For those of us who have been known to bad mouth (or curse) Presidents Clinton, Bush, Obama or Trump, take note of this Scripture from Exodus 22:28, "You shall not curse God, nor curse a ruler of your people."
My devotional recently focused on how finding God’s will can often be confusing.
It suggested: “It’s sometimes difficult to understand why God does what He does, or why He asks us to do certain things.”
Then it asked: “Has God already given instructions for your current situation that you may not have realized yet?”
I’m thinking on it.
What do we do?
As I wrote and prayed God said, “Just trust Me!”
What does God want?
Again, “Just trust Me!”
Driving to work the other day I spotted a runner coming toward us. "McBarker," I thought. That was our son's running nickname while in high school. This guy from a distance ran just like Van who through junior high, high school and college ran every day up to ten miles.
Which reminded me!
About 32 years ago our family was driving home (to Denham Springs, LA) from a trip to Mississippi. I stopped at an auto parts store about six miles from home, went in to make a purchase and came out. Away we drove.
About a mile down the road I saw a runner with his back toward us. He was running just like Van.
"Hey, Van," I said. "That guy runs just like you."
Not knowing he was no longer in the back seat, I then exclaimed, "That is you!"
My wife and daughter burst out in laughter.
Having settled the issue of where (Blythe, at least for the present) now what?
Oh, and once again a surprise, this time from my wife.
For the last month we have given great thought and study to a new travel trailer, much easier to set up than our present popup, and larger, better equipped. Finally, this last week we went looking. Do you know how many trailers we looked at? Neither do I. But it was enough to choke a horse.
When we settled on a model we liked and began talking seriously to a salesman the price suddenly jumped $5,000 with the need for this thingamajig and that.
Our reasoning was that our popup, which we loved, had outlived its usefulness because of the difficulties in setting it up, especially for my body, and age.
All during this time Shirley kept asking, "isn't there something we can do to make it work easily for us?" My quick retort, "no!"
Eventually we got fed up with the whole mess. Looking back, at least for now, God wasn't in it.
So after one more prompting from Shirley I went to the internet and identified three things we needed to change and replace on the camper to make it user friendly for an out of shape 75 year old. Guess what, for less than $500 we could get installed an electric tongue jack, scissor leveling jacks, and bed stabilizers that worked. Yea!
Now Shirley's not stressed out, and neither am I. For the immediate future we are set. Down the road another camper may cross our path, but this one will be from God, not our efforts.
So, four months 'til departure.
It’s time to crank up the blog again. God’s at work, or at least I’m hearing Him better these days.
My wife and I have decided it is time to retire. I’m 75, she’s 72. We love our part-time jobs, but it is time. In fact, I’ve already announced my date: May 31, 2017.
With retirement we “figured” moving was the next step. Five places, no six, came to the forefront. My choice, Escanaba, MI, where we lived 1984-89. Shirley said only with another wife. So strike Escanaba.
Then came Seattle. We love that place. Lived there 12 years, 1989 to 2001. But, alas, too expensive.
Left to consider were Corpus Christi, where our son and his family live; Waco, TX, where Shirley’s sister lives, and Antioch Community Church is; Titusville, FL, where we lived 1970-1980; and Denham Springs, a suburb of Baton Rouge, where I was a youth pastor and preaching pastor, and most of our ministry support team lives.
And the winner is ….. God!
In a devotional early Jan. 10th I was reminded that one who seriously walks with God “identifies himself entirely with God’s interest in other men.” I stopped dead in my tracks and heard God clearly say, “Now is not the time to move. You still have work to do in Blythe.”
It was a clear word. But just in case I didn’t get it my wife suddenly walked in my office. She’s never up at 5:30 a.m. So I said, “let me tell you what God said to me this morning.” I did, fearing how she might respond. And she said, “I know, God told me that during the night.”
Clear, wouldn’t you say? Later that day Shirley talked with her sister in Waco, “I’ve got something to tell you,” Shirley said. “I know,” said Wanda, “you’re not moving.”
And it’s been pretty much like that these last few weeks.
A couple of months ago my 1997 truck began acting as if in need of a tune-up, so I went to my trusty automotive repair guy. “Head gasket,” he said, “but I don’t do them anymore.”
