The new house!

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

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Affair...


I had originally planned to mow the back lawn last Saturday.  Throughout my regular morning activities in helping my wife up, have breakfast and then get ready for the day, I kept thinking about and planning our afternoon activities in the yard.  But then I started having some other thoughts!  I suddenly realized that I had numerous other projects in motion at the same time.  So as I began to lose my peace about mowing the lawn, I went to the Lord in prayer where I believe He showed me the importance of finishing one project at a time!

If there is one thing that I have settled in my heart over the years, it is the importance of yielding to the peace of God inside me.  On Saturday I had the feeling that He was telling me to not allow distractions to bring confusion into my life.  And you know… He was right.  I have had so many different things going on around here lately that at times, I didn’t really know which end was up!

Therefore I took Him at His word, rescheduled the yard work to the next day – besides another day of sunny weather would make the mowing easier – and spent the afternoon finishing the assembly of a decorative windmill I had purchased for an area in back that I am re-purposing and cleaned up a couple of other projects inside the house.  At the end of the day my inner peace had returned and on Sunday we attacked the yard with great vigor and actually enjoyed every moment of it!

Let me tell you… My wife and I have always had the innate ability to multi-task.  That’s probably one reason we have made such a good team over the years and were able to juggle the responsibilities of family, homeschool, ministry planning and events, and one or two outside jobs at the same time!  But the ability to multi-task is always a lot easier when you’re doing it with the peace of God leading you.  In this regard, one of the tricks I have learned is to be able to focus on the task before me while placing everything else into the hands of the Lord.  I think that this is where the peace of the Lord comes into play.  With everything in His hands, I don’t have to get anxious about the other responsibilities that are out there just waiting for me.

In my current responsibilities as a 24/7 caregiver to the one that I love more than anything else in this world, God’s peace has been a little harder to keep steadily abiding in me!  This job is quite different than anything else I have ever done!  Suddenly you find yourself in the position where another life is completely dependent on you!  And yes, I do have help, but in the day to day activities of this chapter in our lives, the buck still stops with me!  So… besides dealing with the physical aspects of my responsibilities for my wife, there’s the responsibilities of our stand of faith, the home, the dog, bills, doctors, other family members, interactions with neighbors and friends, and the list goes on and on.  Oh yea… Then there is also the need to take care of myself as well so that I can always be there for Piper.

So what’s my point here?  Simply, that in the midst of this current situation, I have found myself occasionally getting distracted and sometimes discombobulated within the responsibilities I need to accomplish as well as the other one’s that I add to the mix, like photography, landscaping projects, attempts at woodworking, reading, and simply taking time to toss the ball for the dog... all in order to keep a sense of sanity in my life!

The key to staying on track is to keep God’s plan, direction and vision for what He has told us to do after returning from Oklahoma in 2009, first and foremost in our sights.  I believe that things that I add to my primary responsibilities with Piper are fine… as long as they don’t cause me to get distracted away from the directions Papa God gave to us.

2 Timothy 2:4 cautions us that, “No one serving as a soldier entangles himself in the affairs of civilian life, in order that he may please the one having enlisted him.” (English Majority Text Version)  And believe me when I state that you’ll have all kinds of help in getting entangled in the affairs of life whenever you take a step of faith in order to receive the benefits of your salvation!  There are plenty of folks, opportunities and things that will vie for your attention!  It got so bizarre when we started stepping out in what we believe were God’s directions concerning my wife’s healing that we even had people fabricating stories about things we had supposedly done, were doing, or said!  It was so farfetched that if it wasn’t so sad it would actually be funny!

No, Paul is telling young Pastor Timothy in this letter to him, that his number one priority is to please the Lord who commissioned and sent him to Pastor the flock in his church, not anyone or anything else.  That goes the same today for you and me!  Piper and I knew the severity of what we were facing and decided early on that her life depended upon our obedience to God and His Word… and we have tried our best to not let other ideas, “suggestions” or the “I know what’s best for you” comments to distract us from what He has told us to do. 

Our sole desire has been to please the One who has commissioned and sent us to accomplish this responsibility.  That’s why we spend a lot of time in His Word on a regular basis through each and every day.  That’s why we’ve had to say “No” to certain suggestions or ideas, it is even one of the many reasons we moved out here!

I guess the final question for each of us today would be to ask yourself… “Who am I trying to please?”  Have you really ever faced that question?  Go ahead, give it a whirl!

Have a terrific rest of the week, and as you do, keep asking yourself…  “Whose affairs am I expecting to entangle myself in today?”

Monday, August 28, 2017

The Empowerment of GRACE...


The three familiar bright yellow school buses that turn around right in front of our house both morning and afternoon on weekdays, appeared again this morning! And with that, the summer break has come to an official end for the thousands of students that live in our great state.

The sight of Harnett County school bus number 23 earlier today brought back many memories of my school days beginning at St Rose Parochial School in Santa Rosa, California.  Then to Matanzas Elementary for one year when my family moved to the other side of town and eventually back to Parochial School at St Eugene’s, once the opening for me came up.  After that it was Slater Junior High and Montgomery High… where my life would be forever changed (& quite blessed I might add) when I met a bubbly young brunette by the name of Piper Canevari.

In the fall of 1971 we began attending classes at Santa Rosa Junior College and then traveled to Chico State in 1973 for a year of studies after which I decided to forgo my senior year in order to start a photography business with a friend.  From there we skip ahead about five years when I went back to college at Sonoma State University to complete my degree… but it wasn’t over yet!  Though I wanted to go right after I finally graduated college, I had to wait another 25 years before I could fulfill a big dream to attend Bible College which I joyfully completed in 2008.  And is that it?  Well, you never know…  We’ll see what the good Lord has in mind!

