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Fall is in the air!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What Are You Expecting?


Well happy Tuesday to everyone!  We just returned from a few days up on the northern California coast and everything is well.  As most of you know, we had the immense pleasure of visiting with our kids from Oklahoma over the last two weeks.  We first spent time at our place with our second son Jeremy and then enjoyed a couple of days with our youngest daughter JoAnna and her husband Jeremiah.  Following this we drove up the curvy coast to the Sea Ranch development where my older son and his family along with Piper’s relatives had rented a house for the week.

My wife and I actually only stayed a couple of days and booked a room at the newly renovated Sea Ranch Lodge.  Although we had stayed at the Lodge on many occasions over the years (including the first couple of nights of our honeymoon!), this was the first time we had been there in over ten years.  I fought with the idea of getting the room for a few weeks.  The original plan was to drive up for a day visit and then return home in the early evening hours.  A heart to heart discussion with my sons convinced me though, that the overnight stay would be worth all the effort… and they were right! 

Many things concerned me about the stay at the Lodge.  Being as routine is so important with the health issue that my wife is dealing with, I was a little anxious as to how my wife would do in a new place, how she would eat, if she would sleep okay, how would she respond to all the different people we would see, how we would take care of all her personal needs, and on and on.  I think I ended up packing just about everything except the kitchen sink!

It may sound kind of insignificant, but I think the toughest issue for me was on the emotional side.  You see, the coast was always the place where my wife and I went for our quiet, romantic getaways in the past.  This time would be different.  The hardest part in dealing with my wife’s health difficulties for me has been the loss of intimacy that was always a strong and vital part of our relationship.  I’m not necessarily talking about the physical intimacy, but more importantly, the intimacy of our communication together.  We have always been extremely close.  Since we had met we could always talk for hours on end, and we have always been able to be totally honest and upfront with each other.  Sometimes we didn’t even have to say a word to be able to share our thoughts and or needs with each other.  She has always been there for me, and I believe, me for her.  I cannot think of a day that has gone by where we did not express our love for one another. All those two or three day mini vacations together on the coast through the years, were like icing on the cake of our life together.

Well, I have to admit, that although it was different in many ways, our time alone at the Lodge this weekend was wonderful.  I think that Piper actually remembered being there before.  When we walked in to register she brightened up like a light!  Although she was pretty quiet the whole weekend, she smiled a lot and looked very contented.  She was even able to walk out on the bluffs that look over the beautiful Pacific Ocean just a few yards from our room.  We took some of the same pictures that we captured 37 years ago this month, and I shared many memories of our honeymoon stay with her throughout our current visit.  As we walked into the Lodge restaurant for breakfast, I whispered to her how I vividly recalled walking into that same room the first night of our arrival for our honeymoon dinner. 

My wife was wearing a short dress outfit that night and a beautiful large hat.  I felt like every eye in the crowded room turned toward her as we walked through to our table next to the window.  I think that I knew what it must feel like to be in heaven that night!  This Saturday morning also turned out to be pretty special.  While every eye in the place may not have turned to us, I was just as proud to be walking in with my beautiful wife.  She actually enjoyed a nice breakfast and we had a good time watching the waves, the birds and all the other scenes unique to the coastal community.

We also had a memorable time with the rest of her family when we gathered at their place together, but I’ll share a little bit on that aspect of our stay tomorrow.  The interesting thing was the peace and calm that both of us felt when we left and returned home.  Yesterday was a very relaxing day.  After saying good bye to JoAnna and Jeremiah who left for the airport in the wee hours of the morning, I returned to bed and slept in to almost 9:30!  Now, you have to understand how unusual that is for me.  I haven’t slept in that late, that peaceably for literally years!  Then later in the day my wife and I took a two hour nap!

The best part of the day and the event that totally highlighted our entire mini-vacation for me happened when my wife and I went to bed last night.  My wife had walked into the bedroom before me and sat down on the bed.  When I came in she looked up at me and said “You know what?”  Now once again, you have to understand the significance of this event.  My wife hasn’t spoken a complete sentence in months!  So I quickly stopped what I was doing and sat down on my knees in front of her and said “What?”  She then looked me right in the eyes and said “I love you!”

Wow!  In that instant I turned into jelly!  That little bit of communication totally revitalized my expectations of God’s faithfulness to us who commit ourselves to and believe in Him and His word.  How about you today?  How strong are your expectations toward Him.  Remember Hebrews 11:1 says that “Faith assures us of things we expect…” (God’s Word ©)  Maybe today is a good time for you to get your expectations revitalized in Him.  Take the test.  Go ahead and ask yourself: “What am I expecting today?”  And then closely examine your answers.  Be blessed and have a great day!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Well Watered Garden


This morning as I was speaking out God’s Word to my wife concerning His will for her healing, I came to a scripture declaration that is taken from John 6:33 and 35.  It says, “I am the bread of life.  I give you that life.”  Once spoken, I then began to reiterate to my wife Jesus’ definition of the word “life” which comes from the Greek word “Zoe” meaning “the absolute fullness of life, and/or a life that is vibrant and animate.”  (Thayer’s Greek Definitions)

As I was speaking, I glanced out our large patio window to our flourishing potted garden on the back deck and I began to laugh with understanding.  I pointed toward the luscious large rich green plants and exclaimed to Piper, “See, that is how God sees you, as a beautiful, strong healthy garden!”  (It’s interesting to note that as I am writing this I am reminded of one of Piper’s favorite scriptures that she used to quote a lot.  I believe it’s found in Isaiah 58:11 where it says that “Thou shalt be like a watered garden…)  Piper’s eye’s followed the direction of my outstretched arm and she smiled and nodded in agreement with my statement.  This pleasurable moment reminded me of a conversation that I had with our younger son a few days previous to today.

