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Fall is defintely in the air!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Who Do You Represent?


A few days ago I mentioned some things about my career with Hewlett Packard and their spin off Agilent Technologies.  I spent the majority of my tenure there in supervision in fabrication areas such the Printed Circuit Board prototype shop, the Semi-Ridged Cable shop, the Milling department and lastly in the Plating area.  After about eleven years I left the company to pursue some ministry related passions of mine and then returned about four years later.  In the early stages of each of my starts with the company I also worked as a silk screener and on a production line.
What was always interesting to me was the way that I was perceived when working with customers or venders.  It was not me that they saw, but the company I represented.  My education, training and experience was not in the technical aspects of the job but rather in the arena of personnel and business management.  I always worked closely with our programmers, engineers and technicians and depended on their expertise when dealing with part design and manufacturing, equipment problems and capabilities and in the purchase of new machinery. 
Whenever I or a team of us discussed work related subjects with others outside the company, the individual strengths and/or weaknesses of each of didn’t matter.  Individually or together we “were” Hewlett Packard/Agilent Technologies and spoke and acted for the company.  I remember a couple of large pieces of fabrication equipment that I was acting as the lead in the investigation and eventual purchase of.  One was a high-tech imaging system necessary for the production of PC Boards.  The other was a packaging machine for the protection of the delicate parts that needed to be sent out for plating from an outside vendor.
Both of these pieces of equipment cost many thousands of dollars.  Throughout the investigation process and concluding with the final price and service contract negotiations, the companies I worked with did not ever consider my personal financial status, or my background and character in the consummation of this project.  They knew that I was a bona-fide representative of Hewlett Packard/Agilent Technologies and understood that the company stood behind, supported and would fulfill all the actions and agreements of the finished deal.  I am sure that when I and or any member of our company walked in their door, they saw big money and opportunity and the prestige that would come with their ability to sell their equipment to one of the premiere electronics company in the world!
Jesus conferred this same idea when He spoke through Paul to the Corinthians in II Corinthians 2:14.  Here Paul spoke of our position as a representative of Jesus Christ by declaring: “Now thanks be unto God which (or who) always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.” (KJV)  Many of the commentaries tell us that this verse might also be rendered as “leadeth us in triumph.”  They reference the only other place in the New Testament where this word is used in Colossians 2:15 where it talks of how Jesus triumphed over the enemy of our souls and paraded him and his cohorts in a victory possession through the streets of hell!
II Corinthians 2:14 also declares that we carry the wonderful fragrance or sweet scent of the Kingdom of God with us everywhere we go!  When we step out our front doors each and every day, we represent and carry with us the backing, strength, resources and asset base of the victory that Jesus won for us through the cross, resurrection and His ascension to the right hand of the throne of Papa God!  It is actually FAR MORE than I ever carried with me as a member of the management team at HP/Agilent!  You and I represent the Kingdom of God on this earth!  WOW!
One of the important aspects of our position though, is that we always remember as Paul expressed to the Corinthians, that they see and act in the knowledge that “Jesus is the author of their victory: (that) he constructed the weapons (of our warfare), he instructed the soldiers, (and that) he inspired and gave effort to the strokes.” (The Pulpit Commentary)  In other words, even though He wants and will make a way for our eventual victory, we must always give the glory, honor and praise to Him!  Albert Barnes says that “Paul had no joy which was not connected with Christ, and he had no success which he did not trace to him.”
When I interacted with customers and vendors as an employee of HP/Agilent, I always stepped out with the clear understanding of who I represented and for whom I was conducting this business.  For I alone was but a very small cog in a big wheel.  But as a representative of one of the most successful and largest electronics companies in the world at that time, almost every door and amenity of the business I was pursuing at the time was opened up before me!  The same is true in our positions as representatives of Jesus Christ!
Does that make you think any different about yourself as a Christian?  It should!  Have a terrific weekend.  Stay in tune to God’s Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting to REPRESENT today?”

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Winter Storm Warning!


Yesterday turned out to be a pretty busy day.  By the time it came to prepare dinner I was bushed!  So I asked for the Lord’s help for the task ahead and began to sing some praise songs as I slugged through the process.  I actually cheated a little and had previously bought a frozen Chicken Alfredo dinner for the main course thinking that I might not be too excited about cooking that night.  After a while I had the broccoli cooking, Piper’s protein shake mixed, the pasta in the oven and the dog fed.  Then I looked forward to a few moments of quiet solitude to relax until the food was ready.
Suddenly out of the blue the phone rang… and I must confess, I was not a happy camper at that moment!  I looked up to my wife watching me in the kitchen and exclaimed, “Who would be calling at 6:00 pm just as we’re getting ready to eat?”  We had received a phone call late the night before as I was helping Piper get ready for bed from someone on the West Coast and for some reason I thought that it might be them calling again.
So I dramatically dragged my feet to the table where the phone was and had to repent as I noticed that it was our daughter calling!  Her cheerful “Hi Dad!” immediately cooled my jets and put a smile on my face.  She was at the store and was calling to see if Piper and I needed anything while she was there…
Throughout the day, the weather apps on our phones, the Raleigh TV stations as well as the different radio stations we listened to were broadcasting a special “Winter Storm Warning” going into effect from 6:00 that evening and lasting through noon today.  They were predicting snow showers and freezing rain throughout the night with an accumulation of 6-8 inches.  That’s quite a bit more than the last two fronts that came through.  With that warning in mind, my wife and I made a trip to the store around 1:00 in the afternoon to stock up on a few items.  We actually were okay except that we needed some more ice cream for Piper’s evening protein shakes.  But you know how it goes… we walked out of Target with a cart of stuff and a receipt for $166.00!
I shouldn’t have been, but I was somewhat surprised when we drove up to the store and observed that the parking lot was fairly full and once inside that many of the shelves were empty.  By the time Jamie got off of work and went to the Super Walmart near their home, she said the parking lot was absolutely jam packed!  We were on the phone while she circled the lot looking for a vacant parking spot!
I had to laugh a little as I was reminded, as we talked about the crowd, about last week’s episode of Marvel’s “Agent Carter” where the bad girl Russian Secret Agent had set off some poisonous gas in a crowded theater that caused everyone to go crazy and attack each other.  All I could do was to picture all the people in Walmart going crazy as they fought each other over the rapidly diminishing stock of supplies in the store!  I am happy to report that no such activity happened and my daughter text me after she had returned home to let me know that she had successfully completed her shopping without incident!
All of us rushing to the store in preparation of the coming storm got me to thinking about the store of God’s Word that we keep on hand for the various storms of life that come against each of us.  Matthew 6:20 tells us to “make a store for yourselves in heaven where it will not be turned to dust and where thieves do not come in to take it away.” (Bible in Basic English)  It is interesting to me that Strong’s explains one of the inferences of the word “heaven” in the Greek as referring to “specifically: the Gospel.”  So you could also say that the Lord was encouraging us to make a store of supply for us in God’s Word!
When I looked into shopper’s baskets yesterday I saw food items, candles, batteries and other emergency preparation supplies.  I wonder how many of those same folks had checked on and fortified the supply of God’s Word in their hearts in preparation for the forecasted severe weather?  I know that I did as I had to fight off concerns of “What if I need to get out?” or “Do I have enough of this or that?” and other such thoughts.  I made sure that we were well stocked with scriptures such as those found in Philippians 4:13, 18-19, II Timothy 1:7, John 14:27, II Corinthians 2:14 and made sure I included an extra supply of the joy promises in Nehemiah 8:10 and Proverbs 17:22.  And those supplies didn’t cost me anywhere near $166.00!
How well supplied are you for the storms that may or not be forecasted for your life?  Do you have a well provisioned store of God’s promises to handle any kind of physical, emotional or spiritual severe weather reports?  Well, NOW is the best time to build up your supply instead of having to fight the crowds and long lines when the storm hits!  Have a GREAT day.  Stay in tune to the weather reports in God’s Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or How am I expecting to prepare for any storms today?”

