Our New Home

Our New Home
Fall is defintely in the air!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Forward Motion...


Early this morning as I shuffled across our hardwood floors from the kitchen and the coffee maker to the study, I suddenly heard the words “You can’t go back, you can only go forward.”  In the instant of time that it took to glance up the stairs to the loft and then pass on by, I pictured countless examples of people that we know who enjoy living in the past, of movies that we have seen where the main character is miraculously transported back in time in order to right a wrong decision that had changed the course of their lives, and then I saw, as if looking in slow motion, my wife’s maturing through the years beginning as a teenager in our High School years and progressing through the 41 years of our relationship until the situation today.

When I plopped into my chair and spun it around so as to face my desk, my countenance lit up with understanding and I broke the stillness and quiet solitude that surrounded me by laughingly proclaiming that “Yeah, I’m not expecting her to be like she was, but stronger and better than she has ever been!”  At that point my eyes caught a glance of the bottom of a sheet of paper peeking out from under a Bible sitting on my side table.  The sheet contained an article that I had printed out on the previous Friday concerning types of the Holy Spirit.  (Check out last Friday’s blog posting “FUN!)

The only thing that I could see on the page was the scripture reference of John 7:38.  The God’s Word translation of this verse has Jesus saying: “Whoever is thirsty must come to me to drink.  As the scripture says, ‘streams of living water will flow deep with the person who believes in me.’”  Now while this verse is talking about the Holy Spirit in the life of the Believer and can lead into a variety of discussions, what immediately caught my attention was the picture of a flowing stream or “river” as many other translations say.  A river is always flowing from its source to its final destination.  A moving river is a healthy river carrying life sustaining elements with it wherever it flows.  A river normally only flows in one direction and it can be quite difficult to try and move against its current.  A river that has stopped moving can quickly become a stagnant pool that becomes a haven for moss, mosquitoes and muck!

This thought reminded me of our summer vacations as a kid in the giant Redwood groves along the Eel River in northern California.  One of the three campgrounds at Richardson Grove State Park, which was my parent’s favorite park, was situated on the river bank.  And while the area boasted heavy rainfall during the winter months, the summer months were known to be dry and hot.  This caused the river to be fairly shallow and at times a little stagnant in some of its bends where any movement came to a stand still.  These were the areas where I would pull my hands out of the water and hope that my forward motion would be enough to propel my plastic air mattress through until we reached the clearer water!  Those few yucky areas and the burns on the insides of my upper arms from where I would rub them raw while paddling my “boat” are some of the very few negative memories I have concerning my family’s early camping adventures!

I always enjoyed it the most when we would come near the end of our journey and finally reach the narrow straight section where the current would be flowing at a decent pace and carry us in blissful glee up to the sandy beach near the trail back to our campsite. (and the burn lotion that my mother would lather upon our arms!)  Moving forward with the current of the river was always the easiest and the natural way to go.  It would like-wise seem that moving forward on the rivers of the Holy Ghost is also the natural way to go.  Once again, not trying to go back to where you used to be, but forward and on to be where our heavenly Father wants us to be today!

So… In what direction are you headed?  Is the past where you find your comfort?  Or is it in the future where you have to place your trust entirely in the Lord and depend on His wisdom, care and protection.  Have a great week.  Stay in tune to His word and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”





Friday, April 27, 2012

FUN!


When is the last time that you did something that was really FUN?  That thought came to my mind this morning as I was doing a little bit of study concerning water as a type of the Holy Spirit… Ha!  I bet you’re thinking: “What?”  Well, hear me out and maybe it will make some sense to you.

A few weeks ago I was talking in earnest to the Lord about my desire to invigorate my personal Christian walk.  With everything that has been going on in my life, the last few years have definitely been an emotional roller coaster.  And while I have been very diligent to bombard both my wife and I with the Word, Christian books and teachings, there are still times where it just doesn’t seem to be enough. As I honestly pleaded my case before the Lord I suddenly had the clear impression of the words: “The Holy Ghost.”

When I began to consider this, I was instantly drawn back to the many times throughout the last 40+ years of my active Christian life when I felt the most excited and satisfied in the Lord.  I discovered that all of these times were centered around periods in my life where I was actively expecting and involved in moves of the Holy Spirit.  From the anointing that fell during church services, or during a set of Holy Ghost meetings that our church participated in through a satellite hookup, to conventions, guest speakers and/or youth camps that we were a part of or led.  It was always the tangible presence of the Holy Spirit that brought the fullness of life into me.

Ephesians 5:26 says “That he might sanctify and cleanse it (the church) with the washing of water by the word.”  (KJV - parenthesis mine)  This is the verse that got me headed in this direction this morning.  The word “water” caught my interest and I looked through ten different commentaries to get their insight on its meaning.  All except for one related it to baptism.  The one hold out stated that it actually was a reference to the blood of Jesus.  While I don’t necessarily disagree with the commentaries, I tend to think that its usage here could also relate to a type of the Holy Spirit, as the Bible uses water as a symbol of the third person of the Trinity throughout both the old and new testaments.

Water, as with the Holy Spirit is the source of life.  Without the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit we could not become born again.  Without water this world would be a parched and desolate place.  Without the Holy Spirit our lives would be dry and dying.  (See Isaiah 44:3-4)  It was the presence of the Holy Spirit that transformed the original disciples from frightened men and women who were hidding in an upper room to that of world shakers and changers!  It is the Holy Spirit that brings real meaning, satisfaction and (here it comes…) FUN into the lives of Christians today.

Since that conversation with God, I have been spending extra time re-studying the work and moves of the Holy Ghost in the Bible, and in revivals from the 1700’s through modern times.  I also dusted off and began to re-read to my wife and I an old favorite book I have read numerous times since I bought it in the late 1970’s called “Nine O Clock in the Morning” by Dennis Bennett.  Father Bennett was an Episcopal rector over a large and prosperous church in southern California when he received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit in the late 1950’s.  The book chronicles his personal struggles and victories as he was basically forced to step down from his pastorate due to all the criticism and publicity (He was featured in Time and Newsweek magazines and on national TV).  

Shortly after the upheaval in Van Nuys, he accepted the pastorate of a small Episcopal mission church in Seattle with the complete blessing and support of the regional Bishop.  Dennis Bennett ended up traveling the world with his testimony and was one of the major forces in what became known as the Charismatic Movement.  With all the renewed effort, I noticed earlier this week that I was actually experiencing more uplifting, meaning and joy whenever I opened my Bible, shared the word with friends and taught our Children’s Church class!  You know what?  The Holy Spirit really does bring life into a parched and desolate wasteland.

So when is the last the last time you had some FUN with the things of God?  I was thinking at breakfast today that I haven’t really played my guitar in years.  My guitar(s) and I had been best of buddies since I learned to play in Junior High.  With all the events surrounding the attack on my wife’s health though, I seemed to have lost all inspiration to play.  Where as original songs used to just kind of roll off my lips, now I am hard pressed to even notice my 12 string that sits near the entrance to my study.  A good friend even had it repaired, (I had dropped it just before we went to Oklahoma during one of the hundred’s of trips the guitar had made to church with me and it split on one of its seams!) restrung and then returned with a brand new expensive hard case. 

