Our New Home

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

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Mustard


Do you have anything that bugs you in the course of your day?  One of those little things that set me off is when I am making a sandwich for lunch.  I might be a bit weird, but I like an abundant smattering of mayonnaise on both sides of the bread.  I can just hear all you health nuts sighing about now and am looking forward to all the comments about how bad real mayonnaise is for you!  Well, I’m sorry but I’ve tried all the light varieties and even the ones made with olive oil and they just taste funny to me!  It is hard to beat a good old spreading of Kraft Real Mayo!
But back to my bug…  Once and awhile I will add a small dab of mustard depending on what type of sandwich I am creating at the time.  The thing that gets me going is when I turn over the bottle of mustard and squeeze only to be rewarded with a puddle of yellow water that soaks the bread!  Since I add it so infrequently, I tend to forget to shake it up before I squeeze.  But that presents another problem in that if you’re not gentle with the amount of pressure you use, you might end up spraying mustard all over your sandwich, the counter and yourself when you attempt to flip it over in order to stop the flow!
In reading Romans 12:12 earlier today, I was reminded of all this.  Paul tells us to: “Let your hope (or expectations) make you glad.  Be patient in time of trouble and persistent in prayer.” (CEV/ISV)  It was during my deeper examination of his exhortation to “Be patient in time of trouble…” that brought me to my lunch counter antics!  Thayer’s Greek Definitions defines the word “patient” as “to endure, to bear bravely and calmly” and “trouble” as “a pressing, to press together or pressure.”
Those two definitions gave me vivid pictures of my mustard analogy in line with what happens when the pressures of life squeezes us.  First we get a little shook up and then the pressure comes.  When that occurs we tend to find out what is really inside of us as it comes out… and many times it will spray out all over us along with everyone around us!  If you’ve been packing in the Word, then your reaction will most likely be in line with it.  On the other hand… if your focus in that area of your life has been on something else, that’s what probably is going to spray forth!
I believe that is what the Lord was trying to show me about some of the unexpected and unlikely reactions we received from a few folks.  When the especially difficult situation affecting my wife’s health hit home, they got squeezed a bit unexpectedly and sprayed out some not so nice things.  I would think that each of us may have areas in our lives that might not be to the level of trust in God and His Word that we need to be at.  It could simply be that we aren’t aware of it, have never faced a situation there before or have inadvertently set another idol like money, the job, pleasure or anything else that has replaced Papa God as our true source of satisfaction and security in that particular area.
So how do you know if you need fortification or not?  You seek the Lord!  Simply ask the Holy Spirit to guide you into all the truth.  I like to ask Him to open the eyes and ears of my understanding to receive His wisdom whenever I seek His guidance.  As you sincerely and steadfastly follow after Him, He will lead you to the scriptures you need and will begin to show you the areas that you may need some building up in!  Many times He will point out things that we never imagined ourselves to be lacking in.
So go for it!  Pursue a little preventative care on your own behalf!  Then when the pressure comes you won’t spray out something that could take a long time to clean up!  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting today?”

Monday, September 29, 2014

What Are You Expecting?


How was your weekend?  I hope that yours was as pleasant as it was for my wife and I.  Early yesterday afternoon we stopped off at our neighborhood Mobile station, filled up the tank, put down the top and headed off on the approximate fifteen minute journey to the town of Apex, North Carolina.  Apex is a somewhat small community that sits a little southwest of where we currently call home.  It is an old railroad town that was incorporated in 1873 at the highest point on a section of the Chatham Railroad which ultimately extends between Richmond, Virginia and Jacksonville, Florida.  It boasts a current population of about 40,000.
We have felt ourselves drawn to the town as we have traveled around the area looking for potential places to settle down in.  Apex has retained its small town feel.  Even though it is twice the size of Morrisville, it is set apart by itself whereas Morrisville intertwines with the larger city of Cary giving it a busier, less country feel.  The old downtown or “Historic Apex” neighborhood as they put it hugs the still active railroad freight staging area and looks to be the center for town activities.  The first time we drove through they were having a Jazz festival with couples dancing to the beat of a live band under a huge tent that was set up in a parking lot next to the tracks.  The narrow street was stuffed with smiling and happy folks who were meandering around the booths that were erected up and down the block.
The old downtown definitely demonstrates an older country atmosphere with small shops and cafes serving at tables on the sidewalk, mixed in with old hardware and farm supply stores.  In many ways it reminds me of the old downtown areas in some of the smaller towns around the Wine Country where we used to live, without the sophistication, BMW’s and fancy restaurants.  When we drove through the narrow downtown yesterday we slowly passed another couple about the same age as my wife and I who had just stepped out of another Mustang convertible the same color as ours with a black interior.  The driver who was standing only inches away from me as he closed his car door, gave me a big friendly smile and a salute which I joyfully returned!
It pleases me to see folks enjoying the blessings that God has afforded them!  That happy interaction got me to thinking about some of the things that I had been studying over the weekend as I continued to pour over Philippians 4:4 where we are instructed to “Rejoice in the Lord always...” (KJV)  On Saturday morning I followed a cross reference over to Romans 12:12 in the Contemporary English Bible that stated: “Let your hope make you glad.”   As you probably know, the word “hope” would be more accurately translated “expectations” so that the verse would read: “Let your expectations make you glad.”
This particular scripture single handedly gives us the prescription for the “how to” for following Philippians 4:4!  Paul simply tells us to let the things that we are expecting to happen in life be the fuel for our consistent joy in the Lord.  And in case you don’t know where your heart is, stop right now and ask yourself: “What am I expecting?” (sound familiar?)
To be consistent with Paul and every other writer of the Bible your answer should be: “The truth and promises of God as stated in His Word!”  When your expectations are based on the truths of His Word, you can’t help but be joyful… even when things in the natural don’t currently look that promising.  Albert Barnes says that “we should rejoice that we have such a savior.”  It can be very discouraging, hopeless and depressing when you place your expectations on worldly, natural remedies …or the lack thereof!
Believe me when I say that we have interacted with some Christian folks who didn’t have their expectations fully centered on the truth of God’s Word concerning my wife’s healing and they were quite uncomfortable to be around!  Like I have mentioned before, I had to physically remove my wife from their presence as it was negatively affecting her health.  On the other hand, the effects of those who are joyfully expectant of God’s goodness energize her countenance.  That shouldn’t really be a surprise to any of us right?
So if you’re not feeling especially joyful right now, I would prescribe a dosage of the Word of God and a time of concentrated praise and thanksgiving to get you back on tract and in line with Philippians 4:4!  Have a REJOICEFUL week, stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “Just what AM I expecting today?”

