Our New Home

Our New Home
Fall is in the air!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Black and White or Color?

You remember how I talked about the wonderful weather that we were having out here in North Carolina last week?  Well it was short-lived!  We’ve got rain coming late this afternoon more tomorrow and then a strong possibility of snow on Wednesday morning.

Doesn’t spring start tomorrow?  What’s wrong with this picture?  Oh well… I am not really complaining.  I have actually been enjoying the variety of weather out here since we moved from Californian in 2014.  When we left the West Coast, they were in the middle of a drought and it seemed like everyday was the same as the one before.  Maybe it was just time for us to move.  I guess I was getting bored with the same forecast day in and day out!

On the other coast of America, we get a little of every kind of weather, although our location seems to be in such an area where we usually do not get the extreme weather they get to the north and sometimes to the south of us as well.  Once again, I guess God knew what He was doing when He put it in my heart to move a few years back.

One very important thing that both my wife and I have learned over the years is to follow that leading when it comes!  Without a doubt, following those unique leadings of His has brought us through some of the most exciting times in our marriage!  And sure, there are always trials and tribulations that enter in while in the midst of such adventures but I Corinthians 10:13 encourages us that “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (ESV) 

I am a firm believer that God wouldn’t have given us (or any Christian for that matter) a leading, direction or faith project to embark upon unless He knew that we had what it took to complete the task.  Notice that our scripture above says that He “will not let you be tempted beyond your ability…”  You see, God knows better than anyone else what you and I have got inside of us.  He knows our personal giftings and talents (after all he gave them to us… right?), He knows our life experiences, He knows how much Word we’ve been putting inside of us and most important of all, He knows how obedient to his will we are!

Over the years in the ministry I have seen countless examples of how our heavenly Father takes all of that in us and uses it for His purposes and for His glory!  And it seems like He does it differently for just about everyone.  He is definitely not Black and White in His methods.  As I’ve talked about in some recent posts, our Papa God’s methods are FULL of grace! 

It became pretty clear to Piper and I that the individuals who criticized and persecuted us for some of the directions we have taken as we have traveled along this current journey, were looking at our situation from a very limited perspective, one that was most likely heavily influenced by their own set of experiences and personal giftings and talents.  That’s not to say that their makeups were any less valuable or important than ours or ours than theirs… they were just different! 

I was commenting to Piper after church yesterday that it is uncanny in some respects, of how God prepared us while in Oklahoma, for the long and tough journey that we were already in the midst of but didn’t quite realize it yet.  And while I do have many pleasant memories of our time in Oklahoma with my Bible School training and experiences, the church we attended, my job at the South Tulsa Home Depot and all the wonderful people we were privileged to become acquainted with, much of that time was quite difficult as it seemed like all I did was to go to school, work, take Piper to a myriad of doctors for exams, tests and scans and then watch over her, with the loving and able assistance of our youngest daughter, as Piper began to exhibit many unusual changes on almost a daily basis!

But yet, we did return home power-packed with the Word of God in us, full of good counsel and practical understanding of the Word of God and how it works in our lives and strong in Faith that He will do what He says He will do in His Word.  Most people that we were close to back home saw the change in us, while only a few seemed oblivious to it.  When you live a Black and White life, you tend to miss the beautiful COLOR that’s all around you.

When you look through the Roll-Call-of-Faith in Hebrews chapter eleven, you can’t help but notice that some of the people named in that famous list of people that God highly exalted, did not always live the most exemplary of lives.  They had ups and downs in their lives but thank the Lord that Papa God did and still does not look at us in the limiting tones of Black and White!  I believe that He actively looks for the COLOR in each of our lives today… just like He did with the heroes of our faith back then!

When we trip and fall, He reaches down and extends us a hand, will help us to discover why we fell (when we ask Him to) and will love us through until we learn to not make the same mistake again… and then help us to move on – and succeed - in the next challenge that He has for us!

I think that’s pretty cool… don’t you?  Makes me want to explore new frontiers with Him… You too?

Have a great week, enjoy the weather in your area, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “How Black and White or looking for the COLOR, am I expecting to be in my life’s interactions with other people today?”

