Our New Home

Our New Home
I love all the summer greenery around our home!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Live Life With "Gusto!"

Yesterday we had a preview of God’s definition of “good.”  It would seem that His view far exceeds today’s worldly explanation.  When I worked in the garden department at The Home Depot a few years back, we would go through multiple hours of sales training on new products each spring.  The training normally included the “good, better, best” scenario.  When assisting customers, we were taught to always lead off with the “best”, (in workmanship, capabilities, convenience and corresponding higher price) before mentioning the “better” or “good” models of whatever product we were demonstrating.

From our mini study, it is evident that in God’s eyes, the “good things” that He has NOW provided for us have only one quality level. (once again look at: Hebrews 9:11) This level that He simply terms as “good” goes far beyond the worldly delineations of “good, better and best!”  It is like the Biblical definition of Christ’s love for us.  Ephesians 3:19 says that this love “goes FAR beyond any knowledge!”  (Gods Word ©) The Message Bible exuberantly exclaims this definition as “the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love”

What this all points out, is that we tend to greatly limit our view of the “good things” that God desires to give us.  So with that understanding, you may now be thinking… “Just how do I expand my vision to come up to the sphere of His wide angle view?”  It easy!  The more we immerse ourselves in His Word, the more we will learn of the way He does things and the faster we will renew and broaden our minds in order to see the “good things” from His point of view!  (Romans 12:2)

Doesn’t that thought get you excited?  Just think, you have the ability to see FAR beyond the limited view of life that the world has to offer.  Our Heavenly Father desires FAR greater things for you to experience than even the greatest education in the world could afford for you.  Spending consistent time in His word will cause you to see the world around you in HD quality!  (Maybe even in 3D!)

Ephesians 5:1 challenges us to “Imitate God, since you are the children he loves.”  (Gods Word ©)  Besides living our lives in front of those in the world as examples of the “fruit of the spirit,” (Galatians 5:22-23) this challenge also includes seeing and experiencing the “good things” that He desires for us in the fullness that He has planned.

So I encourage you today, to take a step on “the wild side,” to be bold, confident and courageous (Joshua 1:9) and accept the reality challenge to experience the “good things” that God has provided for us within the realm of His design, plan and definition of “GOOD!”

The world talks about living life “with gusto”  but they haven’t seen nothing yet!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What GOOD THINGS am I expecting today?”

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Breath Taking!

Wow… can you believe that it is just about the end of June already!  Where does the time go?  We’ll be hanging out the flag, getting out the fire safe sparklers (personal fireworks are banned in our county) and celebrating the fourth of July this coming Monday.  I guess that is why it is so important to make sure that you enjoy each and everyday, expecting God’s best with each new dawn.

And speaking of God’s best, my wife and I have been watching a new Christian teaching series on TV the last couple of nights.  What drew my interest was that the minister is talking about God’s definition of “good.”  Being as I have been discussing this same subject here on the blog, I thought that it would be interesting to get her insight on the topic.  In last evening’s segment, the minister began to differentiate between the world’s description of “good’ and God’s.  The explanations that followed really expanded my vision and it caused me to do some further delving into the subject in my morning Bible Study today.

My first stop (of course!) was at our old friend, Hebrews 9:11, where the writer states that “Jesus came as a chief priest of the ‘good’ things that are now here.”  (Gods Word ©)  Strong’s and Thayer’s similarly defined the original intent of the word “good” as something that is “a benefit, useful, excellent, distinguished, joyful and/or honorable.”

One of the rules for Bible interpretation that I learned in Bible School was the “Law of First Mention.”  This principle basically means that one should find and study the first occurrence of a doctrine in order to get its fundamental inherent meaning.  (see: http://www.biblicalresearch.info/page48.html for more info)  So if Jesus is our chief or high priest over the “good” things that are now here for us, I thought it best to go back to God’s first reference to “good” as found in Genesis chapter one.  As you know, this chapter describes the creation process.  Numerous times during the six days of creation, the writer says that God sat back and looked at what he had done and noted that it was “good.”  The Hebrew word translated “good” has the same basic meaning as does the Greek work we looked at in Hebrews.

At the end of the chapter in verse 31 though, we get what I see as the clinical definition of God's view of “good” where it says that “God saw everything that he had made and behold it was very good.”  (King James Version)  According to Strong’s, that descriptive word “very” means “vehemence”.  Webster defines vehemence as something having “great force, derived by velocity, with forcible action, animated fervor or passion, or to carry that is: to rush or drive.” (Webster’s 1828 dictionary – where he normally used a Biblical passage as an example of the definitions)

We’ll look at this a little more in tomorrow’s post, but we can sum up today’s thoughts by stating that God defined “good” when He looked at His creation as something that was spectacular, overwhelming to the senses, and able to give the recipient quite a rush!  Think on that description this day, as you go out expecting to receive the “good things” that God has planned for you.  Let your imaginations soar and your horizons expand in order to see the extraordinarily outrageous, breath-taking “good” things that our Heavenly Father desires for you!  They are “exceeding, abundantly above ALL that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20 KJV) Wow… Isn’t God “good”!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What GOOD THINGS am I expecting today?”

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Expect The Help!

Here’s another quick thought on yesterday’s subject.  I Peter 1: 2 states that “God the Father… chose you to live holy lives with the Holy Spirit’s help” (Gods Word) God’s plan is for the Helper, the Holy Spirit, to help us through out the events of our daily lives.  Since this is His plan, we need to come to the place where we EXPECT His assistance in all that we do.

