Our New Home

Our New Home
Fall is in the air!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

OH!


I have received my fair share of bad reports… okay, maybe more than a fair share of bad reports… over the last ten years as my wife and I have walked this journey over the battle for her health.  I have sat in doctor’s offices in three different states and listened to medical professionals tell me everything that is wrong with my wife's health and explain how there is no medical cure for her.  And although they try to keep a neutral look on their faces, I can see the hopelessness in their eyes as well as with their entire staff each and every time we walk out of their offices.

I have endured that same look at every federal, state or county benefits office that we have been to on both the west and east coasts.  I see it almost everyday in the eyes of the people we pass at the stores we frequent, with our neighbors, and although they are always outgoing, smiling and positive, in the hospice team that comes multiple times a week to care for and medically check up on Piper.  I have even sat through family gatherings that felt more like a visit to the mortuary than they did a holiday celebration.

So, without really having to explain, one can see how the most uplifting parts of my day are when I read and study God’s Word and fellowship with Him.  Whether it be through the pages of my Bible, the multiplicity of Christian teaching books we are reading, TV ministers, confession sheets, conversations with other Christians or in prayer and praise, I find that I look forward with great anticipation, excitement and expectation for the healing balm, joy, encouragement and faith building that I receive through the truth and power of His Word.

After rebuking an evil spirit in a man at the synagogue in Capernaum, Mark recalled in Mark 1:27 that the people present that day “were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him.” (KJV)

I can relate to the way those folks must have felt that day, not that I find myself asking “what thing is this” when I read the Word because I know what it is.  But I do find myself being more and more amazed as Papa God continues to reveal new depths of understanding to the truth of His Word that I/we may be reading at any particular time throughout the day! 

Since the beginning of the new year I have felt led to write “We are being AMAZED in 2018!” each day at the top of the page of my personal Bible Study notes.  Then I’ll jot down Luke 2:18 where we are told that “Everyone who heard the shepherd’s story (ie; the beginning of the Gospel message told by the angels when Jesus was born) was AMAZED!(God’s Word ©)  Those words work to quickly renew the sense of expectation and amazement in me for the miraculous things our heavenly Father has planned for us for that new day! 

Wuest’s Word Studies gives interesting insight into the word “amazed” in Mark 1:27 and astonishment in verse 22.  He explains that the Greek for “amazed” is:

“thambeō "to be astonished, amazed, to be terrified, to be frightened." Their amazement was mingled with fright and terror. Mark uses ekplēssō for 'astonishment' in verse 22, which means 'to be struck with astonishment to the place of panic and loss of self-possession.' These two words are graphic in their description of the reaction of the synagogue crowd to the impact of Jesus, His teaching, and the miracle He performed.”



I believe that he is telling us that the people in the church listening to the words of Jesus were physically, mentally and most importantly, spiritually moved that day.  Dictionary.com defines the action of being “amazed” as “to fill with sudden and over powering surprise or wonder.”  Can’t you just see that happening to the people when you read the entire story in Mark 1: 21-28?  That’s the same thing I look forward to feeling every morning as I get up and face another day within the realm of the situation that Piper and I are now living in.  What about each of YOU?

Right smack-dab-in-the-middle of all the hopelessness that I face on a daily basis, I find the Word of God to be the uplifting and faith-generating source of life for me.  I’ve grown to be expectant of the AMAZEMENT it brings to Piper’s and my life!  I noticed the other day that I find myself stopping regularly throughout the day and saying, “OH!” when I hear various new revelations from the Word while reading, talking about or listening to the Word being taught.

I had a terrific, faith stimulating conversation with the Chaplin from our hospice team on Monday.  I found myself on numerous occasions during our fellowship together saying; “Oh!  I hadn’t seen or thought about that, like that before!”  Then awhile after he left I pulled out a book entitled “In His Presence” by E.W. Kenyon that I’ve been reading to Piper and had to stop on multiple occasions expressing pause and wonderment over something the author wrote and declared to Piper, “Whoa!  Did you hear that?” 