As I munched on a pancake, I remembered the time when our band played at the party of a gal who attended our Baptist church when my wife and I were seniors.  What I envisioned was a picture we have of Piper and I standing together while rocking out and singing “Proud Mary!”  That was one of the first times that we sang together.  Little did I know how prophetic that was to become as we led praise and worship for years for Youth services, Children’s Church and adult church in many different congregations and settings over the years.  Well, with the Holy Spirit’s help, I’m not going to let that joy just be a memory of the past.  I am going to tune up the old acoustic (you know that they do get better with age!) and sing with her today!

How about you?  What FUN thing have you allowed to get pushed aside?  Go through the book of Acts and see how the Holy Spirit enlivened the activities of the early church, and then pursue some FUN in the Son!  Have a great weekend.  Stay in tune to His word and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”



Thursday, April 26, 2012

NFL Draft


Well, the 2012 NFL Football Draft officially begins today at 5:00 pm PST.  I’ve had a special interest in the top couple of picks due to close proximity of Stanford University and their star quarterback Andrew Luck.  I closely followed Stanford’s season for the last few years and enjoyed watching Luck at work on the gridiron.  He is a talented athlete, is well composed, confident and seems to have a good eye for making the right play at the right time.  He makes for a good example for some thoughts that have been going through my mind since the wee hours of the morning today.

II Timothy 1:7 says that “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  (NKJV)  When you look at that particular verse it is interesting to notice that you have God’s supernatural power and ability on one side and man’s natural abilities on the other.  In between is God’s agape love.  His love is the balance between the two forces.  His love is the controller of the power that comes from God and flows into a Christian’s life here on this earth.  The filter of God’s love gives man the composure, confidence and accuracy required to be of good service to his fellow man. 

So, what does this have to do with the NFL Draft and Andrew Luck?  Andrew Luck in many ways reminds me of the confidence I used to enjoy when I watched Joe Montana, argumently the best quarterback to have ever played the game ( I’m sure that I am a bit prejudice since he played for the San Francisco 49ers and led them to four Super Bowl victories, but then again the stats tend to agree with me!). While it is way too early to put Luck into the same category with Montana, there are many similarities. For our purposes here, let’s just say that Luck, like Montana, possess the ability to control his skills and abilities and funnel them into the best play available at the time for the good of his team.  One is not always sitting at the edge of their chair with their heart in their mouth while they watch him play.

I am sure that I might take some flack for this statement, but I can’t say the same thing for Luck’s biggest competition in this year’s draft, Robert Griffin.  This young man is also loaded with athletic talent and ability, but to me, does not yet show the over-all self control as well as the vision of team football that Luck displays.  While he has demonstrated the repeated ability to make the big plays, he tends to make me a little nervous when he is running his offense.

It is like a Christian who does not quite have a handle on God’s love for him.  Without that knowledge and experience of it, he may not always use the power of God that is available to him to it’s maximum strength, if he even knows it is available at all.  God’s power becomes “a sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t” frustration to him!

This scenario also reminds me of the 1969 SS 396 Camaro that my wife’s Mom had when Piper and I were dating.  That car had incredible power, but the driver had to know how to control it in order to enjoy it safely!  Like the time my wife was driving out of the parking lot in High School, went to drop the transmission into to neutral so she could rev it up and impress me, (as I drove by in my “classic” 1951 Chevy Deluxe…) only to miss neutral on the floor shifter and ram it into reverse while stepping on the gas!  What resulted was an instant huge puff of white smoke, the screeching of tires and the smell of burning rubber as she quickly slid her head under the seat!  

Then there were the many times she would go to back out of her spot in the church parking lot after a BYF (Baptist Youth Fellowship) meeting and tap the gas a little too hard which always resulted in the same smoke and screech!  It seems that the rear end of that car was just way too light for the gigantic engine sitting over the front tires!  (It was a blast to drive through – I’m sure that all that smoke and screeching was not always by accident!)  Did I tell you about the time she took a friend for our ride in our new 1977 Datsun 280Z and had it up over 100 mph on the twisty country roads leading out to our nearby coast…?  She’s been such a blessing!  She always liked hot cars and therefore we almost always owned one!)

The driver of that car had to understand the idiosyncrasies of the car and then demonstrate great self control and restraint in order to drive the car.  It is the same as with God’s love.  Without it a Christian can easily find themselves out of control as the drive through the roads of their life.  Once again, think of God's love as controller of your life.  Whenever you face a tough situation reach out for God’s power, but never forget to first attach it to the controller of His love.  Have a fun day, stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Set Free


Last Sunday afternoon my wife and I made our regular bi-annual trip to the county fairgrounds to attend the bookfaire put on by the Friends of the Sonoma County Library.  This is an event that we have been attending since our kids were old enough to read.  I am always on the look out for “treasures” among the hundreds of books that are stacked in boxes on the multitudes of tables that are set up in the exhibition hall.  Although the  pickins seemed a little sparse in the “religion” section this time around, I was still able to add an almost brand new NKJV leather Bible to my personal collection of Bible study aids.  That combined with six Clive Cussler books for a total out of pocket expense of six bucks, made the excursion a total success in my mind!

This morning as I continued reading in Romans chapter eight, I duly opened up my crisp new NKJV Bible to compare its rendition of verse two to that of my favorite God’s Word translation and the Message paraphrase.  The NKJV states: “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.”  The God’s Word version says “has set you free.”  I tend to like that idea a little better as it allows me to liken Jesus’ new Zoe – absolute fullness of life – to that of a bird being set free from the confines of a cage in order to fly free of any constraints in the wide open spaces of the sky.

The Message Bible puts a similar twist in its picturesque wording by saying: “Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low flying black cloud.  A new power is in operation.  The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you…”  Have you ever experienced times where it felt like you just couldn’t get rid of the black cloud of problems, worries, or fear that seemed to follow you everywhere you went?  I think that may be where the old saying that “when it rains it pours” came from!

Romans 8:2 is telling us that we don’t have to be moved or dominated by those experiences anymore!  The word of God is declaring to us that we have been “set free from the adverse convictions and sentences of the old ways of life!  Why?  Because “a new power is in operation!”  In 2 Timothy 1:7 Paul basically tells his young protégé who is facing criticism and condemnation from his new Pastorate to “buck up!” in that “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (NKJV)

As I have stated before, it is interesting to note that the phrase “a sound mind” in the original Greek, actually refers to the ability of the bringing of a sound mind to others as well as to yourself.  In other words, our new life has given us the faculties not only to think and act soundly according to the Word of God in any situation, but also the ability to help others develop a sound mind as well. 

So, if we go back to the previous verse in Romans which is centered around the thought of “no condemnation,” then we have a twofold responsibility on our hands.  One that leads us away from receiving condemnation and another that leads us away from putting any condemnation on others!  And the law of the Spirit of Life, which is empowered by love, gives us the personal integrity and strength to accomplish the task.  There definitely is a new power in operation… PTL!  See what I mean about being “set free!”  Have a terrific day, stay tuned to God’s word and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?” 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Freedom!


So, let's take yesterday’s point one step further today.  As I was reading in my Bible this morning, I came once again to Romans 8:1 where the Apostle Paul boldly proclaims that “those who are believers in Christ Jesus can no longer be condemned.”  (God’s Word ©)  That truth gives us another indication as to why we can hear the sounds of joyful singing and victory emanating from the lives of those who are in right standing with God. (See: Psalm 118:15)  I think the critical balance of this verse in Romans is found in the tiny preposition “in.”  According to Strong’s it “denotes a fixed position in place, time or state (and ) is a position of rest.”

