Our New Home

Our New Home
Fall is defintely in the air!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Good Memories!


Yesterday was another one of those bitter sweet days filled with lots of memories and emotions.  It began with an appointment with our new Social Worker who wanted to meet us as well as re-certify my wife for all her IHSS benefits.  Everything went very well as we went over all the forms, recanted the history of events over the last three years, updated and increased the care needs for my wife from the previous year and discussed the regulations of the program and all the difficult necessities that she needed to inform us of as the course of the disease (in the natural) progresses.

As she was leaving the Social Worker mentioned that my wife and I were an inspiration to others because of our close relationship to each other and the care and love we demonstrated.  I had mentioned earlier during the meeting that Piper and I have been best friends since high school.  Both Piper and I were very thankful for the kind words, encouragement and assistance that we received yesterday.  These meetings, as I am sure I’ve mentioned before, are always encouraging and heart wrenching at the same time.  But they always give us a chance to share our faith and our total commitment to not giving up because of our solid faith in God and the truth that is contained in His Word.

Following that meeting we had a quick bite to eat and drove over to my folks home so that we could join my brother and sister in going through everything in the house and making the necessary decisions.  This was another tough time as the three of us walked through memory lane with each box, bag, photo album or other miscellaneous items that we discovered.  Every so often one of us would yell out “Wow!” or “take a look at this” or “Gee, I forgot all about this…” and then we’d gather together to look at each others treasures.

In the bottom of one box that I was sorting through, I came across a fuzzy photo of my Piper and I that was taken very near our wedding day.  From the description on the back of the photo, it would seem that the main subject of the photo was supposed to be the flowers on the cactus in front of me that only opened one day a year.  The picture immediately brought back a flood of memories of all the fun times my wife and I had in the months before our wedding day on July 12, 1975.  I can’t get over how young she looked in the picture.  At 21 years of age, she looked more like she was barely 16!  People used to accuse me of “stealing from the cradle” when we were dating.  In fact we were stopped one time as we walked downtown by the “downtown crazy lady” (Pepper… any of you long time local folks remember her?) who loudly exclaimed the proclamation of cradle theft!

What I remember the most is all the times that we laughed and rejoiced together!  It was like were always giggling and having fun (hum… some things never change!!!)  Those memories made me think about the verse in I Thessalonians 5:16 as I leaned over to turn the light out last night.  In this verse the Apostle Paul was closing his letter to the church in Thessalonica with the encouragement to “Rejoice always.” (NKJV)  Another translation says to “Always be joyful!”  I think that is how I would describe my relationship to my wife over the last 42 years since we “officially” started dating on September 15, 1970.

Through thick and thin we have always made the point to rejoice and as verse 18 of I Thessalonians five says “Whatever happens, give thanks, because it is God’s will in Christ Jesus that you do this.”  (God’s Word)  Let me clarify this for a moment though, we rejoice and give thanks because of our solid trust in the Lord’s promises to bring us through no matter how difficult or impossible the situations we face may be.  While He is not the initiator of difficult occurrences, He is definitely the One to give us the final victory – every time! (See: 2 Corinthians 2:14)

So what will it be for you this weekend?  Will it be a time to rejoice, be glad and give thanks?  Or will it be a time to feel depressed, worried or defeated?  For me and hopefully for you as well, there is but only one way to react… Strictly in accordance with the time tested, solid and unfailing truth of the Word of God – and that would be to “REJOICE ALWAYS!” 

So, have a joyful weekend, stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself... “What JOYFUL REACTIONS am I expecting today?”

Thursday, June 28, 2012

It Is Possible!


“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God,
 that He may exalt you in due time,

 casting all your care upon Him,
 for He cares for you.”   (I Peter 5:6-7 NKJV)


Do you really think that Peter meant what he said when he encouraged his readers to “cast ALL your care(s) upon Him”?  Was he of sober mind and spirit, or was he experiencing a moment of spiritual ecstasy as he penned this letter without realizing that it could never stand up against the actual realities and rigors of the natural life?  Vincent’s Word Studies explains the actual Greek as “The whole of your care” and clarifies it even further by explaining, “Not every anxiety as it arises, for none will arise if this transference has been effectually made.”

That look into the actual Greek inference seems to indicate that Peter meant exactly what he said!  It is possible!  A quick search for other references in both the Old and New testaments will find Peter’s declaration to be backed up by David, Paul, the writer of Hebrews and Jesus Himself.  Therefore it stands on pretty solid ground that it is possible to cast or turn ALL of your cares over to God.

The Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary gives us a little hint concerning the casting of all our cares or anxieties on God by saying “The advantage flowing from humbling ourselves under the mighty hand of God is (the) confident reliance on His goodness.  Exemption from care goes along with humble submission to God.”

So the big key to successfully accomplish what Peter is saying is by humbling ourselves, and actively dismiss what our mind or the world or others who may be close to us are shouting out to us, and throwing all our confidence, trust and expectations into God’s loving arms!  Humm… sounds simple right?  Well, not really. This adventure in faith is probably is one of the hardest endeavors that you may ever attempt in this life, but the rewards are worth all the effort!

I have my times when to trust in the Lord for some difficult things in my life is easy, but then there are the times when I really have to fight the good fight of faith.  Many parts of the battle for my wife’s health have been tough for me to relinquish the concern to Him, but the further we go, the easier it gets.  The nights in sleepless anxiety or the threats of the thought of a future without her are very far and in-between now.  It’s interesting that the further she has progressed in the natural symptoms of AD, the easier it has been to trust in the Lord and the truth of His Word! 

The hardest part has been responding to the reactions of others.  Dealing with those who have helped us in the medical profession has been relatively easy because I expect a certain response and am ready for it.  I have received countless encouraging comments from the various Doctors, nurses, technicians, Nurse Practitioners and others that we have worked with on the quality of care that I give to my wife and the positive atmosphere that I have established around her and the situation that we are facing. 

The harder times have been in facing family members, fellow Christians and some friends who surprise me when they react with a sense of despair or hopelessness.  It gets even worse when they confuse my confidence in the Lord with what they think is a lack of concern for the reality of my wife’s situation and then respond in anger and criticism.

“Casting ALL your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”  So the placing of ALL your anxiety and or care upon Him includes not only the situation you are facing, but also for the care of those who don’t agree with you.  For me, that has been the hard part, but not impossible!  God is a big God and He is able to carry the whole of our care, so that we don’t have to carry any of it, anymore… no matter what anyone else says or thinks!  Now don’t get me wrong.  That statement does not give you the freedom from being responsible, it just relieves you from the pressure and pain of carrying the care.  It means that you do your part in the natural and let God do the rest… knowing that He will be faithful to you as He is faithful to His Word.

Peter therefore makes it very clear that our heavenly Father not only cares and takes an intimate interest in you, but that He also desires for you to cast or turn every big as well as every little anxiety or care upon Him… once and for all!  So don’t hold back.  Don’t hold on to them anymore.  Stop right now, turn your eyes upward and say “Jesus unto you I cast the whole of my cares, every single one of them now and all of the ones to come.”  If necessary take a moment and write down on a piece of paper every care that you can think of.  Then crinkle up the paper into a ball, repeat the above profession of your faith and throw the paper away from you.  Then burn it, and or toss it in the garbage and NEVER pick it or any new care up again!

