The new house!

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

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Communities of Faith

I have mentioned numerous times in the past the apartment home communities that seem to be very popular out here in North Carolina.  They are not separate apartment buildings but a neighborhood of multiple buildings, with multiple streets and amenities unto their own.  In our old home town in California you could compare them to one of the larger retirement communities in the city.  I can’t say that I have even seen a stand-alone apartment complex in either of the two cities that we currently live in the midst of!
There is a new “Ultra Luxury” (as they are advertising it!) community going up just down the road from our neighborhood.  We’ve been watching the construction ever since we’ve been here, as we pass the site on our way to the Super Walmart or our daughter’s home situated just a few miles north of us.
It has been interesting to observe the regular progress that they have been making.  For a long time it looked like an exercise of somewhat organized confusion as they seemed to be working on three or four unrelated, differently styled buildings at the same time.  It was hard to see how all of it was going to fit together… especially as an “Ultra Luxury” neighborhood!
Now after many months of work, the plan, purpose and design of the project is more visible as the majority of the buildings have their exterior facades in a more completed form.  It is a lot easier to see the multiple apartment home buildings, the multilevel parking garage, the floor to ceiling windows encased recreation room which looks to eventually have an indoor pool and the office center.  The project now resembles what Paul said in Ephesians 2:21 in the King James Version concerning “building(s) fitly framed together…”
That construction project down the road from our soon to be past residence, when put in reference with Ephesians 2:21 got me to thinking about the “Communities of Faith” that each of us have developed in our lives.  The business world might refer to these groupings of family, friends and acquaintances as our personal network of contacts.  Think about it for a moment… You have a group of people and a personal routine that you live within on a daily basis.  You could call it your own little world that you have (knowingly or not) established over the years.
My wife and I watched a Hallmark movie over the weekend about a long term married couple that was about to become “empty nesters.”  They had one child off at college and another who just graduated high school and would be leaving for an out of state school at the end of the summer.  The movie centered around their various discussions, trials and tribulations about if and how they would handle the big change that was looming in their future.
When the movie was over I began to consider that my wife and I never really had an opportunity to discuss and plan for that change when it came to our close knit family a few years back.  The attack on my wife’s health was definitely a game changer!  Suddenly I found myself without any of our kids at home, my wife having physical and mental difficulties so that we couldn’t communicate with the same methods as we always had before and a former network of family, friends and acquaintances that was totally different than before we had left to live and attend school in Oklahoma three years previously.
It was like we were left over puzzles pieces to the greater puzzle of life!  Most of the time it felt like we were square pegs trying to fit… or be forced… into round holes!  And you know… that hurts and can leave bruises!
Now that we have closed the deal on a new home… the first home we can really call our own since the early 1990’s… I am beginning to realize the Lord’s handiwork in our lives!  Ephesians 2:22 takes the idea of the building spoken of in the previous verse and relates it as a part of our lives saying: “Through him you, also, are being built in the Spirit together with others into a place where God lives.” (God’s Word ©)
Looking back I can see the old “Community of Faith” or network that we lived within for many years.  Our family’s life was deeply incorporated with our church and ministry there, our extended family, our homeschool group, the neighborhoods we lived in, soccer and ballet, my outside jobs and all the people we all interacted with within that framework.  Most of that either wasn’t a part of our lives when we returned to California or had changed in purpose and vision… as had we, after Bible School and the shocking revelations of what was happening with Piper.
The last year in North Carolina has been exciting and yet a bit un-nerving as we have begun to make our new home on the other end of the country.  Throughout it all though, I must admit that we have had a great inner peace and the definite sense that we are "home."  With the new house, as I stated previously, I am beginning to see God’s hand in the beginnings of the foundation of a new “Community of Faith” for us.  With the home as an anchoring point, I see our new neighborhood, town, community involvement and possibly a church closer to our home as the pieces of the building of our lives that are being “fitted together… with others into a place where God lives.”
You know… I’m kind of excited and in great and wonder-filled expectation about all of this… just as you should be about your life in Christ as well!  God has wonderful and wonder-filled experiences planned for you.  Remember that our “Faith assures us of things we expect and convinces us of the things that we cannot (yet) see.” (Hebrews 11:1 God’s Word ©)  So don’t give in to the not so positive things that might be knocking at your door.  Keep your expectations on Him and His Word.  Always trust His Word in deference to what opposing circumstances may attempt to project toward you and your family.  Because you understand that it is always Through him you, also, are being built in the Spirit together with others (in your “Community of Faith”) into a place where God lives.” (Ephesians 2:22 God’s Word ©)
Have a great day!  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or in Whom am I expecting my “Community of Faith” to be built?”

Monday, September 28, 2015

Come and Listen to a Story...

“Come and listen to a story about a man named Jed,

 A poor mountaineer, barely kept his family fed,

 And then one day he was shooting at some food,

 And up through the ground came a bubblin crude.

 … Oil that is, black gold, Texas tea.”

Well, I may not be called Jed, I’m not poor and definitely not in need of more food… but I have been out hunting and did come up with what might be considered Texas tea!

