The new house!

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

Monday, August 31, 2015

First Responders

Our neighborhood sits at the crossroads of two cities.  We live in the town of Morrisville but if you go out the entrance closest to our home you are in the much larger neighboring town of Cary.  The other entrance opens up into Morrisville.  I thought it interesting that the law enforcement vehicles of both cities as well as the County Sheriff’s all look alike.  It is hard to tell who a particular officer represents unless you can see the name of the city written on the side of their car!
Back in California our city police cars were black and white while the Sherriff’s were white.  The closest neighboring city to the south of Santa Rosa also had black and white patrol cars but the color scheme of the other markings and nomenclature were different and unique enough that one could easily tell they were from a different jurisdiction.  (at least I could…)  Through the years I found it interesting to follow the various colors of our local P.D.  When I was a kid they were black and white.  For a year or two they experimented with green units, then most likely for cost cutting reasons went plain white for quite a while and finally settled on the original, more traditional black and white.
Through the years, I’ve found it enjoyable to listen to the various First Responders with an emergency band radio.  I started out with a single band, rather large table top unit and then back in the late 1980’s, after saving what at the time seemed like a wad of cash, purchased my first ten channel portable scanner for around $300.00.  I had it preprogrammed for the local P.D. channels, Sheriff, city fire department, rural fire departments central command, California Division of Forestry, ambulance services and the California Highway Patrol.  That radio lasted quite a few years up until the time we moved to Oklahoma when certain buttons just stopped functioning.
When we returned to home after Bible College I ended up purchasing another portable radio that made my old one look like a dinosaur!  The new radio was half the size, was programmable for 300 channels, includes air traffic and marine frequencies and barely cost $100.00!  It sits on my table here in North Carolina today but alas, sees little use as the local law enforcement use newer technology which is beyond the capabilities of my new radio.  I just need to spend a little time playing with it to discover what it can pick up!
I think the sound of sirens breaking the still of the day or night and the sight of flashing red, blue and yellow lights tends to draw just about everybody’s attention.  In our crossroads location we tend to hear a lot of sirens coming and going from all directions.  We can’t see onto the main streets around us but many times can tell by the sound of the siren if it is a police unit, fire truck or ambulance.  Many years ago, my wife started the tradition of offering a quick prayer for wisdom, peace and protection for the First Responders as they passed by.  So I tend to automatically continue to do that today without much hesitation. 
Having had the First Responders come to our home in California on numerous occasions for Piper’s emergency needs, I must say that I was always impressed with the courteous, calm and professional manner in which they conducted themselves.  From the 911 operator to the engine company personnel, their words and demeanor set the stage for a peaceful and positive experience.  They were great with Piper, encouraging to me and obviously well-trained to take care of the situation.
The idea of us as First Responders came to mind over the weekend as I read from Ephesians 1:7-8.  The Easy to Read version tells us how “God gave us that grace (by which He redeemed us of our sins) fully and freely.”  The King James translation states that “he hath abounded” that grace “toward us in all wisdom and prudence.”  As I read that yesterday morning I instantly understood that Papa God has given us the tools as well as the ability to abound in all the wisdom and prudence or insight (as another version puts it) of the riches of His grace.
Then I realized that His grace in and through us should always be the First Response we bring into any situation that arises around us!  We should be the siren, blinking lights and well-trained Christian professionals that people look to, who will bring His peace, His love and His power into their lives when things get a little crazy around them.
From what I have seen of late in my personal experiences as well as on recent TV news coverage, most emergency First Responders tend to get so focused on the situation and the needs of those involved that they tend to forget about their own fears and seek solely to help the individuals involved in the situation.  I think that is the same way that God has empowered us to respond to the needs of those hurting around us.
One thing that I have learned the hard way is that fear distorts our thinking and subsequent actions.  I have seen mature Christians go off the deep end when they allowed their personal fears to take control of their senses when they first came face to face with my wife’s devastating news.  To me, the fear tended to cause them to become self-centered.  So instead of casting aside their own inhibitions and seeking to do what was best for my wife, they made excuses to stay away from her.  That’s not a reaction you will see from any emergency First Responder is it?
I don’t think it should be a reaction from us either…  I believe Papa God wants us to use the tools He has given us to bring His grace, His peace and His answers into the troubled lives of those we encounter on a daily basis.  Would you agree?  Have a great week.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or How am I expecting my FIRST RESPONSE to other needs to be today?”

Friday, August 28, 2015

Luck has NOTHING to do with It!

