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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hidden Riches

The early history of Plumas Eureka State Park and the surrounding Plumas National Forest is centered around hard rock mining.  On May 23, 1851 a group of miners discovered an exposed quartz ledge on the east side of what is known today as Eureka Peak.  This outcropping was found to be rich with gold.  Thirty six miners formed the Eureka Company and the rush was on!  Through the ensuing years many other small boom and bust companies worked the mines and ownership changed frequently until a British company, the Sierra Buttes Mining Company, Ltd stepped in and consolidated all the mines in the area.  This mining operation continued to operate profitably until the turn of the 20th century.  Occasional periods of excitement along with the hope of renewed prosperity kept the mines going until eventually, the mining operations tapered off and were finally discontinued in 1943.  (see: http://www.plumas-eureka.org/history.html for more details)

What’s amazing is that during the 92 years of mining at Eureka Peak (originally called Gold Mountain) over 25 million dollars worth of gold was taken out and approximately 65 miles of tunnels were carved in and around the mountain.  The entire park is like one huge museum.  The area is literally filled with discarded mining equipment, buildings, and tailings from the mining operations.  The center piece is the semi-restored Mohawk Stamp Mill located at the base of Eureka Peak, where 8 million dollars worth of gold is said to have be processed.

When one glances at the mountain from a distance, you would never imagine the amount of wealth that was found deep inside.  This same thing could also be said about you and me!  God has placed many unique and special talents and abilities deep within each of us.  But just like at Eureka Peak, the treasure within has to be dug out in order to be revealed.  For many the effort to tunnel out the gold through miles of rock was unthinkable, while to others with vision and determination, it was well worth the sweat and toil.

Where do you count yourself when it comes to discovering and then mining the treasures deep inside of you?  Psalm 92:5 says “How spectacular are your works, O Lord!  How very deep are your thoughts?”  (Gods Word ©)  One consoling part of this comparison is that we don’t need a pick and hammer in order to retrieve the deep things of God.  I Corinthians 2:10 says that “God has revealed those things to us by his Spirit.  The Spirit searches everything, especially the deep things of God.” (Gods Word ©)  We discover our hidden treasures by spending quiet time with God and by following the directions and leadings of the Helper that He has given to us as we study His Word.

Just think… it took multitudes of individuals, big business and countless thousands of dollars of equipment 92 years to pull out the riches God had hidden in Eureka Peak.  That’s a good lifetime for most of us.  It’s about the same amount of time that we can and should spend searching out and discovering ALL that God has placed deep in us. 

Hummm… hidden treasures inside.  It kind of gets you excited doesn’t it?  Think about all the riches that God has left just for you to find and profit by.  Riches of righteousness, peace, joy, gentleness, wisdom and honor, for you and for others to benefit from.  So, get determined, get focused and get EXPECTANT as you search for the hidden riches that were designed and planned specifically for you!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What RICHES am I expecting TO FIND today?”

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Mountain Hikes

Well, I must be on a travel binge right now!  All that talk yesterday, about traveling through the Word of God to find special locations that bring peace and victory, got me to dreaming about one of my favorite hikes.  You guessed it!  It’s in Plumas County California, and it is the centerpiece of Plumas Eureka State Park.  The 3 mile trail is called the Eureka Peak Loop Trail.  It is rated by the U.S. Forest Service as “Difficult.”  They say that it normally takes about 3 hours to complete, although I don’t think that we have ever completed it in less than four or more.  It’s probably because of all the spell-bounding views that the effort offers to the intrepid hiker!  At the very top of the peak there is a 360 degree view taking in almost every major peak in the county.  I always enjoy gazing through my binoculars trying to count how many Fire Observation Towers I can see sitting like beacons on the tops of the various peaks in the distance.

Looking off toward the north east you can spot the little town of Portola, which is the gateway to the Feather River Railroad Line.  The quant, old fashioned town which is nearly a mile high in elevation is flanked by mountains and is the Union Pacific crew change point.  It is a common event to see a train or two snaking their way around, through and over the lower peaks that are visible from the top of Eureka Peak.  I’m not sure how far the eye can see from the top, but I am pretty sure that you can see into the neighboring state of Nevada.  Without over exaggerating the point, I have to say that the view from the summit has to be one of the most breath-taking scenes that I have ever set my eyes upon.  It makes the strain of the steep trail up the mountain worth every bit of the effort!

And you know… It is the same kind of reward that one receives when they make the effort to climb through the heights of God’s Word!  A study-hike in God’s Word gives the student a mountain top view of the situations in their lives.  It gives you God’s line of sight on the questions that you have, or on the situation that you are facing.  When you get up to His higher elevation, the problem just doesn’t look as big as it did down at ground level.  It also gives you the chance to see more of the big picture, and it can help you in making better, more informed and successful decisions.

So… dig out those hiking boots (Gee here it is almost December and I just happen to have on my hiking shorts and boots! - - - Ah… life in California!), grab your hat, backpack, water container and your Bible and begin the journey up the hill, through the gorgeous Alpine meadows, up the steep, rocky hillside trail and forge on up to the top of the peak where you’ll find yourself alone with the Creator of the beautiful mountains.  There you will be surrounded by peace, rest and the spectacular views that are only available from God’s Word.  Then you’ll be as “the dwellers of the rock (who) sing, (and) shout from the mountaintops!”  (Isaiah 42:11 – Modern King James Version).  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What Mountain Tops am I expecting To Climb today?”

Monday, November 28, 2011

Suddenly Awake!

I awoke from a sound sleep this morning around 5:00 AM.  As my mind began to wonder over all the events going on in our family and in particular with my wife’s health, I was quickly drawn in thought to the fifth and sixth verses of Proverbs three.  It was as if a voice was speaking out to me saying, “Trust the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths smooth.”  (Gods Word ©)  As I began to quietly whisper those two verses over and over again, a restful calm came over me and I drifted back off into slumber for a few more hours.

Later when I arose for the day I went into the study, opened up a couple of translations to those same verses and began to study them.  In the course of time I was drawn to Psalm 23.  Both of those locations have provided an abundance of peace to me over the years.  The reality of the Lord being in total control in my life in the midst of trials and the picturesque visions that I imagine from the 23 Psalm have the effect of drawing me right into the very throne room of God where the calm is overwhelming and the victory won!

Do you have special places in the Word where you can travel to find locations of peace and victory for the rough events that occur in your life?  Jesus encouraged us in the book of Matthew to seek Him out.  He said, “seek and you shall find…” (Modern King James Version)  Just what is it that you will find?  Well, I think that answer is easy… you’ll find whatever good thing you are seeking to discover from Him, and that answer will always bring peace.

