Friday, May 30, 2014

Are You A Seed Planter? Part 4

"Then He left the crowds and went into the house and His disciples came to Him and said, "Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field." (Matt. 13:36).

Hey Gang:  The third step to being an effective Seed Planter for Christ is, “It makes a difference where you sow.”  Jesus said, "Behold the sower went out to sow and as he sowed some seeds fell beside the road  and the birds came and ate them up; some fell in rocky places where there wasn't much soil and they quickly sprang up but they soon died for lack of nourishment, some feel in shallow soil and the sun beat them to death, some fell among the thorns and the thorns choked them out. (Matt. 13:2-8).

As Chaplain at the Village I can say, "been there, done that”. I have seen the folly of trying to plant seeds when there is no foundation to receive the Word.   I am in the process of making a garden for my bride.  Really?  What does one do to make a garden?  I have heard of preparing the ground for a garden and  planting a garden but making a garden is a horse of a different color.  You see, I have all of those ingredients that makes planting good seeds an exercise in futility. 

So, I decided this year I would build a garden.  I am making eight foot long troughs and placing them on cement blocks and filling them with good top soil purchased from a local farmer taken from his barnyard.  Right!  Soil and fertilizer in one shot.  We have studied the sun for years to find out the best place for such projects and have that down to perfection.   I am confident that we will have a huge return for our labor.  But will it cover the cost of materials and the hours of labor required by the builder?

That is a question we have to answer as we contemplate whether we want to be a serious seed planter for the Lord.  The soil has to be prepared.  Jesus said, "…and others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop.  You see, when the youngsters came to me, most did not have the foundation to receive the message God was trying to penetrate into their hearts and minds.  It was my job to install knobs in their heads in order to later hang the Word on.  Crude practice, I admit, but very effective. 

I learned this lesson as a young lad when I made up my mind that I wanted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. But, no one took me under thier arm and helped me develop knobs to hang God's Word on and I floundered for more than twenty years before I married my bride who helped me, not only established the needed knobs, but also to share the Word on through action and word.

I would like to add a page or two before moving on but I know you are all reading this on the run, so I will move on.   Jesus concluded His explanation on the seed planter to the disciples with these words, "Some fell on good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty and those thirty."  (vs. 5b).  

Soooo, my young warriors, I close these morning messages on the Seed Planter with a fabulous promise from Paul found in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7, "He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully".  Now, notice his next words, the key to seed planting: "Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart not grudgingly or under compulsion for God love's a cheerful giver."     In other words, you and I control the harvest by our planting program.

My dear friends, one last point that I want to drive deep into your hearts. When you stand before the Father, He will ask, "What did you do with My Son?  Did you come along side even the least of these, my brethren?”



Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Are You a Seed Planter

And the King will answer them, "Truly, I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me."  (Matt. 24:40).

Hey Gang, "To the extent" is a very important phrase; pay attention to it.  I believe it might even be considered a spin off from what we have learned recently about the word measure.  There are many in American who think all we have to do is "believe" and we are home free and can do just about anything we want to do.  But Jesus debunked that thought when He said, "By the same measure that you forgive, judge, and give of your talents and resources, He will reciprocate.” (Gramps rendition)

Paul made this very clear when he wrote, "You are going to reap what you sow".  I like the English   Bible translation of this verse, “Don’t deceive yourselves; no one can make a fool of God; whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.  He who sows in the lower nature will from that nature reap a blighted harvest. He who reaps from the Spirit will from the Spirit reap life eternal.  Don’t get tired of the fine things, for when the proper time comes, we will reap so long as we don’t relax our efforts” (Gal 6:7-8).

One would think that "reap what you sow" would be a common sense law and one that would be easy to understand. Drink huge amounts of alcohol equals liver problems, smoking leads to lung problems, drugs fouls your brain.  One does not have to be a rocket scientist to understand the hazards involved in this kind of seed planting but yet the numbers involved in these death-defying actions continue to rise each year.
In our parenting classes we always had one or more of what I termed my "agony and pain club”. These parents were bent on doing things their own way.  We could not convince them of the correlation between anger in their children and anger demonstrated in their own lives.   The "chip off the old block" unfortunately carries more truth than we like to think. 

 Years ago we had a young man who was doing fabulous in the program.  He was exceeding even his own expectations in school, in the physical program areas and was becoming more involved in Chapel each day.  Then one night he ran away, stole a car and ended up in jail.  When asked why?  He said, "Mr. H., if I turn my life around I will be the odd ball in my family".  A tragic story, but one we heard many times.

