The new house!

The new house!
This is our spring and summer view from the kitchen of our new home in Oklahoma!

Friday, December 30, 2011

He Is!

This morning as I was reading in Hebrews 3:5-6, two statements jumped out at me:  “Moses was…” and “Jesus is…”  Verse five says that “Moses was a faithful servant in God’s household,” while the next verse counters with, “But Jesus is a faithful son in charge of God’s household.”  (Gods Word ©)  Moses was a mighty man of God, a patriarch that we hold in high esteem, a man that God spoke to as a personal friend (Exodus 33:11), an historical hero of the faith who led the children of Israel out of slavery to the door of the promised land.  But he was still a man who was…  Jesus is the one “which is, and which was, and which is to come…”  (Revelation1:8 KJV)

As I pondered that statement, I traveled back in my mind to the early 1970’s to a time when my wife (my girlfriend at the time!) and I had started a college-career group at the Baptist church my wife was born and raised in, and I had begun attending since being captivated my that spunky young women who sat behind me in my high school English class.  As a group, we had taken the name that my wife had suggested, and called ourselves “Faith Action!”  (it’s kinda funny… over the years my wife has come up with the names for many of the groups, pets, projests and churches – including where we attend now!)

At that time Christian “Rock Operas” were the new and “in thing.”  The Broadway play “Jesus Christ Superstar” had taken the nation by storm and other similar productions were beginning to crop up.  One day as I was sitting in the back seat of my parents 1965 Chevelle station wagon, as we were coming home from a short trip, I suddenly had the inspiration to write.  So I grabbed the college notebook I had sitting next to me and began to pen furiously!  What arose from that conglomeration of storyline, notes and music became our own rock opera which I had entitled “Jesus is Now!”

While I did not compose all the songs, I did write the entire story, play directions, individual character lines and the title song.  It was a big but fun undertaking and involved our entire Faith Action group as well as members from the church’s youth group.  My wife led the band and played the organ as well as the piano in the dozen or so songs that were contained within the play.  I directed (with some assistance from my mother-in-law for the singing parts) as well as played the electric guitar in the opening song and sang a couple of duets with my wife.

The production was actually quite a local success when you consider that we were barely in our twenties and had never attempted anything of this magnitude before!  We had advertising in the local paper and even received a note of encouragement from then President Nixon… one of the cast members had sent a note to the White House and they actually responded!!!  The auditorium which easily seated over 300 was filled for the two performances and we had a couple dozen people come forward for salvation at the altar call at the end of each showing.

The title and purpose of that production back in 1972 or 73 that declared that “Jesus Is (relevant) Now!” is what the writer of Hebrews was stating when he declared that “Christ is…!”  Moses did many great and wondrous acts in his time, but he is with us no more.  Jesus did many great, supernatural and wondrous acts on this earth many years ago, and yes He died, but then He rose again from the dead!  He “IS” alive and with us as well as for us today!   His reign will never end.  His love for us, as well as His strength and wisdom given to us will also never end!  The promises He makes to each of us in His Word are just as true and vibrant as they were when they were penned by the writers of the Bible thousands of years ago.

The “Rock Opera” that I penned and we performed some 38 years ago is long gone and forgotten about.  It was wonderful when it was, but it’s time is long gone.  The one thing about it though, that is still very much current and active is the point that we tried to express to those who attended, being that Jesus “IS” for everyone today, tomorrow and forever!  He is the everlasting Savor to all who will reach out and receive Him, at anytime, in any place.

If you are reading this today and have not received The Savor of your soul and of your life into your heart, then this can be your day of salvation!  Simply say, “Jesus I confess that TODAY you are my Lord, and I believe in my heart that God raised you from the dead.  Lord, Jesus, come into my heart!” Then begin to thank and praise Him!  I am sure that you’ll sense His presence almost immediately.*

If you already have that new abundance of life flowing in you, then find someone today and continually throughout this New Year, who you can share this with and be like the angel in that little town of Bethlehem when he announced “Today your savior, Christ the Lord was (or can be) born (in you!)”  (Luke 2:11 Gods Word ©) Have a great, safe, blessed and happy New Years!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What GOOD THINGS am I expecting in this NEW YEAR?”

* PS:  If you made that declaration of faith today, please email me at so that I can share your new found joy with you!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Howdy Pardner!

“Brothers and sisters, you are holy partners (with Christ) in a heavenly calling.  So look carefully at Jesus the apostle and chief priest about whom we make our declaration of faith.”  (Hebrews 3:1 Gods Word © - parenthesis mine)

As I read this verse toward the end of my study time this morning, I began to reflect over all the projects that Jesus and I have “partnered” with over the years.  I noticed that when I had “looked carefully at Jesus” throughout the entire term of the project, that it turned out successful, but when my attention wavered, the results were not always as positive.

In particular, I reviewed what started as a personal ultimatum from God during a week long conference on the grounds of Rhema Bible Training Center in the summer of 2003 that ended up as a life changing adventure for my wife and I and our younger two children.  It was a directive from God that I had played around with for many years but knew, in that instant, that I had to obey!  It was the word to pack up, move to Broken Arrow Oklahoma and attend Bible School.

I know that I have mentioned this before, but it brings forth a good example for today’s blog posting.  Once I yielded to that word I did not discuss it with anyone except for my wife for almost one year.  Instead, I yielded all my cares and concerns about the big step to the Lord in personal prayer.  Once I made the decision public, it was not overwhelmingly accepted by everyone in our immediate and extended family, but the Lord had told me that everything would be better than before and I held tightly on to His promise.

As I look back now, I can see how He delicately brushed each stroke of the painting for us and I rejoice that I held on firmly to His directions.  Our two children’s lives have been blessed beyond measure.  They have grown into confident, well trained and loving ministers of the gospel.  They learned to stand strong on the personal directions that the Lord gave to them even when family members tried to persuade them differently and have pursued through struggles to enjoy the delights of obedience to God even when others have not understood or felt confident in what they knew to do.  They, like my wife and I, made leadership decisions, stood firm on the foundation of His word and are reaping the results of the victory that is still unfolding today.

Our key to this victory was that we consistently “looked carefully at Jesus.”  We had partnered up with Him in that decision.  Our part of the agreement was to simply obey Him, no matter what or who came against us, and let Him do the rest!  It wasn't always easy and we had more than a few burps along the way, but the results were exactly in line with what He had told me during that convention in 2003!

