Our New Home

Our New Home
Fall is in the air!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Trick or Treat?


As I knelt down at my wife’s side this morning, I looked at her and began to sing another children’s song that she had written many years ago voicing out:
“I am blessed, I am blessed
    I am very, very blessed.
    I am blessed, I am blessed,
    I am very, very blessed,
    For its Jesus living in me,
   That makes me very, very blessed, you see!”
Then as I picked up our healing confession sheet off her bed stand my thoughts drifted off to what day it was and immediately I had the revelation that Papa God is a God of “treats” and not of “tricks!”  For it is “Jesus living in me that makes me very, very blessed!” 
Jesus told us in John 10:10 that the enemy of our souls “does not come EXCEPT to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” (English Majority Text Version)  Those three activities describe one whose main intent and purpose toward you and me is to sneak into our lives and cause havoc.  The thief comes with a premeditated plan “to mar, to bring to ruin, to render useless and even to slaughter” (Strong’s and Thayer’s) any and everything in us that we allow him access to!
Jesus, on the other hand, came that we “may have life, and that you may have it more abundantly.” (EMTV)  That definitely sounds like a “treat” and not a “trick” to me… what do you think?  Our Papa God is a God of hope and not hopelessness.  His Word is the source of faith and not fear.
As I was preparing lunch yesterday, my wife and I listened to a nationally syndicated Christian program segment on the radio.  The subject caught my attention as they mentioned that they were going to be talking about what to do when you receive a bad report such as cancer in a loved one.  Without going into much detail, I have to admit that I was shocked and deeply saddened by what they said.  I forced myself to listen for about 20 minutes of the half hour program and then had to switch it off!  During that entire time they never once mentioned ANYTHING about having faith in God.  The program centered around accepting the fate of death and making the best out of it.
Maybe I'm missing something here, but that sounds more like a “trick” of the enemy to get our eyes off of the Healer and stuck on to the natural circumstances.  I am not implying that we ignore or deny the physical symptoms, but I am saying that our trust and our hopeful expectations should be focused on God’s abilities rather than on the hopelessness of man’s!
According to Strong’s the phrase “may have life” describes one who “takes possession of” or “actively participates” in the God kind of life that Jesus came to bring to us.  When the hard times of life come to me, I want to make sure that I am participating in God’s game plan and not just sitting on the sidelines resigned to what I firmly believe the enemy of our souls is attempting to “trick” me into believing.  
So what will it be for you as we find ourselves on this Halloween day (at least here in the US…)?  Will you be “tricked” by the schemes of the enemy, or will you choose to take possession of and participate in the “treats” or blessings that God and His Word avail to us?  Ah… let me think about that for a moment…  Kind of a “No-Brainer” wouldn’t you say? 
Have a great day and go forth letting His blessings in you be a “treat” to those you interact with throughout this weekend.  Stay in tune to God’s Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting today?”

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Celebration Day!


Getting up this morning was more than just a little bit difficult as I finally turned out the light last night as the hands on the clock in our bedroom were heading toward 1:30 AM!  I was just about ready to hit the hay about 10:00 PM but could not break away from the exciting events that kept occurring during the 7th and final game of the World Series.  Besides, these were my San Francisco Giants and after diligently sticking with them throughout the year and paying extra for the MLB package on Directv so that I could watch their every game from out here on the East Coast, I had to see this season through to the end… and it was worth every moment!
As the final innings wore on, I found myself energized and even my wife who had been snoozing next to me on the couch woke up and got caught up in the excitement!   Needless to say, after the Giants finally won 3-2 over the Kansas City Royals, I was totally caught up in the moment and had to watch all the post-game events, interviews and the game recap.  Then after I finally helped Piper into bed, I laid down next to her wide awake and stared at the ceiling as the evening’s rush pulsated throughout my being!
After dragging myself from the warmth and comfort of the sheets this morning, I began to feel re-energized as I started thinking on and uttering my thanksgivings unto God for all His goodness and hands-on guidance of Piper’s and my lives over the last five years!  I am not sure why I was thinking along those lines this morning, but all the successful directions He had led us with, even in the face of some severe opposition, came flooding into my mind as I got dressed, prepared a fresh pot of coffee and sat down at my laptop.
Even though I talk about it all the time, I still find myself amazed at how much Papa God loves us and desires to help us to succeed in our daily lives.  And while I know that there are those who have and probably will continue to point out what they consider to be the “gross mistakes” we have made in our lives, I tend to lean toward Papa God’s thoughts on our (not always perfect) obedience to Him and the plans He unfolds to us.  It is obvious to me that His way works!  I would venture to say that you have most likely also found that to be true in your life!
I was led this morning to John 10:7-10 when Jesus told His followers: “I am telling you the truth: I am the gate for the sheep.  All others whom came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep didn’t listen to them.  I am the gate.  Those who come in by me will be saved; they will come in and go out and find pasture.  The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy.  I have come in order that you might have life – life in all its fullness.” (Good News Bible)  As I studied His words, I began to thank Papa God that I did not follow any other words but those that He spoke to Piper’s and my hearts as we began and have walked the rocky road of the path we currently find ourselves on.  He is the ONLY one who could foresee what was ahead and make a way for us to get to where we are today.  If we had followed the path directed by human reasoning we surely would have been robbed of the blessings that God has had for us along the way.
Isaiah 26:3 reports that “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed (or single-minded) on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” (KJV)  the Greek translation of this verse talks of the one who is “taking hold of truth and guarding peace.” (Apostolic Bible Polyglot)  “Taking hold” meaning “to partake of the benefits of the services rendered…” (Thayer’s)  We have come to learn that His benefits that are rendered to those who listen to, obey and do His will, far outshine and far out last any of the so-called natural benefits that come within the intellect of human reasoning!  I’ve discovered most times that human reasoning (that is contrary to God’s directions) comes disguised as a thief and robber that will ultimately attempt to steal, kill and/or destroy you!
I am so thankful for the love, peace, patience and joy that accompany our diligent pursuit of His goals and purposes for us!  I would think that you are as well, as He has ONLY the BEST in mind for you!  Have a great day today and join in with the Giant’s celebration of their victory by celebrating the many victories that Papa God has given you!  Continue to stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What GOOD THINGS am I expecting to celebrate as I follow Him today?”