Friday, September 26, 2014

Infectious Joy!


A few months ago I found myself sort of reviewing my ministry resume.  I was thinking about all the places we served, the various age groups we ministered to, and the different types of positions that we filled.  It was prophesized over us one night at a regional youth camp many years ago, that we were “nails” that would hold up a variety of needs in the churches we were are part of.  Needless to say, as Assistant Pastors our main role was to serve the Pastor and within that calling we performed many different types of duties such as Praise and Worship leaders, Youth Pastors, Children’s Pastors, preaching in the Senior Pastor’s absence, counseling, cleaning restrooms and mowing lawns!
In counting up the time that we specifically spent in each of the main responsibilities we have held, it was close between Youth and Children’s ministry, but our time in Youth work edged ahead by about one year!  For a ten year span beginning in the mid-nineties we were heavily involved in Children’s ministry.  One of the central goals in everything we did with the kids was to assure that they had fun in anything they were involved with at the church!  We wanted them to always associate their time with God with positive, loving, trustful and enjoyable memories.
In order for this to happen I always strove to make sure that every Sunday morning service and special events were planned to perfection.  The few hours that we spent at church on a Sunday morning was a culmination of the countless hours I spent in preparation during the week.  Our last assignment was difficult as I not only had to rebuild a program that had been devastated, but was without the physical and emotional support of my wife and maybe more importantly, her multifold talents and upbeat and encouraging co-leadership.  Nevertheless we forged on until the pressures of her health care forced me to resign my position.
Like I said earlier, throughout the years we always attempted to excel at putting forth a vivid picture of what it means to “Always be joyful in the Lord!  I’ll say it again: Be joyful!” (Philippians 4:4 God’s Word ©)  Most times when working with kids, this is a fairly easy task to perform.  In the rest of your life though, this is may not always hold true!  That is why I find Paul’s admonition of being joyful to the church in Philippi to be especially interesting.  As most of us know, at the writing of this letter Paul was in prison not really knowing if he was going to die or not.  But I heard something the other night that spurred my interest even more.  It was suggested by the evangelist we were listening to on TV that many of the members of this particular church were inmates that were in prison with Paul and Silas in Acts 16, when the earthquake hit and literally and spiritually shook things up for all of those involved.
With that in mind, it would be even more evident that this church had a lot to be unhappy and angry about.  Many of them were most likely treated very harshly at the prison, some were probably also on death row and had very little in the natural to be joyful about.  Most of my commentaries like the Jamieson, Fausset and Brown state that “Joy is the predominant feature of this Epistle.”  The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges eloquently summarizes the synopsis of this book by saying, “He leads them here above all uncertain and fluctuating reasons for joy, to Him who is the supreme and unalterable gladness of the believing soul, beneath and above all changes of circumstances and sensation.”
I think that this is another one of those black and white Christian characteristics that the Bible talks about that I mentioned in another post the other day.  I discovered along the way in this journey that my wife and I have been on for the past five years, that we are also called at times to be the carrier of this joy that is overflowing from our hearts in order to bring hope to those we interact with.  I’ve painstakingly learned that my attitude will most times set the mood for the medical appointments, the casual conversations with someone in the store or on the street, and even with visits with friends and family members, be they Christians or not.
In our set of circumstances we actually are dealing with a life and death situation.  The daily events of most others lives do not have this potential in contrast to what Paul and many of the congregation of the church at Philippi may have been facing!  So why not cast your care upon Him and throw in your lot with the only One who has the answer for ANYTHING that you and I may be facing?  With that in mind, as far as I can see… the only avenue we have is to “Always be joyful in the Lord!”  It can’t hurt you know… It can only help!  So go out this weekend and let your ultimate trust in Him be reflected in your attitude of Joy!
Have a GREAT weekend, stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting TO BRIGHTEN UP WITH MY INFECTOUS JOY today?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Cookies...


