Our New Home

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

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Your Story: Acts 29

I have heard the Biblical book of Acts called by many names including the "Acts of the Apostles" and the "Acts of the Holy Spirit."  As I see it, the book should really be termed the "Acts of the Holy Spirit as demonstrated through the Church!"  It chronicles the life of the early church from Jesus’ resurrection until Paul’s house arrest some thirty plus years later.  As I noted yesterday though, the book does not come to a clean conclusion at the end of chapter 28.  It is as though it was purposely meant to continue.

I believe that the next chapter in the book of Acts is the one that is currently being written about you and me!  Chapter 29 is our story!  It is all about our daily lives and how the Holy Spirit is working through us in that part of the world that we individually as well as collectively touch each day.  How does your story read?

As I read the end of chapter 28 this morning, I was interested to observe that the people of Rome, both those who believed and those who did not, came in droves to hear from Paul.  Remember now, here is Paul, forcibly confined to his rented home, literally chained by his right hand to a soldier of the Praetorian guard, twenty four hours a day.  God was mightily using Paul right were he was currently situated.

This is a great lesson for you and me.  God is telling us to “bloom where we are planted!”  Sometimes we spend so much energy and time longing for the super ministry, the right church, the right location in the world, the right equipment, and the attentive crowds of people hungering for the word of God, that we miss the opportunities that are directly in front of us.  As I considered this today, I was immediately brought to remembrance of the time many years ago when my wife and I decided that she was called to stay home and not return to her job after maternity leave, following the upcoming birth of our first born child.

One of the big hurdles that my wife had to overcome was her disappointment at not being able to share the Good News with the abundant variety of individuals that she came into daily contact with on her job.  So, the first thing she did was to pray that since she couldn’t go out to them that God would bring people to our door… and you know what?  He did! Be it the door to door salesmen, the mail carriers, the Jehovah Witnesses, the young Mormons on their missions, or the myriad of neighbors that regularly came over, my wife joyously lived and shared the Good News with them.  There was even an incident when a mute teenage girl, whom we had never seen before, knocked on our door signing for help as she had been accosted by a group of boys a few blocks away.  It turned out that she had gone to our neighbors first and they immediately directed her to us!  This answer to my wife’s prayers continued even when we moved to Oklahoma!

How about you?  Once again I’ll ask, How does your story read?  What Acts of the Holy Spirit are being demonstrated through your life?  Not too long after our first son’s birth, a neighbor’s staunch Mormon husband knocked on our door asking for prayer for his back pain because his wife had told him of my wife’s friendship and faith. He left our home a little while later feeling relieved of the pain.  That incident opened the door to many more conversations throughout the few years that they lived across the street from us.

What stories are being recorded in Acts chapter 29 from your neighborhood, your job, your shopping experiences, or vacations, or from the multitude of events that capture your life?  Thank God that most of us don’t have to spend our days chained to a guard.  But then again, it didn’t stop Paul.  Just imagine how many of the Royal Guards got to hear the Good News!  Wow… what a story!  So enjoy yourselves today.  Live your life and your faith explicitly before your world today.  Then think about the volumes that are being written for later generations to read and be encouraged by.  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting To Have Written About Me today?”

Monday, January 30, 2012

Making Lemonade

Late yesterday afternoon my wife and I did a little grocery shopping and then took a leisurely drive into the beautiful country side just east of our home.  The weather was just perfect and the scenery was sublime.  As we drank in the intoxicating views of the lush green meadows that ran up to the side of the beautiful mountains, enjoyed the horses that abounded in the fields and looked with awe at the acres of grape vines that also stretched up to and onto any flat area available on the mountain sides, I was quickly reminded of why we live here.  I also took note that I needed to bring my newest son in law here when they visit this summer as a visual aid to assist him and our youngest daughter in their decision as to where they want to relocate when their stay in Oklahoma is completed!

As we drove down one familiar twisty mountain road, I marveled on one hand at how some of the homes and landmarks had not changed over the years, and then at the same time, at how many new homes, ranches and vineyards had been built since I last remembered driving that road in the mid 1990’s!  All those thoughts got me to thinking about the joys of our past and at what the future held.  I was reminded how a friend and I used to ride our 10 speeds along some of these narrow, winding roads for exercise and adventure when we were in High School.  Now I marvel at our stupidity!  (I’m sure our folks must have known where we were going.  They probably weren’t thinking about the shape the roads were in and the speed of the CLOSELY passing cars!)

This all came back to me this morning as I was pondering the last chapter in the book of Acts.  The story ends with Paul living in rented quarters, under house arrest while he “received all that came in unto to him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.”  (Acts 28:31 KJV)  This is said to be the only book in the Bible that is left uncompleted.  It is generally accepted that Paul was released from this detainment and went on to complete a fourth missionary journey before his death.  What I did not realize, until I read of it in one of my commentaries this morning, was that there was a group of early scholars who believed that Paul actually lived for another ten years following this time, and traveled into Italy, France and Spain.  (See: John Gill’s Exposition of The Entire Bible for Acts 28:30)

That possibility made me focus on the reality that one never really knows what good things our future may hold.  Just because you or I may be going through a tough period in our lives at the present, it doesn’t mean that God has given up on us.  His plan and purpose may have many more facets to it that are just beyond our plane of vision.  Romans 12:2 in the Gods Word Translation says to not “become like the people of this world.  Instead, change the way you think.  Then you will always be able to determine what God really wants – what is good, pleasing and perfect.”  So how should we think?  According to what the word of God says!  His word is His will for us.  As we keep our thoughts focused on His will, we will never grow weary and give up.

Most people today if they were in a similar situation as Paul’s, under house arrest, would have probably given up, drawn the curtains and sat all day entertaining themselves in front of the TV!  Not Paul. He shared the Good News of the revelation of Jesus Christ that he had received with everyone who came to visit, and in between visits took advantage of the down time to write some of the deepest doctrinal books of the New Testament.

It’s kind of like the old adage that when life deals you lemons, make lemonade!  So after much consideration about our future, I’ve decided to be like Paul and make the most of my time today, in preparation for what God has planned for our future.  How about you? A nice cool glass of lemonade might just taste mighty fine about now!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Friday, January 27, 2012

Going To The Mall

I wanted to take a moment today and thank all of you who regularly read our blog.  It is a great and yet humbling honor to be one of the voices that you allow to encourage you on a daily basis.  My thanks especially to those who leave comments on the blog itself or in facebook.  You are an encouragement and a great blessing to me.

