Our New Home

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

Monday, June 30, 2014

Beneficial


The sound of our dog barking as she rolled upside down on the couch and later on the bed has been resonating throughout our home all morning!  It all began after she filled her belly with a bowl of Purina Beneful dog food.  It would seem that her breakfast was very beneficial to her attitude for the day!
I wasn’t too sure what to expect when I got up this morning.  Even though it was almost eight in the morning the room was still a little dark.  Partially cloudy skies with a slight chance of a passing thunder shower were predicted for the day.  When I went into the living room and opened the blinds on the glass door leading to our patio, I was relieved to see beautiful blue skies and the sun’s bright rays streaming through the leaves of the upside down tomato plant we have hanging from the patio cover.
We had sort of a different weekend.  My wife was extremely weak for the better part of Saturday.  She was having a hard time walking straight and slept a lot up until the late afternoon when she began to look stronger.  By the time I helped her down the hall to bed that night ,she was walking pretty straight and was more responsive to my corny jokes and silly songs!  You should have seen me trying to wash her hair earlier in the day!  It was quite interesting trying to keep her from sliding out of her seat while I attempted the wash and rinse!  It took a little longer than normal and I am not sure if I had more water on the floor than on her hair!  But then again, look on the bright side; I got two jobs done at the same time as I washed both her hair and the floor!
Sunday morning started out well, but then quickly began to unravel when my insides began to rebel!  So, needless to say, we missed our opportunity to visit our new church, but were doing better later in the day… until after dinner that is!  Then the rumbles started up again…
But you know?  God wasn’t through with us and He wanted to have the upper hand in our weekend.  Just before I turned out the lights after reading for a while, I got up to get my phone so as to recharge it overnight when I noticed that I had received a text message about an hour previous to that time.  It was from one of my favorite cousins in California who just text to say hello, give a good report and to tell me that she enjoyed my “cheery posts!”
Well, that short text changed my whole attitude.  And with a loud laugh I plugged in the phone and rolled into bed knowing that a Godly attitude based on His Word was all I needed to give me joy even if my physical circumstances were not up to par.  In John 10:14 Jesus said that “I am the good shepherd.  I know my own and my own know me.” (ISV)  As I meditated on that verse this morning I smiled in the realization that God looks past all the “stuff” that sometimes clouds our judgment and looks directly into our hearts.
That “stuff” may try to influence the way we feel and the decisions we sometimes make, but it doesn’t influence Him!  He still knows and loves us with an intimate understanding of what makes us click and of what we need the most at any given time.  Wow!  He knew that I needed a little splash of joy last night and waited until I went to bed to give it to me.  That joy helped me through a few rough patches throughout the night as my wife was fairly restless until around 2:30, and caused me to wake up a little tired, but yet with a hop in my step and an earnest expectation of good things resonating through my being! He really is the Good Shepherd who always knows what is beneficial to you and me!
Have a great week.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting today?”

Friday, June 27, 2014

Thunder and Lightning!


Well, I awoke this morning to a not so glorious North Carolina day!  When I open the blinds the sky was overcast and dark while the yard was wet from the thunder and lightning storm that past by in the wee hours of the morning.  But you know, I wasn’t about to let the circumstances that faced me dictate how my day was going to be!  When my dog and I stepped out onto the patio into the warm moist air, I found that I could still rejoice and be glad as I viewed my surroundings under the inspiration of the light that shines brightly within me.
The more I looked, the more I could see of the blessings that followed the storm.  Everything exemplified a deeper shade of green than the day before.  The blades of grass shimmered under the effect of the rain drops that hung off of them, the sounds of the birds chirping in the trees seemed to have a deeper resonance, and there was a greater array of different colored birds than normal feeding off the treasures that had surfaced from under the ground due to the heavy rains in the early morning hours.
I guess that it all depends on your outlook on life!  Jesus told the religious leaders in John 9:5 that “As long as I’m in the world, I’m the light of the world.” (God’s Word ©)  I tend to take that verse quite literally and see its effects as being presently active through me and every other Christian who walks this earth today!  For while Jesus may be physically seated at the right hand of God, His spirit resides in every born-again believer.  So, when I stepped out into the dreary morning atmosphere earlier today, I brought the Son-light with me!  I do not need that bright ball in the sky to determine if I am I going to be up or down each day!
Thayer’s tells us that the word “light” means “the light of truth and its knowledge… reason, mind and the power of understanding.”  When I step out of bed each morning the light that is inside of me dictates how my day will turn out!  When I looked out into the dark environment that met my gaze this morning, I instantly recalled the truth of God’s promise to me understanding that the Lord has made me to be the head and not the tail, on the top of things and not scrapping at the bottom of the barrel! (See Deuteronomy 28:13 and Galatians 3:13)
John 1:4 makes the bold declaration that “In him (Jesus) was life; and the life was the light of men.” (KJV)  Once again we are talking about the God kind of Zoë life!  It is a life that is to be vibrant and animate (see Thayer’s definition of Zoë).  It is the daily life that we are to live and pass on to others by our joyful attitudes, kind and loving words along with corresponding actions and the perpetual peaceful smile on our faces!  It is the light of His life that causes us to be the anchor when the storms of life hit.  Like when the lightning lit up the room last night through the closed blinds and the ensuing “Bam!” of thunder that immediately followed and shook the room, and I leaned over and put my arm on my wife’s side as she raised up in the bed with her eyes opened wide, and with the other hand leaned over the side of the bed to pet the dog who had quickly come over.
I am not sure if it was my touch, my laugh or my calmly telling them that everything was going to be alright that helped them both to relax and go back to sleep.  But a few minutes later when my wife was resting comfortably and the dog had curled up in a ball next to the bed, I smiled to the Lord and thanked Him for His light that is brighter and stronger than any flash of lightning that the sky could emit.
So… go out and be a light in somebody’s life today!  Let your joyfully peaceful attitude be a blessing to all that you come in contact with this weekend.  Remember you carry the light and have the potential to set the atmosphere around you!  Have a great weekend.  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting today?”