I had to smile this morning when I went in to our bedroom to help my wife get up for the day.  She had her chin comfortably resting in the palm of hand and had a most content look upon her face.  I on the other hand, was not very content when I awoke a few hours previous to this time.  I did not have the best night’s sleep as my wife had some difficulties around 2:00 AM and I was up and awake for about an hour or so tending to her needs.
Then I had awoke around 7:00 to the sound of the dog’s tags jingling.  When I sat up I discovered her head buried in the bottom shelf of the bookcase near the window in the room.  She had pushed out about ten books and was intent on removing the source of whatever had caught her attention… probably one the black or red crickets that frequent the area!  But alas, I was in no mood for her antics!  I was intent on getting one more hour of rest and didn’t want the pooch to wake up my wife who had finally settled into a peaceful sleep.
Mandie finally retreated from the bookcase after I gently called her name a few times, but returned about five minutes later.  I tried my best to fall back asleep but was not successful in my attempts.  So I begrudgingly got up, walked over to the dog who was still busily engrossed in the back of the shelf and pushed her backside with my foot!  The gentle nudge got her attention and she slinked away.  I must admit, at that moment my thoughts were not the most encouraging… more likely on the side of condemnation!
After I got myself dressed and had a few sips of Starbuck’s Sumatra blend coffee, I got the dog settled on her chair in the living room and opened up the Word.  It is interesting the transformation that the living, active and light of the Word can bring to you, isn’t it?  My whole attitude began to change and I even felt a little more energetic when I finally focused in on Philippians chapter three.  Many things in that chapter stood out to me but verses eight and nine really jumped off the page where the author is talking about how everything else is worthless compared to having a relationship with Christ.
The King James Version talks of being “found in him.”  The People’s New Testament explains that “to be found in him” infers that this is “where there is no condemnation” in accordance with Romans 8:1.  Meaning that in Him we neither receive nor dish out condemnation to others.
As I was proclaiming Romans 8:1,2, & 11 over my wife last night, I was suddenly reminded of how she always sought to encourage others and do nothing that would put a spirit of condemnation on them.  I even laughingly reminisced with her about the time she gently “encouraged” me over the manner in which I had corrected one of children many years ago.  Even her rebukes could leave you encouraged!  That is when she told me of the Oreo cookie technique where when correction is needed you start with encouraging comments, gently give the correction and then end with more encouragement.
(Hummm… I was just thinking… that was before the introduction of the “Double Stuff” Oreo cookie.  Would that mean that in reference to twice the cream between the two wafers that you give double the correction??? – I’ll have to ask Piper to clarify that one day!)  Her point was that you always lead off and end with the positive so that the individual is more apt to receive the correction and left feeling good about the interaction and not upset.
In the Greek the word “condemnation” reflects “an adverse sentence or judgment.” (Strong’s)  Dictionary.com gives its modern definition as “strong censure or reproof.”   According to the Apostle Paul this is not appropriate behavior for a Born Again Believer.  In Philippians 4:5 he plainly tells us to “Let your moderation be known to all men…” (KJV)  “Moderation” describes our “appropriate or mild behavior.” (Strong’s)
Has your behavior toward other Christians always been moderate or appropriate according to that standard?  I’ve told you of how surprised I was at my own reaction of condemnation back at those who openly criticized and judged me a few years back.  My response got me to thinking about all the times I may have quietly (but not openly) done the same thing to other Christian friends or congregational members.  That self-revelation caused me to repent and change the way I thought and acted toward others when I may not agree with their actions.
Is this an easy task?  NO WAY… and I am still working on it… although I am a lot better at it now.  With this knowledge I am much less likely to immediately judge and be more apt to bless and trust the Lord for the rest!  Many of Papa God’s directions to us through His Word are very black and white and this, I believe, is one of them.  But we don’t have to try and do it alone.  Remember Romans 5:5 informs us that “God’s love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who was given to us.” (God’s Word)
He is the one to empower us to act, think and talk as the new creations that we were re-created to be!  Isn’t God good?  He’s got it (and us!) all covered.  So go out today in His strength, in His love, and with His encouragement and be His Oreo Cookie to your world.  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting to LOVE today?”

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wisdom & Understanding


I awoke this morning to the pitter-patter of rain drops splashing on our window and the sound of water gurgling down the adjacent drainpipe.  I had just had a wonderful dream about my wife wearing a really cute black dress and as she stirred next to me, I arose to pull up an additional blanket over her.  I had a good and peaceful feeling about me as I walked into the living room a few minutes later.  When I glanced over to our white leather couch, I spotted the dog all stretched out in sleepy ecstasy!  She began to stir when she saw me from the corner of her and wiggled to acknowledge my presence. 
Well that sight was just too inviting to pass by, so I sat on the coffee table in front of the couch and started to scratch behind her left ear.  In that moment of quiet solitude and peace I began to reflect on the events of our recent lives and was drawn back once again, to the negative reactions of a few of our extended family.  But it was not so much the words, the actions or the sting they inflicted… this morning, I was touched with the feelings of the things that may have caused their actions.
What suddenly came over me was the strong sense of fear and insecurity that might have been driving them.   That reality almost brought tears to my eyes and I immediately found myself praying Ephesians 3:19, that they would be able to personally experience the intimate knowledge of the love of Christ, which surpasses all their natural understanding and the limited options that the natural has to offer, and thereby open up the door for them to be filled with the fullness of God and His love and peace!
The peace of God is the greatest guide and stabilizer that we can have in this life and that peace comes through an ever increasing experiential knowledge of the intimacy of Christ’s love for you and me.  Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us to “Trust in the Lord completely, and don’t depend on your own knowledge.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths smooth” (Easy-to-Read Version/God’s Word ©) 
While sitting in the darkened living room this morning before I opened up the blinds, I could physically sense what it might be like to depend on one’s own knowledge when tough times arise.  That hopelessness can easily become overwhelming and lead you down paths that do not conform to His ways of love.  Many times, our own knowledge is not complete or accurate and leads down a bumpy path that upsets everyone involved!
The James Moffatt translation has an interesting spin on these verses.  It says to “Have mind of him wherever you may go…”  That could be taken a few ways.  The most common being that we should be mindful of Him all the time, in every decision we make.  Another thought would be that we, as Paul told his readers in I Corinthians 2:16, are to “… have the mind of Christ.”  In other words, that we should think and act like He teaches us to do by precept and example in the pages of our bibles.
Now I know that this is or should be common sense among us Christians, but when one is touched by the sting of those who do not act in such a manner, the pain and confusion that they must have felt becomes very real!  Proverbs 3:17 talks about the wisdom and understanding of God’s ways and says that: “Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.” (KJV)
Let me tell you… I’ve been on the other end of those who did not act within the parameters of God’s loving wisdom and understanding and this morning I got an idea of what might have been going on in them at that time… and it is far from pleasant and peaceful!  It is definitely not an experience that I would want others to have to go through.  Today I choose life… His life of love and peace.  A life that oozes with His wisdom and understanding and is mixed with lots of patience!  What do you think… would you like to join me?  Have a great day by staying in tune to His Word and His ways, and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting to pass God’s Loving Wisdom and Understanding On today?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Art of Listening...


