Friday, January 31, 2014

DId You Hear??????

If any man thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless” (James 1:25).

Hey gang, I am sure you are all aware that 'bullying" has become a very serious problem, not only in our schools today, but in just about every facet of life.  A recent incident in the National Football League brought out the depth of bullying in the ranks of the NFL.  But, as an eighty year old grandpa, I can attest that I saw, and experienced, bullying to some degree in just about every step in my life time.  And I have also learned that the most damaging form of bullying is gossip.

Did you know that gossip thrives on suspicion, mistrust, and the desire to put someone down.    But it can also gain strength even in honest misunderstanding. Let me clarify what experience has taught me pertaining to gossip with a neat little story.  In my younger years I drove a truck in Lancaster, PA, and picked up bulk milk at 54 Amish Farms.  

When I arrived at the Deacon Amos Zook Farm I found a very irate Amos.  He was very quick to tell me there was a blasphemous situation that was taking place in his home Church Body.  It seems one of his parishioners was using electric lights to motivate his hens to lay more eggs. Electricity was one of those modern conveniences that was a no – no in old line Mennonite and Amish lives.

Although the members of Amos’s Body did not have telephones, it did not take it long to spread the dastardly act of rebellion throughout the whole community and the gossip wheels began to turn.  But, after a brief investigation, it was learned that Brother Sam’s indiscretion was the result of a mis-understanding of what Deacon Amos had suggested that Brother Sam do to motivate his chickens.

It seems Brother Sam’s hens were just not motivated to lay eggs in the number that he expected, so he sought the advice of the deacon who suggested Sam try the vitamin and electrolyte mixture the town feed store sold.  This he did. Now I was not privy to whether the hens did indeed lay more eggs, but I was made privy to the fact that there would be a meeting of the Sanhedrin that very day to address the electrolyte issue.

It then dawned on the deacon that he may have been the seed planter of this dastardly deed when he suggested that Sam purchase the vitamin and electrolyte mixture which the young chicken farmer took to mean ‘electric light’.  The mystery was soon solved and the young man corrected the errors of his ways.

Unfortunately, not all gossip can be laid to rest with so much relief and touch of humor.  A simple pull of a plug brought Brother Sam back into fellowship with Deacon Zook and his brothers.    I believe that is what James was talking about in Chapter 3 when he wrote, “…yet he who does not bridle his tongue deceives his own heart”.  Notice he does not stop there, he went on to give warn “the gossipers religion is worthless”.  

 So, my young buckaroos, if you have a season when your chickens are not laying and you lack wisdom as to what to do, don’t seek out Deacon Zook, but rather put your hands in the hands of the One who stills the waters and has an abundance of wisdom about chickens, having created them. “Let him ask of God who gives to all generously and without reproach and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).  Oh, by the way, this is also the recommended problem solving route when you hit the clinkers in the road!



P.S. If you have been a long term Gramps Morning Message reader, you may have heard parts of the story of the unproductive egg layers but I thought it was worth running it through the mill once more.  Paul has a great deal to say about gossip in Romans 1:26-32.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Is Your Wealth In God's Storehouse?

God’s power principle for today:  “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love” (John 15:10).

Hey Gang:   The woman lived in poverty, much to the chagrin of her lawyer son who faithfully sent her a check each month to cover her every need.  Her son heard of her stunning poverty and called her on the phone: “Mother, I hear that you don’t have enough money to pay your bills.”  ‘That’s right” she said sadly.  “But how can that be?  Don’t you get my letters every month?”  “Yes, I get your letters”.  “Then what do you do with the money?”  “What money?  All you send is those pieces of paper with your name scrawled on the bottom.”  She lived in poverty even though she had thousands of dollars available to her.  All she had to do was cash the checks!

Before you are too hard on the woman, think about your situation.  God has given you promises to cover your every need, but they do you no good until you cash them.  The Bible is filled with promises from our Heavenly Father with checks addressed to each of us but they are of no value if you have not plugged your power cord into God’s power supply.

There is the story of "old man" for that was his identification.  Just plain "old man".  He lived in a ram- shackled cabin in one of the hollows in the mountains of Pennsylvania.  A young man, who happened to drive by his house regularly, always checked to see if there was smoke coming out of the chimney.  One day he noticed - there was no smoke.  Old man had passed away.  But who cared, he was just an old hermit who, like so many, passed from this earth without making even the slightest impact on his world.