Once again I think that this is a good way to enter into the New Year.  Make the decision now to partner up with Jesus in everything you set out to do in 2012.  Keep your eyes focused on Him throughout any turbulent times and then be thankful as the rewards of the “declaration (and stand) of (your) faith” come into physical manifestation.  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting to PARTNER Up with Him on today?”

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Only 4 More Days...

Wow… counting today there are only four more days until the end of the year!  To me 2011 has literally flown by!  I can’t get over the fact that it is the end of December already.  My mind and body (as evident by the t- shirt and shorts that I’m wearing!) are still lounging around in the July timeframe!  The warm, dry weather that we have been experiencing here in northern California helps, but I’m sure you understand what I’m trying to say!

As I was sleepily lying in bed this morning, my mind wandered off from the idea of getting up to the perfect sacrifice that Jesus was for mankind.  That makes for quite a diversity in subjects doesn’t it!  The main focus of my thoughts centered on Jesus’ perfectly unblemished human form in the same order that the sacrificial lambs were demanded to be by the law.  From there I saw the holes in His hands and side as well as the stripes on His back.

Then it hit me…  Jesus’ body was permanently scarred for the forgiveness of my sins and for the redemption of my soul and the health of my body!  (see I Peter 1:19 and I Peter 2:24)  I have to tell you, that was a sobering thought in which to start one’s day! It didn’t take much effort to get up at that point and go right down to my study to begin looking at the writer of the book of Hebrews in-depth explanation of the subject of Jesus as the perfect sacrifice.

I would imagine that it was God’s perfect timing in the bringing of that particular subject to my mind as we prepare to close the books on another year.  For me the realization of what Jesus did will cause me to look back at 2011 through His eyes of love and grace.  To dwell on the good things, the expectations that were met and the grace that was given instead of holding on to the hurtful words and actions that occurred. 

It is also a call as to how we should come to expect the events that will unfold in 2012.  It kind of forces one to put on a whole new and highly expectant set of glasses from which to see the coming year.  It makes one remember that He already carries the scars of our past, so why should we!

Jesus’ actions of love that began in a tiny manger and ended at His assumption to the throne of God over 2000 years ago is the current power source for us to excitedly expect the best in the coming year.  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What GREAT THINGS am I expecting today (and in the New Year)?”

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Looking Over and Beyond

Good morning everyone (well… at least its morning here!).  As I looked out at our kitchen patio a few moments ago, my eyes were swept over and beyond the back fence.  I noticed that the tall maples in the center of my view were still clinging to their shimmering gold and deep red leaves, that the majestic Redwoods towering over them to their left were looking elegant with their deep green plumage, the clear blue sky was brightly hued and the weather was crisp at a balmy 40 degrees! I sat at the kitchen table entranced by the picture that was unfolded before me and then drew back my focus and noticed the brown leaves that needed to be raked, the bushes that needed to be trimmed and the deck that needed to be swept within the confines of my immediate yard.

That little experience got me to thinking about the confidence we are to have in the promises of God.  Once He has made a promise to us, it cannot be changed.  He will not withdraw it, water it down or let it go to naught!  Hebrews 6:18 says that “God did this so that we would be encouraged.  God cannot lie when he takes an oath or makes a promise.  These two things can never be changed.”  (Gods Word ©)

Even when everything within your immediate view looks like a mess and needs to be cleaned up, His promise is still ours to stand in faith for.  It lies just beyond our initial plane of focus.  And His promise is completely beautiful, clear, crisp and enchanting as it is set in the colors that only His love for us can provide!

So if you need a little encouragement today, look over and beyond your immediate circumstances to where His awesome scenery prevails over the muddle that you may currently be seeing in your life.  Hebrews 6:19 goes on to say that “We have this confidence as a sure and strong anchor for our lives.”  (Gods Word ©)  What else can I say?  Sit back, be at peace and enjoy His perspective on your life.

Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What Good Things am I expecting To SEE today?”

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Day After...

Ah… The day after Christmas!  I’m not entirely sure why, but I have always enjoyed the day after Christmas.  Sometimes even more than Christmas day itself!  A little weird huh?  Maybe it’s because I can finally slow down and soak in the Spirit of Christmas after all the holiday rush, or enjoy watching the kids and others as they get to play with all their new gifts, or because the neighborhood is so quiet or maybe it has to do with its proximity to the end of one year and the beginning of another.  Whatever the cause, it is just a time to relax, contemplate life and be thankful.

I had to make a quick run to the local CVS Pharmacy for a few items, and I was amazed to observe that the store was practically void of customers.  I was disappointed that all the holiday ware shelves were very sparse, but at least they hadn’t put up their 50% off signs yet.  Therefore the store still had the Christmas feel.  That was one thing I didn’t care for when I worked in the garden/seasonal department at Home Depot while attending school in Oklahoma.  They had us pulling down all the Christmas items a week before the special day in order to get a jump on the Spring resets!  It almost made me feel like Christmas was over before it even began!

Today is just a good day to relax!  So I encourage you to let His “good news for you, a message that will fill everyone with joy” (Luke 2:10 Gods Word ©) to fill your heart and to kick back and be thankful for all the GREAT things that the Lord has provided for you this year. Have a good day, stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What GOOD THINGS am I expecting today?”

Friday, December 23, 2011

Perfect Timing!

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world…. And everyone went to his own town to register.”  (Luke 2: 1 & 3 NIV) 

“Look at it this way: At the right time, while we were still helpless, Christ died for ungodly people.”  (Romans 5:6 Gods Word ©)

After combining these two scriptures this morning, I found myself in a study of the many things that had to come together in order for Jesus to be born exactly when He did in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago.  From the unique perspective of peace in the known world, to the sudden ordering of a census, it is amazing to see that God had a perfect plan that came about in His perfect timing.  Jesus’ birth came about identically to the many Old Testament prophecies that foretold of His coming.  (check out Micah 5:2 for example…)

The supernatural events that began in that little stable in Bethlehem, came to fruition 33 years later when Jesus was crucified for our sins and failures, died, was resurrected from the dead and then returned, as a conquering hero, to heaven to begin His reign at the right hand of our father God.  For many people back then, as well as today, the events that occurred did not line up with how they thought it should have happened, so they don’t believe.  They are still waiting for the promised Messiah.  They missed it because they were looking through the limited aspects of their own understandings.  God had His plan, and He did it His way!

