The new house!

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

Friday, March 30, 2018


I realized this morning as I was studying the Word of how much I have been striving for stability in my life over the last ten or more years.  With the attack on my lovely wife’s health, my life has gone into a tailspin.  When we moved back to our home in California after living in Oklahoma when I completed my Bible College studies, I expected to find the stability that we had felt there for the majority of our lives.  But as I have stated on previous occasions… it was not to be found!

We changed in those three years away, friends and family changed as did many of the places and things that we frequented and depended on in the past.  While I believe that the Lord had instructed us to return home to, among two other things, “re-establish our network of family and friends,” what I didn’t understand was that we were to “re-establish” a whole new and potentially different network of concerned and helpful family and friends.

To put it mildly, those five years back in our hometown were anything but stable for us!  The Message Bible paraphrases the end of James 1:17 by saying in our modern vernacular that “There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle.”  The two words “deceitful” and “fickle” perfectly summarize our experiences as we finally saw the need to break away from parts of the old network and replace them with new occupants. describes “deceitful” as one who attempts “to mislead by a false appearance or statement,” and “Fickle” as one “likely to change, especially due to caprice, irresolution, or instability; a sudden, unpredictable change, as of one’s mind or the weather.”  As it turned out, some folks whom we had close relationships with and trusted, suddenly turned to show us a side of them that we had not seen in the past. Out of the blue we started hearing misleading stories and facts being passed on to our kids and friends.  After a while, I never knew from day to day how stable they were going to be concerning Piper and I as we faced her rapidly down-graded needs.

At one point I felt like I had returned home only to experience an earthquake in my life that rivaled and maybe even surpassed the great 1906 earthquake that actually hit our town harder than it did San Francisco!  With my personal emotions shaking wildly, I desperately sought stability in my devasted world.

And thank the Lord that I was to find that stability in the Word of God along with old friends I hadn’t seen in a while and extended family on my side that seemed to come out of the woodwork to reach out to us!  The King James version says that with God there is “NO variableness” or “shadow of turning.”  While everything else in just about every area of one’s life may be shaking and falling apart, Papa God assures us that His Word doesn’t vary or shake you and your surroundings.

Those words spoken to us from the New Testament haven’t changed since they were spoken and then written down over 2000 years ago.  They are as truthful and sound as they were then as they are today… for you and me!  The writer of Hebrews confirms this when he (or she?) stated that: Jesus Christ (Who is the Word: John 1:1) never changes! He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” 

Now that folks, is the stability that I have needed!  I am still using the same 100 verses on Healing that I got from my Pastor back in 2009 as the foundation for all the DAILY scriptures I declare over my wife first thing in the morning and last thing at night… and many times in-between!  Piper’s medication list may have changed over the years, her condition may have changed as well… but we are still stuck like Gorilla Super Glue on the Word as the foremost and major prescription for her.

Are you reeling from a lack of stability in your life?  Do you ever feel like you’re in the midst of an active earthquake fault zone… even though you may not even live in California?  Well, God and His Word is the answer, the safe zone, the solid-unshakable Rock for your life!  Rest assured that you’ll find NO deceit in His Words, nothing two-faced and absolutely NOTHING fickle.  He’ll tell you the same story, the same word of truth day in and day out… to your face and behind your back!

Have a great and fickle-less weekend, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “Who’s WORD am I expecting to believe and stand on without fear of shaking… for my life today?”

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Giants in the Yard!

One of the first things I do each morning is to pull the drapes in the dining room and lift the blinds over the two windows in the living room.  Then after the coffee is brewing and I’ve got all of Piper’s meds ready for her, I’ll shuffle back into the bedroom.  Once there, as I’ve mentioned before, I’ll sing my wife a soft and funny wake-up song while I open up the blinds in the corner of the room. 

If you’re a regular reader of this blog you’ll know just how much I like the natural light glowing throughout our home!  But I would much rather open up the curtains and blinds to a sun-shiny day than to a grey overcast one like what greeted us today!  The sun finally broke through this morning about 10:00 AM as I was preparing my breakfast and as soon as I caught a glimpse of the bright rays from the corner of my eye, it was like a jolt of electricity went through me.  With the sudden brightening outside, I felt encouraged and recharged and began to grasp a more positive vision of everything that I needed to do today.

Whew!  It was kind of incredible.  The clear, warming and bright rays of the sun quickly transformed everything in our front and back yards from black and white images that looked a bit dull and gloomy into a joyful scene that is in the process of bursting out with its spring-infused new life!  And because the sun was high enough in the sky there were very few shadows to distort the true beauty of what my eyes were beholding.

On a clear day the first early morning sun that I see is still low in the eastern skies and cast some dark, looming shadows as its rays pass through our neighbor’s pine trees on the east side of the yard.  After the hurricane passed through our area a couple of years ago, that first morning glance with the dark looming shadows combined with the branches and everything else that wasn’t tied down that the high winds had strewn all over the yard made it look like we had giants stomping through our property!

