Monday, June 30, 2014

In Times Like These...

“Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68).

 Hey Gang, Gma here again.  You have read the last couple mornings about the 'foundations' in peril. The day after I prepared these for the ‘blog’, my devotional hymn was this one – the words so very fitting for today.
“Wars, earthquakes, famines, drugs, child abuse, humanism, the occult, New Age…..

    When world events and ideologies like these seem ominous and unsettling to us or when personal sorrows or tragedies confront us, where can we go but to the Lord?  How comforting it is to know we can always flee to him and rest securely on our ‘Solid Rock’.  During the fearful days at the height of WW II, when the stress and strain of daily living seemed almost overwhelming, the comforting hymn “In Times Like These “ was written.  In the midst of a busy day as a housewife, Ruth Caye Jones felt a direct inspiration from the Holy Spirit.  She stopped her work to quickly put down both words and music just as they were given to her by God.

Since that day the hymn has been a blessing to countless Christians at special times of need.  It has brought comfort during illness, has been used widely at funerals, has encouraged and challenged Christian workers, and has drawn many to salvation.  Mrs. Jones experiences for herself the consolation the words of the song could bring as she spent time recovering from serious surgery a few years after this was written.

The Scriptures warn that world conditions will continue to get worse as we approach the end of this age and the return of Christ.  In addition, we must prepare ourselves for the difficulty times that come to everyone as life progresses.  We can only remain firm when we know with conviction that our God is in control and that all things are working out for our ultimate good.  In the meantime, we simply grip the “Solid Rock” these words tell us:

In times like these, you need a Savior; in times like these you need an anchor; be very sure, be very sure your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock.
In times like these you need the Bible; In times like these O be not idle; be very sure, be very sure your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock.
In times like these I have an Savior; in times like these I have an anchor; I’m very sure, I’m very sure my anchor holds abd grips the Solid Rock!
Refrain: This Rock is Jesus, yes, He’s the one; This Rock is Jesus, the only One! Be very sure, be very sure your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

SOOO, our young and not so young friends, whatever difficulties, anxieties may surround you just now, be certain that you are anchored in the ROCK Christ Jesus. He, the God Head, is the only secure help.  His promises are yes and amen.  He is faithful to His word and us.



Friday, June 27, 2014

If The Foundations Are Destroyed, What Can the Righteous Do? Part 3

"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon  you for your  testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share  the sufferings  of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation or His glory you may rejoice with exultation" (I Peter 4:12-13).

Hey Gang:  Would you like to know something that I have discovered in my eighty years of listening to sermons?  Very few are focused on what is to come in these last days.  I wonder why?  Jesus said, ‘ I do not want you to be unaware of what is coming down".  And notice, in the following verse, Paul also said "For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all at the same spiritual food" (I Cor. 10:1-3).

Paul also wrote, "In addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all he flaming arrows of the evil one" (Eph. 6:16)).  And what is the shield of faith?-The Word, time in your prayer closet, and following the precepts, commandments and statues of the Lord.

How many out there believe that God cannot pull anything out of you that you do not put in?  In our parenting classes one of the first principles we taught was – “We all must develop knobs in our head on which to hang knowledge.”.  I have learned, in my tenure as teacher and counselor, that most folks who come to me have only smooth spots inside of their heads ,  therefore nothing sticks.  You know, like reading a portion of Scripture and can't remember what you just read.  Probably no knob to hang it on.   

So, why do we need knobs filled with the Word and experiences of when we have been overcomers? Because when the enemy comes in like a flood or a fury of flaming rage, there may not be time to be like the foolish virgins and go and fill your lamp.  Again we turn to our friend Isaiah for a promise, "No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; And every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn, This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, And their vindication is from Me," declares the Lord" (Isa. 54:17.

Sooooo,  One does not have to be a brain surgeon or rocket scientist to know we are in very perilous times.  The prophecies given to Daniel, to lock up until latter times, are suddenly become very visible.  We find many warnings throughout the Word that in the last times people are going to buy into some real garbage!  Jesus said, “Careful, don't be deceived."

Paul's insurance against being led down the Prime Rose Path -  "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might" (Eph. 6:10). James put the dot at the end of the sentence, "Submit therefore to God.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you." (James 4:7).  Keep in mind we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but again slue foot and all his buddies.  So, Paul says -keep the armor in place! 



