Our New Home

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

Friday, February 28, 2014

Straight Shooter


Soon after Jesus had His first encounter with Peter, He was introduced to Philip’s friend Nathanael.  With this meeting Jesus established one of the most fundamental aspects of the Kingdom of God in the earth!  From the little bit that the bible tells us about Nathanael, I get the impression that he was what we would call a “straight shooter.”  The Free Dictionary by Farlex defines this behavior as “One who is honest and forthright.”  This is not the type of individual who shoots from the hip, kind of like Peter was before Christ.  The “straight shooter” is one who thinks first and then makes an honest and intelligent statement based on the information that he has.  He is also humble enough to change his thoughts when accurate contrary information is presented.
In John 1:45-49 Nathanael is slightly skeptical of the idea of the promised Messiah coming from the insignificant and poor town of Nazareth.  But after hearing Jesus’ words, he immediately reverses his earlier conclusion and makes a firm declaration of faith in Him.  Nathanael’s response must have really excited Jesus for He looked at him and declared: “You believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.”  Then to everyone assembled there He explained that based on this kind of faith, “I can guarantee this truth: You will see the sky open up and God’s angels going up and coming down to the Son of Man.” (John 1:50-51 God’s Word ©)
In this allusion to Jacob’s vision in Genesis 28:12-22, the Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary states “By and by, says Jesus here, ‘Ye shall see this communication between heaven and earth thrown wide open and the Son of Man the real ladder of this intercourse.”  It would seem that Jesus was demonstrating the standard set by the angel Gabriel when he explained how his message from God was all going to work, beginning with Zechariah and Elizabeth and then Mary and continuing on through Jesus and the acts of His followers through the generations to come.  Gabriel’s simple explanation to the young girl was that “No word from God shall be void of power.” (Luke 1:37 American Standard Version)  Mary’s response in verse 38 is almost identical to Nathanael’s.  She believed the Word of God… and the miraculous happened!
When we take an additional look at Hebrews chapter eleven, we begin to get a clear understanding of the power and importance of our faith in Christ and its ability to open wide the communication between heaven and earth which results in the supernatural overriding of any natural authority or power.  This is exactly what Jesus was inferring way back then in the beginning of His ministry.  Our understanding, believing in and obedience to His Word is the key to the abundant (zoe) life that Jesus came to bring into each of our lives!  (See: John 1:1-5)
So… how many Nathanael’s do you know?  Would you consider yourself a Nathanael who quickly put aside his own thoughts and desires when he heard the Word of life spoken from the lips of the Master?  That’s how I want to be… and I bet you want to as well! 
Popular tradition says that after Jesus’ assumption into heaven that Nathanael brought the Gospel to China, Ethiopia, Mesopotamia, Parthia, Lycaonia, and finally ended up in Armenia in what is now eastern Turkey.  Where will you bring it?  Have a super weekend.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Thursday, February 27, 2014

First Impressions


So, how did your day go yesterday?  Did you “splash” on a lot of people? (see yesterday’s post “Splash)  We sure did!  It poured all the way down to San Francisco where my wife had a 2:00 pm appointment with her Neurologist at the Brain Health Center.  We got a little bit of a reprieve walking from the parking garage to the medical center, but didn’t get off quite as easy on the way back to the car!  We made great time going into the City, but it was literally bumper to bumper all the way home.  What normally takes a little over an hour took us more than 2.5 hours!
But it was worth it.  This is the one doctor’s visit where I always feel that we get our money’s worth.  In our two hour visit, we spent most of that time with the head of the center and then about a half an hour with the on-sight case worker.  Both of these individuals have been a God send to us over the last few years.  We had been to see nine other doctors before we were recommended to this specialized practice.  From the moment the new doctor walked into the room we knew we were home!  This lady and her staff are extremely knowledgeable in their fields of expertise, and are compassionate, encouraging, open and upfront with information and are available to assist with any needs we might have.
The Social Worker also confided in us that even though she had been in the business for a long time, that upon their first meeting, that my wife had taught her a few things on relating to those who may not always be able to communicate effectively.  She mentioned the strength and peace of Piper’s spirit reaching out to her, even though she wasn’t physically talking, and how just sitting there holding my wife’s hand was an intrinsic experience for her that has helped her to communicate with similar patients.
Both the Doctor and Social Worker remarked numerous times of how good Piper looked and what a good job I was doing with her.  I have to admit that comments such as these, while they are an extreme blessing to me, normally take me by surprise!  I just see myself as doing the only natural thing that there is to do with the one you love.
Our experiences with the staff at the Center yesterday and the way that they have responded to my wife are not only pleasant but easy to accomplish.  It is plain to see that these folks are loving, kind and sincere about who they are and what they do.  This is not always the case though, with everyone we meet in the course of our daily lives.  Many times we come upon those who, shall we say, have a rough exterior!  They may not look nice, act nice and/or just be very different than ourselves.
I believe that Jesus had an experience with one of these individuals at the very onset of His ministry.  I can just imagine that little red flag that comes up in all of us at times waving wildly when Andrew introduced Jesus to his brother Simon!  Here before Him was a character we would later come to know as a simple fisherman who was more than a little rough around the edges, tended to speak his mind and act first and think later!  Peter was probably a good example of the “Loose Cannons” I wrote about last month (see blog posted 1/20/14).  Now, while I have a strong sense that Jesus thought about all this as He cast His eyes upon Simon, His actions reveled a completely different tack!
John 1:42 relates Jesus’ first reaction to him.  It says that “He (Andrew) took him (Simon) to Jesus; Jesus gazed at him and said, ‘You are Simon, the son of John?  Your name is to be Cephas’ (meaning ‘Peter’ or ‘Rock’).” (Moffatt)  In more modern vernacular, the Message Bible puts it as “From now on your name is Cephas…”  It is evident that Jesus looked right past the outward appearance of Simon and gazed directly into his heart!  The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges remarks that “Christ’s gaze penetrated to his heart and read his character.”  Jesus looked past the obvious and must have been amazed at what He saw hidden inside of Simon!
And then He did a very unusual thing.  He must have taken note of something His Father had done thousands of years previous to this incident with a man named Abram.  Jesus immediately, without a second thought, said to Simon, “From NOW ON your name is Cephas (or Peter, which means ‘Rock’).  Jesus knew that He was not to be swayed by the outward expression of people.  He looked inside of Peter, saw his potential and didn’t waste any time helping Peter to begin to see the same thing!
I think that this is a great example for us to follow, don’t you?  It goes hand in hand with Paul’s encouragement to us in Ephesians 5:1 to “Imitate God.” (God’s Word ©)  I’ve often times heard about the initial mistakes that some have made through their judgment of certain people by their first impressions of them.  I am sure that we have all made that mistake before.  I have come to learn that Jesus’ immediate reaction as noted by John is a learned response.  It is something that takes practice.
Some people’s looks, vocabulary, and actions can at times, come as a shock if one is not accustomed to such things.  It takes a continually growing experiential knowledge of the love of God to help us to see as Jesus saw when He walked this earth.  For most of us it is not something that comes overnight!  It means spending quality time with Him and His word on a regular basis.  Time with Him is never wasted time!  The proof of that is demonstrated through the transformation that we see in Peter through the Gospels and the Book of Acts.  That’s the kind of affect I want to have on others… and I bet you do too!  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to God’s Word and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Splash!... revisited