Jeremy and I were talking about enjoying a good cut of steak and he mentioned a restaurant that he had gone to in the Tulsa, Oklahoma area that specializes in delicious steak dinners.  In the course of the conversation I confided in him that we hadn’t been to a restaurant to eat in quite a while.  When he asked why I mentioned that I felt that it was awkward to have to feed his Mom by hand when out in public.  Then he probed a little deeper and asked if it was awkward for me or for her?  I immediately retorted that it was hard for her…  Then I paused as a pang of conviction came upon me and I had to admit that the truth was that it was probably more on my behalf.

As we honestly discussed this, I came to the realization that it is the look on other people’s faces as they look upon my wife that really bothers me – or to continue being honestHURTS me the most, especially when it is family or friends.  When I look at my wife I see a well “watered garden.”  I see a life that is “vibrant and animate.”  I see her always encouraging disposition, her smiling bright eyes and I hear her captivating laughter.  I guess I see her as I have come to know her over the last 41 plus years of our relationship together.  I even mentioned to our older daughter a few weeks ago that I am always surprised and have to check my camera to make sure that it is set right when I take a picture of her, because I just don’t see her as a current photo captures her image.

Then again, maybe it’s not just because I am seeing her as I’ve come to know her, but that I am seeing her as God, through His Word, sees her.  It would seem that the more we read and proclaim His Word each day, the more cemented is my view of her.  After all, John 6:63 records Jesus as saying “The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are (Zoe) life.” (NKJV) 

Let me ask you today… Just how do you see those around you?  Do you simply look on the outside or do you look at them through what the Word of God says about them?  If you look at them as Jesus does, then His law of love is much easier to live in your daily life.  As we look upon others through His eyes, then we are more apt to give of ourselves unconditionally without fear, but with His love.  It reminds me of the little girl who lives in the apartment complex where our older son and his family live.  When we were there a few weeks ago this little girl just seemed drawn to my wife while the other kids and their parents smiled hesitantly and kept their distance.  As we walked through the grounds she repeated came up to Piper and spoke gently to her.  It was one of the sweetest demonstrations of love that I have witnessed toward my wife in a long time, and believe me when I say that it literally brought tears to my eyes.

How will you respond to that one who may “look” a little bit different?  To that one who “looks” distressed or in need of a friend, or even may be reaching out to you?  Next time, I encourage you to think about that healthy, vibrant, well watered garden and reach out to them with the eyes and vision of Jesus. 

Have a good day, and we’ll see you again on Monday.  In the meantime, stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What GOOD THINGS am I expecting TO DO today?”




Monday, July 23, 2012

The Fruits Of Our Labors


Well, as promised, I am back for a couple of days before we take the end of the week off for a little R&R!  Last week we got to enjoy a couple “Fruits Of Our Labors!”  The first was our youngest son Jeremy, and the other was a tomato and two zucchini’s.  Now you might just be thinking, “What do those two unassociated items have in common?”  Well… plenty!

In May of this year I got the idea to plant a couple of zucchini plants in pots on our patio.  After a few weeks it was quite evident that I was going to have to transplant them into larger pots if I wanted them to grow and flourish.  A little while after this, both plants started to flower and little zucchini’s began to appear.  The problem though, was that they seemed to grow about two inches and then turn yellow and fall off.  A friend suggested that maybe they weren’t getting enough water, which I quickly rejected because I was already watering them every other day.  After a few more days of this, I humbled myself, took her suggestion (thanks Nanette!) and began watering daily, whether I thought they needed it or not and presto… this week I picked two large squash and the plants are loaded with many more healthy, green, getting-larger-by-the-day zucchinis!

I have to admit though, as I enjoyed a fork full of the delicious, sautéed vegetables last night, that there were plenty of thoughts of failure throughout their growing times.  But we didn’t give up, instead we increased the watering schedule, fertilized them regularly, trimmed off any dead growth, turned the soil and added amendments as necessary.  And now we are enjoying the fruit of our consistent labors.

The same thing could be said for our son Jeremy.  Sure he went through some difficult times in his adolescent years and especially so in his late teens and early twenties.  But, we never gave up on him.  We continued to love and nurture him.  Sometimes it was with very relaxed input (which I received some family flack for), but we always loved him and accepted him and his friends.  We never closed our door to the various groups of young men and women who came over to the house to see him, always sought to stay accessible to him and always attempted to demonstrate respect of him and his decisions.  And of course, all of that was saturated with countless times of prayer in the middle of the night for him.

Now we see a young man that is ablaze with a passion for the things of God.  He and I spent endless hours sharing visions, talking about the Word, talking about the call of God on his life, his future plans and even about his lovely girlfriend (not to embarrass you Aubrey!). He even made it a point to minister to me and my wife after all that we have been through over the last year.  He not only is a fine, outstanding, confident, God respecting man, but most importantly, he is my son! 

Before Jeremy left for a week vacation on the upper Sonoma County coast with extended family yesterday, he shared Proverbs 17:6 with me saying, “Grandchildren are the crown of their grandparents, and parents are the crown of their children.”  (God’s Word ©)  As I read that in my Bible through emotional eyes this morning, I glanced up at a comment from Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on my e-Sword Bible Study Program that said, “It is an honor to children to have wise and godly parents continue to them, even after they are grown up and settled in the world.”

