Our New Home

Our New Home
I love all the summer greenery around our home!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Wiley E. Coyote

Have you ever had one of those experiences where understanding suddenly popped into your head like someone turned on a light in a dark room?  Like the time awhile back when I was given the responsibility of doing the yearly budget/targets for the Milling Shop in our division of Agilent Technologies.  We were using a brand new program that year that combined all the various aspects of the department’s projections for the coming fiscal period.  To be rather blunt about it, I was quite in the dark concerning not only how the new program worked but also with the process of gathering and calculating all the required data.  It was something that I had never done before!

I prayed continually over it and spent countless long hours working on the project.  I even took it home for several nights as I worked at making sense out of it.  Then one day as I sat concentrating at my desk at work with the program opened up on my computer, it all suddenly came together in an instant.  All of a sudden it made sense!  The light went on and I was able to complete the task with a new-found comprehension and handle on the process and the program.  I was even able to help other supervisors on the floor who were working on the project for their departments!
Well, I had that same experience this morning as I read from the book of Ephesians. After reading about living the life of love in the same manner of Christ in chapter five, I looked over at the next page to Ephesians 6:11 where I had been reading from all week.  Here it encourages us to: “Put on the whole armor of God so that you may be able to stand against the WILES of the devil.”  (MKJV)
Following a hunch, I looked up the original Greek for the word “wiles” and that’s when the light went on!  Strong’s defines it as “trickery” and/or “travesty” which Webster illustrates as, “Having an unusual dress; disguised by dress so as to be ridiculous.”  He went on to say: “Travesty may be intended to ridicule absurdity, or to convert a grave performance into a humorous one.”
Recently I was talking to my wife during one of our two daily walks, about how absurd the various accusations that were made against me were when it came to her initial care.  In that they were so off base, the information on which the judgments were founded so totally out of touch with reality, that it was actually funny!  And it continues to happen in current conversations with the same individuals.  It’s like you want to burst out laughing when the incidents come up ‘cause you know that they must be joking, and then have to swallow hard when you realize that they are serious!
Have you ever had that happen to you?  Well, what you see demonstrated before you is one of those “wiles” of the devil!  The problem with them is that many times your first reaction is to be totally surprised because you didn’t see that coming or expect it from the source from which it came and are deeply hurt when you realize the intent of the attack.  And that’s exactly what the enemy of our souls wants!  He wants us angry, wounded and unforgiving!
It all reminded me this morning of the cartoon character Wiley E. Coyote!  The situations that he got himself into were always so absurd and ridiculous that they made you laugh!  The bible tells us that laughter is a good medicine! (Proverbs 17:22)  So I would suggest to you this morning that the best response to these surprise and absurd attacks is to not try and figure them out and/or stew over them, but to laugh them off!  I didn’t do that at first, but I am now.  I initially found myself getting very angry and then had to deal with all the revengeful thoughts that kept popping into my head!  I finally discovered that God is the only one that can show these individuals the folly of their ways.
They sure aren’t going to listen to me, but the reality of God’s truth that continues to prevail and visibly come to light over time, is setting the record straight, and as far as I can see, the relationship has not been hurt.  God still has a foothold!  So next time the absurd attacks of the enemy come upon you through sources you would not expect, don’t get angry but LAUGH, and let Him prevail in the situation!  Know that the words and actions don’t originate from them but from the evil one.  Love them, pray for them and LAUGH at the devil!  Have a great and laughable Labor Day Holiday!  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… What am I expecting to LAUGH at today?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Moving Forward...

For some reason, I was thinking the other day about some of the vehicles that we have owned over the years.  In particular I recalled the 1977 Datsun 280Z that we purchased new.  It was the first car that we bought as husband and wife and we were quite excited about it.  It was gorgeous!  Pacific Blue exterior, white leather interior, special wheels, shutters on the hatch, handled like a top and had a TON of power!   It would easily top 100 MPH as my wife and I could each individually attest to!

Looking back now though, I can kick myself for ever letting that car go!  We actually only kept it for a few years and traded it in for a 1979 Ford Bronco.  I guess that we sometimes do impulsive things that we regret later in life!  But as I thought about that car, it dawned on me that you can’t go backwards in this life.  The only direction you can go is forward!
Just like with that car, the same would be true for every phase of our lives.  I have pictures hanging on the walls throughout our home depicting many of the special occasions that my wife and I enjoyed alone and others that were special to us as a family.  Lately I find that is difficult to look at some of those memories without a tear forming in my eyes.  At times it is heart wrenching to look at how my wife was compared to how she is today.  But you know, once again, you can’t go back.  One must move on!
Along with the good remembrances of the past are the more recent memories of the unexpected negative responses and words of a few that were close to us.  But those too are now in the past, and moving on is my only positive alternative!  And the ONE single source that keeps a lively expectation in my heart and a smile (most days!) on my face is the truth of God’s Word!
According to Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” (God’s Word ©)  That’s Good News!  The expectation of His total and complete salvation (meaning “safety”, “preservation”, “healing”, and “soundness” – according to Scofield’s Reference Notes) is the ONLY future I see for her!  It is the solid foundation that causes my future, as well as every other Christian’s to be bright!
In describing Ephesians 6:17 where it tells us to “Take… the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (KJV) Adam Clarke states that “The word of God, or faith in God’s unchangeable word, is the principle armor of the soul.  He in whom the word of God dwells richly, and who has that faith by which he knows that he has redemption (ie; salvation and all its redemptive acts and processes, as per Scofield) even the forgiveness of sins, need not fear the power of the adversary.  He stands fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made him free!”
So what will it be for you?  To wallow in self-pity over the passing of the past, or to look with joyful expectancy at what good things the Word of God says are in store for you (now, in the future and then for eternity with Him) as you make your stand on the unchanging, unshakeable, love powered, grace enabled Word of our loving heavenly Father?  Hummmm… another No-Brainer!  Have a terrific Thursday.  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What GOOD THINGS am I expecting today?”