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

All The Way To The End!


After tiptoeing into our bedroom this morning, I sat quietly on the floor next to the bed and admired the peaceful look that my wife had upon her face.  To me it was an outward expression of the life of God that is pulsating through her body.  It was another confirmation of the work that His Word is doing inside of her.  Then in response to the idea of the light of His Word working in her, I leaned over and cracked open the blinds in order to shed some daylight on my favorite subject!
The brightness of the rays of the sunlight peeking over the trees behind our apartment and shining into our room made me consider how God loves to bring us revelation or “light” on the situations and subjects of our lives.  It made me recall a ray of light that He had shined on me yesterday morning as I flipped through a magazine.  I had sat down for a moment and absent mindedly picked up the current copy of Southern Living Magazine.
According to the cover picture and advertising this was their annual Thanksgiving edition.  As I leafed through the pages my attention was captured by a photograph of an elegantly set dining room table.  That picture sent me off down memory lane as I recalled the holiday feasts that were set by both my Mother and Grandmother.  And with it came all the warm thoughts of the outrageously delicious Italian accented feasts, fun and fellowship with the family, and the sense of contentment that went along with the event!
I also recalled the many holiday meals that Piper and I celebrated with her family at our house over the years.  Piper always enjoyed cooking and we both enjoyed entertaining the family so it seemed natural for their family to come to our place for the majority of the holiday dinners.  And even though it was a lot of work, it was fun and gave us and the kids the opportunity to work together for the common goal of being a blessing to others… besides, it also helped us to give the house a good cleaning before everyone came over!
The recollection of those good times also caused me to receive some startling light on our present and future.  With both my grandparents and parents gone, that picture served to remind me of their final days on this earth.  Two of my favorite people were my maternal grandfather and my mom.  They had similar personalities that were outgoing, joyful, and always encouraging.  My mom once complemented me by saying that I definitely reminded her of her dad. 
One thing that really bothered me at each of their passings was that they seemed to have changed during the last week or two of their lives.  Their usual mark of joy and encouragement led by an attitude that would uplift anyone in their presence was overrun with a bit of anger, a denial of their current place in life, and an overwhelming withdrawal into the past.  And as I thought on this, I realized that my in-laws have been heading down the same path for many years now as well.
When I stood up from that chair it suddenly hit me like a brick that “I don’t want my wife and I to end up the same way!”  I desire our lives in this chapter of our existence on earth to be a blessing to ourselves and others and not a burden.  After spending time with us, I want people to leave feeling full of joy and peace.  How about you?  Just as my wife had always prayed over the houses we lived in to be places of joy and peace, I desire the houses of our physical beings to be the same to others up until the day we move on to God’s kingdom and the next assignment He has for us there!
I think that the Lord wanted to confirm this idea in me again this morning as He led me to John 10:10 where Jesus stated that, “The thief comes only in order to steal, kill and destroy.  I have come in order that you might have life – Life in all its fullness.” (Good News Bible)  The Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary further define Jesus’ intent in this verse stating that He came “not merely to preserve but IMPART life, and communicate it in rich and unfailing Exuberance.”
That is what I want people to say after they have been around us!  I want to know that Piper and I have definitely left His mark in us on them.  That they walk away from our presence feeling encouraged, uplifted, with a spark of joy and a Godly contentment that fills their entire being… Kind of like I used to feel after Thanksgiving dinner as a kid.
Piper and I had the pleasure of getting to know and minister to an older couple that had been with us in two of the churches we helped to pioneer over the years.  We had the honor of being able to love on them and bless them just a few days before they went on to be with the Lord… if I remember correctly they went on within a few days of each other.  And that last time we were with them was JUST LIKE all the other times we had been in their house.  I am not sure who was blessed more, them or us.  Up to and including their final days, they were full of the joy of the Lord, were very exuberant with the personal experiential knowledge of His love and always seemed to have just the right word from Him to bless us with! 
I always told Piper that this is how I want to be in our older years… and the reality hit me yesterday that NOW is the time for me to assure that this happens in my life!  Now is the time to make sure that my life stays outside focused instead of withdrawn and all about me.  My aim is to impact others with the Zoë life of God… Now more than ever before! Would you agree on that for yourself?  Have a wonderful day.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting to IMPART LIFE TO today?”

 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Answer to Empty Feelings...


