Our New Home

Our New Home
Fall is defintely in the air!

Friday, May 31, 2013

YOU Are Important!

Have you ever considered how important YOU are to the kingdom of God?  Now I am not just talking about how much God loves you, but how important your role is in the propagation of the Gospel.  Your life, your actions, your words and even your thoughts have major repercussions in how others see and either receive or reject the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

When we became Christians we were not only given a new life, but charged with the responsibility of and given the necessary power of the Holy Ghost to share what we got!  Pretty awesome, don’t you think, that our heavenly Father would so entrust us with such an important task?  He has given to each of us the ability (and the tools) to share the decision of life or death with those we come into contact with!  Romans 1:16 says that the gospel of Christ “is the power of God unto salvation (Greek, “soteria”, meaning “safety”, “preservation”, “healing”, and “soundness” – Scofield)  to everyone that believeth…” (KJV)

As I was studying from Paul’s second letter to Timothy this morning, I saw clearly that the attacks that have come against my character over the last few years were not pointed directly to me, but toward the Gospel life that we have chosen (to attempt) to live.  And like I mentioned in a post a couple of days ago, it is not through my power, my smarts or by my personal retribution that I will be able to correct what I may feel needs to be changed in order to correct a wrong.
2 Timothy 1:8 says we go through these persecutions by the power of God.  Paul wrote: “Instead by God’s power, join me in suffering for the sake of the Good News.” (God’s Word ©)  I know of many fellow Pastors who have been intensely hurt by the words and/or actions of a few members of their congregations.  Some of them actually left the ministry because of those hurts.  Many times as ministers of the Gospel (be we licensed, ordained, lay leaders or just members of the congregation) we will be the recipients of the angry emotions of those that we reach out to minister to.
At these times we have to remember our commission and the ONE whom we represent and not allow ourselves to take those hard words and/or actions personally.  For many of us though, this is easier said than done!  I have personally felt this pressure from individuals in our congregations over the years, but have always been able to trust in the Lord for whatever the outcome and lived through it.  What totally blindsided me though, was when the attack came through our immediate family.  That was something that I did not expect.  But knowing that the attack was really against the Gospel we have chosen to follow and not against us personally has made the experience easier to handle and the healing quicker to achieve.
The key to any attack is to remember that we never go through it alone!  The love of our heavenly Father and His power are always there to assist us in whatever stage of the experiences of life that we are in.  He has given each of us a very important job and will do whatever is necessary to support us in the success of our daily missions for Him!
Remember… YOU are VERY important to Him and are a KEY to the success of His quest to have His message touch every individual in this world.  Kind of makes you feel pretty special doesn’t it?  Well… it should!  YOU are SPECIAL to Him!  Have a great weekend.  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Same Page

As I was studying the Word of God as written in I Timothy chapter six this morning, I came to the realization of how important it is for people of faith to be on the same page!  In I Timothy 6:17 Paul told his young protégé to encourage certain members of his congregation to “not place their confidence (or expectations) in anything as uncertain as riches.  Instead, they should place their confidence (or expectations) in God who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.” (God’s Word ©)

Paul was saying that there were individuals in Timothy’s church that had the foundation of their expectations in something other than on God and the truth of His Word.  He was inferring that these people were on a different page and therefore out of step with the rest of the congregation.  It would seem that he was declaring that conflict will arise when different people have different expectations!
As I meditated on this revelation I saw that this has been the very thing that has kept us on a separate path from those who have given us the most trouble with regular misunderstandings as we stand in faith for my wife’s total and complete healing.  Now I can see why they find it so difficult to be in agreement and in support of our stand and subsequent lifestyle.  We’re not on the same page!  And once again, it was a course of action taken on by my wife that came to the rescue!
Years ago we had some close relatives that we’re sort of wandering between many different churches.  They would stay for a while at one and then move on to another and kept repeating this pattern.  Previous to this, they had left the church that they had been very active and leaders in for probably at least 15 or twenty years.  For some reason, once they left, they did not seem interested in attending the church (whose tenants of faith they agreed with) that my wife and I had solidly hooked up with.  While many within the family had given up hope that these relatives would ever settle back down in a good church (and especially in ours!), my wife felt otherwise and began a one person force to “pray them in” to our church.  And wouldn’t you know… against all odds and comments by the other members of her family… these close relatives began to attend our church, settled in and are still there!
So, with that past victory in mind, I am beginning as a one man force to “pray these individuals” onto the same page as my wife and I when it comes to her healing.  Over the last few years I have repeatedly attempted to share with them why we do and believe the things that we do only to see these explanations seemingly bounce off closed doors.  But today I understood that only Jesus can change the foundations of their expectations and bring us into agreement and harmony.  Therefore into His hands do I place the healing of this conflict.  After all, I Timothy 2:5 states that “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;” (KJV)
I figure that it is time to let God be God and give Him the freedom to do what He does best!  Do you have any similar incidents in your life that may need to come to the same resolution?  Are there those with whom you are not on the same page?  Maybe it is time to come together and be grounded on the same foundation on which to place your expectations for God’s best in your lives!  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Past, Present and Future

I wrote yesterday about the unchangeableness of God and His Word.  I mentioned how even though the situations and circumstances of our lives may change or shift like the shadows of the sun, that He is always the same, with the same answers and the same power to initiate those answers.  The one thing that I would need to add is my belief that even though He can do the same in our current situation as He did for us in the past, we cannot experience His sameness solely on our memories of the past.