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Am I REALLY Hearing?


I mentioned in one of our posts last week the conference rooms that we used during my twenty years at Hewlett Packard/Agilent Technologies.  At one point during my tenure as a Process Supervisor in the Milling department, we were filling some vacancies within our management team and for quite a few months I had the majority of the machining team reporting directly to me.  Instead of the normal 8 – 10 employees, I had 36 machinists and fabricators under my direction and care.  This meant that I was writing three evaluations a month and spent many hours each week in employee conferences, one on one with my team.
As you can imagine, I spent a lot of time listening to my guys and gals!  I always strove to have a good relationship with each of my employees.  So in order to attain and maintain that status, I spent over half the shift (as much as possible) on the floor with the machinists shouting over the noise of their large CNC machines and at the work stations of the fabricators.  My desk was in an open cubicle in the middle of the shop which made for easy access for all of us.
For many years Hewlett Packard was known as a ground breaker and trend setter when it came to employee perks, working conditions, benefits and pay.  They were also very interested in the education and training of their management teams.  As a Supervisor I was constantly attending College level classes on all aspects of my job.  Many of these classes were held in-house in the above mentioned conference rooms while others were off-campus at local hotels or in or near the company headquarters in Palo Alto, California.  For a few years I had the pleasure of being a member of our in-house training team.
The company seemed to understand the need of good communication in order to succeed and stay on top of the market and offered a myriad of classes on this subject, many being mandatory to all employees.  Needless to say, over the years I attended countless classes and conferences on this subject.  I even taught a section of a two day employee introduction to the company class on communication.
Almost every class covered the importance of developing the use of “Active Listening Skills.”  Active Listening “involves listening with all the senses.  As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening – otherwise the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.” (http://www.skillsyouneed.com/ips/active-listening.html)  Most curriculums taught specific verbal and non-verbal skills to engage in a successful and productive conversation with another individual.  I won’t go into a discussion of those methods but if you’re interested check out the website listed above.
My people skills training and experience at the large electronics firm has helped me to communicate with people in all aspects of my life and has been especially helpful in ministry.  It has also been of great aid in my ability to “Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go…” (Proverbs 3:6 - The Message Bible)  I have come to learn that active listening skills are not only necessary in communicating with people on a daily basis but in my hearing Papa God as well!
I have always wanted to strive at assuring that I am accurately hearing those that I interact with so that I can best respond and/or minister to their needs.  In the same vain, I always strive to make sure that I am accurately hearing the voice of the Lord when He speaks to me be it by the small still voice inside of me, through His Word, through others or through the presence or lack of peace.  I know from 2 Timothy 1:7 that God does not speak to me through fear but through power, love and a sound mind.
When I actively listen in communication with God, I am assured that He is also actively listening to me.  The Spirit of God works in me to confirm Papa God’s attention and retention of our conversation.  I am sorry to report that I cannot always say the same thing when I converse with people.  Some of my most frustrating times over the last few years have occurred during heartfelt communication with family members who do not seem to take to heart anything that is being shared.  Many times the most recognition I have received back is a nod with minimal verbal acknowledgement of their understanding.  In fact, there have been numerous occasions when information came back to me at a later date through someone else, that was totally opposite or colored by the hearer’s personal rendition of what was originally meant.
This situation has caused me to be less forthcoming in my conversations with these individuals and I only now share what is requested and am very cautious about what information I volunteer.  This is sad in that it limits any growth in our continued relationship.  But at this point I feel that it is necessary in order to best protect and provide for my wife’s care (as well as for my own peace of mind!).
But you know… this is not the kind of relationship I want to have with people and especially not with God!  I desire open, loving and Godly interactions with Him and His people.  Don’t you?  I want to keep the door open to ministry and the love of God flowing in my life and theirs.  Have you ever accessed your communication skills with Papa God and those with whom you interact with on a regular basis?  How are your Active Listening Skills?  Are you REALLY hearing what God and man is saying to you?  Is what they are saying important to you?
I think that these are some good questions that we need to continually ask ourselves.  I have learned first-hand that it is more important to listen and really understand what you’re hearing way before you make a comment or judgment on what is being expressed!  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting to REALLY HEAR today?”

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Voices...


