Our New Home

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

Friday, June 24, 2016

In the HEAT of the Day!



Along with the first day of summer occurring at the beginning of this week is the warmer summer weather that my wife and I are slowly becoming accustomed to.  For the last few days the temperatures have been hovering between 78 and 87 degrees.  Now that may not seem like hot to you… but it was to us because that’s how warm it was inside our home! 

For the last two weeks we have been dealing with an air conditioner that has not been holding, much less reaching the set temperature.  It has been frustrating in some respects because we have been working with the warranty that came with the house and the process that must be followed.  Well, the first A/C company came out, quickly checked the unit outside our bedroom and recharged the refrigerant… which lasted about one week before the problem resurfaced.  The second company the warranty folks sent out was much more thorough and not only checked the A/C unit outside but also spent time under the house examining the rest of the equipment there.  

He declared that the evaporation coil was leaking and would need replacing.  From there he needed to turn in his ticket to the office where they would send the report to the warranty company.  I am not sure what happened here, but after numerous calls to the warranty company and the A/C business in which I stressed the need for a quick fix due to Piper’s difficulty in dealing with the heat and the very noticeable strain it put on her, nothing seemed to be happening!

I think at that point the warranty company got tired of the business' non-action and paid them off for the service they had performed to that point, cancelled their contract and got another HVAC company involved for a second opinion… and FINALLY things began to click!  After speaking with the gal at the new company, she seemed to understand our need and jumped into action.  They had a tech in a neighboring town who came by a few hours later, diagnosed that because of the age of the unit and the inability to get parts for it, we needed a new A/C unit.

Then last night I received an email from the warranty company saying that they had received the report and would let me know within 1-3 business days if they approved it or not.  Well, about a minute later I received another email stating that they approved it and ordered the new unit!  In the meantime, I had our current unit recharged in order to keep the house cool until the new one is installed, and while it took a while to get the temperature down, we awoke this morning to a refreshing 70 degrees… Ahhhhhhh! (I usually set it lower at night, but after 87 degrees, 70 felt like the inside of the freezer in our refrigerator!)

So what did I learn from this HOT experience?  Two things… To trust in the Lord with all my heart and not be discouraged by what I think I see happening or NOT happening around me! (Proverbs 3:5-6)  And secondly, to watch over my prayers and what I am standing in faith for with thanksgiving! (Colossians 4:2)

I will admit that there was a time when nothing seemed to be happening and the warranty company set up a new A/C company to come out where I almost lost it!  I was tremendously frustrated and down-right angry, thinking that after two weeks of this that we were having to start the process all over again!  One look at Piper and how wiped-out and weak the heat was causing her to be almost put me over the edge… but thank God for all that Word I’ve got stored up in me because before I could react too much more negatively, the thought of thanking God for HIS WILL in what we had prayed for - in difference to what I thought was going on popped up in my head!

At that moment it felt like one of those situations when the car in front of you suddenly hits their brakes and your foot stomps on your brake pedal as if you are trying to push it through the floor!  After I mentally jerked back into an upright position, I simply raised my hands and began to thank Him for His will (ie; the Word concerning God’s favor with man that we were standing on in Psalms 5:12 and Proverbs 3:4)… and you know… it didn’t happen instantly, but eventually I felt that peace that surpasses our understanding come over me and cover the situation at hand. (Philippians 4:7)  I believe that is the moment when the confusion that tried to overcome our situation broke up and allowed Papa God the full freedom to have HIS way in answering our need!

It is kind of funny when you think about it.  Many people would probably feel justified in getting angry and responding in a negative way… but as Christians, you and I are not just anyone!  We are sons and daughters of the King!  We have inside connections to God’s will and God’s ways… so why not use them!  That’s what I did… and as I’ve always said when I see my obedience giving Him the opportunity to stop a situation from going sour… “Gee… this stuff really works!”

Is there something that you need to work in your life today?  Then I suggest you pray and give it to God, find some scripture on which to place your faith and at the same time give Him something to work with (Jeremiah 1:12 and Mark 16:20) and then STAND FIRM and watch over your request with thanksgiving.  The solution is simple in process but more difficult in seeing it through to completion.  I learned to take my responsibility of giving thanks seriously and am now joyfully and peacefully in the midst of God’s solution!

Have a great weekend!  Piper and I have our youngest daughter and her husband and our newest granddaughter coming for a visit starting tomorrow!  So I’ll be taking next week off from the blog… but I’ll be back the following week to share with you all about it!  As you enjoy this weekend keep asking yourself… “Am I expecting to watch over my prayers and requests to Papa God with lots of thanksgiving?”