Ah…. Feels good doesn’t it!  Have a great new free day today!  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Respect


My wife and I had a wonderful afternoon and evening yesterday as we spent the day visiting our older son, his lovely wife, our energetic two grand daughters and their newest addition, a feisty little kitty named Sheldon!  I'm not too sure how many piggy back rides I gave, nor of the times jogging around the house with one of the girls riding on my foot and the other clutching my neck!  And the most surprising thing of all… I could walk without any soreness this morning!

We even got to visit with some old friends who used to attend our church that we hadn’t seen for about three years.  It was exciting to see the big smile of recognition that came across my wife’s face as they came in the front door!  Then to top off the evening, we had the pleasure of listening to the radio as the San Francisco Giants beat the Los Angeles Dodgers on the leisurely drive home.  All in all it was a very refreshing and relaxing day for us.  I’m sure that you would agree with me in that it sure is special to spend time with others who care for you.

This morning I read in my Bible about another individual who cares about us.  I Peter 5:7 states that “God cares for you, so turn all your worries over to him.”  (Contemporary English Version)  The King James Version encourages us to cast “all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”  The Lord had shown me quite awhile back that this particular verse possesses a two fold meaning. Firstly, that our heavenly Father cares for us, and secondly, that He takes our cares for us.  Today we’ll take a quick peek at His care for us, and tomorrow we’ll look at the secondary meaning of the verse.

Vincent’s Word Studies says that “He careth” implies “the watchful care of interest and affection.”  In plain simple wording, God is interested in us with a fatherly affection.  Our youngest daughter JoAnna, who lives in Oklahoma, had her wisdom teeth removed this last Friday.  Needless to say, as her Dad, I was very interested in how the whole process went from surgery through recovery.  I began texting her husband Jeremiah within an hour of the scheduled Doctor’s appointment.  Jeremiah was great in that he understood my concern and delightfully and dutifully sent me text, picture and video messages from the recovery room that day and then throughout the weekend.  It was almost as if I was there with them, and the continual updates kept any and all concern in check!

My concern and interest in my daughter’s situation is similar to that which God has toward us.  He is very interested in each of us, and He likes to have continual updates to assure that we are doing okay!  Another one of my commentaries expressed that the statement “he careth for you.” Literally means that He is “respecting you.”  That puts an additional twist into the meaning for me.  The other day I received a note from someone close to me who stated that he “really respected me” and thanked me for being who I am.  I have to tell you that his words were a total blessing to me!  That sincere comment from his heart just made my whole weekend!  But then I realized the twist… That respect also means that I have a responsibility to him to keep that respect, and to honor the mutual respect that I have toward him.

Since our scripture says that God respects us, we should also honor him by respecting who He is and the unlimited love and power that He has toward us as well as for us.  Think about that for a moment.  The very God of this universe respects YOU!  I mean Wow!  If that doesn’t make you want to please Him and to do what is right in His eyes, then I don’t know what will!  I guess you could say that we honor His respect for us by respecting Him and His word!

It was like the action of our youngest grand daughter Lily yesterday.  She was sitting on my lap when my wife went walking off down the hallway in their new apartment.  I looked at Lily and said “Oh, we better go help Mema!”  Lily just calmly turned back to me and said “I’ll help her Grandpa,” and with that she jumped off my lap and ambled after Piper.  A few moments later she came back into the living room hand in hand with my wife, gently and respectfully leading her and saying “This way Mema!”

That’s just like the respect that God has for us as He gently and with concern for our health and safety leads us through our daily lives.  And I for one will honor Him by listening to and following through on whatever He requires of me, just like Piper did with Lily yesterday.  Remember, “God cares for you, so turn all your worries over to him.”  It’s really not that difficult to do when you consider how much He loves, cares and respects you.  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Fervor and Practicality


I awoke early this morning with the words “Fervor and Practicality” on my mind.  These were the two words that the Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary used to describe the characteristics of Peter’s first epistle.  They went on to say that those characteristics matched Peter’s “energetic and warm hearted” personality.  Those comments struck a dissident chord in my thoughts as I read that yesterday for a couple of reasons.  First of all, I never considered Peter in those terms.  I had always pictured him as a big, burly fisherman who tended to act first and ask questions later!  As I thought about it though, I realized that my characterization of him came from his actions before he was born again and filled with the Spirit.  When you take a look at him from the book of Acts on, a different individual seems to emerge!

The second reason for my being taken back at the commentaries description is that I never fully realized the depth of Peter’s love and concern for the people under his care.  The book of I Peter is very similar to James’ epistle in it’s appreciation for the practical needs and care of the early church.  After reading over the overall book comments for this letter, I began to read its message under a new light.

In his first letter Peter gets into some deep theological tenants of our faith.  For example he discusses the importance of the blood of Christ in our salvation (I Peter 1:18-19), the truth of healing as part of the atonement of Christ (I Peter 2:24) and Christ’s position as head of the body over all powers and authorities (I Peter 3:22).  What was interesting to me though was the way that he intertwined all these deeply important spiritual truths into practical applications for the reader’s daily lives.  He took all of these tenants and with his personal unabashed fervor, put them into the context of practicality.

So, I came away from my continued study today, in the light of what I have just presented, with two outstanding thoughts.  One being how God’s influence can change anybody’s personality.  Using Peter as an example will put to flight any notions of “well, that’s just who I am,” or “I’m too old to change”, or “I can’t help myself, it’s just my Irish (or any other heritage) temper.” Peter’s change was really quite dramatic, and if need be, so can yours be!

The other thought was how we Christians can become so focused on how mature we are becoming in our understanding of the Word, that we forget the practical applications to those around us!  I can think of an individual that had a powerful impact on my wife in her early high school years.  This lady may not have been one who possessed a deep level of theological understanding but she knew and practiced the love of God.  I truly believe that this sweet women’s influence on Piper was a major part of the crafting of my wife’s loving, caring, non-judgmental and always giving attitude that she has displayed since I’ve known her.

“Fervor and Practicality.”  I am beginning to think that these might be two of the more important parts of the gospel message that we as members of the body of Christ need to concentrate on.  Growing in personal understanding and in depth of the truth of God’s word is highly important, but unless it is filtered and taught through the realities and practicality of its application toward others in our daily lives, I feel that we might be seen as “a loud gong, or a clashing cymbal” (I Corinthians 13:1 God’s Word ©) to unbelievers desperately needing the new life that Christ made available for them.

How practical and with what amount of fervor will you express the gospel message to those around you today?  Have a good day.  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”


Monday, June 25, 2012

The Real Meal Deal!


“Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver and gold… but by the precious blood of Christ.”  (I Peter 1:18-19 NKJV)

Back in 1980 when I had begun my eventual twenty year employment with Hewlett Packard and their spin off Agilent Technologies, I was hired into the prototype Printed Circuit Board Shop in the Santa Rosa Division. It was my photography background that actually landed the job for me.  I worked part time in the darkroom producing the negatives for the various designs and the other half using the negatives as the pattern to silk screen the designs onto the boards themselves.  Our shop was connected to the R&D lab of the Test and Measurement side of Hewlett Packard (the other part of the business being the computer company) and we built test and early production boards for a group of engineers and designers.  The finished products from our shop went directly to the production lines where they were loaded with the various electronic components and then installed into the instruments for either further tests or first run production.

I can remember a time when there were some failures in the field that were traced back to our shop.  At the time Hewlett Packard was a major supplier of signal frequency test instruments that where used by the military, electronics companies and the up and coming cell phone industry.  When some of our 45 thousand dollar instruments failed, believe me, it was considered a BIG deal!  There was a lot of attention given to the problem, but the solution was hard in coming.  Finally we brought in a new young engineer who looked at all the evidence that had been compiled and discovered the source of the problem.  It seemed that there were tiny particulates growing under the plated circuits that only occurred in the damper climates of the world. 

At this point I don’t remember if the problem was fixed by the changing of a contaminated rinse during the plated process, or if they were inhibited with the addition of a cleansing rinse after the final gold plate.  Either way, with the clean rinse, the problem was resolved and we were able to replace the contaminated boards and assure that it would not happen again in our new products coming out of production.

That memory was stirred up in me today as I read from I Peter 1:18-19 where it states that we have been born again by the precious blood of Jesus that He shed for us.  In verse 23 Peter says that it is incorruptible.  The word incorruptible means that it cannot decay, corrode or be changed from a sound state.  In the printed circuit board process they use a thin layer of gold as the final coating on the circuits that are placed on the boards.  This metal is used because it does not corrode or decay very easily and gives the best assurance that the frequency flowing across it will be true and unbroken.  But, as you saw from my example, if it is not cleansed properly, the signal can be corrupted.

Our salvation is more assured than that of any process known to man!  It is an incorruptible seed that will stand any pressure or condition that is set against it!  If we stand firm in our conviction and faith in it, we will always receive a true and constant signal from our heavenly Father!  And while it cost Him a price infinity higher than the mere 45K that some of HP’s instruments cost at the time, this salvation cost us nothing except the yielding of our lives to Him!  Wow!  What a deal!  Kinda like that KFC ad where they talked about “A real meal deal!”  God’s salvation by the precious blood of Jesus is the ticket to a luscious meal that is ours for eternity!

With that in mind… Why not go out today and invite somebody over for dinner?  It could be just the luscious meal they need to turn their contaminated lives around!  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?"

Friday, June 22, 2012

The New Bike


As I came into my study this morning I remembered the words and emotions of praise that just seemed to flow from my heart and through my fingers as I typed yesterday’s blog entry.  That joy still seemed to be simmering in me as I turned the pages in my Bible past the book of James and began reading in I Peter 1.  I quickly noticed that Peter was describing a similar kind of joyful praise as he observed the actions of the people to whom he was writing.  He said, “Although you have never seen Christ, you love him.  You don’t see him now, but you believe in him.  You are extremely happy with joy and praise that can hardly be expressed in words…”  (I Peter 1:8 – God’s Word ©)  The New King James Version puts it as “with joy inexpressible and full of glory!”

John Gill in his commentary states that this meant “with a joy in believing on Him, which is better experienced than expressed.”  It would seem that Peter saw the people’s joy more in their actions than in their exclamations.  Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing negative about proclaiming words of joy and praise unto God as we talked about yesterday.  Sometimes it is just impossible to hold back the words that explode from the inside of you.  But I think that Peter was alluding to the thought that our praise should be more of a lifestyle than an occasional outburst of words.

How then do we live this lifestyle of joy and praise?  It’s rather simple actually…  by the smile on our face, our words of love and encouragement, by the presence of peace when things get heated around us, and by the giving of ourselves to others in times of need.  The other day I was walking out to the garages to get something out of the car.  As I came around the corner from the homes and stepped onto the blacktop, I came across a couple of small children playing in the open area.  Both of the kids sort of froze when they saw me and looked away.  One of the little boys looked to be riding a brand new bike, so as I passed by him I smiled, went down on one knee so as to be at his level and asked if he had a new bike.  At first he seemed to be taken back in that I had stopped to talk to him, but in an instant he relaxed, broke into a big smile and said “It sure is!”  I then told him how “cool” I thought the bike was, said “See ya later” stood up and went merrily on my way.

I think that the young man was visiting some friends because I have never seen him since, but the kids who live there, now tend to always smile and say “Hi” when my wife and I go by.  My small effort to befriend the children broke the ice, dispelled some fear and I am sure shared some joy and praise with those kids.  You know, now that I think about it, even their Mom seems to be friendlier to us as well! 

It is a easy as that!  That whole incident probably took an extra 30 seconds out of my “busy” life, but it sure made a timely difference in someone else’s – and in mine as well!  So what do you say?  I encourage you to make a difference in someone else’s life this weekend by smiling, by taking an interest in them, and by sharing the joy and peace of the Lord that is welling up on the inside of you!  I Peter 1:4 says that as Christians “we have been born into a new life which has an inheritance.”  (God’s Word ©)  Take the time to share that inheritance with another and “make known among the nations what he has done.”  (Psalm 105:1 – God’s Word ©)  Have a great weekend.  Stay in tune to His Word and keep joyfully asking yourself… “What GOOD THINGS am I expecting TO DO today?”

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Just Let Go!


“Hallelujah!

 Give thanks to the LORD because he is good,
    because his mercy endures forever.

 Who can speak about all the mighty things the LORD has done?
 Who can announce all the things for which he is worthy of praise?”
                                                                         (Psalm 106:1-2 God’s Word ©)

Wow!  What a glorious morning!  I awoke this morning with the cool air from the high fog overcast flowing in from our wide open bedroom window.  The heat from the previous day had completely dissipated and the house had a fresh, crisp atmosphere about it.  Oh, I just love this weather!  It caused me to hop out of bed with a shout of praise (okay… a whisper of praise as my wife was still deep in the land of slumber…), a skip to my step, and an attitude of thankfulness and worship to our heavenly Creator!

 “My heart is confident, O God.
 I want to sing and make music even with my soul.

 Wake up, harp and lyre!
 I want to wake up at dawn.

 I want to give thanks to you among the people, O LORD.
 I want to make music to praise you among the nations

 Because your mercy is higher than the heavens
 Your truth reaches the skies.

 May you be honored above the heavens, O God.
 Let your glory extend over the whole earth.”
                                                         (Psalms 108: 1-5 God’s Word ©)

Just kinda makes you want to join in with me and SHOUT about the goodness of the Lord doesn’t it?

Shout happily to the LORD, all the earth.
 Serve the LORD cheerfully.
 Come into his presence with a joyful song.