The weather around where we live has been great over the last few weeks and Sunday was no different.  I couldn’t wait until we could go out and enjoy the day!  After church we took the dog for a walk around our community and then packed the camera, the ice chest and the wife into the Mustang and took off!  Even though it was a bit blustery, I still put the top down on the car so we could really get the feel of the warm but yet crisp autumn afternoon.
A few days previous to Sunday I had purchased Piper an elastic wool beret that I thought might be good for her to wear during our daily walks when the cold winter weather hits.  Well as it turns out, it is a perfect hat for her to wear in the convertible.  I had quickly learned that riding in the car with the top down is not advantageous to her when her hair is not put up in a clip or without a hat as it blows out in ALL directions… which is actually quite funny to me but definitely NOT to her!
As usual, after a few moments of driving with the top down, Piper became alert and sat up in her leather seat.  Like I have mentioned before, I am continually amazed as that has happened EVERY time we’ve gone for a drive!  Once again we drove out to the little town of Apex, this time to look at a house I found for sale on a reality website, drive around the neighborhoods bordering the historic downtown area and then do a little shopping.  I think that we are just about set now for future excursions.  We have Piper’s car hat, her car brush, and a bottle of sun screen!  Come to think of it… I still have to toss an extra jacket for her into the car.
On the way home I looked across the red and black trimmed interior of our car to Piper and mentioned how interesting it is that she always seems to wake up when we put the top down on the car.  I wondered if it really was a sign of God’s confirmation that the car was right and being used of Him as part of her healing or because it was simply the environment stimulated by the sun, the crisp weather and the wind blowing all around us.  Whatever it is, it revitalizes and brings life to my wife!
That picture came vividly flowing back into my mind’s eye this morning as I read from John 6:63.  Here Jesus declares: “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.” (KJV)  While riding in the car with the breeze swirling about her, my wife is seemingly “quickened” or “revitalized” as Strong’s describes it, just as Jesus says the Spirit does to us!
What really caught my attention though, was the next part of that verse where Jesus makes the point that “the flesh profits nothing!” (EMTV)  That statement of fact immediately caused me to recall the emptiness I have felt when in the presence with or in phone conversations with certain Christians.  As I thought about it, I realized that these well-meaning folks either tended to keep the conversation strictly on a natural level of understanding or if they talked about God’s possibilities, they kept Him limited within the confines of a box that was constrained by their limited vision of what they thought God could do for us.
According to Jesus’ teaching, they were keeping their expectations limited by the flesh… and it left me feeling QUITE EMPTY (and by all physical and emotional appearances, my wife as well)!  We have come to experience three different kinds of Believers over the last five years since my wife’s original diagnosis.  The first are those who tend to live their lives in the box of their own natural understanding.  Then there are those who say they believe in the miraculous, but tend to keep God in a box that is limited by their own beliefs.  And the third consists of those who seem to be open for God to do ANYTHING!
What has been simply amazing to me is that I have surprisingly found the third group of Christians in what I considered some of the most unlikely places!  Most of these folks I discovered outside the walls of my own church fellowship, in denominations whose statement of faith does not openly purport such things!  I found this fact to be quite refreshing and quite humbling at the same time!
As I closed down my study time this morning and began to think about getting Piper up for the day, I was suddenly stopped short in my actions when I heard my own voice asking aloud: “Do I have God and/or myself in a box?  I am limiting God by what I believe is the ONLY way for Piper’s healing… or for the way we are living our lives?"  That was kind of a scary thought to me!  And while I don’t think that I am, I definitely want to keep our options and possibilities with and of the Lord open to His fluidity and discretion!
How about you?  Where do you fit in with the three types of Believers I mentioned above?  If I understand the love of the Father, then the good news is that wherever you find yourself, that it is never too late to break out of the box and open yourself up to ALL the possibilities of Papa God!  Always remember that we serve and worship a God who can do “exceedingly, abundantly above all that we ask or think – far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!” (Ephesians 3:20 – KJV/MSG)
That’s the God I serve… HOW ABOUT YOU?
Have another great day.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting to let out of MY BOX today?”

Monday, October 27, 2014

Shazam!!!


Saturday morning was an interesting time for me.  I was awakened from a sound sleep at about 6:00 AM by a loud pounding noise.  As I tried to gather my wits I observed our dog jump up and move rapidly down the hall toward the front door.  When my senses finally kicked in I realized that someone was outside in the breezeway leading to our apartment and was pounding on a door.  With a sigh of relief, I quickly ascertained that it wasn’t our door but one of the adjoining apartments.  Whoever it was really wanted access to the apartment they stood before and started calling out to let those in the apartment know it!
Well, Mandie and I gathered at our front door and since I couldn’t see anything through the peep hole, I decided that the better part of valor on my behalf would be better served by prayer over the situation rather than walking outside in my PJ’s and try and intervene!  Besides, I am a fervent believer that prayer is one of the most powerful tools that Christian’s have in their arsenal.  So I prayed in earnest for a while, felt a release, the commotion abated and the dog had since retired back to her bed and I did the same!
Then after I lay wide awake in bed for a while, I asked the Lord to help me fall back to sleep.  The next thing I knew it was almost nine o’clock and I had overslept my self-imposed morning get up time!  Therefore I bounded out of bed with a start, quickly dressed, brewed a cup of Dunkin’ Donuts Pumpkin Spice coffee and jumped into an abbreviated study time with the Lord before I got my wife up.  But the Lord is faithful and immediately gave me just the Word I needed for the day!  Has He ever done that for you?
I started out with Hebrews 11:1 where the writer gives us the definition of faith saying that “Faith assures us of things we expect and convinces us of the existence of things we cannot (yet) see.” (God’s Word ©)  Then I read down to verse six and saw the importance of faith since “No one can please God without faith.  Whoever goes to God must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who diligently seek him.” (God’s Word ©/KJV).
Those scriptures brought me back to the importance of being single-minded toward the things of God.  It seems to me that the writer of Hebrews was declaring that our diligent (or single-mindedness of) faith and trust in God will prove Him out to be the rewarder of our believing and subsequent actions that are predicated by those things we hold to be true according to God’s Word!
When one backtracks from James 1:8 through James 1:6 we discover that double-mindedness causes one to be unsteady and unstable in all of their ways.  There is no way that this individual can ever expect to be able to receive anything from the Lord for he or she is too busy dealing with the effects of being driven with the wind and tossed about!
Well… “Shazam!” as my good buddy Gomer Pyle used to exclaim when he was surprised… when the Lord showed me this it suddenly became very apparent to me and I had to ask forgiveness for being upset with certain family members who were always “too busy” to visit or call Piper back in California!  They were right!  They were too busy!  They were too busy dealing with the upheaval in their own lives due to the double-mindedness of their vision and faith of what was happening to Piper. 
These are the folks who I have to believe wanted to trust God for what they saw but were being guided, driven and tossed about by their natural senses.  99% of the advice they gave and the reasons for their anger toward me was based on natural solutions… which in Piper’s case hold NO hope of success! 
In my abbreviated study time with the Lord on Saturday morning, I fully believe that the Lord was telling me that among other things, double-mindedness can cause us to become too busy with the confusion and disturbances it causes in us for us to do and believe the things that are right in God’s eyes!  Would you agree?  Romans 8:6 tells us, “For to set the mind on (the things of) the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the (things of) the Spirit is life and peace.” (ESV)
So I would encourage you this week to do a little self-evaluation.  Is your life one that is characterized by the God kind of life that is vibrant and animate, satisfying and full of peace and joy or is it busily filled with things that bring tiredness, confusion, frustration and keep you from doing the things that God has called you to do?  Maybe it is time to revisit or better yet, refocus and become single-minded… Have a great week by staying in tune to God’s Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting to focus on today?”

