Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Are You a New Creature this Morning

Hey Gang:  I sense as I read Psalm 40 that David had come to the realization that human strength was not worth a bag of beans; only God sustains his servants.  Can you visualize David with outstretched arms in worship and praise before the Lord saying, “He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.”  Psa. 40:2”  James wrote, “Count it all Joy when you are going through the valley…”  

I don’t know about you but I tend not to set my feet a dancing when the alligators have assembled and are nipping at my heels. 

But this I have learned, it is at tough times when we learn that God is our sustainer. Notice in verse one, (40:1) Isaiah gives us the key to becoming a sustainer: “I waited patiently for the Lord.  Again, I confess that is not my way.  I want, what I want, when I want it,  and get the ‘heebeegeebees’ when I hear such words as, ‘not now’, ‘wait’, ‘perhaps tomorrow’, etc. etc.

As I look back on my more productive days, I remember times when I ask God for things that I later understood would have been detrimental to me.   In the early days of the village development I prayed that God would open the door to our gaining access to an airport that had closed its doors.  As I look back, I realize that God blessed my sox off by saying, “You must be kidding”.

Peter referred to those who were committed to be ‘living sacrifices’ for the Lord as ‘living stones’. “You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ,” (I Peter 2:5).

It means we must die to self and put God first in all we do and say. John wrote, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies it remains by itself alone, but if it dies it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it; and he who hates his life in this world shall keep it to eternal life.” (John 12:24-25).

Most recognize the familiar words of Paul in his letter to the Corinthians “Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things are passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Sooooo, dear people, keep in mind, a ‘living sacrifice’ is to have the same commitment Isaiah had when God was looking for someone to stand in the gap, “Here am I Lord, send me.” That is a scary commitment to those who lack the faith to trust that all things will be better under God’s control than when we lean “ON OUR OWN UNDERSTANDING!”



Monday, October 29, 2012

A Story We Like to Ignore

“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed, perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsake; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.  For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh” (2 Cor. 4:8-11).

Hey Gang:  We completed our first week at Voice of Martyrs and I am amazed that my seventy- nine year old body did not scream and yell too loudly.  Forty hours on your feet on cement floors loading 324,397 envelops on a conveyer belt, I believe was more designed for those in the dark -colored hair brigade and not us grey- haired old duffs that sometimes have to coax our bodies out of bed.  BUT we choose to do this as long as God gives us strength.

We were blessed to hear in Chapel, an underground minister for Viet Nam and a pastor from Bethlehem, both who live under the constant threat of death.  As they told their stories I was amazed, as they described their times in prison. They spoke with joy, for you see, it is a perfect place to preach the gospel. Why? Because it is a captive congregation and they are eager to hear there is a Savior who loves them and laid down His life for them.

Both have been beaten with rods;  Interrogated for hours and even days; and sporadic meals -  I use the word ‘meals’ very loosely, for it would be an insult to our garbage cans to throw the morsels that might be left.

As I listened to the pastors share their messages, I could not help by ask myself the question, “What would I do or say if an enemy of Christ held a gun to my bride’s head and said, “Deny Christ and she will live.” Would I have the strength to say, as a prophet of old once said when given the same option, “My God has cared for me, loved me, and taken care of my every need throughout my lifetime.,  Why would I deny Him now?.

Could this happen in America?  Are we not seeing he seeds of persecution rising from the pit in our Nation.  Notice Jesus words, “If you were of the world the world would love its own,  Yet because you are not of the world , but I chose you out of the world, therefore, the world hates you….If they persecuted me they will persecute you, for they do not know the One who sent Me.” (John 15:19-21). 

The question we answer each and every day with our very lives is,”Am I going to fed the white dog or the black dog?  Am I going to be a witness and a strong tower for My Lord?   Not sure?  Paul, who was an authority on what he termed ‘slight afflictions’ that he endured as an apostle of Christ, said,  “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities…(now notice his next words) “For when I am weak, then I am strong”.

