Friday, March 31, 2017

Light to Darkness? or Darkness to Light?

Michigan March sunrise,  Thanks Brandon

“But You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you many proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light”   (1 Peter 2:9)

Hey Gang:  My bride is a consumer of books.  In our nearly sixty-years together I have heard her say, on a half-dozen occasions, that she did not like a certain book, but finished it.  I have also heard her say, “It is a hard book to read and she did not particularly like it.

My question has always been the same, “Why do you not just close the book you don’t like, and move to next one?  You have a small, but ever growing library of books here in the house and I recall your saying that you often read books you like over again. Why read one you don’t like? There are mega books in the local library, and a constant flow of books from Amazon and now a Kindle graces our home.”

I don’t remember what she said, and she is at a prayer meeting, so will find out when she comes home.  Anyway, all of this insignificant material to introduce you to the morning blog which obviously has something to do with books.  I have been researching what I will send in the next What’s Happening Man Prophecy Blog and, when I do that I either end up depressed or a little bit goofy.  I think I am on the line this morning.  Do you think it is possible to be a depressed and goofy person at the same time?

In our morning devotion time my bride and I have chosen Jonathan Cahn’s The Book of Mysteries. This  is a book I do not have words in my vocabulary to describe- but then again I have a very limited Pennsylvania Hill country vocabulary.   So, rather than spending time in the dictionary, I have chosen to read several of the descriptions other well- known writers have drafted.

 Governor Mike Huckabee wrote, “I Was absolutely stunned”; R.T. L Kendall wrote, “I was stunned.  Amazed. Possible the most astonishing book I have ever read’; Pat Robertson gave it a one word description: “Extraordinary”.     On page one I was not sure, on page two I felt a twinge of excitement, and by page three I was hooked.  Why? Because it is a book of God’s Mysteries, many of which have never before been revealed, written about, spoken of, or known by many.

Each page has a title, most require interpretation and understanding.  Today is day fifteen and titled “The Night and Day Paradigm”.  Does that sound strange to you – night and day?  Is it not always day and night?  As you know we recently returned from Israel where they celebrate Sabbath each week.  I have been there for twenty or more Sabbaths and have always wondered why it would start at sundown and not in the morning.    

Jonathan has clarified why for me.  His main point: “When we look at it from day to night then everything goes from light to darkness.  Is there not a contrariness about that scripturally?  Meaning everything is in the process of darkening.  Is our world not becoming more dark each day?  Jonathan pointed out that when God created the universe it was not day and night.  Is written, there was evening, and then there was morning.’  In other words, the day began with night ( in darkness) out of which come light.

That is why every Jewish holiday and every Biblical day begins at sunset.   It goes from darkness to light.  His point: the children of this world live from light to darkness, but the Children of God live from darkness to light.  Praise God!  That every darkness that we encounter in our lives can lead to Light if we are locked into Christ as our Lord and Savior.  Every night will lead to dawn! 

Wow, is that not awesome.    I look forward to tomorrow and learn what “The Taleh” is.  You may be hearing more from this book.



Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Hey, Man, Pass the Bread!

“I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst” (John 6:35).

Hey Gang:  Question? Why would folks turn their back on God when His entire Word is power-packed with truths that can make our lives living-witnesses of God’s love and grace?  In John 6 we see Jesus on a fast track. as He is preparing His disciples for the tough road ahead they would be forced to travel. 

First, there was the feeding of the 5000.  What an awesome experience that must have been. The narrative tells me it was far more than the 5000 men in need of food, for there were also women and children present.  Many have wondered how they heard Jesus that day, - no megaphones or sound system!  Then, one day in 1984, we stood at the top of that hill, on the balcony of the Mausoleum built by Mussolini which over-looks the Sea of Galilee.  While we stood there we listened and heard every word clearly of a conversation between several people who were then standing by the sea shore at the bottom..    

Matthew tells us that it was evening.  Matthew being a tax collector was probably a beaver-type person who paid attention to details. What he saw was a huge mob of people and no McDonalds, or Wendy’s and nary a single ‘Porta potty’ in sight!

Their solution to the problem is one that I probably would have suggested, ‘send them home”.  Now, there is a wonderful statement in John’s narrative of this miracle found in the John 6:6 :“This He was saying to test him, for He Himself knew what He was intending to do”.  Wow, folks,  is that not awesome?  When we hit the clinkers, when the alligators are nipping at our backsides, when the Rubber-has already hit-the-road, we have the assurance of knowing our Lord already knows what He is going to do!  Brings to my mind that neat song, Trust and Obey for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.

Problem: 5000 men, and no one knows how many women and children were there, and the inventory of food was five barley loaves and two fish!  Now, think for a minute, how many times does it tell us in the Word that Jesus said, “No Problem, do not fear!”  Jesus was always prayed up to date! He knew God’s miraculous power was waiting for His Son to ask for that power.

