Our New Home

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

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Cup of Coffee!


I must be in a breakfast mode lately!  Yesterday the scriptures reminded me of jelly donuts and today as I read from Hebrews 10:24, I was reminded of a steaming hot cup of coffee!  The Moffatt translation says, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works…”  I am not sure why, but the phrase “stir up” instantly made me think about the effects of caffeine in coffee.
Previous to this I had read from I Corinthians 14:1 where Paul, after his picturesque description of Godly love in action, begins the next chapter by encouraging his readers to “Follow, then, the way of love…” (Phillips)  When you put those two verses together you begin to see that the “way of love” includes the responsibility of stirring up others to do the same… kind of like what caffeine is to a cup of coffee!
I have often thought about how coffee drinking and the whole coffee scene has become a major part of life for today’s younger generation.  As a kid I have vivid memories of the aluminum percolator sitting on the kitchen stove with its steaming liquid bubbling away in the little glass window on top of its lid.  And while I always enjoyed the fragrance of the brewing coffee as its aroma filled the kitchen, I didn’t acquire a taste for it until my early adult years!  At that time the coffee – usually a simple red can of Folgers or blue labeled Maxwell house - was simply a beverage adults drank at breakfast and like my folks, after dinner as they read the evening paper!
Now though, it has become a national pastime, a way of life, and with all the unique and custom blends you can order, it is almost like a statement of who you are!  But from what I have seen, many if not most people seem to drink it for the caffeine jolt it gives them rather than just for the taste!  The caffeine stirs them up to help them make it through the day.
Paul tells us that we should do the same as we consider those around us.  As Christians we should be the caffeine in their lives, stirring them up, motivating them, encouraging them, or exciting them to love and good works!  Webster tells that this stirring up or “provoking” as translated in the King James means “that which incites the mind and moves to action,” just like the caffeine in a cup or two of coffee can incite a lethargic body into more productive action!  (Although in all my years in ministry leadership and secular management, I am not too sure how productive a caffeine charged individual always was!)
This morning as I awakened my wife, I began to sing a little ditty that I was making up as I went along.  I sang about how Jesus loved her today and added that I loved her today as well.  Then I thought with a chuckle and quickly added “ and have every day for 44 years!”  That last line made me pause and consider my study a few moments before this and I wondered how it is even possible to love – and increase in it – every day for 44 years.  And then it dawned on me… because over the years I have continually stirred it up!
I can honestly say that except for the few times that I was away from her due to business or church trips, I have told my wife numerous times each and every day that I love her.  But it is not just the words.  It is the regular actions that prove this love.  It is the little things like the smiles, the holding of hands, the always putting her welfare before that of others, the little notes I would leave in funny places all around the house (ie; under her pillow, folded in with her clothes in her dresser, in the refrigerator, in her shoes, etc…) and the regular words of encouragement. 
I taught my two girls when they became teenagers to always wait in the car, when out on a date, for him to come around and open the door for them, explaining that this little action of love was a sign of how he would treat them later in their relationship.  Our younger daughter once text me after one of her early dates with her eventual husband and told of how he quickly came around and opened her door before she even had time to think about it.  She said, “Dad, I think he’s a keeper!”
Like I have said, LOVE IS AN ACTION WORD… and part of that action entails stirring it up by your words and more importantly, by your selfless acts toward others!  So my encouragement to you today is to just to go out and do it!  Be the caffeine in someone else’s life today.  Stir them up to love and good works!  Have a stirring day, stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting (to stir up) today?

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Jelly Donuts!


My son and I got a lot done yesterday.  When I went off to bed last night, I was sore and tired, but very content!  Together we went through everything that I had stored in the garage, tossed a lot of items we haven’t needed since we moved in and repackaged and labeled what was left over.  I am beginning to see the end in sight as the toughest part of the packing is now behind us.  Today we attack the study and then we’ll move into to the kitchen and end with all the living room electronics over the weekend.  It is very satisfying to observe all the progress we have made.
And speaking of satisfying, I was thinking earlier this morning about how much I enjoy jelly donuts!  In Ephesians 3:19 we find the Apostle Paul talking about intimately knowing Christ’s love for you… “so that you may be completely filled with God.” (God’s Word ©)  When I read this favorite scripture of mine today, I compared it to his words in I Corinthians chapter thirteen and had the thought that the personal, intimate knowledge of God’s love is the door that opens us up to receive the fullness of God’s goodness and blessings!  Then I thought, God’s love is the luscious filling in our lives… just like the sweet jelly or custard filling in a donut!
I have to admit that I got into the habit of purchasing some sweetly filled donuts quite often as I got to the end of our weekly grocery shopping trip.  Believe it or not, it started out as a matter of practicality.  You see, when I go grocery shopping with my wife I have to precisely plan out my purchases as I have limited space in which to carry the items.  Since I am pushing her in her transport chair, I cannot use a shopping cart.  So I figured out a way to hang a small shopping basket off one handle of her chair.  Then between the basket and the cloth bag that I attached to the back of her chair, I can still carry a fair amount of groceries.
The problem comes though, when I get to the far side of the store at the end of my list and still want some desert.  By that time my space is pretty much taken up.  That is when the witty idea hit me that I could still hand hold a little bag of 2 or three donuts while I traversed up the main aisle to the checkout!  So you can see that it was an idea of practicality and not driven by a sweet tooth. (At least that is what I kept telling myself!)
Well… as you know, those donuts did not help my waist line, and since I began this diet a few months ago, I have not had a one!  But that doesn’t mean that I still don’t enjoy them!  I mean… there is not much that can beat that first bite that sends the sweet filling flowing into your mouth (and usually all over your hand as it also spurts out the little hole in the back of the donut!). 
That to me, is a taste of heaven!  A donut without being stuffed with a sweet filling is just another plain old boring donut!  The filling is what makes it satisfying and unique to any other desert!  The filling is what gives the donut its zing!  And you know what?  The same could be said for the fillings of God in your life.  Without the fullness of God, you are just another ordinary person!  God’s love opens the door for your life to be filled with the unique and special qualities of our Savior.  It is the filling that gives your life the zing and pop that sets you apart from everyone else!  And when you get squeezed by the pressures of this world, His filling will squirt out onto those lucky enough to be near you!
I bet that you never thought of yourself as a big, sticky and wonderfully sweet jelly donut before!  When I walk up to that big glass cabinet in the bakery at Safeway that is loaded with row after row of donuts, my eyes are instantly drawn to the jelly and custard filled ones in the upper right hand corner of the cabinet!  That is the way I want to be seen for Christ as well!  I want the people I come in contact with to look past all the normal things of the world around them and see Jesus in me!  How about you?
Have a great week!  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What SWEET FILLING am I expecting today?”

