Our New Home

Our New Home
Fall is defintely in the air!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Wonder Dog!

So… let me tell you a story about Fiver, The Wonder Dog!  After suddenly losing our former four legged companion last year, I had prayed that the new dog that we would eventually bring home would take a quick liking to Piper and not be afraid of her chair or any of the other circumstances or activities that we entail as part of the daily battle we fight for the restoration of her health.

After trying to adopt three older dogs from the local Aussie adoption agency with no success, I spotted our Fiver, a young male, blue merle Australian Shepherd mix (with Great Pyrenees)… and it was love at first sight!  He was a little shy at first but seemed to be comfortable in our home and from day one, has followed me around like my shadow.  But he also formed an almost immediate connection with Piper.  Wherever I push her chair around in the house, our big white with blue merle face and hind quarters pooch has to be at her side or directly in front of the chair… leading the way!

Every morning he is to be found at my side licking Piper’s face or hands as I get her up and ready for the day.  When I mow the lawns, he is usually right next to or under her chair on the back deck or front porch.  Well, the other night he took his self-imposed responsibilities a step further…

After I got Piper all tucked in for the night, I jumped in the shower for a quick rinse after having been outside mowing the front lawn for a good part of the afternoon.  A few moments later as I was drying my hair, the bathroom door, which I had left slightly ajar so that I could listen for Piper if needed, suddenly swung open and Fiver stood in the doorway staring at me.

This was a little unusual as the dog normally lays down in bed right after I get Piper all snuggled up under her covers.  So, I looked at the pooch and spoke to him saying: “What’s going on boy?” and knelt down to pet him.  It was then that I looked up across the bedroom and noticed that Piper had pulled the covers over her head and was flailing about under the sheets.  In an instant I knew that she was having some difficulty and with Fiver at my side, hustled over to her bed, pulled the covers back and noticed that her face and nose were buried in the pillow soaked with a nasal discharge.  Then as I gently lifted her head she began to sigh repeatedly. 

At times like that I normally act before I take any time to think about the situation!  So as I gently caressed her head and spoke softly to her, I quickly changed her soft fluffy pillow with a firmer one off my bed, and tenderly placed her head on it.  Then I washed her face and switched over to comforting prayer… with the dog licking at her hands the whole time!

You know… I’m not sure what would have happened if Fiver hadn’t alerted me!  I had the door to the master bath room ajar so that I could hear Piper… but she didn’t make any noise until I moved her head!  I believe that Piper was probably a bit shaken after the incident and thus the sighing utterances that she continued to make for a while following my response.

This may sound a little strange to some people… but I believe that the situation that night unfolded as it did due to the atmosphere of “the mind of Christ” in our home.  After teaching the church in Corinth the differences between individual people’s ability to be spiritually minded or not, Paul declared: “"Who has known the mind of the Lord so that he can teach him?" However, we have the mind of Christ.” (I Corinthians 2:16 God’s Word ©)  In this verse he is speaking to Christians, and I think that you could add the word “should” before the words, “have the mind of Christ.”

As I have stated in another recent post, I have come to understand that having “the mind of Christ” is all about the ability to seek and keep one’s focus on God and the truth of His Word… no matter what other contrary evidence is being presented to you at any given time.  Paul told his friends in Philippi that he was “reaching out for Christ” as “I’ve got my eye on the goal where God is beckoning me onward – to Jesus.”  Then he concluded his thought by encouraging them declaring “So let’s keep focused on that goal.” (Philippians 3:12, 13, 15 The Message)

When the dog nosed open the bathroom door the other night, I immediately sensed that something was up… but I didn’t panic.  When I saw what was going on with Piper I just moved!  When things like this happen, I’ve learned to immediately turn inside, to quiet myself down and give an ear to what my spirit man is trying to tell me.  While I was working with my wife in the midst of the moment, I was also asking God where this was going, should I call the hospice nurse and what else should I do.  After a few minutes I had peace and “knew” she was okay and that everything was cool!

Now that doesn’t mean that I didn’t get up numerous times throughout the night to check on her to assure her well-being, but I didn’t do it in fear but in faith that what I had heard the Lord say to me through my inner man was correct!

So what did I learn through this?  Well, first of all, that the Lord definitely knew what He was doing when I was tempted to complain because I was disappointed that we were not able to adopt the first three dogs we tried to get!  Because He knew that the big, 65 lb goof-ball Fiver was the right animal for us!  And secondly, that keeping our focus on the goal of Jesus and His Word worksand is the right view to keep one’s eyes on!

What do you think?  When you open up the windows in your home… your spiritual home, what is your view?  What if there is a lot of smoke, your spouse is smothering, the bank account is empty, the kids are sick, or any other such contrary evidence to the truth of God’s Word?

Just saying….  Now’s the time to get the right view… before the smoke and mirrors of life attempt to get you off course!