Saturday, March 17, 2018

What Would You Do?

The last few days have been absolutely gorgeous out here in central North Carolina.  Since the unexpected snow storm on Monday, the skies have been clear with temperatures growing warmer with each passing day.  Yesterday it got up into the mid-sixties with a bit of a westerly breeze that we couldn’t resist and found ourselves out back for an extended period of time in the late afternoon.

I had wheeled Piper out into the middle of the yard on the grass which is steadily reviving from its winter dormancy, while Fiver and I played “toss the ball” with three different types and colors of balls.  I think Fiver was also enjoying the nice day as he was very focused on our ball tossing and not chasing squirrels or searching for the rabbits that hide on the other side of the back fence whenever he comes out!

I was kind of lost in thought about Piper and how she’s been doing while I ran around the yard with the dog.  Last week was pretty tough.  She was weaker than normal, was not too enthusiastic about eating and was like a limp rag doll when I helped her get dressed in the morning and with other activities during the day.  The nurse who checks on her each week also noticed some of the subtle changes.  Piper’s normally low blood pressure was even lower than normal and her pulse wasn’t quite as strong as it usually is.

At times like this it is easy to start thinking about the next logical step in the process of life that she might be going through.  In the hospice world they call it “transition.”  The hospice team has been very sensitive to our needs and have given Piper top notch care but are very clinical as things look like they are progressing in what I would call the WRONG direction!  In the natural I believe it makes sense to discuss the signs and possible timing of the process and prepare oneself for the final conclusion.  So, the nurse and I talked about the situation and I asked some pertinent questions on the details I would need to know as well as the things I would need to do to assist my wife at this time.

But this week… things took a positive step in the OTHER direction.  As Piper has been stronger (on most days) and has been swallowing her food with much more regularity and purpose.  When the nurse came yesterday, all of Piper’s vitals looked strong including her blood pressure which was up in her normal range.  When our daughter and her husband came over and brought everything needed to celebrate my birthday last night Piper was alert the whole time, ate a decent dinner and slept soundly throughout the night, and awoke with bright eyes and swallowed her breakfast without any difficulties!

So, while we were enjoying the beautiful day outback yesterday, I contemplated the activities of the last few weeks and the ups and downs of this ordeal.  At one point I heard the word “tear” pop up from my heart and I immediately began to speak out my thoughts and walked over to Piper and said, “You know, I feel like there is a tearing (ie; a ripping apart) going on in me.  It’s like my natural side and my spiritual side are being torn apart.”

Then as I thought about the idea of a “tearing” going on in me I realized the ever-changing (ie; up and down) daily condition of my wife’s health is a constant battle for me, between what I see with my natural eyes and what I see with my spiritual eyes of faith that are viewing this situation through the lens of God’s Word.  In the midst of times like last week when everything in the physical looks to be going down the tubes in rapid succession, it is extremely difficult to overshadow what is being demonstrated before you with an expectation of the opposite that we see in God’s Word… that is not yet visible in the natural… Do you understand what I’m talking about?

Hebrews 11:1 tells us that “Faith assures us of things we expect and convinces us of the existence of things we cannot see.”  Then verse three goes a little deeper by further explaining that “Faith convinces us that God created the world through his word. This means what can be seen was made by something that could not be seen.” (God’s Word ©) 

So, there have been many days where although I may not have had to physically exert myself in Piper’s care as I have to do on other days, depending on how she is doing on any particular day, I still find myself exhausted in the physical, mental and emotional realms.  That I believe is the effects of the “tearing” that is going on in me!

When I did a quick search and brief study of the word “tear” with my Bible Study program this morning using my favorite God’s Word © translation as my foundation, I learned that this word is used 81 times throughout the Bible.  In most of the verses it is used to describe the forceful and deliberate “tearing” down of the false idols of the people who inhabited the lands that the Israelite’s were fighting against or the “tearing” down of false idols in the lives of the people of God.