And speaking of looking for peace… as I was writing the above paragraph my lovely wife came in and proceeded to spill a cup of cocoa all over my mouse pad.  After the initial freaking out, I cleaned up the mess, apologized for flying out of my chair and then returned to Psalm 23:2 where He caused me to calmly lie down in green pastures and calmly walk beside the quiet waters…

Have a great day, stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday

My understanding of the meaning of the term “Black Friday” is that it stems from the belief (or statistical research) in the retail business, that if the business does well on that day, they will have a positive bottom line at the end of their fiscal year.  Therefore accounting wise, they will be in the “black” instead of in the “red.”  With that insight, you can have a better understanding as to the huge effort that stores will put out in order to pursue your business on that day.  It seems that they push the opening for sales on that day earlier and earlier into the morning hours.  In fact this year, many stores even opened late last night so that they could be first on your shopping list!

Isn’t it reassuring to know that our loving heavenly Father does not put all of His emphasis for His Love and His promises on one day of the year!  Isn't it great to have the assurance that everyday can be a “Black Friday” for us.  Each new day can be the time to take advantage of His special offerings of love, grace, strength, wisdom and forgiveness!  And if your miss or mess up on any of His special offerings, you always have a fresh and new opportunity the next day!

It is interesting to note that in declaring that “nothing can ever separate us from God’s love,” (Gods Word ©) the Apostle Paul in Romans 8:38 specifically speaks only of things in the present and the future.  He neglects to mention our past. Why?  Because our past problems and/or sins are forgiven and forgotten.  I vividly remember a conversation that I had this last year with our youngest son Jeremy.  We were discussing this subject when he mentioned that “yesterday is also part of our past!”  Most times we tend to think of our past as what we did years ago, but it also includes what we did as recent as the previous day.

That brings the thought of everyday being a new opportunity to be right with God and walk with a fresh and new way within the standards of His abundant life to an even greater light!  You see, we don’t have to put all of our hope into one day of the year.  We can have God’s best everyday of the year! 

I just had a thought about all the buzz and excitement that used to prevail at the Home Depot store in Oklahoma that I worked at on the night before Thanksgiving.  Since Thanksgiving was one of the two days a year that they were closed, we had to be ready for the Black Friday event before we left on Wednesday night.  As soon as the store was closed for the night my receiving and freight team and I would quickly endeavor to take down all the special stock that had been coming in during the previous months. The air was filled with the sounds of beeping from the electric fork lifts, the clatter of the pallet jacks as the department supervisors moved the merchandise to displays in and around their respective departments, and the chatter that flowed from the walkie-talkies as management coordinated the overall display plan.  This activity would usually go on into the wee hours of the morning, but by the time we all left, the aisles were filled with mountains of brightly displayed merchandise, all ready for the enthusiastic hordes that would line up on Friday morning.

You know what?  That’s a great example of the mountains of blessings that are ready and waiting in the aisles of our hearts each new day!  But while this is comparable to “Black Friday,” I think that it would be better for us to think of His daily blessings as a “Bright Friday,” or that each day brings along with it, a bright new opportunity for His abundant blessings for us… and then for us to share with those around us! 

Have a wonderfully blessed weekend.  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What Fresh New Blessings am I expecting today?”

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  This morning as I arose from my slumber, I began to consider all the things that I was thankful for that had occurred since this same time last year.  The more I thought on it, the more amazed I became at all the good things that had come our way.  The more at awe over the faithfulness of our heavenly Father due to the revelation of all the answered prayers.

Recently I read an article by Rev. Michael Bresciani entitled “What Were The Pilgrims Thankful For.”  In it he talked about the pilgrim's reasons that drove them to risk everything including death to fulfill their vision of religious freedom, taxation with representation, fair hearings before magistrates when charged with crimes, relief from oppressive monarchs and freedom to speak their minds without fear of reprisal.”  He went on to say that “Many of the things taken for granted and rarely mentioned in the thanksgiving prayers of today are what they were thankful for.”  In the conclusion Rev. Bresciani stated “The pilgrims were thankful for the beginning of their dream. We should be thankful for the fullness of that dream.”  (Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/93944)

I believe that the ending words of this article perfectly summed up my thoughts as I stood in my study in the early hours of this holiday morning.  As I looked back to a year ago, I pictured the prayers of faith that my wife and I had spoken that had become our vision for the coming year.  Then I began to count up all the answers to those requests that we had faithfully stood by throughout the times of turmoil, confusion, accusation, and many bleak moments, as I sat at the bottom of our stairs in the dark of night, tearfully thanking God for what we believed on in His word, even though it looked like the total opposite was happening!  Like the Pilgrims, I could see the beginning of our dreams, and like Americans today, I can see the fullness of many of those same dreams in operation in our lives on this Thanksgiving Day 2011.

What are you thankful for today?  What prayers, dreams and visions are you seeing in their various stages of completion?  I Thessalonians 5:24 in the Modern King James Version says “Faithful is he that called you, who also will do it.” 

So I encourage you on this Thanksgiving Day, to focus your attention on HIS faithfulness to you, and on all the things that He has done, is in the process of doing, and also on those things ahead that He will do for you.  The Apostle Paul seemed to put it all into perspective when he stated previous to his comments in verse 24 to “Always be joyful.  Never stop praying.  Whatever happens give thanks, because it is God’s will in Christ Jesus that you do this.”  (I Thessalonians 5:16-18 - Gods Word ©)

Have a wonderful and thankful Thanksgiving today in whatever manner in which you celebrate the holiday festivities.  Stay tuned and keep asking yourselves… “What am I expecting to be THANKFUL for today?”

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Patience - part three

The Apostle Paul considered patience to be an integral part of the message of the Good News of Jesus Christ.  He named it among the nine fruit of the Spirit as described in Galatians 5:22 – 23.  It is one of the nine traits that he taught us to incorporate into our lives if we are to live successfully in the world.  He felt that walking in the Spirit was the key to living the God kind of life.  He said, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25 – King James Version)

Patience in the original Greek means endurance, constancy, perseverance, longsuffering and slowness in avenging wrongs. (See Thayer’s Greek Definitions for Strong’s G3115).  In a way, it is a sort of safeguard against taking a quick action in immediate response to a situation that you might regret later!  During the time spent in patient reflection one has the opportunity to learn and pursue the correct course of action.  Sometimes that action simply involves doing nothing! Many times (like I wrote about yesterday) it’s forgive and forget.  Other times it means facing the problem head on, then again it could be like I’ve also learned, to swallow your pride and just do whatever needs to be done, no matter what people think!

Patience is a powerful accessory in our tool box of life.  Look at the strong example in Paul’s life.  He constantly faced accusation and hostility.  He’d just get going good in a meeting in a certain city when dissenters from the last city would come in and break up his service.  When he finally cried out to God for help, the Lord simply replied “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)  He didn’t want Paul getting all worked up over the distractions that the devil sent his way.  He wanted Paul to stay focused and in love.  Patience combined with love make an immovable force in your life for God!

Isn’t that really the force and or power that you want in your daily life?  I know that it’s what I desire!  Most of us like to be in control of the various situations that we deal with on a regular basis.  Patience is one of the most important attributes we can use to keep the control we need in order to win the race of life!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I PATIENTLY expecting today?”