Have a great rest of the week, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “What VIEW am I expecting to have today?”

Monday, July 17, 2017

NEW to DO!

My wife and I have been watching a series on American history that I had recorded on the 4th of July.  The series was produced for the History Channel a few years ago and covered the growth of our country from the initial landing of the first European settlers through the current century.  I am kind of a history buff and thoroughly enjoyed the program while learning quite a few facts that I didn’t know!

One thing that I noticed early on was that it had a slightly liberal leaning interpretation to its story.  In between the reenactments of various events in history, they had different well-known personalities talk about the general feelings of the time, the political backdrop, or some scientific information to explain the breakthrough technology that was coming out that initiated changes.  These people tended to be Hollywood stars, Democratic leaders or well-known newscasters from the mainline media.

Another thing that became obvious to me was the history that they chose to dwell on, and maybe more importantly, the history they either glanced over or totally left out!  Some of their spins on particular times in our history like the religious impact on the founding of our country and the Civil War and the years following, tended to irritate me a bit, but overall, I enjoyed the program and like I said previously, learned a few tid-bits that I hadn’t heard of before!

One thing which definitely stood out to me though, was how they kept pointing out the pioneering motif of Americans and how we have always been a country that strived to discover new adventures, new unchartered land, new technologies and live a better life.  Of how tough times, tragedies and other afflictions only tended to draw us together in great resolve and bring out the best in us!

While watching the program one night over the weekend, I got up to get something out of the kitchen just as the narrator was once again talking about the pioneering spirit of Americans and I couldn’t help but almost jump for joy when the Lord said quietly to me: “That’s you & Piper!”

And then… it all began to come clearly into my mind.  I saw how I had been dwelling a lot on our past, of how things developed for us with each other, our family and in our ministry involvement over the past forty some years… and how those thoughts gave me nothing but a confused and foggy view of our future.  It is kind of like the experience every time I step outside after a rain storm on a warm summer afternoon… my glasses tend to fog up as soon as they are introduced to the high outside humidity and I can’t hardly see a thing until everything adjusts to its new surroundings beyond the air conditioned house!

Well, it was the Lord telling me that it was time to adjust to our new surroundings!  I remember hearing that small still voice deep inside me saying that “You can’t see your future through the view of your past” and that He had a new future, with a new path for us to follow.  Then of course, He snuck in the truth that instantly stirred me up saying: “Remember you two are PIONEERS, and I have new trails for you to blaze, in a new land, with a fresh anointing to empower you.”

After sharing all this with Piper at breakfast the next day, I slipped into the kitchen to top up my coffee cup and I heard the phrase: “I have NEW for you to DO!”  Well, let me tell you… I have NO idea what it is… but I sure am excited about it!  I seem to sense that He wants me to be praying about it with a clean slate, without the memories of how He/we did it in the past.  This is something new, in a new home, in a new state, with new people who have many different backgrounds, experiences and values than our past involvements on the West Coast.

So it seems a little weird to try to come into prayer without any per-conceived ideas, and with a totally clear mind and conscience that is only motivated by strong expectations of what trails He has for us to follow!  It’s also kind of exciting… wouldn’t you say?  Have you ever been there when the Lord speaks to you and says that He has something totally new for you?  What are your first thoughts?  Do you relish the thoughts of the unknown adventures ahead… or are you like the ones many years ago that never built up the gumption or faith to get into the boat in order to cross the ocean to the new land of unknown adventures?

Does God have NEW for you to DO?  Just saying!

Have a great week ahead, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “What would I expect my reaction to be if the Lord spoke to me and declared that He had NEW for ME to Do for Him?”

Friday, July 14, 2017

Whose Race am I Running?

I began to notice the other day as I was listening to the shuffle of different “radio stations” that I had selected on my Pandora Plus account, that there are a whole bunch of different styles of Christian music out there… and many, many people who enjoy them!  What really caught my attention was the amount of clapping that preceded the various artists on the recordings that were made before a live audience.  Let me explain…

I have always enjoyed a wide variety of musical styles.  I think part of that comes from my Mom who loved to sing (she was in a popular quartet in high school), play the piano and dance with my Dad!  My Dad was kind of a quiet reserved fellow, but get him on the dance floor with my Mom, dancing to the music of the Big Bands from the 1940’s, and WOW!  They made a great duo!  -- A side note – My Mom would tell the story of their first dance together at a USO dance in New York during the war.  She stated how my Dad was really quiet and a bit detached which caused her to become a little irritated and thinking how “Stuck up this guy was!”  Later on, as the romance grew, he confided in her that he was actually extremely nervous and was counting his steps throughout the dance in order to not make a mistake! –

As I’ve mentioned in past blogs, my Mom had music playing all day long in our home.  Anything from the modern tunes that her favorite local radio station (KSRO – 1350 AM) was playing, to Big Band (she had a nice collection of 78 rpm albums from her youth… which I inherited!), to show tunes, and even some opera… which never seemed to stick with me!  So you can see that I couldn’t help but have a high regard for many types of music! 

