Friday, May 31, 2013

You Must be Kidding!

"If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free"  (John 8:31b-32).

Hey Gang:  How many out there know that God is being attacked in our education systems?  Each day we read, or hear, of ridiculous things such as kids being expelled for pointing their finger towards the stars or  closing their eyes prior to a test and seeking God’s power of recall. 

I ran across a very neat story, from my archives of yesteryear, that I think you will find interesting.  It centers on a teacher applicant's interview.  At the completion of the interview, the teacher prospect said, "Let me see if I've got this right: "You want me to go into a room with all those kids, correct their disruptive behavior, observe them for signs of abuse, monitor their dress habits, censor their T-shirt messages, and instill in them a love for learning?

You want me to check their backpacks for weapons, wage war on drugs and sexually transmitted diseases, and raise their sense of self esteem and personal pride.  You want me to teach them patriotism and good citizenship, sportsmanship and fair play, and how to register to vote, balance a checkbook, and apply for a job!

You want me to check each head or lice, recognize signs of antisocial behavior, and make sure that they all pass the state exams.

You want me to provide them with an equal education regardless of their handicaps, and communicate regularly with their parents by letter, telephone, newsletter, and report card.

You want me to do all this with a piece of chalk, a blackboard, a bulletin board, a few books, and a big smile, and a starting salary that qualifies me for food stamps.  "You want me to all this and then you tell me.....I CANT PRAY!"

A question was posed to a group of seniors who had completed their obligations for graduation and were awaiting the arrival of commencement.  The question: "Why are honesty and integrity key factors in success in our day and age?'  The answer that gained the top billing was as follows:

"When you are honest, your life and situations are far less complicated, it frees you up in a manner of speaking....When you are deceptive and lie you generally will have to tell other lies to cover the original, making you life much more complicated.  If you are asking for the Biblical definiti0on, it means that having the true knowledge of God will set you free, make your life easier, less complex, and gives you peace of mind."

Sooooo, young and aspiring warriors, let this old duck pass along a few words of wisdom that have worked pretty well for me.  My first advice is, ‘Be willing to do what others are not willing to do.’  If you place this adage at the top of your work criteria you will always be employed.  Second, ‘Be willing to work hard and with quality, even when the boss is out of the building.’  You will find justification for these two principles in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes and other places throughout the Word.  Have a good day.



Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Do You Think This Thing WIll Fly?

"Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; They will run and not get tired. They will walk and not become weary." (Isaiah 40:31)  

Hey Gang:  My assignment for the day was the ‘Tower’.  My normal assignment was the ‘Air Traffic Control Center’  in downtown Taegu, Korea.  So this was a neat diversion.  Normally I did not see the aircraft (only strips) that were under my control but this day was to be different and I relished the chance.

It was a very h0t and humid day, probably in the high nineties, and the aircraft were a wee bit sluggish about getting off the ground.  Many were using up our entire 14,000 foot runway which was very unusual for fighter-type aircraft. 

Since we were a training base for the Korean Air Force, we were blessed to have a squadron of P51's, by far my very favorite airplane.  We also had a transition squadron of F86's Sabre Jets, the airplane that controlled the skies over Korea during the war. 

As I mentioned, we were there to prepare the ROK Air Force to take over the skies and release the GI's to head for home. Because of the inexperience of the Korean pilots and the idiosyncrasies of the F 51, it was a very exciting place to be.  

In mid-afternoon the radio announced that one of the trainer pilots requested taxi instruction  in preparation for take-off.   Clearance was issued and he lined up on the end of the runway for take-off.  Keep in mind it was a very hot day, he had a whole load of fuel on board, and the aircraft he was flying was notorious for being a hog on take-off.  Even on days when the temperature hovered in the mid-ninety degrees, it used most of the runway to get off the ground.

The clearance was issued "Shinbone Target cleared for take-off".   At the nine thousand foot point on the runway it was still hovering below take off speed.  Ten thousand feet marker passed and we  all were getting a wee bit nervous.  And then the copilot came on the air and said to the pilot, "Hey George, do you think this thing will  fly?" Response, "We will soon find out.

  At the eleven thousand foot marker the T Bird lifted off, barely cleared the barrier at the end of the runway and skimmed the tree tops as it grasp for the heavenlies.  We all gave a sigh a sigh of relief.