We awoke this morning to postcard picture of a winter wonderland outside of our windows.  The snow was floating down in large fluffy puffs and there was a thin layer of white on the lawn, trees and shrubbery.  It came as a surprise to me as my last minute check on the weather before I turned the lights out last night forecasted a cloudy but warmer day today.  After a few moments of concern due to an early afternoon doctor’s appointment I had made for today, I decided to simply trust the Lord and follow His leading.  When I stepped out front and checked on the parking area, it became clear to me that pushing Piper in her chair through the accumulated snow was not in the plans for today.  So I rescheduled my appointment for next week.
This area tends to be a lot like the Tulsa area when it snows… they shut down just about everything!  When I checked one of the local TV station websites soon after I got up, there were about 250 closures listed.  A couple hours later there were over 530.  Today’s snowfall is different from last week’s storm.  Last time it was a mixture of sleet and snow while today’s is the gentle drifting down of big white flakes which tends to bring up the traditional memories of Christmas or cozying up to a warm fire in the fireplace in the midst of a mid-western winter.  So, even though we don’t have a fireplace, I think that we will still stay warm and cozy in the house and watch the relaxing scenes playing outside our windows!
There was a point though, at the beginning of last weekend when I became aware that I was not too cozy.  I had been praying over a large project that we have been planning on under taking when I suddenly realized that I had absolutely no peace about it!  This may sound a little funny, but that realization of no peace gave me instant peace.  Huh? You say?  Well, let me explain…
Proverbs 3:5-6 in The Message Bible encourages us to “Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own.  Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.”  My revelation over the weekend reminded me of the fact that God’s voice can be heard in many different venues or ways.  One of the major ways that He tends to speak to my wife and I is through peace… either the presence or lack of it!
I believe the lack of peace that I realized on Saturday was Him telling us to put the brakes on any further progression of this project… at least for the time being, until He instructs us differently.  The frustration and apprehension I was feeling was the same as if the Lord Himself was standing in front of me having a verbal conversation with me!  Within the blinking of an eye, I had received the answer to the questions I had been asking Him.  It would seem that some of the things that I had shared with you in the blog last week came back to haunt me!
Remember when I mentioned how Colossians 3:15 instructs us to “let the peace of God rule in your hearts?” (MKJV)  When I received my revelation about my lack of peace, I felt like the Lord was saying: “Hey there, you’d best listen to what YOU said!”  And so I have!  Once again, it seems like our blog is not just for you, but for me as well!  Funny how the Lord works sometimes isn’t it!
As I continued to study about the voice of the Lord today I saw that we not only can hear the Lord’s voice through many different channels and ways, but also as much from what He doesn’t say!  The sudden realization of my lack of peace came just as strongly to me as Him speaking audibly to me. 
You may not have the opportunity to sit quietly in your home today as the snow falls outside and effectively shuts down your city, but you can make the opportunity to find a quiet place and LISTEN to what you hear… and maybe more importantly… to what you’re NOT hearing from the Lord this day!  Is there a pronounced silence of peace in you?  If so… what do you think that HE is trying to show you through it?  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What VOICE are you expecting to hear… or NOT hear today?”

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Spunk is Back...


I am glad to report that we made it through the adverse weather front that moved through our area last week!  My cell phone suddenly died on Friday so we had to venture out to the local ATT store to get a new one as I didn’t want to be without a phone!  The young man at the store who was born and raised here, told me that he had never seen it as cold as it had been.  The only difficulty we experienced was trying to get my wife and her chair around in the snow.  I quickly came to learn that accumulated snow and ice don’t mix real well with a wheel chair!
After manhandling her over and through the snow on the sidewalks a few times, I finally got my flat shovel and cleared the walkway from our door to the parking lot.  It was actually kind of fun… but I sure felt it the next day!  I have since talked to the maintenance folks and they assured me that they will make a point to keep our walkway free as much as possible.  Our building doesn’t get much sun in the front, so the snow and ice tend to stick around longer than the entrances to the other buildings.
Like I said though, all in all it was an interesting experience that was definitely different than what we were used to in northern California.  I am thankful that it doesn’t snow too much in our locale and I am sure that we’ll get used to it.  One night the temperature, when combined with the wind chill factor, got down to about -3 degrees.  During the day last Thursday we reached a high temperature of 17 degrees.  But we still got out for a few abbreviated walks.  I figure that since we are here that I’m not going to let the weather dictate what we can and cannot do!
I got a good laugh after the initial shock when we returned home from the Cell Phone shop.  I had stored up the trash from the previous few days since we couldn’t walk all the way across the complex to the trash compactor.  I had filled a couple of 13 gallon trash bags and was going to drop them off on the way to the ATT store but in my haste forgot to bring them.  So you guessed it…  Our happy helper dog helped herself to the delicacies inside one of the bags and spread its contents all around the front rooms!
I was in a good mood to begin with so I did not get too upset… but the dog sure made a beeline to the safety of the bedroom as soon as we walked in!  Since it is easier to back my wife’s chair in and out of the front door, she had her back to the scene before me.  Taking advantage of that situation, I began reciting an animated description of what “her dog” did and then dramatically spun her chair around so she could see for herself.  Piper’s reaction was priceless, especially when you consider that the Alzheimer’s has greatly reduced her vocal interactions.  She took one look at the mess and broke out into a big smile and simply, but with great expression uttered “Ah-Ha!”
It was so typical of the spontaneous old Piper that I practically fell on the floor and rolled over with laughter!  After that I couldn’t be upset anymore and spent the next half hour giggling while cleaning up the floor!
I think that our first reactions to the incidents of life have everything to do with the way we see our world around us!  The event with the dog on Friday really helped me to get back on track.  The crazy weather and the potential interruptions to our daily routine, combined with some rough mornings for my wife and not a lot of sleep for me, had done a number on my normally joyful and positive disposition.  Not that I was throwing in the towel or anything, but it all just made for some difficult skirmishes inside of me.
Piper’s light-hearted reaction to the pile of coffee grinds, torn napkins and other yucky things on the floor quickly brought me back to remembrance of how we have always lived our married lives together and handled the pressures that came along the way!  It reminded me of the countless times when things look like they were going to explode and she would flash her infectious grin and break into a chorus of “Praise, Praise, Praise, Praise the Lord !”
Many times I would grunt and groan in immediate response… but that would just encourage her to sing a little louder until I relented and with clinched teeth, join her in song.  Then within a matter of moments we would both be laughing and we’d join hands and walk forth into the throne room of Papa God in prayer.
Philippians 4:7-8 tells us that “if there be any praise think on these things.”  Those things being that which is true, honest, just, pure, lovely and of good report… in other words, think on what the Word of God says about what you’re going through!  Hebrews 13:15 talks about continually offering up “the sacrifice of praise…” (both references - KJV)  Over the years I have come to appreciate the inherent power behind the praise that comes from our lips… especially when we don’t feel like uttering praises!
One of my favorite scriptures that I confess over my wife multiple times a day from our tattered and well-worn pages of healing scriptures is from Job 33:24-25.  I have personalized it into a statement from Papa God to my wife declaring that “I have provided a ransom (or atonement) for you and therefore your flesh and in particular your brain and everything and anything that has anything to do with it, is in the process of becoming fresher than a child’s and you are returning as unto the healthy days of your youth.”  One night after speaking it out, I had the thought that if I could summarize my impression of Piper when I first met her as a 16 year old youth, how would I characterize her.  And without any hesitation I stated aloud: “Spunky!”  Then I heard the voice of the Lord speak to my heart saying, “Well Jim, the spunk is back and better!”
Well, that word from the Lord has since become an important part of our daily confessions and continues to be a spark to my faith.  Piper’s spunky reaction to the mess the dog made confirmed and strengthen my resolve and refocused ALL my attention back onto Papa God and the truth of His Word.  Suddenly everything came clearly back into focus and without a doubt we had something to PRAISE Him about… even though all we could see was trash spread from the kitchen table to the couch in the living room!
What we saw didn’t matter anymore.  It was more important that we took more stock in the truth of the matter as described in God’s infallible Word and not in the distressful scene before us!  So join the “Spunk” and find yourself rejoicing today!  Let Piper’s spontaneous “Ah Ha!” be the igniter of spontaneous praise emanating from your lips!  Then you’ll have a great week and stay in tune to God’s Word… and through it all – don’t forget to keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Friday, February 20, 2015

Knowing Ahead of Time...


