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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

I'm Not Dull... am I?


I was thinking the other day that I am a very visual person.  I like to observe people, events and most anything that comes across my path in the course of a day!  I noticed that when my wife is having an exceptionally rough day with her health, that I will many times pause in the midst of her care and take a few moments to examine some of the many pictures that I have hung on the walls of our home that capture her essence from the early days of our relationship well into the 2000’s.  A few moments with those images of a healthy, confident, spunky and loving Piper always helps to encourage me, set me back on track and renew my commitment before God to always be there for her.

Another thing that I’ve noticed is that I do the same thing with God’s Word throughout each and every day.  Over the years I have memorized a lot of scriptures but just reciting those verses from rote isn’t the same as sitting down with my Bible and reading the inked words on the pages of His written testament.  Come to think of it, I have a Bible in almost every room in our house! 

There are three next to my bed stand, one in the bathroom, two or three in the dining room, usually at least one on the coffee table in the living room and a whole bunch on the bookshelves and desk in the study.  Then there is always my Bible Study program on my laptop that is opened up throughout the day and the thirty-two translations that I’ve downloaded onto it, and of course my phone and its variety of Bible translations!

So yeah… looking at my actual Bible and the powerful, life-giving and encouraging words of God that are held within its pages works the same to me as those pictures of my wife!  Sometimes I’ll stop at the entrance to our kitchen and just stare at one particular picture of Piper hanging in the dining room that I took during one of our many two-night holidays alone on the northern California coast.  While observing the picture I will look deeply at every feature of her face and just absorb every bit of her countenance.  It’s almost like I’ve got to spend a moment or two with the healthy Piper I expect to see again.

And you know?  I’ll do the same thing throughout the day with many glimpses into God’s Word.  I don’t just peruse it or casually look up a favorite verse, but I’ll take the time to study small portions and try to absorb each and every feature of it that the Holy Spirit directs my attention to.  When I walk away from those times in the Word, I sense that I have received a boost of His spirit and His life. (See: John 6:63)

In the book of Acts chapter 28, verse 27, Paul relates a statement from the Prophet Isaiah to the Jewish people in Old Testament times and references its meaning to the church in current days who could lose their affection for the things of God.  Of this potential situation he says, “for the hearts of this people has become dull…” (EMTV)

That statement really rang in my inner man as I read it this morning.  That is something that I do not desire and CANNOT afford to happen in my life!  How do you feel about that?  My time in the Word of God each day is a major priority in my daily schedule.  His Word continues to excite me, to guide me, and to encourage and strengthen me.

To me, someone whose heart has become dull is one who is simply out of touch with the things of God… and most likely also with the things happening in their own lives as well.  That to me would be a very scary position to be in!

So, stay in touch with God on a regular basis throughout your day.  Be visual with Him and spend time physically reading and studying His Word of life.  With today’s technologies, it is pretty easy to always have a copy of His precious Word with you.  I would hate to have God tell me that I’ve become dull of heart… wouldn’t you too?

Have a good rest of the week.  Stay close to Him through His Word, and keep asking yourself… “How am I expecting to stay sharp and alert to the things of God today?”

Monday, July 9, 2018

Where is It?


The last couple of mornings have been very difficult for me as my wife has hardly been eating anything.  With the attack of Alzheimer’s on her body over these last twelve or so years, she has been slowly losing many of her intellectual and physical capabilities.  From the early beginnings when I began to notice some small but subtle changes in her physical appearance and then having a difficult time finding that “right word” in order to complete her thoughts, it was increasingly apparent that something was going on with her although at that time most attributed it to the onset of menopause.

Piper had a complete and thorough physical in the summer of 2006, just before we left for Oklahoma and Bible School, and even with that, the doctor reported her to be in great health and sound physical condition.  About a year later things began to get more pronounced and we started off the investigation in earnest with multiple brain scans and other tests with a variety of specialists.  The changes came at a rapid pace once we returned home to California in 2009 and the deterioration of her well-being progressed from a seemingly innocent stumble in the hallway to the point today where she can no longer carry her own weight and requires 24-hour care for all of her needs.