I spent the majority of my twenty year span with Hewlett Packard and their spin off Agilent Technologies, in supervisorial positions.  The company was always proactive in upgrading and improving the skills of their management team.  Throughout the years I took countless classes on a variety of subjects, but by far, the most prevalent training was in the art of communication.  In the late 1980’s I even became part of the teaching team and taught many classes in which we helped our employees to improve their communication skills.
Combined with my college degree that emphasized family and adolescent Psychology, my years of Pastoral experience and my Bible College education, I have developed a fairly decent insight and practical experience in effective communication.  With that in mind, I tend to be very aware and intuitive to people’s efforts and skill to accurately convey their thoughts to others.  On the negative side, I also can get easily frustrated when some individuals, who should know better, make no attempt to effectively communicate their ideas to me.
I have come to learn that the most important tool in the communication feedback loop is our ears!   I got the impression that the Apostle Paul was trying to convey this same thought when I read Philippians 4:8 today.  The Contemporary English Version states Paul’s conclusion to his thoughts as, “Finally, my friends, keep your minds on whatever is true, pure, right, holy, friendly, and proper.  Don’t ever stop thinking about what’s truly worthwhile and worthy of praise.”  The King James Version tells us to “think on these.”
In the Greek this term means “to take an inventory, to consider and to take into account.”  In my way of thinking, Paul is instructing us to count the cost of what you are going to think, say or do”  In my communication classes this would be called the “Active Listening” phase in a successful communication loop between two people.  This is where our ears come into play while talking with another individual.  In order for us to effectively express our thoughts with others we have to listen more than we talk to assure that both of us are sending and receiving accurately.
In recalling some of the one-sided conversations I had with certain family and friends in California, I expressed some of my frustrations on this subject to my wife yesterday as we took our morning walk around our neighborhood.  I then recounted to her a lesson I remember her teaching during one of our many children’s church sessions over the years.  She had written out the word: "PRIDE" on the white board but overly accentuated the letter "I" such as:  “prIde.”  Then she talked about how “I” is the middle letter in pride and how too much thinking about ourselves and our needs can mis-guide our lives as well as our conversations. 
I commented yesterday that too much “I” can blind us from seeing and hearing the real needs of others as well as block our ears from really hearing what someone is trying to say to us.  That was my frustration with some who refused to hear and/or understand what I was trying to convey to them as to what Piper’s real needs were and what we were doing about them.  They were so intent on expressing their own views and suggestions that they missed half the conversation, the communication loop was never completed and their good intentions went up in smoke because they totally missed the mark!
Paul seems to be teaching us the importance of listening and considering what others are saying in order to more accurately and lovingly be a blessing to them.  I admit that there are still a few folks that cause me to cringe when I hear their voices on the other end of the phone because I know that it is going to be a one-sided conversation.  They may say the right things in reaction to my words, but as the conversation continues I pick up the cues by their words or by the silence on the other end that confirms that they really haven’t heard what I said.
Paul reasonably conveys that this type of reflective listening is to be a regular part or mark of our Christian lifestyle.  When people see us they should be at peace in knowing that what they say is important enough to you that you take the time to really hear them.  Jesus told His listeners in Matthew 11:15 and in other conversations throughout the Gospels that “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” (KJV) My training and experience over the years confirms that this is a good piece of advice for us to follow… and I must be in good company as I believe that Paul is telling us the same thing!
So give it a try!  I can almost guarantee that you will walk away from your various conversations today with a greater degree of satisfaction and peace!  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting TO LISTEN TO today?”

Monday, September 22, 2014

Attorney, Judge or Miracle


When I took the pooch out earlier today for her morning constitutional, I was simply enthralled by the crisp blustery wind, the chill in the air and the freshness that seemed to prevail all around me!  Fall is definitely in the air here in North Carolina.  It is funny to me how one day can make all the difference.  Yesterday we took a little road trip and visited a couple of smaller communities within a thirty minute window of where we currently rent our apartment home.
While this locale is pretty, it is just a little bit too busy for me.  I figure that since we’ve moved about 3000 miles to the other side of the country, I want us to settle in a place that has more of what I consider the old southern charm!  Due to its location in the middle of the Research Triangle, this area is growing rapidly and reminds me of the Bay Area (minus the hilly terrain!) back in California.
When we arrived in the community of Fuquay-Varina on Sunday, I pulled over in a city park and lowered the top of the car so that we could better absorb the feel of the town.  After a while though, I noticed that Piper was getting hot, so I put the top back up and turned on the air-conditioner!  Today’s noticeable change in the weather would compel me to leave the top down and start thinking about putting a couple of extra sweaters in the trunk for my wife and I.
At 10:29 PM EDT tonight, the sun will cross the celestial equator which is the imaginary line in the sky above the earth’s equator from north to south.  This significant event signals the official entrance of the fall or autumn season, which marks the beginning of the transition from summer to winter.
The thought of transition made me think about something the Pastor said at church yesterday.  He told of a recent incident when he and his wife came upon a head on accident.  When they pulled over to help, he was greeted at first by the driver of one of the vehicles, a newer model pickup that had the passenger’s side of the cab completely smashed into the seats.  The Pastor mentioned to the man that he was a miracle since he survived the impact, but the man would have nothing to do with his comfort as he was very angry and critical of the other driver.
The other driver was a young teenage girl who had only received her license a few days previous to the accident.  She was still in the car and had sustained some head trauma.  So the Pastor stayed with her, took her hand and spoke reassuring words of encouragement and peace to her.  He was also intent on protecting her from the wrath of the other victim.  Commenting: “I immediately went into defense mode for once a father, always a father!”
The Pastor used their experience to illustrate a strong point of walking in Christian love.  He encouraged all of us to ask ourselves the question when we become involved in the pressure situations within the lives of those we encounter each day, “Am I going to be an attorney spelling out the facts on how to best protect yourself and take care of things in the natural realm, a judge who negatively critiques their actions, or be a part of the big or small miracles that God wants to perform in their lives?”
That statement hit home for me as my wife and I have painfully endured the first two actions from people close to us.  But we have also experienced those who have humbly and graciously loved on us and thereby became part of God’s miraculous solutions.  And let me tell you… The latter is far more enjoyable, uplifting and encouraging than those whose actions tended to inflame the already destructive force that we faced!
Those who became part of the little and big miracles in our life are somewhat like the fall season.  They have helped us to successfully transition from one season to another.  Philippians 4:5 instructs us to “Always be gentle with others…” (Contemporary English Version)  The Message Bible is even more succinct in its verbal brevity stating: “Make it clear to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them.”
The Christian individuals who immediately began to criticize and negatively judge our actions and go off with their repertoire of natural solutions they thought would restore my wife to health (without ever considering what we had already been doing in the natural realm) and gave us no support in our stand of faith, immediately placed themselves in an adversary role.  As I’ve said many times before, they quickly became an aspiration of the problem and not part of the solution.  
I think that the Apostle Paul makes it very clear that this is not the course of action that we should take when endeavoring to assist others in need!  What do you think?  When you hear someone talking about you, do you want to hear them say that they remember you as being distant to their needs as an attorney that could only give them the (already evident) facts, one that critically judged their actions (whether they were right or wrong) or one who became personally involved for the long run by lovingly caring, assisting and supporting them? 
Hopefully… the answer to that is another one of those “no brainers” to you.  For when in doubt, humble yourself and choose LOVE!  Have a great week.  Stay in tune to God’s Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting TO BE LIKE Today?”