Friday, April 25, 2014

Energy!


One of the many “To-Do’s” that I have had to accomplish for our upcoming move was to set up our gas and electric service to our new home in North Carolina.  As it turns out, the complex is completely electric so no gas hookups are required.  The company that supplies the electric power is called Duke Energy Progress.  Even though I had never heard of the company, it turns out that they are the largest electric power holding company in the United States who supply and deliver energy to approximately 7.2 million customers.
As I continued to find myself studying from I Corinthians chapters thirteen and fourteen this morning, I learned of another source of energy that far surpasses the output and coverage of our new electric company!  It is called the love of God!  I Corinthians 13:7-8 in the James Moffatt translation tells us that the God kind of love is “always eager to believe the best, always hopeful, always patient,” and that it “never disappears.”    
Something sparked in me as I read about the eagerness of love.  William Barclay’s “New Daily Study Bible” states that “Love is the fire which gives the spark to faith, and it is the light which turns hope into certainty.” (The Letters to the Corinthians, Third Edition-2002 pg 148)  That spark of faith is what zapped me when I came across Paul’s words to the church at Corinth in this particular translation.  It also struck me that God’s love is full of energy and that is also takes energy for us to walk in it!
This revelation gave me some instant understanding of why it has been difficult for me to be around certain individuals over the last few years.  I believe that I may have mentioned in past blogs that being around these folks is like being in a baseball game when the pitcher attempts to slow down a game when the opposing team’s momentum has picked up and they are beginning to hit the ball well and score runs.
I have always been an individual with a good ration of energy, and I enjoy being with folks who are active and full of life.  That is probably the first thing that drew me to my wife back in High School!  It is most likely why I have always enjoyed working with the youth and children of our church!  The wife of our long time music minister once mentioned to my wife of how her husband and I were different in our music leadership styles.  She described how I always liked to keep things moving with fast upbeat songs, while her husband preferred slower, more worshipful songs.
I’m sure that being a full blooded Italian has nothing to do with my energetic tendencies either!  My cousins and I were talking about the loud and lively family gatherings that we had when we were kids just last week at our Easter dinner gathering!  I guess energy has just always been a big part of my life!  Whenever we meet with my wife’s family, it tends to be just the opposite.  In my eyes, there is a definite quietness and slowness to the gathering, and lately it has gotten more pronounced as they sad over my wife’s condition and our move.
But, as I have learned, the love of God brings energy and hopefulness into any condition because our trust is firmly rooted in Him and the truth and condition changing power of His Word.  Like I continually mention, I HAVE TO KEEP FOCUSED ON THAT WORD – OR ELSE THE PARTY’S OVER!  Throughout His Word, God promises those who put their trust in Him a long and satisfying life!  And you know what?  That is exactly what I am expecting from Him!
So yeah, I am excited and expectant about the eagerness and energy that His love gives us!  It is difficult for me to be around those who do not or cannot (at this point) share my excitement, but the love of God empowers me to walk in patience and not give up on them!  After all the studying of I Corinthians chapter thirteen that I have done over the last week or so, I have come to believe that as Christians, we have a right to expect God to not give up on us, and as His representatives, we also have the responsibility to afford others the same courtesy!  What do you think?
Barclay also said “In our dealings with others, however difficult and however unkind and hurting (or insensitive or irrational) they are, we must exercise the same patience as God exercises with us.  Such patience is not the sign of weakness but the sign of strength; It is not defeatism but rather the only way to victory.” (pg 141 – parenthesis mine)
I have also come to realize (through personal experience…) that living the life of love as proposed by Paul and exemplified through the life of Christ, is not for wimps!  So… suck it up and let His energy flow through you this weekend!  After all, it’s fun to watch others get re-energized as His energy bounds off of you and onto them!  Have a great weekend.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Who’s ENERGY am I expecting today?”

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Growing Up!


Yesterday was one of those sweet but sad times for us as my wife and I bid a fond farewell to the wonderful staff at Sutter’s Brain Health Center in San Francisco.  This loving and caring team of professionals have been an answer to our prayers since our first appointment with Dr. Catherine Madison back in August of 2011.  As I shared with Dr. Madison, we had been to ten different doctors up until that time.  Most of the other doctors were good, but they seemed to have lacked the personal connection that my wife and I desired.  From the moment they met, Piper and Dr. Madison became buddies!  They hugged, sat next to each other and smiled throughout that first two hour meeting.
Dr. Madison seemed to understand my wife’s needs better than any of the other doctors, was open, honest and positive in her diagnosis of Piper’s condition, and was always forthcoming in answering my many questions.  Their whole team has always been supportive and available to us at any time.  I am very thankful for their care and would whole-heartedly recommend their office to anyone dealing with similar circumstances as we have been over these last four years.
As we spoke yesterday, I mentioned about how much I have personally learned throughout the journey we have been on.  Dr. Madison’s reply was that one has to learn and grow when thrust into situations such as these.  In many respects, I feel as though I have grown up and in doing so have become more organized, more disciplined and more confident in doing what I feel the Lord has led me to do, without yielding to the negative words and reactions of those with whom we come into contact with.
With this vein of thought in mind, I Corinthians 13:11 once again jumped out at me in my study time today.  I literally stiffened in my chair as my eyes glanced over at the Moffatt translation that was opened to this verse as it sat on the sideboard of my desk.  Paul’s words that NOW that I am a man, I am DONE with childish ways” simply arrested me!
This experience with my wife’s health has caused me to step up and get serious with God!  That may sound like a silly statement coming from a Pastor, but when one’s faith becomes this personal… it is different!  It seemed like everything I ever did, or taught was always for someone else’s benefit.  But this time it was brought home to the one person in my life that means more to me than anyone else!  There came the time when I realized that we weren’t playing games anymore… that this is my wife’s life that we are dealing with… and that God was the only one who could pull this off!  From that point on, everything and everyone else has taken a back seat!
The interesting lesson that I have been learning and sharing in this blog is how the Apostle Paul directly correlated our love walk with that of a mature individual.  When he was asked to comment on the selfish behaviors that were troubling the Corinthian church, he immediately responded with a frank and open discussion on the attributes of Godly love as the answer!
The answer to the negative reports (or people) that I have had to deal with is the same as that proposed by Paul a few thousand years ago.  The mature or manly thing for me to do is to put aside childish ways and grow up in Him.  To me that has meant to obey His Word and directions without question, whether it is uncomfortable, new to me, or not well received by those who might be close to us.  As far as I can see, at this point, my options are limited… and my wife and I have made the decision let go of childish ways – pouting when I don’t get my own way, living in the past, running away from responsibilities, striking out when hurt – and constantly complaining about those who haven’t been very supportive of us (and boy…that one hasn’t always been too easy!) and to follow Him… or as Paul said… to follow love!
The time to grow up is NOW!  So, take a deep breath, put aside any childish tendencies and walk and act like a mature person… in other words… walk and talk in the sweet and intimate, ever increasing knowledge of His love for you in the way that you live out your daily life!  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting today?”