Wednesday, June 25, 2014

If the Foundations Are Destroyed, What Can the Righteous Do? part 2

"Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, For my soul takes refuge in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge until destruction passes by.  I will cry to God Most High, To God who accomplishes all things for me.  He will send from heaven and save me; He reproaches him who tramples upon me.  God will send forth His lovingkindness and His truth"
 (Psa. 57:1-3). 

Hey Gang:  is this not a terrific verse to begin this day with?   As I have read the Psalms I have been drawn to the word "refuge" and the phrase "under His wings".  Strong's tells me there are eighteen references to God being our refuge in Psalms and six references to the "shadow of God's wings".   
The following verse comes from a chapter that is titled "The Thirsting Soul Satisfied in God".  It is a Psalm of David, probably penned when David was in the wilderness of Judah: "When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches, For You have been my help, And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy.  My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me." (Psa. 63:6-8).  Wow, is that not a power verse?

As the times become more unsettled and perilous times increase we need to prepare to quench the fiery darts of Satan.  Again we turn to Paul for counsel on how we can be assured that our protective devices are in place and strong.  Step one in his action plan: "In addition to all, taking up shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one" (Eph. 6:16).

And his second step in his action plan: "Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil;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 (Eph. 6:11-12).

We turn to Psalms once again to find out the why's and wherefores for the need for preparing our shields for warfare against the enemy: "For, behold, the wicked bend the bow, They make ready their arrow upon the string to shoot in darkness at the upright in heart" (Psa. 11:2).

Hey folks, let this old codger give you a wee bit of warning-  we may think that we are sufficiently covered and do not need to spend time alone in our prayer closets and additional time keeping our armor up to speed, but no matter how long you have walked with Christ, you will face Satan's fiery arrows.  As a matter of fact I can attest from many years of warfare with the evil one, the closer your walk with the Lord the sharper his darts!

Soooo, my good friends and neighbors, A cautionary note:  At times you may think you are the only one under such attack.  Satan does not discriminate; he attacks every saint of God -full bore- waiting for that opportune time to enter your house with his cousins.  Keep in mind that God is our only refuge and strength and the only safety zone is safely tucked up and 'under His wings'

Don't forget to stop and smell a posy or two in route from one business stop to another.  



Monday, June 23, 2014

If the Nations are Destroyed, What Can the Righteousness Do? Part One

"Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, For my soul takes refuge in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge until destruction passes by.  I will cry to God Most High, To God who accomplishes all things for me.  He will send from heaven and save me; He reproaches him who tramples upon me.  God will send forth His lovingkindness and His truth" (Psa. 57:1-3).

Hey Gang:   Does anyone out there believe as I, that the foundations of this once great nation are being attacked at its very roots?   The local news lays out a depressing scenario that sounds much like 2 Timothy 3.    Paul set this Scripture in cement when he wrote, "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work".  (vs. 16-17).

I wonder if Paul knew, when he penned these words, that many would look into the mirror and say, "O, common Paul, I ain't too bad.  Have you looked at my neighbor down the street?  He makes me look like a saint. 

 I am one who has invested his life in trying to convince the younger generation there is a better way to live their lives and that way centers on Jesus being the Lord and King of their lives.  And so I have spent a good portion of my life seeking ways to get inside the hearts of the young folks showing them there are much greater things in this world than the bangles and beads that soon lose their luster and, like the grass, fad away.

So let me share some Scriptures that I have found in bold print in my Bible during those times when the alligators were up to my armpits.  You might want to pin them up on your bathroom mirror because I can guarantee you will feel Satan has his green monsters in his shop sharpening their teeth.

Point One:  If you have confessed Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you need never fear the wrath of God.  Those in Christ are ever sheltered by the blood of Christ.  Paul gives us a warning in his letter to the Romans, "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness" (Rom. 1:18).  John gives us the antidote to that warning "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." (John 3:36))

Point Two:  Isaiah assures us that God has provided a hiding place for His children during just such times when alligators are snapping at our heels:  "Come, my people, enter into your rooms and close your doors behind you; Hide for a little while until indignation runs its course.  For behold, the Lord is about to come out from His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; And the earth will reveal her bloodshed and will no longer cover her slain" (Isa. 26:20-21).