One would think that I would be acclimated to changes in her by this point!  But as you can expect, each and every change has been very difficult for me to witness.  The swallowing yesterday and today caused me to step back and look deep inside to see where my faith really stood.  On both days I found myself at the completion of her breakfast, sitting on the floor in the hallway in prayer to the Lord.

At times like these it is easy to question your beliefs, and I must admit that there were a great multiplicity of questions going through my mind.  But as I finally quieted down those voices in my head, I recalled John 6:63 where Jesus said that His words are "spirit and life" (KJV) and I began to ask myself if I REALLY believe all those healing scriptures that I’ve been pumping into Piper and I for years now.  I needed to know if His Word was only in my head… or is it firmly planted within my heart?

Well, with a quick shake of my head and a rub to my eyes, I reaffirmed my belief in God’s Word as well as to my commitment to Him and to Piper that I would NEVER give up!  So, with a steading arm on the dog standing next to me (it’s nice to have a big dog!), I pushed myself up to my feet and walked back into the dining room, praising the Lord and thanking Him for His Word that is working inside my wife and perfecting a healing and a cure in her.

I think it is times like my experience this morning when you really learn if your faith has gone beyond the realm of “Mental Assent” and is a faith that actively “ACTS” on the Word… whether you see the end result of your faith or not!  I read a good explanation of “Mental Assent” the other day that stated:

“With mental assent you believe something in your head, you approve it and confirm it is right, proper and godly.  It carries your endorsement without qualm.  You may not speak of it, but it carries your seal of approval.  However, the problem is that you don’t realize that you are not fulfilling it.  You think it, but you don’t actually do it.  Why?  Because you believe it in your head, not in your heart: Mental Assent.  If you truly believed it in your heart, you would put it into practice.  You only believe God’s Word as far as you obey and act on it.”*



As I mentioned in our last post (7/6/18 – “Swooning…”), I have seen this on different occasions as we have interacted with others concerning our stand for Piper’s healing over the years.  The above definitions brought a peace to a part of me that has been extremely frustrated and confused with some folks who I know believe the same way Piper and I do, but yet continue to give us that blank and dazed look when it comes to actively agreeing with us.

I’ve also mentioned before of how I questioned just about everything I have ever believed and stood for when we returned home from Bible College to face the greatest battle in our lives.  The more I questioned, the more it came down to the point of exactly where my supposed faith was located… in my head or in my heart!  The answer to those questions is what helped me to begin making the many decisions we’ve had to make over the years that favored following God’s promises over what medical science and even some good-meaning family and friends were suggesting.

How about you?  How would YOU answer those same questions about where YOUR faith is located?  Is it stuck in your head or has it moved down deep into your heart?

Have a great new week!  And as you do, keep asking yourself… “Where am I expecting to find my faith in time of need today?”



* https://born-again-christian.info/believe.it.or.not.mental.assent.htm

Friday, July 6, 2018

Swooning!


My wife and I drove through the quaint, original downtown area of the Fuquay Springs section of Fuquay-Varina early yesterday afternoon.  Since the modern township is the result of two towns that merged together in 1963, it touts the unique feature of having two historic downtowns!  The Varina side has been artistically turned into a touristy destination with restaurants, multiple craft beer bistros, barbeque grills, ice cream shops, and clothing boutiques.  The street that bisects the area is narrow with angled parking and makes for a very pleasant walking experience.

Fuquay’s historic downtown is more of a working area filled with historic old buildings, banks, small stores, an old fashioned looking pizza house, more restaurants, a gas station/tire shop squeezed between two other stores and the city’s Police headquarters.  One of the largest buildings on the street is a gun shop located across the street from the PD.

So, as we passed by the gun shop that looked like it had been there for a long time, I glanced to my right toward the intersection we were driving past and couldn’t help but smile when a black early-nineties Z28 Camaro pulled up to the stop sign.  I noticed that the driver pulled in behind us and then came up on our left when we reached the stoplight.

I couldn’t help but check out and admire the car, especially since it was the same body style as the Camaro I owned for about twelve years.  The young driver, complete with dreadlocks and bouncing his head to the music playing never looked over at us, but I still smiled and enjoyed observing the interior, even though the dash top was dried out and cracked and the seats looked like they had seen far better days.