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Tending The Garden

Today I wanted to share with you a "flash from the past!"  My wife and I are off to the City (San Francisco) to see her Brain Specialist one more time before we take off to North Carolina, so I looked back over the 850 posts that I have written over the years and found one that I think will minister to you.  This post was written in June of 2011 when I still had my Lawn and Garden Care business.  So grab a cup of coffee and enjoy!


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


As I have mentioned before, I have a part-time lawn and garden care business.  This winter I spend many hours pruning trees and shrubs.  I think that this is my favorite part of the job. To me it is like an artist creating a magnificent work of art.  Every clip of the shears is a preplanned act with the finished work continually guiding your progress.  One needs to have a particular knowledge and experience in the pruning process along with a familiarity of the growing tendencies of the particular tree or shrub that you are trimming in order to correctly accomplish this task.  For instance, when pruning a fruit tree the gardener needs to know about fruit bearing branches in order not to rob the tree of its fruit production the following summer.

I have been closely observing three fruit trees at my folk’s house as they leafed out this spring.  I had trimmed these with specific goals in mind, in the early part of this year.  My parents have a fairly narrow side patio that you enter into from their kitchen when going into their backyard.  Over the years they have painstakingly planted and decorated this area with many lovely green flowering plants, beautiful white lilies, and a number of trees.  Close to the kitchen door resides an older fig tree and a nearby pear tree.  Since it is getting difficult for them to reach all the fruit, they requested that I prune down the trees and shape them in such a way as they could reach the fruit with relative ease.

As I sculptured these trees I was focused more on size and shape than on fruit production.  Now, that they are growing out for the season, they each have a good shape with branches well within reach for my folks.  Since they both required an arduous amount of pruning, they did not present a large display of buds and therefore will be limited in their fruit production this season.

In their front yard, my folks also have a very large, old persimmon tree.  Over the years they have maintained a low profile for this tree.  Therefore, I did not have to prune specifically for shape, but mainly for production.  A persimmon tree will produce fruit on its one year branches as well as on its new growth and I pruned with this in mind.  Yesterday when I was at my folks, I happily noticed that this tree is literally overflowing with lovely cream colored blossoms.  Not only did I feel good that my pruning plans had succeeded, but also because I love fresh persimmons, persimmon pudding cake, persimmon cookies, and last year I made a fabulous persimmon based fruit cake!

All these thoughts of pruning came zinging into to my thoughts yesterday as I read in the book of John were Jesus talked about the vine and it’s branches.  He said that “I am the vine.  You are the branches.  Those who live in me while I live in them will produce a lot of fruit.  But you can’t produce anything without me.”  (John 15:5 Gods Word ©)  Previous to this statement He explained that “My father takes care of the vineyard.  He removes everyone of my branches that doesn’t produce fruit.  He also prunes every branch that does produce fruit to make it produce more fruit.”  (John 15:1-2 Gods Word ©

Just think about that.  Jesus is the vine, we are the fruit bearing branches and our Father God is the Master Gardener who cares for His garden.  As a Master Gardener, our Heavenly Fathers knows just what trimming we, the branches, need in order to develop and shape us as individuals and in order for us to produce the maximum quantity of fruit. 

He is daily creating a magnificent work of art in each of us.  I can just see Him pausing in His labor of love, to step back and take a satisfied overall look at the progress He is making in us, His children.  I can also see the smile on His face as He foresees the finished product coming out of dormancy later in the season, as we blossom and produce lavish amounts of fruit for His Kingdom purposes.

What was that old Allstate saying about “being in good hands with Allstate?”  Well, you can rest in peace in your daily walk in knowing that you are in the best position available to mankind, soundly placed in the Good Hands of God!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What (good things) am I expecting today?”

 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Background Noise


As I got deeper into my study of I Corinthians chapter thirteen this morning, I began to recall my days as a Process Supervisor in the fabrication area at Agilent Technologies.  One of my last assignments was supervising in the Precision Milling Department.  During that six or more year period, my desk was located on the machining floor right in the middle of the shop.  For the majority of that time I did not wear ear protection because it has never been comfortable for me to have something in my ear.  During my last year in that position I finally found an electronic pair of noise cancelling ear muffs.
I had originally purchased them for my machinists to try to see if they liked them or not.  Most of them did not because of the extra weight of the electronics they contained. (It was a new technology at the time and they were not as small or light as today’s current technologies allow for)  Well, their loss was my gain as I didn’t mind the weight and they muffled the noise in the building without causing me to feel like I was in a tunnel!  The only problem was that it was too little, too late!  The damage was already done.
I could not figure out why my shoulders would be so tight and sore when I would go home at night with an accompanying headache until I later learned that it was my body reacting to the high noise level that I was subjected to day in and day out.  Another annoying symptom was the lack of patience I would have when I got home and walked into a room where the kids were just playing around and having fun… but making noise! It seemed like just about any steady background noise would drive me crazy!
Over the years my ears have gotten better, but I still find myself very sensitive and distracted by background noise.  At times it is difficult for me to carry on a conversation on the phone if music and especially talking is going on in the background on either end of the conversation.  Sometimes I enjoy shutting off the sound on the TV for a minute or two so I can just bask in the utter quiet of the moment!
I summarized I Corinthians thirteen this morning with the thought that anything that is said or done without Godly love is simply noise!  It becomes just like that irritating, distracting and grating background noise that bothers me to no end.  The very first verse sets the mood of the rest of the chapter by declaring “If I speak with the eloquence of men and of angels, but have no love, I become no more than blaring brass or crashing cymbal. (Phillips)  In other words, I become no more than just a lot of noise!
The more I read, the more I began to realize the high standard that has been set for us when it comes to walking in the Christ kind of love.  I also saw, with a twinge of personal conviction, how the Apostle Paul was linking God’s standard of love with his definition of a mature, strong Christian man!  He makes it pretty clear to me that actions void of this kind of love are childish in nature, while those accompanied with and driven by His love are the mark of a mature individual.
To my dismay, I also saw my un-loving response to those who have been negative to our plight over the last few years.  I realized that they have become nothing more but an irritating background noise to me.  I noticed that I automatically go into a protect mode when I talk with them, and most times, I really don’t listen to what they are saying… even if it is positive.  It would seem that I have written them off!
As I look at God’s high standard, I see that there are areas where I have definitely fallen short of the goal!  And yeah, in the natural I suppose I could feel that I have the right to ignore them because their behavior is still very irrational to me at times… But… according to what I understand of Paul’s words in I Corinthians thirteen, that doesn’t give me the green light to go against the mark that God is calling me to attain to, does it?  I don’t think so!
In his commentary of this chapter, William Barclay stated that this kind of love “is the fire which gives the spark to faith, and it is the light which turns hope into certainty.”  I definitely don’t want to be an irritating, grating and distracting background noise to someone else!  I want to be that gentle, loving, peace giving spark that helps to ignite another’s faith and one that assists in illuminating an individual’s hope in the power of God working the miraculous in their lives.  Wow!  How about you?
Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting today?”