The events in Bethlehem that night, triggered a revolution that would forever change the world… one soul at a time!  It is an event whose announcement God could have shook the world with.  Instead He chose to have his angels appear to a lonely group of shepherds on a hillside just outside of town.  God chose to announce the coming of His Son to the common man.  To you and me!  He wanted us to know that He loves us and is available to anyone at anytime.  He chose not to come as the ruler of an earthly kingdom, but as a conduit that would enable man to become rulers of a heavenly kingdom.

This Christmas as you celebrate your family traditions, remember the events back in Bethlehem and go forth into the New Year with the understanding of the love, forgiveness and power that that little baby wrapped in swaddling clothes brought to you, me and the rest of the world!  See Him not as just a little baby, but as a mighty king who came to make a way for us to attain righteousness with God, and become an everlasting member of His royal family.

With that in mind, I pray that you will have the best, blessed and most joyous Christmas that you have ever experienced!  Remember that God has His perfect plan and His perfect timing in the fulfillment of everything you are standing in faith for.  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What Blessing am I expecting To Receive and To Be today?”

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Hope

So I was sitting at my desk today, fighting off the blaws of a cold, not too excited about anything when I realized that the dog was upstairs by herself, rolling around on the bed, barking and having a blast!  The sounds of her fooling around above me (and probably messing up the whole bed…) snapped me out of my doldrums and forced me to think of something besides myself.

The first thing I did was to quietly sneak up the stairs so that I could catch a glimpse of the dog’s antics.  As I snuck my head around the banister she suddenly stood to attention with the funniest, most sheepish look that I have ever seen!  With that I could not help but to burst out into laughter!  As I came back down the stairs with Mandie on my heels, I began to think about the joys of the Christmas season.  It is a time when most people reach out to others.  It is the time of year when donations to charitable organizations are abundant, and I notice that more of my neighbors tend to say hello during this month than at other time of the year!

It is a time to be happy because it is the celebration of the hope that was born a few thousand years ago in a little stable in Bethlehem.  This year I also have a greater appreciation as to why it can be a tough time of the year for those who are experiencing rough times or have lost loved ones in the recent past.  But as with our dog barking upstairs, totally oblivious to the world around her, I think that to be happy or not comes down to a personal decision or choice.

We can choose to look in the mirror, feel the pain and live in despair, or to look above, feel His love and live in comfort and joy.  I for one, choose the latter of the two decisions for,

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus name.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand. *

What will your choice be for the rest of this season?  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

*    My Hope Is Built (The Solid Rock) Words by Edward Mote, circa 1834; Music (Solid Rock) by William B. Bradbury 1863

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Lonely White Rose

This morning as I was sitting at the kitchen table with my wife, I found myself staring  absent mindedly out the patio window when I suddenly focused on two lone white blossoms on our otherwise barren rose bush.  What caught my attention was the contrast of the pretty flowers in the midst of the messy, brown, leave strewn garden that I have yet to clean up after the summer months.  It made me think of an oasis in the middle of a desert.  It also was a vivid picture of the scriptures that I had studied earlier in the day.

I had opened my Bible this morning to Romans chapters four and five.  The end of chapter four talks about the faith of Abraham while the beginning of the next chapter reminds us of the love that Jesus has for us.  The verse that really jumped off the page to me was Romans 5:8.  It says that “Christ died for us while we were still sinners.  This demonstrates God’s love for us.”  (Gods Word ©)  The reality that Jesus died for sinners and failures, as well as for those who have done awful atrocities against their fellow mankind struck hard at my conscious.  Jesus loved all of us so much that He said I am going to sacrifice myself so that anyone can have the opportunity to be right with my father.  And it is not something that He forced upon us either.  He has given us the freedom of decision to take His offering or not.

The thought that brought this all home to me, was that if He could so love people who would spit on Him, turn away from Him and seek other Gods instead of Him then I could also show a little more love and have a little more faith in people who come against me.  It is not my place to criticize, judge or try to crucify those who make accusations against or are just not nice to me.  My job is to be like the Master and simply forgive them and love them.  That reaction to hurtful situations opens the door for God to do a work in their hearts.  It also frees me to continue to do what God has called me to do without carrying any extra baggage.

God’s love toward the unlovely is similar to how those couple of white rose blossoms changed the otherwise bleak patio scene into one of warmth, beauty and hope for the coming Spring.  With that in mind, I would encourage you to take the opportunity the rest of this busy week before Christmas to be a white rose in someone’s otherwise bleak and needful life.  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What BLESSING am I expecting TO BE today?”

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Joys Of Christmas

Well, our official Christmas calendar of events started off with a blast last night.  My older son came over with our two grand daughters and we had non stop fun for the next 4 ½ hours!  Previous to their arrival I had pulled out some children’s games, toys and coloring pages along with a brand new box of crayons and placed them on the coffee table in our living room.  As soon as the girls came in the house they made a beeline for the table!  They colored pictures for Mema (my wife), built Play Mobile teepees, put together puzzles, played our youngest daughter’s violin and our piano, thoroughly enjoyed our maze of upstairs rooms and closets and drove the dog crazy!  (Don’t get me wrong, the dog enjoyed every minute of it!)

When dinner time neared we ordered some pizzas, drove out to pick them up and then sat back (well… with two kids under eight to say we sat back would be stretching the truth just a little…) to watch the San Francisco Forty Niners annihilate the Pittsburg Steelers 20-3 before a national audience on Monday Night Football. It was one of the most enjoyable nights that I have experienced for quite some time, and even though my wife was very quiet throughout most of the night, I believe that she also had a very good time.

As I shut the door when they left, I turned and glanced around the living room.  The coffee table was a mess of games, puzzle pieces and colored pictures.  Crayons were strewn around the table top and on the floor and the area rug was askew.   As I continued my observations of the after effects of the night’s activities, my wife’s and my eyes met and we both broke into big laughing smiles.  The dog had kind of a glazed looked on her face as she jumped on the couch and wrapped herself around my wife.  I went over and joined the two of them and we sat back in quiet thought as we soaked in the great family time we had.

I guess that is one of the special things about Christmas.  It is a time to enjoy family and friends with unabashed giving and lavish fun!  At one point our youngest grand daughter Lily came up to my wife and I and started dancing after I had taken down a ballerina Christmas ornament.  When I told her that I was enjoying her dancing, she quickly corrected me and let me know that she was “ballerining, not dancing!”  She was totally caught up in her performance and the results were priceless to us.

I pray that the results of your family times this Christmas will also be priceless to you.  Don’t allow yourself to get frustrated with all the things that you have to do in preparing for this holiday.  Just relax, purpose to enjoy yourself and let the love of Jesus flow in and through you.  Have a great Christmas week.  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What GREAT THINGS am I expecting today?”