I’ve been talking about the importance and the power of the Good News in our lives for awhile now, and I wanted to leave you on this Friday with another thought that you can carry into your weekend.  In talking about the mystery of the Gospel, Paul told his young protégé Timothy that “This message is valid for every era.”  (I Timothy 2:6 Gods Word ©)  Now that verse can be looked at from a variety of angles, but I wanted us to consider it from the thought that God’s message of Good News is valid at anytime, in any place.

In Hebrews 13:8 the author states that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.”  (Gods Word ©)  In other words, the things that He did for us and for others in the past (remember, yesterday is also the past!), He can and will do today and tomorrow!  He’s just like the Super Walmart that was near our home when we lived in Oklahoma.  It was open for business 24 hours a day.  There were many times when I would stop in the store after work at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning (I ran the Receiving and Freight teams at Home Depot) to pick up something to eat, or other items that I needed.  It didn’t matter the time of day you went there.  The store was always open, with every department available for shopping.  (And believe me, you could live in a Super Walmart… They offer just about every kind of service!)

That’s how the Good News of Jesus Christ is.  The chapters (or departments) in His book that contain His promises, are always available for us to browse through. So I would encourage you to take advantage of His sales this weekend.  Grab your Bible and go on a shopping spree.  I would also encourage you to find yourself a modern, accurate version of His word.  One that is easy for you to read and comprehend.  I have some older friends and relatives that are older in physical age than me, but yet younger in their Christian walk.  And it really hurts me to see them stuck in tradition by trying to relate to a version that uses old Elizabethan English rather that one that uses up to date terminology and wordage. 

Don’t get me wrong here… I love my King James Version and I use it as a foundation when I have questions concerning the meaning of particular passages, but it is not the translation that I live with on a daily basis.  As you know, I personally enjoy the Good News Version.  Not only is it a remarkably accurate translation, but it is also very easy to read and comprehend.  I truly believe that my friends would read more of the Word and get more out of it if they would consider using a more modern translation.

So, have a great weekend!  Set aside some time each day to go to God’s Shopping Mall and sample some of the merchandise from the Goodness of His heart for you.  We’ll see you again on Monday.  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What GOOD THINGS am I expecting to receive from God’s word today?”



Thursday, January 26, 2012

Things I've Surrounded Myself With

I guess that I am feeling a little philosophical today. As I sit here in my study contemplating life, I can turn to my left and gaze outside the window at the tree studded view upward to the overcast skies, down to the smartly manicured bushes, to the freshly cut lawns and the meandering pathways that grace our neighborhood community.  Refocusing inside the room, it is interesting to see the things that I have surrounded myself with.  Maps of the USA and the world where I dream of travel and ministry, pictures of hot cars like a black Corvette, as well as Mustang and Camaro convertibles, multiple portraits of my lovely wife on almost every wall, pictures of our kids, copies of meaningful scriptures, stacks of Bible research and study books (I really need to get some book shelves.  We sold all of the ones that we had before we moved back from Oklahoma and I have yet to replace them!), and a large collection of various Bible translations (a hobby I guess – I’m always on the lookout for great finds!).  Then on the wall near the door to the hallway is a printed flowchart of my vision for a local church ministry that burns deep inside.

It can be an eye opening event when one begins to honestly ponder the things that make their lives worth living.  I’ve come to realize that my dreams have been temporarily placed on the shelf as I have focused all my attention and heart on the care and healing of my precious wife. Sometimes (maybe like today…) I start to hear the distant verbalization of questions like “why?” or “what if?” or “what could I have possibly done differently twenty some years ago?” or “is this all there is?” emanating from somewhere deep in the back of my mind.  But I instantly come to my senses as I consider the love that God has for me and my wife.  I rest assured in the knowledge that He has promised us that “I will never abandon you or leave you.” (Hebrews 13:5 Gods Word ©), that He is with us wherever we go (Joshua 1:9) and that “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” Romans 8:37 KJV)

Refusing to give any ground to the voices of despair and focusing on the love that God has for you will quickly remove any doubt, under gird any weakness, and strengthen your faith as well as your physical steps toward the future He has planned for you to fulfill.  Like I’ve been writing about for a week or so now, it’s all about the Good News that He has for us.  So if you look around at all the things that you’ve placed around you, as I did today, remember to include the most important ONE who holds you tight in His arms of everlasting love.  All the other things have their meanings and place, but none will last an eternity and give you whatever you need, whenever you need it - anytime, any place.  And with that I will leave you today with His words of encouragement to “Be strong in the Lord and, in the power of His strength.”  (Ephesians 6:10 KJV)  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What GOOD THINGS am I expecting today?”

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Does What I Say Really Matter?

As I reviewed some of my study notes at the breakfast table with my wife today, I was reminded of an event that occurred late one night last week.  At that time I had awoken after only a few hours of sleep and found myself staring at the dark ceiling.  I was quite irritated as this had been happening repeatedly for months.  I finally threw off the covers and as quietly as possible stomped to the solitude of the rest room in order to sort things out alone with God.  After taking a few moments to verbally spout out my frustrations in prayer, a calming silence came upon me as I saw and heard my self like a HD movie being shown on our flat screen TV.  It was a scene from the previous day.  In it I was in our kitchen talking to a friend on the phone saying, “Yeah, I just don’t sleep very good anymore!”  As this played in my mind a familiar voice from deep inside said to me, “You know Jim, you’ve been saying that a lot lately!”

I have to admit that I was a little taken back as the movie scene disappeared and an eerie blue shadow from our night light was cast upon the reflection my face in the mirror over the sink.  As I looked deeply at my image, I knew in an instant that what I heard was correct.  Those words had become a common complaint that I had repeatedly voiced to whoever would listen.  In the space of only a few seconds I saw the folly of my ways, and decided to make some changes in the words that I spoke.

The Biblical truth that sent me on that ride down memory lane was in 2 Thessalonians 2:17.  In this part of his second letter to the church at Thessalonica, Paul is talking about God’s love and kindness.  He said, “May he encourage and strengthen you to do and SAY everything that is good.”  (Gods Word ©) God desires that we do and SAY only those things that are beneficial to our own lives as well as to those to whom we come into contact with.  The Bible speaks a lot about the importance of our words.  Proverbs 18:21 says that “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love to talk will have to eat their own words.”  (Gods Word ©)  In Mark 11:23 Jesus taught that if you believe what you say it will come to pass!  That’s a pretty convincing argument.