It all began at the beginning of the month during a meeting with our financial advisor.  Toward the end of our session we began to talk about our house hunting and he suggested that we take a look around the little town of Fuguay-Varina about 40 minutes south of us.  Darrin had originally had his office there before taking over the one in the larger city of Cary.  I think he still lives there.  Anyway, he explained how the area is very nice, has lower housing costs and retains its small town charm, even though it has been seeing some growth due to its proximity to the Research Triangle – Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill -area.
So, on Labor Day weekend I got on the internet and did a search on some of the local real estate sites and found a couple of potential homes in that area that had just been listed.  One of the homes in a rural neighborhood caught my eye so our daughter, Piper and I drove out to take a peek at the outside of the place.  As we motored by the neat looking little three bedroom home sitting on almost ¾ of an acre, we saw the owner standing at the mailbox on the street, so we stopped to chat.  She invited us in to take a peek and we got a guided tour!  We like what we saw and came back the next day with our realtor for a closer inspection.
When I got back into our car parked in the shade on the driveway where I had left Piper who was fast asleep, she stirred and opened her eyes.  I was quite excited about the home and really coveted Piper’s input, so I asked her what she thought and she did the most interesting thing…  She opened her eyes wide, looked up at the house and physically moved her head back and forth while she scanned the home and property and smiled!  Then she put her head down and closed her eyes…  Well… you guessed it!  I took that as a definite sign of agreement, so we made an appointment with our realtor for the next day to formulate an offer on the home.
The bad news came the next morning when our realtor called to inform us that the sellers had accepted another offer even before we could tender ours.  We were disappointed but not necessarily deterred.  We simply handed it over to the Lord and prayed that if it was ours that something would change that would be good for all involved.  For the next few weeks we focused our attention on homes in the greater Raleigh area, although none of them gave us warm fuzzes! 
Then on this last Thursday as our daughter, Piper and I were doing a bit of quick shopping at Target, I received a call from our realtor with the news that the other deal on the Fuguay-Varina house had suddenly fallen through and we had first dibs on the home!  Whoppee!  So we jumped at the opportunity, drove to the realtor’s office on Friday in the heavy rain and put together an offer.  Later that night she called to let us know that they had countered our offer with an amount that was still very pleasing to us…  so we accepted!
On Saturday, after emailing contracts back and forth, we got the “It’s officially yours” notice!  Is God good or what!  The house has everything that we had on our needs list and a lot more!  It is just a few minutes out of town, is in a well maintained and friendly rural neighborhood, has a large fenced yard and our property line goes for another 20 feet into a wooded area beyond the back fence!  To us, this is just another example of God’s “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think – far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams” nature! (KJV/The Message)
One of the first scriptures that I ever memorized back in my early Christian days before we were married was Philippians 4:19 where Paul declared that “My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (KJV)  I would unequivocally have to say that this verse is just as special and prevalent to me (and to each of you) today as it was over forty years ago… wouldn’t you?
I just wanted to share a testimony of God’s faithfulness in order to bolster your expectations and faith today.  Don’t ever give up on Him… Don’t ever give up on your Spirit anointed dreams and aspirations!  I also encourage you to dream big and never allow your circumstances to put God in a box.   Have a great week.  Stay in tune and focused on His Word, and keep asking yourself… “In What or in Whom am I expecting His exceeding abundantly above today?

Friday, September 25, 2015


I have always been one that tends to learn by example.  As such I would consider myself to be a somewhat keen observer of people… especially of those that I hold in high esteem.  As a Christian I have always kept a watchful eye on the men and women that I consider to be leaders and/or generals within the body of Christ.  One of those individuals is the pastor I served under for around twelve plus years beginning in the mid 1990’s.
One of the important techniques he taught and demonstrated to me in his daily responsibilities while ministering to others, was to find out where the individual was in their faith before praying and working with them.  At one point in our service to that church I had an opportunity to put this tool to work when the Pastor was out of town on a convention.
While standing in for him, I received a call from a parishioner concerning another member of our congregation who was in the hospital and was reported to be nearing his final days on this earth.  When my wife and I entered the hospital room, I was a bit shaken and unknowingly squeezed Piper’s hand for additional strength as the gentleman was lying with his eyes closed in bed, was quite pale and to be honest… I thought he might have already passed!
After a few moments I was able to take a long breath as he finally began to stir and open his eyelids when I softly called out his name.  Once he recognized us and became a little more alert, the color seemed to return to his face and we began to talk.  We opened up with some light hearted conversation and humorous antidotes and then when he relaxed and looked to be enjoying the gathering, we began to discuss his situation in earnest.
Thinking about what Pastor Jerry would do in this situation, I asked him what he wanted to do… and where his faith was concerning this desire.  It was pretty evident that he was not ready to go home to be with the Lord and felt like he still had things to do for the Lord even though he was well advanced in years.  So Piper and I stood in faith with him, shared the Word with his faith expectations in mind, and prayed to the Lord for him in that vain.  This particular story also had a good ending as our brother was soon released from the hospital and lived for another year or so before going home, satisfied I might add, to receive his just reward.
Now, I told that story as an example of one individual being a “copycat” of someone else.  I may not have said the same exact words nor followed the same physical manner of steps that our Senior Pastor might have taken if he had been there, but I did seek to copy the pattern and truth of what he taught and I’d seen him do many times over the years, within the realm of my personal gifts and talents.
I believe this is the same thing that Paul is trying to convey to us in the latter part of Ephesians 2:10 when he declared that “He (Papa God) has created us in Christ Jesus to live lives filled with good works that he has prepared for us to do.” (God’s Word ©)  As I read this section of scripture my immediate thought was: “What are these good works that He is talking about?”  And from deep inside I quickly remembered John 14:12 where Jesus told His disciples toward the end of His ministry here on the earth, “I guarantee this truth.  Those who believe in me (like you and me…) will do the things I am doing.  They will do even greater things because I am going to the Father.” (God’s Word ©)
The Message Bible says that I “am giving you the same work to do that I’ve been doing.”  These scriptures seem to make it fairly clear that as Christians we have been tasked to do the same type of things on this earth that our Lord Jesus did when He was here.  The Great Commission commands that Jesus gave to us at the end of Matthew and Mark also seemed to confirm this… and in those verses He gives us the legal right and authority to use His name and the power invested in THAT name to accomplish His work on the earth!
Now if that doesn’t make you stop and reconsider your Christian walk and the effects it can… and should have… in your daily life, then I don’t know what would!  Maybe this is where you should stop reading and go splash some cold water on your face!  This is not the same message that many of us were taught all our lives!  But to me, the scriptures seem to be pretty vocal and straight forward about this.  We are to be “copycats” of Jesus here on this earth!
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a “copycat” as “a person who does the same thing as someone else; A person who adopts the behavior, style. etc., of someone else.”  I was accused of being a “copycat” of our Senior Pastor a few times by some disgruntled church members back then… and to be honest… I took it as a compliment!  I would also LOVE to hear someone call me a “copycat” of Jesus… wouldn’t you?
Get into your Bible and check it out from the point of view of this blog and I believe that you just might begin to see some things you never saw before.  I dare you to go out this weekend seeing yourself as “the head and not the tail… above and not beneath” (See Deuteronomy 28:13 & 44).  I’ll bet that you’ll find yourself walking with a big smile on your face, a fresh hop in your step and a new self-confidence and expectancy that you never thought was attainable before!  Have a great weekend.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “In What or in Whom am I expecting to walk triumphantly today?”