Since we’ve been out here in the Southeast, I have a new appreciation for and have even takin’-a-liken to Country music!  There is something about its simplicity that draws me to it!  I also enjoy the harmony!  That’s probably why a band like the Second Chapter of Acts in the 70’s and 80’s became my all-time favorite Christian Band.

But you must understand… In my circle of friends and family back in Northern California, many would of thought that I had lost my marbles if I ever listened to Country Music when we lived there!  It wasn’t until we lived in Oklahoma for three years, and our current three years in North Carolina, that I began to gain an understanding of the Southern culture and be able to enjoy their music, cuisine and lifestyle.  One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in our years outside the borders of California, has been to appreciate the many different lifestyles, cultures and viewpoints of the citizens of our great country.  I believe it has given me a more open and accepting view of others who may look or live different than what I am used to.

And that brings me back to the different styles of music and the different folks who enjoy them!  You can tell from the applause and audience interaction with the various musical groups in concert, that the listeners have a close connection with what that particular music style represents!  In Philippians 3:12-14 the Apostle Paul is telling us that:

“It's not that I've already reached the goal or have already completed the course. But I run to win that which Jesus Christ has already won for me.  Brothers and sisters, I can't consider myself a winner yet. This is what I do: I don't look back, I lengthen my stride, and I run straight toward the goal to win the prize that God's heavenly call offers in Christ Jesus. (God’s Word ©)

As I was studying this conversation this morning I began to ask myself what “course” Paul was discussing and what was the “goal” that he was striving to reach.  Now, I realize that in the context of the statement that he was discussing the Christian’s life walk and their desire to receive their heavenly reward.  But on a greater scale, I believe that this scripture can also be taken personally by each of us as we not “look back,” but “lengthen our strides” and “run straight toward the goal” of completing the course in this life that the Lord has individually called us to participate in.”

Jesus’ parable of the master and his three servants in Matthew 25:14-30 would collaborate this thought.  Each worker was given a different amount of money… or you could say a different calling to accomplish.  Upon his return the master gave the same bountiful reward to the two servants who excelled in what they each were given to do.  The third servant was frozen by fear and did nothing with his given task.  He ended up receiving zero reward from his master, and in fact… what he was originally given was taken away and split between the other two workers!

Over the last ten years of this journey that my wife and I have been on with the fight for her health, we have been told by various friends and family members that “If we were really serious about her healing then we would have done such and such.”  The only problem with all of their suggestions was that they were NOT what the Lord had specifically told US to do.  It was a different path than what He has outlined for US… It was THEIR path, according to how THEY would have done it, based on THEIR lifestyle, THEIR personal experiences, and the direction that the Lord would usually direct THEIR paths.

Now that I have walked in these shoes… sort of speak… for these last years, I have a whole new appreciation for others in my past who have walked similar journeys that we find ourselves in.  If I could go back, I would offer my assistance to them and encourage them right where THEIR faith was, and not where I thought it should be!  I would strive to be a help and not a hindrance to them.

It is my hope that some of our experiences during these last ten years would be an encouragement to our readers, in that you might personally seek and follow the Lord’s directions for YOUR lives!  I can guarantee that you’ll run into folks who are more than willing to direct your paths… but you know, those directions just don’t usually pan out.  I’ve discovered that in the heat of your difficult circumstances, that God’s Word and His personal directions to you in line with that Word are the only things that will not only hold you up… but carry you through to the finish line!

Have a marvelous weekend, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “Whose plan am I expecting to follow in order to complete the race that is set before ME?”

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

What More Can I Say?

On this day in history:

1096 - Crusaders under Peter the Hermit reach Sofia in Hungary.

1691 - William III defeats the allied Irish and French armies at the Battle of Aughrim, Ireland.

1794 - British Admiral Lord Nelson loses his right eye at the siege of Calvi, in Corsica.

1806 - The Confederation of the Rhine is established in Germany.

1941 - Moscow is bombed by the German Luftwaffe for the first time.

1954 -President Dwight D. Eisenhower proposes a highway modernization program, with costs to be shared by federal and state governments.

1957 -The U.S. surgeon general, Leroy E. Burney, reports that there is a direct link between smoking and lung cancer.

1974 - G. Gordon Liddy, John Ehrlichman and two others are convicted of conspiracy and perjury in connection with the Watergate scandal.

And… In 1975 on a sun-drenched Saturday in July, at approximately 1:20 in the afternoon, my life was changed forever as a young 21 year old, brown haired cutie named Piper K. Canevari turned her sparkling brown eyes in my direction, looked deeply into my eyes and said: “I Do!”