Point 3.  Isaiah also gave us the assurance we can find a place of comfort and composure during volatile times of His wrath:  "The steadfast of mind You will keep in -perfect peace, Because he trust in You" (Isa. 26:3).

Soooo, young warriors, that gives you enough to chew on this day.  There is no question we are in that time referred to by Paul as "perilous times".    We need to make sure our armor is firmly in place, spit polished, and sword sharpened, for the evil one knows his days a very short in number and is running to and fro across our country seeking those he can devour.



Friday, June 20, 2014

Are You Aware of the Spiritual Needs of Those Around You?

Scripture: “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.”  II Cor 6:2

Hey Gang, Gma writing today.  Those who know me well, know that I have a deep appreciation for the old hymns, which we don’t hear much in churches any more.  I remember singing in church one day and Jeremy asking if I knew all the verses of all the Hymns.  My response, of course, was ‘Not at all, but I do know a lot!’

Often, as part of my devotions, I read from a book titled, Amazing Grace, 365 Hymn Story Devotional.  While reading today’s Devotional the Lord seemed to say, ‘Share this with the Blog family”.  I think it was the words calling to the lost that got my attention. Here is the writing that prodded my heart to write to you:

      "Many powerful Gospel songs were written, after the Civil War, urging people to respond to        Christ’s invitation to salvation. “Let Jesus Come Into Your Heart,” written and composed by Mrs.    Leila Morris has been one of these invitation hymns widely used by God to direct seeking sinners to a  personal salvation experience.  Its origin in 1898 was at a Camp meeting at Mountain Lake Park,  Maryland. A woman of refinement and culture responded to the altar call invitation.  Mrs. Morris  joined her there and with an arm around her shoulders whispered “Just now your doubtings give  o’re.”  The song leader of the Camp meeting joined the duo and added, “Just now reject Him no  more.”  Then the evangelist earnestly importuned, “Just now throw open the door.”  Mrs. Morris made  the last appeal, “Let Jesus come into your heart.” Shortly thereafter Mrs. Morris completed the thought  and added the music before the Meetings closed.  Another song was born to guide countless numbers  of inquiring souls to Jesus Christ."
                If you tired of the load of your sin, let Jesus come into your heart; If you desire a new life to begin, let Jesus come into your heart.
                If ‘tis for purity not that you sigh, let Jesus come into your heart; fountains for cleansing are flowing near-by, let Jesus come into your heart.
                If you would join the glad songs of the blest, let Jesus come into your heart; if you would enter the mansions of rest, let Jesus come into your heart.
                Refrain – Just now, your doubting give o’re; just now, reject him no more; just now, throw open the door, let Jesus come into your heart.

SOOO dear Ones, Listen to the author's challenge: Be sensitive to the spiritual needs of those around you. Often you will be able to detect signs of a struggling soul searching for God. With gracious boldness share with such a one the message of this song.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Are There Really Miracles?

" Then God said, "Behold, I am going to make a covenant, Before all your people I will perform miracles which have not been produced in all the earth nor among any of the nations, and the people among whom you live will see the working of the Lord".  (Exodus 34:10).

Hey Gang:  We have made no bones about it, we love Israel and one of the joys of our heart is reminiscing about our days spent in the land of "milk and honey".   We have been truly blessed for we have had the opportunity to get our hands dirty helping to restore a Kibbutz in the Arabah, work in the rose garden at the Knesset, help to establish a dental clinic that provides dental care for Arab and Jewish children alike.

When we  arrived at Ir Ovot on our first trip, 56 people with full bladders from the bus trip from Jerusalem, it was discovered that the sewer line from the only out house facility had been severed and  clogged.   You guessed it, the exalted leader of our group turned to me and handed me a shovel.  Need I say more?  After locating the clog and digging for an hour or so, a new piece was installed and the bladder problems solved.  

We were blessed to take two pieces of junk and make it into one piece of junk that works.  When you are in the desert things like lumber yards and hardware stores are as hard to find as "hen's teeth" so you take what is available and make it work.  Not only are shops hard to find but one has to have a calendar to know when they might be open.  On one work assignment our task was to install a water line to water the tomato crop.  Finding the needed pipes and valves was no problem but finding bolts to connect the pipes to the valves was an entirely different thing.

We spent several days going from one Moshov, (farming community) to another trying to find the seventeen bolts needed to complete the task.  Three here, one there, two more over there; the maximum we found at one place was three.