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Hidden Photo

I have a Geodex life planning system book that I have used since my early days as a Production Supervisor at Hewlett Packard back in the 1980’s.  This book, which could be loosely compared to a “Day Timer” with a definite twist toward management, has been my constant companion.  Over the years I have customized the contents to fit my needs and lifestyle.  Besides my daily calendar and “To Do List” it also contains my Bible study notes, our checkbook ledger, and a variety of other sections for the different ministry and business projects that I am currently involved with or are in the planning/dream stages.  It is usually the first thing that I open each day as I prepare to spend my morning quiet time with the Lord.

Many years ago I placed a couple of vacation pictures of my wife in a clear vinyl pocket at the very back of the book.  This made it easy to flip open and enjoy the view!  Last Friday as I sat at my desk in the early morning, I grabbed the Geodex to re-read a note I had taken and absent mindedly open the book to the last page.  As I enjoyed the pictures I reminisced about the many 2 or 3 day “Holidays” that we had taken over the years at this little lodge about one hour north of our home town on Coast Highway One.  I clearly remembered taking the 2 pictures and the really special time we had during that particular weekend.  Thinking that I might copy the pictures to put on my computer desk top, I pulled them out of the sleeve to take a closer look at the finish quality.  As I did, I noticed that there was another print stuck between the two that I had placed back to back.

When I gingerly pulled the photos apart I suddenly gasped for breath as another unrelated photo of my wife emerged!  She looked simply gorgeous!  I am not kidding when I say that it literally took my breath away!  I do not recall taking the picture, although I am sure that I did because she was standing in one of my favorite poses.  (Not sure if I mentioned it before, but I used to do a lot of professional wedding and outdoor portrait photography…)  It was one of those pictures that was perfectly lighted.  Her hair was highlighted with a perfect crown of backlight and it looked as though the wind was lightly blowing it back in a feathery wisp. The photo was not dated but I would have to guess that it was taken about 15 years ago as she had long hair that went quite a ways down past her shoulders, and while I recognize the outfit she is wearing I do not recognize the setting.   

This morning as I was completing my study I leaned back in my chair and looked up at the photo that I had since hung on the wall above my desk.  With a firm determination I thought of the holiday letter that I had written to my wife’s family before Thanksgiving.  In it I had listed what I hoped would be some helpful hints for them in their interactions with her during the holiday gatherings.  As I have mentioned before, the changes with my wife have been a very difficult process for them to handle.  They do not communicate with us too much and I felt impressed to send the letter to ease their fears.

In the letter I asked them to not look at what they see on the outside of my wife, but to look inside to where the real Piper still exists.  That comment came zinging back to me as I glanced at that stunning photo out of our past.  On Friday when I had discovered the photo I broke down in tears as I sat by myself in my study.  Today I confidently smiled and resolved to be like my heavenly Father who “calleth those things that be not as though they were.”  (Romans 4:17 KJV)  His word is infallible and He has provided for my wife’s healing and good health as part of the sacrifice that Jesus made many, many years ago.  When Jesus presented His perfect blood in the Holy of Holies in heaven, He exchanged His sinless, unstained blood as a sacrifice for my wife’s disease.  And just as God’s promise to Abraham finally came into being, my wife’s manifested healing will also be visibly evident.

I’m sure that this is a message of hope for someone else today!  If you need that word, think about Abraham and Sarah who could only see death when God had promised them life.  Be like Abraham who “when there was nothing left to hope for… still hoped (or expected) and believed” and “became a father of many nations.”  (Romans 4:18 Gods Word ©) Don’t give up, you’re on the brink of a miracle, or as Oral Roberts said, “Something good is going to happen to you!”  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What GOOD THINGS am I expecting today?”

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Vacation!

Twas the Friday before Christmas vacation
when all through the house,
not a creature was stirring,
not even a mouse (thank God!),

All was ready, and all was okay
prepared for what would soon be about
for at the end of this day,
school would be out!

Yes!  Today is the Friday before Christmas Vacation.  For kids, it is probably the second most anticipated day of the whole school year.  (The day before summer vacation being #1) I know that I always looked forward to this day both when I was in school as well as when my kids were at home.  Even though we home schooled our children, this day still meant time off to play and become fully absorbed in the Christmas festivities!

I get a little annoyed when I hear people around me, or on the radio or TV making snide remarks like: “Oh no… the kids are going to be home for 2 weeks”  Many of us see the raising of our kids as one of the most important jobs that has been given to parents.  Why then would you not want to spend more time with them during their school vacations… and especially during this vacation when we are celebrating the birth of our Savior and the physical unfolding of God’s plan for our salvation!

Well, even though my kids are all grown up with most of them living out of state, I am still excited about the prospects of Christmas vacation!  Once I got through the dilemma of the tree that I mentioned in yesterday’s blog (12/15/11“Overcoming The Big ‘D’”) I set my determination back to my original confession that this was going to be our best Christmas ever. 

No, it won’t be like Christmas’ in the past… it is going to be even better!  For openers, my oldest son Josh and his kids are coming over this Monday and we are all going to eat pizza and popcorn and watch the San Francisco 49ers play on Monday Night Football.  That’s a first!  My two granddaughters are avid Niner fans so we are all going to don our fan apparel, eat, shout and be merry and have a blast!

How about you?  What kind of fun family adventures do you have planned for the next two weeks?  Take a few moments to think out of the box and create some memories that will truly make this Christmas the best you have ever experienced!  If you don’t have family around you, then I would encourage you to reach out to help others, make new friends and be a Christ-like blessing wherever you go!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What NEW and EXCITING things am I expecting TO DO today?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Overcoming The Big "D"

I mentioned about our recent K-Mart trek in the blog yesterday.  It is a little funny in that I practically NEVER shop at K-Mart.  It is one of those stores in our town that I hardly think about going to.  When I was in high school it was THE discount big box store in town!  I had a close friend at the time that started working there when they opened and progressed through the ranks until he became an assistant manager.  He ran the photo department for a while and I used to process all my portrait and wedding photography proofs through him.  So, needless to say, way back then, I used to go there a lot. 

My wife and I happened to be out in the north part of town where the store is a couple of years ago and decided to check out their Christmas supplies.  I guess that’s why we returned there for additional Christmas supplies this year!  When we arrived home from our huge shopping extravaganza (I think the whole thing cost around $20.00! – I was actually quite surprised.  When I went to swipe my debit card I had to stop and ask “Is that all?”  I think we must have hit the 50% off sale!) we had a quick lunch and then proceeded to finish decorating our tree.

