Our New Home

Our New Home
Summer has begun... 100+ and lovin' it!

Friday, January 18, 2019

SAD, GLAD, JOY, PEACE… HUH?


I have had a love for camping for as long as I can remember.  I have a multitude of fond memories of camping with my family throughout my childhood years as well as my adult years with Piper alone and then with our own growing family!  To me, summer is not complete without a camping adventure in the great outdoors.  And if I have my choice, camping would always be first on my list as the answer to the yearly question of what to do for vacation this year!

My Dad also had a love for the outdoors and seemed to be happiest when sitting in the middle of our campsite reading a paper in a folding chair!  My Mom not so much!  I think she put up with the camping adventures for the sake of my Dad and us kids, but longed for the day when they could finally afford a trailer so she didn’t have to sleep on the floor again!  But she made sure that it was fun for us youngsters.  She always had pre-planned camp activities set for us and did seem happy when cooking up some special delicacy over the propane stove for our evening meals.

Piper on the other hand seemed to love camping from the first time we did it alone together as a part of our honeymoon.  Her only camping experiences that I know of before that, was summer camp at Christian conference grounds (in cabins) and a campout or two that she and I organized for our college-career group.  Her family was definitely not into camping although her paternal Grandparents owned a range where Piper spent a lot of time as a child. 

Piper was a lot like my Mom in that she also always planned activities for the kids to do while camping, along with the regular mountain hikes and swimming that was a normal part of our camping adventures.  As the kids got older, I began to put together interactive programs like I wrote for our various youth groups that we could participate in as a family, complete with treasure hunts around the campgrounds, personal Bible study and related activities, crafts and group sessions.  Every-so-often I still find a project or vacation summary booklet that Piper would have the kids put together while at camp or as a “What I did for summer vacation” project for school the following September.

I vividly remember waking up in the mornings when we would be leaving to go on vacation as a kid and even as an adult, full of excitement and anticipation of all the fun we would have!  I felt that same excitement when Piper and I packed up our trailer and headed off to our favorite spot in the Sierra’s for our 30th Wedding Anniversary vacation week alone together back in 2005.  I felt like a little kid again!  It was also the first time in our then 30 years of marriage that we would be alone together on vacation (and not at a ministry conference) for more than a couple of nights!  As it turns out, it was also our last vacation alone together as Piper began to exhibit the early stages of dementia just a couple of years later and life took a drastic curve!

Now that I am in the process of closing out that chapter in our lives by actively preparing our house for sale and then a move to Oklahoma to be near the kids, I think a lot about waking up with that excitement for the pleasurable activities of life each day.  Sometimes it takes quite a bit of prayer, the Word and the knowledge that God “will never neglect you or abandon you” (Joshua 1:5 God’s Word ©) to get me going in the morning with the barest tinge of a smile on my face and some hope in my heart! 

But get up I do each day since Piper’s moving on to glory.  Sometimes I just think about what a pleasurable time that she must be having in heaven and how beautiful she must look now that she is totally set free from all the devastating changes that the disease brought upon her body… and that makes me happy and somehow gives me a positive hope for my immediate future.

I also think on scriptures like Palm 118:24 that tell us that “This is the day the LORD has made. Let's rejoice and be glad today!” (God’s Word ©)  Most of the commentaries that I read agree that the “day” spoken of in this verse is a prophecy for the Gospel age that you and I are a part of right now.  But why does it tell us to be glad?  Well, as I study my Bible, which I fully believe to be the anointed and truthful Word of God, I see that scriptures like 1 Corinthians 15:57 and 2 Corinthians 2:14, Romans 8:37, 1 John 2:14, 1 John 4:4, I John 5:4-5 and Colossians 2:14-15 (to name a few) emphatically describe the VICTORY that Jesus Christ has ALREADY provided for us to have in our daily lives! 

All we have to do is reach out and appropriate it!  But one can’t do that if he or she doesn’t know what the Bible says is theirs for the taking!  Hosea 4:6 informs us that “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” (KJV)  In this particular situation, WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW CAN HURT YOU!

So, underneath it all, that is the main hope or expectation that gets me up in the morning and causes me to put on a happy face!  Because with the knowledge of the victory that Jesus has already provided for me, I have the peace on the inside that allows the JOY that strengthens me (Nehemiah 8:10) to overcome the sorrow that surrounds me.  So yeah… This IS the day or better said the AGE that the Lord has made for me to rejoice and be glad in… because its HIS age and HIS joy that gives me my strength to move into the next chapter of my life!