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Patience - part two

Yesterday I began to share a few thoughts about patience with you.  I described some of my successes and mentioned that there were also some areas that I’m still working on.  Let’s take a peek at one of those opportunities today.

If you recall, the first part of Webster’s original 1828 dictionary definition of the word patience is centered around the suffering of afflictions with a ”calm and unruffled temper,” and “endurance without murmuring.”  This has been one of the toughest lessons I am learning in this journey of faith around my wife’s health issues. I have mentioned numerous times in the course of this blog about a few family members who have made some, shall we say, not too encouraging accusations about me, in the course of their reaction to the situation.

The emotional drama associated with those comments have been a challenge for me to deal with.  I never realized all the thoughts that can go through a person’s mind when a trust is broken.  As I read the word I can clearly see how the Lord wants me to respond in this situation, but I have to tell you, the doing hasn’t been as easy as it probably should be!  I have repeatedly found myself in the act of forgiving only to have the thoughts reappear a little while later.

What finally clinched it for me occurred when I read the story of Jesus’ return to His hometown of Nazareth after His temptation in the wilderness.  One of the important things to remember is that this was at the very beginning of His public ministry.  The story as related in Luke 4:14-28 tells how Jesus went into His home church, read a prophecy from the book of Isaiah and then shared how it was fulfilled that day in Him.

It is interesting to note that Jesus understood that the people would doubt Him and then make accusations against Him.  He bluntly stated to them that “A prophet isn’t accepted in his hometown.”  (Luke 4:24 – Gods Word ©)  He also recalled a couple of stories of how similar things had happened to Elijah the prophet.

The part that really spoke to my heart though, was Jesus’ response to the people’s hurtful words and drastic actions.  (Remember this was His home church filled with family and friends!) The story ends with the simple statement “But Jesus walked right by them and went away.”  That was it!  He did not come back with some clever arguments to prove them wrong and justify himself.  I’m sure He just gave them a loving smile and calmly walked right through the midst of them.  If I read it right, He never spoke of it again in any way.  No criticizing words or complaints made about the incident later to His disciples.  No “poor me” reactions, just forgiveness and love.  His eyes were fully focused on His dedication to His calling and the need to walk in love.

That put an end to my inward battle.  My focus is now centered on what I am called to believe and do according to His word.  That’s all that matters.  I desire His will to be done “in earth as it is in heaven.”  (Matthew 6:10 – King James Version)  His will is to walk in love and forgiveness.

I want to be part of His plan… how about you?  Is there someone whom you need to forgive so that you can be free to be (an example of) and to accomplish His plan in your life?  If you remember the end of story, Jesus’ family became strong believers and important leaders in the church after Jesus went back to heaven.  The book of James was written by Jesus’ brother who had become the leader of the Jerusalem council.  When Peter, Paul and the rest of the leadership of the early church confronted issues that needed clear direction, they went to James for the decision. (See Acts 15) If Jesus had acted out in self defense at the beginning of His ministry, they might have taken a different path.

No matter what insignificant accusations are made toward me, I want my actions or reactions to lend themselves to the growth of the gospel message in the lives of the very ones that I am close to.  I think that is why Jesus’ way is called the “Good News!”  Many times patience is the direct connection to that way of life!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What Good News am I expecting to be a part of today?"

Monday, November 21, 2011

Patience – part one

Yesterday afternoon when my wife and I laid down for a quick siesta, I fell into a deep dreamy sleep.  Within what seemed like just a few moments, I saw myself standing in front of a large congregation preaching a message about patience.  Now to be perfectly honest, I do not remember what I was saying, nor do I recall if the audience was listening intently or dosing off from boredom!  But what does come back to me is that I immediately began to think about the meaning of patience and all that I have personally learned over the last few years about it.

Webster’s original 1828 dictionary says that patience means, “the suffering of afflictions, pain, toil, calamity, provocation or other evil with a calm unruffled temper; endurance without murmuring or fretfulness.”  It also defines it as “The act or quality of waiting long for justice or expected good without discontent.”  As I look over the two parts of that definition, I can see where I have faired pretty good with the second part, but not so well with the first. Let’s consider my successes today and tomorrow we’ll examine where I might have fallen a little short of the mark.

If you guessed that I’m going to talk about my favorite subject of having good expectations that are solidly based on the truth of God’s word, you’re right!  That is part of the patience test where I have received some level of success.  Has it been easy?  NO WAY!  Have I lost my cool at times?  I am sad to say that I have!  Have I steadily progressed? Once again the answer is YES!

One of the suggestions that our doctor gave to me concerning the partaking of meals with my wife, was that I should slow down my pace to match hers.  This bit of wisdom has proven very valuable not only with meals but also with just about anything that we do!  I can look back over the last few months and see my improvement and the peace that patience brings into our relationship in these difficult times.  Little things like getting in and out of the car would drive me crazy!  A couple of times it took my wife over twenty minutes to get out of the car… all the while with me impatiently steaming and prodding at her!  Now that I have set aside my “fast pace” I am more able to encourage and assist her.  This has resulted in her being more confident in thinking through her motions, which enables her to make the transaction with more grace and speed!  I have found that it is almost always best to allow her to do as much as possible by herself.

Now I find myself reminding others to relax and slow down when they are with my wife.  It is even kind of funny to see the progression as they are wanting to rush things along, first by using encouraging words followed rapidly by a helping hand and then an all out effort to muscle her around.  This actually makes matters worse as she gets confused (as well as a little stubborn!) and then just freezes up.  Patience on my part has made all the difference in our world!  Besides, what’s all the rush about anyway!

Where does this particular type of patience have its roots?  From my assurance found in the word of God!  Remember, the Word says that “faith assures us of things we expect.” (Hebrews 11:1 – Gods Word ©)  You see I can take all the time it needs right now to make my wife’s life easier because I am assured that her difficulty to perform these takes will not last forever.  When the healing is completed, I would rather she remember how much of a encourager I was to her, instead of what a burden (or thief!) I was to her faith at the time!

How’s your patience doing today?  You know, with the holidays coming up, your patience might just receive a little testing!  Will you pass the exam?  Think about it!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Friday, November 18, 2011

What A Week!

Well it’s finally Friday and the end of what seemed to me to be a very long week, is in sight!  I’m not sure why, but everyday this week has been filled with responsibilities and other activities that needed to be completed in a timely manner.  Sound familiar?  I am sure that it does!

Isn’t it nice to know that how we feel doesn’t need to be governed by the expanse of our weekly schedule?  I told my wife last night that we were just going to relax and take it easy today.  But when I began to look at the unfinished items on my weekly To Do List this morning, I realized, with a certain sense of exasperation, that there were still many items to be completed TODAY!  Ahhh!!! 