But, as distant family went through his earthly possessions that were sparse, they found a very beat up Bible. In the Bible were pieces of paper with names and dates, Jane, 1934 let, Mark, 1935 back, Joyce 1940  brain surgery.  After much research they found that in each case money, that was not available to care for these needs, suddenly came from an unknown source. “ Old man” had chosen to live in poverty so that he could provide a "shirt tail to hang onto" for those who had needs.

I do not know if the story of "Old Man" is true, I suspect it is.  I can say this, it impacted on my life and made me more sensitive to the needs of people around me who are hurting.  I pray when I stand before my heavenly Father “He will say well done, true the faithful servant.”

Studying the promises of God can be like trying to drink out of a fire hydrant.  They are so powerful and so many of them that they may knock us off our feet.

Paul challenges our hearts with a tremendous promise that we can take to the bank: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” and just six verses later he gives us this pearl of great price “My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”  (Phil 4:13,19)

Soooo, my young chicks, take Malachi’s advice: “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts.  If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.” (Mal. 3:10)

Wait!! Don’t stop there, read the blessing that follows:, “Then I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of the ground; not will your  vine in the field cast its grapes,” says the Lord of hosts”. (v.11)



Monday, January 27, 2014

The Quiet Sermon

"But if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin".  (I John 1:7)

Hey Gang:  I have had the following story in my archives for years. For some reason I never felt it was important to send it along to you.  But I recently talked with a man who said he searched for a church for years where praise and worship was important, molded in with pure Bible Study; but he failed to find it and now he has chosen to be his own church.  After hearing his story I returned home and got out the worn and torn endorphin file and dug out this story:

"It seems that a member of a certain church, who previously had been attending services regularly, stopped going.  After a few weeks, the Pastor decided to visit him. 

It was a chilly evening.  The Pastor found the man at home alone, setting before a blazing fire.  Guessing the reason for this Pastors visit, the man welcome him, let him to a comfortable chair near the fireplace and waited.

The Pastor made himself at home but said nothing.  In the grave silence, he contemplated the dance of the flames around the burning logs. After some minutes, the Pastor took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it to one side of the hearth all alone.  Then he sat back in his chair, still silent.  The host watched all this in quiet contemplation.  As the one lone ember's flame flickered and diminished, there was a momentary glow and then its fire was no more. Soon it was cold and dead.

Not a word had been spoken since the initial greeting.  The Pastor glanced at his watch and realized it was time to leave.  He slowly stood up, picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire.  Immediately it began to glow, once more with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it.

As the pastor reached the door to leave, the host said with a tear running down his cheek "Thank you so much for your visit and especially for the fiery sermon.  I shall be back in church next Sunday."
There is nothing in this world that amazes me more than folks who are suffering from some addiction and who continue to feed that addiction.   I love the old adage-type/parable stories that give us such wisdom in short form.  Like the Cherokee who told has grandson about a battle that rages inside of people. He said:

The grandson thought for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf wins?  The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

Sooooo, my friends, how do these two short stories go together.  My personal experience taught me that the dogs within me are in constant battle and it is what I put into my armory/mind that will determine the outcome of the battles.  Home Bible study and prayer are essential to keeping our keel deep in the water, but the fellowship of believers keeps the coals burning in our heart and souls.



Friday, January 24, 2014

Why GOD?

"Set your minds on things above, not on the things that are on earth.  For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is or life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in Glory? (Co. 3:2-4)

Hey Gang:  Several weeks ago I was privileged to do the eulogy for a long term friend who passed through my life at just the right time. Although an employee, he was oh so much more.  He mentored this young whipper snapper that was light years over his head in developing the Village.  He lived a long and productive life and ran a strong and very productive race, but as the natural process of life set in, his health began to fail and his last year or two was not a pleasant experience for him or his family.

Did you know that death is sometimes a blessing?  As I grow older and my body sends signs it is wearing out, I have gained a much deeper appreciation to our God for giving Adam and Eve the heave hoe when they bit into the forbidden fruit.  How would you like to live eternally with a cancer ridden body or one of the many other tools that Satan uses to afflict us?

In other words he was ready to go and collect his reward prepared by His heavenly Father.  But what about my son who was taken at age 21? Or my grandson who was called home at 27?   I certainly handled their passing in a totally different way than with the 91 year old man for whom I did the eulogy.

There is the old adage: ‘If I had a nickel for all the times I said 'why' I would be a rich man.’