I knew another guy who had worked on my wife’s Impala in the past. I liked his work and made a phone call but got no response.
Then I went on vacation for three weeks. Upon returning I went to start the truck and got a resounding, “clunk.” Nothing more! Had it towed to my automotive guy where he found water in a cylinder, cleared it out and once again it ran. All this time I’ve prayed and waited on God.
Another name came to me, highly recommended, so I took the truck to him and left it for ten days. I got two estimates, one for a head job, $4,165; the other for an engine replacement, $5,866 (recommended).
My thinking: 1997 Ford F-150 for which I paid $5,000 plus $1,000 for a bed cover, 137,000 miles, pristine condition? Too risky! Can't afford it! Not going to do it. Put stop leak in and I’ll drive it around town until it dies. At least I can pull my boat to the local boat launch.
My trusty automotive repair guy kept hounding me. “I’m thinking now that it is not the heads,” he said, “I believe it is the manifold gasket.”
It was! Loose!
So I’m back in business. No running rough. No water in the oil. Zero dollars! The only thing I have is a God who cares.
Jesus said go and make disciples, baptizing them and teaching them to obey the commands of Christ, adding "and lo, I am with you always..."
As a discipler I have focused much on those words but failed to fully comprehend the final phrase.
What does the promise of His eternal presence mean? At minimum, it means I do not have to...
In her devotional Jesus Calling, Sarah Young writes: "We teethe on this truth...then stumble through life in a stupor unaware of His presence."
Holy Spirit, make me fully aware of the daily benefits of your presence.
I use numerous devotionals in my daily quiet time. My focus these days is Jesus Calling by Sarah Young and Daily With The King by W. Glyn Evans, an iPhone ap named TruthPacker and the Bible.
I am blessed and challenged daily. But today (June 16) was another story. I had a head-on collision with God. Both devotionals closed out with Micah 6:8 -- "He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."
I thought, "good stuff." The passage was not new to me. Of course I struggle with all three areas at times, extending justice and mercy, plus walking humbly. But, basically, mercy is a cake-walk. I am a merciful person.
As I thought on extending justice and walking with humility God questioned me about mercy. Some of the things that came to mind:
Then I thought of the mercy that was extended to me by a highway patrolman who is now a friend and my church small group leader. I was doing 80 mph on a paved road near my house out in the country.
"What were you thinking," he asked?
It was time for the truth. "I washed my car in town then discovered I didn't have enough change to buy a rag and dry it off, plus I found I didn't have my billfold. So I was drying off my car as I raced home. I live right down there (pointing to my house)."
I didn't ask for mercy. He gave it anyway. We talked about 20 minutes and he sent me on my way. No ticket! Just mercy!
I want to be like that to others, those I know and those I don't.
The best of times and worst of times -- the last 15 months of my life. I wouldn't swap it for anything.
Hard? Yes! But the presence of God has been so real.
He is sovereign. His plans and choices for me are right. Nothing and no one comes to me without His approval.
Everything is designed to drive me to the end of self, that Christ might be my life.
God is the "only constant and reality" in my life (Jesus Calling, Feb. 2; Psalm 138:8)
Thank you Father.
Memorial Weekend 2011 was memorable, not as I discovered but as God had chosen.
We camped in the White Mountains of Arizona. That was good.
The wind blew for three days, 40 miles per hour with gusts to 68. That was not good. Couldn't use the stove or grill. So no dishes. We ate out.
As we went to bed the first night we discovered the two batteries on our pop-up camper were dead. That was not good. Fortunately I could connect my C-pap machine to the car battery. That was good.
All day Saturday was spent crawling into spaces my body objected to, pulling out batteries, buying one new battery and exchanging another under warranty. Not good! I put it back together and went about my business (good, I thought) -- until 9 p.m. when I discovered DC wasn't working. I had reversed one wire and blown a fuse. But I had more and in a few minutes all was well.
God cranked the wind level up even higher on Sunday. No sitting out. So off we went to a packed Denny's and then the late service at Calvary Chapel in Pinetop, AZ.
