Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Has God Ever Told You: "Get Into the Boat? Con't

                        First century fishing boat found in the Sea of Galilee in the last century

 “Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowds away.” (Matt. 14:22).

Hey Gang:  We learned in the last Morning Message that Jesus did, indeed, have bad days.  He had lost his best friend, John the Baptist, had tried to go into the mountain and pray but the people came to Him for healing and His disciples had failed to use their God-given power to feed the people. 

We know the results of their failure. Jesus said, “Bring the fives loaves and two fish here to Me (vs. 18).  “And He looked up to heaven and blessed the food and breaking the loaves, He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds” (vs.19b.).

Sooo, what is going through your mind this morning?  If God suddenly spoke to you and said: “I am going to send a very hungry group of people across your path today and I want you to feed them.  I will provide you with a couple fish a few loaves, what would you say?

In the early years of developing the Village we had a group of young people who worked for us and showed up at our table, completely unexpected, many times.  On one Sunday noon we began our meal with our family of six and ended with more than twenty at our table, and I do not recall ever running out of food.  I know there is the proverbial ‘add water to the soup’ but that was not the case.
 
It was now time to send the people away and get out the bed rolls, build a fire and sit around chewing the fat over what had transpired that day, Right?  No, that is not what Jesus had in mind. Keep in mind John’s words: “He knew what He was going to do” (John 6:6).   It was time for another life-changing learning experience.  It was time to turn up the heat.  Hey, have you ever been there when God says, “I need to get your attention “Immediately, Get in the boat?”

It is here we find the Scripture for the day: “Notice the first word “IMMEDIATELY!” One might get the idea that Jesus looked at the failures of the day with a great deal of concern.  The shadows of the cross were growing more ominous each day and He knew He did not have much time to prepare His twelve to carry the Good News to the multitudes after He had ascended to the Father.
 
One of the profound memories I have of Korea was the night I pulled guard duty on the fourth watch. It was black as coal and I was terrified.  At the point when I thought my thumper was going to explode, suddenly a heard music.  I thought surely my life was about to end and the angels were preparing the choir for my home coming.  There was a Catholic School just down the hill from the Center and a nun had gotten up for her morning prayers and was playing the Lord’s Prayer.  Now I want you to know folks, I mentioned I was a Laodicean Christian at that time, but I took a gigantic step towards full commitment that night. 

Again, I remember a question that Pastor Stool asked that day: “Do you think Jesus was punishing the disciples or trying to get their attention?  What say ye?

As Paul Harvey would say, “Be sure and tune in tomorrow for the rest of the story!”

Blessings,

Gramps

Monday, August 14, 2017

Has God Ever Told You: "Get In the Boat?"


Has God Ever Told You: “Get Into The Boat?”

“Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowds away.” (Matt. 14:22).

(The next several blogs center around the feeding of the 5000 and a life changing principle a devout man of God taught me as I prepared to leave for a year in the garden spot of the world, Taegu, Korea.) 

Hey Gang:  This seems like an innocent enough verse but, we shall soon learn there are no innocent, stand-alone verses in God’s Word.  Let me share how the Scripture of the morning became embedded in the archives of my heart and mind.   

 I had just gotten my orders that Uncle Sam was going to send me on a visit to an exotic place, called South Korea.  Out of thirteen newly-graduated Air Traffic Controllers, eleven went to such dangerous places as Miami, Southern California and Washington State.  The other was assigned to Germany and the last one assigned to Taegu Air Traffic Control Center in Korea.  You guessed it, that name on the assignment was mine.

At this point in my life I was, what one might call a Laodicean Christian.  Religion was more of a convenience than a way of life.  At the time, I thought my mother had “slipped me a Mickey” when she arranged a meeting for me to spend some time with her Pastor, prior to shipping out.  I must admit, arriving I was a basket of nerves.  He was a Pastor that others called a Pastor’s Pastor.

I can say with no reserve, he was the most Godly-man I had ever had the privilege of spending time with.   As I was preparing, to leave he gave me a tract that he had written titled “Contrary Winds.” I carried this in my wallet throughout my Korean experience and until it literally disintegrated in my wallet twenty or more years later.  A tract that I shared many times with people who were going through wilderness experiences.

It began with a question, “Do you think Jesus ever had a bad day?”  This story of one of those days is found in Matthew 14. Jesus was told His cousin, John the Baptist, had been murder by Herod to satisfy his lust for his step daughter.  Jesus loved John with a special kind of love.  He said, “…no greater man ever born than John the Baptist.” 

He did as you or I would have done, if we lost a very special friend, He withdrew to the mountain to be alone and mourn for His friend. But the mobs would have no part of it and came to Him.  Matthew tells us, “He had compassion for them”.  That is the way Jesus was and the essential ingredient He wants His children to have. 

The story continues; “After a busy day of healing the sick, evening had set in and his disciples came to him and said, “This place is desolate (Hainley translation – no Burger Kings in sight) and the hour is already late; so send the crowds away, that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves” (Matt. 14:15). 

John tells us it was time for another chapter in the Philip’s learning curve, “…that He was saying this to test him, for He already knew what He was going to do” (John 6:6).  “You feed them” was merely window talk.  But Pastor Stoll made a strong point -that is not what Jesus had in mind for them or for us.

At that point Pastor Stoll asked me a question that I have pondered many times since that day.  He said, “Do you think the disciples had the power to feed that multitude of people”.  He then asked, “If God said to you this morning ‘go and feed your neighbor’, even though you have no food in your pantry or have no idea how to cook, do you think God’s power in your hands is sufficient?” 