At the end of the day, the cleanup completed, the multitudes sent home, I would suggest the disciples were ready to build a fire, do some chatting about the Jesus feeding program, and then off to the arms of Morpheus. But Jesus had another training session in mind before the day was over.  Matthew tells us, “Immediately He made them get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side” (Matt. 14:22).

It was a trip they would not soon forget! Some were seasoned veterans of the Sea of Galilee who did not venture out at night on this un-predictable tiny, but often violent, Sea.  Note in Matthew’s account of this perilous time: “Jesus had gone up to the mountain to pray.”  Wow, is that not awesome that Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father praying for you and me?

Keep in mind they were not in the Queen Mary but a vessel designed for fishing with a crew of two to four people.  Again, I repeat, some were seasoned veterans of the Sea of Galilee and I would guess they knew of fisherman brothers who were at the bottom of that Sea. 

But remember John 6:6?  “He knew what He was going to do.”…  He came walking on the water.  I wonder what they talked about around the fire that night?    John tells us that soon after these two miraculous experiences, when the hearts of the disciples had been fallowed and ready to receive, He said, I am the bread of life, He who comes to Me will never hunger, and He who believes in Me will never thirst”.   My young friends, one more time, “He knows what He is going to do, do not fear!!!”



Monday, March 27, 2017

Door Knobs or Relationship?

“The Lord is near to all who call upon Him. To all who call upon Him in truth.  He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He will also hear their cry and will save them” (Psalm`145:18-19).

Hey Gang- I wonder, when David wrote the Psalms did he write some of them while he was tending the sheep of his father?  Did he write some when he was camped out running from Saul? Perhaps even were there nights in the palace after he became king?.  It does not really matter; they have been refuge and strength for multitudes down through the ages.

But this I know! God said: “I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart, he will do everything I want him to do” (Acts 13:22b).  I have read that verse many, many times.  Wow, would it not be fabulous to be a ‘man after God’s own heart’?  But was David not born to Nitzevet and Jesse, parents just as I was born to Catherine and John?  Did David not shirk his duties as king and general of his troops when he should have been in battle?  Did he not violate the wife of one of his generals and then, did he not orchestrate the death of that general? 

In other words, David was a gross sinner in his lifetime – just liked me.  So, Lord, can I be a man after your heart?  I have heard many say, I wish I could be like him or her- but that is not God’s desire or plan for each of His creation.  It is said no two snowflakes are alike, I am not sure how they know.  Do I want to be like David, only in the truth that I want to be a ‘man after God’s heart.’    

I have used the analogy that when God breathes life into us, (you do believe God breathes life into you, don’t you?) He also places His wiring system in you; a wiring system that lays dormant until we recognize the need for Christ in our lives and surrender our all to Him.  I believe the wiring analogy is a hillbilly rendition of being attached to the vine.

If we choose not to plug our power cord into God’s power supply, we are like a lamp with no light or a tree with no fruit.  You may even be a great success with tons of accolades that you can brag about but, unless you are grafted into the vine and producing fruit, you are on dangerous ground.

So, young lads and ladies, be aware that Jesus said fruitless vines would be pruned.  I don’t know about you but I certainly do not like being ‘pruned’.  Jesus remedy for pruning – “Abide in Me!”  I believe the key to being a man after God’s heart is a found in this Psalm about the omnipresence and omniscience of God: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way” (Psa. 139:23-24).



Friday, March 24, 2017

Death's Roadway

 “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is way of death” (Pro. 14:12).  “The na├»ve believes everything, But the sensible man considers his steps” (Pro. 14:15).  “So that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:21).  Amen and Amen and Amen!

Hey Gang: Have you ever driven on a road that one slight mistake could cost you your life?  Years ago, at the completion of Summer Camp, we often retreated to a ranch in the Northeast Corner of Montana at the foot of the Skalkaho Mountains.  We always closed camp on Friday, so as to be on the road early on Saturday heading for Montana.  

Now, I am guessing, but I would estimate we reached a crossroad that was roughly fifty miles from the Crawford Ranch when we had to make a decision.  We could go over the Skalkaho Pass or stay on the more civilized low country road, but it added a far distance to our destination and by that time the tired- meter was registering on “over load”. 

The Skalkaho Pass road consisted of a narrow lane where passing another vehicle was a life-tingling experience.  There were sheer drop-offs many places along the way, and it was the road used by the logging trucks coming off the mountain!  In other words, if you were driving a station wagon with wife and four kids, sane folks probably would not have considered it.  But there were many folks that were not quite sure how sane I was after quitting a good job, selling my house and trucking my family cross country to be the director of a non-existing boys home.  

