Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What Price – An Important Follow Up To Yesterday

“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.  Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction” (Phil. 4:13-14).

Hey Gang: Do you have any idea what it is like to live in a country that is doing all in its power to remove all facets of Christ from their country?   Today we are praying for Pastor Youcef Nadarkhari in Iran and Asia Bibi in Pakistan who have been sentenced to death.  Why, because they were once Muslim but found Christ as their Savior and Lord.  The charge:  “apostasy”.

In the past several years, we have been involved with Voice of Martyrs, a ministry to the persecuted church.  We have truly learned what Paul meant when he wrote, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me”.    Working in the mail room eight hours a day for two weeks is very hard work but the amazing thing is at 78 and 74 years of age when our bodies tend to tire more quickly, God has given us the strength to fulfill the responsibilities that we choose to accept.

We received the monthly bulletin from VOM yesterday and Tom White, the presidents wrote in his  editorial the tremendous work that they are doing in the areas where the persecution is the greatest.  Tom wrote, “This past year, we have been privileged to share in the distress of many in the persecuted church which have suffered the same kind of attacks and oppression suffered by the disciples”.

In many cases when a person rejects Islam and chooses to follow Yeshua as Lord, they are not only rejected by their family but endure tremendous persecution from the community.  There are many tragic stories about individuals who have endured years of persecution but stand firm in the faith.  Their battle cry is “I will not come down from the wall”.

Over 100 million Christians worldwide suffer interrogation, arrest and even death for their faith, with millions more facing discrimination and alienation.  Every five minutes some place in the world a Christian is martyred.  We are truly blessed to live in a country where we can freely worship and give praise to Abba Father.  Could that change?  Yes, the news is filled with Satan’s attacks on our freedom to worship Jesus. 

Soooo, as you spend time in prayer remember the millions who live under the dark clouds of tyranny, that this very day may lose their lives for their Lord.  The one thing that we have learned about these dear saints,   is they will not back down and deny their Lord.  Pastor Youcef and Asia could walk out of their prison cells today if they rejected Jesus as Lord and vow to be good Muslim’s.  What would your answer be if you were placed in their shoes?



Be a Seed Planter: Reach Out and Touch Someone

“For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit” (I Cor. 12:13).   In other words, “...we were made to share.”

Hey Gang:  Time for another lesson from the old man that is older than dirt.  I have learned along the way it is easy to fall by the wayside and thrown under the bus without anybody ever noticing.  But getting run over is not the real problem – it is being fearful to seek out a brother or sister to share that you have been run over because you fear they will think you are on some sort of pity party, or just plain weak of faith.

Paul says, get over it; refuse to live in bondage to that kind of stinking – thinking.  He clarified that point when he wrote  that we were made to share and carry each other in times of wilderness experiences.  In the Scripture verse for the day, he wrote, “For by one spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jew or Greeks, either slave or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. “

 God said it is not good for man to be alone. “Because we are wired to be communal in nature and crave to be connected.  We need people to laugh with, talk with, interact with and yes, even to cry with.  When that does not happen we are not strengthened by receiving, and others are not blessed by our giving.

But a word of caution:  Do not hold a person to such high esteem that they lead you down the wrong pathways; nor worship at the altar of their public opinions in order  to stay in their good graces;  nor be intimidated into being anyone other than the person God made you to be.
Soooo, with that in mind, make sure you reach out and share your burdens.  The help you need is just around the corner.    Paul wrote, “For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.” (2 Cor. 12:12). 



Sunday, November 27, 2011

You Have Got to be Kidding!

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you,  so that always having all sufficiency in everything , you may have an abundance for every good deed” (2 Cor. 9:8) 

Hey Gang:  I heard a neat story that qualifies for the “so that always having all sufficient in everything” classification.  Check this out and see if you agree with me.

A young lassie was invited to go rock climbing with a couple friends.  The problem, rock claiming was not at the top of her priority list and, frankly speaking, just the thought of it scared the tar out of her. 

But she ‘grit her teeth’ and said “Yes”.  On rock climbing day she attacked the course with fear and trepidation and breathed a sigh of relief when she reached a ledge where she could lean back and catch her breath; however, as she adjusted her safety line it hit her eye, knocking out one of her contact lens.