The whole tree thing was an adventure this year.  I am one that usually enjoys every aspect of the Christmas season.  This year though, I found myself not really wanting to put out a lot of effort.  My initial reasoning centered around the thought that since my wife doesn’t really know what’s going on, that things just won’t be the same, so why do it at all?  I also kept finding myself worn out at the end of the day when I had the extra time to decorate the tree and the house.  At this point though, I had a decision to make.  I was smart enough to realize that it was the enemy of our souls attempting to put the big “D” (for depression) on me.  I had to choose between giving in to self pity and admitting defeat, or to (literally) push myself to get out, put up and decorate the tree and in the process give the devil a black eye.

Well, the decision was a no-brainer… but I still needed the “want to” and the energy to perform the task.  So, last Thursday I asked the Lord for both and slowly noticed a change in my attitude as well as an increase in His joy inside me (which is my strength – Nehemiah 8:10).   By the time Friday afternoon arrived I was actually beginning to look forward to getting things going!  Once again though, it wasn’t quite like in the past where everything went up in one day, but little by little (and day by day) the task was completed!  (Actually I am still deciding on whether I want to put tinsel on the tree or not.  What do you think I should do?)  The afore mentioned trip to K-Mart also helped to encourage me to carry on until the end was in sight! 

On Sunday I had run out of new ornaments for the tree and decided not to put the old tarnished ones we had originally received as throwaways from Piper’s Grandparents MANY years ago.  So the trip to K-Mart worked to meet two needs, the need for more ornaments and as a Christmas shot in the arm!  Once I opened up the packages of the new ornaments everyone got in the action. The dog kept getting under my feet as she ran between me and the tree with old cloth decorations dangling from her mouth that she had found left over in the storage boxes, and my wife even attempted to hang a few red and gold globes.  As I’ve stated before, it was a fun and rewarding time.  I am sure glad that I didn’t give in to the old snag of self pity!

This morning as I looked out over our living room from our bedroom loft, I thoroughly enjoyed the sight of the colorful ornaments, the bright colored lights and the large golden star of Bethlehem that we added yesterday to the top our beautiful tree.  It made me think briefly of the tremendous effort that Mary and Joseph had to exert in order to get to Bethlehem for the census that was being taken.  It kind of made my effort look like a walk in the park!

So, take some time this season to enjoy all the decorations of this glorious time of year.  Throughout it all, remember the real reason for the season and be a bright display of His light to those whom you come in contact with.  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What (or who) am I expecting to bless today?”

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

K-Mart Smart!

Yesterday turned out to be a relatively fun day.  My wife and I were able to get out of the house early… well, early for us that is, somewhere around noon, and run some errands concluding with a trip out to K-Mart and the purchase of new ornaments for our Christmas tree.  With the things that my wife is dealing with, we never really know what the new day will bring until it unfolds.  

I was thinking about this a few days ago as I reviewed our schedule of events as they occurred last Sunday.  I was always adamant to our Children’s Church volunteer team about the need to be at church doing your final preparations for the day’s class at least one hour before the children start arriving.  Up until our departure to Oklahoma a few years back, I was always one of the first to arrive at church on Sunday mornings and usually the last to leave.  When we returned to California we were dealing with the changing conditions of my wife’s health and everything else tended to take a back seat.  Most times now, we barely get to church and our class some 20 to 30 minutes before it’s time to start.

I have to admit that this frustrates me to no end.  But at this point it is something that I HAVE to trust the Lord for.  I am very thankful that our senior pastors are very sensitive of our circumstances and back us 100%.  It seems like I get up earlier and earlier on Sunday mornings and still leave the house at the same time.  It’s almost kind of comical in that the strangest things will happen as we prepare to get to church.  Like I mentioned above, I never know what my wife is going to do or not do until the new day unfolds.

Over the last couple of years the Lord has given me a lot more patience and peace that has helped me immensely thorough our morning prep times.  There still are times though, when I am totally frustrated, exhausted and shaking my head as we get out the door (which in itself can be quite a trick some days!).  The special reward for all the effort comes as the anointing to teach the class always appears the moment the class begins!  In fact, one of our student helpers walked up to me after class the other morning, looked at me with a mischievous smile and said, “You must have a lot of patience!”  With that I burst into laughter and said “Yes I do,” as I mentally reviewed all that it took to just get to class that day as well as to teach the rambunctious group in attendance that morning!

But anyway, back to yesterday.  Everything just sort of clicked.  Even going out to K-mart was a blessing as the older casher who was noticeably quiet and business-like with the line of customers in front of us, bent over backwards to smile and converse with my wife.  In fact, both the customers in front and in back of us made a point to reach out to us.  It is days like this that really cause one to be full of praise and thanksgiving to God.  It is days like this that really cause us to focus on His goodness as well as on His faithfulness.

I am thankful for everyday, but especially thankful for one’s like yesterday where you can visibly “see the goodness of the Lord in this world of the living.”  (Psalm 27:13 Gods Word ©)  I pray that your day will be like one of those for you today.  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What Good Things am I expecting today?”

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Last Day On The Job...

I really enjoyed teaching the kids at church about John the Baptist on Sunday.  As I mentioned yesterday, the kids in our class have been on a virtual “Road Trip” in Israel experiencing the events that occurred before, during and after the birth of Jesus.  The last place we “visited” Sunday was John the Baptist’s parent’s home.  We just happened to arrive there immediately following John’s birth.

I don’t think that I have fully appreciated John’s ministry until this year.  It would be hard for me to imagine the extra work that Jesus would have had to have gone through if John had not come previous to His entrance in order to prepare His way.  John’s job was to remind the people of the Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah, to get them back to the original intent of the Law of Moses (that pointed the people to their need for a Savior), and to introduce them to Jesus.

It is also very interesting that when his job was over he backed away from the mainstream of the people’s interest and directed them to Jesus.  That was a man that knew his calling, fulfilled it and then moved on.  I wonder if you and I could do the same?  How many times have we received a direction from the Lord and then kept pursuing it way after the anointing for the job had passed?

I know that I have hung on to things for far too long many times over the years.  It’s comfortable to keep at the things you’ve been doing, especially if you’re good at it, but that doesn’t mean that it is right!  I finally came to realize that we have to stay sensitive to the Lord’s leading as to His direction changes.  I guess it could be compared to the GPS in your car that has to “recalibrate” during your trip.