 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Don't Leave Home Without This!

What are the items that you never leave home without?  Those things that you pat down your pockets to check for before you close the front door?  For me it would be my keys, my wallet and my cell phone.  When we go for our daily walks, I also make sure that we have a few plastic bags with us in order to take care of any items that our dog might want to leave along the way (no explanation needed...)!

Each of these items have particular meanings and carry specific purposes for me to accomplish my responsibilities outside of the home.  The keys allow me to get in and out of the house, which is very important in case I go outside for a moment without my wife and accidently lock the door.  In her current condition she would not be able to open the door for me.  Thankfully I have a couple of backup plans in case I ever did lock myself out.  The keys also help me to start our car and thereby travel wherever I need to go. 
The wallet not only holds cash and other items that help me to conduct business at stores, but it also holds my wife’s insurance cards as well as hers and my identification information.  The cell helps me to make calls away from home and is especially important now in case emergency situations should arise.  It has also turned into my on-the-go “to do” list, address book, portable computer, bible and watch!
The second part of Ephesians 6:17 tells us of another most important tool that we should never leave home without.  That being the Word of God that’s in your heart!  It states: “And take… the word of God, which is the sword of the Spirit.” (KJV)  It is interesting to note that the “word” that it refers to is not “logos” but the “rhema” word.  Meaning the word of God (logos) that the Spirit has given you special understanding, revelation, significance or personal meaning to.  Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary describes it as “a simple text, well understood, and rightly applied…”
It is that word that we are to wield as a spiritual sword to take down the attacks of the enemy that we might face each day.  Henry goes on to say that this well understood and rightly applied word “at once destroys a temptation or an objection, and subdues the most formidable adversary.”   It is the only offensive piece of the armor that the Apostle Paul lists and is the tool that Jesus Himself used to defeat the devil in His face to face encounter with him while on this earth!  The Sermon Bible Commentary comments that “The sword of offensive warfare is compared to the word of God, with which our Lord Himself drove away the assaults of the great adversary.”
The Apostle specifically makes a point to tell us that it is not just any word from the pages of your bible, but one as Oral Roberts would say: “that you know, that you know” will accomplish what it says it will as you make a cutting strike toward the enemy.  Like I said earlier, it is a word that is solidly entrenched in your heart.  
Quite a few years back, I was caught in the great wave of layoffs with the company that I worked for when the economy for the electronics industry fell through the floor.  The firm, which was the largest private employer in the county at the time, laid off over 3000 workers over a period of a few years.  Not too long after that, with my photography background, I went to work at a local professional photographer’s store.  And to be honest, I was having a hard time picking up many of the fundamentals on the business end of job.
I can remember the gal who was training me getting a little upset when I was not able to retain some of the things she was trying to teach me.  One night in the midst of this I went home and began to study the Word and came across Proverbs 10:7 in the New American Standard version which stated: “The memory of the righteous is blessed…”  Now while I understand that the actual context of this verse is talking about people remembering the righteous acts of God’s people, the Lord clearly spoke to my heart and told me that since I was one of His righteous ones, that I had a blessed memory… that I had the ability to remember what was being taught me at my new job.
So, with that "rhema" Word in my heart, I began that very moment, to confess and believe that I had a blessed memory.  And you know what?  When I went to work the next day I remembered what I had learned the day before, and never had another problem recalling all the new things I was shown at that job!  That may seem like an insignificant example, but it was a need I had at the time and meant a lot to me when I began to speak the truth of God’s Word over the situation and see it conform to that truth!
Now that’s a weapon I want to make sure that I have with me every day, wherever I go!  So now I guess its best that I pat down my pockets as well as my heart to see that I have everything that I need before I step out my door.  Might not be a bad idea for you to do the same!  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Ironman and Spandex?

It is very seldom that you will find me outside for any length of time without wearing a hat.  But if you knew the fact of the matter, I never really liked wearing them!  The truth is that the natural course of nature has prevailed and over time my hair has gotten pretty thin on top!  I think it was the effects of a fried head and the accompanying headaches that finally convinced me to don the appropriate head covering!