Okay, there are miracles and then there are miracles but how in the world do you find a contact lens on the side of a mountain.  Answer, they didn’t.  But, as they prepared to continue their climb, they heard someone yell from beneath them “Hey, anyone lose a contact lens?”

Now for the unbelievable.   “How did you find it?”, she asked excitedly.  The climber told of seeing a tiny ant moving slowly across the large stone where he was sitting. Then he noticed that the ant was carrying something. You guessed it – a contact lens!

Soooo, good buddies, when the rubber-hits-the-road, don’t sweat it, if God can recruit an ant to carry a contact lens, He can take care of the details in our life. Now I ask you, “Does God not have a sense of humor?”



Friday, November 25, 2011

I Will Not Be Shaken!

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

Hey Gang:  Wow, do I have some fabulous news for you this morning!   Yes, we are living in that time referred to by Paul as “perilous times".  A time described by the writer of Hebrews when he advised us that there will be a time “...when everything which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain”. (Heb. 13:27).

Notice the last words of that verse “...which cannot shaken”.  As I have studied the word I have learned that there are prerequisites to the promises of God.   A neat Word study and one that reveals the unbounded love of God for His children is the phrase “I will...” but, to truly understand this un-boundless love, you also need to look at the “if’s” that trigger this un-boundless love. 

If I were able to ask each of you who receive this epistle where Jesus, the Son of God, is at this moment, most would quickly reply, “He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 1:20) and you would get a star at the top of your paper.   

And now for the “Wow” lesson of the morning:  Paul goes on to give us this fabulous piece of truth “By grace you have been saved, and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus”! (Eph 2:6).

Perilous times, yes, but God’s grace is sufficient fort even the deepest and widest wilderness experience. 

Soooo, when you hit the shaker, stop for a moment or two and remember where you are, you are seated with Christ in the heavenly places.  Can you say a big “Amen to that?



Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Why Should We be Thankful to God?

“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another is psalms and hymns, and spiritual songs, sinning and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lo Jesus Christ to God, even the Father” (Eph. 5:18-20).

Hey gang:  it is my sincere opinion that designating a day called Thanksgiving is, in reality, designed for those who are non believers in the goodness of Jesus Christ.   Why do I say that?  Because Paul teaches us in I Thess. 5:18 “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 

Several years ago, I was pulling my recreation vehicle home from a weekend in the woods and was on a back road doing around fifty miles an hour when a car pulled out of a driveway about five hundred feet in front of us. 
Corrective action preventing my hitting the car, but shortly after that the driver slammed on the breaks and began a left turn off the roadway.   There was no way in the world I was going to keep from plowing into the car, but, not only did I not hit the car but did not shake up the contents of the coach! 

I have thought about that incident each time I drive by that spot and thank God for what he did that day.
Have you ever taken the time to sit down and make a listing of the times God blessed you with a very special blessing?  Have you ever considered the times He may have saved your life and you knew nothing about it?  Are you one Who tends to use the phrase, “Boy that was lucky”?

If the will of God in Christ Jesus is to give thanks to God in everything, every believer should know why we should give thanks and be grateful all time.  Gratitude is a feeling of thankfulness and appreciation of everything the Almighty God is doing in our daily life. 

Soooo, young colleagues, may I suggest that sometime in the leisure of your Thanksgiving celebration, take your Bible and concordance and do a word study on thanksgiving and gratitude.  You will find many such references in both Old and New Covenants for it is God’s will.  Read one a day for a week or more.



Monday, November 21, 2011

What Does it Take to Build a Fire Within Your Gizzard?

“Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key to the abyss and a great chain in his hand .  And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed.”  (Rev. 20:1-3)

Now, I ask you, does that not kindle the flame that is already burning deep within your soul?  Can you even begin to imagine what John is writing here?  Did you ever take a few moments to visualize what the New Heaven and New Earth will be like without Satan and his minions to harass you?

Jesus said, “There will be no more tears, I will wipe them all away and there will be no reason for tears in the New Jerusalem.  For there will be no more death, no more mourning or crying, or pain, the first things have passed away.” (Rev. 21:4-5).

Is that not “out of sight? But notice verse 3, “And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them”.