As I was pondering what to share today, I quickly reviewed some of the statistics that Google keeps on our blog.  I was a little surprised to see that I have written 808 posts since its inception!  With that in mind, I decided to do some research and read some of the past posts.  Well, I came across one from 2011 entitled “Splash!” that goes right along with the theme that I have been sharing for the last few weeks.  So, just like our local Comcast SportsNet station does when it rebroadcasts the Giants games, I felt led to “rebroadcast” this post.
It actually goes along with our weather here in Northern California today.  It is raining and with our need to travel south to San Francisco for a doctor’s appointment for my wife, we will not only be splashing a lot of water around as we drive, but also splashing the love of God on all we see!  I Hope that you enjoy this post and that it stirs you to action!
Splashoriginally posted 1/13/11
Last night as I was reading our healing scriptures confession list to my wife, I came to the verse in John 11:25 where Jesus unequivocally announced that “I am the resurrection and the life…” (KJV) and the light of greater understanding lit up inside me!  I immediately stopped, turned to my wife and said, “Well, duh!  No wonder we get refreshed and built up when we are in His presence.  It is because Jesus IS the resurrection and the life!”  With that, my wife looked at me with a startled expression, so I reminded her of the last couple of blog postings that I had recently written about being in His presence.
You see, that word translated “life” comes from the Greek word “Zoe” and it describes the God kind of life.  Thayer’s Greek Definitions says that Zoe is “the state of one who is possessed of vitality or is animate.”  It exemplifies “the absolute fullness of life.”  It is life that is “real and genuine, a life active and vigorous.”  It clearly makes sense that it is the kind of energy that we receive as we spend time with Him.  It just oozes off of Him and splashes onto us!
And you know what?  That same life resides in you and me.  When we accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, that life, in the form of the Holy Spirit, came surging into our beings.  The old things were instantly done away with and all things became new! The absolute fullness of His life now lives in us!  We just need to stir it up occasionally so that we can have the same effect of those we come into contact with as Jesus does when we contact Him!
Imagine that life possessed of vitality splashing off of you directly onto everyone that you see today and every day of this upcoming weekend!  It’s like the time many years ago that I spilled a hot cup of coffee on my white pants at the very beginning of my workday.  That stain (in a most embarrassing place – I might add!) stayed with me all day!  Luckily I had the ability to cover it up with a lab coat!  But then, the life of God is not something that you want to cover up!  Just like that coffee, you want to splash it all over your friends and acquaintances so they too, can carry its mark all day long!
Keep that thought fresh in you as you go about your life for the next few days.  Fill yourself up and then feel free to splash everyone in your path!  Have a GREAT midweek.  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What (or Who) am I expecting to SPLASH on today?”

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Roads of Hazzard County!


Okay… so I admit it… I started watching some Dukes of Hazzard reruns again!  I had caught an advertisement a month or so ago saying that the show was celebrating their 35th anniversary so I thought… why not record a few episodes since the CMT channel was going to rebroadcast the series.  And we’ve been laughing ever since.  There are so many parts of that show that are so totally ridiculous and far-fetched that one can’t help but throw back their head and laugh throughout each episode!  Having lived through that era makes it even that much more endearing.  Many of the younger stars on the show are around the same age as my wife and I.
My thoughts returned to Hazzard County this morning as I read a verse from the first chapter of the Gospel of John.  In the 23rd verse John the Baptist is recorded as responding to the Jewish religious leaders of the day in answer to their questions about who he was by stating: “I am the voice of one who cries in the desert, level the way of the Lord.” (Moffatt)  The International Standard Version puts it as: “prepare the Lord’s highway.”
Most episodes of The Dukes of Hazzard begin with scenes of the Duke boy’s car, the General Lee, racing along the roads and highways of Hazzard County.  The idea of a highway that is level was seemingly never considered in the make believe locale of Hazzard County, supposedly located in the southern state of Georgia, somewhat near Atlanta.
Their roads are usually depicted as a little more than a rough wagon trail complete with bumps and muddy puddles strewn with downed trees, boulders and other such obstacles.  Nothing like the smooth and well-built Interstate Highway System whose idea US President Dwight D. Eisenhower championed in the 1950’s.
The highlight of every show is the many chase scenes and impossible jumps that the Duke boy’s and the law enforcement vehicles (who are usually chasing them) make as they drive around or over the obstacles they encounter.  I once read that in the course of the show’s seven seasons, that they destroyed over 300 1969 Dodge Chargers.  Toward the final years of the show the producers switched to the filming of 1/8 scale miniatures for the jump scenes in order to reduce costs and to rival the technology of the jumps being shown in the new upstart series Knight Rider!
In telling of John the Baptist’s job description that was originally prophesied in Isaiah 40:3, the Apostle John emphasizes his role in making Jesus’s way straight or level.  As I considered that and (believe it or not) thought about the roads in Hazzard County and the mayhem they caused, I understood the point that we today are also being called to follow John the Baptist’s example.  We are not to be like Boss Hogg who always attempted to stop Bo and Luke’s plans to help others by setting up distractions, obstacles or road blocks in the path of the General Lee.  Instead, we are called to walk and talk and carry ourselves in such a way as to make a smooth highway for others to receive Jesus’ salvation into their lives.
Remember, this salvation includes all the redemptive processes that God, through Jesus, has provided for us who believe.  As I’ve mentioned before, this includes salvation from sin and its results in our personal lives and in the world around us!
I cringe every time I observe the General Lee landing after one of its jumps.  Many times (as is normal in the filming of 80’s car chase scenes) they don’t cut away quite fast enough and if you concentrate on where the car is landing, you can see a fender crunch, an axel break or parts flying off the car just before the angle changes and you see the boys laughing in the car as they (supposedly) drive away.  In reality, you know that they didn’t drive away from that scene until they switched cars!
Well, I don’t want to be one that causes another individual to crunch, break something or lose their cool (or something worse) because of something I may have said or done that caused them to reject Jesus and/or His help in a crises situation in their lives!  How about you?  For me… I like a happy ending just like you always see at the conclusion of a Dukes of Hazzard episode.  And while I realize that this is not always the way things turn out in real life, I have the satisfaction and ultimate peace of mind in at least knowing that I did my best to be a good example of Christ's love to others… whether they end up going His way or not.
Have a good day!  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… What am I expecting today?”

