Our New Home

Our New Home
Fall is in the air!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Trick or Treat

We had a fun time in Children’s Church yesterday.  We played lots of games and gave away a pillow case full of candy as we taught on the subject of “Trick or Treat.”  I used the story of Jesus’ temptation in the desert as told in Luke 4:1-13 as the foundation of the lesson.  The focus of the entire class came down to the conclusion that the devil tried to “trick” Jesus with three different temptations.  Jesus though, stuck to His calling using the scriptures as His defense and then later received the ultimate “treat” when He defeated the devil (Colossians 2:15) the next time they met face to face following His death on the cross.

Jesus’ victory meant that “the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us…” (Romans 8:4)  Therefore, because of His unselfish actions, we are also able to receive the ultimate “treat” of salvation and its accompanying personal relationship with the Son of God.  What a thought!  What a blessing!  What a “treat!”  And it was all accomplished through and because of God’s unfailing love for us!

So, tonight when the kids come a' knocking at your door, think about that ultimate “treat” that Jesus provided for you and joyfully share your “treats” with them through your actions and words of love… and of course through the candy you drop in their sacks!

Have a fun time tonight!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting tonight?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Halloween: Problem or Possibility?

Wow, it’s Friday all ready!  This week seems to have flown by for me.  Say, with Halloween coming up on Monday I thought I’d share a few thoughts with you…

Over the years we always had a big carnival type event for the kids, their families and the congregation at our church on Halloween.  We called it Hallelujah Night and made it the biggest all church event of the year.  It didn’t really matter if you had kids, grandkids or not.  Everybody wanted to be a part of the excitement and I always made sure that we had a large enough variety of events that would keep all the age spans interested and involved. 

One year, similar to the current holiday, Halloween fell on a Monday, so I decided to try something different.  Taking into account the helpers time restraints in consideration with all the work that it took to prepare the multipurpose room, and with a secret desire to spend one Halloween at home to enjoy with our kids and our neighborhood, I scheduled the party for Sunday instead of on Halloween itself.  Once the advertising came out I immediately received some opposition from a small but vocal contingent of parents in the church.  The bottom line of their concerns was that they didn’t want to be at home on Halloween night and have to deal with the secular celebration of the event.

After a meeting with the Senior Pastor and the parents, we decided to keep the event on the scheduled Sunday. Well, that year’s extravaganza was a big success and the chosen day actually worked out as a benefit because more families and individual friends invited by church members were able to attend, since the date did not conflict with school or neighborhood events.  We followed this schedule for a few years following the initial change.

The minor conflict that came up with the scheduling of this event caused me to take a good look at what I thought about the whole celebration of Halloween.  Through the years I think I have experienced the full range of sides concerning the celebration of this holiday.  From utterly despising the event due to it’s blatant celebration of the dark, evil occult and demonic activities, to seeing it as another opportunity to demonstrate the truth and the love of God to the children and their families in our neighborhood.

With the changing of demographics in our church congregation, we have not had a Hallelujah Night for a few years now, and my wife and I have been able to stay at home and reach out to our neighborhood.  I have to admit, that I have actually enjoyed being a light in the midst of a dark holiday. (see: Philippians 2:15)  To me it is better to be present and available to minister the love of God to those who unknowingly celebrate without really knowing the truth, instead of condemning the people by my absence.  I don’t want the kids and their parents in my neighborhood to think that I disapprove of them because my home is always the one with the lights out because we don’t celebrate the event with them.  I desire those around me to see that Christians live a full, joyful and meaningful life.

Am I saying that I believe in the celebration of the darkness of the Holiday?  No, I am saying that I believe in people and will use whatever means available to introduce them to the truth of Jesus Christ.  Did my kids dress up on Halloween?  Yes they did, but not as scary characters.  They always wore costumes that were uplifting and happy.  You have to remember that we always had the neighborhood kids playing at and around our house during the week.  To shut them off on Halloween would have sent the wrong message.  Besides, all of these kids knew that we were Christians as well as Children’s Pastors and had come to our church via my wife’s transportation a time or two, so they expected a Christian bent to our celebrations… and enjoyed them as such!  They knew that they were always loved at our home.