John went on to write, “I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.  And the city has not need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb” (Rev. 21:22-23).

Do you feel a wee bit like David did when he brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem?  “And David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, and David was wearing a linen ephod” (2 Sam. 6:14)   I am not too sure the linen ephod would go over in this macho day and age, but I sense there is growing desire in the hearts of many to dance before the Lord. 

Soooo buddies, How about you!  Oh, common try, – it only hurts for a little while and it beats the tar out of yoga.



Oh, Yes, God Has Prepared A Better Tomorrow!

 Yesterday the Scripture for the day was Luke 6:38   “Give, and it will be given to you.  They will pour into your lap a good measure – pressed down, shaken together, and running over.  For by your standard of measure it will, be measured to you in return.”

Hey gang, I shared a message centered on one Mr. Diggs on Friday..  As I mentioned from world standards he was a total flop.  I mean, he did not rise to the top of the corporate ladder.  In all probability he did not even move beyond the kindergarden level of the corporate ladder.  He had no great academic credentials. 

But what he did have was many stars in his crown for the kick ball crowd who sat under his counsel and teaching those many days when He shared that Abba Daddy loved them with an unconditional love.

I was sitting on the patio several days ago and happened to look up and the sky was fabulous.  There were multitudes of beautiful formed clouds, each one unique in size and color and Paul’s words popped into my mind, “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago – whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I did not know, God knows – such a man was caught up to the third heaven” (2 Cor. 12:2)
Is that not a fabulous verse?  As I laid there with my head back looking into the heavens I wondered if God suddenly rolled back the sky what would I see.  John says, “One day we will see a new heaven and a new earth, and a holy Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for his husband”, having the glory of God, Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear and jasper”. (Rev. 21:2) .  Does that get your ticker to ticking faster? 

Sooo, my young warriors, when the rubber-hits-the-road today, and it will probably hit- the-road, if you are waking with Jesus as your Lord, for Satan does have sufficient darts to make our lives a challenge, take a moment and walk outside and look to the heavens and remember, God has already prepared the New Heaven and Earth, one that will be free from the bondages of the evil one”. 
Wow, is that not awesome?



Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Slice of Immortality Can Be Yours

“Give, and it will be given to you.  They will pour into your lap a good measure – pressed down, shaken together, and running over.  For by your standard of measure it will, be measured to you in return.” (Luke 6:38)

Hey Gang:  His name was Mr. Diggs.  I do not recall ever hearing his name mentioned in the town hall meetings, or see his name in the paper for some wonderful  thing he did to promote and bring honor to his community.  To most he was just an old man who spent many hours sitting on his porch doing nothing but rocking.

But to the kids on the block, Mr. Diggs was something very special.  He had gained the  title of respect  “Big Daddy”.  The neighborhood was what we commonly call “transitional” or “rundown”.  Few of the boys who played kick ball on the street in front of Mr.Digg’s home had daddies. 
He was not sure how it happened, but one day one of the boys noticed that Mr. Diggs spent much of his time rocking and reading  and asked “whatcha reading, man?”  His response, “How to be something special in this world”. 

To make the long story short, it struck a nerve in that boys heart and he wanted to know about this ”success stuff”.  From that day forward,  Mr. Diggs became a seed planter in the life of not only this one who wanted to know about “success stuff” but multitudes of other boys that played kick ball in front of his house.   
Mr. Diggs was a great believer in the following Bruce Barton adage, “The greatest sporting proposition in the world is, place a bet on a boy.  You invest a few dollars in his character and education and you can never tell how big a winning you may make.  Presently he becomes a man, through his life you live – your influence extends through him and his descendent.  You have purchased a little slice of immortality.”
Soooo, my young friends, do you want to purchase a little slice of immortality today, then deny self, take up your cross and seek out someone that needs to have a seed planted in their life.  
You won’t have to look very far for they are all around you.



Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thanksgiving - Careful With Those Gornics (Hillbilly word for a moderate sized stone)

“But when they persisted in asking in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7).

Hey gang:  I wanted to move on from the “Sadness in my heart” and “What the World Needs now” morning thoughts to one of joy and gladness.  We are approaching that time of the year when our hearts turn to the wondrous things God has done, and continues to do for us.  But again, I sense God would like to see some closure in my heart for what has happened in Happy Valley.

