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Fall is defintely in the air!

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Straw That Broke The Camel's Back


Last night as I lay wide awake in bed, I gazed across the room at the clock and noticed that it read 1:31 AM.  I then dropped my head back into the pillow and continued reviewing all the events of the previous day, in connection with all that has been happening to me over the last couple of weeks.  My wife had had a light seizure at about 10:00 in the morning and following the response of the fire department and the ambulance crew, we spent the next 5.5 hours at the Emergency Room as they ran countless tests, did a blood workup, took a Cat Scan, Chest X-ray, and an EKG, and had her hooked up with various wires that monitored all of her vital signs.  At one point it got a little scary as her blood pressure dropped quite low, but in the end everything stabilized and they final released her late in the afternoon.

The thought that kept popping into my mind in the early hours today was that old Arabic proverb that talks about “The straw that broke the camel’s back!”  With all the emotions and pressures of my Mom’s recent passing and tomorrow’s Memorial Service, the doctor’s appointments for Piper and I, and then the need to recertify the eligibility for all of her benefit programs, the events of yesterday seemed like they should have been the final straw.  But as I laid there in the quiet still of the early morning, I was keenly aware of a “peace that surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7 NKJV) hovering about as well as in me.  

I recalled as I sat all day at the side of my wife with my Bible Study notebook open before me in my lap, looking at something that I had written a few hours before everything began to happen yesterday.  I had jotted down a personal note that said: “It takes an overriding trust in God to totally let go of your own thoughts and desires.”  Immediately under this I had copied a quote out of a book by Smith Wigglesworth where he encouraged his readers to “Let go of your own thoughts and take the thoughts of God, the Word of God.  If you build yourself on imaginations, you will go wrong.”  (Faith That Prevails © 1938, 1966 by Gospel Publishing House, Springfield Missouri 658-1894 p.12)

Yesterday, I had a choice to make.  Every time the monitor on the wall began to beep loudly and flash its little red lights at the updated reading of my wife’s blood pressure, I had to fight off the haunting words of terror and defeat that the enemy of our souls would try to amplify in my mind.  Each time I would read aloud the words of trust in God’s Word that I had before me, and reaffirm the truth of how He saw my wife’s condition in disagreement with any negative imaginations that were attempting to plant a seed in my mind.  I was determined to not allow things to go wrong and to stay firm in the faith until the monitor, and all the reports of the multitude of tests agreed with God and His thoughts!  And the exciting thing is that after about an hour of standing and confessing the truth, the monitor finally began to raise its numbers until it finally jumped up and stabilized on a reading that was exactly my wife’s normal BP!

Was this “The straw that broke the camels back?”  No Way It was merely another bump in a life that has been committed to the control of God and His Word.  Was it as easy and simple as it may sound?  No Way!  I confess, it was rough (very rough) going at times, but in the end I forced myself to agree with His view and not on my own incorrect imaginations.  Yesterday’s events brought to my reality the words of Hebrews in chapter eleven verse three where it talks about “things which are seen (that) were not made of things which are visible.”  (NKJV) All those flashing lights, wires, monitors, doctors, nurses, technicians, and readings that were blinking in my face seemed to be broadcasting one story, while the truth of the matter was as yet unseen in God’s realm of His truth.

So as Joshua asked, I ask of you today… “Choose today whom you will serve…”  Will you choose to panic and let that one additional piece of straw break you or choose to “’Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own understanding” and thereby allow Him to “make your paths smooth?”  (Proverbs 3:5-6 God’s Word ©) I’ll give you a hint… Go with the latter.  It tends to give your camel a long and healthy life!  Have a good weekend.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Bravery


Hebrews 10:35 in the Contemporary English Version says to, “Keep on being brave!  It will bring you great rewards.  Learn to be patient, so that you will please God and be given what he has promised.”  The idea of being brave caught my attention as I read that this morning.  It just seemed to have a slightly different connotation than “do not cast away your confidence…”  (NKJV)  The thought of a mother or father telling their little child to be brave as they set off on their first day of school came to mind.  What also ran across the screen of my mental imagery was the need for an adult, such as myself, to be brave in the midst of a long and trying ordeal.

The Webster’s original 1828 dictionary defines brave as “Courageous, bold, daring, intrepid and fearless of dangers.”  That didn’t seem to fit real well with my personal situation, but a further definition said that being brave “usually unites the sense of courage with generosity and dignity of mind; qualities often united.”  That explanation hit a nerve!  One of the hardest situations that has continually raised it’s head throughout the ordeal that I have lived with through the attack on my wife’s health over the last three years, and recently exasperated with my Mom’s home going, has been the need to love and forgive the few who have been oblivious (or added) to the hurt and needs of our situation.  Just when I think that I have succeeded in a breakthrough of God’s agape love, something comes up that stirs up the memories.

Webster’s definition combining “a sense of courage with generosity and dignity of mind” seemed to greatly clarify the writer of Hebrews meaning when he or she talked about being brave.  To me it meant having the courage to move beyond the hurt and walk with an attitude of generosity and the mind of Christ (which would be love) toward everyone, especially to those who have knowingly or unknowingly accused, neglected or abandoned us.

The bottom line being that no matter what man may do toward us, God is still in control and our unyielding faith is solidly founded on Him and the truth of His Word.  That trust frees us from dwelling on and being moved by the hurt and allows us to be generous and loving in the midst of the pain.  Webster goes on to give an example of the use of the word brave as a verb with the sentence: “The rock that braves the tempest.”  That example also hit a nerve as it pointed me directly to “The Rock” that we are to stand on that gives us the courage to be brave enough to endure any tempest just as water runs off a duck’s back!

So… just how brave are you feeling today?  Do you have the confidence and courage to brave any tempest that blows your way?  What is your usual reaction to trouble.  Do you get angry or suddenly feel lovingly generous to those who might be at fault?  Remember the Rock… and the duck!  Have a great Wednesday.  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Cast Away


Have you ever read the old classic book Swiss Family Robinson or seen the Disney movie?   The movie was always a family favorite in our home when the kids were young.  The story portrays a family that sails off to a new country for a fresh beginning only to find themselves as the sole survivors on a uncharted island after being shipwrecked in a fierce storm.  The Disney movie tends to be a fairly loose interpretation of a novel written in 1812 by Swiss pastor Johann David Wyss entitled “Der Schweizerische Robinson” (literally: The Swiss Robinson).  In the Oxford Companion to Children’s Literature (Oxford 1995) it is noted “that with all the expansions and contradictions over the past two centuries (this includes a long history of abridgements, condensations, Christianizing and Disney products), Wyss’s original narrative has long since been obscured.  The closest English translation to the original is William Godwin’s 1816 translation, reprinted by Penquin Classics.”

For my purposes though, the original intent of showing how a family must depend on its own ingenuity, abilities and faith comes through sharp and clear.  I’ve always been a bit of an adventurer as well as one who likes to stray from the beaten path others have taken in life and repeatedly found this movie to an encouragement to whatever new project I was working on at the time.  2 Timothy 1:7 states that “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”   (NKJV)  The well known Pastor, Bible Teacher and writer E.W. Kenyon stated that the word “power” in this verse would better be translated as “ability.”  If that be so, then this verse would be the perfect foundation to stand and depend on if one suddenly and unexpectedly found themselves as a “Cast Away” from their normal course of life.

