Friday, July 29, 2016

Are You Standing On The Solid Rock?

 “Do you not know?  Have you not heard?   The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired.  His understanding is inscrutable.  He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might he increases power” 

“Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength;  They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.”  (Isaiah 40:28-31).

Hey Gang, take it from this very senior citizen, the alligators are sneaking ever closer.  There are going to be days when your back is against the wall; days when you are sure the sky is no longer about to fall but is falling.  I have shared that on many occasions, in my 27 years of being the exulted ruler of a treatment program for children, I made bad decisions, and I never completed a day as I had planned it.

But, if your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, you can be assured of the following: “Do not fear for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).

Wow, does that not get your thumper to thumping this morning? There are no words that one can add to God’s Word that would make sense, such as Isaiah’s words in the morning Scripture.  I don’t know about you, but I am ecstatic that God never becomes weary or tired, nor does He leave or forsake us even when we turn our backs on His leading and go our own way.

If ever there was a time when we need a God whose understanding is inscrutable, it is today.  If there was ever a time when we need God’s strength and power, it is today. 

The above verses have become a rock to my salvation, as I have moved into the Golden Years (Golden for the medical profession), along with many others.  I enjoy seeking those promises of God that are designed to be our refuge and strength.  Malachi gave us one of those verse when he wrote, “But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall” (Mal. 4:2).  Can you say hallelujah to that?

I can certainly vouch for the fact that there are many times when I just do not feel like jumping like a calf That is when it is time to make a decision, whether you will spend the day in the grumpies, or kick the “act of the will” into gear.  Satan hates the “act of the will” and will probably turn up the heat when you throw sand in his face.

That is when we need to get out the old songs from yesteryear and sing them as unto the Lord.  I love  Jesus Loves Me, This Little Light of Mine, and Lord Make Me a Sanctuary, but there is another that I find works every time to get my heart and mind back on the right path, the Isaiah 40:31 path. 

It goes like this: I’ve got the joy joy, joy, joy down in my heart, down in my heart, down in my heart, I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down m my heart, down in my heart to stay.  The devil does not like it but it’s down in my heart, down in my heart to stay.  I have the wonderful love of my blessed redeemed deep down in the depth of my heart down in my heart to stay.

What am I saying? “Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength;  They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary”  (Isaiah 40:28-31).  Bad day?  Sing to the Lord a new song!  



Wednesday, July 27, 2016

SIng to the Lord a Few Songs

“Sing for joy in the Lord, O you righteous ones; Praise is becoming to the upright.  Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre; Sing praises to Him with a harp of ten strings.  Sing to Him a new song; For the world of the Lord is upright, And all His work is done in faithfulness.  He loves righteousness and justice; The earth is full of the lovingkindness of the Lord” (Psa.  33:3-5).

Hey Gang:  I cut the grass today and did not miss a blade.   I love to cut the grass.  Does that sound
strange?  If I were to choose the day I complete this chore, it would be on a day when I was in a bummer mode.  Let me tell you why?

Reread the above Scripture again.  What do you think might have been going through the mind and
heart of the Psalmist when he wrote these words?   When I am mowing and the mower engine is
roaring, I am free to sing at the top of my lungs and it will not offend anyone.

I have no lyre or ten string harp to accompany me, nor did I sing to Him a new song.  As a matter of
 fact I tend to sing a trilogy when I am mowing.  The first is a song that I learned sitting under the
 teaching of one Ada Alloway, the song leader of our Sunday School.  It is one I hope will be sung at my
 going away party to the heavenlies titled “Jesus Loves Me”. 

It is also one that has tremendous truths that can fill your heart with the joy of the Lord.  I noticed my
 neighbors were all away, so I could belt it out with all my gusto- “Jesus loves me this I know”.  How do I
know?  The Bible tells we so.”  Wow, is it not awesome to know Jesus loves you and me?   

The second song I hope will be sung as I hear My Lord say “Well done, true and faithful servant, enter
the Kingdom of Heaven!” is “This Little Light of Mine.”  Every time it was my turn to request a song in
Sunday School I always requested the little chorus, “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine”.    

The third song that completes my trilogy of praise to Abba Father is a relatively new-comer when
compared to the first two, “Lord Make Me a sanctuary”.  It was only recently that God pointed out
to me that each song is a prerequisite to the next song: “Jesus Loves me this I know” is the foundation
truth to “This Little Light of Mine I am going to let it shine” and this, too, is a prerequisite to “Lord Make
Me a Sanctuary”.  

So my young friends If you ae having one of those bummer days just belt out a verse or two of ”Jesus
Loves Me” and follow it with a verse or two of “This Little Light of Mine” and cap it off with a few verse
of “Lord, Make me a Sanctuary”.

One last point: this is a diversionary tactic against the evil one!  I have learned that with each verse  
flowing from my inner most being, my joy increases, and we know that the joy of the Lord increases our
strength.  (Nehemiah 8:10  Try it.  It is a free weapon against evil one. Know when we voice the name of Jesus, the enemy cannot stand the heat and must flee!



Monday, July 25, 2016

One More TIme - Joy vs the Grumps! Part Four

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

Hey Gang:  Say after me: “For you will go out with joy and be led forth with peace; The mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you, And all the trees of the field will clap their hands” (Isa. 52:12).  Did you say it aloud with gusto?  Come on, try it again – like you had just been declared the winner!   Now, once again, connect it to the Scripture of the day and know God still has a plan for you this very day and is waiting for your willingness and deep desire to fulfill that plan.

Okay, I confess, I am trying to drive a couple Scripture verses into your computer hard drives, for I do believe with all my heart we are well established onto a road of woe and will need as much Scripture, filed in our hard drives that will carry us through the coming very tough days.  The secret is out- that has been my intention all along-  I wonder how successful I have been.  

 I suspect it has been an exercise much like the seed planting parable – some fell on rocky soil and did not take root, some among thistle and were forced out, and some feel on the road way and were trampled to death, but, I pray fervently that some fell in good soil and has taken root and growing.

Picking up where I left off in the last blog; What say ye?  Was Paul a man filed with joy?  There are some who do not feel so but how could you read Philippians and come away believing that he was not.   As I read and reread the letter to the Philippians, I am more convinced that Paul was `totally sold out to Christ” and one cannot be totally sold out to Yeshua without being filled with ‘joy’.   He did say, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). 

I believe with all my heart it is when we come to that point, in our walk with the Lord, that we begin to understand the “bond-servant” relationship with Jesus and we come into the “fullness of the Lord”.
Paul had come to the point where all believers must come – if we are going to be followers of Christ we must surrender lock, stock and barrel to Him.  It is then, and only then, that Christ is going to produce in us the glory that God designed for us.

As I read Philippians, one of the things that sticks out is Paul’s reference to ‘joy’.  I believe one can say that is the focus of the entire book.  There is no question one of the baseline fringe benefits of the Christian walk came into being when the veil of the Temple was rent from top to bottom and gave each of us direct access to the Throne Room of God. Paul made it clear that there is much joy in walking the Christ-filled walk.

In 1:3-4 Paul refers to the joy of Christian prayer“I thank God in all my remembrance of you always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you”.

In 1:18 He reminds us that there is great joy in Christ being preached.  To Paul there was no greater joy than to “Go into all the world and preach the Good News”.  (Matt. 28:19-20).

In 1:25 he refers to “joy in the faith”.  There is the joy of knowing that I am a ‘King’s Kid” and for “me to live is okay but to die and be with the Father” is gain.  Morbid? I think not.  Life on earth is short, and then off to eternity.  Is it not great for our hearts to be filed with joy in the knowing that we will one day be in His presence for all eternity?

In 2:2 Paul refers to the “joy of knowing that we are united not only with God but have the support of the body of Christ around us”.  I believe there is a sadness in Abba Father’s heart when He sees such disunity among those who say that are part of God’s family.

In 2:17 He declare that “even if I am being poured out as a drink offering….I rejoice and share my joy with you all”.

In 2:28 Paul declared there was joy of receiving news of loved ones, and in verse 2:29 he gives thanks for the joy of Christian hospitality.

In 3:1 Paul refers to the ‘joy’ in being a man of Christ.  His creed, ‘rejoice always and continue to rejoice’ no matter what the circumstances, that we consider it joy when we encounter trials and tribulations for, as James tells us, we grow stronger and more prepared for battle through experiencing stress in our lives.  We have God’s Word that “He will not let us be tempted beyond that which we can endure”.  ( I Cor 10:13) Is that not reason to shout hallelujah.

And in verse 4:1 is the joy of the man who won a soul lo Christ.   He referred to them as his “joy and crown”. 

Well, my friends, this turned out to be a wee bit lengthy, but it was time to wrap up the subject of joy and rejoicing and move on.  I pray my time was well invested and the series opened your eyes and understanding of being an overcomer.  Keep in mind JOY is a DECISION, and it is an irrevocable law of God – when we put the grungies to bed and turn loose our joy – our spirits rise and soar!!



Friday, July 22, 2016

Joy Verses- Part Three

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

Hey Gang:  Say after me- These things I have spoken unto you that my joy might remain in you, and your joy might be full (John 15:11).  Did you say it aloud with gusto?  Come on try it again – this time like you were at a football game and your team was winning.  Now, connect it to the Scripture of the day and know God has a plan for you this very day and is waiting for your willingness and deep desire to fulfill that plan. 

AS I have been researching the word  ”joy”,  I have found it is intricately  tied to the other attributes of the gifts of the Spirit.  God has also made clear that each of the gifts are equal in importance and, when we allow one of the gifts to erode, it opens the door for the enemy to develop a fifth column within our hearts and soul. 

Let me put some meat around that statement.  I have come to the conclusion that failure of a marriage relationship does not begin with lack of love- because love is a decision.  I choose to love you but I have a far greater problem in liking you when you fail to respect me.  One of the first danger signs of a failing marriage is the lack of joy.  This shows in a lack of patience and peace departing the relationship.   Gentleness, kindness and goodness follow suit into the trash can.

I believe John Smalley addressed this very issue with his Love Bank thesis:  That, if we are not in a constant depositing-mode into the Love Bank.  When a hole begins to develop in any one of the gifts   of the spirit, there will not be the assets in the bank to draw upon to quickly repair the damage.  It is not unusual to find marriages that have come unglued- not because of lack of love, but rather because there is no gentleness, no self-control, no kindness or any one of the gifts of God’s Spirit. 

Well, I could go on for a day or two on this subject but that is not where God seems to be taking me this morning.  But one point that should be mentioned when looking at the Love Bank thesis: when the alligators are rising and the rubber is hitting the road, keep in mind that God can only pull out of you what you have put in!  The logo of the banking industry “No deposit, No return” is certainly true.

We live in a time of universal depression.  More shrinks and counselors of various shapes and sizes than we have preachers and teachers of the Word.  More pills for depression are consumed than vitamins. 

Did you ever notice that the news broadcasters are deliverers of doom and despair? I call them the ‘but brigade’.  They report the stock market went up today but cannot leave it thee – they must add ‘but’ it is forecasted to go down.  The economy is good ‘but’ hang on folks for it is surely going to come down. 

We had the privilege of volunteering at a retirement village for missionaries who had spent more than thirty years of their lives in Africa.  Many had broken bodies and their strength had ‘got up and went,’ but there was a joy on that campus that surpassed human understanding. They were all pray-ers!  When one of the saints passed away, the Chaplain made this comment, “The people here finish well”.  I pray I will finish well.

As I close this epistle for the day, let me give you a question to chew on.  Do you think Paul was a man of joy?  When we read Romans and Corinthians he is bold and even confrontive.  In the epistles we find him in a teaching mode.  In Timothy and Thessalonians, he becomes a prophet and paints a picture of the Lord coming in glory.

But interwoven throughout all his writing we find a message of assurance that is ours in Christ Jesus.  His key to joy- “Don’t be conformed to the world, but be transformed”.  How? “By the renewing of your mind”.  Why?  “So that we may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2).

I really like the picture of Jesus in the Eagle Village Chapel.  It shows Jesus with His head back and laughter fills the air.  That is the Jesus I believe the little children and I want to be around.   


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Joy Verses -The Grumps, con't

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

Hey Gang:  Did you beat Satan to the punch, this morning?  Did you jump out of the rack and shout., “Good morning, Lord! Or did you crawl out of bed and murmur “Good Lord, Morning…”  As a house dad with sixteen very active teen-aged boys, I also learned that praise music playing, as they hit the floor, was a key ingredient as to how many confrontations I would have to referee before breakfast. 

I also learned when I started my day in the Word and conversation with God, it may not have reduced the number of confrontations I would face, but did give me the tools to use in dealing with those confrontations.  I learned early in my tenure as a shepherd to damaged sheep that balanced therapy was the key to sanity.  Chuck Swindoll wrote, “Crisis’ have a time-limit and your attitude can help determine how long they will last for “Greater is He that is you than He that is in the world” (I John 4:4).

While cutting wood one day, the gear mechanism in the splitter suddenly screeched and disintegrated.  It was an excellent time to enter the ‘O woe is me’ attitude but, just as I was turning up the ‘Let’s get depressed knob, a Pilate woodpecker began to sing his song, just a few trees down from me.  Now if you know anything about Pilates, you know they shun human attention; but God knew I needed a touch from Him at that moment.

This morning I want to spend a few minutes sharing an antidote to the ‘grubby times and darts of the enemy’ that tend to defeat us.  In Galatians 5:22-23 Paul gives us a listing of God’s fringe package and joy is the second of the package, right after love and right before peace.  When I make an active decision that I am going to fill my day with God’s love, His joy and His peace, I have a very good chance that I have a pretty good chance of having a day filled with victory! – Even when all things are being shaken.

This morning I want to zero in on the second, God’s joy factor.   First, we need to get to attributes of joy into our heart and mind, it is eternal; it was incorporated into creation! God said all that he created was good.  I have also learned that joy is a decision, as is love.    It is not based on feelings but on the promise and sovereignty of God.  Keep in mind one of Paul’s key phrases was, “Rejoice in the Lord and again I say rejoice.”  (Philippians 4:4). It is a decision on your part to follow his lead.

Joy is part of God’s fringe package that comes with God’s smorgasbord when we plug into His power supply.  Even in the midst of the fiery furnaces we can be joyful, knowing that He is in the midst of that experience. 
Remember the story of Moses on the mountain?  God had just told him He wanted Moses to go back to Egypt and Moses got into the “but” game.  “But” I have a price on my head; but, there are others more equipped to do that; but, I don’t talk so good.  God’s response, “What do you have in your hand?”  A rod.  “Throw it down.”   It turned into a serpent. “ Now pick I up by the tail.”  I suspect Moses might have done as told with a wee bit of concern.  He knew the power contained within that serpent was death but he obeyed. 

And God turned the serpent back into the rod but, there was a very significant difference – the serpent had been removed!

We are up to speed on what quality control is all about.  God showed us His quality control in this experience in Moses life.   Remember in the last blog, we were told to bring all that we have into God’s storehouse and he will make sure our needs will be met, and that is fan– tab u-lous!  But, “then” in the next verse is the really wondrous promise “then I will rebuke the devourer for you”. (Mal 3: 10-11).

Hey, folks, these are days filled with evilness.  We need to have our armor in place. We need to throw our rods on the ground and let Him take the serpent out of them, and we need to heed  “MY God shall supply all of your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:19). 

Keep in mind the ditty from the last blog: “God said, “Good morning, I am God, Today I will be handling all of your problems.  Please remember that I will not need your help today, so go and have a great day.  I will be supplying all of your needs according to my riches.  All you need to do is bring your tithe (meaning every jot and tittle) into the storehouse and let me dole it out as you need it”.
Also, keep in mind “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10).


Sunday, July 17, 2016

Joy Verses - The Grumps

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

Hey Gang:  Jay Leno wrote the following ‘quote of the month’- a year or three ago: “With hurricanes, tornadoes, fires out of control, mud slides, flooding, severe thunderstorms tearing up the country from one end to the other, and with the threat of bird flu, and terrorist attacks, are we sure this is a good time to take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance?”

I believe God also gave us a “quote” but, not of the month but for that time which He referred to as the  Latter Days or the Last Days found in Hebrews `12:26-29: “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven.”  This expression “Yet once more,” denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, ‘so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.  Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe.  For our God is a fire”.

After watching the morning news over my second cup of coffee this morning and listening to the up- date on the truck/semi in France that took the lives of more than eighty people, the uprising in Turkey that took the lives of over a hundred and sixty people and the concern on the part of the law enforce-ment agencies in Cleveland, pertaining to coming convention, my blood pressure tapped me on the shoulder and said, “enough”.

After cranking up my computer I ask the Lord where He would have me go his morning.  I believe He whispered in my ear “Lighten Up”.   Most folks are wound too tight.  We spend far too much of our lives on the clinkers that we find in the road.  News that someone we love is sick, not enough money to meet the needs of the day, too many things to do and not enough time and energy to do them.  We soon begin to feel, worn out, depressed and that shakes down in feelings of defeat.  Been there and done that!

It brought memories of those first years in the development of the Village when I found myself running in a skillion different directions, never enough time, never enough staff, never enough money and never enough time to meet even those things that were on the “critical must do” list. 

How many know, when you are up to your armpits in alligators, there is no time to drain the swamp.  It was after one of the harrowing days when I came across a little ditty that became my refuge and gave me strength.  It goes like this, and I suggest you copy it and put it someplace that is readily available to read, for this is truly the day when “all is being shaken”.   

It goes like this “God morning, I am God., Today I will be handling all of your problems.  Please remember that I will not need your help today, so go and have a great day.  I will be supplying all of your needs according to my riches.  All you need to do is bring your tithe (meaning your everything) into the storehouse and let me dole it out a you need it

And, on top of that, I will “Rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of the ground, nor will our vine in the field cast its grape,” says the Lord of hosts” (Mal. 3:11). 

Now, before you close this down for the day, reread the morning Scripture one more time and get Jeremiah’s words firmly into your heart, mind and Gizzard: “God morning, I am God., Today I will be handling all of your problems.  Please remember that I will not need your help today, so go and have a great day.”



Friday, July 15, 2016

Anchors Away, My Friends!

“Then 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” (Gen. 2:7).

Hey Gang:  I recently had the pleasure to return to the Air Force Museum at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio and make contact with four years of my past.  This was not my first trip back to one of my roots and, I suspect, if we lived just down the road from the Base, I would go there weekly.   

Walking through the memorial garden is a sacred experience for me for there are benches, among all of the other plaques, monuments and benches commemorating the warriors who flew the great birds that are housed on this campus; many of whom gave their lives in protecting our nation.  There is a very special one that honors my brother’s graduating class when gaining his wings. 

Most of these honorees have completed their tenure on earth; more than half departed this earth in protecting the land they loved, with a lay down your life love.  

I love to read the multitudes of very special stories about special people in the military.  This morning my bride gave me this story that rung my bell- for it is about a flat top, better known as an air craft carrier.  My second brother served on the US Midway and USS Coral Sea during his tenure in the Navy, so stories of flat tops are important to me. In many ways they were instrumental in the defeat of the Japanese in the WWII.

It is my privilege to share it with you and I pray it will ring your bell as it did mine.  “The crew snapped to attention as Nancy Reagan took her place with the dignitaries on deck.  She had come to Norfolk, Virginia, to put into commission the Aircraft Carrier named in tribute to her husband, President Ronald Reagan.  The ship was home to six thousand sailors, carried more than eighty aircraft, and with two nuclear reactors, could operate for twenty years without refueling.  “I have only one line to say,” Mrs. Reagan said as she waved to the cheering crowd:  “Man the ship and bring her to life!”

“Aye, aye, ma’am!”  The captain responded as he gave the salute.  Sailors rushed to their posts.  Anything that whistled, whistled.  Anything that turned, turned.  The USS Ronald Reagan had come alive and would stay “at ready” until the day she was retired.

As I read this narrative of what happened that day, I was reminded that God used only one line to bring us to life: “Let us make man in our image after our likeness” (Gen. 1:26).

 Wow, is that not awesome?   Did you ever truly stop, put all else out of your mind and zero in on the fact that “You and I were formed in the exact image of God? That when I look at you, I know what God looks like because we are in His exact image.

Should that not give us a compulsion to protect this house into which that God placed our soul?  Fay Angus, who wrote the description of the dedication of the Reagan Carrier for Daily Guideposts, also wrote, “He, God, set into motion the amazing spins and whistles of all that we are – body, mind, soul and spirit.  With the Scriptures as our compass, empowered by the energy of the Holy Spirit (not for twenty years but for eternity) our earthly vessel is ‘at ready.’   We are commissioned into the service of our Commander in Chief until, in His good time, we, too, are retired from duty”.

Yes, I will continue to return to Wright Patterson because of my tremendous respect for those warriors who have gone before me and provided for me the freedoms to worship the Lord as my King of kings and Lord of lords. But, my heart yearns for the day when I will be with my eternal Commander and Chief for all eternity. 



Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Are You A Laser Light or A Twenty Watt Bulb?

“You are the light of the world.  A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.”  (Matt. 5:13-14).

Hey Gang:  In Gramps last Morning Message you were ‘salt that reflects your relationship with Father God’; today you are that light that reflects your love for Abba Father.  The two are essential ingredients in your “Go into all the world and preach or witness the gospel.”   Having driven home the point that we are to be salt, Jesus now turns His attention to our need to also be Christ-filled witnesses.

It may well be said that the greatest compliment that was ever paid to a Christian is to be called “the light of the world”.   Jesus said, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.  (John 9:5).  In other words, when He taught that His followers should be the “light of the world”, He was teaching them to be “Like Him”.   

When Jesus used this phrase it was familiar to the Jews.  They often referred to Jerusalem as “a light to the Gentiles,” and a famous Rabbi was often called “a lamp of Israel”.   But they were also adamant that no man kindles his own light!  Without our being connected to God’s power supply, our light will be like a hot ember that is taken from the fire, laid aside and soon loses is power.

The radiance that shines from the Christian comes from the presence of Christ within the Christian’s heart, and that requires ongoing maintenance under God in His tutoring program.   

Jesus completed his teaching on “Letting your light shine” with another challenge Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven (V.16).  The Greek word used here for ‘good’ not only means that our works should not only be seen, but also they should be beautiful, attractive and filled with God’s love and compassion. 

These are very dark days when one has to search to find folks who are filled with God’s salt, and God’s light.  In this day, when we see man’s cruelty to man all around us, we need take heed of John’s words: “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 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 So cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 6-7).

So, my friends who are in Christ, is your light as one that is on a hilltop?  One that can be seen by the world?  Or is it hidden under bucket?  As you progress through your day, at you a light that radiates God’s love.  In other words, are you a seed planter of hope to a lost and dying world?    Have you prepared for this day by plugging into God’s battery charger, which is the word of God?



PS Good read!
Matthew 5:13-16 The Message (MSG) Salt and Light
13 “Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.

14-16 “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Hey, Pass the Salt!

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again?  It is no longer good for anything, except to the thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. “ (Matt. 5:13).

Hey Gang:  In His teachings on the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus had just completed His teaching on the Beatitudes.  He had just challenged his disciples: “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great (Matt. 5:12a).”.   Notice, He did not say, your reward on earth will be great. 

He then went on and told his inner most circle, the twelve apostles, “You are the salt of the earth” (vs. 13a).    In my trips to the Holy Land one of the great fringe benefits that God has blessed me with is a better understanding of His Word.  Before my first trip to Israel I would not have asked the question, what do you mean, the salt became tasteless?  What did Jesus mean when He said, you are the salt of the earth

Salt was a very important commodity in the Jesus’ day.  The Greeks called it divine. It was often used for payment for services rendered or passed down from generation to generation.  But in this case it had a different meaning.  The houses were very small, usually with only one window.  To build an oven inside would have driven the occupants out, due to the heat and odor of cooking.

So they built their ovens outside between the house and walkway. The oven was an adobe-like domed hut.  On the floor of the hut they placed a layer of salt to reflect the heat up, so as to bake their breed.  After several bakings the salt would begin to lose its reflective power, was removed and replaced by a new layer of salt.  The old salt was thrown into the roadway making a hard pathway.

The lesson Jesus taught that day had a far deeper meaning than the idiosyncrasies of salt.  It was that, as children of Yeshua, we are to be a reflection of Him in all we say and do. 

So, my dear friends, each time you pick up the salt shaker remember that you are a reflector, a reflector of God’s gift to you, His Son Jesus Christ.  And one day, I believe in the not too distant future, we will stand before the Lord and answer the question “Were you a reflection of my Son, Jesus? 



Thursday, July 7, 2016

What In The World Is A YOKE?

 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and You will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30).

Hey Gang:   There are growing numbers of people who believe my bride and I are completely off our rockers.  You see, four or five times per year we drive to the Blue Gate Restaurant for breakfast. Why weird?  Because the Blue Gates happens to be in Shipshewana, Indiana some 130 miles from our abode.

You see about a thousand years ago, (really more like 50 years ago) I had the privilege of living in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and working for the Cream Top Dairy picking up milk from fifty three Amish farms.  I would like to share some of the wonderful experiences I had and the vast education I received from the Millers, Bontragers, Zooks,and the Yoders, but will save that for another day.

If you know anything about Amish country you know that the horse is the main source of power.  I especially enjoy our Spring trip to Shipshe, for the farmers have their four to six horse teams of Clydesdales or Perc Heian Work horses working in unison preparing the fields for harvest.  In many cases it is the eldest teen age boy in the family who is driving these massive horses.

In my earlier trips to Amish country I was surprised to note that there were no yokes, and even collars are now used basically for decorations.  If you are grey haired and part of the older that dirt brigade, you may know what a yoke is but,” if the question, “What is a yoke? would appear on the final exam, most would not a clue what it was. 

Webster defines the word as “a wooden frame for harnessing together a pair of oxen; a word meaning bondage or servitude, or something that binds.  I suspect Jesus is referring to all three of these definitions  when He said, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light”.  (Matt. 11:29-30).  (Remember he was a carpenter and had made many yokes for oxen.) 

 While stationed in Korea I learned about ‘yokes’ and saw them in action. They are a very familiar sight where teams of oxen are used to work the rice paddies.  To watch them struggling with the yoke makes one wonder what Jesus really meant when He said, “My yoke is easy”. 

I found a neat little ditty in a book titled 199 Reasons To Be Thankful which adds some clarity to what I believe Jesus was saying.  God’s yoke is easy; His burden is light; for He’s the one carrying the weight! 

When you’re going through a time when the alligators are especially active, He longs for you to hand over the heavy lifting to Him.  He is able to bear what you cannot.  The Word in Nahum 1:7 gives us this assurance “The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who take refuge in Him.”  The Psalmist wrote “The Lord is My Shepherd, I shall not want.”  (Psa. 23:1)  How deeply do you believe that?



Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Do You Have a Date Planer?

“As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God”. (I Peter 4:10)  We tend to stop there but Peter seldom gives us a principle without giving us the practical application to go with it.  His next words clarify this point, “Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; who-ever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (v.11).

Hey Gang:  NOW HEAR THIS!  Peter says, “Each of you has received a very special gift to use to serve others.”  Max Lucado puts it this way: “There is only so much sand in the hourglass and we must decide who will get it.”  

Here is some food for thought from an evangelist by the name of Frank Constantine who wrote a book titled Holes in Time.  He stated there is no question in his mind that he was programed by God, at birth, to fulfill a plan that God had established for him. Constantine states in the book, “ I choose a route that was counter to that very call, a pathway that lead to an isolation cell in a nasty Georgia Prison.” 

One night he/Frank had a visitation from God who informed him that he had been programed to carry God’s message to a multitude of people, many of whom were lost and floundering because he/Frank.did not fulfill his program.  That night he/Frank knelt beside his concrete mattress and sought God’s forgiveness and committed his life to Christ.

Shortly thereafter a miracle occurred in Frank’s life, His sentence was committed and he was released, much to the chagrin of the legal system that thought they had put him in a place they would never see his name on a police plotter again! Frank surrendered and God retooled him into a very effective evangelist.

Each of us has something to give. We can give our money and our time to charity, be a friend to someone who is sick or lonely, do volunteer work, or be a peacemaker, teacher or minister. We may give unselfishly of our time to our spouse, children or parents. We may choose a service-oriented occupation, or we may just do our everyday jobs with integrity and respect for others.

The apostle Paul phrased it this way: ”We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully” (NIV, Romans 12:5-8).

In my NASB rendition of the Word Matthew 25:31-40 is given a sub title “The Judgment”.  We are told “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne and all the nations will be gathered before Him.  He will separate them one from another, the sheep on His right and the goats on His left.”

Then He will say to those on His right, “Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world”.  Notice Jesus criteria for being on the right: “I was hungry, and you fed me”; I was thirsty, and you gave me drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in; naked, and you clothed Me; sick, and you visited Me; in prison, and you came to Me”. (vs. 35-37). But when did I do this Lord? The King will answer “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.” (vs. 40).

You will have opportunity today, perhaps within the hour, even before you leave your home for your day’s labor, to be a “Seed Planter” for the Lord.  I pray that each who reads this morning message will be able to say, “Yes, Lord, I did all of these things because of my love for You.”  Careful, friends, do not let an opportunity to be a seed planter this day pass you by.



Monday, July 4, 2016

A Time For Joy!

A Promise:  For I am confident of this very thing that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” ((Phil. 1:6).  And that my friends you can take to the bank!

Hey Gang:  “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen. 1:1).  And then He turned man loose and man turned it into a superficial world.  We now live in a world where we often miss the wonderful hidden pearls that God so bountifully placed all around us.  This morning I watched the sun come up, as it has every day since He created it.  Is that not awesome?  Did you ever stop to say “Thank you Father God for gravity”? 

Do we not take things for granted in this affluent world?  With the rising of the sun came the sounds of birds, and the blowing of the wind through the trees.  Our resident rabbit is pigging out in the back yard, as he does many days.  I think it is one of God’s very special blessings for us as we start our day. A bird just flew by the window.  I wonder if he knows where he is going.

 I think perhaps he does for he does not seem to be weaving from place to place.  It is one of God’s other creations – man, who contains the ability to reason and think about what seem to be going in circles for much of his life. 

This time in the morning has become very special to me. Getting alone with the Master Designer of all that we survey is a good way to start the day.  I have come to the place where, when I cannot spend this hour or so with the Lord to begin my day, my day does not go so well.  Perhaps that is because I have joined the “older than dirt” crowd and my mind is no longer interested in what I can get out of life to what I can give.

So I pray this morning that I will be able to share Paul’s antidote to the grubby times and darts of the enemy that tend to defeat us.  The antidote, ‘JOY’.  How we get it – ‘an act of our will’.  In 1 Thessalonians 16 Paul gives us the formula to being an overcomer, ‘Rejoice always’.  Hard, yes, at times nearly impossible.  If that does not work, Paul tells us in Philippians 4:4 to turn up the heat and “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say rejoice” for the Lord is ever near to us. 

The key to rejoicing? “Pray without ceasing”.  Know what your weapons are and use them freely.  James  tells us “Submit therefore to God, Resist the devil and he will flee from you draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:7-8).

Paul’s third key to victory “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (verse 18).  I find the next instruction by Paul to be lacking in much of the generations that occupy planet earth at this time, “Do not quench the spirit or despise prophetic utterances” (vs. 19-20).   If you were to examine the recent studies pertaining the spiritual life of a growing number of persons in America, you find there is a steady diet of quenching the spirit in every facet of life. 

Rejoice, pray, give thanks in all things, don’t despise prophetic utterances, and abstain from doing evil equals “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 our Lord Jesus Christ.” (verse 22-23).

Bottom line: “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”   Is that not what we await for in this day when all things that can be shaken are being shaken?  



Friday, July 1, 2016

Seventeen Inches!!

I found this short read a very thoughtful, telling and philosophically sound parable for us to unknown.

Seventeen Inches - Well Worth The Read.

 In Nashville, Tennessee, during the first week of January, 1996, more than 4,000 baseball coaches descended upon the Opryland Hotel for the 52nd annual ABCA convention. While I waited in line to register with the hotel staff, I heard other more veteran coaches rumbling about the lineup of speakers scheduled to present during the weekend.  One name, in particular, kept resurfacing, always with the same sentiment — “John Scolinos is here?  Oh man, worth every penny of my airfare.”

Who is John Scolinos, I wondered.  Well, in 1996 Coach Scolinos was 78 years old and five years retired from a college coaching career that began in 1948. No matter, I was just happy to be there.

He shuffled to the stage to an impressive standing ovation, wearing dark polyester pants, a light blue shirt, and a string around his neck from which a home plate hung — a full-sized, stark-white home plate. Pointed side down. Seriously, I wondered, who is this guy?

After speaking for twenty-five minutes, not once mentioning the prop hanging around his neck, Coach Scolinos appeared to notice the snickering among some of the coaches. Even those who knew Coach Scolinos had to wonder exactly where he was going with this, or if he had simply forgotten about home plate since he’d gotten on stage.

Then, finally …
“You’re probably all wondering why I’m wearing home plate around my neck.  Or maybe you think I escaped from Camarillo State Hospital,” he said, his voice growing irascible. I laughed along with the others, acknowledging the possibility.
“No,” he continued, “I may be old, but I’m not crazy. The reason I stand before you today is to share with you baseball people what I’ve learned in my life, what I’ve learned about home plate in my 78 years.”
Several hands went up when Scolinos asked how many Little League coaches were in the room. “Do you know how wide home plate is in Little League?” After a pause, someone offered, “Seventeen inches,” more question than answer.

“That’s right,” he said. “How about in Babe Ruth? Any Babe Ruth coaches in the house?” Another long pause. “Seventeen inches?” came a guess from another reluctant coach.

“That’s right,” said Scolinos. “Now, how many high school coaches do we have in the room?” Hundreds of hands shot up, as the pattern began to appear. “How wide is home plate in high school baseball?” “Seventeen inches,” they said, sounding more confident.

“You’re right!” Scolinos barked. “And you college coaches, how wide is home plate in college?”  “Seventeen inches!” we said, in unison.

“Any Minor League coaches here? How wide is home plate in pro ball?”
“Seventeen inches!” “RIGHT! And in the Major Leagues, how wide home plate is in the Major Leagues?” “Seventeen inches!”

“SEV-EN-TEEN INCHES!” he confirmed, his voice bellowing off the walls.
“And what do they do with a Big League pitcher who can’t throw the ball over these seventeen inches?” Pause. “They send him to Pocatello!” he hollered, drawing raucous laughter.

“What they don’t do is this: they don’t say, ‘Ah, that’s okay, Bobby. You can’t hit a seventeen-inch target? We’ll make it eighteen inches, or nineteen inches. We’ll make it twenty inches so you have a better chance of throwing the ball over it.  If you can’t hit that, let us know so we can make it wider still, say twenty-five inches.’”

“Coaches …”

” … what do we do when our best player shows up late to practice?  What do we do if he violates curfew?  What if he uses drugs? Do we hold him accountable?  Or do we change the rules to fit him?  Do we widen home plate?

The chuckles gradually faded as four thousand coaches grew quiet, the fog lifting as the old coach’s message began to unfold.  Then he turned the plate toward himself and, using a Sharpie, began to draw something.  When he turned it toward the crowd, point up, a house was revealed, complete with a freshly drawn door and two windows.

“This is the problem in our homes today.  With our marriages, with the way we parent our kids.  With our discipline.  We don’t teach accountability to our kids, and there is no consequence for failing to meet standards.  We widen the plate!”

 Then, to the point at the top of the house he added a small American flag.
“This is the problem in our schools today.  The quality of our education is going downhill fast and teachers have been stripped of the tools they need to be successful….to educate and discipline our young people.  We are allowing others to widen home plate!  Where is that getting us?”

“And this is the problem in the Church, where powerful people in positions of authority have taken advantage of young children, only to have such an atrocity swept under the rug for years.  Our church leaders are widening home plate!”

I was amazed.  At a baseball convention where I expected to learn something about curveballs and bunting and how to run better practices, I had learned something far more valuable.  From an old man with home plate strung around his neck, I had learned something about life, about myself, about my own weaknesses and about my responsibilities as a leader. I had to hold myself and others accountable to that which I knew to be right, lest our families, our faith, and our society continue down an undesirable path.

“If I am lucky,” Coach Scolinos concluded, “you will remember one thing from this old coach today.  It is this: if we fail to hold ourselves to a higher standard, a standard of what we know to be right; if we fail to hold our spouses and our children to the same standards, if we are unwilling or unable to provide a consequence when they do not meet the standard; and if our schools and churches and our government fail to hold themselves accountable to those they serve, there is but one thing to look forward to …”

With that, he held home plate in front of his chest, turned it around, and revealed its dark black backside.

“… dark days ahead.”

Coach Scolinos died in 2009 at the age of 91, but not before touching the lives of hundreds of players and coaches, including mine.  Meeting him at my first ABCA convention kept me returning year after year, looking for similar wisdom and inspiration from other coaches.  He is the best clinic speaker the ABCA has ever known because he was so much more than a baseball coach.

His message was clear: “Coaches, keep your players — no matter how good they are — your own children, and most of all, keep yourself at seventeen inches."