But then, as I began to offer the blessing over our breakfast meal, I suddenly found myself becoming overwhelmed with praise and thanksgiving to God.  My wife joined in and together we spent a good amount of time just thanking Him for all that He has been doing for us and then praising Him for the truth of His word that we have been experiencing.

You know what?  I could physically feel His strength flowing into me, and began to notice that my attitude had begun to change from one of drudgery to EXPECTATION!  You talk about WOW!  But, when breakfast was over and the table cleaned, those same old feelings of YUK began to make resurgence within me.  And to make matters even worse… I began to entertain them!  I finally got a hold of my better sense as I came into the study to write this post and looked into His word for another shot of spiritual as well as physical adrenaline.

My eyes went right to my morning Bible study notes where I had copied and personalized Romans 8:1 & 2 from the Gods Word translation and I read, “So those of us who are believers in Christ Jesus can NO LONGER be condemned.  For the standards of the law of the Spirit who gives life (the Zoe life = the absolute fullness of life) through Christ Jesus have set me free from the standards of the law of sin and death!”  There you go… another WOW!  We’ve been set free from drudgery, depression and the desire to give up and go back to bed!

As Christians, you and I have access to that Zoe Life.  This is the life of God that is defined as “the state of one who is possessed of vitality or is animate; the absolute fullness of life; life that is real and genuine, a life active and vigorous, devoted to God, blessed in the portion EVEN in this world of those who put their trust in Christ…” (Thayer’s Greek Definitions for Strong’s G2222 – “Life” as used in Romans 8:2) 

So… as they would say, “put that in your pipe and smoke it!”  Okay, so maybe that’s not the best way to put it, but you get my point!  Once you get that truth inside of you, whether you feel like it or not at the time, you will eventually begin to break free from effects of the cares of this world and begin to rejoice in the Lord for the freedoms that He has made available for you!

Therefore REJOICE with me this weekend!  Let His joy fill you and then spill out of you as you go about your responsibilities and pleasures this weekend!  Enjoy yourselves!  We’ll talk again on Monday, but until then, stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting TO ENJOY today?”

Thursday, November 17, 2011

How Not To Live a Life of Terror!

I know that I had mentioned before about the multitude of doctors, medical technicians, nurses, and counselors that we have talked with since we began this journey of faith surrounding my wife’s health concerns.  As I was pondering a bit of new advice and insight that I had recently received, I began to realize what a horrible thing it would be to live this life without any hope.  I came to this shocking discovery as I considered the understanding that most of the counsel that we have been receiving has been based on a final outcome of defeat, or maybe more bluntly stated… death!

While I have used this as a caveat when discussing my wife’s health with those who are not of the faith, I have found myself becoming confused and at times angry when those who profess to be Christians tend not to agree with our stand of faith by picking at and then dwelling on what they mistakenly see as failures in our past.  What I came to see through this new information, was that these people ultimately have no hope for my wife to walk totally free of the attack of sickness on her body.  While they may also talk a good word about God’s healing power, it always becomes a conditional statement that cancels their faith when they begin to add the “but" you should be doing this or that!  This lack of hope is what has caused them to react in the negative ways that have occurred.  As this understanding began to unfold before me, I almost started to weep for them.

I have always had the type of personality that is kind of laid back and optimistic. This outlook on life has only become stronger and more prevalent as my faith and confidence in God and His word have intensified in me over the years.  This perspective on life usually causes those to whom we have come in contact with in the medical profession to comment on how well I am handling the events surrounding my wife’s case. 

It’s funny that the opposite has come out with some of those Christians that I mentioned previously.  They have mistakenly taken my outward appearance as a lack of concern or effort to do the right thing!  They failed to ask about the hours of research that I have been involved with over the last four years, the countless phone calls and emails that I have made to medical professionals, counselors, benefit providers, natural health specialists and pastoral care professionals.

Do I openly talk about all this effort?  At times, but only to those who need to know.  I want people to understand that while I keep very informed as to the natural procedures that can assist my wife, my wholehearted faith and total EXPECTATION is based on the truth of God’s word working for her!  Without that solidly based expectation, I would have no hope and my life as well as my help to my wife in this situation would be worthless.

I now have a better understanding and concern for those who have no hope.  It helps me to understand the fear, anger and critical remarks that have come out.  It is causing me to reach out and love with the God kind of love.  It is helping me to share what Jesus taught in Matthew 7:24-25 about the one who built his house on the rock.  That when the “Rain poured, and floods came.  Winds blew and beat against that house… it did not collapse, because its foundation was on rock.”  (Gods Word ©)  The ROCK being that of Jesus Christ and the truth of His word.

My job as well as yours is clear.  We are to be portrayers of that life that is based on THE ROCK!  We are to love those who have no hope by drawing them into a life that gives them the EXPECTATION of a confident, successful finish.  A way that is not terrifying, but terrifically wonderful.  A way that is led by the loving arms of our loving heavenly Father.  A life of peace, joy and love that only He can give.  So, stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting to portray today?”

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Coming Home

I had a tough time staying asleep last night.  I’m not sure if it was because of all the pent up emotions from the pressures of going to my wife’s doctors appointment in the City yesterday or not, but I just never really fell into a deep peaceful sleep.  It’s also kind of funny because it seemed like our dog was also quite restless.  With the colder nights, she has been sleeping at the foot of our bed.  She actually starts at the foot and then by morning has worked her way up the bed so that she is snuggled warmly between my wife and I!

Last night she seemed to be changing positions throughout the night.  During one of these episodes, I rolled over and looked at the clock, observing that it was 1:32 am.  The dog had stood up, turned around and then jumped off the bed.  She went and made herself comfortable on the floor in a corner of the room.  Mind you now, I had purchased a large doggie pillow for her to sleep on, but she refuses to use it as a bed, but instead as a large toy to drag around the room!  Anyway… I thought it to be unusual that she had jumped off and began to wonder how long it would take her to return to the soft, warm bed.

That time came exactly twenty minutes later at 1:52 am!  Once she had re-established herself against my legs, I chuckled to myself and suddenly began to think about how this was similar to those who walk away from God, only to return at a later point in time.  My thoughts were not necessarily centered around those who turn away from God to live a deviant lifestyle, but to those who just get distracted with the events of life. For some it’s the demands of their jobs, for others it’s keeping up with all their kids activities, it can be just about anything.  Countless events can act as a hook to pull our focus away from the things of God, and the peace that only His love can give us.

I know that for me, it can be easy to allow myself to dwell on the few (very few!) people who have pulled away or even against us throughout the fight of faith for my wife’s health.  Paul tells us to let God’s peace “guard your thoughts and emotions through Christ Jesus” and to “keep your thoughts on whatever is right!”  (Philippians 4:7-8 Gods Word ©)  When we get distracted and drift away from God, His peace can no longer guard us.

But be of good cheer for Romans 8:38 says “that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love…”  (Gods Word ©)  I firmly believe that God’s reaction to us when we come to our senses and come running back to Him are the same as when our dog returned to the warm, cushy bed in the wee hours of the morning today.  I’m sure that He chuckles inside with the knowing love that only a father can have and understand and welcomes us back with open arms.