Friday, September 19, 2014

Personal Involvement...


As I sit here at the kitchen table beginning to write today’s blog post, I am finding myself mesmerized by the sight of the bright sunlight that just broke through the cloud cover and the warmth of the light that is flooding our patio.  It reminds me of Malachi 4:1-2 where it states that “Certainly the day is coming!  It will burn like a furnace… The Sun of Righteousness shall rise with healing in his wings…” (God’s Word ©)
As I was praying this verse over my wife one morning, the Lord showed me that this is precisely what He is doing for Piper.  His light of love and healing is burning through the fog of confusion that has attacked her mind.  Last week He gave me a similar picture when I was confessing Isaiah 58:8 over her.  This scripture declares “Your light will break through like the dawn, and you will heal quickly…” (God’s Word ©)  What I heard was the Lord saying that, “The light of Piper’s understanding is breaking forth as the morning and her health is springing forth speedily.”  Sounds like what we just experienced here looking out our back patio windows doesn’t it!  I love the way that the Lord will use very applicable situations that we are familiar with to convey His messages to us.
I have often wondered what is going on inside Piper’s mind over the last few years.  It has to be so confusing for her.  She always had such a sharp mind, an eye for detail and was quick to reply in almost any situation with just the right words.  The idea of a foggy northern California morning seems to paint the clearest picture for me.  But then the idea of the sun breaking through and burning off all the vestiges of the mist gives me hope for the brighter tomorrow that He has promised her.
And speaking of His promises… In reviewing I Peter 5:7 today, I was reminded of how special you and I are to our heavenly Papa God.  The Phillips New Testament in Modern English puts this truth in such a way that it instantly warms the heart.  This paraphrase states: “You can throw the whole weight of your anxieties upon him, for you are his personal concern.” 
Many of us are probably more familiar with the King James translation which talks of “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”  Depending which word you emphasize, this encouragement can have two meanings.  The first being that Papa God cares for or about you, and the second that He takes and carries your cares in your place!
The Phillips paraphrase acknowledges the personal interaction that Papa God longs to have with each of us.  He is a God that exercises a “hands on” approach with you and me!  I like that, don’t you?  He is not like the supervisor on the job that sits in his or her office all day and never comes out onto the production floor. 
When I worked in the fabrication area at Hewlett Packard and their spin off Agilent Technologies, I made a point to position my desk right in the middle of the shop and spend as much time on the floor with my team as I could.  I even spent a night running one of the machines and another soldiering and assembling semi-ridged cables.  The highlight of the soldering night was when one of the older ladies that worked for me snuck up behind me and secretly turned the heat up on my soldering iron so that I totally burned up one of the connectors!  My surprise and clumsy reaction to the sizzle and smote was duly rewarded with the applause of the entire group.  It was great!
Over the last few years, I have come to learn that following Papa God’s example of becoming physically involved in the lives of those around you is what the Gospel of love is all about.  Like I have said a lot lately… Love is not just empty words but is openly displayed in the actions we take.  Many folks have told us that they love us and even that they are praying for us in the midst of the situation we are in with the attack on my wife’s health, but relatively few have put feet to their faith like my Mom who would call every day to inquire as to Piper’s well-being and reiterate her declaration of letting she and my Dad know if there was anything they could do for us, my cousin who would regularly call or text and on multiple occasions cooked and delivered a delicious Italian meal for us (and we still text from coast to coast on almost a daily basis!) and a couple of friends who immediately started coming by each week to spend time with Piper and give me an opportunity to run errands or attend a ball game with my son.  I am thankful as well to another old friend who allowed me to share my deepest thoughts and hurts with her through regular emails.  Her words of wisdom and peace helped through some of my toughest moments in the early stages of this journey.*
To me, that is a High Definition picture of what God’s love is all about!  Each morning and evening when I confess scripture over Piper, I personalize the words as if Papa God is talking directly to her.  This morning as I spoke we were almost overcome with His presence in the room.  It was no longer me speaking, but it was His loving and personal voice that touched our hearts!
As a child growing up in the Catholic church I knew of God and I believe that I loved Him, but it was not the personal experience that I now have after I asked Jesus to become the Savior and Lord of my life through the loving and gentle influence of my girlfriend (and now wife) as a Senior in High School.  That is what sets Christianity apart from any other religion that I know of.  Papa God personally and lovingly cares for your every thought and action and He wants you to give Him your cares and thereby allow Him to do His best for your life.
Remember nothing is too big or too small for Him.  He just wants to be intimately involved with every aspect of your life.  I think that is so cool… don’t you?  There are days that I fight the feeling of being alone as I long for the warm, tender and interactive embrace of my wife, but then I am reminded that He is closer than my next breath and any anxiety or emptiness I feel melts away as it is enveloped in the warmth of His love and personal concern for me.
If you’re feeling any of that today, I would encourage you to STOP what you’re doing and lift up your arms in praise and thanksgiving and just allow Him to saturate you with His personal touch of love… Right Where You Are!  Then go out and make a difference in someone else’s life.  Have a great weekend.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting a TO LOVE ON ME today?”
 

*There are other friends and family members that have demonstrated their love to us in various ways and they too are special to us, but these are some of the few who regularly went out of their way to interact with us.

 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The 87 MPH Strike!