Earlier this afternoon was a good example.  My wife had yet another appointment with a new doctor.  This time shall we delicately say… it was for an exam that only women get to have.  (Please don’t take this wrong, but after seeing what she had to go through, I sure am glad that I am a man!!!  In fact, I was thinking about nominating my wife for sainthood after that ordeal!)  Needless to say I was not looking forward to this visit, because I knew deep down inside that due to my wife’s condition, I would be called on to assist.  Then I began to think about our scripture and I asked for the Holy Spirit’s help.  Almost instantly a calming peace came upon me and the small still voice inside assured me that all would be okay.

So, I went into that office fully expecting His help, and you know what?  We got it!  We had the nicest two nurses (or technicians?), and my needed assistance in the little room was not such a big deal afterwards!

That’s exactly how our Heavenly Father wants us to approach every situation we face.  With a bold but yet calm confidence because we know that He will be there to help us with whatever is needed!  Before you start your day, simply ask yourself the same question I ask you at the end of every post:  “What am I expecting today?”  If the answer is a little shaky, then take a moment and pray out Philippians 4:6 with your concern, and then FULLY EXPECT Philippians 4:7 to come upon you, knowing that the Helper is on the job!

Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Monday, June 27, 2011

You're Not Designed To Go It Alone!

Do you realize that you and I were never designed to go it alone in this world?  I Peter 1:2 says that “God the Father knew you long ago and chose you to live holy lives with the Spirit’s help…”  (Gods Word ©)

The human body is a marvel in its capabilities and complexities, but yet it only operates with limited potential until the power, directives and abilities of the Holy Ghost are released within its inner man.  This idea reminds me of when my wife and I were looking for a new vehicle, many years ago.  At that time, we were interested in looking for a multipurpose vehicle and with our love for camping, the Volkswagen Westfalia Camper peeked our interest.

After I had done a little research on the vehicle, we decided to go out and test drive one.  Everything was going smoothly until we drove the glossy white VW on the highway.  As I shifted through the gears and gained speed, the vehicle suddenly decelerated.  The salesman smiled at my puzzled expression and went on to explain that the car had a governor on it in order to protect the engine from red line rpms!  That little device immediately stopped the deal as far as my wife and I were concerned.  I could not imagine living with that control on the engine.  And that’s similar to how we are inhibited in our daily lives without the assistance of the Holy Spirit! 

Kathryn Kuhlman, the famous evangelist who held healing crusades throughout the United States and many other countries in the world from the 1940’s into the 1970’s, attributed all of her abilities and what I consider to be, an amazingly successful and prolific ministry, to her relationship with the Holy Spirit.  Her life was seen as a prayer.  Before meetings Kathryn would be seen pacing back and forth with great animation, her face covered in tears as she prayed “Gentle Jesus, take not Your Holy Spirit from me.”  Oral Roberts once described her relationship with the Holy Spirit by saying “It was like they were talking back and forth to each other, and you couldn’t tell where Kathryn started and the Holy Spirit left off.  It was a oneness.”  (excerpts from the book "Gods Generals" by Roberts Liardon, Whitaker House ©1996 pages 295-296)

Look at what happened to the disciples of Jesus on the day of Pentecost.  Those 120 individuals were transformed as the power of the Holy Ghost fell on them and they went from hiding in an upper room to taking the world by storm for the sake of the Gospel!  I believe that this is Gods plan for each of us.  To not only be fully equipped but also fully operational, so as to live our lives successfully for Him. 

So today, think of yourself as the most highly advanced, technical being on the earth… Because that’s just who you are, as you develop and act upon an intimate and powerful relationship with the ONE our Heavenly Father gave to us as our Helper!

Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Fear The Beard!

My oldest son Josh has been a strong San Francisco Giants baseball fan for numerous years.  I have always kept an eye on how they progressed each year, but was never what you’d really consider to be a die hard fan.  My Dad, on the other hand, has followed the team ever since I can remember.  I can picture him working in the garden on sunny Saturday afternoons with the transistor radio (remember those?) perched on the fence with the Hall of Fame broadcaster Lon Simmons calling each pitch. 

A couple of years ago, Josh and I were talking about baseball, and he mentioned to me how much he enjoys listening to the Giants games on the radio, even more than watching them on TV.  The more we talked the more my enthusiasm was peaked.  Since I was commuting daily to the various Home Depot Stores as a Merchandising Supervisor in the San Francisco Bay area, it seemed natural that I should also spend the endless hours on the road listening to the Giants games.  Like Josh, I was soon hooked and began to follow the team with a new zeal and excitement.  Then, with the drive for the Pennant last year, and their ultimate victory in the World Series, I moved into the same league as my older son and Dad!

Last night the team made an amazing comeback and defeated the Cleveland Indians 4 to 3.  The way the victory came is a vivid example for Christians to follow.  Hebrews 6:11-12 (I just can’t seem to get away from these scriptures in the book of Hebrews!) tells us to “remain confident until the end.  Then instead of being lazy (dull, insensitive or stupid – according to Strong’s), you will imitate (or become a contender along with) those who are receiving the promises through faith and patience.” (Gods Word ©)  Faith and Patience… that’s what the team and all us fans had last night as the game progressed.

The outcome of the game was not looking too positive for the Giants through the top of the sixth inning.  The Giants manager pulled their starting pitcher after 4 2/3 innings as the Indians went ahead 3 – 0.  Then at the bottom of the sixth, everything started to come together at the Indian’s expense.  After a couple of Giants singles, the Indians infield sort of fell apart as their first basemen made two errors, and their third baseman stumbled when catching a high fly foul ball which allowed a quick thinking Andres Torres of the Giants to make it home, scoring the winning run.  In a matter of moments the entire momentum and direction of the game took a totally new twist and the stadium came alive with electricity as the fans cheered their beloved team!  Then finally, with every fan standing, the Giants closer, -“Fear The Beard!”- Brian Wilson, came in at the top of the ninth and made another dramatic save, assuring the Giants 4-3 victory.