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A Glorious Day!


We woke up this morning to a glorious North Carolina day!  As I opened the windows in the living room that look out on our patio, I noticed that the outdoor thermometer read in the mid-sixties and I observed a slight breeze twitching at the branches and leaves in the multitude of trees that line our back view.  A little later on as I took the dog out, I stood in breezeway at the entrance to our apartment home and soaked in the freshness of the new day.  Ah… what a great day to be alive!
While I read from Jesus’ words in John 8:55 I realized that for me, it is my knowing Papa God, that gives me the peaceful and firm foundation that allows me to enjoy the life that we live today!  Jesus, in commenting on the ugly mood that the Jewish leaders were in, stated, “Yet you haven’t known him.  However, I know him and do what he says.” (God’s Word ©)  The Literal Translation of the Holy Bible says “I know him, and I keep his word.”  I think the word “keep” better explains the thought behind the statement.  It infers “to guard from loss, to prevent from escaping” or “to keep one in the state in which he is” (Strong’s/Thayer’s)
So Jesus was saying that He not only obeys the Word, but He works to keep it active for and in Him by staying in such a place where He does not change who He is.  He constantly watches over what is in Him, and who He is because of that Word He has received.  It is because of that “adventurously expectant” attitude (see Romans 8:15 MSG) that Jesus kept His head and His joy, even when those around Him did not!  It is also why I can afford to be happy even in the midst of the battlefield my wife and I find ourselves on!  
2 Thessalonians 2:15-17 instructs us to “take a firm stand, feet on the ground and head high.  Keep a tight grip on what you were taught, whether in personal conversation or by our letter.  May Jesus himself and God our Father, who reached out in love and surprised you with gifts of unending help and confidence, put a fresh heart in you, invigorate your work, enliven your speech.” (The Message Bible)
Well, I can’t think of better advice, and a better way to start my day!  So keep this in mind!  Protect the Word that’s inside you, be who He says you are and have a great and glorious day!  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting today?”

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

What Place?


Over the years in the various churches we assisted at, I have repeatedly seen a reoccurring pattern where individuals or families would come into the church with zeal and excitement only to lose interest and slowly slip away from the fellowship of believers.  Many times they would re-appear at a later time and then repeat the same pattern of behavior no matter how much the staff and the congregation reached out to them.  My wife usually took a special interest in these folks.  She would make a point to talk regularly with them, invite them to all the church events, provide rides, minister to their kids and just be their friend.
But you could almost see it in their eyes.  A distracted look would begin to form and before you knew it they would be gone.  I believe that this is one thing that Jesus was talking about in John 8:37.  He said, “I know that you are Abraham’s seed, but you seek to kill me because My Word has no place in you.” (MKJV)  In the case that I am talking of, it is as if Jesus was saying, “I know that you are a Christian, but you are losing interest in fellowship with me and with believers because you have not allowed My Word to have a place in you.”
Have you ever known anyone like this?  I bet you have.  I have not only seen it in the church but also in family members and friends who just want to do and believe what seems to be best for them at the moment.  The truths of God’s Word are not first in their thoughts especially when they come to a fork in the road.  They tend to seek a natural solution first and then might consider asking God for assistance for the direction they have already decided upon.
I know that I have probably mentioned this before, but I can remember early in our marriage when my wife took some heat from church members because she talked about how she asked for the Lord’s direction in everything she did, be it grocery shopping, looking for a new dress or in ministering to our kids.  It was my wife’s demonstration of the important place that the Word of God had in her heart that became a strong foundation for my fledgling Christian walk.
So, what do you think?  What place does the Word have in your heart?  Do your words and actions demonstrate the Word, or what the world suggests?  At what point in your decision making process do you bring in the Lord?  Think about it… maybe it is time to rethink the way you think!  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting today?”

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Good Wife

A few months ago the Hallmark movie channel began airing the CBS legal and political drama “The Good Wife.”  Out of curiosity I recorded a few of the first episodes and after a slow start, found myself caught up in the show.  When I mentioned this to one of our kids while on our trip to Tulsa, she mentioned that it didn’t seem like a series that I would enjoy. But I find myself intrigued by the court room battles, the investigations and the study of the law.


The episode we watched last night highlighted the differences between the law and the legal system in England compared to that of the US when a case that was dismissed in the US courts was tried in Great Britain.  What caught my attention was how the US lawyers were unaware of many of the nuances of the British legal system, found themselves constantly asking for the judge’s forgiveness for what he considered their brashness, and were heavily dependent on their British solicitor.