Will God give me marching orders without equipping me to complete the task He has assigned to me?  (To be continued)

Blessings,

Gramps

Friday, August 11, 2017

Unto the Least of These!! (God Does Meet Our Needs When We Ask – with a Sincere Heart)


“The King will answer and say to them, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me” (Matthew 25:40) Read Matthew 25:35-40 to see what Jesus was talking about here.

Hey Gang:  A grandmother came up to my bride, knowing she had connections to Eagle Village and began to pour her heart out in deep agony and concern for her thirteen- year- old grandson.  It seems he has been on a very straight and narrow road, not for good but for evil.  I wish this sort of thing was a very rare event but such is not the case, as we evict God from our families and institutions. The number of young people, who have nothing to hang their lives on, increases as hope has been ripped from their hearts and souls.

That yearning, seeking trait that God wired into our bodies at conception- you know the one- the one in your chest cavity that is the size of God, which we try to fill with the things of the world.   I wasted a lot of years following that path, with ever deepening hurt along the way.

After working in the government-run Juvenile Justice System, and seeing the failure of that system, and making a vow that I would either develop a way to reach these hurting kids or become a plumber’s helper.  I believe I would have made a lousy plumbers helper.  But God answered the deep yearning of my heart and allowed me to be part of providing a shirt tail for hurting kids to hang onto.

God laid it on my heart, a couple years ago, that I was more concerned with what I would pass down to my children, assets I had accumulated in my lifetime, but I had neglected my spiritual legacy!  So, I sought the Lord’s direction on how I could fix that.  You see, the greatest fear I have is that one of my kids, grands or great grands will reject the gift of God’s Son, who laid down His life for them and all who seek Him. Recently, I received another poke in my gut, saying I needed to do the same with my legacy,  as a small part of developing the Eagle Village.

Now, I say all of that to make two points maybe even three:  
Point one, I had absolutely no back-ground to try such an undertaking - none, absolutely none, not one single iota of background in what was down the road waiting for me to tackle.  None!   I asked God why he choose me to be His legs. He answered my question, “Because you have committed to make yourself available and will complete the task.”  He impressed on my heart and soul- “I will supply all of your needs”. 

Point two, which I am convinced was a major contributing factor to the success and uniqueness of Eagle Village, resulted when He closed all doors for me to visit other programs, attend workshops that would influence my thinking and remove my dependence from listening and taking my marching orders from anyone but Him alone.  My total dependence was Abba Father.  Remember, I knew nothing, no experience.  NONE! 

Point three, He sent me wonderful, totally dedicated people, with wonderful ideas that were innovative, effective and powerful in their results.  One young man came and said we have no mountains to climb, so let’s build a couple. And we did.  Out of the ground came the first climbing walls East of the Mississippi.    Well, folks that is another story for another day, but I will say, Satan threw everything at us but the kitchen sink, and if there had been a kitchen sink available, he would have thrown that too, much like our trip from California to Michigan. 

I felt a strong urge in my heart and spirit to reread the past “God Does Meet Our Needs When We Ask - With a sincere Heart” blogs.  And after rereading them I had the feeling it was kind of like a short book that did not have a beginning or end.  With your blessing, I would like to address the beginning but praise God there is no ending.  I have prayed unceasingly, since the day we took that first boy into that first Summer Camp, that when the Lord returns to take His children to the Marriage Feast of the Lamb, the entire 700 plus acres of Eagle Village Campus will be totally void of people -that only their clothes will be found.

Join me tomorrow for the story of an unbelievable trip from Pittsburgh, California to Hayesville, Ohio!  (Read the previous 7 blogs and first ones in May of 2017).

Blessings,


Gramps  

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Lord, Did I Misunderstand ? -Conclusion

 A Foundation to Build a Miracle On!


“And My God will (and My God did) supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19). 

Hey Gang: Have you ever experienced a time in your life when you rejoiced and felt deep concern, bordering on fear at the same time?  I felt that way on the top of Donor Pass, when the freeze plug blew on the near worn out Econo van!  I felt that way when the generator gave up the ghost at a crossroads in Elko, Nevada- a skillion miles from no-where!  I felt that way when the pick- up truck was in the ditch and I believed the nearest tow-truck was twenty-five miles away!  I felt that way when the hoses in the Van froze, cutting all heat from the Van!   

 I felt that way in Salt Lake City they said it would take four days to repair the heat problem!  I felt that way when the ice build-up under the Van was making it nearly undrivable!   I felt that way as we nursed the Van from Little America to the Ford garage in Rawlins! I felt that way when we learned that we must be at the gate in Laramie, so that we could go over the mountain before it closed for the night! 

In some of the crisis experiences I mentioned “Wasn’t that lucky?”  Now think for a moment.  It is nearing the midnight hour, you are sitting along the road on the top of Donor Pass with a blown freeze plug in a 1950 Econo Van; you just happen to have a log chain with you to pull the Van into the lighted parking lot at Harrah’s gambling casino- the only place with sufficient light to assess damage and try and figure what we would do to repair it.

The question? Where in the world would one find a freeze plug for a seventeen-year-old Econo Van in the early hours on Sunday in Reno, Nevada? I wonder what odds the folks in the Casino would place our being successful in this impossible task? 

As I relieved that night again, I do not have a clue how we ended up at that very worn garage on a darkened side street in Reno and found a very, very ancient man, who just happened to have a drawer full of freeze plugs- way back in the corner of his very cluttered shop- he reached in and, without looking at the plug, said, “This is the one.”  And it was the oneDo you think that was luck?  I wonder, if that garage- with its drawer of freeze plugs way back in the corner- was there the next day.
 