I think of this story often.  It was my one and only experience as a tower operator and one of the joys of my life.  I think of it on those days when I just cannot get my wheels off the ground; when it seems I am walking through taffy;  when my prayers seem to fall off my lips and bounce off the ground.  And then I smile as I remember that T bird skimming over the trees.   And know my God will not forsake me!   I have learned - there are times when we just have to keep the power at full thrust and have the faith that God will do the lifting

I also learned that day that without full-bore thrust we probably will not get airborne.    Several aircraft aborted that day because they could not get the needed enthusiasm out of their engines to get into the heavenlies.  Something to think about.

Our thanks to all our military  past and present. Our family has many who have served to keep our country free, too numerous to name  - WWI to the present.  Uncles, Aunt, brothers, cousins,  nephews and extended family members. Pray for those who serve now, those recovering and the families they represent, and our Country daily.

                                                     Arlington cemetery at Night.



Monday, May 27, 2013

Are You An Encourager?

"Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing" (I Thess. 5:11).  "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 to those who hear" (Eph. 4:29).

Hey Gang:  One of the great joys, in my years as exulted ruler of Eagle Village, was the many opportunities I had to speak and share the Good News of what God was doing - not only in the lives of the children but also in the provisions that He provided.  I often look at the pictures from those very early days and believe with all my heart that the greatest miracle of all was the willingness of people to give from the heart to that young whipper-snapper to make a miracle come true.

I learned very early, in my tenure as a public speaker, that the first sentence out of my mouth was very important; it determined whether I would gain the attention of those I was speaking to or they would become clock watchers.   I do not recall much of what I said in those early formative days, before there were stories of success to share, and I am sure I bombed many times in holding the interest of the listeners

And then I ran into an old salt, who had been down the speaking trails for many years; het gave me a piece of advice that changed me from spouter of facts to a sharer of words from the heart.  He introduced me to the world of the endorphins.  You all know what an endorphin is, don't you?  In very simple terms it is a story that makes the adrenalin flow in your brain. 

In essence I began to tell stories obout people.  Some I knew personally, and some I collected their stories along the way.    In the next week or two I would like to share with you some of those very special people;  people that made an impact on my life directly or indirectly, people that have the unique ability to reach out to folks who needed a shirt tail to hang onto. I pray these people will make an impact on your life as well.

I find it interesting to note - I found that when we were in the up mode we were closer to the Lord than when we were in the down mode.  When we received the call to sell our house, quit our jobs and do as Abraham did - pack it and move! We did not have a clue what lay ahead at the end of the trip.  In our tenure as developers of the Village we had no less than a hundred people come to our door seeking advice in how to do the very thing that God did through us.  But, it seemed they only saw what God had done in the years prior to their coming and were not willing to pay the price to go through the wildernesses and deserts to get there.

Now for a truth:  In the very early years of development of the Village it was tough, even very tough.  We were raising money to build the buildings; we were in a constant growth mode with four programs in the development stage; and we were constantly up grading  staff training.  There were no luxuries, like days off or quitting at five and relaxing on the patio.  Children do not dysfunction within the frame work of eight to five on week days.

Soooo, what is point I am making here.   At each pitfall, when the alligators were about to have lunch, God sent someone across our path to take us by the hand and lead us to higher ground.   When asked what was the key to our early success, my response was "my six grandma's who placed a prayer- covering over me each and every day.



Friday, May 24, 2013

How About Another Drink of Cool, Clear Water?

"Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst, but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life." (John 4:14)

Hey Gang:  As we learned in the last Gramps Morningthoughts, everyone who traverses the deserts of our world learns quickly that water is the source of life.  Without it, life in the desert is always on the brink of death.  Plants and animals of the desert teach us about this.  Their ability to find and store water is the key ingredient to their survival.  

To pick up a desert plant is not a good idea for most have spiny leaves and tough surfaces which cuts evaporation.  The acacia tree, a thorn tree, a tree that grows in the most desolate places, is capable of sending roots down thirty feet to find water.

God also created desert animals to live with little water.  The camel, which many say is a horse designed and constructed by a committee, is an absolutely amazing animal.   The longest trek for a camel without water on record is 600 miles in 21 days.  Contrary to popular believe the hump of the camel is not a reservoir for water storage.  Water is stored in the corpuscles of the blood stream which can expand 240 times their original volume.When the camel drinks, after being without water for prolonged time, it is capable of drinking 400 pints which is immediately dispatched to the red corpuscles to replenish the water supply.