One of the many things I clearly remember about my school years, especially from junior high through college at Chico State, was the trepidation that I would feel when I took that first glance at the new schedule of classes for the new year or semester.  It was different at Sonoma State as I was specializing in adolescent and family psychology and was quite excited about what I might get to learn, especially as we were just starting our own family and ministry with youth at the church.

The same can be said for my time at Bible College.  Each new class schedule produced a hunger and thirst for God’s Word and the practicality of putting it to work not only in my life, but in the ministry settings that I had come to thoroughly enjoy over the years.

I think that it is through the practicality of all our studies we learn in school that we learn the greatest lessons in life.  In the practicality of life’s lessons we build on the foundations of who we are, how we think, and how we respond to others.  One of the biggest lessons I learned, in the midst of very difficult times and caustic experiences over the last ten years is the reality of God’s GRACE.  I feel like the Apostle Paul was talking directly to me when he penned to his son-in-the-Lord Timothy “Therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” (II Timothy 2:1 MKJV)

As I studied this verse today, I thought about three important aspects of His GRACE that I have ascertained with all my wife and I have been through… so far!  First is that His GRACE has given me the ability to walk in love in the midst of those who have been critical and/or unkind to us.  Second is the ability that His GRACE has given me to forgive even though others are not sorry or don’t seem to even know (or want to know) that they have deeply hurt us.  And thirdly, is the freedom to forgive myself for my failures that have occurred during this time.

One of the greatest strengths of His GRACE for me, has been that it keeps me focused on God’s love and not on the un-GRACE-fullness of any offenders… including myself!  The utter immenseness of His love for me and Piper, as well as for the others, is an awe-inspiriting strength that can only emanate from Him!  God’s GRACE has empowered me through the hurt, through the tremendous emotional pain and through the resulting feelings of rejection.

Robert’s Word Pictures declares that Paul is actually telling his protégé to “keep on being empowered” or to keep “in touch with the power” of God’s GRACE.  By keeping focused on Him and His Word, Piper and I have received the continuing strength to keep in touch with the empowerment of His GRACE.  Now I am not saying that I haven’t allowed that power to ebb a few times, but thank God, I have known enough to plug back in as soon as I can!

What about you?  How much do you depend on God’s GRACE.  For my lovely wife and I, it is a life-saving power connection that we have come to expect!  Just like I make sure that my cell phone is plugged in each night, I also make sure that I am plugged into the power and strength of His Grace first thing each morning… and last thing before I turn the light out at night!  You Too?

Have a great new week, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “Am I expecting God’s GRACE to empower me today?”

Friday, August 25, 2017

What Are YOU Expecting?


After I helped my wife to bed last night I began to think about God’s faithfulness in response to our obedience to Him.  In hind sight I could see how some of the major moves and changes we made in obedience to what we believed was his voice to us, were right for us at the time.  Looking back, I can now see how His hand was in the midst of everything we did in following the directions that He had laid out for us.  I could see Him in the connections that were established, in the way all the details came together at just the right time, how the finances came through… most times with more than we needed, and how He gave us the bodily strength and peace of mind to physically complete all the activities involved in each task… As well as the fortitude and emotional strength to deal with those who repeatedly called us on the carpet for doing what they thought was completely wrong.

I finally had to stop in the middle of the darkened hallway as I returned to the bedroom after getting a glass of water from the kitchen, and just praise God for a few moments while the revelation of His faithfulness to us overwhelmed my senses!  Have you ever just stopped for a moment or two to think about and thank God for all He has done for you?  Wow!  Isn’t God good!

For Piper and I, our Christian faith centers around the simply question, “What am I expecting!”  That comes as a surprise right?  Of course it doesn’t since you most likely realize that this blog that I’ve been writing for many years now always ends with that question!  It’s a question that we keep ever before us in every decision we make on a moment by moment basis.  I firmly believe that it has been the way that has enabled us to live in such a way as to, “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” (Psalm 37:4 KJV)

Psalm 37:3 spells it out for us.  We are encouraged here to “Trust in the Jehovah, and do good.  Dwell in the land and enjoy faithfulness.” (Young’s Literal Translation)  The Apostolic Bible Polyglot which is a Greek translation of the Old Testament, translates the first part of this verse saying: “Hope upon the Lord, and execute graciousness…” and I bet you already guessed what I am going to say next!  If you deduced that the word translated “hope” should more accurately be termed “expect” you are absolutely correct!

So we are told to do two things in order to live a life that delights in the Lord according to the very next verse.  First we are told to put our expectations on the Lord and His Word instead of what the circumstances of the situations of life present.  Buts that not all we are instructed to do.  In cooperation with our expectations we are to dwell in the land by acting on our trust in Him.  Expectation without the physical actions that are based on them doesn’t really do anything!  In my years of ministry, I have seen many a good folk talk a good story concerning what they are believing for, only to have their faith pushed aside as they allow the circumstances to guide their steps.

The conclusion of Psalm 37:3 tells us that acting on expectations that are founded on God and His Word results in the ability to “enjoy faithfulness,” like I mentioned in my opening to today’s post.  Living within that cycle of life is the enabler to the life style mentioned in verse four.  It is the way that the Psalmist experienced a life where he could delight himself in the Lord and see Him give him the desires of his heart.

You know?  It really is a unique lifestyle that the world simply cannot understand!  We just finished reading a section in a book by Jerry Savelle entitled: “Expectation Is Not Based on Fantasy.”  Dr. Savelle writes in his book “Expect the Extraordinary” that “Critics of ‘faith preachers’ have accused us of building up people’s hopes.  But we’re not basing this expectation on some kind of fantasy.  Our hope is based on the Word of God.  The Bible is a book of hope.  It’s the God of hope whom we serve.  Psalm 62:5 says ‘My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.’” (KJV)

Many in the world would see this kind of life as a life in “La, la land!”  But you know what?  As Christians we are not living our lives to impress the world but to serve and obey Papa God!  The results of us having our expectations in Him and His Word will soon be undeniable to them!  Believe me when I say I have seen this happen on numerous occasions over the last few years!