And later in the evening just before I started to help Piper get ready for bed, we were watching a teaching by Pastor Creflo Dollar on grace when I suddenly jumped off the couch at something he said and proclaimed “Wow… Did you hear what he just said?  That’s why so-and-so reacted the way that they did in that situation…”

So, like I said, I now find myself being AMAZED with God and His Word throughout the day and night.  In my wife’s and my current situation in life, I find that God’s Word and the joy, peace, strength, love, grace and faith that we received from it is the very lifeline of our existence!

With all the hopelessness we encounter on a regular basis, His Word is the breath of fresh air that cleanses and refreshes our vision that the Word gives us.  It helps me to see our surroundings through the eyes of faith instead of the hopelessness that the world displays 24/7!  How about you?  Are you ready to be amazed?

Have a great and encouraging rest of the week!  And as you do, keep asking yourself… “When was the last time that I was expecting to have an “OH!” moment in my daily life?”

Monday, May 21, 2018

It's a Matter of Opinion


I’ve had this little itchy bump right between my shoulder blades for a little over a week.  It was located right in that spot that you couldn’t really get to without some real contortions!  So, I would find myself throughout the day backing up to a door frame and sliding back and forth in order to scratch it!  Have you ever had something like that?

Well, last night when I got out of the shower it was doing a little bit more than just being itchy, in point fact of fact, it was burning!  So, I stood there in front of the mirror turning this way and that in order to try and get a good view of whatever was going on back there!  I even got a magnifying mirror and a flashlight, but to no avail!  I kept thinking how simple it would have been if Piper could have come in and been my eyes where I couldn’t see… a role she played on numerous occasions throughout our lives together!

The only thing I could barely tell is that there were actually two spots and one of them looked like it had a dark scab on it.  Once I noticed that, it dawned on me that it could possibly be a tick!  We had found one on Piper last month and another on the dog a week or so ago.  I finally discovered that if I twisted to my left and pushed my left arm over behind my right shoulder (a regular Houdini right!) that I could barely reach it with my left hand.  Once there, I attempted to scrape at the spot so that I could possibly determine if it was just a scab or something else.

After a couple of tries, I took a peek under my nail on my left hand… and sure enough, there was a little tick attempting to crawl away from its captor!  Well, the escape didn’t work, the critter was sort-of crunched and down the drain he went!  Once the night adventure was over and I was able to put a swab of Neosporin ointment on both spots, I took a few moments to reflect on my thought pattern throughout the incident.  

At first the whole thing just seemed like a big bother to me.  Then it became a quest that at times was injected with thoughts of fear, stressing the possibility that I couldn’t get to it (with visions of some adverse reaction occurring) and had no one at home to help me out of the dilemma.  But you know… when push-came-to-shove, I decided that I wasn’t going to yield to FEAR and convinced myself that it was no big deal… even if I had to make a doctor’s appointment.

Once the fear was pushed aside my whole attitude changed from “I’m not sure I can do this” to “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (See: Philippians 4:13 MKJV)  From that point it seemed rather easy to stretch myself into weird contortions to remove the critter… and I wasn’t even sore after all my antics! 

I was so proud of my actions that I went in the bedroom to share my victory with Piper, but alas, she was sound asleep.  So, I looked down to the dog who was laid out on his bed near Piper’s bed and whispered what happened.  He seemed to be a willing audience and managed to momentarily wake up and look at me with sleep-filled eyes before plopping his head down and quickly returning to slumber-land.

I know that this is sort of a simplified example of following the commands of the Lord, but the principles are the same in any endeavor or touchy situation.  After telling us the importance of speaking the Word and keeping it in the forefront of your thoughts at all times, the Lord through Joshua 1:9 tells us to “be determined and confident! Do not be afraid or discouraged, for I, the LORD your God, am with you wherever you go." (Good News Bible)

This scripture is one of my all-time favorites with the word or idea of being “confident” as the main driving force behind it.  It is a Word of the Lord that I have drawn strength, courage and yes, confidence from in the midst of countless situations throughout the years of my adult life.  Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrews Definitions initially defines “confidence” as “to be strong, alert, courageous, brave, stout, bold, solid, (and/or) hard.”  Then there is a secondary meaning that I really like as it says “to make obstinate.”

The Oxford online dictionary describes being “obstinate” as “stubbornly refusing to change one’s opinion or chosen course of action DESPITE attempts to persuade one to do so.” Dictionary.com adds “not easily controlled or overcome.”