As I read from Matthew 6:8 this morning I was drawn back in my mind’s eye to the various conference rooms and the meetings that I attended in those rooms at Agilent Technologies.  As a member of the management team in the Fabrication area of our division, it seemed many times, that at least half of my days were spent in meetings covering a variety of subjects including our weekly staff time, production scheduling, engineering problems, employee conferences, discussing performance issues and team building activities.
For many years I worked directly under a Production Manager who was both well liked and yet in some respects, feared by the workers on the floor.  He was a good manager with a type A personality.  Since we worked close together on a daily basis, I got to know him pretty well.  I therefore had developed a good understanding of how and how not to approach him when discussing work related issues.
In Matthew 6:8 Jesus taught His followers to “not be like them (the Gentiles or unbelievers) for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”  In the previous verse He had described the Gentiles petitions as “empty phrases.” (Matthew 6:7-8 English Standard Version)  It was the idea of the Father knowing what we need before we ask Him that brought me back to my Hewlett Packard/Agilent Technology days that originally began in 1980.  I had many opportunities to cringe (and sometimes laugh inside!) during those meetings in the conference rooms that lined the production floor as unsuspecting participants would comment or converse to my boss in such a way that I KNEW was going to set him off!
You see, I knew him.  Over my time as a Production Supervisor I had learned (sometimes the hard way…) how to discuss matters with him in a way that was mutually accepting and beneficial to both of us!  I understood what information he needed and the best way (short and succinct) to present my reasoning’s and documentation so that he could digest and make a decision on it.  In other words, there was the right way and a wrong way to discuss important matters with him.
Some of this has to do with knowing how to interact with different personality types in general, but much of it has to do with spending time with the individual in various situations in order to understand how they think and respond.  This information is very helpful to all parties concerned.  It saves time, steady’s emotions, keeps the discussion on track and is the best way to come to a speedy resolution that best meets the needs of the situation.
I think that you can say the same thing about our taking the time to get to know and then stay in touch with Papa God.  Jesus said that He knows what we need before we even ask and I think that we could say the same thing about us when we go to Him in prayer.  Many times a strong, close, up-to-date relationship will most likely insure that we would have a pretty good idea of what Papa God is going to say before we ask Him! 
Like I mentioned yesterday, a successful relationship takes the active effort and participation of both parties to make it work.  Matthew 6:8 threw me for many years.  Every time I read it I would think “so why do we need to pray at all if He already knows what I’m gonna ask?”  I finally came to understand it from the relationship point of view and our being so close to each other that we can practically read each other’s minds!  Just like I knew how my boss was going to react when asked certain extraneous questions or presented with ideas void of any documented proof.
Even though I may know my wife like the back of my hand, I still need to ask her advice and input in order to best work as a team and accurately develop the projects in life that we work on together.  Papa God WANTS to hear from us.  He WANTS to know how we are doing.  He WANTS to personally and intimately interact with us in our life and the best way to do that is to spend time with each other in His Word, in prayer, in praise and in loving others.
Have you ever wondered if Papa God ever cringes when you talk with Him… or are you assured that your relationship with Him is active and intimate enough so that you know how He’s going to reply even before you say what you had in mind?  Think about it this weekend… and then just spend some time with Him alone to discuss your findings!  Have a great weekend.  Stay in tune to Him and His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting to spend time with today?”

Thursday, February 19, 2015

It Takes Two to Tango!


As I glance out the back windows this morning, our outdoor thermometer on the patio reads about 16 degrees.  A quick look at my weather app tells me that with the 14 mph winds and subsequent wind chill factor, the temperature actually feels like 3 degrees!  A wee bit cold wouldn’t you agree?  I do have to say though, that when I stepped out an hour or so ago with the dog that it did not feel all that uncomfortable.  It was actually quite invigorating!
The unusual cold outside got me to thinking about how relationships can also grow cold if they are not continually nurtured.  My wife and I have both experienced this with friends over the years.  I had a couple of close friends in elementary school.  The three of us were inseparable until I went to the public junior high where my Dad taught and then on to the local high school where I met Piper.  My friends stayed in Parochial schools through high school.  While one of my buddies was a neighbor which afforded us to keep in contact with each other, my relationship with the other eventually became almost non-existent!
My wife also had a couple of close friends, one from school and the other from church.  Their friendships stayed strong until Piper lovingly sought to give them some biblical council that they did not want to hear.  From that point on their relationships were cordial but strained.  I remember that their reaction to Piper’s concern for them was really tough on her to the point that she cried over the situation.  My feisty Grandmother used to say, “It takes two to tango” and you know, the same could be said for relationships. It takes both parties to keep a successful relationship going strong. 
Jesus instructed us to pray to Papa God saying: “Let your kingdom come.  Let your will be done on earth as it is done in heaven.”  It would seem to me that in order to pray His will you have to know what His will is… right?  And how do you get to know the will of anyone… by maintaining a deep and close relationship with them!  Here again we see that Jesus was talking about the necessity of us having a close, personal relationship with the Father!
Jesus also made it pretty clear that the way to get to know the Father was to listen to and watch Him.  I quickly counted at least twelve scriptures in the Gospels where Jesus flat out told us that He only spoke and did the Father’s will.  A good example of this is found in John 8:28 when Jesus told His disciples that “I do nothing of myself; but (only) as my Father hath taught me…” (KJV)  Previous to this statement Jesus said “If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also.” (John 8:19 KJV)
I’ve heard it taught and agree with the statement that “Jesus was the express will of the Father.”  When we spend time with Jesus in His Word, we are getting to know the will of our Papa God!  Then we are able to obey the Master and can pray that which we know is of Him into our lives!  Sounds pretty simple doesn’t it!  Whoever said that the Message of Jesus Christ was difficult?  It is all about developing and maintaining an ever-increasing intimate relationship with the Son of God!
I’ve told about how I could not get enough of talking with Piper during our dating and courtship.  We’d talk all day at school and then spend half the night – EVERY NIGHT – on the phone with each other.  Come to think of it… we continued doing that after we were married as well.  Back in the early 2000’s I blew the budget on my first cell phone because I would spend the major part of my lunch hour at work talking to Piper on the phone.  Now it is kind of one-sided but I still spend most of the day talking to her!  Some things never change!
And that is something that I don’t want to change in my relationship with Papa God as well!  What are your thoughts on the matter?  How much time do you spend on your spiritual phone with Him?  The cool thing is that we have an unlimited minutes plan with Him!  So give it a try!  Give Him a call and don’t hang-up!  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Will and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting to stay connected to today?”