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter Experiences


I hope everyone had a joyous and blessed celebration of Resurrection Sunday yesterday.  We had a wonderful time as we were able to share in the day around the table of one of my cousins. We spent the afternoon enjoying each other’s company, sharing a delicious meal, reminiscing over family gatherings of the past and in telling of the goodness of the Lord.  I have to admit once more, that my cousins really bless and encourage me as they love on my wife!  God’s peace is just so evident as both of them sat next to Piper, held her hand and talked with her.  And Piper rewarded their actions with big smiles and nods of recognition.  She also seemed to be enthralled with my cousin’s husband as he regaled us with stories of his adventures when he lived in New York City.
You know, that is what love is all about.  It is simple, gentle, quiet and giving of oneself.  Sure, my Piper is not currently the vivacious, outgoing and visibly encouraging individual that has left a deep impression on those that she has touched, but that person of the heart is still there and it just takes a little quiet love to draw it out… and my cousins seem to be experts at it!
When I was reading from William Barclay’s “New Daily Study Bible” today concerning First Corinthians 13, I gained a clearer understanding of the difference between fear and Godly love.  Verse seven informs us that “Love is always supportive, loyal, hopeful, and trusting.” (Contemporary English Version)  That’s what I saw yesterday.  There was no fear in the eyes of those who simply loved on my wife whether she responded (which she did!) or not.  There was no fear in the silence of the moment.  There was only an air and abundance of love that permeated down to the very soul of all present in the room.
As I studied the Word this morning and thought about yesterday’s events and compared it to some of the confusion and frustration I have encountered with other family members, I suddenly had the revelation that fear breeds confusion and irrational behaviors.  And with that realization, it all made sense!  Fear disrupts the balance and steadfastness that love provides!
2 Timothy 1:7 tells us that “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (NKJV)  It is interesting to me when you notice the placement of love between power and a sound mind or good judgment as some translations put it.  Love is the bridge between the two actions.  Love puts the balance and wisdom in our use of Godly power and gives us the ability to make consistently good judgments!  Without love, we can be all over the place sounding and doing good one moment and be exasperating the next!  That perfectly describes some of the things that I have been dealing with over the last few years!
But thank God for the steading effects of His Word in and on our lives. The Message Bible tells us that love “puts up with anything, trusts God always, always looks for the best, never looks back, but keeps going to the end.” (I Corinthians 13:7)  His Word brings the balance back into my life when I face the rollercoaster situations that occur.  It is what gives me the ability to deal with the roller-coaster reactions of others as I seek to trust God for the trials I face.  It is that “peace which goes beyond anything that we can imagine,” that “guards your thoughts and emotions through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7 God’s Word ©)
His faithfulness is what gives me the ability to have the earnest expectations of a bright and prosperous future for my wife and I.  It is the hope that Jesus gave us when He arose from the dead on that first Easter Sunday a few thousand years ago!  Have a great week.  Stay in tune to His Word and alert to what we commemorated yesterday, as you keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting today?”

Friday, April 18, 2014

Life Defining Experiences



This morning when I rolled out of bed I found myself merrily singing that old children’s song:

“This is the day, this is the day

 That the Lord has made, that the Lord has made.

 We will rejoice, we will rejoice,

 And be glad in it, and be glad in it…”

 

That realization caused me to laugh because, to be honest with you, I was not really feeling too chipper when I first got up!  My lower back was a little sore as I have been trying to exercise regularly with this diet that I am on and I was just plain old tired!  I quickly forget that discomfort though, when I got on the scale and noticed that I’d lost another pound!  That makes a loss of 30 lbs – Yeah!
Anyway… As I sang and waltzed into the kitchen, I stopped to open the vertical blinds on the slider and once more caught the bright morning sun magnifying its presence in the reflected red light that shined through the nectar in the bird feeder!  It was almost as though the Lord was beckoning me to “Come!”  To come into the presence of His glory and grace!  I was so charged that I had to grab my camera, disturb the dog sleeping on the Lazyboy chair in the living room and step outside to capture the moment!
When I finally made it to my study, I looked up the word “come” as used in Revelation 22:17 in Thayer’s Greek Definitions.  It was defined as “to come into being, to come forth,” and the usage that really caught my attention: “to find your place or influence.”
As I meditated on that, I suddenly and unexpectedly heard the phrase: “Life Defining Experiences.”  And when I let my mind go free along that path, I thought that when you go through a life defining experience like my wife and I have over the last four years, you really find out who you are, what you’re made of, what or who you trust in and who is with you and who is not!  That type of experience forces you to define yourself.
With that, I picked up my mechanical pencil and began to furiously write in my notebook!  As I wrote I remembered Paul’s words about putting aside childish things and I turned to I Corinthian 13:11 where he wrote, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, thought like a child, and reasoned like a child.  When I became an adult, I no longer used childish ways.” (God’s Word ©)  The Good News Bible says “Now that I am an adult, I have no more use for childish ways.”
That translation brought it home to me!  I clearly remember the defining moment a couple of years back when I fully realized that I had the responsibility to grow up and get serious about my wife’s healing.  I realized that I was tired of playing religious games or having to continually deal with childish interactions with some of our relatives.  I had reached the point where I had to step up and step out of where I was, in order for us to move forward.
Some near to us have chosen to disregard or try and ignore those life defining experience questions that they are facing by distancing themselves from us.  I laugh and at the same time feel a tug of sadness when they make comments that demonstrate the expanding bridge between us.  But yet, I am assured that we have chosen the right path.  I am excited about the future that the Lord is telling us to “come” into.  We are not filled with empty hope, but are overflowing with the expectations of the truth of God’s Word working in, through and for us!
I was over taken with joy and thanksgiving this morning as I once again began to sing that old children’s song to my wife as I greeted her at her bedside exclaiming that:

“This is the day, this is the day

 That the Lord has made, that the Lord has made.

 We will rejoice, we will rejoice,

 And be glad in it, and be glad in it…”

… and she began to hum along with me!  Then as I read to her from Deuteronomy 11: 9&21 saying “It is well with you and your days are being multiplied and prolonged as the days of heaven upon the earth” she smiled and purposely stated “Ah Ha!”  Now I challenge you to try and tell me that the Word isn’t working in her perfecting the healing and the cure that He has touched her with!  Isn’t God good!
So, let me ask you.  How do you deal with the life defining experiences in your life?  Do you face them head on and choose to boldly look at the good, the bad and the ugly that you are faced to deal with?  Do you choose to find your foundation in the truth of God and His Word? It is interesting that Paul concluded his thoughts about putting aside childish ways with the life defining statement concerning our abiding in faith, hope and love, declaring that “the greatest of these is love!”  (I Corinthians 13:13 Moffatt)  Are there areas in your life that you need to grow up in?  Have a great weekend.  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting today?”

 

 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Action Packed!


I stepped out into our back patio early this morning when I let the dog out and once again was taken in by the sights as I glanced upward over the fence into the skies beyond on the eastern horizon.  The sun was just coming up over the hills that nestle up to the golf course across from our home.  The brightness of its rays were filtered through the trees and bouncing off my neighbor’s roof.  Then they caught the red nectar in our hanging hummingbird feeder and flashed an iridescent glow through our kitchen window.  It was a glorious sight to behold!
While I stood there and absorbed the light show unfolding before me, I thought about the scripture we looked at yesterday in Revelation 22:16-17.  Jesus said that “I, Jesus… am the bright and morning star… (so) ‘Come!’  Let those who hear this say, ‘Come!’  Let those who want the water of life take it as a gift.” (God’s Word ©)  When I finally tore myself away and retreated back to my study to continue my morning quiet time, I was quickly filled with excitement and expectation when I reviewed those passages in Revelation.
What caught my attention was all the ACTION that is packed into Jesus’ words!  There are four actions that are directly and intimately connected to three other action steps. Jesus told us that when we “hear”, “thirst” and “want” for His Word and His ways, we should “come” (stated 3 times) and “take!”  And this is not a onetime event, but a set of progressive steps that should be repeated everyday of our lives!  In effect He is telling us “Don’t ever stop coming to My waters of abundant (zoe) life, but keep going, keep moving on into Me!”  His is that little voice on the inside that keeps encouraging us to never give up in the midst of any trial, or situation in our lives, no matter what it may look like that is contrary to His will as we search it out, and find it in His Word and then TAKE it as our own!
The wife of a Pastor that we worked with for many years once characterized my wife as having faith like a Bulldog.  She said that once Piper grabbed on to a promise of God that she NEVER let go until she attained it!  What do you honestly think?  Can that same statement be said about you?  I believe that this is exactly what Jesus was inferring when He spoke these final words to John at the end of His will and testament.
Well… I’m ready for ACTION today!  How about you!  We watched the beginning of the second Indiana Jones movie last night.  And I was amazed at how fast the action is from the very get-go of the movie.  My adrenaline was pumping as I was drawn into the ACTION-PACKED scenes of non-stop adventure.  And… that is the same kind of non-stop ACTION that I am expecting to take and hold on to for the things of God today and every day!  Are you up for this too?  Have a great and action packed day!  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting today?”

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Bright Morning Skies!