What are your thoughts about Halloween?  Do you see it as a problem night or as a night filled with evangelistic possibilities?  I tend to see each piece of candy dropped into the kid’s sacks as a seed for their salvation.  How about you?  Ah… go ahead and buy a couple of bags of candy this weekend and get ready to plant some seeds of love for the kids who knock at your door on Halloween.  Have a great weekend, stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What seeds am I expecting to plant today?”

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Are You too Busy?

Yesterday I mentioned a song that was regularly sung on the PTL Club show when my wife and I watched it back in the eighties.  I have to say, that no matter what the popular opinion was (or still might be) concerning Jim and Tammy Bakker, their ministry blessed and encouraged us for years.  I truly believe that two major initiators to the problems in their ministry was overwork and exhaustion (mixed in with some bad council… It is interesting that I recently read that in July of 1996 a Federal Jury ruled that PTL was not selling securities by offering lifetime partnerships in Heritage USA.  His case was then overturned and the Judge was dismissed from the case. – See: http://jimbakkershow.com/about-us/about-jim/ for more info).  Not long before all the negative reports began to emerge, the ministry was involved in an overwhelming multitude of building projects and outreaches.  There were times that you could see the exhaustion and stress on Jim’s face during the daily program.  I am sure that all that pressure helped in the making of incorrect decisions for the ministry.

These thoughts on PTL caused me to remember a sermon that a mentor of mine taught concerning the subject of being too busy.  I can vividly picture him dramatically running up and down the platform pretending like someone was pushing him as he stated that the devil will keep us so busy that it was like having him behind you, pushing you hurriedly along in your daily life!  His point was that we can get so busy that we lose focus on the things that are important to us.  When we get that busy, we get tired and weak and open ourselves up to making bad decisions, being attacked with sickness, and missing out on our personal time with God.

This is something that we all have to stay very aware of in our daily schedules.  One thing that I have learned through experience is to never confess that “I am busy!”  This was one way that I would always respond when people asked how I was doing.  What I discovered was that the more I confessed it, the busier I got!  I have also seen this to be true in other people’s lives.  I think being busy makes us feel important, or like we are accomplishing things in life.  When I finally analyzed my schedule, I realized that I was too busy doing a lot of unimportant activities that took me away from God, my family and from ministering to others in need.

Now I attempt to regularly review and adjust my schedule where needed, in order to maximize my effectiveness in my daily life.  As I believe I have mentioned before, this is also something that my wife initiated with our children’s activities as they were growing up.  Sometimes these decisions are tough, but the long term rewards are worth the commitment.

Do you sometimes feel like you are being pushed along the path of your life?  Maybe its time to put on the brakes, take a look at your schedule (and what you’re confessing) and make some adjustments.  Think about what you might be missing!  Come to think about it… when’s the last time you really experienced the peace of God in your life? Hummm….

Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting (to not miss) today?”

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Don't Give Up!

A couple of days ago I mentioned to my wife as I was watering our plants in the patio, that our lemon tree looks better now than it ever has.  If you recall the saga of the “Invasion of the Rats” that we experienced at the end of this last spring, then you’ll remember how I wrote about our rat friends devouring every leaf and then chewing on many of the branches of our wonderfully producing citrus.  Following that devastation that reduced the tree to a spindly dead looking array of skinny branches, I decided to prune it down to see what if anything would happen.  Well to my surprise, after what seemed like eternity, little green shoots started gradually appearing on the branches.  These eventually grew into fresh, deep green  branches and leaves.  Now approximately five months later, our lemon tree is bigger than it was before the attack of the rodents, continues to sprout new leaves and seems sturdier than it has ever been over the many years that we have owned it!

In my conversation with my wife, I stated that maybe the rats did us a favor after all!  Sometimes we all need to have a good pruning in order to reshape, strengthen and renew our vigor.  I Corinthians 10:13 says “that no temptation (trial or battle) has seized you except what is common to man.  And God is faithful, he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted (or go through a trial or battle), he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (NIV – parenthesis mine) 

I like the picture of us standing under the pressure of the fight.  I believe that this also implies that we will come out with great victory and honor.  I can hardly begin to tell you of all the great victories that we have had as we stood strong on the Word of God throughout the battles in our life.  Like the time many years back when we were fighting the good fight of faith to get through a time of deep financial hardship when God miraculously provided a way for me to be promoted on the job (when the documented procedure said I had to wait a year) and see my pay increase threefold!  Then there was the supernatural set of events and favor of God that enabled us to move into the park like community we now reside in, or the new car that we just received, and the list goes on and on!