Well you know… God’s Word also talks about shadows in James 1:17.  The leader of the church in Jerusalem wrote: “Every good present and every perfect gift comes from above, from the Father who made the sun, moon, and stars. The Father doesn't change like the shifting shadows produced by the sun and the moon.” (God’s Word © Hummm… there’s those stars again! – See yesterday's post “Night Lights”)

It would seem that God knows how shadows caused by the passing sun can shift or change throughout the course of a day and can even serve to distort the reality of whatever the object that is casting the shadow really is.  Sort of like the giants (ie; pine trees) that I saw in the yard in that post-hurricane morning view!

As I dwelt on this particular line of thought the other morning, I deduced that the writer of the verse was trying to convey the idea that God’s Word does NOT change in difference to the shifting shadows we encounter daily.  His Word does not distort the truth because… IT IS THE TRUTH!  It is the one thing that actually gives us life as the very next verse in James 1:18 tells us.  His Word is the only substance known to man that breathes life into the situations of our lives… WOW!  Think on that for a moment!

So… no matter what you might see changing right before your very eyes, you can rest assured that God’s Word WON’T be a part of it.  For it doesn’t change but stays as the rock-solid foundation that you can safely anchor your life to.  Therefore when problems arise - the first thing to do is to search through His Word, as found in your Bibles, and with the prayerful guidance of the Holy Spirit, find scriptures that apply to your situation, write them down and commit them to memory – and then STAND on them by concentrating your vision as well as your confession on what God says and take NO stock with the shifting shadows that are constantly changing around you!

I’ll warn you ahead of time though, that this process is not always easy especially when things in the natural seem to be getting worse… BUT I encourage you to stick with it and eventually you’ll see those things that are parading around as giants in your land shrink back into a shape that looks a lot like God’s victory for you!

Have a great rest of the week, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “What TRUTH am I expecting to SEE today?”

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Night Lights

In between the scattered rain we have had in our neck of the woods throughout this last month, we have had some gorgeously clear and bright starry nights.  Each night as I stand on the patio while Fiver, our young Australian Shepherd mix, does his final check of the backyard before we retire for night, I can’t help but look up and be mesmerized by the heavenly scene that projects itself on the skies that overlook our home.

As with many other times, I could not help but think this last week about how sweet it will be when I can finally enjoy this view in the quiet of the evening while holding hands with my lovely wife.  Piper loved the stars!  I’m sure that I have told of the science course of study that she taught our kids during their homeschool years about the constellations. 

Ever since that class she always enjoyed pointing out the various star formations and sharing a little bit of their history and while I am not too sure that she actually knew all the names of the 88 officially recognized constellations, she sure seemed to know a lot of them!  I have many fond memories of evening walks with Piper amongst the towering redwoods or pine forests in the different California State Parks that we liked to frequent during the summer months which began on our honeymoon and ended (at least at this point…) during our 30th anniversary camp celebration in July of 2005.

During those many walks we both enjoyed holding hands in the serenity of the mountain air, looking up into the starry night with the only sounds meeting our ears being the swish of the wind blowing the tops of the trees, the crackle of fire pits around the campground and the occasional sound of campers quietly laughing in the background.

The other special thing I relished during those times was seeing how Piper’s whole countenance would brighten up when sharing her knowledge with me or the kids.  Her passion for homeschooling would become very visible at times like those!

Genesis 1:14-19 tells us of the day that God created the lights in our sky:

“Then God said, ‘Let there be lights in the sky to separate the day from the night. They will be signs and will mark religious festivals, days, and years.  They will be lights in the sky to shine on the earth." And so it was.  God made the two bright lights: the larger light to rule the day and the smaller light to rule the night. He also made the stars.  God put them in the sky to give light to the earth, to dominate the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. God saw that it was good.  There was evening, then morning-a fourth day.’” (God’s Word ©) 

Those few quiet moments of solitude that I spend every night alone with our dog have been some of the most reflective and strengthening opportunities that I have after a stressful day caring for my wife’s needs as well as with everything else that needs to be accomplished during the day… Today, along with the normal activities, it is all about getting a new water line installed for our home which includes digging a trench, burrowing under the driveway, getting permits etc… Thank God we have insurance to help… PTL!

Many times, the evening get-Piper-ready-for-bed routine is the most difficult care activity of the day.  Piper is usually at her weakest point and many times so am I… which doesn’t always make for an easy transaction!  So, without much need to say so, Philippians 4:13 where Paul declared that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Has become my standby, my foundation and the necessary muscle for our nightly activities!

I think that God not only put those stars in the sky for physical light but also for a vivid picture of His love, His faithfulness and His watchfulness over us who look up to Him.  A moment or two lost in the overwhelming expanse of the night sky with the thousands of heavenly lights shining upon me each evening reassures my soul, strengthens my tired body and mind and encourages me in my unshakable knowing of how much He loves and cares for Piper and I. 

It is also an amazing tell-tale sign that He is always at my side with a fresh anointing for me and a new resolve that will enable me to do all things that night through Him who is strengthening me… and in the morning, the light peeking under the blinds on our bedroom window immediately reminds me that He hasn’t left and is still there to help me through the new day.

So, I encourage you today, to think on the beauty of all that He has placed around you… JUST FOR YOU!  Then the next time you’re feeling a little low, depressed or thinking that you are all alone, remember that He is ALWAYS there for you… For the stars in the evening skies accompany you through the storms at night… and the sun in the morning expanse of the heavens above gives new hope for a fresh, peaceful, wonderful and miracle-packed new day!

