The new house!

The new house!
This is our spring and summer view from the kitchen of our new home in Oklahoma!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Harmony IV - Balance

As I continued to contemplate on the idea of harmony this morning, I came to the conclusion that this is something that we deal with on a daily basis in our lives.  Like I mentioned in the last couple of posts, we constantly work to have harmony or balance in our relationships with other people at home, at work and everywhere we come into contact with them.  But when you think about it, balance goes way beyond the people aspects of it.  As inhabitants of this planet, we seek to have balance between us and the environment, with the animal world, with the weather and everything else that inputs data into our lives.

Each of us has to seek a personal harmony or balance with our political beliefs and levels of involvement with it, with the ever increasing and changing influence of technology in our lives and with social media, to name just a few more items that affect each of us on a daily basis.  While some people deal with all of this by just escaping to a remote location and choose to live as hermits, most of us plant ourselves right in the middle of society and regularly seek harmony and balance in our lives.
Most of us tend to muddle along and live a fairly successful, hit and miss life in the face of everything that comes flying at us each day.  The world offers a wide variety of escapes from the balance we struggle to find in life.  If you watch any TV at all then you’ll see many of these advertised as something that will provide you with a lifestyle of pleasure, harmony and ease.  Be it a cruise to an exotic location, a new car, the newest smart phone, a bottle of beer, or in my neck of the woods a bottle of world class fine wine.
Please understand that I am not trying to make a judgment on any of these things, but you have to realize that these items are not answers to our search for harmony or balance, but just more things that we need to find a balance within our lives!
So, after all this is said, is there a solution to be investigated?  I think so!  Colossians 2:9-10 states that “All of God lives in Christ’s body, and God has made you complete in Christ.  Christ is in charge of every ruler and authority.” (God’s Word ©)  According to Strong’s and Thayer’s, to be complete is to literally be “crammed full, satisfied, and be made complete in every particular.”  Webster says it is to be “total, entire, undivided, uncompromised or unmodified.”
According to this verse, we are already complete and satisfied, or you could say in balance or in harmony.  That is how our heavenly Father sees us, and it is the same way that we should see ourselves as we approach the multitude of inputs that we face. Approaching the daily decisions from an attitude of completeness instead from a perspective of need makes all the difference!  And not only are we complete in Him, He is also in charge of every ruler and authority.  In you is the power to overcome, the joy which strengthens you and the wisdom to make the right decisions and thereby live in harmony and balance with everything and everyone around you!
You’ll face every day, every decisions and everything that bombards your life as a winner, as the one that is solidly fixed in the driver’s seat!  You’ll notice that most new car manufacturers have designed their car cabins to center around the driver and not the passenger.  The controls are all at the driver’s fingertips.  He or she is the one in charge and the one that makes all the driving decisions.  Knowing that you are complete in Christ also puts all the driver’s controls for our daily lives at your fingertips!  In this mode, the daily decisions come easily and balance and harmony are a constant in all that you do.
You know, the boss usually gets what he or she wants in the workplace.  Well, according to our scripture, you and I are complete in Christ and in Him lives all of the Boss!  So where you go, so goes the Big Boss!  Talk about favor!  Keep that in mind the next time you are faced with a decision concerning balance in your life. (probably within the next few minutes!)  Live your life from His perspective, and balance and harmony will follow you wherever you go.  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Harmony III - Relationships That Work!

As my wife and I sat around my folks large dining room table with my family enjoying a delicious slice of my Mom’s homemade cake, my brother-in-law asked what was the secret of our successful marriage.   We had gathered that night in celebration of our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary.  As the room grew quiet and all eyes affixed themselves on me, I looked at my wife and smiled and said that we had always been a team working for God!  Without going into a lot of detail I went on to explain that our lives were always centered around Him. 

I’m pretty sure that none of the people sitting there really understood what I was trying to convey to them.  To be honest, I’m not too sure that I fully understood my statement!  The course that I chose to walk in life was totally different from the rest of my family.  I think I was looked upon as sort of a fanatic when it came to my faith.  I had left the Catholic Church, was raising my family in a Protestant Pentecostal Word of Faith Church and on top of all that, I was a licensed minister actively involved in the church’s leadership!
Most of our family’s activities were closely interwoven with the ministry of the church.  Sure our kids were involved in the city soccer leagues, ballet, basketball and with the school band, but the majority of our recreation and fellowship was with the church.  As the Youth and Children’s Pastor I was always involved in special events with my family at my side.  Even to this day my youngest daughter says that she strongly misses the hands on-behind the scenes involvement that was a part of her childhood.  She and her husband are looking forward to the ministry that the Lord has for them to lead in the near future.
Needless to say, my Christian beliefs and involvement was at times a source of contention between my family and I.  But it was (and is) our lives!  From the first month we started dating, my wife and I participated in Christian ministry.  We became the leaders of the youth group and later on with the College Career group at her church before we were married.  A week or so after we were married I went on staff as the Junior High Youth Minister and it has never stopped since.  And through it all, my wife and I have been a team, working with a single purpose and passion for Him.
When I answered my brother in law on that night over twelve years ago, I just knew it was our united connection to God and His ways that kept us together when most other marriages in the family had ended in divorce.  As I recently studied out Philippians 2:2 in the New King James Version, I suddenly understood the meaning behind my words concerning the success of our marriage.  Here Paul is telling his readers to “fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.” 
In reference to a husband and wife, Webster’s 1828 dictionary informs us that term “being in one accord” could define a couple that is “in concert; with the union of different sounds.”  The Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary states that it literally means “with united souls.”  If you were to put those two definitions together you could paint a picture of how two different individuals with different backgrounds, talents and personalities can be blended together as an unbreakable and powerful force for God when their souls become united in their commitment to their Savior.
That’s why it has worked for us.  Sure we’ve had our disagreements over the years, but that one united foundation of our souls always brought us back into harmony with one another.  The various influences and activities of life may bring pressure to a marriage, but the solid foundation of two souls united in Him with ALWAYS weather any storm.
Husbands and wives can have an abundance of unified goals and purposes and common bonds such as children, sports and hobbies, but in order to last the test of time they need to be united in spirit in their commitment to God.  This is something that I always like to share when I meet with couples for pre-nuptial counseling and it is the same vital piece of information that I feel led to share with you today.  It is never too late to establish this unified foundation.  A couple that lives life with “united souls” can honestly live from day to day knowing that it is just going to get better as life goes on!  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Harmony II - Things Happen!