I must confess that when I think of the tragic events of the past several decades in Happy Valley it tends to send my blood pressure off the Richter Scale.  It is times like this when I want God to say it is okay for me to become a Mt Vesuvius and blow my top? 

But the answer is always the same, “Not your business!” Remember, “You are not to judge so that you will not be judged.  For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:1-2).

Does that ease the pain that wells up in me each time I hear another news report of the dastardly deed?  In no way.  But, note the verse that follows the Scripture of the day, “Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying “I am the Light of the world, he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life” (John 8:12).   

I recently heard a discussion between several guru’s who carried the title of ‘authority’ in Arab and Muslim affairs.  It resembled a conversation between a conservative and liberal where they could not agree on whether they were standing or sitting.  I do not remember much about what was said that night, but do remember one point that penetrated my boredom .“We need to pray that the spirit of Allah be broken in the lives of those held in bondage.”

Soooo, if there is a moral to this epistle today it is don’t’ reach for a gornic.  Do not judge. Let God be God. 


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

“What the World Needs Now is Love – Right After Integrity!

“But he refused and said to his master’s wife, ‘Behold with me here, my master does not concern himself with anything in the house, and he has put all that he owns in my charge.  There is no one greater in this house than I, and he has withheld nothing from me except you, because you  are his wife.  HOW THEN COULD I DO THIS GREAT EVIL AND SIN AGAINST GOD?” (Gen. 39:8-9)

Hey Gang:  Yesterday I shared the message, “There is a sadness in my heart”.  As I went through the day, the thought of why do such things happen or why do we allow them to happen.  Did the people involved know that it was happening and if so why did they allow it to continue?  And in the quietness of the day, that quiet voice spoke “integrity has become just a word without meaning”.

 A cartoon in a local newspaper depicted two executives sitting in prison.  One turns to the other and says “And all along I thought our level of corruption fell well within community standards”. Another said “we can tell the success of our people by how many toys they have”.  

As I listened to the news tonight, which I might add is the most depressing part of my day, I got the feeling that I was sitting in one of the deck chairs on the Titanic.  As one announcer said, ‘the biggest problem for the news media today is which crisis or break down in the  law of our land demands time on the airways. ’      
The question then is, what is integrity? Everyone can probably give a definition of integrity and they'll probably all be different in some way or another.  The dictionary says that integrity is "the quality or state of being of sound moral principle; uprightness, honesty, and sincerity."

Okay, so integrity has to do with being moral, but I wonder if the average Joe on the street has even a remote understanding of  what the concept of morality is all about.   Again, according to the dictionary moral means "capable of making the distinction between, right and wrong in conduct." That's mans definition, but what is God's?

The Bible teaches that integrity is doing what God would say is the right thing, even if it costs you. It means obeying God's law, speaking only truth, and putting the other person ahead of yourself. It means displaying the character of God in your daily walk and that means setting us apart from the world and being role models of the character of our God.

A man of integrity would rather die than deny, or turn away from, his integrity. Job said: "I will never admit you are in the right; till I die, I will not deny my integrity" (Job 27:5). Why? Because even in the midst of torment, Job held on to his integrity.

Tomorrow morning I am going to have a blood test for my annual physical.  I wonder if one of the tests could measure integrity in my blood,  at what it would tip the scale?

 P.S.  How about you?

Monday, November 14, 2011

There is a Sadness IN my Heart

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Rom. 8:28);  “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute  bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! (Isa. 5:20).

Hey gang: As a little squeezer one of my favorite memories of my past centers of those trips to a place called the Ivy-side amusement park.  It was in a place that was very special to me called Juniata Gap.  A trip on the Rolla-coaster was an indescribable delight to this pint sized kid and a trip down what was to me a gigantic water slide in the massive pool a memory that I shall never forget.

And then the tragedy of all tragedies happened, the amusement park closed its door for the last time and the property sold to a University.  I will never forget that day, it was like someone dumped ice water over my entire body.  It was a sadness that I thought would never be succeeded by any other experience.
But that is no longer true.  My heart is filled with anguish and pain today because that university, that also became a great love in my heart was Penn State.   I remember many times when we drove up to “Happy Valley” just forty miles over the mountain from Altoona, my home town, and enjoyed the beauty of the valley where the main campus is located and  how I longed to one day be able to be a Nittany Lion fan as a student.