So… let me ask you once again today.  “What are YOU expecting?”  If what you are expecting is in line with your faith in the Word of God then you have every right to EXPECT a life in which you are enjoying faithfulness and simply delight in the Lord and see the desires of your heart met!

Have a terrific weekend, and as you do, keep asking yourself - go ahead and say it out loud with me - “What am I expecting today?”

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Real Happiness


Our dog Fiver and I have a routine that we do every morning.  After we go for our morning jaunt in the backyard, I give him his breakfast and then gather my vitamins and pour myself the morning hot cup of Java.  From there I return to the dining room where Piper is happily sitting having just finished her breakfast.  I take a moment to enjoy that first sip of coffee for the day and enjoy the flavor, the warmth and the satisfaction it gives me.  Then it begins… Nonchalantly I walk into the living room where the pooch is usually standing on the area rug in front of the couch doing his daily rub his face after breakfast into the carpet routine.  I pretend that I am not really noticing his presence, while at the same time I search the room for his favorite squeaker toy.

Once I spot it I pounce on it and begin to squeeze it.  Well, Fiver goes absolutely bonkers at this point!  He immediately runs to the corner between the living room and dining room and waits for me to toss the red cloth toy.  Then I let it fly into the dining room so that Piper can observe the activity while yelling out “Go get it!”  That’s when it gets funny, because it happens every single day… Fiver gets so excited about retrieving the toy that his back feet literally spin on the hardwood floors as he attempts to get some traction!

Just like the time I’ve told about when Piper was driving her Mom’s new 1969 Camaro SS 396 out of the high school parking lot when I passed by on the road in the family 1951 Chevy.  Well, my quick-thinking, race-car driving, Parnelli Jones girlfriend, in order to impress her boyfriend driving by and her two friends in the car with her, shoved the automatic shift lever between the bucket seats up into neutral while putting her foot on the accelerator pedal to the floor… The only problem was that she went right through neutral into reverse!

Well, that high powered car that had too much weight in front from the big engine and not enough weight in the back, juked wildly back and forth like a bucking bronco while those big Uniroyal Tiger Paw, Wide Oval tires screamed and smoked like a wildfire as they attempted to figure out what direction they were supposed to be going and grab some traction at the same time! 

So, while not smoking, Fiver’s backside jumps and jukes like that car as he attempts to move out toward the toy in the far reaches of the dining room!  Then he takes about three wide leaps and slams on the breaks while he slides into the little rug next to the sliding door until he hits the screen, grabs the toy and returns to me!  Then if I am quick enough, I can pull the toy from his mouth while he is sliding into me and repeat the whole process. 

Once he comes back to me the second time, I tell him what a good dog he is and rub his back and tummy!  Then I get to my feet, brush off the dog hair, straighten my shirt and return to the table where I calmly begin my morning Bible Study!

While he was returning to me from the dining room this morning, I took one look at his face and realized how much he was delighting in our morning game.  Then I thought about how Psalm 37:4 tells us to “Delight thyself in the lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thy heart.” (KJV)  The Good News Bible encourages us to “Seek your happiness in the Lord…”  Those words got me to consider how much I “delight” myself in the Lord… or better yet, how much I activity “seek” my happiness in the Lord!  How about you?  How would you answer the questions that I was asking myself this morning?

The Treasury of David commentary says this means that we are to “make Jehovah the joy and rejoicing of thy spirit.”  Adam Clarke writes “Expect all thy happiness from Him, and seek it in Him.”  These thoughts put some heavy pressure on me today as I considered how much of my happiness over these last 47 years has been derived from my relationship with my wife.  As my heart has cried over her in the midst of the disease that she is gallantly fighting, I come face to face on a daily basis with the question of where my real happiness comes from.

But as I look over the last ten years and where we have been and where we are today, physically, spiritually, emotionally as well as mentally, I find the answer in knowing that the power that has kept me able to face each day is the foundation of peace, trust and happiness that I find in Him!  I realized this morning after playing with the dog and then returning to the table, that I was REALLY looking forward to my time alone with Papa God and His Word.  It is what keeps me energized, full of Godly expectation when I turn my gaze to my wife seated in her wheelchair next to me, and full of the Godly joy that keeps my head above the depressive realities of a life without Him!

What about you?  Where does your happiness come from?  I’ll share more about this and how to get happy in the Lord in our next blog.  But maybe it is time for you to take a long look inside and see what makes you tick.  As I look around at all the physical blessing that surround us, I understand that none of it matters without our strong and joyful relationship with the Lord in and through His Word.  Take a look inside and let me know what YOU find…

Have a great rest of the week and keep asking yourself… “Where am I expecting my happiness to come from today?”

Monday, August 21, 2017

Practice Makes Perfect!


Back in the early 1990’s a small group of individuals gathered at our home on Thursday nights to pray about the beginnings of a new church we hoped to start in our city.  We had purchased our first home in 1986 and had dedicated it to the Lord.  As it turned out, in the beginning days of the church, our formal living room served as a good meeting place for the fledgling congregation.  That house was about 500 square feet larger than our current home and had a formal living room and dining room in the front with the kitchen and a good sized family room in the back along with the 3 bedrooms and 2 full baths.

With our growing family and my wife homeschooling the kids, we spent most of our time in the family room and kitchen areas.  We had turned the dining room into an office area but barely ever used the living room.  In fact, the only furniture in the living room was a large couch, a couple of end tables, Piper’s piano and some light fixtures!  Therefore it was easy to set up folding chairs and have church!