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

"Made in ___________"

For some reason I have taken a deeper interest in the candidates and issues that are prevalent in the upcoming presidential elections next year here in the USA.  Throughout the years I have lightly followed the various campaigns and the hot issues during the elections, but this year just seems somewhat more important to me than the others.  I think our inability to vote in 2009 has strengthened my resolve to be an even more knowledgeable and active participant in the election process.
Back then we were still in Oklahoma, but according to the Registrar of Voters we were in a sort of No-Man’s-Land or Catch 22 situation!  I had done my homework before we moved there and learned that since we would only be temporary residents attending school in a state other than our home state, that we could keep our California drivers licenses while maintaining the Suburban’s registration in our home state as well. 
The only time that things got a bit sticky for us was when my daughter and I got pulled over on the way to school one morning driving the car that a fellow student and co-worker had given us.  The confusion came when the city policeman questioned why the car had Oklahoma plates and was registered to us with a Broken Arrow address… but California driver’ licenses! 
When I explained our temporary-in school status the officer was not too pleased.  It became rather obvious that he was not a fan of our Bible School which was well known and had a good standing in the community.  It seems that he felt like our school did not necessarily meet the qualifications for the law I cited.  I must admit that the whole time I was in Oklahoma, I met very few people who did not hold a high regard for our school.  And although he was not pleased about it, he did not push that issue anymore and only ticketed us for late tags (oophs!)
But the reason I said all this is to explain that since we did not have Oklahoma driver’s licenses, we were not considered Oklahoma residents by the Registrar of Voters and could not vote there nor as an absentee resident from California because I listed our address as being in Oklahoma!  (Does that make sense?)  I later learned that I probably could have listed my folk’s home as our home state address since we had stored a lot of our things with them and planned to live with them temporarily when we returned.  I just remember feeling very out-of-place when we couldn’t vote and resolved to not let that happen again!
In watching the two Republican debates, I noticed that among the many hot issues discussed were included immigration, the minimum wage and bringing manufacturing jobs back to America.  The subject of bringing manufacturing jobs back into this country hits a particularly hot button for me as I (and a few thousand others) lost my job back in the early 2000’s to economic downturn and the subsequent overseas outsourcing of our jobs to Malaysia.
I have the habit nowadays of turning over almost everything I pick up in a store to find the tag that tells where it was made!  And to be honest, most of the time it says “Made in China.”  Very seldom do I find items that are made in America.  In fact, that unique qualification seems to have become a marketing tool nowadays as it is hard to find items 100% made in our home country.  I raed the other day that the car that has its various parts mostly made and assembled in the USA is a Toyota!
With all that in mind, I had to stop in my Bible study in Ephesians two the other morning and consider what people would see if they turned me over… What would they find my “Made In _______” sticker to say?  How about yours?  Ephesians 2:10 tells us that “God has made us what we are.  He created us in Christ Jesus to live lives filled with good works that he has prepared for us to do.” (God’s Word ©) The King James Version says that “we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus.”  Hopefully that’s what people will find stamped on me!
The original Greek for “workmanship” describes the word as meaning “a product or fabric.” (Strong’s)  So according to that thought, you and I are His product or made from the same fabric as He is.  Interesting huh?  It gets even better when you look at that tiny little preposition “in.”  Vincent’s Word Studies says that “it originally means to make habitable.”  That immediately got me wondering that since we are God’s workmanship, created “in” Christ… then what are we supposed to be inhabited with… and the answer was pretty simple: Jesus Christ and the truth of His Word!
Strong’s defines “in” as “a fixed position in place, time or state; instrumentality.”  So if we are “in Christ” we stand and operate in and from a fixed position in Him with His character and power. The describes “instrumentality” as “The state of being instrumental or a subsidiary branch, as of a government by means of which functions and policies are carried out.”
That definition would go right along with 2 Corinthians 5:20 where Paul declares that we “are ambassadors for Christ…” (KJV)  In other words, as Christians, you and I are representatives or a subsidiary branch of the kingdom of God and are responsible for and commissioned to carry out the functions and policies of His kingdom on this earth as detailed in His Word!
Now when you think about it… that responsibility carries with it a lot of weight and potential power to make positive changes in our places of assignment doesn’t it?  I would say so!  If you carry that revelation a bit further, it becomes quite apparent that you and I therefore do have some definite say so concerning the daily events of our lives… right?  We don’t have to simply be moved to and fro with the daily swings of life, but because of our position, the truth of His Word and the love and grace of our Papa God, can make a difference in our world today!
I’d better stop there for now… as that is a lot for us to chew on!  Check it out for yourself.  It may cause you to make a complete paradigm shift in the understanding of your Christian walk in line with your position “in Christ.”  I’ll share a little more on Friday… but until then… Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or in Whom am I expecting to empower and change my world today?”

