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Monday, January 22, 2018

Never Never-Land or Vision?

While I was making the beds and cleaning up our bedroom late yesterday morning, I found myself mulling over our Pastor’s sermon about the Christian’s need to have a vision.  Among many other scriptures he used Proverbs 29:18 as a foundation for his point.  This verse reads: “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” (KJV)  A modern version tells us that without vision “the people cast off restraint,” (ESV) and yet another that “… the people will lose self control.” (ERV)

I had to laugh at the modern translations as that seems to be exactly what we are seeing among many people in the world today.  This verse makes it pretty clear (at least to me!) that the correct vision to hang onto in this life comes from God’s will as found in His Word.  Without that ever-before us, we can easily get off track and lose self-control.

I also had to stop what I was doing for a moment and mention to my wife who was sitting quietly in the middle of the room that “We’ve always had a vision for the things we sought to accomplish throughout our marriage… and even before.”  I can remember as a young elementary age kid planning for things in the future.  It was like I’ve always needed to have something before me that I was reaching for in order to keep life interesting, challenging and meaningful to me.

Then when my spunky girlfriend began to introduce me to the Word of God in High School, it just seemed like a logical transition to transfer the directions of my visions from my limited capacity into the hands of what I was beginning to see and hunger for… a strong, mighty, faithful and loving Father God.  And it has kinda been that way ever since those early days in the fall of 1970.

And that thought takes me right back to our discussion of the importance of personal Bible Study time each and every day!  In our last two posts we gave some practical methods for the study of God’s Word and I felt like yesterday’s conclusion of a two part series on vision was another way to stimulate our interest in His Word.

The Psalmist in Psalms 119:114 prayed to the Father explaining that “You are my hiding place and my shield.  My hope is based on your word.” (God’s Word ©)  What he was saying was pretty much the same point as the statement from Proverbs 29:18 above.  A quick glance into the Hebrew and Greek translations will confirm that the word “hope” (as usual) would better be translated “expectation.”  So therefore you could say that “My ‘expectation’ is based on your word” with “word” referring to the “logos” or written word of God. (Strong’s)

The writer is establishing the idea that his expectations in life are solely based on the vision he gains from his daily-increasing familiarity with God’s Word.

From these two verses, one can also learn how to quickly discern the source of your and/or other's vision in life.  When Piper and I were first faced with the reality of what we were up against with the attack in her body, we immediately (if not sooner!) turned to God and His Word for our vision of her health.  There was NEVER any question!  We had just spent three years being saturated in the Word in Bible College and the Church and Christian community we were involved with in Oklahoma.  Other thoughts, reasoning’s or diagnosis NEVER had a chance to sneak in!

When we returned home, I can’t say that everyone responded with the same positive resiliency as we had.  I think the worst year started in late summer of 2010 when I quit my job at The Home Depot to take care of my wife full time.  For us it was simply a matter of continuing to follow the vision that God’s Word was prescribing to us and stepping out in faith.  But we soon discovered that not everyone was agreeable to our steps of faith for it seemed they had a different source for the vision that was unfolding in their understandings.

But, as you most likely know by now, the results of any vision does not always present themselves immediately and ours didn’t either… but then slowly and methodically things began to change for our benefit… just as the vision from the scriptures in God’s Word had given to us back in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

So… what kind of vision for your life do you want to have?  You know Piper’s and my answer to that question… and we have some 47 years of results to prove it!  Is it always easy?  NO!  Does it always work out exactly the way you think it should? NO! 

BUT - through faith, lots of continual expectation and daily communication with the Father through the pages of your Bible - you will eventually see His Will, His VISION and therefore His grace and faithfulness come to fruition in your life.

Don’t wait another day… start today!  Have a great week as you delve into the wonderful truths in God’s Word for you, and as you do, keep telling yourself… “I am excited and EXPECTANT about finding God’s VISION for my life today!”

Friday, January 19, 2018

I Am Expecting to...

Have you ever noticed how the members of the Democrat and Republican political parties in our country seem to talk about current events from two totally different viewpoints?  I’ve gotten to the point that I can almost tell you what a representative of either party will say when asked a question by a reporter.  I even tend to not shake my head anymore when certain retorts seem to completely miss the point of the question being discussed, or their reply seems totally out of step with any logical solution!