A few weeks after beginning our weekly prayer sessions, we were fortunate to have a recent graduate of the Bible College that I would eventually attend, drive up each week from the valley area of California and teach Bible lessons or hold formal church services with Piper and I leading the Praise and Worship.  I remember one of his earliest sermons as he walked around those of us assembled in the living room, asking how many of us were currently standing in faith for something.  I was a little surprised when only a few of us raised our hands.  He then went on to teach about the importance of staying in faith for the various situations and circumstances of our lives.

That important time in our lives came back to me this morning, including the memory of our neighbor who just happened to be out front washing his car on Sunday mornings after we began formal services at the house.  His driveway was right next to our living room and he enjoyed listening to the music we played!  Psalm 37:3 teaches us to “Trust in the Lord, and do good things.  Live in the land and practice being faithful.” (God’s Word ©)  I took that verse as an encouragement to practice being in faith just as Pastor Paul had taught us some 25 years ago!

And you know, no matter what one may think, it makes perfect sense just as any professional athlete, musician or anyone learning something new would state that “Practice makes perfect.”  Why can’t the same hold true for our faith life?  This is something that my wife and I grabbed on to very early in our marriage.  Over the years we have had different people ask us the reasons behind the success of our union together and both of us would normally say without much consideration that we have been a team serving the Lord since we began dating back in the 1970’s!

Looking back now, I would say that our desire to strengthen and grow our faith is what kept things exciting and different over the years as we moved from dating to marriage, to raising a family and whatever next the Lord has for us in this current phase of our lives.  As I have mentioned many times in this blog, we decided early on that we did not want to be just bystanders in our relationship with the Lord.  If the Word said that we could move mountains, we wanted to be right in the middle of that earth-moving process! (Mark 11:23)  If He said that He would supply all of our needs, then we wanted to put that Word to the test. (Philippians 4:19)  If He said that by Christ’s stripes we were healed then we wanted to believe for healing! (I Peter 2:24)  If He said that He would give us wisdom, then we wanted to ask of Him and walk in His counsel and direction. (James 1:5)

And you know?  I now find that I get bored and uneasy if I am not in middle of a faith project at any given time!  What about you?  We learned real quick concerning that idiom that “Practice Makes Perfect.”  I can’t say that every step of faith we took worked out as we had desired… but I can honestly say that if we hit a bump and fell that we got up, brushed ourselves off, learned from our mistakes and jumped right back into the faith saddle!  Believe me when I say that we’ve had a few people shake their heads in unbelief when we stepped into another faith project after a similar attempt may not have totally worked out!  But like I said, we’ve been quick to humble ourselves, examine what happened and learn before we stepped back into God’s exciting process of faith!

David, the author of Psalm 37 wrote from personal experiences with the Lord.  He had some failures, made a few stupid mistakes but always bounced back to pursue the things of God.  And remember that it was God himself that said of David that “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.” (Acts 13:22 KJV)

So… what do you think?  Are you up to practicing your faith this week?  It all begins by building up your faith as Romans 10:17 tells us that “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (KJV)  So again, if you’re into the practice that makes one grow in their perfection of the steps of their faith, get in the Word of God and start building your faith up!  Then as the Lord leads, step out into the wonderful frontiers of faith!  For Piper and I, this is one of the most spectacular places to reside!

Have a great week, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “What FAITH project am I expecting to step into today?”

Friday, August 18, 2017

Be Dumb!


When I went outside with the dog first thing this morning something was different.  The sky was bright blue and cloudless, the weather was a little cooler than normal, the humidity was way less than over the last week or so, and there was a slightly cool breeze flowing through the yard… But that wasn’t it!  As I stepped off the deck onto the patio I suddenly realized that it was soooo quiet!  The only sound that came to my ears was the familiar and melodic notes of a Cardinal singing somewhere in the trees.  IT WAS SO PEACEFUL!  And you know?  I needed that…

Piper had been less than receptive to swallowing her breakfast this morning.  So after an extended period of time, trying every trick in the book in order to coax her along, she finally partook of a good amount of food.  But me… Well, by the time I was satisfied with the amount she had consumed, I was physically and emotionally spent!  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again!  I’ve worked many different jobs in my life, many times holding down two and sometimes three jobs at once…  But NOTHING compares to the extended homecare of a loved one… especially when that loved one is the most special thing in your life!

Not that I am complaining, because I am honored for the responsibility to care for my sweetie, but there are times like this morning when the body and the mind are screaming at you and a variety of negative thoughts are pounding at your brain! 

I had placed one of the extra chairs for our dining room set near the sliding window quite a few months ago.  At the time it just seemed like a convenient spot for the chair, but I soon came to realize that it is actually nice to have the chair in that place, so that on days like today, I can sit there while I catch my breath and re-center my resolve, as I put the lease on the dog before taking him out in the mornings!

On this day I took a little extra time as I fought to keep my mouth shut from complaining or saying something that my faith walk would later regret!  And the whole time I sat there, my faithful four footed companion simply stood in front of the slider looking at me with his big brown eyes seemingly saying that he was feeling my pain!  Finally with a purposeful push, I stood myself up, opened up the door and led the dog outside.

So it was in the midst of all that personal drama in which I stepped into the quiet solitude of our beautiful, tree and vine lined yard.  The quiet of the morning just seemed to suck out the pain, the questioning and the pressure that I had just endured!  It felt… RESTFUL!

