Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Gramps on Vacation

Gramps on Vaca

“The heavens will praise Your wonders, O Lord; Your faithfulness also in the assembly of the Lord.  For who in the skies is comparable to the Lord? Who among the sons of the mighty is like the Lord? A God greatly feared in the council of the holy ones, And awesome above all those who are around Him?  O Lord God of hosts, who is like You, O mighty Lord” (Psalm 89:5-8).

Hey Gang:  We just returned from a fabulous trip to Louisville, Ky where we attended the Gospel Quartet Convention.  Wow, 6000 people crammed into a basketball  arena, all Praising God with one accord.  Long lines at restaurants, long lines at bathrooms, long lines at the concessions stands!

There were four sessions on consecutive evenings lasting six hours; crowded hallways, seats that were too narrow with minimal leg room.  Buttttt, I never heard a word of complaint, no pushing and shoving to get ahead and there were always people available to help any who were handicapped or advanced in age. It was truly a battery charging experience and we are signed up for next year.  I witnessed many, many times when people denied self and reached out to help their neighbor.   It was wonderful!

I have prayed fervently that God would show me His will for ‘Gramps Morning Thoughts’ and feel comfortable in allowing Gramps to take a short vacation.  We are enroute to Kansas and a family union Friday and Saturday; then to Bartlesville, Oklahoma where we will volunteer at Voice of Martyrs for nineteen days , and from there -possibly to Branson, Missouri to recharge our batteries before returning home.  

The work schedule at VOM is an eight hour day, five days a week, which-for these 70’s+ - does not leave much time for preparing the blogs and emails.  There are more than one hundred blogs  You are welcome to go and reread the earlier ones.

This does not mean that I will not send a morning message out periodically or if the Lord lays a special message on my heart.

Soooooo, my friends and neighbors, we will be on a very fast track for the next month and ask that you cover us with your prayers: pray for strength, safety on the roads, and ask God to use us to be strong witness for Him.


Monday, September 26, 2011

Hey Man, Pass The Bread

“I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst” (John 6:35).

Hey Gang:  The entire Word of God is power packed with truths that can make life a  living witnesses of God’s love and grace.  In John 6 we see Jesus on a fast track as he is preparing his disciples for the tough road ahead which they would travel. 

First, there was the feeding of the 5000- what an awesome experience that must have been!  The disciples saw a huge congregation of people that needed to be fed.  They also saw two fish and five loaves.  But Jesus saw God’s miraculous power waiting for His Son to draw on that power.

At the end of the day- the clean up completed, the multitudes sent home- I would suggest the disciples were ready to build a fire, do some chatting about the ‘Jesus feeding program' and then off to the arms of Morpheus. BUT Jesus had another training session before the day was over! 
Matthew 14:22 tells us, "Immediately Jesus made them  get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side..."  It was a trip they would not soon forget. Seasoned veterans of the Sea of Galilee did not venture out at night, due to the unpredictability of this tiny, but often violent sea.  But, we note in Matthew’s account of this perilous time, Jesus had gone up to the mountain to pray. Wow, is that not awesome? Today, Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father praying for you and me. 

And then profound experience number two, He came to them walking on the water!  I wonder what they talked about around the fire that night!    John tells us that soon after these two miraculous experiences, when the hearts of the disciples had been fallowed and ready to receive, Jesus said “I am the bread of life, He who comes to Me will never hunger, and He who believes in Me will never thirst”. 

Soooo, good buddies, put it in your computer banks, Jesus is your Bread and your Intercessor.  Is it not awesome to know He will never leave or forsake you – THAT YOU CAN TAKE TO THE BANK!



Wednesday, September 21, 2011

What Does Your Pride Meter Read This Morning?

“God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble  (I Peter 5b).

Hey gang:  Well it’s time for the politicians to fill the airways with all the wonderful things they have done and, if reelected, will do in the future.  I sense if one were to bar the words “I” and “me” from their rhetoric, most would be dumb founded as to what to say. I do believe that if a brave- hearted soul were to open a store in the Belt Way selling humility they would soon find themselves in bankruptcy court.

In his book Humility, the Beauty of Holiness Andrew Murray defines humility: “A place of entire dependence on God.  Pride is the loss of humility and is the root of every sin and evil”.  In other words when we allow pride to take over the control mechanism in our hearts we have chosen to “go our own way”.  (Sin -Isaiah 53:6)

Murray went on to say that, if a person wants to be like Christ, then humility will be their primary characteristic.  Jesus said, “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.”  (Mathew 11:29-30).