Sooooo, my good buddies in Christ, What say you?   We have been blessed to live in a country where our constitution gives us the freedom to worship and praise the Lord in any way we choose but are those freedoms slipping away from us?  At a recent convention, God and Israel were eliminated from the platform of one of the major parties.  Did you know that?.  Does it concern you?  If not you best do some spiritual maintenance, 


Friday, October 26, 2012

Can One Hide Behind Their Lips?

"Words from the mouth of a wise man are gracious, while the lips of a fool consume him". (Eph. 4:29).  "He who loves purity of heart and whose speech is gracious, the King is his friend." (Pro. 22:11).

Hey Gang, As I watched the debates the question entered my mind, "Can we hide behind our lips?"  It was reported that in the course of the debate there were more than ten mis-statements, and a number of down- right lies.

I got the sense that both parties were searching their memory banks seeking a statement that would get them off the hook. Did you ever talk to someone that you knew was not hearing a word you said, but rather was digging through their computer banks seeking a rebuttal to what you were saying?
Are there any Rooster Cogburn fans out there?  Rooster had two very serious problems: one was that he liked to take frequent nips on his jug which led to his second problem - the booze released the control mechanism on his tongue.   Once, when he was unusually boisterous, his traveling companion, Kathryn Hepburn clipped his wings with the old adage: "A wise old owl lived in an Oak; the more he saw the less he spoke:  the less he spoke the more he heard. Why can't we be like that wise old bird?"

The Amish have a saying: "Swallowing words before you say them is much better than to having to eat them after you say them".  A lesson I had to learn. 

The Dutch say the same thing only a different way: "It is best to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt".  

In the recent debate between the one who is in, and the one who wants to get in, it was clear that the one who is in was doing all in his power to prevent the one who wants to get in, from speaking so he could do what he does, oh so well - hide behind his lips. 

 Do you think that is what Solomon meant here? "The lips of a fool consume him".
Jesus gave a stern warning when He said, "But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the  day of judgment, for by your words you will be justified and by your works you will be condemned." Matt 12:36"

Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, also had something to say about this malady that is so prevalent in our society today, "Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace in those who hear." (Eph. 4:29)

Soooo, my young friends, what words will you utter this day?  Will they be words that bring honor to your heavenly Father?  As the old hillbilly said, "Careful dude" with that miraculous device in your mouth, and keep in mind, choose only those words that are sweet to the taste, for you just might end up "EATING THEM".  Spoken from a voice of experience!



Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Tough Times Have a time Limit and We Have Much to Say About How Long They Last!

Holy Land Picture of the Day  

Negev Desert (ICEJ Staff photograph)Negev Desert
Today's picture is of the northern fringe of the Negev desert, near the Dead Sea. It reminds us of Dueteronomy 32:9-10; For the Lord's portion is His people; Jacob is the allotment of His inheritance. He found him in a desert land, and in the howling waste of a wilderness; He encircled him, He cared for him, He guarded him as the pupil of His eye".

Hey Gang,  I like Chuck Swindoll!   He rings my bell with his common sense approach to presenting God's Word.  He made a comment one day that I believe with all my heart to be true. He said,  "Many preachers would be far more effective if they just got up on Sunday Morning and read the Word to their flock.”

The news coming from the four corners, in the past several days, has been especially depressing.  I am sure you who avail yourselves of ‘Gramps messages’ on a regular basis get a wee bit tired of hearing me use the prophetic words of Haggai, "Everything that can be shaken will be shaken" but I do not believe we can deny "everything that can be shaken is being shaken".

So this morning I felt I should follow Pastor Swindoll's suggestion and just let the Word speak to your hearts.  The following verses area few of the promises God gives us for tough times:
Isaiah 43:2-3  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.  For I am the Lord your God,  The Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”

Jer. 29:11-13 “For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me and I will listen to you.  You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”

Matthew 7:7-8  “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find, knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks,  it will be opened.”