Have you ever had your attitude changed in the flash of a moment because of something you heard or saw?  I had that experience this morning soon after I had gotten up for the day.  I had awoken a little earlier than I really wanted to and rolled over on my back and to think and pray for a while.  I considered what I had to face today.  Yesterday it felt like I had spent the majority of my day in North Carolina! 
I started out by reviewing the “move in to do list” that the Leasing Consultant from our new luxury apartment had emailed me about a month ago.  Then I contacted the Duke Energy Progress Company in Raleigh to arrange for our gas and electric service there.  Once that was established I went on to the next item on the list and had a nice conversation with an agent at the Homesite Homeowners Insurance Program who represents Esurance for their Renter’s Insurance Plans.  I wanted to make sure that we had the correct plan that covered the personal liability requirements of the apartment complex.
At one point during our sometimes humorous discussion, the young lady paused and hesitantly said that she had to ask me the following question only because we are moving to North Carolina.  I said okay and she proceeded to apparently read from a prewritten script saying: “since you have a dog, do you keep any poisonous snakes, reptiles or alligators in your home?...”  And then the line went silent!  I burst out laughing when I realized that she was serious and proclaimed, “Geez, what am I getting into!”  She swore that she was only repeating what her paperwork stated and that they only ask that question for residents of North Carolina!  Later in the day I text my daughter who lives there and asked if she had seen any of those critters around her home lately.  She replied that they have only seen one snake over the past five years, but no alligators!
Anyway, after I got my composure back I got in touch with our Leasing Coordinator and she was able to clarify some of my questions about our new home and finalize all our paperwork.  She also assured me that she could give the keys to my daughter so that we can go right to the apartment when we arrive there on the 13th of next month around midnight.  When all of that was complete we did a walk through with the owners of our current residence in preparation for the move.
So… when I finally got up today I was a little relieved that I could spend this day working on tasks that pertained to California and not on the East Coast!  After I dressed I proceeded into the living room and kitchen area kind of in a fog as I was contemplating all I had to accomplish.  We have had typical spring weather here for about a week with the ocean fog in the morning that usually burns off before noon.  But I was totally taken by surprise as I opened the vertical blinds on the slider that leads to our living room patio.  When the slats cracked open I was not greeted by the fog but instead by a deep blue and bright sky!
That’s the moment my attitude instantly changed from the blah’s to joy!  It was like someone flipped a switch inside of me.  Suddenly I found myself excited about the day and looked forward to going outside in order to complete some of our shopping tasks later today.  Everything looked exciting instead of drab.  When I took my hot cup of “Dunkin’ Donuts” dark brew coffee down the hall and glanced into our room at my wife still asleep in the bed, I had renewed faith for her total and complete healing.  Then as I read the Word in my study next door, I was filled with even more faith when I considered Paul’s words in Romans 10:17 where he taught us that “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ.” (1965 Bible in Basic English)
After spending a little time in John, I felt the urge to move on to the back of my bible and glanced once more at Revelation 22:16-17.  Here Jesus tells us that “I am the root and descendant of David.  I am the bright morning star… Come!  Let those who hear this say ‘Come!’  Let those who are thirsty come!  Let those who want the water of life take it as a gift.” (God’s Word ©)  These verses seemed to completely capture the sudden splash of joy and expectation that I had experienced when I opened the blinds a few moments before. 
As the blue sky beckoned me to enter into His joy and the great expectations of His Word working for, in and through me today, this portion of Scripture also beckoned me to step out into His bright and promising hopefulness!  When Jesus encouraged us to “take it as a gift” He was implying that we should “claim for our self of that which when taken is not let go.” (Thayer’s)
And that is exactly what I did when I peeked out at that beautiful, bright morning.  I decided right then and there to not let go of what He had just given me.  To hold on tight and enjoy the expectations that suddenly overtook my attitude.  And the same can be said about my expectations of His Word.  I’m not going to let go of His promises, and of what He has already provided for me according to the truth of His written Word.  How about you?  I suggest that you grab it and hold on tight!  Have a great and encouraging day today.  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting today?”

 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Eclipse!


Were any of you able to catch the eclipse of the moon last night?  I snuck outside in my PJ’s just before I turned out the lights around 11:00 pm and observed it in its beginning stages.  It was interesting as there seemed to be a dark shadow just starting to cover up about a quarter of the moon’s surface.  I awoke with a start about an hour later remembering that I had left the large window upstairs wide open earlier in the day.  So, I tossed aside the covers and bounded up the stairs to close it and rest assured that the dog wouldn’t hear something in the middle of the night and tear at the screen!
When I opened the window which resides in the highest point of our home, I had a clear view of the moon… or at least what was left of its reflection of the sun’s light.  Since I had last looked at it, only a slight sliver of it was visible to the eye.  It was kinda cool in that there seemed to be a glow that surrounded the darkened celestial object, and at the same time it was a little creepy to see the dark shadow overcoming the light!
This morning as I read from John chapter eleven, I had some spiritual understanding of what I saw in the drama unfolding in the skies last night.  In verses nine and ten Jesus said, “Those who walk during the day don’t stumble, because they see the light of this world.  However, those who walk at night stumble because they have no light in themselves.” (God’s Word ©)  In the beginning of his epistle, the Apostle John bluntly names Jesus as the “light of men.” (John 1:4 KJV)  Jesus also referred to Himself as the “light of the world” in John 8:12 and 9:5 and as “the bright morning star” in Revelation 22:16.
So, in effect, Jesus was saying that those of us who walked in this light would not stumble over the obstacles that we come across in our daily lives.  John Wesley commented on this verse saying, “because I see the light of this world – I see the light of God surrounding me.”
I came to the shocking reality about ten years ago that I needed to get a pair of reading glasses one Saturday morning when I was helping some youth practice songs for an upcoming drama production that my oldest daughter had written.  When I tried to follow the lines of the song on the jacket of the CD, I was confused when I couldn’t discern the tiny print!  What was funny is that I noticed another supervisor and my boss at work also started wearing them about a week after I first slid on a pair during a staff meeting!  One thing that I have learned is that the brighter the light, the less magnification I need.  And even though I have had to increase the magnification numerous times since that fateful day in the sound booth at church, I can still read the fine print in the unfiltered bright sunlight!
I guess the same could be said for the bright light of Jesus and His Word!  Over the past four years I have observed that the more light of His Word that I get in me, the more able I am to side step the obstacles of doubt and unbelief that attempt to come my way on a daily basis.  Those obstacles come in a variety of expressions.  They may come through a random thought, through something I see on TV, through a medical article on dementia, through the doctor’s report or even through seemingly good meaning Christian friends who respond more to what they see than what the Word may say.
I can’t tell you how many times we have watched a movie that shows a couple in love when a twinge of pain rips at my heart and I look over at a wedding photo of my wife and I hanging on the wall next to wedding portraits of our three married kids and I suddenly hear a voice from deep inside that destroys the thought of sorrow and hopelessness by reminding me of Matthew’s declaration of Jesus’ fulfillment of the Prophet Isaiah’s words where he prophesized that “Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses,” followed by Peter’s declaration that “by whose strips ye were healed.” (Matthew 8:17, I Peter 2:24, Isaiah 53:5)
The bright light of His Word quickly dispelled the darkness that tried to come upon me!  And just like the eclipse of the moon last night, even though it was temporarily covered, a glow of light still encircled it giving us the expectation of its eventual reemergence to light up the evening skies!  So keep the light on and keep it shining bright to guide you through your daily activities.  Have a great day!  Stay in tune to His Word and Keep asking yourself… What or Whom am I expecting today?”

Monday, April 14, 2014

Live for the Moment!


