The new house!

The new house!
This will be our view from the front porch & kitchen!

Friday, August 23, 2019

Expecting What I am Expecting!


I hope you’re not too tired of hearing me say this… but I was listening to a short audio clip of one of Piper’s recorded church sermons… it’s not like she preached a lot in the adult service, but when she did we always got a copy… and she was giving an example of the need for consistency in the building of our faith in the various areas of our lives.  She spoke in particular, about her need to hear quickly and clearly from the Lord when she went grocery shopping… with four kids at her side.


She learned a lesson early on about shopping with young kids when Joshua first became adapt to walking on his own.  I wasn’t with her at the time when the two of them went shopping at our local Lucky’s grocery store.  Up until that point, Piper had always seated Josh in the basket but on that day, he was getting a little squirmy and wanted down.  So, Piper finally relented, lifted him out of the basket and placed him next to her, standing on his own.  Well, before she could take his hand… he was gone!  

I remember laughing so hard when she vividly described how she had to literally run, red faced with embarrassment and some anger, after him through the aisles in the store until she finally caught up to him.  From that point on, with the other three kids, she chose to train them to walk next to her from a very young age… instead of just keeping them in the basket!

So, for her, shopping with the kids, on her busy schedule was a big deal and she naturally sought the Lord’s assistance… as she tended to do for every area of her life.  Some people may think (and some actually confronted her concerning the involvement of her faith in her day to day life) that this was un-needed, but you wouldn’t be able to convince her of that!


When I flipped off the tape, I turned to the dog laying near the front door, and declared with a smile, that “she had such a practical application of her faith.”  Her walk with Jesus was just who she was and what she did!  Then today as I was reading once again from Ephesians 3:20 in The Message paraphrase version of the Bible, it dawned on me that God actually encourages us to dream and to dream big… IN, THROUGH and FOR Christ… with a practical application of our faith, all along the way!  Paul declared that “God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!”


At times over the last two months since I moved here to Oklahoma, I have found myself overwhelmed with the goodness of God.  Like I said in my last post, He continues to do His “far more” in my life.  But you know, it kind of makes sense… for in many respects, I’ve come to expect it!  You see, Hebrews 11:1 states that: Faith assures us of things we expect and convinces us of the existence of things we cannot see.” (God’s Word ©) 


I have to admit though, that it still surprises me when the manifestations of my faith appear.  I was loading my groceries into my car in the middle of the Walmart SuperCenter near our apartment on Wednesday when I got the call from our realtor that the seller had accepted our offer on the house we liked.  I couldn’t help but jump up and down and pump my fist a few times with excitement at the news.  Then on the way out of the parking lot, I had to stop and praise Him as I became overwhelmed with his goodness.  Yes, my faith told me that this was exactly what I had expected… but it still overwhelmed me!


Am I different from anybody else?  NO!  NO! and NO again!  Please don’t get the idea that I write this blog simply to pat myself on the back.  My heart-felt desire is to point YOU to HIM and the peace, power, joy, goodness and faithfulness of HIM and His Word… that any active, committed and consistent in-their-faith Christian can tap into.  


It’s what HE wants for you… wouldn’t you want it too?  As a Christian… it is ours for the taking with the prerequisite’s that I mentioned above.  Why wouldn’t we earnestly desire God’s best in and for and through our lives?


Have a wonderful weekend, and as you do, say with me… “I am expecting what I am expecting from God and His Word to manifest in my life today!” *



*Based on Hebrews 11:1 and Ephesians 3:20

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Far More!


God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.  Glory to God in the church! Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus! Glory down all the generations! Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!                                                                                         Ephesians 3:19-20  MSG 



I’ve been checking out potential neighborhoods and a few houses ever since I arrived here just slightly two months ago.  I have to be honest though… the more I looked, the more disappointed I got.  It seemed like homes within the price point that I had set for myself were somewhat limited and older than I desired.


But you know?  The Lord didn’t get disappointed and told me after a few weeks, to keep in mind all the houses that we looked at before we found the perfect home for our needs and desires that we purchased in North Carolina.  So, with that boost, I began to pray that He would do… what I would consideranother miracle.  Somehow, somewhere out there… there was the perfect house for us, in the perfect location, at the perfect price.


I had originally set my mind toward a smaller town nearby, where the price point was closer to my financial range.  But again… as I looked… and even found some nice possibilities… it hit home that it was just too far away from my family, church and the stores and community that I enjoy being a part of.  I was letting what I thought I could afford to be my guide.