Monday, September 21, 2015

Flint... and the Spark of Life!

Today was one of those mornings where Piper seemed suddenly in tune to the Word of God that we have been speaking over her for three plus years.  As I was confessing the Word at her bedside where she quietly lay with her eyes closed and her head snuggled comfortably on her pillow, I came to Matthew 14:36 and personalized the verse from the King James Version in agreement with the Lord stating that “As many as have touched the Lord Jesus, as You said Piper has, are made perfectly whole and complete, as You said Piper is.”
When I neared the end of the verse Piper suddenly woke up, arched her left eyebrow, smiled and nodded her head in agreement!  That expression caused me to pause and I laughed and declared to her: “You agree with that… don’t you?”  To which she again smiled and vigorously nodded her head…. Then she closed her eyes and went quiet again.
Have you ever witnessed what happens when you strike two pieces of flint (a type of quartz – ie; extremely hard rock) together?  A spark is created.  I believe that is a good explanation for what happened to my wife today… not that she’s a hard rock… but one who all her life has been sensitive and in veracious faith toward the Word of the living God.  All it took this morning was for me to strike that faith with the Rock of our salvation and she sparked to life!
That experience seemed to go real well with the scripture I had been studying before I got her up for the day.  Ephesians 2:21 tells us “In him all the parts of the building fit together and grow into a holy temple in the Lord.” (God’s Word ©)  Our unified faith in the spoken Word sparked life into my wife and I this morning and rekindled our faith in her whole and complete healing… for in a sense… we touched the Lord Jesus and received a portion of what Matthew 14:36 declares!  She sparked with a flash of life as a result of our faith in the power of Hs Word and His name.
I think that this is one of the experiences we can and should expect when we Christians come together in Him and unite in our expectancy for His miraculous works in our daily lives… don’t you? 
I was once asked what I thought were the reasons for our long and successful marriage.  In response I rattled off some things like love, team work, unselfishness and then after a moment of thought declared the main key was our united purpose to serve the Lord.  It seems like Piper and I were focused on seeking out and then doing whatever the Lord wanted us to do from the very first days of our relationship… even though at the time I had almost ZERO idea of how to do that… I just sensed that it was the right thing to do! (and am thankful for Piper’s patience… and training!)
During the current phase in our lives I have also learned firsthand what it means to have and not have Christians in unity of faith with us.  Those who have come along side of us have been a source of constant encouragement and unbelievable strength to both Piper and I… while those who haven’t have caused hours of frustration, intermixed with mental and emotional distress.
Over the last six years we have grown much closer with those who have joined in with us where we are in our walk of faith.  With the others, the distance between has continued to grow to the point that much of our past relationship is turning into but a foggy memory to me.
The book of Ephesians enforces the truth of how He is to be the source of our faith, our life and our joyful and successful unity with others.  We may not always agree with other’s methods or decisions, but we don’t have a lot of excuses to not stand together with other believers in Him… in His love and in His faithfulness to us in times of need… wouldn’t you agree?  He is the one that keeps us together, keeps us strong, and gives us the ability to see sparks of life like I witnessed with Piper this morning!
Have a great week!  Keep striking together the Rock of His Word in your life… and keep asking yourself.. “In What or in Whom am I expecting to stay in unity with today?”

