Saturday, December 30, 2017

New Year's Day- Number 84


"Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.  Before the mountains were born or You gave birth to the earth and the world.  Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.  You turn man back into dust and say, "Return, O children of men."  For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it passes by, or as a watch in the night" (Psalm 90:1-4).

Hey Gang, another year has been placed in the archives of history.    I sense that most folks would place the events of the past year in the "O woe is me” column.  Fifteen minutes listening to the local newscaster can elevate my blood pressure into the red zone.
 
It is then that I reread the Scripture of the day and reaffirm that my heart and soul are anchored to the King of kings and Lord of lords.  If I did not have that assurance, being the nervous type, I would be a frazzled mess.   

But I know that even before time began, God laid out a plan for this earth and for every person on this earth, an irrevocable plan and He has not neglected that plan or forsaken those who are locked into His word and Malachi 3:6 gives me the assurance that “God does not change”.  Awesome!

But it is a good time, as we stand between these two years, to do some evaluation of our lives. Looking back and remember some of the events of the year, its high points and its low points; the delights and disappointments that stick out in our memories - new great grand babies, the marriage of a loved one, the opportunity to pray for a brother or sister, and seeing God pour out His healing power on that loved one - all experiences etched in our mind and heart forever.

Looking ahead, do we have new hopes for the New Year?  Are we waiting with anticipation, high hopes and new dreams? True, everything that can be shaken is being shaken, but we know that God is still at the helm.  God is God and we are not.  It is a time when we need to be firmly entrenched in the fact that God is in control and we are not. 

Do we not get the idea that we are in control of the important things of life, when, in reality, it is God who controls death and life, day and night, seasons and times?  There are mega people in our country today who have seen their lives totally up-dumped by record-making fires, record-making wind, record-breaking floods and they are literally starting over from zilch. 
        
I would like to have the faculties to put Charles Swindoll’s “Four Greats” that should be firmly entrenched in our minds, as the Ball drops on Times Square:

1.      We have a Great God!  Our God has within Him power to accomplish all things He desires to do. 

James wrote these words to help keep our head screwed on right: "Come now, you who say, today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit."  Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow.  You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.  Instead, you ought to sway, "If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that." (James 4:13-15.)

2.     God is able to make this a great year! We may be looking at this coming year with fear and trepidation- but keep in mind God can make this year a great year for serving Him
.
3.     Don't be afraid to ask GREAT things of Him.  This is where the shoes hit the pavement.  If we believe that God can do great things, why don't we ask Him for them?

4.     The Lord delights in giving His children GREAT gifts.  God loves to give-it's His nature!

Soooo my friends and neighbors, brothers and sisters in Christ, do you believe that God can do great things?  What great things have you asked Him for recently?  

 We wish for each of you that you will have a deeper hunger to know and walk closer to the Lord in this New Year, and submit yourselves to be used by the Lord to spread the Good News that Jesus Christ is Lord and Coming Soon!

Blessings,

Gramps

P.S.  Here is a New Year’s resolution that you can keep “LOVE GOD, LOVE OTHERS AND SHARE JESUS!”


Friday, December 29, 2017

Christmas: THe Day Perfection entered the Earth!



Paul wrote, "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God"  (Romans 3:23).  I assume Mary was part of that "all", but she was also purified through God's grace, as is each person who accepts Jesus as Lord and Messiah.    

This we also know, the Word is clear, God cannot tolerate sin or even have sin in His presence.  I sense there was no greater pain to Father God than when He turned away from His Son, as Jesus hung on the cross as our sin-bearer. 

A point to ponder:  Was Mary sinless in the nine months she carried the Messiah in her body?   I would think she had opportunity to say or hold some thoughts that might be construed as sin, when the gossip-mill was active at the water well.  And how did Joseph feel that night when Mary called him aside and said there is something I need to share with you, "I am with child" but no worry, the Holy Spirit is the Father.  Can you imagine the agony he must have gone through between her announcement to him and the Angel of the Lord's visitation telling him "not to worry, she is with child of the Holy Spirit"?

With your permission I will do as I often do when teaching - take a side trip and give you some meat to chew on. Put yourself in Mary's shoes for a moment. How do you think she felt when a whole barn full of shepherds suddenly arrived in her palatial cave?  Keep in mind she had already had contact with angels. Do you think she felt super blessed, overwhelmed or perhaps even a little fearful?    This we do know from the Holy Writ, "…she treasured these things and pondered them in her heart (Lk 2:19).

Getting back to the question "Was she sinless during that nine- month period?  I have no question but that God gave Mary a special anointing when he said, "You are highly favored", I have a very special assignment for you, but does that mean she was sinless? Scripture says “All have sinned” (Rom 3:23). God knew her heart and purity of spirit.