What do you think?  You understand of course, that if it works for me, it will also work for you!  So, don’t be SAD but choose to be GLAD in and through Him and His promises to you!  Have a great weekend, and as you do, say with me… “I am fully expecting to be GLAD in the JOY that HIS victory has already provided for me, today!”

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

SAD or GLAD?


I mentioned in our last post (“Train Watching” – 1/14/19) how Paul and Silas’ songs of praise, while in the deepest dungeon of the prison, directly affected everyone around them.  If you recall, the scripture reference was found in Acts 16:25-26 where the incident is recounted by Luke when he wrote, “But at midnight as Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises unto God, and the prisoners heard them, then suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed.” (Jubilee Bible)

Well, I couldn’t get that thought out of my mind and woke up this morning thinking about it.  I remembered the story in the book of Nehemiah in chapters seven and eight when the prophet Nehemiah led a contingent of the Children of Israel back to the now decimated city of Jerusalem after a time of captivity.  It should have been a time of great rejoicing and merry making but instead the people began to cry and wail as Ezra the priest read from the book of the law to them.

Nehemiah knew that this was not a time to be SAD but GLAD and spoke to the people saying:Go, eat rich foods, drink sweet drinks, and send portions to those who cannot provide for themselves. Today is a holy day for the Lord. Don't be sad because the joy you have in the LORD is your strength.  So the Levites calmed all the people by saying, "Listen. Today is a holy day. Don't be sad."  (Nehemiah 8:10-11 God’ Word ©)

One important lesson I have learned over the years is that there are definite times to be GLAD (or full of expressive joy) and a few times to be SAD.  Believe me as I have been fighting that battle extensively over the last four months since the passing of my wife.  I also know that the SAD times should be on the temporary side of life while the JOYFUL times should be more of a lifestyle among those of us who trust in the Lord.

Scriptures like Psalms 28:7 and Proverbs 17:22 along with a plenitude of others, give credence to that statement.  The Psalmist declared: “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped; therefore my heart greatly rejoices; and with my song I will praise him,” while the writer in Proverbs boldly stated: “ A joyful heart shall do good like a medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.” (Jubilee Bible) 

Now, as far as one’s JOY affecting those around you goes… Well…I had to learn this the hard way!  I’ve written on many occasions of how that JOY was an active part of Piper’s and my relationship and lifestyle.  It was an automatic default that we fell back on whenever the tough situations of life came upon us.  But… When we first came back from Oklahoma and the devastating diagnosis of Piper’s health began to become clear, everything in my life seemed to spiral downhill in almost an instant… and I found myself alone, without the discerning wisdom of my lifelong partner to help me make the difficult decisions and stay full of JOY, for the first time in some 39 years!

During those first three or four years I tried my best to keep up my JOY.  I did figure out real quick that my level of JOY depended upon our level of the Word that we put into us on a daily basis.  But it was still hard!  I discovered that it was a lot easier to be JOYFUL around strangers out in public and with the many new doctors we began to visit than around some close to us.  I mean, we had a checker at our local Safeway that went out of her way every time she saw us in the store to come over and talk to us, and Piper in particular.  There was also a Pharmacy Technician at CVS that did the same and spent literally hours helping us on the phone with our doctors and insurance company in straightening out all the new prescriptions that Piper needed to take.

But some close to us found it a lot easier though, to be SAD instead of GLAD when it came to dealing with Piper’s condition.  And I admit that I didn’t help the situation much in those early days.  I just expected things to be different, was frustrated, confused and hurt and it took awhile to understand the situation and what I needed to do to not only keep up our JOY but to protect my wife from the way the SADNESS physically affected her.  I did finally learn to keep a smile on my face, and a positive and JOYFUL attitude.  I also figured out that in order to help alleviate the pressure, I needed to be very selective in the information I shared.

Once we moved out here though, it was different.  In a new place, with new friends and acquaintances (along with a lot of personal growth, understanding, and trust in the Lord and His Word) it was easier to be JOYFUL, even during the times when Piper’s needs were greatly multiplied.  I also began to realize how my JOY came with an anointing of peace that quickly helped others in our presence to relax and lean toward the faith that we were projecting.   