Have a great new week… and as you do, keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting the stars that God placed in the heavens to remind me of tonight”

Friday, March 23, 2018

Changing My Understanding...

I began my employment with Hewlett Packard back in 1980 and in looking back today, I can see that I came on board at such time that would prove to be an end of an era.  The company was founded in a one car garage in 1939 and quickly grew into a large corporation building top of the line electronic measurement devices, computers, printers and medical equipment that at one time were the norm in every hospital across the nation.  Each time Piper went to the hospital for the birth of one of our four children, I would always smile… with a little pride, at all the HP equipment that filled the delivery room!

But around the mid-eighties things began to change as many smaller companies began building products specifically designed for a single signal frequency measurement, while HP’s boxes covered a large range of frequency measurements… which many customers did not really need!  Well, needless to say, things began to change rapidly within the company in order to stay not only relevant in, but on top of the field.

As the 1980’s ended and we moved into the 1990’s it seemed like the once stable company that most other newbie’s in the business sought to emulate, was constantly changing its business model, updating its product line and just about every part of the business including the methods it used to hire, evaluate and train its employees.

By that time, I was supervising in a fabrication area with many long-term employees who felt very settled into the way HP used to do business and the barrage of changes did not come easy to them.  During the final years of my time there it seemed that I was spending the majority of my time explaining the new changes to my team, counseling the workers who were not happy about them, and attending higher lever meetings where the ever-coming new changes were introduced and explained to management.

Let’s face it… change is NOT easy for most of us!  But like I often heard said, the only thing constant in life is change!  I freely admit that while I didn’t always personally like the changes that were being introduced, it was part of my job to get used to them, to understand them, to embrace them and then explain them to my team in simple and encouraging terms.

I still don’t like certain changes that have happened in my personal life, but just like my secular professional career I have learned to embrace them and more importantly to trust the Lord for them… and then move forward with the eyes of faith!

I mentioned in yesterday’s post some thoughts concerning the idea stated in the beginning of Hebrews 11:3 were the unknown writer of the book declared “By faith we understand…”  And I asked the question: “Understand what?” to which I quickly answered “Everything!” 

Now I am not sure if I rattled a few folks there or not… but think about it for a moment.  Those employees who complained the loudest about all the changes that were going on in the workplace that the company was initiating in order to stay in business and at the top of the food chain (sort of say!) were seeing the changes through their understanding of the way things used to be. 

Then with that basis of understanding all they could imagine was doom and gloom for the company and their futures!  Their understanding was based entirely on what they thought they saw happening before their eyes.  And they refused to see or better yet, attempt to even believe the rational and potential end results of the new changes that I was painstakingly presenting them.

I’ve seen it over and over again during the last ten years as Piper and I have had to deal with all the changes going on with her health.  I have found myself in a similar position as when I was at HP trying to explain the current medical reports on Piper and the steps we were taking to handle the situation to loved ones and experience almost the same kinds of reactions as my teams back in the 1990’s at HP (or actually Agilent Technologies by that time!).

It would seem that when our eyes are focused on what we see in the natural instead of what God in His Word says about the situation, and then refuse to hear or acknowledge all the facts of everything that had been and was currently going on behind the scenes, that it is way too easy to begin to formulate fearful and most likely incorrect scenarios of what the future holds for us.

But… think about a positive scenario for a moment.  When we choose to understand what we see with our natural eyes consequent to what God’s Word says about his view of the situation and agree with Him, then we have a totally different view of the potential outcome!

Wuest’s Word Studies explains the New Testament use of the word “understand” in Hebrews 11:3 saying “The word ‘understand’ is the translation of noeo which means ‘to perceive with the reflective intelligence.’ It is distinguished from the mere physical act of seeing. It is the perception of the mind consequent upon seeing. In the New Testament it is never used of mere physical sight. Vincent (Vincent’s Word Studies) says: ‘Here is meant the inward perception and apprehension of the visible creation as the work of God, which follows the sight of the phenomena of nature.’”

To me this idea talks of a process that goes something like this:

1)    We see the situation with our natural eyes.

2)    Our brain and spirit immediately connect to God’s Word and what it says about what your natural eyes are viewing and immediately processes this added information and sends it back to your eyes.

3)    Your eyes adjust to the new complete information and you see what God’s Word declares as the truth concerning what or who you are looking at… in other words, you are now seeing the situation through the eyes of faith that are founded on the unchanging truth of God’s Word and not on the “variableness (or) shadow of turning” that occurs in the natural world around you. (See: James 1:17)

What do you think about that?  I might suggest that you let this idea percolate inside of you this weekend!  Take a look at the scriptures and then give it some prayer .  Who knows… it might just give you an entirely NEW outlook on life!

Hope that you have a great weekend!  I have a newly discovered water leak in my pipes coming from the meter to the house that I am dealing with!  Thankfully I have a Water Pipe Protection Plan that I opted into a year or so ago!  Isn’t God good… I have a whole story to tell about how I got my understanding of that situation changed in the middle of the night…

And while you’re thinking about today’s post… keep asking yourself… “How am I expecting to understand my world today?”

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Everyone's an Expert...