It didn’t matter though!  As a car guy I took notice of the fine lines of that particular model, the Z28 mags that I always wanted to get for my GS and the wonderful roar of the small block V8 engine.  Ah… a bit of heaven for a guy that has always had a thing for nice cars!

I know that it may not be right, but I have sometimes found myself getting annoyed with some folks who may not have the same affinity for cars… especially when it comes to the 1960-1970’s muscle and pony car varieties.  You know what I mean right?  Like when a gorgeously restored 1970 Chevelle SS 396 drives by and you’re barely able to stay upright on your feet because you are swooning and drooling all over yourself at the sight… and then you look at the person standing next to you and they have kind of a dazed look on their face and are completely oblivious to the beautiful piece of artwork that just passed by!

Well, you know… I’ve discovered myself in a similar position on multiple occasions over the last ten years, when it came to talking with others about having faith for my wife’s healing.  Strange huh… especially when the other folks are fellow Christians!  But I’ve been learning a few things about this lately.

In John 6:63-64 Jesus explained it to us saying, “The Spirit brings life.  The flesh has nothing to offer.  The words I have been teaching you are spirit and life, but some of you do not believe.” (The Voice)  If you’ve been reading this blog, you know that we’ve been speaking a lot about the meaning behind the words “spirit and life.”  But what has REALLY been catching my attention over the last few days is the first part of verse 64 which is the phrase that Jesus spoke to complete the thought that He began in verse 63.

So, what He is saying in effect, is that even though I have been speaking wonderful, powerful words that are filled with the spirit and life for your lives, that some of you still don’t get it!  You STILL DON’T believe me!  And how did He know this?  Because some of them were not ACTING on the words that He spoke unto them.

E.W. Kenyon in his book “The Two kinds of Faith” explains that “The word ‘faith’ is a noun: the word ‘believe’ is a verb.  ‘Believing’ is really ‘acting’ on the Word.”  He went on to say that “Instead of using the word ‘believe’, I use the words ‘act on His Word.”  John Gill in his commentary on John 6:64 wrote that “Their faith was not a living faith, or of a spiritual kind.”  Robert’s Word Pictures explained it by saying that “failure to believe (or act on His Words…) kills the life in the words of Jesus.”

I may be stepping out on a thin branch here… but it would make sense to me that this could very well be an explanation why some folks look a little dazed and blank when I enthusiastically share Piper’s and my beliefs on the healing properties of God’s Word.  I believe that every time I speak His Word over Piper that I am filling her up with His spirit and His very life!  Whew… now I’m getting a bit swoony over that reality – I’d better sit down… Oh wait, I am sitting!

I just had a fantastic conversation with Piper’s new CNA about God’s Words of healing that I speak over Piper at least twice a day.  She was in total agreement, her face lit up and the atmosphere in our home was brightened!  Even Piper responded with the most alertness in her face and eyes that she has shown for a while whenever a CNA has come over to bath her!

I am learning that most of this comes down to the practice of taking the time to allow the Word that you study each day to get past your head or your intellect and sink down deep into your heart!  We’ll discuss this a little more next week, but until then, take some time this weekend to look inside and see if your “believing” in God and His Word is truly being acted upon… or just talked about

Have a super weekend!  And as you do, keep asking yourself… “Am I expecting to actively ACT on the Word of God that I read or hear today?”

Monday, July 2, 2018

A Foundation for Life


I found myself standing in our bedroom late Friday morning, once again, telling Piper’s story.  The Certified Nurse’s Assistant from our Hospice group who had been coming out three times a week to care for Piper since we entered into their assistance program had recently left the company and this was the second visit by her replacement.

During her previous visit she had taken the time to view all the pictures of my wife that I have up on the wall near my bed.  In the midst of our conversation on Friday, she mentioned that if the pictures on the wall were any example, it looked like Piper really enjoyed a happy and active life that included a love for the great outdoors.  From that statement I began to share with her how the Piper currently laying there on the bed was so opposite to the “real” Piper that I’ve known and loved for almost 48 years now!