When we went back into the house a few moments later, I fed the dog, poured myself a nice hot thermos cup of Starbuck’s Carmel coffee, and plopped down in front of my computer and my Bible study program.  The word “rest” had struck a chord in my mind so I did a word search and soon found myself absorbing the truths behind a section of Psalm 37:7 where the Psalmist declares: “Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for him:  fret not thyself because of ________…”

When I read that much of the verse I simply thought, “…because of… WHATEVER!  That is whatever negative thing that is giving you trouble at any particular moment in time!  For me that whatever right then and there was my morning experience with my bride.  Following a hunch, I looked up the original Hebrew for the word “rest” and discovered that the very first meaning is, “To be dumb!” 

Well, I was a little taken back with that definition, but once I looked up what a modern dictionary has to say about that word, I couldn’t help but agree with Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries.  One of the meanings in the Oxford online dictionary describes the action of being “dumb” as “to simplify or reduce the intellectual content of something so as to make it accessible to a larger number of people.”  So in my case this morning… as well as in this entire chapter of our lives as we face the threat of disease in my wife’s body, to be “dumb” is to simplify, reduce or just not allow all the intellectual, worldly arguments concerning Alzheimer’s to confuse our childlike faith in the Word of our God!

I had to laugh at this point as I recalled that an individual had once implied to our son that I was being “dumb” in the early care of my wife, for they thought that I wasn’t doing anything to help her… when in reality I had many different irons in the fire researching the disease, looking for the best medical care we could get, and applying for financial benefits… while all the while attempting to handle her increasing physical needs… They just didn’t know all that I was doing behind the scenes!  Looking back now, with this current information, I guess I should call them up and thank them for the compliment!

So… that extreme quiet outside of the house this morning was just what the doctor ordered!  Have you ever had one of those stressful times when the good Lord just seemed to intervene and give you exactly what you were needing… even if you didn’t know what you needed at the time? 

This morning I needed rest… I needed to “dumb” down all those tired, stressed out negatives that wanted to scream out and simply “REST” in the Lord.  At that moment I needed the comfort of His Words, the comfort of His love, and comfort of His peace, “which goes beyond anything we can imagine, (and) will guard your thoughts and emotions through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7 God’s Word ©)

Well, I feel better… How about you?  Got a need that is stressing you out today?  Then I encourage you to seek His REST!  You might even want to write down Psalm 37:7 on a strip of paper inserting your own WHATEVER in the verse and carry it around with you this weekend!

So with that…Have a great weekend, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “Whose REST am I expecting to experience today?” … or with the new information I’ve given you… “How “DUMB” am I expecting to be today?”

Thursday, August 17, 2017

What's in the News?


I got a little frustrated first thing this morning after taking the pooch out.  While Fiver checked out the neighbor’s yard for the squirrel he usually chases down the fence line, I noticed that my zucchini plant had a beautiful yellow bloom.  So I ran back into the house and grabbed my camera, only to be denied a sharp picture as my lens fogged under the pressure of all the humidity that filled the air!  Therefore, instead of having a clear, bright print, I ended up with a photo that looks like it was taken on a typically foggy morning on the Sonoma County, California coastline!  On the positive side though, it did remind me of the many enjoyable times my wife, family and I experienced on those wonderful, rugged beaches!

The fogging of my camera lenses as well as my glasses has been happening a lot with the recent surge of muggy mornings out here.  I have also noticed that there seems to be a lot of fogged lenses in the minds of many of the mainstream news agencies!  A quick look over the Yahoo news site recently showed about six negative articles concerning our president, numerous articles criticizing the Fox News organization, and a couple of stories explaining why Christians are biased, racist and out of touch with modern society!  Quite a way to start one’s morning off, wouldn’t you say! 

I often wonder if there are areas in my own life where I am predetermined to see things through a fog because of past experiences or incorrect teaching.  With everything that we have gone through in dealing with the various aspects of the disease that has attacked my wife’s body, I have had to take a long and hard look at most everything I have believed and stood for.  I think that is why I am so sensitive to what is going on in our society.  How certain sides of the political spectrum tend to see things through a predetermined set of filters that fog their understanding of someone who has a conflicting viewpoint.

As I consider all of this from my Christian perspective, I am drawn back to Acts 13:41 where the Apostle Paul writes, “Look you people who make fun of God!  Be amazed and disappear.  I will do something today that you won’t believe, even if someone tells you about it.” (CEV)  Through this verse I see the folks that write the derogatory articles about my beliefs and realize that they really aren’t making fun of me, but of God!  And then I get excited because the Lord promises us that our generation will see some other things that He is going to do that will literally blow the critics away!

Or as The Message Bible puts it, “Watch out you cynics; Look hard --- watch your world fall to pieces.  I’m doing something right before your eyes that you won’t believe, though it’s staring you in the face.”  God in His glory and might is doing something right now that many are clearly missing!  It is happening all around us, but just about none of it is being reported by the media.

My Christian brothers and sisters are walking in joy and peace in the midst of the turmoil that is being stirred up by those who just don’t have a clue!  But as Believers, we do have a clue!  When I get frustrated over what I keep reading in the mainstream news, I have to turn off the computer, the TV or the radio and look to scriptures like 2 Corinthians 2:14 and declare the Lord’s promise, NOW thanks be to God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.” (KJV)

Whew!  Take a moment and say the verse out loud a few times… Ah… isn’t that better!  I’ll take God’s Word on any subject, on any situation or any current news event over anything recorded in the news.  How about you?

Have a great rest of the week, and as you do, take a deep breath and ask yourself… “Whose Word am I expecting to believe today?”

Monday, August 14, 2017

Happy Birthday & Expect the Extraordinary!


As far as I am concerned… today is a miracle day!  It’s Piper’s birthday!  Now let me explain a little bit here… Back in January of this year, after a worrisome couple of days at the hospital, I wasn’t real sure that my lovely wife was going to make it to her next birthday.  That’s why we asked our four kids to fly in to spend a long weekend alone with her back in February.  It is also why we enlisted the assistance of the Liberty Homecare and Hospice Services.  These folks have been great and have become like a second family to Piper and I.

