Monday, October 31, 2011

What Do You Have to Give?

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Eph. 2:10).

Hey Gang:  Have you ever run into a person that you literally drooled over with envy?  I did.  It was in my high school years, when confidence was something that I struggled with.   He (Larry) was the lead musician in the band, an outstanding football player, the number two scorer on the basketball team and one of the most popular dudes in the school.

But, with all these things going for him, he lacked one thing – he did not have a driving zeal to use his multi talents to succeed at anything.   When I finished my tenure at Altoona High School and, by mutual agreement they would give me a diploma and I would fade into the sunset, I lost contact with Larry. 

Years later I ran into a friend from my former years, and, in our reminiscing about the “bad old days”, Larry’s name came up.  I had visions that Larry was probably the president of some prestigious company and had a beautiful house on knob hill, but was in for the shock of my life when I learned he was working in a factory putting the right front tire on cars on an assembly line.

Have you ever tucked yourself away in an isolated place and considered your talents and gifts?  Have you ever considered the one thing you do better than others?  This can give you a clue to your God given purpose.
The gifts God gives us are like the little seeds planted inside us, BUT, for them to be anything but seeds, we have to use them.  Larry was blessed with mucho seeds but lacked the drive inside to share them with others.
Peter put it this way, “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (I Peter 4:10).

Soooo, young lads and lassies, let me share a neat piece of advice for these very tough times: 
I ran into a past staff member who shared a wonderful story about a very dark time in her life.  God had worked it out that she and I arrived early for a meeting and, in the interim waiting for the others to arrive, I shared some very tough times I had experienced in my life and how I learned that God is the supplier of good and perfect gifts.    My challenge to her that day was “decisions are acts of our will.”  We choose whom we will serve. We choose whether will be filled with the joy of the Lord - or allow Satan to take us down the “Prime –Rose –Path.

Have You Reached Out and Touched Someone Lately?

Paul, in his letter to the Colossians wrote, “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity.  Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person” (4:5-6).

Hey gang:  I have learned from experience it is very easy to fall by the wayside and get run over without anyone ever noticing. We can get to a point where we are afraid to ask a brother or sister for help because they will think our faith is weak or our relationship with the Lord is tainted.  Let me give you good news this morning – that is pure ‘bunk’ straight out of the pit!

Luke wrote, “Give, and it will be given to you.  They will pour into your lap a good measure-pressed down, shaken together and running over.”  Now notice Luke’s next words “For by your standard of measure it will measured to you in return”.  (Luke 6:38)    Now, if that does not send joy through your heart, you had best get your thumper checker.

A high schooler was on his way home from school when a student in front of him dropped his books all over the sidewalk.  This was before the back pack era.  Some students walked on by but he stopped and helped the lad.  They then talked as they were walking and became friends.  Later, the lad told his new friend  that he had cleaned out his school locker that day and decided he was going to end his life that very day – why? “Because he did not have a friend in the world”.  Every- thing changed that day when another lad reached out and touched him.

We do not have a clue what trials and tribulations others face, or what those whose paths we cross are going through and that really does not matter.  God said, “It is not good for man to be alone” (Gen. 2:18).  Why? Because we were designed to be communal in nature and crave the recognition and fellowship of others.  I do not know about you but I certainly feel the need to be ‘connected'.

Sooo, friends and neighbors, never be intimidated into being anyone other than the person God made you to be, and take every opportunity to be a seed planter of “God’s love”. You may save a hurting person from making the ultimate mistake. 



Friday, October 28, 2011

Does It Pay to Pray?

“These all with one mind, were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary, the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.”  (Acts 1:14).

Hey Gang:  Why pray?  Now, before you answer that question, I want you to picture yourself before a trial of justice and your life will be determined by your answer.  If you can prove that prayer is the way to the throne room of heaven, you live and, if not, you die!
Does that sound crass?  But think for a moment, is that not the way it is?  Jesus taught that prayer is the essence of our faith in our Abba Father and the true connecting line in fellowship with Him.  He (Jesus) never did anything without seeking the Father’s counsel and strength and He was perfect in all ways.  Is that not a witness to us that we should do likewise? 

He challenged His sheep to pray without ceasing, and, while you are at it,  give thanks for everything.  Why? Because, that is the will of God.  (I Thes 5:18).

I believe one of the very tragic statements of the Bible occurred on the night the battle over the cross was fought in the Garden of Gethsemane.  The agony of what was to transpire was so overwhelming that Jesus’ blood flowed from His pores.  And throughout that fateful evening the disciples were catching some ‘z’s’;  not once or twice but three times!    His question to them, and one He asks us,  “Can you not watch with me one hour?”. (Mark 14:37)

Soooo, my young friends, have you answered the question?  Why pray?  Jesus said to his disciples that night when they could not watch with Him for one hour, “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak”.