Monday, February 24, 2014

Like A Domestic Servant?


I had a Paul-on-the-way-to-Damascus experience early yesterday morning.  I didn’t really have a good night’s rest and finally gave in and got up much earlier than I normally do.  After brewing a fresh steaming cup of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, I shuffled with my eyes half open into my study and somehow ended up reading from Matthew chapter eight.  This has always been a favorite chapter of mine when I want to read verses about Jesus healing the sick.
So with my wife in mind, I read on in earnest.  It was as I began to study some of the individual Greek word meanings that I “saw the light” of God’s fresh revelation!  Matthew specifically points out Jesus’ activities in healing the sick as the visible demonstration of what the prophet was expressing in Isaiah 53:4.  This Old Testament prophecy that Peter declared as being completed for us in I Peter 2:4, talks about the power and legal standing of Jesus’ stripes for our healing. It is one of the main defenses that we are using in standing against the attack of the enemy against my wife’s health.
Matthew 8:16 concludes the telling of these events by saying: “and (He) healed all that were sick.” (KJV)  According to both Strong’s and Thayer’s, the word “healed” (that is also used in many of the stories describing Jesus’ activities throughout the Gospels) expresses two points.  The most common that I have seen in the past 35 years is “to heal, cure, restore to health and to make whole and complete” through the laying on of hands and prayer during church services. (ie; Mark 16:18)
The clarifying light that I saw yesterday though, came from the initial use of the word where it implies: “to serve, to wait upon menially, to relieve.”  Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines menially as “to attend to someone’s every need, like a domestic servant.”  This additional usage of the Greek word really struck a nerve in me.  I began to see that Jesus did not just pray for the sick but He also ministered to their physical needs in the giving of comfort and relief to their pain and weariness.
I have often read of Lepers in some of the former Leper colonies overseas who commented about the extreme peace, joy and comfort they received when Christian Missionaries would minister to their physical needs.  Many related how the actual touch of the missionaries upon their diseased limbs was the greatest medicine of all.  These are people who had not felt a physical human touch for years!  The Missionaries came in to their colonies under the direction and calling of the Holy Spirit and were therefore not afraid to be close and personal with the sick.  I have also heard similar stories of Christians who ministered to plague victims during epidemics around the world in the past as well as in current times and never caught the sickness.
In our personal experience over the last four plus years, we have seen lots of good meaning Christians share many kind words with us, but few take the time to actually visit or attend to my wife’s physical needs.  It has been kind of an eye opener to me as I have also recently spoken with other Christians who have dealt with long term illnesses with loved ones who related similar circumstances as ours.
I was blessed beyond measure last week when we took our car into a Christian friend’s automotive shop to have some work done.  This family was actually one of the very few who physically have reached out to us.  When Piper and I were ready to leave one of the owner’s sons, a young man who had been a student of ours in Children’s Church and later on a class assistant, came over to my wife, bent down and took Piper’s hand, looked her sweetly in the eyes and said good-bye. Piper was really tired that day and did not really respond, but that didn’t stop Cody from ministering to her (and to me!)  That to me folks, is a demonstration of what the author was trying to convey by his usage of the word “healed” in Matthew 8:16.
I guess I am a little confused as to why we don’t see enough of this.  Maybe it is the extreme busyness of people’s lives, a lack of teaching or just plain fear.  Now I will say that I do know of some churches whose congregations excel at physically ministering to the menial needs of their sick.  But this should be the rule and not the exception.  I think that we need to see a greater resurgence of this side of Jesus’ healing ministry in order to be more like Christ... and to be more effective in the world.  What about you?
Have a great week.  Stay in tune to the Word, and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Friday, February 21, 2014

Knock Your Socks Off!