The Hebrew definition for the word “SAD” in Nehemiah 8:10 is “to fabricate or fashion something in a bad sense; to worry or to be angry or to grieve.” (Strong’s)  That explanation helps us to understand why SADNESS can have such a devastating effect if left to continue.  As I read that in my study time yesterday, a light went on in my head and I suddenly understood why the SADNESS we encountered was so overwhelming toward us… especially in the early stages of our battle when we were still sorting things out and just beginning to fold in specific elements of God’s Word into our daily stand of faith and action plan.

I also realized that SADNESS can affect those around it in a negative way just as does JOY in an uplifting and positive manner when projected through an individual or group.  But you know?  If I understand the Word correctly, then I know that JOY is part of the fruit or nature of the Spirit and is a vital part of the born-again Christian. (See Galatians 5:22)  Therefore, JOY contains the life and light of God and according to John 1:4-5 this light “shines in the dark, and the dark has never extinguished it.”

Now, don’t get me wrong.  There are times in our lives to be SAD, (as I have been dealing with concerning the pain of losing of my wife), but it is not to be a lifestyle and/or a defense mechanism or default setting in order to not have to step up and deal with the situations of life. Trust in God and His Word is the answer to the SAD times.  It is that trust and the JOY in the hope and expectation that it develops in us is that is the key to making it through the hard times of life successfully.

Is it always easy?  I would say emphatically NO!  But from my personal experience, I would say that it ALWAYS does seem to work!  So, go for it!  Don’t just TRY IT but DO IT!  Turn that frown upside down, put your TRUST into HIM and His Word and let His JOY begin to percolate in and through you unto others today!  Have a great rest of the week, and as you do, laugh with me and say… “I am expecting the JOY of the Lord to be my strength today!”

Monday, January 14, 2019

Train Watching


I was flipping through my recent photos on my phone last night when I came upon some pictures that I had taken while waiting for a train to pass through the intersection in one of the historical downtown areas of Fuquay-Varina the day before I left for Oklahoma for Christmas.  I’ve been infatuated with trains for as long as I can remember.  To me they symbolize exploring the untouched beauties of God’s creation, the vast vistas of the prairies, breathtaking mountain views and the working backsides of cities that are hardly ever viewed by the town’s population or visitors alike!

It turns out that our little town is somewhat of a hub for trains coming and going to the coastal areas of our fair state.  And while there is not a lot of activity, there’s always a pretty good chance that you’ll see the local train on the tracks in the center of town, right across from the CVS we frequent!  There is even a spur line to Fayetteville and the large nearby Army base that runs right in front of our country neighborhood.  So, if you’re into trains, this isn’t a bad spot to live!

One thing that impresses me about trains in general, is that they are big, powerful and loud!  Even though I can’t see the tracks from my house which is located in the back of our neighborhood, I can hear and feel it coming well before it sounds it’s whistle in preparation to crossing the road directly in front of our street.

And as I read from Acts 16:25-39 this morning telling the story of Paul and Silas in prison, I couldn’t help but compare their heartfelt praises unto God with that of a passing train!  Verses 25-26 tell us that “at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.  And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed.” (KJV) 

Can you imagine what that must have felt like!  My house will literally vibrate the closer the train gets, but it definitely doesn’t shake to the point of jarring doors open or triggering any of the safety devices that keep the cabinets closed.  I’ve been through some fairly strong earthquakes in California that did that, so I have a slight idea of the impact described of their praises!  It kinda makes one seriously think about what could happen if and when they personally engage in some powerful and prayerful praises to God, doesn’t it?  It sure does to me!

The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary explains that the literal translation of these verses is that they were “praying, were singing praises”; that is, while engaged in pouring out their hearts in prayer, had broken forth into singing, and were hymning loud their joy.”  So, you can see that it all comes back to a verbal expression of the joy that filled their souls!  I continue to be assured that our joy is a powerful tool in the life of the Christian man or women.

Looking back over our recent personal experience only serves to confirm this truth to me!  I can clearly see how our joy was an important ingredient to the strength and perseverance in our stand of faith.  I believe it is one of the reasons the Lord had us to move out of California.  It was imperative for us to be in as constant an atmosphere of joy that we could be in and there were limiting factors back home.  Out here we had the opportunity to establish and somewhat control a regular environment of praise… which I believe we took full advantage of.