It is a Biblical fact that things happen when people live in harmony with each other.  Jesus made a point of this when He taught His followers saying: “If two of you agree (or be harmonious – Strong’s) on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.”  (Matthew 18:19 NKJV)  A perfect example of this teaching occurred soon after Jesus left the earth and sat down at the right hand of God.  Acts chapter two records the coming of the Holy Spirit to the church as “they were all with one accord (likeminded or harmonious) in one place.” (Acts 2:1 NKJV) And after hearing that unified/harmonious message some 3000 people were added to the roles of the fledging church!

That course of action continued throughout the book of Acts.  We could also say that it is continuing on with the church today as we live and write the contents of Acts 29.  In writing to the church in Philippi, Paul encouraged the congregation to “fill me with joy by having the same attitude and the same love, living in harmony, and keeping one purpose in mind.” (Philippians 2:2 God’s Word ©) He understood the power behind the force of harmony residing amongst the people.  He desired God’s best for them and he knew that the only way to grow into maturity and receive all that the heavenly Father had for them was for them to stay in a place of harmonious relationship with each other.
Paul went so far as to state (in agreement with Jesus) that the entire Ten Commandments could be “summed up in this statement: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Romans 13:9)  Is it really possible though?  The writers of the New Testament would answer a resounding “Yes!”  Is it easy?  I think those same writers would quickly answer that question without any hesitation with a clear and concise “No!”
So what do we do?  We do our best!  We fill ourselves up with His Word.  We do our best to live our daily lives as per the standard set forth in the New Testament, and most of all, we surrender our will, our personalities and our backgrounds to Him!  Then when we slip-up, we depend on His loving grace to set us on the right path again.
Be yourself… that is be the man or women that God has created and empowered you to be!  Be real with those around you and seek to be a harmonious sound in their lives that is pleasing to their ears!  Then expect things to happen for the glory of God!  Have a great day.  Stay in tune (no pun intended… okay, maybe a little pun!) to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting To Happen today?”

Monday, February 25, 2013



1)    Agreement; accord; harmonious relations
      2)    A consistent, orderly or pleasing arrangement of parts; congruity
3)    Music:

The simultaneous combination of tones, especially when blended into chords pleasing to the ear; chordal structure, relations and practical combination of chords.  *

During the offering at church yesterday, a trio from the Praise and Worship team sang a beautiful song unto the Lord.  The only accompaniment  behind them was an acoustical guitar, a keyboard and a tambourine.  What really set the group apart was their beautiful harmonies. The effect of the blending of their separate parts was spell-binding to me.  It made me feel as if I was standing before the very throne of God!  All I could do was raise my hands and worship God!
I guess I’ve always enjoyed listening to and breaking down the different harmonies when musical groups sing.  I’m sure that the biggest contributor to this activity is the influence of my talented wife.  As I may have mentioned before, she comes from a musical family.  Her Mom and sister were both strong soprano’s while her Dad sang with a deep bass voice.  When they sang together at their church, whether as a family unit or as members of the choir, Piper was usually given the alto parts.
Once she and I connected and started singing together, Piper would easily harmonize with me and we always blended well.  As our family grew she would help the kids to find their perspective parts in the songs and once again we always had multiple part harmonies.  We actually sang specials as a family at the various churches we attended over the years, at a Realtors luncheon, and a couple of times for dinners held by the local Farm Bureau!  (Don’t ask me how that came about…)
Both of our kids who graduated from the third year specialized music ministry training at Bible School strongly credited the relative ease in which they went through their various voice, piano, music theory and composition classes and exams with the training that their Mom had given them as they grew up at home. 
Anyway… while I enjoy modern contemporary Christian music with it electric guitar solos, strong lively tempos and solid bass lines, I still enjoy a good old southern Gospel Quartet where the four part harmony brings the power of God’s anointing and tears to one’s eyes as the singers build up to a climaxing crescendo that leaves the listener in awe!  It is hard to find something as beautiful as a group of individuals singing in wonderful agreement and/or harmony together.
This morning as I read from Colossians chapter one, I came to the conclusion that God would totally agree with me!  Verse 20 declares that “God was also pleased to bring everything on earth and in heaven back to himself through Christ.  He did this by making peace through Christ’s blood sacrificed on the cross.”  As usual, I had to look up some of the words from their original Greek meanings and discovered that the word translated “peace” actually means “to be a peacemaker; that is to harmonize.” (Strong’s)
It would seem that our heavenly Father’s desire for us is to be in perfect harmony with Him, and through Christ’s actions He provided a means to accomplish this!  As Christians we are now able to live in agreement, accord and with harmonious relations with Him and His ways.  We are to be a living song with a simultaneous combination of tones that when blended into chords is pleasing to His ears, to ours and to those that we come into contact with throughout our lives!
Dwell on that thought for a few moments here.  Is that the way that your life is progressing or is there harmonic discord in your life’s song?  My youngest daughter was sharing about one of their final composition projects they had in school.  The assignment was to make a personal arrangement of a known worship song and then lead their class in the singing of it.  The band which was made up of instructors played the song exactly as written whether it was right or wrong.  Any dischordal notes were played and thereby made obvious as they did not blend together and tended to take away from the anointing of the song.  The importance of harmony was driven home by the mistakes of a few in the class.
Are there any dischordal notes in your life today?  If the answer is yes, then maybe you’d better compare the notes on your music sheets to the original music written by the Master composer.  The notes do not necessarily need to be the same but they do need to blend in harmony with one another in order to fully flow in the blessings that He desires for us to have and to be in this life!
Think about all this the next time you listen to a beautiful piece of music.  Chose to play the music of your life in the same harmonious manner.  Have a great day!  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”