In conversation with a pastor friend of mine I said to him, “When I get to heaven I am going to ask God "why".  His response still bangs around in my head; "When you are in the presence of God you will be so awed it will not enter your mind.”  I have since come to the conclusion that is the way I want it.

James Baer of Salmon Arm, British Columbia must have asked the question 'why' and then done some serious research of the question.  His conclusion was that tragedy, tribulation and alligators snapping at your heels, have but one purpose - to test and prepare.  His example was Job.  I think all would agree that Satan laid a series of pretty tough test on him.  I mean to lose your kids, all your animals and then to be covered with boils, YUK!  How does that rate on your harassment meter?

James said our tests are a part of the larger drama of the history of the universe.  First, we need to understand that we are but foot-soldiers in the spiritual battles of the ages.  Second, our tests are significant in that God's reputation is affected by their outcome and how we handle them.  Keep in mind that our choices of faith matter not only to us but to God also.  Job's faithfulness brought God a great victory which He rewarded.

Perhaps the greatest of Baer’s points is that tests are significant! They teach us to believe in God even when the tests are severe and nothing about them seems to make sense.  In other words we learn that God wants is to trust Him for no other reason than that He is God!

Soooo, my friends, my David has been with His Heavenly Daddy for 27 years and I am in the twilight years of my life;  each day getting closer to meeting him in the heavenlies and putting my arms around him and hugging him for a century or two. I think I have learned what Job meant when he said, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in Him" (Job 13:15). 

In our work with Voice of Martyrs we have found that to be the battle cry of Believers across the world who lay down their lives for their Lord. Keep in mind that God is more interested in our unwavering trust than He is in our pleasure.  I have learned that the real joy in tribulation and disappointments in this life is 'this is not my home I am only passing through!'



Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Trusting Witness

"For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His spirit in the inner man" (Eph. 3:14-16).

Hey Gang:  I need to finish my story from yesterday.  I, and the one saboteur of the united Day Room rebellion, finished one game and enjoyed the fruits of the victory, a container of candy.  We moved on to the second game.  And then a second and third lad joined the game, followed by a fourth and fifth and soon everyone had laid their anger and stubbornness aside and joined the game.

The ice had been broken and now it was time to move to stage two - getting the troops to determine if they were going to retreat back into the shell that was holding them captive or join forces and come up with a way out of the pit.  It was now time for me to hang up my keys and hit the road for home, but one did not have to be a rocket scientist to see something was happening in the group. They had opened the door a crack and we needed to move into the opening.  
Keep in mind that the only thing we had to work with was a set of keys and a Bingo game.  I held up my keys and said, "I am going home in a few minutes.  Where are you going?"  Silence!  I then said, "Could we do some talking and come up with a plan that will make your stay here less stressful?”

That night the group developed rules that provided a safety net for the pool table, the ping pong tables, the war-ball court and television room.  The end results, there were no riot-type outbreaks in the three years of my tenure.  A few fights, yes, but the troops prevented those from escalating into majors.  The point: they united their brains that night and did something the administration could not do because it affected them personally. 

Soooo, The rules were very effective and, I might add, gave the troops the comfort of knowing boundaries had been established and were being honored.  This opened the door for us to role model Paul's words found in Ephesians 4:31-32, "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.  Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you".

Getting back to the question I asked yesterday, “Could a group of teen-agers address and solve many of the problem that hold our leaders in bandage?  After forty years of working with this age-group of young people, I declare an emphatic yes.  Why?  Because they are not tied up in politics, re-election, surrounded by lobbyist, or controlled by the donors that support them. 

These youth seemed to have a deep compassion for their others in their situation – to the point that it was passed on through the three years.  I do not believe we would hear the harsh rhetoric that has been flowing from the leaders of our nation who talk like they care about the public, but their actions leave much to be desired.



Monday, January 20, 2014

A Powerful WItness

"And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all" (Acts 4:33).

Hey Gang:   I was watching the battles between the left ‘ins' and the right ‘ins’ and, to be perfectly honest, I must admit I had a deep pain (nausea) in the pit of the stomach.  A thought came into my mind:  I thought it might be better to send the ‘donkey's’ and the ‘elephant's ’home for a month or so;  then recruit twenty or thirty teen agers, sequester them in a hotel and give them the challenge to come up with solutions to the national debt, (After all it is their taxes we are spending). Politics and various scandals have tied the congress in knots for the years.