Friday, October 24, 2014

Participation


My continued study in I Corinthians 1:9 caused me to recall an incident that has stuck in my mind for many years.  Back in the early 1990’s my wife and I felt the leading of the Lord to leave the church we had actually help to start and serve in as Assistant Pastor’s.  The Senior Pastor had suddenly announced that he could no longer teach and support certain doctrinal beliefs that we held near and dear to our hearts.  We left in good standing with the Pastor and his wife and actually continued to be good friends for many years.
Following our departure, many of the leaders of that fellowship also felt led to leave.  I can clearly remember the night a few weeks later when my wife and I stood in the kitchen of our house just north of our home town and discussed how we both were directed to keep the core of leadership of our former church together.  From there we gathered the ten of us and began meeting on Thursday nights for prayer seeking God’s plan.  Within a short period of time, through what can only be explained as a Godly orchestrated series of events, we made contact with a couple who had recently graduated the Bible College I would eventually attend and… whoosh… Living Word Family Church of Santa Rosa California was begun!  (and continues today...)
It was Pastor Paul’s first sermon in our crowded living room on that Thursday night that I so vividly remember.  As he enthusiastically bounded around the room in his striped sweater and black dress slacks, he suddenly paused and looked at each of us while asking how many of us were currently standing in faith for something in particular.  What surprised me and has spoken to my heart through the years since then, was that less than a third of those eagerly in attendance that night raised their hands!  These were the leaders in the church and yet they seemed to have zero expectancy for God to move in their lives in any focused way.
I Corinthians 1:9 tells us that “God is faithful by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” (KJV)  The God’s Word © translation says that He calls us “to be partners with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.”  That rendering gives us the idea of working with Jesus in our daily lives, but I think the Popular Commentary on the New Testament pinpoints a more accurate picture stating that it is “Not into fellowship with Him, but into participation of Him in all His fullness.”
Accordingly, our lives should be a picture of Him in and through us as we walk day to day!  Our lives are to be an active and intimate participation of His love, His peace, His joy and of His abilities.  The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges declares that to be in fellowship or participation of Him “refers to the life which by means of faith is common to the believer and his Lord.”  Therefore it would seem that faith is the common denominator that connects us to the Lord Jesus Christ.  I think that you might even take it a step further and state that if you’re not in active faith, then you are not in fellowship with or in participation of Him.  Would you agree?
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)  In other words, we not only have to believe in Him, but also know or EXPECT that He will reward our diligent and deliberate steps of faith in Him and His Word.
I will be honest with you… our diligent and deliberate steps of Faith that are driven and/or empowered by our EXPECTATIONS of the truth of His Word working for Piper’s behalf, is the ONLY thing that causes me to get up each morning.  It is the ever increasing intimate knowledge of His love for Piper that helps me to see past the devastation I feel when I look at how the visible symptoms of this disease has changed my once (and will be again) beautiful, vibrant and incredible wife.  It is the ONLY thing that helps me to see her through the eyes of faith and picture the real her that is reemerging as the promised reward of our active, consistent and diligent faith in Him!
Can you honestly say the same thing concerning your personal EXPECTATIONS for His working in the situations and circumstances in your life?  Remember Hebrews 11:1 clearly states that “Faith assures us of things we EXPECT and convinces us of things we cannot (yet!) see.” (God’s Word ©)
Can your life be characterized as a participation of Him?  Think about it  Have a great weekend by staying in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What am I EXPECTING today?”

