Monday, February 27, 2017

Watch What You Say and Do, For Someone is Watching You!

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma” (Eph. 5:1-2).     

Hey Gang:  When I was a little squeezer I tried to be an imitator of all my heroes.  Saturday morning was a ritual in my life, I would truck off the movie theater and watch the Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, the Lone Ranger and all of the heroes of that day’s serials.  And on the way home from the theater I visualized myself as an imitator of those great heroes. 

 But the agreement with my mom was, I could go to be with my heroes in the morning but my afternoon belonged to her.  It did not take long after arriving home- that the dreams of riding my stallion into the sunset to save the poor damsels that were in distress- went by the board and reality set in, as she laid out the chores of the day

As I read the many wonderful stories in the Bible, I would often put myself into those stories and dream that I had my armor on, with helmet down and sword in hand that was fighting for the Lord and leading His warriors to victory.  When God called us to come to Michigan to open a home for kids that were having adjustment problems, there was a two-year period when I was ‘The only unemployed director of a non-existent boys home’ and, I confess, I did a lot of imitating.  I imitated the Floyd Starr’s, the Cal Farley’s and even Father Flanagan who had been led by God to do as I prayed God had called me to do.

My question to you this morning, is it okay to be an imitator?  Is it okay to dream big dreams where God uses you in very special way?  Isaiah 6:8 became very special to me: “Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send and who will go for Us?”  then I said, “Here am I, Send Me!”   

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

He also wrote, “Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good” (1 Thess. 5:21).  But notice, he laid a solid foundation for this statement;  “Rejoicing always, praying without ceasing, giving thanks for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus and being careful not to quench the Spirit, nor despising prophetic utterances” (I Thess. 5:16-20).

And how do we become imitators of Christ? Once, again, we turn to the words of Paul, “Walk in love, just as Christ also loves you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma” (Eph. 5:2).

So my young friends, as I told my staff many times, it is not what you say, it is how you carry yourself.  Do the kids see something they want to imitate?   How about you?



Friday, February 24, 2017

Learning Can Be Painful 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, bit 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 in my mind and was growing- that we should purchase a large house and take four boys who needed a ‘shirt-tail to hang onto’ into our home. 

But the months turned into a year and nothing was happening.  And then a very strange thing happened. One day, when I was cutting the grass, my neighbor, who I did not know, offered to buy our home.  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 this was a sign that He had something in mind for us He would provide the finances for us to pack up and move our family across country.  Our income tax was returned in record time and I received a refund from my retirement package which provided the needed money to move.  This in itself was a miracle, for income tax returns at that time were taking three to four months to return;  ours came in two weeks.

We did not say, Lord, if you meant that as a sign for us that we should pack it and leave for Michigan, even knowing there was no job waiting, we had sold all of our furniture, our finances were very limited and I had a wife and four kids to care for, give us another shot.  We accepted the sale of the house and income tax return to be a clear enough messagea that we should begin packing.  (Note:  Did you know God knows how to close doors as well as open them?)    

One day I will share with you the trip across country and the two years of anxiety and pain as God prepared us for what was to come.

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 caught my attention and is a composite of 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 in all of my 83 years on earth.  But I have studied the prophetic word and read what many of the pros have written.  These are listed in no particular order and this is most certainly 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 include Dr. David Jeremiah, Billy Graham, Rabbi Jonahan Cahn, Dr. Tim LaHaye, Dr. Thomas Ice and more recently Bill Koenig, Anne Graham Lotz, Robert Jeffress and Dr. Chuck Missler.”

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.  There are specific signs that Jesus gave during the Olivet Discourse, especially in Matthew 24 and Luke 21.  I would suggest that you give some serious study time to these chapters. 

As I mentioned above, I have spent many years seeking God’s understanding in His many promises in the Word pertaining to this Last Day period and it is always a joy when your findings parallel the finding of some of world famous prophecy writers of yester-year and today.

I close with a request from each of you who have read this epistle.  I receive many prophecy related reports across my computer each week, reports that each of you should know about but, according to my records there are very few of you that have read the messages I have sent on the other blog site.   My major emphasis remains on the salvation and growth messages here, but if I find there is interest in the,  I will continue with those on Saturdays and send along some of the more profound things that are happening in the world today.