Friday, February 22, 2013


I don’t mean to sound like a broken record when I keep talking about the side effects that my wife has been experiencing with the new prescription that she has been taking.  It’s just that it has not only been hard on the both of us, but has also served as a great foundation for a lesson from the Lord!  Mind you, I am not in any way saying that He caused the difficulties for we know that the Word clearly states that He is the purveyor of life (John 1:4, John 6:63) and not sickness, disease and pain and suffering. (John 10:10, Acts 10:38 & Luke 9:56)

The three nights previous to last night had been extremely taxing on both of us.  My wife kept waking up with alarming symptoms.  Once the light of the morning came into the room and she was up, dressed, fed and had her meds, things would mellow out.  I was beginning to feel at a loss as to what I could do for her.  Each day I spoke with her two specialists in San Francisco hoping for a quick fix, and neither could really offer anything more for the situation.  Their answers were the same… we just need to “hold the course” and push on through until her system adjusted.
I have to confess, that this was not what I wanted to hear.  I was definitely feeling pushed to my personal limits of endurance and needed answers!  As I mentioned before, the new found freedom to go for a walk while pushing my wife in a transport chair was the saving grace for both of us during the last two days.  But then the evening hours would come and the potential of another rough, sleepless night loomed ahead.
I finally had a breakthrough late yesterday afternoon as I began to prepare a dinner of pork ribs baked over a bed of pasta with marinara sauce and sliced zucchini.  When I finally popped the casserole into the oven, it came to my awareness that with the tremendous emotional and physical stress of the situation, that I had become more dependent on the doctors word than I had on God’s.  
Now, you may think that this is unusual coming from someone who always preaches total allegiance to whatever the Word says in contrast to the negative reports that may try to prevail in our lives.  But you know… I’ve got to be honest with you.  I was having problems in the face of everything that seemed to be hitting us all at once, and let down my guard.  (or should I say my shield – Ephesian 6:16)  I hope that my transparency here will be a great encouragement to any of you who may find yourselves in similar situations.
As I began to clean up the counter and lick the spoon and the bowl that was coated with the residue of the red pasta sauce (hey… I’m a full blooded Italian, I could live off this stuff!) I decided that I needed to make something positive happen in the situation that we found ourselves embroiled in.  I had an hour before the food was cooked and I immediately began to use that time by praising, praying and singing unto the Lord.  Since I had already prayed for His wisdom for the need, I just thanked Him for His answers.  I went through the house and charged the atmosphere with faith.  I laid hands on my wife and thanked the Lord for her healing recovery that I believe is happening in her body (Mark 16:18) and simply released my cares upon Him.
By the time the oven timer went off I was flooded with a newfound peace that I hadn’t felt for days, my faith was stirred and I was encouraged about the night ahead… and the Lord was true to His Word! (Jeremiah 1:12)  Although Piper began to display some symptoms around 12:30 in the morning, they were light and we were able to sleep most of the night through!  Isn’t God good!  She woke up calm and alert and was even able to walk into the kitchen with a little more than a stabilizing hand from me.
James 1:25 talks about the person “who continues to study God’s perfect teachings… who remain committed to them.” (God’s Word ©)  The pastor of the church in Jerusalem who was known to have callouses on his knees due to the hours he spent on them in prayer, then stated that “People like that don’t merely listen and forget, they actually DO what God’s teachings (or Word) say.”  It is interesting to see that the word translated “DO” or “doer” in other translations literally means “a performer, a poet, a maker, a producer or an author.” (Strong’s and Thayer’s)  Webster defined a Poet as “a maker, an inventor; one who finds out something new; one who contrives and produces anything not before existing.”
Therefore it would seem that James was saying that when we “DO” the Word, we make it happen.  We make it turn the negative situation we’re facing around.  We initiate the power that changes it from what we currently see into something new that we hadn’t seen yet!  Does that sound a little incredible to you?  Well, that is precisely what happened to me and my wife last night.  By placing all my marbles on the doctor’s word, I was actually closing the door for God to perform His Word for us.  When I finally yielded to Him, I released His influence into our lives and He was free to “DO” His Word for us.  I guess you could call that a “Double DO!”  When I did the Word, He was able to “DO” what we needed at that time.
So… how does your weekend look to you today?  Is there anything going on where you need to “DO” His Word so that something new can be seen in your life?  I like it that our heavenly Father loves us and trusts us enough that He has given us an active role in our faith.  That would mean that we don’t always need to find ourselves in a defensive mode, but instead taking on an offensive position where we “DO” the Word and thereby allow the power of God to make something new in the situations of our lives.  Have a great weekend.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting To DO today?”

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Little Things

Yesterday I mentioned about the used transport chair that we were able to pick up for my wife.  The chair was really in pretty good condition except that one of the foot supports was bent and wouldn’t allow my wife’s right foot to stay off the ground.  So I put on my thinking cap and was able to make a few adjustments and now it works just fine.  When I finished working on the chair I looked at the clock and noticed that I had enough time to either wash my wife’s hair or take her for a walk before starting dinner.

The weather had turned nice again and the sun and clear blue skies were beckoning us.  Guess which activity I choose?  Your right… the walk!  Since it was a little chilly I put a vest on my wife over her Giants hoodie, helped her into the chair and took off down the walkway outside our front door.  I told her that we would walk out to the front street and see how she was doing at that point.  Well she loved it!  From the minute we went outside she had a huge smile on her face and we ended up walking to our community lake and strolling through the neighborhood around our home.
When we got to the lake we just stopped and enjoyed the warmth of the sun and the sights around the lake.  It had been months since we walked around the lake.  The last time we had been there, I actually drove over to it and then we slowly walked on one side of the water and Piper was exhausted.  This time the chair made it to be quite a pleasurable time for both of us. 
As we gazed over the lake I just relished all the sights.  I even found myself looking for the three ducks and unfriendly goose that live there.  (I am not a big fan of aggressive geese!  That’s why we always brought the dog.  Our resident big white goose would never come near us when Mandie was there!)  Everything looked simply marvelous.  The water fountain, the trees, the clear blue water in the vacant swimming pools at the adjacent recreation area, the park like setting and the peaceful calm of the day.  It was just Piper and I and the goodness of God present in the scenery all around us!
As I read from the book of James this morning, I was reminded of that peaceful walk.  Verse 17 from chapter one tells us that “Every good present and perfect gift comes from above, from the Father who made the sun, moon and stars (even that goose!).  The Father doesn’t change like the shifting shadows produced by the sun and the moon.” (God’s Word ©)  All those “little things” that blessed us yesterday were made by our loving heavenly Father to enjoy.  And those “little things” are all around us everywhere we go!  All we have to do is to stop and look for them.  We could have hurriedly walked to and from the lake yesterday, but we didn’t.  We took the time to stop and enjoy the moment that God had given us.  Both my wife and I went home with a whole new outlook.  Before we had gone for the walk, my wife had been dozing off for most of the day.  Once we went out, she returned with a smile, energy and love for life.  For me, it was as if all the shackles of the day had fallen off and joy, strength and purpose for life had returned.
Those “little things” made all the difference to us, and they can do the same for you.  God made them just for you to enjoy.  He never tires from or changes His desires to bless you.  So stop and look around yourself today.  Look for and find those “little things” that surround you.  Then remember to thank Him for those good presents and perfect gifts that He has provided for you!  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What Little Things am I expecting To See today?”