Several years ago we found a wonderful set of Dvd's titled "Against All Odds"; it is a series of true stories about the survival of Israel.  The writer /narrator was assigned the task of finding if there really were miracles that occurred in Israel that saved them from annihilation.  The researcher, a reporter from Chicago by the name of Greenspan was a non-believer at the time, but his findings opened His eyes to the truth that God loves Israel.

One comment made by Greenspan that caught my ear was, "Miracles happen but we need to be aware of them".  That comment hit my hot button.  Do we not tend to ignore the multitude of miracles that God gives us each day?  A bird just flew my window, not an unusual event, they fly by frequently.  I wonder where they are going.  Do they know?  Yes, they seem to know.  We are preparing to plant tiny seeds in dirt and see them grow into beautiful vegetables.  Is that not a miracle?  Oh,, I could go on and fill many pages on the wondrous things that God gives to us for our pleasure.

Sooooo.  my friends, but, is there any greater miracle than to see a person who does not know Christ as Savior come to Christ an see their lives miraculously changed?   Is there any greater miracle than to see a Frank Constantino who, while in a prison cell had a visitation from God and his life was instantly changed, become a powerful evangelist?  Not only are we surrounded by miracles, but it is God's desire to make each of us a miracle worker.  Our world is filled with hurting and lost people and for many the only Bible they will see is YOU.       So "GO" and make the angels of heaven rejoice!  



Monday, June 16, 2014

Have You Thought About Tomorrow?

"Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.  And he rain fell, the floods came, and he winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.  "Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his h9use on the sand.  The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell - and great was the fall"   (Matt. 7:24-27).

Hey Gang:  Solomon, the second wisest man to walk this earth wrote this warning to us, "The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty" (Proverbs 22:3).  This is not designed to give you the hebby-jebees but to remind you that we have always had economic booms, busts, panics, bubbles and crises with us and there are predictions coming from all fronts that we are nearing a major catastrophic breakdown in our economy.

One does not have to be a rocket scientist to know if you spend hundreds and thousands of dollars you do not have it will not be long until the bill collectors and long strong arm of the law will be standing on your doorstep.  Now multiply that by an entity the size of our government and you come up with a seventeen-trillion dollar debt that is climbing by billions by the day. 

Now add to that seven to twelve or as many are saying, fifteen to seventeen percent unemployment, and more than half of the citizens of this once great and very solvent country on food stamps and, if you are objective, in even a small way, you must realize "we are spending more time rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic than trying to fix the problem.    

If I were sitting in the oval office the first thing I would do is draft an order to the people of this country, as Ronald Reagan did in his two inaugural speeches and challenge them with God's words found in 2 Chronicles 7:14, "If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land". 

I would then do some research to find out what some of the Presidents, who were blessed with good common sense, did when confronted with such dilemmas.    I would than carefully choose people from the around the nation who were successful, who had what God required in His leaders: "First he must be beyond reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle , peaceable, and free from the love of money, and power (Hainley addition)" (I Tim. 2:2).  I wonder how many who sit in the nation’s power seats can pass this muster?

Soooo.  my fine young friends and neighbors, In the morning Scripture we see two very diverse attitudes - the built on sand folks, and the build on solid ground folks.  Due to the many ways we can hide our problems, in most cases they all look alike. But when the rubber-hits-the-road the rock and sand builders suddenly come to the surface.

I believe the parable of the ten virgins is a warning to the rock builders - our government has been our worst enemy, for we have subsidized the sand builders these many years and they are totally unprepared for the crisis that is to come. You can take it to the bank, if there are any banks open, they, the sand builders, will be on your doorstep asking you to do as the government has done for them and give them your oil for their lamps.



Friday, June 13, 2014

Why Do You Do That?

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and he Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."  (Matthew 28:20-21).

Hey Gang, We spent over a month In Bartlesville, Oklahoma, volunteering at The Voice of Martyrs, a ministry to the persecuted believers around the world.  When I tell people , especially those in my age bracket, what we do for those weeks, forty hours a week  on cement floors, their question is always the same, "why and how much".  Why do you put your eighty year old body through that?  How much do you make for the agony and pain you put your body through?