As I studied in the Word this morning, the Lord showed me how a “Cast Away” is one who is separated from everything he is used to.  He is separated from his network of family and friends as well as from all his resources.  This individual has nothing left but to look to himself for survival.  The Christian though, is not left completely without resources.  According to 2 Timothy 1:7 he, like the old ‘80’s and early ‘90’s television character MacGyver,  always having his roll of duct tape and his Swiss army knife in the form of God’s abilities present within him!

In any new and/or unexpected situation, the Believer has only to seek the Lord’s guidance, and answers will avail themselves to him.  A scripture such as Romans 8:6 quickly becomes perfectly clear where it is stated that “the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.”  (English Majority Text Version)  When surprises come our way that have the potential to shake us all the way down to our boots, it becomes imperative that we “focus on Jesus, the source and completer of our faith”  (Hebrews 12:2 –paraphrased)

So in one respect, you could say that we should always have the mindset of a “Cast Away” as we are always ready to look to Him for the solution to the various predicaments we face in our daily lives.  We are always ready to find His ability in us, so that we can experience His victory.  Once you find yourself living in that lifestyle, you will tend to face each day not in the fear and trembling that the mother in Disney’s Swiss Family Robinson did, but with the thought of nothing but adventure and confidence as that of young Francis.  “You don’t have to worry now, I caught my tiger!”  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What TIGERS am I expecting to CATCH today?”


Monday, August 27, 2012

Gilligan's Island


Last night as I was reading to my wife before we turned the light out, I came to a place where the author was using the scripture from Hebrews 11:11 to enhance the point that he was making.  The last line of the verse really caught my attention and I jotted down a note to myself to review it the next morning during my Bible study time.  This morning after I settled in at my desk and savored a fresh hot cup of Don Francisco Hawaiian Hazelnut medium brew coffee, I turned to Hebrews 11:11b and read, “Abraham trusted that God would keep his promise."  (God’s Word ©)

After having gone through a long and complicated week of Doctor’s appointments for me, crazy reactions to a new medication, dealing with benefit and health issues with my wife, and the upcoming memorial service for my Mom, that scripture was like a cool glass of lemonade on a hot summer afternoon.  I’m not entirely sure why, but the thought of God’s faithfulness to His promises seemed very calming and refreshing.  As I wound down my study today, I ended up at Hebrews 10:35 where the author comments “Therefore do not cast away your confidence which has a great reward.” (NKJV) 

The phrase “Cast Away” caught my attention and I immediately recalled the old United Artist Television sitcom “Gilligan’s Island!”  Okay, so I know that I am dating myself, but how many of you remember that show?  Even though the show was very popular with the 98 episodes that it originally aired from 1964 to 1967, it gained more popularity during the decades of syndication especially in the 1970’s and ‘80’s when it played during the late afternoon hours when multitudes of kids turned it on after school.

It wasn’t necessarily the quirky situations and characters that the show delighted its audiences with that caught my thoughts this morning, but the idea of being a cast away on an uncharted island in the middle of the ocean with no hope of rescue!  On the show, the only thing that people could depend on was the companionship of their fellow shipmates or the somewhat wacky ideas of the professor.

Hebrews 10:35 encourages us to not take on the mentality of a cast away, but instead to toss all of our confidence on the Lord and the truth of His Word which promises “a great reward.”  The promises of His great reward is much more comforting to me than the thought of re-floating the battered and broken “SS Minnow” or building a raft with coconut tree branches or hoping that a passing plane or ship might just happen to spot you as you stand on the beach wildly waving your arms!  NO!  His great reward is as sure as a certified bank draft that just needs to be taken down to the nearest branch and cashed!

So, don’t be like Gilligan and toss out your anchor without a rope attached to it, but tie up the ship of your life to the solid and unmovable anchor of the Word of God.  Put your trust in Him and you’ll never find yourself on a deserted and uncharted island.  Have a terrific week.  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Friday, August 24, 2012

Torment


My life over the last few years has been anything but what I used to consider as normal.  It is definitely not what or where I expected it to be.  Due to my wife’s needs our daily routine changes without notice and without a care for what is happening all around us.  At times this can be very frustrating, especially when I am trying to fit into someone else’s schedule.  When my ability to complete the responsibilities that I have agreed to accomplish is compromised, my personal integrity alarm rings loud and clear!  Then the inner torment begins to override my peace as I am torn between taking care of my wife’s immediate, previously unseen need and that of taking care of the other need that I have promised someone else that I would handle.

This morning as I was coming to the conclusion of my Bible study time, I was suddenly drawn to the Apostle John’s thoughts about love in the book of First John chapter four.  The distant chime of the words that “perfect love casts our fear” began to sound from somewhere in the back of my mind. As I turned to page 1196 in my New King James Version of the Bible, verse eighteen of chapter four literally leaped off the page and into my heart saying: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment.”

As I meditated on that verse I began to see that much of the torment that I was feeling was self imposed!  Much of the concerns that I considered were things or reactions that I thought might happen when others found out that I was unable to do what I had said that I would do.  In reality, most individuals have been very understanding of our situation.  I say “most” because I think the few that haven’t been, have really made a negative impact on my personal well-being since I tend to want to please everyone!

The lesson that I believe the Lord was trying to convey to me this morning is that I have not been allowing His love to work in the situations in my life.  Suddenly I have found  myself in a place where I cannot personally control my daily life and it has been quite difficult to give up that place of control to God!  Have you ever felt that way?  It is a tough and humbling predicament to be in.  But you know what?  God’s words to Joshua as he embarked upon a completely new and different chapter of his life, sounded off in a fresh and personal way to me this morning:  “I have commanded you, ‘Be strong and courageous!  Don’t tremble or be terrified (or be tormented), because (I) the Lord your God is with you wherever you go… I will never neglect you or abandon you.’”  (Joshua 1:9 & 5 God’s Word ©)

If you at times find yourself in similar circumstances, then I would encourage you as He did to me today, and remember His love for you!  Peel your fingers off the grip of your life and yield that which you can’t control to Him.  I have to tell you… it is quite a freeing experience!  I know that we are always instructed to love others, but there comes a time when you have to focus that love – His love - upon yourself and allow Him to take care of you!  Have a wonderful weekend.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Time To Get Up!


“Get Up!  Get Up, Deborah!
 Get Up!  Get Up and create a song!”  (Judges 5:12  God’s Word ©)

The Old Testament book of Judges chronicles the ups and downs of the Children of Israel following the conquest of the land of Canaan and the death of their leader Joshua.  In chapter four we find that the Israelites have once again done what was considered evil in the sight of the Lord and were defeated and taken captive by King Jabin who ruled at Hazor.  “King Jabin had 900 chariots made of iron and had cruelly oppressed Israel for 20 years.”  (Judges 4:3  God’s Word ©)  When the people finally cried out to the Lord for help, the Lord raised up Deborah the prophetess as their judge and leader.