My wife always acted as my mouth guard.  She had this cute saying whenever she noticed that I was beginning to say things that could reap negative rewards.  Immediately after I would utter the words she would lean her head one way or the other, give me that wonderful sideways grin of hers and say (and not always real gently either…) “That’s your confession and I believe every word of it!”  Then she would turn and walk away.  I have to tell you, it would work EVERY time.  After a few steps she would usually stop and look back and then laugh at my look of chagrin!  During that late night adventure a few days ago, I realized that now that she in not able to be the voice of my conscious, that at 58 years old, I have to take responsibility for myself!  I have to be aware of the confessions that I make.  The Bible says that I have the power to choose life or death!  To say things that will benefit me, or words that will bring me down.  Since that night I have made the dedicated effort to say that “I sleep good at night.”  And you know what?  I have!

How about you?  Have you ever considered what types of seed your words are planting in the good ground of your life?  In the natural order of things this is the time of year where we should go out and prune our trees and bushes in order to assure proper growth, form and fruitage.  It might just be the right time for you look in the mirror (without the blue cast!) and do some pruning in the personal garden of your own life.  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting to CHANGE today?”

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

What Day Is It?

I Thessalonians 5:5 in the King James Version reads that we are “the children of light, and the children of the day…” Yesterday I related that verse to being enlightened by the Word and the Holy Ghost.  Today I wanted to take a slightly different track and look at it from the particular “day” that Paul may have been referring to.  John Gill in his Exposition of the Entire Bible says that this is talking about “the Gospel day, in distinction from the night of Jewish darkness.”  He is saying that we are now living in the age of the dispensation of the Good News of Jesus Christ.

It is a time when we as Christians can expect the good things of His new and better covenant.  Hebrews 8:6 says that “he (Jesus) is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.”  (KJV)  It is the time for us to receive and walk within the privileges and benefits of the salvation of our spiritual man as well as for our physical man.  It is the time for believers to have their days multiplied and walk “as the days of heaven upon the earth.”  (Deuteronomy 11:21 KJV)

That’s why the Gospel message is literally called The Good News!  Jesus said that He came that we might have life more abundantly.  (See: John 10:10) That is what we should be expecting everyday of our lives.  Yes, we may occasionally go through tough times, but He is ALWAYS there to help us through and to provide us with whatever we need to move on to victory.  That is the GOOD NEWS that we need to keep continually in our sights.  His BEST is what we should always come to EXPECT.

Okay… I’m ready for the day.  How about you!  After all, “if God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31 KJV)  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What GOOD THINGS am I STILL expecting today?”

Monday, January 23, 2012

Follow The Compass

It was darker than normal when I arose this morning due to the stormy weather that we have been experiencing for the last few days.  That darkness sort of followed me into the study as I had no idea as to where to begin!  As I sat there for awhile, the cloud in my head began to slowly dissipate and I opened up my Bible and started reviewing a few scriptures that we had been studying just before we turned the light out last night.  That seemed to work as the switch that finally turned on the light and I dove into my study with a clear view and high expectations of what I would see from God’s Word.

God is always so faithful as He enjoys teaching us through direct experience.  As I was concluding my study, I was reading in I Thessalonians chapter five where Paul is talking about Jesus’ coming back “like a thief in the night.”  (I Thessalonians 5:2 Gods Word ©)  He goes on to say though, that this event shouldn’t take Christians by surprise. He said we “don’t live in the dark” and that we “belong to the day and the light not to the night and the dark.” (verses 4-5 Gods Word ©)  These verses immediately got me to thinking about my experience that I mentioned above.

When I arose today, it was dark and I just allowed myself to go along with the natural flow of things.  I threw on a long sleeve black shirt, stumbled down the dark stairs, flipped on the light switch in the study but yet sat down in a darkened sense of awareness of the actions that I needed to follow in order to enlighten my day!  Paul strongly encourages us in the next verse in I Thessalonians “to not fall asleep like other people”, but to “stay awake and be sober.” (verse 6 - Gods Word ©)  In today’s terms he would be telling us to stay alert, in tune and responsive to the leadings of the Holy Spirit at all times!

So while nothing that I did or more importantly, didn’t do this morning was life threatening, it sure did point out to me the way that our Heavenly Father would rather that we function throughout our daily lives.  The moment we become born again Christians, we become different from others.  We no longer have to be moved by the natural flow of things happening around us.  I didn’t need to mope around this morning and waste valuable time sitting in an overcast-like state as I attempted to get things together.  As soon as I began to receive the Word, the spell was broken and I felt enlightened.  I guess that is what Paul meant when he said that we “belong to the day and the light!”

I choose therefore this and everyday to live in His light and by the illumination that He gives me through His Spirit that lives within.  Does that mean that I’ll never feel down or uninspired because of the dark and dreary weather and/or atmosphere around me?  No… but it does mean that I don’t have to let those feelings be my guide.  I just have to make the decision to put those thoughts aside and to listen to my heart and the truth of His Word and then allow them to act as my compass in the midst of the stormy weather.

Makes sense to me.  How about you?  His compass always leads us in the right direction.  It will allow you to get up above the dark clouds and into the bright light of the Son!  Have a great week.  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What Good Things am I expecting today?”

Friday, January 20, 2012

How To Handle The Pressure...

This morning as I was perusing through I Thessalonians, I became aware of the many times in which the Apostle Paul commended his fledging congregation for their successful love walk.  This is all the more interesting when you understand the events of the day.  From everything that I can gather, Paul and his evangelistic team had met with a heavy barrage of persecution when they began to minister and establish a church in Thessalonica.  Due to the pressure and potential violent situation, Paul cut his stay short and left after only about three weeks.  The young church was left to fend for themselves.  After a little while, a very concerned Paul sent his right hand man Timothy back to Thessalonica to report on the situation.

The first letter to the church in Thessalonica was written in response to Timothy’s good report back to Paul concerning the church’s standing.  From what I have shared with you in some of my recent blog postings, it is quite evident that the church had taken Paul’s teachings to heart and although they were struggling with the same persecutions from their friends and neighbors that Paul had encountered, their faith was active, their love was working overtime and they had complete confidence in the Good News that was brought to them. (I Thessalonians 1:3)

The point that really got my attention was that they were going through the same difficult persecutions as Paul and his seasoned team.  The difference being though, that they were baby Christians with just a few weeks of teaching under their belts!  The power that seemed to give them the strength and the victory was their walk of love.  Even though they didn’t yet posses a deep understanding of the Word, and had barely begun to walk with the Lord, His love that had been poured out into their hearts by the infilling of the newly acquired Holy Spirit within them (See: Romans 5:5) empowered them to withstand the ferocious attacks against their faith.  This resulted in them quickly becoming “a model for all the believers in the province of Macedonia and Greece.”  (I Thessalonians 1:7)

This may seem a little funny, but as I was contemplating the power of love that Paul kept commending them for, I recalled a scene from the old Disney cartoon movie about Robin Hood.  In one of the final scenes of the movie, as the smoke begins to clear over the battle field where Robin Hood and his Merry Men and Prince John and his troops had been waging a hilarious fight, a victorious Robin and Maid Marion appear, walking hand in hand.  As the music changes from the battle overture to a rousing love song (now you have to remember that all the characters in this movie are talking animated animals…), Maid Marion’s Lady in Waiting (who happens to be a fat chicken…) comes dancing into view clucking melodiously that “Love conquers all!”