My bride has entered into the world of genealogical studies of her family and mine.  It has sparked an interest in my mind and heart to know more about one Grandpa that I never had the privilege of knowing.  It is said that he was a fiery Mennonite preacher who made the rafters shake when he preached.  I would liked to have heard him.  But my real interest in knowing more about him is that he came from the Dutch-land of Germany where the Amish originated, was he Amish?    

If God reached down and said to me this morning, “Kermit, I am going to give you a very special gift.  I will open the door for you to interview any person who ever lived on this earth, my choice would be very easy.  No, I would not waste such a gift on my grandfather's background, but rather I would ask to interview Mary, the mother of our Lord.  Now some would say, why would you not choose to interview Jesus, her Son who takes away the sins of the world?  My answer, "We talk on an regular basis!"

I would say to her with Mark Lowery........
        "Mary did you know that your baby boy would someday walk on water?   Mary did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters?  Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?  This child that you've delivered, will soon deliver you.  Mary did you know that your baby boy would give sight to a blind man?  Mary did you know that your baby boy would calm a storm with his hand?  Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?  And when your kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God.

Oh Mary did you know The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the dead will live again. The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, the praises of the lamb Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?  Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?  Did you know that your baby boy is heaven's perfect Lamb?  This sleeping child you're holding is the great I AM?" 

My dear friends, who honor me by reading, what I pray God is saying through me in gramps morning thoughts, "Do you know that Jesus is the Lord of all creation" and one day He will rule all the nations?”   Perhaps we will celebrate Jesus’ next birthday in the New Jerusalem.  Come Lord Jesus! 

I ask you this morning "Do You Know Him personally?

Blessings,

Gramps

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Go Tell It On The Mountain

Jesus gave His charge: ‘God authorized and commanded me to commission you: go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Then instruct them in the practice of all that I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.”  (Matthew 28:18 The Message).

‘Go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere. Go tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is born!’

This simple American Negro Spiritual was passed down by oral tradition and first published in 1907. Many, who were in physical slavery, struggling in every way, looked to Father God above for strength, help and hope.  Thus, these spirituals have such deep meaning.  In these often, intolerable conditions, Scriptures were quoted and Bible Stories repeated.  Someone told the Good News to John Wesley Work, Jr. and he told the word with this song.

Today our culture is becoming very dark and many are in spiritual slavery.  We have learned that light chases darkness away and Jesus is the LIGHT and LIFE.  We need to shout the Good News of his birth and redemption from the mountain tops. His mission was to set the captives free. (Luke 4:18-20). We celebrate God’s gift of a baby – sweet and innocent.  People reach out to a baby – just check out the supermarket and the grandmothers ‘oohing and aahing’. 

BUT, as we learned after 9/11, people may reach out to God for comfort and peace, for a while, but the name of JESUS – not so. So powerful is His name that even the demons tremble and obey! Many in our culture use it in distain and we are accountable for all that we say. So, speak the Good News! Say with the angels “Good tidings of great joy!!! Unto you a Savior is born.” (Luke 2:10)    Jesu s, Name above all names: Savior. Redeemer. Coming King.  One day – maybe soon – “EVERY knee shall bow in heaven and earth and under the earth, and EVERY tongue confess that Jesus Christ is LORD to the glory of God the Father.”  Phil 2:10-11

Part of my selecting and giving gifts over the years, many of which I made, was the thrill of watching loved ones open them – sometimes after strange puzzles or treasure Hunts[ Gramps sent our kids to find. But hearts are often saddened and hurt when gifts are not acknowledged or enjoyed.  Jesus the God-man is God’s gift to us; so take off the wrapping, invite him in, be blessed by his love, and walk in His light. Jesus, the man, is our pattern for living.  Writer Henry Gariepy said, “Jesus became God’s self-disclosure.  In Jesus God entered humanity, and eternity invaded time.”

SOOO, my friends, Go, tell it on the mountains!  To your family, at school, at work and at play – Jesus Christ was born, lived a sinless life, died for our sins, was resurrected and today is sitting at the right hand of the Father – or maybe standing, readying the troops, and calling for our David, Ryan & Michael to groom and prepare the white stallion for His return as King of kings.  Go tell it on the mountains.

Blessings,

Gramps

Friday, December 22, 2017

Christmas - Answered Prayer

“Then the King will say to those on His right, “Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom, prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me” (Matt. 25:34-36).

Hey Gang:  My heart’s desire was to share with you Christmas Season stories that, to me are why Christmas is very special to Abba Father, and, therefore, for me personally.  Today’s story crossed my path many years ago in a rather worn and torn book titled The Case For Christmas by Lee Strobel.
It is the story of a young reporter who sat at his desk on a very quiet day in the Chicago Tribune newsroom.  Strobel wrote: As I sat there my mind began to take me back to a series of articles that I had written years before about the neediest people in Chicago.

The Delgado family consisted of a grandmother, Perfecta, and two grand-daughters, Lydia and Jenny.  They had recently been burned out of their previous, roach infested apartment and now lived in a two-room roach infested apartment in another tenement building.   Strobel continued: I was flabbergasted when I entered the apartment.  There was absolutely nothing in the apartment.  No furniture, no rugs, nothing on the wall.  The kitchen was less than what we would call meager and food supplies were very few and far between.