I did have to laugh last week when I saw an interview with former President Obama when he made the comment that the people who watch Fox News “are ‘living on a different planet’ than people who consume mainstream media.” (http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2018/01/12/obama-rips-fox-news-viewers-are-living-on-different-planet.html)  What made me laugh was the thought that Fox News continues to be the most watched cable news network. 

A national report from 2017 declared that the “FOX News Channel hit a ratings milestone in cable news by marking 15 years as the most-watched news channel, Nielsen data revealed. In January, FOX News Channel garnered an average of 2.8 million viewers, up 35 percent from the previous year.” (www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2017/01/31/fox-news-channel-marks-ratings-milestone.html)  So my thought was something like… “just who is living on another planet?”

I clearly remember that when some of the false accusations were made against me as I set out to follow what I believed the Lord was instructing me to do (and time has proven this true…) in the initial days of our all-out fight against the attack of Alzheimer’s in my wife, that I could only shake my head in wonderment thinking where in the world did those things come from?  I remember telling someone I trusted that it was like these folks were living in an alternate universe… seeing things from a totally different and false perspective!

With all that in mind, it is important when one sits down to study God’s Word that you see things from the same perspective as the Author of the book!  That is why I mentioned the two prayers from the book of Ephesians in our last post. (“Jump In… Get Wet!” 1/17/18)  In these prayers we preface any study time with a request to God to open up the eyes and ears of our understanding to His point of view.  Unlocking the doors in us to His wisdom, knowledge and understanding!

You see, as a Christian, when you asked Jesus Christ into your life as personal Savior and Lord, your spirit was reborn and the Holy Spirit took up residence in you!*  Then by praying these prayers you are giving the Holy Spirit the go-ahead to lead and instruct you through whatever parts of the Word you are studying that day!  Maybe even more importantly, when you pray these prays you are yielding to Him and in effect, placing your understanding in the same universe or place as His!

Jesus spoke of the soon coming Holy Spirit to His disciples in John 14 and 15 saying: “However, the helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything. He will remind you of everything that I have ever told you.” (John 14:26 God’s Word © - see also John 15:26)  So the excuse of not understanding the Bible kind of goes up in smoke when you yield yourself to the counsel of “The Helper” whose job it is to “declare the truth about Me (Jesus).” (John 15:26 God’s Word ©)

I remember many years ago in the first area I worked in at Hewlett Packard, having a discussion with another supervisor about the Bible.  His first comment was, “Well, I read the Bible once” and then went into detail of how it didn’t make any sense to him.  I replied with many of the same discussion points I wrote of above and he just kind of shrugged his shoulders and nodded!  We worked together for many years and Piper and I became friends with him and his fiancé.  In fact we drove to her hometown in Sunnyvale, California and shot their wedding pictures for them.  It was quite a fun day for us all!

I’m not sure if my friend and his wife ever became Christians as we lost contact when they moved back to the South Bay area (south of San Francisco) but we had many more discussions around this subject up until they moved!  I believe a seed was planted though!

Like I mentioned in the last post, the more you study the Word the better you get at it and the more in-tune to God’s way of thinking you’ll become… and the hunger for more of the knowledge of His will for you will begin to burn in you!

So what do you think?  Have I stirred up a desire to find God’s will for your life?  It is all in His book… Written within its pages is His will for you!  Ah… Go ahead!  Take the plunge!

For beginners I would suggest that you start within the epistle letters that start following the book of Acts as these letters were specifically written to the church.  I might also encourage you to take a look at the preface to each of the books that most study bibles have (again – download eSword where you can get free Bible downloads, concordances that explain many of the words, phrases, and some historical context to the book you are going to read, biblical time maps and much more!  http://www.e-sword.net/).  The preface will give you some background to the writer of the book, the approximate time of the writing, and some history of the times and places mentioned in the book.

I would also suggest that when you read the scriptures that you read it like it is being spoken to you.  As you get into each book you’ll become more aware of the context of the message being shared.  But most of all… Depend on the Holy Spirit to guide you whenever you sit down to study God’s Word!  After praying the two Ephesians prayers, go into your reading with the idea that your understanding has been opened up and that you will receive whatever God wants to teach you that day!