I prayed Lord, how can you make this work for your glory, how can you turn this evilness into something good.  And then Saturday came and in Happy Valley.  In football seasons the world stopped and the gridiron became the only thing that existed.  The question from the outside world was “should the game be played”.  But I believe God had already prepared the way for His healing process to begin. 

As the Nittany Lions came on the field they did not run on as usual with their beloved coach in the lead, they came locked armed to show ‘Yes, there was a tragedy here’ but we are not going to lay down and allow Satan to use it as an albatross around our necks.  The student body had made a massive and wonderful decision, they would not wear white as a sign of Nittany Lion Power but blue as a sign that we come before you Lord with a united contrite heart and compassion for those who have been wounded.

And then the high point of that afternoon in Happy Valley, as the captains approached the center of the field for the traditional coin toss both sidelines were cleared as both players and coaches ran to the center of the field where they embraced the opposition and then all two hundred of the gridiron warriors from both sides bowed before the Lord seeking that He would take this hideous transgression and make it work for His good.

Yes, my heart is heavy this morning but the sun is shining through the window and I believe with all my heart that God began the process of healing in Happy Valley on Saturday.  Is that not the wondrous beauty of being a child of God and knowing that He can take even the grossest of our errors and use them for His glory?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

What You See Is What You Get!

“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart”  (I Sam. 16:7)

Hey Gang:  He was wearing a tank top tee shirt, bib overalls, a bandana around his head and had a beard half when down his chest when he showed up for his job interview.  By corporation standards he would not have qualified for janitor.  

But he also had something else on that day that got my immediate attention - a smile that went from ear to ear.  I learned within minutes that he was a “people person”  and would fit the bill to a ‘T” for the position he was applying for.

In my tenure in working with children that have made some very bad decisions and brought them to my doorstep, I have learned not to depend on the written records to determine what was inside the head and heart of the child. 

Some with records as long as your arm were acting from the very frustration that they had so much to offer and could not a find a positive way to demonstrate what was truly inside of them.  And then there were the others who had tremendous ability and potential who failed to get up in the morning, who thought the world owed them a living and they would collect it in any manner possible no matter who it affected.

There is the story of the woman in the Bible who for eighteen years suffered under the burden of her infirmity. Probably curvature of the spine that had twisted her gnarled frame.  Bent over by the disease, she couldn’t see the smiles on the faces of the passersby.  She only heard their scorn.  Christ called her a “daughter of Abraham”.  We might call her a daughter of despair. 
Luke tells us in Luke 13:10-11 a demonic power had dealt a crippling blow to her life.  Agents of the one who came to ‘steal, kill, and destroy’ had laughed with glee as they drew the gray curtain of depression over her countenance, BUT, they hadn’t counted on Jesus being at the temple that day! 

“When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity,” (v.12).  Jesus saw something in this woman that no one else had seen and touched her. 

Sooo, as you walk through this day, tune your antenna’s to those around you that might not look so good on the outside and need a touch from the Lord.  You may be the one that sets them free from the bondage that holds them captive.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Do You Have A Buzzard Resting On Your Door Step?

Why are you so downcast, O my soul?  Why so disturbed within me?  Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”  (Psalm 42:5).

 Hey Gang: I found a neat easy to read little book by Stan Toler titled The Buzzards Are Circling, But God’s Not Finished With Me Yet!  From the moment I opened it I knew I was going to like it.  The print was easy to read, the chapters were very short and Mr. Toler wrote with a sense of humor.  Not being the best reader in the neighborhood, I tend to look for books like that.

We all have times when the buzzards seem to congregate on our fence post.  As I write this, a flock of buzzards is flying in formation over the Hainley house.  A grandchild with cancer, another with feet problems, other grands with issues, a daughter in the midst of a very difficult situation and a son with a medical need.

Add to that, when we arrived home from camping, I found the heavy rain had found a way to penetrate into the basement of my house. Years ago, after losing two boys in a boating accident, a friend of mine pulled me aside and said, “This too shall pass”. 