Well, you’ll be happy to know that I made it through the next steps of the saga of our teeth!  The dog came through her oral surgery with flying colors and within a day snapped right back into her old sparky self.  The first thing she did yesterday when she got up was to bound into the living room, jump on the couch, spin onto her back and start barking… all the while watching Piper and I as we sat at the kitchen table, to see our reaction!
I had my consult with the oral surgeon yesterday as well.  It looks like I need to get the remnants of four infected teeth removed before we can start the process of implants or whatever it takes to chew properly again!  I also have one void in front where a tooth was pulled soon after our return to California a few years back, that has been a source of embarrassment to me, so it will be nice to be able to freely smile again.  We scheduled the surgery in combination with our daughter and her husband’s schedules so that Jamie can stay with Piper and David can drive me to and from the appointment.  Ahh… as I was telling Jamie yesterday, it is a blessing to have kids in the same town again!
As I was puttering around the kitchen this morning getting Piper’s “Cocoa Mocha Boost” hot drink (as I call it) together, I thought about how I was FINALLY getting the much needed work on my teeth done!  I mentioned to Piper that there was a time when we were first dealing with her diagnosis and finances were a little tight, when I seriously doubted that I would EVER have normal, healthy teeth again!  Then when finances improved, I was so busy with her care that my needs were simply put (way back) on the back burner.  All I could consider was her needs!
Since we’ve been out here on the other side of the country in North Carolina, things have been different though.  I guess it all goes along with that feeling that this is home that I have felt since our first week.  Our life just seems to have stabilized and even though Piper’s physical needs vary from day to day and in fact, take more physical assistance on my behalf, I still feel a freedom to do many things that I never felt possible back in California.
What really struck me this morning was how faithful Papa God is to us.  As I sit here at the kitchen table right now, I can think of numerous times where He turned the impossible into reality for us over the last six years.  If I was an unbeliever I would probably attribute it to luck… but let me tell you, LUCK HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH IT!
We sit where we do today because of the love, faithfulness and almost unimaginable power and authority of God and His Word.  I look back to 2009 and 2010 and think about all we went through, the changes that were trust upon us, the prayerful decisions and directions we felt led to take, the persecution and rejection we’ve had to deal with along the way and the amazing reality that just about everything the Lord told us to do has miraculously worked out for our benefit… JUST LIKE HE SAID IT WOULD!
We’ve still got a long way to go in this daily battle for my wife’s health, but were not about to give up now!  I had an eye opening revelation from God’s Word yesterday as I completed my study in my favorite book of the bible – Colossians - and moved into my next favorite book of Ephesians.  The seventh verse in chapter one in the God’s Word © translation, explains that “Through the blood of his Son, we are set free from our sins.  God forgives our failures because of his overflowing kindness (or grace in the KJV).” 
After reading that I had to sit back in my chair and rejoice in its meaning to me!  I looked across the room to patio that was being showered with the early morning rays of sunshine and exclaimed: “I am set free from being associated with my sins and failures!  My failures or shortcomings no longer dictate who I am!  As a believer I am now ‘in Christ’ and am thereby associated with His victory, His successes, His powerful abilities… and covered, as well as endowed with, His love and grace!”
Then it struck me… “I am not just ‘an old sinner saved by grace’ but am a completely NEW creation.  That old me and anything that would ever serve to point me back to that old self and way of life IS DEAD!  I am now a full-fledged member of the royal family of God with access and legal right to all His kingdom’s attributes, benefits, resources and authority!”
With all that said and done, I guess that I should not be surprised with all the positive things that we have stepped out in faith for and steadfastly believed for coming to past over these last years… but you know I am still humbled and amazed!  I think that is part of a natural reaction for all of us Christians as we continue to increase in our intimate, experiential knowledge of Christ love for each of us. (See: Ephesians 3:19-20)
So what am I trying to say here?  NEVER GIVE UPno matter how long it takes - on your stands of faith in Papa God and His Word.  A few years ago, I may not have been able to see my teeth getting fixed… but today I stand here with the process started and the insurance and personal finances in place to handle it… ISN’T GOD GOOD!  To Him be ALL the glory and honor!
I am sooooo thankful that as I seek to follow Him to the best of my ability, that I do not have to receive ANY condemnation from myself or my friends or family that may, at times, attempt to judge me by my past failures or what they consider to be my shortcomings. (See: Romans chapter eight)  God looks upon you and me as His children with the heart of a loving and forgiving Father.  I also believe that He wants us to see ourselves as His kids and to walk triumphantly with the limitless tools of His kingdom at our disposal!
Have a GREAT weekend.  Share His love and faithfulness with those around you.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or How am I expecting to live my life today?”

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Will It Work... or not?

I’ve learned a lot about faith over the past forty years.  My wife and I have taught faith to various generations of youth and children in the local church throughout the seventies, eighties, nineties and into the twenty-first century!  But you know… in many respects, I still feel like I have just been scratching the surface in my experiential knowledge of God’s love, His power, His will and His ways and how they all incorporate into my daily life.
Along the way I have met many who have proposed to us what they felt was the ONLY way for us to live our lives as they understand the Word.  This was especially prevalent with the initial diagnosis of the attack on my wife’s health.  This journey has forced me to dive head first into and examine just about everything I have ever learned in my Christian walk so that I could have the personal solid foundation and understanding of His Word required for us to make it through this dry valley.
A quick review of Colossians 3:17 sent me off into another investigation of my beliefs this morning.  As I switched between a few translations I noticed that the King James Version speaks of “…whatsoever ye do in WORD or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”  I had been studying the verse in some of the modern translations that talk about the things we “SAY” instead of what we do in “WORD.”
When I took a peek at the Greek definition of “WORD” I sat back a bit amazed as it is referring to the “Logos” word of God.  It is not just any words that we speak, but is specifically referencing the things we do with, in or through the power and anointing of the Word of God!  It is talking about the stands of faith that we take that we base on His Word in our prayerful requests for wisdom, needs met, healing for ourselves or for others and/or calling forth the signs and wonders inherent in the name of Jesus for an intervention into the destructive lifestyle of a loved one or to make a positive change in an impossible situation or negative report.
This section of Colossians 3:17 is written in direct reference to the previous verse where the Apostle is encouraging us to “Let the word of the Christ dwell in you in abundance…”  (Jubilee Bible)  And it is challenging the believer to understand how strong his or her faith in the Word based action they are about to take is!  In simple terms… it is forcing us to ask ourselves if we are REALLY EXPECTING the WORD ACTION we are about to initiate…to work… or not!
The verse tells us that every Word based action of faith we take “should be done in (the power, authority, and anointing of) the name of the Lord Jesus” (God’s Word ©) that we’ve been talking about in this blog.  I can honestly say that I am not sure that I have always been that confident or EXPECTANT when I have stepped out in (what I thought was) faith!
I remember an incident many years ago just before we left the Baptist church that my wife was raised in, when a group of us got together after a special service to pray for the son of one of the leaders in the church.  I really don’t remember the circumstances of the boy’s situation except that something had happened where he was left as what seemed to be a hopeless case, unresponsive to most stimuli and in a wheelchair.  As we gathered around the boy and stood in agreement as the new regional supervisor for our denomination prayed for him, I recall wondering how many of the individuals in that room really believed for that prayer to work.
I left the Pastor’s study where we had gathered that afternoon with more questions than I had answers.  But I was determined to seek out and discover God’s will for such situations as stated in His Word… and I have been learning ever since then!  I will also say that since then I have seen an individual who was told that she would never walk again rise out of a wheelchair and walk, and many other miraculous moves of God!  Each one of those times has strengthened my resolve to make real sure that my faith is strong and my EXPECTORS high before I take a stand of faith that is based on the infallible Word of God!
As far as I am concerned… God’s Word is either true or it is not… AND I BELIEVE IT IS TRUE!  Would YOU agree?
Have a great day.  Stay true to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “Am I REALLY EXPECTING my faith in God’s Word to work for me today?”