I am saddened at times when I realize that our younger two children’s spouses never got to meet the “real” Piper.  They have met members of her immediate family with which our kids felt might give their spouses a sense of Piper’s personality… but they’ve both had to concede that their Mom’s personality and ways were actually quite different from the rest of her clan.  As I’ve mentioned in the past, Piper’s always had a spontaneity about her… complete with a sincere smile and a happy, positive, caring and outgoing personality that tended to light up a room whenever she walked in.

Hopefully, I am not sounding like a broken record here, but I attribute much of who she was to her love for Papa God and the truth of His Word.  John 6:63 tells us that “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh accomplishes nothing. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.”  (International Standard Version)  There are two uses of the word “life” in this translation, but they are actually two different words in the original Greek.

The first talks of the Spirit who “gives life” and is probably better translated “quickeneth” as in the King James Version.  Thayer’s Greek Definitions defines this usage as “spiritual power to arouse and invigorate.”  Dictionary.com describes the meaning of “invigorate” as “to give vigor to; to fill with life and energy.”  And that my friends would very accurately describe my Piper!  I believe that those of you who have known her through the years would have to agree with that description.

In the second use of the word “life” Jesus is telling His disciples that the words He’s been speaking to them are “spirit and life.”  That word “life” is “Zoë” and describes “the state of one who is possessed of vitality or is animate; the absolute fulness of life; life real and genuine, a life active and vigorous, devoted to God, blessed, in the portion even in this world of those who put their trust in Christ…” (Thayer's)  This definition of “Zoë” also paints a pretty good resemblance to my wife!

Piper always had a real love for the Word of God and had a unique ability to quickly apply its meanings to her life in a very practical manner.  She was a gifted teacher and taught the practicality of the Word to our kids and a few generations of Youth and Children in the five or so churches we served in over the years.

I believe that her love and attention to the Word of God is what gave her that sparkling personality and life, and the foundation of joy that could not be shaken by negative reports.  I mean let’s face it here… Jesus Himself told us that His Words fill us with the spirit and a source of life that is not available anywhere else!  What it comes down to is the question of whether we choose to believe that or not!

Piper did… and the veracity of that life long decision carries forth today in me, our kids and in anyone who had the privilege of getting to know her.

What is the foundation of your life?

Have a great week, and as you do keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting to give me “life” today?”



PS:  And speaking of life… I was watering the flowering plant hanging from our porch this morning when a fuzzy grey little birdie popped up its head and began squealing from the water dumped on his head!  Then Mama bird flew out and was not too happy… so I made a quick retreat into the house!

Friday, June 29, 2018

Intervention!


On Tuesday the weather report called for thunder showers all day.  So, when the cloudy skies lightened up around noon, Piper and I hopped into the car and headed to Fuquay-Varina and our local CVS Pharmacy.  My thought was that once I had Piper in the car and out of any rainfall, that we could use the drive-up window to get the prescription we were almost out of and return home.  Once home I could back the car into the garage and help her out without as much as a drop of rain touching her!

I desperately needed a haircut as well, for I was looking rather scruffy around the edges, but I figured that I’d better not push my luck!  But as we neared the city limits I noticed that the skies over Fuquay were even brighter than at our house.  Then I heard that unmistakable quiet voice inside of me saying, “Go get a haircut for both you and Piper.”  Well, I’ve come to know that voice rather well over the last few years, so I didn’t argue but set my mental GPS to the Kroger Marketplace and the Great Clips salon right next door to the grocery!

The funny thing was that the normal handicap spots right in front of the salon were both taken so I had to go down to the end of the parking lot in order to find a spot wide enough for me to maneuver Piper’s chair around our car.  I almost started to question if I had “really” heard the small still voice inside of me or not since those two spots have always been open when we’ve gone to that shopping center.  But instead, I simply shook my head and parked the distance from the store, figuring that If I had really heard from the Lord that it wasn’t going to rain until we were done and back in the car.

By now it was around 1:00 pm and when we walked into the store there were two gals just standing there waiting for customers!  After all three hairdressers in the store welcomed us… including the one trimming a gentleman’s hair, the gal closest to us walked up to the computer, typed in our phone number and asked who was first... Piper or me!