The girls did not have to choose what dress they would wear that day for school, for they each only had one.  No warm coat but one sweater between them that they shared on the cold days as they ran to school. 

Despite their poverty Perfecta had a warm persona about her and a smiled on her face.  She still talked confidently about her faith in Jesus.  She was sure in her heart that Jesus had not abandoned her and the girls and, one day He, Jesus, would hear her prayer and provide for their needs.  Strobel said, “I never sensed despair or self-pity in her home, instead there was a gentle feeling of hope and peace, even to the point where it gave me a guilty feeling in my heart for all that I had and did not appreciate.

After the visit he wrote an article of the plight of this family and move on to other projects; but this day he could not get the Delgado’s out of his mind.  His curiosity would not leave him so he decided there is only one way to find out – go and visit them this Christmas eve.  He expected to find an apartment with the same basic necessities missing, but hoped he would find them in more comfort than before.

To his amazement, when he opened the door, he was barely able to get inside.  The room was filled with furnishings or every type, hanging on the walls, carpets on the floors, the closet filled with food and the utensils to prepare for their meals and piles of gifts filled the open spaces.  The article he had printed spurred the hearts of many people across Chicago and, as always, happens, the people of America opened their hearts to the needs of these hurting people.

He found the Delgado’s making list of where this item would go, and another one over to that neighbor.  They were busy preparing to give many of the things that they had received to their neighbor.  When ask why they are doing that, grandma responded the way each and every one of us should answer that question as we near the birthday of Jesus.  She said, “This is a gift from God to be shared, but this is not His greatest gift – that we celebrate tomorrow and every day – that is Jesus and His great salvation”.

An interesting side bar to this story came later when the reporter, who dealt with and believed in only facts wanted to move on to other more important stories, but the memory of the Delgado story would not allow him to put the story in the dead-story file and move on.  A seed had been planted and somehow this Christmas was different.  “His final comment on this story: “I think I must do some digging and find out, ”Who was in that manger that day? How did how did He get there?  And why did He, the Son of God, choose to come to earth and walk in my shoes?  

Blessings,

Gramps  

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Christmas: Wonder and Awe


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 at least was a 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 “whisperings” 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:

1.  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 Re read them carefully.

2.  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 through repentance and faith in the finished work of the Son of God on the cross.

3.  That Christmas has a unique message in 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, has a priestly connection meaning 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 was used to prepare the body for its final resting place.

4.  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 ultimately sought the destruction of all of humankind. This battle continues! The enemy wants death for us all.

So good buddies, 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 on Christmas morning and there, together with all the family of God, give thanks for the gift of all gifts that became ours on Christmas Day.

Blessings,

Gramps


PS from Gma – Choose your favorite Christmas Carol and  read ALL the verses; see how much of the Life of Redemption you find.  Most of us think these only tell of Baby Jesus,  See if you see the Cross and Resurrection in the Carols.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Two Tool Boxes - You Choose!

“See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you listen to the commandments of the Lord which I am commanding you today: and the curse, if you do not listen to the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I am commanding you today, by following other gods which you have not known” (Deut. 11:26-28).
   
Hey Gang:  When you reach that stage of your life where you are older that dirt, much of your life is filled by praying for your friends and neighbors who are also members of the “older than dirt” generation.   Yesterday, we attended the funeral of a very close friend who, through the years of our friendship, often bailed me out with sound advice on many issues.

His loss created a hole that I will not try and fill.  There are some holes that are sacred to me and I do not want to fill:  the loss of my sons and others along the way who have added pearls of great price to my life.  As I sat there I believe God gave me this message to share with you. 

In the early tenure of our working with hurting families we title our workshops ’The Toolshed’.  Through the years of development of the Village we became much more sophisticated in our language and the “Toolshed” found its way into the archives.  However, several weeks ago, a hurting mom stopped me and asked a question pertaining to a problem she as having with her son. Suddenly the Toolbox illustration came flowing forth from my lips.    

But this time there were two toolboxes- with a message to the young people of or land.  I have a great sadness in my heart for our millennial kids- and they are kids.  We have failed them so horribly and I see them floundering- seeking something that will fill the vacuum in their chest cavity that is just the size of God.  As a counsellor in a detention home years ago, I saw an emptiness in the eyes of most of the kids that passed through he facility.  I see that same emptiness in many young people today.

The two tool boxes were labeled: one said Jesus Fringe Package and the other Satan’s Tools.  Both were based on Paul’s words in Galatians five.  A listing of Satan’s tools are found in Galatians 5:18-21.  The list is too long to include and is incomplete here.  We find other list throughout God’s Word with warnings that we need to heed very carefully.  Paul emphasizes the dangers of dabbling in Satan’s Toolbox in verse 21 when he warned, “…those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God”.  His warning sounds very clear.