Do you think it was luck when the generator said enough, and died at a crossroads in no man’s land in the midst of a driving rain storm? Where there happened to be a faded sign that said, “Generator Shop”; but also said, “Out of business” yet, just happened to have a generator for a seventeen-year-old vehicle that, years before,  someone ordered and never picked up?  I wonder who ordered it?  Could his name have been Michael or Gabriel? 

Do you think God might have led the Samaritan, who lived on the Salt Flats, to buy a tow-truck for He was sending a vagabond family that way one day, in a driving snow storm and would need his help?   Luck? No, I think not.  
 
I titled this blog “A Foundation to Build a Miracle On” for, as I have been recalling and recording the story of this place we now call Eagle Village- which will soon celebrate its fiftieth year (2018) of service to hurting children and families- I have become very convinced that God, not only had provisions, but was preparing me, and my family, for the trials, tribulation, and even crises that were to become a part of our lives.  

Do I think the evil one was trying to send us a message?  I certainly do!  He knew God had us on a mission.  But, keep in mind, God provided a way in each, and every, crisis! In that five days, God engrained in my heart, soul and mind John’s word: “Greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world” (I John 4:4). 

Blessings,

Gramps


P.S.  If you did not read the blog series titled “God Does Indeed Meet Our Needs” May 2017, and are interested in the rest of the story, they can be read there.    

Monday, August 7, 2017

Lord, Did I Misunderstand? Six Vagabonds and One Chihuahua Reach Ohio


“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Psa. 23:4-5). God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble” (Psa. 46:1).

Hey Gang, When I left you in the last “Trip Blog”, we were on top of the Rocky Mountain traversing between Laramie and Cheyenne, Wyoming, about forty miles.  We were praising the Lord that the very tired Econo Van had enough strength to conquer the Mountain. 

About half way up the Mountain the fog changed from pure, soupy fog, to a combination of soup fog and snow-filled clouds which only increased the challenge to keep the vehicles out of the ruts and on the path. As we climbed, this familiar Scripture was so real and filled our minds: “Even though I walk (drive) through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me”. (Psalm 23).  

Shortly after reaching the summit we were blessed with a hard-surfaced road, which made life more enjoyable. Nearing the exhaustion level, we needed a good meal, a time for the kids to stretch their legs and run off some pent-up steam and a warm bed; however, as we began our decent from the summit, God gave us a glorious, beyond description experience. We drove out of the fog-cloud combo and could see the valley below and the city of Cheyenne. 

There is nothing more beautiful than the sunsets radiating off the mountains in the Western States.  But that night it was especially radiant and especially designed by Abba Father for six very weary vagabonds.  The view was awesome but it was far more, it pumped us full of adrenalin and we by-passed Cheyenne and continued for several a couple hours before stopping for night four in Nebraska.   

The morning was wonderful! Dry roads, the storms were no more, the temperature had risen and we had full tanks of excitement as we waited to see what was in store for us this Day Five!  Our original intention was to drive to Iowa and spend the night visiting some of my bride’s family but, when we arrived at the turn off point, it was much too early to stop and we were getting very anxious to get this trip behind us.  Another blessing-crisis abruptly hit.

As we pulled off the road, to discuss the change in plans, I hit a patch of that Iowa-gumbo mud, that is a combination of glue and slippery mud, which pulled the Van down an embankment.  To keep the Van pointed in the right direction and prevent it from turning over, I kept the engine at full throttle; hit the bottom and started back up the embankment, coming within ten feet of the road. 

No problem, have pick-up with more than enough power to pull the Van back to the road and ye-old-chain to complete the task.  After connecting the two vehicles together, the time for action had arrived for action.  Problem:  I forgot to tell my bride that she needed to take the slack out of the chain before pulling the Van.  I learned, at that moment, that 1950 Econo Van could fly! 

Wasn’t that Lucky? God protected us again and we were on our way!

The final catharsis of the trip happened as we approached destination in Ohio, midnight of Day Six. The Freeway was under construction, the road signs had been moved; we missed our turn off - and had to drive an additional twenty miles before turning around and driving 30 miles back!  At twelve-thirty A.M.- to the absolute amazement of my bride’s parents- we arrived!

Next: What I learned from this trip.  Be advised, when we arrived, the memories of the trip, and the many catharsis. only emphasized the question in my mind, “Lord, did I misunderstand?”

Blessings,

Gramps

Friday, August 4, 2017

Lord, Did I Misunderstand? "Dad Are We Almost There?"

Little America near Rte 80 sing on left; Laramie near Rte 80 sign before Cheyene;  Route 80 was under construction , thus the detour over the mountain.
                  
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Psa. 23:4-5). God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble” (Psa. 46:1).

Hey Gang:  Serious question?  Do you think I might have questioned whether-or-not I had heard God- or did I place my family in jeopardy chasing a pipe dream? It was now Monday noon, still Day Three. We had decided to stop in Salt Lake City and get the heating problem fixed, BUT… at the Ford Garage learned it would be four-day wait! This was unacceptable to my wallet.  So, it was ‘on the road again’.

Note: We had no cell phones 50 years ago.  We left California Family and they were praying; the Ohio Family didn’t know we were on the road. Neither did we have any communication between vehicles.  After all we had made this ‘Three-Day Trip’ several times!

