Our New Home

Our New Home
Fall is in the air!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Turkey Drumstick!


As part of our daily routine, Piper and I always take our seventy-five pound Aussie out back in the late afternoon for some exercise… for him as well as for me!  When we stepped out for this activity yesterday and I was guiding Piper’s chair over the threshold of the back door from the garage and onto the step and extension platform that I had built in order to accommodate an easy and safe in and out for her chair, I noticed a very unusual critter perched at one end of the step. 

Once I had Piper set in the sun on the back patio, I went back to the step to take a closer look.  At first I couldn’t tell if it was a big spider or a flying insect.  After a few moments of closer inspection I deduced that it was in fact a flying insect, black in color with large wings and six legs.  I would have loved to study it a little more but Fiver was anxious for my attention and was running around the yard in search of one of the balls we play catch and retrieve with and I needed to pull Piper’s hood down a little more snug over her ears.  So, I helped the little critter off the step and into the dirt next to it so that I wouldn’t step on him when we went back in the house… but you know, I still have no idea what it was as I had never seen one of those in our yard before!  Hopefully he’ll return so I can get a picture of him and do a little research.

That weird looking, fairly large flying insect got me to thinking about all the different creatures, insects, bugs, birds, rabbits, deer, and yes, even snakes that inhabit the forest surrounding two sides of our property.  Our property line goes back an additional ten feet beyond our fence line, but I am pretty certain that I’ll most likely never venture back there without a good pair of tall boots and my new CO2 pellet pistol for the trees, bushes, vines and ground cover is very thick!

Then my thoughts ventured off beyond the confines of our property and I began to get overwhelmed thinking about all the things that our heavenly Father has created throughout our universe.  These musings were increased last night as I stepped outback with Fiver around ten to let him do his thing before bedtime and took a few moments to look up toward the heavens. 

Another perk of country living is not having the bright lights of the city.  While we do have a street light across the road from the front of our house, the back is pretty dark at night.  That darkness makes for a pretty incredible sight when you look up!  The stars are so bright and seem to go on forever!  I long for the time when Piper can accompany us outside at night for the star show as she loved the night sky and always enjoyed pointing out all the different constellations!  (By the way, we do have motion detection lights that cover the whole house and yard around our property, and I also keep the porch and deck lights on throughout the night!) 

With the onset of the holidays and in particular Thanksgiving here in America, the thoughts and sights of God’s creation just makes me want to raise my arms in thanksgiving unto Him for all the marvelous things that He has made for you and me to enjoy in this life.  The beginning of Psalm 136 instructs us to “Give thanks to the LORD because he is good (pleasant, agreeable, excellent, valuable, appropriate, becoming, understanding, glad and happy*), because his mercy (his kindness, favor, goodness, faithfulness, compassion and goodwill*) endures forever.”

I mentioned in our last post of how I love to think about and thank Papa God for all that He has done for Piper and I over the years, but sometimes I believe that it is also important to just thank God for who He is and for all that He has done throughout all generations.  According to Dake’s Study Notes, Psalm 136 is a great place for us to start in thanking God for who He is.  Dake explains that there are 26 admonitions to give thanks to the Lord in this psalm of thanksgiving and also 28 facts about God in those admonitions that all conclude with the truth that “His mercy endures forever.” (See the multiple definitions of ‘mercy’ above*)

I took the time to recite the verses of this Psalm at the breakfast table this morning so that Piper could join in with the act of Thanksgiving.  While speaking out the 26 admonitions and 28 facts about our heavenly Father, I could not help but to raise my hands as I became emotionally involved in the moment of worship unto Him. 

The word translated ‘thanksgiving’ actually comes with the connotation of physically raising our hands in reverence and praise to the Lord.  Now that I know that, I can understand why I am usually moved to raise my hands and arms whenever I begin to praise the Lord whether at church, at home and even in the car!  (Did I ever tell you about the time that I was the ONLY one who raised their hands during the singing of the ending hymn at the end of a New Year’s Watchnight service at the very traditional Baptist church we attended in the late seventies?  Got a lot of strange looks… but I couldn’t help myself!  I didn’t do it on purpose… my hands just sort of popped up!)