So, I am asking all who read the What’s Happening Man blog to simply hit the reply message and l say yes or no.



Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Learning Can Be Painful part two

“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 heart’s 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 had earned the reputation to be very close to the top of my ‘toughest of all time hombres’, so we felt it was best to keep him separated from the rest of tough hombres in the section. 

We had a very special two cell unit, in another 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-round he was up to his knees in ible 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 on of his very tough hombres when a hard heart heard the Word 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 he went to old stomping grounds, but for a different reason –now he was 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 that 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 life 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.  



Monday, February 20, 2017

Learning Can Be Painful

“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever” (John 14:16) 

Hey Gang:  I want to share a piece of wisdom that I have acquired on the roadways and by-ways of this world.  That temptation is a way of life!  Now, I am sure that is not a new revelation to you.  And temptation leads to which dog you will feed today – the white dog or the black dog.

Bruce Wilkerson in his book The 3-minute Temptation Buster made a point that I can identify with: “Each time I am confronted with temptation my emotions send me messages of internal agitation”
While working in a detention facility in California, I had occasion to work with some very tough hombres and enjoyed chewing the fat with them.  You see, most of these hombres had never just ‘sat down and had a true conversation’ with someone.  I wanted to know what was going on in their heads and their hearts. So, each night after we had put the kids down for the night, I would get one youth out of his room and went on a fishing expedition.

Ted was a unique sort of lad that made my top ten list of the toughest kids I saw go through juvvy, while I was there. He was one of the top dogs in a gang and it was suggested that he had probably taken a life or two of a rival gang member.  At that time, with the Watt’s riots still fresh in every ones minds, it was open season on rival gang members.  Kind of like Chicago today. 

One of my favorite questions: “Have you ever been to church?”  This I followed with, “Have you ever heard of the man called Jesus?”  Most did not have a clue who Jesus was.  From there I did some probing to learn if they had ever felt love, not surface sex-type, but love from deep in their gut.  The response was usually the same.  It was the same look you might have, if you had been locked in a cellar for all of your life and knew there must be something better out there but you had not had the luxury of experiencing it.

I asked these questions setting the lads up for this question, “You have done some pretty nasty things in your life.  Did you ever feel deep in pit of your stomach that what you were doing was wrong? 
Did you ever wish you had not done them?  Did you ever dream that one day you would find a rainbow or pot of gold and your life would be more than the pain and agony that has been your life?”

Tragically most would say, “When I was a little guy I would dream of my mom and dad together in a house on a street where we were a happy family, but I don’t dream of that anymore because I know it is an impossible dream.

When I asked them if they knew in their heart that what they were doing was wrong, the response was always the same; “Ah, ya, Man!  Something in here, pointing to their chest cavity, lets me know.”  But they also said, “As you grow older that voice is weaker and weaker and it is easier to hurt people without feeling sad or guilty.

In my three year tenure in the Juvenile Hall I had conversations with a hundreds of kids asking these basic questions and, of those on my top-ten list of toughest hombres, nearly every one of these bad hombres had a heart that had been destroyed because no one had dug deep into their heart or given them any hope.

Most of these bad hombres were in my section awaiting parole violation hearings and shipment to another facility where they would be locked in cages with the intent of fixing them.  In my question sessions with bad dudes of the juvenile underworld, I heard each screaming,

I am somebody! I am a life! I am not a case file in your file cabinet! I had feelings too deep for you to understand because you have no desire to dig deep into my soul and find out what makes me tick!  We had a saying in the Juvenile Hall, we could tell how tough a kid really was by how long he cried at night!

Last night, I had a problem finding a comfortable position for my arthritic body.  On many of those nights there is a parade of tough hombres that marches through my brain, there is Fritz, Ted, Swan, Lon and Dennis.  There is Michael, Larry, Dennis, Charlie, and the list goes on.  I wonder if any of them found that rainbow.

Tune in tomorrow for the rest of the story, but then again perhaps you do not want know the rest of the story!



Friday, February 17, 2017

Are You Up to Speed in Your Eternal Insurance?