Monday, August 24, 2015

What Do You Think?

When my fiancĂ© and I first attended Chico State University in north-central California in the fall of 1973, we desired to get involved with one of the Christian groups on campus.  At that time InterVarsity Christian Fellowship had a big presence there and we naturally gravitated to their meetings.  But I was still pretty new to this whole Protestant Christian experience and was a little uncomfortable there, so we decided to also check out the Catholic on-campus ministry, The Newman Club.  Piper never pushed in either direction… I think she was just happy to see my growing interest and was inquisitive as to see where it would lead me or better yet, in what direction the Lord had planned for the two of us, for we were solidly committed to each other by that time… after all, she was wearing the diamond ring I had given her the month before!
As it turns out, we actually ended up going to both of the campus clubs during our stay in Chico.  We normally attended Sunday services with the Newman Club that not only met in their on-campus building, but also held services in local parks and other venues in the area.  I recall one particularly funny incident when we were going to celebrate Mass on the banks of Big Chico Creek on the outskirts of the college town.  I can still picture the young priest sliding down the side of the rocky, grassy slope with his Bible in one hand and a small jug of Earnest and Julio Gallo Hearty Burgundy in the other!  We attended the InterVarsity mid-week meetings for Bible Study and fellowship.  I think that is where I attended my first serious Bible Study on the book of Romans!
The one thing that Piper and I still laugh about is how the student leaders at InterVarsity greeted us for the first few months of that year.  It seemed like every time we walked in the door one of them would approach us with a big smile and out-stretched hand, looking first at Piper and saying: “Oh, Hi Piper!”  Then they would glance my way, pause and say: “And what was your name again?”  I guess if I was in their shoes, I would have made a point to remember her name over mine as well… I did think she was the most beautiful gal on campus!
In reality though, most folks tended to remember her name before mine because up to a few years ago, it was a quite unusual name!  I saw a recent survey that now lists “Piper” as one of the most up and coming popular girls name in our country!  According to statistics from the Social Security Administration that keeps data on names that have more than five occurrences by gender, there were 40 girls named Piper the year she was born, as compared to 2014 with 3,840 occurrences!  It has actually become a lot more common to hear someone we introduce ourselves to nowadays, reply that they have a daughter or granddaughter named Piper.
I thought about our experiences with Piper’s name this morning as I read the story of the seven sons of Sceva in Acts chapter nineteen.  It would seem that there were some traveling Jews who went around the countryside attempting to mimic the miracles of Jesus by using His name to cast out demonic powers from various individuals.  The sons of this chief priest were among them.  But they ran into a little problem one day during their short lived ministry.
I can just imagine the look of shock on their smug faces when the voice of the demon in the person they were working with spoke to them saying, “Jesus I know, Paul I know, but who are ye?” (Acts 19:15 KJV)  Then the man possessed with supernatural strength by the presence of the demon jumped on all seven of the boys and beat them up to the point that they ran screaming and naked out of the house!
I immediately thought, after reading this story, that it was interesting that the demon not only knew Jesus and Paul and the power, authority and anointing that is inherent in Jesus’ name… but also recognized that that the sons of the Priest did NOT know anything about it!  The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges explains this by interpreting the demon’s words as “I recognize that Jesus has power over evil spirits, and I know that Paul is a true servant of Jesus, through whom Jesus manifests His power.”  Then the commentary continues saying that the others were but “mere pretenders in the use of His name.”
It turns out that the words translated “know” are actually two different words in the original language.  The demon was really saying that he was intimately knowledgeable of Jesus and His powers over demonic influences (I’m sure they have a pretty vivid recollection of Jesus’ victory parade over the Devil himself as He paraded him through the very streets of hell - See: Colossians 2:15) and that he recognized that Paul knew of his legal rights as a Christian and actively pursued the power delegated to His followers on this earth.
That statement made me pause and consider what the demons would say about me!  Do they recognize me as one who KNOWS and ACTIVATES the power at my disposal that was delegated by Jesus in the Great Commission to believers before He left this earth?  Am I feared by the very demonic powers that come against believers on a daily basis… or am I more afraid of them than they are of me?  What about you?  Have you ever REALLY considered that thought?  I don’t believe that Papa God desires His family members to be weak, sickly and an easily defeated people… do you?  Isn’t that what He gave us His Word for… as well as the living presence of the Holy Spirit in us?
Wow!  What do you think about that?  Have a great week.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “In What or In Whom am I expecting to walk in victory with today?”