And what a life it has been!  Today, some 42 years after that life-altering event, I can look back and witness to a life filled with joy, excitement, encouragement, the fulfillment of many dreams… and sure… a few ups and downs, but overall a life that I would DEFINITELY do all over again if given the chance!

I often joke with Piper telling her that when God the Father, His Son and the Holy Ghost were creating her, that the Father paused and looked over at Jesus and asked Him to look up who she would eventually marry.  Jesus then flipped through the Book of Life and said, "it looks like a fellow named Jim Berruto."  So Papa God, with a smile on his face turned to His team and said, "let’s give that boy a life that he won’t EVER forget and anoint this girl with three times the looks, the personality, the smarts, the spiritual discernment and with 'joy unspeakable and full of glory'.” (I Peter 1:8 KJV)

And They did, and I have!

What more can I say Proverbs 18:22 tells us that “Whoso findeth a good wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favor from the Lord.” (KJV)  I think that the Contemporary English Version puts it a little more in tune with what I would say about my wife, declaring “A man’s greatest treasure is his wife – (for) she is a gift from the Lord.”  This is a truth that I have been telling her every day for the last few years.  She is definitely a gift from the Lord that has given my life meaning beyond measure with four wonderful children and now their spouses and kids.  I repeat it again… What more can I say!

I can’t say that I never knew how great I have been blessed in the past, but as we have been fighting the good fight of faith in this battle for her life over the last ten years, her blessed existence as the major part of my life has especially come to light as we walk hand-in-hand through the valley of the shadow of death…” (Psalm 23:4 KJV)

The Message Bible paraphrases Proverbs 18:22 with the statement, “Find a good spouse, you find a good life --- and even more: the favor of God.”  My love for my companion of forty two years was intensified even more when I looked up the Greek translation for the word “favor” in this verse.  The thought behind this term defines someone who receives “favor on account of, for this cause or for the sake of.” (Strong’s and Thayer’s)  Well again, I can sure attest to that kind of favor happening repeatedly throughout my life as an outcome of my relationship with Piper.  That truth also got me to thinking that it therefore makes sense for EVERY husband to take good care of their wife.  To love, serve and encourage her and her dreams!

I believe that the last part of that statement concerning the idea of encouraging your spouse and their dreams has been one of the major keys to our 47 year connection. (5 years dating + 42 years married!) Piper and I have always encouraged and supported each other in our dreams.  As most of you who know us understand, home schooling was one of Piper’s most heart-felt dreams, and I supported her in it and through it, especially during the early disagreements we experienced with both our parents, public disdain (the local paper once ran a front page article on homeschooling with Piper as their main subject!) and those who thought we were totally off our collective rockers!

And Piper always supported my dreams and stood by my side through the thick and thin.  Looking back now I can see how I was totally different than what Piper’s family was used to… and to be perfectly honest, I could say the same thing about Piper and my family!  Then again, we both possessed many unique characteristics and visions of life that set us apart from our own families as well!  I guess you could say that we were a match made in heaven!

So… What more can I say?  I may not know how much longer we will have together on this earth, but I continue to thank the good Lord for the many, many, great years and accomplishments that we have experienced together and can only set my faith-filled expectations on many more years as we continue to run the race He has given to us to participate in and “run straight toward the goal to win the prize that God's heavenly call offers in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14 God’s Word ©)

Happy Anniversary Honey!  You have given me a life that will go down in the annuals of history as one of the most exciting, adventurous, expectant and ultimate love stories that the world has ever seen!

What more can I say… How could I ever have known how much that “I Do” - forty two years ago would enrich and define my life!  Have a great day everyone, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “How am I expecting to run the race that Papa God has set before me today?”

Monday, July 10, 2017


When I first got up this morning around 7:10 it was warm and overcast outside.  By the time I helped my wife to get ready for the day, the skies had begun to lighten.  As we were going out the bedroom door into the hallway, I glanced out the long bedroom window and noticed that the leaves on the many trees lining that side of our property were beginning to take on an almost fluorescent sheen as the sun attempted to break through the cloud cover.  The sight made me stop and comment to Piper on the beauty of that moment!  It always amazes me to see the changes in the floral tints as the sun comes up each morning.

A few moments previous to this incident, the over-all atmosphere in our neighborhood was grey and a bit dull as if questioning whether it was going to rain or be sunny!  Then in a click of the second hand of the clock, the skies began to lighten and it’s obvious to see that the weather has made up its mind to stick to the forecast and let the sun shine through! 
As I look out the window now, about three hours later, the sun is shining brightly outside the dining room, a locomotive’s whistle is blowing as a local freight train powers down the track outside our neighborhood, the black crows are squawking to each other in the trees and the cardinals are singing as they forage for delicious tidbits amongst the blades of grass that make up our back lawn.