My thoughts went back to the memory of this particular program as I read Jesus’ words that “If ye continue in my word, then ye are my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31 KJC)  When I read this verse my immediate question was “free from what?”  And the answer came just as immediately with the understanding that in Christ we are set free from the adverse dictates and convictions of the law of sin and death! (See Romans 8:2)
You see, legally speaking, Jesus’ actions on the cross and beyond as the perfect lamb of God, as the one and only perfect, sinless sacrifice offered for the complete forgiveness and removal of our sins has established us as being under the authority of a totally new legal system… the legal system of the kingdom of God!
Jesus went on to press the point in John 8:36 declaring “So if the Son sets you free, you will be absolutely free.” (God’s Word ©)  The Literal Translation of the Holy Bible says that “you are free.”  In other words, at the time we accepted Jesus Christ as our personal Savior and Lord, we became free!  It is not something that we have to work at or earn, it is ours immediately upon becoming a new creation in Christ.  The word “absolutely” or “indeed” as rendered in the King James is defined in the Greek as “In reality, in point of fact, as opposed to what is pretended, fictitious, false or conjectural.”  According to Dictionary.com “conjectural” describes “the formation or expression of an opinion or theory without sufficient evidence for proof.”
So unless I am missing something here, Jesus is telling us that according to the legal system of the kingdom of heaven, of which you and I and every Christian are a part of, anything that is said and or comes against us that is contrary to the truth of God’s Word is simply conjecture!  It is a false accusation or unsubstantiated opinion of the enemy of our souls and has NO legal basis for our lives!  In simple terms, you and I are set free from the lies of the enemy!
How do we know what’s a lie and what’s the truth?  Well, that’s easy!  You gotta get to know what is written between the covers of your Bible.  The lawyers in the episode of The Good Wife that we watched last night ran into difficulties because they were not familiar with British Law.  We don’t have to have similar difficulties.  Just take the time on a regular basis to study your legal book, God’s handbook, the very truth of our lives as found in the anointed words that where penned under the divine inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit just for you and me!
Then  when the devil tries to sneak a lie past you, you can jump to your feet and shout “Objection,” quote the chapter and verse of the truth of God’s Word that backs your case and then sit back and smile as the Judge of the universe replies “Sustained!”  Have a good day.  Stay actively in tune to God’s Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting today?”

Monday, June 23, 2014

Here Comes The Judge...


My wife and I have been continually expanding the extent of our travels around our new home.  On Saturday we ventured southeast for a few miles along Cary Parkway in order to find the location of the church we’ve wanted to visit.  Then on Sunday afternoon we headed in another direction up highway 54 on the way to the closest Super Walmart, taking various side trips as we went along. I can’t say that I am as yet comfortable with where I am going, but am closer each day!
Each day brings with it a greater familiarity with the terrain, the weather patterns and with the people around us.  I noticed that as we are becoming a regular part of the lives of those who reside in our community, the friendlier they have become.  I think that I may have judged my neighbors incorrectly!  I realized that I was unknowingly expecting our new neighbors to respond to us in the same way that our neighbors of many years had interacted with us in our home in California.  But our interactions with the old neighbors was something that had been developed over time.  Now I see that I need to afford my new neighbors that same courtesy!
What I have really become aware of is how much our dog has acted as a barrier remover!  During our trip to Oklahoma we boarded our pooch at a “pet hotel” right around the corner from us.  Along with the regularly provided walks, I also paid for an additional fifteen minutes of playtime between Mandie and the staff each day.  Then since I was planning on doing it anyway, I had them give her a bath on the day we picked her up.  Well, when we retrieved her she was not only jumping for joy, but appeared well groomed, her coat glistened and she looked like she had lost quite a few pounds due to the winter undercoat that was removed during the bath! 
Later that day as we walked around our community, and every day since, we have been stopped by both adults and kids who have commented on what a pretty dog we have!  I exclaimed to my wife over the weekend that it seemed that God was using Mandie to break the ice with our new neighbors!  I guess He will use who or whatever it takes to answer our prayers!
This progress with the residents of our apartment home reminded me this morning of what Jesus told the Pharisees concerning the judgment of others.  In John 8:15-16 He declared “You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one.  But if I do judge, my decisions are right, because I am not alone.  I stand with my Father, who sent me.” (New International Version)  It would seem that Jesus was stressing the idea of seeing others and making judgments about them in the same light as God our Father sees them.  Not according to our own thinking… as I incorrectly did with my neighbors, but with a mind deeply instilled with the love and grace that Jesus exemplified!
Now that’s a course of action that would probably save us a lot of trouble down the line!  It also is a course of action that allows God into the equation and opens the door for His love and grace to prevail!  I like that… how about you?  Have a great week.  Stay in tune to His love and grace, and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting today?”

Friday, June 20, 2014

Come...