Friday, August 21, 2015

What's In a Name?

I was brought to tears a few months back when our youngest daughter told me that she and her husband had decided to name their coming baby, Sarah Piper, in honor of her Mom!  She wanted to be reminded of all that she said that her Mom meant to her and had done for her, taught her and has loved her over the years through her daughter.  I was touched and delighted as Piper’s legacy was to continue in a very visible manner!
I read an article this morning on my Yahoo online homepage about a growing trend of unconventional and unusual words that parents are using to name their children.  The proliferation of names such as “Alias, Boss, Eliminate, Gamble, Halo, Kindle and Remedy” among others, were mentioned in the article.  In some cases I cannot imagine what these folks might be thinking in their decisions!  When considering various baby names, my wife and I discussed what it would be like for the child to live with that name in school and into their adult lives.  As with many other Christians, we always have believed that our names are very important and make a statement to the character of each of us. 
With all this in mind, I thought that it was quite interesting that God made it clear that He had a definite purpose in naming His incarnate Son, Jesus!  He made the point to send an angel to instruct Joseph as to how to name the child in Mary’s womb.  He also made it clear as to what that special name would mean… Salvation!  Matthew 1:21 gives us that conversation saying: “And she shall bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins.” (MKJV)
The more I study about the precious name of Jesus, the more I understand that His name and God’s total and complete Salvation are synonymous with each other.  In the Greek the word we translate as "Salvation" or "save" is the all-inclusive word “sozo” meaning “to save, deliver, protect, heal, preserve, do well and to make whole.” (Strong’s)  Other Greek dictionaries and scholars agree that its work includes the whole man, spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally.  Therefore, I believe that you could rightfully add to that verse by declaring “… for He shall save His people from their sins and all the effects thereof!
The first recorded miracle performed in that name by the early followers of Christ caused quite a sensation amongst the religious leaders of the day.  E.W. Kenyon writes in his book “The Wonderful name of Jesus” that “No miracle like this had ever happened before in human history; it shook the Sanhedrin to the foundation – their wisest men were in confusion; the disciples were ordered aside for a moment while the Sanhedrin conferred, and in their fear they threatened (them)…” (page 40)
When’s the last time you spoke out the name of Jesus and sent the authorities into a tizzy?  I want to do that… and you know what… the more I learn about the power, authority and anointing that is inherent in the name of Jesus and is available for my use in order to bring His saving grace, healing and wholeness into the lives of the people I come into contact with on a daily basis, the more excited and EXPECTANT I am becoming!  WOW… I can hardly wait!  What about you?  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or How am I expecting to USE the power, authority and anointing of His NAME… to change people’s lives… today?”


Thursday, August 20, 2015

Have We Been Hoodwinked?

When I began to work at Hewlett Packard back in April of 1980, I quickly learned that in order to stay in the top of their field as a leader in the electronics industry, they had developed Standard Operating Procedures for just about everything they did!  When I stepped into supervision about six months later, I was handed a thick brown binder entitled “Personnel Processes and Guidelines.”  I was told that this was the holy grail of management and needed to become very familiar with its contents.
That book was what some termed as a living document and was under constant scrutiny and revision.  I can hardly remember a week going by without receiving an inner-office envelope that contained sealed updates that were to replace certain sections of the book.  Whenever any situations or questions came up regarding anything to do with an employee, we were told to go to the book, read what it said and to follow the written process.  Like I mentioned before though, some of the procedures in the book were meant to serve as guidelines and left some discretion to the management team.  But even those guidelines were to be followed in a particular way and with the overall intent and purpose of the Standard Operating Procedures listed in the binder.
As I continued to study about the power, authority and anointing that is inherent in the name of Jesus today, I began to realize that God has actually given believers His Standard Operating Procedures for living our lives in that name!  I get the idea that this was a well-known and actively practiced process in the daily life of the early church.  Throughout the book of Acts you see an almost continual reference to the name of Jesus.
Peter told the lame man that he didn’t have any silver and gold on him, “but what I do have I give to you.  In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” (Acts 3:6 ESV)  Then in defense of his actions, he later told those accusing him of doing wrong, that it wasn’t anything he did to make the lame man well but declared that it was “his name – by faith in his name – has made this man strong…” (Acts 3:16 ESV)
When the first Jerusalem believers got together to pray after some persecution, they ended their request to the Father by asking for continued strength and anointing to do His work “while you stretch out your hand to heal (through them), and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus…” and the Lord let them know that He heard them by literally shaking the building they were gathered in! (Acts 4:30-31 ESV)
We also see many other examples of the Apostles, church leaders and church members doing mighty works in the name of Jesus.  Like I said, to operate in the supernatural in His name was just Standard Operating Procedure to them!  So, once again I ask… What did they know that we seemed to be mostly missing today?  I talk to people all the time who call themselves Christians who give more credit to and talk about angels and the biblical saints of old more than they do the name of Jesus!  What’s wrong with this picture?
Have we been hoodwinked?  I think that it is time to get back to the basics and find out all that we can about what it means to be a born-again, Spirit filled, power-packed and anointed believer who has legal claim and right to actively use the name of Jesus in everything we do or say… after all… isn’t that what Paul was talking about when he said that “Everything you say or do should be done in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him?” (Colossians 3:17 God’s Word ©)
Is that really true… and/or even possible in today’s world?  Or was Paul just trying to pump us up knowing that it really wasn’t possible?  I DON’T THINK SO!  I believe that if God said it (through the anointed writings in His Word), then it is true and that I CAN DO IT!  
HOW ABOUT YOU?  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or in Who’s NAME am I expecting to live my daily life?”