In Matthew 5:5 Jesus gives us the opposite of pride: “Blessed are the gentle (meek), for they shall inherit the earth”.  I always thought piety would be the highest standard when measuring a Christ-like person but Jesus calls on His children to take on humility as we place our total dependence on Him.

Now hear this, after researching the word humility I find there is a needed ingredient to implementing humility - thankfulness.  I have learned that folks who tend to be pride-bitten demand certain things, but humble people accept with gratitude what the Father allows.

Soooo, as you traverse through this day open your mouth and sing the little ditty “If you want to be great in God’s kingdom learn to be a servant of all”.



Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Ascending From The Desert

“The bride says, ‘Who is this coming out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all the merchant’s fragrant powders?  Behold, it is Solomon’s couch with sixty valiant men around it, of the valiant of Israel’” (Song of Songs 3:6,7).

Hey Gang:  When was the last time you read Song of Solomon?  I must admit it has been a spell since I did, but, in our work with Voice of Martyrs, we were introduced to a book by Richard Wurmbrand, founder of VOM, titled The Midnight Bride. This is a Devotional Journey through the Song of Solomon with the  Persecuted Church and their Bridegroom, Messiah.

Although each devotional is inspirational in nature, one day was of special interest to me because it talked about a place we have been privileged to visit we have visited Israel, the Arabah or desert.  

 I must admit that on my first several visits, the desert looked like so much sand. And then one day a guy showed up to volunteer at Tel Tamar who happened to be an entomologist.

In one short walk into the desert, he showed me the desert was not in fact as arid as people believed; thousands of different plants thrive there.  He also showed me that what characterizes these plants is great adaptability and, without it, they would soon perish under the harsh conditions.

Wumbrant wrote, “What a marvelous sight it must have been for the people of Israel when they came from wandering in the desert to the land of milk and honey.  It is the same when a soul returns to God from the desert of this world and cleaves to Jesus, thereby entering a state of grace, and the bride is brought to the bridegroom.”

We have learned that many persecuted Christians thrive in their desert- prison.  One, who had spent many years in prison wrote, “The dungeon became to me as it were a palace, so that I preferred being there to being elsewhere.”  Wow!  What say ye to that?

Soooo.  Do not be fearful of dry times in your spiritual life.  Tap into the Bridegroom, seeking only His living water and you will thrive. 



Do You Need A Lift?

“But now, O Lord, You are our Father, We are the clay, and the work of Your hand.” (Isaiah 64:8).  Know that the Lord Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.”  (Psalms 100:3).

Hey Gang:  Did you ever sing a song that hit your wow-er button?  I mean that went straight to the control center of your heart.  Polymyalgia  does not like heavy humidity and high temperatures: It lets you know where every muscle and tendon is in your body
Much as I hate to admit it, this ‘achyness’ began to eat at me and bring out the ‘why’ buzzards.  ‘Why, Lord, when doctors tell me Polymyalgia is a two to three year infirmity (and then it hunts someone else to bug) do I have to endure it for over ten years?’ 

Then Sunday arrived and Satan attacked the bride of my youth.  I do not believe he wanted me to hear a very special song that ministered to my soul.  Sunday School was out of the question but the ‘slight affliction’ could not stand in the presence of God’s answer to prayer and we went to church. 

Pastor Chris brought a powerful message and the Praise Team topped it off with the song “THE POTTERS HAND.  Perhaps you know this song.  If so, sing along as you read the words; if not absorb the words into your control center and bask in their glory.   

“Beautiful Lord, wonderful Savior, I know for sure all of my days are held in your hand, Crafted into Your perfect plan.  You gently called me into Your presence, Guiding me by your Holy Spirit, Teach me dear Lord, to live all of my life through Your eyes  I'm captured by Your Holy calling, Set me apart, I know You're calling me to Yourself, Lead me Lord, I pray.  Take me, mold me, use, me, fill me.”
I give my life to the Potter's hand…Call me, guide me, lead me, walk beside me…I give my life to the Potter's hand……

Sooos Gang, as you traverse through this day,  turn on the stereo systems God built into you at conception and sing along with me “Have Thine own way Lord, Have Thine own way.., Thou are the Potter and I am the clay… Mould me and make me after Thy will…While I am waiting, Yielded and still…”’



Monday, September 19, 2011

Are Your Priorities Right?

“Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature”  (Rom. 13:14).

Hey Gang:  In my high school years I was privileged to play drums in a pretty good dance band called the ‘Stardusters’.   As I have mentioned before, I was a backward sort of chap that tended to stay in the shadows but when I was playing a gig, I was something special! 

Each Saturday and Sunday night I would put on my maroon cardigan jacket, my blue pegged pants, my Mr. B. Shirt and suede shoes and step out from the shadows.  I was one cool dude!

But, at the same time, there was an emptiness down deep inside that continued to bug me.  How many know that when the dance is over there is always the feeling of emptiness that follows, until the next dance.  
I soon learned that the fancy threads did nothing to fill the vacuum that is just the size of God.

Paul addressed the clothing issue when he tells us to clothe “ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ.” Would Jesus wear a cardigan jacket, pegged pants, Mr. B. shirt and suede shoes?  I think not.  Fashion dictates the way we dress.  We dress to impress.  Being accepted was very important to me, as it is with most folks.

Now comes the question, how can I dress myself with the Lord Jesus Christ?  To begin, it has nothing to do with threads and a whole heap to do with attitude!  When I am trying to impress folks by saying, “Hey, look at me!” it is based on an ego trip and I am on the wrong track.

The Bible challenges me not to gratify the desires of my sinful nature.  Who am I trying to impress and for what reasons?  We are warned that we can become so wrapped up in ‘self’ that we no longer see the sin in our lives.    
Soooo, good folks, when you put your threads on this morning, make sure the armor of God is also in place for you to be a witness of God’s love and grace.



Thursday, September 15, 2011

To Believe Is Not Enough!

“You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”  You believe that God is one.  You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.  But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless. James 2:18-20

Hey Gang:  I want to share a common cancer that has infiltrated the body of Christ - that “to believe is enough”.  I believe in my bride, I believe in her love, her integrity, her faith, her commitment to her Lord and me.  She supports me in most things I do, is a constant source of encouragement.  But is that enough?

I appreciate her, honor her, esteem her but is that enough.  All these things are essential in a husband-wife relationship, but, if I do not show the faith that I have in her without my works, “I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (I Corinthians 13) in the relationship.   

All the things mentioned above are important, but, if I don’t spend time with her, show my affection, demonstrate my love for her with all my heart, the relationship will die on the vine.

The same is true of our relationship with Jesus.  We may believe in Jesus with all of our being, but, if we don’t talk, spend time with Him and do the things that show our love, our relationship with Him will also die on the vine.

Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me”.  (Matt. 25:45).  As Chaplain, I would ask the boys, “What is the most important word in the English language?”  I would receive a multitude of words but not the one that impacts on eternity- the word NOT I can think of no more frightening, agonizing word than to hear Jesus say “I know you NOT”.

Sooo, my young friends, how is your relationship with Jesus this morning?  Have you talked with Him this morning?  Have you opened your heart to His leading this morning?  Have you said to Him, “Here am I, Lord, use me!



WHo Packed Your Chute?

“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, When it is in your power to do it” (Proverbs 3:27).

Hey gang,  most of you know I was a member of the Flying Bird Boy Club (better known as the United States Air Force) for four years and served with many of the warriors who had fought in the Korean conflict.  It was always a joy to sit around after the traffic was safely tucked away on the flight line and chew the fat on past days, friendships and even an exploit or two.

There were some wonderful stories that high-lighted the camaraderie that exists among our nations warriors.  When you are placed in the position of protecting your neighbor’s back, it leads to some very strong relationships, even though you may not know the person you are protecting.

One of the very special buildings on the flight line had no special name;  just a little grey building filled with  long tables.  But, to the pilots, it was one of the most important places on the base - it was there that the parachutes were packed by a group of very dedicated airmen.

I ran across this neat little story several days ago; it hit a nerve and I want to share the story with you:
“Charles Plumb, a Navy pilot in Vietnam was shot down and captured after successfully completing 75 combat missions over North Vietnam.  He survived six years in the Hanoi Hilton, the famed Vietnamese prison.  Now he shares lectures on his experiences. 