The answer is very simple, because God directed me and my bride to do this!  Jesus said, "Go into all the world and spread the God News that Jesus is Lord”.  Oh, how the world needs to hear that message today.  And how do I go into all the world while working preparing mailings? Those mailings go all over the world and I handle each one and I can bless each receiver of the materials.  Where else can you lay your hands on over 600,000 pieces of mail and bless others as they are prepared to take the message to the world that Jesus is Lord.

But there are other reasons why we trudge to Bartlesville to place our bodies in a pressure cooker.  In my travels I came across the following tid- bit from Chuck Swindoll that rang my bell, and every retired person should take it to take to heart:

"A physician friend of mine in Fullerton was treating a woman in her eighties who was in fairly good health.  She either walked very fast or jogged every day.  He became quite concerned about her, even though her health was good, and he warned her about exerting herself.  She heeded his advice and ceased most of her activity.  Several months later he sat in the funeral parlor, attending her memorial service.  Later he said to me, “You know, Chuck, I could cut my tongue out for ever having told her to be careful, to stop exerting herself.  I doubt that I will ever give that advice again…especially to older people who are enjoying life as much as she was"

My prayer as we approached our departure time for Bartlesville was ‘Lord give me the strength to complete the task that I believe you would have me do.’  Paul did say, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Phil. 4:13); and "My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:19) including the strength to complete whatever tasks He sends my way. 

Preparing mailings is the thing that brought us to Bartlesville but we learned, in our very first trip some six years ago, He had other things in mind for us.  We soon found ourselves reaching out to, encouraging and even doing some teaching to the young staff that is part of the VOM family.  We have been privileged to teach Sunday School classes and host many people in our apartment sharing some the things God has taught us throughout our lifetime.

Soooo, what I am trying to say here?  When serving as Chaplain at the Village, I used to ask the boys what is the most important word in the Bible. Love, peace, and joy were common responses; all good solid words but the one I was looking for was the one word that determines where we will spend eternity, the word "NOT".  One day we will be faced with the statement, “I know you or I know you, NOT”  (Read Matthew 25:31-46).

June 14  Flag day



Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Are You A New Creature In Christ Jesus?

"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; all things are become new." (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Hey Gang:  As a young lad growing up in the hills of Pennsylvania we were challenged to do something to aid in the war effort.  World War II was the focus of everyone in those days and we wanted to do our part.  So we spent a day a month searching throughout the hillsides and along the road ways for milkweeds that could be used to make rubber.

Now, if you know anything about milkweeds, you probably know that caterpillars love milkweeds and often attach their chrysalis (cocoon) to it.   We often collected one and put in a glass jar that had a lid with air holes, with a short stick and milkweed leaves for food. The stage was set and each day we would watch one of the wonders of God's creation - metamorphosis take place.

Watching the caterpillar was like watching a tug of war between two great warriors but the tug of war was God's design to place strength in the wings of the butterfly that would enable it to fly.  I recall one time, when we made the mistake of helping the caterpillar escape, only to see it lamely fly for a moment or two, then drop to the ground and die.

In our work with human caterpillars who are struggling to escape the cocoon that holds them captive, we learned there is a time to help them, but there is a time to make them fight their way out of the cocoon that holds them captive.

As I thought about this story, a sad memory surfaced in my heart and mind.  I had a very good friend who was blessed with a wonderful mom but she was his own worst enemy.  I remember one morning when I arrived at his house a little early and his mom had him standing on chair while she washed his face, put his clothes on, tied his shoes, combed his hair and lifted him down from the chair as she would handle a dozen of eggs.  He was never allowed to fall and feel the victory of getting up and putting one foot in front of the other.  And, on the day he went off to college he was totally unprepared for living in the real world; he came apart mentally.

The point, the caterpillar has no choice in metamorphosis, but man must choose to be changed.  To become a Christian, we must experience death to the carnal man, so that "Like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:4).

When the new creature crawls out of the cocoon it has been transformed into something beautiful not at all resembling its former self.  The butterfly uses its lovely wings to fly from flower to flower, drinking and adding beauty to the environment.  It is no longer attracted to the milkweed leaves for feeding.

In the same way, our spiritual feeding habits should clearly change when we become Christians.  Instead of filling ourselves with 'weeds' we should feast on the 'nectar' of God's Word.