So don’t let pride or fear keep you from coming home into the arms of our loving heavenly Father, for He is eagerly and lovingly awaiting your return to Him.  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”  

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Eyes of Faith

Well, were off to the doctor again today.  We were not able to make the last appointment, and I wanted to make sure that my wife got in before all the holiday gatherings, so that I would have up to date information in order to answer all the relatives questions.  This weekend I was thinking about the multitude of doctors, nurses, technicians and other medical personnel that we have seen over the last four years.  With all that input, it can be real easy to allow your emotions to fall into the trap of believing the current diagnosis that medical science has to offer for this disease. 

That’s where the importance of what I shared in the blog yesterday (“I CAN Get Some Satisfaction!” – 11/14/11) comes into play.  The only thing that can satisfy us and is the foundation of what we are EXPECTING is the word of God!  Once again, Hebrews 11:1 states that “Faith assures us of the things we expect…”  (Gods Word ©), and we know that our faith only comes “by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17 King James Version). 

I am very thankful for all of those medical specialists that we have seen over the years.  Their help and concern has been invaluable, but the bottom line is that overall, we have decided to accept what Jesus says about the outcome of sickness and disease.  I thank God daily, that we have a higher source, an expert on the subject, Who’s word in infallible!

I have to tell you, that it is only because of THAT WORD that I am able to make it through the daily events of our current situation.  For me it is continually looking past what I see on the outside and concentrating on what the Word says about the ever increasing, visible results of the healing that is in motion within my wife.

And so, I encourage you today to look past any adverse situation that you may see, to stand strong on the His word, and like me, to see with the eyes of faith!  Remember, “God raised him to the highest place above and gave him the name that is greater than any other name.”  (Philippians 2:9 – Good News Bible)  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What Good Things am I expecting To See today?”

Monday, November 14, 2011

I CAN Get Some Satisfaction!

I am not sure why, but I fully awoke this morning about an hour before I usually get up.  After doddling around for about a half an hour, I finally got the coffee brewing and went into my study to spend my early time in the Word.  I finally figured out that the Lord wanted me to spend some extra time with Him today.

After some time spent in Romans and in prayer, I was led to an old favorite of mine in Matthew 5:6.  I especially like the King James Version of this verse.  In it Jesus says, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled.”  The word “filled” is also translated as “satisfied” or “satiated.”  Vincent’s Word Studies states that it is a “very strong and graphic word” that “expresses the complete satisfaction of spiritual hunger.”

I believe that all mankind is searching for God whether they know it or not.  To me it is that same inner drive and desire that will cause an adopted child to search for their biological parents.  People will seek out and use all kinds of things to satisfy that hunger that they have inside them.  It can be anything from destructive habits to accepted activities such as video games, movies, jogging, sports, cars and the like.  The funny thing though, is that none of these things will give the participant the real and complete satisfaction that they desire.

According to Jesus as recorded in Matthew 5:6, thecomplete satisfaction will only come when you go after the things that are right in God’s eyes.  And those things can only be found through a right relationship with our loving heavenly Father and an ever increasing knowledge of His word along with our corresponding actions of faith.

So… if your feeling a little empty today, I would suggest that you fill that void with a dose of the power packed, energy giving, faith producing substance of God’s word!  In fact, take some extra so that you can share it with others!  Have a terrific Monday, stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting Today!”

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Bundle of Joy!

Today is Veterans Day and I would personally like to thank all of those who have unselfishly given of themselves in the service of our country.  May the Lord continue to richly bless you and yours in the years ahead!

Today is also very important to me, as it is our oldest daughter’s birthday.  I can clearly remember that late afternoon walk that my very pregnant wife and I took only a few days before the calculated due date of our second child.  Although we had carefully investigated and decided upon both a male and female name for the child, as we did not know what the final outcome would be, we were both tending to feel like we were going to have another boy… until that fateful day!  As we walked past our elderly next door neighbor’s house late on that chilly November afternoon, I suddenly sensed a change inside of me.  I paused for a moment, took my wife’s hands in mine, looked into her sweet brown eyes and softly said, “What if we have a girl?”  She simply returned my heart-felt gaze and said, “That would be great!”

The name that we had originally chosen for this child, if it was to be a girl, was Rebekah Kaye.  We had a friend at the time who had the cutest little girl whose name was Rebekah, and my wife’s middle name is Kaye.  It just had a neat ring to it!  But as soon as our eyes met on the sidewalk during that walk, we both knew that that wasn’t to be her name.  We quickly were led to the name of Jamie Joy as I had grown up in my family with the nickname of Jamie and both my wife and I really liked the name.  It was also an usual name for a girl at that time.  The second name was easy because after our experience on that walk, we knew that this child would bring great joy to all that she came in contact with.

So on November 11, 1982 our little bundle of joy, Jamie Joy, came into this world.  Jamie was all girl from the very beginning.  There was never any tom-boy stuff in her (unlike her mother).  She loved her dresses, playing the heroine in their make-believe world on the frontier with her older brother, and loved to dance in ballet.  It was kind of funny to see the subtle differences between Jamie and our youngest daughter in their approaches to ballet.  While Jamie may not have had the driving passion and striving for the exacting technique that JoAnna has (at 22, she currently takes private lessons with the desire to teach), she definitely had the “Stage Presence!”  I think it was all part of that “joy” that we knew she would (and still does) carry with her. 

I can vividly recall the ballet performance of Peter Pan that Jamie participated in when she was in high school.  While she did not get the lead role of Peter, she did play Captain Hook.  And to say the least, she stole the show with her depiction of the Disney cartoon movie’s bumbling character.  Her slinking on and off the stage, purposeful rendition of tripping over people and things (all while dancing) and her humorous hand and body motions had the entire audience in stitches!

Jamie has since married and now lives with her wonderful husband David in North Carolina.  She had been my rock to lean one when everything came to light concerning my wife’s health.  She and David where residing in Stockton, California at the time and were only a few hours away if I needed her.  When my wife had her initial seizure, Jamie was the first family member that I called.  She immediately took charge of calling everyone else and then headed to Santa Rosa.  When she announced David’s terrific new engineering position with Cisco and their impending move east, I was both excited (because of ALL the hard work they had put in to get to this place in life) and shocked at the same time as my rock would be moving about 3000 miles away!

Well, thanks to the modern technology of cell phones, texting, email and Skype, it is almost like they never left!  She is still my rock and is available for me to talk with at anytime.  In fact, I use Jamie as my sounding board for all my outrageous Children’ Church ideas.  She was one of my best Lead Teachers before she married and moved away, and as I said, has always had a flare and love for drama.

Happy 29th Birthday, Honey!  And may your spreading of the “joy of the Lord” (Nehemiah 8:10, King James Version) not only be your strength, but continue to be the blessing of God to all that you come in contact with!  WE LOVE YOU!