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

It's All About Who You Know

One of the negative side-effects of the great weather that we experienced over the weekend was that I was becoming stir crazy and wanted to get outside and go for a long walk!  But my wife’s current situation and her inability to walk even short distances quickly snuffed out the practicality of that desire.  As I thought about it on Sunday, I suddenly had the inspiration of a transport chair.  I was also pretty sure that Medi-Cal would cover it.  Although I had been ruthlessly denying any need for such a device, the reality of its benefits and the freedom that it would enable us to have overcame my stubbornness.

Well, to make a short story even shorter…  After doing a little research I remembered a friend who is a thrift store/garage sale expert (I could say “junkie” but “expert” sounds more impressive!)  All it took was one call and she found a used (and not too abused) chair for $10.00 bucks!  I started the Medi-Cal process today, but this used chair will work great until we get a new one.
Our friend who found the chair is an older lady who was very compassionate and helpful to me during the early days of my wife’s diagnosis.  She stood by my side and offered all kinds of practical and emotional help when family members tended to go the other direction.  After delivering the chair yesterday, we sat down to talk and she reminded me of what she had gone through when her husband had suffered a long sickness and early death and strongly encouraged me to take care of myself.  She also shared some potential courses of action that I could take in the care of my wife.  Some of these ideas which came from her own belief system and experience, I did not agree with but told her that I would prayerfully consider her thoughts.
This morning as I lay in my bed, I began to review our conversation and was impressed to get up and look at Proverbs 3:5-6.  When I grabbed my trusty God’s Word Bible, I turned to Proverbs and read in a personalized manner: 
“Trust in Me Jim, with all your heart 
 and lean not unto your own understanding. 
 In all your ways acknowledge Me,
 and I will make your paths smooth.”
The one thought that seemed to jump off the page before me was that of not leaning on your own understanding.  According to Strong’s to “lean” is to try and “support yourself.”  As I looked at that I instantly recalled an incident when I was helping my wife drink her hot cocoa at breakfast.  When I leaned across the table I had to support myself near my right elbow, but for some reason I experienced a sharp pain when I put my weight on that area against the kitchen table.  The remembrance of that mishap seemed to say that this was an example of leaning on our own understanding.  Depending on yourself can sometimes lead to a painful experience.
Then I remembered another series of events that left me with some long term damage.  Soon after my wife and I were married, I began a photography business (while working part time at our Baptist Church as their Youth Minister).  During this time I picked up a regular contract shooting pictures for the Catholic Diocese Newspaper in our local county.  During that two or so year period, I covered countless ordinations, special services and events in churches, at retreats, and at convents and also took pictures to go along with special articles that we being written for the paper.  It was a little funny as I look back now as I had a small MGB convertible with very little storage room.  Many times I had to bungee down one of my equipment cases to the trunk rack.  I would comment that the stuff in that case strapped to the rack was probably worth more than the entire car!
Anyway, in order to get the best angle for many of the pictures during services, I needed to be in front of the pews between them and the alter, but I couldn’t distract those in attendance.  So, I would simply sit (or lean) on my knees throughout the long services.  After a while I began to have some problems with pain in my knees which lasted for numerous years after that and still occasionally flares up to this day.
This morning I was able to relate how that experience was similar to one’s leaning on their own understanding.  Depending on what you think, see or have experienced instead of depending or leaning on the Lord for His understanding can result in a long term negative situation for you.
All those memories this morning also helped me to see the need to stick to my knowledge of God’s understanding of my wife’s health.  In conversing with our friend yesterday I did gently inform her that I could not base my current actions on her experience, but on what I believe to be the truth as stated in God’s Word.  To me God’s Word is infallible and I must “lean” on it, especially when things in the natural tend to look alarming! 
For me Proverbs 3:5-6 can be summed up by saying “It really doesn’t matter what you may see with your eyes.  What matters is WHAT or better yet WHO you know in your heart.”  This is the course of action that I will continue to take with my wife.  Yes I realize that I do have to make sure that I take better care of myself, but I will never give up on God and His will for her.  How about you today?  Are you wavering over something in your life?  Let me suggest then, that you take some extra time in making sure that you thoroughly know God’s will for your situation.  (Remember that God’s will is in His Word – and faith begins where the will of God is known) Then be strong and let Him “make your paths smooth” or “direct your paths” as the NKJV states.  Have a great day!  Stay (or get) in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Sudden Change!