So, just maybe among a few other things, the Lord is instructing me to take a deeper look into my own life and perform whatever demolition that is necessary so that any dependence left on the natural side of me is totally yielded to the spiritual side?  Hummm… that will be a fun road to traverse (?!), but at this point I am ready for almost anything! 

What I did begin to understand yesterday and again this morning though, is the reality that although I have been up against a constant battle between what I see with my eyes and what I see through my spirit… that the spiritual side almost always comes out on top! 

There may be… and in fact most times are… some gut-wrenching feelings and thoughts as I look at my pretty wife and fight off the glancing nightmare that says “Gee, she looks terrible this morning,” only to have those thoughts quickly driven off with stronger and stronger revelations of the truth of God’s Word that cause me to pray “…Our Father, who is in Heaven, Hallowed be Your name.  Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth (IN PIPER) as it is in Heaven” and then recall 3 John 2 where the Holy Spirit has John write down God’s will declaring, “I pray that you prosper and be in (sound) health, even as your soul prospers.” 

Then there’s Matthew 8:17, I Peter 2:24, Mark 16:17-20, and all the miraculous healings that Jesus performed during His earthly ministry with the promise that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever,” and many more throughout the New Testament along with all the Old Testament promises of healing!  It is these promises from the truth of God’s Word that always prevails in me throughout the “tearing” process I find myself in on a regular basis.

With a laugh, I turned to Piper out in the yard yesterday afternoon and stated, “It’s all that Word that we’ve been putting into us since we came back home to California in 2009 isn’t it?”  And that thought made me recall back when I was still working at Home Depot and I would leave her a detailed note each day telling her about the food I had prepared for her lunch and a long list of healing scriptures for her to recite throughout the day until I got home!

So… yea, there is definitely a battle going on... and at times it feels as if I am being torn apart between the two realms of the natural and spiritual, but if there was no battle going on… I guess I would be concerned that we weren’t doing enough for our Heavenly Father that would frustrate the enemy of our souls and cause him to make trouble for us!   I'd much rather us be a thorn in his side by being fortified with the Word of truth than the hopelessness that goes along with NOT actively Believing in, Standing on, and living out a life that is Faith-filled, Word-fortified, Expectant in disposition, and Joy-full with each breath and step along the way of life!

So, what would you do in my circumstances?  Which side would win the daily battles in your life?

Have a good weekend, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “Whose side would I expect to win within the daily circumstances of my life?”

PS:  My birthday party was fantastic!  The steak dinner was delicious and the cake... Oh the cake - Yummy, Yummy!  I haven't had sugar or more than 20 carbs a day for over 2 months... so the cake was quite a treat... although I did have a headache all day yesterday!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Big Whoop!

So… I was in the bathroom getting ready for bed last night when I looked up at the image I saw in the mirror, had a momentary thought about the significance of the next day and simply uttered: “Big Whoop!”

You see… today is my birthday.  But not just any birthday… it’s the big 65!  I am now an official Medicare card carrying senior citizen… “Big Whoop!”  Right?  As I looked at myself in the mirror, all I could think about was how everything is just not the same anymore since my wonderful, full-of-life wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s back in 2010.  “Big Whoop!”  Another dumb birthday without her engaging smile, encouraging words, joy infusing and highly contagious laugh and that look of love in her eyes when she would look deep into mine. 

So, I’m 65… “Big Whoop!”  What’s to celebrate?  Why even celebrate?  What’s the use anyway?  Blah, blah, blah…

Then as I was moving full speed ahead into quite a production of all the things that weren’t the same, of all the things that I thought were wrong, I suddenly heard a voice inside of me… and it was a very familiar voice that made me immediately shut up and take notice to what I was about to hear.

What I heard was clear and concise: “Why don’t you STOP complaining about what you DON’T have and concentrate on what you DO have?”  And that was it… but you know… I didn’t need anymore!  That one statement said it all and was exactly what I needed to hear!