I came to read, sleep in my chair, and stare into space as I meditated on God. It didn't quite happen that way.
In the past I would have been bummed. But not this time. I chose to be content (Philippians 4:11). And I thanked God (1 Thessalonians 5:18) for the change of plans (Proverbs 16:9).
I went away blessed (Psalm 1).
I am dumbfounded.
I received this note yesterday from the church I led in Seattle for 12 years (I’ve now been away for more than nine):
Dear Van and Shirley,
We felt led this year to select you as our Christmas family, to bless you as God led individuals to respond. We trust that you were blessed by your Christmas celebration and we pray for a fruitful year to come.
Love in Christ,
Your brothers and sisters at Grace Fellowship
I wrote back:
Thank you for the note, for the generous gift, but most of all for helping to restore my faith in the church.
I am grateful to God for what He has done at Grace Fellowship. God bless you all.
May He “enlarge the place of your tent; stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, spare not; lengthen your cords, and strengthen your pegs.”
It is one thing to be the pastor of a church, subject to both hiring and firing. It is quite another to be considered family.
Thank you Father for making us one with You, and one another.
Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart… 1 Peter 1:22-25
When I read the Bible, the Word of God, I encounter truth. Truth is what I am to live by. When I obey the truth my life is changed.
The renewing of my mind affects everything – what I think, what I believe, what I want and ultimately, what I do.
The love that I express becomes pure, at least in comparison to what it once was. My soul is changed. My love is changed. My relationship with others, especially those in my spiritual family, approaches wholesomeness. My love moves from a lukewarm state to a fervency that I can express to others.
Not because of what I’ve done, but because of what He has done. Birth inspires new and different activity, whether physical or spiritual. We are never again the same.
These are just some thoughts as I journal through 1st Peter.
Things are not always as they seem.
Take for example the story of Joseph. He told his brothers, "You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good."
A dog driving a car brought this thought home yesterday. As I drove north along the Colorado River, headed to town, about 100 feet ahead a car stopped on a perpendicular street. A dog was driving. Yes, a dog. I did three double takes. Then I realized my eyes had played tricks on me.
The car was driven by a thin, elderly man with long stringy hair covering his face. Sitting next to him was a dalmation. The long pointed nose protruded past the man's face, right at the hair level. I wish I had a picture. Words can't describe it.
That goes for a lot of stuff going on in our lives too!
When I find a good eating place I tell everyone who will listen, and those who won't. There are too many bad restaurants to not shout from the rooftop about the good.
When I find a "honey hole" -- that's Southern for great place to fish -- I tell people, even those who don't ask. I can't help it, and it has been known to get me in trouble with fishing buddies.
Likewise on great travel spots or camping areas.
In other words, I like to share what I know. That is my passion. It drives my desire for discipleship.
So here's one for you.
Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, TX is as good as it gets.
I have listened to my son for seven weeks extol the magnificence of that place. The attitudes, the caring, the consideration, and the medical knowledge and treatment are beyond imagination.
Here is Van's latest comment:
"BAMC is an unbelievable place - they are very accessible and are all about patient care. I can't gush enough about how great of service and care we receive there. Anything I say pales to what really happens - people recognized me (or us) in the hall, and asked about Barb, etc. This is all the more remarkable when you consider how much trauma they see. Amazing."
It's great to expose BAMC for what it is.
If God knows what I need before I ask, then why ask?
Consider Oswald Chambers' answer in My Utmost for His Highest, Aug. 6.
"The idea of prayer is not in order to get answers from God; prayer is perfect and complete oneness with God. If we pray because we want answers, we will get huffed with God. The answers come every time, but not always in the way we expect, and our spiritual huff shows a refusal to identify ourselves with Our Lord in prayer. We are not here to prove God answers prayer; we are here to be living monuments of God's grace."
How many God things can I recall from the crisis our family has faced these last four weeks? I don't even know them all. But here are some random thoughts:
Barb (our daughter in law) was awake and alert after being run over by a truck while riding her bicycle on Ocean Drive in Corpus Christi on July 11. She told police who her husband was and gave them his phone number, despite being crushed and broken from her hips to shoulder blades.