Prayer is that link that keeps our relationship with the Father strong and vibrant.



Thursday, October 27, 2011

Are You Looking Forward to Heaven

“And He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain,; the first things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4).

Hey Gang:  Can we start this morning message with a gigantic ‘Whoopie?’ As a little squeezer my dear saintly grandmother lived with us.  She was a needle point-er who sewed beautiful pictures on towels and, while sewing, she also sowed the seeds of my future salvation.  Once she made a statement that I did not understand.  She said “She was homesick for heaven”. 

I didn’t have a clue what she was talking about.  Why would she want to leave this utopia of living with me and my family and go to some unknown place that she knew nothing about?  I was very young and my dreams were filled with visions of grandeur and of all the things I wanted.  At that point in my life my mind was not on a new set of wings but rather a red convertible that would go from zero to sixty in two seconds. 

But, now that I am in that ‘Golden Years’ bracket, I am beginning to understand what she meant.  The years have a way of increasing our tears, as we see life-long friends go to be with the Lord. We find it more difficult to get our ‘get-up-and-go’ to ‘get-up- and- go’  and we struggle with problems that we no longer have the energy to deal with. 

Did you know the number one problem in the world today is – fear?  And with fear comes tears.  I have done some research on crying and have noticed that when a person has just been crying, you can look into their eyes and see traces of tears.  But, I have some fabulous news for you, when we love Christ, the day will come when even these traces will be gone.  They won’t just evaporate.  God will wipe them from our eyes.

Soooo,  young folks, when you are up to your armpits in alligators and your focus is on the here and now, take a  minute and remember - those persons who wrote the Bible thought a lot about the life to come and they found faith to put their trust in God and willingness to put their lives in His hands!!   



Wednesday, October 26, 2011

When You Least Expect It, Be Ready To Be A Seed Planter For Jesus

 “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” (Matt. 25:40).  

Hey Gang,  I know most of you, who avail yourselves to Gramps Morning Thoughts, have heard the following story but I like it and I am writing this - so I will share it anyway.  It is the story of a saintly cobbler who learned that he was to receive a visit from the Lord.

Though poorer than church mice, he determined to entertain the Lord with the best hospitality he could manage.  He bought a loaf of fine bread, a fragrant log to make a fire, and prepared a new pair of shoes for the Master’s feet.   

As he waited a starving child came to his door.  There was no way he could not break out the fine bread and not give it to the starving visitor.  When a freezing woman knocked on his door, the cobbler made a fire with the fragrant log to warm her.  And to a young man with bruised and bleeding feet he gave the fine shoes.

 By nightfall the cobbler was disappointed that the Lord had not yet visited him.  “Why have you not come?”  he prayed.  But Jesus responded, “I did come – three times.  I was the hungry child, the freezing woman, and the man with no shoes!”

Paul teaches us that “While we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith” (Gal. 6:10).

Sooo, turn on your sensitive eyes and ears this morning and watch for the hungry child, the freezing woman or the man who had bleeding feet and reach out to them as the Good Samaritan did with the injured man on the Jericho Road.



Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Do You Major on the Mundane

“For the kingdom of God is not just eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit”.  (Rom. 14:17).

Hey Gang:  Is it not amazing what we sometimes choose to argue about?  As a boy I attended a church that had a wonderful youth program, a thriving community out-reach and God was honored in worship and praise.

Then it was decided the worship and praise could be moved up a step or two if they purchased an organ.   The church waited in anticipation for the completion of the installation and the wonderful music that would resonate from this new addition to the praise team. 

But, there was a problem that surfaced even before the organ was installed – who would play the organ?  It turned out to be a battle similar to the Martin’s and McCoy’s of folklore days. This split the church right down the middle aisle.  Those for Alice on the right side and those for Betty on the left side.

To make a long story very short – for it was a year or more of intense arguing and pure nastiness, the church began to come unglued.  The pastor resigned and moved on, the youth leaders resigned and  moved on, the praise team resigned and move on, the average attendance dropped from more than two hundred to less than seventy.
 As I look back some seventy years, I believe with all my heart God withdrew His anointing over the Fourth Street Church of God over a conglomeration of wood, wires and keyboard called an organ.

Sooo, keep in mind, it is very easy to get caught up in things that don’t really matter - things that over shadow the important things- like loving God and each other.  As one elderly gentlemen suggested, “Let’s have a congregational wiener roast and burn the organ and give our church back to the Lord!.”   That, my young friends, was pure wisdom.  Today as you make decisions, take a moment and look down the road a piece and see what the value of that decision is, and the message it will send to those folks who care about you.