But John tells us that if we have dabbled in Satan’s Tool Box, God provided antidote to fix the emptiness and pain that dabbling has caused in our mind and heart.  He gave us the fabulous news that is so familiar to mega people in our nation: “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).    
 
With that wondrous gift to His creation, Paul tells us He (God) included a Tool Box filled with fringe benefits, on that day when Father God breathed life into His Son and up from the grave He arose. And, if we choose, we can be freed from the bondage of sin.  What are those fringe benefits?  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against these things there is no law” (Gal 5:22-23).

Every morning, when we begin our day, those same two Tool Boxes are on the breakfast table:  we all have the opportunity to choose which one to pick up - the one that feeds the white dog? or the one that feeds the black dog?    As you choose, keep Paul’s warning in mind: “HE WHO PRACTICES SUCH THING WILL NOT INHERIT THE KINGDOM.”

Blessings,

Gramps

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Christmas Today!


“Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.  Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (II cor. 9:6-7).

Hey Gang:  There is so much I want to share in this epistle.  I believe to do an adequate job, or covering each point clearly, would take many pages- so let me just throw out the high points of my yesterday, and you can use your imagination to fill in the blanks. 


As I stood on the taxi-way of the Big Rapids Airport yesterday, my mind and heart was filled with many wonderful flashbacks of days gone by.   I always get a wee bit, perhaps more than wee it, excited when I drive down the entry way to an airport.   You see, even as a little squirt I had a love for airports; my brother, Col. D. C Hainley, who earned a bronze star for his exploits as a fighter pilot in the United State Air Force, was my hero. 

I dreamed that I would follow in his footsteps one day, but that was not God’s design.  But He did allow me to play a very important role in the world of airplanes by allowing me to become an Air Traffic Controller.  I have been asked may times what was more stressful, handling peak traffic over the Pittsburgh Omni or trying to control fifty of the most unpredictable beings on earth, teen agers who have made bad decisions?   My answer not hard:  Air Traffic Control is peak stress but control of kids who lacked basic foundation controls is on-going stress, never ceasing!

So, how does seven years of Air Traffic Control set the table of fifty years of working with kids with behavior maladies?  The stress of ATC built scar tissue for what was to come. 

But that is not the main topic I want to share with you this morning.   As I stood there on the taxi way I was in the midst of a miracle! A miracle of love, sacrifice and giving.  It was the day of a the annual Fly-In.  More than thirty airplanes arrived at the Big Rapids Airport- each packed tightly with gifts.  Gifts for whom? For kids who would have no gifts, if they did not come from airports in the Southern Michigan. 

How does this happen?  There is an organization, consisting and hundreds of people who are committed to assuring every kid in the foster care system will not only receive a gift but a special gift as per their request!  Everything from bicycles, to mini cars to mega huge packages with names- very special names on each.  Four trailers sat on the taxi-way and hundreds of volunteers (including students from Ferri), from the three counties where the gifts will be distributed, came and made long lines from the aircraft to the trailers. 

The name of the organization is Operation Good Cheer.  Now, think about this miracle.  Nearly 20,000 gifts must be purchased and paid for, by the donor.  The gifts are taken to a process center in southern Michigan where, after the child is matched to gifts, they which are wrapped and gift-name and code- identifying the trailer it will go into on arrival at the various airports. These gifts are then transported to the airports around Detroit for processing and assigned to an aircraft.  They fly all over the State and some pilots make more than one run!

Let me emphasize once gain THIS IS A ONE HUNDRED PERCENT VOLUNTEER EFFORT-on the part of a thousand or more people and I might add a very expensive exercise of deep love on the part of all who participate for these kids. 

Four generations at Operation Good Cheer -December 2015  Gramps, Michael, granddaughter and three Great grands.

Why, as I stood there did the tears flow? First, my son who was the coordinator of the big Rapids program for over 20 years.  In 2015,  two weeks before his final day of his life on earth, drove himself to the Big Rapids Airport  just to be part of it one last time.  Second, I had a daughter, three grand kids (one drove from Auburn, Indiana with her family to participate) and spouses, several great grands also involved.  Third, because I played a tiny part years ago to getting this program off and running. 

Daughter and grandson of other daughter          Great grand Emmerick helping uncle Corey - this trailer was overflowing!











Now one might think a program of this magnitude and purpose, to bring joy to children who do not have a great deal of joy in their lives would be worthy of having the national press there to see this miracle in action but there were none. The local press put it on the front page!

The thought came into my mind - all of those over paid athletes who took a knee when Our National Anthem is sung, should have been loaded up and made to stand and watch this giving sacrificially- to make a lot of kids feel better about themselves because a whole barn full of people cared for them.

Father, I thank you for every single person who was involved in this gift of love.  I pray that same spirit of giving will penetrate every home this Christmas Season.  I pray all will look beyond the glitter of the season to Jesus -the true “reason for the season”.