When I worked for three summer seasons in the garden department at The Home Depot in Oklahoma, I went through a lot of hats as the hot sun back there simply faded out any dark color schemes within no time at all!  I finally got smart and bought a white THD hat that lasted through the last summer and in fact, I still have it today (although it’s pretty frayed)!  Wearing a hat outside has now become a part of my regular apparel.  I even placed two hooks behind our front door on which I hang a couple of hats for my wife and I that we can easily retrieve before we go out the door.
Ephesians 6:17 tells us to “take the helmet of salvation…” (KJV) as an intricate part of the armor of God that we should be wearing in our daily lives.  The helmet is designed to protect our heads which, let’s face it, is one of the most vital parts of our bodies!  We could do little without a head.  It is the seat of our intellect and directs all of our activities.
The Apostle Paul calls salvation our helmet.  He bluntly infers that “the hope of continual safety and protection, based on the promises of God, to which the upright follower of Christ feels he has a divine right, protects the understanding from being darkened, and the judgment from being confused by the temptations of Satan, or subtle arguments of the sophistical ungodly.” (Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible)
The helmet of salvation reminds me of the helmet that the comic book/movie character Ironman wears.  Once he dons the device and hooks it into the rest of his armor, he has a heads up display that puts him in contact with a seemingly unending array of weapons and sophisticated equipment that is solely designed to give him the advantage over any foe!
Now that’s the kind of hat I want to put on when I walk out the front door!  What I discovered this morning though, kind of goes against what I have been taught in the past.  I can remember hearing various Bible teachers over the years talking about the armor of God and encouraging us to “put it on” every day.  But as I looked into the original origins of the Greek word most English versions translate as “put on” I learned that the saying is actually more akin to “sinking into a garment!” (Strong’s and Thayer’s)
The Apostle is instructing us to become one with God’s armor!  It’s not a rote “dressing” that we do each day, but a continual, lifelong process of maturation and growth in the intimate knowledge and actualization of His Word!  So God’s Word and His ways become a vital part of who we are!  This reminds me of the new jogging jacket I bought my wife for her birthday a couple of weeks ago.  It is made of material that is 88% Polyester and 12% Spandex which means it stretches to conform to the shape of the one wearing it.  Since I need to help my wife, the stretching capabilities of it make it easy to put on her!  I no longer have to stretch my wife’s arm’s but only the jacket!  Once on, it fits her like a glove, is very comfortable, and lightweight but yet keeps her warm enough when the coastal breezes blow during our daily walks.
That’s how the helmet of salvation should be to us.  It should fit us like a glove and be comfortable enough to us, that we naturally begin to walk and talk as God does!  To the point that we automatically access and use all the spiritual weapons and sophisticated equipment of the heavenly kingdom.  Hummm… like Ironman wearing a Polyester and Spandex helmet that stretches and moves like it’s a part of him.  Kind of a weird picture… but I guess it works!
When you become one with God’s armor, you are protected because you are thinking and acting like Him… and the enemy’s attacks are quickly repulsed!  That’s the way I desire to live, and I would imagine the same could be said about you!  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Monday, August 26, 2013

Total Protection!

I think that it is pretty cool when you consider that the shield of faith that Paul used as his inspiration for Ephesians 6:16 was designed to protect the whole body of the solder as he proceeded into battle.  It was a little over four feet high and around two feet wide.  The scripture emphatically instructs us by declaring: “above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.” (NKJV)  Other translations say, all the burning arrows that come from the evil one.” (Easy Read Version), or “quench all the darts of the evil one being kindled (against you)” (Literal Translation of the Bible).

I believe that this is not only talking about all the false accusations, offensive words and/or lies that others may say about you, but is also about anything contrary to God’s love for you that may come against you including sickness and disease!  It is referring to any negative situation that you may run into in your daily life!  It’s interesting to note that while all of the other pieces of the armor, except for the sword of the Spirit are stationary, the shield can be maneuvered to protect you from an attack from just about any angle.
This is helpful because you don’t always know where the attack is going to come from.  Albert Barnes in his “Notes on the Bible” comments on this verse that “The fiery darts come from unexpected quarters”  Vincent’s Word Studies states that “Satan attacks by indirection.  Through good things (or people) from which no evil is suspected.”  Through our experiences, I can vividly vouch for the truth of these statements!
The shield of faith quickly separates you from the force of the attack!  In his “Expositions of Holy Scriptures” Alexander MacLaren comments that “My faith is only called a shield because it brings me behind the bosses of the Almighty’s buckler.”  Later on he adds “Faith binds us in deep vital union with Him who has overcome and then all His conquering power comes into us!”  Wow!  Hard to beat that wouldn’t you say!  That is definitely where I want to be, how about you?
It is probably best therefore, that we approach every day with our faith shield up and ready to deflect any negative approach before it can reach us!  What that infers is that we keep up a consciousness of God and His Word, of His love and of His grace.  In other words we don’t just react to situations that occur, but we go in ready to connect with Him and His victorious power.  What a way to live!  And according to the Word this is not a pipe dream but a very possible reality for you and me… Remember Romans 8:37 says, “in all these things we are MORE than CONQUERORS through Him that loved us!”  (KJV)
So go out today and live like a conqueror!  Put up your shield and confidently step out the door.  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What VICTORY am I expecting today?”

Friday, August 23, 2013

Jack In The Box

Okay, I’ll admit it…  I’ve always been a fan of Jack in the Box burgers.  Whenever we came back to California for a visit when we lived in Oklahoma, we would always head for the nearest of Jack’s restaurants as they had no Jack in the Boxes in the Tulsa area at that time.  There is one very close to the Sacramento International Airport and it was our normal routine to drive over and savor a few delicious Ciabatta burgers while we waited for my son to get off his shift at the airport where he works.  But you know… I’m getting a little ahead of myself here, so let me get to my main subject which concerns the gospel’s command for us to “shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” (Ephesians 6:15 KJV)

Most of the commentaries I consulted tend to agree that meaning of this verse is being prepared to walk in the truth of the gospel rather than being prepared to preach the gospel.  John Gill says that the word preparation “signifies a base or foundation and here designs a firm and solid knowledge of the Gospel as it publishes peace by Jesus Christ, which yields a sure foundation for the Christian soldier to set his foot upon and stand fast on…”  In other words, it fills us with a peace which gives or yields that firm foundation to move on and do what needs to be done in the various situations we face in our lives.
This firm foundation reminds me of the song I wrote in the mid-nineties which had the kids boldly declaring as they sang aloud:
  I’ve got a firm foundation of Jesus in my life,
     He helps me make it through my day without strife,
     For He placed me on a Rock so my feet won’t slip,
     And the devil can’t give me no lip!
    La, La, La, La!  

The thought of having our feet shod with the Gospel of peace reminds me of hiking up the steep winding trail to the top of Eureka Peak in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in order to reap the rewards of the strenuous effort with the gorgeous 360 degree panoramic view that meets your eyes at its peak of over 7500 feet.  This particular mountain is solid rock.  From the mid 1800’s until the 1940’s over eight million dollars of gold was dug, chiseled and blasted out of it.