The Bedouins refer to dehydration as the silent killer.  It does not come quickly but rather creeps up on you.  Even the seemingly natural signs of thirst are not felt.  When in the desert, water is a matter of discipline.  Thirst is not a warning sign.

In the Scripture of the day Jesus is shares the good news that there are two kinds of water available to us.  There is the faucet type, that is readily available in modern society and is essential to life and well being, but Jesus is talking about a far different type of water - a spiritual life-sustaining water that comes only from Him. the need for living water
Spiritual thirst,(the lack of which is also a silent spiritual killer), is the dominating factor in the lives of all human beings.  It begins with a deep longing for something to fill that vacuum in our chest cavity that is just the size and shape of God.   We go through our lives seeking things that will satisfy that vacuum and yearnings of our heart. We often fill it with things that do not bring honor and glory to Abba Father.  Paul said, "I do the very things I hate," and "What a wretched man I am "Who will rescue me from the body of death?" (Romans 7:21-24) 

Soooo, my young colleagues, having spent time in the Arabah (desert) of Israel, I believe I gained a better understanding of what Jesus meant when he said to the Samaritan woman, "Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst, but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up top eternal life." (John 4: 13-14).

A sign of our entrance into the Promised Land is adequate spiritual nourishment that comes with our covenant relationship to God through Jesus Christ but to secure this we must dig a well deep enough to assure adequate water.  Keep in mind it takes two people to dig a well, one to dig and the other to haul the diggings away.  One last point before we close for this day, a well must be maintained consistently and constantly - to neglect the walls of the well is to see them collapse after a period of running the bucket up and down to claim the water.  Have you maintenanced your well today? Have you had a fresh drink of Living Water?



Wednesday, May 22, 2013

How About A Sip of Cool, Clear, Living Water?

"If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.  He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water" (John 7: 37b - 38).

Hey Gang, We have been privileged on several occasions to walk on the very ground where Jesus walked.  I do not know if you are aware of the fact that, to travel from Eilat, the southern most point in Israel, to Medima, the northern most point -where you can stand in Israel and look into the countries of Lebanon and Syria, requires a continual shedding or adding layers of clothing. 

An entomologist friend of mine related that one of the very unique things about  Israel, this tiny piece of turf about the size of New Jersey, is that within its boundaries you can grow everything that is grown throughout the world   One wonders how such a tiny country could become the focal point of the world’s attention.

It was also our privilege to get our hands dirty while in Israel. To get in a bus and ride from one historical or religious site to another was okay, but what we really wanted to do while there was leave our mark on the nation.  If we were to return to Israel today and travel to Ir Ovot, (now known as Tel Tamar or Tamar Biblical Park) we could walk around the kibbutz and see fruits of our labors.  It is the only place I have  ever worked where I felt good about taking two pieces of junk and making one piece of junk that worked!

Tel Tamar is located south of the Dead Sea and near the border of Jordan..  In other words it is in the Arabah or wilderness where the children of Israel spend forty years wondering. Jesus spent forty days in the Judean Wilderness preparing for the ministry to come. 

There are no conversations about the Araba or Negev of Israel that do not include the word ‘water’.  One did not look for gold, silver or other precious materials, but they did search for water - the staff of life.  For every ten people who worked with us in the fields, one was assigned to be a water-carrier and made their rounds every half hour to assure that all drank a cup of life- sustaining water while on the job..  Dehydration is called the silent killer in the desert.

The complaint of many was, "I am not thirsty, I do not need a lot of water".  That attitude is okay for Big Rapids or other places of moderate weather but not for the deserts of the world. 

The setting for the Scripture of the day is found in John Chapter seven.  Jesus is visiting with His disciples at the Feast of Tabernacles, also known as the Feast of Booths.  It was one of the very joyful celebrations of the year, much like a combination of Thanksgiving and Family Camp.  But in Palestine it was always hot in the fall when they celebrated this festive occasion. (Having been there on several occasions during this joyous time - HOT MEANS PRECISELY THAT  - HOT!!!.) 