Soooo, what does your diet consist of?  Are you feeding on milkweed or nectar?  Isaiah gave us the key to success for breaking free from the cocoons of life that hold us in bondage.  "Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread?  And your labor for that which satisfies not?  Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good" (Isaiah 55:2).



Monday, June 9, 2014

The Church In the Wildwood

"The heavens will praise Your wonders, O Lord; Your faithfulness also in the assembly of the holy ones.  For who in the skies is comparable to the Lord? Who among the sons of the mighty is like the Lord" (Ps. 89:5-6).

Hey Gang. Did you ever walk into a place or arrive at a place where you are totally comfortable?  Now, I confess that does not happen very often, but on our trips to Israel when we set down at the Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, a peace comes over me that certainly surpasses my understanding.  In Israel the air raid sirens may rage but in your heart you know the King of kings is looking down on His Chosen Land, the apple of his eye, and what better place to be launched into the heavenlies than from the sacred turf that is Israel!  

But there is second place where I feel totally at ease and comfort reigns in my soul, it is  the church we attend when we are in Bartlesville, Oklahoma.   When I am there I think of the words of an old hymn that was one of my mother’s favorites "The Little Church in the Wildwood". 

The words are very simple and the melody easy to sing.  I like hymns like that.  I miss the old power hymns that seemed to bring fire into the sanctuary, as voices are raised in worship and praise to our Lord.  Some of my favorites include "How firm a Foundation, ye saints of the Lord", and "Lead Me to Calvary", where I proclaim to crown Thee King of my life".  How about "When the Roll is Called Up Yonder"?  When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound and time shall be no more, and “What A Day” that will be when we shall see  Jesus face to face.  Does that warm the cockles of your heart?   

Each one carries a message with eternal value.  "At Calvary" gives us the truth that Christ died for you and me and would have done so if we were the only one on earth.  “Under His Wings” give us the assurance that He will never leave us or forsake us and is our refuge and strength.  Two that my Dad often sang flawlessly, even after he was plagued with Alzheimer's, are "In the Garden" where the battle of the cross was waged and won by our Lord, and "The Old Rugged Cross", whose author lived in Reed City.  

When I hear the choir in Bartlesville sharing their message of song, it takes me back to my younger years when I was privileged to be a part of our church choir. Oh, yes, there is one more thing that makes me feel warm and comfortable, the church is like the churches of old, a beautiful sanctuary. This is the earliest of three services and is called the "Vintage Church".  I think they refer to that because the ‘older than dirt crowd’ hangs out there.   

Sooo, now one might get the idea I am putting down contemporary music, which is not the case.  I was raised on the more traditional hymns in a sanctuary that was for worship and designed for worship only.  The contemporary crowd is covered with a contemporary service in the gymnasium.  But I like the Church in the Wildwood theme in the Vintage Church where we old ducks feel more comfortable.

Now, take a moment or two and sing a verse of The Church in the Wildwood with me.  It will open your pores and make your heart beat faster and surface many memories. 

                                         There's a church in the valley by the wildwood,
                                                       No lovelier place in the dale,
                                              No spot is so dear to my childhood,
                                            As the little brown church in the dale. 



Friday, June 6, 2014

The Tongue Is Fire Waiting To Erupt

"The tongue is a deadly arrow; It speaks deceit; With his mouth one speaks peace to his neighbor, But inwardly he sets an ambush for him" (Jer. 9:8).

Hey Gang:  We have been truly blessed for the past several weeks.  We were at a facility that did not have cable or national news.  Wow! That was invigorating.  My blood pressure went down, my depression level was reduced and I even looked forward to getting up in the morning.  But we know that all good things have to come to an end and they abruptly did.  But did you know the same issues were still holding the news media in bondage and taking air space as when we left.  Some might say things are really not getting worse or getting better for that - I choose to differ.

But let’s leave that issue lay for today and look at another problem that seems to be out of control and growing more every each day.  I happened to turn the sports news on to find out who was on first.  For more than half an hour the hosts spewed forth venom about this person or that.  After tiring of that I turned to another sports show only to find the format was much the same.   

So I gave up on the news media and got out one of my very favorite movies about two of my very favorite old time actors, John Wayne and Kathryn Hepburn.    Are there any Rooster Cogburn fans out there? 