Let me share a neat piece of trivia that I was privileged to be a part of while working in the juvenile hall in California.  On the day I started they handed me a set of keys and pointed me to South Section, where fifty very hostile young men were waiting to give me my orientation.  Hostile is a very un-descriptive word for what I encountered, when I signed in and began my tenure as what my job description titled "Youth Counselor".

There had been several major incidents in the section during the previous months, resulting in several resignations of staff. It was as if I, along with my co-worker, had 'bull's eyes" on our backs, for we were the designees of the wrath that had been building in the section since the first incident, when the administration, who did not set foot in the section, yet in all their wisdom removed all the recreation equipment.
For my first five days in South Section, the fifty detainee's stood around the Day Room in total silence.  Have you ever heard the adage, you can cut the tension with a knife?  On the fifth night I checked out the Bingo equipment, set up a table with Bingo cards and little containers of candy and announced to the group, "I don't know what you are going to do, but I am going to pay Bingo!”

I called every number on the card the first time around and was half way through the second card when one of the lads, who had the gift of sarcasm announced to the group this was the most 'caca mamie' thing he had ever been a part of.  (Actually he used some other words that I chose not to share with you.)   He also sauntered over to the table to get a cup of candy to which I said, "Do you have a Bingo?" Then I asked if he would like to earn one.  I called the rest of the numbers and he earned his cup of candy.

All of this to make the point: I have more confidence that a solution to the nation’s problems could be solved by a group of teen agers than the ‘elephant and donkey’ club who seem far more intent on preventing the loyal opposition from solving the problem and gaining an upper hand in the bondage maker called ‘politics.’

Soooo,  my friends and neighbors, I was asked a question recently,  “Why is it we elect people who we think have the ability, discipline and desire to make our country a better place, but soon after taking their seat in congress they seem to lose their common sense?” My answer: “Where does wisdom come from?  The Word says “Wisdom is the fear or awe of the Lord” (Ps 11:10)   Perhaps we are sending folks to the Belt Way who have succeeded in the things of this world but lack the spiritual foundation to understand the key to success in government is founded on two principles - One to “Love the Lord God with all you heart and the second to love your neighbor so much you are willing to lay down you life for them.” (Luke 10:27 Hainley rendition).

Something to think about.



Friday, January 17, 2014

Bruised Apples

"But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him, and when he saw him, he felt compassion" (Luke 10:33)

Hey Gang, yesterday I was pealing apples for my bride to make apple dumplings and it brought to memory a story that I had tucked away in the archives of my mind.  It centers on a blind girl and a group of salesmen that came face to face in the O'Hara Airport with the blind girl and her display of apples.  

Well, as things go, the convention ran over time and they were frantically running through airport, as is the norm.  As they barged through the terminal in route to their gate, they ran into a young lass with a display of apples and spilled the apples all over the terminal floor.

Without looking back they continued on to their gate, however, one stopped and saw the girl in the midst of her fallen apples and guilt mixed with compassion flooded into his heart.  When he returned he found the girl frustrated, tears running down her cheeks and groping to find the spilled apples.  He soon discovered that she was totally blind.

Do you get the picture?  People running frantically from gate to gate so as to not miss their flight and, in the midst of this confusion,  a blind girl groping to find the apples that provided for her welfare.  The salesman knelt on the floor with her, gathered up the apples, put them into the baskets, and helped set the display up once more.  As he did he noticed that many of the apples had become battered and bruised- those he set aside in another basket.

When he finished, he pulled out his wallet and said to the girl, "Here, please take this $20 for the damage we did and turned heading to his gate.  As the salesman started to walk away, the bewildered blind girl called out to him, "Mister....'  Are you Jesus?"
He stopped, frozen in time! As he proceeded to his gate her words penetrated deep into his soul.     Have you ever been in a situation where people mistake you for Jesus?  Think about that.  Is that not our calling?    To be so much like Jesus that people cannot tell the difference as we live and interact with a world that is blind to His love, life and grace?

If we claim to know Him and have surrendered our lives to Him, should we not look like Him?  are we not the apple of His eye.  Have we not been bruised, as those apples that rolled around that terminal floor were damaged?  Did He not love us so much that He came to earth to die on a hideous cross to break the bondage of sin that held us captive?

Soooo, We will never be worth the price he paid, but let's start living like we are little Christs.



Wednesday, January 15, 2014

I Wish......