Wow… what a game.  It kept me on the edge of my seat for many innings!  It just goes to show that you never know how the outcome is going conclude until the final out.  This is the same with our stands of faith.  Where as God’s Word will assure us of the final outcome, we never know for sure, when or how our victory will present itself.  The point being, that just like the players and fans last night, who never gave up, we should never give up until the item that we are believing for comes into physical manifestation.

No one foresaw the errors that happened in the sixth inning last night, but they happened just the same and allowed the Giants to take the advantage and win.  We also, can’t see everything that God is doing in the background while we are standing in faith. Never give up!  Never let what you see that is contrary to what you are expecting cause you to doubt and surrender before you have your victory!

Remember your team… God’s team… is heading toward the World Series, and you can’t be defeated!

Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Personal Radar

Yesterday I spoke of the way that God sees you and me.  I had used the example of my amber tinted sunglasses and the way that they seem to sharpen and saturate the colors of whatever you’re looking at.  Another thing that I have noticed, when wearing the glasses, is that I can see better in hazy skies and therefore pick out objects (ie; aircraft, birds, UFO’s – just kidding!) before they are visible to the unaided eye.

Once again, this is just like our Heavenly Father.  Not only does He see us in the light of His “overflowing kindness” (Ephesians 1:7 Gods Word ©), but He also knows of things that might be coming our way before they enter into our personal range of radar!  However, with that said, we have been given a Helper, One through whom we can connect, that will assist us in knowing the information we need to be aware of.  This Helper is the Holy Spirit of whom Jesus foretold in the 14th chapter of the book of John.

The Apostle Paul tells us that “God has revealed those things to us by his Spirit.”  (I Corinthians 2:10 Gods Word ©) He also said that a person has to be spiritual in order to evaluate what the Holy Spirit tells them.  (See I Corinthians 2:14) I believe that this means that we first, have to be saved, and secondly, have to spend time developing a relationship with the Holy Spirit.  (or in other terms, become more sensitive to His leadings)

Having the sensitivity to spiritually be in tune to His leadings is like my being able to see through the haze when I’m wearing my amber shades!  And just think… you don’t even have to go out and spend a lot of money for a good pair of sunglasses.  You just have to pay the price of spending the time with Him, so as to develop a hearing heart!  Hebrews 6: 11-12 talks about the need for us to keep working hard in remaining confident so that we don’t become lazy.  (Gods Word ©)  That word “lazy” implies becoming dull or insensitive.

Our Heavenly Father has given us all the means that we need to be sharp and alert in the daily occurrences within our lives.  It’s up to us to become proficient with what He has provided for us.  It’s like the members of our country’s various Special Forces groups.  They have the best equipment that the world has to offer, but without the hours of physical, mental and emotional training, the equipment is of little value to them.

Therefore, I encourage you once more, to take a hold of your training manual (ie; the Bible!) and re-establish your workout schedule in order to become that mighty man or women of God that He sees you to be!

Stay tuned and keep asking yourselves “What (Good Things) am I expecting today?”


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Amber Sunglasses

I have a pair of amber sunglasses that I purchased at Walmart a few years back in Oklahoma.  It is amazing to me to see how they increase the color tones and clarity of everything around you when you put them on.  This morning my wife and I went out to take our usual walk around our community’s lake and park-like terrain.  As we were walking down the lane from our house, I commented that the bright sun was hard on my eyes.  So I requested that we stop at our Suburban which was parked on road, and retrieve my sunglasses.  We made the quick detour and then continued on our way. 

Since I had recently worn the glasses while string trimming a customer’s lot, there was a slight green film across the front of the spectacles.  As we walked I endeavored to clean the lenses.  Once the job was complete, I brought the glasses up to my eyes and literally had the breath taken away from me at the dramatic change that appeared before me.  The deep green lawn, trees, and multicolored flowers along with the bright blue sky literally exploded into view through the amber tinted shades.

What instantly came to my mind was that this is the way that God sees us!  Ephesians 1:7 says “Through the blood of his Son, we are set free from our sins.  God forgives our failures because of his overflowing kindness.”  (Gods Word ©) God’s overflowing kindness (or grace) is the filter through which our Heavenly Father views each of us, everyday of our lives.  He observes us as bright, deeply hued individuals that are just brimming over with potential and power.

Dwell on that thought for a moment.  We may think less of ourselves at times, but God sees us like I saw the intense, enriching colors of nature around me through the amber tinted glasses.  It was a beautiful sight!  And you know what… You are a beautiful sight to our God!  He loves you just as much as He loves His only begotten Son.

So… pick up your downtrodden head today, and walk with the knowledge of how our Heavenly Father sees you!  I am sure that when He looks down at you, that He leans over to His right where Jesus is seated and gives Him a little elbow jab to get His attention and then says “Hey, look over there.  That’s my kid… Doesn’t he or she look sharp today?”

Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What (Good Things) are you expecting today?”

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Thanks, Jeremy!

Well, it was pretty tough… but we drove our youngest son, Jeremy, to Fairfield California yesterday, to spend one last day in the Sunny State with his brother, before flying back to Oklahoma on Wednesday.  To say the least, we had a wonderful time together.  It was really special to see how he has grown into a mighty young man of God over the last two years.  Jeremy graduated from Rhema Bible Training Center last month, and is planning to enroll in their third year School of Worship program.  He is a budding musician and longs to serve the Lord as a worship leader.