Hey Gang:  Do you have any special verses that you can grab when the ‘rubber-hit’s-the-road?”  If someone were to ask me that question, I would be hard pressed to give them one or two verses, for the entire Word of God is so very special to me. For me personally, I believe the entire fifteenth chapter of John contains a tremendously powerful message. But, as I thought about what I would challenge your heart with this morning, God seemed to direct me to a portion of that chapter: 

“Abide in Me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless, you abide in Me.  I am the vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in Me, and I am the vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit, for without Me you can do nothing.  If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered, and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.  If you abide in Me, and MY words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you” (John 15:4-7).

Jesus said, “Abide in me”.  In verse sixteen we read words that should set our hearts on fire. You did not choose Me BUT I CHOOSE YOU, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.”   

As a little squeezer, I was not one of the better athletes on the block and when it came to picking up teams, I was always apprehensive as to whether I would ever be chosen.  But here we read the God of the universe chose me! Say that with me, “The God of the universe chose me!”.  What does that say?  In God’s sight, we are worthy to be chosen of God. 

Now, notice John also tells us that when God chose us, and we become ‘fruit producers’, there is a promise from Abba Father attached to it: “Whatever you ask of the Father in my name He may give to you”.   

What say you?  As you read this Scripture could you feel a sense of power building up deep in your heart? Is it not a joy to know that the God of this entire universe, the Creator of all things invites us to abide in Jesus, His Son?   Wow, is that not awesome?  John begins this chapter by making sure that we know there are many types of vines, but only one true vine and that is Jesus Christ. 

One of the great blasphemies of the day is: “There are many roads to God.”  Don’t you believe that for one moment?  Jesus said, I am the way, and the truth, and the life; NO ONE comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6).  He also taught us to be very careful as the end of the age approaches – there will be many false teachers, prophets, preachers who will lead us down the “Prime-Rose-Path”.  

As you read this chapter pay very special attention to the “ifs”.  I love the little insignificant words (trigger words) of the Bible for many times what follows is a truth, perhaps a prerequisite that adds truth and power to the principle involved, and we need to pay special attention.

One last point before I close this epistle.  Notice: out of this passage we can compile a list of things for which we are chosen and to which we are called.  In verse 11 we are told that abiding in the vine brings pure and full joy into our lives.  In verse 13 Jesus gives us the truth that “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends, and in the very next verse He gives us a wonderful piece of news “You are My friends, (notice the if – the prerequisite) IF you do what I command you.   Joy, love and friends with Christ – now that, my friends, is “out of sight!”

I ask you again, “Are you up to speed in your eternal insurance?”  I close with one more “IF’ that is key to the grafting process: “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just like I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love” (vs. 10).  How do we do that?  Paul said “Be an imitator of God” (Eph. 5:1).



Wednesday, February 15, 2017

There Is A Sadness In My Heart

“No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; And every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn.  This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, And their vindication is from Me,” declares the Lord” (Isaiah 54:17).

Hey Gang:  On our most recent trip to Israel, we arrived at the Ben Gurion Airport shortly after it was announced that Donald J. Trump was our new president.  While there, a young man, that I believe was from England, asked how I felt about the outcome.  I commented, when things are not going well in any situation, it is always best to try a different road and pray that it works out better.  That is my prayer for Donald J. Trump.

But, as I watched the news, and I seldom do that these days- too depressing, and see the rioting in the streets, the rebellion on college campuses, and the refusal on the part of our leaders to lay down their gauntlets and join hands to fulfill the new Presidents desires “To Make America Strong Again”, I felt a sadness like I have never felt before for my country.

A sadness not for myself, I have been blessed with 83 years and will one day soon move on to the  eternal part of my life, but for my grands and great grands.  I feel a shame deep in my soul for the world that I will leave them. 

In our morning devotions, my bride and I are reading two books, one by Dr. Richard G. Lee, titled In God We Still Trust. The theme of the book is found in Psalm 34:12 “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord”.  It is a powerful book that tells the reader of the profound evidence of how the Bible impacted on the building of the foundations of our nation and how our nation has been blessed by God for our faithfulness in living true to those roots. 

