Our New Home

Our New Home
Fall is defintely in the air!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Tug of War


Wow!  I can’t hardly believe that it is the end of March already.  It seems like the time is just flying by this year.  Lately I find myself looking at the calendar at the end of each week on Friday’s and try to figure out what happened to Monday through Thursday!   With our upcoming move, we have been in a very busy season.  So far I have been able to keep a handle on all the activities before me by simply scheduling out my week on Monday’s and then concentrating on one day at a time.  Maybe that’s why I tend to forget the days gone past, since I am so focused on the current day’s events.
This morning as I was getting ready for the day in the quiet still of the early hour, I was reminded of Philippians 4:6-7 where Paul encourages us to “Never worry about anything.  But in every situation let God know what you need in prayers and requests while giving thanks.  Then God’s peace, which goes beyond anything we can imagine, will guard your thoughts and emotions through Christ Jesus.”  (God’s Word ©)  Right then and there I stopped and went through the list of everything I had before me to accomplish this week and gave it all to Him.  Then I took a few moments and just thanked Him for hearing my prayer and for the release of His peace into my mind and heart.  And you know… it worked!  Whereas moments before I was feeling the pressure of my packed “To Do List”, after the pray an uncanny rest began to overtake my thoughts and my emotions!
Now that’s the way to start a busy week… Any week in fact!  What do you think?  If you’re not in peace, then you probably haven’t given Him your needs.  Or, maybe you gave them to Him but are playing a little tug of war as you hang on and attempt to take it back when you step out of the spiritual realm and allow yourself to be governed by your own imaginations again.  So what will it be?  Do you trust Him or not?  As my lovely wife would say: “Are you a Believer or not?”  Remember, Believers believe His Word, they do not give into doubt!  Think about it as you start your new week…  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting (to believe) today?”

Friday, March 28, 2014

Advice from a Veteran


When my wife and I celebrated our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary some fourteen years ago, we were asked by a newly married individual what the key to the longevity of our marriage was.  It was like he was asking so that he might take it into consideration for his marriage.  I found a similar situation as I read from I Timothy this morning.  Here we find the seasoned minister Paul sharing with his young protégé from his vast experience of his years in the ministry.   Paul talks about some of the problems that Timothy will be facing, gives him some solid advice and then explains, “My goal in giving you this order is for love to flow from a pure heart, from a clear conscience, and from a sincere faith.” (I Timothy 1:5 God’s Word ©)  In the next few verses Paul goes on saying that “Some people have left these qualities (that are directed and fed by love) behind and have turned to useless discussions… they don’t understand what their talking about or the things about which they speak so confidently.” (I Timothy1:6-7 God’s Word ©)
In Galatians 5:6 he tells his readers that “What matters most is a faith that expresses itself through love.” (God’s Word ©)  The King James succinctly puts it as “faith which worketh by love.”  It would seem that Paul’s greatest piece of advice was to agree with Jesus and John’s philosophy that love was the highest law to follow.  In modern terms I think Paul would have told Timothy that in every decision it is best to always default to love.
What makes this action even more exciting and possible is that God has already given us all the tools we need to follow this directive!  Romans 5:5 informs us that “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost.” (KJV)  I John 4:19 declares that “we (can) love because God loved us first” (CEV) and then Romans 8:39 drives the point home by undeniably stating that “There is nothing in all creation that will ever separate us from the love of God which is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord.” (GNB)  There is nothing that others – or yourself – can do or say that will separate you from His love… nothing!
I think the hard part comes when we are faced with a situation and have to be still long enough to hear and then obey what He, in His love, says to do about it!  I’ve learned that many times the best thing to do when wanting to help others is nothing!  To simply reach out, hold their hand and allow the love of God to flow into the situation without trying to infuse my personal wisdom or thoughts.  I believe that Christians, even Pastor’s, don’t always have to have the answer for someone else’s needs… and that this is okay!  I’ve found out that it is okay to admit that you might not have an answer but to quietly stand with them, with the understanding that God in His loving and kingly position does!
Some of the most understanding and moving times that I and others have spent with my wife during this battle for her health have been experienced as we simply sat, looked at each other and held hands. Most people, even those who have been very close to her are very uncomfortable with this type of interaction.  Many of them immediately feel like they need to say something, or control the interaction when all that comes out are the useless and misunderstanding words or discussions that Paul told Timothy about.
One of the countless lessons I learned at Bible School was the importance of the Pastor’s quiet presence and show of love and support with a family whose is grieving over the loss of a loved one.  Within the realm of that quiet atmosphere, the love, power and healing of the Lord is released and ministers to a greater effect than any empty words could ever accomplish.
Like I mentioned in other posts this week, it takes great confidence in God and in ourselves to simply “be” a quiet vessel of His love to those in need.  Just being present to them can mean more than anything else.  So what is stopping you from loving others this weekend?  You have all that it takes inside to do this!  All you need is a little guts, a little practice and lots of trust and patience!  It’s actually pretty easy when you come right down to it!  Just offer yourself and let God do the rest.  Have a great weekend.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting today?”