The transitions into new directions have been made easier for me by remembering that “God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus! (Philippians 4:19 – KJV)  As God supplied everything I needed for the various positions I’ve held in the past, He will do the same in the future.  (See Hebrews 13:8)

Isn’t God good?  He’s got it all figured out for you and me.  All we have to do is listen and obey and then allow Him to do the rest!  So don’t panic the next time you begin to sense that change is in the air for you.  Yield to Him and the going will be a lot less stressful as well as successful!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am expecting today?”

Monday, December 12, 2011

Believing Is Seeing

In our Children’s Church class we have been teaching a special Christmas series that I entitled “The Christmas Road Trip.”  In these adventure lessons we are traveling across Israel in the days of Jesus’ birth.  With every new day on the “road” I flash up various pictures of hot cars, old dilapidated buses, and other means of transportation on the big screen in order to keep the kids interests high.  They giggle and talk about the vehicles and then we look into the travels that Mary and Joseph and the others involved took at that time.

It is actually very interesting to see how many miles the characters in the first chapters of Luke and Matthew covered.  And not only did the individuals who made up the Christmas Story have to travel great distances, they also had to make great decisions in order to complete the plan of God for the birth of our Savior.

Zechariah, his wife Elizabeth, as well as Mary and then her fiancĂ© Joseph all were forced to choose between following their traditions or the word of God as given to them by the angel Gabriel.  They had to make the decision to either go by sight, or to go by faith in the as yet unseen events that had been described to them.  I think that Mary’s reply to the angel’s incredible story sums up the way that each of the four characters involved in Jesus’ entrance into our lives choose.  After being told God’s plan she simply replied, “I am the Lord’s servant.  Let everything you’ve said happen to me.”  (Luke 1:38 Gods Word ©)  And with her declaration the very basis for our life of faith as Christians was established.

Yesterday I showed a video clip from the first Santa Clause movie in order to drive this point home for our young students.  In this particular seen Scott Calvin, who has just taken up the Santa Claus mantel (by putting on Santa’s Coat after the previous Santa falls off his roof…) is standing on the balcony in his room at the North Pole looking out on the city square and notices a polar bear directing traffic.  He turns back into his room and says to the little elf with him that he sees it but still doesn’t quite believe it.  She replies back to him that “Believing is seeing.”

This statement totally qualifies the Christian message of Faith in God that Jesus brought to the world.  The Apostle Paul stated this in God’s terminology when he said “Faith… convinces us of the existence of things we cannot see.”  Hebrews 11:1 Gods Word ©)  Mary and Joseph had to take steps of faith that Joseph probably never saw come in to existence and Mary had to wait to see for some 30 plus years!

Wow!  That kind of gets one to think about their own commitment to their stands of faith.  Do you and I have that same level of stamina?  Do we REALLY believe what we say we are in faith for?

I would encourage each of you to consider that question as we proceed through the celebration of the birth of our Savior this year.  Let every decoration, song and event of the holidays that you participate in serve as a reminder of the faith that Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary and Joseph had in those hard pressed days of Roman rule in the land of Israel.  Make this season of giving to be a time of recommitment to your faith in the love, patience and power of God in your lives. Then let the message of joy that the angel brought to the shepherds tending their sheep on that lonely hill near Bethlehem fill you with encouragement and expectation as you hear, “Fear not: For behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all the people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”  (Luke 2:10-11 King James Version)

Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What GOOD TIDINGS am I expecting today?”

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Spirit of Christmas

I know that this isn’t news to you, but we have entered the Christmas season once again.  One of the many things that my wife and I enjoy about this time of year is the flurry of good, clean Christmas movies that are abounding throughout the 200 or so channels on our satellite TV service.  Needless to say, I have to closely manage the storage on the DVR so that I can keep up with Hollywood’s latest releases!  (I’ve actually noticed that many of the movies are coming out of Canada.)

While many of these movies come from the secular standpoint of Santa and his Christmas magic, most tend to portray the importance of reaching out to the needy, having the Christmas spirit and reviving our childlike faith for believing in the impossible.  I guess you could simply refer to them as “feel good movies!”  And that is exactly how people want to feel during the holiday season.  They want to remember a happy past, pleasant times and have a hope for a positive future.  It is a time when people are most open to the Good News of Jesus Christ, because whether they will admit it or not, the majority of folks will agree to some connection between Jesus and the biggest holiday of the year.

That is why our words and actions of love are especially critical for the next 3 weeks or so!  It is easy to discover a multitude of opportunities to bless people around you.  I challenge you to keep your eyes open to those needing a little word of encouragement, neighbors who would be blessed by a dish of homemade cookies, the sales clerk or cashier who desperately needs a kind word of thanks for their long hours of putting up with the rushing horde of customers, or your kids teachers, your Pastor, your postal carrier or anyone else who serves your needs throughout the year.

God gave His best on Christmas, it is only right that we follow in His footsteps and give the best of ourselves to those around us.  Have a Blessed weekend.  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What BLESSING am I expecting to GIVE to SOMEONE today?”

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Blessed Assurance

“Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
 O what a foretaste of glory divine!
 Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
 Born of his Spirit, washed in his blood.”

I awoke this morning with the powerful words of this old hymn reverberating through my heart and soul.  I am not sure why or where it came from but it rose up inside with such strength that I could do nothing else but to arise, pull out the song and sing it aloud.

“Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
 born of his Spirit, washed in his blood.”

What a place to be.  Purchased by God himself and made an heir to his kingdom.  Redeemed from the adverse convictions of sin by the powerful, life altering blood of the King.

“This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savor all the day long.”

What a scoop!  What a story!  What a message that we just can’t hold back!

“Perfect submission, perfect delight,
 Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
 Angels descending bring from above
 Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.”

What a delight, O what a sight!  His echoes of mercy and whispers of love, that cause me  to live a life that’s bright with His light.

“Perfect submission, all is at rest,
 I in my Savior am happy and blest,
 Watching and waiting, looking above,
 Filled with his goodness, lost in his love.” *

The last stanza brings it all home.  I am in perfect rest as I’m submitted to Him.  For in Jesus I am happy and blest.  I am expecting and waiting, looking above.  Living and sharing a life that is filled with His goodness and grace… for I am hopelessly lost in His outstretched arms of love.

I encourage you to join with me in making this your song today!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What Assurance am I expecting to give and receive today?”