Tomorrow as you gather to celebrate Thanksgiving dinner with family and friends, I challenge you to read Psalm 136 together and then take a moment to go around the room and give everyone present the opportunity to thank God for who He is, and for all He has done.  I guarantee that it will be a Thanksgiving gathering like you’ve never had before!  (Let me know how many hands go up during this time!)

Piper and I wish each of you a very blessed, happy and meaningful Thanksgiving this year.  And as you are about to bite into that turkey drumstick, ask yourself… “What am I expecting to THANK GOD FOR today, and tomorrow?”



*Definitions from the original Hebrew and Greek translations as defined by Strong’s, Thayer’s  and Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Definitions)

Monday, November 20, 2017

A Week of Thanks - Giving...


I stepped out onto the back deck late Saturday afternoon to enjoy the crisp weather and to quietly bask in the sights and fragrances of our backyard where I had done some pre-winter trimming of the bushes on Thursday and then mowed & swept the lawn earlier that day.  My eyes were immediately drawn toward the pink western skies as the setting sun was giving its last effort at staying above the horizon.

It was another one of those times that I have grown to love out here with the sound of the breeze shimmering through the leaves that were still clinging to the trees around our property.  The swish of the trees occasionally harmonized with the different species of birds singing their evening songs and the distant bark of one of our neighbor’s dogs.  But besides those sounds, I was encapsulated with one of the greatest perks of country living… wonderful and peace-inducing QUIET! 

As I feasted on the sights around me, I couldn’t help by thank the Lord for His faithfulness to my wife and I.  Back in 2013 when I first began to get indications from the Lord in prayer about moving out here, I had no idea that we would end up in this location.  In fact, I had never even heard of the town of Fuquay-Varina, Harnett County, Lillington nor any of the locations around our new home that are becoming more and more familiar to us with each passing day!

What I had heard in prayer back then was, that besides a few other key details of why the move was significant to God for us to make, was that it was important for us to own something (ie; a house again) in our later years.  Well, standing on “our” deck some four and a half years later, I could only shake my head in awe of His lovingkindness and favor toward us.

In this Thanksgiving week, I can’t help but think of the goodness of our heavenly Father and speak out the words of the Psalmist in Psalm 136:1,4 declaring that I “Give thanks to the Lord because he is good, because his mercy (kindness, favor, faithfulness – Strong’s and Thayer’s) endures forever.  (I) Give thanks to the only one who does miraculous things, because his mercy endures forever.” (God’s Word ©)

I spent a little time while preparing dinner last night talking with my wife about all the “miraculous” things that the Lord has done for us since we returned to California and eventually out here after attending Bible College in Oklahoma from 2006 – 2009.  As the list got longer and longer, I suddenly received a revelation about a firm position we took in the early years of our marriage that set the stage for most of the items of the list we were making that night.

If you remember some of the posts I wrote last week, I mentioned the story in 2 Chronicles 20 when the Lord spoke through the prophet to Jehoshaphat and the children of Israel as they faced a life threatening event.  In verse seventeen the Lord declared: “You won’t fight this battle. Instead, take your position, stand still, and see the victory of the Lord for you…”  (God’s Word ©)  In this situation Papa God was telling the Israelites to take the position of trust in Him and His words to them.  It was that position of trust that enabled them to hold their ground before the oncoming armies and to use praise as their only offensive weaponry.

In our case, it also began with taking a position of trust followed by praise.  Let me explain  I won’t give you all the details as some of you might already be familiar with this story, but in the early summer of 1980 Piper was on maternity leave from Hewlett Packard where she had worked for about six months.  Both of our hearts desires was for her to be a stay-at-home Mom when our kids came along.  The only problem though, was that my fledgling photography business was not steady enough for us to be without her income.