“Do not let your heart envy sinners (or people with more talent than I), But live in the fear of the Lord always” (Prov. 23:17)  (Hainley Rendition)

Okay, I admit it.  I know I am not supposed to ‘envy’ people who have wonderful talents and can do all those things that I would like to be able to do, but I do!  I would dearly love to be able to paint a beautiful picture or play an instrument, or be a great orator, but God did not choose to give me those talents. 

But, as I have grown more mature (a nice way of saying I am getting as old as dirt), Paul’s message that we all have very special talents available when we need them, resonates in my spirit. I believe it is how committed we are to using those special talents for the building of the Kingdom of God that determines the crowns that will be ours on judgment day.  

Have you ever noticed that when God looks for something for His service, He usually looks for something common so that all will understand.  He prefers to hone His own edge out of rough metal.  An old country preacher put it this way: “When He really needs something done, He looks for a broken vessel and smashes it, and then remolds it into the image of His Son.” 
I believe most would agree that Paul was a rough sort of dude.  He was as anti ‘The Way’ as one could get; a Pharisee, a persecutor of God’s people. BUT one day, when Paul was on the Damascus road, God looked down and said, “I’ll take that one and molded him into My image!”. 

When God choose the person who would introduce Jesus to the world, He choose a wild sort of prophet, the eater of locust and wild honey.  Jesus said, “Among those born of women there is no one greater than John”.

Sooooo, if God can use a murderer (Moses) who had just spent forty years being honed into a sharp edge to lead his people from the bondage of Egypt, why not you or me to be that person who, when God asks, “Who can I send” will say, “Here, send me”.  As a matter of fact, I can make a guarantee to you, if you are open and in tune with what God would do through you today,  the field is white with opportunities for harvest.



Monday, January 13, 2014

Have You Ever Wondered.....?

"He has chosen us in Him before the foundation (beginning) of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him....In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace".  (Eph. 1:4, 7) 

Hey Gang:  I have some really fantastic news for you this morning.  News, that when you take the time to really concentrate on what Paul is writing, can blow your mind.   Now, just for a few moments, lay aside the cares and needs of the day and think about what he is saying, "He has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world".  One more time - "He has chosen us".  He, who? The Mighty One. Creator God of the universe and all that is within it.  Did you know that our earth is but the size of a pinhead, when   compared on scale to the largest star we know –Magnus……  How does God even see me on this pin head?

Not sure who that is? Check out Psalm 50. He is the One who "Summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting.   Out of Zion the perfection of beauty God has shown forth" (vs.1-2).  Now skip down to verse 10 and note the Psalmist description of who "He" is.  "For every beast of the forest is Mine, The cattle on a thousand hills.  I know every bird of the mountains, And everything that moves in the field is Mine.  If I were hungry I would not tell you, For the world is Mine, and all it contains"(vs. 10-12). 

Are you impressed yet?  Now notice the third word of the morning Scripture "chosen".  As I asked that question to myself, several things popped into my mind.  When in high school - would I be chosen to play drums in the school dance band?  When in the Air Force, would I be chosen for Air Traffic Control School?  

But the one that really stuck out in my mind was when I was in junior high there was a basketball hoop at the corner of one of the streets in my neighborhood where the kids assembled after school to play hoops.  Two captains were chosen and they took turns picking their team from those present.  I always prayed two prayers during this process: first, that there was no more than eight potential players there for teams of four, due to space, was the max the area would accommodate; second, that I was worthy in their eyes to be chosen.   As I grew in size and experience, the prayers became unnecessary.

But let me share a fear that I had after giving my life to Christ as a teen-ager.  This “chosen” thing began to really bother me.  Keep in mind as a hillbilly kid, with the name Kermit, buck teeth and a very deep inferiority complex, I had a hard time getting it through my head that God would even choose me. And, to make things worse, reading the Bible was like working your way through a jungle of words.  As a very poor reader, all of my effort went into mouthing the words, with no energy or understanding to know what they were saying to me.

And, to compound the feeling I was sure that in no way would the God who declares "The world is mine, and all it contains" choose a bucked teeth, skinny, hillbilly kid for His kingdom.  In my teens and early adult years I tended to hide from God.  Paul described me in Timothy as "having a form of Godliness but lacking the power of God".