I keep thinking back to a statement made in Duewel’s book that I am reading “Ablaze For God” where he notates that “we cannot minister (or live) today in yesterday’s power.  We cannot accomplish God’s full purpose on memories of past blessings and empowering.  God does not want us to live in the past, but in a moment-by-moment present appropriation of His power.” (Ablaze For God ©1989 by Wesley L. Duewel, Francis Asbury Press, page 84)
I Timothy 4:8 tells us that “Godly living has the promise of life (zoe- absolute fullness of life) now and in the world to come.” (God’s Word ©)  This verse insinuates an active, current and ever-learning and maturing Godly lifestyle.  It goes right along with Paul’s instruction to Timothy in I Timothy 2:2 where he gives “How-To” advice on living a “quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” (God’s Word ©)  As we physically, mentally and emotionally grow in our natural lives, our spiritual life must follow suit (or rather lead the natural process!)
I am closely familiar with many individuals who seem to be stuck in the past.  For many it is a very comfortable place to be.  They’ve already lived it and it is a safe memory and environment to stay in.  But it becomes increasingly more difficult to face the present and the future through the eyes of the past.  It is almost like losing a grip or touch on the reality of the present.  The hard truth is that we live in a world that is constantly changing and not always for the best!  But we have to continue to grow in our faith and understanding of God’s Word in order to successfully handle the experiences of each new day.
Our faith has to be fresh, current in our hearts and exciting to our minds in order to believe for and see His power at work for us today!  This is an ongoing battle that I have had to face with my wife’s current situation.  It is way too easy to keep looking at who she used to be instead of looking through the eyes of faith at who she is today and how much better she’ll be in the future!  If I allow myself to wallow in past memories, I will get stuck and not be able to see God’s plan for her future and mine! 
Now, it is not like I don’t remember the past.  I have pictures of my lovely wife all over the house that depict events from our past that remind me of God’s faithfulness in the history of our relationship as well as serving as a foundation for my faith for her future.  But I also have a current responsibility to her as well as to myself to not stay there, but to move ahead and to keep my eyes on what my heavenly Father is doing now and His plan for our future.  I don’t want to miss what He is expecting of me in the now!
Have you ever considered how your perspective of your past is affecting the steps you are taking today?  Is your past a foundation for your present and future?  When I look back at our past, like I did during my study time this morning, I see without a doubt that God isn’t done with my wife and I yet, and that He has more big plans for us.  I bet that I could say the same thing about you!  What do you think?
Have a good day!  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting TODAY?”

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Green Outlook!

Okay… many of you may be thinking that I had too much fun this weekend and lost it today with the title to this post!  Well, as a matter of fact, we did have a good holiday weekend, and even though it rained yesterday and we woke up to a grey dreary morning today, I am rejoicing! 

Last night was another one of those long nights where I did not sleep too well.  I am not really sure why either!  With the inclement weather yesterday, we were not able to go for our walks.  This combined with our spending a good portion of the afternoon watching the San Francisco Giants game on TV made for a pretty sedate day!  So, maybe my body was just a little restless when we hit the sack!  Therefore I was less than chipper when I arose this morning!
But, when I walked into the kitchen to brew some java that all changed.  As I neared the sink I stopped to gaze outside to our patio and all the plants arrayed around the deck.  At that instant all the grogginess of the night dissolved as I feasted my eyes upon the effects of the rainfall the night before.  Even though the cloudy skies cast a grey tint on everything, the plants sparkled with the raindrops on their leaves, the green branches shimmered, and the red, pink, violet, white and yellow flowers seemed to glow with an uncanny iridescence!
The green plants in the patio and on the deck that were framed by the tall maples and pines beyond our fence seemed to be enriched with life and it changed my whole outlook on the day!  It made me think on Pastor James’s words that he wrote in the first chapter of his epistle.  James 1:17 declares that “Every food gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of changing.” (NKJV)  Another modern translation of that verse says: “in whom there is no inconsistency or shifting shadows.” (International Standard Version)
It was just another reminder of the faithfulness and consistency of God and His Word, no matter how the situations or circumstances in our life may change.  In our neck of the world we have been having some pretty nice weather and then yesterday that all changed!  In the morning we woke up to cloudy, threatening skies.  By mid-morning we had some light rain.  I had gone out early in the day and brought in our summer furniture as I didn’t want the cushions to get wet.
I then brought them back out before dinner as the weather forecast was declaring that the rain had passed.  Oophs!… wrong call!  While we were watching a movie later in the evening I suddenly noticed that it was steadily raining outside!  Well, by then I had my shoes off and figured it was too late to bring the wet, dripping furniture into the house!  That incident just made me think about how fast things around us can change!  We had gone from hot summer type weather where people were crowding to the pools at our neighborhood recreation center, to winter temperatures and steady rain in one day!
But that scene outside our kitchen this morning brought it all into perspective.  When I returned to my study after getting the coffee going, I sat in my chair and opened my sword (ie; bible!) and read from James 1:17.  Then I heard that familiar voice deep inside say, “The present can be filled with uncertainties – unless- you’re trusting in the unchangeableness of God’s Word as the unshakable foundation of your life!”
That verse talks about the shifting shadows that are caused as things get between the sun and where its rays may fall.  Well, the situations and circumstances we face in this life may cause our viewpoint on life to change or be “shaded” from time to time.  But no matter what is happening to us, God’s Word NEVER changes, NEVER shifts and NEVER causes a negative shadow to fall on us who trust in it!  He is ALWAYS faithful and true to His Word.
Even though the skies were no longer sunny, bright and blue this morning, God’s presence was still quite visible as it reflected His glory off the plants in our patio!  So no matter how grey and dreary things may seem in your life today, look for His glory reflected in the things and people around you!  Remember… Circumstances around us may change but in Him there is NO variation or shifting shadows!  Have a great – Son shiny day.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Friday, May 24, 2013