The storm had passed us by. leaving two or more inches of wet snow on the highway which had turned to slush.  Slush that covered the windshield and built up around the wheel wells, which required periodic stops to scrap the ice from the windshield.  Shortly after leaving Salt Lake City we began to notice cars and trucks coming from the East were covered with ice, which brought us to crisis number six.

Due to the ice buildup under the Van and it was becoming more difficult to steer.  We were now dealing with a slushy-icy road, ice on the Van, and increasing very-wet-snow from above.  It did not take brain power to realize I was a hazard on the highway and had best find an Oasis to crawl into until the storm passed and we could get heat into the Van and the roads cleared.  That Oasis turned out to be a motel-gas-station complex called Little America in Western Wyoming.

Upon arriving we learned there was one motel unit left and we immediately moved in.  Wasn’t that lucky?  I, then, went to the gas station to see if they could repair the heating problem; but- they did not have the needed equipment to solve the problem.  While there[] , seeking advice on the roads East, I talked with three knights-of-the-road. Truck drivers strongly suggested I stay put until the storm was well past and the road cleared; however, there was also a salesman who suggested the road was not too bad and he was planning on continuing.

We arose early Tuesday, Day Four ready to hit the road, but better sense held us at bay for several hours- waiting for better road conditions.  Crisis seven was the seventy-mile trip from Little America to Rawlins, Wyoming, praying we would find there a Ford Garage.  

The seventy miles was agonizingly slow, with frequent stops to clean the windshield and chip ice away from the front wheels.  The most fabulous thing I saw on the entire trip was the sign “Rawlins, Two Miles”.  My bride had gone ahead to check out the town; she then met me at the off ramp and led me to the Ford Garage, where they were waiting for my arrival.

Our time at the Garage was a wonderful reprieve and rest from the vehicles.  We were blessed with a mechanic who had a sense of humor and kept reminding us how foolish we were to be on the roads in the midst of this storm.  He was an old Okie whose favorite saying, during our tenure with him was, “You d___ fools”.  And at moment I had no rebuttal.  The sign on the side of the truck said, “Eagle Boys Village!”


While in Rawlins we learned that that the road over the Rocky Mountains, between Laramie and Cheyenne, closed at sun down and would remained closed until about noon the next day with current weather conditions.

I use the word road loosely.  It was more like a well-worn cow-path with much traffic.  With the mountain entrance in sight, we stopped to gas the vehicles- only to find the gas cap was frozen on and the gas pipe frozen shut.   Once again, we were very lucky for this was a common problem and the attendant had it freed up within minutes, gas tanks filled and into the line heading for the gate.

I could write a several-paged dissertation on our trip over the mountain but will use discipline and give you the short version. Highway 80 was being constructed; this road was a dirt road and extremely difficult to keep the vehicles out of all the ruts. I am not sure how far it was up the mountain or how many feet we climbed that night, BUT this I know!  The 1950 Econo van was very tired, as were the drivers, and not pleased to be placed under these foul conditions -but we refused to declare defeat!

I believe this is a good place to put this to bed for today and finish it tomorrow.  Be sure and tune in for the last chapter of the Six Vagabonds and one Chijuahau Dog.

Blessings,

Gramps 






Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Lord, Did I Misunderstand? The Trip Continues....

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Psa. 23:4-5). God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble” (Psa. 46:1).

Hey Gang:  No pain, no gain, right?  By the time we had the Econo Van repaired it was time to feed our bodies and stopped for breakfast.  During the night, the temperature had made a rapid decline and, I mention again, the MG had no top.  A storm was predicted for the Rockies so we said our goodbyes and parted ways - Von back to California and us to the East.

Shortly after continuing our journey, crisis three came in the form of a loud squeal from the engine housing of the Econ Van and a red light came on the dash indicating “You have big problem!”  The water from the freeze plug had poured over the generator and it was no longer generating full power.  Water holes (meaning towns with services in Gramps lingo) in the middle of Nevada are extremely few and far between.  We had no choice but to continue until we had no power left and then tow it with chain to the first watering hole.

Surprisingly, but yet not so surprisingly, the Van ran with very limited generator power for several hours. As we were approaching Elko, Nevada, we were blessed with crisis number four, the generator quit completely.  And how was that a blessing?  The Elko, Nevada, cross road is in no man’s land and consisted of buildings on three corners and nothing else for many miles. 

While sitting by the highway, in a driving rain storm trying to decide if we had any options, I noticed a very faded sign on one of the buildings - similar to the faded sign we had found in Reno that said, “Generator Shop”. But, it also said, “Out of Business” and by the looks of the building I was not sure it was occupied. 

Yes, the shop was “Out of Business” and this was Sunday afternoon, but I had no other options. So, I knocked on the door and an elderly gentleman - who had clean coveralls on - answered the door, and I stated my problem.  Do you have any idea what the odds might be for finding a generator for a fifteen-year- old Econo Van, in the generator shop at a crossroad called Elko, that had been out of business for many years might be?  About the same as finding a freeze plug in the middle of the night in Reno, Nevada! 

On this day, more than fifty years after I greeted that man and stated my crisis, I will never forget the look on his face and his next words:  He said, “Years ago, someone ordered just such a generator and never came to pick it up”.  Wasn’t that lucky?

 I wonder, if the name of the person who ordered the generator many years before the vagabond crew of six and one Chihuahua arrived on his door step, might have been Gabriel or Michael?
Within an hour we were on the road again, with full power in both vehicles but the power in the drivers was beginning to run thin. So, it was thought best that we end Day Two, which was really two days of continuous problem solving.  As we pulled into the motel parking lot at Wells, Nevada, and vacated the vehicles we noticed the temperature had continued to fall and there were the ever-present ominous clouds saying “beware”.