Now while this is funny it does raise a serious point here! (really!!!)  Paul, just like the motherly Lady in Waiting (or would it actually be the "Chicken in Waiting?"), also pronounced to the Thessalonians as well as to us today, that “God’s Love conquers all!”  It doesn’t always matter how educated you are, or how much experience you have, what matters is that you mold your life to operate within the depth of His love to those around you.  Especially when they are not very kind or sympathetic to your beliefs.  Love without measure will always bring you through the tough times in life with great peace and the eventual victory!

Let His love be your guide and your foundation in all you do this weekend.  Then carry it on into the rest of your life.  See what a difference it will make in your life as well as in those that you touch.  Well see you again on Monday!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Eating Crow!

Boy… talk about having to eat crow!  As I was quickly trying to wrap up my study time this morning, since I had gone over my scheduled time and left my wife in bed longer than usual, I caught a glance at one of the first scriptures that I had noted an hour and a half before.  I had written down 1 Thessalonians 1:5 saying: “and the word He has given us ALWAYS comes with Power, with the Holy Ghost and with complete certainty.” (Gods Word © personalized)  At that I paused and then slowly re-read it again.  As I absorbed each word, a little voice on the inside of me said, “Am I really EXPECTING this… every time?”  And you know what?  At that point I had to truthfully answer “NO!”

That was a difficult pill to swallow, but it sure made me stop and make some quick adjustments in my heart!  I was a little embarrassed as I sat there alone in my study thinking that here I am, the one who is always telling people about EXPECTING good things from God and then realizing that I had dropped the ball!  But then, the key word here is “HAD!”

That’s the neat thing about God’s Word.  It is “living and active,” and “sharper than any two edged sword and cuts as deep as the place where soul and spirit meet…”  (Hebrews 4: 12 Gods Word ©)  God knows what we need to know and when we need to know it!  His word is “useful for teaching, pointing out errors, correcting people, and training them for a life that has God’s approval.” (2 Timothy 3:16)  I am thankful that our heavenly Father loves you and me enough to take the time to gently slide us back on the path when we’ve ventured off course!

And now that I’m back on course, I have to admit that I’m EXCITED!  Do you realize that the Good News, the mighty Word of God as related to us in that Bible you carry to church (hopefully!), study daily (hopefully), and leave out in plain view so that you can grab it whenever needed is not just the word of humans, but is the word of God that is at work in you!  (See: I Thessalonians 2:13)  That word, like I said earlier, always comes with Power, with the personal instruction and anointing of the ONE who wrote it (the Holy Spirit) and instills in us complete certainty of It’s ability to change our world!  WOW!  Come on now… you don’t have to live in California to feel that earthquake under your feet!  Whew!

I’m glad God got my attention this morning.  I can’t wait to see THAT force working in, for and through me as I study and live according to His ways!  I guess I’d better get up even earlier tomorrow so that I don’t keep my wife waiting as I explore the wonders of His plans for you and me!  I hope you take this to heart today.  Believe me, it will positively change the way you live!  Have a great day!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What GOOD THINGS am I expecting today?”

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Let The Real You Lead

Early this morning as I sleepily sat at my desk staring blankly at the open pages of my Bible, I quickly discerned that I needed a little assistance in order to jump start my study time!  As I began to pray my eyes slowly came into focus and I found myself reading the third verse of I Thessalonians chapter one as a personal declaration of my faith.  When the words stating that “my love is working hard” (from the Gods Word © translation) formed on my lips, I suddenly became aware of the point that it wasn’t my physical attempts at love but the God kind of love emanating from my spirit man that was doing all the work!  The real me is the reborn man on the inside of me, not the physical earth suit that is visible in the mirror on my wall.

The Apostle Paul alluded to this when he said in I Corinthians 9:27 that “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection…”  (KJV)  He made a clear differentiation between his outward man and his inward man.  He declared that the real Paul, the one on the inside, kept his outward body in line and worked to bring it under subjection to the dictates of his reborn spirit.  (See Romans 8:4)

I am not sure why, but that truth instantly took a large load off of my mind.  In order to successfully walk in love toward the unlovely and in the midst of unlovely situations, I have to turn my thoughts inside, listen to what is being said, and then trust those insights to be the correct course of action – no matter what my outward man is telling (or yelling at) me!  His ways are always the right ways.  His ways tend to help you to never again have to ask for forgiveness about something that shouldn’t have popped out of your mouth in the midst of a heated situation.  Have you ever said something and then instantly thought… “oophs, where did that come from”?  If you have, then you know exactly what I am talking about!

It felt really good to make that confession this morning.  Hearing those words emanating from my own mouth made me feel like I have the power within to walk in His love, even when I don’t feel like it.  It gave me a sense of power and ownership over my own destiny!

Go ahead, say it with me:  “My love is working hard!”  Say it again a little louder: “My love is working hard!”  Now shout it out: “My love is working hard!”  Feels right doesn’t it!  It should, because it is the truth.  Your inside man is working hard to renew the man (or women) on the outside.  All you need to do is to listen and obey!

So with that truth under your belt… go out and make a difference in your world today.  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What DIFFERENCE am I expecting To Make today?”

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Giving Our Best...

A few more thoughts from the idea of giving His best that I introduced yesterday.  John 3:16 says “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only son…”  (Good News Bible)  From the very beginning God had our best interests in mind, so He gave the best thing that He had… the life of His son in exchange for our sins, our sicknesses and our shortcomings.  When Jesus walked this earth He demonstrated that same attitude of total commitment to those around Him.  He never complained, never said a bad word about anyone to those closest to Him, and was always willing to give of Himself.

As a Christian, can I say the same thing about my behavior?  Probably not!  Over the last couple of years I have found myself complaining about the way others have treated me and my wife. In times of tiredness, I have allowed myself to utter not so encouraging words about these folks to those that are close to me, and then there are times where I just don’t want to give of myself because I am weary, or not wanting to get hurt again or just plain selfish!