Those of us who are firmly “fixed” in our position with Christ can therefore no longer be brought under condemnation or judgment by those who may criticize our actions or beliefs, by the lying insinuations of the enemy, or by any physical evidence that is in contradiction to the truth found in the word of God.  The adverse convictions and/or sentences that are put upon us can have no effect as long as we are “in” Christ Jesus.   The Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary says that we “who believe in Him, to all legal effects, (are) made the righteousness of God in Him and thus… there is NO CONDEMNATION.”  Then it goes on to further define by saying “But this is no mere legal arrangement: it is a union in life…”  The key thought being “union in life.”  It is a place that we need to purposely pursue and stay in throughout the course of our daily lives.

I have mentioned on many occasions about some of the accusations that were brought upon me at the revelation of my wife’s health concerns.  (I am revisiting this incident because there may be readers who are dealing with similar situations)  Those few detractors made comments based on faulty information that hurt to the core, but if it had not been for the security of my standing “in” Christ and the foundation of the love that He has for me, I might have agreed with them and still be walking in defeat and condemnation to this day!

And that, my friends is exactly where the enemy of our souls would love for us to be!  Playing right into his adverse plans, by living in defeat, depression and fear instead of singing joyful songs of victory as a vibrant example of God’s love for the world around you to see.  The sounds of joyful singing and victory will draw those in need to you as a dinner bell would bring the hungry to a table filled with delicious foods and deserts!

Isn’t that the kind of life that you want to live?  No condemnation means a life of freedom.  Freedom to live the life that He has destined for you fulfill.  Don’t let the mis-informed words of a few distracters draw you away from God’s joy and victory that He has pre-arranged just for you!  Have a carefree day.  Stay in tune to His word and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Monday, April 23, 2012

Put That In Your Pipe...

In Isaiah 43:26 the Lord says to “Put me in remembrance…”  So in obedience to that word   this morning, I began to go through my Bible and point out to the Lord the various things that He has said concerning my wife’s total and complete healing.  On the way to Psalm 118:17 where the Lord has promised that she will not die but live “and tell what the Lord has done” (God’s Word ©) I stopped and read aloud from the previous two verses saying:

“The sound of joyful singing and victory
 is heard in the tents of righteous people.

 The right hand of the Lord displays strength
 The right hand of the Lord is held high
 The right hand of the Lord displays strength.” *

My immediate thought as I completed reading this section was “why?”  Why is there joyful singing “in the tents” (or as we would probably say today ‘in the houses’) of righteous people?”  Well, the next three lines (combined with a little New Testament insight) explain the reaction…

According to Ephesians 2:4-6 “God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.  (KJV) So, if you put that bit of information together with the scriptures in Psalm 118:15-16, you will come to realize that the “joyful singing and victory” is due to the fact that our hand is that right hand that is “displaying strength” and that which is “held high” in victory.

As Christ is now seated at the right hand of the Lord, so are we!  As born again Christians we hold that same place of authority as Jesus!  Whew!  Now that’s something to shout about!  It doesn’t matter what’s going on around your house, you have the strength to stand against it and overcome it, and all the while singing joyfully with songs of victory!

I’m not sure if that comes as a shock to your system and/or beliefs or not, but the Bible is quite clear about it!  Like I said to my wife yesterday as we were confessing some scriptures, “Put that in your pipe and smoke it!  Then I burst out laughing as I thought of how prophetic that saying is as I will sometimes loving refer to my wife whose name is Piper simply as “Pipe.”  You see, as she allows those healing scriptures to burn deeply within her, she will definitely end up smoking the lies of the devil concerning the sickness that he has tried to put on her!  Whoa! Glory!

So think on these truths as you bring God’s victory into every area of your lives this week!  Stay in tune to His word, and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”


PS:  If you read last Friday's blog, you'll be happy to know that my Dad did NOT break his hip.  It was just a bruise - PTL!

* Psalm 118:15-16 God’s Word ©

Friday, April 20, 2012

Being and Keeping Glad!

Well what do you know, it’s Friday and here in northern California the day has broken with sunny clear blue skies, with a fresh scent of spring in the air and the promise of a great day culminating in temperatures of about 84 degrees.  It truly is the day that the Lord has made, and I am choosing to rejoice and be glad in it!  (Psalm 118:24)  But, was it like this from the get-go today?  Are there dark clouds looming just over the horizon?

Last night I received a call from my Mom stating that my Dad had fallen down and she asked if I could come over and help get him up.  This is the second call of this nature this week.  While I also have a brother and sister in the area, I live the closest and have told my Mom to call me whenever she needs any assistance.  This was one of the many reasons why we wanted to live where we do. 

As I was helping my wife to get ready to go, the home phone rang again.  It was my Mom calling back to let me know that she, with the help of their evening care-giver, was able to get my Dad up and to bed.  I spoke to the care-giver and once we were assured that all was fine it was decided that we did not need to go over after all.  Needless to say, I have been increasingly concerned with the growing health needs of my folks.  These concerns along with my wife’s needs can tend to take a toll on one’s emotional well-being.  The movie that we happened to be watching when my mother had called was centered around a family on a large range in the middle of Wyoming.  If you’ve been reading this blog for very long then you know of my deep affection for wide open meadows and beautiful mountain ranges.  This particular movie was filled with panoramic scenes of grandeur!

When we finally sat back down and resumed watching the movie, I was suddenly overtaken with the beauty that was set before me on the screen and the STRONG desire to be right there in the middle of all that tranquility.  It was one of those times when one has to choose between falling apart and giving into the temptations of defeat and self pity or to firmly reestablish the foundation of your stand on the unfailing truth of God’s word.  I wisely chose the later of those two decisions.

This morning as I completed a wonderful time of study and fellowship with the Lord, I arose from my desk , drew open the blinds and opened one of the windows in my study so that I could just absorb the quiet stillness of the beautiful day.  I had no sooner opened the window when the loud penetrating sound of a large professional mower suddenly erupted as the lawn crew appeared from around the corner and began doing their work outside my window!  With a laugh I quickly closed the window and determined to not let my peace and my joy be disturbed.  

Well, that peace was once again threatened about five minutes later when I called my Mom to see how she and my Dad were doing.  She reported that she thought that my Dad may have broken his hip in the fall last night.  While I tended not to believe this was what had happened, I was nonetheless concerned about getting a medical viewpoint on the situation.  To make a long story short, my Dad has been taken to the emergency room where they are performing the necessary tests to determine the cause of the pain he is feeling.  The Paramedics who came to the house did not think that it was broken.

So what’s my point on all this?  In the midst of every potential bad report that has been coming in, I am still choosing to rejoice and be glad!  I have decided to be like the man described in Psalm 112:7 where it says that ‘He is not afraid of bad news.  His heart remains secure, full of confidence in the Lord.”  (God’s Word ©)  The results of my day today are firmly settled and fixed in the Word of the living God, after all, it isn’t called the “Good News” for nothing!

What decision are you going to make today?  Whose words are you going to allow to direct the outcome of your day?  Will it truly be the day that the Lord has made?  Will you be able to rejoice and be glad?  No matter what I need to do today, I am still going to enjoy the beauty that the Lord has set forth on this wonderful spring day… and I expect that you will do the same!  Have a great weekend, stay in tune to His word, and keep asking yourself… “What GOOD THINGS am I expecting today?”