Its Friday!

Well, as I sit here at the kitchen table looking out the window at the clear blue sky, the brightly hued green vegetable plants on our patio, and the glorious maples and tall pines in the distance, I sense an expectancy in the realization that today is Friday!  I’m not sure why it is, but the sixth day of the week is just special to me.  In reality, there is nothing different about it over any other day except for maybe Sunday when we get to go to church.  In my current occupation as a 24 hour caregiver, Friday is just like any other day!  I will perform the same tasks and handle the same responsibilities as I do the other six days of the week.

But still, it is Friday!  Traditionally it is the entrance day to the weekend.  For many it means a couple of days off, although the conventional Monday through Friday, forty hour workweek has changed with the growth of multi-shift operations in industry, the popularization of the 24 hour a day service industry and the Retail sector’s extended hours.  Even though I worked a traditional five day a week secular job for twenty years, my weekends always were busy as I prepared for church service activities on Saturdays and then performed those activities on Sundays, many times at two services.
I guess it is just the old romantic view of the relaxation, recreation and adventure associated with the “weekend” that still captures my emotions!  And like I have been talking about for most of this week, for me it is just an attitude of the heart and mind.  Even though I may be doing the same things (and sometimes more) on the weekends, I still tend to be a little more relaxed than on a weekday.  I notice that I also usually plan dinners that are on the special side for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and will normally enjoy the preparation of them more than mid-week meals.
I think I am just more expectant of good things happening on weekends!  Maybe it is just old habits since I was so focused on church activities on the weekend for so many years, that I tend to feel closer to God from Friday through Sunday…
This morning as I was reading from another book on healing to my wife, I was suddenly enthralled with the potential of our faith in God as we came across a scripture in the chapter entitled: “Dare to Believe God”*.  The verse was from Luke 18:27 and quotes Jesus as He declared: “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” (KJV)  That truth immediately drew me in closely to God’s possibilities for my wife and I in the things that we are believing for!  I guess you could say it was the “Friday Scripture” that we needed to hear today!  It not only encouraged both of us as we read of His faithfulness, but it helped to cement our faith in our seeing His miraculous love in action in our lives this weekend. 
Have you got your “Friday Scripture” yet?  If not, maybe it is time to take a break, pray and have Him give you His Word for you for this weekend.  Whatever you may need is available for you within the pages of His holy Word in your Bible.  So go ahead… Have an adventure in your faith on this Friday!  Then walk in the truth, faithfulness and stability of that Word of adventure this entire weekend!  Have a terrific weekend starting today.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What Word of Adventure am I expecting today?”

 * “The Healers in Your House!” by Kenneth W. Hagin copyright © 2012 Rhema Bible Church AKA Kenneth Hagin Ministries

---------------------------------

4:09 pm- 5/34/13  Hi everyone!  Just an additonal note here that I'll be taking Memorial Day - this coming Monday - 5/27/13 - off.  So I will wish all of you in the states a wonderful, blessed and safe celebration of Memorial Day.  And make sure you take some time to remember all of the brave men and women who have died while in service to our great country!  We'll see you again on Tuesday the 28th! 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

What Is Your Attitude?

I wrote in a recent post about William Barclay’s quote concerning his thoughts on Agape love as being an attitude of the mind.  (See: “Excel In Life” – 5/20/13)  I have come to the realization over the last few weeks that the same could be said about the way people live their lives.  In recent conversations with a variety of friends and family, I have come to see some vast differences in the way that they have lived their lives in comparison to the way my family and I have lived ours.