I guess the point is to never say never!  The most important part of the above verse to remember is that “God is faithful!”  He loves you so much that He will always stay true to His Word.  So no matter what the circumstances look like, no matter how impossible things may seem, and no matter what negative words those around you may be saying, you can stand firmly on the strong foundation of what He has said to us in His Word and eventually see your way through to the final victory.

Early on in our marriage, my wife and I used to watch the PTL Club on TV every night when I returned home from my swing shift position at Hewlett Packard.  In fact, we purchased our first VCR (remember those with the remote on a long cable?) just so we could record the show at 6:00 in the morning in order to watch it at 11:00 each night.  One song that I vividly remember being sung almost every show encouraged us to “Don’t give up you’re on the brink of a miracle!”  And that’s how I would encourage you today.  No matter what the problem is, no matter how tough the going gets, stick to His Word and don’t give up because you ARE on the brink of a miracle today!

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

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

How We See Others

I came across another angle to the thought that we delved into yesterday in the blog.  In case you missed it, I talked about the verses in James 1:22-25 where Pastor James talks about using the mirror of the Word to see the true image of yourself.  This morning, in the course of my personal study in the Word, I came upon 2 Corinthians 5:16 where the Apostle Paul encourages his readers to be “careful not to judge people by what thy seem to be…”  (Contemporary English Version).  To me, Paul is telling us that we also need to look upon other believers in the same way that God wants us to see ourselves, as reflected through the mirror of His Word.

One of the tasks that I performed in the various management positions that I’ve held over the years (in both business and church) was that of interviewing potential new employees (or volunteers).  In the process of time and experience, I realized that I could learn almost more about the individual from what wasn’t said on their resume or in answer to the specific questions asked during the interview.  As an introduction to the actual job discussion I would engage the individual in a friendly conversation talking about family, friends, hobbies, interests and so on, in order to break the ice and help the interviewee to relax.  I never allowed the interview to be a rushed process.  Many times the REAL person on the inside would come out as we chatted, laughed and sought to get to know each other.  These moments would help to give me an insight into the person’s integrity, attitude and team work.

This is similar to how we should relate to our fellow brothers and sister in the Lord, before we make a personal consideration as to who they really are.  At times we need to pursue the conversation long enough for the person on the inside, the one that Jesus has recreated, to emerge!  First impressions are not always the best source of information to make decisions by.  Society has trained us to put up all kinds of personal defenses in order to protect ourselves from being hurt.  As Christians we should work with the abilities that God has given us so as to see others through the love of Christ before we make up our minds.  (See II Timothy 1:7) This is actually true with anyone we come into to contact with, be they believers or not. 

Gee, it sounds like I back to teaching classes on teamwork!  Well, as they say, “if the shoe fits, wear it!”  Have a great day.  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Monday, October 24, 2011

Mirror, Mirror On The Wall...

Yesterday my wife and I had the good pleasure of attending the adult service at our church.  Since my I am the Children’s Pastor, my wife and I usually minister to the kids at the same time as the adult service.  With summer vacations and the varying of schedules that ensues, it has been quite awhile since we could participate in that service.  It was enjoyable for me to watch my wife flow with the anointing of the service.  She sang during the praise and worship, bowed her head in reverence and exclaimed praises and thanksgiving to God, and then actively followed the Pastor during the sermon.