During my little episode last night, I got to the place where I refused to change my opinion that I could do what I needed to do (with God’s assistance) in order to rid myself of the pest on my back.  Piper and I also quickly discovered the same thing as we attempted to seek and follow the Lord’s directions for us in those very confusing first few years at the onset of knowing what was going on with her health. 

In the midst of people attempting to persuade us to follow what THEY uninformedly thought was best for us, I was forced to become stubbornly obstinate in obeying what we KNEW to be the Lord’s best for us, as we believed… and still do… that He has the best overall, far-reaching view of our past, present and future than any individual on this earth.  We’ve also learned that one of FEAR’S greatest objectives is to control or overcome one’s faith as well as the entire situation.

When it comes to our stands of faith, I firmly believe that God knew what He was talking about when He told Joshua before they crossed the Jordan River and in turn, told all of us throughout the following ages, to be Strong, Confident and Courageous and stubbornly refuse to change trusting in the opinion or chosen course of action that He has told us to follow, despite what others may say or do.  What do you say about that?

Have a wonderful week, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “Whose opinion am I expecting to seek and follow… no matter what others may say… today?”

Friday, May 18, 2018

Jumping to Conclusions...


It seemed that I timed the last mowing of our yard before the grass went dormant last fall just perfectly!  I didn’t have to mow again until April of this year.  This was unlike the end of the previous season when I had to pull out the mower after about a month in order to cut down the pesky grass and weeds that snuck up immediately following what I thought was to be the last mowing!

The only problem with this year was that I didn’t run any of my lawn care equipment for almost five months.  In previous years I was really good about starting everything up at least once a month so when the mowing season began anew, everything ran well.  But this year I can’t say the same thing!  When I finally pushed the riding mower out of the shed last month… while dodging the snake that had taken up an early spring residence in there… I changed the fluids, checked over the engine and turned the ignition key… but to no avail…  It would crank a little and stop.

Well, needless to say, I was not a happy camper.  I had what I thought was a similar problem with it during the summer last year and had called on my handy Sears repair man who came out, discovered a loose throttle lever, tightened it up and left me with a well running machine, but not before selling me an extended warranty.

So, my immediate conclusion was that I would be needing to call the repairman again.  The problem was that the front yard was beginning to look somewhat unkept after the winter season and I really wanted to run the mower over the vast lawn and clean everything up.  Like I said, I was not happy and tried to fiddle with the throttle and other parts of the engine but nothing seemed to help.  The one good thing that came out of that initial beginning to the mowing season though, was that I was able to pray, figure out and then fix my self-propelled Toro hand mower that hadn’t run for over a year and was able to mow the unkept looking parts of the front!

My point for this story was that I drew kind of a hasty conclusion about the riding mower.  I was very busy that week with various appointments for Piper and other errands that needed to be run and didn’t have time right away to call Sears.  Therefore, I pushed the mower back into the shed until I had the time to begrudgingly deal with it.  But in the meantime, after I cooled down about the problem, I had a revelation… why not pray about what to do with the mower?

Yikes!  What a thought… A Christian asking God for directions concerning his lawn mower!  And you know?  I did and He actually gave me an idea… So I pulled out the battery and charged it for a few hours on my Dad’s old battery charger that I had recently found in an unopened moving box I had cleverly stored (and subsequently forgotten about) in the garage!  Then after I put it back into the mower... low and behold it started right up and has every time since!

Pretty simple right?  Why didn’t I think about that before I allowed myself to get all pushed out of shape with what I thought was an unsurmountable problem that I couldn’t handle without outside assistance… because I immediately jumped to an incorrect conclusion about the situation without going to God first.  I mean, doesn’t the Bible tell us that the Holy Spirit is our helper (See John 14:26) or that if we need wisdom to ask of God (See James 1:5).  I had the means to a rather easy solution to a simple problem that I had blown way out of proportion!

I get the impression that Mary, the mother of Jesus was not one prone to jumping to conclusions before seeking the Lord and having all the pieces to the puzzle.  Luke 2:19 tells us that after all the miraculous events and out-of-this-world activities that occurred on the night of Jesus’ birth that she “kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (KJV)  Dictionary.com informs us that to “ponder” is “to consider something deeply and thoroughly; to weigh carefully in the mind.”  In other words, to look at every angle of what you are considering.  Look at the good points, the negative points and the indifferent parts of what is being discussed, in order to get it right before making a decision.