As I studied John 6:35 this morning I thought back to our recent trip to Tulsa, Oklahoma and the wedding of our youngest son Jeremy.  In this particular scripture Jesus is telling us that “I am the bread that gives life.  No one who comes to me will ever be hungry.  No one who has faith in me will ever be thirsty.” (CEV)  On a whim I looked up the simple verb “come” and discovered that in the original language the Bible was written in, this verb suggests the idea of “coming into being, to be established in, to follow one, or to make public.” (Thayer’s)
So, in my way of thinking it means more than just going to a person in friendship, for advice, or because you might need something they may be able to assist you with.  In this case it defines one who is coming into being with or like Jesus, becoming established in Him and His principles of life, to follow after and to make your close association and/or oneness with Him public to your world!
During this weekend in Tulsa, it all started on a Friday morning brunch, increased that night at the rehearsal dinner and came to its zenith at the wedding the next day.  People from literally all over the country converged and made their association with Jeremy and Aubrey known to all.  Those of us who filled the wedding chapel at Grace Church in Tulsa established themselves as being closely connected to the bride and groom.  You could say that we all followed the call and made our way to the wedding to demonstrate our love for the young couple.  It is very much like the way we make public our establishment, our oneness and our love for and with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
John 6:35 goes on to tell of the benefits of our “coming” to Jesus.  He declares that those who come and believe (or have faith) in Him will never hunger or thirst.  At the wedding reception the guests were treated to a wonderful display of finger foods and a large and delicious wedding cake!  I would doubt if anyone went away hungry or thirsty from the event… I must admit that I took full advantage of the situation and had two pieces of cake… I’m a sucker for rich creamy frosting that is thickly lavished upon a cake!
But there is one basic difference between being closely associated with Jeremy and Aubrey from that of a relationship with Jesus.  While the newly married couple are two of the most hospitable people I know and would give you a place to crash for the night, along with open rights to their refrigerator, they are probably not going to want you to move in with them on a full time basis (at least not for awhile)!  Jesus, on the other hand, wants you to make a full time commitment to being in and with Him 24/7!
According to Robertson’s Word Pictures the phrase “cometh to me” (KJV) infers “the first act of the soul in approaching Jesus” while the phrase “believeth on me” describes “a continuous relation of trust” following the initial event.  So, like I said previously, Jesus desires us to be in a close, continuously growing relationship with and in Him.  And as we do this we will discover that we have STOPPED hungering and thirsting after anything else but Him.  Robertson’s also states the “shall not hunger” as found in the King James Version employs a “strong double negative” while the “shall never thirst” uses an “even stronger form of negation.”  It would seem that Jesus was making a very definite statement about how our lives should be when we are established in Him and make it public through the actions of our daily lives.
Definitely something to consider, wouldn’t you say?  Do you ever find yourself hungering or thirsting for something more in your life?  I know that I do at times.  According to Jesus, the answer is to get ever closer to Him… and like Jeremy and Aubrey’s marriage, it is set up to be a long term and life time commitment.  Have a wonderful weekend!  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting today?”

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Pulled Two Ways!


The highlight of our long weekend trip to Tulsa was our younger son Jeremy and his lovely bride Aubrey’s wedding.  To me the entire event came down to the repeating of their vows.  As they held hands and looked into each other’s eyes, the love between them flowed like rivers of living water.  Then as Jeremy began to repeat the words after the Pastor and he broke down and cried… well, there was not a dry eye in the crowd… including yours truly!  Then the serendipity of the moment came to its peek when Aubrey also broke down in the reciting of her vows to Jeremy, paused and looked deep into his glowing face and slowly whispered “I love you!” before continuing on.
Let’s just say at that point in the service, the left sleeve of my white shirt was the most convenient tissue at my disposal!  Later in the day our oldest daughter and I laughed over how we gave in to the overflowing (literally!) emotions that were abounding during that portion of the ceremony!
For the last week or so I have been reading and studying about the New Testament definition of doubt.  After rescuing Peter following his moment of glory walking on the water only to become distracted by the alarming circumstances that were about him and suddenly sinking into the tumultuous waves, Jesus asked him “Why did you doubt?” (Matthew 24:31 God’s Word ©)  Robertson’s Word Pictures states that Jesus was actually inquiring as to why Peter was “pulled two ways.”
James talked about the same subject when he told his readers that “A person who has doubts shouldn’t expect to receive anything from the Lord.  A person who has doubts is thinking about two different things at the same time and can’t make up his mind about anything.” (James 1:7-8 God’s Word ©)
As I looked at Jeremy and Aubrey exchanging their vows, they were totally one in their conviction of making Jesus Christ the Lord of their marriage.  After almost thirty nine years of marriage to my lovely bride, countless hours ministering to couples who had grown apart, and witnessing the ever increasing percentage of marriages that fail, I am thoroughly convinced that this single minded focus between couples is the key to a successful, long term marriage.
I must confess that while I have vividly felt the pain of friends and family who have gone through the hardships of divorce, I cannot personally fathom how a married couple can have thoughts of mistrust, deep rooted anger or anything else but an ever-increasing loving relationship between them.  I realize that it happens all the time, but it is definitely an alien situation in view of the type of relationship I have had with my wife, practically since we started dating in September of 1970. 
I am not saying that to brag… it is just the way it has always been with us.  I’m also not implying that we haven’t had our disagreements over the years, but we always settled them in the light of the continuing single purpose of the Lordship of Jesus.  The thought of those disagreements reminds me of how our two girls were joking with me last week about how Piper would get upset with me on the first day of our vacation each year.  
After traveling for six hours and setting up camp, I was always eager to immediately go for a long hike up a nearby mountaintop or take a prolonged swim in the river.  She, on the other hand, would always try to be the voice of reason attempting to get me to take a few moments to take it easy and give my stressed out body an opportunity to unwind, as this was supposed to be a restful vacation!  Our daughters laughingly recalled many “discussions” emanating from behind the closed door of our trailer on that first day most years!
It was interesting last night when we were watching TV and a commercial came on for a rustic resort somewhere in Utah.  At the sight of couples hiking along a wooded trail, I turned to my wife sitting next to me on the couch and said, “would you like to go hiking with me again?” and she turned, nodded her head and gave me a big smile!
So what’s my point…  Single minded focus!  In any relationship as well as in any stand of faith, it is of most importance that you and I (and those who are part of a relationship with us) stay united in keeping our eyes on Jesus and the truth of His Word.  Remember, when Peter began to take notice of the physical elements around him, his miracle came to a rapid, short-lived conclusion!  I want my daily miracles to have an extended life span.  How about you?  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself, “What or Whom am I expecting today?”