But through all the ups and downs… mostly downs for a few months there, we kept on believing, kept on saturating Piper with God’s Word on healing and kept on expecting the extraordinary.  Then after a while, she began to stabilize and hold her own… and that’s where we continue to be today!  And here it is some eight months later and she is celebrating her 64th birthday!  The Nurse Practitioner was here earlier this morning to do her second 6 month evaluation on Piper who gave us a little smile as the nurse wished her a happy birthday with her wonderfully friendly thick southern accent!

I find it difficult to believe that my favorite gal is 64 years old!  I have known her since she was sixteen (Hummm… maybe even 15!)  and we started dating a month after her 17th birthday.  So this makes the 46th birthday that we have celebrated together!  And I am continuing to believe that we will spend many more together... not just in eternity, but on this earth as well.

Wow!  You talk about growing up together… I’ve noticed that one of the common themes of many of the Hallmark movies is the couple that dated in High School, broke up and then get together many years later.  When they discussed “what happened?” the common reason is that “We were so young… just kids.”  And that’s when I look at Piper and burst out laughing.  Now, I’m not saying that this isn’t a real scenario for some folks… but it sure wasn’t for us!

When I think back upon the early days of our marriage, I can only remember good times with lots of fun experiences, lessons learned, and the beginnings of a faith-filled life together!  You might ask… “Would you do it again?” and without hesitation I’d give a resounding “YES!”  And I am SURE that Piper would reply the same.  I always tell my wife that she started out as a real “cutie” and grew into a beautiful women who just seemed to get better looking and sweeter as time went on!  I also let her know, in no uncertain terms, how blessed and honored I am to have been chosen (by God) to be her husband.

Yesterday the Pastor was talking to the parents during “Back to School Sunday” and spoke of an anonymous quote that he had heard that said in effect, “As parents our actions have a more lasting effect on our children than our words.  That if there is judgement, criticism and complaining coming from the parents, the kids will have it in their personal lives.  Likewise, if there is lots of love, encouragement and joy, then the kids will also demonstrate those characteristics in their adult lives.”

I felt that the second part of that quote accurately described my Piper.  I told her the other night of how blessed and fortunate I thought our kids are to have had a Mom like her!  Like I’ve said before, Piper made family life fun!  She turned every opportunity into a learning experience, always spoke encouraging words and loved to turn a frown into a praiseful smile!  I can now see those same traits in each of our four children.  And you know… I believe that the best is yet to come!

In the Old Testament book of Habakkuk, chapter one, verse five, the Lord speaking through the Prophet declares without hesitation: “Be amazed and astonished.  (for) I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if it were reported to you.” (God’s Word ©)  In the New Testament, Paul brings that same verse into the modern church age and repeats it almost word for word in Acts 13:41.  And when you think about it, he makes similar claims throughout his writings including his faith bolstering encouragement to us believers in Ephesians 3:20 where he states, “God can do anything, you know, far more than you could ever imagine, or request in your wildest dreams!” (The Message)

So yeah, I believe that Papa God still has many more works that He wants to accomplish through us and in us… as well as in and through each of you!  Remember, physical circumstances don’t necessarily mean a thing, when you place your trust, your faith and your lives in the hands of the Lord by walking hand in hand with Him by the truth of His unfallible Word!

So HAPPY-BLESSED Birthday Honey!  You’ve been a blessing to just about anyone who has been fortunate enough to cross paths with you! – If you read this today, and have had a funny or encouraging encounter with Piper, please leave a reply to share with all of us!

You know dear readers…  I am sooooo looking forward to the SOMETHING EXTRAORDINARY that the Lord is promising to do in our day… How about you?

Have a great week, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “Whose EXTRAORDINARY WORKS am I expecting to SEE today?”

Friday, August 11, 2017

Kingdom Sounds


When I walked into the kitchen first thing this morning to brew a pot of fresh coffee and prepare Piper’s morning medications, I could hear the joyful songs of birds singing outside the window over the sink.  For a moment or two I was kind of mesmerized by the melodic sounds while I stood looking out the window across our backyard.  Then a few minutes later as I re-entered our bedroom and began to softly sing a morning praise song that I had made up long ago and sing to her every day, I slid up the blinds on the window and was greeted with the sights and sounds of our side yard that borders a forested neighborhood commons area.

Before my eyes the leaves on the trees shimmered under a slight breeze and a bright blue sky, fallen leaves bespeckled the lawn, and a beautiful red Cardinal flew from the backyard and disappeared into the protective cover under the canopy of trees.  When I finished Piper’s morning song, my heart swelled as the hidden Cardinal sang his song that seemed to be a continuance of the melody that I had sung to my wife!  I had to stand there for just a few more moments and continue to soak in the beauty of the sight before my eyes and enjoy the sounds that seemed to enrapture my entire being!

Do you ever take the time to enjoy the sounds around you in morning?  Earlier in the week I had been texting back and forth with our oldest son whose family had just spent a few days in the Plumas National Forest in northeastern California, at one of my most favorite places on this whole earth!  As we reminisced about our many family camping adventures there, we wholeheartedly agreed that there is nothing more enjoyable than rising early in the morning and sitting at the camp table with a fresh brewed, steaming hot cup of coffee while enjoying the natural sights and sounds of the still quiet campground in the middle of the forest with the birds singing, the critters skirting around, the sound of the morning breeze fluttering the tops of the tall trees, and the sight of light smoke still rising from the previous night’s campfires around the campground.

Ah… all those memories as well as my experiences this morning can’t help but remind me of the sights and sounds of God’s kingdom!  I heard a song leader on the radio yesterday talking about how the move of the Spirit of God amongst His people is always predicated by sounds… sounds of the kingdom.  I don’t remember if I had ever heard that before, but as I began to think about it, I recalled many examples throughout both the Old and New Testaments where the sounds and/or shouts of praise did come before the move of the Lord. 

Take for example the story of Paul and Silas as they sat shackled in the jail at Philippi.  Acts 16:25-26 states that, “around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God. The other prisoners were listening to them.  (when) Suddenly, a violent earthquake shook the foundations of the jail. (and) All the doors immediately flew open, and all the prisoners' chains came loose.” (God’s Word ©) 

Acts 2 tells the story of the coming of the Holy Ghost and details the event as a “sound like a violently blowing wind.”  I Corinthians 15:52, 2 Peter 3:10, Revelations 1:15 and Revelation 14:2 tell of last days events and speak of that which will be heard describing it as “the sounds of the last trumpet, a roaring sound” and “the sound of raging waters.”  (God’s Word ©)

The Old Testament is filled with examples with my personal favorite being when Joshua commanded his army to quietly march around the walls of the imposing and impenetrable city of Jericho seven times.  Then they were told that when they heard the sound of the priests blowing the rams horns to “shout because the Lord had given them the city.”  And when they did shout “the wall collapsed and the troops charged straight ahead and captured the city” (Joshua 6:8,16, 20 God’s Word ©)

Let me ask you a question that you can ponder this weekend.  Is your life, your home, your relationships with others and the events of your daily activities filled with kingdom sounds?  When things don’t go as you thought they would, do you fill the atmosphere with kingdom sounds or do other noises flow from your mouth.

I had just begun to help my wife with her protein breakfast drink this morning when she suddenly seemed to lose interest in swallowing the liquid in her mouth.  After I tried all the regular tricks that I use to motivate her, to no avail… I began to get a bit frustrated, but you know… I wasn’t about to give in, so instead of voicing the noise of my frustrations, I instead opted to voice the sounds of praises unto our God!

Well… she didn’t respond right away, but I persisted.  At one point I glanced over to the dog sitting sentinel at the front window as he turned back toward me with a look on his face that was almost daring me to say something that I might regret!  But again, I didn’t give in but smiled and continued to sing when FINALLY she began to swallow again… and actually consumed a good portion of her breakfast! 

So… needless to say, the sounds of the kingdom in our house tend to prevail over other noises… Why?  BECAUSE THEY WORK!  How about you?  What sounds prevails in your home?

Have a great and PRAISEFUL weekend as you fill the atmosphere of your life with the kingdom sounds of praise… and as you do, keep asking yourself… “What sounds am I expecting my neighbors to hear coming from my house today?”

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

DIY


We have an area off our back deck between the deck and the lawn that I’ve been wanting to do something with ever since we moved in a couple of years ago.  The center piece of the area is a small pond that the former owners put in.  Other than that, it is filled with grass infested rubber ground cover. 

Yesterday I spent a good portion of the day thinking about and praying over a multitude of ideas that began to flow through my head for the design of the area.  First I dusted off my mechanical drawing skills learned in Jr High, and drew out the shape of the area with accurate measurements of its dimensions and placement of the pond.  Then I began to dream about potential themes, plants, river rock and other décor.

Over the weekend I had ordered an 8’ decorative windmill which will be the anchor for one side of the project with the pond on the other side.  So with that in mind I spent a few hours on the web looking at a variety of ideas and garden décor possibilities.  At the end of the day I had settled on a type of coastal scene around the pond surrounded by river rock, some coastal grasses and a 36’ light house that will blend into some small mounds around the windmill with more grasses interspersed with summer color plants.

After trying to find small decorative furniture that would fit into the area, I got a little frustrated and then had the revelation that “Hey!  I can make the other decorative items with my new saw and wood working tools!”  Any you know… that idea felt good!  We not only can design the area but also make some of the décor for it!  Talk about making it personal!  Then I spend the hour before dinner looking up blueprints for small garden benches, bird houses and other ideas… and my excitement grew in leaps and bounds!

As I thought about my adventures yesterday while helping my wife with her breakfast today, the idea of Doing It Yourself projects popped up in my mind.  And then, for some reason, the picture of someone being deceived into thinking that they are doing something on their own, or for a particular reason while in truth… they are not, followed suit.  I thought about how many things in today’s society seem to be turned totally upside down when compared to the Biblical standards that were the norm for our society not too many years ago!

For example… I caught an interview on the Tucker Carlson show last night where he was talking with an individual around the topic of Global Warming.  At first I thought it was kind of funny and then I straightened up on the couch and sat with my mouth wide open as the man being interviewed went on and on… and didn’t make any sense the whole time!  He seemed to be talking in circles, had no substance of proof for his outlandish statements of doom and gloom and then got angry when the host attempted to qualify his ramblings of the truth.

Then there are the leaders within certain political groups that are pressing their ideals of equal rights by presenting laws that make all kinds of immoral and what would normally be seen as unsafe and hazardous situations abound for our country’s women and children and their families alike.  And these politicians have the nerve to stand in front of a public audience with a straight face while they intellectually argue their points… while many of us in the country look at them and say “What are they talking about?  Have they totally lost it?”

Well, I don’t think that they have lost it… I believe that they are just being deceived.  Revelation 12:9 brings some clarity to the situation by telling us who is behind these twisted interpretations of the truth.  The Apostle John tells us about “That ancient snake, named Devil and Satan, the DECEIVER OF THE WHOLE WORLD…”  In the original Greek the word translated “deceiver” means “to cause to roam from safety, the truth, or virtue; to lead aside from the right way.” (Strong’s and Thayer’s)

Like I said, many folks in the world are simply being deceived into thinking that what was once right is now wrong… That what was once considered an unsafe situation is now okay as long as no one gets offended!

