be dealt with according to His will.

JesusToldHim2

Do you have what it takes to be one of God modern-day disciples? If you do, you will become a fisher of men.

Matthew 4:19 (KJV)

And he saith unto them, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.

Tom Tatum – Author – May 1, 2017

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HOPE FAITH PRAYER

hopefaithprayer1

No matter what is happening in our lives…

HOPE

gives us reason to face another day.

When we add

FAITH to HOPE,

we become empowered.

When we add

PRAYER

to

HOPE and FAITH,

 

WE CAN MOVE MOUNTAINS!

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JOURNEY TO LIFE’S SUMMIT

JourneyToLifesSummit

As I sat quietly pondering life—past, present, and future, I thought about the mountain(s) we face as we journey through life. Yes, life is like climbing a mountain to the summit. Some folks may climb more than one in their lifetime, but all of us have at least one.

Although there are many paths leading to life’s summit, we want to choose the best one. We research the possibilities, seek advice, and try to plan the perfect route in order to minimize the difficulties we may face along the way. The cliffs, slippery slopes, and many unknown dangers that may be encountered along the way make the decision difficult, but when we finally decide on the “ideal” path, it’s time to start climbing.

Most folks start in the valley and work their way up to the summit by taking one-step at a time. Sometimes what we visualized as we were making plans is not the path we actually traverse. We often must make midcourse adjustments and hear our internal GPS voice saying, “Recalculating!” However, we must not let that voice frustrate us because, as cited earlier, there are multiple paths that will lead to the summit.

The journey may be difficult and some days will be better than others, but we must stay the course. It takes discipline, courage, and endurance to make it to life’s summit, but you must keep climbing—it’s your mountain—your challenge in life and no one can do it for you.

The closer you get to the summit, the more difficult the climb becomes, which can be frustrating. You work hard, but the summit doesn’t appear to get any closer. The secret is not to look at how far you are from the summit, but to thank God each day for how far you’ve come from the valley below.

JOURNEY TO LIFE’S SUMMIT

I stood in the valley looking up.

There before me my summit rose high.

Covered with snow, it seemed far away,

But the journey there is mine they say.

 

I started to climb as a young child.

I sensed no danger and had no fear.

All I saw was beauty all around,

And the world I saw was my playground.

 

With the first plateau beneath my feet,

I looked back to see from where I came.

My childhood days passed like a warm breeze,

And teen years of life appeared with ease.

 

Even though my path grew steeper here,

Climbing seemed much easier for me.

I grew stronger with each step I took,

With impatience, my whole body shook.

 

On plateau number two, I stood tall.

Life had changed, for I became a man.

No longer able to be carefree,

For two kids I bounce upon my knee.

 

The sights before me are different now,

For I have reached plateau number three.

My kids now grown with kids of their own,

But warm thoughts of them still linger on.

 

As I stopped on plateau number four,

My path had narrowed and fear moved in.

I stood on ice with no trees to see,

And clouds concealed my valley below.

 

I’ve come a long way through thick and thin.

Each year has been filled with ups and downs!

Though I had more that I wished to say,

The cold damp air was too harsh this day.

 

My family has grown smaller with time,

As God called loved ones to be with Him.

But some have left without a goodbye,

For never did we see eye-to-eye.

 

Things are not the same in this high place,

But Frost did write, “I have miles to go…”

Doubts grow as my summit draws near,

And I wonder if I’ll find peace there.

 

The air I breathe is somewhat thin as

Light shines bright from my summit above.

I thank God for showing me the way,

And pray He will guide me through each day.

 

My journey near done, I wish for you,

That your days on earth be full of joy,

That the paths you choose are always true,

And for God’s light to shine upon you.

 

As you stand tall upon your summit,

Cast your eyes to the valley below,

For you climbed the mountain meant for you,

Which many said you could never do.

Tom Tatum – Author – 2016

Do you know where this monument is located?

JourneyToLifesSummit1

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FATHER’S LETTER “TO MY SON”

LetterToMySonRiver

John Johnson recently moved to Orangeburg, South Carolina and purchased thirty-acres of land bordering the majestic-cold-black water of the slow-flowing Edisto River. Abandoned many years ago, nature had reclaimed the property with underbrush so thick it made walking about very difficult. With a machete in hand, John started exploring the land to see exactly what he had blindly purchased. What he found changed his life. This is his story…

++++

As I started walking away from the riverbank, I noticed an old shack on a hill about one-hundred yards directly in front of me. I was shocked when I saw it because I didn’t even know the shack existed. The structure was in such a state of ill-repair I figured I would likely have to demolish and replace it with a new cabin.