 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Senior Citizens


I’m not sure when it all began, but as far as I can remember I have always enjoyed being around senior citizens who have a zest for life.  I would imagine that the mold was set for me by my maternal grandparents.  While their family history definitely held an important place in their memories and they would tell the occasional story of their childhood or other funny incidents concerning their parents or great grandparents going back to our family’s origins in Italy, my Grandpa and Grandma Coniglio lived very much in the present.  They embraced life!  They stayed up on current events, modern conveniences, financial trends and enjoyed a very active interest in the lives of their family.  One of my favorite things to do when I was young was to spend some time with Grandpa going over the new GM catalog of new cars after he picked it up at a local dealer each September.  I could talk with both of them on almost any subject from movie stars, to gardening, to presidential affairs, baseball or cooking.  These two individuals made an indelible mark upon my life.
When I began dating my wife and attending her church, I came into another whole set of seniors who were modern and in sync not only with life but with Jesus and His move of the Spirit in the seventies and eighties.  I could give you name after name of older individuals and couples who greatly influenced me in the early days of my Christian walk.  After we were married and had left that church after eight years of service as their Youth and Singles ministers we began to attend a small Word of Faith fellowship and met another exciting older couple that we had the pleasure of knowing for many years to come.
This couple was actually from Petaluma, another city about 20- 30 minutes south of our home town.  They were so committed to Jesus and our tiny fellowship that they made that commute well into their 80’s and early 90’s.  Piper and I had the pleasure of spending many wonderful times fellowshipping with them in their home.  We also had the privilege of ministering to them in the hospital at various times and then when they were just about ready to go home to be with the Lord.  (They died within a short time of each other)  These two folks had such a vibrant and exuberant love for the Lord that was very contagious to anyone who came into their presence.  I will never forget the look of Christ’s love that shined from their eyes!
I imagine that the Apostle John had a similar constitution as that couple when he wrote his three letters toward the end of our bibles.  It is widely believed that he was in the final season of his long life when he penned these meaningful discourses to the people he loved.  This was a man who had been jailed, probably beaten a time or two, banished to a lonely piece of rock loosely called an island and also boiled in hot oil, but still loved the Lord and those he came into contact, with a heart that was totally sold out to God.  This was a man that intimately KNEW the love that his heavenly Father had for him and he openly and generously shared it with others.  He was also the only member of the original twelve apostles that died a natural death at a very old and prosperous age!
He said things like, “Real love isn’t our love for God, but his love for us.” (1 John 4:10 CEV)  “We love because God loved us first.” (I John 4:19 God’s Word ©)  “Whoever says, ‘I love God,’ but hates another believer is a liar….” (God’s Word ©)  “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” (KJV) and then he stood in agreement with what James called “The Royal Law of Love” by concluding that most important chapter of his first letter, “Christ has given us this commandment: the person who loves God must also love other believers as well.” (I John 4:21 God’s Word ©)
John was a man that had successfully lived a long and rewarding life that was totally centered or focused on Jesus.  In his introduction to the three epistles of John in the Message Bible, Eugene H. Peterson wrote: “Jesus the Messiah, is the focus: Jesus provides the full and true understanding of God; Jesus shows us the mature working-out of love.  In Jesus, God and love are linked accurately, intricately, and indissolubly.”
John was one of those beloved and well-traveled seniors whose life we should take into account as we live our daily lives!  Love was not only his motto, it was his life.  I think that is how I want to be known… what about you?  Have a great day!  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Whose LOVE am I expecting to BE and SHARE today?”

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Loving... yourself!


James 2:8 tells us that “You are doing right if you obey this law from the highest authority and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’” (God’s Word ©) As I read this and look back on the various experiences of my life, it would seem that the second part of that authoritative law is the key to the first part!  I have found that it is very difficult to reach out to others in love if you don’t have a very high opinion of yourself.  And the best way to have a positive outlook on yourself is to see yourself through the eyes of love that God sees you through…
I really don’t mean to sound like a broken record when I keep bringing up some of the words and actions that were said and/or taken against me as I scrambled to care for my wife’s escalating needs a few years back, but you know… it was quite a learning experience for me and I hope that by sharing my lessons that I can help others in similar situations.
As I read about the Royal Law of Love this morning it dawned on me that the scariest part of what I went through was not so much the things that were cast upon me, but my reactions to them… I WANTED REVENGE!  I kind of went through a progression of responses as things unfolded before me.  At first there was confusion that led to frustration.  Then as I tried to make sense of what was going on so as to understand the consequences, I was shocked at the people and their words, the manner in which and to whom they were delivered to and finally as it all began to sink in, I experienced the pain of it all.  And that’s really when my desire to strike back, to attempt to prove how wrong they were so that I could discredit them, began to play around in my mind!
But I am thankful for trained responses deep within me, for in the midst of this stage I went to the Lord and His Word to get some directions and answers.  It was in His Word that I came into a greater understanding of the Royal Law of Love while studying Paul’s prayer to his readers as found in Ephesians 3:14-20.  As I have mentioned in this blog on many occasions, it was coming into the intimate knowledge of “Christ’s love which goes far beyond any (natural) knowledge” (Ephesians 3:19 God’s Word ©) that gave me the strength to love myself and then love those who had unknowingly (I have to believe) sent daggers my way.
In the midst of my confusion, questions and pain, I saw myself through the same loving ways that Jesus sees me and therefore was able to do the same to those coming against me.  It was this love toward me and toward them that helped me to shut up (my mouth as well as quiet my mind!), to be patient and to stay in a friendly and ministerial usable position with the others.  It also opened the door for me to learn most every lesson that God has desired for me to learn through it all!  Mind you that I am not inferring that He caused any of this, but I am a firm believer that He uses the situations in our life (both positive and negative) to teach us many things.
As you allow yourself to be saturated in Jesus’ love, you will begin to see others in a whole new light.  And it will become much easier and much more of a regular part of your day to reach out and touch others with your physical actions… or works of love toward them.  Have a great day!  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting today?”

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Works...