The Apostle Paul makes an incredible statement in 2 Corinthians 5:17 when he tells us “Therefore if any man (or woman) be in Christ, he (or she) is a new creature: old things have passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (KJV)  In one sentence he describes the outcome of the underlying foundation of the Gospel message!  He also defines the life story of every born again Christian.  He is simply saying that Jesus’ substitutionary work on the cross has made a way for anyone who will believe on Him to be free from the prison of their past and be able to live a completely new life in Christ.
To me, the strongest picture in that verse is painted through the word “behold!”  It has the same effect as if the Apostle Paul stopped in mid-sentence and rang a bell to catch everyone’s attention before continuing on with his statement.  The other day as my wife and I were driving through an older section of town called Montgomery Village, I suddenly became aware of the sounding of the bell ringing from the Catholic Cathedral Church that stands at the entrance to the 1950’s development.  Since I hadn’t heard that distinctive sound in a long time (I had served as an Altar Boy there in the 1960’s) it definitely caught my attention!
First I checked my watch to see what time it was, but that seemed to be of no significance to the sound emanating from the large bell tower.  Then as my mind began to whirl thinking about all the movies I had seen when the church bells were rung to announce an emergency situation, I began to look up into the sky and all around at the other myriad of drivers that were busily pursuing their individual tasks in the village that day.  But since nobody else seemed to be concerned, I shrugged my shoulders and drove on to our destination.  My point though, is that those bells caught my attention just as Paul’s usage of the word “behold” does in this verse.
Paul, like many other Biblical writers wanted his readers to know that something important, something beyond the normal was coming up!  That word has become one of my favorite commands in the Bible!  I once heard Jesse Duplantis, the well-known evangelist from Louisiana, liken the usage of this word in the Bible to the affect that his wife would have on him when she would walk out of the dressing room with a brand new dress on.  He humorously described that no matter how bored he was at having to go shopping with her that this moment ALWAYS woke him up and fully captured his attention!
I can concur with Jesse 100% with that experience.  Over the years I can vividly remember specific times when my wife Piper walked into my presence wearing an article of clothing that literally took my breath away!  There was the first time when she walked up to me across the crowed dance floor at the first dance of our senior year in high school.  To me it was like a spot light was suddenly focused on her and the crowd separated like the Red Sea at her approach!  If you were to ask me, I could tell you exactly what she was wearing on that September evening in 1970!  It was definitely a “BEHOLD” moment in my life! 
Then there was the time she walked through the door of our vacation cabin wearing a new outfit I had bought her for our 2 night holiday at the coast, or the burgundy sleeveless blouse and complimentary white shorts she wore for the first time at an extended family vacation at the Sea Ranch also on the Northern California coast not too many years ago.  That one caught not only my attention but everyone’s in the room that day!  When she walked in, the rest of the family seated around the kitchen table became quiet and her Dad exclaimed; “Wow, don’t you look pretty!”  (And of course every button on my shirt popped off because I was so proud of her!)
You know what?  I think that this is the same type of reaction that the Apostle Paul was trying to say that the world should have when one of God’s kids walk into a room!  He makes it clear that a big change in our lives happens when we accept Jesus as personal Savior and Lord and that this new life should be an eye-opening experience for others to see!  I Peter 2:9 in the King James Version calls us a “peculiar people.”  Now I’ve heard many funny sermons about this reference, but the real meaning of that thought is that we are different for those without Christ because we are now His possession.  We are now His sons and daughters and we should be acting like Him!
When Jesus came into a room people noticed and if we are now living in Him, don’t you think they should take notice of Him in us too?  Colossians 3:10 informs us that we “have (past tense) put on the new man (or woman) who is (current tense) renewed in full knowledge according to the image of Him who created it.” (English Majority Text Version)
One of my favorite scriptures that I confess multiple times a day over my wife is the last verse of Psalm 91.  After telling of all the good things that belong to the man or woman who trusts in the Lord, the Psalmist seals the deal by declaring “With a long life will I satisfy him, and make him to BEHOLD my salvation.” (Psalm 91:16 Jewish Publication Society Bible – the first official Jewish translation of the English Bible)  I find that the word “behold” is used as an emphasis for us to see what is being talked about with emotion and passion and should leave the reader with a strong desire to do something about it!
The Expositor’s Bible Commentary says that this is “not a mere casual beholding, but a fixed gaze (staring like I did during those times that my wife’s appearance took my breath away), to revel in My (God’s) salvation, to feast his eyes with.  Such seeing is possession.”  Alexander MacLaren’s Expositions of Holy Scripture states: “Certainly here, the Psalmist saw something beyond.”  Is that how people react when they see you?  Does your presence “knock their socks off” in that they catch a glimpse of another life free from the bondages of sin and stuffed full of the love, joy and limitless potential of God for their lives?
I’d like to think that I have had that effect on a few people’s lives… How about you?  The Bible seems to say that this is more than just a possibility or a random event.  What do you think?  Have a great weekend!  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Thursday, February 20, 2014

My 2 Cents!


Our three or four year old coffee maker suddenly stopped working the week before Christmas.  It worked fine for my morning Java that day but following a power outage in the mid-morning, it failed to go on for an afternoon drink that my son was attempting to brew for the two of us.  I remembered that there was another one without a carafe hidden in back of one of the kitchen cabinets, so I dug it out and we jimmy rigged it to work with the carafe (that didn’t quite fit – so that you physically had to hold it while the coffee poured into it) from the broken machine.
Late in the afternoon when my son had left for home, I began to think about it and suggested to my wife that we go right then and there and pick up another brewer at the local CVS.  I really had been wanting to get one of the newer single cup dispensers, but reasoned that because of the high cost of those machines and for expediency, that we could put up with a lesser expensive multi-cup brewing machine again.  But the more I thought about it, I decided that I could make some adjustments on the back cabinet machine and use it until after the Holidays.  Who knows, I thought… maybe I would get a few Amazon gift cards that I could put toward the coffee maker I really wanted!
Well, low and behold, previous to this event, all of our kids from around the country pooled their money and our son in California bought us a wonderful new Keurig single cup coffee brewer!  After opening their gift at my in-laws on Christmas Eve, I burst out laughing as I told the story of what I almost did and everyone soon joined in with my joy!
Now as the hot water filters through the coffee K-Cup®, the wonderfully rich aroma of the ground coffee beans fills the atmosphere in the kitchen.  I have to tell you that it’s sweet smell makes me think that I just walked into a Starbuck’s coffee house!  And… even better yet… the aroma is matched by the flavor that I savor as I take that first sip standing alone in that kitchen each morning!
Ephesians 5:1-2 tells us to “Imitate God, since you are the children he loves.  Live in love as Christ also loved us.  He gave his life for us as an offering and sacrifice, a soothing aroma to God.” (God’s Word ©)  As I peeked at that verse again first thing today, I thought of how pleasurable the aroma of that coffee is to me each morning and how similar it should be to the aroma of Christ in us when we enter into other’s lives!  The old coffee maker’s brew did not have that same effect on me!  It’s kind of like the new man recreated in us verses the old us before salvation!
We are instructed in these verses to live our lives as Christ did by giving His life for us.  The only difference is that He gave His physical life once and for all of us and it is not something that need to do again.  But in the new life that His death has provided for us, we should be willing to physically give of ourselves with our time, our finances, and our touch to others in need around us.
Ephesians 5:8 reminds us that “Once you lived in the dark, but now the Lord has filled you with (His) light.”  Then it continues by declaring that this “Light exposes the true character of everything because light makes everything easy to see.” (All scriptures from God’s Word ©) These verses combined with others such as John 1:4 make it clear that it is His light shining through us that will not only be a rich aroma of His love to others, but also cause them to gently see whatever the light exposes to them – and - put a desire and an expectancy and possibility the of change into their lives!
Remember… it’s His light that they should see and not ours!  It is His wisdom, His love and His Holy Spirit power that they need in their lives, not our personal “2 cents” of information we think will be helpful to them!  The online Urban Dictionary defines the idiom of “my 2 cents” as “An inconsequential opinion or comment given to another person on a particular topic.  Not because it was warranted, but because the giver felt compelled to say it, regardless of its relevance.”   That’s not the kind of help that the Word says we as followers of Christ are to give to others!  It’s His life and His light that people need!  And it is only through His life and light that others can experience the power to receive the healing, the help and/or the comfort they need, along with the ability to make any personal changes in habit, thinking or actions that may be required.
Believe me when I tell you that I have had people share their “2 cents” with me in times of desperate need and it felt like the time I tripped and grabbed a hot stovepipe as a little kid while camping with my family at Richardson Grove State park in the Redwoods of Northern California!  The aroma of burnt flesh and the shock of pain that radiated from my burnt fingers was nothing like the delicious sweet aroma and taste of that rich coffee in the morning that reminded me today of the fragrance of God’s light and love emanating through us to others.
Which would you rather experience?  Which would you rather have emanating from you?  Have a great rest of the week.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Stop and Breathe!