 Realize that the LORD alone is God.
 He made us, and we are his.
 We are his people, and the sheep in his care.”
                                                          (Psalm 100:1-3 God’s Word ©)

Well… I can tell that this is just going to be a great big day of praise today!  So go ahead… throw caution to the wind, release any cares and concerns to Him and let His praises flow from your lips and be demonstrated through your actions of love today!  Come on… just do it… just rejoice and be happy and let His praises change the way you think, feel and operate today!

“Hallelujah!

 Praise God in his holy place.
 Praise him in his mighty heavens.

 Praise him for his mighty acts.
 Praise him for his immense greatness.

 Praise him with sounds from horns.
 Praise him with harps and lyres.

 Praise him with tambourines and dancing.
 Praise him with stringed instruments and flutes.
 Praise him with loud cymbals.
 Praise him with crashing cymbals.

 Let everything that breathes praise the LORD!

 Hallelujah!”
                                       (Psalm 150 God’s Word ©)


You can’t help but have a GREAT DAY now!  So, stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today!”


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Clay


Hallelujah!  Today is the first official day of summer, my favorite season of the year.  I think that it is the fresh crisp mornings, the warm days and cool nights (at least that’s the usual weather pattern where we live as we normally receive the fog coming in from the coast a few miles to our west), the bright green lawns and shrubbery, all the gorgeous flowers and the delicious fresh vegetables picked right off the vine, that gets my vote for this time of year. 

In fact, my plan for today is to spend some time cleaning up the final few piles of cuttings left from my pre-summer clean up a week or so ago, sweeping the patio area, cleaning off the patio chairs and rearranging some of the potted plants in preparation for the wonderful times of solitude while my wife and I sit in the late afternoons, sip from cold glasses of Ice Tea or soda (or pop to those outside of California!) and enjoy the view.

Shortly after resigning from my position at the church a couple of weeks ago, the Lord made it very clear to me that I was to STOP and take some much needed time of R&R.  He likened it to the need to stop and get off the train before it sped out of control and derailed.  (Have you ever seen the movie “Unstoppable?” All the potential hazards that they faced came to mind as He spoke to my heart!)  He said that it was important to step out and back from everything that I had been doing and take whatever time necessary to reevaluate, refocus, and regain the proper perspective.  It was in this way that He told me that I would find the next step that He had planned for my wife and I to pursue.  And although it has been hard to do, I must admit that I have never had so much peace in a leading from the Lord, as I do now!

Now as I have been earnestly seeking Him through the Word and with much prayer, it feels as though I am back in Bible College.  Only this time without all the distractions of working forty hours a week at one job, mowing lawns on my days off, volunteering at the church, taking my wife back and forth to all the doctors’ appointments and helping my son and daughter adjust to our move and discover the Lord’s plans for their lives!

Each day I have been taking copious notes in two different binders as the Lord has been pouring out His revelations, instructions and encouragements to me.  Day by day the excitement and expectation has been growing within me.  This morning I was awakened by our dog’s uncharacteristic movements at the foot of our bed.  She was stirring around and then sat up and stared at me.  It was peculiar in that her ears were not peeked upright as if she had heard something, but she just sat there and looked at me as if she had something to tell me.  I reached out and petted her and she relaxed and laid back down, only to get up a few moments later and jump off the bed to lay in the doorway of our bedroom.

At that point I figured that I didn’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out that the Lord was calling me to get up.  (Didn’t He use a donkey to get Balaam’s attention?)  So I arose from the bed, made some fresh coffee and began to pray in my heavenly language.  In I Corinthians 14:2 the Apostle Paul said that “he who prays in a tongue does not speak to men but to God” (NKJV) and I figured that since I didn’t know what this was all about that it was best to pray directly to Him in a language that He alone understands.  Later on in that same chapter it says that “He who speaks in a tongue edifies (builds, restores, and repairs) himself” (I Corinthians 14:4 NKJV), so I figured that was just the process that I needed anyway as I waited to hear the Lord’s plans for us.

When I entered my study I was impressed to get on my knees as I prayed.  I definitely felt like there was a need for prayer and as I prayed I mentally reviewed all the different situations happening in and around my wife and I to see if I got a tingle of recognition.  The only thing that kept coming up was that we were near the place of receiving God’s divine directions for our lives.  As I prayed the words from Matthew 6:10 from the Lord’s Prayer kept coming to mind saying “Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done as it is in heaven.”  (KJV)  Then suddenly I found myself singing the words of the old hymn:

“Have thine own way, Lord!  Have thine own way!
 Thou art the Potter, I am the clay.
 Mold me and make me after they will,
 while I am waiting, yielded and still.

 Have thine own way, Lord!  Have thine own way!
 Search me and try me, Savior today!
 Wash me just now, Lord, wash me just now,
 as in they presence humbly I bow.

 Have thine own way, Lord! Have thine own way!
 Wounded and weary, help me I pray!
 Power, all power, surely is thine!
 Touch me and heal me, Savior divine!

 Have thine own way, Lord!  Have thine own way!
 Hold o’er my being absolute sway.
 Fill with they Spirit till all shall see
 Christ only, always, living in me!  *

As I repeatedly sang the words, I began to realize that everything that I had been praying for was included in the lines of that song.  All the things that I have desired, all the hurts that I have endured, and most importantly of all, all the answers that I could record.  Let the words of this timeless tune be the call of your heart today as you seek to follow His way.  “Have thine own way, Lord!  Have thine own way!  You are the potter and I am the clay.”  Open up your heart to Him and allow Him to mold you and make you, and to hold over your being absolute sway.  “Power, all power, surely is thine,” let him fill you with His Spirit so that the world will see Christ only and always living in you. 

Have a great day.  Keep in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”



Have Thine Own Way, Lord.  Words written by Adelaide A. Pollard, 1862-1934.  
   Music by George C. Stebbins, 1846-1945.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Royal Law


I spent a few moments this morning puttering around the various plants on and around our patio.  One thing that I learned early on from my green thumb folks was the importance of staying on top of the removing of dead flowers and growth from the garden plants and vegetables.  This little trick helps not only in keeping the plants looking good, but it causes them to bloom more and stay resistant to diseases.  Being out in the cool California morning air just seems to revive my soul!  Everything looks and feels brighter, crisper and fresher.  Although He did it in the evening, it reminds me of what it must have been like when God walked through the Garden of Eden in the cool of the day with Adam.  To me it is the right thing to do each day, and besides that, it feels good to do it!  And speaking of the right thing…

One of the decisions that I have become painfully aware of throughout the journey that my wife and I have been on over the last few years, and then again with the recent emphasis that my parent’s welfare has been receiving, is the thought of doing the right thing.  The verse that has continually come to my mind concerning this is one that I happened to be studying earlier today.  James 2:8 repeats the answer that Jesus gave some religious leaders when questioned about the most important commandments to follow.  It says “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you do well.” (NKJV)  This verse talks about what I have heard called “The Royal Law of Love.”