One point that our Pastor made from James 1:22-25 really peaked my interest.  According to that particular verse, he taught that we should be using the word of God as the mirror into which we look when we want to see who we are, or what we really look like.  A natural mirror simply reflects our old, outside self, not the inward man (or women), the REAL us, that has been changed and created in the image of God. (Romans 8:2, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Genesis 1:26)

Romans 12:2 says that we should “not fashion ourselves after this world.”  (English Majority Text Version) by looking into a mirror so as to determine who we are and what we are to do, but “Instead change the way you think.  Then you will always be able to determine what God really wants – what is good, pleasing and perfect.”  (Gods Word ©)  James 1:25 concludes this thought by stating that in contrast to the one who looks at a natural mirror for direction, “the person who continues to study God’s perfect teachings that make people free and remains committed to them will be blessed.”  (Gods Word ©)

That got me thinking this morning about the nasty queen in the story of Snow White who would daily gaze upon the reflection of her image and say: “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the most beautiful of all?”  According to the tale, everything went well until the magic mirror told her something new that she didn’t want to hear.  Then anger, fear and revenge were set into motion. 

That’s what can happen when we place our trust in something that is ever-changing and unstable.  So… where will you choose to look in order to find out who you are and what you are supposed to do?  Will you be like the fairy tale queen saying “Mirror, mirror on the wall” and hope for an answer that suits you, or be like the one who wrote of “THE King” saying: “Our Lord you are eternal! Your word will last as long as the heavens.  You remain faithful in every generation…” (Psalm 119:89-90 Gods Word ©) Think about it, then stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Friday, October 21, 2011


Well happy Friday everyone!  Do you have any special plans for the weekend?  Our weather out here has been very pleasant, so I am looking forward to some relaxing times just sitting under the blue skies and starry nights in our patio gazing at and mediating on the wonderful works that God created for us to enjoy.  Sometimes it’s the simply things that have the most meaning to us.

Today I was reading in I Corinthians where Paul mentioned that he “didn’t use intellectual arguments” when he had previously preached the Good News to them.  He told them “that would have made the cross of Christ lose its meaning.” (I Corinthians 1:17 Gods Word ©)  He continued on with this point in 2 Corinthians by explaining that he only preached a simple message concerning the one subject of Jesus Christ.  (I Corinthians 2:2)

Paul was telling the church in Corinth the same thing that I mentioned above.  Sometimes simplicity is the best teacher!  He didn’t want to confuse the people with deep theological dissertations but simply allowed the power of God to work through the anointed word that he preached. (I Corinthians 2:4-5, Mark 16:20)

I would encourage you to take some time this weekend to simply enjoy the expanse of our Heavenly Father’s creation around you.  Do like that management training tool  teaches us through the letters K.I.S.S..  I would interpret it as Keep It Simple Silly!  In other words, don’t let your plans get too complicated, because you might miss the little, seemingly ordinary wonders that exist throughout God’s Kingdom where you live.  Remember, Colossians 3:11 says that “Christ is everything and in everything” (Gods Word ©)

So go out and look for Him, and then remember to thank Him for the simple beauty that He has provided… just because He loves you!  Have a GREAT time!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself this weekend… “What SIMPLE things am I expecting to enjoy today?”

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Does HE?

The first thing that I normally do when I come into my study in the early morning is to open the blinds on the two windows in the room.  I enjoy the brightness of the morning light as it filters through the windows and to gaze at the crispness that seems to pop off the shrubs, trees and lawns in our little corner of our neighborhood.  Today though, was different.  For some reason I felt compelled to just flip on my desk lights and to sit secluded from the outside world.

I pulled out a couple of my favorite Bible translations and my notebook, and then opened up my iTunes music library on the computer.  Once it came up, I choose to listen to some selections from the New Life Worship band’s album entitled “You Hold It All Together.”  After about a half hour of studying from the first chapter of I Corinthians, I leaned way back in my chair, put my feet up on the corner of my desk and began to just meditate on what I had been reading.  As I sat there in my own little world, I became aware of the worshipful words of the song that was emanating from the speakers in the study.  “Our God Reigns, Our God Reigns…”

As those words kept repeating through my mind, I began to consider if most Christians really believe that statement that we’ve probably all sang and would wholeheartedly agree with.  To reign means to exercise sovereign power; dominance or widespread influence.  Is that the way you see our Heavenly Father existing in your life 24/7?  In every situation, in every event and in every living hour of the day?