In discussing the matter we decided that we would wait and see what happened as I had already put in an application at HP a few months previous to this time, before Piper let her supervisor know if she was coming back or not after her leave was up.  After about a month or so of waiting along with some time spent in concentrated prayer, I heard the Lord one day distinctly telling me that we had the cart before the horse!  We were waiting to see the results of our prayer before we took any steps of faith… kind of the opposite to the classic definition of faith in Hebrews 11:1 where the writer said that: “Faith assures us of things we expect and convinces us of the existence of things we cannot (yet) see.” (God’s Word ©)

I still can remember going into that small green kitchen at my Grandmother’s house that we were renting from my folks where Piper was cooking dinner and telling her what I had heard in prayer.  Well, without ANY hesitation, Piper readily agreed as she was getting similar directions in her private prayers.  So, without any further discussion we took hands with our little sheltie at our feet and thanked God for His directions and faithfulness to us and committed my job at HP to Him.

Piper called her boss the very next day and let her know that she would not be returning at the end of her maternity leave.  We had made the decision that our financial future was in His hands… lock, stock and barrel!  From that day on we never put finances before God’s plans for us.  Now that’s not to say that we didn’t consider finances when making decisions, but God and His Word always had the final say as to the next step that we felt called to take.

Oh by the way… within a few weeks of that decision, Piper and I took our baby Josh to HP so that Piper could introduce him to the team she worked with.  After signing in at the front desk in building one, we walked past the personnel department that was located right behind the entrance and continued down the open hallway.  About half way through the building I heard someone calling my name and turned to see Steve, the man from personnel with whom I had previously talked to concerning my application jogging up behind us.  Once he caught up to us he took a moment to catch his breath and then said that he had been trying to contact me as the management of the PC Shop were interested in me and wanted him to set up an interview!

Well, the rest is history!  About a month later I went to work in the Printed Circuit proto shop, silk screening PC boards as well as putting in some hours each week developing negatives for the designers of the boards upstairs.  I think God was just waiting for us to get our priorities right!

As I thought about that fateful decision back in 1980 while in the kitchen with Piper this last weekend, I couldn’t help but to let the thanksgivings flow to our Father in heaven because of all the blessings He has bestowed on us over the last 37 years since then, because of that lesson we learned in putting Him and His Word first.  Now a days it just comes kind of naturally and that way of thinking is usually the first way we go.  But you know… we have had to watch in that it doesn’t just become sort of rout to us!  Each new decision needs to have a fresh anointing of our faith, a fresh perspective of His faithfulness and goodness to us, and a fresh recognition of Hebrews 11:1 concerning the outcome of our expectations!

As we look to the celebration of Thanksgiving in a few days, what are you thankful for?  Why wait until you sit at the table with family and friends on Thursday before thinking about things to be thankful for.  Start today and give the Lord a week of Thanks-giving for all that He has done for you!

Have a great holiday week, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting to be thankful for today?”

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Right Place at the Right Time!


Have you ever found yourself in a situation where everything just seemed to go right for you?  Sure you have.  We all have.  At times like that it is easy to look back and see how you were in the right place at the right time for everything to come together like it did!  The opposite can also happen… you know… when nothing seems to go in your favor.  At these times it is easy to think about how you just might have been in the wrong place and the wrong time!

As I was studying in the Old Testament book of 2 Chronicles chapter twenty and the story of Jehoshaphat and the children of Israel’s victory over three opposing enemy armies, I discovered that this also seems to be true when it comes to following God’s plans for the various activities and situations in our lives.  In verses sixteen and seventeen the Lord spoke through the prophet Jahaziel and gave the Israelites some very specific directions for them to follow.  He told them, “Tomorrow, they (the three enemy armies) will travel through the ascent of Ziz.  Meet them at the end of valley before the wilderness of Jeruel.  There I will be watching.  Stand and watch, but do not fight the battle.  There, you will watch the Eternal save you.”  (The Voice Bible)

Evidently there is a right time and place for us to be during our stands of faith for the situations and needs of our lives where God is best positioned to fight and win the battle for us!  In this story it is pretty obvious that if the Israelites had not followed God’s specific directions that they would have been wiped out.  Sometimes the situations we go to the Lord for help in aren’t as black and white, aren’t as dramatic and may have multiple scenarios for us to choose from… besides what we sense that the Lord is telling us.  But on the other hand… like in the case of my wife’s health, there is only one possible solution… and that is God’s way! 