I have learned, in my tenure on this old earth, that buzzards will always be around seeking ways to penetrate our peace. BUT we have a lot to say about how long they will be allowed to rest on our fence post! That is, if we use our greatest weapon against them, namely the ‘power of God in our lives’. 

True, when the buzzard first arrives we tend to try and out muscle him with our own strength.  Unfortunately that does not always work and we finally turn to the One who said, “Don’t sweat it, I will never leave you or forsake you”.  
I have a neat ditty on my office wall that has traveled with me for many years and given me a degree of peace when the buzzers are congregating.  The last line says it all- “Rest my child.  If you need to contact Me, I am only a prayer away.”  Jeremiah put it this way, “Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and might things, which you do not know.”  (Jer. 33:3).

Soooo, be advised, it is not a question of “if” the buzzards will come calling but when, and what you will do about them?  You can try a multiplicity of ways to rid your fence posts of the creatures, but only one works every time, “I AM the way, Call on Me and I will answer!”


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Have You Been Grafted In?

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser”.  (Jn. 15:1)  “Abide in Me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.”  (v. 4).  If you abide in Me and My word abides in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you.”  (v. 7).  And finally “These things I have spoken to you, so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” (v.11).

Do you think it is okay to pray for the same thing day in and day out and several times in between?  Some would say that is repetitious and Pharisaical in nature.  To that I say “humbug”.  Paul said we are to “pray without ceasing” which I interpret as praying for those things that are on your heart until they are answered or put to bed forever.

At the top of my prayer list is “Lord, send a warning shot across the bow of those who are drifting down the river with no safety net.” There is noting that I fear more than knowing what is at the end of the path for those that have chosen to “go their own way”.

One of my favorite chapters in the Scriptures, along with many others, is John 15.  Jesus makes it Oh, so wondrously clear, that if we are not connected to the Vine, which is Christ Jesus, we are in big trouble.

I have used the analogy that when God breathes life into us, (you do believe God breathes life into you, don’t you?) He also places His wiring system in you, a wiring system that lays dormant until we recognize the need for Christ in our lives and surrender our all to Him and plug our wiring system into His power supply.  I believe the wiring analogy is a hillbilly rendition of being attached to the vine.

If we choose not to plug our power cord into God’s power supply, we are like a lamp with no light or a tree with no fruit.  You may even be a great success with tons of accolades that you can brag about but, unless you are grafted into the vine and producing fruit, you are on dangerous

Soooo, be aware that Jesus said fruitless vines would be pruned.  I don’t know about you but I certainly do not want to be “pruned”.  Jesus remedy for pruning – “Abide in Me!. 


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Most Disappointing Question

Jesus said, “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.  Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”  (John 14:7-8).

Did you ever have someone ask you a question or make a statement that sent shivers up your spine?   I believe Philip’s comment to Jesus did that very thing to the Master.  Jesus had spent three years preparing the twelve for that day when His tenure on earth was over and He would
return to the Father.

They were there when Jesus turned the water into wine; they were there when he healed the woman with the issue of blood; they were their when he touched the leper and removed the leprosy; they were there when He walked on water and calmed the sea; they were there when He raised Lazarus from the grave.

And now, the night of His last supper with them, the night he humbled Himself by washing the disciple feet, the night He announced to the disciples and to the world that “Now the Son of Man is glorified.”  He served His disciples the wine and bread and said, “This is My
body which is given to you; do this in remembrance of Me.”

Would that not be enough?  But note Simon Peter’s question, “Lord, where are you going?” and Thomas’ question, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way”?   Do you think that Jesus might have been a wee bit depressed?  Did He lose faith in his hand-picked twelve?  Notice Jesus words, ”I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you. After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you  will see Me; because I live, you will live also” (John 14:19-20).

Soooo, What say you?  Have you humbled yourself before Jesus lately and let Him wash your feet?  Have you partaken of the fruit of the vine and the bread in commemoration of the tremendous price He paid to relieve you of your sin burden?   What say you?



Fear Is Not God’s Way

“But now, thus says the Lord, your Creator, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel, Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you;  when you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched.  Nor will the flame burn you. “  (Isaiah 43:1-2).