I was happily amazed in seeing how Jeremy ministered to his Mom over the last six days.  He had heard some negative reports on her condition from family members and was expecting to find the worst, only to discover that Mom is still there, and just needs a little extra love, care and attention!  On Saturday night, Jeremy pulled out my guitar and began to play and sing while I prepared the Barbeque.  As the worshipful sounds filled the home, (and probably the whole immediate neighborhood, as every window in the house was wide open!) my wife was drawn to the couch and the two of them sat side by side, singing for about 45 minutes!

For me, the most rewarding aspect of his visit was the ability to share with him all that has been going on in me while handling the attack on his Mom’s health over the last two years.  We talked for endless hours each day.  Jeremy greatly encouraged and uplifted me and let me know that we were all doing a good job!

The climax to every conversation, thought and action over the last few days came when my wife and I returned home after dropping Jeremy off at his brothers.  When I walked upstairs I discovered a card taped to the vanity window in our loft.  It was addressed: “To My Pops!!!”  Inside the humorous Father’s Day card, Jeremy wrote about all the things that I have meant to him over the years.  Needless to say, it was difficult to keep the emotions in check as I read the card.

Over the last two years along with everything that has happened to my wife, there have been numerous comments made from individuals questioning many of the decisions and directions that my family and I have made over the years.  Lately, I have even had my integrity, commitment and love for my darling wife attacked.  Through it all, the Lord has been very gracious, and to say the least, I have learned a lot about myself, as well as the love and faithfulness of our Heavenly Father. 

As I finished reading Jeremy’s card, I sat back in the kitchen chair in which I was sitting and just said “WOW!” as the understanding hit me.  You know… it really doesn’t matter to me what others outside of my immediate family may think or say about me, as they personally struggle with my wife’s situation.  What’s important to me is the proof (or: “fruit) of my children!

I firmly believe that every major decision that my wife and I have made over the last 36 years of marriage was decided after much prayer and the leading of the Holy Spirit.  Maybe we took a different road than was expected of us, but it has always been a path directed by the Lord.  (see Proverbs 3:5-6) I can see now, that His way is all that matters!

I would encourage each of you to learn from my lessons.  Seek the Lord with all your heart, follow His directions, and then settle it in your heart that other folk’s skepticisms will never cause you to doubt His unique and particular call on your life.

Thanks Jeremy for helping me to see my way through the smoke of the battle!  Boy, I can’t wait until I get together with both Jeremy and our youngest daughter at her wedding this September.  I bet the very gates of Hades will shake!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What (GOOD THINGS) are you expecting today?”

Monday, June 20, 2011

The More, The Merrier!

Yesterday at Children’s Church we taught about two of the most famous fathers in the Bible.  First we took a brief look at Abraham, whom the Jews considered to be the father of their faith, and then we discussed God, whom Jesus introduced to mankind as our Heavenly Father.  What a concept to consider.  God as a father to every believer all over the world, all at the same time, and yet always available whenever you need Him.

As a father, I look back at the time when my children were growing up and vividly remember what seemed like the constant battle between work and family.  Most fathers (and working moms today) have to play this balancing act throughout their children’s home-time years.  Some handle it well, others not so well.  I thought that I had it tough with four kids, ballet, soccer, church activities, home school, band, field trips, special projects and so on.  But then I look at some young families today, and wonder how they do all the kids activities with both parents working.  We made the decision early in our marriage that my wife would stay at home and home school our children.  I always worked a full-time secular job besides my part-time Pastoral responsibilities.  At times, things could get pretty stressful.  If I could do it again, I definitely would have taken more opportunities for individual time with each of our children.

Our Heavenly Father, on the other hand, has the ability to spend as much time with each of us as we want!  You talk about the perfect father figure.  I asked the kids yesterday what they thought the perfect father was like, and everything they said reflected what God does for us.  Sometimes we natural fathers miss the mark, but our Heavenly Daddy is always on target.  He is never late, never forgets our birthdays or special events and always has the right words to say.

So… even if today is the day after Father’s Day, I encourage you to take a few moments with your Heavenly Dad and give Him the thanks that He alone deserves.  You do know that He LOVES to spend time with you... don't you?  Therefore, make those times with Him to be numerous and lengthy!  This is definitely one experience where we can truly say… “The more, the merrier!”  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”



Friday, June 17, 2011

What To Do In Case Of An Emergency

What a crazy day so far!  I received a call early this morning that my Dad was on the way to the hospital.  So I took a quick shower, brewed a pot of strong java, took a moment in the Word to focus my faith, left my wife in my son’s capable hands and pointed the Suburban toward Memorial Hospital.  I think the truck actually knew the way since I’ve been there so much lately… 

I believe at times like this, that it is imperative for us to know what has already been provided for us as believers.  When emergencies occur, we cannot always take the time to dig out all the right scriptures that we may need to face the situation.  Those words of Life need to be firmly embedded within our beings!

The one portion of scripture that came to my mind in the midst of all the activities this morning, was from Hebrews chapter six where the writer is instructing us about the confidence we have in God’s Word.  Verses 19 and 20 say that “this confidence goes into the holy place behind the curtain where Jesus went before us on our behalf.  (Gods Word ©) 

The realization that Jesus had already prepared my way, gave me the peace I needed this morning.  I knew inside that all would be okay.  The situation was under control, I would have the right words of comfort for the family, and most of all, that God’s promise of a long and satisfying life was working for my father. (see Psalm 91:16)

It was actually a little funny when I arrived at the hospital.  I was escorted right to my Dad’s bedside, where he was laying with a big smile on his face.  He began to laugh when he saw me in the company of a security guard.  He kept asking me if I had done something wrong!  You talk about God’s calming and joyful presence in the midst of a stormy situation.