I gathered a few more thoughts on the subject of longsuffering when it comes to being “humble and gentile” while you “put up with each other and love each other.” (Ephesians 4:2 CEV)  Over the last few days I discussed the importance of walking in God’s agape love with an emphasis on understanding that God’s love is always the best approach no matter what the duration, depth or pain of the situation.
Yesterday when I was studying through the end of Ephesians 4 and into the next chapter, I discovered the most simplistic and succinct directions concerning the way to respond to any situation in God’s agape love!  Ephesians 4:29 says: “Don’t say anything that would hurt another person.  Instead, speak ONLY what is good so that you can give help whenever it is needed.” (God’s Word ©)  That makes it easy right?  Well, yes and no!
I had a boss at the Home Depot store that I transferred to when we moved to Oklahoma, that was a great guy, knew his stuff and was FULL of energy.  I’m sure that this was partially driven by his temperament and the multiplicity of “Rock Star” energy drinks that were his constant companion!  At times his push to get things done would cause him to lose his patience with others who weren’t understanding his directions or not moving fast enough. 

Over the three years that I was in that store, I got to be good friends with Curt and during the last year actually worked as a supervisor with him.  In fact, he took over part of my responsibilities when we moved back to California.    During our work together he and I had many times discussed our “religious beliefs” and even though he didn’t share my Christian convictions, he respected me and how I responded to things in life. (and I his beliefs as well)
Over time his impatience and the reaction that it caused him to make in certain situations got to be a joke with us.  So whenever we were together and his patience would began to wear thin with someone else and as his face would turn red, Curt would pause, look toward me and take a deep breath while clasping his hands together and in a sweeping motion draw them down from his face to his waist (similar to some eastern religious traditions).  Then when he was ready he would smile, let out the breath and attempt to calmly assist the other employee to understand his request.
We would always laugh about this – BUT it worked for him!  It kept him calm, his blood pressure in check and helped to stabilize the situation, usually with the added effect of relaxing everyone involved and causing the task to go smoother! 
Curt’s response to potentially “hot” situations is also a good example for us as we attempt to walk in agape love toward others.  Paul’s advice toward the end of Ephesians four may seem simple and easy, but in the heat or surprise of a situation we may be tempted to act in ways that may not always be helpful.  Maybe, it would be best to train oneself to stop, take a deep breath and think for a moment before making any comments or taking any action in response to what is going on around you.  It is just like how some individuals with fiery tempers are instructed to do and count to ten before saying or doing something they might later regret.
I think that one of the most special aspects of God’s love for us is the grace factor!  Being able to say the right thing at the right time in the midst of any situation is not necessarily a trait that one instantly attains.  Like most things in life, it involves a learning process that we get better at each time we do it!  That’s where God’s grace comes in.  I would call it the gray area or the flexibility of His agape love.  God knows that we will make mistakes in this life and He will help us to learn through them so that we don’t keep repeating our errors!
Ephesians 5:9-10 goes along with this idea.  It encourages us to “Be good and honest and truthful, as you TRY to please the Lord.” (CEV)  The key word here is “TRY!”  As we make the effort to grow and mature in our Christian walk, He is right alongside with us helping us and applying lavish amounts of grace toward us and everyone else involved in the process!  He is the one who will help us to be humble and gentle, to speak what is good and honest and to stay calm.  Then because of His assistance and grace, we will experience the effects of His love, his peace and His healing instead of an escalation of the problem!
So see… it’s not that hard after all!  Give it a shot.  Stop, breath and think (while listening to that small still voice inside of you) and then respond in God’s agape love!  It usually works for me… and will for you as well!  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Longsuffering... what's that?


I noticed in looking at my post from yesterday that I never did mention some of the other times throughout the last few days where I kept seeing and hearing things that talked to me about “The Decision” (see 2/17/14 post) to always act in God’s agape love.  Well, I saw it during the service on Sunday when the Pastor stated that “When you fear God, you don’t fear anything else” and “God has a plan for your life and it doesn’t end with the boundaries of today!”  It would seem that when you and I walk in reverent awe of God and place our trust in Him by walking consistently in His love, that there is absolutely no reason to fear what others may say or do to us!  We simply reach out in His agape love and let Him do the rest.  When we live His way, God’s plan for our lives – our future does not end with the trials and tribulations of today!
Then the Lord zeroed right back in on this subject as I began my study time yesterday morning as well as with today’s!  But on both days I felt the Lord wanting to emphasize the point of longsuffering as stated in Ephesians 4:2 in the NKJV.  As far as walking as Christians goes, Paul declares here that we should proceed “with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering.”   Other translations call it having patience, but there is more to it than just patience. 
The word longsuffering in Webster’s original 1828 dictionary defines this action as “bearing injuries or provocation for a long time…” in the sense of being “not easily provoked.”  Ephesians 4:22-23 exclaims “that you must give up your old ways of life with all its bad habits.”  And to “Let the Spirit change your way of thinking.” (CEV) 
To me this is clearly saying that we now have a brand new set of rules and guidelines to follow!  Once these new rules and guidelines go into effect in our lives there should be no going back to the old ones! 
It reminds me of when I worked in management for Hewlett Packard.  We had the official “Rules and Guidelines” binder that directed the personnel decisions we needed to make.  Occasionally revisions would come out and we would be instructed to toss out the old pages and replace them with the new as the old ones were no longer to be followed.  We were all now accountable to the new standards.
Now this isn’t always easy, but the key according to Ephesians 4:2 is to realize and set your mind to the understanding that you are in this for the long-haul.  Begin to confess over yourself that you are not easily provoked.  That you are going to put up with whatever is said or done against you and continually walk in love KNOWING that God is not only pleased with you as you imitate Jesus (Ephesians 5:1-2), but that your agape response gives Him the freedom to work in the midst of the situation! (for the benefit of everyone involved)
I have had to remind myself on many occasions over the last few years that I am in this battle for my wife’s health and healing for the long run!  We will stand firm until we see the manifestation of what we KNOW to be His will for her.  No matter how long it takes, no matter what I hear that is negative to God’s Word on the subject, and no matter what others may say in opposition to what we believe is God’s direction for us.  I think that this demonstrates the definition of longsuffering!  I am doing my best to not be easily provoked when it looks like things are going backwards instead of forward or if the future seems a little foggy. 
Similar to the Pastor’s encouragement on Sunday, I strive to joyfully look past what my senses may be telling me and see that God’s plan for us does not end with whatever temporary boundaries are attempting to be set up around us today!  This truth allows each of us to stay strong and hopeful in the midst of the stresses of your daily life including any persecutions that may rise up against you.
So face life with your eyes wide open.  Be aware of what you’re up against but KNOW that your agape love when attended to with longsuffering, will see you through to enjoy another day!  So… have a good day.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Decision!