For me it has meant the deliberation over the question of what course of action is best for my wife verses what others may suggest is a more financially sound move.  From quitting my outside employment so that I could be the one by her side in this time of need, to living in a safe, quiet and wonderfully peaceful location instead of a noisy apartment on the rougher side of town in order to save a few bucks, the course of her medical care, sending her off to senior day care facilities that would not encourage our faith based healing beliefs, to the work I should pursue after (foolishly – or so I’ve been told…) leaving the security of my job, all of these and many other decisions have had to be answered according to the bottom line of what I would consider being the right thing to do.

It has been very interesting to me in that this question will quickly help one to determine where people’s faith stand.  Sadly I have come to discover that many seem to have their security more in their bank account than in the gospel.  That may sound like a hard determination on my account, but I can’t see any other way to put it.  Maybe I am just too simple minded, but my experiential knowledge of the love of God tells me to follow what my heart (which is inclined to and sensitive to God’s direction) is telling me is best for my wife and then trust God for the rest.  And you know what?  As I look back over the last three years I can see that this has proven to be the soundest course of action.  It definitely has not been the easiest, but it has been the best one for both my wife and I.  Taking care of my wife 24/7 and working two jobs on the side has been a little rough on me, but I would do it over again in a minute, no questions asked!

God’s Royal Law of Love states that we are to love others as we love ourselves.  In order to love yourself, you have to know how much our heavenly Father loves you.  I know that for me, without that strong foundation it would easy for me to yield to the fear that seems to come at you from every direction when faced with what the world considers as a hopeless situation.  It has come to the point where God’s promise that He will never neglect nor abandon me is permanently inscribed on my heart and in my brain!  (See Joshua 1:5)  Some people have backed away from us when we needed them most, but God never will and never has.  He has been there for me during the darkest hours and through the little (almost unrecognizable) miracles that we rejoice over on a daily basis.

It is also that intimate, ever-growing knowledge of His love for me that has helped me to continue smiling at and loving those who have disagreed and made some, shall we say, discouraging remarks about us to others.  Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible says that the word “Royal” in James 2:8 “is used to signify anything that is of general concern, is suitable to all and necessary for all.”  That would infer that God’s Royal Law of Love is the way that everyone should be living!  Not only is it is suitable for all, but it is something that is necessary for everyone in order to live successfully as His representatives on the earth.

I guess it comes down to something I jotted down in my notes today.  It would seem that the way that we treat people, the way that we act around people, the things that we say to people, the decisions we make for people’s welfare as well as how we think about others is all based on how much we love ourselves.  And that love is based on our knowledge of how much God loves us.

What do you think about that?  Jesus seemed to make it clear when he said it.  Now comes the hard part where each of us needs to look inside and answer the questions for ourselves.  Do I know that God love me… really loves me?  Do I trust in His love enough to be able to trust Him for others around me?  Do I really trust Him enough to take care of my health, my finances, my loved ones and my entire life?

Maybe this will help…  Psalms 5:12 in the Good News Bible says that “You bless those who obey you, LORD; your love protects them like a shield.”  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Monday, June 18, 2012

First Aid


As I delved deeper into the book of James this weekend, I continued to be amazed at his loving but yet stern pastoral approach in the advice he was writing to the church.  The book of James has had its share of dissenters over the years, including Martin Luther.  Luther in his church shaking rediscovery of salvation by grace tended to misinterpret James’ teachings.  He even questioned if the book of James should be in the Bible at all!  One of the commentaries that I recently referred to seemed to best sum up the different perspectives of Paul and James when it came to the subject of works.

The Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary determined that “Paul regards faith in the justification of the sinner before God, (whereas) James, in the justification of the believer evidently before men.”  In other words Pastor James was teaching the church about the physical aspects and application of their faith in their daily lives.

In James 2:12 he instructs us to “Talk and act as people who are going to be judged by the laws that bring freedom.”  (God’s Word ©)  Then the next verse does an excellent summation by stating that “kind mercy wins over harsh judgment every time.”  (James 2:13 The Message Bible)  In line with this, the Lord challenged me with the question of “What is more important?  The depth of the Gospel you preach or attain to, or the depth of the Gospel that you live?

The way in which we respond to others with our words can mean the difference between putting someone in condemnation to sin (or to a wrong we may think they have done) or in setting them free to seek the Lord’s loving answers for their lives.  James is encouraging us to watch over our words and the way we present them to others.  Thoughts that you may deem as positive to another that are spoken with an attitude of insincerity, superiority, anger or worst of all with fear will immediately put the receiver on the defensive.  It doesn’t take them long at all then, to totally shut off the words that the speaker is trying to convey.  And once again, any trust that was between them is mortally wounded!

On the other hand, words that are spoken in such a way that pour out love, encouragement and mercy will immediately be received and openly considered by the receiver.  Trust me on this one!  My recent experiences over the last few years will heartily attest to this fact!  Because of this type of communication in the past, there are a few individuals that will instantly put me in a defensive mode when they talk to me today.  That trust has been broken and the restoration process will take some time.

How do you speak to others that you love and/or to those that you may feel led to minister to?  It could be a spouse, a parent, a child, a good friend, a work partner or someone off the street.  Our words can be as a soothing ointment or as vinegar poured on an open wound.  (Yikes!  The thought of past experiences of vinegar seeping onto the cracked skin around my fingertips just made me wince in pain!) My desire, as I am sure is yours, is to be part of the answer that sooths the hurt that people go through everyday, instead of one who just adds to the pain of the problem!

So, as you go out this week endeavor to talk and act as people whose words and deeds bring freedom to those with whom you find yourself interacting with.  Think of yourself as a cold compress on a bruised forehead. (I had that experience with my wife this weekend as she took a tumble in the garden and bumped her head.  She was pretty shook up, but calmed down rather quickly as I sat her on a chair in the shade and applied a nice cold compress on her head.  Thank the Lord that the swelling and redness was completely gone by the next morning!)

Have a great week.  Choose to make a positive difference in someone’s life this week.  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What (or whom) am I expecting (to bless) today?”

Friday, June 15, 2012

Silence Is Golden


Yesterday afternoon my wife and I went over to my folk’s new residence and spent some time visiting with them.  My brother was also there and together we all had a good time.  I brought a gift of two large artichokes from their garden for them to enjoy.  We had picked them when we where at their house watering the yard on the previous day.  I had cooked them and gave them to my Mom with a small container of mayonnaise so that they could still enjoy the fruits of their home harvest.

As we said our goodbyes and proceeded to walk down the long well lit and furnished hallway on our way to the lobby, we passed by a lady who works at the facility.  Now, there are certain people that my wife just seems to be drawn to, and as we came around a bend and approached this lady I just knew immediately that my wife was going to stop and engage her.  Sure enough, Piper made a beeline for her said “hello” and reached out to touch her.  The women responded in kind and put her arm around my wife.  Then it happened…

The lady smiled very sweetly, took a glance my way and then looked at Piper and asked if she was coming to live there.  (I recently learned that they also have a building on their campus for dementia patients.)  Well, while I realize that it was just an innocent question,  the gal might just as well hit me across the face with the large notebook that she was carrying in her hand!  The shock and the reality of that statement after what we had been through over the last week or so felt like getting hit with a brick!  I quickly recovered though, laughed and gently stated “No!” and that we were there to visit my folks.  The lady then blushed, looked at me with her eyes a little wide and said “Oh!”  I then joked that Piper was with me, said goodbye to the worker and headed for the sign out sheet in the lobby.