Sometime after the accident a trauma nurse at Brooke Army Medical Hospital (San Antonio) told Van he didn't think she had a chance when brought in. God had other plans.
Through a series of events Van Jr. met the orthopedic radiologist on Barb's case. He showed Van all the xrays and commented that with her type of accident and with the fact that both shoulder blades were broken, normally the victim does not survive. But God was there.
The children were allowed to visit Barb in the hospital, except 9-year-old Hannah. She was too young. But on a Saturday they came back and the ICU crew slipped her in to see her mom. God is good.
While we were tending the five grandchildren Van Jr. took Sarah, 12, to a school open house. Hannah wanted to go too -- desperately. But we didn't allow it. Needless to say she was bummed. She wouldn't speak to us. Thirty minutes after her dad and Sarah left the phone rang. It was Barb calling to speak to Hannah. It gave me an opportunity later to talk to her about the sovereignty of God. You might think "sovereignty of God," 9 year old, Chinese, English speaking less than a year, but let me tell you this girl is smart. She may not have sovereignty down pat, but I guarantee you she remembers the word. A God thing? You bet!
Daniel, 14, failed his football physical because of blood pressure of 160 over 80. We thought the problem was the Monster drink he had that morning, but after withdrawal he flunked again two days later. I asked him how he was doing with his mom's accident, on a scale of 1 to 10. About a 7, he said. We talked. God was part of the discussion. He processed. Blood pressure dropped immediately to normal range and he passed his physical.
I'm glad the atmosphere at 234 Bayridge Dr. in Corpus Christi is permeated with the sovereignty and grace of God. It gives me confidence.
God's plan is good -- very good. Even when it includes the tragic hit-and-run of my daughter in law on her bicycle.
It is coming up on four weeks since Barbara Compere Savell, 42, was hit from behind by a black truck going "at least 60", according to the only witness. The fact is she should have died instantly. Four broken vertebrae in the back, injured spinal cord, crushed right chest, counless broken ribs, crushed right hip ball and socket, two broken bones in left leg, broken right wrist, internal bleeding, and both shoulder blades broken. But God went before her and she lived.
Four surgeries later she is slowly recovering, about to be transferred from Brooke Army Medical Center (San Antonio) to rehabilitation at Spohn Shoreline Hospital in Corpus Christi.
The outpouring of prayer across the country has been unimaginable. The Body of Christ has responded. Van Jr., our son, texted one day "if only the Body would pray for missions as they have prayed for Barb." The support, care, and love from the church in Corpus, and the biker club, has gone beyond what any should expect.
Life will never be the same. Not for Barb, Van, their five children, or any of us! Yet God is good, and the end result will be "good," because that is God's promise. And I don't mean a step down good, but rather a step up to the next plateau in life.
The exiles in Babylon fit one of three categories: (1) No hope, (2) false hope, or (3) true hope. Our hope has been based on the revealed Word of God, for we know God has a plan, a good one.
Do we hurt? Yes! Have we experienced God's grace? More than sufficiently.
How wonderful to have the kind of life guarantee God provides. Otherwise we would be crushed on every side by the circumstances of life.
A friend expressed concern over the number of church activities where food stuffs had been consumed in our worship center. There had been the 50th anniversary dinner, two senior graduation breakfasts, a Valentine's Day reception, and a wedding reception.
As I listened I thought the problem was the possibility of food stains on our new carpet, which have at times concerned me. Until the topic moved to people who bring drinks into church on Sunday. Then my questions and the answers revealed that the real problem was respect for God.
We had a lengthy and somtimes heated discussion of the issue.
I thought I should list what people do in church that makes others think they disrespect church. Here's a partial list:
Do you have some thoughts?
We (Christians) love to dis people unlike us.
That's a shame.
Reading Richard Wurmbrand's book Tortured for Christ the other day I stumbled on an astounding statement. It made me cringe, tremble and gasp.
"Atheists are men who do not acknowledge the invisible sources of their life."
Wow! Talking about fingers pointing back to me (us)!
Do we ever refuse to acknowledge God, His Spirit, His Word, His power in our lives? What does that make us, at least for the moment?