The New Testament book of James is one of my favorite reads when observed from a pastoral viewpoint.  The encouraging and instructive words within its pages drip with a pastor’s heart of love for his people.  As I continued to look at what James termed as the Royal Law of Love, I began to see certain teachings that I have believed throughout my Christian walk in a new or expanded light.  Over the years I have heard (and preached) countless sermons focused on the need for Believer’s to put feet to their faith.  Pastor James’ teaching as remembered in James 2:17 has always been a foundational verse in my understanding of that truth.  The Murdock translation states it as: “So faith alone, without works, is dead.”
When you combine this scripture with the definition of faith in Hebrews 11:1 and then follow it up with the examples of those listed in the heroes of our faith later on in that same chapter as well as with the physical ministry of Jesus in the Gospels and the Apostle’s ministry in the book of Acts, it is clear as how we are taught to demonstrate or prove our faith in the biblical truths that we are believing and walking in throughout our lives.  So while I still wholeheartedly believe in the necessity of walking out our faith, I did begin to see the meaning of James’ words within the actual context in which he was teaching this truth.
When one reads from the first two chapters of the book of James you will see that the pastor is teaching his congregation about the importance of reaching out and touching the lives of others with the love of God.  He is instructing them about the practical side of The Royal Law of Love!  He talks about watching what you say to others, being patient, not preferring certain individuals over others because of the way they may look, and about taking the time to assist those in need.  Then he sums it all up with a clear example that everyone could understand by saying:
“What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?  Can faith save him?  If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?  Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:14-17 NKJV)
As I studied this out over the last two days, I clearly saw that James is calling those things that he terms “works” as doing whatever it takes to be obedient to the Royal Law of Love! My favorite God’s Word translation says “If you don’t provide for that person’s physical needs, what good does it do?”  The Easy to Read Version of the bible tells us in James 2:8 that “One law rules over all other laws.  This royal law is found in the Scriptures: ‘Love your neighbor the same as you love yourself.’  If you obey this law you are doing right.”
It would seem that James was teaching his congregation that Christianity is a very tangible religion.  According to Merriam-Webster that means a Christian’s actions should be “easily seen or recognized – able to be touched or felt.”  My wife’s and my personal experience over the last few years tells me that there are a lot of folks out there that haven’t been taught that lesson!  I can’t tell you what it means to me when someone reaches out and physically takes a moment to touch my wife and become involved with her, if it only be for a few moments.
There are two ladies in our neighborhood that we pass fairly often during our daily walks around the park-like setting of our little community.  And while most others we see along the way will pass us by with a simple “Hi”, these two older women always stop for a moment and converse with us.  Then one of them invariably reaches out and puts her hand on Piper’s shoulder and smiles or waves to her.  Their love and compassion is evident by their actions… and it chokes me up every time!  And you know… I don’t even know their names or whether they are Believer’s or not.  I guess it really doesn’t matter because their actions show where their hearts are!
Well, what do you think?  I know that this has sure got me thinking about how I am (or need to be more) obedient to the Royal Law of Love in my daily life!  What works do you act out in your life that demonstrate your faith?  It is real easy to tell someone to be warm and filled… but it takes a notch out of our busy schedules to fix then a meal…  Have a great day!  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting today?”

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Royal Law...


Back in the 1980’s my wife and I followed and supported a particular TV ministry.  They had a weekly broadcast of their Sunday morning services that we would turn on and watch as we got ready for our own church service.  At this time we were beginning to cut out teeth, sort of say, as Praise and Worship leaders at our small local fellowship.  We had recently left the church where I had started out in the ministry as the Youth Minister.  During that time I normally led our own growing youth group in weekly singspirations and also had the privilege of leading large groups of youth in song at many regional American Baptist Churches of the West Snow Camps in the Tahoe area.
After we had been at the new church for a short while, the Pastor asked my wife and I to sing a special during a church service.  Then when the Pastor’s wife had to miss a few Sunday’s for the birth of their fourth or fifth child, we were asked to fill in leading Praise and Worship for her.  Well, as it turns out… we were asked to take over the position permanently and humbly jumped at the opportunity.  The only problem I soon found out was that leading a congregation into the throne room of God through anointed Praise and Worship was quite different than from leading junior and senior high kids in rambunctious songs!  Needless to say, we had a steep learning curve ahead of us, but thank God that He, our Pastors and the congregation were very patient and merciful to us!
One of the reasons we made a point to watch the TV ministry each week was to observe the Praise and Worship team lead their 8000 plus member church.  Their worship leader was very talented, very exuberant and masterfully led the church into God’s presence as he prepared the congregation to receive the Word with an open, sensitive and reverent heart.  Even now, after all these years, I still remember his techniques and openness to the leading of the Spirit.  I also remember one of the sermons that the Pastor of that ministry preached so long ago entitled “The Royal Law of Love.” That particular teaching so moved me at the time that I ordered a CD (remember those?) of the message and literally wore the tape out because I listened to it so much!
For some reason, that title popped into my mind this morning as I was getting dressed and began to pray over my morning quiet time in the Word.  So with no further direction, I opened up my Bible to James chapters one and two where this royal decree is spoken of by the pastor of the church in Jerusalem.  James 2:8 tells us that “if you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you do well.” (NKJV)  Adam Clarke’s commentary states that “This law… is a royal law, not only because it is ordained from God and proceeds from his kingly authority over men, but because it is so useful, so suitable and necessary to the present state of man.”
I would go as far as to say that this royal law is probably THE foundational basis for the strikingly new and dynamic teaching that Jesus introduced to mankind!  Over the years, this truth has had the power to change my life, to change the way I respond to others, and to change the way I think about myself.  It has also been an evolving process that seems to be continually unfolding new layers and depths as I proceed along the path of my life.
Hummm… the Royal Law of Love.  There is a lot there to consider!  So, we’ll dig into this subject a little more throughout this week.  In the meantime, consider how this law that all begins with His unfailing and non-judgmental love for you and me is the royal decree that supersedes every activity and should be the one true guide for all we say and do in our daily lives.  Have a terrific week!  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting today?”

Friday, March 21, 2014

Investment Expectations!