Paul gave us the principle "You will reap what you sow".  Now turn to Dr. Luke to find out step one in implementing the principle.  Luke 6:38 begins with a power word "give".  Now, notice once again, we run into the "measure principle" -"Give, and it will be given to you".   We have learned in our walk with the Lord that the old adage "You cannot out give God" is oh so true!  

Luke goes on and puts legs on God's reciprocating giving policy: "It shall be given to you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, they will pour into your lap." And he closes this truth with a promise from the throne room, "For by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you in return."  

Let me share a neat success story based on this giving principle.  A friend shared that his daughter was suffering greatly with depression and had left college and moved home.  He shared he had taken her to the best therapist he could find but after several months the depression seemed to deepen.  I suggested that he pack her up and take her back to college and allow her to work through the problem.  Upon their arrival back at college she found her roommate bedfast with mono nucleuses.  Immediately she became a giver by taking care of her.  The roommate recovered under her care and the depression took a hike.

Soooo,  A study was done in the Retirement Villages of Florida, a few years back, and they found when they asked if the senior could impact in a person’s life, would  they return to the cold north and do this.  Tragically a very large percentage said "no" they had no interest in getting involved in the lives of their kids and grand kids.  It is hard for God to bless in the same measure when we choose not to reach out to our neighbor.  Luke says "Give”.  Paul says, "You will reap what you sow"!  Jesus said, "You will be blessed!



Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Are You a Seed Planter? part 2

And He was saying to them, "Take care what you listen to, by your standard of measure it will be to you and more will be given to you besides" (Mark 4:24).

Hey Gang: My prayer is that God will provide the words that would begin to develop an excitement in you to the point where you cannot sit down.  Samuel said to Jesse, when seeking God's chosen to be King of Israel, "We will sit down until this thing is settled" (I Sam.16:11b).  Nehemiah declared to Sanballat, "I will not come down until God's word is finished". (Neh 6:3)

We were privileged to sit under the teaching of an old country preacher by the name of Harold Hill, who also had been on the team that developed many of the NASA projects. He was an alcoholic that had totally destroyed his life - until God grabbed him and pulled him out of pit.  Hill asked a question that has stuck in my gizzard since: "Are you a “Pipe line or Pin Hole Christian. Do you witness in a porch box or in an unlimited field or not at all?"

Keep in mind that God's word is a Book of connectors and we must follow the road map that God provided to gain full understanding what He is trying to teach us.  There is nothing more dangerous than to take one verse out of context and build a personal doctrine around it.  Jesus said, “Make sure you check it out with two or more witnesses.” 

When Jesus went into the wilderness and was tempted by Satan, what did He use to repeal the darts of the devil?  The Word!  He used three words to repeal slue foot and we should have them engrained in our hearts and minds: "It is written".

Notice, we find a warning in His victory over the devil.  Satan is a very poor loser and never, never, never gives up his fight for our soul.  In Luke we read, "When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him until a more opportune time" (4:13).

How many know we are in a wilderness today? Jesus warned of this when He said, “There will be great deception, even some of the saints are going to be led down the prime rose path.”  So, if you have not input the Word on to your hard drives, your armor is tarnished and unprepared for battle. Solomon said "we perish because we lack knowledge".

Soooo, years ago we had the privilege of working at the African Missionary Retirement Home in Florida. It was very reassuring to be hanging on the edge of a roof twenty feet up in the air hanging shingles and see a half dozen of these warriors for Christ praying for us. Chaplain Roy said, "A characteristic of the people here is they "finish with a smile".  One, who was on her final lap said to the medical staff, "Today I am going to see my Jesus".  Wow, is that not awesome?



Friday, May 23, 2014

Are You A Seed Planter?

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

Hey Gang:  The last two morning messages rekindled some very neat memories from yester years when I was traveling across the state representing the Village.  The theme of my messages was always two fold: "Lord give me something that it fresh and alive - let the zeal of the Lord show in me" and "The joy it was to be a Seed Planter for the Lord".  Whether you think you are or whether you want to be does not matter, your every word is heard by someone and your every action is seen by others!  This is especially true today, with all of the modern hearing, recording and talking devices.

I have learned that the ‘Law of Reciprocity’ is set in iron and works every time.  If I stick my finger in the fire, it is going to hurt - every time.  If I continually drive too fast, I am going have a visit from the guy with the bubble on the top of his car and flashing lights, every time.  A young lass once asked her daddy when he was dressed in tux and ready to go out on the town, why he wears that suit when on each time he   gets sick and has bad headaches. 