That’s the kind of confidence we can exhibit, and the peaceful resolution that we can come to expect when the enemy of our lives tries to raise his ugly head. Deuteronomy 28:13 says that we are the head and not the tail, above and not beneath!  With God on our side, nothing can successfully come against us!

I encourage you to expect His best for you this weekend.  Let the joy that only the confidence in His word can bring to you infiltrate every area of your life, and then, be a blessing to those around you!  Have a great weekend.  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

PS:  My Dad is now back home and resting comfortably!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

There Is NOTHING You Can’t Do…

Well, our youngest son Jeremy made it home last night for a week long visit, and we are having a wonderful time.  Needless to say, we stayed up late last night and breakfast this morning lasted about 3 hours!  One of the myriad of subjects that keeps popping up is the sharing of church ministry ideas.  The excitement has been increasing in all three of us, as we bounce different thoughts, programs and outreaches off each other. 

In the course of the conversation last night, I was reminded and encouraged by a scripture promise that I believe the Lord gave to me last year concerning our future ministry.  It is found at the end of the book of Joshua when Joshua is reviewing all the mighty things that the Lord did for the Israelites after they conquered the majority of the land that God had originally promised to them through Abraham approximately 800 years before.

Beginning in Joshua 24:11, the Lord speaking through Joshua, told the people, “Then you crossed the Jordan River and came to Jericho.  The citizens of Jericho, the Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites, and Jebusites fought you.  But I handed them over to you.  These things didn’t happen because of your battle skills or fighting ability.  So I gave you a land that you hadn’t farmed, cities to live in that you hadn’t built, vineyards and olive groves that you hadn’t planted. So you ate all you wanted.”  (Joshua 24:11-13 Gods Word ©)

As I was reviewing these verses this morning, I saw all the “ites” that came against the children of Israel as a symbol of all the people who tend to come against us as we step out to do the things that God has called us to do in our lives.  Many of these “ites” tend to feel that they are doing us a favor by informing us of all the negative reasons for not proceeding along the path that we've chosen to go.  Maybe we don’t have enough experience, education, finances, or the right personality.  Maybe it just looks plain crazy for us to step out into an unknown arena of faith.  Maybe, maybe, maybe…

Just maybe these “ites” are just looking at your call through their own eyes and experiences and have no real idea (or care) about what’s really happening with you!  These “ites” in your life tend to focus on the “I” of themselves, and not on you and your individuality, characteristics, desires and God given dreams.

The children of Israel could never have accomplished what they did without the direction, assistance and power of God working for them.  This is what Joshua was trying to convey to them before his death.  He knew that their future success depended not on man’s abilities, education, or experience, but on a life dedicated and focused on God and His word.

Do you have a vision in life that others have questioned?  Remember that your success does not depend on outside circumstances, but by the direction of God, your faith and corresponding actions of faith as based on His Word, and by your unyielding confidence and trust in Him.  Don’t allow the “ites” to sway you from the smooth paths that He is leading you on. (see Psalms 23:3 and Proverbs 3:6)

Joshua’s final advice to the Israelites was to “Fear the Lord, and serve Him with integrity and faithfulness” (Joshua 24:14 Gods Word ©) This is the same piece of advice that we need to structure our lives around.  His word should always be the final word on any subject!  There is NOTHING that the team of you and God cannot succeed in, when this advice is kept forever before your eyes. 

Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What (good things) am I expecting today?”

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

24 Hour Caregiver

This morning as my wife and I were driving to trim some roses for a customer, we began to verbally confess a variety of scriptures that reveal God’s will concerning healing, peace, and the casting of our cares upon the Lord.  When we came to I Peter 5:7, you know the verse where the Apostle Peter told his readers to “Cast all your cares upon Him for He cares for you,” (King James Version) I stopped in mid-sentence and shared with my wife the revelation that had just hit me, that Jesus is our 24 hour caregiver!”

That truth took what I shared yesterday about my need to reassess my position as the 24 hour caregiver for my wife, and put it into the proper perspective.  The previous day’s photo album incident caused me to realize that I had been depending way too much on my own abilities and strength to care for my wife.  When my strength began to wane, so did my attitude toward the one I love.

Philippians 4:13 is a scripture that goes hand in hand with 1 Peter 5:7.  It says that “I can do all things through Christ which strengthenth me.” (King James Version)  The key words here are “through Christ.”  In other words, His strength doesn’t come unless I cast my cares upon Him.  Unlike me or you who will get weary and yield to the pressures beating down the door, He is the ultimate caregiver.  He is always present, always willing, always able and is always encouraging to those for whom He cares for.

Wow… pretty simple isn’t it?  That’s one of His jobs and He performs it with a passion.  The lesson then, is to not wait until you’re about to collapse from weariness and stress, but to begin the course of each new day by “casting ALL your cares upon Him for He cares (24/7) for you!”  (I Peter 5:7 – parenthesis mine)

I got it… how about you?  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What (good things) am I expecting today?”

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

"Time Out!"

Okay, Okay… How many of you read yesterday’s post and began reminiscing about some of those special times when you first met your spouse?  Memories do have an important place in people’s lives, and while it can be detrimental to live in the past, remembrances of enjoyable times can help one to make good adjustments in their present life.

Yesterday I was busily cleaning out our second bedroom in anticipation of our youngest son’s visit from Oklahoma.  The room had kinda turned into the place where I stuck all the stuff I that didn’t know what to do with.  (I think every home has a place like that!)  We haven’t seen Jeremy for two years and I wanted the place to look nice for him.  So, I had set my mind to complete the task before the end of the day.  After a couple of hours I was pretty tired and hot, but I pushed myself to complete the job.