Hummm… today is the first full day of Spring (as it officially began at 12:15 PM EDT yesterday) and it’s snowing outside!  Oh well… I guess you just can’t really depend on anything… except for the Word of God…

Point in fact… The first thing that I did once the doctors began to have an idea of what was happening with my wife back in 2009, was to pray and get into the Word. After committing everything, every step, every medical procedure, every medication, every examination, every doctor’s visit, every hospital visit, every medical report, everything that I would need to do for her, and every conversation that I might have with anyone be it family, friend or a complete stranger in a store, I continued to depend on the Word in order to fortify both of us for what looked like would be a long road ahead!

Once that first step was progressing along a steady path, I began to do all kinds of research in the scientific journals, on the National Alzheimer’s Association and other similar websites, with whatever published results of documented current test cases and studies around the world that I could find and even looked into homeopathic medicine.  After that I even spent hours reading through all the “natural” cures and information posted on the internet by a vast variety of individuals from doctors to the people who live off the grid and follow a back-to-nature course for their lives!

As it worked out, both of these two courses of action turned out for the good, as it seemed like everybody I ran into suddenly became an expert on Alzheimer’s!  I began to hear all kinds of so-called reasons and/or causes for the disease and then of a great myriad of “cures” to use on Piper.  

I was told that the cause was “in the water we drink,” or “it’s the mercury in her fillings” which is weird because she actually has very few fillings! Then there were those who said it happened because of our “lifestyle” or “our diet” or that “it’s in her genes” and the best one of all was that I was at fault! (?)

We were given suggestions to “drink this supplement,” or to add a certain substance to her water, or to eat this food and stop eating that food or to do this exercise so many times a day, and do this and don’t do that… Like I said, everyone thought they had a special insight into our needs!

I discovered very quickly that God and His Word were the only foundation that I needed to discern between the old wives’ tales, the false information and the bits of truth that might be scattered in-between!  The scientific research combined with the multiple in-depth conversations I had with the medical specialists we saw helped to dispel the mis-truths of the many so-called “cures” that some were “sure” would work for us.  I’ve often caught myself wondering where people came up with some of these ideas!

Lately though, I’ve been studying in my Bible within the book of Hebrews, chapter eleven, and the writer’s discussion and explanation of “FAITH.”  Over the last week or so I have not been able to move on from verse three which states: “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” (KJV)  

In speaking on this subject and Bible chapter, the well-known Pentecostal evangelist Smith Wigglesworth taught in a sermon back in December of 1941 and declared: “On any line or principle of your faith you must have something established in you to bring that forth.  And there is no establishment outside God’s Word for you.  Everything else is sand.  Everything else shall sunder (or break up!).  If you build on anything else but the Word of God – on imaginations, sentimentality, or any feelings, or any special joy, it will mean nothing without you have a foundation, and the foundation will have to be in the Word of God.” (“Smith Wigglesworth on Prayer, Power, and Miracles” compiled by Roberts Liardon, © 2005, pg 139)

Yesterday afternoon it hit me that the first few words in Hebrews 11:3 says it all and answers a lot of my questions when it states rather matter-of-factly that “Through faith we understand…”  Understand what? EVERYTHING!  The verse finishes by describing how God created or formed EVERYTHING we now see and know to be by His Word… So then, it makes sense to me that in order to correctly look at and understand the world and its ways that we have to look at it and understand it through FAITH in the truth of God’s Word!

No Faith = No Understanding!  Hummm… interesting concept… wouldn’t you agree!

Well, I’ve whet your appetite today and hopefully got your spiritual thinking going… so I’ll stop here for now but continue to dig into this revelation more in our next post.  So, think about it!  Just how do you look at and understand everything around you? (be honest now!)

Have a great rest of the week, we’ll enjoy our snowy spring day (although it looks like it stopped now and is supposed to be sunny for a few days), and keep thinking about… “How am I expecting to understand my world today?”

Monday, March 19, 2018

Black and White or Color?

You remember how I talked about the wonderful weather that we were having out here in North Carolina last week?  Well it was short-lived!  We’ve got rain coming late this afternoon more tomorrow and then a strong possibility of snow on Wednesday morning.

Doesn’t spring start tomorrow?  What’s wrong with this picture?  Oh well… I am not really complaining.  I have actually been enjoying the variety of weather out here since we moved from Californian in 2014.  When we left the West Coast, they were in the middle of a drought and it seemed like everyday was the same as the one before.  Maybe it was just time for us to move.  I guess I was getting bored with the same forecast day in and day out!

On the other coast of America, we get a little of every kind of weather, although our location seems to be in such an area where we usually do not get the extreme weather they get to the north and sometimes to the south of us as well.  Once again, I guess God knew what He was doing when He put it in my heart to move a few years back.

One very important thing that both my wife and I have learned over the years is to follow that leading when it comes!  Without a doubt, following those unique leadings of His has brought us through some of the most exciting times in our marriage!  And sure, there are always trials and tribulations that enter in while in the midst of such adventures but I Corinthians 10:13 encourages us that “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (ESV) 

I am a firm believer that God wouldn’t have given us (or any Christian for that matter) a leading, direction or faith project to embark upon unless He knew that we had what it took to complete the task.  Notice that our scripture above says that He “will not let you be tempted beyond your ability…”  You see, God knows better than anyone else what you and I have got inside of us.  He knows our personal giftings and talents (after all he gave them to us… right?), He knows our life experiences, He knows how much Word we’ve been putting inside of us and most important of all, He knows how obedient to his will we are!