Blessings,

Gramps

Friday, December 8, 2017

Christmas Yesteryear


“Praise the Lord!  How blessed is the man who fears the Lord, Who greatly delights in His commandments.  His descendants will be mighty on earth.  The generation of the upright will be blessed.  Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever” (Psalm 112:1-3).

Hey Gang:  It’s that time of the year again when we dig into the closets and pull out last year’s decorations in preparation for the Christmas Season.  On my way back from taking our accumulated thrash to the recycle center, it was wonderful to hear that our President has said “Merry Christmas” is allowed and welcomed in our Nation once again.   I don’t know about you, but I did not pay much attention to the attempted movement to remove, not only the Merry Christmas greeting, but also “Jesus, the Reason for the Season”.

In my digging I came across a very special box, a box filled with prayer journals from yester year.  You see when I passed the seventy- year plateau I began to have a problem hanging onto what I was reading and especially keeping my mind focused when I was praying.   So, I began to practice what I preached in my work with children, who also had a hard time hanging onto important things – like the Bible, I began to journal my prayers. 

So, I dug into the box and after going though fifty or more journals I found the very first one, dated June 23, 2006.  My very first entry was “Father, I pray with depth of heart “…that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to me a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him” (Eph. 1:17).     That prayer has been on my lips since He called us to do as Abraham did- pack up our family, put our total trust in Him, and move to a distant land.   

I then turned to my entry on Christmas morning to see what I included on my wish list to the throne room that year.  I began by wishing the Lord a happy birthday.  It matters not whether He was born on this day.  I just want to praise You for Your fabulous gift of creation.  I thank You, Lord, I did not evolve from a slimy wiggling thing that crawled out of a swamp but am formed in the image of Christ.

I praised Jesus that day for His willingness to leave the perfection of the heavenlies, seated at the right hand of the Father, to come to earth and walk in my shoes.  We were blessed to be volunteering at the African Inland Mission Retirement Village in Florida that winter, among a group of people who truly knew the meaning  of His Words- “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). 

Those in at this Retirement Village have served thirty years or more spreading the gospel in the African nations.  There bodies were in Mineola, Florida, but their hearts were with the people in whom they had invested their lives. I learned from these dear loving people what the word retirement really means – ‘when we are truly committed to Christ as our Lord and Savior, there is no such thing as retirement! They taught Sunday school, after school Bible classes, mail in Bible studies, English as second language, visited the sick and needy and PRAYED!!!!!

Eleven years have passed since their sharing their lives with us but I remember that experience well for it added a richness to my life.  Missionary Pastor Roy, after sharing that one of the saintly warriors had passed away that morning said her last words were, “Pastor Roy, I am going to see my Jesus today!”  He also said, “These people finish well because they know where they are going!”

The last entry in my prayer journal, that Christmas morning, was “Lord, I pray that I will truly learn what it means to die to self; that I will recognize those things that do not bring honor and glory to you and ask your strength to send those things packing”.   

What is your focus this Christmas Season?  Perhaps it is the last Christmas Season – ae you ready to celebrate with Christ at the Marriage Feast of the Lamb?


Blessings,

Gramps

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Need a Shot of Encouragement?

"For are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them" (Eph. 2:10).

Hey Gang:  Do you know what God's desire is for you today?  Paul answers this question in Ephesians 1:18-19a: "I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe"

And how do we make this happen?  We don't; "It comes through the working of the strength of His (God's) might which He brought about in Christ" (v.19b-20a).

One of the first lessons I learned as a new Christian was that God is a compulsive decorator.  If you are sincere in your commitment to Him as Lord of your heart, be advised He will place you on the potter’s wheel and begin to cut and scrap and whittle in an effort to make you into the image of His Son.  

I suspect this might account for some of the discomfort we feel, for open heart surgery can be a very uncomfortable trip through the wilderness.  We don't mind it much when a new coat of paint is added or new carpet laid, but we can become a wee-bit-testy when He begins to dig into the crevices and deal with those sacred idols that we tend to want to hang onto. 

God's intent for His children: "That we not walk in the counsel of the wicked nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!  But His delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His Law he meditates day and night" (Psa. 1:1-2).

So, lads and lassies, notice God's promise in verse three: "You will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers"
(Psa. 1:3). 

What are you?  A tree firmly planted or "chaff which the wind drives away?" (v.4b).

Blessings,


Gramps

Thursday, November 30, 2017

-Assessment Time


"Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming, If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him." (I John 2:28-29; read also 3:1-9)

Hey Gang: Read that verse again.  John says, "Abide in Him" always, so that when He appears we do not have to shrink into the shadows because of the things we have been doing with our lives.  In essence, John is saying that when we claim we are children of God, we need to look a heap different than when we were­- without Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

There is no greater miracle in the world than to see a drunk from skid row suddenly come to the realization there is a God who loves him and stands ready to fix and restore his live and even use them to His glory. 