The second book is titled The Book of Mysteries by Jonathan Cahn.  We have been an avid fan of Rabbi Cahn’s writing since he wrote The Harbinger and The Mystery of the Shemitah, both excellent books, if you are seeking Christian direction on what is happening.  I believe Rabbi Cahn is a prophet for this day, along with several others.

The morning devotion for today was titled “The Serpent’s Blood”.  The object of the devotion was a “snake”.  I don’t know about you, but I do not like snakes.   As a child growing up in the mountains of Pennsylvania we had copperheads and rattle snakes that we had to be fearful of.  I can remember my parents continually reminding us that snakes are cowards and live under stones. 

Cahn’s Devotional is a conversation between Teacher and Student. The student asked, “Are snakes evil?” The teacher responded, “No, but scripturally they do represent evil.  He went on and said, “snakes are cold blooded and evil is cold blooded.”  As I read this devotional I thought about what has been happening in our country and what is going on now. 

The Teacher’s point: Though evil may have its day, it’s victories, it’s time to move and strike – it remains cold blooded, therefore, it cannot endure.  No matter how powerful it may seem or how entranced it is, it cannot last.   Deception is cold-blooded, hatred is cold-blooded, slander is cold-blooded, oppression is  cold-blooded, all evil is cold-blooded. 

So, even though I am sad about what is happening in my country, I have hope! I believe in the end, the good will always outlast the evil.  Therefore, I will continue to persevere in believing in and doing the good, keeping on with what is true, standing for what is right and praying fervently that good will soon begin to overcome the cold bloodedness of our time. 

Jesus, in his dissertation of what the world would look like as the Age of the Gentiles comes to a close said, But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved” (Matt. 24:13). 

Jesus also said, When all of these things begin to happen, don’t sweat it, just look up and know that your redemption is just around the corner(Luke 21:28 Hillbilly Rendition). 



Tuesday, February 14, 2017

There Is No Greater Love Than Sacrificial Love!

Jesus said,  “This is my commandment, that you love one another just as I loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:12-23).

Hey gang:  I have begun to dig into the recesses of my brain and write the why’s, the way’s and the wondrous miracles that my bride and I were blessed to see in the early development years of the Village.  In my research for Chapter One, The why and very early years, I came across a picture of me and wondered why anyone would have invested millions of dollars to bring my dream into reality-ville.   I was a totally unknown quantity- to even my charter board members.

 There are times in our lives when we are truly blessed with an experience that can only be placed in the miracle file and can literally change our life.  I had one of those experiences early in the development of the Village.  I thought I was a giving person, up to that point in my life, but a group of wonderfully dedicated young people mentored me into an entirely new level of sacrificial giving.

Project Survive was a seventeen-day wilderness experience that changed the lives of many young men; many of who had made very bad decisions in their young lives.  The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is a unique battle ground when fighting for the very lives of trouble youngsters. 

The new recruits had arrived on campus with their normal, salty attitudes and staff was equipping them for an experience they really did not want to experience.  They were sorting gear when I received a tragic phone call from the State Police that one of the team had been killed in a motorcycle accident in route to joining the Project Survive Team. 

I drove up to the camp site where each staff were dealing with a multitude of problems and called the five men and two woman counselors aside from the kids and told them that Jim would not be making this trip - he had made another trip earlier in the day.  I gave them the option, I would notify the agencies to come and get the kids and we would scrub this trip, but they would have no part of it. 
As I stood there watching them complete the orientation in preparation for getting in a bus ready, and begin the all-day trip in an air condition-less bus to the Porcupine Mountains of the UP.  There they would begin their seventeen-day reclamation process with a bunch of kids that did not want to be there and would do all in their power to send that message - as clearly possible.

When I run into kids and staff from that group of warriors, who endured that seventeen days of fighting everything from bears in camp to horrendous black flies, all are quick to tell me they would never do it again but they would not trade the experience for anything. 

We learned that when we are willing to lay down our lives and give sacrificially, God gives us His very special blessing.  The lesson, there is no greater love than to deny self, take up your cross and give of yourself to God to be used as He sees fit.  There is no question in my mind this was the toughest group of kids we sent into the UP that summer to fight the bears and black flies, but it was also the group that benefited the most.  God is good, all the time!   



Monday, February 13, 2017

There Is No Greater Love!

“Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.  If you keep my command-ments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.  These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full” (John 15:9-11).

Hey Gang:  Valentines have always been kind of like a mental block for me.  In my very early school years we moved from the mountains where my daddy was a cool miner to ALtoona.  Having never been around kids of my age, the move was very tough for me.  Add to that that I was very skinny, had buck teeth and my name was Kermit, and you get the picture; I was a good candidate for the ‘weirdo of the year club.’  

I am sure all of you know that famous saying, “Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never harm me”.  I want you to know: if you believe that saying to be fact, it is a bunch of baloney and has done irreversible damage to many children.

Interlude: The other day I was walking through a super market and passed the card area where a mom and little tyke were picking out cards for every kid in his class.  I should say, mom was picking out the cards.  The tyke did not seem to have much interest in the project. 

We moved to Altoona because we were recovering from my dad’s accident in the coal mines, We did not have money for me to buy valentines for all the kids.  So when you put together lack of funds to buy cards for all, and my being considered the weirdo of the class, my crop of cards was very sparse, usually one or two from others who were in the same boat as I.   

As you might guess that led to the development of “I don’t want your lousy cards anyway, I would just have to open them and I have better things to do with my time”.  And how does one compensate for those kind of experiences? Even many that were not restricted to valentines but became my ever- present shadow in my elementary school years?

Now, does that sound like a pity-party?  After rereading what I have written thus far, it certainly does.  I mean I am 83 years old and valentines still bring out bad feelings in my inners!  Holy cow, grow up and get over it, right?     I love Paul’s words in Romans where he wrote, “We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28).

Would you like to guess how many young folks who are hurting deep in their inners because they, too, were designated as the weirdo’s in their young lives? More than I can count have passed through my life as a counselor in a detention home and more than 27 years at the Village? 

 I am blessed to have a college degree and even an Honorary Doctor’s Degree, but my education in providing a shirt tail to hang on for hurting kids began back there when I got only one valentine. I wonder how many times I have sat on the edge of a bed with a sobbing youngster who was hurt by one of those ‘sticks and stones’ that never hurt anyone and said, “been there”.

Friends, do me a favor, reread this epistle and take a few minutes to think of a few people that are hurting deep inside because they were the recipients of the ‘sticks and stones’ during their growing up years or later. They may be six, sixteen, sixty and even 83.

Jesus said “This is my commandment, that you love one another Just as I loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:12-13).  Valentines come in many forms, a simple hi, have a great day to a clerk at Walmart might be the bright spot of her day.

NOTE: Bonus post tomorrow Feb 14.



Friday, February 10, 2017

Father, Forgive Them: A Prayer of Jesus

But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”  And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves” (Luke 23:34).

g lady that she did ­­­­not want to give, so he sadistically beat her and then strangled her and then molested the dead body.   Wait!  That is not the end of the story!  The absolute amazing part of the story came later when the young man was given a life sentence in one of our finer prisons. 

On the day the mother found out who had done this dastardly deed to her daughter she began to pray for the young man that his heart of stone would be broken and he would give his life to Jesus.  She then went to the judge and gained permission to visit the young man and provide him with a Bible and some religious education materials.

She was told by many that she was wasting her time – he was not worth praying for, but, instead of giving up she intensified her prayers for the now middle aged man.  And then one day she received a letter from the middle aged man that he had answered God’s call on his life and he was so very grateful for her forgiveness and patience. 

As I listened to her story, I visualized my two daughters at that time in their lives and asked myself the question, “Could I do what this mother did?”  I have heard other stories of parents who have lost their children and have turned to bitterness and hatred. That becomes a cancer eating their very soul.

Could there ever have been a more difficult request ever made as Jesus hung on the cross: “Father, Forgive Them”.  It certainly was the most powerful!  I know you have heard the Easter Story many times but let’s look at it once again, as if we were reading it in today’s news.

Jesus had been through an emotional hell in the previous 24 hours; betrayed by one of the chosen twelve, denied by one of His closest friend.  Those He had poured in very heart and soul into for three years had cut and run. 

Alone Jesus faced the evilness of men who paraded Him through a ludicrous series of illegal trials.  Savage soldiers mocked and spit on Him and nearly flogged Him to death and placed a crown of thorns on His head.