On one of the final trips up the stairs to a storage area off our bedroom loft, I came across a large picture album.  Figuring that it was a good excuse to catch my breath, I sat on a box and began to leaf through its pages.  The book was put together by one of our kids many years ago, but had no name on it in order to identify its creator.  As I flipped over a page, I paused at a picture that I had taken of my wife and Jeremy when he was about two years old.  He was simply adorable as he was napping quietly in her arms with his bright red hair and blushed cheeks.  My eyes traveled slowly up the picture until I locked my gaze on my wife’s face.  At that moment it was as if my breath was taken away from me.  I stared into her eyes and unexpectantly exclaimed “God, she’s beautiful!”  Then the tears filled my eyes and I began to weep.

You have to understand, I have always thought that my wife was the most beautiful woman in the world.  When the two of us entered a room I knew that all eyes were immediately drawn to her.  I can remember the time when my wife and I had accompanied our former Pastors to a conference about twelve years ago.  On the second day there, we had lunch together and Jerry handed me my ministry licensing papers, just before we left to rest before the evening session.  Once in our room, my wife laid down and I sat on a couch near the window to review the paperwork.  As I read the form I was overwhelmed with joy thinking that life couldn’t get much better, for here I was, first of all, alone with my wonderful lovely wife and secondly that I finally received my “official” Pastoring papers!

My wife has been my best friend, lover, confidant, greatest supporter and encourager since we met as juniors in high school, over 42 years ago.  Now that we have been dealing with her medical needs, I have taken on the role of her 24 hour caregiver.  In that position I had begun to drift from some of those feelings that came strikingly back to me as I viewed the picture in that photo album.  At that moment I vowed to never allow that to happen again, and I immediately went downstairs to hug and reaffirm my love to her.

That’s the power that a look into the past can have to help one make an adjustment in their current life.  Are there areas of your life that you need to readjust or reaffirm?  Is there any level of recommitment that you need to make to your spouse?  Are you still living the dreams and hopes that the two of you once planned?  If not, there might be a need for a “time out,” where the two of you stop and plan a time to go out and have some fun, reminisce the past and recapture the love that brought you together in the first place… and while your at it, take the time to read Proverbs 31 to each other.  The prophet King Lemuel was a very wise man!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What (good things) am I expecting today?”

Monday, June 13, 2011

1969 Camaro SS 396

Yesterday I had one of those rare times when I had the opportunity to sit down, relax and read a magazine article.  The story entitled “Old vs New” happened to be the cover article from the July 2011 issue of Motor Trend, which just happens to be one of my favorite magazines.  The article intrigued me as it was a comparison of the new Camaro, Mustang and Challenger with their 1969 and 1970 namesakes that the current retro designs are based on.

These cars hold a special place in my heart for a couple of reasons.  First of all, I went on my first outing with my wife and our high school friends in her mom’s 1969 Camaro.  Let me digress here for a moment.  I had been in a rock band in junior and senior high.  I can’t say that we were real popular, but we had fun and played at an occasional school & Boys Club dance, at private parties and so on.  So… one September weekend we were practicing at my folk's house when a group of our friends came over to listen and then accompany us out for some ice cream at Baskin Robbins.  (you know… a hot night on the town in 1970… besides, my brother worked there and I always got a discount!)  My soon to be steady girlfriend and eventual wife, Piper, was among the crowd that came over on that fateful evening.

As we were going out the front door, I stopped in awe as there was a shiny new (I believe it had been a demo) orange with black racing stripes, 1969 Camaro SS 396 parked in the driveway.  I stood sort of dumbfounded as Piper came up besides me and handed me a set of keys saying, “That’s my Mom’s new car.  You want to drive it?”  It was then that I knew that we were a match made in heaven.  I always tell folks that ask when I knew that Piper was the one, that it was “love at first drive!”

The other endearing reason for my draw to “pony cars” is that we owned a 1989 Camaro up until the time we moved to Oklahoma to attend Bible School.  I have to tell you, giving up that machine was just about as hard as leaving family and friends behind!  But don’t get too sad, lately we’ve been looking at Mustangs… who knows, maybe there’s another "pony" in our near future!

But let’s get back to the article!  In a nutshell, the story related the tests that they performed on the various new cars versus the older versions, and concluded, that although many people talk about how great the older, original cars were, they really don’t hold a candle to the new versions.  The new models are safer, more comfortable, more powerful, faster and more fuel efficient.

That point got me to think about how many of us like to talk about “the good old days” of our lives.  I had the stark realization that I had been dwelling quite a bit in the memories of the past concerning my wife’s health, vibrancy and spontaneous zest for life.  I’ve been looking through old photo’s and reminiscing over many of the fun and zany things we did in our many years together.

That article about old and new cars brought me back to the present and to God’s plans for us today!  His ways are always new and fresh.  The scripture in Hebrews 10:20 that I have quoted a lot lately says that “Jesus has opened a new and living (fresh and current) way for us to go…”  (Gods Word ©)  Hebrews 11:1 says Now faith is…” (King James Version)  Faith is always in the present tense.  You can’t use yesterday’s faith for the needs that confront you today. 

Do you remember Hebrews 9:11?  It says that “Christ came as a chief priest of the good things that are NOW HERE! (Gods Word ©)  God doesn’t want us living in the past.  He wants us to be an active and vibrant part of what is happening today.  Yes, my wife and I may be going through some tough times today, but God’s word has provided a bright and exciting future for us.  “We don’t belong with those who turn back and are destroyed.  Instead we belong with those who have faith and are saved.”  (Hebrews 10:39 Gods Word ©)  That word “saved” infers salvation, rescue, deliverance and health.  Why should I dwell on the past when faith in God's word presents us with a today and a future that is better beyond compare!