His life was a mess.  He had drunk away his family, his home and business and his health but one day when he was on his back in a gutter with an empty bottle, God spoke to him: “Harold, I have something I want you to do for me.  I want you to get up out of the gutter, clean yourself up and prepare to go into all the land and preach My word”.  The transforming power of God reached deep into his gizzard and he became a powerful man of God to those who also found themselves in the gutters of this world.   

In this passage of Scripture John gives us a panoramic view of what it is like to be a child of God and fully engrained in the family of God. This is a passage that we should take-a-peek at periodically and check our commitment level to Yeshua.  In John 2:29 we read that we should “…be confident and content in our walk with God.  Are you confident and content this morning?

In verse 3:1 John tells us that we should enjoy God's love.  In essence God says, "I claim you".  Notice, in verse two He says, "Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be ."  Is it not awesome, and sometimes a wee-bit hard to totally comprehend, that God said, "You are my body, my family, I call you my children?”

It would have been nice, if John would have put a period at the end of this verse and left it but, he did not.  He went on to say, "No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God." (verse 9). 

I believe the key word in the Scripture of the day is “practices".  Do we sin? yes, "…all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23), but practicing sin is a horse of a different color;  Scripture says, "... practice righteousness!!

Blessings,

Gramps  

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Did You Know Not Everything Is God's WIll?

“For what I am doing, I do not understand’ for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate”.  ”For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.  For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want” (Rom. 7:15, 18-19).

Hey Gang:  If there is anything I have learned in my 84 years on this earth is that life is not just a series of random freak accidents.  Paul wrote: “For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate” (Rom. 7:15).  But in the very next chapter he writes, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28).

I was going through my archives the other day and came across an article that had no title and no author, but it rang my bell and screamed “Blog”.  In this day when everything that can be shaken is being shaken makes one wonder, “Is there any sanity left on earth?” The answer? Probably “yes”, if you have Biblical understanding of what Jesus meant when He said, “When all of these things begin to happen, look up for your redemption draws near” (Luke 21:28).

Now, here is a thought for you to chew on this morning, our lives are not totally unplanned, nor without meaning.  God knows precisely your every move.  If He knows every hair on your head, He surely knows about the things that move and shake us.   He began weaving the tapestry that would become your life even before you arrived.  Think for a moment about the bad and happy times that you have been blessed to experience that has brought color into your existence.  Do you have the truth fixed firmly in your heart and mind- that nothing can come into the life of a child who is walking with God without God’s permission?   In essence, everything is “Father-filtered”.

Now wait a minute, Hainley.  Are you saying God allows bad things to happen to us?  “Yes!”  These, the very things that you wish were mere mist and removed from your life, are often the very things that God is using to shape you and make you into the bond servant He wants you to be.”  

Does that mean that everything that happens to me in life is God’s will?  No, I do not believe that!   When God created man, He put a thing into our very souls called self-will and gave us the power to go our own way, do our own thing and totally reject His open arms policy.  The Suffering Servant Scripture makes this point abundantly clear: “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6).  

Paul said, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” (I Cor. 11:1).  But he also said, “I do the very things I hate” (Rom. 7:14).  Note, he did not leave it lay there but went on to give us the antidote to being an overcomer: “Wretched man that I am!  Who will set me free from the body of this death, thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!   (Rom. 24-25a).

The point: the world is filled with bangles and beads, frills and fads, and Satan is forever bringing new ways for us to disobey, as Eve did in the garden, and for us to choose to follow the evil one’s path away from Christ as Savior and Lord. That my friends, is certainly not God’s will!!

Year’s ago, when I was on the cold roast beef, mashed potatoes and peas circuit, I always made it a point to pray that God would give me something fresh to share with the group.   On one such trip I stopped at a Burger King to grab a snack. I noticed a Star Wars advertisement in very bold print: “YOUR CHOICES DETERMINE YOUR DESTINATION”.  That rang my bell but, when I was back on the road again a thought entered my mind that the saying was incomplete; it should have read “YOUR VALUES DETERMINE YOUR CHOICES WHICH DETERMINE YOUR DESTINATION!”    I wonder where that thought came from? A saying I have used many times.

Blessings,


Gramps

Thursday, November 23, 2017

When Was the Last Time You Said, "Thank You Abba' Father" From the Depths of Your Soul?


“Let all the earth fear the Lord; Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.” “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; The people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance.”  “Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, On those who hope for His lovingkindness” (Psa. 33:8, 12, 18).

Hey Gang, Did you know that our Founding Fathers openly recognized that God was the source of a successful nation? They were aware of our need for God, if we were to be a healthy nation.  George Washington said, “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”  They knew that, if the nation was going to work, its people needed to voluntarily live by God’s rules. 