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Can It Really Be?

Piper and I drove into north Raleigh yesterday to meet with our new realtor.  I was excited about the event but more importantly, at the dramatic change I saw in my wife that day.  If I had been placing my hope in my physical senses I would have thrown in the towel the day before and set my expectations in a downward spiral!  Monday was rough in that Piper was very weak to the point that I had to physically pick her up throughout the day in order to help her in and out of the car, meet her personal needs, sit on the couch and lastly, to go to bed.
She would stand up from a sitting position and then not be able to do anything else.  On top of that she seemed to not recognize anything… including me!  I told my cousin that I could have been the man in the moon to her for all the recognition she was giving me.  I knew she was having a tough time when she wouldn’t or couldn’t even laugh at my totally dumb jokes or silly songs!
When I helped her to bed that night the only thing that I could do was to speak out the name of Jesus over her and thank Him while I continued to confess our healing scriptures to her.  In the morning she was a changed person!  She woke up more alert to the point that she actually nodded her head in agreement to many things that I talked to the realtor about.  She was able to walk from her chair to and from the car, ate well, and at the end of the night gave me a big smile when I talked to her on the couch!
Those are the little miracles (BIG to me!) that I look for and celebrate as we go through this temporary place in our life.  I am methodically increasing in my daily expectations of the Word of God working in Piper and in my understanding, faith and usage of the power and authority inherent in the name of Jesus that, according to Mark 16:17, is available to each and every one who believes and is baptized into that name.
It dawned on me as we were walking around our neighborhood last night, that the reason I most likely have been so aware of the name of Jesus is because of the things that we believe the Lord told Piper and I to do when our time in Oklahoma had come to an end.  As I have mentioned before, one of the three things we were instructed to pursue when we returned to our hometown was to get a definitive name on whatever it was that was attacking my wife so that we could put the disease into its proper place in order “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth (including Alzheimer’s), and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:10-11)
Paul preceded this dynamic statement about the power, authority and dominion in THAT NAME by explaining that “God has highly exalted Him, and given Him a name that is above EVERY name.” (Philippians 2:9 MKJV)  So we came home with a definite approach and purpose in the way we were going to deal with this difficulty.  We had been saturated and trained with the Word during our time in Bible School and the integrated church fellowship and pursued that direction from the moment we stepped out of our Suburban onto the driveway at my parent’s home where we were going to stay until we found a place of our own.
What I didn’t realize and literally took me a few years to understand, was that not everyone we interacted with from that point on had the same viewpoint, dedication and/or training as we did!  And that is where we began to (and with a few folks still do…) bump heads!  But through it all we have learned to stay true to our calling and instruction of the Lord.  We have attempted to stay as focused as we can – through the ups and downs like yesterday – on His Word and His name… which in reality are one and the same!
I’ve been in this Christian walk for over 45 years and am just beginning to really understand and become more in tune to the power, authority and anointing that is inherent in the name of Jesus and of the legal right we have to use that name that He conferred to us in the Great Commission when He declared: “All authority is given to Me in Heaven and in earth. Therefore go and teach all nations, baptizing them in (lit., ‘into’) the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things, whatever I have commanded you.  And behold, I am with you all the days until the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:18-20 MKJV)
Now as I read the Word of God each day, I am seeing an entirely new, improved and in most cases, a much more powerful meaning and purpose to my individual place in the propitiation of the Gospel to the world I live in!  Can it be that Papa God has a higher plane to walk in for “them that believe” (Mark 16:17 KJV).  Can it really be true that “in My name they (we) will cast our demons; they (we) will speak with new tongues; they (we) will take up serpents; and if they (we) drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them (us).  They (you and I) will lay hands on the sick, and they will get better?” (Mark 16:17 MKJV)
Is God’s Word REALLY TRUE?  I believe it is… how about you?  ANDWhat then, are you going to do about it?  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “In What or Who’s NAME am I expecting to move mountains today?”

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Changing My World...