Yesterday my wife and I went to see our new financial counselor.  It was a most informative session for me as we looked at all the potential possibilities ahead for us, especially with our impending move to North Carolina in May.  In some respects, the appointment was like old home week for my wife and I as the office administrator was a lady that we had attended First Baptist Church with during the courtship and early years of our marriage.  In fact, she had done the flowers for our wedding!  It was exciting to talk about the past and catch up on the whereabouts of many of the people that we had been close to.
It was fun for me to observe my wife’s reactions during the couple of hours that we were there.  At first she was dozing on and off, but as we delved deeper into our financial future she raised her head, watched what was going on and even nodded at different comments and decisions.  Our financial advisor was openly enthralled at her interest in our meeting.  He figured that she would be “bored” and out of touch with the conversation due to her condition.  For me it was just a testimony to the work that God is doing in her, and also because we have always been in agreement with our finances and once again, the real Piper on the inside was pushing its way out of the fog that has tried to infiltrate her mind.  I believe that she was testifying to the supernatural healing power of God that is revitalizing her body!
As I read from John chapter seven this morning, I recalled the reactions of those in the office yesterday, and reflected upon how frustrating it must be to those (especially Christians who have tasted of the glory of God) who cannot accept the supernatural foundation of Christ’s message.  In John 7:15-36 I see three different reactions to the thruth that Jesus was sharing.  There were those who readily accepted His message and then those who were confused because they thought they knew His background and family tree and had a difficult time receiving the supernatural context of His teachings.  And lastly there was the group that simply rejected what He said because it didn’t fit into their experience, into their traditions or what could be termed as their “box!”
Jesus continually attempted to shift their attention off of Him and onto His Father, but many could not let go of their dependence on the natural realm.  This is something that we see on a regular basis as my wife and I interact with people wherever we go.  The exciting part of this is that the Lord has just about always given us an opportunity to share where we stand when it comes to the final outcome of my wife’s life.  I think that I have finally learned to be patient and wait for the Lord’s openings before I try to share our faith with others.  Yesterday it was like the Lord was masterfully laying the foundation through our talk of the past with the admin and our financial leader, about our current and future financial history and plans and then how God has had a hand in all of it, which led the way to discuss what we believe is His will for my wife’s future.
I think that this is one of God’s greatest purposes for all Christians on this earth who believe in the supernatural, miraculous place of our heavenly Father in their lives.  To bring a hope that extents way beyond the confines of the natural limits of our understandings.  When you take a look at scriptures such as those found in Ephesians 3:19, Philippians 4:7, Ephesians 3:20, Matthew 19:26, Mark 9:23, Mark 11:22-24, and Jesus’ final prayer to His Father as He was about to go to the cross in Mark 14:36, you can’t help but to stand up and shout (at least I can’t!) over the freedom and potential that He sets forth in our lives because of the unlimited possibilities of His love and supernatural power working in, for and through us!
In Mark 14:36 Jesus intimately spoke to His Father saying “Abba! (or Daddy) Father!  You can do anything.  Take this cup of suffering away from me.  But let your will be done rather than mine.”  He knew that His Dad had the ability to do anything in this world and beyond for Him, yet He also knew that what was most important in this situation was not what He wanted, but what His Father knew to be the best for Him and therefore also for you and me! 
What excites me beyond measure is that we also can know what God’s will for us is… because it is found in His Word within the pages of our Bibles!  That’s why I can be so sure about the outcome of this attack on my wife’s health and therefore joyfully and confidently share this expectation (or Bible hope…) with others who react in despair and hopelessness when they see her.  There is hardly anything more rewarding to me than to leave an encounter with people like those wonderful folks yesterday and look back at the smile of hope that replaced the fear of hopelessness on their faces as we left.
Have you ever had the privilege of experiencing that?  If God can use me and a women who according to medical science is in the later stages of Alzheimer’s to testify of His supernatural abilities… then he can also use you!  WOW!  I tell you… there is nothing like spreading the joy that comes from an earnest expectation of God’s best in the lives of others.  Have a great weekend.  Make a point to invest some of your time in spreading Godly expectations to those you encounter and then rejoice!  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting today?”

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Too Tough To Swallow


I wrote the other day of all the wondrous loaves of delicious homemade bread that my wife used to bake early in our marriage.  But as I broke down some of the original intent of what Jesus was saying in John 6:58 this morning, I began to recall some memories of the loaves that she cooked that were not quite so wondrous…
Jesus told the crowd and in particular His disciples that “the one who makes a meal of me lives because of me.” (God’s Word ©)  The phrase “makes a meal” or simply “eateth” in the King James literally means “to gnaw or to chew, through the idea of making a crunching sound.” (Strong’s and Thayer’s)  It was the crunch that got me to laughing this morning.  While my wife’s culinary creations were absolutely wonderful to her young and totally infatuated husband, there were a few times when things didn’t quite turn out as planned!
Once in a while one had to crunch through a pretty hard or burnt crust, or chew heartily on a slice when something went array and the bread dropped, weighed a ton and had the consistency of rubber!  With those memories in mind, I can understand why the disciples remarked to Jesus that “this is a tough teaching, too tough to swallow!” (John 6:60 The Message)
What was interesting was that when you took a bite from one of those aberrations from the normal loaves she baked when they were fresh from the oven, that you could barely discern the difference.  It was when the bread cooled and settled that the unique characteristics of that loaf came out.  Which means that I had a surprise waiting for me when I took my first bite of my delicious looking sandwich at lunch later in the day!  But you know, I loved my wife so much that I gnawed, chewed and crunched through every tough slice anyway… and I was always satisfied when I was (finally) finished!
Jesus’ teaching and the examples of eating those few tough loaves of my wife’s bread got me to thinking about some of Jesus’ words that I have found hard to swallow at different times in my life.  I know that I have shared in many blogs about some of the tough things that were said and done to me over the last few years.  Those experiences were very difficult for me to handle, but in some respects, God’s answers to those times may have even been harder!  It wasn’t easy to swallow His ingredients of love and forgiveness when I just wanted to spit out what had been dished out to me.  I honestly confess, that the whole situation took a lot of tough chewing and at times had the audible sound of crunching as I gnawed through my anger and distrust.
But in the end, it was worth the time I took to chew on and digest His Words… because His way was the right way!  One of the many lessons I’ve learned is of the diligence it takes to chew through and swallow what He asks of us, even when it makes your spiritual jaws a little sore!  The satisfaction you get afterwards is worth all the extended effort.
Have you ever been dealt of slice of bread like that in your life?  My advice would be to seek the Lord’s recipe and to chew heartily until you can swallow His truth.  That’s when you can really experience that personal “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding”  (Philippians 4:7 KJV)  Have a great day.  Enjoy your meals today and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting today?”

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh!