Say everyone, have a GREAT weekend, and if there is someone special in your life, give them a call, or send them a text or email and let them know how special they are to you!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself…  “What (or WHO) am I expecting (to bless) today?”

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Feeling Like A Space Case!

Yesterday I fought one of those sickening migraines and when I got up this morning I felt, as we used to say in the seventies, like a “Space Case!”  I think that the commonality of the use of that phrase must have come from all the communes that used to exist in the hills between our fair city and the coast. (some probably still do!)  Northern California has always leaned toward more liberal politics and in the sixties and seventies abounded with people seeking to live freely, unencumbered from the traditional ways most of us follow.

I can remember back in 1972 when I was attending Junior College and my English 1A Professor invited the entire class out to his place for an after finals party.  He just happened to have lived in one of these communes.  When my girlfriend (and future wife) and I arrived,  we were a little taken back when we realized that many of the residents lived in converted chicken coops!  My Prof lived in the only house on the property with his wife and infant daughter.  What I also recall is how unrelentingly the teacher quizzed the two of us, wanting to know why we went to the front door instead of just going through the (old and very dilapidated) back porch!

But, back to this morning...  After getting the coffee going I went into my study, sat heavily in my chair and then stared at the computer screen where I have a vacation picture of my wife and I set up as the background screen.  As I fought back the emotions, I thought about how different my wife looked in that picture, which was taken only a few years ago, compared to the changes that have taken place in her appearance as a result of the effects of the Dementia.

As I sat transfixed in thought, I caught a glance of my open Bible laying next to my keyboard.  Turning toward it, I noticed that it was still open to Psalms 16 from yesterday.  My eyes were immediately drawn to the second verse and I read aloud, “I said to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord.  Without you, I have nothing good.’” (Gods Word ©)  My eyes then drifted right back to the picture on the screen and I heard that small still voice inside me clearly say, “If that is true, then the opposite of it is also true… With Me you have everything”  Then, He answered the silent plea that had been going through my mind as He stated, “Yes, Jim, you will see her that way again!”

In my excitement of the moment I spun around and grabbed my NIV Study Bible in order to read God’s promise to us from Romans 8:1-2.  It says “Therefore, there is NOW NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me FREE from the law of sin and death.”  With that I looked through my online commentaries to find the original meaning of the word “condemnation.”  According to James Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, the word means “an adverse verdict or sentence.”  What it confirmed to me is that we are FREE from the adverse sentence that the law of sin and death placed on those who were under it.  Jesus has set us FREE from that law and we are NOW instead, under the sentence or verdict of the “law of the Spirit of Life!”  The effects of that statement of truth were quick and powerful for me this morning.  It was like having the “Space Case” immediately thrown out of court and replaced with the winning defense of the “Jesus Case!”

Do you find yourself fighting a losing battle with the lying verdicts that the enemy of our souls has delivered to you?  Well, it’s time to take Romans 8:1-2 to heart and fill that “Space” in your life with the everlasting, solidly TRUE foundation of God’s Word.  The Holy Spirit who works as our legal aid, always wins His case!  You are already on the winning side.  Now you just need to live like it!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… What CASE am I Expecting TO WIN Today?”

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Fragrant Aromas...

I have been studying in the second chapter of the book of 2 Corinthians for a few days now.  Yesterday the picture of us being a fragrant aroma really captured my attention. Kinda like walking past the coffee section in our local Safeway does when someone has just grounded up some gourmet beans. I think that my wife must get tired of the same remark that I make every time we smell it.  It always takes me by pleasant surprise and I begin to savor the thought of a hot cup of delicious coffee and say… “Gee that smells good!”  Verse 15 says that “To God we are the aroma of Christ among those who are saved and among those who are dying.”  (Gods Word ©) 

I can remember something that the Pastor of the second church that had come out of the tiny group that met in that old motel room that I mentioned last Friday (11-4-11 “Using The Right Tool”) shared with me when we were alone one day.  His told of an intimate time of Praise and Worship that the Holiness congregation he had Pastored, about ten years previously, had experienced on a warm summer evening.  He said that they had just finished singing a very worshipful song unto the Lord and were quietly sitting in the old church building with all the windows open, when the room was suddenly filled with the soft fragrance of roses.  He related how it was a glorious and awe inspiring occasion that was definitely a move of the Spirit, as there were no rose bushes planted anywhere in the vicinity of the church grounds.

He described the phenomenon as the presence of the Lord, Who had come into the room in response to their heart felt worship to Him.  It was just like the verse in 2 Corinthians 2:15.  It was the physical manifestation of the “aroma of Christ.” 

I have thought about that story many times over the years since then, especially during those intimate times of worship that we have experienced.  Have you ever sensed or actually smelled the fragrance of Jesus in your midst?  2 Corinthians 2:15 says that we are that fragrance to others!  Think about that the next time that you go to the mall, or to the auto parts store, or to pick up your kids from school.  Consider the aroma of Christ that you carry along with you.  Does your outside appearance, your attitude and the words you use match the fragrance that is emitting from your spirit?

Whoa!  That will get you thinking huh?  Have a great day, stay tuned and keep asking your self… “What am I expecting to smell like today? (!!!)”

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

From Failure To Success!

I had kind of a weird experience in the wee hours of the morning today.  I suddenly awoke around 5:30 and began to think about this blog!  I mentally reviewed what I had shared yesterday, especially concerning the beautiful blooms on the red geranium.  From there is was almost like I was sitting in front of the TV as I watched a video replay of all the times that I went out and harvested an abundance of tomatoes, basil, rosemary and artichokes from the lush green foliage of the various plants in our garden.  It has been many years since we have had a harvest similar to the successful one that we enjoyed this year.  This summer we got to enjoy some of our old time favorites including fresh tomato and basil salad mixed with olive oil, garlic (lots!), parmesan cheese, and a touch of salt and pepper, pesto made with with freshly picked basil, olive oil and parmesan cheese, and then the crème de la crème… fresh artichokes steamed in olive oil, water and garlic!  The last time that we successfully grew and enjoyed our own artichokes was way back in the summer of 1978!

With all those remembrances vividly flooding my mind this morning, I had to arise from the bed and throw up my arms in thanksgiving and praise to God!  He is so faithful to those who never give up but keep their fervent trust in Him.  If you would have seen the harvest (if you want to call it that) from our first attempt at a garden in this house last year, you would then understand my joyous reaction to this years experience.

In the spring of 2009 I went out and aggressively pruned back the branches of the flowering tree that is planted in the only dirt area in our larger patio.  This action allowed the sun to make its way to the ground in that spot.  I then turned the soil, added amendments and planted tomatoes, basil, and zucchini.  The only problem that I came to discover was that the sun only shone on that little stretch of ground for 3 to 4 hours a day.  After 3:00 pm the sun was blocked by a neighbor’s house!  Needless to say, our harvest of zucchini was nil and the tomatoes produced a fair amount of green fruit that never ripened!  The only fruit that we actually got to pick was a few tiny tomatoes from a cherry tomato that I had planted in a pot on the deck.  (This was before the infamous invasion of the rats that quickly ended the pursuit of anymore thoughts of harvest!)