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Salt Shaker



I have a habit when I sit down to study the Word in the morning to quickly select and write down a verse that I’ve been thinking about or one that just captures my attention when I pull up my Bible study program.  I guess it kind of acts like a primer for the day’s study… like an appetizer before the main meal is served!  For the last few days I have been looking at and notating Colossians 4:6 from various translations.  Today I wrote it out in a personalized conglomeration of the different translations and notes I’ve taken.  It came out as: “Everything I say and do is kind, with grace, seasoned as it were with salt and is well thought out so that I always know how to answer everyone.”

Then it just so happened that my commentary of Colossians was talking about the ministries of speech and used this verse as it’s springboard into the subject… cool wouldn’t you say!  I could probably sum up what I looked at today by declaring:“with grace in our hearts and on our lips we will be faithful witnesses and not judges or prosecuting attorneys.”*

That statement brought back a flood of memories concerning some of my wife’s and my experiences over the last few years!  But it also brought a smile to my face as I recalled my personal pleasure in watching my wife “work a room” during the special events we put on at the various churches we served in over the years.  The first part of the summary above would be a vivid picture of what I saw in her.  She had a knack to quietly walk around the room with a sweet, non-threatening smile and personal demeanor that could tear down even the tallest walls that people tried to erect around themselves!

Then I had to laugh aloud (and startle our new dog lying at my feet at my desk in our study) as I recalled her interactions with the group of youth we met with for a while in a park in a pretty rough neighborhood in our old hometown in the early nineties.  They would be talking in their teen/gang lingo and she would have them in stitches as she was completely naive to the meaning of many of their comments… but yet she commanded their complete respect as they would patiently translate their meanings to her and listen intently as she spoke and ministered the Word with love, in words seasoned with grace.

She has always had a way with wayward kids and youth! (adults too… come to think about it!)  Her patience seemed like it had no ending, and there were many times during ministry events that I knew to just keep my mouth shut and let her have her way!  Another thought that caught my attention this morning which goes hand in hand with my wife’s example, was that “There is no place in a Christian conversation for a know-it-all attitude.”*

This is something in others that can be very annoying to me!  What is worse is when I have found myself being drawn into the trap of retorting to such an individual by attempting to do the same thing and talk about how smart I was and/or how successful I have been.  But you know… in reference to my wife’s humble demeanor, I can’t ever recall a time that she allowed herself to fall into that trap… even at family gatherings!  I believe that is called “GRACE.”

I like the idea of our speech being “seasoned with salt.” (Colossians 4:6 KJV)  Salt in Bible times was not only used for seasoning but also as a preservative.  And when you look in the Old Testament, you’ll find times where it was added to the sacrifice.  So not only should our words be pleasant to the palette, but they should preserve the atmosphere of love and peace… which means that at times, we need to sacrifice our own desires and speak words that will bless and not curse the hearers.  Like I’ve learned, there are times that we just need to do what is right and not say or do something just because we feel like it!  Kind of like telling someone to take what you’re about to say ‘with a grain of salt!’  To me that is exercising a lack of responsibility, self-control and zero spiritual discernment!  Colossians 4:6 plainly tells us that WE are the ones who are to season OUR words with salt and aim to cultivate a grace-filled spirit of love!

So, what do you think?  Are you heavy or moderate with the salt shaker when it comes to the way you speak to others?  A little bit of salt can enhance the flavor of a meal, while too much will ruin it!  What amount do you shake onto your words?  Have a great day today, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “How much GRACE am I expecting to shake onto my words today?" 
 
*Be Complete, A Commentary of Colossians, Dr. Warren Wiersbe, Chapter 11

Monday, June 20, 2016

"Fiver"



Happy first day of summer everyone!  We have had some amazing weather here lately and I am excited to see what wonderful adventures lay ahead during one of my favorite seasons of the year.  We had a few triple digit days last week and this week forecasts a mid-nineties average.  But I have decided to not let the temperature or weather patterns bother me this year.  I made a commitment in front of God and my wife a short time back, to never complain about the weather this summer but instead to simply enjoy it… be it hot and muggy like a few days past or quite comfortable as it is right now.