I went into our bedroom a few moments ago and found myself unconsciously singing out the words to the simple song of praise that Piper wrote many years ago saying:

♪ Praise, praise, praise, praise the Lord,

Praise, praise, praise, praise the Lord,

Praise, praise, praise, I will praise the Lord,

Praise – the - Lord! ♫

And I couldn’t help but laugh and suppress a tear at the same time as I exclaimed aloud, “Boy, I sure sang THAT song a lot in this room over the last 3 years!”  I think I sang it to Piper almost every time we walked into the room… for sure the first thing in the morning and the last thing before we went to bed at night!  For praise was always an important part of our relationship and it was vital for me to keep it up throughout her time of need!

According to Paul and Silas’ documented experience, their JOYFUL PRAISE was more powerful than that of a passing train.  It not only set them free and totally turned around the situation they were faced with, but it directly affected everyone around them as well!

WHEW!  Think about that the next time you find yourself in a pickle!  My first reaction in times of need is usually that of PRAISEwhat about you?  Have a terrific week, and as you do, think about saying with me, “I am expecting PRAISE to be the new power in my life… today!”

Friday, January 11, 2019

Roof Top Experienes...


Back in the summer of 1979 I took a temporary job at a local furniture store in order to earn some extra cash for the family budget.  My wife and I were trying to start our family without much success so in the meantime, we thought it would be good to have some extra padding in our savings for what we were hoping was going to come about. 

By this time Piper was working in an office at the Santa Rosa Junior College while I was the Youth Minister at our church and the owner of a fledgling photography business specializing in weddings and outdoor portraiture.  Neither one of my positions were shall we say… “cash cows” so we figured that a little extra income couldn’t hurt.  Especially since I was going to be gone on a two-week long ministry trip taking six of our youth back to Wisconsin for a national youth conference planned toward the end of the summer.

So, I took the job doing whatever they needed me to do at the contemporary furniture store located in downtown Santa Rosa.  This meant that I spent most of my day unloading trucks, unpacking and moving furniture in and out of the store, dusting (and re-dusting multiple times a day…) the displays, and making deliveries.  One day the owner asked me to go up on the roof of the two-story building and cover the skylights with some of the thick, transparent packing material which came in long rolls. He figured that it would cut down on the heat coming in from them that made the temperature uncomfortable in the store.

I didn’t realize when I dragged that huge extension ladder across the parking lot… as there was no roof access from within the building… that I was about to experience an event that I would remember for the rest of my life!  To make a long story short, after almost toppling the ladder a few times, I finally got it situated and steady and slowly started up… one haltering step at a time!  I actually did okay until I got to the top and had to transition from the ladder, over the two-foot ledge and back down to the rooftop.

You have to remember that I was still pretty young in my Christian walk even though that I’d been in the ministry for almost four years by then.  I didn’t know a lot of the Word as of yet, but did have a rudimentary understanding of scriptures like 2 Timothy 1:7 where it declares that “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” and the encouragement of Philippians 4:13 that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (EMTV)

And while I am fairly certain that those two scriptures came into play at some point while I found myself precariously frozen at the top of the ladder with a birds-eye view of the downtown area, the first thing I clearly remember was PANIC!  I thought that if I go forward, I’m going to fall to the ground while trying to get over and onto the roof and if I went back down, that the ladder would probably move and I’d end up with the same result… a blob in the empty parking lot!

I have to tell you… many things crossed my mind in that moment of time!  After what seemed like an hour but was probably not more than a minute or two, I finally began to calm myself down and thought… “Get it together here Jim!  You have a job to do, so put your faith into practice, put aside the fear, trust the Lord and get it done!”  And somehow… and to this day I do not remember how… I found myself standing on the roof and unrolling the packing material that I had previously tossed up there.  I also don’t remember going back over the ledge and down the ladder but I did it… and when I walked into the store the owner simply thanked me as he knew nothing of what I had gone through… although he probably noticed my bright red and sweaty face!

So, what happened up there?  Well, to begin with, James 1:3 tells us “that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” (EMTV)  Therefore it was a test and (hopefully) the results produced another measure of endurance or patience as some of the other translations say, in me!  But as I look back at that experience (which I actually have many times throughout my life), I realize that it wasn’t necessarily my instant dependence on the power of God’s Word that got me passed the fear attack, but FAITHFULNESS! 

My first thought was that “I HAD A JOB TO DO” and that it was important to me to finish the task that had been entrusted to me.  My foremost desire was to be FAITHFULL to the responsibility and to the one who gave it to me.  If I was totally honest with you… I was not always real fond of the boss.  He was usually pretty calm and helpful until any pressure arose… then he tended to get nervous and scream and yell directions along with a few comments thrown in that were not always very encouraging.  And if I continue to be truthful here, I was the target of some of those tirades on more than one occasion.