Once we got to talking with the gal we knew in an instant that God was right about going there on that particular day.  Come to find out that our hairdresser is a longtime Christian, active in her church in Dunn, NC, listens to the same nationally known ministries that we do, and was quite familiar with the ministry where I went to Bible College!  I tell you, it was like old home week for us!  She also knew the Chaplain who ministers to us from Piper’s Hospice group.  From a Christian beliefs standpoint, it was quite a blessing that we had so much in common!

Needless to say, we were both quite blessed after our time spent at Great Clips that day.  And you know… it didn’t start to rain until I got Piper back in the car following our haircuts… then it stopped for a few moments when we got home so that I was able to get Piper out on the driveway and into the garage without getting wet… at all!  What do you think about that?

This morning I found myself quickly looking at John 6:63 where Jesus declared “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh accomplishes nothing.  The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” (ISV)  I didn’t get to study out the verse as thoroughly as I would have liked as I was interrupted by an adjuster from our home insurance company and the project manager from our roofing company as our roof was damaged during a thunder/hail storm at the end of last year.  Welcome to North Carolina’s fall weather… We discovered that those not-so-little golf ball size hail storms aren’t too kindly to old shingles!

What I did get from that verse today though, was that God’s Words contain the essence of the spirit and life, in contrast to the things of the world which can’t compare and always fall short of the goal!  I was reminded of Piper’s and my decision after the results came in from the first MRI that Piper had taken late in 2007 at an imaging center in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.

I remember that moment like it was yesterday.  I was alone that evening (thank God!) and straightening the displays in the power accessories aisle in the Garden Department at my job at the South Tulsa Home Depot when I got the call from our doctor’s office.  The nurse’s report took me by surprise and I had to make a quick exit outside to the back of the covered area where the soils and lawn chemicals were stored. 

It was cold outside and I was reasonably assured that no customers would be shopping out there at that time.  I needed a place to be alone and get my emotions under control!  Once that was accomplished, I quickly realized that in this case according to John 6:63 the flesh and/or the world’s answers to Piper’s prognosis would accomplish NOTHING!  This diagnosis has no cure in the natural…  The only answer we could look forward to finding was with God!

And Surprise!  When I got home that night and tearfully shared the information with Piper, she totally and unequivocally agreed! (I’m being a bit sarcastic here!  Of course, she agreed without even flinching for a moment!  That’s just who she is – full of faith!)

By the time we moved back home two years later, the eyes of our faith were totally focused on God and His Word.  God and His ways for healing Piper were our only agenda.  To be honest, it kind of took us by surprise when some Christian folks close to us immediately looked to the world for answers to Piper’s needs.  I think that is why we had sort of a disconnect with them.  It is like we were trying to communicate on two different wave lengths.

Since we made that decision on that evening back in 2007, we continually look for and expect God to intervene on our behalf in everything we do… Just like we did on Tuesday when we headed out to town to pick up Piper’s prescription.  I had prayed the night before that God would make a way for us to get to town without getting wet… and lo-and-behold He did!  And not only did we get the prescription but haircuts complete with encouraging words from the hairdresser! (The same thing happened during my conversation with the roofing company’s Project Manager.  Both he and the owner are active Christians!)

I like the way God works when we look toward and expect Him to intervene in our daily lives.  How about you?

Have a super-duper weekend!  And as you do, keep looking for Him and ask yourself… “Am I really expecting Him to intervene in my life today?”

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Natural Springs...


Our home here in North Carolina is located in Harnett County almost exactly 2 miles from the nearest town of Fuquay-Varina.  As the dash in the name indicates, the city is made up of two separate towns that combined to form one municipality in 1963.  Fuquay Springs, first known as “Piney Woods” was settled by William Fuquay, a French veteran of the Revolutionary War when he purchased 1000 acres from one of the original land grant families.