Well, I turned left and headed up the mountain.   I learned how truly chicken I am when confronted by something I could not control -like a nine-thousand-foot mountain! But God was not finished with us yet and we arrived at the ranch safe and sound, although my teeth, from grinding, were considerably shorter. 

In a recent devotional I found that the Skalkaho was really a piece of cake and there are far more dangerous roads in the world.  I do not believe it would have taken much consideration to find another route to reach my destination than to tackle the Yungas Road, with the title of “The Road of Death” which would send a message to the more sane and cowardly. 

The Yungas Road between La Paz and Coroico, Bolivia, is 38 miles of spectacular scenery combined with heart chilling terror.  Barely wide enough for two vehicles to pass, this narrow gravel road threads its way through the Andes Mountains, attaining elevations about 15,000 feet.  With sheer roadside drop-offs of more than 2,000 feet, in places, and no guard rails of any kind, this hazardous road claims the lives of 200 to 300 travelers each year, thus the name ’the Road of Death’. It is considered the most dangerous road in the world.

I made a decision to put my family’s life in jeopardy, when I made that left turn and headed up the Skalkaho, but it was a decision that would represent only a blip in our lives.  I recall that trip often but there is a far more dangerous road that we, as creations of God travel each and every day.  It is called the road to eternity.  Where we will spend eternity is determined by the road we have chosen.

The Word is clear: there are two roads, one wide and other very narrow.   One is an easy road, but I would add that it rains on the righteous as it does on those who chose to reject Jesus as Lord and go their own way.  The appeal of this road is so strong because of the many pleasures, interesting sights, and exciting experiences along the path.  Those who travel this highway seem oblivious to its dangerous drop-offs, as well as the fact that its ultimate destination is an eternal burning lake of fire.

But God prepared another road, an escape for travelers.  It is narrow, quite rough in spots, and up-hill for much of its length.  Considerable effort is required to complete its transit, but abundant assistance is available from fellow travelers as well as from the One who built the road.  Question to ponder!  Which Road are you on?

Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it” (Matt.7:13).   Jesus also said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.  I Am the only way to the Father” (John 14:6).   “Follow Me and I will make you a fisher of men” (Matt. 4:19).   So my friends, check out your fishing gear and let’s go snag a fish or two for Jesus.



Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Abundance Even In the Midst of Want!

“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly’ (John 10:10).

Hey Gang:  In an interview, the interviewee, Molly, said, ”It is my belief that the moon is made of green cheese” but the over-hearer heard only, “The moon is made of green cheese” and excitedly wrote a long dissertation on the truth that Molly Gurk said “The moon is made of green cheese.”  But, no one seemed to be interested in who Molly Gurk was, or she knew about green cheese or lunar issues.

Now the media picked up on the story and elevated it to the head line of their local rags and the television talk shows also followed by bringing in twenty- three experts to verify that the moon is most assuredly made of green cheese!  And soon our representatives that we elect and send to the Beltway picked up on this ‘truth’ that the moon is made of Green cheese and pass a law, that said,  ‘All children shall be taught that the moon is made of green cheese.’  Way out, right?  But could we not replace the green cheese analogy with global warming or evolution?

So, what does that have to do with anything.   Let’s look at it in a more realistic sense.  Jesus said, “Careful, My chicks, that you do not be deceived.”  As I read the Word, I find that every time Jesus talks of the end times He begins His teachings with this same warning “Be not deceived”.  He made it very clear that as the Age of the Gentiles come crashing down, deception is going to be much more prevalent than truth.   He even warns that even the very elect will follow the evil one down the Prime Rose Path.

I had occasion recently to hear one of our better known religious orators give a dissertation on placing our hands in the hands of the One who stills the water.  His entire dissertation was centered on the ‘miss truth’ that becoming a Believer assures one of a palace on Nob Hill and perfect health.   I wondered, as I listened to his dissertation that was being held in an arena that houses 30,000 people, what was going through the minds of those who had some type of infirmity or those who have walked the streets seeking a job and could not find one.  How did they feel?

The pastor took great liberties, that I do not believe John had in mind when he wrote, “Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers” (3 John 2).   As I have watched the devastating fires in Israel, fires that covered lands that we drove through only one month ago, and fires in Tennessee, that has consumed everything but the land, I prayed for those that lost all that they had accumulated but more so for those whose very lives were tied up in those things.  The Believers, yes, for we do not like to start all over again, but for the non-believers – who they turn for comfort?

So, what did John mean when he wrote, “I pray you will prosper and be in good health!”  We define abundance in our society as having plenty, ample supplies and more than enough.   This Jesus promised when He said, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things will be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33).   He promises to meet our needs.  By world standards we, here in America, even on the dole are blessed.   We have no comprehension of what need and hunger are all about.