 In the middle of the night, my bride woke me to inform me it was snowing, heavy wet stuff!  Remember the freeze plug? All the water and ANTI FREEZE had spewed forth from the missing freeze plug opening.  
Morning arrived and we began Day Three with temperatures near the freezing mark and we were seeing ominous signs of the storm that had been predicted.  Shortly after departure we encountered crisis number five, but who is counting.     The heater and defroster hoses were exposed in the front of the van and soon froze cutting off all heat and defrosters but the van kept running.
 It required our driving with sox on our hands and changing drivers every half hour.  Also keep in mind we had two small children and a Chihuahua dog in the van (the other two in the truck) and fortunately we had warm clothing and blankets to wrap them in.  To add insult to injury, I did a Moses thing and, in frustration hit the on switch to the blower and it locked into the ON position.  We now had, not only near freezing temperatures in the Van, but also blowing air on the driver!  Gloves anyone? No, but sox work!

Crisis number six occurred when crossing the Salt Flats of Utah.  By then the storm had caught up and we were in a driving snow storm; the roads were more than a little hairy.  The pickup, with all the weight it was carrying, slipped off the road and went down a moderately-steep embankment.  Having not seen the truck for a couple miles, I pulled into the gas station to wait. But, learned that four vehicles had had similar fates and one was Boys Village – our pickup. In that stretch of road across the Salt Flats there is only one gas station and nothing else. 

We were twenty- five miles from Salt Lake City, which we were sure was the closest tow-truck and would take - who knows how long and cost how much green stuff? I had no idea. BUT! the owner of the gas station, upon learning of the problem said his neighbor had recently purchased a tow-truck for his business”.  A call was made and we were soon blessed with a spanking new tow-truck. He had us out of the ditch and on the road in a matter of an hour.  Oh, by the way, he charged us the huge sum of five dollars each vehicle, to pull us out.   Now wasn’t that lucky?

Well, so much for today.  Be sure to tune in tomorrow for the next chapter in the Saga of the Six Vagabonds and one Chihuahua dog.

Blessings,

Gramps


   

    

Monday, July 31, 2017

Lord, Did I Misunderstand? The Trip Begins - Day One







Donner pass just before Truckee about 6000 feet





“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Psa. 23:4-5). God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble” (Psa. 46:1).

Hey Gang:  God had miraculously filled our quiver.  House sold, vehicles changed in preparation for the move and we now had sufficient funds in the bank to provide for our trip and needs.  Still the thought, that perhaps I was reading the wrong thoughts into this whole project and was placing my family in jeopardy, was constantly own my mind.  I wonder where that came from? Any suggestions?

Even as we were loading the vehicles and preparing to say goodbye to California family, a story was on my mind:  A man riding down the road on his donkey asked for a confirming sign from heaven. He was immediately knocked off his donkey.  He got up and, just to make sure, he got back on his donkey and said, “Lord, if you meant that for me, give me another shot!”,

I did not feel I needed another shot but God gave me one anyway.  In my final days of work at Juvy, I learned that the directorship of the new facility had turned into a political battle and I did not fit the politics of the appointment.  God is good, all the time!

The trip from Pittsburgh, California to Haysville, Ohio took only five days but it was also five days that have lived in infamy in our minds and hearts.  You will understand as you read on...

After completing my last 8-hour shift in the Juvenile Hall, on a Saturday, we had dinner with my parents, we loaded our vagabond family in the vehicles and headed for Jean’s parent’s home in Haysville, Ohio.   My brother, who was somewhat of an adventurous chap and mechanic, decided he would ride shot-gun for us for a couple hours.  He was driving an MG convertible- without the top-his intention was to turn back at Donor Pass and head for warmer climate.   HOWEVER…..
 
Leaving Pittsburgh, California, (near San Francisco) we began our trek north to Donor Pass and over the Sierra Mountains.  However, in down town Sacramento, some eighty miles from our starting point, we had our very first catharsis - a flat tire on the rear of the loaded truck.  We were fortunate that this happened in front a brand-new service station that had all the latest tire-fixing equipment.

Problem: it was now about 8pm and the attendant of the gas station was a wet-behind-the-ears lad and not interested in tackling a tire on a truck that had a freezer, washing machine and dryer on board.  So, we did some unloading, got out the trusty jack, and took the tire off and fixed it -there in the middle of the million-dollar gas station, right in front of the garage bay that contained all of the latest tire fixing equipment! 

Two hours later we, once again, put the vehicles in gear and headed for Donor Pass.   Jean, the pilot of the 1950 Econo van that had seen its better days, yours truly behind the wheel of the Pick Up and Von, my brother in his MG without top.  (I emphasize that point as you will see why later).

The climb up Donor Pass is not steep by most folk’s standards but, for equipment that had seen better days, it was like climbing Mt McKinley.  The Van hung together until we reached the summit and began our descent. A red light came on in the Van.  Later, the freeze plug in the van blew, sending water all over the generator. My thought was to push the van over the cliff and find the nearest motel and at least get some rest for the next day’s challenges- but saner minds prevailed.  After a board meeting, there by the side of the road, we dug into the truck and located the log chain that- for some reason - I decided we should take with us.

Now, as I write this dialog of my recollections of the battles against the evil one, who was bound and determined that we would not reach our destination, I can attest to the fact that we never waivered from our course.  Perhaps, there was also some testing from the Throne Room checking our grit level.  I have thought of this test many times and I am not sure why we chained the Van to the MG instead of the truck, but that is precisely what we did.  Several hours later we exited the freeway and pulled into the parking lot of Harrah’s Gambling Casino in Reno, Nevada.   It was the only place that had sufficient lighting to allow us to make the repairs to the Van.