I guess the bottom line was their attitudes toward the adverse situations that they have faced in life.  Many of these negative events were just taken in stride and seen as “normal” and dealt with as such.  Some of these precious folks are living with the lasting after effects of these setbacks, be they financial, emotional, or with their personal health.
One night, hours after a conversation with one friend, I suddenly sat upright on the couch and thought how strange and foreign their lives have been to the way we lived ours.  I am not sure why, but I almost began to cry as I thought about how strange our lives must have seemed to them, but yet how blessed we have been!  I was also overcome with the knowledge of the goodness of God, and realized how happy and satisfied I am concerning the way our family life was experienced!
While we also faced many of the same situations as other family and friends in areas such as sickness or financial strain, we always saw these “attacks” as barriers set up by the enemy of our souls and approached them as such… with faith based on the truth of God’s Word.  Our attitude was always one of victory through the love and power of our God!  We never allowed these events to control our lives.  We expected God to supply our every need and He did!  And throughout it all we “let Christ peace control” us. (Colossians 3:15 God’s Word ©)
The hardest part of keeping this attitude was when it came to interacting with some family members and friends.  At times it was almost funny to see the consternation on their faces when we would rejoice before them in the midst of what others would consider a no-win or potentially rough situation.  I guess it should be of no surprise to me as I now realize that those same individuals are the very ones who have given us a difficult time as we stand in faith and trust on the Word concerning my wife’s healing.
It is all an attitude of the heart and the mind!  Throughout our life together, my wife and my first reaction to the troubles we have faced has always been, “What does the Word say?”  Then we would line up the potential physical ramifications against that.  And you know what?  We have just about always come out on top!  It may not always have been easy, and we have definitely had to stand on nothing but our faith at times when things have looked pretty hopeless, but over time we have seen the victory.  And we fully expect the same today!
So, what is your attitude that directs your daily life?  What is the first thing you ask yourself when potential problems arise?  I heard George Jones singing an old song this morning from his “The Gospel Collection” album in which the lyrics went: “Just a little talk with Jesus makes it right.”  The truth of that simply phrase from that simple country tune rang out loud and clear and makes sense with the direction of this post today.  Just as my wife and I have always gone to Jesus first and expected Him to make the situations in our lives right, I would adjure you to do the same and watch His miraculous goodness and love work for you!
Gee… that thought goes along with the theme of this entire blog!  It is all about what and from Whom you are expecting isn't it?  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Mountain Top Experiences

Back in the late 1970’s I was still young in the Lord and hungering for more of Him without a lot of knowledge about how to go about satisfying my cravings for Him.  I was the Youth Minister at the Baptist church that my wife and I attended and threw everything I had into the ministry to those wonderful Junior and Senior High students.  Besides the weekly meetings, special events and other regular activities that we led, we had also established four major ministry happenings for the youth each year.  These were designed to be mountain top experiences in the lives of the young students and for the leadership as well! 

In the winter both groups attended separate weekend Snow Camps at the American Baptist Churches of the West regional camp in the Sierra Nevada’s near Tahoe, California.  In the summer the youth were able to attend a week long summer camp at the same conference grounds.  Then in the fall my wife and I would take the combined groups on a weekend camping adventure to a State Park in the majestic redwood groves located anywhere from two to three hours north of our city.  In the last few years that we ministered there, we also added a summer weekend waterski camp in which I worked with the College Career group and three adults with boats in ministering to the youth.
At one point after one of these special camps I had a deep conversation with a member of the church whom I greatly respected.  I had mentioned to him that I longed to live in a mountain top experience with God on a regular basis, not just three or four times a year.  His response and the foundation of our conversation centered around his understanding that we cannot live on the mountain top all the time.  His hypothesis was that we lived our everyday lives in the valley and only went up to the mountain top for an occasional refreshing from the Lord.
That conversation has uncomfortably stuck with me throughout the last 35 years!  Recently though, I came across a statement about the Apostle Paul that rejected my friend’s theory and gave me a new hope for living in that kind of a close, personal and powerful relationship with my Savior.
In discussing the evidence of the power of God being demonstrated on a regular basis in the ministry and life of Paul, Wesley L. Duewel in his book for leaders in the church, “Ablaze For God” states: “What Paul wants is more of the abiding power of Christ communicated through the Spirit.  What he desires is not for an occasional mountain top experience.  He longs for the continuing experience of God’s power everyday of his life and ministry.  He hungers for, yearns for, and is willing to pay any price if only that power can abide upon him day after day.” (Ablaze For God ©1989 by Wesley L. Duewel, Francis Asbury Press)
This bold statement describes exactly what I was longing for back in the 70’s and has continued through today.  If Paul could live it, then so can you and I!  I think the reason that it seems too unconceivable to some believers though, is because of the maximum effort it takes to consistently live in this close proximity with God.  The personal hungering and yearning has to be followed up with paying the price on a day to day basis.
Have I reached this goal?  NO!  But I continue to work on it!  It is a continual process that needs to be worked at on a daily basis, 24/7 – 365 days a year!  Is it worth the effort?  YES… and then some!  Will I ever “reach” the goal?  I don’t think so.  I believe that it is something that grows and matures within us as time goes on.  It is a fluid process.  If you stop reaching out and moving forward, I believe that you’ll fall behind!
Paul told the Colossian Church that they were to “get rid of the person you used to be” because “you’ve become a new person” and that this new person is to be “continually renewed in the knowledge to be like its Creator.” (Colossians 3:9-10 God’s Word ©)  That sounds like a consistent, life long process to me.  It also sounds like an exciting challenge to embark upon!  What do you think?  You know, you can see a lot from the top of a mountain.  What a way to live this life!  I’m all for it.  How about you?
Have a mountain top day!  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What EXPERIENCE am I expecting today?”

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Answer to Weariness...