Thursday, April 19, 2012

My "To Do List"

So, what’s on your agenda for today?  Do you have a ton of meetings at work?  Do you have to shuttle the kids to all their before and after school activities?  Does your “To Do List” look too long to accomplish in one day? As I have mentioned before, when our kids we’re growing up I normally worked as many as three jobs at once.  At times it seemed like my list of activities that needed to be accomplished was longer at the end of the day than at the beginning!  And even though we home schooled our kids, I think that my wife spent as much time in the Suburban escorting the kids to band, ballet, sporting events and field trips as she did teaching them at home!

Sometimes the activities of our lives can become overwhelming and as much as we may enjoy the things that we do, there are times when it is just hard to face another day!  Have you ever felt that way, or am I just an unusual case?

This morning my Bible Study Program automatically opened up to where I had left off yesterday at Psalm 118:24.  Once again this verse says that “This is the day that the LORD has made.  Let’s be glad and rejoice today!”  (God’s Word ©)  As I stared at the words of this verse my interest was peaked and I began to look up some of the words for their original intent and meaning.  In Hebrew the term to “rejoice” as stated in this verse means “to spin around, under the influence of any violent emotion – usually rejoicing.” That reminded me of Sunday morning service that we attended during our first few months in Oklahoma.  Right in the middle of one of the praise songs, the pastor’s wife came up to the pulpit, motioned for the music to stop and then went on to give the same definition as I quoted above.

At this time I do not remember the song that we were singing, but there was a phrase in the lyrics that lended itself to the spinning around of the congregation.  After some brief instruction the worship team started up the music and at the notated time all 2000 plus of us in the congregation followed the pastor’s wife’s example and spun around while raising our hands and singing.  After awhile the whole atmosphere in the service changed from embarrassment, to amusement and then to profound worship.  It was an awe inspiring time in the presence of God!

According to our verse in Psalm 118:24, this is an experience that we can participate in everyday - right in the privacy of our own homes!  It’s up to us!  When’s the last time that you threw up your arms in worship and began to fervently (or as the Hebrew definition says: with “violent emotion?”) spin around as you rejoiced in His presence?  Takes guts doesn’t it?

Last Friday I talked about how our heritage can affect the way we do things (See: “It’s A Part Of Your Heritage” 4/13/12).  Well, as a born again Christians this type of excited, free  wheeling worship is a part of our heritage.  Remember Jesus’ earthly parents came from the same tribe as David, and he didn’t care what people said about the way he worshipped the Lord! (Check out 2 Samuel 6)  David’s heritage of praise and worship is just a part of who we are!

I once read of a well known evangelist who at eighty years of age would still dance around his bedroom in worship to God for ten minutes the first thing every morning!  That kind of joyful yielding to our heavenly Father would definitely cause one to have a totally new attitude about the day that they were about to face!

So put aside the anxiety or dread of the day before you and let the rejoicing begin.  Then allow that peace and joy to carry you through each item that you check off on your “To Do List!”  Have a great day!  Stay in tune to His word and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Rest

Today was one of those days that started in slow motion for me!  Have you ever experienced that feeling?  After getting the coffee maker going, I carefully ambled into the study and sat there a little bleary eyed and looked over the jumble of open Bibles and notes on my desk.  The last couple of weeks have been very busy, a little rough emotionally and have drawn a lot of energy from me.  As I sat there at my desk the word “rest” began to filter through my mind.

Last week I had the opportunity to go to my older son’s house for the day to help him move.  I saw this as an opportunity for some fellowship with him and his family, and as a respite from all my activities in the care taking of my wife.  My wife was staying home in the care of a good friend.  While I had a good time with my son though, things did not quite go as planned.  On the way to his house I was involved in a traffic accident.  The car came out of the incident relatively unscathed, but I was a little shook and sore.

That soreness seemed to be in the forefront of my every move today.  After studying for about a half hour I finally rolled out of my chair and laid down on the floor and began to pray.  I have to tell you that it was a very enjoyable and comfortable experience!  I stayed in that position for quite awhile and enjoyed the quiet stillness of the early morning.  Some times it just takes our forcing the issue to stop our “doing” and get still before the Lord.

I am not sure if my actions this morning would meet the classical definition of meditation, but it sure hit the spot as I felt drawn right into the presence of God.  You know it is just a lot easier to hear Him when it is quiet.  It would seem that the noise of activity drowns away the words of wisdom that He longs for us to hear.  Ecclesiastes 9:17 says that “The words of wise men are heard in quiet, more than the cry of one who rules among fools.”  (Literal Translation of the Holy Bible)

My “rest” this morning may not have had the glamour of lodge perched on an ocean cliff, or a fancy hotel with room service and a spa, but it definitely had what it took to make the connection that brings true peace and joy to a sore body and calm and understanding to an emotionally torn thought life.  “This is the day that the LORD has made.  Let’s rejoice and be glad today.”  (Psalm 118:25 God’s Word ©)  Okay… I’m there, how about you?

Stay in tune to His word and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

New Technology

Don’t you just love the benefits of modern technology?  I had to laugh this morning as I looked across my desk in the midst of my study time and realized that I was studying concurrently from two different Bibles, a Bible app on my cell phone and from my computer Bible Study program!  It is amazing to me to see how far technology has brought us.  I am always at awe as to how I can talk face to face with any of our kids, no matter where they may be across the USA!

I was talking to my newest son-in-law a few weeks ago about the ability to see some footage of our daughter playing keyboard with the youth band at their church.  Without any hesitation Jeremiah asked if I wanted a live feed or a recording!  And even though we were not able to attend my son’s graduation in Oklahoma last May, I was still able to not only watch it live, but also converse with my daughter about the unfolding events as she captured them through the camera on her iPhone!

Sometimes I will get a little annoyed when I talk with some people who refuse to embrace the new technology available to us today.  I can understand those in my parent’s generation, but yet I was always encouraged by senior customers I served while working in the retail business who enjoyed the far reaching use of the world wide web.  There is probably a whole range of reasons why some folks refuse to use the tools that modern technology offers, but I think that a lot of it has to do with our perspective.  For some technology is viewed as a good thing, while for others it is seen as a negative, something different.  It is the attitude of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

It seems that this is the way that many people view their daily lives.  They will tend to see the new opportunities and situations that arise as potential problems instead as experiences that can add a positive twist or adventure to their lives.  To me it would be like the old glass half full or half empty adage.  It all depends on your point of view or perspective.

While speaking in reference to the act of Christian baptism, the Apostle Paul makes the comment in Romans 6:5: “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.”  (KJV)  John Gill makes the observation of this statement by saying that Christians “are and shall be so influenced by His Spirit and grace, which has raised them from death to life, that they shall walk in newness of life.”  To my way of thinking this means that everyday should be celebrated as a fresh start or a new beginning.