February burst on the scene with sneak peak of springtime!  The days here in northern California were fairly warm (high sixties to low seventies), the skies were deep blue, the air was fresh and optimism was running high!  Then in a flash… it was gone!  Yesterday broke overcast and cold and today we awoke to the pitter-pater of rain falling against our bedroom window.  Begrudgingly, I folded up my shorts and retired them back in to the dresser and pulled out my jeans once again.
I know that I have nothing to complain about when you compare the weather that we have been having against the snow, ice and rain storms that have been hitting the east coast.  I guess we are kind of spoiled and just expect the warm weather to stick around!  As I sat at the kitchen table this morning, I was staring outside at the wet plants in our patio and began to think about how quick one’s fortunes can change.
It’s like our recent weather.  Just when you are getting used to the comfort of the warm, dry days it suddenly changes and the cold and rain appear!  I was actually surprised when I heard the rain this morning as I had thought that it wasn’t supposed to rain for a few more days.  Then I had to chuckle as I remembered that I had diligently covered all our tender plants outside to guard them against the morning frost.  This would be the second time I got caught unaware and had to dry the sheets!
Have you ever had that happen in your life?  Have you ever been caught unaware when a sudden change is thrust upon you?  How do you react when these things occur?  Do you shrug it off as part of life, utter a quick “Praise the Lord!” and move on, or do you get caught up in anger or fear?  I John 4:18 declares that “No fear exists where his love is.  Rather, perfect love gets rid of fear…” (God’s Word ©)  I am under the belief that most anger is caused by fear.  Fear that we can’t handle what’s going on, fear that we might lose something, or fear that we’ll be left alone. 
I John 4:8 tells us that “God is love” and then verse 17 states that “We are just like him with regard to love.”  (God’s Word ©)  These verses make it pretty clear that we are to walk in love just as He is love.  When we walk in love there is no room for fear to sneak in!  Now I understand that most of us probably would agree with this when it comes to relating to others, but have you taken this truth into consideration when it comes to relating to yourself?
The complete rendering of I John 4:8 says “The person who doesn’t love doesn’t know God because God is love.”  (God’s Word)  The interesting part of this verse is that the two words we translate as love are actually two different words.  When John talked about the person who doesn’t love, he was talking about one who doesn’t put love into action.  The word there means “to welcome, to entertain.” (Thayer’s Greek Definitions)  It infers that we “do” something!  The other love in the verse that is associated with God describes who He is.
So in other words, we have to “do” love toward others as well as toward ourselves.  If we go back to my original point, we would then come to the conclusion that if we walk in love toward ourselves (trusting God and loving ourselves in the same way that He sees and loves us) then we won’t be afraid of sudden changes.  Instead we will respond to the change with confidence and faith.  We’ll know that we have nothing to fear because we “can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13 NKJV) and that “Jesus has become our wisdom sent from God.” (I Corinthians 1:30 God’s Word ©).  With those two scriptures alone, we can have victory in any situation! 
We can know in the face of any change that we have the strength and wisdom available to us to handle it and move on in life.  Fear can have a paralyzing effect on you, but love, His love in us, will set you free and motivate you to go beyond anything you could ever imagine possible before!  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… What Wisdom and Strength am I expecting today?”


Monday, February 18, 2013

Being A Trooper...

My wife is such a trooper!  Since she has been exhibiting many of the side effects of adjustment to the new medicine that she is on, she has been unable to climb up the stairs to our large walk-in shower or step up and over into the tub downstairs.  So, with that in mind, I had to devise a different method to wash her hair while in a seated position.  What I came up with was a large bowl and water tumbler.  This is where the trooper part comes in!  (Kind of like the way that the Cavalry riders would sit and ride on horseback for hours at a time while putting up with the various conditions of the trail without complaint)

She just sits there and lets me pour the warm water over her head, apply the shampoo and then rinse.  I’ve used this procedure a few times now and got it down enough so as to not soak her nor flood the bathroom anymore!  Things get a little complicated after the initial wash as I need to help her to change any wet clothes.  But through it all, she trusts me enough to manipulate her body so as to get the job completed and she is warm and cozy!  Then when all is finished, she rewards my efforts with a big smile to which I respond by laughing and shaking my head while thanking her for trusting me!
At this point I am not too sure that she would be as comfortable with anyone else doing the job.  One thing that I have learned is to be patient and go with the flow.  I try to stay sensitive to her body language and work gently, allowing her to do as much on her own as is possible for her at the time.  I’ve noticed that most others, who try to assist her when walking through a tight doorway or even in sitting down or getting up, want to do everything for her by applying brute strength to get the job done.  Not only is this dangerous for the helper but it makes Piper immediately tense up and get nervous (which in turn makes the task even harder to complete!).
I think that Piper demonstrates the way that our heavenly Father wants us to respond when He reaches out to help us.  I Peter 5:5-7 tells us that:
“God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God,
 That He may exult you in due time,
 Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” (NKJV)

It takes a humble attitude of the heart to trust someone enough to let them care for you.  On the other hand, it also takes a humble attitude to care for someone in a way that is best for the individual and not according to what is best for you.  Sometimes the helper needs to slow down and listen and watch for the unsaid needs of the one they are attempting to assist.  I learned a little lesson about that one time when I was helping my wife up and down the stairs.  I noticed that when I offered her my hand that I would take her outstretched arm and turn it around to fit the positioning of my hand.  She was not real comfortable with that position, but I was, and it slowed the whole process down.
Then as I thought about it for a moment, I decided that it was best for me to change my position in order to facilitate her comfort while still affording the same level of support.  That may seem like an insignificant gesture, but it tended to make a big difference for her as she is more willing to take my offering of assistance and physical support.
As I sang during the Praise and Worship service yesterday the words I was uttering rang true to today’s subject.  “I’m running to Your arms, the riches of Your love will always be enough, and nothing compares to Your embrace!”  I want to be humble enough to allow the Lord total freedom and access to me and my life.  I also am confident enough in Him that I know that He won’t impose himself on me, but is there to lift me up in ways that will only benefit my personal well-being.   I want to be a trooper for Him just like my wife is such a trooper when I try to assist her.  As she knows that I won’t knowingly hurt her, I know that our heavenly Father would never do anything to hurt me.
Take this thought with you as you face this new week.  Be at peace because you have firsthand experience that the riches of His love are always enough and that nothing in this world can come close to comparing to his embrace!  I love to see the reassuring look of trust that radiates from my wife’s eyes as I assist her, and more importantly, I love to see and feel the trust that I see in my heavenly Father as I allow Him to care for me.  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Friday, February 15, 2013

Good Things

Over the last year or so I have gotten in to the habit of writing “What Good Things am I expecting today?” at the very top of my daily Bible study notes page.  But I realized this morning that once I had written it down that I would get so captivated by the good Word that I was reading that I would many times forget the thought that I started out my day with!