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Be The Blessing!


I mentioned in the blog yesterday how that my wife was such a trooper throughout all the activities of our recent trip to Tulsa, Oklahoma for our youngest son’s wedding.  From the moment I interrupted her regular schedule and got her up a couple of hours early in order to make the first leg of our flight to Chicago, to the time I helped her to bed late on the night of our return home, she was happy, alert and peaceful!
Even though she cannot always express her thoughts in words, it was evident by the glistening in her eyes and the regular smiles, that she was aware of everything that was going on around her.  What really captured my attention and my heart was the way that our son’s roommate and their friends (along with our kids as well as Jeremy's new bride) loved on Piper.  I cannot count all the times that they came up to her unannounced and bent down to talk to her eye to eye!  And it wasn’t just the normal quick word or two that most people share with her and then move on, but prolonged moments where they talked with her, held her hand or just sat quietly with her.
This is the way that I picture Jesus ministering to many of those that came to Him as He walked the street of the cities He went through.  When the centurion came to Jesus to ask Him to pray for his servant, Jesus’ instant reply was that “I will come and heal him.” (Matthew 8:7 KJV)  Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries tells us that the word “heal” is not the usual word (sozo) that is used when the writers talked about Jesus healing the sick but another (therapeuo) meaning “to wait upon menially.” Robertson’s Word Pictures states that “the word used here for heal means first to serve, give medical attention, then cure, restore to health.”
I believe that Jesus saw the compassion and pain on the face of the Roman soldier, knew that his servant was very special to him and wanted to go and just love on the sick servant before laying hands on him for healing.  I think that Jesus knew how that would bless both the sick individual and the one who was feeling the personal pain of a loved one who is going through a difficult time.  I say that because that is exactly what happened to me repeatedly during our time in Oklahoma.
When is the last time that you took the time to step out of your comfort zone and reach out to someone who is going through a tough situation?  Most times it is not the “right” words that you may think you have to say, but just your loving closeness to them without ever saying anything!  Keep that thought and turn it into action as you walk through your day!  You might just be a blessing to others around you that you never see… but they notice and take in your action of mercy and love.  Have a good day.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting today?”

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Bread Who Gives Life


Hello again!  It is good to be back after our whirlwind trip to Tulsa Oklahoma for our youngest son’s wedding.  And speaking of whirlwind, it definitely was an action packed, ever-moving adventure, but it was great as my wife and I got to be with all of our kids.  That is something that hasn’t happened for many years!
From early Thursday morning until we returned to the Raleigh-Durham airport on the following Sunday, it was non-stop and only seemed to slow down around eleven each night.  I have to tell you that my wife handled the whole thing like a trooper.  I don’t think that I have physically lifted her up as much as I did on this trip as I have done in the previous forty four years of our relationship.  From the mini-van taxis, to our daughter’s two cars, and in the airplane when we couldn’t get the arm of the seat up and I had to lift her up and over into the seat, my arms and back got quite a workout!
When I got up at home yesterday my joints definitely let me know that they had seen an unusual amount of work during this trip!  But it was worth every stretch of my muscles, and the current ache that is resounding through my elbows, shoulders and knees!
John 6:35 relates the time when Jesus told His listeners that “I am the bread that gives life!  No one who comes to me will ever be hungry.  No one who has faith in me will ever be thirsty.” (CEV)  As I sat back and watched everything that was going on around us at the wedding rehearsal and the next day at the reception, I found myself glowing inside as I watched our adult children performing the various tasks that were assigned to them.  I rejoiced to see that they had grown up into strong, confident and very wise adults who love the Lord, radiate self-confidence, and reach out with mesmerizing smiles that captivated those around them!
I can’t tell you how many of my new daughter’s family came up to Piper and I and spoke of their engaging smiles.  We even met one of the actors who starred in the long running Christian children’s series “Gospel Bill” (the original T.U. Tutwater to all those GB fans!) and he mentioned the same thing about me when I introduced myself to him!  So… I guess it runs in the family!  It proved that my Mom’s frequently stated quote of someone’s who had said “Smile and the world smiles with you” really works!
As I studied John 6:35 earlier today, I could see that our kids have taken this scripture to heart as their demeanor displayed the lack of hunger and thirst that a life that is “aligned” with Jesus is all about.  (See: The Message Bible’s interpretation of this verse)  And my gosh… seeing our boys in their tuxedo’s and our girls in their black dresses… well, let’s just say that I had all I could do to keep my buttons attached to my shirt!
Over the years I have heard a lot of teaching concerning the raising of your kids, but I think that in my experience, the best advice could be simmered down to two things.  The first being to teach them about who they are in Christ and then to listen to and obey the leading of the Holy Spirit.  I am not trying to just be the proud Papa here (well… maybe a little!), but express that even though our kids have had their ups and downs in their growth over the years, it was quite spectacular for me to be able to sit back and observe where they are today!
I bet my feelings over the weekend were very similar to our father God’s as He sits on the throne and observes you and me!  He knows our past and our future, but enjoys where we are today.  So rejoice along with Him today!  It really doesn’t matter how old you may be or how difficult your past has been, your present and your future can only get better as you align yourself to Him in every area of your life.  Did I mentioned how our younger son Jeremy’s friends doted over Piper?  It was simply amazing… but that’s a story for another blog!  Have a great week and keep your eyes upon Him as you keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Friday, June 6, 2014