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

It's ALL about WHO you Know!


I was musing the other day over all the possibilities, questions and ideas that I have been mulling over concerning the purchase of a house here in our new home state.  After a few moments I turned to my wife and shared how I really longed for her input on the matter.  This part of our plan has been the only thing that has somewhat stumped me since our move.  I think that this has to do with the large financial commitment that it would entail and its implications to our retirement nest egg.
It is a big decision that I don’t care to make on my own!  When we shopped for our first home back in the mid-eighties it was all about Piper and I.  We did it all together, hand in hand, heart to heart.  We didn’t take one step without intense conversation between the two of us.  I also realized as I dwelt on this new adventure in faith, that I was more than a little tired of having to make ALL the decisions for our life over these past few years by myself. 
Of course I realize that Papa God has been with me the WHOLE time and in that respect I have and will never be alone… but I think you understand what I am saying here!  I sorely miss the interactions and oneness of everything Piper and I have always done together since the day we became an “item” in High School!
A funny thing happened though, right after I made my statement to Piper.  It was almost as though someone threw a glass of cold water on my face.  I instantly had the understanding that I DO KNOW exactly what she would say in the midst of all the decisions that need to be made!  The Lord spoke to my heart and reminded me that I intimately KNOW Piper better than anyone else on this earth!  I KNOW what makes her tick!  Most times I KNOW what she is thinking and I KNOW what she would say and the decisions she would unquestionable make in most situations. For I KNOW her heart.  And I KNOW the firm foundation that has directed her since she accepted the Lord when she walked the aisle, answering the call of Christ as an eight year old.
Suddenly I had a peace that overcame all my anxieties about the new home purchase.  At that moment I recalled the various steps that we had taken during the first couple of years after the initial diagnosis of the changes that we were observing in Piper.  Every time I explained a new decision to her folks they would ask: “What does Piper think about that?” or “Does Piper know about this?”  And each time I would pause, take a deep breath and say without a doubt, “Of course” and then go on to explain how I KNEW.”
Prior to my study on “The Lord’s Prayer” in Matthew 6:9-13, I had been studying Jesus’ prayers in Mark 14 to Papa God in the place called Gethsemane on the night of His betrayal and arrest which led to the cross.  His emotional and intensely personal cry to His Father in verse 36 is what reminded me of the prayer He had taught His disciples to pray in Matthew.  In the garden that night, Jesus demonstrated what He was trying to convey to His followers.  At the point of His deepest need, He relied on His deep and intimate personal relationship with His Papa God.
In the midst of everything that He was to face that night and next day, He emphatically cried out “Abba! Father!”  He KNEW what was ahead.  He KNEW exactly what He needed to do to complete the Father’s plan for man’s salvation AND He intimately KNEW His Daddy and how He would help Him through it all!
I had a good friend tell me a while back that even though my wife is not very vocal right now, that it was special to see that she is still talking to me through her heart to mine!  I think that this is also a good example of how our intimate KNOWLEDGE of Papa God and His Word talks to us as well.
How intimately do you KNOW the heart of God?  Would you KNOW what He would say concerning the daily decisions you face even when you might not be able to hear His voice?  The Lord made it clear to me that I am still making our daily decisions in agreement with Piper because I KNOW her. 
I hope that I can always say the same thing when it comes to my relationship with Papa God!  Have a wonderful day.  Yesterday’s snow made it difficult to push Piper’s wheelchair through the accumulation of the white stuff on the sidewalks around our home, but I believe the Lord showed me that if I can at least muscle her down the walkway to the parking lot, then I could walk her around it where the snow has melted.  Then I can get to our garage on the other side of the complex and get my flat shovel!  See, He knew my heart’s desire and told me of a way to fulfill it!
Stay in tune to God’s Word and to His voice, and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting to KNOW today?”

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Snow and Prayer...


It was kind of funny late yesterday afternoon as I was talking to my son in California.  He was at work outside on the tarmac at the Sacramento International Airport.  Just as he was telling me that he had accidently left his cap in his locker and was concerned about burning the top of his head as it was in the mid-seventies at the time, I looked outside our back windows and noticed that it had begun to sleet and then snow on our side of the country!  And that it did for most of the evening and morning hours up until about 7:00 AM today.
We woke up to about an inch of snow covering the parking lot and roofs of our apartment community.  For a California boy, it was an exhilarating experience!  Once again it reminded me of my time at the Home Depot in Oklahoma.  Because of my school attendance and unavailability to work during the morning hours, I had to be listed on the books as a part-time employee according to the company’s policies.  The store manager at the time was very willing to work with me though, and told me that she would always try to schedule me for forty hours each week, even if it meant moving me anywhere in the store as required.
So come the first snow storm of the year, I found myself out in the parking lot collecting carts!  After about an hour of that it suddenly dawned on me why many of my co-workers were snickering every time I came in with a row of carts.  They figured that since I was the California boy, that I wouldn’t know any better than to stay out of the cold, wet, slippery weather while they were in the warm comfortable store!  And they were right… but it was all new and exciting to me at the time so I didn’t mind the cold! 
The only time it bothered me was one night after the store had closed and I was left outside in the icy cold, snowy and windy night waiting for Piper to come and pick me up!  I finally found some protection from the wind behind the bundles of firewood that we had stacked near the entrance doors!  I was never so happy to see her and that big green Suburban as I was that night… even though it had more to do with the warm seats and the heater than with her company!  (Don’t tell her I said that!)
Back to Josh in California…  In some respects I think that our relationship has improved since we returned from Oklahoma.  Not that it was bad before, but the situation with Piper has made me a lot more introspective and open, whereas before I tended to keep things inside!
I considered my son’s and my relationship today as I continued to read from Matthew chapter six concerning what most Christians have dubbed as “The Lord’s Prayer.”  I realized as I meditated on the prayer that this was probably the first real scripture that I memorized in my childhood.  It was a prayer that we recited aloud every Sunday at church during the liturgy of the Mass and whenever I prayed the Rosary (which wasn’t that often!)
Over the years since then, I have heard many diverse teachings on this prayer.  In the late 1980’s I began to use Dr. Larry Lea’s guide for praying The Lord’s Prayer as a guide for my daily intercessions with the Lord.  If I remember correctly, this guide laid out a specific outline so that one could easily pray (or tarry as he stated) for an hour a day.  Up until that time I had never been able to pray that long and his guide helped me to attain a breakthrough in my prayer life.
As I was reading the prayer beginning with Matthew 6:9 yesteray, I began to gain a personal understanding that Jesus was implying that this prayer has more to do with our relationship with Papa God than it does in teaching a specific form of prayer.  In the verses previous to the prayer we find Him talking about the way that the non-believers prayed, tagging their repetitive use of words as “empty phrases.” (English Standard Version)  Then He contrasts their distant non-personal approach to God to our intimate personal relational interactions by encouraging us to address Him as “Our Father…”
I hope to share more on this thought over the week, but for now I would encourage you to take a few moments today and take a look at the depth of your relationship with Papa God.  Are you comfortable at being yourself around Him?  Are you bluntly honest with Him when you converse with Him, or do you tend to speak in “Thee’s” and “Thou’s?”
I still remember the first time I heard my Episcopalian brother-in-law pray over a meal at our house after he and my sister were married in the early 1970’s.  He did not simply recite a prayer – like we good Catholics had always done- but he spoke to God like He was in normal conversation with Him!  If I had dared to sneak a peek at the other family members seated around my folk’s large dining room table, I am sure that I would have seen many an arched eyebrow!  But you know… it forever changed the way we prayed over our meals!  Suddenly we were free to talk to God as a father and friend, and not through rout words simply repeated before we ate!
How do you pray?  How do you interact with our Papa God?  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or How am I expecting to pray today?”