So, I encourage you to let go of the past and any resistance that you may have to the present.  The Lord spoke directly to my heart this morning and told me that “You can’t live successfully in today’s ever changing, increasingly more complicated and technical world with the limited memories and resources of your past.”  Live for today.  Expect a new adventure in God every morning!  With your trust fully founded in Him and in the promises in His word for you, you can’t help but be blessed with the “good things that are NOW HERE  (Hebrews 9:11 Gods Word ©) … and then go out and be a blessing to others around you.  You know, people just might get to wondering about you!  They may start talking behind your back, saying things like: “How can they always be so happy?”

Have a great day and an extraordinary week, knowing that greater is He that is in you than the needs that may confront you.  (see I John 4:4)  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Friday, June 10, 2011

Remembering...

This morning at breakfast, as I was reading Psalm 23 aloud for my wife, I came to a sudden stop when I completed verse three.  The New Living Bible concludes this section by stating:  “He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to His name.”  What caused me the rapid hesitation were the words that came to my mind as I read “bringing honor to my name.”  Those words were from deep inside and rang out with clarity saying “That means remembering to thank Me."

At that point I went off onto a little mental rabbit trail as I began to see a scene from the old Disney movie Pollyanna when the Pastor of the community church in Harrington gives a short sermon the day after learning the lesson of looking for the good in people.  At the completion of the shockingly short and poignant homily, Pastor Ford (played by Karl Malden) tells the congregation to go out and enjoy the beautiful day.  He then pauses and encourages them to also remember The One who made all that beauty.  (A bit of trivia:  Many scenes from that movie of and around the Aunt’s mansion were filmed right here in Santa Rosa, California!  The mansion is still standing among some of the older more prestigious homes in our downtown area and is currently going through another renovation!)

So on this beautiful northern California Friday afternoon, I also encourage you to do what that little voice inside me said, as well as that line from that old 1960 movie.  In the midst of your enjoying the fruits of the community where you are this weekend, remember to take some time to thank the Lord for all the goodness and loving kindness that He has sent your way.  Thank Him for the beautiful trees, the green lawns, the fragrant flowers and the bright blue sky.  Then give Him the glory for saving you and giving you “a new and living way to go through the curtain,” (Hebrews 10:20 Gods Word ©) directly up to the holy throne of God for your personal appointments with Him anytime day or night!

Have a wonderful weekend!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What (good things) am I expecting today?”

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Great Expectations

Are you expecting God’s best for you today?  Do you see the mountains of impossibility crumbling before your unwavering confessions of faith that are based on the solid foundations of God’s word?  Hebrews 10:23 in the New American Standard version of the Bible encourages us to “hold fast the confession of our hope (or expectation) without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.”

If you really believe that He who promised us that we would never have a need (Psalm 23:1), then your answer to the above questions would be an unequivocal “YES!”  And with that yes, your life should exemplify relentless joy, peace and benevolence to others.

Does this all sound like a fairy tale to you?  Well, if I read and understand my Bible correctly, then this is the style of life that we Christians should be living.  God did not design us to live in strife, anxiety, and poverty.  He made us with His care in mind, and while our bodies are quite resilient, they will eventually breakdown under the pressures caused by the stress we take upon ourselves.

I’m choosing to place my life today, in His loving, all seeing and all powerful hands.  How about you?  No situation is too big or too small for Him to resolve.  So take that thought with you today and everyday, and see if you don’t just find yourself walking with a little more bounce in your step as your journey through life.  Begin each morning confessing that “I have GREAT EXPECTATIONS of God’s goodness happening in my life today!”  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What (GOOD THINGS) am I expecting today?”

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Does God Have A Sense Of Humor?

This morning was one of those times where I found myself twisting and turning with a multitude of potential problems on my mind.  I finally gave in and pulled myself out of bed around 6:30 am.  After sliding on my slippers I took a long glance at my wife who had the most content and peaceful look on her face, and then wearily headed down the stairs to the study. My plan of attack was to simply start reading the Word with the hopes that my attitude would change and that the pressures that I had been fending off throughout the night would dissipate.  It took awhile, but my perseverance began to pay off about an hour later.  I found myself reading the Word, stopping to pray and then continuing on to find some of the answers that I had been seeking.

Like I keep repeating in this blog… isn’t God good!  Around 8:00 am, I heard the dog rolling around upstairs and I figured that my wife was also up.  Since I was beginning to feel a little more light hearted, I quietly tip toed up the stairs and grabbed one of the dog’s back feet as she continued to roll on her back and growl.  (This has been a daily routine that our dog has exhibited ever since we got her at a shelter about seven years ago!)  Taken by surprise, Mandie whirled around and began licking my face as I laid at the top of the stairs.  She then made a mad dash for the bed, flipping on her back in mid air and rolled and barked.  After a moment, she spun over, leaped to my wife and began licking her face!  What I didn’t realize until after the dog had clipped my wife in her happy, mid-air spin, was that my wife had still been fast asleep and was rudely awakened by our dogs antics! (of course, the whole episode was stirred on by my grabbing the unsuspecting dog to begin with!)

My wife took it all in stride though, as she laughingly pushed away the dog (all 50+ lbs of Australian Shepherd!), wiped her face with the sheet and said “Good Morning!”  After awhile my wife fell back asleep and Mandie accompanied me downstairs.  When I returned to my desk, I began to contrast our dog’s carefree actions when she first arose to mine an hour or so earlier.  With that, I began to laugh again.  Here I am writing a daily word of encouragement to readers all over the globe, and I allow myself to forget the very things that I am telling others to believe in.  The funny part is that it took a dog to show me the truth of my folly.