Miss California got dissed for standing up to what she believes is right. She may not be Miss USA, but she is certainly one of the starring daughters of the King. I'll bet the Father is proud, even if Perez Hilton, Keith Lewis et al are not.
Carrie Prejean is a winner. How do I know? Read 1 Peter 1:13-16 as I did this morning.
"Prepare your minds for action (she had), keep sober in spirit (she was), fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ (she did). As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in ignorance..." (She did not revert back.)
Such was not the case for Hilton and Lewis. They let their feelings and prejudices get ahead of the constitution. They want rights, they just don't want to give them.
I agree with Miss California. I don't agree with Hilton and Lewis. But they all have a constitutional right to their opinions. Miss California just paid for hers, or maybe God spared her.
It doesn't make a lot of sense but I've been grieving all day -- for Kenny Perry and his loss in the Masters Golf Tournament.
I usually pull for someone (in golf) or a team in basketball or football, but the a loss has never affected me this way. I have actually hurt. I'd like to be able to say my grief was for Perry, who at 48 probably won't have another shot at winning the Masters, or any other major, but it wasn't. It was for me. I wish I knew why.
Lord, give me a sense of what is going on.
I am delighted God gave me a second chance. I certainly needed (need) it.
I am delighted I don't have to figure out how to get right with God. Jesus is the way.
I am delighted to have obeyed God's plan for my life, for the most part, at least.
I am delighted at God's call.
I am delighted by His love.
I am delighted at the people He has surrounded me with. What a blessing!
I am delighted there's more to come.
Thank you Father!
Jesus hangs on the cross. His life appears to be ebbing away. He has been verbally abused, taunted, challenged, tantalized with the possibility of greatness, mocked, spat upon, and beat. It is now His time. With a legion of angels at his beck and call, Jesus turned His back on the world’s way and chose His Father’s will. Hanging there He cries out, “Into Thy hands I commit My Spirit.” He gave up His life. They didn’t take it away. Willingly Jesus jumped into the arms of His Father. Jesus put his postmortem future in the hands of His Heavenly Father.
Where is your trust?
Throughout our lives we rely on all sorts of things. We begin life fully dependent on our parents. Along the way we trust teachers, doctors, lawyers, pilots, spouses, presidents, police officers, friends, pastors, and, of course, our selves. But in the end there is only one place for ultimate trust. In God, and God alone, through His crucified and resurrected Son, Jesus Christ.
Manley Beasley, a Texas evangelist who for years suffered from three terminal illnesses while experiencing great pain, declared, “Sink, or swim, live or die, I commit myself to Jesus.”
The prophet Habakkuk declared, “Though the fig tree should not blossom, and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail, and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold, and there be no cattle in the stalls. Yet, I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places. (Habakkuk 3:17-19)
And Job declared, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” (Job 13:15)
Sunday's coming! What’s your declaration?
I cringe when asked, "How's the church?" I don't like where we are. Neither do the people! But I can't let the circumstances reflect where I am day by day.
I realized this morning it is okay to be happy or sad, up or down, on top of it or underneath, as long as I remember God never changes and my real abiding place is in His City of Refuge.
Thank you Father for being all I need.
Well, the election is over. So, in conclusion...
Our current president, the honorable George W. Bush, is not the cause of all our problems. He is, however, the cause of most of our discontent. Refusing to seek popularity, he instead sought to do the best he knew how under the circumstances. My belief is that time, and maybe only eternity, will reveal how much he led us to do was under the direct will of Almighty God.
Now it is up to us to cover president-elect Barack Obama with prayer. He will need it. We need it. Mr. Obama is not the solution to our ills. Only God is.
Let us pray...
and I visited Porter Mountain Fellowship in Lakeside, AZ.
This three year old church is going to have difficulties unless it learns to greet one-timers with the same passion as locals. Otherwise it will grow to become a local church club – “no girls allowed.”
This makes me want to suggest some ways we at First Southern can better relate to our guests. Here are the steps:
· Introduce yourself.
· They will usually reciprocate.
· Ask where they are from.
· Respond if you can identify, i.e., you are from the same state or have been there, or know someone.
· Let the conversation grow naturally.
· If they seem uneasy, back off graciously.