Later that evening when I was in the kitchen preparing dinner for us, I suddenly heard a scream.  I literally dropped whatever was in my hand and ran into the bedroom where I had last seen my wife.  She was sitting happily on the bed and laughed as she must have seen the expression of terror on my face.  I then became aware that the scream that I had heard was from a group of children who been playing outside our house!  With that I slumped to my knees before my wife and laughingly exclaimed, “I thought you were in trouble!”  Then all the pent up emotions inside me burst forth and I had all I could do to hold then in some semblance of check!  After a few minutes I was able to get back up and went to pick up the mess that I had made on the kitchen floor.

This morning as I was reading through the first chapter of the book of James, I came to verse 19 and read: “Remember this, my dear brothers and sisters: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and should not get angry easily.”  (God’s Word ©)  That statement immediately brought back to my mind the incident at the Assisted Living Facility from the previous day, along with every other indiscriminate comment that people had made to me over the last 3-5 years!  It would seem to me that most of us tend to do just the opposite of what James was teaching the early Christians in Jerusalem.  In fact I was recently asking the Lord why some people just don’t seem to hear what I am trying to tell them.  From what I have experienced, people tend to be quick to speak, slow to listen and get angry quickly when you don’t agree with what they are saying to you!

And to make matters worse, many of the most insensitive comments that have been made to me have come after I’ve shared some very disheartening news that I had received from our doctors.  It’s almost like the devastation that I was feeling was never even considered when the comment was quickly made back to me.  I am not sure whether it is right or wrong, but there are now certain pieces of information that I will not share with some people no matter how close they are to us on our family tree!

The traumatic experience that we have been living has definitely opened my eyes up to the many careless words that I have uttered in the past.  I have always tried to be sensitive to those that I am speaking with, but there have still been times when I wished I could take back some things that I have said.

There is a song that was written many years ago entitled “Silence is Golden,” and while the actual words of the song don’t really relate to my thoughts here, the title seems to say it all.  James encourages us to “be quick to listen (and) slow to speak.”  I think that it would do each of us much good if we followed his advice.  When you are speaking with another individual (anywhere – in the street, at the store, in church, at work or at a family gathering…) take a few precious moments to listen to your inner voice and then to the one who is actually talking with you before you open your mouth to share your wisdom.  The hurt and emotions that the individual may be holding deep inside are not always visible on the outside.  

That quiet time listening might just be the most well spent moments of your day!  And then again, if you don’t have anything good or encouraging to say, you might just try smiling and keeping your thoughts to yourself.  At times like this, I think that the title to that song is probably the best advice anyone could give...  Silence Is Golden!”

Have a wonderful and potentially quiet weekend.  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Who Will You Listen To?


I was reading to my wife at breakfast today from a book by Dr. Lillian B. Yeomans entitled “Healing From Heaven.”  The book which is a reprint of various lectures on divine healing was originally published in 1926.  Dr. Yeomans was the daughter of Canadian physician who had moved his family to the United States so that he could serve as a doctor for the Northern Army during the Civil War.  Following the death of her father she decided to continue in his footsteps and attended the University of Michigan in order to become a physician.  Her mother joined her there and together they completed their studies, passed their examinations and became doctors practicing in Canada.

Dr. Yeomans’ documented testimony tells how she eventually became hopelessly addicted to Morphine after taking the drug to relieve the stress and seemingly never ending pressures of the job.  After unsuccessfully trying all the known cures of the day, while sitting at death’s door, she finally turned to the Lord and was miraculously freed from any desires to take the drug.  After this she gave up her practice and spent the next forty years of her life preaching the Word and telling people of  God’s healing powers.  Dr. Yeomans passed on to her just reward at the age of 85, on December 9, 1942.

In the book Dr. Yeomans goes through the Old Testament showing the reader how God clearly unfolded His plan for divine healing for mankind from Genesis to Malachi.  As we were looking at one of the stories of the Children of Israel being led in the wilderness by Moses, I suddenly thought about my study earlier in the day when the Lord was telling Moses’ replacement Joshua about His plan for Joshua’s new job.  Very early in His description He told Joshua to “be strong and very courageous.” (Joshua 1:7 Gods Word ©)  I picture the Lord and Joshua discussing the new job description while sitting under the shade of a Yucca Brevifolia (commonly known as a Joshua Tree), when the Lord paused for a moment in order to gain Joshua’s full attention, looked him straight in the eyes and slowly, for effect said, “The key though my boy, is that you have to be strong and very courageous!”

The thought that took away my concentration as I was reading was the question of the real reason for that word of warning.  As I paused and considered it, a couple of things came to mind.  One was the immensity of the task set before Joshua and how he would have to totally depend on the Lord for it’s success and secondly, in preparation for all of the suggestions, criticism,  and murmurings that he would receive during the course of the campaign. 

Joshua 7:2-26 tells of a time when Joshua gave in to the pressure and yielded to the council of others.  It was a disaster in the making and ended up with the loss of 36 soldiers.  The very next chapter tells of the successful results of an attack on the same city when the Lord’s plans were followed.  This lesson brought to mind the added pressures that my wife and I have had to handle because of those who felt it necessary to give us (unnecessary, unknowing and erroneous) advice in the various stages of the journey that we have been on during the last few years.

The courage that the Lord was espousing Joshua to walk in was important as it would give him the strength that he needed to be able to trust the Lord and then pursue the unusual directions that he would receive, to be confident that he was hearing the Lord correctly, and then to weather the storms that arose from those who openly questioned and talked behind his back because of their mistrust in his ability to hear God!  (or was it because they couldn't trust God enough to help Joshua?)

The point is that Joshua had the ear and the anointing of God for this particular task, and the others around him did not!  I think that this is a key for each of us as we pursue the various tasks that the Lord has called us to accomplish for Him.  Many an individual will think it to be their responsibility to set us straight, but remember, we are the ones with the ear and anointing of the Lord for this calling – not them.  Our job is to stay true to His call, to stop, look and listen to what He has to say, and then to obey His directions and not yield to the suggestions of others who come across as though they may know more than God!

That is what sets a pioneer apart from those who come afterwards and settle into the comforts and safety of a land that has already been conquered and established.  So… back again to Joshua’s final encouragement to the people, “choose today whom you will serve (or listen to…)!”  (Joshua 24:15 God’s Word ©)  I think that I’ll stick with Joshua’s experienced reply and “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”  (Joshua 24:15 NKJV)  How about you?  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Completion


Well, it’s been almost three weeks now since my folks moved to their new abode at an Assisted Living community in the Rincon Valley area of our town.  The building itself is similar to a Tuscany Villa, the grounds are beautifully kept, the staff is outgoing and friendly and from what I hear the food is great!  In many respects, it really is a community all to itself.  The amenities that they offer seem to be without end and the daily activity schedule is a page or two long.  But with all these wonderful offerings, it still is not home to my folks.