At that point, I decided to get serious with God and with my faith!  The scriptures tell us that God can do far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!”  As I looked at my options in the natural realm, all I could see was impossibilities and a lack of choices.  But when I looked at the Word of God, I began to see “far more” possibilities and lots of choices… as many as I could dream… and in fact… “wildly dream!”

Who or what should I believe?  Who or in what would you believe?  Well, I’ve been around this block before and decided to throw it all in… lock, stock and barrel!  And believe me when I say how great it is to have a fired up Christian Real Estate Agent at your side!


And His faithfulness has proven true once again!  As of this morning, we are officially under contract with another wonderful home… exactly what I desired, in the exact type of neighborhood I desired and at the exact price… well, actually a few thousand less… than I desired!  Isn’t God Good!


The house is a little larger than our North Carolina home but with a smaller nice sized yard.  It is located in a lovely neighborhood, in a newer section of Broken Arrow, on a quiet cul-de-sac and is one house away from and has great views of a golf course from both the front and back…  and Oh Yeah… did I mention the nearby picturesque walking trails.  AMAZING!  In my way of thinking, it is “far more” than what I thought, at the time, were some pretty wild dreams


So yeah… I’m a bit… okay, okay… A lot excited… and kind of in a fog at the same time.  So much has happened to me in the last year… not to mention the last two months.  In many respects, I feel like I’ve been driving down the highway with the top down on my old Mustang GT… with the pedal to the metal… the whole time!  


My head spins as I think about it all!  Piper’s been gone almost a year now, but yet it feels as if it were only this morning that she moved into her new residence in heaven.  In the meantime, I packed up a house… and a life… and drove half-way across the country, moved into a great little apartment, found a great new church, have spent many great hours with my kids and their family’s… and now I’m getting ready to move again!  WHEW!


How does that verse go where it says that we are to “trust the LORD with all our heart, and not rely on our own understanding?”  (Proverb 3:5)  I haven’t had time to think about it or try and understand anything!  So much has happened that I wouldn’t rely on my own understanding if my life depended on it!  But - God is God… and excels in and for our lives, when and where we release Him through our faith and actions and of course with those wild dreams!


So, do it!  Release Him in and for your life… Live on the wild side… in your faith, with your actions that are based on that faith in Him and His Word… and through your wild dreams.  I firmly believe that what we might consider to be wild is quite mundane to Him!  Have a wonderful rest of the week, and as you do, say with me… “I am expecting to release God into my life through my faith, through my corresponding actions of that faith and through my wildest dreams!”   

Monday, August 19, 2019

Continue to Continue!


How did everyone’s weekend go?  I looked at a couple of houses on different ends of town and was actually encouraged by what I saw.  Although there were a couple of red flags with each of these particular houses, it gave me a positive hope that the right one in the right location at the right price is just waiting out there for me to find!  I’m planning to hook up with my new realtor from the church that I’ve been attending and then begin the search in earnest this week.


And talking about searching in earnest… I noticed this morning while sitting out on the balcony and praying the two Ephesian prayers located in Ephesians 1:17-23 and Ephesians 3:16-21, that I kept inserting the word “continue” into my personalized confession of this portion of God’s Word.  Ephesians 3:19 took on a special significance as I prayed that “I would continue to grow in my intimate, experiential and personal knowing of Christ’s love, which takes me way beyond any natural knowledge or understanding, so that I may be completely filled with God.” (God’s Word © personalized)  That’s the kind of love that I want… and NEED to know in this daily changing - everything new - period of my life!


Our Pastor shared yesterday about Jonah and how he actually moved in the opposite direction that God had requested him to go.  His point was that as believers we are not only called to be “movers” but to move in the right direction!  This brought back many memories of Piper’s and my personal experiences during the last eight years of her earthly existence.  We quickly discovered that in order to be following the path that helped us the most during this battle, that we needed to continue moving along the road that He and His Word continually unfolded before us.


In my personal experience, I’ve realized that if I ever stopped moving forward along with Him, that I would actually begin going backwards… as everyone else would pass me by and leave me sitting in their dust!  Ephesians 1:12 tells us that “He planned all of this (to bring all of our history to its goal in Christ – Verse 1:10) so that we who had already focused our hope on Christ would praise him and give him glory.”  I wrote in my note book on Saturday as I read that verse that “I can’t imagine living even one day of my life without the hope and personal expectations of the gospel of Jesus Christ working in, through and for my life.”