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Fellowship


Have you ever had one of those mornings that just seem to start off a bit different?  I arose today thinking about the word “fellowship.”  As I got dressed I contemplated the different places in the New Testament where that particular term is used.  Then I was completely taken off track as I walked barefoot into the darkened kitchen and felt a cold crunch under my left foot.   At first I thought it was a leaf since they are falling from the multitude of trees all around our community, but then I stopped and thought with a slight chuckle, “Oh no!  That wasn’t just a cricket I stepped on was it?”
Since we had moved in we have had our share of pretty good sized red and black crickets scampering across the floor and occasionally the walls of our apartment and Mandie and I have done our best to remove them from our humble abode!  Mandie has become the best early radar system that I know of when it comes to the insects.  She will sniff them out and then chase them until I arrive with shoe or magazine in hand! 
She learned fairly early to not try and eat them as the first one she snatched up was immediately rejected while she shook her head and foamed at the mouth.   That compelled me to do a little research on the crickets in order to discern if they were harmful to the dog or not.  And as it turns out, they do emit a non-poisonous liquid (or other unmentionable items – I had enlisted the aid of my bug expert Granddaughter and she read the disgusting information from her bug encyclopedia to me!) to deter their attackers.
On a few occasions the pooch has actually alerted me to the presence of the critters a day or two before they make their presence known in an open area.  That is what made me pause this morning as she was sniffing like crazy around the piano a couple of days ago!  Well… you guessed it!  When I turned the light on I discovered a slightly flat black cricket and detected some cold liquid on the bottom of my foot!
What was even more interesting to me was my reaction to the incident.  It did not cause me to skip a breath or even freak out.  I simply laughed, wiped my foot on a nearby area rug and called out to the snoozing dog that “I found it!”  Then I almost immediately recalled Jesus’ commission to us in Mark 16:18 where He said that “they will take up serpents (or step on black scary crickets); and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” (KJV)
That verse brought me right back to my thoughts of fellowship and its benefits.  When I sat down at my computer I performed a search on the word “fellowship” and discovered a multitude of usages of it in the New Testament.   I focused in on I Corinthians 1:9 and used it as the foundation for my morning study.  In this scripture the Apostle Paul is telling his readers as well as to us today that “God is ever true to His promises, and it was by Him that you were, one and all, called into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ, our Lord.” (1912 Weymouth New Testament)
Adam Clarke infers that this type of fellowship is having a real, active and intimate participation with the grace, peace, love and life of God.  So it does not describe a casual friendship but one that goes much deeper and touches the very heart and soul of Papa God.  It is an intimate relationship and union that affects every part of our life and extends into every relationship we have with the people in our daily lives.  As Christians it should be the number one and most important relationship in our life!
Like I have mentioned before, I am always amazed and perplexed when I first explain what is going on with my wife to some mature Christians and their initial response is the negative report on the disease that is held by medical science instead of that which is proclaimed by the Great Physician!  I found myself celebrating last night even after I turned off the Word Series with my Giants behind 7-2, when I was helping my wife get ready for bed and explained a few thoughts on her healing according to the Word of God and then paused and asked Piper if she understood and she boldly proclaimed, “Yes, I do!”
You have to understand that she hasn’t really spoken any intelligible words for quite some time and then her first clear sentence is exclaiming her agreement to God’s diagnosis to her condition and NOT that of what the natural senses declare!  That to me showcases an individual who is in close and intimate fellowship with Papa God!  Is that the type of fellowship that you enjoy with your heavenly Father?  I hope so!
I can only imagine the confusion that is filling my wife’s thoughts, but in the midst of it she finds the clarity to agree with God because of the close relationship or fellowship she has developed since she was eight years old and gave her life to the Lord.  Is it time for you to shore up and or improve your relationship or fellowship with the Lord?  I know that there are areas in my life that could use some closer ties in fellowship with Papa God!  I plan on working on those places starting TODAY… What do you say that you join me in that endeavor?  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What or WHOM am I expecting to grow closer to today?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Representation


Hello everybody!  It is good to be back after a one day hiatus.  Yesterday my wife and I arose early, had a quick breakfast, got ready, jumped in the car, pointed the Mustang east and hit the gas!  Our destination was the capital city of Raleigh and our purpose was to go before a judge in order for me to attain legal guardianship of Piper.  I find it a bit interesting that after almost forty years of marriage that I would have to file for the legal right to do what I have already been doing for the last few years, but since it is for her ultimate protection, it must be the right thing to do!
Do you know that sense inside of you that just feels right about where you are, or the course of action that you have been taking?  Well, that is exactly what I discerned as we motored along interstate 40 toward Raleigh.  I was telling my wife that it is as if we have always been here!  Driving into the busy metropolis and then through the crowded downtown area was enjoyable and easy as pie.  We found a convenient place to park on the street a few blocks down from the courthouse where we needed to go in one direction and in the other, within one block of the State Capital building that was completed in 1840.
God even provided a former health care worker standing near the curb to help me maneuver Piper from the car to her chair as I had parked a little too far from the curb for her to make an easy transition.  Papa God thinks of everything doesn’t He!  Once we meandered down the street lined with oak trees, benches and decorative stone pathways and restaurants with their fronts opened out to the sidewalks (I later read that this street had recently been reopened to auto traffic after a period of time as a park-like pedestrian though fare through the downtown area), we made our way up to the 12th floor of the courthouse and met our attorneys.
After that everything moved quickly.  We went into a conference room and waited about two minutes for the judge to come in.  Introductions were made and he briefly explained the proceedings and then turned it over to our attorney who explained what and why were filing for.  I have to admit that it was a little surreal for me to hear Tovah our attorney and then Kimberly the attorney representing the state who had performed the background investigation and interviews of Piper and I and our four children, talk all about us! 
What was really special to me was when Piper, right in the midst of the proceedings, suddenly reached out her hand and took mine in hers.  That had to be a God thing!  I know that everyone in the room saw it, and whether or not it had any effect on them, it certainly did on me and made me feel quite special and just reaffirmed my life-long love and commitment to her!
As we sat there during the proceedings, I had the picture of the Holy Spirit interceding for us to Papa God in the throne room of heaven!  And even though everything was very positive, I kept finding myself wanting to interject things and then remember thinking that these folks were there for me, representing me and I needed to be quiet and trust them, their experience, their education and their familiarity with the process! 
In many respects it would be like us praying about something, turning it over to God and then wanting to continuously interject things that we think would help our cause!  In John 14:16 Jesus told us that He would “ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Standby) that He may remain with you forever.” (Amplified Bible)
Just like Piper and I had two lawyers and a law clerk present with us in that room yesterday to plead our case before the judge, you and I have the Holy Spirit to plead our case before Papa God 24 hours a day!  The word that most versions translate as “Comforter” is the Greek word “paraclete” meaning “one who pleads another’s cause before a judge.” (Thayer’s Greek Definitions)  Each of us has a personal attorney at our sides to stand in for us and legally present our defense and requests to God!
So why, I ask you today, do we continuously want to “help” Him and by doing so, most likely muck up the process by throwing in our own two cents?  If anything… I think that action would tend to cast doubt on our trust in the Holy Spirit to perform the job He is called to do in the church age within the life of the believer!
After I went around the room yesterday shaking hands and thanking the judge, the assistant county clerk and all the attorneys, we walked out the door feeling quite content and thankful that we had those folks on our side.   When we got back to our shiny silver steed and drove home, I was even more thankful that we have THE Advocate on our side 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 364 days a year!  How about you?  I guess the question centers around if we acknowledge His presence 24/7 and then trust Him to fully represent us in the throne room of Papa God?
Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting and trusting to represent me today?”

Monday, October 20, 2014

Knowing You...