One day a man came up to him and said, “You’re Plumb!  You flew jet fighters from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk.  You were shot down!”  Plumb replied, “How in the world did you know that?”  Smiling, the man said, “I packed your parachute, I guess it worked!”

Neat heh!  Now for the question: “Who packed your chute?  Who helped you get where you are? Who put their all on the line and protected your back?  Paul looks back and recalls people most of us have never heard of – like Andronicus and Junia, “...Who for my sake risked their necks” (Romans 16:4.

 Soooo, my young warriors for Christ, keep in mind there are no ‘self-made’ people.  Everyone who has ever done a kind deed, or spoken a word of encouragement has entered into the makeup of your character and your success.  So who packed your parachute?  Be advised I am helping to pack your parachute each time I pray for you.



Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Are You Ready To Be Promoted?

“The mind of the prudent acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.  A man’s gift makes room for him And brings him before great men” (Proverbs 18:15-16)

Hey gang: Here is something you can take to the bank- God is preparing you for something!  You may be in the middle of the greatest battle of your life and the road ahead looks like it is filled with deep pot holes. But, as an old salt once told me when I, too, was in one of those battles for my life, “This too shall pass”- as long as we put our trust in the Lord.

What you are struggling with right now is just part of the preparation.  Get ready, “What Satan meant for evil, God’s about to turn for good” (Gen. 50:2; Romans 8:28) When God brought David to the palace, he was a wild, uncouth shepherd boy with sheep dung on his boots.   His resume was impressive. He had killed a bear and lion to protect his sheep, but now God had a much bigger assignment for him. 

We sometimes think that we have nothing to offer God, but keep in mind, when David saw Goliath and the Philistines kicking the Jewish people around he stepped up to the line and said, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the living God?” (I Samuel 17)  His weapon? A piece of rawhide and a stone!  His battle cry?  “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” 

Paul warned that the last days will be filled with ‘Goliaths’. But, be of good cheer,"... for God will never leave you or forsake you." (Hebrews 13:5)  Jesus promise?, “And behold, ‘I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.’” (Luke 24:49)

Sooooo, young folks, have you been endowed from power on high?  You bet your sweet bippy you have been-- if you have “stayed in the city until clothed with His power”. 



Tuesday, September 13, 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 is being determined by your answer.  If you can prove that prayer is the way to the throne room of heaven, you live and if it does not you die. 

Does that sound crass? 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.   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?

Paul challenged us to “Pray without ceasing”, and while you are at it, “In everything give thanks” Why? Because “this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”  I Thessalonians 5: 17-18.

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.    Jesus question to them, and to 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”.  Matthew 26:41.

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



Monday, September 12, 2011

Stick Horse Faith

“But My righteous one shall live by faith; and if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure Him.”  Hebrews. 10:38.

Hey Gang:  As a young lad, I owned a stick horse and loved to ride around the house on this make-believe beast. After I had bugged my mom to the point where she could no longer tolerate my laps around the furniture, she would counsel me (“threaten” might be a better word) to tie old ‘Dobbin’ up for a spell.  This I would do with the same tender loving care that I had seen others cowboys tie up their steeds.

As I think back on those days of bliss, for it was a time of great joy with very little in the areas of responsibility demands,  I was on top of the world when on my stallion. I now realize, if others were watching me, they would not think it was much of a feat to control that stick rescued from the fire bin.  In reality the horse was nothing more than an inanimate object and was totally dependent on my creativity and energy.

Now what does that have to do with faith?  First, we have to come to the realization where we believe that Faith is as real as that stick horse.  There was an assurance – in my head - that the stick horse was real and would sustain me even though it was my strength that held it up  It is learning the our Abba Father and His strength, that is our ‘stick horse’ when we not only hit the clinkers in the road, but in the good times as well. 

Paul, in his letter to the Romans, addresses this very point.  He wrote, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into his grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God” Romans 5:1-2. 

In other word,s faith opens our spiritual eyes to behold the glory of God and it fills our heart with hope.  Faith is the foundational building block for Christian living.  It is as real as that stick that became a horse in the hands of little lad, and, like the stick horse, you have to pick it up and get on board.

So, my young lads and lassies, when the rubber-hits-the-road, don’t get out one of the bangles and beads that so many put their faith in – in times of adversity - but “put your hands in the hands of the one who stills the waters”.