The trail up that mountain is filled with rock shavings left over from the mining operations, branches, boulders and the occasional bear scat!  And while it is extremely beautiful, I would not attempt it without a good pair of hiking boots!  In fact, one of the first things my wife and I bought each other after we got married was good hiking boots.  Over the years I have tended to wear hiking boots all the time, but my wife only wears them when we go for hikes on vacation.  Needless to say, my original pair lasted about a year while she had hers for many years to come! (Would you believe that she finally gave them away when we moved to Oklahoma in 2006?)
Those boots gave us a fairly firm foundation to the steps we took on that trail no matter what lay before us, and at the end of the day our feet were still in good shape!  When our feet are shod with God’s Gospel of peace our steps over the rocky paths in our lives also stay firm, safe and secure.
But what about Jack in the Box you say?  Well, one of those lessons I mentioned yesterday that I have learned through the journey that my wife and I are on, is that most Christians tend to put God in a box as they hike the trails of their lives.  Now I can understand this to a point as most of us tend to do this to some extent in order to get our minds wrapped around the grand expanse of the gospel.  But, we experienced other’s boxes in two distinct ways.  One group had God sitting in a box, but didn’t open it up until they first walked through a whole line up of natural or worldly paths.  Once all these courses were explained (or forced on you) they would resort to opening the God box.
The other group went to their God box immediately but would only allow Him to move in restricted ways.  Their box was not very big.  They tended to confine God’s miraculous ways to one particular method.  But as I read the gospels, I see where Jesus used a variety of methods in healing the sick, depending on the situation and the people involved.  Jesus’ box had no sides to it!  His ways are unlimited and full of grace!
In the 1980’s a TV commercial showed the Jack in the Box being blown up as the company attempted to upgrade their image and reach out to a more affluent customer base.  This is probably what each of us need to do to the box that we have comfortably put God in!  The translation notes in the Geneva Bible tells us that the Word “is called the Gospel of Peace because it encourages us to go on bravely, in that we know by the doctrine of the Gospel that we are traveling to (and with) God who is at peace with us.”
Just like when God told Joshua to be strong, confident and courageous (Joshua 1:9), He is wanting us to do the same!  He is asking to be taken out of the box and allowed to do all that He wants to do for and through us in our daily lives.  Don’t be afraid for His gospel shoes provide a firm foundation wherever your paths shall take you!  Remember, even though people may come against you in this world, He is at peace with you!  Have a great weekend.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Thursday, August 22, 2013

You're Alright!

We had a good appointment yesterday at the office of Piper’s brain specialist in San Francisco.  It was pretty evident that she has stabilized and with the exception of the loss of some weight (she is actually back to her normal weight before things started happening a few years back), everything else seems to be relatively the same if not a little better than her last appointment three months ago.  We had some really good conversation with the Nurse Practioner, who mentioned at one point about how various patients and friends of hers have spoken of how they learned who their real friends were when their potentially life altering health problems occurred… many times arising from the most unlikely individuals.

I was able to fully connect with their findings as we have experienced the same confusing and frustrating situation.  What also came to mind as we talked though was what I had previously studied in the Word earlier in the quiet of the morning.  In discussing the armor of God in Ephesians chapter six, the Apostle Paul speaks of putting “on the breastplate of righteousness.” (KJV)  As I studied that particular part of the armor I discovered many things.  First of all, that the breastplate covered the vital organs like the heart which in spiritual terms can be considered the center of a man - the real you - as well as the seat of your emotions.
Righteousness can simply be defined as being right with God or as I like to say, being right there with God – in His presence – right next to Him in the midst of all the events of your daily lives.  In fact, as I was contemplating this verse yesterday I suddenly pictured myself standing next to God as I listened in shock to the totally inaccurate accusations that were made against me by a few close individuals concerning my wife’s health.  When they were done the Lord reached out His right arm placing it around my shoulder and drew me close to Him. Then He looked at me and said “I love you Jim… you’re alright in my book!”
John Gill says that the meaning behind the breastplate of righteousness is “the graces of faith and love.”  Vincent’s Word Studies refers to I Thessalonians 5:8 for the description of the breastplate also being “faith and love.”  With this in mind, I think you could accurately say that God’s righteousness protects your heart with a close fit covering of His faith in you and His love for you.  Now that's what I call a REAL friend!
In the daily events of your life there will be those who may toss insensitive and possibly incorrect comments or accusations at you, but by wearing the armor of the breastplate of God’s righteousness you can easily deflect those arrows that are shot at you.  Besides, all that really matters is God’s love and faith in and for you.  I shared with my wife this morning that as I look back now, I wish I had had the breastplate cinched up a little tighter around my chest a few years back!  I think if I had I would not have been so wounded, offended and thoroughly shook up by what was said.
But… I have certainly learned a few lessons!  So my breastplate is tight, I’m staying close to Him and I am depending on His faith in me as well as in His uncompromising love for me to protect and guide me as we move along this journey in life!  How about you?  Why not allow Him to put His arm around you and draw you close to Him!  Remember… You’re alright (righteous?) in His book!  Have a great day!  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

In the Cool of the Day

My wife and I and the pooch went for a walk late yesterday afternoon.  It was one of those iconic northern California days.  The temperature was floating around the high seventies and the afternoon coast breezes were just coming in over the hills that separate our town from the Pacific Ocean.  As we rounded the first corner from our house and walked down the driveway past the detached garages, we suddenly came upon a group of about a half a dozen little girls all asking if they could pet our dog!  Well, Mandie must have been in 7th doggie heaven as one of the girls sighed and said, “Oh, I like that dog!”