BUT, before we could tackle that impossible chore, we needed a miracle.  We had to find someplace in the middle of the night in Reno, Nevada, where we could find a freeze plug for a 1950 Ford Econo Van.  Now, I have no idea how we ended up at this isolated shop on an isolated street that had a very worn sign “garage”.  A dim light led us to the entrance where we found an open door and a very-old- gentlemen-I would guess him to be several hundred years old, unshaven and in coveralls that were so covered with dirt and grease they would not bend at the knees.

My question to him was in the negative, “Is there even the slightest chance that you would have a freeze plug for a 1950 Ford Econo Van?”  At that moment time stood still; he scratched his bearded chin and these remarkable words came forth from his mouth – “Yes, I believe I do”.  Within minutes he had dug into a drawer in the back corner of his shop and produced a whole drawer full of freeze plugs.

There were many amazing things that happened that night in Harrah’s parking lot in Reno, Nevada, but none more amazing then when he reached into that filthy drawer of freeze plugs and took one in hand and said with boldness and confidence, “This is the one you want”.   And my friends, it was the one we wanted.



God is good. All the time.  Tune in again for the next chapter of the vagabond journey that lives on in infamy- even this day more than fifty years later. 

Blessings,

Gramps

Friday, July 28, 2017

Lord, Did I Misunderstand? The Fleece









“Now the Lord said to Abraham, “Go forth from your country and from your relatives” (Gen. 12:1).   “Your word is a lamp to my feet to my path.  I have sworn and I will confirm it, That I will keep Your righteous ordinances” (Psa. 119:105-106).

Hey Gang:  Remember the last “Lord Did I Misunderstand?” began by establishing the fact that I was recording the birth of the Eagle (Boys) Village and vowed it would consist of the truth, nothing but the truth, so help me God?   As I mentioned I received a call from the Michigan contact person informing me that not one iota of progress had been made and the only chance the project had to becoming a reality was for us to come to Michigan and do the leg work.

Remember the new facility with the short list?  As the year in-waiting passed, I confess, my confidence level had all but disappeared.  Yes, it was my heart’s desire to take the plunge and accept the challenge of developing a home for hurting kids, but it appeared that was my dream and not the direction that God would have me go.  BUT, at the same time there was a political battle beginning to heat up about who would be the director of the new facility and I belonged to the minority party. 

It seemed that all the dangling carrots were suddenly ending up in someone else’s stew.  Simply stated, I did a Daniel: ”I made up my mind!” I said to the Lord, “I am willing but not without confirmation from You.” I really felt like it was time to put the issue behind me and seek a new path.  We were secure in a very comfortable home, both had good jobs with opportunities for advancement.

But remember the fleece?  Hang onto your Bible!  Several weeks after I had said, “Your will be done, Lord, but you have to show me your will”,  I was grass-cutting on Esperanza Drive- following the duties listed on the duty chart, for you military guys and gals- when a neighbor from across the street came to where I was mowing and motioned that he would like to talk to me.  I had never met the man, nor did I even know his name. 

After a short introduction and a bit of idle talk he, out of the blue, said, “I understand you are going to sell your house and I am interested in buying it’.  Bell’s began to ring in my mind, not on the offer to buy the house, but on an adage that my rather fugal mother had pounded into my head as a child: “Careful, gift horses often turn out to be lemons”.   

We talked and he made an offer- a very good offer- one that would have been hard to turn down even if I was not in a selling attitude.  Since we had only been in the house for a couple years and, had put minimum dollars down when we bought it, we were fearful that selling it now might cost us two arms and two legs.  There was no question, since we had not mentioned this to anyone, not even our parents, that we were considering selling the house and moving east and, this gentlemen - out of the blue- offered to buy it, we knew in our hearts the fleece had been answered and bonus -his offer included to pay us a few dollars- that was the cherry on top of the Sundae.

With the house issue settled, we now turned our attention to “WHEN”.  Again, time to allow God to make this decision by providing the needed funds to move our family across country and provide the needed vehicles to make the trip.  I might add, this was a hard decision for me. I owned a sports car that was a part of me and, next to the day that we had to sell our Belgian Horses at the Village, was the hardest decision I made- sports car turned truck! My parents needed a newer car and purchased the Nash Rambler. SO, with proceeds from the two car sales, we were able to find an Econo Van and pickup truck that we felt would make the trip and meet our needs for the time being.

Our home was furnished with early garage and rummage sales so returning them to the garage sale system solved the furniture issues.  The beds fit nicely into the Econo Van and the washer, freezer and dryer, fit on the pickup truck. 

The last item on the needs list was money.  We had sufficient funds to get out of town but future was unknown. Unbeknown to me I had accumulated several hundreds of dollars in the Retirement Fund.  Once again, God provided! 1960’s was the time when income tax returns were taking months to receive back, BUT, two weeks after the decision to ‘go for it’ was made, low and behold, our income tax came back!  A little here, and a little there, when added up provided what we felt was enough to get us to Ohio, to my bride’s parent’s home and have some left over.

God was teaching us what He meant by Paul’s words, “And My God will supply al your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).

We were now about to go into “On the job training” with Paul’s words in Philippians 4:12b-13 “I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.  I can do all things through Him who strengthens me”.  

Tune in next time for a fabulous show of God’s provision.