LetterToMySonShack

As I stood on the front porch, I tried to imagine who might have lived there long ago. Who were they? Where did they go? Why did they abandon this beautiful property?

Not knowing what critters might be lurking inside the old shack, I banged on the door as if expecting someone to answer. No person or critter responded, so I eased the door open. The eerie, screeching sound made by the rusted hinges was an indication the door had not opened in years.

To my surprise, the interior actually appeared to be in good shape—the natural color of the unpainted wood created a warm-inviting atmosphere. There were even several pieces of furniture neatly placed, as if someone had left just minutes before my arrival. The only telltale sign of abandonment was the thick layer of dust coating everything in sight.

The first object that caught my eye was an old-mahogany chest standing against the wall to my left. It seemed so out of place because its beauty rivaled any antique I had ever seen. I opened the top drawer and found a small metal box containing a sealed envelope with the words “To My Son” written on it.

Suddenly, I felt guilty, as if I was invading someone’s privacy, but I proceeded to open the envelope anyway. A letter and a small black-and-white photo of an old man sporting grey hair appeared. The deep lines etched in his face were telltale signs of stress and years of exposure to the sun. The scars on his cheeks and forehead were indicative of serious accidents or having lived a difficult life. Yet, his eyes beamed with the warmth of a kind, gentle soul. His face looked so familiar, as if I should know him. Could it be possible I had seen this face before?

When I gently rubbed my finger across the image, I could sense the pain the old man must have endured—the experience was surreal, as though this man and I had some sort of connection. I brushed the thought aside and quickly refocused my attention to the letter and began reading…

To My Son,                              July 12, 1998

If you are reading this, it’s because I am no longer here to talk to you in person; I’ve gone to my final resting place in my Father’s house of many rooms and no longer feel the pain of my youth. However, there are a few things I never had the opportunity to tell you. Allow me to do so now.

Please read these words carefully as they will help you be a loving father to your son. I say these things not seeking your pity, but to open your heart and mind to God’s love.

When I was a young boy, my father didn’t treat me very well; he never even told me he loved me. In fact, he beat me many times, even though I begged him to stop. He said he wanted to toughen me up and teach me to be a man. He yelled and cursed me to stop crying like a big baby. Each time he hit me, I tried to protect my face with my hands only to have the hard blows of his massive fists break my fingers and send blood pouring from the wounds he inflicted upon my head. I prayed each day for God to take my pain away, and promised Him I would never treat my son the way my father treated me.

I never had much in my life, but I gladly give you this beautiful piece of heaven where you are now standing. The shack is small, but it’s very cozy, and the view of the river from the front porch will astound you—look at it often and you will find peace. I pray God speaks to you just as He did me. All I ask of you is that you keep this little shack standing tall and full of love. I don’t think that’s too much to ask of you, but if I’m wrong, I will understand.

Don’t be alarmed as you continue reading this message I share from my heart, but I know you’re probably not my son. That’s okay—I love you as though you are! You see, I was serving my country in Vietnam when I heard you were born. It was the best day of my life! I couldn’t wait to hold you in my arms and give you all the love you deserve—the same love I prayed for many times.

Unfortunately, I was involved in a bloody battle with the enemy the day following your arrival. I became a prisoner of war in the infamous Hanoi Hilton for six-long years.

Enemy soldiers beat me many times during my stay there. Memories of my dad teaching me to be a man filled my mind each time they hit me. I think I finally became the man dad wanted me to be because the only information I ever gave the enemy was my name, rank, and service number. They did not break me because the thought of seeing you one day kept me going—you were all I had to sustain me. I thank you for easing my pain.

When I returned home, I learned the army had listed me as MIA (Missing-In-Action). Your mother had remarried and wanted nothing to do with me, so I never had a chance to spend time with you. God didn’t bless me that way. I’m not sure why, but I never questioned His will for He blessed me in so many other ways. At least I was able to catch a brief glimpse of you playing in the yard on the day your mother broke my heart and sent me away.

Maybe God sent you here this day that you might become my son, and I—well, your father. I know how strange that must sound, but the thought comforts me, and paints a smile upon my face as I write these words. It would please me greatly if you choose to call me Dad. I will never harm you in any way if you do. I will honor my promise to God and give you the love I never received from my father.