Paul gave us the first step in the Seed Planting program: "Be not be deceived, God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap" (Gal. 6:7).  That's the principle. Then he puts the practical application to the law, "For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life" (vs.8). 

When God created us He did a marvelous thing; He made us higher than the animals by endowing us with a brain.  A brain that has the ability to think, process information and make very sound decisions.  Which means He had no desire to create a robot but one who could make choices. He also placed two peepers in our head that allow us to see and process what we see. And ears that we can hear and absorb knowledge through sound.

The Psalmist was surely impressed with the human body, even before there were mirrors to admire one self.  He wrote, "For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works and my soul knows it very well" (Psa. 139: 13-14).

Now I am sure you have this in your dome of intellect, but let’s review it anyway: "The Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being" (Genesis 2:7).  But what about all this evolution stuff - hogwash!  God said, "Let us make man in Our image according to Our likeness" (Gen. 26a). And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him....and God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good". (1:31a).

Sooooo, I ask you this morning, if you were created by the Creator God of the universe and He has promised never to leave us or forsake us,  to guide our steps, to be our refuge and strength, and to provide for our needs, why do so many choose to go their own way? 

Our pastor made a profound statement when he said we fail to see the superiority of our God.  Peter had that problem at the Mount of Transfiguration when he said, "Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles: one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah".  (Luke 9:33).    His intent - to place Moses and Elijah on the same level as Jesus.  It is only when we see the superiority of Jesus that we can put our full trust in Him and become 'Seed Planters’ for Him. 



Wednesday, May 21, 2014

In The Same Measure

"And He was saying to them, "Take care what you listen to.  "By your standard of measure it will be measured to you; and more will be given you besides" (Mark 4:24).

Hey Gang, the last morning message focus was on forgiveness.  The focus of Matthew 6:14-15 is the need to forgive others.  But I sense God is giving us another truth that we need to heed, that being that God responds to us in like manner to the way we respond.  Let me put some meat on that thought.

In Matthew 6: 14-15 there is no question that God is telling us we need to forgive our brothers, sisters and even our enemies.   Why? Because forgiveness is one of the cancerous diseases that spreads and places us in bondage unable to hear the voice of God.  When there is unforgiveness in a marriage, the seeds of its demise have been planted.   There is no question that unless we take heed what God is saying here and go about and put forgiveness into practice, we are going to be in a world of hurt.

But we need to take this a little further and see that to the same measure that we forgive others God will forgive us, "For if you forgive others for their transgressions your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But, if you do not forgive others, then your heavenly Father will not forgive your transgressions".  Notice the Father's forgiveness is not restricted to the forgiveness issue but covers all transgressions.    

In Matthew 7:1-2 we find the same principle.  God, through Matthew warned, "Do not judge so that you will not be judged.  For in the way you judge you will be judged: and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you".   In a recent trial involving embezzlement and stealing from those folks that had trust in the person and invested their retirement monies, the jury found the culprit "not guilty" when one of the jurors declared he had "reasonable doubt".  The people were devastated with the verdict, but one elderly gentlemen announced to the distraught folks, “He will be judged in the same measure that he  embezzled you.” 

One last example of the word "measure" is found in Luke 6:38 "Give, and it will be given to you.  They will pour into your lap a good measure - pressed down, shaken together, and running over.  For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return".   Wow, is that not one power packed verse on how to live your life in an effective manner?  

If I could challenge each of you to do one thing with your lives, it would be "Give".  Malachi challenges each to bring all that they have and all that they are into God's storehouse so that God can dole it out to us - even when the droughts hit an there is no food. And the fringe benefit that comes with our giving all that we have and all that we are to God is that He protects us from Evil One.  (Mal 3:10-11). 

Soooo,  young folks, the Word is filled with the ‘Law of Reciprocity’ meaning that we are going to reap what we sow.  Paul pounded this point throughout his ministry: "God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap" (Gal. 6:7).  So polish your armor, take up your sword, the Word, and be a planter of the Good News into the hearts and souls of everyone you come in contact with, by action and word.



Monday, May 19, 2014

Leave It All On the Altar

"For ‘if’ (note the ‘if’) you forgive others for their transgression, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But "if" (note the ‘if’) you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions" (Matt. 6:14-15).