Yesterday we woke up to another beautiful autumn day here in North Carolina.  By early afternoon the temperature had settled into a slow rise through the high sixties that would eventually max out in the low seventies.  We were filled up with the encouraging Word of God’s truth and were looking forward to taking a ride through the local countryside.  So with no further ado, we filled up the gas tank in the Mustang and headed southeast once again, to the little town of Apex.
My goals for this trip were to check out a couple of churches, take some new pics that capture the charm of the area and to expand our familiarity with the various neighborhoods in and around the community.  Once we came to the city limits I pulled off on a side street, put the top down on the car and proceeded forth on our excursion. 
The first thing we did was to follow the railroad tracks along the back of the historic downtown area.  Ever since I took six high school students cross country on an adventure by train to a national Baptist Youth Fellowship conference at Green Lake Wisconsin in 1979, I have had an attraction to trains, their various routes around the country and the back-of-town views that you see from the windows of the passenger cars.  In some respects it gives one a feeling for what really makes a town tick!
It is similar to what I always like to call the “back room ministries” of the church.  As an Assistant Pastor working mainly with the children and youth of the church family, I normally found myself ministering in rooms set off from and behind the adult congregation.  And even though they are many times out of sight and sound of the adult ministries, they play a major foundational role in the health and growth of the local church.  A strong and growing children’s and youth ministry equates to a strong and growing congregation and their greater impact on the community.  The “back room ministries” are the future of every church.
Likewise, many of the activities and businesses that are situated along the railroad tracks on an active train line along the back side of a town can also constitute some of the foundational services of a town.  From the backsides of the town we moved to the front side where most people spend their time and took some pictures along the main drag of the old downtown area and finally zigzagged down side streets along the way.
As we meandered around I thought back of a recent conversation I had with our youngest daughter in Oklahoma.  We were talking about cars and motorcycles and she mentioned how she just loves to encounter the countryside with the wind bracing against her senses while on the back of her husband’s motorcycle!  She exclaimed how it is like you become one with the sights, sounds and smells of everything around you. 
Well, that is precisely what I was enjoying as we slowly drove through the town.  Motoring down the narrow main street you could smell the scent of coffee and burgers in the air.  You could hear the chatter of the folks sitting happily at the little tables set on the sidewalk in front of the various cafes along the way and feel like you’re right there next to them as our eyes would catch and we’d nod our heads in recognition of each other.  I felt like I was riding my bike along with the boys that we stopped for in order to allow them to cross the street in front of us.  When they said “thank you” we just hollered out “you welcome” and slowly accelerated away!
With that I turned to my wife who was sitting alertly in her red seat next to me and declared, “God sure knows how to bless you and me doesn’t he?”  Lately I find myself continuously noticing how much Papa God knows my wife and I.  Just like He knows how much riding my son-in-law’s cruiser blesses my daughter and her husband, He knows how much our Vapor Silver Mustang GT convertible blesses, relaxes and refreshes us.  To some a car is just a means of transportation, and He acknowledges that, but to others like us, it is a source of His loving kindness, restoration, recreation and a symbol of His intimate care for us.
Hebrews 4:13 tells us that “No creature can hide from God.  Everything is uncovered and exposed for him to see.  We must answer to him.” (God’s Word ©)  One can take both negative as well as positive implications from that statement.  But for today, I see the Lord telling us that He knows us sooooo well, that no aspect of us is neither too small nor too big for Him to understand!  He knows the tiny little details of what makes us tick.  And the cool part is that we are all different.  We come from different backgrounds, we all have unique experiences in life and each of us has the perfect God-given personality for our place and purpose in this life.
You know… His knowledge of me excites me and I love to listen to Him, to receive and follow His directions in and for my life and to enjoy the intimate ways in which He blesses me!  How about you?  What are some of the unique ways in which He blesses you?  What are some of the special things and ways that He has blessed you with?  When I look at our new car I don’t see just a vehicle, but I see Papa God who knows me and loves me sooooo much that even the little things in and about me are important to Him… and that very same thing can be said about His love for you.
Think about that this week as you enjoy the things that He has given to you.  Keep a thankful, appreciative and humble heart that is sensitive to His knowledgeable love and guidance for your life.  Have a great week.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting today?”

Friday, October 17, 2014

Your "GO-TO" Guy...