After all my research and deliberations yesterday, I am confident that our garden project will be the culmination of ideas that I prayed over and worked through and will be a part of the personalization of our property.  It will be an honest to goodness DIY project!

In our society today, I see many that are fooled by “the deceiver of the whole world” into wrongly believing and proliferating ideas that are not theirs and are not ones that they most likely, in their right minds, wouldn’t even agree with!  Now, granted, in the context of the scripture, our verse is talking about those who have not made Jesus Christ the Lord and savior of their souls.  As Christian’s we are not under the authority of the evil one, but all of us probably have areas in our lives that haven’t yet been totally surrendered to the Lord… and it is in those areas where deception can pop up!

So what’s my point?  First of all, know that all is not lost in our modern society.  Revelation chapter twelve tells all about the final failure of the Devil and his lies of deception.  In the end, God’s righteousness triumphs over evil!  But in the meantime… It might be a good time to look over the things you stand for, the things you say and the thoughts you have and look for signs of deception.  If you find some, just turn them over to the Lordship of Jesus and those lies will have to go!

And when the accuser of the brethren attempts to bring accusations against you to the Father, (See: Revelation 12:10) you can simply look to the throne of God and knowingly  say: “You got it wrong again Devil!”

Have a great rest of the week, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “What and/or Whose truths am I expecting to be living today?”

Monday, August 7, 2017

Who Are You?


With the current situation with my wife’s health, I have to be watchful that I do not spend very much time walking down memory lane!  Living in our past tends to obstruct the view we are painting, by our faith in God’s Word concerning her healing.  After a while, those memories also begin to hurt… and I’m talking about a deep heart-ache when I think too much on how my wife used to be, contrary to what I’m currently seeing before my eyes.  Once again though, I am thankful for the amount of Word that we have been pumping into ourselves, for time and time again I find that the emotional and at times very physical pain in me dissolves as my concentration changes from the thoughts of the natural to that of the supernatural realm.

In 2 Corinthians 2:14 the Apostle Paul tells us, “But I thank God, who always leads us in victory because of Christ.  Wherever we go, God uses us to make clear what it means to know Christ.  It’s like a fragrance that fills the air.” (God’s Word ©)  Once I yield my attention to the spiritual realm I catch a glimpse of our upcoming victory that the Word declares ALWAYS happens!

And you know… that’s the attitude that I like to carry with me throughout the day, whether I am in the house or out in public!  Over the years in ministry as well as in the secular jobs I have held, I have come across many folks who tend to live one way in their private lives, and a totally different one in public.  One of the many things I have learned in this war for Piper’s health that we are engaged in, is that how I live my private life, alone with her in the confines of our home and property, has to be the basis for everything else I do.  I strive on a daily bases to “be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might.” (Ephesians 6:10 ESV)

It is at home when I need to be strong for her and for me!  I do my best to take care of myself, but the greatest life style exercise that I have built into my daily routine is to get lots and lots of doses of the Word of life!  It keeps me going when things get a little rough, when there is no one around to encourage me or to lend me a hand! 

When we go out, I don’t have time to think about how I am acting in public.  To consider if the folks I pass in the store are hearing kind and Godly words emanating from me.  When we go out in the neighborhood, to the store or anywhere else… what you see is what you get!  What comes out of me in action, word or deed is who I am… The man that takes the time to get into the Word each and every day of my life.

I like how Paul put it in our verse from 2 Corinthians 2:14 where he says, “…Wherever we go, God uses us to make clear what it means to know Christ.  It’s like a fragrance that fills the air.”  The word translated “KNOW” comes from that word “ginosko” which describes a very intimate and personal knowing of Christ, as a husband and wife intimately “know” each other. 

This is a clear rendition of the young Piper I began to get to know in High School.  She didn’t necessarily use the name of Jesus very much in our increasingly longer and longer conversations, she just lived Him!  His nature just sort of oozed out of her.  You could see it in her bright, joyful eyes, in that killer smile of hers, in the carefree bounce in her step and even in the way she enunciated her words.  They just seemed to come across void of any judgement or criticism and encouraged anyone blessed enough to be within the sound of her voice!

What’s interesting is that to me, she seemed to be somewhat unique in the way she carried herself.  I didn’t necessarily see a lot of that “intimate knowing of Christ” in other’s that were close to her back then.  Over time I came to know that these folks were also strong Christians and loved the Lord, but yet seemed to not have the freedoms and joy that was the Piper I was coming to know and love.  For the others, their public life seemed to play out as if it was a scripted part of the movie of their lives.  It just wasn’t natural like my girl’s.  And over the years, as I have grown up in the Lord, I have come to realize that her life style is exactly the type of example that Paul was talking about in 2 Corinthians 2:14.

And back to Memory Lane… This came up as I was talking with Piper about this exact subject while preparing dinner last night.  I think Piper’s disposition was and continues to be all about the close and intimate relationship that she has always seemed to have with Jesus.  Like I said, it was never something she tried to be or actit’s just who she is… Whether she knew it or not.

Even as the grips of Alzheimer’s began to take over, she still exuded the nature of the Son of God.  For instance, there was the time while we were back in California at one of her quarterly appointments with her Neurologist at the Brain Health Center in San Francisco.  When her named was called I helped her up to her feet, as she was still able to walk with assistance, but was talking less and less frequently.  As we began to walk across the waiting room, one of the other patients in the room stopped us and said to me, “You’re wife has a very sweet spirit about her!”

Well, of course, that blessed the socks off of me, and it goes to show that Piper didn’t even have to say or do a thing, but simply allow His nature to shine through her!  Again, I believe that this is what Paul was eluding to in the above scripture.  Would that describe you?

Have a great week, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “What or whose nature am I expecting to exemplify through my life today?”