My Bride and I have been truly blessed this year as we have traversed a devotional book compiled by Dr. Richard G. Lee, titled In God We Still Trust.  It consists of quotes from many of our Founding Fathers, and others who have succeeded them, openly acknowledging that a nation without God was a nation that would soon join all the civilizations that have gone before that did not recognize this truth. 

On October 3, 1863, in the midst of the civil War, President Abraham Lincoln called Americans to a National Day of Thanksgiving and Praise.  He proclaimed “No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things.  They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.  It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.  I do, therefore, invite my fellow citizens…to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our Beneficient Father who dwells in the Heavens.

He went on and implored the Lord to heal the wounds of our great Nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and Union.” 

Henry Ward Beecher wrote, “The Bible is God’s chart for you to steer by, to keep you from the bottom of the sea, and to show you where the harbor is, and how to reach it without running on the rocks or bars.”

In his 1815 Thanksgiving Proclamation, President James Madison reminded his audience:  “No people ought to feel greater obligations to celebrate the goodness of the great Disposer of Events of the destiny of nations than the people of the United States…And to the same Divine Author of Every Good and Perfect Gift we are indebted for all those privileges and advantages, religious as well as civil, which are so richly enjoyed in this favored land”.

Times have changed.  We may be the only culture in the world that openly acknowledges God in our Constitution, on our money, and on Thanksgiving, but refuses to allow God to be named in any of our public intuitions.  As a nation, we are working hard to push God out of our lives. Ignoring God is not unusual, it began in the Garden of Eden with the statement, “You surely will not die, you can be just like God”.  The history of the world is really the story of people finding new ways to reject God.  

My prayer for you this day is that you will turn your face towards God from the depths of your soul this Thanksgiving.  That you will do more than thank Him for the good things in your life but give your heart to Him with a new and deeper commitment and that Thanksgiving day will be a daily ThanKsliving event in your life and not just a one day passing celebration.

Have a Blessed and happy Thanksliving Year,

Gramps

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Are You Thankful To God?


“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another is psalms and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father” (Eph. 5:18-20).

Hey gang, Have you ever thanked God for the miracles and blessings that He freely gives to you, even if you are not even aware?  In my travels I picked up the following story that I especially like:

It seems a person died and, soon after arriving in heaven, in his orientation he was scheduled for a tour of heaven. The guide was very clear in explaining what each building was and many housed neat things that God had provided for His children; but the guide avoided one long building that set off by itself.  Several times the new-arrive-e asked what was in that building, but the guide ignored him.  Finally, at the end of the tour, the guide asked for questions and, of course, the new arrive-e once again asked, “What is in that building?”

Within the building were long lines of shelving, ground to roof, covered with paper bags tied with ribbons.  When asked what they were for, the guide said, “Each person has a bag here that has, within it, the blessings God wanted to give the recipients but they choose not to accept.  

We are getting close to that day designated as “Thanksgiving Day.  It is my sincere opinion that designating a day called Thanksgiving is, in reality, designed for those who are non- believers.   Why do I say that?  Because Paul teaches us “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I Thess. 5:18.

Example.  Several years ago, I was pulling my recreation vehicle home from a weekend in the woods. We were on a back road and I was doing around fifty miles an hour when a car pulled out of a driveway, about five hundred feet in front of us. 

Corrective action preventing my hitting the car, but shortly after the driver slammed on the breaks and began to make a left turn off the roadway.  There was no way in the world I was going to keep from plowing into that car but somehow, I do not have a clue how, I missed the car.   I have thought about that incident each time I drive by that spot and thank God for what He did that day.

Have you ever taken the time to sit down and make a listing of the times God blessed you with a very special blessing?  Have you ever considered the times He may have saved your life and you knew nothing about it?  Are you one who tends to use the phrase “Boy that was a lucky break?”

If “…the will of God in Christ Jesus is to give thanks to God in everything” every believer should give thanks and be grateful at all times.  Gratitude is a feeling of thankfulness and appreciation of everything that Almighty God is doing in our daily life. 

So, young colleagues, may I suggest that, sometime in the leisure of your Thanksgiving celebration, take your Bible and concordance and do a word study on thanksgiving and gratitude.  You will find many such references in both Old and New Covenants - for it is God’s will. 

Have you recently turned down any of God’s blessings that He designed especially for you?

Blessings,

Gramps

Friday, November 17, 2017

"The Three Minute Temptation Buster" Part 3

“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be temped beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” (I Cor. 10:13). 

Hey Gang, Continuing the story of the tough-hombre.  In the month or so after I loaded the tough-hombre on a bus to send him to the facility where he would pull his time, he was never out of my mind.  A seed had been planted and was growing - we should purchase a large house and take in four boys who needed a shirt tail to hang onto into. 

But the months turned into a year and nothing was happening until a very strange thing happened one day when I was cutting the grass.  A neighbor, who I did not know, approached me out of the blue and said, “I understand you are going to sell your house!”  If so I want to buy it!”   It reminded me of the gent who prayed for an answer from God and, when he received it, he said to the Lord, “If that was for me, give me another shot.” 