From there we walked to the little lake near the recreation center and 2 pools in the middle of the development.  The tall pines and redwoods were swaying in the wind, the tall willows were waving their drooping branches and the small brood of Mallards and the white Goose were sleeping quietly between some rocks at the lake’s edge.  The old white Goose started out the summer by strutting his stuff and clacking at everyone who passed by, but by the beginning of August he had quieted down quite a bit and tended to mind his own business on the lawns or floating across the lake!  While our dog tended to ignore him, I would think that other neighborhood dogs were not as kind… and maybe he got the point!  (HE! HE!)
After a few laps around the lake we headed back home.  Off to our right by the outdoor basketball hoops, near a large playground and open lawn area there is an section that is landscaped to look like a dry creek bed surrounded by willowy grasses and a few Aspen and Pine trees.  It always reminds me of our favorite spot up in the Sierra’s.
As we rounded a bend in the road we came into an area near our cluster of homes that is deeply shaded by tall maples and even taller Redwoods. Directly across the street from there is the municipal golf course and the green from our neighborhood commons just seemed to go on forever as they blended right in with our eyes view of the golf course.  Then it was down another tree lined lane and up to our front door. 
Ah… another contemplative adventure in God’s great outdoors!  Isn’t God good!  When’s the last time that you took a walk with someone(s) special and enjoyed the land that our loving heavenly Father created for you to enjoy?  If your neighborhood isn’t the most picturesque place in the world, find a park, then get out of the car and walk and let God talk to you through what you see, hear, smell and feel all around you! 
As we walked in the cool of the day with God yesterday, I was reminded of a devotional I read that started out by declaring: “As you listen to birds calling to one another, hear also My Love-call to you.  I speak to you continually: through sights, sounds, thoughts, impressions, scriptures.  There is no limit to the variety of ways I can communicate with you… Search for Me and My messages, as you go through this day.” (© by 2004 Sarah Young – “Jesus Calling” Thomas Nelson Publishers)
In Jeremiah 29:13 the Lord tells us that “When you look for me, you will find me.  When you wholeheartedly seek me, I will let you find me.” (God’s Word ©)  So… put on a comfortable pair of shoes and go for a hike… looking for Him wherever you paths shall lead!  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Literary Classics

Over the last five or six years I have become a fan of author Clive Cussler and his mystery/adventure novels.  My older son is actually the one who turned me on to his books.  As I have probably mentioned in the past, all of our kids are voracious readers, having gained a love for books through my wife’s tender nurturing and reading to them during their early childhood and subsequent homeschooling.  I take the credit though, for introducing them to the real literary classics such as “The Hardy Boys” and “Nancy Drew” mystery series.

It was with this in mind that Josh lent me two “Dirk Pitt Adventure” books written by Cussler during one of our California summer visits while I was attending school in Oklahoma.  His enthusiastic “Dad, they’re just like Hardy Boys books for adults” helped me to overcome any skepticism in reading them.  Well, wouldn’t you know, once I opened up the first book I could hardly put it down!  And I’ve been hooked ever since… in fact I think I have now read every book in each of his five fictional series!
A couple of nights ago I started to read (or re-read actually!) the ninth of the “Dirk Pitt” novels entitled “Treasure.”  Written in 1988 it tells a tale of intrigue and adventure as Dirk overcomes countless impossible situations to discover a Roman treasure (including portions of the lost Alexandria Library… of course!) in a cave near the shore of the Rio Grande River in Texas.  Along with all the items recovered by the NUMA team were also various pieces of the protective armor that were worn by the Roman soldiers who supposedly protected the cavern hiding place.
This morning as my eyes wandered down the open page in my bible, I slammed to a sudden stop as I read, “Put on all the armor that God supplies.” (Ephesians 6:11 God’s Word ©)  Then I continued on, reading about how Paul likened the stand of our faith to the armor worn by a Roman solder during the time the epistle was written.  Of course I thought about the Cussler’s book and meditated on the biblical descriptions with a new found interest.  I even took a little side trip and looked up Roman armor on the web!
It would seem that the girdle or belt of TRUTH that is talked about in verse fourteen was “the point of junction for the main pieces of body armor, so that they formed the common bond of the whole (man).”  It is our understanding of the TRUTH that “gives unity to the different virtues, determinations and consistency to our character.  All the virtues of a person are exercised within the sphere of truth.” (Vincent’s Word Studies)
The TRUTH we believe sets the establishment of who we are!  It is the one item of the armor that holds every other piece in place!  The Bible in Basic English refers to the TRUTH as the Word of God by translating the word “truth” by the phrase “the true word.”
So let me ask you today?  What is the TRUTH that you hold dear to your heart?  What is the TRUTH that you believe?  What is it that establishes you for who you REALLY are?  For me it continues to be the truth of God’s Word.  It is the only thing that gets me through the most frustrating and trying times in my day, like having to take over an hour to coax my wife into swallowing a few ounces of medicine this morning.  It is the TRUTH of what He says in His Word concerning my wife’s healing that helps me to keep going and work through the times when things aren’t going real great!
So, once again… On what establishment or foundation do you make your stand?  Is it on the ONE that is unshakable although not always visible, or on what you may see that at times can shake you down to your very core?  I personally prefer that “peace of God which passes all understanding.” (Philippians 4:7 MKJV).  Have a good day.  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Crazy Christians...

Back in the late ‘70’s when my wife and I were leading the Youth group at what was then the First Baptist Church in our home town, we started a combined singing and drama group with twelve of the youth called “The People of the Son.”  My musically endowed wife led the singing and played the piano and I found my niche directing the drama skits that the group performed.  I really don’t recall if we ever had any shows outside of the church except for one regional snow camp in the Sierra’s at Camp Sierra Pines.