I get very excited whenever I read about the great revivals in history that began in Jerusalem a few thousand years ago as the 120 disciples were filled with the Holy Ghost and attracted a multinational crowd of questioning, spiritually hungry and utterly amazed individuals who must have literally ran through the streets to get near that upper room to see what was going on!  Through the centuries men and women of God have kept that flame alive as they have learned of and went forth in the power and authority inherent in the name of Jesus.
My wife and I were born in the midst of the great healing revival that swept through our country and into parts of Europe, Asia and Africa following on the heels of World War Two and lasted into the early 1960’s.  This revival was preceded by establishment breaking men and women such as Smith Wigglesworth, John G. Lake and Aimee Simple McPherson. 
It would seem that almost every generation has seen its assortment of well-known and countless lesser known men and women, pastors and laymen alike who have followed the call and carried the torch to “Go ye therefore” (Matthew 28:19 KJV) in the authority and miraculous power available to all believers through the name of Jesus. (Mark 16:15-20)  The New Testament is filled with examples of these same men and women who went forth laying hands on the sick, praying for needs to be met, bringing the miraculous salvation of Christ to the nations and encouraging entire cities by the Words of Christ.
I cannot describe the sense of God’s purpose and plan for humanity that I get when I read the accounts of men and women like John and Charles Wesley, George Whitefield, Francis Asbury, Finney, Moody, Booth, Knox, Luther, Wycliffe, Hus, Woodworth-Etter, Kuhlman, Seymour, Roberts, Dowie, William Branham, A.A. Allen, Kenneth E. Hagin, Billy Graham and the hundreds of others before and after them into today’s generation of modern evangelists, pastors and born-again, spirit led individuals like you and me!
These are people who gained a sense and some level of a working understanding of the power that is in the name of Jesus and put it to use during their lives.  Sure they all took their share of criticism and complaint, but they went on un-deterred by the sceptics of their times.  I would imagine that there may even be a few names on my list above that some of you might disagree with, but an honest investigation into their lives would undoubtedly uncover some miraculous and unexplained events that would simply bogle our senses and lead us into greater revelations of the supernatural moves of God.  These individuals were regular folks just like you me who faced the same difficulties, fought many of the same natural and mental battles that we do, but yet stepped above them to preach, teach and live the Gospel.
Wouldn’t it be cool if another writer in the future listed your name and mine among those great men and women of God who understood the true purpose of the program of God with the authority that He has given “those who believe” in the use of His name to change the circumstances of the world we each live in today?  All I can say is “WOW!” … and “Why not?”
Have a great day!  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “In What or Who’s NAME am I expecting to change my world today?”

Monday, August 17, 2015

What's In a Name?

I can’t really remember the first time I started taking notice of how people in the movies or on TV pray.  But I do know that for some reason, it has always bothered me that they hardly EVER end their prayers be it before a meal, at the bed of a sick or dying loved one, or in a time of great distress, by making their request “in the name of Jesus.”  In fact, I would be hard-pressed to think of just about any secular movie that even mentions the name of Jesus except as part of a vulgar expression.
I was stunned and happily surprised last December when the Catholic church ran a Christmas themed commercial on regional TV out here that talked about Jesus as being the real reason for our celebration of the Holidays!  It would seem that society would not only like to marginalize the name of Jesus (and Christianity in general), but also remove it from our everyday vocabulary.
I may not agree with all the tenets of my Catholic upbringing, but one of the things that I learned and hold dear to my heart is a genuine and holy respect for the precious name of Jesus.  I have many memories from my Parochial school days of the nuns teaching us to respect and honor the name.  I may not have learned a lot about Him and all that His name constitutes, but I definitely witnessed and developed a strong reverence for the name.  I clearly recall taking great notice of the various nuns and priests around the two different parishes we belonged to, as they crossed themselves, bowed their heads and at times genuflected whenever the name of Jesus was audible spoken.
Those actions and their reflections on the holiness of His name caused me to develop an almost mystic (and slightly confused) reverence and limited understanding of the Son of God.  That is probably why I was so interested and even a bit enchanted by my high school sweetheart’s reverent but yet seemingly strong, best-buddy relationship she enjoyed with the mysterious God/man!  I WANTED what she had, because it was real, it was a major influence in her life and there was a certain miraculous POWER attached to it.
Through the decades since then, I have grown tremendously in my understanding, personal relationship and communion and fellowship with Jesus.  But over the last few years I have gained a much greater understanding of the authority, legal stance and expectancy of His power working in, for and through me when I actively believe in the name of Jesus in response to the wiles of the enemy of our souls.
Over the last few months in particular, I have been reading everything I can get my hands on that discuss this subject.  It would seem that this is one aspect of our faith that the church has largely ignored through the centuries, although I believe that we are seeing a resurgence of what I am beginning to realize was a common core and/or practice of the early church following Jesus’ assumption into the heavenlies.
My attention was peaked over the weekend as I read Colossians 3:17.  Here we find the Apostle Paul telling his readers that “Everything you do or say should be done in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (God’s Word ©)  As with the majority of the commentaries I looked at, I have always understood this verse as telling me to always do and say everything to the praise and glory of the Christ.
But as I read it on Saturday, I suddenly realized that this verse is really instructing us speak and act with definite purpose and expectation in the power and legal authority that has been given to us who believe (See: Matthew 1:21, 28:18-19, Mark 16:17, Acts 4:10, 30, Eph 1:21, Phil 2:9; etc)  With that I saw that the Apostles, disciples and members of the early church understood this principle and lived their daily lives accordingly.  I thought of Peter and James speaking out the Name to deliver the lame man at the gate to the temple.  Paul delivering the young girl from the demons that held her captive to fortune telling and the 70 disciples as they returned amazed that “even the devils are subject to us through thy name. (Luke 10:17 KJV)
Can you imagine what it would be like if the church really got a hold of this truth?  Can you but imagine how different the world would look?  Can you visualize how different YOUR life would be?  Well, if you’re anything like me… I’m sure that your heart is stirring with wonderment, excitement and expectation of what mountains we can see move before us today, as we walk, do and say all in His name!  Have a great week ahead.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “In What or Who’s NAME am I expecting to do everything today?”

Friday, August 14, 2015

Making the Right Call!