I can look back today and see how many of the steps of faith that we have taken along this journey over the last ten years have been the right thing to do at the right time.  Most of these steps that we took though, weren’t as quickly brought to a successful conclusion as with our story in 2 Chronicles 20.  When we followed what we strongly felt was the Lord’s directions for us and I quit my outside job so as to be able to care for Piper 24/7 back in 2010, it took almost two years before we saw all the tangible benefits of that plan. 

At the time I was mainly thinking about Piper’s needs and care and was ready to do whatever I had to do to make it work.  During those two years I had time to research available benefit programs that we could apply for, learned about the mandatory waiting periods before we could apply, the strict financial limits (that we met once I quit my outside job), the various medical evaluations we needed to get and the reams of paperwork I had to fill out.  Once the Federal benefit qualifications were met, I then discovered State and County benefits that were available because of the Federal benefits Piper began to receive. 

If I hadn’t obeyed the word of the Lord to us and stepped out in faith at the right time we would not have been in the right place to receive all those benefits.  When all the paperwork was complete, approved and the finances began to come in, we ended up having a greater monthly income than I was making at my secular job… that kept me out of the home for up to twelve hours a day… and I was being paid to take care of my wife!  Isn’t God good?

Another thing that I thought was interesting while studying this account in the Bible, is the multiple occasions that the Lord had to remind the Israelites that they were not to fight in this battle.  God’s plan was quite unusual and I am sure that it must have been difficult for Israel’s trained solders to stand still and watch when the huge enemy force was coming against them and their families.  But God knew what needed to happen in order for His plan to succeed.

The same could be said for you and me and the plans He has for us throughout our lives.  We took A LOT of flak, accusation and criticism for obeying God because to some, quitting my job just didn’t make good financial sense.  But through it all we continued on and eventually reaped the rewards of our obedience and forbearance.

I believe, just as with the children of Israel’s obedience to God’s unusual plan, that our stepping out in faith at the right time allowed Papa God the right place to fight the unseen battles we needed fought in order to receive His best for us.  And since the Word tells us “that God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34 KJV), if He did it for the Israelites in the Old Testament, and He did it for us in these New Testament times… that He’ll do the same for you!

Have a wonderful weekend!  We are supposed to have some beautiful weather and since a good majority of the leaves are down, I’m hoping to get some lawns mowed and swept for their final trim before the winter season!  Be blessed and look for opportunities to be a blessing to those around you, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “Am I expecting to be in the right place at the right time in order to be a part of God’s plan for me today?”

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Great Adventure!


♫ “Saddle up your horses, we've got a trail to blaze

Through the wild blue yonder of God's amazing grace

Let's follow our leader into the glorious unknown

This is a life like no other, whoa whoa this is the great adventure.” ♪ *



                                                                                 --- Steven Curtis Chapman





I had the opportunity to get blessed yesterday toward the end of our grocery shopping adventure at our local Super Walmart.  The older gal who checked us out has been a regular checker since we first started shopping there a couple of years ago.  In the past when we had gone through her line I barely got a few lines of communication from her.  But for some reason this time was different. 

By the time we got to the front of the line I had already been joking with the gentleman before me as I noticed that he was about to purchase a pair of slippers identical to the pair I have.  He in turn joked with the cashier and she just seemed to keep it going when she started scanning our items.  As we laughed she suddenly took a real interest in Piper, her situation and my care for her.  The lady mentioned that she had seen us many times in the store and always took note of my attentiveness to my wife.

She went on to say many nice things about my attitude concerning our situation and my personal care for Piper.  By the time we walked out of the store I felt like I was walking on the clouds!  Once we got to our car in the parking lot, I pushed Piper up to the car door, opened the door and then went down on a knee so that I could gently move her feet off the foot stirrups, pick her up and seat her in the car.  While I was kneeling by her I heard a man’s gentle voice behind me asking if I needed any help.