That personal hope and expectation forces me to continue - continuing on with and for Him!  I had another inspiration in my moments of serenity on the balcony this morning where it hit me that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8 God’s Word ©)  He was the same in my past with Piper, He is the same with me today, and He will continue to be the same with me and with whatever or whoever in my future.  He doesn’t change… so why should I!  I will continue to do what has worked concerning my faith for us in the past for what He has planned for me in my present and future. (See: Ephesians 1:8-11)


Does that make sense to you?  If so… what are you planning to continue to do in your faith life for your present and future?


Have a great new week, and as you do, say along with me… “I am expecting to continue to exercise and grow my faith in my present and future… just as I have done in my past!”

Saturday, August 17, 2019

The Grooming of Jim Berruto


GROOM:   verb (used with object)


·       to tend carefully as to person and dress; make neat or tidy.

·       to clean, brush, and otherwise tend (a horse, dog, a person…etc.).

·       to prepare for a position, election, etc.:           - Dictionary.com




I found myself involuntarily raising a hand and shouting praises this morning as I studied my Bible on our balcony.  There was a slight breeze blowing and the deep blue sky was dotted with clouds.  And even though it was a little warm, the early hour and combination of the breeze and clouds made sitting out there to be a very enjoyable and peaceful activity!


Although, I’m not sure how peaceful my shouts were to others in the apartment complex. Most of the early birds had already left for work and the park-like settings infused between the buildings as well as the parking lot below me were calm and quiet… except for my audible intrusions!  I was excited though, for I was reading from Ephesians 1:6 where Paul tells us that we are to be giving God praise, glory and thanksgiving for the kindness and/or grace that He has given to us in Christ Jesus!


I couldn’t help but shout out my thankfulness and joy as I read those words and thought about all the kindnesses and overflowing grace that God repeatedly sent our way during the last eight years and the battle we fought for my wife’s life.


You see, while taking a shower even earlier in the morning, I suddenly had been captivated with the idea that God the Father had been “GROOMING” me throughout my Christian walk… even from my stumbling start back in the beginning of the 1970’s… to face the threat, protect and care for my wife during her deepest time of need… throughout what has been the most difficult trial that we had ever faced in our many years together.


I began to understand how He prepared and undergirded me through years of study of the foundational scriptures in my life like Joshua 1:5 and 9, 2Timothy 1:7, Philippians 4:13 and 19 and Ephesians 3:18-21.  In the midst of the shocking news we received from the doctors, the slow and devastating destruction of Piper’s ability to think, communicate and care for herself along with the awful visible changes to her lovely physical features and maybe worst of all, the vicious attacks of the devil against our character and faith, I was able to stand strong and focus fully on GOD and the truth of HIS WORD.  


When push came to shove… nothing else mattered!  It was almost like we automatically slipped into the default mode that God had been putting in us over the previous years!  I’ve heard special forces personnel say that in the explosive times of battle, all they could do was to trust in their training.  I believe that is exactly what happened with me.  All the negative things around me only served to make me stronger and more resolute to see God and HIS way through until the very end.


I love how The Message Bible paraphrases Ephesians 3:19.  It was the way I heard God speaking to me throughout Piper’s and my last battle together.  When times were at their roughest points, I would hear HIS voice saying to me, I can do anything, you know JIM—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! And I will do it not by pushing you around but by working within you, MY Spirit deeply and gently within you.” (personalized)  

The anger, the fear and the symptoms of that awful disease that were tossed our way did little to shake my faith because I KNEW that it was NOT God’s way. (See John 10:10)  For HIS ways come froth with hope, expectancy, peace, love and gentleness.  You see, HE had GROOMED me for this event.  When the worst of the worst came into my life… I simply responded with how HE had trained me!  I guess all those early mornings alone with HIM paid off!


How do you think that the LORD is GROOMING you?  What are the foundational scriptures in your life that you study on a regular basis?  Will you be able to depend on YOUR training when your worst nightmare becomes a reality?  With HIS GROOMING, that nightmare will be but a fleeting shadow when placed under the power and light of the WORD of GOD that is in you!


Have a great weekend, and as you do, say with me… “I am expecting God’s training… that WORD that HE has been GROOMING me with, to kick into high gear when the nightmares of life hit home.”