Deborah called for a man named Barak to gather the tribes to fight against King Jabin’s army.  God gave the Israelites under Deborah’s and Barak’s leadership a great victory and they totally destroyed the enemy.  At the end of that day they sang the song of praise that is recorded in Judges chapter five. 

The story goes that the people of Israel arose the morning of the battle knowing that they needed Deborah and Barak to be greatly encouraged so as to rally the troops and be able to lead them to victory.  Their words were captured in verse 12 where they awoke Deborah shouting out: “Get Up! Get Up, and sing us a victory song!”  (Judges 5:12 paraphrased) 
The people understood the power behind an anointed song, and they knew that they needed all the help that they could get in order to defeat the seasoned troops of their oppressor.

How would you react if your early morning slumber was disturbed by your family, or by your co-workers, or by your neighbors as they shouted out to you to get up and create and then sing an encouraging song for them when they were feeling down?  What would your first thoughts be?  What would your lyrics be?  Would your first line be something that you would really want the people to repeat?

2 Timothy 4:2 tells us to “Preach the word!  Be ready in season and out of season.”  (NKJV)  I guess the question at this point would simply be: “Are you ready?”  I know that it may sound a little unfair, but it is the lifestyle that I believe we are called to live.  We are to be a living, breathing song that brings encouragement to the downtrodden, that brings peace to the restless, and comfort to the bereaved.  I think that I have spent as much if not more time encouraging those around me in the face of my wife’s battle and with the home going of my Mom as I have in seeking encouragement for myself!

Therefore I would encourage you today, to pull out your pitch pipe, play a note and see how in tune you are!  Have a great day.  Keep in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What SONG am I expecting to SING today?”


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Concerto of Your Life...


Today marks the 150th birthday of the famous French classical composer Claude Debussy (August 22, 1862 – March 25, 1918).  Debussy was one of the most prominent figures within the field of impressionist music.  He was made the Chevalier of the Legion of Honour in France in 1903, and was a crucial figure in the transition to the modern era in Western music.  He is one of the most famous and influential classical composers. He is also one of my wife’s favorite piano composers.  In that context he therefore has played an influential part in our lives.

When I was a student at the Santa Rosa Junior College I discovered a love for classical music when my wife and I took a couple of Music Appreciation classes.  Part of the curriculum included listening to recorded concertos in the campus library throughout the two semesters.  After that I began to bring my stereo headset with me every time I studied in the library, so that I could enjoy the classical tunes while I hit the books!  After my wife and I got married, she would occasionally give me the “gift” of music on my birthday.  She would learn a new piece, unbeknownst to me while I was at work, and then play it for me the night of my birthday celebration.  Many times the new work was a piano concerto written by Claude Debussy.

It is said that his music was known for “its sensory component and for not forming around one key or pitch.” *  He seemed to feel that music should not be kept within strict rules and regulations but be free to flow with color and rhythms.  Who knows… maybe he helped to influence the style of music that I wrote and sang with my wife for the church in the late seventies and then with the children’s songs that both my wife and I have written through the years.

With my Mom’s recent home going, I have been thinking a lot about the many people that have influenced my life.  Needless to say, Mom played a pivotal role in who am I, but there are many others who were but small notes in the writing of my personal composition.  Whether it be a composer who lived 150 year ago, the leaders of our youth group back in 1971, the many Pastors we have served under, teachers, family and/or friends, all of them have played an important note in the concerto of my life.

How about you?  Have you ever considered all of the various pieces to the complex measures within the song of your life?  When’s the last time you thanked someone for the personal mark they made on you?  Many of those people probably have no idea of how they impacted you.  I can remember a time many years ago when a former member of our first youth group introduced Piper and I to his new bride at their wedding as the couple who had the most spiritual influence on his life.  As my wife and I walked away from the Receiving Line we both looked at each other and said, “Really!”  We had no idea of the mark we made.  Certainly not with him at the time when he was in the group!

There are probably people from your past (or present) who need to know how you feel about them as well.  I encourage you to take the time today to bless one of them.  Send them a card, or shoot them an email or a text… it will most likely make their day!

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


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Things and Times


I was listening to a sermon about God’s grace this morning and I was impressed by the speaker’s simple definition of it.  He said that grace can be considered as an overpayment.  It is an overpayment of His love, His blessings and His peace.  2 Corinthians 9:8 states that “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things, at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”  (NKJV)

As I listened intently this morning, I suddenly sat upright in my chair and said “That’s it!”  It was as if the speaker walked into my study and physically took my head in his hands and turned my face in the direction of God’s grace.  I knew in an instant that it was the grace of God, his overpayment to my account, His abounding love that had been carrying me through the last few weeks.  From the time of my wife’s last quarterly check up, through the days of my Mom’s fall, hospital stay and her passing, I have felt like I had been operating in a cloud.  The basics of life have been getting done, all the interactions with the medical personnel for my wife and my Mom were accomplished, and the current stage of working closely with my brother and sister with the preparations for Mom’s service along with the many conversations with family and friends.

Throughout the whole confusing time I have felt a peace and a presence beyond myself.  This morning I saw that it is all through the strength of God’s abounding grace.  The difficulties of the last few weeks have been one of those “Things” and one of those “Times” that Paul described to the church in Corinth.  God’s grace has been that which has given me the ability to stay strong, and (somewhat) focused in order to complete the good works that must be faced and accomplished.  And through it all, the ups and down of my emotional state, my physical strength, and the continued care for Piper’s needs, His peace, “which surpasses all understanding” is my constant companion as well the guard of my “thoughts and emotions through Christ Jesus”  (Philippians 4:7 NKJV/God’s Word ©)

Are you facing any tough times today?  Are you feeling like the pressures of life are becoming unbearable?  Then let go of them and let Jesus carry them for you.  Depend on His grace and then allow His peace to overcome you and lead you through the mine fields ahead.  Expect His grace to be more than enough for you.  For His “strength is made perfect in (your) weakness.”  (2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJV)  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”




Monday, August 20, 2012

The Light


“In the beginning the Word already existed.
 The Word was with God,
 And the Word was God.
 He was already with God in the beginning.
 Everything came into existence through him.
 Not one thing that exists was made without him.

 He was the source of life,
 And that life was the light for humanity.”  (John 1:1-4 God’s Word)

There are certain people in this world that genuinely reflect the glow of God’s light.  My Mom was one of those unique individuals.  She had the uncanny ability to make anyone, no matter their status, color, race or creed, feel special when they came into her presence.  She would immediately brighten the atmosphere of a room that she entered.  Within a matter of moments, any stranger being introduced to her would feel like an old and favored friend. 

My Mom responded to her homecoming call on this last Friday, August 17, 2012 at eleven in the morning.