On one night during the weekend camp they announced that they were going to have an impromptu talent show.  So some of our kids came to us and asked if they could do some of their routines, and we jumped with their eagerness to perform.  I had designed and purchased matching T-Shirts for all the kids in our youth group, so the group looked sharp and quite professional (we thought!) in their matching yellow and red shirts.
We performed a skit using a script from one of my all-time favorite Christian comedy sources “Isaac Air Freight.” We received favorable applause and were asked to do more!  So we ended up going on for about another half hour and pretty much exhausted our repertoire! 
Most of the skits from Isaac Air Freight incorporated a theme or tag line from the current culture, be it a TV commercial, from a popular TV show or Movie or a Christian slogan such as the “I found It!” campaign that was popular back then.  For instance, one of the comedy sketches with a strong message takes place at heaven’s gates and has an individual who had attended church and was a good guy – the life of the party - but had never personally accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior pleading his case saying: “I put an ‘I Found It’ bumper sticker on the Pinto!”  The skit ends with the sound of a creaking door opening in the floor and a deep, scary voice saying: “Mr. Grover, we have a place for you,” to which the man nervously replies with something like… “Well, that’s a voice I’ve heard before…”
I thought about all this earlier today as I went from Ephesians 4:17 where we are encouraged to “NOT live any longer like other people in the world. (As) Their minds are set on worthless things” (God’s Word ©), to I Peter 2:9 where Peter tells us that we are “a peculiar people.” (KJV)  As I meditated on the word “peculiar” I had to laugh as I was drawn back through memory lane to another skit that we did that joked about “those crazy Christians!”
But is that what that verse really infers?  Are we to be the “crazy” ones?  The ones who stand out in the crowd due to our outdated clothes, words and mannerisms?  The ones who are against almost everything and are quick to judge those who might not agree with what we believe or live like we do?  I really don’t think so! 
When I read the book of Ephesians (and the other books of the New Testament) I think the answer is pretty clear.  We are different or even peculiar (actually that word means that we are a purchased possession, ie; God’s property!) to those in the world because of our life of LOVE that is demonstrated through our acts of His GRACE to those around us.  That we are not quick to judge, but quick to love, to give a second chance and to accept instead of reject.
With that in mind, I can easily see someone shaking their head, smiling and saying: “There goes one of those crazy Christians” as we pass by them with a joyful greeting and an expression of acceptance, love and compassion.  Say… why don’t you give it a try today and see if you are happily referred to as one of those “crazy Christians!”  It might just be the best compliment you’ve received in a LONG time!  Have a great week.  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What ‘CRAZY’ thing am I expecting to do today?”

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Real McCoy

According to Wikipedia’s online encyclopedia, the term “The real McCoy” is an idiom or metaphor used in much of the English-speaking world to mean “the real thing” or the “genuine” article.  As I read from Ephesians chapter five this morning, my attention was peaked from the very first verse were the writer encourages us to “Imitate God, since you are the children he loves.”  (God’s Word ©) From there it goes on to discourage us from living the type of lives we might have pursued that were opposite to those as prescribed in the Word before our conversions to Christianity.  Then the clincher comes in verse eight were it says: “…but NOW the Lord has filled you with light.  Live as children who have light.” (God’s Word ©) 

This scripture especially caught my eye due to a particular verse that my wife and I have been confessing over her.  It is found in Isaiah 58:8 and declares “Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and you will heal quickly.” (God’s Word ©)  One morning during my study time a month or so ago, the Lord gave me a specific analogy between my wife’s healing manifestation and the picture that this portion of scripture paints in the mind of the reader.
As I have mentioned recently, a normal summer weather pattern for our locale (because of our proximity to the coast) is for an early foggy overcast that burns off by late morning or sometimes persists until the afternoon.  The Lord showed me that this is similar to what this verse is describing and is happening in Piper as the fog that has penetrated her mind will eventually burn off as “the Sun of Righteousness shall arise (within her) with healing in his wings” (Malachi 4:2 KJV/MKJV), burning off the fog of confusion and forgetfulness!
You see, the Son is the “light” that we NOW have inside of us!  Vincent’s Word Studies says that this “light” isn’t just a reflection of the light, but THE LIGHT himself!  So just as we believe that His light is burning off the fog of this disease from inside of my wife, it also acts as a bright light that shines forth through you and me to a hungry, questioning and hurting world.  And that is what hit me this morning… We are “the real McCoy’s!”  We are not an expensive imitation, but the real, genuine article.  You and I are bonified, purchased with the most expensive price, carriers of the Lord Jesus Christ!
When you and I step out the door in the morning, it is as if HE is stepping out the door!  Kinda jerks your chain doesn’t it?  So for my way of thinking… I’d better start acting more like Him.  As I’ve heard it said many times… “You may be the ONLY Jesus that someone may ever see in this world!”  So, like Jesus said when He was walking the earth, I guess I’d best be about my Father’s business!
Think about that this weekend.  Remember, you ARE the real McCoy!  You are Jesus to your family, your co-workers, your school mates, your neighbors and to those you pass by at the store, on the street, at church and when you’re on social media sites.  I want to make sure that the LIGHT in me helps to burn off the fog in others’ lives!  How about you?  Have a terrific weekend!  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What LIGHT am I expecting TO BRING FORTH today?”

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Goodness!

I found myself sitting at our kitchen table this morning with my eyes fixed on the beauty of the frosting of colors that topped many of the potted plants on the deck outside the window before me.  It was as if I was gazing on the glory and the goodness of our God.  As I sat there lost in the sights before me, I could not help but thank the Lord for all the blessings that He has showered on us over the last few weeks.  I have seen His hand upon us almost every day over that period of time. And yesterday was no different.