In the midst of the Feast Jesus suddenly stood, and "…in a loud voice" probably shouted "Is anybody thirsty?"  I suspect that was a little like asking the asphalt crew who was laying the new highway when the temperature was above the century mark if they would like a sip on the water jug.

Soooo, most, probably did not have a clue what He was saying and were reaching for their water pouches.     As Paul Harvey would say, “Tune in tomorrow for the rest of the story". 



Monday, May 20, 2013

Trusting God in the Face of Impossibilies

"Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah's womb"  (Romans 4:19).

Hey Gang:  Wait, stop, re-read the above verse.  Can you imagine how Abraham and Sarah felt when they received the message from the throne room that they were going to be with bambino?  The essence of true faith is found in this single statement from God that Abraham was going to be a daddy! He would have a  son, one who would become the seed of many nations.

Remarkably, Abraham didn't flinch at this promise, even though he was well past the age of siring children.   But remember this was Abram, the one who received a message from the Lord to "Go forth from your country and from your relatives and from your father's house, to a land which I will show you" (Gen 12:1).     Hey, gang, how would you have handled this command from God?

Does God send out challenges like this today?  In 1967 I received a similar command from God.  Pack up your family, sell your house, quit your jobs and move your family to a place that I will show you.  And for the next two plus years God did a heap of preparation in my life for the tremendous challenge that was to come. 
When Abraham received this word from the Lord, we're told he "Considered his own body now, good as dead and the deadness of Sarah's womb. 

Paul now goes on and challenges our heart with trusting God in the face of impossibilities: "Being fully persuaded that what (God( has promised He was able also to perform" (Rom.4:21).  To the natural mind there was no way this promise could be fulfilled.  But Abraham did not cry out "You got to be kidding".  Why, because he had tested God and his life actions were based on experience.

Abraham was anchored on the words of the writers of Hebrews, who gave us the foundation key to all those listed in the Faith Hall of Fame:  "Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him" (Heb. 11:6).   James built on that irrevocable premise of God when he wrote, "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance" (James 1?2-3).  And if there is anything in the day of darkness and evilness that surrounds us, we need endurance.

Soooo, young warriors, let me end this message by saying, the fact is when God is at work producing a faith that is tried and better than gold, He first puts a sentence of death on all human resources,  Keep in mind Paul's formula for chance found in Colossians chapter three:  We must first die to self, then put off all those things that offend the Holy Spirit, then fill that void with the fruits of the spirit and all those things that bring honor and glory to God and lastly the most difficult part - we must let God be our pilot - not our co-pilot.  Also remember the Lord gives strength a day at a time.  We have no guarantees for tomorrow!



Friday, May 17, 2013

Are You A Rider or A Pusher?

 "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil" (Eph. 6:10-11).

Hey Gang:  I had an interesting thought pop into my head, when I was reviewing Jesus’ words in Matthew 24 pertaining to  what will be happening when the Father releases Him (Yeshua)  to return to earth. So, with your permission, I would like to do some ‘rambling’  this morning.

I had just read one of Joel Rosenberg's messages about the disastrous road our President is taking us on- as it relates to Israel. I had just  read Joel 3:2, which warns those nations that would turn their back on God's chosen land.  I believe we have seen Gal 6:7 fulfilled many times over in the many tragic events that have occurred close to those times when our leaders have demanded that Israel give away covenant land. Not sure that is fact?  Check out William Koenig's book Eye to Eye, where he lists more than 50 such tragedies.

But, then again, I suspect there is a deafness in our Nation’s Capital pertaining to the warnings that are oh, so clear.  I have just completed reading the Books of Kings and Chronicles again, and, as I read them, I wondered why the people who have the Bible available to them - the words of God, who created all we survey- refuse to even open the covers of the answers for each and every dilemma that faces our Nation. 

Kings and Chronicles consist of a chronological sequence of all the kings that have been on the thrones of Judah and Israel, since they cried out to Samuel, “We want a king just like everyone one else”.  One would think that since God honored that request, they would see the folly of man’s ability to rule.  God was certainly right on course when He told Samuel, “Tell the people your King/ human government will take and he will take and he will take”.  Have you checked the news lately? It seems to be filled with the new devices the government have come up with – “to take and take and take”.  