We did not ask for another shot but, we did pray that if that was a sign that the time had come for us to pack up our family and place ourselves totally in God’s hands, He would provide the finances to make t`he move.  At that time income tax returns were taking several months but miracle two occurred when our income tax was returned two weeks later.   

We accepted the sale of the house and income tax return to be a clear enough message that we should begin packing.  (Note:  Did you know God knows how to close doors as well as open them?)   

But, this morning I want to do some soul searching with you.  In the past several weeks, since Mr. Donald Trump became President Donald Trump, the prophecy gurus have been very busy.  I confess some of the articles are ‘pie-in-the-sky type’ and have found the circular file.  But one that caught my attention that is a composite of many, 16 trusted Christian teachers who are, and have been saying essentially the same thing…that we have more reason than at any other time in history to believe Christ’s return could happen in our day.  

Does it make me feel a wee-bit apprehensive to say that? Yes, I have heard similar messages all of my 84 years on earth.  But I have studied the prophetic word and read what many of the gurus have written.  These are listed in no particular order and this is most certainly only a partial list.  I have read and studied the writings of Dwight Pentecost and Dr. John F. Walvoord, both who spent many years in research and teaching at Dallas Theological Seminary. 

Other familiar names, who have dedicated their lives to studying the mysteries of the Word and sharing their findings with those who also seek to know God’s time-tables, are Dr. David Jeremiah, Billy Graham, Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, Dr. Tim LaHaye, Thomas Ice and more recently Bill Koenig, Anne Graham Lotz, and Robert Jeffress.

Now hear this my young friends! Each has said, in one way or another, that conditions of our day perfectly parallel the Biblical narrative for the end time (as it was in the days of Noah).  There are specific signs that Jesus gave, during the Olivet discourse, especially in Matthew 24 and Luke 21.  And we are the only generation to see the return of the Jews to their land and restore their Hebrew language after two thousand years.

As I close this trilogy, I would suggest you take the words of an old country preacher who cried out,  “Something is fixing to happen and I am fixen’ to be part of it”.  Make sure you are part of it!

Blessings,

Gramps

Monday, November 13, 2017

"The Three Minute Temptation Buster" Con't

“This is the confidence we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us and if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him” (I John 5:14-15).

Hey Gang:  Do you have confidence before Him?  Have you asked Him for something according to His will?  Have you planted a seed this day that will grow into a beautiful flower?    Throughout the New Testament we find Jesus words, “Ask and I will give you the desires of your heart”.  What are the desires of your heart?  

And now for the rest of the story!  As a government employee working in a government facility with government controlled kids, there was the ever present “BIG BROTHER” awaiting to pounce on anyone who approached a kid with an olive wreath in their mouth, no matter if their hearts desire was to find something that would fill that empty place in their chest cavity. 

Let me put some meat and potatoes on that statement.  It was a rainy night in California, which was very unusual for that time of the year, when the boys in blue brought one of those tough-hombre kids into the facility for holding.  He was well known in the system, as one who had earned the reputation to be very close to the top of the toughest of all time hombres list.  

We had a very special two-cell unit in a part of the facility that was separated and especially secure.  It consisted of a cell of steel inside a cell of re-enforced cement with provision for me to be able to care for his needs without opening the steel door.

For the sake of time and space, let’s jump to the chase of the story about this dangerous hombre.  As a senior counselor, it was my job to check the tough-hombre every half hour.  On one of the rounds he asked for something to read.  It was the first time I knew that he could be civil and accepted it as positive.   

Now, I confess, he had given me enough grief in his short tenure with us that when I gave him a Gideon Bible it was not for the right reason, and, he did not accept it for the right reason.  On the next check he was up to his knees in Gideon Bible paper.  On the next check- round I found the very tough-hombre sitting against the wall with a piece of Bible paper in hand.  And then it happened, he asked for another Bible.  You see he had only half of the story and he desperately wanted the other half. 

That night Satan lost one of his very tough-hombres when a hard-heart heard the voice of Jesus and said “Yes, I would like to give you a try”.  Several days later tough-hombre was transferred to another facility where he was sentenced to spend ten or more years for his transgressions, but God- had something else in mind for him! The door opened for his released in two years and returned to his old stomping grounds- but for a different reason; he returned as an evangelist to the kids that were traversing the same wide road that held him in bondage. 

You see, God changed the heart of that tough hombre that night before my very eyes to show me that all of those tough-hombres, who had passed through my life, could traverse the same road that Larry traversed- if I would follow Jesus mandate and, if I would recognize that they too were not mere case files but real alive living creations of God.  I began to realize that night that God was leading me away from locking up bad hombres to bringing light into the lives of children who have not had a fair shake in their lives.

With your permission I want to add one more chapter to this story.  That I will do in the third chapter of “The Three Minute Temptation Buster”.

Blessings,


Gramps