Monday, February 16, 2015

Winter Mix!


It looks like we are in for a wild ride over the next few weeks here in North Carolina… weather wise that is!  I am coming to learn that the area in which we live is situated in a somewhat of a unique position among the eastern states here in the USA.  At least it seems that way to me.  From what we have experienced so far in the nine months that we have been here, most of the major weather fronts have bypassed us during the summer, fall and winter months. 
For the next few weeks though, it finally looks like some of that weather is about to catch up with us!  There is a forecast of snow for this afternoon and evening with the temperatures falling after that.  By Thursday we are supposed to have clear skies but temperatures ranging from a high of 19 degrees to a low of 1 degree!  The following week looks to be a period of what is commonly called a “winter mix” of rain, snow and ice.
I think it will actually be a little exciting!  The weather out here has been nothing as extreme as we faced in Oklahoma, so I think we are mentally and physically prepared!  The cars are gassed up, the refrigerator is full and our heavy clothing has been moved out to the front of the closet!
I think how one weathers the upcoming storm as well as any storm in life has a lot to do with their attitude and confession!  When we moved to Oklahoma I was well aware of people’s comments concerning the “wind in the winter that seems to blow right through you” and the “miserable heat and humidity of the summer.”  But you know what?  I decided well before we ever hopped in the Suburban and headed east, that I was never going to complain about the weather… in fact, months before we left, I began to confess that I was going to enjoy it…  and for the most part I did!
When I began my new job at the South Tulsa Home Depot, I even opted to work the outside Garden Department as much as I could.  Sure it was hot and sweaty and I would come home soaked down to my underwear, but I enjoyed it!  It was a little harder working outside in the twelve degree snowy and icy weather as we prepared the outside Garden area for the arrival of the Christmas trees and following that for the spring plants, but a long time ago I came to understand the power of a smile and a cheery disposition!
I’m sure I told you of the one truck of Christmas trees that arrived in the snow from its origins in Washington state.  None of the younger kids in the store wanted to go out into the cold, so I and the other fifty-some-year-old team member within the Garden Department volunteered for the job!  I don’t know how many hours we spent in the back of that cold truck with the trees frozen to the bed of the trailer, but we had a blast and when I got home I laughed even harder at the look on my wife’s face as she stood speechless at the sight of me and my once brown Dockers that were covered in mud and all kinds of other green and sappy yuck!
In the book of Nehemiah the Levites entreated the people to stop crying over the destruction of Jerusalem (whose walls they were attempting to rebuild) and encouraged them to not be full of complaining and sorrow for “the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10 KJV)  I believe that this is also the best advice for us to follow any time any storm in life comes upon us.  That response of joy means that you are trusting in the Lord.  Pastor James also taught his congregation this same lesson at the beginning of the book of James.
I realize that this may not always be easy to do, especially when every nerve in your body is screaming something else!  But with practice it gets easier each time!  And after a while it becomes a little funny to see the look on other people’s faces when they see you responding to tough situations with joy instead of anxiety or anger!  I have also found out that I think clearer when I am joyful than when I am full of worry.
So whatever the weather of your life is today, I would strongly encourage you to rejoice and be glad!  Don’t complain, but put your trust into the Lord’s abilities and before you know it, you’ll be steadfastly enduring and just maybe enjoying the “winter mix!”  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to God’s Word and keep asking yourself… “What or Who’s REPORT am I expecting to REJOICE over today?”

Friday, February 13, 2015

I Could Have Danced All Night!