Blessings,


Gramps

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Lord, Did I Misunderstand? Ready or Not- Here I Am Ready


“Now the Lord said to Abraham, “Go forth from your country and from your relatives” (Gen. 12:1).   “Your word is a lamp to my feet to my path.  I have sworn and I will confirm it, That I will keep Your righteous ordinances” (Psa. 119:105-106).

Lesson learned:  Divine guidance is not a spiritual luxury- it is a minimum necessity for every believer! We cannot expect Him to guide us unless His will, not our own, is the supreme purpose of our lives. 

Hey Gang:  A year passed and nothing had moved an inch in Michigan, and yours truly was beginning to have doubts, was this God’s will or a pipe dream of Kermit’s? Every day, when I went to work, I passed the new facility that was in the final stages of completion.  This would house the dependent-neglect program.  It was a state-of-the-art facility and I learned that my name had appeared near the top on the short list for the directorship.   
  
Now, put yourself in my place for a moment and considered the following carrots that were being dangled before my eyes.  First, I had a family of six to provide for; second, it would have meant a very substantial increase in salary and benefits and placed me in a position of prestige in the system; third, I was comfortable in my home and community and fourth, it would not have meant rooting-up my kids and bride once again and moving them back across country to who knows what we would be facing.

Satan was relentless in his supply of carrots.  Every time I went to work I could see the new facility nearing completion.  At work, there was the frequent encouraging comments that since I was already in the system I would, in-all-probability, have the first chance to accept or reject the new position.  And on the other side of the ledger, what I would call God’s side, nothing was happening.

The heat was suddenly turned up several notches when the contact person in Michigan informed me this was not going to happen, if I did not come back and do the leg work needed to get it off the ground.  That, my friends, was not music to my ears.  Soooo, again, I drove to work- by that beautiful new facility that was now in the landscaping phase to beautify the area around the building.  The message was, oh, so clear from the evil one that day: “You can do all that you want to do to save children in that new facility and have all the perks and fringes offered by the system without lifting a single finger.”

There was the growing question in my mind (notice in my mind, not my heart), ‘Was this Kermit’s idea or God’s?’  I confess at that point, I did not have a clue which.  It was also one of these times when I felt my prayers were like bricks that, when offered, they immediately fell to the ground.  I wonder how Jesus felt when Father God said to Him, “I want You to leave the perfection of heaven and go to earth and walk in the shoes of those I breathed life into and break the bondage of sin that holds them captive on a hill called ‘Calvary’.”

And then, one day as I was driving by that new facility once again, I pulled a Gideon with God.  I said, “Lord, I have not seen one iota of progress or even a word of encouragement from Michigan.  I need a word from the Throne Room of Heaven to give me the assurance that I am to up-dump the lives of my family and become, as I my bride often said, “The unemployed director of a non-existent Boys Home.”  

It was during this time of agony and pain and doubt that two very special verses stuck out in very bold print from the writing of Isaiah.  He quoted God’s Word to him, “So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.  For you will go out with joy and be led forth into shouts of joy before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands” (Isaiah 55:11-12).  

Did God answer my fleece?  Turn in tomorrow and see!

Blessings,


Gramps 

Monday, July 24, 2017

Lord, Did I Misread Something?


A Sequel to: God Does Meet Our Needs When We Ask Him – With a Sincere Heart – EV Blog series May 2017

“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” (Gen.12:1-2).  “Jesus said, all authority has been given to me, GO!” (Matt. 28:18-19).

Hey Gang:  After re-reading the six previous ‘God Meets Our Needs’ blogs, I felt it was like an open book with no beginning or end.  I also mentioned - that I pray there will never be an end- but I also felt the need to address the series of events that led to Eagle Boys Village becoming a living reality.   One might sub-title this epistle “Are Your Sure, God?”

As I began to dig into the recesses of my brain about what transpired from the night they brought Dennis into the Juvenile Hall and I booked him in for murder, I felt the need to type the following with one hand and my other hand on the Holy Writ.  For, as I have shared what I am about to share with you, would qualify for the ‘Believe it or not file’ with a strong emphasis on the ‘not. I want you to know up front, the following is the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth, so help me God!” 

WE lived about halfway between San Jose and Sacramento.

That night, the night Dennis was booked in, was the beginning of a journey that, unless you were there, would be hard for you to think I have not embellished the story to gain some sort of accolades.   When I arrived home that night I announced to the bride-of-my-youth, “I am either going to find a way to help these kids or become a plumber’s helper!

Keep in mind that in the previous three years I had seen hundreds, perhaps even a thousand or more kids go through my South-Side Section; kids that I had seen on a regular basis and kids that I watched develop into hardened delinquents.  I had to read Dennis’s ‘history of stays’ in Juvy and found he had been through the Hall on eight separate occasions for minor offenses, and on every trip his request was the same, a cry for help!  

If you are a steady ‘Gramps Morning Thoughts’ reader, you will remember several blogs titled “Don’t Get to Comfortable”; they told the story of how God led me from the Air Traffic Control Field to working with children.   I believe that night, as I locked Dennis in his cell, was the next step in “Don’t Get to Comfortable”. 

Several months later I felt the need for a break in the action and we traveled to Michigan for a week of rest and recuperation.  God does control the weather, right?  Do you know what it means to be stir-crazy?   It rained for several days straight and my family of six, four under the age of 8, were in a twenty-four-foot-square friend’s cottage!  We began to learn what stir-crazy was all about.