* Blessed Assurance, Lyrics by Fanny Crosby, music by Phoebe P. Knapp, 1873.  Public Domain - Hebrews 10:22

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Why Are The Leaves Turning?

A few days ago I wrote about changing times and I likened it to the changes we see in nature.  I mentioned that change can be difficult to go through, but like the expectations of the warmth of spring that will follow the cool of autumn and winter, we need to keep focused on the good things ahead.  Today I was reading an article about why leaves change their colors in the fall.  After the scientific explanations of photosynthesis and its need for extended periods of light and water, the article stated that during winter the trees will actually rest and live off the food they stored over the summer months.

The article made me think about how important it is for us to prepare for the changes that occur to us that can send our lives into a topsy-turvy state of affairs.  Like the trees that rest during the winter months, we too can rest in the Lord when our routine is upset.  As the trees stop the photosynthesis process and depend on the food that has been stored up within, we too can use the times of change as periods where we look inside and pull from the depths of the word that we have stored up in our hearts to see us through until the next season begins.

There is something that can be said about the animals that scurry around storing up food for the lean winter months.  It reminds me of the squirrel in the Ice Age movies who is always trying to get just one more elusive acorn for his storehouse!  This God given instinct in these furry creatures is what helps them to make it through the times when the surroundings they depend on change.

For you and me, it means to feast on the Word when the going is good, and then enjoy the supply when things are not as good.  Does this infer that we stop filling up on the word when times get tough?  Of course not, if anything you need to get into it even more than before. The added supply that you’ve hidden in your heart serves to bolster the personal security or comfort you seek when life throws you a curve.

So, every time you see the vibrant red, purple and copper leaves falling from the trees around you, use it as a reminder to “bone up” on the word of God, as you never know when you might need to dig into your winter supplies!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Cool and Crisp

I have always enjoyed the fresh, cool crispness of the early morning hours.  During this time of the year the cool is beginning to get down right cold!  But it is still wonderful!  Today as I bounded down the stairs from our loft, I took particular interest in the frost that covered all the rooftops around our home and I was glad that I didn’t depend on last night’s weather forecast and had covered our flowering plants in the patio!

The still of the morning is one of my favorite times of the day.  I especially enjoy it when we go camping.  I love to get up before anyone in the camp is stirring, and try (usually without succeeding) to get some coffee brewing without clanking pots and utensils so as to wake up the others still snoozing.  Then when the coffee is done, there is nothing like sitting under the tall trees with a cup of coffee warming my hands and just absorbing all the beauty of nature surrounding me!  This ecstasy comes to a climax a short while later when the first rays of sunshine come peeking over the mountain tops (or through the trees, depending where the campsite is located) and the warmth of their glow slowly removes the chill in the air where I am seated.

To me, spending time in God’s Word is just like one of those amazing mornings at camp.  There is an uncanny cool freshness that saturates my being when I read those first few introductory verses in the still of the morning, or for that matter, at any time when I open up my Bible!  His word brings the calming, crisp air of His love into the midst of whatever I am experiencing at the moment.  Like those first rays of sun breaking over the mountains, His words draw the warmth of His peace into my heart.  It is an event that brings a balance into my life, and it is even better than my mornings in the mountains, because I don’t have to wait until a particular time of day to experience it!  His peace is available to me and to you 24/7!

So the next time your life is in the midst of an uproar, take a time out, grab your Bible and allow the fresh, cool crispness of His words to rejuvenate and fortify your being with "the peace of God which surpasses all understanding." (Philippians 4:7 King James Version)  This peace brings an instant calm to the storms that arise around you.  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What Cool and Crispness am I expecting today?”

Monday, December 5, 2011

Changing Times

Early this morning I was walking through the picturesque walkways that meander throughout our cluster homes.  I don’t get too many opportunities to go out early in the mornings anymore, so a trip to the garbage bins made for the perfect excuse to enjoy the morning solitude.  As I returned to our home I let my eyes wander up, down and around the landscape.  The freshly mowed lawns, green shrubs, crisp cool air as well as the few multicolored leaves that still clung to the trees all added to the beauty of the moment. It got me to thinking that change is definitely in the air, and the experience helped me to get a perspective on some of the thoughts and emotions that I was dealing with yesterday.

To best sum it up, I think I was just feeling a little bit lonely on Sunday afternoon and evening. It’s not like I wanted more company, I just wanted to be able to connect again in that special way that my wife and I have always shared.  If I had to describe my wife with only one word I would have to say that she has always been “spunky!”  The dictionary defines that word simply as “spirited” and that would fit her to a tee.  She has always had the type of personality that would light up a room when she came in.  When I think of her I think of her laughter, her bright shiny brown eyes, her smile and quick wit.  She may not be the most organized individual in the world, but she has always enjoyed a challenge, likes to think on the run, is comfortable in just about any setting, unflappable in chaotic situations (that’s probably why we’ve never stopped working with kids and youth!), but yet sensitive when needed and always available with just the right words of comfort when difficulties arise. 

From the first day we met, we could talk for hours on end!  And that’s probably the hardest thing for me to deal with right now!  Everything I’ve researched and the various caregiver assistance people I have spoken to talk about the need to get away from the situation, at times, to be alone or with others.  I guess I kind of feel like I’m by myself a lot now, and while I enjoy being with others I really enjoy most to be with her, like I have for over 41 years now!  The unique intimacy of our communication together is what is currently missing in action!

The quiet, undisturbed walk this morning combined with my study time in the Word gave me the courage I needed today to go on.  An opening glance at Hebrews 12:1 reminded me “to run the race that lies ahead of us and never give up.”  (Gods Word ©) Then as I closed my morning time with the Lord I studied Psalm 27:14.  When I combined the Gods Word translation with the Jamieson, Fausset and Brown commentary on this verse the Lord showed me the importance of waiting “in confident expectation for the Lord.”  To “be strong and let your heart be courageous.  Yes, wait in confident expectation for the Lord.”  The term “in confident expectation” specifically meaning to be “expecting new measures of help.”

As I looked at the changing view of nature all around me early today I understood what was necessary for the new growth of green branches, leaves and the eventual fruit on the vine to appear again next spring and summer.  The old things of the past have to dry up and drop away before the new can emerge. It would seem pretty obvious that I am going through a time of change.  The Word of God assures me though, that my wife (and myself as well) will emerge again in His spring season of time renewed, strengthened and fortified to move on in His divine vision and plan for our lives.