While plowing the fields of the family tobacco farm in the mid-1850’s, William’s great-great grandson Stephen discovered a mineral spring.  After a while Stephen came to the conclusion that the water flowing from the springs had healing properties.  Word of the springs began to spread and in 1860 Stephen sold the springs to a group of local investors to market the attraction and its waters.  The Fuquay Mineral Springs grew in popularity throughout the rest of the 1800s and into the early 1900’s.

The neighboring town of Varina came into existence when a young Confederate soldier, born just south of the springs who, having received moral boosting letters from a pen-pal named Varina during the “War for Southern independence,” returned home. On the way he looked up his pen-pal in Fayetteville, North Carolina, married her and returned to his family homestead.  He eventually named his post office and mercantile business located across from the springs after his wife.  When two timber rail lines crossed nearby, "Varina Station" was born.*

I thought it interesting as I continued to study Psalm 98:1 this morning that the beginnings of our new community was established around the healing properties of natural mineral waters discovered in the area.  So, it seems that our locale’s history and Psalm 98:1 both have that in common!  Psalm 98:1 encourages us by saying, “O sing unto the LORD a new song; for he hath done marvellous things: his right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the victory.” (KJV) 

The interesting connection comes with the Hebrew and Greek definition of the word translated into English as “Victory.”  Brown-Driver-Briggs describes the Hebrew word as meaning “to save, be saved, delivered.”  The Greek word translated from the original Hebrew is our old friend “sozo” which is used throughout the New Testament to describe what Jesus provided for us through His finished work.  According to Thayer’s it means “to save a suffering one (from perishing), i.e. one suffering from disease, to make well, heal, restore to health”  Strong’s says it infers, “to save, that is, deliver or protect (literally or figuratively): - heal, preserve, save (self), do well, be (make) whole.”

The vast majority of my many Biblical commentaries agree that Psalm 98:1 is a direct prophecy of Jesus.  Therefore, we can understand this verse as an encouragement for all Christians to spend time fellowshipping with Him in His Word in order to receive a fresh dose of His healing powers for the physical, spiritual, mental, emotional, and financial areas of our lives.

So just as the people from all over the Raleigh, Durham and neighboring communities flocked to the natural springs at Fuquay Springs at the turn of the century to receive the healing properties inherent in the waters there, we can save the ticket price of a train journey, or dusty carriage ride and just go into our quiet place with God each and every day and receive His healing properties that are inherent in His Word!

I’m sure by now that you must get the idea that Piper and I have always been Word people.  We very much believe in the tangible Spirit and life that is in the Word of God as found in our Bibles.  When Jesus says “the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life,” (John 6:63 KJV) we take Him at His Word… no questions asked!  We simply believe it, confess it and then take actions corresponding to what He says.

That is the way that we enter into fellowship with Him every day!  We come into His presence expecting God to be God and to do what He says He will do!  I noticed this morning as I was speaking out some Word while I bent over to lift Piper out of her transport chair and into her custom wheelchair, that something inside of me jumped when I spoke it!  When it happened, I had to stop in mid-step, look at Piper and say “WOW!”  Then I explained my happy reaction to her.  If she could of, I am sure that she would have jumped up and shouted Amen!  Is that the kind of reaction you get when you spend time with Him?  I hope so!

It was reported that after visitors spent time in the water at Fuquay Springs that they felt different, refreshed and maybe a bit healthier than before.  That is exactly the way that I expect to feel every time I step into the healing, revitalizing Word of God.  How about you?

Have a great rest of the week, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “What are you expecting when you spend time with God in His Word?”





Monday, June 25, 2018

Fresh Baked!


I had a conversation with one of my cousins over the weekend in which, among many other things, we discussed the baking of homemade bread!  She recalled how she used to make it on a weekly basis when first married many years past.  That got me to remembering the multitude of times that I walked into our little two-bedroom home on Will Scarlet Lane and immediately had my senses overcome with the unmistakable aroma of fresh baked whole wheat bread flowing throughout the house.

That must have been a thing among young wives in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s for them both to be unknowingly (I think?) enjoying a similar domestic hobby.  Just thinking about biting into a thick sliced, warm and butter-smeared piece of bread fresh out of the oven gets my mouth to watering.  Piper used to experiment with different baking pans when she was in her prime bread baking days.  I never quite knew what shape my sandwich was going to be when I opened my bag at work. 