When I turned around I observed a gentleman about my age with long gray hair smiling at us.  I politely declined his offer and thanked him profusely for the offer. (I have the process down to a science and don’t really see how another hand or two would be able to help me get her through the car doorway into the front seat!)  A few minutes later after I had gotten Piper into the car and was unloading the groceries from the cart into the back seat, I suddenly heard that same voice joking that he forgot the item he was planning to return to the store and had to come back to his car.

We talked for a few moments and he made mentioned of how peaceful “my daughter” looked as he motioned to Piper in the front seat.  I had to laugh at that point and told him that she actually was my wife.  He went on to say how young she looks and then stated many of the same nice things that the cashier had back in the store. 

I have to admit that his taking the time to talk with and encourage me really touched my heart.  After loading the groceries and parking the cart, I slumped into the driver’s seat next to Piper and simply stared across the parking lot as I considered everything both the kind folks had said.  Then I found myself drifting off into deep thought as the events of the last ten years flashed through my brain…

Piper took a long time to drink a good portion of her breakfast this morning and I have to admit that I did have to fight a little bit of discouragement while I encouraged her to swallow each little milliliter of her breakfast protein drink.  By the time it was obvious that she wasn’t going to swallow anymore, I was feeling like I’d just run a few miles on our new tread mill but I pushed on, grabbed the dog’s lease and prepared to take him out for his morning constitutional… and that’s when I heard Steven Curtis Chapman singing “The Great Adventure” from my computer’s Pandora morning mix.

At that point I stopped in mid-stride and had to smile and admit that we have been on quite “The Great Adventure” since we began this journey.  That thought along with the remembrances of the two conversations yesterday cause me to reflect upon the “POSITION” that we took back in the beginning days in 2007.

In 2 Chronicles chapter twenty we read the story of King Jehoshaphat and the children of Israel’s fight against three enemy armies that had joined together to attack them.  In verse seventeen we hear the Lord speaking to the people telling them: “You won't fight this battle. Instead, take your position, stand still, and see the victory of the LORD for you, Judah and Jerusalem. Don't be frightened or terrified. Tomorrow go out to face them. The LORD is with you." (God’s Word ©)  A few verses later we find out that the POSITION they were called to take was that of PRAISE! (2 Chronicles 20:21)

The thought of Jehoshaphat and the children of Israel’s POSITION of PRAISE made me smile as I stood between the table and the sliding glass window on the way to the back deck, for that is the exact same POSITION that Piper and I took and continue to take throughout this “Great Adventure” of faith that we have embarked upon.  That scripture and that POSITION contain so much material to discuss, but I’ll bring today’s post to a close sufficing to say that it is our POSITION of PRAISE that gets me up with a smile on my face, a song on my lips and the expectation of God’s best in my heart each day.

Without a doubt the mornings have been the toughest time of the day for us as Piper is usually at her weakest point when I first get her up, it is the time when most of her emergency situations have taken place and for some reason is the time when she consumes the largest intake of food for the day.  Without our POSITION of PRAISE, I am not sure how I could face each and every new day. 

2 Chronicles 20:20 informs us that even though they faced unbeatable odds and the very real potential of death itself that the children of Israel still “got up early in the morning and went to the desert of Tekoa...”  That determination was the effect of their POSITION of PRAISE because they believed the Lord and what their King told them when he declared: “Listen to me, people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem. Trust the LORD your God, and believe. Believe his prophets, and you will succeed." 

It is our trust and belief in the Lord and His Word that empowers our POSITION of PRAISE to face the trials of this life… with a smile on your face, a song on your lips and the expectation of God’s best in your heart each day.

What can I say?  IT WORKS FOR ME… and will for you as well! 

Have a great rest of the week, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “Am I expecting to take a POSTION of PRAISE today?”



PS:  The conclusion of Steven Curtis Chapman’s song “The Great Adventure” ends with the words:  "The love of God will take us far beyond our wildest dreams"* 





*Songwriters: STEVEN CURTIS CHAPMAN, GEOFF MOORE

© CAPITOL CHRISTIAN MUSIC GROUP


Monday, November 13, 2017

It's Okay!


On Saturday night my wife and I were in the living room watching a movie when she suddenly started twitching a little.  It wasn’t an emergency situation but it was obvious that something out of the ordinary was going on.  So I leaned forward as she was sitting in her chair in front of the couch and gently began to massage her shoulders while I softly told her “It’s okay.”  Well the hand touch and words of comfort did the trick and she relaxed and didn’t have any more difficulties throughout the rest of the evening.

About ten minutes later the dog who was asleep at my feet began to whimper and twitch as he was having what seemed to be another nightmare.  So, once again, I leaned over and gently began to pet his side while I softly told him that “It’s okay!”  And as with my wife, he quickly responded, woke up and barely turned his head to look up at me with a blank expression that seemed to be saying “Huh?”

Once Fiver went back to sleep, I leaned back on the couch and suddenly began laughing as I thought “How many times over the last ten years have I said that to my wife during the many emergency situations that we have been through since that first report of the potential of Alzheimer’s back in 2007.”  Then feeling a bit of self-pity, I looked up to the ceiling and said, “Gee, I’d love to have someone (like Piper) saying that to me!” 

But you know… that thought didn’t last very long as the direction toward feeling sorry for myself was suddenly side-swiped by my recalling the personal experience that I have every time I read or confess the Word of God and/or break out into heartfelt or many times “the sacrifice of praise.” (Hebrews 13:15)  For EVERY time I’ve done that, Papa God comes through by telling me that “It’s okay!”

I’ve been studying II Chronicles 20:14-30 over the last week and I keep finding myself astonished at the POWER that our praises unto God have on the situations we all face on a daily basis.  Verses 14-17 outline God’s plan for the childen of Israel as they were about to face off with an overwhelmingly large and well trained enemy force.  Through a prophet the Lord told them:

“This is what the LORD says to you: Don't be frightened or terrified by this large crowd. The battle isn't yours. It's God's.  Tomorrow go into battle against them. They will be coming up the Ziz Pass. You will find them at the end of the valley in front of the Jeruel Desert.   You won't fight this battle. Instead, take your position, stand still, and see the victory of the LORD for you, Judah and Jerusalem. Don't be frightened or terrified. Tomorrow go out to face them. The LORD is with you."

Then when you read on you’ll see that it looked like the Lord wasn’t done with His instructions and must have spoken to the King during the night.  In the morning as they prepared to march off to meet the enemy, King Jehoshaphat encouraged his troops and “After he had advised the people, he appointed people to sing to the LORD and praise him for the beauty of his holiness. As they went in front of the troops, they sang, "Thank the LORD because his mercy endures forever!" (20:21)

So wait a minute here folks… If I read this right, the King’s strategy to fight the battle was to put the Praise and Worship team out in front of the army?  Have any of you ever heard of this type of military plan before?  Obviously God must have known something about the power of PRAISE that not too many others knew… and probably don’t know today as well!  So what happened?  Did God’s preposterous plan work?

Well, of course it did!  The next four verses tell us exactly what happened. “As they started to sing praises, the LORD set ambushes against the Ammonites, Moabites, and the people of Mount Seir who had come into Judah. They were defeated.  Then the Ammonites and Moabites attacked the people from Mount Seir and annihilated them. After they had finished off the people of Seir, they helped destroy one another.  The people of Judah went to the watchtower in the desert and looked for the crowd. Corpses were lying on the ground. No one had escaped.   When Jehoshaphat and his troops came to take the loot, they found among them a lot of goods, clothes, and valuables. They found more than they could carry. They spent three days collecting the loot. (20:22-25)*

WOW!  What do you think about that?  Have you ever experienced a similar situation in your life where your exclamations of heartfelt PRAISE positively changed the negativity that you were facing?  Maybe it wasn’t the treat of complete annihilation to you and your family… and everybody else you know… but yet important enough to you that you took the time and effort to PRAISE Him.

It was THAT power, THAT peace and my overwhelming TRUST in God that has empowered me to PRAISE Him in my darkest moments and thereby cause me to understand how much God has been helping me since that fateful night as I received that call while standing alone in the power tools aisle in the Garden Department at the South Tulsa Home Depot in 2007.