Throughout the years of our relationship, I have always enjoyed surprising my wife with gifts, special events and by doing special and slightly out of the norm things for her.  When we were dating we would both surprise each other with little inexpensive gifts.  She had a knack of finding little books filled with cute pictures or drawings that just happened to say the right thing at the right time for me!
When my family and I had gone on an extended vacation during the first summer Piper and I dated, I surprised her by calling her from home and telling her that we were still on the road and would return the following day.  Then I hopped in the car bearing all kinds of gifts and suddenly appeared at her doorstep a few minutes later.  I surprised her with an engagement ring during a date at a local steak house… that one didn’t go quite as romantic as I had planned, but the effect was still the same (thank God!). 
A few summers later when her family was on vacation, I spent a few days at her house and blacked out the funky fake silver looking grill on her new Pinto woody wagon and another time purchased and installed a cassette player into the same car.  Once married, I would stop many times on the way home and buy her a single red rose (mainly because that’s all I could afford... from Walgreens no less!) and I always bought and surprised her with a new nightgown each time we took a short mid-week holiday together.
The element of surprise can be exciting because it can keep you in expectation of the potential of things to come.  On the other hand, knowing exactly what is ahead can give you a sense of security and cause you to make specific decisions or take definite steps toward particular events or goals in your life. Whenever I organized a special event at church I always spent a lot of time trying to imagine all the potential contingencies of the event and planned various courses of action to meet most any situation.
I thought about this as I continued to study Hebrews 4:12 again this morning.  In this portion of scripture the author of Hebrews is succinctly telling his readers that the Word has the answers for any contingencies by declaring that “The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow.  God’s word judges a person’s thoughts and intentions.” (ESV/God’s Word ©)  Every time I look at this verse the Lord shows me a different angle or usage of this foundation of our faith.  This morning I was able to see it as the answer to when someone may talk negatively about you or as I have mentioned in early posts, when they just don’t seem to hear or care about what you are saying or doing because it doesn’t agree with them!
The Lord simply told me that “since the Word is a living and active entity filled with the Zoë life of God, then it is best to always bring your problems to the Word and then bring that Word back to the problem.”  The thing that really caught my attention in Hebrews 4:12 was that the term “two-edged” literally means having two mouths and infers people who say two different things at the same time!  That hit home in that the folks that said some stinging things to and about us would turn around the next time we saw them and talk like nothing was ever said and act as if they were our best buddies!
James tells us that a person like this is filled with doubts and “can’t make up his mind about anything.” (James 1:8 God’s Word ©)  God says that the best thing we can do in the midst of persecution is seek the solution in His Word and then pray that Word continuously over the offending parties.  In other words, it gives Him a free hand in the situation to work His Word in their hearts.
The Message Bible relates Hebrews 4:12-13 as “God means what he says.  What he says goes.  His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubts or defense, laying us open to listen and obey.  Nothing and no one is impervious to God’s Word.  We can’t get away from it – no matter what.”
This solution makes sense to me.  My attempts to clear things up, to give my personal defense to their incorrect assumptions just tended to fall on deaf ears.  It would seem that the Lord was trying to tell me that it is really a matter of the heart, and nothing is better equipped to handle that kind of problem than is the living and active Word of God… working from the inside out!
I think that once we change our perception of the Word of God from that of words written in a book to the words of the living and breathing Jesus Christ, we will see the effectiveness of God’s solution.  And in reality, this is the same approach that will work in any situation or circumstance that we face in our daily lives, whether it be physical needs, financial needs, healing, relationships, or plain old wisdom on how to handle a problem that is placed before us.  His living and active Word contains all the answers we need!
So when the opportunities present themselves to you this weekend, go to His Word and then bring His Word to the opportunity!  Have a great weekend together with Him.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting to go to for the answers today?”

Thursday, October 16, 2014

One Size Fits All?


As my wife and I have walked this journey concerning the attack on her health, we have received a lot of comments, suggestions and words of advice from a great and divergent multitude of individuals and places.  Some of the best advice has come from the most unlikely places while some as I had expected it would came from Christian individuals and leaders within our “camp” of doctrinal belief.  We’ve also received some unwanted and not too positive advice from places and people we would have never expected.
One of the greatest lessons I have learned through it all is to rely first and foremost on the Word of God and not on the word of man’s reasoning.  The preacher we were listening to last night just before bed nailed it on the head when he stated that “man’s reasoning does not produce faith in you.”  Our faith must be based on our knowledgeable expectations in the supernatural Word of God, as faith only comes through our hearing and believing His Word! (See Hebrews 11:1 and Romans 10:17)
Through the ups and downs of this walk, we have continuously witnessed the power of His Word working on our behalf on a very personal level.  We have come to intimately understand that “God’s word is living and active (and) it is sharper than any two-edged sword…” (Hebrews 4:12 God’s Word ©)  Over the last five years we have seen the adamant advice of man’s reasoning dissipate under the pressure of what we have been facing while God’s Word has always proven true!
I think that one of the best pieces of advice that I could give to someone facing difficult circumstances is to always “seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33 KJV).  I would suggest that you do this for yourself before you take other's well-meaning but not always suitable for your situation, thoughts on the matter before you.  And please understand that what I am about to say is not in any way meaning to be disrespectful to any Christian leaders or other brothers or sisters in the Lord, but in the early days of our battle I received thoughts and potential advice from some in leadership that was not really suitable for our particular set of circumstances.
At the time I had not yet taken my own advice and fully sought out the Lord, but I instantly knew inside that what they were telling me did not “feel” right for Piper and I.  As I studied (and continue to..) the Word and read volumes from great men of women of our faith, I began to understand just why I felt the way I did.  The information given was not quite correct.  Their hearts were in the right place, but in this particular instance the info was not right for us. 
One individual who was in the inner circle of church leadership tapped me on my shoulder one Sunday morning and told me that he had just received “a word from the Lord” about Piper and proceeded to share it with me.  We had recently returned to the church after our three year stay in Oklahoma and I did not really know this gentleman as he and his wife had joined the church after we had left.  But I smiled and listened and then thanked him even though what he said was opposite to what I believe the Lord had been telling me!
Now that does not mean that I would not and have not gone back to some of these leaders for guidance, but I now know to check it out before I put anything into use!  This morning I was reminded about I John 4:1 where the seasoned Apostle of love tells us to check out what is being said… as well as Ephesians 4:14 where we are encouraged to step it up and be “no more children tossed to and fro” (KJV) by the information that is hitting us from all directions!
The Apostle Paul instructs us to “take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17 ESV) when we find ourselves fighting a battle against the schemes of the enemy and I think it helps to prove my point in this case.  The term that is translated “word” is the Greek word “rehema” which in a simple explanation denotes a particular scripture or word from God that becomes especially meaningful to us in a specific situation or need.  It is one of those words that the Lord causes to jump off the page of your Bible that just speaks to your heart about what you’re going through.  It is the one that causes those “Ah-Ha” moments that I often times talk about.
It is these “rehema” scriptures that comprise the 100+ healing verses that I confess over my wife multiple times a day!  They have special significance and hold God’s answers and His will for the healing that we are standing in faith for.  These “rehema” verses are the ones that the Spirit of God will point out to you as you “seek first His kingdom.”  They are the ones to stand on when you face the various and sometimes unique situations of your life because you know that you know that they are for you. 
I have come to firmly believe that God does not have a “one size fits all” solution for everyone.  That is why I feel that man’s reasoning may not always be what is right for you.  We have to dig into the Word of light and life and see what His personal solution is for you in this particular need.  Let’s face it, no one knows you as well as Papa God!  This is the way that I always endeavor to counsel people who have needs.  I will guide, encourage and suggest, but I will never force upon them what “I” believe is the correct answer for them to pursue.  I will always point them to the Word of God and endeavor to have them investigate it for themselves in order to find and then take ownership of the directions given by the Lord.
In the middle of the night when I am sitting there in the dark, I ALWAYS find my dependence, my strength, my peace and the fortitude to face another day in the truth, love and faithfulness of HIS Word and not in the advice of man alone!  How about you?  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting to depend on today?”