My simple wish for you is that you find peace and happiness here in this little shack by the river. I pray you will love your son and teach him to know God. You do not have to hit him to teach him how to become a man. Do unto him as your Lord in heaven does to you—love him with all your heart; he will understand what it takes to make a real man strong.

Now, go hug your son. Tell him how proud you are to be his father, and never let your fists strike him in anger or any other way for that matter. God chose to bless you with a son, so love him as I do you on this very special day.

With all my love to the son I never met,

Matthew Johnson

As I read the man’s name, my heart swelled with emotion. Could this man possibly be my real father—the father I never met? The flow of the cold-black waters of the river paled in comparison to the stream of warm tears flowing down my cheeks. I felt as though God had led me to this place, in His own time, to meet this old man. I was humbled—no, I felt blessed by the experience and couldn’t wait to get home to hug my son. I was going to shower him with the same love an old man’s words in a letter had bestowed upon me.

++++

Well, it’s been two years since I discovered that old-abandoned shack on my riverfront property. My thoughts of tearing the place down never materialized. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it, so I restored it. My wife, son, and I now call this our home. We named our little piece of heaven by the river “Matthew’s Place” in honor of Matthew Johnson.

On the wall above that old-antique-mahogany chest is a frame displaying the photo of Matthew Johnson and his “TO MY SON” letter. It serves to remind me of the day I received a special message from an angel. Although the Lord’s house has many rooms, I will dwell in Matthew’s Place until the Lord calls me home to meet Mr. Johnson.

LetterToMySonFramed2

Matthew Johnson, may you rest in peace knowing that I, John Matthew Johnson, now think of you as my dad. Though we never met, your kind letter touched my heart. You, Matthew, now have someone to call—SON! May God bless and keep you until the day we meet in paradise!

John 14:2 (NIV)

My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?

Give your children a hug and tell them how much you love them—do this each day of your life.

The names herein are fictional and do not represent any real characters.

Tom Tatum – Author 2016

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LOOKING BEYOND YOUR HANDS

I recently received this in an email from a friend. It’s a thought provoking story about looking beyond the surface of your hands. I must admit that after reading Grandpa’s thoughts, I looked at my hands.

Unfortunately, I do not know who wrote this story. If you do, please advise so I can give them credit.

Two Open Hands

EVER REALLY LOOKED AT YOUR HANDS

Grandpa, some ninety plus years, sat feebly on the patio bench. He didn’t move, just sat with his head down staring at his hands. When I sat down beside him he didn’t acknowledge my presence and the longer I sat, I wondered if he was OK.

Finally, not really wanting to disturb him but wanting to check on him at the same time, I asked him if he was OK.

He raised his head and looked at me and smiled. “Yes, I’m fine. Thank you for asking,” he said in a clear strong voice. ”

I didn’t mean to disturb you, Grandpa, but you were just sitting here staring at your hands and I wanted to make sure you were OK,” I explained to him.

“Have you ever looked at your hands,” he asked. “I mean really looked at your hands?”

I slowly opened my hands and stared down at them. I turned them over, palms up and then palms down. No, I guess I had never really looked at my hands as I tried to figure out the point he was making.

Grandpa smiled and related this story:

“Stop and think for a moment about the hands you have, how they have served you well throughout your years.

These hands, though wrinkled, shriveled, and weak have been the tools I have used all my life to reach out and grab and embrace life. They put food in my mouth and clothes on my back.

As a child my mother taught me to fold them in prayer. They tied my shoes and pulled on my boots.

They have been dirty, scraped and raw, swollen and bent.

They were uneasy and clumsy when I tried to hold my newborn son.

Decorated with my wedding band they showed the world that I was married and loved someone special.

They trembled and shook when I buried my parents and spouse and walked my daughter down the aisle.

They have covered my face, combed my hair, and washed and cleansed the rest of my body.

They have been sticky and wet, bent and broken, dried and raw. And to this day, when not much of anything else of me works real well, these hands hold me up, lay me down, and again continue to fold in prayer.

These hands are the mark of where I’ve been and the ruggedness of my life. But more importantly it will be these hands that God will reach out and take when he leads me home. And with my hands He will lift me to His side and there I will use these hands to touch the face of Christ.”

I will never look at my hands the same again. But I remember God reached out and took my grandpa’s hands and led him home.

When my hands are hurt or sore I think of Grandpa. I know he has been stroked and caressed and held by the hands of God.

I, too, want to touch the face of God and feel His hands upon my face.

– Author Unknown

All I can add is, AMEN!

May God’s blessings be upon you!

Tom Tatum – Author – 2016

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