One of the things that I have noticed this year in the myriad of professional baseball games that my wife (who just happens to be celebrating her birthday today!) and I have been watching is what seems to be the increase of inconsistencies in pitch calling from the home plate umpires.  With modern technology today, most sports networks have computer generated optical devices that track each pitch as it is thrown by the pitcher.  This visual aid enables the viewers to instantly see if a pitch was a strike or a ball.
What I have been observing is a proliferation of pitches that do not touch any corner of the plate being called a strike, or pitches that are called a strike one time and then another thrown in the identical position being called a ball!  This unpredictability causes negative reactions from both teams as well as with the fans.  A couple of nights ago it was obvious that the batter (who was known to be a very good hitter with a high batting average) was swinging at pitches that he would not normally swing at because he never knew from pitch to pitch what it might be called.
At the same time you could see the player’s manager shaking his head at the calls.  A few weeks ago, a Giants pitcher and their manager were ejected from a game because of their questioning the umpire’s repeated inconsistency is his pitch calling.  I have also heard various team announcers expressing their displeasure and frustration with these calls.  It is easy to see and hear the fans frustrations with these calls as well… and on top of all that… my patient wife and startled dog have to put up with me when I suddenly jump up and yell at the umpire from the comforts of our couch!
When these things occur you can literally feel the disconnect amongst the players, the umpires, the announcers and the fans.  There is no unity, lots of frustration and heated tempers that make the game not very enjoyable to participate in, nor to watch!
The Apostle Paul seemed to have a good handle on this phenomenon.  In Colossians 3:15 he wrote: “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body, and be ye thankful.” (KJV)  One would think that he looked through the ages into the future and specifically thought about the game of baseball when he penned those words!  According to Thayer’s, the first definition of the word “rule” is “to be an umpire.”
The decisions that we make in our daily lives parallel the descriptions of the baseball games I mentioned above.  When we have a good umpire that we can depend on, we tend to live a more productive and enjoyable life.  When that umpire becomes unsteady or unpredictable, life can take a quick detour over some bumpy roads.
Paul tells us that God’s peace is a predictable and reliable umpire from which to govern our lives.  I would go as far as to say that for me, it has been the MOST reliable, MOST used and MOST trusted tool in my personal life’s toolbox!  I have grown to depend on that peace to guide me in and through just about every decision I make… and especially with the decisions I have needed to make concerning my wife’s welfare.  There were times when it was the ONLY thing I had to hang onto when facing some of the unprecedented pressures of disagreement and distrust that I faced from some individuals close to us.
S. Way’s “The Letters of St. Paul to Seven Churches and Three Friends with the Letter to the Hebrews” describes Paul’s words in Colossian 3:15 as “May the peace of Messiah set at rest all doubts in your hearts…”  That translation would perfectly describe my feelings when dealing with the raging waves of disagreement and distrust from others.  The peace that I felt above everything else gave my heart the rest it needed and helped me to proceed with the directions I felt led to follow.
The Message Bible encourages us to “Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other.  None of this going off and doing your own thing…”  I realized as I meditated on that version this morning that this exactly characterizes what I felt when we returned to our home town after going to Bible School in Oklahoma.  I didn’t understand it at the time… especially as we got deeper into our interactions with some of the institutions and individuals we used to be involved with.  It is now apparent that things were different, confusing and increasingly frustrating to us because we were not “in tune with each other, in step with each other.”
I remember thinking at one point a few years back, that after being with this family for over forty years, that they still do not know me or my family!  And let me tell you… that realization hurt!  It was obvious that there was no unity, no understanding and therefore NO PEACE between us.  I always had the feeling that some of the different individuals we interacted with THOUGHT or just assumed that they knew us and always tended to proceed with their suggestions and actions based on those incorrect assumptions.  It used to frustrate and confuse me when these folks would hardly ever ask questions about the things that we did, about how we were doing or even to inquire as to how Piper was doing in the battle she was facing!  Most times it was as if these same folks were happy staying at a distance from us and in just doing their own thing.
In my over fifteen years in management at Hewlett Packard/Agilent I took many classes that taught us new skills and abilities to enhance our work performance.  Many of these classes were considered “core” management classes that were said to add additional tools to our personal management toolboxes.  Like I mentioned before, if you were to look into my life’s toolbox today, you would find the tool of God’s PEACE at the top of the pile and quickly observe that it is the most well-worn, but yet most well-cared for tool in the box!
This is probably the tool that we most consistently taught our four kids as well as our countless students in church classes through the years to use.  It is sometimes the most uncanny ability or tool that you will have at your disposal when everything or everyone else around you is telling (or yelling at) you to go a different way!  But it is also the ONLY tool that you can TOTALLY depend on in every situation, in every need or in any call that needs to be made!
Have a great day today.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Who’s PEACE am I expecting to FOLLOW today?”

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The More Intelligent Way...