So… have an enjoyable time in the Word!  It is one of my favorite places to spend time first thing in the morning with smaller doses throughout the day and then it’s the last thing my eyes see before I turn the light out each night!  Have fun, and as you do, keep telling yourselfI am expecting to receive Godly understanding, wisdom and knowledge every time I study my Bible!”

*PS:  Remember, this all begins when you accept Jesus and His Spirit comes to live in you… So if you’ve never asked Jesus to become your personal Savor and Lord, I invite you to pray this prayer aloud… and then rejoice at your new life!

“God, I know that, in my lifetime, I have not always lived for you, and I have sinned in ways I probably don't even know yet are sins. I know that you have plans for me, and I want to live in those plans. I pray to you for forgiveness for the ways in which I have sinned.

I am choosing now to accept you, Jesus, into my heart as Savor and Lord. I am eternally grateful for your sacrifice on the cross and how you died so I can have eternal life. I pray that I will be filled with the Holy Spirit and that I continue to live as you desire for me to live. I put myself--my life and my future--in your hands. I pray that you work in my life and guide my steps so that I continue to live for you for the rest of this life.

In your name, I pray. Amen.”

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Jump In... Get Wet!

One of the first places I turned to after Piper was first diagnosed with a form of dementia in 2009 was to books!  Not necessarily ink and paper books, but online research for articles published in the scientific and medical journals that had been written over the years.  I decided early on that I wanted to know as much as I could about this thing that was attacking my wife’s body.  As a psychology major in college I quickly came to realize that everything in this field is based on research and testing with the results being published for the professional field to digest.  One of the things that was hammered into the student’s heads by almost all the professors was the process of investigating the research and how the facts were tested and compiled by the author.

Theories and findings are proven or at least seen as logical or illogical based, many times, on the testing that was done, the amount of subjects tested, the test subject’s qualifications in line with the theorem that is being tested and many such factors and controls put into place that validate the conclusions.

So with that in mind, I felt like I had a decent idea of what I was doing when I set out on my quest.  My initial thoughts for the research was to gain a reasonable understanding of what was going on with Piper’s brain and how to best interact with her as the changes occurred, have some knowledge of what to expect in the future, be familiar with the current avenues of treatment, and be able to converse somewhat intelligently with the various doctors we were beginning to see.

The other unseen benefit of the hours of research that I did and continue to pursue, was to be able to better counteract the information and supposed reasons for the sickness and potential cures that others felt very free to share during the early stages of our battle.  It suddenly felt like many people thought they were an “expert” on the subject!  Things got pretty bizarre for a while there as some family members actually accused me of causing it while other friends and family told me of destructive behaviors that I would “need to watch out for” as well as those who told me of what they “knew” to be the instigator of the disease and the cure for it.

So whether it was blaming me for Piper’s situation or the other incorrect reasoning’s that were shared, my research debunked most of the mis-directions, helped to keep me on a level path and not receive condemnation or needless fears.  It also helped to keep my faith on a strong path as I firmly resolved that the final word for Piper and I would always be what God’s Word says about Piper and sickness in her body.

I guess you could say that this is also the main reason I seek the wisdom and findings of God within the pages of my Bible on a daily basis.  It’s funny, because the more I read of His story, wisdom and plans, the more information I want!  So… how do I accomplish this?  Well, I start off my study time with the Lord in His Word by daily praying the prayers that the Apostle Paul wrote to us as found in Ephesians 1:17-23 and Ephesians 3:16-21.

Verses 16 and 17 in Ephesians chapter one perfectly summarizes what Paul was praying for his readers and what we can personalize and pray for ourselves saying: “I pray that the glorious Father, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, would give you (me) a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you (I) come to know Christ better.  Then you (I) will have deeper insight. You (I) will know the confidence that he calls you (me) to have and the glorious wealth that God's people (I) will inherit.” (God’s Word ©)  The word translated “confidence” in this modern translation is stated as “hope” in the King James Version and would be better served to be translated “expectation.” (Strong’s)

As I personalize these scriptures as if they were written to me, I find myself getting excited about the wisdom and revelation that I am going to find in God’s Word that day and sense a burning expectation building up inside of me to receive and DO God’s best.