Isn’t it funny how you can begin to think on a certain subject and then find significance on that subject in almost everything around you?  That has been happening for me since my early study time yesterday.  It was another one of those days where I wasn’t quite sure where to start but after I prayed was led to continue with where I had been for the last few days in Ephesians chapter four.  So that was cool!  I didn’t even have to turn the page in the various bibles I had laying open across my desk area!
Once I glanced at verse two, I knew where this was going and it looked like I was about to learn some more aspects of God’s love.  Since I already had some familiarity with the passage, I could also recall how it was stated in a few different translations.  It was the Contemporary English Version that seemed to have the best spin for what I needed to learn!  It relates Ephesians 4:2 by bluntly telling us to “Always be humble and gentle. Patiently put up with each other and love each other.”  The NKJV is a little gentler in its approach as it simply instructs us to act by “bearing with one another in love.”
What almost instantly came to my mind is that this isn’t talking about a natural love that responds to feelings and/or emotions, but it is describing God’s agape love.  It is the kind of love that works independent of the feelings of the moment or by what the senses see in any given situation.  An article I recently read on cbn.com seemed to best define God’s agape love by stating:
“Agape love is a decision to consider the needs of others ahead of your own needs… to live sacrificially… to give without demanding a return… to overlook an offense.  Most of all, agape love is a decision to receive and respond to (and in) God’s love.”  (http://www.cbn.com/spirituallife/CBNTeachingSheets/keys-love.aspx  Parenthesis mine)
I like that… It is a decision that each of us has to make!  It is something that you decide to do before you walk out the door of your home each day.  It is like being on a diet and needing to decide ahead of time what you’re going to order before walking into a restaurant or walking down the bakery section in the grocery store!  (I just started a new diet and things like that are foremost on my mind right now!)
It quickly reminded me of the times over the last few years that I had an opportunity to say something to “get back” to those who had made some derogatory comments about me, but suddenly thought against it.  It was like an unseen force was holding me back.  Now I can see that it was the Holy Spirit working in me to help me in the decision to walk in love that I had made… despite what my senses were literally SCREAMING to me!
Have you ever been there?  It doesn’t always make sense in the heat of the moment, but I can assure you that responding in God’s love is ALWAYS the best thing to calm any situation!  The Message Bible puts it as “steadily pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.”  Acting in and by God’s love according to His Word isn’t just a band-aid either.  Proverbs 17:22 says it acts like a medicine that cures the ills that the situation has produced.
So what will you DECIDE today?  To abandon your cares and throw your trust into the hands of the Lord and His agape love which neither demands nor needs any return favor, or to respond according to your immediate senses and live to regret the negative results?  Just think about it…  Have a great week!  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”  (What you DECIDE above could give you the answer to that question and make or break your day…)

Friday, February 14, 2014

Savior


It was something that the Pastor had said on Wednesday night that led me in my study this morning.  Matthew 27:62-66 started me thinking about the problems associated with taking actions based on incorrect information and then this morning, I read from Ephesians 4:1 where Paul tells us that “I, a prisoner in the Lord, encourage you to live the kind of life which proves that God has called you.” (God’s Word ©)  As I thought about this second verse, I began to see how people can actually take actions based on two kinds of wrong information.
First, as we saw in Matthew 27, we witnessed the Roman leadership taking action solely based on the intelligence report that was fed to them by the Pharisees.  In Ephesians 4:1 and further defined in the next verse, I discovered another potential action based on a foundational misconception.  Here we are being told to live the kind of life that demonstrates that we are Christians.  A life that is marked by a pattern of humbleness, gentleness and patience toward others.  It is a life that is sold out or taken captive as Paul suggests, to Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord.
That is the part that went hand in hand with the Pastor’s comment about ministering to others who need a breakthrough and not trying to play the part of savior to them in the process.   That is the definitive role that was unmistakably given by the Father to His son Jesus Christ!  According to Scofield’s Reference Notes the term “savior” is defined as “the great inclusive word of the Gospel, gathering into itself all the redemptive acts and processes.”  It takes in the ideas of safety, preservation, healing, redemption and provision.  Scofield goes on to describe its function in three tenses: “saved from the guilt and penalty of sin, being saved from the habit and dominion (and effects) of sin (where we live today!), and to be saved in the sense of entire conformity to Christ (in the hereafter).”
Whether knowingly or unknowingly, there are some folks out there who somehow have come to the incorrect conclusion that they need to act as other people’s savior when hard times come.  This false preface isn’t too difficult to see either.  Simply compare the way they react and the words they speak and compare it to Paul’s definition of a person who has become captive to Christ.  Are they humble, gentle and patient toward you or are they attempting to be authoritative, pushy with their own agenda and exemplify little to no patience with you?  I can tell you a few clear examples of this kind of behavior with a few who took it upon themselves to “help us!”  How about you?
So what is the best defense when this happens?  Well, that’s easy!  Simply act as Paul encourages us to act.  Hold your ground by responding with the humble heart of one whose trust is fully founded in Christ’s salvation for your situation, with gentle and loving words and corresponding actions (kind sounds like the definition of faith doesn’t it?) and with an extraordinary helping of patience toward them.  I can’t say that I initially excelled in the later of this three part defense, but I am learning and hopefully doing better at it!
So before you take any action in the course of dealing with the various situations that arise in your daily life, make sure that your information is correct and that your stand of faith is based on God’s unfailing love and solidly founded on Him and His Word.  Then you can joyfully endure as you watch Him displays His Academy Award winning skills as “Christ, the savior of the world.” (John 4:42 KJV)  Have a terrific weekend!  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What (or who) am I expecting (to be) today?” 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