You know… I think that this is just a good time to praise the Lord!  With a hot cup of coffee in hand and a stomach full of bacon and eggs, having just completed a wonderful time of discovery in the Word of God and in the presence of my loving wife and silly pooch as they catch a few Zzzz’z near me in the room, I just have to smile and be thankful to Him who’s loving care continues to surround us with His love, His patience, His grace, His supernatural wisdom and a helping hand in times of need!

Has the whole morning been this peaceful?  Well, to be honest… not really!  Earlier in the morning it was kind of like pulling teeth to get my wife to swallow her breakfast, but steadfast determination, patience, many opportunities to suppress frustration and lots of gridded utterances of thanksgiving and praise got us through the task with flying colors!  In trying times such as these I tend to let my thoughts revert back to the many occasions that the Lord has come through as He has put His arms around me and helped me to push through the rough patches and end up with little victories throughout each and every day!

You know…?  It is hard for me to give in to the anger and/or discouragement that attempts to creep into the situation when I think about how good He has always been toward my wife and I.  Today I am encouraged once again by Paul’s words to Timothy as he instructed him to be diligent in his ministry efforts and to “study to show thyself approved to God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV)  As I have studied this verse over the last few days, I keep hearing the small still voice of the spirit lifting me up with the thought that I have nothing to be ashamed of while I seek to follow His daily leading and encouragement in the care of my wife in this her greatest time of need.

When the questions arise and I begin to dwell on the “Why’s, How’s” and “What more I can do,” He always comforts me with the counsel and peace that is part and parcel of the outcome to the personal study of His Word.  Isn’t God good?

So, I encourage all the readers of this blog today, to stop fretting and allow yourself to be enveloped by the loving arms of the Lord!  Take a moment for deep and peaceful reflection of the beauty that is present all around you at this moment.  Instead of dwelling on the negative, find the positive and let flow from your lips the sounds of praise and thanksgiving unto Him!

I get to ride the tractor around the backyard today as I mow the lawn.  It is actually something I really enjoy…  Those of you who have known us for a while know that Piper and I are outdoors people.  So mowing the lawn is actually a great stress reliever for me and being outside always stimulates my wife’s senses!  Every time I pilot the the riding mower, I am captivated by all that I see around me and am easily overwhelmed by the goodness of God as I consider the amazing beauty and peacefulness of this property that the Lord has given to us!  At times like this, all I can say is… “WOW!”

I hope that you all have that kind of day as well today!

And as you do, keep asking yourself… “How thankful am I expecting to be to my Papa God today?”

Friday, July 7, 2017

Do Your Best!

I did not want to go shopping yesterday!  But the threat of thundershowers had past, the weather was comfortable and I knew that it would be good for both my wife and I to get out!  So I asked the Lord for strength, joy and wisdom and headed out the door!

Now, I normally don’t complain about having to lug around my wife’s 75lb wheelchair and the need to delicately lift her in and out of the chair and in and out of the car, but I was sorely tempted as I maneuvered her out the kitchen door and onto the extension platform that I built in the garage in order to safely move her in and out of our home.  I am thankful though, that complaining has not been an active part of our marriage.  It only took one look at her sweet face and it was like she telepathed the need to praise the Lord directly to my mouth!

So, as I praised the Lord, the ‘bother’ seemed to lift and I suddenly had a hop in my step and a light-hearted feeling come about me!  Once we got going down the street, any memory of my discontent vanished and we went merrily on our way to the local Super-Walmart!

By the time we went through the pharmacy for a six pack of Boost, fresh fruits and vegetables, meats and entered the dairy section, I was totally absorbed in the task at hand… and actually found that was enjoying myself!  At one point I stopped to open up an egg carton (as Piper had taught me years ago to always check for broken eggs…) when a women, a little younger than us (I think!), stopped next to us and shyly asked me if Piper was my wife.  

With a broad smile I immediately answered “Yes!”  After my reply she looked at me with a gentle smile and said that she was really impressed with my care for Piper, and then stated that “If I ever get to the place where I need help, I hope that my husband would respond the same as you have!”  Well… as you can imagine, those kind words caused me to almost begin to cry.  She then continued by telling me how much we blessed her that day!  We spoke back and forth for a few moments and I told her how I would not have the care for my wife any other way!  Then as we parted I thought to myself, that I have loved Piper since high school and I was not about to stop now!

A few moments later I trickily maneuvered Piper in her chair followed by the shopping cart around a bend and into a crowed aisle where two young women, one with a little girl in her basket were joking about how the little girl was batting her eyes at her Mom.  They were laughingly discussing how she didn’t know what she was doing and how that action would probably become a viable part of how she carried herself into adulthood!

I kind of walked right into the conversation and couldn’t help but smile as I attempted to get around them without bumping into anything!  One of the gals then looked at us and started laughing as she told me that “You are doing a great job at maneuvering around without hitting anything!”  Then she added: “I can’t even get through the aisles with my kids without knocking things down!”  Well… I couldn’t help but break out into a hearty laugh as I remembered the time we knocked over the end cap filled with lipstick containers in that store’s pharmacy department a few months prior and I told them about that experience.  So, we all had a good laugh and continued on our separate ways!