Why is this?  Why can those whom we think have the ability and are worthy to lead us not see that there is nothing new under the sun?  One does not have to be a brain surgeon to recognize that the mega laws and regulations are placing a strangle hold around our Nation which will not permit it to grow out of its tragic path to  the ‘cliff’ that has filled our news lately.     A verse that has become a daily cry from the depths of my heart are the words of Habakkuk, "How long, O Lord, will  I call for help, and You will not hear? (Hab. 1:1-5).   It is a section of Scripture that is worthy of your time

But getting back to the question, "What happens to people when they are elected to office?”  Do they lose their common sense when they cross the boundaries of the Belt Way?   Again, one night when pondering this question, God lead me to a very neat Scripture in Judges 9:8-15.  I have read that passage on other, even numerous occasions but it never stuck out in bold print before.  Again due to space and the fact that I worte about it last month, I will not quote it here and leave it up to you to see if God says to you the same as I think He said to me - "We have to many brambles in the Belt Way and not enough Olive Trees". 
But I also suspect there is even a deeper problem – God, through Solomon, makes it clear that wisdom is a gift from God and the beginning of wisdom comes from knowing the Lord as Lord and Savior.  Solomon made it pretty clear when he wrote, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge" (Pro. 1:7a).  Notice he following that with these words, "Fools despise wisdom and instruction" (v.7b).  I will leave that lay, but must admit I do have some strong feelings about Solomon's words.

Sooo, my friends, one might get the idea I am about ready to throw in the towel on this once great nation.  No, that is not the truth- for I do believe we have many committed prayer warriors in every corner of these United States.  But I believe many of those warriors have let their armor get rusty and no longer affective.  God gave us the key to restoration in 2 Chronicles 7:14: "Be humble before the Lord, pray diligently and put off those things that offend the Holy Spirit.”  "And let that begin with me".



Wednesday, May 15, 2013

There Has Not Arisen Anyone Greater!

 "Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist!  Yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he" (Matthew 11:11)

Hey Gang, Is that not a tremendous recommendation?  But, notice who said it - Jesus, the Son of God who takes away the sins of the world!   Unlike so many people, John the Baptist knew his mission in life. He clearly understood that he had been set apart by God for a purpose.

Through God's direction John the Baptist challenged people to prepare for the coming of the Messiah by turning away from sin and being baptized as a symbol of repentance.  He was just a beetle-eating weirdo, according to world standards, who wore animal skins and lived in the desert.  But- when he spoke, he was like E. F. Hutton, the world listened!!

People could not resist the overpowering truth of his words; they flocked by the hundreds to hear him and be baptized.  And, even though he became somewhat of a celebrity, he never lost focus - that his one and only mission was to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah.

So what was so uniquely different about this man?  I do not believe he had set out with the goal of being different from everyone else.  Although he was remarkably strange, he wasn't merely aiming at uniqueness. Rather, he targeted all of his efforts toward obedience.  Obviously, John hit the mark, as Jesus called him the greatest of men.

But notice, after Jesus had declared that "…among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist!",  He did not stop there. Jesus went on and made this profound statement: "Yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he".  Jesus also said to His disciples "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also, and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father" (John 14:12).
I confess I struggled with that verse for many years.  Really, Lord!  You mean this hillbilly kid that came from the wrong side of the tracks, who don't read so good, who seems to have a lock on doing the wrong things so many times can do greater things than You, the Lord of glory? And then one day, I read on and a light clicked in my head and heart,  "But 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" (Vs. 26). 
When I came to realize that God had a specific purpose for my life I was freed to move forward with confidence, fully trusting in the One who called us as He called John the Baptist.  Can there be any greater joy or fulfillment in this life than to know God's pleasure and reward awaits us in heaven?   
Sooooo, buckaroos, we live in that time that Paul labeled "perilous (tough) times".  The writer of Hebrews wrote, “Everything that can be shaken is going to be shaken so that those things that cannot be shaken will rise to the surface.  (Heb. 12:26-28).  Jesus said to Peter," Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat…"  (Lu. 22:31)   Have you been shifted lately?  But, He gave us His assurance that He will never leave us or forsake us when He finished this comment to Peter, "But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail" (v. 32).
Undoubtedly moments after his beheading John the Baptist must have heard his Master say, "Well done!".

Monday, May 13, 2013

Would You Listen to This Man?