Does any of this ring a bell?  I guess we could shrug off these times by saying, “Well I’m just human you know!”  But then, so was Jesus when He was here.  He gave up His divinity to be like us but yet never gave into the temptations to lash out… and if anyone had good reason to do so it would have been Him!  The few simple persecutions that I have experienced are nothing compared to what He went through!

In John 14:12 Jesus tells us that “I can guarantee this truth: Those who believe in me will do the things that I am doing.  They will do even greater things because I am going to the father.”  (Gods Word ©)  According to that statement, we should be able to control our tongue, hold our peace and give to others whenever the need arises.  The Apostle Paul would be a great example to mention here.  He seemed to be a pretty fiery individual before his conversion, but turned into a loving and totally giving preacher when he came into contact with the King of Kings on that lonely road to Damascus.

So what do we do when we feel the urge rising up inside of us to give someone a piece of our minds?  We pause, take a deep breath and then call on the name that is above all names, so that the unkindness bubbling up will have to yield itself to and bend its loyalty to Jesus and His better way.  (Philippians 2:9-10) Then we end up giving them a piece of His mind!  (2 Corinthians 2:16)

God gave His best, so it makes sense that we should endeavor to always give of our best to others, whether it be in word, action or thought.  Have a great day.  See how many you can bless today, and then double that amount tomorrow!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What (or Whom) am I expecting to BLESS today?

Monday, January 16, 2012

He Gave His Best

I had a fitful rest last night as I kept waking up with a strong cough.  I guess the last of this cold bug that I have been fighting off was trying to rear its ugly head!  After another coughing spell at around 5:30, I laid back down in bed and just sat there for a moment so I could calm down enough to go back to sleep. Within a few moments the words from John 3:16 combined with those from Romans 10:13 began to roll over and over again in my mind. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son…For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”  (KJV)

As that combined statement of faith revolved through my thoughts like an endless loop, two points emerged.  The first being that God gave His best and secondly that whoever calls on the name of His best, (JESUS!) shall be saved!  I also quickly discerned that God was talking in particular here about my health and not the salvation of my soul.  He reminded me that the word translated “saved” comes from the Greek work “sozo” which not only covers the healing of our spirit, but also includes the physical wholeness of our entire being.  Strong’s states that the word means “to heal, preserve, save, to do well, and to make whole.”  Thayer gets a little more specific and defines its meaning as “to save a suffering one (from perishing), ie; one suffering from disease, to make well, heal, (and) restore to health.”

Within a few moments I noticed that a restful peace had come over me.  My body was totally relaxed, the urge to cough had disappeared, the pounding in my head stopped and I slowly slipped off into a deep sleep.  When I awoke for the day a few hours later, that scripture combination was still in the forefront of my thoughts.  As I swung my legs out of bed I realized that God had given me His best just when I needed it the most!

God loves you and me so much that He gave the best that He had.  He gave us His only begotten Son, so that we could call on His name (the name that is above any other name – See Philippians 2:9-10) in order to overcome any obstacle that the enemy of our souls may place in our way.  Our Heavenly Father is just as concerned about our physical well being on this earth as He is with our spiritual well being in eternity.  Just as He cared enough to stop that antagonizing cough this morning, as I called upon the name of Jesus, He will do the same for you, in any situation, as you call upon THE name of the Lord.

Have a restful Martin Luther King Day today.  Keep your attention on THE ONE that gave him the strength to do what he did in the face of overwhelming persecution, and stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Friday, January 13, 2012

Splash!

Last night as I was reading our healing scriptures confession list to my wife, I came to the verse in John 11:25 where Jesus unequivocally announced that “I am the resurrection and the life…” (KJV) and the light of greater understanding lit up inside me!  I immediately stopped, turned to my wife and said, “Well, duh!  No wonder we get refreshed and built up when we are in His presence.  It is because Jesus IS the resurrection and the life!”  With that, my wife looked at me with a startled expression, so I reminded her of the last couple of blog postings that I had recently written about being in His presence.

You see, that word translated “life” comes from the Greek word “Zoe” and it describes the God kind of life.  Thayer’s Greek Definitions says that Zoe is “the state of one who is possessed of vitality or is animate.”  It exemplifies “the absolute fullness of life.”  It is life that is “real and genuine, a life active and vigorous.”  It clearly makes sense that it is the kind of energy that we receive as we spend time with Him.  It just oozes off of Him and splashes onto us!

And you know what?  That same life resides in you and me.  When we accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, that life, in the form of the Holy Spirit, came surging into our beings.  The old things were instantly done away with and everything became new! The absolute fullness of His life now lives in us!  We just need to stir it up occasionally so that we can have the same effect of those that we come into contact with as Jesus does when we contact Him!

Imagine that life possessed of vitality splashing off of you directly onto everyone that you see today and every day of this upcoming weekend!  It’s like the time many years ago that I spilled a hot cup of coffee on my white pants at the very beginning of my workday.  That stain (in a most embarrassing place...) stayed with me all day!  Luckily I had the ability to cover it up with a lab coat!  But then, the life of God is not something that you want to cover up!  Just like that coffee, you want to splash it all over your friends and acquaintances so they too, can carry its mark all day long!

Keep that thought fresh in you as you go about your life for the next few days.  Fill yourself up and then feel free to splash everyone in your path!  Have a GREAT weekend.  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What (or Who) am I expecting to SPLASH on today?”


Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Light Dusting

Last night, my daughter sent me a picture of the first snow fall of the season where they live in Oklahoma.  This morning as we text back and forth she said that the countryside was covered in a beautiful light dusting of snow about an inch thick.  Our conversation brought back memories of the first snow fall we encountered when we lived there back in December of 2006.  That particular storm was much stronger than yesterday’s, as it left about six or more inches of the white stuff on the ground and basically shut down just about everything for the day.  My school was cancelled and since I already had the day off from work, I decided to enjoy the moment and played in the snow with my family all day long!

I always thought that the winters in Oklahoma were a little bland.  When the weather got cold, most of the landscape went dormant and the countryside turned into a non-descript shade of brown.  This was totally different than what I was used to in Northern California.  In our home town, the winter season brings the rains which turn the hills that go brown in the heat of the summer into lush green scenes of pastoral beauty.  We do not have the extremes in the four seasons or the snow.  A simple, light dusting of snow in Oklahoma though, like my daughter told of today, would quickly change the view from flat and drab into a winter wonderland. (As long as it didn’t last too long!  As you can tell, I am not overly fond of the snow!)