To reduce the anxiety level, we visited a family friend of my bride - who just happened to be a disabled farmer.   After he had heard my story, the story of Dennis and my decision to do something to help these kids or become a plumber’s helper, he suggested I use his farm. We had talked about the possibility of Foster Care.  A seed was planted, a seed that would face many pitfalls before it could break forth from its shell into life; but, for the first time in months I felt that God had heard the cry from my heart  -to do something to help these hurting kids. 

Vacation time ended and we returned to California.  Shortly after we departed, Mr K, our friend with the farm, made contact with a Court of Appeals Judge, who made contact with the juvenile judges in the area.  All were in agreement that a treatment center for boys was critically needed. (Our thoughts of a foster home was not God’s thoughts!)

This soon led to a meeting, involving five local business men, to test the water and see if there was interest in taking on the challenge of establishing and helping to finance a project of this type.  And so, stage one - of what was to be the development of Eagle Boys Village- was begun. These five men committed to coming together as a Founding Board of Trustees and begin the legal process.

We were rolling, right?  Not without a ton or two of frustration and pain over the next three years.  More than a year passed while we waited: I was still employed in the Juvenile Hall in California and Jean doing some home-bound teaching for the county.  It was during that time when two Scriptures became very important and engrained in my mind and heart:

The first, Psalm 40:1-2, “I waited patiently for the Lord, and He included to me and heard my cry.  He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm”.  

The second, James 5:11,  “We count those blessed who endured.  You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful”.

Tune in tomorrow for chapter two and learn what a real live miracle looks like.   

Blessings,


Gramps

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Deeper the Well, the Purer the Water!

Going down to the well at Megiddo - we have been there!

“How can a young man keep his way pure?  By keeping it according to Your word.  With all my heart, I have sought You; Do not let me wander from Your commandments.  Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You” (Psalm 119: 9-11).

Hey Gang: Confession time – I enjoy doing Gramps Morning Thoughts.  I haven’t a clue, if they are penetrating to the depths of each reader’s heart. I pray they are, but they do keep me focused on the Word and what God is doing in our world, even in this day of darkness.  I pray diligently each morning as I hit the send button that it is God’s message going out and not mine.  I am but the recorder, I pray He is the Author.

The reason it is such a joy to prepare the blogs and gmails, each day, is that it keeps me in the Word.  I love to take a word and trace the road that God would have us traverse as His children.  My biggest problem, in preparing the final draft, is that I want to share so much more than space allows. 

As most of you who receive these epistles know, I have always been a teacher of the Seed Planting Principle: “That God is not mocked, we are going to reap what we sow” (Gal. 6:7). 

I have learned throughout the years of being in the Word that all of God’s precepts, statutes, and commandments are, not only irrevocable but are also based on “Common sense”.  It does not take a brain surgeon or rocket scientist to understand that, if we beat up our bodies with booze, cigarettes and drugs, we are going to pay the Piper ‘big time’, down the road.

Peter addressed this very thing in chapter 5:5-6 of his first epistle: “Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God”  Why?  “..that he may exalt you at the proper time.”  He follows this with a word of reassurance for those of us who struggle: “Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” 

Now notice, Peter describes why good people have problems: “Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (vs.8).   But, thank God for the “but”, “…resist him, be firm in your faith …for one day Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you” (vs. 9). 

Keep in mind that no matter how clean you keep your house, the evil one continues to look over your shoulder and look for an opening to, not only move into your house. but also to bring his cousins along. 

Blessings,

Gramps 

PS Watch for the series beginning Monday "Lord, Did I Miss something?  

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

IS Something Fix'n to Happen?


God said to Abram: “And I will make you 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).

Notice in the Scripture of the morning: in no place does it say- “I suggest,” or “It would be nice if you paid heed to My command.”   It is a clear command from the throne room of heaven: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! (Psa. 122:6). 

Hey Gang:  I’ve been reflecting today on the verse- “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.”  (Psalm 122:6).  Question?  Is it true that God blesses those who bless Israel and curses those who curse Israel?   It is much, much more than a suggestion and, never in my life time, have I felt a deeper sense of urgency to obey this command than right at this moment.  Did you know there is a blessing attached to that command also? 

Are we seeing the fulfillment of Zechariah 12:3 before our very eyes?  The prophet predicted the day when all the nations of the earth would turn against Jerusalem.  Surely that does not include the United States, Israel’s best friend in the world?  God forbid!  The day that this does happen will be the beginning of the end for America. 

I was shocked out of my sox when I heard our previous President make the public call for Israel to retreat to its 1967 borders!  No President before had ever made such a statement. Why?  Because it is completely untenable for Israel to survive under the 67 boundaries, which are actually not borders.  No true friend would make such a demand.

Encouraged by the revolution sweeping the Middle East, Israel’s radical enemies apparently see an opportunity to launch new attacks. 

For many, the future seems bleak indeed[ however, for Bible Believers there is a sure Word from the Lord.  Despite growing hostility toward Israel and failed leadership in so many countries, Israel will survive!  We are charged with the responsibility to petition heaven and be steadfast in our love and support of Israel and the Jewish people.

I have come to the conclusion that John Poole’s daddy was correct when he shouted from the pulpit, “Some things fixen’ to happen; soon that will shake the very heavens.  You are going to be part of it, every soul on earth will be part of it, the only question is, on which side will you be? 

So, young warriors for Christ, keep in mind: “When all of these things happen to look up for your redemption draws nearer and nearer.” (Matthew 25: ) This you can take to the bank, God will never leave or forsake His chosen people and the apple of His eye, and He will never leave or forsake those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

Blessings


Gramps

Beginning Monday will be the first of the series "Did I Misunderstand?"