Hey Gang:  Is there a more powerful word in the English language than the word "forgive"?  I can attest to you this morning that there is an equally powerful word that causes great pain in the lives of many people - ‘unforgiveness’.  I would suggest that most of the people in the United States have heard, and most can repeat, the Lord's Prayer.  As I child, in school, we repeated it and the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag every morning.  

But, I wonder if Jesus did not make a mistake by not saving the ‘amen’ until after the verses that followed.  In verses 23 and 24 He certainly addressed the importance of getting rid of those feelings inside that destroy relationships when He said, "If" (note the ‘if’) you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering" (Matt. 6:23-24). 
Many years ago the bride-of-my-youth had a problem with a young lady who was part of our Village team.  Now, if you know my bride, you know that was not a part of her personality and it bothered her greatly. One day God spoke to her and said, “Every time you see her or think of her, pray for her.”  This she did and as the weeks passed so the animosity that was in her heart.  They became very good friends as they are to this day.

But such is not the case in many families where great barriers have been raised between family members, very often over very mundane things.  Brothers who refuse to speak to sisters and vice versa.  The story of the Martin's and McCoy's are very well recognized names - not for the great things that they have done down through the years but rather because they have engaged in feuding against each other.  Stories have been written about it, songs created and the sagas abound about how it all started.  But when questioned, none of the feuders really knew what kicked it off. 

Unforgiveness has been a way of life within many families dating back to Cain and Able.  We are reaping the dividends of the unforgiveness within Abraham's family today, unforgiveness that dates back to Esau and Jacob.  

And, are we not reaping the fruits of unforgiveness in our leaders today?  One would think that when they vent the venom toward those that "are on the other side of the aisle" they would gag on their words, but instead they would rather gag than to even acknowledge that their opposition might have a good idea that could lead us out of the bondages we find ourselves in today.  I don't know about you but I am just plain sick of the world "politics". 

I learned very early in my tenure of working with troubled children that I would have many opportunities to enter into the realm of unforgiveness for the things they said to me personally.  Having the name Kermit, skinny as a rail and with bucked teeth, often brought jeers and comments that were not becoming to me.  But as I grew older and scar tissue grew, I learned to respond, "There is nothing that I have not been called, therefore it is impossible to insult me".  An old gent in the field of working with hurting people taught me a defense mechanism that I found worked wonderfully:  simply, "I don’t blame you" covered it all. 

Soooo, my friends, as my life begins to wind down, I am saddened by the growing animosity between the peoples of our land, and it is not restricted to the non- believing people.  Church splits are common, Christian marriages are tearing apart at the same percentage rate as non- Christians.  Jesus said to the Laodicean people, "You have lost your first love".  But there is hope! "He stands at the door and knocks; if any one hears My voice and opens the door, I will come into him and will dine with him, and he with Me." (Rev. 3:20).   Do you need to leave your sacrifice on the altar and go and reconcile with your family or neighbor?



Friday, May 16, 2014

Satan's Goal - To Sift You Like Wheat!

"Be humble, cast your concerns and cares on Him; be sober of spirit, stay on the alert for your adversary the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour"  (I Peter 5:6-8- Hainley rendition)

Hey Gang:  When I was a little squeezer I tried to be an imitator of all my heroes.  Saturday morning was a ritual in my life, I would truck off the movie theater and watch Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, the Lone Ranger and all the other heroes of that day.  On the way home from the theater I visualized myself as an imitator of those great heroes.  But the agreement with my mom was, I could go to be with my heroes in the morning but the afternoon and chores belonged to her.  It did not take long after arriving home that the imitations went by the board and reality set in.

Is it okay to be an imitator?  Paul said, “If you really want to be great in God’s kingdom then be an imitator of God.”  Paul also wrote, in his first letter to the Corinthians, “For in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.  Therefore, I exhort you to be imitators of me”  (4:15b-15).  Do you think it would be okay to be an imitator of Paul?

Paul also wrote, “Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good” (1 Thess. 5:21).  But notice he laid a solid foundation for this statement, just as he often did in his teaching, by setting prerequisites before giving us the practical application. 

He said, "rejoice always!".  I have learned that 'rejoice always' is an attitude that is controlled by my will.  I can choose to be in an attitude of praise or I can choose to let the adverse circumstances take control of me.  Oh, I wish I had more time to expand on this vital point!

Paul's second prerequisite is the foundation of all we do in our Christian walk, "Pray without ceasing".  I do not believe Paul is talking about the ‘hit and run’ variety of prayer that fits into the tiny holes left in our day planner, but when we give sacrificial time to the Lord.  Oh, I wish I had more time to expand on hits vital point!