The thought of how a little bit of snow could totally change the atmosphere got me thinking some more about being in God’s presence.  This morning as I was writing down additional notes from I Thessalonians 1:3, I took the liberty to leave out a few words and personalized the verse by saying: “In God’s presence I never forget that my faith is active, that my love is working hard, and that my confidence in my Lord Jesus Christ is cheerfully enduring.”  (I was using the Gods Word translation as my basic text.)  If you consider Paul’s life and then his encouragement to the congregation at Thessalonica, I really don’t think that this is changing the overall intent of the verse because what I wrote down is true.  When I sense the presence of the Lord, I can also sense that my faith is growing strong, that I am full of His love and that my confidence in His word is without doubt.

Like I mentioned in the blog yesterday, just a few moments in His presence was all it took to enlighten and energize my whole day.  It’s just like how a little bit of snow can change the whole outlook on the countryside around a city.  Now that’s something to think about!  Maybe it’s time to stop right now, enter in and allow the presence of the Lord to make an attitude adjustment in your life.  It could be just what you (and those around you…) need to totally uplift and energize the atmosphere. Let me know how it goes…  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Here In Your Presence

“Here in Your presence, we are undone
 Here in Your presence, Heaven and Earth become one
 Here in Your presence, all things are new
 Here in Your presence, everything bows before You? *

As I sat with spoon in hand helping my wife with her cereal this morning, my far away thoughts were suddenly brought nigh as the worshipful chorus to the song “Here in Your Presence” floated through the living room speakers into my ears and right down to my heart!  Psalm 31:20 talks about “the secret place of Your presence,” and in that instant I was drawn into His secret place in the midst of the Holy of Holies.

The words of the song came true before my spiritual eyes as heaven and earth seemed like one to me.  Suddenly all things became new.  The tiredness, the headache, the heartache of the situation, the waning determination to see this thing through to TOTAL victory all seemed to become of no consequence.  The problems of life seemed like nothing and all expectation was refreshed and became as new in His presence.  Everything that I was facing at that very moment bowed before Him. The sense of peace, joy and relief was overwhelming.

… And then in another moment I was back at the table, following through with the motion I was making with that spoon, filled with a new zeal for life and revitalized passion for my wife.  Maybe I need to add another line to the chorus of that song.  It begins with saying “Here in Your presence, we are undone,” I would now end it with a footnote proclaiming “All things are renewed after being with You!”

The “secret place of His presence” is open for everyone who calls on the name of Jesus.  It is available 24/7, and can be reached from any location on the face of the earth.  All it takes is for us to stop what we are so busily doing and take a moment away with Him.  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”



*  New Life Worship / “Here In Your Presence”  (For more info go to: http://newlifeworship.com )



Tuesday, January 10, 2012

No Texting Allowed!

I mentioned last week that I had begun a new morning study in which I was going through some of the smaller books in the New Testament that I do not read on a regular basis.  I began with I Thessalonians, but have been going rather slowly as I seem to be having a hard time getting past the first half a dozen verses of chapter one.  In the Gods Word translation the third verse begins with the statement, “In the presence of our God and Father…”  Each morning as I have read this scripture my mind has immediately traveled off into considering variations of what I visualize the presence of God to be like…  A bright and consuming fire, a bright cloud, an atmosphere of powerful awe, an overwhelming sense of His love, peace that surpasses anything that I have ever imagined, joy that goes beyond definition, and a feeling of total satisfaction.

As I contemplated these thoughts the other day, I realized that verse three is connected to the previous verse where the Apostle Paul is talking about prayer.  It dawned on me that we are going into His very presence every time we pray to God!  I also became aware that I don’t always EXPECT to enjoy this kind of experience when I pray to our heavenly Father.  Many times prayer is just a quick communication that I have with Him throughout my busy day.  Come to think about it, sometimes it’s almost like a quick, non-personal text that I send out to Him!  Email and texting have become a major avenue of communication in our world today, and while they are quick and efficient, they are also very impersonal and distant in their electronic form.

Please don’t take this as a slam to electronic communication as I too, have taken advantage of these modern conveniences.  I'm just not too sure that I want my conversations with God to be at this nondescript level of intimacy.  These two verses in I Thessalonians chapter one have opened my eyes, and humbled my heart.  They also stirred up a hunger within me to experience the same type of interactions with God that Paul alludes to EVERYTIME I pray to Him!

How about you?  How would you measure your communications with God on a scale from one to ten?  Do you spiritually enter into the very throne room of God where His glory prevails whenever you pray?  Do you see the bright cloud and the consuming fire?  Do you sense the awe of His presence and the fullness of His peace about you?  Maybe it’s time to step back and think about what you’re EXPECTING before you bend a knee.  I don’t want to miss any intimate interactions with my Abba Father, and I’m sure that you don’t either.  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Faith of a Child

Yesterday we wrapped up our five part series in Children’s Church that I had entitled “The Road Trip To Christmas”  We spent the majority of the time talking about the events that surrounded the visit of the Wise Men and the Star of Bethlehem.  What started out as a hopefully fun and interactive class that I would present to the kids ended up being a humbling experience for me as I learned a simple lesson about the innocent faith of a child.

Throughout the weeks of this series I enjoyed doing some rather deep research into the whole Christmas story as reported in the gospels of Matthew and Luke.  I referenced at least a dozen commentaries, countless scholarly internet ministry articles, historical web sites as well as Children’s ministries and astronomy resources.  For yesterday’s subjects I had spent quite awhile looking up information on the identities of the Magi and read many of the numerous articles that are available concerning the fact or fiction of the Bethlehem Star.  Most articles (both secular and religious) tended to agree that there was enough historical evidence that the phenomenon that the Bible says was a star that led the Wise Men, did indeed occur.  (Whether it was an actual star, comet, meteor or some other cosmic substance is widely debated!)

As we went through the slide show that I had put together for yesterday’s class, we paused for awhile at a couple of artist’s renditions of the star and I asked the students their thoughts on it’s reality.  It was like they all started talking at once as they voiced their opinions based on what they’ve heard or seen.  Then as a moment of silence filled the room, one of the older students leaned forward in her chair and confidently stated that “It had to of happened, because the Bible says it did!”  And with that all the conversation stopped.  Everyone just kind of sat in their chairs and stared at me for a moment.  I have to admit that she caught me slightly off guard, but I immediately began to laugh at myself as I witnessed her innocence and the frankness at which she spoke out her faith.

It was funny to me because of the hours that I had literally spent,  totally absorbed in my research in an attempt to prove the validity of Matthew’s rendition of the story.  As a Christian, the validity of anything written in the Bible should be based on the fact that this sacred book was inspired by the Holy Spirit and is the living and active word of Jesus Christ. (see Hebrews 4:12)  Why should we then, try to prove its statements by looking at what people throughout history think or say?