Over the years in the ministry I have seen countless examples of how our heavenly Father takes all of that in us and uses it for His purposes and for His glory!  And it seems like He does it differently for just about everyone.  He is definitely not Black and White in His methods.  As I’ve talked about in some recent posts, our Papa God’s methods are FULL of grace! 

It became pretty clear to Piper and I that the individuals who criticized and persecuted us for some of the directions we have taken as we have traveled along this current journey, were looking at our situation from a very limited perspective, one that was most likely heavily influenced by their own set of experiences and personal giftings and talents.  That’s not to say that their makeups were any less valuable or important than ours or ours than theirs… they were just different! 

I was commenting to Piper after church yesterday that it is uncanny in some respects, of how God prepared us while in Oklahoma, for the long and tough journey that we were already in the midst of but didn’t quite realize it yet.  And while I do have many pleasant memories of our time in Oklahoma with my Bible School training and experiences, the church we attended, my job at the South Tulsa Home Depot and all the wonderful people we were privileged to become acquainted with, much of that time was quite difficult as it seemed like all I did was to go to school, work, take Piper to a myriad of doctors for exams, tests and scans and then watch over her, with the loving and able assistance of our youngest daughter, as Piper began to exhibit many unusual changes on almost a daily basis!

But yet, we did return home power-packed with the Word of God in us, full of good counsel and practical understanding of the Word of God and how it works in our lives and strong in Faith that He will do what He says He will do in His Word.  Most people that we were close to back home saw the change in us, while only a few seemed oblivious to it.  When you live a Black and White life, you tend to miss the beautiful COLOR that’s all around you.

When you look through the Roll-Call-of-Faith in Hebrews chapter eleven, you can’t help but notice that some of the people named in that famous list of people that God highly exalted, did not always live the most exemplary of lives.  They had ups and downs in their lives but thank the Lord that Papa God did and still does not look at us in the limiting tones of Black and White!  I believe that He actively looks for the COLOR in each of our lives today… just like He did with the heroes of our faith back then!

When we trip and fall, He reaches down and extends us a hand, will help us to discover why we fell (when we ask Him to) and will love us through until we learn to not make the same mistake again… and then help us to move on – and succeed - in the next challenge that He has for us!

I think that’s pretty cool… don’t you?  Makes me want to explore new frontiers with Him… You too?

Have a great week, enjoy the weather in your area, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “How Black and White or looking for the COLOR, am I expecting to be in my life’s interactions with other people today?”

Saturday, March 17, 2018

What Would You Do?

The last few days have been absolutely gorgeous out here in central North Carolina.  Since the unexpected snow storm on Monday, the skies have been clear with temperatures growing warmer with each passing day.  Yesterday it got up into the mid-sixties with a bit of a westerly breeze that we couldn’t resist and found ourselves out back for an extended period of time in the late afternoon.

I had wheeled Piper out into the middle of the yard on the grass which is steadily reviving from its winter dormancy, while Fiver and I played “toss the ball” with three different types and colors of balls.  I think Fiver was also enjoying the nice day as he was very focused on our ball tossing and not chasing squirrels or searching for the rabbits that hide on the other side of the back fence whenever he comes out!

I was kind of lost in thought about Piper and how she’s been doing while I ran around the yard with the dog.  Last week was pretty tough.  She was weaker than normal, was not too enthusiastic about eating and was like a limp rag doll when I helped her get dressed in the morning and with other activities during the day.  The nurse who checks on her each week also noticed some of the subtle changes.  Piper’s normally low blood pressure was even lower than normal and her pulse wasn’t quite as strong as it usually is.

At times like this it is easy to start thinking about the next logical step in the process of life that she might be going through.  In the hospice world they call it “transition.”  The hospice team has been very sensitive to our needs and have given Piper top notch care but are very clinical as things look like they are progressing in what I would call the WRONG direction!  In the natural I believe it makes sense to discuss the signs and possible timing of the process and prepare oneself for the final conclusion.  So, the nurse and I talked about the situation and I asked some pertinent questions on the details I would need to know as well as the things I would need to do to assist my wife at this time.

But this week… things took a positive step in the OTHER direction.  As Piper has been stronger (on most days) and has been swallowing her food with much more regularity and purpose.  When the nurse came yesterday, all of Piper’s vitals looked strong including her blood pressure which was up in her normal range.  When our daughter and her husband came over and brought everything needed to celebrate my birthday last night Piper was alert the whole time, ate a decent dinner and slept soundly throughout the night, and awoke with bright eyes and swallowed her breakfast without any difficulties!

So, while we were enjoying the beautiful day outback yesterday, I contemplated the activities of the last few weeks and the ups and downs of this ordeal.  At one point I heard the word “tear” pop up from my heart and I immediately began to speak out my thoughts and walked over to Piper and said, “You know, I feel like there is a tearing (ie; a ripping apart) going on in me.  It’s like my natural side and my spiritual side are being torn apart.”