And you know… not too long after I made my declaration, we started having problems with our air conditioner!  We have the second tech in as many weeks coming out tomorrow (thank the Lord for the Home Warranty policy that came with the house!)  But we have held our course and the temperatures actually went down as if to accommodate the A/C’s inability to get down to and hold the set temperatures on the thermostat!  In fact, our recent weather has reminded me of our old northern California weather where we hardly ever needed air conditioning!

This summer will be a good one for us as we have welcomed the newest member of our household into our loving arms.  On Saturday evening a 8-10 month old Blue Merle Australian Shepherd mix moved in!.  “Fiver”* is a young Aussie with a mix of Great Pyrenees.  He has many of the same features of our last Aussie whom we unexpectedly lost a couple of months ago, but definitely differs in other areas due to the Pyrenees influence.  While he is currently about the same size (although I’m sure he’ll get bigger as he grows into his body!) Fiver is longer, has larger hind legs with an overall thinner build.  

Personality wise they are very similar though.  Fiver is a mellow dog and is very affectionate, but is NOT an escape artist as Mandie was in her younger days.  Fiver seems content to stay within eyesight of us and return to the house as soon as we go inside.  We’ve only had him for a couple of days and he is already following me around the house like he is attached to my side.  The other great thing is that he seems to have taken a real liking to my wife.  He is not fearful of her chair and likes to lie down near her during the day.  Last night he slept in our bedroom for the first time… and guess where he slept?  You got it… Next to and partially under Piper’s bed!

So… our summer is going to be fun with our new companion!  Fiver is also going to help me keep my weight down and most likely lose a few pounds as he loves to chase a ball and we have been running around the backyard together playing games.  One quick summer hint though:  Make sure your shorts fit well before running around with the dog!  Mine were sliding down every time we went out back!  I guess that’s a good thing though!  Today I’ll wear a pair with a smaller waist size!

For a while there I was beginning to have doubts that any of this was going to happen.  I had applied for adoption with the Carolina Hearts Aussie Rescue a few weeks after Mandie passed, and according to their online information, the process was only supposed to take a few weeks.  I came to find out later that there were a lot of unusual things going on within the organization like the wedding of a key staff member, a major move to a new location, a large influx of applications and the normal time it takes to coordinate a mostly volunteer organization.

But at the time I didn’t know all that and I began to seek the Lord to find out if we needed to take a different route in acquiring a new dog.  And while I can’t say that I got a definite yes or no, I did have a peace in seeing this through.  Piper and I had prayed about the plan, had some scripture that we were standing on and decided to keep on keeping on even though nothing seemed to be happening.

During the later weeks leading up to this weekend, the Lord put Proverbs 3:5-6 on my heart, so I began to dissect the verse using different translations and Hebrew/English dictionaries.  Today I looked at this verse from the point of view of the Good News Bible.  It reads: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.  Never rely on what you think you know.  Remember the Lord in everything you do, and he will show you the right way.”  The way they state to “Never rely on what you think you know…” arrested my attention very quickly!  When I put that together about what I had previously learned with the Hebrew definition of the word “remember” or “acknowledge” in the King James, I had an epiphany! 

The word “acknowledge” comes from the Hebrew word “yada” and is translated into Greek as “ginosko” which is an intimate knowing of something or someone, as a married couple knows each other intimately in the act of intercourse.  So, I put that info together and read the verse as: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.  Never rely on what you think you know, but respond instead, with an intimate knowledge of what you DO know according to the Word of God, and he will show you the right way.”

Looking back I can see how I was reacting to things I really didn’t know!  Kind of like folks who have responded to our situation based on false pretenses.  When all the information came out, the extended period of time made sense!  And… it gave God time to get the right dog for us.  We had our hearts set on a couple of other dogs that were adopted before our paperwork and follow-up was complete.  Fiver wasn’t even on the website or available earlier in the process!

The Lord was also preparing us, as I thought we needed an older dog, but it now seems that the younger dog is a much better fit for us.  We really needed the input of young life, enthusiasm and the ensuing laughter and joy in our home environment!

So, my lesson was to NOT rely, depend on or take any encouragement (or discouragement) from my own (in this case incorrect) understanding, but to go with what I know in the Word… mainly, to trust wholeheartedly in and thereby find and keep my peace in Him!
Have you ever experienced anything like this… or am I alone in my stupidity!  Hopefully this will minister to someone’s situation today!  Have a great week, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “What or Who am I expecting to trust in today?


*His name comes from a character in the English children’s classic “Watership Down”   by Richard Adams.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Our Standing in GRACE...