In Romans 8:11 we find a different kind of abundance, “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you”.

God has blessed me and my bride with more than we need in worldly possessions.  We are thankful for that, but our joy is in the abundant love of our Lord and Savior and have total trust that he will care for us in the good times as well as the hard time.  I close with one of my very favorite verses found in Malachi 3:10-11. 

Malachi begins by setting the table for what is to come in verse 8: “Will a man rob God?   Yet you are robbing Me!  But how are we robbing You?”  In tithes and offerings”.  Malachi then goes on to tell us how we can rectify that sin against the Father: “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open for you he windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.”
Don’t quit yet, the best is yet to come!  “Then, I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that It will not destroy the fruits of the ground, nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes.’  Says the Lord of hosts”.

And that my friends you can take to the bank!



Monday, March 20, 2017

Where Are Your Feet this Morning? Are You Land Locked or Free as an Eagle to Soar?

“Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.” (Isa. 40:31).

Hey Gang:  Wow, what a beautiful morning.  Thank  you Lord!   The sun is out brightly, the temperature is in the mid-seventies, a nice breeze is rustling the trees and God his so graciously supplied our daily bread.  Again, I say, Thank you Lord!  Oh, by the way I am writing this from Florida, while sitting beside the swimming pool.

A bird just flew by.  Did you ever say, “Thank you Lord” for these magnificent handicrafts of God?  I wonder where he is going.  Do you think God has a plan or purpose for him today?  I think He must.

Roger Meyer, a noted writer about God’s neatly created beings, wrote the following very descriptive words about birds: “God created birds on the fifth day of creation.” (Gen. 1:20).  He gave them beautiful feathers, the ability to build nests without hands, and the marvelous ability to fly.  To some He gave beautiful songs to sing, and to some charming (sometimes humorous) mating dances.  Many migrate awesome distances and possess extremely acute vision.  A few can even talk and mimic sounds, and some exhibit a noteworthy intelligence – proving that they are anything but “bird brains”.  And, O yes, many species mate for life.”

The Bible tells us they are far more than just beautiful and awe inspiring.  All throughout history, God used the feathered friends in various ways in dealing with mankind.  Noah gathered birds into the ark.  After the rains ceased, he opened the hatch of the ark and sent a raven to scout for dry land; later he sent a dove.  When he departed from the ark Noah considered the bird important enough to be included in his sacrifice of gratitude to Father God (Gen.8:20).

When the children of Israel complained in the wilderness about not having meat to eat, God brought innumerable quail to the camp (Numbers 11:31-32).  God fed the prophet Elijah by ordering ravens to bring him food morning and evening, while he hid in the wilderness (12 Kings 17).

Jesus used birds in His parables.  He reminded His disciples that the’ birds of the air do not sow or reap, yet God feeds them’ and knows precisely where they are every minute of their life. (Matt. 6:26).  Jesus told his disciples to be as ‘shrewd as serpents and as harmless as doves’ (Matt. 10:16).  In Mathew 10:29-30 Jesus said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a cent?  And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from Your Father”.  Christ used the analogy of a mother hen gathering her chicks under her wings for protection to show how much He deeply cares for you and me (Matt. 23:37).

After the fires in Yellowstone, a ranger came across a mother bird that had been killed in the fire.  When he tried to move the bird’s remains, it came apart and two, tiny, live chicks were found protected by the mother’s body; she had given her life to save her chicks.  Is that not the way of God?  Does Jesus not wrap His arms around His children, and say, “Here, let Me take your place on the cross”.

So, my friends, when you see one of God’s feathered friends soaring in the skies, keep in mind that is precisely what God wants for you – to be freed from the burdens of this earth’s existence and to come and “soar with Him”.   One of the many neat sayings in the Bible is “The battle is the Lord’s” (2 Chron. 20:15).


Friday, March 17, 2017

To Be Discouraged or Not TO Be? THat is the question.

For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin.  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 things I hate.  But if I do the very thing that I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good.  So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me” (Romans 7:14-17).  So describes my battle with discouragement!

Hey Gang:  I confess I have spent a lot of time lately with the Apostle Paul, for I find myself doing the thing that I hate far too much.   The past eight years have been very hard on this old man and the run up to the election was especially difficult.  I have found myself in a constant battle with discouragement and depression.  O, not of the real deep seated dangerous type, but deep enough that I have to constantly remind myself that the “Battle is the Lords” and His “joy is my strength”. 

I have finally bitten the bullet and have started to cull out some of the accumulated piles of materials from my past and came across this old story that kind of ties into the Scripture of the morning and my constant battle with my battle with discouragement.