So, without any further ado, I immediately began to look at my image in the mirror and declare what I do have, which included the fact that my lovely wife is still with me, that the Lord has blessed us with four wonderfully caring kids along with their spouses and the grandkids, that we live in a beautiful house on a beautiful piece of property in a beautiful scenic and quiet location, that we have one of the best medical care teams working with us for Piper’s good, that we have some of the best friends and extended family in the world, that all of our physical needs are abundantly met, and even for our big, goofy and wonderful fun loving dog who sheds his long hair all over the house and on every piece of clothing we own BUT ALSO tends to keep me laughing over his daily antics… and the list went on and on and on!

By the time I went into the bedroom, gave my wife another goodnight kiss, climbed into my bed and then turned out the light for the night, I was a changed man!

This morning as I headed down the hall to get the coffee going, all I could think of were Paul’s words of encouragement to the church at Thessalonica when he wrote: “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (I Thessalonians 15:18 KJV)  And I remind you once again that this verse DOES NOT say to “Thank God FOR everything” but to “Thank God IN everything…”

So, in other words, even though my head wants to shout out “Big Whoop!” and complain about everything that’s different, my spirit man on the inside of me can actually THANK the Lord for His hand and plan IN the midst of everything, DESPITE everything that is going on that seems to be totally wrong!

Paul seems to have taken the same attitude that king David took in Psalm 34:1 when he declared in the midst of some mighty rough times that “I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” (KJV)  That word “continually” infers actions that are “constant and regular with continuity.” (See Strong’s and Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew dictionaries) I thought it interesting that the modern definition of “continuity” is “the unbroken and consistent existence or operation of something over a period of time.”  In the movie making business it describes “the maintenance of continuous action and self-consistent detail in the various scenes of a movie or broadcast.” (Oxford online dictionary)

Continuity in a movie makes sure that everything is the same from scene to scene.  So that what used to be common in the 1970’s and 80’s when a car suddenly changed from one model to another just before a crash scene (think C.H.I.P.’s, Knight Rider, Dukes of Hazzard, etc), or an actor’s article of clothing like a coat is on in one scene and off in the next … doesn’t happen anymore!

I think that the example of continuity in a movie is also applicable to a person’s life as well!  By being consistently THANKFUL in everything, our attitude, our joy and our faith has a lot better chance of staying strong no matter what we face throughout the course of a day.  After last night… I know it works for me… for I quickly went from “Big Whoop” to a Big Thanks! --- And on the positive side… I get to go off my diet and enjoy a BIG piece of chocolate birthday cake that our daughter Jamie is baking right now!  Now that is a Big Whoop-ie!!!

What do you think?

Have a great mid-week, and as you do, keep saying aloud: “What am I expecting to BE THANKFUL for today!” (and don’t forget to answer the question throughout the day as well!)

Monday, March 12, 2018

What Will You Find?

I found myself feeling a bit empty and sad last Friday after listening to a discussion on one of the two Fox News shows that my wife and I usually watch each day.  The panel was debating the latest update on the TV personality that had made fun of Vice President Pence’s strong Christian faith a few weeks ago. 

It seems that the head of Disney, which is the parent company of ABC, personally requested that the individual who made the comments on national TV call the Vice President and apologize for her words.  The President in his normal gracious manner accepted her apology but also asked that she would make a public apology to all the sincere Christians that she offended.

When they broke off for a commercial, I told my wife that I felt that the Fox panel missed a golden opportunity to talk about their own personal Christian faith and what it has meant to them, but… 

I know that at least three of the regular hosts on the Fox show are church-going people and would profess to be Christians.  But by the time they went around the table and each panelist shared their thoughts, all I could do was lower my head with that same sense of emptiness that I had felt at times before I met my wife in high school and began to have my eyes opened through her life, to a vivid example of what it is to have a joyful, satisfying and victorious life in Jesus Christ.

What I saw and heard instead, was people who have an intellectual knowledge of who God is, and with a respect of God, try to live in agreement to Biblical teaching and Christian principles.  What I didn’t see was a deeply held personal connection with the One who came to this earth some 2000 years ago and forever changed the course history!

I don’t know… maybe my wife and I are just a little different or strange when it comes to the way we have lived our lives… but yet on the other hand, we know quite a few others who live their lives with the same excitement for the things of God as we do.  What do you think?  When we step into a situation that is overrun with difficulties, most times we don’t see a problem but an OPPORTUNITY for God to be God in it! 