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Happy Birthday Piper!



“Don't be sad because the joy you have in the LORD is your strength."    Nehemiah 8:10



Today is a special day to me as it would have been Piper’s 66th birthday.  When the kids were growing up, we had a tradition when celebrating a birthday, where we tried (budget allowing) to prepare whatever meal the honored individual requested.  This morning I had to ellicit the help of our kids in order to remember what Piper’s normal birthday request was.  You see, she didn’t necessarily have a favorite meal that she asked for each year… like most of the rest of us did.


So, the kids sent texts back naming various “favorites” of hers over the years including salmon, spaghetti and meatballs with a big tossed green salad and garlic bread, tacos… with grated carrots as part of the garnish of course… and barbequed hot dogs with Josh’s home-made salsa and chips.  The one thing I did remember though, was the chocolate cake and mint-chip ice cream for dessert.  


She definitely had a sweet tooth, but was very controlled in her yielding to it!  She’s the only person I’ve known who could take a week to eat a candy bar… just a little bite here and another bite there throughout the week!  When I went through the items in her purse before the move out here, the paraphernalia inside included a couple of granola bars and numerous small bags of Reese’s Pieces!


But ah… her occasional yielding to those sweet confections only seemed to highlight her outgoingly sweet personality.  Her almost tangible glow, her bright eyes, her encouraging words and that contagious smile were the marks of Piper that caused her to stand apart from most others.


The joy that encapsulated her entire being was also one of the major keys to her spiritual, mental, emotional and physical strength… which made the attack of Alzheimer’s upon her brain and body a total surprise to those of us close to her.  I could probably count the times on less than one hand, when I saw her with a sad look upon her face.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the idea of “turning a frown upside down” started after someone’s interaction with my wife!


So, with many poignant thoughts and memories, I wish you a very happy birthday today Sweetie!  I mentioned in the first paragraph that this “would have been” Piper’s 66th Birthday but in reality… I guess it still is!  She’s just having her party in another realm!  I hope that she thoroughly enjoys whatever feast is prepared for her from the heavenly kitchens and as she bites into her large slice of chocolate cake, takes a little peek down to us as we are thinking about how much her personal presence in our lives blessed us!

Monday, August 12, 2019

10 Times!


The heat index today is projected to reach as high as 112 degrees here in the Tulsa area of Oklahoma!  But that’s okay with me as I plan to enjoy the comfort of my air-conditioned apartment while I catch up on my “To-Do” list.  Last week was crazy busy… but I thoroughly enjoyed it.


I had some good friends from the Denver area visit toward the end of the week, so I spent the first three days completing many urgent “move” projects, cleaning house… what little there is to clean… and getting a much-needed haircut.  When they arrived on Thursday afternoon, we had a wonderful and whirlwind time eating at nice restaurants, touring around the area, playing with the dog, who I think thought that our guests came solely to visit him… and having lots of great conversations as we caught up on the happenings of each other’s families and personal lives.  I can’t say enough about our time together… I enjoyed it tremendously and was blessed beyond measure.


On Saturday morning I attended a men’s fellowship breakfast with the church I’ve just begun attending and was received with open arms and made to feel like I’d been there forever.  What a terrific group of Godly men!  I do believe that I have found my new church home.


Only a week or so ago I was wondering if I’d ever fit into the new chapter of life that I was kind of tossed into with Piper’s passing almost a year ago now.  I’ve heard stories of individuals who have lost a spouse falling into a sort of void, or life-less no man’s land for months or sometimes years.  And I will admit that there were a few days after the initial busy-ness of the move from North Carolina, where I faced the reality of life without my wife without any known plan or purpose… which, let me tell you… could be a very scary place if you let it!


But I am so thankful for Piper’s and my years of training in and dependence on the Word of God during the difficult times of life… especially when you can see absolutely NO physical answer to your situation… when His Word is the ONLY direction leading you, and the ONLY hope you have to hang onto!


Hebrews 11:6 tells us that “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (KJV)  To me the key to this verse is the power behind our efforts to “diligently seek Him” especially when it looks like there is absolutely no answer to our need on the horizon.

I’ve been reading Ephesians 1:3-14 for a few weeks now.  On most days I sit on our balcony in the early hours of the day with my cup of coffee, my Bible and notebook, before there is much activity around the apartment grounds below me.  Proverbs 8:17 instructs us by saying: “If you seek Me early and diligently, you will find me”  …and I would have to say that those quiet early morning appointments with God that I have enjoyed for years, have been a life-saver for me!