In this current time we must keep our focus on Him, our expectations high, and our confidence undaunted!  The seasons in this life are always changing.  Fall turns into winter but Winter always turns into a glorious Spring filled with a new birth of blooming growth with the promise of the bright, long and warm Summer days to come.

Keep that in mind if you are currently going through some difficult changing times.  Stay focused and never give up.  Keep your confident expectation of the Lord’s new measures of help forever in view.  Never let go of those thoughts of a warm summer day at the beach, or sitting under the shade of a towering Redwood or Pine tree, or that first cool dive into a pool, river or lake or….  Remember, the good times are just around the corner!  Have a great week.  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What Good Things am I expecting today?”

Friday, December 2, 2011

Pitching Your Tent At The Top!

I wanted to end this week with a few more thoughts for you to consider concerning the high places.  Yesterday I mentioned the time when the still of our youth group camping retreat was broken by the sounds of dance music wafting up the mountainside.  I likened this to how the ways of the world can bring problems upon your mountaintop existence.  

This morning as I continued studying Habakkuk 3:19, my mind once again drifted off to the many times when we were hiking and finally reached the summit of Eureka Peak at Plumas Eureka State Park in northeastern California.  As I described before, the view looking down and then across the tree studded National Forest lands is indescribably beautiful.  The sight of the actual mountain top is not as pretty though.  At 7,447 feet there are still a few trees at the top, but their shape has been quite distorted by the wind and other elements that affect the mountain at that elevation.  Normally there are sporadic patches of snow that dot the peak throughout the summer.  And as I mentioned it can be very windy as all natural windbreaks disappear since this peak is one of the tallest in the area.  Lightning strikes can also be common at this height, hence the need for the various fire lookout towers that are visible for miles.

My point here is that being on the mountain top presents another set of factors that are not necessarily caused by the direct influence of the world.  To bring it all to a succinct point, the higher you go in elevation on a physical mountain, the less natural protection you have and  the more isolated you become.  In the spiritual sense, the same is true in that the higher you go the more you have to depend on God for everything!  The Apostolic Bible Polyglot’s Greek translation of the Old Testament seems to exhibit this fact a little more clearly in Habakkuk 3:19.  It says “The Lord is my power, and he will arrange my feet unto completion; and upon the high places he shall set me, for me to overcome by his ode.”  According to Strong’s that last phrase could also say to overcome by singing His word.  The word translated here as “power” means “force, specifically miraculous power.” (Strong’s G1411)  In the Hebrew the word used there is “strength” and means “a force, whether of men, means or other resources.” (Strong’s H2428)

The writer was emphasizing this point to the children of Israel as he prophesied the imminent Babylonian invasion upon their land.  He was foretelling of their need to have the Lord as their total sustenance in the midst of the horrific event.  And you know, that’s not a bad thing at all.  In fact it is probably the best position for any of us to find ourselves in.  A few nights ago, I was having a conversation with the Lord, and I mentioned that my wife and I have no other means to depend on for her life except for Him.  I didn’t utter that as a cry of despair, but as a matter of fact.  The only thing that we have to stand on is the SOLID foundation of the truth of His word.  The winds may blow and the waves may beat upon us, but we will come out of this storm safe and sound, whole and complete!

Like I have mentioned before, at this elevation on His mountaintop, there is nothing to distract us from anything that could pull our trust away from Him!  This has not been an easy hike, but I can’t think of any other place that I would rather pitch my tent but on the peak of His holy mountain!  How about you?  If you’re ready to rid yourself of time consuming distractions and detours, then look up and start climbing!  Have a great weekend.  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What Mountaintops am I expecting to Climb today”

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The High Places

Wow… today marks the one year anniversary of this blog!  That old saying about how time flies is really true.  I am believing that we will continue to expand our daily readership and our number of faithful followers, as we endeavor to increase the EXPECTATIONS of God’s Word coming to past in each of our daily lives!

This morning I found myself thinking about mountain top experiences.  I recalled back in the late 1970’s and how this was a common discussion among the congregation of the Baptist church in which I served as the Youth Minister.  I have always tended to believe that we should be living in and around the mountains in our walk with God.  Many of the individuals that I talked with back then though felt that the mountain top experiences where only meant to be few and far between.  They thought that we actually lived in the valley and only occasionally went up to the mountains for a peak experience with God.

I do not see the Biblical principle behind that particular line of thought.  Yes, we all go through valley times in our lives but that is not where our heavenly Father wants us to stay.  Psalm 23 talks about going “through the valley” (KJV) while Habakkuk 3:19 says “The Lord Almighty is my strength.  He makes my feet like those of a deer.  He makes me walk on the mountains.”  (Gods Word ©)  The King James Version states that we are “to walk upon mine high places.”  The Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary says that prophet was talking about God’s “own land, a land of hills which are places of safety and eminence.” In New Testament terms we could compare that to living in the places where “Thy kingdom come they will be done in earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10 KJV)

I believe that our loving heavenly Father wants us to stay safe and secure in His high places.  Once again, that’s not to say that we are not influenced and touched by the difficulties in this world, but our refuge is always upon the mountain top with Him.  On one of the many retreats that we took over the five years that we worked with the youth at that church, we camped at a California State Park located on the top of Mount Diablo.  This mountain is visible from most of the San Francisco Bay Area as well as from much of northern California.  According to State Park sources, geographers claim that hikers can see more of the earth's surface from the top of Mount Diablo than from any other peak in the world with only one exception: Africa's legendary 19,340 foot Mt Kilimanjaro.  (see for more info)

At the top of the mountain the scenery was awe inspiring, the air was fresh and the silence was golden… until nightfall.  Although most of the area is protected by preserves on and around Mount Diablo that total over 90,000 acres, it is still located in a metropolitan area.  Unknown to our hardy group of campers, there was a restaurant and bar located near the base of the mountain.  As the night grew dark the music from the dance floor made its way up the mountain and loudly challenged the atmosphere that we had worked to set for our retreat experience. You could say that the ways of the world definitely affected our mountain top experience.  Although we ended up having a great time, we had to work a lot more diligently in order to keep the program and anointing of the Lord on track for our 15 to 20 youth.

Thinking of yourselves as living on the mountain top instead of in the valleys of life may take a little more effort of your behalf, in fact in might take a complete turnabout in your understanding of the Christian walk!  But it definitely seems to be what the Bible describes as our position as sons and daughters of the King.  So I encourage you to go for the gold!  The hard work is worth all the effort and time, and the view is outstanding!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What victory am I expecting today?”