My thought is that Mary was a living, breathing example of James 1:19 where the Pastor of the church in Jerusalem told his readers: “Remember this, my dear brothers and sisters: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and should not get angry easily.”  (God’s Word ©) 

She was one of the “Wise people” that Hosea prophesized of when he warned the Children of Israel at the end of his book by declaring “Wise people will understand these things (the Word of the Lord that he gave to them).  A person with insight will recognize them. The LORD'S ways are right. Righteous people live by them. Rebellious people stumble over them.” (God’s Word ©)  Thayer’s Greek Definitions states that the Greek translation of the Hebrew word for “Wise” describes the man or women who “forms the best plans and uses the best means for their execution.”

I like that thought!  It makes me think that the best plans and uses that I can get a hold of come from Godly wisdom and insight… with a little bit of homework by looking into all the facts of the need… wouldn’t you agree?  I’ve been on the negative end of individuals who came to quick and incorrect conclusions that directly affected my wife and I and… “OUCH!” it stung worse than any other sting I had ever received in my life before then!

You know… I could have saved myself a lot of personal grief if I’d only taken a moment, swallowed my pride and sought the Lord concerning how to get my riding mower working again!  You may think that a lawn mower is an inconsequential thing to be bothering God about, but I’ve come to learn through the years… and by watching my wife live her life with a very intimate relationship with the Lord… that He wants us to come to Him with everything that concerns us!

I want to be considered by others as one of the “Wise people” that Hosea spoke of… How about you? 

Have a terrific weekend, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “Whose wisdom am I expecting to seek… and not jump to conclusions before I find it… in my life today?”




Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Head or Heart?


I realized as I was absent-mindedly mowing the backyard yesterday, that over the few years that we have lived in our home that I have already developed a set pattern that I tend to follow when I mow the lawns.  That thought popped into my mind because I suddenly became aware that at that moment I was in the process of deviating from that pattern!  After starting up the mower, putting it in gear and flipping on the duel blades, I drove off with my mind on my wife who was sitting comfortably in the shade on the deck.

She had gotten a little too warm and “a bit” dusty while sitting on the front porch yesterday as I mowed the front and I wanted to make sure that she wouldn’t get too hot and dirty today.  My head finally switched back to what I was doing when I noticed that I was turning behind the play structure in the yard.  At first, I was a little confused because I shouldn’t have been in that location that early in the backyard mowing process.  But it really wasn’t a big deal so I simply finished up the row I was mowing, hit the gas and zoomed over to the correct lane… no harm, no foul, right?

Piper’s adventure yesterday was actually kind of funny... at least to me!  Since we had the water line replaced a month or so ago, there still remains a strip of grass-less dirt where they dug the trench for the new flexible line.  I’ve had to temporarily change the usual pattern I follow when mowing in front as I don’t want the riding mower disturbing the new grass that is SLOWLY and SPOTILY coming in. 

But low and behold, I didn’t think fast enough on my first lane that I was mowing and ran right over one of the larger spots of dirt… which also just happens to be closest to the house, and you guessed it… closest to the front porch where my trusting wife was sitting.  Well… needless-to-say, following my pass, Piper was sporting a nice layer of fine dirt all over her hair, her neck and what used to be a brightly colored red, white and blue blanket that was now an ugly shade of light yuk!  On the positive side though, the CNA from hospice had not yet arrived and she was able to give Piper a good bath when she arrived an hour or so later!

With over ¾ of an acre of property that is mostly covered in grass, I learned rather quickly to find and then follow the most expedient and efficient patterns of mowing with the riding mower.  I remember the first time I mowed the lawn with the brand-new mower back in November of 2015.  I couldn’t help thinking that all my neighbors were probably standing at their front windows with binoculars watching and laughing at me as I tried to figure it all out!