Hey Gang:  Fear is not God’s way - but, I can in no way say I have been fearless in any way. Overconfidence has never been one of my long suits.  I have always had a tendency to look at the bills before income and bank balance.   Potential defeat has always hung more securely around my neck than feelings that all will work out well.  The uncertainty of the future has always been an albatross that lurks in the shadows.   I suspect growing up in the depression years might have something to do with that.

I can attest to the fact that fear can zap your enthusiasm, your strength, take your joy from you, destroy your peace and stomp the spring out of your step.   Yet, God promises us that no matter how hot the fire may get, through His power and strength we can face it without fear.

But in my years since accepting Jesus as my Lord and Savior I have learned that His ways are the only way.  Since He created me, He knows what it takes to fix me.  Yes, I continue to have fears when things do not go as I hoped they would, but I now have a defense against the fear

I have it pasted on the wall of my study, in my Bible and etched on the inside of my brain, “Give it to God” and take up my cross daily and follow Him.  I have learned to sing that familiar phrase,“Trust and obey, for there is no other way”.  In essence I try to find someone who is worse off than me and help them carry their cross.

 I learned that from a little boy who one day saw his elderly neighbor crying and crawled up in his lap.  When asked what he said to the neighbor, the boy said, ”Oh, I just helped him cry!”

Sooooo, young warriors, keep your antennas up and your peepers open, for we know not when God is going to run someone across our path that we need to sit and cry with.



Sunday, November 6, 2011

When the Rubber – Hits - The - Road

“How blessed is the man whose strength is in You, In whose heart are the highways of Zion!”  (Psalm 84:5)
This has been a very difficult week with many aches and pains.  Besides that my tractor is down once again and correction of the problem has been very slow in coming which has brought much discouragement and disappointment.  No matter how mature (meaning getting old as dirt) I become, these “days in the valley” do not become easier.

But this morning God sent a very special blessing to me, just to let me know He is very aware of my frustration and pain and will give me all I need to carry out His specific instructions for me this day, He placed a very special song in my heart.    “We shall behold Him!”

And when I opened my Bible, it opened to Psalms 84, not a Psalm that carried any special significance for me until this morning.  It starts out with a very special message for those days when the roof seems to be about to fall in on us; “Blessed is the man whose strength is in You.  Whose heart is set on pilgrimage.  As they pass through the Valley of Baca, They make it a spring;  The rain also covers it with pools.”  (vs. 5-6).

How many know that every word in the Bible has a very special significance.  I was drawn to the word ‘Baca” and after a bit of research I learned the Valley of Baca is associated with weeping.  As a matter of fact the word Baca is derived from a word that means “to weep”. 

Reading these verses reminded me that to follow God is to be on a long journey -   pilgrimage – that traverses all kinds of terrain.  We wind in and out, way up steep mountains and soon find ourselves in deep valleys; periods of laughter and excitement followed by periods of weeping and boredom.

I began my day in the Valley lf Baca, but God send me a very special blessing when He filled my hearing with “WE SHALL BEHOLD HIM!”  His Word assures me “I do not walk alone”.  



Thursday, November 3, 2011

Are You a TGIF Kind of Person?

Hey Gang, TGIF!  Do you feel that way?  In my working days I was involved in three occupations:   I was an air traffic controller, a counselor in a detention home and developer and president of a child care program. 
Note, none of these jobs were five-days  a week, nine to five and off on weekends and holidays.  Did it bother me?  Yes, to a degree, but there was the joy of knowing that one of my fellow employees was home enjoying his family today, and I would be able to do the same tomorrow. 

We certainly live in a world that spins faster with each passing day.  I often say, “When you live in a world filled with alligators up to your arm pits, it takes a day to relax and a day to gear up to return to work – that does not leave much time for relaxing.