I have always enjoyed watching the ceremonial tossing of the first pitch at the beginning of a Major League Baseball game.  It is not so much for the pomp and circumstance of the moment but to see if the one being honored with the toss can make it all the way to home plate!  Many times the throw falls short and the motion by the deliverer is awkward and humorous.  Of course there are always exceptions to this, like the time last year when Colin Kaepernick, the quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, tossed an 87 mile an hour strike to the surprised catcher.  I think most others tend to be surprised at the 60 feet, six inches distance from the mound to the plate.  It takes much more arm strength and effort than most would imagine.
This analogy goes along with Peter’s teaching on “Casting all your cares upon him, for he careth for you.” (I Peter 5:7 - KJV) Another translation instructs us to “Turn all your anxiety upon God…” but I feel that the “Casting” terminology is more accurate.  When you cast something it takes more of a deliberate thought and dedicated effort to accomplish the task.  After you throw a hard pitch all the way to home plate, you know that you have accomplished something!
Following the casting of your anxieties, cares or worries over to the Lord, the next verse encourages us to “Keep your mind clear, and be alert.  Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion as he looks for someone to devour.” (I Peter 5:8 – God’s Word ©)  After I read this earlier today, I immediately thought that these instructions could be taken as: “Cast all your anxiety over to God because he cares for you.  For this helps you to keep your mind clear and to be alert and thereby enables you to be aware that your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, as he looks for someone who has an open door for him to step through and devour!”
Worry and/or anxiety cause one to not think nor act in a clear and decisive manner.  It can confuse you and lead you to make hasty and most times, incorrect decisions.  I Peter 5:6 initiates the action of “Casting your cares upon him…” by declaring that we must first “Humble yourselves…”    Vincent’s Word Studies says that “Pride is at the root of most of our anxiety.  To human pride it is humiliating to cast everything upon another and be cared for.”  On the other hand, I have also experienced over the last few years in my casting the care of my wife’s health over to the Lord, that it sometimes disturbs others when they see you at peace in a stressful situation.  They view your response as not caring or feel like you’re immature or naïve because you are not overly worried or anxious about the need.
And of course… I initially handled their accusations like a strong man of God (NOT!) and I got angry at them!  Not because they doubted my faith, but that they doubted that I loved my wife enough to do something about it (as far as they could see).  But I kept my mouth shut and stood my ground on the foundation of my faith in God and His Word and you know… Now they act like nothing ever happened!  In fact one of these same folks even said something complementary about me in a birthday card to my wife that we received the other day.
Like I said though, it takes a definite decision and corresponding actions of faith to cast that care upon the Lord, and then to trust Him enough to not take it back when things don’t seem to be working out as you may have imagined they would.  Last night I found myself getting anxious about something when I heard that soft, still voice inside of me say, “Haven’t you prayed and given that worry over to me already?”  And when I answered “Yes” the voice replied, “then that anxiety is a lie and you should believe that I have already taken care of it!”  So I laughed, nodded in agreement and I let it go!
So… do you ever find yourself taking back cares that you have already prayed about and given to the Lord?  My advice is to tap your glove, wind up and then toss that anxiety as an 87 mile an hour strike back to the Lord!  Then, turn around and walk away when you hear the umpire yell to the accuser of the brethren… “You’re out!”
Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting today?”

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Filling the Void


When we had finally finished our dinner last night, since we had started it about two hours later than normal, I leaned back on the couch and noticed that something was different in me.  We had taken delivery of our new Mustang earlier in the day and had spent the entire afternoon and early evening hours finishing the organization and cleaning of our garage, checking out the new vehicle and doing a bunch of driving around town!
It was kind of a sight to see when the eighteen wheeler pulled into our apartment community.  I was a little surprised to see him actually come in because the driver and I had already discussed the logistics of our neighborhood and he had decided to stay outside on the main road similar to the driver of the truck that delivered our Buick from California.  As it turns out, his surprise entrance made the presentation very effective as the back of his truck was loaded with about five beater cars and then on the lower ramp at the very end sat our pristine Mustang GT!  It is even cleaner than it looked in all the online pictures.
The young driver commented that he had to call his wife as soon as he picked up the car because it was so clean and sharp compared to the rest of his load.  His also expressed to me his love for Mustangs explaining that he has already owned six of them over the recent years!  
As I investigated that feeling inside of me, I realized that I was feeling something that I hadn’t felt in a long time.  I had a definite sense of peace, satisfaction and completion about me!  This morning as I prayed about those feeling I began to see, no matter how funny this may sound, that a part of me had been replaced.  It was like a big void in me had been filled.
Since the early days of our marriage we have always had a “sensible” car.  You know, the family car.  The one you use to pull the trailer, take on family vacations, carry the bulky loads from the grocery and warehouse stores and transport the kids to all their activities throughout the week.  Now that’s not to say that our utility car had to look normal.  My wife always insisted on a set of mags, wide tires and a bright color.  It took quite a bit of convincing to get her to agree to a green Suburban instead of the fire engine red one she originally wanted… that big vehicle made for just a little too much red for me!
Along with the family car though, we always have had a “fun” vehicle.  One that I normally drove during the week and the one my wife and I took for our date nights and weekend get always to the coast.  Until last night, I hadn’t really ever considered that this vehicle was my refuge from the stress of the world.  After a rough day at work, driving my MG, 208Z, four wheel drive Bronco, sport pickup or /Camaro offered a sanctuary and a de-stressing environment for me to unwind in.  I guess it made me feel a little special as well.
Early yesterday evening as we drove back into our community with the top down, we passed an older lady (REALITY CHECK… she is probably about as old as me!) walking her two little dogs.  When we drove by she stopped, gave us a thumbs up and shouted: “That’s a nice car!”  I think that I must have been smiling from ear to ear.  That just felt good!
Then, the more I thought about it, I understood how difficult and different the last eight years have been for my wife and I.  Over that time period we had uprooted part of our family, reduced our fleet to the utility car and moved to Oklahoma, began to earnestly deal with my wife’s health difficulties, worked through emotional, family and financial hardships and then returned to our hometown in California to discover a whole new set of tough changes with our families, our church and my job.
Now as I look back, I can readily see how the Lord wanted us to learn to COMPLETELY depend on Him, His love and His resources.  I can honestly declare that after all that, I am a changed man!  I have come to see that His love is the only thing that matters.  It is the most powerful force on this planet.  It has the ability to change minds, heal our bodies, repair damaged relationships and give us that peace that surpasses all understanding.  Ephesians 3:19 tells us that Christ’s love “goes beyond all knowledge” (God’s Word ©)
Our new car parked in our well organized and swept clean garage is just another sign of His love for us!  It feels like He has said, “Now you’re ready to have that part of you returned!”  And you know what?  It feels good and it feels right!  I Peter chapter five gives us a lot of instructions for our interactions with other Christians.  As I read those words this morning I was reminded of all of our experiences over the last eight years.  But the final salutation of Paul’s at the very end of the book puts it all into order when he wrote: “Greet one another with the kiss of love.  Peace to all of you who are in Christ.” (God’s Word ©)  In my way of thinking, he was telling us to leave the stamp or kiss of His love on every interaction and every situation that you are involved with in this life, and when you do you will experience His peace like I experienced on the couch last night, because we are living and acting in Christ!  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting today?”