I’ve been mowing lawns as a side business almost continuously since I was in Junior High… but I had never used a riding mower before.  I KNEW all about them as I sold plenty of them in the three years I worked in the Garden Department at The Home Depot.  I’d seen all the training videos, read the manuals, put parts of them together for the show room floor, drove them in and out of the garden department to the front of the store for product placement and even unloaded countless models off the trucks when I managed the receiving department… But I had NEVER actually used one to mow a lawn!

So that sunny day in 2015 must have been quite humorous to observe as I fiddled with all the different levers and pedals and continually stalled it due to all the fail-safe automatic safety shutoffs that engage when the right order of gears, levers and pedals aren’t correct!  Now… three years later and many hours in the driver’s seat have given me the ability to run the machine… most times… without having to think too much as the operation of the mower is pretty much rote to me!

And you know?  The same could be said for the operation of our Christian beliefs in our daily lives.  After the shepherds went back to their flocks following their middle of the night visit to Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus at the stable on that cold night in Bethlehem a few thousand years ago, the Bible tells us that Mary took some time to think about everything that had happened and was shared that night.  Luke 2:19 tells us that “Mary treasured all these things in her heart and always thought about them.” (God’s Word ©) 

As I continued to revisit this portion of the scriptures over the last few days, I came to realize that Mary chose to keep all these things close to her heart.  It says that she “treasured” or according to the King James Version she “kept” and “pondered” all these things in her heart.  Strong’s explains that this action means to combine your speech, your thoughts and your actions all together in considering or consulting, disputing or conferring with one’s self concerning everything that happened.

To “always” think about them suggests that Mary kept the events close together in her, or that she “conserved them from ruin.” (Strong’s)  Mary knew that what was said and done was important enough for her to understand and stand on, so she made an obvious point to bring its understanding beyond the limitations of her head knowledge and become a part of her HEART knowledge.

Piper and I have learned with this attack on her health over the last ten years that when push-comes-to-shove in the midst of very difficult and emotionally gut-wrenching times… that following your head knowledge will falsely lead you to consider the need or situation through your intellect and NOT your spirit… where the truth of God’s Word that you’ve hidden away in your heart resides.

And just like me in the operation of our riding mower… after three years of usage and practice… where I can jump on the machine and mow like a pro…well, most times… After many years of pumping the Word into us and then practicing and living the Word throughout our lives, when the bad news came, we didn’t panic but immediately went where our HEART knowledge led us… right to the truth of God’s Word!

I think that is one reason that I got thrown for a spin when a few others didn’t react with their hearts but with their heads when we begin to follow God’s directives for us.  Their line of thinking was TOTALLY out of sync from Piper’s and mine!  It was kind of like when I suddenly realized that I wasn’t thinking about the mowing when I first started out on the tractor yesterday and was concentrating on Piper’s needs.  I had to stop and think in order to get back to what was going on at the moment.

Likewise, it took me awhile to understand where they were coming from before I could hopefully communicate with them in a more understanding manner.  Eventually though, I came to the point that I realized that I couldn’t allow Piper and I to get stuck where they were.  We had/have a fight to finish and our HEART knowledge of God and His Word was/is the only way to successfully finish the battle!

Mary was able to go through all the pain and suffering she must have felt at Jesus’ crucifixion because of her HEART knowledge of what was really happening before her eyes.  And that firm stand on her HEART knowledge was rewarded when He arose from the dead three days later and was manifested before her and the other disciples!

So, where do your Christian beliefs abide?  In your HEAD or in your HEART?  It takes a lot of personal effort to get them into your HEART… but the rewards FAR exceed the effort!  Have a great rest of the week, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “What and Whose knowledge am I expecting to put into my HEART today?”

Monday, May 14, 2018

Life on the Mountain...


Our neighborhood has 39 houses and consists of two streets and one entrance and exit.  Our home sits at the far end of the main entrance road, right across the street from the shorter second road in our development.  I have heard that 39 houses is the upper limit of the amount of homes allowed in a development in our county before there has to be a second entrance/exit into the neighborhood.  So, you can rightly imagine that our neighborhood is therefore fairly quiet with a minimum of vehicular traffic.