Paul's third point is equally tough and requires a deep discipline: "In everything give thanks: "Why?"…for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus".  Do you have times when it is just nigh on to impossible to ‘give thanks?’  I certainly have, but as the Amish man said, “It is at those times we have to have the positive things on file in our soul so we can draw on those victories.”  Oh, how I wish I time to expand on this point!

Paul's fourth and fifth prerequisites are "Do not quench the spirit" and “Do not despise prophetic utterances".  How does one do that? Paul addresses this in Colossians three and it is worth reading weekly. Oh, how I would like to expand on this point!

Sixth, "Examine everything carefully, hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every from of evil".  I mean, why would Paul include that?  Does not every Christian examine everything? Give the bad the boot and only keep the good?  Okay I am being a wee bit factious.  Not every Christian checks and chucks the bad stuff.  Oh, how I would like to expand of this point.

Sooooo,  Paul caps his teaching on how to live very effective lives for Christ with a large, juicy cheery, "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of Lord Jesus Christ" (I Thess. 5:16- 24).  Now my friends it is time to lay aside the cares of the world and expand on what God is saying to you through His Word.



Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Have You Hidden Under A Juniper Tree Lately?

“My God shall supply for all our needs according to His riches in glory”. (Phil. 4:19).

Hey Gang:  This morning I would like that you read about Elijah under a Juniper Tree (I Kings 9:1-9).   One might think that God had good reason to turn his back on His prophet, just as one might think He would turn His back on us for transgressions and failures.  Isn’t it neat to know we serve a forgiving God who is very patient with His sheep? Remember Elijah had cut and run when threatened by Jezebel. 

We find him asleep when an angel touched him and told him "arise and eat".  God had provided bread, cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water.  Did he get the message?  Not really, he laid down and went back to sleep.  Once again the angel said, “Arise and eat, you have a long journey ahead.” 

Recently, our Sunday School lesson centered on the blessings that God wants to give to us but we often fail to recognize or put into practice.  In our power verse for today, Paul gives us the assurance that "God will supply all of our needs according to His riches in glory”.  We tend to look at that verse in light of material things, but I believe Paul’s meaning goes much deeper;  in reality, God wants to care for “ALL” of our needs.

Let me put some meat around that promise from Abba Father.  In the early days of the Village I had two concerns that dogged me constantly; the first, that God would give us the wisdom, strength and most of all patience to make sure each youngster under our care was experiencing life changing care; the second, where were we going to get enough money to get through another day.

Up to this point, I believed every promise in the Bible but had not yet come to the compulsion stage that every promise was literal and unchanging.  A dear saintly lady by the name of Jeanette taught me that if the Word said Jonah ate the whale instead of being eaten by the whale, she would take it to the bank. 

Early that first year, I had purchased the winter gear for the coming fuzzy white stuff season and stuck the invoice in a safe place where I promptly forgot all about it.  And then, one day, the rubber-hit-the road.  The mail arrived and being the pessimist, I confess I sometimes am, I always opened the bills first and as the you probably guessed, the bill ($187,00) for the clothing had finally arrived.

Now, I confess lads and lassies, the last thing on my mind at that moment was "My God shall".  I calmly laid the bill on the desk, picked up a towel and dried my perspiration covered face and went about the rest of the chores that had to be done.

Later that afternoon I returned to the office and opened the rest of the mail.  The last piece was from a ladies group in Farwell, Michigan.  I had the privilege of enjoying a pot luck with them months before and bringing them up to speed in what was happening at the Village.  And then came the 'wower'  of the day, enclosed was a check for $187.00 that they raised in a recent bake sale!  Not a penny more but not a penny less either, God had supplied our needs.

Sooooo my young friends, I got a little off the beaten path but my message for you today, based on this old man's experiences is two-fold: first every word of the Bible needs to be taken literally.  Don't try and put words into God's mouth; and second, when God calls you to do something, let Him worry about the provisions and where the next buck is coming from.  He does not call us to do something for Him without giving us all we need to complete the task (Hebrews 13:21).



Monday, May 12, 2014

Are You Like A Tree Planted By the Waters?

The Psalmist wrote, "The Lord is my Shepherd, He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters." (Psa. 23:1-2)  "The righteous are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither." (Psa. `1:3).