I was encouraged as I continued to read Jesus’ words to the Jews in John chapter six.  In verse 63 the English Majority Text Version of the Bible reads, “It is the Spirit who makes alive, the flesh profits nothing.  The words that I speak to you are (filled with the) spirit, and they are (filled with) life.” (parenthesis mine)  Jesus was pouring out His heart to these folks and they refused to accept the truth that He was speaking because they couldn’t see past their own experiences in life.
In the context of this event Jesus continually pointed to the Word and the Spirit as the only true and reliable source of life!  What encouraged me was the knowledge that every time I read and speak out the Word into my life, to my wife, and into the atmosphere in my home, I am releasing the life giving, revitalizing, invigorating energy of the Spirit of God!  Okay… stop what you’re doing, take a deep breath and exclaim with me: “WOW!”
If that fact doesn’t stop you in your tracks, put a smile on your face and put you in awe of God, then I think you better pinch yourself to see if you’re still alive!  There are times in my day when I’ll look at the symptoms I see in my wife’s eyes and I may want to cry or even throw the closest object I can get my hands on across the room, but then I’ll stop, remember what He has already accomplished for her healing and begin to speak out the Word of healing over her and me.  And SUDDENLY everything changes!  The way I feel, the way I see her and the expectations of my heart burst forth with His energy and life!
It really hurts me when I see some who are close to my wife as they wallow in hopelessness over her.  They remind me of those to whom Jesus was speaking to in John chapter six.  Even though they are mature Christians in many ways, for some reason they refuse to see His truth as the key that I see as setting my wife free from this attack of the enemy.  Instead of joy, peace and the light of His love and encouragement, I see hopelessness, darkness and a sadness that wants to suck the life out of them and from Piper and me as well!  (and you know… my wife can also sense it as she gets very quiet when in their presence.  The opposite is true when she is around people with the hope of God in their lives.  We spent a fantastic evening the other night with my cousin and her husband and Piper lit up like a bright light as my cousin held her hand and talked and laughed with her.  Piper is still smiling and more alert than in the past… and it’s been three days now!)
Well, I refuse to accept anything that might bring me down!  I choose life!  Besides, as Jesus stated according to the modern Message Bible in John chapter six, “Don’t bicker among yourselves over me.  You’re not in charge here.  The Father who sent me is in charge.”  So… if He’s really in charge why not speak His words over the situation and let His Spirit and His life invigorate, heal, encourage and bring life into every situation!
It works for me… how about you?  Why waste your time and your breath?  Simply speak His life into yours, as well as to those around you!  As the words from TobyMac’s song “Speak Life” say:
“So speak Life, speak Life.

 To the deadest, darkest night.

 Speak Life, speak Life.

 When the sun won’t shine and you don’t know why.

 Look into the eyes of the brokenhearted;

 Watch them come alive as soon as you speak hope,

 You speak love, you speak…

 You speak Life, (oh oh oh oh oh oh) You speak Life. (oh oh oh oh oh oh)”
 

Kinda puts a hop in your step doesn’t it!  I like it: Speak Life! Oh oh oh oh oh oh!  Have a great day!  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself: “Oh! Oh! What or Whom am I expecting today?”

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Homemade Bread


In the early 1980’s after my wife had quit her job in order to stay home and raise our fledgling family and eventually homeschool the kids, she developed a fascination for baking homemade bread.  I must admit that I was very happy about her new hobby as I was the willing recipient of her experiments!  It was like heaven when I would get up in the morning and smell the delicious flavor of fresh bread emanating from the kitchen!  She would use all different kinds of cooking tins from the normal bread pan to coffee cans, which made for a unique array of funny looking sandwiches.  This never bothered me because they tasted so good that I didn’t care what shape they were.  It also helped that I normally ate my lunch in my car or on a bench outside alone so I could work on the many church productions I was writing at any given time.
The memories of the warm kitchen in my grandmother’s house that we were renting, the heavenly scent of the bread cooking in the oven and the taste of her yeasty confections filtered back into my thoughts (and taste buds!) this morning as I read John 6:35 where Jesus told those who had gathered to hear Him that, “I am the bread of life.  Whoever comes to me will never become hungry, and whoever believes in me will never become thirsty.” (God’s Word ©)  Piper’s deliciously filling homemade bread satisfied just like Jesus said He would do for us who would establish our confidence, expectations and faith in Him.
The idea of His being the satisfaction of our lives is something that I have been attempting to fully experience over the last few years.  On Sunday I was itching to do something and although we had some appointments earlier in the day, we were able to slip out of the house and go for a short ride just before dinner.  Because of the lateness of the hour I put off the desire to go to the coast about 45 minutes away and instead drive north to the small, scenic community of Healdsburg using the back roads that meander through rolling hills dotted with farms and vineyards.
The land on which the city of Healdsburg resides was part of the original 48,837 acre Rancho Sotoyome Mexican Land grant that was given to the San Diego Sea Captain Henry D. Fitch in 1840.  Fitch was married to the sister in law of General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo of early California historical fame.  In 1857 an Ohio business man named Harmon Heald purchased 100 acres of the rancho giving the new town that was to be established there its official founding date.  The small city of approximately 1100 plus inhabitants is one of northern California’s wine capitals as three of the most important wine producing regions meet in Healdsburg.  The focal point of the town is its 19th century plaza surrounded on all four sides by restaurants, boutiques, antique stores and other businesses that cater to the tourist trade.
As we drove through the downtown area around the plaza, we enjoyed gazing at the myriad of people that were gathered in the park or who walked around the crowded plaza talking, laughing and looking into the brightly decorated storefronts.  But then it hit me and it was just too much for me to take… What caught my attention were all the couples walking hand in hand enjoying the sights and sounds of the day.  And what made it worse was that most of the couples that day seemed to be around the age of my wife and I. 
Suddenly I felt that emptiness that has attempted to creep in with the on slot of the dementia that has attacked my wife.  The lack of her touch, her reassuring words, that sassy look in her eyes and the comfort and security that only she gave to me within our relationship flew past my eyes in a flash and to be honest, I had to turn the car around and head home as I could not look at the contentment and happiness on the faces of those couples in the plaza anymore!  As I drove home I squeezed my wife’s hand as she dozed in the passenger seat next to me and began to pray and give to Him that increasing void inside of me. 
This and more came back to me this morning as I meditated on Jesus’ words concerning His desire to be our satisfaction to the point that we would never hunger or thirst again.  It was interesting to me that one of the definitions for the word “hunger” that Jesus spoke of is “those who painfully feel their want of and eagerly long for those things which by which the soul is refreshed, supported and strengthened.” (Thayer’s)  That’s precisely the pain I was feeling on Sunday as we drove past the crowed downtown plaza in Healdsburg.
I jotted down some of my thoughts about this today and wrote, “I don’t think that I ever necessarily took Piper for granted throughout the 41 years of our relationship, but still, she was always there for me, always perky, and always loving, and supportive of me no matter how outlandish my dreams and hopes were!”  She was always full of joy with a zeal for life, always positive.  Looking back at it now, I can see that I depended on her more than I ever realized.
Now that all of that which is the real her is under attack, I have to depend on Jesus for all of what she was to me… And probably, I should have been doing that all along!  After all, He is the bread of life.  He is the ultimate satisfaction of our lives.  He is the one who is ALWAYS there on the good days as well as on the bad days!  He is (or should be) the very foundation of our life of love… of everything we do in our daily lives.
Well, I’ve had to learn the hard way to make Jesus the bread and the satisfaction of my life.  How about you?  Are there other things or other people that you have unknowingly put in that place in your life?  I’m learning that putting Him absolutely first does not lessen the love you have for the special ones in your life, but instead enhances your love for them!  It may be a little hard to explain, but that’s just the way He works to make our lives a better place.  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting today?”