So yeah, it wasn’t the easiest job in the world, but I did my best to stay faithful to it.  When I left that position to accompany the six students to their conference and the separate leadership sessions that I was to attend, the boss and I left on good terms.  One positive thing about the job was that I rode my ten speed to work almost everyday and got myself in fairly good shape before taking on Amtrak, six youth and two weeks of adventure, alone without my wife!  And when I returned, it only took a few weeks before we came back from the doctor’s visit telling her folks that their first grandchild was on the way!

Galatians 5:22-23 teaches us that the fruit of the Spirit, or the “spiritual nature produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, FAITHFULNESS, gentleness, and self-control.  (and that) There are no laws against things like that.” (God’s Word ©) Therefore, you see that it not only is a mark of the Christian character in you but when acted upon has no law that can come against it!  In other words, FAITHFULNESS almost always produces favorable results!

I somehow sensed from practically day one of Piper’s and my relationship, that I could trust her for I just knew that she would always be FAITHFULL to me.  Then in her greatest hour of need there was never a doubt (on our behalf) that I would be FAITHFUL to her and at her side in caring for until the very end… no matter who or what tried to take me away from that responsibility.

FAITHFULNESS to me is like a badge of honor.  It is also a God-given gift of blessing to the responsibility and to everyone you are FAITHFULL to.  It takes personal commitment, unquestionable follow-through and at times great physical, emotional and spiritual strength, but the rewards far exceed any amount of effort and or discomfort that one puts forth.

Have a wonderful weekend, and as you do, say with me “I expect to be FAITHFUL to my responsibilities and to those I love today!

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

What the Dog Taught Me...

While deep in thought at the dining room table this morning as I pursed the treasures in God’s Word, I suddenly caught some movement from my peripheral vision emanating from the front storm door.  When I turned to look, I caught a couple of grey blurs out in the street and noticed my 70 lb Aussie mix who was leaping to his feet… and I knew immediately what was going on!  There had to be a dog coming down the street that runs perpendicular to our home.

In this particular case is wasn’t just one dog but two adorable Malamute youngsters who stopped at our property line when they saw Fiver standing at the front door.  Then acting as if life is just one big romp, one of the dogs took a quick peek back at his partner and together they bounded across our grass and leaped right up the porch steps to the front door.  By then I was kneeling next to our dog on the other side of the glass so that I could get a close-up seat to the action, as I knew that Fiver wasn’t going to sit by idly!  To which I was right… As soon as they approached the front door, Fiver got aggressive and lunged at the door…

And I almost fell over backwards laughing as the two younger dogs tucked their tails and ran off the porch, across the lawn and back onto the road, where they stood for a few moments catching their breath.  But Fiver didn’t give them much time to get their bearings as he sounded a couple more of his deep barks and they turned and high-tailed it, running in tandem toward their home at the end of the block!

When I finally stopped laughing enough to gather myself up off the floor (one sure can’t say that life with me is ever boring!), I returned to the dining room and to my Bible study.  I was in the middle of writing down 2 Timothy1:9 when I was distracted with the dogs. 

In this portion of scripture, Paul is instructing his young protégé Timothy by explaining that the God who “has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind,” and to “not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord,” is the same One who has “saved us” and “called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time itself.” (2 Timothy 1:7-9 EMTV)

As I picked up my mechanical pencil and continued writing down the verse, it occurred to me that God had a specific plan and purpose for each one of us that He designed before time ever existed!  Piper often talked about scriptures that referred to God’s knowledge of us before we were in our mother’s womb or during the creation process while we were growing in the womb, so the idea of God knowing us before time existed carried a little extra significance to me.

Fiver’s interactions with the two dogs this morning got me to thinking that he was just doing the job that God planned for him and most other dogs to do… that of protecting their house and their owners.  He was always very protective of Piper whenever the hospice folks came by.  He had to be in the room with them when they assisted Piper and kept a friendly but watchful eye on them!

According to our verse in 2 Timothy 1:9, it’s pretty clear that God has also already thought about the plans and purposes for each of our individual lives.  But where as Fiver simply reacts with the innate instincts that are in his DNA, God has given each of us a free will to hook up with His purposes for us or not!