It was advertised that the devil was going to put his tools up for sale.  On the date of the sale the tools were placed for public inspection, each being marked with its sale price.  There were many implements: hatred, envy, jealousy, doubt, lying, pride, and so on.  Laid apart from the rest of the pile was a harmless- looking tool, well-worn and priced very high.

“What is the name of that tool?” Asked one of the purchasers.  “Oh”, said the adversary, “That’s discouragement.”   The purchaser asked, “How come the price is so high?”  His response, “Because it’s more useful to me than all the others.  I can pry open and get inside a person’s heart with that one, when all else fails and once I get inside, I got ya!    It’s a badly worn because this is the day of discouragement and few people really know that it belongs to me.” 

How about you?  Have you ever been discouraged?  How many know that being legal guardian for a barn full of young folks who came to me because they did not make good decisions, herding a staff of equal size and being concerned constantly that there would be enough gold in the coffers to pay the liabilities of the day, might have some discouraging opportunities.  But I do not recall any time, in my tenure as Exulted Eagle of the Village, when I was in constant war and my encouragement registered empty, as in the past eight years.

But as a good friend once said when we were dealing with a crisis at the Village, “Keep your head up for this, too, shall pass”.  I thought when the election results were in and God had spoken, you do believe that God places kings on thrones and removes them, don’t you?  We would bury the gauntlets and take up our plow shares and work together to repair the devastation left behind by the former resident of the White House.  O, how wrong I was.  I find it impossible to watch the news for five minutes without feeling pangs of discouragement beginning to rage in my heart and soul.

Paul had many opportunities to be discouraged but he was locked into God’s support system.  He passed that support system on to us in I Corinthians 10:13 (with a slight modification) “No discouragement will overtake Me but such is common to all, and God is faithful, who will not allow me to be discouraged beyond that which I am able to handle”.

There is a commonness in much of the news that is filling the airways and it is not good news. Even those who are saying we will see a new day dawn in the coming years under our new leaders but still, keep your powder dry and ready for action is essential.  I close this epistle with verses that I pray will give you the power and strength to be an overcomer, for Satan will surely be seeking ways to get into your life.   Remember he does not quit, he just awaits until a more opportune time to harass you. (“Luke 4:13).

In Isaiah 43:2-3 God gives us an assurance that we can take to the bank “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers, they will not overflow you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you. For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior”. 

And again in Joshua 1:9 He gives us the tools to be an overcomer “Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous!  Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go”.

There are many power verses throughout the Word, seek them out and get them firmly planted in your heart, mind and soul.  You will surely need them in the coming days, weeks, months and even years.



Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Are You Ready To Be Promoted?

Painting of King David by Trish, a volunteer with us at Biblical Tamar Park

“The mind of the prudent acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.  A man’s gift makes room for him and brings him before great men” (Proverbs 18:15-16).  “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!  (Isaiah 6:8).

Hey gang: Here is something you can take to the bank, God is preparing you for something!  You may be in the middle of the greatest battle of your life and the road ahead looks like it is filled with deep pot-holes but, as an old salt once told me when I too was in one of those battles for my life, “This, too, shall pass, as long as we put our trust in the Lord.” 

What you are struggling with right now is just part of the preparation.  Get ready: “What Satan meant for evil, God’s about to turn for good” (Gen. 50:2).  God, through Paul gives us a wonderful word of assurance in his letter to the Ephesians: “That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man” (Eph. 3:16).  Why?  “…so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” (vs. 17a).

When God brought David to the palace, he was a wild, uncouth shepherd boy with sheep dung on his boots.   His resume was impressive, having killed a bear and lion to protect his sheep but now God had a much bigger assignment for him.  Can you imagine walking into the oval office for the first time as the most powerful man on earth and not having the Lord God Almighty as your Lord and King? Would you not be filled with fear?  But no problem – there is one who is ready to move into that apprehension and lead you down the wide road to destruction. 

I wonder what was going through David’s mind at that moment – “Who me Lord?”.  We sometimes think that we have nothing to offer to God, but keep in mind that when David saw that Goliath and the Philistines were kicking the Jewish people around he stepped up to the line and said, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the living God?”  His experiences in God’s seminary had prepared him for that very moment and he was prepared for a promotion!
(We again visited Gath, November 2016 and brought back a couple stones - Israel has plenty -Gma}

His weapon, a piece of rawhide and a stone.  His battle cry, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” (I Sam. 17:37).  No beating around the bush – “Greater is He that is me than He that is in the world.”  A shepherd boy, a sling shot, and a stone and God almighty – Goliath was ‘dead meat’.

Paul warned that the last days will be filled with Goliaths, but be of good cheer, for God will never leave you or forsake you.  Jesus promised, “And behold, “I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49).

So dear young folks, have you been endowed from power on high?  Are you ready for a promotion? God IS preparing you for something!