This morning as I read from 2 Timothy 2:15 were the Apostle Paul is encouraging his young protégé to “Do your best to present yourself to God as a tried and true worker who isn’t ashamed to teach the word of God correctly” (God’s Word ©), I found myself thinking about our experiences in the store yesterday.  Let’s face it, those ladies comments to Piper and I really blessed me!  And the more I thought about it, I realized that if I had followed some of the ‘advice’ that I have received over the last ten years, we may never may have had the opportunity to be in the position we were in yesterday afternoon… shopping together in a Super Walmart in Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina… some 3000 miles away from home!  Then the reality of it all hit me… If we had followed what some proposed as the logical thing for us to do, I am not too sure that my wife would even be alive today! 

As I was confessing healing scriptures over Piper yesterday morning, my mind, for an instant, drifted off and I found myself considering some of the past things said to us, and even some of the various instructions I had read about in many different Christian books on healing.  But that thought pattern did not last very long as I quickly heard that small still voice inside of me, encouraging me to follow the specific directions that the good Lord had given to me at the beginning of Piper’s and my current journey.

I realized in that moment that if I had followed some of the ‘advice’ that came my way, that I would be nothing but an “echo” of them, but the Lord wanted me to take what He told me to do, in the face of everything else, and become a solid and confident “voice” that would triumphantly speak into our situation on a daily basis!  I also understood that Piper and I were a “voice” to those ladies yesterday in the very aisles of Walmart!

Depending on the translation you read, 2 Timothy 2:15 tells us to “do your best, give diligence to, carefully study or make every effort” in order to present oneself to God as a tried and true messenger of the Gospel… one who isn’t ashamed, or as Albert Barnes explains in his ‘Notes on the Bible’ commentary, “A man faithfully performing his duty, so that when he looks over what he has done, he may not blush!”

So yeah… I am only human, and yeah, it can be a bother sometimes to bring my wife with me most everywhere I go, but you know… when push comes to shove, I do it because first of all, I love her and have committed myself to be true to her and all her needs as long as she lives. Secondly, because I know that the stimuli is good for her… like I’ve said before, it always irks me when someone says without really thinking about it, “Get someone to watch Piper and go and do such and such…”  And thirdly, it’s my job!  It is what I am called to do right now, and I have promised to Papa God and my beloved Piper, that I will always “Do my best to show myself approved to God…” in the responsibilities that He has called me to perform!

So yeah, like yesterday, I want to be an strong and positive “voice” in people’s lives as I diligently strive to do my best in whatever Papa God has called me to do.  Being an “echo” isn’t good enough for me anymore!  How about you?

Have a great weekend.  The weatherman keeps pushing out the forecast of thundershowers, so as of right now, we are supposed to have a warm and sunny time for the next six days!  Since I finally got a new trimmer attachment, I’m hoping to finish trimming the front lawn!  Hope you all have a fun and productive couple of days as well… and as you do, keep asking yourselves… “Am I expecting to Do My Best in order to present myself approved to Papa God in what He’s called me to do today?”

PS: And keep in mind if you are a “Voice” or just an “Echo!”

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Melting Pot

Our country has always been known as the “melting pot” which “is a metaphor for a heterogeneous society becoming more homogeneous, the different elements ‘melting together’ into a harmonious whole with a common culture or vice versa… Historically, it is often used to describe the assimilation of immigrants to the United States.” [1]

I can recall my Grandparents on both my Father’s and Mother’s sides regaling us grandkids with a great multiplicity of stories centering around the difficulties and joys that they endured as they struggled to become “Americans” after immigrating from Italy and have the opportunity to live the “American Dream.”  And while they always enjoyed many of the aspects of our Italian heritage, like family unity, a love for gardening and mouthwatering Italian cuisine, they let it be known that they were first and foremost proud Americans!  I can still remember how proud my Grandpa was for his service with the US military in WWI and how he took great care and respect in flying the Stars and Stripes of our flag on the front porch on national holidays.

Over the last eight years though, the idea of America as being a “Melting Pot” has come under attack as the idea of “Identity Politics” where the ideals of maintaining one’s ethnic background, life-styles and even their culture’s laws in difference to American ways were espoused from the political party inhabiting the White House.  This to me is like a Christian who knowingly or unknowingly continues to follow the old ways of the world after becoming a born again believer.

I sometimes find myself shaking my head as I see new immigrants coming to live in America, only to stay within the same circle of life that they had in their former country.  What’s the use of wanting to come to America if you do not want to become an “American” and enjoy the structure, standard and advantages of life that makes America great?  Likewise, as a Christian… why get saved and then not take advantage of all the blessings and benefits of being a child of the King?  Isn’t that the whole idea of becoming a Christian… or is it just to escape a future eternal damnation while your life on this earth continues to be the pits?