Since my wife’s passing, I have been more than just a little unsettled with what my future may hold for me.  When she departed this world, suddenly everything that we had ever planned, dreamed and considered together for our future was over!  What do I do now?  Where do I go… Well… I go to Him because the Word says that I still have a calling, that’s not necessarily based on my personal talents, giftings, education or experience, “but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time itself.”

Sounds good right?  But how do I find out what that plan and purpose is and then how do I attain it?  I do it with great diligence by consistently seeking Him in His Word and in prayer… until I get some answers!  And I tell you, that this has NOT be an easy thing for me to do!  In the past, I always had someone (ie; Piper, the kids and/or the congregations we served) that gave me my purpose and ministry in life.  But NOW it is just me!  Maybe it is the way I have been programmed over my adult Christian life, but doing all that just for me sounds a little bit selfish… wouldn’t you think?

I started to get some breakthroughs yesterday in this department though!  The Lord began to teach me about the role of faithfulness in our lives.  He unfolded before me the entire timeline of every ministry position that I was ever offered, every secular job and just about everything else I’ve done over my adult life, including the last ten years and my faithfulness in caring for my wife.  Then He informed me that just because Piper is gone, nothing has changed.  "Now," He said, "it is time to be faithful to you!"

I’ll explain some more about that in our next post, but it surmises to say that faithfulness in doing whatever you do, where ever you go and in the way you stick to the Godly characteristics you carry within yourself as well as with the Word you know and live, is a major key to success in life… and in fulfilling God’s calling for you.

I can look back in life today and see how faithfulness promoted me and also the times that I wasn’t as faithful that led me into difficulty!  What about you?  How faithful are you to those in your life?

Have a great mid-week, and as you do, say with me… “I am expecting to continue to be faithful in every area of my life so that I can be God’s blessing to those that I interact with today.”

Monday, January 7, 2019

Who Are You?


Have you ever had one of those times when you’re praying about a particular course of action when you are suddenly sidetracked in a seemingly unrelated direction?  I had one of those times this morning.  While standing before the mirror with a face full of Gillette shave gel, razor in hand and hot water streaming from the tap, my sincere prayer for added direction for my proposed move to Oklahoma boomeranged into thoughts of my sweet wife… so what else is new… right?

But this time it was different.  Somehow, I could tell from the onset of the switch that there was going to be a lesson attached to it.  The pictures in my mind's eye changed from images of packing up and moving into a new place in another state, to the earliest of days when Piper and I began to hang out together in high school.  Once that scene came into focus, my first thoughts were that there was always something special about her.  But it wasn’t just a physical or emotional attraction… it was the aura that seemed to surround her.

From the very start I had a sense that she was different and it caused me to always have and want to treat her with the greatest of respect and honor.  Being around her seemed to accelerated my growth from a carefree teenager to a young man that had a wonderful responsibility in life!  We did a lot of crazy things in those first few years but I knew deep inside that there was definitely a line of honorable conduct that I had to keep when with her… and its not like we ever discussed it in those days either.  There was something about her that simply elicited that behavior in me toward her.

When I finished shaving, I sat on the bed to put on my socks and while there began to stare at all the photos of Piper that I still have on the wall next to the bed stand.  As I perused all the shots ranging from her SRJC days to the early 2000’s, I couldn’t help but say to the dog laying patently at my feet that it was almost as if she were… royalty!  But again, it wasn’t a physical or social thing as I didn’t see it in other family members or friends and to be perfectly honest, I don’t believe it was just my infatuation at the time with her either… for the older she grew the more that sense about her seemed to increase!

And then it hit me!  Royalty… that’s it… It was like she was a daughter of a king!  Which is exactly what she was… and still is!  She’s the daughter of the King of Kings!  In fact, she’s in His very presence today!  Back then and for years after, I had no idea what that was all about but then I began to learn scriptures like 2 Corinthians 6:18 where Paul says that “The Lord Almighty says, "I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters."  Or I John 3:1 when John wrote: “Consider this: The Father has given us his love. He loves us so much that we are actually called God's dear children.” (God’s Word ©)

Now I realize that many of the memories that I write of Piper might seem to make it like she walked on water… but truth be told… she was a normal person with personal faults just like you and me!  She wasn’t always the most organized person in the world and had a sometimes-maddening tendency to wait to the last minute before completing (or sometimes starting…) school projects or church presentations with our kids.  I have many fond memories of her and the kids working deep into the night sewing costumes for church activities or plays or putting together presentations for the annual Arts & Crafts Fair for our homeschool families... the night before the event!  And don’t get me started on the quarterly reports required for the school we were connected with!  Those memories are fond to me now… but they weren’t as fond when they were happening!