Let me make a confession, this morning’s message has been banging around in my head for many months but I am not all that willing to confess my short comings and things I cause me to struggle..  But I had a young couple as guests at our table last night. Jay made this statement, "please do not stop writing the blogs, they have helped grow in the Lord.”  Maybe there are none of you out there who struggle as I did, but perhaps there is one.  Oh by the way, I am now an over-comer!  Jesus said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved".  I met this neat lady, over 60 years ago, and found someone who became my witness and mentor.

Soooo, all of you out there that avail yourself of the morning messages, keep in mind, YOU meet people every day, even some who have made decisions for Christ, but are floundering because they lack understanding and are in desperate need of someone to come along side them and walk with them through some of the mine fields they are encountering.   



Friday, January 10, 2014

When Will They Ever Learn?- Correction- Will They Ever Learn?

"Jeremiah commanded Baruch saying, I am restricted; I cannot go into the house of the Lord.  So you go and read from the scroll which you have written at my dictation the words of the Lord to the people in the Lord's house on a fast day.  And also you shall read them to all the people of Judah who come from their cities" (Jeremiah 6:5-6).   read Jeremiah 36

Hey Gang:  I wonder what would happen if a Billy Graham would go to the Capitol Rotunda and set up a soap box and begin to read a scroll warning the leaders of our country of the impending judgment that lays ahead for this nation.  How long would it take until the Capitol Defense Corp. came in mass to do precisely what the king did when Jeremiah's scroll was read by Baruch in the Temple?

It certainly got the kings attention but for all the wrong reasons. His rationale "I mean this is not politically correct and it certainly might bite into my Base of Support".  Baruch did as his mentor suggested (or ordered him to do) probably the latter because to go into the Temple and read something that is contrary to the current attitude of the day was to place your entire being in harm’s way.  

Baruch, the obedient servant, did as his mentor commanded and got his soap box out and went into the Temple and began to expound on Jeremiah's prophetic word.  Keep in mind the name Jeremiah did not bring great thoughts of peace, happiness and joy to the headship of the nation.  He was one big pain to the King and his court.  It did not take long for the word to get to the king and his advisors that this loud mouth was reading from the Book to the people.

Time for an Executive Order! Bring Baruch and the scroll he has been reading to the people and have him do a repeat performance here among his leaders!   It certainly got the king’s advisors attention and they took him before the king for another repeat performance, but this time with far different results. Shortly after he began, the king grabbed the scroll and cut it in pieces and fed it into the fire where it was totally consumed. 

Jeremiah's message was very clear - repent or you are going to see the LORD’S wrath.  As we witness the fiasco that is our government today, did it ever make you wonder if one ounce of wisdom can be found in the Beltway?  Now I ask you, if you, personally, knew that in a short period of time the entire nation was going to go over a cliff, would you not do everything in your power to rectify the situation?  Would you not put pride, selfishness, arrogance and all those other verbs that describes stupidity to rest and go into a room and not come out until you have a resolution to the mess our nation is in.  

The great tragedy: the Creator of all that we survey stands at the door and knocks and continues to say, "If you will humble yourself, and pray and put away all the nonsense you are doing I will heal your land.”  But I would draw your attention to the prerequisite to that promise - "If My people".  God knew that those who do not know Him as Lord would not have the common sense to come in out of the rain. 

When the Bible speaks of God, it speaks of Him as being all powerful or omnipotent.  The Word says, "He upholds all things, by the word of his power"  (Heb. 1:3).  And in Colossians 1:17 we read "He is before all things, and in him all things hold together". 

Soooo, ladies and lads when we have this power and wisdom, when we have a promise from the God of creation that, if we humble ourselves before Him and pray and put away all the bangles and beads and things that have no meaning, He will heal our land,  why do we choose to go our own way?  Something to ponder this New Year.2014.



Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Grace - Part 2

"And working together with Him, we urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain - for He says, "At the acceptable time I listened to you, and on the day of salvation I helped you," Behold, now is "The acceptable time." behold, now is "The day of salvation" (6:1-2).

I recently had occasion to talk with a brother who was dealing with depression and the feeling that he was some sort of trash bucket.  I read in a recent article that the level of self-esteem in our country has reached an all time low.  I also learned the suicide rate among teen agers is at an all time high.
How very tragic for we are more than we think we are.  Peter makes this clear in 1 Peter 2:9, "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood a Holy Nation.  a people for God's own possession so that you may proclaim the excellence of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." 