"There came a man, sent from God, whose name was John.  He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him.  He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light" (John 1:6-8)
Hey Gang, What if you turned on your computer, your Ipod, your phone, or whatever electronic device you used to communicate with the world and the following ad appeared: "John, a very distinctive  prophet of God, will be conducting outdoor services and baptismal services at the local fair grounds for the next two weeks. John is known for his unusual flair for fashion, wearing wild-looking clothing made of camel's hair and a leather belt around his waist".  Would you cancel that very special day you had planned and go and hear what this weird (by world standards) prophet of God had to say?
“It is said that he resides in the desert wilderness of Death Valley and lives on locust and wild honey.  It is also said that he preaches a rather strange message of a coming Messiah.”  Would you go and listen to this man?  If so why?  I mean a guy who eats bugs and wears animal skins?  Are you serious? 
As a student at Altoona High School, back in the early seventies, we had a kind-of John the Baptist in our school.  He was called by various names, most were not very honoring.  Perhaps the most common was "Weird". He was known as ‘Happy Harry the weirdo from the other side of the tracks.’  He made his presence known long before you would see him; you see he was a very strong whistler. 
 Harry, too, had a very strange wardrobe.  His normal attire was a combination of clothing that made the local fashion designers throw-up.  Polka-dot shirts and striped pants were not unusual.  This was before the days of Goodwill but, I suspect if it were today, Happy Harry would purchase his cloths at the local second-hand store.   Now don't get me wrong, in this day when fashions have become very weird, in my estimation, we older folks do tend to hit the Goodwills on a regular basis to find threads from yesterday that are more to our liking.
Weird Harry was evaded by the youth from Nob Hill like the Black Plague until one day when one of their weekly booze parties ended up with the drowning of one of the young participants.  You see, one of the things that set Weird Harry apart, from those who thought that were super "cool", was that his whistling.  His whistling consisted of "hymns" and to enter into conversation with Weird Harry was to hear twenty or more reasons why one should follow Paul's words and “put off those things that offend the Holy Spirit.” (Col. 3).
One day, as I arrived at school, something was a buzz.  A tragic event had occurred at one of the Nob Hill gangs weekly bashes.  One of the ‘bells of the ball’ had fallen into the swimming pool and was too inebriated to get out and she drowned.  Suddenly weird Harry became someone that each one envied in their hearts but did not have the courage to follow his example. 
Sooooo, my friends and neighbors, if you should encounter a John the Baptist- a weird sort of chap, by world standards but dedicated to God, you might want to stop and listen to what he is saying.  You see his message is simple and clear," Repent, Jesus is the way, the truth and life" and it is only through Him that we can come into the presence of the Father.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Set Your Minds on Things Above

"For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit, For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace" (Romans 8:5-6).

Hey Gang:  I love the little words of the Bible.  I tend to think of them as trigger words- when one appears, we need to take heed that a very important truth will follow.  Bob Mumford, an old country preacher, often said, "When you come to a ‘therefore’, you best stick around until you find what is it "there for"!

In our work with families, the principles we wanted to get firmly implanted in the families hearts and minds were two fold: The Seed Planting principle (Don't be fooled, you will reap what you sow), and Paul's change process found in Colossians three.

In step one of Paul's four step process to a renewed mind he tells us we must "Die (to self) and our life hidden with Christ in God" (vs. 3).  Second, we must "put off" anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.  Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices." (vs. 8-9)

How many know that when you release a balloon full of air it tends to fly uncontrolled all over the place? Paul picks up on that principle when he said that you must fill the vacuum that has been created by the "put off's" and prevent the unclean spirit from returning with seven of his cousins. (Matt. 13:44-45, Hainley rendition).   The insurance package to prevent this: "Put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear each other’s burdens and have a heart of forgiveness,  just as the Lord forgave you and, beyond all these things, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity" (Vs. 12b-14).

The fourth principle, I might add the most difficult one, "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts and Let the word of Christ richly dwell with you."  (vs 15 - 16).  In other words, you must elevate God to the first seat in the aircraft - the pilot's seat - and be willing to be part of the crew that empties the trash cans and sweeps the aisles.

As I mentioned above, the Seed Planting Principles and Change Process were the anchor points of what we tried to implant in the hearts of the families; but there was always one or more parents who came back and said, "Mr. H. I tried what you taught us and it just did not work for my family.”  My response,  “Did you notice there is a prerequisites t to the change process?  Verse one of chapter three begins with two trigger words, "therefore" and "if".  