But not today!  I awoke looking for peace as I was a little apprehensive as to what the day had in store for me.  I didn’t mention it in my Valentine’s post, but my wife had another seizure when I was getting her ready for the day yesterday.  It was somewhat lighter than previous ones so I did not call 911 and she bounced back rather quickly, although she slept for a good portion of the day.  But never-the-less, I was dealing with the memories today.  After conferencing with our doctor we increased her evening dosage of the new med she is on and I was wondering how this day would begin.
As soon as I wrote down my declaration of the Good Things that I was expecting today, I felt something jump inside of me!  Then as I perused through Hebrews 13, I came to verse nine and read: “For it is a Good Thing that the heart be established with grace.” (KJV)  That made my heart jump even higher!  It is a Good Thing that we be established in His unmerited favor and love in action in our lives!
When I neared the end of the letter I camped out at verse 21 and took in the glorious sights and truth that are there.  It states: “May this God of peace prepare you to do every Good Thing he wants.” (God’s Word ©)  It would seem that God wants us established in the Good Things that are available through His grace and that He has Good Things in store for us to accomplish because of this grace!  Those words gave me another jolt and I realized that I had been looking at all the wrong things since the moment I had gotten up about an hour previous to this time.
I had been looking at what could possible go wrong again this morning instead of the Good Things that would cause things to go right!  A few moments later I came across a quote by the beloved children’s writer Dr. Seuss who made the comment in one of his books that “You’ll miss the best (or good) things if you keep your eyes shut!”
I realized that I had allowed myself to get so caught up in the things that were happening in the natural around me, that I had inadvertently shut my eyes to the Good Things of God’s Word!  Well… I might have been born at night, but I wasn’t born last night!  It didn’t take me long at all to see the folly of my ways and make an instant adjustment!  And with that adjustment came a “peace which goes far beyond anything that we can imagine (in the natural)…” (Philippians 4:7 God’s Word ©)
Now I am allowing my heart to be reestablished in His grace so that I can see and dwell on the Good Things around me.  And let me tell you… I sure feel a lot better and much more positive about the outlook of my day!
So… don’t let yourself be like a character in one of Dr. Seuss’ books who tried to read with his eyes shut!  Open ‘em up, but make sure they are looking at the right things - the Good Things of God!  Then you’ll see everything around you through the eyes of His grace!  Give it a try this weekend and see if you don’t find yourself with a better outlook on life!  Have a great weekend!  Stay in tune to His word and keep asking yourself… “What Good Things am I expecting today?”

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day

I was never so glad as to see the first vestiges of the new morning light as I was today.  My wife had a pretty active night as she had been exhibiting many side effects of the full dose of the new seizure control medicine that she has been on for a few days.  Most of the night was spent with tremors and jerks and needless to say, did not result in anything close to a solid night’s sleep!  I got up numerous times and knelt by her side to check on her and pray, but her eyes were sharp and she was very responsive, so I felt secure that it was just her body adjusting to the new prescription.

As the light began to chase away the shadows of darkness this morning, I felt a surge of expectation and the warmth of God’s love and care filling the room.  Then as my feet hit the floor I was reminded of Psalm 30:5 where the Psalmist declared: “… weeping may endure for a night, but JOY comes in the morning.” (NKJV)  The visible sunlight peeking around the slats on the blinds and the thought of His joy immediately served to burn off the tiredness from the night and re-ignite a sense of purpose in the passion I have for taking care of the woman that I love.
I had a fleeting thought yesterday about that line in our wedding ceremony that talked about “in sickness and in health” and I had to laugh as I recalled a couple of relatives who had the audacity to doubt my resolve to stick with my wife in her time of need.  There never was a question or doubt.  When you love someone, you just do what needs to be done without any thought to one’s own self.  Everything else takes a back seat.
I guess that’s kind of a good thought for Valentine’s Day!  As believers we have the best example of love.  It is found in John 3:16 where Jesus said “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  (NIV)  Our heavenly Father loved us so much that He gave His best.  Then He turned around and put that same love into us. (See Romans 5:5)
So it looks like we really don’t have any excuse except but to love by giving our best to those close to our hearts, especially today!  Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day with that special one.  But don’t stop at today!  Keep giving your best even through the rough and tough times and let His joy come and fill you each and every morning!”  Then with that daily dose of joy, you will find yourself happily asking… “What am I expecting today?”


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ash Wednesday

For many Christians, today marks the official beginning of the Easter season.  Ash Wednesday marks the start of the forty day period (Sunday’s excluded) before Easter called Lent.  Many prepare for the celebration of the resurrection of Christ by observing this time as a period of fasting, repentance, moderation, and spiritual discipline.  As a young child growing up in the Catholic Church, I can clearly recall Lent as being a time of fasting from meat on Fridays and the personal fasting of something tangible be it candy, certain TV programs or anything that was special to me in remembrance or honor of Christ’s sufferings before and during His crucifixion.  It was definitely a focused time where we looked in earnest at His physical suffering for us.

As I look back at those times, I think I can honestly say that even though I didn’t fully understand the significance of what Jesus did on the cross for us at that time in my young life, Easter tended to be more of an important celebration in my Christian walk than it has throughout most of my adult life!  I read an article from a website called this morning that began its explanation of the Catholic celebration of Ash Wednesday by stating: “The time has now come in the Church year for the solemn observance of the great central act of history, the redemption of the human race by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”  To me this statement perfectly sums up our modern day Christian celebration of Easter and legitimizes a period of personal introspection for us to look at our individual understanding of and thanksgiving for all that Jesus has provided for us through His finished work of the cross.  This would include what happened on both sides of the cross.
While I may not personally agree with the Catholic tradition and emphasis behind their practices of Lent, I do feel that it is a time to look both at the tremendous physical abuse that Jesus took upon Himself on the way to Calvary as He became sin on our behalf, and then to celebrate all that He has provided for us once on the other side of the cross and seated at the right hand of God in His current role and position.  (See Hebrews 12:1-2)  Once again, there is a balance between our observation of the physical sufferings of Christ that He endured for us on this earth, and the “joy that was set before Him” (Hebrews12:2 NKJV) in His place of victory (and ours!) seated in the place of authority in the throne room of heaven.
So what am I proposing with all this?  Simply that it might be good to do some things over the next forty days before Easter that would cause you to focus with a heart of thanksgiving and praise on Him for all that He did for you.  It might just give you a whole new enriching experience in your celebration and understanding of Resurrection Sunday on March 31st.  As a Christian, have you ever really taken the time to put into words what and why you believe as you do?  Is it just a listing of what your church believes that is written on the back of your Sunday Bulletin, or is it a personal, life changing message that is alive with the power and love of God pulsating throughout your very existence?  Hummm… something to consider during these days before Easter!  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What (and WHY) am I expecting today?”