I have been amazed and blessed at the same time as I have heard countless people (and even those whom I didn’t think knew her very well…) express the same words that I wrote above.  My Mom had a vivid and active zeal for life.  She loved to laugh, to sing, to dance and to play the piano.  She would often recant her memories of the popular trio that she sang with throughout her High School years.  As an adult she sang with the choir at St. Eugene’s Cathedral for over 30 years.  When my brother and I formed a rock and roll band in the late sixties, she would often times sing along with me during practices as I fronted as the lead singer of the band!  (I can see her now: “Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ down the river…”  ♫)

I sort of feel like the Apostle John when he commented about his memories of his time with Jesus when he wrote, “If every one of them were written down, I suppose the world wouldn’t have enough room for the books that would be written.”  (John 21:25 God’s Word ©)  She was one of those Mom’s that was always there whether it was to bandage up a stubbed toe, or listening with compassion when I told her that I had been sent to the Principle’s office!

When I began to get serious with my girlfriend from High School, Mom gently counseled me to make sure that this young lady was the one that I wanted to spend my life with.  It was with great trepidation that I nervously walked into my parent’s bathroom that one night a few years later and stammered to my Mom, who was going through her nightly ritual of setting her hair, that I wanted to ask that same girl to marry me.  But once again, Mom was true to form as she burst out laughing and said “Well, it’s about time!”  Mom also enjoyed a good surprise so she quite excitedly assisted me in shopping for just the right ring so that I could surprise Piper with “The Question” and the ring.

During these last three years, my Mom has been my rock, my confidant, and my counselor as I have faced the difficult days of my wife’s battle with Alzheimer’s.  She was the only one who until a month or two ago, would call daily to inquire as to Piper’s well-being and ask what she and Dad could do to help.  She was definitely a second Mom to Piper and my wife loved her immensely. 

In the early hours of the next morning following my Mom’s passing, we experienced a very unusual thunder and lightning storm in our area.  In all my years here, I cannot recall this type of weather during the summer in the North Bay area of California.  Later that day I received a text from one of my cousins stating that she thought that the clatter from the early morning event was simply the sounds of the welcome home party that was going on in heaven for my Mom… and you know what?  It is the only explanation that makes sense for me!  I am sure that my Mother’s zeal and flare for life is only being amplified in the presence of the Lord and all the relatives and friends that have gone on before her.

We miss you dearly Mom, but the affects of your life will carry on through all whom who touched for many generations to come.

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



Thursday, August 16, 2012

Music


Yesterday was a busy day that started early and ended late!  Piper was scheduled for another EEG test at 10:30 in the morning that required sleep deprivation beforehand.  So that necessitated us to go to bed late on Tuesday and get up before the chickens on Wednesday.  To further complicated matters, my Mom had fallen early on Tuesday morning and had broken her hip.  The situation suddenly took a turn for the worse during the afternoon and for awhile it was touch and go.  By evening she had stabilized somewhat but there still were concerns.  Needless to say, what little sleep I had that night did little to alleviate the feeling that I was not at the top of my game yesterday morning!

The most enjoyable moment of the day though, came during the early hours when we first arose before the sun peeked over the horizon.  After helping my wife to get ready, I opened the blinds on the large window in the bedroom and stood still breathing in the fresh cool air, gazed at the darkened walkways that meander around our community lit only by the tiny lights along the paths and absorbed the quiet solitude that filled the air.  After a few moments I detected the sound of music emanating from one of my neighbor’s open windows.  It was soft enough that I couldn’t pick out the song, but just seemed to fit in perfectly with atmosphere that prevailed around us.

As I stood there lost in the moment, I began to think about music and all that it adds to our lives.  Music has many sides to it.  It comforts, it encourages, it stimulates, and evokes the emotions like no other source that I know.  Music is a carrier of God’s anointing.  When the right songs are played at the right time, it has the power to carry one right into the presence of God.  The Old Testament Prophet Elisha knew the importance of music as he instructed his attendant to “get someone to play some music.”  He was aware what would occur for it is recorded that “While the musician was playing, the Lord’s power came over Elisha.”  (2 Kings 3:15 God’s Word ©)

I mentioned in Tuesday’s post (8/14/12“Piper”) how music has always held an important place in my wife’s and my relationship.  It has been a passion for us that was passed on to our children and is now being passed on to our grand children as well.  I believe that music is also a passion to our heavenly Father.  Praises to Him are continually being sung to Him in the heavens.  The Apostle John recorded what he saw and heard during his vision of heaven saying:  “I heard every creature in heaven, on earth, under the earth and on the sea.  Every creature in those places was singing ‘To the one who sits on the throne and to the lamb be praise, honor, glory and power forever.’”  (Revelation 5:13 God’s Word ©)

That particular verse tells of a future time when all the voices of those of us on the earth, as well as the inhabitants of the places under the earth will join the heavenly choir singing praise unto Him.  The Psalmist encourages us to join in right now by making music to Him in our daily existence.  Psalm 47:6-7 says to:

“Make music to praise God.
 Play music for Him!
 Make music to praise our king.
 Play music for Him!

 God is the king of the whole earth.
 Make your best music for Him!”  (God’s Word ©)

Do you make music continually unto Him?  Is your life lived as a continual song to His glory and praise?  Think about that when you get up in the morning.  Think about that when you open up the blinds and look outside at the freshness of the new day.  Consider the tune you are playing with your family, on the job and when you return home after a long hard day.  And then listen to the music inside when you retire for the night.

The first verse of Psalm 47 tells us to “Clap your hands all you people.  Shout to God with a loud, joyful song.”  (God’s Word ©)  Is that the sound you hear when you listen to yourself?  Have a great day.  Stay in TUNE to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting TO HEAR today?”


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Piper


Today is a date that is forever etched in the recesses of my mind.  It was the first and for a long time, the only person’s birthday that I was able to remember, besides my own!  It is the date that I have given as identification repeatedly over the last three to five years at medical offices, hospitals as well as Federal, State and County offices.  It just happens to be exactly five months later than my own birthday… and it just happens to be my wife’s birthday!

Humm, let’s see… According to the website “Namipedia” the origin of the name Piper comes from an English occupational name meaning one who played the pipe or flute.  Well, that fits her as she learned to play the flute and the piccolo in the band during her Junior and Senior High years and then continued to play the flute throughout her adult life.  Termed as a bright and musical name, it has been steadily rising in popularity.  It’s been reported that the name of Piper wasn’t even in the top 1000 on the Social Security baby names list before 1999.  It is now listed at Number 172.  That also makes a lot of sense as when we were dating everyone would always go on and on about the uniqueness of her name and then ask me again what mine was!  Now it is pretty common to see little Piper’s around town!

My Piper always has enjoyed her name, and just like it has been termed, has always been bright and musical.  As I have mentioned before in this blog, music has always been a major contributor to our relationship.  One of my earliest recollections of Piper’s musical talents was sitting in the audience at the Saturday Afternoon Clubhouse in downtown Santa Rosa with Piper’s paternal Grandmother, enduring what seemed like hours of little kids proudly attempting to play their memorized pieces at a piano recital.  The audience audibly sighed when my 17 year old Piper, as the last and oldest participant, sat at the piano and played an intricately beautiful piano concerto by the French Composer Claude Debussy.

Proverbs 31:10-12, 26-29 perfectly describes my wife:

“Who can find a wife with a strong character?
 She is worth far more than jewels.
 Her husband trusts her with all his heart,
   and he does not lack anything good.
 She helps him and never harms him,
   all the days of her life.

 She speaks with wisdom,
   and on her tongue there is tender instruction.
 She keeps a close eye on the conduct of her family,
   and she does not eat the bread of idleness.
 Her children and her husband
   stand up and bless her.
 In addition he sings her praises, by saying,
   ‘Many women have done noble work,
     but you have surpassed them all!’”  (God’s Word ©)

Happy, blessed Birthday Honey!  And I can’t think of anything better to conclude except the words of King Lemuel who stated: “A women who has the fear of the Lord should be praised.  Reward her for what she has done, and let her achievements praise her at the city gates.”  (Proverbs 31:30-31 God’s Word ©)  Your rewards are to be without measure and your achievements will last through the generations to come!

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

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Comeback...


Well, if you are a San Francisco Giants fan like me, then you should have really enjoyed yesterday’s game.  It was the bottom of the eighth inning and our team was behind by two runs.  It was beginning to look like all hope was gone as the Giants do not have very good stats when you look at the number of times that they have come back to win a game after being behind after the seventh inning.  So, low and behold they end up tying the game.  Then with two outs and two men on the bases the Giants newest acquisition Hunter Pence comes up to bat.  Pence is known to be a good hitter but his record since coming over to the Giants has been wanting!

I was nervously sitting on the edge of the couch watching the game on TV with the dog asleep next to me and my wife sitting on another chair near the window in the living room.  I turned to my wife and joked, “Wouldn’t it be something if he hit a home run?”  And then… BAM!  Pence hit a long, high drive to left center and the announcer screamed: “It-Is-Out-a-Here!”  The crowd went absolutely wild and I let out such a loud “Wooo!” that the dog sprang from the couch in shock and my wife sat upright and a little wild eyed on her chair!  What an exciting inning!  The Giants went on to finish the game with their three point lead and take the series from the Colorado Rockies.

After the game my wife and I hopped into the car and took a ride in the picturesque countryside near our home.  While driving I mentioned to Piper that the game reminded me of the scripture that is found in 2 Corinthians 2:14 where it says: “But I thank God, who ALWAYS leads us in VICTORY because of Christ.”  (God’s Word ©)  Like the rapid change in the outcome of the game that occurred due to the right combination of pitches and batters, our ultimate victory in the situations of life can also quickly turnaround from what looks to be a coming defeat to victory when we place our steady and expectant trust in the Lord.

It may not always happen in one inning or in one day, week or even longer.  But as we stand on His firm foundation, our victory at some point is assured.  We have countless examples of this fact throughout the written Word.  Look at Abraham who waited about 25 years to see the fruit of God’s promise of a son, or Joshua who endured 40 years in the wilderness before he was tapped to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. 

“And what more shall I say?  For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephithah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets; who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to fight the armies of the aliens…”  (Hebrews 11:32-34 NKJV)  Stories of their victories are written throughout the Bible and they are continuing to be written today in the 29th chapter of the book of Acts… the chapter in the Bible that tells our stories!  

So don’t give up!  Your victory is just around the next bend in the road.  Keep your trust in our Mighty Deliverer and see it through until your victory shows up on the scoreboard of life!  Then you can say with confidence, thanksgiving and assurance as you read aloud the Word… “For time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and ___________________ (add your name!)… who through faith subdued kingdoms… obtained promises… and out of weakness were made strong!”  

See yourself as Jesus sees you!  Look into the mirror of His Word to observe the correct reflection of you.  Don’t give up before you win the game you’re playing.  Have a great week.  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Garage Door Opener...


So… yesterday afternoon found my wife and I climbing into the car in order to amble off and complete another list of the seemingly unending errands.  It was a little warm outside (according to our northern California standards – 95 degrees!), so I flipped on the air conditioner, snuggled down into our soft and cool leather seats and backed out of the garage.  Once clear, I spun the wheel to the right, hit the button on the garage door opener and began to accelerate away.  Out of the corner of my eye I hastily observed the motion of the garage door as it swung down and then grumbled inwardly as the door nudged the side wall of the garage and popped back open.

I quickly realized the silliness of being upset at the door, slipped the transmission into reverse and drove back.  Casting a sideward look and funny smirk to my wife, I opened the car door, pressed the button on the garage door opener once again and just as the door nudged the frame I gave it a slight push with my foot which resulted in the door’s completely closing.  Then I jumped back into the car and laughing retorted to my wife, “Sometimes you just gotta get involved!”  And then we were off to the library, the pharmacy and… to wherever else it was that we went!

This morning as I continued my study in the book of James I began to recall the incident with the garage door opener as I read a portion of verse 1:25, where the writer comments about the individual who “is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work.” (NKJV)  What “work” is he talking about?  He is talking about the “work” of the Gospel.  This morning I came to understand that Pastor James was not referring to the doing of good works in order to gain or retain your salvation.  Instead he was encouraging the Christian population which was “scattered abroad” (James 1:1 NKJV) to not just become comfortable in always going to hear the Word being preached, but to put into action in the communities in which they lived, what that Word was teaching them to do and to be.

For example… In my over 32 years of active ministry leadership, I have served as an Assistant Pastor in six different churches.  During that time I have worked in what I like to term the “back room ministries” with the children, youth and both the younger and older singles groups.  In all of those churches with the exception of the very first one where the Pastor continually expressed his vision for the entire family, it was always like pulling teeth to get volunteers from the congregation to assist us.  And while I understand that this is a common difficulty in churches, it would seem to me that if we took James’ words in the above scripture to heart, that the need for volunteers in the church would be the exception rather than the rule.  It was always disheartening for me and the volunteer teams that we could put together to be continually greeted after the services by adults coming out of the main auditorium with the words “Boy, you sure missed a good word today!”

My little adventure of having to move out of the comfort of our air-conditioned vehicle yesterday in order to “get involved” with the operation of something that we take for granted everyday of our lives, proved to be a silly but yet vivid example of how we Christians can miss following James’ Pastoral words that he spoke from his personal observations of Jesus’ ministry on this earth.  Think about it… When was the last time that you volunteered to help in the Children’s Church services that occur every Sunday and Mid-week while the Adult service is in session?  When was the last time that you volunteered in the school in your neighborhood, or rang door bells up and down your street asking for donations for the American Red Cross, or other non-profit organizations (as my wife used to do for the March of Dimes)?

A few years back I worked as a loaned executive for the United Way organization and visited private and state government offices around the northern part of our county for two months.  Following that assignment I then volunteered for a few years on different committees for the organization.  That opportunity opened my eyes up to many of the needs within our own community and also gave me a voice into the lives of many people with whom I never would have favor with if I had not stepped out of my normal circle of friends and family.

You know… when you physically put to use the things that you have been hearing and learning from the Word, it cements the knowledge and blessings inherent in His Word in you personally!  It also makes you a “carrier” of the Good News!  So, I encourage you this weekend to go out and have a “garage door opener” experience.  Look for opportunities to “get involved” in the lives of those in the community around you.  Not only hear the Word… but “BE” the Word in action!  Have a good weekend.  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting to DO for Him today?”

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Mirror, Mirror On The Wall...


On the Friday morning while our youngest daughter and her husband were visiting us, we all found ourselves busily preparing to embark upon our trip up the coast for the weekend.  My wife and I were upstairs getting dressed while JoAnna and Jeremiah were awaiting the completion of a load of clothes tumbling in the dryer.  Since she had some extra time on her hands, JoAnna sat down at our piano and began to play.  Within a few moments Jeremiah joined her and they filled the house with melody as JoAnna’s hands flowed across the keys and the two of them sang praise and worship songs to the Lord.

As I busied myself assisting my wife, it suddenly and emotionally hit me how nice it was to hear the piano being played in our home again.  It also quickly registered how JoAnna had the same light touch on the keys that her mother always possessed.  As the emotions began to flow I quietly peeked down from the loft and felt as though as I was looking into a mirror as I observed JoAnna and Jeremiah at the piano lifting their talents as an offering to the Lord.  It was as if I was looking at a younger version of Piper and I from the 1970’s!  It would seem that music has become as integral a part of their lives as it has always been in ours throughout the years.

This morning I read once more about mirrors in the epistle of James.  In verses 21–27 in the first chapter, the author speaks of what one sees in a natural mirror as compared to what one sees when he or she looks into the mirror of faith.  A natural mirror only reflects what is readily seen on the outside and is quickly forgotten by the observer.  James 1:25 says: “But he who looks into (the mirror of) the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.”  (NKJV)

When one looks into the mirror of the Word of God, which is the perfect law of liberty, he or she does not see their own image, but a reflection of God’s will for them.  It is a picture that is not soon forgotten.  Pastor James goes on to say that the more you look into this mirror and do what it says, the more you will be blessed, because His mirror reflects the truth concerning your life.  It is the mirror in which your faith needs to look.  God’s mirror gives the correct impression of whatever you are facing each and every day.

Yesterday I was a momentarily  taken back as I reviewed the doctor’s written summary of our quarterly meeting with Piper’s Specialist on Tuesday afternoon.  Under the heading of a section on the report entitled “Impressions,” the doctor listed some of her observations of Piper’s conditions that were not too positive.  The written description shook me as I recalled the various conversations with the Social Worker, the representative of the local Alzheimer’s Association, the Nurse Practioner and our Neurologist.  All kinds of negative thoughts and images began to flood my mind as I briefly considered what the doctor observed of my wife.

When I tossed the report onto my desk and walked a little shakily into the living room, the vision of a mirror came clearly into my mind and I recalled James’ words that my wife and I had read together at breakfast and I saw that the doctor was only reporting on what she visibly observed, like one who looks into a mirror hanging on the wall.  The Spirit immediately reminded me that Piper and I have a better, more accurate mirror, the mirror of God’s Word, which reflects the perfect law of liberty that has set us free from the dictates of the law of sin and death.  (Romans 8:1-2)  That mirror clearly shows us God’s “Impression” of Piper’s good health which Jesus has already provided for us as was first prophesied in Job 33:24-25 where it unequivocally foretold of the ransom or atonement which Jesus would provide on Calvary and beyond. (See also: I Peter 2:24) That reality brought instant peace to my being as my faith was drawn into the mirror of God’s will.

Have you ever looked into the mirror on your wall and seen things that are not too encouraging or maybe even down right scary?  (I’m not talking about your looks here, but about the threat of bad reports, sickness, or other disturbing personal news!)  Sometimes it would even seem that your mirror talks to you and emphasizes the negative view you are observing.  At times like that I would encourage you to step away and look into another mirror, the mirror of God’s truth that will build up your faith and cause you to take the corresponding actions that will bring about His will in contrast to what the natural mirror is reflecting.

So don’t get caught up in the conflicting message of “Mirror, mirror on the wall…” but look continuously into the mirror of the perfect law of liberty and follow through on what you see.  Then you will enjoy the results of “being blessed in what you do”  Have a super day.  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What ‘Impression’ am I expecting today?”



Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Giant Squash


My folks have a small framed photo of me hanging in the hallway of their house.  The photo was taken when I was in Junior High School.  (You can tell that I am dating myself as they are now called Middle Schools!) In the picture I am holding a giant winter squash over my head, while the family dog Daisy sits contently at my feet.  That home grown squash which I had proudly grown was over two feet wide!  It was just another one of the prizes that I had discovered in my Mom’s seed box.

Every year when I spread out the seeds on the picnic table (See yesterday’s blog “The Seed Box”) I would always looks for something unusual among the typical bags of zucchini, tomatoes, string beans and the like.  I was especially drawn to the yellowed, worn envelopes that had hand written names on them.  These seeds normally came from my Grandfather’s garden.  The way my Mom talked, her father’s seeds were priceless and unavailable anywhere else on the planet!  My unusual and giant winter squash in that picture was from one of those priceless batches of seeds.

God’s Word also contains many unusual and priceless seeds from our Father’s garden.  There are seeds in His Word that are truly unavailable anywhere else on the planet!  There are promises in the Word that are possible only with God.  Luke 18:27 says that “The things that are impossible with men are possible with God.” (KJV)

Do you know that I was almost an adult by the time I actually purchased a bag of seeds from a store?  I never had to buy any seeds because everything I always needed was in my Mom’s seed box.  The same could be said for God’s Word.  There are many things for which we spend countless hours and untold dollars searching for in this world that can be found by simply opening up and reading through the pages of your own seed box, the Bible!  His book contains the power it takes to give us “everything we need for life and for godliness.”  (II Peter 1:3 God’s Word ©)

God’s concluding words to those who love Him (in Psalm 91) are recorded by the Psalmist in Psalm 91:16 where it says: “With long life I will satisfy him, and show him My salvation.” (NKJV)  Remember that the Greek translation of the Old Testament word “salvation” originates from the word “sozo” meaning “To save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction, to save one’s suffering from disease, to make well, to heal, to prosper and to make whole.”  (Strong’s and Thayer’s)  That one promise alone cover’s about 99% of any need you and I might have!  And the results of that promise come only from believing in and then taking the corresponding actions of faith on the Word of God!

Is there a giant miracle (or squash!) that you need to see produced in your life today?  Then I would whole heartedly recommend that you pull out your personal seed box of faith (ie; the Bible!) and start sorting through it until you find out God’s will for your need and begin the gardening process in the good soil of your heart!  Have a good day.  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What Giant SQUASH am I expecting today?”




Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Seed Box


My wife and I spent some time the other day at my folk’s house.  While we were there I watered some plants, trimmed some bushes, pulled weeds and mowed their back lawn.  When I was done for the day, I cleaned my equipment, packed up the car and headed out the garage.  On the way I stopped to investigate a small box that I had not seen before that was on the dryer.  When I casually flipped open the lid, I stood in awe as I was instantaneously flooded with wave upon wave of childhood springtime memories.  Unbeknownst to me I had discovered my parent’s long lost seed box.

As I am sure that I have mentioned before, that my parent’s, and especially my Mom, instilled a love for gardening in me at a very young age.  It was always a big event when she would take me out to the garage at the beginning of spring, open up the tall cabinet that always seemed to be a catch all for everything and begin moving things around until she found what she was looking for.  My earliest recollections was that of an old, beat up dark colored coffee can that was stuffed to the top with wrinkled, folded, faded, and taped up little bags of seeds.  As the years went by and the collection grew, the old can was eventually replaced with a box.  The last time that I remember going through this tradition with my Mom, the box itself had faded, was torn and taped with materials that had yellowed with age and the bottom was ready to fall out.  The box I discovered on the dryer was obviously a newer replacement for the old container… No wonder I never noticed it before!

Once the can or box was found, my Mom and I would go out to the redwood picnic table on the patio, dump all the little bags on the table and spread them out.  At this point my Mom would say “take your pick” and I would gleefully choose the vegetables and flowers that happened to catch my fancy.  Once my selection was made my Mom would sit down next to me and explain all the idiosyncrasies of each plant as well as how to nurture and care for it throughout it’s growing cycle.  From there we would find the seed planting containers saved from previous years, rinse them clean and forge on into the planting process with great expectations of plenteous, large and luscious vegetables bursting forth in my imagination.

The sight of that box sitting on the counter near the phone in our kitchen this morning, once again revived those poignant memories in me and got me to thinking about how my trusty red Bible has come to be like that box of seeds from my childhood!  Every time I walk into my study and catch a glimpse of that open book on my desk, my expectations soar as I begin to imagine all the large and luscious fruit of the promises that are contained in the seed of God’s Word.  (Luke 8:11) 

That seed when planted in the good soil of our hearts and then watered by our words and actions of faith will grow and eventually produce the fruit that we are expecting to receive.  And as every good gardener knows, it takes diligent, consistent and loving hands to till, plant, care for and then pick the fruits and/or vegetables from the growing plants in your garden.   The same is true if you want to reap a bountiful harvest from God’s Word.

When I sliced and then took that first bite from that first deep, rich red tomato that I had just picked from my garden this year, I felt like I was in heaven!  What a huge difference from those bland tasting tomatoes that you buy in the store!  There is simply nothing that compares to your own home grown harvest, just as there is nothing that can compare to your own, home grown harvest that comes from the seeds you’ve planted and tended to from God’s Word. 

The cool thing about God’s seeds, in contrast to the one’s in your garden, is that the growth and harvest of God’s seeds are not necessarily dependent on the seasons of the year.  They can be planted in the good soil of your heart at anytime.  Their growth and successful harvest are only dependent upon your diligent, consistent and loving faith.  Nothing in this world can compare with it and you’ll never know what you are missing until you plant, grow and then harvest from your own garden from the precious seeds of His Word.  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to his Word and keep asking yourself… “What HARVEST am I expecting today?”

Monday, August 6, 2012

Gaining Speed!


Last night when I first got into bed, I began to think about all the things that had happened over the last three or four weeks.  My kids from Oklahoma had come and gone.  We spent hours in meaningful conversation and fellowship catching up on all the time since we had last been together.  They shared many of their hopes, dreams and plans for the near future and I shared some of mine with them.  We also talked a lot about their Mom, how they felt that she looked better than she did at JoAnna’s wedding last September, about her physical, emotional and spiritual care and about the way that people around her were responding to the whole situation.  Then this last weekend I had spoken in depth with a good friend who lives out of state, as well as spending nearly three hours on the phone with our oldest daughter in North Carolina.   Previous to this we had also enjoyed the company of my good buddy and his family from Colorado.

All of that time and conversation provided great encouragement and stimulus for me.  It also allowed me to give some input into the lives of those who are very special to me.  Being in direct contact with my family and close friends who are like in Spirit was very therapeutic.  It helped to strengthen my resolve as we continue to seek the Lord’s direction for the next step in our lives.  With the Olympic games going on, the Lord gave me the picture of a Long Jumper landing in the sand.  It is very important for the contestant to always fall forward and not backward.  The backward motion will erase your forward progress and penalize your score. 

The Lord told me that it was the same for us.  In the walking out of His plan for us, He encouraged me to make great effort to assure that we are not taking any backward steps as it would definitely hinder the forward direction He is calling us to go.  Our concentrated time with family and friends came in a pivotal time after the ministry decisions and move that we made back in June of this year.  After getting over the quietness around the house with everyone being gone last week, I now am beginning to feel like that Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport sports car that was clocked at 201.7 miles an hour at the Mojave Mile speed event for cars and motorcycles held in Southern California earlier this year!

How about you?  Has this summer acted as a tune up for you for this coming year and the events that the Lord has planned for you?  If not, there is still a little time left to get together with those of like Spirit to encourage and stimulate each other.  Gather with those you love and trust around the Word of God.  Colossians 3:16 tells us to “Let Christ’s word with all its wisdom and richness live in you.  Use psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to teach and instruct yourselves about God’s kindness.  Sing to God in your hearts.”  (God’s Word ©)

Enjoy the rest of the summer and remember to always keep all your motion going in a forward direction!  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”


Friday, August 3, 2012

Remembrances


After showering and shaving this morning, I grabbed the new Sea Ranch T-shirt that I had purchased last weekend while on our mini-vacation and slipped it over my head.  I stood before the mirror staring at the trademark Sea Ranch ram horns logo for awhile and reminisced about the enjoyable moments that my wife and I experienced at the Lodge, walking on the bluffs, and while eating breakfast seated in front of the large windows that afforded us a sweeping panoramic view of the rugged coast.  My memories were suddenly interrupted as I began to consider the similarities between a scripture that I had studied earlier and my Sea Ranch T-shirt.

Revelation 12:11 in the God’s Word translation states that “They won the victory over him because of the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony.”  The “word” that is given in this verse is the Word of God.  Thayer’s defines it as “God’s decree, mandate or order.”  Their “testimony” is the “evidence given, a record or a report.”  It is likened to a person’s testimony given in a court of law that gives evidence of a previous precedent that authorizes a subsequent act of the like kind.

Just like my new T-shirt brings remembrances of a fun vacation, the Word of God spoken through our lips brings remembrances of the mighty works that God has done for us and others in the past.  His Word that we proclaim also recalls a precedent established in the universal courts of heaven so that what He has done in the past He will do again for us in the present as well as in the future!  (See:  Hebrews 13:8)  Our standing on the blood of the Lamb and the confession of the Word immediately establishes our victory against any and all attacks of the enemy of our souls!  It is a legally binding argument to which the enemy must yield to.

Have you ever really considered the power that is yielded through the spoken Word of God, or have you just seen it as encouraging words to be read during difficult and trying times?  God’s Word is Jesus speaking today just as He spoke when He walked upon the earth some 2000 years ago.  When He spoke to sickness, disease, devils and even the weather… things changed!  And that SAME power still resides in His Word that WE speak out today!