Hey Gang. Is it not awesome and comforting to know that Father God is in the heavenlies but also here with His children?   How wonderful and comforting it is to know that Yeshuah, Your only beloved Son, is sitting at the right hand of the Father in intercessory prayer for me - even and you as I sit here this morning.  I praise you, Lord, for Your handiwork that is mine to enjoy.  Even though there are times when the alligators are snipping at my heels, I know you will never leave me or forsake me.

Can you say with firmness of soul, ‘I praise you Lord; You are my shepherd; You make me lie down in green pastures; I thank you Lord that you lead me beside still water; I thank you Lord for the peace of mind - you loved me so much you sent Your only begotten Son to come to earth and endure the agony of the cross?’ 

Father, how sad you must have been when you had to turn your eyes from Your Son when He bore our sins on the cross.  Have you said recently, ‘I praise You Lord for that love and for the willingness of Your Son, Jesus, to pay that horrendous price for me?’  How sad, Lord, that so many are choosing to go their own way and follow the evil one.

While working in a detention home in California, a young lad came up to me after chapel and asked, "Mr. H.  how long is eternity?”  I said, “Sandy, you have been to Sacramento, a six-lane road a hundred miles from here.  You have a tooth brush in your back pocket. If you were to scrub the roadway up and back a dozen times, that would be a drop in the bucket compared to eternity.”

As I have entered the Golden Years (Golden Years for the medical profession),  I have noticed the mileage I have placed on this eighty- year old frame is beginning to show signs of dry rot.  A pain here, a pain there, far too many trips to the doctors and pharmacy.  I notice it is harder to get out of bed in the morning and it takes longer to get my body in gear.  As my Grandma said, “The first thing I do in the morning is check the obits and, if my name is not there, I eat my breakfast and get my day going.”

I came across a wonderful little book titled "Heaven My Father's House" by Anne Graham Lotz. In it she penned these words, "One day, God Himself will take your face in His hands and gently wipe away your tears as He reassures you there will be no more suffering in My Father's House.  No more pain or hospitals or death or funerals or grief or walkers or canes or wheelchairs.

There will be no more suicide bombers or fiery infernos, broken homes or broken hearts, broken lives or broken dreams.  There will be no more mental retardation or physical handicaps, muscular dystrophy or multiple sclerosis. blindness or lameness, deafness or sickness.

There will be no more Parkinson's disease or heart disease, diabetes or arthritis, cataracts or paralysis.  No more cancer or strokes or AIDS, No more bombs in schools, or care bombs or terrorists or missiles or airstrikes.  There will be no more war."  

Soooo lads and lassies, Is this your prayer this morning?   ‘Lord, I pray that I will grow to be like a tree planted by streams that yield fruit that is pleasing to You.’  I love that old song, "What a day that will be when My Jesus I shall see, when I can look into His face…."  Wow, is that not awesome!



Friday, May 9, 2014

Right! Right!!

"In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed  by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials" (I Peter 1:6-7).

Hey Gang:  In the past week or so I have been dealing with Mustard Seeds.  As I mentioned in the previous morning message, my chain saw and D14 tractor had once again become a king- sized thorn in my side.  And how does a mustard seed fit into this scene?   Dr. Luke gives us the following description of a mustard seed "a seed that the farmer threw on the ground and it grew into a large tree, large enough for the birds to nest in it". (Lu. 13:19). 
Another way one might describe my dilemma is the common phrase "making a mole hill into a mountain" or vice versa.  I confess I did a little of each.  Fixing the chain saw was a piece of cake. I took it to the repair shop and they, after much seeking, found the needed spring to repair the damage.  End of problem.  Right - right.

But the D14 was a horse of a different problem.  After seeking counsel from a number of sources and learning nothing, I readily admit I was frazzled; but, in the mist of the storm, God in that quiet voice said, "clean the gas tank" of rust. 

To make the long story very short, I found such a substance at a local store and was about to pour it into the gas tank when my son said, “It won't work.  We have to remove the gas tank so as to slouch the liquid around the tank.”  Did you ever try to take the bolts out of a sixty-year old tractor.  With bleeding knuckles the job was completed and the "ghastly beast" sprang into action.

So how does the Mustard Seed fit into this story?  The problem was not really in the gas tank, it was in the connecting rod between the gas tank and sediment bulb.  Two very small holes fed the gas from tank to carburetor.  One was blocked completely and the other three fourths.  It would run for a minute or two but would soon run out of fuel to the carburetor.  Two very tiny holes controlled the ability of the "ghastly beast" to perform what it was designed to do.
When the lines were freed and we cranked up the "ghastly beast";  there was no question  it has been running under very reduced power for many months and finally said, "hey dude" you have a choice to make - fix me or I am going to make your life miserable.   End of problem, right - right!!!! 

Now think about that.  When God breathed life into our mortal bodies He equipped us with a magnificent wiring system.  It is said we have so much brain power that we only use about ten  percent or less.   David, a man after God's heart wrote the following, "For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb.  I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully make.  Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well." (Psa. 139: 13-14).

Soooo, my friends, there is a prerequisite to God cleaning out the gas feeds to our heart and soul - we must take the plug on the power cord of our heart and plug it into God's power supply.  I close with this analogy: "If you were taken to court and accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?"  Jesus said, you must go to the cross daily and clean out your power supply.



Wednesday, May 7, 2014

AH, Come On! Right? - Wrong!

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

Hey Gang, let me give you a piece of fabulous news - it works!  Those that have been with me through the past years remember the problems I had with my D14 Allis Chalmers tractor.  If not I can attest that it was one royal huge pain.  I would get one thing under control only to run smack dab into three others.

Now I don't like to admit it, because most out there have never seen me when I was total frazzled and lost my cool, but it was not safe to be within throwing distance, during some of those battles with this "ghastly beast". 

But let me share the fruits of those battles.  I was having problems keeping the ‘ghastly beast’ running at the end of last year and was sure it was a carburetor problem, so I trudged it up to the repair shop and had it rebuilt.  End of problem, right - wrong.  It ran for ten minutes and then died. 

So, I took all the lines off, blew out them out along with the gas tank and carburetor and put it all together and, hallelujah, it kicked right off.  The problem was solved, right?  Wrong!  It ran for ten minutes and died.  So, I did what any intelligent lad would do, I left it set and decided to change my focus for the day from moving dirt to cutting one of the many trees that have been taken down by mother nature's wrath, then seek someone with a lot more wisdom in such things as repairing ‘ghastly beast’.

Two pulls on the starter cord and the chainsaw roared into action.  I was now on a roll and there was no question in my mind but that I was going to have victory and one or more of the trees would be cut, split, and in the wood pile before the day was over.  Right?  Wrong!

I stopped the chainsaw to reset the log for cutting. When I pulled the starter cord for a restart, you will never guess what happened.  Did I hear the engine roar into action? No!  What I heard was a snapping sound and the starter cord became a soggy noodle.  I had snapped the connecting spring inside the starter mechanism.  No problem, a ‘slight affliction’, yes, but the repair man, with whom I had become friends because of my many contacts with the ‘ghastly beast’ would fix it and I would be back on task in a matter of an hour or so.

Right?  Wrong!  He confirmed I had blown a spring and went to the shelf to get a replacement- only to find an empty spot where such springs were normally located.   No problem, He said, "I will call my competitor who also stocks such items".  It seems there has been a run on such items and he, too, did not have one.  A call to a supplier produced the same results, none on the shelf. 
As I was driving home from the repair shop it dawned on me that I had not hit the tractor with a wrench, kicked the tire, or even uttered angry word toward it; nor when the chainsaw went down did I throw it down the stairs as I might have done in the early battles with the ‘ghastly beast’ and ‘chainsaw". 

Soooo,  my friends, I can attest that James words do indeed work  when we take control and  consider it all joy when I hit the clinkers in the road -for  God is faithful and uses even those experiences to strengthen me and bring some  good out of them.  I had enjoyed some praise music on my radio as I drove to the repair shop, and had a chance to talk with and witness with my friend at the repair shop.      Does that mean I did not feel like throwing the chain saw down the stairs - no - but I did not!



Monday, May 5, 2014

Have You Noticed?

"For the grace of God has appeared bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny un-godliness and worldly desire and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age" (Titus 2:12).

Hey Gang:  There has been a change in the way the media is referring to those of us who are “born again Christians".  Years ago we were referred to as the "Religious Right".  But today we are more inclined to be referred to as the "Radical Right".   Now, there are those that take great offense at this moniker but I feel a kind of pride to be referred to as ‘Radical’.  I believe Jesus, my role model, was a radical- for He was so very opposite of the religious leaders of His day.  Frankly speaking, I can think of nothing in this world that I want to be identified with more than Jesus with His radical love message.. 

The Word tells me I am only a transient here, but where I am going, when my body has ended its tenure on earth, is 'out of sight' compared to the bangles and beads of this world. One day I was listening to a conversation of Bible Guru's, who were discussing heaven. I was rather surprised that they talked of the streets of gold, the pearled walls, etc. but none mentioned the focal point of why every Believer should look forward with great expectation to why we should want to go there - the Lord, Yeshua, Adonia, Jesus the Son of God will be there! 

As I was pondering how I felt about being referred to as a Radical Christian, I came across an article by Marv Rosenthal of Zion's Fire Magazine who added a whole barn full of meat to this subject.  He began by saying, "I steadfastly pronounce myself "guilty" and willingly take on the moniker "Radical Christian". He made the following points:

"If believing God intended humankind to practice monogamy within the holy bonds of a committed, "for better or for worse" marriage union, then I, with honor, wear badge of the Radical Right proudly".      
"If believing that American's founding fathers said what they meant and meant what they said when they wrote the Constitution, intending that it be interpreted normally and literally, then I with honor, wear the badge of "Radical Right" proudly".

"If believing that men and women are to live by the sweat of their brows and that hard work is to be rewarded, and laziness unrewarded and a stigma, then I, with honor, wear the badge of the "Radical Right" proudly'.

"If believing in the concept of separation of church and state, but understanding in the context in which it was made, it was intended to keep the state from interfering win the religious freedom of its citizens and never to keep the Bible out of government, then I, with honor, wear the badge of the "Radical Right" proudly".

"If loving God, rejecting idolatry, not taking  the name of the Lord in vain, observing one day in seven for special religious purposes, honoring parents, not killing, not committing adultery, not stealing, not bearing false witness, and not coveting are characteristics of the "Radical Right" then I, with honor, stand where the "Radical Right" stands, proudly."

Soooo,  my friends and neighbors,  the world says "anything goes if it makes you feel good";  Jesus said, "I will judge you by the fruits of your life and that will determine where you will spend eternity.”   The world says "eat, drink and merry" for tomorrow we die".  Jesus said, "Unless one is born again, they will not see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3).     So I ask you this morning,

 "Do you qualify to be called a "Radical Christian?" 



Friday, May 2, 2014

Panicked ? or Unaware?

"The will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of heaven will be shaken" (Luke 21:25-26).

Hey Gang:  I want you to know that I am blessed. I mean God has truly blessed my sox off.  I have a wife who loves me and is faithful to me, she even thinks I am a Knight on a White Stallion- and I can't even ride a horse.  Many years ago I did consent to ride one of the Village horses; they picked the one that looked the sleepiest.  About half way through the trail ride, ‘Sleepy decided it was time to take a nap and choose to lie down on the trail with me still in the saddle.  I considered that the ultimate insult, and have not graced a horse since – though I have fed, groomed and cared for many.

Getting back to blessings, on the day that I accepted God's challenge in Malachi 3:10-11 "To Bring the whole tithe into the store house, 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."       Hey, don't stop there, the best is yet to come;  "Then I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of the ground, nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes." says the Lord".

If you have been a steady morning message reader you have encountered this verse before.  I believe we are living in that time mentioned in Hebrews 12:26-29 when everything that can be shaken is going to be shaken and only those things which cannot be shaken will remain, for our God is a consuming fire". 

I believe most people of the world get a panicky feeling in the pit of their stomach when they read or hear the news each day.  If I did not know I was firmly fixed in my heavenly Father's heart, I would be much more anxious ridden than I am today.  But I read the last chapter - I know that God and His children win!   

At this year’s beginning I made a vow to myself that I would read five Psalms and one Proverb each day, a vow I am sorry to confess I have not kept very well.  Psalm 12:1 got my immediate attention.   Let these words speak to your heart: "Help, Lord for the godly man ceases to be, For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men.  They speak falsehood to one another; With flattering lips and with a double heart they speak" (12:1-2).  Now I ask you, is that not a perfect description of our country today.    

Soooo, fellow warriors, One does not have to be a super- brain child to see that our country is rapidly coming unglued from the roots up.  In other words, everything that can be shaken is being shaken.   But, Jesus said, “I want you to be aware of all that is going on.”  He was talking specifically to those who were safely in His ark of protection.

 He also said "But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."  (Lu. 21:28).  We know not at what time God is going to say "enough" and release His warring angels against our godless society but this we know - He will and all the signs tell us we are nearing that day.  Are you prepared?  Do you have your lamps filled with oil?  Is your armor in place and spit polished?  When He comes there will be no time to go to the nearest gas station and purchase oil.