I noticed this morning while reading in the beginning of Ephesians, that the phrases “through Christ,” “in Christ,” or “on Christ” appear 10 times.  Now, I may not be a Biblical scholar but I definitely get the idea that the Apostle Paul who penned this epistle, wanted to make a point here!  As the writer discusses the grace of God, His forgiveness of our failures, His lovingkindness toward those of us who believe in Him, the purposes and plans that He has designed specifically for you and me and the many other blessings that He has destined for us to have, Paul continually tells us that they are all accomplished and available THROUGH, IN and ON Christ!


So, let me ask you then… if this is true… doesn’t it only make sense that we would want to diligently seek HIM within the truth of HIS WORD on a regular and consistent basis for everything that we face in our lives?  


That may sound like a NO-BRAINER, but you would be surprised to see where people turn when things come up that turn their lives upside down!  Piper and I were most definitely surprised with the reactions of some people we knew, when they were faced with the realities of Piper’s deteriorating health.  


Do you know how you would respond when faced with a potentially life-changing situation?  For us, the decision was made well-before the emergency ever came up… how about you?


Have a blessed week, and as you do, say with me… “I am expecting to diligently focus my hope and efforts THROUGH, IN and ON Christ, when the situations of life turn sideways before me!”

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

NAMES!


“He (Jesus) is far above all rulers, authorities, powers, lords, and all other names that can be named, not only in this present world but also in the world to come.”   

                                                                              Ephesians 1:21 God’s Word ©  



This scripture along with its sister verses in Philippians 2:9-11 are the key verses that Piper and I followed for direction back as the initial results of her brain scans began to come in when we were originally out here in Oklahoma back in 2009.  The doctors were a little confused as the results of her tests seemed to say one thing while her physical and mental condition said something else.  The eight-page report from her interactive hours spent with the Neuropsychologist declared that she should be home under 24-hour care but yet she was still functioning independently, doing everything she normally did except for driving.

So, with much prayer and discussion we agreed that the Lord was instructing us to return home to California in order to reconnect with our network of family and friends as well as the connections we had developed over the years.  It seemed to be the logical way to regroup and find out what was really going on with her.  Piper and I both had the clear indication that He wanted us to find the “name” of what was assailing her thinking abilities and then command it to “bow” its knee before the name of Jesus. (Philippians 2:10-11)

As I sat on the balcony earlier this morning with a hot cup of java in one hand and my favorite God’s Word © translation Bible in the other, reading from the Ephesian prayers at the end of chapters one and three, I suddenly had some retrospective thoughts on the validity of our actions back then.  Like a light bulb going on in a darkened room, I realized that we not only had the one name of Alzheimer’s trying to take precedence over our situation, but other names that were adamantly being suggested to us from people who tried their best to influence our circumstances.

Names like fear, deception, doubt and unbelief did their best to take a stronghold in our decision-making processes.  These along with many more negative names were regularly placed before us.  But as I’ve stated before… they came too little, too late for us!  Our minds were made up way before we ever drove out of the Sooner State on the way back home to the Golden State!

We had already resolved to put Alzheimer’s and any other name under the name that “is far above all rulers, authorities, powers, lords, and all other names that can be named.” (Ephesians 1:21)  Some of those names may have surprised us along the way, but we never allowed the surprises to move us away from the solid foundation we knew we had in the name of Jesus.

I would imagine that all of you have had many different “names” try to influence both the good and the bad times in your lives.  But where you place those names will make all the difference in the outcomes of the events that tend to shape your very existence.  Do you place them on a pedestal in the center of your daily life where you have to look at them on a regular basis, or do you quickly place them under the much more powerful and productive name of Jesus where they quickly lose their influence and relevance?

Have you ever really considered all the various names that you entertain in your day to day activities?  Sometimes we react to certain names without even considering what we’re doing.  Often, we are just conditioned by the things that we read, watch on TV or hear on the news in our response to the different names that we hear.  Maybe it is time to reconsider where we place the names that we hear each day?  Maybe it is time to place them where they belong… under the all-powerful name of Jesus!

Just saying… Think about it!

Have a great mid-week, and as you do, decide to say with me that… “I am expecting to place every name I hear under the mighty name of Jesus!”