By this time I usually have a sense of where He wants me to begin my study and/or the subject He may want me to pursue.  Most times this direction is based on current life events I am experiencing, the Christian teaching book(s) I am reading alone or with my wife, or possibly something the Pastor or another minister that I may follow said that caught my spiritual attention.  So with various Bible translations spread out before me, or since my Bible School days, my (free) eSword Bible Study Program on my computer (http://www.e-sword.net/index.html), and my trusty notebook at my side, I jump in to reading the Word before me.

I’ll explain some more of my process in the next few posts, but to newcomers I might suggest one of the many “Through the Bible in a Year” Bibles available at Christian Book Stores or online.  There are also countless “Read the Bible in a year” plans where you can use your own favorite version to follow.  (To find many examples of these good volumes and plans simply do an online search using the “Through the Bible in a Year” keywords.)

One of the more popular Bible apps for your smart phone or tablet in recent years is “YouVersion” (https://www.youversion.com/).  Through it you can download many different Bible versions in order find the one(s) you like the best, follow multiple daily reading plans, interact with a community of users and much more!  I think many times about when we were in Church in Oklahoma and would glance over to the front row where the Associate Pastors would sit with their Bible’s in hand following the Senior Pastor’s sermon.  I would crack a smile almost every time when one of them seemed to buck the trend and would be following along with the Bible on his phone!

I would imagine that the Bible phone apps have surpassed the online versions that I like to use on my laptop!  I just like having the big screen and access to a full keyboard.  But anyway you like it, there are Bible applications available.  So give it a try!  Do some research, try out the different mediums including a nice paper and ink version… there is something about holding an actual book in one’s hand… at least to me!

Jump in… get wet… and don’t be afraid to get confused at first but keep pursing the wisdom in God’s Word and find out what works best for you!  I’ll give you more hints and ideas next time… but in the meantime… JUST GET STARTED!

Have a great rest of the week!  It’s snowing pretty hard out here right now!  So we plan to stay warm inside and enjoy the winter wonderland all around us!  Stay alert to God’s best for you, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “How EXPECTANT of God’s Best am I today?”

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Daily Bible Study! … Who me... How??

Yes… You’re right!  I am writing my normal Monday blog this week on Tuesday!  As it turned out, we had planned to spend the afternoon yesterday with our daughter in Morrisville (about 40 minutes away) so we had scheduled an earlier time for Piper’s CNA to come by.  Well, she came early, stayed longer than usual and it inadvertently put us behind schedule.  So, hopefully it’s okay that I made the executive decision to write yesterday’s blog today!

For as long as I can remember, I have been drawn to books.  One of my favorite places to spend time is at the local library or better yet, at a Book Fair!  One the first things I did out here was to find the closest library branch and procure a Library Card!  Then a few months later my daughter and my wife and I attended a large Book Fair in Durham, NC.  It was a wonderful experience with three or four large rooms (and/or tents) over-flowing with used, inexpensive books!

I would imagine that my love for books can be traced back to my early elementary summer days when my Mom would take me every few weeks to get a book or two at the local Montgomery Village Branch Library (now long gone) or to the big stone Main branch downtown (built in 1904, damaged and repaired following the 1906 earthquake and then replaced in the 1960’s).  I still have fond memories of one particular incident when we were at the library and I couldn’t find a book I liked and my Mom finally suggested (more like twisted my arm!) to get one that to my young eyes looked quite boring!

Well, you guessed it… after I begrudgingly checked out the book and took it home, I finally gave in and read it… AND LOVED IT!  And while I don’t remember the title of the novel, I do remember that it was the story of a family going through tough times and in particular their young son who learned the lesson of love and giving when they took a needy stranger into their home one Christmas.

So yea, I am drawn to book shelves in people’s houses, spent hours doing homework in the libraries at the Santa Rosa Junior College, at Chico State University and Sonoma State University where I finally graduated with a degree in Psychology with an emphasis in family and adolescent psychology in 1981… and over the years have amassed a nice library of books of my own!