The mob was bloodthirsty that day, spurred on by sadistic religious leaders; the people cried out “Crucify Him”.  Forced to carry a cross up a hill through the center of the town, the already half dead Jesus was unable to make it on His own, another had to help.

At the place known as the Skull, Jesus hands and feet were spiked into the wood of the cross with long metal stakes.  There He was hung before the murderous mob, on the center cross between two convicted criminals.

There, he was left to fight for air while pulling His weight up and down against the metal spikes.  The pain must have been beyond description.   Below Him the circus of the absurd continued.  Religious leaders sneered at Him.  Soldiers gambles for His robe. The crowd scoffed.  

The whole scene was so hideous, so horrible, and so heinous that God the Father had to turn His back on His beloved Son.  A dark cloud swallowed the hilltop, as the afternoon sun refused to shine.
Yet, in the midst of the betrayal, denial, desertion; despite the brutality, lies, and injustice, and in the middle of the murderous mayhem; Jesus said three of the most powerful words ever spoken.

“Father, forgive them.”   
FYI New post Feb 11 on 



Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Casting Our Burdens

Cast our burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved” (Psalm 55:22).

Hey Gang:  Of the 863 Morning Messages that I have sent in the past five years, I believe I can count on my fingers, may have to take off a shoe or two, but most of the messages have included something about me.  If you have been a faithful reader, you know a great deal about me.  This morning I have been struggling with a nagging problem that I have fought with for more than year and have reminded God of the “Ask and you will receive” verses in the Bible.

I did not receive a God-O-Gram or response to Jeremiah 31:3, where we are told “Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know”.    But I do believe I received my answer.  I had the distinct feeling that He was telling me ‘I pray seeking, but not with a faith that moves even a tiny mole hill’.

It reminded me of the story of the little girl who was walking hand in hand with her daddy and ask him the question, “Do you believe that the weather forecaster was right and that it is going to rain?”  His response was, “Yes”. And her response, “Then where is your raincoat and umbrella?”  I wonder if, in the drought areas of our country, everyone wore raincoats and carried ‘bumber shoots’- umbrella’s to you city folks-  would God send the rains? 

We say prayer is a wonderful thing.  After a quick examination, I plead guilty to the Lord and ask His forgiveness, for I believed in the first words of the above Scripture- “Cast your burdens upon he Lord” but in action my faith has often waivered.

Now, just suppose you are intensely burdened about some need.  There is no burden so unworthy of our own concentration that we should not take it to the Lord.  But, when we pray, do we actually commit the burden to the Lord? or do we simply inform Him about it?  There is a difference.

Prayer is not only telling the Lord about our problem, it is also believing that He will do something about it. What must the Lord think when we bring our burden to His throne of grace, as if we were casting all our care upon Him, only to go on carrying the very same heaviness?   And when the burden continues, cast it on the Lord again and again.

It is only when we commit our burden to God, when we plead His grace to help, and ask Him to take control that we can have faith that He will take care of it.  The more we trust Him, the lighter our load will be and the quicker our answer will come.  Always the answer we seek? Not necessarily so! 

God wants to bear our burdens.  The question is, do we truly want to commit them to Him?  If so, then let’s say with the psalmist, “When my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (Psalm 61:2).  Therefore we can, “Cast our burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain (us).”  And we can claim the promise: “…all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive” (Matt. 21:22).  This is real casting of our burdens upon the Lord. 

So good buddies do not wait until you are over 82 to do as the Psalmist suggest, cast all your burdens on the Lord today, no matter how small or how big.  And then get about what God lays out for your assignment for the day.   It is giving to God a bad situation and sitting back and waiting for Him to turn it for His good and, if it for His good, it most certainly will be for our good also. 



Sunday, February 5, 2017

How Do It Know?

“But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually approached, or examined”.  But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one” (1 Cor. 2:14-15).

Hey Gang:  Is that verse not a perfect picture of an ever-growing number of folks in our country?  It reminds me of a neat little ditty that I used many times when I was on the cold-roast beef and watery mashed potato circuit.  Don’t forget the peas! 