False Intel


Yesterday was one of the few heart wrenching times that I have had in dealing with the ugly effects of the disease that my wife is fighting.  Earlier in the week I had come across a photo that was taken of us as we were preparing to drive away from the reception hall on the way to the first night of our honeymoon a couple of hours up the coast.  I down loaded the picture to my laptop and set it up as my desktop background.  Therefore I found myself staring at her bright young eyes and sweet lovely smile throughout the day whenever I used the computer.
While I prepared dinner I was streaming some music from Pandora and had the laptop open on the kitchen table.  At one point I stopped and went back to the picture and it hit me at how much I miss that glowing, bright look as she would gaze into my eyes, her physical touch and the emotional interactions that were so common in our marriage.  I paused for a few moments and then shook off the loneliness that was trying to seep in and went back to the dinner preparations.
Well, later on I made the fatal mistake of turning on a Hallmark movie and when the two actors on the movie shared a romantic moment staring into each other’s eyes I couldn’t hold back any longer.  I had to quickly get up from the couch and trot into another room where I crashed and began to cry as I thought about my wife’s current physical condition that causes the dullness that I see in her eyes and the lack of emotional contact between us.
But you know… the trauma only lasted for a second or two as I almost immediately found myself being wrapped up in the unseen love of the Father.  Then I heard His comforting words reminding me of the truth of His promises that we are standing on and of the temporary nature of the symptoms of her affliction.   And with that reassurance, it was over and I straightened up my shoulders and returned to my wife’s side.
This morning as I was looking at James’ thoughts about putting feet to your faith, I glanced over to the sideboard of my desk and focused in on one of the numerous Bible translations laying open on it.  From the New King James version I read from Matthew 27:62-66.  I won’t quote the whole thing here, but look it up when you get a chance.  In a nut shell the author is relating how the Pharisees totally turned the truth around when they went to the Roman leaders following Jesus’ death.  They related their fears that someone might come and attempt to steal Jesus’ body out of the tomb and called Jesus: “that deceiver!”  Then with that wrong information, the Romans made certain decisions and took actions to guard the tomb.
What caught my attention was how the Jewish leaders took advantage of the opportunity and did a complete 180 degree turn with the truth by calling Jesus the deceiver instead of the devil, simply to meet their fearful desires!  What quickly came to mind after seeing this was the fact that most of the accusations that were leveled against me a few years back were also based on information that was totally opposite the truth!  Then decisions were made and actions were taken against us based on that false intel!  Hummmm… a rather devious but obvious (to the one being accused but not necessarily to the accusers) ploy of the enemy of our souls.
Then it hit me!  My reactions alone in the room during the movie last night were also actions taken based on incorrect information!  For those fleeting and painful seconds when I fell apart, I was reacting to the deception of what I was seeing and feeling with my natural senses rather than what the truth of God’s Word tells us!  Once again, I am so thankful that the Lord has impressed on me the importance of continually filling my wife and I up with that truth!
Yesterday afternoon I spent some time texting back and forth with our daughter in North Carolina.  She and her husband have been caught up in the damaging winter storm that hit back there and we were discussing the stock of reserve supplies they had in case of just such an emergency.  Last night I was glad to have our reserve supply of God’s Word in us in order to quickly quell the emergency storm that hit me!
So my point for today is twofold in nature!  First, be a good Scout and always be prepared with a full supply of God’s Word stored in the recesses of your heart to use when the storms of life hit you.  And secondly, be aware of the quality and dependability of the information you have before you make decisions and take actions to the various situations of your life!  I have a few more thoughts that I’ll share with you about this second point in tomorrow’s post.  But in the meantime, just remember and meditate on the fact concerning the power of God’s Word as found in John 8:32 where Jesus said: “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” (God’s Word ©)
Have a wonderfully strong-in-the-Lord day today!  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”  

Oh by the way… I felt impressed to order my wife a dozen roses for Valentine’s Day that were delivered first thing this morning.  When I set them before her on the kitchen table, she suddenly awoke after drifting off to sleep (as I was helping her with breakfast), opened her eyes wide, took a look at the flowers and broke into a wide smile!  Then she turned and looked at me… and for a moment there… I saw those bright young eyes and lovely smile that were captured in that wedding photograph taken many years ago!  Isn’t God good!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Role of a Lifetime