I ended up getting up a little earlier than usual this morning as my wife was moving around quite a bit and I couldn’t seem to stay asleep.  So I decided why fight it and got up!  I also figured that some extra time in the Word was probably just what the doctor ordered!  This extra time ended up being a very profitable experience for me.  The Lord showed me many things including the confirmation of something I felt and questioned, as a new Christian, with some of the leadership at the Baptist church we first attended some forty years ago.  Maybe I’ll share more about that in another blog, but today I wanted us to think about Paul’s comments concerning the grace of God as being all sufficient for him.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how weak and insufficient I feel at times concerning my current stake in life.  Over the last year I have gone from being on the frontlines of ministry within the local church setting to being at home caring for the needs of my precious wife on just about a 24 hour basis.  Needless to say, it has been quite a change for me!
It has also been quite a challenge for me.  For most of my married/family life I have worked at least two and sometimes three jobs at the same time, including the (supposedly) part-time position at the various churches we have served at.  And during all that time I have not experienced the stress, weariness and sometimes all out exhaustion that I now live with in the one job that currently encapsulates my life.  Don’t get me wrong as I am not complaining as it is a labor of love caring for the most special person in my life.  It is just totally different than anything else I have ever experienced.
As I questioned my life this morning I was led to Paul’s discussion on God’s grace for him.  In reading from 2 Corinthians chapter 12 I began to realize that Paul was experiencing a similar situation in his ministry but had come across an all important fact!  Even though he was fighting weariness, exhaustion, stress and the continual threat of persecution, he rest assured in knowing that “When I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10 English Standard Version)
God had told him that, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,” which caused Paul to rejoice and live in the strength of that promise as he declared: “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV)
And speaking of what the doctor ordered… Those verses were like a shot in my arm this morning!  I suddenly experienced God’s peace “which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7 ESV) as I was able to let go of that tiredness that dogged me and allow His grace and thereby His strength empower me to continue on and complete the work that He daily sets before me with my wife and those I meet each day!  I no longer feel guilty about the way I feel.  I am simply dwelling on Christ’s powerful grace working within and without of me.
It is like a new freedom and a new strength that overrides the natural dictates of the responsibilities of daily life.  And it is GREAT!  How about you this day?  Is this new freedom something that you need to grab hold of?  Do you need to exchange that weight of weakness and weariness with the freedom of His grace and His power in your life?  Believe me when I say from personal experience, that it will be the best decision you’ve ever made!  So let this be the day and let Him have His way with you starting today.  Allow His grace to be sufficient for you.  Have a GREAT day!  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What GRACE am I expecting today?”

Monday, May 20, 2013

Excel In Life

I was encouraged this morning as I sat down at my desk in the study and read from I Thessalonians chapter four.  In the very first verse the Apostle Paul inspires us to reach for the stars in our daily Christian walk.  He says: “Now then brothers and sisters, because of the Lord Jesus we ask and encourage you to excel in living a God-pleasing life even more than you already do.” (God’s Word ©)  He makes it clear that our Christian walk is a progressive activity that never ends!

In the previous chapter he focused in particular on our love walk and admonished us to “greatly increase your love for each other and for everyone else, just as we love you.” (I Thessalonians 3:12 God’s Word ©)  It is interesting to note that the love that he is talking about here is “agape” or the God kind of love.
I spent a considerable amount of time thinking on this verse this morning.  I always considered myself to have a pretty decent love walk.  In a recent conversation with my youngest daughter we talked about how our family always tended to reach out to the underdog.  My daughter even went so far as to complement me on the example that I lived before her and the rest of our family as I normally attempted to make anyone feel loved, comfortable, accepted and forgiven of any fault when I was with them.
As she said that, I immediately felt a zing of remorse as I replied that this seemed to be true with everyone except for my wife’s family over the last few years.  After the completion of our phone conversation I dwelt on that situation which I was considering to be a personal failing on my behalf.
Today as I did a little bit of research on the definition of the agape love that Paul was talking about I began to see things in a different light.  I came across a statement made by William Barclay where he noted, “Agape has to do with the mind: it is not simply an emotion which rises unbidden in our hearts; it is a principle by which we deliberately live.” (Barclay, William. 1974. New Testament Words. Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press)
When I began to look at my difficulty in loving this one group of family members in what seems to be a continuing adversity, I had the revelation that the love that Paul describes is not something that will necessarily come automatically each time.  It is a progressive work within the realm of our daily Christian walk.  I saw that while my heart was right because of the feeling of great discomfort and emotional ache that I have been experiencing because I did not immediately respond in love in the midst of this sensitive situation, it was my mind that needed to get a handle on something that has been totally new to me. 
It is a new experience that I need to wrap my mind and the attitude of God’s love around!  It is one of those real-time life adventures and lessons that has to be experienced with the ensuing lessons learned and then catalogued into my head for future reference!  It is not a failure to dwell on, but a lesson to be successfully learned so as to help me to continually improve in becoming the well-rounded individual that God has called me to be!
Well, that revelation this morning helped me to stop feeling bad about myself in this area and realize that God is working in all of us each day for His eternal purpose and plan!  I think that it is all part of what Paul was talking about in I Thessalonians 4:1 when he encourages us “to excel in living a God pleasing life even more than you already do.”  It is not an impossible request.  It is just a call for us to stay humble and open to His loving correction and subsequent personal growth!  Have a great week.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting to LEARN today?”

 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Sources of Combustion

As I have been writing about lately, I have been consumed with the passion to be on fire for God.  I have been spending a lot of time in the Word and reading books concerning this subject.  Today I read a statement in the current volume I just started “Ablaze For God” by Wesley L. Duewel that made me spin in my chair!  Reverend Duewel declared that “God has created our spirits flammable.  We are spiritually combustible.”