· Tell them to make themselves at home.
o Answer questions about the church.
o Identify problems they might have had.
o Get their name again.
o Invite them back.
o Show true interest in them.
After the service follow up with anyone you greeted.
For a small town far removed from the mainstream of Southern California
I was born and lived in the south where it was black or white, rich or poor.
I ministered in southern Louisiana
Here in Blythe my wife and I have been blessed by relationships with such a diverse group of people – Hispanics, Koreans, Blacks, and Caucasians from so many places.
As a southern journalist who covered much of the racial unrest of the 1960s I had some understanding of the struggles of blacks and whites. But I had no concept of the problems Hispanics have faced over the years.
Our time here has been a wonderful education in the Hispanic culture. To which I can only say, “Wow.” And “thanks!”
Shirley, my wife, has had a special impact on the community through her work at the Sheltering Wings Thrift Store. Her caring heart and penchant for remembering names has torn down walls of division for many people here. God is pleased when we actively love and accept people despite differences.
This has not been a good last five months. It could have been, but I got in the way.
We moved from our 3,800 sq. ft. ranch house to a 1,040 sq. ft. house on the Colorado River. We call it our Beach House. And it is a lovely setting. But culling has been another story. And at 66 it has been exhausting.
I've done too much griping and complaining and too little thanking God. In other words, I've blown it. I've repented.
Good times are ahead.
A friend told me recently he was wrestling over a problem with Christian. God impressed him to talk to Steve, a wise friend who he hadn’t seen or heard from in months. Later that morning he pulled into a service station and there at the pump next to him was Steve. Steve was in a hurry and didn’t have time to do anything other than say hello. But as he drove away he shouted back, “If you can’t do it out of love, don’t do it.”
As my friend meditated on Steve's comment he asked himself, “How much pain can I take and still love?”
What a question?
Doesn’t that point us straight to Jesus? At the very moment of his death, Jesus looked down on all those involved in bringing him to the point of death. He offered them forgiveness. Pardon! Clemency! Mercy! Absolution! Exoneration!
The people may not have fully understood what they were doing, but we know what they did.
They beat Jesus, spat in his face, humiliated him, forced a crown of thorns upon his head, made him carry his own cross, and then they executed him.
The typical response of a condemned man dying on a cross was words of hatred and bitterness. But Jesus shouted words of forgiveness, “Father, forgive them...”
By speaking forgiveness God treats all who repent as if the offense against Him never happened. We are to go and do likewise.
How much pain can you take and still love?
My apologies for not writing, but I'm knee deep in alligators.
I have two editing/writing jobs past due, and we are moving. Not out of Blythe, but from one house to another. Financial considerations have driven us from our 3800 square foot home on the Fisher Ranch, five miles from town. Our new abode is almost a fourth the size, but we call it our beach house. It is located on the Colorado River within the city limits.
Posts will be sporadic until after the first of the year. We're having the entire family for Christmas, and then we move prior to New Year's. Prayer would be helpful.
I was delighted to learn of the University of Mississippi's selection as the site for the Presidential debate on domestic issues next year. What a difference 44 years can make.
Ole Miss made headlines in the fall of 1962 with the enrollment of James Meredith, the first black to ever attend the school. Read An American Insurrection: The Battle of Oxford by William Doyle.
As a journalist with The Associated Press, I spent a year on the Ole Miss campus covering the integration story. See Breaking News: How the Associated Press Has Covered War, Peace, and Everything Else, pg. 95-97.
Since those days a black has been elected President of the Student Body and a former football star, NFL player and law professor, Dr. Robert Khayat, has strongly led the University to recovery and prominence on the Southern education scene.
Refreshing, isn't it?
I recently stumbled on John Ortberg's book, Everybody's Normal Till You Get To Know Them." Wow! This is good stuff, a masterpiece on relationships or, as he puts it, community.
He describes his book: "This is...about how imperfect people like you and me can pursue community with other imperfect people."
If you'd like more tidbits like this before buying the book check out my listing of quotations on Tumblr. You will ultimately buy the book.
Are you trying to get something done through someone else, maybe a spouse, child, or colleague, but having little success? Roy H. Williams, the Wizard of Ads, has some thoughts in his Monday Morning Memo.