Then as I thought about the idea of a “tearing” going on in me I realized the ever-changing (ie; up and down) daily condition of my wife’s health is a constant battle for me, between what I see with my natural eyes and what I see with my spiritual eyes of faith that are viewing this situation through the lens of God’s Word.  In the midst of times like last week when everything in the physical looks to be going down the tubes in rapid succession, it is extremely difficult to overshadow what is being demonstrated before you with an expectation of the opposite that we see in God’s Word… that is not yet visible in the natural… Do you understand what I’m talking about?

Hebrews 11:1 tells us that “Faith assures us of things we expect and convinces us of the existence of things we cannot see.”  Then verse three goes a little deeper by further explaining that “Faith convinces us that God created the world through his word. This means what can be seen was made by something that could not be seen.” (God’s Word ©) 

So, there have been many days where although I may not have had to physically exert myself in Piper’s care as I have to do on other days, depending on how she is doing on any particular day, I still find myself exhausted in the physical, mental and emotional realms.  That I believe is the effects of the “tearing” that is going on in me!

When I did a quick search and brief study of the word “tear” with my Bible Study program this morning using my favorite God’s Word © translation as my foundation, I learned that this word is used 81 times throughout the Bible.  In most of the verses it is used to describe the forceful and deliberate “tearing” down of the false idols of the people who inhabited the lands that the Israelite’s were fighting against or the “tearing” down of false idols in the lives of the people of God.

So, just maybe among a few other things, the Lord is instructing me to take a deeper look into my own life and perform whatever demolition that is necessary so that any dependence left on the natural side of me is totally yielded to the spiritual side?  Hummm… that will be a fun road to traverse (?!), but at this point I am ready for almost anything! 

What I did begin to understand yesterday and again this morning though, is the reality that although I have been up against a constant battle between what I see with my eyes and what I see through my spirit… that the spiritual side almost always comes out on top! 

There may be… and in fact most times are… some gut-wrenching feelings and thoughts as I look at my pretty wife and fight off the glancing nightmare that says “Gee, she looks terrible this morning,” only to have those thoughts quickly driven off with stronger and stronger revelations of the truth of God’s Word that cause me to pray “…Our Father, who is in Heaven, Hallowed be Your name.  Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth (IN PIPER) as it is in Heaven” and then recall 3 John 2 where the Holy Spirit has John write down God’s will declaring, “I pray that you prosper and be in (sound) health, even as your soul prospers.” 

Then there’s Matthew 8:17, I Peter 2:24, Mark 16:17-20, and all the miraculous healings that Jesus performed during His earthly ministry with the promise that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever,” and many more throughout the New Testament along with all the Old Testament promises of healing!  It is these promises from the truth of God’s Word that always prevails in me throughout the “tearing” process I find myself in on a regular basis.

With a laugh, I turned to Piper out in the yard yesterday afternoon and stated, “It’s all that Word that we’ve been putting into us since we came back home to California in 2009 isn’t it?”  And that thought made me recall back when I was still working at Home Depot and I would leave her a detailed note each day telling her about the food I had prepared for her lunch and a long list of healing scriptures for her to recite throughout the day until I got home!

So… yea, there is definitely a battle going on... and at times it feels as if I am being torn apart between the two realms of the natural and spiritual, but if there was no battle going on… I guess I would be concerned that we weren’t doing enough for our Heavenly Father that would frustrate the enemy of our souls and cause him to make trouble for us!   I'd much rather us be a thorn in his side by being fortified with the Word of truth than the hopelessness that goes along with NOT actively Believing in, Standing on, and living out a life that is Faith-filled, Word-fortified, Expectant in disposition, and Joy-full with each breath and step along the way of life!

So, what would you do in my circumstances?  Which side would win the daily battles in your life?

Have a good weekend, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “Whose side would I expect to win within the daily circumstances of my life?”

PS:  My birthday party was fantastic!  The steak dinner was delicious and the cake... Oh the cake - Yummy, Yummy!  I haven't had sugar or more than 20 carbs a day for over 2 months... so the cake was quite a treat... although I did have a headache all day yesterday!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Big Whoop!

So… I was in the bathroom getting ready for bed last night when I looked up at the image I saw in the mirror, had a momentary thought about the significance of the next day and simply uttered: “Big Whoop!”

You see… today is my birthday.  But not just any birthday… it’s the big 65!  I am now an official Medicare card carrying senior citizen… “Big Whoop!”  Right?  As I looked at myself in the mirror, all I could think about was how everything is just not the same anymore since my wonderful, full-of-life wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s back in 2010.  “Big Whoop!”  Another dumb birthday without her engaging smile, encouraging words, joy infusing and highly contagious laugh and that look of love in her eyes when she would look deep into mine. 

So, I’m 65… “Big Whoop!”  What’s to celebrate?  Why even celebrate?  What’s the use anyway?  Blah, blah, blah…

Then as I was moving full speed ahead into quite a production of all the things that weren’t the same, of all the things that I thought were wrong, I suddenly heard a voice inside of me… and it was a very familiar voice that made me immediately shut up and take notice to what I was about to hear.