Is that the way you view life?  Do you panic at the first sight of change, or do you take a deep breath, smile and then allow the peace of God to guide you through the exciting times ahead?  I think that is what was meant by walking in the “newness of life!”  As Christians we should take God’s point of view on the different situations we face.  1 Corinthians 2:16 goes as far as to say that we have the “mind of Christ.” (KIV)  That would indicate that we should be able to reason things through under the guiding influence of God’s perspective and with His “power, love and a sound mind.”  (2 Timothy 1:7 – KJV)

Kinda cool huh?  And I think that is exactly how He wants us to be… cool in the midst of all the heat that confronts us!  You know… speaking of heat, it is supposed to get fairly hot around here in the next few days.  I’d better go out and get some fresh batteries for my hand held fan so that I will be comfortable as I sit out on the patio checking my facebook account on my iPhone while I listen to satellite radio…  Have a super day, stay in tune to His word and keep asking yourself… “What New Things am I expecting today?”


Monday, April 16, 2012

Christian Characteristic ABC's

Yesterday we wrapped up the first quarter of the new Children’s Church curriculum that I have been writing.  Over the last twelve weeks the kids have been learning the Christian Characteristic ABC’s, with each letter of the alphabet representing an important trait that we as Christians should possess.  In Sunday’s concluding lesson I shared about “Why We Do What We Do.”  We participated in many fun activities and then finished the class by handing out official “Christians In Action” (CIA) hats to all the kids who had been learning and memorizing the 26 characteristics.

I always strive to keep things exciting and fun throughout the 1 ½ hour class.  My training and experience have taught me to keep things moving and never to allow for a dull moment.  I don’t know if most people really understand how much energy goes into the leading of an elementary age Children’s Church program.  Many look at me like I am a little crazy when I get home on Sunday’s and collapse for the rest of the day!  But you know what?  It is worth all the effort!  I have just as much fun (probably more!) as the kids have on Sunday mornings!  Our program is just beginning to click and it is exciting to see the new leadership team develop and flow with each other and with the kids.

One of the activities yesterday consisted of the kids answering a set of questions according to how they thought Jesus would answer them and then how they would personally answer them.  One young man responded to the inquiry of “If someone said something nasty to me, I would…” by stating that he would punch him!  We had a good laugh as he told the class and then demonstrated his answer.  This of course, led us right into the crux of the lesson where we discussed why Christian Characteristics are so important to the modern day ministry of Jesus Christ as lived and demonstrated through us.

As I reminisced about yesterday’s class, including the young man’s funny response in my study time this morning, I thought about Eugene Peterson’s explanation of God’s grace in The Message Bible found in Romans 5:20-21.  It says “sin didn’t and doesn’t have a chance in competition with the aggressive forgiveness we call grace.” 

I have heard it said that we are to be living epistles of God’s ways to the world.  If this is true, then we too should be demonstrating “aggressive forgiveness” in the form of grace to those who do not speak or act kindly toward us.  Our actions should stand apart from those of the world.  Our actions should make an impact, not because of the stinging words and/or motions we might retaliate with, but because of the love that sooths instead of inciting the situation.  (See Proverbs 15:1)

The thought of “aggressive forgiveness” makes me think of going above and beyond the call of duty in order to present the Gospel message to the hurting world all around us.  It means that I must let go and move on from the pain that I have experienced from those close to me by their reactions to my wife’s health concerns.  What might it mean for you?  It could be time for a personal inventory of the things that you have been carrying around with you.  Are you ready to “aggressively forgive?”  Are you living your ABC’s?

Have a good week, stay in tune to His word and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Friday, April 13, 2012

It’s A Part of Your Heritage

Okay, so you’re living life with an attitude of joy and you receive a bad report… maybe even a very bad report.  What do you do?  Do you fall apart?  Do you give into the worry and fear that is attacking your mind?  No!  You take the pastoral advice of James and “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds…”  (James 1:2 NIV)  He goes on to say that trials are tests of your faith and if you hang on and “grasp with both hands this wildly extravagant life-gift” (Romans 5:17 – The Message) as we talked about on Wednesday (See: “Cop An Attitude” 4-11-12), you’ll take even more ground and find yourself being more “mature and complete, not lacking anything.”  (James 1:4 NIV)

So now you can see that there is no excuse for a Christian to not be full of joy!  You could say it’s in your blood!  And you know… it is!  I always joke with people that since I am 100% Italian, that when I cut myself I don’t bleed blood, but instead pasta sauce!  You see I am an Italian and I just love pasta, and Italian foods, (people think that I am weird because I don’t care for Mexican food even with the abundance of good Hispanic restaurants in California!) and I like to wave my hands and arms when I talk.  It’s just a part of my heritage.

As Christians our heritage is found in the shed blood of Jesus Christ and all that He accomplished and has provided for us through His sacrifice on the cross.  We now have His heritage of victory that we can depend on in our daily lives.  Remember Romans 8:2 declares that “The standards of the Spirit, who give life through Christ Jesus, have (past tense!) set you free from the standards of sin and death.” (God’s Word – parenthesis mine) His ways are just a part of who we are, and you can choose to reject them and be just like everyone else or embrace them and live with that perpetual smile on your face and that hop to your step!

“But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord,” (Joshua 24:15) and live our lives with the gusto and strength that only His joy can bring. (See: Nehemiah 8:10)  How about you?  What decision will you make - or have already made?  Hey, joy is a part of your heritage.  Don’t fight against it, but go with the flow of His current and enjoy the waters of His blessings!  Have a great weekend, stay in tune to His word and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting to experience as a part of my heritage today?”

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Be A Radical

“God looked over everything he had made;
 It was so good, so very good” *


The more I study the epistles of Paul, the more I am convinced that he had a dynamic understanding of the kind of life that our Heavenly Father intended for us to experience in this world… and beyond!  The church that my wife and I attended during the first few years of our marriage leaned toward the teaching that we had to wait until Jesus’ millennium reign before we could enjoy the many blessing that I have been alluding to over the last few days.  Over the many years since then though, I have come to a totally different conclusion.  My personal studies, my Bible School training and the majority of the leaders, of the great revivals that have spanned our country and Europe since the time of Finney all point to an existence on this earth where we are to be “the head and not the tail!”  (Deuteronomy 28:13 KJV)

Once again, the Message Bible seems to hit this understanding on the bulls eye through its paraphrase of Paul’s words in Romans 5:18 saying, ”Here it is in a nutshell: Just as one person did it wrong and got us in all this trouble with sin and death, another person did it right and got us out of it.  But more than just getting us out of trouble, he got us into life!”  The King James Version uses the terminology “justification of life.”  The Jamison, Fausset and Brown Commentary states that this expression means “justification entitling to and issuing in the right possession and enjoyment of life.”  You know what?  That sounds like the same original plan that God had for Adam before sin occurred!

God’s creation of the world is described in the first chapter of the first book of the Bible.    In Genesis 1:28 God told His newly created man to “… fill the earth, and be its master.”  (God’s Word ©)  The previous verse tells us that we were created in God’s image.  John Gill in his Exposition of the Entire Bible explains this by saying that “man is as God’s viceregent (or viceroy) and resembled him.”  A viceroy is “the governor of a kingdom or country who rules in the name of the king with regal authority as the king’s substitute.”  (Webster’s original 1828 dictionary)  Does that sound like many Christians you and I know who live down Grumble Alley, just up the block from I Can’t Make It Street?