I know that I have mentioned many times before, that the greatest lesson that I have learned over these last six years in dealing with the attack on my wife’s health, has been the importance of increasing in the intimate knowledge of the love of Christ for Piper and I. 
From the moment we returned home from our three year stay in Oklahoma, we realized that things were different… and believe me… I am talking about almost everything!  We were in a new home in a new area of town, had a change in leadership at the church so for all intent and purposes we were attending a new church, both sets of parents were going through various negative health changes, I had taken a promotion and had a new job that included daily travel that kept me away from home for ten to twelve hours a day, our kids were suddenly all grown up and living out of the house… for the first time in 29 years… and of course my wife was needing more and more of my physical attention.
Throughout all these changes though, we learned that the one unchangable foundation of support that we had was our relationship with the Lord, the rock-steady truth of His Word and our ever increasing intimate knowledge of His love working in, for and through us.  And even though we were blindsided early on by some we looked toward for love and assistance, His love has NEVER failed us!
Colossians 3:14 tells us “And above all these things (sympathy, kindness, humbleness, gentleness, patience and forgiveness as mentioned in the previous verses) put on love, which is the bond of perfectness.” (MKJV)  The effects of the absence of love in our relationship with a few (we’d always thought to be mature) Christians became quickly evident to us.  The pain of the shocking accusations and actions that were taken against us were not quelled by the random and intermixed nice sounding words as they were void of loving actions.
We experienced the truth of Colossians 3:14 for without the love, there has been no lasting bond to tie us together.  The footnotes in the Cambridge Bible for this verse describe this love as “The bond or tie, which makes and secures the perfectness, wholeness, fullness, and harmony of the Christian character.  If love is lacking, all other good is nothing, it dissolves!”
We discovered that without love there is judgement instead of acceptance.  Without love there is an almost instant disconnect and a noticeable lack of unity.  Without love, fear takes the center stage!  Without love there can be damage that is very difficult to repair…  A lack of love tends to elevate the individuals involved and not God and does little to uplift and minister to the ones in need.  A lack of love creates a lack of trust.
Colossians 3:14 informs us that loving words and their corresponding actions “ties everything together perfectly!” (God’s Word ©)  Love is God’s perfect answer to everything!  Thayer’s Greek Definitions explains how this “Perfectness” is “the state of the more intelligent.”  That particular statement defies the seemingly “intellectual” approach that these individuals used to belittle and criticize our steps of faith.  I believe I shared that the word “stupid” came up a few times in conversations concerning my actions toward my wife!
According to the scriptures, God’s way of love as described in His Word is actually the more intelligent way to follow… and you know…  After six years of following His ways… just about everything He has instructed us to do has worked out for us EXACTLY the way He said it would!  So what more can I say… It definitely is working for us and I have NO thought to change what we’ve been doing!
What do you think about that for your life?  Whose ways will you follow?  The worlds intellectual approach or will you enter into what the writers of the epistles called the “state of the more intelligent?”  I guess I set you up on that one!!!  But it obviously makes more sense to walk in His love and let Him have His way in every situation you face.  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Who’s Intelligence am I expecting to yield to today?”

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Rolling My Eyes... and Holding My Tongue!

My wife and I had the glorious experience of meeting our newest granddaughter yesterday afternoon!  Through the technological wonders of FaceTime we were able to instantly course through a little over 1100 miles and be in our youngest daughter’s living room as she cuddled the little bundle of joy in her arms.  Now, I am sure that I am not being prejudice here… but I tell you… what a beauty!  You talk about a heartfelt reaction to the miracle of a new life… Wow!  Looking at tiny Sarah Piper even solicited a smile on my Piper’s lips!  Needless to say, we are looking forward to physically meeting and holding our granddaughter in our arms.
I learned a little more about heartfelt reactions this morning as I continue to study from Colossians chapter three.  Verse thirteen in the God’s Word © translation tells us to “Put up with each other.”  I have to laugh every time I think about the simple bluntness and truth of that statement.  It reminds me of the many opportunities I have had over the last few years to quietly roll my eyes and hold my tongue when individuals have made some completely unsubstantiated or one might even say ignorant comments concerning my wife’s situation, be it their answer for her needs, their thoughts on what they think we may, may not or should be doing about it or their telling me about some “new research” they’ve just read about… that I had already told them about in the previous months!
But as I studied out a couple of the words in verses 12 & 13, I began to see that I had missed the crux of the thought that the Apostle was trying to convey to his readers.  In Colossians 3:12 we are told to “be sympathetic, kind, humble, gentle and patient.” (God’s Word ©)  Another older translation says to “Put on… bowels of” these Christian characteristics.  (KJV) The word “bowels” in the original language was used to define “the seat of the more violent passions, such as anger and love – but by the Hebrews as the seat of tenderer affections, especially kindness, benevolence and compassion.” (Thayer’s Greek Definitions)
Instead of bluntly telling us to “Put up with each other” the King James Version begins the next verse saying: “Forbearing one another…”  It is interesting to note that the meaning of “forbearing” is “to hold oneself up against another or to put up with.” (Strong’s)  The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges further explains that “The life of Christian patience has beneath it the living secret of love, the effect and reflection of the love of Christ.”  The People’s New Testament simply states: “Christ is (to be) our example”
So when you combine the actions of “putting on bowels of mercy” and “forbearing one another” according to the original purpose of those activities, one sees that it is actually opposite to my inner smirk and the rolling of my eyes, but entails an immediate yielding of the heartfelt passion of Christ’s love inside of you to those who might not be saying or doing the nicest things toward you!
And let me tell you… I’m learning through my many actual experiences of late, that this is NOT an easy thing to do!  It not only takes a lot of time in God’s Word, but also a lot of time in allowing that Word to become a part of you – to allow that Word to become second nature to you so that it is what instantly pops out when the attacks come… and believe me… they will come!  One thing about the enemy of our souls is that he is good at his job… and he’ll use whatever or WHOEVER he can to come against us!
The exciting part about this subject is that however good he may be though, we – with Christ actively residing and reigning in us - are far better… far stronger!  No matter how much your natural side may want to strike out to those who offend us, the power of Christ’s passionate, heartfelt love working in and through us is the best weapon we have in our spiritual arsenal!
So, I’m learning not to be so quick to roll my eyes at the statements of others, but to pause, take a deep breath and allow the love of Christ fill me up and then flow out to those around me!  How about you?  Have a great day.  Stay in tine to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Who’s ways am I expecting to flow with today?”