Have you ever considered the question of “what defines who you are?”  As American citizens my Grandparents took advantage of the possibilities that their new citizenship offered them.  My Dad’s Father became a landscape gardener for the wealthy in San Francisco while my Mom’s Dad, along with two Jewish partners, owned a successful dress design and manufacturing business in New York City.  (I was telling my cousin the other day that although I’ve only been to New York once when I was two and don’t remember a thing about the trip… that I always feel a tinge of home whenever I see one of the many cars out here with New York plates on them… just because of all the happy childhood stories our Mom’s would tell about growing up there!) My Grandparents made a point to leave behind the poverty of their youth and strived to become happy and productive members of society!

And that’s the way I want to live my Christian walk on this earth… don’t you?  I don’t want to barely get along with the negative and selfish standards of this world, but to “Study earnestly to present myself approved to God, a workman that does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15 MKJV-personalized)  In praying to His Father, Jesus stated that “They (His followers – ie; you & me!) are no more defined by the world than I am defined by the world.” (John 17:16 The Message)

So… let me ask you again?  Who or what defines you…  your lifestyle, your thoughts, your words, your actions and what you expect on a daily basis?  My Grandparents didn’t live their lives in their adopted country according to what they left behind in the old country… but according to the possibilities and advantages of their new home.  What will you do?

Have a great rest of this 4th of July week!  And as you do, keep asking yourselves… “What or Who’s ways and words am I expecting to live my life by today?”

 [1] United States. Bureau of the Census (1995). Celebrating our nation's diversity: a teaching supplement for grades K-12. U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, Bureau of the Census. pp. 1–. Retrieved 27 November 2012.

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Standard of Rule!

Did you know that the Founding Fathers of our country did not declare independence from British rule nor sign the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776?  I didn’t!

On that date 241 years ago, the members of the Continental Congress met in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to approve the final wording of the Declaration of Independence.  The actual proclamation of our independence from Britain happened a few days earlier on July 2, 1776.  The completed document was signed by most members of the Congress on August 2, 1776, with the document being formally delivered to the British in November of that same year.*

For some reason I found myself thinking about the founding of our country while I was helping my sweet wife with her breakfast this morning.  The historical truth that captured my imagination was how the majority of our new nation quickly began to govern and see themselves as Americans soon after the first copies of the Independence document called “The Dunlap Broadside were circulated throughout the new nation.”This happened even though the war that had begun a year earlier in April 1775 was escalating and would continue for another seven years when the final peace treaty with the British was signed on September 3, 1783.

That one document became the standard that directed our country’s thoughts, ideas and daily lives during the long conflict, which many at the time felt was the tyrannical reign of the British Empire.  Isn’t it interesting how that document was, in many ways, similar to the standard that the Bible is to us Christians?

Between the initial military conflict in 1775 until the signing of the treaty in 1783 (and then some…**) the war raged on and in the natural scheme of things, nothing looked much different and at times even worse than the colonists had before the conflict.  But through those long years of hardship, those first proud citizens of our country stood their ground, lived as members of an independent nation and pushed on through until the British troops finally sailed on home!

That is just like the daily life that Christians live on this earth.  Jesus prayed to the Father before His death, burial and resurrection: “I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.   I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” (John 17:14-16 KJV)

You see, as Christians we are no longer under the rule and dictates of this world… just as our forefathers saw themselves as independent of British rule… even though the Redcoat troops were still visible around the land!  Therefore, the standards of rule for our lives should be the Word of God… and the exciting part is that when we follow those guidelines and walk according to the principles of Godly love, in 99.9% of circumstances, you’ll find that you’re adhering to and most times exceeding the approval of the written laws of the land!

So how do we accomplish that?  We follow the examples of the citizens of those rag-tag colonies as they faced head-on the strongest and greatest army of the known world in their time.  We live our lives according to the greater standards of God’s Word… no matter what contrary evidence we see around our homes, our jobs, our churches and throughout our world!  In fact, when you study the beginnings of our country and the standard of rule that our forefather’s established, it becomes pretty clear that our initial government was set up around the Bible and the Godly principles that it declares.

I guess that is the reason I still get a little teary eyed when I stand before the Red, White and Blue of Old Glory and proudly proclaim:

"I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Ah… go ahead…. If you haven’t done so yet, take out your flag and proudly display it in front of your home… and as you watch it flowing in the breeze, put your hand on your heart and declare aloud the Pledge of Allegiance to our flag and the Godly principles it stands for!

Have a great Fourth of July holiday, and as you do keep asking yourself… “What standard am I expecting to live my life by today… and every other day as well?”