Matthew 11:28-30  “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”.

Phil.6:6-7  “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made know to God.  And the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”.

James 1:2-4 “Consider it all joy my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produced endurance.  And let endurance have its prefect result so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Psalm 9:9-10 “The Lord also will be a stronghold for the oppressed, A stronghold in times of trouble; And those who know Your name will put their trust in You, For You, O Lord have not forsaken those who seek You.”

Psalms 91:1-2; 14-16  “He who dwell in the shelter of the most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust.”

Soooo,  yes, one does not have to be a rocket scientist or brain surgeon to see that God is doing all in his power to get our attention.  My heart aches when I see folks going through very deep waters, but I also know that the honing of the wheel produces endurance for the long fight that lays ahead and through endurance we become perfect in God's sight.  (James 1:1-4). 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Are We Dropping the Ball?

"This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do all according to all that is written in it; for then you will make  your way prosperous, and then you will have success." Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous!  Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go" (Joshua 1:8-9).

Hey Gang:  In our Bible Study this week one of the participants shared the following story.   A church that had a healthy program for their youth from birth through graduation from high school; suddenly they realized that they had very few young adults in their church and wanted to know why.

A committee was organized to study the problem.  They contacted many of the past participants in their youth programs and found the following:  The young folks were in agreement that they were not included in 'Adult services' so the  sanctuary of the church was never really for them. They felt unwelcome to worship with the 'old folks', hear the word from the Pastor and adult 'praise and worship'

There were classes for the little ones, junior church for the middle-schoolers and a multitude of opportunities for the teen-agers, but little or  no interaction between the "saints of the church' and the 'growing up crowd.'  There were many social opportunities for the kids but no sitting side by side with their parents and the people who could share how to live through even the toughest of times.  The bottom line was "there was a  yearning in their hearts to grow in the Lord, but they didn't want to be part of the 'old folks' crowd.

As a child I remember there was a sanctity about the sanctuary of the church.  If a child ran or was loud, they would soon feel the hand of one of the grey haired saints on their shoulder.  I wonder if young people, or even the more mature folks, sometimes have a hard time separating the sanctity of the sanctuary from the social activities that are conducted there. It is nice to see respect taught in our churches.

Soooo, good buddies and ladies, there was one more point that the church study surfaced.  Youth felt they were not important to the saints of the church because they seldon saw the saints on youth turf.  They wondered why the more mature saints of the church, who have gone through the wars of this life, were not available to those who were going  through those wars today.   Many of these young people never find their way back to the organized church.



Friday, October 19, 2012

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me."

Jesus said, But I say to you, love your enemies,, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you" (Matt. 5:44).

Hey Gang:  "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me." That, my friends, is one of the bigger lies in the universe.  Let me share this tragic piece of balderdash from someone I know very well.  I was seven years of age,  had buck teeth,  was skinny as a rail,  a hillbilly kid from a very poor family, transplanted into the big city, and my name was KERMIT!  I have the scars to prove that words,  indeed, cause deep pain and agony to the receiver of those hate filled remarks.

We have heard a great deal about bullying in our school system.  I have got news for all of you who are naive in this matter and perhaps were fair-haired and did not stand out in any way, in your growing up years.  As you can see I was not one of the lucky ones.  I always felt that I had a bulls eye on my back. 

Perhaps that was preparation for what God was going to do through me - being a shirt tail to hand onto for young folks who were not fair-haired and did not stand out in anyway.  Does that mean there is no bullying in the latter years of life?  That too is balderdash.   Have you watched the news later.  We have two aspiring statesman trying to convince us they are smart enough, experienced enough, mature enough and have the spiritual backbone to run our country.

And how do they show all of those talents - by bullying the loyal opposition.  One might believe, by action and deed of the Belt Way Gang, one of the criteria for acceptance is to be callous in nature and adept at closing one's mind to the true needs of those they serve.