Wow!  Time is really beginning to fly!  Yesterday marked the one month date until we take to the friendly skies of Southwest and fly to our new home in the Southeast.  Things have been crazy busy around here as I combined with our daughter and her husband in North Carolina to find a new residence and then researched and set up a moving company for the cross country trip, a car transport for the Buick, one-way plane tickets for my wife and I and what turned out being the most difficult project in finding a safe and suitable transport for the pooch!  And as it happens… transporting the dog is the second most expensive part of the entire move!
Yesterday I decided that I needed a break from all the pressures of the move, so we gave in and decided we’d go ahead and attend the Friends of the Sonoma County Library Spring Book Fair.  I figured a few more books wouldn’t add too significantly to the final weight of the move… maybe that is, if I showed great self-control!  Well, I’m not sure of the self-control angle, but we walked out with nine books.  Following the fair we went to Target to pick up a few prescriptions and some groceries.
After we parked and I had helped my wife to her chair, I had an interesting experience when I knelt down to place her feet on the foot rests.  I suddenly thought of Joshua 24:15 where Joshua had just finished reviewing all that the Lord had done for the children of Israel and told them to “choose this day whom you will serve.” (Modern King James Version)  Only I heard the scripture in my head as “choose this MOMENT whom you will serve.”  Then in that instant I had a flash back of a few individuals we had encountered earlier in the day.
When we were traversing through the crowded book fair we came across a quiet young man who had paused to let us pass by.  The man seemed a little afraid and did not look me in the eye.  But as we passed I looked at him and softly thanked him for his kindness.  With that he looked up, the fear disappeared and he nodded with a slight smile.  Then there was the homeless man in the lobby of the Vets building where the book fair was held who looked away as we came by and the shabbily dressed young man standing and holding up a help sign at the corner near the highway off ramp.  From there I looked up across the crowded Target parking lot and everywhere I looked I saw countless women wearing their short-shorts as they walked to the store entrance on the warm California Spring afternoon.  Then I heard it again… “Choose this moment whom you will serve!”
In that flash of a minute I learned an important lesson from the Lord.  He was telling me that I need to choose who I will serve with every thought, every action and every word I speak.  Will I choose to serve that judgmental thought toward people who may look, sound or smell different than me, or yield to the love of God for those individuals?  Will I entertain improper thoughts from what I may see around me, or listen to the holy and pure voice of the Lord and avert my eyes?
All of this continued to flood my mind as we shopped and by the time we returned back to the car, I was sure that I had it down pat and didn’t have to concern myself with that question again… because I now knew the answer.  Then as we began to drive out of the lot, I stopped at the crosswalk near the road and with a know-it-all grin, smugly smiled at my wife only to look up just in time to see a young lady walking right in front of our car in her yoga pants and short shirt and INSTANTLY I heard it again: “choose this moment whom you will serve!”
Okay… Okay, I get it!  I’ll never get smug and let my guard down!  Yesterday I learned a question that I am going to repeatedly ask myself throughout each day of my life!  How about you?  Have a great week.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting TO SERVE today?”

 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Out With the Sheep...


In the mid-eighties, my wife, and I purchased our first home a few miles north of town.  And even though we homeschooled our children, we still made regular, if not almost daily, trips into town for my work, church, shopping or for school activities for the kids.  We discovered that the fastest, most uncongested route was the old winding road that paralleled the four lane highway.  In those days there was a large sheep ranch that encompassed the rolling hills along the way.  Like most open lands in our county today though, it is now a vineyard!
Throughout the year we would take notice of the sheep that fed on the grassy fields.  The best time of year was when the lambs gave birth to their young.  During this period of time the owner of the ranch would practically live on the hillside with his flock.  At night you would see him assisting the birth process of his ewes by the yellow glow of a portable lantern.  We would always be touched with the dedication and concern he demonstrated toward his flock.  The owner looked to be an older man, but did not let that stop him from being there for his sheep.
Jesus compared Himself to that of a good shepherd.  In John 10:11 He declared “I am the good shepherd; a good shepherd lays down his own life for the sheep.” (Moffatt)  Like the old man who did whatever was needed, whenever the time, day or night, warm or cold, rainy or dry, he was out with his sheep when needed, on that drafty hillside on the way to our hometown, Jesus said that He would even go as far as to give His life for His flock.  As I read this today I was quickly reminded of when Jesus also said that we would do even greater works than He did. (See John 14:12)
But as I thought about it, I realized that He wasn’t necessarily calling all of us to give the ultimate sacrifice as He did, but instead to give of ourselves, of our lives to the needs of others.  To let go of our own opinions, of our own ways, and of our busy, seemingly all important schedules and take the time to assist others when they run into a tough time.  I also realized that this morning, Jesus was preaching to the choir… mainly me!
Yeah, we have had a few folks that, shall we say, have not been part of the solution for us, but instead, have been a major part of the problem, but how am I to respond when they have a need?  Suddenly things have turned and they are hurting.  Do I respond in kind, turn around and quietly snicker with glee?  NO!  It’s time to do the GOOD thing and reach out and assist where and however I can.  Is it an easy task?  I think it will be as easy as I tend to make it!  If I do it through a veil of unforgiveness and distrust, yes it will be hard.  But on the other hand, if I proceed under the covering of Christ’s love and forgiveness, the going should be relatively smooth, and more acceptable to those in need.
And when push comes to shove… that’s what I really want!  I want His way, His answer, and His love to prevail!  What would you do?  When does it become the right time to grow up and accept your responsibility as a member of the Good Shepherd’s family?  For me…There’s no better time than the present!  Have a terrific weekend.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting today?”

 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Beverly Hillbillies...

Early in our marriage I vividly remember my wife praying that we would always have a nice house to live in.  And with the possible exception of the duplex we lived in during the last year while going to school in Oklahoma, I would have to say that the Lord definitely answered the heart desire of my wife!  And even that duplex wasn’t that bad.  It had a huge backyard for the dog to rump around in and was located near a wonderful nature reserve that we took walks in almost every day!