As I thought about my morning lesson and how I wanted to share it with you this afternoon, I realized that God must have a great sense of humor.  Just think about the story of the Israelites escape from Egypt.  In the height of tension as the Egyptian army was pursuing the Israelites through the Red Sea, Exodus 14:25 says that God caused the wheels of enemy’s chariots to come off so that they drove heavily!  I think that God was having a good time at the Egyptian’s expense.  Can’t you just see Him laughing heartily at that sight and slapping His knee!

You know what?  I think that He was doing the same thing toward me when He saw our dog’s morning antics earlier today.  Mandie’s fun that entangled my sleeping wife got me to look in the mirror and laugh at myself!

Are things going a little on the tough side for you today?  Maybe you need stop what your doing and roll on the floor while laughing heartily!  Sound kinda ridicules?  Hey… who knows… it might just be what you need to get yourself refocused on the solid truth of God’s Word.  Remember Hebrews 6:18 says that “God cannot lie…”  (Gods Word ©)

Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Let Go, Let God!

I was studying this morning in the book of Hebrews, from chapters three and four.  What caught my attention was the fact that only two adults out of the original group that left Egypt with Moses, made it into the land that God had promised them.  Think about that for a moment.  Out of the thousands who left, only 2 made it.  Why was that?  Hebrews 3:19 says that “they couldn’t enter his place of rest because they didn’t believe.”  (Gods Word ©)  It would seem that our heavenly Father puts a lot of stock in our believing Him.  That is probably why Christians are called “Believers” and not “Doubters!”

When it comes to the Word of God (ie; the Bible), are you a full fledged “Believer”, or a partial “Doubter?”  Hebrews 4:6 says that “Those who heard the Good News in the past did not enter God’s place of rest because they did not obey God.”  (Gods Word ©)  How did they not obey God?  The verse I quoted above answers this question.  They disobeyed by not believing Him and the promises that He had given them. 

Once again, where are you seated?  Are you firmly founded in the whole truth of His Word, or do you pick and choose to fit your level of comfort, according to your traditions or by what may just seem too impossible?  When Jesus was praying to the Father near the end of His earthly ministry, He clearly confessed that “your words are true.”  (John 17:17 Gods Word ©)  He didn’t say that “part” of your words are true.  He wrapped all of His Word up in one concise package of faith.  Paul told the young pastor Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:16 that all scripture is given by inspiration and is profitable…” (King James Version)

My advice?  Take God at His Word!  It is all profitable for your life.  Allow His Word to work for you.  There is an older Christian song that I remember from the 1980’s that was entitled “Let Go, Let God!”  That kind of says it all.  Sometimes it just takes a leap of faith to move to the next level with God. 

After the conversation concerning those of the past who didn’t enter God’s rest, the writer of Hebrews countered by saying “So God set another day.  That day is TODAY  (Hebrews 4:7 Gods Word ©)  Why not let TODAY be your day to fully believe and thereby enter into His place of blessed, peaceful and healing rest.  Isn't it about time for you to let Him walk you down to the green pastures beside the quiet waters? (Psalm 23:2)  Go ahead… be strong, confident and courageous…  (Joshua 1:9)  Let go, and let God!

Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What (rest) am I expecting today?”




PS:  HAPPY BIRTHDAY RHIAN!  Today is our oldest granddaughter's 7th birthday!  Yeah!!!


Monday, June 6, 2011

Today's Weather

Well, I awoke this morning to another dark, dreary and dismal day… and here it is the beginning of June.  I got to thinking at breakfast about all the crazy weather we’ve been having across the United States.  I live in northern California, and have come to expect sunny, rain free and warm weather from the end of April into October.  But, not this year!  We’ve had rain and overcast conditions on and off for months now.  There were even some recent tornado warnings in both northern and southern California, and it was snowing at Tahoe last week!  Strange… really strange!

As I was discussing this with my wife around her bowl of cereal and my fried egg and toast with a hot cup of coffee in hand, I glanced down at my open Bible that I had placed near my plate and instantly was reminded about Hebrews 13:8.  I turned the pages of the book to that scripture and read aloud: “Jesus Christ never changes.  He is the same yesterday, today and forever.”  (CEV)

What a comforting thought that is to know.  A quick glance out my sliding window is all I need to remind myself about how quickly things that you depend on can change.  I used to quote that old adage about “the only thing that is constant is change,” but you know, that’s not entirely true when it comes to the anchor of God’s Word.  The truths in His Word are always a constant in our lives!

Paul knew this fact as he was suffering in prison and wrote the book of Philippians to cheer up his readers.  In chapter four he talks about his lack of want and says that “I’ve learned to be content in whatever situation I’m in.” (Hebrews 4:11 Gods Word ©)  He then accents his point by stating “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me,” and that “my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 4:13 & 19 KJV)  Paul depended on the Word of his Master and definitely NOT on the weather or the circumstances that came across his daily paths in life, or on anything else for that matter!

While this is a simple and basic foundation of our faith, I think that it is good for us to be reminded of it from time to time.  Philippians 4:19 was the first scripture that I ever stood on in faith as a very young Christian, many years ago, and yet it is one I continually come back to and grow in it’s understanding, purpose and power!

Today’s a good day to take a stand on faith in the truth of God’s Word, no matter what your area’s weather pattern is like!  Do you have a need today?  Then, take a few moments, explore God’s Word and find a scripture promise that meets that need and stand on it in faith.  (see Hebrews 11:1)  Expect that need met as you cast your care upon the One who will fulfill it according to His Word.  Have a great day as your expectations soar, your joy is increased and the praise of our Father God emanates from your lips!

Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”