Therefore it makes complete sense that I would have found myself drawn to the 66 books found within the pages of a Bible!  I vividly recall the time as a Junior High student when curiosity caused me to pick up the new Bible sitting on the side table in the living room that a fellow teacher with my Dad had recently given him.  As I thumbed through the Old and New testaments, I discovered that I was interested and felt a peculiar spark deep inside, but readily admit that none of it seemed to make any sense to me… until about four or five years later when a certain spunky, freckled brunette I met in High School introduced me to the One behind those 66 books and began to open up the life-changing and life-guiding meanings found within it’s pages!

As I was getting my wife ready for the day on Sunday morning, I found myself thinking about our long-standing habits of daily Bible Study and how I have been sharing the importance of doing so in our blog posts.  Then it suddenly dawned on me that there may be some of our readers who find themselves in a similar place that I was in when I first picked up that black Catholic Bible back in junior high.  Maybe you have a desire to read and study God’s Word but might not really know how to begin… or you read it but it doesn’t always make a lot of sense to you???

Well, if that’s you, I totally understand and believe me it is nothing to be worried or feel less than confident about!  It’s perfectly normal.  So what I’d like to do is to share some tips, explain a few things I’ve learned in 30 plus years of Christian ministry about the Bible, and suggest a few different ways to embark upon the exciting adventure of a daily time in the Word! 

I have a daily system that I have fine-tuned through the years that I enjoy and seems to work for me, but there are all kinds and manner of Bible study methods and daily Bible reading plans out there.  And in this digital age your favorite Bible translation, reading plan and study programs are as close as your laptop, tablet or smart phone!

The important thing to remember is that the Apostle Paul told us that “Faith comes from hearing and hearing through the Word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17 God’s Word ©)  In other words, the best and according to Paul, only way to develop and grow our level of Biblical understanding and practical faith is by the regular “hearing” of the Word of Christ (ie; through the daily reading our Bibles and listening to its truths taught by the abundance of wonderful and solid ministries that teach the Word – including the number one source of your local church fellowship).

Another benefit that I recently mentioned in another post is Paul’s encouragement to Timothy when he explained the need to teach the Word to his congregation by qualifying the importance of the Word saying that, “Every Scripture passage is inspired by God. All of them are useful for teaching, pointing out errors, correcting people, and training them for a life that has God's approval.” (2 Timothy 3:16 God’s Word ©)  God’s Word contains the direction, support and wisdom that we need to succeed in our daily lives.  Jesus Himself called it, “The Bread of life…” (John 6:35 KJV).

So don’t be afraid to jump in and get wet!  It’s a plunge that you’ll never regret!  I’ll start sharing more of this on Wednesday (as I watch the snow that’s supposed to blanket the area tomorrow) and together we’ll experience the wonder and power of God’s Word.  Have a great week, and as you do keep asking yourself… “How am I expecting to grow in my FAITH today?”

Friday, January 12, 2018

Food Gone Bad... PHEW!

Many years ago my wife asked me to tell her that I loved her every day and as far as I can remember, that is one request that I have never failed to fulfill.  If anything, I usually mention those three special words from the depths of my heart multiple times a day!  I believe she wanted to be reminded that our love for each other is new, fresh and stronger each and every new day.

Even though the effects of Alzheimer’s has negated her ability to respond to me much anymore, I continue to tell her how much I love her each and every day.  On some days the most special moments for me are spent kneeling down next to her chair, holding her hand, looking into her still bright brown eyes and telling her how much I love her.  Every-so-often I’ll catch a little spark or a moment of a glow in her eyes from deep inside that lets me know that she is acknowledging my words to her.

Those daily words and intimate times of holding her hand are some of the things that keep me going through the roller coaster ride that we have been on since those first tests in the summer of 2007 in Broken Arrow Oklahoma.  Words cannot describe how blessed I am to have had such a special and close relationship with this wonderful women.  I was looking at one of her many pictures that I have framed on the walls in our dining room the other day and began to tear up as I thanked Papa God for her.  What really got to me at that moment was the realization of how much the Father must love me by giving me this wonderful, beautiful, smart, holy and all around spunky partner in life.