Rubber Band Guns...


Did you ever make a rubber band gun when you were a kid?  I can remember making many of these toys with wooden clothes pins and a couple of pieces of wood nailed together to fit my hand.  It was fun until the rubber band misfired and snapped back onto my hand resulting in a nice red welt!  I had friends that could easily shoot a well stretched rubber band quite accurately simply by threading it through their fingers.  I never had that gift!  Once again, my futile attempts normally ended up with a loud  “Yipes!” and another welt.  It kind of reminds me of my friends who could spit like a bullet and hit whatever target they aimed at… That’s another “talent” that I never could attain… but that’s another whole story which is probably best left alone!
Have you ever felt like a stretched rubber band that was about to break when you are unexpectedly placed in a position where you are forced to stretch yourself just a little bit more?  With our recent move, I have felt more than slightly stretched at times.  Its fine when I don’t consider everything that has needed to be accomplished, but I haven’t always been successful in keeping that single minded focus.  You know what I mean?
Lately I was very unexpectedly presented with a situation that to be perfectly honest, totally blindsided me.  Like everything else with this move, my first reaction was to quickly turn it over to the Lord.  But then came that first night as I turned the light out and laid back on my pillow and was suddenly flooded with thoughts of things I could do to straighten out the situation.  That night I felt like I played a game of tug-o war with the Lord for about six hours… “Lord I commit this to you…. Hummm, maybe I could say or do this… no, no - Lord I give this to you… but…”  Do you have any experience with that game?
The next day I was almost overwhelmed as I looked at my “To DO” list.  There was my wife’s upcoming appointment with her new GP, and if you’ve been following this blog, you know how draining and emotional these appointments have been to me, there’s the need to have Piper’s haircut at a new salon, shopping for the rest of her outfit for our youngest son’s wedding next week, shoes for me, working with the In Home Selective Services from our hometown concerning my final paycheck, arranging for Piper’s medical records to be sent to her new doctors, grocery shopping, and working on the slowly receding pile of boxes stacked to the ceiling in our second bedroom… and then there is this new situation!
Stretch, stretch, stretch… snap!  As I thought about it, I could almost see the red welt forming on my hand!  But God… stepped in and brought peace!  As I read from Matthew 14:13 early this morning I realized that Jesus faced the same situation.  The story goes that “When Jesus heard about John (his cousin’s murder), he left in a boat and went to a place where he could be alone.  (But) The crowds heard about this and followed him on foot from the cities.” (God’s Word ©)
Jesus was most likely dealing with some strong emotions over His relative’s death and its added implications to His own mission and desperately needed some time alone to sort it all out.  But none of that mattered to the crowds.  They were more interested in seeing the power that Jesus had so that their personal needs would be met.  They most likely didn’t know, and probably didn’t care about what He was going through.  At that moment in time, only their own problems are what seemed to have mattered.
So what did Jesus do?  He was moved from the convictions of His heart at the people’s real needs and set aside His own situation so that He could be a channel of God’s love.  I am sure that He simply entrusted His personal hurt to His Father and knew that it would be taken care of!  And that is the same thing that I am seeing around me today!  As we lock our focus on Jesus, it allows Him the ability to act as a partner in the business of our lives!
Last night we received a phone call from a relative in California that was quite encouraging.  It would seem that our move has opened the door for the healing of our relationship.  The call was a total turnaround from the last four or five years of interactions when we lived a few miles away from them.  She was up, very positive to my wife and I and treated Piper like she was the strong, healed-by-faith, mature women of God that she is… instead of a strange little kid who is out of touch with reality!
When I disconnected from the call I had to stand up and jump and laugh!  It would seem that God has been very active working behind the scenes some 3000 miles away, without any help from me!  That really changed my outlook on our stretch and the new situation at hand.  Why be anxious?  Why waste time looking at the natural situation and how I can “fix” it?  God’s got everything in hand!  He is well able and so good at multi-tasking that He “can do anything, you know – far more than you could ever imagine, or guess or request in your wildest dreams! (and) He does it not by pushing us around, but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.”  (Not by our smart and/or harsh words or actions!) (Ephesians 3:20 The Message Bible)
So what more can I say?  My job is to simply stay focused and obedient to Jesus and His promptings.  His got my back… and He’s got yours as well!  Have a super weekend.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting today?”