As I sat in my study meditating on that idea, I heard that still small voice deep inside me say: “We are a fire just waiting to happen!”  Then I recalled all the effort we went through when I supervised in the precision machining area at Agilent Technologies in the late 1990’s, to make sure that all potential sources of combustion were safely stored and disposed of in OSHA approved fireproof containers.
The containment of these sources was a well-documented and followed procedure within the shop.  I even spent many months on a special project updating the written safety manual for the entire division.  Therefore I was intimately familiar with these standard operating procedures.
As I think back on that training, I wonder if some of us Christians are following the same procedures in order to knowingly or unknowingly contain any possible outbreak of fire in our personal lives.  With my Pentecostal background, I am very much aware of those who are not comfortable with our lively expressions of worship.  Some have even referred to it as “wildfire.”  But then as a great man of God I once knew said, “I’d rather have a little wildfire than no fire at all!”
I think that the fear of “wildfire” has tended to cause some to not allow their spirits to combust into a hot flame for God.  What I have come to understand, especially lately though, is that God knows each of us so intimately that He will not allow us to go beyond what we can handle or desire or are comfortable with.  Remember what Paul told His young apprentice Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:7 where he stated, “For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of self-control.” (1965 Bible In Basic English)
So therefore instead of trying to safely and comfortably contain the outbreak of personal flammable combustion for God, let it go!  Let that naturally occurring combination that God has created in you explode for Him and for the eternal benefit all those around you.  Let yourself be ablaze for Him!
I’ll conclude this week with the words from a song written by Wesley L. Duewell in the book I am reading.  Let these anointed words dwell richly in you this weekend.
“Blessed Holy Spirit, come again today;
 Come, indwell us fully in a mighty way.
 We are longing waiting for Your grace and pow’r;
 Blessed Holy Spirit, come on us this hour.

  Come upon us now!  Come upon us now!
  Hungry, thirsty, longing we before You bow.
  Work in all Your fullness in and through us all;
  Hungry and obeying, Lord, in faith we call.

  Blessed Holy Spirit, let Shekinah fall;
  May Your holy glory come upon us all!
  May Your fire and glory now on us descend;
  Put your seal upon us; then in service send.”
 
Have a great weekend!  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What FIRE am I expecting to INGNITE today?”

Thursday, May 16, 2013

FIRE!

Jesus told His disciples, “I came to send fire on the earth.  And how I wish it were already kindled.” (Luke 12:49 NKJV) 

Over the centuries many commentators have given differing explanations as to the fire that Jesus so longed to arrive on man’s home planet.  I believe that He was first and foremost talking about the fire that He desired to baptize His followers with!  I believe that Jesus knew that once the Holy Spirit stoked fire caught hold in the life of a believer that it would rapidly spread across the land. Yes it would cause dissention in many a people’s lives as they were forced to look inside and decide on what the truth is, but it would end up turning the world upside down with the revelation of God’s love for mankind through the atonement of Jesus on the cross of Calvary.
Throughout His earthly existence Jesus set the example for us to follow.  Wesley L. Duewel in his book “Ablaze For God” declared that “Zeal for accomplishing God the Father’s purpose was burning in Jesus like an unquenchable fire.” (Ablaze For God, Francis Asbury Press 1989)  It is that same fire that He wants for us to carry and spread throughout our daily lives with our families, our friends, our jobs, our neighborhoods, our schools, on our vacations, and even in the Mall.
Jesus is calling us to be ablaze with the fire of His love and with a passion for souls.  I once read of Benjamin Franklin who confessed that he often went to hear the great evangelist George Whitefield speak because he could watch him burn before his very eyes.  Is that what people see when they observe your words and actions?  Over the years I have received numerous positive comments from listeners concerning my preaching style because of the way that I will infuse humor into my sermons.  And while I am honored to receive the acclaim, I would much rather be known as one who emanates the very fire of God when I present the Gospel message.  Sounds like I need to spend more time with the giver of that fire!
Duewel goes on to express the fact that: “Fire attracts.  Fire motivates.  Fire kindles fire; it is the nature of fire to set ablaze” (Ablaze For God page 22)  That same fire should cause us to be enthusiastic about the things of God.  It is interesting to note that the original root of that word “enthusiastic” actually comes from en + theos meaning “to be inspired by God.  To be a possessor of God or having God within.”  (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/enthusiasm)
So the question to ask yourself today is, “How enthusiastic am I about the things of God?  Am I so ablaze with the fire of God that it leaps onto those in whom I share my life with?”  I remember trying to buy one of those Children’s Church trick bibles that had a concealed lighter inside of it so that when it was opened the fire would ignite with a strong flame.  But in reality, I already have one and it’s no trick!  It is the fire of the Word of God that is just waiting for me to get close enough, for long enough that it will catch me on fire with His love, His passion and His zeal!  How about you?
Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What FIRE am I expecting to SPREAD today?”

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Needing More...

Today was one of those mornings where I awoke feeling a little out of sorts with my world.  I wasn’t upset or anything like that, I just felt like I wasn’t really in touch with much of anything.  I probably could have actually slept a little longer but since I was already about 10 minutes behind my regular schedule, I decided to brave the day and get up!