The oneness of our relationship through the years has been one of the greatest aspects of dealing with all the changes that have occurred in her through this personality stealing disease.  Because we have been so close, it has been easy for me to see and hold on to all the other indicators she may show through her eyes, body movements, an almost unnoticeable nod of the head, or the way she’ll sometimes slide her hand into mine and hold it while I am physically adjusting her position in her chair.

I believe that the closeness that Piper and I continued to develop since those first heart-fluttering days in High School in September of 1970 is similar to the type of relationship that every Christian should be developing between them and God from the first days of their relationship together.  And just how does one develop that kind of relationship with God… I’m glad you asked!  Through the pages and adventures found in His book, the Bible.

The Apostle John called Jesus the Word of God at the very beginning of his gospel declaring that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1 KJV)  In a personal letter to his protégé and fledgling Pastor Timothy, Paul reminded him that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man (and woman) of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (II Timothy 3:16-17 KJV) And John summed it all up in the last book of the Bible in his revelation/vision of Jesus when he described Jesus as wearing “clothes dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.” (Revelation 19:13 God’s Word ©)

So if Jesus is the Word of God, how else then would one get to know Him than through His Word!  And on top of that… Paul told Timothy that the other benefit of studying the Word was that it “is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man (and woman) of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

I was trying to think back to when I started studying the Word on a regular basis and figured that it had to be when we began attending a small church meeting in a large motel in the early 1980’s.  Pastor Doug was a great teacher of the Bible and brought forth such depth and meaning from its pages that I remember being overwhelmed with excitement, expectation, hunger and zeal to know all I could about Jesus!  So, today, like I’ve said in many a post, I cannot even fathom what it would be like without a day that begins in personal time with Him in His Word.

Another Pastor we served under once taught that the Bible is like an onion with many layers.  It never gets old, it stays fresh and current to the events happening in your life and it always has His answers to the questions you face.  Therefore… in answer to the question I proposed at the end of Wednesday’s post (1/10/18  “Diet Plans…”), I believe that it is important for us to spend some meaningful time in God’s Word on a daily basis.

Which reminds me of Moses and the Children of Israel in the wilderness when God sent manna for them to eat.  Moses instructed them to go out each morning and “gather as much as you can eat.”  But he also warned them that “no one may keep any of it until morning” as it wouldn’t keep fresh.  But you know people… some of them did it anyway but were rudely awakened when they discovered the next morning that the left overs were “full of worms and smelled bad.” (Exodus 16:15,16,19,20 God’s Word ©)

Have you ever experienced the shock of opening up a container of some special food you saved and are blown away by the terrible stench of food that’s gone bad… Phew!  Well, I think that Moses’ words to his followers are a type and shadow of us reading the written Word of God on a daily basis.  I have found out that when the tough times come… and they do eventually come to all of us… that I don’t want to be depending on a stale revelation from God’s Word.  It works a lot better for me when that revelation is fresh and new to that day.  It not only taste better in the situation I’m facing, but is also a lot more powerful in helping me to stand for the victory I need in that particular circumstance.

So… what will it be for you?  Stale… old PHEWY revelation… or FRESH and empowering for what you are currently staring down?  And please don’t give me the excuse that “I don’t have the time…” I have also learned the hard way through the years, that all of us always tend make time for what is important to us!  It is all a matter of personal priorities!

So… have a great weekend even if you have to make some minor (or major) priority changes in your life in order to spend more time getting to know God in His Word.   And as you do, keep asking yourself… “How much closer am I expecting to get with my heavenly Father as I spend personal time with Him alone in His Word… today?”

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Diet Plans...

Over the last week or so, I have been transitioning into a Low Carb High Fat diet.  Our oldest daughter and her husband have been living proof to the validity of the LCHF lifestyle for a few years now and the results are amazing.  They both look great, have lots of energy, run/walk the occasional 5K race, are in good health and tend to be great sources of information for anything one might need to know concerning the LCHF/Ketogenic or Paleo diets.