Now that the newness of the adventure has worn off, my Dad longs for the familiarity of their house, and as for my Mom, well… she was never fond of the idea anyway!  The difficulties lie though, in the medical, safety and overall daily care that they are now requiring.  Moving back into their house is not really a viable option at this time.  All three of us kids received multiple calls from Mom yesterday requesting (demanding?) us to come and pick them up and take them home.  Needless to say, this has been a difficult and emotional time for our entire family.  It just comes down to the fact that life has changed, a portion of our past has been completed and there are now new directions that must be taken.

As I was dwelling on all this over the last few days, I was painfully reminded of how my wife and I have already been dealing with these experiences for about four years now.  I think that is why I have been so empathetic with my Mom and Dad’s feelings and words.  I mentioned above that “a portion of our past has been completed…”  The Lord gave me those exact words last week when we stepped down from the Children’s Ministry position at our church.  He was clear in His use of the word “completed” instead of the term “has ended.”  To me, to say something has “ended” carries with it the connotation of finality, never to be remembered in a positive note again, it almost expresses a sense of pain and failure with it.  But to say it was “completed” just seemed more positive.  It brings the thought of a job well done, a course of action that was followed through on to the completion of the task required.  It’s kind of like the feeling of satisfaction that I always get when I walk away from a yard that I have just completed trimming, mowing and sweeping.  The job is done and it looks good!  It is something that I can be proud to walk away from.

And now with another part of life completed, it is time to reset, refocus and move on in order to complete the next adventure, or job, or phase in life!  For a Believer the most important foundation for the next step is found in the Lord’s words to our old friend Joshua in Joshua 1:5.  He said, “No one will be able to oppose you successfully as long as you live.  I will be with you (as I have been with you in the past).  I will never neglect you or abandon you.”  (God’s Word © - personalized)

You might as well plan that there will be those people and obstacles that will oppose you in your next phase of life, but the Lord says that they will not be able to successfully accomplish the deed!  He then gave the clincher saying:  I will NEVER neglect you or abandon you!”  People may not give you much support or even abandon you in your deepest times of need, but you can rest assured that the Lord Himself will ALWAYS be at your side, through thick and thin, through the tough times as well as through the periods of easy living.  And I can vouch for this statement of truth through the experiences that we have been through since returning from Bible School in Oklahoma!

I was able to gently share a few of these thoughts to my Mom this morning as we talked about their house and it seemed to bring a peace to her.  Now it is time to know that the mission of the first 86+ years of their life has been completed and it is time to move on and (as my cousin alluded to) enjoy the spoils and rewards of a job well done!

That’s also the same confidence that you can have as you move onto new frontiers with and for the Lord.  You can go forward with the understanding that your past assignments have been completed and the next one is awaiting you.  Having access to His relentless and limitless resources along with the knowledge that He will NEVER neglect nor abandon you should be the extra boost to send you merrily on your way.  Get ready (as my youngest daughter told me), for the best is yet to come!   I hope that your day is going great, that you are staying in tune to His Word and that you are continually asking yourself… “What Good Things am I expecting today?”

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Borders


Yesterday afternoon my wife and I packed up the camera and the binoculars and headed out to the coast.  If you’ve been following the blog you would know that the last few weeks have been incredibly rough on us, and even though my wife has been recuperating, the aftereffects have been slow in dissipating!  So it didn’t take much convincing when the thought about a leisurely ride up the coast popped into my mind.  Once we got out there we drove into the parking lot of our favorite beach, stopped in the farthest spot available, rolled down the windows, leaned back and just soaked in the beautiful breaking waves and the intense blue waters of the Pacific Ocean that melted into the far horizon.

Over the years this spot and the beaches that surround it have been a refuge of peace and restoration for me and my wife.  I cannot tell of all the times that we spent out there walking the beaches hand in hand, photographing the waves, the rocks and the various seascapes, tossing a football, or just sitting on the sand wondering about all the exotic places and adventures that flourished just beyond the spot where the water and the horizon became one.

Yesterday’s dreams of the never ending horizon beyond what my eyes could see as we gazed at the vast waters before us, got me to thinking about the various borders that the Lord described to His new leader Joshua.  Once again in Joshua 1:4 the Lord said ““Your borders will be the desert on the south, nearby Lebanon to the Euphrates River (the country of the Hittites) on the north, and the Mediterranean Sea on the west.” (God’s Word ©)  As I meditated on this verse a little longer, I began to understand some things.  I could see first of all, that the Lord seemed to be telling us that the desert places would always be one of the borders in our lives.  The ability to experience this harsh place is real, but the decision to stay and or to move far away from it is up to each one of us.

The other two locales that are described are areas where water and temperate climates abound.  They are places where it is somewhat easy and comfortable to be.  This is where it is not too hard for one to carve out a stable, reliable and maybe even a passive life.  But it could also be the place where settling for less than what God has planned for us is easy to attain.  I have come to realize during my many years working in the business world (as well as in the church world…) that this is apparently the place were most people have set down their roots.

Earlier today when I was brushing our dog in the patio outside of our kitchen, I overheard our neighbor and a friend talking about their grandchildren.  (This tends to be one of the downsides of living in a neighborhood of cluster homes.  Since everyone is connected by their backyards, it is easy to know everybody’s business!)  At one point our neighbor stated that she would be taking care of her Grandson throughout the summer.  In response, her friend began to recant about how her Granddaughter has always been in daycare and that this trend would continue this summer even though it sounded like a change of locations was being considered.

As I stood there brushing the pooch my thoughts drifted off on to how hard that it has to be to send your small child off to daycare since you have to work.  When I came into the house, I told my wife of the conversation that I had overheard and commented on how that just didn’t seem to be right.  As I said those words I immediately went back in time to a conversation that my wife and I had had with her folks many years previous.  We were going through some financial difficulties and her parents had stopped by to share their conviction that it was time for Piper to stop home schooling the kids and get a job. 

If you think back to the borders that the Lord had described to Joshua, I would say that we were not living in the desert places or in the cushy lands near the sea or the riverbank but on wilds of the eastern frontier.  Based on my wife’s vision and calling, we had chosen a path where we put all of our confidence in the Lord so that she could stay at home and give the family her all while I worked to bring in the needed income to support this goal.  That dream never wavered for us, even in times of potential financial crises.  We stood our ground back then as my wife lovingly shared her unmovable stand to see this through, and within a six month period we had traversed the tough times and were totally out of debt!

As I look back in time, I can see countless friends, family members and acquaintances that have settled in the comfortable places that border the sea and the riverbank.  At first glance all looks well, but when one takes the time to dig a little deeper you can see an underlying displeasure at the way they feel that their lives have gone.  I think that it is just way too easy to get caught up in what the world around us defines as the things that should be important to us. The Lord definitely defined a plan and a way of life for Joshua and the children of Israel that was totally different than what was common place in that day and time.