I’m not so sure that I could have answered a resounding “YES” to that question!  But after the reality this morning of the proclamation that “Our God Reigns”, I’m choosing to let Him actually have His sovereign rule and dominance in my daily life.  How about you?

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

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

What Do You See?

Have you ever had one of those times where it felt like your thoughts went off in three different directions at the same moment?  I experienced that this morning at the breakfast table.  I was reading aloud to my wife from our list of over 100 scriptures that concern God’s will on healing, when I noticed that I was suddenly feeling more awake and lively as we were attending to His word.  At that same instant I remembered that I had not yet taken my vitamin B complex pill that has helped me to keep up my energy with all the activities going on in my life.  I also began to see how the first two thoughts were in direct relationship to the series I have been teaching the Elementary and Jr High class on Wednesday nights at church.

It is amazing how the Lord created our minds to work on so many different planes at the same time!  David had the same feelings when he exclaimed in Psalm 139:14 “I will give thanks to you because I have been so amazingly and miraculously made. Your works are miraculous, and my soul is fully aware of this” (Gods Word ©)

I encourage you to take some time today to meditate on how intricately and wonderfully the Lord made you to be.  You are so special in His eyes.  I am sure that when He looks down from the throne room of heaven and sees you, He can’t help but break into a big, loving smile.  One of my points for tonight’s class comes from Colossians 3:3 where it states that our lives are now “hidden with Christ”.  In light of that information, my question to the students will concern how they think people see them, and maybe more importantly, how they see themselves.

That would be the same important question that I ask you today.  It would make sense to me that if God smiles at us as He gazes upon the amazingly, wonderful creation that He has made in His image and that He loves so unconditionally, that we should do the same!  

Maybe its time for you to reevaluate your feelings toward yourself and to get them inline to the way that our heavenly Father sees you… Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting TO SEE in me today?”

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I Told You Not To Wear Your Shorts!

I was sitting down this afternoon enjoying the warm spurt that we have been having in the middle of October, when I thought of a couple more weather adventures that I had as a newbie in Oklahoma.  The first one was actually what had predicated my initial incorrect response to the snow storm I had mentioned in yesterday’s post (see “Today’s Weather” posted on 10/17/11).  It occurred on Thanksgiving Day 2006.  After my wife, our two kids and I had celebrated a quiet but still delicious turkey dinner, we got on the phone and called all of our relatives in California.  In talking to the folks on the other end, I began to brag about how the four of us were all wearing shorts and enjoying a pretty warm time in the Sooner state, while the family in northern California was experiencing the normal cold and wet weather pattern for that time of year.  If I had taken the projected snow-storm weather broadcast more seriously, I definitely would have kept my mouth shut!

The other event had occurred a number of weeks previous to the warm weather that had announced the beginning of our first Holiday season in Oklahoma.  When I had left for work in the garden department at the South Tulsa Home Depot, the temperature was typically warm (or so I thought…) so I wore my regular outfit of shorts and a polo shirt that had kept me relatively comfortable and cool throughout the hot summer months.  What I had not quite understood was the projected change in the weather that was forecast for the early afternoon.  I normally kept a light pull over sweater in my locker at work and felt assured that it would be all that was necessary, especially since I had not taken it out of the locker for the three months we had been there.  Well, by now you probably know what I am going to tell you!  Sure enough, around 2:00 in the afternoon the wind picked up, the clouds blew in and within about an hour I was freezing in my shorts and light sweater!

There were a few cashiers who had braved the cold front with me (in their heavy winter coats – I might add!) in the outside garden center on that crazy Saturday, that never let me forget my California ways!”

So what’s my point?  Well, besides the advice to always keep a coat in your car, I am reminded once again, that things in this natural life can change in a moment's notice, but God’s word is always the same!  It is like that rock that I mentioned yesterday.  James 1:17 says that “The Father doesn’t change like the shifting shadows produced by the sun and moon.”  (Gods Word ©)  In fact it goes on to say that “God decided to give us life through the word of truth…”  (James 1:18 Gods Word ©)  In other words, He wanted to give us a secure and stable way of life that we could depend on, no matter what else was changing around us.