Monday, March 13, 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 15:12-13).

Hey gang:  I have begun to dig into the recesses of my brain and write the whys, 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 is a seventeen-day, wilderness experience that changes the lives of young guys and gals; 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:  one of the staff  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 that!  

I stood there watching as they completed the orientation and prepared and packed the bus in readiness to 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 who 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 blessings.  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!   



Friday, March 10, 2017

Some Investments Don't Give You a Penny, but Others Have Eternal Value, Con't

” Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow” (James 1:17).

Hey Gang:  If you did not tune in the last Gramps Morning Thought you need to do so to get the whole story.   The reporter was very persistent and continued to turn up the heat on the judge, but in each test of his ‘hugging promise’, the results were the same –people were eager to have the judge give them a hug!

The same offers were made and accepted by a San Francisco bus driver and police man, both who had reputations of being tough and very unloving.  Finally, the reporter said, “I must admit, “I’m impressed”.   Perhaps the reporter would have been the better test of the judges “Hug Theory” at that moment.

But the story did not end there.  One day Lee’s friend, a professional clown, showed up on his doorstep and said, “Grab your ‘Hugging Kits’ and let’s go to the home for the disabled.” Lee confessed he was not sure how his ‘hearts for hugs’ would work with terminally ill, severely retarded and quadriplegics.  But his concerns were soon put to rest and readily accepted the offer.  As they worked their way through the various wards, Nancy, the clown had picked up an entourage of doctors, nurses and orderlies who following them from ward to ward. 

After several hours, they came to the last ward which was home to 34 of the worst cases Lee had seen in his life.  He was certain the true meaning of ‘hearts for hugs’ would not penetrate to the hearts of these poor souls but, after several, he learned love has no boundaries.  They received hugs and love readily; patients returned that love as quickly as the person on the street- the meter maid, the bus driver and police officer.

Finally, they came to the last person, Leonard.  Leonard was wearing a big white bib, on which he was drooling.  Lee looked at Leonard and said to Nancy, “No use here, there is nothing that will reach a person like Leonard”.   Nancy replied, “Come on, Lee, he’s a fellow human being, too, isn’t he?”  Then she placed a funny hat on Leonard’s head.  Lee then took one of his little hearts and placed it on Leonard’s bib and took a deep breath and leaned down and gave Leonard a hug.

All of a sudden Leonard began to squeal, “Eeeeeehh!  Eeeeeehh!”  Some of the other patients began to clang things together.  Lee turned to the staff for some sort of explanation, only to find that every doctor, nurse and orderly was crying.  “Why”, Lee asked?  Lee never forgot what she said, “This is the first time in 23 years we’ve seen Leonard smile!”

Why do I tell you this story at this time?  Our world has become so very impersonal. We feel that, if we find that very special gift and wrap it in beautiful wrapping and place a bow on it, it will build a binding love relationship forever. But, stop for a moment and think back to last Christmas, who gave you what?  In our life-time we have learned that it is not the things of this world that we give that makes the heart grow fonder, but rather how I came to the aid of “the least of these my brothers” that makes an immediate deposit in our love bank. A deposit we can draw on for a lifetime!

Our prayer to you this day is that you take to heart the words of Lee Shapiro:  It is such a simple thing to make a difference in the lives of others,  a simple hug at the right moment can change a life.  But then again, my friends, there are no simple “Hugs”.  Let the love of Jesus shine through you.



Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Some Investments Don't Give You A Penny, But Others Have Eternal Value!

”Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow”  (James 1:17).

Hey Gang:  Did you ever just lean back and let your mind rest and let God take you where He wants to take you?   For many years, I wondered what people meant when they said that, when in prayer, God spoke to them.  That has been the desire of my heart since I dedicated my life to Jesus many years ago, but it never happened - at least not the way I heard others say they heard from God.

Then one day I heard an old-salty country preacher say that for many years he had that same empty feeling in his heart until one day, God said, “Shut up and listen!”  Up to that point, in his prayer life, there was very little chance for God to get a word in edgewise.  So, I adopted Moses example of how to talk to God.  Simply stated, he talked and waited!  If you truly want to hear from God, you must share your heart and then patiently WAIT for His response.

While I was leaning back with my mind in neutral, I opened a Guidepost that was lying on my desk and began to do some skimming.  I came across a neat story about a lady who was dealing with depression in her life. Her world had fallen apart, following her divorce, and she was facing Christmas with a great deal of pain and feelings of rejection.   Not an unusual story in this day and age.

Well, it seems one of the ladies M. in her prayer group recognized the signs, as she, too, had gone through a similar valley in her life and knew what it would take to provide a shelter and refuge for their sister in Christ.  M found an excuse just to drop in on her friend and give her a big hug and show her that she, M, really cared and to show her friend that she was loved.