Friday, September 18, 2015

Uncovering Your Real

Have you ever seen one of those programs on TV where one of the good guys in law enforcement will go under cover in order to infiltrate the bad guy’s organization so as to gain evidence to bring them down?  I related Paul’s statement in Ephesians 2:20 to that experience as I read from God’s Word over the last few days…  Not necessarily the act of going under cover, but the new background that needs to be established for the uncover agent so that his or her ruse is not discovered.
Ephesians 2:20 tells us that we “are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.” (KJV)  It would seem that as Christians we suddenly have a new background that has been developed for us that is not based on our natural past or heritage, but upon the doctrine and spiritual heritage of the saints and prophets of God.  It is a new lineage that is established on who we are in Christ… as members of the family of GOD!
The big difference between my TV example and our new background as Christians would be that in the TV scenario the character’s new background is a fake, simply established to protect the assignment.  As Christians, our new background is factual data that is honestly based on who and/or what the Word of God says we are!  I guess a closer TV example would be the premise of one of my favorite TV shows from the early 1980’s, Knight Rider.
Okay… Okay… stop laughing!  I bet many of you who are around my age watched it too!  To be honest, it was probably more the car than the actors and action scenes (which were pretty hokey compared to today’s standards!) that drew me to the show!  At that time I really wanted to get a new Pontiac Firebird Trans Am.  In fact ,we came very close to purchasing one…  We ended up at a dealership in the neighboring town of Petaluma and had spent quite a while finagling a deal with the salesman who had been one of Piper’s Dad’s student government officers when he was the Dean of Student Activities at the local Junior College.
We had a particular color that we wanted (probably black…) and agreed that they would search the northern California dealerships to find one.  If the search was not positive, we told him that we would purchase the white, loaded with lots of extras, model we test drove.  Well, the search (supposedly) went on for about two weeks with many phone calls from me and hardly any feedback from the salesman. 
Finally my wife and I got a bit disgusted and decided that it most likely was the Lord trying to tell us something… so we called and cancelled the deal.  Then, a few weeks later we found a deep red Pontiac Bonneville wagon at another dealership, set it up with mags and wide tires and my wife drove away with a huge smile on her face.  Besides… the wagon was a lot more practical for our growing family than was the Firebird… maybe not as much fun… but more appropriate!  About fifteen years later I did get my Firebird type car in the form of a Camaro which was actually built on the same body platform as the 1983 Firebird we almost purchased!  And... my uncle had a new Firebird that I could always drool over!
But back to my original thought… In the Knight Rider series the main character had been shot in the face and left for dead in the pilot of the series.  He was nursed back to health by a rich mentor, given constructive cosmetic surgery that gave him a new image and a brand new identity.  From that point on, the previous twenty some years of His life simply did not exist.  His new background was, for all intent and purposes, who Michael Knight was.
According to Ephesians 2:20… that is exactly like you and me!  Our new background... our Godly heritage... is who we are!  The old life simply does not exist anymore.  Our new lives are based on “the foundation of the apostles and prophets!”  Another great example is the commercial that is currently running on TV.  In it the actor tells how he grew up thinking and acting like he was German only to discover through a DNA test that his family was actually of Scottish decent!
Again that is similar to you and me as member of the family of God.  We may have been raised with a natural family that is of a certain natural decent… but as Christians we discover that our real heritage now traces back to the kingdom of God as established in the Word through the apostles and prophets!  It is who we REALLY are!  But again we have a choice to make…
We can choose to ignore our real heritage and go with the flow of our natural background and senses or endeavor to learn of, develop and then assimilate our new heritage into our lives.  That truth has helped me to understand how two individuals can be born and raised into the same family, follow similar career paths, attend churches from the same denomination and hold most of the same family, social and spiritual values but yet be so different when responding to the challenging times in life.  I believe the difference lies in the depth of their new heritage that they have assimilated into their daily lives.
Now I also understand that different personality types and personal experiences can play into this as well, but from my experience, our spiritual genes have the power to even override these powerful influences, for the Word tells us that the things that may be difficult or impossible with the natural man “are possible with God.” (Luke 18:27 KJV)
I found myself telling Piper at different times throughout the day yesterday that she comes from a heritage that declares her to be “strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Ephesians 6:10 KJV), that she has overcome this attack on her health “by the blood of the lamb and the word of their (our) testimony.” (Revelation 12:11) and that “by whose (Jesus’) stripes ye were healed.” (I Peter 2:24 KJV).  THAT IS WHO THE WORD SAYS THAT SHE IS!!!  Her natural family background and heritage has NO hold, NO power and NO say so in who she is as a born-again, Spirit-filled, faithful follower of Jesus Christ.  She’s been a member of the family of God since she was eight years old and that is the ONLY heritage that matters… and you know… the same is TRUE for you and me as Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ!
So who or what are you going to believe… and trust your life too…  The family tree that is written in the front pages of Grandma’s Bible… or in the life-giving Word of our one true Papa God?  So… have a great weekend.  Rejoice in your true heritage and keep asking yourself… What or Who’s information am I expecting to be a part of today?”

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Insider Trading

In 1999 Hewlett Packard spun off their original electronic test equipment divisions as Agilent Technologies.  At that time I was a Process Supervisor in the fabrication area of the new company.  As a member of the management team I noticed some immediate differences in the way the business was run.  One of the desired results of the spin off into two separate entities was to decrease the levels of hierarchy and therefore the corresponding time needed in the decision making process.  There was also a much greater focus on the shareholders in the daily workings of the business.
With that in mind, production leadership became more privy to the decisions that would directly affect our stock prices.  As time progressed we were schooled in the laws concerning “Insider Trading” as some of the data we received in order to plan our production needs and schedules was considered “nonpublic information” that could affect our stock prices and options.  The sharing of such information is considered highly illegal in the United States.
In studying Ephesians 2:6 this morning I realized that we Christians are in a similar situation as we are seated in a position from which to receive “Insider Trader” information directly from the decision making conference rooms of heaven!  The BIG DIFFERENCE being that it IS NOT illegal for us to use and share this information.  The God’s Word © translation tells us that “God has brought us back to life together with Christ Jesus and has given us a position in heaven with him.”
You and I sit in the same room, right next to the One who is making the decisions that concern everything that we do on this earth!  Talk about having the inside scoop!  Every time we open up our Bibles and study the information that it contains, we are accessing the will of the God of the universe! 
One of the first things Jesus told His disciples was “After this manner therefore pray thee: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.  Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9-10 KJV).  Then, as if to confirm His early instructions,  just before He suffered and died on the cross for us, He prayed to the Father: “Sanctify (or set apart) them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” (John 17:17 KJV)
Just as when I was a member of the production management team at one of the premier electronics companies in the world and was privy to “Insider Trading” information, you and I have a seat together with Christ in the very throne room of the premier kingdom of the universe and have regular access to “Insider Trading” information that can lead us, teach us, and directly affect the outcome of our lives!
What do you have to say about that?  Let me ask you a question… Do you live your daily life under that assumption?  Do you regularly seek His “Insider Trading” – “nonpublic” information that assures you of living a life within the parameters of His will?  When times are good… or when times are tough… do you endeavor to seek out and follow the information that is not accessible (but can be through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ…) to those who are not members of the body of Christ?
Do you realize that with His “Insider Trading” information you and I can rewrite the daily headlines in our local newspapers or online news reports?  Why else do you think that Joshua would tell his followers that “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord?” (Joshua 25:15 KJV)  He had proved what I just wrote by listening to the Lord’s directions and witnessing how the insignificant, wandering nation of Jewish outcasts had rewritten the headline news within the land of Canaan!
That’s what I want!  At times like this I know to rewrite the old adage and say: WHAT you know is important when used in agreement with WHO you know!”  You and I have the privilege of having “Insider Trading” information… so why not use that information to your advantage?  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Who’s INSIDER TRADING information am I expecting to put to use today?”