We also need to understand as priest we have different skills and definite abilities.   Our gift or talent might be the very talent needed to reach a co-worker who is struggling.  Pastor Chris's first point, "You are far more than you think you are!"  His question:  “What does it take to put grace into action?” Again we turn to Peter, "Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles" (2:12).  Not an easy task when you are being ridiculed for your faith.  We are also counseled to keep our vessel pure.

Second: “Be cautious with whom you are building relationships.”  Establish common ground relationships.  People who are more like minded in Spirit and truth.  Understand that the world is a mission field; every person we rub elbows with has been sent across our path by God and a candidate for witnessing this love through us both action and word.  Doing something for someone without fanfare is God's seed planting program.  Our question for the day should be, "What can I do for you today, Lord, that will bring honor and glory to You.   We need to be a messenger of the Word without being a preacher.  Be a Sermon without words.

Third:  “Be seed Planters - Seed Planting is for a two- fold purpose - growth of our spirit and truth and, reaping a crop.  There is little sense in plating if the ground is dead.  And how do we plant? By serving first (Luke 6:35). Speaking comes after first giving.  And if a sermon is needed, then open your mouth and let God fill it.

Fourth:, Our task is to first have the faith and  trust to put grace into action. We are not the Holy Spirit but we are carriers of the Holy Spirit.  Our task is to get out of the way and let the Holy Spirit be the Holy Spirit.  There are never periods when we are not under stress.  But we also need know "I (Jesus) am always with you" (Matt 28:20) in reality.

Soooo, my young friends, there is no question, we are living in perilous times.  Satan's goal remains to travel the world and seek all that he can stick thorns in.  Paul helps us keep those thorns in perspective when he wrote, "There was given me a "thorn in the flesh" ....."to keep me from exalting myself" (2 Cor. 12:7).



Monday, January 6, 2014


"Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you, And, therefore, He wants on high to have compassion on you.  For the Lord is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him" (Isaiah 30:18).

As a child growing up, when they referred to ‘grace’ in our church, I thought they were talking of Grace Pearson, the lady who lived up in Juniata Gap and was the founder and head of the Ladies Benevolent Society in our church.

 It was not until later years in my walk with the Lord that I learned that Grace is the merciful kindness of God.  I also learned that without grace we cannot know God. God's working in us cannot be learned.  It is unconditional love that comes only in gift form. 

We are more than recipients of grace.  We are vessels of grace.  In a recent message our pastor used the example of a glass of cola, the cola coming from his can to the glass and then passing the glass on to someone else to enjoy.   The message: we are born again to share God's  message and be a blessing to all with whom we come in contact.

So the question - what next.  What happens when we are filled with grace and equipped for action?   In 2 Corinthians 6:1-4 Paul give us this instruction, "But in everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distress.  But key to distress is verse one.  "Working together with Him".  In other words do not receive the gift of grace in vain.  We need to understand grace is an action word - as Bernie would say, "use it or lose it.  Share it! Pour it out of your inner most being.  Become ambassadors, bond servants, be willing to lay down your life for someone in need.

 One can only spend so much time in the locker room preparing without putting that preparation into action.  You may be the greatest quarterback in the world but if you don't come out of the locker room and show the world what a great arm you have, it is all for naught.   If you remain in a non-action mode, it is only a matter of time until your talents will begin to atrophy.

The question is, will you be like Jeremiah and Moses and give a long listing of all your weaknesses and other such reasons that would prevent you from being a giver of grace?   The Good News is God is not all that concerned about our weaknesses and even our lack of faith.  In Matthew 28 we find the disciples were not great examples of faith.  In verse 17, we find that some of the disciples were even doubtful.
Jesus had to remind them "all authority has been given me in heaven and earth" (v.13).  Throughout the Word we find many stories of folks, even leaders, who have demonstrated a lack of faith.

Scripture tells us that those who were the power brokers/kings of their day surrounded themselves with men of faith to cover their lack of faith.    Many who were faced with battle called on the priest to come and give a blessing or have the Ark of the Covenant brought to the battle lines. Might be good advice for the power brokers of our day.

Soooo, My point in this epistle is, If God calls us to do something for Him, no matter how difficult it may seem, even if it is beyond our abilities as we see it, He will walk us through the experience and equip us for the task (Eph 4:12).  I am certainly living proof of that!  God will use us in spite our lack of confidence in self and faith.  The key to success is not in our ability but in our willingness to surrender all of our assets to the Lord to mold us into the vessel He has chosen to complete the task.  Keep in mind God often chooses broken vessels and smashes them and then molds them into a usable vessel.