Being as it was my wife’s birthday, it was an exploration of wonderful remembrances of times past with an excited expectation for future adventures in the fullness of life that our loving heavenly Father has promised us.  It was a day and night where we got to experience Christian love on a first hand basis.  A good friend of mine and his church reached out to us by providing a way for me to attend the men’s bible study at their fellowship.  We were able to bring in a talented and vibrant young women to care for my wife at our home while I was gone.
Needless to say, I was tempted to be a little nervous about the situation, but had placed the whole thing into God’s hands, and well… the whole evening could not have gone better for either of us!  My time with the group of brothers was like a touch of heaven to me!  It felt so right and comfortable to be with them.  The Word, the conversation and the fellowship was wonderful!  Then when I returned home you could sense the joy of the Lord that filled our house!
My wife and our new Christian friend hit it off like old buddies!  And this morning when we got up my wife was smiling, fairly alert and steady on her feet.  It was easy to tell that it was an event, which we plan on repeating, that was orchestrated by the Lord!
You know, we might be going through the roughest patch in our life, but I am thankful for all the little miracles that vividly demonstrate the goodness of the Lord in our daily walk.  Let’s face it.  We live in a world where bad things sometimes happen to good people.  And while we cannot always explain the reasons or have all the answers, we can still trust in the One who gives us His love and His peace in the midst of the trials and tribulations.
It is important to keep your focus on Him, to celebrate the victories of each day, no matter how small or insignificant they may be, and to rejoice in His goodness.  No matter where I am or what I may be going through, I always expect His best and you know… I am very seldom disappointed!
How about you?  Are you expecting His best in whatever you’re going through today?  Maybe you can’t figure out the why’s of the situation, but you can KNOW that your trust in Him will result in His goodness being demonstrated for you in the midst of the storm!  Have a GREAT day.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Happy Birthday Piper!

When my older brother and sister got engaged, my Mom started a tradition of putting together a picture album for their future spouses that chronicled my brother and sister’s lives through the years up until their weddings.  Then, way before the advent of Photoshop, as an official “Welcome to Our Family” my Mom would cut and paste together the final photo so that it pictured everyone together including the newest member of our family.  Well, when Piper and I were engaged in 1973, my Mom called Piper’s Mom and told her about the idea so that both of us could be presented with our own family albums.

If you were to open up my book that chronicled Piper’s life to the introductory page, you would notice that there is a copy of the birth announcement that her folks sent to their friends when their first child, Piper Kaye was born on August 14, 1953 at 6:29 on a Friday night.  It is a long thin strip of paper that is styled to look like movie film.  It tells of their “newest release” and then lists her physical information, the “Technical Director” who was a Dr. Russell Johnson, the “producer,” Piper’s Mom, the “Director” Dad and then invites everyone to not “miss seeing ‘Piper Kaye’ now showing” at their old address on Fourth Street in downtown Santa Rosa (now a dry cleaning business…)!
That unique and fun announcement turned out to be a prophecy of her life.  Throughout the 43 years that we have been together she has always had a spunk that could instantly turn a frown upside down!  She has the unique ability to do some of the craziest things at just the right time to get everyone to relax and laugh!  Whether it be in the middle of a Youth or Children’s service, at home or standing on a cold creek bed as we dared her to jump in during a family vacation (which she did to our shock as she never liked to be cold and the creek was rushing with snow melt waters high up in the Sierras in northern California!).
So it has been quite a special ride for me to spend my life with her for over what is almost a half a century now!   And contrary to what it may look like in the natural, I believe that the best is yet to come!  Psalm 118:17 says that “I will not die, but I will live and tell what the Lord has done.” (God’s Word ©)  This is one of the many verses that we are standing on and fully believe that Piper will go out and “tell what the Lord has done” in her.
I keep telling her of this reoccurring dream I have where I see her standing to the right side of a pulpit telling the audience about her personal miracle.  As she speaks the more excited and anointed she gets and her voice gets louder and higher until the people are on their feet, clapping their hands and shouting!  I can’t wait to be in that service… and I hope of all you can be there too!
So, Happy birthday Honey!  “This is the day that the Lord has made.  Let’s rejoice and be glad today!” (Psalm 118:24 God’s Word ©)
Make this day a time of rejoicing for you as well.  Find something to be thankful for and shout unto the Lord and be glad!  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What GOOD THING am I expecting to CELEBRATE today?”

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Go Ahead... Make My Day!

We spent yesterday afternoon with some wonderful friends.  They ended up staying for over a couple of hours and we thoroughly enjoyed their company.  They are the parents of a good friend of our younger two kids from their band days at Santa Rosa Christian School.  I can’t say that we were really close to them while our kids were in school, but our friendship was revived and strengthened when they recently heard of my wife’s health battles.  I don’t mean for this to sound derogatory toward anyone, but it has been very interesting to learn who our true friends are as my wife’s conditioned worsened.