Not that’s what I call a reliable forecast that we can depend on for the length of our days!  Over the three years that we resided in Oklahoma, I learned how to read the direction of the winds and to know if it was going to be a cold or warmer front that was blowing in.  I learned to give the weather reports a little more credence and to dress appropriately.  I got pretty good at my timing in getting anything that could be damaged by a summer storm undercover inside the store before the sudden heavy rains struck.  The one thing that I never quite mastered though, was driving the forklift in the snow!  (but that's another whole story...)

The other more decisive thing that I learned, was to implicitly trust in what God’s word said, no matter what the physical evidence looked like!  I am still amazed at all the times that His blessings came through, just as we needed them, during those three years in Tulsa while I went to Bible School.  And you know what?  He is just the same now as He was back then!  (see Hebrews 13:8), and if He does it for me, He’ll do it for you (see Acts 10:34).  Give Him a try… You’ll never be the same again!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Monday, October 17, 2011

Today's Forecast

I had an interesting observation today that I would like to share with you.  As I was chatting with my Mom on the phone this morning, she made the comment that the weatherman stated that it was going to be in the 80’s today.  So she decided to wear light clothing in anticipation of the projected temperature.  When we had commenced our conversation I turned to my wife and began to tell her what my Mom had said.  About the time I got to her statement on the weatherman’s forecast, my mind drifted off to the thought of how we tend to plan our day according to the weather prognostications.

I can easily recall the first snow storm that we experienced when we moved to Oklahoma.  What surprised me was how the National Weather Service began to issue severe weather alerts a full week before the snow came.  They not only projected the upcoming storm, but laid out a day by day scenario of what to expect and at what time it would come!  This was something that I had never seen in all the years that I had lived in the temperate climate of northern California.  I am not sure why it is, be it our proximity to the ocean and the off shore breezes, the mountain ranges that surround our city or what, but it seems like the weather projections in our area are always kind of 50 – 50 in their accuracy.  Therefore, I was surprised and doubtful of what was being broadcast on the TV, over the internet and even from the dean of our Bible School, who was concerned for the new students who had just moved into the area.

Well, you know what?  It did happen just like they all said!  The dark clouds seemingly blew in from no where, the precipitation started on schedule, followed by the freezing rain and by morning the ground was covered with about five inches of snow.  I was totally awe struck and soon learned the weather ways of the great plains!  What I came to realize is that there is basically nothing between Texas and Canada to stop the cold fronts from coming through!  And like I learned, they have perfected their forecasting abilities to the point where they can be fairly accurate as to when the storms will hit the different areas along their paths.

All this went through my mind in an instant as I began to ponder how we will adjust our attire, activities and sometimes our moods by what the weatherman says.  From there my mind suddenly illustrated the words that King David penned in Psalm 118:24 where he said that “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (NIV)  This is where the point of my morning observation came into clear view.

While we will put our trust into the words of a trained professional who is relying on what he or she sees from satellite photos and then is projecting an outcome based on past experiences and all kinds of data related to the approaching weather front and the locale that it is nearing, (not always taking into account the myriad of unforeseen changes that can occur at any time), we may not always trust the advice of the living God Who’s word is infallible.  Psalm 119:160 confirms how we can trust in His word by saying: “All you say can be trusted; your teachings are true and will last forever.”  (Contemporary English Version)

The big difference that I see between the weather forecast and God’s forecast is how the “unforeseen changes” that can arise will affect what’s been projected.  The weather patterns can shift, dissipate, and quickly change, but the word of the living God always stays the same.  It is totally up to us whether we let the “unforeseen circumstances” of life affect what God declares to be in His word!

Jesus likened our putting our trust into His word to “a wise man who built his house upon the rock.  And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded upon the rock.”  (Matthew 7:24-25 NASV)  Well, if Jesus said it, then I believe it!  That’s where I have put my trust.  How about you?  Will you like one who keeps his or her ear to the radio in order to keep up with the changes conditions around them, or as the one that Jesus foretold, and be settled on THE ROCK where NOTHING will fall?