No!  As Christians we should be living as ones in full command of the rightful possession of life, with complete enjoyment of each and everyday!  Whoa… sounds kinda radical huh?  Well, Jesus was kind of a radical individual in His day and time on this earth too!  When some of the early Believer’s in the book of Acts were brought before the leaders of the city they were in, their accusers stated that “these who have turned the world upside down have come here too!”  Acts 17:6 (MKJV) 

Are those same statements being said about you?  Living this style of life can’t help but force an attitude of joy on you that will ooze off on anyone that you should bump up against! Sounds like fun and adventure to me!  Consider it… and then be about your Father’s business! (See: Luke 2:49)  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What Radical Lifestyle am I expecting to Live today?”



 * (Genesis 1:31 The Message)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Cop An Attitude!

I was reading this morning in Romans chapter five where it says “It is certain that death ruled because of one person’s failure.  It is even more certain that those who receive God’s overflowing kindness (or grace) and the gift of his approval (or righteousness) will rule in life because of one person, Jesus Christ.”  (God’s Word © - parenthesis mine)  This verse gives us a good explanation of why we can live in consistent joy, no matter what is happening in our lives.  The apostle Paul makes it quite clear that Christians should be living differently than others in the world.  He says that we who have received God’s grace and righteousness should be rulers, not followers, winners and not losers in this life.  When you look up the original Greek definition of the word “rule” in this verse you will find that it means to “exercise kingly power,” or “to exercise the highest influence.”  (Thayer’s Greek Definitions)  And that word “life” isn’t just talking about a normal, mundane existence.  It is the “zoe” life of God.  It is living in the “absolute fullness of life.”  It is “the state of one who is possessed of vitality or is animate.”  (Thayer’s)

The Message Bible seems to capture the real sense of excitement that I believe Paul was trying to convey to us concerning this way of life that Jesus has afforded us to live.  It says “… can you imagine the breathtaking recovery life makes, sovereign life, in those who grasp with both hand this wildly extravagant life-gift, this grand setting-everything right, that the one man Jesus Christ provides?” (Romans 5:17)  Now if that doesn’t fill you with joy and put a permanent smile on your face and a hop in your step, then I don’t know what will!

I have to be honest and tell you that it is my solid belief in this verse and the countless others just like it that have helped to keep me afloat throughout these last few years with the attack on my wife’s health.  Do I have weak moments where I am tempted to throw in the towel?  Sure, everyone does at times, but I refuse to give into those lies that only lead to defeat and sorrow.  And even in those times I can be strong because God’s word also says that “my strength is made perfect in weakness!” (2 Corinthians 12:9 KJV)

So you see, we just can’t lose… as long as we “grasp with both hands this wildly extravagant life-gift”and hold on tight!  I think that it is all about having an attitude!  An attitude that is firmly based on the “exceedingly, abundantly above all” that our heavenly Fathers not only desires for us but has also provided for us in this life. (See; Ephesians 3:20 NKJV)  So, cop an attitude, put on a confident smile and go out with a swagger in your step that demonstrates that joy that only He can provide!  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Joyful Conclusions...

I had an appointment with my tax service on Friday afternoon.  I was a little surprised at the amount that I had to pay Uncle Sam, but I had put some money aside and all would be well.  At the conclusion of our meeting my preparer had a question that he needed to check out concerning one of my income sources and told me that he’d give me a call when he got the information.  I went ahead and called him back yesterday and almost went through the roof when he gave me the adjusted figures.  The new amount due was substantially more than the preliminary numbers from our initial appointment.

Now if you remember, I stated that we would be talking a little more about the subject of joy throughout this week in the blog.   I made this phone call right after I had finished publishing that blog post and I have to admit, that at that point my feelings were not ones of joy!  Within a matter of just a few quick moments my thoughts and emotions went from astonishment, to anger, to the fear of how I was going to pay this and then to peace as I thought about Philippians 4:19 where it says that “my God shall supply all of your need according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (KJV).  Once that was settled I reviewed the reasoning behind the changes with my tax specialist and with that understanding I thanked him and set up a time to pick up the paperwork.

As I hung up the phone I looked over at my wife who was standing on the other side of my desk and burst out laughing as I reviewed what had just happened.  It was the exercise of all those emotions that really tickled my reaction.  I think that my natural mind immediately went into shock at the pronouncement of the amount due and was searching my data banks for some information to rectify the situation.  Thank God that I had hidden a solid understanding of God’s promises of provision to us in His word within my heart, or else I probably still be looking for answers!

As I talked this over with my wife, the joy of the Lord came upon me as I could see and feel His love working for us in this situation.  Romans 14:17 says that “The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”  (NIV)  That is the explanation of what I experienced yesterday.  My peace and ensuing joy came not through a physical answer but because of my right standing with God and my faith and trust in His word.  Once I yielded all those crazy emotions over to Him the peace came.  This calming peace triggered His joy in me and was followed by the thought of a plan on how to meet the financial need.  And this all happened within a matter of moments as I listen to my tax specialist explain the changes on the phone!  My plan was set before I even hung up the receiver!

That’s what I call a joyful conclusion to what could have been a bad report!  That’s the type of life I believe that we as Christians should be living 24/7.  Sure the problems and questions will arise, but a life lived under the authority of His kingdom should result in peace and joy.  I like those odds, how about you?  Have a great day. Tune into His Word and keep asking yourself… “What Conclusions To The Situations In My Life am I expecting today?”

Monday, April 9, 2012

Joy

I've been thinking a lot about Joy over the last few days.  What does it really mean?  What is its source?  Can it possibly be something that you have all the time?  The Merriam-Webster dictionary says that it is “the emotion evoked by well being, success or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires; a state of happiness or a source or cause of delight.”

When I listen to people talk I get the idea that for many of them, their joy is based on a dream of an abundance of financial resources in the bank.  For others it might be that special vacation away from the busyness of the daily routine.  If you believe what the commercials on TV put out, then joy is anything from a good smoke, to a cold beer, a delicious meal, an expensive car, new clothes, close friends and family or the newest and fastest cell phone!

So what is it?  Do all the “things” I mentioned really bring true joy?  Yesterday we celebrated Easter.  It was fun to listen to the kids in our class as they excitedly talked about all that they were going to do and receive during their celebrations with their family and or friends.  My wife and I had a rather quiet day.  Both our families had their own plans so we watched our beloved Giants blow a 6-0 lead and lose to Arizona.  We then took a short siesta, jumped in the car and took a leisurely ride in the country, purchased some burgers, watched a fun movie and hit the sack.  Not what I would call a normal Easter, but sometimes you just got to go with the flow! 

If I was basing my joy on having a typical Easter dinner and fellowship with family, I would have been sorely disappointed!  So what should I base my joy on?  If one was to combine the statements in Nehemiah 8:10 with James 1:17 it would say “the joy of the Lord is your strength… with whom there is no variableness nor shadow of turning” (KJV - MKJV) That would seem to indicate that no matter what is going on in your life, our source of constant joy should be found in the Lord.  So whether you’re feeling up or down, or your wallet is stuffed with one hundred dollar bills or just a few with George Washington’s picture on them, your level of joy, if founded on the Lord and the truth of His word, should be the same!