That got me to thinking that it is never too late for parents to make a positive and lasting impact on the lives of their children.  I’m sure that we have all made mistakes in the raising of our kids, I know that I did!  But the Lord has repeatedly told me that I always have today and from now on to do things right for them.  The same goes for every parent that reads this blog post.  It may be time to let go of the past and to start afresh today!  It is never to late to enjoy the “Fruits Of Our Labors!”  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What Good Things are you expecting TO DO for your kids today!


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

To "BE"


I have always possessed the uncanny ability to awake in the morning without the aid of an annoying alarm clock.  I can probably count on one hand the times I have actually set an alarm, only to wake up and shut it off about fifteen minutes before the set time.  This morning I turned my head over on my pillow and looked at my bedside clock and noticed that it read 8:15.  I was pleasantly surprised as I haven’t been able to sleep that late into the morning for probably a year and a half!

I arose from the bed with a smile on my face and joyful scriptures running through my mind.  As I went into the kitchen to brew some sizzling hot java, I stopped at the large sliding glass door off our dining area, drew open the blinds and looked out on the glorious… cold, wet with dew from the thick fog, grey morning. Even the normally fluorescent yellow flowers on the two zucchini plants seem to dull in the face of the dreary looking day.

Instantly I was faced with a decision.  To let the joy that I had been feeling escape in the overwhelming evidence that met my eyes, or to continue to rejoice and let the inner bright and shining Son-light fill and warm my day.  What would you do?  I chose to stay with the inner input that had been reviving my spirit as well as my emotions and let the joy of the Lord be the foundation for what I was believing to be a great and glorious day!

Philippians 4:4 in the God’s Word translation reads, “Always be joyful in the Lord!  I’ll say it again: Be Joyful!”  I think that the little verb “Be” is the central element in Paul’s command to the Philippian Church, as well as to us today.  According to the American Heritage College Dictionary, to “Be” means, “To exist in actuality; to have life or reality; to occupy a specified position or to remain in a certain state or situation undisturbed, untouched or unmolested.”

So according to Paul, who was shipwrecked, whipped, stoned and left for dead on numerous occasions, we should live in an undisturbed, untouched or unmolested state of JOY no matter what is happening to us or around us!  Joy is to “Be” the specified position that we occupy in our daily lives!

When I returned to California following our three year stay in Oklahoma, I was able to transfer with The Home Depot as a supervisor within the newly formed Merchandising Execution Team.  Our group traveled between stores setting up displays, merchandising the isles, training store employees on new products and worked closely with the individual store management teams to assure that their stores looked sharp and shoppable.

For the first six months I worked in the southern part of our local district covering the stores around the city of San Francisco.  Like myself, many of the team members lived in Santa Rosa and had to travel anywhere from forty-five minutes to an hour and a half to get to work.  And since we started at 5:00 AM, it meant that we had to get up way before the rooster crowed!  Our daily routine started with a team meeting to update the crew on new events, as well as the day’s schedule.  I can clearly remember the sleepy and/or blank looks on the faces of the crew as they dragged themselves into the conference room each morning.

As I grew more comfortable with the crew and the other supervisors, I developed a routine, working off the other supervisors, to kick start the morning where I would get the team laughing and “rejoicing” before we got to the serious part of the meeting.  This always seemed to help the morale and it definitely changed the appearance of the team members as they filed out of the room to their perspective work areas.  I always strived to “Be” joyful no matter what the pressure was around us.  That was a great team of workers that I really enjoyed being a part of.

What kind of atmosphere do you present and/or carry around with you each day?  Do you let the Joy of the Lord “Be” who you are?  Do you stay in that condition no matter what the actuality of life around you is presenting?  Is “Being Joyful” the position that you occupy 24/7?  Is that even possible?  Well, the Apostle Paul seemed to think so!  And if anyone had opportunity to not “Be Joyful” it certainly was him!

So I encourage you today to let the foundation of your trust and faith in the Lord and His Word “Be” the unmovable ground on which you support your unmolested joy.  As the opening statement in William Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet” asks:  “To be or not to be, that is the question,” I ask of you.  What is your choice?  Where or who will you determine to “Be” today as well as everyday?  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting to ‘Be’ today?”


PS:  I'll be taking a few days off at the end of this week and next as my kids are flying in from Oklahoma.  Please feel free to take this opportunity to go back and read some of our past 400 posts!  - God Bless -  Pastor Jim

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Dare...



“We can dare to do anything if we know we have the Word of God behind us… Praise the Lord for the fact that He Himself backs up His own Word and proves the truth of it in these days of unbelief…” *

It seems that I just can’t get away from the reality of the truth and power that is inherent to the Word of God.  Everywhere that I have studied in the Bible for the last two weeks has continuously pointed back to and confirmed this fact!  My wife and I are reading two different books (one in the morning and one in the evening) by two different authors, written ten years apart and from opposite ends of the globe, and they keep issuing this same directive as well!  You think God is trying to tell us something?

This morning I read from I Peter 1:3 where it talks about that the new life that we have been born into that has an expectation which is alive because of what Jesus accomplished for us.  Ephesians 1:18 talks about that same expectation when Paul prayed for the church saying that “You will know the confidence (or better translated: ‘expectation’) that He calls you to have…” (God’s Word ©)

What is that expectation?  It is found in Jeremiah 1:12 when the Lord told the prophet that “I am watching over my word to perform it.”  (Jeremiah 1:12  English Standard Version), or in the explanation of the members of the early church’s actions where it states that the Lord was “working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen”  (Mark 16:20 NKJV)  I love that last word “Amen” which is defined as “so be it!”  Nothing else needs to be said after that!  That’s just the way God designed it to work!

Does the truth and solid standing of God’s Word make the calls in your life?  If what you see or hear is contrary to what God’s Word says, which do you believe?  Joshua told the children of Israel “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15 NKJV)  If you look at John 1:1 then you could justify saying “as for me and my house, we will serve the Word.

So just how daring do you feel today?  If you have the Word covering your back, then you can dare to do just about anything!  And I can’t think of anyone else in whom I would rather entrust my life… can you? Go ahead!  Let go and let God!  Have a great day.  Stay in tune and in trust to His Word and keep asking your self… “What am I expecting today?”


* From “Faith That Prevails” by Smith Wigglesworth, p23 © 1938, 1966 by Gospel
  Publishing House, Springfield, Missouri 65802-1894

Friday, July 13, 2012

Attitude!


“This is the day which the Lord has made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it.”
                              Psalm 118:24 (NKJV)

Yesterday I awoke to another beautiful sunny northern California morning.  The last few days had gotten increasingly hotter, but yesterday had promised to have a break in the little heat wave.  After I poured myself a steaming cup of freshly brewed Dunkin’ Donuts original blend medium roast coffee, I strolled into the study with a song in my heart, sat at my desk and began to read my Bible.  After a few moments I decided that I wanted to open up the blinds and the window to let in the morning sunlight, the glorious cool breeze and just enjoy the quietness of the early day.

I had no sooner sat back down in my chair and propped my feet up on my desk when the sound of a gas hedge trimmer being fired up filled the still in the room!  But you know what?  This was the day that the Lord had made and I had already decided to rejoice and be glad and I wasn’t about to let the noise of the lawn crew doing their job ruin my day.  So with a laugh and a big smile, I got up and closed the window and went back to enjoy the study that I had embarked upon.

Sometimes I think that it is necessary to add the word “to” between the words “we” and “rejoice” in the above quoted scripture.  That just seems to make it more of a personal declaration and determination to do it and “be glad,” no matter what comes your way each day!  I guess that you could say that it is all in the attitude that you decide to have that day.

I can remember a time when I was in Junior High School when I caught some kind of virus right before the annual Christmas Vacation.  (That’s when it was still called that!)  I spent the whole week before the 2 week vacation feeling just terrible!  It didn’t seem to be any one thing in particular, but I just felt achy, listless and plain yucky all over.  My Mom had recently taken a part time position as a secretary at a local real estate office.  She was able to work it out where she would leave after we went to school and be home by the time we returned, so her time away from the home normally went undetected by us kids, unless we had to stay home from school.  Needless to say, by the end of that dreadful week I had developed a giant case of self pity.  Finally about mid-way through that Friday morning, I decided that I had had enough of it and that I was going to take the attitude that I was feeling fine!

So I dragged myself out of bed, got dressed and since it was only a week before Christmas, I thought that it might be good if I “really” decorated the house for the coming celebration!  I went into the garage and dug out the boxes of decorations that hadn’t been put out.  I blew up some plastic reindeers and a Santa, hung them from the ceiling and put just about everything else in those last boxes up around the house.  By the time I was done I had forgotten about being sick, found myself quite enthusiastic about the holiday season and ended up having one of the best Christmases that I can remember!

It’s all about attitude!  I now find it best to set mine first thing in the morning and then not let anything bump me off my pre-determined course… and believe you me, many opportunities arrive each day!  The President of our Bible School told us that Psalm 118:24 is the first scripture that she “claims” each day, and I have since taken to follow her example!

So why not cast caution to the wind this weekend and do the same!  Choose to be happy and rejoice!  Choose to be the light in a dark room.  Choose to be the catalyst that turns a gloomy atmosphere into one of joy and peace.  Be the one person that others can’t wait to be with!  I always take a personal interest in those around me that might be solemn and unfriendly.  We have an older Japanese neighbor who used to scowl and look away whenever I would walk by and give him a cheery “hello!”  Well after a few years of not giving up on him, I am happy to say that he actually smiles now as we pass and even initiates the greeting at times!

So choose to rejoice and be glad!  It will make a difference not only in you, but in those that you come in contact with in your world.  Have a great weekend and let your smile shine!

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

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Laughter!


My wife and I enjoyed a funny incident together the other night that enlightened my heart and strengthened my resolve in the Lord’s total healing her.  Once again, we were seated on the couch enjoying a movie on the Hallmark Movie Channel.  In one scene of the circa 1913 movie, two of the older spinster aunts of the main character are playing musical instruments while a third aunt is dancing around the living room.  The musicians were playing the piano and a flute.  These are two of the main instruments that my wife played. 

While this was happening, I leaned over and tapped my wife on the shoulder and said that she could play those instruments.  Then I laughed as I renewed her attention and stated “In fact, you could probably play both at the same time… the flute with your hands and the piano with your feet!”  Following that statement I kept my eyes glued on her's and said: “Right?”  Well, without a second thought, a glint of mischievousness shined in those beautiful brown eyes and she laughed along with me and blurted out: “You bet!”

There is a scripture in Proverbs 15:13 where the writer wisely comments, “A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.”  (KJV)  The humorous interaction between my wife and I, and the recognition that showed in her eyes and was exhibited through her countenance proves to me that her spirit is strong and responsive and is in the process of overcoming the attack on her physical mind through the Word of God that we have been pouring into her.  I Corinthians 2:16 states that “we have the mind of Christ,” (KJV) and I see increasing glimpses of that mind on a daily basis.

It seems to be many of her passions of the past that draw the healing power of God to her.  I see it with both the Classical and Christian music that she still enjoys to listen to, through the songs she sings each day, through being around people who are open and accepting to her loving on them, and mostly through the joy of laughter that I strive to keep flowing between us and in the atmosphere about us.

Today my sweet Piper and I celebrate our 37th wedding anniversary together.  Happy anniversary Honey!  You have and continue to bring a joy and a fulfillment into my life that cannot be stated in mere words.  Ours has always been one of those matches that was truly made in heaven… and as far as I am concerned, the best is yet to come!

Have a great day everyone!  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What GOOD THINGS am I expecting today?”

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Just Another Calm Evening...


Talking about “taste and see” (Psalm 34:8), the other evening my wife and I had finished dinner and had finally settled down on the couch to watch a movie (this seems to be the one time each day that I can relax after all the activities of the day).  After a few moments I looked around to see where the dog was and I noticed that she was contentedly lying on the floor in front of the screen door leading out to our small side patio. 

Sometime later I caught a little movement out of the side of my eye and as I turned I witnessed the dog quietly, but yet intently looking outside.  Suddenly, in what seemed like the blink of the eye, she reached out with her paw, hit the screen door, slid it open and leaped outside.  Knowing that something was amiss, I quickly ended my time of relaxation and flew up and out after her only to observe that she had grabbed a fairly good size rat that had creped in under the front fence of our patio!   The little critter was screaming like a banshee and the dog was intent on finishing her task!  At one point the dog dropped the rat only to grab it with renewed fervor. 

Not knowing what the rat may be carrying or where it may have been, I did not want Mandie to be munching on it, so I reached out to take hold of her and succeeded by grabbing the last line of defense… her big black tail!  As I held on for dear life and hollered for her to release the varmint, she responded in obedience and dropped it.  The totally freaked out critter made a beeline for a small pile of branches I had temporarily placed in the patio and then scuttled under my neighbor’s fence.  I was a little shook up and didn’t know whether to reprimand the dog, who was standing there looking at me with a very happy and accomplished look on her face, or to reward her with a Milkbone dog biscuit for a job well done?  After I looked her over to make sure that she was okay, I did what I thought was best and gave her the bone!  After all, I’ve been fighting a battle over the last 2 years to rid the area of rats and I am sure that she thought that she was just doing her part!

As I thought about that whole experience from Monday night, I considered how we humans will sometimes also grab hold of things that might be wrong and/or unpleasant to the taste of our Christian beliefs.  Many times our reactions to what we did cause us to come under personal condemnation as we think about how stupid or dumb our actions might have been.  But while we might tend to berate ourselves, I think that God tends to respond like I did with Mandie. 

I Peter 1:3 encourages us to “Praise the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  God has given us a new birth because of his great mercy…” (God’s Word ©)  The key words here are “great mercy!”  In times when we may have acted too quickly without a lot of thought, His great mercy, I believe, will cause Him to look at us with loving eyes, as He checks us out to make sure that we are okay, and then reward us with His forgiveness and a gentle loving pat on the head.  And just like I now chuckle at the whole event with the dog, I believe that God does the same with us in the little similar events that we experience in our lives.

After all, “God is love.”  (I John 4:8 KJV)  How else would you expect Him to respond?  Don’t be so hard on yourselves!  Have a terrific day.  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Free Samples


A week or so ago I found myself in our local Costco Club Membership store on a busy Friday afternoon.  Mind you now, I did not really want to be there at that particular time but I had promised to get my Dad’s hearing aids cleaned and adjusted and it happened to be the only day that I could arrange with our care giver to be with my wife, as it would be difficult for Piper to traverse throughout that big store.  Friday seems to be the day that most shoppers want to be there because of all the free sample that they give out.  Sometimes I think that we live in a “try before you buy” society!  If I had been in a more jovial mood that day, I also may have found myself lining up and indulging at the tables that seemed to be set up on the corner of every aisle in the store!  As it was, I was not feeling tip-top and was a little annoyed when the 15-20 minute wait turned into over an hour and a half…

The area in which we live is known to be one of the premier producers of upscale and fine wines in the country, if not the world.  Our sister county of Napa to the east of us tends to get more attention, but from what I understand, our Sonoma County wines can stand up with the best of them!  I must clarify that due to personal conviction, I do not partake of alcoholic beverages, but having been raised in a 100% Italian family, I was brought up in an atmosphere where fine wines where part of the daily dinner fair.  Therefore I tend to know a little bit about the business.  Having a brother who works in a couple of the better known wineries in the area doesn’t hurt also!  My point here is that the tasting rooms in the many wineries located throughout our county are always filled with tourists and other wine enthusiasts who love to sample the many varieties that each of the wine growers of the region specialize in.  It would seem that our county has many different micro-climates that lend themselves to different and unique varietals of wine.

So you may be wondering with all this has to do with an encouraging word for the day!  Well, it was an explanation in one of my commentaries that sent me off in this direction!  Our scripture from yesterday stated: “Taste and see that the Lord is good.  Blessed is the person who takes refuge in him.”  (Psalm 34:8 God’s Word ©)  It would seem that Christians just like everyone else like to taste or sample the goods.  David encourages us to taste and/or sample to see how good the Word of God is, just like the crowds at Costco or the wineries in my home county like to do with the variety of products that they offer for sale.

Now you might ask yourself, “How do I sample the Word.  By reading it, by going to church and listening to it preached, or by turning on my favorite televangelist and watching him or her on T.V.?”  Well, not exactly.  That would be like listening to the individual demonstrating the new product at one of the sample tables at Costco and then walking away without tasting it for yourself!  The way that we taste or sample the word of God is to put it to use!

Charles Spurgeon in his famous treatise of the book of Psalms, “The Treasury of David” commented that: “Faith is the soul’s taste!”  He continued by saying: “They who test the Lord by their confidence always find Him good, and they become themselves blessed.”  By our actions of faith we sample the goodness of God!  Our confidence and subsequent actions of faith in His Word brings the sweetness of success into our lives, while the absence of these actions will produce a sour stomach… so to speak!

Therefore, if you long to taste the goodness of God, you must learn of His many promises of provisions for the whole man (or woman!) spirit, soul and body, and then step out in faith in order to receive His sweetness.  Sounds pretty tasty to me, in fact my spiritual stomach is starting to growl!   I think I’m gonna go open up my Bible and take some free samples… want to join me?  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What GOOD THINGS am I expecting today?”

Monday, July 9, 2012

Taste


Yesterday I had to laugh as I stood in front of the gourmet food section in our local CVS store.  I had run into the store to pick up a few necessities for my wife and remembered that I needed some parmesan cheese for the spaghetti dinner that I was planning for that night’s meal.  As I searched the shelves I came across a display of prepackaged, non- refrigerated gnocchi.  That surprised me because I had never seen it except in the refrigerator section of some of the fancier grocery stores and delis.  It made me laugh as I thought about a good friend, who is not Italian, who loves gnocchi.  I have joked with her that somewhere down the line she must have had an “ini” attached to the end of her maiden name!

For those of you not familiar with the product, gnocchi is an Italian dish that resembles a small dumpling.  They can be made from wheat flour, semolina, or as I always remember them, with potatoes combined with eggs, a little flour and some salt. Once mixed and formed into a ball the dough is shaped into a snake like shape about the size of your thumb.  Then it is cut into individual pieces around an inch long.  From here they are placed in boiling water and rise to the top as they are cooked.  Mix these with your favorite sauce (I prefer a rich red marinara or a pesto sauce) and you have a meal that absolutely captivates and spoils the taste buds!

And speaking of taste buds, I Peter 2:3 quotes from Psalm 34:8 where the Psalmist exclaimed with great satisfaction, “O taste and see that the Lord is good!”  (KJV) As I read that this morning I pictured myself sitting back at my parent’s table, rubbing my tummy and exclaiming with a satisfied look on my face, “Oh taste and see that the gnocchi is good!”

While I read the Word this morning I stopped every few moments, leaned back in my chair and exclaimed, “Oh taste and see that the Lord is good!”  Then I could hardly contain myself from running into our bedroom and sharing that wonderfully delicious taste of joy and satisfaction with my wife.

Is that the taste that you get every time you hear or read the Word of God?  Does it bring a delightful flavor of joy and satisfaction to your being?  The Greek translation of Psalm 34:8 finishes the verse with the words “Blessed is the man whose hope (better defined as expectations) are on the Him.”  According to that translation you will get what you expect when you hear or read from the Word of God. 

That little package of gnocchi at the store yesterday ignited the remembrances of the taste of the wonderful Italian gnocchi that my Mom used to make.  It also fired up an expectation for more of that fantastic meal in my future (ie; Terry you out there? – Just Kidding!!!)  My partaking of the Word this morning in I Peter and Psalm 34 also ignited remembrances of the goodness of God’s Word within my soul and the expectation of a life time of good meals from the kitchen of God’s Word!

How do you look at the Word of God?  Does it evoke the feelings of a gourmand in your life?  It should, because there is no other substance that can satisfy our beings as the life-giving, life-changing, life-sustaining Word of the living God.  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself, “What am I expecting today?”

Friday, July 6, 2012

What a Delight!


Delight (de-light)1) “a high degree of gratification; joy: extreme satisfaction”
2)    “something that gives great pleasure < her performance 
        was a delight>”


When I first awoke this morning I rolled over on my back, closed my eyes and thought expectantly about what the Lord might want to share with me during my study time.  Within a few quick moments the word “delight” popped into my mind along with the vision of looking at some of the verses that talk about that subject in the Old Testament book of Psalms.

The unknown author of Psalm 119 seemed to best summarize everything that I read during my morning study today.  In verse 16 he stated “I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.”  (KJV)  According to our Merriam Webster dictionary definition, when we delight” in the Word of God we receive great peace and satisfaction, along with a high level of joy as we partake of the wisdom that is contained within words that were penned centuries ago by devoted men and women of God under the direction of the Holy Spirit.  They are the living words of God that makes you want to shout for joy and share its revolutionary, fullness of life with everyone!

After I read the verse from Psalm 119:16 today, I glanced to the left side of my desk and observed a stack of notes that I had complied when I was researching our Independence Day celebration a couple of days ago.  At the top of the first sheet was written the words of the Pledge of Allegiance:

“I pledge allegiance to the flag
 of the United States of America,
 and to the Republic for which it stands. 
 One nation under God,
 indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

This short reading, which was written by Francis Bellamy in 1892, was first printed in a popular children’s magazine of the day as part of the National Public-School celebration of the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ arrival in the Americas.  It was formally adopted by Congress as the pledge to our American Flag in 1942 and has been modified four times since it’s composition with the most recent being the addition of “under God” in 1954.

The words “under God” were taken from President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.  It would seem that Lincoln spoke those words (along with “have a new birth of freedom”) under the inspiration given him at the moment, as they were not included in the written manuscript of the speech, but captured by all the reporter’s present that day in their transcripts of the actual speech.  I believe that Lincoln was seeking to invoke the original hope and intent of our founding fathers as he sough to bring our divided Union back together as one.

Even though Lincoln may not have been an active, church going Believer, I do sense that he was a man who understood the importance of a nation under God’s care and His love for all men.  He was an individual who knew that a nation that delights in God and the truth of His word is a nation that cannot be divided and could afford to its citizens “liberty and justice for all.”

Have a wonderful weekend, and take some time to “delight” in the Word of the Lord.  It will leave you with Great Expectations of His goodness happening for you.  Then when you ask yourself: “What am I expecting today?” – You’ll have His answer!  We’ll see you again on Monday.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Rallying Point


“Oh, say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
 What so proudly we hailed, at the twilight’s last gleaming?
 Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
 O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
 And the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
 Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
 O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
 O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”  *

Over the years as I have stood at the singing of that song, I have many times imagined myself standing along side Francis Scott Key as he stood helplessly on the deck of the British Warship, the HMS Tennant, as it fired salvos against Fort McHenry during the battle of Baltimore on the night of September 13-14, 1814.  I can but sense his despair as the clouds of smoke and char filled the bay while the British mercilessly bombarded the fort throughout the night with the ship’s 12, 24 and 36 pounder long guns.  Then as the morning light began to break through the thick haze, I notice a sudden change in his demeanor as he burst into glorious shouts, and points a shaking arm toward the fort and exclaims, “She still flying!  She’s still flying!

His unshaken trust in Old Glory is a bright and shining example of the Christian’s unfailing trust in the Word of God!  How many times have you gone through a night of tremendous battle, not being able to see for the smoke and char that the enemy of our souls has put before you in order to confuse and threaten your resolve, only to awaken at the break of dawn to observe the truth of God’s Word that you have been standing on, flying high as His standard of victory?  I Thessalonians 5:24 says: “He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.”  (NKJV)

Francis Scott Key’s poem entitled “The Defense of Fort McHenry,” which later became our National Anthem, was a rallying point for our country toward the end of the war of 1812. It  resulted with the war coming to an end with the Treaty of Ghent some three months later… although it did not reach the shores of America to be ratified and put into immediate effect until February 17th of the following year.

I would encourage you to consider all these thoughts every time you hear our National Anthem sung at sporting events, on national holidays and whenever you have the good fortune to sing along with it.  May Francis Scott Key’s enthusiasm, patriotism and hope in our flag stir up in you your undaunted enthusiasm, patriotism and hope in your unfailing trust in the unfailing truth of God’s Word – which is His love letter, that He wrote just for you!  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”


“The Defense of Fort McHenry written by Francis Scott Key, September 20, 1814.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

4th of July


Happy Fourth of July everyone!  What a glorious day to celebrate the birthday of our country!  We’ve been watching the baseball game this morning between the San Francisco Giants and the Washington Nationals.  As the TV camera panned over to some fans who held up signs saying that they had traveled from California to watch the game, I commented to my wife how special it would be to be in Washington D.C. on the fourth.  That would be a sight to see!

Yesterday afternoon I was researching famous quotes concerning the birth of our country with the thought that I could use some clever, heart stirring, patriotic Christian statements for today’s blog post.  But then I came across a couple of sentences written by the well known American humorist and columnist Erma Bombeck (1927-1996) that just seem to put it all into perspective.  She said:

“You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4th, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness.  You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.”

We are a country that was built on the respect of its people with a government that was to be by the people and for the people.  As you celebrate the freedom that was pronounced by our forefathers this day back in 1776, look ahead in prayerful expectations to our future and remember the words spoken by the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln on November 19, 1863 following the bloodiest battle of the Civil War at Gettysburg Pennsylvania:

“This nation, under God,
 shall have a new birth of Freedom -
 and that government of the people,
 by the people, for the people,
 shall not perish from the earth.”

Have a great day with family and friends.  Stay in Tune to his Word and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”






Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Black and White Photography


I awoke this morning somewhere around 5:00 AM as the skies were beginning to brighten and the dark shadows of night were giving way to discernable shapes of familiarity.  I slipped quietly out of bed and headed toward the kitchen when my attention was drawn out to the scene on the patio as observed through the partially closed blinds.  I stepped closer to the window and stood mesmerized at what I saw.  It was as though I was looking at our patio décor through the viewing screen of my DSLR that had been set on the Creative Mode and switched to the Monochromatic setting.  Everything on the deck presented itself in various tone of the grayscale as if where a black and white photograph!

I have always loved the black and white medium of photography.  From my very first photo class in high school, through the advanced photography classes in college and my days shooting pics for the local Catholic Press and beyond through today, I have tended to relish the artistic value and the statement that can only be made through this original format that has taken a back seat in the modern world of color photography.

This morning as I looked at what I would normally view as a multiplicity of colors emanating from the blooming vegetable plants, the brightly colored geraniums, the white rose buds and the deep purple blooms of the lavender tree, I saw only as a simple mixture of shades of black, gray and white. 

As I meditated on my observations this morning, I began to see a picture of what I believe the Lord was trying to convey to me.  The absence of color on the patio scene at day break was like viewing the world around me through the absence of distractions.  It was like being able to clearly see the important things in life without all the activities and responsibilities vying for my attention.  It was an explanation of my life over the last three years!

With the attack on my wife’s health, I have come to see many of the things that are truly important to me.  Instead of just flowing through the years following the leadings of the job, the extended family, the world around me and even the general direction of the church, I have begun to realize God’s plan, God’s real calling and what I believe is what He feels is important for me and my wife.  And you know, the path hasn’t been easy, but rather painful.  Was it a path that He planned?  Absolutely not, for He is not the author of trouble, lack of any kind or of sickness and disease.  Those problems were part of the old curse of the Law as found in Deuteronomy chapter 28.  Galatians 3:13 says that “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law…”  (NKJV)  Jesus told us that “I have come that they (meaning us!) may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”  (John 10:10 NKJV)  The word translated life is the Greek word “Zoe” meaning “the absolute fullness of life.”

Can the trials, tribulations and tough times in life teach a lesson?  You bet!  And that is exactly what’s been going on with me!  I’m in the process of making some changes or adjustments in how I see things today, in how I will act today and tomorrow, and in how I will respond to the callings of the Lord.  I am discovering that it is important for me to do what I have been called to do and not simply be caught up in the currents around me.  How about you?  You don’t have to wait until a problem arises to reconsider things, to switch the dial of your sight to monochrome and look at life through only a few shades of the color wheel.  As an older Ken Blount (former worship leader at the 12 thousand plus member Church on the Move in Tulsa Oklahoma) song says:

“Now is the time, this is the place.
 We are the people, to finish the race
 Is there not a cause, humanity cries
 We have the standard, we must lift it high” *

So, I encourage you to find YOUR place in carrying The Standard.  Don’t let the days pass you by.  Don’t get so caught up in the flow of others that you miss your opportunity.  Now your time… This is your place!  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”


*  Ken Blount  © 1995 Heaven’s Best Music/BMI






Monday, July 2, 2012

What a Great Weekend!


“Be thankful in all circumstances.
 This is what God wants from you
 in your life in union with Christ Jesus.”
                                 (I Thessalonians 5:18 – Good News Bible)

Well my wife and I sure had something to be thankful for over the weekend.  Our good friends Luther, his fiancée Kristina and her two fun loving children flew in from Denver, Colorado and spent the day with us.  Needless to say, we had a wonderful time.  Luther even conceited to watch the Giants baseball game with me!  When you take into consideration that he is a die-hard Colorado Rockies fan - that had to be the ultimate symbol of friendship!

Kristina’s two children William and Jane absolutely loved our pooch and played continuously with her for almost three hours.  The only time that Mandie got a little confused is when the kids broke out their new stuffed animals and didn’t want her to run off and play with them as well!

The icing on the cake came for me when they shooed me out of the kitchen and prepared a scrumptious meal of Luther’s famous home made enchiladas!  It was an incredible meal!  (and, I am not usually that fond of Mexican food!)  I had to admit to them that I could hardly remember the last time we had a home cooked meal that I hadn’t prepared!  Like I said it was great, and then got even better as they did all the dishes and even took out the garbage!  Wow… what a treat!  (What friendship!)

Luther and his first wife had worked quite closely with Piper and I for many years at the zenith of our Children’s Church days back in the 1990’s and early 2000’s.  They were terrific team players and quickly became a major force in our support team, as well as close personal friends.  It got to the point where it was like Luther knew what I needed before I even knew it!  The last all-church Halloween carnival/meal/program event that we worked on together went off like a dream!  We were a fantastic team and it was really hard to see them go when a promotion with Luther’s work sent them back to his home in Colorado.

We had the pleasure of meeting Kristina and her kids a couple of years ago when they came to California for a visit.  She is definitely a jewel and just the right person for Luther.  William and Jane are also great and like I said earlier, fun loving kids.  I don’t think that I have ever seen our dog so exhausted after they left!  After talking about how much we enjoyed the visit of our friends, my wife and I sat down on the love seat and Mandie immediately made room for herself beside Piper (half on Piper’s lap and half on the arm of the couch!) and fell fast asleep!

I Thessalonians 5:18 says to be thankful in all circumstances, and yesterday’s visit was one of those easy times to be thankful and we continued to rejoice this morning.  In fact, I had joked with Luther that I was going to have the leftover enchiladas for breakfast with eggs today, so I took a picture of the leftovers with a carton of eggs, a box of pancake mix, a bottle of syrup, a cup of coffee and a container of Piper’s Boost and text it off to him with a note of thanks!

There are other circumstances in life though, that may not always be too easy to be thankful in.  But that is where the little but all important phrase “your life in union with Christ Jesus” comes into play.  By ourselves, we could never have the strength or ability or “want-to” to be thankful when the “not so good things” happen to us.  But a life lived “in union with Christ Jesus” is a life that is fortified with His strength and His ability and most importantly, His LOVE!  And it is that LOVE that He has for us and that we have for Him that helps us to trust Him enough to bring us through the tough times.

So while Piper and I are thankful and rejoice over the good times of fellowshipping with our friends yesterday, maybe some of you need to release a “not so good event” in your lives over to Him, become thankful in that He will work to fix and heal the hurts and then turn it around for your advantage!  Remember, “in all these things we are MORE than conquerors through him who loved us”  (Romans 8:37 – KJV).  Have a terrific week   Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… What am I expecting today?”