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


I had an interesting experience early this morning.  My wife had a restless night and my sleep had been on and off from about 3:30 AM.  At around 6:00 I found myself lying on my back in one of those half awake and half asleep modes with my mind going in about twenty different directions!  It wasn’t that I was necessarily worrying about anything, my mind was just very active on a whole range of unrelated subjects, and I really wanted to relax and sleep for another hour or so before I got up.  Then out of seemingly nowhere the name of Jesus popped into my thoughts.  It was just like one of those old “When E.F Hutton speaks, people listen” commercials from the eighties.  The volume of all the other voices that were resounding in my head were suddenly turned down low and name of Jesus became the dominant expression.

At that moment the restlessness that I had been experiencing left and a peace and a sense of faith in His name and in His Word began to prevail in me.  Those feelings stayed with me for the next hour and a half and helped me to rise up with a song of joy in my heart and new found confidence in the promises we have been speaking over our situation.  A little while later as I was finishing up my study in the book of Hebrews, I was reading from the beginning of chapter twelve in S. Way’s translation of the epistle and it dawned on me that “that was what happened to me this morning in bed!”  Hebrews 12:2 declares, “and with strong endurance let us race along the course that stretches before us, turning our eyes away from all else toward Jesus, to Him who gives the first impulse to our faith, to Him who brings it to final maturity.”
It was the word “impulse” that put it all together for me.  According to Webster’s first dictionary (which was in effect when this translation was written) “impulse” is defined as “the effect of motion… a force communicated; influence acting on the mind; impression; supposed supernatural influence on the mind.”  That was what happened in my thoughts when the name of Jesus suddenly entered in.  That “impulse,” that “supernatural impression on my mind” made all those other distracting, sleep robbing thoughts quiet down in the face of everything that His name stands for!
The impulse of that name was like the focusing mechanism on my 75-300mm telephoto zoom lens.  There are times that you can focus right through a close subject in order to zoom in on something in the distance.  When the picture of the name of Jesus came into view in my mind, the other subjects suddenly became blurred unrecognizable objects as my mind’s eye traveled to the new dominating subject that had come on to the scene.  That example goes along with the God’s Word translation of Hebrews 12:2 when it states that “We must focus on Jesus…”
So, in case you find yourselves distracted under a barrage of countless unrelated thoughts that rob you of your peace and faith, I have a solution!  Focus on Jesus!  Let that first impulse of the power of His name make such an impression on you that all the other thoughts have to quiet down and leave your mind from lack of interest!  Let His supernatural influence bring peace, faith and rest unto you!  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What IMPULSE am I expecting today?”


Monday, February 11, 2013

State Your Case

Well, I had another one of “those” weekends!  Saturday started out with a bang as my wife had another seizure just before I got her up for the day.  I wasn’t going to call 911 as everything look like past incidents until she started spitting up some blood.  I have to confess, that my usually solid and calm demeanor went out the window on that one and I grabbed the phone and made the emergency call.  When the paramedics arrived they let me know that the blood was just the aftereffects of a split lip!  That good report helped to get me back in the saddle again.  It was also interesting to note that I knew the fire crew and the ambulance team from past calls.  It was like we were old friends responding to help each other!

Once I got to the hospital, I was beat!  After reporting in, I dragged myself into the emergency waiting room while they prepped my wife.  As I walked in, I tiredly smiled to a couple of older ladies who were also waiting there.  After sitting heavily in the chair with an audible sigh, one of the women turned to me with a compassionate smile and said, “just what you need on a Saturday, right?”  Her words helped me to straighten up and get my shield of faith back into its proper position.  After a few quick moments they called me in and I was able to return the encouragement to the woman who had spoken to me as I walked past her.
Saturday and Sunday were just long days to me.  My wife was very weak and needed a lot of physical attention.  I also found myself being very sensitive to her every movement and sound.  This has happened after each of her seizures, but this weekend seemed even worse.  It was like my whole being became an antenna ready to receive notice of something wrong so I could instantly jump to her assistance!
This morning I was still listening for anything unusual as I went into my study before she woke up, so that I could spend time in the Word.  Once I sat down and began to read from Hebrews chapter eleven, the Lord began to remind me of all the little blessings and confirmations of His faithfulness that He had sent to me over the weekend.  That brought a calming attitude of peace into the room and helped me to remember that even in the midst of alarming situations that He is still in charge!
I had also been praying a lot for physical and emotional strength over the weekend and as I delved deeper into the chapter my faith was renewed again and I could feel strength being pumped into my very being!  Then I came to Hebrews 11:11 and read, “Through faith did Sarah herself also receive bodily power for the conception of seed, even when past the age of maternity, simply because she felt that He who had given the promise was true and faithful.  (S. Way)  I have always been amazed at Sarah’s faith, but today it seemed even more significant to me.  Here was an older woman (kind of like the lady who spoke to me in the emergency waiting room) whose first reaction was to laugh at the audacity of the angel who she heard telling Abraham that she would have a child in her advanced age.  (See: Genesis 18:13)  But then something changed inside of her and she was able to simply believe and eventually see the answer to God’s promise.
Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible says when talking about Sarah that “Even her strong incredulity (ie; refusal to believe) was overcome, and although everything seemed to render what was announced impossible, and though she was so much disposed to laugh at the very suggestion at first, yet her unbelief was overcome, and she ultimately credited the divine promise.”  I think that Sarah must have just come to the place in the face of what looked like total impossibility, and said: “What the heck!  If I believe I’ve got nothing to lose and all to gain!”  And she threw in her faith with her husband’s!
That’s sort of the same place that I came to this morning that finally helped me to calm down, feel stronger and see the light!  My wife and I have come this far and I am not about to give up now!  God is faithful to His promises and I choose to keep on believing!  The Word says that Sarah believed simply because she felt that He who had given the promise was true and faithful.”  It is as easy as that.  Like Sarah I don’t have to try and figure out everything that seems to be happening or not happening!  I do not need to take into account how increasingly serious things may look, but to simply trust in the ONE who cannot lie. 
That’s it for me!  The case is settled.  How about you today?  Are you still deliberating about the outcome of a promise that God has given you in His Word?  I would encourage you to have the simple faith of an old woman and see the answer that you are standing in faith for.  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What GOOD REPORTS am I expecting today?”