You and I can PRAISE Him in the midst of ANY situation or circumstances and know that “It will be okay” BECAUSE we love Him and trust Him and his Word… more THAN ANYTHING ELSE!

Obviously it worked for the Israelites back in Jehoshaphat’s time, and I can relate experience after experience in my life where it has worked… and I bet you can too!  Have a great new week, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “Am I expecting myself to PRAISE GOD so that it will be okay when my life takes a downward spiral?”





*All scriptures quoted from the God’s Word © translation.

Friday, November 10, 2017

♪ SING OUT ♫


I wrote a song back in the nineties for a children’s play that I penned for a holiday presentation that declared:

“He put a new song right into my heart,

 It’s a song of praise to Jesus

 Just like the shepherds sang when they saw the King,

 It’s a song of praise to Jesus!”

Halelu……jah, Hallelujah to the King,

Hallelu.…..jah, Oh we praise the newborn King!”



Over the years and many Christmases and play presentations later, that song and certain lines from the play have become a regular part of our family’s Christmas celebration traditions.  There is a line in the play where the main characters gleefully shout: “Tomorrow’s Christmas day, and you know what that means… Presents in the morning!”  Well, with our family currently spread between California, Oklahoma and North Carolina over the last few years, I can always depend on one of the siblings sending out a group family text on Christmas Eve with that familiar line, which in turn opens up a long thread of communication of Christmas cheer between all of us!

I thought of that particular song this morning as I continued with my study of Psalm 100.  Verse four in the King James Version encourages us to “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise.”  Many of the modern translations tell us to enter in with ‘songs’ of thanksgiving and praise, which is exactly the way the original Hebrew implies that the actions ‘thanksgiving’ and ‘praise’ should be presented.  That revelation got me to realize that we are not to just come into His presence with dry or empty words but with actual ‘songs’ of heartfelt thanksgiving and praise!  Our desire to come into His presence should be such a joy-filled and exciting event that we can’t help but sing our way in the door! 

In Psalm 69:30 the writer declares that “I want to praise the name of God with a ‘song’ of praise.” (God’s Word ©)  I am sure that for the musician David, singing unto the Lord was a natural way of expression for him.  I was thinking this morning that Piper’s and my relationship was filled with music from the very get-go!  We were both raised in musical families where singing around the piano was not an uncommon activity. 

I was in a secular rock band when we met and played the guitar while Piper was classically trained on the piano (and continued lessons into her Junior College years when she also took organ lessons – I have fond memories of going to meet her after her individual lessons in one of the practice rooms in the old, musty music building!) Piper also played flute and piccolo in the high school band and then gave all of our kid’s piano lessons… which they still play today!

So… to come into His presence in song is quite natural for us as well.  But let me say… that while a certain familiarity with music is helpful, it should not be the driving factor for songs of praise.  The heart of a worshipper should be ignited into songs of praise and thanksgiving by their close, personal and intimate relationship with the Lord!  Psalm 100:3 gives us the key premise to the workings of this Psalm… and most likely for all the Psalms as well.  It states that we are to: “Know ye that the LORD he is God…” (KJV)  The word “know” is that word in the Greek that we’ve all come to know and love (if you are a regular reader of this blog) “ginosko” which implies a close, personal and intimate relationship with the Lord.  It is the “Jewish idiom for sexual intercourse between a man and a woman.” (Thayer’s)

As I meditated on this point yesterday I felt the Lord saying down in my spirit that “I should know Him just as I know my wife of 42 years… intimately, closely and with a loving knowledge of her innermost thoughts, needs and desires… and with ZERO doubt in my mind concerning the extent of her love for me!”

That natural kind of love between us is the driving factor for me to do ANYTHING for her.  It is also the kind of love that should automatically drive us to come into the Lord’s presence with heartfelt songs of thanksgiving and praise.  And you know… it doesn’t matter if you have a beautiful voice or can’t carry a tune in a bucket.  David makes that extremely clear when he began Psalm 100 with the encouragement to “Make a joyful noise unto the LORD…” (KJV)

My Mom used to joke about her close friend Norma who knew she couldn’t hold a note but sang to her heart’s content when singing hymns in church!  She always figured that her off-key rendition would just get lost amongst the other worshippers in the service!  I believe that God is more interested in the heart of the worshipper than the tone!