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Expect The Best!


I started my study time this morning by reviewing a couple of the scriptures that I looked at yesterday.  Psalm 43:5 begins by asking: “Why are you cast down O my soul?  And why are you disquieted within me?  Hope in God: for I shall praise him, who is the health of my countenance and my God.” (MKJV and KJV)  I had missed it yesterday, but realized today that the word “hope” literally means “to be expectant” or better said, “to put your expectancy in God.” (Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Definitions) 
Then a peek at 2 Corinthians 2:14 explains why this action is important.  The Contemporary English Version says “I’m grateful that God always makes it possible for Christ to lead us to victory…”  The Message Bible paints a very vivid picture of this process declaring “In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade.”
When I put those two verses together, I realized how much God likes to do things in big ways… to those who humbly and obediently follow His directions.  I think the key word in the latter verse is “leads.”  Some other translations state that God “causes” us to triumph.  Most of my commentaries agree that this is an incorrect translation in that the Apostle Paul is describing a parade that is giving Christ the credit and honor for the victory and not necessarily us!  A couple of the commentators explain their thoughts on how they see Paul imagining himself as the various members of the victory parade.
First he sees himself as Christ’s captive, then as one of the incense bearers and finally as a soldier marching toward the back of the procession loudly proclaiming “Triumph!”  At this stage in my Christian walk, I liken myself to one of those soldiers who, under the General’s leadership, fought valiantly and victoriously in the battle and gets to share in the victory accolades and spoils.  But I realize that without the General’s leadership, I would not be in this current position, and I give him all the honor and praises!
I know folks who would disagree with me, but when I read throughout Paul’s epistles, I get the clear idea that he also believed that God likes to do things in big ways.  He talks many times of the exceedingly, abundant goodness of His heavenly Father.  He not only likes to lead us, but also desires for us to participate in the victory parade that follows the battle.
With all this in mind, I got to thinking about the last five cars that we attained over the years.  I say attained because two of the cars were given to us.  The other three we were able to purchase through the goodness of God’s hand.  In each one of those stands of faith we received exactly what we believed for.  In the case of our 1989 Camaro, the Suburban, Buick and the new Mustang (which will be here in a couple of hours – whew… can hardly wait!) we went through a progression where our faith grew and what we were believing for upgraded along with it!
When I was attending Bible School it quickly became apparent to my wife and I that we needed another vehicle.  Finances were extremely tight at the time and we were outrageously busy with our demanding schedule, so we simply asked God for reliable transportation… and that is exactly what we got.  The Lord put it on a friend who was a fellow student and worked at the same place as me, to give me one of their cars.  It was a faded older Mazda with very close to 200,000 miles on it, but it was reliable and actually fun to drive with its five speed stick shift!
My point is that Papa God knew what was in our hearts and blessed us accordingly.  I firmly believe that God wants us to have nice things and honors our faith especially when our hearts are humble, obedient and loving unto Him.  Hebrews 11:6 informs us that “Without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (KJV)  Many of the stories in the New Testament such as Jairus, the women with the issue of blood, the Centurion and blind Bartimaeus seem to confirm this truth.
All of these individuals got to participate in a victory parade and gave all the glory and honor to the One who had answered their prayers.  Their healings were visible proof of the goodness of God.  Yes, the recipients were blessed, but not just for their own satisfaction and personal pleasure.  They used their blessings as a tool to lead others to Christ and the ability to walk in their own victory parades as they learned to trust in Him.
I know that I always saw someone’s positive comment about one of our vehicles as an opportunity to share what Papa God did for us!  Many years ago, through a series of miracles and promotions at both of my places of employment, He had made a way for us to purchase a brand new $44,000.00 Suburban in order to pull the trailer that was given to us and transport our large family and friends around town, when a month previously to that we barely had enough to make our monthly budget.  Do you think that my wife and I let that go by without giving all the glory to God?  NO WAY!
God wants the world to know of His love and His goodness.  I believe that He enjoys using the blessings He bestows on His children who obey His command to “Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will lift exalt you.”  (James 4:10 – James Murdock New Testament)  God is good!  So go out and serve Him with joy, a humble heart and an expectancy of His goodness being shed upon you.  Have a great day!  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting today?”

Monday, September 15, 2014

What Fragrance Are You?