What I heard was clear and concise: “Why don’t you STOP complaining about what you DON’T have and concentrate on what you DO have?”  And that was it… but you know… I didn’t need anymore!  That one statement said it all and was exactly what I needed to hear!

So, without any further ado, I immediately began to look at my image in the mirror and declare what I do have, which included the fact that my lovely wife is still with me, that the Lord has blessed us with four wonderfully caring kids along with their spouses and the grandkids, that we live in a beautiful house on a beautiful piece of property in a beautiful scenic and quiet location, that we have one of the best medical care teams working with us for Piper’s good, that we have some of the best friends and extended family in the world, that all of our physical needs are abundantly met, and even for our big, goofy and wonderful fun loving dog who sheds his long hair all over the house and on every piece of clothing we own BUT ALSO tends to keep me laughing over his daily antics… and the list went on and on and on!

By the time I went into the bedroom, gave my wife another goodnight kiss, climbed into my bed and then turned out the light for the night, I was a changed man!

This morning as I headed down the hall to get the coffee going, all I could think of were Paul’s words of encouragement to the church at Thessalonica when he wrote: “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (I Thessalonians 15:18 KJV)  And I remind you once again that this verse DOES NOT say to “Thank God FOR everything” but to “Thank God IN everything…”

So, in other words, even though my head wants to shout out “Big Whoop!” and complain about everything that’s different, my spirit man on the inside of me can actually THANK the Lord for His hand and plan IN the midst of everything, DESPITE everything that is going on that seems to be totally wrong!

Paul seems to have taken the same attitude that king David took in Psalm 34:1 when he declared in the midst of some mighty rough times that “I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” (KJV)  That word “continually” infers actions that are “constant and regular with continuity.” (See Strong’s and Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew dictionaries) I thought it interesting that the modern definition of “continuity” is “the unbroken and consistent existence or operation of something over a period of time.”  In the movie making business it describes “the maintenance of continuous action and self-consistent detail in the various scenes of a movie or broadcast.” (Oxford online dictionary)

Continuity in a movie makes sure that everything is the same from scene to scene.  So that what used to be common in the 1970’s and 80’s when a car suddenly changed from one model to another just before a crash scene (think C.H.I.P.’s, Knight Rider, Dukes of Hazzard, etc), or an actor’s article of clothing like a coat is on in one scene and off in the next … doesn’t happen anymore!

I think that the example of continuity in a movie is also applicable to a person’s life as well!  By being consistently THANKFUL in everything, our attitude, our joy and our faith has a lot better chance of staying strong no matter what we face throughout the course of a day.  After last night… I know it works for me… for I quickly went from “Big Whoop” to a Big Thanks! --- And on the positive side… I get to go off my diet and enjoy a BIG piece of chocolate birthday cake that our daughter Jamie is baking right now!  Now that is a Big Whoop-ie!!!

What do you think?

Have a great mid-week, and as you do, keep saying aloud: “What am I expecting to BE THANKFUL for today!” (and don’t forget to answer the question throughout the day as well!)

Monday, March 12, 2018

What Will You Find?

I found myself feeling a bit empty and sad last Friday after listening to a discussion on one of the two Fox News shows that my wife and I usually watch each day.  The panel was debating the latest update on the TV personality that had made fun of Vice President Pence’s strong Christian faith a few weeks ago. 

It seems that the head of Disney, which is the parent company of ABC, personally requested that the individual who made the comments on national TV call the Vice President and apologize for her words.  The President in his normal gracious manner accepted her apology but also asked that she would make a public apology to all the sincere Christians that she offended.

When they broke off for a commercial, I told my wife that I felt that the Fox panel missed a golden opportunity to talk about their own personal Christian faith and what it has meant to them, but… 

I know that at least three of the regular hosts on the Fox show are church-going people and would profess to be Christians.  But by the time they went around the table and each panelist shared their thoughts, all I could do was lower my head with that same sense of emptiness that I had felt at times before I met my wife in high school and began to have my eyes opened through her life, to a vivid example of what it is to have a joyful, satisfying and victorious life in Jesus Christ.

What I saw and heard instead, was people who have an intellectual knowledge of who God is, and with a respect of God, try to live in agreement to Biblical teaching and Christian principles.  What I didn’t see was a deeply held personal connection with the One who came to this earth some 2000 years ago and forever changed the course history!

I don’t know… maybe my wife and I are just a little different or strange when it comes to the way we have lived our lives… but yet on the other hand, we know quite a few others who live their lives with the same excitement for the things of God as we do.  What do you think?  When we step into a situation that is overrun with difficulties, most times we don’t see a problem but an OPPORTUNITY for God to be God in it! 

When speaking of receiving salvation and any other promise of God for that matter, the Apostle Paul explains that “Therefore it is of faith that it may be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those of the law, but also to those of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all,” (Romans 4:16 EMTV)  In other words, we are able to take hold of the things of God by faith… because of or based on  His Grace toward us.  Not through our own good works, sweet words or kind thoughts, but because Papa God provided for our righteousness before Him through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross!

Grace is normally defined as God’s extreme and unmerited favor toward us.  But when I think about God’s grace, all I can think about, see and feel is His LOVE toward us!  When some folks around us came down rather hard against Piper’s and my faith-based actions in the care for her failing health, it was God’s LOVE, through His grace, that picked us up and carried us through some of the most difficult times in our lives.