Monday, September 14, 2015

Insiders vs Outsiders...

As I was getting things ready for bedtime last night, I stopped at one point to pet the dog who was lying in my pathway.  While I absently mindedly scratched behind her ears, I happened to focus in on the tags attached to her collar.  I felt a warmth of comfort and security in knowing that she was safe, protected and well cared for as I viewed her license, up-to-date rabies tag, “Get Me Home” online ID plate and microchip ID information.  For years she also wore a tag that had her name and our phone number, but I took it off after we had the microchip put in.  
To me, all that information demonstrated or “marked” her as being an “Insider” with the established local protocol for the community of pet owners.  If she was ever was to get out (again…) those tags would tell her finders that she was loved and had a home to return to.
I also got to thinking about “Insiders” as I continued to read from Ephesians chapter one over the weekend and again today.  I mentioned in Friday’s blog post how F.B. Meyer commented that the book of Ephesians “has been called the ‘Epistle of In-ness’ because it is so full of the preposition ‘in’”.  It seems to me that Paul really wanted to push the point that Christians are “Insiders” when it comes to the family and things of God on this earth!
In Ephesians 1:13 he denotes that “In Him you were sealed with the Holy Spirit whom he promised.” (God’s Word ©)  The word sealed literally means to “to set a mark upon” (Thayer’s)  In other words, you and I have been marked as Christians… as being “Insiders” to all the love, wisdom, knowledge and understanding as well as all the blessings and benefits of the family of God.  WOW!  Think on that reality for a moment!
Ephesians 2:19 goes on to tell us that we “are no longer foreigners and outsiders but citizens together with God’s people and members of God’s family.” (God’s Word ©)  When I was confessing God’s Word of healing over Piper this morning, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the warmth of security and comfort in the realization of how close and included I felt to Papa God through His Word!  At that moment I had a physical revelation of what it means to be an “Insider” in God’s family.  His Word and its truth and accompanying feelings of being an “Insider” has been the provider of peace and expectation that has kept my wife and I going over the last six years.
On the other hand, I have experienced the harshness of being treated as an outsider from those I fully expected to have been treated differently by.  I’ve talked about this a lot in past blogs for it was a hard lesson that helped to draw me even closer to my “Insider” standing within Papa God’s family.  The accusations, incorrect assumptions and corresponding actions made by these folks to me, my kids and to common friends, not only shook me to the core but also forced me to quickly realize that it was going to be me against them!
It became very evident that when push came to shove, that I was considered by them to be an outsider.  They not only pulled away from us but also tended to demonstrate that the information I so openly shared with them (at the beginning) held no value or was of no importance to them as they acted as though I had never said anything to them on many occasions.  The worse part of it was how I felt that they deserted Piper in her greatest time of need.  All of a sudden she also became an outsider to them.
I now understand that this was the way that they chose to personally handle the toughness of the situation, as they were not comfortable around the changes in her and weren’t quite sure how to handle it all.  In doing so they made it seem like she was the outsider… but in reality I have come to see how they have actually become an outsider to her and thereby missing the opportunities to see and experience her life from her joyful and expectant point of view of God’s daily miracles.
I was very impressed with a friend of our younger son who almost immediately was drawn to Piper when we went to their wedding a year or so ago.  He took the time on every occasion that we were together to sit quietly with her, or talk to her and enjoy her presence and the joyful anointing that still surrounds her.  He did not let the looks of the situation affect his Godly love for her.  And even though she didn’t say much and was separated by her wheelchair, this young man still saw and drew her in as an “Insider” to all the wedding activities.
As a Christian you and I are “Insiders” to all the daily signs and wonders of God in our daily lives.  As “Insiders” we should be looking for and expecting the wonders and miracles of God in everything we do.  After all… you and I carry the name of the most high God!  We are set apart to participate with Him and those we come into contact with each day -  in His love, His goodness, His grace and the inclusiveness of the family of God.
So don’t act as an outsider but as an “Insider” who was purchased with a price and now has bold access to the very throne room of God… and along the way… make sure that you NEVER cause another person to ever feel as an outsider… no matter how different they are, what they look like, what their circumstances are or whether you agree with them or not! 
Have a great week.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or How am I expecting to act as an ‘INSIDER’ today?”