When speaking of receiving salvation and any other promise of God for that matter, the Apostle Paul explains that “Therefore it is of faith that it may be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those of the law, but also to those of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all,” (Romans 4:16 EMTV)  In other words, we are able to take hold of the things of God by faith… because of or based on  His Grace toward us.  Not through our own good works, sweet words or kind thoughts, but because Papa God provided for our righteousness before Him through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross!

Grace is normally defined as God’s extreme and unmerited favor toward us.  But when I think about God’s grace, all I can think about, see and feel is His LOVE toward us!  When some folks around us came down rather hard against Piper’s and my faith-based actions in the care for her failing health, it was God’s LOVE, through His grace, that picked us up and carried us through some of the most difficult times in our lives.

When things get tough in your life and everyone and everything seem to be turning against you, trust me when I say… it will be your intimate experiential knowledge of God’s LOVE and His grace FOR YOU PERSONALLY that will get you through. (See Ephesians 3:19)  That’s what made me feel a little empty for the folks who were attempting to share their Christian beliefs on TV the other night.  That strong foundation of personal experience with the deep things of God just didn’t seem to be there!

I’ve also seen that same void in the lives of people that I always thought to be mature Christians when hardship touched their lives.  It’s easy to be a Christian and operate on the emotional outside of a situation while sharing some of the wonderful promises in the Word with others who are experiencing difficulty in their lives.  But it is a whole different story when difficulty hits home and becomes a very personal experience…

How do you think that you would respond?  Would you find His Hope, His Love and stand with the EXPECTATION of His Word working for you, or would you find an inner void where His Word and His Love should call home?  The best way to guarantee the discovery of His Word and the experiential knowing of His LOVE and grace inside of you is to keep stuffing His Word into your heart on a daily basis!

Like I KEEP saying… His Word in Piper and I has been the ONLY thing that continues to keep us strong and focused when everything else is screaming DEATH!  Sound harsh?  I guess it is… But His Word and our experiential knowing of His Love and His Grace destroys the harshness of a life without Him!

Have a wonderful week!  We’re supposed to get some snow this afternoon… Whoopee!  I might even have to put on some long pants before Fiver and I go out and play in it…  But whatever your weather forecast… keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting to find in me when difficult times come?”

Friday, March 9, 2018

I Can Do That... Really!

With everything going on with my wife’s health, I have spent a lot of time while caring for her, thinking about our life together.  Yesterday it kind of dawned on me that Piper and I have always thought a little differently than most others… especially when it came to pursuing a major faith project, a life goal or even when planning a large event for church, at work or with family at home. 

When presented with a proposal to plan and lead something, our first thought… without much initial consideration of the many details involved… was “Sure, we can probably do that…” with the quiet but confident caveat ringing in our hearts and minds that “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13 KJV)

That particular verse of scripture is one of the very first promises we found in God’s Word that we immediately took to heart and put to work in our marriage.  The beginning of Romans 4:16 in the Message Bible paraphrase tells us in plain language that “This is why the fulfillment of God's promise depends entirely on trusting God and his way, and then simply embracing him and what he does…”

Those powerful words seemed to best define our simple faith in God’s Word.  According to this verse, receiving from God is a two-step process.  First, we need to place our entire trust in Him and His ways.  And then learn to go with His flow by simply casting any other influences aside and embrace Him and whatever He does… or calls us to do.

I say that we usually thought a little different than many others in that while we first looked to God’s Word that says that through Him we can do all things, many around us thought us to be rather naïve because we didn’t first consider all the details and how difficult the project would be!  Over the years I’ve lost count of the many times when good meaning people (at least I think they were good meaning…) tried their hardest to talk us out of a faith project that looked to them to be quite impossible or even many a natural project that would seemingly overwhelm them.