I think I’ve already shared with you what our course of action was following the devastating results of that garden attempt.  We finally took care of the rats, and then planted everything for 2011 in pots filled with an excellent potting soil.  We placed these next to the back fence where the sun shone throughout the afternoon and also radiated heat from off the painted wood slates of the fence. The only thing we planted in the dirt area was a small artichoke shoot that my folks gave to us.

The point that the Lord showed me this morning, is that because we didn’t give up after failure and were faithful to the dream of a successful garden, that our efforts were greatly rewarded.  The fruits of those few plants were enough… in fact more than enough to satisfy our hungry desires as we were able to give away some of the excess harvest! 

Psalm 91:16 promises that God will satisfy us with a long life.  But it also depends on some effort on our behalf!  If we had shrugged our shoulders and just given up, we would have had to endure another summer of store bought vegetables that just don’t match up to the flavor and freshness of those that are picked, sliced and brought immediately to the table!

So once again, I encourage you to NOT GIVE UP!  Don’t let a little adversity or even a few failures stop you from pursuing the dreams and desires that God has placed in you.  Remember that our Heavenly Father is faithful.  He won’t give up on you, so why should you give up on Him?  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting to ACCOMPLISH today?”

Monday, November 7, 2011

Undercover Victory!

We have entered that time of year where I have to check the weather forecast every night in order to discern if I need to cover my tender outside plants overnight or not.  Last night was a good example, The weather listing on my iPhone said that it was supposed to go down to the mid thirties.  So I decided that it was best to be safe rather than sorry and to cover them against the treat of frost.  When I got up around 7:00 AM I looked outside and sure enough, there was frost on the rooftops as well as on our outside deck. 

Later in the morning I was temporarily stunned as I gently lifted off the covers, by the brightness of the red flowers from one of our geraniums that seemingly exploded right in front of my eyes.  What came to mind was the thought of how easily that vibrant beauty was hidden from view by a thin bed sheet.  It brought back the Word that I had read earlier from 2 Corinthians 2:14.  Here the Apostle Paul told of his thanksgiving to God “who always leads us in victory because of Christ Jesus…”  (Gods Word ©)  As I meditated on that familiar verse, I took it as an encouragement to never give up, even when the victory seems hidden from view or even totally impossible!

A few years ago my older son introduced me to the Dirk Pitt Adventure books written by the popular New York Times Best Selling author Clive Cussler.  He baited my interest by telling me that these books were just like Hardy Boys Mystery Adventures for adults.  I had grownup with a love for that series written by the fictional author Franklin W. Dixon and had helped to develop a similar interest in both of my sons in their childhood.  In the Cussler books the hero always finds himself in perilous situations with no hope for escape when suddenly, a miraculous solution is come upon that pulls him and whoever he is rescuing to safety, all within a hairs breath of calamity.

While these books are fictional in nature, they do contain an important comparison to our faith in God’s word.  Dirk Pitt is described as an individual bursting forth with confidence and a zest for life that enables him to spit in the eye of the grim reaper.  As Christians we should project the same confidence and zeal for life based solely on our unmovable faith in the power of Jesus Christ as our unflappable leader who always leads us in victory (see I Corinthians 1:24).  Like my pulling of the sheet trick this morning, we need to walk in such a way as to emulate our belief that the victory of our faith, although unseen, is available to us under the cover of the current situation that we might be experiencing in our lives.  The victory is there, it is just temporarily covered and waiting for us to pull it off!

So don’t give up.  Keep the picture of that bright red vibrant geranium hidden under that sheet forever before you, as you come ever closer to the unveiling of the victory that you are believing for!  Have a great day, stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What VICTORY am I expecting today?”

Friday, November 4, 2011

Using The Right Tool

I think the first time that I really started to conceptualize the concept of God helping to strengthen us physically was back in the early 1980’s.  After much seeking of the Lord’s guidance, my wife and I decided to leave the church we had been attending.  We felt that we were spiritually starving and had concerns about raising our budding family in that atmosphere.  Don’t get me wrong… It was a loving family centered church, but they never seemed to get beyond the Salvation message, and while I understand the paramount importance of this foundational truth of the Gospel, it is only the beginning of the journey of the Christian’s walk.  We both felt a gnawing hunger for the meat of the Word that the Apostle Paul talked about.

For months prior to this I kept noticing a tiny ad in the newspaper advertising a new church that was pastored by a graduate of Rhema Bible College in Tulsa Oklahoma.  Since we had been acquainted with that ministry for many years, we decided to give it a try.  The first service that we attended was on January first of that year and we never left.  A remnant of that fellowship stayed together through two other churches and was the foundation of the one we currently attend.

That tiny little fellowship called Faith Christian Fellowship was totally different to the large denominational church my wife had attended with her family since birth and then with me for the first eight years of our marriage.  And besides everything else, it met in a small room in a large old motel at the bad end of town.  You know what though, none of that mattered!  The depth of understanding that the Pastor brought to us from the Word was outstanding!  The satisfaction and awe that we felt as we went home each Sunday and Wednesday night far outweighed any inconvenience or lack of tradition!

It was in that bland hotel room where the Pastor’s wife first opened up my understanding of the reality of Romans 8:11 as she shared from her King James Bible.  “…he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his spirit that dwelleth in you.”  The idea of trusting God for your energy was a little foreign for both my wife and I.

We had come from different ends of the spectrum.  In my wife’s family sleep and naps held a high priority.  In mine, we learned to push ourselves in order to complete any task we endeavored to accomplish.  Naps were relatively unheard of unless we were recovering from a cold or the flu.  This revelation from the Word was actually quite freeing for both of us.  After learning this my wife didn’t have to always be concerned with wearing herself out and I didn’t have to always relay on my own strength.

God in His all-knowing wisdom and love for us has given us the practical tools that we need to be successful in this life (see II Peter 1:3).  Our job is to search them out and then learn to correctly use them!  This isn’t always as easy as it sounds, but the rewards are worth the effort that we put out in order to take Him at His Word!  Have a great weekend.  Let Him be your strength, stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting TO LEARN today?”

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Energy Drinks

This last Tuesday was an interesting day for me.  I had awoken with a slight headache that continued to increase in intensity throughout the day.  By the time my wife and I retired for the evening the headache had only gotten worse and made for a very fitful night’s sleep.  When I got up in the morning the migraine was gone, but my mind and body were quite exhausted from the ordeal.  Therefore I knowingly brewed a mug of strong coffee and retreated to the solitude of my study to ingest a strong dosage of the Word of God!  After an energizing workout in the book of Romans, I put down my Bible and pen and went upstairs to wake up my wife.