The 'Sword of the Lord' has much to say about bullying.  I like James' counsel on the subject when he describes the perfect man: "For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he  says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well". (James 3:2).  He goes on and describes the tongue as a fire, "the very word of iniquity, that can defile the whole body" (vs. 6).

Sooooo,  let me close with the person who has traversed through my life and is incapable of bullying.  She happens to be the bride-of-my-youth.  We have been having phone problems for several days and she has spent literal hours trying to find the one person who understands and can help with out malady.   Frustrated, yes, even angry, but did she raise her voice or become belligerent in any way - not in your sweet bippy.  Most of the time she ends up in conversation  with those I would call antagonist and the Spirit of God radiates through her words.  I shall keep trying!


P.S. A Proverb from the Plain People: "Where ever we go, God is there, whenever we call, God is listening, whatever we need, God is enough".  William Barkley ascribed Jesus' Parables as "swords to stab men's minds awake".

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Saga of the Chainsaw

"I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders.  I will be glad and exult in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High. When my enemies turn back, they stumble and perish before You....The Lord also will be a stronghold for the oppressed, A stronghold in times of trouble; And those who know Your name will put their trust in You, For You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You"  (Psa. 9:1-2, 9-10).

Hey Gang:  Something exciting is about to happen!  How do I know that, because God has shown me clearly throughout my lifetime that when the clinkers begin to pile up and the alligators begin to nip at my backside, He is preparing to move me up a  notch in my walk with Him. 

Years ago I was privileged to sit under the teaching of Bob Mumford, an old country preacher - teacher.  He used an illustration of folks who have a tendency to do  some sleep walking in the their walk with the Lord. He called it "God's chainsaw growth experience".  

His illustration: When we come into a new revelation of the Word or teaching and it  increases our faith, he compared it to struggling to climb a tree.  After painfully reaching the first limb we feel so good and so comfortable that we decide we will make our home there and remain forever. (Remember a few weeks ago the morning messages centered on "Don't get to comfortable"?).

Then one day God comes by with His chain saw and lops off the limb.  Your choice! Do a half gainer to the ground and land in a heap or  grab frantically for the next higher limb.  When, with a sigh of relief we  are safe and secure on the limb we look around and decide this is where we will spend the rest of our spiritual walk.

Now, you can guess what the rest of the story., God refuels His chainsaw and returns time and again in an attempt to get us out of sleep- walking blah stage.  Oh, by the way, the children of Israel learned that God does lose patience and cuts the entire tree down, as He did many times "with His Chosen People".

Soooo, As I mentioned above, something exciting must be going to happen because we are seeing an abundance of the Peter principle (If it can go wrong it will) around our house.   Or maybe God has his chain saw out and is sending a message -  it is time to "wake up" and give thanks to the Lord with all my heart, tell other of all His wonders,.  be glad and exult the Lord and sing praise to His name, O Most High.

I think I will do so me climbing today.  How about you?



Monday, October 15, 2012

What Does Your Blah Meter Register This Morning?

"Whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it. "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. (John 14:15-16).

Hey Gang: Yes, I know it's true but there are times when I need to find a well pit someplace and get off myself with the Lord and allow Him to check my pulse.  God woke me up this morning and said, "Hey, dude, you are sleep walking?  You are spending far too much time attending to the woes of the world and not enough as a solver of those woes.   

I think our pastor looked into my eyes and retreated to his study to construct his morning message. It was designed to hit me between the eyes.  His opening comment moved me from somewhere out in the hinter lands to the reality of where I am.  He gave several illustrations of people that sleep walk.  He could have left it there but he added "..and that is where many Christians are today."

Ya know, as I see everything that can be shaken being shaken, I have allowed a subtle enemy to invade my heart and mind - it is called the "blahs".  The media  spews forth the every widening river of news that the sky is falling, the world is up to its armpits in alligators, and it just does not seem to matter what comes out of the Beltway it is doom and gloom.