My point being that while she was a normal woman on many fronts… she knew EXACTLY who she was within her legal position as a Christian standing “In Christ!” (for more details please study Paul’s prayers to the church in Ephesians 1:15-23 and 3:14-21)  I can recall many conversations that I eavesdropped on between Piper and  young Christians when the conversation would turn to the false belief that as a Christian we are “just an old sinner saved by grace!” where Piper would painstakingly explain the definitive truth of God’s Word to them where Paul explained without reservation “if any man (or woman) be in Christ, he (or she) is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (I Corinthians 5:17 EMTV)  

As Piper walked in her Christian standing according to who the Bible says we are, so should all Christians walk.  She wasn’t any different than you or me in this regard.  I think… no I know… that the enemy of our souls does his best to make us feel less than special or important or smart or strong in this life… but remember Jesus Himself called the devil “the deceiver of the whole world” in Revelation 12:9 and “the father of lies” in John 8:44.  So whose word are you going to take on the subject! 

Therefore, I encourage you to get into the Word and get to know EXACTLY who you are in 2019!  Your life will never be the same!  Have a great new week in this new month in the beginning of this New Year!  And as you do, say with me… I am expecting to get to know EXACTLY who the Bible says I am IN CHRIST throughout 2019!”

Friday, January 4, 2019

Who Do They See?


I am not one to disagree with the Word of God.  Both my wife and I always tended to take the Word pretty literally within the context of which it was written and/or its agreement to God’s nature and way that is congruent throughout the whole Bible.  But as I was speaking out my New Year’s theme and confession that is based on I Peter 1:8 yesterday morning, I suddenly had to stop when I realized that I couldn’t really say what Peter was professing!  But before you go off thinking that I am heading onto some outlandish blasphemous tangent let me explain…

The verse tells us “Though you have not seen him, you love him. And even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy.” (I Peter 1:8 ISV)  My point of contention came when I read this scripture and quite rapidly pictured that young teen age girl back in September of 1970 that almost immediately absconded with my heart.  Okay… Okay… I may not have physically seen Jesus… but I DEFINITELY saw Jesus in her… and He was shining as brightly as the warm Indian Summer day that was occurring at that time of year back in Santa Rosa, California!

At that time in my life I was hungry for the things of God but my strong Catholic background gave me very little detail about Jesus the Son of God.  We celebrated His birth at Christmas and His death and resurrection at Easter, but other than that I never really learned who He was nor of the purpose of His appearing on the earth in human form!  And then at seventeen years of age… well this may sound a little cliché… but along came Piper!  

I don’t need to repeat how she lived her life except that I quickly came to realize that it was almost like Jesus and her were one in the same.  I’m not trying to say that she WAS Jesus but her life, her thoughts, her mannerisms, her words, her personality and her actions vividly demonstrated the Jesus that I serendipitously came to know as I began to know her and study the Bible that she gave to me!

New found scriptures like 1 Corinthians 12:27 and Ephesian 1:23 where the Apostle Paul writes “You are Christ's body and each of you is an individual part of it,” or “The church is Christ's body and completes him as he fills everything in every way.” (God’s Word ©) began to take on a curious interest to me!  Over the decades since those beginning years of my Christian faith, I have often times heard it said that “The only Jesus that some people may ever see might just be you!”

So, while I do understand what Peter was saying in 1 Peter 1:8, I by no means take it as an excuse for not living Jesus wherever I go and whom ever I may be with.  It was easy when Piper and I were locked in faith for the healing of her body over the last ten or so years.  We had chosen a course of action and were driven to see it through.  To us, every thing we did or said was of vital importance, a matter of life and death as we found ourselves “casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ,” (2 Corinthians 1:5 EMTV)

But now with that stand of faith completed, the pressure has lessened!  Today as I seek to find my new purpose in life, I know that I need to retain the same dedication and presence of mind to be like Him as I walk this new path!  How are you handling your presence or maybe better said... His presence... in your everyday life?  Are you a Piper in someone else’s life?  I know that I am committed to keeping her legacy alive throughout the rest of my days!  How about you?

Who do people see when they look at you?

Have a great weekend, and as you do, say with me… “I am expecting people to see Jesus in me as I go out into my world today!”