What was so meaningful to me was to watch Dee as she smothered Piper with her unfettered attention.  At one point she knelt before Piper, lifted up her head, looked into her eyes and sang an old hymn about the love of Jesus that she felt the Lord had put on her heart specifically for my wife.  Then she spent quite a while talking to Piper, reminding her of how they knew each other, about our kids friendship, and on many other subjects that Piper might remember from their mutual past.
I got so emotional at one time that I had to break into their conversation and just thank Dee for loving on Piper.  Not many people have done that for her.  Most “friends” and even some relatives we see will say a word or two to my wife and then ignore her when she doesn’t reply.  I understand that they may be uncomfortable with the situation, but it is simply stunning to see someone like Dee let go of any personal inhibitions and give of themselves totally to another in need.  It was almost like Jesus himself was kneeling next to my wife yesterday sharing with her.  And I guess in some respects He was… through Dee!
We had another incident that demonstrated this same giving attitude as we went for our afternoon walk before dinner last night.  On our way back from our laps around the lake, we met a gentleman who was walking his big dog.  (probably about twice the size of our 50 lb Australian Shepherd)  It is always fun to me to see how people walking their dogs respond when we meet up with them!  Well, this guy was different in that he moved off the sidewalk to make room for my wife’s chair, but then stood there so that he could talk with us.  He was very comfortable at having his dog meet Mandie and we talked as the two pooches sniffed and then frolicked around as much as their respective leashes allowed them to!  The young man was very gracious to Piper and we had a nice conversation.
Then as we came up the long driveway to the garages near the homes, we came upon a little boy and two ladies walking in the opposite direction.  I had to laugh as the little guy squished up as close as he could to the opposite side garages (about 25 feet away from us) and quickly, with great in trepidation ran past us without saying a word even though I had smiled and said “hello.”  Now granted, he might have been scared by the dog, but he was looking at my wife and not at our pooch.  So I just shrugged my shoulders and looked up to greet the two women who were about 10 feet behind him.  But, to my dismay they totally ignored Piper and I, looked the other way, and then resumed talking amongst themselves.  After we had passed by, I raised my eyebrow and said quietly to Piper, “Well, I can see why the little boy was afraid!”  I think as parents, we sometimes pass our fears down to our kids whether we realize it or not.
So what point am I trying to make here?  It just goes back to one of my favorite subjects, which is the love of God!  Before I turned the lights out last night I read a portion from the new book I am reading where the author stated that he has come to learn that the opposite of fear is not faith (as I also thought) but love.  He finally came to the place in his life where he realized, through many experiences, that “When we learn to (intimately know and) accept love from the Father (God), we can exercise faith even in the midst of our fear.” (Signs, Wonders and a Baptist Preacher © 2013 by Chad Norris, Chosen Books, Bloomington, Minnesota 55438- pg 161 – parenthesis mine)
Sometimes in this life we have to move through the fear that we might feel when we see someone or something that is “different” than what we may be used to, and simply trust in the love of the Father to reach out and make a difference in other people’s lives.  I cannot tell you of how special and loved it made me feel to see our friends reach out to my wife.  She continues to be the most important and loving individual in my life.  She always brightened the room in which she entered, and would unreservedly reach out to anyone who looked or acted differently and shower them with the love of God with her sweet smile, an encouraging word or simply a hand on their shoulder.  It breaks my heart now as I see the fear in people’s eyes as they look at her today, and then ignore her.
On the other hand, it warms my entire being as I see the few who unashamedly reach out and touch her with the love of God.  I would encourage you today to go out of your way to reach out to someone who maybe a little different.  Reach past your fears, trust in the love of our heavenly Father and make another’s day special!  Have a good day.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What (or Who) am I expecting (to bless) today?”

Monday, August 12, 2013

Good Job!

Have you ever had one of those moments in time when you knew that God spoke to your heart.  That for one fleeting tick of the clock you felt the warmth and tingling of His presence about you and heard His tender words uttered specifically to you?  I experienced one of those times yesterday.  I had just hung up the phone after talking to my son.  During our call he told me about a conversation that someone close to him recently had with another relative.  That conversation had been similar to one of a few I had had with that same individual concerning some decisions I had made for the care of my wife. 

Although this recent conversation was on a totally different subject, the course and results of the experience with the recipient of the call where almost identical to mine.  When I clicked off my cell phone and paused for a moment I felt the presence of the Lord and His confirmation that I had heard Him correctly a few years back, stayed the path He had directed me to follow and was not acting irresponsibly.  (Actually I heard the words “you’re not stupid!”)  His subtle meaning was that the problem was with the other individual and not with me.  It was one of those times when I felt overwhelmed with God’s love for me and stood there with tears forming in my eyes, able to do nothing but humbly say, “Thank you Lord!”
I thought about this again as I sleepily gazed at my open bible early this morning and read from Ephesians 5:1.  The bible was my God’s Word © modern translation and it read: “Imitate God, since you are the children He loves.”  The King James version says “as dear children”.  The word translated “dear” meaning, in the original language, “esteemed or favorite”  So think about that for a moment… According to this verse you and I are some of God’s favorite kids!  Wow!
I believe that this is why He took the time to touch my life yesterday with a quick but memorable confirmation of His love toward me!  He didn’t have to do that, but He did!  He knew the hard times we went through awhile back that were complicated by a few individual’s seemingly insensitive remarks and wanted to reassure me that obedience to Him is always the correct thing to do.  Now, I’m not implying that I did everything perfect, but I gave it my best effort and believe that this is what He desired to confirm yesterday!
Romans 8:1 tells us that “There is therefore NOW NO condemnation to those which are in Christ Jesus.”* (KJV)  The key here being “in” Christ Jesus.  In other words toward Believers.  While the world may want to condemn you for mistakes (or what they think are mistakes), God with His unconditional love and actions of grace loves you anyway!  He knows your heart, honors your faith and gives you a hand to help you through the tough times.
That’s the God I serve, how about you?  The One who cares about you enough to put His arm around you in the middle of the afternoon and say: “You done good kid!”  Kinda makes you want to do more for Him doesn’t it!  Have a great week everyone!  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

 

 

*  It is interesting to note that the rest of that verse that adds stipulations to the initial statement are not in the earliest and most reliable of the original manuscripts.  They seemed to have been added by translators in order to clarify the verse according to their own understanding… not by God’s unconditional love.