It is interesting to see when discoveries in natural history back up the stories in the Bible, but that should just be icing on the cake, not our main source of justification when we share it’s truths to others! The firmness of that one young student’s reply yesterday definitely caused me to think about my own belief system.  Am I as adamant about all the subjects in the Bible as I am concerning the truth of God’s will for healing?  Hummm….

How about you?  Do you believe His word because He said it is true (John 17:17) or because you can back it up through other sources?  Didn’t Jesus say something about having the faith of a child?  You might want to try teaching Children’s Church once in awhile… it might just awaken something that you've lost when you grew up!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting TO BELIEVE Today?”



Friday, January 6, 2012

A Strong Presence

The Doctor’s office in San Francisco that we have been going to is kind of like a one stop, Super Walmart for those with memory care needs.  The myriad of other doctor’s that we have been to would make suggestions but that’s about as far as it usually went.  In this office they will not only offer suggestions but if they don’t already have the resources available within their staff, they will find and connect you with whatever it is you require. 

After we had initially signed in at our appointment the other day, I noticed that one of the Social Workers we knew was waiting to speak with us.  After exchanging greetings and giving a little update on my wife as well as following-up on some of the resources that she had previously provided me with, she paused for moment as she was looking at my wife and said, “Your wife has such a strong presence about her.  I noticed it when she came into the room the first time we met.” We discussed that for a few moments and then went off to the waiting room as our Doctor was not yet available.

When we walked into the crowded room a lady at the far end of the room immediately stood up and offered her seat and the empty one next to it for us.  I thanked her profusely as she nodded and quietly found another seat.  A few moments later I noticed that my wife who was sitting to my right had glanced across me and smiled to another lady sitting off to my left.  All was still for a few moments when the lady suddenly broke the quiet din in the reception area and began talking about the weather.  After a few moments I discerned that she was speaking to my wife and I.  I acknowledged her comments and we talked briefly about were we lived and how the weather varied between our two communities.  About that time the nurse came into the room and called my wife’s name. 

As we stood I told the lady that I enjoyed our conversation and turned to take my wife into the inner office.  When we crossed in front of her she stopped me and said “Your wife has such a strong, sweet spirit.” I nodded in agreement, thanked her for her insight, and then went off to see the doctor.  I didn’t have much time at that moment to consider what had just happened and actually didn’t think a lot more about it until we had finished with our appointment and had taken the elevator down to the third floor underground parking garage.

 As we were walking toward our car I became aware of voices behind us.  When I turned there were two ladies who had appeared from seemingly nowhere talking to us.  We instantly began talking about the results of our individual doctor visits.  When we reached our cars, the two women made a point to smile lovingly at my wife, wished us the best and got into their ride.

As we rode home I thought a lot about the comments that the Social worker had made in connection with the two other conversations that we had had.  Suddenly it all made sense.  All the times, wherever we go when people go out of their way to talk to and/or assist my wife.  It’s not because of what she is dealing with, it is because of the strong presence of the Holy Spirit shining through her!  I know that I have mentioned before that she always had an outgoing personality and that people were drawn to her because of it.  But now, she is usually very quiet but yet still draws the same attention!

I believe that is because the power of the Holy Spirit is working a healing and a cure in her and that His presence can’t help but emanate from her very being.  Most people don’t know what it is, but they definitely know that there is something good there and they want to be a part of it!  When she does talk to you now, it is like the words penetrate right into your soul!

And you know… that’s just the way it was when Jesus physically walked this earth.  In His presence pigs spoke, storms were stirred up, some people got defensive while others got healed and/or delivered.  People were moved to seek forgiveness, to be generous and to act out in love.  As the body of Christ, we believers are now His representatives on this earth, and the Holy Spirit’s presence in each of us should cause similar reactions to those whom we come in contact with.

In my wife’s current state, she has no natural inhibitions that would stop the love of God from flowing through her to others. It just comes forth and most people seem to openly receive it.  How about you?  Are you free to allow the presence of the Holy Spirit in you to flow to others at any time, in any place.  Have you ever thought about how your physical presence in a room, in a store, at work, in a plane or bus, school or anywhere else affects others?  Do they go out of their way to talk to you?  Would they feel open to even consider that action?  It’s definitely something to consider.  I guess it is like that old saying from a few years back… “What would Jesus do?”  Have a great weekend!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What I expecting From Those Around Me today?”

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Good Reports and Words of Encouragement

Yesterday was a long but yet profitable day for my wife and I.  In mid afternoon we trekked down to San Francisco (about an hour away) for my wife’s Doctor’s appointment with her Specialist.  We have been there enough times now that the trip seems like second nature to us.  We are friends with the office staff, the onsite Social Workers and of course are quite satisfied with the Doctor’s care and concern for the well being of my wife and I.

We proceeded through the routine tests and questions at the beginning of the visit, reviewed the results of recent blood tests and then went over the list of questions, thoughts and research that I had brought with me for the Doctor’s input.  As we discussed my wife’s daily care, her reactions to the holidays and how to continually assure her the best of life, it dawned on me that the Doctor was encouraging me to keep up the good work that I had been doing.

When we left the office over an hour and a half later and began the long drive home, (It was bumper to bumper almost all the way, and took us over twice as long to get home as it did to get there!) I went over with my wife everything that had taken place during the appointment.  I have to admit that it felt great to receive a good report and words of encouragement concerning all the long and sometimes emotionally difficult hours of assistance that I lovingly give to the sweetheart of my life.

Over the last couple of years there have been times where I have tried to second guess different steps that I have taken in the management of her care.  At these times it has been very easy to get down on myself, to question my abilities and then become attentive to the (few) voices of those who have, shall we say, been less than positive in their assessment of my performance.  The words of encouragement from those professionals yesterday definitely bolstered my determination to excel in my physical responsibilities and stirred up my courage “to hold on to our declaration of faith.”  (Hebrews 4:14 Gods Word ©)

Today as I continued my study of I Thessalonians, I stopped at verse four in chapter one where the Apostle Paul is telling the young congregation that “God loves you and has chosen you.”  (Gods Word ©)  I paused here because those words had the same effect that the doctor’s and her staff did for me.  The difference being though, that these words emanate directly from the throne of Grace and are not only for me but also for every Believer!  They are God’s good report and encouraging words for each of us!  The word “love” in that verse meaning that God is well pleased and contented with us!