So what do you think?  Are you going to enter His presence with ‘songs’ of worship?  I think that it would make Him very happy and bless you as well!  Go ahead… give it a try! 

Have a wonderful weekend, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “Am I expecting to enter His gates and His courts with heartfelt ‘songs’ of thanksgiving and praise today?”

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Serendipity!


I can recall a gathering at my parent’s home a few years back when some of us were sitting around the dining table and for whatever reason, were discussing movies.  The one statement that I’ve always remembered from that conversation was my Mom’s comment that she liked “happy movies” and that she watched movies to cheer her up and not make her sad.

Through the years since then, I have often thought about that declaration and realized that I am the same way!  I usually will not watch a movie if I know it has a sad ending.  I can deal with trauma and other negative life events in a movie if I know that has a happy ending!  I think part of this stems from the reality that I tend to be one of those people who looks at a partially filled container as being half full instead of half empty.  It must be one of the characteristics that I picked up from my Mom! 

As I endeavor to accomplish my daily activities I find that I would much rather have a smile on my face than a frown… and like I continually share… the same could be said for my lovely wife.  That’s probably one of the reasons we connected so quickly a few years back in high school… Okayso maybe it’s more than just a few years back – Time does seem to fly when you are having a good time! 

One of the many attributes of my wife that has always captivated me is her smile and contagious laughter.  Today I can look at a picture from our past of her smiling and laughing and I can’t help but to burst out into laughter myself!  The memory of the unique pitch and timber of her laughter ignites all the memories of what she means to me.  It is a reflection of our love, of all the things that we have accomplished together and of that special serendipity that happens between us and through us when we work together in ministry, family and in the events of our daily lives.

I believe that this special serendipity is exactly the way Papa God wants us to connect with Him!  And I also believe that a smile and laughter is one of the main ways to enter into this level of relationship… through our PRAISES unto Him.  While studying Psalm 100 over the last few days I keep being drawn to the repeated idea of being “happy” when coming into His presence.  Verses one and two set the stage declaring: “Shout happily to the LORD, all the earth.  Serve the LORD cheerfully. Come into his presence with a joyful song.” (God’s Word ©)  Other translations say to “make a joyful noise” and to “serve the Lord with gladness,” (KJV) or to “Bring a gift of laughter, sing yourselves into his presence.” (The Message)

The use of these terms gives me the clear sensation that we should be happy when we PRAISE the Lord.  I learned through years of experience that although I may not always start out very happy when I begin to PRAISE the Lord, I just about always end up with a joyful heart and a big smile on my face when I am done!  Our heartfelt PRAISE does many things, one of which is to bring an atmosphere of joy into the situations we face in our lives on a daily basis.  I firmly believe that this is the main reason that I am able to continually face each new day with an attitude of expectation and peace in the midst of the trying times with my wife’s health needs.

The expectation, peace and joy that accompanies our heartfelt PRAISE brings encouragement to the one giving forth PRAISES unto God and also spreads forth that encouragement to anyone in the company of the PRAISER!  I’ve learned that a house without PRAISE is like a house without heat and light in the middle of winter… and believe me… I’ve been in some of those houses and they are not a comfortable place to stay for any period of time!  The Lord made it pretty clear to me early on in our stand of faith for Piper’s health, that I needed to limit her exposure in and around PRAISE-FREE people and their houses!  The lack of PRAISE has a very negative effect on her physical well-being in her weakened state.

As I’ve mentioned before… our house has never been and will never beas long as I have something to say about it… a PRAISE-FREE zone!  What about you and yours?  I want my continual PRAISE to the Lord to be seen, received and felt by Papa God as a regular reminder and reflection of our love, of all the things that we have accomplished together and of that special serendipity that happens between us and through us when we come together in this life.

Would you agree?  Have a great rest of the week, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “Am I expecting to live in a PRAISE-FULL or a PRAISE-FREE zone in my life today?