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

Friday, October 14, 2011

Past, Present and Future

This morning as I was coming down the stairs I stopped to admire our two Christmas Cactus plants that we have on the landing between the upstairs loft and the living room.  These two tropicals have quite a lengthy history with our family.  I think the larger of them even predates the birth of our children!  For years I tended and cared for them, but while my Mom’s numerous plants bloomed each year, ours never did.  They always looked healthy and green but never yielded a single bloom until I positioned them in the downstairs bathroom in the house we lived in before we moved to Oklahoma.

Now don’t ask me why I stationed them in that particular place.  That half bath was attached to the family room and was immediately adjacent to the sliding door leading to the backyard.  Needless to say, that room enjoyed a lot of activity!  It was also the home to our cat.  Due to the cat’s young habit of coming into my wife’s and my bedroom in the predawn hours and knocking things off her dresser, we learned early on, that she needed to be put into her own room when the family retired for the evening.  In that particular house, the downstairs bathroom seemed to be the best location.  Anyway, I am not sure if it was the filtered light that streamed through the window or simply the “cat vibes” present in the room, but those two cactus bloomed prolifically for the nine years that we lived in that house.

Since then, once again, the plants have not bloomed!  But coming back to my original thought… At the beginning of this summer I transplanted them using a good potting soil, trimmed their roots and placed them in the landing where they receive filtered light from all directions. What caught my eye this morning was the extravagant amount of new, bright green growth extending from the ends of the leaves of both plants!  With that recognition came the expectation of beautiful flowers in the next few months.

All that history of those two plants that flashed through my mind this morning got me to thinking about my experiences yesterday afternoon.  I spent the better part of that time cleaning out and then shampooing the rug in the Suburban.  (See the 10/7/11 post entitled “The Green Suburban”) I filled up a bucket and a sack with all the multitude of items I discovered hidden in the various nooks and crannies of that vehicle, and needless to say each item was filled with a unique history. 

My thoughts today concerned the fact that although the memories attached to the truck were of happy occasions, they still carried a tinge of sadness because they are of a time that cannot be repeated.  On the other hand, when I completed the task, I drove up to our detached garage, pressed the button on the remote control and sighed a contented “Ahhh!” as I looked upon our shiny new car and began to imagine all the great adventures ahead.

You see, that’s another good reason to let go of the past and to live for the present with high expectation for the future.  While we can’t change or relive the past, the present and future are ours to create!  Remember, “with God all things are possible!” (Matthew 19:26 King James Version)  I encourage you to take that thought with you into this weekend.  Spend some time in the Word and allow the expectations that are found in the Good News to be the water colors you paint on the easel of your life!  (See Colossians 1:5, substituting the word “expectations” in place of “hope”)  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting to CREATE today?”

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Oh, What A Beautiful Morning!

* Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'

There's a bright golden haze on the meadow,
There's a bright golden haze on the meadow,
The corn is as high as an elephant's eye,
An' it looks like its climbin' clear up to the sky.

Oh what a beautiful morning,
Oh what a beautiful day,
I've got a wonderful feeling,
Everything's going my way.

All the cattle are standing like statues,
All the cattle are standing like statues,
They don't turn their heads as they see me ride by.
But a little brown mav'rick is winking her eye.


All the sounds of the earth are like music,
All the sounds of the earth are like music,
The breeze is so busy it don't miss a tree,
And an ol' Weepin' Willer is laughin' at me.

Repeat chorus

A couple of days ago I wrote about how my wife and I are in such a place that “sometimes even the smallest scent of a victory during the day can send us into a shouting session of praise, worship and thanksgiving to our Heavenly Father.”  (See 10/11/11 “Total Dependence”)  This morning was one of those times.  Right after arising from the night’s slumber, I stepped out onto the kitchen patio with the pooch and was instantly captivated by the cool, crisp morning and the beauty that poured in through all of my senses.  It was like the Lord was calling me out because He wanted to show me something.

So, I quickly went inside, grabbed the garbage bag from under the sink as well as my camera and called up to my wife informing her that I would be right back.  As I walked down the little lane that meanders through the neighboring cluster homes on the way to the well hidden refuge receptacles, I took the time to notice all the “little things” that were strutting their stuff as they reflected the rising sun’s first rays as it filtered through the trees. 