Monday, March 17, 2014

What or Whom?


I always have to chuckle a bit when it comes to my memories of St. Patrick’s Day.  Not that my thoughts really have anything to do with the individual who is remembered as the Apostle of Ireland, but of an event that repeated itself continually over the last twenty years or more.
About a week or so before my birthday my mother would always call me up and invite me and my family over for dinner in order to celebrate my special day.  Being as my birthday is only a few days previous to today’s celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, my Mother would always ask me if I wanted steak or corned beef and cabbage.  Each year, without much consideration I would immediately reply steak, as I knew that she and my Dad would broil up some delicious and selective cuts of meat that were of a much more tender variety than what we could afford while raising a family of four kids!
Well, you probably guessed it… when we arrived at my folks, my Mom would invariably inform us that she decided on the corn beef and cabbage because they hadn’t had it in such a long time!  So I would look to my kids and we would quietly smile and hide our disappointment at the same time!  Today’s memory of that yearly ritual was bitter-sweet since my Mom and Dad’s passing over the last year.
As the years went by, I learned to expect the unfolding of the menu for my birthday dinner at my parents, and simply enjoyed the fun and fellowship that we had with them at that special gathering.  As I read the story of Jesus walking on the water and His rescue of His terrified disciples from John 6:16-21, I related my learned birthday menu experience with that of the disciples.
Since this was early in Jesus’ earthly ministry, the disciples were still learning about the miracle worker who they had joined up with.  In the midst of the storm, when they were most vulnerable in the middle of the sea, they did not recognize their Deliverer coming to them on the water.  Instead they were terrified and thought the worst of the situation instead of the best!   As the years went by though, they became more and more knowledgeable of how Jesus operated until the point where their actions became a mirror of His after His departure to heaven.
Have you ever had an experience when you didn’t immediately recognize the hand of Jesus as He interceded for you in the midst of the situation?  We probably all have.  His appearance may not always be as noticeable or spectacular as it was when He defied the very laws of nature and walked across the water to the disciple’s boat, but we can rest assured in knowing that He will always arrive on the scene as we place our faith and trust in Him!
With this in mind, I guess I could actually update the foundation statement of this blog from “What are you expecting?” to WHOM are you expecting?”  And that leads me to the inevitable question of are you expecting Him to come on the scene of your daily life?  Are you expecting the worst or His best?  Well, the best reply for these questions would be to agree with Joshua when he told the Children of Israel that “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15 KJV)  With that kind of determination you’ll always be expecting and ultimately experiencing His best!  Have a great week!  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or WHOM am I expecting today?”

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Marvel Universe - pt 2


I began my study this morning by proceeding down a rabbit trail that I had flagged yesterday.  I read of another time when the Jewish leaders marveled, but this time it was not at Jesus, but at the boldness of two of His followers!  Acts 4:13 tells us that “when they saw the boldness of Peter and John and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” (KJV)
It would seem from this event, that being with Jesus had literally changed these men!  The Geneva Bible Translation Notes notate that the actual word used to describe the two Apostles here is “idiot!”  And while I do not think that it carried the same derogatory sense that it does today, it “signifies one that is unlearned, and with regard to honour and estimation, it implies one of base degree and of no estimation.”  In other words, it still was a pretty cutting remark!  It is interesting to see that because of their words and actions, the leaders KNEW that Peter and John had been with Jesus.  I think they had the idea that what they heard and had seen in Jesus back in John 5:19-20, had rubbed off on His disciples!
They also KNEW that it wasn’t just a casual relationship with the One whom people were referring to as the Messiah that caused this radical change in them.  The religious leaders understood it to be “a close union” with Him that caused them to resemble Jesus. (see Strong’s definition of “with”)  They could see the results of this close relationship in their boldness and confidence of speech, as well as in the presence of the healed man standing at their side!  Acts 4:14 says: “But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition.”  (English Standard Version)
I was once told with a slight laugh, by a close relative of my wife’s when I had been in management at Hewlett Packard for many years, that they didn’t understand how I could do my job.  I knew that it was meant to be a critical remark but laughed it off because my favor at work and regular increases was proof that they could not deny!  This to me is the same way that we should be when it comes to living our faith.  Like Peter and John, our lives infused with the love and power of Jesus should be all we need to prove the validity of who we are and Whom we follow because of our close relationship to Him.
It is interesting to note that the boldness the Jewish leaders marveled at is defined by Thayer’s as “free and fearless confidence” and “cheerful courage.”  That kind of reaction can only come about from a relationship with Jesus that is based on His unfailing love and grace and not on some kind of fear of retribution.  In defense of their words Peter explained to the religious leaders that “we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:20  ESV)  Kinda sounds like Jesus’ comments to probably the same group of men a few years prior doesn’t it?
One overall thought that I came away with from my study of this today was that I need not be embarrassed or unconfident when it comes to sharing anything about Jesus and the marvels of His kingdom (the REAL universe to Marvel at!) with anyone.  For just like the Jewish leaders KNEW that it was Jesus speaking and acting through Peter and John, the same is true for you and me!   We don’t need to be concerned at what others may think of us, because they will be seeing Jesus in us.  I want to be just like Him, don’t you?  Then I want to be able to sit back and observe the marvel in people’s expressions when they experience the love, the grace and the power of Christ working in and through me… or through you!  Have a great weekend.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Marvel Universe - pt 1