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Internal Clock


I had a nice conversation with a very good friend in our hometown yesterday.  At one point he asked how we were doing and I mentioned that my internal clock was still on West Coast time.  I explained how I have been surprised almost every day since we’ve been here when I look at the clock late in the day and realize that it is around six o’clock.  To me it feels as though it is two or three in the afternoon.  His joking comment back to me was simply to throw away that clock!
I was reminded of my internal clock again this morning as I sought to discover what Jesus had been doing previous to His and Peter’s experience of walking on the water.  In the narrative we find out that Jesus had just received the news concerning the death of His cousin John (the Baptist).  Justifiably He was feeling deep sorrow and needed to be by Himself, so He went off to a quiet or desert place to pray.  What happened next though was quite interesting as the crowds figured out where He was going and met Him there.
This is where the internal clock idea kicked in.  When Jesus saw the needful crowds Matthew 14:14 relates, “when Jesus disembarked, he saw great multitudes; and He had compassion on them, and healed their sick.” (James Murdock New Testament) It seems that what was inside Jesus overrode His personal need for respite and compelled Him to feel great compassion for the people in the crowd and minister to their needs.
It was like how my internal clock causes me to look at the actual time and forcefully turn the dials inside of me to the right time for our new lives within the Eastern Daylight Time Zone!  The difference being that Jesus did not force a change in His own internal direction, but yielded to it so that He could do “all things that I have heard of my Father…” (John 15:15 KJV)
I like that idea… to be so in tune to the Father’s kingdom that when needs arise your internal clock or the inner state of your heart automatically directs your actions!  Think about that.  No more mood swings, no more words thoughtlessly spoken that you wish you hadn’t uttered on the spur of an emotional moment, but only actions that are driven by the love and mercy or grace of Christ in you.
Robertson’s Word Pictures explains that the verb translated compassion “gives the oriental idea of the bowels as the seat of compassion” or maybe better said, as the center of God’s love and mercy inside us.  Isn’t that the way that you would like to automatically respond to the daily pressures of life… no matter how complicated, surprising or difficult they may be?  I know that it is for me.
I believe that Jesus also gave us the key to this kind of reaction when He spoke to Peter after pulling him out of the depths of the waves and asked: “Why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:13 KJV)  According to the original Greek, Jesus was actually asking Peter why he had become double minded at the sight of the boisterous waves.  He was instructing Peter that when a similar situation came up again, that it would behoove him to keep his eyes on only one thing, and that being Jesus and His Word!
Hummm,,, sounds like good advice to me!  So have a great day.  I would encourage you to take a moment and look inside to see what your internal clock is set on and make sure that the time is set on Jesus’ Kingdom Standard Time!  Keep in tune to God’s Word and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting today?”

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Southern Belle


I recently wrote under one of the pictures I posted on the blog of my wife from one of our many 2 night holidays at the coast.  This particular shot was of my wife sitting on a tree stump at the Fort Ross Lodge on the northern California coast in Sonoma County.  This lodge was probably our favorite because of its proximity to our home town and its reasonable rates.  The caption for the print actually had nothing to do with the occasion of the photo, but was meant to be a humorous comment about some recent actions .
I wrote that in the flavor of our new surroundings, I had given my wife some hominy grits for breakfast and she loved them!  In fact we both had them for breakfast today!  I had initially commented that I didn’t realize that I had a Southern Belle for a wife.  Then as I thought about it, I recalled that the maternal side of Piper’s family were originally from Texas.  And even though they didn’t talk about it much, the south and its culture is in her blood!
On a whim yesterday morning, I looked up Southern Belle on the internet and discovered that the characteristics of this individual included grace, hospitality, confidence and a strong understanding of their place in society as well as the importance of helping those in need.  When I read this I had to smile as my wife exemplifies many of these traits.  Maybe my little joke wasn’t a joke at all!  Most anyone who has come into prolonged contact with Piper would agree to her grace and hospitality toward just about anyone.  When she walked into a room everything and everyone would usually brighten up.  And you would normally find her taking a seat with the ones in the room who seemed to be the mis-understood and/or outcasts.
She was very confident about her place in society… that is in God’s society or in more biblical terms, of her place in the kingdom of God!  She was never hesitant to share God’s love with those in hard places or of her Bible based views on God’s desire to save, heal or turn tough situations around.  Piper has always also been very confident of God’s abilities to work in her, for her or through her in any situations she felt led to pursue. 
That is most likely why we make such a good team!  Once we got our hearts set on what we believed was God’s action for us to take, there was no turning back.  Even the time her folks took her aside and told her that they felt that she needed to stop “this homeschool thing” and get a job.  I think that is the only time that I saw my wife turn serious and a little red in the face as she clearly explained that this was something she would not give up until the Lord told her to.  Needless to say, the subject never came up again… at least in our presence!
Matthew 14:23-34 tells us the story of Peter’s experience walking on the water to Jesus.  The writer tells about how Peter accepted Jesus’ challenge, mustered up the faith, and got out of the boat and walked across the waves.  It also tells of Peter’s slip up as he began to take his eyes off of Jesus and look at the physical circumstances around him.  This action caused him to doubt and he found himself going under!  But Peter knew that Jesus was on the scene and quickly called out to Him for assistance, and Jesus responded immediately. 
I came away from this story this morning with the thought that Jesus really wanted Peter to succeed and that Peter knew that!  That message also reminded me of my wife.  Once she knew Jesus was on her side she was not afraid or hesitant to step out of the security of her boat and walk on the water of whatever situation she felt called to enter into.  I think that this is a lesson for all of us to learn!  I, like you, probably have many family members and friends who are hesitant to step out of the security that they feel their current life affords them.  They talk a good story, but are not living as satisfying, fulfilling and as exciting a life as they would like to. 
What about you?  Do you talk a good story, or are you one to follow Peter’s queue and not be afraid at the thought of possibly getting a little wet?  I’ve been wet a few times, but the Lord has always been there to pull me out, hand me a towel and give me a reassuring hug.  And you know… It’s been worth it!  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting today?”