As I was writing the date on the top of my note page first thing this morning, I had to stop and smile as I realized that today marks the 44th anniversary of the day my wife and I started dating at Montgomery High School at the very beginning of the school year in 1970.  I can remember that time in our lives very clearly.  I recall that flutter in my stomach every time we got together and then could hardly wait to call her as soon as we walked to our separate cars in the parking lot after school.  Since we didn’t have cell phones in those days, I had to wait until each of us got home so we could talk on the land line phones!
Actually, I had a job right after school, so I had to develop a great amount of self-control in order to make it through the 2 or 3 hours at work until I could get home and call her.  At that time I was employed at a printing shop doing everything from folding newspapers as they came off the machine, stapling books together, making deliveries and cleaning restrooms!  But you know who I was thinking about the whole time!  Funny… some things never changed over the years like how I still think about her all the time and get those flutters when I lay eyes on her!
It is interesting to me how the countenance of an individual can set the mood for your interaction with them.  My wife’s sparkling personality, the twinkle of mischief in her eyes and the smile on her face always set me at ease and has been the facilitator of my complete honesty and openness with her over the 44 years of our relationship.
The writer of 2 Corinthians 2:14 says that “I am grateful that God always makes it possible for Christ to lead us to victory, and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of knowing him.” (Contemporary English Version and International Standard Version)  That verse makes me think about how the sweet fragrance of a woman’s perfume can linger in a room long after she leaves.  My wife has never been one to wear a lot of makeup or perfume, but I always was aware of the presence of her fragrance when I would walk around her dresser or open the doors to her clothes closet.
I think that Paul was inferring that same thing when he wrote of “spreading the fragrance of knowing him.”  I believe that Christians have the potential to leave the fragrance of the beautiful presence of a life that is sold out to Jesus everywhere they go.  And it isn’t so much what we say or do, but the countenance of our person.  It is the peace on our faces, the love that emanates from us and the fearless and refreshing smile upon our lips.
Psalm 43:5 declares that “I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.”  The Greek translation of this Psalm describes the word “countenance” as ones “person, presence or appearance.” (Strong’s)  So this can be said to be stating that Papa God gives us a healthy appearance that is seen through our life of peace, joy and love, even when things are a little unsettling around us.
I can remember attending a confidential meeting years ago with my manager and Personnel rep in a brand new supervisorial position I had just been promoted into.  The meeting was held in a somewhat secret room located behind another room in the basement of one of the buildings on the work campus.  It was known as “The Bunker!”  We were there to discuss the final steps of an on-going discipline problem with one of the employees I had just inherited.  To say the least, there was a bit of tension in that room!
After filling me in with all the details of the long running situation along with the course of action that my manager felt was needed, they asked for my opinion on the matter.  To be honest, I don’t remember what I said, but when I was done speaking both of the other individuals in the room looked at each other, smiled with a sort of relieved look on their faces and my manager stated, “I think that we are going to have to call you the lawyer!”  Whatever I said, or more likely the manner in which I calmly and softly stated my thoughts, calmed down the process and helped us to make a uniformed and just decision.  And yes the employee was let go, but even that conversation went off calmly and ended on a positive note.
Again, I believe that this is what Paul was inferring when he spoke of how we leave the sweet fragrance of Jesus behind wherever we go!  You and I may never know how much our friendly “Hello” to the person we pass on the sidewalk blessed them.  I may have mentioned before of the time when my wife (fiancé at the time) and I went to a InterVarsity Christian Fellowship meeting when we were away at Chico State College in north central California, when a young man stood up and testified how a young couple had blessed him at his job at MacDonald’s one night when they openly held hands and prayed over their meal right in the middle of the restaurant.  Well, as it turns out… that couple was us!  We had no idea that something we always did as part of our Christian faith was going to bless someone we didn’t even know was watching!
Have you ever thought about what kind of scent or fragrance you leave behind?  Is it pleasing to others or distasteful?  On the negative side, I can also recall times when I worked at The Home Depot when the fragrance of some customer’s perfume made me want to gag!  Is that the way you want people to remember you?  I think not!  I think you’d much rather be the sweet fragrance of His love, of His peace and of His joy in the life of someone who might be having a difficult day!  So go out this week and make someone’s day… by just being yourself!  Have a great week.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Who’s SCENT am I expecting to LEAVE BEHIND today?”

Friday, September 12, 2014

Position


Well, I did it…  I feel a little guilty in that I had written in one of my Facebook posts that I had a big decision to make yesterday and I immediately received some replies with concern for Piper.  But she is doing good.  This decision concerned my new baby… and no I am not talking about an Abraham and Sarah experience here!  This particular baby has four tires.
When we followed the Lord’s leading to go to Bible School in 2006, my wife and I had to make some tough sacrifices.  For Piper it was her piano and for me it was my 1989 Camaro.  Piper actually got her piano back upon our return to California when some special friends purchased it for her from the family that she had given it to.  But alas, I was slowly coming to the reality that I’d probably never have another sporty car again. 
In 2011 though, I began to have some thoughts about another car when it was becoming apparent that Piper would not be able to climb up into her Suburban for much longer.  But then my folks gave us their Buick and my dreams went poof again!  When I was packing up in preparation for our cross country move a few months back, I came across a picture of a V6 Mustang that I had taped to the closet in my study that had been covered up.
That picture stirred up my faith as our financial picture had changed and I began to dream, pray and look again.  Over the last month I have pursued the idea in earnest but still wasn’t sure it was something I really needed to do.  Then a conversation with my youngest daughter a few weeks ago convinced me to go for it and to see what the Lord had in mind.
And a few days ago, it showed up and yesterday I put a deposit on a 2009 Vapor Silver Metallic Mustang GT Premium convertible with… get this… a hard to find red leather interior!  It was just what I was looking for!  Isn’t God good!  The more I looked at this vehicle, the better it got.  Come to find out that its original owner was a Ford exec who got the car directly from Detroit so it is loaded with options.  The second owner barely drove it and kept it garaged.  Even though it is five years old, it only has slightly over 28,000 miles on it and is a 45th Anniversary Model which had a limited production run.
Okay… In case you haven’t guessed it yet, I’m feeling like a little kid right now!  I discovered the car at a specialty dealership in Richmond Virginia and it will be shipped to my front door next week.  But I am not only excited about the new-to-us car, I am excited once more about what the Lord has done.
As I was professing scriptures to my wife while I helped her get ready for the day this morning, I spoke out 2 Corinthians 2:14 saying: “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in victory because of Christ…” (God’s Word ©)  Then in an instant I thought aloud to Piper that “we are to approach every day of our lives and every situation we face from the position of victory!”
That’s how we were to see this day progressing.  That is how I approached this whole adventure with the new car.  I had some very specific options and details that I was looking for and once I seriously placed it in the Lord’s hands, I was expecting to receive it… and I did!  When I first laid eyes on that car, I KNEW it was the one, and believe me, I have been looking at a lot of vehicles that didn’t make the grade!
Joshua 1:9 tells us to not be discouraged once we take a stand of faith but to walk forth with confidence and courage.  Confidence and courage in HIS Word and in HIS ability to perform it!  (See Isaiah 55:11, Jeremiah 1:12, Luke 1:37-38)  HIS abilities give us the confidence and courage to approach anything we face from the position of victory and it gives us the strength to forge on through until we have it!  The next verse in 2 Corinthians chapter two goes on to say that our actions of faith and trust are like a sweet fragrance to those who witness them in us!  Therefore it becomes a two-fold blessing.
So I encourage you to take a look at how you are approaching everything you do this weekend.  Put 2 Corinthians 2:14 in your heart and make it the foundation of your days!  Have a great weekend.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting to have VICTORY with today?”