"Great coaches are great," he says, "not because they were superstars, but because they know how to awaken the star that sleeps in each of the players around them."
He then suggests a 7 to 1 ratio of encounters.
"Great managers look for things to praise in their people, knowing that it takes 7 positive strokes to recover from each negative reprimand. Think about it. If seven out of eight times we encounter our boss we receive an authentic, affirming comment, a bit of happy news or a piece of valuable insight, we love to see our manager coming down the hall. But if our encounters with the manager leave us deflated, discouraged or scared, our hearts will sink when we see them coming."
Check out the rest of Roy's post, Ronald, Bill and You.
"That which Israel was seeking for, it has not obtained,
but those who were chosen obtained it,
and the rest were hardened."
I did not choose God. He chose me.
Raised in a Christian home, attending church every Sunday and Wednesday, I remember no conscious interest in relationship with God. That weekday I went to the revival in Merigold, MS because everyone was doing it. It was a way to miss two hours of school. I was eleven years old and little did I know that God would meet me that morning.
We were singing the invitation. I suddenly knew I was a sinner, that I was lost, and my eternal destination was hell. Right now I can see in my mind's eye exactly where I stood in the downstairs fellowship hall -- right side, half way back. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I was tagged. There was no getting around it.
I went home from school that afternoon. I remember it was stormy. Heavy rain had filled the ditches. I went into the house and told my dad, and the revival preacher, what had happened that morning. They led me to complete my decision. I made it public that night.
My choice? Yes and No!
I could choose whether or not I would obey the call of God. But it wasn't my choice of Jesus. It wasn't even my choice to get saved. It was God's choice. His call! Mine was to obey.
I didn't do anything. Salvation is not by works. It is by grace, and God was gracious to me. I just responded to His draw.
Thank You, Father
I really don't care what you are doing. I should, but I don't! And if the truth were known, you don't care what I'm doing either.
Sounds awful, doesn't it?
Why don't I care? Two reasons!
And that is the same reason you don't care.
By the way, this is the same reason most of our prayers go unanswered. We don't know the One to whom we pray.
If we don't know one another, then it is impossible to know what each of us is going through and, generally, we don't care about what we don't know.
This is true of our relationship with God. If I'm not intimate with Him then I won't really know His desires for me or the Kingdom, and therefore I will be unable to pray according to His will. That is why Jesus taught us to pray beginning with our relationship with God: "Our Father..."
Three more thoughts:
They call it the Gaius Guest Ranch after John's friend in 3 John 1, 5-8. It's a magnificent place of hospitality. I rate it ***** five stars. Nothing less! About 120 miles north-northwest of Spokane, Washington.
Words can only attempt to describe the experience -- quiet, restful, stunning setting, great scenery, encouraging, zoo-like.
Check it out. Supper is prepared. It is tasty and ample, with lots of meat. The facilities are comfortable. They certainly met our needs for sleeping, food preparation, reading, praying, and visiting. The caretakers, Gerry (Ike) and Dede Eickerman, are servants. They give you space and yet are there when you need them.
And best of all: There's no one else there but you and your spouse.
If you get antsy you can drive north 20 minutes to Northport or south 45 minutes to Kettle Falls. The Columbia River (backwaters of Lake Roosevelt) are five minutes down the mountain with plenty of places to relax or fish. And no matter which direction you arrive from you've already been blessed by the beauty of God's creation.
Gaius Guest Ranch! Five stars! I recommend it highly. I'll certainly be back, maybe in the winter this time. Check it out
Our days are a mixture of good and bad, great and small. Such has been this Tuesday in the mountains of northeast Washington.
A cool, cloudy morning has turned to a warm, sunny day.
There are two Jerrys at the Christian guest ranch where we are staying -- one the owner, up for the week from his home in California; the other the resident caretaker.
The owner took us for a ride this morning, to a 20 acre plot of land high overlooking Roosevelt Lake on the Columbia River. What beauty! He described his plans for turning it, also, into a place where those in ministry can rest and relax. Wow!