I tend to think that the same could be said for His plan for the majority of us today!  I guess it goes back to Joshua’s last departing challenge to the people he was leaving behind when he said: “choose today whom you will serve…”  (Joshua 24:15 God’s Word ©)  No matter what most would say, I don’t believe for one moment that it is never too late to make a directional change in life!  In Matthew 6:33 Jesus encouraged us to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things (our natural needs) shall be added to you.”  (NKJV)  And He didn’t set a time limit on that promise either.

So… In what part of the borders of life are you living in?  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Monday, June 11, 2012

Frontier Lands


Many years ago when our children were still quite young, my wife embarked upon a mission to read the entire Little House series of children’s books to our kids.  It was always interesting to me that while my wife has always possessed a love for books and reading, that you would very seldom find her sitting down reading on her own.  But she loved to read to her Homeschool students.  And she instilled this love into our kids at an early age.  She never forced them to read, but introduced each of them, at their own pace, to the many varied adventures, as well as the wisdom and knowledge found between the covers of a book.  All four of our children are now avid readers and most of them love to write as well.

I remember when I would join in on the family reading times and find myself caught up in the exciting tales that Laura Ingalls Wilder told as she reminisced about her family’s treks through the new mid-west territories and the establishing of new homesteads.  Pa’s thirst for the wide open places, with the accompanying challenges of taking the land always peeked my attention and captivated my thoughts.  It’s almost as if I was the one sitting on the bench of that covered wagon urging the yoked oxen through the ragging streams, over the narrow mountains trails and through the prairies ablaze with wheat that grew as tall as a man could stand.

I got the feeling, as I read from the first chapter of the book of Joshua this morning, that Joshua might just have been bursting with those same thoughts and emotions as the Lord outlined His plan for the taking of the land that He promised to give the people of Israel.  It is pretty clear to me that Joshua had to have possessed a pioneering spirit.  I can’t seem to find many (if any) times when he questioned or balked at the Lord’s plans for the taking of each city.  Yes, sometimes he moved out on his own and ran into to trouble, but he always seemed to relish the challenges that were ahead of him.

In Joshua 1:4 the Lord outlines the borders of the new lands for Joshua to dream about.  He said, “Your borders will be the desert on the south, nearby Lebanon to the Euphrates River (the country of the Hittites) on the north, and the Mediterranean Sea on the west.” (God’s Word ©)  One thing that caught my fancy was that, depending on the translation you read, the borders to the east are non-existent or a little bit hazy in their definition.  To me it was like the Lord was challenging Joshua (as well as us today) to keep adventuring on into new, and unchartered lands, taking them for the Lord. 

Have you ever felt that uncanny desire to go and do something different.  To boldly venture into a new place where you have never been before.  To experience the challenge of moving out of your comfort zone in order to embrace new lands, new people and simply experience more of what the Lord has planned for you?  To be honest, I think all of us possess an adventurous spirit deep inside.  After all, we were created in the image and likeness of God and He definitely has a spirit of adventure about Him.  Remember, He created you and me, didn’t He?  And He created all the beauty and far reaches of the world for us to enjoy didn’t He?

The Lord’s first words to Joshua were that “NOW (is the time that) you must cross (your) Jordan River into the land that I am going to give you.” (Joshua 1:2 God’s Word © personalized)  It is a move that you must take in order to walk in the fullness of His divine plan for your life…  and your obedience will most likely be a source of great blessings to others along the way, as you cross the frontiers of your life.  Have a great and adventurous day.  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”


Friday, June 8, 2012

Lining Up Your Ducks In A Row


I have been wonderfully amazed and excited at the notes of encouragement and support that have been sent to us in response to yesterday’s post.  I have to admit that I was a little hesitant to even write about our big decision, for I was concerned what some would think or say.  You would think that after all that we have been through over the last few years that I would be hardened to other’s potentially negative reactions.  But that sensitivity still tends to reside in the back of my mind!

Well, that concern was put to rest this morning though, as I read the words of my Biblical hero Joshua from the last chapter of his book.  After instructing and encouraging the children of Israel to stay true to the Lord God Jehovah, he said:  “… choose today whom you will serve.  (But) Even if you choose the gods your ancestors served on the other side of the Euphrates or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you live, my family and I will serve the Lord.”  (Joshua 24:15 God’s Word ©)  Basically he was telling them that no matter what others believed, said, thought or did, that they still needed to obey and follow their God and His call on their lives.  God has called us to walk a particular (maybe different or even weird to others) path and we must obey!

The Lord explained to me a few days ago that my wife and I have a pioneering spirit.  Through the years we’ve been the one’s to gather the faithful few and start new churches. We were a part of the original few families in our county who chose to follow their hearts and put aside the concerns and (sometimes wrath) of friends, family members and government officials and Homeschool our kids back in the mid 1980’s.  (I think I’ve mentioned before that the local newspaper even interviewed my wife as part of an investigative report on Homeschooling and put her picture and one of our kids on the front page!) The list goes on and on.  Most of the adventures we participated in were great, a few maybe not so great.  But we have always tried to listen to the Lord, obey what we felt were His directions and then step out in faith, expecting His best for us. After all, isn’t that the classic definition of faith as found in Hebrews 11:1?

You see a pioneer may not always know what is over the next ridge or mountain, or around the bend in the river, but they are confident that they can meet and beat any challenge.  I think pioneers are born with the words of Paul from Philippians 4:13 permanently inscribed in their minds where he said: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  (NKJV)

And I also believe that faith says that we don’t always need to have all our ducks lined up in a row before we set out to do what the Lord is calling us to do.  Now don’t get me wrong here.  I have always been a planner.  Over the years my wife and I have planned and directed countless drama productions, large scale dinners (beginning with a Teachers’ Appreciation Dinner that we directed when we were seniors in high school… the Barbequed chicken was a little burned on the outside and pink on the inside, but everything else went rather smooth!), Vacation Bible Schools, Youth Retreats, Family Fun Nights, Carnivals and so on, (and we were always the one’s to host the family dinners during the various holiday celebrations) and I have always had the knack to organize and plan it down to the finest detail in order to assure that every need and or potential problem was pre-handled and thought out.

But then there are times when God only gives you a little information at a time and you have to step out in faith and follow each tiny thread.  I think that this is where the pioneering spirit really comes into focus, as it becomes very exciting to see the Lord move before you and then you can hardly wait to see what He is going to do next!  It’s that excitement and expectancy that spurs you on to and through the next step.

Is there something that the Lord has been encouraging you to step out and do? Maybe this is your time to take the step of faith.  Maybe today is as the time when God told Joshua in chapter one, verse two of his namesake book in the Bible, Now you… must cross (your) Jordan River into the land I am going to give (you)!” (God’s Word © personalized)  Maybe it is just more important to stop trying to get all your ducks lined up in a row and focus your attention and faith on Jesus “on whom our faith depends from beginning to end.”  (Hebrews 12:2 Good News Bible) His overall view of the horizon ahead is far greater and more encompassing than you and I could ever attempt to plan for.  So take on the attitude of the early pioneers of our country, look away toward the distant mountain peaks, set your faith and “Go west young man (or woman)!”

Have a great weekend.  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What Great New Things am I expecting today?”