It is also pretty obvious to see a vehicle… usually a large tractor-trailer rig… that made a wrong turn unto our block.  And with our house’s location at the end of the street we get to watch them attempt to turn around in order to get back to the highway.  I always get a kick out of watching the drivers maneuver their truck around without putting it in our ditch or hitting the neighbor’s trees that line the front of his property!  So far, I’ve only seen one driver with what seemed to be an extended trailer finally give up and back all the way down the road to the entrance.

Well, today we had two garbage trucks on the road at the same time.  I counted one time and discovered that our little neighborhood is serviced by no less than six different refuge pickup firms!  Our service company is a smaller family owned company out of Clayton NC, a city south-east of Raleigh.  The other truck out there today was a Waste Management truck.  So, I had to smile a bit as I thought right here on our little street we have the perpetual battle between a large corporation and the little guy… a family owned business!

Since I had just finished my Bible Study when the two trucks roared down the street, I also began to think of the spiritual value of competing garbage trucks.  It was like there were forces competing to take away our Word-based, spiritual mindedness and throw it in the trash…  Okay… so maybe that’s a little far-fetched, but in reality, it is a battle we face on a daily basis. 

I was led back to Luke 2:18 & 20 over the last couple of days where Luke talks of the shepherd’s following their life-changing visit to Jesus at the manger at the beginning of the New Testament.  Their experience is recorded as saying: “(and) Everyone who heard the shepherd’s story was amazed!  (and) As the shepherds returned to their flock, they glorified and praised God for everything they had seen and heard. Everything happened the way the angel had told them. (God’s Word ©)

My first thought when re-reading these verses was that the shepherds were quite amazed and full of praise and wonder as they returned back to their normal lives.  In modern day terms you could say that these men had just had a “mountain top” experience and were now re-entering their regular everyday lives.

That thought reminded me of a conversation I had many years ago when Piper and I were ministering to the youth at our first church in the late 1970’s.  Looking back now, I can see how many people might have thought that we were a little different from most of the members of that Baptist church.  We were very excited for the things of God and took any opportunity we could to be “amazed” by the power and glory of God. 

We started a tradition in our personal ministry back then were we would take the youth and/or college-career groups on a small intimate camping trip for a weekend for a special time of team building, fellowship and a special touch from God.  Since those early years we have gone on quite a few of those exciting campouts!  On the particular conversation I mentioned above, I was talking with a member of the congregation about my desire to keep the “mountain top” experience going in the lives of the youth in the following weeks and months after one of our weekend retreats.

The individual I was with was rather matter of fact in his reply saying simply that it was not possible because “you can’t live on the mountain top but have to return home to reality.”  To him it was a closed case.  He felt that once home, the rigors, temptations and worries and problems of life quickly take away any positive reinforcement you received on the retreat.  But you know… I just couldn’t accept the thought he was conveying… not then and not now!

It took me quite a few years but I finally came up with a process to help keep the fire burning in the hearts and lives of those we ministered to during those small, intimate retreats.  I learned in preparing for a retreat that the retreat starts many weeks before the actual campout and then continues for many months afterwards, back home in our Youth Group’s weekly meetings!

And that is exactly what the shepherds did.  The scripture says that they returned home to their normal lives continually glorifying and praising God over what they saw and experienced while on the “mountain top” in that lowly manger in Bethlehem.  The expression that “they glorified and praised God” means that they “caused the dignity and worth of some person or thing (ie; Jesus and His story) to become manifest and acknowledged (in their personal lives).” (Thayer’s)

We were different to many at that church back then because we would not settle for the lie that one can’t stay excited, expectant and amazed by God and His Word.  Like the shepherds, we chose to keep things stirred up by our lives of praise and worship unto Him.  I like living in a place where there is the expectation of being amazed by the wonders of God… How about you?

The scripture in Luke 2:20 centers around the experience they had just had at the manger with Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus.  I also thought as I read that verse… “Why can’t we have that same amazing experience and joy (ie; a ‘mountain top’ experience) right after we read the word in the privacy of our homes each day”  Hummm… that’s what I want… You too?

Have a great week, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “What is stopping me from expecting to have a ‘mountain top’ experience every time I study God’s Word?”

Friday, May 11, 2018

How Confident Are You?