As I reached out to brush a wisp of hair from my wife’s eyes this morning, I had to stop and marvel at my wrist.  It wasn’t that my wrist in itself is anything special to marvel at, but the fact that my watch, which a few weeks ago fit snuggly was now loosely sliding up and down with room to spare!  That sight elicited a “whoop” out of me because it was visual proof of the 20 pounds the scale says I have lost since starting my diet plan almost a month ago.  Pretty cool, don’t you think!
That “cool” also elicited another “whoop” out of me as I considered this in line with what  I discovered in the Word today.  In John 5:19-20 Jesus is documented as telling the religious leaders that “I can guarantee this truth: the Son cannot do anything on his own.  He can do only what he sees the Father doing.  Indeed, the Son does exactly what the Father does.  The Father loves the Son and shows him everything he is doing.  The Father will show him even greater things to do than these things so that you will be amazed.” (God’s Word ©)  Many other versions including the King James say “that ye may marvel.”
To marvel at something means to “wonder exceedingly,” or “to behold” (Thayer’s Greek Definitions) which if you remember past blogs, means as in Psalm 91:16, to “observe a remarkable or impressive person or thing.” (Google online dictionary)  The Message Bible explains this thought by the modern saying that “you haven’t seen the half of it yet!”
Can’t you just see Jesus telling the Jewish leaders with a wink and a smile that “You haven’t seen that half of it yet,” and that His Father wants to show the world even greater, more marvelous works than they could ever imagine?  We know from Paul’s writings that he fully bought into this understanding when he testified of a God who “is able to do exceeding, abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that worketh in us.” (Ephesians 3:20 KJV)  He even went so far as to tell us to stir up the gift that is inside of us so that we could experience the marvels of God on a more regular basis. (see: 2 Timothy 1:6)
While studying this earlier today, I thought back on the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D program we watched the other night.  On this episode it showed a warrior of the far away universe kingdom of the Asgard who comes to earth to warn the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents of a grave threat to our world.  The one point that stuck in my mind about this episode was how Agent Coulsen was completely unmoved or surprised by Lady Sif’s appearance or supernatural strength.  And as I thought about it, I realized that it was because he had already seen her in action at another time in the Arizona desert.  (See the first Thor movie… it’s great!)
I think that this is what Jesus was trying to teach us in our verse from the beginning of His earthly ministry.  He was attempting to get us comfortable with the marvel of His works on this earth for, in and through us!  Not just so we can marvel whenever we see or are a part of his supernatural power, but that we would come to expect it on a regular basis.  After all, Hebrews 11:1 tells us that “Faith assures us of things we expect.” (God’s Word ©)  In speaking of the marvelous things of God, John Wesley in his Explanatory Notes says that “Jesus oftener terms them works, than signs and wonders, because they were not wonders in his eyes.”  In other words, the experiences that we marvel at are just normal to Him!
I believe that the more we see of His marvelous works, the more we will come to be in the expectation of faith for His miraculous intervention in every part of our lives!  Now that defines an exciting life to me… how about you?  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

In the Gloom of the Night...


I am sure that you know how it goes… just when you think you’ve learned all you need to know about something you receive another test!  Well, that is my story and it happened just last night!  After thinking that I had refocused all my attention on the Lord and His Word, no matter what I may be experiencing that is in disagreement to His promise, I slipped on the proverbial bar of soap and went for an unwanted slide!  Now, while I didn’t actually go for a physical slide, I did hit a little slick path as I struggled to fall asleep in the wee hours of the night.
After reading a little, I bid my wife a tender goodnight, turned off the light and settled in for a sweet night’s rest.  And that thought lasted for all of about five minutes!  Once I snuggled into my pillow and began to drift off, my wife suddenly became restless.  She started an irregular pattern of moving around in bed accompanied by sporadic, but somewhat regular light jerks (a result of the myoclonus that attached itself to the Alzheimer’s)… and my night’s rest was toast!  
My immediate response was to lay hands on her and rebuke the lying symptoms of the devil upon her body.  Then I began to thank the Lord for the accomplishment of His healing.  This all began around 11:30 pm and by 1:30 am not much had changed and my patience was growing thin!  Many thoughts were pounding in my head about that time including the idea of tossing my pillow on the floor and just spending the rest of the night there.  Finally I had enough, pulled back the covers and retreated into the sanctity of the rest room.  Once there, I closed the door and began to cry out to the Lord (like a spoiled kid… very dignified… right?)  I was exhausted and found myself whining about how I needed my sleep so I could accomplish the multitude of tasks set before me for the care of my wife and our upcoming move.
Then after a few short moments I caught a glance of my image in the mirror over the sink and stopped short.  While I didn’t laugh, it was kind of funny and just plain dumb that I would give into the temptation to throw away all my expectations and our stand of faith so I could have a pity party!  So with that, I pulled up my sweats, which were hanging a little low by then, reminding me of some of the Junior High boys who would come sauntering into our Youth Group meetings with their low-rider look, took a deep breath, renounced all the negativity I had spewed out and returned to bed with a new resolve to trust the Lord through this test.  And to be perfectly honest, I don’t remember too much more.
The next thing I knew it was six minutes after seven and the pull to get up began to take effect on me… even though I definitely wanted to catch a few more hours rest!  Obviously, my wife’s restlessness must have come to conclusion and I fell into a deep sleep for the next five hours!  PTL!
Once I was settled into my desk chair I felt the urge to open up my bible to the Gospel of John and to continue where I had left off a few days previously.  Jesus’ reply to the Jews who were persecuting Him for continuing to heal on the Sabbath quickly captured my attention when He stated: “My Father has never stopped working, and that is why I keep on working.” (CEV)  And with that, I immediately understood the lesson learned last night… He hasn’t given up on me, so why should I have the audacity to even considering doubting His resolve and give up on Him?
Then as I began to look at other scriptures that talk about His faithfulness to us, I settled in on Hebrews 10:23 were the writer of Hebrews encourages his (or her?) readers that, “We must hold tightly to the hope (better rendered EXPECTATIONS) that we say is ours.  After all, we can trust the one who made the agreement with us.” (CEV)  The 1965 Bible in Basic English concludes this thought as: “for he is true who has given us his word.”  Well, that kind of says it all doesn’t it?  How could I give into doubt and unbelief in the heat of battle when He has promised and repeatedly proven to me that He will stay faithful to His word!
I guess we all face these situations from time to time, but I sure want to experience similar testings with a greater confidence and resolve in Him and His faithfulness that is driven by the unfailing intimate knowledge of His love for me.  Wouldn’t you agree?
By the way, my wife woke up this morning with a slight smile on her face and immediately began nodding her head as I read healing scriptures to her!  He really is faithful you know!  Have a great day.  Stay faithful and in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What am I (really) expecting today?”