As we were getting ready for the day I began to tell her about my experience and how God wants to invigorate her physical body through His word. As I was sharing this my mind drifted back to a time at least ten years ago when we were involved in a summer VBS program at our church.  The scene opened up on the morning of the fourth day of the five day program.  I was standing at the front of the elementary Children’s room as the volunteer workers were entering for our quick meeting before the kids started to arrive.  As I looked across the room into the faces of our thirty plus member team, I could see the tiredness of the week’s activities coming out.  I myself was also feeling the strain as I had not only written the program, but was also coordinating the daily schedule, led some of the group teaching times as well as the multiple singing sessions throughout the morning.  Following the clean up each day I would quickly drive home, change my clothes and then go off to my secular job.

On that particular day I knew that I needed the Lord’s assistance in order to encourage and invigorate the team.  So, from deep inside, I pulled up a big smile and some energy that I didn’t know was there and proceeded to uplift them with natural encouragement, God’s Word and a funny interactive children’s song.  As we all piled out of the room on that Thursday morning the anointing of the Holy Ghost had taken over and we had one of the best, most fun days of the week!

In Romans 8:11 the Apostle Paul asks if the Spirit of Christ lives in us and says if so “Then the one who brought Christ back to life will also make your mortal bodies alive by his Spirit who lives in you.” (Gods Word © Translation)  The King James Version accurately translates the word “alive” as “quicken.”  The word in the original Greek actually means to revitalize the physical body.  So just like my experience ten years ago and then again on Wednesday morning, the Word I received into my heart acted as a spiritual caffeine that healthfully strengthened and energized my natural body!

I’ll share some more thoughts on this tomorrow, but for today, I want you to consider the power that is resident within the Word of God that is available to revitalize the natural makeup of our physical beings.  Isn’t God amazing?  And isn’t it amazing that He has made the power of His Word available to you and me?  So if you’re tired, exhausted or just worn out from the pressures in your life, take up your Bible and allow the One “that raised up Christ from the dead (to) also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you” (Romans 8:11 KJV – parenthesis mine)  Then, have a great day and keep asking yourself… “What Invigorating Things am I expecting today?”

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Go Get 'Em!

Well, today is the day that I decided to go out and face the leaves that are slowly overtaking our side patio.  As I have mentioned many times in this blog, we live in a beautiful park like community.  The area is filled with grassy knolls, fragrant flowers and shrubbery as well as a multitude of trees.  We have a rather large Oak tree that sits right outside this patio off our living room.   It straddles the space that separates our cluster home from one of our neighbors.  This particular neighbor has had some problems with water damage on the wall that faces our patio.  In the various conversations that I have had with her, I promised that I would keep the falling leaves from gathering along her foundation that is exposed in my yard.

The Oak tree is of the kind that sheds its leaves in the fall, which means I will have my work cut out for me.  My plan is to rake up the leaves, but not the fallen acorns.  My reasoning comes from our experiences last year when a small but persistent squirrel spent the majority of the winter months harvesting the nuts, while playing a game of cat and mouse with our dog.  It was actually a fun daily ritual to observe… and participate in. 

At first the squirrel would leap up to the fence top and quickly disappear when Mandie our dog, would bark at him through the large sliding window.  Then when he began to figure out that she couldn’t get to him, the squirrel would jump to the top of the fence and just stare back at the dog until my wife our I would get the pooch to quiet down.  Finally as his courage grew, in the final weeks of his harvest, the squirrel would just ignore the dog and concentrate on collecting the nuts off the patio until…

Well, let’s just say that I wanted to have a little fun with the dog and the squirrel!  In remembrance of an activity that my kids used to engage in with the family Sheltie when cats came into our backyard, I decided to give the squirrel a little thrill.  So when he appeared I would sneak across the living room, unnoticed by the varmint, get the dog’s attention and then throw open the slider so the dog had quick access to the patio.  Needless to say, the little fury critter would fly like the wind up and over the fence, or leap into the safety of the lower branches of the tree near the fence line.

Now before you get upset, I want you to know that I think the squirrel actually enjoyed playing the game, because he came back day after day and went through the same routine with us!  It was actually quite funny to watch and was good exercise for the dog as well as for the squirrel, I’m sure!  So what’s the point of all this… I’m not quite sure, but it was a fun memory to tell about!
But then again, for some winter can be a drab and depressing time, while for others it is filled with possibilities.  It’s kinda like my interactions with the dog and her squirrel friend.  That little patio is shady and dark most of the year.  It is not as inviting to go out and enjoy as our large back patio off the kitchen.  With the falling of the leaves and acorns though, the area lightens up and presents a whole new arena to play chase the squirrel!  I guess it’s all about what you want to make of the situations in your life.  You can choose to do nothing and become sedimentary or step out and make some fun in ways you’ve not considered before.

Are there things in your life that you can change for the positive?  I encourage you to take a look around and see what new arenas are available for you to step into and enjoy.  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What NEW THINGS am I expecting today?”

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Road Trip!

Mondays tend to be a relaxed day for us.  With everything that goes on during our weekends, we look forward to taking some time just to kick back and enjoy life.  Yesterday after writing the post, doing some laundry, and washing the floor in the kitchen and eating areas, I told my wife that we were going to go for a drive.  First of all though, we needed to take the dog for a walk so that she would be content when we left.  After that task was enjoyably completed we grab the camera and headed for the garage!

Recently we have been taking some day trips around the western part of the county that we live in, and this day was to have the same venue!  I decided to drive south and then west along a road that we hadn’t traveled for many years.  The view in this part of the county is filled with scenes of gentle rolling hills that are dotted with dairy farms, cattle, flocks of sheep and various horse ranches.  It is one of the few areas that does not abound with vineyards.  From there we drove out to the small fishing hamlet of Bodega Bay.  On the return trip we stayed on the coastal highway and proceeded through the tiny unincorporated town of Valley Ford (population of about 160!).

The clear blue skies and crisp autumn air gave way to the gorgeous expanse of grassy meadows that seemed to traverse up to the hills as far as our eyes could see.  This part of the highway runs through a little valley that hid our observations of the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean.  The tranquil beauty of the scenery was almost overwhelming.  It got me to thinking about a young David as he sat in similar surroundings tending to his sheep. His thoughts must have been similar to mine as he wrote in Psalm 65:12, “The meadows are covered with flocks and the valleys are mantled with grain, they shout for joy and sing.” (NIV)

Sometimes the works of our Creator take away one’s breath, and at other times they make you want to join them as they seem to sing out for joy.  That’s exactly what my wife and I experienced yesterday as we traveled through the wonder of what He made for us to enjoy.  Is there something that He has done for you that makes you want to sit in quiet awe or rejoice with bold song today?

Go ahead!  Let the praises flow and see how much better you feel when your done!  Have a GREAT day, and stay tuned while you keep asking yourself… “What GREAT THINGS am I expecting today?”