Proverbs 15:30 says that God’s “good report makes the bones fat.” (KJV)  In other words, His Good News, which is His good report, acts as restorative medicine to our body and mind as well as to our emotions!  Why should we listen to the few voices of the naysayer, who is here today and most likely gone tomorrow, when we have a better, more realistic and definitely more authoritative Word on the subject of the performance of our personal abilities?

So… like Wow!  (Sorry… feel like I was reverting back to my late 1960’s vocabulary!)  If you’re feeling down or maybe trying to second guess your actions or possibly even leaning toward what someone has said in difference to your performance, I would strongly suggest that you go to THE professional, open His testimony of the truth concerning you and receive His Good Reports and Words of Encouragement!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What Good Report am I expecting today?”

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Late One Night

I talked a little about our Christmas tree in the blog yesterday.  I believe that I also wrote in an earlier blog about all that I emotionally went through just to get it set up for the holidays.  Well, I now have to admit that it was well worth the extra effort. 

I actually ended up not feeling too well over the holidays and missed the majority of the family gatherings.  Throughout it all though, I had to keep caring for my wife, so I sort of slugged it out and pushed on and finally made it to victory!

On one evening last week, I was feeling pretty exhausted and a little worse for the wear.  I had finished cleaning up all the dinner dishes, straightened up the living room, let the dog out (and then back in!) and had just helped my wife get into bed, when I turned and looked from our loft toward the living room below, and noticed that I had forgotten to turn off the Christmas tree lights.  So I pulled myself together and began to grumble down the stairs when the most beautiful sight graced my eyes.  Looking down from the top of the stairwell into the dark living room was our wonderful tree, all aglow with its tiny beams of multicolored lights.  That scene changed my whole emotional well being as I stood spell bound by the sight!  I’ve observed many pictures of gloriously decorated Christmas trees over the years, but this one, that night, as it softy set the atmosphere in our darkened home, seemed almost majestic!

I may have missed the planned family holiday activities, but this one, unplanned (by me at least!) event made up for them all!  I’m not sure how long I actually stood there mesmerized by the spectacular color display, but I do know that when I finally stepped back and continued down the stairs, that I had a fresh sense of His love, His joy unspeakable, and His peace that surpasses all natural understanding!

We have some good friends at our church, Doug and Sheri, who gave us that tree last year, and I have to thank them again, from the bottom of my heart for that vision from heaven that encouraged me late that night.  Who would think that God could use a simple, fake tree to be such a blessing! 

But then again, if He can use a tree, then He can sure use you and me to be a blessing to others as well.  Keep that thought as we begin this New Year.  Keep an eye open for someone in need.  Maybe you can be that brightly aglow tree in the dark of their lives!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What (or WHO) am I expecting TO BLESS today?”

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Back To The Grind!

When the time arrived to wrap up my morning study time today, I arose from my desk and walked into our living room.  My intent was to open up all the blinds, turn on a CD so as to fill the house with the words of evangelist Keith Moore as he sang scripturally based  songs about healing, and then go upstairs to help my wife get ready for the day.  I got distracted though, when I looked upon our large Christmas tree located in the central part of the room.

My feelings immediately began to sway as I considered that yesterday was the day when most people took down their trees and retired all their decorations for another year.  This was always a ritual for my dad.  He would bring all the empty storage boxes back in from the garage and spend the day filling them back up, while he happily watched the various College Bowl games on TV.  As a child, it was a sad day for me.  It meant that all the anticipation and joys of the Christmas season were officially over and worst of all… I had to return to school the next day!

All that cruised through my mind in the few moments that it took to gaze upon the darken tree.  Once again, I had a decision to make.  Was I going to dwell on the past and allow depression to gather its dark clouds around my being, or was I going to move ahead and look forward to the good expectations that I have for the next year?  In an instant I made two major decisions.  First of all I decided that I was going to break the family tradition and keep the tree up for at least another week, and secondly, I decided that I was not going to allow the past to influence my future.

Yesterday we talked about doing things better in 2012 than we did in 2011.  If you take into consideration my second decision this morning, then you would see that in order to succeed in your goals in this new year, that you will have to concentrate on the improvements you’re striving for rather than on the shortcomings from the previous year.  The enemy of our souls loves to get us dwelling on what is wrong with us, when our loving heavenly Father would much rather that we center our thoughts and base our efforts on what’s right.  This not only builds self esteem and confidence, but it helps you to stay up in a world that tries to bring you down!

So this morning I proceeded to turn on the beautiful multi-colored lights on the tree, opened up all the blinds so that the morning light could come streaming in, turned on the CD and hummed a happy tune as I bounded up the stairs to start the day, as well as the year with a new found confidence, joy and an unerring trust in my Lord and in the truth of His Word!  Have a blessed day today.  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What GOOD THINGS am I expecting today?”


Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year's Resolutions

Yesterday in Children’s Church we read about the dedication of the baby Jesus at the temple (Luke 2:22-38).  And in particular, we looked at Simeon and Anna, their lives and the startling words that they spoke about Jesus.  Simeon and Anna were prime examples of God keeping His promises.  Both of them were very advanced in years and were waiting to see the fulfillment of God’s promise of the coming Messiah.

The talk of promises during the class led to the subject of making New Year’s Resolutions.  After much discussion, the giving of examples and a lot of bantering back and forth, we decided that our New Year’s Resolutions should simply be centered around what each of us think we can do better in 2012 than we did in 2011.

This morning as I arose a little bit earlier than normal, I began to pray about new directions for my morning Bible study and found myself thinking about what my own New Year’s Resolutions should be.  I was led by the Spirit to begin studying some of the smaller books in the New Testament that I do not read regularly.  With that, I thumbed through the pages of my favorite Bible translation, came to the book of I Thessalonians and began to read in chapter one.  I got as far as verse three and then spent the next hour studying different verses throughout the New Testament in combination with various concordances and commentaries that all discussed the important subject of love.

The section of I Thessalonians 1:3 that set me off in my travels was the part where the Apostle Paul commented to the congregation of the church at Thessalonica that their “love is working hard.”  (Gods Word ©)  That phrase really stunned me as I turned it into a personal question to myself!  There are a few situations in my life where I could not answer an honest “yes” to that question.  It is now clear that love is something that I can do better this year!  I’m sure that this is a subject that you’ll be hearing more of in the coming months!

How about you?  Are there some areas (not necessarily negative either…) that you can do better in this year?  Is your ___________ working hard?  I know that I want to be the very best that I can be for the Lord in 2012, and in order to do so, I have to work harder and do better in a few areas than I did way back in 2011.

So I challenge you at the beginning of this great New Year to take a look inside, to be honest with yourself and then set out to do better than you ever have before!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting To DO BETTER today (as well as for the rest of the year…)?”