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Fogged In


Have you ever wondered what your purpose in life is?  I have pondered this question many times over the years and for the most part, have been very satisfied with the direction of our busy lives with the raising of four wonderful children, active ministry with the youth of the day and visions of a bright future.  I have to admit though, over the last few weeks I have had some questions about where all this is leading with the current turn of events concerning the attack on my wife’s health.
Recently those visions that I once saw clearly have begun to get a little muddled under the strain of the detour we have been on.  Let me interject here, that I have always been a positive person with an optimistic point of view.  The glass is always half full, never half empty!  That view hasn’t changed, but it’s been just like a typical day on the northern California coast when a patch of fog suddenly blows in and temporarily blocks the clear blue sky!  You know it will dissipate almost as suddenly as it appeared, but for the moment you’re needing to take off your sun glasses, put on a sweater and maybe even turn on a light in the house!
While I pondered all this again this morning, I opened up my Bible once more to 2 Corinthians chapter three and read from The Message paraphrase version.  A couple of phrases from verses 3 & 4 stood out as I perused the words on the page.  “That you (are) written by Christ himself for God… You are a letter written by Christ…”
That truth acted like the beam of the sun breaking through that fog on the beach of my mind!  My life is being written by Jesus Himself.  He is the author and director of my life!  I may not be able to currently see where the road is leading us, but I am to keep my total and unswerving trust in the integrity of the GPS of His Word and His Spirit!
Then I picked up a new book I am reading entitled, “Surprised by the Voice of God” by Jack Deere and continued to read where I had left off over the weekend.  The chapter was called “Jesus and the Voice of God” and it described the important role of the Holy Spirit in the introduction of Jesus to the world beginning with an old priest named Zechariah.  The author told of Luke’s declaration of the angel’s words when he explained God’s plan to a young teenage girl ending with “nothing is impossible with God.”  Rev. Deere then wrote that “These words would become the motto of Jesus’ ministry and later, the motto of the New Testament Church” (page 37).
When I put the modern rendition of 2 Corinthians 3:3-4 together with the thoughts of the author of my new book, I rapidly understood what the Lord was trying to convey to me.  Jesus is still in the driver’s seat of my wife’s and my life and even though I can’t see too far ahead, He does!  His overall plan for us is still very much on track and He will see to its completion, no matter what miraculous events it may take along the way.  He’s still got a plan for us and somehow North Carolina is an integral part of that plan!  My job is to stay in faith, to keep my expectations high and to NEVER give up on Him or on my wife!
Have you ever been down that foggy road before?  Maybe you’re there right now.  Well, your answer is the same as mine.  Stop focusing on what you can’t see and refocus your total attention on Him for He is the ONLY One who will get you to where He wants (and needs) you to be!  That revelation brings instant peace and renews the passion for life!  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Monday, March 10, 2014

Thrilled With Life!


Do you know other Christians who are living an Old Testament faith in their daily lives?  Are they just a little too quick to look for faults in others?  Do they tend to fret and fear over the headlines and/or avoid situations that may not be easy to handle and others that are not what they might be accustomed to?  I know quite a few Christians like this… and recently, I discovered that there are areas in my own life that I tend to respond in like manner!
This came to light this morning as I read from 2 Corinthians 3:6 where it states:  “The written ordinance (the Old Testament Law) denounces a death-penalty; but the Spirit thrills with a new life.” (S. Way)  The King James simply puts it as “the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life.”  In the language of the original writers the word “killeth” has many connotations including “to slay, to extinguish and bringing home the knowledge of guilt and punishment,” while “life” causes one to be “made alive, to arouse and invigorate and/or to give increase of (or to) life.” (Strong’s, Thayer’s and Vincent’s Word Studies)   
When I read that I immediately had flashbacks to some of the words and actions of the select few who quickly pointed out what seemed to be everything bad that they could think of concerning me, my ratings as a husband and father, and the current decisions I was making as I struggled to care for my wife’s increasing needs.  But it was interesting as my thoughts suddenly shifted away from them to me!  When I considered how they had instantly slid into a judgmental, fearful and discouraging mode, I realized that I have been going down a similar path with a recent decision we felt strongly led to make and are beginning to pursue.
With the recent passing of my Dad, along with my older son and his wife’s desire to make some changes, it dawned on me that there was not really a lot to keep us in our home town anymore.  I have also had an increasing awareness of the importance of our kids being more of a part of my wife’s and my life at this time.  Then at the beginning of the year I suddenly felt a release from our beloved northern California with a freedom to look toward a move across country to be with our older daughter and her husband in North Carolina!
This has been sort of an unusual prompting for us when you compare it to past directing’s of the Lord.  Most of the callings we have received tended to not make much initial sense when it came to fulfilling them.  In the past many people thought we were absolutely crazy to attempt what we did.  This time has been different in that it makes good economic, personal and family sense to make the move.  We’ll be closer to our kids in Oklahoma as well, there are six churches affiliated with my Bible School in the Research Triangle area of Raleigh, Durham and Cary, the weather is fairly mild with a terrain that is similar to our home area and we can most likely purchase a home and retire with a lot more financial security than if we were to stay in California. (Wow… “retire”… that sounds strange!  The ministry still burns brightly inside of me, I don’t think that I’ll ever really retire!)
What I realized this morning though, was that there were still things on our “move to do list” that I was approaching with apprehension instead of with confidence in the favor we have with man and God (See: Psalms 5:12 and Proverbs 3:4 for starters!)  Even though this move makes good sense in both the spiritual and physical realms, there are still many things that I can’t yet see how they will come to pass.  I experienced a rude awakening when I understood that I was not allowing these activities to arouse and invigorate my life through my trust in Him.  After all, that’s what this whole move is supposed to be about right… to make things better not worse.  So why not enjoy each step of the way?
Do you have any activities and/or areas of your life that you are not allowing to arouse or invigorate your life through (or because of) your trust in Him?  Understand that I am talking about both the good and the rough things here.  Dealing with my wife’s health situation has by far been the most difficult thing I have ever faced in my life, but it has driven me to seek the Lord and draw closer to Him than ever before.  I can honestly say that it has aroused and invigorated our lives and our faith as we live in an ever increasing confidence of the truth of His Word working for us!  Our expectancy grows daily!  Is that how you face every area of your life?  Is your existence thrilled with new life?  Think about it… then make whatever changes you might need in order to gain His expectancy in your lives.  Have a great week.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… What am I expecting today?”