Now Rooster had two very serious problems; one, he liked to take frequent nips on his jug, which loosened his tongue and secondly, he had Kathryn Hepburn, a missionary traveling with him as his conscience.  Once when he was unusually boisterous, she related the following ditty to him: "A wise old owl lived in an Oak; the more he saw the less he spoke:  the less spoke the more he heard, why can't we be like that wise old bird?"

There is an old Dutch adage that says the same think in a different way; "It is best to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt".

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 put it this way, "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).

Solomon, the second wisest man to walk this earth wrote, "Words from the mouth of a wise man are gracious, while the lips of a fool consume him" (Ecc. 10:12).

S0000 my young friends, what words will you utter today?  Will they be words that bring honor and glory to your heavenly Father??  As the old hillbilly once said, "Choose your words wisely, for you may have to eat them."   Gee, I think I might have been that old Hillbilly!   Now hear this, Ya all have a good day

Blessings to you, written earlier from Bradenton, Florida.


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Integrity! What Is That?

“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:  How sad that it has become so common to hear, "Another warrior for Christ has fallen". Yesterday, as I traversed the day, the thought of why things happen or why we allow them to happen when we know, if the transgression is found-  and we can take it to the bank that it will be found out- what it will do to those who have trust in us.  I believe with all my heart the things that grieves Father God most is when one of His faithful warriors succumbs to the  offerings of the evil one. 

 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 and break down in the law and order to present.’      
 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, so now we need to see what moral means. Again, according to the dictionary moral means "capable of making the distinction between, right and wrong in conduct." That's man's definition, but what about God's?

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 role model 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.

Soooo, The point that I believe God was driving home into the depths of my heart today is: if someone has integrity, you can count on them in whatever situation. Why? Not because they'll do what you want, but they'll do what is right, no matter what the cost. 



Monday, June 2, 2014

Are You WIlling?

"Righteousness exults a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people" (Proverbs 14:34). 

Hey Gang:  Jacques Auguste de Thou wrote, "After what I owe to God, nothing should be more dear or more sacred to me than the love and respect I owe to my country."  We have just celebrated Memorial Week.  Each morning, as I enter my closet for morning devotions, I see Old Glory hanging from the corner of our deck.  I want you to know something about me, I am a softie when it comes to my country and my flag.  I am eighty years young but now and the tears still flow when I see the flag and hear the Star Spangle Banner.

I am blessed to come from a family that loved their country and were willing to lay down their lives for it.  My three brothers also served to protect our liberties, four uncles and an aunt who served in World War II.  My aunt was an army nurse who was in the first brigade to enter Japan at the end of the war;  her husband fought in the Battle of the Bulge.  My wife also has family who have served, and an uncle who had several tanks blown out from under him and was also in the Battle of Bulge. 

When I think of these brave warriors, I feel a pride deep in my soul.  Today, I am not sure which feeling takes precedence in my heart, anger or sadness.  When I hear the story of the GI's who went to the Veteran's Hospitals and Clinics s for help, many illnesses the result of their time on the battles fields of this world, and were turned away, I felt a disgust like none I had ever felt before. 

It is said many died from their illnesses, many who could have been treated and their lives extended.  I wonder how a person could do that, whose job it was to be a saver of life to.  Records were shredded to cover crimes.  Why, so that they would get a bonus at the end of the year for the fine job they did.
i was walking through the super market yesterday and noticed a elderly gentlemen sitting and waiting for his turn to see the pharmacist.  He had a hat that advertised that he had served in Korea.   My attention is always perks when I see a hat which tells me the person was a warrior who served our country in its time of need - but especially for those who served in Korea, for they are kindred brothers.    I thanked him for his service.

Last night I listened to a very irate, very popular ex GI who had served in the Marine Corps for over twenty years and has dedicated his life to traveling the country visiting Vets Hospitals and those who left limbs on the battle field.   When asked what is the most difficult for Vets to adjust to, he said the lack of compassion and interest in the general population of our country.  He said years ago there were many visitors who went to the hospitals to encourage the guys and gals who had paid a horrendous price to protect our freedoms, now there are few.  

Soooo, I will return to Branson again this year for Veteran’s Week.  It happens to be my favorite week of the year, for I love to rub elbows with a very special group of people, called Veterans.  And I challenge you to go out of your way once and a while and say "thank you" to a Vet.  They are part of that group of people that Jesus referred to as "the least of these my brethren".