Sunday, October 23, 2011

In The Midst Of Trials

“For God not only loved, but continues to love us, so much that He sent His only Son to pave the way for us to be Sons of God and know that He will never leave us or forsake us.”  (Hainley rendition)

Hey Gang:  Gramps had another thought prepared for today but I sensed God saying, “Slow down, Buster Brown, and let Me re-emphasize several things that we need to have tucked away in our hearts and minds.  
As you know we just returned from a month away from our home base, two plus weeks of that time volunteering our services at Voice of Martyrs.  

We decided that it might be best if we detoured on our route home and spend a couple days of rest and relaxation at one of our favorite spots on this earth, Branson, Missouri.  While there we had warm fellowship with some kin folks and went to see the stage play\musical “Noah”.  Words will not describe this awesome production. 

But, as I sat there, my mind began to remember all the awesome things that God has done in our world and what He want to do  in our lives.  The creation story is awesome, the story of Moses in the wilderness leading His children to the Promise Land is awesome, the parting of the sea, the many times He protected His chosen people when enemies tried to annihilate them, the sending of His Son to prepare a way for us to one day be with Him, the opening of the way for Israel to once again be a nation for the Jewish people, all awesome..

And His prophetic word - which gives us the roadmap that one day Satan will be cast into the Lake of Fire for all eternity, and we will enjoy the awesome fringe package He has prepared for His children!

As I thought of these awesome things that God did for you and me, I also began to think of the awesome promises that gave us in His Word; such things as “Hey, gang, I love you with a depth that you can never understand;” “I will supply all your needs”, “I will never leave you or forsake you”  and the other thousand promises placed in His Word exclusively for His children.

As I sat there my mind returned to the day I stood on the Mount of Olives and looked down across the Kidron Valley to the Gate Beautiful and remembered the awesome promise that Jesus will once again plant His feet on the top of that sacred mountain, cross the Kidron Valley and enter the Gate Beautiful to rightfully take back the Kingdom that is His.

Yes, his roadmap is awesome, but there is one awesome piece that is yet to be completed. He has not come back for me  -YET but He is going to complete this task one day soon. 

Sooooo, all ye that are heavy laden, look up, for I sense He is preparing for that day when He will collect all those whose name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life and take us to that awesome place prepared by the God of the creation for His children.  Can you say “Thank you Lord!.



PS – Jesus left His place, to come to my place, to die in my place, to take me to His place!  Gma

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Smoking Out the Phonies

“Vindicate me, O Lord, for I  have walked in thy integrity, And I have trusted in the Lord without wavering” (Palms 26:1).

Hey gang:  John was one of the most exciting young folks that we were blessed to have spend some time with us while working at the Village.  But he had a tendency to do the wrong thing at the right time and the right thing at the wrong time. 

One day when he had been removed from class and sent back to his residence for doing the wrong that at the wrong time…again! He was given the chore of helping the house mom peel the spuds for dinner.  We found that peeling spuds was a good time to peel some of the dross that our young lads had picked up in their lifetime; it put their hands to work and their minds in neutral.

In the course of conversation he asked the house mom, “Joella, do you know why God sent me here?”  To which Joella responded, “No, I don’t know why God would do that to me.”  His answer, “To smoke out the phonies”. Out the mouth of babes comes truth.

All of us know people who are not the same on the inside as they are on the outside.  Jesus addressed this malady in His Sermon on the Mount when He said, “Let your statement be, Yes, Yes, or ‘No, no’; for anything beyond these is of evil.” (Matt. 5:37).   Jesus went on to say, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be notice by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.” ( 6:1).

Sooo, keep in mind, life is like a vise- at times it’ll squeeze you.  In those moments, like squeezing the toothpaste, what is inside can make an awful mess if not controlled.   Have you praised God lately for his forgiveness? Keep in mind God forgives us in the same measure that we forgive others! 

Now, ya all have a good day, ya hear?



Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Are You Filled With Gloom and Despair? or Excitement?

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Gal 2:20)  And that, folks, we can take to the bank.

Hey Gang. As you know we just returned from nearly a month away from our Rehoboth (abode-home) and I also mentioned there were several very special events that transpired on the trip but I neglected to share a very important event – we had no television for more than two weeks. 

Now to some that might shake down as “tragic”.  To be isolated from the four square bobber tuber would be a little or a lot like suddenly finding yourself with no food in the pantry.  So after unloading the car, building a fire and lighting the hot water tank, I settled down to see what was happening in the world. 