** The war for American independence began with military conflict in 1775 and lasted at least until 1783 when the peace treaty with the British was signed. In fact, Native Americans in the west (who were allied with the British, but not included in the 1783 negotiations) continued to fight and didn't sign a treaty with the United States until 1795. The Revolution was a long, hard, and difficult struggle. (http://www.ushistory.org/us/13.asp)

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Honor through Dishonor

“But a Pharisee named Gamaliel stood up. He was a highly respected expert in Moses' Teachings. He ordered that the apostles should be taken outside for a little while.  Then he said to the council, ‘Men of Israel, consider carefully what you do with these men…

We should keep away from these men for now. We should leave them alone. I can guarantee that if the plan they put into action is of human origin, it will fail. However, if it's from God, you won't be able to stop them. You may even discover that you're fighting against God.’ 

The council took his advice. They called the apostles, beat them, ordered them not to speak about the one named Jesus, and let them go.  The apostles left the council room. They were happy to have been considered worthy to suffer dishonor for speaking about Jesus.  Every day in the temple courtyard and from house to house, they refused to stop teaching and telling the Good News that Jesus is the Messiah.”

                                                                       (Acts 5:34-35, 38-42   God’s Word ©)

The above portion of scripture takes place not too long after Jesus ascended into heaven and 120 of His followers fled to the upper room trying to figure out what had happened and were filled with the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.  Following their unworldly experience and filled with a new power and determination, the disciples hit the streets telling everyone the Good News that Jesus is the Messiah!  The only problem was that the Jewish High Council wasn’t too happy about it!  As far as they were concerned this business about Jesus and His claims to be the Son of God were put down when they crucified Him.

But what’s this?  Suddenly there are a growing number of disciples going out and telling the city about Jesus and His story of everlasting life!  So they figured that all they needed to do was to take out the leaders of this movement and everything would go back to the old norm… right?

Well… not quite!  As the beginning story relates, they arrested the 12 Apostles and were figuring out what to do with them when one of their wise leaders stands up and gives them some advice…

Can you imagine the look of chagrin on the faces of the members of the High Council as they watched the Apostles walking out of their chambers after having been beaten soundly and threatened, with smiles on their faces,   Rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name?” (Acts 5:41 The Message)

Every time I read this portion of the Word I can’t help but smile when I picture the Jewish leaders standing there with their smug looks quickly fading in the face of the joy and sense of honor that flooded the Apostles countenance.  I imagine that after the twelve left the room that the Jewish leaders looked at each other and simply shrugged their shoulders!

My wife and I have had the experience of people coming over to our house to “set us straight” after we chose to follow a direction that we felt the Lord had instructed us to follow… In fact, we’ve had it happen more than once over the 47 years of our relationship!  And we have also seen those same folks walk out our front door with a distinct look of consternation when we did not change our minds.  The funny part of these experiences is, just like the disciples reaction in verse 42, that these strong rebukes to our actions only served to deepen our resolve to complete what we felt that the Lord had spoken to us and gave us a sense of confirmation that we were on the right track!  And also like the Apostles, over a period of time we began to have a sense of being honored that we were dishonored at times, for following the Lord.

What do you think about all that?  Have you ever experienced a situation like that... when you step out to follow a dream that you sense is directed of the Lord, only to be hit with some disconcerting words or “advice” by others who really believe that you’ve stepped off a cliff this time?  What did you do?  Hopefully it was exactly what the Apostles did… with the pain and humility of having their backs bloodied by the whip for everyone to see, they put their heads up and began to rejoice… right there in the face of their accusers!

Those twelve men walked away in victory and not defeat!  They let their joy immediately take away any anger or fear that would try to arise in them.  Through their joyful response, they were empowered to go back to the temple courtyard on a daily basis and then door to door in order to boldly spread the Good News to their city and eventually to the known world!  I would bet that there were times that they were thankful for that first response of the temple High Court leaders, as it served to spur them on to even greater places of victory for the Gospel!

I’m sure that you’ve heard that old saying in the church of how “you can’t have great victories without great battles!”  Well, you know… it is a true saying!  Even though I found myself angry, deeply offended and frustrated at times, I am actually thankful for the persecution we have gone through as it too, has served to strengthen my resolve and faith in the Lord’s effectual working in Piper’s body as well as in each of the steps of His plan for us that He continues to unfold before us!

So… don’t get mad, Get GLAD in the Lord when voices rise up against you.  At times like this the usual words that come to my mind and out of my mouth are found in one of my wife’s favorite passages of scripture, and I refuse to give in to anger or criticism and instead shout “I refuse to be sad (or mad), because the joy that I have in the Lord is my strength!” (Nehemiah 8:10 God’s Word © personalized)

And you know… funny thing… it works just about EVERY TIME!

Have a great holiday weekend (here in the USA) and as you celebrate the freedoms that our country has to offer, remember to keep asking yourself…. “What response am I expecting to make to those who feel it their place to ‘set you straight’?”