That knowledge kind of takes away a lot of the rollercoaster affects of life doesn’t it!  I enjoy a good roller coaster ride occasionally, but I don’t want to live riding the rails at the amusement park!  We went to bed last night with a smile on our lips and a feeling of contentment in our hearts.  How about you?  We’ll explore the subject of joy a little more this week.  So, have a great day, let His joy shine through you and laugh aloud as those you associate with give you that look that seems to say “what have they been doing?  Tune into His Word and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Friday, April 6, 2012

Life In Hazzard County

Have you ever seen the old TV series “The Dukes of Hazzard?”  Now, I am not talking about the movie remake released in 2005, but the car jumping, fist fighting, good ole boy series that ran for seven seasons from 1979 to 1985.  I don’t remember watching the show that much when it was first on because, to be honest, I thought it was too stupid!  Recently I noticed that one of our satellite channels shows reruns and I began to record the program.  I even went as far as to do a little research on the show and its original cast members.  It turns out that the show is actually quite deceptive…

The series portrays a group of very simple, back hills, country type, bumbling individuals who live in the make believe southern land of Hazzard County.  It is a classic tale of the good guys vs the bad guys shown in a very humorous way.  It turns out though, that the characters in the show who played the parts of barely educated, lost in the woods, country bumpkins were (and are still) very well educated, talented and accomplished actors.

As I watch the show now, I observe it from a totally different viewpoint.  Now the thoughts of these prolific individuals – acting out – such silly roles causes me even more intrigue as I consider their craft and the fun they must have had playing their parts, while I bend over in laughter in front of our flat screen TV!  Did you know that Sorrell Booke, the actor who played the ridicules “Boss Hogg” had been a counterintelligence officer in the Korean War and was fluent in 5 languages?  That his sheriff Rosco P Coltrane, played by James Best, is a very accomplished and well known dramatic actor in the movies and has guest starred over 280 times on various TV shows throughout the years.  And the list goes on and on. Tom Wopat (Luke Duke) is a recording artist and has starred in lead roles on Broadway up to and including the present, John Schneider (Bo Duke) is a born-again Christian, has stayed active in TV and in Movie roles and co-founded the Children’s Miracle Network as well as a production company that produces family orientated videos and recordings.  Then there is Ben Jones who played Cooter Davenport and later became a two term US Congressman after the show ran its course.

My point is that what you saw was not always what was actually happening!  I read that in the course of the seven seasons of the show that they actually used over 300 1968 and 1969 Dodge Chargers because they usually destroyed at least one car a show.  On the screen you only see the car jumping and later landing safely (unless you’re real observant and occasionally see parts flying off the car or fenders and/or the hood being crunched  just before they cut to another scene!)

According to Romans 4:17 where it says that we have a God “that calleth those things that be not as though they were.” (KJV)  And Hebrews 11:1 that states that our faith “convinces us of things we cannot (yet) see.” (God’s Word © parenthesis mine) we also live in Hazzard County Many of the events that we see in our daily lives do not line up with what is actually happening, for behind the scene God is preparing a victory for us in the Kingdom of Heaven!  Just as the actors on the Dukes of Hazzard show played characters that were not like who they REALLY were, the trials and tribulations we face each day on the show of our lives are not always the true rendition of what our faith says they REALLY are.  Our job is to stay firm in our faith until we see the visual manifestation of the promises that God has for us – which is the actual truth of the situations we face!

Hummm… kind of interesting thoughts huh?  So, the next time you face a difficult situation, I would suggest that you remember to do as Bo and Luke Duke did as they nervously faced the obstacle that they were rapidly approaching in their speeding, bright orange General Lee Charger.  They would glance at each other with a determined look, put the petal to the metal and then yell “Ya-hoo!” as they leaped over the problem and drove off into the sunset!  Remember that the children of Israel also yelled out the “Ya-hoo!” of faith and the walls of Jericho came tumbling down before them!  Have a great weekend.  Tune into His Word and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”  


PS:  "Breaker one, Breaker one, I might be crazy but I ain't dumb.  Craaazy 
          Cooter comin' atcha , come on..."  Hey!  I had a CB too!!!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Do You Know That You Know?

I just opened the window in my study and am sitting here enjoying the fragrances and sights of a beautiful spring day here in northern California.  The lawn crew just came through and the scent of freshly cut grass is wafting on the wind that is flowing into my room.  That is one thing that I miss, now that I am not engaged in my lawn care business anymore.  But I can still enjoy the benefits as I gaze out the window and look at the trim green lawns, the manicured shrubbery, the budding trees and the bright blue sky.  Ah… God is so good.  Days like today make it easy to see and acknowledge “the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13 KJV)

But what about those days, like the one that I had yesterday?  How can one see and/or believe for His goodness when you’ve just received a devastating report, or when nothing seems to be going your way at all?  The answer is actually simple.  It’s the doing that takes a little time and effort though.  The solution lies in following the example of Abraham in Romans 4:20-21.  The Bible says that “he didn’t doubt God’s promise out of a lack of faith.  Instead, giving honor to God, for the promise, he became strong because of faith and was absolutely confident that God would do what he promised.”  (God’s Word ©)

I believe the key to Abraham’s faith, and to ours as well, is found in Abraham’s lack of doubt that was based on his close and ongoing relationship with God.  Other translations say that Abraham never questioned or examined in unbelief the promise of God and was therefore fully persuaded, or filled with the conviction of God’s ability and willingness to fulfill His promise.  How did the father of our faith come to this place in his understanding?  He took the time to “know” God.  It says that he “became” or “grew” strong.  This is a process that happens and becomes stronger the more one pursues their relationship with God. 

This scripture infers that we, like Abraham, can become “so firm in the persuasion of God’s ability to fulfill His promise, that no difficulties shake us.” (Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary)  In other words as Oral Roberts always said, you will “know that you know” what God will do.  This was something that was very important to my children as they matured into adults.  They wanted people (especially family members) who knew them as kids to know them as grown adults.  They wanted them to see the growth and maturity that had occurred in their lives.  I’ve mentioned before about the negative counsel that my youngest daughter had received from family members when she decided to stay in Oklahoma on her own, in order to complete her third year in the School of Worship program at Bible School.

While I believe the intent was good, the motive and reasoning used by those who tried to dissuade her were based on information that was totally out of sync with, and ignorant of the events that had occurred in her life over the previous two years.  They had not known of the hours of honest and heart wrenching conversation and prayers that had gone on between my daughter and God, between me and God and then between the two of us as we spent time discussing the hurts of moving away from home, and then the transitions that were occurring in her as our heavenly Father began to show her His special care and plans for her life.  They did not see the growing maturity that we witnessed in her.  They did not “know that they knew” like we did, through the trials and tribulations and then the joys of self discovery.  There was not an on going relationship that enabled the kind of understanding and trust that we had in her ability to make the right decision.

Did I like the idea of her staying in Oklahoma while we moved back to California?  No!  Did I know that it was the right decision that was blessed by the hand of God?  Yes, and therefore I had the peace and the confidence that she would do fine… which she has!  You know, you can be related to someone by family lineage but that doesn’t mean that you necessarily have a close and on-going relationship with them.  One again, that type of relationship takes time and consistent effort.  As Christians we have a family lineage with God, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we are close enough to Him for us to be “absolutely confident” that He will do what is promised to us in His word.

Over the last two years my wife and I have dedicated ourselves to literally submerge ourselves in God’s word on healing throughout each and every day.  It was that familiarity and closeness to Him and His promises that enabled me to push past the exhaustion and pain that I was feeling last night (both physically and emotionally) and not put into action the fear and anxiety of the bad report we had received at the doctor’s office.  It was the results of the time and effort we are continually putting in that gave us the peace even though there wasn’t necessarily any physical evidence to support it.  It is because we “know that we know” that what He says He will do will eventually come to pass in my wife.