As I was driving down the highway several days ago, my mind in neutral, I was awakened by a statement made by someone who seemed to have some common sense.  Now I admit, when listening to the media that sort of thing is hard to come by.  He was addressing the question of "Why do people who cross the Belt Way Boundaries seem to leave their wisdom at home?  

He answered that question with a question of his own "where does wisdom come from?"  He then quoted the second wisest man who ever walked the earth, One King Solomon (we all know that Jesus was the wisest):  "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge...For the Lord gives wisdom" (1:7,2:6)   His conclusion, perhaps there are not very many Believers in our Nation's Capitol anymore.
But, then again, that would be judging, and Jesus gave this warning to His children: "If we judge others we will be judged "IN THE SAME MEASURE" (Matt. 7:1)  I seem to recollect there is verse or two in the Word about stones and glass houses. 

 Getting back to the subject of the morning message, after the service ended I had occasion to talk to several of my spiritual brothers and sisters and each mentioned a similar malady that they deal with in their walk with the Lord.  

Soooo,  to all of you who find yourselves seeking a well pit to reconnect with the Lord, let me share a verse that seems to work for me.  It is found in Paul's letter to his spiritually adopted son, Timothy,  he wrote, "For God does not give us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline." (2 Tim. 1:7).



Friday, October 12, 2012

A Yearning In My Heart

"I will Sing the Wondrous Story - I will sing the wondrous story of the Christ who died for me, How He left His home in glory For the cross of Calvary.  I was lost but Jesus found me, found the sheep that went astray.  Threw His loving arms around me, Drew me back into His way.  He will keep me till the river rolls its waters at my feet, Then He'll bear me safely over, where the loved ones I shall meet.

Hey Gang: Question: "If you were told that you were not allowed to have a Bible but could  have any other book, what would you choose?"  The old grey haired minister remarked, "A hymnal from yester year.
Now hear me, I do not have a problem with the new contemporary music that has captured the hearts of many responsible for the worship and praise times in our churches.  Some have referred to the music of today as the 7/11 variety, where you sing seven words eleven times. 

But there is yearning in my heart to hear the old power hymns that I learned as a child sitting beside my parents.  I also confess that there are many Sundays when I do not feel I have been in a worship service and have praised My Lord.    There are Sunday's when I did not sing one song.  Not because I do not want to praise the Lord in song, I simply do not know the songs that are being sung.

Okay, call me a grouch but before you condemn me to the 'older than dirt club' let me make a point to two.  One of my favorite songs from my past is "A Mighty Fortress is our God".  Look at the words of the first verse, A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing; Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing: For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe; His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate, On earth is not his equal.  I loved to hear the men sing "A Might Fortress is our God."  It entered my heart and stuck!

My mother's favorite hymn, and one I heard my dad sing many times wa,s "In the Garden"  I find myself singing this message as I drive down the road or on the tractor cutting the grass..  "I come to the garden alone.  While the dew is still on the roses.  And the voice I hear, Falling on my ear.  The Son of God discloses.  And He walks with me and He talks with me.  And He tells me I am His own.  And  the joy we share as we tarry there.  None other has ever known. He speaks and the sound of HIs voice is so sweet the birds hush their singing.  And the melody that He gave to me, within my heart is ringing."

When I hit one of those days when the clinkers are piled up to my armpits I sing out to the Lord, "Jesus Loves Me This I know, for the Bible tells me so, or This Little Light of Mine, Let it shine. 

Amazing Grace reminds me and assures me that "He saved a wretch like me".  Wow, I need to hear that in this day when all is being shaken;  and the fabulous promise that "grace will lead me home".

Soooo,  I pray you will not think too harshly of me for not shouting from the roof tops how great are the new words and music that fills our sanctuaries, but when I sing, "On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross, the emblem of suffering and shame, I love that old cross where the dearest and best for a world of lost sinners was slain"  it resonates deep into my soul.



Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I Ain't Worth Much

"My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth.  Your eyes have seen my unformed substance and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me when as yet there was not one of them.  How precious also are Your thought to me, O God!  How vast is the sum of them!  If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.  When I awake, I am still with You." (Psa. 139:15-18).

Hey Gang:  An old salt, after listening to an oratorical gem presented by the young man with the PhD, said, "I would like to buy that young man for what he is worth and sell him for what he thinks he is worth!" 

The older I get the more amazed I become with man's determination to try and drive square pegs into round holes.   Some years ago I read an article about a man who had smoked most of his life which resulted in surgery  on his throat due to cancer .  A tracheotomy, which is an artificial breathing hole, was installed.   But did it stop him from doing the very thing that caused the need for radical surgery, not in your sweet bippy, he learned how to insert the weed into the trach.

My old garden tractor had a malady; each time I used it I had to get out the air compressor and fill the right front tire with air.   Now, I hate to admit it, but I did that for more than a year before I just plain got ticked off at that stupid tire.  But, was it the stupid tire or the stupid operator?  I tend to think it was the laziness of the operator.  I solved the problem, I got rid of the tractor.  Not because of the tire, but because it, like the operator, had run out of its vim  and vigor,

In my tenure as a counselor in a juvenile hall I wanted the boys to teach me. I often asked the repeat offenders, especially, those who had spent time in one of our better juvenile prisons, 'Why did you choose to go down the same road when you knew what was at the end of the road?'  I received many replies but none made much sense.

I think I heard someone say, "We are creatures of habit".  Paul wrote in his letter to his adopted spiritual son, Timothy, "Men will learn but not come to the knowledge of the truth".  The Plain People, the Amish, have a saying "Knowledge is the power of the mind, Wisdom is the power of the soul".  They also say, "It's what you learn after you know it all that counts."

 Notice Jeremiah's words, "For I know the plans that I have for you declares the Lord, Plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart".  (29:11-13)  Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6).

Soooo my lads and lassies, God's Word is filled with promises that are ours in Christ Jesus.  None is more pertinent for us as we walk this earth than this promise from Jesus,  "The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you." (John 14:26) 



Monday, October 8, 2012

Who Is In Charge?

"Now the word of the Lord came to me saying "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you".  (Jer. 1:4)

Hey Gang: The last two morning messages have focused on "Not becoming set in  our walk with the Lord.   Keep in mind that God is the Potter and we are the clay and our walk through this life is one of His hammering and sawing and making us into the image of His Son.

I recently listened to the woes of a young lady that is going through the "I wonder what path God would have me take?" syndrome.  Have you ever been there?  I certainly have.  When we were moving to Michigan and driving over the Rocky Mountains in a driving snow storm, I  wondered if I had listened to God. 

But one of the greatest lessons I learned, in those early days of learning, was 'Not to allow myself to become too comfortable.' God knows how to close doors.   Remember the story of the rich guy who went on a journey and gave three of his employees stipends?  He expected  the employees to put them to good use and make him a few bucks.  The first doubled his money, as did the second, but the third put his stipend in a bucket and hid it out in the barn yard. 

We know the end of that story - the rich guy was really bummed out.  Ya know, I think there are a lot of miserable people in our world who that are like that dude who put his stipend in a bucket and hid it in the barn yard when God had wired him for success in planting seeds for Him.

 Notice Jeremiah did not pick and choose who God had plans for.  Notice his words in 29:11-13: "For I know the plans that I have for you declares the Lord, Plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart". 

So much for the 'bucket in the barn yard'.  In my conversation with the young lady mentioned above, I detected a malady that seems to be prevalent in the 'I am waiting for God to move me' crowd - they have a longing in their heart to be something special in God's sight but just do not have a good understanding of Hebrews 11:1, "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." 

Sooooo,  let me share a word of caution that Solomon wrote in the Proverbs, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight."  (Pro. 3:5-6). Also, take heed of what Paul had to say about the dude with bucket,  "For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus" (Phil. 1:6).  But, you gotta pray and test the waters - until you find the niche God has for you..