I found this neat little ditty in Chuck Swindoll’s book, Ultimate Book of Illustrations, that makes a great deal of sense.  I wish I would have had it when I was up to my armpits in alligators.  It goes like this:

“Slow me down, Lord, ease the pounding of my heart by the quieting of my mind.  Steady my hurried pace with a vision of the eternal reach of time.  Give me, amid the confusion of the day, the calmness of the everlasting hills.  Break the tension of my nerves and muscles with the soothing music of the singing streams that live in my memory.  Teach me the art of taking minute vacations – of slowing down to look at a flower, to chat with a friend, to pat a dog, to smile at a child, to read a few lines from a good book.  Slow me down, Lord. And inspire me to send my roots deep into the soil of life’s ending values, that I may grow toward my greater destiny.  Remind me each day that the race is not always to the swift; that there is more to life than increasing its speed.  Let me look upward to the towering oak and know that it grew great and strong because it grew slowly and well.”

Soooo, my young folks, when it seems the alligators are rising and the sun is having a hard time peeking through the dark clouds, take a moment or two and smell the posies.  Then call someone that is worse off than you and tell them you really, really, really care about them. The point? Jesus said “Go and spread the “Good News” even on Friday.



Wednesday, November 2, 2011

God’s Provision in Times of Temptation

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man, and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” (I Cor. 10:13).
Is it not fan-tab-u-lous to know that God has made promises and provisions that apply to every facet of our lives  – even the very tough ones.  I received the following email from one of the staff at the Village one morning:

 “Last weekend Eagle Village had run out of milk. On Saturday someone showed up at the IC (Intervention Center) saying, “We have some milk to donate. We don’t know where we should go. Can we just bring it in here?  IC staff said, “Yes” and these people brought in 12 cases of individual cartons of milk.  No one knows who they were or where they came from or who to thank.”

Charles Spurgeon wrote the following:  “A promise from God may be compared to a bank draft.  It is given to the believer with the view of bestowing upon him some good thing.  It is not meant to be read over and then set aside.  No, he is to treat the miracle as a reality, as man treats a check. 
 He is to take it, and endorse it with  his own name, personally receiving it as true.  He is by faith to accept it as his very own.”

But with all things we must be patient and know that Father knows best.  He knows our every need and is the creator of all.  He is entitled to fulfill His promises exactly when and how He wants.

Studying the promises of the Bible is like drinking out of a fire hydrant.  They are so powerful they knock us off our pins.   But with all things there are prerequisites that open the doors to God’s provisions and miracles.

 First, some are conditional – we must do something before God will act. Second, we must be locked into God’s power supply. Third, each is meant to be encouraging and lead us into a deeper walk with the Lord.  Lastly, all of the promises are universal and are as up to date today as when they were written.

Soooo,  be aware God is keeping His eye on you for he knows there is a deadly predator who is lurking in the shadows seeking that moment when he can devour you.  He is relentless in his attacks but you do not have to give in no matter how sever the attack is.   Our God is an
awesome God ever ready to give us the strength to be overcomers.



Tuesday, November 1, 2011

You’re never too old to change!

  “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship”  (Rom. 12:1).  Hainley hillbilly rendition “Fix your attention on God.  You’ll be changed from the inside out.”

I like Chuck Swindoll’s practical writings and teachings and preaching.  He says, “You’re over the hill when the stewardess offers you coffee, tea, or Milk of Magnesia; or you sink your teeth into a juicy steak, and they stay there; or there is more hair stuck in the drain than on your head” And  to that I would add “when we are no longer willing to change”. 

Alfred Nobel was Swedish chemist who made his fortune by inventing dynamite and other explosives used for weapons.  When his brother died, a newspaper accidentally printed Alfred’s obituary instead.  It described him as a man who’d become rich by enabling people to kill each other in unprecedented numbers. 

Deeply shaken, he resolved to use his fortune to award accomplishments that benefited humanity – hence The Nobel Prize.  Nobel had the rare opportunity reevaluate his life, after a life-time of accomplishments, and still live long enough to do something about it.  

Jerry Lewis joked that the best wedding present was a film of the entire marriage ceremony.  He said when things got really bad at home he would go into his study, run the film backwards and at the end walk out a free man. 

But be advised, ‘unwillingness to change is not restricted to the over the hill gang.’  We have all run into people who are locked into the way they are and nothing short of Nobel’s dynamite would break them out of their bondages.

Soooo,  you will probably never read your obituary in the newspaper, or run the film of your marriage backwards, but you can make a choice to change,  which, when we look back, looks amazingly like ‘growth’.