PS:  After writing and posting some 1185 blogs, five days a week for almost four years, I am sensing the need to make some changes, especially with everything going on in my life right now!  As of this week I am feeling led to reduce the posting of our blogs to three days a week – Monday, Wednesday and Fridays –
But – at the same time, I am looking into some new ministry challenges as I have been encouraged by many of our readers to formulate some of the blogs into a daily devotional book format.  I am also sensing that it might be the time to step out into some other challenges that I believe the Lord has been talking to me about for quite a while now!  So… hold on tight and we’ll see what He has in mind!  I find that I just keep asking myself… “What is God expecting me to do for Him today?”

Friday, September 11, 2015

Membership Has Its Privileges

One of the main reasons we choose the apartment homes community we now live in was because of the setting it is located in.  When we were back in California our daughter had sent us a bunch of links to apartment homes (basically they’re a neighborhood unto their own and are very popular out here) near them.  This particular one set itself apart for us because of its tree-studded surroundings, large grass areas and beautiful flowering gardens strategically placed around the multiple building clusters.
The neighborhood actually sits at the corner of a pretty busy intersection, but the residents hardly know it because of the almost forest-like cushions blocking out the street view and noise.  Our apartment backs up to a CVS store, bank, our Vet and a quick lube business but is separated by a wide strip of pines and maples.  When we look out our living room windows all we see is green grass and beautiful trees!  Our complex also has a rather large pool and recreation area, a nice playground, a small gym filled with expensive looking equipment and a good sized dog park.
When we signed the lease we were given a special yellow identification pass, lock combination codes for the various gates and decals for our cars that allow us special parking privileges and access to all the special events and accoutrements that living here offers.  The apartment homes residence website also offers special discounts from local businesses that are only available to residents.  I guess that you could sum it all up by stating that “membership has its privileges!”
I read this morning in “Through the Bible Day by Day by F.B. Meyer” that the book of Ephesians “has been called the Epistle of ‘In-ness’, because it is so full of the preposition ‘in’.”  I get the idea from this that “membership has its privileges” is also true when it comes to being a Christian!  In verses 9-13 we find the phrases “through Christ” and “in Christ” repeated over and over again when it comes to describing the benefits of being a member of the body of Christ.
One of the changes that I realized right away when we started to look at houses in the area is that once we purchase a home that I will be responsible for all the repairs!  One of the benefits of renting is that all I have to do when something needs fixing is to go on line, fill out a service request and usually within an hour or so the problem is fixed!
As a Christian I can employ similar benefits.  I may not need to go online to fill out a service request when needs arise, but all I have to do is pray and place the need in His hands.  He should always be the first source that we call on!  The Bible makes it quite clear that as Christians we should “never worry about anything.  But in every situation let God know what you need in prayers and requests while giving thanks.” (Philippians 4:6 God’s Word ©)
Like I’ve been writing about all week, I am continually amazed and a little confused at the same time when I witness some of my brothers and sisters in the Lord being anxious about negative reports and turning to the world for their answers and comfort… before they ever consider getting on their knees before the Lord!  Wouldn’t you say that they’ve got things a bit backwards here?
I’ve learned (at times the hard way) over the last six years to IMMEDIATELY seek the Lord’s guidance, for in most situations, I am craving the results of my requests to the Lord as Paul documented in the very next verse of Philippians chapter four where he explained these results saying: “Then God’s peace, which goes beyond anything we can imagine, will guard your thoughts and emotions through (hummm – another ‘through’) Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7 God’s Word ©)
From the way I see it… why put yourself through the un-needed and added stress of seeking someone’s or something’s opinion which is far less as consistent, trustworthy and positive as God’s Word???  Let’s face it… As members of the body of Christ, our answers are to be found in and/or through Him… and as far as I am concerned… That Settles It!
Have I gone over the edge here… or am I right on the money?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter!  Have a GREAT weekend.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Who’s answers am I expecting to seek today?”

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Product Support

One of the things I have learned through my experience upgrading my laptop’s operating system to Windows 10 has been to depend on quality product support from the various programs on my computer.  I noticed that I ran into problems when I tried to use unfamiliar websites/companies solutions when I needed to download the suggested fixes.  But every time I went directly to the program’s home site and followed their directions, I had success!
I’ve also learned that to be true in my Christian walk… and especially so during these last six years with the battle for my wife’s health!  With every decision we have had to make, we have endeavored to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness…”  (Matthew 6:33 MKJV)  In other words, we’ve learned through experience, that it is best to always go right to the product manufacturer for high quality and accurate results! 
In fact, we had predisposed to follow this course of action before we ever left Oklahoma to come back home and get a definitive understanding of the three different brain scans and other testing that Piper went through at the various Oklahoma State University hospital clinics.  From the very beginning, we sought to find out His will and plan for us with all the medical reports and corresponding suggestions for the best steps, medicines and procedures to follow, when researching potential available benefits to help with the costs, possible caretaking solutions and living arrangements.
As a student of the Word I am both fascinated and disheartened as I look back now and recall the various responses of other Christians we interacted with throughout those initial decision making times.  Some of the reactions were not at all what I expected!  My fascination comes in trying to understand how some would seem to immediately bypass their faith and trust in Papa God and His Word and put all their hope into what we considered to be haphazard procedures, medical practices, and financial courses of action solely based on worldly security or on that which they could only see with their natural senses.
My disheartenment comes from seeing them lose any hope for Piper’s healing, falling into depression, drifting away from us and failing to enjoy with us the daily little miracles we have been experiencing throughout this adventure in faith.   Since those early days, these same folks have occasionally mentioned that they are praying for us.  And you know… to be perfectly honest… I have to wonder what it is they are praying for as they have not been in agreement with us and our predetermined decision to follow the Lord and stay hooked up to Him and His Word (ie; His will for us).
Ephesians 1:12 in the God’s Word © translation gives us some insight into God’s plans for each of us.  It reads that “He planned all of this (ie, our history as stated in verse 10) so that we who had already focused our hope (or expectations) on Christ would praise him and give him glory.” 
Now I understand that in the context of Paul’s thoughts here, this is referring to those Jews who first accepted Christ, but I also see it as a type and shadow for those of us who purpose ahead of time to live our lives with the predetermined understanding that we will face every obstacle and/or mountain with Him, as we have already focused our expectations on Him and thereby will praise Him and give Him the glory for the results.
Have you made the predetermination to focus all of your earnest expectations on Him in your daily life?  So that when the negative attacks occur you will automatically seek first His kingdom and His ways of righteousness… no matter what anyone else says or does around you?  I’ve learned through the years that Papa God has the best product support … and customer service in the universe!  So when things happen, why NOT trust in the best?  Kinda of a “No-Brainer” wouldn’t you say? 
Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Who’s PRODUCT SUPPORT am I expecting to depend on when things begin to break down?”