After getting dressed I sauntered into the study next door, plopped down in my chair and decided to try and jump start the day by fortifying myself with a bit of the Word before I brewed the morning coffee!  This activity seemed to help as I read from Colossians chapter two.  It is amazing what even a small dosage of the Word can do for one’s attitude.

A little while later as I returned to the study with my morning cup of coffee in hand, I felt led to reread the scriptures I had studied the day before in 1 Thessalonians chapter one.  Only this time I felt directed to read them from S. Way’s “The Letters of St Paul to Seven Churches and three Friends with the Letter to the Hebrews.”  When I got down to the thirteenth verse that I wrote about in yesterday’s blog, my heart suddenly jumped for joy!  Something went off in side of me that I hadn’t experienced for a while.

Way stated the verse this way in his interpretation of Paul’s comments, “I, like yourselves, am unceasingly giving thanks to God, because, when you received the message of God that you heard from me, you accepted it as no message of men, but – as it in very truth is – a message of God, the message that is still a soul-thrilling power in you who believe.”
It was the exciting and adventurous thought of God’s Word being “soul-thrilling” to me that caused my heart to skip a beat!  Suddenly all of those special times when I personally felt the wonderful closeness of God in the past flooded my memory.  Then I immediately paused and had to answer the questions that came to my mind that asked “if I still felt that way, if the message of God was actively on display in my life, and if I actively believed it enough for it to be working in and through me?”
After I worked through those inquiries, I leaned over in my chair with my hands clasped on my lap and began to cry out to the Lord.  Over the past couple of years and especially lately, I have worked diligently to stay closely in touch with the Lord and His daily directions for me and my wife.  I have clearly understood the need to stay intimate with Him in our time of need and have made the call for His assistance on countless occasions.
But today as I sat broken in that chair I realized that what I need is more of Him than I have ever had in the past.  Trying to get what I had wasn’t going to make it now!  What I had is not enough anymore!  Today I need more and more of Him!  I need a fresh dose of the Holy Ghost and a new found, deeper and clearer relationship with the Lord of Lord’s and King of Kings.
As I sat in that chair I found myself repeatedly worshipping the Lord by singing:
“Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me;
 Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.
 Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me.

 Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.” *

Then a fresh anointing fell in the room and I felt bathed in His love and comfort.  Wow!  What a way to start your day!  I’m so glad that I pushed through the morning “Yuk” and pursued His presence.  But it didn’t end as I went to get my wife up for the day.  I have a new mandate.  I have come into a new place in my relationship with our God and since I need more of Him, I need to spend more time seeking Him!
 
Does any of this sound familiar to any of you?  If so, then maybe this is your day, your week, your time to pursue a deeper walk with Him.  I’ll share a few more thoughts tomorrow, but for now, find a quiet place and begin to worship Him singing:
“Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me…”
Have a terrific day!  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What part of His GOODNESS am I expecting today?”

 * Written by David Iverson - 1926

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

How?

So after reading yesterday’s blog post, you might be asking yourself, “How?”  How do I live the kind of life that is a live stream of my Christian walk?  Paul seems to have answered that question in chapter two of I Thessalonians.  In verse thirteen he told his readers: “Here is another reason why we never stop thanking God: When you received God’s word from us, you realized it wasn’t the word of humans.  Instead, you accepted it for what it really is --- the word of God.  (and) This word is at work in you believers.” (God’s Word ©)

These believers simply took the gospel they heard as the Word of God and acted accordingly!  They lived their daily lives in accordance to the truth of the Word and the results of that lifestyle were very evident to all that they came into contact with.  Our current age of reason, intellectualism and “seeing is believing” tends to counteract the simplicity of the gospel for many people, including more than a few believers!  God in His wisdom and foresight has told us that victory in this life comes from the opposite understanding that “believing is seeing!”  And it is His Word that we are to be believing in before the necessary results of our faith come into fruition.
It reminds me of the time when my wife was pregnant with our first child.  She was on medical leave from Hewlett Packard and we were trying to decide if she was going to return after the baby was born or not.  Our joint desire was that she be a stay at home Mom when the kids came, but I was self-employed and work had not been real steady.  I had recently applied at HP but was waiting for an interview before we made our decision.
One day soon after Josh was born I had a revelation tha I was putting the cart in front of the horse.  The Lord spoke to my heart and told me that I had it backwards and was waiting to see so that I could believe.  I realized then that we were needing to believe that God would take care of us before we saw the results of our stand of faith.
So with that my wife resigned her job, but not before we took our new son to visit her friends at work.  As we walked through building number one on the way to number two where she had worked, we stopped as we heard a voice behind us calling my name.  It was one of the representatives from personnel who had spotted us on the way in.  He declared that he had wanted to call me when he spotted us in the lobby.
Well, the rest is history!  He set up a couple of interviews with me and a few weeks later I was hired!  Coincidence you say?  I don’t think so!  I believe that our step of faith opened the door for God to work in our behalf.  I had no electronics background, but was hired mainly due to my photography skillset and thereby worked part time in the Printed Circuit Process Shop and part time in the darkroom developing negatives that would eventually be used as part of the silk-screening process in the PC Shop.
At that point in our lives we decided to take God’s Word for exactly what it is, and have never looked back!  Sure we’ve taken some heat through the years, but all in all it has proven to be the best decision we ever made!  How do you take the Word of God?  Do you see it just as a word of encouragement or counsel, or as the spoken truth directly from God?  What do you do when the newspaper, the doctor’s report or your bank account say something that is contrary to the Word of God?  Whose report do you believe in?
The church at Thessalonica always sided with the gospel they heard from Paul and his team and it showed through the exemplary lives that they lived and that others copied. What will you do?  Have a good day.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Monday, May 13, 2013

Lights, Camera, Action!