As I watched an old song began to resonate in my dome of intellect; a song that is familiar to those with maturity of years.  It was made popular by the Kingston Trio, also known only by the fifty or more generation.
Notice the words, in some ways dated (more than 50 years since the Kingston Trio made this song popular) but in other ways it is as current as the headlines of today’s news:

They're rioting in Africa, they're starving in Spain. There's hurricanes in Florida, and Texas needs rain. The whole world is festering with unhappy souls.  The French hate the Germans, the Germans hate the Poles.  Italians hate Yugoslavs, South Africans hate the Dutch. And I don't like anybody very much!  But we can be tranquil, and thankful, and proud, for man's been endowed with a mushroom-shaped cloud. And we know for certain that some lovely day someone will set the spark off, and we will all be blown away.  They're rioting in Africa, there's strife in Iran.  What nature doesn't do to us, will be done by our fellow man.”

Now, you can look at the world situation from two standpoints ‘gloom and doom and anxiety and panic, etc, etc, etc’.  or, you can look at it from the stand point that God remains in control. He is not nervous and fretting, as so many of we humans are, and His plan is fully in tack and on schedule.

Soooooo, your choice this day! You can “Straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near”  or you can join the growing hoards of folks who are living on the edge of panic and pain.  As for me, I know my Savior lives!  How about you?



Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Yoke Is Not A Bad Thing

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, AND YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  (Matt. 11:28-30)

Hey gang:  Are you dealing with some tough issues this morning?  Read the Scripture again and get it firmly implanted in your mind and heart.  Jesus never said anything that was not truth, nothing but the truth, so help me Abba Father.   But, to understand what He is saying we must do some fast tracking through the Word and find out what He meant. 

In the Greek the word ‘easy’ literally means well fitting.  William Barkley, in his Daily Study Bible Series tells us that there is a legend that Jesus was the best yoke maker in Israel and folks came ‘hither and yon’ to get him to tailor make a yoke that would not gall their oxen. 

It has been suggested that Jesus had a sign above his shop door that read “My yokes fit well.”  Perhaps here He is using a picture from the carpenter’s shop in Nazareth where he had worked throughout His silent years.

Jesus said, “My yoke fits well”.  I believe what He means is “The life I give you is not one that will gall you.”  Whatever God sends our way is made perfectly to fit our needs and our abilities to the ‘T’.   

Sooo,  my young friends, when you think your yoke is especially heavy, keep in mind it was perfectly honed by a Master Carpenter and will not ‘gall’ your spirit.



P.S.  But living in this world without the Lord’s “yoke” is dangerous….indeed!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

How Many Know We Are Blessed Nation?

“For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away,;, he had immediately forgotten what kind of person he was” (James 1:23-24)

Hey Gang:  I’m back!  Are you there?   Two thousand miles and twenty five days on strange mattresses does make ones back yell  ‘enough’.  But at each step of the way we were truly blessed by Abba Father.  There were far  too many blessings to list them all but there was also several very special blessings.  

We were blessed to volunteer our services a Voice of Martyrs in Bartlesville, Oklahoma for fifteen days.  After retiring from the Village we prayed that God would use us to be a blessing to as many people as He sent our way.  He certainly has answered that prayer in a magnificent way.  The work at VOM was hard and I wondered going in, knowing what tasks were ahead as we approached Bartlesville, if I would be able to sustain the daily pace.  

My prayer was for strength to be able to meet the task of the day.  God richly blessed this 78 year old body with sufficient and even abundant strength to put in eight hour days doing physical tasks.  In the two plus weeks we (meaning my bride and me) were there, we helped prepare more than 300,000 pieces of mail for delivery among other things.  

What that really means is we were able to send a blessing with each piece of mail we touched. Do you remember words of Jesus, “You will do greater works than these because I go to the Father”? (John 14:12)  Perhaps that is what he was talking about.   

We had the opportunity to hear several members of the VOM International staff t who serve the persecuted believers around the world.  Although many of their words were grim, for every five minutes another Christian is martyred some place in the world, there was also a joy in their hearts because as Satan turns up the heat on God’s sheep, the body of Christ grows stronger with each passing day.   
Soooo, my young lads and lassies, as we motored it gave me opportunity to seek God’s face in whether to continue with Gramps Morning Thoughts. God reminded me that if even one reads what He places in my heart and mind to share with you, I should do my part.  Keep in mind the angels in heaven rejoice when a new name is added to the Lamb’s Book of Life.  

Keep that in mind -as you traverse through this day.  You may be the only Bible the person sitting across from you will see this day