When things get tough in your life and everyone and everything seem to be turning against you, trust me when I say… it will be your intimate experiential knowledge of God’s LOVE and His grace FOR YOU PERSONALLY that will get you through. (See Ephesians 3:19)  That’s what made me feel a little empty for the folks who were attempting to share their Christian beliefs on TV the other night.  That strong foundation of personal experience with the deep things of God just didn’t seem to be there!

I’ve also seen that same void in the lives of people that I always thought to be mature Christians when hardship touched their lives.  It’s easy to be a Christian and operate on the emotional outside of a situation while sharing some of the wonderful promises in the Word with others who are experiencing difficulty in their lives.  But it is a whole different story when difficulty hits home and becomes a very personal experience…

How do you think that you would respond?  Would you find His Hope, His Love and stand with the EXPECTATION of His Word working for you, or would you find an inner void where His Word and His Love should call home?  The best way to guarantee the discovery of His Word and the experiential knowing of His LOVE and grace inside of you is to keep stuffing His Word into your heart on a daily basis!

Like I KEEP saying… His Word in Piper and I has been the ONLY thing that continues to keep us strong and focused when everything else is screaming DEATH!  Sound harsh?  I guess it is… But His Word and our experiential knowing of His Love and His Grace destroys the harshness of a life without Him!

Have a wonderful week!  We’re supposed to get some snow this afternoon… Whoopee!  I might even have to put on some long pants before Fiver and I go out and play in it…  But whatever your weather forecast… keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting to find in me when difficult times come?”

Friday, March 9, 2018

I Can Do That... Really!

With everything going on with my wife’s health, I have spent a lot of time while caring for her, thinking about our life together.  Yesterday it kind of dawned on me that Piper and I have always thought a little differently than most others… especially when it came to pursuing a major faith project, a life goal or even when planning a large event for church, at work or with family at home. 

When presented with a proposal to plan and lead something, our first thought… without much initial consideration of the many details involved… was “Sure, we can probably do that…” with the quiet but confident caveat ringing in our hearts and minds that “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13 KJV)

That particular verse of scripture is one of the very first promises we found in God’s Word that we immediately took to heart and put to work in our marriage.  The beginning of Romans 4:16 in the Message Bible paraphrase tells us in plain language that “This is why the fulfillment of God's promise depends entirely on trusting God and his way, and then simply embracing him and what he does…”

Those powerful words seemed to best define our simple faith in God’s Word.  According to this verse, receiving from God is a two-step process.  First, we need to place our entire trust in Him and His ways.  And then learn to go with His flow by simply casting any other influences aside and embrace Him and whatever He does… or calls us to do.

I say that we usually thought a little different than many others in that while we first looked to God’s Word that says that through Him we can do all things, many around us thought us to be rather na├»ve because we didn’t first consider all the details and how difficult the project would be!  Over the years I’ve lost count of the many times when good meaning people (at least I think they were good meaning…) tried their hardest to talk us out of a faith project that looked to them to be quite impossible or even many a natural project that would seemingly overwhelm them.

Now, don’t get me wrong here.  I am not trying to paint a picture that says we never were tempted at getting overwhelmed in the midst of a project, but we learned some “tricks-of-the-trade” along the way that has helped us a time or two.  Most importantly, that we never ventured too far along the course without stopping to check in with the Boss, by humbling ourselves in prayer and thanksgiving.  These important and regular communication sessions did many things… They helped us to stay founded on God and His Word (by reminding us that we can only complete this task “through Christ who strengthens me” – God’s Word ©), served to keep us calm and on track and enabled us to also keep up with all the other things in our very active lives!

I also learned through the years to keep my daily focus as simple and clear as possible by only concerning myself with one day at time, instead of panicking by looking at EVERYTHING on my To-Do list all at once!  This little trick has helped to keep me strong and encouraged in the daily care of my lovely wife and not get discouraged when certain days don’t go as well as others.

The second part of Romans 4:16 goes on to say that as we do the first part of the verse that “God’s promise arrives as (a) pure gift (ie; through His GRACE).  (For) That’s the only way that everyone can be sure to get in on it.” (MSG)

You see, we can stand and act in faith because we fully trust in God and His ways due to the fact that He, in His Grace, has already provided the promises in his Word to us through Jesus’ finished work on the cross.  For Faith takes what Grace has already provided for us! 

Therefore, when we trust in His Word and act accordingly in the daily events of our lives, we can rest assured that God will do what He says He will do because of His Grace, which is His unmerited FAVOR that's empowered by His unfailing and unquestionable LOVE that He has bestowed on every believer through what Jesus did for us a few thousand years ago.

So, you see… You and I REALLY CAN DO all things through Christ who strengthens us!  It is a gift that He has already provided for us.  All you and I need to do is take a hold of it by faith.  Modern dictionaries define the word “simply” in Romans 4:16 as “straight forward or in a plain manner; unaffectedly.”  I like that!  We simply trust in God and His Word and not allow ourselves to be affected along the way by any contrary outside influences.  It’s as simple as that!

Have a great weekend, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “How simple am I expecting my Faith, which I base on God’s Grace, to be in and for me today?”