Friday, October 5, 2012

Are You Sometimes a Chip Off The Old Block?

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made know to God" (Phil. 4:6)

Hey  Gang, Anyone out there, beside me, that picked up a trait or two which qualified you to be a "chip off the old block"?    I think I may be a wee bit like my daddy.  He had the unique ability to be able to take two pieces of junk and make it into one piece  that worked.   I have found, in my older years, that I, too, have some of those hidden traits.  But, I also notice that I picked up a trait or two from 'mine Papa' that requires some serious prevention practices.

I think I am more like my Momma.  Some ways not so good but in other I am willing to brag about.   If one were to describe the trait that made my Mom stand out, they would no doubt say she was a compulsive traveler.    It was once suggested, by a friend of the family, that when Cathy draws her last breath, she should be buried in her Corvair, which she loved dearly.

Yes, I am a traveler and will travel until I can no longer keep the vehicle within the lanes for which it was designed, but I also must admit that I also inherited a trait of my mom's that I wish she would have  been selfish and kept to herself.  She was hyper,  even bordering on driving herself and the rest of the family to the loony bin. 

As a child growing up  I vowed to never to allow myself be like my mom   I guarded against it all my life even though I choose two professions known for driving folks to the loony bin.   Air Traffic Control was not designed for the hyper-at-heart, nor was developing and being exulted  ruler of a facility that provided services to a whole barn-full of  unpredictable kids, who also had a tendency to be a wee bit loony at times.
There is a saying that misery loves company. I do not find that to be true.  When my anxiety level goes off the meter,  I want to keep it all to myself.   I have pondered a question, which runs through my computer banks each time my anxiety level hits tilt, and would ask you this morning;.  Is anxiety a lack of faith? Or is it a part of our natural bent? 

This I have learned in my seventy-nine years of traversing this life, there is a heap of folks out there who deal with anxiety problems most days of their lives.  As a matter of fact Luke suggested it would be a malady especially prevalent in the last days.  He wrote, "That men will faint from fear". (21:26)

Sooooo,  good friends, I have also learned that in dealing with anxiety is like dealing with a set of scales.  I tend to feel a little like Paul when he ask the Lord to remove the thorn in his flesh.  God said, "My grace is sufficient  for you, for power is perfected in weakness" (2 Cor. 12:9a).   When I feel anxiety is tipping the scales in the negative, I check my input meter and make sure my dependence is on the King of kings and Lord of lords,  and not on the person I see in the mirror.. 


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Don't Get To Comfortable (Continued)

"Just as you do not know the path of the wind and how bones are formed in the womb of the pregnant woman, so you do not know the activity of God who makes all things" (Ecc. 11:5)

Hey Gang, As Paul Harvey would say, "Now for the rest of the story". My question to God,  "You mean you want me to turn down this opportunity, sell our home, and prepare for up-dumping my family once again?"  I was not too sure I wanted to be obedient.  Oh, the thoughts had entered my mind that I would one day get out of the governmental system, for I learned very early  that the government's ways of dealing with hurting people only created deeper hurts in the lives of the little ones.

With four little ones under the age of ten I did not want to place them in jeopardy, not knowing what was ahead.   I also admit, at that time I was not too deep in my faith-walk with God.  So He sent me an object lesson to drive His point home.  It came in the form of a lad, whom I had cared for in the juvenile hall several times in my tenure at the facility.

He was fourteen years old, going on twenty five, and was viewed by most as having a heart of nails.  But I learned that there were two sides to  Dennis, one hard as nails when around the other kids whose hearts were also filled with nails, and the soft one I talked to in the quietness of his room.

One rainy night, which was very unusual for California at that time of the year, the police once again brought Dennis to the juvenile hall,only this time it was not a misdemeanor - he had stabbed a woman and took her life. 