I mentioned in our blog post on Monday (“Change and Joy” – 5/7/18) that Piper and I rocked the “family tradition boat” more than just a few times over the years!  Since I was the last of the three kids to marry and have a family, I think it was easier for my parents to accept changes by the time Piper and I started to carve our family niche in life.  Piper though, was the oldest child in the family and was therefore the first to shake the “way we’ve always done it” syndrome. 

But like I’ve stated on many occasions, Piper was always a very confident individual.  When she found herself interested in something she would check it out, do some personal investigation with a trip to the library or bookstore (this was before internet access!) and usually made a few calls to people she knew or had heard were knowledgeable in her subject of interest.

Like back in the early 1980’s when she enjoyed baking fresh bread every few days… and Oh… do I miss that delicious bread!  One day she read an article by a Christian woman who discussed the advantages (nutritional value, freshness and lack of opportunity to go rancid, to name a few…) to grinding your own grain as compared to the quality of the flours on the store shelf.  This interested her as she was always watchful that we eat the best food and followed a wholesome diet.  So, she investigated the claims the author was making, found them to be truthful… and went out and purchased a manual grain grinder!  And you know… her delicious bread tasted even better with the fresher ingredients.

We enjoyed fresh baked bread for quite some time until four kids, homeschooling, ministry and life in general edged her baking off the calendar… but we still have that grinder!  Who knows  If you come over someday, you might find me grinding some grain into flour and using the bread baking machine that a good friend gave to Piper many years ago!

Piper loved and respected her parents.  She especially adored her Dad.  But her Dad, at times, could be very set in his ways.  So, when changes were suggested to time honored family traditions, he was not always receptive to them.  But Piper had a way about her with that big smile, joyful disposition and gentle humor that got through to him!  And like I said previously, she also had a humble but yet confident air about her that was contagious to others.  It was a side of Piper that I don’t think her family ever quite realized about her.

It’s almost hard to explain, but when she was confident about an idea, plan or course of action, she had a look, or more like a glow of anointing that NEVER caused me to be anxious or concerned about what new adventure that she (or we as a family) were about to embark on!  In fact, for me, just the opposite was true, as I would find myself excited and expectant about the direction we were taking.

I found myself thinking about all this toward the end of my personal Bible study yesterday morning.  And as I perused the thought in my mind, I suddenly found my hands thumbing through my Bible looking for a scripture that summed up my feelings about my wife’s confidence… and BAM!  There it was…

I John 5:14-15 declares: “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:  And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” 

Piper’s confidence in whatever she did was based on the truth of these two verses.  She was confident in life because she was confident in the truth of God’s Word working for her in whatever she set out to do.  Like I’ve also stated on many occasions, Piper knew/knows the Word!  When we were first dating back in high school, she would explain the Word to me in such a way that it brought deep peace to my hungry heart and understanding and meaning to the practical things in life that we were experiencing at that time.

With every step she took, she first invited God to be a partner with her in the process.  In other words, He was her confidence!  That is why she almost always had a smile on her face, a bounce in her step and just the right word of encouragement at just the right time flowing from her lips.  That’s how she was a great representation of Philippians 4:4 where the Apostle Paul (when he was in prison no-less) instructed us to “Always be joyful in the Lord! I'll say it again: Be joyful!” (God’s Word ©)

Earlier this week as I was getting ready to turn out the bedroom light for the night, I found myself thinking about many of the different things that we have experienced and the rough times we have had since receiving Piper’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s in 2009.  I guess that I might have been feeling a little sorry for myself and felt a strong sadness for some who in my eyes, deserted Piper in her greatest time of need.

Then I gazed up at my image in one of the two mirrors in the master bath where I was standing and quietly sought the Lord asking Him about the validity of my saturating Piper with His Word throughout each and everyday for the last ten years.  And within an instant of time everything that I’ve been writing about above flashed through my mind along with the understanding of how much Piper loved, studied, taught and depended on the Word for everything she did in life… and I heard myself speaking aloud in the dark in our bathroom boldly declaring that “I will NEVER abandon Piper by NOT continually speaking out and confessing with great conviction, expectation and faith, the truth and power of God’s Word over her!  For it is what she would expect me to do in this greatest time of need.  For God’s Word is her peace, her standard, her power and the life-giving source of her very being!”