It seems three boys were sitting on the curb discussing some of the finer points of life when one the lads asked the question, “What is the greatest invention of all times?”  After pondering a bit, the first boy suggested it was the invention of the wheel.  He added thee are not many things in our world that do not have a wheel of some type that makes them tick.

The second lad spoke up and agreed that was surely an awesome invention, but he thought it was the ‘chip’.  He then went on to explain the many inventions that have been made possible through this tiny device.  I mean, it totally revamped communication to the point where not only can we talk to someone in a remote part of the world, but I can see his pictures while talking to him. 

Well, both agreed that this was a very powerful choice; but the third suggested there was a far great invention that has impacted our world, the invention of the ‘thermos bottle’.  Astounded, the first two contributors questioned the sanity of their young friend, but he remained adamant in his answer with the following comment: “If you put hot stuff in the thermos bottle it remains hot, but if you put cold stuff in, it remains cold. “How do it know?”

Well, you might question my sanity for using that illustration, but let me share a very common illustration of our Scripture this morning, “A natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him”.   In our Family Seminars we always began with the ground rules that were the foundation of what we were going to present; number one on that list was that we use Biblical Principles.  There was always the guy who was sitting in the last row, on the outside seat with arms crossed and a scowl on his face to let me know, he was there under duress and he would have nothing to do with those principles. 

In one class the cross-armed guy with the scowl on his face let me know that he did not believe in that stuff.  My question, “What stuff?”  “That Bible Stuff”.  “What Bible stuff?”.  “You know?”  My response, “You are telling me you don’t believe in something but you have no idea what you don’t believe in?”

We could always determine the pain level of the class participants by their willingness to listen and apply the principles that we take straight from the Word of God; principles that work whether you believe in the Author or not.

It was always interesting to me that those who were going through the wars with their children were often called weak and ineffective.  To that I reply, ‘Balderdash”.  True, I referred to them as my “agony and pain” club for they choose not to “Accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually approached, or examined”. 

But, what joy there was when a cross-armed, scowling man came to the realization that what he was doing was causing him great agony and pain, and he decided there must be a better way and realized that Jesus is that way!  I pray there are no cross-armed and scowling faces out there.  If so, bite the bullet and give Jesus a chance!



Friday, February 3, 2017

God's Plan

I love all of Psalm 37 but especially the first several verses. David certainly had a way with words.   He wrote, “Do not fret because of evildoers, Be not envious toward wrongdoers, For they will wither quickly like the grass and fade like the green herb”  (vs. 1-2). 

Notice his next words: “Trust in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faith-fulness.  Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart”.  (vs. 3-4). 
But, he does not leave it there and continues: “Commit your way to the Lord. Trust also in Him, and He will do it.  He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your judgment as the noonday.” (vs. 5-6).   

Hey Gang:  James Dobson recently said, “There are many pastors that should just get up before their sheep and read from the word.”  I can attest to that fact.  While serving as Chaplain at the Eagle Village, I learned very quickly that the troops responded much more rapidly when I shared the Scriptures with them but tended to slip away to never - never land when I tried to show them how very smart I was. 

In my efforts to develop a program for hurting children I did not have much time to visit other such places and, in reality, I  had to be spoon-fed daily by my heavenly Mentor.  But there was one man in England by the name of George Mueller who seemed to show up on my desk periodically. He had orphan children scattered throughout the city.   Mr. Mueller was a person of tremendous faith.  There were many days when he did not have the funds to care for his ever-growing family but, it was also said that his family never went to bed hungry.   

 Mr. Mueller had been meditating and the thought came that it is not only the steps, but also the stops that are ordered by the Lord.  As I thought about that, there were memories of times when God said to me, “Stop, it is time for you to glorify Me” that surfaced in my mind”.

I believe that is what David was referring to when he wrote: “The steps of a man are established by the Lord, and He delights in his way.  When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, Because the Lord is the One who holds his hand” (vs. 23-24).

When we submit to God’s plans, we can trust our desires.  Our assignment is found at the intersection of God’s plan and our pleasures!  What do you love to do?  What brings you joy?  What gives you a sense of satisfaction?  Each of us has been made to serve God in a unique way…He did not say, ’Just you with blond hair and a dimple on your nose go into all the world and spread the Good News that Jesus stands at the door of their heart,’  He said, “all” go and be ambassadors.