The caretaker came back from town after lunch, gathered my wife and I up, and took us down the mountain to see a momma bear and two cubs playing in an apple tree alongside the road. Somebody beat us to them -- two hunters. They shot one cub as we pulled up. The other escaped. What happened to the mother is unknown. What a sickening sight!
Isn't that just like life. Lord, help us!
I'm sitting here in the mountains of northeastern Washington, far from civilization. The only thing that comes to mind is that old commercial, "Mmmmmm! Boy! Almond joy!"
The view is magnificent. The air is chilled. Deer and wild turkey abound.
We're on vacation at a place called Gaius Guest Ranch. They take only one pastor or missionary couple at a time. We have a neat cabin with a loft, a kitchen house next door, a fishing pond nearby, and a host couple who cook dinner for us each night.
It is eat, sleep, read, talk, and spend bunches of quality time with the Father.
Wish you were here!
Pets are nice, especially man's best friend. But there is something wrong when a country gets up in arms about dog fighting and cruelty to animals, yet smiles at the abortion of babies in the womb.
Michael Vick did wrong, but he didn't kill a baby.
Our response to this issue indicates how far we -- the United States of America -- have fallen.
Dogs or babies! Breaks my heart!
Thoughts from 1 Thessalonians 5:18 -- "In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
The scene was the Senior Center Thrift Store in Pinetop-Lakeside, AZ. Shirley was inside. I was sitting in the car.
Out came four people, all scruffy in appearance, not at all attractive in dress or mannerism. One lady appeared about 60, skinny as a rail. Another had scraggly hair, dyed red, with numerous bald spots. The only man was strange looking, misshapen, apparently handicapped, both mentally and physically.
My eyes followed them as they crossed the parking log. They got in a station wagon with a fish symbol on the back. The man drove.
I thought: These are not exactly the kind of people I'd choose to relate to. But God would! So why shouldn't I?
A recent research project reveals that one-fourth of the homeless in our nation believe in God and carry on a strong prayer life.
That fits with the teaching of God's Word. He rebukes the arrogant (those who think they have it all together and know it all), but He looks with favor on the humble-minded and the downtrodden.
Jesus came to preach the Gospel to the poor, proclaim freedom to prisoners of sin, recovery of sight to the blind, and to set free the victims of oppression.
God has opened wide the door of His Kingdom to those who are destitute and helpless in spirit.
Aren't those the people to whom we should be ministering?
What a special day Sunday! The Spirit of God was so present. There was...
I have set the Lord always before me:
Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.
What does it mean to "set the Lord always before you?"
It means to relate everything to your trust in God -- sickness, death, financial ruin, rejection, adultery, etc.
The Psalmist says (16:8) that God is at our right hand and the result is astounding: "I shall not be moved."
So are you recognizing this fact?
In every circumstance do you turn to God, your right hand man?
Remember, what you choose to focus on becomes the dominant influence in your life.
(This is a synopsis of the last in a series of messages on Intimacy with God. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for the complete text.)
Have you ever wondered why many of your prayers aren't answered?''
One of Jesus' closest disciples, James suggested two reasons: Asking wrongly, or not asking at all.
It is certainly true that God wants to hear from you and me, and that He wants to answer us when we cry for help. Over and over Jesus said "ask" and "He will give it to you."
The problem is asking wrongly.
Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! It's never worked on you and it doesn't on God either.
But a request out of closeness generally works. The more I know God because of our intimacy the more I am apt to recognize and request His desires. They become my desires.
The Lord's prayer spells this out. It is broken into two parts -- first stuff and second stuff. First stuff is relationship (Our Father), worship (Holy is Your Name), and unity of purpose (Thy kingdom come).
God wants relationship. It is the basis for our communication with Him, and our communication with Him is the basis for our level of intimacy.
(This is the second of a series on Intimacy with God. E-mail email@example.com for complete transcript.)
I thought the other day, "What's the use? I quit!"
And that's not the first time.
There is an open door.
He called me.
Whatever is accomplished here is His doing, not mine.
The God who blessed Moses, Joshua, Elijah, Peter, James, John, and Paul is capable of working out His purposes through my life.
Don't give up!
God's commissioning guarantees success -- if obeyed.
He is at work. And so is His Son.
I think I'll join them.