In the following weeks, as we prepared for Dennis' trial, God did a number on yours truly; a number that surfaced a whole barn-full of feelings that I had not felt before.  In going through the case files from his previous visits I found common denominator - on every trip Denise had not only asked, but begged that he be sent to placement where people would love him and he could be part of a family.

One might say it was on that night that the Village was born.  That day I drove the 26 miles home without using the accelerator - the anger that was radiating through my body was sufficient power for the sports car.  I announced to the bride- of- my- youth  that it was time to stop going through the motions and do something that would give these hurting kids hope and a purpose for living, or for me to become a plumber's helper.
The trip across country, and the more than two year's preparation time, was a time that is almost beyond description; one time of testing followed closely by another time of testing.  Recall that after Jesus was baptized He went into the wilderness of Zin, to be tested by the devil. We have visited that location, as well as surviving our 'wilderness experiences".  We learned a lot about testing, while God prepared us for the of   years of trials and tribulations that would lie ahead.

Sooooo, those of you out there who are set in concrete, keep in mind that God says... "Don't get to comfortable for I have some very neat things for you to do."  l have asked the Lord why he choose me to develop the Village. Surely there were more intelligence, wiser people than I who would have done a better job.  His answer... "You were willing."

 My generation has made such a mess out of God's creation for which I am so ashamed. I believe it is time for us old ducks to get our rocking chairs and let the younger folks try and repair the mess we have made out of God perfect creation.



Monday, October 1, 2012

Don't Get To Comfortable

"Just as you do not know the path of the wind and how bones are formed in the womb of the pregnant woman, so you do not know the activity of God who makes all things" (Ecc. 11:5)

Hey Gang:  My brother was one unique dude.  When a little squeezer, barely old enough to walk, he saw an airplane fly over our house; at that time was very rare sight.  We were living in the Appalachian Mountains of Pennsylvania; some would say we lived so far back in the sticks that they had to pump sunshine to us and even the hoot-owls carried knapsacks.

The plane made such an impression on him that he made a decision, one day he would fly one of those things. He did  become a pilot and served our Country for 30 years.  The sight of the plane also built a fire of restlessness in his heart t which was not satisfied until my mother pinned his wings on him when, in the mid 40's,  he graduated and became a full-fledged 'flight jockey'.  For more than fifty years he never deviated from that very early decision to spend as much time in the sky as possible. 

But, my life was one of contrast to his.  I did not have a clue what God had in mind for me.  I floundered at everything I tried to do, barely making it through high school and flunking out of college three times.  The Dean called me in one day and said, "Son, at the rate you are going it will take you seventeen years to graduate.  I fooled him, I did it in twelve years.

After getting my first 'walking-papers' from college, I joined the Air Force and somehow, by the grace of God, I was chosen for Air Traffic Control School, one of the top career fields in the Air Force.  I  became a very good Air Traffic Controller.  When it came time for discharge I seriously considered re- upping and making it a career ....but God said... "Don't get to comfortable!"

After discharge I was accepted as a Federal Aviation Controller and, once again, worked my way up very rapidly in the system.  We were seriously considering purchasing a house and I would settle in to being an air traffic controller for the my working days,but God said... "Don't get to comfortable!".

When the government moved our center to Cleveland we felt God was saying it was time for the next step and I returned to college, this time graduating with a much better record.  On graduation day the Dean, who gave me my waking papers eight years earlier, was very proud that his seventeen year projection turned out to be only twelve years.

I thought that God had me programmed to go to California and earn my Master's. Seems I misread that message, too;  I ended up getting a doctors degree in practical training -  how to reach down deep into the hearts and souls of hurting children as a counselor in a  juvenile hall.  I was being considered to become the director of a brand new facility that would have moved me up several notches on the status and pay ladder.. "God once again said.. "Don't get to comfortable!"   

Soooo, the message I learned,  'what God has in mind for you may be totally different than the road you think you are to travel'. (But God doesn't waste any of His training!)     Jesus, in the sermon on the Mount,  gave us a far better plan than flying by the seat of our pants, "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you" (Matt. 7:7).