I was talking with our oldest daughter who resides with her husband in the “Tar Heel” state of North Carolina the other day.  It is interesting that there are various stories that abound concerning where the nick name of “Tar Heel” came from.  The most popular of these legends centers around the state’s proliferation of tar and pitch that comes from the vast amount of Pine forests within her borders.  During the early colonial days, North Carolina produced an important source of navel stores for the British Navy.  Tar and pitch where used to seal the bottom of their wooden ships and to prevent shipworms from damaging the hulls.  As the US Civil War progressed it was said of the troops from North Carolina that they “Stuck to their ranks like they had tar on their heels!”*
But… back to my phone conversation!  At one point during our 2.5+ hour talk, I was commenting how proud I was of all our kids.  Each of them have been free to follow their dreams and are successfully establishing their lives in various places around the country!  In particular we discussed how Jamie had been a pioneer in leaving the home town and moving first to another city in California where her husband lived and worked, and then after setting and completing the goal of David’s pursuit of an engineering degree with the subsequent job offer in North Carolina, moved across the country!
As I thought on our conversation today, I realized that after being with my wife through five years of dating and courtship and going on 39 years of marriage, that the word “impossible” has not held much of an impact in our lives!  And it is one important trait that we seemed to have successfully transferred into our kids! 
Hebrews 11:1 in the James Murdock Syriac translation of the New Testament states that “Now faith is the persuasion of the things that are in hope, as if they were in act…”  I think that this is especially meaningful to me because of our background writing and directing countess skits, drama productions and musicals throughout the years.  This translation presses the point that real faith is acted out just as if what you are expecting has already come to pass!  It is confidently taking steps to physically prove your faith by acting it out in the play of your life!
I am not sure why, but acting out our faith has always been an exciting challenge to me and my wife.  From that first Folk-Rock opera that I wrote in the early 1970’s to the all church musical holiday productions that we did up until the mid-2000’s, we just never dwelt on the impossibilities and/or potential roadblocks and just stepped out in faith.  James 2:17 in the Good News Bible puts it the best by stating that “I will show you my faith by my actions!”
During the phone call to our daughter, I likened her tenacity to that of her mother.  Like I have mentioned on numerous occasions, in many ways, my wife is quite different than the rest of her family.  And I think that it is more of a difference in attitude than it is of personality types.  From our early days in High School together, Piper just seemed to have the “Let’s Do It!” and never complain attitude!  Difficulties did not stop her, but challenged her to always look for a workable solution.
I mentioned to our daughter a video we recently viewed of the first play I wrote that was filmed during the early beginnings of the last church we served at.  As the production progressed you would catch an occasional glimpse of me as I was sitting in the aisle on my knees directing the children during the play.  Then when the lights dimmed for set changes, you would see my wife as she would jump up and direct the children into their next places.  You would also hear her piano accompaniment when the little actors sang.  I referenced how Piper was never afraid to be a part of any production, large scale dinner or Family Fun Night activity that I dreamed up.  She was always game and jumped in without any thoughts of failure!  I think that is why she actively (and successfully through High School) pursued her dream of Homeschooling our kids even though both our sets of parents (and many others) were against it!  In the mid-1980’s Homeschooling was taboo and not seen as a legitimate alternative like it is today!
Our youngest daughter once confided in me how she recalled that her Mom always encouraged her to follow her dreams of pursuing ballet and writing.  Piper has always been one to simply take God at His Word and trust Him to do what He said He would do!  There was never any hesitation as to her acting out her faith once she believed that she received what God's Word said was hers.
While meditating on all this earlier today, I wrote down that “God’s Word is an adventure book and that it should put such an expectation of God’s favor in you that you are sparked into action!”  2 Corinthians 6:2 says that “Now is the day of salvation.” (KJV)  Murdock puts it even more succinctly as: “Now is the time of life”  Either translation though, comes with a definite sense of urgency.  It goes hand in hand with Hebrews 11:1 where it declares “Now faith is…”  It is all about putting your faith into action right NOW, and not hesitating while you consider all your doubts and/or what others might say!
Remember Mark 10:27 tells us that “with men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.” (KJV)  So here’s your chance to star in the production of your life!  Just keep in mind who the director is and in Whom you have placed your trust!  Have a good day today.  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself…”What am I expecting today?”
 

*“Carolina Traditions”  www.udc.edu. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Itsy Bitsy Spider!


Have you ever had the experience where you know that God is trying to tell you something or lovingly teach you a lesson but you just don’t seem to be catching on?  Well I have and in fact it’s been happening quite regularly lately!  Throughout the day I will find myself asking my wife how’s she’s doing, only to catch myself with a slight hesitation and a laugh and then quickly rephrasing my question by telling her instead, how God’s Word says that she is doing.
One morning a few weeks back, I was gently awakening my wife and singing one of my silly little personal ditties I made up which went like this:
“Good morning, good morning, good morning,
 Good morning Piper Kaye.
 Good morning, good morning, good morning,

 How are you today?”

When I got to that last line, the revelation of what I was saying or rather what I should be declaring to her first thing in the morning came to my mind.  I stopped in mid-verse, looked her in the eye and declared: “You know Honey, I know how you’re doing… and instead of asking you how, I’m going to tell you what God says about how you’re doing!”  Then right then and there I changed the last line to:

“Good morning, good morning, good morning,
 You’re doing well today!”
Well, ever since that morning I have tried to sing the new version of the silly song to her.  I say try because I still regularly catch myself about to say the old line and ask the question that God has already answered for us!  Like I said, I know that He is trying to make a point to me and my wife, but for some reason I have had a hard time getting this new way of thinking into my mind!  You know that saying that “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?”  Could I be that dog?  The good thing is that this saying has been proved to be false… so maybe there’s hope for me yet!
This morning as I sang that tune to her, I caught myself ahead of time and began to sing the updated, biblically correct version to her.  But as I was about half way through the song the weirdest thing happened.  Out of seemingly nowhere, a little spider dropped onto my wife’s arm that she was resting her head on.  Once it landed, it took off like a flash and scrambled between her hand and head, right under her left eye!
Needless to say, I was more than a little surprised and without much thought I quickly reached in and grabbed the little arachnid between my fingers, pulled it away and squished it!  Then when I realized what I had down, I tossed the mess between my fingers onto the floor and uttered “Yuck!”  In that mille-second before I reacted, I had all kinds of thoughts flying through my mind like “What am I going to do?” “I gotta get it out before it bites her!” and most importantly… “I hate spiders!”
As I sat stunned on my knees by my wife’s bedside, I thanked the Lord for helping me to get the little bugger before anything happened and then broke into a hearty chuckle and said “You’re not gonna have your way with us today Mr. Devil!”  Then I recalled the familiar verse in Deuteronomy 28:13 where the Lord told the children of Israel that He would make them the head and not the tail! 
I also had to laugh because while I have usually tended to shy away from spiders (did I ever mention the large ugly ones they had in Oklahoma… both in our yard AND inside the house…) my little wife would show no mercy, fearlessly whip off her shoe and smash them against the wall!  Then she would give me that sassy smile I mentioned yesterday, turn and walk out of the room leaving the mess for me to clean up!
Well, I was pretty proud of myself as I looked over to Piper so that she could shower me with praise and wouldn’t you know… she slept through the whole thing!  So with a triumphant smirk at the enemy of our souls, I gently woke her up, grabbed our confession sheet that we keep at her bedside and preceded to read to her what the Lord says about her health!
This incident this morning was slightly weird and somewhat shocking to my system, but nevertheless was a great example of taking what is dished out to us and turning it into a victory for God… no matter how small or insignificant the event is!  In this journey of my wife’s health that we have been walking over the last few years, I have learned to not give the devil an inch because if you do, he will help himself to the next mile of your life!
I love that old hymn where it says:
“Oh victory in Jesus,
 My savior forever.
 He sought me and He bought me,
 With His redeeming blood…”
And I choose to live in the victory that He bought for me to enjoy!  When push comes to shove, He gives me the ability to step out of my fears and walk in the authority and victory that the cross provided for me to live in.  How about you?  Are you going to let the surprise spiders of life direct your day, or move in the victory that He has provided for you?  Kind of a No-Brainer!  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting (to squish!) today?”