Now, don’t get me wrong here.  I am not trying to paint a picture that says we never were tempted at getting overwhelmed in the midst of a project, but we learned some “tricks-of-the-trade” along the way that has helped us a time or two.  Most importantly, that we never ventured too far along the course without stopping to check in with the Boss, by humbling ourselves in prayer and thanksgiving.  These important and regular communication sessions did many things… They helped us to stay founded on God and His Word (by reminding us that we can only complete this task “through Christ who strengthens me” – God’s Word ©), served to keep us calm and on track and enabled us to also keep up with all the other things in our very active lives!

I also learned through the years to keep my daily focus as simple and clear as possible by only concerning myself with one day at time, instead of panicking by looking at EVERYTHING on my To-Do list all at once!  This little trick has helped to keep me strong and encouraged in the daily care of my lovely wife and not get discouraged when certain days don’t go as well as others.

The second part of Romans 4:16 goes on to say that as we do the first part of the verse that “God’s promise arrives as (a) pure gift (ie; through His GRACE).  (For) That’s the only way that everyone can be sure to get in on it.” (MSG)

You see, we can stand and act in faith because we fully trust in God and His ways due to the fact that He, in His Grace, has already provided the promises in his Word to us through Jesus’ finished work on the cross.  For Faith takes what Grace has already provided for us! 

Therefore, when we trust in His Word and act accordingly in the daily events of our lives, we can rest assured that God will do what He says He will do because of His Grace, which is His unmerited FAVOR that's empowered by His unfailing and unquestionable LOVE that He has bestowed on every believer through what Jesus did for us a few thousand years ago.

So, you see… You and I REALLY CAN DO all things through Christ who strengthens us!  It is a gift that He has already provided for us.  All you and I need to do is take a hold of it by faith.  Modern dictionaries define the word “simply” in Romans 4:16 as “straight forward or in a plain manner; unaffectedly.”  I like that!  We simply trust in God and His Word and not allow ourselves to be affected along the way by any contrary outside influences.  It’s as simple as that!

Have a great weekend, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “How simple am I expecting my Faith, which I base on God’s Grace, to be in and for me today?”

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

His Grace

I have many vivid memories of my wife taking the time… whatever time that was necessary, to minister love and grace to our kids.  When I think about the meaning of grace, I many times will picture my 5’ 2 1/2’’wife who may not be real large in physical stature but was always about 105 lbs of compassion and Godly grace… usually all wrapped up in a friendly smile!

I can picture her like it was yesterday when she would be kneeling down next to one of our children, softly and gently calming their emotions, building them up when they felt less than positive about themselves or with something they may have done.  I also recall the many times she would slip her little hand around my upper arm just as I would be heading off to talk with one of our kids, give me that killer-sweet smile and gently remind me to include a liberal involvement of God’s grace in the upcoming conversation.

In this blog I’ve talked about the many lessons that I have learned in life, and especially within the last eleven years as we’ve been involved in the fight for my Piper’s health… but I think the greatest lesson has been centered on my increasingly personal knowledge of God’s love and grace.  I can’t help but go back to Paul’s words in Ephesians 3:19 where he talks about the importance of each of us having an intimate, experiential “knowing” of God’s love which takes us far beyond the limits of our own understanding and thereby enables us to be filled with more and more of God.  (personally paraphrased from Ephesians 3:19 – God’s Word ©)  With that word “knowing” likened in the original Greek to the intimacy that is shared between a husband and wife.

I’ve had some pretty tough experiences when we returned home to California after attending Bible College where I got a very personal look into what it is like to be the target of words and actions that are far from God’s grace.  I would have to say that I had NEVER gone through anything like that before… or since that experience. 

Through it all I came into a clear understanding of what the Lord told Paul when he asked Him to help him through the persecutions he seemed to be facing every time he turned around!  Paul related the incident writing, “And He said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore I will rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may overshadow me.”  (2 Corinthians 12:9 MKJV)

At one of the lowest points in my life, I turned to Papa God and He began to continually and relentlessly pour out His love and grace on Piper and me.  I can honestly say that while I have always had an intensely close relationship with my wife, I never even knew that I could have a similar relationship with God… until I had no one to turn to for comfort, encouragement and strength… but Him!