When we first moved back to our hometown after our time in Oklahoma and were staying with my folks, we took a drive looking for nice areas of town near our folks where we could rent.  In our travels that day we drove into the community we now live in and were both captivated by its park like environment, cute cluster homes and quiet location across from the city golf course and park complete with lighted baseball diamonds and soccer fields. We pulled over right then and there and prayed, telling the Lord about our desire to live there.
Well, I’ve probably told the story before, but within a matter of days and a series of miraculous interventions, we had signed a contract and were getting ready to move the couple of miles from my folks to our new home in the midst of towering Pines and Redwoods, beautiful landscapes, green lawns, a lake and swimming pools. (Sounds like the beginning of the Beverly Hillbillies doesn’t it… except I don’t think there are any movie stars living here… but then, you never know!)
Almost immediately after we moved, we began to receive flak from a few adamant relatives telling us that we had made a big mistake.  They were overly concerned about the rent and had all these suggestions about apartments we could be in and save a lot of money.  They even called me after the first year’s lease had run out and tried again to persuade us to move!
It was actually a little funny because ALL of the places that they strongly suggested I had already checked out on the internet when we were still in Oklahoma and had dismissed them because they were not in what I considered to be a very safe location in our hometown (and crime statistics backed me up!).  I knew that my new position with The Home Depot would have me traveling out of town on a daily basis and that my wife would be at home alone.  I also wanted her close to family and friends in case any emergencies came up.
We knew that God backed and approved of this desire of our heart and would supply our needs… and He did!  Except for a short period of time when I initially quit my outside job to care for the increasing needs of my wife, we have actually done better financially than we had for a quite a few years!  Our focus throughout this time has always been and will continue to be on the Lord.  Our trust is found in the truth of His Word.
In His position as our Good Shepherd, Jesus said that “Anyone who goes through me will be cared for – will freely go in and out, and find pasture.” (John 10:9 The Message Bible)  The Easy to Read Version says “They will find everything they need.”  Then He topped that declaration by adding “I have come that they (you and me) may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10 NKJV)
I think that it all comes down to how you see yourself when it comes to being a Christian and receiving the promises of God.  The folks who were not in agreement with the direction we took are also mature Christians, but obviously, we were looking at our new residence from different perspectives.  As I study the Word I see a God that is all loving toward His family, wants the best for them and is ready to supply all of our needs as we seek Him, obey Him and love Him without restraint.
I recently read something that C.S. Lewis had written in a book entitled “Reflections on the Psalms” that really got me thinking about our perspective on the things of the Kingdom.  He wrote, “The ancient Jews, like ourselves, think of God’s judgment in terms of an earthly court of justice.  The difference is that the Christian pictures the case to be tried as a criminal case with himself in the dock.  The Jew pictures it as a civil case with himself as the plaintiff.  The one hopes for acquittal, or rather for pardon; the other hopes for a resounding triumph with heavy damages.”  (Reflections on the Psalms copyright 1958 by C.S. Lewis Pte Ltd – page 10)
Once I again, I think that life is all about how we see ourselves “in Christ.”  As one reads through the Word and takes note of how many times it talks about the benefits we have “in Christ” and takes that truth to heart, they will change their perspective on how our heavenly Father wants or expects us to live on this earth.  God wants a life that honors and obeys Him to be blessed with the touch of His hand in all that we do.  Believe me, it is not simply to get blessed, but being blessed because we go in and out through His gate, follow His tutelage, and are blessed so that we can be a blessing to others.
God has honored my wife’s heart desire of a nice place to live, because she has attempted to honor Him in everything she has done over the 38 plus years of our marriage.  And since He is no respecter of persons, He will do the same for you!  Have a blessed day.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting today?”

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Strange Voices


Last night my wife and I watched the latest rendition of the Superman movies on TV.  Over the weekend our Directv satellite service had a special offering where they had a couple of the premium movie channels for free.  This happens about every three months and I will usually peruse through the channels to see if there is anything worth recording.  Normally I can justify why we don’t subscribe to any of them because I only record one or two movies, if any!  This time was different though, and I actually recorded a half dozen movies.  One of them was the 2013 release of “The Man of Steel”.  I was never a fan of most of the superman flicks of the past, but this one caught my attention, and I think my wife enjoyed it as well!
In one eerie scene as an alien space ship is spotted first by the military and then by the news networks, everyone’s electricity goes out and TV’s across the globe begin to broadcast a strange message.  After some scary sounds and music with lots of accompanying static, a strange voice begins to speak and tell the startled viewers that “They are not alone…” and then lays out his terms for what he falsely implies is a peaceful resolution to their need.
The whole scene, especially as they focused in on the darkness that suddenly engulfs the Kent farm, reminded me of an old black and white sci-fi movie I once saw as a kid that scarred the pants off me!  But while last night’s experience didn’t have the same effect on me, it did cause me to get to thinking about how unusual noises and strange voices can alter one’s peace of mind and confuse their decision making processes.
I followed that line of thought this morning as I continued to study Jesus’ discussion as recorded in John chapter ten.  In verses four and five Jesus declares that “After he (the good shepherd) has brought out all his sheep, he walks ahead of them.  The sheep follow him because they recognize his voice.  They will never follow a stranger.  Instead, they will run away from him, for they do not recognize strange voices.” (God’s Word © & Phillips Modern New Testament)
Jesus was saying that the religious strange voices that we occasionally may hear should have the same effect as the voice of the alien did to the people of the world in the movie we watched last night!  Have you ever heard a “strange voice” telling you something that just didn’t sit right with you?  My personal experiences over the last few years showed me that the strange voices of a few that had been close to us, did nothing to help our situation but worked to instill confusion, frustration and a lack of peace in me. 
There finally came a time where I had to physically separate my wife and myself from their direct influence.  As I meditated on John 10:5, I began to see my actions as resembling Jesus’ comments of running away from the “line of fire” that was shooting the love, faith and peace destroying council.  So even though it was a hard thing to do at the time, I can now see His divine purpose for what I believe he instructed me to do.  It also brought to mind my oldest son’s words to me at the time… He had said as I confided in him that “Your greatest responsibility is to protect Mom!”  I was so confused and frustrated at the time, that even though I agreed with him, I really didn’t understand what I was protecting her (and me) from.  Now I do!
Strange voices that contrast to the truth of God by which He is leading you, through the Word and confirmed by the Spirit, come with uncertainty (as did the serpent’s to Eve in the Garden of Eden), confusion, frustration and will cause you to begin to question yourself.  They definitely do not bring peace and agreement because they are loaded with fear and not the love of God which causes our faith to operate in the tough situations we face throughout our lives.  Thayer’s defines these strange voices as alien,” or “not of one’s own family.”  Robertson’s Word Pictures say they are “a call to false philosophy, false psychology, false ethics, false religion, false life.”
You’ll find out, if you don’t already know, that these strange voices do not agree with Jesus’ self-declared job description a few verses later.  In John 10:10 He boldly stated that “The thief comes with the sole intention of stealing, killing, and destroying, but I came to bring them (you and me!) life, and far more life than before,” (Phillips)  I came to realize that the strange voices spoken to (and about) my wife and I acted as a blockade to the “far more life than before” and attempted to stop the abundance that God’s Word speaks over us.  You know… that’s kind of a good litmus test to the words or “voices” that we hear.  Ask yourself if the voice limits the activities or potential of God in your life or act to release His abundance of love, peace, faith and joy?
Hummm… check it out!  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting today?”