But M did not stop there, she also arranged for each of the other ladies in the prayer group also to just drop in at different times and give their sister a hug.  As I read that story I thought of another article that was tucked away in my endorphin file about a retired judge, Lee Shapiro, who came to the realization that love is the greatest power there is and he wanted to share that new revelation with as many people as he could, so he developed a unique toolbox which he called his 'Hugger Kit'. 

Contained within the 'Hugger Kit' are little red embroidered hearts with stickum on the back.  On the outside of the 'Hugger Kit' is the saying, “A heart for a hug”.  He became very well known for his ‘Hugger Kit’ and was often invited to speak at various social functions.  

On one occasion, he was invited to speak at a conference in San Francisco where he shared his message of unconditional love.

At that conference, he was challenged by a reporter who said, “It is easy to give out hugs here in the conference center to people who choose to be here but this would never work in the real world”.   The reporter challenged Judge Shapiro go out into the street and prove it works.  With  the reporter, close behind, he first approached a lady passing by and said, “Hi, I’m ‘Judge Shapiro’, the hugging judge. 

  I’m giving out hearts in exchange for hugs.  Would you like one?” She eagerly accepted his offer.
The reporter responded “Not a good test, judge, I believe she would have hugged me.”  Lee then looked around and saw a meter maid who was being given a hard time by owner of a BMW, to whom she was giving a ticket.  He marched up to her, camera crew in tow, and said, “You look like you could use a hug.  I’m the hugging judge and I am offering you a hug.”  She accepted and her frown turned to a beautiful smile.

Again, the reporter was skeptical, which many reporters are when they come to face with situations they cannot place a negative slant on.  The motto of the new media is good stories do not sell newspapers.

Well folks, this is turning out to be longer than I anticipated so will cut off the ‘Hugging Kit Story’ here and pick it up in the next blog – BUT, please tune in for the rest of the story; it is a wonderful example of  ”Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow”.



Monday, March 6, 2017

POW! Another Slight Affliction!

“Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet out inner man is being renewed day by day.  For momentary, slight affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:16-18).

Hey Gang:  I have always been amazed that so many people carry a gas can full of fuel with them waiting for the next slight affliction to surface so they can poor gasoline on it and accelerate and intensify its growth. 

It was the norm in most of our parenting classes that we had the ‘agony and pain contingent’, who would shake their heads in affirmative with each point that we would make that might help bring peace into their families whose brains were like wind-tunnels.  BUT new ideas that required any effort picked up speed as they went in one ear and out the other. 

We always had the ‘arms-crossed, stern, belligerent faces’ that sent us clear messages My daddy or mom did it this way and there ‘ain’t nothing in this world going to change the way I am going to do it..  I mean look at me, I’ve been doing it this way for twenty years and it has worked for me!”

In one session, one of those belligerent arm-crossed gents sent a clear message: “I am here under duress and I will put in my time but “ya ain’t got nothing that I am going to take out of this room”.  The topic of the day centered on “Your choice: Agony and pain verses peace and tranquility.  For many that is like a foreign language. 

When he arrived home from the class and turned up the driveway he could hear the boom-boxes booming at the peak of their woofers and twitters.  When He walked into the house it was like walking into a house of bedlam! Suddenly the message of the morning class began to sink in, and he got very smart very rapidly! 

At the following Saturday class Mister Belligerent looked like the Cheshire cat, no crossed arms, no sneers, a smile that consumed his whole face.  When I questioned “What in the world happened to you?” he explained what he ran into when he got home the previous Saturday. He immediately called a family meeting where suggestions of the past suddenly became rules with consequences and he closed by saying, it has been pure joy to come home from work at night.  

Paul talked about being confronted with slight afflictions in his letter to the Corinthians, such things as “Five time I received 39 lashes, three times I was beaten with rods, once stoned, three times shipwrecked, danger from robbers, dangers from countrymen,” etc. etc. etc.  Houses without discipline and order are homes filled with slight afflictions that rapidly turn into ever increasing afflictions when not dealt with.

James tells us: “Rejoice when you encounter trials, it builds scar tissue in your soul that prepares you for the tough days ahead.:  He also included this piece of truth: “Trials make us perfect and complete, lacking nothing”. In other words, if you do nothing to address and fix a slight affliction, when it occurs, it will soon turn into a full-grown alligator that will make your life exceedingly miserable! 

We began every parenting class with a promise: “Within the covers of the Word of God are wonderful suggestions in how to raise your children in a way that peace will prevail in your home – even when they are teens”.  We announced that the teen years do not have to be the tribulation period in your home.  That, if you raised your kids according to Deuteronomy 6:4-9, there is an excellent possibility you would not need one of our parenting classes. Oh, one last points before I say sayonara, a couple thousand kids along the way have said, if they had their druthers they would druther have their parents together, in a nice house that is filled with love and DISCIPLINE (which really means teaching, not punishment!)  