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Harvest Time!


Yesterday had been kind of a long day.  In the early afternoon we were interviewed by an attorney representing the state concerning my application for guardianship over Piper.  Everything went well and the young lady was quite friendly, helpful and accommodating to our request.  I think it was the battle that I constantly face with what medical science says about the final outcome of my wife’s situation verses standing strong on the truth of what God’s Word says that was working on me!
Nevertheless, I endeavored to keep the Word ever before Piper and I throughout the day and had an enlightening experience just before I turned the light out.  It didn’t help that she had begun the day weaker than is usual but as we spoke the Word over her, she continued to gain strength until she was walking pretty steady after we turned off the TV and headed to bed.  Once tucked in for the night, I sat on the floor by her side and began to read from her healing scriptures confession sheet.  But it seemed that the Lord had a slightly different direction for us.  Suddenly my mind was filled with numerous scriptures that talk about the life that is in the Word.  The Apostle John seems to be consumed with this reality throughout his epistle beginning in John 1:4 saying that “In Him was life” (KJV)  In John 6:63 and 35 he tells us that Jesus gives life to the world while John 6:63 declares that His Word is life!  This truth continues to be visited in John 10:10 and 11:25.
The more I spoke out last night, the more excited I became!  Finally I just had to stop and raise my hands in praise and thanksgiving to God.  Then I understood why the Lord had led me to continuously speak out His Word over Piper both day and night!  I looked over to my wife who was resting her head comfortably on her pillow and exclaimed, “Do you realize how much of God’s life you have flowing in your body?  He has had us to saturate your entire being with His absolute fullness of life (the Greek meaning of His Zoë life).” Then I paused, giggled a little and continued saying: “And He is watching over all that Word and all that life that is in you to perform it in its due season!”
When you take Jeremiah 1:12 into context you discover that the Lord is saying that “nature is a parable of God’s workings.” (Cambridge bible for Schools and Colleges)  He is talking here about seed time and harvest.  In Ecclesiastics 3:2 we are told “to everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” (KJV) I could hardly contain myself last night as I understood the purpose of the planting of His Word into my wife and His “watching over my Word to perform it.” (KJV)  For when the different seasons that His Word in her comes to harvest, we will be ready and able to pick the fruit!  PRAISE THE LORD!
Isaiah 55:11 tells us that His Word NEVER goes void, “but shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” (KJV)  I tell you… when I finally did turn the light out last night, my heart was swooning in the Love of my Savior!  The way that things may look like when they are contrary to God’s Word must have little sway in the way I think, act, speak and believe. 
Last night the Lord reassured me of His commitment to my wife and I... and He desires to do the same with you today!  So reach out and grab hold of the truth of His Word.  Take that Word and saturate yourself with it!  Meditate on it day and night… and then wait and see His harvest time come into your life.
Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting to bring HARVEST TIME into my life today?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Open Mike


Years ago the Pastor that we were working under at the time decided to try something different during the Sunday Services.  Knowing that we had some very gifted individuals in our congregation and wanting to increase participation in the service, he had a live microphone placed in a stand at the base of the stairs leading up to the platform.  He explained that if someone in the congregation felt they had a word from the Lord at an appropriate time during the service that He wanted them to share with everyone, that they were to approach the head usher and inform him of their word and then take the mike and wait for the Pastor’s acknowledgement before they spoke it out.
This worked fine for a while until it became very apparent that the same one or two individuals would have a word every Sunday, and that their words (especially one of the two) did not always follow Paul’s guidance for prophetic utterance being “to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.” (I Corinthians 14:3 KJV)  Sometimes the words made no sense at all!  After talking privately to these individuals to no avail, the Pastor made another decision and quietly removed the mike thus ending the open mike process.
On Saturday the Lord reminded me of this example after sharing the revelation that He only watches over His Word to perform it as found in Jeremiah 1:12.  He had informed me that if He isn’t moved by words based on man’s reasoning than either should I.  He helped me to understand that the best way to not be affected by man’s words of reason was to not give them an open mike in my thoughts or with my mouth!  Just as the Pastor removed the open mike at the bottom of the stairs in order to stop the offending individuals and put an end to their opportunity to share words that came from their own reasoning and obviously not from God’ heart of encouragement, peace and love.
Papa God’s instructions to me made perfect sense as I pictured my frustration growing each time I rehearsed their words and my reaction to them over and over again in my head and talked about them to my wife!  It even made me laugh a little bit as I remembered a walk we took the other day when I was repeating some of these things over again to my wife when I suddenly stopped, thought about how she would have reacted to my repeated complaints a few years back and said to her. “You know… I bet you’re thinking that I just need to drop it and shut up, aren’t you!”  Ah… I should have listened to my own words!
I had a good friend tell me a few years ago that even though she is not able to freely communicate with me, Piper is still ministering to and talking to me in my heart!  If I had realized that during that walk, it would have saved me from self-inflicted harm!  But God got through to me anyway! 
What do you think about it?  Do you ever find yourself giving people’s negative words or actions an open mike into your life?  You know, their words don’t really affect them as much as the potential damage we can let them do to us.  They can only affect you if you speak them continually back into your life!  You and I have the ability to stop their power before they can gain any momentum by just letting them drop!  So turn off the mike!  Let go of that natural desire of wanting to give their negativity an audience.  Instead, give God’s Word the audience He desires.  When negative words and actions come forth against you, just walk up to the mike and speak out the words that really matter… His Words!
Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting to give an OPEN MIKE to today?”