"Therefore, if you have been raised up with Christ, have set your minds on things above and your life is hidden with Christ in God and when Christ, who is our life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory."  (v. 1-4)

Soooo, friends and neighbors, when a parent would say, “Hey dude, it didn't work in my house!”, I would ask them  how long did you try and make it work?  Did you do any preparation work like reading Colossians three? How long did you try the old program?  The answers were usually the same, “One week”, No, I did not do any study on how to make it work”,  The old program? It is the only one I ever knew.    The point:  You can be a new creature in Christ Jesus by surrendering your life to Jesus and entering into covenant with Him and follow Paul's change process.



Wednesday, May 8, 2013

He Considered Not - Part Two

"Now the Lord said to Abram 'Go forth from your country, And from your relatives, And from your father's house to a land that I will show you.' (Gen.12:1).  “And Abram went forth as the Lord had spoken".  (12:4).  

Hey Gang:  I believe we could all agree that Abraham didn't stagger in his faith and he did not spend a great deal of time in the "considering not" column.  Rather, he was "Fully persuaded that, what (God) had promised, He was able also to perform" (Romans 4:21).  

And what do I mean "considering not"?  When God spoke to him with instructions, note in each case, the order was followed by "…he went forth as the Lord had spoken".   As I thought about the subject "considering not" I began to realize how very unique and special Abraham was.  When Moses was told to go to Egypt and confront his old boss, Pharaoh, he certainly did some lengthy, serious considering.  And Jonah was the ultimate example of one who "considered" and then followed with a very bad action plan.

The question: How serious is the Lord about our believing Him in the face of the impossible?  My wife has often said, if I told her to jump off a cliff she would do it because she had confidence I had a plan that would save her.  
We find an answer to the above question in the story of Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist.  Zacharias was visited by an angel who told him that his wife, Elizabeth, would give birth to a special child.  But Zacharias and Elizabeth, his bride, were advanced in years -as was Abraham and Sarah when they received news from an angel that they  were going to become parents.   Like Abraham, Zachariah  refused to believe it. In other words, God's promise alone was not enough for him.

Zacharias reply to the angel, "You have got to be kidding!"    "How will I know this or certain?" 

 Have you ever asked that question when God tells you to go and see the old crank next door and invite him to church?  Are you sure Lord, I mean - Wow.  I wonder how many ministries go by the board because the receiver of the vision is over awed and anchored on the "How will I know" question.  We do tend to forget that God opens doors, but He also has the power to close doors when we miss read the signs and head down the wrong road.  It is not our task to try and figure out what God's plan is for our lives-  but to follow in obedience to His command and "GO".

Zac's doubts did not cut it with the Lord.  The angel told him, "And behold, you shall  be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time." (Luke 1:20)

The message is clear, God expects us to believe Him when He speaks, even when it seems impossible.  I can say, without reservation, it was those times when, indeed,things seemed impossible that when victory comes, it is a true faith-builder for the next trip through Alligatorville. 

Soooo, my friends and neighbors, I need to include Peter's words before closing this.  He wrote, "Therefore, those who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right" (I Pet. 4:19).  

 I talked with a young lady recently who informed me she was waiting to see where the Lord would take her.  I informed her she would probably be waiting the next time I saw her and years beyond.  God does not tend to power the engines of those who stand waiting for the next movement of God to come and sweep them along- but does tell us to “Be Still and know that I am God.” (Ps 46:10) There is a difference in ‘waiting on God to move’ and ‘being still’ to hear his leading!!



Monday, May 6, 2013

He Considered Not

"Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness."  Now to one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due.  But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness" (Rom. 4:3-5).

Hey Gang:  I am blessed this morning.  O that does not mean my heart is not heavy because of what I see happening all around me that is tearing the very heart out of our country.  But, as I sat here in the quietness of my study I was able to see the sun peak through the trees and once again realized that God is so very faithful.  No matter how tough the day may be, if we take a moment or two and really look, we can find the wonders that only He (God)  can give to us.

I have just completed a review of the story of Abraham, who some say is responsible for a  goodly portion of the woes of our day and age.  He did listen to his bride, rather than God, and sired Ishmael - and we know the problems that decision has lead to.  (Gen 16:1-4). 