Is that the same kind of comforting knowledge that you posses?  If not… the answers are all in His instruction book.  Don’t give in to excuses but be determined to find and then take the time to personally develop an on going intimate and personal relationship with your heavenly Father.  It will become a part of your life that you will never regret.  Have a good day.  Enjoy the fragrances and sights of Spring.  Tune into His Word and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Oh What A Day!

Yesterday was one of those big days that you know might take a day or two to get over!  My wife had another follow up appointment with her Specialist in San Francisco.  Therefore the day started with a bang as I arose early and commenced to get everything ready for our timely departure.  All was going as scheduled until we attempted to get out the door and make our way to the detached garages.  Time was becoming of the essence and it seemed like I kept forgetting to grab all the things that I needed before we made the hour long trip.  I ended up jogging back and forth from the car to the house 3 times before I had it all!

Once we got on the road everything went like clock work.  Even the migraine I woke up with felt better!  The trip was relaxing, the weather was terrific and I never lose the sense of awe when I cross the Golden Gate Bridge on a clear and sunny day.  We even arrived at the large block long office/hospital building with time to spare!  It is always interesting for me when we drive through the underground parking garage to look at the pot puree of makes and models of cars that are there.  Yesterday was no different and we were treated to the pleasure of parking next to a new Bentley Continental GT.  I had never seen one up close and enjoyed the view.  I even did my best to see if I could talk the parking attendant, whom I’ve gotten to know in past visits, into letting me take it for a spin in the 3 story garage.  We had a good laugh, but that’s as far as it got!

The appointment itself went well.  We spent time first with a Clinical Social Worker and then with our Neurologist and a young Doctor in his last year of his residency.  All agreed that my wife’s condition had stabilized over last few months except for one symptom that was now prevalent enough for the Doctor to put a name to it, even though the last MRI does not necessarily confirm her potential diagnosis.  My wife was very responsive and in tune to her surroundings and seemed to be having a good time.  As I have mentioned before, this is the first Doctor that we have been to that REALLY takes the time to connect with her.  She always gives my wife a hug, talks directly to her and waits for an answer.  Her compassion is very visible as it is with everyone in the office.

The hardest part of the day came as we were getting ready for bed.  I’m not sure if you’ll understand this or not, but it is like I had to be “On” all day long, ready and sharp for anything.  I needed to be prepared to talk about symptoms, daily care, medications and results, food and exercise, any irregularities in my wife’s daily habits and health, along with any other subject that came up.  When we got upstairs for the night I finally was able to turn myself off.  It was at that point that I found myself standing in our room mentally reviewing all that we had talked about during the appointment.  The thought of the newest symptom’s progression and the consequences of the potential future physical difficulties for my wife began to take its affect on me.

Once again, you have to remember that it had been a long emotional day and the migraine had reappeared and gotten worse on the way home.  It is usually at your weakest time that the enemy of our souls likes to attack.  I am thankful though, for the uncanny ability of the Holy Spirit to bring up the Word that has been hidden in one’s heart at times like this.  Without allowing the negative thoughts to bloom, my mind was quickly drawn to Hebrews 12:2 where it says “we must focus on Jesus the initiator and the completer of our faith” (personal compilation of the verse) The previous verse says “we must run the race that lies ahead of us and never give up.” (Hebrews 12:1 God’s Word ©)

That was enough to snap me out of that line of thought and return me to our stand of faith that is in agreement with God’s will for my wife’s long term health.  While the natural course of this disease says that she must get worse and progress to the final conclusion, God has promised us that she has work to do and “will not die but live and tell what the Lord has done.”  (Psalm 118:17 God’s Word ©). 

That was all it took to put a tired but triumphant smile on my face as I wearily climbed between the sheets and turned off the light.  I’ll share more tomorrow, but suffice to say, the Lord is always faithful and His word is the truth on any subject.  (I Corinthians 10:13 / John 17:17)  No matter how tough the situation and no matter how exhausted you may be, never allow the lies of the enemy to contradict the word of God that you are standing on.  Have a good Wednesday, tune into His Word and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Personal Reflections

There was another positive outcome from the extra prayer time that I put in a couple of days ago.  Just before I turned the lights out on Sunday night, I got up to get a drink of water.  As I stood looking at the reflection of myself in the upstairs vanity mirror, I asked the Lord what was going on.  Our current set of circumstances are not at all like what I had envisioned for this time in our lives.  Instead of being in the midst of the fulfillment of our biggest dream, cumulating the climax of our life long preparations, we find ourselves fighting a battle that seemingly came out of left field!

As I looked in the mirror I inquired of the Lord as to the “whys,” “how’s” and the “what’s next” questions.  Almost instantly I received the peaceful answer coming up from my spirit saying “you’re in the final stages of preparation.”  As I seemingly looked past the mirror into what I can only explain as the spirit realm, I saw the events of my life flash by from High School graduation on.  What I realized is that I have been involved in almost continuous Christian ministry leadership since the spring of 1971!  Right after graduation my wife (my girlfriend at the time) and I assumed leadership over the College Career group at the church we were attending.  From there I went on staff as the Youth Minister, followed by positions as Assistant Pastor at various churches through the years.  What I believe the Lord was trying to show me was that in all the years that I had spent ministering and helping others to fulfill their visions, that I had never had or taken the time to really solidify my own personal understanding of the Word.

Over the last two years I have found myself questioning and/or investigating many of the beliefs that I have stood on for over 40 years, as my wife and I have gone through the journey of this attack on her mind.  And while the vast majority of my beliefs have stood the test of the trial, some I have come to see from a different perspective.  This new perspective has added new strength, a new zeal and an added firmness to the foundation of my calling to minister to others from a Pastoral point of effort.

Suddenly finding myself back home with the kids all gone, my wife’s health under attack with the added dimension of being paid by the state to stay home as her 24 hour caregiver and with my long term ministerial aspirations put on hold has afforded me the opportunity to pursue the in-depth study and understanding of all I that I have learned through actual experience in the field and academic studies in the countless classes and seminars I have attended over the years and in Bible School.

Times of reflection are important to all of us.  They are instrumental in fortifying us with firm foundations of faith that under gird us during the upheavals that occur in life.  These foundations are what make us who we are and are the library from which we draw information as we live and minister to others.  This is the personal foundation that the heroes of the faith in Hebrews eleven as well as many of the mighty men and women of God who have participated in the various great revivals of recent history hung on to when times got tough.

When was the last time you sat in personal reflection?  Don’t make the same mistake I did by getting so involved in all the pressures and activities of life that you never fully develop your own personal structure of faith.  While it may be easier to simply absorb everybody else’s understandings of the faith (that are derived through their own set of life’s experiences), you will actually do yourself and those to whom you minister a favor by taking the time to firmly establish your own unmovable footing.

Abraham had no-thing and no one that he could depend on when doubt and unbelief attacked his faith.  He just developed his own unmovable foundation that brought him to the point where it is written about him that “when there was nothing left to hope for, Abraham was able to hope and believe” because he was “absolutely confident that God would do as he promised.”  (Hebrews 4:18 and 21 God’s Word ©)

Do you have that personal foundation to do the same?  If not, then times of personal reflection may be necessary!  Have a good Tuesday, tune into His Word and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”