So yea… Whether she may physically acknowledge me or the Word being spoken over her, it is EXACTLY what she needs!  Today, when I look at her, I don’t see the way that this disease has attached itself to her and changed her lovely appearance… what I see is a strong, confident and joyful woman of God jumping for joy on the inside and shouting “Praise the Lord, Glory to God!” – Just like I’ve heard her proclaim on many occasions as I’ve stood at her side in church, ministering in front of the countless youth and kids over the years, in prayer and praise times alone with her or conversing with family, parents, relatives and friends.

Kind of makes me want to “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say, Rejoice!” (KJV) 

How about you?

Have a great weekend, and as you do, make sure that you NEVER abandon your faith, your joy, your trust and your expectation in the Lord and the truth of His Word!  In fact, ask yourself throughout the weekend… “How expectant and/or confident in God and His Word am I today?”

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The Benefits Program...


Every time one of the folks from Piper’s Hospice group leaves the house they always remind me that if we need anything, that they are available for us 24/7.  So needless to say, I keep their phone number with me at all times.  It is stored away in my cell phone, printed in large letters on a sticker on the refrigerator door and is also on a tag in the car just in case I don’t have my cell phone handy and need to call them through my OnStar system.  And even though I have only had to call them once (late on a Friday evening) in an emergency situation, it is very comforting and reassuring to know that they are only a phone call away!

As a Christian it is also reassuring to know that I have someone to help me in any time of need that is even closer than a phone call away!  With Jesus living inside of me, I am confident of His care for me at all times… and I don’t even have to look for my phone when times of need arise.  In reality, He is closer to me than my next breath!

Piper has been with her hospice group for a little over a year now and during that time I have become fairly well acquainted with all the different aspects that their services entail.  I also have a decent understanding of what percentages and parts of the plan that our insurance policy covers and what it doesn’t.  Keeping up with the different insurance plans we’ve had for Piper over the years has been one of the most involved aspects of her care that I have had to stay on top of since our time in Oklahoma, California and now in North Carolina!

Over the many years of our Christian walk, Piper and I have also become fairly well acquainted with the benefits that are ours “in Christ.”  And how have we done that you might ask?  Well, it is actually quite simple… and believe me… a lot less confusing to understand than most of the insurance policies we’ve had… It is all clearly stated in His Word… and in particular within the epistles due to the fact that they were written specifically to us, the church!  That knowledge of his will gives us the ability to live with a spirit of joy in our hearts on a daily basis… no matter what we may be facing on any given day.

Our familiar scripture in Philippians 4:4 encourages us to “Always be joyful in the Lord! I'll say it again: Be joyful!” (God’s Word ©)  You see, we can be joyful during both the great and not so great times because we KNOW what the eventual solution to any problem will be when we keep our eyes, our mouths and our hearts focused on HIS Word… or to say it in connection to our scripture verse… IN the Lord!

2 Corinthians 1:20 reassures us that “all the promises of God in Him are yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God by us.” (MKJV)  Read that again and then ask yourself: “HOW MANY?”  And the answer is pretty clearly stated: “ALL!”

It is also interesting to see that the word “in” as used in Philippians 4:4 “denotes a fixed position in place, time or state” and comes from a word that “denotes origin or the point whence motion or action proceeds from.” (Strong’s)  Therefore you can picture Paul’s point of Philippians 4:4 as saying “we can rejoice at all times because the origin of what we say and do in the midst of any situation (and its ultimate conclusion) is based on the promises of God in His Word!”

But wait… it gets better!  God puts His icing on the cake by confirming all this and the validity of the new Testament by declaring in Hebrews 7:22 that “… Jesus has become the guarantee of a better promise.” (God’s Word ©) Wow… now that’s a great reason to rejoice 24/7 isn’t it?

I sometimes find it confusing and a bit frustrating when I hear from or see Christian people with a perpetual scowl on their faces or speaking words that are less than uplifting or positive!  What about you?  When one knows what their benefits are in Christ Jesus, they have absolutely NO reason to be anything but encouraged and full of joy… and then want to pass it on to others!

So, chew on all this for a while… and then go out and share Him and His benefit package with others!  Have a great rest of the week, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “Am I expecting to Rejoice 24/7 because of what I KNOW concerning my benefits ‘in Him’?’”