As I was reviewing the beginning verses of I Thessalonians over the weekend, I came to the revelation that Paul was complimenting the church at Thessalonica by things that were observed in the lives of the members of the congregation.  In I Thessalonians 1:3 Paul noticed that, “…your faith is active, your love is working hard, and your confidence (or expectations) in the Lord is enduring.” (God’s Word ©)  The three attributes that he talked about were characteristics and actions that were readily visible in the daily lives of the church members.

A few verses later he mentions that “You became an example for all the Lord’s followers in Macedonia and Achaia.  And because of you the Lord’s message has spread everywhere in those regions.” (I Thessalonians 1:7-8 CEV)  It would seem that these individuals lived their Christian lives in a very practical and visible manner that positively influenced the area in which they lived.
I was raised with the idea that an individual’s religious views were something that was to be kept private.  Even though my Mom was always a sincere woman of prayer, she did not like it when others openly shared their faith with her.  But like I have mentioned before, that was an important aspect of life in which my young girlfriend and future bride vivaciously lived.  It was that living and breathing 24/7 demonstration of her faith that brought me into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
My wife never preached Jesus at anyone, she just lived Him before them!  And to be perfectly honest, even though I am the licensed minister in the house, she has individually introduced many more people into the kingdom of God than I have!  Her life has always been a very visible expression of Jesus to those that she has come into contact with be it the neighborhood kids and their folks, the cashier at the grocery store, the homeless, the convalescent home residents or even the few celebrities that she has bumped into.  Jesus and His kingdom is just who she is!
How about you today?  Just who are you?  Who or what do the actions of your daily live vividly demonstrate?  When people look at you do they see Jesus?  When the director of your life quiets the crowd and yells out: “Lights, Camera, Action!”  Who will your life portray?  Have a great week ahead.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Friday, May 10, 2013

Complete Certainty

Following my texting conversation with our oldest daughter yesterday, I went out to closely examine my own two tomato plants.  As I looked in detail, I discovered, to my glee, our first little tomato!   It was only about a half of an inch in diameter but was lovely in my sight!  There is always something special about the first fruit of the year’s harvest.

For some reason I thought about that first little fruit hidden behind the leaves of our Bush Early Girl tomato plant as I meditated on 1 Thessalonians 1:5 this morning during my study time.  This verse reads: “We know this because the Good News we brought came to you not only with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit, and with complete certainty.” (God’s Word ©)  When I began to dissect the verse word by word, I suddenly recalled an incident from long ago that brought everything into perspective…
Back in the early 1990’s we had been living in our first purchased home for about six or so years.  Money had been a little tight and as we were able to landscape and complete the front yard, the same could not be said for the large back yard.  At that point we had fenced the yard, laid a patio, build a patio covered, planted numerous fruit trees and worked diligently at cultivating a large garden area.  The rest of the yard was a rough and ready playground for our kids and their friends!  (Now that I think about it, we also had a nice play structure as well)
Previous to moving into this house, we had rented my Grandmother’s small home and over the years had developed a fantastic vegetable garden area.  But, no matter how hard I tried though, the garden in the new house always struggled to produce an adequate harvest.  But one Spring in the early 90’s finally looked promising.  The various plants and especially the tomatoes were looking healthy and strong.  As a father watches the development of a newborn child, I observed with expectancy the daily growth and production as the little green balls began to form under the tiny yellow flowers.  Then when that first tomato began to turn red, I was beside myself.  Then it happened…  One morning our youngest child came bounding into the kitchen with a plump greenish-red tomato in her tiny little hand and exclaimed excitedly as she presented her prize saying, “Look at the ‘May-toes’ Daddy!”
Well, you guessed it!  It was that special-to-me first tomato of the hard fought harvest.  It had to have been a funny sight because inside of me all kinds of bells and whistles were going off, but on the outside I had to break into a large smile as I was completely taken in by my daughter’s “complete certainty” that I would share in her joyful discovery.  The disappointment and potential anger at having the long awaited fruit picked prematurely instantly disappeared when I encountered my daughter’s happiness!
As I remembered all that today, I thought about how that should be similar to our faith as we share it with others in this world.  Our testimony should come forth not only with words, but also with power, the Holy Spirit and with “complete certainty” of our conviction in Christ.  In fact, as with the example of my young daughter many years ago, our actions will most likely overshadow any words that we might speak!
As I consider my own current testimony through my words and actions in the midst of all that’s happening in my life at this time, I pray that I come across the same as JoAnna did back then, and that my “complete certainty” in the miraculous healing power of our God builds a certainty of faith in those I come in contact with.  How about you? I would encourage you to think about your words and actions this weekend.  Do you project an atmosphere of “complete certainty” in the Good News you believe in?  Do your actions carry the power similar to my daughter’s as she bounded in that room declaring “Look at the ‘May-toes’ Daddy”?  Have a great weekend.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What Good News am I expecting To Share today?”