Wow!  That kind of puts a whole new light on His Word doesn’t it?  Think about that for awhile and then go forth and move mountains for Him, with Him and in Him through His spoken Word!  (See Mark 11:23)  Have a power-packed weekend.  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… What am I expecting today?”





Thursday, August 2, 2012

Islands Of Rock


One thing that always impresses me about the northern California coast line around the Sea Ranch area is the rugged cliffs overlooking the ocean and the many huge, solid islands of rock that grace your view.  Day after day, and year after year those rocks take untold beating from the monstrous waves but yet they continue to stand and flourish with various kinds of plant life that seem to thrive in the cold water along with large varieties of sea urchins, mussels, crabs, star fish and other ocean creatures.  Every time I stand high above those anchors of the sea I tend to let my thoughts go as I consider all the ships that have passed by them over the years. 

I visualize the Spanish Galleons, the English Explorer Sir Francis Drake, and the Russian-American Company who recognized England’s claim of discovery and defied Spain’s claim of sovereignty over Alta California and established Fort Ross in 1812 on an unoccupied stretch of coastal land just south of what is now the Sea Ranch.  Then I employ the use of my 300mm lens as I wistfully capture the journeys of the tiny fishing fleets as they meander along the horizon while staying miles away from the beautiful but yet dangerous rocks near the shoreline.

The sight of those mighty monuments of strength rising from the mist of tumultuous waves also stirs my heart as I sing the words to the refrain of that powerful hymn:

“On Christ the solid Rock I stand;
 All other ground is sinking sand,
 All other ground is sinking sand.”

Then the first two verses add to the reality of all that He is to us throughout our lives:

“My hope is built on nothing less
 Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
 I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
 But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

 On Christ the solid Rock I stand;
 All other ground is sinking sand,
 All other ground is sinking sand.

 When darkness veils His lovely face,
 I rest on His unchanging grace;
 In every high and stormy gale,
 My anchor holds within the veil.

 On Christ the solid Rock I stand;
 All other ground is sinking sand,
 All other ground is sinking sand.”

Sometimes we may feel like our lives are similar to those rocks as we are beat upon by the waves of adversity and pain.  But just as they are unmovable to the unrelenting waters that they daily face, we too can be part of an unmovable force as we put our trust in the hands of the ONE who shed His precious blood for us.  Revelation 12:11 declares that we “overcome him (the devil and his attacks upon us and our loved ones) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their (our) testimony.” (KJV)

Therefore, the next time you are under attack, take a moment to consider the example of the mighty rocks in the ocean that take continual beatings, but yet always arise from the mist and the foam to declare their presence and their victory over the surrounding waves!  For:

“On Christ the solid Rock I stand!”

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







Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Be Happy!


I awoke this morning with the words from Proverbs 17:22 reverberating through my thoughts:

“A merry heart does good like a medicine,
 but a broken spirit dries the bones.”  (NKJV)

As I meditated upon that verse I began to think about our time with our kids and Piper’s relatives up at the Sea Ranch.  Piper’s folks have rented houses up there for years, starting when both Piper and her sister were in their elementary or Junior High years.  When I started dating my wife I would drive up and spend a few days with her and the family.  After Piper and I married, followed a few years later by her sister’s wedding, the vacation times at Sea Ranch became a little less frequent, but was a part of our summer experiences when they were scheduled.

As I’ve mentioned before, my family always enjoyed the great outdoors, so our main family vacation was usually centered around a camping trip with the ensuing times of hiking, fishing, campfires, swimming in the lake or river and so on!  The time at the Sea Ranch was an additional holiday where we would go up for a few days toward the end of their week long adventure.

This year’s event was also in celebration of my in-laws 60th wedding anniversary, so there was a big cook-out planned in one of the many picnic areas on the Sea Ranch property.  Piper’s aunt and uncle along with their family also came up for the day to enjoy the hot-dog feast which was to be held on the banks of the Gualala River under the shade of a grove of towering Coast Redwoods.  The weather turned out to be lovely and a good time was to be had by all.

During the time spend up there, I was on the alert to see how everyone would react and interact with my wife.  As I’ve mentioned before, her family had taken Piper’s situation very hard and reacted, during the first couple of years, with a wide range of negative words.  My sons and their cousin had been praying very aggressively for healing and restoration to occur on this trip.  Being as they are musicians and ministers, they organized a worship service for the family on the Friday night we had arrived.

While the first night was rather hard for me, the next day turned out to be a refreshing time as the majority of the family members received Piper with open arms and easily interacted and communicated with her.  Her folks still had a difficult time thinking that she was not able to recognize them.  My repeated attempts to help them to see Piper’s recognition through the twinkle in her eyes and the very visible smile that she displayed whenever they came into her presence seemed to have fallen on deaf ears.  What I have come to learn is that my responsibility now lies in the arena of dedicated prayer for them.  My daughter also saw the difficulties that they had with my wife and interceded on her behalf on many occasions throughout the day.

After getting up and beginning my Bible Study time this morning, I looked at Proverbs 17:22 in many different translations.  The one that really seemed to stand out was from the Good News Bible where it says: “Being cheerful keeps you healthy.  It is a slow death to be gloomy all the time.”  The word translated as “cheerful” is the word “merry” used in many of the other Bibles.  The word in the original Hebrew simply means “to be happy!”

As I look around at many of the people that I see on a daily basis, as well as a few of the family members that we spent time with this last week, I definitely see some “gloomy” individuals.  It is no surprise that these same people deal with sickness on a regular basis.  The writer of this proverb makes it clear that the solution to a gloomy existence comes from being cheerful or happy.  So how does one replace their gloomy countenance?  By focusing in on something greater than themselves and their own little world.

Hebrews 12:2 tells us to “focus on Jesus the source and goal of our faith.”  (God’s Word ©).  Life for me right now would be filled with doom and despair if I did not have my faith and my focus on the Lord Jesus Christ and the truth of His word to carry me through to victory.  On Saturday morning, my wife and I sat in some comfortable chairs, enjoying the beautiful blue ocean outside our window as I read His words of healing to us.  Suddenly the anointing of God seemingly jumped from the pages of the book in my lap and I clearly saw my wife and I hiking up to the top of our favorite peak at our favorite State Park as a victory celebration for her healing.  My wife looked at me a little startled as my face must have come alive with the light of His word, and I almost shouted out what I had just seen.  Then we both began to laugh, thank Him and cry tears of joy at the same time!

So let me ask you… When is the last time that you had an experience like that?  When was the last time that you broke out into spontaneous laughter that instantly washed away any thoughts of doom, despair or gloom?  If it has been awhile, then I suggest that you change your focus.  The daily events that occur all around us are filled with the news of events that tend to drag us down, but God’s word is only filled with encouragement, His love, and His joy!  So… what will it be?  Remember “Being cheerful keeps you healthy.  It is a slow death to be gloomy all the time.” (Proverbs 17:22 GNB)

Have a cheerful day, stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”