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The “Has” and the “Is” of the Scriptures


In case you haven’t noticed, I enjoy personalizing the Word when I read it.  I probably got into that habit through my wife.  As I have mentioned before, when we began dating back in high school I was always captivated by the way that she talked about Jesus.  She related to Him not only as the Son of God, but as if He was a close and personal friend of hers!  This was a foreign concept to me and my Catholic upbringing.  I loved God and always considered myself to be a Christian, but I had no concept that this kind of relationship could exist… and I wanted what she had!  And even though it took me a few years to get there, I finally did and I’ve never been happier!
One morning a few weeks ago as I was confessing some of our healing scriptures over my wife, I found myself speaking out Matthew 14:36 with a little added personal twist to it.  It was almost as though the Spirit was prophesying through me to my wife and I saying “And as many as touch Me, as Piper has, are made perfectly whole, as Piper is!”
When I finished I had to pause as the revelation of what I had just said came to me.  It seemed as if Jesus was confirming our confession of His Word with a personal touch!  Then yesterday as I was confessing Matthew 8:17 to her at one point in the middle of the day, once again I discovered another personal twist being uttered through my lips!  When I began to speak out the scripture I suddenly felt compelled to stop and backtrack in order to explain to my wife that Jesus has taken a personal interest in her case because “He Himself took your infirmities and bore your sicknesses!”  Then I understood… God choose to get personally involved instead of sending a prophet or another qualified man or women.
Understand here… God has taken a personal interest in you and me!  I guess that is why I like to personalize the Word when I read it.  It just enhances the close, personal and loving relationship that I am ever attempting to increase with the Lord.  When I personalize it, it is like He is talking directly and privately to me… and you know… He is!
So if you’ve never tried it… try it today!  Pick up your Bible and read it like Jesus is speaking directly and privately to you.  Then see how you feel about what you just read!  It might just turn some things around for you as you realize how upfront and personal God desires to be with you.  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I (personally) expecting today?”

Monday, June 2, 2014

What Are You Expecting?


It is a little hard for me to believe that it is June already!  In another week we will have been living in North Carolina for a full month!  It seems like it was just yesterday when we were focusing on the upcoming Holiday season and the Lord suddenly interjected the thoughts of a move across the country!  I guess that is how He tends to work with me!  It was similar to how He introduced the idea of uprooting the family and moving them to Oklahoma back in June of 2004, during the first night of the conference my wife, daughter and I were attending at the Rhema USA campus in Broken Arrow Oklahoma.  And come to think of it… my first reaction to both was about the same!  It was an incredulous idea!
As I look back at the Oklahoma experience along with all its ups and downs, I can vividly see the good fruit of our obedience to the Lord in His call to “Go ye!” (Matthew 28:19 KJV)  Now as we are in the beginning stages of His latest mission for us, I have great expectations of the same here in our new home in the southeastern United States!
Life can be an exciting adventure when you keep your thoughts and hopes filled and focused on the expectations of the goodness of God working in and through you on a daily basis.  I was thinking earlier today about some of the many lessons I have learned on faith over the last few years.  One of the biggies has been to make sure that my trust is in the Miracle Worker and not in the miracle.
This was one of those frustrating events that I repeatedly saw happening with some of the Christian friends and acquaintances we fellowshipped with.  One week they would see my wife prayed over and would excitedly rejoice at her healing only to be back at square one the next week when they could see no physical manifestation of the healing.  Hebrews 11:1 clearly contradicts this behavior by defining faith as that which “assures us of things we expect and convinces us of the existence of things we cannot (yet) see.”  (God’s Word ©)
In Matthew chapter fourteen there is the story of the people coming to Jesus to receive their healings.  What is interesting to me is the use of the words knowledge and touch in verses 35 and 36.  Both of these words indicate an intimate closeness, attachment to, or oneness with Jesus.  The men who went through the countryside to bring the sick to Jesus didn’t just “recognize” who He was as some translations put it, but had an intimate, experiential knowledge of who He was!  Those who “touched” Jesus and received their healing also came to Him from a heart of faith that was at one with Him!  The miracle that they received was an offshoot of their oneness, their close connection to Him!  They came seeking more of Jesus and received a miracle!
That’s the focus I want to keep developing in me.  Isn’t that what you want as well?  I think that this is really being what they call “in Christ.”  It is being one with Him just as a husband and wife become “one flesh” in act of marriage (see: Matthew 19:5-6).  Having that oneness is what drives our daily expectations and keeps them constant and increasingly vibrant in our lives!  Have a great week!  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I EXPECTING to day?”