My wife had a very active night last night.  Let’s just say that when one situation was brought to a peaceful conclusion, another one popped up.  I also must admit that after a while these activities began to play with my emotions and my “sound mind” that the Apostle Paul instructed Believers to have in operation in their lives according to II Timothy 1:7.  In this verse of scripture the evangelist encourages his favorite student saying that “God hasn’t given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (NKJV)
The final straw came about four in the morning after I snuggled back under the covers for at least the fourth time in the last two hours and was just about to doze off when Piper started shifting around on her side of the bed.  It seemed like every time I started to fall asleep that she would suddenly move her legs into another position.  After a few minutes of this, I figured that I’d best check on her to make sure that part of her wasn’t hanging out of the bed.  (This has happened before and a couple of times she actually tumbled from the bed!)
So, I sat up in bed, felt for her legs and sure enough, they were dangling off the side.  I usually place a guard up against her side of the bed to inhibit this, but I had forgotten about it when we had originally gone to bed many hours before.  Well, that just about did it and I was not a happy camper at that moment as I flung off the covers, slid off the mattress and stepped on the dog who was stretched out on the floor right next to my side of the bed.  If I wasn’t upset it probably would have been quite funny as I sort of hopped away from her and almost fell head long into the door frame!
Self-control was not the first thing on my mind at that point!  But something instantly clicked inside of me and I grabbed the door frame and just stood there for a few moments until I calmed down.  And you know what was the first thing that came to my mind?  You guessed it… II Timothy 1:7.  In that brief passing of time I realized that something or someone was trying to drive my actions by the potential fear of my wife getting worse instead of better and by my tired anxiety over not getting enough sleep.
Eventually I made my way over to my wife’s side, moved her feet back into a comfortable place under the covers and then just stood there thinking for a few moments.  As I took a mental inventory of my feelings, the thought came to me that I might be angry with her!  That very idea came as a shock but immediately called my attention to the perpetrator of that reaction.  Right then and there I had to laugh for you remember that the Word tells us that “A merry heart does good like a medicine!” (Proverbs 17:22 MKJV)
And that dosage of laughter at 4:17 in the morning worked for me!  In the shadow of the moon peeking through our blinds, I recalled that love has been the driving force for everything I have tried to do for my wife.  From quitting my outside job so that I could be by her side 24/7, with all the research I have done concerning Alzheimer’s over the years since that time, all the visits, phone calls and emails to the countless doctors, investigating and retaining applicable benefits for her, phone calls and meetings with lawyers, taking the unwarranted accusations of some who have made false statements concerning my intents and character and shielding her from the negativism and abandonment of others.
Even though it was a very tough night, I was not going to give the enemy of our souls one inch!  In my way of biblical understanding, he is the one who is the cause of this disease.  She is the victim.  She is NOT the one to be upset with, he is!  In John 10:10 Jesus clearly tells us that the devil is a thief and that “the “thief does not come but to steal, and to kill and to destroy…” (MKJV)  Then the Savior spoke to my heart and whispered the secret conclusion of our faith in Him and His Word, as I stood in the moon-lit shadows by her bedside concluding that verse saying, “but I have come so that you two might have life, and that you might have it more abundantly!”
With that understanding, I straightened my shoulders, walked back around the bed, carefully tip-toed around the dog after taking a moment to pet her, and then returned to the warmth of the covers.  I stared at the ceiling for a moment and then dozed off into a deep, dreamy and uneventful continuance of the morning’s sleep.  The next thing I knew, it was almost 8:00 AM and it was time to get up!
Now as we sit here at the kitchen table looking out the living room windows to the bright but cold morning outside, I am reminded of Peter’s words in Acts 10:34 when he declared: “Truly I see that God is no respecter of persons.” (MKJV)  In my way of thinking, if Papa God can afford this kind of victory over a tumultuous night like I had last evening, He can and will do the same for you!  Are you facing or right smack in the middle of some tough times?  Well, look to Him and His Word for the abundant life and victory that He has for you! Then hang on tight and ride it though until you win!  Have a great weekend.  Stay actively in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Whose WORD am I expecting today?”

 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Stagecoach


My wife and I watched one of our favorite movie westerns this last weekend.  A few weeks ago I was perusing through the Turner Classic Movies TV schedule and had spotted and eagerly recorded “She Wore A Yellow Ribbon” knowing that we would want to watch it again.  Well, Friday turned out to be the right night and we sat back in anticipation of the classic tale of Cavalry versus Indians, young romance and the coming of age on one hand and having to deal with the onset of older age and retirement on the other.
I told my wife as we were watching the flick that I thought that I liked this movie because of all the pageantry of frontier military life, the beauty captured by its cinematography of the Monument Valley along the Arizona-Utah state border (the movie won the Academy Award for Best Cinematography in 1950), and the dramatic action scenes involving the horses, the weapon technology of the mid-eighteen hundreds and the personal sense of what it was like to live at that time under those adverse conditions.
There is one scene at the beginning of the movie that always captures my attention and immediately draws me into the movie.  It is when you see a stagecoach pulled by a large team of horses racing at full steam across the desert floor.  To me that scene is breathtaking!  To see the unbraided power and beauty of the horses at full gallop, the stagecoach wildly bouncing on the arid terrain and to feel the tension, but yet excitement that fills the air!  The only problem is that the stage has no driver! 
Then a Calvary patrol appears over the horizon and they orderly dispatch two fast riders to chase down and stop the stage.  The camera focuses in on the two riders as they race their steeds toward the out of control stage (and I turned to Piper and asked if she ever rode her horse that fast and then giggle a knowing laugh because her horse was actually kind of lazy… in fact, that‘s why I would ride her… I felt safe on her!).  Finally the anticipation is ended and the soldiers come up on either side of the team of horses and control them.
My continued study of II Timothy 1:7 this morning caused me to picture all the power of that team of horses racing across the desert and the driverless stage they were pulling.  This scripture informs us that “God did not give us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (MKJV)  My focus today was on the function of God’s love in the middle of power and a sound mind.  John Wesley stated concerning this verse that “Power and soundness of mind are two good extremes.  Love is between the tie and the temperament of both; preventing the two extremes of fearfulness and rashness.”  The Albert Barnes Commentary says “The tendency of this (love)… is to cast out fear (I John 4:18), and to make the mind bold and constant.”
The Apostle Paul seems to be making the point that Godly love working in us is the moderator of our use of God’s power and the activation of a sound mind.  The Greek word for “power” is “dunamis” from which I understand is where we get our English word “dynamite.”  It literally means “a miraculous force.”  A “sound mind” is defined as “discipline or self-control.”  It could also be thought of as our capability to think through things with a disciplined, well thought out, moderate and educated intellect.
And in the middle we have love!  In some respects you could almost say that power and self-control are opposites.  In the church world we see these exhibited in some camps through signs, wonders and miraculous demonstrations of God’s healing, deliverance, prophesy and the other supernatural gifts of the Spirit and through others by the belief and practice that all the miraculous gifts and offices were done away with at the passing of the last of the New Testament Apostles. 
My wife and I have been in churches at either end of this spectrum.  One where the supernatural miraculous power of God was highly anticipated, focused on, regularly taught, expected, prized and consistently demonstrated and at another where there was no expectation, little talk, much less any teaching on the supernatural power and gifts of the Holy Spirit and where a very intellectual and “practical,” evangelical approach and interpretation of the scriptures was pursued.
After a while it became apparent to us that each of these extremes were uncomfortable to us.  One fellowship left us with a definite sense of emptiness amidst the seemingly one-sided focus into the deep exploration of the supernatural moves of God, while at the other we felt like we were starving as entire portions of the scriptures were being passed over.  We felt that one church was heavy on the “power” side of II Timothy 1:7 while the other was heavy on the “sound mind” side!
In each case they seemed to be similarities to that driverless stage coach and team of horses racing wildly across the desert!  In that example, love would be the driver that controls and directs the power and effort of the team of horses.  There is another early John Wayne film in which he really emerged as a star called “Stagecoach.”  Toward the end of this movie there is another racing stagecoach scene.  But this time the coach has an experienced driver controlling the stage and its team as it sprints across the desert while being chased by a band of renegade Indians.
It is also a magnificent scene as the driver is encouraging the team to run faster and stronger while the occupants of the stage including a sheriff, his prisoner, the drunken doctor and the “gentleman” of questionable repute band together as a team to fight off the approaching enemy.  It is a coordinated effort that is not only exciting to watch, but works for the safety of the passengers when combined with the last minute arrival of the US Calvary who dispatch the marauding Indians…  as compared to the other movie where the passenger in the stage is found dead with an arrow protruding from his chest!
Wow!  This post is getting long!  I’d better get to my point…  The Apostle Paul is teaching his young protégé as well as each of us today, that God’s love actively working in us, is to be the characteristic and force that controls the power and self-control that His Spirit gives to each of us.  Without the moderation of love, we can easily fall into the extremes of either side of the heavenly equation Papa God has given us as a tool for our daily Christian walk.
Now, I know that you may be thinking that we are supposed to be extreme for Jesus, and I agree!  But yet, I believe that Paul is cautioning us to temperate it with the love of God toward those in our world around us.  Power and/or self-control unbridled can become a bit of a danger to us and therefore to those we interact with… Just as a stagecoach being rapidly pulled by a powerful but yet undirected team of beautiful horses can easily go off track and end up in catastrophe for its passengers!
When in doubt, let God’s love have its way!  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What or Who’s LOVE am I expecting to direct my way today?”