I dabbled with the diet a few years back but got distracted and reverted back to my old eating habits.  In the weeks leading up to Christmas though, I began to realize that I needed to make a few changes around here!  I had gained a few extra pounds, and for months I had been waking up tired, sore and lethargic.  And by the time I got Piper to bed at night I felt like I was ready to collapse!  Now, I am sure that the constant stress, concern, and physical care for my wife, or the getting up numerous times a night to check on her doesn’t help, but I felt like I needed a change and this seemed to be the right way to go!

As far as the LCHF diet/lifestyle goes though, one of the enemies to the Ketogenic process is carbs in the form of starch and therefore BREAD in its various forms… and I really have enjoyed my muffins or bagels in the morning, a sandwich at lunch and a delicious potato with dinner… and don’t get me started on my love for Pasta!  I think I could literally eat it every night.

On the positive side, I have been getting pretty bored with my cooking and the menus I have been preparing over the last few years.  What I REALLY miss is my wife’s cooking!  But either way… I was ready for a change… for something new!  And you know… after less than a week I have actually lost a couple of pounds and more importantly (to me) I feel a lot better already!  I am more alert and energetic in the morning, I don’t feel bloated and haven’t experienced any more lightheadedness. 

So… even though it has only been a short while and I still have a lot to learn and understand concerning this new lifestyle, I am a happy camper and enthused about experiencing the long term results!

But… what about the BREAD?  Well… I’m learning that there are many non-grain, minimal carb substitutes that are actually quite good.  Jamie has made some of these and brought them over and I must admit that I was surprised that it wasn’t a normal grain/flour based food.

But as we have been talking about in this blog lately… There is another kind of BREAD where there are NO available substitutes.  Jesus talked about Himself saying: “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never become hungry, and whoever believes in me will never become thirsty.”  I’ve found that His kind of BREAD has a two-fold purpose.  First of all it is the nourishment that our spirit-man not only longs for but also requires in order for us to grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Father God, the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit who empowers us.

Secondly, the greatest side effect of a well-fed spirit man is a mentally and physically stronger, wiser, more alert, and increasingly spiritually sensitive individual who is filled with the joy, expectation and AMAZEMENT of a life excited about seeing the things of God happening in, through and for their daily activities.  I have come to the place in my life where I can tell fairly rapidly when I need to stop what I am doing and spend some time in the Word of God. 

This is a trait that I definitely picked up from my wife!  You could ask any of our kids and they will tell you how their mother would suddenly stop their schooling activities when personalities began to clash or when things seemed to slow down or become confused and begin to praise the Lord, read some scripture aloud, or gather them around the piano to sing a worship song or two.

I am very happy to say that this kind of BREAD is one that can only do good things for you and me!  To me, this BREAD of life” is the very foundation of a Christian’s life in both the physical and spiritual realms.  When things tend to go south in the daily care of my wife, I find the most efficient pick-me-up to be a few moments in God’s Word.  It is the best and most long-lasting tonic that I can suggest… from personal experience!

But… just how often should we get some Word?  Well… that’s a good question that we’ll talk about in our next post later this week.  But in the meantime… Enjoy an experience in the Word today… and as you do, ask yourself… What am I expecting from my personal time studying God’s Word today?”

Monday, January 8, 2018

Going Beyond...

I realized early on in my relationship with my wife that she tended to see things a little differently than most people.  Well… maybe not necessarily differently, but beyond the obvious point of the subject being discussed.  I’ve mentioned before and still stand firmly entrenched in the validity of my comments that Piper, hands down, is the most spiritually sensitive individual that I have ever known.  She has always had the ability to see both the physical and spiritual sides of just about any conversation or event happening around her.

In the early days of our marriage she would always sort of stun my family at family gatherings when she would interject a spiritual aspect to whatever was being discussed around my parent’s large dining table.  Let’s face it, they really weren’t sure how to take Piper.  She fit in well with my gregarious family because of her great sense of humor, constant sweet smile and effervescent personality.  But then again, she stood out because of the way she naturally combined her faith with her daily life.  I was raised as a strong Catholic with the idea that one’s faith is a private matter and not shared in public.