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

God's Intentions

I was thinking as we went on our late afternoon walk around the neighborhood yesterday about how much our dog has mellowed over the years… not that she hasn’t always been a mellow dog mind you!  But she had always been a runner.  In fact I’m sure that’s how she came to be in the shelter where my wife saw her some eleven years ago.  The dog’s information sheet simply stated that she was a “stray.”  The longer we had her, the more we came to realize that Piper had made a good choice except for one little thing… the dog would bolt out the front door and take off running at the slightest opportunity!
This downside led to many exciting experiences in our old neighborhood in western Santa Rosa, Oklahoma and then in eastern Santa Rosa when we first returned after Bible School.  Over the last couple of years though, she seems to be content to simply greet us at the front door and patiently wait for us to come in or go out!  But like I said, other than that she’s always been a pretty mellow pooch.  After her oral surgery a few weeks ago her Vet had given us some pain killers for her and mentioned to be careful when attempting to put the pills in her mouth, as most dogs don’t like you touching their mouths even without the soreness of the surgery.  Well, I assured her that Mandie didn’t mind and you know, the old girl almost opened her mouth for me during those first few days following her stay at the Vet.
As we walked yesterday I thought of all this but had to laugh as there is one negative behavior that has seemed to increase as she has gotten older.  When we go for a walk and she catches a scent of something on the ground she stiffens up, digs her paws in and refuses to move until she’s done checking it out!  Her final act of resistance is to simply lie down while she sniffs around her.  At that point she will not be called off for anything unless I grab onto her shoulder harness and physically pull her up to her feet!  She is fully INTENT on finishing her investigation on the particular scent that has caught her attention.
I am beginning to think that this is similar to Papa God’s INTENTIONS for you and me!  In reading the first twelve verses of Ephesians One, I have come to realize that there is a lot of talk of God’s plans, purposes and INTENTIONS for Believers.  And it is pretty clear that all of those plans, purposes and INTENTIONS are to be fulfilled in and through our relationship with Jesus Christ.
Webster’s original 1828 dictionary of the American English language says that “Intention is when the mind, with great earnestness and of choice fixes its view on any idea (or person of interest), considers it on every side, and will not be called off by the ordinary solicitation of the ideas.” (Parenthesis mine)  That definition sounds a lot like our dog when she catches a scent doesn’t it?  And I believe it is the same dogged determination that Papa God has about the completion of the plans, purposes and INTENTIONS that He has for us!
In preparation for a follow up meeting with our new financial advisor out here, I had to fill out what is called a “Retirement Worksheet.”  When I finally sat down to fill out the sheet, I slowly came to realize that I have not really thought that much about our retirement.  Six years ago we were set to return to California after Bible School, move up north to a smaller city a few hours away and start a church.  Then we got the detailed report of what was going on with my wife’s health and suddenly all of our plans went up in smoke!
As I stared at that worksheet and began to interact with the Lord concerning what was going on in my mind, I began to see the error of my ways.  I had almost come to the place where I dejectedly accepted the lie that God’s plans for us must have changed due to the current upheaval in our lives.  Then I understood… Yes, mountains have a risen before us, but God’s original plans for ministry for us are STILL the same!  He has fixed His view upon us and will not be called off by the ordinary solicitation of the idea that we can’t complete that which He has planned, purposed and INTENDED for us to do in this life!
It may be postponed a bit until we walk THROUGH this valley of the SHADOW of death (Psalm 23:4), but His timing is perfect and His plan, purpose and INTENT stays constant and consistent.
Well I got to tell you… That revelation put a whole new hop in my step of faith!  It encouraged me to smile, take a deep breath, stop feeling sorry for myself and grab unto God’s Word of life with a new fervor, excitement and EXPECTATION!  If God hasn’t changed His plans, purposes and INTENTIONS for me… than why should I?
Are or have any of you gone through a similar experience?  Maybe it is time to reconvene with your heavenly Father and get back in step with His original plans, purposes and INTENTIONS for your life… Have a good day.  Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What or Who’s plans, purposes and INTENTIONS am I expecting to get back to today?”