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Do Our Opinions Matter?


When I tip-toed into to our bedroom this morning to help my wife up for the day, I sat down on the floor by her side and just spent some time simply looking at her peaceful, slumbering face resting upon her pillow.  From there my eyes wandered up and across the room to three pictures of her that I had hung on the wall.  One photo was taken when she was 21 when we were at a park a couple months before our wedding.  Another picture that is wedged between the two door frames in the room was recorded a few months after our wedding as Piper was reading in our little (old-funky) apartment.  And the final shot was taken of Piper standing in the kitchen of our house that we lived in before we moved to Oklahoma.  At that time she was in her late forties.
While lost in thought of all the fun times that we have had over the years of our relationship, my attention was broken by the sudden awareness of the bright glare of the sun upon the glass in the frames as it escaped through the slits on the blinds behind me on the large bedroom window.  At that moment I sat back on my hunches and smiled as the Lord brought to a climax what He had been showing me a few moments previous to this event while studying His Word.
Earlier in the morning as I had sat down to my computer bible study program with a hot cup of Starbucks Home Blend coffee, my attention was immediately drawn to the side bar which opened up to the commentary of Jamieson, Fausset and Brown concerning II Timothy 1:7 and the phrase “a sound mind.”  The authors stated that “The Greek is rather ‘the bringing of men to a sound mind.’”  That comment opened up another whole line of thought for me concerning that verse.  Not only was Paul teaching the young Pastor Timothy that the Holy Spirit would give him a sound mind, but he was also implying that he would be enabled to bring a sound mind to those he taught.
From there I turned to the Bible displaying II Timothy chapter one on the left side of the page and read down to the end of the chapter in order to find out how this would be accomplished.  Verses 12 through 14 make it very clear that the Apostle was talking about “the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me…”  Paul was proclaiming that the teaching of the Word of God, the Good News of the gospel of Jesus Christ was the means of which to give men a sound mind!
The Easy-to-Read translation of II Timothy 1:14 says “This teaching is a treasure that you have been trusted with.  Protect it with the help of the Holy Spirit, who lives inside us.”  It would seem that the Word of God is so powerful, so true and so special that we must keep a watch on it as to protect its ability to work in and through us!  The Word is the power of God to recreate a person’s heart and renew his or her mind and body as well as change any circumstance that they may face.  As I meditated on this, I recalled Moses’ and Joshua’s words of encouragement to the children of Israel as they entered the Promised Land.  Both of these leaders of the faith implored their followers to “choose this day whom you will serve.”  (Joshua 24:15 – God’s Word ©) They were asking them to make a decision for either the gods and/or the natural ways of their ancestors or of those of the one true God.
That decision brought me back to our Pastoral Counseling classes in Bible College where I learned of the “OW!” technique of helping others with problem solving.  The letters represent “Options” and “The Word.”  The system is easy, you simply sit down with the individual seeking guidance and get the facts, look at the various OPTIONS and then give them the WORD that has to do with the situation and the OPTIONS available.  The point being that THE WORD is the power of God to intervene and change the situation and/or meet the need.
In our recent experiences, we came in contact with many individuals, Christian and not, who were very quick to give us their personal opinions but were not too interested or supportive of our desires to seek and follow the WORD’s answers.   Their personal opinions did nothing to relieve the situation, comfort our hurting hearts and emotions and leave us with any Biblical expectations. 
I recently read of an FDA investigation into reports that some common herbal and vitamin natural remedies on sale today contain only traceable amounts of the stated ingredients.  Instead they are filled with fillers like rice, wheat, soy and in some instances included harmful nuts and plants that caused dangerous allergic reactions. (http://www.forbes.com/sites/emilywillingham/2013/11/07/study-herbal-supplements-full-of-contaminants-substitutes-and-fillers/)   My thoughts alluded to this study as I came to the conclusion that our personal opinions of what we think people may need are like nutrition less fillers (that can sometimes be harmful) instead of the nourishing life-giving, life-changing power that only the Word of God can give!
Like I said, the Word and the Word alone is what gives us biblical expectations of God doing in, for and through us.  It is the power that gives us the ability to get up each day even when it’s dark and dreary outside and/or dark and dreary in the current circumstances of our lives.  That brings me back to this morning with my wife in our bedroom.
When I realized that the sun was brightly reflecting off the three pictures, I glanced back to my wife asleep in the bed and observed that the sun’s bright and warm rays were also shining down on her and I immediately thought of our personalized version of Malachi 4:2 that I confess numerous times daily over my wife.  And I heard the Lord saying: “Piper, know that I the Son of Righteousness has arisen this day with healing in my wings, burning off that fog of confusion and sickness that has clouded your mind and you are like the calf that is let out of the stall and are going out leaping, jumping and dancing for joy!”
Now folks, those words and the picture they painted in my heart and mind were just what I needed to brighten up my morning!  It didn’t matter that we’ve been going through some tougher times over the last few weeks with some of her symptoms.  The only thing that mattered is God’s truth about her!  That’s encouragement!  I’ll be perfectly honest.  I really don’t want to hear people’s opinions about my wife’s situation anymore!  I only want to hear… no… I only NEED to hear Papa God’s Word which is His WILL concerning Piper’s outcome!
I think that this is also some good advice for each of us to think about as we open our mouths to share something to another person in need.  Are we going to give them some nutrition less filler (or opinions) or the life-giving, life changing power of God’s Word?  I think that I’ll make my opinion to be a re-statement of His Word!  Have a great mid-week!  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… What or Who’s OPINION am I expecting to share today?”