I normally have two or three reading projects going on at the same time.  Right now I actually have four or five, if you count my daily time in the Bible!  Currently I am following a specific commentary as I study the Word each morning.  Then I have the book on healing that Piper and I are reading together after breakfast and lunch.  Before we get up from the couch in the evening we watch a Christian minister teach on one of the Christian TV channels.  From there we head to bed and I read our confessions to Piper.  Once she is off to sleepland, I enjoy winding down for about half an hour by reading a fun, adventure book following in the genre of Clive Cussler.  And just before turning off the lights for the night I like to conclude my day by reading from another Christian teaching book, with the current title covering the subject of God’s grace.

I find it really interesting and exciting when all those various inputs converge on the same subject, as is happening right now (… although, not so much the adventure book)!  And that subject is God’s grace.  This morning’s Bible study focused on the father’s/parents actions of grace in the upbringing of their children.  I was telling my wife at breakfast that the verse that really jumped out at me was Colossians 3:21 where Paul tells the fathers (or ‘parents’ as the word can be translated either way): “don’t make your children resentful, or they will become discouraged.” (God’s Word ©)

Having spent the majority of my ministry years involved in Student Ministries, I think that was one of the most common situations that we dealt with!  That is one reason we always liked to have Parent of Youth groups, parent and youth activities, as well as Family Fun Nights.  These events gave us an opportunity to be involved with the parents of our students as well as the parents with the other parents.  They set up numerous opportunities for learning through teaching, experience and just watching how others interacted with their children.

I realized a few years back that as our own children transitioned into adulthood, that Piper’s and my input into their lives was also in transition.  I have become aware that our approach to our kids has transformed into an attitude of grace, prayer and encouragement.  A good example was our stay in Oklahoma.  That three year period was one of the greatest times in my life… but it was also one of the most difficult from many different fronts!

It was great as it seemed like we were living in heaven upon the earth.  Bible school was fantastic!  So excellent in the depth of teaching that I could not get enough of it and a church fellowship that seemed to only get better and excel at all that they/we did!  But then there were the other experiences.  First was my time limitations as I was going to school full time and working full time… and caring for a few yards on the side!  Then there was all the strange things that were beginning to come into focus with my wife’s health, followed by all the tests and facing the scary results that no one – at that time – seemed to be able to get their hands on.

Along with all this during the first year, was the trauma of helping both of our kids that came with us through many difficult times as a result of the move.  I have to give God all the glory because at the early onset of His clear directive to me to move and attend school (over a year and a half previously to our trek across the country), He assured me that it would turn out better for our kids than they had ever known before… and it did!

Then there were our finances!  We had a plan to take care of this part of the equation before we left and it seemed to be working great… for the first month or so!  As it turned out, both our son and my wife had difficulty in securing jobs, and when my wife finally did, she was let go after three months due to her having difficulties remembering directions (which we didn’t understand fully until we got back to California and the diagnosis of her health needs).  Then we suddenly had a past debt (that I actually thought had been taken care of a few years previous to this time) pop up with large forced monthly payments.  I had been pre-warned by others who had followed the Lord’s leading to attend Bible College previous to us, but I honestly thought I had all the bases covered!

As I look back now, it is clear to me that it was God’s grace, lots of prayer and faith in His Word in the provisions that Jesus has provided us through His finished work of the cross that got us through!  Romans 5:1-2 confirms this revelation as it declares that “Christ, by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand…” (KJV)

I spent many sleepless nights in the midst of everything that was going on back then in prayer over our my wife, our kids and our needs, while I physically approached every one of them each day with an attitude and approach of grace… not criticism, complaining or guilt.  I wish I could have taken my wife to more of the activities at the church during that time, but to be honest, I was just too pooped!  I am so thankful that our younger daughter was able to accompany her to many seminars and other events.

I believe that a positive and encouraging attitude and approach of grace is what prevents our children from becoming discouraged… and especially our adult children.  I love to hear of our kid’s dreams and visions for their families futures and I love to encourage them to be free to pray over them and step out in faith when the time is right to pursue them.  According to Romans 5:2 we have a firm standing in God’s grace and thereby have access through this unmerited and undeserved favor of God, by faith, to all the provisions that Jesus has already provided for us through His death, burial, resurrection and assumption to the highest position in heaven, at the right hand of Papa God!

That is the kind of Good News that I want to proclaim to my family…  How about you?  Have a great weekend and as you do, keep asking yourself… “How am I expecting to encourage my family within my standing in God’s grace today?