Friday, February 8, 2013

Walk the Line

“I keep a close watch on this heart of mine
 I keep my eyes wide open all the time
 I keep the ends out for the tie that binds
 Because you’re mine, I walk the line.

 As sure as night is dark and day is light
 I keep you in my mind both day and night
 And happiness I’ve known proves that it’s right
 Because you’re mine, I walk the line” *

They are many thoughts as to the actual meaning behind this Johnny Cash song that he wrote in 1956.  He once stated that it was written soon after his first marriage as a statement of commitment to his bride.  Some have argued that it was really about the struggle with drugs that he waged throughout his career, while others who looked through the eyes of his deep Christian faith, thought that it talked about his constant battle between the two lives that he lived.  One as an entertainer in the world of show business and the other as a Christian.
The song actually does say a lot concerning the life that Christians are to live on this earth.  We really do have to “Walk the Line” every day.  We actually are stuck between the reality of two worlds, the kingdom of God, and the natural one in which we reside.   This dilemma has become quite personal to me over the last three years.  It has caused me to learn another valuable lesson, one that I thought I understood only to find out, when the shoe was on the other foot… that there were a lot of areas in which I found myself at either end of the two extremes of existence.
Back in the late seventies/early ‘80’s I had returned to college with the intent of continuing on to Seminary after I had gained my degree.  In one of my family psychology classes our final assignment was to write an in depth research paper on an alternate life style, followed up with an oral report.  As I had already been a Christian and a Youth Minister for about five years and my wife was about 8 months pregnant with our first child, I gallantly decided to research and present a well-documented paper defining “The Christian Family as an Alternate Lifestyle.”
Everything was going well as I read many books and papers on the subject from a variety of Christian authors, Pastors and Christian Psychiatrists and counselors.  Feeling well fortified, I wrote and turned in my paper and felt adequately prepared for my upcoming oral presentation before the class until…  the class before my scheduled date to give my report.  At the end of that session the female Professor who was a very well educated instructor, author and Psychologist with an active practice, picked up the assignment sheet and began to read off the names of those who were scheduled to give their reports at the following class.
When she got to my name my heart stopped as she paused, looked up at me and stated, “Oh, I can’t wait to hear your report!”  I just kind of swallowed hard, gave her a shaky smile and nodded my head.  At that point I knew that I would be in for a lively discussion!  In the end, that oral presentation became a foundational part of my determination to raise my family in a way that I believed God’s Word outlines for Christians to successfully “Walk the Line” in their daily lives.  It also helped to me to grow up real fast and learn to trust the Holy Spirit in the midst of the verbal debate when most of the twenty some students in the class readily disagreed with my findings.
During the barrage of questions that I fielded that day, and the conflicting worldly views presented by others, I was able to keep a smile on my face and answer all questions with purpose, backed by statistics and with a heart that demonstrated my unflinching belief in what I was proposing.  I believe that my report in that fairly liberal Psychology Department class opened the eyes of some of my fellow student’s understanding and helped them to see another perspective on life.  After that class I actually ended up developing a pretty good relationship with the instructor and with many of the other students.  I was very disappointed when the instructor left the school the semester before I graduated.
As Christians we daily must “Walk the Line” between our faith in the supernatural assistance of our heavenly Father through the promises in His Word, and the natural reality of the world and its effects in our lives.  Since we have taken a stand for the healing of my wife’s symptoms based on the finished work of the cross, we have experienced people’s reactions from both sides of the line we have chosen to walk.  On one side there have been the loving and sincere Christians who have been so deeply involved in the expectation of the power of God working in healing Piper that they have totally neglected the physical part of the symptoms of the disease and the strain that we face 24/7.  It is almost like they feel that if they acknowledge that part of the situation, that they would be destroying our faith and theirs.

On the other hand, we have also seen those who are so deeply involved in wanting to minister to the physical symptoms of the attack on her health, that they neglect even the possibility of the healing power of God working on my wife’s behalf. 
I have come to believe that there is a perfect balance between the two sides of the line.  The writer of the book of Hebrews alludes to this theory in chapter six, verses 10-12.  In the S. Way translation he talks about how the Lord won’t forget the reader’s “practical Christianity… which you have displayed for His name, nor how you have rendered service to His consecrated ones, and are rendering service still.”  Then he chides them for being “spiritual dullards” and encourages them to “display the same earnestness for the full attainment of all you have a right to hope for till you reach the goal, as you do display in practical religion.”
He was encouraging his readers to “Walk the Line” and be in balance between the two worlds they lived in.  Apparently they were very active and proficient in helping others in their church when they needed physical assistance, but where quite weak in their faith for believing for the attainment of God’s promises that He has provided for them through Jesus.
How successful are you in “Walking the Line” between the two worlds you live in?  Have you discovered the balance in living the successful life that God wants you to live?  I’ve spent my entire adult life ministering to people with needs, but I don’t think I fully understood what many of them were going through, until I have found myself on the other side of the conversation in dealing with the physical realities of life.  I know that I will definitely minister a more balanced Gospel from now on!  Has it changed my basic beliefs and understanding of the supernatural power of God working for us?  Not one bit!  But now I understand that there are better ways to encourage those in need in more of a balanced approach that will better minister to the total needs of the individuals involved.  I guess I’ve learned the hard way to “Walk the Line!”  How about you?  Have a great weekend.  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

* I Walk The Line by Johnny Cash & Rodney Crowell - Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC