Friday, December 30, 2016

Protection For Troubles TImes

 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” (Psa 23:4)

Hey Gang:  Did you know “…man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Mat. 4:4).  Does that mean that, if we seek His Word He will reveal it to me personally?  You beat your sweet bippy that is what it means!  Peter put it this way “As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious” (I Peter 2:2). 

Wow, that is pure milk to the soul.  Stop for minute, before the day begins to fill you brain with the mundane things of the world and write these words down on a card or the palm of your hand: “Your Word, my Lord is like milk and honey to my soul”. 

I pray you will hear the words of a battled scared old dude who has been around the mountain a few times when I say – I can measure the peaks and valleys of my life by the times I let God take control of my life and the times when I said, “Okay God, I can take it from here.”  

 Isaiah nailed it down in Chapter 53:6 when he wrote: “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way”.  Now turn up your dome of intellect a notch before reading the final phrase of this verse, “For the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him”. 

Wow, can you beat that!  He carried every sin, every iniquity, and every transgression to the cross on his back.  I have heard many say they wish they could wash away the mistakes they made in their past.  If that is you, wish no more, for the price has been paid in full. That is what the cross is all about – forgiveness and being washed as white as snow.  Neat – heh! 

So good folks, be advised that when you run into a clinker in the road today, or tomorrow, or perhaps you will luck out and make it to next week – but this I know, Satan has his dart machine loaded and will watch your every step and every thought and fire when he knows you have left your armor in the closet.  But know this also, God has provided a hedge of protection to protect His children from the evil on’.s attacks! – His Word. His Name. His Armor and His Presence.

NOTE: special post Saturday- on the UN vote vs Israel


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Word That Placed America in Jeopardy!

“Now the Lord said to Abram., Go forth from your country, And from your relatives and from your father’s house, To the land which I will show you; And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you. And make your name great; And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse.  And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Gen. 12:1-3).

Hey Gang, I pray you will forgive me this morning but I feel like I am busting inside and need to get some things off my chest.  So let me do some rambling and, if it gets to heavy, or something that you really do not want to hear, just hit the delete button.

 I have used the illustration of John Poole in other blogs, where at the end of a powerful salvation message he challenged those who did not know the Lord to surrender their lives to Christ.  A man in the middle of the auditorium began to shout, “Somethings fixen to happen”.  He said it over and over again and it kind of got into John’s gizzard but the longer the gent shouted this the more it moved from his gizzard to his excitement meter and Poole began to shout, “I don’t know when it’s fixen to happen but I am fixen to be part of it. “

And what is that word?  Abstain!  For the first time in America’s history, America turned its back on the only true friend we had in the world.  Barack Hussain Obama did it, despite enormous pressure from the government of Israel, President-elect Donald Trump and members of his own party in Congress, Barack Hussain Obama decided to stick a knife in Israel’s back at the United Nations.  

What that means in legalese language is “The UN Security Council adopted a resolution that calls for a “two-state solution based on the 1967 lines” and that shockingly states that “the establishment of Israel  settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since `1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and must go”.  For decades, the U.S. veto power on the UN Security ‘council has shielded Israel from these types of resolutions, but this time around Obama decided to betray Israel by allowing this vote to pass.  Needless to say, this vote is going to have enormous implications for Israel, for the United States, and for the entire globe.

Several days ago, when there was much rhetoric filling the airways as to whether Barack Hussain Obama  was going to follow his predecessors and veto this resolution or take revenge against a person he has proven that he distained, throughout his presidency by shoving the knife into the back of our ally, I read  an article titled “The Real Reason Why America Had Been Given A Reprieve” 

In that article the writer presented a rather compelling case as to why we have been spared.  Simply stated, because we have always protected Israel’s back with our veto power.  But what about now? 
In 2008, William Koenig penned a book that he titled Eye to Eye, subtitled “Facing the consequences of dividing Israel”, in which he listed 45 catastrophic events and 12 lessor events that occurred in our nation after demands where placed on Israel to give up covenant land.  In my humble opinion, none, not a single one, even comes close to comparing to any of the 57 catastrophic events of the past Friday before Christmas/Hunakkah!

In the past months, as the pre-election fiasco was at its grubbiest peak, I was able to keep the anxiety levels are a minimal level by simply not tuning in on the news.   Add to this the periodic prophetic messages that came across the computer suggested there would be a miracle on election day.

Does that mean I was free of anxiety.? Not by a long shot.  As we neared the end of our current occupant of the Oval Office and knowing there was movement afoot to bring the Israel-Palestinian issue to a vote in the United Nations, and knowing that the rumor-mill was filed with growing suggestions that our president would support the resolution that demanded Israel return to the 1967 borders!  Now that folks is cause for concern, with the full knowledge of God’s warning when we made such suggestions before.  But this was not a suggestion, this was a pure act of betrayal against a nation that has been our ally since its inception in 1948.    

But even more profound it was a betrayal against God!   Joel made that very clear when he wrote: ”Then I will enter into judgment with them here on behalf of My people and My inheritance, Israel, Whom they have scattered among the nations;  And they have divided up My land” (Joel 3:2B). 

But even before Joel spoke these words, go back to Genesis and read these words: “And I will make you (Israel) a great nation and I will bless you.  And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse, And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Gen. 12:2-3).

This has not been a nice morning message following Christmas, but we do have a mighty God who has promised that He will take care of those who humble themselves before Him, pray diligently, seek God until you lock into His ways, and put off the things that offend the Lord. (2 Chron. 7:14).  I close with a promise from God through Paul “And we know that God causes all thigs to work together for good to those whole God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28)  Are you locked into His purposes?



Sunday, December 25, 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 Light-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 and laid aside and soon loses its 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 challengeL “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 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 word “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 cleanses us from all sin” (I John 1:6-7).

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 a bucket?  As you progress through your day, are 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?



Saturday, December 24, 2016

For Unto You Was Born on the Distant Christmas Day A Savior

“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow” (James 12:17).

Dear family, friends and neighbors, as we near that day set by man that we celebrate the birthday of our Lord, that you will take some time alone and give thanks for the gifts that God gave to us through His Son Jesus Christ.  Keep in mind that when Jesus came to earth as a man and suffered and died on the cross so that you could be reconciled to God, He had you in mind, even though you had not been created yet.  

Luke put it this way: “And human hands can’t minister to His needs, for He has no needs!  He Himself gives life and breath to everything, and satisfies every need there is” (17:25 Living New Testament). 

The most memorized verse in the Bible lays the very foundation for God’s love for His creation and His desire that none should perish but have everlasting life with Him, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). It is also the most profound verse in the Bible.

The greatest gift – He gave Himself.  Our greatest gift  – to give ourselves to Him and those He sends our way.  He gave us life so that we would have something very precious to give to Him. And He gives us abundantly, more than we need, so that we can share those blessings with others who are not as blessed as we are.

I have learned that when I give to others the presence of God flows through the giver in compassion, which is love in action.    And I have also found that the greatest of all gifts is not purchased at Macy’s but rather words of comfort to those in stress, a casserole dish to someone who is too ill to prepare dinner, or shoveling the walk of the shut in next door.
And a neat promise of God, is the giver is always blessed more than the receiver. 

When you give, expecting nothing in return blessings are sent from the throne room of heaven.  The first blessing will be the joy of the Lord saying ‘thank you.’   Matthew put it this way, “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.” (25:40). 

The year has truly been one of blessing on top of blessing.  When you reach  that eighth decade plateau and you can cut, split and stack twelve cord of wood and go to the Arava of Israel and work for two weeks, plus do the multitude of things necessary to keep the ship afloat, you realize how very blessed you have been.  Our prayer is that you too  had a great year and that Abba Father has blessed your sox off.   Take a minute or two and look for those Jesus moments that He blesses us with.

So my family, friends and neighbors, I pray you will take a few minutes each day and thank the Father for the blessings that we so often take for granted and as you prepare for the sharing of gifts on Christmas morning, keep in mind the greatest of all gifts was not made with human hands, but comes from the Father of Lights, THE GIFT OF SALVATION and eternity with the Lord.

Our Christmas Card to you with our love and prayers,

Gramps and Gma

Friday, December 23, 2016

From Miracles to Blahs!

"But Mary treasured all these things pondering them in her heart.  The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them".  (Luke 2:19-20)  

Hey Gang:  When I was a little squeezer, the time from Thanksgiving to New Years was "out of sight".  It was a time for digging the platforms and Christmas trimmings out of the cubby hole on the third floor of our house, lugging them down two flights of stairs to the living room, and taking out each peace with loving care.  It was an exciting exercise! Each year, as I grew older, I was allowed to be more involved in the building of the little Villages and putting up the trains.   

We had a tradition that was handed down from my Dad's family: the tree did not go up until the little ones were tucked away in their beds on Christmas eve, awaiting the arrival of Saint Nick.  I was never quite sure how Dad trimmed the tree and set it in the middle of the platform without stepping on the houses, but he did. 

There were other wonderful things that happened in that time period.  It was the choosing of who would be in the Christmas Pageant at the church, and then rehearsals two and three times a week.  I have since come to the conclusion it was not the involvement in the play that made it so special, but the fellowship and fun, even though there were times when Mrs. Holiday got on our case because we were not as focused as she wanted.    

No doubt the script of our Christmas Pageant was based on the stories told in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.  These accounts tell of the action surrounding the birth of Jesus Christ.  But the Gospel of John cuts through these descriptive accounts and simply tells the significance of what happened.  John's account provides no opportunity to fall into sentimentality or nostalgia about Christmas.  Neither does it lend itself well to pageants on Christmas Eve.

John minces no words. He jumps to the chase and tells us,  "The Word, who was God, was made flesh".  I sense he wanted to make it as clear as humanly possible that Jesus was really and truly a man who subjected himself to the miseries and calamities of the human nature.  God became flesh!  That is really the purpose for this season; Jesus left the Father to become like us.  Do you think He ever wondered if that was such a good idea?

The final days of preparation arrived and we did a walk though, They called it a ‘dress rehearsal’.  Not sure why because we were not dressed in what we would wear the nights of the performances.  Opening night was a very high point in my year.  Wow, was it neat to see the cars coming from all over the city to see the Nativity play.   Our sanctuary only seated 150 people but they could open the back doors and seat another 75.  Each night the church was packed.

 I never graduated beyond the shepherd level, which was just a very small step from being a sheep.  This role was given to all children who were too young to play the glamorous characters like Mary, Joseph, angels, and wise men.  There must have been at least a dozen of us traipsing and tripping down the aisle of the church each night.  I remember that my turban was an actual bath towel and my robe was the same bed sheet that had formerly transformed me into a ghost on Halloween.

On the final night they served a banquet, or I thought it was a  banquet.  Today, I am not sure wieners and hamburgers quality as feast--food .  And, at the end of the feast, we donned our coats and visited all the shut ins in our church and sang Christmas Carols and wished them a Merry Christmas. One year a local farmer provided a horse and wagon which was neat.

And then it was over for another year.  As I hung up my sheet, and put my staff in the corner for another year, I prayed that next year I would be elevated to one of the real key player positions, but tragedy struck our church that year.  The church board, after much prodding, decided the church really needed an organ to increase our level of songs and praise.  To make the long story very short - a war broke out between two factions in the church about who was going to play it.

 It would have been better if they would have called the Body together and torched the organ - You know what happens when power and pride get involved in God's work.  It not only split the church but also took the heart out of those who did not give a hoot who played the organ.  One might have gotten the idea there was some sort of plague in the church, for people were bailing out faster than if someone yelled "fire" .  The church died the day the truck pulled up and delivered the organ - from more than 200 regulars to 45.  

Soooo, I still have a sadness in my heart that I never had the opportunity to move up and be a king or a Magi, or even reach the pinnacle of the Church Nativity Program - to be Joseph the father of Messiah - wow, would that have been neat!  But the bottom line is – Jesus came and paid the debt for you and me. Praise You Lord for You came! God in Flesh!

Jesus left His place, to come to my place, to die in my place, to take me to His place.

Blessings, means that I pray God to impart his supernatural favor on those of you who read this blog. (Psalm 90:17

Check tomorrow - Sat for our Christmas Card to you!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

A Child, but a Very Special Child!

 “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6).

Hey Gang, There is no doubt that the Christmas story is filled with wonder and awe. It fills young and old with delight that is even more enjoyable and amazing because it is all true! I found the following quips about Christmas somewhere in my travels, and would share them with you this morning. 

Shepherds, at the bottom of the social fabric of that time, were entertained and blessed by a choir of angels that filled the night with glory and hope. Mysterious Wise Men from the East followed a star that brought them to Bethlehem, where they worshipped and presented gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the new born King.

Then there is the centerpiece of the story; a young couple, she was probably still teenager, who were uniquely chosen to bring the Christ-child into the world. They faced a challenge of faith and courage that was undergirded by angelic visitations! Mary, the young virgin maiden, was with child without ever knowing a man before marriage; an outward looking scandal by any stretch of the imagination. Then there was Joseph, who had to endure the gossip and “whispering” of a community who knew nothing of the angelic announcement heralding the birth of Jesus.

More sinister still was Herod’s plot to kill the child and, by so doing, frustrate the will and purpose of God for world redemption. The Christmas story is truly beautiful, amazing and thought provoking. For Christians, it teaches us:

That Christmas is worth celebrating, since all of Heaven did so and gave beautiful voice to the wondrous events as they were unfolding in Bethlehem. The Gospels of Matthew and Luke devote lengthy passages to this story of wonder and great joy. We should do the same.

That Christmas is the hope of the world. God became man and did so to save us from our sins and give us a new beginning. The message is ever the same: peace and goodwill to all the world, a peace and goodwill which has to be appropriated individually by repentance and faith in the finished work of the Son of God on the cross.

That Christmas has a unique message, as noted by the gifts delivered to the Christ-child by the Magi from the East. Gold was a tribute to his identity- He is King of the Jews and the King of Kings of all the world; Frankincense, a priestly connection, meant his life would be pleasing to God and sinless. And myrrh foreshadowed that he would die for the sins of world – for any who would repent and accept His salvation. This is because myrrh was a burial ointment that was used to prepare the body for its final resting place.

That Christmas reminds us of a conflict that ever rages over the souls of men. Dark forces were at work on that beautiful, awe inspiring night. They sought to destroy the babe, born to Mary and Joseph, and thus they ultimately sought the destruction of all of humankind. This battle continues!

So good friends, we would do well then to gather our families together and carefully read this wonderful narrative from the Gospels. Worship and prayers of thanksgiving and joy should ascend to Heaven and sweet carols of years gone by should bathe our souls in the wondrous love of God. We would do well to visit the House of God this Christmas Season and there, together with all the family of God, give thanks for the gift of all gifts that became ours on Christmas Day, A Savior who is Christ the Lord.

The name Jesus has power that cannot be exaggerated



Monday, December 19, 2016

Is This the Season to Take Heed of the Reason?

Joy to the world! The Lord is come; Let earth receive her King; Let every heart prepare Him room, And heaven and nature sing. Joy to the earth!  The Savior reigns; Let men their songs employ; While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains repeat the sounding joy.  He rules the world with truth and grace, and makes the nations prove.  The glories of His righteousness, and wonder of His love.

Hey Gang:  I vowed this is the year I would spent time each day snuggled up to the Lord and listen for His calming voice.  This week I made a list and I checked it twice and I promised myself that I would follow it to its completion.  But, that was before God choose this time to send a major snow storm, and the snow blower chose this time to be very stubborn and refuse to come to life, from its summer slumbers, and after getting out extension cords and heater it sprang into action. But, on my first round of the day, it tried to swallow a stick and sheered a pin.    Off to the hardware store I must go! 

 It seems most talk a good game -that this Christmas year I am going to simplify Christmas-less parties, less shopping, less competing with the mobs on Black Friday, (I detest that name).  I vowed I would begin earlier this year to get the decorations in place, write the Christmas letter and get the cards prepared for Uncle Sam’s delivery system and the dozens of little things that make this a special time of the year.

Once again the bride of my youth came to my rescue, as I was preparing to write this morning message. One of her many special devotional book appeared on my desk, open to the following story.  It was a neat story that tells it like it is, in our ever growing colder world. 

The story was of a crèche that had a missing piece.  “When my sister Joy, who is a Methodist minister outside of Chicago, saw our Bethlehem memento, she said that her family also displayed a crèche at Christmas, except theirs was different.  “Several years ago the figure of Baby Jesus came up missing” she reported.  “and, when all our searching failed, I considered the crèche ruined and it should be discarded, but I had a second thought and once again placed the crèche on the mantel without Baby Jesus.  Christ is often missing from our self- centered celebration, I reasoned, and the missing baby reminds me that it is up to us to find Him.  Not in the noisy hubbub of Christmas, but in sharing God’s quiet love made manifest in the manger”.

As I read his story, I thought of another that happened many years ago- the baby Jesus disappeared from the town nativity scene.   The town people searched high and low but without success. Then one day a young mother brought the missing baby and laid it in the manger of the nativity scene. She said her baby had recently died and the crib in their home would be empty this Christmas Season and that was more than her younger brother could handle, so she borrowed the baby Jesus from the town crèche and placed it in that crib.

One last story before I close this epistle and send it along to you.   At the edge of another town was a hospital for folks with mental disabilities; it tended to be a very noisy place.  The doctor, who was in charge, told this story: 364 days of the year the hospital was filled with pain, agony and the anguish of souls of the people housed there.  But there was one day when peace filled the hospital.  It was the day the local towns people went to the hospital and spent several hours loving the people there and singing Christmas Carols.

He said it was always amazing that when “Hark the herald angels sing, Glory to the newborn King, Peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled” filled the air, the people would settle and become quiet”.   When asked, “Why do you not fill the air with Christmas Carols every day? He responded, “O little Town of Bethlehem, Silent Night, O Holy Night and all of the Carols are as the balm of Gilead to these hurting people but- only when the people come and sing God’s praises in person.

I vowed his year-did you vow this year- to take time to snuggle up to the Lord each day?  I challenge you to find a hymnal, or get on the computer and read a Carol or two each day.  Why? There is only joy in these creations and, in this day of ever growing darkness, we need the joy of Jesus in our heart.  Listen to the words, for most tell the story not only of His birth, God’s greatest gift to you and me, but also His mission as Savior and coming King Eternal. 



Friday, December 16, 2016

Oh, Yes, God Has Prepared a Better Tomorrow!

“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:  Read that verse again.  Notice, Luke uses the word ‘measure’ three times.

The Living Bible reads “For if you give, you will get.  Your gift will return to you in full and overflowing measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over.  Whatever measure you use to give – large or small – will be used to measure what is given back to you”.   Does that word ‘measure” stick out in bold print in your Bible?

My daddy was a coal miner, bus driver and custodian in a school, none of which provided adequate retirement to live on comfortably.  During those years when inflation was running rampant, I was concerned and called my Mom and asked, “Do you need anything?”  Her answer has been engrained in my heart and mind since, “No, we just tithe more!”  They were stanch believers in God’s promise to give back in the same measure that they gave.

The word “measure” seems to be very important to God, for He uses it in many places and pertaining to many subjects.  Notice what Jesus had to say about being a judge of our neighbor:  “Do not judge so that 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?  (Matt. 7:12).

In Mark 4:24 we find a warning that we need to heed in this day when the gates of hell have been opened and there are no limits on what might appear on your television set.  He said. “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.

I especially like Paul’s words in Ephesian 4:7 “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.”  Wow, it that not a neat promise?  How tragic that so many do not take advantage of God’s irrevocable laws pertaining to “measure”.

In closing this epistle I would like to give, especially to the young people who read Gramps Morning Thoughts, a piece of wisdom that we learned in the very early years of our married life.  Simply stated, “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:8). 

In the last morning message the theme was “the joy of anticipation”.  When you get that compulsion to spend for something that is not an essential to life, the question is not whether the credit card has room and you can increase your monthly payments sufficiently to cover it, but what happens to the rest of your assets that you are placing in jeopardy by buying something you do not need. 

When my bride and I met at the altar and said our “I dos and I wills” we did not have two dimes to rub together. I was an airman deuce in the Air Force, an organization that is not known for their high salaries.  No house, no furniture and no saving accounts.  After much looking we found a used 45 X 8 foot New Moon mobile home that had some years on it but had been taken care of and the owner wanted to get it off his hands, NOW, That my friends, is a bargaining chip that one can take advantage of.  For three thousand dollars we had all we needed to set up our first home. 

God is a fabulous provider for those who come under His Lordship and are willing to allow Him to do your budgeting and purchasing.  Jesus said many times, “Ask” and I will provide- if it is within my plan for your life and something that you need at this moment and it won’t hurt you.  But there is prerequisite to that promise found in Malachi 3:10-11,

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows”.  Now notice the fringe package that God offers with this promise, “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 of hosts”.  Notice “And test me.”

Do you want a special Christmas promise from an old man, if you cannot pay off your credit card by the month, burn it. 



Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Wonderful Gift of 'Anticipation'

“There will no longer be any curse, and the throne of God and the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face and His name will be on their foreheads” (Rev. 22:3-4).

Hey Gang:  I think I have mentioned before, I am the son of a Pennsylvania coal miner which makes me a true - blue red necked hillbilly.  They used to say we lived so far back in the sticks they had to pump sunshine to us and even the hoot owls wore knapsacks.  My Daddy was a coal miner. There is a television program titled “Dirty, Dangerous, and Low-paying Jobs”.  That is a perfect description of coal mining.

Although we were as poor as the proverbial 'church-meeses', my mother always managed to hide enough money under the corner of the living room carpet to buy something for Christmas that we really wanted. When I was four or five, I wanted a little yellow truck that had a dump bed on it.  For months, I dreamed of that truck and counted the days until Christmas morning arrived and I would find the truck under the tree.

Christmas that morning, was to be a time of deep disappointment and great joy for me.  After anticipating that for months, I expected that on Christmas morning I would find a little yellow dump truck with had my name on it. 

The day finally arrived and the anticipation level had risen to the place where I could hardly sleep. I jumped out of bed and ran to the tree- only to find there was no little yellow truck with a dump bed under the tree.  Pow! Words could not describe my disappointment.  But I did find a box with a map inside that told me I should follow the path and there would be a surprise at the end of the trail.
Eating breakfast only added to the anticipation of what was at the end of the trail. I donned my threads and set out on the treasure journey and, just as the note said, there at the end of the trail was a little yellow truck.

I learned a lesson that year that has stuck with me for over 80 years: There is great joy in anticipation! I remember the little yellow truck, as if it was yesterday, because it was the end of a magnificent trail called “anticipation”. I believe one of the great sins in our nation today is that parents and others have taken away the tremendous joy of anticipation from our children and replaced it with instant gratification. Keep in mind, when we do not teach our children the joys of anticipation, they may miss the joys that await them in that place that God prepared for those who believe in Him.

But I have a far greater anticipation that has grown in my heart and soul since that day when I recognized the need in my life for a Savior who is Christ the Lord.  I grow daily in anticipation that one day soon He will either say “Time to come home and to hear Him say ‘Well done faithful servant, enter that place I have prepared for you.”

Or perhaps I will still have breath, in this aging body, to see Him come in the sky and call His children up to meet Him in the air.  I anticipate with great excitement that moment when we are taken to the Marriage Feast of the Lamb and we become attached to him as His Bride.  How sad I feel this morning for those who have never enjoyed the joy of anticipating one day standing in the presence of the One who loved us so much He came as man and died on a hideous cross to break the bondage of sin in our lives. 

So my young friends, keep in mind, Jesus is going to come again – soon! I pray your anticipation is growing to fever pitch, for I suspect that day may not be too far in the future.



Monday, December 12, 2016

Christ Coming: A 364-Day Event, or One?

“The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them…For a child will be born to us a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:1/6).

God’s Christmas Promise to His children, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are live and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lod in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.  Comfort one another with these words” (1 Thess. 5:16-18).

Hey Gang, I found another book on my desk this morning with a note, ‘Read this!’  A marker was in the book The Wonders of Christmas by Daniel Partner.  I found this to be Day 9 of this Devotional Book.

As a little squeezer, one of the pure joys of the Christmas Season was seeing the decorations on the houses and special displays of Jesus’ birth at the churches in the neighborhood.  Our church always made a very big deal about the Nativity. In the months prior to Christmas Eve were the many rehearsals of choir and players in preparation for that very special night when with joy in their heart, the world was set aside and all turned to the coming of our Lord.

But there was a sadness attached to those wonderful memories. The days after the church had been filled with song, beautiful lighting a special joy that filled the air soon was back to the drabness and repetition that so many church services had become.  I believe that feeling was expressed by one of the little guys that we had with us at Christmas time when he said, “Mr. H.  Why don’t we celebrate Christmas 364 days out of the year and be grumpy only one day?”

 Not a bad question.  I think that is why this little story made such an impression on us, for it is a constant reminder that Jesus came into this world in human flesh and is going to return soon, collect His Bride for the Marriage Feast of the Lamb;  we will be with Him forever and ever more. 

While driving on U.S. Route 3 through New Hampshire’s northern most town in the state - Pittsburg.  There, in someone’s yard is a small shed of weathered wood with an open front covered with chicken wire.  Its year-round occupants are plastic figures on a man and a woman who are kneeling by a manger.

These three-quarter-sized figures make up a Christmas nativity scene.  Year-round, hunters and fishers, loggers and truckers, natives and tourist pass by this display.  It is most visible on long summer days, when no colored lights surround the shed.  The bright sun and green grass make it an eye-catching reminder of the birth of Jesus Christ. 

Theologians call Christ’s birth the Incarnation.  The Gospel of John describes it like this!  “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt within us” (John `1:14).

The famous poet, Ben Johnson (1572-1637), wrote in “A Hymn of h Nativity of My Savior”;  I sing the birth, was born tonight, The author both of life and light.

Our children sing, “Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,” and a citizen of Pittsburgh, New Hampshire, uses old planks, colored plastic, and chicken wire to tell of the birth of a child who was God. But from the simplest to the most sublime, nothing we can do or say or sing can adequately represent this event.  

The Creator became a creature!  Crude chicken wire and well-crafted phrases are equally impotent to explain this.  The Living God lives a human life!  Use plastic, use poetry-try as you might, nothing will do to completely describe it.  Combine the voices of apostles, pose, theologians, and every choir of children on earth to sing the significance of the God-man.  Yet, silence works just about as well.

Construct a cathedral, cobble together a crèche, or create a holiday called Christmas – whatever you do, remember each day the wonder of Christ’s birth and pray, “Dear heavenly Father, thank you for sending your Son into this world.”

Do you have something that reminds you daily that God so loved you? that He came, He died, over- came death that all who seek Him until they find Him will have eternal life with Him?
So, my friends, come on ring those bells!

Christmas: "The Potter entered into the clay He himself had made & now rests in the arms of his creation."  Christ in the Carols by Christopher and Melodie Lane



Friday, December 9, 2016

Fridays Are Missionary Days, Too!

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; H leads me beside quiet waters.  He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me” (Psa. 23:1-4).

Hey Gang, TGIF!  Do you feel that way?  In my working days I was involved in three occupations: I was an air traffic controller for seven years, worked as a counselor in a detention home for three years and was developer and president of a child care residential program for twenty-even years. 

Nary a one of none of these jobs were five-day a week, nine to five, and off on weekends and holidays.  Did it bother me?  Yes, to a degree, but there was the joy of knowing that one of my fellow employees was home enjoying his family that day, and I would be able to do the same tomorrow. 

We certainly live in a world that spins faster with each passing day.  The bride-of-my-youth often says “When you live in a world filled with alligators up to your arm pits, it takes a week to come down and begin to relax and a week to gear up in preparation for returning to the pressure cooker.” That folks, does not leave much time for truly letting it all hang out and relaxing.

I found this neat little ditty in Chuck Swindoll’s book Ultimate Book of Illustrations and it makes a great deal of sense.  I wish I would have had it when I was up to my armpits in alligators.  It goes like this:

“Slow me down Lord, Ease the pounding of my heart by the quieting of my mind.  Steady my hurried pace with a vision of the eternal reach of time.  Give me, amid the confusion of the day, the calmness of the everlasting hills.  Break the tension of my nerves and muscles with the soothing music of the singing streams that live in my memory. 

 Teach me the art of taking minute- vacations – of slowing down to look at a flower, to chat with a friend, to pat a dog, to smile at a child, to read a few lines from a good book.  Slow me down, Lord. and inspire me to send my roots deep into the soil of life’s ending values, that I may grow toward my greater destiny.  Remind me each day that the race is not always to the swift; that there is more to life than increasing its speed.  Let me look upward to the towering oak and know that it grew great and strong because it grew slowly and well.”

So, my young buckaroos, when it seems the alligators are nipping at your rear and the sun is having a hard time peeking through the dark clouds, take a moment or two and smell the posies.  Then call someone that is worse off then you and tell them you really, really, really care about them.  Is that not the reason for the season?  Keep in mind, my young friends, God cannot bless seeds that you do not plant.



Wednesday, December 7, 2016

What Life Is About

“And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares” (Luke 21:34).

Hey Gang:  Spending eighteen days in the desert of the Arava of Israel can be a time when you take a hard look at what is happening in your mind, heat and soul.  Unless you are an archeologist, a geologist and some other ”ist”,  there is not  a whole lot to think about.  But it is also a god time to walk through the desert, up to prayer mountain or just put your mind in neutral and let God speak.

Stop and think about your life for a minute.  God has given you a time to live but, regardless of how long it is, you will soon die.  According to the World Health Organization, about 150,000 people die every day.  All who were normal adults use their allotted days for two basic reasons – there are the faithful few who will be blessed with eternal life with Jesus, and those who said ‘no thanks, I will go my own way who will spend eternity in the Lake of Fire.’

Life presents an ever increasing multitude of choices.  Many choices honor God; many do not.  Many can draw us closer to God, but many pull us father away from God. We will fill our allotted time in one way or another, but how do our choices hold up in view of God and eternity?

Our lives are not our own, but have been loaned to us for the purpose of glorifying God.  The Creator made Adam and Eve because He desired fellowship.  Today we still are privileged with the same call to fellowship with God.  What a marvel that such a high and holy God wants a personal relationship with His creation!   When we realize this, we feel compelled to live our entire life for Him.  Yet, we are very prone to get wrapped up in the cares of this life, and soon God is no longer our first priority.

As mentioned we were blessed to spend eighteen days volunteering at Tel Tamar, a Kibbutz in the Arava, south of the Dead Sea.  When asked what was the high point of your tenure in the desert, my response, “We were freed from the rhetoric, sick rhetoric of the presidential race.”  That is only partially true.  The truth- there are no bangles and beads in the desert and one learns how very vulnerable we are, living in the so called more civilized world, but nothing could be more miss leading. 

It was a time when you realize how very precious a class of water is and when all the so called important issues of the modern world are placed a way back on the back burner and, if you desire, there are few obstacles that blur hearing the voice of the Master. 

It renewed my commitment to “run the way of (God’s) commandments and place my hands in the hand of the One who stills the waters.”  My prayer for you this morning is that God will open your eyes anew to His word.  Remember that we’re called to be strangers here and to seek heavenly things.  Feed on His  Word by frequenting its living waters.  Let’s make God our reason for living today, and draw near for a closer walk with Him.

I have always been saddened that the merchant world has stolen the wondrous beauty of God’s messages of forgiveness and thanksgiving with what I believe is a tool of the evil one “Black Friday”.
I close this epistle with this thought for you do ponder, “God never stopped walking with man in the garden of life.  Where are you in that walk with Abba Father?



Monday, December 5, 2016

God Sightings- The Maker's Mark

“Without Him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:3).

Hey Gang:  I have said it before and I say it again, my bride is a compulsive reader.  I have also said it before and say it again, she does not read books, she consumes them.  I have also heard it said opposites attract.  In this area of our relationship I would totally agree. So, I rely on her to do most of the new reading and, when something truly rings her bell, I find a book on my desk with a note or book mark which means “READ THIS”.

This morning was one of those times.  I judge her love of books, and she does truly love books, by opening the cover and seeing how many times she has read it.  In the coming weeks, ten or twelve or if I find a new one, thirteen books will get a repeat performance for her highness, the queen of my castle.

The following story by Elizabeth Sherrill is taken from a book in her archives from 2005.  It remains part of her library because it contains some very neat stories of victories in people’s lives- and we need to dig into and pay special attention to them - victories in believes lives.  But, there is another reason it remains firmly implanted on her bookshelf of very special books, it was given by a very special friend who has since gone to be with the Lord.

Elizabeth addresses a problem that I have heard many people voice in the modern day of “you must fill every moment of every day with something that will make you rise on the totem pole.   I recall a story written by Max Lucado about his trip to Israel.  He thought it would be an experience of walking close to, and hearing the voice of God.  Such was not the case for him.  Elizabeth wrote:

It’s December, the season of Advent, when our thoughts should focus on the coming of Jesus – as a baby in a manger and the King of kings at the end of time.  But., oh dear!   With shopping and mailing and writing cards and getting the house ready for guests, I often forget the point of it all.

So as left the house today, I murmured a quick prayer; Don’t let me lose sight of You today, Lord!

Answers to my pleas came all day long.  Driving down roads recently cleared by snowplows, I recalled other obstacles also cleared away - like getting in to see the doctor whose schedule was “completely full.” And I saw God as the One Who, time and again, has opened a way for me.  Outside the grocery store, a bell-ringer stood beside a Salvation army kettle.  Jesus has compassion for the poor.

In the children’s clothes section at a apartment store, a woman worried over the fit of a pair of boys’ jeans she was sending as a Christmas gift.  How perfectly God fit His gift to our need.

At the drugstore checkout counter, a manager was blasting a tired clerk for entering the wrong key on the cash register.  Jesus took abuse from the authorities, too.  ‘Let me not lose sight of You’….It must be a prayer God loves to answer because all days, everywhere I looked, in everyone I met and everything I saw, there He was!

This year I’ve remembered specific God sightings, past and present.  Today He told me, “There is nothing you can see, nothing you can hear or touch, where I’m not.” 

Tonight, after the boob-tube is silenced and the house is quiet get out your Sword and ask God to lead you into a new level of understanding, and read David’s word in Psalm 139 and ask, “Search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any ‘hurtful way in me. And lead me in the everlasting way” (vs. 23-24).

“Christmas is the White-hot moment when Eternity melted into Time.” Christ in the Carols by Christopher and Melody Lane


Enlarge my vision now and on the coming days.