Friday, March 3, 2017

How Is Your gas Supply?

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man” (Eph. 3:14-16).

Hey Gang, Now that you have filled your gas tanks…You have filled your gas tanks, haven’t you?....  Okay, I will wait! 

Now that you have filled your gas tanks, we can move on.  Keep in mind that God has provided all you need to live a truly successful and, even prosperous (not necessarily financially prosperous), life. 

Careful that you do not get caught up in the false teaching of Triple John verse three that is prevalent today in many circles.  That does not mean that He will not provide for your every need according to His riches in glory, but it does mean that you may not be the recipient of many of the bangles and beads of this world. 

We have been blessed to go to Israel on several occasions and, on each occasion, we have been blessed to visit the place where Jesus preached His Sermon on the Mount.  It was there that Jesus gave us the keys to living a victorious life: “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own”  (Matt. 6:33-34).  Can you say amen to that?

And after you have sought His kingdom and His righteousness, one of those fabulous fringe benefits that is added unto you is, “Ask, and it will be given to you, seek, and you will find, knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened”  (Matt. 7:7-8). 

But, there is a prerequisite to this promise: Jesus said, Have faith in God.  Truly I say, to you, whoever says to this mountain, “Be taken up and cast into the sea,” and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him.  Therefore, I say to you, “all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.”  (Mark 11:22-24).

So, my young lads and lasses, the world is a tough road to hoe today, and it is going to get much tougher, as the age of the Gentiles comes to a close.  But we need not fear - because God, through Paul, gave us a wonderful promise in Ephesians six- that, if we put on the armor of God and keep the helmet of salvation in place and sword in hand, Satan cannot tell us from Jesus!

And think about this for a moment or two, Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father in intercessory prayer for you and me. And He stands ready to intercede on our behalf.  Is that not awesome?  You might also want to take-a-peek at Malachi 3:11. Is that not a neat promise?



Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The War Between the Dogs

Our Scripture this morning is very personal to me but too long to print here.  I will leave it up to you to take a few minutes and find a quiet place and read Paul’s words found in Romans 7:14-25.  It is a Scripture I use often for it describes the dilemma’s I frequently find myself in. 

Hey Gang,  On my first tenure at dear old Findlay College there was a tradition where the sophomore class challenged the freshman class to an old fashioned tug-of-war.  They always choose a very wet day when the ground tended to be a wee-bit muddy.  There were few rules and minimal strategies.  The outcome was based on pure brute strength.   

Each side had but one goal in mind, bragging rights for the year.  Plain and simple we wanted to pull the other team into the mud pit.  As much as I hate to admit it, I experienced the ‘grossness’ of the mud pit in my freshman and sophomore years.  Th non-participating members of the two classes, who were not into the grunt game, were the cheer leaders.

It was kind of like the time when Moses stood on top of the mountain and the children of Israel were battling the forces of Amalek.  As long as he held his arms up, the Israelites prevailed but, when they were down, the forces of Amalek prevailed. “But his hands were heavy and Aaron and Hur had to support his arms.  (Exodus 17:8-16).  The cheer leaders were not about to jump into the mud and gab the rope.

It was a very simple exercise and many believe that is what is going on inside our souls! There is a tug-of -war between good and evil constantly raging inside of us; Satan pulls us one way, then Jesus, the other way. Each straining at the opposite end of the rope hoping to pull us in their direction.
We seemingly are like the rope, powerless, just caught in the middle of two powerful forces.  Some days, goodness (the white dog) gets the upper hand and some days evil (the black dog) has obviously eaten its Wheaties and we lose the battle. 

As President of a program that provided young folks, who had made some bad decisions in their lives, with encouragement and a shirt tail to hang onto, it was my privilege to speak in the Chapel Services periodically and one of my favorite themes was: ‘Who is winning the battle for your soul, the white dog or the black dog? Which one are you feeding?”

Paul makes no bones about it, the world we live in has a very strong tendency to throw most of the bones the black dog’s way.  Does that mean he is ready to throw in the towel?  Not in your sweet bippy!  His battle cry is, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Rom. 12:2).  Somewhere along the line, God whispers in our ear, ”My son, My grace will rescue you.”

So, lads and lassies, be advised God’s grace is sufficient to whip the black dogs out of your life, but- you must be aware of your feeding habits – are you feeding the black dog or are you feeding the white dog? Are you starving the one and giving nourishing food to the other by your words and actions?   Be advised the white dog will surely fail, if you only fed him one half hour once a week.