Receiving “that” call from my mother after gatherings where she would tell me how other family member’s complained that Piper spoke about “religion” too much were common during the first few years of our marriage.  But you know, in the last few years of my Mom’s life when Piper was going through some of her most difficult times as the effects of Alzheimer’s was taking its toll on her, my Mom became her greatest champion, in concern, prayer and with daily inquires asking how Piper was that day and seeking to know how they could help us.

I fondly and emotionally remember us visiting my folks one day at the assisted living center they had recently moved to (to which she was not real happy about!), and my Mom immediately put aside her own cares, sat down on the couch, tapped the spot next to her and said, “Come and sit next to me Piper.”

Piper would also surprise her own family with similar interjections of her spiritual insight during conversations around their kitchen table or while sitting on the couches near the fireplace.  They would tend to pause in the midst of the discussion, consider what Piper said and then take on her thoughts and continue down that lane of conversation.

Piper’s life was always a smooth and finely intertwined interaction of the physical and spiritual realms.  She seems to really exemplify a saying our Pastor in Oklahoma always used as he declared something like: “When the natural and supernatural come together there is a mighty explosion for God.”  To tell her to stop interjecting her “religion” into a conversation would be like telling a fish to get out of the lake and live on dry land!

I never really cared for the W.W.J.D. movement in the 1990’s.  It just seemed a little too cliché or commercialized to accomplish the intended goal.  But on the other hand, although I can’t recall a time that she actually said those four words, it was a life style that was deeply imbedded in the internal and external make-up of Piper K. Berruto.

Last week as I was studying the Word one morning, I suddenly began to realize that Piper had some good company in the way she tended to respond to the situations and conversations in her life.  I had been following a rabbit trail in my pursuit of being “Amazed” through the Word when I came upon Matthew 4:4 when Jesus was being tempted in the wilderness by the devil.  After the first temptation I was intrigued by Jesus’ immediate response to the tempter when He declared without much thought, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (KJV) 

My focus of this verse has always been on the teaching that Jesus answered every temptation from the evil one with the words: “It is written” and then went on to quote an appropriate verse from His Word.  And while that is still true, I began to see a few additional points that Jesus was making.  My interest grew as I thought about how Jesus referred to life and bread.  The word “live” in the Greek means “to enjoy real life, to have true life, active and blessed in the kingdom of God.” (Thayer’s)

It began to look to me that Jesus was going beyond the natural idea of bread and was bringing the conversation into the realm of the supernatural.  I got the idea that Jesus was taking the conversation beyond the physical realm that the devil was talking about and seemed to be connecting it with The Father’s kingdom.  The idea of “bread,” and living the “true life, active and blessed in the kingdom of God” caused me to think of the Lord’s Prayer that Jesus told us to pray in Matthew chapter six.

My thoughts singled out one verse.  In verse eleven Jesus tells us to pray: “Give us this day our daily bread.” (KJV)  A little study of this verse informed me that most scholars believe that the uniqueness the phrase “our daily bread” brings the idea of bread beyond a physical loaf of flour mixed with eggs, water, yeast and oil.  Albert Barnes’ “Notes on the Bible” states that “The word ‘bread,’ here, denotes doubtless everything necessary to sustain life. This petition implies our dependence on God for the supply of our wants.”

So what am I trying to convey here?  Simply that Jesus, like my wife (or maybe that should be turned around to say: Piper like Jesus…) immediately saw beyond what the devil was saying and quickly added the unseen power and truth of the supernatural into their discussion… which caused the deceiver to rapidly back-pedal and move on to his next temptation. 

That truth is then cemented in Matthew 6:10-11 when Jesus tells us to pray: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread” where He makes the need to see beyond the natural by adding the supernatural to our daily lives.  That was pretty clear to me as He talks about our need to pray His kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven and connects it with the idea of bread from both the physical and spiritual sides! 

In I Thessalonians 5:23 Paul describes us as three part beings having a spirit, soul and body.  Therefore I would think it to be natural for us to look for and include the spirit realm, as discovered in the pages of the Word of God, in everything in our lives… Wouldn’t you? 

Some (like my wife) just seem to be more adapt at (or maybe have more practice at) it than others… but I’m working on it!  How about you?

Have a great second week of 2018, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “How AMAZING am I expecting to live as I look beyond the natural into the super-natural in the events of my daily life?”