Most times it was normal bread-slice-shaped, albeit much thicker and slightly unevenly cut… but at other times it could be round from the coffee cans she also used, square from some other baking tins or who-knows-what-shape from whatever container happened to catch her fancy when she was ready to pop the dough into the oven.  One thing that I ALWAYS knew though, was how that first bite was going to taste… Unbelievably Delicious!

So, what if the slice was an inch or thicker at one end and a half of an inch at the other end… anyway she sliced it… it was mouthwatering to me.  One thing that I did notice beyond all the accolades that I could sing about Piper’s homemade bread,  was that it just didn’t seem to stay as fresh for as long as the store-bought breads did.  I would assume that it was most likely a good thing as her bread didn’t contain any of the questionable preservatives added to the commercial brands so as to sustain a longer shelf life.

If Piper made bread on Monday, by Thursday my sandwiches were getting a little harder to bite into… and by the weekend… well, let’s just say that I am glad that my teeth were in such good shape back then!  But the extra strength needed for the bite and the chewing exercise were well worth all that good taste!  I only wish that I had that problem on my hands… or should I say, my teeth… today!

Well, did you know that the Psalmist wrote about a similar situation in Psalm 98:1?  The only difference being that instead of talking about homemade bread, he spoke of fresh baked praise unto God!  Now you might ask what I mean when I say fresh baked praise… It’s actually quite simple.  It is praise that is baked fresh inside of you every day by your personal time spent in God’s Word and the resulting singing of a NEW SONG unto to Him!  It comes from a heart that has been renewed with FRESH time in God’s Word and in daily prayer that results in being so overcome with the unmistakable aroma of His goodness, that all you can do is begin to let it out by singing a fresh NEW SONG of praise to Him.

Just like when I walked into the house while or soon after Piper popped a loaf of her homemade whole wheat bread into that 1950’s era, white gas stove that my Grandmother had loved to cook with!  Being overcome with all that goodness made me immediately begin to sing her praises… and highly anticipate savoring that first warm slice.

Psalm 98:1 tells us to, “Sing a new song to the LORD because he has done miraculous things. His right hand and his holy arm have gained victory for him.”  (God's Word ©)  As we talked about last week, the phrase “NEW SONG” translates in the original Hebrew as “fresh.”  The Greek word describes it as “new, especially in freshness.”  So, what is he trying to tell us?  Simply that our praises unto the Lord need to be a fresh and new event each and every day.

I’ve discovered over the years that it is hard to get a fresh blessing with left over revelations… just like the bread that gets harder and harder each day after it originally was baked.  As Christians we should be… or maybe I should say… NEED to be fellowshipping with the Lord in His Word every day, similar to a strong marriage where the husband and wife take the time to fellowship with each other each day throughout their lives.

Looking back on Piper’s and my, soon to be, forty-eight years together (5 dating/engaged and 43 married), that I can’t think of more than a hand full of days when I was away from home for ministry reasons, when we couldn’t communicate.  And I can guarantee that part of that communication included the heart-felt words “I love you!”  I can’t possibly imagine not talking with the love of my life each day… and the same can be said for my fellowshipping with my heavenly Father.

I therefore believe… in line with what the Psalmist declared… that a daily NEW SONG unto the Lord is important for us so that it is fresh and of the heart for TODAY’S experiences.  It is not something that is leftover from yesterday’s blessings.  Each day our communication and faith in, with and for God should be new – FRESH, otherwise we are only going by what our heads remember from the last NEW SONG we sung unto the Lord in the past.

So, what would you rather have… a FRESH slice of warm blessing slathered with the sweet delicious Word of God, or a slice from past days that is getting cold and hard?  The longer you eat the cold hard bread, the harder it is to remember what it is like to have a fresh-from-the-oven, melt-in-your-mouth warm and delicious piece of home baked bread!

Go ahead… give it a biteand you’ll never go back to the stale stuff again!

Have a great new week ahead, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “Am I expecting a FRESH warm slice of God’s Word today?”  YUMMMMMMMMMM….