So, the longings of your heart are not there by accident; they are critical messages.  The desires of your heart are not to be ignored; they are to be our guide for the day.  As the wind turns the weather vane, so God uses your passions to turn your life.  God is too gracious to ask you to do something you hate.

So, my good friends, be a seed planter and reach out to someone with God’s love; say “good morning” to the first person you see.  Try it, you may like it.  God will certainly like it!



Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Fake or Real?

“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” (John 16:13). 

Hey Gang:  I do not know about you but I am so very happy that the power switch has been made and our nation have started down a new road. Only time will tell if it turns out to be a road filled with the same old pot holes or a new time with exciting changes that will make our country better and our lives more peaceful.   

During that time when we were going through the agony and pain of who would be the exulted leader of America the Beautiful but bent nation, I made a promise to myself: if I could not find anything good on the news I would tune out and save what is left of my sanity.   It appears that many feel we have penned a new descriptive word for news in recent months - “Fake News”.  Really?  Or is it just placing a title on somethings that has been the earmark of the news media for as long as I have been around, at least the last 50 years!

Well, that is not what I believe I am to share with you today.  Frankly, I am very happy that it is not.  There are not many subject areas that tick me off as much as the news, unless, of course, you are talking about the Detroit Pussy Cats, commonly referred to as the Lions. 

As I mentioned in one of my past Morning Messages, I tend to stay away from the television and radio news as much as possible and rely on several sources that I believe have ears tuned to what God is doing in this day and age.  I have adopted two very special verse in my studies of “what’s happening Man’ one by Jesus when He said “I don’t want you to be in a fog bank but know what is going on” and the second is “Don’t buy what you hear until you check it out with two or more folks that have their heads screwed on right.

Even with these two filters in place, I am very cautious of Jesus’ words when He said, See to it no one misleads you.  For many will come in My names, saying, I am the Christ and will mislead many” (Matt. 24:4b-5).  Hey, my friends, there is a heap of deception going on in our world – RIGHT NOW!

Several weeks ago I wrote a short analogy of what I think the process of deception looks like and then reread it and thought it was to corny and placed in the recycle bin.   After honing it down let me bore you with it for a moment or two.  It goes like this: “The reporter got there a few seconds late and heard the scientist say, “the moon is made of green cheese”.  What he did not hear him say was “There are a folks today that believe that the moon is made of green cheese”. 

Excitedly he whipped out his IPod and scribbled a note to His editor who immediately wrote an article for the front page of his rag “Scientist Discovers, The Moon is Made of Green Cheese”.  Within the hour, the radio and television news departments picked it up and they were now avowing the truth presented by this scientist.  It finally reached the halls of Congress where the ‘head people’ determined it should be taught to our children, ie. that the moon was indeed made of green cheese and passed regulations demanding that it be added to the curriculum

Stupid analogy, right?  But wait, there was a guy by the name of Charles Darwin who make an equally stupid statement.  A statement that contaminates the minds of every child who goes through our education system.  And today we have the ‘Earth is about to fry syndrome’ that is making a group of people big bucks promoting this theory.

As I read the Bible, I find hundreds of examples where God controlled the weather, changed the weather, used the weather to reprimand His creation and even used it to wipe all but eight from the face of the earth, because of gross sin.  News media recently reported the  average temperature went up one tenth of a degree in 2015.  Time to panic, right?  But wait, there were periods in our past when the earth went through ice ages.   I wonder if they built fires on the ice to bring the temperature up.

Jesus said, “Be not deceived”.  He said it over and over again knowing that, like the five unprepared virgins who failed to prepare for the coming of the bridegroom, many will be totally unprepared to evaluate whether the message came from Father God or a Charles Darwin or Alvin Gore.  

I believe with all my heart that, if you were to run into Jesus today, He would warn you to get into the Word and make sure you will not end up in the “Hot” place that has been prepared for those who choose to go their own way.   He would also tell you, “I have prepared a place with perfect environment, perfect everything and you will spend all eternity in My presence.”

Now that folk’s is not Fake talk, but truth straight from the heart of God!