God did say "…you will have a son that will come forth from your own body" (15:4)?  Keep in mind that Sarah was dealing with a double whammy, to not be able to give your husband a son, in the Hebrew household, was indeed the absolute put down.  But add that God made a promise to Abram - He was going to give him a son, bone of his bone.  I suspect she saw Hagar as a way out of both of these dilemmas.  Was it best?  In no way! God said He will give them a son - Sarah just wanted to help God! . 

As most know, our grandson recently lost his two year battle with cancer.  Never before in my lifetime have I asked God "why" so many times.   I was talking with our pastor and mentioned I have a list of things I want to ask God when I see Him face to face, but he responded, “I believe when we come into His presence the list will not even be a remote thing in our minds.”  I tend to agree with him on that point.  And the more I think about that the more excited I get, for we will be washed clean of all the memories of the tough and disappointing experiences we were forced to endure while traversing this early existence.

In a recent morning message I mentioned that God placed a death sentence on placing our dependence on human resources.  Remember the change process that God introduced through Paul in Colossians 3? The first step, "we must die to self".    I am speaking here of the deadness of human possibilities, or being able to do things in our own strength.  I certainly tried that far too many times in my life and can tell you -it just does not work!

It is a place where man-made plans flourish at first, but like the seed planter parable, most seeds fail due to rocky, shallow, crowded or weedy soil, and soon die.  It is a place where human hopes bring temporary relief but soon crash, adding a sense of helplessness.   

Have you been at this place of deadness?  Has it seemed you have no options left?  It seems the heavens are like brass and, when you pray, your requests fall to the ground.?  I certainly have.

Sooooo, friends and neighbors, you might want to consider that this is God at work trying to move you from your comfort zone.  His Spirit is working to get you to stop considering the impossibilities - to stop looking to human ways and means - to stop trying to think your way out of your situations and “…die to self, go fishing, and let God! (Col 3:15-16)



Friday, May 3, 2013

Prime the Pump or Drink the Water? Your Choice

"But she said, "As the Lord your God lives, I have no bread, only a had full of flour in the bowl and a little oil in the jar, and behold, I am gathering a few sticks that I may go in and prepare for me and my son, that we may eat it and die" (I Kings 17:12).

Hey Gang:  Take a moment and do some reminiscing with me.  Can you remember a story, or illustration that passed through your brain cells ,stuck and has even influenced your actions since running into the story or illustration?

Somewhere along life's path I ran into the story of the pilot who was shot down and crashed somewhere in the desert.  Although not injured in the crash, his life was definitely in peril.  He knew he was in deep trouble when he took the last drink from his canteen and it registered empty.  He knew he had about three days before dehydration would zap his body of sufficient liquids to keep him alive and he knew his time was running out very rapidly.

On the third day, as the sun began to set, he had resolved himself to the fact that he was probably not going to survive the night when he noticed a hut on top of a nearby hilltop.   Nearly totally exhausted, but yet very curious, he mustered up what strength was left in his body and climbed the hill to see what was in the hut.
Inside the hut was a water pump and a jar of water with a note attached to it.  It simply said, do not drink this water, pour it into the pump to prime the pump so that you can leave the jar full for the next sojourner who may pass this way.  Now, I ask you, what would you have done?

The Bible is filled with very powerful statements. I have found none more powerful than the many times Jesus said to those He healed, "Your faith has made you whole".  In I Kings 17 we find a similar story to the one mentioned above.    The widow had only enough food to make one more meal before she and her son would die of starvation. Along comes Elijah asking her to bake that final meal for him!  One might get the idea that Elijah was pretty selfish, but, we also know from our sojourns through God’s word, pre-requisites are often the determining factor to receiving God's blessing.

Elijah said "Don't fear, go, do as you have said, but make me a little bread cake from what you have left  and bring it to me." (Vs. 13).  Notice her response knowing this could be her last meal as well as her sons.  "So, she went and did according to the word of Elijah"(Vs. 15).

Soooo, friends and neighbors, did you take a moment I suggested to think back to something, a story or illustration that has been a driving force in your lives?  There is a saying, "If you want the world to be a better place, then leave it better than you found it".     If your plane crashed in the desert, would you gamble with your life by priming the pump? Or would you gulp the water down and let the next guy fend for himself?