The little dew splashed spider webs that had been crafted on the bushes throughout the night, the multicolored leaves that drifted down through the air, the streaming sun light peeking over a second story window along the way, and the fragrance of fall that tints the atmosphere this time of year.  A tall small grove of redwoods struck my fancy as I stopped and enjoyed their elegance.  I think that the Coast Redwood has to be my all time favorite of all the trees that God has created.  There is just something majestic about their structure and their height that seems to touch the clouds along with the fallen leaves and branches that carpet the ground around them.

Then I noticed the stillness of the morning that surrounded me.  A single bird occasionally chirping his morning song, my footsteps as I padded up and down the pathway, the artificial shutter click emanating from my digital camera as I snapped a dozen or so photos, and even the drone of a distant aircraft as it soared across the lightly clouded skies.  It was all so wonderful.  As I returned to my home I could not help myself in speaking out words of praise and thanksgiving to our heavenly Father.  He is so good to us.  He has given us the beauty of nature to enjoy every minute of the day!

A little while later as I sat at breakfast with my wife, I began to share with her everything that I had experienced.  Without a second thought I began to think about God’s goodness and found myself singing “Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day…”  Sounds kind of corny doesn’t it?  But that’s the way it happened!

Psalm 5:3 says “My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning shall I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.” (King James Version)  When’s the last time you went outside in the quiet of the morning and looked up and around at all the beautiful things that God created just for you to enjoy?  You might be surprised at the awesome sights that God has placed right in your own neighborhood… things that you probably never noticed before.

Take some time as soon as you can to enjoy the “little things.”  Maybe you’ll even discover that it really is a beautiful morning and that:

All the sounds of the earth are like music,
The breeze is so busy it don't miss a tree,
And an ol' Weepin' Willer is laughin' at me.

Have a great day, stayed tuned and keep asking yourself… “What Beautiful Things am I expecting to SEE, HEAR and FEEL today?”

*  Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'
    Music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
    Copyright © 1943 by Williamson Music
    Copyright Renewed.
    International Copyright Secured

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Autumn Harvest

Last night as I was preparing dinner, I went outside to see if I could scavenger up some ripe tomatoes off of our four potted plants.  Well, I had to do a little hunting but I did come up with enough for our salad.  As the weather is changing, so is the speed in which our tomatoes are  going from green to red.  A few weeks ago I could have gone out and picked a bowl full just about every night without any effort.  In fact, you probably could have blind folded me and I still would have easily been able to pick some plump red fruit off the vines.  If I were to attempt that now, I would most likely find myself with a hand full of smaller, hard green varieties!

This morning as I looked out at our patio garden I began to revisit the thought of how the seasons of harvest also tend to vary in our own lives.  There are times when it seems that the blessings are just floating in off the wind, in bucketfuls!  Then there are times where they seem to be few and far between… kinda like my tomatoes.  Their vines still look fairly healthy and full but the fruit that’s on them does not seem to be turning green with the same gusto as they did just a very few weeks ago.

What I began to see though, was that there still is fruit on the vines, and in our part of the country, we can still be harvesting garden fruits and vegetables for another month or two.  Just because the blessings and or care of God in our lives seem to have taken a slower turn, it doesn't change the fact that He is still there and wanting to care for you.  What it means is that we just have to become a little more diligent and watchful in the cultivation of the garden of our lives.

Now is the time of year where I tend to watch the weather forecasts a lot closer, especially when it comes to the care of the final fruits on our plants.  Rain can split the fruit and an early frost can kill the entire bush.  If I seriously want to protect my harvest, then I have to take any precautionary steps that are necessary in order receive the expected results.  The same goes for the things that we are standing in faith for.  Hebrews 10:36 tells us that at times like this we “need endurance so that after you have done what God wants you to do, you can receive what he has promised.”  (Gods Word ©)

You know, we enjoyed those few ripe tomatoes that garnished our salad last night, just as much as those that we ate in the heat of the summer… maybe even a little more since I had to work a little bit harder to get them!  Just think about that when you sense that you might be approaching a “dry” time in life.  Remember how good the fruit has been and work a little harder, endure a little more, and then enjoy the harvest that you’ve worked so hard to receive from the garden of His blessings.  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What fruit am I expecting today?”