I discovered during a teaching on God’s will for healing that we were listening to yesterday afternoon, that the word “POWER” in this verse comes from the Greek word “dunamis” which specifically speaks of “miraculous power and implies a miracle itself” (Strong’s)  Do you get the impact of that statement?  God was telling Paul in Bible times and to us today, that when we are weak, He is strong and when we put our trust in Him, we have EVERY RIGHT to EXPECT A MIRACLE!

When it may seem like everything and everyone around you is against and our abandoning you because of wrongs that they may think you’ve done, His grace shines like the bright morning star in the midnight skies… and believe me… that is exactly what His grace has felt like to me over these last few years!  He doesn’t criticize, complain or pass along false stories about you.  Like Piper, He kneels down beside you, takes your hand in His and simply loves on you!

YES… His GRACE is sufficient for you and me!

Have a great rest of the week, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “How much am I expecting His GRACE for me today!”

Monday, March 5, 2018

The Simple Life

I found myself in deep thought on Saturday afternoon as my wife and I travelled along Piney Grove Rawls Road in the midst of the wide expanse of fields being turned in preparation for the planting of tobacco in the weeks to come.  It was another clear and beautiful North Carolina day with the temperatures hovering in the low sixties.  We were on our way into the small town of Fuquay-Varina in the county slightly north of our home to expereince another shopping extravaganza at the Super Walmart.

But at that particular moment I was lost in thought about my faith!  As we drove past a lone brick farmhouse that seemed to be in the middle of nowhere, I suddenly turned to Piper and said: “You know… the older I get and the more mature I grow in my faith, I seem to have an increasingly simplistic understanding of God and His Word!” 

After some 35 plus years of hands on experience in the ministry, Bible College and countless seminars and college level classes covering children, youth and music ministry beginning just a few weeks after our marriage in 1975, you’d think that I might have a more intellectual view of the Christian faith.

But the opposite is true!  As I have grown up in the faith and experienced the trials and victories of life… including and especially through the last eleven years of fighting the good fight of faith for my wife’s very life, I am beginning to see many of the do’s and don’ts of the understanding of my religion a lot less black and white… and more within shades of God’s grace.  I am continually learning to simply except God’s Word for what it says… and NOT try to intellectually explain it within the limited reaches of my own understanding.

As I meditated on this subject earlier this morning, I almost immediately found myself going through my Bible search program so as to find the verse where the Apostle Paul boldly and lovingly declared to his readers that “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the POWER of God unto SALVATION to everyone who BELIEVES…” (You can find that verse located in Romans 1:16 MKJV)  I think that this verse perfectly summarizes Paul’s simplistic understanding of the Word and his child-like faith in God.

For him… as well as for me… the entire Word of God can be simmered down to the POWER of God for SALVATION that is available to anyone who simply BELIEVES in Him!  C.I. Scofield defined the Greek word “SALVATION” as referring to “safety, preservation, healing and soundness.”  He also went on to explain that “Salvation is the great inclusive word of the gospel, gathering into itself all the redemptive acts and processes.” According to both Strong’s and Thayer’s this includes the whole man or women, covering all aspects of our spiritual, physical, mental and emotional lives!

So YES… it really is as simple as that!  God loves you and me SO much that like a good father, He wants to bless us not only with eternal life, but also right here and now on this earth.  And sure, we have trials and tribulations in this life, after all, John 12:31 informs us that Satan is the prince of this world… and while we are here we obviously have to deal with him… but glory be to God, our heavenly Father has given us the tools within His Word to fight the good fight of faith… and WIN!

So… while some may think of me as being naïve in my life as well as in my faith (I’ve actually been accused of that…), I’ll just keep doing my best to march forth “from faith to faith: as it is written, the just shall live by faith.” (Roman 1:17 MKJV)  I would much rather believe in a God who is filled with love and grace and has the POWER for my daily salvation, than in a world system which seems to be more and more corrupted by man’s limited, intellectual and un-Godly understanding of life.

How about you?  Have a great new week, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “Who or What am I expecting to BELIEVE in today?”